Past the Block

Or at least I will be if manage to paint some more tomorrow night. All it needed was a good Fokker – a Fokker D.XIII D.XXI.

I decided that I would work on the Winter War 1/285 scale aircraft that I have in a set – Finnish fighter, Soviet bombers and fighters. These game from Raiden Miniatures. Tonight I managed to paint a top surfaces white (Army Painter flat white), the under surfaces light Grey (Tamiya British Light Aircraft Grey) and then start on the Olive Green disruptive pattern. Photos below.

I stopped at the point I did for two reasons. One os that I was not going to paint past midnight and the second was that Tamiya does not play well with Army Painter paints and the top colour was starting to strip the white. Hopefully tomorrow there will have been a more thorough drying and thr Tamiya will not strip the Army Painter..

Lastly, I started on the Fokker D.XIII D.XXI simply because I could not find the Brewster Buffaloes. They will be next on the list.

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Little Wars TV – The Battle of Kharkov (Donets Campaign)

I am enjoying the wargames put one from time to time by the Little Wars guys. Little Wars has become my favourite wargaming channel. I enjoyed the Fourth Kawanakajima Wargame in early November. This week it is the Battle of Kharkov.

The Third Battle of Kharkov was a series of battles on the Eastern Front of World War II, undertaken by the German Army Group South against the Red Army, around the city of Kharkov between 19 February and 15 March 1943. Known to the German side as the Donets Campaign, and in the Soviet Union as the Donbas and Kharkov operations, the German counterstrike led to the recapture of the cities of Kharkov and Belgorod.

The commander of the German forces for this campaign was Erich von Manstein, with Paul Hausser, Hermann Hoth, E. von Mackensen and Theodor Eicke. The Soviets were led by Filipp Golikov, Nikolay Vatutin, K. Rokossovsky and Vasily Koptsov. Manstein’s. Wikipedia has a reasonable description of the Battle of Kharkov.

The battle was technically a German victory – against hugely overwhelming odds if Manstein’s report is to be believed however with the German losses in materiel and men, I think overall this can be considered a strategic victory for the Soviets, especially as by this stage of the war the Soviet tactics of attrition were really starting to pay off.

The Little Wars guys were refighting the battle using 1/285 scale vehicles and aircraft and 6mm figures. The wargame rules they used were A Fistful of TOWs. I had always thought of a Fistful of TOWs as modern wargame rules but I see that version 3 has extended the period covered from 1915 to 2015. As they are available in PDF form as well as hardcopy, I am thinking of downloading a copy for reading on my upcoming travels to Oz.

Enough of my rabbiting on … enjoy watching the wargame!

YouTube – Navwar Parcel Arrives

I received a parcel from Navwar with some ships present. Two fleet packs were included (World War 1 Russia and Modern Soviet) as well as a number of individual Dutch World War 2 vessels. Here we have a look at them as well as  a brief look at the painting table.

Video is here:

Comments are welcome and I have started to get a little better.

Images of War – Hitler’s Tank Destroyers – Review

Written by Paul Thomas and published by Pen & Sword Military as part of the Images of War Books Series,  ISBN: 9781473896178 and published on 15 November 2017, this book contains 132 pages with a number of rare photographs from wartime archives, as well as photos of AFVs still existing.

The book is split into an Introduction, then three chapters covering the panzerjäger development and deployment of panzerjägers followed by a chapter on the destruction of the panzerjäger in 1945. Finally there is an Appendix which lists the various panzerjäger vehicles over the period of the war.

Vehicles included are:

  • Panzerjäger I
  • Marder I, II, and III
  • Hornisse/Nashorn
  • Sturmgeschütz IV
  • Elefant
  • Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer
  • Jagdpanther
  • Jagdpanther IV
  • Jagdtiger
  • Sturmgeschütz III (technically an assault gun but also used in the Panzerjäger role
  • And the following self-propelled artillery:
    • Sturmpanzer I Bison
    • Sturmpanzer II Bison
    • Grill
    • Hummel

The book follows the usual format of the Images of War series with more contemporary photos than text. Many of the photos are rare photos from wartime archives. There are some great photos of vehicles in this book, including knocked-out vehicles.

