Friday 28 February 2020

14th Army in Burma

John was keen to try out his nice new 14th Army and Japanese figures, so he put on this game set in Burma in early 1945. It was taken from a training scenario on Jungle Warfare, and the idea was to try out the approved drill. The game was run using Blitzspiel using 15mm figures. The ground scale was around 6" to 100 yards, which funnily enough was also the maximum visibility in the dense forest.

The battlefield from the British side. I contributed a few palm trees but they were mainly Johns. It looked pretty jungle-like I think.

The British objective was this village, down at the far end of the track. 

On came the leading platoon, ably led by Graham. The Japanese presence (or not) was indicated by inverted playing cards. The dense undergrowth made the going very slow, but lining up in a big column on the track just seemed to be asking for trouble

After a while some of the suspicious looking cards turned out to be real Japanese troops.

A section of the were lurking in the trees, covering the track.

Their opening shots were ineffective and fairly soon the Brens had them pinned down.

Then it was time for right flanking and clearing the position with bayonet and grenade, covered by the Brens. Just like the manual.

As the Japanese were pinned by fire, they were easily eliminated.

On up the track we went until another lot opened fire. They pinned the leading rifle group.

While all this excitement was going on, the Company command group came on, along with the MFC and other platoon commanders. Runners went back and forth but the Grahams chaps were doing fine.

The lead platoon fanned out,  but the Japanese melted back into the jungle as the rest of the company began marching on.

Things started getting a bit sticky when this nasty MG opened up down the road, pinning the leading section.

Then this sniper started shooting from behind a tree and another Japanese section opened fire.

Time for a spot of smoke to cover the pinned troops on the road.

The leading platoon had another section pinned by the Japanese fire, at which point it was thoroughly bogged own and time to commit the rest of the company against what was obviously a strong position (it turned out there were two other Japanese sections as well).

At that point it was time to call it a day, we'd pushed a fair way up the track but time had run out. The attack never really developed into a company attack as the dense jungle precluded a rapid flanking manouvre. Instead it was a platoon fight and Graham managed to get a long way on his own. It was a shame we didn't manage to do the full company attack but perhaps we were a bit too tentative in our advance.

Wednesday 26 February 2020

1/144th Avro Anson

When my dad was in the RAF his main job was in the control tower, with a sideline in airfield defence (which he said was fun, but the Lee Enfield was a bit of a challenge to fire left handed). The only plane he ever actually went up in was an Anson, on some jaunt or other from the squadron. So, I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the Anson, and this model came my way courtesy of Mr Gow.

I've no idea who the manufacturer is, it was mixture of plastic and metal parts (the 'plastic' may have been resin, hard to tell), but it assembled into a nice model. It looks a bit cartoony, but I think that is the nature of the aircraft. This is one of the later models with circular windows, and lacking the dorsal turret, so transport/liaison.

Tim had already built it so all I had to do was clean it up and paint it. I undercoated it light grey and had a dig around in my paint box. To my amazement my very old pot of Humbrol Dark Earth paint still had some life in it, as did my old pot of RAF Dark Green, so I could do it in proper 'Airfix' colours. I slightly messed up the canopy lines so this is a super rare Mark IIc with the special split canopy divider on the windshield.

I didn't have any RAF decals to hand so I hand painted the roundels and tail flash. I didn't dare attempt three or four colour roundels so I went with the no doubt inappropriate blue/red ones as I stood a fighting chance of painting those.

I just gave the underside a thin coat of light blue, which over the grey undercoat came out a pleasing blue/grey. I didn't bother with underwing decals but I did actually remember to paint the tailwheel this time (unlike those Dakotas - which I rectified at the same  time as doing this).

And off it goes over the dining table. I'm not quite sure what I'll do with it, but I expect I'll be able to cobble some sort of dubious scenario together to justify using it! I'm rather pleased with how it turned out, and I'm delighted that my old Humbrol paints still have a lease of life in them.

Friday 21 February 2020

Pig Sticking

John had been doing some research recently and discovered that Baden-Powell of Scouting for Boys fame, was a strong advocate of the sport of pig-sticking as an aid to cavalry training and wrote one of the definitive guides to the sport (still available on Amazon).

