Images of War – M12 Gun Motor Carriage – Book Review

A few days ago I finished reading Images of War – M7 Priest – Book Review so naturally the next to move onto was the big gun, the 155mm gun propelled in the M12 Gun Motor Carriage. Like the volume on the M7 Priest, this was written by David Doyle and contains 142 pages of photographs and text of the M12, T6 Prototype and the T14 (the ISBN is 9781526743527 and it was published on 12 December 2018 by Pen and Sword Military)

The M12 development started in 1941, despite having met early opposition. The development work was based on using the M3 Medium Tank chassis and the prototype, T6, was mounting a French made M1917 155mm gun. To accommodate the large gun, it needed to be rear mounted which meant the engine had to be moved forward, to a position just behind the driving compartment.

The vehicle also required a hydraulically-operated spade at the rear to stabilise the firing position due to the gun’s recoil.

When production commenced, three different war surplus weapons were mounted depending on availability:

  • the French built M1917
  • the US built M1918
  • the M18917A1 which had a French gun tube and a US breech

As with his coverage of the M7, David Doyle has written and provided a great coverage of this vehicle with the book covering the following:

  • The T6 Prototype
  • The M12
  • The T14
  • The M12 in Combat
  • The M12 Preserved

This last chapter is quite interesting as well as if contains many close up photographs, in colour, of the restored M12 that is preserved and displayed at the US Army Field Artillery Museum, Fort Sil, Oklahoma. It has been repainted to replicate a wartime vehicle, “Adolf’s Assassin”, an M12 that was assigned to Alpha Battery, 991st Field Artillery Battalion in North-Western Europe toward the end of the Second World War.

While only 74 of these vehicles were sent to Europe (along with the M30 ammunition carrier – also illustrated), they were very successful in their combat role and really paved the way for the future of 155mm SPGs present in almost all armies during the Cold War.

As with all books in the Images of War series, there are many photographs of the vehicles highlighted. In the case of those volumes looking at one particular type of vehicle, the photographs provide so much detail useful for modellers in particular. In this case there are 61 pages of close up colour photographs making this volume a must for any serious modellers of World War 2 tracked artillery.

The images are not just of the vehicles in static positions but rather include “action shots” taken during the Second World War in particular.

Well recommended, especially for the modeller of fighting vehicles, not only for the images of the M12 but also for many photos that could provide inspiration for diorama building.

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Little Wars TV – D-Day Wargame – Rommel Rules

I do love the Little Wars TV YouTube channel, the guys are like so many of my mates from various wargame clubs over the years and in different countries, where winning is not as important as the game and fun was the target of the game. Little Wars TV recently decided to re-fight the first couple of days of D-Day, given that it is the 75th anniversary this year. The re-fight was controlled using modified Rommel rules (thanks guys, I am now considering getting yet another set of rules). For previous World War 2 games they have used Fistful of TOWs.

Part 1 of the two part video covers the objectives for each side, the landings and the drive inland from the beaches.

The second part covers D+1 – where the Allies will attempt to consolidate and meet their objectives and the Germans will attempt to both prevent the Allies reaching objectives but also achieve some objectives of their own.

Well worth watching these and as I mentioned, this has reawakened my interest in trying out Rommel as a set of World War 2 wargaming rules. I would also strongly recommend a visit to the Little Wars TV website to both see what’s new and interesting, grab some free stuff and check out their other videos. Thanks guys, love your work!

Images of War – M7 Priest – Book Review

Recently I looked at the Images of War volume covering the Armour of Rommel’s Afrika Korps by Ian Baxter. in the same parcel of books from Pen and Sword Military in the Images of War series, I received a volume on the M7 Priest. This was written by David Doyle and contains 143 mostly of photographs of the M7 (the ISBN is 9781526738851 and it was published on 4 February 2019)

The M7 was the American 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage produced during World War II. This self-propelled artillery was produced in great numbers with over 4,000 of all marks produced. It was used by 16 different countries and was in service during World War II, the Korean War, the 6-day War and Yom Kippur. While most were produced over the period 1942 to 1945, they continued in service in various countries into the late 1960s.

The M7 was named “Priest” as in part it was a replacement for the British 25-pdr self-propelled gun known as the “Bishop”.

David Doyle has written and provided a great coverage of this vehicle with the book covering the following:

  • Baldwin Locomotive Works T32
  • American Locomotive Works M7
  • Federal Machine and Welder M7
  • Pressed Steel Car Company M7B1
  • Howitzer Motor Carriage M7B2
  • Field Use
  • Appendices covering:
    • Priest Contracts and Deliveries
    • General Data
    • M2A1 Howitzer Specifications
    • The Armoured Field Artillery Battalion

As with all books in the Images of War series, there are many photographs of the vehicles highlighted. In the case of those volumes looking at one particular type of vehicle, the photographs provide so much detail useful for modellers in particular.

