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Thursday 31 December 2020

Bavarian Light Horse


This little project has taken me too long to complete.  I have had these figures on the work bench for months, painting a colour as and when I have the tin open for something else.  Today, I finally finished them off and I think they will make a fine addition to my growing Bavarian force.

The figures are Minifigs S Range conversions.  The work was very kindly carried out by my northern based virtual friend Goya, who converted some RHA mounted limber riders. I am most grateful for his efforts, which reminds me what a generous bunch the Old School wargaming community really is.   

I think the officer is also an RHA figure, but I am not 100% sure.


Sunday 27 December 2020

Ros Austrians - Warrior Command

The quiet period over Christmas is always a good time to finish off outstanding projects, which is what I have been doing over the last few days, with 'time off' for a game or two.

First off the painting table were three units of Austrian infantry by Ros Figures.  They have Warrior Miniatures figures to make up the command element.  Added to my existing Ros Austrians, this gives me six battalions:

When paraded together with my existing Austrians it gives me a nice little force, ideal for playing Neil Thomas wargames scenarios.  There are two cavalry, three artillery, one jaeger and six infantry units:

Saturday 26 December 2020

Destroyer Action - Norway 1940

 I have always been interested in the Naval Battle of Narvik in April 1940, so I thought this might be a good scenario for a small naval wargame.  Now, the real battle was quite complex and there were actually two separate actions.  My battle is based upon the first action, which sees a British destroyer flotilla in Ofotfjord heading back towards Narvik harbour to finish off the German shipping that had been damaged during the British raid. My re-enactment ends here because there is no way I could replicate the confusion, the weather and misinformation of the day.  I have also ignored the presence of German U boats in the Fjord. 

Other factors of note are that the British believed there were just a few German destroyers in the Narvik area; in fact there were ten that had been delivering troops for the German invasion. Two were sunk during the first action (Wilhelm Heidkamp and Anton Schmidt)  Of the ten German ships, three were out of acton from the earlier raid (Hans Ludemann, Hermann Kunne and Diether von Roeder). It is also worth noting that German command had been disrupted as the German Commander Bonte died when Wilhelm Heidkamp was sunk). During the second action, when the German destroyers did show up they were initially mistaken for cruisers.

My battle begins with the British Destroyer Flotilla heading back towards Narvik harbour, commanded by Captain Warburton-Lee aboard HMS Hardy, with Havock, Hunter, Hotspur and Hostile in line astern:

The British intent is to close in to range of the harbour and finish off the three crippled German destroyers:

However, as they approach Narvik, Hardy spots three more German ships coming from the northeast and, mis-identifying them as at least one cruiser, the situation changes:

The new arrivals are in fact all destroyers, Wolfgang Zenker, Erich Koellner and Erich Giese. The British Flotilla, believing it is now out gunned, turns away to the west:

The three German ships open fire. Hardy is badly damaged and both Havock and Hunter suffer reduced speed due to engine and boiler damage.

The British ships now turn to engage, Hotspur and Hostile having to take evasive action to avoid the slowing ships ahead:

The British now completely out gun the three German ships, which are battered to destruction, however, in the fight Havock and Hotspur are out of action and on fire:

Thinking the road clear to escape the Fjord the damaged Hardy heads west, while Hotspur and Hostile try to catch up having been finishing off the German destroyers. To the British surprise, two more German ships appear out of the gloom and again these are mistaken for cruisers. It is in fact destroyers Georg Thiele and Bernd von Arnim, moving quickly to engage the lone, damaged Hardy:

Hardy is easy prey and quickly succumbs to the combined fire of the two German ships:

Shortly after, Hotspur and Hostile are in range and attack the German destroyers, causing major damage to both ships by disabling their engines.  However, Bernd von Arnim has lucky hits and the Hostile explodes:

In the exchange of fire though, both German ships are crippled and George Thiele sinks. Hotspur manages to slip behind Bernd von Arnim and pounds her with a broadside putting her out of action.

Hostspur breaks out of the Fjord at the end of a very expensive day for the British:

In the real battle Hardy and Hunter are lost and Hotspur is critically damaged, but is escorted out of the Fjord by Havock and Hostile.  Captain Warburton-Lee is killed on the Bridge of Hardy and awarded a posthumous VC. The Germans did not lose any destroyers in the second battle, but were forced to break off due to damage and lack of fuel.  They were later largely destroyed during the second battle.of Narvik.

As a wargame, I used Bob Cordrey's 'Gridded Naval Wargames' rules.  These provided a very fast and simple game.  Because the destroyers are only valued at 4 SP they quickly succumb to enemy fire, especially as a six counts as two SP hits.  If I play this again, I will adjust the combat and defence powers somewhat.  That said, it was a fun game that lasted less than an hour.

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Wargaming Magazines - Do you buy them?

