Category Archives: review

Shilka Publishing – a little review

I’ve picked up a few books from Shilka Publishing in the past: THE BEAR MARCHES WEST: 12 SCENARIOS FOR 1980S NATO VS WARSAW PACT WARGAMES provided some interesting scenarios for the Cold War turning hot; THE SOTCW WORLD WAR I COMPENDIUM contains a wealth of resources gleaned from the pages of the SOTCW Journal. And as part of my various Cold War gaming activities I picked up RED STEEL: SOVIET TANKS AND COMBAT VEHICLES OF THE COLD WAR as a nice little summary of Soviet tanks and AFVs. This book is no longer available and its replacement(s) is what leads to this post.

Quite a few weeks ago I entered a little competition announced by Russell Phillips of Shilka to win a copy of his latest books covering the same topic of Warsaw Pact combat vehicles. The single Red Steel volume is to be replaced by up to four new volumes covering the assorted combat vehicles of the Warsaw Pact in more depth. The first volume was already available: TANKS AND COMBAT VEHICLES OF THE WARSAW PACT 

And the next volume was almost ready for release: COMBAT ENGINEERING EQUIPMENT OF THE WARSAW PACT 

The competition was to win a copy of the first Volume and an early release copy of the new one (it is due for publication on 7th November). I was lucky enough to win the competition and a week later Russell sent me the two books. I must apologise for the delay in posting about this as it has been close to six weeks! However, having started to return to my Cold War gaming I’ve finally been dipping into these books so a little review is in order.

Print quality is good. They are softback, well bound, and the ‘feel’ of the covers is of good quality. The bulk of the book is printed on what I would describe as paperback type paper but is clear and well printed and as all photos are black and white is fine for the purpose. Vol. 1 covers the following vehicles: 

TR-77-580 (Romania)
TR-85 (Romania)

Infantry Fighting Vehicles
BMP-23 (Bulgaria)
MLI-84 (Romania)

Armoured Personnel Carriers
OT-810 (Czechoslovakia)
OT-62 (Czechoslovakia/Poland)
OT-64/SKOT (Czechoslovakia/Poland)
PSZH-IV (Hungary)
TAB-71 (Romania)
TAB-77 (Romania)
MLVM Mountaineers Combat Vehicle (Romania)

Anti-Tank Vehicles

Reconnaissance Vehicles
BRM-23 (Bulgaria)
FÚG (Hungary)

Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Weapons
BTR-40A & BTR-152A
ZSU-23-4 Shilka
SA-4 Ganef
SA-6 Gainful
SA-8 Gecko
SA-9 Gaskin
SA-10 Grumble
SA-11 Gadfly
SA-12 Gladiator
SA-13 Gopher
M53/59 (Czechoslovakia)

Self-Propelled Guns, Howitzers, and Mortars
2S1 Gvozdika
2S3 Akatsiya
2S4 Tyulpan
2S5 Giatsint-S
2S7 Pion
2S9 Nona
2S19 Msta
vzor 77 Dana (Czechoslovakia)

Multiple Rocket Launchers
BM-21 Grad
BM-27 Uragan
BM-30 Smerch
BM 9A51 Prima
RM-51 (Czechoslovakia)
RM-70 (Czechoslovakia)

Tactical Ballistic Missiles
SS-1 Scud
SS-12 Scaleboard
SS-21 Scarab
SS-23 Spider

and Vol. 2 covers:

River Crossing
Vehicle-Launched Bridges
MT-34 (Czechoslovakia)
BLG-60 (Poland/DDR)
MT-55A (Czechoslovakia)
AM-50 (Czechoslovakia)
SMT-1 (Poland)

Pontoon Bridges
PP-64 (Poland)
LMS (Czechoslovakia)
SMS (Czechoslovakia)
PR-60 (Romania)

Amphibians and Ferries

Bridging Boats
BMK-70 and BMK-90
BB-120 (DDR)
KH-200 (Poland)
Mo-108, Mo-111, Mo-930 (Czechoslovakia)

Line of Communication Bridges
PVM, LVM, TVM Suspension Bridges
SP-19 Self-Propelled Pontoon Bridge
TMS (Czechoslovakia)
MS-1 (Czechoslovakia)
DMS-65 (Poland)
ESB-16 (DDR)
SBG-66 (DDR)
SB-30 and SB-45 (DDR)

Mine Warfare
Helicopter Minelaying Equipment
GMZ and GMZ-2
PMR-2, PMR-3, and PMZ-4
MLG-60 (DDR)

