Monday, 7 August 2017

The War of the Spanish Succession: The Battle of Oudenarde July 11th 1708 (Part 2) Blood is Spilled

The dismounted Dragoons do their bit and give the Bavarian's a nasty surprise (see below):

All is going to plan the Bavarian's are discomforted but have extended out to match the British frontage. A rather ominous brigade formation of French Infantry can be seen in the distance. It has emerged having crossed the French held river bank and is the first sign of French reinforcements (see below):

The Bavarian's charge home with half their force in disorder (see below):

The first round of combat merely serves to disorder the furthest British unit, but a ripe chance is missed to rout the disordered Bavarian unit (a disordered unit that loses a melee routs). The dismounted British Dragoons try and cause 'insult to injury' as the Bavarian cavalry continue with the second round of melee home, but "aim high" (see below):

The swirling melee results in the disordered cavalry of both sides being routed. The "Hinge Factor" here being the remaining British unit is disorder but not the remaining Bavarian. The British unit finds itself in mortal peril (see below):

It all hangs in the balance as a third round of cavalry combat ensues as the British Infantry relentlessly pursue the retreating Swiss who fall back to a French Battalion holding the next hamlet (see middle right of photo). The Allied Hanoverian Brigade can be seen (bottom of the photo) in column and deploying in line to form the centre of the Allied line of battle. The French reinforcements, fresh cavalry and infantry, are clearly visible in the top of the photograph. (see below):

John Churchill (Marlborough) is keen to press the advantage and orders and immediate attack. The resulting firefight checks the first British Infantry battalion. The Swiss meanwhile rally from rout and disorder and form a second line behind the French Infantry (see below):

These early battles are setting the scene as Marlborough (me) is keen to push forward risking gaps and flanks to gain the advantage of a faster rate of deployment, while the wily French general is happy to 'play for time by trading ground and shortening his lines of communication' and slow the British down hoping they will "over extend themselves".

Next: Feeding the Fire

The War of the Spanish Succession: The Battle of Oudenarde July 11th 1708 (Part 1) Opening Moves

The battlefield devoid of troops. Marlborough is trying to steal a march on his French opponent. This is an encounter battle with both sides feeding troops in piecemeal (see below):

The Allied deployment, the British Infantry Brigade (middle right) and supporting Cavalry Brigade (bottom left). The enemy (a battalion of Swiss in French pay annoyingly also wearing "red") lie astride the road and must be pushed aside. Far behind them is a force of French (actually Bavarian) Cavalry (see below):

The French deployment as seen from the Bavarian Cavalry looking as the Swiss who are all out on their own (see below):

A small matter of some Swiss (on the right) standing in the way of the Allied Army, or rather British, (on the left). The battle gets off to a hectic start (see below, as stated before the Swiss are confusingly also wearing red uniforms too):

The firefight starts, a whole Allied (British) Brigade of four infantry battalions against one small Swiss unit (a single battalion) in a village (see below):

As the firefight rages Marlborough deploys his "horse" in a wide movement to secure his flanks against the French "horse" he knows about (see below):

To the relief of Marlborough the The Swiss are quickly "routed". Speed is of the essence if the French are to be stymied in their deployment (see below):

The Swiss can be seen running away, the British in pursuit and more units of the Allied army (Hanoverian) deploy (see below):

The cavalry formations square off, two "impact cavalry" regiments aside position themselves just outside of mutual charge ranges. A Mexican standoff as neither sides wants to lose the advantage of being the "charger". The British "fan out" into extended line while the Bavarian has the more compact supported line. The canny Allied Commander tries the ruse of sending his Dragoons to dismount and take position in the village to enfilade the French (aka Bavarian) in order cavalry to precipitate the French to charge home disadvantaged (aka disrupted) into his extended formation (see below):

The drawback is that the British have to commit to come into range of the enemy cavalry first.

