Airfix OOHO British Paratroops – Chubsters?

More of my childhood Airfix Veterans painted and based for the first time.

These OOHO Paratroopers’ figures Set S23 were first produced in 1965, sculpted by John Niblett who produced many of the slender first version Airfix figures.

Some of these “bunch of chubsters“, as Gary Cumston light-heartedly called these figures on this Facebook group (below), have fought bravely in my boyhood battles since the mid 1970s, but oddly never got painted. Maybe their useful khaki green plastic handily required no painting?

They were indeed tall “chubsters”, compared to the slender Version 1 Airfix infantry figures that preceded them.

The third figure was a random one from Ken or Tony that appears to have been slightly melted or modified (to standing firing?) I think I may paint and finish this as an umbrella to represent an officer figure like Major Digby Tatham-Warter the famously eccentric Parachute officer at Arnhem who carried one. Experimental Scrim on his helmet.

Parachute regiments were usually made up of men from many regiments and sources. The same is true of my Airfix Figures. These are mostly the green colour 1970s ones but some brown 1990s Playset Coastal Fort / Gun Emplacment ones crept in. (Why make them in brown?)

Now my childhood elite veterans have been joined by a few 1960s/70s figures from Tony Adams and my former work colleague and friend Ken from his 1960s/70s tin of Airfix. Their figures are suitably coded with initials under the base.

To consider this chubster question, what better than to look closely at the figures, whilst painting up and basing some of these veterans?

I checked that I had all the figures and equipment from the Airfix British Paratroopers section of Plastic Soldier Review (which is largely unimpressed by this set) http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/Review.aspx?id=418

Yes I know it’s a Bazooka rather than a PIAT. Support weapons mounted singly except mortar team vignette. Scrim helmet experiments (see later in post).

*** Digital camera or iPad photos do tend to show up forgotten or unpainted chin straps, mouldlines and flash etc but I have to remind myself that on the games table, you are seeing them at a distance. These are old figures / moulds too. ***

A few figures and fine fiddly bits were missing from my childhood originals including the two part mortar and base, the officer checking his watch with his “whatever” hand signal and the two deflated parachutes. I searched around and added these from my unused brown plastic 1990s play set figures, many of which were still on the sprue.

There are some surprising details to paint on these rather generic allied Paratroops like the ‘monkey’s tail’ tailpiece or crutch strap, that ran from back to front to button up the smock tight whilst parachuting.

The famous drop canister and associated vignette figure.

Illustrations – Airfix boxes 1970s OOHO called generic ‘Paratroopers’ – with a US Airborne look on the left? – in this still used artwork by Brian Knight. Source image: Plastic Soldier Review.

The box art illustration by Airfix artist William Champion from the second version British Paratroops 1:32 boxes (shown in Denison smocks below) – still in use 2021.

Where can I get some?

WW2 Airfix OOHO or 1:72 figures seem to go in and out of production, as the British Paratroopers currently are (summer 2021). Recent releases of the Paras up to Red Box packaging style (2012) onwards are still around online for much the same price as the OOHO figure selection currently on Airfix.com

Airfix 1:32 British Paratroops are being re-released late summer 2021.

As a young gamer borrowing this book from the branch library service I felt included in the adult world of gaming because Donald Featherstone used Airfix figures: Appendix 3 Wargaming Airborne Operations – basic Airfix paint style shown.

Painting my Paras at last

I had intended at first to do my usual childhood ‘Airfix basics’ simple painting of black boots, flesh faces and weapon colours.

Usually I use Khaki Afrikabraun for faces as it is not quite so pink and bright pale as flesh paints usually are.

Once I had painted in packs, gaiters and webbing in Khaki (Afrikabraun Matt in Revell Acrylic Aquacolor), it became necessary to use Flesh for the faces toned down with a hint of khaki or green. Any other webbing colour from the paints that I had available and had tried was too grey. I hadn’t considered using any washes at this point.

Afrikabraun – gaiters, webbing pouches and haversack

Tar Black – for boots and weapons

Leather Brown – for hair and wooden parts of weapons

Silver and black mixed for gun metal and grenades

Dark Green – for helmets

Shade and Wash?

Having done the old Airfix figure basic colours, I thought I would try some Citadel shade wash to pick out the detail and shadows of pouches, clothes and faces. I used a Christmas gift from the family last Christmas of Citadel Shade Athonian Camoshade (dark green) and Agrax Earthshade (brown). Nuln Oil (black) was generally too dark.

Shades of Denison?

Flocking and Basing (F and B)

MDF 1p Penny bases from Warbases were used for individual figures, Tuppeny 2p MDF for lying down figures and support weapons.

Apart from lying figures, figures were glued with UHU onto these 1p bases before painting started. It makes them generally easier to paint.

The flock used was a mixture of several Woodland Scenics flock types, some Jacklex packing sawdust, fine beach sand and beach micro-gravel (gathered from beach trips).

PVA Glue mixed with brown and green craft acrylic was placed by cocktail stick onto the Airfix figure base and MDF penny base before burying them in flock in a small tray.

A little later, the figure bases were buried in a tub of the fine beach sand and micro-gravel.

Trusty old Preben Kannik 1968 Military Uniforms of the World in Colour (Blandford)

Uniform Research – Denison Smocks

Some online sources, painted sample figures in ads and book illustrations show quite garish bright washes of brown cream and green for camouflaged Denison smocks.

