There’s a real Panther in Central Massachusetts, and he’s got many friends!

On Veteran’s Day 2018, I decided that I must see the American Heritage Museum in Hudson, MA.  It has been known for aircraft, but recently acquired the Jacques M. Littlefield collection from California. They had a “soft opening” on their new tank and AFV collection, and it looked good on FaceBook.  They also offered vets a free admission, so I thought it would be a good experience.

I had no idea I was about to see the most unbelievable collection of functioning military vehicles in the US.

There was a short but very good video on Massachusetts and its role in the Revolutionary War.  Then, a door opens and you find yourself in a WWI trench and a multi-visual presentation ensues.

Next, a door opens, and it is early WWII.  A British Vickers Mark V is on display, along with a Mercedes staff car.  There will soon be a Panzer I as well.

Another door opened to a walkway around a giant hall – and my jaw dropped multiple times.

12 HALLWA OVERVIEW
One side of the massive exhibit hall is all WWII
36 MODERN GALLERY
The other side goes from Korea to the present

So I was not expecting that many rare tanks, to include a functional Panzer V Panther.  It had been recovered from a lake on the Eastern Front and fully restored.  I will share some more pictures below, but these do not do this collection justice.  It was amazing to see these so close up.  There were very few placards on the vehicles, but luckily I know a lot of them because of my historical and war gaming interests as well as my background in the Army.  If I misidentify any here, it’s on me.

A centerpiece of the collection is the Panther versus a Soviet T-34/85.  There is a screen that has a multi-visual presentation of the two opposing tank commanders, with sounds, effects, and more.  It concludes with the story of the recovered Panther.

All major European and North African campaigns were represented.  First, North Africa:

Then Italy:

There was yet another T-34 – an older one:

23 T34
T-34

There was a nice collection of UK tanks that I had never seen before:

There were of course many WWII American tanks and tank destroyers:

Interestingly, there was a Jagdpanzer 38 (Hetzer) that was key in the What a Tanker game that I played the night before – I had seen one before, but not so soon after I had used it in a game!

25 GERMAN HETZER
Jagdpanzer 38 (Hetzer) tank destroyer

There was also an ME-109!

27 ME109
ME-109

An impressive display of Flak 88 AA gun and accompanying equipment was nicely.  This could have been the gun that wounded my late Uncle Joseph Delaney in his B-17 in 1943.

29 88 FLAK
88 Flak Display

There were a couple of Russian vehicles – an ISU-122 and an SU-100 displayed.

My grandfather, Marcus C. Delaney, drove an M-24 Chaffee light tank in WWII.  The museum put their Chaffee in the Korean War section, as it did serve there as well.  I was feeling somber seeing my grandfather’s tank on Veteran’s Day, and I miss him.  He was a hero to me, and a big reason I went into West Point and the US Army.

30 KOREA
The Korean War display
31 M24 CHAFFEE
M24 Chaffee, my grandfather drove this model in WWII
31A M24 CHAFFEE
Trying to take a selfie while feeling somber is a tough thing.  I do miss my Papa (Marcus Delaney).

The next section was dedicated to the Vietnam War.

For the Cold War, there was an East German T-72.

Next, the “hot” war that occurred during my service, the Gulf War.  I did not go to the theater, and performed my duties stateside.  I often say that they had a war and did not invite me.

Finally, the War on Terror, which had a USMC M1A2 Abrams tank (though I am not exactly sure which variant it was).  It was hit by an IED in Fallujah in 2006.  There is a touching video presentation of the event and its impact on the crew and the tank commander’s widow.  RIP.

35 WAR ON TERROR 911 GIRDER
A girder from the Twin Towers
35A WAR ON TERROR ABRAMS
The USMC Abrams M1A2

The museum truly honors veterans, and I was humbled to walk through the many, many displays.  To have one in Massachusetts like this is a really special thing.  The museum will close from November 25th to April 15th, so there are a couple of weekends left to try to go before spring.

I will be coming back here for sure.  Thanks to the American Heritage Museum for such a great homage to our history and our veterans.

37 brochure37a brochure

“What A Tanker” Eastern Front battle at November Mass Pikemen Session

On November 10, 2018, the Mass Pikemen held their monthly gaming session with a game of What a Tanker set on the Eastern Front in 1942.  The scenario was a 1942/1943 one where a Soviet force consisting of 1 KV-1a heavy tank, 2 T-26 M1939 light tanks, 2 BA-64 armored cars, and a couple of Gaz trucks was surrounded and needed to break out through the Axis lines. It was my first chance to get all of my recently painted tanks on the tabletop.

Initially opposing the Soviets was a German force consisting of  2 Panzer IVd tanks and a 1 Panzer 38(t) tank.  Reinforcements were staggered for the Axis, and they consisted of a 1 Panzer IIIN tank, a Hetzer tank destroyer (Jagdpanzer 38), and an Italian M13/41.  It was imperative for the Soviets to exit the other side of the board with the KV-1 and the two trucks as quickly as possible.

The Germans moved on first – and one of the T-26’s was able to early on get a couple of shots in on one of the Panzer IVd’s, with the second one knocking it out.  This was a fun event for 7-year old Jack Burns who was playing in his first war game ever.  He was so excited to knock out the German tank.

1 Mike's Panzer IV death
The Panzer IIIN moves on the board as a reinforcement.  The second Panzer IVd takes advantage of its burning comrade’s smoky wreck.

