CDS Arab-Israeli: Israeli AA Half-Tracks

A break from painting Hoplites to carve into the Arab-Israeli section of my lead mountain.

Those who pay attention will remember that I bought a whole load of kit in anticipation of playing a few games based on the 1973 Yom Kippur War rather than the 1967 Six Day War. The lists have been produced (available free in the CDS section of this website…although keep your eyes peeled as I’m about to update them with some extra info received from fellow Lardy Richard Naylor) and all that was needed was some of the new equipment available in 1973.

For the Israelis, this starts with a couple of units almost guaranteed never to get onto the table!

The first is a platoon of M3 TCM-20 Anti-Aircraft half-tracks:

These are very nice models: really easy to put together and paint. I sprayed them with GW Death Forest Green, washed in GW Agrax Earthshade, then highlighted and painted the crews and equipment. Only half of them have the aerial recognition “T” on the bonnet: I ran out of decals and will have to do the other two at a later date.

Okay, so maybe I’m being a bit harsh about the AA half-tracks never getting onto the table…but I’m almost certain that this next lot are fated to spend their lives “in the box”: jeeps with TOW launchers.

As their minimum range in CDS terms is about 6½’, they will either have to lurk right at the back of the table (I can manage 8’ at a push) or be some kind of table decoration. Perhaps I’ll play a Space Invaders scenario i.e. a mass of Egyptian tanks charging one or two Israeli TOW-mounting jeeps. Might be fun.

Battlefront BTR-60s

I’m still working my way through the extra Arab-Israeli forces I bought in the Battlefront Fate of a Nation 25% off sale. My aim was not so much to reinforce my existing Six Day War forces, but more to add what I needed to re-fight actions from the Yom Kippur War too.

The latest example of this is the Battlefront BTR-60 APC company for the Egyptians/UAR:

These are lovely models that go together and paint up really well.

I now have three different paint schemes for the Egytians/UAR. I have a terrible grungy brown colour for the ex-WW2 tanks and assault guns; a quite bright yellow for the Soviet 1967 vehicles; and this very pale yellow (the most historically accurate of the three!) colour for the Soviet 1973 kit.

Anyway, these are highly recommended. Just one word of caution: the gun barrels are quite fragile: just take a little care when either clipping them from the sprue or dry-brushing.

T-62 MBTs

Regular visitors will know that I am adding appropriate units to my 1967 Arab and Israeli forces in order to also be able to play the 1973 Yom Kippur war. First up are the Egyptians, who can now field a platoon of T-62 MBTs:

These are Battlefront plastics in 15mm: part of their Fate of a Nation range.

The models go together well, although the downloadable instructions could be a little clearer: I went badly wrong when building the first turret, necessitating some fairly dramatic surgery later, but fortunately the damage doesn’t show.

Apart from that, recommended.


As Battlefront had another sale on their Arab/Israeli range (25% off this time) I thought I’d better take advantage and add the appropriate figures to allow my 1967 Six Day War Egyptians and Israelis to continue their fight into the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

First off the painting table is the ZSU-23-4 "Shilka": a lightly armored Soviet self-propelled, radar guided anti-aircraft weapon system.

These are lovely models that really take the paint well.

From Wikipedia:

“The acronym "ZSU" stands for Zenitnaya Samokhodnaya Ustanovka (Russian: Зенитная Самоходная Установка), meaning "anti-aircraft self-propelled system"; the "23" signifies the bore diameter in millimeters; the "4" signifies the number of gun barrels. It is named after the Shilka River in Russia. Afghan soldiers nicknamed it the "sewing machine" due to the sound of firing guns. It is also referred to by its nickname of "Zeus", derived from the Russian acronym.”

I’ve already got the ZSU 57-2, which has got two enormous guns rather than four little ones, and I was originally a bit confused as to why four smaller guns would be better than two big ones. The answer is that the ZSU 57-2 had no radar sighting system, couldn’t fire on the move, and couldn’t carry enough ammo to allow for worthwhile sustained fire. Obvious when you think about it!

Apparently the Shilka was very successful, and actually led to a change in NATO tactics. Let’s hope that holds true when I field them for the first time.

Israeli Yom Kippur Lists Updated

Just a quick update to the Israeli lists really to bring them in line with the format/look of the Egyptian lists that I posted earlier this week.

What's changed? Well, the only real difference is that I've expanded the details on aircraft and anti-aircraft assets, and added a pictorial front cover. So worth downloading again.

Next up will be the Syrians.

CDS: Egyptian Lists for the 1973 Yom Kippur War

I've now had a chance to finish and post the second set of FOC army lists for a 1973 Yom Kippur War Charlie Don't Surf! expansion: the Egyptians.

This list covers all the various incarnation of infantry and mechanised infantry company, along with their supporting armour, air defence and artillery.

