Sunday 24 October 2010

Today, I Am Mostly...... Making But & Bens

Scratchbuilding a couple of But and Bens. Simple, two room, single storey cottages.

The model in the top of the picture is just a concept piece built to determine if the dimensions looked right. The lower model is a 'fun' piece - a ruined cottage based on one locally that has a dead tree growing in the middle of it.


The Ferret Scout Car

No civil war scenario set in the UK in modern times would be complete without a mention of the iconic Ferret 'armoured car'.

The Ferret was developed in 1949 as a replacement for the Daimler "Dingo" Scout car. Not surprisingly the Ferret shared many similar design features with the Dingo and is often misidentified as such. The Ferret featured a larger fighting compartment with an optional small machine gun turret. It was built from an all-welded monocoque steel body with four wheel drive and "Run flat" tyres.  The turret, where fitted carried a single machine gun. Originally a .30 cal Browning, in later models a 7.62mm GPMG. Six smoke grenade launchers were fitted to the hull (three on each side).

The first production model was delivered to the British Army in 1952 and the production ran until 1971 by which time 4,409 had been built.

It was small and robust with power, suspension and steering that gave it remarkable cross country capability. Crusing speed was 30-35mph and it could reach a 55mph on the road. It would serve with the British Army for 40 years.

Ferret Mk 1

BW Models BW291: FV701 Ferret scout car Mk1

This is the Car Scout 4x4 Liaison (Ferret Mk 1) FV701(C). It has an open top which can be covered by a canvas. It is armed with a 7.62 mm Bren LMG or a 7.62 mm (0.30) Browning machine gun, with 450 rounds of machine gun ammunition carried. Later production models are known as the Ferret Mk 1/1, FV701(J).

Ferret Mk 1/2

BW Models BW292: FV704 Ferret scout car Mk 1/2

Car Scout Liaison (Ferret) Mk 1/2 (FV704). Identical to the Mk 1 but has a crew of three and utilsed as a light reconnaissance vehicle in forward areas. It has an armoured roof with a hatch and is armed with a 7.62 mm pintle-mounted Bren LMG. The single-piece hatch cover opens to the rear. Periscopes and vision blocks are provided for observation by the commander.

Ferret Mk 2

BW Models BW293:  FV701E Ferret scout car Mk 2

Car Scout 4x4, Reconnaissance (Ferret) Mk2FV701(E). Basically a Mk 1 fitted with a one door turret, whilst the Mk 2/1 has a two door turret..

Ferret Mk 2/3

BW Models BW295:  FV701H Ferret scout car Mk 2/3

Scout Car Reconnaissance Mk 2/3 (Daimler Ferret 4x4) FV701(H). This is a later production model of the basic Mk 2 with a turret that allowed 360 degree traverse and greater elevation and depression of the 7.62mm machine-gun. The Ferret Mk2/4 and Mk2/5 are essentially a Mk2/3 with additional armour.

Ferret Mk 2/6

BW Models BW296:  FV703 Ferret scout car Mk 2/6

Scout Car Reconnaissance/Guided Weapon Mk 2/6 (FV703). It is a Mk 2/3 with a Vigilant ATGW in a launcher box mounted on either side of the turret. Two spare missiles are carried in place of the spare wheel. The missiles can be fired and controlled from within or away from the vehicle. They have a range of 200m-1375m.

Other Variants:

BW Models BW308:  
FV711 Ferret scout car Mk 4 "Big Wheel"
  • Ferret Mk 2/7: A Ferret Mk 2/6 with the missile system removed and is therefore basically the same as a Ferret Mk 2/3.
  • Ferret Mk 3: This is the Ferret Mk 1/1 brought up to the same standards as the Mk 4 but with the machine gun turret and better suspension.
  • Ferret Mk 4 (FV711): This model is basically a rebuilt Mk2 with stronger suspension units, larger wheels and a flotation screen that gives amphibious capabilities.
  • FerretMk5(FV712): This model was essentially a Mk 4 with a turret mounting an 7.62mm machine gun and four BAC Swingfire ATGWs. A further two missiles are carried under armour.

The Ferret was a very successful design and is much sought after by modern civilian off-road enthusiasts for it's cross-country capabilities. They were replaced in the reconnaissance role by the CVR(T) series and Fox armoured car from the late sixties and early seventies, but many were mothballed for 10 or so years before being sold or scrapped. A number of Mk1 and Mk1/1s saw active service in the Gulf in 1991.

It was perfect vehicle for counter-insurgency operations - it's small size and unpresupposing look giving the military an armoured presence without the political ramifications of deploying 'tanks' on the streets.

