Monday 7 December 2015

Waiting for the great leap forward

I don't know if it's because 2016 is a Leap Year, but I have just noticed this blog has 366 followers, one for each day of next year.

Friday 27 November 2015

Just about Vintage....

I think the content of this post qualifies as Vintage Wargaming, as it uses some very old rules - Lionel Tarr's "Modern Warfare" set - and also some old Triang rubber buildings.

So I wanted to try a few things out:

firstly, could I temporarily set up a wargames table in my front room
secondly, my recently added to collection of old TSS hex tiles as terrain
thirdly, some of my interwar stuff
fourthly, some possible war for interwar action with a reasonable amount of armour involved

Things I learned:

I couldn't get decent light for photos in November; I need to replace the LED lights with brighter ones if I want to be able to take decent pics
Size of table - I have two folding tables, each 4 foot by 2.5 foot, but each with two additional 2 x 2.5 foot leaves which fit in an expanding metal frame. I can fit an 8 x 5 table but not with a lot of room to manoeuvre round so will try 6 x 5 next

I tried a cut down version of the old Lionel Tarr "Modern Warfare" (i.e. WW2 rules). This took out the 88s and heavy tanks etc. They worked surprisingly well for what I wanted (very bloody for the infantry and especially cavalry). I will try Rompan el Fuego next.

I wouldn't have called this VBCW, it was interwar and trying to represent an Army Exercise from around 1935/6. I used a little historical licence so I could include Morris Martel tankettes and Burford Kegresse half track MG Carriers. The basic idea was the King's aircraft (DH Rapide of the Royal Flight) had made a landing forced by mechanical failure at a civilian aerodrome.

His side (Westland) had rushed heavy AA cover and the latest sound detection to the aerodrome and surrounding area to protect against air attack.

There was a small LDV garrisons at a nearby village

which sent three companies to defend the airfield, along with a Schneider half track armored car and an 18 pdr truck mounted gun.

Two coys LDV remained in the village with two gun armed  Vickers 6 tonners, which would need activation to move.

At the far end of the table a police barracks contained a battalion strength unit of armed police, with armoured transport and cars, and 4 Mk VI light tanks. All these units would need activation.

A small road ran the length of the table, half way across. At the far end from the aerodrome a company of regular infantry, a cavalry regiment, and a twin MG armed 6 tonner assembled to advance on this line to the aerodrome.

A railway station (Nissen Hut) lay on the far edge of the table, diagonally opposite the aerodrome, with a narrow gauge railway line running to the aerodrome. A regular infantry battalion was at the station awaiting transport.

When successfully activated this would be provided by an armoured train, armed with anti tank rifles and Lewis guns.

Originally my intention was to have the Eastland force traversing the length of the table to reach the aerodrome where two gliders would land a small force with the intention of seizing and holding until relieved (a la Market Garden). However, in the end the table was not long enough so instead I went for a large opportunistic armoured raid all along the long edge of the table.

Bearing in mind this was a test to see how the Lionel Tarr rules would cope with a lot of infantry and a fair number of armoured vehicles rather than any attempt at a balanced action, Eastland had a medium tank battalion (3 coys each of 3 Vickers medium tanks, all MK II except for one MK III in command), a light tank battalion (3 coys 3 light tanks, 6 MK II and 3 Vickers Command tanks), and a battery of 2 SP Birch guns. There was an armoured car section with 1920 pattern Rolls Royces and a recce section with 4 Morris Martel tankettes -- 2 1-man and 2 2-man.

Infantry included militia well provided with Lewis guns;

and LDV auxiliary sabotage unit, together with AA (Automobile Association) transport.

The militia occupied a large hill to the left of the railway line, along with an artillery OP. Other infantry included 2 or 3 companies each of regulars, and an auxiliary police unit. There were two companies of the 1st DLI in their role as an experimental MG battalion.One company had Vickers Utility tractors as MG Carriers and  the game's only anti tank gun (towed tracked 20mm Oerlikon).

