Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Painting Challenge Submission 12 - RCHA Support for Team Yankee

Big guns for Canada! 155m shells and Maple Syrup to defend the NATO lines!

Another bit of 15mm Cold-War-gone-hot content to share - a unit of M109 self-propelled 155mm howitzers, some big-time support for my Cold War Canadian forces.

I know that on-table models to represent artillery like this is very, very silly (at best).  For a lot of folks it is one of the worst features of Battlefront's rule sets. The range of the weapon is something like 15 to 18 kilometres, and that is before any enhancements like rocket-assisted projectiles or other horrors are added.  Having units like this on a 6' x 4' table - or even a much, much larger table - in 15mm is kinda dumb in a lot of ways, and can exacerbate issues with those who feel strongly the period is better suited to 6mm or even 3mm. Even in "Spearhead" (division-level) games, where the large table, even in the abstract that "Spearhead" uses, can represent a very great distance, artillery like this can be well off-table.

Kinda silly on the table...but FUN! 155mm shells to support the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group
On the other hand, you know what? As I get older, I find myself getting a lot less hung-up about stuff like that.  It's a lot of fun to paint the big guns, put them out on the table and have them blaze away!

1/100 M109 models from Battlefront's Vietnam range

Big guns are fun! At a core level in all of this is a kid in me who is not growing up and thinks more things on the table that would make a "boom" sound are awesome. And while I find maybe some WW2 games seem to have too much tactical involvement of artillery, for a setting like "Team Yankee", I think it is quite appropriate to have shells raining down on both sides for most of the game. If nothing else, I want the other Canadian figures I have painted to "know" they would have the support because it is sitting with them on the shelf, ready to move out :)

So, there you go...I'm a contradictory nerd...back to the models...

The artillery punch of the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group came from the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, equipped with these armoured, self-propelled howitzers. The mechanized brigades had 60mm and 81mm mortars with their infantry.  And of course the Leopard C1s could dish out direct-fire abuse from their 105mm guns.  But to really rain on the Warsaw Pact parade, you need some serious stuff to fall from the sky on to the bad guys - and 155mm shells fired by the stout members of the RCHA will do nicely for that!

These are 1/100 scale models from Battlefront - actually from their Vietnam range. I think those would be the appropriate if approximate vintage for the weapons equipping the Canadian formations in the 1980s. Any deployment to halt a Warsaw Pact attack would have relied heavily on timely support from these bad-boys.

A few decals on the back to ID the nationality

While the armour on these vehicles would not stand up to anything like the main gun on a tank, it would have been pretty important - being a gunner in this fictional (phew!) circumstance looks like it would have been terribly dangerous work. Any extended fire missions would rapidly be identified by Warsaw Pact spotters, and counter-battery fire from the enormous artillery complements within the Soviet formations would have been a near-certainty. The ability to keep hammering out shells while under fire would be essential to preserving the 4th Canadian Brigade, so I expect they would dig these guns in, open fire and pray for the armour to keep them safe!

Reading Kenneth Macksey's awesome "First Clash" offers excellent insight to how critical the artillery support is for the Canadian formation (or really any formation), and just how much planning went in to ensuring the shells would be there at the right time and the right place. Once battle was joined, the bombardment and counter-bombardment would be almost continuous.  Timely support from the RCHA would be critical for the smaller (relative to attacking Warsaw Pact formations) infantry-centred Canadian Battlegroups to hold off major assaults from large Soviet Motor Rifle battalions.

The Battlefront M109 model is a mixed resin-and-metal model kit...good detail on all the casting, well done by Battlefront

I found a number of different photos of these units on manoeuvres in the various NATO exercises through the 1980s, and they seemed at the time to be sporting a simple black camouflage pattern, so that is what I have tried to replicate here.  And of course some Canadian flag decals have been very helpful as well.

Three more vehicles in 15mm, another 18 points...hey, it all counts! The grind toward the 1000 point target continues...

