Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Second Battle of Kharkov

I found in my research an interesting potential scenario for Chain of Command. On the first day of the Russian Offensive (May 12th, 1942), the town of Nepokrytaya was the headquarters of Gruppe Winkler. Most of the infantry had abandoned the town due to the approach of Soviet tanks (Actually British Matilda IIs and some Valentines) that their poor quality anti-tank weapons could not damage. What remained in the town were the Regimental Headquarters and two German 1.FH 18 howitzer batteries. These were 10.5cm guns. These directly engaged the approaching tanks and disabled six of them causing the Soviets to break off their attack.

I thought this could make for an interesting encounter. I have been searching the web for appropriate maps of the area. My go to spot does not have maps of the area east of Kharkov. It does have situational maps for each day of the battle though. Here is an excerpt of the May 11th, 1942 map that covers the general area.

You can clearly see the 6 AOK position in Kharkov and the bridgehead at Staryi Saltov.

I did find a new site today. It is a Russian site but it has fantastic maps. It may have what I want in a 1:25000 scale which would be perfect. The problem is, I have to translate them to figure out what I am looking at. I have the general area M 37-062. I just need to find the right subpart.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Back Among the Living

Just had another issue with my Ulcerative Colitis and spent the weekend in the hospital. Had to get a blood transfusion but am now well on the mend.

Being bored out of my skull did get me working on another project, the Second Battle of Kharkov in May 1942. This one is interesting as it involved a wide variety of units that are all worn out from the winter battles of 1941-42. The Soviets have hastily rebuilt units that are rushed to the front with bare minimum training that lack fuel, food and ammunition for an offensive that they launch anyway. The Germans are building up for their own offensive and are not much better situated logistically. The Germans rushed a rear area security division to plug holes in the front lines that features Czech equipment (MGs, rifles and the like) rather than German equipment. Provides some interesting modeling opportunities. Also Romanian and Hungarian units were used in prominent front line positions.

The Germans lacked sufficient anti-armor capabilities. The 3.7cm PAK and the 5cm PAK were still the main anti-tank weapons held by the divisions. Some Luftwaffe 8.8cm guns were availible. German armor was mostly older gear but some Panzer III Js and Panzer IV F2s were availible that were capable of dealing with the Soviet KV-1s and T-34s.

The Soviets fielded lend lease equipment in at least one of the Tank Brigades (90th Tank Brigade) that was equipped with Valentine and Matilda II tanks. Most of the equipment availible to the offensive was still older T-60 and T-70 tanks.

So the campaign is interesting in that it features two competing offensives. The German Operation Fridericus and the Soviet pincer to recapture Kharkov. The Soviets got their campaign under way first but they ran into a prepared German Army that was able to counter punch and deal a devastating blow to the Soviet Armies in the SouthWestern Front.

I have about 10 pages of notes that I wrote in the hospital that I need to transform into something usable. The background to the campaign will probably be done in a few days. The problem will be in picking units for the Chain of Command Campaign(s). The thought is that I would do it similar to my First Kharkov Campaign and offer multiple campaigns in the supplement to cover some of the action. But I have NO CLUE which units to cover yet. I am thinking of having at least one that features an Axis Ally such as the Romanians or Hungarians.

I have been busy shopping for books and came up with several useful tomes. One issue I have is that I am finding conflicting information out there. The Osprey book on the battle has some bad data about vehicles. It lists the Marder II with the Soviet 76.2mm gun as being present when they didn't reach the front until June.

Anyway, just a brief update. I have managed to paint one M1 Abrams tank for a Cold War project as well.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Pirates Campaign

I have been working on a Pirates supplement for Sharp Practice. It is currently in the hands to Nick for editing and inclusion in the Christmas Special. I am in a rush to paint up my own forces for this. I have worked on the ships. Now I need the figures.

I started with the Spanish. First up is some Spanish Militia.

Then I painted a group of Spanish Regulars.