The images are not just of the vehicles in static positions but rather include “action shots” taken during the Second World War in particular. Due to the M7 lasting in service into the 1960s there are also some terrific colour photographs of theM7 in field use.

Well recommended, especially for the modeller of fighting vehicles, not only for the images of the M7 but also for many photos that cold provide inspiration for diorama building.

 

 

 

Life in the Philippines – 15 Days to Christmas!

Well, it is in the Philippines. Today is 16 August and as such, 15 days away from the start of the Festive Season here. In the Philippines the festive season is known as the ‘ber months (September, October, November, December). This will be when the Christmas decorations go up in the stores and malls, and the playing of Christmas Carols commences in those malls – for the next four months!

It is normally around mid-October that the repeated Christmas Carols feel more like a Chinese Water Torture but then I relex and reaise that there are only 10 more weeks of Carol Singing to go!

Merry Christmas!

Images of War – the Armour of Rommel’s Afrika Korps – Book Review

Another volume in the Images of War series landed on my desk a few months back. This one covers the Armour of Rommel’s Afrika Korps by Ian Baxter. It is published by Pen & Sword Military in the Images of War series with 128 pages of rare photographs from Wartime Archives (ISBN: 9781526722393, published on 8 January 2019).

The Deutsche Afrikakorps (DAK, known simply as the Afrika Korps) was a Corp that was welded into an effective fighting machine by its general, Erwin Rommel. German troops were sent to North Africa to support, or rather prop-up, the Italian forces present in North Africa, the forces which had been bloodied to the turn of nearly 400 tanks destroyed and 130,000 troops casualties or captured by the British and Commonwealth Forces under General Richard O’Connor.

The Second World War in North Africa was a war of movement, of forces pushing forward and stretching their supply lines to the limits only to be followed by a strong counter-attack and retreat where the counter attackers move forward and stretch their supply lines. The oscillations repeated.

Rommel melded the Italian forces with the German reinforcements into an effective fighting Corps and then applied the blitzkrieg tactics that had worked so well in France to the deserts and wadis of North Africa. This continued until the eventual arrival of American forces pinned the Germans and Italians between two larger armies.

Baxter’s book covers the full range of German armoured vehicles that saw action in North Africa over the period 1941 to 1943 covering not just the panzers, and there was the full range from the Panzer I through VI, but also the Sturmartillerie equipment along with half-tracks, armoured cars, motorcycles and so on.

The book’s contents are:

  • Introduction
  • Desert Blitzkrieg, 1941
  • Attack and Retreat, 1942
  • Destruction in Tunisia, 1943
  • Appendix I – Order of Battle
  • Appendix II – Panzers Operational in Africa, 1941-1943
  • Appendix III – Heavy and Light Armoured Vehicles in North Africa, 1941-43
  • Appendix IV – Halftracks Operational in North Africa, 1941-43

The illustrations throughout the book commence with photographs of Panzerkampfwagen II (Pz.Kpfw.II) and Pz.Kpfw.III being unloaded from ships on the docks in North Africa. The background of some of these photos is also interesting, sometimes more so than the foreground for the hint of life in the German Army at the time,

The book then goes on to illustrate Pz.Kpfw.I; Pz.Kpfw.II; Pz.Kpfw.III; Pz.Kpfw.IV; Pz.Kpfw.V (Panther); and Pz.Kpfw.VI (Tiger) in service in North Africa, along with photographs of some of the personalities. What is also apparent in many of these photographs is the quantity of extra paraphernalia carried by these vehicles in the desert, strapped to the sides of vehicles. Photographs also shw vehicles that have been knocked out or are being repaired or repainted.

As well as the panzers, there are many photographs of the armoursed card, half-tracks, prime-movers and the like with the Schwerer Panzerspähwagen (Sd.Kfz.231, 232, 233, 234, 234/1, 234/2, 234/3, 263); Leichter Panzerspähwagen (Sd.Kfz.221, 222, 223, 260/261); and the many variants of the halftracks, the ubiquitous Schützenpanzerwagen (Sd.Kfz.251 and 250) being illustrated. Also included are some of the artillery tractors, the Horch, Marders, motorcycles, self-propelled guns and the like.

I will admit finding the way the Order of Battle section was laid out somewhat confusing but this is a small gripe as there are many more authoritative sources of this information available to the researcher, historian, military enthusiast, wargamer or modeller.

This book would certainly be on interest to a wide spectrum of readers interested in the Second World War in North Africa and the Deutsche Afrikakorps in particular. It will certainly remain within easy reach on my bookshelves. Recommended.

Still Waiting for the Postman

Back on 8 August, in the post, Waiting for the Postman, I noted that I’d ordered some wargaming items mail order, including some board games, figures, flight deck decals and so on. I also noted that the delays in delivery are all at this end of the world.

