Saturday, 31 August 2013

Tackling a Plastic Mountain (Carefully)....Part 3

I have just some time sorting the green half of the plastic figure mountain into some kind of order - and then decided to have an accurate headcount. The end result is even better than I had hoped for and I have found a use for the Rambo-esque machine gunner as well!

I know this is the third time I have used this picture but it will help understand what I am on about!

The numbers I have counted for the figures above (reading left to right) are as follows:
  • Standing firing (top left) - 130 figures
  • Officer waving (top right) - 53 figures
  • Grenade thrower (bottom left) - 52 figures
  • Rifleman running (bottom centre) - 54 figures
  • SMG man - (bottom right) - 123 figures
The M16 has been lumped in with the other figure similarly equipped and I am still trying to see what I can chop him up into!

The remaining figure types. The two chaps on the top row row - left and centre - contribute 111 figures to the collection.

The numbers for the figures depicted above are as follows:
  • NCO pointing (the Airfix paratrooper on the top row row, right) - 105 figures
  • Bazooka firer - 61 figures
  • Machine gunner - 127 figures.
The total headcount for the 16 packets of 50 figures is 817 with an extra 3 figures that were broken in some way. Not bad at all for £4!

The machine gunner is actually more useful than I first thought because  with the addition of a fuel tank on his back he can be made into a flame-thrower and if you carefully carve away the gun and ammo belt and replace it with a shell shaped piece of wood or plastic he can also be turned into a gunner.

The only issue I am having at present is on how I should be basing these. I am thinking about using circular bases around 3cm across but may well end up with squares instead.

The Skirmish Plastic Soldier Show at Sidcup - see Skirmish 2013 for details - is on the 22nd of September and is now certainly on my to do list for this particular project!

Friday, 30 August 2013

Tackling a Plastic Mountain (Carefully)....Part 2

I have previously mentioned that due to work my evenings during the week are rather limited in respect of any gaming related activities I can undertake. Anything too complex or demanding is now left to the weekend  for the most part. Last night however, I managed to sort the tan half of the 800 plastic infantry I have into poses in order to give me an idea of what I had that would be readily usable for my planned 1935 to 1945 set up. The results were far better than I could have hoped for!

Six of the ten poses that make up the set

Of the figures in the picture above the tan collection has given me the following numbers figures in each pose:

  • Standing firing a rifle - 60 (top left)
  • Standing with a pistol and an M16 - 30 (top centre)
  • Officer waving with binoculars - 30 (top right)
  • Grenade thrower - 30 (bottom left)
  • Running with rifle - 30 (bottom centre)
  • Advancing with SMG - 60 (bottom right)
Of the four poses not shown I have 30 kneeling bazooka men, 60 Rambo-style machine gunners, 50 NCOs with a Sten (the Airfix paratrooper figure) and another figure similar to the 'pistol and M16 ' type above. The numbers quoted are give or take the odd figure either way.

Taking all of this into consideration it means that the proportion of immediately usable figures is pretty high - only the M16 figures and possibly the NCO and machine gunners being surplus or conversion material.

Assuming the green set pans out in a similar fashion the number of readily usable figures for the set up I am planning is pretty impressive and fortunately contains sufficient rifles to make setting up three armies for the period perfectly viable. I am still considering the machine gunner - he looks suitably dramatic and is very heroically posed but I really want to use deployed HMGs. The Skirmish Plastic Soldier show at Sidcup Grammer School is looming in the next couple of weeks so I will have a good rummage there and see what I can find that may be useful.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Tackling a Plastic Mountain (Carefully)

I have managed to sort the figures into a green and a tan pile - and that is about as far as I have got! the next step will be to see how may of each pose I have and how I can then think about organising the forces. An email from Bob Cordery mentioned the possibility of painting the figures as the US Aggressor formations which seemed like a good idea from a generic 'wargame type wargame' perspective but I have plans for something rather different.

