France's Small Wars


The War Hog

We went to the local market in Pont l'Abbe this morning and I thought I'd pop into the model shop that I noticed had opened in the summer. It was closed then but was open today. It is run by an ex-airline pilot who has retired to Brittany and he spoke perfect English having lived in Singapore and Japan for several years. He is also a really skilled scale modeller, judging from the 1/700th scale ships and 1/48th scale tanks in the window, and he's a wargamer as well. On top of that, he's really friendly and clearly an enthusiast for the hobby.The shop itself was really well stocked with all sorts of scale model and wargaming goodies including Warlord Games, Perry Miniatures and the ubiquitous Warhammer. He also sells 1/48th scale AFV kits and 1/700th scale warship kits, as well as 1/48th and 1/72nd scale aircraft. I was allowed to buy a Soviet Fleet for Cruel Seas, some brass rod for aerials on my What a Tanker! tanks and a set of modern French paints from MiG, which will be useful for my 15mm post-colonial pr

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French Armour in Indochina

I've been looking forward to this new Osprey book on the use of AFV's in the French Indochina War, and I have to say that I'm not disappointed. Not only does it cover the expected tanks, armoured cars and amphibious vehicles, it also includes armoured trains and landing craft, which is brilliant. There are numerous photos, many of which I haven't seen before, and some excellent artwork. One thing that is a plus as far as I'm concerned, is that the coverage isn't focussed on the M24 Chaffee, but also includes really interesting detail on the early war use of ex-Japanese and British vehicles, for example, which is great. Highly recommended!

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French Indochina Armour

This is out in February and I think I might pre-order a copy. Whatever you think of the vagaries of the Osprey Publishing series, the Vanguard titles are some of the better ones, hopefully including this book. It's not going to be a comprehensive study at only 48 pages but if the colour plates are up to scratch, it will be a useful painting guide for my 15mm and 10mm French AFV's. This is what the blurb says:French experience with armour in Indo-China dated back to 1919, when it sent FT-17s to the colony, followed by a variety of armoured cars. After World War II, French troops were equipped with a motley collection of American and cast-off British equipment until the outbreak of war in Korea saw an increase in military aid. This included large numbers of the M24 Chaffee light tank, along with amphibious vehicles such as the M29C Weasel and LVT4 Buffalo, to conduct operations in coastal and inland areas that the Viet Minh had previously thought immune to attack. France's armour was a key part of the battle ag

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Our Friends Beneath the Sands

I bought a second hand, hard back copy of this book yesterday for a fiver, which is a bit of a bargain assuming I actually sit down and read it? I already have a digital copy but I prefer 'proper' books, not only because they are things of beauty but also as they can be opened up and read through, alongside all the other books that might be relevant to your particular project of interest.This book is clearly relevant to French colonial actions in hot locations and I am really intrigued by how it might crossover with the Sandbox Skirmish terrain project as well as 'Darkest Africa', in which I have had a long term interest. I was particularly fascinated by the photos of the Rif War and by the 'classic' 1920's and 1930's imagery of the Foreign Legion in North Africa. I think I'll save it for the festive season when I'll have time to read it on holiday. 

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Rebel Transport

No, not Star Wars but a clapped out old lorry for my rebels to smuggle their arms through the British (or French) road blocks, assuming the usual camel convoy doesn't get there first. I figured that as I'll have a road block checkpoint for the troops to operate I would need to have some rebel vehicles to be stopped and searched.A quick rummage in the lead pile turned up this Peter Pig French WW2 truck, to which I retrofitted a load of barrels, pinched from a Skytrex Vietnam truck which has long since been converted into an AK47 technical. I quite like the resulting mash up and it will definitely be used for a scenario at some point. I reckon they could squeeze an entire fifteen man squad into there!

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Village Fields

I have been side tracked into terrain making again but this time it's fairly straightforward and painless, I hope. These are small fields and garden plots for the Sandbox Skirmish project, designed to be placed around the Red Vectors village buildings that I have yet to construct, although some of the smaller Blotz buildings can also be used for rural areas. I've used acrylic paste and sand to texture them but will add a few stones as well around he edges, as my grandad used to tell me that the Pathan farmers would pile them up then use them as cover for sniping at his plane! I have some Javis grass mat that I got from somewhere or other (?) which I will cut up and use as crops for some of the fields, with some of the others as harvested or fallow ground. 

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Palm Tree and Oasis Features Finished

I've managed to finish the palm tree cluster bases and the two oasis features this afternoon, adding some dry brushing to the trees and some gloss varnish to the ponds, having scrapped the acrylic sheet as it didn't look very good. I'm sure if I was making 28mm oasis terrain the acrylic sheeting would be fine but in 15mm it looked overscale. I also spilled some PVA onto it by mistake which spoiled the water effect. I may add another coat of gloss varnish to the ponds later on to give a bit more of a reflective surface but I think like look fine as they are.The tree cluster bases came out okay in the end but I suspect that they will shed their green paint if they get handled too much and will need to be repaired as a result. I ended up with eleven of these as some of the tree trunk prongs snapped off, so I've saved the broken ones for other things. I will be making some more arid acacia type tree bases to match these ones anyway, so if they play up I can use those instead. I have had enough of terrain making f

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Palm Tree Painting Progress

I've painted the bases and the oasis templates this morning, so that they are ready to be assembled and then have a few finishing touches added. The bases have been drilled for the trees to be attached but I'm a bit worried that they might snap off if handled roughly, so will go overboard with the glue to make sure they are firmly attached. I may also add some flock or static grass to bed them in and relieve the monotone sandy effect. The oasis ponds have also been painted and I'm waiting for them to dry so that I can drop in the acetate sheet. In the meantime, I'm dry brushing the tree trunks and palm fronds, so that they are a little more interesting to look at.

