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

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Review - Model 1/72, Revell FV 4030 Challenger 1

Challenger 1 was an evolution of the Chieftain but contained some fairly revolutionary new components for its day. It entered service in 1983 with Chobham Armour, the British rifled 120mm tank gun and a new power pack and suspension units, it was a significant rework of the base line Chieftain design.  In 1985 it recieved the Thermal Observation and Gunnery Site and in 1991 sported a set of add on armour units that increased hull protection these units were used on all operational deployments once they were available although it would be interesting to know if there was sufficient to equip the whole fleet.  The Challenger 1 served alongside Cheiftain until Cheiftain was phased out around 1995 and was itself replaced by Challenger 2 between 1998 and 2002.

Revell released kits for both the base vehicle and one with a representation of the add on armour packs first seen in the Gulf war.  Both kits are the same except for the side skirts and the Kosova Version includes the additional nose armour.  The base vehicle is still on the Revell Catelouge whilst the version with the operational armour packs is now OOP.  Trumpeter also make models of both versions although I have yet to get a close look at them.

The kit is very straight forward to assemble with no real issues in construction although care should be taken around the assembly of the rear turret bin.  Whilst the tracks are link and length the precision of the moulding means these are very straight forward to assemble. The kit possesses some excellent mould detail but falls short in a couple of areas which is a little disappointing:
  • the smoke grenade discharger units are poorly represented, 
  • the vehicles stowage baskets all need filling and or covering to represent a vehicle in the field. 
Having said that these are all quite minor problems on what is otherwise an excellent kit.

To my mind what makes a war-games model is getting the stowage right, which largly involves looking at some pictures and quizzing some old soldiers if you can find them.  Pictures of the vehicles in Germany generally seem to be quite tidy compared with some of those seen on Op Granby, probably due to additional equipment and consumables water, ammo, food, oils and lubes being carried on operations over exercises when live rounds full NBC scalings etc might not be carried.  So whilst I was looking to use my Challengers in central europe I was keen to use the 1st Gulf War images to add some operational context to the look of the vehicles.

Typical stowage seen on Challengers includes Cam Nets in bins which can either be covered or uncovered, In addition the following are fairly common in photographs:

  • Call Sign boards on either the turret rear or rear and sides, 
  • Roll Matts strapped to the outside of the various turret stowage baskets, 
  • Crew Shelters, 
  • rolls of Hessian or the issued thermal plasticised equivalent
  • Jerry cans in the rack at the back of the turret. 
  • Cam Nets around barrels, more frequently on exercises than operations.
  • Chieftain Bins on the turret sides.
  • Antenas

Cam Nets are made from open weave bandage soaked in white glue, the covers are all from green stuff,   as are the hessian rolls on the sides of some of the vehicles, roll mats are cut from appropriately sized plastic rod.  The Call sign boards are cut from plasticard and the Chieftain bins scratch built from card stock.  A number of after market kits exist which can cut down the effort but they cost.  Whilst I have seen no images of air Identification panels in use from this period, they would seem sensible and might have been deployed in a conflict especially when operating under conditions of local air superiority.

Crewing british vehicles was proving to be a challenge until I discovered that Wee Friends had taken on a significant component of the CMSC range including the crew figures.  The Figures are offered with the Crew Guard Helmet which I believe started to appear from around 1987 but include additional heads sporting the Mk 6 combat helmets worn by Infantry crews from about the same time.

I also bought another three sheets of the TL Modelblau British decals to ensure I had enough C/S to get all 8 of the vehicles done.

In the process of working up this post, I have dived into a bunch of reference material and modeling components which I have listed below.  Both of Revell's Challenger 1 offerings are great kits and reward the effort required to stow and crew it


Related Posts:

The Kit and Accesories

Revell Challenger 1 1/72 Model @ Amazon
Wee Friends Crew
CMK Challenger 1 Stowage
General British Stowage BW Models
General British Stowage Kingfisher Miniatures

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Review - Model, S&S 1/72 2S3 Akatsiya

2S3 Akatsiya was the Soviet counter to the M109, only in this instance a 152mm Howitzer.  It entered service in 1973 and formed the core component of Soviet Divisional Artillery regiments as they evolved to their end state at the back end of the 1980s.  It had a maximum range with rocket assisted projectiles of 24km and was equipped with a dozer blade that allowed it to dig itself in.  The Soviet propensity for the employment of SP Artillery in the direct fire role in both defensive and offensive operations means that you really aught to own a few if your gaming Cold War Soviets.  In addition to wide spread use as an artillery platform the  hull was used for a wide range of other systems including, SA-4, GMZ, 2S4, and 2S5 so plenty of oppourtunity for conversion.

Until recently the only available kit was a balaton offering which was both expensive and some what large.  S&S now offer a 2S3 which is a simple and effective representation of this artillery piece.  The model consists of 4 resin components which are relativly free of bubles and flash, the tracks being the component requiering the most attention.  In addition there are 4 white metal components which includes the main gun, commanders MG, Barrel clamp and dozer blade all were flash free.  Price currently in the UK is £10 which includes P&P.

Assembly is very straight forward with no issues.  All the hatches are molded closed so a bit of effort is required if you want to crew the beast up.

Stowage and markings are minimal and I painted mine in Vallejo Russian Green and based them on pre cut MDF bases.  The only markings I have added are turret numbers, which are becoming a little difficult to find in white.  I am currently getting mine from Scotia

Bases are painted GW calthan brown and highlighted with Vallejo Desert yellow before static grass and tufts are added.


2S3 Walk around
2S3 Walk around 2
S&S Models
S&S current Price List Jan 2013
Orbat - 1980's MRR and TRR, Part 4 Artillery

Friday, 1 February 2013

Review - Books, Armies of NATOS Central Front

The Armies of NATO'S central Front was written in 1985 and is probably the definative work of this nature on NATO'S armies covering a wealth of detail particularly on organisation that is other wise rather more difficult to come by than data on the Warsaw pact and the Soviet Union.  As such this volume is in high demand and if you can pick up a copy for less than £100 you are doing well.   

As well as covering the strategic context and how NATO would approach the defence of Western Europe it majors on the organisation equipment and tactics of the member Nations with Chapters on:

  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • France
  • Federal Republic of Germany
  • Great Britain
  • Luxemberg - a very short chapter
  • The Netherlands
  • United States of America
  • Danish Jutland Division
The armies of Southern and Northern Europe sit outside the scope of the title.  Each National section broadly covers the Background, Including Strategy and training before looking at Unit organisation and Order Of Battle, How that Nation will fight its battles, Weapons and Equipment, current force deployment and the National Air Force. The level of detail and the breadth of coverage really make it one of the must have titles for anyone interested in the period in general or NATO specifically.  The only problem is availability of the title and hence cost, a superb reference book for the central front enthusiast.

Armies of NATO's Central Front @ Amazon

Other Book Reviews:

A History of Soviet Airborne Forces 
Soviet Tactical Aviation
Red Thrust, Central Front
The Soviet Afghan War, How a Super Power Fought and Lost
Weapons and Tactics of the Soviet Army
Soviet Air Land Battle Tactics
The Military Balance
Encyclopaedia of the Modern British Army
The Soviet Conduct of Tactical Manoeuvre
First Clash
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