Monday 31 July 2023

1940 - Eric Knowles Style….Part 2

After the photographic onslaught that was the Germans it was only right that the next post should comprise the French. Again, no armour to speak of but it is an impressive collection all the same.

Fortress types

Colonial infantry support and artillery

Colonial infantry


More fortress types plus guns

Artillery and some unpainted support

More artillery

Even more artillery!

Armoured infantry

The unpainted but not unorganised bits and bobs

Motorised infantry with some unpainted stuff

I must confess to being mystified as to why with the 1940 collection there does not appear to be any armour other than that of the Belgians (in the next post). Knowing Eric I can only assume that he had stockpiled the material for this and the box full has yet to be found or perhaps he collaborated with another gamer that had the requisite vehicles? I doubt if if we will ever know as Bill is quite certain that all the boxes I have are in fact all the boxes there are. Who knows?

There are some of Eric’s conversions in this collection - he would press gang vehicles from the most unlikely sources and ‘paint them into something suitable’ - and the two turreted fortress guns are of his own design. 

As usual all this is up for disposal although currently under review by an interested party. Any enquiries about the French should be emailed to me -

Next up will be the Belgians and some Dutch.

Sunday 30 July 2023

1940 - Eric Knowles Style…Part 1

This is largely a photo dump type of blog post as these will describe themselves far more eloquently that i will be able to!

To start with we have Germans.


Wagons and Limbers


A slightly damaged glider

Eric’s heavy mortars

Fallschirmjager support


Fallschirmjager recce - again featuring some of Eric’s conversions

Fallschirmjager artillery

Wehrmacht Recce - a lot of Airfix figures in this one as well as conversions etc

Air landing support

Air landing infantry

More Air landing infantry

Phew! There is quite a lot of stuff although the big omission appears to be any form of armour. You cannot have 1940 Germans without tanks so I am wondering if another box is lurking somewhere, waiting for Bill to uncover it!

All of the above is available to buy so should anyone be interested then please drop me a line -

Belgians, French and British to follow and if you think this lot is impressive wait until we get to 1944!

Monday 24 July 2023

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em!

Direct from the Rapid Fire website and costing the princely sum of £5 each,  the basic rules and some extras - paratroops, gliders, amphibious landings etc. The website is really useful with plenty of free downloadable stuff as well as the various scenario or campaign guides available to purchase.

Eric was incredibly well organised in respect of his WW2 collection. All of the completed units are described in their storage boxes and the unpainted figures are bagged by sub unit with a small card inside telling exactly what they are and where they fit in at a higher level. This has proven to be really helpful as I sort through the collection. As Eric used the popular Rapid Fire rules (no doubt with some of his own ideas incorporated!) in a moment of whimsy I figures it would be useful to pick up a copy of the latest version which duly arrived this morning. 

I have seen and used these rules in the past but not for some time. They give a good fun game and are a sensible way to model WW2 formations on the tabletop without going over the top - quite how Eric coped with using divisions is frankly beyond me but it would have been fascinating to see his armies in action under his command. Sadly I know of no pictures or reports of this phase of his wargaming career but of one thing I am certain - his scenarios would have been carefully thought out and with a great background story to support them.

For my own part I would only fight at battalion or possibly brigade level at a push as this would give a good game with all the usual WW2 ‘bells and whistles’. For a more detailed experience there are plenty of other rules that cater for this axle of operations - ‘O’ Group being a popular set. 

It would be a simple matter to organise battalion sized formations to use with Rapid Fire from Eric’s collection and such is the size of it that the missing figures would barely be missed!

Something else to think about then.

Both Ends of WW2 in NW Europe

Not what you would have expected to find in a WW2 collection! 30mm Higgins (Jason) figures as identified by Aly Morrison and the legend that is MSFoy! There was a single box of these hidden away in a box of German 1944 SS armoured vehicles!

The great sort out of Eric’s WW2 collection has begun in earnest with the arranging of the umpteen boxes full of models and figures into their nationalities. As expected this was a fairly straightforward undertaking and so I now have a better idea of what is what. I will post pictures in due course but for now I need to really tidy up the boxes as many of these are damaged beyond repair, as well as being too large for the contents in many cases.

