Saturday, December 12, 2015

More of Doc's WWII AVs

Once you get bitten by the WWII AFV bug, you really get bitten! Or at least I do! After the last post on my WWII Italians and the glorious Perry's Portee model, I just had to finish off the rest of the Italian AVs, then when I did that well, those three Stuart Honey's I had needed doing too... and to finish up I added a crew to the Bofors.

First up, the Italians. These were amongst the models I got for bit-more-than-a-song from a local hobbyist that threw in the historical towel (save for Warlord/Bolt Action related WWII) and got rid of all their Company B stuff. As I said in a previous post, snavelled the lot - some seven AVs for the price of three (and a bit). Included were a number of Italian AVs and kanone (the reason I went there in the first place) including [drum roll] the Semovente 90/53 AA gun (the Italian version of the German's famous 88). This is the version the Italians cleverly mounted on a M13/40 tank chassis, after experimenting with it on the flatbed of a Lancia truck. The latter proved a bit of a cumbersome arrangement & difficult to serve as it stood shoulder height off the ground and all the ammo have to be passed by hand up to the guys on the rather exposed gun platform.  The whole contraption stood nearly 3 meters tall - so quite a profile to aim at!

Most (but not all) of these problems were solved by the Semovente version.  It dropped the profile by nearly a meter (important out in the open desert) and of course was completely mobile, accompanied by a little Semovente crew tank towing the ammo cart. It could stop when-wherever, the crew dismount and fire the gun with very little prep - no parking the truck and deploying monster stabilizer arms etc.  The major drawback was the crew served the gun in the open, thus vulnerable to small arms, shrapnel etc.

Why they didn't move the gun forward on the chassis and make a protected bit on the tank like the German Marder for example, we'll never know. Maybe they thought with and effective range of up to nearly 3 kilometers, perhaps they thought the crew didn't need protecting as they'd be able to shoot anything long before it got into range to shoot at them.  Dunno.  The thing I forgot was to add my Italian gun crew to my last Perry's order. ^%&*#!!! Still, the three-piece Company B Semo 90/53 cost me about 25% of the Perry's version (which is just the gun I might add!) and has come up a treat. The decals on it are also for an unarmed command vehicle so when not lugging ammo about for the 90, it'll double as my Italian AV command tank.

The decals I also ordered from Company B (with bits and bobs like 50 Cals for the Honeys) arrived so I was able to finish that and the rest of my Ital AVs. I have had mixed success with the US postal service - it can be expensive and slow - but I have to say unlike my local hobby shop where I got the models, Company B responded quickly and were quite reasonably priced with P&P - everything arrived from the US (to Australia) in under three weeks by normal surface mail. I've had similar experience with the Shapeways 3D print mob in New York and with ordering figures from Brigade Games (located in New Jersey) - all took 2-3 weeks and postage quite reasonable (considering its traversing halfway around the globe!)

The other Italian AVs were the L35 Flame tankette and an Autoblinda Armoured Recce scout vehicle. The former is a great little model with open-able hatches which enabled me to put in a Perry's Italian crewman I'd been saving up. Perfecto fit!  Armed also with a Breda MG, its a nasty bit of work for any PBI to encounter.  The only thing that'd worry me is the L35's vulnerability to small arms (well small-ish) like HMGs and Boyes AT rifles (one of the few AV's a Boyes could knock out!)  That little tank full of jellied fuel it has attached to its arse would make a very large fireball too I'd imagine. Momma Mia!  Still, it could shoot a jet of flame 50-60 meters AND machine gun you (not at the same time of course) so a nasty little anti-infantry weapon that fits it well with my L35 tankette squadrone.  Avanti!

The other one is the Autoblinda scout AC with its 20mm autocanon. Nice.  This is the one that did so much damage in our Op LIGHTFOOT game at Jolt a few months back.  Pity the gun isn't a bit heavier but still a nippy beast (both forwards AND backwards!) with quite a sting as it also has forward and rear facing Breda MGs.  Again a nice little model from Company B and I know why I got THIS one cheap - it only had three matching wheels [grrr] which meant that I had to scrounge around. Fortunately I had the ones from the Bofors which fitted perfectly - not the solid wheel-hub variety unfortunately but that will only offend the pedants I'm sure! She goesa bangabangbanga!

