Clearing up the oddments

While finishing off the last units for this year (picture tomorrow) I also completed a number of bits and pieces that were lying around.

So there are:
  • Sudan Mahdist casualties (thanks to Andy Callan for providing the figures) I ran out of bases so there are still more to make
  • More Napoleonic French casualty bases, I seem to need loads of these and these were a few old Strelets figures that looked suitable.
  • At the back some "Japanese Peasants" from Zvezda, but I'll be using them in Vietnam.


Christmas presents

Must have been good this year so plenty of wargames goodies under the Christmas tree

For those interested in my plans for these:

  • Imex American Pioneers - various vignettes for my ACW and some suitable cattle/pigs for skirmish games, etc
  • Mars French Mounted Guards - Royal Musketeers and Guards of Cardinal Richelieu - will allow me to use my TYW armies as French as well
  • Strelets Norman Train - just baggage/eye candy for my Normans/Medievals
  • Strelets German Army in Stalingrad - to go with my still unpainted winter Italians and Hungarians to provide a force to fight my already painted Russians
  • Strelets Soviet Partisans in Summer Dress - will replace my existing metal partisans
  • Strelets Soviet Partisans in Winter Dress - to reinforce my winter Russians mentioned above
  • Strelets Turkish Army in Summer Dress 1877 (x2) - will become Egyptian infantry for the Sudan


Merry Christmas - and what happened to last years presents

First off a great picture by Mark Carline of the Chester Eastgate taken in the snow

So what happened to last years wargames presents?

  • 1 x Redbox Men-at-Arms and Retinue - all painted except the commanders, I just need to decide who to paint them as!
  • 1 x Redbox Town & Country Levy - all painted
  • 1 x Caesar Aztecs - still not painted
  • 3 x Airfix Cromwell Cruiser - all assembled and painted
  • 1 x Airfix King Tiger - all assembled and painted
  • 1 x Waterloo Rogers Rangers - still not painted
  • 1 x Hat Zulu War British Command - still not painted
  • 1 x Hat El Cid Moorish Command - used to create my Sudan commanders
  • 1 x Hat Napoleonic Mounted Officers virtually all painted as Allied commanders for Leipzig and I've bought a second packet
  • 1 x Hat Napoleonic British Command - the mounted officers were used to provide the commanders for my British in Egypt 1801, the remainder will be use when I tidy up my British Napoleonics (2015?)

Not a bad performance and I'll review my annual achievements once the year is over, still another week of painting to go.

Best wishes to one and all this Christmas



A few Crusaders

While painting the Saracens I also worked on a few more bit from the Stelets Crusader Transport sets.


Saracen cavalry

Managed to keep the momentum, despite various distractions. I've used a packet each of the Strelets Arab Cavalry and Seljuk Cavalry to make three cavalry units, a horse archer unit and a commander.

I decided to base the horse archers moving sideways and it's quite effective

So the basic Saracen force is now complete. I'll add various other units to it as needed, like Parthian horse archers, until I get around to adding more Saracens.


Saracen Infantry - finished at last

After what seems an age the Saracen infantry is finished and the cavalry is not far behind. Still it's a respectable number completed at one moment 72 of them.

Figures are all Strelets, except the couple of commanders, who will be added to command stands in due course

I've also got to sort out some suitable banners for the units


Malta - a couple of citadels

A final posy on my trip to Malta, the citadels at the old capital of Malta at Mdina(Rabat) and Gozo at Victoria.

Of the two, Victoria's citadel is more impressive, it's built on a high hill overlooking almost the whole island of Gozo. A quick trip fitted in neatly while swapping buses, it's less than 10mins from the bus station.

The cathedral, the whole of the population of Gozo was supposed to be able to shelter within the walls of the citadel.

It has a great wall walk encompassing the entire circuit

Quite formidable bastions cover the entrance

On to Mdina, again a quick visit while changing buses, but at the end of the day meant the light was fading.

A newly done up section of the walls (not open to the public yet)

The main gate that had been used as a film set and their trucks almost blocked the way in.

A section of wall awaiting the cleaners

Unfortunately only a small section of the walls were accessible, so the trip was very much a tour around the streets of the "silent city" The one section of walls that were open were full of students, so no chance of a photo. I also failed to take a distant photo of the walls from the bus as it started raining.


Recon - Deepdale revisted

Last show of the year and it was across the Pennines to Pudsey. David has done a lot more research on the Banastre rebellion of 1315 and this refight reflects his latest research, which will be published in Hobilar, the Lance & Longbow journal.

He has now positioned the batttlefield to the north of Preston. When I first saw the table I though the rebels were all bottled up, but so of the opposing forces were just positioned on table for show.

