Thursday, 31 March 2011

(Air Month) Slavnensk Air Group Nieuport-24

Unfortunately work has been extremely busy this week which, coupled with the effects of a cold earlier in the week, meant I've not managed to get anywhere near as much done this week as planned. However I have today managed to finish off the two Skytrex Nieuport-24's, one from the Slavnensk Air Group, complete with skull and cross bones and yin-yan symbol, the other from an unidentified Special Purpose Air-Group, with black tail.

Russian built Nieuports were painted overall grey though subject to some fantastic art work on the fuselage. Some of the Soviet designs of Death dropping bombs etc are amazing, albeit probably too small for 1/144th models. Looking at the models now I think the grey I used is a trifle too dark but I they're ok for wargaming.

Officially today is the end of Air Month but with just six models finished I will continue into April, especially as I never got anywhere near my French or the planned German re-paints (and I need to get these done for the 2nd edition of AirWar: 1918 which just needs the pretty pictures).

It was interesting reading Tas's thoughts on his first project month at Man Cave and he makes some sensible points about pre-planning and trying to do a little something every day. Ok, I've no hope of doing something every day due to work, but this month I could have been more productive on the plane side by spending the odd ten minutes putting another coat of NATO Green on a 'Harry Tate' rather than playing on Facebook. Given April sees me working away every week to some extent apart from the last week I need to be a bit more disciplined!

As to next month, aside from continuing the aeroplanes, I haven't quite decided but have seven hours to decide... :-)

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Slow Progress...

The last week has pretty much been a bust wargames wise as I have been working away again. Air Month wise the two Nieuports are now properly primed and awaiting a coat of grey, I'm still pondering the "Harry Tate's" (though even if they are end up White Russian or Soviet they'll still be a base of PC10) and gave a Wings of War Airco DH4 a spray of white as I didn't like the chocolate PC12 paint job and fancy raising a small Independent Air Force bomber unit (interestingly the pre-paints roundels lifted off the model after the undercoat and had to be scrapped off before a quick respray...). Next week should see them finished.

Wargames Illustrated 282 arrived the other day and although I've only managed to flick through it it does look an interesting issue (with a lot of Vietnam stuff). I did manage to read the interesting article on reappraising Dark Age Saxons although I felt it could have done with a better conclusion on what the author thought should be what we see on the tabletop.

The only problem with being on the road (well rail actually) was, as well as reading Lost Fleet 2 to 5, the mind kept pondering different projects... The WI/FOW Vietnam supplement led me to thinking about converting ColdWar: 1983 to a 28mm Nam set, then I started thinking about converting it to WW2, then I started extrapolating the Aeronef timeline in the War To End All Wars etc, etc. (you get the drift...). However, getting home I found the final draft of the Dick Garrison Pulp SF rules from Mike Baumann so once I've done the aeroplanes (and spacefighters) I think I'll dig out the League of Nations Space Navy and get them finished...

Saturday, 19 March 2011

(Air Month) 14 Squadron AirCo DH.2s

I finished the two AirCo DH.2 pushers from Skytrex that have been sat on my modelling desk for a while now. As previously mentioned I had a change of heart and decided not to paint them up in the PC10 of 24 Squadron but went with a Clear Doped Linen (CDL) look for 14 Squadron serving in the Middle East in 1917. This gives my Aussie 'Brisfits' some support or when I embark on some Ottoman Air Force types.

The CDL paint scheme is  easy to do and Citadel's Bleached Bone gives a good shade for it, The grey areas on the fuselage were painted Fortress Grey. Insignia was hand painted except the upper wing roundels which are from Dom's Decals.

Sorting through the unmade box of aeroplanes I have decided to concentrate on the Eastern Front for a few more builds and have a couple of Nieuport 24's just cleaned up, waiting to be stuck together on the bench. The RCW book has a selection of interesting Nieuport plates, though I don't think I will try and convert one to have winter landing skies instead of wheels, must as the idea appeals!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

(Air Month) The Pros & Cons Of Impulse Purchasing

I've had a change of heart regarding my Airco DH.2 pushers and have decided to transfer them to 14 Squadron in Palestine to support the Aussie 'Brisfits' (it'll also give me an excuse to paint up some Ottoman Air Force planes in due course). Consequently I've been painting coats of Bleached Bone to get a decent Clear Doped Linen look and am a little behind schedule...

The schedule also took a knock when an impulse purchase from the weekend literally thudded through the letterbox...

In the 'old days' of mail order you used to have to write out an order, write a cheque, find an envelope, then a stamp, then post it, offering plenty of time to reconsider the initial impulse to buy. These days, it seems three clicks and your done! Such was the case with a copy of Aircraft of the Russian Civil War by Vyacheslav Kondrat'ev and Marat Khayruln from Military History Books...

