Friday, May 31, 2013

Trouble at the Mill Give Away Day 5

WoW! The giveaways get better and better. Trouble at the Mill has a whopper today. £25 gift card for the TooFatLardies! I am all over this one.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tinkering with Terrain - Trees

I had posted earlier in the week about attempting to make a couple stands of trees. Well here is the one stand that I have finished thus far.

I am partially experimenting with the camera on my phone so that explains 3 pictures of the same thing. I experimented with adding a vine going up one of the trees. I am not sure that I am happy with the look of it.

Do leafy vines grow up the side of trees in Europe the way they do here in the states? Here in Georgia, I have vines of poison ivy going up the pine trees in my back yard that are some four inches in diameter.

Note: Do not cut into one of those vines with a chain saw unless you are wearing a bio-warfare suit. Breathing in the dust nearly landed me in the hospital the one time I tried it.

Another Great Giveaway

Exile's Painting is doing a great giveaway for it's 3rd Blog Anniversary. There are some very nice items up for grabs. Take a look.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Writing Progress

The CSIR supplement is coming along at a better speed. I am well into the scenarios now. At this point in time, the supplement will feature 22 scenarios for IABSM and an additional 12 scenarios for either Troops, Weapons & Tactics or Chain of Command.

The first 16 of the scenarios are complete and in the hands of volunteer reviewers of which I am grateful. I plan on posting a sample scenario when all is said and done. Once the draft of each scenario is complete, I need to redo the scenario maps as these are crayoned out in MSPaint at the moment. I have Campaign Cartographer but some of the elements that I have are not compatible with Windows8. That has held up progress for quite a while. But fortunately that obstacle was just overcome. If you are not familiar with ProFantasy Software, it is an excellent map making software. It is far more involved than I am able to utilize. I like it in that I can produce a map that does not look like my 4 year old drew it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Weekend's Work

A long holiday weekend netted me one disaster and the start of two stands of pine trees. First with the disaster. In attempting to clip off the holster from my Padre figure, I managed to shatter the stole around his neck. I got disgusted with the negative progress so I turned my attention to some terrain.

I started to make two 6" by 4" stands of pine woods. The base is computer motherboard material whose name I have long since forgotten. The base was covered with a mix of sand, water and PVA glue with some Woodland Scenics tree sprues glued to them. As of this morning, the glue was not yet dry. Hopefully tonight, I will be able to paint the base and get some progress going on this.

Trouble At the Mill, Day 2 Giveaway

It is Day 2 of Trouble at the Mill's giveaway. The give away is here. The figures are some Lord of the Ring Miniatures. A nice prize up for the taking. Great blog if you have not seen it before.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Trouble at the Mill give away Day 1

The author of the excellent terrain article in the new TFL Special - Mike Whitaker, is doing a giveaway on his blog. So far the prizes look pretty good. I am eying the airfix stuff, myself. Check out Trouble at the Mill's Giveaway.

New Arrivals - TFL Summer Special

I just opened my e-mail box to find the Summer 2013 TFL Special. For those of you not familiar with the specials, they are a fantastic value for you money. They are chock full of goodness. From Rich's IABSM campaign to Mike Whitaker's terrain article for Dux Britannarium to a War of the Roses conversion for Sharp Practice and beyond the outer reaches of space with Robert Avery's Q13 scenario there is plenty of information.

Head on over to and take a look at it. It is 133 pages of quality war gaming material. I am working my way through the first article now. I have to say, I always learn something new with each article. I also have found an interest in periods I had never previously considered.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Urban Terrain Ideas - Help Needed

As I can see the finish line approaching of my CSIR scenarios, I find I need to expand my terrain setups. Particularly for the later scenarios featuring the attacks on Shelesnoje, Gorlovka and Nikitovka that need urban and industrial settings.

A little searching on Google revealed the following images that based on the descriptions of the fighting seemed apt. These were pulled from a Russian site that the text with them reported that these images were taken by Italian troops.

I would give credit where I pulled these, but I somehow lost the source. The description of the cities of the Donets Basin spoke of everything being gray by the dust of the mines. Piles of refuse from the mines forming pyramids within the cities. Factories and industry surrounded by mud huts and shacks with few modern looking buildings except the few show piece buildings that were built for "cultural" reasons by the communist party.

More of Google's help gave some nice pictures of the attack on Gorlovka by the Italians. These I have found on a number of sites as well as in several books that I have found.