If I ignored such details as the cut of the uniform and the style of helmets and personal equipment and merely painted the uniforms in the appropriate colour (and thereby rendering myself liable to being burnt at the stake as a heretic) I could in fact field forces for the three main 20th century army types - khaki green, brown and grey. That certainly ticks a number of boxes in terms of usability and also means that I could extend the same idea to vehicles. All I would do for example, would be to paint a tank as a tank of the appropriate army. There is a precedent for this as Hollywood did this all the time - the previously mentioned M48 (actually an M47) doubling up as a King Tiger in the Battle of the Bulge being a good example.

As far as the painting technique to be used is concerned I will be looking at simple and effective. An overall uniform colour with flesh, equipment and the headgear detailed and then washed or 'dipped'

This is still very much on the early planning stages and is very much an infantry only affair. Once I have a clearer idea of how much I have in each of the various poses I can make my plans with a little more details.

I am, for the record, hugely excited by this....;-)

Monday, 26 August 2013

Plastic Army Men or the Garden Revisited

A small selection of the figures from the set (and this is a picture from Google images) - in addition there is a kneeling bazooka firer, a 'Rambo-esque' machine gunner and an NCO armed with a Sten - a copy of the Airfix 54mm WW2 paratrooper

Originally I was not going to write this post until after a couple of conditions had been met. The conditions (actually only one I can think of) were that the figures for this latest piece of insanity should be painted. However, as the idea that has resulted from this has really got my creative juices flowing I thought that perhaps getting this out in the open would be a good thing.

During our visit to Basildon yesterday SWMBO and I happened to swing past Wilkinsons - the general store. I always make a point of checking out the 'toy section' in this particular store simply because you never know what might turn up that could be useful. As an aside I also make sure that whenever we visit Pound Shops or similar I also have a good look around for the same reason.

Whilst on this search I happened to find something that is certainly of profound value to me and, I suspect, many other gamers predisposed to battles involving larger scale figures.

Meanwhile, back in the early 1970's....

In the early days of the Airfix 1/32nd plastic figures a very good gaming friend and i used to fight battles using these figures in the garden. We also used to be able to buy individual figures as the toy shop we used  routinely opened boxes to sell the figures as needed. I had a Russian army and my friend had the jackbooted Germans. We excavated real trenches and used the overgrown lawn for jungle actions (very useful on the Eastern front....). The figures initially were unpainted but we did slap some paint on some of the for the later battles. We actually used Charles Grant's Battle for the rules but with the ranges and move distances doubled. The games were enormous fun  but we never got around to taking it indoors.

....and then back to the future....

Wilkinson's are selling bags of 50 'Army Men' scaled at around 42 to 45 mm tall and cast in typical tan and green plastic (I should mention that the plastic is hard - not the usual soft polythene) for 25p. That means for £1 you can get 200 figures. That's right - 200 FIGURES!!!!

OK, Foundry they ain't but for that money and quantity I am really not bothered! The figures can best be described as generic 20th century types but significantly there are two bolt action rifle figures and a 'normal' smg type. They are also harder than the usual plastic used and, at the size mentioned, can readily make use of the 42mm range of equipment available from Irregular Miniatures.

What are the implications of this then? Well for one thing, the prospect of some generic 20th century armies looms large - especially of an 'imagi-nation' variety. My immediate thought was for those two old adversaries - Fezia and Rusland. Suddenly the Middle East project has taken on a whole new shape - rather the Caucasus end has.

Vehicles to go with these figures could be a challenge simply due to the scale. Irregular have a small number available but being in metal would work out rather expensive when needed in quantity. My feeling would be use something akin to the concept of the cartoon warship - vehicles with a modest table footprint but with an exaggerated vertical profile. Generic vehicles would be the order of the day - I am thinking of what I call the Hollywood effect - you know the sort of thing, M48s disguised as Panzers - so I am expecting that some carefully modified and painted 'toys' might be the answer or even some basic scratch builds.

As far as rules are concerned I am spoiled for choice and at this stage am not really them much in the way of serious thought - the only thing that should be taken as read is that hexes will feature in one shape or form.

