Wednesday 25 February 2015

Cavalier 2015 Photo's

I'm a long way behind my fellow bloggers is posting pictures from this years Cavalier Show in Tonbridge but I have finally found time to review and post them. The show seemed a lot quieter this year and by mid afternoon there seemed to be very few visitors around. Maybe this was because there were some significant missing traders this year but I also heard that there were roadworks through Tunbridge Wells. Whatever the reason there were definitely fewer people at this years show which is a great pity. 

As usual I took a load of pictures and for a change I also played a Participation game (and won!) along with fellow Reject Ray. More on that later but now here are my photo's.

Rejects on Tour! Ray, Richard, Ian and Myself along with possible future reject Richards son

The Traders

The Main hall about mid-day. Not as busy as usual but still a good selection of traders.
Eagle Figures
Tumbling Dice
Caliver Books
Redoubt Enterprises
Harfields Military Figures
...and the Bring and Buy.

The Tables

A new Zombie game due for release later in the year. The miniatures looked good with a nice set of unique character models in both pre and post zombiefication formats!
Peter Pig's Poor Bloody Infantry
PBI complete with bogged down tank.
An intriguing James Bond themed game 'Snowfall" making clever use of magnetic sheeting to hold the figures in position.
A close up of this extra 3D games table!

Crawley Wargames Club's chariot racing game. I played (and won) this game at Salute SELWG and it was good to see it getting another outing. 

Deal Wargames "Mayhem on the Meekong" a 15mm Vietnam game. I saw this at SELWG last year abd it was good to see this again. 
Deal Wargames "Mayhem on the Meekong"
A very Hot LZ
The Society of Ancients
Society of Ancients
Tonbridge Wargames Club - Stalingrad 1942 - CrossFire WWII
SEEMS - Border Reivers 1575
Friday Night Firefight - Stop the Rocket 1945
Its not often you get to see a V2 on the games table!
Gravesend Gamers Guild - an ECW Skirmish game
North London Wargames Group - A Town called Malice 1880
Southend Wargames Club - Cumberland & Tennessee 1864
This game used a pre printed game mat by Cigar Box Mats. 
The printed mat is supplemented by a small amount of terrain and looked very effective. 
Union troops advance
At the end of the day Ray and I took part in a participation game run by Staines Wargames - Outrageous Fortune 1415
Five players take command of a French unit attempting to cross the field of Agincourt and capture British lords for ransom.
The French units jostle for position and fight not for the honour of France but for the highest value prisoners!  A great game, and not least because I won! 
All in all a great day out and a great start the start of my wargaming year. 

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Bringing and Buying at Cavalier

I'm on holiday this week and for nine whole days I can relax a little, catch up on some sleep and spend some much needed quality time with my family. We have lots of plans for trips out as usual, culminating for me with a visit to the Cavalier show in Tunbridge this coming Sunday. Like many others this will be my first show of the year after the long desolate months of winter (the last show I attended was SELWG back in October) and I'm really looking forward to it.

This year I'll be selling some of my 15mm WWII vehicles on the Bring and Buy stall. I've had varied success with B&B's at other shows; sometimes selling everything and other times bringing most of my stuff home with me. Hopefully I'll have better luck this time and to that end I have deliberately kept the prices down to ensure a sale. Here's what I'll have up for grabs:

Panzer IV Platoon - Resin models by Forged in Battle - I'm keeping one for my collection and selling the rest as a platoon of 4 tanks
Panzer V Panther's - Metal & Resin models by Battlefront. I am selling these in sets of three and have kept one for my display cabinet.
A couple of Opel Mautiler Trucks
I'm also selling a trio of Objective Markers including this Destroyed Stug that I 'roughed up'
Selling models can sometimes be a matter of personal finances but this isn't the case with this sale (although the money will be funnelled back into other projects). I simply need to clear some space and have decided that my 15mm stuff has had its day and its time to move on. I've no doubt that at some dim point in the future I'll regret flogging my figures, but right here and right now I'm sure this is the right decision. In fact I sold half of my 15mm WWII collection late last year so selling off what remains isn't that much of a wrench.

