Monday, 8 December 2014

HIJMS Mikasa and a thanking note


while I was at warfare my eye caught glimpse... (oh my god) of Paul Sulley new range of pre-dreadnought ships in 1/2400 scale. I am a supported of Tumbling Dice miniatures and I like Paul sculpting style. I am also a Naval Historian... furthermore recently I am dwelling in the period thanks to some friends and their research... so I got hooked and bought some ships.

The first one I painted is the iconic HIJMS (His Imperial Japanese Majesty Ship) Mikasa. It is not for me (I will do the one in the fleet starter pack I have on order for myself), but it is for a realyl good friend who, beside being a talented naval historian, has decided to gift me of a new digital camera. I will paint some more ships and then send them to the land of the Rising Sun as a way to say thank you.

But because I am quite happy with the result (and quite impressed with the sculpting style) here are some pictures for the public:

Lads, there are the casemate guns!
 Deck planking is here... and before you wonder about the strange scribbling... handwritten Hiragana saying: Mikasa

The base is plasticard textured with Vallejo water effects.

Now some historical note on the ship.  The Mikasa was ordered  with three other battleships in Britain in the period 1896-1897. with the two ships already completed, Fuji and Yashima they were to form the core of the new Imperial Navy and of the 6-6 fleet, 6 battleships, 6 armoured cruisers. The Mikasa was the last one to be ordered and built ( the other three being Shikishima, Hatsuse, Asahi in that order). She was armed with two twin turrets with 305mm (12") guns and 14 6" quick fire guns in casemate mountings on her sides. The main turrets were electrically operated (with manual emergency system) and could be loaded on any elevation, her rate of fire was three round per minute. not that bad. The armour was of KC homogeneous steel. When Vickers shipyard completed her (1902) she was the most powerful battleship afloat. she fought at the Battle of the Yellow Sea and Tsushima.

Her combat record was mixed. At yellow sea one of her turret was disabled and the Russian ships pounded her quite a lot, in additioan the explosive powder used in her shells (called Shimosa) was highly unstable creating a lot of troubles. she sank in 1905 weeks after the Treaty of Portsmouth due to a combustion of Shimosa filled shells. Of course having been Admiral Togo's flagship she was raised again. Re-rated as coast defense battleships she served in WW1 and then decomissioned and transformed in a memorial in 1923. she was scheduled to be broken up according to the Washington Treaty, but every signatory country agreed to save her. In 1945, she was in awful condition but a certain Chester W. Nimitz sponsored a fund raising campaign to save her again. Again in 2009 sailor from the CVN-68 USS Nimitz helped repainting her.  she is still existing and open to the public. So if you happen to wander around Yokosuka, have a look! she is the only original existing pre-dreadnought  around.

no I have not disappeared... and I have some Marines to prove it!

Well, despite not having posted here for little more than a month I am not dead, well my old digital camera was... but thanks to the kindness of a good friend i have now a nice new one capable of much better shots (at least in theory, there is always the same crappy guy at the controls... me). Anyway I have also been away from more than two weeks doing what I am supposed to do in my daytime job, teaching and advising. I cannot talk on the latter, but I am pleased to have been able to meet the new crop of Conflict Simulation students, nice, motivated, and, probably, a bit better than some of the past years.

Anyway I have also had my birthday and got some new games that I will soon review (yes for the people who cannot wait: Kim Kanger's Dien Bien Phu, D-Day at Tarawa, Carrier Battle Group Solo). I have also been at Warfare (ahhhh my wallet is still screaming). Anyway I am doing several things at once (as usual).

First of all let's fill on the post title... I did another USMC fire team using the excellent Empress Miniatures... contemporary USMC. It is an in action fire team, 3 M16A4 (one with M203) and an M27 (The return of the automatic rifle as in 1960 with the automatic M-14, better I do not start another tirade on the silliness of the Corps...) and instead leave you to see the troops...

Here we are, the Team leader is pointing while his troops are firing. I like the poses, probably it is one of the best mix of poses in the USMC range.
 Flash! I used (actually Miss Canon) used the flash but the colors are still good.

A bit off center, but I want to zoom on the kneeling rifleman.

Well I have to say that...