Not sure if I will finish out these guys or try my hand at Pirates.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Campaign for Kharkov - Errata Now Availible

I have created an Eratta Doc for the Campaign for Kharkov. There were some things I missed the first go and I have had questions on. The Errata doc is availible here. Thanks again.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Yep, I found my brushes and started to paint. I had some old Peter Pig government Troops from their pirates range base coated. I rooted around the mess that is my games room and found the paints I needed. Honestly, I didn't make great progress but I actually got paint on lead. I think I will invest in some black gesso to start undercoating. I really have no place I can use a spray primer and not get in trouble. So something brush on is a must.

The Peter Pig minis are fun to paint. My hands have been behaving themselves and not shaking badly. Well, not too badly. I have a good start with these and may make enough progress to take a picture later this week.

I have my first seven figures painted and washed in a black wash that was way too much ink. I have some repair work to do.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sorting Through My Pirate Hordes

In looking at setting up a Pirate campaign for Sharp Practice, I needed to figure out what figures I had bought and what were still needed. As my normal, I am making both a pirate force and a Spanish force. The Spaniards are the easiest to figure out. If you look at most of the base forces for SP you see them set up as a pyramid. Three groups of one type, two groups of another and one group of skirmishers. That is the base force.

So in looking at what a typical defensive force would be availible in the Caribbean, I made up the following base force. Three groups of 8 Militia. These are not the militia of the AWI that were called up with whatever they had availible. Instead these are the town guards who were uniformed and trained. From what I have found out, they were uniformed in a red coat. I will have three groups of eight of these fellows. The figures are all older Peter Pig miniatures that lack a bayonet on their musket. Interestingly, these figures are no longer availible on the Peter Pig Website. They have been replaced by some other fellows sporting bayonets. The Militia will be rated as Conscripts and Volunteers.

The next tier of troops will be Spanish Regulars. Again, I am using Peter Pig Miniatures, this time the government troops sporting bayonets. This made an easy distinction between the regulars and the Militia. Based on images that I have found on the internet, I am giving them white uniforms. Apparently there may be grenadiers availible as well as there were some present in West Florida for a couple of the battles they participated in during the American Revolution and the uniforms seemed to have changed very little. I will just use plain musketeers as that is the only troops I have. I have one group of eight so far. I need to place another order from Peter Pig. The other option is to grab the Pirate Hunters pack from Rebel Miniatures to add some more variety to them. I may go with that. The plan is to have two groups of 8 of this troop type.

But what about the final group? That is where I am stuck. I am thinking that this may be scenario dependent. For example, if it is pirates raiding a village or town, it could be a group of armed townsfolk. If it were an action at sea, it could be Spanish sailors. Or just another group of Militia or Regulars. The answer is, I don't know yet.

For basing, I have some small 20mm round bases that I plan on using along with some Sabot bases that I bought from Litko. This should get them looking all properly martial.

But for my pirate force, I am going with group sizes of 12 figures. As such, they will be very dangerous in hand to hand but should be outmatched in a firefight. At this point I have the following figures:

8 pirates with custlasses
8 pirates with muskets
8 pirates with pistols

These are the results of purchasing those corresponding Peter Pig packages. I did not have the variety that I was really looking for. I was disappointed that there are not improvised weapons availible from the Peter Pig Range. Love to see a fellow with a belaying pin or a boarding pike. But I did find in the Museum Miniatures Pirate range they have boarding pikes and coachguns! So an order has been sent out for a pack of each of those. They should show up at some point.

What I am aiming for is groups of mixed armament. Some of everything in each group. They will not be able to enter into formation so basing will all be individual. I have some thoughts on the number of pirate groups but I will save that for later as I hope to have it as an article in the Christmas TFL special.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Ever Expanding Fleet

Having some ships on my desk has been great. I managed to paint up one of the dinghy's and my tripoli gunboat. I am tempted to add the lanteen sail to the Tripoli gunboat. I think that might look pretty good. And it would still be removable with the main mast.