Mine Detection
VIM-625 and VIM-695 Portable Mine Detectors
VIM-203M Metallic Mine Detector
UMIV-1 Portable Mine Detector
IMP Portable Mine Detector
DIM Vehicle-Mounted Mine Detector
VISF Model 1946 Portable Mine Detector (Bulgaria)
M62 Portable Mine Detector (Bulgaria)
M-10 and M-11 Portable Mine Detectors (Czechoslovakia)
MSG 64 Portable Mine Detector (DDR)

Mine Clearance
PT-54, PT-54M, and PT-55 Mine Rollers
KMT-4 Mine Plough
KMT-5 Mine Plough and Rollers
KMT-6 Mine Plough
KMT-7 Mine Plough and Rollers
KMT-8 Mine Plough
KMT-10 Mine Plough
MTK Armoured Mine-Clearing Vehicle
MTK-2 Armoured Mine-Clearing Vehicle
ITB-2, SPZ-2, and SPZ-4
UZ-1 and UZ-2 Bangalore Torpedoes
PW-LWD (Poland)
Tank-Mounted Rollers and Ploughs (Czechoslovakia)
Trailer-based system (Czechoslovakia)

Armoured Engineer Vehicles
IMR Combat Engineer Vehicle
IMR-2 Combat Engineer Vehicle
IRM Engineer Reconnaissance Vehicle
ADZM Engineer Vehicle
MT-LB Engineer Vehicles

Recovery and Repair Vehicles
T-34 ARVs
T-54 (A) and T-54 (B) (DDR)
MTP-1 (Bulgaria)
AD-090 Wheeled Recovery Vehicle (Czechoslovakia)
VT-34 (Czechoslovakia)
VT-55A (Czechoslovakia)
VT-72B (Czechoslovakia)
VPV (Czechoslovakia)
SU-76 Armoured Workshop Vehicle (DDR)
WPT-TOPAS (Poland)
WZT-1 (Poland)
WZT-2 (Poland)
WZT-3 (Poland)

Earth-Moving Equipment
BAT Digger
BAT-2 Digger
BTM and BTM-TMG Digger and Ditcher
PZM and PZM-2 Digger and Ditcher
MDK-2 and MDK-3 Excavator
E-305V Single-Bucket Crane Shovel
DOK Dozer (Czechoslovakia)

So there is a lot covered in both volumes! Each entry gives a good summary of the service of the vehicle, main variants, stats and most entries include a photo. I have other books on the same subject matter. Lots of Ospreys as well. Some go into extensive detail, some less so but these two volumes give a really good overview of the subject with lots of quite obscure vehicles getting an entry. I’ve dipped into them many times over the last few weeks. Lots of info and handy to have on the desk as they are not bulky books. Yes, there are more photos on the internet. Yes, you can find more detail on the internet. But for a good handy overview I would recommend them. And if you buy the paper copy then you can also download a copy of the eBook as well.

The following two volumes are currently being worked on. The first, Artillery, will encompass mortars, RCLs, multiple rocket launchers, etc. After that it’ll probably be anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons. There will be some crossover with earlier books, but altogether they will provide a tidy reference. Recommended.


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Industrial Bits – Size matters again!

Michael over at Angel Barracks had mentioned that Timecast did a selection of Industrial Accessories for 6mm and 10mm and did I know how they scaled with various ranges. As I was after some MDF bases and some allotment pieces from them I decided to add a pack to my order. You can see what is in the pack here. And I’ve taken a few pics with what I had lying on the bench and with some of the SF I have done.

First up, with a GHQ T62, A GZG tank, some GZG Infantry (I think!) and at the back some Adler Dark Star infantry.

This is one of my based Adler infantry and I think he scales in quite well.

And this is against one of the Dark Realm Ramjacks that I know Michael uses in his FUBAR forces.

And against a ruler to get some scale.

It’s a nice little pack and for £3.50 is good value. The range of pieces you get is good and I’ll definitely be using them if – no, let’s be positive here – when I get my 6mm Modern buildings sorted!

I’m just finishing off a batch of Syrian BTR-60PBs. GHQ models that have been a joy to paint. So much detail there! I’ll try and get the infantry done this weekend and then decide what extras I’m putting on the HQ stands.

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Battlegames Magazine Issue 25 – Review

This week saw the arrival if the slightly delayed due to printers Issue 25 of Battlegames. This is for me by far the best mag on the market at the moment and which is still the only one I can guarantee I’ll read cover to cover. This is a landmark issue in some ways as it’s the first without a Charles S Grant Table Top Teaser. Charles is concentrating on other writing at the moment (check out Wargaming in History Vols. 1 and 2 – excellent!).

