Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Great Train Robbery: Back of Beyond Style

Today Steve and I put together a Back of Beyond game so we could try out the "Setting the East Ablaze!" rules from Partizan Press. Our hope had been to host a larger game for some of the historical players in the area, but it ended up being a two person affair.   However, we did get some gawkers and inquiries about the game at the shop, so hopefully we can lure some new blood into historicals in the future.

In this scenario, the notorious warlord General Ma had gotten word that the nearby White Russian outpost was due to be resupplied by train. Being short of supplies himself, he thought journeying over the border from Xinjiang to pay the Russians a visit sounded like an ideal opportunity.  Plus, a Red agent was offering to add to Ma's coffers if he could recover a secret message hidden in the outpost's orchard. 

The primary objective of the game was to seize the train station, with secondary objectives being to find the secret message in the garden and to seize the government office (white building) and prevent radio communications.  The Chinese forces started their dawn raid from the lower right of the table, while the rapidly awakening Russian and French expeditionary forces started at the outpost in the upper left.

The station was seized by the Chinese in the first round, and Chinese and Tibetan cavalry raced forward to stall the enemy so the Chinese infantry could move on to the government office and orchard unmolested.

Tranbaikal and Daghistani Cossacks raced to attack the Chinese cavalry. Meanwhile, French marines worked to position themselves and their heavy machine gun at the outpost.

Tibetan cavalry rushed across the field to destroy the Russian artillery before the field gun could start pounding the Chinese infantry.  Luckily the artillery crew proved to be poor shots and failed to do any damage to the advancing Tibetans. 

The first unit of Cossacks made a tactical error, bunching up as they prepared to charge the Chinese and forgetting about the mortar team watching them from the train station.  Half the unit was wiped out by a well delivered round.

The Chinese heavy machine gun moved itself into position on the station loading docks, while "Dare to Die" troops under the supervision of General Ma secured the station.  The general's body guard unit raced towards the orchard while the German trained troops prepared to move into the government office.  French marines huddled behind the orchard walls, trying to decide which of the two objectives to seize.

The Tibetan cavalry ignored the nearby enemy infantry and continued their determined charge for the field gun.  The nervous Russians manning the gun still were unable to hit the incoming Tibetans.

In the middle of the battle, the train finally arrived.  Stunned by the chaos, the engineer slammed on the breaks, while his Russian escorts failed to get off any shots.

The Chinese cavalry made short work of the mortar attack survivors.

In their single-minded focus on the field gun, the Tibetans paid a heavy price as they came under fire from French and Basmachi infantry. Despite losing almost half their number, the Tibetans did not falter and succeeded in destroying the gun. However, the infantry later completed their carnage and there were no Tibetan survivors.

The "Dare to Die" troops decided to exit the station buildings and prepare a fitting welcome on the platform for the arriving train. 

Elsewhere, the French marines hopped the wall into the orchard and prepared their own welcoming committee for the the Chinese when they opened the gate.

The second unit of Cossacks charged into the Chinese cavalry, and a pitched battle lasted for several rounds without either side being able to gain an advantage. Colonel "Scarface" Hu was eventually shot by a French officer accompanying the Cossacks, but instead of falling dead, the would enraged him so much that he was able fire up his men and kill off all the Cossacks. The surviving French officer rushed back to the outpost.

The Chinese swarmed into the orchard and killed off four of the defending marines with bombs, but the surviving French pushed back and killed off the entire Chinese unit.

As the train came to a stop in the station, the Chinese fanatics swarmed it and lobbed bombs into the cars, killing all but two of the Russians.  The two surviving  Russians attempted to surrender, but the "Dare to Die" troops do not believe in taking prisoners and cut them down where they stood.

At this stage the French held the orchard and the Chinese the station and the government office. The Chinese had completed their set up of the heavy machine gun on the station loading docks and had also moved up a light machine gun to the government office, effectively setting up a killing zone for any enemy troops foolish enough to attempt to move out into the open.  Trapped behind walls and buildings, the Russian and French commanders decided their best option was to surrender and let General Ma make off with his ill-gotten gains.

We enjoyed the new rules and the scenario, but over the course of the game we realized we had made some significant mistakes in how we interpreted the rules. However, we feel that didn't impact the game too badly and are looking forward to trying something more complex by including ground vehicles and perhaps some aircraft.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Usambara Railroad: Sarissa Passenger Car

I've been ignoring this project for a bit, but finally decided it was time to offer some passenger service on the rail line. As with the rest of this project, this car is part of Sarissa's railway series.

I had originally planned to modify the car by adding in some O scale seating from the railroad shop, but realized it wouldn't give me enough space to place figures inside the card. As such, this car is straight out of the package, with only some sanding of the hard edges. I might look at adding removable seating in the future though.

