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33LIMA last won the day on June 29 2017

33LIMA had the most liked content!

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About 33LIMA

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    Belfast, NI
  • Interests
    Military history, AFVs, infantry weapons, flight/flying, airsoft.

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  1. That has to be one of the most elegant aircraft in FE, if not in any flight sim. Something to do with the blending of bird-like, bat-like and man-made characteristics, and a reflection on the artistry of the original creator and of this new version.
  2. The Italians surely designed some stylist aircraft (and ships, and cars...!) and that Fiat's one of them. A nicely-rendered Il-2 version there, not least the cockpit. Thanks for sharing, another reason why Il-2 '46 is still THE ww2 air combat sim.
  3. ...so I'm sticking with my SSW, even if it is reportedly the angular-tired model inherited from Wings of War. Victor Yeates's descriptions of Camels being looked down on by Dolphins and Fokkers, let alone Snipes, put me right off going for one of them.
  4. Been there, done that :)
  5. Never heard of a Bristol Type 22 but Wikipedia tells me it was a never-built radial-engined Bristol F2B Fighter, with the designation later used for the Bristol Badger, a different machine that didn't fly until late 1919. The F2B would be a worthy contender. Fokker Monoplane is not much use except for beating up BEs or pushers. Provided the SSW type we are talking about is the D.III or D.IV and not the Nieuport 16 copy D.I, I would take the word of the RAF aircrew who wrote this, at the time (quoted from memory from 'The First of the Many', the story of the RAF's 'Independent Force'): It's not the Pfalz or the Fokker Scout It's the Siemens Schuckert we worry about! They do fly high, with the beaucoup speed, We can thank our stars it's the pilots they need!
  6. I find out how to avoid the Battle of Britain, during the Battle of Britain! I remember reading somewhere that you don’t remember pain. That’s maybe why I go back to playing Cliffs of Dover Blitz Edition, every so often. This mission report is from my most recent such foray…or should that be, ‘relapse’? Why do I find playing CloD painful? In short, because I’m single-player only. The longer version is that while the planes and sounds are very good indeed, the SP missions and campaigns mostly aren’t; the AI definitely isn’t; the radio traffic is overwhelmed with pointless drivel; the scale of operations is small; the command and comms menu is mostly broken; and other features like anti-aliasing and labels are badly implemented. What hurts most is how good CloD would have been, had less been broken or badly executed. If it’s like this now, after several Team Fusion upgrades, it must have been rather dire upon release. I can well understand why CloD may be dear to the hearts of the multi-player crowd. But that’s no consolation to lil’ old single-player me. Anyhow, be all that as it may… This sortie is from the RAF Redux campaign. The latter replaces the stock RAF campaign’s creative but unconvincing briefings with new backstory and briefings based on the Battle of Britain career of a real US pilot, CW ‘Red’ McColpin. The missions seem to be tweaked versions of the stock campaign’s – for example the first mission in both is an exciting take off while your airfield is being raided by a bunch of Dorniers, coming in low. The missions are scripted, not dynamic in any sense I can see, and I think play out the same each time. It’s 17th August and I’m maybe a third of the way through the campaign. This is the point the player is transferred from 607 Squadron flying Hurricanes and Tangmere - or should that be nearby Westhampnett? - to a Spitfire outfit, 602, based a lot further east, at Manston. The Redux briefing gives me a much more friendly send-off, with a feel for authentic period/RAF dialogue that’s entirely missing in the original. My old CO is flying as my number 2 on this transit flight, as he wants to speak to my new boss. In person. Bit weird, that, especially at the height of a major air battle. Like the stock mission, the briefing insists I take a longer, indirect route along the coast. This also is a bit weird, but from past plays, it seems certain triggers won’t work, if you pick a sensible cross-country route. Climbing to 20,000 feet as the briefing instructs seems designed to waste even more valuable petrol. Anyway off I go, the mission starting as usual lined up for take-off, engine running, but reflector sight needing turned on. My Hurricane has the correct codes for 607 Squadron - AF - not the ‘FC for Fat Cats’ of the stock version. Sadly, my last campaign