Thursday, 17 September 2015

Thanks Half a Million

The blog has recently marked its 500,000th page view. Thanks to all the actual readers and the virtual webbots who have made this possible.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

A disappointing landmark

I've just noticed that due to what seems to have been a surge of robot activity in the last couple of days the total page views for the site have gone over 500,000.

I would have preferred to do this through actual readers, but there you go.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Interwar or VBCW?

What they would have been fighting for...

I have been having a think about my current interwar interest and while there is some overlap with the VBCW (Very British Civil War) I have decided it is very definitely interwar. This might partly because 20mm is less well served than 28mm for specifically VBCW figures, but also because I am a little suspicious of some of the more fanciful VBCW flourishes and because it tends to operate at a skirmish or small action scale.. I want to fight brigade size actions. Everything is temporarily on hold as I am having some painting done in the hose but when this is finished I hope to get some troops on the table.I need to try out various rules but at the moment I am wondering whether I should try Donald Featherstone's 1917 WW1 in Africa rules and see what sort of a game they give.

Working on possible opposition is interesting. Nationalist Spain (attempt to seize Gibraltar), The Old Enemy (French interwar kit is so cool), Italy, and the USSR are all possibilities. I have all these available, plus a horde of FT 17s which should work for just about anyone. I have always been inspired by the "tank chase" at the end of "Comrade X" and the recent availability of some of the Fabbri Russian tank diecasts at The Works led to me looking at some of the other models in the range and I am now waiting on some T-18s and T-24s from ebay and the Ukraine which should provide some good looking and unusual kit. Not hugely representative (though I have shed loads of T-26s) but interesting and different. It is all conjectural anyway so I am giving myself some historical leeway.

Another project I hope to progress once I have some temporary gaming space is Georland and refighting some of the actions in George Keef's Journal. I am planning on using slightly adapted Command and Colors Napoleonic to give a suitable swift game. I have a hex fleece mat from Corsec Engineering for this and will start using Minifigs S Range Crimean War and Franco Prussian War troops. Ideally I would like to use Spencer Smith Classic 30mm but I can't fund that at the moment, i would be a long term aim as I would need at least 500 foot and 100 mounted figures and they would all need assembly and painting. (Actually their 42mm Shiny Toy Soldiers would probably be the nearest to George Keef's original armies but there needs to be some compromise on size and cost).

Meanwhile here are some pictures of my inter war armoured might. With a few swaps of vehicles they will work for a period between around 1924 and 1936 and a fair amount will do for 1940 BEF..

Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Same Old ... "Mud"

Pathe News from the 1932 Westland/Eastland exercises. Notable for the Carden Loyds and 1924 pattern Rolls Royce armoured cars of the 11th Hussars.

However the most intriguing vehicle is the REME detachment in a Burford Kegresse MG Carrier half track at the end.

Speed and More Speed is the Watchword of the Army Today

Further to the discussion in comments with Jim over whether the 1st DLI was an experimental machine gun battalion between 1934 and 1936 or not, a little digging has turned up two more things.

Firstly, in Faithful: The Story of the Durham Light Infantry, by S G P Ward , published in 1962, there is a similar account to that on the Durham Light Infantry 1920-1946 site - indeed almost identical, which suggests Ward's account may be the source for the web site. As Ward was writing less than 30 years after the event (a similar distance then to now and the Falklands War), and as he talked to and corresponded with a large number of ex DLI officers and men, it is unlikely that any inaccuracy in this account would have gone without notice or comment.

Second is the above clip from British Pathe news, on the Army Exercises in Sussex 1936. These are near or contemporaneous with the photograph in the Noel Ayliffe-Jones article on infantry in the Airfix magazine interwar series, and have two sequences showing the 1st Battalion DLI in MG Carriers based on the Vickers Utility Tractor - either Tractor, Light GS, Mk I or Mk Ia. These vehicles seem likely also to have been from B Company - the names Bunty, Barty and Bonzo can be seen, in addition to Bingo which appears in the Airfix magazine article, The vehicles are clearly marked Durham LI and the DLI cap badge can be seen.

This is certainly enough evidence for me that the 1st Battalion DLI was indeed an experimental Machine Gun battalion between 1934 and 1936 and for me to raise it for the wargames table.

Interestingly, if you view the film on the British Pathe site, instead of on YouTube, you have the option of viewing it as stills: The two DLI sequences are in stills 8-11 and 26-38.

Friday, 31 July 2015

David Fletcher's Tank Museum Tank Chats on TouTube

In pursuit of my current interwar interest I have just come across these.

The Tank Museum have published a set of short films about some of the vehicles in the collection, presented by David Fletcher MBE, and titled Tank Chats. These are available on YouTube (below).

I have set up a new page on the Interwar Tank Development blog to post these in a more permanent way.