Rebels on the left leaving Preston. Bottom right is Vavasour on table. Next is Nevil and then top right is strictland. I took command of the rebels centre and right, all infantry except for Lee's and Bradshaw's personal bodyguards.

I took a few pictures to start and then got stuck into the game

Bradshaws force with Banastre

Nevil's force

The deciding moment, after almost being driven into the hedge Banastre's cavalry fight back and break the royalists. It then allowed me to attack Nevil's pike block in flank with Lee's bodyguard.

It finished with a resounding rebel victory!

It's now a nicely balanced small scenario that could swing either way. I'll probably give it a try at Deeside using Hail Caesar.

A full write-up can be found on the Wargame Amateur blog

And the show - very friendly, lots of chat, but I didn't buy anything!


Malta - the Victoria Lines

As well as renaissance structures Malta has quite a number of other fortification scattered around the island, but one is hardly noticed by the tourist, it's the Victoria Lines (wiki) a nineteenth century defensive line running along a major fault line across the island. In splits the potential anding beaches to the north from the populated south and in particular the Grand Harbour.

Attempts are being made to restore it, but the route in places is heavily overgrown. Walk details

We started at the Bingemma Gap and attempted to reach the Bingemma fort, but the route was over-grown, so we turned back earlier than intended (at the point where this photo was taken) and headed east along the lines

Substantial walling through the Bingemma gap, these are only rifle positions the major defenses were the forts dotted along the route where artillery was permanently based.

Section of the lines, showing how a ditch was dug into the slope hiding the defenses.

Walls beyond the Targa gap, where we stopped before Fort Mosta, which is still in military use. To continue involves a long detour so we gave up at this point.

Generally a great days walking, although for us it was overcast and showery.


Valletta and the three cities

A selection of pictures taken over two days. Firstly for a walking tour around the walls of Valletta and secondly on a more showery day round the walls of Senglea and Birgu.

St Angelo & Birgu(Vittoriosa)

Southern walls of Valletta

Looking back

Northern face of Valletta, looking back at St Elmo (sadly closed for restoration)

View north across to Dragutt point


view from Sanglea across to St Angelo

Grand Harbour panorama

Another view of St Angelo from the Dockyard creek

The old entrance to St Angelo

West face of St Angelo (another location closed to the public)

Looking back, there were some very large private yachts berthed here

View from the eastern wall of Birgu across to St Elmo and the Grand Harbour entrance

Finally, there are more pictures in my Google+ album

On the workbench - December 2013

Well November didn't go as planned, I lost two weeks with a bad case of flu and then another two going on holiday to recover.

So this month's task is really to get back on track. Of the November plan only the Cromwells were completed but the Medieval Saracens are well on track. So if all goes well then I might just sneak in a couple of extras after Christmas, as I would really like to get the French in Egypt done and also tidy up my WW2 British infantry.


Valletta - The National War Museum

Hidden away under all the building work at St Elmo the National War Museum is a great place to visit. It covers the two world wars and its strength is in its coverage from a Maltese perspective, for example there were two flotillas of Japanese destroyers based there during WW1. It's quite a cramped space so I only took one photo.

Of course it's the centrepiece the Gloster Sea Gladiator "Faith"

Valletta - Grand Masters Palace & Armoury

Continuing the Malta theme, here are my pictures of the inside of the armoury, if you are into renaissance armour then this is the place to visit. The armoury consists of two rooms one with armour the second with weapons

A representation of a pike block

Cases full of armour

The most expensive suit of armour (centre)

The guns, disappointingly there was no descriptions for them

General view showing the huge variety of pole arms down the far wall.

Upstairs are the state rooms and these were not worth the entrance fee. Compared to the Doge's palace in Venice there were no descriptions of the room content or context and the throne room which has murals of the Great Siege only has access at the ends making them difficult to see properly. The tapestry room had such subdued lighting and could only be viewed from the doorway

Wikipedia link and the official site if they had put the descriptions from this up in the rooms it would have helped


All along the watchtower!

It seemed like every walk we took on Malta contained a watchtower from the period of the Great Seige of 1565.

Here's a useful summary of their development displayed in one of the towers

Several towers are opened to the public and are manned by enthusiatic volunteers. Just up the road from our hotel was one of the more impressive ones, the Red or St Agatha's tower (link).

The interior

Tremendous views from the top

A more typical example

Some more details on the towers from the Military Architecture site:
Wignacourt’s Bastioned Towers
Għajn Ħadid Tower and Aħrax Tower

A 3D reconstruction of the Comino tower on the national Trust of Malta site