Is it just me or do others find the offerings in the periodical modelling and wargaming magazines lacking something?  I have just flicked through the magazine that dropped onto my doormat a few days ago.

Most  of the magazines that I liked to read have either shut down, been absorbed by another magazine, or morphed beyond recognition.  From the 1970s I have purchased a magazine or two each month, but in recent years I have found less and less in them of interest.

In earlier times there were articles that filled in gaps in my knowledge, provided modelling and painting detail and there were regular features describing battles and uniforms from a wargamers perspective.  I was never able to keep all of these magazines, but where an article appeared particularly interesting I would cut them out.  I created a large number of scrapbooks covering my main wargaming interests.  Here some examples of those articles:

Although similar articles can be found in today's magazines, with a few exceptions, they tend to be written to promote a particular set of rules, which I won't have and more than likely will have posed pictures of beautifully painted figures that have nothing to do with the game under discussion. The other issue for me is that a large portion of the articles are non-historical in nature, which reduces their nterest to me even further.

Now, I know that these days, much of the information that was contained in earlier magazines is available on the internet and in other places, and that ceiling tile hills and Airfix buildings are no longer at the cutting edge, but I wonder if I am alone in missing the old style magazine?

I would be very interested to know what magazines are purchased and whether they provide what the reader is actually looking for.  I would welcome any thoughts on this.

Saturday 19 December 2020

McPherson's Ridge - A Battlecry Game

I very much enjoyed my last ACW game using my Spencer Smith figures and have always fancied having a go at some Gettysburg actions.  I decided to try out one of the Battlecry scenarios, albeit one of the unofficial games. This time I used my old Airfix armies.

I picked a scenario that covers the first few hours of the Battle of Gettysburg when the Confederates from the leading brigades of Heth's Division run into the hasty defence set up by Buford's cavalry.  Here is an overview of the battlefield, the Confederates are at the top working their way across Willoughby Run, with Buford's cavalry brigades sitting on McPherson's Ridge, supported by a battery of guns.  Federal reinforcements can be seen moving down from Seminary Ridge at the bottom:

Initially the two Federal cavalry brigades of Gamble and Devin will have to hold the line until infantry support arrives. The Confederate attack begins with Davis's Brigade crossing the stream towards Devin, although one regiment is quickly sent packing by carbine fire near the bridge:

Despite causing some casualties Davis is unable to push Devin off the ridge and all the time the reinforcing Federal infantry is closing in:

Heth changes tack and orders Archer to send his troops into the Federal left flank, and three regiments wade Willoughby Run and advance up the slope:

 The rebels have a little more success on this flank as they have some cover from the Federal guns.  After a bitter firefight they force Gamble's men off the ridge and it becomes a race to see who can gain the ridge crest first:

The Confederates manage to capture this end of the ridge, but the federal artillery, despite heavy casualties, and Gamble's cavalry, who have now rallied, continue to pour fire into the grey ranks. The battle on the ridge ebbs and flows for a while, but eventually the Confederates consolidate their position.

On the opposite flank Davis launches a second attack against Devin and once again is pushed back by cavalry carbine fire:

At this point the first Federal reinforcements arrive and this end of the ridge is held:

Back over on the Federal left reinforcements are also arriving:

Also, the stubborn Federal artillery fights on at close quarters, but is eventually overun:

Gamble's Brigade, now rallied advances once more and engaes the Confederates on the ridge, unfortunately they are destroyed. Gamble is hit and falls from his horse.


Attention now shifts back to the Federal right, with Confederate regiments sweeping around the flank:

The last of Buford's cavalry are swept aside and Devin falls with them. The Confederates now control the entire length of McPherson's Ridge, earning vital victory points, which when added to the two lost Federal generals was enough to give the Confederacy victory - the final tally 5 -2.

This game worked well.  I played it with full Battlecry rules.  despite some rotten cards for the Confederates they managed to win the day.



Monday 14 December 2020

Spencer Smith ACW Artillery Limber and Gun

In conjunction with Peter Johnson at Spencer Smith Miniatures, I have been developing a limber to go with the ACW artillery piece that is already available in the range.  The basis for this project is the horse and musket era limber that has recently been added to the Spencer Smith catalogue.

The main differences are that I have four horses rather than two, I have used larger gun wheels on the limber and have added some hand rails.  Peter has also sculpted some outriders, which I have added.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the results and these limbers (I have to construct five more) will add interest to games.


Monday 7 December 2020

Ros French Line Infantry

As an occasional project, when the mood takes me, I dig out a battlion of Ros figures and paint or refurbish them.  These figures were last painted in 1975 and were well due a touch up.  I have added tthem to my slowly growing French Ros Figures army:

Well that's six battalions done. Only another 20 or so to do!

