Tuesday, 27 December 2016

"Toy train goes to War".

I have just recently begun research into the lives of those who lived here in Dymchurch during WW2 and already it has thrown up some fascinating personal stories that I hope to share in due course. My main interest is in the period leading up to D Day when the Americans arrived and obviously created quite a stir locally! In  1944 a 10 deep mile exclusion ban was put in place all along the Kent coast as the preparations for the Normandy landings began in earnest. Locals were issued with Identity Cards and access was strictly controlled. Typhoons and Tempests were based at Jesson airfield (became a Holiday Camp after the War), and one local describes how two Typhoons returning home from a mission collided during a victory roll, killing both pilots. B17 Flying Fortresses and B24 Liberators of the US 8th Air Force were a common sight and several crashed in fields on the journey home, one coming down in the centre of Dymchurch. US infantry occupied seafront bungalows, including the barber who gave locals free haircuts. One eye witness, a child of Ten at the time, described how German bombers would come in "skimming the waves" to avoid radar detection before swooping up over the sea wall, so low that he could see the pilots clearly. In one incident on the Dymchurch seafront a British officer who was instructing soldiers in the use of hand grenades accidentally dropped one into a box full of them causing a huge explosion that killed and injured many of the men. Italian prisoners worked the fields and were described as being quite affable and no trouble.

The above is just a brief taster of life down here during those dark days, of course the Dymchurch Home Guard continued to serve and some were deployed to man the narrow gauge railway - opened in 1927 - where a loco had been converted into an armoured train. This short Pathe News film captures the spirit of the times.

Dymchurch Station today, thankfully a more peaceful place.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Seasons Greetings, Soviet command post & 'Hell on Wheels'.

This will be the last post before Christmas so it's appropriate to wish everyone Seasons Greetings. This year seems to have flown by and been very busy, but on the hobby front I have finally settled on my game of choice and that is of course Flames of War. I have an extensive collection that will continue to grow in the New Year as I expand into early war French and British forces. I also plan to expand the 28mm French Indian War collection, possibly rebasing into more conventional larger units. I'm going to try hard to resist the urge to start anything new if I can!

I have a game to write up, Soviet Tankovy v 9th SS Panzer, and this will appear as my next post. Meantime I added this lovely little HQ objective to my Soviet force, I popped a few additional figures (actually tankriders) on the base, including the flagbearer. Five nicely painted Panthers were purchased from eBay and added to the mass of German armour I already have. They round off the Mid/Late war collection well, and in the New Year focus will be on early war model Panzers, mark 1's and 2's as I prepare for the invasion of France!

The 2nd Armored Division- 'Hell on Wheels'- dice tin has arrived so I took the opportunity to snap the tin alongside my models that represent them. I hope to give them a run out over the holiday period.

I took the decision a few weeks back to sell off all my Bolt Action stuff, I have no regrets at all as my enthusiasm for the rules took a major dip and I wanted to focus on armour based games that work better in 15mm on a 6 x 4 table. I achieved a good price and some has been re invested back into Flames of War, especially scenic items that I am really pleased with. In the New Year I'll be selling off the 28mm scale MDF buildings, British bits and Bobs, and a few other things to clear the decks a little. I also have a couple of unopened Warlord ECW 'Starter Battalia' boxes, plus a few Roman and Celt boxes to clear out via eBay as I just can't see myself using them. I hope to employ the services of John from Kingscolours to paint more Front Rank FIW figures for me in the New Year, so the sales come in handy.

Anybody interested in these?  They will go on eBay in the New Year.

Iain, please remind me of your address again! Saved this for you :)

Best regards to you all, have a great Christmas and a peaceful New Year.


Saturday, 17 December 2016

Russian Priests, Jagpanthers & TSS hills!

Following a gentle reminder from 'Conrad Kinch' I finally sat down this morning and painted these seven plastic 20mm figures representing Russian Priests and officers from the Crimean War period. To be honest I had sat on these for ages as I just could not down to painting them, but with a few reference images at the ready it was actually quite a speedy job. I'm pleased how they turned out, the combination of black, red, green and gold worked well and the Icons got an impressionistic touch to complete them. They will be winging their way to CK once varnished and packed.

These two Jagpanthers are the latest addition to my German armour collection, Battlefront models and a joy to put together and paint.

And a few (poor quality) shots of my table set up in the wargame room, featuring the newly arrived TSS space saver hill tiles. I may well expand this further with a few more of the hill sections now that I can see what's what! I'm happy with this set up now, just going to re flock the bomb craters to match the overall scheme. I'll be rolling out the T34's and Panzers hopefully in the morning.

I'll write up the game as best I can, I'm mainly focusing on tank action to get a handle on the stats for the various models, I'm familiar with the Tigers and StuG's etc but not yet played the T34's.

Finally for now ........ I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I won the 2nd Armoured dice and token tin! I paid £34.00 for it, a silly price I know but most tins are going for £40.00 upwards as they are out of production. It compliments my US 2nd Armored Division list perfectly though, and I guess it's a collectors price. Pics when it arrives ...... to quote 'Foy' it seems I'm a "dice junkie" now.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Dice tins, Soviet tank destroyers & Flying Bomb sites on the Kent Coast.

