Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Water Carrier for Mesopotamia

In the post recently, I received the latest additions to my now fast growing 20mm British force for Through the Mud and the Blood, being two Emhar British Mark IV tanks (Male and Female), plus a box each of Highlander Infantry and Indian Infantry, both from HaT. I put the Male tank together in about an hour and a half, whilst also tackling some Indian infantry.

There was a couple of issues with the tank, one being the ditching beam rails. These are wrong when built straight out of the box, like I did, and they are too high at the rear.

However, it's not a massive problem for me, just a slight niggle really. I could have corrected them, but I didn't bother in the end, other than that it was a simple job to build. These two photos show the tank in a pre-weathered state and there is still a bit more to do, including finishing the base properly. But that is all for the future!

Back to the Indians, I painted the first eight as a group of bombers. There is enough in a box to make a platoon of four sections each of eight men. However, I will also need some Big Men, so I will have to buy another box of these chaps in the future.

Also I painted these figures with a slightly different paint scheme to my previous British, I found that Sidney Roundwood had provided his readers with a late war British uniform painting guide, so I adopted that. I painted the tunics, trousers and puttees in English Uniform, highlighted with Khaki. The canvas webbing and Turbans were painted in Khaki, highlighted in Dark Sand, leather webbing was painted in Hull Red highlighted with German Camo Pale Brown. Between the base coats and highlights I applied Games Workshop's Black Ink (it's called something ridiculous so proves almost impossible to find in the shop. Why they just can't call it Black Ink, instead of Ork's Armpit Hair, or whatever, I just don't know...).

I'm pretty pleased with how these ones turned out and will use the same colour scheme in the future. These Indians will be used for 1915 games, which is why most of them will be riflemen, the tanks will be used for 1917 and 1918 games. So far this little project is growing out of all perceived proportion, so keep checking back for more updates!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

What Did You Do In The Centenary, Daddy?

I have just finished the full 20mm British Platoon for Through the Mud and Blood, they were finished off with the addition of a metal section from Early War Miniatures, for a great price of £7 for ten figures. They complete the company as a rifle section with an NCO Big Man. I haven't used the Lewis gun team yet.

They are lovely figures, really nicely proportioned and in good poses. I will certainly be bulking out more units with EWM figures in the future.

I also added a Vickers HMG team from the HaT box of British Heavy Weapons.

Again, these are nice figures, not that machine guns make much of an appearance in Mud and Blood, they appear to be more of an off board type thing, but you never know, I may well find a use for them.

So here is the complete platoon, the four sections are the riflemen, Lewis gun, bombers and rifle grenadiers along with the HMG, sniper and a collection of Big Men.

I'm just awaiting Dean to finish off his Germans, so we can have our first game of Mud and Blood. As he keeps getting distracted by other shiny things, it may be some time yet...

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A Red River Crossing

Dean and Ninjasaurus Rex called over on Easter Sunday for a game of Rapid Fire! and it's been a while since our last game, which was part of the Malaya campaign. This time, I turned the attention back to the Eastern Front with a scenario set in the early days of Operation Barbarossa. A German unit has captured a small village in Russia and paused to consolidate their position, whilst they awaited the arrival of some armour support. Meanwhile the Russians mount a local counter attack using a mixture of heavy tanks and infantry. 

The opposing sides were;

3 x Panzer IVD
3 x StuG B
2 x 88mm Flak 36 AT Guns
1 x Infantry Battalion

5 x T-35 Heavy Tanks (plus 1 x T-26 HQ Tank)
3 x BT-5 Light Tanks
3 x T-26 Light Tanks
2 x Infantry Battalions

The Germans set up in the village, which was also the Russian objective, with the two 88s covering the centre of the field and the armour just arriving on the German left flank. The Russian forces were spread with the infantry aiming towards the objective of the village and the heavy T-35s in the central position. On the Russian right flank were the lighter T-26s and BT-5s. Ninjasaurus and I took the defending Germans, whilst Dean handled the Russian forces.

As the Russian behemoths rumbled out of the forest to begin the assault, one immediately broke down. However it was still ale to use its multiple turrets for firing. As they advanced, the T-35s came under heavy anti-tank fire from the 88s, plus the 75mm Infantry gun from the infantry battalion.

Suddenly, the light T-26s appeared in front of the left Flak gun and poured fire on it, causing casualties amongst the crew!

More combined fire from the T-35s saw the whole crew put out of action.

The brief Russian victory was blunted by the arrival of my armoured units, the Panzer IVs sped down the road, backed up by the StuGs on the hills.

A vicious firefight saw one of the T-26s burst into flames and another heavily damaged.

The Russian assault pressed on however, with the three BT-5s bursting through the field hedge and attacking the German armour on its flank.

One BT fell foul of a StuG, but the remaining two shot holes through the assault gun.

In the centre of the field the second 88 was destroyed under a deluge of fire from the Russian heavies, who's own attack had stalled.

One of the two remaining StuGs confronted the BT-5s in the field and left another one burning.

The rest of the German armour exchanged shots with the Russian tanks, but failed to destroy a single one!

Whilst the clash of armour continued, Soviet infantry cleared the hedges and worked their way around the flank of the village in order to get in close to use grenades in clearing out the defenders. 