BW Models produce the most comprehensive range of Ferrets in 1/76. From Mk1 up to Mk5.
RH Models (Liberation Miniatures) produce an open topped  Mk1/1 and turreted Mk2.


Fascism in the UK in 1979

A Brief Background to British Fascism 

This is the first a short series of essays looking at the role fascist movements could potentially play in a fictional alternative history of Thatcherite Britain, 1979.

Fascism did not suddenly appear in Britain in the 1930's in immitation to Mussolini or Hitler's Germany. Back at the turn of the century extremists within the Conservative Party demonstrated anti-socialist and ultra-imperialist views, believing that the traditional elites were the means to protect the property of the rich from the threat of disorder.

The first self-declared fascist organisation in Britain was the British Fascists (BF) set up in 1923 by Rotha Lintorn Orman. Prominent members of the BF included Brigadier-General Robert Blakeney, the Earl of Glasgow, Viscountess Downe, Baroness Zouche of Haryngworth, Lady Menzies of Menzies, and Brigadier-General T. Erskine Tulloch. In 1926 BF members would aid the government during the General Strike.

In 1925 a number of aggressive anti-semitic members of the BF split to form the British National Fascists. The nearest approximation to a Fascist organisation in 1920s Britain was the Imperial Fascist League.

Enter Sir Oswald Moseley centre stage. In October 1932 Moseley, a charismatic figure, who had been Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the Ramsay MacDonald Labour government of 1929 to 1931, formed the British Union of Fascists (BUF) with strong connections to European fascist parties. The BUF wore the blackshirt uniform, inherited the Horst Wessel song, and the Italian symbol of the fasces.

Military thinker Major-General J. F. C. Fuller, joined Moseley in 1934. Together they reorganised the BUF along military lines. They reorientated the party to take up local issues in local areas, and the most successful and famous of these local drives was the anti-semitic campaign in the East End, which from then on increasingly dominated the politics of the BUF.

World War 2 saw Moseley being imprisoned and the BUF scattered. The fight against Nazism and the horrors of the concentration camps should have seen an end to fascism but by 1945 there were a number of competing fascist groups within the UK. Moselely now free, formed the Union Movement in post-war years in imitation of the BUF, but it was no more than shadow of it's former self.

By 1954 only two ultra-rightist groups existed, A. K. Chesterton's League of Empire Loyalists and Oswald Mosley's Union Movement. In 1967, these groups merged to form the National Front (NF), with Chesterton as Chairman. Post colonial world politics played straight into the NFs hands. In 1968 Kenyan Asians were forced out of Kenya by an 'Africanisation' movement.  The arrival of the Kenyan Asians into the UK the same year was greeted by Enoch Powell's infamous 'Rivers of Blood' speech and a number of far right Tory activists joined the NF.

In 1972 the Ugandan Asians were expelled by President Idi Amin and the NF were handed another golden envelope. National Front membership reached 14,000 in 1973 and went on to win won 44,000 votes in elections in Leicester in 1976. Combined with the National Party, a splinter group which broke away from the NF abd composed of more 'moderate' former Conservatives, the fascist vote reached 38 per cent in local elections in Blackburn. In March 1977, the Front beat the Liberal Party in a by-election at Stechford in Birmingham, and pundits warned that the NF could displace the Liberals as Britain's third main political party. The NF received 119,000 votes in the May 1977 Greater London Council elections, and almost quarter of a million votes across the country in that year's local elections. During this period, the National Front claimed to have up to 20,000 members. The National Front appeared to be a rising force in British politics.

1978-79 saw the rise and fall of the National Front. In 1976 about 1,000 NF supporters marched through the immigrant centre of Bradford, leading to a riot by left-wingers and black youths, who attacked and stoned the police who were protecting the NF's march, overthrew two police cars, and fought a running battle with mounted police. The most violent confrontation occurred in Lewisham in 1977, when over 1,000 NF supporters marched through a multi-racial area where they had gained strong support in the Greater London Council election. Thousands of militant anti-NF demonstrators charged at the NF column, broke through the police lines and fought with members of the NF in what has been described as "the bloodiest street battle Britain had experienced since the 1930s". The NF touted it as the “Cable Street of the 1970s”.

The left-wing dominated anti-fascist movments claimed that their initiation of violence against the Front was justified because the NF’s activities and propaganda had led to racial assaults and murders. As a result of this repeated violence at NF organised events, chief police officers increasingly used their powers under the Public Order Act (1936), originally brought in as a response to violence in the wake of Moseley's BUF and banned NF marches.