I am really happy with the deck of the tripoli gunboat. I used a buff paint and washed it with a Vallejo wash. Granted, it looks good to my color blind eyes and may be hideous to everyone else. I think the benches on the dinghy are too light. They received the same wash and still stand out too much, I think. But they are ready for some crew.

Interestingly, the dinghy from Sea Dog Miniatures is the PERFECt size for a ships boat for the Buccaneer Sloop! It fits perfectly behind the mast.

I have an armed pinnace on the desk as well as two Old Glory sailed rowboats. I am really appreciating the Sea Dog Miniatures ships. They are a joy to paint. They are simple to build and the guns for the armed pinnace and the tripoli gunboat are interchangeable! They look more robust than the Old Glory stuff I have to compare them with. Now if I only had time to paint my sailors rowing from Peter Pig, I could really get moving. But there are not enough hours in the day.

Just finished a couple more small boats.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Buccaneer Sloop - Sea Dog Game Studios

I finally got around to work on my Buccaneer Sloop. The ship is beautiful. It is however bigger, scale wise, to my 26 gun frigate. This is not that big of a deal at the moment. I intend to get a few more 15mm ships from Sea Dog to round out my 15mm fleet. Probably the 12 gun Brig.

I just finished with the masts. The instructions were printed on a sheet of paper that was folded. So 1/4th of the page was the mast assembly. I hate to admit it, but I had to put on readers in order to make out what the measurements were. The next problem was finding a rules with measurements in metric. Every tape measure and ruler I could find in the house was in inches. I finally found a paper cutter with centimeters on it and used it.

What I like about this kit is that it comes with a special bracket to assemble the booms. It makes the attachment to the main mast so much simpler and sturdier than just super gluing them together. I wish they had something similar for the two spars. Those are just raw super glue joins. Speaking of the spars, I seem to have run out of dowel to complete the build. My largest leftover piece only measured 40mm and I need 70mm for the uppermost yard. I will work on that later tonight.

The hull itself was very clean. There were a few lines that needed to be trimmed around the gun ports. All in all, I am very impressed with the ship so far. The lack of spar is most likely poor planning on my part. That is all now sorted and the ship is ready for painting.

Which, I went ahead and did. Sorry for the poor picture of my messy desk. I painted the deck a beige Brown and the hull a chocolate Brown. The gunport area is a blue. I went with a lighter color for the gun carriages and ships wheel. The masts are a yellow ochre. The hull received a black wash to dirty it up. For a quick and dirty paint job, its not too bad. Also felt great to get something done.

I hope to work on the Tripoli gunship and some of the row boats next. The row boats are on my desk as I type. Maybe sometime this year, it will see the table in a game.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Games Room Update

I have unpacked all of my miniatures and had the cabinets installed. I have placed all of the doors on the lower cabinets. I still have to put the doors on some of the upper cabinets that line the wall. The opposite wall has some great windows that let in light. I still have cabinets to do something with. I have a bookshelf that I need to move down to the game room but am unable to carry it by myself.

I have had only one casualty from the move. The table that I was going to use as my games table broke. Now I need to build something. My initial thought is to get a sheet of plywood and cut it in half to make a fold away table. That is possibly a project for next week if I am able to do it.

The biggest find is a label maker. I can now label my miniatures drawers in order to know what is in them. I have about a dozen drawers that have no labels on them.

The games room build it taking forever as I am only managing a few minutes a day to work on it. Mostly because there is so much work to do in unpacking in the new house. But progress is still being made. I will post pictures once I get all of the doors on the cabinets.

For those of you who have made your own gaming tables, what suggestion would you offer for table height?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Move Complete

We finally have all of our stuff in the new house. I have managed to get most of my miniatures into the game room. Only able to get in an odd minute here and there to straighten up but it is going well. I now have all of my 6mm and 15mm navies organized and sorted out. I thought I had lost some of these ships in the move but just uncovered them this afternoon.

Now I just need to get some free time to paint something.