Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Star fort at Pamplona

Sorauren today

A few pics of the Sorauren battlefield as we passed thru on the way to Pamplona

this would be the right flank of the British front line although the British would be a lot higher, Imagine trying to form line going up the hill

The French left flank would be on the far hill with the British reinforcement coming from Pamplona on the right

The right hand Pass which the French came down and deployed on the left hill

Behind the British forward position the terrain is undulating and rough

Another shot of the French left flank.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

When the cats away...

Vanessa is away next weekend, so I am thinking what to do with the time. As the nights are drawing in and the weather might get colder (!) I am starting to put a little more thought into wargaming, which I struggle with during the summer months.  Thus, like the glorious 12th or debutante balls, I thought I would go with a weekend of wargaming to get the autumn/winter season started.

On Saturday, I will go to the Derby wargames show; I have my list of things to buy and collect.  Let me know if any one wants a lift over there.

On Sunday I will put on the Khalkin Gol (or Nomanhan) scenario.  I will post some more details later on in the week.  Please let me know who is up for this as I will need to amend the scenario for the number of players and also get in enough provisions for breakfast/lunch.

On Saturday night I was wondering if any one was up for a film night.  I don't always get a chance to watch a good war film and I thought a couple of choice films washed down with beer/snacks etc might be a good idea.  Is any one up for this?  I have the projector and a decent sound system and I am up for watching a few classic or never before watched films accompanied by expert opinion from the audience.  My offerings could include Downfall, Waterloo, Zulu, Letters from Iwo Jima.  Phil has mentioned an offering from his Japanese collection or may be you have a film that none of us have seen before.  Have a think and let me know.

War Of The Roses

Mark recently e mailed me a copy of the DBM army list book 4 covering medieval, crusade and renaissance periods. The original idea was maybe look at re basing my Swiss onto 30mm x 30mm bases which would mean that they could be used for DBM and POWR.

After looking at the army all nicely based up on 30 x 90mm blocks I just could not bear myself the anguish to undertake the job so they will remain like Galadriel in the West until their time comes.

This leaves me with an idea which may be possible but involves Mark.......

DBM Army Roster For WOTR

The question is do you fancy knocking together two armies (historical would be better) so we can try out DBM for this period?

You could use 25mm base sizes (which is what I am doing for my 6mm ancients) 60mm frontage per element, or if it saves on figures to build larger size forces use standard 40mm widths.

Have a think about it!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Khalkin Gol (or Nomanhan)

Jap infantry take out a Russian T26 during the Nomanhan incident.  

Next Sunday I plan to put on a Japanese v Soviet divisional level battle set in 1939.  Featuring armour and aircraft this will be a representation of several weeks fighting on the Manchurian/Russian border before WW2.

Not an awful lot is written in English about Khalkin Gol (Soviet reference) or Nomanhan (Japanese reference) but it was a major clash that heavily influenced WW2.  The Japanese were strongly committed in China and Stalin was preoccupied with the rise of Nazi Germany, but neither side could ignore their border with each other.

At this time, the Soviet Union had only existed for less than 20 years and Stalin could not forget that Japanese forces had occupied Vladivostock during the Russian Civil War.  Mongolia was a Russian satellite that bordered Manchuria and the only other country in the world at this point that had a communist government.  Stalin also saw an opportunity to influence the future direction of China with his support of Mao Tse Tung.  From the Japanese point of view, they could not forget that it was Czarist Russia that had been the first opponent of their rise to power and they had to fight the Russians before WW1 in order to take Manchuria and Korea.  The Japanese believed that in order to be a great power they had to have a large resource based Empire to defend their interests and China was the hinterland they sought to dominate; Russia was the only land based threat to this dream.

Therefore, both were committed to different theatres but could not ignore the threat from each other.  During the 1930's Japan consistently met any Soviet transgression of their borders with prompt military counter measures and the Soviets seemed to back down each time.  By 1939 the Japanese government was effectively run by the military and the Kwantung Army in Manchuria was a semi independent entity that made its own decisions about what was best for Japan.  So when a Soviet scouting force was seen to set up an outpost in disputed territory the Kwantung Army sent an entire division to teach the Russians a lesson.

