Monday, October 7, 2013

Toys: Part 1...

The other day, I received a shed load of toys that were surplus to the requirements of a fellow wargamer and blogger.  Thanks, Brian!  Not overfond of resisting temptation, I accepted quite a lot of them, and now find myself somehow involved in Brian's Empire of Harad project.  Among other things.  A lot of what came my way was over-scale for his purposes but looked as though it would 'fit' quite well with my 'Jono's World' project.

But let's see what came my way.  First, for this posting, an overview of the toys that will become part of the Army of Tchagai.
 Motorized Battalion:  After a bit of discussion and further thought,  a tentative organization seems to be:
HQ: 1 command stand, 1 utility command vehicle, 1 staff radio vehicle (the Humvee), and 1 'heavy' technical (probably air defence).
3 x Motorized Infantry Company each with:
1 command stand, 2 infantry stands, 1 'weapons' stand; 1 light truck, 1 medium truck, 1 'heavy' technical (with some sort of RCL or something), 1 'light' technical (HMG, perhaps).

At first the trucks were going to be all 'lights' but I noticed a number of 6x4 or 6x6 vehicles in there.  As they were also a whisker bigger than the others, it seemed not unreasonable to make them mediums carrying 2 infantry stands.
Motorized infantry battalion in the service of the Nabob of Tchagai
 Next is the 'Rapid Response Reconnaissance Battalion'.  I see this unit as a 'seek and develop' force, there to uncover the enemy but also to force him to develop some of his strength.  At present it comprises:
HQ: 1 command stand, 1 command utility vehicle, 1 recon AReconV (This is a locally designed and built 'Bagheera' light tracked AFV, bearing an astonishing resemblance to a miniaturized Panther tank).
Recon Company: 3x Saracen APC, 1 command weapons stand, 2 recon infantry stands (both of which may be split into patrol stands).
Assault Company: 2x APC, 1 command weapons stand, 1 infantry stand.
'Stryker' Support Company:  Not until 21st century I discover to my horror.  There will have to be something else in the 'big gun' armoured car line for earlier.
The Rapid Response Recon Battalion, in process of forming.
The Saracens and the 6-wheeled APC have received a grey undercoat...
The third item is an Artillery Regiment comprising 4 batteries each with 1 stand, and 1 prime mover.
HQ: 1 command utility vehicle.  I'll need to form at least one Forward observer team as well.
What to use as artillery? British 25pr gun/howitzers were mentioned.  I am very tempted to form a composite formation comprising 2 field batteries, 1 medium battery and a medium (120mm) mortar battery.  That might mean a lot of observer teams, though...
Prime movers and command vehicle of the Artillery regiment.
 These 3 heavy trucks I'm not sure about.  They could carry 3 infantry stands apiece, and therefore the best part of a battalion all together.  But I may just leave them as is, to be commandeered when a second battalion is needed at the front.
3 heavy trucks.  How best to employ them is the question.
 Finally there remained this little collection (see infra).  The paramedic vehicle will I think be retained in its humanitarian role, probably with a Red Crescent symbol within a white roundel on the roof.  The 6-wheeled truck will become a staff radio vehicle perhaps, though I'm also thinking of the container as a truck-carried temporary HQ for that purpose.  The tilt also requires a truck underneath it, but it doesn't fit the one available.  The boat trailer is also unclear as to future.  One assault boat doesn't seem especially useful (I could be wrong), but local air defence might be an option.  At any rate, what we are looking at here is the 1st 'Mechanized' Brigade HQ...
Brigade HQ... A lotta work needed here!
 Finally, not included in the pile, were these specimens that have been sitting in my 'man drawer' for the last yonk or two.  I think they were meant to be Walker Bulldog tanks.  Could they be resurrected as tracked recon vehicles?  Seems doubtful, I have to admit.
Can any use be made of these?
Of course, what is really wanting is armour - main battle tanks.  I was thinking something a bit different: French AMX30s.  But given the variegated collection obtained so far, this seems to me to take eclecticism just a bit too far.  I'm now thinking in terms of Soviet T-55 tanks.  I was a bit reluctant at first to accept this suggestion of Brian's, but research indicated quite a few countries have these still in first line service.  As most of Brian's project is set in the early 1980s, then it would be more than appropriate.  (I have sat in a T55, and I'm here to tell you they ain't what you'd call 'roomy'!)

