Saturday, December 5, 2009

Forward Detachment- Organization and Point Chart

A quick post before I'm away on business for a week.  

Not much visible progress, but I was able to assemble a bunch of road wheels, work on the engineer's halftrack, sand down some join lines and putty, and most obviously to add the decals to the commanders tanks now that I got that order from HLJ.

I thought I would put up some screen shots I took of my organization and point chart that I'm working on for my Forward Detachment.  Points are for Blitzkrieg Commander rules.  Click on the charts to enlarge.

First, the Motorcycle Battalion.  I have everything I need for this now that I have the BA-6's, and all the models are being built- the battalion as a whole is about 40% done so far.

And here is the chart for the 220th Tank Brigade.  This one is really taking shape fast.  The only things I still have to get are the Lend-Lease AA halftracks, which I will order soon.

Once I get back and into the hobby groove again, I'll continue work on the models.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

When it rains...

It pours. 

Christmas came early.  Not for the first time,  packages I had ordered weeks apart happened to arrive on the same day!  Here is a photo of the loot.

From an online hobby shop in the UK came two boxes of Zis-3 AT guns from Italeri (four guns in total),  and a box of two BA-6 armoured cars.  Very pleased with these so far.  

The guns are very well detailed and are made of a very sturdy soft plastic, considerably harder than the plastic I was used to from old Airfix  HO/OO kits in the past.  The figures themselves ("servants" as it says on the box art) are in cold weather wear and are very nice indeed.  They will make for a great looking vignette of a gun in action.

The BA-6's are actually rather cute looking models, straightforward and perfect for gaming as they are easy to put together and robust, yet with a good amount of detail.  I'll be ordering Pegasus Model kits again.  Although I somehow doubt that the BA-6 was air-portable, as this close-up of the box art on the Pegasus kit seems to suggest...

From Hobby Link Japan (much closer to home!) I ordered  four boxes of Fujimi KV-2 kits- basically just for the excellent decals, which will give me enough turret numbers to outfit my complete tank brigade.  But I have a couple of ideas on how I might make use of the actual kits themselves at a later date.  These were a steal at 380 yen each, and arrived the day after they were dispatched. Cheaper than it would have been for me to order enough decals from an overseas specialist supplier.


Not much time to work on them this weekend, though- I'm off to teach an intensive Business English course for a group of medical researchers and pharmacists next week at a retreat near Mount Fuji.  No opportunity for working on figures or models, and as the pace is pretty demanding, there is not a lot of free time in the evenings.  

Still, I usually end up getting in some good reading time, and I welcome a week free from commuting and cats!   Being near Fuji-san the view from the seminar room is amazing, as you can see from this photo I took the last time I taught there.

Now I just need to decide what to take with me for reading!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Taking shape...

The First battalion of the 220th has been "decaled up" and is ready for weathering!  In the distance are a lend-lease halftrack and the Brigade Commanders' tank- I ran out of decals for this model, and I'm awaiting some more I ordered yesterday.

I also started on the Brigade Commander- a converted FAA Naval infantry officer.  He is wearing black tankers overall and a cap rather than a tankers helmet.  Black is a difficult colour to portray convincingly, but I'm happy with the way this guy is turning out.  I ended up using Ceramcoat's Dark Night Blue, highlighted with Norsk Blue, and then given a few black washes.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Long March Begins...

Patience, Courageous Comrades!  The rumble of the tracks can be heard as our Brave Armoured Forces begin their trek from the factories in the Urals, fresh from the labours of the Diligent Soviet Worker!

This has been a very productive week- finished models!  The monotony of gluing on the road wheels is paying off, models are  either done or nearing completion, and the First Battalion of the 220th Independent Tank Brigade is just one command tank away from being combat-ready.  All are itching to teach the Fascists a lesson they won't forget.

Three of the tanks are completely finished.  Here's #12.  I had fun removing mud guards, adding such things as tarps, extra spare tracks, and other assorted doohickeys typical of WW2 tanks and beloved of modellers.


And here is the whole brigade so far.

The two grey beasties in the background are commanders tanks, one for the battalion and the other is the brigade commanders tank.  I spray them with a  rough primer that provides a good "key" for the paint, resulting in a finish that gives the turrets that typical rough-cast look.

Behind them can be seen the second battalion in progress- hulls and turrets nearing completion, blemishes and gaps filled with putty and sanded off, and three of them awaiting the addition of road wheels and external fuel tanks.  The third battalion will join later, after I work on some infantry.  I also want to get working on a Recce motorcycle battalion as well. (I'll most likely be needing a break from T-34's for a while!)