The collection contains a selection of forces for both ends of the war so for 1940 there is a large French Army, a substantial quantity of Belgians, a brigade of British infantry and for the Germans there are paratroops, infantry and air landing infantry complete with a glider, along with a bridging and assault boat detachment.The Belgians have a lot of unpainted kit - especially the famous Chasseurs Ardennais. Oddly enough the only force that has any armour is the Belgians and pretty much all of it are Eric’s improvisations. There are however, plenty of support weapons available.

There is also a large box of German wheeled transport. I suspect that Eric may have used these for both ends of the war although it is all painted in early war grey.

For 1944 the selection is rather more expansive. The British have a complete armoured division plus the 1st Airborne and the Polish Parachute brigade as well as Commandoes. There is also a set up for Burma which includes brigades of British, Indian and Chindits. The Germans have a pair of SS Panzer Divisions, a paratroop division, a Volksgrenadier division as well as a coastal division complete with fortifications. There is also a whole pile of American stuff. There are are a couple of anomalies though.

There is some Russian heavy artillery and AA and even a selection of Italian heavy weapons - but nothing to go with them!

On top of this lot a box of Ottoman Turkish stuff appeared - mainly artillery (no surprise there then!) but with a cavalry unit and some wagons. There are also some native porter types which may have served in Madasahatta but I would have to check.

I have managed to extract the unpainted stuff and that will be the first of the collection for disposal.

Most of it is for the Germans - I have yet to take sort out the Belgians and French - with the British close behind. All have been organised as per the Rapid Fire rules (I have just ordered a copy of the ‘reloaded’ version for reference) and Eric very carefully organised the figures into sub units with a small piece of card telling what they are. There is usually a high level TOE accompanying the unit as well.

A German Coastal Division
A German Volksgrenadier Division
A German Fallschirmjager Division
A Germany Cavalry unit - described as an infantry division recce regiment
A Regiment of British Commandoes
A Brigade for the 14th Army - one battalion each of British, Indian and Chindits
A battery of British SPs
A battery of 3.7” AA guns plus crews
A ‘spare’ infantry battalion
A box of metal Recce vehicles - Dingoes and similar
A platoon of US Pershing Tanks

I have yet to tackle the French and Belgians as they also have unpainted figures attached to them.

Plenty to do then - not least of which is identifying the figures that Eric used - as usual they appear to be from a number of manufacturers….

Friday 21 July 2023

The Evolution of a Trireme

A and B incorporated a couple of requested tweaks from me - one of which was inspired by that all round good guy, Kaptain Kobold (thanks old chap!) - but my instructions on certain ares were not particularly clear. The final model will incorporate the hull and oar section from A, with the oars reduced in size slightly, and the out riggers from the third model from the top along with the card ‘screens’ of the same length.

By way of a change I received in the post a couple of days ago two samples of triremes following the first version and which incorporated some minor changes. We are not quite there - due to my rather vague instructions - but the next one will be it. My design process is generally quite clumsy and vague and I am sure that Martin at Warbases must grown inwardly as he sets to work to translate my scribblings into something tangible. Between the two of us we eventually muddle through and I take my hat off to him for his patience!

The final adjustments concern the size of the oars - I have requested a reduction on each side of 5mm as the Kaptain Kobold inspired reduction of the angle of ‘sweep’ from 45 degrees to 60 meant that they stood further out from the hull than previously. I also moved the locating ‘slot’ for the oars forward toward the bow by 2mm so they more central. I reckon this will be it.

I have ordered a single example just to ensure that it is all good to go and once signed off the order will be for sixty ships in total. The rules are more of less complete and the only other thing I need to organise is a hexed cloth (2” across the flats), build a Greek temple and paint the models. Simple eh?

It is when you say or write it quickly!


Thursday 20 July 2023

Three Steps to Heaven….

Altogether now…”Now there, are three steps to heaven…” So sang Eddie Cochran (and Showaddywaddy back in 1975) but in this case it refers, literally, to the steps I have taken in respect of Eric’s WW2 collection. I have no idea why this particular song should have come to mind only that getting the car full of stuff into the man cave involved, yes, you have guessed it, three steps.

Step 1.

From the car to the ‘office’ - the desk at the top is my workstation for work or, as my boss whimsically describes it, where the magic happens….

