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

Friday 18 October 2013

Review - Book, A History of Soviet Airborne Forces

Whilst the bulk of the book talks to the evolution of Soviet Airborne organisation and use throughout WW2, it illustrates effectively the type of operations talked to in the post war doctrine whilst highlighting the somewhat hazardous nature of delivering Airborne units by parachute into the enemy's rear. The operations presented are comprehensively researched and presented with supporting maps that enable the reader to understand the operational points being made.

The last 100 or so pages talk through the development of the modern force set against the wider evolution of Soviet Doctrine, from manoeuvre in nuclear war to the defensive postures of the late 80s. The arrival of the Helicopter and its wide spread employment by the US in Vietnam clearly influenced Soviet military thinking in this space providing more predictable means of delivery and support for airborne envelop ment and manouver.

The Author charts this evolution of both organisation and doctrine in some detail, but sadly to my mind has not covered the contemporaneous evolution of the Air, Aviation, and Artillery Forces that were the fundamental enablers of the concepts discussed but which sat outside the scope of the title. A better History might have been of Airborne Forced, Operations and Doctrinal concepts which could have caught these missing elements.

Whilst the book does cover operations in Afghanistan which reflect the Soviet experience of air mobility this is done with a fairly superficial look at formations undertaking the role rather than a look at the operational context, which was significantly more difficult to come by in 1994 when this book was published. This is better covered in the Bear went over the Mountain, chapter 3, Tactical Air Assault published 1996 and the Soviet Afghan Wars sections on Air Assault and Army Aviation, published in 2002.

Having said that the chapters on the Modern Airborne force and the evolution of the Air Assault arm set against the evolving doctrine is extremely useful, and the detail on the organisational structures of the VDV and DShV adds significant value.  For the Modern gamer I am not convinced that the content justifies the current price of £45, If your interested in WW2 or If you can score a cheaper second hand copy then its definitely worth having.
A History of Soviet Airborne Forces (Cass Series on Soviet Military Theory & Practice) @ Amazon

Other Book Reviews:

Soviet Tactical Aviation
Armies of NATO's Central Front
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

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Review - Model 1/72, Airfix Lynx AH1

The Lynx AH 1 entered service with the British army in 1977 with the TOW armed Attack Helicopter version first making an appearance from 1981. It remained the principal Attack Helicopter in the British army until 1988 when it was replaced through upgrade by the AH1GT and the AH7 with their distinctive burp tipped rotor blades. The conversion to AH 7 was completed in 1994, but AH1s recieved the engine and rotor mods from 1991 to become the AH1GT so TOW armed AH1 aircraft didn't quite make it to my end date of 1993. The BURP tipped rotor blades can be obtained as an aftermarket purchase form Pavla so AH1GT and AH7 variants can be modeled.

The aircraft principally served in the Attack Helicopter Squadrons of the Army Aviation regiments attached to each of the 3 Armoured Divisions in Germany although it was also deployed by UKLFs 7 Regiment, and The Royal Marines. It was also deployed as an unarmed aircraft for troop transport.

The kit is now sadly OOP but they are not difficult to get hold of either on eBay or from Model Shops. I have managed to pick up quite a few. I have built mine as the TOW armed version of the AH1 that served in BAOR from 1981 - 1991 although at a stretch you could run them onto 1994.

There are numerous air/aviation focused modelling reviews which will lay down every missing rivet, some of them are brilliant. The kit itself assembles easily and is quick to build if your painting out the windows. The only really fidly bit is the rotor head assembly and that is not that difficult.

The biggest failing of the kit from a wargames perspective are the missile mounts, whilst the mounting points are correct I am not convinced Britain ever deployed a 6 missile armed AH 1 Lynx all references and pictures that I can find show 8 missiles mounted in a two by two block either side. Having said this its a pretty straight forward problem to fix as long as your not after a high level of detail fix.

The Kit supplied mounts shown above need to be adapted to carry 4 Missiles in a 2x2 block, I also reduced the distance of the missiles from the mount although you could easily skip this step.