The Soviets KV-1a was slow to move forward, and the T-26’s outran it.  The Panzer 38(t) moved up to the ruined factory and took aim at one of the T-26’s in the open.  It fired, and missed the Soviet.  Returning fire, the T-26 hit and knocked out the Panzer 38 (t).  Two down for the Axis!  Shortly after this, the other Panzer IVd peeked out from behind its brother, only to suffer the same fate from the plucky T-26.  Three down now!

2 Chris, Jared, Jack
Chris Smedile, Jared Burns, and Jack Burns advance their vehicles.  The Panzer 38 (t) is behind the wall in the center in a good defensive position, facing the T-26 that was to knock it out.
3 Chris C, Mike, Jared, Jack
Chris Comeau and Mike Morgan (and later myself) played the Axis.  This view shows the length of the board the Soviets needed to cross.  Each fighting vehicle had a magnetic dashboard, and its own colored dice.  Command Dice were always white though.

Let me add a side note here on my rules modifications for this scenario.  What a Tanker does not have rules for either armored cars or trucks.  I modified them here for the armored cars, which I made Fast (easier to always move), and Small (tougher to hit).  For their Armor, I only gave them a 1, which meant that any hit from a tank gun would very likely be enough to kill the BA-64.  As the BA-64 only had a machine gun, I gave them 2 modified Strike dice.  The modifications were twofold.  First, their range was 24″ (half that of the tanks).  Secondly, the BA-64’s would hit on a 6, but the only likely result of such a hit would be to force the target to button up if it was not already.  If the BA-64 player rolled double-6’s, I would allow 2 strike dice.  So the BA-64’s were harassers at best.  I had the Gaz trucks move last, with 2 D6 of movement (no command dice).  If they were hit, they were destroyed.

4 Chris celebrates his kill
Chris celebrates his second kill, while the Panzer 38 (t) burns.  You can see here behind the BA-64’s a D12, which I used for initiative rolls instead of D6’s and re-rolling for ties.  It worked much easier and was much less confusing.

Back to the battle!

At this low point, they got reinforcements in consecutive turns.  First, the Panzer IIIN came on in turn 2.  In turn 4, the Axis got the Hetzer and the M13/41.  The tide of battle was turning.

5 Hetzer chases KV-1a
The Hetzer ignores the BA-64 and sets out to hunt the KV-1a.

The Panzer IIIN moved up to the hill, awaiting the T-26 and a truck.  The German successively took both out, leaving the Soviets only with one T-26, one truck, the KV-1a, and the BA-64’s. The M13/41 rolled badly, and hid behind the Panzer IVd wrecks for better dice rolls, even taking humiliating fire from the BA-64’s that caused it to have to button up.

5 truck death
In the foreground, a Gaz truck burns.  The crew of the Panzer IIIN behind the hill looks at the burning T-26 in front of it.  In the left center, the Panzer 38 (t) burns, as do 2 Panzer IVd’s in the right rear.  On the left, the showdown between the lumbering KV-1a and the Hetzer is about to begin.

The Hetzer moves fast, and tried to move around to the rear of the KV-1a.  It succeeded, and missed with its initial rear shot.  The KV-1a immediately turned the tables, turning 180°, and rotating its massive turret towards the diminutive tank destroyer.  The Soviet again got initiative, firing not once, not twice, but three times – and unbelievably missing on all three attempts!  The saving grace for the Hetzer was its Small characteristic, which meant the KV-1a needed a “7” instead of a “6” to hit.

The Hetzer then got initiative and rolled its Command Dice well enough to fire but not to maneuver towards the Soviet behemoth’s vulnerable rear.  It decided to take a chancy shot at the frontal armor of the KV-1a.  It got 5 hits on 7 dice (needed a “5” or “6” to hit).  The Soviet player got zero saves, and the KV-1a was knocked out.

6 KV burns and truck faces m13 41
The KV-1a burns on the right, while the Hetzer and the M13/41 hunt the last truck (on the left).  The BA-64 attempted a ramming attack on the Hetzer to give the truck a chance to escape.

The BA-64 ramming attack did nothing to the Hetzer, which dispatched the armored car with one shot.  Meanwhile, the Italian M13/41 took out the last truck.  The surviving BA-64 was destroyed by the Italian, leaving the Panzer IIIN and a damaged T-26 in a showdown.  With the loss of the trucks and the KV-1a, the game was called an Axis victory.

7 final
Mike Morgan victoriously surveys the smoky battlefield.

The game was a fun one for winners and losers, with highs and lows for both.  Next time, I will probably give the Soviets a second KV-1a.

The next Mass Pikemen’s gaming session will be on Saturday, December 1st from 2-8 PM, at 110 Pleasant Street in East Brookfield, MA.  This is a change from our previous 3-9 PM time slot.  We will be playing What a Tanker again!

Please join us, and share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below!

Let’s do some tanks! Soviet KV-1a platoon for “What a Tanker”

I have been working on getting a fleet of tanks for the What a Tanker game from the Too Fat Lardies company.   It’s a great game and has been a true hit with my gaming club, the Mass Pikemen.  I have been working on building up a flexible group of tanks, and so far I am up to 71 tanks in 15mm/1:100 scale – not including ones needing assembly and painting.

My sources have been eBay, hobby stores, and Facebook.  If I waited to paint them all, I would never do another project, so finding some mostly painted resin (and reasonably priced) models from Wargame Models in Ohio has helped shorten the process.  Mostly I just washed and varnished the ones I have gotten from WMIO.

