Friday, 22 February 2013

21st Panzer Division SdKfz 251


This Plastic Soldier Company SdKfz 251 from 104th Infantry Regiment has been given a canvas tilt. The requisite sag in the canvas was made by soaking the paper with paint, then winding copper wire around the body of the halftrack.


The drill bit used to make the holes for the canvas tilt can be seen in the top right of the picture  below. The fearsome-looking pliers are not about to eat the halftrack, they are holding the wire in place!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Monthly Archives: February 2013

Patent Nonsense

So the Evil Empire wants to claim exclusive use of the phrase “Space Marine” do they? I think that it is a splendidly rapacious idea, and in the same vein will claim exclusive use of the words “Not“, “Quite“, “Mechanised” and “Mechanized“.

Gadget Show 022

This is what a proper Space Marine on his personal drop pod looks like

I shall be sending stern letters off to the world’s armies telling them to cease and desist the practice of referring to themselves as  “Mechanised” infantry. To show that I am not completely heartless, the phrase “Armoured Dragoons” has not yet been bagged, so I shall suggest that as a palatable alternative.
Some resistance from authors and bloggers over my claim to “Not” is inevitable, but am prepared to be generous. If you are using “Not” for non-profit then a simple disclaimer sentence at the bottom of the page along these lines will do:

Not” is being used without permission or endorsement of Chris Kemp and no claim or challenge to ownership is intended“.

This set me thinking, so I went carpetbagging for useful phrases preceded by “i-” and have now patented “i-trousers“. Wallace and Grommet should be good for a bob or two!

Vorsprung Durch Plastik

The divisional workshop of 21st Panzer Division put this captured Dodge fuel bowser to immediate use, but threw their hands up in despair when they saw the hotwheels!


A little spanner work saw 4 shiny new tyres from a 1/87 Roco set replacing the, frankly alarming, originals. With a proper set of desert tyres, this will be a welcome addition to 21st Panzer. The divisional quartermaster has painted Balkenkreutze onto the cab doors before the Desert Air Force gets any ideas about claiming it back!


This intriguing photograph looks like a Faun ZR Tank tractor and trailer with three fuel tanks on the trailer (Update: Confirmed as a Hanomag SS-100 by YesthatPhil),  but other than that, I know nothing about it at all.


The  trailer appears to be this one above.  A Sonder Anhänger 116. Any ideas on unit anyone?

15th Panzer Division

Usually, I don’t add national insignia or serials to models, but for the Western Desert campaign I have been doing so as the toys look a bit plain without, and because the numbers of AFVs are so low. Of course, because of the operational scale, platoon markings are a bit superfluous. Happily, 15th Panzer Division only put company numbers on its tanks, so mine are numbered 1-5; a bit of a no-brainer really:


The Divisional HQ is using an SdKfz 251/10 platoon command vehicle, which is standing in as an SdKfz/3 radio vehicle. GeneralMajor Neuman-Silkow is in a car for comfort, but could be in a ’251 or ’250. If he is lucky enough to get a bit of armour later, he will probably pass his car on to someone else!


The Divisional Anti-tank Battalion has a Marder III SdKfz 138 and Recce elements represented by an SdKfz 222, which will doubtless soon be off to another division, or corps recce.


The Divisional Engineer Battalion has teamed up with an ersatz ROCO 1/87  model representing the the Divisional FLAK Kompanie for this shot. It will be back off to grassier climes soon!


8th Panzer Regiment is equipped with Pz III Hs.


115th Infantry Regimental HQ  is followed by the armoured battalion and motorised battalion. They would really like a heavier car than a Kubelwagen to tow that 37mm.


Once painted, these PSC plastic late-war Germans should be a good match for my older Peter Pig Afrika Korps infantry.


The Flames of War resin Opel Blitz 3-tonners look a bit stubby next to the Zvezda models, but they still paint up nicely and have a certain raffish charm.


33rd Artillery Regiment is still borrowing limbers and command cars (a stand-in Kettenrad that is destined eventually for the  Ramke parachute brigade) until it can find an SdKfz 11 and perhaps a Saurer SdKfz 254.