  • The missile mount is separated from the Aircraft mount
  • The third missile mount is removed
  • The inboard arm of the missile mount is shortened.
  • The mounting points are shortened and squared off
  • 8 15mm plastic rod lengths are cut to represent the TOW tubes

  • The 4 Tubes are then attached to the missile mount,
  • The missile mount and aircraft mount are reattached to each other
  • A mounting hole is drilled in the A/C hull bellow the door frame and above the mounting point
  • The completes unit is attached to the aircraft

I have made the rotor blades removable so can play with and without depending on the size of the Scenario.
Two primary paint schemes have been used by Army Air Corps AH1s. From 1977 to 1986 the images of Lynx AH1's show a black and green camouflage pattern. From 1987 the light grey and green pattern seems to have been introduced but not implemented immediately across the whole fleet. This is based on analysis of images in the Air Britain Photographic Images Collection that cover Lynx AH1. I have Chosen to do this one in the light grey and green scheme which makes it a late period bird.

The aircraft was airbrushed in Tamya XF-19 Sky Grey then the camouflage colour was added, Tamya XF-26 Deep Green, the whole was then washed in badab black before being highlighted in the original colours and a pin wash applied. TOW tubes were painted Vajello Russian Uniform and rotors, windows and exhaust Vajello Black Grey. Decals were from the box with different registrations being applied by re-aranging the numbers. They were mounted using Corsec enginiering flight stands on existing bases.

I found Airbrushing the aircraft quite difficult and you may wish to consider leaving rotors and missiles off the aircraft untill you have the airframe painted, however it was quick, I think the kit builds into a wonderful representation of the Aircraft and they look just like I remember them, an enjoyable build just as well as there are a few more to go.


Avistar: Westland Lynx
Air Britain Photographic Images Collection
Prime Portal Lynx AH 1 Walk around
Aviation Images - Aircraft in Detail, Westland Lynx
Scalemates Westland Lynx
British Military Helicopters, 1986, J Everett-Heath
Today's Army Air Corps, 1987, P Beaver
Kit Review

Related Posts:

ORBAT - 1980's British, Army Air Corps Aviation Regiment

Saturday 12 October 2013

ORBAT - 1980's British - Army Air Corps, Aviation Regiment

The aim of this Orbat post is to outline the organisation of the Army Air Corps in Germany in the 1980's and 1990s which will allow aviation support to be provided to a number of different Battle Group types. In addition it will form the basis of material for the creation of Aviation And Air Assault Battle Groups used by 6 and 24 Air Mobile Brigades during the late 80's and early 1990's.

In the British Army AH was the abreviation for Army Helicopter rather than Attack Helicopter and applied to both Lynx and Gazelle. The Regiments operated both Lynx and Gazelle, the principal equipments being deployed by these units were:
  • The Armed and un armed versions of the Lynx AH1 (from 1977 - 1994) 
  • The armed Lynx AH7s (from 1987 - 2002), 
  • The unarmed Lynx AH 9 were field in the LBH role from 1991.
  • Unarmed Gazelle AH1 throughout. 

The other significant upgrade during the period was the addition of TI units to the Lynx roof mounted site in 1986.

Each of the three divisions had its own AAC Regiment with 1, 3 and 4 Regiments AAC supporting their respective divisions. 1 and 4 Regiments AAC each had two TOW armed Attack Squadrons and 1 Recce Squadron, whilst 3 Div had 1 Attack Squadron and two Recce Squadrons.  9 Regiment formed in 1988 as part of 24 Air Mobile Brigade, 7 Regiment supported UKLF and the associated AMF roles on the Northern and Southern Flanks throughout the period.
Prior to 9 Regiments formation 
  • 657 was an independent Sqn shown as Part of 19 Bde 
  • 664 was an independent Squadron operating 12 Gazelles in support of the Corps covering Force
Squadrons beginning with 65 were Attack, 66 Recce and 67 LBH.  Composition and organisation of units seemed to vary with geographical location and time which accounts for a degree of confusion around squadron and flight composition.

