Next Project – Aircraft or Land Ironclads?

Japanese late World War 2 fighters from Heroics and Ros

Or, 1/300 scale vs 2mm size. I finished the Anglo-Saxons during the week and had decided that I would like to do something non-historical. I have a lot of Aeronefs in the lead-pile and felt that working on the long stalled Peshawar project would be a good idea. Much time was spent (OK, the length of time for a nice cup of tea) pondering which of the Aeronef forces to paint. I also looked at the Land Forces. I don’t have any Land Ironclads here but I do have the makings of roughly 6 battalions of infantry plus supporting elements from the six imagi-nations in the set.

Fast forward to last Wednesday and as I walked into the office, I was handed two cards from the Post Office. There were parcels to collect. I then spend the rest of the afternoon, in between teleconferences, pondering which of the items I had ordered in January and February were waiting for me.

American late World War 2 bombers and fighter support from Scotia

Were they:

  • Aircraft and Buildings from Heroics and Ros
  • Aircraft and Buildings from Scotia
  • Book from Pen and Sword
  • A book from the Naval Institute Press
  • Rules (Bag the Hun in particular) from Too Fat Lardies
  • one or two other items I have forgotten

I went to the Post Office on Thursday and picked up the parcels. Aircraft and buildings from both Heroics and Ros, and Scotia. Damn. Now the usual indecision cut in … new toys or ones from the lead pile. Bright, shiny, glittering new toys, or old, dusty figures I have stored for several years?

Now I need decide what to paint next. The 2mm figures are my American ground forces for the Peshawar project but the aircraft are, if nothing else, impressive with the size of the B-29 (there are three of them) and the Shinden, which looks like it is flying backwards!

Decisions, decision, decisions!

 

Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert – Review

Andy Singleton is a professional figure painter. After some encouragement, he has penned Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert. This has been published by Pen & Sword Military. It contains around 200 illustrations over its 157 pages (ISBN: 9781526716316, published on 7 May 2019).

Singleton has broken the book up into two main sections, the first part dealing with the basics, and the second part dealing with specific forces from within the war in North Africa, namely the armies of:

  • Britain and Commonwealth
  • Italy
  • United States of America
  • Afrika Korps

The last two sections in the book deal with Camouflaged Uniforms and Basing.

Each section is split into three levels of complexity, “conscript”, “regular” and “elite”.

Conscript is like the beginning painter level and will get armies onto the table quickly. As the painter develops their skills, or for readers who have painted figures before, the regular and elite levels provide greater degrees of complexity in painting of the figures.

Singleton covers both plastic and metal figures and while all the illustrated figures in the book are either 20mm or 28mm figures, certainly the techniques could be used for figures of 10mm or larger. 6mm and 2/3mm figures require a different approach to painting altogether.

Andy uses much the same techniques in the painting sections with a little variation. The paints her iuses are the popular Army Painter and Vallejo ranges of acrylics and for each figure he is illustrating, he provides a paint bill of materials for both Army Painter and Vallejo paints.

I will admit that my preferred size for World War 2 gaming is 6mm (1/300, 1/285) and as mentioned above, painting figures of that size requires a different approach to painting.

However, recently the publications of Too Fat Lardies for Chain of Command and What a Tanker have me considering some 20mm or 28mm forces. North Africa seems a reasonable location to try those rules, especially with the early war equipment from the Italians and Commonwealth Forces, then the Commonwealth and Germany followed by the introduction of the USA and some Free French forces.

The section on Basing is perhaps the simplest section in the book given that the setting for the forces is North Africa where we are dealing with sand, sand and more sand … except for the dust!

I do think that the softback of this book is a shade expensive for, although if puchased in the context of a club library, would be a good edition. The Kindle or ePub version is better value I think.

The painting advice is good and following Singleton’s suggestions will have the gamer producing either quick armies at Conscript level or very well painted forces at Elite level.

Singleton also has a Painting Guide out for Early Imperial Romans (released in November 2019). Keep an eye out for Andy Singleton’s next book as well – Painting Wargame Figures: Rome’s Northern Enemies due for release in June 2020. Both these books will fit nicely for those of us considering the Too Fat Lardies new rules, Infamy, Infamy!