For the record, I went back to the ship and purchased another 12 packets and so now have a plastic mountain of some 800 figures requiring attention. For £4 that must rate as one of the bargains of the century!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Strategy of the Indirect Approach

Mercifully we were spared much of the damage from the surface water flood in Rayleigh - in fact it was only the garage floor that got wet. At one point there was an inch or so but that has now gone and indeed, aside from the roads being covered in mud and debris, all looks normal. There were no boot sales to speak of today but SWMBO and I ventured out to Basildon for a couple of hours for some odds and ends.

I was delighted to pick up the two volumes from the Works you see above in hardback for £4.50 each for reasons that may seem a little obscure - even by my standards. The 18th century is an era that I have often flirted with over the years but have never progressed to preparing armies for. This is not likely to change in the short term either but my knowledge of the period has always been rather European or American facing. I have read about Clive's wars in India  but the biggest gap in my 18th century military overview was in what Russia was up to. More specifically what Russia was up to in respect of the Ottoman Empire.

The Russians and the Turks have fought each other numerous times since the 16th century and so there is a rich seam to mine for ideas for conflicts - both imaginary and historical - at just about any point in 300 odd years. Seeing this from the Russian perspective from these two door stopping volumes (and not forgetting that the Northern War and also the Seven Years War will feature) will help me to frame my thought processes around gaming something of the wars these two old enemies routinely fought.

And before anybody asks....yes, I do have a plan....;-)

Saturday, 24 August 2013

To Boldly Go....

The first issue at a discounted price of £1.99 with the normal price being £5.99

Today has been unbelievably wet! the rain has been non-stop and monsoon-like and I doubt very much if any of our usual boot sales will be open tomorrow and fields being underwater is a distinct possibility! In fact, we now have a couple of inches of water in our garage, the fire brigade have been called and the front drive resembles a fast-flowing stream. Our next door neighbours front garden is slightly lower than ours so the water from our drive has been cascading down on to their front garden. There is much footage on Facebook of the roads around where we live being under gallons of the stuff - even of some intrepid souls in canoes!

Despite the rain, SWMBO and I needed to get in the weekly shopping this morning so a quick trip to the supermarket was called for. Whilst queuing up to pay for the shopping I noticed the rather impressive looking model featured above and promptly purchased it!

I am a Star Trek fan of long standing and about ten years ago had a large collection of the Micro machines models (now owned by the club) which saw much action on the final frontier. We used a Star Trek specific variant of Full Thrust by Ground Zero Games and had a lot of fun doing so.

The Enterprise D out of the packaging

The Enterprise D first appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the model is really nice. The finish is outstanding in terms of detail and measures a whopping 5 1/2" long with the saucer section being some 4" across. The exciting thing about this model for me is that it is actually rather more in scale with some of the Micro machines models - although this new range will have the same problem - the models are scaled to fit the packaging. I have no intention of collecting the entire series but may well dip into a couple of selected models along the way. Perhaps a trio of Klingon cruisers, Enterprise and Reliant from The Wrath of Khan and possibly a Bird of Prey may feature at some point.

The great thing about acquiring some of these models is that I would not need to spend any time painting them - which means the games can take place rather more quickly.

Am I talking myself into another project - or am I revisiting an old one?

"Make it so..."

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

A Wargaming Hiatus

At least that is what it is beginning to feel like! My new job is very intensive - it is effectively a target driven sales role after all - and takes a lot of time. I am usually not home until around 7:30 in the evening and so by the time the evening meal has been consumed and some family interaction has taken place I am too tired to tackle anything gaming related in a meaningful way. My painting has suffered due to the recent hot weather (I note from various blogs and comments from my local gaming circle that I am not alone in this!) and I have struggled to get anything else done in its place. On the plus side though I have been making use of my train journey for writing and catching up on my reading so at least something is keeping what passes for my grey matter ticking over.

The one thing it has given though, is time to think. Despite my blog being peppered with 'much to ponder here methinks' over the years it is rare for me to do so in any kind of a structured way. I tend to think on the knee jerk basis around whatever project I am currently involved with and how that particular effort can best fit in the overall scheme of things. In other words in the short term and on a reactive basis. The result is usually a project list - or more accurately, a wish list as in time  I usually end up wishing I had completed some of the contents!

