Tuesday, 31 May 2022

I have been to.... Kelham Island Museum

 At the recent May Bank Holiday our daughter came to visit and we dropped her off to meet some friends at Kelham Island, the old industrial heart of Sheffield on the river Don near where the Norman castle used to be. It is now a super trendy waterfront development full of apartments and bars, but it also has an excellent museum covering the development of industry in Sheffield.

We had walked around the area a lot during lockdown thanks to some excellent audio guides, but the museum had been closed to the public. As we were there, we took the opportunity to visit as we'd not been to the museum for years. 

It is fairly hard to miss as it has a massive Bessemer Converter outside.

At the entrance are a pair of 1795 6pdr bronze guns, the carriages were damaged during the 2007 floods (the museum was flooded along with much of the surrounding area) but they have been restored.

Sheffield was  major production centre for weapons, armour plate and munitions in WW2, which was why the Luftwaffe kept bombing it. This is the business end of a Tallboy 10 ton bomb, minus its tail fin.

An 18" armour piercing shell.

And a barrel turning lathe.

Along with munitions, Sheffield was also a major producer of iron and steel and associated steel products, although it has declined considerably today and now focusses on specialist steel rather than bulk steel. 

This is a Crossley gas engine, which drove a steel pipe rolling mill until the 1970s.

This is the massive Don River Engine, the largest working steam engine in the world. It was used to drive a big steel rolling mill.

It really is vast, and runs for three minutes every hour. When it is operating, the ground shakes.

We hadn't been to the museum for years, and there were some new sections, including this example street of various types of of craft metal workshops (cutlery, tools, watches etc). 

There was also a transport section with a few examples, including this delightful car.


And a stagecoach! It really doesn't look very comfortable.

It was a very pleasant way to spend an hour or two and we had an excellent lunch in the museum cafe, which was really very good indeed. Recommended if you at a loose end in Sheffield. Website is here: http://www.simt.co.uk/kelham-island-museum


Friday, 27 May 2022

Partisan May 2022

 Yay, Partisan again. One of my favourite wargames shows. We were there back in October as the show runs twice a year (usually) but it was fairly quiet in Autumn due to Covid and all that.

The glossy brochure listed dozens of traders and games, and alot of the old familiars were there including Caliver, Kallistra, Baccus, Foundry, Skytrex and Old Glory.

Setting up before the punters came in. The hall was nice and breezy at this point as the end doors were open to aid unloading. I've took a fairly random collection of photos as I wandered around of things which took my fancy.

This magnificent Renaissance (?) naval game was on the table next to us, using a wet version of Never Mind the Billhooks.

Richard Crawleys group were running a big WW3 game with Cold War Commander, which has been in various iterations to other shows in the last few years. This was 6mm WW3 set in 1985, specifically Denmark and a Soviet attempt to cross the Kiel Canal.

The massive Foundry stall, as yet unthronged with eager buyers. I'm not a 28mm gamer but this stall is always hugely popular.

More trade stands. I do prefer browsing in person, and ended up having a few shopping accidents, but not too many. As is common these days, man of the trade stands were just selling the same blister packs of terrain, brushes etc as everyone else, so my search for some filler which isn't Milliput came to nothing. I know it makes commercial sense, but it is a bit dull. I did have huge fun rummaging through a big box of very cheap Humbrol Acrylics though, and came away with some useful colours. Still by far and away the best acrylic paints on the market, imho.

Peterborough Wargames Club had put on this magnificently produced Garden Gnome game.

Battle of Vicksburg, including burning ships and buildings made with little winking orange lights.

Plains Wars, 1876 (Barnsley Wargamers). Hordes of native Americans in 28mm.

The US Cavalry on the other side. There seem to be an awful lot of them too.

There was a monumental game being run as a memorial to Ian Smith who sadly died recently.

Derby Wargames Society. Debacle on the Prut, 1711.

This game was actually two desert battles, one set in 1942 in the morning, and the other in 1973 in the afternoon. Both were resolved using WRG armour and infantry rules.

Hordes of Crusaders wait to advance.

View from the Axis side. M13/40s on the rise.

Masses of Syrians and Israelis lined up for the afternoon.

2mm massed battle armies. I thought these were the new Antonine Figures blocks, but ion fact they were all 3D printed and very impressive too en masse.

This is what we came to do. We'd brought Tims 1812 game along again, covering Napoleons campaign in Russia. 

