Welcome to my blog!

News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
or on Mastodon @balkandave@mastodon.scot, or Threads @davewatson1683

Monday 23 January 2012

Fiat CR.42

New addition to the Italian forces for the Mediterranean campaigns is a flight of Fiat CR.42 aircraft. Also useful for the Spanish Civil War as it looks similar to the earlier CR.32, the mainstay of the Nationalist air force.

The models are from the Flames of War range and are 1/144 scale, slightly smaller than the ground forces. I was delighted when these came out, as I struggled to find this aircraft in model form at a scale suitable for use with 15mm figures. While it is a bit fiddly and delicate, that is probably inevitable with biplanes using struts.

Unlike the models the earlier CR.32 was a very robust aircraft, well suited for flying in Spain off semi-prepared airfields. Being made of wood, it was also easier to repair than the more modern I-16 or Bf 109s. Some 225 aircraft were operational at the end of the conflict and some 50 of these were rebuilt using scrapped components. The Osprey Fiat CR.32 Aces of the Spanish Civil War tells the full story.

The CR.42 Falco (Falcon) entered service in May 1939. By the end of the war some 1800 were built and it also saw service in the Hungarian, Belgium and Swedish air forces. It fought in all the Mediterranean campaigns and although obsolete, it performed well due to its impressive manoeuvrability. More details of the plane in the Balkans can be found in Christopher Shores book Air War for Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete 1940-41.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

VBCW - Flags and Facists

The Clydeside Brigade is looking good with the latest arrivals adding to their strength. Fascists beware! However, something was missing - flags.

In steps Iain, a new club member at GDWS who runs Flags of War a supplier of 28mm wargames flags. As you can see below the Clydeside Brigade now has it's very own flag and company level ones as well. Many thanks Iain!

I don't claim any objectivity when it comes to the 1930's, hence my choice of unit. However, they need someone to fight other than the Scottish Government forces. So Moseley's British Union of Fascists have crossed the border. Lets hope my red dice roll well!

Monday 16 January 2012

The Afrika Reich

The Afrika Reich
Just finished my first Kindle book, Afrika Reich by Guy Saville. I didn't think I would like an electronic book reader, but I was wrong. Love having a huge library at my fingertips to download in seconds. It won't replace reference books, but I anticipate using it for most of my fiction reading.
Anyway, Afrika Reich is a bit of post WW2 alternative history. Britain made peace with Hitler after Dunkirk and the subsequent treaty gave Germany its pre-WW1 colonies back. They took over the former French and Belgium ones as well. They exploited the continent and the SS applied an African version of Lebensraum.

The book is really a thriller with a former soldier and mercenary hired to assassinate the SS commander in the German Congo. Plenty of twists and turns and fast paced action as they are chased across Africa by the SS after the assassination goes wrong.

It would make an interesting idea for a wargames campaign with an updated Afrika Korps and 8th Army fighting it out in Rhodesia and South Africa. Stop me now!

Sunday 15 January 2012

1812: Alternative history

This weekend was was our annual Double Header at GDWS. An opportunity to play big games that take too long to fit into the normal Sunday afternoon session.

My contribution was an alternative 1812 scenario as this is the 200th anniversary of Napoleon's invasion of Russia. As Napoleon started his advance the allies put together a coalition of British, Ottoman and Russian troops that advanced through the Balkans into the Ukraine to threaten Napoleons right flank.

The rules were Principles of War Napoleonic in 15mm. The allied force consisted of an Ottoman 'Corps' of 2 horse and 3 foot commands; A British Corps of 3 Infantry and 2 cavalry divisions; and a Russian Corps of the same size. Plus an advance guard of Tartars. Napoleon sent a blocking force of the Austrian detached Corps; a Saxon and a Polish corps together with a cavalry corps.

It will be obvious that these armies are strong in cavalry. That was intentional, as the plan was to force a major cavalry battle on the Saturday with the infantry arriving on the Sunday. It all worked out to plan with a huge swirling cavalry clash, narrowly won by the Allies. However, the infantry couldn't exploit the victory on Sunday with the 'French' hanging on, blocking the exits to Napoleon's line of march.  

Really fun game with lots of interest through some 13 hours of gaming.

Other games organised during the weekend included Sudan in 28mm, Eastern Front WW2 in 20mm, Boer War in 6mm and a FoG competition in the Biblical period.

Hungarian Army 1848-1849

This is a new booklet from Partizan Press on the Hungarian Army during the year of revolutions as it sought to break away from the Hapsburg Empire. Written by Ralph Weaver, the Secretary and driving force behind the Continental Wars Society and their very useful newsletter The Foreign Correspondent.