The family, (Wife, three Daughters and two Granddaughters) are all away to Brighton for a few days, having a Christmas spend up so I have some quiet time on my hands. With the Southern Rail dispute on going the journey home should be interesting but hopefully they will find a way back!

Progress has been slow on the painting front this past week or so, just a 5 model Soviet tank destroyer platoon added and some infantry added to the captured German half tracks featured recently. I have quite a bit of stuff in hand though to do, so I thought I would list some of what I have planned going forward.

The additional tiles and hills that I ordered from Total Systems Scenic are now about to be sent out, so I'm quite excited to get my hands on it and have a play  round with it! It's from the 'Space Saver' range as are my basic 6 x 4 set, and at 20mm thick it does save a lot on storage space in addition to being very durable as it's made from Styrofoam. The hills are all 20mm contours so standard hill height is 40mm, this should allow me to create extensive hills rather than the small oval style hills I had thought about using, so for example a full 600mm x 600mm tile can be placed on the board and then edged with 'lower' hill contours, then 'upper' contours added. Once I have it I'll take some pictures as it's much easier to illustrate than describe.

The 'Battlefield in a Box' range produced by Battlefront in conjunction with Gale Force Nine has proven to be irresistible to me and I have now added more Rural Roads, train track and expansion sets and Dug In markers to my collection. Some of the best pre painted scenic items I have seen, all the roads are made from latex rubber.

Flames of War dice tins.
The avid collector in me has been drawn to these tins for some time, but I resisted until recently when I bid on and won a German tin for the 9th SS Panzerdivision. I really like the quality black dice with the Division symbol replacing the '6' and matching acrylic F0W markers. Some are up for crazy prices, the HitlerJugend set for example is currently on eBay for a Buy it Now price of £112.00! I understand they are  now Out of Production, but that's just madness. I'm looking to add the US 2nd Armoured Division set at a far more modest price as it would finish off my US army perfectly.

I can't help it, I like nice dice!

That's it for the time being, I have two Battlefront Jagpanthers on the painting table to be followed by three Panthers (the box offers the option of both). But priority now is to write up a game soon as the new TSS tiles arrive, Soviet armour V's German Panzerdivsion, 40+ tanks and tank destroyers on the table should be fun.

SU 100 Soviet tank destroyer platoon. Formidable looking firepower!

These dug in markers come ready painted, but I added some static grass.

Added some crew to the Soviet captured transports, decals and slogans should be here any day now.

Finally, I discovered this map showing the sights where German Flying Bombs had landed around the stretch of coast where I live and it staggered me. You can see Dymchurch at about central point between Hythe and Lydd, the black dots each represent a bomb site. I cannot imagine how it must have been at that time, but it's made me want to search out more local information relating to life during WW2 along this stretch of coast, as I feel it could be of interest on the blog.

We now have a 'Tourist Webcam' streaming live images of Dymchurch beach looking towards Hythe Bay, not much to see this time of year, but I'd like to find out more about the beach defences during the war and have started some local research.


Saturday, 3 December 2016

Flying High!

I seem to be settling into a pattern of weekly updates here, showing the various bits and pieces that I'm currently working on. I'm still waiting on the additional TSS terrain boards and hill sections, but once I have them I'm going to roll out the T34's for a 'Barbarossa' themed game, large scale tank action using of course Flames of War rules. I'm pretty well up to speed with them again, still getting to grips with the infantry assault phases, but it's getting there!

I mentioned in my last post that I still had a few of the Battlefront aircraft models to paint, and where possible this week - it's been busy on the Home Front - I have been painting, adding decals and producing more of the 'sparkler wire' flight stands. So to date I now have seven of the models finished, I just like them as a collection but they all have a role to play in FoW. I still intend to add a few more, but at a later date. Some are getting harder to find, the Typhoon for example I spent weeks searching for on eBay before one came up at a slightly inflated price. The air attack phase allows for the possibility of both fighter interception and anti aircraft fire, so if your aircraft does come in there is a fair chance it may be shot down before it can get it's rockets off, all part of the fun of FoW.

Left to right they are: Rudel's Junkers Ju87 or 'Stuka', Illyushin II-2  'Sturmovik', Hawker Hurricane, Hawker Typhoon (hand painted Invasion Stripes took some patience), Henschell Hs129. ME262, and finally a Lockheed Lightning P38 (US 2nd Armored list). They are really only markers, but do look nice hovering above the terrain.

Aside from the aircraft I also managed to finish the two 'Moaning Minnies' multiple rocket launchers and command base. These are Peter Pig models and were purchased with the gift vouchers I won recently from the Mad Tin Hatter blog, I used the rest to grab more PP Late War Germans.

I have also been looking into what's available on the Early War front, I'm torn between PP and Forged in Battle, but the two can be mixed with no problems. I really want to do a French army in those distinctive early war helmets and greatcoats, and a British army having seem the magnificent early kilted Highlanders made by FiB, so there remains much scope for future development and collection.