Initially I did not even intend to paint the green sections of these already khaki green plastic figures, unless they required this like Tony Adams’ grey painted figures or the 1990s Brown issue Airfix OOHO Paratroops.

Once I had done the green or brown wash, I thought this might suffice.

However, having done the Citadel wash which seems at first to add a shine on matt colours, I went back and spent some time adding brush shade mixes onto the Airfix plastic green base colour of Olive (dark) Green and Dark Earth (brown) Revell Acrylics.

Whilst I did this, I listened for the first time to the DVD Special Features film makers’ commentary by “special effects, designers, cinematographers and film production staff” on my trusty A Bridge Too Far DVD.

After I had done this and it had dried, I couldn’t easily tell what I had done, which is hopefully the opposite of garish.

Early Denison smocks were supposed to slowly fade and the colours wash out.

These familiar Airfix Para figures seem to hold up well enough for me for gaming, especially considering that these figures that are almost 60 years old. Their modern equivalents are probably these 28mm Warlord Games Paras or any other plastic 1:72 / 1:76 British Paras you can find.

How do they paint Denison camouflage jacket ‘brush strokes’ this tiny? 28mm figures.
Three Esci hard plastic Red Devil’s that I painted in Denison camouflage c. 1982, next to a recently painted Airfix paratroop signaller, probably trying to get those radios to work.

A Bridge Too Far 1977 quote: Anthony Hopkins as John Frost: “D’you know something’s just occurred to me. We’re wearing the wrong sort of camouflage … all very well for the countryside but I doubt if it’s going to fool anyone in the town …”

Screen shot from YouTube clips of A Bridge Too Far. Chicken in a backpack mascot optional.

To Scrim or Not Too Scrim?

I watched an interesting YouTube video on helmet scrim using finely cut up bandages https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vdj1a8Irgu4&feature=youtu.be

I tried this out but found my old time-expired bandages, once cut up were more like cotton fluff plastic than cloth, so I only did one trial figure in this style. I then trimmed a few millimetres of edging from a green gaming cloth, which had more of a weave to it and the benefit of green shade colours. I tried this finely chopped material out on a damaged figure and a few lying figures.

Green cloth scrim on No. 1, bandage scrim on No.2 and none on No. 3

To Scrim or Not to Scrim and how?

Scrim Plus point: It does hide the unfortunate mould rim line or dent across across the top of the helmet.

Scrim Minus point: Many of the archive pictures that I looked at did not show British Paratroops with helmet scrim net or a leafy head scrim.

I want these figures to be as versatile for (ImagiNations) gaming in different theatres as possible, although generally on grass flocked bases.

What do you think?

*

Casualties without a base are now mounted as standing figures to make more grenade throwers or weapons crew.

Essential Reading Matter

Wargaming Airborne Operations by Donald Featherstone (1977) – same period as A Bridge Too Far film. The appendix sections show Airfix publicity shot pictures of the new German Paratroops OOHO and German Mountain Troops, along with OOHO British Paratroopers with minimal painting style.

In the game photographs, it shows that generally Featherstone barely painted his British Paras, or the newly released 1974-76 issues of Australian, US Paratroop, German Paratroop or Mountain Troop Airfix figures.

By chance, timely figures or the stimulus for producing this book?

Representative sample page of Wargaming Airborne Operations showing Featherstone’s simple figure painting style and functional games table. I found this achievable approach inspiring as a young gamer. Atlantic and Airfix figures, handmade, charred and melted urban terrain pieces …

Interestingly he also hadn’t added or updated to the Version 2 British Infantry or German Infantry, still using his Version 1 Infantry Combat Group and German Infantry from his WW2 game in War Games (1962) fifteen years earlier. Along with Matchbox US and German Infanty, he had surprisingly used Atlantic German and US Infantry in his games though instead.

A reprint by John Curry in the History of Wargaming project also includes Bob Cordery’s Tarred and Feathered grid update of Lionel Tarr and Donald Featherstone’s WW2 rules in War Games (1962).

Osprey Combat: British Paratrooper versus German Fallschirmjager (Mediterranean 1942-43)

A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan (extract) from True Stories of World War Two (Reader’s Digest). This thick hardback book of extracts was a welcome teenage Christmas or Birthday present from my parents.

Essential Viewing Matter

I chose A Bridge Too Far as my Desert Island one film challenge Duchy of Tradgardland blog post that has most introduced my gaming:

“Hard to choose from the raft of westerns and 50s/60s war films and Battle Victor comics etc, the Zulu, Waterloo films mentioned. Probably ‘A Bridge Too Far‘ from its plan of ops beginning, suggested flaws before the gliders launch, its series of plucky little character vignettes, unlucky blunders, plucky heroism, independent individual skirmish actions and IGO YUGO-ness (now the Allied side, now the German side). Obviously the same could be said of The Longest Day and Battle of the Bulge movies, all a bit mashed together in my head. This happened roughly around the same time as finding Donald Featherstone’s Airborne Wargaming book from the library.”

This film has its detractors https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Bridge_Too_Far_(film) but this broadly accurate film by producer Joseph Levine, scriptwriter William Goldman and director Richard Attenborough is a suitable memorial to many brave young men who died in this tragedy of human flaws in the planning and general bad luck.