I have sources which describe Squadron Strength varying from 12 to 18 Aircraft and where Squadrons are composed of single or mixed types.  I have therefore made the following assumptions:
  • For Attack Helicopter Squadrons in BAOR 12 Lynx TOW.
  • For Recce Squadrons in BAOR 12 Gazelle.  
  • For 9 Regiment 657 and 664 Squadron, mixed 6 Gazelle 6 Lynx TOW.
  • For 9 Regiment's LBH squadron, 10 unarmed Lynx.  

For missions the units were task organised in a variety of ways to create mixed groupings of Lynx and Gazelle. The approach to this varied throughout the period and dependant on the organisation of the Squadrons.

  • For attack missions a pair of TOW armed Lynx could work with a Gazelle and for Recce Missions, a pair of Gazelles could work with a TOW armed lynx. Gazelles could also operate in pairs of Aircraft as Air Observation Posts (AOP) capable of directing Artillery and Fast Jets.  
  • In addition HELARMs which were flight or multi flight TOW Lynx missions supported by Recce Gazelle could be tasked against specific targets or killing areas this could be independently or in support of or supported by other arms including Battle groups  and artillery. 
  • In the latter part of the period as ground air concepts developed groups of aircraft would participate in coordinated missions with fast jets and artillery in both cross FEBA operations and CAS (Joint Air Attack Teams, JAAT).
  • with the formation of the Air Assault units and the development of the Air Assault blocking operation sophisticated Aviation/Infantry tank ambushes and blocking actions started to be developed.

24 Air Mobile Brigade and 6 Air Mobile Brigade were the two air mobile units that supported BAOR from 1983. 6 Airmobile was essentially experimental and was a re-roled armoured brigade that operated as part of the reserve 3rd Armoured Division from 1983 to 1987. The result of the experiment was the creation of 24 Air Mobile Brigade in 1988 the two Brigades took different approaches to the incorporation of AH and in addition there Orbats varied over time, I will cover the detail of these units in a later post..

6 Air Mobile is shown grouped with a composite squadron of 9 Lynx AH and 3 Gazelle along with a chinook Squadron and Puma squadron for lift.

24 Air Mobile, was supported from 1988 by 9 Regiment which was formed to full fill this role.  Whilst the build up of the units to complete the Regiment occurred between 1988 and 1991, my assumption   is this would have been accelerated in build up to War with the potential regrouping of independent Squadrons happening faster than it actually did.  From 1994 for those really late period scenarios the  Brigade was supported by 2 AAC regiments 3 and 4 each of 3 Squadrons 2 being 6 AH7 Lynx TOW and 6 AH1 Gazelle with the third squadron shown as 10 AH9 LBH unarmed Lynx.

for my games I currently intend to represent:
  •  1 Squadron of Lynx TOW, 
  • A Squadron of Gazelle
  • A Squadron of LBH Lynx, 
which will provide a variety of options for scenarios with aviation support to Ground units. Scenarios that represent Air/Aviation strikes and ambushes as well as Air Mobile operations.

At an aircraft scale of 1:3 the organisational ambiguity is less relevant each Attack Squadron will have 4 TOW armed Lynx and the Recce squadrons 4 Gazelle with the mixed units as seen in 9 Regiment being composed of two of each and an LBH Squadron being represented by 3 Lynx LBH.  


Avistar, Westland Lynx
British 24 Airmobile Brigade,1999 (Europa Militaria)
The Encyclopedia of the Modern British Army, 1986, 3rd Ed, T Gander
Britains Modern Army, 1995 T Gander
The British Army in Germany, an Orginizational History
Gra Magazine AAC in Europe
Modern British TOE orbit.com
Today's Army Air Corps, 1987, P Beaver
Armies of NATO's Central Front, 1985, D Isbey
British Military Helicopters, 1986, J Everett-Heath
Britain's Armed Forces Today :3 British Army of the Rhine, 1984 T Gandere