Friday 5 December 2008

The Joy of Scenarios

I recently returned to some WW2 wargaming, after several months spent pretty much exclusively in building up and using my new SYW collection. The return took the form of a Polish - German battle set in 1939, and for an easy re-introduction to the rules I made it a straightforward attack-defence game with limited forces. As usual with games against my most common opponent, Paul James, it was an enjoyable evening and a pleasant game (I provide the set-up, Paul provides the booze, which seems a fair division of labour).

Nevertheless, there was a certain air of predictability about the game - the Germans came on towards the objective, and the Poles mostly stayed in place and shot back at them. Of course, the attack-defence battle is probably the type of battle most common in real life, at least in this period, and I have played very many of them. But this recent game reminded me how easy it is to get stuck in something of a rut, scenario-wise. With the modern period we have the classic attack-defence scenario, with earlier periods the equally classic encounter scenario, where both sides set up opposite each other in roughly equal numbers then advance to contact.

The classic source for the latter experience was (and is) the world of the Wargames Research Group, particularly the various editions of the old Ancients rules and more recently the DBX group of rules. There were rules for flank marches in these sets but in my (limited) experience they were rarely used. It was a case of setting up opposite your opponent and setting to, almost every time. I think the extensive use of these rules in competition games served to emphasise the trend. However, I shouldn't give WRG all the blame. This is how most wargamers seem to set up most of their battles most of the time: line 'em up and fight' em. Many would argue that this was how battles were in most historical periods. Sometimes I wonder if the actual situations were quite so cut and dried. I was influenced in particular by Angus Konstam's Osprey book on the Battle of Pavia. The battle had always been depicted in the usual linear 'set up opposite each other' style, but Angus did the research and came up with a much more convincing scenario which explained the course of the battle well. This had units and formations encountering each other in 2 or 3 different locations, and from different directions. One doesn't have to read much military history to conclude how confused and unexpected many battle situations are.

Of course, the rather unimaginative set-ups described above are still technically 'scenarios'. But most wargamers would understand the term to mean a variety of imaginative set-ups that provide rather more varied and interesting games. Further to my point above about Pavia, when the appropriate research is done, historical encounters often provide for scenarios that lead to unusual and surprising set-ups, with (for example) baselines that are not always opposite each other, reinforcements that arrive at odd times, initial deployments which take place all over the table, and unevenly matched forces. Armies find themselves attacked from the rear, or both sides, or surprised in various ways. And these types of situations can be reproduced in fictional scenarios as well.

The king of the latter is of course Charles Grant, or rather Charles Grant, then his son C.S. Grant. Their 'Table Top Teasers' are well known to most wargamers, from old copies of Battle or Military Modelling, to the current Battlegames. C.S. Grant and Stuart Asquith have also produced a couple of books consisting of around 50 scenarios each to tempt the wargamer. The more recent of these, Scenarios For All Ages, I have recently been using to pep up my SYW gaming. The books in particular are a testimony to how, with a bit of imagination, each of your games can be very different from the last. If I have one criticism, it is that most Grant scenarios are written for the horse and musket period. There is usually a sentence stating that the scenario can be easily adapted to a number of periods - but somehow that easy adaption is never taken up by the author. A Battlegames Table Top Teaser set in Ancient times, or WW2, would be a real treat.

Two photos from a recent refight of Charles Grant's
Teaser 'Advance Guard', from 1978.
These old scenarios can be downloaded from
Steve-the-wargamers blog, on my Favourite Links

Apart from simply making games more interesting, varied scenarios are useful for testing out whatever rules you are using, and furthering your understanding of them. Can your rules cope with unusual situations? Do you need to develope better conventions for deployment? If you always play the same kind of game, your rules will not get the workout they need for you to appreciate their strengths and weaknesses fully. The better sort of rules these days will also come with deployment options to provide for a number of scenarios. My current WW2 set, Blitzkrieg Commander, is a case in point. Fifteen different scenarios are provided as part of the rules, giving deployment conditions, force ratios, game lengths and victory conditions.