In 1977, the communist dominated National Union of Journalists instructed it's members not to report on NF events or policies, except in the context of violence, and not to allow any statements by NF spokesmen to be quoted in the press or on television. leading to an almost news blackout on the NF and their activities. The Anti-Nazi League was formed in the same year and though an intense campaign that included rock carnivals, and cleverly uses sub-culture related groups such as Gays Against Fascism and Vegetarians Against the Nazis to build a movement that would see 100,000 people marching against the National Front.

In 1978, Margaret Thatcher, then Leader of the Opposition, stated in a television interview that many white Britons felt that they were being “swamped” by immigrants, and that this was leading to growing support for the NF. She promised that the Conservative Party, if elected, would address these issues. Overnight, Natioanl Front support amongst right-wing Tories, and middle of the road voters dissipated.

In the 1979 election campaign out of 623 parliamentary constituenciesthe the NF put forward 303 candidates. They received little media coverage until Southall, Middlesex, Blair Peach, a New Zealand teacher and member of the Socialist Workers’ Party, was killed by the police while leading a large crowd of Asians in an attack on an NF election meeting in Southall, West London. Public opinon waned. Appalled by the violence that appeared to accompany the NF, and the fact it had attracted anti-establishment youth sub-cultures such as Skinheads and Punks, adorned with Nazi symbology, The NF were only awarded 1.3 per cent of votes cast in the parliamentary seats contested. The National Front was as it stood, a spent force, claiming that the Conservative Party had "stolen our clothes"


Does the collapse of the National Front in the 1979 elections mean that fascist movements play no part in Winter of '79. Not at all!  It's an alternative history remember. I'll look at some of the potentialities in the second installment.


Saturday 23 October 2010

UK Land Forces Armour Orbats 1979

Before we start breaking out the credit card to for squadrillions of 1/76th Chieftains for Kursk like tank battles outside Slough or Newbury, what and how much armour would be available to our protagonists in the Winter of '79?

The Royal Armoured Corps was divided into regiments that operate main battle tanks (armoured regiments) and those that operate reconnaissance tanks (armoured reconnaissance regiments).

There were ten Armoured Regiments in 1979.  Eight 'teeth' regiments were based in BAOR organised as Type A with a different composition to the Type B (United Kingdom) Regiment.

Of the two UK based Type B Armoured regiments, one 'teeth' regiment served as the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment. In 1979 it was the turn of the Queens Royal Hussars.

As Training Regiment the Queens Royal Hussars had to fulfill a number of roles. As Training Regiment part was based at Catterick, North Yorkshire, whilst the main body of the regiment was based at Bhurtpore Barracks in Tidworth, on the edge of Salisbury Plain, as RAC Centre Regiment and UKLF (reserve).

C Squadron was detached to the School of Infantry at Warminster where it was used in the role of RAC Demonstration Squadron, D Squadron was detached to provide the armoured force of the Berlin Brigade and another squadron served on peacekeeping duties in Cyprus and Rhodesia. The regiment also have to provide an armoured reconnaissance squadron for ACE Mobile Force (Land) comprising 4 troops each of 2 Scorpion and 2 Scimitar CVR(T).

In addition to the Armoured Regiments were eleven Armoured Reconnaissance Regiments of which five were based in BAOR.

There were 3 different types of Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment. Type A (BAOR), Type B (UK) and Territorial Army. One Type B (UK) Regiment was based in Northern Ireland and had a different structure to the others.

Type B (UK) Armoured Regiment

The Fighting elements of a Type B (UK) Armoured Regiment comprised 3x Armoured Squadrons and 1 Close Reconnaissance Squadron
2x Sultan
2x Ferret Mk1
1x Land Rover FFR*

3x Armoured Squadrons each:

2x Chieftain MBT
1x Ferret Mk1
1x Land Rover FFR

4x Troops each:
3x Chieftain MBT

1x Close Reconnaissance Squadron:

4x Land Rover FFR

4x Recce Troop each:
6x Scimitar CVR(T)

 Total: 42 Chieftain MBT and 24 Scimitar CVR(T)

*FFR = 'Fitted For Radio' - no outwards difference to normal Land Rover, this referred to the internal wiring and fusebox to allow for powering radio equipment.