flight in this type of aircraft uses one of the kites whose rigger has been busy with a sanding block, trying to remove the paint from all metal surfaces, sticking at it just long enough to make a mess. I think I'm Luton 1, and the boss, soon to be my ex-boss, is Luton 2, telling me he's ready to go. The radio voice procedure here seems quite authentic - it's when people start spouting guff like 'I've got your six!' - usually six or so at a time - that CloD's R/T chatter goes down the (toilet) pan. Despite being billed as Tangmere by CloD, the lack of paved runways and its location suggest this is the satellite airfield at Westhampnett. Except that this CloD version has proper hangars, which my main source ('Airfields of the Battle of Britain' by Philip Birtles) says were just 'blister' hangars in 1940, with tents being replaced by Nissen (corrugated iron) Huts for accommodation as the Battle progressed. Taking off to the south, I throttle back and orbit, for the boss is in no hurry to join me. In the pic below you can see the mission messages displayed in Redux campaign missions. How is it that we have a loss already, you may ask? Well, instead of the boss joining me, three Hurricanes approach from the coast and get in the way. The Redux mission messages display things like 'British down’, apparently triggered when the incoming Hurricanes crash one after another, for no apparent reason. The first prang presumably accounts for the read-out seen in the pic above. Later – though not seen on this play through – you may see several Wellington bombers floating past. Some or all of these too come a cropper. Again, not through enemy action I think, though it’s hard to tell. I have aircraft icons turned off in the 2d map, and it seems to ignore any effort I make to turn them back on, or display routes or anything else that you can supposedly toggle on or off. And you cannot readily turn aircraft labels on or off in the 3d world. My experience is that CloD’s general level of user-friendliness is at or around ‘cornered rat’. The next message, top centre of the pic below, seems to be the boss telling me he's had enough of this already. I'm not surprised, with kamikaze Hurricanes all around. Of maybe the Station Commander has stepped in and cancelled his 'jolly' to Manston; if so, very sensibly in my opinion. Squadron leaders should have better things to do in wartime. I get tired waiting for the boss and climb parallel to the coast but slightly inland, levelling off at about 5-6,000 feet. The more I look at this next pic, the more convinced I am that the airfield I've just left behind is Westhampnett (now Goodwood airfield and motor racing circuit) not Tangmere, the location in relation to the town which looks like Chichester being another clue. Or perhaps it IS Tangmere, minus paved runways, and Westhampnett is the grassy area visible above the roundel on my raised wing. Still climbing, I fly over what may or may not be the real Tangmere. Birtles' book says its paved runways were completed in 1939, although the location and number of hangars visible below doesn't match the book's description. After a while I see a pixelated aircraft ahead, slightly right and a bit higher. He’s flying level and away from me on a similar course. Catching up, I see it’s a Hurricane – the boss, it must be, although he’s supposed to be flying as my number 2. Besides which, didn't he tell me not ten minutes ago that he was going home? Seemingly, turning on autopilot is one way to keep things relatively sane in CloD, although while active it turns your flight sim into a movie. Before I can get close, the boss announces on the R/T that he’s spotted enemy fighters and whizzes off to the left, across my nose. Following him, I see nothing. Then looking the other way, I see two indistinct aircraft manoeuvring to my right, slightly higher and moving fast. These must be the 109s. I turn after the second one. In CloD, unlike BoB2, you have to turn on ‘complex engine management’ to get the negative-G cut-out with the British Merlins and although my Hurricane has a constant speed prop which needs less manual intervention, I’m sure I’m not making the best use of the available settings. The 109 seems to be able to run rings around me, even allowing for him being faster to begin with. The dogfight which follows sees me chasing and losing one aircraft after another, including a Hurricane at one point. It’s moderately exciting, especially when twice, a 109 on which I’m trying to get what these days would be called a firing solution turns into me and we go head on. Both times we seem sure to collide; both times I scrape by, the second time taking some hits, cannon shells to a wingtip as I later discover. In return, I manage to get hits on a 109, who