Friday, February 27, 2015

K4 heavy tanks

I don't think I've ever posted pictures of my entire K4 platoon, and since I am feeling expansive; here they are;

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The K4 is a fictious Soviet design, based on the UK/US Mark VIII 'Liberty' tank, or at least thats how I've used it in the Rocketman games. In actual fact these models are actually Indiana Jones toys from Disney which I have slightly modified for use in 28mm wargaming. The first toy was given to me about eight or nine years ago by some one from the old Wargames on the Web forum who had been to Florida and seen the toy in Disney World, but alas my memory serves me poorly and I forget who it was (was it you Paul?) I bought three more of them on e-bay as the years passed. These were my first 28mm tanks (except for a 1/48 FT-17), and they were a lot of fun to rebuild and use. If you can find them they are very easy to convert.

The fourth model has been converted to be a command tank - and it hasn't been quite finished yet. 

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Last night the Moon came dropping its clothes in the street



Latest album purchased and its a doozie; Jon Hassell, 'Last night the Moon came dropping its clothes in the street'. If you like atmospheric or contemplative music, then I think you'll like this, it has to be, easily the best album I've heard in over a decade. 5/5

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Suffolk Tank


Here are a few pictures of my recently finished, fictious tank; the 'Suffolk'.

Painted in African camouflage, the Suffolk is meant to be a secret American tank, designed and built as part of a classified weapons programme in the early 1920s but then due to neferious political machinations, later sold off as surplus to an African rebellion in 1937. The idea is that after WW1 the Americans were worried about the possibility of a conflict with Britain and given the large Canadian border, and Britain's superiority in armoured fighting vehicles at the time, various rich and politically powerful Americans initiated a secret tank building conspiracy. From this came the Suffolk assault tank, the Thunderbolt infantry support tank (as yet still under construction) and the aforementioned Ford Liberty tankette. At the time the Rocketman games take place, these tanks have all become usefully obsolete and through some convenient military industrial connivance, available for sale to a budding African nation which is rapidly taking over the Belgian Congo and seeks to liberate/annex French Equatorial Africa. The big idea is the possibility of games pittiing my French tanks against these American-Africans.

Armed with a hull mounted 75mm gun, the Suffolk is an assaut tank designed to lend support to the 'Thunderbolt' infantry support tanks. For protection to the flanks, the Suffolk also has two side mounted .30 machine guns.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

RM12.2 Attach Bayonets!

Our first skirmish game of 2015 and almost the first in twelve months too. Rocketman campaign 12 continues, with 12.2 carrying on where 12.1 left off

Molokski stares through the smoke in disbelief. All the tanks have been hit by the enemy and even the mighty T-35 is now a useless smoking hulk. He glances about his men and sees them staring back at him with worried faces.
”Where is Commisar Puchinkin?” he asks
”Comrade Puchinkin is dead” says a rifleman pointing back at a smouldering corpse.
Molokski curses his bad luck and glances towards the strange men from Moscow. With their pale skins and unusual equipment he finds them unusually unsettlig. Their leader, Kapustin has gathered his remaining troops aroud him and is issuing orders with no regard to Molokski and his men. Something akin to anger sparks to life in Molokski’s breast and he beckons to his riflemen to come closer.
”Listen boys” he says in a low voice. ”Those Kremlin bastards don’t give a shit about us, so we’re going to attack in our own way. Gather up all the grenades you can find and follow me”.
For a second, Molokski fears they will refuse but he is gratified to see that though his men exchange glances, they quickly do as ordered.  As they moved quietly about the smoking rubble, he grabs one by the arm.
”Not you Fyodor. You are our fastest runner. I want you to run back to the staging post and tell the Colonel what has taken place here. Tell him we need more men as soon as possible. Okay?”
Fyodor nods happily, no doubt grateful to be leaving the battle. He spurts back intot he dusky smoke.
”Where is that man going?” Major Kapustin’s sinister voice comes from just behind Moloski. He turns and stares at the pale face and cold eyes of the officer.
”I sent him for reinforcements ...sir”
Kapustins eyes watch the running man and for a few bizarre seconds, Moloski wonders if the Muscovite is going to have Fyodor shot, but then the tall man brings his eyes back to the burly sergeant.
”Your men will attack from the right” he states. Then without any further interest he turns and strides back to his own group.
”What kind of a strange man is he?” Molokski wonders, but his returning riflemen pull his attention back to the present.
”Sergeant, sir, I found Belinsky’s machine gun!” one of them grins as he holds up a Degtyaraov light machine gun.
”Good, good!” Molokski slaps the man on the shoulder. He half turns to peer through the rubble at the warehouse, the ruined tanks and the old tank factory.
”Listen boys. Heres my plan...”


