Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I have no intention of making this blog spot a political platform, but every now and then one has to give vent to one's spleen.  Don't you feel sometimes that certain prominent citizens of your own country make you feel embarrassed that they are prominent citizens of your own country?

Here's the actual footage...

Monday, October 21, 2013


There are occasions when a best laid plan 'gangs agley' in rather a pleasant and surprising way.  I don't do surprises well, but this one was ... out of the blue, really: a fine late spring morning.  My friend Gary dropped by with a box full of soldiery that, as he explained, he knew he was going to do nothing with.    He reckoned they might go well with my 'Jono's World project.  Well...

 A glance inside the box seemed to convey a strong impression of quantity, to say the least.  After riffling through it for a while, I took a few days before having a more thorough sort through. 

The first thing to bring a smile was this 'mint in packet' 'Good Ol'  U.S.A. vs Red COMMIES set.  I'm not sure I will have the heart to open this up, though I discover the 2006 date of manufacture on the packaging.  Who knew the Cold War was still on-going?  Now that I think of it...

 A rather crude transporter vehicle might just make the cut into my Orotina or Tchaigai Imagi-nations project - we'll have to see.  But the frogmen were interesting.  Clearly a naval or riverine sabotage or demolition squad of four teams: Gold, Green, Red and White...

 This amorphous pile hides a bunch of 'Cowboys and Indians' types, of which more anon...

 Organising some figures by colour: two greens, brown and grey.  With a few commando types, by the look.  But if each of these piles were counted as a company, we'd have a whole battalion here.  
 But wait: there's more.  These are obviously knock-offs of Airfix and Matchbox WW2 Germans.    Quite a lot here, including two light and two medium machine guns.  These will probably end up in the service of Raesharn, though it's just possible they'll go the Saabia instead.
 Cowboys: 4 mounted, I think 8 on foot.  The horses are very crudely cast and don't stand at all well.  That may be sufficient to persuade me they would be best employed as draught horses towing artillery, say...  I forgot to take a separate photo of the distant Native North Americans, who have a similar ratio of mounted to unmounted.  Not sure what to do with these...

A general view of the box of goodies, with some items hoicked out for a closer view ...

Spetznaz types, and British Commonwealth.  It's almost a pity the Spetznaz are in this scale - I could have used smaller ones in my Tchagai Army.  The Commonwealth types seem to be an eclectic bunch of 8th Army, Australians and parachute troops, and no huge numbers of each.

The Russians do say that 'quantity has a quality all of its own.'  It's easy to see why!  The piles I've created have made a dent in the pile hardly discernible among what remains.

These guys seem to be sailors, two of whom are carrying live gun shells. They will no doubt serve in one of the armed services as shore battery personnel, or as artillery.  I'm thinking Kiivar.  It's navy decimated in the early stages of the war with Raesharn, shipless matelots volunteered to serve as artillerists in the Kiivar army.  Kiivar badly needed expert gunners...

 Spetznaz - a better view.  I will probably use the SAM and RPG-7 guys as models for the same in my Tchagai army.

Vaguely Japanese types mixed with some rather orphan chaps in colours different from those of the big piles.  They will probably end up as Omez troops - allies (auxiliaries, really) of Raesharn.

A closer view of the British/Commonwealth types.  None too many of these.  They will become Kiivar, perhaps a semi-regular volunteer unit.

Australians.  There is a very high proportion of radio operators among these few, but most will be gainfully employed in various Kiivar HQs.  The useful Vickers/Maxim type MG will serve as a model for scratch built additions to the Kiivar Army...

The following picture illustrates the mix of scales that predominates throughout this collection.   This I think will rather add to its interest rather than otherwise.  The 8th Army guy's base snapped off when I tried to straighten it...
 Parachute and commando types - none too many of these.  I think they will combine to form a specialist 'Para Commando 901' - Kiivar's elite.  Raesharn will have the equivalent using modern style figures.

Interesting items these, though somewhat orphaned.  The figures look about 28mm scale - they are certainly larger than the usual 20mm war games figure, yet way smaller than their brethren pictured so far in this posting.  They look quite good in this scale.  The other thing is some sort of rifle.  I have considered using it as a vehicle mounted MG of some sort, but the stock seems too 'rifle like' to be convincing.

A rather peculiar array of crudely designed and  manufactured aircraft, The helicopter and the top jet aircraft might prove useful... For the rest... Dunno.

I'll conclude here with a closer view of our rather free form flowering cherry.  The purple tree behind it is across the street, and the foliage beyond that is from the avenue over...  Thanks Gary: you made my day.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Russians are coming... slowly...

Ekaterinburg (nearer camera) and Apsheron Infantry
advancing in echelon.
A few weeks ago I posted some pics of Revolutionary/Napoleonic Wars Russians, and a rather historic licensed Highland battalion.  Since then they have progressed.  Almost finished, withal, and some other figures almost begun...

I don't know what manufacture of soldiery these are - 28mm, fairly roughly sculpted but plenty of character to the figures.  The many advancing poses, and several cheloveki without hats leads to quite an animated unit - rather different from my usual Napoleonic battalions.
 I believe these are more in the way of Revolutionary Wars Russians, still with bicorne hats for the musketeers and mitre caps for the grenadiers. At that, I have taken some liberties with history by placing a 4-figure grenadier company in each of the battalions.  History be damned: the units together make a fine Brigade (or Division with an Army level rule set I have in mind).
Russian infantry battalions in line.
 The 73rd (Perthshire) 'Highland' Infantry are very nearly complete, but for clox on sox and chequers on the bonnets.
 I have mentioned before my method of skewing downloaded paper flags (using the Microsoft 'Paint' software), from a oblong to a more lozenge shape - a parallelogram - in order to improve the way they 'drape' from their poles.  This does have the effect, I suspect, of making the end result a little darker than it might be.  There are a number of ways one might tackle this, but one method might be to 'stretch' the flag in the fly - make it a little longer horizontally - before skewing.  10% seems about right.
73rd (Perthshire) Highlanders.  The dark green
Regimental colour looks almost black in this picture.
 Looking at these pictures show that some touching up is indicated along the edges of the flags.  Look how dark the regimental flag is!