One group acquisition was from another source on eBay – it was a resin Soviet KV-1 platoon consisting of 5 KV-1’s heavy tanks, 2 T-26 light tanks, 2 BA-64 armored cars, and 2 trucks.  I do not know the manufacturer.  They had been given some sort of dark brown coating with splashes of lighter brown.  They color-wise did not look particularly like Soviet tanks from 1941.  This platoon is the main subject of this blog post.

0 Group of tanks
My tank fleet grows – the KV-1 platoon is in the upper left.
1 KV platoon unpainted
The platoon as I got it in the brown colors.  I decided to make the heavy tanks as the KV-1a version.  All of the turrets were not magnetized, which I did do as well as part of this project.
2 magnets
I removed the resin post on the turret and drilled out 1/8″ holes in it and widened the preexisting hole in the hull.  I got some nice neodymium 1/8″ x 1/16″ magnets for magnetizing from totalElement.com.

It was necessary to use a Sharpie to mark one end of the 1/8″ magnets such that I inserted them in the correct alignment (I did not want the turrets “blowing off” prematurely!).  I glued the magnets into the holes with Gorilla Glue.

3 magnet turret KV1a
Each turret originally had this post that I removed and drilled underneath.
4 drill and magnet turret KV1a
Magnetized K-V1a turret
5 BA 64 repair
BA-64 turret showing my repair of the gun.  It was thin resin.  The other resin gun broke later as well so these are not sturdy.

I needed to find a way to paint the figures without damaging the paint, and tanks were new to me.  I decided to take advantage of the magnets on the turrets here.  I used small nails inserted into styrofoam blocks (the kind used for flower crafts).  For the hulls, I masked the tracks for secondary painting, and such that I could hold them safely.

6 priming turrets
How many turrets can fit on the head of a nail?
7 priming hulls with masking
The hulls masked for priming.

I airbrushed/primed the figures with Vallejo “Surface Primer – Russian Green”.

8 all primed
The platoon primed.

I then gave the figures an airbrushed base coat with a thinned coat of Vallejo Panzer Series “Camouflage Olive Green”.

9 all primed
The platoon base coated.
10 close up base coat
Close up shot of one of the KV-1a hills after base coating.

These looked too drab, and not very Soviet green looking.  I moved on to adding Vallejo Mecha Color “Green” with a light airbrushing.  Next, I used a brush to dry brush Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Green” on the figures.  I was able to then give the figures an appropriate light green by using Citadel “Biel-Tan Green” as a shade.  It worked!

11 contrast after light green and Biel-tan
Contrast the before shading (turret on left) and after (turret on right).  The light green helped give depth to the shaded turrets and hulls.  I darkened everything with an additional shade – Citadel “Athonian Camoshade”.
12 close up hulls after green wash
Before the “Athonian Camoshade”…
13 after wash with athonian camoshade
…and after adding the darker shade.

At this point, I removed the masking and painted the tracks.  I then wanted to add some mud, dirt, and dust with pigments.  I used several Vallejo pigments and binders (all listed at the end of this post).  These models are small, (about 3″ long by 1½” wide by 1¾” high so I wanted to give enough weathering without overwhelming them.

14 adding the pigments
An in-progress pic of weathering one of the hulls.
15 ready for varnish
All of the weathering done and the vehicles ready for varnish.
16 varnish hull
KV-1a hull varnished.
17 t26 varnish hull
T-26 hull varnished.
18 all done
The platoon nice and dirty with the mud of Mother Russia.

This was my first attempt at painting any WWII tank models.  I think I can do better, but early war Soviet tanks are pretty simple, as they had not usually added any markings.  It will not be my last, and I am hoping that I get better with more tries.  This project also is my first submission for Azazel’s November Community painting challenge – Mechanical November ’18.  If you have not checked out his blog, it’s worth a look.  Also, my next few posts will showcase tanks, so I hope you enjoy.

Now for some eye candy!

19 5 KV1a
All five KV-1a’s with different angles to view.  Ignore the giant tetrahedrons please!
20 5 KV1a
Front view
21 5 KV1a rear
Rear view.  I “mudded” them up a bit here.
22 the platoon
The combat vehicles move out.
23 one of each
One of each AFV I painted plus 2 trucks.
24 KV1a in town
KV-1a in an urban setting.
25 T26 in town
T-26 in town (what’s left of it anyway).
26 BA 64 in town
BA-64.

I hope that you enjoyed this post.  Please let me know your thoughts and feedback below in the comments section.

Thanks for looking!

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, WASHES, AND FLOCKING USED:

  1. Citadel “Imperium Primer”
  2. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Russian Green”
  3. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  4. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  5. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  6. Vallejo Panzer Series “Camouflage Olive Green”
  7. Vallejo Mecha Color “Green”
  8. Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Green”
  9. Citadel “Biel-Tan Green” (shade)
  10. Citadel “Athonian Camoshade” (shade)
  11. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  12. Elmer’s White Glue
  13. Vallejo “Pigment Binder”
  14. Vallejo “Burnt Umber” (pigment)
  15. Vallejo “Industrial Splash Mud” (weathering)
  16. Vallejo “Light Sienna” (pigment)
  17. Vallejo “Light Slate Grey” (pigment)
  18. Gorilla Glue
  19. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Thanks again for looking and for your feedback!