trails light smoke but refuses to slow down. No matter if I cut across his corners, or his dips and climbs. And CloD’s Messerschmitts jink a lot, when chased; the rate at which they can reverse a roll seems rather high, and they don’t seem to lose much speed. Oh and don't ask why somebody is on the squadron radio net giving headings and heights, in the middle of a dogfight - I have no idea. I can’t close the range to the smoking, speeding 109, whatever he does. I try a few rather optimistic, longish-range deflection shots in an effort to slow him down, but lose him somewhere below when he turns underneath me and away. Still smoking. Still speeding. Suddenly, I get a shock. A dense stream of tracer flies over the top of my canopy. The next pic is from a different mission - when I was flying the Messerschmitt - but I've included it since it illustrates neatly what happened to me. I break hard, of course. Coming out of the turn, I can see the fight has been joined by two twin-engined Messerschmitt 110s. I turn in after the nearest one and off he goes, round and round, up and down, like a circular roller-coaster, except for the jinks. As he’s bigger and slower than a 109, I manage to stay with him, keeping an eye open for the other Messerschmitts, whom I don’t see again. I get some hits but it’s no surprise when I run out of ammo. By this time, we are a few miles inland, with low rolling hills below. I break off and dive to ground level, heading east towards Manston, dipping into valleys and over tree-covered hills, changing course every few seconds until I’m fairly sure I’m in the clear. I didn't get any pics of the 110s, but I'm sure you'll take my word for it. The next two pics are me after breaking off, legging it at low level for my new home at Manston. The 110 doesn’t come after me; I fact I don’t see him again, either. Every so often I see R/T messages displayed (which you can barely hear, even at the highest volume setting); these seem to be my boss calling out courses and heights, although he’s supposed to be flying on my wing. One of the Redux mission messages tells me I have been credited with a victory. It looks like that damaged 109 didn’t make it, although he was whizzing all over the place quite merrily, the last time I saw him. Feeling more confident, I climb to a few thousand feet and adjust my course the better to reach Manston. It’s about this time I notice the holes in my port wingtip. Everything seems to be working normally and I throttle back to cruising speed or thereabouts. From higher up I can see further and orient myself a bit better. Which is just as well as I can’t seem to turn on icons or courses on the mini-map, even before the mission. Manston is practically on the east coast, on a headland at the southern end of the Thames Estuary. So it’s a long and rather dull cross-country flight from here on in. I relieve the boredom using time acceleration, until I reach Canterbury, at which point I drop back into sight-seeing mode - note the town's cathedral. One sight I don’t see is the boss. Losing height, I come in south of Manston’s grass east-west landing strip and see an aircraft slipping in from the opposite direction, off to my nose to the left. Looks like the boss, joining the circuit. I request permission to land – one of the few comms menu options which actually works – and am denied. I decide to mis-hear this – the circuit is not exactly busy. At about this point, I get a sim text warning that I have a hydraulic failure. This seems a bit steep, as I have no visible damage other than in my left wingtip. I make a curved approach to land from east to west but it's now no surprise that I can’t lower either flaps or undercarriage. I think that there is a key to drop the gear manually, like in BoB2, but I can’t recall (a) what it is and (b) whether I set it in the options menu – you have to set just about everything here, for anything to work. More of that cornered rat user-friendliness. Consequently, my arrival at my new base is a bit undignified. Just to rub it in, the boss comes in from the opposite direction and makes a perfect landing, as I sit there, surveying the damage. Happily I have slid off to one side of the grass landing strip and he passes me by without adding to the wreckage. Just before he had done so, I had noticed the Ack Ack gun near the end of the runway, firing. That reminded me that I had, shortly before, heard a report of Dorniers. Scanning the skies now from my cockpit, I can see neither aircraft nor Ack Ack bursts, and the shooting from that gun up ahead seems to have stopped. False alarm? Meantime, a game message has told me that I have completed the mission – the sole objective was to reach Manston – so I let it go at that. The statistical debriefing - which