The Navwar Ships

The ships from Navwar were cleared through customs back at the end of July. They were despatched to the delivery office, Makati Central Post Office, on 2 August 2019. It is now 12 days later and they still, apparently, have not been able to travel the 7kms from the Customs Office to the main post office in one of Metro Manila’s CBDs. Remember, these items arrived in Manila on 19 July. Still, I am patient.

The GMT Board Games Parcel

The GMT Board Games have now cleared customs yesterday, and today were, were despatched the 7kms to Makati.

I am confident that they will arrive just I am not sure exactly when.

When they do arrive, the service at Makati Central Post Office is absolutely brilliant – but I am impatient – want toys now 😉

Life in the Philippines – Pasalubong

Whenever I return from a trip to Australia or Singapore, my staff ask me for their Pasalubong. Pasalubong is a Tagalog word that seems to mean, “here is something I have for you for when you welcome me back”. It is a Filipino tradition where travellers bring gifts from their destination to folks back home – for family, friends, office mates and so on. The Pasalubong can be any gift or souvenir brought for family or friends after being away for a period of time.

Pasalubong is normally something local from the region, or country visited. Yes, it does not just apply to those that have been overseas. So, for example, should I visit the province of Bicol, then I would look to bring back pili nuts. Head to Pampanga and chicharron (see left) would be a suitable Pasalubong. Visit Australia, and I could bring back vegemite (which has the double advantage of being the expected Pasalubong and at the same time, after tasting it, curing the locals of asking me for Pasalubong in the future). Vegemite is an acquired taste after all, fit only for real men and women! 😉

Pasalubong is culturally important to Filipinos and is a way for the traveller to share some of the experience of their trip with family and friends – sort of like the souvenirs brought back by western cultures (like the Elgin marbles for example).

The other nice part about Pasalubong is that it is not wrapped, but given as is. A nice custom and one I seem to recall in other parts of Asia as well.

 

Waiting for the Postman

I’m waiting for some ancient galleys

I’ve ordered some wargaming items mail order. This includes some board games, figures, flight deck decals and so on. The connections internationally to the Philippines are good, it all slows down however when it arrives in country.

I ordered some ships from Navwar before I left Australia on my last trip back and asked for them to be sent with tracking. Here is the tracking report. They were posted on 10 July 2019 and arrived in the Philippines on 19 July 2019. Not so bad.

It took 12 days to pass a customs examination and then on 2 August, the parcel was placed en route to the delivery office. This is a distance of about 7.5 kilometers or so, a distance I could walk in about 90 minutes. 6 days have passed and it has not arrived there yet.

Board games from the US

I also had tracking on an order of two board games from the US (see left). These were despatched on 1 August, arriving in the Philippines on 8 August. Not bad. They have now gone for customs examination. I am guessing this will take another three or four weeks to pass that inspection then find its way to Makati – or I will get a notice that tells me I need to go to customs to pay a fee.

It would be difficult to set up an industry here that relied on the Post Office being able to deliver and despatch items quickly. In the meantime, mercifully, I still have many more books to review to keep me busy this long weekend coming.

Another Project – World War 2 French in 6mm

In November 2017 I added a small World War 2 force of Belgians to my Blitzkrieg Commander armies. Looking for some additions to my collections (it’s not like I have nothing left to paint however), I thought that as I had acquired the figures for a Cold War Commander French force, it would be neat to have the same for World War 2. This has also led me into a lot of reading about the French in World War 2. I must admit that I only had the old stereotypes in mind – dodgy commanders, no radios, poor quality weapon systems etc. I am rapidly rethinking those as I read and understand more.

The first thing I did was to try and understand French Infantry and Armour organisation during that period. So far my searches of this across the Internet have not been as fruitful as I had hoped. However, I think I have enough information now to move forward a little.

A French infantry company

My infantry organisation for the French for Blitzkrieg Commander is based around an infantry battalion consisting of three companies of 12 elements to the company. Each element/base (Section above) will have about 5 or 6 figures on it and represent a section. Three sections to a platoon, four platoons to a company, three companies to a battalion.

For armour I am assuming five Renault R35 tanks to a tank platoon or three of any of the other types. I am not certain currently how many platoons work up to the higher organisations so any advice will be greatly appreciated.