Another of the Company B AV models was an M3 Stuart 'Honey' which I'd hoped matched the two I got previously from Shapeways. I could see there were differences but it was impossible to tell until I'd put it together. Unfortunately although the Company B version was the earlier make of the Stuart (the A1), it was also significantly smaller than the Shapeways 3D versions of the Stuart. A nice model nonetheless.

And now the two together...

The Shapeways version is considerably larger.  Bugger.

But the Shapeways ones go well together!

The solution was to make the Company B version into a Brit Stuart with its unique zigzag sand and khaki camo pattern (which also came in a blue and sand version) and the other two as Aussie 6th Div. Honeys. The advantage here was the command figure I got with the Warlord Dingo scout fitted nicely into the open hatch version.  I also added the 50 Cal MGs I got with the decals from Company B to all the Stuarts along with wire aerials.

The other problem with the Shapeways versions was the fact that, being 3D printed, they weighed almost nothing. I could see them getting damaged with handling on the game table in no time flat so to give them more heft I filled them with plaster of Paris - both hull and turret - and it worked a treat! They are a bit rough on the finish and well... damned expensive! So I won't be getting any more BUT as I said before, the P&P was reasonable and timely, so if they produce something that appeals... ya never know!

The last item on the agenda was adding a crew to the Bofors.  Similarly to the Shapeways models, the Romanian (!!!) Bofors model (a nightmare to make) is a trifle oversized but figures from the gun crew I got from Perry's actually fit in well.

Well the Luftwaffe better watch out - these guys look the business!  Had to find a solution to the blasted German 'flying artillery' Stuka that seems to do so much damage.  The Allies needed that Bofors!

That's about it for now.  Hordes of things Napoleonic on the workbench which I must get cracking on before Santa comes and the real madness begins!

Well Santa has come and gone leaving some much needed goodies including a complete British 25pdr, quad, limber and crew as well as a crew for my Semovente 90/53 which I have just finished. Based up, the Perry figures fit in perfectly with the US Company B Semo - note the crewman feeding one of those monster shells into the gun breech. As I have a number of Austrian Napoleonics done as well I thought I'd add the photos of the Italian crew to this post as an update.

Wishing a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all the followers of Doc's 'Art of War'.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Doc's WWII Italians and a Perry's Portee

After the dust from 'Little Wars' settled I decided I had to extractus digitus and finish my North African theatre Italians, in particular the Bersaglieri that I got from Warlord at such a bargain. Having converted a four-section platoon over to the feather heads, I had to do the support weapons too about 50 figures in all so its taken a few weeks. Also had to convert the Warlord Elefantino AT to Bersaglieri and ordered in the superb quality Perry version. 
Bersaglieri section of 10 with an LMG team, NCO (with SMG) and seven rifles (carbinieri)
The original Warlord Elefantino AT
and with the Bersa heads.
The Perrys version of the Elefantino AT
The Perry's Elefantino AT has much finer detail - and a skinny VERY bendable barrel!

The Bersaglieri support weapons required a bit of conversion work to make a set for each platoon but they've turned out well enough.

My favourite is the command stand with a rather foppish officer (with a handful of gloves!) and a radio operator. Nice figures.


LMG team
Infantry command with officer & two runners
The sergeant directs  his section
Bersaglieri platoon with support section

As nice as the Bersaglieri turned out the one that really floated my boat was the Perry's 2 pdr AT portee mounted on a light Morris truck. I have to say it was quite a challenge to make but usefully they put a guide on their site (good idea guys!) which gave me a direction.  Such a nice model I constructed it bit by bit and painted as I went so that all finishes - even the ones not visible - are up to the same standard.  A bit anal I know but I got caught up with it and ended working into the wee hours to finish it properly.  Absolutely knackered me it did - but happy with the result!

They certainly packed a lot of stuff into that little truck including a crew of four. Lying down on the gun trail arm like that to fire the gun would  have required nerves of steel and the ability of a circus contortionist. Very squeezy in the back of that truck!

 Got some Napoleonic Austrians on the production line next - but only after I've finished my WWII AFVs - my Italian Semovente supergun, tankettes, Autoblinda Recce car and a troop of Stuart Honeys. Just got some vehicle insignia from Company B in the US which are fiddly enough to probably finally drive me round the bend (already there says my wife!)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Little Wars Wargaming Convention, Canberra 8 November.

