British Steel: Matilda II in VBCW!

And ‘Boney’ Fuller too!

So Majestic! So Slow!

There has been a lot of 15mm Flames of War stuff on my blog recently, but that doesn’t mean I have forgotten my other projects. A setting I was eagerly wanting to return to was the Very British Civil War. But how to make it a nice, dramatic return?

I figured the easiest way was a big, chunky piece of British Armour. After much research to see if it was plausible(more on that later!), I decided on an early Matilda II. These tanks were a nasty surprise to the Germans in 1940, how bad would they be in 1938 in a civil war?

My printing set-up has not dealt with full-plates as well as I would have hoped, and watching this print was nerve-ranking. A corner of the raft was peeling off the bed, yet somehow despite everything the tank printed mostly fine!

Not pictured: A failed print! Huzzah!

Actually, as far as I can tell, it is good enough for table use. This is a file from the legendary M_Bergman on Thingiverse, and was originally scaled at 1:100th for 15mm use. I used Wargaming3D’s suggestion of scaling it up to 28mm, using 178.57% as my scaling guide. While I still think it might be a hair too small, all of my other 15mm rescaled VBCW uses the same scale number so it’ll match.

The file has tons of options, and I opted for a British Expeditionary Force version. I’m hoping that is it is a close enough resemblance to the early marks from 1937-39.

The business end of the 2-pounder. Weak by 1940 standards, but quite powerful for the Interwar period!

Now, this is a controversial tank to use. Most VBCW tanks are much older, 1920’s or early 1930’s designs. However, by June 1938 an order was placed for 140 of these wonderful tanks. Work was slow, and in our timeline only two were completed by 1939.

This early model has a ‘trench tail’

I’m both speeding that up and slowing it down for my particular rendition of VBCW. The first production models were made by Vulcan Foundry in Lancashire. From here on out, it is all alternate history, be warned!

Rather conveniently, Lancashire falls under Royalist control early on. With war kicking off, the Government forces are desperate for these behemoths to enter service, and an inter-service tug of war kicks off on who gets to use these, the BUF’s Armoured Corp led by General Fuller, or the British Army’s Royal Tank Regiment. With two vehicles completed, it is decided that they will see service as ‘breakthrough’ tanks, and General Fuller pushes for the BUF to be granted use of them to break the Liverpool Free State. One is sent via rail to break that Socialist stronghold. The second is sent to the southern front, to be based out of London and sent via rail to where it is most needed. Production is however slow, and reinforcements of this ‘Queen of the Battlefield’ is held up by lack of supplies.

I see these behemoths being used much like a King Tiger would be in Bolt Action; Prohibitively expensive, but capable of controlling the battlefield like nothing else in this timeline can. Short of the French selling Char B1’s to Anglican forces, very little has this kind of armour. However it is painfully slow.

I am considering using this as a scenario only tank, with the capability of it being captured! Those rail-lines are only so secure after all…

With troops next to it!

But wait, what is this?

Oh yeah, its General Fuller time.

This is a fantastic rendition of J.F.C Fuller, who in this timeline is a major player in the BUF military wing, by Footsore Miniatures. I got him with my intial VBCW order, and have been waiting for a moment to paint him up!

Fuller was a major advocate of early modern tank tactics, and helped plan the usage of tanks at the Battle of Cambrai. His ideas were shunned in his own country….but were adopted by such figures as Heinz Guderian in Nazi Germany, who paid to translate Provisional Instructions for Tank and Armoured Car Training into German. He was the only foreigner present at Nazi Germany’s first armed maneuvers in 1935. In 1939, as a guest of Adolf Hitler, he witnessed a parade held in the Fuhrer’s honour. When Hitler asked him “I hope you were pleased with your children?” Fuller responded with “Your Excellency, they have grown up so quickly that I no longer recognise them.”

In WW2 he was sidelined because of his rather obvious Nazi sympathies. In VBCW, he has seen considerably more success. How successful is up to each individual club or groups lore, but as discussed with my friend I have made him a Major General in the BUF, leading a Armoured Corp set up along his doctrines.

A gorgeous model, that I hope I even slightly did justice too. His facial features are finely detailed.
I purposely used a shinier wash on his black uniform, as if he is meticulously cleaning it. The badges are sculpted with detail and picked out nicely. The medal bar was harder: I sort of just dabbed colours onto it.
Done up in my traditional basing scheme!

All in all, a productive evening! My hands decided to cooperate today and remain steady, which made General Fuller doable.