So, what did I purchase? To make up a chunky force, I purchased from both Scotia Grendel and Heroics and Ros. I am looking at one company of Infantry (so 36 elements/bases) plus heavy weapons etc. Several platoons of armour, both light and heavy. Two or three batteries of artillery and a few aircraft thrown into the mix for the some variety. So, I purchased the following:

Quantity Item Manufacturer
2 Citroen Kegrese SPAA Scotia
3 Laffly S20TL Command Scotia
2 Peugeot 402 staff car H&R
3 Latil M7T1 Field Car Scotia
1 Infantry (50 figures) Scotia
1 Infantry with Command (50 figures maybe) Scotia
3 Infantry (50 figures each packet) H&R
1 Heavy Weapons Packet Scotia
1 Heavy Weapons approx. 50 figures H&R
12 French gun crew kneeling (5 figures each) H&R
4 Panhard AMD 178 A/C Scotia
2 Laffly V15R Recce Car H&R
4 Char B1 Heavy Tank Scotia
6 Char B1 Heavy Tank H&R
6 Somua S35 H&R
3 Hotchkiss H39 Light Tank H&R
6 Renault AMC 35 Light Tank Scotia
5 Renault Ft 17 H&R
2 Laffly W 15 TCC tank hunter + 47mm (Portee) H&R
3 105mm Schneider 1913 gun H&R
3 75mm field gun H&R
2 French 47mm AT H&R
4 French 25mm AT H&R
2 Twin 13.2mm AAMG Scotia
6 Tracked personnel trailer H&R
6 Lorraine 38L APC Gun Tractor H&R
1 Horse Drawn 75mm Gun (3 teams each of 4 horses , 1 limber, 1 gun) H&R
3 Laffly W15R prime mover H&R
6 Citroen 10cv C4F 4×2 1000kg truck H&R
6 Citroen 45u Heavy Truck (Covered Top) Scotia
6 Renault ADK Truck (Covered Top) Scotia
1 Liore Et Olivier Leo 451 H&R
1 Martin Maryland H&R
1 Breguet 690/1 H&R

In addition to the above, I also purchased a 47mm FRC A/T Gun from Scotia for my Belgians along with the following buildings, also from Scotia:

  • Church
  • Ruined Cottage
  • Barn
  • Small Cottage
  • Ruined Barn
  • Stone bridge
  • Stone farm

The cost for all these models and buildings came to £108.50 (not counting postage) – slightly more than my July wargaming allowance*. Now I am waiting their arrival so that I can add them to the painting queue. The Scotia order is somewhere in customs I believe at NAIA airport. The Heroics and Ros order was only made on 3 August (hmm, maybe within August budget then 🙂 ) so I do not expect that for at least another four to six weeks. The delay is not the at the Heroics and Ros end, their turnaround is usually quite good, but rather parcels working their way through the Philippine Postal Service.

Looking at the list of figures above, perhaps I should have calculated these things ahead of time, I think I need another three artillery pieces and I maybe have enough infantry for one more company of infantry (4 companies instead of three).

Hmm, maybe a slight over achievement.


* I must admit that I also spent my June and May allowance and half my August allowance at the same time and, as a result, have a number of other batches of figures and a couple of board games on the way. Now will be a period of painting to reduce the size of the painting queue a wee bit, as well as catch up on reading some books.

Life in the Philippines – bagyo and Baguio – storms and strawberries

Manila Bay hidden by an incoming rain squall

One of the difficulties for the foreigner in the Philippines is the similarity of some words or sounds in Tagalog. Tagalog is the Austronesian language of the Tagalog people, generally from central Luzon. Its vocabulary has been much influenced by Spanish and English, and it is the basis of a standardized national language of the Philippines (Filipino). The other national language, mercifully, is English. All Republic Acts in the Philippines are written in Tagalog and English.

Two words that to me sound alike are Baguio and bagyo. Baguio is a mountain city of some 350,000 residents that was initially established as a hill station by the United States in 1900 at the site of an Ibaloi village known as Kafagway. It has grown over the past 100 years or so and is known as the summer capital of the Philippines. Famous for its cool air, pine trees, fruit and vegetables and strawberries in particular, it is one of the major towns in the Philippines that does not have air-conditioning installed everywhere.

Bagyo however is a storm. We have just had four or five days of a storm here in Metro Manila, brought about by a combination of the Habagat and a Low Pressure Area (LPA) in the Pacific east of Luzon.

There are two kinds of winds and seasons that occur here every year. The Amihan refers to the northeast monsoon and the Habagat, the south western monsoon.

The habagat blows up from the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) and generally brings with it a lot of moist air. When there is an LPA in the Philippine Sea to the east of the Philippines, the habagat is intensified, as was the case over the past four or five days. FLood warnings were at the yellow level for three of the four days in Manila, Bataan and Zambales, with orange warning signal for Bataan and Zambales over a day. This season is normally over the period June to October (the wet season).

The amihan usually occurs over the period October to March and generally there is a little rainfall associated with it but more characteristically, there is a lowering of the temperature in the Philippines as the wind carries cool air that originates in Siberia and Mongolia which passes across China to blow down to Southeast Asia. This makes Christmas, January and February the best time, temperature and humidity wise, in the Philippines.

I also believe that habagat and amihan are two characters from Philippine mythology. I shall investigate that later.