Finding good scenarios based on real battles is more difficult than getting hold of fictional ones specifically designed to give varied games. Doing your own research and developing your own reality-based scenarios is the answer, even if obtaining the right amount of detail for actual actions can often be difficult. What's interesting from my point of view is that when you do develop a scenario from details of a real battle, one often finds (as already mentioned) that the resulting set up is much more unusual than the attack/defence or balanced encounter which forms the basis of so many wargames battles. I was particularly pleased recently to obtain a copy of the book Benghazi Handicap by Frank Chadwick. This is designed to support the Command Decision - Test of Battle rules, but the level of research and presentation is so high it is an outstanding source for the early Desert War (to the end of 1941), regardless of which set of rules you use. It contains 12 scenarios at the end of the book, all eminently gameable without having to acquire large armies. Indeed, using my 1/285th scale miniatures, it seems the 6' x 6' tables suggested for most of the games might be reduced to 4' x 4' in many cases, giving scenarios that are realistic but also ridiculously easy to set up. I have decided to try the Battle of Mechilli scenario first, and will be posting the re-fight soon.

Unfortunately, time is often limited when setting up one's games, and this can be particularly true in a club environment when a quick pick-up game is played. This restricts the amount of thought that can go into the scenario. The answer of course is forward planning, but on the other hand this is a drawback of the more involved scenario - it needs to be thought about in advance, and all the right terrain and the right forces need to be available. Nevertheless, the effort is almost always worth making. It can bring a whole new level of enjoyment to your wargaming.

Happy Gaming!

Post Script

Anyone interested in this subject should take a look at Bob Mackenzie's website: the link to Bob's site is included in My Favourites. On Bob's homepage, go to Wargames and then Scenario Design. An interesting and well written article awaits you.

Tuesday 25 November 2008

A baby for my armoured train

When I changed from 20mm to 15mm for my WW2 gaming, I also wanted a new period to play. So I went from late war to early war, and decided to make it as early war as possible - i.e. the 1939 Polish campaign. Besides giving me a whole new era to research, the campaign had the interest of whole new categories of kit. There was cavalry, main battle tanks with the armour and gun power of late war armoured cars, things called tankettes, whole battalions of motorcycles, and armoured trains.

My armoured train was a late addition to my Polish collection. After considering scratch building (or rather, having someone else scratch build one for me), I went for the simple option and purchased the Peter Pig armoured train, intended for the Russian Civil War. This is not quite correct for 1939 Polish trains, but artillery cars captured from the Russians were used by the Poles in 1939, so it is quite close. I have 2 artillery cars with a loco and tender, as can be seen in the photo. There should also be an 'assault car', basically an armoured troop carrying wagon, but PP don't do one. In fact, this is an advantage as the train is quite long enough on the table as it is. I allow the train to deploy some infantry, but basically just imagine the assault car. The train is fun to have on table, but wargaming experience indicates it is not particularly effective as a fighting unit, being rather vulnerable. But it looks quite good and always creates interest from gamers who haven't seen one before.

However, to get to the point, whilst checking the Armaments in Miniature site recently I noticed they had a new model available - a Tatra T-18 armoured draisine. This is basically a small armoured car designed to run only on rails. They were, of course, a Czech design but the Poles bought 15, 4 of which seem to have seen service in 1939. Two were attached to each of 2 Polish armoured trains, as scout/recce vehicles. Armour was 5-8mm, armament 2 Maxim machine guns and crew 3.

This was one of those wargames purchases which is really just for show, and for the hell of it. If my armoured train was a bit of a white elephant in fighting terms, this little rail car would probably be about the most ineffective armoured unit I had ever possessed - restricted to the rails, machine guns only, paper thin armour. But, of course, I had to have one, to represent the 'platoon' of 2 vehicles used by the Poles.

Armaments in Miniature are a 'one man band' operation who nevertheless produce resin castings of a very high standard. I have a couple of their 15mm aircraft and they are gems. I was not disappointed by the Tatra when it arrived. The model is only 35mm long, but detail is good and the casting clear of any bubbles or flash. Even the detail parts like headlights and machine guns are resin, and they also are beautifully done. About the only fault is a bit of a mould line around the turret.

