Friday, December 30, 2016

Finishing Old Business

Most of my basement is occupied with miniatures, terrain, and endless gaming projects in various states of completion.  Incomplete projects out-number completed ones, and I'm am always in my own way, while trying to work on anything.  Early in the year, I started to make a little headway, discarding things that simply weren't worth the space that took up, selling "abandoned miniatures", and finishing old projects.  But as I got busier with life again, I faded away from the "clean-up".  In recent days though, I have managed to get the jump on some unfinished business.

Back in 1989 or so, I plunged into 15mm WWII gaming via Quality Castings, which sold the old Heritage miniature line.  My first encounter with these figs came nearly a decade earlier, when I was introduced to the Panzertroops rules, but we opted to play with 1/72 scale plastics, as the metal miniatures were more expensive and not readily available to us at the time.

At the time that I got into 15mm WWII, Quality Castings was the only suitable miniature line that I was aware of, and it was readily available.  I was actually pretty happy with them, though some
models were better than others.

QC Somua S-35 and French infantry in 15mm.

Anyway, shortly after receiving these, I thought that I would clean up their Pz III E to make it a little more accurate.  As I began scaling their model, and considering what was involved, I just decided to make a new master for the model, and thus started the life long endeavor of making my own miniatures.

Though it hasn't seen the table in years, this Pz III is a veteran of
hundreds of France 1940 games.  I imagine that it will get a
face-lift before seeing the tabletop again.

Over the next few years, I mastered more than 50 WWII vehicles in 15mm scale, focusing on building a nice collection of 1940 models over that first 18 months or so.  I continued working on mid and late war Germans, late war US, and a few Soviet models as well.

One thing lead to another, with the result being that I never built my own mid and late war armies.  I cast a couple of these and a couple of those, and played the occasional game, but for example, all these years later I have only four Pz IV, two Tiger 1, a couple of Panthers, etc.  There are many models of which I have no castings.  So for all these years, I have carried around boxes of molds with the intent of building my WWII armies.

Nearly half of my late war German armor.  Most was cast and
finished with a minimum paint job in a rush for the odd game.

I've reached a point where storage space is at a premium, and those molds take up valuable shelf space, while offering no on-table options, so I recently decided to cast up my armies, trading  miniatures for molds, and in the end, gaining a couple of empty shelves.

With a few days off over the holidays, I've started casting, and am making progress.  I don't know if I will be done by the start of the new year, but it shouldn't be too much longer than that, to complete my casting project.

My growing number of parts for armies that should have
been finished decades ago.

Hopefully, it won't take another 27 years to get them assembled and painted.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New Arivals (More Figs for the Unpainted Heap)

Haven't done much gaming-wise this month due to work and making 15mm masters, so thought I'd share some new arrivals, now waiting patiently on my painting table.

Zombiesmith Grey Aliens
First off, I received my Greys from Zombiesmith a few weeks ago... and they are awesome.  Wonderfully detailed little guys, about 22mm tall (plus of minus), with unique faces and expressions full of character.  They will be a very welcome addition (well, maybe not by humans and cattle) to a contemporary/near-future adventure that I'm working on.  And I have an idea for their transport, but that will be the subject of future posts. Here are some pics of the figs:

I measured the guy on bottom 4th from the left, but the pic was fuzzy;
he measured .87" in height, about 7/8 inch or 22mm.

Zombiesmith was great to deal with, good coms and order status updates.  Highly recommended.

SOE Kill Team, Statuesque Miniatures
Next up are some items from Statuesque miniatures. I ordered a sprue of female heads for some sci-fi and post apoc conversions.  This is my first order with Statuesque, and I was impressed.  They have three sizes/scales that you can order in (you need to check out scales on their site), that seem to be scaled to range from roughly 25mm to 32mm figs (my interpretation).  I ordered mine in the "pulp" scale, and am quite happy with the size for use with my generally 28mm figs.

Above is pack SMA301 in "Pulp" scale next to a 28mm Bobby Jackson
 (Thugz) figure (left), and a Hasslefree fig (right) for scale reference.

