The tragic long running civil war in Syria has thrown up many examples of improvised military equipment over the years: from home made sniper rifles to converted apcs. Ace models have recently immortalised two such weapons in a plastic kit.
Hell Cannons are the name given to large improvised mortars that have been built by the rebel forces/ Free Syrian Army in the past few years. Consisting of a large metal pipe fixed to a truck axle they fire homemade shell that are mostly made from propane gas canisters. As can be imagined they are not particularly accurate and neither do they have a long range, barely reaching overa mile. A more in-depth look at them can be found here .
Ace kits are a east European manufacturer of limited run plastic kits that cover a wide variety of subjects that are often not covered by the bigger companies. Given the limitations of their short run production their kits have a repuation of being difficult to build; the finesse and fit of the parts is not up there with the likes of Revell or Dragon. That said the two guns were built over the course of a single evening. I thought it was a nice touch that several examples of the relevant ‘shells’ were included too.
Painting was mostly done with a sponge to get the mottled camo and rust effects and didn’t take long at all.
The first gun is from the Ahrar al- Shmal Brigade nd was seen in the Idlib area in 2013.
The second gun was built and used by the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo in 2017.
I have bought some suitable figures from Elhiem to use as crew but I’ve not painted them yet.
Last week I took a trip with Bill of Under Fire Miniatures to vist his friend Wing Commander Luddite aka Nick to playtest his African campaign/ battle system that he is developing called Bush Horizons. Also it was nice to see the Wing Commander’s model collection and be able to game with it. All models and terrain in the photos are his.
We were joined by Jerry and Kev to run through a full campaign turn and play out any resulting battles.
Basically the game was set in a fictional African country sometime in the 1970s/ 1980s. You create an armed/ political party: Kev and I formed B.O.P.M to take on P.R.O.F. run by Bill and Jerry. You then have 40 ‘elements’ to split between 6 different abstracted territories of the country. Once both side have committed their forces for the turn it is revealed to both sides. Any contested areas are played out. If you are massively outnumbered you can always conceed the territory to your opponent.
Once a battle has been decided upon both side roll a number of D6 equal to the number of elemnts that they committed to that battle to see what actually turns up. These elements are then grouped into units for the battle.
We managed three battles of various sizes in an afternoon so fighting a campaign to its conclusion wouldn’t take that long.
The tactical battle system is fast and elegant and gives you a definite result with hte minimum of fuss. I’m looking forward to being able to get another turn of the campaign done. I’ve not given away too much in terms of the mechanisms of the campaign or battle systems are they aren’t mine to do so with but it would be great to see the rules reach a wider audience someday. Playing the games got me thinking about other, historical, areas it could be used for. The South Africans fighting the Angolans and Cubans wouyld be an obvious one. You could play up the quantity versus quality difference there. Also I thought that the campaign system with a few tweaks would work well for the various wars that have broken out in the area around the Great Lakes, particularly the Kagera War between Tanzania and Uganda (I know its fairly obscure but I’ve been reading a lot of the Helion African at War series recently clicky ).
Wing Commander Luddite’s 6mm modelling skills are amazing and as the photos show it is something to aspire to. I will try to up my scenery game in 1/300th now.
(With apologies to KRS-One)
Elhiem Figures has recently released two version of the (in)famous East German Trabant car: one civilian, one police. These are 3D prints and are rather nice, much better than the Shapeways ones I bought several years back.
The pair of little Trabants.
Believe it or not over 3 million of them were made.
This Police one should really have lettering on it but I didn’t fancy trying out my freehand on it so left it off.
Both were painted in acyrlics before being weathered with oil paints. The blue police lights were done with Games Workshops range of gem paints; they look OK but I don’t think they were really worth the extra effort. Still given how little paint I used they should last for years.
They make a nice little pair and should be some nice set dressing if I ever set a Cold War game in East as opposed to West Germany.
Given the quality job Pix Art Printing clicky did with the game maps for my recent Case Blue megagame I decide that I put some more business their way. Several years ago I bought a few game maps from Wargames Vault clicky with the intention of printing them out onto paper and assembling them as a jigsaw. This didn’t work so well for various reason… but now there is Pix Art I decided to send them there to be printed. Using MS Publisher I added all the images together into one massive file and then waited for a special offer to be on to maximise my savings.
In the End I got a 130cm by 350cm vinyl at printed for £30 including delivery from Italy.
I got a 120cm square wasteland mat that will be ideal for any game set in the Middle East/ North Africa, as a point of comparison the going rate for a comparable sized mat by itself seems to be about £25.
