Tuesday, 21 February 2017

On the workbench & pondering The American Civil War.

Been a bit slow on the painting front last week or so, I'm taking a break from the FIW and catching up with some of the Flames of War stuff that's piling up a bit. I tend to prefer to just buy what I need when I need it as I find having a lead (or plastic) pile can be slightly demoralising. I managed a spray undercoat session at the weekend, in the shed down the garden as usual, and got a fair few bits sprayed up ready for painting. I use Army Painter Matt black primer and find it covers well and leaves a nice flat finish. As said before I prime my tank models on the sprues as it's just so much easier to not miss anything, especially around the driving wheel and tracks, and it's a simple matter of spraying one side, leaving to dry, turning over and spraying the other. I have had a box of 5 x StuG assault guns sitting here for some time so they got sprayed up ready for assembly. I should add that I find no issue with assembly, the plastic glue simply melts the primer away to form a strong bond. I also sprayed 4 lovely little Steyr trucks, transports for Panzergrenadiers, and a platoon of Late German infantry. Again, I'm probably a bit unusual in that I base my figures first before priming and painting, I just prefer to do it this way and even with my standard 5 figures per base I find no problems in painting them, a bit of twisting and turning required but I'm used to this method now. The figures are by Peter Pig. All of this lot will hopefully be finished by the time the first order for 28mm ACW's arrives from Renegade.

German HQ set

Peter Pig panzergrenadiers.

 Panzer 4's, model H with stand off turret armour.

A pile of undercoated StuG's!

Resin and metal Steyre strucks by Battlefront.

And on the subject of the American Civil War I have been giving much thought to rules. To quickly outline my long association with this period, it certainly extends back into the early eighties, the scan below shows my then collection of Minifigs 15mm figures on my home made 6 x 4 terrain boards. I remember that they were very heavy due to the amount of filler used in construction, but I was extremely proud of them at the time. These figures were later replaced with early Battle Honours figures by Tony Barton and then expanded with Polly Oliver figures. These in turn were replaced with 25mm Connoisseur figures and those in turn by Dixons. Somewhere along the line I also collected Old Glory's and Redoubt. These days I don't have a single ACW figure in my collection, but that's about to change!

Blurry old pics from the 1980's Minifigs 15mm pure nostalgia.

Shots of my Redoubt collection lifted from my previous blog, they were already long sold on by then.

Why on Earth did I sell them!

In the Nineties I also got into ACW re enactment as a member of SOSKAN and enjoyed several fun years as a private in the 42nd Pennsylvania 'Bucktails'. I learned much about the life of the ordinary soldier and the rigours of period drill. If I have one enduring memory of that time it was being on the Union skirmish line at Knebworth during a joint SOSKAN & American Civil War Society event that also included other European and US re-enactors, and watching the vast numbers of Confederate infantry and artillery emerge from the woods to form up, stretching across the length of the park, an amazing experience and one that sent shivers down my spine!

Yours Truly and eldest daughter at the American Museum Bath, late 90's. Note the authentic imported Bucktail. they stank to high heaven so I shampood mine much to the amusement of the rest of the guys! Equipment stripped off, but carrying my .58 Enfield musket that required a shotgun certificate to own.

Bucktails on the Knebworth picket line, I'm second from right.

My Wife came along but was not into 'dressing up' so we camped in comfort!

Waiting for Johnny Reb to attack, picket duty with the 'Authentic' camp behind us, those guys were the hardcore reenactors!

I think that the more I learned of the reality of Battle in the ACW, the more I backed away from gaming it and it's taken until now for me to return to it. So as not to waffle on for too long I'll save my thoughts on rules for another post, but the images below give you an idea of my favourite set from back in the Nineties, Johnny Reb 2nd Edition.

For me JR II remains the finest set of ACW rules ever produced.

My scribbled notes on the playsheets from well over 20 years ago.

I played these rules extensively then against my regular opponents.
They included a beginners guide to get new players started.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Touching History.

It was a moving experience to discover documents relating to my Grandfathers War Service Record on Ancestry recently. I never knew him as he died in 1956 two years before I was born, but have heard loads about him from family, and to see his name and signature on an old document meant a lot to me. The records show that he served in The Royal East Kent Regiment the famous 'Buffs' in the 8th Battalion, and that he signed up in 1914 aged 21(?) for 3 years service, was based 'home' (Canterbury Barracks) until 31/8/1915 when he was sent off to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force, returning home in late 1918. As a side story I still recall my Grandmother telling me how she prepared a romantic homecoming for him only to find he was still 'running alive' with lice!

To the memory of Alfred Gramson, Royal East Kent Regiment, service number 2395.

© Crown Copyright Images - downloaded from Ancestry.com used without permission. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

"All quiet along the Potomac tonight".....

....but not for much longer!

"All quiet along the Potomac tonight,
Where the soldiers lie peacefully dreaming,
Their tents in the rays of the clear autumn moon,
O'er the light of the watch fires, are gleaming;
There's only the sound of the lone sentry's tread
As he tramps from the rock to the fountain,
And thinks of the two in the low trundle bed,
Far away in the cot on the mountain."