1) I am extremely satisfied with this little pack
2) I think there is a little improvement in my ability to take pictures... thanks to the new camera.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Are we approaching censorship?

Well, another non eye-candy post. Today I am non plussed by some of my fellow wargamers and by the German law... As some of you, my dear readers know, I am regular lurker and occasional poster on the honorable Lead Adventure Forum. I have decided it is a much better place than some silly ethereal locales like the frothers or the miniatures page. The only downside of LAF is that,  being hosted in Germany , there are some strict rules on symbols to follow. I have always followed them (slipping once, not realizing on of the picture  posted contained a view of the tail of a German WW2 plane...) but, frankly I think that the law:

1) is stupid, not displaying the symbol has not prevented the resurgence of extreme right movement there.

2) that smacks of gestapo... (ok controlling the thought of people...)

3)  it is a law enacted by an hypocrite government... at least one of the officers of the honour guard at Adenauer funeral was an SS battalion commander involved in the suppression of the Warsaw uprising. 

Said that it is the law of an European Country where the forum is hosted and I have no qualm in following it as disgusting in principle and application is. Yet... now something else happened. ISIS/ISIL/Those Pesky Mass Murderer has been declared illegal in Germany (great thing). Nothing bad, they are terrorist and declaring them an illegal organization was overdue (and not a terrorist bastard is not someone else Freedom Fighter, he is still a terrorist bastard). But the law seems also to imply that displaying images related to them is illegal so, to avoid problems the moderators of LAF have decided to...

completely close any discussion on wargaming of the whole contemporary (after the fall of the Berlin's Wall to... well to the future) period. This has been done both to safeguard the forum agaisnt possible legal trouble (unpleasant but understandble move) and to appease people that were claiming 

Well, I think the decision has been unwise, unsound, and hypocrite. Historical wargaming is about real warfare. Too close too home my ass, it is war. WW2, Afghanistan, Punic Wars... what have they different? People died everywhere. Warfare has been always here. To the moderator of LAF I can only say honestly... cut the crap... war is not getting closer to home right now, it has been for the last 13 years if not more, all this thing was just caving in to some people that were just trying to impose their own view on the whole community. I have friends and acquaintance who fought in Vietnam, they knows I am gaming and writing about Vietnam. I have gamed middle east with people who fought there, and they had no problem. In January I will game Falklands with the British commanders... close to home? Close to home my ass. We are treated to countless SS on the WW2 board... but discussing contemporary warfare is close to home and thus forbidden. 

As much I can understand the legal issue in the decision (but they could have solved in a much less nazist way) I think LAF has lost a battle about  freedom of speech and also has set an extremely bad precedent, both in democracy and in wargaming.

As parting shot I have a thought to these people who were bothered about contemporary wars... well you bunch of idiotic, hypocrite jerks, not only this world has been at war for at least three millenniums, but I do not care one inch if you are offended by my wargaming, I just hope that you bastards will soon rot in hell... I will not stop to play my games just because you feel offended, as I will not stop to study and teach military history. Also wars will not stop just because you think they are too close to home.

I would says that the moderators have acted in a manner to, in principle, different from the bastard terrorists. Well... I would suggest that they qualify for the same answer:

Joint Direct Attack Munition.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

A general update

Well no eye candy (you already got it) but a lot of talking. 

Recently I was trying to rationalize my miniature holdings and looking at my projects. I have too many, but this is common, I have some that probably are dead... but also this is sadly common. Certainly I need to better link rules, troops, and scales.  So I decide to rationalize what I am doing both to avoid duplication, and its associated wastage, and to focus my effort in finishing some thing for once. 

The first thing I need is to have a rough list of the things I am working on on the miniature side of the Forward HQ.

At the moment the active projects are:

15mm   Europe 1944-45. Well this is almost completed.  The soviets are done, I only need to retouch on the new standard some mortar bases, and paint two 45mm guns. Germans are as done as they can be. I have to bring myself to paint some Normandy fortifications to empty the last bits. Said that I do not see what I can add to them, I have everything. Well I have some primed dismounted tank crews to finish in the spare moments. The British are almost done. 2 more infantry sections to do. Then they are done. Done.  DONE! The US troops are a mess but more orl ess I have only to fill gaps and finishing some painting. Sot his is good and covered. The rules linked to them are IASBM and Chain Of Command.

