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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

Sunday 27 October 2013

Flames of War - Malaya

I eventually got some of the recent painting on the table today with a Malaya game using Flames of War rules.

A Japanese tank platoon of five Type 95's with infantry support on both flanks, storm down the road towards a village held by two British infantry platoons, supported by ATGs and 25pdrs.

The lead tanks were quickly knocked out by the 2 pdr ATGs but an air strike pinned them and artillery finished them off. The British infantry on the left flank held their position. However, on the right, the Japanese outflanked them and a bayonet charge wiped out two sections while the rest fled. Game over for the Brits.

The decisive rule is 'Envelopment' that enables the Japanese infantry and man packed support to move at the double through rough terrain. Deadly in this game.

The jungle pieces I bought at SELWG got their first outing as well.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Shanghai 1937

My reading has drifted a bit from the original Russo-Japanese project to the earlier conflict in China. This includes Peter Harmsen's, 'Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze'.

In 1937, this battle was front page news across the world, largely because it was possible to report on the battle from the relative safety of the international settlement in Shanghai. The Japanese decided to push out of their enclave as part of their strategic goal of expanding in China. The Chinese leadership decided to resist here and moved some of their best divisions into the city and the surrounding area.

Before reading this book, I was under the impression that Chinese troops of the period were uniformly bad, based on later WW2 performance. However, in 1937 the Chinese army included a number of German trained divisions that performed very well against the Japanese. They were well equipped and trained, but badly led. This was the main frustration for the German advisors, several of whom were Jewish and therefore not welcome in the new German army back home.

The Japanese, while out numbered, had several important advantages. Huge firepower, with their fleet providing heavy artillery support and total control of the air. This enabled them to interdict Chinese supply and reinforcement. Chinese artillery was poorly deployed as a consequence and this resulted in huge casualties from frontal assaults. They also had the strategic advantage of being able to land troops at almost any spot on the coast. It was  this that finally enabled them to hit the Chinese flanks, forcing a general withdrawal. 

None the less, it was far from a walkover for the Japanese, who were forced to call up reservists and divert troops from a planned offensive in North China.

This is a well written narrative of the campaign. So much so that I just had to order some of the absolutely fabulous Eureka Miniatures Chinese infantry. Great detail although ridiculously pricey. 

Sunday 13 October 2013

SELWG show

I went to the SELWG show at Crystal Palace today. I am in London for half term and the wargames is a trade for taking Jess to the Harry Potter studios tomorrow! 

It must be 15+ years since I last went to this show and the format hasn't changed much. The venue has its limitations with a main sports hall and a gallery. Not the most accessible venue in London it has to be said, but not too bad.

A good spread of traders, including a few like Peter Pig who rarely travel north. The limitations of returning by plane restrained me to a few books, a nice Russian dice bag for Bolt Action and some good value jungle terrain for the Far East project. 

There were some nice games and these are a few that caught my eye.

War of 1812 in 28mm

Nice ancients game, looked the part.

Hunt Kaiser in WW1

Very impressive town, even if a bit redundant to the actual 18th century game

The terrain for this WW2 game in 15mm was probably my favourite.

Very unusual Russian naval landings in late WW2 against the Japanese.

Hussites using WAB in 28mm.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Kosova Liberation Army

I haven't posted a book review for a while because my latest reading has been heavy going. It is James Pettifer's 'The Kosova Liberation Army: Underground War to Balkan Insurgency, 1948-2001'.

This is a very detailed account of the KLA from its post war origins fighting against Tito, to the recent conflict and the achievement of a separate state, well sort of. The KLA was never the best equipped guerrilla force and struggled for most of its existence against the well equipped Yugoslav and then Serbian army and police units.

The 'revolution' in Albania gave them access to assault rifles in large numbers, but not the high explosive they needed to interdict the main road routes used by their opponents. The NATO intervention gave them an air force, but I hadn't appreciated how ineffective this was in Kosova. It was the attack on Serbian targets that forced an end to the conflict and rectified the Serbian ethnic cleansing.

This is not a book for the general reader, but the book for anyone interested in this conflict.

Plastic Soldier Russians

Next batch of Russians have finally made it off the painting bench.

First some 45mm ATGs

 Then 76mm field guns

 and finally some more rifles

These are all from the Plastic Soldier range. The infantry box gave me some nostalgic moments. It was a bit like old Airfix figures that I first started wargaming with. Lots of figures, but plenty of useless poses. Plastic Soldier isn't quite that bad, but there are a lot of strange poses for rifle platoons. In addition the gluing together of figures in 15mm is very fiddly and unecessary as the poses are largely fixed. Having said that the castings are very nice and good value.

The artillery pieces fitted together very well and even in 15mm not too fiddly. I have the support weapons on the painting bench at present. Again not a bad fit, although some one piece moldings would be welcome. Particularly the HMGs.