Monday, February 26, 2018

Painting Challenge Submission 11 - Cold War Support Elements

NATO support vehicles hold the Warsaw Pact back from strategically vital parts kitchen...models from Battlefront and Armies Army
After five consecutive weeks featuring submissions of 15mm Cold-War-Gone-Hot subjects, I really thought I was going to switch to painting something different - but the switch didn't stick. I started thinking to myself "well, what about one or two support elements to, you know, 'round out' the work I have already completed..." and such are the debris-strewn pathways of my hobby mind that I put down that other stuff and went back to the 15mm stuff - just can't seem to quit the Cold War!

Subjects from two NATO nations today - some support elements for my 15mm 1980s Canadians, and some tank-hunting helicopters for my 1980s West Germans.

Since it has been a few weeks since we last visited the Bundeswehr, let's start with the helicopters. These are BO-105s, multi-part 1/100 scale plastic kits from Battlefront, part of their extremely comprehensive lineup of figures for the 1980s West Germans in their "Team Yankee" game.

BO-105 tank hunting helicopters for the Bundeswehr
Where the Germans have some fine form when it comes to battle tanks, these BO-105s don't, shall we say, give off quite the same "menacing" vibe as, say, the utterly terrifying Soviet "Hinds".

Instead, the BO-105 has a kind of practical, workmanlike "well, anything is dangerous once you attach anti-tank missiles to it" sort of aura.

TOW anti-tank missiles are the killer armament of these helicopters...they are out to hunt tanks
With the Warsaw Pact and its 3 billion tanks facing you down, you do need to have as many economical anti-tank options as possible to back up your ultra-sexy Leopards! The BO-105 is a fine tank-hunting platform, capable of moving quickly, hugging available ground cover and obstructions to "pop up" and pick off enemy armoured targets with guided anti-tank missiles.

While plastic has its issues, bravo to Battlefront for bringing these models out..they'll be fun on the table!
Dallas already has a solid collection of West German forces, including a pair of these helicopters already, so this painting is not necessarily super-useful in terms of our overall group's collection. But it was fun to get these finished. In our "Team Yankee" games the helicopters seldom survive, but their approach is always dramatic and tense :) perhaps these extra helicopters can be involved at some point to help the West Germans hold out in the face of large amounts of Soviet AAA fire.

OK - moving back to the Canadians, here are a couple of support elements to "round out" my initial battlegroup from the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group.

M113 "Lynx" Recon vehicles for the Canadian Forces
There are two "Lynx" recon vehicles - a variant of the M113 APC that is a little sportier-looking than the average M113.  The Canadian Forces used the Lynx for various scouting, security and other purposes.  These models are from Armies Army - Keith, being a great guy, tossed them in as freebies after I ordered a squadron of Leopard C1s - "they will look great with your tank column" he said, and he was right!  While I thoroughly dislike the M113 in general, the Lynx at least has a sporty little look to it, and the turret-style bracket mount for the .50 cal is pretty neat too.

.50cal MGs in the turret-style mounting, and a little .30cal on the back for some extra fire support in the event of a sticky situation while out scouting...

Big "thank you" to Keith for tossing these in with my Leopard C1 squadron...they will round out my forces nicely!
As I mentioned in a previous posting, wargamers can seldom relate to recon assets the way real commanders in the field would.  These vehicles would be out ahead of the Leopard C1s, reporting back and providing vital intelligence as the battle was joined.  With an actual battle underway, as experienced on our tabletop, these poor Lynx vehicles won't last any longer than the Soviet BRDMs or other equivalents, but at least my Canadians will have some recon support, and the additional power of a couple of .50 cals will back up the infantry platoon.

M150s - APCs mounting TOW anti-tank missile launchers

The other two vehicles are M150s...these are M113 APC with a mount for a TOW guided-anti-tank missile launcher. High-end anti-tank hitting power is at a premium in any NATO force, but particularly so for the Canadians, who may have to tangle with Soviet tanks while the Leopard C1s of the Royal Canadian Dragoons are busy elsewhere.  These M150s provide the Canadian mechanized infantry elements with some theoretical heavy anti-tank power with quite a long potential engagement range.

