Friday, October 25, 2013

Winter Approaches - WW2 Russians in 15mm

For the motherland!!
(Please note this is a cross post from Curt's Analogue Hobbies Blog). In his recent post, Curt unveiled our latest little project - late WW2 in winter on the eastern front in 15mm.  He asked me to share some progress photos on the Russian side of the project, so here is a Russian rifle platoon and tank platoon decked out in winter gear and basing.

You will see in these photos that a) I do not have a light box (one of these days maybe, but anyway) so sorry about the photos and b) that I have not yet cottoned on to Curt's very sensible basing scheme using different shapes to denote different functions in skirmish gaming (hex for officers etc).

Part of my hobby nuttiness is an undue rigidity in my preferences on basing i.e. if the infantry are round then they are all round dammit! This works well enough for skirmishing with 15mm sci-fi figures, where the function/role of an individual figure can stand out against the ambient table background a little better because of crazy painting, large weapons among other factors.

But for skirmishing at 15mm WW2, it's tricky to see the different weapons sometimes (or maybe all the time for some players).  So I have ordered some new bases! But in the interim, labels will have to do for my fellows until I get them sorted on to new bases....anyway, on to the figures!

Russian infantry advance through the snow
A sniper waits in ambush - the snipers were pretty scary when we tried Chain of Command, so I thought it would be fun to include one
The infantry in this post are from Peter Pig (in my opinion the very best WW2 15mm figures out there, if you can figure out their bloody web site).  The only exception is the sniper - a spare from a Battlefront pack.  The infantry contingent includes three nine-man squads, two officers and a sniper.  Enough for a Bolt Action of Chain of Command-type skirmish game.

Another view of the charging Russian troops - beautiful sculpts from Peter Pig
After experimenting with different sorts of snow-flake type groundwork products, I opted instead for gel.  I used a mix of different gel mediums on the bases, painting the snow a light blue-grey, and then dry-brushing various shades of white, before tossing in some dirt and adding some grass.  The photos make the grass look really yellow but that is a reflection of the lighting issues on the photos - the grass looks much less lively in person.

The officers are front and centre in this shot
I have been wanting to do winter WW2 gaming for years, and talking about doing it for years (Dallas, I know, has heard me blab about it many times), but I always hung up on the details before getting started.  I didn't really know how to do snowy terrain.  It seemed pointless to duplicate my existing 15mm stuff. I didn't want to get another set of table terrain.  Lots of reasons (read: excuses) which, oddly, never popped into my head when I thought of doing, say, desert terrain.  So I'm glad Curt finally kicked me into gear on this one.

There are so many compelling campaigns from winters on the Eastern Front - the counter-offensive at Moscow, the counter-offensive around Stalingrad, fighting around Kharkov, the liberation of the Ukraine, the fighting around the Korsun and Cherkassy pockets.  There is something about the winter of the Eastern Front that is extremely mournful...I can't wait to play some winter games.

The NCO is a blurry with the SMG, but you can see the LMG on the right
The tanks are all from the Plastic Soldier Company. Close inspection will reveal I likely put the wheel assemblies on backwards on one of the tanks.  I don't know what it is about model tanks, but that is just something I'm prone to doing. Even the relatively straightforward PSC model tanks are a cluster f*ck in my modelling hands...oh well.  I will never turn heads at the IPMS.

T-34/76 from Plastic Soldier Company
A great thing about the PSC tanks is the spare turret - you can upgrade your drive on Kharkov to a drive to the Oder with the quick switch of a turret!

Quick turret switch and you upgrade to a late-war Guards tank regiment with T-34/85s in no time
Many winter vehicle models I have seen online have a very pristine white paint jobs on them. But that never makes sense to me.  I imagine the life of tankers on the Eastern Front. Who had time to take the tanks for a nice, proper paint job at the depot?  The tanks were needed at the front! The pressure was on to continue the advance! Particularly on the Eastern Front, where the Russian army typically launched shattering counter-offensives and offensives in the winter.  The tanks were driven through all manner of rough terrain, in incredibly tough elements, in combat conditions that to my mind would wear away a rapidly applied field paint job.

Ready to roll toward the Baltic and the Oder river
And winter is seldom pristine on vehicles of any colour.  Snow looks pretty and white in post cards (and at Christmas), but I know from growing up here in Winnipeg, snow gets dirty, mushy, and messy in no time at all.  So I tried to reflect that on these tanks - hard-living and hard-fighting T-34s of the Motherland!  Lots of paint chipping, weathering, soot and mud from the hard work of driving the fascist vipers from Mother Russia.

Soot. Exhaust. Mud. Fun!
I'm really glad to have made a start on the winter 15mm stuff.  I look froward to getting these on the table against Curt's fine late-war winter Germans next month.  I am also going to start on some winter 15mm Germans of my own so we can do some winter games here with the group in Winnipeg.  And the neat thing about winter is that once you have winter Germans, then maybe I can go to some winter Americans...and Battle of the Bulge?  One thing at a time...

