Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Captain Darling’s Grand Tour 2018


Hello Everyone, it’s been quiet on the Blog recently due to many distractions but I shall try to address this and get the backlog of posts I have planned up! First up, earlier this year Mrs Darling and I head off from Australia for a 5 week European holiday, while overseas we took around 3,000 pictures and spent too much money! I’ll try to give you a run down of the places visited that are relevant to the Blog with just a handful a pictures…

Okay here it is, the Grand Tour Summation!

First stop in Europe was Rome, it wasn’t our first stay here but there’s so much to see and this time we included a visit to Ostia, Antica. Well I stumbled across what for the person interested in modern military history a gem...We’re in downtown Rome just up the road from the Colosseum and Mrs Darling says “I’m busting for a wizz!” I said, “Well there’s Italy’s Parliament building there’s bound to be a public toilet there!” And there was the but also there was the Altare della Patria a sort of War Memorial come Military Museum. They have varied displays including such stuff as an MTB, a human torpedo thingee, a WW I fighter and the colours of many of Italy’s warships in very hefty chests (I never really wondered where ships colours were stored!). A very worthwhile stop!downtown Rome just up the road from the Colosseum and Mrs Darling says “I’m busting for a wizz!” I said, “Well there’s Italy’s Parliament building there’s bound to be a public toilet there!” And there was the but also there was the Altare della Patria a sort of War Memorial come Military Museum. They have varied displays including such stuff as an MTB, a human torpedo thingee, a WW I fighter and the colours of many of Italy’s warships in very hefty chests (I never really wondered where ships colours were stored!). A very worthwhile stop!

Captain Darling and a Bleriot XI-2 at the Altare della Patria…

Second stop after a short train trip was Florence and some time in Tuscany...lotsa touristy stuff here but not much for the blog!

Third stop Vienna it was our first time here and ‘lordy be’ so much to see and do and only five days! Our first morning was following the steps of Harry Lime! Yes one of my favourite movies The Third Man was filmed in Vienna. We visited Harry’s house, the Josefplatz, the doorway Harry is first seen in (sans cat) and the cemetery, Mrs Darling even enjoyed it as I hammed up it for photos but she drew the line at a sewer tour though! We ended the day later with dinner at the Ferris Wheel! A major spot to visit here is the HGM – Heeresgeschichtliches Museum AKA the Army Museum, this place is the ‘ants pants’. Displays go back to the Middle Ages! The Napoleonic and WW I levels are pure pleasure. I think with all the 100th anniversaries the WW I section has recently had some work. I could easily have spent a day here! Be warned you have to pay a couple of Euros extra to be able to take happy snaps!

The Heeresgeschichtliches Museum...

Fourth stop on the trip after another overnight rail trip Berlin once again mainly touristy stuff here due to trade-offs that ensue when travelling with your partner! But squeezed in: visits to some of the Cold War sights i.e. bits of the Wall and the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, we cruised past the Soviet Soldiers Memorial, checked out the Stasi Museum and spent a while at the Deutsches Technikmuseum (Museum of Technology). The Technology Museum was a real highlight as should any museum that has a DC 3 suspended over its roof! It featured plenty of military bits and pieces but the railway section was truly awesome!

World War II vintage graffiti on the Reichstag!

Captain Darling with a ‘cannon bollard’ at the Brandenburg Gate…

The DC 3 atop the the Deutsches Technikmuseum...

Fifth stop Brussels. Okay we only had 2 days here (luckily I’d visited before so had seen the excellent Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and its famous Russian Gallery then) so we did a day tour of the city and spent the second day at the Waterloo Battlefield (As most of the battlefield is privately owned and since I had trekked it previously we just stuck to the main visitor area this time). Now I remember the old set up there from 2005 and the new Visitor Centre is a revelation! I really enjoyed it and so did Mrs Darling in fact I had to drag her out so we could visit the Panorama and scale the Lion Mound (which seemed much steeper than when I ascended it last time!) before we had to return to Brussels. Waterloo is now a must visit location after the ‘spruce up’ (after my 2005 sojourn I gave it an okay rating).

