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, 28 March 2014

Review - Web Resources, Exercise Lionheart Videos on You Tube

Exercise Lionhart took place in September 1984 and saw the deployment of significant elements of 1 BR Corps across Belgium, Holland and Germany. In addition it was also a major reinforcement exercise seeing some 151,000 troops deploy from the UK, as such it was the largest movement of manpower into Europe by the British Army since World War 2.  Additionaly there was significant deployment of troops from Belgium, The US and Germany it involved around 250,000 troops in total by comparison we landed 150,000 on D Day and some 300,00 over the first week.

As such it was fairly newsworthy and a degree of coverage of the event was produced by both the Civilian and Millitary media. Recently a range of videos have been posted on you tube which as well as being of Historical interest from the perspective of this event and the Cold War also provide an interesting viewon the Army of the time. Equally and amusingly they are a window on the fashion and culture of both the broadcasting community and the military.

From a personal perspective it was interesting as I deployed as part of the Umpire Team and a number of friends from the regiment I served in, in the regular army are also featured in one of the videos. In 1984 I was a member of a Exeter UOTC and became a radio operator in a 3 Man team supporting a yeomanry Lt Colonel in a number of umpiring tasks.  As such saw a variety of exercise events that were played out in the Corps rear area mostly focused on Casualty Evacuation, Air, NBC and Soviet Special Forces attacks on the lines of communication and supply units operating in the rear area.

Thanks to Nick Turner and Andy Miles who variously showed me where to find them and pointed out that people I might know were in them, cheers!

Ex LIONHEART 1984 You Tube Videos: Great bit of History

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Review - Model 1/72, S&S M548

The M548 cargo carrier was developed in 1965 as an armoured cargo carrier with a capacity of 6 tones. In the British army it was primarily used to support the tracked Rapier batteries where it carried the blind fire radar, missile reloads and everything that wouldn't fit in the cramped launcher vehicle. The vehicle served with the tracked Rapier units from the early 80's through to the early 90's when the tracked Rapier systems were replaced with Starstreak.

The model is simply cast in resin having a body and two tracks. There was some pitting on the front lower hull but otherwise the casting was good. Both the examples I had requiered some effort around the tracks and track guards on the hull in order to get the tracks to sit correctly. The tarpaulin benifits from a light sanding in order to reduce the relief of the texturing. Once assembled the vehicle provides a sturdy and workable Wargames representation of the system which is otherwise difficult and or expensive to source.

Pictures of the vehicle on exercise show it with cam nets over the tarpaulin and hessian drapes over the tracks but otherwise minimal stowage which was probably carried onboard.

The vehicles were stowed in accordance with this view and based on laser cut MDF bases from East Riding Miniatures before being painted.

The vehicles were airbrushed all over with Tamiya XF 67 olive drab then highlighted using a mix of  Olive Drab and XF-65 field grey. The exposed elements of the tarpaulin then received a heavy wash using a mix of Bad Dab Black and Agrix Earth Shade. This mix was also used for the pin wash. The black disruptive pattern was sprayed on using XF-69 NATO black. windows were painted Vajello black grey and light clusters painted with Vajello light grey and Orange. The running gear and vehicle were washed a number of times with a dilute solution of Vajjelo Khaki Grey and then lightly over sprayed with XF-59

I have not managed to find any obvious references for marking these wagons so have added markings as seemed appropriate, notably:
  • VRN,
  • Bridge Weight Classification,
  • Battery Tac symbol
  • National Markings.
I could find no evidence that these vehicles carried call sign Markings. Decals were applied from the TL Modelblau decal set and the vehicle was then weathered as outlined above. 

