Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Maipo 1818 with 10mm Risk miniatures - First units for both for Realistas and Libertadores

The battle of Maipo, 5 April 1818, was one of the largest battles ever in South America. Around 10.000 men, more or less evenly divided between the Spanish Royalists led by general Osorio and the Liberation army led by the famous General José de San Martin, fought  until almost half of these men were casualties. This battle marked the end of Spanish rule in Chilean lands in spite of the colonial domain in other parts of South America continued for some decades more.
Due to its size Maipo allows to paint and model plenty different units both Infantry and Cavalry in different and colourful uniforms. Don't forget to google sentences like 'uniformes independencia chile/america del sud' for instance in order to find plenty of fine information in Spanish language on these wars. Even if Spanish is not your strongest feature the images will help you a lot.
One of my first units to be finished was the Burgos battalion. The uniforms of the Spanish were mostly white with colar and cuffs of regimental colour making them easy to paint. The flag is hand painted. This battalion had almost 1000 men at Maipo and thus the three bases with total of 48 figures.
The artillery piece is made of the full artilery gun with artilleryman plus two infantry figures with rifle taken out and in one of them replaced by a ramrod.
The artillery limber is another gun without the gun tube and with two cavalry figures pulling it.
The 11th Argentinian battalion had around 450 men, typical for a 'Liberation' battalion and was smaller than their Spanish counterpart. Again a hand painted flag with its battalion number showing clearly something all armies should have done to help future wargamers.
General José de San Martin himself with escort. The shako of a cavalry figure was heated, squashed with the fingers and then cut to the shape of a bicorne.
In the center of this base you can see the main changes to the infantry figures. The officer was cut out of the cannon and a small plastic piece placed as a sword and the same happened to the standard bearer. The drummer is a standard infantry figure with a small cylindrical piece of plastic attached.
Next: an interruption for my Anglo-Zulu war in 20mm.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

South American Wars of Independence with Risk miniatures. First possibilities.

I the 80's I was crazy about playing Risk. Strategy, conquest and pieces moving from one continent to the other. I remember thinking 'If only this game had real miniatures'. And in the 90's they really came. Parker released a big game with no less than 360 Napoleonic miniatures 10mm tall. I was really hooked by these figures on those days. The level of detail and anatomy was very good and in plastic! The best material ever!
I bought one just to remember the good old days... than another just because one day two boxes can be useful... and another one because it was ... 2nd hand and cheap! I ended up with more than 1000 miniatures. Projects? Alamo, Peninsula, Waterloo. No, because all those minis had French style Shakos and turning them into Texans, Prussians or British  would be too complicated and all these ended up made in 20mm or 28mm. So they sat in my basement for another decade or so. Recently I looked for  a period of warfare where I could use them and both sides had French style Shakos and not many conversions would be necessary.
I really wanted to paint and model these ones and so I found the Wars of Independence of South America. Both Spanish on one side and Chileans, Venezuelan, Argentinian, etc on the other side had uniforms based on Napoleon's army and the battles and campaigns were very interesting and so I dove into the life of San Martin, Bolivar and others and learned a bit more from the history of the region. After all, learning is the aim of our hobby.
Each Parker game of around 1997 version (newer versions of Risk have XVIII century figures and the latest some new Napoleonics with rifles that look like a Bazooka) has six frames, each carries 40 infantry, 12 cavalry and 8 cannon. If you look on 2nd hand sites you can still find them. Besides with each one you find you have almost everything you need to wargame the period. And lastly, you probably have the game at home!
The only problem of this version from the 90's is that the infantryman is kneeling which is good for forming square against cavalry but a standing figüre would be much better. Well, we must do with what we have...
I painted an isolated one, just to see if I could still paint such a small thing. It turn out easy, the main difference from bigger sizes is the size of the brush which had to be smaller, that's all.  
Then I made a number of conversions. Limbers from cut off cannons, as I saw from others in the Web, artillerymen with muskets replaced by ramrods, cavalry turned into flag-bearers (with some GreenStuff help) and generals with Shakos turned into Bicornes. The artilleryman that is together with the cannon was carefuly sliced from its gun and used as flag-bearers and officers.
The cavalrymen are great figures and they will be used in almost all units of South America between 1808 and 1829.
Here you can see some Chileans as line infantry and three conversions on the command base, an officer with a plastic card sword, a flag-bearer (these two are taken out from the cannon model) and a drummer with removed rifle and a small plastic cylinder glued. Normal plastic glue can glue this plastic making conversions easy.
Here the half painted Spanish battalion Burgos.  
A fully painted and based infantry battalion will have 32 figures in two big bases each 8cm X 4cm. This number divides well with the 8 companies of a battalion of those armies. The big bases, Impetus style, are also nice as they really give the idea of mass and allow for a better modelled diorama-like basing.
The cavalry will be 6 figures per base of 8cm X 4cm and an artillery base will be one gun with 3 figures on a 4cm X 4cm base.
One last word for  the fantastic site of Steve Balagan. Its armies are 15mm but the level of research and the way he presents its models are not only inspirational but also a true source of information.
If you can write a little Spanish you can improve your findings on the subject as the issue is something obviously big for South Americans.
For now, and also depending on the availability of figures, I aim at representing both sides of the Battle of Maipo 1818, one of the biggest battles in the story of that continent which virtually made Chile independent. In the future, if the future let me, I will models the armies for the Northern campaigns of Bolivar.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