Monday, October 14, 2013

15mm Sci-Fi "Leopard 4A2" Tanks - Finished!

 A couple weeks ago I posted some photos of a platoon of "Leopard 4A2s" - Leopard 2's that I'd converted with plasticard and metal bits into armoured support for my new 15mm NAC force.

I have to admit that the original photos didn't really show the models off to their best advantage (in other words, they looked kind of crap) but I'm happy that the paint jobs have improved things significantly.

Since the models all came with open hatches (and a rubbery crew figure) I converted some GZG NAC figures to serve as crew. They came from pack no. A10. I simply cut them off at the waist and stuck them in the turrets - I think it worked out pretty well.  The crewman above was a kneeling figure looking through a monocular.

 "Red" here was a standing female officer holding her helmet. She looks good as a tank commander.

The chap above is using his iPad to work out a firing solution (or maybe just playing Angry Birds??)

Conscript Mike dropped off some Battlefront decals the other night so I've used some as a squadron marking.
 Here are the tanks together with the Siku Fuchs APCs painted by Holger. Pretty decent matchup I think.

All in all I'm reasonably please with how the project turned out. It probably didn't end up being significantly cheaper than going with "commercial" ready-made 15mm sci-fi tanks, and the conversion took a bit of work, but the end result is unique and fits the theme of the force. Look out Control Battalion!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Such tiny, tiny ships!" - more Russo-Japanese War naval action

Last year I ran a fairly well-received Russo-Japanese War naval scenario, re-creating the Battle off Ulsan. I do enjoy playing pre-dreadnought cruiser engagements. The action is fast and furious, and you don't have to keep track of lots of big battleships, aircraft, or submarines.

I have since purchased some more 1/2400 scale Russian and Japanese ship models from Panzerschiffe. The statement quoted in the title above was made by my wife, remarking on the size of these little resin models. (That`s a Canadian quarter in the photo below.)

Camera Roll-250

I got enough cruisers and gun- and torpedo-boats to recreate the Battle of Chemulpo Bay, fought on Feb. 9, 1904 near the current Incheon, Korea. At the time, the Russians had a couple of ships in Chemulpo Bay, the main port for Seoul. There was the Variag, a protected cruiser, and the Korietz, an older gunboat (pictured at the top of the page). This battle, one of the opening engagements of the war, was part of a larger strategic plan by the Japanese to inflict a pre-emptive strike against Russian assets.

The Japanese commander delivered a letter to the Russian cruiser Variag and neutral vessels, including the British cruiser Talbot, the French cruiser Pascal, the Italian cruiser Elba, and the U.S. gunboat USS Vicksburg and collier USS Pompey:

Chemulpo Roadstead, February 8. 1904.

Sir: I have the honor to notify you that as hostilities exist between the Empire of Japan and the Empire of Russia at present I shall attack the men-of-war of the Government of Russia, stationed at present in the port of Chemulpo, with the force under my command, in case of the refusal of the Russian senior naval officer present at Chemulpo to my demand to leave the port of Chemulpo before the noon of the 9th of February, 1904, and I respectfully request you to keep away from the scene of action in the port so that no danger from the action would come to the ship under your command. The above-mentioned attack will not take place before 4 o'clock p. m. of the 9th of February, 1904, to give time to put into practice the above-mentioned request.

If there are any transports or merchant vessels of your nationality in the port of Chemulpo at present, I request you to communicate to them the above notification.

I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,


It is an interesting action, where the Variag and the Korietz fought at a marked disadvantage against a strong Japanese squadron of several cruisers and torpedo boats.

This weekend I based and labeled the ship models.

Camera Roll-246

I plan on again using Coaling Stations, a fast playing game. Under these rules torpedo boats of a  division are collected together on a single base.

Camera Roll-249


Some of the Conscripts have also expressed an interest in re-fighting the Ulsan action. That is a more balanced scenario, pitting six Japanese cruisers against three or four Russian commerce-raiding cruisers. The Japanese edge in numbers and technology is offset somewhat by the resilience and toughness of the larger Russian vessels.

Camera Roll-252

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Rogue Trader Support Squad

Rogue Trader 40k Imperial Guard Support Squad
This entry features some models from the distant mists of Rogue Trader 40k - an Imperial Guard "Support Squad", armed to the teeth and ready to provide covering fire to the tactical squads and assault squad of "F" Company, 122nd Cadian PDF Regiment.

Half the 10-man squad is armed with heavy weapons - serious firepower!
It has been quite some time - a year and a half or so - since I last added a unit to my Rogue Trader guardsmen.  My supply of plastic troops is a little low, so this lot is a real mixed bag - some metal figs from the early "Imperial Army" days, some metal figs from the Rogue Trader period, and a couple of plastics from the 90s.

Four lascannons and a missile launcher - a pretty serious set of weapons
The metals are a random assortment of EBay acquisitions from the past few years, kitted with some scrapings of spare bits from more recent vintage plastic Cadian boxes.  The missile launcher is a spare from the Space Marine RT plastic box.

