Monday 31 July 2023
Sunday 30 July 2023
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.
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 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Belgians, French and British to follow and if you think this lot is impressive wait until we get to 1944!
Monday 24 July 2023
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.
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.
Friday 21 July 2023
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
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.
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
Tuesday 18 July 2023
Monday 17 July 2023
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:
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
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 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
Monday 10 July 2023
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
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.
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 - email@example.com
Personally I am looking forward to the ships and the library!