Friday, July 19, 2019

Meanwhile in Rohan 7

A project I started at the beginning of May is finally finished.    Here are four Footsore Miniatures, their 28mm Goth Heavy Cavalry four figure pack (03GTH201F), which I've painted as Riders of Rohan to augment my gallant eoreds.

As I said in May's post, I wasn't totally happy with these figures.   They came with a substantial amount of flash, and I had to drill the hands out so their weapons would fit.   The weapons themselves were javelins purchased from North Star, because the Footsore fellows came sans pokey things.

The shield transfers come from Little Big Men Studios, from this Saxon banner and shield transfer set.   I know they have Christian crosses on them, but the Mad Padre in me doesn't mind baptizing my Rohirrim a little bit.

I know that Tolkien's Rohirrim were nicknamed "strawhairs" by the orcs, but I wanted to give them a bit of variety with their hair colour.

The building in the background is the 4Ground Viking Trader's shop which was under construction in the last post on this subject.   It turned out well, and the teddy bear fur which the kit included looks good when finished.   I might make some horsehead silhouettes for the crossed roof beams at some point.

The roof comes off easily, revealing the feasting table and benches included in the kit.

The cart is also a 4Ground model, and with the 3D printed scatter terrain (a lucky find at the last Hotlead convention), adds some texture.

My complete Rohan village, accumulated over the last ten years, ready for battle.

I have another big 4Ground project almost completed, and there is a Rohan tie-in, so I hope to showcase that here soon.   My Twitter followers (@MarshallLuigi) will already know something about that.

Blessings to your brushes and buildings!


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Military Quotation of the Day: Horace on Force and Wisdom

Another in a semi-regular quotation that came from an email list run by an Army friend of mine.  This particular quote below seems like a good pairing with a photo of Battlefront 15mm WW2 HQ group that my friend James Manto painted over ten years ago. 

"Brute force bereft of wisdom falls to ruin by its own weight."
- Horace. 
As quoted in “Bitter Victory:  The Battle for Sicily, 1943,” by Carlo D’Este.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Behind the Scenes in the CFB Borden Tank Shop

I had a chance this week to get a tour of the tank restoration shop which is part of the Military Museum at Canadian Forces Base Borden.  Tucked in a corner is what remains of a fellow that I've driven past off and on for a decade now, a Wehrmacht Flakpanzer IV.

In 2017, this fixture of the Borden Tank Park disappeared, and I had often wondered what had become of it.  I knew that a restoration project was planned, but I wasn't sure how far it had progressed.   On Tuesday I got to see that the restoration had started and the tank has been completely dismantled.

The hull has been completely gutted,  Here you can see the rather unconvincing blue that it had been painted in for decades.

The superstructure is getting new hatches, by the looks of things.    The turret ring is visible at the back.

Our guide explained that a local machine shop had been contracted to measure what survived of the fuel tank, and fabricate a new one.   I don't know if the Museum has a set of plans or schematics to go by, our guide didn't know the answer to that.  Hiding in the back left is a Leopard AVRE, which the Museum staff use to move vehicles around.    There is also a Hetzer lurking somewhere in the workshop, but it is a tiny thing, about the size of a large SUV, and it was apparently covered by a tarp, so I never saw it.

How the Flakpanzer and Hetzer came to Borden is an interesting story.   These two vehicles were rounded up at the war's end by a young Canadian officer, Farley Mowat, who is better known as a Canadian author.   Borden was the HQ of the Canadian Armour Corps during and after WW2, so I guess it was a natural home for these war prizes.   FYI, Mowat himself wrote an  account of his wartime experience in Italy called The Regiment, which is one of the great Canadian war memoirs.

Various parts, carefully stored and sorted.

I sent this photo to my brother the Mad Colonel, who volunteers in the tank shop of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, and he felt that the Borden shop looked properly messy and therefore productive.

The turret shell has been refinished and painted in what looks like a proper German dunkelgelb.

I suspect that this vehicle will be finished long after I've retired from the Army, but I'll be in the area, and I hope to see it one day looking like this.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Cruel Seas, Crueler Dice: A Look at Warlord Games' Cruel Seas

 One of the benefits of having one’s game club in a hobby store is that the owner tries to sell us on new kit.   Normally I’m not that interested in post-apocalypse dune buggies or Game of Thrones miniature games or whatever he’s flogging of late, but last week Vincent invited us to try Warlord Games’ Cruel Seas, and that seemed worth trying.

