28 April 2016

Deutschland '83 - The Second Attempt...

I'm half asleep right now so if the post makes little sense I apologise up front.

Earlier this year, with much anticipation, I purchased the German DVD TV Series "Deutschland '83" from the UK, only to find once it arrived that I had failed to buy the correct copy and mine was solely in German.  I sent the DVD back and got my money back - but some of the "joy" of the purchasing process had been taken away from me and I didn't immediately re-purchase it.

A few weeks ago I was perusing Amazon UK and stumbled upon it again and added the English subtitiled version to my basket - but still did not buy it.

Then last weekend while looking through a local DVD/Music/everything else related to those things shop, here in Oz - I found the DVD set for the first time - and purchased it immediately.

Monday was a public holiday and we ended up binge watching the whole series (8 episodes) in one hit.

I don't want to spoil it so will only speak in general terms.  The story follows a young East German (Martin), who is currently doing his time as a Border Guard.  Unfortunately for him, he is the right age and has a similar appearance to a West German lieutenant (Moritz) who is about to take up his position as aide-de-camp to a General in the Bundeswehr who has intimate involvement in the upcoming Pershing II deployment to Europe.  Martin's aunt is also fairly senior in East German Foreign Intelligence - and volunteeers his services to her boss.

The East Germans are desperate to get more information on the Pershing II deployment and Martin is recruited - somewhat forcibly - to become Moritz and step into the aide-de-camp role.  Martin/Moritz is the officer on the right in this photo.  He is standing next to the General's leftie/greenie son.

The first episode has the classic scene of the young East German stumbling into a western supermarket for the first time and being completely overwhelmed.

The show runs through a series of events as Martin/Moritz's intial success as a spy forces him to undertake more and more complicated tasks and he gets deeper and deeper intertwined in the whole pot.  This all eventually leads to the Able Archer exercise and what we know nearly happened as a result of that.

I loved this series.  I loved the setting, both in time and location, the detail and the connectedness of the events shown in the series to reality.  The uniforms, kit, vehicles (basically all soft-skins) - all looked pretty much top notch to me.

The 1980's sound track is excellent and the show gives you a bit of a look at West Germany (and east Germany) in the eighties, with great period TV news clips, life on university campuses, the expanding peace movement etc.  This means that much of the show was very believable, but even in the bits that I thought was just a bit too far fetched, I was willing to suspend my disbelief, so much was my buy-in to the series.

Both my wife and son enjoyed the series as well - and they certainly do not suffer from my 1980's Cold War rose coloured glassess syndrome - so are definitely not as biased as I was.  I'm glad of that too - as I thought it might have been a situation of me loving it, while they suffered through it - but it did not turn out that way.

So - I had pretty high expectations for this show.  I've been burnt in the past by expecting a show or a movie to be fantastic and then being disappointed when it turned out to just be good - or even great.  Deutschland '83 did not disappoint and I am very pleased to see it looks like they'll be making Deutschland '86 soonish.

So - if you haven't seen it yet - I'd advise you to go out and get it.   NOW!!!



25 April 2016

RAF Close Air Support - Work-In-Progress Part 1

The long weekend gave me an opportunity to try and start/progress a couple of things I had on the "To do" list for quite a while - namely finish off the building of a Jaguar GR.1 and build a Harrier GR.3 and get both of them ready for painting.

I bought the Jaguar very cheaply a couple of years back and probably built 99% of it a year ago but got distracted by something else (who could believe that!)  Here's its box art:

I beleive it is a reboxing of the original Hasegawa model - but I could be wrong.

This will actually be the 3rd Harrier GR.3 I've built - with the first two shown here and here.  These were done for a specific mission where they were on the ground and able to be targetted.  They were also "older" Airfix kits.  This Harrier would be flying and from the "newer" Airfix kit - here's the box art:

Got to say the Harrier kit was dreamy - so much better than the original - dead sexy.  So here's a quick pic of both the completed kits:

I gave them both a coat of Tamiya light gray surface primer and then a coat of Tamiya Dark Sea Gray:

which looks nice and grey in this photo - but looks a bit "bluey" to me...

Anyway - now trying to decide how to do the load-out of the Harrier (Jaguar is set in this regard) and whether to paint on the green wavey stripes with a brush of the air-brush ) which scares me...