Japanese troops cross the Khalkin Gol (or Nomanhan!).

Stalin had had enough of Japanese aggression and he sent Zhukov to take command of Soviet Far East forces with orders to  destroy this punitive division.

Soviet armour and commanders.  Note the camouflaged helmets and carefully dispersed tanks.  This picture looks a lot later than 1939 and gives an indication of the sophistication of Soviet technology and techniques.  

Zhukov organised the counter stroke in the typical manner in which he won all his battles against the Germans.  He contained the initial Japanese attacks whilst building up the necessary material and men.  Then using combined arms and operational surprise he overwhelmed the Kwantung Army.

Japanese prisoners following Zhukov's brilliant counter stroke.

Tokyo would not support further aggression by the Kwantung Army and agreed to a five year neutrality pact with Stalin.  As a result of this defeat, the Japanese did not exploit Russian weakness in 1941 following Hitlers invasion of the Soviet Union but attacked and expanded into South East Asia and the Pacific.  In addition, it was elite Siberian divisions that had faced the Japanese at Khalkin Gol which then turned back the German Army from the gates of Moscow in the winter of 1941/42.

Zhukov was also instrumental in the German defeat of 1941/42 but it is interesting that his operational view of war was fully developed before the Nazi invasion and it is a distinct possibility that the Soviet Union already had the capability to beat the Germans at the start of the war but that Stalin's purges and faulty political outlook led to the disasters of 1941.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Orthez 27th February 1814

French held the ridgeline to the town of Orthez, British attacked along the line.
Beresford(me) attacked the left flank at the village of Boes but got repulsed.
Wellington(Phil) attacked the main ridge and slowly pushed his way up.
Fine defence by Soult (Ian) but numbers beginning to tell.
ran out of time
Result Draw
Historically the battle played out the same way with the French right wing solid and the centre pushed in. The French withdrew east to save their army.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

I Daubed Them My Way Part II

On To Part 2.....

First things first

Paint brushes

I always use a sable brush, I have tried the pro art acrylic ones but at half price of a series 7 brush they always end up in the bin within a few weeks as the points go.

The brushes below are ones I recently picked up on Amazon. 

Winsor & Newton Series 7 Size 000 - £7 but worth it

The point makes it the ideal brush for painting 6mm

I also picked up a 00 size too for larger areas

With proper care these brushes will last a long long time 

On to the job at hand....

Paint brushes require paint and here is my collection of various pots of acrylics made up from Vallejo, P3 and Coat D Arms. I like to have a lot of colours on the shelf as it suits my style of painting.

Time to get started.... flesh first (always)

I am using Vallejo flat flesh here which I have emptied into flip top bottles as I don't like the Vallejo ones too much (they clog up and you have to dilute the paint) I have diluted the paint already which makes things easier.

Starting with the archers I apply the flesh, it's as easy as a steady hand and not applying too much paint at a time. Work along the entire strip, makes no difference if you start with hands / faces / arms.

Round the back.... repeat the process and paint the archers hands and if needed touch up the face.

Job done


Next up it's base coat time.

For the Persian Archers I have chosen two colour schemes
Licorice allsort blue and pink.

First up the blue.... Vallejo dark turquiose

Apply the paint by blocking in the colour.
Don't try and cover all the black primer, it's important to leave areas out to shade the figure...

Next - Vallejo Sunset Red

You get the picture, you can see that by leaving some of the black you get an instant shadow.
This will become more prominent later once the highlight's are applied.

Job Done

TIME TAKEN 22 mins

Next up is the painting of the bows

For this I chose Vallejo Orange Brown...

It's much quicker than the base coat and the entire strips took about 8 mins to paint.
Again leaving a black area free creates a shadow around the bow and archers hand.

Next up the legs - I just used white here and really just slapped the paint on Shaw style.
This takes no longer than a couple of minutes to do 180 legs front and back.