The second company was mounted in Crossley Kegresse softskin half tracks, with two armoured Burford Kegresse MG carriers and four Morris Martel tankettes in support.

The glider landing was activated in move one. Two gliders hit the landing zone exactly, blocking the runway for any possible escape by aircraft, and landing a battalion of LDV troops behind the terminal defenders.

Eastland made a general advance along the long side of the table and advanced to the railway line.

In two moves they reduced the defenders of the terminal and took control of the airfield. While Westland had more modern armour there was less of it and they struggled to activate it.

The Birch guns were spectacularly successful, taking out the dangerous truck gun with ranged fire and the armoured train, when it appeared, along with the battalion it had entrained, over open sights. Cavalry regiment v MG armed light tanks ended badly for the cavalry. The only a/t gun, the DLIs 20mm, only had one shot and caused no damage. (Doctrine at the time was the best anti tank gun was another tank so this was quite historical). The armoured train's Boys ATR took out one Vickers medium and one of the gun armed 6 tonners another, but that was the total extent of Eastland's armoured losses.

Westland would have been better off putting their troops inside the terminal rather than on the roof. Troops under cover lose quarter casualties. Eastland would have been unable to shell the terminal in case the aircraft's passengers were inside, so the Westland troops might have managed to hold out for longer.

The Birch Guns were queen of the battlefield but did not use their mobility at all, so towed artillery could have been just as effective. Hopefully next time they will be able to take a fuller part. Given they can also be used in an anti aircraft role, you wonder what they or their successors could have achieved against the Blitzkrieg, or in the Early Desert.

With the aerodrome firmly in Eastland's hands, and strong armoured and infantry forces facing them everywhere, Eastland conducted a general withdrawal of their remaining police, LDV and Naval shore party survivors, with their two remaining Mk VI light tanks.

While very one sided this was a good run out for the general set up, the kit, the terrain and the rules

Next up is going to be c 1936 British v Russians.

- the less familiar T18s and T24s, with possibly a T 28 or two.

Monday 2 November 2015

More from Vickers Armstrrong

A while ago the Evening Chronicle published a gallery of photos from the Tyne & Wear Museum Service relating to Vickers Armstrong, ranging from around 1900 to 1948.

They can be found here and form an interesting addition to the pictures which now sit on the Interwar Tank Development Blog.

Among the interesting things:

#1 Shervick Tractors - manufactured from cut down British Shermans in 1948 for use in the Ground Nut Scheme;

#6 1931 pattern Vickers-Carden-Loyd amphibious tank swimming in the River Tyne

#19 the handsome armoured cars based on Morris Commercial D chassis which were sold to Siam

#8 the rather bizarre man cages

#7 Carden Loyd Mk VIs

Thursday 17 September 2015

Thanks Half a Million

The blog has recently marked its 500,000th page view. Thanks to all the actual readers and the virtual webbots who have made this possible.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

A disappointing landmark

I've just noticed that due to what seems to have been a surge of robot activity in the last couple of days the total page views for the site have gone over 500,000.

I would have preferred to do this through actual readers, but there you go.

Saturday 5 September 2015

Interwar or VBCW?

What they would have been fighting for...

I have been having a think about my current interwar interest and while there is some overlap with the VBCW (Very British Civil War) I have decided it is very definitely interwar. This might partly because 20mm is less well served than 28mm for specifically VBCW figures, but also because I am a little suspicious of some of the more fanciful VBCW flourishes and because it tends to operate at a skirmish or small action scale.. I want to fight brigade size actions. Everything is temporarily on hold as I am having some painting done in the hose but when this is finished I hope to get some troops on the table.I need to try out various rules but at the moment I am wondering whether I should try Donald Featherstone's 1917 WW1 in Africa rules and see what sort of a game they give.

