Welcome to Cold War Gamer, a blog I am using to record my Cold War wargaming projects. These range from fictitious Cold War hot projects to historical conflicts that took place around the globe throughout the Cold War era, all modelled and gamed in 20mm. The blog includes links to various resources useful to the Cold War Gamer.

My current projects include: Central Front; British & Soviet. South African Border War; Angolans and South Africans. Soviet Afghan War; Soviets and Afghans

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Review - Web Resources, Air Power Australia

I found this web site the other day whilst looking for some information on Soviet Air Defence Systems. It covers both aircraft and air defence systems with some very well researched and analysed articles and some excellent imagery including either satellite or air photos of air defence installations.  Most cold war Soviet systems are covered and it includes equipment that hadn't quite entered service when the Soviet Union collapsed. Key equipments covered include all the SAMs  from 2 -22 they also cover PLA deployed systems both in terms of description and performance analysis.

If your into the technology it covers that off at a level of detail, and has some superb articles on static SAM sites 

Slightly off topic in the Historical section it has some great pictures of current Australian military vehicles.

The web site offers an open and independent source of information primarily on Air and Air Defence topics with a mass of data that will be of interest to the cold war gaming community and to those historically interested in the period or Air Defence in general. Just what the Internet was made for really, sharing.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Review - Model 1/72, ACE T-72B

The T72B first appeared In 1985 it provided a significant armour upgrade over the T72A, giving higher levels of protection to that fielded on the T80B.  Numerous supplementary upgrades were also included such as the new pattern road wheels, gun stabilisation and a bigger engine. Shortly after its introduction into service the smoke grenade dischargers units mounted on the turret front  were moved to the turret side although a version fielding ERA was not seen until 87/88 following fielding on the T72A.  Around 1987/88 the vehicle was upgraded to fire the AT11 Snipper missile those not so equipped were designated T72B1. There are fairly extensive web resources available on the T72B a number of which are listed at the end of this post.

As discussed in earlier posts on the Soviet MRR the deployment of T72s in the Wesrern TVD was mostly confined to the CGSF in Chezecslovakia and the Soviet Military Districts of the TVD where they were used in the group of Tank Armies for the third echelon.  I will be using mine in a 1988 - 1990 Motor Rifle Regiment, which I am hopping will give NATO a fairly hard time as the Soviet armour technologies probably had the edge over NATO ATGWs at this point in time. The US forces started to deploy TOW 2A/B in 1987/88 but improved versions of other missile systems, HOT and Milan did not appear untill the 1990's.

To deploy T72Bs in your army of choice you are either kit bashing (Revell/Ace), scratch building, using  aftermarket resin (Model Trans), buying resin (S&S) or going down the ACE route.  This is the story of the ACE route, which is one of the cheaper but not necessarily the quickest option. The 1/72 scale kit could probably be used to represent a wide range of variants from a late model T72A onwards so is very flexible. It is only fair to warn you that I like ACE models and feel that they are worth the additional effort that is requiered. In general with ACE kits you have to be prepared for a bit of extra effort filling, fileing and checking fit. In this particular case part fit is generally good and filling minimal. 

My overall impressions is that this was  a lot less painful than some of their other kits that I have made which is just as well with 11 more to go. The major area of frustration on this model were the tracks and smoke grenade dischargers.

Putting together the hull and the running gear are very straight forward for an ACE wagon, with only minor issues around hull top and base fit as long as you get the tracks aligned with the hull correctly.  I used part of  the BMP track fit procedures to ease the pain of fitting fitting the tracks, essentially removing the teeth from the drive sprocket over the arc covered by track, which worked.  Road wheels drive sprocket and top roller alignment is critical to getting the track guards on later.

The link and length track is much better formed than usual with little flash, but they do require a fair bit of work around the gaps between the teeth in order to get a reasonable fit so a deal more effort than the Revell kit.  There are no specific instructions for putting the track together so some thought is requiered.  I started from the back with three teath upper most but there are very good pictures of the track in reference 5.

The hull top requires a fair bit of knife work with the front fenders on the hull top haveing to be removed and replaced which adds an element of fun with a file to get the part fit right and in addition the V shaped splash plate needs removing to allow the ERA to be fitted.  This represents a fairly major threat to ones fingers.

