Category Archives: Uncategorized

Doodling with Napoleonic figures

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In a wargaming version of mindless doodling, I recently frittered away an hour or so arranging some of my 28mm Napoleonic figures onto my small wargaming table.

My Napoleonic armies haven’t seen the light of day for a number of years now. So on an impulse, I just decided to set them out for fun in a static set-up.

The figures are arranged to depict a vaguely Peninsular War skirmish. Though I’m not actually sure if all the troops shown here really fought in the Peninsular War – I just pulled out the units that were the easiest to reach in my cupboard!

This is only a fraction of my Napoleonic armies, but you can only fit so many 28mm figures on a 4’x4′ board!

The buildings, by the way are all scratch-built. The trees are cheap Chinese architectural/ model railway decorations. The roads and rivers are by an Australian company called Miniature World Makers. Figures are mainly Front Rank and Perry Miniatures, but with some other makes thrown in.

So, for your enjoyment and edification, may I present the results of my doodling (you can click on each picture to take a closer look).

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Filed under Front Rank, Napoleonics, Uncategorized

Lighting for the wargames table

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Just like a stage production or movie, you need  good lighting too really bring a wargames table to life. Up till now my study’s lighting hasn’t really cut the mustard. But this week I’ve installed a new LED light suspended low from the ceiling, right above the table.

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The stage is set for war! As you can see, good lighting centres your attention on where the action is taking place.  Besides the new overhead lighting, I also still have my existing reading light, which I’ll be able to move around to highlight particular parts of the table.

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Even during daylight hours, the extra lighting helps bring the scene to life.

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From above, you can see how the table is evenly lit, and the colours really come to life.

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By the way, my table is currently set up for samurai warfare. The terrain includes my latest MDF buildings (centre and right above): two 4Ground ‘Jwar Isle’ hovels specially designed for GCT Studio’s Bushido rules – though I don’t play these rules myself.

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One thing to note about these two buildings is that they are slightly over-scale against my other 4Ground and Plastcraft buildings, as the Bushido range is designed to fit with their 32mm figures rather than the 28mm Perry Miniatures figures shown here. But other than the large doors, these houses still work OK.

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A bucolic scene as life goes on under the bright Japanese sun … er … under my new light.

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Filed under 4Ground, Samurai, Uncategorized

WW2 Dutch ‘Black Devils’

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The last of the infantry for my 28mm WW2 Dutch army is a section of ‘Korps Mariniers’, or Marines, known as the ‘Black Devils’. As with the rest of my army, these figures are produced by Dutch company, May ’40 Miniatures.

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Marines were professional soldiers – the only all-professional branch in the Dutch armed forces – and without any doubt the best the Dutch could field. They had a strong tradition that went back to the year 1665, when the Korps Mariniers found its roots.

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Marines wore a distinctive dark blue (blackish) uniform tunic or great coat, rather than the olive-green of the regular army.  They were armed like regular army soldiers, but were much better trained to use them. They were additionally equipped with a so-called ‘storm-dagger’. The basic weapons used in Rotterdam were the Steyr M.95 rifle, the Lewis light machine-gun and the storm-dagger.

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There were about 450 Marines in Rotterdam, the home town of the Korps Mariniers, when the German invasion occurred on 10 May 1940. About half were in basic training, and the others were either staff, operational marines or attending NCO courses.

The Marines successfully defended the bridges across the River Maas for four days, preventing German paratroopers in the city centre from rendezvousing with the other German forces. The Germans ended the stalemate by bombing Rotterdam.

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The story goes that when the surrender was declared and the Dutch soldiers came out of their positions, the German commander was expecting a full battalion of men, but was stunned to see only a few Marines emerge in their dark uniforms. He ordered his men to salute them out of respect for their bravery and determination, and labeled them ‘Black Devils’.

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As always when I try to take photos of blue uniforms, my pictures have turned out much lighter than the actual figures.  The blue tunics and greatcoats are actually quite dark on my models.

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Historical information in this posting came from the War Over Holland website. 

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Filed under May 40, Uncategorized, WW2

Forthcoming new WW2 Dutch releases

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May ’40 Miniatures have released pictures of some of their forthcoming WW2 Dutch models, including two anti-tank guns, an armoured car, and a massive building.

The first model is the Böhler 47mm anti-tank gun (above). Böhler guns would prove effective during the intensive fighting in 1940. The 9th Panzer Division lost about 25 tanks, including Pz.III and Pz.IV medium tanks, due to Dutch anti-tank guns at Rotterdam and Dordrecht. 2

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Next is the Solothurn S18-1000 20mm anti-tank rifle (above). It was a variant of the Solothurn S-18/100, featuring a larger cartridge and higher muzzle velocity for better armour penetration. Its firepower was adequate against light tanks and other soft-skinned vehicles when it was first introduced, but it was insufficient to deal with newer and heavier tanks by 1940.

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In collaboration with Paul Deeming from WOW Buildings comes the National Life Insurance building in Rotterdam.

During the attack on Rotterdam in May 1940 this building was occupied by 40-50 Germans who had become isolated from the rest of the German forces. All Dutch attempts to seize the building failed, but so did all German attempts to resupply or reinforce the occupants.

The model measures 27x17x40 centimetres, not including the chimneys. So, as Trump would say, it’s huge!

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Finally, there is the Landsverk armoured car, which I’ve described more fully in this previous posting. I understand that Mad Bob Miniatures will be moulding the resin parts and doing the initial casting run.

Sources for info in this article: War Over Holland and ASL BattleSchool SitRep.

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Filed under Mad Bob Miniatures, May 40, Uncategorized, WW2

My WW2 Dutch army in 28mm

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“Klaar voor actie!” After a several weeks of painting, my small WW2 Dutch army is finally ready for action!

