27 October 2013

Scenes from the Cold War - The Supermarket

OK - so I may be wrong, but I think today's update is the first, finished bit of "proper" Cold War scenery or terrain that I have done.  And I'm pretty chuffed with it.

Recently I managed to grab this model quite cheaply:

Obviously I didn't want to use it as a Quickee Supermarket (a little to Simpsons for me) and on Andy's excellent blog Cold War Gamer he had built from scratch (as shown in the link) a fantastic Lidl Supermarket.  He's also a lot more knowledgible about the period than I am - so if Lidl was good enough for Andy - it was good enough for me.  Aldi is the only other German supermarket I'm aware of - and I don't know if their current logo was around in the eighties - another reason to go with Lidl.

I made the kit and then decided to make a base (very unlike me).  The base was made with 2 peices of MDF and I used a couple of different sets of paper products from Small Scale Scenes to do the car park and pavements.

I also finished a peice of my road here to put across the front of the scene.

So onto the photos - first up a pre-war (or exercise) scene:

The photos quite nicely show the trolley rack at the front of the shop.  Sadly the kit came with no trolleys.

Now some shots of a hastily erected Battalion CP - and I imagine it will depart pretty hastily as well...

And now another temporary spot - for a GR.3 Harrier

That's it.  Next up will be some more terrain.

Thanks and have fun


23 October 2013

Kit Review - S-Model's M113A1

A few weeks ago I got my hands on the new S-Models M113A1 box. These were my first S-Models kits and I was keen to see what they were like.

First some general comments. To me the M113 is one of the classic Cold War vehicles. Almost every NATO or Western Army used them in some form or other, and used loads of them. For my planned US force I need at least about 12 of them, and that doesn’t count M-901 ITVs, FIST-Vs or ACAVs. Then there’s my Bundeswehr, Canadians etc etc etc... The list goes on...

I missed out on the whole Airfix M113 thing, they just seemed to disappear – sad, because although they were 1/76, I used to see them for $7 AUD. I still kick myself for not getting some. I’ve always been a fan of the ESCI M113 – which in my mind/eye is pretty close to perfect. But they are getting rarer than Hen’s teeth now as well – or ridiculously expensive. That pretty much leaves Trumpeter in the kit department – which I’d be quite happy with – I just need to pull my finger out and get a couple.

Anyhow – so I very much see the need to cheap, easy build M113s. At MOAB (a wargaming convention/tournament in Sydney) Wartime Miniatures was selling them for $20 a box, which works out to be $10 each for those like me that are hopeless at Maths. A decent price in my book – so I got two boxes (that’s 4 models).

You can find sprue shots elsewhere on the web like here at Henk of Holland

So here’s my thoughts:


• 2 M113’s for $20. Not much more needs to be said than that.

• They stack up very nice size wise to both Esci and Easy Model (see pics below)

• They are a relatively quick build, you don’t have to muck around with individual track links etc. Everything fits spot on.

• It’s a solid M113 – a great little wargaming kit that will not break every time you touch it in a game.

• You can have the commander’s hatch, drivers hatch and rear troop compartment hatch open if you want

• It comes with some PE parts if you are into that sort of thing

• Comes with a decent variety of decals – none of which are that useful for Cold War modellers IMO.


• While the plastic definitely isn’t soft, to me it doesn’t feel as “hard” as most of my other kits.

• The M2HB appears to be too long compared with the other brands. It will be interesting to see how you can fit a commander figure int he hatch, with the massive M2HB.


• The way the sprues are designed kind of annoy me. Where on a ESCI or Revell kit a peice might be held on by 2 connectors to the sprue, on this kit it would be held on by 4. Some of the connections, like on the pintle mount of the M2HB are in very ackward positions to try and clean up, or remove from the sprue. The M2HB firing grips are a separate peice and also very difficult to remove from the sprue without breaking.

• No interior details. Not a particularly bad thing, but if you have the rear troop hatch open, you will need to stuff the opening with troops so you can’t see into the interior.

• The rear ramp and the rear of the vehicle are all one peice. So you can’t build it with the ramp lowered. Not that there is any interior detail so this doesn’t really matter.

