Thursday, 22 February 2018

From GregB: Big Guns for Canada (18 points)

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

Woohoo! A double post this week! Was a bit of a squeeze, but worth it for no other reason that try and force Jamie to stay up a little later tonight and keep painting! :) An extra bit of 15mm Cold-War-gone-hot content to cram in this week - this is a unit of M109 self-propelled 155mm howitzers, some big-time support for my Cold War Canadian forces.

An up-front disclosure before diving in further: 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, and can exacerbate issues with those who feel strongly the period is better suited to 6mm or even 3mm. I absolutely agree with you. 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.

1/100 M109 models from Battlefront's Vietnam range

On the other I get older, I find myself getting a lot less hung-up about stuff like that.  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 serious 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, as 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 - the timely artillery support 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.

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...inspired by that book, I'm pleased to have this bunch finished and part of my Canadian Cold War collection.

I encountered 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...

Song: Set Fire To The Rain
Artist: Adele
Album: 21

Yes, really - I had the opportunity to see Adele perform live, and it was quite fantastic.  She is a remarkable performer, a unique voice.  And this specific song is an ideal prelude to a bombardment by 155mm shells...especially if the target grid reference contains anyone who might have broken your heart...

What absolute beauties these are!  I had no idea stuff like this existed with their weirdly over sized turrets, but it looks like they would do exactly what it says on the tin/barrel and lob whacking great big shells at the enemy...... and then presumably scoot pretty quickly to evade the counter battery fire you mention.

Having lived through the Cold War (admittedly at too young an age to really get it)  really feel like I've got an idea for how horrifying the consequences could have been and am grateful the leaders all stepped back from the precipice....

And you're right about the silliness of the artillery on the table in FoW..... but I'll admit it's never really bothered me  - the chance to get fun stuff like this on the tabletop outweighs the nod to reality :)

18 points indeed and you're staying on target....

From GregB - Cold War Support Elements in 15mm (36 Points)

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 themes.  Honestly! I even started painting something else, in 28mm to boot, that was totally different.  So different, in fact, that horses were involved! Really! But then 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!
I hate plastic kits, and these models certainly had their frustrations - in particular, the plastic rotor shafts are very weak, and true to form, one of them broke during assembly, requiring heroic amounts of glue to save.  But overall, I have to give Battlefront very high marks for the effort of getting the helicopter models from the different nations into "Team Yankee".  While some metal kits in the scale have been around for quite a while - and lets face it, metal is the only true, proper material for honourable wargaming figures - metal aircraft kits, especially helicopters, in 1/100 scale are not easy things to assemble or base properly.  By making these different helicopter kits, Battlefront has made the helicopters much easier to have (my ineptitude with plastic notwithstanding), and in turn added an excellent flavour for this setting. In our "Team Yankee" games the helicopters seldom survive, but their approach is always dramatic and tense :) I'm sure my tabletop NATO forces will appreciate the air support!

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 to 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-like 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 extra character (and help on the tabletop) for the infantry platoon.

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, should be good for another 36 points this week. About this time last week, I predicted it would be "time to switch subjects and show something else next week blah blah", but as you can see above, such pledges on my part are clearly we'll just see you next week!

Song: Diamond Eyes
Artist: Shinedown
Album: The Sound of Madness

This is a sort of generic, driving hard-rock song from the late 2000s - great to listen to when painting tanks, AND when painting things that are made to blow up tanks!

Ah, what would a Thursday be without a visit to the cold war front lines?  These are absolutely smashing, totally agree with you on the choppers, they remind me more of Blue Thunder than Airwolf!

Great camo too, I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm somewhat addicted to checking out the different vehicles to see if you've had to get the same camo scheme on each one of each variant - must be mind bending to paint!  I love those little TOW launchers too - relying on some poor chap to stand at the top of a vehicle with little to no suspension and ask him to guide a missile towards a scary looking tank in the distance whilst it's training it's gun on you..... how could that ever go wrong?!?!?

Great stuff, 36 points it is!

From KenR : 28mm DAK Tanks (103 points)

Back on track after my little Spanish Interlude with some WW2 Desert vehicles. This time it' my first ever attempt at some Afrika Korps vehicles with these 3 Panzer 2s and 3 Panzer 3s.

The tanks are from Blitzkrieg Miniatures and are their usual high quality, 5 of the vehicles have tank Commanders visible and these figures come from Perrys.

Paint wise these have been done in the darker RAL 8000 Green Brown that the earlier vehicles were painted in rather than the later Yellow Brown. I actually got my airbrush out for once (I find them such a faff) to do the base colour then built up the highlights with Green Ochre and Dark Sand.

My desert British are painted in the 3 colour caunter camo scheme so when I finshed the basic colours on these I didnt feel like I had spent any time on them (compared to hand painted Caunter, I hadn't) so I decided to have a bit of a play with some weathering techniques.

So there is some chipping going on as well as a bit of washing. I also tried out AK Interactive Sand Effect on the PZ III s, it's an interesting medium, being enamel rather than acrylic. As it was new I was quite subtle with it but with a bit more practice I think it will be a useful tool to have in the box. Visible on the front of the tank below.

I used some decals from Warlord Games for the numbers and they look a bit big to me, but I am more than happy with the overall look.

So we have 6 28mm vehicles at 15 points a piece (90) and 5 half 28mm figures  for 12 or 13 points depending which way you round, I'm going for up and 103 points.

Back with some more WW1 Mesopotamia stuff next week, a Battalion of Indian Infantry is already on the table.

Very nice indeed Ken!  I take your point on these feeling much quicker after the hand painted Caunter but they've come out very nicely indeed.  I do like the weathering techniques you've applied to them, I always seem to go a little over the top when I try weathering, but these look just right.

Smashing colours on them too, they certainly look the part and I'm absolutely going to round up for 103 points - wouldn't want to diddle you out of half a point after your hard work!

From Anthony O - Horde of Spear - 202 Points

The Empire of Dust continues to grow, this week it is a horde of Spearmen ready to defend the rest of the force from those pesky cavalry.

I have broken them up into two regiments for future flexibility but I envisage I will field them mostly as a horde. It just seems right for some reason to see such a wall of spears.

I admit it has been a slog getting through these guys, this challenge is fantastic for pushing me though and I now have the bulk of a good Kings of War force.

So I sort of lost count how many I put in there and the jumble makes it hard to keep count but there is definitely at least 40 28mm troops so I make that 200 points.

I can but admire the metronomic reliability of your posts Anthony, especially as they're all to the same crisp, clean standard!  I'm on record as being a big fan of the teal shields as a great counterpoint to the gold and bone, but the sheer size of this unit really brings it home and you can imagine this horde just washing over any enemies in a mighty bone-rattling wave - especially as you've painted so many that you managed to lose track of numbers!

Certainly looks like at least 40 to me, so 202 points it is with a pip for the two foremost standards representing one per smaller unit - well done as always!


Yep, that's right, it's the day of Thor, Thorsday!
Image result for thor

I really want to hammer home how much I appreciate all of the lightning quick submissions that the Thursday crew have been doing to storm their way up the scoreboard.  Especially as that means nobody has to use a Calcula-thor to workout the points they've been accruing, and today we have submissions from paint stations above and below the equa-thor.

Anyway, I want to keep my part in today pretty Loki, so let's get on with the painting submissions!