That's it for now - ranty Richard has cooled down...



You may have noticed...

... all my photos have disappearred.  I'm no sleuth but I blame Photobucket (whom I PAY to house my photos) for this.

So... I guess I'll be spending the next few days (and weeks) slowly trying to re-upload ALL MY PHOTOS!!!!!  As I obviously have nothing better to do with my time....

Thanks a bunch Photobucket.  Money well spent!


Oh look - now it's fixed!!!!!  Except of course for all the photos I started moving to new albums in Photobucket to try and fix it myself...  Now I have to fix all thoses fixes... Sigh...........................


19 April 2016

MW (Military Wheels) ChMZAP-5208 tank trailer

While I was home sick I did manage to make a few models (in between a lot of lying down and doing nothing).  One of which I was building for a friend - who just wanted the model built - he would paint it etc.

This was the model:

I'd almost bought one of these myself a couple of times over the years - but had decided against it as I couldn't really see (apart from raid style one off games) how I would use this in a normal game.  So I was interested to see what the model was like.

I took no photos during the build - which took a while - mainly because of frustration and time off to recover from pulling my hair out.  The plans are fairly basic and I struggled at times to get certain parts to fit.  Much of the heavy trailer infrastructure under the tray (no idea what it's called) had to be drastically cut and re-shaped to fit.  The fold-down ramps at the back of the tray could not sit (IMHO) as shown in the plans so I had to dummy them up a little.  My biggest problem was trying to get the paired wheels to stay parallel.  Fortunately a lot of that in slightly out of view so I'll let you judge that for yourselves.

Here's the finished trailer - with T-55 for effect:

And now with Ural 375 tow (for greater effect)

I actually like the finished product...  Enough to buy one for myself?  Not sure... we'll see...



17 April 2016

Delaying Action Playtest - Battle Report

Over the weekend I was reminded by a friend that I had not gotten around to  posting a report of a playtest game we had a couple of months back - so I've decided to correct the record and put up the report.


No fancy maps or anything here - just a description of what lead to this particular encounter.  It is several weeks into WW3 (a conventional conflict) and WARPAC forces in Southern West Germany have breached the NATO lines, with a Forward Detachment punching through the gap into NATO's rear areas.  The Forward Detachment has been advancing up a large valley with several exit points and has split off several smaller combat reconnaissance patrols to conduct a reconnaissance by fire to seize the exit points and exploit beyond them.  The main body of the Forward Detachment will then redirect through the best exit point.

NATO is scrambling to deal with this.  This area is the responsibility of the II German Corps and part of their strategic reserve is the 25 Fallschirmjager Brigade.  Elements of the brigade have been immediately dispatched by helicopter to block the exit points and delay the Soviets.


We used the Delaying Action scenario from Battlegroup: Fall of the Reich as the basis for our game with some variation.  The game length as 10 turns (rather than 9), the Soviets forced a BR chit on the West Germans for every unit that departed the board through the NATO table edge (rather than 1 BR chit per 3 units).  The Fallschirmjager had no defences (as we reasoned that they had only just managed to arrive themselves before the Soviets did, so had not dug any defences or had a chance to lay mines etc) and we changed the way the West German reserves arrived so as the game progressed they recieved a greater chance of having some reserves turning up.

Just to mix things up I also added in a random card element for each side which could generate some additional forces (or might not) as the game progressed.  Basically this lead each side to get an attack helicopter at some point in the game.  I'm not sure I would bother with this again - but it was fun to try.


1 x BRDM-2U Artillery Command Post
1 x BMP-1P Motor Rifle Platoon w/SVD Marksman and SA-7
1 x T-72A Platoon
2 x 120mm Heavy Mortars with GAZ-66 tows (1 Battery)
2 x BRDM-2
1 x ZSU-23-4
1 x Time MiG-23 Air Strike

West Germans
1 x FJ Forward HQ
1 x FJ Forward Air Controller (w/Ilitis Jeep)
1 x FJ Platoon with:
  • Extra Milan 2 Team w/KraKa
  • MANPADS Redeye Team
  • Rh202 AAA w/KraKa
  • KraKa Resupply
1 x FJ Forward Observer Team (w/Ilitis Jeep)
1 x Off Table Heavy Mortar Battery
1 x Sniper & Spotter
1 x FJ Light Recon Patrol (w/Ilitis Jeep)
1 x Milan Team w/KraKa
1 x Improved TOW Team w/KraKa
1 x KraKa Resupply
1 x Timed PAH-1
1 x Timed Alpha Jet Air strike

As you can see the Fallschirmjager got lots of little stuff, while the Soviets got a few BIG things - an interesting game balance.  This was my first test of the FJ list and perhaps it needs some tinkering - but when my mate saw what I was fielding as the FJ Player his comment was - "I'm glad I'm playing Soviets!"

