Wednesday 30 March 2016

Dropzone Commander: Test Model

This is my first model for Dropzone Commander. It is a Falcon drop-ship carrying two Bear APC's. I was a bit disappointed when I started putting the models together that the APCs don't actually fit into the drop-ship, as I had imagined they would. I decided to experiment with magnets, and bought a bunch of tiny but very strong magnets from the West Midlands Military show. I have never worked with magnets before, and I have been very satisfied with the results. I now have a drop-ship that can carry its payload and Bear APCs that can detach and go off to fight the Scourge.

In order to fit the magnets I drilled out a small hole into the top of the Bear's hull and super-glued the magnet it. I glued a second magnet to the under side of the Falcon- I didn't drill this one in as the plastic is too thin, and you can't see it anyway. I then sprayed and painted the models as normal.

The magnets hold the Bears very firmly in place, and they detach with a satisfying tug. There are a few problems that I will need to address. Firstly the paint is chipping off. I think I might add a coat of varnish over the magnet, then paint over it again- I think this will help reduce the chipping. Secondly the other configuration of the Falcon Dropship carries three smaller tanks in a line, but that means that the 'Widget'  where the Falcons clear flying base fits into the body of the Falcon is directly where one of the tank sits. I think I might have to make a new flight stand with two sticks and two widgets so that they can fit around the vehicals and still be stable- this is a bit more complicated but not insurmountable. Luckily Hawk Games do sell the flying bases and the widgets so it should be OK to experiment a bit. The third problem with the Falcon is that when it is carrying the three smaller tanks their guns can only be fixed lying flat to the hull, which looses something of their coolness when deployed, as they don't look like they are ready for a fight. I haven't got a solution to that one yet. 

I like the new clear cockpit canopy on the Falcon

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Scenery Bits Fform Charlie Foxtrot

I picked these up at the West Midlands Military Show from the Charlie Foxtrot store. I got talking to the owner, who was a really nice chap, and really wanted to buy some more but this was bought with the last of my cash. 
This is a tool shed and a wood store, principally bought and painted with my French and Indian Wars terrain in mind, but generic enough to be used in everything fro 18th century to WW2. I tried to paint it so it blends in with my F+IW buildings, and I used a painting guild on the Charlie Foxtrot Blog (although I didn't follow it exactly as i wanted a different colour in the end). This results in a a textured looking effect which I think looks like wood grain. 
Charlie Foxrot has a wide range of laser-cut MDF buildings and his range continues to grow at an amazing rate. I think that he has one of the largest ranges available. The pieces are good too, and eve the largest terrain pieces are not going to break the bank. 
I will be ordering from Charlie Foxtrot again. I am even considering buying another couple of tool sheds- one to have a corrugated roof for my modern African setting, and one to be covered with snow for the Ardennes. 

The 'logs' were just tiny twigs out of the garden. I was going to dry brush them but then decided that I couldn't improve on nature.

I like the way you can combine these two buildings to make a more interesting shaped outbuilding.

Sunday 27 March 2016

Penisular War: More Spanish Citizens

 You know how it is...your on ebay and suddenly you see something you don't really need but its a bargain. I bough a whole bunch of Wargames Foundry Napoleonic sailors a few weeks ago and when they arrived I thought 'What the hell am I going to do with them?'. After all I have painted a load of the Brigade Games sailors right at the beginning of the Napoleonic War projects, and I don't need more. And besides which the Brigade Games are better sculpted to boot.
 After sitting on them for a bit I had another look at them and realised that that would do for Spaniards with a minimal amount of effort, and I am always on the look out for more Spaniards for my guerilla band and militias. Not all the figures are suitable, and some will require more work, but these five were easy. I added a couple of sashes with Green stuff but otherwise they are right out of the box. They have nice characterful faces and were- like most Foundry figures, very nice to paint. These will add to my collection nicely and when Sharp Practice 2 comes out I hope to be able to field a whole angry mob of Spanish citizens and perhaps refight a bit of the Madrid Uprising.

