Sunday, 12 June 2022

Nazgul on Fell Beast

 Hi, all!  For the past few months, Real Life (TM) has taken over, so hobby has been pushed to the back burner.  I recently made an impulse purchase of an actual Games Workshop plastic model, and decided it was time to get my painting mojo back on!

This figure is a Lord of the Rings' Nazgûl on a Fell Beast, flying possibly in search of the One Ring, or maybe ready to mix things up with the forces of the West at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields or in front of the Morannon.  Paint job is very basic: black base coat, then a few progressively lighter shades of grey, and a black ink wash for the fell beast, and similar but darker process for the Ringwraith.

GW made a curious choice to include this sculpted base.  It's quite nice to have a sculpted base, don't get me wrong, much more interesting than a plain one.  However, (NERD ALERT) the selection of the weapons scattered on the base don't fit with the figure!  The rocks are fine, but there is an Elvish sword and shield from the Battle of the Last Alliance at the end of the Second Age of Middle-earth, but the ringwraiths didn't show up on fell beasts until the end of the Third Age!  Obviously, this doesn't bother me too much, or else I would have changed it.

The model is plastic, went together in a jiffy.  There was an option to build it as the Witch King with his fancy helmet and burning sword, but I preferred to build one of the anonymous ringrwaiths instead.  I chose not to glue down the fell beast onto the clear plastic post, so it can be tilted if I wish into a sort of diving configuration.

Hopefully I'll make time here and there to slap some paint onto more figures in the upcoming months!

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Vickers Medium Mk II

 Many moons ago, I purchased a model of a Vickers Medium Mk II from the venerable Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company*, aka the HLBS, intending to use it to support my Back of Beyond armies.  I was never quite content with it in that role, however, as the army was theoretically supposed to represent forces in 1919-1920 or thereabouts, just after the Great War, while the Vickers Medium Mk II didn't appear until about 1924.

*(Note that HLBS have since sold this model on.  I believe it went to Copplestone Castings, but they don't have it anymore either as far as I can tell.  Empress Miniatures has one now, but I don't know whether it's the old HLBS model or a completely new one)

Nonetheless, I painted it up in a basic sand colour, suitable for the dusty plains of Afghanistan or elsewhere in Central Asia, without any particular justification for how one of these vehicles could get there.  Here is how it looked for many years, with a Copplestone Castings officer alongside for scale.

Interestingly, I managed to take some photos of a real Vickers Medium Mk II at the Australian Armour Museum at Puckapunyal in 2006.

As I have been painting up my Pulp Figures Highlanders for a somewhat fantasy-inspired 1940 platoon, it occurred to me that I still have this old veteran in my collection.  While not suitable for a 1920 Back of Beyond adventure, there were still a number of Vickers Medium Mk II tanks in the UK in 1940.  They were well and truly obsolete by that time, but in the event of a successful German Operation Seelowe or Sea Lion, they would no doubt have been pressed into service.  Similarly, if my Highlanders get moblised for a Very British Civil War in 1937, there would be another opportunity to bring the Vickers Medium Mk II into action.  With that in mind, I decided to repaint the old warrior in colours that roughly approximate the bronze green of pre-war British armour.  I almost went glossy, but then toned it down just a touch!

In terms of game performance, it is very slow, with a speed of 15 mph, comparable to Infantry Tanks such as the Churchill.  Armour is quite thin, but the 3-pdr (47mm) gun has a bit of kick, and was comparable to guns mounted on other early war tanks.  It also mounts several machine guns around the vehicle.  The side mounted MG have long since snapped off and I haven't replaced them.  For CoC, I understand that this should work out to Armour 2, and AT5/HE3 and Slow.

So here is the repainted Vickers Medium Mk II with a couple of fat old men for scale.  Markings are pretty much just made up, but slightly inspired by photos I found on line of the Vickers Medium at the Bovington Tank Museum.

The tracks on the original model were a bit crap, so I smeared some brown goop on them to represent mud, hoping to hide how smooth they were!  

Just for fun, here are some comparison shots of the tank with some early war contemporaries, such as the Czechoslovak CKD LT vz 38 (aka Panzerkampfwagen 38(t)) and a Panzer IV.

