Friday 23 December 2016

Final Post for 2016 - S Range conversion - 72nd (Duke of Albany's Own Highlander) Regt of Foot

I have a copy of Timothy Reese's Cd Uniforms of the British Army of the Crimean War which I hadn't looked at for a while and whilst browsing through it I noticed that the 72nd Foot wore trews rather than kilts.  I thought this would make a bit of a change.  I could have just gone for the British Infantry in pork pie pose, but I thought the bonnet would be more striking.

So I set about my usual head swap.  This proved a bit more difficult as the base of the bonnet is moulded against the blanket roll of the back pack.  Having done many head swaps, I got a bit too cocky and managed to slice the scalpel blade into my finger!  Lots of blood and plasters later, I took a bit more care and managed to work away sufficient metal to free the head (which in the end didn't take too long) and them it was a simple twist and 'bob's your uncle' the head came away freely and cleanly. I used the body of the line infantry with a pork pie hat as I had one to hand.  Then it was a simple paint job.  Red is the predominant colour and at one stage my figure looked rather like Father Christmas!  My apologies in advance for my attempt at the Prince Charles Edward Stewart tartan. I think I need a bit more practice!  

I am going to make a  'one off' for the Officer  - again head swap. Using the Highland Officer head and a Light Infantry Officer's body and adding a plaid from green stuff. Hopefully, this will be easier.   

The standard bearers may be a bit of a challenge but again they can be 'one offs'. 

But what about the Piper? Should he also wear trews? That could be a tricky conversion as it will probably require an upper body swap which I haven't done before. 

Or just make a drummer and/or a bugler with a bonnet which would be a much easier head swap conversion.  Any thoughts?

Wednesday 21 December 2016

S Range Crimean Cossack Lancer conversions

A little while ago I posted some pictures of a conversion of a Russian Line Dragoon to a lancer by means of an arm swap.

John Cunningham kindly thought they were worth adding to his S Range Recast and Conversions catalogue and I have finally got around to painting up a unit as cossacks. 

Thursday 24 November 2016

ShipBase III Naval Computer rules from 1993

As part of my voyage of nostalgia in the loft following the discovery of my old Airfix Ancient Romans and Britons I came across all my old WW1 and WW2 ships and planes.  I remembered some fun games using a computerised set of all called ShipBase III Tactical Naval Combat 1890-1945 by David L.Ferris and John C. Garcia and published by ArmourSoft.  Anyone else remember them?

 I knew I hadn’t thrown them out and set out for a  further search.  I came across them in the bottom of a box of other bits.   Originally published in 1993 Bob brought then in about 1998 from the US. They came with both a 51/4 inch and 31/2 inch discs!! Cutting edge at the time.

The box also contained all the counters to enable you to play all the scenarios built into the programme., The Book of Ships Ship Data 1890-1945 which has ship data for ships from different nations Great Britain, Germany, US, Japan, Italy, France, Russia/USSR, Spain, Greece, Norway, Turkey, Chile, Denmark, Sweden, Brazil, The Netherlands, Austro-Hungary and Argentina.  It also has Generic Freigther and Tanker Entries as well as some Aircraft Data.


For the time and even now it is truly staggering the amount of information the book contains.  Add to this remaindered copies of Jane's Fighting Ships of WW1 and WW2 and Jane's Fighting Aircraft of WW1 and WW2 you can create your own scenarios and add any additional ships and planes.

I recall we played both WW1 and WW2 games.  The rules allowed aircraft to take off and lad on carriers, land based bombers, torpedoes, subs and Combat Air patrols over your fleet.

Having found everything and having an old Windows XP with a floppy drive we decided to give them a go.  

Their are six scenarios built in - Santiago 1898; Tsushima 1905; Jutland 1916; Denmark Straits 1941; Coral Sea 1942 and Komandorski Islands 1943.  You can also create and save your own scenarios. The system can take into account most of the usual factors affecting naval combat such as smoke, ‘relative’ angles, salvo chasing and the like. The turn sequence follows an intuitive order of movement, air ops, gunnery, torpedoes and end-of-turn status. Scales are completely adjustable making the game easy to use for any sized ships, table or floor space 

The problem with many computer rules at the time was that you had either to come round and look over the shoulder of the person inputting the data or get told what the results were which was a bit of a bore.  Using another monitor or TV meant CRT units and a lot of muscle to move them about.  Fortunately the advent of light weight flat screen meant I was able to set it up so Bob could see what was happening and be more involved.