• The instructions are a bit hazy at times. The very first step shown will simply not work – but is easily resolved.


So – my final opinion. If you need some basic M113s to fill out the troop carrier slots in your force – these are great. I’ll certainly be getting some more at some point. With some stowage and other bits and bobs, they will fit well into my ESCI/Easy Model mix.

If you want to build this with the rear ramp open, so you can see some interior detail, look to ESCI or Trumpeter instead.

My plan is to do just that – hopefully you be able to see that, and how all my M113s fit together over the next few months.

Here some comparison photos of unfinished (as in not painted) M113A1s:

Top View: from L to R - Easy Model, S-Model, ESCI

Front View: from L to R - as above

Rear View: from L to R - as above

Side View 1: from L to R: S-Model, ESCI

Side View 2: from L to R - Easy Model, ESCI

So you can see how well they go together.



14 October 2013

Book Review: The Black Effect by Harvey Black

Late last week my copy of Harvey Black’s latest Cold War novel “The Black Effect” arrived in the post from Amazon UK. I was of course rather chuffed and keen to get into it, having waited a couple of weeks for the book to arrive.

So what can I say about "The Black Effect". First up – if you’re reading this blog you are probably interested in the Cold War. If you’re interested in the Cold War, you’ll probably enjoy reading decent Cold War fiction. Currently the stocks of good Cold War fiction are running pretty low – with the Cold War being dead and buried for 20+ odd years now. So if all this lines up for you, buy the book. If you haven’t read “The Red Effect” yet, buy that book too!

"The Black Effect" kicks of directly after "The Red Effect" – it is essentially focused on a series of battles between British Army on the Rhine forces versus their Soviet 3rd Shock Army counterparts. Other parts of the battle for West Germany (and Denmark) are covered – either as parts of briefings or in little snippets following minor, minor characters. A sub v sub battle, some American ops and even a little bit of politics are covered, which give the story good background. Key people from Book 1 are followed up, and I was interested to see what happened to them.

Without wanting to give too much away, numerous elements of 1980s conventional warfare are covered and some of my concerns towards the end of the first book and dealt with in detail in the second book, including air and helicopter warfare, NATO artillery and counter-battery, air defence etc. New things like air assaults, contested river crossings and chemical warfare are also covered well. I felt this was all treated in an excellent and extremely realistic fashion – as is everything else in the book.

Mr Black is basically even in his coverage of the British and Soviet forces – and this is enjoyable as well. No one acts particularly stupidly and neither does a series of particularly hard to believe things happen to make one character a real hero – it’s all very “real” and bad things can happen to anyone.

From a wargaming point of view the book is excellent. Interestingly, and again this comes out in the first book, in my mind it shows you can wargame the Cold War in scales larger than 6mm. Many of the actions involve reinforced NATO platoons, fighting as part of a bigger action, but basically on their own as the other units in the action have their own problems to deal with. Mixed Combat Teams, with some infantry, supported by a troop of tanks (or less) with a couple of Milans, a Sustained Fire GPMG, and maybe a couple of mortars, is a force that is very easy to put on a table. Of course you need a fair amount of Soviets – but there are more and more options becoming available in that area.

I think a wargamer will take a lot away from this book – I know I have, and it is affecting what I am planning right now.

I have nothing really negative to say about "The Black Effect" – I guess if I was digging I'd have to say I'd like better maps please... anything else is just being pedantic and not sincere – as I sincerely enjoyed reading it and it gave strength to my Cold War Hot Hot Hot frame of mind.

I do have one question though.  My reading seems to suggest that the Carl Gustav 84mm MAW was a section level weapon in the BAOR in 1984 (the time setting of the book) - but there is no mention of it.  I'm wondering if my understanding is incorrect.
Anyway - bring on “The Blue Effect”.



07 October 2013


Well - that was an interesting week - off in Google deleted me land.

I have no idea why - I'm just very happy to have my blog with all my work for the last 4 years back.

Thanks to those of you who asked after the blog - it was very much appreciated.

Take care and back to normal transmissions shortly