On first appearances this does not appear worth the £22 it cost (including postage). It isn't a proper perfect bound printed book. It is a translation of the original Russian volume, thermal bound (ie. what they do to big reports in Staples) with colour copies of the plates from the original book. That said, if you are interested in the air operation during the Russian Civil War I'd say it was indispensable and worth every penny.

It isn't a coffee table book but 237 pages packed with shed loads of information, includes 115 b&w photos and 11 pages of colour plates (typically four or five planes to a plate), basically everything anyone interested in the aerial side of the RCW would want. It is particularly useful for the Soviet side. All too often the Red side of things is anonymous compared to the detailed western data we can access, but here, all the units of the Workers and Peasants Red Air Fleet are listed and many of the photos are of Red machines which is wonderful to see.

Worth £22? Well, when I look at an Osprey Ace's book, 96 pages for £14 and compare any of them to the unique information in this book the answer is a resounding yes! I just need to restraint myself from buying the volume on tanks in the RCW (well for a little while).

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

(Air Month) 34th PAO (Fighter Air Detachment) Camel

Following on from yesterday's WPRAF Snipe I finished this 1/144th Skytrex Camel last night from their Red Eagle range.

This particular model is based on one that flew for an unindentified unit* on the Southern Front, but appealed to me with the unique bat with skull and crossbones design on the side which I hand painted. There are a couple of different paintings on the net of this plane, one with the black rudder, one without. I went black to show the tail star off better, but had to go with a white lined star as that is all I had in my pile of decals. Whilst this may not be technically correct it does help show the star off nicely in this smaller scale.

I've got one more Camel to paint before tackling the RFC pushers. Currently deciding whether to go Estonian or Latvian! :-)

* Update: since publishing this post I have found out that the Camel was captured from Denikin's Whites and was piloted by P. Karpokhin who flew with the 34th PAO (Fighter Air Detachment)

The Ides Of March

How could I resist?

Monday, 14 March 2011

(Air Month) 2nd Soviet Aviatryad Sopwith Snipe

My first plane for the Workers and Peasants Red Air Fleet is this repaint of a Wings of War Sopwith Snipe. A simple enough job as Tamiya's NATO Green is a near perfect match for the pre-paint and covers the RAF roundels effortlessly.

The red stars are probably inaccurate with the white edging (I don't think they came in until WWII) but it does help define the edges nicely and given the hodge-podge of different WPRAF markings in the RCW (red stars, red stars on white circles, black stars etc) I'm happy enough...

I did find a lovely illustration of a captured Snipe called Nelly with red stars painted directly over the RAF roundels which would have made for a unique looking model but I'd already painted over the roundels when I found it. Still, a good excuse to buy another Snipe for the workers! WPRAF Camel next...

Sunday, 13 March 2011

(Air Month) Bleaseworld Flies East

I've spent a goodly chunk of the afternoon working on some planes for Air Month. They include a couple of Camel's, two Harry Tates and two DH2 pushers and a Wings of War repaint. The pushers will have to be Western Front and I'm looking at doing them for 24 Squadron late 1916/early 1917, however the rest will be painted up for service in Eastern Europe. The first plane of the Workers and Peasants Red Air Fleet is the repaint that you should see tomorrow!

The whole period from 1917 to 22 is incredibly interesting with Russia plunged into civil war, the Baltic States fighting for independence, the German Balts trying to set up the Baltische Landeswehr, the Polish fighting the Soviet Russians/Ukranians/Lithuanians at different (and sometimes the same) times. In fact the whole region seems to become a big free for all on occasion allowing many different opponents for armies and air forces (the Lithuanians alone fought the Germans, Baltic Germans, Red Russians, White Russians and Poles in this period!). Looking slightly beyond the Baltic region and we have the disintergration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with Red Hungary fighting the Czechs who themselves also fought the Poles.

Whilst dogfights were not common they did occur so I have decided to paint up some Workers and Peasants Red Air Fleet planes for starters, with some for the White Slavo-British squadron, a couple of Estonian planes and one or two Lithuanian ones to follow (and after that possibly something for the Baltische Landeswehr, Latvians and maybe even the Georgians!).

There are a number of really useful online sources for this period that take a bit of hunting down such as:

Wings Palette - a fantastic resource for air wargamers but irritating to navigate. I've found the best way to do it by war (the link I've included defaults to the RCW). The search facility is quite good and quicker than following links.

Chandelle Archive - some interesting articles with colour schemes for inter-war planes including RCW, Gran Chaco and Formosa.

Insignia Magazine - the online pages are very useful, but if you are really into a subject, hunt down the printed guides. The ones on the inter-war Baltic air forces are essential if you really want to get into the Independence Wars as a period.

Of course Google is your friend and a bit of google-fu will find other useful painting schemes...

