HAWKs Tankfest Tour (part 3, Tankfest Preview Day)

After breakfast in the hotel we headed for Bovington.  Friday was “preview day.”  Tankfest is officially Saturday, but getting there on Friday allowed us to see the museum and all the additional vendors brought in for the day.  Since most of the people were out watching the tanks drive around the track, the museum was pretty empty most of the day, which was great.

Approaching the Tank Museum

I took over 500 pictures on Friday, but I’ve only included 25 or so in this blog post.  That isn’t really enough time to even hit the highlights.  Suffice to say, it was a great day.  We took our time, read all the signs, had a chance to talk to some of the reenactors, and just immerse ourselves in the development of tanks.  It is really cool to see in person tanks you have only seen in pictures.  It really gives you a sense of scale.  The small tanks are really small, and the large tanks are really large.  The magnitude of the differences really hits home when you get to see them in person, stand next to them, and touch them.

WWI Mk. IV tank

The initial exhibit traces the development of tanks in WWI.  I think we spent more than 90 minutes in just this section of the museum.

German machine-gun in the WWI trench display
A British tank approaches the trenches
Don, Eric, and me ready for action
Another view of this Mark IV tank
This is a Mark VIII, I think. It could hold 30 fully-equipped soldiers and is the first armored personnel carrier
The HAWKs Tankfest Expeditionary Force
Fascines atop a WWI tank

In many cases, there were glass windows cut into the WWI tanks so you could look inside them.  In other cases you could walk through them.

After the WWI exhibit, you enter the Hall of Tigers, dedicated to Tiger Tanks.

I found this sign particularly interesting. As the Tiger tank was so iconic, it is interesting just how few there were of them.
Me in front of a Tiger I tank in the Hall of Tigers

After the Hall of Tigers, we entered the WWII floor.  Again, I took over 500 photos, but I am only including a few.  It is very difficult to imagine the size of the museum and all the really investing vehicles on display.

An M5 Stuart light tank in the big display room
An M3 Stuart light tank
A German Stug. III
German Panzer II L
PzKfz 234/3
A duplex drive (DD) Sherman tank in the Hall of Tanks. You can see the Sherman through the window they have cut into the canvas skirt.
A French Char B
A Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go tank
A British Cruiser Mark V tank
A cutaway view of a British tank lets you see just how crowded a tank can be.

Then we entered my favorite part of the museum, the Hall of Tanks.  This traces the early development of the tank (on the left) through the Cold War (on the right).  There are a number of displays that allow you to view archival footage of many of the vehicles.  Note that despite this being Tankfest weekend, the crowds were low inside the museum.

A ball tank in the sci-fi tank exhibit
The model fortress in the sci-fi tank display

One of the interesting displays what was not here last year is a display of tank concepts throughout history.  There were probably 30 on display, but I only provide pictures of two here.

A French, Char-B on display.
A French FT-17 on display
Me next to a WWI tank
A German A7V reproduction ready to roll onto the field

There are a number of visiting, refurbished or reproduction tanks on the display, including those pictured.  Most of these are supposed to be driving around the track on Saturday.

There were a number of re-enactment groups set up around the periphery.  Some of the groups were very happy to interact with you.  Others seemed somewhat standoffish.

I have two of these for gaming, but this is the only time I have seen an airborne armored jeep in person.
Some weapons on display with the 29th infantry. You don’t often see some of these weapons.
An Army war correspondent
A group representing the 101st Airborne
A German “squeeze bore” gun in one of the reenactment group areas
The “barn.” As with most museums, a fair number of the artifacts cannot be put on display. For Tankfest this additional storage area was open to the public.

An thus ended our first day at Tankfest.  After an uneventful ride back to Poole, we had dinner in a local gastropub, watched a couple episodes of Hogan’s Heroes, and went to bed relatively early.

HAWKs Tankfest Tour (part 2 – The Imperial War Museum)

Eric, Duncan, and Don near Westminster

The next morning we checked out of our hotel, left our bags at the front desk, and got on the train.  Our intent was to hit the Churchill Cabinet War Rooms, the Imperial War Museum, and (if time permitted) the National Army Museum.  After an uneventful tube right to Westminster, we headed for the War Rooms only to find out that the wait was over two hours and that we should have booked our tour ahead.  I have been here before, and there has never been a wait, but apparently the recent Churchill movie has made the War Rooms immensely popular.  So we walked to the Imperial War Museum.

Don, Duncan, and Eric in front of the Imperial War Museum
Eric, Duncan, and Don…
The entrance hall of the Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum is free.  The lowest floor is mostly WWI, and it is quite well done.  It hadn’t changed — that I could tell — since I was here with my family last Summer, but it is nonetheless very nice.  I took a WWI class at West Point, and it is hard for Americans to grasp the impact of WWI on the British and the Commonwealth, where almost an entire generation was killed in France.

