In the post last week I discussed the Project the Little One and I are doing to play the 29 Let’s Go Pint sized campaign from Too Fat Lardies (link here if you are interested). The German platoon and supports have not yet been delivered as an item is on back-order, so we have pressed on with other stuff. One of the most pleasing aspects of a WW2 Skirmish is a nice looking table that sets the scenes alive. If you look at any of the Too Fat Lardies games there is plenty of character in the table itself – nice buildings, trees, hedges but also those additional things that makes it look real, like Green houses, planters, sheds, benches, telegraphs poles, pissoirs, statutes, monuments, civilian cars, old advertisement on buildings, etc.
Warbases have a nice range suitably called Chain of Command that has some very nice item including two garden sets (link here), they have been developed with Too Fat Lardies. The only problem for our project is that they are all in 28mm – if I did this in 28mm I would definitely get these.
I contacted Warbases and said something in the line of “Hey Lets Go 15mm?”. They told me they do not do them in 15mm, but that perhaps the stuff that Scenic Route Models could fit my needs (link here). Now these model are in OO scale that technically is 1/76 whilst 15mm is about 1/100 (most of the time) – in reality I feel that most of the Battlefront miniatures are bigger than 15mm. However, I thought to myself, I could throw a few pounds in their direction in the interest of research. So I ordered the following sets this Tuesday and they were delivered this Saturday.
And of course their Green House (well I got two).
I got them and as I suspected felt that there were a little bit on the large side (as they are design for another scale), this is the Greenhouse door vs the doors on the houses I am using (more about those below).
However I got out my good old razor saw and cut of a few layers on the bottom on all the pieces before assembling (you could use a knife and cut carefully as well) – A relatively easy modification.
And, I did similar modifications to the other stuff – always modifying the height. The only further modifications I did to the buildings where adding roof ridges (cocktail sticks), and gluing on 80 grade sandpaper on the shed roofs, and adding some glass to the plant boxes and green houses – this was from some sheets from some thin plastic from packaging for strawberries (I ate them and cleaned it up first). After I painted them I added some flower tufts to the planters and green houses. And, I almost forgot, I also added some detail to make the opening to the Green house look more like a door.
I am very happy with the results (the 15mm Americans from last week making another appearance).
I have made a second order for some more stuff (mainly repeats, but trying out one or more other things) and also ordered some other things from some other suppliers I hope will work as well – but will write about those in future updates here on the blog.
I also stumbled upon the following during an eBay search for something completely different. I thought it looked like some kind of stone pattern.
So, I got myself a piece of it to try out – it is called Faux Leather Python Pattern Upholstery Fabric and is sold in 1 meter lengths (1.4m wide) for £12. I got it and did a quick dry-brush and detail and this is how it turned out – not 100% satisfied but it does work.
Finally I bought a whole bunch of 15mm Normandy houses/structures (16 No. in total) from Empires at War – they are pre-painted stuff and are very good (link here). We only built a few and will only need about 5 No. for the 29 Lets Go campaign and only applied a little bit of additional paint mainly to hide the brown laser cut mdf sides – if you look at the pictures you can see the before and after look – they do work well without any modifications as well.
I will show more of the houses when I finished them.
I have bought all of the Too Fat Lardies Pint sized campaigns for Chain of Command to date, but I have to admit of not yet played any of them. I have used Chain of Command for some very fun Games in a Finno-Russian Winter war setting and for the Continuation war period. I am currently struggling with time to do any bigger gaming ventures apart from some gaming with the Little One as I spend more time than I would like away from home due to work. He had up to recently not been to interested in Chain of Command but now, out of the famous blue, he would like to do some Normandy actions, so I thought the first campaign Richard Clarke did could work well (and I have to admit I fancied painting some Americans and Germans).
I really enjoy the format of the “Pint Sized” campaign books and you can find this one and others on the Too Fat Lardies webpage (link here), you would need the Chain of Command Rules as well as At the Sharp End campaign supplement for the full experience – but I dare say you could use this with any WW2 plutoon based rules and have fun they are great products. The campaign covers the advance of the US 175th Infantry Regiment and their struggles in linking the Omaha and Utah beaches.