Friday 25 March 2016

Penisular war: Légion irlandaise

The Second Battalion of the Irish Legion (Légion irlandaise) served in Napoleons armies in Spain and Portugal throughout the Peninsular War. They helped quell the 'Madrid Uprising' when the population of the city rose up against the French, in spring 1808, at the very beginning of the Peninsular War and later fought many skirmished against the Spanish Guerrillas around Burgos, where they were garrisoned. They also fought well at the sieges of Astorga and Almeida, and the battle of Bussaco. 

They wore the standard French light infantry uniform, but in a rather fetching and patriotic green and gold, which made them stand out from their peers. 


The figures are perry Plastics and the Flag is GMB

Saturday 19 March 2016

Frostgrave Terrain

I bought these Reaper Bones scenic pieces from the West Midlands Military Show from the Twisted Pinnacle stall. They will be used as scatter terrain to liven up my Frostgrave board. The magic circle was included in a pack of two cultists. the base and pentagram were details added by me. The sarcophagus was in a pack on its own (£2.20). Fun to paint and hopefully they will look nice on a Frostgrave board. 

Wednesday 16 March 2016

VBCW: Two Transports for the Wirral Socilaist Canal Workers Battalion

Here are my first two boats more or less finished (they still need crew and an anti-aircraft mounted Vickers, but that's just minor detailing. I opted for a flat green military looking paint scheme but in the end decided to add the colourful canal boat detailing just for fun (well it is VBCW after all)

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Photos from the West Midlands Military Show

Sunday saw me and my son  take a break from the routine and head off to Wolverhampton for a bit of retail therapy and inspiration at the West Midlands Military Show, a big wargaming and modelling convention. 

I bought a pile of sacks and crates from Ainsty castings (useful for all sorts of settings), some reaper Bones for Frostgrave, a couple of outbuildings for my French and Indian Wars farm, some Sailors form First Corps (for my VCBW Battalion) and a few other odds and sods. I also had a good chat with the owner of Charlie Foxtrot Models who make Laser-cut MDF buildings and have been inspired to try a truly mad idea later in the year (more of that closer to the time). Of course I also took time to wander around the many demonstration and participation games and to photograph a few of my favourites. 

In Her Majesties Name board- lots going on. 

Infinity City Scape (Some what stood out from the rest by virtue of its colour)

One of several nice Flames of War tables

My favourite label by far was the Very English Civil War table- not that I was biased at all because it was a demonstration game by my friends  Tym and Tom. The idea behind the game was a fast paced, swashbuckling game set in the English Civil War where various factions (some historic but some fictitious) vie for control over the captured monarch King Charles I. All pure fantasy of course, but great to look at. Last year Tym and Tom had an amazing VBCW board full of tiny vignettes and narrative elements. This years board was cram packed with even more of the same. I could have spent all day looking at it and kept spotting new things. 

Tym is a dab hand at tarting up Laser cut MDF houses- this one was covered in textured wallpaper and then painted.

Friday 11 March 2016

VBCW: Troop Transport Boats (Work In Progress)

Here are the first shots of the Wirral Socialist Canal Workers Battalion transport boats. These have been converted form 28mm scale models from Sarrissa Precision I have added an armoured prow (which will sport a passenger served Vickers MG on an AA mount) and armoured skirts to protect the pilot at the stern. The windows have been boarded up with armoured plates to create shooting ports for the passengers.

The two vessels will carry the bulk of my WSCW Batt. platoon. They have been fitted with somewhat cramped passenger cabin that will sleep twenty men (or fourteen men with a small sick bay and an officers mess) . There are designs faults, which is to be expected given this is VBCW. Firstly there is no access for the passengers to disembark from the sides of the vessel- All passengers must embark or disembark from the prow or stern of the vessel, making it a slow process. The walls have been reinforced with extra timber, sand bags and sheet steel (counts as improvised armour), but the roof and hull have not been armoured, making it vulnerable to air attacks, indirect artillery and underwater obstacles.  

Wednesday 9 March 2016

VBCW: The Wirral Socialist Canal Workers Battallion

This post marks the start of a new VBCW project I have been planning for years, and the fact that I have a VBCW game in Hereford coming up has given me the intensive to finally get it started.