Next: First Blood

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Blood Red Skies: Battle of Britain Skirmish (1940)

A German Flight Leader (Skill 3) with his Wingman (Skill 2) somewhere over Kent (see below):

The enemy, a pair of Spitfires, are spotted in the distance. The German Wingman is hot off the mark (gaining altitude and claiming 'advantageous position', despite being the lower skill level, while the Flight Leader (dice, argh) is a step behind 'neutral - no advantage' (see below):

The formations close and the Spitfires are both in 'advantageous positions'. The RAF have a Leader (Skill 3) and his Wingman (Skill 2) pilots (see below):

The British Wingman who was slightly better placed after the British angled in for the attack, "burns his advantage" to perform a 180 degree turn and the sleepy German Flight Leader suddenly has a Spitfire on his tail and goes to "disadvantaged".

Note: A "converted" single hit on the Me 109 in this position would kill it!

The British attack is accurate but the German pilot dodges it with a skill roll, nevertheless this close miss causes a morale (boom chit) to be acquired. The German Force morale is only "two", one more would mean the Luftwaffe would have to break off (see the "Pathe Newsreel" action shot below):

The Germans decide to scatter, the Me 109's run for cover and regroup "behind" the British Leader. He is not worried as he is in an "advantageous" position and 'out of reach' of the German guns (see below, positioning is always relative to the state of the plane:advantage - neutral - disadvantaged. Generally you need to be in the same or better state to conduct an attack):

The German force splits putting them at a seriously tactical handicap as the Leader no longer has a Wingman to cover his tail. In fact the earlier positioning of the German Wingman was at fault because the Spitfire managed to get on the German Flight Leaders tail (ooops, sorry boss my bad!). The Spitfires roar off in pursuit knowing one more "boom chit" is all they need to secure a good victory (see below, it's not looking too good for the German Luftwaffe):

The Spitfires queue up for the killing shot, out of range for a deflection shot this turn,with the British leader hoping to get a 'tail' and killing shot next turn. The British Wingman climbs for an "advantageous position" just in case his boss misses (see below):

"Bang! Bang! Bang!" 20mm canon strikes the around the British Leader's plane. "Where the hell did that come from? Where the hell is my Wingman?" Did anyone notice the retreating German Wingman had quietly climbed to an "advantageous position"? Planes in advantage go fist, but the British Wingman didn't cover the Leaders tail from behind but moved in after the German Leader. That left the German Wingman an opportunity to burn his advantage, flip his plane and perform a turn grater than 90 degrees (in fact anything up to 180 degrees) and with full throttle he is on the Spitfire's "six". As the Spitfire was in a neutral position the Me 109 on his tail puts him to disadvantaged. One "boom chit" straight away but a very important pilot skill/plane manoeuvrability roll to make or the British Leader will be going down (see below):

Six dice (pilot skill 3 + Spitfire manoeuvre rating) are rolled and a single six will save the Spitfire, odds on, but the day goes to the Luftwaffe as flames envelope the Spitfire. That awards a second "boom chit". It is all too much for the British Wingman and he heads for home, discretion being the better part of valour now,  after all he a relative "rookie" and is seriously out numbered two to one (see below):

Wow I never expected that! Intense is not the word for it. Go download the free rules and play it is my advice ;) Meanwhile after rummaging in the attic I find that my hoarding talent for "something that might come in useful one day" has paid off in the 1/144 aircraft department (see below, I seem to have stocked up with cheap Revell 1/144 and interesting Zevezda 1/144 planes):

Wartime "Battle of Britain" (model) aircraft production is now commencing!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

"Blood Red Skies": Me 109's Continued

Stage 1: Airfix Primer Undercoat (see below):

Stage 2: Vallejo Brown Wash (see below):

Brown Wash Close-Up (see below):

Stage 3-5: Yellow Nose and Grey Camo Markings (see below):

Stage 6: Decals (see below):

Staffel Painting Progress (see below):

Staffel consolidation and unique markings (see below):
Useful web links:

Stage 7: Paint in early (aka Battle of Britain) Canopy Strut (see below):

Next: Varnish - Matte, Satin or Gloss?

