Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Good Bye 2016

I am so glad that the year is coming to an end. Business, family losses and career changes have made this a trying year. And the politics have stressed friendships on both sides of the political spectrum. I have even found distant friendships rekindled by Social Media have been strained.

So how will I handle the end of 2016 and the coming of 2017. For one, I am swearing off of politics, and as a student of history, this will be hard. As for hobbies, I will try to read good books, write, dine with friends and continue to embrace my passion for wargaming and helping others find out about it.

So I will try to limit my 2017 projects to these three areas and no other until they are all done. And the list...

Imperial Skies
This will require only the purchase of a few ships, but a boat load of bases from CoreSec Engineering 

Early War 1939 Poland and 1940 Sealion
This requires the purchase of some tanks (all three nations) and some Polish and German infantry.

Battles around Caen 1944
This also requires the purchase of some vehicles. The only infantry I may need will come from the 1939/40 German infantry. We always do need more rifleman.

Now this does mean I will be busy painting and it will help me with my 2017 painting contest.

As for staying on target, I count on my friends to keep me honest.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Gaming Santa

Well I have taken up the task to paint for a secret Santa project and after some research and a lot of hustle I have completed the project and it will go out in the post this week. I do hope the little boy or girl that receives this will be please and I am sure all of this figures will shoot true.

Thank you Chris for organizing this.
I hope everyone has a lovely holiday.

How Do You Keep Those Craft In The Air - VSF

This post came about because of a comment on another of my posts. Thank you Michael Peterson.

This does comes up often, how do these flying battleship, well fly. Victorian Science Fiction (VSF) has been a hobby of mine after I bought my first computer and than software from Babagges. Just the idea of an analytical machine that was mechanical and analogue. Just to good for words.

So with a love of technology, Jules Verne and gaming I was ready to be introduced to such a period. And I got the introduction when I purchased Space 1889 in 1989. While I did enjoy the roll playing it was the nautical rules that interested me. I would than go on to purchase, Gaslight, AeroNef and recently Imperial Skies.

What they all have in common is that they all use a non-logical way of propulsion. Some are mechanical like Edison's Ether Screw or Professor Hartley Rennick R-Gravitons and than there is Loewe's Graviton engine. Others would use hydrogen or liftwood from Mars. What is consistent is that the Victorian engineers created Rube Goldberg-esque machines to get them in the air. The theory of traveling through the ether is also interesting as the gaming mechanic is based on historical precedent.

As for the personal attraction I like the idea of these airships or flying fortresses going into battle on Earth or Mars. Airships only on Venues, liftwood does not work. We could I guess put down a blue mate and fight out the battles as if we were on the sea, but we do love our airships.

Different Technology Timelines.

Space 1889
1868 Edison Ether Screw
1870 Liftwood from Mars
1874 Zeppelin efficient Hydrogen filled airships

1884 Frank Stockburn invents the Negative Gravity Screw
1886 Professor Hartley Rennick discovers R-Gravitons
1889 Synthetic R-Gravitons

Imperial Skies
1889 Kurt Loewe perfects the Graviton engine

Friday, November 25, 2016

Imperial Skies - First Battle

Signal Close Action
I am really remiss in getting this posted. After doing a couple of read-throughs of the Imperial Skies rules I was ready to do a quick couple of small-scale battles. As I only had a few ships ready I went with a German raid on a French desert village. The Germans have in both battles a Schleswig-Holstein class Dig Battleship against French destroyers and frigates. In the first fight the Germans also had a destroyer.

What became clear very quickly that battleships are not indestructible, or even all powerful. The SMS Hannover had the advantage of range with her guns but the French frigates could close the range very quickly with their superior speed.

This is not to say that the French survived without loss. One broadside from the SMS Hannover was enough to cripple any of the French ships. The Sirocos while able to maneuver around the larger slower dig, but when they were caught, it would mean damage or loss to the lighter ships.

Rescue Mission
The German also did attempt boarding actions but were not as successful as they wished. I have written to Robin Fitton and he looks to do a more in depth explanation of how to conduct boarding actions. I also have a few ideas of my own.

In the two battles the SMS Hannover was either crippled or destroyed and the raid was a failure, never getting close to the village. As for the French, their squadrons were seriously depleted with 30% to 50% losses but for the survivors, ample medals and rewards.

I look forward to finish painting up the squadrons and running larger battles.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

View form the Yards

Waiting on their conversion
It has been reported to our offices that two of the navies taking part in the building boom have sent two of their ships back to the yards for modifications. This is of significant interest to both our offices and those of the Royal Navy as one of our correspondents has reported.