Like Attenborough’s earlier film version of Oh What a Lovely War! and many late 1960s and 1970s war films, it is arguably / almost an anti-war film. (‘Discuss’. Film Studies 101).

These Para figures will one day grace the gaming table again as they did in my childhood and teenage games but probably not in a historical reenactment game.

Maybe in ImagiNations games as the First Angrian Parachute Brigade?

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 18 July 2021

Another inspiring photograph from Richard Tennant in Featherstone’s Solo Wargaming

60 inspiring illustrations but only one of them in colour …

Last year I wrote about the signed copy of Donald Featherstone’s Complete Wargaming that I had picked up secondhand, signed or dedicated to Richard Tennant.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/12/22/richard-tennant-and-donald-featherstones-incomplete-wargaming/

Reading through Solo Wargaming, my second favourite Featherstone title, (War Games 1962 first, Airborne Wargaming third, before you ask), I spotted another of Richard Tennant’s beautiful wargames terrain pieces.

Richard (Dick) Tennant sadly passed away in March 2021, aged 77.

There is an obituary piece for him here:

https://miniatureminions.blogspot.com/2021/03/a-tribute-to-passing-of-friend-dick.html

Many of these terrain pieces were made for Richard, something I discovered on Richard’s summary of the Miniature Minions website of David Crenshaw.

David now owns many of these Tennant Napoleonic collection figures. You can glimpse the building again in one of Tennant’s own photographs:

Richard Tennant wrote his own mini biography featured on David Crenshaw’s blog:

https://miniatureminions.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-richard-tennant-collection.html

It looks like one of these Spanish farms by Holmes of Deltorama or Peter Gilder has been photographed for Donald Featherstone’s lovely book, one of only two colour pictures including the cover picture of Airfix Arabs.

Richard Tennant was an early opponent of Donald Featherstone in Southampton in the 1960s and a lifelong friend of his. They both shared an interest in the Napoleonic and Peninsular Wars.

As well as Richard Tennant’s collections being together in the USA in good hands, it is good to know that many of Featherstone’s figures are together in the collection of Daniel Borris in the USA.

Solo Wargaming has been republished in affordable softback by John Curry in the History of Wargaming Project – http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/details/dfsolo.htm

**************************

I also spotted Dick Tennant’s name again in Donald Featherstone’s Wargamers Newsletter of October 1969 (I have fairly randomly the Jan-Dec 1969 issues)

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, July 2021

Home casting figures – functional repairs and old toy soldier DNA

Useful tools of the repair trade – pin vice and file – to repair a miscast musket.

Miscastings or half castings that are not too bad do not always go straight back in the ladle.

To avoid fumes and mess, I restrict my casting to days outside in warmer weather with no threat of rain; hot metal and moisture make an explosive mix.

As a result casting days (or days when I have time and feel like casting) are infrequent enough that I save the 90+ % figures that are ‘nearly all there’. I can then do some simple repairs on missing musket tips and other fiddly bits. Even missing heads can be swapped …

“Where’s your head at?” Missing a head, why not try swopping one with a Pound Store figure?

Such repairs that I make are usually fairly simple ones, such as drilling out a miscast musket to insert a short piece of wire.

Second casting session a few days ago – a few missing musket tips, heads and bows to repair.

On the repair tray where missing musket tips are replaced, heads swapped and bows repaired …

The perfect casting, the half cast musket and a masking tape, wire and glue repair.

Old Toy Soldier DNA

You might notice from photos that I often drill, file and repair over sheets of white A4 paper, which I have folded into four and unfolded again to make a cross shaped crease.

This is because I keep the metal filings, drilling ‘swarf’ and trimmings from old Hollowcast figure repair, roughing up the base when rebasing or cleaning up home castings.

From time to time during repairs, I carefully slightly fold the crease-crossed A4 page and slide the metal filings and trimmings into a small lidded pot.

Why do I keep this toy soldier ‘magic dust’ mixed together in a small pot of this “old toy soldier DNA“?

It not only keeps the workbench of my roll-top desk clean but it also means that I can then add a minute pinch of this unique and special mixture from time to time to the casting ladle when home casting.

Each new shiny casting might then have inside it a tiny nano-percentage of an old Britain’s hollowcast casting or old flat tin figure.

Each shiny new casting then might have a small part of all the accumulated bravery, courage and adventure from the countless battles that the old damaged hollowcast veterans (from various makers and owners) have been through over the last hundred years or more.

Reinforcements for Tradgardland, Lurland or Afrika?

A small number of these unpainted Schneider castings of pith helmeted Colonial figures and fierce Natives will soon be heading towards Alan Gruber at the Duchy of Tradgardland blog as reinforcements for his interesting Lurland and Ost Afrika campaigns.

http://tradgardland.blogspot.com/search/label/Afrika

http://tradgardland.blogspot.com/search/label/Lurland

Alan has sent me some interesting spare figures and heads to keep me busy throughout Lockdown, so this is a small thin flat thank you heading to the Duchy of Tradgardland Post Office.

Fight well my tiny men, you have the brave DNA of old toy soldiers in you!

Previously on Man of TIN …

Here is one of the first blog posts that I wrote back in 2016 “type casting”. My WordPress avatar / host page @26soldiersoftin is still named after these famous “26 soldiers of Lead” of Gutenberg (or whoever first said this quote).

