Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of historical and fantasy miniatures wargaming and model building. From 15mm Flames of War, to Warhammer 40K, to 1/35th scale tanks, with some potential surprises on the horizon - you'll find them here!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Book Review: AK Interactive's Middle East Wars 1948-1973

In anticipation of the upcoming Fate of a Nation release for Team Yankee / Flames of War, I've been planning out my armies and looking for additional good references to get them all painted up and ready to go. AK Interactive has released a book covering the Middle East Wars from 1948 to 1973, and it is a rare gem. Packed with color photos and illustrations throughout, the book covers the major conflicts in the region in good detail, and at a price of €20,95, or about $25 U.S., it's a pretty good deal as well.

The book opens with an introduction giving a little of the history of the region and its conflicts from the Israeli War of Independence through the Yom Kippur War, and then moves on to discussing vehicles on a nation by nation, rather than a conflict by conflict, basis. The opening chapter is a bit light, but covers British and French vehicles used in the Suez Crisis of 1956. There is a very large chapter covering Egyptian vehicles in all their dizzying variety. Jordan, unfortunately, does not receive nearly the same level of attention and is lumped into a chapter with Algeria. The chapter covering Syrian vehicles is extremely detailed, and the variety of camouflage schemes used is amazing. This section closes with a chapter covering Israeli vehicles which are no fewer in number, but generally have less variety in paint schemes.

A couple of images from the Egyptian section

The book then goes on to discuss Arab vehicles captured by the IDF - largely in the 1967 War which were employed against their former owners in the 1973 War. This section is very useful because it shows many of the vehicles in their original Arab camouflage schemes. The book closes with a couple of chapters detailing surviving vehicles - many of which are at the Israeli Armored Museum at Latrun.

Overall the book is a treasure trove of images that anyone building a force for the upcoming Fate of a Nation release could use as inspiration. There are a couple of errors I've noted, most of which I think could be translation issues (referring to Sherman HVSS and VVSS suspensions as Horizontal "Volt" and Vertical "Volt" rather than Volute), but there are extremely minor and don't detract from the work as a whole. Overall I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in this period either from a modeling or wargaming perspective.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Markings for My NVA Vehicles - Peddinghaus Comes Through!

Good markings, numbering, and insignia can make or break an modeling or miniature building project. In the past I've created my own decals and markings for projects like the Soviet 1st Mechanized Corps for my lend-lease Soviet army as well as my 502 Schwere Panzer-Abteilung force. It is, however, a fairly tedious process and I hadn't intended to make my own markings for my East German force as Battlefront produced decals (TY014) included in the T-55AM2 kit, and available separately. Unfortunately I've had many issues with my decals cracking and fragmenting, so I went in search of alternatives.

Battlefront Decals - I'd hoped these would work, but have had several issues...

Peddinghaus decals in Germany has a very nice set of numbers and markings for East German vehicles in 1/87 scale which I'd picked up previously, but they're just a bit big for the 15mm (1/100 scale) Battlefront miniatures. I contacted Peddinghaus to see if they could or would run up enough 1/100 versions of the decals to make a go of the overall project, and needless to say, they came through in a BIG way! The photo below shows the original set of markings with numbers in 1/87 at top left, the Battlefront decals at right, and the 1/100 roundels at the bottom.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Book Review: All the Gallant Men

I'd read an article about Donald Stratton's memoir All the Gallant Men in an article online and put it on my Amazon list for "later." My sister and brother-in-law were kind enough to pick the book up for me for Christmas, and I must say that the book lived up to the strong reviews and press it received. Donald Stratton is currently in his mid-90s, and is one of only a handful of living survivors of the attack on the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941 during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Born and raised in rural Nebraska, Stratton paints a rare and absolutely unflinching portrait of life during the Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. He is brutally honest about the hardships faced by his family and the rest of the state on a daily basis. Levels of deprivation thankfully rare today in the United States, but which were all too typical then. Yet these same hardships seem to foster a sense of perseverance in Stratton and many of his generation preparing them for the horrors ahead.

Source: Wikipedia

Stratton's sense of pride when being assigned to the Arizona is palpable. His thoughtful and heartfelt characterizations of his fellow crewmen help you understand these men not mere statistics or caricatures in some Hollywood movie, but real people who had real dreams, goals, and aspirations which were in far too many cases cut brutally short.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Plan 2018 or "Where do we go from here?"