It uses a stylised (area movement) map of Russia, and the Grand Armee has to march to Moscow and force the Tsar to surrender. Failing that, Napoleon has to escape Russia without being captured by Cossacks.

Astonishingly, we had takers almost as soon as the show opened. Usually people like to do a bit of shopping first. We took it in turns to run it and it was a bit easier to run in pairs. There was a lot of background noise as the show was so full, so I ended up with a sore throat by the end of the day. 

The Grand Armee trails up to Moscow and back again, its route littered with garrisons and casaulties along the way. Historically Napoleon set off with 600,000 men and returned to Poland with 10,000. Ouch. The majority of the losses were in summer due to disease and strategic consumption, the winter finished them off.

After a while I went for a wander and a spot of shopping.

Another WW3 game in progress. A large group of US M60s have just met some Hinds.

Battle of Lutzen 


And more ACW. Wilsons Creek this time.

Graham, Chris and Phil were all there, very nice to see them all, especially Phil who is still recovering from his illness.

Middleton Cheney in 15mm. A very small ECW battle indeed, but very decisive.

Edgecote in 6mm.

Northampton in 6mm too.

The organisers said there were over 1100 attendees through the door and it certainly felt like it, although as ever it was thinning out by the afternoon.

Back at 1812 one unfortunate Napoleon managed to lose 140,00 men in one turn.

But Moscow eventually fell, and mysteriously caught fire.

Over the course of the day we ran  the game at least 15 times. It may have been more but we lost count. The Russians surrendered twice, and Napoleon managed to escape on all the occasions when they didn't. In one case he rolled up back in Poland with 180,000 men, which will make the 1813 campaign interesting!

Overall I really enjoyed the show. There weren't any more traders than last year but people had made a real effort with their games and it was just nice to be able to walk around the trade stands and pick stuff up instead of buying it online. I didn't end up buying too much, Twilight of Divine Right, which has been on my shopping list for a while and and old copy of the long oop Dropzone (the WW2 one, not Sci Fi) which I've been mulling over getting for ages. I also bought some toys, but you will have to wait until I paint them to see what they were.


Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Luftwaffe (trop) - bombers

 The Luftwaffe fighters needed some bigger friends to play with, and although I had plenty of Stukas in stock, I was a bit short of bigger 6mm German bombers.

The Luftwaffe ended up with these two, both Junkers. A Ju 87 Stuka and a Ju 88. The Stuka was another old clunker I had in the aircraft box, while the Ju 88 is a new purchase.

I like a Ju 88, a great all round plane which works as a level bomber, a dive bomber and even a heavy fighter. In this case however, I very cleverly made a mistake on the order and bought a Ju 188 instead. Doh! I've trimmed the wings back down to a Ju 88 configuration and had a go at the canopy, although that was hard to file into the right shape. I'm hoping paint has covered up the rest, although the engine cowlings are a bit narrower than a standard Ju 88.

It hasn't come out too bad, although the paint scheme is actually one used on an He 111 squadron based in Sicily. I like the jazzy red/black spinners, and just a touch of green overspray. The large area of glazing is mainly dark blue with a bit of light blue highlight and the canopy struts show up nicely against the blue. It also got the ubiquitous white fuselage band, and as the fuselage is nice and thick, I even managed to paint a red recognition letter on it to add another splash of colour.

The Ju 87 cropped up in every theatre of war and is such an iconic German plane I had to have one for the desert. This was originally done in an Eastern Front scheme. Both the Ju 87 and Ju 88 suffered the indignity of my hand painted crosses, you'd think the bigger wings made them easier to paint, but no such luck. They don't look too bad from a couple of feet away I guess.

This unusual dark sand and chocolate brown splinter scheme is based on a Stuka squadron based in Libya in early 1942. I left the original sky blue underside but repainted the ground recognition bands from yellow to white (which seemed common in the desert), and also added the ubiquitous fuselage band. A bit of a coincidence was that this squadron also had the black/red spinners, the same as the Ju 88.

Off they go to bomb some targets over the the dining table. 

And here they are with their fighter escort. Seeing the planes together emphasises how large the Ju 87 was, it almost has the wingspan of the 110  (13.8m versus 16m). It also shows how small the Bf 109 was (9.9m wingspan).

I'm really pleased with that lot, so hopefully I've got enough planes for both tactical air support in brigade/regiment games and some representative aircraft for operational games.