Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Under lockdown...

Irregular Turcowaz Sipahi face Ruberian Lancers.
Much to my surprise, not a lot is happening chez moi on the war games front. Ideas occur for campaigns and battles (of which more anon) and for a new 'cartoon' navy, which is probably not a very good idea, however fun it might be. This posting follows on from the previous three to begin with - a project that began from small, modest beginnings, into something pretty near global.
Recently on my cutting board.  Spare Airfix Foreign Legion
figures as artillery.  The leaning back guy looks to be
tugging the firing lanyard.

Having last year fought a couple of battles - more or less historically based, though disguised into a period 40 years previous, upon General Townshend's disastrous 1915-6 operations in Mesopotamia - it seemed to me that the BLUE OPFOR, the Turcowaz, ought to have an army of its own, rather than  Azurian (BLUE) ring-ins. The Turkish Army of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 seemed to me designed for the task. Turns out that though Strelets-R make the figures, they aren't that easy to get hold of.   Only the foot Bashi-Bazouks seemed to be available.

Well, that's a start. Paul threw in a half dozen of Turkish sipahi from a couple of centuries earlier - great for irregulars, and colourful withal. Between them they could make for all kinds of Turkic or Arabic tribes people dwelling in the more obscure parts of the world. Eventually we found some regular foot in the Strelets-R 'Thin Red Line' Pack.  

Irregular Turcowaz sipahi.
Now they have all been painted up, the TURQUOISE Army presently constituted as shown in the following pictures.
Turcowaz Army.

Turcowaz Army

1 Army Command stand
3 Regular Infantry Units with
     1 command stand, 3 rifle stands
4 Irregular Infantry Units with
     1 command stand, 3 warrior(?) stands
1 Irregular Cavalry Unit with
     2 sipahi stands

To be added when the opportunity provides;
1 Regular Cavalry Unit with
     1 command stand, 3 cavalry stands.
2-3 Artillery Units with
     1 gun, 2 or more crew.

At the moment a spare regular command stand can substitute for 1 gun crew, and a Krupp type of gun perhaps scratch-built. This army is certainly 'fightable' as it presently stands. The 'Units' might represent anything from companies to Divisions, though they will probably be seen more often as battalions or brigades.
Turcowaz army, yet to be supplied with more modern artillery.
And so it will - sometime soon. I hope.

The circumstance is that Major-General Scarlett's Ruberian expedition into the Medifluvia has been stopped by the Turcowaz Army, and retreated to the scene of their first victory at Hak Al Kumara. There he has permitted himself to become besieged, giving vent to strident appeals to higher command to effect his rescue. Rather than leave the stranded army to stew in General Scarlett's juice, that higher command cobbled together a second expedition, under Major-General Ezekiel Rust to attempt the relief.
Even in its unfinished state, this army is ready for action.

This circumstance brings me to the serendipitous inclusion of the following unit into the Ruberian (RED) Army. The 'Thin Red Line' box contained a couple of sprues of Highlanders. A dozen of the figures being sufficient for my purposes - I wanted no more than 1 unit, 'Jacko' (who had put the order in on my behalf) got the other dozen or so. It so happened that the 7th Division relief column of 1916 included a couple of Highland battalions.  I had been thinking of making them into something vaguely Hellenic, but changed my mind.

In painting the 'tartan' on the kilts, I again used my 'sample' technique that I used for my Napoleonic highlanders, which, I think, turns out surprisingly tartan-like. To my eye, anyhow. Pictured is the Dearg Highland Infantry. The flag is, of course, the Cross of St Andrew, with the Cross of St George in canton.

Dearg Highland Infantry in the service of Ruberia.

And now, folks, for an abrupt change of subject. 

Lately I have been thinking more and more about where I'm going with my WW2 armies. So I have begun a wholesale reconciliation of my Russian army, with the view of building as many 6-stand units of the 'Not Quite Mechanised' type as I can with what I have available, supplementing them with 2-stand SMG, and possibly other, subunits. The 6-stand units will be battalions, regiments, brigades or Divisions, depending upon the scale of action. In their Divisional role, though, I'm thinking of adding a 76.2mm field piece or 122mm howitzer. 
My Soviet Infantry - most of what I can find, anyhow...
Below is most of my Soviet artillery to date: 3 76.2mm anti-tank/ field pieces; 2 122mm howitzers (one is semi-scratchbuilt, the other a metal model), and 4 152mm howitzers. 
Most of my Soviet artillery.  I'll probably be building a couple
more of my scratch-built field guns.

The nearest is an older type with the 'shark-fin' muzzle brake that I made a week or so ago. It is based on a spare Airfix British 5.5-inch howitzer, with the gun barrel trimmed back and replaced with one from a Plastic Soldier kit. The gun shield and elevating (?) wheel were added on. The shield is wrong, but looks right to my mind - a very acceptable piece. A bit of weathering and highlighting/ shading should finish it off nicely.
Latest inclusion to my heavier Soviet ordnance: an older pattern
(M1937) 152mm gun/howitzer.  A quick kit bash with a
cardboard gun shield.

What I have in mind is Operation Dolgorouky, some time in mid 1944, pitting a couple of Soviet Armies - one Rifle, one Shock - against a single Panzer Corps. Dare I rope in Bob Cordery's 66th Army - a facsimile thereof, slightly reorganised - as the Rifle army? The 6th Shock Army will be the one with most of the teeth.  I'm tempted to call the pair collectively the rather small 'South Pripyat Front'...