Cruel Seas is, of course, that 1/300 scale WW2 games featuring small boats that are all plywood, racing motors, and heavy machine guns, so maybe it is a bit like a post-apocalyptic dune buggy game after all.  In this game, I took two Kriesgmarine E-Boats, because E-Boats always looked big, cruel, and sinister in the Ballantines war books I read as a kid.   Bruce and Stephen each took a pair of plucky little British MTBs, and were tasked with protecting a small tanker that had to cross the game board alive.    I gather that this is the basic intro scenario for the game.

Movement seemed fairly simple, choosing between normal, combat, and insanely fast speed bands, which allow more or fewer turns depending on how fast one is going.   Movement order was determined by dice selection, and since there were five British dice and two German, there was a good chance I would be outmaneuvered.   Ships data and damage is quite simple, and is easily tracked on a little status card given to each boat.

My plan was simple.   Go forward as fast as possible, launch all four of my torpedoes at the tanker, and then get away.  Unfortunately, while one of my E-Boats moved second in the first turn, it then received a critical hit which forced it to move ahead straight with no shooting for one turn.  

 As you can see, my disabled lead boat got swarmed by the pesky British, which cheekily came within spitting distance, pelting me with lead, shells, empty beer cans, etc.  It didn’t end well for these Kriesgmariners.   They sank without getting a torpedo fired.

My surviving E-Boat now gamely raced in at Insanely Fast speed, survived a fusillade or two, and slowed enough to get its two fish in the water.   I WIN!!!!!   Well, not so fast, Padre.   While my fish were the fastest things on the table, the tanker’s dice came up, allowing it to do some adroit dodging like a waitress in a dodgy bar deftly evading an inebriated lout.  My fish sailed by, harmlessly, some Wavy Navy type came up alongside and hosed me with lead, and the next thing I new I was treading water and waiting for an uncomfortable ride to a POW camp in Dorset. 

So, Cruel Seas.  Things I liked:  the models that come in the starter set are cheap and cheerful, and looked sharp even with the hasty paint job Vincent had given them that morning.   The game played quickly and decisively.   Speed and maneuver are quite simple, leaving the player free to think about who to shoot.  Things I didn’t like:  well, getting sunk, for one.  I don’t know enough about what fast boat actions in WW2 were like, but this felt like a particularly fast and lethal game of bumper cars.  The random dice mechanism means that players have ample opportunities to get in close and blast an opponent’s boat at a particularly favourable angle.   In that respect, the game feels a lot like some of the American Civil War ironclad games I’ve played, only much faster.

Cruel Seas seems a lot like Wings of War or X-Wing, only with boats, and without having to worry about altitude or whether some tiresome fellow is going to Immelman on you.   The Warlord rule book is simple and packed with action photos (very nice) and promises exciting fleets - there are some bizarre Soviet boats that look like a T34 turret dropped on a fishing boat, and the idea of doing RN vs Italians in the Med is intriguing.

For me, while I have a soft spot for naval games, I think I will hold my fire on Cruel Seas.  I would rather play with smaller models representing bigger ships at longer ranges.   However, for a few moments, wearing a white turtleneck sweater, a battered cap, and shouting “Torpedo Los!” was good fun.


Friday, July 5, 2019

Military Quote of the Day - John Monash on the Proper Use of Infanty

Hello friends!
Just blowing the dust off this blog to see if it works.  
I get a semi-regular quotation from an an email list run by an officer in the Royal Canadian Regiment, and this particular quote below seems like a good pairing with a photo of minis I painted over ten years ago. I learned quite a bit on Monash when I toured the museum at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra last year.  A great soldier.

"The true role of infantry is not to expend itself upon heroic physical effort, not to wither away under merciless machine-guns fire, not to impale itself on hostile bayonets, but on the contrary, to advance under the maximum possible protection of the maximum possible array of mechanical resources, in the form of guns, machine-guns, tanks, mortars and aeroplanes; to advance with as little impediment as possible; to be relieved as far as possible of the obligation to fight their way forward."

- General John Monash, Australian Corps Commander on the Western Front during The Great War (1914-1918)

He put his writings into practice in his combined arms approach during the battle of Le Hamel, France on 04 July 1918 (101 years ago today).  All of his objectives were achieved in 93 minutes, only three minutes longer than he had calculated in his planning. 

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