Wednesday, 26 October 2011

28mm Farm

I thought a few pictures of the building featuring in the background of the previous post might be of interest. Although the choice of pre fabricated buildings (mainly resin) has never been so extensive, nothing can really beat a piece made to order. Not only can it be made to a specific size and design; it is, of course, unique.

The materials I use vary; this particular model being mainly 5mm foamboard, with extras of wood, card and other odds and ends. The most time consuming part of the whole business is, without doubt, the roof - there are something like 2,500 individual tiles! In 20mm scale you can get away with plastic sheet material, as used by railway modellers, but this just doesn't look right in the larger scales. All of this ensures that scratch building is not the cheapest option, but a well painted resin model of this size, from a company such as Grand Manner, for example, would also set you back a few bob.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Cuirassier divisionaire

After the rigours of putting together a demo game, I have been very busy - hence the lack of posts.

One of the collections that is growing, albeit sporadically, is my Napoleonics. With a dozen Russian and 7 French battalions completed, I thought it was about time for some cavalry. What better than a brigade of French cuirassiers?  To my mind these are some of the nicest figures that the Perrys have produced and a joy to paint.

My cavalry regiments are usually 16 figures strong and I have one regiment under paint at the moment. With my own club (Leeds) hosting the FIASCO show this coming weekend, I will take the opportunity to pick up the figures for a second regiment from Dave Thomas. Eventually I would like a full division of 4 regiments (and why not?) and I thought that I would start with the command base. The commander is from the Perry heavy cavalry generals pack, the wounded trooper and dead horse are Foundry. The building in the background was scratch built by me. 

Sunday, 11 September 2011

More Partizan pics

A few more pics of the Partizan game last Sunday. A couple of general shots, fleeing refugees, a deployed American field artillery battalion and some advancing Germans. This was the first display game I have ever put on by myself - I usually operate with the Bramley Barn group - and it was very satisfying to do it as an integrated project. The terrain making side of the hobby is really enjoyable and the key to any good looking game.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Partizan 2011

It was a tight finish but managed to get it all done in time! The day went well with everything set up before the doors opened to the public.  It was the first time that I had seen the whole thing laid out, including the figures and vehicles and it looked pretty good. Unsurprisingly perhaps, it was the only snow game at the show and attracted a lot of comment. We didn't play the game through as such; one of  the real pleasures of Partizan for me is talking to people  I only see at this show. Had a chat with Colin Rumford about the excellent new Rapid Fire book on Monty's Desert Battles and his forthcoming and much anticipated (by me at any rate) book on Crete. As I was set up next to The League of Augsburg game, I also had a very pleasant chinwag with Barry Hilton, who had samples of his new Grand Alliance range - and very nice they were too. As usual the Newark club put on a good show, but it did seem rather quiet to me. Even so, a good day out and as my first solo effort demo game, a success.

The first picture shows a column of traffic-jammed American armour trying to force its way through crowds of fleeing refugees in Rodt. The second has elements of the FBB entering
Ober Emmels directly whilst others outflank it to the North.
I may in due course decide to sell the Partizan set up (in whole or in part), so let me know if you are interested.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Fuhrer Begleit Brigade

The Fuhrer Begleit (escort) Brigade (FBB) was, in an earlier and smaller incarnation, charged with guarding Hitler's headquarters. By the winter of 1944, it had been expanded into a powerful  brigade sized formation, containing  armour, infantry, artillery and other supporting services. Part of 5th Panzer army's armoured reserve, it was committed to the fighting around St Vith in an attempt to capture this vital town.

Elements of the brigade are represented in the game, including the armoured panzer grenadier battalion pictured here. Each of the three companies (15 figures) are carried in two hanomags and are supported by a mortar platoon and HQ group with a "Drilling" AAA hanomag providing air cover - quite a powerful force. The battalion will be supported in its attack down the northern road by 2 companies of assault guns. The figures are mainly Chiltern with a few Raventhorpe infantry in winter camo thrown in.

The vehicles and figures for the game are now all finished, save for a group of civilian "refugees". I am currently working on the remaining wood bases and buildings that are needed to complete the terrain. A tight schedule, but I should get there!!

Friday, 19 August 2011


Just over two weeks to go to the show and most of the figures are now done. Here is the completed Volksgrenadier battalion, with its three, 12 man rifle companies and supporting MMG, mortar and infantry gun platoons and HQ group. Most of the figures are Chiltern Miniatures, although this particular range is now owned by SHQ I believe. The infantry gun and mortar crew are Britannia, whilst the mortar itself and the HQ group are Raventhorpe.

