Sunday, May 31, 2009


Manning the switchboard at the Engineer command post.

The LT gets a call saying that their bulldozer has arrived at the north gate and they need to come and get it.

The Engineer platoon is busy practicing bridge construction techniques. He orders the men to stop that training and go get the bulldozer.

Engineer bridges are many small parts that go together like an Erector set. They can be strong enough for tanks to travel over.

The troops hop in their Jeeps and are ready to head out and get the bulldozer. This vehicle will give them much more ability to deploy bridges, dig defenses and make roads.
Figures are MPC ring hand figures, Jeeps by Tim Mee and accys are from Marx.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Paratroopers can add extra surprises to miniature wargames. Here is a copy of my paratrooper rules for WWII airborne drops:

Paratroopers and equipment are divided as follows, infantry squads, crew served weapons, crews, crew served weapon ammunition, radios, vehicles, commanders, and forward observers. Each of these elements drops separately, one at a time. Mark each unit on a one inch diameter piece of paper. This is the "parachute" for that unit. The paratroopers pick a drop zone from which the parachutes are dropped, from three feet high. Put the units in your hand and drop them.

The drop zone location may be adjusted when conditions are not ideal. Perfect conditions are: low altitude approach, with Pathfinders on the DZ, with no AAA fire and no wind. Paratroops dropping in rough terrain, forests, urban, etc., must roll for casualties. There is a 30% chance of being killed. Troops dropping in shallow water, swamps, creeks etc. have a 50% chance of being killed. Troops dropping in deep water, streams, rivers, oceans, etc. have a 90% chance of being killed.

0 mph no change
10 mph 10% casualities
20 mm 20% casualities
30 mph 30% casualities
40 mph no jumping

Paratroop crew served weapons are not used until the crew, the ammunition, and weapon are in the same location.

Defenders fire at paratroops
Paratroops casualties are removed
Surviving paratroops fire at defenders
Defenders casualties are removed
Defenders move up to five inches
Melees are resolved

Pathfinders land like aircrews but are armed with any weapon that is not crew served. It takes one Pathfinder to illuminate the drop zone for every platoon of paratroopers or vehicles. Pathfinders are only good for one platoon of troops because they expend their smoke grenades or flares to illuminate the drop zone.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Missile Recovery

The missile recovery team moves downrange to collect the missile. Missiles are expensive and are often recovered to fire again and again.

The team carefully picks up the missile and places it back onto the recovery vehicle.

Once the missile has been recovered, it will be inspected carefully to see if any information can be gained from the condition of the missile.

With the fuel gone, the missile does not weigh much and can be easily be moved by only a few men.

Troops and missile are loaded onto the recovery vehicles and head back to base.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wargame Army

Collecting a 20th Century wargame army requires significant planning and research. Simply going out and buying a few vehicles and troops that look nice will never do. I recommend that you obtain a couple books on a particular battle that you like. I like the Battle of Berlin. Get a book that explains the overall battle, then get one that gives the viewpoint of someone who was actually there, two books, one from each side.

Once you have an understanding of the strategic and individual natures of the battle, get a book that explains the role played by specific units. Recently I finished a book about a unit of French SS soldiers in Berlin. Next, determine the size of the playing area you will be able to use in your wargames. The next step is to determine the size of units that will fit on your table. Finally, select the wargame rules you want to use. Different rules require different ratios of models to real life.

Once you have selected the type of units, then you can visit your hobby shop and start buying figures, terrain and vehicles. Buy infantry first. You can always play a small game with a few dozen infantry and a couple vehicles, using boxes as buildings. Planning a wargame army takes a little time, but pays off with a better collection and better games.


The missile is away in a flash. It flies an incredible seventeen feet! An astonishing achievement.

The General looks on with pride as the missile is launched. A successful test like this will insure funding for years to come. High praise around for all concerned. A proud day for the American Military Industrial Complex.

The ground support vehicles are nearby to register the data and interpret the launch information.

Launches like this are all about collecting the data, it will be under analysis for years to come. Each tiny morsel chewed over by specialists to insure the maximum range and effectiveness is ground out of this weapons system. Constant vigilance is the price for freedom from Communist oppression.

Even the Hydrographic Survey Team took a moment from their important work to view the launch. A weasel tows a new cannon that will also be on display today. New military machines to take the place of human soldiers. Force multipliers to make up for the human waves favored by the godless enemies of the West.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Bir Hakeim was a battle in North Africa in 1942 between Free French Forces and German and Italian troops.

These are master figures from Odemars. They make 1/72nd scale soft plastic figures.

Sculptors start with a wire armature and use various types of clay to sculpt the figures. Sometimes figures are sculpted in the same size as the final figure and sometimes they are sculpted larger, for greater detail, and the pantographed down to the smaller size.

These are pretty early in the sculpting process, the wire armature is still visible at the feet of the figures.

This figure set is still a long way from completion, there will probably be fourteen poses in the set if it follows the usual patter from Odemars. It could be as long as a few years before the set is ready. It looks like it could be the best set ever from Odemars. Check out their website and their unique line of figures.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Footprints and Missle Testing

On the far side of the stream there are strange foot prints in the sand. Deep prints that indicate a heavy animal has walked this way, and recently.

The footprints look like those of a Puma or Mountain Lion. Sometimes one of them will come down from the hills and drink or feed on the other smaller animals that use the stream for water. Every few years a couple cattle will fall prey to a Mountain Lion, but the ranchers do a good job of keeping them under control. It is a mystery, the Puma does not usually get this large. Now time for this now, there is other work to do.

Vice-President Nixon and his entourage move up stream to the rocket testing site. Today a new air to air missile will be tested for the first time. It is simply a chance to fire it off, there is no expectation that it will be fired at a target. It is a simple launch and flight test.

