Saturday, 18 December 2010

and a little teaser...

Ok, some more 15mm stuff.

Some weeks ago I painted a Peter Pig 15mm Panzer IVG. It will be my company commander tank, so I used a Kerr and King resin base as on my french company commander (and no they are not supposed to be on the same table!)

Usually when I paint tanks I use as base Gunze Acrylic colors. They are very good and gave a decent base, plus being a little satin allow to represent the fact that tanks tend to be huge piece of metal. Sadly here in London I do not have my Gunze, and procuring them is quite arduous. SO I opted for a full Vallejo approach. The base was German Camouflage Ochre (VMC 824). Then I was a brown inking and a drybrush with Tan Yellow (VMC 912). Then the camouflage scheme was added. Then a light dry brush with off white and finally black lining with black ink. I am quite pleased with the experiment.

As usual my photographic skills are crappy.

The next project is forming up on my mind...

Ok, arctic weather is closing on London and my flight is Monday...

anyway with the French almost packed up (Tomorrow some pictures before fitting them in my shiny new KR case I am already thinking on the next project. I have to admit, despite being italian, being a military historian in an UK university and describing myself as an unabashed american supporter I have a sort of soft spot of the French Army...

I have just read "Our Friends Beneath the Sands" by Martin Windrow and one of the best book I ever read is "The Last Valley" both by Martin Windrow. I am feeling myself strongly gravitating toward Indochina. I have already reserved two 15mm M24 for the project, but the cost of Eureka 15mm is making me thinking about going 10mm Pendraken. Knowing myself I will got both. 15mm for smaller actions, probably using crossfire indochina (Contre Le Viets), and 10mm for bigger IASBM and CWC games. I already have good terrain for both scale. Also the 10mm approach will allow me to produce more different units, including my favourite of the period, the 5me BPVN.

Certainly I will paint a artillery battery both in 15mm and 10mm, 105mm howitzers from the 4eme Regiment D'Artillerie Coloniale, led by a young frenchman called Paul Brunbrouck.

My M24s will have the names of the 10 bisons at Dien Bien Phu, another good reasons to have them in 10mm!

Do not know why but everytime I think of that book I start to cry. Anyway another good source of the battle is the almost forgotten French Movie "Dien Bien Phu". It is a docudrama and the director was a friend of Bigeard and Langlais and he was a cineoperato in the french army. He dropped on DBP and survived both the battle and the Vietminh prison camp. While the movie is sometime slow and a bit difficult to follow (ok I watched it when I was a 16 years old high school student and in French...), it is still a good overview of the battle, especially if you have Windroow's book under your belt.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Update and some thoughts...

Ok the UK part of the french is done. Need to matt varnish them and take picture... weather permitting. Plan for home are the last 2 B1Bis and finished the infantry with the 25mm APX guns. Depending on my christmas guest I will do that before the end of the year or early in 2011... Gosh, completeted project sounds so weird!

Now some thoughts on wargame designing. Yesterday I attened a roundtable at my college on that and, a designer who shall be not names, massively disappointed me displaying a lack of understanding of what he was advising the student to do, and when I pointed out the problem he simply brushed off a simulation I was quiting as a good example as "nazi". The simlpke fact was that he had no idea of the terrain he was talking about. I draw general land pointed lessons from the overall bulge operation and then shoehorned it in Bastogne in particular without understanding the terrain in the area was different. To me his "advice" was pretty much wrong and ev en deterimental for the student wanting to design that simulation.

That made me thinking twice on the art of wargame designing. How much often we have games not supported by historical research? How often people just draw conclusion from an operation and export wholesale to another completely unrelated one?

Ok, that person was a friend of my second supervisor and he is generally a good chap, so I restrained myself from the comment "Ok, have you read anything or are you just making up stuff right now?".

But I have it is not the first time I see stuff like that. I cannot comment in depth on a game on the ECW or the WSS. But I can comment in depth on ancient warfare, WW2 and postwar conflicts. Tha person pretended to have ideas for everything from Caesar to Petraeus, and sadly some of his comments betrayed a lack of knowledge.

Sadly this is a often common trait, in a previous post I complained on the lack of sound historical research in wargaming... it is a trend who is becoming more and more evident?

Ok end of my rant.

Friday, 10 December 2010

A new project coming along... the French are coming!

Ok this is quite unusual for me... posting about a project that is indeed coming to conclusion. Several years ago I decided I wanted a 15mm French army. Bought some stuff from my favourite WW2 15mm manufacturer, Peter Pig. I painted a couple of them and then, as too often happened I got sidetracked.

Anyway the recent fuss about early war has again motivated me. In my last sojourn home I start to experiment with the french infantry and painted one PP Somua 35, lovely model. Then Moved back to my happy exile in London and bought some new stuff and...

painted it!