Monthly Archives: January 2013

15th and 21st Panzer Divisions Muster


Now that the Plastic soldier Company additions to the DAK have been assembled, a small parade is in order. Work remains to be done, but the divisions could drive out into the desert tomorrow if required. The look that I went with was of mud, or hastily applied dark desert tan, over the original panzer grey. I was struck by the way that  grey showed through in contemporary photographs on the top edges of vehicles where crew had hung on for support, or scuffed the wearing edges climbing into the vehicle, as seen on these examples above.


The grass bases look incongruous and will need fixing somehow. I will probably just replace them with new and reuse the originals somewhere else. 15th Panzer is on the left, and 21st on the right above.



Seen in with the other armour, particularly the PzII, the 1/87 Roco Pz IV looks overscale, but it will do until a suitable replacement arrives. The panzer grenadiers have not been added yet. It looks as if the Germans have overrun an airfield and captured a Dodge fuel bowser!

Mimi Finds his Trousers – Work in Progress

Suzanne has been wondering how Mimi has been coming on.
Here he is …


… and again after a cursory paint job. I don’t think the whole Legion will parade in buff order for battle, but it was fun doing a couple of stands this way. “Andiamo ragazzi!


I think that in future, a few Peter Pig headswops will be the way forward, now that he has an excellent Fascist Fez head (Range 6 – 94), even down to the jaunty angle of the fez and  a curly fringe sticking out at the front!

Dodge/Chevvy Tanker – sort of


Last week has been spent filing and chopping Phil’s articulated Poundland tanker to make something that looks vaguely like a WWII 3-ton tanker.  It looks a bit like a Chevvy or a Dodge, so the Desert Airforce gets this one. I reckon that there are at least three more tanker bodies to be had out of the two semitrailer mouldings. The weakest part of the toy is the hotwheel, so I may yet add some better wheels if I can find a cost-effective source, or the patience to mould some out of Milliput. For now though, the conversion is passable enough to go onto the table.


The background shows all the Sdkfz 251s needed for DAK. Yes, that’s four! I already have 4 metal models, but they are on grassy bases and the Plastic Soldier Company offerings are too good to resist.

Feast of Epiphany – Yes Those Trucks

tankers 022

The festive season was rounded off in style with a duck dinner. Yes That Phil came round with a very decent bottle of Chateaux Margaux ’86, to show off his Pound Shop treasures, and he had a few spare. As it happened, I had a spare Matador to offer in return, so over Port and cheese, when it became permissible to talk wargaming, we sat and happily pushed the trucks around the tabletop as Phil outlined his 2013 plans for Megablitz Squared. Suzanne wandered off at this point to read her new book about the Dunkirk evacuation – Military Truckfests are not her thing.

treasure fleet

Here is the treasure fleet!

Leyland retriever WIP4
Sporting a new quiff and nose bar, the Leyland Retriever continues to take shape.

Leyland retriever WIP5
Bar a few coats of paint, the  Retriever is just about finished now, Cheers Arthur!

Leyland retriever WIP6
Retrieving an SPA Dovunque 35 (for scale comparison). Yes it is a big truck!

Best Christmas Present Ever!

Every small 50-year old boy awaits Christmas with eagerness. This year was no disappointment. In amongst the parental socks and bottles of port were these Pound Shop trucks:

tankers 014

Ignore the Hurricane in the background and the Japanese in loincloths waiting for their shorts to set. Concentrate instead on the wheelbase of these beauties. I thought that I would have to chop up two Zvezda Matadors to make one of these Leyland Retriever recovery trucks, but the Pound Shop chassies are close enough:

eyland retriever wrecker

Notice the Matador cab glued onto the truck on the far right; it turns out that it is the same width as the original diecast if you are not too fussy (and I’m not!) So here is my work-in-progress (WIP) shot of a  Not Quite Accurate workshop unit for one of my UK  armoured divisions:


From the picture above, it is clear that the Matador cab and body are not an exact match, but that the Milliput roof, a girder and a camouflage net with a thick coat of paint will go a long way to fixing that. The cost of the project was a  total of  20p for the chassis and £2.99 for the body with perhaps 20p for the bits. At first I assumed that the anti-gas plate in front of the windscreen was on the wrong side of my reference picture, but viewing more shots showed that this was not so. I will have to correct that before my final coat of paint.

leyland retriever 1JPG

Camouflage net secured using Evostick and copper wire.

leyland retriever 2

Undercoat on.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Monthly Archives: December 2012

Hubert Pölz’s famous Stuka nose art in StG 2

Today was a big day for 15mm Hubert: He finally got his snake (Shlange) painted onto the side of, what is admitttedly, quite a lumpy Ju 87. He is now ready to wreak all sorts of diecast havoc on the Allies when they turn up. His Dyna-flite Stuka is so solid that if Hubert misjudges the altitude, he just bounces. I don’t think that I will write that into the rules!