We are expecting a large snowfall tonight, so it will be a while before I can get the Matilda painted. Which gives me time to consider which of my VBCW forces gets it! I’m tempted due to my royalist leanings to give it to the Royal Tank Regiment, but Fuller has strings he can pull to procure it for the BUF. I’ll print two eventually, but for now I am torn.

Well, I hope you enjoyed today’s ramblings, and I’ll more to show you folks soon! Happy Wargaming wherever you are, and stay safe everyone!

Mobile Coffins: Italian M13/40 Tanks!

North African Reinforcements!

It’s so cute! And deadly too…to its crew!

When you think of North Africa in WW2, you think Crusaders, Panzer IVs and IIIs, Tigers, Grants. And rightly so, as all these tanks carved out a reputation, for good or ill!

I particularly like that the designer of this STL included stowage. I often forget to add it. The sandbags are a nice touch, a bit of a desperate move by Italian crews that only further slowed the tank down.

This tank, an Italian M13/40, is unfortunately more on the ‘ill’ side. A dated design even as it just started reaching units, this tank wasn’t as bad as it could be. It had reasonable armament, decent armour in comparison to its British foes, and a good deal of machine guns. However, it lacked speed, often-times radios, and was not something their would-be crews had training in. A recipe for disaster.

Still, it at least looks like a tank. Can’t say that for most early-mid Italian designs!

However, they were plentiful, and these tanks made up a good deal of the Afrika Korps, people often forget that not only were Italians part of the unit, Rommel was actually out-ranked by the Italians in theatre! In my previous post, I showed an interest in doing El Alamein and North Africa in general. Not having even a token Italian contingent would be an unfortunate oversight.

Eight of them, enough for two platoons. The commanders ride is on the printer for tomorrow!

In Flames of War, specifically the Avanti book for Mid-War, this tank isn’t present. However, the book does feature its replacement, the M14/41, and this tank, the M13/40, are very, very similar. I’m hoping that among my small play-group, I can use these as suitable proxies. I certainly won’t be carting these off to a tournament, but they will do to test my theory.

The theory is that I can take a minimum size company of these rolling deathtraps as mobile bunkers, as they do have quite a few machine guns. The folks over at Battlefront have been rather generous with their stats.

Hobby
Well, that is a pleasant stat-card, make no mistake!

The M14/41 has been given HEAT ammo to represent early Italian faffing around with such ammo types, quite successful attempts at that! It also has great crew stats that can only get better with a good roll at the beginning of the game. Most happily for me is the sheer amount of machine-guns it packs. Sure, it has only Firepower 6, but against infantry that roll doesn’t matter. And you pay very little in points for such firepower.

I have to admit, these things are growing on me.

I have an Avanti book on its way to me, along with the unit card park and command cards. While due to Lockdown I won’t be getting a game in anytime soon, that simply gives me more time to work on these little beauties.

I still have to clean up some supports, but they came out rather cleanly.

All in all, an easy evenings print. It had been a while since I fired up my 3D printers, and I was starting to think I lost my groove. I’m happy to be proven wrong, and to get some tanks out of it!

Anyways, I need to get some sleep. Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and stay safe everyone!

End of the Beginning: El Alamein in Flames of War!

The decisive battle of the Western Desert Campaign, and a turning point in the war. Time to play it!

“Here we will stand and fight; there will be no further withdrawal. I have ordered that all plans and instructions dealing with further withdrawal are to be burnt, and at once. We will stand and fight here. If we can’t stay here alive, then let us stay here dead. I want to impress on everyone that the bad times are over.”- General Bernard Montgomery

It was the day before New Years, and I can see the mistake already unfolding. Having now built up and rather enjoyed making my Late War British Army for Flames of War, and the weather making me unable to undercoat models, I had a thought…what harm would it be collecting a Mid-War British 8th Army force, just for fun?

The price tag of such a force, that I really didn’t think would see much play, was pretty large and almost put me off entirely. Of course, at that same moment I found this, on the website of a store getting out of Flames of War.

I smudged out the price, as I don’t want to get into how much money I spent, or even saved!

This, frankly, was a staggering amount of models. While lacking infantry it covered the armoured side of things quite comprehensively. I had just gotten paid….while I won’t get into details of how much I spent, I will say I saved an insane amount of money, to the tune of hundreds.

I didn’t truly realize what I had gotten myself into until I opened the very large parcel.

Bloody hell, that is a lot of plastic.

It is well over what I can foreseeably use all at once, but I have many options to make varied lists out of. I got cracking the same day, and after a while, got Monty’s Desert Rats out of the way. This consisted of three Crusaders, five Grants, and two 17/25 Pounder ‘Pheasant” Anti-Tank guns.