Left alone for too long my thoughts around our hobby tend to move into the 'what-exactly-do-I-want-from-my-hobby-and-how-do-I-achieve-it?' territory which is never an easy time for me. It is never an easy time for me simply because this is when some of my more outlandish ideas start teasing me and invariably start to consume resources at an alarming rate. I continue to remind myself that I have a list of things to do but is this enough? Are these projects going to satisfy the overall craving I have for something deeper and meaningful? What is the something that is deeper and meaningful? Am I just chasing shadows in the pursuit of some kind of wargames El Dorado?

Whatever 'it' is is something that will not readily go away, at least not until I have acknowledged 'it' in some way and I shall continue to wrestle with my wargaming conscience until that particular demon has been faced down.

Whatever that particular demon is of course!

Friday, 16 August 2013

200,000 Page Views and Counting....

I must confess to being slightly embarrassed by this. I have just passed the 200,000 page views marks since July 2009 when A Wargaming Odyssey first hit the internet. I say embarrassed because since starting work my posts have been both brief and infrequent. I have lurched over the line almost by default rather than by virtue of any stunning writing.

For all that I am, as ever, hugely grateful and appreciative of all those that take the time to pop by and read my various misadventures - your continued support and comments have certainly been an enormous help to me in many ways.

I would like to leave you with one thought though; a thought that first appeared way back in 1974 and has only just appeared to me courtesy of the Aegean articles that Bob Cordery very kindly sent me. Ron Miles was the author of this article in Wargamer's Newsletter and he observed the following:

"I am a confirmed modernist in spite of the virtual impossibility of representing even a World War II brigade action because movement and range scales are too formidable. But first-class wargames based on smaller organisations are possible, fought to rules that need be no more complicated than those of the Ancient period. After all, in trying to legislate for every conceivable action and situation modernists are only following the general trend which has been forced on rule writers, and Convention organisers, because the "barrack-room lawyers" twist rules to suit their own case. I would urge wargamers to get back to simple standards of scale, movement, time and basics, backed by common sense and the willingness to see the other fellows point of view. Arguments should be settled  by an umpire, decided by the throw of a dice or better still, by amicable negotiation."

It certainly made me think.

Here is to the next 200,000 - with many thanks.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Blue of the Aegean and the White of the Paper....

It has been a rather special day. To begin with, it was A level results day and my daughter Holly weighed in with three A grades and a B! To say that both SWMBO and I (and not to mention Holly) are chuffed is perhaps something of an understatement....

The results were of course printed on white paper, hence the reference in the title.

Secondly, a large white envelope arrived this morning, courtesy of Bob Cordery of Wargaming Miscellany  fame. Contained therein were copies of a number of articles concerning gaming a WW2 Aegean campaign - some written by Ron Miles from the old Wargamer's Newsletter and some by Richard Marsh that appeared in Wargames Illustrated. These are really inspiring and contain maps - both strategic and tactical, suggested campaign sized forces (including both the naval and aerial forces available) and even some examples of strategic game turns. This goldmine of material came to light when Bob decided to tidy and reorganise his 'den' and I must confess to chuckling to myself as I know only too well what forgotten treasures can be unearthed when 'tidying up.'

That is the Blue of the Aegean taken care of....

My grateful thanks to Bob for sending this to me - it will come in extremely useful I can tell you - and also to my brilliant daughter for making both SWMBO and I a pair of very proud parents!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Imagine my delight when....

I arrived home from a particularly arduous day yesterday evening to be greeted by an enormous jiffy bag fresh from the Emerald Isle. That well known and celebrated bob vivant, wit and raconteur - Conrad Kinch of Joy and Forgetfulness fame - had very kindly sent me his entire collection of Command and Colours Napoleonic Blocks. These blocks form the units used and are already labelled thereby saving me an awful lot of time. Included in the set are the basic British, French and Portuguese units as well as those from the Spanish and Russian expansions. Conrad uses the simple system of replacing the block units with 20mm figures and many of the actions he has fought using this method feature  on his blog and are well worth reading - as well as being very impressive looking!

Aside from the work of assimilating these blocks into my existing collection I will now need to focus on my side of this transaction - involving as it does much rummaging at car boot sales - the results of which should make for a very interesting set up when ready. I am quite sure that all will be revealed in due course but you will have to follow Conrad and his blog for details.

