Saturday, April 28, 2012

Flight Stands for 1/300th Scale Aircraft

At Crisis Point I was struck by the way that some of the other gamers’ 1/300th scale aircraft were firmly attached to their flight stands.  It was oddly pleasing to be able to pick up an aircraft by its stand and not have it wobble, spin or fall off.  I came home seriously tempted to glue my aircraft to their stands but worried that they’d take up a lot of storage space.  
My stands are built with clear plastic rod and previously I've used a Dremel-type tool to grind the plastic to a point like a blunt-ended pencil.  This end was then jammed into a hole drilled in the bottom of the aircraft model.  Sometimes the result can be good and stable; sometimes it’s not.

My old style of flight stand

 What follows is the replacement technique I’ve now settled upon.  To make your flight stands you’ll need some:
  • artist’s mounting board
  • clear plastic rod
  • epoxy putty (Green Stuff)
  • filler (tile grout or Tetrion; I think the Americans call it Spackle)
  • Neodymium magnets (I used 4mmx1mm disks from
Plus whatever you usually use to make your basing look attractive.

The first thing you need to do is to get one magnet glued to the bottom of one aircraft.  Because aircraft tend not to have nice flat undersides (and because most of my existing collection had holes drilled at the balance point) I chose to stick my magnets on with a blob of Green Stuff.  This proved to be a very secure means of attachment.   
An F-111 with neodymium magnet attached via a blob of Green Stuff - mostly
they stick well with Green Stuff but this one needed reattaching with
a little cyanoacrylate after the Green Stuff had set.

It’s important to do just one aircraft first - the magnets have polarity and if you get your magnets glued in differing polarities, some of your aircraft won’t stick to some of your stands!
Whilst the Green Stuff is setting, cut your artist’s mounting board to the appropriate size.  I use 40mm squares.
Then cut your plastic rod to length.  I use a variety of lengths from about 30mm to about 100mm.  I find the best way to cut the rod is to make a shallow cut right around the circumference with a razor saw.  It’ll then snap neatly.
Attach the rod to the centre of the card square with a ball of Milliput or Green Stuff squeezed into a cone shape.  You can then build up round the putty with your usual basing material; I use tile grout coloured with brown poster paint.

Next you need to glue your magnets to the top of your new flight stands.  This is where the first aircraft comes in.  Hold your stack of magnets to the one on the bottom of the plane so  the top one latches on.  You now know which side of the magnet needs gluing to the flight stand.  Carefully pull it apart from the magnet on the aircraft.  At this point I mark the surface of the magnet that will be uppermost on the stand with a blob from a black marker pen.  Then glue the magnet to the top of the rod with super glue (cyanoacrylate).
Your flight stand is now usable but you’ll probably want to do some terrain modelling on the base.  Then you can attach magnets to your remaining aircraft, remembering in each case to use a flight stand to make sure you get your magnets in the right polarity.

A French Air Force Bloch 174 disturbs a flock of sheep.
Initially I considered drilling out the top of each plastic
rod and inserting a steel nail (in this case a 13mm
gimp pin) but the attachment wasn't as strong as
using two magnets and the appearance is a bit messy.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

More Crisis Point Pics

I will find time this weekend to produce some kind of overall account of the action but for now here are a few more pics.

150th Diversionary Bn, NVA heading for Duisburg
Another shot of Richard Phillips's excellent industrial complex
T-80s and SP 122mm guns pursue the retreating NATO forces south of Venlo
For more pics and frankly more informative descriptions, see Alan Millicheap's blog and Richard Phillips's blog.

Monday, April 23, 2012

More Day Two Pics

A few more pics of this weekend's game:

Excellent repair base by Chris Justice.  There are individual hand tools on the table under the camo net!

150th Diversionary Bn captures the hockey pitches.

Excellent buildings by Richard Phillips

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day Two Pics

Gordon's Scuds - designed to lure NATO aircraft into a Flak trap.

Alan Millicheap's Belgians await the onslaught.

Richard Phillips's tanks prepare to cross Richard Phillips's Datteln-Hamm Kanal, some of them using Richard Crawley's bridge.

Industrial area east of Venlo with some more Belgians.