Mrs Darling at the base of Lion Mound, for some strange reason she didn't want to ascend the 200 plus steps, Waterloo

Sixth Stop(s) Ypres, Amiens, Villers-Bretonneux and Lille with lots of touring. Now this was the main point of this trip with both Mrs Darling and I having relatives who served in France with the First A.I.F. we were on the ground to attend the 100th anniversary ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux. The Service was the highlight of the Grand Tour for both of us and well worth the freezing wait overnight! Kudos to the Australian Government Veteran Affairs Department for the work done organising this event. Now I am not going to list everything we did over the 10 days travelling the WW I Battlefields and points of interest but I recommend it to anyone who had relatives who served there or for anyone with a military interest in the Western Front. My Grandfather served and returned as did two of his brothers but Mrs Darling’s three Great Uncles served there and were all KIA in the space of a couple of weeks in 1917, fate is a fickle creature. When we visited the Menin Gate and Villers Bretteneux Memorial Mrs Darling saw the names of 2 relatives on the walls and then with the help of a guide we located the Vaulx Hill Cemetery where she became quite emotional visiting the grave of her third Great Uncle. This part of the trip was very sobering yet we still ensured we enjoyed ourselves, there was the brewery tours, finding great little shops in the backstreet of Lille, picturesque walks etc…
Hard to decide what pictures to select for here but here’s a few…

Mrs Darling and the Menin Gate!

Part of the memorial to animals for their part in the Great War near Pozziers…

The last resting place of  Second Lieutenant William O’Brien remembered with honour at the Vaulx Hill Cemetry…one of Mrs Darling’s relations.

The Australian memorial in Bullecourt….the slouch hat is a recent addition. Slouch hats are being added to many memorials around Australia too.

A live artillery round ploughed up by a farmer awaiting collection by the army! We were told this is a common sight!!!

The tower of the Villers-Bretonneux memorial at daybreak on ANZAC Day 2018…

Last stop London and for the benefit of the Blog there were only a couple of bits of interest. Firstly we visited the Imperial War Museum whilst there and it was a letdown! The old crowded and overloaded displays of my previous visits were gone and a Spartan like setup greeted us. The WW I display was the only real part we found up to scratch, it seems they have decided to modernise and open up the rest of the galleries and they are the poorer for it (just my opinion here!) there must be a hell of a lot of items now languishing in storage. Also I ensured we visited St Helens Church which Mrs Darling thought was a great idea as within its walls lay hundreds of years of history but actually the purpose of the visit was to see the bollard right by it which unlike most of the ones in London is made with a real cannon! Outside of London whilst still in Ol’ Blighty we encountered a couple more bits of interest! During our day trip to Brighton we saw the only VSF related sight of the 35 day trip! Along the beach we spotted two elaborately costumed Steampunk couples strolling with their dog. They were proudly promenading and looking quite magnificent until their dog decided it was whoopsie time! A Steampunk gentleman carrying a plastic bag of pooh managed to lose the participants all their majesty! Also we spent a day and a half at Hever Castle which we highly recommend, the accommodation was lavish and the breakfast was to die for and bugger me drunk literally we fell over one more little Military Museum! We discovered on the grounds the Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry Museum...this was a nice surprise. It is a very well presented little museum with some very interesting items and a Saladin Armoured Car and a 25lb field gun on site to boot.

St Helens Church London, a ‘real’ cannon bollard!

Captain Darling getting tea a Cabby Shelter, great food at a good price, we were invited inside for a look see and these are pretty cool little retreats for the London cabbies…

Captain Darling enjoying the sunshine in Ol’ Blighty…our trip of 35 days on mainland Europe we had 2 wet days out of 28 and for our time in England we had wet weather on 3 out of 7 days!

On the grounds of Hever Castle you’ll find the Kent & Sharpshooters Yeomanry Museum…

…and there you’ll see some very cool displays!

Okay that’s Captain Darling’s 2018 Grand Tour wrapped up! 

Next Time - I have a new Flying Contraption completed, a couple of AAR's, a VSF scenario, more The russians are Coming action and some more figures plus some bio story lines…so much to post so little time!

Sunday, 15 July 2018

The Evil Genius's New Lair! - Doktor Von Hades Discrete Retreat!

January 1877 and Doktor Von Hades was 'feeling the heat' as the forces of good closed in on him! After his aborted LASER deployment he was on the run and Captain Darling was hounding him. Harassed by his pursuers he was finding it difficult to enjoy his formerly relaxing morning teas on the roof of his Secret Lair and indulge in a little peaceful croquet with his Evil Henchmen on the front lawn! He needed to relocate his Evil Genius's Lair to a new even more secret location post haste! 

A new site was quickly confirmed and a great deal of preparation was taken for the move to ensure it was kept undetected. On the day of the relocation the convoy of the Doktors clock work automobiles was disguised as Harrods's transports maintain discretion! The transfer was completed without a hitch and his Evil Operations were interrupted for only a few hours!

The new secret and remote position of his Evil Genius's Lair was Carver Lane London, England. In a modest and inconspicuous two up two down his new hideaway blended in with the average Londoner's residence totally. He now felt safe again from the prying eyes of the worlds Intelligence Agencies!