The ones of particular interwar interest are:

#2 Carden Loyd

#3 Vickers Medium Tank MkII*

#4 Vickers Armstrong Type E

#5 Lanchester Armoured Car

Others in the series are

#1 The A13 Cruiser

#6 Vickers Light Mark VI B

#7 Mark II

An ideal way to use up a few spare minutes

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Friday, 24 July 2015

Update on Interwar Tank Development blog

Breamish have kindly digitised the reamaining photographs from the second Vickers Armstrong Lts d album and sent them to me. I have addes these in a small number of new pots on the Tank Development blog. They include a couple of photos of the A1E1 under construction, plus the Vickers 16 tonners, more Vickers Mediums, the 18 pdr gun transporter and the Armstrong Siddeley Dragon.

The blog can be found here.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Airfix magazine 1979 - interwar articles by Noel Ayliff-Jones

I am indebted to Charles, who while contacting me about something else pointed me to a series of articles in Airfix magazine in the second half of 1979.

Covering British Army vehicles between the wars, they were written by Noel Ayliff-Jones.

There were five articles in the series:
  1. Early mechanised manoeuvres (June 1979)
  2. AFV markings between the wars (July 1979)
  3. Tank recovery in the 1930s (August 1979)
  4. Infantry vehicles of the 1930s (September 1979)
  5. Artillery vehicles between the wars (November 1979)
While the articles themselves are excellent, they are particularly notable for the excellent photographs used to illustrate them. Picture research is credited to David List.

I am posting the fourth article (infantry vehicles) below, and I have added a new page to the Interwar Tank Development blog with all the articles, as they are a very good introduction with excellent photographs.

Infantry vehicles of the 1930s

Noel Ayliff-Jones looks at British trucks and infantry carriers of the 1930s
Airfix magazine September 1979

Monday, 20 July 2015

Bellona Rubber Buildings take 2

David has sent me this photo showing the base of the buildings, marked "Bellona" and with a code number.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Bellona Rubber Buildings

Yes - Bellona not Triang Countryside
Yes - rubber not vac form plastic.

With thanks to DavidP for the photograph of these recent acquisitions of his.

Some are marked with reference numbers - small house H4 front left, bunker M4 in thhe middle, with larger  house H3 and ruined version HD3 behind it on the right. The haystack is in the same style but with no reference number or Bellona branding at the back.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Back to Beamish

I have been back to Beamish today to go through the second album and list all the captions. I have now added these captions and all the interwar photos to the new blog. I have also put a labels gadget early on the page as this is the main means of searching, rather than browsing, the blog.

The new photographs include Carden Loyd Mk VIs of various types, the double half track, an extensive collection of trailers, the Tractor Truck and its variants, Dragons and Light Dragons, bridging, and tilting trials for the Vickers Medium.

Hopefully plenty more of interest. This is all the interwar photos, except some which have not been digitised as yet, possibly because they were too big for the scanner.

These photographs include:
18 pdr tarnsporter of 1922
18 pdr transporter Mk II
Armstrong Siddeley Dragon
Independent Tank - 2 photographs
16 Ton Tank nos 1 & 2
Vickers Medium - 2 photographs
Colonel Breyer D of A (Directorate of Artillery?)
A number of other photos of Mediums Mk i and II.

There are also around 20 photographs of WWII or just post war subjects - 13 of variants of the Valentine, the Tetrarch, Harry Hopkins and several variants of the Alecto. I won't put these on the new blog as they are not interwar but I will look for some other way of making them available.

Next job is to start adding text to posts and methodically looking at the labelling.

There have been more than 6,000 page views on the blog in its first seven days so it looks as if it is proving useful.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Blog Launch - Interwar Tank Development

I am pleased to be able to launch the new Interwar Tank Development blog.

I have put all the photographs from the first Vickers Armstrong Ltd works album held by Beamish Museum in posts with the original captions from the album. In time I intend to add text to all the posts.

Next up will be posting the photos from the second album, but I need to go back to Beamish to sheck the album for the captions and any other information.

The blog also has pages on reference sources and media - this includes links to relevant newsreel clips and an interesting audio archive interview at the IWM.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Exciting times

Well the exciting news is that I came home to a DVD containing the photographs from the two Vickers Armstrong albums held by Beamish Museum.

My first impression was the quality of the photographs. There are also some "action" shots from the trials at Wool in February 1925 and February 1927, and from the Canberley demonstration to Dominion Premiers on Novemeber 13th 1926.

Some Pathe footage of this event can be viewed on YouTube:

Other impressions were how much they were giving half tracks a real go, and there are some very interesting photographs including bridging equipment. I can't  remember seeing any of these photographs in print before.

So what next? I think I will set up a new blog for the photographs and encourage knowledgeable people to make comments which can be added to the posts.

This may take some work; my immediate need is to make sure I have all the original captions from the books, which I don't at the moment. I hope to spread a few interesting photographs around here and on suitable forums. I am quite keen on this so I expect to nake substantial progress quickly - if you remember how fast the Georland blog was done I have a similar commitment to this project.