 

Images of War — Hungarian Armoured Fighting Vehicles in the Second World War

I’ve been in an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) period for seven weeks now, hopefully this time next week some of the restrictions will be lifted here in Makati City. The ECQ only permits us to go outside, one person only per household, for food and drugs and if in a particular industry. A lifting of that ECQ would permit being outsie for other purposes, although, of course, maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask.

On the plus side, this has given me more time in the evenings to catch up on some of my growing pile of reading. There will be a spate of book reviews coming in the near future.

First cab off the rank is an Images of War series on the Hungarian Army. The Hungarian Army was allied to Germany during the Second World War, at least up until the end. The relationship was not without conflict. The Hungarians were, however, possibly the best of the Axis Allies.

Eduardo Manuel Gil Martínez has written about Hungarian Armoured Fighting Vehicles in the Second World War. This is one of the Images of War series from Pen and Sword Military (ISBN: 9781526753816, Published: 2 October 2019). The book runs to 112 pages with 150 rare photographs from wartime archives

The book covers not just the images, but also provides a good potted history of the Hungarian Involvement. The book is organised into:

  • Introduction
  • The Birth of the Hungarian Armoured Forces
  • The Second World War Begins
  • Action in the Ukraine, 1942
  • Reorganization After the Storm, 1943
  • Defending Hungary, 1944
  • The Swansong of the Hungarian Armoured Forces, 1945
  • Conclusions
  • Bibliography

The author covers the development of the Hungarian armour from the Hungarian 3000B, which was modelled on the Renault FT-17 through the Ansaldo tanks purchased from Italy, then covering the Csaba”tank” (I would have thought a description of Armoured Car more appropriate built as it was on a 4×4 chassis), 38M Toldi, Turan I and II and so on. Also included are photographs of the motorised transport used by the Hungarians.

I did learn about the Hungarian annexation of Transylvania from the Romanians in March 1939, a full six months before the invasion of Poland and the official start of the Second World War. The Reich had tried to stop the Hungarians from this action. The author later covers the Hungarian defence of its territory from the Soviets and Romanians towards the end of the war.

The book does suffer a little from occasional dodgy editing although I suspect that issue may have been from the original manuscript not being written in English but later translated.

Overall, this is a great overview with many brilliant photographs of the World War 2 Hungarian Army and it is inspiring me to drag my unpainted Turan, Csaba and Toldi tanks out of the lead pile and on to the painting table.

Best, it is currently on sale at Pen and Sword Books.

In Action with Destroyers 1939–1945 — The Wartime Memoirs of Commander J A J Dennis DSC RN — Review

In Action with Destroyers 1939–1945 — The Wartime Memoirs of Commander J A J Dennis DSC RN by Alec Dennis, Edited by Anthony J Cumming was published by Pen & Sword Maritime on 2 November 2017 (ISBN: 9781526718495).

This book contains the wartime memoirs of Alec Dennis, who served on four destroyers during the Second World War, two of them as the commanding officers.

The destroyers were the workhorses of most navies during the Second World War and Commander Dennis saw action in the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Indian Oceans. The two vessels he commanded were HMS Valorous (the fifth HMS Valorous, ex-HMS Montrose, a V-class flotilla leader of the British Royal Navy that saw service in World War I, the Russian Civil War, and World War II) and HMS Tetcott (a Type II British Hunt-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy during World War II. She was the only Royal Navy ship to be named after the Tetcott fox hunt).

HMS Tetcott on Russian Convoy Duty

Commander Dennis was mentioned in Despatches three times (Norway, sinking the Scharnhorst and in the North Sea) and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (Greece 1942).

The experiences of Commander Dennis provide a great read, reading like a Boy’s Own tale. The text is very easy to read and the book is difficult to put down. The editor, Anthony Cumming, has taken pains to preserve most of Dennis’s recollections although he does admit that Dennis removed some recollections that, fairly or unfairly, were not very complimentary to senior officers.

The book was unfortunately released after Dennis’s death. It is split into the following sections, following Acknowledgements, a Foreword, Maps and Editor’s Introduction:

  1. The End of Peace and the Phoney War
  2. The Finest Hour
  3. Crisis in the Mediterranean
  4. The Far East ann Back
  5. The Tide Turns
  6. The Final Victory

This is followed by the Editor’s Historical Notes, End Notes, Bibliography and an Index. There are around 20 illustrations in the centre of the book as well.