So what do we have in this issue…

  • Tiles of a wargames widow part 2. Diane Sutherland provides another terrain making commentary interwoven with the run up to the opening of the Wargames Holiday center on Crete. I would really like to get there one day. I may suggest it as a ‘special’ for my 50th’!
  • Grand tactical Napoleonics. Bob Barnetson and Bruce Macfarlane compare Volley and Bayonet, Grande Armee, the DBA variant De Bellis Napoleonicus, Age of Eagles and Napoleon’s Battles. This was useful for me as I’ve played Grande Armee and really enjoyed it but not really looked at other alternatives for the ‘big battles’. It was interesting to see the similarities between some systems. I think I’ll stick with Grande Armee for the time being though as I like the way it models command and control.
  • There then follows and article by Conrad Kinch with a method of resolving campaign matters in Free Kriegsspiel. I’m not sure I’d ever have the time to put in to making up the quizes though. As said in the article, good quiz rounds are hard to do well.
  • Jim Purky, also known online as ‘Der Alte Fritz’ outlines his 1806 project and why he chooses to go for BIG battalions. Jim’s blog is a great source of inspiration and he is a very generous chap as well – the RSM figures I’m using for my Savage Swans are courtesy of him.
  • Richard Clarke of TooFatLardies provides an interesting piece on tactics in the First World War and how playing at 1:1 is the best way to get the true feel for the period without getting ‘bogged’ down in the negative aspects of the period. A scenario is included as well.
  • The Table Top Teaser is replaced by the first in a new series of Command Challenge scenarios with Henry himself providing an excellent WW2 1941 Desert scenario and play report using Blitzkrieg Commander (BKC). I use the Modern version of these rules (Cold War Commander) and they are excellent fun. The annoying thing about this article is that it has chipped away at my resolve and I am weakening as WW2 Desert will likely be my next project in 1/300! A nice report and pics of Henry’s GHQ models and for me a highlight of this issue.
  • Henry also kicks off the The Battlegames Terry Wise Award in honour of the recently departed Terry. It’s good to keep these names in the picture as as we start to lose more of the hobby’s greats there is going to be a generation who don’t realise what we owe to these pioneers of the hobby.
  • Mike Siggins Forward Observer is always worth a read. He continues to eschew the new plastic ranges, which although I have no problems with the quality and principle of, they are just not for me! I likes me lead… 🙂
  • The Recce section has some good reviews but I was particularly taken with a review of painting racks. The messy pile of paints scattered around my desk really need sorting and some sort of rack is needed as the current setup just isn’t working! I’ll add the link later when I can be bothered to climb to the attic and get the mag! There are also reviews of Knuckduster 1812 American range (very nice) and Grant and Olley’s Wargaming in History Vol.2 gets a deserved excellent review.

So, all in all another excellent issue. The range of content confirms that Battlegames is not just ‘Old School’ and continues to go from strength to strength. The range of PDF options make it easy to try and also get back issues. Do the right thing – subscribe!

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Update….painting, Slingshot and The Fort

Having gone slightly negative in my Neutral credits I figure I’ve got ’til the end of the month to get back positive again! I’ve made a slow start on the first 12 of my RSMs now that I’m happy with the colours. Flesh is done and hopefully on to jackets tomorrow night. It’s going to be a push to get them all done for the game but I figure it should be doable. Next week is half term so I’ve got two days looking after my daughter and I should be able to send her down the road to friends for an hour and get some painting done!

This week also saw the arrival of the latest Slingshot, 274 January 2011. I’ve only had a brief look but as ever, the letters page is a good read, there is good commentary on the tournament scene, and an interesting article, Scipio’s Masterpiece: The Battle of Ilipa, by Patrick Waterson which is right up my street! Other articles (full details here ) will get read on later visits to the loo! Big change this issue though is in the style of binding. The last few years have seen a proper bound magazine with glossy cover. The glossy cover remains but the mag is now folded and stapled. This is mentioned in the Editorial and the reason seems to be cost, which I fully understand, but I think it is a move in the wrong direction. When I re-joined the SoA I was VERY impressed with the quality of Slingshot, both in content and the physical presentation. It looked professional. The stapled version loses some of that shine I think. Content is, and I’m sure will continue to be, excellent, but it just feels ‘less’ when you hold it. I hope they can reconsider and return to the old binding. To be honest, upping the sub to cover it would probably not put anyone off!