Hubert Pölz’s famous Stuka nose art  in StG 2 , Ju 87, Not Quite Mechanised. Copyright Chris Kemp 2012

Manly Men in Desert Shorts – Merry Christmas!

By way of light relief at Christmas, it is time to revisit some of the more exotic troops on the Italian side. I wouldn’t quite call them pantomime troops, but they don’t figure prominently on the re-enactors’ radars, which is usually a good indication of perceived military ‘coolness’ amongst hobbyists.

Mussolini was enthusiastic about troops marching along with their shirts off to an extent that would raise eyebrows in these more politically correct times.  Military fashions change, but in the search for 15mm Blackshirt Legion figures it occurred to me that a heap of Peter Pig ‘Japanese in Loin cloths’ figures that are currently unemployed ought to convert nicely.

Shorts, boots and a floppy fez – how hard can it be? I can hear professional sculptors chuckling already. The Blackshirts didn’t generally fight in buff order, but it should make the figures easy to spot without going down the whole fascist glamour route. From the shape of these smart chaps’ hats it seems obvious that the line legionnaire was just as capable of rogering a perfectly good piece of headgear in the field to annoy his superior officers as any modern squaddie. Is that a younger Mimi from Inspector Montalbano that I see on the left of the photo?

I’m not sure if this is the fez below with a higher crown that created a  pouch hanging down the back of the head when worn. I chose to model these hanging to hide the ‘Jap Hat’ sun flaps, rather than ‘pork pie’ fashion as above. Photos of the little chaps in their shorts and fezzes to follow once I have scraped the Milliput off my eyebrows. Merry Christmas!

Black Legion coastal artillery fez. WW2 North Africa. Chris Kemp's Not Quite Mechanised. copyright

The Battle of Washboard Ridge, an NQM Close Assault Example

14th Infantry Brigade before Tobruck. Chris Kemp's Not Quite Mechanised
Following a question of how big the unit of resolution for a close assault should be, the answer is “usually a battalion”. There are occasions when a regiment, brigade or even division may close assault, but these are rare: Brigadier Horror-Frackley, when asked during staff rides,  how many of his troops he wished to commit to the assault,  would answer
“All of them!”
Fortunately for us, the attack at WASHBOARD RIDGE is being conducted by Brigadier O.H. Tidbury (in command 30 October 1940–27 April 1941), who understands the value of reserves, with:

The Brigadier has ordered his anti tank rifles to be left behind as he is facing a reduced (regular) infantry battalion  (2nd) from 115th Infantry Regiment:
  •  1 Comd  (s1), 3 Rifle (s3), 1 81mm Mortars (s3), 1 MG42 (s3)

The plan is for a silent attack on a frontage of two battalions (all regular). The picture shows ammo markers in three different ways. The Beds and Harts (2BH) nearest the camera have three group markers (one is taken off each move if the battalion fires).  The York and Lancaster Regiment (2YL) have individual ammo markers, and the Black Watch (2BW) in reserve have a single marker with three green pips on it to remove each move that the battalion fires. The marker to the right has a grid with numbers on it to stick pins into if you don’t like heaps of counters on the table.

Brigade attack. Chris Kemp's NQM

A Echelon for a brigade attack in the Western Desert. Chris Kemp's NQM

Move 1
The battalion commander of the grenadiers elects to split his fire onto each of the attacking British battalions; (if a player declared otherwise, I would want to know if the leading companies in defence were cool enough to ignore the enemy bearing down on their position. I would probably allow the supports to concentrate fire but not the lead companies)

115th Infantry Regiment before Tobruck. Chris Kemp's NQM

Because this is a brigade attack, the reserve battalion could lend the supporting fire of its MMG and mortar if it was ordered to. In this case it is not felt necessary, and on the first move, the 2YL wins its firefight, so can close assault in the next move. The Beds and Harts  do not fare as well, so their attack goes to ground and grinds to a halt until reinforcements arrive to unstick them (this does not mean that they cannot continue to shoot in the hope that they will win the firefight in the next move, BUT THEY CANNOT CLOSE ASSAULT WITHOUT BEING REINFORCED).
Brigade attack in the Western Desert. Chris Kemp's NQM

Close Assault in the North, move 2

Close Assault. Achtung Schweinhund!Chris Kemp's NQM
Battalion Attack in front of heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM

2YL win their close assault causing two pips of damage and receiving none. The two forward grenadier companies that received red pins are forced to vacate their position, being replaced by the two forward companies of 2YL.