'Work bench' shots seem to be the thing on all the best wargaming blogs, so I thought it only right that I should join the trend. Unfortunately, I don't have a work bench, only the dining room table! Finally, a picture of the finished article in company with the armoured train.

Those interested in more background should refer to the 'PIBWL Military Site', which is the online source for info about Polish armour in general and Polish armoured trains in particular. Well worth a visit.

Friday 10 October 2008

'Practical Wargaming'

I have just acquired (temporarily) a copy of Wesencraft's 1974 book, courtesy of my local library. This really is a genuine classic, with a set of well worked out but basically simple rules covering a number of periods, along with some great photos and some rather nostalgic stuff on terrain from the days when making one's own was often a real necessity. I have not had this book in my hands for many years (perhaps as many as 20), and I had forgotten how influential on my own gaming it has been.

I could hardly better this quote from the introduction as summing up my present philosophy of miniatures wargaming:

'I have always thought that a game played with easily understood rules that gave a result, played within a broad outline of a particular period, that gave enjoyment to both the winner and his unfortunate opponent, was to be preferred...' (p.8).

Of particular interest is that phrase 'that gave a result'. I particularly like rules that have the winning/losing conditions built in, rather than just suggesting that the result will usually be obvious after a few moves, or that you should spend half the evening totting up points to decide a winner. Built-in victory conditions commonly involves games based around a series of set scenarios, or an army morale system which results in one side clearly collapsing after a reasonable number of moves. Even simpler is the basic rule that when you have lost (say) half your units, you have lost the game. Such rules produce games with a beginning, middle and an end (like chess). First there is a jockeying for position, then the main fight commences, then as casualties mount careful decisions have to made about risk versus conserving one's forces, as each side (or one side) approaches its breaking point. How often have you had games that just petered out in an inconclusive draw, or resulted in some vague discussion about what might have happened if only a couple more hours were available?

The one major blind spot in the book is it's refusal to consider 'modern' (basically 20th century) wargames. Wesencraft's remarks here are rather inexplicable, especially considering that WW2 games were a common feature of gaming from the start. One need only consider the example of the Lionel Tarr rules and the famous 'Tank and Infantry Action on the St. James Road' from the book Wargames. But Wesencraft is insistent:

'With the coming of modern warfare, millions of men are involved and all scale is lost. Either one figure represents thousands of men, one tank dozens of squadrons, or one is forced to go back almost to square one and fight tiny local actions at company strength [...] personally, I do not believe it is possible to scale down on to a table 4 x 8 ft a modern battle...' (p. 15)

It seems the author's considerable ingenuity and inventiveness deserted him when it came to the end of the 19th century.

Revisiting these old wargames books (buying when I can afford to, borrowing when I can't) has a been a particular pleasure over this last year. My only problem is that at some stage the supply of old classics will dry up!

Monday 6 October 2008

New Grenadiers

Painting is my least favourite part of the hobby. I quite enjoy it on a limited scale, producing a modest number of vehicles or figures, but when it comes to the task of creating enough units for a whole army, I tend to get a bit depressed at the prospect. In fact, my habit in recent years has been to sell off one army and use the money to purchase painted units to form the basis of a new project. Fortunately, I am not a 'butterfly' wargamer, and have a very limited number of projects on which to concentrate. As a result, this process has only had to happen twice in the last 4-5 years.

My SYW armies had a solid start with the painted RSM95 figures provided by the Dayton Painting Consortium. Now I have had to bite the bullet and start creating new units to expand the forces to the size I want. My main project through July, August and early September was the painting of 4 grenadier units, 2 Austrian and 2 Prussian. I was painting at the rate of about 8 figures a week, or 2 sixteen figure units a month, plus the inevitable delays for holidays etc. I copied the style of the figures I already had: that is, block painting to create a definite 'toy soldier' feel. I have taken some close up photos, so you can see my painting style (such as it is) warts and all. I can only say that the results please me, and look quite good enough at wargames ranges, though I'll admit that close up they're hardly collectors standard! I'm afraid I have little pretension towards improvement - my current standard is quite satisfactory for my purposes. So let's see what I have produced...