I have selected a few special pieces to keep in my display cabinet so its not all going and I have a couple of Panzergrenadier Platoons and a US Armoured Rifle Platoon yet to sell. I'll get rid of these at a later date. 

Wednesday 11 February 2015

1/300th Italian Fighter Aircraft in North Africa

Time for some more Italian targets aircraft for my Desert Raiders project. These are 1/300th models from Heroics and Ros. As with the Bombers I painted up a few weeks ago the primary purpose of these is as objectives for my LRDG and SAS raiders to destroy. As with the larger planes these models do not have undercarriage modelled and as I want these to represent parked aircraft I had to improvise with small wooden blocks underneath. Although you can see these in the following pictures from above (the normal viewpoint of the wargamer) they can't really be seen.

I have painted two types of Italian Fighter planes that saw service in North Africa leading up to the period I am working on (Late 1942). First off are three Breda Ba.65's, an all-metal single-engine, low-wing monoplane used primarily for ground attack roles. These were on old aircraft by 1942 having first seen service during the Spanish Civil War. Most had been destroyed by 1941 but a handful continued in service beyond that date. I decided to have a small group because their ground attack role compliments the Bombers I have already painted. 

The Breda Ba.65's armament was primarily machine guns in the wings with two 12.7 mm (0.50 cal) heavy machine guns and two 7.7 mm (0.303 cal) general purpose machine guns, plus up to 500 kg of bombs in the internal bomb bay and on wing racks.

Next up are three Fiat G50 fighters. First flown in February 1937, the G.50 was Italy’s first single-seat, all-metal monoplane with an enclosed cockpit and retractable Undercarriage to go into production. Like many Italian aircraft of the period they were very manoeuvrable but lacked fire-power (two 12.7 mm (0.50 cal) Breda HMGs). They were far from useless however and in the hands of skilled pilots could be deadly.

Friday 6 February 2015

The Battle of Fort Tinta

On Saturday Posties Rejects gathered in a very cold shed-o-war to fight an Anglo-Zulu War game with our hosts 6mm collection. We would be fighting a what-if scenario based on actual forces and topography from the period. 

The Setup
On 21st January 1879 the advancing British No 4 Column built and garrisoned a stone fort overlooking the crossing known as Tinta's Drift on the White Umfolozi River. From this base of operations the garrison sent out strong patrols. However upon learning of the disaster at Isandlwana the fort was vacated and the column fell back to a fortified camp at Khambula. Our scenario asks what would have happened if the British had instead tried to hold and reinforce the Garrison rather than abandon it?

Order of Battle
Zulus - Approx 15500 Warriors
Head/Loins - C/O Ntshungwayo Kamahole (Dave)
  Commanding five 'regiments' of warriors including one Veteran Unit
Right Horn - 3 i/c Godide Kandlela (John)
  Commanding four 'regiments' with one Veteran Unit
Left Horn - 2 i/c Zibhebhu Kamapitha (Lee)
  Commanding four 'regiments' with two Veteran units

British - 2050 Men and 4 Artillery Pieces
Fort Tinta Garrison - Major England (13th Foot) (Surjit)
  13th Foot - 4 Companies
  1 Gun 11/7 ½ 2nd Section
  1 Rocket Team
  Weatherbys Border Horse - 2 Troops
  Woods Irregulars - 1 Battalion of 5 Companies of Swazis
  Captured Zulu Cattle
Supply Column Reinforcements - Colonel Evelyn Wood (90th Foot) (Mark)
  90th Foot - 8 Companies
  2 Guns 11/7 1st Section
  Frontier Light Horse - 4 Troops
  Uyo's Burgens (Boer Sharpshooters) - 1 Troop
  6 Wagons (2x Rifle Ammo, 2x Artillery/Rocket Ammo, 2x Food and Water)