On the far side of the battle field, Yuri Mosolov wipes at a minor head wound. That damned Polikarpov had sent splinters flying in every direction and his forehead and right cheek had stopped one. Luckily it had been only a glancing blow, but probing the wound with tender fingers he fears his good looks have suffered and his mind continually wanders back to the girl named Natasja who lived in Omsk. 
”Sir! Sir?” the voice of the man in front of him forces Yuri to focus his mind.
”What?”
”The tanks sir. They’ve moved off to the west.”
Yuri peers through the smoke and dust trying to remember his objectives. ”What about the enemy?” he asks.
”Their tanks have withdrawn sir. The way to the warehouse is clear. Should we advance?”
Yuri blinks as blood runs into his eye. Irritated he wipes it away, but the eyes of the man facing him seem troubled.
”Its nothing” he mumbles. ”Just a scratch”. 
”As you say sir”
Climbing to his feet, Yuri looks about him. Most of the men around him are wounded or dead. He frowns. Is this the aid station?
”Where is Kopylov?” he demands
”The Lieutenant is with the men sir” the soldier replies. It suddenly dawns on Yuri that he has been out of the fight and that Kopylov has taken command in his stead. Indignation and anger course through his body and straightening his dusty uniform tunic, he makes his way toward the twenty or so men he sees clustered together up ahead. In their midst, staring towards the dust and smoke of the distant tanks, stands Kopylov scratching the back of his head.
”Sir!” one of the men springs to his side with a concerned face.
”I’m fine. Its nothing. Just a scratch. Kopylov. Why the hell are you just standing here?”
”The tanks sir...” Kopylov gestures but falls silent upon seeing his commanders face.
”Fuck the tanks!” Yuri pulls out his pistol. ”Take the warehouse  now before the traitors get the weapon!”
The men scramble to their feet. One pulls out his bayonet and attaches it to his rifle.
”Thats the spirit Kropotkin!” Yuri shouts above the din of battle, grateful to have remembered the man’s name.  ”All of you do the same. Attach bayonets and follow me!”



STARTING


With the tanks having either destroyed each other or moved into fighting positions further afield, the infantry are left to finish the battle for the wharehouse.  Both sides start on their side of the table, not closer than 12 inches from the warehouse.



VICTORY CONDITIONS 

 Loss of two thirds of one side results in automatic loss, otherwise victory is determined by control of the warehouse at the end of the game. 

PLAYER ONE (Jan)
Major Kapustin
5 x Aglatean Guards with rifles.
2 x Agaltean Guards with SMGs.
Aglatean Guard with LMG. 

PLAYER TWO (Stephen)
Sgt Molokski
10 x Soviet infantry with rifles (one grenade each).
Soviet infantry with LMG

PLAYER THREE (Palle)
Yuri Mosolov
10 x Black Guard infantry with rifles (one grenade each).
Black Guard infantry HMG

PLAYER FOUR (Goeg)
Lt Kopylov
10 x Black Guard infantry with rifles (one grenade each).
Black Guard Infantry LMG


Thursday, February 05, 2015

Draken Harald Hårfagre


Havhingsten didn't get to keep its title of world's biggest Viking ship for very long. I just learned that the Norwegians have built an even bigger vessel; Draken Harald Hårfagre which is a good five meters longer indeed. Havhingsten was launched in 2004 and the new ship, whose name translates to Dragon Harald Fairhair (dragon refering to the ship type) was launched in 2012. Last year she undertook her first major voyage sailing to Liverpool and back, and this appears to have been a success.