Clever casting work by Armies Army to allow the convenient mounting of a TOW launcher and gunner on the M113s

Some oversize decals from a 1/87 sheet to give some good Canadian flavour, eh?
Much fiction related to war with the Warsaw Pact (and thank goodness it is fiction!) features weapons like the TOW sniping Soviet tanks with clockwork precision - although it should be noted that some accounts, like Kenneth Macksey's fantastic "First Clash", are much more sanguine about such things. I am personally skeptical of the projected effectiveness of weapons like the TOW under real battlefield conditions (it would be no small thing to steer a missile towards a tank in the middle of the smoke, falling artillery shells and other horrors and utter chaos of a Cold-War-Gone-Hot battlefield, I expect), but I do really like the models. They add some additional flavour to my Canadian battlegroup and the infantry platoon will no doubt appreciate the support!

I popped the commander out to show a command vehicle, but let's assume the firing pose is for propaganda purposes only - I hope they wouldn't fire the missile while the poor driver was popped out of the hatch, right in front of the barrel!
The M150s are also from Armies Army (now available from Plastic Soldier Company).  As I said before, Keith did an incredible job bringing a very complete collection to market - I love when sculptors do that! Go buy this stuff and support these guys!!

So six vehicles in 15mm were good for another 36 points toward my target. The steady march toward 1000 points of painting continues...

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Painting Challenge Submission 10 - More Canadian Cold War Stuff

More Canadian armour for the Cold War - 1/100 models from "Armies Army"
Another AHPC submission to catch folks up on. The theme is no surprise at all - continuing to round out the basic elements of my 15mm Cold War-era Canadian troops for "Team Yankee".

My prior submission had included Canadian Cold War-era infantry, but for the 1980s the infantry need a ride to battle - otherwise they would be stuck on the table while their enemies zoomed around them! For the Canadian forces of the mid-1980s in Europe this ride would have come in the form of the M113 armoured personnel carrier. My Canadian foot-sloggers were lacking in APCs, so the M113s were duly slotted into the painting lineup so the fellows could get a lift on the gaming table.

Ugh. M113s. So, so lame...but at least the large decals on the front add a bit of clear character...
We all have painting subjects we dislike, but perhaps can't avoid due to the circumstances of the given period or setting, don't we? Well, for me, the M113 is one such subject.  Where painting NATO tanks tends to be a whole lot of fun, painting an M113 is like throwing some acrylic paint on a frozen turd. An unlovely box on treads, the M113 is utterly devoid of character, charm, personality or the slightest hint of fun. No turret. No cool vents.  You look at these things and wonder what the point is? They must have had some serious up-sides, or useful aspects from the perspective of actual military users (I mean, hey, that .50 cal surely comes in handy for fire support purposes!) but on the hobby side, they are not a model I enjoy working with.

Commander popped out of the hatch to a) represent the platoon commander's track and b) add some character to the otherwise un-inspiring silhouette of the M113 APC
Besides - Canada purchased cool tanks from Germany - why not purchase their awesome infantry fighting vehicles too? Really, anything that you will drive in a war - let's just use common sense, and buy from Germany! Sadly, can't avoid the M113 if you want to paint Cold War forces from Canada. The stupid M113 was the core APC for the main mechanized infantry elements of the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, and as such, they would have to be painted if I wanted to reflect the infantry in my tabletop here we are...

These models are from "Armies Army" (now available from Plastic Soldier Company).  They are mixed resin and metal kits.  While my love for Armies Army is un-diminished, and I salute Keith's valiant and amazing efforts to bring Cold War Canadians to life in 15mm, I must acknowledge that his M113s won't have to look hard to spot the gaps between the tread assemblies and the fenders.  In this case I must sadly report that Battlefront's plastic M113s are probably the better way to go...the Battlefront models are multi-part plastic, with all of the associated frustration this can entail, but they are more precise in the end.