A WWI tank behind signs urging the US to enter WWI

We had planned to spend 90 minutes here and then head to the National Army Museum.  After two hours we had just completed the WWI section.  We decided to take the short, guided tour.  This tour highlighted displays on the first three levels of the museum.

Our guide for the highlights tour of the Imperial War Museum
Silhouettes of soldiers on a trench wall in the Imperial War Museum.

The tour was short but informative.

A WWI airplane at the Imperial War Museum
Some WWI weapons

After a short break for lunch in the cafe, we had about 45 minutes to take in some of the other exhibits before heading back to Paddington and our hotel to pick up our bags.

The front of a Lancaster bomber from WWII
A two-man submarine from WWII
A Smith gun

This was one of the more interesting displays for me, since I just bought one for gaming hypothetical Sea Lion scenarios.  It fired a 6-lb armor piercing shell that was useful out to 50 meters and an HE (anti personnel) shell out to a couple hundred meters.  When tipped on its side, the lower wheel became the traverse mechanism and the upper wheel provided some overhead protection.

So, we had intended to stay 90 minutes.  After four hours we hadn’t seen everything, but we had to get on the road.  We took the Great Western Railway train to Burnham where after another short walk (to Don’s dismay) we arrived at Enterprise to hire a car.  Most of us packed lightly, but Eric brought a steamer trunk, so I was a bit worried about whether we were going to fit.  While I filled out the paperwork, Duncan, Eric, and Don Tetrised our stuff into the boot.  I have to say that driving on the left side of the road is much easier the second time around.  In two hours we arrived in Poole and checked into our hotel.

Our hotel in Poole (a Holiday Inn Express). This is the only hotel we stayed in for two nights.

In London at the Mitre House, we could barely fit into the room, but the room here at the Holiday Inn Express in Poole was quite spacious.  We then took a mile walk to the seaside where we had our choice of several pubs and restaurants for dinner — along with some football hooligans.  We got to bed quite later (nearly 2300 GMT).

Lord Baden Powell at the Poole seaside

On the way back to the hotel, we passed this statue of Lord Baden Power, the greater of Boy Scouts.


HAWKs Tankfest Tour (part 1)

Arriving at our hotel in London.

Last year, I came to England with my family, and we had a great time.  A highlight for me was a visit to the Tank Museum in Bovington.  As with many museum visits, my family patiently put up with Bovington for a couple of hours and then kept hinting that it was time to leave.  So, I suggested that some of my wargaming buddies and I should head to England for Tankfest at Bovington and while there visits to some other military history museums.  Candy did the lion’s share of the work to pull this together.

The National Maritime Museum.

Our first, very, very long day involved the flight to London, train to Paddington Station, and check in at our hotel.  The we took a somewhat eventful tube ride to Greenwich.  I didn’t realize how far apart the North Greenwich and Greenwich tub stops were or that we had to transfer to the DLR.  Then none of the locals could tell us how to get a bus ticket to complete the trip. So after a little floundering, we arrived at the Maritime Museum.

The Maritime Museum is free.  We spent about two hours here, and we were able to see most of what was on display.

A handsome and study visitor to the Royal Maritime Museum.
A WWI era motor torpedo boat.

I found this model of a WWI-era motor torpedo boat very interesting.  A few years ago I wrote a set of wargaming rules for motor torpedo boat games in WWII.  I knew there were motor torpedo boats in WWI, but I had never seen one.  I am not sure how the torpedo was launched since it is facing into the boat, but I suspect the propellors were wound up, the torpedo was dropped, and the boat veered quickly to the side.

The main deck of the Cutty Sark.

After the Maritime Museum, we decided to visit the Cutty Sark, which was once the fastest ship in the world.

The ship’s bell.

We entered the Cutty Sark in the cargo hold, visited the tween deck, walked the main deck, and visited some of the cabins.

In the officer’s ward room aboard the Cutty Sark.

The ship was interesting, and there were some nice informational signs.  There were no docents to help explain things or answer questions.  Unlike the Constellation in Baltimore, there was not audio self-guided tour.  At 13 GBP, I thought there would be more explanation, but it was nonetheless a worthwhile experience.

The underside of the Cutty Sark. Note how the ship’s hull does not touch the ground. It was jacked up to prevent the hull from warping.

After the Cutty Sark, we stopped in a pub for dinner.  We were all beginning to run out of steam.

Finishing up out dinner in a Greenwich pub
Duncan, Don, and Eric at the Globe theater in London. Don had just take a happy pill.