Type B (UK) Armoured
Reconnaissance Regiment

The Fighting elements of a Type B (UK) Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment comprised 2x Medium and 1x Close Reconnaissance Squadrons
3x Sultan
4x Ferret Mk1
1x Land Rover FFR

2x Medium Reconnaissance Squadrons each:

2x Sultan
1x Ferret Mk1
2x Land Rover FFR

4x Reconnaissance Troops each:
2x Scorpion CVR(T)
2x Scimitar CVR(T)

1x Survey Troop
4x Spartan CVR(T) with ZB298 Radar

1x Close Reconnaissance Squadron:

3x Land Rover FFR
1x Ferret Mk1

5x Close Reconnaissance Troops each:
6x Fox CVR(W)

Total: 16 Scorpion CVR(T), 16 Scimitar CVR(T), 30 Fox CVR(W)

Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment
Territorial Army (TA)

3x Sultan
3x Ferret Mk1
1x Land Rover FFR

4x Reconnaissance Squadrons each:

2x Sultan
1x Ferret Mk1
2x Land Rover FFR

5x Reconnaissance Troops each:
4x Fox CVR(W)

1x Support Troop:
5x Spartan CVR(T) or Saracen APC

Total: 80 Fox CVR(W), 20 Spartan CVR(T)/Saracen APC


So, excluding the normal caveats of non-runners, shortfalls due to defence cuts, tanks in UK workshops from BAOR, tank sheds full of mothballed Centurions, we have as a ballpark the following available to us (also excluding the Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment in Northern Ireland):

One Armoured Regiment Type B (UK)
Total: 42 Chieftain MBT and 24 Scimitar CVR(T)

One Armoured Training Regiment - based on Type B (UK)
24? Chieftain MBTs and 16? Scimitar and 8? Scorpion CVR(T)

Three Armoured Reconnaissance Regiments Type B (UK)
Total: 48 Scorpion CVR(T), 48 Scimitar CVR(T), 90 Fox CVR(W)

Two Armoured Reconnaissance Regiments (TA)
Total: 160 Fox CVR(W), 40 Spartan CVR(T)/Saracen APC

Grand Total (estimated):
66 Chieftain MBT, 56 Scorpion CVR(T), 88 Scimitar CVR(T), 250 Fox CVR(W)

In addition to these numbers, the Royal Ordnance factory and Vickers-Armstrong produced tanks for overseas customers such as Iran, Jordan. The Challenger came out of the Shir-1 project for Iran - so it would not be inconceivable to see a few early 'Challengers' in 1979.

Both sides in a civil war would turn to foreign powers for additional armour- France, not in NATO, being the most likely candidate. So we have an option to include more exotic beasts in our games such as Panhard armoured cars etc.

We are also likely to see retired models of tanks and armoured vehicles scavanged from mothballs, museums or scrap dealers to be brought back into action.

CVR(T) = Combat Vehivle Reconnaissance (Tracked)
CVR(W) = Combat Vehivle Reconnaissance (Wheeled)

These are all paper strengths and should be viewed as an intention rather than what was actually achieved. A cancellation of orders for the Spartan due to defence cuts meant that in some units the Saracen APC had to soldier on in it's place. 

Today, I Am Mostly...... Making Land Rovers

Dawdled by Hobbycraft during the week and picked up the remaining Airfix 1/76 Bloodhound Missile kits (still reduced to £3.99). Mostly for the Land Rovers, but the missiles themselves aren't wasted as they will become part of a 15/20mm Sci Fi  colony defence missile battery.

I just wanted them. Nostalgia I guess. I had a lot of difficulty breathing that particular morning, but forced a recovery to give a dazzling presentation to the Senior Management Team at 9am. The kits were a bit of shopping therapy later in the day - a pick up and hold in my hand shot in the arm.

Was also sort of, but only sort of, tempted to get the Airfix Matador and 5.5inch Gun set that was also reduced to £3.99. This venerable WW2 era weapon was still in use with the Territorial Army (TAVR) in 1979. 

I'll get the Rovers done this morning. Then finish off my Anarchist ASU over the weekend. Too many demands and too much bullshit at work last week to be able to relax with a paint brush. Now my head has cleared, back to the miniatures!


Thursday 21 October 2010

Its a gas, gas, gas!

. I've just heard from Nic. Mike is going to resculpt the heads on the riot squad figures to show a more accurate respirator.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Wish I had a Grey Cortina!


Transcript of radio transmissions.......Alpha Two One, SENTA A.O.

"This is Alpha Two One. Westbound on A40.....just cleared Red House over."

"Alpha Two One this is SENTA Control, Red House, copy that over"

"This is Alpha Two One, past Lansadwrn turnoff.....we have two dinkies in the road. Armed men, in DPM. Slowing. Do we have VCP on A40? XXXX cease transmission to this location..."

"Shwmae, Bach? Ble wyt'in mynd, nawrte?"

"Bore da, da iawn diolch. Rydyn ni'n mynd i Lampeter."

"Ie? Llanbedr Pont Stefan?"

"Nag e, Lampeter; mae ffrindiau gen i yn coleg yna"

"Sorry, Sir, Lampeter IS Llanbedr. Out of the car, please. Now. ALLAN NAWR!"