Next is the S.O.E. kill Team, three outstanding figures that will be modified slightly for my post apoc games.  The figs are finely detailed, flawlessly cast, and  truly outstanding.  Another company that features great coms and order status updates.  Here is the Kill Team as received:

The last pic is show a 28mm Hasslefree fig and Bobby Jackson
fig for scale reference with the Statuesque fig in the center. 
The S.O.E. Kill Teams figs are also in the  Statuesques' "Pulp" scale.

Another thing that I like about the Statuesque figs, is that the weapons are reasonably scaled and also very finely detailed. Each figure arrives in its own bag, and you pick your preferred base size when ordering.

QRF Air Support
And lastly, I finally got around to ordering some air support form QRF.  I picked up two SU17s, two Sepecat Jaguars, and two Su25s.  QRF sent order status updates, with the order coming very quickly, taking about two weeks to get across the pond. Here is the SU17:


The fuselage in resin has good detail, but the resin is a little rough in spots.  This will clean up very easily with a little automotive glazing putty and a Squadron sanding stick.  There are a number of micro-bubbles in the resin, but again, they clean up very easily with the glazing putty.  The exhaust nozzle on both castings had a bigger bubble on the right side which got chipped a little more in shipping on one of the castings (see last photo).  This is still a relatively simple fix with a little bit of styrene and a touch of putty.  The wings and detail parts are white metal and very nicely detailed and cast.

The Jaguar is a lovely model and will require very little cleaning up.  Again with a resin fuselage and metal wings and details.  I haven't decided if I will finish them for my UK or French forces yet.


Again, this is a really nice model, with all of the castings of superior quality.  I look forward to ordering a couple more of these, to complete forces for whichever of my air forces doesn't get them first.

Lastly is the Su25, another very nice model, is mostly resin, including one piece fuselage and wings, with smaller detail parts in metal.  The resin casting is much cleaner than the SU17, but not quite as perfect as the Jaguar.  It will require a little cleanup, mostly along the trailing edge of the wings, but not much.  Again, as for the models above, the metal parts are quite nice, and I particularly like how the expendable munitions are cast directly on the hard-points.  It saves a glue joint and a weak spot when handling the model.


Given the current exchange rate, these aircraft from QRF are a bit of a bargain, so if you're going to get the them, and in the US like me, now is the time.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

AAR24: The Mugabian Surprise

Before cleaning up my table to make more room for more casting, I played the first ground battle of the second strategic turn of the Uwandan invasion of Mugabia.  The battle took place on the southern fringe of Objective B-21.  Below is a map of the central border region between the countries of Uwanda (left) and Mugabia (right) with the black line being the border.

"I like this young Mugabian" thought Major Beriev of the Mugabian officer hurriedly readying his troops before him; "I believe the fire burns within him." The Major had been teaching the ways of proper leadership, and the ways of war.  The student would soon have opportunity to apply his lessons.

The Mugabian captain  had the fortune of commanding the only unit in a position to respond to the President's order for immediate counter-attack.  His troops made up a composite force intended to be  a ready reserve to counter any Uwandan attack at A59 and/or B-11, and by chance, located at Objective B32 to the south of Objective B21, where Uwanda's first ground attack came.

Re-purposed, his unit was on the road to reinforce objective B21, not knowing that the war had already arrived there.  While in route, he began receiving reports of the events at B-21 and he adjusted his advance as best he could to avoid the Uwandan air attacks that were being reported.  Though it slowed his pace, his unit still moved quickly, having left what little armor it possessed at B-32. 

As he neared B-21, friendly aircraft flew overhead, and he could see smoke rising in the distance,  He deployed a portion of his infantry company to act as reconnaissance, as he had no dedicated element of this type. 

The Captain listened to the Russian advisor that was attached to his unit, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Though he would likely be reprimanded for it, Captain Smythe lead one of the recce elements, and soon found his force in an excellent situation.  The Uwandan forces at B21 were forming up to advance on Objective B32, but had not moved out yet.

