Saturday, 31 August 2013

Blog's First Anniversary (Official)

I set the blog up in mid-August 2012 but I didn't 'go live' until 31st August with this post. Since then I've made 158 posts on various subjects but mostly of a wargaming nature. Some posts which I was certain would be surefire winners were not as warmly received, in terms of views, as I imagined they would be. Others which I believed were a bit iffy were big hits. I've learned a lot over the year in terms of presentation of posts and from advice from other bloggers, some of whom have been inspirational. That compliment, of being inspirational, has been paid to me on a number of occasions which was really wonderful.

I have also made a lot of friends through the blog. In fact I have a worldwide audience now; some of my new friends I will almost certainly never meet but that's ok. Others have become friends in real life and they have introduced me to new ways of playing wargames. One thing about blogging I really love is the free exchange of ideas and information and the general decency of everyone.

After literally no requests for information I thought I'd do a top ten posts for the year. Some of them, as I said above, were a genuine surprise. So here we go:

Meaningless Stat #1: 158 posts & 402 comments = 2.5 comments per post.

Top ten posts by views 
10=. Outskirts of Menton 1940 100 views
10=. The Buildings of Vim Fuego 100 views
8. B'ham Toy Soldier Fair 107 views
7=. New Stuff 121 views
7=. Tarboosh Music 121 views
5. Recce Time 129 views
4. USN Pre-Dreadnoughts 149 views
3. For Sale 183 views
2. The Peasants' Revolt 216 views
1. The Army of The Nutcracker.224 views

Some of these posts are from way back when but not all of them. It will be interesting to see what makes this list in a year's time because some of the newer posts are rapidly approaching three figures.

I have 44 followers who are all stout-hearted chaps & chapettes who clearly like(??- Editor.) what I do. But the view count on the blog is now almost 22,000 and there is no way they could have done all that by themselves. I decided to do another top ten but this time by world audience and this really brought home to me the global nature of what we all do.

Meaningless Stat #2: 402 Comments & 44 Followers = 9.13 comments per follower. (This is made up like most stats. See British Government for details)

Top ten audience by views
10. France 190
9. Spain 215
8. Canada 222
7. Finland 262
6. New Zealand 592
5. Germany 766
4. Australia 1042
3. Russia 1113
2. USA 5175
1. UK 9658

Which is pretty much what you'd expect but it is nice to see I'm becoming a bit of an underground hit in China, Poland, Pakistan and Latvia!

Meaningless Stat #3: 22,132 Page Views & 402 Posts = 55 Views per post.

Right! That's enough boring bloody statistics. Sorry if I've put anyone to sleep with this drivel; normal service will be resumed shortly.


Italian Anti-Tankers

As well as my glorious Western Desert Force (Toy) I also am building up a mighty Italian army. The Italian plan is to advance boldly into Egypt and clear the British out of the way and seal up the eastern Med and win the war. Great plan, we'll see what happens.

In the meantime toy building continues. In response to the Matilda II, which is immune to nearly all Italian heavy ordnance, the boffins at Cotgravelli di Campo Freddo di Sutton have come up with, a whole two years ahead of schedule, this wonder weapon: a 47mm anti-tank gun mounted in an ABM42 car:

Here we can see the car in action with an Airfix crew. I've since found out about the Waterloo set of tanky crew toys.I'll have to get me some of those! I found the build a little tricky. For example the side panels could have their jerry can racks and stowage bins glued on first to make two large kit bits rather than six fiddly bits. The gun and its mounting was a nightmare: solved by pinning top and bottom and a generous ration of glue. The bonnet/hood took some time to position correctly; in fact I'm not sure it's on square now. I put this kind of mis-alignment down to fair wear and tear in desert conditions.

Tomorrow is this blog's first anniversary so I'll be doing a post full of meaningless stats and pointless drivel. Bet you can't wait!


Sunday, 25 August 2013

4th Indian Infantry Division #1

As I said yesterday I've been swapping heads to create Indian infantry for my West Desert Force (Toy). I did eight yesterday which, at two figures per base, gives four battalions. I shall need to do more. I found an order of battle for Operation Compass which I will be using to build my WDF(T).

All the best!

PS: I scored A Battle Lost by Alistair Horne for the princely sum of £.0.99. The P&P cost more! Started reading it and am already hooked.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Max Random

I've been down the charity shops today. I found this:

Missing horns, probably already rampaged a bit.