The French battleship Gaulois has returned to the Arsenal de Brest to have work done on her machinery spaces and have a new forward funnel added. While in the yard she is being inspected by the Armada Española as a possible design for the upcoming Spanish battleship Pelayo. There is much talk in Madrid circles that Spain will go with this design. This becomes a concern for other Mediterranean navies.

Models from Brigade Models
The Ottoman cruiser Turgut Reis has also returned to the yards to receive an upgrade in her main armament. Vickers is installing British heavy barbettes in place of her existing turrets. While this will take her from four main guns down to two, they will offer greater firepower and range. This change puts the Turgut Reis on par with existing Russian and Austro-Hungarian armoured cruisers. This change is also thought to be the beginning of closer ties between the Ottomans and the Royal Navy.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Brassey’s 1889 Naval Annual Mars Fleets

Mars Colonial Fleets
Brassey’s 1889 Naval Annual

Royal Navy on Mars
One Colonial Cruisers 

     HMS-A Newfoundland
Three Monitors

     HMS-A Raglan
     HMS-A Brown
     HMS-A Lucan

Eight Patrol Vessels
Two Dispatch Vessels

French Martian Fleet
One Flag Cruiser
Two Raiders
One Monitor
Eight Patrol Vessels
Image from Brigade Models

Russian Fleet
This reporter has found little official evidence of a Russian fleet on Mars. Currently the

Ministry of Commerce of Imperial Russia states that there is no official military presence on the planet. The Russian-Mars Company only leases ships for trade and exploration. 

The reports of a
Dobrovolets class destroyer have not been confirmed by our reporters.

German Fleet
One Dig Battleship
     SMS Hannover
Brandenburg class Dig Destroyer 

     SMS Bayern
Two Patrol Vessels
Four Merchant Ships

American Navy
One Colonial Cruiser on rotation
Currently USS Keararge

Belgium does have both an economic and a military presence on the planet. Current number of ships is unknown.

Ottoman Balloon deployed on Mars.
Like Belgium, Brazil appears to be making a claim on the resources of the planet. At lease a single cruiser has been reported but no direct evidence is available at this time. 

Ottoman Empire 
The Turks have a minor presence on the planet setting up relationships with many of the hill and krag Martians. Other and airships there is little sign of direct Ottoman military presence on the planet. 

Spanish Empire
Spanish agents and explores have been found on Mars. While the reasons for their presence is uncertain we will continue to report on a possible build up of the Spanish Empire on Mars.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

M51 - A New Old Tank

I have a thing for Israeli equipment. It is more a retro thing I guess. How so, well look at the vehicles used in Lebanon in the 1980s or on the Golan in 1973. The Merkava, right out of Flash Gordon, was used next to the Centurion 105. There were the traditional M113 (with and without bed spring armour) and towards the end even heavy APCs.

By far one of my favorite retro tanks has to be the M51. Known in the west as the Super Sherman or Isherman, this is a Sherman that is married to French 105. While there were changes, including a massive counter weight and muzzle brake, this is a modern AFV able to fight above its weight from the 1960s to the 80s.

Now this vehicle is limited to a number of Israeli conflicts but was never exported in its original form so while the M50 can be used by PLO (captured), South Lebanon Army (exported) and militias (stolen?) the M51 is used on the West Bank in 1967 and a number of actions on the Golan in 1973.

Anyone interested in the M51 will have a hard time digging up information. Information on building models is more common than their combat use or even what units they were assigned to. Recently I found a book on the Israeli Northern Command for 1973 that has helped fill-in the gaps, more on orders of battle latter. Knowing Hebrew does come in handy for research as most online translators return interesting results.

From top to bottom Gaming Models, FOW, SHQ

My renewed interest is that I have now found a new source for the M51 at Gaming Models. This is a company that is little known in the hobby, a niche in a niche hobby, that offers many unique vehicles. The costs are also low enough that if I want to try a new period or theater it is easy. I mean how many R35s does a guy need in German colors. Do not answer that.

So here are my thoughts on the M51 in 15mm from four different suppliers. I was at first surprised that the number was that high for a tank that only 180 were built. Three of the models I own personally, and a gaming chum offered the fourth. I am keeping this simple, basing it on cost and appearance.

FOW to the left, Gaming Models to the right

Flames of War – A good casting and fine detail with heft to the model. It will not be easily knocked around. Paints up well and overall a good model.

Gaming Models – Good casting and detail. It is a resign so it is not overly heavy. Can be purchased primed and is easy to paint up.

Gaming Models left, QRF to the right
Quality Casting – I am reviewing this after see a friend’s miniature and also looking for references online. This was a disappointing model that is not true to scale in height of the body or the turret. Made of white metal and has heft.