The dignitaries and Secret Service protection team prepare for the launch. A tank sits nearby. It has been travelling with the missile for added security will remain until the missile launch testing is over. The Reds can be trusted to do the unexpected and so security is always paramount.

A close up of the missile, it's launch mechanism pulled tight and ready for the launch. This is a moment that everyone has been waiting to see!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

OD Paint

Steven Zagola wrote the definitive article on US Army olive drab paint. The article is old, but the information is still very relevant. There are several important points that he makes in this article. Olive drab has been slightly different colors over the course of the 20th Century. During the course of World War Two, the color did vary a little bit, but was remarkably constant.
There is also something called scale effect. It causes small objects painted in the same color as a large object to look darker than the large object. That means that when you use the exact color as the real vehicle the model will still look wrong! So you have to use a lighter color or lighten the original paint a bit.
Wear, sunlight, dirt, dust, and different batches will make the paint look different. Even different times of day or damp or wet paint will look different. Due to all these variations, I just paint my vehicles in whatever looks right to me. I don't enter my models in IMPS contests so I only have to please myself.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

60mm Marsh

The stream flows into the marsh. The vegetation gets thicker and thicker as you go deeper into the marsh.

The scientists use the rafts to move around the stream and the marsh.

In this part of the stream, the water is wide, deep and slow moving. The water is still pretty clear and you can look closely and see the bottom.

Vice-President Nixon is impressed with the small armada of rubber rafts used for research. The General explains the use of the rafts and the value of using these craft over rigid boats.

The Professor sees an animal in the marsh, but can't quite make it out...

Paint Brushes

Brushes are an important part of the hobby and I use a bunch of different ones. I have big fluffy make up brushes that my wife gets. She does not use them all, they come in sets of make up, and so I appropriate them and use them to dust off models. They are very soft and fluffy and generally won't knock off fragile parts.

I use ultra cheapo brushes that I get at dollar stores. I use them to apply glue, and sometimes to do harsh paint jobs. Some camouflages require that I really press down of the brush and rather than ruin a good one, I will use a crappy brush that I can just toss out. I have found them for as little as a dozen for a dollar. I like the nylon ones because nylon cheap brushes don't shed. In fact, the last time I got cheap brushes, I went to a teacher supply shop and got a big box for only a few dollars. About eight cents each!

Dollar stores also sell regular paint brushes, that you might use to paint a house. I always keep a few of those handy too. Some projects require large areas, usually terrain, to be painted and they work well. Again, they are cheap enough you can just toss them out when you are done.

Friday, May 22, 2009

60mm Find

I was shopping on eBay recently and purchased a set of MPC figures that is probably at least 40 years old. In fact, I think I may have had this set as a kid.

Good box art really helps to sell a hobby product to me. I find myself inspired by the drawings of missiles launching, troops charging, Jeeps Jeeping.

The scenarios that pop into my head as soon as I see this drawing of a tank and a few troops. I imagine myself doing this set up on my wargame table, my patio, in the back yard.

This particular set even comes with an exploding bridge. The play value in really minimal on an exploding bridge, but the imagination that plays the explosion over and over is much better.

This MPC set came with tanks, Jeeps, APCs, missile launchers, truck, and various accessories. It was mostly complete and a little worn but it is a lot of fun. Look for these troops and vehicles to appear in the Atomic Testing Base series over the next few months.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Atomic Testing On a Raft

The Hydrographic Atomic Testing Team readies their gear for a special field test.

Arriving at the marsh, Vice President Nixon watches as the men begin to perform their testing. Some launch their rafts and move to the other side of the stream. Dr. Henderson accompanies the team because of the presence of a distinguished visitor.

The rafts are deployed all along the stream bed. The marsh is not too far outside the North Gate of the Atomic Testing Base. It has rained recently and the water level is pretty high.

A few last minute words of briefing and the men prepare to deploy their testing gear. The work is very sensitive and careful observations are necessary. Some of these men are wildlife experts and will survey for larger animals to determine the effects of the atomic testing on higher mammals. The marsh is home to opossum, raccoons, bobcats and even once in a while a mountain lion will come down from the hills.

The men are looking at the ground to determine if there are animal prints before they launch their boats. Any evidence of animal activity is important to make a proper survey.


The modern Peoples Liberation Army of Communist China is modernizing their military.

As China earns more money from exports they are upgrading their armed forces to be able to better protect their interests. These are the Caesar Miniatures 1/72nd scale French / PLA set.

Modern Chinese have been deployed not only along their border with Russia and India, but also in Somalia. These troops would be great for many different wargame scenarios.

The details on these figures is fantastic and the poses are great. You probably don't collect Modern Chinese, but you should start!

These are excellent figures and I know I am planning on getting a few more.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rafts and A-Bombs

The mountain lake that was the scene of a B-17 crash earlier in the year is also the source for a stream that feeds into a marsh near the North Gate of the Atomic Testing Base. This new group of scientists and technicians is surveying the stream and marsh for effects of the atomic testing on the water table.

As a former LT Commander in the US Navy, Vice-President Nixon has a keen interest in watercraft. As a Californian, he has a great interest in the outdoors and is going along today as an observer of some of this survey work.

The men pack up their gear and their rafts and rubber boats and head out to the hydrological testing site.

Some of the men will test the soils along the banks for a build up in heavy metals and radiological materials. Others will use the rafts and rubber boats to survey the deeper waters, islands and far bank of the stream.

Despite the apparent confusion, all is going well as the men load up to go to the testing site. Rafts are a low technology watercraft but all that is needed to test this most highly sophisticated of weapons fallout. No detail is too small or unimportant and the effect of atomic weapons on the water is very critical for planning an atomic war.