28mm Autumn-winter 1944-45. Boys... done. I finished the last infantry squad of my German platoon three days ago.  I have a German platoon, an US platoon (you saw the pictures here), one British para platoon. I am satisfied. Only thing I would like to put are a US 57mm and a german 75mm anti tank guns, and probably a Panzer IV (plastic). Burt more importantly I want to break them out for some gaming. The rules I plan to use for them are Chain of Command of course but also NUTS if I want some squad size action.I have also Rules of Engagement and Disposable Heroes and they both look useful and convenient for some small games.

Lion Rampant. I have got the rules recently, after some chart on BGG with Dan Mersey. They are excellent. More to the point they allow me to do what I like to do with 28mm, namely a relaxed games with plausible outcomes and not too many troops on the table so I can have a certain feel. 15mm os smaller scale are for long battle lines, 28mm has to have characters. I have plenty of stuff that only wait to be completed. I am almost done with my first War of the Roses Retinue (usable also for the WOTR variant of Sharp Practice, well probably that will be its main use, but Lion Rampant gave me a quick way to throw together a sensible retinue).

Modern 28/15mm. I love contemporary forces, I have a big collection in both scales. My problem is rules. I started with Ambush Alley/Force on Force for 28mm ( I settled on them after having tried other sets) and I like them. Yet I realized that if the original scenarios in the original edition were all squad sized nowadays the scenarios always end up being more or less on the platoon side. Nothing wrong, the rules perfectly works... but let's face it with the prices and my budgets it is a bit unwieldy. To that there are two other issues. One is cramming of of the table. Yes you can have a reinforced platoon supported by several AFVs but in 28mm it looks weird. The second issues is that I am not really happy to paint so many troops on the table in 28mm. The current sculpts are wonderful, but if you simply fill the table with them you do lose their character. They also require you to paint hordes in camouflaged uniforms. The answer is to use 15mm for  the larger scenarios (I just painted a T-72BA platoon in 15mm!)  and keep the outings in 28mm at squad level. And, if you use few miniatures why not simply using Skirmish Sangin? Well this has been a quite effective way to do things. It saved me a lot of headaches and, even better, gave me strength to push forward and to rationalize two overlapping collections. I have dubbed the 28mm effort project Sangin and and the 15mm one... Project Force!

Cold War Contemporary 6mm (and 3mm). Another long term project (started at the turn of the century more or less...). I have now sizable forces for several nations in several variations (as you have seen here last week).  When I started I was focused on platoon scale sets (mainly Modern Spearhead), recently I got interested in company scaled actions. The advantage of the latter is that you really have the supporting assets (artillery for example) on table and you can easily maneuver a division.  I have reworked my 1987 US Forces for that and I am quite satisfied. One advantage is that battalion and regiment/brigade actions are still doable. One issue is that... I fallen in love with 3mm models from Oddyzal Osmy. Probably they are better suited for this level of gaming. Especially you can reduce the discrepancy between troops and ground scale and one of my pet peeve, road width! I enjoy painting them and they are quite affordable. The main doubt i have now is basing, going for singles or having 2 or 3 tanks per base?  I was thinking the latter, but I have seen wonderful single bases around the blogs. Here I need to experiment more.

Well this is just a preview of where I will focus my painting efforts in the next months, so you can expect more details soon. 

Empress USMC, the specialists


I am slowly chronicling my efforts to complete my small group of Empress USMC that I got as just reward for my kickstarter last January (ugh... so long ago how time flew... it is starting to look cold and gloomy again here...). I called them the specialists because they are not a a fire team, it is just random mix of Marines with specific weapons, a M240G, a M249, a M39, and a vanilla M16A4. Now do not get me wrong, they are lovely sculpts, but I find the mix quite useless... well I can even complain on the lack of a SMAW pack while we got an 81mm Mortar... lovely sculpt again, but what is its usefulness in a sensible 28mm table (except in some adaptation of that pathetic excuse for a rule set called  Bolt Action an 81mm mortar minimum range is more or less your average gamin table) ?