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/typecasting/

We finish with a fine picture of a dapper, almost Duke of Edinburgh looking Donald Featherstone, casting away on the kitchen stove in his cheerily enthusiastic 1960s book Tackle Model Soldiers This Way.

“In the author’s house, everyone slaves over a hot stove”. Note the plate drying rack and safety equipment of a shirt and tie. An inspiration to us all!

Inspired?

If you want to have a go at casting, these companies sell new moulds and casting equipment:

Prince August (Ireland / UK/ EU) do some great starter sets at their website

https://shop.princeaugust.ie

or their official eBay shop mouldsandminis https://www.ebay.co.uk/str/mouldsandminiatures?_trksid=p2047675.l2563

Berlinner Zinnfiguren (Germany / EU) https://www.zinnfigur.com/en/Casting/

In America, Rich at Dunken has now acquired several old manufacturers’ collections of moulds https://www.dunken.com

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 17/18 April 2021.

Richard Tennant and Donald Featherstone’s Incomplete Wargaming

Like many others growing up playing with toy soldiers in the 1960s or 70s, Donald Featherstone’s wargaming books borrowed from the public branch library were a great source of ideas and inspiration to me as a youngster.
Sadly I never got to meet Donald Featherstone before he died in 2013 but I do have a couple of books signed by him amongst my collection. Touched briefly by genius!
Richard Tennant and the start of his mini biography on Miniature Minions blog post

I am pleased to have a signed Featherstone volume of Complete Wargaming, this one dedicated to Dick Tennant, obviously released as the result of downsizing a lifetime collection.

The inscription to Dick Tennant celebrating 30 years friendship (published 1988)

This is one of two signed Featherstone books I have acquired over the last few years.

Featherstone’s Complete Wargaming came from a second hand seller for only £15 even though it was pencilled in next to the price ‘signed’.

I had no idea who Dick Tennant was.

Aha! Thanks to David Crenshaw at the Miniature Minions website in the USA, who has acquired some of the Tennant Napoleonics collection of figures, I now know who Richard Tennant is.

R.J. Tennant is one of the surviving original Donald Featherstone wargames conference circle from Southampton from the early 1960s.

https://miniatureminions.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-richard-tennant-collection.html

On the back of a David and Charles catalogue flyer for the book, someone has noted some proofreading errors and some photo reversal mistakes. Written by Richard Tennant?

Alongside the Featherstone signature are some pencilled notes that I take to be Richard Tennant’s corrections. The pencil handwriting appears different from Featherstone’s signature and dedication. It exactly matches the handwriting in Miniature Minions’ blogpost about Tennant’s figures and research notebook.

Reading the MiniatureMinions blog post, there is much mention of the Peninsular War and even a mention of this windmill made by George Erik.

From: https://miniatureminions.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-richard-tennant-collection.html

See the fly leaf pencil note about the “model illustrated on page 197 custom made by G.Erik photographed with own figures” – written by Richard Tennant

The Peninsular War appears to be a particular interest of both Tennant and Featherstone; I recall reading some of Donald Featherstone’s later articles about the battlefields in modelling or gaming magazines in the 1980s.

See flyleaf note re Page 142 about an incorrect caption for Napoleonic Cavalry

One of Richard’s figures used in the book? See the pencil flyleaf note re. “Photographs p. 139”

Featherstone’s Complete Wargaming has been reissued in a revised and corrected paperback version by John Curry of the History of Wargaming Project, working to correct some of these original printing and photographic errors.

http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/details/dfcomplete.htm

John Curry’s Foreword about the original Complete Wargaming and the revised version.

My other Featherstone signature is in At Them With The Bayonet!, Featherstone’s book on the Anglo Sikh Wars. Unusually it is signed by Featherstone in lurid pink felt-tip (maybe you sign with whatever you have to hand?) inscribed to A.S. Donald, whoever that is. Again, this signed copy was not expensive, not being one of his better known Wargames books and one on an obscure Victorian conflict.

That distinctive Featherstone signature – in pink felt tip.

As well as Richard Tennant, I have come across another of Featherstone’s early circle, one who is still blogging:

Rod’s Wargaming is by another still blogging member of this early wargames conference / community, Rod MacArthur has on his website some great pictures of 1960s Airfix conversions that sometimes involved Featherstone’s mould making help:

https://rodwargaming.wordpress.com

A little bit of Featherstone wargaming history, all still going strong and in use – I’m sure both Don and Dick would be pleased!

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 22 December 2020

Verda versus Griza FMS 20mm Pound Store Plastic Warriors skirmish now with added Esperanto!

Scene / seen from the Verdan border post, the attacking Grizan troops in grey

Cross posted from my sister blog Pound Store Plastic Warriors,

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/06/28/verda-versus-griza-pound-store-plastic-soldiers-20mm-interbellum-fms-skirmish-now-with-added-esperanto/

Now with added Esperanto and a Blog Post Script on US army 1960s training using Esperanto as the enemy language

The late Donald Featherstone’s 102nd Birthday

Today would have been the late Donald Featherstone’s birthday, born 20 March 1918.

Happy Birthday Don! You changed lots of lives (of mostly men of a certain age).

To celebrate this year, I bought reprints through the History of Wargaming Project of two of Donald’s classic books that I had not read for years:

http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/details/dfcampaigns.htm

http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/details/dfadvanced.htm

Previously on Donald Featherstone’s birthday last year 2019:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/03/20/donald-featherstones-birthday/

And how to celebrate his centenary or his birthday in 2018:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/03/featherstone100-donald-featherstone-centenary-20-march-2018/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/donald-featherstones-centenary/

This is how it all started for me as a boy with Don’s book from the branch library, the very copy that I bought when it was sold off.

