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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

Friday 13 April 2012

Fort Paull

A trip to Hull to visit my partner's mum over Easter didn't hold out much in the way of historical interest. However, I did manage a visit to the York model railway show and picked up some scenic bits and bobs as well as admiring the modelling skills.

Hull's latest tourist attraction is the renovated Fort Paull on the banks of the Humber Estuary. The original fort was built in 1542 and the current version in 1864 although updated for use in WW2.

A team of volunteers have done a good job with a variety of exhibits and display rooms. Well worth a visit.

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Tiger Command

I have just finished reading 'Tiger Command' by Bob Carruthers and Sinclair Mclay based on an original manuscript by Ritter von Krauss.

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This is a story about a German tank crew on the Eastern Front. They give up their Panzer IV F1 to be retrained to use the new Tiger 1. They return to the Eastern Front to avenge their comrades with the new 'super' tank. There are a number of sub-plots involving their main opponent on the Soviet side who turns out to be a renegade German.

The story is apparently based on the author's wartime experiences and it is certainly a good appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of the Tiger. The reader also gets a good understanding of the essential teamwork involved in fighting in a tank in WW2.

Perhaps not the greatest writing style, but none the less a good read. One the tankies will enjoy.

Thursday 5 April 2012


I had a very pleasant short break in Amsterdam before Easter. Not a lot of military interest and describing what there was not helped by my accidentally deleting the photos from my camera!

The best is probably the new ship museum. They have a full size replica of a Dutch East Indiaman. Very impressive, although how they accommodated a crew of 350 is a mystery to me. Inside the museum the section on the 'Golden Age' has a good collection of ship models and other items. Not a lot on naval warfare but well worth a visit.

The Amsterdam Historical Museum has a collection of weapons and armour although sadly I missed their special exhibition on trade with the Ottoman's in the Levant. That will run until August.

The Rijksmuseum is of course the must do visit in any trip to Amsterdam. I have been a couple of times before many years ago and remember the wonderful dioramas in the basement that inspired me to start renaissance wargaming using Peter Laing figures. The museum is undergoing a major refurbishment so they have moved the Old Masters and other selected exhibits to a single wing. Still worth the effort and here there was an Ottoman exhibition with a number of books and plates.

This one of the siege of Vienna was especially interesting.

There are a number of paintings and exhibits of naval warfare and the Dutch colonies. Plus one of my favourite pictures - Rembrandt's 'The Night Watch'.

Amsterdam is a lovely city, and even without much of military interest, still worth a visit.

War in the West (Axis Triumphant)

Just finished 'War in the West' by Brian Clarke. The basic premise of this alternative history is that Hitler falls ill and dies at the start of the war and is replaced by Reinhard Heydrich.

Heydrich being smarter and more rational simply doesn't make the mistakes Hitler made. Aided by some amazingly effective intelligence assets and no Ultra, he conducts an almost faultless campaign. The seizure of the Azores brings Britain to its knees and the book ends with the fall of the Soviet Union in a campaign season.

I have to say that I struggled with this book. Some parts of the conflict are dealt with in minute detail and others brushed over. I kept expecting some twist at the end when it would all go wrong for the infallible Heydrich. But it doesn't, and this is the silliest part of a very silly story. The author clearly hasn't heard of Von Moltke's maxim "No battle plan ever survived first contact with the enemy". If he had he would understand that things go wrong in war and other challenges would have caused the German's difficulties, even without Hitler's crazier interventions.

In summary this is very poor fantasy, not even alternative history. Not worth the effort or the very modest 79p it costs to download on the Kindle.

More Italian reinforcements

Flames of War army lists mean a requirement for more Italian mortars in particular. Quite enjoyed painting 15mm figures again. Forgotten how quick it can be.

These are mainly from the Peter Pig range. Bases from Warbases.