The Soviet horde advances alongside the A73 motorway near Venlo.

Soviet forces prepare to force a crossing of the Maas at Venlo.  The MiG25s show that they have full air superiority over this sector.

More pics later.

Day One Pics

Day One began with Gordon Malcolm's Soviet airborne force (top left) arriving on the Lippe table and immediately calling down a chemical weapons strike on some of Ian Shaw's nearby, dug in American light infantry.  We'd all forgotten to bring cotton wool for smoke/gas so had to use balled up tissue paper instead!

Elsewhere on the Lippe table Richard Phillips was pushing forward with his tank forces.  These are T-55s but somewhere in there was a Polish Heavy Tank battalion with IS-2Ms and IS3s!

Meanwhile in the Central Sector, Chris Justice (left with tea cup) and Peter Buriak (Manchester City shirt) commanded Warsaw Pact armoured forces.  They were opposed by Alan Millicheap's Belgians and George Ashmore (seated, right) with 13/18 Royal Hussars battlegroup.  George's Challengers would prove a particularly tough nut to crack.

And in the west, Andy Hamilton, Steve Graham and Danny Malone launched the major Warsaw Pact attack against a sector held by Rob Connolly with an US/Dutch brigade, and Jamie Crawley with 1st Cheshires battlegroup.  Here an RAF Buccaneer and Harrier attack the on-coming BMPs.

I think this lovely command unit was by Steve or Danny?

Ditto these Hinds?
Beer was consumed at lunchtime at the Royal Hotel.  The pies were much appreciated.  Glad to note, though, that Umpire Stuart Adams (red t-shirt) stuck to cola.  Responsible job, umpiring.

In the afternoon, as the Warsaw Pact tanks threatened a breakthrough west of the Maas, the NATO commanders decided to risk all on a heli-borne raid on the enemy rear area.  Here we see Steve and George resolving a US airborne attack on the Soviet long-range artillery.

By the end of the day there had been a serious Pact breakthrough of which more tomorrow!

Crisis Point Day One - umpire's appreciation

Overall, day one has seen a significant Warsaw Pact victory. Their breakthrough west of the Maas threatens NATO’s immediate rear area between Venlo and Jülich but also leaves open the possibility of a major strategic breakthrough to threaten Köln and Bonn and the severing of CENTAG’s supply lines.

The the most significant threat to this Warsaw Pact movement is the presence of a force of  US Rangers and an airborne battalion threatening their supply lines near Wesel.
In the central zone, NATO forces have fought a successful delaying action against a Warsaw Pact attack that now begins to have the appearance of a feint.
South of the Lippe a fierce battle continues between advancing Warsaw Pact tank forces and US light infantry forces.
If we were playing a one day game I’d have been happy to call it a Warsaw Pact win and to suggest that they had at least forced NATO to bring up strategic reserves to plug the hole in their defensive line.
However, we aren’t playing a one day game and we need to find out what happens.  From a gaming point of view it’s the Umpires’ job to make sure we can continue to enjoy tense and exciting action for the remainder of the weekend.  
It’s apparent that the Warsaw Pact forces west of the Maas will now attempt to overrun the NATO rear area table and perhaps to threaten the rear of NATO forces in the central sector by crossing the Maas at Venlo.  
The move onto the Rear Area table can be accomplished by using Mobile Deployment.  As movement between the table was originally envisaged as along the single connecting road, we need a ruling on how a broader-front movement across the “gap” will occur.
I propose following sequence:
1. We agree to improve the terrain on the NATO Rear Area table.  It never really got a decent density of terrain items. Do we also want to add another table to the edge of that one?
2. Warsaw Pact forces deploy command units along the Western edge of the table preparatory to entering using Mobile Deployment.
3. That the NATO players then deploy their Rear Area battlegroups on that table using Static Deployment (Mobile Deployment on the south edge for one reserve battalion that remains off table currently).
I propose the following adjustments to battlegroups to ensure that everyone can have a decent game:
Rob takes over the West German Heimatschutz Kommando unit.
Jamie’s Cheshires battlegroup is reinforced by 1st Lt Armoured Squadron RAF Regiment.
That the US/Dutch brigade be positioned in the rear of the Rear Area sector and attempts to rally as per the house rules.  
Elsewhere it seems obvious to me that the Battle of the Lippe should continue.