Boyhood Airfix, boyhood copy of War Games … still have them. Picture from:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/acw-battle-of-pine-ridge-vintage-airfix-full-game-write-up/

War Games being the source of my favourite rules, Featherstone’s simplest rules in its Appendix ‘Close Wars’:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/close-little-wars-featherstones-simplest-rules/

Happy Birthday, Donald Featherstone.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 20 March 2020.

Desert Commando Raid on Wadi Yu Min 1941

Setting up the game board ready for Turn 1 …

Insertion points for different units of the raiding forces were chosen by dice throw from 5 possible routes (see map below) before the game started.

The desert commando forces and two desert jeep trucks Ragtag and Bobtail enter the area from the old airstrip (insertion point 4). The Yestershire Infantry to appear along the rail bridge in foreground (insertion point 5).

Briefing Map, Raid Aims and named personnel set out here:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/18/lrdg-demolition-briefing-map-and-games-scenario/

Defending NordAfrika Korps are stationed in unknown areas and in unknown strength around the area as per the scant reconnaissance briefing and aerial photographs

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/05/desert-raid-on-wadi-yu-min-briefing-map-1941/

What the Allied raiding forces do not know is how many NAK forces are stationed in the Station Halt building or that on Turn 7 (decided by 2d6) these troops are on standby, ready to be replaced by fresh incoming troops by train. They also do not know that Meyer, an ADC or adjutant to General Von Rimmel is visiting the Special Operations Section (tented area) for a status report.

What the NAK forces do not know is that they are about to be rudely awakened early one morning by a Commando raid. Only a few sentries and gun teams are posted, a few Aircrew busy at work …

First contact Turn 1

Allied elements appear on the board as darkness fades and dawn breaks in the North African desert.

Turn 1

“As the sun rose beyond on the desert hills, Schutzen Wache on sentry duty spotted a flurry of faded khaki rushing across the railway tracks along the bridge … he raised his rifle and fired some warning shots into the air. Achtung! Alarm! Alarm!”

Whilst the Commandos rapidly and silently capture two Aircrew / Groundcrew without alarm being raised, the sentry Sch. Wache by the Railway bridge does raise the alarm on seeing the Yestershire rifles crossing (d6 thrown to decide if alarm raised) with several rapid shots in the air.

The railway bridge proved a narrow pinchpoint for deploying Yestershire troops – a bunched target.

Private Hunt lobbed a grenade at the sentry but missed, as did the rifle fire of Mulvaney, Mahoney and Sgt Brittle.

Clumped together by the bridge, Privates Mahoney, Hunt and Sgt Brittle were all quickly caught in the LMG fire of the Halftrack (which is part trackless and under repair). Some of the first unlucky casualties of this desert raid.

The Allied View from the Bridge – a fleeing Sch. Wache the NAK sentry and deadly half track

The Desert Commandos rush the airfield to silence the air crew and armoured car.

Very quickly the Commando rifle fire and the LMGs on Ragtag and Bobtail, the two desert “jeep trucks” silences the two crew of the Armoured Car.

The PAK gun crew on cemetery ridge managed to knock out Ragtag killing its two crew Ptes. Marrion and Foster. Fortunately the demolition charges and explosives did not explode close to Bobtail, the other Jeep Truck.

First major disaster – Ragtag the Jeep Truck is hit by the Antitank Gun and its crew killed.

Turn 2

The NordAfrika Korps garrison was inside the station halt, awaiting relief by train (2d6 thrown to check: train will arrive with replacement troops on Turn 7). They rapidly deployed to the roof, their fire brings down Commando Private Hemingway who is heading down the flank of the station building.

Meyer, the visiting ADC / Adjutant to General Von Rimmel and air crew sheltered inside the barricaded station halt. A small group of NAK troops led by Haupt. (Captain) Fuchs set out to defend the airstrip.

The PAK gun engaged Bobtail the second Jeep Truck and knocked it out for two moves.

Private Grant of the Yestershires guns down the Half Track crewman, although sinister grey uniformed Klang takes over the LMG on the Half-track.

The view from the other Antitank gun dug in on the Hills above the railway halt

From this hill, the Antitank gun engages a group of Commandos at maximum range and kills Private Young and Scruby.

Gefreiter Weigmann was shot by Commando raid leader “Popsy”

Allied and NAK Casualties from melee and rifle fire from the station building roof.

Turn 3

The PAK gun engages the Yestershire HMG crew and wipes it out, killing the crew (Curry, Stonefeather, Blease).

In return, 2/Lt Hyde shoots with his pistol at Sch. Richter on the roof.

Turn 4

Lt. Bath, Cpl Ridley and RE Appleby recrew the Yestershire HMG.

LCpl Mitton is hit by fire from the rooftop NAK troops.

Turn 4 – The fight around the Half track – mysterious Feldwebel Klang in grey
Turn 4: Private Maitland the demolition expert lays the first timed charge – kaboom in Turn Ten!
The fight for the Half Track – its machine guns finally silenced.
Turn 4: After being knocked out for two moves, Bobtail finally roars into action, LMG rattling.