The Table

I also tried something a little bit different on the table as well.  I've always been a put down a mat and plonk hills on it kind of guy, but I needed a decent ridge to run from one side of the table to the other, and nothing I had fitted that bill so I decided to go with the put some "forms" down on the table and place the mat over it style of table development.  I think it worked and I'll be doing it again.

This is the table from the Soviet end.  It is meant to look rather rural, with few modern structures and a good road network.  Heavily forested along each edge of the valley.  Hopefully you can see the ridge line off in the distance:

There is also a small ridge in the foreground marked by trees.

Now from the Fallschirmjager's end:

And the FJ ridge:

The two barns and the little hill in fron of them (3 trees) helped make things difficult for the FJ in terms of set up.  Do I deploy forward to that hill and into the houses, or make my defensive line along the ridge. 

The Game

I mixed it up and deployed some recce near the hill, a squad plus the sniper in the rearmost barn and everything else I started with in the tree line along the ridge.

The Soviet recce forces deployed

And the most forward BRDM-2 was immediately pounced on by the recce light patrol:

I was fortunate and got a PAH-1 randomly fairly early on in the game:

It managed to stick around for the whole game, performing numerous pop-up attacks from behind the two barns.  It was later joined by a second PAH-1 which sat on the other flank and between them they really made their name as a force multiplier.  The un-photographed PAH-1 was eventually driven off by the Soviet ZSU-23-4, and was avenged by the helo shown in the photo who bounded forward and slotted the ZSU-23-4 with a HOT-1.  In all I think the PAH-1s accounted for a couple of the tanks, at least 1 BMP-1 and the ZSU.

The whole Soviet force was on the table by their 3rd turn and moved pretty quickly up the table.

With one BMP-1 creeping through the woods for the majority of the game:

Turn 4 saw the biggest set-back for the Fallschirmjager.  I had just got some reinforcements on and chose to get my Forward HQ on rather than my single SAM team.  And then this appeared:

I had my Rh-202 AAA KraKa on overwatch, but the quick jet gave me almost no chance of success and he pressed on with his attack.  The MiG driver did have a momentarily thought of having a crack at shooting down the PAH-1 or bombing his assigned target - the centre of the ridge.  Wisely he chose the ridge and dropped 2 medium cluster bombs on my not-dug-in troops.

He managed to wipe out my FAC Team, and their Iltis Jeep, the Platoon Command of my parachute infantry platoon and a few members of a nearby squad.  A massive hole had been punched in my defensive line and I was stunned - and scrambling.  Quite a cinematic moment.

The next turn I was hoping to dish out some revenge when my Alpha Jet showed up and attempted to strafe the ZSU which had just moved and was not set up to take a shot at the jet:

But it was not to be and all my Alpha Jet managed to do was pin the ZSU.

The Soviets continued to advance and I continued to whittle them down with long range ATGM fire:

I tried to repeat my light recon team PzF 44 ambush, but the only managed to pin the second BRDM-2, who then passed his morale test with a "6", passed his beyond the call of duty test and obliterated my recon team with a hail of 14.5mm HMG fire.  Ouch!

In a couple of turns or actually managing to hit something, I was able to put a dent in the Soviet advance with multiple missile hits.

And then this baby turned up:

I swear my opponent was suffering from target fixation - he was pretty tired of the PAH-1 that was slotting BMPs and tanks left, right and centre (his model btw!) so rather than swat some more FJ with rockets he decided to attack the PAH-1 with his rotary canon, and missed...  He claimed it was not fixation - it was the biggest threat and he was trying to take it out.  Fair enough too.

Then he rolled to see if the Hind would stick around, but it must have recieved a more criticl mission elsewhere and flew off the table.