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These 28mm figures are all produced by Dutch company May ’40 Miniatures, whilst the Carden-Loyd tankette is by Reiver Castings.

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The small force is organised for the Bolt Action wargaming rules, and consists of three infantry sections, and a three-man HQ group. They’re supported by a machine gun and a mortar, and have a medical team with them. There’s also a dinky little Carden-Loyd tankette (click on the picture for a closer look).

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The three infantry sections consist of twelve men each, including an NCO. Each section also includes a two-man Lewis machine gun team. The Dutch introduced the Lewis light machine gun  in 1920, and designated it as the machine gun M.20.

My painting style is quite impressionistic, using lots of dry-brushing and ink washes. Whilst the result won’t win any painting competitions, from the distance they are viewed at on the table the figures look perfectly serviceable.

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My force has one three-man Schwarzlose M.08 machine gun team. The gun is complete with its hose and drain bucket. The Schwarzlose was produced in the Netherlands under licence from Austria. In May 1940 the Schwarzlose machinegun was quite outdated. Still the machine guns proved to be highly reliable and robust, and the number of break-downs was extremely low.

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My infantry are supported by an 81mm mortar. They are quite lucky to have it, as the Dutch army was in fact very poorly equipped with infantry support weapons, including the availability of mortars in front-line units.

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Whilst the medic has a role in the Bolt Action rules, I’m not sure how much use the stretcher-bearer team will be. But they look good – and knowing my generalship skills, will probably be in high demand by my little lead Dutchmen …

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I’ve painted one of the miniatures to represent my late father, who was a medic in the Dutch army in 1940 (read my father’s story here). He joins another family member who has also been memorialised in miniature, my great-great-great-great-grandfather, Pierre van Dooren, trumpeter in Napoleon’s 12th Dragoons (read Pierre’s story here).

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So there we have it, my Dutch army … for now, anyway. There are further plans afoot: I have a section of Marines (the famous ‘Black Devils’) to paint. And I am waiting for the forthcoming models of the Landsverk armoured car and the Bohler antitank gun.

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Filed under May 40, Reiver Castings, Uncategorized, WW2

Work-in-progress on WW2 Dutch

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On the morning of 10 May 1940 the Dutch awoke to the sound of aircraft engines roaring in the sky. Germany’s invasion of the neutral Netherlands had begun. Seventy-seven years later my friend Sander van der Ster, owner of May ’40 Miniatures, was part of a reenactment group commemorating the invasion.

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At the same time, I was busy on the other side of the world painting a batch of Sander’s 28mm WW2 Dutch figures, as shown in this ‘work-in-progress’ picture. The group includes a couple of sections of infantry, a mortar crew, and the gunners for a medium machine gun. There are also a medic and a couple of stretcher bearers.

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Although I’ve been detouring into Japanese samurai terrain, my Dutch project has continued steadily. I’ve been slowly working through the remainder of my figures to join the first dozen I’d already painted.

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In the above picture, the previously completed figures are shown on the left, and some of the current work-in-progress batch on the right. So far I’ve completed their uniforms and flesh, and started blocking in the weapons and equipment.

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Once the rest of the painting is completed, there’ll still be some ink washes to make the details stand out. These examples from my  previous batch show what the finished figures will look like.

So far the only armour is the kooky little Carden-Loyd tankette (made by Reiver Castings). But hopefully soon I’ll be adding a Landsverk armoured car, which is in its final stage of production by May ’40 Miniatures.

Maybe not the most fearsome of Bolt Action armies, but it certainly will be unusual …

 

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Filed under May 40, Reiver Castings, Uncategorized, WW2

Japanese house – a blotz on the landscape?

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I guess I have to finally admit that I’m not really a wargamer, but a terrain enthusiast! The most enjoyment I get out of my hobby isn’t playing wargames, nor painting figures. It is making scenery. Not big messy projects like terrain boards, but small features to decorate the table, especially buildings.  I’m no scratch-builder, either. I prefer taking an existing kit and embellishing it.

And so it is with the project that has been entertaining me for the last few nights – building another model house to add to my burgeoning shogunate Japanese village. This MDF kit is from a British manufacturer I hadn’t tried before – Blotz (as in Buildings, Landscapes and Other ThingZ).

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Making this Japanese house kit felt quite familiar, as it uses many similar concepts to 4Ground’s kits, whose buildings form the major part of my Japanese terrain. For example, the walls from both companies are formed of a frame with inserted panels and separate inner walls.

However, unlike 4Ground, the Blotz kit isn’t pre-coloured, so it requires some painting.  I found this easier to do before breaking the pieces out of their sheets. The only parts that required some care were the interior walls, where you have to paint straight lines between the white and natural wood parts.

A particularly nice feature of this kit is that there is only one place where you can see any of the interlocking joins or tabs that so often mar otherwise attractive MDF models. And even this one visible join is on the inside, and so can’t be easily seen, especially when disguised with a little bit of paint.

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The sliding doors work (though they are a bit tight). I glued some tracing paper onto the back of the frames. This looks really good from the outside, and adequate enough for the few times you’ll ever see the inside of the house.

Another feature that often gives away such kits is the use of teddy-bear fur for thatch. However, I find that if you slosh the finished thatch roof with heavy washes of watered down dark-coloured paints, then dry-brush it with lighter colours such as yellow and white, the fur ends up looking more like thatch … well, at least not so much like it came from a skinned teddy bear!

So there we have it, yet another Japanese house for my samurai games – if I ever get round to actually playing one!

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Filed under Blotz, Samurai, Terrain, Uncategorized