seems to cover all casualties during the mission - records several Hurricanes and Wellingtons lost, few if any due to enemy action, as far as I could make out. It also confirms my Messerschmitt was shot down. So it wasn’t all bad. But it felt a bit incoherent and aimless on the one hand, and scripted - positively on rails - on the other, with those 109s and 110s serving no other purpose than to entertain me en route. Provided I too stayed on the appointed rails. In real life, at this point in the Battle, the Luftwaffe was using every opportunity to hammer RAF airbases, not sending pairs of fighters over the Channel at low-ish level. Any fighters who were on their way home would not have been flying in pairs if they could possibly have avoided it, and would not likely have stayed to mix it with an RAF fighter they weren't able to hit-and-run. The RAF Redux campaign conveys some sense of the real battle via debrief text panels which quote Churchill and/or sum up the day’s operations, though for all I have seen so far, I might as well be reading the newspapers from somewhere well away from the action. There’s a few mission sets available over at the ATAG forums which may do better in creating a better sense of scale; perhaps some RAF Redux missions do so too, we shall see. But not just yet. I knew before I bought it that CloD wasn’t rated highly as a sim for Single Player. Now I know why. As a collection of nice WW2 planes with a limited air combat experience and a suitable map thrown in, it was perhaps worth the bargain bin price I paid for it - despite the painful reminder of what it could have been, every time I dip back in. As another player observed, Team Fusion’s plans – adding a Mediterranean theatre and aircraft – seem primarily designed – reasonably enough - to enhance the likely already-very-good Multi-Player experience. It remains to be seen, though, if CloD’s SP will ever get much better. For my own part, I’m ready for some pain relief – it’s back to my RAF ‘commander’ campaign in Battle of Britain II - Wings of Victory - the pic below showing my most recent mission, which was also in a 607 Squadron Hurricane, but against a proper raid - and that's just the bombers which you can see...
  7. Cold War in miniature

    Thanks - definitely worth watching!
  8. Cold War in miniature

    Is there a missing link at the end there BCC?
  9. Cold War in miniature

    This looks interesting, the scale of the miniatures being 1/100 - seems to have started with WW2 but has expended into 'Tanks - the modern age' as well: https://tanks.gf9games.com/HowToPlay.aspx The 'Bolt Action' WW2 system seems popular these days in the UK, using a fairly massive 1/56 scale. Even the former needs too much space for me and the battles are too small scale. For me it's 1/300 or 1/285 for a respectable size of battle on an acceptable size of battlefield. I wish Wargame: European Escalation's single player had been less locked down, or even included a random battle generator or mission builder - it'd be the ideal PC platform for what I wanted from my 1/300 miniatures. As it stands the stock campaign battles become God view clickfests so you can't spend time using more realistic views or taking time planning your orders. While the limitations on force make-up prevent you choosing your own troops, so as to get a realistically balanced all-arms team sufficiently strong for the mission you're given. Plus those fenced-in depots scattered over the landscape look awful. Still, at it's best, it's pretty good, and no painting or modelling skills are required :)
  10. Cold War in miniature

    Life before Combat Mission, Graviteam Tactics and Wargame: European Escalation (to name just a few) We really are spoiled, these days. In whatever fashion, in whatever period or part of the world and with whatever weapons we like to create virtual mayhem, there's at least one combat simulation product for us. I like aircraft and tank combat sims, primarily. I'm not a fan of so-called Real Time Strategy games and have only ever bought a few PC wargames - those from the second two titles in the title, if you get my meaning. RTS I don't like mainly because of the pervasive God view and the small scale. The wargames I like much better; although I dislike those ones that simulate wargaming, rather than war. Which brings me to the subject of this piece, not so much a mission report but a bit of admittedly self-indulgent reminiscing about two battles fought with 1/300 'micro armour' on the desk of a former home on summer days long gone now, what seems a lifetime ago. Wargaming I dabbled with most of my adolescent life. In sixth form, I was part of a foursome (yes John H, John W and Mervyn, if any of you are reading this) who arranged to fight an