The fight around the oil tanks. Success for the NordAfrika Korps? Maitland may be gone but his time fuse remains!

Turn 5

Three Commandos (Ptes. Steinbeck, Gammage, Dickinson) felled by grenade from above as they try to break in to the Station Halt.

Turn 6

Demolition expert Pte Maitland is shot before he can lay any further charges.

In a deadly melee phase Pte Grant, Pte Faulkner and Capt Young and NAK Sch. Junge and Schroeder are killed.

Jeep Truck Bobtail is back in action, heading down the railway track towards the station. Its LMG hit Sch. Vogel on the station roof.

The Yestershire HMG crew brought down the troublesome PAK crew Sch. Beck and Roth at last.

Turn 6 – fierce and deadly melee as more Desert Commandos pitch into melee against NAK troops.

Turn 7

Train arrives with NAK reinforcements

Turn 8 – the view from the NAK gun emplacement on the hill, attacked by Pte Ortheris

Turn 8

Bobtail the Jeep Truck turns sharply and retreats down the track away from the train and all its reinforcements.

NordAfrika Korps – Reinforcements detrain in Turn 8

Meanwhile Sch. (Pte) Huber in melee and with rifle fire brings down Commando after Commando including the raid leader “Popsy” before Huber himself is brought down.

“Popsy” the Commando Raid leader is down – time to retreat?

The planned escape route with Bobtail the LRDG Jeep Truck just before … Bobtail disaster!

Turn 9

With Raid leader “Popsy” dead and Allied numbers dwindling in the face of fresh NAK reinforcements, it is clearly time to leave. Hopefully soon explosive charges will wreck the area.

Abandoning the heavy HMG, RE Pte Appleby, Corporal Ridley and 2/Lt Bath head to the bridge to hitch a ride out of the area on the Jeep Truck Bobtail, along with Ptes. Wallingford and Mulvaney.

Before they climb on board Bobtail the Jeep Truck, it is hit at long range by the NAK Antitank gun on the hill. Bobtail is destroyed, its gunner and driver Ptes. Gough and Smith are killed. Disaster – but at least their remaining mines and explosives do not explode, injuring the remaining Allied troops.

Elsewhere across the airfield, Commando radioman ‘Sparky’ Sissons calls for the far off retrieval teams to meet him at the pre-arranged desert rendezvous point. He quickly leaves with Ptes. Shepperd and Learoyd. Their two captured enemy Aircrew held for interrogation are tied up and gagged but left behind, alive.

As the last of the Yestershires and the Commandos disappear off on foot the way they came …

Turn 10

Boom! The first of the oil tanks goes up in flames.

Private Maitland is avenged.

At this point the Allied survivors melt away into the desert on foot. The explosion of the first tank sends the surviving NordAfrika Korps troops diving to the ground to avoid the flames and showers of stones and metal debris as one after another oil tanks explodes, damaging the track and the engine of the train.

The old biplane is toppled over, made further unserviceable. Warehouses and stores are damaged.

Despite the heavy losses, this first desert Commando raid achieved suitable disruption.

Boom! The retreating Allies see more smoke and hear several more explosions as they head quickly off into the desert heat as the sun gets higher in the sky. Time to find their rendezvous points.

Boom! The Yestershires have their packs of supplies, water and ammunition handy. The small commando group are not personally so well supplied until they reach prearranged supply dumps.

They will hopefully regroup and head home to base to be debriefed. However the Commandos failed to bring any prisoners back for interrogation or to discover the activities of the NAK Special Duties Unit. What was going on in the tent for example? What was Meyer, the ADC to General Rimmel, inspecting?

(Above) Allied Survivors of the Raid on Wadi Yu Min – a few Commandos and some Yestershire Regiment escape into the desert. Yestershire Regiment 2/Sub Lieutenant ‘Tubby’ Bath RNVR , Corporal Ridley, Privates Mulvaney, Wallingford and Shepperd. Commando Radioman Signaller ‘Sparky’ Sissons, Pte Learoyd and Mine detecting RE Private Appleby

Thanks to our Featherstone Personalised Wargaming approach the names of tiny combatants have been used throughout.

NordAfrika Korps survivors with Meyer, ADC to General Rimmel and a wrecked Bobtail LRDG jeep truck
NordAfrika Korps survivors named.
Casualties on both sides Raid of Wadi Yu Min
The Allied Casualties named

The NordAfrika Korps casualties named.

Reflection back on the game and rules

Playing solo, this game / scenario worked well enough.

The cluttered terrain amongst the oil tanks and aeroplane made shooting difficult for both sides.

The Commandos and Yestershire Regiment suffered consistently from a series of poor dice rolls throughout on Melee and Firing. No Featherstone Savings Throws in this game. They were given no extra modifiers in Melee or Firing for being Commando troops, opposing tough NordAfrika Korps troops.

Despite the first NAK Armoured Car crew being quickly knocked out, the two anti tank guns on the hill and the half-track LMG quickly did damage to the commando transport and troop numbers. Lots of lucky dice throws. Dealing with these high up entrenched gun positions created many problems for the raiders.

Naming characters does positively change the way you view this game and would be even more effective with a smaller number of troops. Playing both sides with a larger number of characters, it is harder to become attached or show favouritism to any one particular figure.

The element of silent surprise at the beginning needs to be worked on and developed.