It has been a fairly stressful few weeks for me here but a few pages of this book in the evening transports me to those momentous days of the Second World War and a feeling of what life was like on the workhorses of the fleet – the destroyers. A brilliant read!

 

Battle of Manila, Miguel Miranda – Review

I’ve been living in Manila now for over five years. In that time I have visited Corregidor Island (thank you for the tickets Craig), looked out over Manila Bay (and the scene of Dewey’s victory over the Spanish fleet), seen the American Cemetery in Fort Bonifacio (Bonifacio Global City – BGC), Taguig, but never managed to get around to some of the areas where there was fighting during the Battle of Manila in 1945.

The Japanese attacked the American (and Filipino forces) in the Philippines in 1942. To save casualties to the civilian population and damage to Manila, the Americans declared Manila an open city and the Japanese were able to take control of Manila with little or no bloodshed. Unfortunately, the reverse was not the case in 1945 and the Japanese defended Manila which required the liverating forces to literally move house by house through the city to clear the Japanese. This also meant a lot of artillery support with the resultant damage to buildings. The occupation and the fighting to retake Manila unfortunately resulted in a large number of Filipino casualties. Estimates suggest at least 100,000 civilians were casualties at the time.

Miguel Miranda, a Filipino was a reported and is the author of this ‘History of Terror’ volume. Pen and Sword notes of the author:

Writing about the battle of Manila has been an opportunity for him to confront a very dark period in Philippine history, one that is still misunderstood today. To amass the wealth of research and insight for his latest work he pored over volumes of official histories and archives, assembling a detailed narrative on the topic.

The battle of Manila lead into the total independence of the Philippines in 1946 as well as removing what turned out to be a cruel foreign domination, not that the previous period of Philippines history, the American colonial period (1899–1945) was free of cruelty, quite the opposite. The battle of Manila really was the start of the final movement to independence, ending a long period of conflict and struggle for the Filipinos.

the Battle of Manila — Nadir of Japanese Barbarism, 3 February – 3 March 1945 is one of the volumes in the History of Terror series. Written by Filipino Miguel Miranda and published by Pen & Sword Military on 16 April 2019 (ISBN: 9781526729057), there are about 60 illustrations in this 128 page book.

Miranda’s prose is easy to read, although much of what he describes is disturbing. The book is divided into the following chapters, following from a usefu timeline and Introduction:

  1. MacArthur’s Bitter Defeat
  2. Leyte to Lingayen
  3. Desperadoes
  4. The Angels
  5. Encirclement
  6. The Genko Line
  7. Bloody Hell
  8. Intramuros
  9. A Country in Ruin

The book is then closed with an Epilogue: Facing a Strategic Conundrum; then a list of sources and finally an Index. The Epilogue is a reasonable assessment of the position in the South China Sea currently with the PLAN exercising its muscle as it attempts to dominate the area while the US Naval forces, along with Japan, Australia and the other smaller navies of the region attempting to ensure that the area remains open, international waters, rather than a Chinese lake.

Te timeline commences in 1896 when Filipino revolutionaries in Cavite and Manila launch an uprising to overthrow Spain’s colonial government. This revolution carried over into the period where the US became the colonial overlord and the Introduction discusses that period in more detail.

I must admit that while the book is very well written, and easy to read, it is also a very disturbing work, but one that should be read.

Currently Reading — December 6, 2019 — Battle of Manila

Current reading is from the series, History of Terror. This covers the period of the Allies liberation of the Philippines, and Manila in Particular.

When the Japanese invaded, the then colonial masters, the Americans, had declared Manila an open city to prevent damage and human casualties.

When the Americans along with support from local guerrillas moved on Manila to liberate it, the Japanese commander, Yamashita, ordered Manila to be fiercely defended. What followed was a liberation, almost building by building. However it was the Japanese treatment of the local population that was most horrific with estimates of 100,000 civilians being slaughtered. There is no true count however and other estimates are higher.

Review to follow when I finish reading this book. It is available from Pen & Sword however if your curiosity is already peaked.

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.