New period

Who guesses what is coming?
Scale, manufacturer and period?
No, I already have a French army for 1808-12 in 20mm.
No, no. I made my Waterloo campaign with 28mm.
Ok, as far as I can see no one hits the mark which is strange for wargamers.
A hint: change continent...
And you my dear JMM can't participate and risk (ups, I'm speaking too much!) the usual fantastic prizes.
Please try to write your answers during the night in order not to clog the web as we are expecting a social impact similar to the release of the new iPhone.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm D-Day 1944 - Omaha Beach (part 17) - Last WN's: 60, 63 and 67

This the last post of this series about the Omaha beach scenario. Sixteen posts ago I started to show you the western German structures, starting withWN 73, and now I'll lead you to the easternest of them all, WN 60.
This one frankly was a little made up. Only the cliffs and the OB that Colin Rumford ordered are a real try to capture our usual compressed reality. All the rest is probably closer to 'Guns of Navarone' than anything else. In spite of having a nice plan of the WN 60 I opted for the high OP and cross shaped trenches which will leave our nice Pope Francis absolutely delighted.
The manned trenches with an all Irregular Miniatures crew. In fact these trenches were not very effective as the cliffs in front hide many US survivors that reached them who would then attack this strongpoint from the rear.
The cliffs are made out of hard Styrofoam as usual. I opened vertical cuts on it with a blunt knife so more crevices could show up. The cliffs were painted black, then dark Brown and finally sand colour with some true sand mixed in. Don't forget to add some PVA glue on each of these operations to garantee some durability of the painting.  
The 'artistic' OP.
The 50mm mortar Tobruk.
A rear view. Only three bombs from the preparatory aerial bombardment hit the German defences, but apparently one of them struck the strairs to the OP against my wish.  
WN 67 was a Wurhframen (32cm rocket launcher) pre-sighted position with around 40 rockets. 
I built a ground metal stucture for four of them out of plastic card and added PSC and Hasegawa crewmen. The Kubelwagen is Hasegawa with Atlantic and Revell crew.
Here it ends Colin's WN's for his scenario on RF! book on D-Day. I've added WN 63, in fact a simple command company bunker on the road to Colleville-sur-Mer, and the Colleville Cemetery, today a big American cemetery with almost 10.000 US WWII servicemen buried there.
WN 63 was a simple bunker for transmissions and command. The very helpful book of George Bernage on Omaha Beach has some nice plans of it.
Bird's view.
One solid block of styrofoam and some paper roundels for the respirators and card doors made the thing.
The cemetery is also an extra and may be the beginning of my Zombie wargames. It was made in card, birthday cake trees and a  photo etched door I had lying around.
I took the oportunity to repaint two Altaya Marder III SP's and crew them with plastic figures for some of the reinforcements from 352nd Division.
As I told you this is the last post of this series.
As reference books for this series I used the inevitable RF! D-Day Campaign Guide by Sir - he and Richard should be by now - Colin Rumford   and also the Heimdal book on Omaha Beach by George Bernage. Mine is in French but there is also the English text version. For me its an invaluable source of information, with clear plans of US assault and German defences and some nice pictures of the real places.
Next I feel like going to South America and get rid of the Spanish (and Portuguese) rule in the beginning of the XIX century. First I was thinking doing so with 10mm Risk miniatures but that fever already passed and I'll do it with my beloved 20mm plastic Napoleonics. But to keep my RF! friends busy (which I know they are not) I'll soon start a series of posts about the British D-Day beaches.
Don't forget to support the mighty Sporting CP in its struggle  to defeat the horrendous Benfica and Porto, the two real faces of evil on earth! In particular Benfica (as my son is Porto) that has around 6 million supporters, they say, in a total population of 10 million. So if most of our awful forest fires are man-made it means most of them are ignited by Benfica fans. Obvious conclusion.
See you soon.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm D-Day 1944 - Omaha Beach (part 16) - WN 61

WN 61, together with WN 62, was closing the acess to E3, the road to Colleville. This WN was placed lower down the bluffs and entering the beach itself. It housed another powerful A/T 88mm PAK 43 like the one in the oposite far end of the beach on WN 72. These two guns could crossfire the entire lenght of the beach.