Fort Devens Game Day Recap

On October 20th, there was a Devens game day at the former Ft. Devens in Massachusetts.  I was interested in attending for a couple of reasons.  First, I am trying to get to more gaming events in the area.  Second, I was stationed at Fort Devens while I was a member of the 39th Engineer Battalion (Combat) from 1989-1992, so I was intrigued to see the post again in its new configuration.  Fort Devens was closed as an active duty US Army post in the 1990’s, and Massachusetts has redeveloped the post by bringing in a lot of industry.  Still, some of the post is used by the reserves.  In fact my old battalion area seems to have been saved and redeveloped for the reserves.  That area is all fenced off now and I did not want to photograph the area and draw unwanted attention to doing so!  Other buildings and barracks areas are untouched since closure, with actual trees growing out of the edifices yielding an apocalyptic/Walking Dead look.  This blog post is a bit late, but I did get wrapped up in the baseball ALCS and the World Series, which were both won by the great Boston Red Sox!

The actual game sessions were held at the Fort Devens Museum.  There were three games there – a WWI game, a naval game, and a pulp game.  I did not get any pictures of the naval game but you can read about in an excellent post here.  I focused on playing a WWI game (given that it is close to the centenary of the end of that conflict).  The board is entirely scratch built, and I believe the rules were “Trench Warfare”, but I am not sure.  The game master, Bill, did an excellent job, and I wanted to share his board as it was excellent.  The event clearly tried to recruit younger gamers, which was admirable for growing our hobby.

1 WWI
Starting side for the Allies.  From far to near, the attackers were US Marines, British, and French.  It was a bit ahistorical but a fun game. 
2 WWI
While I commanded the French, I had two British tanks – a Mark IV and a Whippet.
3 WWI
Another view of the Allies starting positions.
4 WWI
A truly beautiful scratch built table.  Bill (the game master) is pictured here standing.  He did a nice job creating a trench works system with 2′ x 2′ modular sections.
5 WWI
Some of the German forces – they were to engage the USMC is a series of bloody hand-to-hand battles.
6 WWI
Advancing my poilus and tanks
7 WWI
An engaged group.  Bill kept the game moving (unlike the actual WWI)!
8 WWI
The Germans move up, and get hit by very lucky hits by my French 75mm artillery.
9 WWI
The hand-to-hand battle
10 WWI
Taking out the forward observation posts and then getting torched by a German flamethrower
11 WWI
German artillery disables my Mark IV

The game ended in a draw, but I enjoyed it a lot.

There was also a pulp game that I did not play in, but that looked interesting.

12 Pulp Alley
Pulp Alley Game
13 Pulp Alley
Druids and Nazis?  And Stonehenge?

Lastly, I looked around the museum and looked for anything related to my old unit.  The only thing I saw was a donation from a former lieutenant from the 1977 time frame.  I do think I could find a few things myself.  Interestingly, I am a local, and the 39th had members who for the most part live in other parts of the country.  I do commend the museum for trying to resurrect the posts history from WWI until closure.

15 39th pic
The only mention of the 39th

My thanks to the folks who set up this event and to the folks at the museum!

Nice interview with Buck Surdu at BARRAGE!

Many of you who follow my blog have read about Buck Surdu, my good friend and author of multiple wargaming rules systems.  Of course, he is a fellow West Pointer so that’s in his favor!  He is a major shaker and mover in the H.A.W.K.’s (Harford County Weekly Kriegspielers) in Maryland, and has been involved with BARRAGE for years.

Little Wars TV interviewed Buck, and I thought some of you would find this interesting.

 

My BARRAGE XXII Recap, September 2018

The H.A.W.K.’s held their BARRAGE convention in Havre de Grace, Maryland at the end of September 2018.  They had over 70 gaming events, and it had been on my “hoping to attend” list for most of 2018.  Also on my wish list was to be able to run my “Attack of the Warbots” game using the Combat Patrol™ card-based system.   I was hoping to attend but was unsure (for several reasons) up to a week beforehand as to whether I was going to be able to go or not.  In the end, the stars aligned, and I also got to run my game!  Box checked!

There was a lot going on here – and I saw a lot of great games.  The following is just a snippet, through my eyes, of the experiences that I had.  The games and the game masters that I saw did an incredible job.  Truly impressive.  Certainly, the H.A.W.K.’s put on a great gaming convention and my kudos to all of them and the other game masters.

I started on Friday with running my latest iteration of “Attack of the Warbots” with my Archive, Mega Miniatures, and Wargames Supply Dump figures, all of which are OOP.  I had seven players, with three on the Warbot side, and four on the defending side.  Of note, I was lucky to have had as players both Buck Surdu (my old West Point buddy and the author of the Combat Patrol™  rules) and Dave Wood (my old West Point roommate who introduced me to tabletop gaming in 1982).  I also had the good fortune to have Greg Priebe playing alongside Buck – and Greg wrote the Star Wars supplement for Combat Patrol™.  Buck is very fond of ducks (in a good way of course), and was in command of Duck Wader and some Star Ducks, while Dave was on the Warbot side with a couple of Mark 1 Sphere tanks.  Greg commanded the Aphids and the Frinx.  A few other players were there but I did not get their names (sorry).  The Warbots needed to recapture a lost Mark 1 before the defenders could repair it and get it off the board.