Little did Doktor Von Hades know his every move was shadowed by S.O.E. Agent Edward Bigger and it wasn't long before photographs of the new Evil Genius's Lair were on the desk of Britain's highest officials and in the hands of Captain Darling!

Edward Bigger's photographs of Doktor Von Hades new and discrete Evil Genius's Lair....



Number 42 Carver Lane is a laser cut MDF kit supplied by Miniature Scenery fo the new Twisted Game Rules and Figure range...

Twisted Game Site
https://www.dementedgames.com/

Twisted Buildings
Miniature Scenery
 A clear picture of Number 42 Carver Lane


The Set Up...


I'll write up a full review of this building soon suffice to say here it looks cool and is an excellent design! Unfortunately when I bought this at Little Wars Melbourne I thought it was 1/56 scale for 28mm figures but its actually designed for 32mm ones...DOH...this is noticeable in the pictures with some of my Sarissa buildings...I suppose it will be fine in solo settings but not so much in group shots! Not sure but I may offer it up for sale...or maybe not it just looks perfect as an Evil Genius's Secret Lair...


Next Time - a review of the Twisted Number 42 Carver Lane Building, or perhaps the scenario details or even the AAR of my latest VSF game, The Battle of Portaloo, 18 June 1880 Belgium oh or maybe a summary of the Grand Tour!

Monday, 18 June 2018

The Heliograph, for when your Steam Powered Marconi Wireless is 'On the Blink'!

Somewhere in Belgium, June 18 1880...

Troubled and flustered Lieutenant Cartwright hollered over the din of gunfire to Captain Darling, "Darling the Marconi Wireless set is on the blink again! How can we summon reinforcements?"

Darling replied calmly while engaging in sword play with two rather brutish looking Imperial French Grenadiers, "Well that's rather unfortunate Cartwright, especially with all these damnable Frenchies trying to cook our bacon. Don't worry though ol' chap there's always the Heliograph! Kindly ask Sergeant Over and Corporal Under to fetch it forthwith!", meanwhile with a couple of deft lunges Darling put paid to the Gauloises smoking Frenchman threatening the Communications Post...


Captain Darling wielding his sword and Lieutenant Cartwright commanding a Heliograph team in the heat of battle, June 18 1880. This picture was taken after the action for the members of the Forth Estate for use in their publications...

Ironclad Miniatures Heliograph Team


Well here's another set of figures that have been left undercoated on my painting bench for far too long. I finally finished painting them up on the weekend and for even someone like me with basic painting skills they come up a treat!

The figures themselves are well cast with nice details. No prep was needed but it would be nice for one of the manufacturers of these Heliograph sets to include boxes for the equipment.

The big thing was basing so I decided to sabot them on a mini diorama base. I did this for too reasons casualty removal and also the kneeling and 'scribing' guys can be very useful as individuals in other situations!

The good thing about this set is they'll be useful in both my VSF games and the Russians Are Coming Campaign (where the Heliograph has already been mentioned in a scenario!)!

The 'Team' all based up...

The 'Team' unsbased...

The diorama for the in period photograph...

Close up!

Next Time: well there's a few things on the go now I'm back on deck but most likely it will be either; the  Grand Tour debrief or an AAR of a battle somewhere in Belgium, June 181880...

Friday, 30 March 2018

British VSF Guns Crews & Generic VSF 'Scouts/Jagers'

On Salisbury Plain British Gunners with Infantry support train in the use of their new their Automatic Fire Twin Barreled 6 Pound Field Gun...


Well a final post before Kathryn and I start our 'Grand Tour'!

I've had some Ironclad British Artillery Figures on the painting table for quite a while so thought I'd get them painted up. These are the usual chunky Ironclad figures I expect and feature some nice details. Also I like any figure in a spiked helmet! Unlike my other Ironclad mini's though these had a bit of flash and and a few seam lines that needed tidying up.


Two gun crews totaling eight figures, nice faces and helmets on these...

Here's the overall picture of the Salisbury Plain set up...


I also painted up the last six Ironclad Postal Service figures I had on hand. These figures are a fanciful VSF unit of mine and they have represented Scouts in games hence their 'brown/tan jackets. When a Scout is attached to a section of troops it gives them movement and cover bonus's due to their dexterous abilities. They will still be used in this way but now I have ten figures including a commander they can be fielded as a complete Scout/Jager/Border Guard etc section...they'll be strong in action with their high ratings and being well armed with a Rapid Fire Rifle  (read LMG here a Lewis Gun in fact) and three Quick Fire Carbines (so SMGs, they are Thompsons with Drum magazines!).


My ten VSF 'Scouts'...

Note these guys could figure in TGAA as 'Brown Shirts' or some other obscure unit maybe a Forestry Ranger force! ☺

Next time, a summary of the Grand Tour I expect!