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.
Also in the settings you can include clouds, this could create some interesting pictures as well depending on what you are 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)
“…but in summary of Salute I can say “a lot of people, met some new and old friends, the games looked great, got some gifts(!), picked up some stuff and bought some more, What a Tanker from Too Fat Lardies looked fun, a fantastic GNW battle from Michael Leck – from my perspective the Show rolled a Six.”
From about a week ago!
We have been busy with the Little Ones year end Rugby Tournament the last week so I have not been doing that much hobby wise lately. We went to Isle of Wight and had a blast – it is a wonderful part of the world.
I realise that it is now about 10 days ago since Salute 2018, so I think there are plenty of better places for an overview of Salute – I suggest you try Big Lee’s most excellent blog here. Alternatively, or as well, you could go to youtube and watch the terrain tutors very nice video of the show (press play below) – if you have not checked out his other stuff do that as well.
What follows are just a few snippets of things from my personal experience.
Twisting the Dragon’s Tail
On St George’s Day! 100 years ago the Royal Navy attempted to block the Belgian port of Zeebrugge. The idea was to block the canal entrance by sinking obsolete ships – this to stop U-boats and light shipping from leaving port.
The game presented by the Maidstone Wargames society showed the actions of the HMS Vindictive that carried a troop or royal marines that were to take out some German Gun positions. It was a beautifully presented game and the ship was a thing of beauty and scratch built (using a lot of tomato pure tubes as sheeting material – that is hard core in my books – “What a we having for Dinner today?”, “It is another round of Pasta with Tomato Sauce!”).
Mission Command: Normandy
Mission Command is a new set of WW2 rules that promises to capture the essence of tactical and operational combat for company level to division level. It captures the way in which different armies (nationalities) operated in practice in terms of tactical and operational command, control and communication. It was a pleasure to have a chat with the guys. I found it intriguing – more information here. It is currently at the final stages of playtesting and a relatively inexpensive beta ruleset can be obtain through the link above. The game is Umpired and orders are given at the beginning of them game but can be modified. However the changes to the orders have to be achieved within command structures where the fog of war, imperfect information and confusion can cause unintended outcomes.
The Battle of Foy
Most of us remember this from the phenomenal Band of Brothers book and TV-series. This table was a joy to watch and the group presenting it was passionate about sharing their enthusiasm. I have a special place somewhere for snow terrain and this one was inspiring. The miniatures used were 20mm and it was played using the Bolt Action rules. The tall pine trees are made with the same technique as I used from my trees earlier in the year (more about how to make them here).
Tumbling Dice and another Diversion – Bag the Finn!
Paul at Tumbling Dice (link here) have a nice range of 1/600 aircraft and I bought myself a bundle of his nice aircraft that I want to use for some aerial dogfights between Finland and Soviet. They are very nice and they are relatively easy to paint them and it will not cost you a fortune to get started. I have some already that I used for Battle of Britain 1940.
I also got myself a selection of books from Amazon recently about the Finnish and Sovietic air force of the period – mostly second hand from Amazon at a not too heavy cost.
I will be using the Too Fat Lardies rules Bag the Hun for these (link here). The Scramble supplement have a little piece of using the Rules for the Finnish Winter War to get me started, but I think I will focus on the Continuation War period – those Brewster Buffalos looks far too cool!.
I was not going to but I got some of Lifecolors nice paints for this project (I got all the colours individually, from their paint set pictures below a part from the black as I thought I could get away with it!). This is a perfect on the move project as it does not take a lot of space – a handful of paints and a handful of planes and you can take off anywhere!
The only question is what playing surface to use. It would be really good have a aerial picture with good resolution of a winter land scape from above. Have not seen anyone doing one and I do not know where to get a good resolution picture from – any ideas gladly taken?
With some help from the Welsh Wizard, Mike Hobbs, we manage to order for a sufficient amount to get a healthy discount from Eureka (more here) – who did their annual trip from down under to Salute. They have a good selection of stuff and I got myself a lot of 15mm (some WW2 Australians with Great Coat and Russian Partisans) and some 28mm stuff (for my Mutant 1984).