Unfortunately the office was not big enough for everything so the stairs were pressed into service. It was all going up there anyway!

Step 2.

After what felt like having climbed the north face of the Eiger - a veiled reference to the umpteen number of times I went up and down the stairs - the entire collection sits proudly blocking the landing with an overspill into the bedroom on the right

Step 3.

Finally, everything is in the man cave. The table you see is full underneath as well whilst wooden trays of 1944 British and Americans round along the left.

Trust me, this looks a lot worse than it is as Eric tended to follow the Amazon style of packing for much of this collection. A myriad of boxes that are too large for the contents - yes, there is some minor damage to a few vehicles - and are in poor condition with crushed sides and all sorts. Just visible in the picture above are some of the nine cucumber boxes Eric had used - he also made extensive use of them for the 18th century collection - some of which have the date of 1994 stamped on the side…

I had a chance to take a slightly closer look at what there is as I was lugging it up into the man cave. Obviously I will have a better idea once I can spend some time with all but a provisional list looks something like this:

1940 French including Colonial types
1940 Belgians
1940 British
1944 British - Infantry and armour
1944 British Paratroops
1944 Polish Paratroops
1944 German SS - infantry and armour
1944 German Volksgrenadier
German Falschirmjager - not sure which end of the war yet!
German Infantry - again, not sure which end of the war yet!
German bridging unit
1944 German Coastal and Fortress troops
1944 British 14th Army
1944 US - infantry and armour
Russian heavy artillery

With all of these in addition to there is a ton of support and command, recce, AT, engineers, AA and artillery of every imaginable calibre. Everything is organised, as far as I can see, to brigade level and upwards for use with Rapid Fire. 

There seems to be a lot of Britannia figures and vehicles and whilst a big chunk is painted the amount of unpainted stuff is considerable. If you need five Pershing tanks let me know…

There is also a box of Ottoman Turkish artillery for the 17th century as well as a selection of traction style heavy artillery tractors.

Did I mention the German cavalry regiment plus support?

This is going to be a huge undertaking to sort out and also to see what, to be frank, is unlikely to find a home. There is a substantial quantity of Eric’s conversions - some of which work better than others - that as Bob Cordery pointed out, would be great in an imagination style environment.

The great sort out will start this weekend and the first order of business will be get the nationalities in their separate piles and also to replace some of the more damaged boxes.

By the way, there are three Matchbox/Revell Jagdpather kits still on their sprues but without decals.

This is going to be fun. A lot of work, but fun….

The Eagle has Landed

What the interior of twenty year old Honda Civic (luckily with five doors!) when full to the rafters with WW2 goodies looks like! For the record I could see out the rear view mirror over the 1944 British Armour….

And from the side - you can just about make out the box of unpainted figures on the front passenger seat!

As mentioned previously, yesterday evening saw me take the quick forty minute drive to visit Bill at Maison Knowles, deep in the Essex countryside, to relieve him of the WW2 collection of his father. The pictures above give you an idea of the size of the task and yes, the front passenger seat was occupied with a large box full of unpainted figures!

As I type this the collection is still in the car and so will be unpacked at lunchtime and transported into the man cave for a proper sort out. There were a few surprises - not least of which was a further box of Ottoman Turkish bits and pieces that were missed off from the original haul. 

This is going to be a significant undertaking and so I will be spending some time organising and re boxing a lot of it into something more manageable. There appears to be quite a lot of Corgi die cast vehicle, some items of terrain, some large calibre artillery and more rear echelon and support stuff than could shake a large stick at!

There are troops from either end of the war including French, Germans, Poles, Belgians, Russians, Americans and British (including the 14th army for Burma). Plenty to be getting on with then!

Tuesday 18 July 2023

The Modelling Wargamer

There is a cunning plan behind all this lot and their arrival is extremely will timed!

I was delighted today to receive two items from the well known South American river that are essential for the completion of Developing the Portable Ironclads Wargame. A box of six white paint pens suitable for use on various materials - including fabric - and a pack of one hundred 6” long pipe cleaners may seem a little unusual when discussing ironclads but there is a very good reason behind the purchase.

The pens will be used to mark out a square grid on a spare blue cloth I have whilst the pipe cleaners are destined for game related markers - at least some of them will be. Painted green they can be used as 3mm scale hedges and I have also seen them used as missile markers for use in modern aerial combat games.

