What a Tanker
I had an email from Mark 'Peaches' Backhouse yesterday, in which he was kind enough to invite me along to the second 'Come and Have a Go, If you think you're Lard Enough' wargaming day, which he's organising for the 7th March next year at the Sarisbury Green wargaming club. This was great fun last time, so I have asked Mark to save me a table, so that I can run another game of something suitably lard flavoured.I've already been thinking about this and have come up with some potential ideas. The first is to run a mid-war Channel Front Bag the Hun game, featuring my as yet unpainted RAF Spitfires, Whirlwinds and Focke Wulf 190's, along the lines of the plan I originally had for this years game. The second option is to do something on the Russian Front or for the Winter War, again in 1/285th scale for Bag the Hun, which would be an excuse for a nice new winter themed hex cloth. The third option is to do a What a Tanker! historical scenario or set of linked games for the Russian Front, Battle of the Bu
For a long time now I've restricted my wargames magazine reading to Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy, which for my money is streets ahead of the competition in terms of interesting content, well-written articles and thoughtful commentary on the hobby. However, I don't buy every issue as the theme doesn't always appeal and, unless there's something else worth reading that's relevant to my interests I give it a miss. It's not cheap these days to follow the wargaming press but I have recently turned to digital downloads as a much less expensive alternative to the print editions. For example, I've just downloaded number 101, as it has another article for historical What a Tanker! by Mark Backhouse that is right up my street. The big advantage of the digital format is that it's about half the price of the paper copy and you can print off individual articles for a hard copy if you need one. This flexibility makes it a great idea, even if you don't have the satisfaction of reading it hands on, so to speak.
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
I'm planning ahead for the summer with some ideas for projects to add to the ones I already haven't finished! I am still working my way through the What a Tanker! US and British models and also have the Sandbox Skirmish 15mm post-colonial project to be getting on with, but the lure of something new is hard to resist. At the moment, I'm about to start basing up some 28mm late war Germans for squad level skirmish games but the appeal of this has waned a bit after I realised that Chain of Command is just not feasible with what I've got in the lead pile. So, rather than start something that will hit a brick wall in a few weeks time, I think I might switch to a more realistic project for the next couple of months.The current thinking is to assemble a couple of forces for The Men Who Would Be Kings, either in 15mm or possibly in 28mm using plastics, as they are much more affordable than lead. I have a couple of boxes of Perry Miniatures Mahdist Ansar that I can put together for a 'Fuzzy Wuzzy' army and a box of the
A second hand book added to the library yesterday, once again from the Oxfam charity shop in town, this time being an illustrated history of the First Polish Armoured Division in NW Europe, primarily from D-Day to the occupation of Germany. The author is from Winchester, so I suspect that's why it ended up in the local bookshop, but it's a valuable addition to the collection either way. There's lots of black and white photographs, some of which I haven't seen before, as well as an overview of the campaign, so very useful for scenario development and scale modelling, with obvious relevance to What a Tanker!, IABSM and Chain of Command, amongst other things.
I put together a Sherman Firefly for my 1st RTR, 7th Armoured Division troop yesterday, using the Armourfast kit as the basis but cutting off the sand skirts for a more appropriate appearance. The Armourfast kit is based on the M4 not the M4A4 (Sherman V) but you can't really tell the difference if you're not a tank rivet counter. The sand skirt removal is a bit of a pain but not too difficult, once you've cut away the plastic and scraped it down, requiring only a bit of sanding to get the profile right. The stowage is a combination of resin pieces and white metal parts, along with some spare road wheels from an old Italeri kit. I'm quite pleased with the end result...although I wasn't so sure half way through!
I followed a link on the Wargames Website to S+S Models yesterday, only to discover that they do a whole range of add-on accessories and conversion bits for 1/72nd scale model AFV's. I knew that they did figures and vehicles but didn't realise that this included WW2 stuff and not just post-war or modern kit. It looks like a much better option than Early War Miniatures, whose accessory sets are definitely more 1/76th scale than 1/72nd scale.Anyway, amongst a whole range of interesting things I found a stowage set for the Armourfast Cromwell kit and some detailing parts for the rear end of the Armourfast Sherman M4's, so these have been duly ordered for the British tanks I'm currently working on. As a result, I've left construction of the other two Cromwells for the moment, so that I can do the Sherman Firefly instead, while I'm waiting for the packs to arrive in the post.There is also a range of resin applique sandbag armour and, best of all, a set of resin HVSS track units for the Armourfast and PSC Sherman k
Unfortunately, the Plastic Soldier Company PaK 40's on sale at NorthStar have sold out, so I replaced them with a box of Valentine tanks to use for the Soviets. Not wanted to give up on the idea of anti-tank guns, I also ordered a box set of four PaK 38's, which were on sale and hopefully still in stock? These are actually a better deal than the PaK 40's, working out at only three quid per gun, so I'm actually rather pleased rather than disappointed. There's also the option to build the PaK 97/38 variant which used captured French 75mm gun barrels, so firepower won't be an issue. The only downside is that the crew figures aren't in smocks, so won't really fit the winter theme, but I can live with that if I do some conversion work with green stuff or find some alternatives.