Working on possible opposition is interesting. Nationalist Spain (attempt to seize Gibraltar), The Old Enemy (French interwar kit is so cool), Italy, and the USSR are all possibilities. I have all these available, plus a horde of FT 17s which should work for just about anyone. I have always been inspired by the "tank chase" at the end of "Comrade X" and the recent availability of some of the Fabbri Russian tank diecasts at The Works led to me looking at some of the other models in the range and I am now waiting on some T-18s and T-24s from ebay and the Ukraine which should provide some good looking and unusual kit. Not hugely representative (though I have shed loads of T-26s) but interesting and different. It is all conjectural anyway so I am giving myself some historical leeway.

Another project I hope to progress once I have some temporary gaming space is Georland and refighting some of the actions in George Keef's Journal. I am planning on using slightly adapted Command and Colors Napoleonic to give a suitable swift game. I have a hex fleece mat from Corsec Engineering for this and will start using Minifigs S Range Crimean War and Franco Prussian War troops. Ideally I would like to use Spencer Smith Classic 30mm but I can't fund that at the moment, i would be a long term aim as I would need at least 500 foot and 100 mounted figures and they would all need assembly and painting. (Actually their 42mm Shiny Toy Soldiers would probably be the nearest to George Keef's original armies but there needs to be some compromise on size and cost).

Meanwhile here are some pictures of my inter war armoured might. With a few swaps of vehicles they will work for a period between around 1924 and 1936 and a fair amount will do for 1940 BEF..

Saturday 1 August 2015

The Same Old ... "Mud"

Pathe News from the 1932 Westland/Eastland exercises. Notable for the Carden Loyds and 1924 pattern Rolls Royce armoured cars of the 11th Hussars.

However the most intriguing vehicle is the REME detachment in a Burford Kegresse MG Carrier half track at the end.

Speed and More Speed is the Watchword of the Army Today

Further to the discussion in comments with Jim over whether the 1st DLI was an experimental machine gun battalion between 1934 and 1936 or not, a little digging has turned up two more things.

Firstly, in Faithful: The Story of the Durham Light Infantry, by S G P Ward , published in 1962, there is a similar account to that on the Durham Light Infantry 1920-1946 site - indeed almost identical, which suggests Ward's account may be the source for the web site. As Ward was writing less than 30 years after the event (a similar distance then to now and the Falklands War), and as he talked to and corresponded with a large number of ex DLI officers and men, it is unlikely that any inaccuracy in this account would have gone without notice or comment.

Second is the above clip from British Pathe news, on the Army Exercises in Sussex 1936. These are near or contemporaneous with the photograph in the Noel Ayliffe-Jones article on infantry in the Airfix magazine interwar series, and have two sequences showing the 1st Battalion DLI in MG Carriers based on the Vickers Utility Tractor - either Tractor, Light GS, Mk I or Mk Ia. These vehicles seem likely also to have been from B Company - the names Bunty, Barty and Bonzo can be seen, in addition to Bingo which appears in the Airfix magazine article, The vehicles are clearly marked Durham LI and the DLI cap badge can be seen.

This is certainly enough evidence for me that the 1st Battalion DLI was indeed an experimental Machine Gun battalion between 1934 and 1936 and for me to raise it for the wargames table.

Interestingly, if you view the film on the British Pathe site, instead of on YouTube, you have the option of viewing it as stills: The two DLI sequences are in stills 8-11 and 26-38.

Friday 31 July 2015

David Fletcher's Tank Museum Tank Chats on TouTube

In pursuit of my current interwar interest I have just come across these.

The Tank Museum have published a set of short films about some of the vehicles in the collection, presented by David Fletcher MBE, and titled Tank Chats. These are available on YouTube (below).

I have set up a new page on the Interwar Tank Development blog to post these in a more permanent way.