Note the vehicle numbers. I most likely will be playing two rule sets, both Flames of War and Blitzkrieg Commander (there seems to be a lot of interest at our club for the latter).  FoW has a one model = one vehicle ratio, while for BKC I want to game at a higher level of representation- one model or stand equals a platoon.  

Therefore after some pondering I came up with the following numbering systems. (You can click on each picture to enlarge).

This is the organization for games of BKC, and represents all the tanks of the brigade.  

For FoW,  the brigade commander's tank becomes a company commanders, I don't use the battalion command tanks, and voila, I have a tank company;

The only hitch is that I need to get a few more KV-2 kits from Fujimi.  I don't really need the vehicles themselves, but the kit comes with a great decal sheet with the numbers I need to complete the tank numbering. I did a bit of number crunching, and buying the kits still works out as being cheaper than ordering the decals I need from a specialist supplier.

I can always mount the big KV-2 turrets with their 152mm howitzers on fortifications or river monitors, so nothing will be wasted.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Everyone needs...

The forces of darkness, evil and despair.  If only to provide a target-rich environment for waves of T-34/85's.

So here is the start of Kampfgruppe Kunersdorf.

Click to enlarge- warts 'n all.

While rifling the boxes at the back of my closet, I came across some half-finished kits, including an ESCI Brummbar that was in fact finished, and which I had already given a base coat of Tamiya's German Armour Yellow spray paint.    Another was the Opel Blitz HQ truck by Britannia.  Just the thing for planning a futile defence, getting yelled at on the phone by the Fuhrer in the privacy of your own bunk, and as a centre for researching cheap one-way tickets to Argentina or Paraguay.

The later war German armour & vehicle camouflage is interesting,   colourful, and makes a nice change from Soviet drab green.  But it is a sunnuvabitch to paint, especially around the running gear.  Next time I undercoat the vehicles in black first, and then spray the top with dark yellow.  This should give me natural shadows to save a lot of painting.  

I had tried spray painting the reddish-brown on with card templates attached to the truck, but it was difficult to avoid over-spray, and  the result was messy and unsatisfying.  So I ended up just brush painting the camouflage directly on and blending in highlights, which I think looks just fine.  

I used my favorite Ceramcoat acrylics for the highlighting.  Interestingly, the Ceramcoat Olive Yellow is a bang-on exact match for the Tamiya Dark Yellow.  I also found that Ceramcoat's Georgia Clay (sounds like the name of a boxer or jazz singer, but is in fact a light reddish-rust colour), when highlighted over a dark reddish-brown, gives a really convincing effect which complements the yellow nicely.

The original Esci kit of the Brummbar did not come with a Zimmerit finish, so I had laboriously added it using model putty, a small hobby screwdriver, and the occasional shot of Bourbon for sanity.  The final effect looked cool, but I chickened out with the Shurtzen armour, which looked to be a pain to put together.   

I'm not so particularly anal about historical markings (these are only  Hitlerites, after all), and having misplaced the kit decals I added some from a Fujimi Pz-III kit.  These had to be bullied and cajoled into position, using what seemed like a litre of decal softener; I don't know how effective Zimmerit was at repelling magnetic mines, but it does a pretty effective job at resisting decals.  I had my wicked way with it in the end, though, and the decals are fitting nice and snugly now.

I also black-lined in panel and door lines with a fine draughting pen, as I find this makes the model stand out more on the tabletop.  It also matches the effect I use on the miniatures.  The effect is much less garish on my desk than the poorly-lit photo would suggest.

I still have to work on painting the left-hand track of the Brummbar as well as the stowage and wheels of the Blitz.  I will use the airbrush to give a light coat of dust to the lower chassis.

I have to admit this has been fun- I haven't painted a German armour kit since I was in high school!

The officer- my first attempt at the Hun- is dressed in pea-pattern trousers and a faded field grey blouse.  A Battlefield miniature IIRC.

One of the nice thing about doing the losing side is that by the end of the war all those splendid organization charts were going by the board.  A deteriorating supply situation, manpower and fuel shortages, and steady casualties at the hand of Uncle Joe's Great Peoples' Armoured Juggernaut (with some token help from the western Allies),  all resulted in formations which by 1945 were increasingly ad-hoc.  