Gaming In The Round

Adding some more blogs to Blogs of War I came across this wonderful round naval wargames table on Blackwarden's blog which got me thinking as to using a smaller round table for small scale games skirmish games etc.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Holy Warrior

A week of working away in Dublin has meant no painting (though next week's trip to Belfast has been cancelled freeing up the bulk of the week), however it did give me time to read the sequel to Outlaw by Angus Donald, Holy Warrior.

Holy Warrior sees the Earl of Locksley (aka Robin Hood) and his (not so merry) men journey to the Holy Land with Richard I as part of the Third Crusade (indeed most of the book covers the journey, but that was more interesting - and bloody - than I expected).

Like it's predecessor it does not hold back on the violence and this does make it hard to like some of the characters who instinctively you feel you should root for (Robin is much more Tony Soprano than Errol Flynn) as they do some ambiguous things.

Donald doesn't shirk from including some of the worst excesses of religious violence in the book, both the Massacre of the Jews in York and Richard I's slaughter of the Muslim prisoners in Acre are included and it does make for very dark reading. The main battles covered in the book are the sack of Messina, the storming of Limassol (both ironically against Christian opponents) and the battle of Arsuf.

Overall it was quite a good read, although some of the actions of the "heroes" make them impossible to like. Gaming wise I am still tempted to try some outlaw skirmishing one day and did consider digging out the old Airfix Robin Hood set I have in the attic somewhere before I remembered this was supposed to be Air Month! :-)

Sunday, 6 March 2011

(WWII Month) Soviet Infantry Platoon And Support

I managed to pop into GW Bristol today to pick up some "purity seal" and varnished all the painted Soviets before taking some quick snaps.

Soviet Infantry Platoon and Command.

Soviet Infantry Command (including NKVD officer in greatcoat).

Soviet Infantry Section.

Soviet AT Rifle Team support unit (the Command section has one attached but I had some spare).

Soviet 82mm Mortar and crew support unit.

Soviet sniper Team support unit.

Air Month has progressed in so far as I ordered some 1/144th Soviet stars and Polish and Finnish decals today (thinking about trying to overpaint the Finnish blue with Latvian red).

Saturday, 5 March 2011

March Is... Air Month!

March was never going to be the most promising month for wargames projects as it is a busy one from a work perspective, a situation not helped with my eyes flaring up again this last week. Consequently I'm limiting my ambition in March to adding some more planes to my 1/144th WWI air collection, possibly with a brief sojourn into the Russian Civil War and Baltic Wars of Independence. I'll need to pick up some wire, glue and paint, as well as some decals from Dom (as well as work out how to paint a red swastika neatly for a Latvian Camel).

Before all that is finishing the bases on last month's Russkis and they received a basecoat of Bestial Brown this morning and just need drybrushing with Bleached Bone and a bit of static grass adding before they're finished.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Lost Fleet, Realistic Starship Battles?

I've just finished reading the first book in The Lost Fleet series, Dauntless by Jack Campbell. The Lost Fleet is a spaceship warfare series with a depleted fleet trying to get back home after being soundly defeated by enemy. I won't go into the plot but just to say it was hugely enjoyable and I'm waiting for the postman to deliver the next three books with five and six on pre-order at Amazon!

What I was especially taken with were the space combat sequences which for a change did not ape wet navy battles but took into account the potential problems of space combat such as the time delay in imagery caused by the huge distances involved.

 Light may travel at 186,000 miles per second but that one second can be crucial and the issue multiplies the further away targets are. If we recorded an enemy fleet entering the solar system near Pluto what we would see, when we see it, happened five hours ago. Even when they get to Mars what we see would have happened anything between 3 and 21 minutes ago.

Obviously the nearer you are the less the problem is but with missile range theoretically unlimited due there being no friction, he who gets his shot in first gains a big potential advantage, especially if he can take into account the time lag issue.

This got me to thinking how we just ignore this in our space combat games (well, at least the ones I've played). Full Thrust is the daddy of all spaceship combat rules and one of my favourite games of all time but thinking about it, it really doesn't differ that much from a wet navy wargame (indeed having tried to play Harpoon once I'd say it is much simpler!).  Indeed many space games seem to have their genesis in naval rules. Call to Arms is based on War At Sea and Colonial Battlefleet on Naval Thunder.

So is it a case that the problems that Jack Campbell has his starship commanders address in The Lost Fleet series are ungameable without making things too complicated? I don't know, I'm not convinced they are and I have the germ of an idea that I want to try out. It might turn out that this idea is flawed, I somewhat suspect that it will make the starship gaming experience somewhat different and it might be unpopular as it takes people out of their comfort zone. I guess there will be some cardboard counter cutting out going on in the immediate future to give it a go.