Basically, we loaded the Jutland Scenario which has all the Battleships and Battle Cruisers  used by both sides (not Cruisers and destroyers) rather than create our own scenario for this test.  We then set out about 15 ships a side and just choose them from the list of ships. The machine was so old I couldn't  work out how to do screen shots at the time so here are some pictures of what Bob could see on the monitor.

 This 'game' was more about seeing if the rules still worked and we were happy with them, rather than a 'wargame' in itself. Still there was some competitive firing with the German BC Derfflinger and my own HMS Valiant coming in for some serious concerted fire from numerous ships. The computer keeps a track of the ship that you have fired at and after a couple of shots once you select your ship it puts the target at the top of the opposing ships so that you don't have to scroll through a long list.

Just for the fun of it - well it wasn't much fun for me - we tried out the torpedo rules. The Heliogoland launched torpedoes at the poor old Valiant causing her magazine to explode.

Their are Optional Morale rules which we also tried and they seemed to work, the Derfflinger was forced to withdraw with 56% damage which seemed fair enough.

The rules worked and it was enjoyable enough and fast moving to make us think we should try out our US and Japanese Carrier fleets again.  

One problem was trying to print out the ships data. This programme was set for using the old LTP ports.  So without buying an old serial/parallel printer I was stuck.  I have used screen prints by loading the game using DosBox (a free programme you can load which enables you to run old Dos based software).  This works really well, dare I say better than the old XP machine and looks better on the second monitor/TV.   So I am going back in time to 1998!! and we are going to try WW2 Carrier Actions. 

I still have Follow The Eagle and the Universal Skirmisher  old 1990s DOS based computer rules and both appear to work using DosBox.

Unfortunately, the ShipBase III rules are no longer available but a 'beta version' of Shipbase 4 is available to download for free at HTTP:// This has 2 built in scenarios Lissa 1866 and Yalu 1894.  The Yalua scenario seems to work okay, but the guns on the Austro-Hungarian fleet don't seem to register any hit damage.  You can still create your own ships and scenarios. There is also ship data for a number of other nations already built in.  The ramming element of the rules also worked.   There are no instructions with these rules but they are pretty intuitive.  

There are also other interesting 'naval bits and pieces' for free.  You can also download a WW2 land based game 'TankBase' which follows a similar style at HTTP://  the only Scenario that is loaded is for Histricon 1994!  It has infantry, Tanks, anti tank weapons, infantry and vehicles. If you play around with the loaded game you can sort of work out how things work.  I am not a fan of land based WW2 as it always strikes me as too complicated, but this seems to have some attractions.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Sarissa 28mm Wild West/ACW train

I am not keen on doing work in progress pictures, but just had to share what I think is a very nice 28mm ACW/Wild West Train, coach and track.

The models are made by Sarissa Precision Ltd and are laser cut MDF.  The Train and Tender costs £17.50 as does the Coach.  

The Train takes a little building, but if you go slowly and 'dry build' bits first it works out.  The instructions aren't always clear.  It didn't tell me about the coupling arrangement and I glued it incorrectly and am having to retrofit.  Once you have got it wrong, it is obvious what you should do! 

You also have bits left over and no clue from the instructions what they are until you build the tender and realise that they are to couple the tender to any carriages etc. 

I am so pleased that I have bought the flat bed car £10 and a pack of straight track - approx 5 feet for £15.  

I haven't finished painting the train and fixing the cab roof in place, as I am torn between different liveries.  Lots of colour, all black or just the cab and roof painted??? and the wheel rims and tracks still need to be finished.  I am also wondering whether to put some lettering on the tender - again I have seen these painted or just left black. 

All the wheels move and are easy to assemble. I decided to spray my train Matt black before I fitted the wheels as I thought it would be awkward to get the paint brush into areas once I constructed the model .  The same with the coach wheels and base.

It fits both the ACW  and Wild West.  So at last I can make use of my Wild West Bad guys! 

The roof of the carriage is design to be left as a loose fit.  It is probably the trickiest bit of the coach as to have to bend the cardboard to fit some lugs, I think maybe I should have scored it as well as trying to bend it, as it could be a better fit.

These pictures give you an idea of scale all the figures are 28mm. The flat bed truck is basically the same build as the coach but with without the carriage. You have lots of MDF left over and it is possible to use it to raise the sides of the flat bed if you fancy it.