To play the scenarios you basically need a platoon or US Infantry and a Platoon of Germans, with some support options.
I am also using this project as an opportunity to get the Little One a little bit more involved in the terrain making aspect of the hobby, this time we did some roads and telegraph poles – which was great fun and with immediate gratification (at least for us) in the pictures below.
We also did some Telegraph poles that we bought from e-bay, they are laser cut MDF but I think they work very well and saved us some building time and 24 for a fiver (£5) is much cheaper than some alternatives – that perhaps look better, but for us this was perfectly adequate.
We did not use the base it came with instead installed them on top of thin washers with superglue (some of them on bases) and made a few damaged ones.
We also have a set to winterize for some other theatres, but that is for another colder day.
American Rifle Platoon
The American Rifle Platoon and the support options is more or less completed – there are a few I have not done yet and I will pick these up from Peter Pig at SELWG. The basic Platoon is based on the Battlefront US Rifle Company pack – this is not the plastic one they are currently selling but the old metal version, it gives you everything you need for the campaign except for some Shermans, Flamethrower, 50 cal. HMG and some Engineers (the new plastic box should do the same too).
Here are the models…
And then two mortar teams finished today (apart from gun metal colours – I realize now),
That is all we need for the American side, next the Germans….
Soviet Platoon/Company for Chain of Command (Finnish Continuation War)
Bersaglieri Platoon for Chain of Command (Greek 1940-41)
My lighting solution(s) for my travel rig
Soviet Platoon for Chain of Command (Finnish Continuation War) with Support
Had some marathon sessions last week to paint up a company box of plastic Russians/Soviets from Battlefront (Product code SBX33 Strelkovy Company in Plastic, at £28, but I got mine cheaper on ebay), with some additional miniatures from Skytrex (LMG second men, AT Rifles), Mortars from Peter Pig and further SMG men from Battlefront. I did the photos after having based them so there is still some static grass on the figures in some places – sorry!
These guys will fight the Finnish Platoon I made earlier (link here).
Using the list from the Chain of Command book we find the following information for a Russian Rifle Platoon.
So let us start with that Leytenant
Add two more squads and we have our Rifle Platoon (I did 4 or these Platoons)
Some of the support options I made this week (in addition I have plenty of tanks from my What a Tanker stuff I made earlier this year, just need to add some Infantry Gun and Anti-tank Guns:
Having placed all that on the table I still had this left.
So there is enough for more Platoons for a large game of Chain of Command, or even a IABSG.
Bersaglieri Platoon for Greece 1940-41 with some Supports
Whilst I was on holiday in Rhodes, Greece, I painted a Greek Platoon that I had lying around on the lead mountain (here is a link to that one). Below some picture of this platoon.
I got really inspired and decided to paint up a platoon of Italian Bersaglieri – Italian light elite infantry with those cool black feathers (actually capercaille feathers). To fight these brave Greeks. By the way Bersaglieri means marksman.
I love the intensity in this video showing them in action in the beginning – it is a propaganda video and I have no idea what they are saying and I especially like the part where they are pulling the AT Gun up the slope about 30 seconds in – quality.
I have seen these previously on the wargames table in the North African Theatre with the tropical helmets and light coloured uniforms and later in the war during the Italian campaign with a light khaki top and brown trousers. However for the Greek campaign the sources I found suggest a much darker uniform at this point and I have gone for this in doing these. I guess this uniform would work for the attack of Southern France in 1940 as well as for Barbarossa.
I got the models from Battlefront and I used the following packs (unless stated otherwise stated in the text) to make the platoon and the supports (prices in british pounds from Battlefronts webpage, I got mine about 10% cheaper from ebay). I really like the models but there is some flash especially on the two firing rifle poses and some of the rifles are a little bit weak so be careful.
I need to get some more infantry Guns and perhaps a small tank, anyway this is the platoon and the support option at this point in time.
As a basis for the platoon I used the list from the Too Fat Lardies webpage (link here), however this is a list for a Fucilieri platoon in Africa so may not be correct (if yoy know it is not and are reading this could you please let me know through the contact or comment on this blog). Anyway it is an assumption for now.