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Friday, 21 March 2014

Review - Model 1/76, BW Models AT 105 Saxon

The AT 105 Saxon entered service with the British Army in 1984 with the first Battalions worth of vehicles equipping 1 Kings Own Royal Border Regiment. Delivery was complete by 1989 with 19, 24 Brigades being equipped with the vehicles. 24 Brigade surrendered a number of theirs when they became Airmobile in 1988 though retained one Battalion. The Saxon carried a GPMG on an air defence mount and later was adopted to mount the Peak GPMG turret from the FV432 although this modification was carried out for Kosova so getting late for Cold War Games. Saxon APCs were used for:
  • The Infantry Battalions: Initialy Rifle companies but later included Milan and Morters
  • RA Tac parties, this is an assumption but it would be very unusual for RA Tac parties not to have the same transport as the supported infantry units as this would mark them out as a target.
  • REME repair and Recovery
  • Command Post Vehicles for Air Defence Batteries including: Rapier, Javalin and Starstreak batteries.
  • Northern Ireland Patrol, I believe these were part of a follow on order let in 1990 for a further 100 vehicles.
  • Northern Ireland Public Order Variants, these included a range of modifications to support their use in RIOT control.

It was procured to provide the two regular BAOR reinforcement brigades with protected mobility for the road deployment from UK to Germany a job it did very well. It was never intended to chase tanks, be particularly agile in mountainous terrain or operate in very hot countries. A demonstration in what happens when you buy something that is fit for a purpose.

BW models who recently ceased production have recently sold a number of their masters and moulds to The Hobby Den and so should be back in production soon.  The model is well cast in white metal and comes with a comprehensive instruction set. Fit of parts is very good for a metal kit and most of the filler activity is on the underside of the vehicle around the wheel arches although some work is also requiered around the rear of the vehicle. On my sample the rear suspension units were malformed but this was easily rectified using plasticard to jack up the rear suspension.

Two of the wheels needed drilling out but this was also very straight forward to fix. The kit was flash free and the level of detail and accuracy is very good. Given that the model is made in white metal it is excellent value for mony at £14, I was back on the site looking for more once I had finished the build. Assembly and build was easy with very limited filling. Whilst the axels look sturdy enough to support the vehicle I have decided to support mine with a pin connected to the base to prevent Axel sag which can be painfully on white metal vehicles.

The kit does not come with MBSGDUs but judging from the Immagery there were a variety of fits and they probably came into service without these fitted. if you are after a vehicle for Kosova or later then I suspect the S&S peak turret would work, as I recall the Morter hatch cover complete with turret was fitted into the roof of the vehicle. 

In immages of Saxon they are very lightly stowed primarily because they had massive stowage capacity within the side bins the top cargo rack and internally. I always considered them to be one of the most comfortable armoured vehicles I ever operated from, far less cramped than both Warrier and FV432.

I could find no reference images where the door mounted Jerry cans were mounted. Options for stowage include:
  • A covered but slightly heaped cargo rack
  • Bergens, Jerry Cans and Cam Nets uncovered in the Cargo rack
  • Barbed wire dannet coils on the roof front or sides
  • Hessian covers around the lights.
  • A Cam net on the back deck
  • A steel towing cable on the front of the vehicle.
  • Antennas
  • The forward right fender pole
  • Air defence MG
  • Commander
For this Wagon the covered stowage rack was created using green stuff marked with a wet knife. The hessian headlight covers, were produced using rolled green stuff similarly marked.

For markings the vehicles routinely carried the following:
  • Call Signs in Yellow or Black. For the Infantry Wagons I will use Yellow and for the Air defence units I will use the same black as I have for the units Rapiers and M548s.
  • The weight clasification symbol, which should read 12 Tons
  • VRN
  • National symbol
  • Vehicle Names, policy would vary between units, some units followed naming conventions, I suspect that this was more prevelant post Cold War but do not know.
  • Unit symbols were more prevalent post Cold War when the emphasis on unit anomninity started to decline.
  • Recognition Cheverons were a Gulf and Kosova feature but as with many other operational markings may have been used if the Cold War had gone Hot in the late 1980s. Along with other aspects of the immediate Cold War period such as air identification panels.