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Go Tell It to the Spartans (in 15mm) Part 1 Painting description

My 15mm Spartan Army needs an upgrade. As per many DBA armies they came from the "minimum number of packs of figures" because I paint slow attitude. The first rank of the "phalanx" are from three packets of Chariot Miniatures HOG20 traverse Spartan crest, which means they are all officers. This bugs me so a while back (read years ago) I got some normal hoplites to "add variety". The time has come to paint them (see below):

Coated in my preferred primer *Airfix 01 Grey Undercoat) then experimented bringing in a technique I used in 28mm figure painting. A brown wash (Vallejo) which softened the edges followed by a black wash to add definition (see below)

Next I shade coloured the figure, but learning from Tabletop Minions on a previous post. I intend to paint as few layers as possible to leave the metal as c;lean as possible. So I intend to put down a strong mid-tome and minimal highlight (see below, base coated):

If this goes well I will have another four more bases of officers to spread out into sixteen bases of hoplites ;) I only hope the new style of painting goes with the old style of painting.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Auible Books review .. and crazed mini-rant about "THE NAVAL CRISIS"

2015/2016: Prior to New Job [20 Books]

It all started with a external business consultant where I then worked introducing me to the CD format book for the car. Albeit a rather strange book called:

1: How to to Think Yourself Rich (Business Theory)

Which was state of the art thinking circa 1910 (I kid you not). I then found Audible as I was having trouble reading through "7 Habits of Highly Effective People". Listening was easier than reading certain "text book types" for me. I then found the "bug".

Another fourteen books followed, mainly business(ish) (see below, exclude the four from the second picture below that also appear in 2016 new job):


2: Connections 2013 Conference (Wargaming Simulation)
3: Connections 2014 Conference (Wargaming Simulation)
4: Connections 2015 Conference (Wargaming Simulation)
5: SCRUM (Project Managing/Computing)

2016: Starting New Job (Longer Commute) [7 Books]

1: SCRUM (Project Management/Computing)
2: Connections 2016 Conference (Wargaming Simulation)
3: Superbetter (Games/Simulations/Computing)
4: Gamify (Games/Computing)
5: Rising Sun (History - WWII Pacific)
6: Brief History of Time (Science)
7: Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors (History WW2 Pacific)

8: Edge of Uncertainty (WIP)

2017: Same Job [26 Books]

1: Edge of Uncertainty - Science
2: Japanese Destroyer Captain – WWII War Pacific 1939-45
3: MIT Artificial Intelligence Machine Learning – Science/Computing
4: Ship of Ghosts – WWII War Pacific
5: The Victorian Internet - Science
6: Miracle at Midway – WWII War Pacific 1942
7: Algorithms to Live By – Science/Computing
8: Neptune’s Inferno – WWII War Pacific 1942/43
9: What We Cannot Know - Science

10: Fleet at Floodtide– WWII War Pacific 1944-45
11: Hackers – Computer Science Pioneers
12: The War That Never Was – History Modern
13: Frazzled (Mindfulness) - Psychology
14: Our Mathematical Universe – Science
15: Why France Collapsed – WWII 1940 History
16: Mindfulness for Women: - Psychology
17: To Rule the Waves: (Naval History)
18: Elon Musk – Innovation/Science/Start-Up/Lean
19: Move Fast and Break Things – Science/Lean/Agile/Start-Up
20: Battle of Dogger Bank – History WWI Naval North Sea
21: The Art of Being Invisible – Computing/Science
22: The Crisis of the Naval War (Jellicoe) – WWI Naval War History
23: Crystal Clear Communication – Business
24: Cyber Security – Computing/Science/Politics
25: Killing the Bismarck – WW2/Naval Atlantic
26: UK Connections 2013

27: Outliers – Science (WIP)

A grand total 53 Books I would not of otherwise read!

All of them were in some way engaging and interesting but one book was alarming! No not the France 1940 book Why France Collapsed (although it did have many strange tales to tell), it was the Jellicoe one: The Crisis of the Naval War.