Wounded trooper still gamely holding his weapon
I particularly like the seriously wounded guy...still clinging to his lasgun, bayonet attached, but ordered to hang back with the heavy weapons by the main officers who think he might be a liability in the assault...

"Shark" style missile launcher and RT-era lascannon (let's call it Ryza pattern or something) - I like how the fellow is checking his watch...
I had painted a few of these models like two years ago on the assumption I would do one of these squads...then I got distracted, etc. etc. I finally finished them off last night while waiting for another WW2 project to dry (more on that later).

More "Imperial Army" era metal heavy weapon troopers - I like the loose look of the flak armour
By the standards of any edition of 40k, the Support Squad is armed to the teeth - four lascannons and a missile launcher.  To make it even better, the missile launcher is equipped with frag, crack AND plasma missiles standard! Plasma missiles are like frag missiles, but they actually are pretty effective.

Some regular troopers - the one on the left is metal with plastic arms, the others are all plastic

I love these old officer with the breastplates...but some variety with the sword arm might have been nice...
And remember this was in an era where individual models could target other individual models on the 40k tabletop, so this squad can pour out quite a bit of firepower to cover the table. Watch out Orks!

Ready for action on the gaming table
This brings my Rogue Trader Imperial Guard force to about 70 models.  Not many models for a game in the current version of 40k, but a pretty large force for a Rogue Trader game.  Dallas has some new terrain he acquired recently that will make for a perfect Rogue Trader game, so I hope to get these guys on to the table before the snow arrives.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

15mm StuGs (and StuH) Finished

15mm StuGs (and StuH) from Plastic Soldier Company
I finally finished the box of 15mm German WW2 StuGs from Plastic Soldier Company.  These are all "G" variant, I believe (I had incorrectly identified them as "F"s in the post on my first two).  Four of them have 75mm guns, and one (without the schurzen skirts) has the 105mm howitzer.  I think that makes it a "StuH" instead of a "StuG"? I don't know if StuG batteries commonly mixed the two types of weapon, but I wanted to have at least one howitzer vehicle just to have something a little different.

Ready for action on the Eastern Front
It's about time I got a unit of these into my collection.  As Curt has said, the silhouette of these vehicles is really nice - so sure they are going to hit you, they don't even need the turret! I know that's not the reason they were developed, but still...and after all the Germans built, what, eight or nine thousand of these vehicles? They were fairly common vehicles, and I look forward to getting them into a game where, of course, newly-painted vehicles will dominate.

Stowage detail is a litte soft, but not the end of the world
After bungling the assembly on one of the first models, I managed to finish these last three without screwing up too badly (although on one I put the drive sprocket on the inside of the track assembly instead of the outside - whoops! - cue the hobby knife and much swearing...).

Sturmhaubitze with a 105mm gun - serious direct fire support for the hard-pressed grenadiers
These PSC models are very, very nice but I am just such a curmudgeon when it come to assembling things that I still prefer Battlefront (which you still need to fiddle with, just not as much).  That's not to say you should avoid them - again, it's just me.  If you want to build up a 15mm WW2 vehicle force, PSC is a good way to go about it.  Great price and fun kits.

Rear view of the StuH
These are all painted in a two-tone yellow and green cammo pattern that I have used with most of my German WW2 armour, meant to be "late-mid-war" but really will do for any period from the summer of 1943 to the end of the war.

StuG batteries roll towards the front...or, in this case,  Kathy Reichs' latest best seller...
Up next? Random odds and ends as always, but I will offer this slight preview: winter is not too far away here on the prairies of Canada, and I'm hoping it is not too far away from the gaming table either...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Another Pico Panzerkompanie

Really small panzers on a really small parade...

My intermittent fiddling with 3mm scale WW2 models continues. Earlier this week I finished off a small group of late-model German Panzer IVs.  The figures are Oddzial Osmy, available from the excellent folks at Pico Armor.  They are based on 20mm square bases from Litko. The round base is meant to signal a command unit.

Love the stuff from Oddzial Osmy
I painted these while waiting for the basing goop to dry on my next batch of 15mm WW2 stuff.  They paint up very fast (as you can imagine) and I am continually blown away by the sculpting quality on these very small figures.  But I do find it is better to use a very loud colour to amp the contrast on the very small figures.  The yellow colour I have used here to represent the "dunklegelb" would look traffic-cone yellow on a larger model. 

Kinda blurry, but the casting detail on these tiny Mark IV-Hs is mental
Depending on the game these figures could either represent a somewhat understrength Panzer company (and were there any other kind at the point in the war where these were in action?) at 1-to-1 or a really strong battalion using Spearhead rules (where each stand is meant to represent an entire platoon - this number of platoons in action for a single Panzer battalion would not be common).

Now they just need infantry...and half tracks...and guns...and...well, on and on....
I have started to experiment with Oddzial Osmy WW2 infantry to see if I can make them look OK.  I am also trying out some other odds and ends, like the smaller armoured vehicles, recon armoured cars and Marder anti-tank guns and such. We'll see how it turns out...