The lengths of bamboo you see came to me courtesy of my art and craft obsessed daughter, Holly, and are what remains of an earlier project she was involved in. As an early stages teacher (newly qualified) she will be running various art and craft style things with her class so any odds and ends she is left with may well find a home with her old dad!

For the record the longer bamboo skewer is one of my standard types I use primarily for masts and yes, I have plenty of these in stock. The shorter ones, which are the same thickness, will certainly be used in due course especially as I have around fifteen or so ironclads to build that have a full sailing rig.

So this weekend will see a degree of artistic endeavour along with the small matter of sorting out Eric’s 20mm WW2 collection.

I am hoping that both endeavours will prove to be fun!

Monday 17 July 2023

Developing the Portable Ironclads Wargame….Part Umpteenth

Action on the High Seas (and on squares) as a Confederate raider attempts to evade a Union patrol. This particular scenario was based on the WW2 Battle of the River Plate.

Against the backdrop of the impending arrival of several metric tons worth of 20mm WW2 kit I have been busy beavering away at what will become the follow on title to the Portable Ironclads Wargame - the rather unoriginal title you see at the header of this post!

It was moving along at a rather sedate pace but is now most certainly heading into the final lap. The provisional chapter list looks a little like this:

1. Introduction

2. Acknowledgements

3. Thoughts on Initiative and Movement

4. More Thoughts on Movement

5. Thoughts on Firing

6. More thought on Firing

7. Using Squares

8. Expanded ACW Ship Specs

9. A Battle Report using some of the above optional rules and fought on a square grid

10. The War in the Pacific - An Overview

11. War in the Pacific Ship Specs

12. Final Thoughts and Next Steps

13. The Portable Ironclad Wargame - An Errata (surprisingly small but included to tidy up a few things)

Once again it is very much a collaborative effort and will be published by Eglinton Books as part of the Portable Wargame stable. The Editor in Chief - Bob Cordery - will be penning a chapter for inclusion in the book and David Manley has supplied some pictures along with both sets of ship specs (that I have then amended into the Portable Ironclads Wargame format). It should be available soon(ish) in the same formats as previously so PDF, Kindle, soft and hardback.

I have a few pictures to organise for the chapters on movement and naturally the battle report needs to be written - once I have decided what to do and have written it up!

Saturday 15 July 2023

Four More Sleeps….

Boxes, thousands of ‘em! Note the wooden drawer full of what look like British vehicles in the foreground.

The arrival of the WW2 collection of Eric Knowles is a mere four days away! Bill and I have been exchanging messages and the picture you see above is all but sixteen boxes worth of it. There are the inevitable  cucumber boxes used for storage - the 18th century collection featured loads of these - a well as some wooden drawers. Bill has assured me that in true Eric tradition there are plenty of organisational charts - usually carefully written notes (I have a tin full of his 18th century notes)) - which will be helpful as I sort the collection out prior to disposal.

The plan is to sort it all out into nationalities and then get busy taking pictures. I have a small network of contacts that are into 20mm WW2 so I am confident that a goodly portion will wing its way to new homes. As for the 18th century collection the money realised is not the issue. Bill’s mantra is very much making sure that it all goes to gamers that will appreciate the collection so expect the prices to be quite modest.

I am really looking forward to getting stuck into this lot and who knows? I may even succumb to the delights of 20mm WW2 myself!

Thursday 13 July 2023

WW2 Eric Knowles Style - The Belgians

WW2 Belgians - Eric Knowles Style!

Now here is something you are unlikely to see very often. This is the 1940 Belgian part of the WW2 collection of Eric Knowles. As yet I do not have these in my possession so have no clue as to the manufacturer of any of the models and equipment you see. I was rather taken by the armour and so did a little a digging on the subject. As I suspected much of this is Eric’s idea of what the Belgians have had rather than what they actually did! 

The Belgian army of the period is not one that I have much information about so I am unable authenticate any of it - perhaps when I have it ‘in the flesh’ so to speak I will get a better idea. Eric would typically start off with a force that was properly organised and with the correct bits and pieces only to then wander off into varying degrees of feasibility that would inevitably diminish over time - as participants in his WW1 South East Asia naval campaign will attest to!