A number of people have done kit bashes around the Revel T-72 hull and the ACE turret and ERA components whilst this will produce a cleaner result and speeds up the process it is a fairly whacking expense.  The difficult bits are largely hidden and are therefore quite tolerant of some radical make it work approaches, so for me the decision hangs on how many you want.

The Turret assembles easily with some filler required around the add on armour but with little real pain.

The construction of the smoke grenade discharger unit is the critical bit on the turret with regard to having a model that looks good as miss alignment of the barrels stands out and is easily acheieved.  I drill into the mounting plate a little and allow each row to set before starting the next. In addition the fit of the stowage boxes needs a bit of thought.

As ever with ACE the end result is good and provides an excellent representation of the vehicle.  The extensive web resources mean that there are lots of images available so getting stuck with the instructions on part placement is easily resolved. The Alex Clark models in particular provide a superb reference.

There are few pictures showing any form of external stowage cam nets and tarpaulins on top of the turret boxes and pictures from the Chechen war demonstrate a fairly relaxed attitude to deck and turret stowage, given the nature of the conflict which did not involve sweeping tank manouver, I tend to view the extreme cases as unrepresentative. I have added the odd camouflage net and tarpaulin to provide a degree of variation.  Damaged side skirts would also appear to have considerable scope judging by some of the exercise photos.

A current Russian T72 demonstrating likely
stowage options on the turret bins

I have decided to field my late 80s battle group in the three tone dark green, sand and black camouflage scheme which started to be used by the factories at about this time.  This fixes the vehicles to late Soviet and post Soviet use but the ERA is also a bit of a limitation in that respect.  Green is also good as are corruptions of the cam scheeme to two tone which apparently occurred as troops repainted the vehicles.

For the Green I used Vajello Russian Green, washed with badab black with the panels picked out in the base colour, and on the upper surfaces further lightened using Sand Yellow. Dry brushing was a mix of Russian Uniform and Sand Yelow.  For the Sand Grey I Used a mix of Khaki Grey and Sand Yellow which looks to me quite a good match perhaps a little yellow. This was washed with delving mud before following a similar procedure to the green.


  1. On The Way Models, T-72 Model comparison
  2. On The Way Models,Modelling The T-72 Family
  3. On The Way Models, ACE T-90
  4. Armorama, ACE T-72 B thread
  5. Army Recognition T-72A datasheet
  6. Army Recognition T-72 Overview Part 1
  7. Army Recognition T-72 Overview Part 2
  8. T-72 Main Battle Tank 1974 - 1993, Osprey
  9. Alex Clarks Inspirational T-72B
  10. Alex Clarks Inspirational T-72M1
  11. Missing Lynx T-72B1 Thread

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Review - Books, First Clash, K Macksey

First Clash 1985, Kenneth Macksey.  Kenneth Macksey is an ex armoured core officer who served in WW2, he wrote first clash as a training publication for the Canadian DOD.  The book deals with the deployment of 3 Royal Canadian Regiment (3RCR) Battlegroup as part of a 4 Canadian Mech Brigades defensive battle plan and the attack against them by 290 Motor Rifle Regiment and 301 Tank Regiment. The book covers the organisation and rolls of the various sub components of a Canadian Armoured Battle Group.  The Battle Group comprises 3 Mechanised Companies, Anti Tank Platoon, Recce Platoon, Morter Platoon, a Tank Squadron, a Battery of Guns and an Air Defence section of Javalin.  In addition it covers support from the brigades Helicopter Squadron and the use of Engineers to create an obstacle plan. It considers the preparation for and deployment to the defended locations, the sequence of the battle preparation and the detail of the occupation of the defence, then the actions against the two Soviet units which includes their engagement of 3RCR's covering force elements followed by the main action and the sequence of arrival by the Soviets onto the RCR positions.  It closes with the 4 Canadian Mech Brigade  withdrawing covered by the Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) Squadron Group comprising 2 Troops of armour and a mechanised platoon from the Royal 22e Regiment (R22R) together with two sections of anti armour weapons and support from the RCD Recce platoon in Lynx supported by the Brigades Artillery Regiment and unit morters.