Volksgrenadier divisions were an attempt to replace many of the formations lost during the summer of 1944. These hastily created divisions were generally understrength and lacking in equipment. Many of the men were drawn from redundant air and naval units and were largely untrained in infantry skills. Nonetheless, some of these divisions, which made up the majority  of the German infantry in the Ardennes, fought surprisingly well. One such was the 18th, which operated with great skill in the fighting around St Vith. This battalion would be classed as "regular", rather than "militia" using Rapid Fire! rules.

Next to be completed are the FBB panzer grenadiers. The figures are done, but the various vehicles still need a little work. Hopefully I will be able to post the results soon.

Friday, 12 August 2011

German Order of Battle

The Germans are divided into 2 Kampfgruppen; the first, moving down the left hand road (see the 9 August posting), consists of elements of the FBB: an armoured panzer grenadier battalion, with an HQ, 3 infantry companies (each of 12 figures and an MMG platoon), a FLAK platoon (Drilling AA) and a medium mortar platoon. This is supported by 2 companies, each of 2 JgpzIV/70(a). The second, moving down the right hand road comprises elements of the 18th Volksgrenadier Division, supported by further units from the FBB. The VG have a single battalion comprising an HQ element, 3 infantry companies (12 figures each) with MMG, mortar and infantry gun platoons, supported by a Hetzer SPG. This force is bolstered by a FBB panzer company (2 x PZIVs), plus a dismounted panzer grenadier company and a Mobelwagen SPAA vehicle. The whole force is supported by a battalion of 2 x 105mm howitzers - in the early stages of the attack, the Germans experienced great difficulty in bringing forward enough artillery.

Both sides will find it difficult in this game I think. The Americans are rather thin on the ground to begin with and have little in the way of armoured support. The task force from 7th Armoured will have to negotiate the refugee choked town of Rodt before they can offer any assistance. The Germans, whilst having better armour, will find their infantry very exposed as they attempt to cross the open ground. Hopefully it will offer a close game.

As things stand the majority of the American force is ready. I still have most of the German vehicles and maybe 25% of the figures still to do. I also need to make a few more wood modules and the whole of Rodt still needs building. A busy 3 weeks ahead I think!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

American Order of Battle

I thought that a little information on the forces involved might be of interest at this stage. It is a fairly small game, involving the equivalent of a couple of battalions a side. The American defenders at the start represent the kind of scratch force hastily put together all along the Ardennes front. The advance force around Ober Emmels consists of a company of engineers with a Sherman dozer in support and a second engineer company dug in on the high ground overlooking the village. Also on the hill is an OP for an armoured artillery battalion of 3 x SP 105mm howitzers which is deployed close by. Another, slightly larger force, is deployed in and around the town of Rodt and consists of a 3rd engineer company, supported by an armoured infantry company, with MMG and mortar platoons attached; a recce group of a Stuart light tank, an M8 Greyhound armoured car and a couple of jeeps loaded with infantry. There is also a 3" anti-tank gun. The company sizes are a bit larger than normal for Rapid Fire! as we find that infantry tend to wither away fairly quickly. The engineer companies are all 12 figures each, whilst the armoured infantry are in 16s.

As the German attack opens, a task force from 7th Armoured Division arrives on the outskirts of Rodt to bolster the defence. This comprises two more armoured infantry companies in M3 half-tracks, supported by a couple of tank companies. Before they can intervene however, they will have to make their way through the town, which is choked with refugees fleeing the fighting.

The next post will detail the German attackers.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Ober Emmels

This picture shows the completed village of Ober Emmels which is held by American  engineers. This is the view of the village that the Germans will have as they arrive on table and begin their advance. To the left of the road are destroyed American vehicles, already largely covered in snow.

The Game is based on German attempts to envelop and capture the important town of St Vith, early in the Ardennes operation. In reality there had been little in the way of snowfall at this time, but I really did want to make this a "snow terrain" game. I also wanted to represent the Fuhrer Begleit Brigade (FBB); a curious formation, based on one of the units responsible for guarding Hitler and repeatedly expanded to a powerful brigade sized armoured formation. One of its main weapons was the Jagdpanzer IV L70(a), a high-sided and relatively rare variant (only 278 were produced) of the Jagdpanzer IV L70 tank destroyer. This "Alkett" version mainly saw service on the Eastern front, but a battalion of them formed part of the FBB's panzer regiment in the Ardennes campaign. Raventhorpe's Ready to Roll range had recently released a lovely model and I fancied painting up a few!