Which is good, as so is my collection of Germans!  I have everything from Marder II's, Wirbelwinds, the usual Big Cats and Panzer-grenadiers in their halftracks, all the way down to platoons of Volksturm, Hitler Youth and even policemen holding the line depending on the scenario.

Meanwhile,  my battalion of Soviet T-34/85's nears the first stage of completion. I  applied putty to the gaps and seams, and I drilled out the gun muzzles.  I have been laboriously putting the road-wheels together.  Tedious, but a less of a pain than trying to assemble the roadwheels for Pz-IV's and Churchills!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Czech war movie; "Tank Brigade"

Found a rather neat YouTube clip of an old post-war Czechoslovakian movie called "Tank Brigade".  

Lots of T-34/85's -which isn't surprising for movies made in Eastern Europe at the time- but also actual Stug. III's and Pz-IV's, which are much more of a rarity.

Now I would imagine that as cinema, the film itself is probably full of the turgid prose typical of its genre, but certainly this is a cool video for any Eastern Front buff.  


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tokyovski Tankograd

Just a quick update to show the current dust-covered mess that passes for my workbench, with a shot of the vehicles that I have been working on recently. 

All are in "staggered" stages of production, as I find that I can maintain my interest in the project that way, and it means that while one hull, turret or vehicle chassis is drying out, I can work on something else in the meantime.

The first row is part of what will be my motorcycle battalion.  

On the left is a Skytrex BA-64 armoured car, which I have heavily modified with the batallion commander gazing out while perched on top.  This particular casting was quite a mess, and took a lot of work with file and a razorsaw to make it look anywhere near acceptable for the tabletop.  Turning out pretty well so far, though.

Alongside the BA-64 is a company (two vehicles) of T-34/76's to provide some "muscle" should the recce battalion get into trouble.  These are a mish-mash of kits I've had hanging around.  The white blur in the middle is a Matchbox 1942 T-34 with a (now defunct) Leva Models resin rounded ChTZ turret, while next to that is a Fujimi T-34 model 1942 with a scavenged ESCI turret.  

The turrets are actually 1/72 scale, while the vehicles themselves are 1/76.  The Leva turret in particular is on the small size, so goes well with the Matcbox kit.  Even the ESCI turret does not look too far out of scale, and after all these are wargaming models not display replicas.

Behind them can be seen the nucleus of my Tank Brigade.  HQ company in front, with a command T-34/85, radio truck and a halftrack (need one more of these).  Behind the HQ units are eight more T-34/85's. Each has some variation, with differing patterns of road wheels, damaged or missing mudguards, and various stowage.  

I may need to build myself up to ten more, which would still give me a good half dozen kits left over!

This pictures shows a close-up of the T-34/76 with the ESCI turret,  and next to that are some Britannia Miniatures tank riders. 


After some experimentation, I found that the best way to base the Tankovye Desantniki is to glue them on, of all things, poker chips. These fit nicely on the engine deck of a T-34.  I'll glue a piece of felt under the chip base to prevent it sliding around, but it is an unobtrusive and very cheap way to mount the riders, and they look the part.

The models in black have been undercoated using a very reasonably priced- yet very  matte- high quality black aerosol undercoat by Creative Colour (which will be my primer of choice from now on).  

I am still trying to gather the courage to start airbrushing the models.  I have an airbrush I bought some time ago, but the last time I  airbrushed a tank was an old 1/35 KV-1 model by Tamiya back in 1977!

I do have a practice model to work on first.  An old SU-85 model.  


I used it to test out the primer coat, and will use it to practice some airbrush techniques first before starting on the other models.  It, too, has served.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

"Peredovoye Otryad"- building a Forward Detachment

"One after another the tanks set off down the glassy road, followed by three hundred trucks.  Although it might seem strange, Colonel Esipenko placed the main force, including the heavy tank regiment,  not at the head of the column but at the tail.  He calculated that the enemy, in the process of retreating under the impact of our army, would appear behind the detachment, and it was there that the greatest danger was to be expected.  Concealed under tarpaulins, the Katyushas were travelling in the middle of the column. 
It was an imposing sight as the column moved along the road- the trucks filled with troops, the tanks, the guns, and the anti-aircraft pieces."

Bokov, quoted in Red Storm on the Reich by C.Duffy (p. 341)

Bokov is recounting the scene as the Forward Detachment of the Fifth Shock Army, under Colonel Episenko, set off to wreak havoc amongst the crumbling German Wehrmacht on January 19th, 1945.   