The camouflage Canada used on these vehicles was somewhat unique as well, and not the most fun to paint. I used a mix of decals from Armies Army as well as a useful 1/87 sheet for things like Canadian flags and license-plates.  The 1/87 decals are oversize for the scale, but they help the nationality stand out a bit more on the table, and add just a touch of character to the boxes-with-treads.  A huge thanks to Mike F for helping me track down the 1/87 decals!

1/100 Leopard C1 from Armies Army - with the "1B" marking I think he is the "Battle Captain" from "A" Squadron...although there is a high chance I'm wrong about that...anyway, popped out commander and blue flowers to indicate the MBT is part of the Squadron command troop.
Leopard C1 with dozer blade attached on the front - an excellent little touch from Armies Army!! It will have no impact in game terms, just a cool thing to include from a completeness perspective...

To wash the terrible flavour of painting stupid M113s out of my mouth, I finished off another pair of Leopard C1s as well.  Positively refreshing!  These are both from the excellent Armies Army, and another element of Keith's utterly complete rendering of these troops can be glimpsed by the presence of a dozer blade mounted to one of the Leopards in the photos.  One Leopard C1 in each squadron had a dozer blade, useful for various battlefield engineering tasks (in particular helping to prepare hull-down firing positions for the other Leopards).  Full marks again to Armies Army for bringing out such a complete collection of models and figures!!!

Canadian armoured squadron, ready to roll out!
And so I have the very basic elements of a battlegroup from 4CMBG in place for "Team Yankee" gaming - a squadron of Leopard C1s and an attached mechanized infantry platoon from either the RCR or the Vandoos. All in this has been just about what...five or six weeks of painting? Not too bad!  Here is a photo of the battlegroup to date:

Basic battlegroup from 4CMBG - Leopard C1 squadron with attached infantry support - ready to stand fast in the NATO lines!
Whatever I think of the M113s, at least these fellows will have a ride to take them around the battlefield!
Points wise, this submission was worth another 36 points towards my goal of 1000 points of painting.  The goal is getting closer, a bit every week! Hope to be there by the end of the Challenge in March.

And now Mike F just "just" needs to do a platoon of foot troops based for this game as well,  since he already has a bunch of M113s and other vehicles painted, we can have quite the force of Canadians on our "Team Yankee" tables!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Painting Challenge Submission Nine - Cold War Canadian Infantry, and Bonus Leopard C1

More Cold War Canadian troops in 15mm!

Hello folks! It's been a busy couple of weeks with with 1-to-1 scale activities, such as a nice vacation, and then a bunch more work.  These are all good "problems" of course, but it has been keeping me away from the brushes or even staying updated with progress in the 8th edition of AHPC! To help get back in the saddle, here is an update - my ninth submission (posted two weeks ago), with a continuing 15mm Cold War flavour.  This is an infantry platoon of Cold War-era Canadian troops in 15mm, with a bonus additional Leopard C1 tank.

Platoon command stand - officer pointing, radio operator beside him

Tanks are a tonne of fun, of course - in the case of the Leopard C1, about 40 tonnes or so of fun! But it is the hard-slogging, ground-pounding, digging in-and-assaulting-and-hunkering down infantry that take the ground and hold it at the end of the day.  The Canadian Battlegroups of the 1980s would be counting on their Leopard C1s, but the mechanized infantry were the heart of the effort - troops from the Royal Canadian Regiment and the Vandoos.  So I wanted to add some infantry to round out my preliminary Canadian "Team Yankee" forces - plus they paint super-fast, which is a nice bonus!

Here is a bit of a retro item - a .30cal MMG in support of the platoon

The infantry figures are from "Armies Army" (now part of the excellent Plastic Soldier Company).  And they are a treat! Just wonderful castings, made from metal, as all proper wargames figures should be.  They are sporting Canadian infantry weapons from the 1980s cold-war era - FN rifles, Carl Gustav anti-tank weapons, and support from a .30 cal MMG and a 60mm mortar.  The latter two elements are sort of retro-classic weapons, but it seems the Canadian Forces tended to make use of older weapons for quite a while longer than some other NATO armies.