The Action
The initial setup with Fort Tinta in the centre, overlooking the Drift and surrounded by hills and grassland.
Fort Tinta is little more than a forward base of operations but it commands excellent fields of fire in all directions.
The relief column is already on its way, headed by four companies of British Foot, and more in the rear.
The Zulu commander Ntshungwayo Kamahole gives the order to advance.
Zulu warrior's crest the hills overlooking Fort Tinta and the alarm is raised.
The Zulu left flank (my troops) are still hidden at setup but will soon move forward.
My Zulus hidden behind a hill prepare to advance 
They crest the hill and before them lays the White Umfolozi River and the open grassland running up to Fort Tinta 
Thousands of Zulus surge forward towards the British positions
The defenders open up a witheringly effective fire (Surjit's dice rolling was uncanny)
The Zulus close in on the fort. For the Right Horn and Head of the Zulu army their objective was obvious. For my troops in the Left horn I had to make an early decision on where to attack. Initially I assumed that the British relief column would head straight for the fort and so my plan was to hit them before they could do this. But after just one turn it became obvious that Mark had no intention of relieving the fort as he began to take up defencive positions on the hill (on the left in this picture). 
Another option was to move around the left flank of the relief column and draw some of the British away from the objective of Fort Tinta. But again it soon became clear that Mark had settled in on the hill and wasn't going to attempt to relive the fort at all. By shifting my attack to the right and supporting the main Zulu assault on the fort four companies of British infantry were effectively removed from the game because they would have so far to march just to move within range. 
Zulus, Thousands of them!
One of my Veteran units. These poor fellow found themselves being shot to pieces for the whole game. However while they absorbed fire from the British my other units were able to advance forwards, so they fulfilled a vital role.
Dave's Zulus reach the walls of the fort but falter under withering British volley fire. More Zulu units are moving into position from all sides and the forts defenders are looking dangerously exposed and unsupported. Now where is that blasted relief column?!?
Surjit ponders his fate. With Zulu's converging on three sides Fort Tinta looks increasingly isolated.
My troops open fire on the British providing support to Dave's renewed assault on the defences. Meanwhile British fire from Marks infantry on the hill have reduced my Veterans to one stand. 
The Zulu players Dave and John 
An overview of the whole table. The so called 'relief column' has settled in to watch the massacre of the Forts defenders and the Zulus have closed in around their objective. 
The final assault by the Zulus. Casualties are high but with such overwhelming numbers the result was hardly in doubt. The numbered tags represent casualties from previous rounds of firing and melee.
The British defenders are overwhelmed and begin to fall back. As Zulus pour over the walls of the fort more warriors sweep aside the last of the Swazi troops and begin to converge on the fleeing survivors.
The Left Horn (my troops) now turn to face the British relief column and pause while the rest of the Zulu army sweeps aside the reaming defenders.
With the last British infantry and artillery from the fort destroyed the Zulus line up again and consider their next move.
The grim faced British defenders consider the carnage
The last few British troops from the Garrison are swept away.
Meanwhile the Zulu cattle, stolen by the British earlier in the day, have now been recovered by their handlers.
Dusk is fast approaching (one turn away) and the Zulus decide to wait for darkness before sweeping away the remaining invaders. With their forward base gone the British cannot hold this territory and will be forced to retire. 

At times this felt like a one sided battle, but Zulu casualties were still very high. Tactically the battle was a draw with both sides suffering significant losses, but this was undoubtedly a strategic victory for the Zulu's. With the loss of this forward base at Tinta Drift the British would be forced to withdraw or face assault throughout the dark of night without the benefit of their long range fire-power or prepared defences. There was quite a bit of 'discussion' about the scenario played and the definition of victory (I think the British players were feeling a bit hard done for!) but for me the answer is simple. Historically the Garrison at Tinta Drift withdrew without a battle to safer positions and denied the Zulu's battle. The whole point of this scenario was to ask what would have happened had they stood their ground. The answer appears to be that they would have been forced to withdraw anyway, so their decision to pull back was probably the correct one. 

For me this makes the game we fought even more interesting because the way we approached the scenario was completely contrary to how a field commander would have viewed the situation. In the game the Commander of the relief column (Mark) decided not to even attempt to reinforce the Garrison, and the Fort Commander (Surjit) decided to stand his ground rather than retreat. Both players reacted like wargamers, seeking the best and most interesting game, rather than as military leaders husbanding their forces and avoiding a fight they couldn't possibly win. Of course that doesn't explain the decisions and outcome of the battle at Rourke's Drift, but I guess that's what dice are for...