I have always thought that a Forward Detachment (Peredovoye-Otryad in Russian) offered a lot of scope for gaming possibilities.   I was obviously not alone in doing so, as I see that the Flames of War website has also recently provided a PDF file for download on building up one of these formations. 

And what's not to like?  It was a glamorous and dynamic formation, running ahead of the main armies and probing deep behind an enemy's front line,  seeking opportunities to destroy enemy rear concentrations and to seize vital junctions and river crossings.  On top of that, it was very much a flexible organization, ranging in size from a few companies to over brigade strength.

And you get lots of kewl stuff!  For example, the Forward Detachment of the 5th Shock Army  consisted of the 65 or so T-34/85's of the 220th Independent Tank Brigade, the 89th Independent Heavy Tank Regiment with it's sexy IS-2m's,  and the 1,006th Rifle Regiment- along with various other assets including the Katyusha's mentioned above. These could include towed and self-propelled artillery, assault guns and a variety of other goodies custom-designed to warm the heart of a Soviet player.  

You can also use Spetznatz troops using German equipment- including tanks and halftracks- to infiltrate the enemy lines! 

Another example of a Forward Detachment comes from the 36th Army in the attack on Harbin during the 1945 Manchurian campaign.  Under the command of Maj. Gen. Burmasov,  it consisted of the following;
205th Tank Brigade

152nd Rifle Regiment (from 94th Rifle Div.)

158th Tank Destroyer Battn.

1st Battn, Guards Mortar Regiment

97th Light Artillery Regiment

791 SP Artillery Battn. (SU-76m) (from 94th Rifle Div.)

465th A.A. Artillery Battn.

1st Battn. 176th Mortar Regiment

1st Company, 124th Sapper Battn.

(from D. Glanz, August Storm, which can be found here).

Currently I am writing up my own order of battle for my platoon-based Soviet Forward Detachment, based on a number of suggested lists out there.  Once I finishing costing out the points for  use with Blitzkrieg Commander,  I'll post it here. 

In other developments,  I received notification that my BA-6's and 76.2mm guns have been shipped, and are now simply at the mercy of the labour situation with the Royal Mail.  But on the modelling front, a lot has been happening. 

I now have two battalions of my Tank Brigade well under construction (one more to go),  and today being dry I had the chance to give the first tank battalion, along with part of the headquarters company, a spray of black undercoat.  

Once the paint dries thoroughly, out will come the airbrush and I can start painting the beasts. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Forward! To the...East!(???)

So it appears!

I managed to twist the (rubber!) arm of Giovanni, my regular opponent- and mainspring of The West Tokyo Wargamers-  into giving Blitzkrieg Commander a try, probably in January.

But instead of fighting  Germans, we are going to have a bash at a Russian vs. Japanese game set in August 1945 when the once-mighty Japanese Kwangtung army was smashed into oblivion in one of the greatest campaigns of manoeuvre in modern history- what has come to be known as the "August Storm", the Blitzkrieg into Manchuria. 

This was an extremely well-planned and executed campaign waged by a finely-honed and battle experienced Red Army, flushed with victory over the once invincible Wehrmacht.  Confident in its leadership, equipment and skill, it demolished an army which, while well on the road of decline, was nonetheless one to be reckoned with and which was not known for any tendency to go down without a fierce fight. 

It was a campaign stretching over an area as large as Western Europe,  and from what I have read, the amazing success of the Soviets may had as much of, if not more of an impact on the decision of the Japanese leadership to surrender than did  the dropping by the Americans of the atomic bombs, as devastating and traumatic as they indeed were.

So, it all sounds like a lot of fun for the Japanese player, doesn't it? 

Well,  as a campaign clearly not, and certainly in many respects it is like Barbarossa 1941 in reverse.  Still, there is scope for some good scenarios; the Soviets had to keep to rigid timetables, establish bridgeheads as well as communication and supply lines, and there were lots of opportunities for Japanese forces to hinder the Red Army's advance, seeing that they would be pretty tough to winkle out in defence. 

The scenario would have to be designed so that the Japanese have a reasonable chance of meeting whatever victory conditions are set, and we'll probably beef up the Japanese side somewhat with more modern tanks compared to what were historically available, although nothing to match a T-34 much less an IS-2 or,  God forbid, an ISU-152.

But it means that we can get a game in, as Giovanni (rather foolishly!) has sent his 20mm Germans back to his brother in Italy, and I am nowhere near critical mass for my own Germans.  Giovanni, on the other hand, has a zip-lock bag full of Japanese infantry and I have some Fujimi Type 97 Shinhoto tanks as well as some tank destroyers, so it looks like it is the barren Manchurian plateau for us, at least initially!