Anyway back at the miniatures. Here we have the group shot:

Well sculpted as we are now used with the team at Empress with lovely details. The flash suppressor of the M249 was bent out of shape and while trying to bend it back I broke uit, but I was able to repair it (more or less, I am more worried with some damage to my Chinese rifles... again finally scaled miniatures have some problems, problems that I aggravated in storage...).

Now let's talk of the guys in detail. The Machinegunner is prone, and it was quite nice to paint. I reminds me of the nice one I did for the US Army set.

The SAW guy, the Automatic rifleman, is also nice. I am not realyl sure it is a good firing pose too. I had dealt with the SAW in the past and just one year and half ago I was physically reminded of its weight (and seeing girls trying to lift one of them and assume a proper firing position was... well I was looking at the girls and not so much at the SAW... but they complained a lot).

Well, the barrel does not even look too bad. The knelling rifleman is one of my favourite, I like his face.

Finally we have the marksman. Another good pose with a nice feel.

Now... they were a joy to paint even if the pack seems a bit thrown together.  The range lacks a Javelin and a SMAW for sure... and maybe even a ground mounted TOW.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Well... I had another thing to show you...

The 8th Infantry Division is complete but now I am working on another 6mm Divisional project. The 24th Mechanized Infantry Division for Desert storm. Again I am re-using older pieces giving them a new and fresh paint job. A quite spiffy one If you ask me. The division is a bit more than half done (two brigades done, one to go, no artillery or support) but still a work in progress, so this is more a teaser than anything else. When operation Desert Sabre, the 100 hours war started the 24th Mech had two of its brigades, a separate brigade attached (the 197th from the Infantry School at Fort Benning, because the National Guard Brigade that was supposed to fill that role was awfully unprepared...) and a full Cavalry Regiment under operational control (OPCON). The division had all its tank battalion equipped with M1A1 Abrams and its three organic mechanized Battalions equipped with M2 (the majority A1) Bradlely. The two mechanized battalions that came with the 197th were still with M113.

what you have just seen is just a teaser of the whole force, the equivalent of one brigade in company scale or an armor heavy team in 1 to 1.

If I want to play in platoon scale...
 I just need to add one M106 mortar carrier (you can see it) and one more M1A1... to have a full Tank Heavy Task Force as 1-64 Armor. Now... you have also seen that there is a change in the style of the label attached to the bases... well I got bored to paint them and now I design them on my laptop and then print. Save a lot of hassle, plus the division badges are much easier to do this way!

All the sculpts are Heroic and Ros, and are, in my unbiased opinion, quite nice. They are not doing an M2A2 plain (they do the one with attached ERA blocks) but the A1 they do is quite nice

 Especially considering that I redid these so they have basically two layers of paint! (and yest I could have cleaned the flash... my fault...
 I think the command base is particularly nice. There is an M577 and an M1A1. Usually I drybrush the tanks, but for these two I instead picked up the edges. I think the effect is much better. The M2 were dry-brushed because they have more raised spots, but the relatively flat Abrams and M113 benefit more from the hard edge technique. Of course I then did the black-lining on everyone!

Yes I like M1A1!

Before disappearing again... I want to update you on my 6mm Modern Italian Project. Freakazoitt the Talented 3D modeler that did the Centauro has now done also the Ariete tanks.

Here you can see his work:

 They are available in a pack of 3 or 5 and to save money in a pack of 10 with 3 Centauro.

Have a look at his shapeways shop he does some very nice pieces (also some WW1 one tanks that are awesome) in different scale, 6mm, 10mm, and 15mm. Support his work!

For today it is the end. There are still some news lining up... but today was a quite bust blogging day. As the Commander of the Forward HQ I need to go away...

Germany 1987 a new project (using old collections...)

We stay in the modern era but we are now going back to the cold war. Back in time I built a large collection of 6mm miniatures for the Cold War. At the time the rules of choice were Modern Spearhead. I still like them but recently I have been caught by the Cold War supplement for Planetary Operations. You have companies instead of platoons, this means you can have artillery on table and have a bit of air battle. It does not require any rebase (ok the rules suggests some new bases taken stright out of FoW... but I keep mine) and this is good. I can play Planetary Ops, MSH, CWC, A Fistful of TOWs, and, when they will be out, also I Ain't Been Nuked Mum. With a full division I have plenty of stuff to create smaller units. The negative part was that my US Army collection dates to several years ago when I started painting 6mm... so I took the opportunity for changing some liveries...