The Central Sector seems to me to have the potential to be pivotal.  Could the Warsaw Pact force a breakthrough?  Could NATO redeploy some of the forces from that table elsewhere whilst continuing to hold off the Warsaw Pact attackers?  
I need guidance from the players in that sector as to how they wish to continue.  I don’t want anyone to feel that they’re out on a limb or stuck in a quiet sector.
Finally we have the Warsaw Pact rear area battle.  Here we run up against the shortage of NATO players.  Does anyone feel able to take on the action their or should we find some way of abstracting the action on that table?
Finally, one rules adjudication.  I appreciate that bringing off-table artillery on-table in order to force commander to protect their rear areas led to some anomalies between the rules for the two ways artillery can fire.  I am ruling that artillery such as battalion mortars (even if they are 106mm or 120mm calibre) that would have been on-table under vanilla CWC cannot fire using the artillery template for the remainder of the game.  They may only target elements spotted for by the relevant CO or HQ.  Blame ammunition shortages if you wish. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Crisis Point Day 1

Well, all's gone well so far.  Particularly for the Warsaw Pact!

We started setting up at 8:30 am.  Here's a panorama of the hall.  Battle of the Lippe table in the foreground, NATO Rear Area on the left (with US Colonel Shaw), and Central and West of the Maas sectors in the distance.
The Battle of the Lippe table was the work of Richard Phillips.  And very nice it was too.  Those are the outskirts of Duisburg in the foreground.

The Rear Area tables were declared to be in play.  Here we see Richard P and Chris Justice setting up the Warsaw Pact defences.

More setting up; this time the Central sector.

And here's the motorway NW of Venlo.

Pictures of the action to come later!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day of Days

It's not quite the second episode of Band of Brothers but all the hard work is done,  the players are en route, and it's nearly time to set off for Dungworth Green Hall to play a ridiculously large game of Cold War Commander.  I'll try and get some progress pictures posted here this evening.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sort of finished bridge

Well, I've got the bridge to a point where it could be used at a pinch.

That's not the intended configuration but I don't have time to build approach ramps for the thing.  The pieces I'm using as ramps would serve to extend the span considerably but this width is just nice for our version of the Maas.

I haven't done a proper paint job either.  Apart from the grassy embankments these parts have just had a black undercoat and a quick splash of the relevant colours.  I'll do some detail work over the next couple of evenings.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Painting the Rhine Bridge

I'm beginning to suspect I may be spending the whole of the coming week getting the painting of the Arnhem bridge completed!

Here are some of the parts glued together:

Here's the undercoating underway:

And the painting begins:

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Just a week to go...

... to Crisis Point, the big Cold War Commander campaign weekend.

I have an old bedsheet in the kitchen sink being dyed green for an extra table's worth of countryside.  I'm working on cards for random air support, and I have a US-Dutch battlegroup to complete.  Oh, and the big bridge at Venlo is coming along nicely!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Colonel Reinhart's HQ

I don't think it's giving too much away to say that this command unit will be appearing in this month's Crisis Point game of Cold War Commander.  It's a CO unit in CWC terms and will command a joint US/Dutch battlegroup.

Colonel Reinhart is named in honour of Jonathan J Reinhart, the host of the Wargaming Recon podcast, who has very kindly helped to promote Crisis Point.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On the Workbench - bridge of size

I've not had much to show here for a while because I've been building battlegroups for the big Cold War Commander game in a couple of weeks and I don't want to reveal too much in advance.

Here, however, is an update on progress on the Arnhem Bridge from

The bridge will go together a number of different ways depending on whether you want your river's surface flush with the banks or in a deeper channel.  For now I'm going to leave it as flexible as possible.

Construction so far has involved a large amount of super-gluing.  Following Steve's advice I've held off from washing the mould release agent from the delicate side girders until the main span is substantially glued together.  A wash will be doubly called for because I've been using Sodium Bicarbonate as a highly effective accelerator for the super glue.