Monday 30 December 2019

The Great War - British Infantry 28mm - Officers, Bomber and Rifle Sections

Here we have something a little different to the bright colourful uniforms that I usually like to paint.  I have long been fascinated by the appearance of the British Tommy of World War One.  The outline and silhouette of the uniform is unmistakable and even when portrayed as a shadow on memorials the appearance is, by now, iconic.

I had no intention of really buying 28mm figures. I had some Airfix 1/72 scale plastic figures in the attic and indeed still have them.  It was at a wargaming show at Donnington in around 2015 that I saw the Great War Miniatures for the first time.  I was bowled over by what I saw. The detail and poses were just how I would want them to be.  So I bought some....

...and then the research began.  How do I organise the units? which rules do I use? Surely it's just trenches and artillery fire and maybe some breakthroughs.? Well I soon learned about the history and the more I learned, the more interest I gained. 

My knowledge is much greater now than when I started.  I really had no idea just how developed the infantry tactics became by 1918. The improvements in low level infantry operations where incredibly rapid and by the time of the great allied offensive, these tactics can appear very modern indeed.

I bought the 'Amiens 1918' campaign book from Osprey and read much further.  I decided that this was likely to be the period I would aim to paint for, so it didn't have to be all mud on the bases.  I could also use the figures for the German Kaiserschlacht offensive and again play a war of movement (albeit in the opposite direction!).

I don't tend to play skirmish games but I do like the Chain of Command rules from Too Fat Lardies.  I had initially bought their 'Through the Mud and the Blood' rules but struggled with the card concept.  I discovered that the Lardies had written a modification for Chain of Command in one of their published 'Specials'.

So it became army painting time.  I got so far with it then stopped as other interests came my way. This always happens and I have learned to just go with the enthusiasm in which ever way it takes me.  I always tend to come back to a project....and so I have.  I have now finally finished a British Platoon.

The platoon consists of four parts.  The Rifle Section, The Bomber Section, The Rifle-Bomber Section and the Lewis Gun section ('Through the Mud and the Blood' was immensely helpful in explaining this clearly).  I have also painted a company commander (Major), and Adjutant (Captain), the Platoon Commander (Lieutenant) and Platoon Sergeant.  These four figures all play an important part in the Chain of Command rules.

As readers of my (infrequent) blog might recall, I do like rules which feature Command and Control as a major part of the key components of the game.

I also painted up a Vickers Machine Gun team as a support element.  My plan is to continue and paint up a Tank or three - maybe a 'Whippet' as well as the classic MkIV male and females and an 18pdr.  I'm not sure about a Stokes mortar as that appears to have been a trench weapon rather than used to support attacks in the open.  That would be a job for rifle-bombers, though some references of the Stokes mortar being used in such a way would be very welcome.

I was surprised at how much work has to be done to paint a unit in khaki well.  I always appear to fall in to the trap of thinking that it will be a quick task, but the shading necessary to make things work and fit in with the many examples of clothing and equipment which we see (or own) means that one really works hard to obtain the right look.  In addition I think that there might have been a subconscious element at play in trying to make a good effort to represent the uniforms that my relatives would have worn back in those days (Ox & Bucks Light Infantry and Machine Gun Corps being the two units that I know they served in for certain).

The research element also took a long time.  I wanted to paint up the unit as a British unit at Amiens, who were preferably a conventional county line infantry Battalion.  I had to read up on the multitude of divisional and brigade symbols and how, where and when they were worn.

I decided to paint the unit as being a platoon from 5 Royal Berkshires.  This then has a relatively local connection and were part of the 36th Brigade, 12th Division, British 4th Army.

I also liked the simplicity of the Divisional badge of the Ace of Spades. These were painted on to the rear of the helmets and also stitched on to the back of tunics beneath the collar.  More than once I wished I was using decals for these, instead of hand-painting them on!  It was harder than I thought!

The figures were a joy to paint (despite the aforementioned tricky bits), and they all exude bags of character. 

I used a mixture of different paints and started with a black undercoat.  Thankfully I have a folder where I keep one piece of paper for each unit type that I paint.  Listed by numbers are the steps I take and the paints used.  So when I did go back to them I could continue to paint the men and they all maintained a similar uniformed appearance.

I mostly used Vallejo and Foundry paints though I did use Flames of War's 'British Battledress' for the main uniform khaki.  I have something like 36 steps to painting a unit like this.  On the rear of the base is a simple colour indicator to show which section the men are in.

This is rather photo-heavy and I would probably have been better off publishing pics by section. When I paint the Germans that is probably what I will do!  I'll just let you scroll through the last pics until the bottom.

Next photos will be the Rifle-Bombers, Lewis teams and Vickers Machine gun.  It has been really nice to get a whole platoon finished. It has been one of those years where projects have been started and not quite completed. 

I have also been very slow taking photos of units and then taking up table space with new projects before I have taken snaps.  I have painted a lot more in 2019 including; Late Romans in 28mm, Zulus and Natal Native Contingent, 10mm Romans, 15mm American Civil War Generals, 28mm English Civil War dragoons, 28mm Ancient Greeks and Jacobite Wars British Infantry in 10mm.  I will endeavour to get photos of these all up in due course! 