With my French & Indian War project rounding off I have been casting around for something that takes my fancy as a follow up for weeks now. It had to be primarily a painting project as that's my main interest, and also something that would allow units to be built up fairly quickly. Having persevered with Sharp Practice to the point where I'm ready to play a game and feel I have a reasonable grasp of the rules it made sense to build alternative armies for the game. I had watched a few ACW based SP games and enjoyed them so much thatI gave in and ordered the first of what will become my Sharp Practice ACW forces. SP lists three forces for the early, mid and late war, and I have decided to build the mid war lists for both sides to begin with.

Essentially, for this 'large skirmish' game I will be representing the men of a single regiment per side, broken down into groups of 8 figures - I like to think of them as companies - with 6 figures per group for those in skirmish order. I'm starting with the Rebs, and the mid war list is as follows:

Leader, status III
Three groups of 8 infantry, rifled muskets.

Leader, status II
Two groups of 8 infantry, rifled muskets.

Leader, status I
One group of 6 skirmishers, rifled muskets

Leader, status I
One group of 6 skirmishers, rifled muskets.

Points value for Confederate 1862 = 83 points.

As you can see it's a fair sized force to get started with, and can be supplemented from the Generic Support list. What I need to decide on next is which regiment I want to represent.

The figures I have chosen are by Renegade Miniatures, wonderful 28mm castings of real character. I wanted to go with metal one piece castings, no plastics,  and after much thought decided upon the 'marching' pose for the main groups, and' firing line' for the skirmishers. I decided against the classic 'Right Shoulder Shift' pose used when advancing at the double, and instead go for the more sedate marching, order arms pose with musket tucked into the right arm and upright. Muskets were of course universally carried on the right shoulder during the ACW, as evidenced by drill manuals and countless paintings and photographs.

I'll get started soon as the figures arrive. IN the meantime I'm planning a Sharp Practice FIW game this weekend as the family, (wife, daughters, granddaughters) are off to the Great Metropolis for a day out on Saturday. I'll write it up as best I can in order to explain some of the unique features of  the rules.

Time to get down to some reading!

Battles & Leaders, 4 volumes a must have for any ACW enthusiast.

Lord knows how many years ago this TV series was shown, but the book of the series remains a favourite of mine.

Of my Time Life collection The Road to Shiloh remains a favourite and I may base my forces on this campaign.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Warlord Games Canoes completed!

It's been a bitterly cold weekend down here so have not been out much, giving me time to paint the two canoes and crews. As usual for Indians I started the flesh tones with Vallejo light brown with a touch of deep red mixed in, then highlighted with straight light brown, especially around the muscles etc. For European flesh tones I normally start with light brown and highlight with sunny flesh tone. I did consider giving them a thin wash of sepia ink, but decided to leave them as you see them. The canoes were quick and easy to do using a reference picture, I probably should have painted two different designs on the fronts. The Huron Chief painted up a treat, and he will shortly be seen leading his warriors allied to the French in a game of Sharpe Practice.

River sections by Small Terrain Miniature Scenery supplied fully painted.

Richard who supplied the battle mat promptly contacted me to apologise for the mistake and will be sending out a replacement this week so I'm a happy man again on that front. My intention is to have the choice of playing Commands & Colors on the printed mat OR Sharpe Practice on my TSS tiles. Should you have any enquiries regarding custom mats you can contact Richard via email:  info@edusign.co.uk  I find he replies very promptly. Website: http://www.tinywargames.co.uk/

Next up are two of the Hovels resin buildings in preparation for the Sharpe Practice 2 run through I hope to play at the weekend.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

"Can you canoe me down the river..."

My late Nan used to sing old Music Hall numbers to me as a child, and they tend to stick in my head, I must be one of the few people these days who can recite the lyrics to "The Boers have got my Daddy" for example. Another had a chorus that went, "Can you canoe me down the river, can you canoe me down the stream" (they don't write tunes like that anymore!), which brings me to the latest Warlord Games product on my painting table. Two Woodland Indian canoes in resin with metal figures, now undercoated and ready to paint. They are lovely little models and I'm sure will add a touch of period colour making their way along my river sections. A also ordered the Huron Chief model you can see, a as with most Warlord offerings a tad expensive at £3.00, but I guess they are not going to be selling huge quantities of these individual personality figures and it's a fine casting.

Generally this week I have been mostly focused on getting the GMB flags fitted to my command bases, a time consuming task but well worth the effort. This required me to add a couple of extra standard bearer figures that still need base texturing as you can see. The French battalions in the FIW I'm told carried two flags as supplied by GMB, anyway they look most impressive and I wasn't going to waste them!

The French artillery have been bought up to two guns with a light howitzer due to follow.

Yesterday, my Commands & Colors printed battle mat arrived and I quickly opened it up in a state of great anticipation. The print quality is excellent, as is the quality of the fabric upon which it is printed. However, the hexes have been printed the wrong way round, they should run flat to flat along the width of the cloth as per the C&C standard board AND the advertised product on the website, but they don't. This means I can't use it and need to return it for a replacement, I was bitterly disappointed but hopefully it wont take long to supply me with the correct mat. My wife really did not help matters when she said "Oh well, you can always have it made into a pair of trousers" .... yes, very funny darling, they really do not grasp the seriousness of such matters.

A shot along the short edge, wrong way round!

Fabric quality is very good and can be ironed etc,

I really like the print quality.

And the 6" hexes work well with my bases.