In an effort to get our bodies on Greenwich Mean Time, we decided to attend a play in the Globe theater in London before returning to our hotel.  We saw the Shakespearean play A Winter’s Tale.  We were all fading, so  keeping up with the rapid, Elizabethan dialog and the proper accents was something of a challenge, particularly since I didn’t know the play. Last time in the Globe I saw The Taming of the Shrew, which is one of my favorite Shakespearean plays, and I liked that better, but it is always interesting to attend a play in the Globe.

This concluded day one.  We went back to our hotel after a longish walk along the Embankment to Waterloo Station and a short train ride to Paddington.  All the old timers said they had had enough walking.  Duncan’s fit bit measured us at nearly 18k steps.

Moro Supplement for Combat Patrol

I just posted the latest free supplement to Combat Patrol here:  http://www.bucksurdu.com/Buck_Surdu/Combat_Patrol.html

Like nearly all the supplements, this one is free.

This supplement includes optional rules to add to your Combat Patrol games for this theater.  We have had a lot of fun play testing this supplement through a variety of Moro games.  You can see examples on my blog if you search for “Moro.”


Pulp space ship

These have been sitting on my project table for a while, and I finally got around to finishing them this morning.

Space ship made from a Denny’s kid’s meal cup

The first one if made from a Denny’s kid’s meal cup.  I sprayed it gold about three years ago.  Today I painted the red fin, attached the rocket gun in the nose, and printed the door and other bits.  Like this, it looks very similar to the ships in the comics and the 1930’s serials.

Space ship made from a Bic pen promotional item.

This second ship was also spay painted gold three years ago.  This began life as a promotional sales item for Bic pens.  Those are the pens that look like this.

Now that I’ve shown you this picture, the resemblance to the space ship is pretty clear.  With a few doo dads and some stuff from the printer, this is a reasonably effective looking pulp-era space ship.

Another view of the Bic pen space ship

I have a lot of pulp-era space ships.  One of these days I’ll figure out how to get them into a game.

Beware the Drantakhs!

A full Drantakh squad divided into three fire teams

Over the weekend and this week I finished my Drantakh force.  The Drantakhs are figures manufactured by Badger Games.  They are science fiction figures with dinosaur-like heads.  The sculpting is nice, and the molding is almost without any flash.

A close up of one of the three fire teams that make up a Drantakh squad

In a previous post I showed the headquarters personnel and the heavy weapons.  This weekend I completed the rifle squads.  Most of my science fiction figures are organized like the US Army in squads of two fire teams.  I decided that the Drantakhs would be organized more on the US Marines model of a squad leader and three fire teams.  Without grenade launchers and light machine-guns in each team, this really doesn’t have much effect except that in Combat Patrol the squad will have four command dice instead of three, which should provide more flexibility and guard against those turns when no cards are drawn for any part of the squad.  It is subtle and doesn’t show up very well in these pictures, but the small arms on each of the three teams is a slightly different color to make it possible to tell the three teams apart on the table.

The two Drantakh tanks I finished last night

Lat night I completed two hover tanks to round out the Drantakh force.  These required no filing or sanding; they were very clean.  Some of the parts were on sprues and had to be cut off and trimmed a bit.  The figures and machine-guns are separate purchases. The hatches can be glued open or closed.

A close up of one of the two tanks.

The the Drantakh infantry wear’s sliver, Lost-in-Space-style suits, I decided that the tanks needed some sort of camouflage pattern.  (I came ver close to painting them silver too.)  I like the swoopy, almost Naboo look to the tanks.  While I’m not sure how you would manufacture such a vehicle, the shape of the hull would probably be very effective on the battlefield.  The pronounced turret ring means they probably lose a lot of turrets and tank commanders, but maybe they have a lot of turrets stockpiled to get the serviceable hulls back into the fight.

A close up of the other Drantakh tank

As suggested earlier, I’ll be using these with Combat Patrol(TM): WWII.  The rules work just fine for science fiction skirmish games.

Look, Sarge, No Charts: SciFi Play Test

Dave Wood (right) ran a LSNC: SciFi game at our recent HAWKs night.

Last club night, Dave Wood ran a play test of his Look, Sarge, No Charts: Science Fiction scenario fo Historicon 2018.  The rules have been under development, on and off, for a few years, and some aspects are starting to shape up.  In particular the cyber phase is working well.  I am not quite happy with the spotting rules; the issue of sensors and signatures makes things a little complicated for my tastes.

The Schlegel Boys ran one side during the game.

We haven’t gotten past the spotting stuff to start on RF spotting and RF-guided munitions.

Napoleonic Combat Patrol(TM) Play Test

A helicopter view of the start of the game.