Last Sunday was the 'Little Wars' Wargaming Convention in Canberra, following similar cons in Melbourne and Adelaide, demonstrating our hobby to the wider community and raising money for 'Soldier On'. Unfortunately our largest gaming con - Cancon - no longer allow demonstration games, a very short-sighted decision in my opinion. The intention of 'Little Wars', the brainchild of several of our Lanyon group, was to showcase the hobby. How are you supposed to do that without demonstration games? The Lanyon Wargaming Group put on about ten separate games covering everything from ancients to modern fantasy/sci fi, with a strong historical showing. For our part we put on a 'Muskets & Tomahawks' French & Indian Wars game - action on the wild North American frontier!

The French Fort with its very useful gun was never really threatened by the British assault 
The con attracted a fair crowd in the salubrious surrounds of the Lanyon Vikings Sports Club (who also promoted the con too) - even a few local MLA's (they're our local political representatives for all my non-Australian blog readers) who even made a good impression of being fascinated about the tabletop action of our FIW game!

French Indian allies made the laborious journey to the woods in front of the town.
The Indian chief and his one surviving warrior continue to blaze away at the British irregulars assaulting the village.
French Cour de Bois irregulars attempt to shore up the French right.
French Indian allies infesting the woods kept the British colonials at bay for most of the game.
Rangers on the hill opposite kept a lively fire on those pesky Indians in the woods while the provincials closed in.
Provincials and Scots eventually take the Indian village after driving the Cour de Bois off for the umpteenth time (the latter did as much running - then rallying - as shooting!)
The British regulars gamely traded fire with the French regulars (who couldn't hit a thing for the most part) French irregs kept failing their morale , then rallying, then running away again.
The British Indian allies take'em heap scalps of French colonials - in front of the others who terrified, promptly fled the town.
Cour de Bois finish off the last of the courageous Scots who routed the French regulars with their Claymores, taking even more Frenchmen with 'em as they go down!
End of game - a draw - but the French regulars were still running!
Provincials finally man up and take the pressure of the dwindling British regulars
Meanwhile, back at the fort the gun runs out of targets - made more Brits run than any other unit on the table! Note burning  settler's cabin in town, courtesy of the trusty gun. One very effective means of getting rid of bloodthirsty scalping Indians ( who WERE inside the cabin having a scalp-fest!) Note also the two surviving French civilians leaving town, running hard in the opposite direction!
The FIW game ebbed back and forth with the French gun and officer getting the command cards at just the right time to order the gun to shoot, running French irregulars to rally or belatedly, sending the regulars out to protect the town. Despite destroying or driving off most of the French and all the Indians, the British could not take the fort and most of the town was still in French hands so it was declared a draw. We had more than half a dozen different players cycle through together with the four regulars playing - with everyone having a ball as usual.

There were also a number of really good looking games that I managed to see a bit of including an interesting 15mm ACW, 54mm ECW skirmish, another 15mm ancients (Rome versus Carthage I think) which won 'best of the day' (we were runners up - well done Andrew). Two in particular caught my attention: a 28mm Bolt Action commando raid on a U-boat in drydock and a huge 54mm figure Napoleonic game (Prussians v French & Allies) of which I took the following photos.

British commandos arrive at the sea wall by rubber dingy, trying not to wake up the snoozing Germans. I think it turned out the Germans were light sleepers!
Despite its size , the U-boat is about half its actual size at 1/56 or 28mm scale - they were huge!
The spectacular 54mm game - Prussians form square
Looks like Mamelukes with Saxon? infantry behind them.
Prussians attack
Some colourful Berg Lancers next to the French Carabiniers
View of the French lines with Tirailleurs closest and Regt Etrangeur (Irlandais?) next along.  The table was also huge - at least twenty foot long.
There were also traders there including War and Peace, Dean from Olympian Games and Nick from Eureka who did a roaring trade. I think it bodes well for the future. As well as raising a few hundred dollars for 'Soldier On' for our returned Diggers, it successfully showcased the hobby and attracted quite a bit of attention and importantly, our generous hosts the Lanyon Vikings Club provided an excellent venue that was well patronised by the crowds attending as well as the wargamers.  A fine day's gaming was had by one and all and we will certainly plan to do it again next year!  Tough luck CGS - Cancon's loss is definitely our gain, from what I could see.  Congratulations must also go to Greg, Ian and Leigh who put so much time and effort into setting up and running a great convention in our first 'Little Wars' Canberra.