The ones of particular interwar interest are:

#2 Carden Loyd

#3 Vickers Medium Tank MkII*

#4 Vickers Armstrong Type E

#5 Lanchester Armoured Car

Others in the series are

#1 The A13 Cruiser

#6 Vickers Light Mark VI B

#7 Mark II

An ideal way to use up a few spare minutes

Saturday 25 July 2015

Friday 24 July 2015

Update on Interwar Tank Development blog

Breamish have kindly digitised the reamaining photographs from the second Vickers Armstrong Lts d album and sent them to me. I have addes these in a small number of new pots on the Tank Development blog. They include a couple of photos of the A1E1 under construction, plus the Vickers 16 tonners, more Vickers Mediums, the 18 pdr gun transporter and the Armstrong Siddeley Dragon.

The blog can be found here.

Thursday 23 July 2015

Airfix magazine 1979 - interwar articles by Noel Ayliff-Jones

I am indebted to Charles, who while contacting me about something else pointed me to a series of articles in Airfix magazine in the second half of 1979.

Covering British Army vehicles between the wars, they were written by Noel Ayliff-Jones.

There were five articles in the series:
  1. Early mechanised manoeuvres (June 1979)
  2. AFV markings between the wars (July 1979)
  3. Tank recovery in the 1930s (August 1979)
  4. Infantry vehicles of the 1930s (September 1979)
  5. Artillery vehicles between the wars (November 1979)
While the articles themselves are excellent, they are particularly notable for the excellent photographs used to illustrate them. Picture research is credited to David List.

I am posting the fourth article (infantry vehicles) below, and I have added a new page to the Interwar Tank Development blog with all the articles, as they are a very good introduction with excellent photographs.

Infantry vehicles of the 1930s

Noel Ayliff-Jones looks at British trucks and infantry carriers of the 1930s
Airfix magazine September 1979

Monday 20 July 2015

Bellona Rubber Buildings take 2

David has sent me this photo showing the base of the buildings, marked "Bellona" and with a code number.

Sunday 19 July 2015

Bellona Rubber Buildings

Yes - Bellona not Triang Countryside
Yes - rubber not vac form plastic.

With thanks to DavidP for the photograph of these recent acquisitions of his.

Some are marked with reference numbers - small house H4 front left, bunker M4 in thhe middle, with larger  house H3 and ruined version HD3 behind it on the right. The haystack is in the same style but with no reference number or Bellona branding at the back.

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Back to Beamish

I have been back to Beamish today to go through the second album and list all the captions. I have now added these captions and all the interwar photos to the new blog. I have also put a labels gadget early on the page as this is the main means of searching, rather than browsing, the blog.

The new photographs include Carden Loyd Mk VIs of various types, the double half track, an extensive collection of trailers, the Tractor Truck and its variants, Dragons and Light Dragons, bridging, and tilting trials for the Vickers Medium.

Hopefully plenty more of interest. This is all the interwar photos, except some which have not been digitised as yet, possibly because they were too big for the scanner.

These photographs include:
18 pdr tarnsporter of 1922
18 pdr transporter Mk II
Armstrong Siddeley Dragon
Independent Tank - 2 photographs
16 Ton Tank nos 1 & 2
Vickers Medium - 2 photographs
Colonel Breyer D of A (Directorate of Artillery?)
A number of other photos of Mediums Mk i and II.

There are also around 20 photographs of WWII or just post war subjects - 13 of variants of the Valentine, the Tetrarch, Harry Hopkins and several variants of the Alecto. I won't put these on the new blog as they are not interwar but I will look for some other way of making them available.

Next job is to start adding text to posts and methodically looking at the labelling.

There have been more than 6,000 page views on the blog in its first seven days so it looks as if it is proving useful.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Blog Launch - Interwar Tank Development

I am pleased to be able to launch the new Interwar Tank Development blog.

I have put all the photographs from the first Vickers Armstrong Ltd works album held by Beamish Museum in posts with the original captions from the album. In time I intend to add text to all the posts.