Here's the first of what will be a troop of three Cromwells and a Firefly for my Operation Blackcock What a Tanker! project. It's a neat little kit but I did have to fiddle about with the turret hatches to get them to sit properly and the EWM white metal engine cowl I was planning to use just didn't fit, so I replaced it with one from a Revell Cromwell kit which I bought cheap in a Hobbycraft sale ages ago. I've added some stowage but it still needs some additional clutter to look the part of a 7th Armoured Division tank in January '45.
The weekend's Lardy event has got me thinking about a What a Tanker! participation game with a historical theme, based on some of the ideas set out in recent issues of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy by none other than Mr Backhouse himself. I had been thinking about the potential for historical scenarios in WAT! already but Mark's articles have pushed me further down the road and have given me some ideas for an Operation Blackcock game, using a series of linked scenarios with a ladder of outcomes to tie them together.As a result, I've pushed the Cruel Seas project to one side for the moment to concentrate on building a troop of three Cromwells and a single Sherman Firefly of the 7th Armoured Division. These are all Armourfast kits, which I already had in the stock pile, with some extra detailing bits from Early War Miniatures and resin stowage to soup them up. I have a couple of weeks before Easter to get them built and, if possible, painted up in winter camouflage, ready to use against my existing Tigers, Pa
As I had a cracking but very intense day at the Lard event yesterday, I felt like rewarding myself with a box of Plastic Soldier Company PaK 40 anti-tank guns, complete with tracked tows ( I'm not even going to attempt to spell rauchhensplhefh...I give up!). These were on sale for a tenner on the Northstar site, so I decided to get them for my Russian Front What a Tanker! set up, adding to the Zvezda PaK 40 that I bought a few weeks ago. I still need to glue that one together but it's a neat little kit.There are plenty of suggestions on the various web forums for using AT guns in WAT!, so it shouldn't be difficult to set up a defensive PaK Front type scenario. I think this would be a lot of fun and a challenge for both the attackers and the defenders.
There's only a couple more AFV's to assemble before I have completed all of the various models that I wanted to build for the What a Tanker! late war US project. In fact I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, which means that I can probably start painting next weekend, real life permitting, although recent events have thrown a few unexpected spanners in the tracks. If not, I'll just bump them over to the other side of the Easter holidays.These two are today's workbench result, a PSC late model M5A1 and an Armourfast M18 Hellcat, both with added stowage bits and some extra detailing for the tank destroyer, as it's a bit basic out of the box. I have two more M5A1's and a single M18 to glue together then I'm done. Phew! You may ask why I've built so many kits, when two or three would do the job, but I enjoy the modelling and also will be able to run a few decent club games and even a campaign, perhaps even a solo one?
I finished assembling the Armourfast M4 Sherman this morning, before the rest of the day went completely tits up for various reasons, with some of the 1/72nd scale resin stowage pieces from Value Gear added to the rear deck for that 'on campaign' effect. They're not cheap but you get loads in the set and they look brilliant, much better than the white metal bits and spares box equivalent in my opinion.I also added a spare road wheel and a machine gun barrel from one of the .30cals in the Armourfast M36 kit, as the stubby effort provided in the M4 kit is a bit pathetic. I have one more M4 Sherman to convert but I'm going to do the M18 Hellcats first, as they will look really cool with some of the resin stowage parts glued on the flanks and the sides of the open top turret.
I have done very little this week apart from assembling one Armourfast M4 Sherman, which I have modified by removing the sand skirts, adding an extra plastic card layer to the applique armour panels over the ammunition bins and armour sheets over the driver and co-driver positions. In this configuration it's good for 1944-45, as a late model up-armoured M4 rather than the earlier version.I've also converted a turret from a spare Armourfast Sherman Firefly kit so that I can have a second M4 with an open commander cupola, simply by blocking off and filling in the loader's hatch then adding the gun mounting from the standard M4 and a commander figure from the PSC M5A1 kit. I need to add an armour panel to the turret front right hand side and convert the hull by removing the sand skirts but it's coming along nicely.
I've been churning out a lot of Shermans recently for my What a Tanker! project and have once again been dipping into this excellent modelling website, which is dedicated to the Sherman tank in all its forms in 1/72nd scale. It really is a mine of useful information as well as inspiration, although my basic wargaming efforts are nowhere near as good as the fantastic scale models in the gallery, some of which you'd easily mistake for 1/48th or even 1/35th scale. Don't be put off by the 1/72nd scale focus either, as a lot of the technical and modelling information is relevant for smaller scales like 15mm or 1/100th scale.Here's a link:http://www.172shermans.com/