Sunday 25 January 2015

Regia Aeronautica

My Desert Raiders project has finally taken another step forward with the completion of some aircraft from the Règia Aeronautica (The Italian Air Force). I won't be using these as playing pieces but rather as terrain - parked aircraft - for raids by the SAS and LRDG. They have still taken a lot of work to complete but are not as fully detailed on the underside as I would have done had they been mounted on flying bases.

The models don't come with undercarriage but because they represent parked aircraft rather than flying ones I wanted to raise them up just a little bit, so they didn't lay flat on the ground. I toyed with several ideas (each more elaborate than the last) before settling on a simple wooden block consisting of a 1 cm length of wooden chopstick (I knew these would come in handy one day!) glued to the underside of the models. The block isn't really visible when the plane is on the table and the model now looks like it is sitting on its undercarriage rather than slumped on the ground.

The colour scheme is my best approximation of the camouflage they might have had in late 1942 in Africa. To be honest there are so many examples on-line and in books it was hard to pick a definitive pattern for them. I'm not an expert (and I'm sure one will pop out of the woodwork as soon as I post these pictures) but there seems to have been a lot of variation between squadrons so identifying the 'correct' pattern was pretty much impossible. I have used a base colouring of Tan Yellow (Vallejo 912) with a mottled camouflage pattern of German Camo Brown (826) and Luftwaffe Camo Green (823). The 'white' band and tail cross were painted freehand with Ivory (918) as I felt the White was just too bright.

The wing decals are by Trafalgar Models and come from their WWII 1/300 scale transfer range (manufactured by Veni Vidi Vici). Unfortunately half of the decals I bought were transparent so I had to paint fairly precise circles on the wings to match the circular Fasces symbol of the Règia Aeronautica. The ivory background to the transfers looks really good but by god was it hard to get right. You need a very steady hand and good eyesight to pull this off! Having said that I'm really happy with how these have turned out. I found the transfers hard to get off the backing paper but after switching to a warm water soak they went onto the model really well.

As usual I finished these with several coats of GW Purity Seal satin varnish and a final layer of Testors Dullcoat. Now I have a batch of Italian fighters to paint up and I'll have a good number to disperse around my Axis airfield. 

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Six Years and Counting

My Blog posting has been a bit erratic lately, what with the new job cutting into my spare time and ongoing plumbing issues creating merry hell in the house. So its probably not entirely surprising that a couple of weeks ago Big Lee's Miniature Adventures slipped quietly past its sixth anniversary without my even realising it. 

Wow...I would never have guessed back in 2009 that I would still be writing about my hobby in 2015. Admittedly my posting schedule has taken a pounding in recent years and unlike the early days when I would post daily now once or twice a week is about all I can manage. Over the last six years I have written 1453 Posts and as of today the site has garnered 1,659,534 hits (that's a lot of disappointed browsers!). Along the way, and more importantly, I have made countless friends within the wargaming community. Thank you to all the readers of BLMA, your continued support and input keeps me going, even when times have been tough and the gaming muse has been subdued. 

So what next for me and for BLMA. Well the new job is still exhausting me and as lunch breaks are something of a myth where I work my hobby time is still seriously curtailed from this time last year. Things are slowly coming back under control and I am determined to shoe-horn in more gaming and painting time over the coming weeks. I've already started by planning out which shows and conventions I will be attending this year and am looking forward to Cavalier in a few weeks time. Needless to say I'll be posting lots of pictures of every event. One thing I am determined to do is restart my 6mm Desert Raiders project and run a game for Posties Rejects sometime in the summer. I still have a squadrons worth of Italian aircraft half painted on my desk from back in October when I started the new job. So this weekend I will - I WILL - be picking up my brush for the first time in weeks and making a concerted effort to get these finished. Such are the plans of mice, men and overworked wargamers....wish me luck! 

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Feeling... moist

Sorry no wargamey post this week. I haven't had any time to even think about painting or gaming because I have been up to my elbows in water. A few weeks ago I 'fixed' our toilet but in the process I must have damaged some of the pipework, creating a tiny leak. The actual leak was so slight as to be unnoticeable but the cumulative effect over several weeks has resulted in a very damp bathroom and even soggier floorboards. Its taken a lot of cursing, and a lot of patience to track down the point of the actual leak and even more swearing to fix it (I'm not a natural plumber and DIY in general is a mystery to me). So currently my bathroom looks like a war-zone, with the flooring ripped up and woodwork stripped bare ready for repainting. Looks like the only brush I will get near for the next few days will be a 1"!

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Battle of Leignitz Re-fight

On Saturday the Rejects gathered in Posties Shed-o-War to replay the Battle of Leignitz game we fought before Christmas. The first game saw us using the Age of Reason rules, which we pretty much universally decided we didn't like. The game was hard work and we felt the rules were clumsy and far too complicated for a fun game. Then Richard suggested that Koenig Krieg would have been a better set of rules for this period and thus was born the idea to re-fight the same game - with the same forces and terrain - using these rules. 