More thoughts on forces, scenarios and points for the game in future posts.

Goodies on the way...

I finally caved in and ordered myself some additions to my Soviets the other day. First time in a long while.  This included two boxes of the Italeri Zis-3 76.2mm AT guns ("with servants"- had to laugh at that) as well as box of BA-6 armoured cars from Pegasus Hobbies.

At two guns per box for less than five quid, a box, the Italeri guns look not only to be excellent value, but also are very nice models in their own right despite being soft plastic (but apparently of the harder variety).  I'll still need to get some 122mm howitzers, but these boxes will make up the artillery battalions for my Rifle Division.  The savings on using plastics will allow me to get some more horse-drawn limbers and carts.

The BA-6 kit will be my first try with models from Pegasus Hobbies.  I've read some good things about them.  They are designed for wargaming with simple construction, and again are good value for money with two vehicles to a box, which is exactly how many I need!  I know that by 1944 the BA-6 had probably been phased out from service, but I will stretch their service life a little and have them outfit one company of my recce motorcycle battalion.

There certainly is a lot of good stuff out there for Red Army aficionados these days, and next on the acquisition list are some ISU-152's, some trucks and tractors for my support weapons, and of all things some DUKW's, of which more in a future post.

Meanwhile I have been busy working on a Soviet tank brigade, and I have been churning out T-34/85's  in fine style, along with a couple of T-34/76's designated to make up part of a motorcycle battalion.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What life was like from the inside of a T34/85...

Noisy, cramped and hellish by the looks of things.  

I salute the heroes who actually had to fight in these beasts against the Panthers and Tigers.

A great video!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Big Cats

While going through my stash of 1/76 scale kits, I took stock of what I have for the Germans.  Again, it turns out I've amassed a lot more kits than I had thought!

Fujimi Kits:
2x Pz-III N

6x Pz-IV Ausf. J
1x Panther Pz-VG
5x Tigers (!) (I got two more bundled with the Is-2m's as per my previous post, and now have more than I need!)
11x Sdkfz-251's
1x  Sdkfz-250
2x Sturmgeschutz III

2x Wespe SP guns

1x Hummel SP gun
1x Wirbelwind SPAA

Trucks, trucks, trucks...

This box contains the German air support in the shape of a Stuka and Henschel ground attack aircraft, some assorted extras and of course Tigers, Panthers, and other Big Cats...

"I want to be a Pz-V when I grow up"

Anyway, I have enough kits to build up a very respectable Panzer force for the Wehrmacht.  Either that, or I can open my own hobby shop. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Well, my excursion into 15mm didn't last long!  Some reasons for this.

First of all, I didn't really enjoy painting the smaller scale- partly my ageing eyes, but also just because I found them to be both more fiddly and much less satisfying when painted and placed on the tabletop (the two-foot rule) than are their larger brethren.

Another reason was that when I sat down with a calculator, it became evident that the cost of building up a collection from scratch in 15mm was simply going to be a lot more than I originally estimated, especially seeing as I already have a lot of models and miniatures already in 20mm.

And I mean a lot!  The re-think started a few months ago as I was nosing around a flea market here in Tokyo and stumbled across two brand-new boxes of these; 

I couldn't resist picking them up, as they were a steal at only 600 yen each, and with each kit containing a 1/76 Tiger and IS-2m. That's 300 yen per vehicle, cheap by any standard! And they are indeed beautiful models.

Recently I met a fellow gamer from Italy, who is like me a long-term resident here in Tokyo.  We  were discussing possible gaming projects in the future and one of them was WWII.  So when I got home I decided to dig out all the kits I had- and found myself astounded at just how many  models I have picked up over the last seventeen years or so!

These are what I have just for the Russians.

Not counting these on the workbench;

Fujimi's T-34/85 mould is getting "long in the tooth" and like any kit of its vintage, it has its frustrations and gaps which need filling, not to mention the soft rubber tracks ( I'm one of those madmen who prefers putting together separate link sections in hard styrene, as with the IS-2m kit).

Nevertheless, the T34/85 is on the whole pretty simple to knock together  and I find it very much looks the part when finished.  I am as much a modeller as I am a gamer and painter, so I have a lot of fun cutting off fenders, adding battle scars and stowage and opening hatches etc. so as to give each vehicle an individual look.