In future raids I would include more explosives trained troops, as well as assign rifles and SMGs to those typical ‘useless’ Airfix non-combatant figures without firepower such as the grenade throwers, knife men, observers with only binoculars and gun crew etc.

I used Featherstone based simple WW2 rules from War Games and its Close Wars appendix but with scaled down firing ranges to suit my hexes:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/ww2-platoon-level-close-little-world-wars-rules

Some rules ideas to tinker and think through after rereading Featherstone’s Wargaming Airborne Operations and Wargaming Commando Operations.

There are some interesting commando raid games and rules on the Grid Based Wargaming website: https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2020/01/st-nazaire-raid-deciding-rules.html

Overall a joyful outing for some classic Vintage Airfix from my childhood collection and from Tony Adams’ gift of figures earlier in the year. Figures who never thought they would fight (again).

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 18 January 2020.

LRDG Demolition Briefing Map and Games Scenario

Available forces for the reconnaissance and demolition mission: see below

LRDG – Briefing: Raid or Mission Aims

a) investigate increased enemy activity at the railway halt and old desert airstrip at the old oil prospecting camp, Wadi-Yu-Min.

b) put out of use any military or transport equipment, railway, bridges as appropriate

c) destroy stores

D) remove any interesting weaponry and documents of interest to Intelligence Officers, including captured service personnel for internment and interrogation.

‘Ragtag’ and ‘Bobtail’, two LRDG (D) modified desert extended jeep type trucks with additional external  fuel tanks, stowage and demolition equipment   – 2 LRDG (D) man crews with  LMG Bren Guns, pistols and rifle plus spotter / spare armed with pistol.

Being more small truck than jeep, several commandos can be carried by each ‘jeep truck’.

Note: Numbers with names are not their ages!

Ragtag’s crew of 2 – driver and LMG gunner Desert Commando Privates Foster (35) and Marrion (34) and Spotter Pte Sheppard (32)

Bobtail’s crew of 2 – driver and LMG gunner Desert Commando Privates Gough (36) and Smith (37)

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Desert Commando Section 1 LRDG – D

Officer Commanding Captain Younger (14) with pistol and commando knife

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Photo caption: Three plucky Desert Commandos pictured with HMG Section gunner Privates Curry (38) and Stonefeather (39) and spotter Lance Cpl. Blease (7) and LRDG-D Truck LMG teams.

20 Desert Commandos under two Officers (Hyde and Younger),  commanding 9 rifles and 4 SMGs from various regiments and the Royal Angrian Defence Force (West Africa) and technical teams.

2/Lieut. Hyde (40) with pistol,

Riflemen – Lance Cpl Kaufman (6), ‘Fluffy’ Mitton (9) Privates Fremantle (5), Hemingway (10), Faulkner (12), Learoyd (14), Chandler (18), Dangerfield (24), Clayton (33)

SMGs – Lance Corporal Maclean (8), Privates Young (17), Weller (20), Scruby (27)

Commando Technical teams include:

  1. Royal Signals Regiment operator with radio, Private Sissons (25)
  2. Small antitank weapon (Bazooka type) Private Chamberlin (26) and second crew member Private Dickinson (31)
  3. Royal Engineers Demolition expert Private Maitland (30) with detonator
  4. Two ‘grenadiers’ equipped with Mills Bombs and knives Privates Steinbeck (11) and Gammage (29)

Each of these ‘Technicals’ carries Commando knives and pistol.

Donald Featherstone’s Wargaming Commando Operations gives a good idea of weaponry that early raiding teams carried.

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Desert Forces: Yestershire Regiment Regulars with two officers with pistols, 10 riflemen under Sergeants Brittle (40) and Bland (2)

Officers Lieutenant ‘Paddy’ Camberley (1), and 2nd / Sub-Lieutenant ‘Tubby’ Bath (41), attached from RNVR

Riflemen – Sergeants Brittle (40) and Bland (2), Corporals Stone (3) and ‘Daisy’ Ridley (4) and Privates Pollock (13), Mulvaney (15) Ortheris (16), Grant (19), Mahoney (21), Wallingford (22),

Bombers / Grenadiers – Private Hunt (28).

1 HMG team of two gun crew Privates Curry (38) and Stonefeather (39) and spotter Lance Cpl Blease (7)

Royal Engineer Private Appleby (23) with mine detecting equipment and pistol.

Briefing Map

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/05/desert-raid-on-wadi-yu-min-briefing-map-1941/

Insertion points 1-5 for each team to be advised (chosen by d6).

Recon and Demolition Mission Reminders

Yestershire Regiment to be inserted close by truck and carrier, (off table) arriving into the area on foot. They will be carrying water, rations and ammunition in their packs.

Commando teams will be carrying no packs. Ragtag, Bobtail and the truck logistics teams carry extra explosives and detonators. They have also established several caches of survival supplies nearby with map refs to ensure that commando teams can escape on foot as needed.

A radioman signaller is present to keep links back to base teams for rescue and retrieval at prearranged points in the surrounding desert.

Reminders: Civilian casualties are to be avoided or minimised.

Local people may be present along with unarmed railway staff.

No blame for the raid should attributable to the local population by the enemy. Where possible, ‘Dummy’ maps and equipment to be deliberately left behind.

Enemy prisoners and technicians are to be disarmed, taken captive where possible and escorted back to base for interrogation.