It also covers the possibilities of the initial assault across the canal, where the Egyptians were working to a well-practised fixed plan, and includes the slight variations for commandoes and paratroopers.

As always, let me know if you find any inaccuracies:

Fire Support for the Egyptians

A quick check on the Battlefront website confirmed that they are currently still running the 25% off anything to do with their modern Arab-Israeli range, so I thought I'd indulge and buy myself an early birthday present.

As I'm currently working on the Egyptian briefing for the 1973 Yom Kippur or October War, I wanted something that they used if only to inspire me to keep hacking my way through all the contradictory and incomplete information that's out there...but what to get? I got most of what I needed some time ago as I put together forces for the Six Day War.

Up to now, I've saved myself a lot of money by avoiding buying anything that would usually sit off-table (i.e. many support weapons and all artillery) but this time couldn't resist the lure of the BM-21 "Grad" (Hail) multiple rocket launchers.

These are cracking models that come in a pack of three. I say models, but what we're talking here is six large bits of resin: three vehicle bodies and three clumps of rockets, if that's the right word to use. This was a very good thing, as I'd been dreading building a traditional set of Battlefront models e.g. fixing 18 metal wheels to a resin body using those slots that never quite fit properly. So the entire build was done in about 15 seconds: blob of Superglue in the hole where the rocket clump sits, push rocket clump into place!

Painting was pretty easy too. Spray yellow basecoat, wash with GW Agrax Earthshade, then highlight in desert yellow. Paint the tyres (the worst bit of the whole process) and then a heavy drybrush to weather them a bit. Finally I did the glass blue with a few dashes of white; and then black-inked the top of the rockets to mimic the sooty residue left after firing. The bases were done with GW Armageddon Dust texture (basically thick paint with little bits in it: a marvellous invention that shortens the basing process by miles) highlighted with GW Screaming Skull and finished with some bushy clumps also from GW.

God knows what I will use them for on the tabletop:  they can shoot 12 miles! I think probably as scenario objectives i.e. have them in hardpoints at one end of the table protected by infantry and a few dug-in tanks, and send an IDF force to take them out.

You can read more about the Grad at Wikipedia, here.

Cost, including discount, at time of purchase: £17.25. Recommended for your collection, even if you never get them onto the tabletop!

CDS: IDF Lists for the 1973 Yom Kippur War

The first of the briefings, covering the Israeli Defence Force, for using Charlie Don't Surf to fight the 1973 Yom Kippur War is now live on the Yom Kippur War homepage.

A tough list to put together, as the sources of information are often contradictory. I can't see why someone who knows can't just post somewhere on the Internet a proper, unadulterated TOE, unadapted for any game system, for an IDF infantry company (mechanised, paratrooper or motorised) in 1973. Someone must have one!

So, as is the usual TFL practice, what I have done is construct a list for an infantry company (mechanised or paratrooper), plus a list for a tank company, that I think is pretty representative of what was actually fielded at the time.

Happy to look at any other information that people have. Either comment here or e-mail me at the usual address (

Wyevale Winter Trees Bargain

For those of you who hadn't noticed, many garden centres are selling off their winter model Christmas trees.

I had heard about this wondrously cheap way of acquiring snowy terrain for the wargaming table, but hadn't actually seen the proof of the (presumably Christmas) pudding.

Until now.

The wife of a friend picked up the above Battle of the Bulge, winter wonderland forest for me for a mere £13.50: and that's for sixty-one trees! A bargain, and they look to be good quality as well.

For me, unfortunately, this was a false economy, as I now need to buy myself a snow-scene mat for the top of my gaming table...

A Pond...a Very Nice Pond

Second piece of loot from Colours was a pond from Debris of War.

This is shown here with a couple of bases of Polish infantry for scale purposes.

Lovely bit of kit. Not on the Debris of War website, so I'm assuming it was made up just for the show. Whatever, it cost me £10.50 and I'm very happy with it. DoW also do movement trays, resin walls, the odd building: lots of different stuff really, well worth a look.

Expect to see the pond appearing in many AARs to come! 

15mm Buildings from Minibits/RedVectors

First of the loot from Colours: some slightly different buildings to round out my Russian village.

Hadn't seen these before: they are a selection of five laser-cut MDF buildings from a company called RedVectors that market through


As you can see, there are two different houses, two different open-fronted barns, and a pig pen with fence.

They go together very nicely (not quite as nicely as the 4ground or Sarissa stuff that I have already, but very nicely all the same) and are a great way of adding a bit of variety to your hamlets.