 These two confrontational pictures show clearly, I think, my method of rendering the tartan.  Rather than try to paint the whole thing, I took what I considered to be a 'representative' section as the basis for the whole. Instead of two (or more?) rows of blue squares, there is just one. On the whole I was quite pleased at how the thing turned out.

Meanwhile, back in the USSR I mean Russia the remains of the Corps is still to do.  To begin with, a rather understrength unit of Jager, from the Minifigs 25mm range.  The green of their uniforms is rather darker than it ought to be, perhaps.   

 Below I have begun by undercoating the two Grenadier (St Petersburg and Brest-Litovsk) battalions.  I include these to show my recently adopted method.  Previously I preferred to undercoat in white and then outline in black before beginning painting.  This method took a little time but there were two upsides to this. First was, that once this was done, the figures would be already looking interesting, and it kindled enthusiasm for continuing painting.  The second was that accurate painting was a lot easier.
Unfortunately my eyesight rules that method out - you need good binocular vision, I find.  So now I black undercoat, and then by whisking - almost dry brushing - over with white, I can pick out the details.  This means I can actually see them, but also means that the applied colours won't be dulled - except where required - by the underlying dark undercoat.
Only two ranks of the above column have been so treated so far.  In the background, the flags the battalions will receive (nicely contrasting, methinks).  They have been downloaded from Napflags and the obverse and reverse skewed as you see here.  The centre - pole - section has been moved up.  This has left those white vertical lines you see, but they can be blacked out, or left as is, as I decide.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Toys: Part 2.

Jono's World project
Along with the inventory of shiny things for the Harad affair, Brian brought around a bunch of things that were over-scale for his projects.  However, they seemed to be adaptable for the 'Jono's World' project in some way.
 Two dump trucks and a garbage collection vehicle.  Great for infantry transports or maybe road construction.  The GCV could have part of its rear removed leaving the rest as a tilt.  I'll have to investigate that.

 This trio is interesting.  I did have vague notions of constructing a 'cartooned' airfield, with airstrip, control tower, and dispersal bays.  The addition of a fire service vehicle and a couple of aircraft transporters seems just the deal.
 The Raesharn aircraft sit quite well on the carrier vehicles.  Observe the bomb stowage  above the rear wheel mudguards.
  In addition to the 'airfield' vehicles, the one in the background seems destined for the Corps of Engineers.

The two hoppers can be emptied by opening up their floors.  Looks a whole lot like road construction to me.  At any rate, this chappy will be the beginning of the Engineers' train.

The Fort Knox truck will become a battalion or battle group HQ vehicle, with aerials added.  
 An amusing feature of this vehicle is the combination locked rear door. As there are only 9 possible combinations (111 to 333) it didn't take long to open the thing (empty - just like the real Fort Knox).  I don't think I'll remove that feature, somehow...

And now for something completely ... different.  Here are three Air defence... 'pods' with quadruple AA cannon.  Obviously intended to be towed, they will require some kind of motive force - probably light trucks will do.  They can be scratchbuilt.
Harad project
Yesterday, Brian and his buddy, Kyle, turned up with some more shiny things for the Army of Tchagai.   Not this heavy truck, though.  That came from a toy sale at a well known toy store about a year ago.
 A bit of a surprise was this rather nice tank - a ROCO Chieftain.  As ROCO is quite a small 00 scale (1:87), it didn't 'fit' with Brian's inventory, and doesn't look that much like a Chieftain MBT anyhow.  We thought that we might make a persuasive case of its being an example of a private commercial venture Vickers MBT.  Now, these AFVs were a kind of 'junior Chieftain', if you like - about 90% the dimensions and 80% the weight of the Chieftain itself.  So I call it the Vickers MBT Mark 5 'Victor' tank (I'll look up the Urdu for 'Victor' to give its Tchagai cognomen).  So far as I can make out, there never was a 'real life' Mark 5 'Victor' in the Vickers tank production history.
 The pick were these nice looking APCs.  Brian thought the roof top MGs on the 4-vehicle row were considerably over-scale, and suggested they be replaced.  Although I agree on the over-scale thing, I don't think I'll have the heart to remove them.  They'll still count as a VMG.  On the 4-wheeled green number, it appears that the gun-thing was really part of a fire-fighting water or foam projection unit.  They'll stay a VMGs as well (I may remove the ends, which look like muzzle brakes.  On the other hand I may keep them as 'flash suppressors').  The rocket launcher chappy is a welcome air-defence (?) vehicle.  The 1st Rapid Response regiment is starting to look the real deal!  The attached MBT platoon will give it that extra little bit of 'heft' ...
My notion of having 3 figures per stand having met with stern disapproval from Brian and Kyle, it looks as though the Tchagai battalions will comprise 4 rifle companies (instead of my projected 3) plus a HQ company, like the British model.  Something like this;
Infantry battalion:
HQ Company with: Command stand, Signals radio stand (or vehicle), Anti-tank gun stand (?), 2 ATGM stands (splittable into 4 'patrol-sized' ATGM team stands), 1 AARL stand,  2 MMG stands, 1 recon infantry stand (splittable into 2 'patrol' stands.
A,B,C,D Rifle coys, each with:
1 command stand, 3 infantry stands.
All infantry stands have integral RPG-7 ATRL.

Perhaps that will be a topic for the near future...

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.