The Grant is one of my favourite WW2 tank designs. It was arguably the best tank the British had in North Africa until they got the Sherman
A ridiculously tall tank, with both a 37mm and 75mm guns.
Crusaders! Much faster but pay for it with thin armour and anemic weaponry. I’m going to have to rush around the flanks for kills with these tanks!
A quite good looking tank, which shows that looks count for nothing when it comes to performance!
The 17/25 Pounder is a prototype or early production 17 Pounder on a 25 Pounder gun carriage. It’s ugly, but when Tigers are on the prowl, you’ll take what you can get!
It is quite an imposing Anti-Tank gun. I quite like the look of them!

Next up I assembled a troop of Valentine II tanks, sturdy Infantry Tanks meant to keep up with and provide support to infantry…at the cost of speed. Valentines are slow!

The Valentine was a well armoured but tiny tank. They suffered from cramped fighting compartments and anemic weaponry until replaced. Still, it is very good at supporting an infantry advance!
It is actually quite staggering how small these Valentines are! The turret barely fits two men, and with only a 2 Pounder you’ll need to get lucky to get kills.

A 6-Pounder platoon provides some light-AT options. While I also have the large 17 Pounders, there may come a time when I want something less overkill.

Four 6 Pounder guns, ready to strike out. These are quite competent anti-tank guns.
The base is getting awfully cramped!

A Motor Platoon gives my force some infantry, best at taking and holding ground. The detail isn’t as good as the late war British infantry, but they’ll suffice.

A motor platoon, notably missing the ‘motor’ part. I intend to buy some trucks to carry these men into battle, even if they are just for show!
The detail isn’t bad, but the late war infantry are notably better. I still like my rolled sleeves and shorts, so I quite like the look of these guys!

A few Humber Scout Cars help me keep tab on the wily Germans. The Humber is a rather large vehicle, and will help me get my Grants where they need to go.

A metal/resin kit, these weren’t too bad for assembly. Still, I would have preferred plastic.
The detail isn’t too bad however, and with my over-used radio using Tank Commander, it looks the business.

Of course, seeing as neither of my two gaming groups have opposing Mid-War forces at the moment, I thought how bad would it be if I made a small Afrika Korps list to demo the setting and game with? They would be considerably cheaper, as their stuff generally costs a great deal more points.

With one already built tank but the rest on sprue, I got a good deal here.

With that, and a cheaply snagged box of Rommel’s Afrika Korps secured, I started yet another army! While I have only a few models complete, here is what I have started with.

Unfortunately, the built tank was built rather poorly, and the turret was glued stuck to the hull. The other two I built, with long 75mm guns. I might grab a single Panzer IV from somewhere else to replace this one!
The Panzer IV cuts a great profile. A damn good design, and probably the best German tank in the desert. The Tiger was good, but realistically it was overkill.
Panzer IIIs are the mainstay of my German force, and I’ll need three more built for my list. Luckily, I have them!
The mainstay of the German Afrika Korps, the Panzer III offers me a solid tank, with a good gun, and excellent crew stats.

So those are the models! I still have a lot to build, and I’m really looking forward to getting them all done before Lockdown is over.

Now, El Alamein and the North African theatre of conflict hold special places in my heart. My Grandfather served there, and ‘getting it right’ matters a great deal to me. And it is an ideal front to cover with the Flames of War ruleset.

A great picture of plucky infantry capturing a German Panzer.

El Alamein is rightly considered one of the turning points for the Western Allies. As a wargaming subject, you can certainly do much worse! With easily available maps of the battlefield, I’m hoping to make a table that can easily represent different parts of the battle with ease.

With the Qattara Depression preventing Rommel’s signature outflanking move, the British were able to force Rommel to fight a defensive battle, or risk a dangerous assault on prepared positions. This was not something he could do with the supplies he had!

I’m hoping I can snag a player or two locally, after Lockdown is over, to play out some battles on the Alamein front. Luckily, seeing as the rules are quite similar to Team Yankee, it shouldn’t take long to teach. My friends in the city have decided that if I’m willing to do Late War for them, they can do Mid War for me, and Patton’s Fighting First will hopefully see my table. My other friend is going for the Afrika Korps as well, using a different type of list then what I am using.

I’m gunning for you, Rommel!

But that is all I have for you folks today. My recent foot surgery has gone slightly awry, and I’m stuck on bedrest. More time to plan the battles to come! Next time I post about Alamein, I’ll have terrain sorted for it, and some more models built to fight it.

So, Happy War-gaming wherever you are! And Stay Safe everyone!