History of the Wirral Socialist Canal Workers Battalion in the 1938 British Civil War

The Wirral Socialist Canal Workers Battalion is one of the battalions that make up the armed forces of the Wirral Socialist Workers Council. They have a depot in Ellesmere Port, on the Wirral, although they travel widely due to the nature of their work. Their brief is to protect the canal boats transporting goods between the Liverpool Free State to the Sociality enclaves in Birmingham and Stoubridge. This trade is vital to the survival of both socialist strongholds: Aid, in the form of guns, steel, coal and grain, is brought into the port of Liverpool from soviet Russia. From there it is transported across the Mersey to Ellesmere Port, loaded onto canal boats and it begins its journey to the West Midlands along the Shropshire Union Canal to Stourbridge and Birmingham. On their return journey the canal boats bring back vital weapon, munitions and machine parts from the heavy industrial factories of the Midland, as well as much needed manpower and technical knowledge in the form of volunteers willing to fight for the LFS and the WSWC.
Early experiments at arming boats to protect convoys by members of the Canal Workers Militia (later the Wirral Socialist Canal Workers Brigade)

In the Civil War in England, 1938, the slow moving canal boats are vulnerable attacks from Fascists and Royalist from Wolverhampton and Chester attempting to enforce the blockade of the Liverpool Free State. The chance of a of acquiring firearms and food makes the canal boats tempting targets for bandits and criminal elements too.  Initially the Canal Workers Battalion was formed as a militia  to supply armed men to ride on the canal boats, hoping to discourage attacks, but it was quickly realised that a more organised approach was needed, along with a lot more fire-power.  
Many of the pilots and captains for the armed canal boats were drawn from the ranks of the itinerant 'boat people' who plied the canals of Britain before the civil war broke out
Work began in early 1938 to develop armoured canal boats to protect the cargo carrying boats against the threat of attack. Initially there were hastily up-armoured canal boats fitted with boiler-plate skirts, but this idea rapidly developed and soon canal boats were being modified at Camell-Laird's in Birkenhead to the specifications of the Wirral Socialist Workers Council. The majority of these were troop transport consisting of a lightly armoured enclosed compartment accommodating up to twenty men, and their supplies. This was protected by a passenger served Vickers Machine Gun on an anti-aircraft mount. Another variant included a smaller passenger allowance but with the extra space being used for a small sick bay, a radio and an officers mess.

Gun crews and landing parties were recruited from Royal Navy sailors, merchant navy sailors and canal boat folk. Uniforms were based on marine navy uniforms to develop an esprit d'corps 
The Wirral Socialists Canal Workers Brigade also make use of canal boats specifically manufactured with military applications in mind, as opposed to the improvised modification for the troop transport. The most common of these was a river monitor based around the hull of a narrow barge- and fully armoured with heavy naval plating. It's main weapon was a turret mounted 2pdr antitank gun, and it has a secondary turret mounted Vickers MMG on the prow. All in all twelve monitors were made at Camell-Laird for the Wirral Socialist Canal Workers Battalion. 
A canal Boat on its way to Camell-Laird in Birkenhead to be converted into a 'Dragon'

Other attempts to use canal boats as mobile artillery platforms were less successful. Various weapon form 17pdr field guns to 8 inch howitzers were tried but the massive recoil and the unstable platform adversely affected the range and accuracy of the weapons. The most successful on these artillery pieces was the Rocket Propelled Field Artillery Barge, known by the nick-name 'The Dragon'. The Dragon used an experiment rocket technology developed in Liverpool by members of the Pitt Street (Chinese) Militia and later manufactured at Mr Soo's Factory in Liverpool. This weapon was wildly inaccurate even when used on land, and so the fact if was on a moving canal boat had little impact on its efficacy, and further more the lack of recoil meant there was less chance of it sinking the boat. The rockets were very unpopular with the crew, as they were almost as dangerous to the gunners as to the targets, however they did have the ability to saturate the bank of the canal with explosive shells, and so were an effective deterrent against infantry attacking the convoys.