Merry Christmas!

I would like to wish all my regular blog readers a Merry Christmas!

I hope that you all enjoy the festivities and don’t over-indulge too much!

What is it about me and Russia?

One of the things that was very striking when I was sorting through all the books and wargaming stuff in my toy/wargames room was how much of it related to Russia. For example, my largest Megablitz army by far is my Soviet one (it comprises an entire Army – 66th – as well as a Tank Corps, an Artillery Division, and several Naval Infantry Brigades).

Tonight I looked along the bookshelves and realised that I own several collections of fiction stories set in pre and post-Revolutionary Russia, including the following:

  • All the English-language editions of Boris Akunin’s Sister Pelagia (‘Pelagia and the White Bulldog’, ‘Pelagia and the Black Monk’, and ‘Pelagia and the Red Rooster’) and Erast Fandorin novels and stories (‘The Winter Queen’, ‘The Turkish Gambit’, ‘Murder on the Leviathan’, ‘The Death of Achilles’, ‘The Jack of Spades’, ‘The Decorator’, ‘The State Counsellor’, ‘The Coronation’, ‘She Lover of Death’, ‘He Lover of Death’, and ‘The Diamond Chariot’)
  • All of Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko novels (‘Gorky Park’, ‘Polar Star’, ‘Red Square’, ‘Havana Bay’, ‘Wolves Eat Dogs’, ‘Stalin’s Ghost’, and ‘Three Stations’)
  • All of Tom Rob Smith’s Leo Demidov novels (‘Child 44’, ‘The Secret Speech’, and ‘Agent 6’).

I also own as many non-fiction books about the Russian and Soviet Navies as I own about the United States Navy … which was another surprise for me.

So what is it about me and Russia?

Frankly, I don’t know. I am sure that there are people out there who could suggest reasons … and those that know me well will know that it certainly isn’t anything remotely political that I find attractive about Russian during the bulk of the twentieth century! My only contact with Russia has been two very fleeting visits during Baltic cruises … and what I saw convinced me that it is a country unlike any other that I have every visited.

I just don’t know why Russia fascinates me so much, but it is something for me to ponder on as I paint my next batch of Russian troops.

Grumpy … me?

My wife has accused me of being a GOM (a Grumpy Old Man) just because of what I wrote yesterday.

Well, if abhorring the commercialisation of Christmas is something that only GOMs do … then she is right and I am one!

I am now off to find something else to be grumpy about.

Christmas is coming … and tempers are getting worse!

My wife and I had to go to the local shopping centre this morning … and really wish that we had not. By 10.30am it was already filling up, and motorists were having rows in the car park about who had the right to park in the decreasing number of vacant parking spaces.

I managed to avoid this by pre-booking my car into with the on-site car valeting service. They wash and wax the outside of the car and clean the inside as well … and then leave it in one of their designated parking bays. It is worth the £40.00 to have a clean car that will cope with forthcoming bad winter weather and to avoid trying to find a parking space.

Inside the shopping centre things were hardly any better. I gave up counting the number of times my feet were run over by parents pushing baby buggies the size of a small family car. They all seemed to have the same look on their faces … determined desperation! They looked at you … and then straight through you. They were on a mission to do their Christmas shopping, and nothing and no one was going to get in their way!

We finally managed to survive an couple of hours before we felt unable to cope with the rising tide of humanity that was filling the place up. I understand that over last weekend over a quarter of a million people visited this particular shopping centre … and it felt that they had all come back today to have another go!

I thought that Christmas was supposed to be the season of goodwill to all men and women … but I saw little of that today.

If this is what the run up to Christmas 2011 is going to be like, I will be echoing the words of Ebenezer Scrooge and saying … ‘Bah! Humbug!’

U.S. Battleships

I have written blog entries on previous occasions about my interest in warship design, and that quite a substantial part of my bookshelves are devoted to the storage of books on this subject. I recently had the opportunity to acquire a copy of Norman Friedman’s ‘U.S. Battleships: An Illustrated Design History’ … and so I bought it!

As I already have copies of some of his other books about United States warship designs (‘U.S. Aircraft Carriers: An Illustrated Design History’, ‘U.S. Cruisers: An Illustrated Design History’, and ‘U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History’), this new acquisition goes some way to completing my collection of his works.

Tank Park

Now that my pre-Christmas spending spree on Corgi tanks is at an end, I decided to mount a ‘review’ of my tank park. First, the Russians …

This is a very homogeneous collection of vehicles, and includes fourteen T34/76 and ten T34/85 tanks.

The same cannot be said of the Germans …

This collection includes six short-barrelled and four long-barrelled Pzkpfw IV, four Pzkpfw VI Tiger 1, and three Pzkpfw V Panther tanks.

When added to my small collection of ROCO Minitank tanks and vehicles, I probably now have sufficient 1:87th-scale equipment to seriously think about fighting an Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War campaign at some time in the future. I also have quite a lot of as yet unpainted 20mm metal figures that are compatible with these vehicles, and one thing that I am thinking of doing after Christmas is beginning the process of turning some of this pile of lead into painted figures that I can use with my Corgi tanks.

A revised MOBAS icon … already!

In the light of Peter Douglas’s comment to my very recent blog entry, I realised that by adding a fourth funnel to the Combat Dice icon I had designed for the Torpedo Boat/Destroyer, it was much easier to tell each type of ship apart!

Here is the new icon …

Dice symbols for Memoir of Battle at Sea (MOBAS)

Having just completed new versions of MEMOIR OF MODERN BATTLE (MOMBAT) and MEMOIR OF BATTLE (MOB) it seemed logical – in the light of developmental work that David Crook is undertaking on the naval ‘sibling’ of these wargames rules – to think about revising my MEMOIR OF BATTLE AT SEA (MOMBAS) wargames rules.

As these rules will also use Combat Dice, I needed to design some icons for the dice faces.

The Battleship, (to indicate a ‘hit’ on that type of ship) …

… the Cruiser, (to indicate a ‘hit’ on that type of ship) …

… the Torpedo Boat/Destroyer, (to indicate a ‘hit’ on that type of ship) …

… the Explosion (for ‘hits’ on any type of ship), …

… and the Shell Splash (to indicate a ‘miss’).

I hope to continue work on these rules over the next few days, but having designed these icons I feel that I am already well on the way with this project.

The final three and fourpence … for a while!

My final purchase of Corgi tanks via eBay arrived this morning from the United States, and comprised two long-barrelled Pzkpfw IV tanks and two T34/76 tanks.

I hope to stage a ‘review’ of my Corgi Russian and German tank forces later today … but in the meantime I am working on another project …

Yet another three and fourpence …

This morning’s post brought some more of the Corgi tanks that I have been buying via eBay. This time the delivery contained two German tanks and one Russian tank.

The Pzkpfw IV and the T34 are perfect, but the Pzkpfw VI Tiger has a slightly bent barrel and has lost its muzzle brake. This is not a disaster as I don’t think that it will take much of an effort to repair this damage, especially as it would appear to have been done at the factory and not during play.

I am still expecting a further delivery of German and Russian tanks from the United States, after which I think that my current spending spree will come to an end … for the time being.