Three sections of infantry - and the 60mm mortar is on the right at the front - poor chap, has to carry it by himself it appears :)

As appropriate for Canadians, the infantry are sporting colder-weather jackets - an excellent touch, in my opinion! I can't say enough good things about these castings.  I purchased an entire companies' worth of the troops, and look forward to painting them all up.  Huge kudos to Keith at Army's Army for making these a reality - for a nerd like me, it is exciting to have the chance to collect these lads and game with them.

View showing some of the webbing - note the Carl Gustav AT weapon on the one base in the foreground

Of course, these chaps will need some M113s to ride around in - those will hopefully appear on the painting table soon.

Another Leopard C1 - this one from the Plastic Soldier Company
The tank model is a 1/100 plastic Leopard C1 from Plastic Soldier Company, with an FN MAG from Peter Pig swapped into the cupola MG.   This gives me 10 Leopard C1s...on my way to having a whole squadron for the gaming table. These fellows have already seen some tabletop action - with many of the recently-painted tanks suffering the fate of all newly-painted models - it was a rough "win" for the Royal Canadian Dragoons!

More Canucks ready to chip in for NATO
Points-wise this managed to gather another 64 points toward my total goal of 1000...slowly but surely, I'm closing in.

I'll leave you with a photo from Palm Desert, California, USA - we did a six-mile hike in Joshua Tree National Park a couple of weeks ago! The landscape was beautiful and glad to have a chance to visit...

The Palm Oasis in Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA
So now that I am back home a little more consistently, I hope to have the paint brushes firing up once again - stay tuned for more!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Byron's 8th through 10th enties to the painting challenge

Well, once again I have fallen behind in posting my entries, so I will get up to date with a brief(ish) post that has a picture or two from each of my last few submissions and links to the actual blog entries over on the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge site.

My 8th entry was a group of 6 30k Death Guard scimitar pattern jet bikes from the Horus Heresy era.  I fell in love with these when they were released a few years ago, but the price kept me from buying them until recently.  I didn't want to do a small squad of 3 since they would get wiped out too quickly like that, and I wanted them to have some staying power, so I did 6 of them.

The bikes are supposed to be mounted on the normal GW 50mm clear round flying stands and come with those along with 30mm tall mounting posts.  I thought both of these looked like crap with them, and the normal pill shaped bike bases are way to short at 50mm long for these behemoths.  So, I custom laser cut some 32mm wide (the new standard marine base size) x 100mm deep bases.

My 9th entry was some long discontinued GW forgeworld terrain that I picked up at a Baltimore Games Day 14 years ago that has sat in their boxes since then!!!
 I also included in that a unit of Greek slingers to add some range to my Greek forces.

Next up was a theme week entry for BFG (Big F!$%'ing Gun) where I did a pair of Siege-Automata for my 30k Mechanicum force.

Not only is the gun on this thing freaking huge, the whole thing is!  To give a sense of size the base is a 120mm x 92mm oval base and a marine barely reaches to his knee! 

Overall, I am very happy with how they came out, and I placed tied for second that week in the voting for best theme week entry. 
My 10th entry was an Archmagos for the 30k Mechanicum force and some more Greeks.

The Archmagos Prime on Abeyant for my 30k Mechanicum army now makes it an actual legal force to play with an HQ, so expect it to hit the tabletop soon.

Now that it is a valid force, I have also provided an overall picture of the army so far.  This is in-fact all that I bought initially to do for the force, but I have of course fallen in love with them, and more are on the way....
This time the Greek unit was more unarmoured Greek hoplites that I did as a support unit of mercenaries or militia for either side that I am working on.

This brings me back up to date as of the weekend, but there are 3 more entries up this weekend so expect another update early this coming week.  

Now we just need to setup a game to blood in the Mechanicum force!