It was while sorting through this stuff that Brian and I discussed what the map of 'Greater' Harad and its environs would look like.  Here is a tidied up sketch of the 'Middle East' as we envisaged:
I was thinking of reorienting the map with the west end at the top, the Arabic directions being exactly the same as on the map - with 'north' (شمال) pointing to the right. But the thing seemed simpler to leave as is.

Among all the toys were seemingly hordes of WW2 Russians. In each of the nine containers pictured are 31 figures - 1 battalion, less 'weapons', assuming I can place 3, instead of the standard 2, figures on a base.  Of the rest, there must be at least 2 more such battalions, and plenty left over (especially the 'miscastings') for gun and mortar crews and the like.
 Omitted from the above pictures were these two rather cute die-cast metal Shermans.  I had some thought to adding them to the 5 ROCO M4A4 Shermans that currently serve as a Medium Tank Battalion in my Soviet Army.
 These plastic Shermans are very nearly as big as the Airfix M4, and were certainly almost of a size with these Chinese metal numbers.  But it seems to me we might also be able to accommodate these guys in the Nabob's army as kind of second line armoured forces.  Whence comes to that, I have several T34/85s that (with post-WW2 upgrading) might form another armoured battalion.  So the elite 1st Mech Bde I'm thinking will get a 5-tank battalion of T55s (1st Armoured Battalion), and be supported by the 2nd Arm'd Bn (Shermans - dating from a time when relations between Tchagai and the Union of American States were more cordial than later they were to become), and the 3rd and 4th Arm'd Bns (both T34/85).
 While I think of it, some time ago, Brian flicked my way a metal King Tiger, pictured below.  The running gear is kinda wrong, and the scale seems a rather small 1:76 (more like a 1:80, I suspect), but it will be a useful addition to my German army at any rate.  The tank commander we called Roland, as he resembled the headless Thompson gunner of the same name.  Roland Mittoutkopf I called him.  A Matchbox grenade guy gave his life to provide Roland with the necessary extra features once more to face the enemy...
 Slightly underscale as I suspect this AFV to be, he still has a certain presence in the face of herds of Sherman tanks!  Roland's head transplant was secured by drilling holes in the trunk of the original, and up the neck of the replacement head, and inserting and gluing a short length of modelling wire.  It looks a bit rough, still, but a paint job should sort that.
 I will probably replace the gun - or modify it at least.  Just to confirm my impressions, I compare the 8.8.cm L/71 with one of my Matchbox Jagdpanthers.
 The final two photos I think confirm it beyond doubt.  The gun needs to be lengthened somehow.

My thanks to Brian (A fist full of plastic) for this vast increase in my inventory.  And a new project to think about.  The 'Jono's World' stuff I will show in another posting.

Acknowledgements:  My thanks and welcome to the 94th (James Fisher, FINS) and 95th (Son of York) followers of this blog.

22 comments:

  1. A great collection which is filled with potential.I look forward to seeing what develops...

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    1. Plenty of potential all right! So much so that a fairly modest concept for Tchagai seems likely to blow up into a serious threat to Haradian security on the eastern flank. ...

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  2. Glad they are of some use!. The Battle King King Tiger is 1/76 - but the gun is a little short! I can hook you up with some Esci Spetnaz if you need some AK armed troops. The map looks good too!

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    1. Actually, I reckon Spetznaz dudes would be just the go for my 1st Mech Bde. For the rest I'm thinking of building up a sizeable army with outdated equipment (the Shermans and T34s) and employing that fleet of trucks I use with the Soviets by way of a transport pool for my other stuff.

      I'll look up if I can find any TO&E details of some army 1950-1980 to see what weapons are integral to the platoon stands, and what specialist stands I can build in (Mortars, ATRL, assault engineer equipments and the like).