In the early 1990s, then Intel CEO Andy Grove borrowed a mathematical concept and coined the term strategic inflection point to refer to those points in time where businesses must make a critical change to their normal operating process or face a period of declining revenue, or even the failure of the company itself. In some ways 2017 represents an "inflection point" in my hobbies both in terms of capabilities and interests. Therefore, in 2018 my plan it to try and exercise some of those new capabilities and (hopefully) get more done in less time...  Stop laughing!  No REALLY!

In case you missed my most recent Volksarmee progress update, my wonderful wife got me a spray booth (it's even portable!) for Christmas. I am only beginning to understand what opportunities this opens up, but in short, it's "a lot." Not only does this allow me to have a semi-permanent base for my airbrushing, but it allows the use of lacquer paint inside the house (watch this space). Because I'm not relegated to a cold garage or utility room, my paints will consistently be at a better operating temperature as well getting me better results. I also don't have the overhead of having to set up the whole assembly any time I want to pull out the airbrush - which is a major game changer!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

NVA Build Log - Painting Progress on T-72 and BMP Formations

I know it's been a while since I posted an update on my East Germans for Team Yankee. Rest Assured I've been working on them steadily, and I'm finally to the point where I can show some progress on the miniatures. They still have a ways to go before they're fully painted, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it isn't a train!

Because full modulation colors don't exist for the NVA late 1980's camouflage scheme, I decided early on to go with the Black and White technique using Ammo of Mig paints. This is in effect a pre-shading technique using their proprietary thinner which makes the colored paints semi-transparent better preserving the pre-shading. I started with the T-72's and the BMP's because they were fairly numerous (15 of each), but even at that I think they only represent about half of the force or a little less.

BMP and T-72 tanks with the black and white applied

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Armor of the Arab-Israeli Wars - or - Mike's Visit to Yad La-Shiryon Part 4

With the new update of Fate of a Nation on the horizon for Team Yankee, I wanted to pick up where I left off with my photos from the Latrun armor museum.  In this installment we move on to the self-propelled guns. As with any modern force, Israel has required self-propelled artillery capable of keeping up with their armored advances. The IDF has used a variety of models over the years, and this entry will detail several of them including models purchased outright and those converted by the IDF itself into unique vehicles.

Known in Israeli usage as the Romach (spear or lance), the M107 175mm SPG is a fairly devastating platform. Used by the U.S. army through the 1960's and 1970's, the M107 lacks the enclosed fighting compartment seen on many self-propelled guns and howitzers. The reason for this is because of the gun's extreme range (21mi / 34km in its standard configuration), it is generally not expected to come under direct ground assault. The IDF used the type to great effect during the 1973 Yom Kippur War using the gun to target Egyptian SAM batteries in the south and to shell Damascus in the north once Israeli forces had broken through in the Golan. These were later upgraded with new ammunition increasing their range to 50km.

The M107 175mm SPG and a few of its friends

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Why We Game - Redux

In May 2016, the guys over at WWPD (What Would Patton Do?) wrote an article entitled "Why We Game" where they discussed the state of things at WWPD, a loss of interest in Flames of War, which had served as one of the foundations of the blog and podcast, and other challenges. They also brought in a few new guest authors (including me) to provide content for the site - especially for gaming systems they had less interest in at that point. Over the last year and a half I've written several articles for WWPD, though not as many as I would have liked, and over the past several weeks many of these have been making their way to the pages of this blog.

The reason for that can be found in today's post on the WWPD blog.  There's a final podcast as well. This represents the end of the line for WWPD - no new content or podcasts, and one of the staples of what many consider to be the golden age of Flames of War will be gone. Other blogs, such as Breakthrough Assault have already been filling the role as previewer and release partner for Battlefront so in some ways this represents the passing of the torch, but more than that I think it represents the end of an era marking a fundamental shift in what could be collectively referred to as the "Battlefront Community." I for one will greatly miss the guys over at WWPD as their contributions over the years have nothing short of awesome, and I wish them the absolute best in any future pursuits!

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

In retrospect and purely from my own personal perspective, 2017 has been simultaneously a good year and a terrible year when it comes to miniatures gaming. We finally moved into our new home and I was able to not only have my own studio for model building and miniature painting but set up a proper gaming room as well. This means I can run miniatures wargames with terrain in the comfort of my own home, which I actually managed to do during the recent Firestorm campaign - and my son was able to get in on the fun!

As with any new space, I'm still working out the bugs and planning next steps. I really need to set up a proper spray booth area, but right now our "mud room" is doing fine. I'm hoping to pick up an airbrush spray booth after the first of the year, and I'll post the details once I have them! I also want to build a game table along the lines of what you used to be able to get from the now defunct Geek Chic. I have a carpenter friend who is willing to help out on the project too. Again, more photos when available!