By the way Too Fat Lardies are soon to issue a new supplement for Chain of Command that maybe will contain further information on the Bersaglieri at this point in time. I am very excited about this as I have painted platoons for Germans, French and BEF (and a few on the lead mountain). In addition they will include rules that will be useful for my Continuation War scenarios as there will be rules for bikes (remember Lt. Eero Perkolas platoon in the movie Ambush [ Rukajärven tie] ) and boat assaults (see this link, if you do not understand why I am excited about this).
So really looking forward to this one, for many reasons.
…back to the Italians.
Let there be light!
Earlier (link here) I wrote about my current work situation requiring me to stay away form home in hotels a few evenings every week and about taking back the hobby time in bringing a “painting and basing rig” with me.
However there was an issue and I made a promise.
Light is a problem in hotel rooms and I have invested in a travel led lamp that will be a very welcome addition to the “rig!” but it is waiting for me in the house at the moment. I will get back to you with my verdict.
I find it difficult to focus if I paint in a poor light environment and I quickly get tired – affecting both quality (can’t see properly) and output (can’t do it for long). So something needed to be done.
I actually “splashed” out and bought two slightly different lamps and what follow is a little bit of a discussion or a review if you wish. I did not do any research prior to buying these so there may be better and more cost effective ones – this is just my view on the two I did buy. I have no technical knowledge of light and it is just based on my opinion and what seems to work for me – have I caveated myself sufficiently?
First out is Ideaworks super bright portable LED lamp, I call this one Gimli.
Gimli – £9.27 from Amazon UK
This one folds into a little compact box (13 X 7 X 4.5cm) and is powered by 4 No. AA batteries or by USB cable. I have only used this one using the USB cable so I do not know how long the batteries will lasts. There are also three levels of light that can be used 30%, 50% and 100%.
Second is the taller but with more sleek design, MoKo Portable LED Desk Lamp, I call this one Galadriel.
Galadriel – £22.99 from Amazon UK
This taller but slimmer lamp (23 x 5 x 2.5cm)has an internal rechargeable battery and can also be powered via USB cable. The battery can also be used as charger for your other gadgets (2800 mAh, this in theory is more than sufficient to charge an iPhone from 0 to 100% once) – so a handy additional feature. Further the battery lasts for about 7-8 hours according to the product blur (but there is a deterioration of strength during use).
So overall I am most happy with Galadriel as the light is better, but in addition she takes less space (they both weight about the same, when Gimli has the 4 AA batteries added) and further she has the added feature as a back-up power bank. I recall one of my University Lecturers saying that price is an information carrier and in this instance it is correct. I used it whilst on holiday and I am more than happy with the product.
However, as I now have them both I think I will use them together as this gives the even a better light experience. They are my two Towers.
“Dark is the water of Kheled-zâram, and cold are the springs of Kibil-nâla, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-Dûm in Elder Days before the fall of the mighty kings beneath the stone. She looked upon Gimli, who sat glowering and sad, and she smiled. And the Dwarf, hearing the names given in his own ancient tongue, looked up and met her eyes; and it seemed to him that he looked suddenly into the heart of an enemy and saw there love and understanding. Wonder came into his face, and then he smiled in answer.
He rose clumsily and bowed in dwarf-fashion, saying: „Yet more fair is the living land of Lórien, and the Lady Galadriel is above all the jewels that lie in the earth!
from the Two Towers by Tolkien
The point is whether you are painting at home or roaming the land, make sure that you have good light as it make the experience easier, more enjoyable and less tiring.
/ Hope that was of some interest, time to put on a few colours and then switch off the light. By the way here is a picture from the movie I referred to earlier Ambush/Rukajärven tie showing the Finnish soldiers with their bikes.
This week, actually the last few days, I have been working on a 15mm Scout/Recon Platoon for Chain of Command to fight the Finnish platoon I did last week (see here). The organisation of the platoon is based on the list found in the Too Fat Lardies Christmas Special 2016 (link here). They are all from the Peter Pig (link here) range and are in 15mm scale. I really enjoyed painting them and I think they are really nice models. If you are not familiar with Peter Pig, go and have a look at what they do – they have a very comprehensive WW2 range and a lot of specials like different type of Uniforms, Sniper, engineers, etc.