And these
They're resin, about 30mm. Will probably find themselves in a HotT army

The buildings aren't charity shop finds. I made them ages ago and found them in the shed. The walls are made of mounting board; chimneys are, I think, large matchsticks cut to shape and the roofs are from a window blind. They're a bit tatty but a quick spruce up and they'll be used in forthcoming Mexican Revolution games. Their scale is probably about 10mm.

The Schneider was a gift from Chris Kemp at last week's MB game at Shrivenham. My French tank division is really starting to look good. Unless you compare it to a Panzer division of course.......

I'm putting together a Western Desert Toy Force and needed some Indian troops. I've matched up Revell Scots Infantry with HAT Colonial Indian Infantry heads. Not too shabby either.

Welcome to new follower Don M, thank you following! I also noticed blog views have gone over 20,000 some time in the last 24 hours. Thank you all for your continuing support!


Friday, 23 August 2013

Le Vue D'Ensemble

Here are some shots I took of other parts of the battlefield. I've really got no idea what is going on in the pics but it does show the bigger picture of The Toy Battle of France.

Is that German armour?
French Armour v German Armour
Look at all those tanks! Surely France is saved now?

Megablitz is fun! Try a game at your earliest opportunity.

Une Bataille Perdue? Partie 3e

After this action and retirement into Valenciennes my memory gets a little hazy. I'm fairly sure I received orders that I was now in command of the troops near Douai. The divisional designation? No idea. I also received reinforcements from Bob's Lorries (or 5th Motorised Division as they were more correctly known) which had been in action to the east. The battle had become VERY fluid by this point.

The Panzers disentangled themselves from the Valenciennes fighting and moved off to the west as per their original orders. The agony of 18ID didn't end there though. A rather hefty German infantry division arrived and prepared to engage and destroy my gallant band. While the Boche infantry sorted themselves out I took the opportunity to move my assigned infantry into Douai itself where the concentrated on digging in in peace as Panzertruppen drove around and past them. The lorried infantry made good progress along the road towards Valenciennes; my fevered brain, this was now Day 3 of 3 in game terms, imagined some kind of fighting relief column. Yeah.

Here we can see an entire Pz Div being terrorised by a man on a bike.
Vive Le Recce de 18eID!

Bottom right are the troops I was given. 
I moved them into Douai, just out of shot bottom RH corner. 
They remained there for the rest of the battle before surrendering.
18ID is just out of shot left centre.

German Panzers encounter a BEF counter-attack. 
The gallant brown-jobs did their best but the Panzer machine wasn't unduly troubled.

The reinforcements from 5th Motorised Division arrive and are ordered to attack the Panzer division which had just left the fighting around Fortress Valenciennes. As I flipped over the order chit I overheard a German Panzer general mutter: 'You'll have to attack'. I let them sort themselves out and then promptly surrendered.

And what of 18ID's stand at Valenciennes? With no orders or re-supply from GHQ, the town in flames, ammunition all but exhausted and faced by an overwhelming force of German artillery, infantry and StuGs they too laid down their arms. No photographs commemorate this sad event. 

Well now, first I would like to thank Tim Gow for organising the whole game, Tom and Keira for organising the room, tables and food; my French comrades and German opponents and last but not least Chris Kemp who did a sterling job as Air Umpire but also gave me a Schneider armoured car model before the game began. Thank you all!

All the best!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Italy's Involvement.... WW2 is not, by any measure, a glorious chapter. Whether what happened to Italy from 1922-1945 is a self-inflicted wound is another matter for wiser people than me to discuss. I have long been fascinated by the Italians from re-unification to today despite the fact that I speak not a word of Italian; I am a Hispanophile by inclination but I'll tell you about that another time.

Right then, why? Well, come on, the period 1939-1942 is chock-full of interesting (crap?) armies and their even more interesting (crappier?) equipment using extremely interesting (crappiest?) doctrines and formations. What's not to like? Hence my love of the Italians and their suitability for a Megablitz treatment. The Poles have also received a baleful glance so they may be next.

Starting for 10 is my take on the enormous Cannone da Banga 149/40  and its beautifully rendered crew figures. The very thought of having a 6" naval gun in the desert made me fair trembly (sounds ruder than it should). The build was actually a bit of a nightmare because the 'instructions' on the back of the box don't match the picture on the front. I got there in the end though: G**gle is a great image resource.