Scary in that for the 8 hours and 20 minutes of its telling, the first 1 hour twenty minutes described the various Admiralty Departments and Committees "than ran the war" and why the Admiralty was a cumbersome beast to change in a direction it did not want to go. There was a a further hour describing how awkward it was to spare destroyers for anti-submarine work and how clever we were routing ships around the trade roots (cleverly avoiding the delays of convoy congestion - merchant captains would never be able to sail in a formation akin to a battleship squadron and its meticulous station keeping). Jellicoe was a brilliant naval officer (specialising in battleship gunnery) but in his summation of year of crisis he barely mentioned but in passing the convoy system that dramatically turned the tide (less than an hour). The drop off in sinkings once the convoy system was in place told the tale. He focused on developing [ineffective] hydroponic detection (not ASDIC that came much later in between wars) via trawler flotillas and Q-ships to hunt the U-Boats by luring them into attacking them. Detailing types of mines, the efforts to place armaments on merchants ships and statistics of training merchant seamen to fire them.

However the long and the short of it was that without the convoy system the submarine was an invisible killer than no warship could find. By guarding the merchant ships the U-Boats at least had to reveal themselves in attack and thus open themselves up in turn to be attacked. An even more salient point was that "convoys" were actually as hard to find by the act of concentration of many vessels in a tight area as a single ship. The oceans were suddenly denuded of targets. Jellicoe seemed to be the wrong man for the challenge and he had little to say about his political masters forcing the change (Lloyd George).

In all fascinating but scary at the same time, I literally did noy believe what I was hearing (the book was published in 1920).

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Gripping Beast: Generic Dark Age Warriors

Perhaps not much to look at just now but this is an interesting collection of useful light troops from the Gripping Beast Plastics range. Some forty figures all told, with sixteen slingers (skirmish), sixteen javelins (skirmish) and eight miscellaneous unarmoured spear/sword/axe (see below):

These filler troops can be used in the Saxon, Viking or Norman "order of battle." A very good buy IMHO!#

I am looking forward to some "1066 and All That" action (or at the very least painting)! 

Friday, 7 July 2017

Conquest Games: Normans

I cannot complain with respect to the number of figures you get in the Conquest Game's Norman Foot Soldiers box, forty four all told. Smiles all round. This immediately helps flesh out the "Invading French" (aka Norman) Army of 1066 'Saga' Campaign (see below, early days on the painting front, initial basing courtesy of UHU glue waiting for a spray painted undercoat):  

To complement the Foot Knights twenty four Archers (see below, as per the Foot Knights waiting for an undercoat):

All that remains is to pick up a couple of boxes of Mounted Knights to complete the Norman "order of battle".

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Painting Tray Update: Planes and Ships

1/72 scale Airfix Fw-190 is finally finished (I say finally but I [we] know that there really should be swastikas on the tail, but thanks to European law they are now illegal to sell even on historical models (!), so I would have to "free hand them" which I frankly bottled doing), so it should now be hung up like the Star Wars TIE Fighter (see below):

A slightly bigger (1/48) Airfix Spitfire Vb, now repaired with "odds and sods" from the spare box. The 20mm cannon, rear landing wheel, aerial and "watch your six" mirror, Requires a bit of touch up painting (see below):

A hive of ship building activity (Seventeenth Century style) as the paper, balsa and cocktail fleet takes shape. WIP includes 4 French, 2 Dutch and 2 British "man-o-war" (see below):

Note: The ship building has had to been put on hold to be resumed at a later date. The dockside crowds are chanting "We want forty!" But the wife is pointing to some DIY painting jobs to be done first!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

1/200 Russian SB-2 Zvezda Plane

While walking through a model shop one day I came across a small lonely (but beguiling) Russian light/fast bomber (see below):

"Gawd Bless Zvezda" for catching my eye, stirring my curiosity and needless to say opening my purse! I am sure I will find a use for it (eventually).