In addition Peter Pig has a lot of ranges covering War of the Roses, Samurai, English Civil War, Pirates (and even small 1/450th pirate ships), American War of Independence, American Civil War (and again some naval ships in smaller scale), Vikings & foes, colonial, wild west, great war, Spanish civil war, Vietnam and Modern Africa. Further they sell Scenery and some fantastic rule sets (http://www.peterpig.co.uk/).
I could have painted the Scouts in a one colour uniform but were keen to have some kind of camouflage to make them look a little bit cooler. Artizan design have some very useful Painting Guides produced by Mick Farnworth on their webpage (link here), I found one showing Russian Leaf Patterns that I liked (link here) with only two nice contrasting colours. I then found two good colour matches (Vallejo 886 Green Grey and 887 Brown Violet – it may be called US Olive Drab nowadays).
Then I painted the Uniform in the 887 and made small random dots with 886 on top and I think it looks good from the distance they will be looked at.
Anyway, here are the completed miniatures.
Leytenant, Senior Leader, with Pistol
Serzhant, Junior Leader, with SMG
3 Squads each consisting of;
Serzhant, Junior Leader, with SMG
Light Machine Gun (LMG) with 2 crew
4 No. Submachine Gunners
4 No. Semi-Automatic Rifle Men (SVT40, not sure the models are, but hey!)
Anti-tank rifle teams
50mm Mortar teams
Generic Engineering team (more a marker)
Commissar, to give the troops a kick in the arse (sorry, I meant to increase their morale)
Mid-week Paining Solution – Getting my Hobby time back
Due to work I currently spend about 2 nights every week in hotels – it is a little bit of a change but I thought I make the best of it. I am already getting tired of hotel bars. I have decided to do some painting on these evenings, if I can, and have set up a little “paint-rig!”. Not very high tech and based on three old VHS boxes, and the system is modular as you can add more boxes ;).
Light is a problem in hotel rooms and I have invested in a travel led lamp that will be a very welcome addition to the “rig!” but it is waiting for me in the house at the moment. I will get back to you with my verdict.
With regards to Podcast there is a new one out from the Wargames Soldiers and Strategy team that I enjoyed whilst painting yesterday, it is about participation games (link here). I wrote a blog a few weeks back that relates to this about engagement at wargames shows (link here). Give it a go.
I also plan to do 4 No. platoons of normal Strelkovy/Russian Infantry and I won a new box of Battlefront plastic 15mm Russians for £18 including postage from Ebay (they retail at about £26). I checked them out and I like them and think they will paint up nicely. I also looked at Plastic Soldiers company pack but decided to start with the Battlefront ones – perhaps I get a PSC box in the future. Since then I found out that the Battlefront ones are bulkier than the PSC ones and may not work together that well (thanks Ignacy Kurowski).
To do 4 No. Platoons I will need:
4 No. Senior Leaders with Pistol (there are 6 No. in the pack)
12 No. Junior Leaders with SMG (there are 12 No. in the pack).
12. No. LMG with 2 crew (there are 12 LMG soldiers in the pack but I would need 12 more Russian riflemen. I have some lying around I think).
84 Riflemen (there are 84 No. in the pack)
In addition it comes with 6 No. MMG. These should keep me busy for a while!, but I will not start it until my Greeks are done (another story) and I have enjoyed a few weeks of leave.
In a previous blog post I presented a career ladder for a Finnish What a Tanker player for the late continuation war period (see link here) based on known tanks used by the Finns (I also updated this blogpost on the 2 July 2018 with some more pictures of tanks I have made). We are still missing the T-50. As indicated the Finns did capture a lot of Russian tanks that were pressed into service. This is an optional list and shows other tanks (and TDs) that were used on the front that theoretically could have ended up being used by the Finns (but were not).
If the Russians had ’em the Finns could nick ’em (all 15mm)
Valentine III – Plastic Soldier Company
Matilda II – Zvezda 1/100
M3 Lee – Zvezda 1/100
SU-76 – do not have any yet but are waiting for plastic soldier company to release their set (this is from a press release earlier in the year). Or perhaps Zvezda who also has a model in the pipeline.