I will show these in a later post as I have no intention of doing anything with them at the moment. Big shout out to Nic and crew – see you next year!
What a Tanker!
Too Fat Lardies were demonstrating their What a Tanker game and it looked great. Go and do yourself a favour and buy the book from here. If you need a little more convincing check out the stuff below. Had a good chat with Rich, Nick and Sidney – thanks for your time!
For more on the game if you do not want to take my word for it.
A video by the Lardies themselves:
Also check out these links for podcast whilst you paint your tanks:
The Veteran Wargamer (Jay) have gone Tank Mad in a wonderful way – check out his two podcasts for more here and here.
We are hopefully doing a game of What a Tanker this weekend using some 15mm German tanks vs Russian or American tanks – preparations are underway more to come.
However 6mm may be a good option and I spotted Baccus Shermans and Panzer IVs at Salute – they look very nice and the Sherman is due out very soon.
Michael Leck and friends, as have become tradition, presented yet another stunning table with a historical battle with a Swedish denominator – this time depicting the battle of Stäket 1719 (more here). This is a small battle at the end of the Northern War with with the King having been shot in Norway in 1718 and with the Russians and Cossacks terrorising the Swedish east coast with a fleet of Galleys (this was know as the Russian Harryings (Rysshärjningarna). The attack was repulsed but the Russians managed to escape without any damage to their fleet allowing them to continue their harrying the following year.
The galleys and the terrain boards (and a few of the miniatures) were made by Jan (who is another exile Swede living in the UK). The rest of the miniatures were flown in with Michael and chums.
As I have declated before Michael, and I, used to roll dice and use our imagination in the same role-playing club many moons ago. It is always nice to see him and his latest stuff – he actually brought me two presents, a giant stag beetle and a Swedish king. Many thanks Michael!
How much is your collection worth!
I also had a nice chat and a coffee with good friend Peter Riley who is running the Wargamer Collection Calculator (I have discussed them before on the blog, here) that now features a wargames directory with more than 1,000 traders, clubs and societies – is your club on it? Their base offer is in effect a collection manager where you can log you wargames collection in words and pictures with some high level estimate of its potential worth – perhaps for the purpose of using this as a basis for a separate insurance of your collection. Even if you do not want to insure your collection you could perhaps use it as a collection manager. Registration is free. Check them out here.
…I think that represents a biased but still fair sample of Salute goodies! I forgot the Daleks, here we go.
Horka 1708 update – Swedish Infantry and Artillery thoughts
I have been working away with the Horka project and here is the Swedish Infantry contingent. 28 bases (compared to the 64 Russian ones, presented earlier here).
I am also working on Artillery and have come to some kind of compromise for artillery. The Russian used a lot of smaller artillery pieces – battalion guns. In the accounts of Poltava once of the key elements is the Russian Artillery ripping away the advancing Swedes, changing to shrapnel for the last 200 meters. Placing a few cannons on the sides, as is the typical set-up, where the cannons representing 8 to 16 pieces of something like are shown as two bases on the sides, that does not really convey the story. So I will use thin frontage bases (15mm wide) and put them between the Russian battalions to illustrate these pieces. It may be overkill from a ratio vs model count – but we can deal with this and having a quick glance at the way it looks I do not think there is a way back. More about artillery in a later post. This was just me getting carried away!
In a recent Meeples and Miniatures episode, that I mentioned in the last blog update (here), the hosts interviewed Sam Mustafa about his upcoming Rommel rules (link to the podcast here). Sam has done many interesting wargames rules and in particular I have enjoyed Maurice and Might and Reason (I discussed these with regards to GNW battles in the past in an earlier blog post, here). Invariably his rules are well presented, original and solid – and as we find out from the podcast they are thoroughly tested as well! Following this I also listened to some of the podcasts Sam has produced on his Honour website (link to the Honour Webpage, here) – I got very tempted to give these a go and started to plan what I need in terms of miniatures (and bought a few, see below) and I am also thinking about basing etc.
A few hours ago I found out that the rules are out and I got myself the bundle (a physical book and a PDF), it seems like a few others did too as the website crashed. I suggest you have a read around on the Honour webpage and listen to the podcasts, to see whether this ruleset is something for you – I am giving it a go!