With two of his comrades on fire, the remaining BT-5 fled the field, another StuG brewed up from fire from the T-35s. The heavy tanks weren't getting off lightly though, as three were heavily damaged by the Panzers.

They then failed their morale test. Well, with three heavily damaged and one destroyed it wasn't surprising, and they turned tail and fled the field with the other Soviet armour.

Now it was the infantry's turn to take fire. The MG34s and mortars in the village opened up as the assault came into sight.

Being in the open the Russians took casualties immediately, but continued their attack.

With no Russian armour left on the field the German Panzers turned their attention to the Russian infantry and poured more fire into the massed ranks of men.

The Soviet attack was stalling at the river. The soldiers were finding it hard to wade across the water and were being enfiladed by the tanks.

With fire coming from two sides one of the Russian battalion's morale broke and they routed off the field.

The final move showed the desperate situation of the Russian assault. They were still a couple of moves away from the buildings in the village and the defences were still largely intact.

Although this was a satisfying victory for the Germans, it was good to field the T-35s, which have been sitting in the cupboard for quiet a few months now. They instantly became bullet-magnets, due more to their size than their actual performance! The same could be said of the 88s, both of which came under fire immediately and didn't last very long at all!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Here Come The Grenadiers

The big problem with 20mm First World War figures is the complete lack of rifle grenadiers. They are vital to any British organisation from 1916 onwards, but I have been unable to find any in plastic or metal, besides some in the HaT American set.  I bought this set to see what they would be like and if they could be usable, but the uniform is too strikingly different to the British uniform to work. I will make a platoon of Americans from the box in the future, so I haven't wasted my money.

Then I struck on an idea of converting some of the existing Emhar British figures into rifle grenadiers. One chap was handling what looked like an incredibly primitive Stokes Mortar, although if he insisted on firing like he is it would take his face off with the first round. In the American set I found a figure throwing a grenade who had a rifle strapped to his back which was almost complete. These two would be amalgamated into one single figure, with a few deft snips of the scalpel.

I removed the mortar from the Brit and carefully cut the rifle off the Yank. There was a little loss of detail on the rifle, but not enough to notice at this scale.

Then I cut a small section out of the rifle where the guy would be gripping the trigger and glued the two sections of rifle into position, thus:

The last bit was to cut a small section out of a Plastic Soldier Company Panzerschrek that I had from one of their German half-track sets and glue it onto the end of the rifle as a substitute rifle grenade cup.

Rinse and repeat four more times and I had four rifle grenadiers all ready and waiting to be painted! They are not amazing, by any means, but they are good enough for some quick conversions and allowed me to use four previously unusable figures!

They took a while to paint as the bloody varnish frosted on them. I tried respraying the stuff a few times to reactivate the varnish, but that only served to destroy the details on the figures where it clung thick. So, finally, I ended up repainting the highlights, with the result that these are not the best figures I could have hoped for, oh well.

Along with the rifle grenadiers, I also painted a sniper figure, from the HaT British Heavy Weapons box, a rather nice little figure that will come in handy, no doubt!

And I added a couple of Big Men to the force, along with a runner converted from one of the Emhar figures, who was... ahem, running. 

Now I have a section of riflemen to complete and my first platoon is finished, I will also be adding other bits to the force, like a Vickers machine gun and some Stokes Mortars, so keep checking back for updates as they come. In the meantime, check out the ongoing work at the Barnsley Pals training area on the Elmet Archaeology Blog!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Mud, Blood and Poppycock

I am generally against the idea of every battlefield in the FWW being a sea of mud, as many weren't, but there was plenty of times when men were fighting in muddy conditions. However, to make games different when playing Through the Mud and the Blood I decided to go down the muddy route when creating a new board for the rules set. Rather than go through the laborious task of creating new terrain boards, I decided to take the quick, simple and cheap option. In other words, a brown sheet. But brown sheets appear to be quite hard to come by, so instead I bought these raw ingredients:

A cheap white bed sheet and a box of dark brown dye, combined this cost no more than £15. All this was bundled together in the washing machine as per the dye instructions (note the mugs...):

It didn't take long for the dye to work, just two washes and all systems were go! It turned out a slightly lighter shade than I wanted, but it's not a massive problem. The next stage was to lay it out on the garage floor and paint it up.

I sprayed various shapes of brown, black and green onto the sheet. Again, the result wasn't amazing, but it is good enough for my immediate needs and was quick and simple. 

The board will be covered in other terrain items, so the sheet will be hidden largely and for a quick easy gaming board it is fine!

In other news, I have recently been swamped in the First World War; my company, Elmet Archaeological Services Ltd is currently undertaking a survey of the Barnsley Pal's training area at Silverwood Scout Camp. You can read all about our progress here: ELMET BLOG

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Out Since Mons

Following on from the previous post about the 20mm plastic World War One project I have begun, here are a few more pictures of the growing band of soldiers. First up is the rest of the Lewis gun section, eight men commanded by a Corporal:

All the figures are part of the Emhar British Infantry and Tank Crew set, the Corporal is mounted on a penny.

Here is the Bomber section, again, all Emhar figures.

And finally is a group of Big Men of various ranks all based on pennies, the officer on the right is the one which I converted and who originally had a soft cap instead of a helmet.

There are many more to come and I am currently working on section of rifle grenadiers. It is surprising how quickly these figures paint up, so it may not be too long before I am able to field them against the dastardly Boche.
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