Further research followed and a game was duly produced, including various specific figures courtesy of the vast range of figures from Irregular. John and I had already tried this out and made a few adjustments, but this was its first outing at the club.

The Knustonpore Tent Club was represented by myself, Tim G, Tim C and Jerry, while John adjudicated.

The country. Over to the left (off table) is a load of jungle and six foot high grass being swept by beaters to drive out the deadly wild pigs. Our bit is a grassy plain cut up with a few clumps of bad going.

The Knustonpore Tent Club lined up for a heat.  A couple of Irregular hogs for size (a large male and a juvenile). Each rider is colour coded by uniform and assigned a pair of individual dice. A variety of spear styles was in evidence, mostly underarm but my chap in blue is overarm. Lunging is discouraged, throwing spears strongly frowned on and emptying ones Webley into an angry hog is an expulsion offence.

This was on occasion for our very grandest hats, a couple of pith helmets, Tims very grand Indochina vintage cork hat and Jerrys even more magnificent Nawob hat.

After a number of sows emerged (very unsporting to hunt the sows) the first proper hog appeared and off we went. Cards determined our activation order and I was lucky enough to be first out of the gate. Move distances are semi randomised, and it is adviseable to gallop at top speed all the time as it makes you a harder target for the pig. There is of course a chance you'll fall off at very high speeds.

My chap made contact ahead of the rest, sadly my spear failed to damage the pigs heavily boned head, so I didn't even get first blood.  Note the distance between the pursuers, it is very bad form to cut up another rider or pass too close to their right side.  Crashing into another rider is unforgiveable.

Along with random move distances, turns are moderated by the widget (maximum of 45 degrees per turn, separated by at least 4" move). This makes turning inside a jinking pig very hard, and increases the chance of colliding with another rider.

I did manage to catch the pig again at one point, but once again failed to do any damage despite a good hit. In turn the pig mortally slashed my horse and I had to leave to field while it bled to death. Dear me. This particular porker was despatched cleanly by one of the others, and the second one to appear was also dealt with rapidly.

The third pig proved to be a tough old beast, taking multiple wounds and even unhorsing Tim C. We ended up in a complete scrum around it, and the Nawob (Jerry) stretched the definition of 'honourable' riding to the limit as he blocked other riders and cut them up.

Poor Tims horse lies being gored by the pig while we attempt to finish it off.

We did eventually despatch the monster , and it was time for tiffin and a good sing-song.

That was great fun and we got through three proper hunts in an hour and half. Expect this to appear on the COW session list.

Thursday 20 February 2020

37mm infantry guns

Along with the Skoda 47mm, I also picked up a couple of other guns from the COW Bring and Buy for my generic WW2 minor forces. These were a pair of unusual Russian 37mm infantry guns with spoked wheels from Irregulars Really Useful Gun range. The castings were very odd, with the barrels and gunshields cast on the wrong way around. The real guns do have a strange appearance as the wheels are mounted forwards of the shield under an extended barrel mount, but nothing like these.

In the end I managed to make something passable by chopping the castings in half and reassembling them with a stub of barrel showing. I suspect the originals were cast with the shield forward, at the end of the gun barrel which may have been an option on the real one. The photos of the real thing all show the gun shields mounted well back though.

It doesn't look too bad at all, quite a cute little gun and a good standin for light mountain gun or similar. One of the guns was missing its axle but it was easy enough to make another one out of wire.

The crews were assembled from the spares box, a standing French officer in a greatcoat and Adrian helmet (possibly Essex?), a leftover from one of my other French WW1 howitzers and a kneeling figure  in a kepi with a basket. I filed the kepi down to make it look like a sidecap.

You can see the basket bit better here, I decided it has ammunition in it as clearly a little infantry gun would have its ammo carried in a woven basket. I suspect it is supposed to be a pigeon carrier! As with the Skoda, I did the crew in khaki, brown leather equipment and grey helmets and the gun overall green with  dusty drybrush. I picked out the wheel rims in gunmetal.

