Saturday 9 January 2016

The “Cruise” of the Landship Borodino – AAR

This scenario is the one I used to develop the special rules for FUBAR VSF to cover my Super Heavy Ironclads AKA Landships. I guessed five Armoured Steam Wagons in cooperation should be able to take down one of these bad boys, I was wrong only in 1 out of 4 games were the Armoured Steam Wagons successful and this scenario featured the weakest of the Landship Classes I have. I suspect that either six Armoured Steam Wagons or the existing five but with better Activation ratings will be required to do the business so the next time this scenario is played I’ll make such a change.

The “Cruise” of the Landship Borodino


January 16th 1878
Corringham Essex England

In the New Year of 1880 the Imperial Russian Army landed an elite unit near the mouth of the Thames Estuary at Canvey Island. This sortie was to take pressure off the landings further north and make a dash for the British capital. The offensive was planned by the top men of the Imperial Army Intelligence Bureau and sanctioned by Prince Alexander Mikhailovich Gorchakov, the Imperial Russian Foreign Minister himself!

A combat group from the 4th Steam Grenadier Regiment with the newly completed Landship Borodino would make up this fighting formation. The Tsar feared committing a Landship to England in winter months when the weather was inclement and the ground wet but his Foreign Minister convinced him the risk would be worth the prestige gained at the sorties victorious conclusion.

The landings were completed successfully but with one problem the Russian Grenadiers were landed miles west of their destination and were assembling to the west of the town of Corringham while the Landship Borodino was put ashore at its correct disembarkation point near Canvey Island well to the east of Corringham!

As soon as the officer leading the the Russian infantry realised this he immediately moved his men east to meet the Borodino but they became entangled with local militia, using their new Marconi wireless set they contacted the commander of the Borodino, Captain Matyushenko to let him know the situation.

Captain Matyushenko decided to move west at top speed to rendezvous with his infantry support so together they could complete their assigned mission. He ordered full steam ahead and with a rousing Hurrah from the entire crew the Borodino lurched west and into local folklore…they were unaware that Armoured Steam Wagons of the Prince of Wales Light Dragoon Regiment were carrying out training exercises nearby shaking down their new vehicles and their officer Captain Mainwaring had orders to intercept the Russian behemoth.

The stage is now set for the action near Corringham to begin… 

British Force
Captain Percival Mainwaring
Elements of the Prince of Wales Light Dragoon Regiment
5 x Armoured Steam Wagons
Russian Force
Captain Afanasy Matyushenko
Landship Borodino (Pandora Class)

 Scenario Rules
  • The Russian have the initiative every turn
  • On turn one every vehicle has automatic Activation
  • The British enter from the western edge of the table
  • The Russian enters from the eastern edge of the table
  • To win the Russian must exit the Borodino from the western edge of the table, any damage taken is irrelevant as long as it exits the table edge

Game AAR

The Borodino entered at full speed on turn one while the British came onto the table directly opposite and "it was on" from turn two!

At long range the Borodino took out one of the British Armoured Steam Wagons and continued straight down the centre of the table.

The British suffering from inconsistent activations fired as soon as they were in range of the Russian Landship but initially to no avail.

Turn 4 and the Borodino’s front turret again belched smoked and flame and put a second British Vehicle from the Prince of Wales Own Dragoons out of action but its machineguns were still out of range and turning to manoeuvre the rear turret into action would mean slowing down its westward progress.

At this stage British fire was still ineffective they scored only a few hits and the Russian saving throws negated them all!

The next turn literally turned the game. Captain Matyushenko decided it was time to turn and bring his full broadside to bear on his foes when an Activation roll of one sent the Borodino to the Breakdown Table. The result was a power surge; the Borodino was to move straight forward the total number of inches on two regular dice. The result was TWELVE suddenly the Russians were over half way across the board and within two inches of ramming a British Armoured Steam Wagon!

Luckily for the British their three remaining vehicles passed their activation rolls on this turn and a hail of fire was poured into the Borodino. The results a the barrage were nasty, four crewman dead, one secondary machine gun destroyed plus 2 speed hits and 2 two steering hits were accumulated. One more speed or steering hit and it was all over for the Borodino.

The Dice Gods turned on the British next turn as the Borodino lumbered around them all three of their vehicles failed their Activation Rolls and to make it worse through the Breakdown Table one of the Armoured Steam Wagons surged forward and rammed another while a second brewed up!!!!

I’ll pause here for a moment to run through the FUBAR VSF vehicle rules and explain the second British vehicle brewing up. For any vehicle an Activation roll of one incurs a roll on the Breakdown Table which this vehicle did, it got a six, the result of that was it had to roll again but this time on the Damage Table, it rolled another six which means a further roll but moving onto the Catastrophe Table (I know sounds ominous) it then rolled yet another six which results in a KABOOM effect no guesses what that means…this is one of the things I love about these rules the unpredictability of the technology!