Like previous works in this series, this book is one for the bookshelf of anyone interested in the development and deployment of AFVs though the Second World War.

Images of War – Hitler’s Tank Destroyers

The Naval War in the Baltic – 1939-1945 – Review

I read Freeing the Baltic 1918-1920 about six months ago and as a result I was looking forward to The Naval War in the Baltic 1939-1945. Wow! I wasn’t disappointed.  This book arrived a couple of months ago and I finally had a week where I read rather than painted figures or headed to the pub and this was on the top of the reading pile.

The Naval War in the Baltic 1939-1945 was originally published on 17 May 2017 however it appears to have been sold out and is now due to re-release on 28 February 2018. The author is Poul Grooss. The book is 400 pages long with ISBN 9781526700001.

Poul Grooss is a retired Danish Naval Captain whose career was 40 years long. He served as an intelligence officer and Soviet analyst. He also speaks Russian. He currently is a teacher at the Royal Danish Naval Academy.

I reckoned I knew a bit about World War II and I also knew there was a lot I didn’t know. Reading Grooss’s book has reminded me of how little I do actually know. Grooss starts setting the scene in the book by describing the geography and the history of the Baltic region, then goes on to discuss the political manoeuvring and naval developments between the wars. His coverage of the 1939 to 1945 period starts with the attack on Poland then looks at the Baltic region through to 1941. Later chapters cover the attack on the Soviet Union to Spring 1942; the war between Spring 1942 and 1944; Spring 1944 to New Year 1944/1945; then from that New Year, month by month to the end of the war. He then looks at the aftermath of the war and a retrospective.

The book is easy to read and Grooss has taken advantage of his Russian language skills to collect data from sources not usually referred to western histories. Grooss was writing for the general reader but has managed to write a book that will appeal to both general readers and the more professional historian.

He covers and uncovers the degree of Swedish cooperation with the Germans. He covers the interactions between the Soviets and the Swedes and while this is a naval history of the Baltic, the land battles are included for context, especially Kronstadt and Leningrad. Hitler’s desire to hang on to Narva is also covered.

The Baltic was a training ground for German U-boat crews but what really amazed me was the quantity of mines that were laid there and the amount of shipping that suffered. I should also mention that the Swedes were not as pro-German as we perhaps think, permitting the British to build a listening station on Swedish soil, for example. Both the Germans and the British seemed to have a laissez faire attitude to Swedish neutrality.

This book is not all about Sweden though. Grooss also covers the minor states (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) as well as Denmark, Norway, Finland, Poland and of course the main protagonists. The book is supported by many fine photographs, most of which have not been seen in print before as well as well drawn maps. There are a number of appendices and indexes with an index of people and another of ships. There is an appendix containing a chronology of the conflict, a glossary of abbreviations, ranks, terminology and explanations. Another appendix is a cross-reference of place names in various languages as well as an extensive list of sources and bibliography. This book is one I will return to many times in the future I think. For the naval historian, the wargamer and the general reader, it is well worth waiting for this re-release and grabbing a copy.

Some More Kits

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The M4A3E8 Sherman of Korean War vintage

I was out and about the other day. I had to go over the MegaMall in Ortigas City, Metro Manila. Apart from a very useful art supply store on the 4th floor of Mega B that has a complete range of Vallejo Paints amongst others as well as some quite good sable brushes, there is a Lil’s HobbyShop in the basement. This particular branch of Lil’s has a good range of 1/72 scale tanks as well as the more popular larger scales. As I had a Pershing, one of the American Tanks that saw some action in Korea, I thought a Korean War Sherman would be a good addition to the collection.

The Sherman is an older Trumpeter kit and has the stretchable plastic tracks that I hate. The cost of the kit was 330 pesos (about $10 Aussie or US $7.20). I’ll get around to an unboxing soon.