A21 Soldier A " I'm hit, I'm hit"

A21 Soldier B "FXXX, AXXX............"

A21 Soldier C "Taffs in treeline, M16, got one"

A21 Soldier D "Target with CAR 15, he's down"


A21 Soldier A "Taff with FN. Got him. XXXX hit again"

A21 Soldier B ......static......

A21 Soldier C "Stoppage Stoppage"

A21 Soldier D "Target down, Talk to me lads. Get that guy with the FXXXXXX Sterling!"


A21 Soldier A "FXXX FXXX FXXX"

A21 Soldier B .........static........static

A21 Soldier C "Changing to short"

A21 Soldier D "Sorry Baz.....fat XXXX.......OK, I've got the wheel"


"Droes! Droes!"

"Yma o hyd, Saes!"

A21 Soldier A ............static........static

A21 Soldier B ......static......static.........

A21 Soldier C "Here they come, move it Harry"

A21 Soldier D "OK reversing fishhook......NOW!"
A21 Soldier C "Bleeeeuuurghh"

FIRING.....FIRING in distance...........

This ambush was played out with 11 figures, 2 model cars and a smattering of terrain. One thing it proved was how versatile the figures we've bought are. In this instance, the SAS were armed civvy figures whilst the Free Taffs came from Stonewall's ex-Hotspur Falklands SAS & SBS.

Rules used were Cold War: 1983 by Steve Blease. The Free Taffs had 'Bottles' of 4 and 5 but nevertheless put rounds down on their targets and did a lot of damage to Alpha Two One before the survivors withdrew.

The game was almost cinematic with plenty of action - Cold War: 1983  gave a crackingly good game and over in just 20 minutes.



Hopefully slightly better pics off the riot squad.


When first bitten by the 79 bug I approached Eureka Miniatures with the idea of doing a small range. Although Nic probably thought I was mad he agreed. What I wanted was British Infantry in light kit suitable for IS duties. I also wanted a figure in riot gear. Originally I had requested variants wearing the Para steel pot as I thought they would make great shock troops or another faction. But decided against it due to cost. Nic brought in Mike Broadbent as sculptor, I sent off some pics and sat back and waited. Earlier this month while talking to Nic about something else he mentioned that the figs were almost ready and were about to be sent out. I got home last night and there they were. I have attached some poor pics.


Flying Columns

The MOD has refused to comment on the government's response to the crisis across the country. What is clear, is that it is emerging that regular and territorial army units in some areas are refusing to obey orders. Armed clashes have been reported.

The Commander of the British Army of the Rhine, Major-General Chattan Campbletown-Wingate, has declared that the British Army in Germany will continue to fulfill it's role in NATO. Columns of troops have been seen leaving London.....

Bob Langley reports:
"From our vantage point on the A40 at White City, only a mile from BBC Television Centre, we have witnessed flying columns of tanks accompanied by troops head north toward the M1 and west leaving London by the M4......"

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Welsh Militants and Para-Militaries

If you thought para-military organisations and uniforms on the streets of mainland Britain were something only possible for the pre-war era you'd be wrong. I followed up Maff's superb post, How Green Was My Dropzone, with some rough and ready research on nationalism in the sixties and seventies with an emphasis on militant Welsh nationalist organisations.

The Free Wales Army (Welsh: Fyddin Rhyddid Cymru), FWA, was formed in Lampeter, Mid-Wales in 1963, with the avowed objective of bringing about an independant Welsh republic. The FWA had a full rank structure, uniform code, rank badges and decorations. An interesting article can be found at The BBC also has some footage of the FWA (click on the link to play).

The 'Viet Taff'

Armed with weapons donated by the IRA, they had 200 members attending training camps. About the same time the Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru (Movement for the Defence of Wales) or MAC launched a series of bombing attacks. On the eve of the Prince of Wales' investiture in 1969, two members were killed when the bomb they were planting on the railwayline used by the Royal Train exploded prematurely. The leaders of both organisations were jailed by 1970. 

Government patrol pushing west of Carmarthen

The seventies saw the FWA and MAC being succeeded by nationalist movements such as Meibion Glyndŵr (Sons of Glyndŵr) Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru (the movement to defend Wales), Cadwyr Cymru (the keepers of Wales), The Welsh Army for the Workers Republic  (WAWR) and Welsh Socialist Republican Army (WRA). One or more of these took part in bombing campaigns in 1979-80 and into the early eighties.

The only similar militant/para-military movement I could find in Scotland at this time is the Scottish National Liberation Army (SNLA). The SNLA were formed by Adam Busby, an ex-soldier following the poor results of the 1979 devolution referendum.