Three are pretty much near completion, and I was able to put the hull and turret of another one together in an hour.  While I'm waiting for the glue and/ or putty on one model to dry, I can work on another so that progress is actually pretty swift. 

Note the commander in his BA-64 in the back.  I've done a lot of conversion on this model too, but the Skytrex white metal castings can be rough and it took a lot more time, effort and bad language  to get it presentable than did the Fujimi kits!

Haven't decided on markings yet; I will probably order a few sheets from Aleran who do a good range of 1/76 decals, including vehicle slogans and turret numbers for the Russians.

Power in my palm! Completed model ready for priming and painting.

I have around 24 T-34/85's in total.  21 is enough for either a tank battalion if using Flames of War, or for two entire tank brigades (twelve models each) if I use the Command Decision/ Spearhead organization (which I'm thinking of adopting for Blitzkrieg Commander).  In 20mm, these should make for a very impressive looking force.

Also in the picture are five Fujimi IS-2m's, which will make make up either a heavy tank company or regiment, depending on the rules.  You can also see some lend-lease half tracks and a few SU-85's which I will convert into recovery vehicles.

For the Germans I must have at least a score more, including half a dozen Pz-IV's and eight Sdkfz-251 half tracks.  One nice thing about living here in Japan; access to all the available kits, and at a reasonable price once I know where to look. 

And all this does not include the models I have in metal!  I have loads of Russian infantry, heavy weapons, mortars and command figures.  The only thing I need  for the Soviets are some rocket launchers and heavier guns, but as these are factored in off-table in many rules, it is really just for the sake of completeness. Such models are not cheap, but again it would cost me a lot more to start over again in 15mm.

For the Germans, I may need to get some more infantry but as I put fewer models on a base (as each infantryman was armed to the teeth when compared to his Russian opponent), there are not a lot I need.

So basically, I realized that despite the attractions of the scale, it would be rash for me to start all over again in 15's.  In fact, I've actually got more than I need of some models in 1/76, but I'll probably eBay any extras along with what few 15's I have.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Almost one year to the day...

...that I posted on this blog! Like a lot of wargamers I float from one project to another with a moth-like lack of discipline, but I usually come back to WW2 and the Great Patriotic War sooner or later.

The big news it that I've got my first batch of
15mm Flames of War miniatures.

Foolish, seeing that I have a lot invested in 20mm? Possibly, but there are some factors at work here which are making me consider an alternate scale.

a) First of all, storage and table space. 15mm models take up a
lot less room than their 20mm brethren. This has really become an issue for me, as my table space is really limited, at most 6' by 4'.

b) Secondly, potential convenience. Some people out there seem to loath the Battlefront/ FoW business model, but the truth is it can be a real hassle trying to gather a collection of miniatures together from a number of disparate manufacturers.

Not all are of consistent quality or offer anything like the completeness of the range that Battlefront offers. Battlefront do just about everything a gamer needs, are readily available from any number of sources, and the chances even in Japan of finding opponents who have their own armies ready and based for FoW is much more likely than in other scales.

c) Thirdly, cost performance. I have a lot of 20mm infantry and the major tanks but not enough artillery and other support vehicles. The major vehicles are pretty well generally available in plastic at reasonable prices for their size, but the more obscure stuff is only available in resin or metal. And the price can be hefty, especially if like me someone wants to get in some artillery batteries and tractors.

The postage on the heavier metal models can also add up, especially when sent to Japan from the UK. Add to that the time it takes to put some of these models together (and in some cases to remedy sometimes major casting defects. poor fit of parts, or assembling seemingly endless road wheel or track units), and the simplicity of models in the smaller 15mm scale can start looking
really attractive.

d) Last but by no means least, a very important consideration at the present time is the
extremely favourable exchange rate for me
vis-a-vis the NZ dollar and the Japanese yen, which with all the above helps to make a very strong case for taking the Battlefront route.

So I'll give these a shot. I now have a company of Russki infantry with a
Katyusha battery to put together. I can use these just as easily with either the FoW rules or with the Blitzkrieg Commander set. The caveat is whether I will enjoy working on the smaller scales. If I like working on these models, and they turn out well, I may well find myself taking the 15mm route. If not, well, I've a lot of 20mm stuff I can return to and I'd probably have no problem finding a new owner for these in Washington state, I'm sure!

I've also gone and ordered myself one of these, as I love the smell of 76.2mm gunpowder in the morning. Overkill given the number of infantry I have, but again I can always flog the painted minis off on eBay at a profit if I want to.

For the Motherland!

For Dave...