For all of that his improvisations were usually well reasoned though - they would probably offend the purist but Eric was never one to worry too much about that!

Tuesday 11 July 2023

WW2 Eric Knowles Style - Gliders

An Airspeed Horsa coming in for what looks like a heavy landing - I hope he got the nose up a little!

The pace is hotting up in that plans have been finalised for me to pick up the WW2 collection of Eric Knowles. I shall be heading over into deepest Essex to Bill’s place and will then pack the car to the gunwales with painted 20mm WW2 stuff. I was swapping message with Bill earlier today and two things emerged - firstly that the collection included gliders and secondly, there is around 50Kg of UNPAINTED figures and equipment that Bill had forgotten about!

One of my contacts had enquired about gliders - along with heavy artillery - so he will be delighted when I tell him there are some. At this stage I have no clue as to what they are but am willing to bet that the Airspeed Horsa will feature.

So Wednesday 19th July is the day so expect a flurry of posts afterwards - as soon as I have recovered from shifting umpteen boxes of figures and equipment into the man cave!

Monday 10 July 2023

Update on WW2 Eric Knowles Style

It’s German, it’s tracked and carries a rather large calibre gun. The Morser Karl - definitely Eric Knowles territory!

Just a quick post to let you know where we are at in respect of the humongous 20mm WW2 collection of the late Eric Knowles. Bill, Eric’s son, will be sorting out the collection with the idea being that I will go and collect the same to move into my loft. From here it will be easier to properly organise and take the all important questions. I have a stockpile of suitable packaging material so shipping will be easy enough, albeit rather tedious and probably my least favourite part of the process!

Eric was well known for mixing scales, manufacturers and in some cases even historical periods in his collections and the WW2 set up is no exception. The scales employed are 1:87th, 1:72nd and 1:76th and feature models in metal, plastic and resin - certainly the latter is a mixture that only gamers of a certain vintage would understand!

I was asked by a contact who had previously acquired some unpainted WW2 material from Eric’s collection if he had any heavy - 150mm and larger - artillery. I smiled inwardly at this as Eric’s penchant for enormous quantities of artillery is legendary and it was of no surprise when I checked with bill who informed that certainly for the Germans a large tracked mortar featured….

In 20mm…. There was only seven built but I would not be in the least bit surprised if he had all of them!

Lord alone knows what other ‘heavy metal’ is lurking in his collection!

Friday 7 July 2023

WW2 Eric Knowles Style

At long last the next phase of the disposal of the collections of the late Eric Knowles is finally underway. A combination of the pandemic, lockdown and Laurel’s situation have all served to delay things by about four years or so but things are finally starting to move once again. I have been in conversation with Bill, Eric’s son, and he has started the lengthy process of sorting out all of the WW2 kit and so the first pictures are now available.

This is all new territory for me as I never gamed WW2 with Eric and indeed, much of his collection grew after he had moved to Coningsby after he had retired. Needless to say, with Eric being Eric, substantial numbers of models were involved….

There is a whole pile of stuff yet to be photographed but the selection below will give you a flavour. His entire WW2 collection was built using 20mm as the scale of choice and I believe he used Rapid Fire or a variant thereof as his rules of choice.

1st SS LAH Panzer Division command and regimental flak

Panzer Lehr division signals coy and staff officers.

4th British Infantry Division, 2nd Brigade HQ and 4th Battalion - he has five similar battalions!

US Tank Destroyer Battalion - Eric was very fond of including organisational tables with his units!

Slightly out of synch but a close up of the brigade(?) HQ

Elements of Panzer Lehr Divisional HQ (with supply and medical troops)  

One of the other British infantry battalions

And another British infantry battalion - this time of 1940 vintage (with the French, Belgians and Poles to follow!)

Panzer Grenadier Divisional Recce Battalion.

All of the above, along with the rest of Germans, British, Russians and Americans (and the aforementioned French, Belgians and Poles) will be shipped over to me for disposal and by all accounts it will be a substantial undertaking.

As soon as I have more pictures I will be posting them but in the meantime if anyone wants to discuss acquiring any of this collection or has any questions please drop me a line -

Personally I am looking forward to the ships and the library!