So, there you have it. A rich seam of nationalist para-military undercurrents in Wales for you to exploit in our Winter of '79 scenario. Do the FWA and MAC "rise again"? Will the nationalist para-militaries co-operate or impede each other as the anarchist factions did during the Spanish Civil War? Lot's of potential to play out Winter of '79 with small forces and minimal outlay on vehicles and terrain right up to a full nationalist resurgence and uprising.


Thursday 14 October 2010

How Green Was My Drop Zone

Or The Winter of 79 in Wales

Historically the result of the 1979 Devolution referendum was a blow to the cause of any kind of devolved governance in Wales but shadowy activists such as Meibion Glyndwr showed that some people were taking up part of the mantle of Free Wales Army and MAC.

So much for reality.

In Winter of '79 terms, the realisation of the policies and agenda of the Conservative Government meant that Tories disapeared from the political landscape; MPs retreated to London, councillors resigned out of shame, fear and in some cases were strong armed off in local council coups. Cardiff and Newport went Labour but declared themselves open cities while the mining communities of the Valleys joined with the Neath-Port Talbot-Swansea-Llanelli areas in a loose hard left alliance. A combination of militancy, terrain, acess to mining explosives, armed local TA members and presence of a number of Spanish Civil War veterans as radical leaders rapidly turned the Rhonddas into No Go Areas for Govt Forces.

In the hilly, wooded, sometimes misty, frustratingly named and twisty roaded, countryside, the Liberals and the Nationalists shared influence with many farmers and landowners forming local patrols to keep outsiders out.

The Army is already pulling troops east into England and the remaining forces are ordered to adopt "Ulster Rules" and bemused locals see armoured watch towers appear as the Army forts up in it's bases. With the M4 zone effectively closed at Swansea, the MSR runs from Hereford to Dering Lines at Brecon and then along the A40 to SENTA; from there it runs only as far as land rover based patrols can escort lorries down towards Carmarthen. Penally and Castlemartin are supplied by the Navy or helicopter lifts. The Army, dug into bases has no real idea as to the mood of the locals and refer to the country in general as "Indian Country" and the rumoured armed Nationalists as the "Viet Taff".

Does an armed Nationalist movement exist? Is there a threat of weapons and ASU's filtering in from Ireland through the now porous and long Anglo-Welsh border? Many senior officers in London now realise why Edward I made sure of Wales before moving on Scotland. There are reports of helicopters flying into Mid Wales from Hereford and lost sheep are blamed on long haired men with fearsome moustaches and carrying
M16s spotted at dusk or dawn. But are they the SAS or Yr Rhyfelwyr, The 1st March Brigade or any one of many alleged armed groups?

As an anomymous 2 Para Officer said to Max Hastings at a rainsoaked LZ in the Mynydd Eppynt, "Out there, Max, is the entire 2nd Welsh Nationalist Division. We only have to find him."

The next day the entire TA stock of kit at Carmathen was reported as "Lost on manouvres" along with most of the TA troop.


Tuesday 12 October 2010

Making Hay......

The character of the countryside in late September is altered in appearance by tens of thousands of hay bales.

Howe of the Mearns, looking NE towards Strathfinella
(In Winter of '79, Vale of Borchester looking to the Hossack Hills)

Modern round hay bales appeared in 1972. The 6 foot hay 'wheels' can weigh up to a ton and are a common feature of many fields in early Autumn. 

Harburn Hobbies, CG-212 round bales
5 for £7.66

You still see the traditional 3-4ft rectangular bales, particularly in the smaller farms around here, and you can imagine that back in 1979, both types would probably have been equally common up and down the country.

Harburn Hobbies produce both types in OO scale. I prefer the round ones I must admit, both because they are evocative of the countryside, but also 'cause 1 ton of hay makes great cover!

Harburn Hobbies, CG-213 round bales
Stack of 10 for £6.07

It's very likely in our civil war scenario that hay bales lay uncollected, especially in heavily contested areas. They make just one more interesting tactical and visual element that can be added to your terrain!


Monday 11 October 2010

Tales from the Coo Shed

On the way into work every morning the train passes a stretch of windswept farmland on the coastal cliff edge. The farmer has kindly provided his cows with corrugated iron cow shelters and each day I make a mental note that they would look great on my Winter of '79 tabletop.

Using one sheet of Wills OO/HO Corrugated Plasticard (£2.50 for 4 sheets) and seven matches I knocked up the following Coo' shed.

It's simple to score the plasticard and snap it on the table edge. The matches are there not only to add detail but strengthen the joins at the corners.