09282018 BARRAGE Attack of the Warbots
My flyer for the “Attack of the Warbots”
1 Barrage my game set up
Game set up from the attacking Warbot side.  I got set up early, which is why there seems to be an empty hall, but it filled up quickly.
2 inital casualties
Early action – the defenders gained the initiative and the Red Warbot squad on the left of the photo took casualties from effective Star Duck and Aphid fire.  The Warbots smartly maneuvered a Mark 1 tank to attempt to breach the rusty steel wall defenses.
3 initial casualties
Closer view of previous action showing Aphids in a bad place.
4 warbot explodes
Aphids strike back!  They get a critical hit on a Red Warbot’s power plant, triggering a catastrophic explosion (smoke plume), which damaged several of its nearby comrades.  This made this fire team have to make multiple morale checks (as shown by the red beads).  One of these pinned the team in place for the remainder of the game.  As the critical hit catastrophically destroyed the smoky Warbot, that plume would restrict line of sight for that pinned team as well!
5 wall about to go...
Dave Wood prepares to destroy the wall with his Mark 1’s Death Ray, and…
6 wall is breached
…the wall is breached, frying a few defending Star Ducks.
7 duck casualties mount
Roberker moves towards the breach.
8 Duck Wader atttacks
Meanwhile, on the other flank, Duck Wader used a Force Leap to engage the Green Warbots in melee.  He was able to give the Aphids on that side a brief respite.  Wader got initiative again before the Warbots, and was able to Force Leap back to safety after damaging several Warbots with his light saber.
9 tank stopped
Back on the right, the Warbots get one of their two Mark 1’s within a few inches of the building where the captured tank was being repaired.  SSG Canvasback (yes, he has a name!), the 2nd Squad Leader, fires his Quackers Repeating Blaster and got a lucky hit, knocking out the tank’s left auto cannon sponson.   This allowed enough suppressive fire cover for the Star Duck Squad led by SSG Gadwall to close assault the tank with satchel charges…
10 duck close assault
…and successfully knock out the Mark 1!!  Roberker, a giant flame-throwing robot was following closely behind, but another critical hit from Greg Priebe’s Frinx immobilized the giant robot, stalling the attack.
11 stopping the Warbots
At the same time on the left flank, Duck Wader again Force-leaped over the wall into the midst of the Green Warbots, and launched a Force-Blast attack.  This sent waves of destructive energy through the closely-crowded Warbots.  Many were damaged, and one even had a power plant explosion, which caused even further damage to that team and multiple morale checks due to a second explosion.  These morale checks eventually disrupted the attack as the Green Warbots either ran off the table, or got into a massive traffic jam at the breach.  Here, you see Duck Wader after he had dispatched the Warbots.  He was wounded, but had wreaked havoc on the Warbots.
12 happy defenders
At this point, the other Warbot tank was immobilized, and the game was called as a defenders’ victory.  It was a near-run thing as the defenders were unlucky in rapidly repairing their captured Mark 1, but they would have been able to complete the repairs.  Here are some of the happy defenders – Rob Dean, Buck Surdu, Jim Stutzman, and Greg Priebe.

I then turned into a player, and decided to try a Lion Rampant game ably run by Philip Jones.  We were the Vikings who had seized prelates, monks, and treasure in a raid, and were trying to escape to their longship, while being pursued and blocked by Welsh troops.

13 Lion Rampant
“Llandaff is in flames, the bishop and his monks carried off- but the men of Glywysing have the Vikings trapped between two forces as they try to get back to their ships. Will they break through or will Bishop Cyfeilliog be rescued?”
14 Lion Rampant roster
My forces
15 Lion Rampant Vikings move out
Our initial deployment – Welsh would block us and harry us from the rear.
16 Lion Rampant Dave Wood prepares
The Welsh harry from the rear and Dave Wood prepares for battle.
17 Lion Rampant running
Vikings moving out.
18 Lion Rampant running
Crossing the river and all looks good…
19 Lion Rampant traffic jam
…until Welsh forces combine to slow and stop us.
20 Lion Rampant monk escapes
A monk escapes!

Our casualties mounted!  The game points were tallied, and rightly called for the Welsh.  I did find the system fun, and Philip ran the game in a very fun way.

After this, I was walking around, and was recruited for a “What a Tanker” game run by Brian Lipscomb.  It was set in North Africa, 15mm scale, with the British set against the Germans and Italians.  Brian asked if I wanted to have a German or Italian tank.  Being a sucker for a challenge, I of course said Italian.  I was given a Fiat M13/40 tank.

21 What a Tanker start
My M13/40 tank sheet.  Brian did a nice job with using magnets for managing data on the sheets.
22 What a Tanker M13 chasing the Honey
I am pursuing a rear shot on a British Stuart “Honey”.  He slipped away, for the moment…
23 What a Tanker M13 goodby Crusader 2
Don Hogge pursued me in his Crusader II to take the pressure off the Honey.  Don shot at me and missed.  I rotated, fired, and smoked his tank.
24 What a Tanker M13 goodby Honey
This allowed me to renew my approach on the Honey.  I got hit with minor damage to my running gear.  I returned fire, and got the Honey with my first shot.  That’s two tanks!  Later, I finished off a Matilda II for my third kill (on the deep left) – and all this with an Italian M13/40!

Needless to say, I really enjoyed this game and the mechanics.  Brian is a superb GM.  More on that in a bit…but this was a fun way to end Friday!

On Saturday, I had really looked forward to playing Buck’s Sea Lion game.  There weren’t enough players, so it was called, BUT I wanted to share the unbelievably beautiful game set up.  Buck will run this game at Fall In and you can read about a play test of the game here.

25 Sea Lion

26 Sea Lion
Rear of the table
27 Sea Lion women
Some Women’s Land Army troops
28 Sea Lion beach
Great scenery – these are the Germans assaulting the beach.
29 Sea Lion beach
Another view of the beach and wharves.  Landing craft in front held two 35(t) tanks, and a Panzer III.
30 Sea Lion shops
Nice bars with British sailors and folks hanging out…or are they?