And I’m also currently reading Bernard Cornwell’s The Fort. This is a novelised account of the Penobscot Expedition in Summer 1779 where a British force of fewer than one thousand Scottish infantry were sent to build a garrison in the State of Maine and the State of Massachusetts was determined to expel the British. I’ve read a lot on the AWI but mostly connected with the Southern campaigns and although I knew the event by name I had read little detail about it. I’ll not go in to the story here but I’m just over three quarters through and although I’m enjoying it, the enjoyment comes more from the subject matter than the quality of writing. I’ve read most of Cornwell’s books and have enjoyed them, but always found the style a little repetitive if you read a few one after the other (Pratchett suffers from this as well). His Arthur trilogy (Warlord) was the only set where I think he really hit the mark as a storyteller. However, The Fort seems just too formulaic. The characters make the unfortunate slide in to caricature, the marine officer and the American leaders (Lovell and Saltonstall) being the worst offenders. His portrayal of the main British officers, McLean and Moore, is much better. And I hate the ways he always finishes a section something like ‘Because the Fort wasn’t ready, the Americans were coming and it was too late’. He does this lots, and lots and it starts to grate. He also seems to repeat things way too often, as if you might forget them. It’s almost like the crap TV shows now where they spend a couple of minutes after the break telling everything that happened BEFORE the break! I just found it annoying…

It sounds a little harsh because I am enjoying it. It has made me want to read more about the expedition and also the Minifigs Continental Marines I have primed ready to be painted as British Guards may now actually be painted as Marines! I don’t know if he has other books planned around the AWI. I hope so. But I also hope he puts a little more creativeness into the writing.

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2010 – Review of the Year

In a lot of ways 2010 was not as productive a year as I hoped but I did manage a significant ‘diversion’ which I’ve really enjoyed. And I failed miserably with my 2010 Painting Plan! I still intend to progress with that so have amended it appropriately! 🙂

So, let’s just go through the highs and lows of my wargaming year:

Cold War Commander – the purchase of a load of modern microarmour led to this significant diversion. The few games I’ve had have been fun. Putting together the armies has been fun. And the guys over at the CWC forums are a great bunch – knowledgeable and helpful

Heroes 2010 – despite a lack of playing ASL for a while I decided to head to Blackpool for the ASL Heroes Tournament in March. Although I just played friendly games it was great to be playing again and to see all the regular guys. And my write-up from the blog was published in View From the Trenches which is probably the only ASL related stuff I’ll have published.

6mm Napoleonics – the start of the year saw me delving big time (in purchase if not in painting!) into 6mm Napoleonics. I have a stack of Prussians for both 1806 and 1815. The former for Lasalle, the latter for Grande Armee. I failed to manage a single game of Grande Armee but I do have some French 1806 based up for Lasalle so may push on with the 1806 Prussians/Saxons in the hope of getting a game! I’ve enjoyed doing the 6mm basing I have done though.

Partizan – May saw my first ever trip to Partizan in Newark. An excellent show with some great games on and plenty of traders. Report here.


Lack of gaming – two games of Cold War Commander. That’s it. A pretty poor show over the year…They were good games and I hope to have another soon but I feel I really need to do better this year.

No AWI – despite the release of the excellent Peter Pig AWI range and the acquisition of a stack of militia I’ve failed to do any AWI related gaming/painting. With the prospect of a deluxe second edition of British Grenadier I really want to get back in to this.

Lack of painting – although I’ve painted some stuff for Cold War Commander, a large part of the building of the armies has been touching up and re-basing. The lack of actual ‘figure’ painting has been a little depressing. The early surge of 6mm Prussian faded by mid-year.

No Ancients – I’d hoped to push on with my Punic Armies and maybe get in some games of either FoG or DBMM but failed. I’ve been waiting for some Gauls to come from a painting service (now over a year overdue). If they arrive in January this may kick start 15mm Ancients again. If not then I will be entering into a long period of dispute and possibly legal recourse. Failing that, an unreasonable rant on TMP may suffice!

So what are my unreasonable expectations for 2011? Well, all of my plans will be underpinned by my Neutral Wargaming Project. I’ll formally launch this tomorrow but in the meantime, here are the main plans:

Painting Plan – to add some more red boxes to the plan on the right! More likely to be for Lasalle than Grande Armee I think.

Imagi-Nation – as part of the Great WD3 Imagi-Nation games planned for April I will be painting my ‘Savage Swans’. My first proper foray into 28mm, this may evolve into a little Imagi-Nation – time and funds permitting.

15mm Ancients – finish re-basing my Punic War armies and paint the last few odds and ends I need for my Spanish.

Cold War Commander – finish my Russians and Belgians…and British…and Canadians…:) And then maybe dabble with Future War Commander!

AWI – paint soem of the Peter Pig range I’ve bought and have at least one game of British Grenadier!

To be honest, that is enough! I’m sure I’ll fall far short but hey! you gotta try!

So, a HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my visitors and I hope I can get enough done, and enough poss to keep everyone interested. Hope you all have a productive 2011 and look forward to following your progress as well via my ever increasing list of blogs I follow!


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