imaginary world war, in a world of our own devising where we each ruled an island country. This was based mainly on rules designed for naval warfare, from this schoolmate's 1960s book (which I stumbled across and picked up a couple of years ago in an Oxfam second hand bookshop): World War 2 was our chosen period. I obtained some Tri-ang Minic diecast warships and made some flat balsa representational hulls to flesh out my fleet. I think I still have a school jotter filled with the movement, spotting, gunnery and damage tables I laboriously copied from the book. Sadly, we never got around to playing the wargame - not the last time such an enterprise foundered, as it happened. One conclusion I quickly reached - this would be about 1970 - was that the ideal was a wargame with what would today be called an artificial intelligence foe. One you could play against entirely in your own time, without reliance on anyone else. Fast forward to the 1980s. Another joint enterprise wargame with a work colleague (Ray) had fallen flat. This was to have been Ardennes 1944 and I acquired quite a set of 1/76 kits to represent a Panther tank company (improved Matchbox models, mainly) with various supporting weapons and a Panzergrenadier company in Sdkfz 251 half-tracks made from card. The latter were based on cut-out 1/144 scale precoloured card models bought and built en masse for an earlier 'dabble'. I still have a box jammed full of the 1/72 stuff. I converted some models for my work colleague enemy, including a pair of M18 Hellcats from Matchbox M24 Chaffees, whose fate is unknown. The failure of this not inconsiderable effort finally convinced me that I was right to have doubts about 1/76 being too big a scale for a decent company-sized wargame. And again, that the ideal was a non-human opponent, at my beck and call. Fast forward a bit more to the early 1990s and the interest arose again. This time, I wanted to fight the Cold War and quickly settled on 1/300 as the scale for miniatures (card or board wargames never crossed my mind - sorry, Avalon Hill). This was a scale I had dabbled with in my schooldays, having discovered a unique shop, Model Figures and Hobbies, who sold me a set of rules and a small selection of WW2 cast metal tanks - all of which I still have. Suitable rules were again sought. I discounted the Challenger set as too complex, with their long multi-part movement and firing sequences. Instead, I went for the Wargames Research Group's rules. At the time, the WRG had recently revised their WW2 set to operate much less like a chess game wit tank models, and much more like an exercise in the sort of command and control I had become acquainted with in my days as a part-time Army Officer. Here was a wargame which simulated war, not wargaming! Their cold war era rules had not been so updated, but I decided to use the WW2 rules with appropriate elements - like vehicle and weapon characteristics - from the WRG's modern ones (which were later updated, but too late for me) A Challenger -based set of Modern Army Lists, and other sources, provided suitable details on unit composition. My 'procurement department' also sought out suitable suppliers of weapons. I wanted current Warsaw Pact (Soviet, basically) versus current US or British Army. That meant about a battalion-sized force for the former, as attackers, and a company group for each of the latter, as defenders. For the Soviets, I decided to go for T72s, with BMPs (rather than wheeled BTRs) for the Motor Rifle people. These were the days when it was only just becoming clear what the difference was between the T-64, T-72 and T-80 let alone variants thereof. I started with 1/300 T72s from Davco but even tidied up, these were a bit crude. The 1/285 models from US maker GHQ were vastly better but to costly for my desired force sizes, so I opted for the nearly-as-good 1/300 (actually nearer 1/285) T72M1 from Scottish maker Scotia Micro Models, whom I was pleased to find are very much still in business. My BMPs ended up as a company of Davco BMP-1s (sold as BMP-2s, but actually more like BMP1s with a tube-mounted Spandrel ATGW atop the small turret instead of a Sagger on the gun tube) and two companies of more realistic Scotia BMP-2s. I modified the Davco BMPs to BMP-1 standard by cutting off the Spandrels and reducing the gun barrel length. For NATO, I obtained a tank squadron/company of M60A3s and M113s for the US Army, and the same again in Chieftains and FV432 APCs for the British. The US models were all Skytrex, the lBritish Davco Chieftains with the rest mostly Skytrex, the latter's 432s in particular being fine castings, available with different exhaust systems and with or without the Peak GPMG or 30mm Rarden turrets, plus variants like mortar and ATGW