Monday 20 February 2012

Cops and Rugers

In my previous post, The Long Firearm of the Law, I gave a brief overview of the use of firearms by UK Police forces in 1979.

I thought it would be interesting to look at the subject again in a little more depth, but to look outwith the metropolitan areas. Consequently I found that the history of firearm use by Surrey Constabulary is well documented and provides a good example of how one force tackled the perennially thorny issue of arming it's officers.

In the 1970's, Surrey Constabulary (changed to Surrey Police in 1993) limited firearms to CID Detectives and designated police officers who were trained as Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs). They were supported by a few snipers, mostly hobby gun enthusiasts within the force and a small specialist unit known as the 'Gas Squad'. The Gas Squad's intended role being to deploy CS gas at sieges and was mostly made up of ex-forces personnel.

 1/76 Surrey Constabulary Ford Escort

Surrey's Special Branch Detectives and Police Dog Handlers were also trained and authorised to carry firearms. The Dog Handlers were often tasked with VIP protection duties alongside Special Branch and the common SOP was for the dog and handler to patrol the grounds of  the VIP's residence, whilst the Special Branch officer provided close protection inside the house.

Training for the AFOs was periodic and largely based on range firing with little in the way of tactics being practised. Weapons available to Surrey Constabulary at this time included Smith and Wesson model 10 revolver (six inch barrel) for AFO's,  Detectives/Special Branch carried the model 36, five inch short barrel, five shot revolver, the 'Gas Squad' used the Webley CS gas gun and snipers' had the Parker Hale 7.62mm Safari sniper rifle.

In 1978 Chief Superintendent Eric Hughes instructed Inspector Eric Adams to form the Firearms Support Team. The role of the Firearms Support Team was to provide specially trained volunteers and uniformed officers of marksman standard, who would be on call for major firearms incidents, sieges and pre-planned firearms operations.

The Firearms Support Team undertook intense training in weapon and tactics in 1979. Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs) still remained to supplement large scale incidents and to provide containment and guarding operations. For instance AFOs could be deployed by division to contain an incident pending the arrival of the Firearms Support Team, which could take a minimum of an hour to arrive on scene.

With the Firearm Support Team now taking a greater role in pre-planned ops such as staking out banks, leading raids or making arrests where the suspects were thought to be dangerous and armed, the need for local division detectives outwith Special Branch to carry firearms diminished.

During the early 1980's the Firearms Support Team continually strove to improve skills and tactics. Weapons improved accordingly. The Browning 9mm pistol, Ruger Mini 14 .223 calibre folding stock rifle, and the Remington 12 bore shotgun, with the Hatton round solid slug to shoot off door hinges all joined the Surrey Constabulary arsenal.

Operations could now involve plain clothes deployments in conjunction with the Regional Crime Squad, Metropolitan Police Flying Squad or even CO11. Firearms Support Team members were also trained in rural covert observation and undertook that role on several occasions as the threat of terrorism on the mainland increased.

I hope you found this article interesting. For me, it's prompted several new scenario ideas and I am left thinking that the Firearms Support Team provides a further layer of depth to our Winter of '79/Geezers games, giving the civil authorities a greater degree of experience and firepower to tackle organised criminals.  Plus, they can take on revolutionary/terrorist groups without recourse to the military.


Sunday 19 February 2012

RH Models 20mm Argentines in the pipe

Rolf's first 20mm Argies.........

RH Models, Liberation Miniatures
20mm Argentine Infantry

Very much still in the pre moulding stage but some nice figures in the pipeline. Can see a role for some of these in Winter of '79 too.



Maff spoke to Andrew of Grubby Tanks at a show recently. Apparently Britannia's 20mm BAOR figures were left off the new Britannia website "by mistake". Andrew said that if you know the codes, just email him and he'll get you sorted. So here they are:

BAOR 1 Nco advancing with SLR
BAOR 2 Private standing firing SLR
BAOR 3 Private running with SLR
BAOR 4 Radio Operator advancing with SLR
BAOR 5 Private advancing with SLR
BAOR 6 2 man GPMG team advancing
BAOR 7 Private kneeling firing light mortar
BAOR 8 2 man Carl Gustav team, kneeling firing
BAOR 9 3 man Platoon HQ

Maff also picked up Grubby/Britannia FV432s including a basic (closed rear hatch) variant for me. I have to say that the model is very good. The driver wearing a beret is popping his head out of the driver's hatch and cast integrally to the model itself. The vehicle commander is a separate metal casting and you can choose whether or not to have the commander's hatch open or closed.

I'm going to add a Fox turret from Shaun at S&S Models to this one and turn it into a FV432/30, to pep up the rebel armoured firepower. BTW I've always liked the 'Suffield' green/sand camouflage as in the pic below.

Rolf has almost finished a British command pack and this figure looks particularly good. I'm hoping they'll all be of this quality (and without bergans).

No game of Wednesday as Skype let us down on, and we were left without a video connection. So we are going to pick up again over the weekend and blog the results. Absolutely love Tony's model of Top Malo House and really looking forward to gaming with it.

Work went into overdrive this week, with things moving forward by leaps and bounds. We are now on the very edge of launching the online self service HR and Payroll portal that has been my personal vision and goal over the last 18 months. My aim is bring all transactional personnel and payroll processes into one online system to reduce administration overheads, increase business intelligence and improve the internal customer experience. This is not an off the shelf product but something my team is building from the ground up. I don't see this as an IT project but rather a change management one, where IT solutions are facilitating a change in the way every member of staff will interract with HR and Payroll. I hope it will empower them by shifting the balance to the employee being charge rather than being a victim of anonymous processes.