Saturday 5 December 2020

Spencer Smith ACW Dismounted Cavalry - Test Shots

 Peter Johnson at Spencer Smith Miniatures has very kindly produced some ACW dismounted cavalry figures wearing kepis.  In addition he has converted a kneeling figure, which will be very useful.

I have a regiment of cavlry for both north and south, but I wanted to depict them in the dismounted role on the wargames table.  I also wanted them wearing kepis.  The other requirement is to have horse holders, so I have used the standing figure with three riderless horses in the role, while the kneeling chaps form the firing line.  I had to use horses from Irregular Miniatures, although I would have preferred something from Spencer Smith, if it were available.

Here are some test shots of some samples recently received from Peter:

I am also working on some ACW limbers from Peter, which look very promising too.

Thursday 3 December 2020

Spencer Smith Zulus

 I got these figures out to do a little touching up and thought I would post some pictures.  These are charming, solidly made figures from the Spencer Smith range that are very easy to paint:

Tuesday 1 December 2020

Rabbit Run part 2 - Battle Report

 Many have observed the similarity of this game to the demonstration game set in the Plattville Valley by Donald Featherstone. Those observations were correct.  I was going to refight this battle, however, given the size of my table I had to adapt it somewhat.  Also, the troop levels were completely different.

All that said, the battle kicked off just after lunch, both sides having deployed on to the high ground on each side of the river.  The CSA forces decided their position was strong enough to defend, while Federal General Smith realised he was going to have to assault and force the rebels off Mole Hill and the features dominating the bridge over the river.  

The Federal plan was to attack on the left across the bridge to fix the rebels and try to draw off the resrves and put in the main attack on the right flank against Mole Hill and its farm.

The action began with the Iowa Regiment rushing the bridge in the face of artillery fire and musketry from the Texans.  They got off lightly, only losing one figure, while Union battery 3 engaged the rebel guns taking out a gunner:

The Iowa Regiment made it to the fence line OK and attempted to shake out into a firing line:

But, now they were in range of the Texas veterans who poured volleys across the wheat field, as did the rebel gun:

The Iowa's colonel fell and their morale broke causing them to rout back over the bridge, where they were decimated by fire from the Alabama Regiment on Warren Ridge.  Their rout continued off the table despite an attempt by General Reeves to rally them:

The Federal attack on the left had failed and action was reduced to an exchange of fire over the river between the Alabama Regiment and the New Jersey boys, that caused casualties on both sides.

Federal General Smith, decided that further attacks on the left would be futile and he sent orders for Parson's Brigade to take Mole Hill.  This action began with the Federal Sharpshooters advancing towards the corn patch where they ran into the Mississippi Sharpshooters.  A brisk fire fight developed between the two groups of skirmishers. Initially the Federal sharpshooters were forced back after taking light casualties:

However, having rallied the Federal skirmishers saw off the Mississippi Sharpshooters, who doubled away to the rear past the Kentucky Regiment::

The Federals now concentrated their fire on the Georgia Regiment holed up in Mole Hill farm and the combination of musket, skirmish and artillery fire caused several casualties:

Meanwhile, having been tangled up amongst the snake fences around the Wheatfield, Parson's brigade shook out and began its move towards Mole Hill:

Taking some fire from the Georgians, the new Yorkers and Illinois Regiment pushed on. With a final charge, the Illinois Regiment stormed into the farm and a furious melee ensued:

Realising that the Georgians in the farm were in danger of being overun, CSA General Johnson orders the Kentucky Regiment to advance, while he heads off to shore up the defences of Mole Hill.

Unfortunately for Johnson, the Georgians are all but wiped out and the farm falls to the Illinois Regiment, who continue their rampage by charging into CSA Battery A, wiping that out too.  In the Melee General Johnson is pulled from his horse and dies:

The collapse of the Rebel left begins. With the loss of General Johnson, the Georgians and the artillery, the Kentucky Regiment must take a morale test. They fail and rout from the field.

On the other side of the field the New Jersey Regiment on Twin Buttes continues its exchange of fire with the Alabama Regiment, eventually forcing the latter back off Warren Ridge:

At the same time Federal artillery Battery 3 scores a direct hit on CSA Battery C, wiping out the crew:

With the demise of the CSA gunners, the Vermont cavalry decide to make a charge across the river bridge:

This is a mistake as they run into a hail of fire from the Texans, losing nearly half their number. However, this small victory cannot save the CSA army and General Spencer gives the order for a withdrawal, covered by the Texans and Virginia cavalry.  The battle is over leaving the Federals in control of the field, but they are exhausted and unable to pursue.

For this game I used Featherstone's rules.  I found that they could be very cruel when it came to a firefight, especially when followed by poor morale.  Infantry volleys are devastating when they hit home. That said, this was a fun game and an excellent way to give these lovely old soldiers a try out. It was certainly enjoyable and spectacular.  I think the Texans deserve a battle honour for this one!