As in the previous game the Austrians (commanded by Fran) set up first and the Prussian's (commanded by Ray) were allowed to deploy in response. Our forces were pretty much the same as the last game although there was slightly less artillery this time. The terrain was laid out exactly as before and Fran chose to deploy his forces pretty much in the same positions as before. Ray however deviated from last time, with an audacious plan to concentrate our attack on one section of the Austrian defence while denying them the big cavalry clash that dominated the last game. 

Order of Battle 
As before I have copied the respective army lists rather than typing them out..

The Action
Initial Setup with the Austrians deployed on the right dominating the hill as in the previous game. On their left flank they massed most of their cavalry. On the left of the picture the Prussian's have formed up to concentrate on attacking the hill, with cavalry split between both flanks.

Some Prussian cavalry - Guard Cuirrasiers none the less - were lined up to sweep the right flank of the Austrians and pave the way for a flanking attack on the hill. (sorry for the fuzzy picture!)

On the Prussian right flank my Cavalry, consisting of Dragoons and Cuirassiers were deliberately held back. The idea was that this would delay the Austrians down in long drawn out movement and manoeuvring before being in a position to attack. However our decision to place one Brigade as 'bait' along the table edge proved to be a mistake. I wasn't entirely comfortable with this plan but I deferred to the better judgement of my fellow Prussian players...fool!

Along the rear of the Austrian line can be seen a Cavalry Brigade redeploying quickly to reinforce their right flank taking advantage of the double move rule for units more than 15" from the enemy. This movement proved significant. 

The first Melee of the battle, with Prussian cavalry seeing off Austrian skirmishers in the forest on their flank. 

After a couple of turns of movement I was positioned and 'ready' for the inevitable Austrian attack.

Rays's Prussian Guard Cuirassiers launch their attack on the Austrians...however the enemy have already started to move cavalry from one flank to support the other taking full advantage of the ability to double move if more than 15" from the enemy. This meant they could rapidly redeploy cavalry to the weak spot in their flank. 

Prussian Cuirassiers advance down the flank to swing past the end of the hill and outflank the Austrian Infantry positioned there....but the Austrian players have now shifted a Cavalry Brigade to support the endangered flank. 

The Prussian Left - Advancing Cavalry and Infantry put pressure on the Austrian line

The Prussian Right - Cavalry supported by Horse Artillery

Another view of the Prussian Right - Looking outwards from the lines towards the advancing Austrians

Prussian Infantry advancing towards the Austrian line

A Clash of Cavalry - Austrian cavalry advance within range of my 'bait' Brigade and I decide to charge. The advantage was slightly in the Austrians favour but the dice put the decision firmly out of my hands. Unfortunately we underestimated the Melee rules in this system and as well as loosing the Brigade (it retreated 12" off the table edge) the Austrians only suffered 1 casualty from the engagement....not nearly as much as we expected or would have liked. 

Meanwhile Prussian and Austrian skirmishers battle it out in the woods. Our Jagers were better armed (rifles rather than Muskets) but it took a charge from a formed infantry unit to send the Austrians back. 

Having seen off my 'Bait' Brigade the Austrian cavalry turn to face my remaining cavalry on the Prussian right flank. These troops are better quality and my line is supported by Horse Artillery that pick away at the closest Austrian Brigade for several turns. 

Meanwhile Rays Prussian Infantry have reached the Austrian defencive line. After a couple of turns exchanging gunfire the Infantry move up the hill and engage the Austrians in melee. One lucky shot by Prussian guns takes out an Austrian Heavy gun but otherwise our luck was average at best. 

My Prussian Cuirassiers ready to advance if the need arises.

Prussian Cavalry and Infantry under Ray battles hard to turn the Austrian flank but the tide refuses to turn. With fresh Cavalry and Infantry reserves reinforcing the Austrian flank a breakthrough by the Prussians it is looking increasingly unlikely. 

Austrian Cavalry make a surprising move across the front of my waiting units, tempting me to charge them in the flank....which I duly obliged.

Having sent the Austrian Cavalry packing I followed through into a second unit, this time with less success. My Cavalry retreated but were far from badly damaged and should be back into action in a few turns...if we last that long.

Looking down the table from the Prussian right flank. Our flanks are still strong but the infantry attack on the Austrians positions has stalled and we are fast coming up on an Army morale check having lost two Brigades with another at half strength. 

...and we fail the Morale check so its game over. Frederick the Great (aka Ray) throws in the towel and pulls back his army before casualties mount to dangerous levels. 

Bugger, we lost. What more is there to say, we thought we had a wining strategy but ultimately we took too many casualties to continue to fight. Three things went wrong for the Prussian's that contributed to our defeat. Firstly we deployed one Brigade of Cavalry on the table edge and failed to appreciate the implications of loosing them so early in the game. Secondly our slow advance meant that most of the Austrian Cavalry was outside 15" and could double move, giving them the chance to redeploy quickly across their rear and bolster the flank we were attacking. Thirdly our commander-in-chief was drugged up to the eyeballs with Tramadol... So basically its all his fault!

We all enjoyed playing this set of rules and I think we all agreed that they made for a much more enjoyable playing experience and a much more 'realistic' recreation of warfare in this period. All in all a very good game.