This 120cm by 60cm costal strip will be great for ampibious landing be it in WW2 or the Dark Ages, the textures should work for both 20 and 28mm sized figures.
I added a few maps from my Print and Play board game collection- here we have maps for the Russo- Japanese War, WW1, fictional WW3 and right up to date with the War in Donbass.
A slightly smaller urban mat- should be useful for some of the 40K figures I’ve painting recently.
Finally I printed the map for use in Brian Train’s free urban COIN game: Maracas clicky
All in all I’m really pleased with this. They should last for ages and as they are easy to roll storage isn’t a problem either.
I have just finished some of Under Fire Miniatures recently released Angolan Government troops [clicky]
They represent soldiers from the FAPLA (Peoples Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola) who were the armed wing of MPLA (Peoples Movement for the Liberation of Angola) who had fought against the Portuguese up until 1974 when Portugal granted independence to its African colonies. After this MPLA formed a government and started moving Angola to a single party Marxist state. (The Soviet Union/ Warsaw Pact and Cuba send military aid as advisors). This led to a civil war in Angola between the MPLA/FAPLA and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) as well as the FNLA (National Liberation Front of Angola). This ended up as a something of a Cold War proxy battleground between East and West. Furthermore South African forces frequently crossed into Angola due to MPLA’s support of SWAPO (South West African People’s Organisation: a guerrilla force fighting in what is now Namibia against the South Africans). It makes for a rather long and complicated war that didn’t really end untill the 2000s.
With military aid coming from the Warsaw Pact and Cuba I’ve painted the figures to reflect this.
This group of figures has been painted in a Cuban Lizard pattern camo. They are armed with the usual mix of Soviet weaponary.
This second smaller group are in the East German Rain pattern (fiddly to do on 20mm figures and the zoom of a digital camera isn’t kind to my so so painting), three of them wear the DDR’s NVA helmet.
For support they have a Recoilless Rifle.
As well as a Plamya AGS17 Automatic Grenade Launcher.
Great figures that will make for nice opponents to the South Afrtican Defence Force figures I painted some time back.
I’ve been busy expanding my 6mm Cold War collection again.
First up we have a very mixed bag for my Americans: M60, M109s, M551 Sheridans, A battalion’s worth of troops in HMMWVs, some recon and anti- tank HMMWVs and finally some leg infantry.
The models are unknown for the M60, Heroics and Ros for the Sheridans and M109s and Scotia for the HMMWVs. All of the infantry and HMGs are from Irregular.
Moving onto the Russians we have a handful of vehicles: a ZSU23-4 and 4 MTLBs, 2 portee-ing the ZSU23-2 AA gun and 2 the Vaselik auto mortar.
The ZSU23-4 is from Irregular and the 4 MTLBs are Scotia models.
Finally lots of infantry and support weapons (HMGs and mortars).
All from Irregular this time.
I’ve based everything for use with Nordic Weasel’s 5core: Brigade Commander rules. I use a 50mm square base for a company stand and a 30mm square base to represent a platoon sized attachment.
I know that in some circles ‘What if?’ get a bad press (and certainly in the case of the Nazi fan boys obsessing about Maus tanks it is justified) but I’ve always been drawn to them. I think thios is because know why something wasn’t used tells you a lot about why other things did get used. I find that knowing about what technological blind alleys were peered into fascinating. Like my old math teacher said don’t go straight to the answer, show your working out…
On that theme here are a few vehicles that didn’t really exist (in one case) or see service (in an other) that I’m looking forward to adding into my 6mm Cold War games of 5core: Brigade Commander. [Edit- both models are available from Scotia ]
First up we have some 130mm Russian self propelled guns. These ‘existence’ of these were first revealed to the west by the controversial Cold War defector Viktor Suvorov who made a career of exaggerating the strength and martial prowess of the Russians.
Supposedly they were to equip Motor Rifle Division to give them some long range firepower. (In fact a similar vehicle was made in the 1950s in very small numbers the Su-122-54. There is a very good article in Armor if you can find a copy). Either way a copmany or a couple of supporting platoons are now available for my Soviet forces.
Secondly, and most importantly to Twilight 2000 players, we have the
LAV75, I mean, RDF light tank. This little thing was a possible US Army acquistion as an air transportable light tank; it was armed with a long barrelled high velocity 75mm gun. Although the project got to prototype stage it progressed no further.
Again, I got enough so that I can field either a company or supporting platoons.