Oddly the ship hasn't been given much attention in Denmark, that is to say I have not noticed it at all. Perhaps because it is bigger than our biggest Viking ship and thus steals the title of world's largest Viking ship? I don't know, but when looking at the online material from Norway, I can't but help noticing there is little mention at all of Havhingsten even though Carsten Hvid who captained the Danish ship also captained Draken Harald Hårfagre and he observed several crucual differences between the two vessels. Where as Havhingsten is a replica of an actual Viking war ship, Draken Harald Hårfagre is not. The Norwegian vessel is actually a modern design, based on Viking designs but also incorporating later Norwegian design elements. In other words, Draken Harald Hårfagre is an anachronism apparently built for the simple purpose of being big. 










Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Jabos

I love aircraft, especially low flying, high powered aircraft, preferably with two piston engines going at full whack (but I'm not fussy on the number of engines). Nothing in the air gets my juices flowing faster than a Mosquito or a Beaufighter at tree top height, rockets under their wings and all guns fully loaded.

Load her up boys!

Whats odd about the German's surprise regarding the Jabos, was that they originally coined the phrase to describe their own jagdbombers operating over south eastern England in 1942. 60 Fw 190s bombed Canterbury with only one aircraft lost, killing 32 civilians and injuring 116, in the largest raid since the Blitz. Flying at sea level, under the radar, these raids were hard to intercept (Source). Despite this, when the German forces encountered the Allies post D Day air superiority, they got a terrible shock. The following document, translated by American intelligence officers during an interogation sheds some light on how terribly effective the Jabos were.



"Something happened that left us in a daze. Spouts of fire flicked along the column and splashes of dust staccatoed the road. Everyone was piling out of the vehicles and scuttling for the neighbouring fields. Several vehicles already were in flames.

The men started drifting back to the column again, pale and shaky and wondering that they had survived this fiery rain of bullets. Had that been a sign of things to come? This had been our first experience with the ‘Jabos’

It dawned on us that this opponent that had come to the beach of Normandy was of somewhat different form. The march was called off, and all vehicles that were left were hidden in the dense bushes or in barns. No one dared show himself out in the open anymore. Now the men started looking at each other. The first words passed. This was different from what we thought it would be like. If things like this happened here, what would it be like up there at the front? No, this did not look like a feint attack upon our continent. It had been our first experience with our new foe — the American."

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Black humour from the Red Baron


Some rather dark quotes from Manfred von Richthofen;

As a little boy of eleven I entered the Cadet Corps. I was not particularly eager to become a Cadet, but my father wished it. So my wishes were not consulted.

I never was good at learning things. I did just enough work to pass. In my opinion it would have been wrong to do more than was just sufficient, so I worked as little as possible.

All the papers contained nothing but fantastic stories about the war. However, for several months we had been accustomed to war talk. We had so often packed our service trunks that the whole thing had become tedious.

There were sometimes from forty to sixty English machines, but unfortunately the Germans were often in the minority. With them quality was more important than quantity.

Of course no one thought of anything except of attacking the enemy. It lies in the instinct of every German to rush at the enemy wherever he meets him, particularly if he meets hostile cavalry.

Now I am within thirty yards of him. He must fall. The gun pours out its stream of lead. Then it jams. Then it reopens fire. That jam almost saved his life.

One can become enthusiastic over anything. For a time I was delighted with bomb throwing. It gave me a tremendous pleasure to bomb those fellows from above.

In the heat of the Russian summer a sleeping car is the most horrible instrument of martyrdom imaginable.