There is a very short introduction to the uprising before we get into the meat of the work, the Organisation, equipment and uniforms of the Hungarian army. The key elements included the National Guard, the national army or Honved, the regular army units that came over to the uprising and finally, the irregular and foreign units. Each section describes the organisation and uniforms with line drawings supplement by Ron Poulter's fine colour plates.

I saw some excellent paintings of this army in Budapest last year.

This army, with its colourful uniforms just cries out to be modelled on the wargames table. I have the Austrian army of the period,  so I need to think about the Hungarians. The regular army is simple enough because they started the conflict with the Austrian uniform, so it just needs some colour changes. For the Honved, I think some Italian uniforms of the period might be capable of conversion as could some ACW figures. Plenty of Hussars and the foreign legions generally follow their home nation uniforms. So it might not be too difficult after all. Put it on the project list for later in the year. 

A good history of the uprising is The Lawful Revolution by Istvan Deak.

Sunday 8 January 2012

VBCW - Clydeside Brigade recruits

The New Year brings some new recruits to the Clydeside Brigade.

First we have a shipyard rifle platoon. They have taken the Covenanters as their inspiration, hence the blue bunnets.

Then we have some more workers militia.

These figures are mostly from the Musketeers Miniatures range.

Saturday 7 January 2012

VBCW - Duchess Hussars

A bit of an indulgence this but I couldn't resist these figures and A Very British Civil War was just the excuse.

May I present the Duchess of Argyll's Hussars. Historically the great lords in Scotland all had their own private army. That all came to an end with the Jacobite rebellions etc. Although there remains one legal private army in Scotland, the only one in Europe, at Blair Atholl. The Atholl Highlanders number around 100 men and are today a ceremonial tourist attraction at the estate.

Back to the VBCW. With revolutionary activity all around the great, and not so great, lords started to recruit private armies once again. The problem being manpower. The clearances and other economic change meant the landowners no longer had large numbers of tenants to call upon for military service. The Duchess of Argyll came up with a solution. She recruited her friends and their staff into an all female hussar unit. Anyway that’s my story!

The figures are from the Hinterland Miniatures range. They do a wide range of figures and support weapons on this theme. Visit the gallery section to see how collectors across the world have used these fine castings.

Seelowe Nord

My post-Xmas reading was Andy Johnson's Seelowe Nord: The Germans are Coming. This is a fictional account of the German invasion of Britain in 1940. The difference is that the author treats the landings in Kent as a diversion for the main effort on the Yorkshire coast.

He doesn't pass on the obvious challenges such an invasion would cause for the German planners. A long sea route with limited fighter air cover, while the British have the advantage of interior lines. And of course it all comes to a sticky end!
Seelowe Nord: The Germans are Coming
The author's approach is also interesting. We are given many views of the invasion from different levels in short chapters. The strategic view from Churchill and the Chief of Staffs, with Alanbrooke the key command figure. And on the German side the High Command. At the operational level we get German paras, UBoat commanders, pilots and others. For the Brits, Home Guards, naval units, resistance and later, armoured units for the counterattack.

I won't spoil the story but it is very well told, extensively researched and few distractions from the action that is relentless. I am pretty familiar with this coast having walked it, but I suspect others would benefit from a map or two. Other than that minor gripe I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I look forward to reading more from this author. 

It also caused me to look out my well thumbed copy of Peter Fleming's 1957 book Invasion 1940. A good starting point for anyone wanting to know more about the period. As a wargamer I did a campaign many years ago simulating German attacks on Scotland post invasion and this book has many possibilities for a similar campaign. The Flames of War Blitzkreig supplement has all you need. Now where are the Battlefront and Peter Pig catalogues..........

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Russo-Turkish War 1806-12

Happy new year! I suspect one prominent military history anniversary this year will be Napoleon's invasion of Russia.

Of course I am always looking for the Balkan angle and therefore I have published an introduction to the Russo-Turkish War of 1806-12 on the Balkan History website. The ending of this conflict enabled the Tsar to redeploy forces from the Balkans to face Napoleon's armies.

The Russian army in the final stages of the war was brilliantly led by Kutuzov. He defeated much larger Ottoman forces, most notably at the Battle of Ruse in June 1811. You can also see elements of the strategy he later used to defeat Napoleon during that terrible Russian winter.

I recently gamed the battle in 15mm using Principles of War rules. The Russian's formed up into two lines of Regimental squares with cavalry in reserve. The Ottoman cavalry actually managed to break some squares down during the battle, but sadly not on the tabletop.