The buildings are made from 2mm plasticard with internal floors and removable roofs. The construction style owes almost everything to that doyen of scratch building, Mick Sewell. The terrain boards are constructed from some old TSS modules that I had from years back (I normally use the much denser blueboard, but it seemed a shame to waste them). These are based on 3mm mdf, with card strips to protect the vulnerable edges, before covering with several coats of textured paint and a layer of artificial snow, which gives a nice "glistening" effect. The roads are powdered Tetrion, suitably weathered and painted.

The next few posts will show some of the figures and vehicles, with more shots of the battlefield as it develops.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Ardennes 1944 display game

 At last, I finally have something to post concerning the Ardennes demo game I am putting together for PARTIZAN on September 4. Although things have been very quiet so far as posts are concerned, I haven't been idle. The terrain boards are finally complete and the photo above gives a general idea of the terrain layout. The table is 8' x 5' with a railway embankment running down the right hand side. The German attackers, comprising elements of the Fuhrer Begleit Brigade and 18th Volksgrenadier Division are approaching down the two roads at the top of the picture against a scratch force of American recce and engineer detachments. As the game opens, a hastily assembled Task Force from the 7th Armoured Division is arriving along the road at the bottom of the picture to stem the German advance.

As well as completing the terrain boards, many of the figures and vehicles are also finished, as are some of the drop on terrain pieces, such as buildings and areas of woodland. With only three and a half weeks to go however, there is still a long way to go before the game is ready for its first public outing.

To the left of the road junction, lies the small village of  Ober Emmels; the foremost outpost of the American defences. South of the junction is the more substantial town of Rodt. The area is further broken up by expanses of dense fir woods. Over the next 3 weeks I will hopefully make regular postings which will show the additional features of the game as they are completed. If you are planning to be at the show, by all means drop by and say hello. To be continued....

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Army's Baggage

As Ray seemed interested in the contents of the box (what sharp eyes you have!) in my last post, here is the first of my completed baggage train pieces. What it contains - who can say, but such items do add a touch of colour to any table top scene. The excellent scenario in BLB 1, features a baggage train attempting to escape from a mass of marauding French cavalry, so such pieces can be more than eye candy.

If memory serves, the waggon is from the Perry AWI range, whilst the driver is a Dixon unarmoured pikemen from their Grand Alliance range.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Which way to victory?

Due to being very busy for our huge re-fight of the Battle of Lutzen (1813), showing this weekend at Sheffield Triples, progress on the terrain making has almost ground to a halt over the last few weeks. Once it is over I am going to take some serious time out to get on with some terrain boards and buildings. One of the projects will be the Ardennes "snow terrain" game, which I am hoping to show at Partizan II in September.

In the meantime, here is my most recent League of Augsburg command base, showing a senior French officer, perhaps even Luxembourg himself, asking directions for Neerwinden. The figures are all Foundry, except the mutt, which is of dubious provenance!

As the release of Beneath the Lily Banners 2 draws closer, I am gaining renewed enthusiasm for the period and hope to get a few more units done in the near future. Alas, there is never enough time to do everything that one would like, and whilst the shotgun approach to painting is enjoyable - I have just completed a Sikh Wars command base of all things! - it makes it harder to finish anything off and get it on the table.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

More French Light Infantry

It has been longer than I would have hoped since my last post. The delay is mainly due to being very busy indeed on the buildings front. So far, I have completed a nice 25mm farm and some 20mm WWII buildings. Hopefully I can finish off a few odds and ends and get some pictures posted in the next couple of weeks. The results are quite promising.

In the meantime, I have also managed to get a few figures done: Swiss pikemen, Napoleonic Russians and, as the picture shows, the last two battalions of my French 10th Light Infantry Regiment. Hopefully 2011 will see this collection mature quite quickly.

I have also been planning my 20mm WWII project and have settled on an early action from the Ardennes campaign, involving elements of the Fuhrer Begleit Brigade and the U.S. 7th Armoured Division north of St Vith. As I mentioned in my last post, this will involve creating the whole thing from scratch, including terrain boards, drop on terrain such as buildings, woods etc, figures and vehicles. I will post details of this as the project develops.