Amusingly then next time the Soviets drew a chit it was the Breakdown chit.  We decided it could be played on a helicopter (never considered it before but it makes sense - to me) and so of course it was played on the irritating PAH-1.  He rolled a "1" which meant the engine made a funny sound and then puttered along as it nothing had happened.  So it was still there!

At the end of my next turn (end of turn 7) the Soviets had 1 functioning tank, plus a BRDM-2 on the board and we decided to call it there.  Whilst there was little chance of them taking out the rest of the FJ in 3 more turns (compared to the FJ finally taking out the tank and the armoured car and dealing with some pinned infantry) we counted BR and we both had only 9 points each - so the game was very close - too close to call.

Hopefully this meant that the points between the forces were quite balanced.  I certainly lucked out with the two helos and without them I would more likely be eating borscht soup in a POW compound!

So pretty happy with the game.  Involved 3 helos, 2 planes, on-table and off table artillery (mortars), tanks, MICVs, infantry with LAWs and ATGMs and of course KraKas!  Can't go wrong with KraKas!!!  We also proved (to some degree anyway) that infantry armed with missiles and supported by missile armed helicopters can take on and either defeat, or at least give a bloody nose to, an armoured force.

So a good playtest game - sorry for the delay in getting it to you.



13 April 2016

S&S 1/2 Ton Land Rover FFR with Elhiem Crew

So this is the last post on my S&S 1/2 Ton Land Rovers.  This particular version is the FFR variant (Fitted For Radio).

I'm not 100% sure why I got two of them.  My original thought was to get one to act a a Recce Command vehicle - then I must have had some kind of mini brain explosion and got two.  As I'm still not sure what to use the other one for (and I did not plan for it's crew) I decided to have one crewed and one un-crewed.  I can always change that in the future.

In an attempt to make the crewed FFR even more easy to tell apart from the Recce Landies, the driver is wearing a green beret and the front passenger gunner is armed with a Bren rather than a GPMG.  The rear is very different to the Recce ones as you will see.


The last photo gives you a bit of a clue of some of the radio equipment in the back.

I suppose I should at some point add aerials for effect - may do, but I have mixed experience with aerials (either breaking them or stabbing myself in the finger with them mid game) - so I'm not sure.

That's it for Landies for at least a while - next up a slight change in direction.



12 April 2016

S&S 1/2 Ton Recce Land Rover with Elhiem Crew

On with the show...

Today's post is all about the S&S 1/2 Ton Recce Land Rover.  These are great little kits - resin bodies with a (1/2) ton of metal bits and peices to attach, including crew with interchangeable heads - some with berets, some helmets, some no head covering at all.

To keep in line with the rest of my stuff I had already bought some Elhiem figures for my crews - in particular Elhiem's:
  • BAOR15 BAOR Vehicle Crews
  • BAOR16 BAOR Vehicle GPMG Gunner
  • OBJ12 Driver wearing Beret
 I wanted two of this Landies to fill some recce slots for my Royal Marine force for Norway.  Here's how they came out:

Vehicle 1

Vehicle 2


So - that's them complete (maybe a little bit of mud added before an actual game...).  Again - I'm pretty happy with how these turned out.

Next up - a couple of FFR Landies



11 April 2016

S&S 1/2 Ton Land Rover

OK - trying to jump back on this particular horse after a few weeks of ongoing (and still unidentified) illness - with not much modelling done.  But I have completed a few units and last night I took some photos to share.

I got 6 1/2 ton SWB Land Rovers in three guises from S&S Models a while back for my Royal Marines.  Designed to be air-portable, they were therefore also more easily sea-transportable and you can find out more about them here.

Here's a couple of pics of the real deal to get you in the mood:

My first two completed were the most simple variant that I'll probably be using as a Forward HQ, FAC or FO transport.  Here they are:

Pretty basic stuff - but I think they've come up quite well and will fulfill what I need them to do.

I've decided that my Norwegian campaign setting will be in late summer - mainly to give me a lot more interoperability between all my suitable USAEUR and BAOR kit with USMC and Royal Marine kit.  Hence I imagine these little Landies could possibly be used by Paras or maybe even Airmobile forces?  Not 100% sure but it sounds good!

Anyway - good to be back to "normal" (whatever that is) and blogging again.

Next up - small Landies with guns!