As before, I wasn't able to find any references as to the paint colors used on the actual cars, so I used passenger cars from Germany proper as a guide. I wanted something that would contrast with the red-brown used on the freight cars, so decided to go with a green color. This particular pattern is based on a paint scheme used by the K.P.E.V. I've opted to go with a 2nd Class car, as I couldn't imagine there would have been much 1st Class service on the line. Numbering was done using the Woodland Scenics dry rub decals.

Construction wasn't too bad, though I did manage to snap a beam in the roof as I was fitting pieces.  The car is a bit stumpy and I think the windows look out or proportion to the rest of the car, but it will get the job done.

And below is a final shot of the full train. It's not huge, but will occupy enough space on my usual 4x6 table.  Once the goods shed is finished, I think I'll consider this project complete.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

IJA Veteran Infantry

Back with some more infantry for my Japanese Army.  These are the veteran infantry (sometime called jungle fighters) from Warlord Games, supplemented with a couple of their plastic figures. The figures use the separate head system, which gives you the opportunity to add more variety and mix the heads with the plastic system.

I think the sculpts themselves are generally decent to good, and the faces have a lot of character.  One thing i didn't like is the the rifle lengths are shorter than their plastic counterparts. I understand you have to make the rifles sturdier in metal, but would have liked better consistency with the plastic figures. Casting quality was ok, with some of the details soft on the underside and some flash to dig out.  However, considering the amount of gear the troops are carrying, I guess it's to be expected that not everything can be crisp if you still want to get the figures out of the molds.

Overall I'm happy with this purchase and thing they will look great on the table.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

IJA Type 94 Tankette

Instead of an armored car for my Japanese forces, I've decided to add a Type 94 tankette (九四式軽装甲車). This particular tankette began production in 1935 and were assigned to infantry divisions for use in reconnaissance.

Rather than go with the Warlord Games version, I opted to get mine from Trenchworx, as my previous purchases from them were of such great quality and the price was cheaper. However, this particular kit didn't live up to its predecessors.  While the resin portion was top notch as before, the metal pieces had casting issues.  The treads were fine (though a bit of flash to clean up), but the  turret and towing hook did not have enough metal in the molds, leading to malformations.  

For the turret, there was a large seam visible on the right side, and the left rear side is not fully rounded, with a "dent" where the turret feeds into the body. 

The towing assembling had only a nub where the hook should have been, so I was forced to shave it down and build one from scratch. 

I had wanted to go with the all green scheme for 1935, as seen on, but ended up going with the 1939 scheme used at Nomonhan, as I though this would better hide some of the turret defects.  Though no markings were present on that example, I've opted to mark my tankette as #6 in Japanese.  For the khaki-iro and midori-iro, I've used the same paint colors as on the previous tank

Some comparison shots with the Chi-Ha to give you a better sense of size.

I ended up with something acceptable in the end, but I hope my casting issues are an exception that slipped through rather than the norm for this kit. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

IJA Type 97 Chi-Ha Tank

A bit of armor for the new Imperial Japanese Army. This is the Chi-Ha (九七式中戦車 チハ) medium tank, which was introduced in 1938 and used in China and the Pacific theaters.

This is the Warlord Games kit and overall it is a decent model.   There was quite a lot of resin flash build up in the treads, but it wasn't too difficult to clear out.  Bubbles were minimal and thankfully on the underside of the turret and body. The trickiest part to assemble was actually the railing on the turret, which is shipped flat and has to be bent into the appropriate shape.  There are only divots for 3 of the five posts, so I had quite a bit of trouble with the posts not lining up properly and popping lose during the bending. But in the end I managed to get the railing relatively level.  One thing to note is that their assembly instructions have you putting the engine covering on backwards, so check the fit before gluing.

Looking at, there was some variation in the camouflage patterns depending on the year and the area of operation.  I opted to go with a pattern seen in Manchura, 1940.  For the paint, I used the following Vallejo colors:

Khaki-iro: English Uniform 70.921, Khaki 70.988, German Camouflage Beige 70.821
Tochi-iro: Hull Red 70.985, Flat Brown 70.984, Saddle Brown 70.940
Midori-iro: German Dark Green 70.896, Luftwaffe Camouflage Green 70.823, Camouflage Olive Green 70.894
Stripe: Dessert Yellow 70.977, Golden Yellow 70.948, 50/50 mix Golden Yellow/ Ice Yellow 70.858

 This particular camouflage pattern appears to belong to a tank from the 34th Tank Regiment, so I've used the Warlord decal for its 2nd Company. The tank number was created using Woodland Scenics dry rub numbers, with hand inked kanji added (the ink allowed me to get finer lines than with paint).

Finally, I've done a little weathering, adding bits of exposed steel, some rust and grime, and a layer of dust build up.