Saturday, June 30, 2012

New Project - Arab-Israeli War, Golan Heights 1973, in 15mm

Israeli Centurion - Golan Heights, 1973
I hardly need a new project, but since when has that ever stopped or even focused my approach this hobby?  The summer has arrived here in the Canadian prairies.  Another successful and fun Prairiecon has come and gone. I have been busy with some fun small hobby projects.  But what sort of new venture might be out there - other than the new edition of 40k - assuming it ever arrives? Here is a blurb about my next project....

I have always been a fan of armour and tanks.  To be clear, a hobby fan.  I doubt I could fit safely into a real tank, particularly the Soviet/Russian ones, and I can't imagine what it would be like to be in a battle where all you can see is what is there through a small view-finder....but from a hobby perspective, tanks are very, very cool.  Most of my favourite games have involved lots of tanks.  I still remember back to the days when the Conscripts actually gamed on Fawcett Avenue, and Conscript Mark I. actually rolled out a 1-1 ratio, 6mm scale WW3 battle.  I told him "just fill the table with tanks!" and he obliged - we played a rules set called "Contact" (I think) and he had the better part of a WarPac tank regiment right there, in 6mm scale.  We controlled a thin line of NATO armour, and filled the table with wrecks before getting overrun. What a hoot!

So I wanted my summer/fall project to involve tanks, preferably modern.  But what "period" of modern?  Recently I have been reading about the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and particularly the desperate battle on the Golan Heights.  The Israelis, caught by surprise, and bereft of air support due to the Syrian air defence systems, were on their own as Syrian divisions swarmed the Israeli positions. The courage displayed on both sides was incredible - the Israeli tankers holding against dire odds, and the Syrian tankers advancing grimly into open fields of fire they must have known were already pre-ranged and pre-sighted by the Israeli Armoured Corps from their defensive positions along the heights.  The Israelis knocked out frightening amounts of Syrian amour, particularly in the area that came to be known as the "Valley of Tears".  At the same time, the Israelis were very nearly overrun.  It was a close call. 
Osprey books - even with their terrible writing style, they are great for snagging you into a new project!
The battle on the Golan Heights in 1973 featured all arms, but the primary combatants were tankers.  The Israelis relied on up-gunned and re-engined Centurion tanks, the "Sh'ot Kals".  The Syrians employed the T-55, as well as the new T-62.  With a fearsome 115mm main gun, heaviest in the front line in that time, the T-62 was feared.  This was a tank vs. tank battle more than anything else - very cool for gaming purposes.  So, my new project is the Golan Heights in 1973.

I have decided to go with 15mm as the scale.  I already have 6mm based for Spearhead, which is platoon based.  Those are fun games, but I am looking for a 1-1 ratio game.  The 12mm and N-scale stuff out there is not reliable - the Russian tanks from Minifigs are great, but there is no up-gunned Centurion in that scale. So 15mm it is. 

For the Israeli tanks, I will use models from Peter Pig. These miniatures are by far the best 15mm models out there, and Peter Pig has the most outstanding range of IDF stuff.  Their website is bonkers in terms of how frustrating it is to find stuff, but once you do, it is worth it.  Their IDF range is more tuned to the invasion of Lebanon in the early 80s than the 1973 Yom Kippur war.  The Centurions have some Blazer ERA, and extra MGs - features that were not present in 1973, but I don't care (at this point) - their tank models are so much nicer than anyone else's line, so these tanks will represent the Israelis on the Golan.
15mm scale Centurion "Shot" from Peter Pig - one of the nicest 15mm tanks I've ever assembled!
For the Syrians, I am looking to acquire lots of T-55s an T-62s. For the T-55, Peter Pig is at the forefront again, with an outstanding model in 15mm scale.  
T-55 from Peter Pig - once again, a top of the line model.
For the T-62s, it is trickier.  Peter Pig does not make a T-62 (sadly), so that leaves Old Glory and QRF. My experiences with QRF have been mixed at best, so I ordered a test pack from Old Glory (or Battle Honors, or whatever the f*ck it is called now - Old Glory is so confusing...).

T-62 in 15mm scale from Old get what you pay for, I guess....
The Old Glory T-62 is not about to set the hobby world on fire.  Cost wise, it is a great value.  But you seem to get what you pay I am ordering some additional T-62s from QRF.  We'll see what comes along...

I am also playing around with the idea of basing these tanks.  I have not based my 15mm tanks previously, but I have seen a lot of other gamers doing it, and it seems to make sense.  On the other hand, waiting for the bases from Litko will take a while.  So I will probably just paint the tanks, and order the bases...when they arrive, I will test some bases on a couple of them. 
Group shot - from left, a Peter Pig T-55, Old Glory T-62, and a Peter Pig Centurion. Peter Pig models are clearly nicer.
There will be a lot of new things to try.  I have no idea how to get the grey-green-dust colour that the Israeli armour seems to have in the colour pictures I have seen from 1973.  I also have to track down decals for the Israeli tank markings (chevrons, etc).   The Syrians employed a tricky green and yellow camouflage pattern, with arabic numerals on the turrets.  To paint the camouflage, I should really use an airbrush.  But I hate the needy, whiney airbrush, so will see what the regular brush can come up with.  And as for the Arabic numbers, that will take some research....

I hope to have some test models painted on the blog before the summer is too far along, and maybe a game this fall! Stay tuned. 


Dan said...

interesting project, I will be following.

Chris said...

Looking forward to how the tanks come out.

Don M said...

This is one of my all time favorite conflicts to wargame, best of luck on this project, I'll be sure to follow along!

Dallas said...

Outstanding... Love the new insane projects!

Anonymous said...

I've been playing around with the Yom Kippur War in 15mm using Flames of War. I've got a bit on my blog:

Paulalba said...

Same as Dan said a really interesting project. I will be following with thoughts for our club for the future.

Curt said...

Fab project, Greg! I know it'll be brilliant and look forward to playing with them.

Greg B said...

Thanks guys.
@ndc - do you have a copy of the rules mod you could/would share?

Chris said...

I am pumped to see this project happen. If it comes to Prairie con next year I'm going to be all over it. While I've never been a huge Arab/Israeli conflict fan, I have been more interested in doing some cold war gaming, and this might just be the tipping point I need to start a project of my own. Thanks and keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Send an e-mail to natholeon at and I'll send back what we've got. Definitely a work in progress and haven't tweaked them for 3rd edition yet, but plan to do this in the next few months.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed you've glued the T55 barrel in the wrong way around.
Something Peter Pig used to do and they make it!!