And here with a Churchill III.  So it's not tiny.  No giant, of course, but compared to some other early war tanks it's a decent size.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

1940 BEF Anti-tank Guns

 My 1940-ish Highlanders have received some artillery support!  According to the Too Fat Lardies' 1940 Blitzkrieg book, the BEF didn't have enough of the Ordnance QF 2-pdr Anti-Tank Gun to fully equip their anti-tank regiments in for the Battle of France, so the French provided them with 300 canons de 25 mm semi-automatique modèle 1934.  Rather than choose between the two, I've decided to get both!  These models are made by Crusader Miniatures.  

To be honest, one of the reasons I got both guns was so that I could get extra crewmen.  Chain of Command typically calls for an artillery piece to be crewed by 5 crewmen plus a junior leader.  However, Crusader Miniatures, like many other companies, only provides 3 (or at most 4) crewmen with a gun!  For this reason, I also picked up a 3" mortar set just for the crew, even though I never expect to put the mortar on the table.  I don't expect to use both anti-tank guns in the same game, which is just as well as I've only got enough men to crew one of them!

First up is the 25mm Hotchkiss.  The Lardies claim that the BEF nicknamed it a '1-pdr', so I'll just take their word on that.  Note that for the crew, I haven't marked their bases as I have done for other WWII models.  I just assume that the two chevrons on the bombardier's sleeve are clear enough to identify him as the JL for the gun team.

Here is the 2-pdr.  The gunner for this weapon is actually seated on the gun, so I can leave out the duplicate waving crewman when I field this piece.

And for good measure, here is the 3" mortar.  

And so another CoC force starts to take shape!

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

2" Mortar Teams

Continuing with my 1940-ish Highland Platoon, here is the last element needed for the base platoon, the 2" mortar team.  Anyone who has played Chain of Command with me knows that I just love using my 2" mortar teams to drop smoke all over the battlefield, so my new force could not be complete without one of these weapons!

These two teams are from Crusader Miniatures, and are intended for the 1940 BEF.  I did a very hasty, sloppy conversion to put two of the mortarmen into kilts.  It doesn't hold up to a close inspection, but at arm's length it can trick the eye.

The kilted team will join my Highlanders, and I'll have the second team on standby in case I decide they are also needed.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Early WWII Highlanders Platoon for 1940 Chain of Command

 I've painted up another 20 Pulp Figures Highlanders to go with the platoon I posted about last month.  I've now got almost a complete BEF 1939 Regulation Platoon (per the TFL Blitzkrieg 1940 handbook); all that's missing is the 2" mortar team.  I expect to have that team finished soon.  The 1939 Platoon has relatively small, 8-man sections.  If I want to reorg to the 1940 Regulation Platoon, I'll need to recruit 9 more infantry to bring each section up to 11 men each.

I've organised the troops into sections following the same pattern I did for my Operation Husky platoons.  Each section has a number of red dashes on the base so that (hopefully) I can keep track of which section is taking casualties through a game!  Platoon HQ members each get a long dash, and each section gets short dashes to match their section number.  I've also tried to put junior leaders on different size or shaped bases so that they stand out a bit from the regular chaps, just in case the big chevrons on their arms aren't obvious enough!

First up is the Platoon Command.  According to the list, I get to choose between a Lieutenant OR a Platoon Sergeant Major, but I have both in case I choose a second SL as a support option.  Also here are the Boys anti-tank rifleman and two crew (who will have to be taken from one of the sections if deployed).  2" mortar team are still to come.

1 Section is led by a corporal, and contains two teams:  a 3-man Bren team and a 4-man rifle team.

2 Section has the same composition as 1 Section.

3 Section has a Lewis gun team rather than a Bren team.  For game purposes I intend to treat it just like a Bren!

The BEF had not yet completely warmed up to the idea of issuing submachine guns to all NCOs, but the lists allow me the option to provide Thompson SMGs to one or more of the junior or senior leaders.  So, I have 4 tommygun-toting NCOs to step in as needed.

Another support option available is the "drinks cabinet", which allows the platoon's senior leader a one-time ability to rally shock by doling out booze to the boys.  Since I have Highlanders, I'm going to substitute a piper who will rally the troops with a stirring tune!

I dug into my collection of WWI figures and found a Vickers gun.  This gives me a pretty significant support option - a Medium Machine Gun with 5 crew!

And finally, I have a few extra bodies.  Two more officers (I am calling them the Colonel and the Adjutant) and an extra Boys Rifle and Lewis Gun.  I suppose I could give the Adj a telephone and say that he is the FOO for the mortar section!

That's it for now, but hopefully there'll be more updates for this project over the coming months.