How do they directly compare? Well, I prefer the 4ground roofs, and I think that the RedVector houses look a bit gingerbread, but the open-fronted barns and big pen are just fantastic. Here's a couple of comparison shots with a 4ground Russian shack:


Yes, they look a bit different...but not enough to matter on the 15mm wargames table. I shall probably use the barns and pigpen all the time, and save the houses for when I need to represent a hetman's hut or something different to the run-of-the-mill shacks.

As regards price, the five buildings together cost me £18, or about £3.50 each. 4ground come in at a whopping £8.50 for one house, down to about £7 each for their collections. Yes, 4ground are "better" (more detailed, I prefer the roofs) but £18 for five buildings is a really, really great price.

Incidentally, the RedVector/Minibits buildings also come in a ruined variety, at £15 per pack:


In all, these get a huge thumbs-up from me: a change to the 4ground buildings; I love the open-fronted barns and pigpen; and the price is excellent.

Highly, highly recommended.

More Goodness from MBA

Regular visitors to this site will know that a month or so ago I took advantage of the 50%-off Miniature Building Authority sale to order some 15mm terrain from the US. See the post by clicking here (will open in new window).

I was so pleased with the buildings, and the fact that the 50%-off made them affordable to buy from the US, that I decided I'd better get some more in order to make my middle eastern town a bit bigger. A few clicks later, and I had another of the compounds and four more little houses on the way.

Whilst I was on the site, a couple more of the buildings caught my eye, and I duly ordered some of them too: manufacturers take note: all you have to do is get me there!

First up is the sawmill. Great little building this, and ideal for one of the scenarios in Bashnya or Bust! Unfortunately, the site said it was out of stock, but an e-mail to Kirk (good man that he is) led to him uncovering one deep in the recesses of the warehouse.

A nice little building, quite distinctive, that comes with a couple of piles of wood (okay, so they are a bit pants!) and some fencing to make an outside area. Loving this: will make any wooden Russian town or village a bit more interesting.

The next thing to catch my eye was the MBA Russian church. I'd coveted one of these for some time, but the problem is I already have at least three (it might be four, I deliberately forget!) Russian churches. If I bought this one, I was well on the way to having enough to portray a different church in each of the various towns and villages  in all 32 of the Bashnya and, indeed, all the Vyazma, scenarios as well. I definitely did not need another Russian church.

So here is my new MBA Russian church proudly sitting on the tabletop:

Another lovely model that comes with two gold crosses for the steeple: a really nice touch as I am bound to break or lose one over the next few years.

Here are the two buildings together rather than in isolation, and you can see the new middle eastern kit behind them as well:

So how did the financing work out this time?

Using an exchange rate of $1.30:£1.00, here's the calculation, rounded to single units for ease of consumption:

  • List price: $290 (£223)
  • 50% off: $145 (£112)
  • P&P:  $85 (£65)
  • Tax: $36 (£28)
  • Total Paid: $266 (£205)

So a saving of around £20...and I have some very nice buildings that are usually only available (due to cost) in the States.

The MBA sale is still on, click on the banner below to visit their site. Please mention VL if you do end up buying: I've already received one angry e-mail from a spouse about the money spent by her other half the last time I posted about MBA!

New Battlemats Arrive

One of my impulse purchases at Salute this year was a couple of battlemats from Tiny Wargames. As my tables are 6'x5', I custom  ordered one of the South Pacific coastal mats and one of the planet Mars mats, both cloth only, paying £150 for the two, including p&p.

Arriving home yesterday, well within the 21-day custom order time given by Tiny Wargames, I was greeted by a good sized package containing the two mats...and they are cracking!

First up, the coastal mat. Okay, so I could have got a slightly bigger one made (that's my fault!) but the mat looks fantastic and I cannot wait to try it out.

Here's a few pictures without any other terrain on board, just a couple of Japanese landing craft:

And here's the Mars mat: again looks great...and it makes me almost sorry that I've homogenised all my sci-fi troopers onto grass bases.

So a couple of recommended purchases there, and I shall be treating myself to a winter mat once the finances have recovered.

MBA Middle Eastern Town Arrives

Some of you may have read the news that terrain manufacturer Miniature Building Authority is moving out of the 15mm space and, as a result, selling of their stock of 15mm terrain pieces at 50% off list price.

The MBA buildings are the ones that come painted and in two halves: put the halves together, you have a pristine building, but take the top half off and you have a ruined building. Ideal for IABSM when you're trying to show a building rendered unstable by artillery fire!

I've often lusted after their stuff, but as they are in the US it hasn't been economical to buy any. With the sale, however, it seemed to be worth having a punt, despite the shipping and tax I would have to pay. I duly contacted Kirk at MBA, we sorted how much the postage would be, and I ordered a complete middle eastern town for my desert war and 6DW collection.

After I'd paid the VAT, Parcelforce duly delivered a big box, which unpacked as follows:

Very nice looking and I'm very happy with them. So happy, in fact, that I've gone back and asked for more!