I have a couple of items that I want to try to build. All of my stuff is for 15mm or 6mm. The first is some mining type stuff. Looking for HO scale mining stuff, I could not figure out anything close to what I wanted. Also some of what I did find was very expensive. Anyway, here is what I was looking to build:

This picture is from GoogleMaps and is a Rock processing facility just a 1/4 of a mile from my office building. They blast once a week and I can feel my office shake when they do this. The rock is actually part of Stone Mountain, the largest Confederate Memorial in the United States. My guess is that it is probably the largest Confederate Memorial in the world, but you never know. Anyway, I was thinking of making something like this for my table. Any suggestions?

After that, I need some factory looking places. There are plenty of HO scale and 15mm scale items to get this moving. However, if I was to scratch build some, what materials should I use? Foam core seems too thick for 15mm buildings. Definitely not for 6mm. Is Cardstock the way to go or Balsa? Anything else I should look at?

So far, I have what I need for a rural village. I have a bunch of nice thatched roofed buildings from Ebay. The seller aylafred has some nice stuff. If you contact him, he will get the items painted as per the pictures on Ebay for very reasonable prices. Take a look. He had a Coal Storage thing that I want but it seems to not be on the current for sale list. Also there was a factory with a broken chimney that would be useful too. Anyone know of a source for cheap, tall, round industrial chimneys?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

40K - page views that is

Well, I went to check how things were going and low and behold, I broke the 40,000 mark in page views. Its always encouraging to hit such a milestone. The one I would like to reach is 100 followers. Still, thank you everyone for stopping by and looking at my small portion of the web.

Tenente Don Traversa Natale - Padre figure for my CSIR troops

Last night I finished off the minor changes on my Padre figure. Ultimately, this is not the figure I wanted to go with as he lacks some of the drama I wanted for the figure. He looks way too subdued. There is a figure in the Peter Pig WWI Russian pack that I really want to convert that has his arms out stretched as if he was giving a benediction. A simple head swap and some modeling clay for his stole thing and it would be good to go.

Until that day comes, I will go with this one. In my last post, (Making of a Padre) I started the conversion and the one before that (Looking for a Padre) I showed what I was looking to accomplish.

Well here is my final effort. Painting tiny crosses on the stole proved to be beyond my ability as well as a cross around the good padre's neck. Instead there are some suggestive blobs of paint in the appropriate location. My eyes just were not up for the challenge last night.

So the figure went from this officious officer:

To this kind padre who is serving his flock:

I must say, I do not like doing figure conversions. The worst part was the fiddly little stole around his neck. There is a thin dot of super glue holding it in place at the moment. Looking at him now, I am not sure I should have left his holster in place. Would that have been acceptable in the field to allow pistols to military chaplains? Any thoughts?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Making of a Padre Part 1

I grabbed my figure that I was going to morph into my Italian Padre figure for my CSIR army. He originally was to be a senior officer figure.

He has a couple of problems. The first is the binoculars. That was the first thing that had to go. Next was he needed that light purple scarf thing around his neck and some kind of cross around his neck. Out came the scalpel and the modeling clay.

The modeling clay that I was using was hard to make a consistent width strip of "cloth" out of for a 15mm figure. This is the 5th attempt that I decided to go with. The silver patch is where the binoculars were removed off of the figure. Now I need to paint the cloth and the missing patch of uniform. Then add the black cross patch to the left shirt pocket. After that, I will paint on a cross that is dangling around his neck. Why paint? Because 8 attempts at making one out of clay to use all ended in disaster. Apparently, I have no skill as a sculptor.

Now, why does one need a padre figure for an Italian WWII army? Well, in my pursuit of mapping out the actions of the 80th Roma regiment as it traveled over 1400 kilometers across the Ukraine from August to December 1941, there was one presence that continually made it self evident through all of their actions. That of Tenente Don Traversa Natale. From the very first actions at Jasnaja Poljana through the urban fighting around Gorlovko(Golowka ) to being surrounded at Nitikovka, the good padre was present with the troops. He was holding mass outside of Gorlovko when mortar shells began raining down on his position. One landed close enough that it destroyed a painting of the Madonna that he had brought with him from Italy. He remained upright and completed mass even while the troops scrambled for cover. He was at the front giving last rites to dying men and helping to treat the wounded. When there was no shooting, he helped the locals repair their abandoned chapels and offered mass to them. He was such a presence around the men of the 80th Roma that it seems he needed to be represented somehow. Especially in a larger game like IABSM.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I'm looking for a Padre....

I have briefly mentioned that I am looking to create a Padre figure for my Italian army. It took some searching but finally I came up with what these guys looked like in uniform rather than their priestly vestments. Here are the pictures that I have found through Google's help around the internet.

First up we have a chap who appears to be actually working amongst the people and troops. This is ultimately the look I am going for.