So again, I wandered around, and saw another Brian Lipscomb “What a Tanker” game, this time set on the Eastern Front.  After Friday, I was happy to give it another go.  I was teamed with two others who had not previously played the game.  We had a certain number of points, so I volunteered to take a lesser tank (a T-70 light tank) so that they could have better ones – in this case a T-34 and an SU-76.

31 What a Tanker T70
Love what he did with these data sheets and the magnets!  This is for the T-70.
32 What a Tanker T70 kill
I maneuvered alongside the T-34 and put the killing round into a Panzer IV.  Kill #4 for the weekend.

At this point, Don Hogge and Buck Surdu visited the table put up a dollar each for anyone to kill me!  Talk about motivation!  We were being outmaneuvered by the Germans at this point, so I moved back and used my kill points to upgrade my T-70 to an SU-85.

33 What a Tanker SU85 upgrade
My upgrade to an SU-85.

The scenario that Brian devised also had infantry (controlled by him as the GM and using a random events chart) – with the town as an objective.  I used the SU-85 to hammer the German infantry as Soviet infantry was arriving.  I killed four stands and got a bunch of kill points.  I reminded my teammates that I had started off as a T-70, and they gave me one extra kill point, which allowed me to get a monster ISU-152.  At the same time, the Germans were reinforced with a Jagdpanther and a Sturmgeschutz III.

34 What a Tanker ISU152 upgrade
My last upgrade – the ISU-152.

Immediately I maneuvered the ISU-152 to hit more infantry.  The Germans decided to try to get me with their Jagdpanther and the Sturmgeschutz III.  I moved my tank destroyer next to a building to face the Jagdpanther down the main street.  He fired.

He missed!

I returned fire and destroyed the German tank destroyer.

35 What a Tanker ISU152 takes out jagdpanzer IV
My ISU-152 nails the Jagdpanther.  Kill #5 for the weekend.
36 What a Tanker ISU152 takes out jagdpanzer IV burning
Jagdpanther burns.

At this point, the Sturmgeschutz III was maneuvering to get a flank or rear shot on me.  As the ISU-152 is very heavy and slow, I was only able to spin to face the Sturmgeschutz III.  It was a question of initiative – and I got it, hit the German assault gun, and got kill #6 for the weekend (and the $2 bounty on me!).

37 What a Tanker ISU152 takes out sturmgeschutz burning
Kill #6!

I then participated in a play test for a near future warfare scenario using cyber warfare with the Look Sarge No Charts  system.  It was run by Dave Wood and was interesting to do.

38 LSNC near future play test
Dave explaining the system.
39 LSNC near future play test
Assault on the hill.

Every BARRAGE there is a pickup WWI air combat game that is a hoot.  I’ve never managed to get a kill in the game before, but I did this year as a German.  Eventually, I got shot up and had to glide home.

40 Aerodrome game
WWI fighter game – I had the red plane in the center.

The last tabletop game that I played in was a First Boer War Combat Patrol™ game.  I was on the Boer side and we had to defend our wagon from being seized by the British.  The game was fun, but there was a low point.  We had a couple of players from New Jersey who vanished mid-game without so much as a notice that they were leaving.  I think they hated defending.  Anyways, we struggled on and ended up winning the game.  The other players were great sports, and were great company.

41 Combat Patrol Boer War
Boer War game

After this game at the end of the con, I got to play in the traditional LARP pirate game.  I had a nerf crossbow (treated by the GM as a musket) that took out Buck with a shot to the glutes.  My weapon later misfired, and the resultant damage took me out.  That LARP is always a fun game though!

The flea market presented many vendors and items for sale.  I grabbed a Verdun game that I had last played with a gaming club in Monterey, CA in 1985!  I’m not sure when I will get to play it, or with whom, but it was OOP in 1985, so a nice find!  Buck and I visited the Verdun battlefield in 1987 or so, so it was nice to get this game here.

I must congratulate again the H.A.W.K.’s on a well-run con.  Little Wars TV attended and filmed so you can see more of the convention here.

Thanks for looking and as always, I love any feedback!

Power-Armored Frinx on Glyptodons – Archive #2042, circa 1978 – Completed!

The Power-Armored Frinx are back, and this time as cavalry riding glyptodons into battle!  The Frinx were a creation of Archive Miniatures back around 1977 or 1978.  They are a smallish lizard-like race, often wearing power armor.

Glyptodons on the other hand were very real and existed from the Ice Age until about 11,650 years ago (give or take).  They were prehistoric cousins of the modern armadillo, only they were mega fauna – and were as big as a Volkswagen bug.  Plus, there is that massive spiked tail to consider.  Why Archive put these two together is anyone’s guess, but the combination is indeed quirky and fun.

7 Glyptodon
Artist conception of a glyptodon – as big as a car

 

6 Armadillo
For you non-US folks, this is an armadillo. It’s about the size of a cat or small dog.  None are around me in New England, but I saw plenty as road kill when I lived down South.
0 Star Rover rules pic
Sketch of Power-Armored Frinx on Glyptodon from page 3.10 of the Star Rovers Module 1 rules

As a Frinx backgrounder for those interested, I have previously written several posts on the venerable Frinx, going back to my casting of their infantry in February 2016 (here), my painting and figure conversions of my Power-Armored Frinx infantry platoon in February 2017 (here), my May 2017 discovery and acquisition of an original Star Rovers RPG (here), and my casting of the Power-Armored Frinx on Glyptodon (Archive #2042) in July of 2017 (here).  So this journey has already been 2½ years in the making.  Phew!