      By the way, I have a scenario I'd like to run by you sometime. Based on an actual incident, it would I think be ideal for this project.
      Cheers,
      Ion

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  3. Fabulous collection! The trucks you have earmarked for the motorised battalion look remarkably similar to the ones I used for a 1940 French Motorised Infantry Division... I have one of those dodgy metal shermans - let me know if you need it. As for the two very dodgy Walker Bulldog tanks, you simply must use them! Your readership demands it!
    The bigger trucks look to me like the logistic element of your brigade.

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    1. That is a good point about the logistic element. I seem to recall Brian making some such remark as well. I dd have a sizeable collection of 'el cheapo' trucks in Soviet employ that will be suitable for this project and all. No harm in using them for either project. I'll have to make sure they are easily retrievable!

      I'll see what can be done with those ... 'tracked recon vehicles'. I'll probably lose the turrets but keep the guns and hulls and add plasticard to fill out the gaps.

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  4. A very nice collection indeed. Back in the day vehicles like these were constant accessories for my battles on the living room floor.
    The trucks could be made to some sort of 'gunships' or mobile MG nests perhaps.

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  5. Thanks, Andras. was thinking of placing 106mm Recoilless rifles on the larger Company (technicals) trucks, and an HMG (0.50 cal, say) on the smaller vehicles. The Battalion technical perhaps would carry some sort of AA cannon. I'll have to find out what seems reasonable.

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  6. I am going to be watching posts on this project with anticipation Ion.

    Nicely done Brian.

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    1. I'll have to put some work in on it then! I'll probably be looking through your archives, Paul, for some ideas...

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  7. You have a lot to work with there.

    I suggest converting those Walker Bulldogs into self-propelled mortar carriers. Something like an Israeli "Makmat" 160mm mortar carrier. You can use sheet styrene to put it together. Instead of 160mm mortar, it can be 120mm. They can be part of your composite artillery units.

    Chris

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    1. Food for thought there, Chris, thanks! As a wargamer, I find history 'stops' at 1945, so there is a great deal I don't know about military hardware post that date. I'll probably trawl through my past magazines and see what turns up there. But I do like your mortar carrier idea.
      Cheers,
      Ion

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  8. Nicke bunch of vehicles and figures. Maybe the heavy trucks could haul some engineers? If you do remove the turrets from the Walker Bulldogs, stick them on a piece of terrain as a make do pillbox.

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    1. I have a feeling, Mike, that the engineers, possibly up to a battalion strength (Command Decision scaling), will get one of the heavy trucks at least. That stray tilt may cover a light trailer of equipment as well. Or I can investigate the possibilities of that boat trailer.

      I do like your 'pillbox' suggestion: 'waste not, want not.' I can imagine the uneasy situation along the Harad frontier will persuade the Nabob that such measures are necessary at border crossings...

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  9. Hi,

    You could base the forces on the Uganda-Tanzania war of the late 70s. I think they used some Shermans and had a smattering of Cubans with modern-ish equipment. I have some esci modern figures floating somewhere too.

    Cheers
    Paul

    Cheers
    Paul

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    1. I must look into that. Was that the war that led to Idi Amin's dictatorship of Uganda? I do know that Cubans were involved in the wars in Angola and Namibia, and their equipment included upgraded (?) T34/85s. Altogether, I have enough basic figures and toys - the latter by raiding my WW2 Soviets - to put together a sizeable army, albeit a primitively equipped one by 1980 standards.

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    2. >>Was that the war that led to Idi Amin's dictatorship of Uganda?

      Close :) Amin attacked Tanzania in 1978/79. Bad mistake as the Tanzanians (along with Uganda exiles and help from Libya) gave his forces a stuffing and he was forced to flee from power.

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  11. True - When I was in Mozambique I remember passing a lot of rusty damaged T-34s.

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  12. Cool toys, Matchbox rocks!

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    1. ... Ain't that the truth! I quite liked the Matchbox WW2 kits as well (barring a distressing tendency to the occasional glitch). The pictured Jagdpanther model is such a one.

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  13. excellent stuff Ion. really cool additions. I like the map. I believe Fran and Ray used the same area of the world for their map although theirs was flipped horizontally and vertically if I remember correctly.

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