Anyway, what I'm sure you're all interested in is the financials: how did it work out.

Using an exchange rate of $1.30:£1.00, here's the calculation, rounded to single units for ease of consumption:

  • List price: $316 (£243)
  • 50% off: $158 (£122)
  • P&P:  $88 (£68)
  • Tax: $59 (£45)
  • Total Paid: $305 (£235)

As you can see, although I didn't really save any money (£8 or $11!), the sale made the buildings cheap enough to import. Given the quality of the products, well worth investing if you ask me.

MBA are also discounting some of their 28mm buildings. For those interested in either scale, you can click on the link below to visit their site. If you do end up ordering anything, please mention Vis Lardica when you do so.

Egyptian Infantry Support for the Six Day War

I picked a box of these up some time ago in one of the many Battlefront sales, but hadn't got round to painting them. A delay, however, in an order of Poles gave them the window needed to get onto the painting table and, once there, they were quickly finished.

It's a platoon of three IS-3M ex-Soviet main battle tanks now in UAR service for the Six Day War.

Something else for the Israeli's to blow to, er, Kingdom Come!

A Rather Useful Tool

I was in my local Games Workshop the other day, stocking up on various paints after the Christmas break, and was idling chatting to the store manager about various painting techniques and the like.

As I was popping a pot of one of their texture basing 'paints' onto the counter, I happened to mention that I used old paint brushes to apply the texture. Ah, said the manager, you should use one of these:


Now I'm all for having the right tools for the job, but this seemed a bit excessive, especially as that finely carved bit of plastic will set you back £5.

However, I was using up a voucher, and had enough left over to indulge, so I thought I'd get one and try it out...especially as I was fully expecting to be disappointed and have the opportunity to be suitably obnoxious about it next time I was in (what is it about GW stores that make me want to be obnoxious? I don't know: but it's true of all of them!).

Anyway, turns out I was wrong. I used this to base the Israeli half-tracks I posted about yesterday, and it really makes the job a hell of a lot easier that using an old paint brush, even when you attempt to carve said old paint brush into a suitable shape. I would go as far to say that that bit of plastic is the best thing as a basing tool since, er, sliced bread.

So, as compensation to GW for being prepared to doubt their products before I've even tried them, I'm posting about their tool here, and recommending one to everyone who needs to smear a bit of basing material onto a base!

6DW: Israeli Anti-Tank Jeeps

As an alternative to the reconnaissance platoon featured yesterday, the Israelis can field a platoon of anti-tank jeeps. These are basically a jeep with a 106mm Recoilless Rifle fitted on top of it. 

Now this seems a little crazy to me. I can understand sticking a RR on top of a jeep in order to give your infantry a bit of bunker-busting support, but to actively promote said jeep as an anti-tank vehicle? Well, as I said, I think you'd have to be very, er, brave, to take on a UAR T-55 tank, or even one of the ex-Soviet WW2 vehicles, in one of these!

A platoon of four anti-tank jeeps. Figures are from Battlefront.

6DW: Israeli Reconnaissance Jeeps

These have been sitting on my painting table for some time, and only a concerted effort over the Christmas break got them finished.

As always, however, the most difficult part of the painting process was actually starting: once I'd put the first bit of paint on the first jeep, everything flowed from there.

So, an Israeli reconnaissance platoon for my Six Day War force: four jeeps containing two squads of infantry. Figures are from Battlefront.

Battered Old T-34/85s

More painting done!

Having promised myself I'd concentrate on the Poles, I immediately took a quick break from early WW2, and smashed out a platoon of T-34/85s for my Six Day War UAR/Egyptian army.

I got these via the Battlefront 40% off sale, which I think is still on for the next couple of days, otherwise I would have gone for plastics again...but these are nice models: suitably hefty.

I've painted them the way I painted the other ex-Soviet WW2 kit in my UAR army: just the same as a more modern tank, but then covered in one of the Games Workshop technical washes to give them a real "twenty years old and a tank the Soviets don't want any more" look.

One thing to note: one of the models (the one on the left, furthest from the camera) came with one side of the hull broken off. You can see the left hand track is very visible, and is visible all down the side of the tank.

Now I do love Battlefront vehicles (I have literally hundreds of them, possible even a thousand) but their quality control sucks! Yes, I could have e-mailed in and got almost an immediate replacement but, as I've said before, that's not the point: get it right first time!

I'm still waiting for the gun barrel that was missing from my Polish AT guns: that's been four days and they have missed their slot in the painting queue! That's four Battlefront purchases painted this week, with two needing a replacement part. Not very good, to say the least!

As it happens, this wasn't a problem for me: the tanks were supposed to be battered, and this one is just more battered than most...still not the point, though!