Interestingly, the 1981 Archive catalog that came with my Star Rovers game does not have the #2042 listed, despite the drawing shown above being in the rule book.  My guess would be that the kit was uneconomical to produce and/or difficult to produce well.  I document several these issues in my casting post – but originally the kit contained no less than 11 pieces as shown below.  As reference, the scale of the set is 25mm to 28mm.

3 close up contents
Original Power-Armored Frinx on Glyptodon kit

I made my own modifications to this particular set and made molds to recreate the kit.  It is indeed rare and given that it was already OOP by 1981, there cannot be many of these around.  I thought they would serve well in a traditional cavalry role for my Frinx platoon.  I cast several and shared with Buck Surdu (who graciously provided me the original you see above so that we both could have some).  Buck did a great job painting seven of my recasts of these back in 2017 which you can see here.

This month to add to my Frinx forces I managed to finish 5 Power-Armored Frinx on Glyptodons (let’s call them PAFOG for short!) models.  As shown above, each set has two Frinx riders on a glyptodon.  I chose 5 because I felt that 10 Frinx riders would be a good number for a cavalry squad in either the recon or screening role in my Combat Patrol™ games.  It also would give the unit enough punch if deployed as a mobile counterattack force.  I sorted out what figures that I had, and chose the ones I would use for the cavalry squad.  Some of the riders’ weapons were not very well cast, so I converted these weapons.  I used Bombshell Miniatures sprues of Arc Weapons (#36013) to replace six of the blasters.  My initial plan is currently  to give these weapons better capabilities versus robot foes, which should prove interesting given that I have a lot of robots now.

1 Frinx on Glyptodon - collection
My initial assortment of PAFOG before I cleaned the chosen 5 – you can see that I still had modeling clay on the original on the bottom right.
2 Frinx on Glyptodon - collection ready for cleaning
Boot camp time – must select the best for the cavalry!
3 Frinx on Glyptodon - final 5 and weapons
The final five plus the Bombshell Miniatures Arc Weapons.  I decided to use the largest arc weapons that you see here as their sizes worked well.
4 example casting front
Washed and ready for priming.  As you can see, the details are much less crisp than I would like.  His weapon was replaced with an arc weapon.   This is the front rider (recast).
5 example casting back
This is the back rider (recast).

In order to make these Frinx “pop”, I needed a plan.  Clearly, my painting was going to do a lot to overcome the plainness of the riders.  I also needed to figure out how I was going to base them for painting and handling – unlike other Archive Miniatures these had no bases.  These are also very heavy (solid lead/tin).  The feet of the glyptodons were not level, so choosing the right basing was a big quandary for me for several reasons.  I tried several approaches in my mind, but eventually chose to emulate Buck’s choice and use washers.  I did choose smaller ones than Buck did – using #8 steel washers and E6000 epoxy under each foot, allowing for hardening overnight.

8 basing on #8 washers
On their washers for an overnight set.

Once they had set, I began by priming the bottoms, letting that cure, and then doing the tops.  My goal was to make the bottoms reddish brown, leading to a more brownish top as the drawing of the glyptodon above shows.  It was not easy!  I had to do a lot of handling of the paint jobs and eventually I moved them to popsicle stick frames with poster tack, which was good for a temporary, if imperfect, solution.

10 glyp base coating
Early stages of priming and base coating of the glyptodons.
12 glyps on frames
Eventually I mounted the glyptodons on these temporary frames for painting – still not ideal.

After carving away 6 defective metal weapons, I mounted the riders on poster tack mounds on specimen jars.  The saddles really did not present me with many other options for mounting them for painting.

As for a color scheme, I decided to go with the branch color of the US Army Cavalry (now Armor), that being yellow.  Besides, yellow is a difficult color to pull off, so I thought it would pose a nice additional challenge.  I primed them, and subsequently airbrushed the riders with Vallejo Game Air “Moon Yellow” as a base coat.  I then used Reaper MSP “Grey Liner” over the riders to help show me what parts I could paint to bring out the best details.  This step really was useful.

11 riders airbrushed
Frinx riders after airbrush the primer and base coat.
13 mid stage on riders
Early stages of painting the riders
14 mid stage on riders
Adding some metallics to the riders and inks to the arc weapons
15 riders painted need wash
Painting completed for riders – awaiting a wash application
16 washed awaiting affixing of weapons
The 10 riders washed and waiting for their weapon conversions.  I converted 6, and yes, I painted an extra arc weapon just in case!  I primarily used inks on the arc weapons over a chrome base coat for a retro sci-fi look.  After this, I applied a gloss varnish to them.

It was time now to return to the sturdy mounts – and I had gotten to the point that I was happy with my painting on them.  However, what was missing was a set of reins for each glyptodon.  When I cast them, I did use the original bits in their mouths, but the original reins were totally inadequate in my view.

I decided to make reins from the smallest jewelry chain I could find.  Figuring out how to affix the chains was a lot of trial and error on one of the extra unpainted glyptodons that I had.  I tried using wire, thread, as well as just hooking the chain to the mounts – all for naught.  Then, a light bulb went off – toothpicks!