Accompanying the gun are two dodgy diecasts I picked up for cheaps down the market and at one of my local charity shops. A paint job and the addition of stowage and ladders made them look slightly more military. Trust me, charity shops are a great resource for all things diecast. The largest vehicle is now the tractor-LOG for the gun. The bus is just in it for the filming expenses at the moment. Gainful employment beckons though. The sand and stones on the toys' bases are from Wilkos 'Budgie Sand and Grit' range. A half kilo bag each for pennies and they last for ages; also considerably cheaper than the identical product sold in smaller bags by a certain workshop of games.

I saved five toys from the crew for other duties of an artillery based nature but the four who did get jobs look rather splendid. Putting the megaphonist so close to the gun-layer appealed to my awful sense of bad-joke humour. I hope you like them too.

Looking more like Mars then Tripolitania.......

Positions, everybody! And.............ACTION!!



Written whilst listening to The Stereophonics on BBC Wireless 2 - Hurrah!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Une Bataille Perdue? Partie 2e

Surely some mistake in this withdrawal order from French GHQ? Apparently not. So, no sooner were we in place than both 18ID & 23ID were upping sticks and retiring. It was at this point that all communications between the two divisions was also severed: 18ID was in its own......

The German panzers were by now advancing towards us. 18ID Recce managed to counter-recce against the Boche and thus slow them down enough for half of 18ID to move towards Valenciennes. In the next move German heavy recce attacked my still emplaced A/T Battalion. Strength points were checked; dice counted out and exchanged; combat rolls made............German recce shot up good and proper for no casualties to my gallant anti-tankers. The withdrawal of 18ID then continued without further ado.

In this picture you can see 18ID dug in at Valenciennes. Also present was a regiment from another infantry division. The CO of which handed them over to my command. A copy of Fall Gelb was recovered by the extreme LH battalion in the picture. It was forwarded as MOST URGENT to French GHQ. I did smile at their lack of security and how this incident mirrored the historical discovery of a briefcase with the German OOB which was passed to General Alan Brooke in the real campaign.

As was apparent from the opening moves the Boche had been ordered to avoid combat and BUAs. But, for whatever reason, the first of two Panzer divisions decided that 18ID had to be dealt with. A second order then arrived from GHQ: Attack! So, after a moment's delay I did my duty and out we came. 'You're not attacking are you?' Queried one of the Fritzers. My reply of 'Oui' drew goggle-eyed consternation from my opponents.

As you may imagine the combat was heavily weighted in favour of the Panzer division. I lost my artillery regiment, my A/T battalion and one of my infantry regiments. But they did not destroy 18ID! Combat results are kept secret in MB but judging by the Germans' faces my brave poilus had done their lead units some harm. And they also forgot their orders to avoid combat and BUAs. My recollection may be a little fuzzy but I'm pretty sure that another Panzer division then tried to sneak past what was already known as Fortress Valenciennes. You can see the sneaky Boche in the top of the picture. There was some confusion over whether my extreme RH infantry regiment had already moved that turn. They hadn't and so were able to swing through 90° to assault the Recce battalions. Which promptly ran away!

The next move saw my depleted, but still full of fight, command retiring back into Fortress Valenciennes and drawing at least one Panzer division with it. During the fighting I had made at least two requests for bombing sorties. A huge boom and then a pillar of smoke explained why L'Armée de L'Aire were absent. The airfield at Douai to our rear had been overrun by Panzers following orders:

So, the gallant reservists of 18ID were now almost alone but not quite cut-off as orders from GHQ still came through as did overnight supplies. Thus far my brave poilus had delayed the best of the Boche for the best part of a game day (17th May 1940). Would we be able to hold out and allow the line to stabilise? Well..............


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Une Bataille Perdue? Partie 1er

Written in a POW camp somewhere in Germany....

As this was my first ever Megablitz game I was both excited and a little anxious. I needn't have worried, I was partnered with a rather splendid fellow called Chris Agar who showed me the ropes. As has been said elsewhere you can pick up the game quickly and they were right.

I like a challenge and had volunteered to be a French general. The French briefing  was short and to the point; it reflected the rather fluid nature of the battle and how we French generals were expected to deal with what was happening.

I was assigned 18th Infantry Division a Series A formation staffed with younger reservists. Along with 23rd Infantry (General Agar) division our initial positions were in the north on the line Avesnes - Mauberge; top LH table in this pic:

You can see the Germans huddling at the top of the picture. 
No doubt they are concocting some form of shabby Nahzee trick.

The next photos show the gallant toys of 23rd ID occupying Avesnes and covering the airfield. 18ID occupy the forest to the left of the airfield. 18ID recce was moved up the road towards Mauberge. Then we waited.

My homemade battlebox from a tin of French biscuits

Worm's eye view of 18ID. 
In the distance can be seen the lead elements of the German invasion forces.