Below are views of Objective B21 and Uwandan Force 4 as first encountered by the Mugabian attacking force:

Southerly view of the battlefield, showing disposition of Uwanda forces.
Damaged and abandoned vehicles from the earlier battle
 are still in place, some still smoldering.

View looking east, Uwanda possesses the town to the north.

View looking west, Mugabia attacks from the south (left) edge.

The Mugabian attacking force consisted of :
1x HQ with 1x BTR152, 1z GAZ69
1x Mech Infantry Company with 10x BTR152
4x 85mm gun w/GAZ66
2x ZU23/2 w/truck
4x 120mm mortar w/truck, 1x GAZ69

Uwanda Force 4 consisted of :
1x HQ with 1x M3 halftrack, 1x Jeep
2x Centurion (attached from Force 1)
8x Firefly
13x M3 halftrack with infantry company
3x Saladin
4x Ferret

Uwandan Occupation Force at Objective B21:
1x ZU23/2
2x Inf sections (deployed along the south edge of town)

The Mugabian captain had his infantry platoons fan out across the southern approach to B21, and managed to moved two of his 85mm guns into position to the southwest of the town.  He also had four 120mm mortars deployed off-board ready to fire a mix of high explosive and smoke. 

A Mugabian infantry platoon and two 85mm guns move
 into position to the southwest of the town.
The Mugabian Captain and infantry on the rise directly south of town.
Mugabian infantry platoon advancing up the road from the southeast.
Very slowly the Mugabian infantry, bristling with RPGs, advanced into choice positions against the Uwandans.  Minutes ticked by, the Mugabians continued to advance, with the order to return fire if the Uwandans started shooting.  The Uwandans did not (for 32 very cautious, exceedingly slow, and utterly eventless turns, the absolutely blind Uwandans couldn't see squat). 

Uwandan infantry advance through the trees southwest of town...

... and up the road from the southeast.

Finally, the Captain, concerned that somehow he was walking into a trap, gave the order to fire.  The Uwandans were caught completely flat-footed.  Still, the range was just great enough that the RPGs were not as effective as hoped with 6 of 8 missing entirely on the first volley.  But the 85mm guns hit, as did the mortars, and a number of Uwandan infantry and a couple of armored cars were damaged or destroyed.

First hits on the unsuspecting Uwandans. 

In those first seconds, flustered Uwandan infantry fired at ghosts, hitting only one Mugabian soldier, before a second volley of RPGs could be fired, a captured ZU23 and another armored car exploded, then a Uwandan halftrack, automatic weapons fire broke out all along the southern flank of the town.  Tanks and armored cars attempted to get out of each others way, and find the enemy among the chaos.

The Uwandan commander immediately called for air support, believing he was being attacked by a much larger force, but air support was not possible at the moment.  His artillery was moving to follow his force advancing towards B32.  His infantry and armor were on their own for the time being, and insufficient information was being reported to get any idea of what was really happening.

Mugabian infantry continued to advance particularly from the southeast and southwest, with RPGs being fired as fast as possible.

Mugabian infantry advance up the tree-line west of town, eventually
engaging the tail of the Uwanda infantry company on the east-west road.
Infantry advancing through the buildings southeast of town.
In time the Mugabians began to run out of rockets for their RPGs, while the Uwandans started to get an idea of what they were up against, and the tide began to turn.

Uwanda's armor begins to inflict casualties on the Mugabian infantry.

The Mugabian commander understood the changing situation and instructed his forces to withdraw, but caught up in their success, they were slow to respond.  While continuing to inflict some damage, they  had over-extended, began to receive heavy fire, and were rapidly losing their ability to threaten the Uwandan armor.

The turning point, Uwanda gains control.
To the southwest, both 85mm guns were destroyed, and a few infantry casualties were taken, but the infantry platoon withdrew, mostly intact.  To the southeast, the Mugabians were not lucky.  Saladins and Fireflies cast withering machinegun and cannon fire, rapidly inflicting many casualties on the second platoon.  They withdrew as best they could, but were forced to leave their wounded comrades behind.