Battalion Attack breaks into heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM

Note the black heavy die rolled against the Brits to account for the effect of an uncleared minefield in front of the defensive position. In traditional fashion, the heavy die rolled a two!
Firefight in the South, move 2

Battalion Attack goes to ground in front of heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM

2BH initiate another round of fire with the two grenadier companies south of the ridge. This time they win the firefight and are reinforced by a Black Watch  company, so that they can close assault next move.

Battalion Attack regains momentum in front of heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM

Close Assault in the North, move 3
2YL win their close assault causing two more pips of damage and receiving one. The two forward grenadier companies that received red pins are forced to vacate again, being replaced by the two forward companies of 2YL. Note that they can only carry one ammo marker out of the position with them as they each only have one strength point left.

Battalion Attack finally clears heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM

Close Assault  in the South, move 3
2BH win their Close Assault narrowly, causing one pip of damage, and noting with relief that the minefield die was an equally miserable one! (Although it looks as if the black die is matched aganst the die below, it is not. It is acting as one heavy die of fire at contact).
The grenadier company with 3 red pins on it has no fighting strength left. If it gets another hit before it reorganises, it will be destroyed.

Battalion Attack fighting through heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM

At this point, 2nd/115th are forced to take a morale test, which they fail, withdrawing in good order to fight another day.
Brigadier Tidbury is content that the position has been taken. He calls for his ‘A’ echelon to come forward and begins the task of reorganising and digging his brigade in before the inevitable counter attack. He will bring forward his transport with engineering stores, anti-tank guns and more ammunition.
*Volltreffer (direct hit) – Often shouted on ski slopes when a novice skier has wiped out a snowboarder.
**Achtung Schweinhund! Harry Pearson’s eponymous book is highly recommended.

Quick and Dirty Balkenkreuze*

My stock of transfers has diminished over the years, so rather than wait for the post to deliver, I pulled out the paintbrush to slap on some quick and dirty Balkenkreuze. for Luftflotte 2. No-one seems to provide transfers of Hakenkreuze for tailfins any more since it became illegal in France (and Germany) to wander about in brown shirts with silly moustaches and armbands, so they had to be painted on too (the Hakenkreuze, not the silly moustaches).
Balkankreuze1All 3 stages of painting can be seen above. The ‘Ginga Francis’ markings are to remind me what the Ju 88s stand in as in the Imperial Japanese Airforce

Stage 1: After my previous comments about white paint, I used a Pentel Micro Correct to lay the white background down.
Stage 2: A black central cross followed by the black outer border to the white is blocked out, not worrying about how long the arms are.
Stage 3: The ragged ends to the crosses are painted across by a band of background blue or grey. Sometimes I use a craft knife to scrape a straight line to prevent an excess of thick paint at the end of the cross.
The final effect would look good when applied by a steady hand and eye. Sadly, I have neither, but the effect is not too shabby at battle distances.
Luftflotte 2 drones overhead against the background of a stormy sky (if you half close your eyes!)

*Duty spellchecker Ludger Fischer (Thanks Ludger!)

KG26 and LG1 nearly Battle-ready

I had no idea that six coats of Tamiya white paint would be needed for the Mediterrranean theatre recognition bands on my aircraft! I’m sure the Luftwaffe only used one or two! It’s no wonder they lost the air war, they could probably barely stagger into the air under the weight of all that white paint. (Random factoid: This statement was true for the Soviet winter white laquer. It was so awful that pilots hated it and some refused to have it on their ‘planes as it knocked a few knots off their top speed). Notwithstanding, here is the progress to date:

This Dyna-Flites diecast Ju 87 from Stg 1 still needs a spinner and some spats, hence the carefully chosen camera angle. Author’s copyright.

Bar the addition of a serial and a hakenkreuz these Ju 88s from LG 1 are ready for battle. Author’s copyright.

My two He 111s are taking shape from KG 26 . Author’s copyright.