I decided I want company sized force for IASBM. It will be actually two company, one armoured, one infantry. The armour right now has priority. It comprises of 7 B1Bis (one company commander, two 3 tanks platoons), 3 R35, one platoon of attached infantry and one battery of 75mm guns. Right now I need to finish 2 B1Bis (sitting at home) and one last infantry squad (same location). Here I have 4 B1Bis, 3 R-35 and the artillery. 2 of the 75mm still needed to be based too.

You can see the heavy tank in the picutures.
I have used the three colour scheme, the Company commander has a more "weathered" approach, Not sure if I really like it. To further differentiate it I have also used a Kerr&King base.
Beacuse I want my platoons to have a theme, Ihave named the CO "Saigon" (ok I am fascinated by the far east) while the first platoon has the tanks "Noumea" "Papeete" and "Tumbuctou" they are colonies conquere by the naval infantry. The 2nd platoon that I will paint in the Christmas break will have algerian themed names.

I have used Battlefront decal... but the force is all from Peter Pig. I hope to have pictures of the R-35 and the guns before the end of the week end.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Spotty research and wargame rulesets

Ok, this is a bit of a rant, but a good way to start. Recently I was doing some re-reading of a ruleset I like, Division Commander, and in the pacific supplement I spotted some very very poor research.

What has made me so willing to goes public with my complaints? Of course not the recent discussion with the author on TMP where he shown a distinct lack of research integrity, but the magnitude of the error, something that not even Wikipedia would have done.

The Pacific supplement is riddled with errors...

on Guadalcanal scenario 2 the American forces are the 1st Marine Division... and the 5th Marine division! At the time of the campaign the 5th Division has yet to be raised. In the same scenario the Japanese receives the Kawaguchi brigade (no problem) and the Hyakertak brigade... not what is the Hyakertak brigade? Probably Hyakertak is a corruption of Hyakutake (yes I am aware of a controversy on his first name Harukichi, Seikichi or Haruyoshi, but the family name never changes). But General Hyakutake Seikichi was the commander of the 17th Army not a brigade commander. He commanded the Kawaguchi brigade the 2nd and 38th divisions, the 65th brigade and the rest of the poor Ichiki detachment. The scenario is supposed to represent the big October offensive, so the 38th division was still to be shipped (the defeat of its convoy would play a pivotal role in the campaign) so I was expecting at least the 2nd "Sendai" infantry division... but nothing only a fancy fantasy brigade... but lets move forward, to the actual division OoB, neatly represented on division cards...

The two japanese units combined have a whopping 4 field artillery, 3 mountain and two heavy battalions... and only 7 infantry battalions. Now a quick glance at Rottman's order of battles for the October offensive will show that the japanese actually employed a whopping 15 battalions... while its artillery was only 2 mountain battalion, 2 field artillery and 2 companies of heavy, plus it was under strenght and without a lot of ammunition... on the other hand the Americans received only 2 field artillery battalions, while the 1st marine division (reinforced by the 164th Infantry Regiment) ad around 4 alone much more effective and with much more ammunition.
also in the American order of battle there were several critical units not represented as the paramarine or the the raiders, the divisional tank battalion (while the Japanese receive a full light tank battalion equipped with type 95 tank, incorrectly labelled Kyu-Go instead of Ha-Go; in reality they had a single tank company mainly equipped with 10 type 97 medium and 2 type 95 light. Now I know that Division Commander units are battalions, but the order of battles are complete fantasy).

I will not dwell in other problems except another glaring one, the USMC M3 Lee tanks... now you will be very surprised... you have never heard of M3 Lee tanks in USMC service. Simply put they never had them in service. The only American employment of M3 Medium "General Lee" tanks in the pacific happened courtesy of the 193 Tank Battalion from the US Army in Buritari island (Makin Atoll). This is all. No more US M3 Lee, except recovery version in the pacific... still Division commander graces us with an M3 battalion in every USMC division...

The point? All the sources are open and quickly available online or on easily obtainable books, so why are still treated to poor research like this one? I do not have an answer except thinking the author is less knowledgeable than he wants to appear in other forum, yet the rules are good, but before using them I will have to rewrite the complete division organizations.

Coming soon... post world war two naval wargaming... an insoluble dilemma? and then some nice pictures (If I will be able to take decent pictures) of my latest painting.

Welcome at the Forward HQ

Ok, everything has a start... and this is the start of my blog.

My name is Arrigo and I am a military history researcher in good old England (and before you start to wonder I hail from Italy, I had just to emigrate to do some research).

My interests are about history, military history, and wargaming... actually I cannot separate those three. This Blog will be mainly about wargaming and military history. some of you readers will undoubtedly already know my polemical streak from other forums as my unorthodox views. I hope that blog will help to put some basis in my polemics and showcase my wargaming activities.

And, above all, I sincerely hope everyone sharing my interests will enjoy it.