Friday, 30 August 2013

Chieftains, by Bob Forrest-Webb

Chieftains by Bob Forrest-Webb first popped up on my radar screen way back in 1986-87 when I bought TTG's Battlezones - Scenarios for the Ultra Modern Period which featured Chieftains amongst its list of scenario sources though I was never able to lay my hands on a copy.

This book popped up again a couple of years ago when it was recommended over on TMP but again no joy was had in finding a copy for even tattered ones seemed to command utterly ridiculous prices.

Now, thanks to the joys of electronic reprints, the book is once again available for a reasonable price as a Kindle edition and I was finally able to see what the fuss was all about. And a pretty good read it is, I must say.

First published in 1982, the book charts the fate of Chieftain crews from the BAOR's 14/20th Hussars (along with cameo appearances by an SAS stay-behind party and a US tank unit) as they face the onslaught of the Red Hordes in northern Germany's plains. While the year is not specified, from the equipment described, it is obviously set in 1982/83. The book is very much a worm's eye view of a hypothetical WW3 and does not concern itself with the whys and therefores.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Recce rodent: QRF 15mm FV701 Ferret Mk 2/3 mini review

Just for a change, a Cold War stalwart has joined the ultra modern vehicles I have on the assembly line: QRF's 15mm FV701 Ferret Mk 2/3 which is an exceedingly nice little model (and a really small one too).

There is actually not a lot to say about this model: the detail is very crisp, the proportions are spot on, the casting is free of flash and mould lines and assembling the seven pieces (hull, turret and five wheels) is a breeze. This one is definitely one of the best models I have from the QRF stable.

Simply slap on some paint, add a couple of aerials and this diminutive scout car will rapidly join your Bedfords, Unimogs, Berliets and Landrovers for a wee bit of armoured escort all over the dying colonial empires of the 60s and 70s...

Monday, 26 August 2013

Pocket MBT: QRF 15mm FV107 Scimitar Mk1 review

For a bit of armour support when the Warriors and Challengers are not around, the Scimitar armoured reconnaissance vehicle can stand in as a pocket MBT (well, that what the Treasury seems to think anyway). This is produced both by QRF and possibly MJ Figures. The latter is sold as a Falklands-era Scorpion but the gun looks like something of a cross between a 76mm low pressure and a Rarden so a replacement gun will give you either version. As for the QRF model, it is modelled after the current configuration of the Scimitar Mk1 even though the photo of the company's website is that of an older model in Falklands-era configuration.

The QRF model is a very nice, simple kit with four pieces: turret, hull, two track pieces. The fit is excellent throughout and the tracks are particularly well designed to ensure that they are level. As with the Warriors, the 30mm Rarden was rebuilt from brass rod and tubes in the interest of longevity.

Open hatched would have made it perfect but you can't have it all. As it is, it's basically perfect for a Telic Scimitar and could be modified to an Afghan configuration with additional ECM although adding the bar armour would be a challenge in this scale.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Chobham gypsy wagon : QRF 15mm up-armoured Warrior review

Along with the Challenger 2 (reviewed here) my last order from QRF included a trio of MCV80 Warrior with Chobham which is the FV510 Warrior in its wartime configuration with large slabs of Chobham applique armour added to the front and  sides.

This configuration was first seen in Operation Granby and also used in Kosovo and Operation Telic. For a mid-eighties vehicle both QRF and Skytrex make the vanilla Warrior, while Old Glory UK has an updated version of the Warrior with WRAP 2 ERA package hidden in its modern infantry listing.

The QRF Warrior is nice and chunky with very few parts: a hull, two track pieces, a turret and two side skirts. Overall detail is good as is the quality of casting. The frontal Chobham block is a little on the thick side, thick enough in fact that the driver would hardly see over it but this isn't really noticeable unless the model is viewed from the side and held at eye level. The side skirts might be a little on the thin side and could be thickened with plasticard but they look the part and I left these alone. As you can see in the photos, the track to hull fit needs a little filler but that is not much of an issue since it is mostly hidden behind the armoured skirts.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Old, cold warriors: Roskopf 1/100 model vehicles

Rather less well-known than Roco Minitanks, producer of 1/87 vehicles, the RMM Roskopf range of 1/100 models produced in Germany from the late 50s to the early 90s has quite a bit to offer a wargamer interested in putting together a 15mm Cold War force or one of the numerous ones that use NATO hand-me-downs.

Obviously, since the range had models released over nearly forty years, the quality was very variable with the older models being crude and of interest only to collectors (the M-47, M-48 and Centurion and most of the WW2 models spring to mind here).

Even though all the models are rather simple quite a few of them are worth seeking out because they have the advantages of injection-moulded plastic: clearly defined detail and straight sharp edges with are sometimes missing from their white metal counterparts. In addition, a lot of these models were never produced by anyone else in this scale.

As you would expect, the range strongly focused on vehicles used by the Bunderswehr vehicles but other NATO forces and Warsaw Pact vehicles also featured which gives you a nice selection of Cold War armour. Below are some of the models I've been able to pick up dirt cheap in a local model shop of the dusty cavern variety and eBay. You can find a full list of Roskopf models over on the 87th Scale website. One word of warning: unlike the military range, Roskopf's later civilian range of trucks was produced in 1/87 scale.