Best wishes for 2020!

Sunday 17 November 2019

World War One Air Combat - Wings of Glory

Well, that was a longer break from blogging than expected!  Lots going on.  Hobby wise the painting has continued with several projects starting but less being completed than I would like.  The games have been good and I have played one game per month on average, mostly of old favourite rule sets, such as 'To the Strongest'.

However, this weekend a new game was tried. At long last 'Wings of Glory' was played! For many years I have considered it and watched games being played at wargaming shows and everyone always seemed to be having a great time. 

At Colours 2019 at Newbury I made the jump and bought the boxed set and a couple of planes (which quickly became four planes!).

...and I have to say how delighted I am with it.  What a superb game!  It's greatest attribute is probably in really getting a key part of aerial warfare to be it's key focus... Manoeuvering!  Getting into that position to take the shot...and having to try to predict what your opponent is trying to do.

It does this wonderfully.  Another thing I really like how the manoeuver card deck is specific for each type of plane.  So your rotary engined Sopwith Camel is really going to turn well to the right but less so to the left.  Every plane has it's own set of unique cards.

The damage cards are really good.  It is really good that many cases of damage are not going to be known immediately to your opponent until it becomes obvious that you can't turn to the left etc due to rudder damage. What a great touch! 

Trying to think three moves ahead is brilliant. It is hard initially but after a couple of games I could start putting some worthwhile tactics together.

The control console with cards kept in logical order and a nice simple layout for each plane made running the game so easy.  This really was just how an aerial warfare game ought to be.

Oh and then there's the planes. Quite lovely!  Yes they could be improved a little bit more if I really wanted to spend brush time with them, but I'm not really inclined to.  They certainly look good enough to play with and looked great on the Deep Cut Studios mat.

The models are far better than those bendy winged things that another company made for their own aerial warfare game (mentioned a previous post).

The games I had with Ian on Saturday evening were just brilliant.  It was highly entertaining and everything you want in a game.  Time just flew past. It was the first time either of us had played so we started off with the Basic rules first and then moved onto Standard rules for the very next game.  Next time will be Advanced where altitude comes into play.  I am already really looking forward to this and have been online looking at 2-seater fighter bombers and recce planes to create more scenarios with.

If you have never played these rules before then I can highly recommend them.  I am probably one of the few wargamers never to have tried them before, however, as they are popular on the show circuits.  The rules have clearly been intensely play-tested prior to being released, just as they should be.

So the big question remains...what planes to buy next?!

Thursday 4 July 2019

Franco-Prussian War 28mm - French Generals

Some projects are easy, and others evolve and take on greater complexity.  This particular project started off as the former and ended as the latter as small details became more apparent during test basing.  Until in the end I finished up with this!

This is the Foundry 28mm French command pack for the Franco-Prussian War.  I have always loved this set. It was the Perry's at their most imaginative.  You can see that they loved their subject as they sculpted these figures.  The animation is first class and the body language just talks.

Having painted several brigade command stands (see earlier posts), it was time for the big one.  My plan was to base these on a large circular stand (or maybe rectangular) with the usual fare of scatter grass and be done with it. I painted more details I became more aware of small details.

a.  There is nothing holding the map down.  Anyone who has tried to lay a map down on a table knows how difficult this is!   You need weights on it..unless you are indoors.

b.  In addition The table and bench is quite large, more like household or barn furniture rather than something to be dragged outside off of a wagon.

c.  Finally the Carabinier of the Guard is putting his coat on. One really only tends to put a coat on if going outside.

So there were three reasons why I could not go with my original idea of the round grassy base.  I had to have the generals indoors.

Then I was left with the despatch being handed to the Guide of the Guards by his officer.  Well they couldn't be indoors really - who would ride a horse into the General's quarters(?!) Nope - it had to be more imaginative.  Several different ideas were tried and dry runs and drawings until I finally found a diorama style which seemed to tick all the boxes for me.

The door is made from thin slices of wood, whittled with my penknife.  Wire, plastic tubing (for door handle), card and plasticard formed the door furniture with tiny cuts of wire forming the large metal nails.

The walls were made of packing foam coated in Polyfilla household plaster.  The door furniture on them was from cut plasticard and paper card.

The floor planking was also made by applying a coating of Polyfilla and inserting the figures into pre-planned positions.  I then used a sculpting tool to cut in the planking.  I wanted the overall effect to be of a French provincial Farmhouse/Barn.  I wanted it to have lots of rustic charm and look servicable but somewhat neglected.  I had lots of fun looking at pictures of old decayed paintwork and wood and trying to replicate the appearance.  Applying washes is always a risky business, but it was a lot of fun and there are all sorts of colours in those walls.

I was tempted to add a partial roof but this would have obscured essential detail.  I think the method used allows the imagination to 'see' the building as it should be.

Just to finish off, here is a wider overview of the whole diorama.  I used to be a keen modeller in my teens but other than some minor fettling of small scenic items, I have not tried anything diorama-like for many years, so I am pleased with the way this turned out.

Next on the painting table... I have no idea!  I have so many plans and wishes, it could literally be anything!