This sharply dressed fellow shows the main differentiation between the officers and the Padre. The large cross on the chest of the uniform blouse is the main item. It seems that some wore a cross around their neck as well and the "scarf" looking thing.

This sharp dressed fellow provides another look.

Now, if this toy is correct, we are looking at a blue (help me here, being color blind is not fun) "scarf" looking deal to go with it.

I have a Battlefront Officer figure with hands behind his back. This is OK. I wanted something more dynamic. On the TooFatLardies Yahoo group, I was informed about a figure in the Peter Pig WWI range in pack 66. This is a neat figure as it has its arms spread. I would need a head swap for the right hat. Also the pouch on its chest would need to go. Possibly carve it to a cross? Then add the scarf looking thing as well. I will probably make 2 of these. The first with the figure that I have and the second with the Russian Peter Pig figure.

I am also willing to take other suggestions.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Corpo di Spedizione Italiano in Russia in 15mm

Following with the theme of the last post, I have decided to take some pictures of the Italians that I have. First is a picture of one of the trays from the shelf with the majority of the infantry company. These are in several stages of being done.

Regimental Support

The force that I am ultimately modeling is that of the 80th Roma Regiment of the Pasubio Division. The Regiment is formed by three battalions. In addition they had a support of a battery of 6 mortars and a battery of 8 field guns.

Mortar Battery

Eventually, I will get one of the Battlefront Forward Observer packs for the mortar battery. In reality, it is doubtful that actual 81mm mortars would see service on my tabletop as for skirmish level games, they would be far off table. Yet I still have a couple of Peter Pig packs of 81mm mortars.

Field Gun Battery

The Field Gun battery of the 80th Roma Regiment was composed of eight 65mm/17 mountain howitzers. I have a pair of 65mm guns that are from Battlefront. One is painted and the other is still on painting sticks.

Infantry Battalion

The Italian Infantry Battalion is formed by four companies. Three are line infantry companies. The fourth is the heavy company. The heavy company is formed by a platoon of light 18-45mm mortars and a platoon of eight machine guns. In addition, the battalion each had a platoon of Esploratori or scouts.

Esploratori Platoon

The scout platoon was formed only by rifle sections. I have found no reference to these troops having any support weapons or light machine guns. These men were tasked with identifying the enemy for the infantry to push forward and take them out.

Machinegun Platoon

The MG platoon is partially painted.

Light Mortar Platoon

The Light Mortar Platoon has only 8 45mm mortars as part of its formation. Of these only one is painted.

Infantry Company

The company HQ for an Italian Infantry company is composed of two officers and 28 men. There is a considerable lack of details on what these 28 men where. Were they supernumeraries like clerks, cooks or armorers? Were they a source of replacement troops in the instance of losses suffered on campaign? Were they an additional squad of men to fight? What is fairly certain is that they were not sporting the 20mm Soluthrun AT Rifle in 1941 in Russia. Until I learn better, I view them as cooks & clerks and replacement troops. With a full squad consisting of about 21 men, we can assume that there is a combat squad worth in the midst of this host of 28. The remainder are the supernumeraries.

Infantry Platoon 1

The Infantry platoon was one of the oddest formations of any nation in the war. The platoon headquarters consisted of the officer. The body of the platoon was split into two very large squads. These consisted of a pair of Light machine gun teams and a large rifle team.

The light machine gun teams each consisted of a light machine gunner, its loader and a two man security team. The rifle team is a large group of 11 men. The squad has two NCOs commanding it.

Infantry Platoon 2

I have changed my basing for the second platoon. This one is complete as well.

Infantry Platoon 3

This platoon is incomplete at this point. I still need to paint a full rifle team and two LMG teams. One of the pairs of LMG teams is painted but needs to be varnished and based.


As may be apparent from previous posts, I like to have casualty figures in my games. Here are my few Italian casualties. These still need a little work on their basing.

Divisional Support

The divisional support comes from an artillery regiment of 100mm and 75mm guns. In addition there is an Engineer Company, two anti-tank companies and am 81mm mortar battalion.

Anti Tank Gun Platoon

The Italian 45mm anti-tank gun was all the Italians had to counter any Soviet armor that they came across. By 1941, the weapon was obsolete against anything but the oldest of the Soviet equipment. Yet the Italians used them across the front. Mostly, they used artillery to counter any armor that they found.

Divisional Engineers

The Italian engineers has two separate roles and corresponded to two separate engineering companies within the division. The first was the construction crew that handled all bridging operations of the division. They created pontoon bridges and the like to cross the rivers of the Ukraine. The second are the destroyer companies or combat engineers. These are the fellows sporting flame throwers and explosives to clear out tough obstacles. None of my engineers are painted.