Rommel is a tabletop game of great battles in the European and Mediterranean theatres of the Second World War. The player takes the role of a general commanding an entire division, or elements of several divisions, or an entire corps or even an army. Units represent companies and battalions. Tens of thousands of men and machines clash for control of miles of territory. Make decisions about the application of air power, engineering, the use of reconnaissance, the commitment of mobile reserves, and many other things.
From the Honour webpage.
I have decided to do enough bases to play the two example scenarios (both in North Africa) from the book and available as downloads on Sam’s homepage (Introductory Scenario: “Operation Brevity” and A Sample Rommel Scenario, see here) using 3mm miniatures from Oddzial Osmy (O8), these are sold by Magister Militium in the UK (link here).
I could have done it in 6mm, or used some of my early war 15mm WW2 stuff, but I fancied a little bit of change for this project and the North African campaign is virgin territory with regards to miniatures . Yes, I could have tried the rules out using flat cards but what is the fun in that ;).
In my browsing on the net of relevant stuff I have come across Doctorphalanx’s interesting postings on basing (see here) and will base my units in a similar way. Basically 3 tanks per base, two or three guns, and as may infantry I can reasonably fit with a vehicle or two indicating a motorized unit. However the final basing approach is still open as I need to study the rules and see if there is some way I could incorporate some unit features/stats into the base itself (i.e. using tufts, or number of vehicles/figures, etc.).
Having got used to minimalistic table sizes, with my recent 6mm skirmishes (e.g. the Pikeman’s Lament stuff, see here for an example) I want to make sure that the bases can fit in a 11 cm square. The reason for this is that the Rommel typical game is played on an area divided into squares and the standard table size is 8 by 12 squares. By using 11 cm it will fit the width of a normal dinner table (creating an 3 by 4 foot play area).
Below is the map for the Deir el Tarfa scenario, showing a typical set-up.
The following pictures show a few options for basing (3 is the maximum number of bases in a square – I believe!) vs an 11 cm (110mm) square. My favourite is the 40mm by 30mm or 30mm square as this allows key terrain features to be indicated efficiently and I hope it will look good too. However, I want to get the miniatures and get a feel before I make up my mind.
I need the following units/bases for these two available scenarios:
6 No. Grant tank bases
3 No. Cruiser tank bases (A13)
2 No. Vickers tank bases (MK VIC)
2 No. Matilda tank bases (II)
2 No. 25pdr artillery bases towed by artillery tractors
13 No. Motorised Rifle bases
5 No. Pz III bases
2 No. Pz II bases
2 No. Pz IV bases
3 No. Semonvante 75 bases
3 No. Towed artillery 10.5cm bases
6 No. Bergsaglieri Infantry bases with trucks
6 No. Panzergrenandier bases with Sdkfz 251s
3 No. Regular Italian infantry bases (walking, I will use bergaglieri model as there are no normal Italian infantry in the O8 range)
The shopping list, as always, got longer than I initially thought. But it resulted in the following order. There will be a lot of left overs, but that is good for further growth!
Having done this I realised that I forgot a few packs but a quick call to Magister Militium the following day sorted it all out (adding another pack of Valentines -WBR619, some Bedford Trucks, 2 packs of WBR631 and a pack of Universal carriers – WBR613). I am a little nervous about the scale and how to get them to look good on the table – well time will tell!.
Further considerations will be the actual gaming table/mat (not sure how I want the squares – marked with line or a more discreet option?). I will probably do a mat from scratch in line with previous projects (see more here and here). I will elaborate more on this in further posts – but check out Brigade Games Middle-Eastern village in 1/1000 scale (Obviously this is a different scale than the 3mm miniature that are in 1/600 scale, but I think it will work, see link to it here).
The monies have been spent and the ambition is there – we will see when I take that next giant leap for one modelling mad man but a small step for mankind!, and get them painted and based. I do not think it will be a massive task to get this done! I will start reading the rules this weekend. I will do an update at some point in the future to let you know how I am getting on!