I'm sure you can understand that after being away from work due to illness last year, I'm keen to make up lost ground and prove myself, even if it is just to me. So this means I'll be engaging in a bit of 'guerrilla blogging' over the next couple of weeks whilst work becomes my main focus.


Monday 13 February 2012


Sorry I forgot to post the pics of the latest painted figures. I had a couple of battalions of 1980s US Marines which I traded John for some painting. As you can see he did a great job on these Falklands Marines. He also did some vintage Hotspur bystanders and some RHmodels armed civilans.


Newly painted figures

For the last couple of years there have been very few historical or figure gamers at the local club. Really just me and another guy, Sean. Apart from the odd exception Sean pretty much stuck to the 18th Century. As you can imagine this made the prospect of gaming 79 slim. It's also quite disheartening to paint up all the figures and do the terrain to find that nobody is interested in playing. However in the last 6 months we have had two new members. One of them has turned out to be quite a talented painter and is actually interested in playing modern games. So after a period in the doldrums we might actually see some 79 games set in the Far North.

Posse Comitatus

Red Dawn, Zombie apocalypse, breakdown of civil order and civil war.... Yup! Kept my brain busy this weekend. And a good job too as I have a report to write and finish on Monday, that would otherwsie have distracted me all weekend.

I've maintained an interest in gaming modern battles within the continental USA ever since the release of SPI's board game Invasion America in 1976. In recent months Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, has rekindled that interest with missions based around a Neo-Soviet invasion of America. So I've been inspired to ask Tony at Card Models to make some suitable American suburban buildings for Maff and myself.

I know there's quite a bit of kit available to American HO model railroaders but it ain't cheap or easy to get hold of in the UK. And whilst there are also loads of downloadable inner city buildings on sale for Zombie and rpg gamers, we wanted something more like Elm Street (no kidding) & Main Street, Swansboro, North Carolina.

I should explain here that Maff is intending to game Red Dawn/COD MW2 "Wolverines" Neo-Sovs vs American forces, whereas I'm more into 'Posse Comitatus', the militias vs a waning government after economic and social collapse sort of thing. 

Of course, the funny thing is that if you follow the Hollywood line, all you need in the way of terrain is a shack and a trailer somewhere in the Santa Clarita valley woods, as per the opening episode "Sacrifice" of Series 4 of The Unit (plus Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, NCIS et al). And there's nothing to say we won't end up there yet!

Maff will be gaming in 20mm. I have to say that I am tempted, seriously tempted, especially as I have some old but much loved Twilight 2000 era Platoon 20 Americans in Fritz helmet. However, I also have a much larger collecton in 15mm based on a Peter Pig 15mm US Marine battlegroup with Humvees and LAVs, plus a Stryker Brigade platoon manned by Rebel Minis Modern Americans. Together with spare AK47 bods and Rebel Minis modern cops, SWAT, terrorists and armed civvies it's a no brainer to stick with 15mm.

So, taking all those figures into account, this is largely in the bag. Therefore I don't see 'Posse Comitatus' based games impinging on other projects or threatening to shift my current modelling and painting focus. It's simply, creating an opportunity to make the most of what I already have.


Saturday 11 February 2012


A week of major ups and downs at work made up for by Tony's new card model of Top Malo House, a bunch of ex-Hotspur Argie Buzo Tactico which arrived from Maff this morning and an 18% off selected hobby products at Maelstrom Games!

Maff also included some new 20mm 'Mercenaries' from MJ Figures. The guys in woolly hats could easily be converted into more Buzo Tactico or SAS/SBS or left as is for other more recent conflicts.

So, paint brush ahoy! over the next couple of nights. Let's see if we can get even a patched up Falklands game together for Wednesday, especially as I have the full set of Tony's Falklands buildings built and waiting for some action.

Work has been let's say, interesting. The brakes are off my project at last and we are well and truly 'welly to the metal'. The pilot is planned for the end of the month, followed by the big kick-off and then successive roll out across the organisation from the end of March. So wargamewise I'm contemplating lot's of small painting and modelling jobs that can be completed in an evening or two. This way I have something to take my mind off the day job without being too demanding if I come home wrecked.

I've not mentioned the Zulu War recently. Well, I recognised that I have to pace myself, focus, so it's firmly on the back burner till April when we are over the madness that will surround both pre and post project launch at work. However, not one to pass up a bargain, at Maelstrom Warlord 28mm plastic Zulus are just £18 and so another box may just wing it's way to me. Unmarried warriors this time - that will give me 90 or so of the buggers in total plus my existing metals. Not too shabby for a Black Powder game aimed at a scale that will fit the kitchen table.


Tuesday 7 February 2012

Top Malo House in 20mm from Card Models

At last I can replay the famous Falklands War action fought between the Royal Marines Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre and Argentine Special Forces, 602 Commando Company, on 31st May, 1982.

And all thanks to Tony at CardModels latest model - Top Malo House - available now in 20mm and 15mm. The unusual style of Top Malo House is called a 'Saltbox' which originated in early colonial America and is synonymous with New England.

 Top Malo House 20mm: £2.99

In case you don't own the Osprey edition Force on Force from Ambush Alley Games which includes a very do-able Top Malo scenario, you'll find a scenario aimed at TTG's Firefight rules here (link) and some further inspiration here (link).

One of these models is winging it's way to me and we'll fight out Top Malo with Cold War: 1983, IABSM and Force on Force with scenario stats and special rules for each over the coming weeks.