After an unpromising start, they turned out OK. I should have taken a photo of the original casting to show the difference, but I didn't. Someone wise once said you can never have too many lorries, and I am inclined to say the same thing about artillery pieces.

Expect to see them being wheeled up the Caucasus mountains by some unfortunate Rumanian mountain troops next.

Saturday 15 February 2020

Lake Trasimine 217 BC

217BC and off to the killing fields of Italy once more. Hannibal is on the rampage and Consul Flaminius sets off to stop him. We are up in the Po Valley today, so the countryside is fairly lush.

Hannibal had been harrying the countryside to goad Flaminus into action, and he duly responded, sending the Roman Army off to pursue. Flaminius sent his troops down a defile near Lake Trasimine, unaware that Hannibals army was lying in wait.

Another CnC Ancients game, Diego and Jerry took the Carthaginians, Tim was Flaminius. We played this with my 20mm Ancients armies (a mixture of HaT, Esci, Italieri and Airfix with a few Newline metals), based up for 25mm DBA (so 60mm wide bases) on my Hexon terrain.

Flaminius leads his column around the top of the lake, Auxiliaries and Legionaries in evidence. The hills in the distance are impassable.

Flaminius's vanguard, Auxlia, Velites and more Legionaries. It was misty and Flaminius had neglected to send out any scouts.

Which was a bit unfortunate as this lot were lurking behind the hills. A load of Gallic and Celtiberian Warband.

The pass in front of th defile was sealed off by Carthaginian medium and heavy infantry, commanded by Hannibal humself.

The Carthos had brought their Spanish allies along with them. Balearic slingers and various Spanish auxiliaries. 

They also had their Numidian and Carthaginian cavalry massed to hit the Roman rear.

A Numidian Prince.

The cavalry were commanded by Mago, as usual. The third chap from the left has a Tanith painted on his shield, the Carthaginian Goddess of Love. Also the name of one of my unfortunate children (I got to choose!). 

Flaminius responded aggressively to the ambush, pushig his own light troops on to the low hills.

Sadly, Mago had the card he'd always dreamed of. Mounted Charge.

And a mass of cavalry poured over the hills and into the end of the Roman column.

It met with some success and a number of the Roman units were routed.

Flaminius pushed his Auxilia forwards aggressively and drove off some of the Numidians, whose own retreat was blocked by their pals.

They also counterattacked in the centre, pushing the Spanish back.

Magio pushed the Celtic Warbands up to support his cavalry (the chaps who have decided not to wear any clothes).

Desperate fighting ensued. The Warband overran some Auxilia but Flaminius counterattacked and almost broke them. It was very disconcerting being faced with a wall of bare buttocks from this angle.

Things weren't going so well at the rear of the Roman column as the Romans were pushed back into the lake.

Flaminius charged the Carthaginian centre, supported by a handful of Roman cavalry. He succeeded in routing two of the Carthaginian units in a heroic action.

The Carthaginians pressed forward again, some of their medium cavalry taking on the victorious Legionaries.

The Carthaginians finally eliminated the last of the Auxilia at the end of the Roman column.

They also pinned the Roman vanguard in place.

The decisive action was in the centre though. The Carthaginian cavalry attacked Flaminius's Legionaries and rolled astonishing dice, wiping them out. Flaminius himself survived, rolling a flag to run away whereas in real life he died fighting with his troops.

With that, the Carthos had accumulated the six banners needed for victory and the game ended. Given their awful tactical position, the Romans fought back well, but the early Mounted Charge had given the Carthos a commanding lead which the Romans were always going to struggle to match. 

That was an interesting scenario, very cleverly designed. The consensus on Boardgame Geek is that this is a tough one for the Romans, although if they can get their troops up on the hills, they have a good chance. In this case, Tim tried that but the Carthos had too many right flank cards to make it viable. One suggestion was to handicap the Carthos by two banners to balance it out (as they have three leaders and a six card hand vs two leaders and a four card hand).

Next up is Cannae, and after that hopefully the Roman fortunes will improve somewhat. I may look at the handicap suggestions for that scenario.