Thursday, 25 October 2012

Allied World War Two Tanks and Equipment now on EBay

Thanks to all those who have visited, bid on, or are watching the German support weapons and vehicle models I put on EBay a few days ago and featured in my previous posting, here's a link world-war-two-20mm-german-support.  Thanks also to all the purchasers of the German tanks, Normandy landing special equipment and the infantry battalions sold in earlier weeks. Some items have produced amazing prices (to me anyway) and others I've been surprised have only reached the basic starting price. The moral is, if you are looking for some 20mm or 1/72 scale toys for your World War Two battles, you might get a real bargain.

This posting is really to advertise that tonight I have put on another 20 auction lots. This covers all my Allied (mainly British) tanks, self propelled guns, armoured cars, towed artillery, jeeps, bren carriers, half tracks, etc and they can be found by searching on seller 7073chrisg for "20mm World War Two.......... 

Postage is a nuisance as Royal Mail charge one price - £2.70, for First Class small packets up to 750 gms in the UK. Since most of my items are only about 150-250 gms it's not good value for money on a single item, but, on the brighter side, if you win several bids it is not likely to cost you any more in postage. Obviously rates are different for overseas destinations and rise in smaller increments.

Anyway, getting rid of my collection does give me the opportunity for some nostalgic looking back at photographs of some of the World War Two games on the sand table. Here are a few of them, in particular concentrating on the British equipment now for sale.
First, three pictures from our refight of the "Rapid Fire" Mount Ormel scenario

And to finish, some photos from my rendition of the Kampfgruppe Oppeln 
counter attack on the afternoon of D-Day

If you love these little Humber Armoured Cars as much as I did you can buy them - here is the link
British recce vehicles on EBay

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

World War Two 20mm German Support Vehicles and Weapons

In an earlier posting I explained about the need to sell my "old school" WW2 20mm (1/72) collection
old-school-world-war-two and I said I would put a new posting for other batches.

So tonight the German support services have gone on sale on EBay - many different kinds of half tracks, trucks and cars together with artillery, AA and AT guns.
I'm particularly pleased with this item.

It is the Revell 105mm Howitzer set with two guns and a limber and full crew. Lovely models that paint up nicely and interesting because the Germans used so much horse transport but you rarely see it on the wargames table. You can see more angles on this model here Horse drawn German artillery on EBay and there are 8 auction lots in this batch, please check out the others if you are looking for a bargain. Here is an overall view

Here are photos of some of them in action in 2010

And a big thank you to the many folks in UK and in France, USA and Italy who have already purchased parts of my collection. I've still got the Allied armour and support weapons to sort out....

More on cavalry mounted fire

There are a couple of really useful comments made on an earlier posting when I got one of my Hussarettes to pose with her horse. Please see
can-blackpowder-era-cavalry-really-fire mounted

I can't satisfactorily answer the question posed by Archduke Piccolo without a photo and that is difficult (if not impossible) in the Comments section.

Yes, we did do some firing from the flank and here is an example
Yes indeed, only firing to the left seemed practicable and it resembles the Detaille sketch of skirmishing in the earlier posting. Bob seemed better behaved for this so I don't know if it was the rider's body position or the different pressure on the reins. However, the point I was trying to make was that lining up your mounted cavalry for volley type fire, as if they were mounted infantry, and popping away at an approaching enemy, was not going to be easy. If you wanted to skirmish then most troopers would have to put their steed at right angles to the enemy to fire from the flank. This would obviously take up more space in the battle line.

Firing with the pistol was no problem as the rider had full control of the horse with the left hand.

I deliberately entitled this posting for the "Blackpowder era" meaning up to say, the American Civil War, due to the generally lengthier firearms and difficulty in loading, making all horseback activities more difficult. It seems very likely that with the easy loading, quick firing, and generally shorter weapons of the late 19th Century some of these issues were mastered. It also seems obvious that if you save your firearm till your similarly mounted enemy is only 10 feet way then there is little danger to your horse as the target looms so large and at your level - so shotguns and pistols must have been tempting if your opponent had his sword drawn!