Okay at this stage the game was up for the British a full broadside from the Borodino wrecked their remaining vehicle allowing the damaged but functional Landship to limp off of the western edge of the board securing a victory.

Some pictures friom the AAR above:

The British force five of Armoured Steam Wagons from the Prince of Wales Light Dragoon Regiment before the start of play

The Imperial Russian Landship Borodino fires its first devastating slavo!

The Borodino surges forward out of control and almost rams a British vehicle!

After suffering a heavy bombardment the Borodino is lucky as it limps around the British vehicles two of which are about to fall victim to the Breakdown Table!

The end of game as the Borodino takes out the last British Armoured Steam Wagon.
The large 12 sided red die is recording crew casualties on the Borodino and the two four sided ones are recording the steering and speed hits it was a close run thing!

Next time…errrm Building the USLS Lexington

Friday 8 January 2016

The Steam Driven Armoured Aeronautical Conveyance Flies!

The first Steam Driven Armoured Aeronautical Conveyance was built in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina USA it was dispatched via train to the testing grounds in Virginia. Below are images taken of it during the shake down process, note this picture was taken soon after the launch of the USLS Lexington while Captain Darling and his British delegation were still on hand and they are seen in the photographs:

Well only a couple more days of my ‘Festive Season’ leave left so I’ll make hay while the sun shines (quite literally here in Adelaide, South Australia!) and get a couple more Posts up on the Blog before I become time poor again.

Well the Steam Driven Flying Fighting Contraption needed a stand and my plan was to put together a heavy base with an extending aerial like those on portable radios or the old cordless phone base units had. But since after moving house last year (the reason for my hiatus on gaming and this blog during that time) I’ll be buggered if I can find half of what I know I have ‘somewhere’ but given that I managed to find and old aerial albeit not the thicker one I know I have 'somewhere'!

Okay armed with an old food jar lid, an aerial, some premixed cement and some sheet styrene I went to work! The thinner aerial is a little stressed when extended by the flyer’s weight but it is still strong enough for my purposes. I was able to extend it to the third segment but that was pushing its strength luckily I only need two level for my FUBAR VSF games (I'll Post my FUBAR VSF Flyer rules soon). 
  1. I started by cementing the aerial into the base i.e. old breakfast spread lid.
  2. Then I built a frame the flyer could sit on with a tube like connector that could sit on the aerial top.
  3. The base was painted/detailed.
  4. I attached the frame to the aerial top, note that this is not permanent yet as if I find my stronger aerial I’ll update the stand which will also give it extra strength if ever I up the weight of the flyer by powering the propellers.
A picture of the stand with a jar of the donor breakfast spread included. Vegemite is an Australian institution and I believe it will be mandatory for all visitors to our great country to try it (actually that’s not true…):

The cement filling has given the stand all the ballast it will ever need, next to the base is the simple frame that the Flyer can sit on:

Coming soon: more stuff…hmm I’ve only got three days of leave left and so much to write up!

Thursday 7 January 2016

VSF Artillery & Wheels from 'Victoria Miniatures'

Here’s Captain Darling with some of his Royal Artillery buddies playing with their new VSF auto loading artillery piece and a very nice looking bit of equipment it is too:

Well with some of my Christmas money I thought I’d increase the size of "little armies" so I placed an order with Trenchworx and another with a company I found only recently called Victoria Miniatures. I liked the looks of the ‘heavy guns’ and ‘wheels’ on their site. Now I can make guns myself but theirs looked good and I can’t make wheels very (well in large numbers anyway) so I thought I’d take advantage of their pre-Christmas discounts on the items I was interested in and their standard policy of free shipping on orders over $50.
I ordered:
1 x Auto Cannon (25% off)
2 x Heavy Twin Stubber (25% off)
2 x Heavy Bolter (25% off)
1 x Ammo Crates

Now I was surprised when only a few days my order arrived! I thought that was some super delivery and then to my surprise I noticed on the package label this is an Australian company and to make it more interesting they are only 10-15 minutes drive from my front door! I was surprised by this as nothing on their website flags them as Australian (unless I missed something!), the prices are in USD, it’s a .com website with a .net email address. Anyway I’ve contacted them again and any future orders I’ll just pick up!
Regarding Victoria Miniatures VSF products, they have a great looking range of heavy and light weapons and modular figures where you can buy complete figures sets (in cases mixing and matching what you want) or just lots of parts i.e. sets of heads, sets of arms etc. I would love some bearskin clad heads but this is one option they don’t currently have so will have to go elsewhere for them! I love the look of many of the figures and may get some of their Tannenburg Fusiliers.
Now as to the quality of the products I can only comment on the heavy artillery and wheels I have on hand and here's what I thought:

Great looking designs they look fantastic on the the gaming table
The detail was sharp and crisp and the casting sreflected it well
There was not one air bubble in any piece
There was flash in places (but easily scrapped off)
There are mould seam lines
Here’s a picture of a sample of what greeted me when I unpacked the parcel:

Here’s the guns all assembled and painted (to a war game standard):