Santa may need to bring another train and maybe the caboose £12.50 and maybe  the Old West Cattle Wagon £15 and some more track......soooo much better than socks!!!!!!!!!  

They do a bundle for the train etc., which actually works out as better value than buying each bit separately but I wanted to see what it was like first, mine will be the more expensive route!  

Their is also a nice European Carriage which looks a bit like the US Carriage but is shorter and without the extra roof venting.  I think it could be converted and is cheaper and saves a bit of space.

If you have made any of the laser cut building etc., you can make these. If you haven't it is just a case of going slowly and not using too much glue.  I use white wood glue and apply it with a coffee stirrer.

Saturday 12 November 2016

28mm Poles and Swedes Pike & Shotte Game

A couple of posts ago I sent Alan sketchy details of our next game - publish as 'Preparing for the Next Game'. He commanded a small Polish port which an enemy would attack with a view to destroying the supplies on the dock.
At the port Alan had
3              regiments of infantry
1              unit of Sailors
                Fort with 8 guns but only 4 crews

At the other end of the table were his reserves. Since this is a frontier port there were no Winged Hussars or elite troops. His reserve was
2              units Pancerni
3              Units Light Cavalry (1 brigade)
2              Units Light Cavalry (2nd brigade)
3              regiments of infantry (1 brigade)
4              regiments of infantry (2 brigade)

Attacking the port were my Swedes
2              Units Cavalry (1 brigade)
1              Unit Dragoons
2              regiments of infantry (1 brigade)
2              regiments of infantry (2 brigade)

The Swedes got a free move but did not get the large moves they needed to take advantage of their surprise attack. Deployment was by dice throw.

Within a few moves it was apparent that the battery in the fort was too strong. The first Cavalry regiment was hit by 2 guns, as well as a volley from the Polish infantry on the road, which was enough to break them.

The Yellow brigade of infantry fared no better. The guns on the other side of the fort opened up on the leading regiment, again supported by Polish infantry. The regiment halted, which left it as a target for the guns the next move. Its morale was good enough to keep it there for several moves, every move being hit at close range by 2 guns and the Polish infantry. In the end it broke and the second regiment took its place.
At the far end of the table the 2nd (Red) Brigade stormed the seawall, supported by the Dragoons who dismounted and fired at the Poles. The Polish sailors had only swords and could not stop the Red infantry advancing and climbing over the crates that served as a barricade. But their swords were easily a match for the muskets being used as clubs, and they held. In the second round of melee they drove the Red regiment back.

On the left flank the second regiment of Swedish cavalry charged the Polish infantry and started a melee. Less positive was the fate of the 2nd Yellow infantry regiment. Like their predecessors they were hit by artillery from the fort and stopped, battered but unbroken.
Alan had the opportunity to bring on his reserve, but failed to move his cavalry. The 2nd Infantry Brigade suffered a blunder and all 4 regiments retreated. With the leading cavalry regiments stalled on the road nothing moved.
The Swedish cavalry suffered but broke the Polish regiment. The 2nd Yellow regiment charged and although suffering casualties from the guns and the Polish closing fire they hit the Polish regiment and broke them. Two Polish regiments streaming away.
On the dock the Red regiment had broken but its second regiment closed with the sailors pushing them back. The dragoons were shooting at the last Polish regiment on the dock. But the fort was still a major problem.

Because of the way the 8 guns were positioned there was no safe position for the Swedes. Another round of artillery sent my remaining cavalry of the table. And other guns dominated the dock area.
The fort poured close range fire into the 2nd Yellow infantry regiment, and although it had cleared the path in front it went back.
Alan had finally got his Pancerni to move and they came down the road in column. They were still several moves away but the cavalry and the infantry were coming.
All I had left was the 2nd Red Infantry and the dragoons. When I moved the dragoons to set fire to the stores they came under artillery fire. So I withdrew my last regiment and what was left of the dragoons, just as Alan’s Pancerni were moving steadily up the road.

An enjoyable game. I had beaten 3 regiments of Polish infantry and a Unit of sailors but been unable to destroy the stores on the dock. In retrospect the fort was far too powerful. The 8 guns covered every approach and it was this that destroyed my units and hopes of winning. Next time (and there will be a next time) there will be less guns, perhaps 3 so that there are gaps that can be exploited.

Rules were the standard Pike &Shotte..

I am afraid I took the pictures with Bob's very good camera, rather than my own and didn't do too good a job focusing it.  My apologies for some of the pictures which do not portray a good game as well as they should.