Time to paint the Quiver - P3 Rucksack Tan is the preferred colour here

Job Done


The figures are starting to take shape now and it's time to add the magic touches.
Whilst the figures don't look bad there's a few finishing touches which need applying...

I read a lot of posts about painting 6mm and it seems that people prefer to just apply base colours and be done with it. For me adding a highlight is an essential part of the painting process and the end result just looks 100% better with the lighter tone applied.

Highlight 1 - Elton Pink

This process is actually faster than it looks, a simple dab on the torso followed by a few brush strokes on the arms and the highlight is done.

You can see the difference in effect between the base coat and highlight

On the rear just a simple dab on the hoods brings out the colours nicely

And for the blue......

Same process different colour, here they all are highlighted. The black primer now starts to work with the highlight and really brings out the depth in colour.

They do look bright but for me that's the idea. Using dramatic colour tones in the base coat and highlight makes the figures stand out on the table. 

To highlight or not?

Your call but for an extra 26 minutes total for all 90 figures I think it is worth the extra time!

Vallejo flat red - arrow tips
Using the 000 brush here to just apply a very small amount of red paint to the arrow tips...

P3 bright green for arrow tips on the pink figures.

All done and dusted, the arrows took about 3 minutes to paint in

Final paint job - the bases

As I am using Coat D Arms Brushscape for my Persian bases I want a close match with the model base so for this lot I am using Vallejo Buff.

This is perhaps the most boring part of the entire job, with the models all painted the application of the paint to the bases is a tad tedious but nonetheless necessary.

A good 20 minutes later and presto

These are now all painted and ready for a coat of matt varnish

This is only half the job and I'll post photos of the Sparabara front rank figures once they are done.


TOTAL PAINT TIME = 98 MINS for 90 Figures

The finishing touch....

I discovered this artist varnish a few Years ago and have never looked back.

It retails at just under £6 and goes a very long way.

This really is the gemstone and really brings the colours to life on the finished models.

I highly recommend this stuff, yes it's a bit smelly and you need to thin it down with white spirit but it really does lift the finished paint job to a higher level.

£1 brushes have their use!

Shake the bottle very well to mix the varnish

You don't need much, I tend to dip the brush in and use the lid as a palette.
I tend to thin it down 50/50 with white spirit. It won't work as well if you use the stuff neat out the bottle.

Coat the models and don't be too conservative, it's imprtant to give a good coat of varnish.

It looks like there is a lot of varnish here but you just work it in and use a piece ok kitchen paper to mop up the excess varnish.

Try not to let the stuff pool as it needs to be applied thinly and evenly across the models

The varnish dries in about 10-15 minutes and you can see the finished results below.

Photo's don't always do justice but the varnished models are noticeably more "vibrant" than they were prior to the application.

Finished models ready to base!

You can add a few minutes for the varnishing but it's hardly worth worrying about.

With 55 minutes prep time from part one and a further 98 minutes for half the total of 180 figures we can summarise with a total time of  251 minutes for the whole painting job or  4.183 hours

I just doubled the archer paint time to get to this result, the Sparabara are actually looking like they will paint up faster.

That's it for this part, I hope that you may find something useful here that may either inspire you or help improve your current painting approach to 6mm figures. For me personally I want to get my figures on the table as quickly as possible but without too much compromise. The techniques used herein allow you to achieve "the best of both worlds"

Summary of handy tips.....

  • Remember that by using a black primer you are making life easier. Whilst grey and white primers offer a brighter surface for your paint, you cannot use this method and it will take you longer to paint the figures.
  • Preparation is key to a good finish.
  • Don't try and cover areas of the model with paint, leave enough black primer for shading.
  • Thin down your paint, if it's too thick it will clog up detail.
  • Always highlight!, it is definitely worth the extra time.
  • Use a sable brush - preferably "Kolinsky" sable
  • Use artist matt varnish for that "special" finishing touch.

I'll be covering basing these models in part three which is the final stage of getting these figures ready for use. I have ordered my steel bases but they may take up to a Month to arrive so watch this space.