I should have pressed on with my GNW Horka Project but seem to have drifted off doing Finnish Continuation War tanks – I started doing some of these a very long time ago and base painted six tanks in 2016 but had done nothing since (see this old blog post). But as always in this hobby we do come around to things one day, one day…
The reason for this sudden diversion is of course the excellent What a Tanker game from Too Fat Lardies (link here) – it is a fun game and plays quickly. The Little One and I have set of German and a few Russian Tanks to play with and the two small games we had to date were a blast. However, like with most things I do, a Nordic angle seems to motivate me more. The Finnish tanker career is a limited one but there are some interesting Vehicles on offer – some are absolutely hopeless and others as good as they get – but tell me who needs a Tiger when you have Sisu?
I have the spent the last few days painting a large number of tanks relatively quickly (about 30 including some Russians). I do not have the ability or time to do much more but I think overall the impressionistic approach with washes and mud effects gives a reasonable look. All of the models used are 15mm and from Zvezda apart from the T-28, StuGs, BT-42 and the Landsverk that are from Battlefront. I have a few tanks I need to add to this post at a later date for completeness – the T28s and the T34/85.
What follows is a Finnish Career list for the later part of the Continuation War and covers the major Karelian Offensive in 1944 (from June to September). The career ladder can be used against a Soviet Opponent using the Soviet 1944 list from the What a Tanker rule book. Of course there are mistakes in it because nothing is perfect – if you find any I welcome them. I am an enthusiast with regards to this theatre not an expert.
I may extend this to include a few scenarios based on some of the actual encounters I have come across whilst reading about the offensive. However, this should be a good start,
Finnish Continuation War – A 1944 Finnish Career Ladder for What a Tanker (Karelian Offensive / Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive, link to Wikipedia here)
At the start of the Soviet offensive in June of 1944 the Finnish Army only had one Armour Division (Panssaridivisioona) that that was mainly equipped with the more or less obsolete T-26 tanks. The only tanks able to take on the Soviet onslaught were a handful of captured T-34/76 and KV-1s in addition to 30 No. StuGs (StuG 40 G) that had been bought from Germany in 1943. During the conflict further StuGs were delivered, and some more tanks captured including the T-34/85 and the ISU-152. In addition, and just before the armistice, some Pz IV J were delivered. It was a desperate time for the Finns and the young nation’s independence was yet again severely threatened by the eastern bear.
Notes on the list: If I found any mention that at least one tank of a type was used in combat, or ready to be put in service during this period I have made the tank available in the list. Stats for each vehicle can be found in the WaT rulebook apart from the BT-42 and the Landsverk that are provided below. Most tanks are of Russian origin apart from the ones marked with an asterixis (*) that are German.
The list does not include Armoured Cars or Small tanks like the T-37 and T-38. Also the Finns did capture both T-60 and T-70 tanks during the 1944 campaign but they were never put into service. If you want to run a more what-if campaign you could just assume any Sovietic tank were successfully captured and used. Alternatively in a campaign setting you could have any Sovietic tank not destroyed but lost, i.e. where the crew has bailed out, being available as an option for the Finnish player in the next game on a roll of 5 or more (or whatever seem reasonable). This would to some degree simulate what actually happened during this particular conflict due to the limited armoured resources of the Finns. Anyway, here we go…
Level 1 – T-26 (any version, declared obsolete in July 1944), BT-42 (separate stats below, only used in the beginning of the offensive and as for the T-26 declared obsolete in July 1944. It was not a very good piece of kit but the only “Finnish” vehicle of the period), T-28 (either type – go for the best one, also declared obsolete in July 1944), Landsverk L-62 (not really a tank or a assault gun, but perhaps a successful commander could start his career in one after using the AA gun against a tank successfully, or perhaps more adequate to use the word, miraculously. Again, added for Novelty and I did paint one!).
Level 2 – T-28E (see note with regards to obsolescence above)
Level 3 – T-34/76 M41-42, T-50, Pz IV J* (did not arrive until the end of August 1944 so not really in play during the main fighting of the offensive).