It is a pity that my collection of trophies contains not a single Russian.

Everything depends on whether we have for opponents those French tricksters or those daring rascals, the English. I prefer the English. Frequently their daring can only be described as stupidity. In their eyes it may be pluck and daring.

The English had hit upon a splendid joke. They intended to catch me or to bring me down.
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Friday, January 09, 2015

Ford-Liberty M1920A1

...and I'm back!

I haven't had anything worth posting about for a good long while since I've been pretty down in the dumps for the most part of 2014, and working too. Over Christmas however, I got down to some modelling and amongst other things, built myself a fictional tankette. I call it the Ford-Liberty M1920A1 and its meant to be secret American evolution of the Ford 3 ton tank for future Rocketman games. The last two images show the tank finished, next to my previous model, the 'Suffolk tank'.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Harry's War


By Harry Drinkwater

This is the real deal; a day to day diary of a British soldier who fought in World War One, and who took part in some of the biggest and bloodiest battles of the war, including the Somme and Passchendaele and who survived, more or less intact. Books like this are said to be rare, and I've certainly never come across one before, as it was against regulations for the soldiers to keep diaries lest their writings fall into enemy hands. Other soldiers wrote memoirs (and I'm reading one such now) but this is different in that it documents things as they happened. Drinkwater's account doesn't gloss over the boring bits, but records them, in all their seemingly dull detail. To get a clear idea of what the war must have been like, this is invaluable. There is no drama or glorification, either of the violence or of the horror. Drinkwater simply records events, and some of his own thoughts accordingly.

In many ways, this book reminded me of another; Trafalgar: an eye witness history, though there are some major differences, the most obvious being the difference in time. This book is also a single man's perspective, so you can only really see the war thorugh Harry Drinkwater's eyes. There isn't a lot of historical context offered as Drinkwater himself barely knew what was going on in the world beyond the battlefield.

This is an excellent book for any one interested in the First World War.


The Mongoliad


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By Neal Stephenson, Erik Bear, Greg Bear, Joseph Brassey, Nicole Galland, Cooper Moo and Mark Teppo.

As is obvious from the list of authors, this is a collaborator undertaken by several writers together, and as explained on Wikipedia, it is a part of a bigger project, though it can be read as a stond alone work (which is what I have done). I'd been hearing hints and been reading people rave about this trilogy for quite a while, and since I have enjoyed several of Neal Stephenson's books, I ordered them (used) from Amazon and looked forward with some eager anticipation.

The rumour mill would have it that given an interest in reenacting mdieval European fighting techniques, Stephenson, Bear etc were creating a work which would shed light on the forgotten aspects of European fighting history. This alone was a warning light so brght that for a long while I hesitated to buy the books. I don't mind North Americans enjoying their fantasies, but I am very sceptical when it comes to Americans percpetions of history - they always seem to view the past as a variation of their own present, cherry picking odd facts from here and there to create an illusion of the past which fits their preconceptions. For some reason I thought perhaps Neal Stephenson had risen above this. Either I was wrong, or he was swamped by his co-collaborators. Either way, this trilogy (and the length of it should have been warning enough) is yet another American confusion.

Don't get me wrong, the story isn't terrible, its just very long winded, rather pointless as a consequence, and it cherry picks shamelessly. For my own part, I was partially entertained by the inclusion of several of my own subjects of interest; historical groups, facts and dates that I have explored in books and on Wikipedia - for the creation of role playing games and skirmish battles. Since I already knew who the Livonian Sword Brothers were, I didn't need to be introduced to them, nor did I much care for the way they were portrayed. I didn't mind it, but I wasn't impressed either. There were other details liek this, dotted through out the book, which whilst I understood why they were there and why the authors had chosen them, the execution of the story was not good enough to justify all the historical hacking and short cuts.

In short, this trilogy is a good enough read unless you are expecting it to deliver what it promises.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014