Next up will be posting the photos from the second album, but I need to go back to Beamish to sheck the album for the captions and any other information.

The blog also has pages on reference sources and media - this includes links to relevant newsreel clips and an interesting audio archive interview at the IWM.

Tuesday 7 July 2015

Exciting times

Well the exciting news is that I came home to a DVD containing the photographs from the two Vickers Armstrong albums held by Beamish Museum.

My first impression was the quality of the photographs. There are also some "action" shots from the trials at Wool in February 1925 and February 1927, and from the Canberley demonstration to Dominion Premiers on Novemeber 13th 1926.

Some Pathe footage of this event can be viewed on YouTube:

Other impressions were how much they were giving half tracks a real go, and there are some very interesting photographs including bridging equipment. I can't  remember seeing any of these photographs in print before.

So what next? I think I will set up a new blog for the photographs and encourage knowledgeable people to make comments which can be added to the posts.

This may take some work; my immediate need is to make sure I have all the original captions from the books, which I don't at the moment. I hope to spread a few interesting photographs around here and on suitable forums. I am quite keen on this so I expect to nake substantial progress quickly - if you remember how fast the Georland blog was done I have a similar commitment to this project.

Once I have a reasonable amount of material on line I will go live and then continue to add to it over time. I hope there will be a substantial amount of information made accessible soon.

Tuesday 30 June 2015

Vickers Armstong Ltd photograph albums

After a very pleasant morning at Beamish Museum's Regional Resource Centre I am better informed and have seen some marvellous photographs.. The albums have been in the Museum's collection since the late 1960s. There are two albums: one has an index (pictured above, poor photograph taken today) and the other does not. The contents start with Little Willie (1915) and go up to about 1947, though the WW11 stuff is mostly of Valentines of various sorts.

I don't recall seeing any of the photographs in the albums before - they tend to be factory shots. Highlights include four Birch guns together, a number of pictures of a Vickers Medium bridging tank, and a couple of pictures of the Burford Kegresse MG carrier, one from the front and one from the year.

The museum is going to send me all the images on CD and has given me permission to post them. I will have to work out the best way to do this but there should be some very interesting material starting to come out soon.

And I felt  I was able to give something back as I was able to tell them the difference between a male and a female tank.

Monday 29 June 2015

Interwar tank development by Vickers Armstrong Ltd - exciting news

This picture is another from the Wonder Book of Soldiers but the good news is I have heard back very promptly from Beamish Museum.

The photographs listed and mentioned in my last post are from two large albums which came from Vickers. As I undesrtand it there may be more photographs than currently listed on the web site but they have been digitised already. I am going to arrange a time to view the albums and will be able to request copies of images. I will see if I can get pernission to post some of the most interesting ones here.

It will be good to see if the photographs from the company records are previously unknown or possibly well reproduced elsewhere.

Sunday 28 June 2015

More interwar goodness

Another pic from the Wonder Book of Soldiers. The wheels on the Carden Loyds identify them as Mark Vs, as used for recce by the Experimental Mechanised Force

I have been intrigued to find 153 records listed in the Beamish Musem's People's Collection catalogue under the heading development of tanks buily by Vickers Armstrong Ltd. The photographs have not yet been digitised but the captions are very interesting and relate mainly to interwar types, It may be these are all very well known photographs or it could be they haven't really been seen before. They could conceivably be from the Company's (Vickers Armstrong's) own records or possibly from some king of directory or catalogue, but it looks to be a single source.. Everything is there - Vickers Carden Lloyd, Mediums 1-3, the Independent, Citroen Kegresse and much more.

The captions are obviously well informed so without seeing antything I wonder if they might be from Vickers Armstrong's contemporary sales material.

I am enquiring aboout the origins of the photographs and if it would be possible to visit and see them.The hope of course would be to move them up the prioirity list for digitising, so they can be generally avaialable.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Mystery interwar AT gun

Can anyone help with an  identification of this anti tank gun?