Level 4 – KV-1, KV-1a, StuG 40 G*
Level 5 –T34/85 M43 (7 captured vehicles were captured during the offensive and put into service during the offensive)
Level 6 – ISU-152 (only one of two captured vehicles during the offensive were used in combat).
To play Bag the Hun (as well as a number of other air wargames) a hexagon mat is required, I do not have one so I decided to buy one. Yes, I hear you saying “…there are ways around it, and why don’t you make one yourself!”. However occasionally, and contrary to popular belief, I do go with that famous flow and just get something off the shelf. I looked around but could not really find anything suitable. I could not really see the cliffs of Dover representing the Karelian Isthmus, neither would Kentish countryside do nor the desert or anything else that I found for that matter. I suppose that some of the Eastern Front battles would have been fought over some forested areas that could pass for what I needed, but none of these seem to be readily available.
What I really was after was an image showing two things – forested areas and lakes. I went on Google Earth Professional (that you can download for free) and realised, probably as the last person on the (Google) Earth, that you can get rid of all the overlays and plainly look at the picture and capture images at relatively high resolution.
Maximum resolution is 4800 by 3288 which proved more than adequate for my purposes. I found a piece of southern Finland I liked and saved the picture. I then resized it to a 3 by 5 ratio (as I wanted to get a mat I could throw on the dinner table) and sent it to Tiny Wargames (link here) and asked (i) if the image was good enough to print on one of their 3 by 5 mats, (ii) if he could add a 30mm hexagon pattern on top and (iii)how much it would take me back – the answer was (i) no problem, (ii) of course and (iii) £50 (that inclusive of delivery within the UK). Further he said it would take them 4 days to do it. Incidentally the cost is the same as it would cost to buy a mat with the same dimension of any of their existing mat designs – I suppose if you can provide a picture with sufficient resolution they will print a mat for you.
I also note that they can do more bespoke mats as well, like taking an old air photo from say D-day and make it into a stylised and coloured mat. However I do not know the cost of doing this as I suppose it would take some time to do – but if you are interested drop them a line.
A small note you need to specify how you want your hexagons printed on the mat – I sent a screen shoot from a Bag the Hun scenario map and told him my hexes should be aligned in the same way as those on the map. Very often the hexagon size is about 1½ inch, but since I went with a small mat (3 by 5) I also condense the hex from 38.1mm (1½ inch) to 30mm. The reason for the smaller mat is that I can quickly put the mat on the dining table and fly, with minimal fuss.
This is the map I sent them.
And this is what turned up.
Really happy in the way it came out (note the colour difference is due to the lighting when I took the picture of the mat on the table), I ordered it on a Monday afternoon and it arrived safe and sound on the following Monday. More than pleased and this is how it looks with some Russian and Finnish aircraft flying on it.
On reflection I should perhaps had taken a lower altitude picture, but I do like it and gives the feel of forests and lakes I was after.
Note on flight stands
With regards to flight stands the best way to manage it is if you do not attach each plane on a stand permanently but instead magnetise the plane and the base. There are several reasons for doing this, I think these are the key ones:
Base set of stands – you are very unlikely to use all you planes at the same time on the table, so consider what the maximum size your aerial engagements are likely to be. This will determine the number of flight stands you make. For example if you are playing the Check your Six rules more than a handful (that is about five) per player is about right, for Bag the Hun (in my case) where you fly sections a few more would be required – I went for a total of 40 stands (overkill, but what the hell).
Changing your mind – If you change the size or type of the base you are using for whatever reason this is easily accommodated as you just need to make some new bases – if you want to revert back you just use the old ones.
Storing your flyers – Storing small 1/600 on individual flight stands will take unnecessary space and when my current project is complete I will probably have in excess of 200 aircraft. Without the bases they take hardly any space. If I want to fly some planes for another project, I just use these flight stands again.
I made my flight stands using some transparent acrylic bases (30mm, 2mm thick) that I drilled a hole in and some and acrylic rod (2mm), I also used Neodymium magnets (2mm by 0.5mm). Remember the polarity when you glue the magnets to allow you to use the same flightstands for all your planes.
Big shoutout and thanks to Tiny Wargames (link here again)