Divisional Artillery

This is in the same situation as my Battalion mortars. I am awaiting a forward observer unit. During the retreat of the winter of 1942/43, there were numerous examples of Italian gunners being used in the front lines to cover the retreat. However, in 1941, only the forward observers would be close to contact with the enemy.

Army Support

In the early days of the campaign, some units were taken from either other Divisions or from the CSIR itself and attached to the Pasubio division on an informal basis. This included units of motorcycle mounted Bersaglieri and some armor from the cavalry division.

San Giorgio Battalion Tank Platoon.

The only armor to accompany the CSIR into the Soviet Union was a battalion of L3/33 tankettes. These were all the dual machine-gun armed vehicles and none sported the 20mm AT Rifle or flame throwers that were to be found in the Italian armored divisions in the desert. The platoon was a unit of five vehicles. Only the command track would have a radio. I still need to pick one of the vehicles to make into the command vehicle and add an antenna.

Bersaglieri Motorcyclists Platoon

I have both a mounted and dismounted platoon. A company of motorcyclists was attached to the 80th Roma Regiment throughout 1941. These tough men rode where ever they were needed and provided much of the reconnaissance that the regiment needed.

Italian Cavalry

I have not come across any evidence that the Cavalry directly operated with the infantry but, I really like the Italian cavalry. So I have a platoon of cavalry. None of which have seen a bit of paint.

What's Missing

That is difficult to say. I would like a more dynamic looking senior officer type to represent Colonello Chiarimonti who was all over the battlefield when his regiment was engaged. I would also like to find a suitable "Padre" figure for the regimental chaplain who did not hide in the background when the bullets were flying.

For some reason, I do not enjoy painting these figures. I love them when they are complete, but painting them has just been a chore that is taking forever to finish.

Hmmm... Now where was that....

I am not the most organized person in the world. In an effort to organize I made a good purchase a few years ago. My church was selling off old furniture and the music department was selling their sheet music storage cabinets. This cabinet has three columns of shelves that will perfectly hold 15mm miniatures - foot, cavalry or vehicles. It will also keep 28mm figures that are on foot as the 5 28mm figures that I own are not comfortably resting within it.

The unit has 12 rows of shelves for a total of 36 shelves. Each was made to store sheet music. In my case, they store lots of little lead men. Now, last year, my wife was irritated that I kept bringing shelf after shelf into the house trying to find things. Handing me the label maker she banished me to the garage until I had each shelf properly labeled with what I had. From the picture, you can see the results of the effort. While this helped me know what miniatures where in what shelf, I still did not necessarily know what was in each shelf.

Early last year, or was it 2011, I attempted to start to catalog what I had so I would not end up double buying figures that I already had. I did not get very far. Over the next few weeks, I am going to be opening the cabinet and photographing the shelves and listing these out. This comes after spending Sunday evening rummaging through shelves looking for a figure that I just knew that I had but could not find where it was supposed to be.

Terrain is a completely different animal. Only the smallest bits of terrain really fit within the confines of the cabinet. I am using part of the shelves for my workbench to hold the boxes of terrain that I have at this point. One day, I might even organize that. But too much organization all at once has to be bad for you.

OOps. I hit the submit button before I had the picture in place.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

More Painting Accomplished

Tonight was rather productive. I finished my first set of Old West miniatures. First up is the leader of the gang, Bad Bob. This is from the Peter Pig line, "Hey you in the jail." I really like these character packs. They include a mounted, dismounted and dead figure.

Next up are the rest of his gang. The figures are from their gunmen with pistols pack. The dead poses are from their dead gunmen pack. I tried to paint them in pairs of matching living and dead poses.

These were great fun to paint. I have several more figures to paint up. Oddly enough I have 2 other of the character packs: the sheriff and the marshal. What surprised me is all three of the character packs that I own all are armed with shotguns. I was hoping that there would be at least one with a shotgun. Anyway, these will be used with the Lard Approved "Tin Star" rules.

Next up is what I received in the mail. My major prize that I won from the Mad Padre's recent contest. It is a lovely 28mm adventurer figure. It is full of character and Mike did a great job of painting it up. One day I will have to look into a pulp army of some sort.

Lastly, I finished painting but not yet basing 14 Italian Riflemen, 3 sergeants armed with Barretta SMGs and a lieutenant for my 3rd and final platoon for my CSIR Italian force. In addition, I finished up a 65mm mountain gun. I hope that I can get the basing finished this week.