And it was not all serious..........Hussarettes need some fun to lighten the burden of historical research

Obviously the artist took this photo for the beautiful play of dappled light on the :-)
Eyes Front!!!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Old school World War Two

Back in the 1960s my friends and I, like so many others, were inspired by Don Featherstone's "War Games" and his Airfix figures and scratch built tanks fighting across a sand table. We scraped together our pocket money and bought those boxes of soldiers and plastic kits. In 1968 we had grand plans to do Operation  Barbarossa, and particularly Stalingrad. For early war Germans you could only get a model of a StuG III in those days, and the more adept club members converted them to Panzer IIIs with scratch built turrets or Panzer IVs, not only with the turrets but also extra hull length to accommodate two extra sets of wheels. We never got anywhere near Stalingrad but had great fun and some grand tank battles along the way.

When the teenage and early twenty somethings went their separate ways the collections fragmented but some stayed in Cheltenham and saw good service in later years.  I repaired and repainted many in the mid 1990s, inspired by the "Rapid Fire!" rules, doing Greece, Crete and fictitious Mediterranean island landings. A few years later the lure of more high powered weaponry took hold and I invested time and money augmenting the collection to do something on the Allied invasion of Sicily, paratroopers at Arnhem, and a series of games on D-day and just beyond. I only ever returned to the Russian Front for a brief tour of duty - and this time with 2 mm armies. Hardly old school! But "Rapid Fire" unashamedly seems to be old Featherstone style and it introduced me to more modern ranges of figures and tanks and the realisation that, if you can afford it, you don't have to convert anything any more - just buy it complete!

Here are some photos of one of my games in 2010 of the German Panzer counter-attack on D-Day (this was when I had a sand table too)

Now life moves on and it's finally time to leave the Chateau de Grandchamp for pastures new, and the Duchess, quite reasonably, thinks it's time to thin out the old toy soldier collection. So hello EBay!  I've had some fun already and sold off my metal WW2 infantry, I've sold the stuff specifically designed for D-Day and now I've put up for auction many lots of German tanks and armoured support  - enough for a Rapid Fire Panzer Regiment and some of the fire support for the Division.
Here's a view of it all:

Most of them are painted in late war desert yellow mottled with green and dark red-brown, but some still retain the early Panzer grey - such as these vintage conversions at this EBay link
Panzer III tanks
There are 13 lots in all, including some less obvious  models like self propelled Anti-Aircraft armour and a Panzer III repair/recovery tank, just go to Ebay and search on "World War Two German Armour",  seller is 7073chrisg.

In weeks to come I'll be putting up for sale the German personnel vehicles and towed artillery and all the Allied armour, vehicles and artillery. Later there will be lots of plastic British and German infantry from those early war theatres and I'll put a posting on this blog when they are ready. If, like me, you like to do your wargaming on the cheap then please take a look as them as starting prices are very reasonable and the quality is quite nice.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Can blackpowder era cavalry really fire mounted?

Fans of Hussarettes, don't worry - here's a picture for you!
Emily - "five feet of fun"

and for Wargamers, don't worry, this is about wargaming (but also a little art) so here's a couple of pictures for you too.

Imperial Dragoons defend the honour of Reikland with musketry
while their French opponents steadily trot forward
(Battle of the Chambreuse Valley fought here at the Chateau de Grandchamp
in April this year - nine x five feet of fun!)
If life imitates art then, in my case at least, art gives an insight into life (wargaming is not just a  hobby is it?).  It was a few weeks ago, while the UK was enjoying a brief Summer in September, that I found myself on a  farm in South Gloucestershire conducting a photo shoot with my latest Hussarette model and her horse. To protect the innocent I'll call them Emily and Bob.
For those who need a reminder of what my Hussarettes project is about please see the previous posting