Simple but effective I think. The shed could be further detailed with additional sheets of corrugated iron laid across the roof, maybe a couple of wooden beams or rocks holding the roof down. I'm keeping this one simple but will finish it off by mounting on a scenic base.

Right. Off to build another!


SKELP 2010

Had a great day at SKELP wargames convention held in Forfar yesterday. Forfar is a 20 minute drive away during which I pass three Roman camps, the battle sites of Inchbare 1130 AD and the famous dark ages battle of Nechtansmere 685 AD.

pic of a game at SKELP 2010

SKELP is a small show, held in the easy to get to and well located venue of Reid Hall. The Angus Wargames Club guys are always really welcoming and helpful, which gives it the ambience of just being an extended club night. The Bring & Buy for me personally was the best ever of any show.

Highlights of the day? First, meeting up with my good friend Cate Adams and hubby Dave.  They are really good people, whom I like a lot and am honoured to know. Turns out Dave had stumbled upon Winter of '79 but didn't realise it was my blog. So after a mooch round the traders stands we swapped 1970's army 'war' stories over a cuppa from the 'Field Kitchen'.

Second, chatting with Dave from Xyston (Scotia Grendel) and being introduced to (Rev) Allan Webster of the Angus club.

Third, but by no means last, having a good natter with Martin from All my figure bases are bought  from Martin as he is a real gent and a pleasure to do business with. I use 20mm diameter 2mm deep round MDF bases for both my 15mm and 20mm individual figures, 30mm for GPMG teams & support weapons etc.

Warbases has recently released a range of flat pack 28mm MDF British red-brick buildings suitable for VBCW. In addition he has made some beautiful 15mm Normandy houses that haven't made it to the website yet. Thoroughly recommend them! VBCW Buildings

Martin showed genuine interest in Winter of '79 and would be happy to recreate these models in 20mm for us. He designs and produces all his own products so is easily able to meet any realistic customer request. I'm going to send him some further designs of my own - let me know if you are interested but please do also contact Martin and mention this blog if you think you may be in the market for Cold War British mainland or German (NATO Central Front) 20mm buildings.

Red-brick terrace with gardens and privy/sheds

Finally, Martin has also agreed to make me some irregularly shaped movement trays for 3 and 4 figure fireteams. Watch this space!

Before I finish, I must mention Mutineer Miniatures. Nice guys to talk to, with a good range of scenics and accessories over and above their cracking 28mm Indian Mutiny figures. Consequently I spent a good proportion of my cash with them. Mostly on a variety of  MiniNatur Silflor autumn/winter countryside grass 'tufts' which came in the original mini pack protective boxes for just under a fiver each. Another trader at the show was selling Silflor in ziplock bags but it just looked squashed and flattened. I also bought Mutineer's show stock of  'plastic' deciduous trees. I recommend them as good looking and sturdy budget tree models. Check them out on their website!

Targe 2010 is in a month's time and held only a few miles from Forfar at Kirriemuir. Looking forward to it!


Tuesday 5 October 2010

More DPM Hordes!

Just as I think I've got my backlog of DPM cracked - I find my parcel from Rolf Hedges waiting for me at home  this evening.

Inside are Liberation Miniatures' Falklands era SAS and SAS support,  Vietnam era Oz SAS (Odd Angry Shot an all that),  1970/80's squaddie odds and sods plus a pack of AK47 types wearing balaclavas.

The 22 SAS lads have a variety of head dress and come with M16's. The Falklands SAS Support Pack has 4 figures with M16/203, 2 GPMG and 2 Bren. These are lovely models. Most are bareheaded and Rolf does nice bareheads - one in balaclava in each pack, two in knitted cap.

See Richard's beautiful Cold War Hot Hot Hot blog for great photos of these minis painted.

 Rolf Hedges 20mm OZSAS
2nd from left has an M79 Blooper and a Shotgun!
(pics cour tesy of RH Model forum)

Whereas the Oz SAS are mostly bareheaded, one in a beret and have a range of weapons and kit. The weapons include including four poses armed with SLRs, one having an SLR plus underslung grenade launcher (weakest figure in entire package I'm afraid), silenced Stirling, three M16s and a fantastic, yes fantastic character with an M79 Blooper in right hand AND a shotgun in his left. All in all, excellent DPM fodder for disparate Rebel forces.

if you wanted to build a rebel/militia force for your own Winter of '79, using Rolf's figures, I'd suggest a minimum of the Oz SAS plus Falklands SAS Support pack. If you want a more revolutionary look to the force, go for the Falklands SAS pack. Use these as your core forces and expand with other miniatures from Rolf's Urban Terror range and others to suit your needs.