There was a captured 37mm Puteaux gun from a French tank on Tobruk. This one is in fact 1/87th scale as I didn't want to ruin any of my precious French tanks for 1940 or German for 1944.

The 88mm PAK 43 this time is an Irregular Miniatures 100mm Russian A/T gun. I bought a few for my late war Russians but then I noticed how similar to the German gun this one was and I used it in my WN 61 with a few cuts here and there and some shortening of the trail. The crew is made of the eternal Airfix DAK officer and three gunners from the Pioneer Revell box converted to artillerymen with some rounds of 88mm ammo from Hasegawa.

I didn't want this WN too big (where the hell am I going to find 5 meters of table...) so I improvised some space for the extra six figures behind sand bags.  

Rear view of the strongpoint.  

The main bunker started as an isolated piece I made years ago but it's really completely different from the original H 667 model. But due to laziness (and having new stuff on my mind...) I left it like it was to save time. A true and excellent alternative model is provided by the Italeri D-Day diorama.

Next: the last few WN's: WN 60, WN 63 and WN 67.


Friday, 18 August 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm D-Day 1944 - Omaha Beach (part 15) - Shermans Dozer, DD's and PT Boat

We need eighteen Sherman to portray correctly the 741st and 743rd tank Battalion on Omaha Beach. Trusting the high casualty rate of all these machines on that day I only built up to now three Sherman DD full model and three other bottom flat models (in fact the the only difference between them is the absence of wheels) and one Dozer. More to come in the future I hope, in spite of that thing - the future, I mean - being a strange and uncertain matter.
The Sherman DD are conversion from the very old and relatively useless Atlantic soft plastic model. I built a new mantlet for the 75mm gun and the metal and canvas structures and vertical exhaust pipes were made out of plastic card and two component paste.
I chose to model the swimming models with the canvas down as if they are very close to shore but also because I may just add their wheels and tracks and turn them into full models.
The Sherman Dozer is a Britannia model .
Finally a Revell PT Torpedo Boat to protect the 'Mason Line' from the dangerous German S-Boats.
Next: WN 61.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm D-Day 1944 - Omaha Beach (part 14) - WN 62

Well my friends this series is running quickly towars its end, maybe three or four posts more and all will be done. The good news for beach lovers is that I still have to show you my stuff for the British beaches.
 This post is about the famous strongpoint of the equally famous German soldiers Severloh and Gockel who behind a MG 42 and a Polish MMG  caused tremendous casualties on the Americans.
There were two such bunkers (only one operational) at WN 62 with Czech 7,62 cm guns but I obediently placed a French 75mm  FG inside according to Master Colin's orders.
Models? The usual Britannia MG42 and Irregular Miniatures gun and crew.
This Britannia OP bunker was my first for the Atlantic Wall and so it had to fit somewhere.  The original one on WN 62 was smaller but this one can also have the place for the Tobruk 50mm mortar.

The 50mm mortar is the usual Esci conversion.
The MG bunker was made out of an electricity junction box. Always check these kind of stuff as they can be useful even allowing roofs to be taken out.
Gockel used its Polish MMG under some logged construction. So I built with barbecue sticks this removable wood bunker. Only when ammunition was low the Germans started to use tracer bullets which showed the way to USN fire forcing these positions to be abandoned.
The view from the rear.
And from the top.  
Next: Sherman Dozer and Sherman DD's.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm D-Day 1944 - Omaha Beach (part 13), German beach obstacles

These are the several types of the beach obstacles I made so far for Omaha Beach defences. The ones at the bottom of the picture  (obstruction beams/Hemmbalken) have no base as they are intended to stay inside water while all other are for the beach itself. Another exception without base is the top barbed wire type which was made to go along rough or sloping terrain.
I painted this type of barbed wire in metal colours but they could also be wood colour. This kind of barbed wire was intended for removal to allow passage for personnel and vehicles. They are made of plasticard beams and metal barbed wire from HO train accessories.   
The second type of barbed wire was fixed on the ground and also mined. Its made from pieces of cocktail sticks (you can buy it cheap on supermarkets or wait for the next barbecue to have 'veteran' ones).
 The anti-tank  Dragon's Teeth are resin Britannia pieces.

The Hedgehogs on top are Britannia and carry a mine on top (in fact salt water rendered these mostly inefective). The ones below are home made from HO train rails, in fact like the original thing.  
The Hemmbalken are coctail sticks again  like the Rommel Asparagus. I made the mines with pieces of rod suitably melted with a lighter until the desired shape is obtained.
The Tetrahedrons have the same objective as the Hedgehogs, that is to rip a hole in allied landing craft while closing to the shore. Its was mainly due to the number of beach obstacles that the allies waited for the low tide in order to expose them but at the same time increasing the depth of the beach to be crossed under fire. It was an option, none of them was perfect. 
Next: WN 62 of the famous Gockel and Severloh.