I was going to progress on the main project this Sunday doing some bespoke terrain mats for Lesnaya (well at least starting them), but felt a little bit tired after spending the evening watching the news about yet another horrendous terror attack this time in London. I work a stone throw from London Bridge and have spent a fair few evenings in Borough Market. I decided to listen to the latest (two!!) Meeples and Miniatures podcasts (link here and here) and to do some gardening to clear my mind as I did not find myself even close to a creative mood. My thoughts are with those affected directly and indirectly in the recent terror attacks in Manchester, Kabul and London. Mats will have to be done later.
A little bit of effort this week
I have wanted to try out the IABSM (I ain’t been Shot Mum) rules for some time and decided (a few weeks ago) to make two forces to try these rules out – some British Paratroopers and some German Grenadiers. I have seen some nice games in the past using 6mm miniatures (that is more or less the ground scale of the rules) – So I got myself a fair few packs of Brits and Germans from Baccus (here is a link to their WW2 section).
I was initially considering doing some Winter War themed 6mm stuff but had a change of mind as I already have a lot of Winter War stuff in 15mm (see more here showing the nice winter war stuff from Herois and Ros in 6mm) – but perhaps in the future. Heroics have a nice range of Winter geared soldiers and since the Germans and the Finns had the same type of helmet it is easy to make a Finnish force.
Having been encouraged by the recent 6mm skirmish stuff (see more in the individual links: (i) Sharp Practice, (ii) Men who Would be Kings, and the recent (iii) Pikeman’s Lament) I thought I would do the companies for each force in a way that I could play Chain of Command as well using one of the platoons. I have platoons for the Winter War in 15mm and Germans and British for 1940 Europe, but not for Normandy. One of my very good friends live in Normandy and it would make it easy to take the stuff with me on my next trip.
Incidentally, there is a scenario in one of the Lardies Special about the fighting around the Pegasus bridge (it is the Summer Special 2006 – What’s for Afters?, link here). I also have a 6mm Pegasus bridge that I spent far too much monies on, so I better get some use out of it. The Paratrooper company could be scaled down to represent a glider company.
Testing with the 8th Army
I quickly painted a platoon of early war 8th Army guys this week (they are 6mm Adler figures that I bought some years back, here is a link to the range) as I found them on the lead mountain. I based them so I could use them in a chain of command scenario and also to get a feel on how it looked. I have to admit that I am really please with the results and I really like the way the basing turned out.
The bases are 12mm to 20mm washers (see here for how I tend to get them). There is a Lieutenant (Pistol, 15mm), Platoon Sergeant (SMG, 15mm), 2″ mortar team (20mm), Boyes AT rifle team (20mm), 3 Junior Leaders (SMG, 15mm) for each section and 3 sections of two teams; Bren team (3 miniatures, two on a 20mm base and one on 12mm base) and rifle team (6 miniatures, 3 on a 20mm base, 2 on a 15mm base and one on a 12mm base). Note that I have stopped using the 9mm base – as I feel it is too small.
In summary, three sections like this (from left to right), Junior Leader with SMG (one tuft to indicate his leadership ability), 3 man Bren team and 6 man rifle team.
Senior Commander (Platoon Sgt with SMG), Senior Commander (Lt with Pistol) – both with two tufts to indicate their status. In addition a Boyes team and a 2 inch mortar team.
Supports – 2 man sniper team, Medical orderly, 3 man engineering team and 5 man (forgot one in the picture) HMG team.
I think I need to get some Afrikakorps as well, this test got a little bit too inspirational. I have heard that the GHQ vehicles works very well with Adler.
Anyway I have spray-painted the necessary stuff for the Normandy Stuff and will complete them at some point this Summer.
Dragon’s Rampant in 6mm
I also dug up some 6mm fantasy stuff I have (some bought recently and some a little bit older) as I ordered a copy of Dragon’s Rampant last week – it is the same “engine” as Pikeman’s Lament and the Men who would be Kings. The Little One has enjoyed these games and asked me for some fantasy – so why not. I am planning on doing Goblins (with miniatures from Baccus, link here, and Microworld Games, link here) and some high powered knights (based on the Dragon order from Perfect six, see link here).
Here are a few picture of the basecoated (grey basecoat with black ink) stuff.
/ That is all for this week, take care of yourself.