carriers. Both sides were filled out with a battery or more of SP artillery, mainly SO-122s with some SO-152s for the Soviets and M109A1s for NATO. Support vehicles included some soft-skins ranging from Hummers, UAZ 469 jeeps and Landrovers to trucks like Urals and Bedford 4-toners, and armoured vehicles like M901 TOW ATGW launchers, M163 SP Vulcans and ZSU 23-4 Shilkas for air defence, plus MTLBs and the like. This was topped off by some specialised stuff like a tank-based bridgelayer for each side and even an odd Soviet BTM fulyl-tracked trench digger. The variety of vehicles available was, and possibly still is, huge, and enables quite impressive and realistic units to be built up at reasonable cost. I added a platoon of Leopard 1A4s which, when paired with the M113s, meant I could have a Canadian Army company combat team. The inspiration for that was this excellent book by ex-tankie Kenneth Macksey, which started life as a training publication apparently, to put the real training into a dramatic context for officers and NCOs - essential reading and a lot more realistic than 'Team Yankee', IMHO: A platoon of M1 Abrams and a troop of Challengers, plus some Bradley IFVs, provided the ability to get some variation in their respective sides. Cast 1/300 figures for each army were painted up and glued on tiny green flock-covered based three or four at a time to simulate fire teams. Sut off at the waist, and wth a trench of plasticine, produced dug in variants, including platoon anti-tank weapons. For a battlefield, I decided to 'go desktop'. In those days, that meant a real desk, of course. This in turn meant a considerably-reduced ground scale, although I stuck with 'one miniature = one vehicle' - hence somewhat condensed formations, to put it mildly. Later, a bigger desk eased this effect a little. Everything had to be capable of being rolled out and packed away after a day or to, not left in situ. So I ended up using a model railway grass mat as a base - basically, a large, rolled-up brown paper sheet with green flock stuck to one side. Hills were formed by making lots of contour shapes cut from cheap black vinyl floor tiles, then sticking grass mat pieces to tops, folded around their sides. Laid on top of one another in variable configurations, this enabled limited hills to be formed. Their steps didn't look too bad and enabled easy calculation of when a tank was hull down. Woods were formed by grassmat-covered plasticard hexes onto which lichen 'trees' were glued. Like the hill contour sections, these could be put together in various ways to give different layouts. Buildings came from a cheap but effective range of cut-out coloured card building kits specially designed for NW Europe in that scale. These came with bases on which was a destroyed version of the building, with the remains of its walls. Onto this, the assembled building was pushed. I ended up mounting many of these on bigger bases, made up to simulate their gardens. Hedges were made from green-painted pipecleaners. These started freestanding, but I ended up making separate fields - plasticard sheet topped with grassmat dabbed with brown or sand to make them stand out from pure grassland, and edged with the pipecleaner hedges. The lichen tree hexagons were supplemented by conifers made for model railways, cut down as needed. Roads started as strips of black Velcro which adhered lightly when set on grassmat, but ended up as grey-painted card with some Velcro below. Smokescreens were made in a fan-shape sized to match the specification in the rules. These consisted of cotton wool stuck to transparent wedges of polythene, which followed contours reasonably well when laid out. Cotton wool blobs painted orange at their base and dark grey above provided knocked out vehicle markers, and something similar for artillery strike markers. I also made some Hinds, MiG-27s and Apaches as plasticard 'flats', mounted on fusewire bases of various heights. For the AI enemy, I got a copy of this WRG book: This got me so far, but was still the main inspiration for a home made system for an AI opponent. This system involved drawing a playing card (the system behind the Sea Battles book) and looking that up in a table, every time my advancing (usually, Red Army) battalion group's point force - perhaps led by BRDMs or BMP-Rs - got within a given weapon range of a feature which could be a possible dedender's location - for example a copse, a village, or a hill feature. The table when consulted listed the defending units to be placed there, according to further card draws. The process started when my troops got within ATGW range (the longest for direct fire weapons) and if no ATGWs were drawn, repeated when within tank gun range and so on down to small arms range. You might