I used decals from the TL Modelblau set which are very useful but sadly only include a limited number of Call Signs at each size. The only problem with these sheets is the cost coupled with the  need to use 2 or 3 sheets if you want to do a unit with Yellow sub unit indicators and call signs. Or indeed if your Wargames unit size is much larger than the 10+ vehicles that end up in a Rapid Fire representation of a unit.

depending on wheher your a die in the wool Cold War Gammer or have slightly wider interests some of the other decal sets may also be of use.

I painted the vehicle in line with the Cam schemes previously described but having moved onto an airbrush and Tamiya paints I used the following colours
  • Olive Drab XF- 67 as the base colour
  • This was oversparyed with 50:50 XF -67 and XF- 65 Field grey.
  • Nato Black XF-69 was used for the disruptive pattern.
  • Pin wash used a mix of GW Badab Black and Agrix Earth Shade.
  • areas of the vehicle had filters applied that were dilute solutions of badab black and Seraphim Sepia.
  • The Hessian Drapes over the headlights were Vallejo medium flesh.
  • Reds, Yellows Oranges were all Tamiya paints, these were used for indicators, rear lights and reflectors.
  • Vallejo Sky Grey was used for headlights, reversing lights and the tow bar. I seem to recall tow bars being painted, worn or bare metal and it provides a good contrast to the rest of the vehicle.
  • Once painted and decaled the lower portions of the vehicle and wheels were weathered using a wash of Vallejo Kahki Grey then oversprayed with Tamiya XF-59 Desert Yellow were 
I have recently bought a bunch of the Humbrol enamel washes so will be experimenting with them in the future.

All up an excellent kit that I wish I had found sooner as I would now have a completed Saxon Battalion. As it is I just managed to get an order in and another 7 arrived yesterday so the Saxon battalion project looks like it's game on, more posts to follow.

Whilst the vehicle is covered quite well by the usual web sources and a variety of pictures I could find no other model reviews or collections of walk around views other than on sites of people selling the vehicles equally I struggled to find any book references.


September  2014, The whole BW Range has now been purchased by The Hobby Den and it is hoped that many of these excellent models will be available again soon.

Cold War Gamer, a Post War Gaming Facebook information stream.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Review - Book, Rats Tales & Royal Scots in The Gulf

Both these books have a broadly similar approach to telling the story of the first Gulf War from the perspective of two of the Armoured Infantry Battalions the Royal Scots and The Staffords. the First Gulf war followed on from Iraqs invasion of Kuwait, which from Saddam Husseins point of view was one of the most badly timed moves in history, coinciding as it did with the end of the Cold War and releasing one of the largest and most well trained armoured forces of all time to do something else.

So why are these books of interest to the Cold War Gamer? The war they describe in some detail at battle group level was fought by men who were organised, trained and equipped to fight on the Central Front against a Soviet equipped and trained force. Arguably they swapped the plains of Northern Europe for the deserts of Iraq and Kuwait and cracked on. As such the Tactics Techniques and Procedures that fall off the pages in the many interviews that were conducted to bring these books together were those that would have been used in Europe if the Cold War had gone Hot in the late 1980's.

The equipment disparity between the Soviet Army and the Iraqi army was considerable and undoubtedly gave us an easier run. Likewise our ability to concentrate equipment and combat power together with the rapid introduction into service of a number of modifications gave us an arguably more capable force than we could have deployed in Europe. Although some aspects of that are worthy of study in terms of what can be achieved in short order once you know you are going to fight a real war.  As ever it remains difficult to second guess what would have happened given a scenario that would have lead to a war in Europe, periods of heightened tension would have lead to changes. Undisputedly the terrain was different, bizarrely in both the Falklands War and the 1st Gulf War the terrain was not disimilar to our main training areas which were themselves unrepresentative of Northern Europes heavily urbanised and wooded terrain. Ultimately the principals are the same it is the detail of the solution that changes.

Both books have similar value really, giving real examples of Task organisation and Tactical deployment and Manouver that directly translate to the central front. They structures and procedures discussed are those that I recognise both from my time as a platoon commander from 1985-1987 and saw played out at BATUS from 1991-1993.