It covers the subject well having been written in conjunction with the Canadian DoD and not only provides some excellent orbat data for the Canadians but also provides a real flavour of what NATO trained for and to some extent expected to happen.  It lays out the procedures for the whole action with the intent of providing instruction for Junior Officers, so not necessarily the most exciting read but a great book none the less if your interested in the cold war on the central front in the 1980s.  I am currently collecting the components of a canadian battle group and hope to get on with it in more detail later in the year or maybe next year so more to come on the Canadians.

First Clash: Combat Close-Up in World War Three  @Amazon

Other Book Reviews

Soviet Air Land Battle Tactics
The Military Balance
Encyclopaedia of the Modern British Army
The Soviet Conduct of Tactical Manoeuvre
The Third World War
The British Army in Germany

The Cold War Bookstore contains links to over 60 Cold War titles covered in my book list

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Wargames Unit - Soviet MRR Anti Tank Reserve

Anti -Tank reserves In a MRR and a MRD tend to be task organised groups structured around the relevant anti-tank battery or battalion. Regular attachments to the anti-tank elements include an Engineer Mobile Obstacle Detachment (MOD) or armour but can also include aviation and artillery.

The MOD is a task organised engineer grouping that can be created using a MRR or a MRD's engineer assets. In principal Army and Front assets would be grouped in a similar manor to deal with specific tasks at their level or to cascade elements to the divisions and regiments.

The Divisional Anti-Tank Battalion has already been covered in an earlier post. The Regimental Anti Tank battery consists of:
  • 3 platoons of 3 vehicles firing either AT3 or AT4/5 and A BRDM 2 command vehicle that will coordinate the platoons actions, provide supporting fires with its 14.5mm MG, and illuminate targets at night.
  • The battery HQ is an additional BRDM 2 command vehicle, equipped with a range finder
  • 3 trucks support the unit carrying additional missiles.
Soviet MRR Anti Tank Battery, ACE BRDM 2 AT3, S&S BRDM2, ICM Truck,
figures by Liberation Miniatures

The MOD can include:
  • Regimental mine laying assets, PMR 3 , 
  • Sapper platoon/section in either BTR 60 or trucks.
  • Assets from the divisional engineer battalion like the GMZ tracked minelayer and UMZ scatterable mine layer.
  • Engineer Recce in either BTR60 or BRDM2.
In terms of performance the towed assets are capable of laying 500m of minefield in 30 minutes whilst the tracked assets can lay 1000m in the same time frame, clearly such times are quite condition dependent. Towing vehicles for the PMR include BTR 152, 60 and Zil 157 or Ural 375. Scatterable mines either AT or AP can be deployed from MRLs (BM27), helicopters, trucks and by sapper sections these could enhance existing obstacles or create new ones .

Soviet Mobile Obstacle Detachment, ICM Trucks and BTR 152, Liberation Miniatures
BTR 60 PB and Figures, S&S BRDM 2. PMR 3 and UMZ scratch built

In addition to the engineers and anti-tank assets allocated, fires from MRL and ATGW armed helicopters from the divisional helicopter Squadron can be included and the reserve could also incorporate tanks.

T-80 Company attached to the MRR anti-tank reserve, Revell T-80

Within my current wargames unit at a vehicle scale of 1:3, I represent the MRR battery as:
  • 1983 - 1985 MRR 1 BRDM2 and 3 BRDM2 with AT3
  • 1987 - 1990 and 1990 - 1993 1 BRDM2 and 3 BRDM2 with AT4/5
The AT4/5 capability entered service in 1974, was first identified at a Moscow parade in 1977 but never completely replaced the AT3 capability before the end of the cold war.

BRDM 2 AT3 by ACE, figures by Liberation
BRDM 2 AT4/5 by S&S

Either version of the Anti Tank BRDM2 provided a capability for remote operation from up to 80 meters away, allowing fire units some level of concealment, bear in mind the missiles on launch took some time to get under control so we are talking minimising exposure rather than complete concealment.

The MOD is represented by:
  • A BTR 60PB carrying 6 Sappers who can undertake cratering and obstacle construction tasks,
  • A UMZ on the back of a truck which dispenses AT and AP scatterable mines,
  • A BTR 152 towing a PMR 3,
  • A truck to carry additional mines
  • A BRDM 2 engineer recce vehicle and 2 Figures.