A very special and grateful thanks then to CK then for agreeing to this transaction - all I need to do now is to  think about how best to use the reinforcements!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Wine Dark Aegean Sea....

The Dodecanese Islands - despite the name there in fact more than 12 of them!

It is no secret that I am very fond of the Eastern Mediterranean as a holiday destination. Aside from three visits to Turkey I have also visited a number of Greek Islands  and have no doubt that I shall do so again.  I have often pondered over the possibility of the wargaming uses of the islands as they have been fought over many time during the centuries. My recent reading of Churchill's Folly - Leros and the Aegean by Anthony Rogers (ISBN 0 304 36655 2) has been very inspiring for a number of different reasons and so I have once again been giving some thought as to how some games could be organised set in the area.

The plan for the Allied invasion of the Dodecanese Islands following the Italian surrender was simple and, to quote Churchill himself, "This is a time to play high. Improvise and dare." It was under resourced and hastily improvised as Allied attention was focused towards Italy. The Allies had to make do with what was available for the most part although special forces in the shape of the SBS and the LRDG were involved as well as regulars. The Germans reacted swiftly whilst the allies were bickering about priorities and achieved a major coup in occupying Rhodes - the largest island in the chain. Once this was achieved the Allies were pretty much always on the back foot and the Germans were able to secure local air superiority which went some way to negating Allied naval superiority.

The Germans threw in paratroopers, fortress troops and elements of the famous Brandenburg division as well as fighters (mainly Bf 109 Gs) Stukas, Ju 88s and He 111s - as well as glider bomb carrying Do 217s. The Allies responded with a smattering of South African Spitfires, Beaufighters, Hudsons, Wellingtons, B25s and the occasional sweep from P38s.

Alistair Maclean used the campaign as the backdrop for his novel 'The Guns of Navarone'  and observes that the importance of Turkish political opinion in the area could not be underestimated and so the Germans were relatively lavish in the resources they used to secure the island chain.

This would not be a campaign of sweeping armoured thrusts with divisions of tanks and all the strategic considerations of the war in Europe - this was a war of infantry and small ships and so would be ideal to recreate on the tabletop.

Of course Turkey was neutral during the war but the tantalising possibility of using the Allies aided by Italians fighting Germans aided by Turks would make for an interesting match up - especially as in 1943 the Germans were actively courting the Turks and were supplying them with FW190 fighters and Panzer 3 tanks. Technically the islands of the Dodecanese were under Italian control as a result of the war against Turkey in 1912 so assuming that Turkey throws in its lot with Germany following the Italian capitulation you have a rather interesting situation. The Allies would have to assign more resources to the area on the back of this new threat and so the potential, the famous 'what if?' so beloved in wargaming circles, for some fascinating actions is huge.

Much to ponder here methinks....;-)

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Trucks for the Chaco

Very useful and very generic looking - the Zvezda 15mm ZIS-5 truck

At long last I took delivery of the six 15mm plastic Russian trucks produced by Zvezda from my old friend Chris Hardman. These are suitably generic 1930's for use in many differing guises but my plan is to assemble and paint them as per the box - namely as Russian trucks. Initially these will be used with the Chaco collection but I am thinking that they will also serve in the Middle Eastern project when I get around to it.

Many thanks to Chris for these - they are next on the paint tray after the WW1 ships have been painted.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Calamity at Kalamitos, The Aegean 1943....Game Number 41

The German response to both the Italian surrender and the British attempts to capture the islands of the Dodecanese was rapid, ruthlessly executed and in overwhelming strength. It was by no means a pushover though and this action is typical of many of the small and vicious rearguard actions undertaken by the Allies in the face of German aggression.

The small island of Kalamitos was assaulted from both the air and the sea by German Fallschirmjager and elements of the Brandenburg Division respectively and after some heavy fighting are poised to break through to the sole remaining harbour, thereby denying the British their only escape route. The Royal Navy has been tasked with evacuating the British troops from the harbour in question but are running behind schedule due to constant Luftwaffe air attacks. The evacuation has been planned but the British will need to delay the German advance long enough to get the troops away and to enable the rearguard to fall back with them.