The second play test game yesterday was a game Duncan will run at Historicon with the Napoleonic supplement to Combat Patrol(TM).  The scenario involved a supply convoy getting ambushed by Spanish guerrillas and Portuguese troops in a small town.

Getting started.
The convoy advances. French infantry has decimated by Portuguese in the woods with incredibly accurate musket fire.
French cavalry redeploy. In the bottom of the picture, you can see my other Portuguese have moved to the edge of the woods to fire on the convoy.
French cavalry advances into the town, where they are attacked by “Crazy Dave” and his Spanish guerillas.

Though my Portuguese and Crazy Dave’s Spanish were just about wiped out, the arrival of two fresh units of Cacadores caused the French to break player morale and concede victory.  It was a fun scenario with lots of action.

Combat Patrol(TM) in Little Basely by the Sea

A panoramic view of Little Basely by the Sea prior to hostilities.

I have been away for work quite a bit lately, so I haven’t had a chance to play test my scenarios for Historicon at regular club nights.  I invited a few folks over to play test one of Greg’s and my Sea Lion games and Duncan’s Combat Patrol(TM) Napoleonic games.

In this scenario, a German bomber has crashed near Little Basely by the Sea (a name I took from an old Avenger’s television show episode).  This bomber, however, wasn’t headed to London.  It’s mission was to secretly land some Fallschirmjaegers to cause trouble.  Since the German Navy and Luftwaffe don’t like each other, the Fallschirmjaegers were unaware that the Kriegsmarine was also landing a squad of soldiers near the coast to conduct reconnaissance.  In the meantime, the Home Guard was out on maneuvers and hears the bomber crash.

Getting read to begin the game.
The start of the game.

The units closest to the bomber crew were some Women’s Land Army girls out in the fields (two five-girl teams).  The bomber crew began the game stunned.  The bomber crew immediately dashed to the waiting petrol truck, but the Land Girls were in hot pursuit.

The German bomber has crashed near the town.
A closer look at the bomber.
Little Basely by the Sea — the calm before the storm. The buildings and roads are from Sally 4th’s photorealistic building collection. These are wonderful kits that go together easily and look great on the table.
The Women’s Land Army advances with shotguns and farm tools to capture the bomber crew.
The ladies postpone planning for the upcoming jumble sale and pinch the Vicar’s car to try to run over Jerry.
One Land Girl bravely resisted the molestations of the Fallschirmjaegers before being killed. The black bands represent stun. The red band represents a wound. The green markers on the Fallschirmjaeger’s command die represent morale checks that need to be made before the unit can activate again.
The home guard captures one of the Fallshirmjaeger equipment containers.
The Pubkeeper’s wife spots Germans rowing ashore in rubber rafts. The bunker is from Sally 4th. The figure is from Bad Squiddo.
The bomber crew have climbed aboard the petrol truck, but the ladies are in hot pursuit.
The Regulars were unable to stop the bomber crew in the petrol truck from driving to safety.
The home guard has absconded with the German equipment container while the action heats up in the back garden’s and allotments.
The Home Guard passes out German rifles to the Women’s Land Army ladies.
Germans land on the beach in rubber rafts.
The petrol truck with the remainder of the bomber crew makes it to the coast. The Germans who landed in the rubber rafts, set up a beachhead to protect the bomber crew and await the arrival of the Fallschirmjaegers. (They don’t know that the Women’s Land Army and the British Regulars have killed half of them already.)
The Germans who landed in rubber rafts engage in a melee with the church ladies while the bomber crew transfers from the petrol truck to two rafts. The car had bogged down in the woods, as the ladies were trying avoid scratching the vicar’s paint. It was a hard-fought melee, but it ended with just two dead Germans and four dead church ladies. The fifth church lady (named Felicity Kendall) had fled the action and taken cover near one of the bunkers.

At this point, we stopped the game to make sure we had time to test Duncan’s Napoleonic game.  I will make a few small adjustments to the scenario before the convention, but in general it worked well.






Drantakh Empire Troopers

Badger Games (https://shop.badgergames.com/category.sc?categoryId=87) carries these really neat Drantakh troops.  Greg suggested that I paint them with the original Lost in Space silver jump suits.

I completed the heavy weapons and command group figures.  I will begin working on the rank-and-file riflemen soon.

Some Drantakh command troops
Drantakh command group figures
Drantakh anti-tank rocket launchers
Drantakh heavy machine-gun crews
Drantakh mortar teams
Drantakh flame thrower and heavy laser thingy

I also recently ordered the tanks for the Drantakh.  I really like these figures and plan to pit them against my Pig Iron troops soon using Combat Patrol(TM): WWII.