On the German side, XLIX Panzer Corps will comprise 1 Panzer Division,  1 Regular Infantry Division, and 1 'Grenadier' Division - a formation a trifle weaker than the regulars. Their front line position will be dug in, wired and mined.  

It's all in my head at the moment, wanting for me to begin by sorting out the Russians, then the Germans, and putting pencil to paper... 


  1. A nice collection of Russian guns. My lot have to put up with US 105mm and 155mm howitzer and British 5.5" guns pressed into service! The 155s do look a bit like early pattern 152s...

    I do have some proper 76mm guns, and Katyushas.

    1. Hi Martin -
      Thanks for your comments.

      You know, I wouldn't part with my cardboard ZiS-3 field guns - in fact I may make more. I'll probably scratch-build a couple of ZiS-2 57mm AT guns to be inserted into some Guards tank destroyer unit somewhere...

      The 5.5-inch going spare I probably could have used 'as is' either calling it a 152mm or even as a lend lease item. But for some reason it was an itch I just had to scratch, and as I had the replacement barrel. The only actual kit is the metal 122mm piece. On the other hand, I think all my 45mm AT guns are actually 1:72 scale 37mm German guns roped in 'as is' as 45L46 pieces. Two or three 1:76 scale jobs remain in German service.

      I'll be satisfying myself with my two toy BM8 or BM13 Katyusha vehicles as Guards Mortar Regiments. They'll be near enough.

      For some reason, I like an army that has a 'make and mend' look about it.


  2. Archduke Piccolo,

    I’ve been reading your recent blog entries with great interest, and love the new Turcowaz Army and the Ruberian Highlanders.

    I am currently renovating and reorganising my German WW2 collection along somewhat similar lines to yours, with each division bring a ‘formation in a box’. An infantry division has three infantry units, an anti-tank unit, an artillery unit, and a commander. Two or three of these form a corps, which will have extra corp assets (e.g. heavier artillery units, engineers).

    I hope to create a Panzer division over the next couple of days. It will have 2 tank units, 2 motorised infantry units, a recce unit, an anti-tank unit, an artillery unit, and a commander. The next stage will be to renovate and reorganise my Russian figures along similar lines.

    All the best,


    1. Hi Bob -
      What was that about 'great minds' again? I'm doing the Russian first, as the Germans will probably be more of a challenge for me 'to get right'. I'm finding myself going back over the games of a couple of years or so back, and still liking what I'm looking at.

      I've also been looking back at your 'Hexblitz' book (for the umpteenth time), and rethinking that maybe I should have a few games 'per spec' - or very close to it - hence the 'Operation Dolgorouky' idea above.

      This comment of yours may well have determined what my next posting will be.


    2. Ion,

      I am in the process of finishing the vehicles I need to form a Panzer Division, which will mean that I’ll have the following German ‘formations in a box’:
      * 3 Infantry Division
      * 1 Luftwaffe Field Division
      * 1 Panzer Division
      * 3 Corps Artillery Regiments

      I plan to begin renovating vehicles and artillery for my Russian army over the weekend. The only limiting factor is the number of MDF bases I have left, as the firm I buy them from - Warbases - has gone into suspension during the pandemic.

      I’ll follow your developments with interest.

      All the best,


      PS. I still have loads of German and Russian stuff to renovate, but I want to switch between this and other projects so that I can maintain long term enthusiasm for the project.

    3. Hi Bob -
      I'll look forward to your postings on this. Time was I had my Command Decision Soviet Mechanised Brigade 'in a box', less its 9 tanks and its Brigade artillery. But I've been forced to break up that formation in favour of more recent approaches.

      I like to think (if self-praise is no praise, is self-flattery no flattery?) that I'm taking a modular approach to organising my stuff. I'm trying to make the whole inventory serve for two scales, such that the core 6-stands in a given formation might represent a regiment for one game, and the core of a Division for another.

      I'll probably do this in 3 stages: 1. A quick 'Army Level' organisation for the planned Operation Dolgorouky. 2. A Corps level organisation that I hope will absorb at least most of my kit 3.Extend the 'Army Level' to encompass as much of my stuff as I can.

      I have this advantage; apart from a few small gaps I'd like to fill, most of my stuff is fairly 'finished'. Most.


  3. The 5.5" conversion looks very tidy! I gave up worrying about organisations a while back, and just pull stuff out of boxes for particular operations. The Eastern front orbats changed so quickly that it is almost impossible to keep track of.

    http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/ is a pretty good guide to the German side

    Regards, Chris

    1. Hi Chris -
      My approach is to create something that looks sensible or plausible. My earlier 'Sixth Shock Army' (fictitious) was based on the Fifth Shock Army, the formations of which were based partly on yours, Bob Cordery's and Tim Gow's.

      Lately I've been looking to Command Decision Army Lists to create OOBs for Corps and Divisions. I guess there will come a time I'll just tell myself 'that will do!' I've been looking back at my games of a couple or so years ago and thinking to myself; they don't look too bad!

  4. Those 'turquoise' lads look wonderful Ion and you should be rightly pleased with those Strelets Highlanders of 'RED force'.
    Planning, researching, preparing is at least half the fun, for mine.

    1. Thanks, James. I'm hoping to get them into action sometime soon...