QRF - A fair and older design that needs attention. The turret and body seems like it was pushed down, not true to scale. Also made of white metal.

The Flames of War and Gaming Models are the best of the lot. The M51 is not a vehicle that is not big demand for gamers today or for arms merchants in the past, although it could show up in the arms bazars of some imagination. If you want to fight on the Golan, they are both great looking models and either are worth having on the table based on appearance. But if you are looking to fight on the Golan once or twice a year go with the Gaming Models, they look good and are great for the price.

Peter Pig - Russian Scouts

Image from Peter Pig website
Once again Martin over at Perter Pig has done it again. They have now released six packs of WWII Soviet Scouts. Helping to fill a gap in many collections. This will be useful for both creating a platoon of Scouts for Chain of Command to grab a bridge or similar important objective or they can be added in to a units reconnaissance section. I can see these being part of a tank desant platoon. Something I have wanted to do for Chain of Command. Either way a great addition. We even have female snipers, always welcome. Well done to the team at Peter Pig.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Overlord by Max Hastings

This is a famous and well known story of breaking the Atlantic Wall. While not in a great deal of depth, he is trying to cover the entire invasion, Max Hastings shown the little stories not often discussed. It took me too long to read it with school going on.

While my interest were on the Commonwealth side of the lines, I was given a refresher on the American landings, one I did need. What I found most interesting is that this book has become the sources of further books and articles I wish to read. Studies that will show upon the gaming table and articles over the next year.

If you have not read this, take the time it is worthwhile. It covers the political and military side of the start of the invasion.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Secret Santa 2016

Santa's elves discussing the need for more primer and paints.

I hope all of Chris's Christmas Elves are hard at work painting for all of the good little boys and girls. I for one finished mine off last night.

As we in the United States are about to start the holiday I hope you can all take the time to enjoy the season with friends and family. Best wishes to one and all.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Paint Table - Oh My

Well to prove Jonathan Freitag right yes I may have a problem, it is not that big, honest. It is lucky for me there is not a Miniatures Anonymous. So by my count I have the following in different states on my paint table.
  • 33 Aeronefs based, primed and partially painted
  • 11 15mm armoured vehicles and artillery
  • 92 15mm infantry, British Paras and Home Guard

Yes it is sizable.

Overall a packed table.
Infantry are behind the bin.

Two Turkish Balloons.

A French pre-dreadnought and two favorite merchants.

Polish, French and British tanks.
Yes, two distinct groups.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Arms Race - VSF Style

Gaulois next to a typical Royal Navy patrol craft.
It is already known that I am playing Imperial Skies on Mars (and Venus) in lieu of Dreadnought action on Earth, but a minor diplomatic matter came up in ordering the miniatures during and after the Kickstarter, an Arms Race.

First off I had two decent colonial fleets for the British and French with a small smattering of Germans, Americans and merchants. And than the Kickstarter came along and I bought the Russian fleet to get the cute Dobrovolets class destroyers. And as I was buying based on esoteric designs I had to also get the Gaulois class dreadnought.

Dobrovolets Class Destroyer
Image from Brigade Models website
With those on order I had to get a few more Royal Navy vessels, a Brazilian, more merchants, a few balloons and a Ottoman ship. (After the orders I had more battleships and and cruisers than I initially planned on.) And the arms race was off.

The good news is I have most of the ships I need for Mars but the British Colonial Office would like something heavier to off set the French Gaulois class and the German Schleswig-Holstein. I also received my CoreSec order of basing bits. The bad news is I do need more bits before starting the campaign.

For now the fleets have stabilized for the colonial powers on Mars, and working on a fleet list for Venus and the need for digs. It does seem I am having more fun with the planning than playing, but I have had fun with the Imperial Skies rules.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Imperial Skies - Gaulois Class Dreadnought

The Gaulois waiting to be built and based.
Seeing the Gaulois class dreadnought (or should it be battleship) was what clinched it for me to return to the world of Space 1889 and AeroNef through the Kickstarter for Imperial Skies. This is a model that calls out for anyone that loves the pre-dreadnought period of the wet navies.

Now the real Battleship Gaulois did have a lively career in the Mediterranean, ending with her being sunk on 27 December 1916, by UB-47. Now I am sure my Gaulois will also will have a similar exciting career.

I said battleship or more appropriate a pre-dreadnought as the Gaulois looks like an armed ship for this period. It also works for my campaign world that is based in 1889 and not the world or dreadnoughts in 1919, but that is my take on the models that I use.

Based and painted
from the Brigade Models website.