end up with nothing, or a complete all-arms force, on any given position. After that, fixed rules with a dice throw determined the enemy action. That sort of thing. Not as complicated as it may sound, and imperfect, but playable. These first pics are from a battle on my first, very small desk, with early terrain models. The first, blurry pic, like all the others which follows, was likely taken with a Praktica BX20 35mm SLR with a 35-70 zoom. Note the early, pipecleaner hedgerows without field bases, the hex-based trees, the card buildings and the contour hills. As far as the action is concerned, a platoon of hull-down Skytrex M60A3s has been knocked out towards the bottom left. Bottom centre, a Scotia T-72 platoon is followed by a BMP as it heads into the village. Hard to see what the other vehicles are in this pic, but on the centre right, many are burning. This closer view focuses (depth of field permitting!) on the T-72 left plank platoon. To its right, another T72 platoon, less one tank, presses on past knocked out M113s and M901s. Just ahead of the Soviets are some entrenched US Army infantry, by a road. It's hard to make out what's happening on my (Soviet) right flank but it looks like we are pressing ahead amidst a litter of knocked-out AFVs (the rolled-over M113s signify I had run out of KO'ed vehicle markers!). Top left edge are some M125 (M113-based) SP 81mm mortars and to their right, an M577 armoured command vehicle, all of which are about to hit serious trouble, unless they bug out. This is the view from behind and above the burning M60A3s. To their left on the ridgeline looks to be an M901 ITV, near those conifers. There's an M163 tracked Vulcan next to the two M125s. The BMPs are the Davco inaccurate BMP-2s modified by me to BMP-1 standard. Can't recall how that battle turned out, but I think it's safe to say the Red Army of Peasants and Workers came out on top! A little latter, and the desk is bigger. The hedges are now mostly mounted on pre-made fields, the roads are still Velcro and the Davco BMP-1s have mostly been replaced by Scotia BMP-2s. In the foreground, there's a forward observer for the guns in an MTLB-U in the lee of a house; with him is a field ambulance (!) and a couple of Ural or GAZ trucks. Centre right, a 4-tank T-72 platoon leads a BMP-2 company in the advance to contact. To their right, in the Soviet centre, a similar force has crested a hill and is about to enter a built-up area. The forward observer has called in smoke screens to hide the attacking force from likely enemy positions on the higher ground on the far side of the village. To this will soon be added a barrage from the SO-122 SP howitzers, in close support as per Soviet practice, and just visible on the centre right edge of this picture. A pair of MiG-27s flash overhead, more for effect than anything else. This is the view from the other side of the battlefield, a little later. Some BRDM-2 armoured cars watch my open flank from behind a hedgerow. The T-72s have halted to shoot the BMPs onto the ridgeline objective, onto which artillery fire is now falling. The defenders have been seen to comprise dug-in infantry and their M113 APCs. supported by M60A3s. And we're back to the other flank for this last shot. It was possible to get decent results with a bit of weathering and highlighting on these little models. I remember the Scotia T-72s had rather flat turrets so I raised these a bit with a small disc of plasticard underneath. A little bit of filing and sanding tidied up side skirts so the end result was nearly as good as the pricier GHQ models, the few I had of these being reserved for battalion commanders - rank having its privileges, as they say. All of this stuff, and my very first WW2 micro-armour from the late 1960s, still resides in a box in my loft. Will it ever again see action? Possibly not. But it does have the considerable attraction of being tactile in a way a PC game will never be. And it can reproduce the battles, time periods and armies I choose, not those chosen for me by PC game designers. Wargaming with miniatures is enjoying something of a resurgence, although the preferred scale seems to be closer to 1/72 (which models I also still have from my last outing!), though now in resin or plastic. The resulting small-scale section or platoon-level actions appeal less to me than the battalion to company sized ones possible with 1/300 (even if at the cost of compression from a smaller ground scale). So perhaps, one day, a room at home will reverberate to the imaginary din of a desk or table top battle!
  11. The 'ensign eliminator'... ...eliminating other people's ensigns...
  12. 'Da, it's the Grand Canyon, Comrades. We're definitely lost.'

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