Trucks and BTR 152 by ICM, PMR3 and UMZ scratch built,
BTR60 and figures by Liberation

I will aim to outline the activities of this type of task organised unit in a later post.


FMSO Instant Obstacles Russian remotely delivered Mines
FM 100 2-3
FM 100 2-1
Weapons and Tactics of the Soviet Army, Isbey
Soviet Divisional Anti-Tank Battalion Part 1

Friday, 16 March 2012

Review - Model 1/72, S&S MT-55 Bridgelayer

The Soviet Army like most modern armies uses a number of specialist equipments to provide their Combat Engineering support.  These cut across the mobility and counter mobility tasks and include minelaying, minefield breaching, bridging and the provision of field defences and obstacles.

The MT 55 Bridge Layer is one of a number of bridging equipments used and is based on the T-55 hull. There were 3 of these in the Engineer Company of a TR and 1 in a MRR these would be either MTUs or MT 55.  The Vehicle was a Czeck designed scissors bridge with a 16m gap crossing capability and was one of the few Warsaw pact designed equipments to enter service with the Soviet Army.  Around 1,700 were produced between 1969 and 1983.  I am not aware of any other kit manufacturer making one of these, so if you are into Soviets and need some AVLB capability you'll probably be making a beeline for Shaun's MT55.

The model is excellent, it comprises some 17 white metal and resin parts including the bridge laid ready for crossing.  It is somewhat more complex than many of Shaun's other kits and the studying of photos before assembly is highly recommended.  The hull, bridge sections and tracks are cast in resin whilst the various spars and hydraulic rams are cast in white metal.  The casting of both the metal parts and the resin parts is excellent with only small amounts of filler required on the hull front.

The stowed bridge consists of the left and right sponsons the hydraulic ram, hinges and the spars that link the two sponsons together.  The white metal spars are fairly soft and if two much pressure is applied during assembly can deform so some degree of care is requiered.

The Ram assembly is fairly straight forward and I have avoided permanent attachment to the hull so that the stowed bridge can be removed when the equipment is laid.

The hull assembly whilst straight forward again requires some photographic study as the detailed location of the forward supports is not clear on the model.

This model is one of Shaun's best to my mind the hull is excellent and the bridge quite outstanding with the whole assembly conveying the mass of the real equipment

I'll be finishing it in vajello Russian green and will post it with pictures of my other engineer assets when complete.


Sunday, 11 March 2012

Review - Books, The Third World War, General J Hackett

The Third World War, written in 1977 by General Sir John Hackett following his command of NORTHAG.  The book is set in 1985 and illustrates the need to strengthen NATOs defence and what might happen in a future conflict if that were achieved. The book provides a high level scenario around which to build many an engaging game, it provides the reader with an understanding of the broad scheme of manouver and the impact of critical systems on the battle. 

The book opens with an engagement between 11 Armoured Cavelry and lead Soviet elements and covers off a number of small scale air and ground actions before detailing the build up to war through activities in a number of surrogate states across Africa and the middle East coupled with rising tensions within the Warsaw pact and Soviet Bloc. The pace picks up as US and Soviet forces clash in Yugoslavia, and Soviet special forces strike against NATO command and control centres. 

General Hackett then articulates expected developments in the two forces between 1985 and 1977 before taking us into the conflict on the central front.  The broad NATO plan and the outline doctrine of forward defence and covering force battles by NATO are introduced through the unfolding conflict before the story cuts across the Naval and Air battles and the influence they have on the land campaign. The final chapters examine the impact of the arrival of French and continental US reinforcements just before the whole thing goes Nuclear.  

A great introduction to what might have happened authoritavly written by an unquestioned expert on this subject and supported by a respectable cast of senior officers from across NATO.

The Third World War: A Future History @Amazon

Other Book Reviews

Soviet Air Land Battle Tactics
The Military Balance
Encyclopaedia of the Modern British Army
The Soviet Conduct of Tactical Manoeuvre
First Clash
The British Army in Germany

The Cold War Bookstore contains links to over 60 Cold War titles covered in my book list