Second platoon suffers heavy casualties.

Major Beriev stood behind the young Mugabian Officer, nodding his approval as the Muagbian showed his insight, issuing the correct orders, at the correct time.  "This one shows promise" Beriev thought, "We can make a true leader of men from this one".

Despite the infantry losses, this wasa  battle well fought by the Mugabians.  Significant casualties were inflicted on the Uwandan force, and their planned  attack would fall behind schedule.  Mugabia would have a little more time to reinforce their positions elsewhere. And a Soviet advisor would issue a very favorable report.

The Uwandans advance was hampered primarily by the slow speed of the Centurions, which allowed this Mugabian force to have the jump on them.  About the time this battle took place, Uwanda temporarily lost control of the sky, and had no artillery support.  If Mugabian had any significant close air capability, Uwanda could have been in a world of hurt, but losses were still significant, and reorganization would be needed before the attack on Objective B32 took place.



3x Firefly
2x Saladin
3x Ferret
3x M3 1/2t
1x ZU23/2


2x  85mm
26 KIA

Captured by Uwanda

2 POW wounded

I will be taking a little break from the Uwanda/Mubagia War to get some other things done, but plan to come back to this in about a month.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

AAR23: Lessons in the Air

Before the two F5As downed the Migs 15s, they were aware of other Mugabian aircraft that were inbound.  In a few minutes, they sighted two Mig17s at about four miles, slightly below.  The Migs apparently sited the F5s shortly after and adjusted their course.

Near the beginning of the dogfight,
the F5s would veer right and climb.

The F5s began to climb, again hoping to use altitude and speed as an advantage.  Meanwhile, two Mig21s on the deck, looped to the south.  The F5s and Mig17s closed with each other, with the F5s hoping to out climb the Migs and deny them shots.  The F5s didn't quite make it as the Migs lined up two consecutive deflection shots that failed to strike home.

Despite the F5s best effort, the Migs still get shots.

To the south, the Mig21s began to climb.  The Mig17s and F5s continued their encounter with the Migs again lining up shots and getting light damage, but just enough for a critical hit.  The result: engine out.  Though the F5 would escape the dogfight in the air, it would not make it home.

The Migs getting shots for 4 consecutive impulses,
result in the trailing F5 losing its engine.

The Mig21s, still nearly seven miles away, were able to site the fur-ball, but could do nothing about it.  Meanwhile the 1st Mig17 fired its last ammunition, scoring only a light hit and no damage on the F5. 

Now it was the F5's turn to shoot, and it scored a moderate hit that resulted in engine damage and seven turns of power for the first Mig17.  The Migs split in opposite directions, and the F5 fired its last burst scoring enough damage to cause an engine failure in the second Mig.  Two quick kills for the remaining F5.

One Mig trailing smoke and fleeing, the second Mig takes a hit.

Unfortunately, with no missiles or ammo left, the F5 was forced to return to base, yielding control of the sky over Objective B21 to the Mugabian Mig 21s that were soon to arrive.

Total air losses for the first day of the invasion:

2x G91 (one killed, one badly damaged)
4x F5E
2x F5A

3x Mig17
1x Mig21
2x Mig15


I still haven't figured out how to negate the advantage of the Russian guns.  Trying to dance the F5s around at the edges of Mig gun range, waiting for a Mig mistake did not work well.  Mostly it has resulted in costly mistakes by the F5s.  Similarly, trying to make higher speed diving passes, particularly at the Mig17s hasn't worked either.  The Migs17 turn fast enough to get shots as well, and if they hit, their long range high deflection shots do as much or more damage than solid medium range hits with the F5s 20mm.

The only good thing is that the Soviet built planes don't have a lot of ammo, so not so many shots, their western counterparts having almost twice as many shots. The Migs also seem to roll dice better.  Similarly, I have no solution for that either.