Structurally the books are not disimilar discussing the pre deployment activities, the in theatre Training and the operations. Both provide some useful detail in the later part of the book with interesting insights coming from both the training and the attacks. Equally there are some interesting pictures in both books. the books themselves are not great literary works and are written with significant inserts from the soldiers themselves which strains the narrative at times.

If you can get a .01p deal on amazon they are undoubtedly exceptional value for money @ £10 you probably need to think a bit and may even only buy one as there value to the gamer is intrinsically similar.

Other Book Reviews:

Monday, 10 March 2014

Review - Model, Cromwell 1/76, Tracked Rapier

Tracked Rapier entered service in 1983 following the cancellation of an order placed by the Shah of Iran. The Systems equipped 2 of the 4 Batteries in the 2 Germany based Air Defence Regiments and provided Area air defence in the forward areas where their enhanced mobility and time into action were seen as an advantage. With each launcher capable of covering 100 square kilometres the 48 systems offered considerable cover to the forward deployed divisions.

The Cromwell model is moulded in white resin, the parts are finely moulded and whilst there is a degree of flash on the smaller items this is easily removed. There were no air bubbles on either of the two copies I received and the level of detail and accuracy is high. The kit does not include the track guards but pictures show the vehicle deployed both with them with and without them. The track Gurads would be relatively Easy to scratch build or re use from one of the many M113 kits on the market.

Fit is generally good and the limited number of parts mean the model is quickly assembled, reference to images of the vehicle are helpful in construction. The only difficulty I experienced in construction was fitting the missile containers to the launcher this is done on a single resin peg and might be better drilled and pinned.

From pictures of the vehicle deployed on exercise they were well camouflaged but lightly stowed. I intended to do one in road mode and the other static and camouflaged in a fire position. Camouflage consisted of draped hessian and hessian roles with extensive draping of camouflage nets and hessian over both the cab and the launch unit. Most bulky items would probably have been carried in the accompanying M548.

After looking at the model it seemed a pity to conceal so much of the detail so the end result is not quite as drastic as those shown in the images. I am quite surprised by the cam nets on the launch units as fouling here would have a good chance of rendering the system inoperable.  The Crew and Stowage details are as follows:

  • The crew figure is Britannia.
  • The rolls of Hessian are made from green stuff, which is rolled, attached to the vehicle then marked using a wet knife.
  • The Cam Nets are non elasticated bandage covered in white glue. The overall effect is built up using a number of different strips pasted over the top of each other.

I painted the vehicle in line with the Cam schemes previously described but having moved onto an airbrush and Tamiya paints I used the following colours
  • Olive Drab XF- 67 as the base colour
  • This was oversparyed with 50:50 XF -67 and XF- 65 Field grey.
  • Nato Black XF-69 was used for the disruptive pattern.
  • Pin wash used a mix of GW Badab Black and Agrix Earth Shade. 
  • areas of the vehicle had filters applied that were dilute solutions of badab black
  • Cam Netts were painted inVallejo Bronze Green and the Drapes were Vajello Olive grey, highlighted with Grey Green
  • Reds, Yellows Oranges were all Tamiya paints

the vehicles was marked in line with the images in this post using the TS Modelblau 1/87 decal set.  The image above shows the markings on the missile well, whilst the vehicle markings are outlined in the Image below and included:
  • Weight Classification
  • VRN
  • National Symbol
  • Battery Symbol
  • Warning Symbols

The RA Symbols on this vehicle are unlikely to have been used in the field during the Cold War so I have not included them.  All up a very pleasant build and a very nice model.

The vehicles were obtained via an excellent service provided by Charles Mclaren who can be contacted at charlesmclaren1@hotmail.com. The service is highly reliable and provides assured access to the Cromwell range with prompt and responsive communication. A lot of the Cromwell battle ready range is being discontinued which is a shame as their are some very useful models in the range that are difficult to source elsewhere.

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