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Palm Trees and Porridge Coated Jaffa Cakes

I've base coated the palm trees today, using rattle cans of Humbrol Grass Green and Halfords Camouflage Brown, so that I can base them and then paint them properly tomorrow. I had to prune all the plastic flash from the palm tree fronds first, which took ages but had to be done otherwise they would look rubbish. The bases were assembled, then trimmed on the edges and filed down to give a sloped profile, before being smothered in a PVA and filler mix. They look a bit like porridge coated jaffa cakes but I've smoothed them over a bit with some acrylic paste, both to hide the edge and to provide a good key for the emulsion paint basecoat that I'll slap on tomorrow.

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Palm Tree Terrain Plans

 I have organised all the bits for a palm tree blitz this weekend including a couple of oasis templates from Charlie Foxtrot, some additional 50mm diameter round mdf bases and some cheapo plastic palm trees that I bought ages ago for AK47. The plan is to re-paint the palm trees so that they can be attached in clusters of two or three to the bases, with a second smaller base glued onto the 50mm one so that the palm tree basing wires have something to stick in to, then texture the whole lot with a combination of PVA and filler or acrylic paste. I have fifteen bases to complete so that I can use them as scatter terrain and also plug them into the oasis features. I might make a couple of drop in tent and stores bases so that I can make a camp around one of the oases for the rebels. I also have some Woodlands Scenics tree armatures that I can make some more 50mm 'drop in' bases with, so that I can use the oasis features as arid desert watering holes, way up in the mountainous badlands of the back of beyo

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Squaring the Circle

 After much thought, I've decided to go for 15mm square mdf bases for the Sandbox Skirmish project, rather than my usual 1p coins or circular laser cut discs. The reason for this is that I want to give the figures a bit more stability and have enough space on the bases for some decent tufts, rocks and other decorative scenic stuff. I also want to make it easy to see which way the figures are facing, so there can be no confusion or cause for complications when working out LOS or whatever.I've ordered some bases from Minibits and, while I was there I also added another set of Red Vectors adobe style buildings, as I really liked the two that I have assembled and thought the other set looked like a good match for the Blotz buildings that I already have for the project. At this rate, I'll be able to create a whole urban war zone not just a rural village in the sticks! This weekend, however, I'm planning to concentrate on the 1/600th scale aircraft for the Football War project.

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Desert Rocky Outcrops

I had the option of scratch building some rocky hills for the Sandbox Skirmish project, or re-painting some existing terrain that I have in the big box of terrain stuff that I've accumulated over the years. I decided to go for the second option to save time, so have had a go at repainting a Battlefield in a Box hill in desert shades to match my terrain board. This involved two wet and dry brushes of Homebase Cashmere emulsion, followed by a drybrush of Vallejo Tan Yellow, which is a good match for the desert scheme. The end result isn't too bad but the resin terrain has warped slightly, probably due to the emulsion having a high water content, although not too much that it can't be used.Before and AfterI may well re-paint two or three of the other hills if the warping settles down a bit, or go back to the original plan and scratch build some hills out of foam or cork sheet. In the meantime, I've decided to get started on the figures and vehicles, leaving the assembled buildings and terrain pieces until a

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Desert Terrain Board Finished

I painted the picture frame that I bought at the weekend with my knock off pot of Homebase Cashmere emulsion paint, added some spray splodges of Halfords Ultra Matt Khaki then dry brushed the whole lot with a tester pot of Laura Ashley Old Gold. I'm quite pleased with the end result, although I should have been more generous with the acrylic paste beforehand, so that all of the canvas was completely covered. I'll be using this terrain board for the No End in Sight post colonial project but also for many other things including Strontium Dog, Fistful of Lead:Viva la Revolution! and Gruntz Sci Fi / Near Future games to name but a few, so it has been well worth the ten quid I paid for it. I now need to make some hills but I already have some Battlefield in a Box plastic ones that might just do the job, if I re-painted them in matching desert colours.

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Charity Shop Terrain Board

I dropped into the local charity shop this morning and spotted a canvas covered picture frame for a tenner. It had a pretty sturdy wooden frame with a hardboard or mdf top, covered in a beige canvas with a square paper picture glued on top. It measure 32'' square, so not far off the standard three foot square skirmish game area. I got it home, stripped off as much of the paper picture as possible with a palette knife, sanded it down, glued the bits I'd scuffed up with PVA, then covered the surface with a skim of acrylic paste, dappled on and smeared around to give it some texture. It's drying off now and will get a basecoat of emulsion paint to match the prototype desert cork board that I made last weekend. If it works and doesn't warp, it will be my default terrain board for the Sandbox Skirmish project and other things as well.

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Plastic Palm Trees

I found these and a whole lot more in a box yesterday. I knew I had them but wasn't sure where they were, having stashed them for an AK47 terrain building project that never happened. They are about 7cm tall and ideal as scenery for Sandbox Skirmish project, once I've based them and re-painted them to look less plasticy, if that's an actual word. I've also found some Peter Pig concrete telegraph poles that were for the same AK47 terrain purpose, so I can assemble them to use as scatter for the built up areas. I'm planning to get a move on with all of this terrain over the weekend.

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