Sunday 3 October 2010

DPM Combats in 20mm with Citadel Paints

Started painting the remaining Platoon 20 Falklands Paras in full DPM combats today. It's 40 minutes per figure all in, say, 30 for the DPM effect as opposed to only 10 minutes to paint the combat jacket.

I think the final result is more US Army Woodland than DPM, but that's me being picky and the difference in 20mm is minimal. Still using GW paints as they are easy to get and replace to be honest and this effect was achieved using them straight out of the pot.
1. Black undercoat
2. Heavy drybrush of GW Catachan Green over whole figure including webbing.
3. Pick out 'tan' spots with GW Kommando Khaki. 3 per arm and 4-5 per leg.
4. GW Gnarloc Green 'green' spots
5. GW Scorched Brown, applied in swathes with two 'fingers' going across the green/tan areas.
6. GW Chaos Black, applied in crooked lines to breakdown large areas of plain colour.
7. GW Devlan Mud wash applied over all camo areas.
Note that the early FN SLR's had wooden furniture so are painted here in GW Calthan Brown with a Devlan Mud wash.

Now just left to highlight/weather to taste.


Saturday 2 October 2010

The Pub Landlord - WIP

After blogging yesterday I couldn't help myself and followed the course of my thought train to it's conclusion. So I cut the head off the figure in 3 piece suit from Platoon 20's Armed Civilians (P-CV1) and replaced it with one from Britannia's BAOR range.

Voila! Vince, ex-Bootneck, pub landlord of the Slaughtered Ferret: "No ponce in a red beret is taking my pub!"

You know, if Winter of '79 was set in London, this figure would make a great Pearly King for an urban/Zombie apocalypse!

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay
Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay

Friday 1 October 2010

Platoon 20 on the workbench

Without my laptop and the wonders of the interweb to distract me, I've completed just over a platoon worth of Government Paras - painted, based and on the table! Figures are a mix of Platoon 20 Falklands' Paras and Royal Marines, suitably painted. One section in the 70's chic '59 pattern Denison smock - as per previous post - the rest; 3 sections in DPM camo smock and green lightweights.

The Paras lack a platoon HQ as unfortunately there's nothing suitable in the Platoon 20 range. But here Britannia Miniatures come to the rescue as I kept a handful of the 'advancing'  Platoon 20 Paras in helmet aside for headswops. Should convert Britannia's 3 man BAOR platoon HQ (pack BAOR9) quite nicely.

With the Paras done, I've moved onto a pack of Platoon 20's Male Armed Civilians-Terrorists-Freedom Fighters 1. I've wanted these for a long time so it was easy to add them as an ad hoc pack to one of my recent orders from Tony.

  1. The figure firing a 9mm Browning HP pistol two handed, in zipper jacket is the best of the bunch. Two of these guys (note! only one per pack), one painted in brown leather jacket, one black and you have a nice Cody and Boyle CI5 buddy team. Or equally, undercover SAS, Sweeney etc. Give him a balaclava and you have SAS, terrorist, freedom fighter.... Just a pity these aren't available to purchase singly.
  2. The figure standing in three piece suit with M16 Armalite, is pure 1970's! There's an air of authority about the miniture so he could be an undercover SAS leader in the mould of Colonel Dempsey (Ultimate Farce), a rebel commander, local country Laird or a mixture of all three. The M16 has been replaced with an SLR from a Britannia BAOR figure. Cutting off the M16 was easy and took only minimal effort with a sharp blade. Looking at the mini again now, that head would be easy to replace too. I have a spare Britannia BAOR helmeted head that could turn him into a local defence or home guard militia figure.
  3. The guy in dinner jacket, bow tie, and automatic pistol, doesn't really fit into Winter of '79. Now, I know it's de rigeur in cop dramas for the detective to turn up at scene of crime in dinner jacket, having been called away from some posh do - but really? I guess that I could paint him with a pink/light blue shirt and a tweed jacket to turn him into a lecturer from Borchester College siding with the revolutionaries.
  4. Finally, the figure in jacket and tie with revolver. He has dark glasses that will either be painted as Eric Morecombe glasses - "Wahey!" or I'll do a headswop with the mini in dinner jacket to make him look less Felix Leiter and more Life on Mars.
This pack is worth it within the context of Winter of '79 just for the first two minis listed above. But the other two figures, if not used for '79 will come into their own later, down Panama way, in our planned revisit to the banana republic of Costaguano. The Platoon 20 guys unsurprisingly compliment Combat Miniatures Plain Clothes Detectives  and Criminals/Terrorists. Will definitely get a second pack.