The Germans are pushing hard across the rugged terrain of the island and the leading elements of the invasion force are in sight of the small village of Rayleios, astride the main road into the small harbour of Canveya. The village controls the road into the harbour and also on to a small beach on the other side. If the Germans could capture the village they could then envelope the harbour from two sides. The British were well aware of this threat and so a small force of defenders has been hastily scrapped together and tasked with delaying the Germans. The force consists of a  battalion sized battle-group organised as follows:


1 x Commander (2)
1 x company from 2nd Battalion The North Kent Rifles (4)
1 x company made up of RAF ground staff, assorted gunners, remnants of some SBS raiding forces and some Greek resistance fighters (4)
2 x Machine Guns (2 x 2)
1 x Mortar (2)


1 x Commander (2)
2 x Fallschirmjager companies (2 x 4)
2 x Brandenburg companies (2 x 4)
1 x Machine Guns (1 x 2)
1 x Mortar (1 x 2)

To fight this action I am using Bob Cordery's Modern Frontier Rules derived from the set originally drafted by Joseph Morschauser. The only changes I have made is to use unit strength points based on the convention used in Memoir 44 - namely 4 points for infantry, 3 for cavalry (not applicable here) and 2 for artillery or support weapons. Also, the loser of a combat has the option of losing a strength point or falling back. The other change was that any roll of a 6 in combat by either side resulted in the automatic loss of a strength point - with the loser then having to either fall back or lose another strength point. As usual, exhaustion levels were in use with the British having 6 whilst the Germans had 11.

Somewhere on the Island of Kalimitos....

The starting positions. The British have opted to deploy their machine guns in the van of their position with half of the infantry split between the church and the small hill in the bottom left of the picture. The other half is waiting in readiness as a reserve to the north of the road. The mortars and the command post are in the top left hand corner. The Germans are deployed with their main strength facing the church and the small hill with a holding force at the top of the picture facing off against the north of the town.

Turn 1 sees the Germans advance, albeit unevenly, whilst the British merely await developments, content to be spectators. However, the infantry by the church move to reinforce the troops deployed in the small wood at the bottom of the picture. The small tiles with card numbers are used to determine who moves and when and have been left to show the starting positions of the units as they move.

Turn 2 and first blood to the British as the northern most machine guns open up on the German infantry advancing against them at the top of the picture. A desperate German attack in the south grinds to a halt against the small wood in the foreground.

Turn 3 and the Germans are repulsed with losses in the north and the south although the British have now lost a machine gun at the top of the picture.

Turn 4 and the German attack begins again aided in the north by the remaining British machine gun redeploying into the town. Scarcely believing their good fortune the Germans immediately occupy the small wood at the top of the picture with their own machine guns whilst the rest of the infantry begin to move up. 

Turn 5. Despite heavy mortar fire the Germans attack the north of the town and successfully drive the British machine gun out. In the south, the German attack against the small wood manages to drive the defenders back up the hill with losses but the attempt to take the town from the south meets strong resistance and casualties are suffered.

Turn 6 and the fight for the village intensifies. The Germans are poised in the north to take the final stronghold to the east of the road whilst in the south the gallant British defenders have inflicted damaging losses against the German flanking attack. Numbers however, are beginning to tell.

Turn 7 and the final phase. the last of the British troops on the hill in the south are destroyed but the British reserve manages to inflict telling casualties on the German assault force. Meanwhile though, the last defenders  of the village to the east of the road are driven out and in order to avoid further bloodshed the British troops lay down their arms.

The British infantry were in effect surrounded on three sides (including the German infantry to the south and out of the picture) and although they could have fought their way out had reached their exhaustion level and so were unable to take any further offensive action.

The final score - it was very close and the Germans paid a heavy price for their 'victory'.

I have to say that the game was a real joy to fight and the use of the card tiles made for some very interesting tactical dilemmas. The small amendments I incorporated seemed to make a big difference and to begin with I thought I had erred too much on the side of caution but the final casualty score felt rather more realistic in game terms. Trying to coordinate an attack was very difficult using the cards (which felt totally correct by the way) and so the German offensive was very stop-start. The British initially were doing very well but once the Germans could get the numbers to count it was only going to be a matter of time. Even so, the Germans paid a heavy price for their victory.