Once I have a reasonable amount of material on line I will go live and then continue to add to it over time. I hope there will be a substantial amount of information made accessible soon.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Vickers Armstong Ltd photograph albums

After a very pleasant morning at Beamish Museum's Regional Resource Centre I am better informed and have seen some marvellous photographs.. The albums have been in the Museum's collection since the late 1960s. There are two albums: one has an index (pictured above, poor photograph taken today) and the other does not. The contents start with Little Willie (1915) and go up to about 1947, though the WW11 stuff is mostly of Valentines of various sorts.

I don't recall seeing any of the photographs in the albums before - they tend to be factory shots. Highlights include four Birch guns together, a number of pictures of a Vickers Medium bridging tank, and a couple of pictures of the Burford Kegresse MG carrier, one from the front and one from the year.

The museum is going to send me all the images on CD and has given me permission to post them. I will have to work out the best way to do this but there should be some very interesting material starting to come out soon.

And I felt  I was able to give something back as I was able to tell them the difference between a male and a female tank.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Interwar tank development by Vickers Armstrong Ltd - exciting news

This picture is another from the Wonder Book of Soldiers but the good news is I have heard back very promptly from Beamish Museum.

The photographs listed and mentioned in my last post are from two large albums which came from Vickers. As I undesrtand it there may be more photographs than currently listed on the web site but they have been digitised already. I am going to arrange a time to view the albums and will be able to request copies of images. I will see if I can get pernission to post some of the most interesting ones here.

It will be good to see if the photographs from the company records are previously unknown or possibly well reproduced elsewhere.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

More interwar goodness

Another pic from the Wonder Book of Soldiers. The wheels on the Carden Loyds identify them as Mark Vs, as used for recce by the Experimental Mechanised Force

I have been intrigued to find 153 records listed in the Beamish Musem's People's Collection catalogue under the heading development of tanks buily by Vickers Armstrong Ltd. The photographs have not yet been digitised but the captions are very interesting and relate mainly to interwar types, It may be these are all very well known photographs or it could be they haven't really been seen before. They could conceivably be from the Company's (Vickers Armstrong's) own records or possibly from some king of directory or catalogue, but it looks to be a single source.. Everything is there - Vickers Carden Lloyd, Mediums 1-3, the Independent, Citroen Kegresse and much more.

The captions are obviously well informed so without seeing antything I wonder if they might be from Vickers Armstrong's contemporary sales material.

I am enquiring aboout the origins of the photographs and if it would be possible to visit and see them.The hope of course would be to move them up the prioirity list for digitising, so they can be generally avaialable.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Mystery interwar AT gun

Can anyone help with an  identification of this anti tank gun?

Georland - progress?

Three newly completed S Range units - the top one is a recent acquisition in two lots from ebay, ACW and originally painted as two Confederate militia battalions, now restored as one large (or two smaller) battalions of US marines. The officers, which came with them, are S Range French Crimean ones and fit rather well I think.

The next two units are S Range Franco Prussian War - Saxon and Prussian line infantry. These have been part finished for around six months as other things jumped the queue ahead of them so it is a relief to get them finished. This means all my FPW guys are done, apart from eight or so generals and staff figures.

The intention is that these will join the forces (S Range FPW, Crimean and some ACW) available to refight the Georland battles. The Marines and also some ACW zouaves will be available  if required.

Were I starting from scratch and could afford to do so, I would go with Peter Johnstone's Spencer Smith Classic 30mm FPW range. These are new figures, not metal versions of any of the old plastic figures. George Keef originally used a collection of c40-45mm demi rondes figures and the Spencer Smith Classics would give an appropriate look in a more manageable format. Maybe one day.

My intention is to use an adaption of Command and Colors Napoleonics both for Crimean War and for Georland. I have now acquired both an additional set of the old TSS 12" terrain hexes and a 6" hex mat from Corsec Engineering so am hoping to make a start sometime soon - just need to work out how I can get my two expanding tables set up in the house with room to move round them.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Experimental Mechanised Force/Experimental Armoured Force

I have long been interested in British tank development and doctrine between the wars, in particular in the Experimental Mechanised Force/Experimental Armoured Force of the late 1920s, and have been assembling some vehicles to portray it in 1/76 and 1/72. While looking for information on the armoured cars with the force this morning I came across this - Pathe News Super Gazette newsreel of Winston Churchill visiting manoeuvers at Tidworth, listed on the IWM site as 1926 and on the Pathe site as 1927 (which makes more sense).

There are Medium Mk IIs, Carden Lloyd Mk IVs, Rolls Royce armoured cars (1920 pattern?), Birch guns on the move, tank signalling with flags, and Burford Kegresse infantry half tracks.

The clip may be well known, but I have never come across it before.

If anyone can suggest a reasonable proxy for the Burford Kegresse half track in 1/72 or 1/76 I'd be very grateful to hear from you. - the nearest I have come so far is the EWM Citroen P19 for Dragons Portees.