The mechanics of the game seem to work, though there are still a bunch of things relating to energy loss that I haven't incorporated yet.  But I'm not really sure if this is a success.  I have managed to get the dogfights onto the table, but there is still a lot of mapping involved in getting the planes onto the table, even after the tactical situation has materialized (more than I would like).

I'm going to continue with it for awhile, see if I can refine it to be more of what I'm looking for.  But I may well end up falling back on one of the published rule sets for longer ranged fights with missiles.

Though this last portion of the air battle over B21 ended in Uwanda's favor, things have not gone well overall in the air.  The ground battle was lost by the time the Mig21s arrived to control the air, so their arrival afforded no benefit to Mugabia, other than making a few Uwandans uncomfortable.

AAR23 concludes the battles of the first strategic turn of Uwanda's invasion of Mugabia.


I have played out the next strategic turn, which has yielded five ground battles and three air encounters. 

I've been working on new 15mm masters, molds and casting.  I am focusing on that at the moment, so there will be a little break before the next set of AARs.

Monday, October 24, 2016

AAR22: Evening Things Out

As battle was joined on the ground at Objective B21, a lone F5A Freedom Fighter flew lazy circles over the battlefield.  At higher altitude, two more F5As slowly orbited the same.  After brief discussion between the pilots, all three aircraft moved to engage the two enemy Mig15s that had failed to join the earlier action.

The two Mugabian Mig15s. 
I really need to get around to printing the decals for these.

The Mig15s were the second type of Jet aircraft flown by the Mugabian air force, replacing a few Ouragons left by the French after independence was gained.  Only a handful were still flying for Mugabia, largely replaced by Mig 17s, and more recently, the Mig21.  Elderly or not, the Mig15s rapidly advanced to perform their duty in the conflict with Uwanda.

Migs pursue the lone F5A.

The two Migs sighted the lone F5A in front of them, and plotted their attack.  At the appointed time, the F5 turned away from the oncoming Migs, but unwittingly allowed himself to get into gun range of the nearest Mig.  The Mig shot and hit, doing light damage, and knocking out the fire control of the F5.  Meanwhile the other two F5s, which were significantly higher and had moved south of the Migs, where nearly in firing position. 

As the Migs chased the first F5, they continued to take shots, but could not get hits, as the F5 opened up more distance between them.  Behind the Migs, the additional pair of F5s lined up for missile shots, but the second F5 could not get a lock-on. 

The pair of F5s moving into position.

With one missile away, the F5s continued to close on the Migs, and as the Aim9B struck and destroyed the first Mig, both F5s lined up shots on the second Mig, which began moving evasively. 

Beeb wants to play airplanes. 
Missile on its way.

The first F5 gunshot did light damage and scored a control hit on the Mig.  The Mig slowly turned into the F5s and dove.  Both F5s got high deflection shots on the Mig either missing, or causing no damage, before the last of the F5s finally got a light hit that with previous damage was just enough to cause structural failure of the Mig15.

The F5s score the first gun hit...
... and the last.

With both Migs shot down, the first, damaged, F5 flew home.  The other two F5s, with no functioning missiles and low on ammo, remained to protect the airspace above Objective B21.

Air losses on the first day thus far:

2x G91 (one killed, one badly damaged)
4x F5E
1x F5A

1x Mig17
1x Mig21
2x Mig15


The F5s ambushed the Migs15 via ground radar and poor sighting rolls on the part of the Migs.  Once the two F5s got behind the Migs, they should never have had a chance, but it still took nine gun shots with the surprisingly crappy 20mm Mk39 cannons on the F5s to kill the second Mig15.  Of the nine, all were medium to short range, only three hit, and one of those for zero damage due to the deflection penalty.

Still the superior climb rate and speed of the F5s finally came into play, allowing the first F5 to get away, after its initial error, and permitting the other F5s to rapidly get into position for the ambush.

Downing the Mig15s bought the ground forces at B21 a few more minutes of breathing room, but more Migs are no doubt on the way, and the F5s don't have much fight left in them.