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The soviet JS-3 (Josef Stalin 3) heavy tank

Once I had found the Sherman I then thought that a Soviet JS-3 was in order, in part to keep the theme for heavy tanks of the World War 2/Korean War era. Trumpeter also make a JS-3 and this kit was newer than the Sherman as the tracks are moulded in the same plastic as the model, much easier to deal with.

Given the clean lines of this tank there is not a great deal of detail that can be moulded on but the model looked clean. As with the Sherman, I will unbox it later. The cost of this was also 330 pesos (about $10 Aussie or US $7.20).

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T-80UD MBT

Model Collect is a new Chinese company producing models. The range was small at Lil’s with about 10 kits in stock. The company tends to concentrate on Soviet/Russian equipment currently with some World War 2 German items.

These kits are magnificent however. The barrel is metal and there are also photo-etched parts to this beastie. The tracks look easy to deal with as well. Again, I will do a full unboxing in the not too distant future.

This kit though contains way more parts than the Trumpeter kits and the detail on these models is superb – in part I guess from the photo-etched pieces.

They are more expensive than Trumpeter as well with this model retailing for 1,598 pesos (about $45 Aussie or $33 US). The price direct from Model Collect for this is about $25 so considerably more than Trumpeter but for a kit that is a quantum leap forward in detail and inclusions.

I am looking forward to building these in the near future.

WIP – More WW2 Japanese Being Prepped

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Two battalions ready for sand on the bases. Rear one is GHQ Models, front battalion is Ros and Heroics

I had prepared one Japanese World War 2 infantry battalion along with three AA elements. I decided to prepare the next, as well as starting to set up the third for painting along with the rest of the heavy weapons, the artillery and  such.

The first battalion was made up of GHQ models. The second is from Ros and Heroics. There is a nice flag bearer in the Ros and Heroics pack so that does for the command base. I also glued to a base three Medium Machine Gun (MMG) units. As the base is large compared to the figures I based some transport with the MMG.

Next prep will be the third infantry battalion and a large chunk of heavy weapons. I want to be able to start adding sand to the bases next Thursday whilst the APEC holiday is on here.

The Ro and Heroics Command Group
The Ro and Heroics Command Group

 

Next – Some Japanese

The desk, ready with the infantry, heavy weapons and trucks!
The desk, ready with the infantry, heavy weapons and trucks!

I decided that I would start to finish my World War 2 Jaanese. This way I’ll have a local opponent for my early World War 2 Russians. As the armour is mostly done, and the aircraft half painted, it is time to put together the infantry and artillery. Where the Russians are based around 9 bases to the company/battalion, whatever the level is I am playing at, the Japanese will have 12 bases.

Added to that then the heavy weapons support, artillery from the 75mm Field Gun as well as the 70mm and 105mm howitzers, some 20mm anti-aircraft guns and trucks, loads of trucks, 43 of them, then this force will be ready. I also have some fun stuff to add to the army but more on that later.

First off it will be the infantry heavy weapons and artillery. I’ll worry about the trucks and the pack animals later.

Oh, one largely anachronistic item for this army is the beautiful Mistsubishi G4M3 “Betty”. It did not fly over Manchuria/Mongolia but it is a great little aircraft never-the-less.

Early World War 2 Soviets Finished

My early World War 2 Soviet Battlegroup
My early World War 2 Soviet Battlegroup

Phase 1 is complete!

The early world war 2 Soviet force is shown below. I will be using this against Japanese and Hungarians, both of which I still need to paint. The battles against the Japanese will be a little bit anachronistic as I do not have the very early armour used by the Russians at Khalkin-gol (Nomonhan).

Still, look out Doug, there are more to come – including late war heavies to see your Tiger 2s off 😉

In the meantime, feel free to have a look around this force in the gallery below. I will admit that I still need to add decals to the tanks. I am waiting until the mood takes me again to do that much fiddly cutting and decaling!