The raid game is now played and the account of it can be found here: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/18/desert-commando-raid-on-wadi-yu-min-1941/

Personalised Wargaming: What’s in a name?

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/09/featherstones-personalised-wargaming-in-the-desert/

John Curry noted in the reprint edition of Donald Featherstone’s Advanced Wargames that the list of names in the ‘Personalised Wargaming’ chapter included the names of various 1960s wargame opponents, illustrators and figure manufacturers – Russell Gammage of Rose Miniatures, Neville (Minifigs) Dickinson, Illustrator R.J. Marrion, Jack Scruby, Brigadier Peter Young, Roy Belmont-Maitland (Tradition) etc.

You also get a possible glimpse of Featherstone’s bookshelf of rugged literary tastes. Several others appear to be novelists or writers – Chandler, Faulkner, Hemingway. Others include ‘The Soldiers Three’ or ‘Three Musketeers’ characters in Rudyard Kipling’s tales of army life in India during the Raj, one of Featherstone’s colonial gamingn interests, Kipling’s alter ego Ortheris, Learoyd and Mulvaney.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learoyd,_Mulvaney_and_Ortheris

After introducing Learoyd and Mulvaney, when asked who the third musketeer was, Kipling reputedly said Ortheris (‘the Author is’).

Other bloggers who commented on my Personalised Wargaming blog post created their character names lists using the names of actors, politicians and war leaders (“See here, Private Johnson!” – insert name of …), film characters and ingeniously, villains from acquaintances (with names scrambled).

Airfix 54mm ‘Saints’ https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/donald-featherstones-centenary/

The ‘Saints’ Southampton FC teams of the mid to late 1950s to early 60s would be another such useful or appropriate Donald Featherstone inspired list of names to collate and choose from, as he was their team physiotherapist and wrote several books on sports, work and dance injuries.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Southampton_F.C._players

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, 18 January 2020

Featherstone’s Personalised Wargaming in the Desert

Vintage Airfix Privates named, Privates for Desert Army and Privates / Schutz in NordAfrika Korps

One idea I wanted to develop in my skirmish gaming is a more ‘personal’ or ‘personalised’ feel to small troop action.

Giving names to your ‘characters’ adds a different dimension to the nameless hordes of figures.

I use the names suggested in the chapter ‘Personalised Wargaming‘ of Donald Featherstone’s 1969 Advanced Wargames book, recently reprinted and available from John Curry’s History of Wargaming project.

Naming characters has worked really well for me with the snowballers and the Boy and Girl Scout Wide Games.

However it has meant fairly regular picking figures up to check who they are!

See more at: https://tabletopscoutingwidegames.wordpress.com

The Blue Hills Boys … all named in the game, reports and write ups.

Personalised “Ripping Yarns” write up of the game report.

“You, Vot ist your Name?” “Don’t tell him, Pike!”

When I ran out of names from the Featherstone list in Advanced Wargaming and Skirmish Wargaming, especially for the many Schutzen (Riflemen) privates commanded by General Von Rimmel in the NordAfrika Korps, I turned to Wikipedia’s common German surname list and the WW2 / modern rank lists for translations

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_most_common_surnames_in_Germany

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranks_and_insignia_of_the_German_Army_(1935–1945)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranks_of_the_German_Bundeswehr

Vintage Airfix Afrika Korps – General Von Rimmel can be seen top left

Sch. Schwartz? / Pte Black?

I have marked all the bases with the English ranks. For Schutzen (Sch) read Private etc. If needed, many of the Germanic names have an English equivalent, if you were using the NordAfrika Korps for other non German / non WW2 ImagiNations games.

Private Scruby? Private Young? Private Marrion?

John Curry noticed that Featherstone’s names in his “Personalised Wargaming” chapter were friends, wargamers, illustrators, and figure manufacturers from the 1950s and 1960s.

I wonder if Sergeant Featherstone was putting Brigadier Peter Young in his place a little jokily by only having a Private Young amongst the named characters in his ‘Personalised Wargaming’ chapter?

“Her Privates We” – some of Featherstone’s named figures in Advanced Wargaming.

And Don Featherstone himself? Not on his own list but I do have of course on my extended names list and now on an Airfix figure the name of one Sergeant Stonefeather!

I wonder what experience any of you have had of ‘personalised‘ wargaming? Did it add to your gaming or detract from it?

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 9/10 January 2020.

Stealth’s Take on Close Little Wars

.

Following up my post about Jen B’s version of Featherstone’s Close Wars Rules, fellow games blogger Stealth contacted me to say that he had been playing around with his own variant of Donald Featherstone’s simple Close Wars rules.

These were first published in Don’s appendix to War Games (1962) and Stealth had been looking at my variants Close Little Wars.

Here is Stealth’s variant are in detail for you to peruse: https://stealthswargaming.blogspot.com/2019/05/stealths-close-little-wars-variant-rules.html

and his classic first wargames minis are first version 1960s tiny Airfix figure conversions, always a charming joy to see

https://stealthswargaming.blogspot.com/2019/06/i-emerge-from-painting-cave-to-give-you.html

Stealth’s rules have a slight D & D influence or feel (see his other blogs) in that carrying or capturing crates forms part of the victory conditions, scoring and scenarios. Interesting idea for ambushing a supply column etc.

I hope you find something of rules variants interest here. I enjoy seeing how people adapt and tinker, go back to basics and then elaborate a bit more.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 16 June 2019.