I determined that I needed 27 links for the main chain loop for the reins.  I threaded the last chain link through a wooden toothpick.  I then inserted the toothpick into the bits by the mouths.  I used a push pin to slide the link into position on the toothpick, and applied a very small amount of Gorilla Glue on the wood/chain/bit connection.  After the glue dried (often with the assistance of a hand held hair dryer), I snipped the toothpick with a sprue cutter as close as I could to the bit.  The net effect was like a tent peg and a rope, securing the chain to the glyptodons’ bridle bits.  I repeated the process on both sides, then tack glued the chain at the top and above the ears to make a loop.  Then I dry brushed the chain with Tamiya “Gun Metal X-10” and let it dry.  Lastly, I applied Citadel “Nuln Oil” to the chain.

17 glypts on frame mid stage
Painted glyptodons before final wash application and addition of reins.
18 glypts after gloss wash
I applied Citadel “Agrax Earthshade Gloss” on the back, expecting the later matte varnish to dull it down.  Still need reins!
18a old reins
These are the original reins – not acceptable!
19 chain
Time for some jewelry making, I mean rein making (sounds weird huh!).
20 27 links
27 links, no more no less!
21 toothpick design
He looks a bit like he needs an orthodontist.  This is how I mounted the chains into the bits.
22 after snipping toothpick and gluing chains
Main chain loop mounted, before painting it and the bits.

After this, I removed the glyptodons from the frames in order to give the mounts a matte varnish airbrush treatment.  Then I mounted the riders to the mounts with E6000 epoxy, and let it harden.  I wanted to connect the chains to the front riders hands.  For this I needed a massive 4 links of jewelry chain per model, push pins, and patience.  I used Gorilla Glue, push pins, and the blow dryer to get the additional chain segments in place.  I then applied the same painting and wash techniques to the 4 links.

23 4 links
4 links, no more, no less!  I used push pins to help as I cut the links.

 

24 with extra chain and waiting final matte
The glossy riders on the matte glyptodon with the new chain attachment which has not yet been painted.  Subsequently, the whole PAFOG got a couple of matte varnish coats.
25 dinner anyone
After final varnish of an airbrush matte coat.
26 metric
For you metric system users, an idea of the weight and size of the model as completed.
27 english pounds 4.64 ounces
For us in the USA, its a mere 4.64 ounces of heavy metal goodness…not a quarter pounder I’d eat by the way…

The PAFOG squad project was now complete – except that I needed to make corrals for them as they are so heavy as to slide in my other Frinx box.  No worries, as I want them to survive for many future games, and I’ve done that for other outsized figures

This project also counts for me in a community painting challenge that my Australian friend Azazel has sent out for July 2018.  It is for a “Jewel” project – and given all the work that went into these from acquisition to casting to conversion to final painting – I’m confident that these will meet the requirement!

The eye candy follows, and hopefully you will find these as cool as I did.  I always appreciate your feedback dear readers – let me know your thoughts and suggestions.  Thanks for looking!

29 group shot 2
Frinx, form up!
30 moving out
Move out!
32 square trooper for casualty cards
This is the section leader’s mount.  The section leader has blue markings.  These figures are the originals and have the original weapons.  In a Combat Patrol game, they will draw two cards for movement.  Between the power armor and the glyptodon’s armor, they should have some ability to take damage.
33 rear shot
A good view of the back ends where the bony spiked tails are found.  Here, on the right is the section leaders mount, and on the left is a mount with one Frinx armed with an arc weapon and the other with a blaster.
34 group front
Nice group shot – note the conversions with the arc weapons.
35 trooper side
Close up of the right side.
37 conferring with Texicans
A conference with Lt. Ma’k (the Frinx platoon leader in red), some Frinx Amethyst Squad infantry, and the Texican Space Rangers.
38 surrounding space dwarves
Surrounding the Space Dwarves in a final charge!

For those interested, here is the list of the paints, etc. that I used in this project.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, WASHES, AND FLOCKING USED:

  1. Citadel “Imperium Primer”
  2. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
  3. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  4. Vallejo “”Airbrush Thinner”
  5. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  6. Vallejo Game Air “Beastly Brown”
  7. Vallejo Game Air “Dead White”
  8. Vallejo “Red”
  9. Vallejo Game Air “Moon Yellow”
  10. Vallejo “Black Grey”
  11. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  12. Reaper MSP “Grey Liner” (wash)
  13. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  14. Vallejo Model Air “Black (metallic)”
  15. Vallejo Mecha Color “Yellow Ochre”
  16. Vallejo Mecha Color “Brown”
  17. Vallejo Model Air “Rust 080”
  18. Citadel “Ceramite White”
  19. Tamiya “Chrome Silver X-11”
  20. Tamiya “X-20A Thinner”
  21. Vallejo Mecha Color “Turquoise”
  22. Vallejo Model Air “Medium Gunship Gray”
  23. Tamiya “Copper XF-6”
  24. Tamiya “Gun Metal X-10”
  25. Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”
  26. Citadel “Hexwraith Flame”
  27. P3 “Green” (ink)
  28. Citadel “‘Ardcoat”
  29. Secret Weapons Washes “Just Red” (ink)
  30. Citadel “Soulstone Blue”
  31. Vallejo Game Air “Fluorescent Red”
  32. Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (wash)
  33. Secret Weapons Washes “Purple” (ink)
  34. Vallejo Mecha Color “Yellow Fluorescent”
  35. Vallejo Mecha Color “Sand Yellow”
  36. Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” (wash)
  37. Polly Scale “WWII British Aircraft Gull Gray Light”
  38. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade Gloss” (wash)
  39. Citadel “Carroburg Crimson” (wash)
  40. Citadel “Castellan Green”
  41. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (wash)
  42. Vallejo “Thinner Medium”
  43. Vallejo “Gloss Varnish”
  44. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Thanks again!