So, 18ID & 23ID are in position; feeling confident we can stop the invader; recce in position; guns sited; airfield covered. All is well. Then came the order to withdraw.........


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Banga Ganga

Cannone da Banga 149 crew pics:

When does filming start again?

Bustin' some moves at Club Buq Buq

Monday, 12 August 2013

Giant Monster Rampage Roster

I was browsing the blogs I follow the other day and came upon The Stronghold Rebuilt's post about an upcoming GMR game. It diverted my attention, not hard, I am a war gamer after all, to my own collection of Kaiju. Monsters which have lain, neglected, in a cardboard box for some time. Sounds familiar don't it? Last night I dug them out and had a bit of a play with them, not a game, just some RAAAWR, RAWWWR, OOOOF - I diiiiiiiiiiie! mess about. I will be putting on a game soon though. Anyways while they were getting some fresh air I persuaded them to line up for some mug shots. Here are the punning awful results:

Humpty Hardboiled
Following the collapse of  his building business he turned to a life of city destruction
Weight: 42,000 tons
Natural Attacks: Crush, Roundhouse Punch
Powers: Tenacity, Knockdown, Blast Armour (Hard Boiled), Roll (Egg)
Kingdom: Animal.

Oriental Hardcase & Urban Re-Modeller
Weight: 33,000 tons
Natural Attacks: Claw, Wing Swipe
Powers: Fly, Wing Flap/Force Blast, Artillery, Tenacity 
Kingdom: Animal

Mister I
Road Junction Defender. Identity A Mystery
Weight: 39,000 tons
Natural Attacks: Punch, Kick, Throw
Powers: Skilled, Hurl Object, Tenacity
Kingdom: Animal

Mighty Hydraxia
Dental Horror Show Town Destroyer
Weight: 45,000 tons
Natural Attacks: Bite x 3, Tail Smack, Crush
Powers: Knockdown, Swim, Tenacity
Kingdom: Animal

No Respecter Of Built Up Areas
Weight: 51,000 tons
Natural Attacks: Punch, Kick, Throw
Powers: Icy Breath, Touch Of Death
Kingdom: Deity

Terror Of The Towns
Weight: 45,000 tons
Natural Attacks: Bite, Claw, Tail Smash
Powers: Tenacity, Wing Flap, Knockdown

Puny Humans!

Questosaurus menaces a peaceful town as The Military try to shove a nuke down its throat. 
And save the city by destroying it.
(Note stolen variable height idea)

Most of the figures based and repainted by me. City blocks from the charity shop as were most of the kaiju.

All the best.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Ordnance QF 2-Pounder ATG - Really Crap?

When I first was bitten by the wargaming bug I, like everyone else, read at face value books and wargames magazine articles about the BEF, the Western Desert Force and 8th Army. In most if not all of these books the 2-pdr ATG was universally condemned as a rubbish weapon. Ineffective against later German tanks.......And there's the rub right there: 'later German tanks'. Of course it couldn't penetrate the armour of Panzers IV, V & VI! It was designed when such things did not exist; it was designed to combat the tanks available at the time. In this role, as it turns out, it was a superlative weapon hampered only by the lack of a HE round. A HE round was developed but never produced which is, of course, a drawback for the tank-gun version of the 2pdr.

It would appear that its innovative design gave it a 360 degree traverse and higher hitting power than the comparable Pak36 & Hotchkiss 25mm guns. The fact that it remained in service throughout WW2 is testament to the gun's usefulness. It was displaced by heavier ATGs as heavier German tanks appeared but remained a deadly opponent against the types of tank it was designed to combat. Thus in the Far East it was more than a match for all Japanese tanks.

I am about halfway through the build of Zvezda's 2pdr model gun. I have to say that I have enjoyed the build and been amazed at the sci-fi look of the gun as it's gone together. It must be those tripod legs which give it a very strange look. But then it's only strange because we're so used to the post 1942 ATG orthodoxy.

Here's some pictures of the gun without its shield and crew:

Secret Vickers Plans

2pdr Front

2pdr Side

So, to answer the title's question. Was the 2pdr ATG as crap as legions of half-assed articles and books have stated? No, it wasn't. It was a gun of its time and in its time was an effective, reliable and useful gun. The fact that it remained in front-line service against tanks it was never designed to fight is no fault of the gun's. Look to the politicians and the planners if you want someone to blame.

PS: In response to Chris Kemp's query I found this on the Lone Sentry site: 2pdr ATG