I needed a customised photo shoot on horseback, preferably with a female rider, but I knew this would also give me valuable real life references for a wide range of military illustrations for the future. I have an archive of  American Civil War re-enactors, many mounted, taken in camp and more distantly, in battle at the Gettysburg re-enactment in 2008, but it's not the same as spending a couple of hours with horse and rider performing just for your camera. The Duchess came up trumps by introducing me (sight unseen) to Emily, who is a friend, and Bob. Emily was very willing for any opportunity to exercise with Bob and just seemed a natural in the tight jodphurs, waistcoat and neck stock.
If there was a downside it was that Bob proved to be 18 years old and rather hairy compared to all those classic paintings of valiant stallions ridden by dashing hussars from which we wargamers get our inspiration. At 16 hands he is big - the right size for a dragoon or cuirassier steed, but Emily is only 5 feet nothing. This left a little to the imagination of proportion to her historical counterpart soldiers, I hitched her sword belt up a few notches for the slim waist, and found she was not that much taller than the sabre!. But Hey!, she made up for that as a Hussarette , so who's complaining?
Emily wears sabre, sabretache cartridge box and carbine.
Safety first though - I left the fur colback at home as she had
to wear a riding helmet - love the colour!

So for comparison I found this French Dragoon by Meissonier who is on a nag that looks quite realistic because he is not tall and sleek, he is a bit hairy and he looks disinterested. Probably not that well nourished or cleaned either (unlike Bob in these respects who was mostly happy and clean and loved his cantering).

We did lots of shots first with the sabre and Bob was very well behaved. He and Emily are life-long friends and he trusts her completely, but he's not trained with cavalry weapons and didn't like the sabre scabbard touching his flank. We had to take it off once that part of the shoot was done as he got a bit tetchy. That was my first real life insight into part of the military training necessary for horses, more was to come.

"They shoot horses don't they?"
Forgive the allusion to that 1969 movie title but this photo says just that to me! How did it come about?

I needed some real life references for cavalry firing from the saddle and got Emily to raise the slung carbine to her shoulder in the aiming position. So good is her understanding with Bob that she naturally dropped the reins on his neck and he stood quietly. But I quickly thought this did not seem right since to me, as a non-horse rider, surely with a combination of the rigours of campaigning, unfamiliar horses and riders, and the noise of battle, the cavalry soldier would have to maintain a hold of the reins lest the horse bolted? Emily gladly adopted this action for me and many times she tried to "fire" (no real shots). Each time Bob bucked his neck and moved a bit in protest and the photo results suggest that any ball fired might have gone anywhere but towards an enemy 50 to a 100 yards in front. In this case I think the poor horse would have got it between the ears.

So what can I conclude from this?
- There's no way cavalry could fire effectively while moving.
- Even when supposedly static the horses will move when least expected
- Lots of shots will be wasted, and there may even be "collateral damage"
- Wargamers wanting to fire their cavalry effectively while mounted will need to prove their horses are well trained and familiar with their riders. Not very common if we are to believe contemporary accounts of wastage and death on campaign among military horses.

Edouard Detaille - Hussars skirmishing.
My experience suggests these horses are far too well behaved!
So it was with some relief that this part of my bigger exercise proved that we might have it right in the recently rewritten rules about cavalry firing in my 18th Century wargame rules, "Wigs and Wine".
Here are some relevant extracts:
Heavy and Field artillery and mounted cavalry cannot move and fire; others may do so.

Only the first rank ....may fire.

Weapon Firing    Range to Target: Die Roll Deduction
1-5"        5-10"
Musket -1 -2
Dragoon musket (mounted)         -2 -3(8” max)

Lt Cavalry carbine -2

Well, I hope this has proved of some interest, please comment and let me know what you think. If you are a cavalry re-enactor with practical experience that would be particularly appreciated.

So I'll leave with a parting photo from a costumed photo session
Ideal view of a Hussarette? - kneeling firing