The only issue I had with the sets I got from Victoria Miniatures were the mould seam lines, they are pronounced and if you are after building a high quality looking model rather than 'just' a gaming piece you will have to spend some time on them. I simple dragged my scalpel over the worst of them a couple of times so they would less noticable and now they make very presentable artillery pieces on my VSF gaming table.
I’ll definitely do a bulk order for some Victoria Miniatures wheels for future VSF Vehicles/Landships and I have saved a lot of man hours building their good looking artillery pieces for my armies. Whether their items are value for money is a decision each individual has to make up their own mind on.
Here's the link to their website:
Oh and just so everyone knows I have no financial or product interests in Victoria

Righty'O Next Post will definitely be an AAR, hold on maybe it will definitely be Building the USLS Lexington hmmm well it will definitely "be something"...

Saturday 2 January 2016

The United States LandShip Lexington Launched!

I’m enjoying building models for the VSF scenarios I am developing and being able to incorporate this blogs lead character into these games is going to be even more fun! Anyway having completed my third “Landship” I’ve put a bit of a story together to go with it, I hope you enjoy reading it!

‘The World Stunned - The United States Land Ship Lexington Launched!’ read the headlines of newspapers all over the world as they were being printed on the first day of February 1877. That was the day that out of the blue the Government of the United States of America released the news to the world that the first of its Landships, the Lexington was now fully operational. This towering Landship was bombastically claimed by Administration to be a major leap forward in Landship technology and construction!

The information released about the USLS Lexington revealed it was an impressive fighting machine in every respect: the armament consisted of an ‘all big gun’ arrangement; four 32 pounder guns in forward mounted turrets, a single rearward firing 48 pounder and two quick firing 7 pounder guns mounted one each side of the superstructure, it is the fastest operational Landship in existence with its propulsion supplied by the latest compact high pressure steam turbine engine from the Cincinnati Steam Engine Company, the powerplant drives to six large independently sprung steel reinforced wooden wheels, the well armoured hull is complimented by a heavy front armoured plate and two curved main turrets all three cast in single pieces thus providing excellent protection for the dozen man crew, lastly the conning tower is well protected and placed high above the hull giving good all round visibility. The builders were certain their magnificent new armoured Goliath would give engineers all around the world something to think seriously about when planning their own new designs!

A display day for the world to see this new technological marvel was announced and “guests” from all the major countries of the globe were invited. They were to see the USLS Lexington engaged in a live fire exercise and then after that was completed and they had seen the Landship run through its paces there would be an opportunity for a close up inspection session.

The display day, February 7th 1877 was attended by the President, Ulysses S Grant his wife and staff, many members of the Senate and Congress, the whole of the USA military command structure, no fewer than 100 representatives from 48 different countries from around the world and dozens of newspaper reporters all anxious to see the new USLS Lexington in action and to also get a up close to it.

The whole show ran like clockwork as “Ol Lex” manoeuvred in cooperation with infantry, cavalry and smaller Armoured Steam Wagons to take all the objectives assigned to them during the grand military exercise, a massive fireworks display accompanied by a rousing brass band followed the end of the war games and continued until the USLS Lexington had been repositioned and prepared (cleaned) for the “guests” to inspect it.

During the reception after the inspection time was completed the President was empowered by the just completed spectacle and was able to reinforce his countries place as a great power with the attending emissaries. A lighter point came about during the political jockeying of the reception soon after supper when the First Lady, Julia Grant expressed to a delegation from the coach making firm that supplied the hull for the Lexington if it came in any other brighter colours to which a young teenage employee, Henry Ford said “We can supply our customers the hull painted any colour that they want so long as it is battleship grey.” There was much joyous laughing at his remark!

The two official USLS Lexington launch Photographs, these were available for all the guests at the great display day to buy along with a copy of the official program:

As well as purchasing the official program and photographs Captain Darling who attended the ‘launch function’ for the USLS Lexington on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government took many notes and made sketches while subtly questioning as many engineers and test crew as he could about the new Landship. He made some astounding discoveries he was quick to dispatch to his superiors in Great Britain. Like all fighting vehicle the Lexington was a fine balance of weapons, armour and drive train and there were limits that had to be taken into account in all three of those areas. The three main examples of shortfalls in the design he discovered and which the Americans had failed to include in the data they released to the world on their new Super Heavy Ironclad were: the new engine even though powerful and compact was prone to overheat so a large cooling vent was installed on the port side of the hull therefore the armour was very weak at that point, the high conning tower was so high in fact that it could actually overbalance the whole vehicle if turns were taken too quickly or too sharply and finally the superior speed was not just due to the new engine armour weight was reduced on the vehicles sides and rear making it less impervious to fire in those areas.

Captain Darling and Major F. Lieter of the United States Army pose by the USLS Lexington while another member of the British delegation gets dirty inspecting the new Landship closely!

Next time - A run down the building of the USLS Lexington and maybe some more AARs…
Oh and Happy New Year!