It was also great fun to fight and a fantastic way to end my holiday.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Boot Sale Naval Bonanza!

From the top left we have The Last Gentleman of War by R.K.Lochner, The Wooden World by N.A.M Rodger, Battleship Warspite by V.E. Tarrant, The Line of Battle by Brian Lavery (ed), Sailing Ships of War by Dr. Frank Howard. The Middle row from the left consists of German Warships of World War 2 by J.C. Taylor, In Which They Served by Brian Lavery, Cruisers of World War 2 by M.J. Whitley, Battlecruisers by John Roberts and Sailing Man of War 1650 to 1850 by Peter Goodwin. The bottom row from the left consists of The Metal Fighting Ship in the Royal Navy 1860 to 1970 by E.H.H. Archibald, Battlecruiser H.M.S. Hood 1916 to 1941 by Bruce Taylor, Salvo! Naval Gun Actions by Bernard Edwards, Churchill's Folly by Anthony Rogers and The Handbook of 19th Century Naval Warfare by Spencer Tucker. Not a bad haul for £25!

Well I certainly did not see this one coming and no mistake! SWMBO and I decided to visit the small boot sale a short distance from our house before we went and restocked the food cupboards after our recent holiday. It was only intended to be a flying visit and as the boot sale is quite small anyway we did not think this would be a problem.

We had more or less finished looking around when I came across a chap disposing of a great pile of assorted naval titles at knock down prices and so I waded in. The fruits of this spending frenzy can be seen above and whilst I only intend keeping seven of the fifteen titles acquired I am supremely confident that those I am offloading will more than cover the £25 they cost me!

Also, I managed to make some modest acquisitions towards the project of a fellow gamer - he will know of what I am referring to and an email will follow with fuller details in due course....

I love being enigmatic and mysterious!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Back from the West Country

The business end of the Fairey Fulmar

We have just returned from a week in the wilds of Exmouth in Devon - actually it was Woodbury which is very close to Exmouth but as we have friends that live in Exmouth we always refer to it as such - and although I must be the only person that could head away from a heatwave on holiday we had a super time. It rained every day (and very heavily as well) but always in the early hours of the morning. The rest of the time was cloudy, sunny and breezy but pleasantly warm - ideal for walking around in.

We spent a couple of days on the beach (with the obligatory game of Petanque and a beach barbecue), a day at Paignton Zoo (very good for the furries - so beloved of SMWBO and my daughter, not to mention one half of our friends), an enjoyable mooch around Budleigh Salterton and a boy's day out at the Fleet Air Arm Museum. We also managed to have a stop on the way home at Stonehenge.

An atmospheric and moody shot of one of the most iconic landmarks in the UK

On the holiday reading front I managed to complete James Clavell's Shogun (once again - and you know where this will lead....) and made a rather larger inroad into Chitral Charlie - the biography of Major General Charles Townshend of Kut infamy.

Mention of Budleigh Salterton and of Shogun may seem a little odd but, East Budleigh is of course the birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh, the famous Elizabethan sailor and occasional layer of capes. Shogun features as the hero an Elizabethan sailor - my home address is Sir Walter Raleigh Drive and of course the West Country has a long naval tradition - especially as we had planned to go to Plymouth Hoe to play Petanque - shades of Sir Francis Drake although the version of bowls we would have played would have raised the old Sea Dog's hackles somewhat! Dare I say it, Samurai and the Armada - now there's an idea....;-)

A Supermarine Walrus - the contrast with the rather more famous member of the family could not be greater!

A Grumman Wildcat that turned into a Martlet - this particular version was diverted from an order for 300 for France. It is currently undergoing some changes to the paint scheme as it has had umpteen paint jobs over the years and is being taken back to the bare metal, albeit very carefully!

A Corsair - note 3 of the 6 x 50 calibre guns carried.

It was a great week and many thanks to Janet and Steven for making it so - Plymouth Hoe will certainly feature the next time we are down!