Here for your perusal it is the entire ground force from the 8th Infantry Division back from Germany in 1987. The Cobras are not there, I will take the pictures another time. The vehicles are all Heroic and Ros except the M1 (vanilla) Abrams that are Scotia (and a nice model to be blunt). Now plain M1 are available also from H&R.

Well this is my division box... being an American unit battalions for infantry and tanks are 4 companies strong (with infantry having an anti tank company too), three batteries strong for artillery and variable for other specialties. In 1987 the 8th Infantry was still switching to new equipment, thus there is a quite a lot of variation.

Two tank battalions and the Cavalry Squadron had still M60A3:

I have painted them in Verdant MERDC scheme.

One Battalion was still equipped with M1 Abrams, painted in CARC overall forest Green. The models are from Scotia. They have moulded on MGs (bot Commander and Loader) and some stowage on the turret bustle:

Finally two battalions had already received M1A1 Abrams in three colours NATO scheme. They H&R Vehicles have separate MG but only for the commander.
Here you can see all the sample tanks together, in company scale it is the equivalent of a brigade of four battalions:

The infantry was still moved by M113 and an ITV, here in Autumn MERDC.
Beside the maneuver units the division was supported by artillery with M109 and M110, Enginneers with M728CEV, M163 PIVADS and finally M113ACAV in the Cavalry Squadron. Also you can see the Division command stand with several vehicles in it.

The ACAVs are from Scotia. Not a great model, but at the time it was the only one available at decent prices and the old GHQ was at the same level anyway...

Well for this mega update it is the end. Goodbye from the commander at the Forward HQ until the next because it is time for me to sleep writing on the blog is tiresome!

Project Sangin, update

Ok... I was hoping to have the first part of my review of Skirmish Sangin, but instead I have finished my HMMWVs in 28mm. Three vehicles, all from Empress (technically two were bought still from Imprint) equipped with different weapons. They are the basic light mobile support for both my Marines and Army platoons. I plan to use them mainly in Skirmish Sangin and Force on Force. They will be used in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, in the Andromeda Galaxy (WHAAAT!), and in the fictional island of Baraqui (and yest the last two are teasers...).

Only the one in the foreground is new, the other two were already around and had already made an appearance here. In the end they are two in woodland camo and one in desert sand. I think it it a good mix and allow me to operate in different environments.  They are quipped with a TOW launcher, a 40mm MK19 GL, and, finally, a M2 Machine Gun. The Empress Hummers are probably the best on the market, the detail is crisp, and they paint up really well. I went for a very subdued and worn woodland pattern. I am pleased with the effect. Here you can see the details:

But I went for faded colours. By the way the last picture has been taken with flash and the window glass are not really nice. Probably I need a new camera... but they turned my manuscript down (usual answer it is good and the argument strong and convincing, but at the moment I have so many books to follow that I need to disengage... the only good part is that probably the review had been done by Dale Andrade... so it is encouraging; anyway stop with real life digressions!)

One parting top view:

I hope to have them in action very soon, stay tuned!

Number 2 Platoon...

Well one week has passed from my last post... another British infantry platoon is done. Only one more to go... thanks god! I like the figures, but painting so many troops in the same uniform without interruption is stressing, I have now changed subjects... anyway we are almost done so it is not too bad. The company HQ has already been done, the individual squad leaders too. Just another platoon...

This time, as already discussed I have used FoW rural bases. They are quite nice but In the end I decided to add some foliage clumps, not the sea of grass as in some other pictures (well what is the point of having sulpted bases if you drown them in grass?), just to add some colour.  As already mentioned... the holes are too small for the miniatures... PSC of FoW does not matter, they are too small. I had to cut the circular figure bases to size... the holes are too small even for their own inserts... go figure. My comments on the PSC figures stay, they are very nice as you can see from the details:

 This is one of my favourite bases. The fence is a nice touch.

Platoon commander with medic.

Ok we are done for this British Army update, I hope you like them.