This is Grenadier Regiment Wedel, formed from grenadiers of IR1 (left) and IR23 (right). I picked on this unit as I already had IR1 as one of my line regiments. My standard line units are usually 5 bases of 4 figures, so 4 bases seemed appropriate for the Prussian grenadier battalions, which were usually smaller than the line units.

The second unit I chose was battalion Kremzow, formed from the grenadiers of IR17 (left) and IR22 (right). The main factors in choosing this unit were the different uniform details, allowing easy identification between the 2 grenadier units, and the fact that it was involved in the crucial battles of Rossbach, Leuthen and Zorndorf.

Information on the composition of Austrian grenadier units is much rarer, as they were more ephemeral in character than those of Prussia, being formed only as temporary formations during the course of a campaign or part of a campaign. The only unit I found definite information on was this one, the Soro grenadier battalion formed for the battle of Kolin from 2 companies each of grenadiers from the Deutchmeister (left) and Botta (right) regiments. Once again, that seemed to call for 2 bases from each battalion. Thanks to the gentlemen on the Yahoo SYW group who offered the information on this unit. Other Austrian grenadier units are sometimes named, but details of the constituent regiments are almost always missing. Therefore, for my last unit I decided on a fictional battalion, and as the first was a German regiment, the second would be Hungarian :

I called these guys the Siskovics grenadier battalion after the officer who was to become inhaber of Hungarian regiment Josef Esterhazy in 1762, and therefore was associated with a regiment which was already part of my forces. The constituent figures are 2 bases from regiment Erzherzog Ferdinand (left), 2 bases from Josef Esterhazy (centre), and one base from regiment Bethlen (right). Those with copies of the Osprey book on Austrian infantry will recognise the three units from plates E1, E2, and E3 - I'm afraid this was the rather abitrary way the component units were selected!

After painting this lot, my appetite for further work is very small indeed. In short, I have had enough of serious painting for a while. However, my next small project is 4 bases of dismounted dragoons for my Prussians, which isn't too daunting. We'll see how they turn out...

Thursday 11 September 2008

Wargaming 2008: a personal view

Surely there are not very many wargamers who would dispute that historical (as opposed to fantasy) miniature wargaming has never been healthier. (Fantasy wargaiming may well be in the same happy state, but this branch of the hobby is not my subject). Historical gamers have an unrivalled set of products to choose from whether in figures, terrain, accesories or rules. We also have unrivalled access to those products and other wargamers via the internet.

I have read that wargames shows might be feeling the pinch recently (particularly the smaller ones), but without conducting a detailed survey I can only say that the one's I take an interest in (the large ones) seem to be in the rudest of good health. In the latest Battlegames, Henry Hyde encourages us to attend the smaller shows to support the hobby. As usual, Henry is on the morale high ground here, but as a frequent sinner myself I will say that small shows are often hardly worth the journey. After an hour you've seen everything and are wondering why you came. Of course, if people don't bother to come, small shows will never become big ones. But I tend to feel that the show circuit finds its own level. As long as I have one or two decent size shows within a reasonable distance each year, I'm quite happy.

Shows apart, the main reasons for the exceptional condition of wargaming would seem to be twofold. First, the age of the wargames fraternity. Mostly we are at least thirty, and have disposable income to spend on our hobby. There is also a significant proportion of us with the experience and resources to run businesses manufacturing and marketing wargames products. This maturity is, I think, a central part of the strength of our hobby. One will sometimes encounter hand wringing over the limited number of youngsters involved in the hobby, and the way that Games Workshop have cornered the market in teenagers. This doesn't seem a problem to me. Children and teenagers will naturally gravitate to a highstreet product which is easily available and fully packaged. I'm confident that the Games Workshop experience will provide a number of recruits to historical wargaming in the future. There certainly seem to be plenty of people younger than me (I'm 50) at the conventions I visit. It was also recently pointed out to me that the founding fathers of our hobby were mostly in their thirties and forties when they started wargaming in the 1950s and 1960s.

Secondly, the internet. This could have been designed for a hobby such as ours. The increased access to products, the way small manufacturers can make their goods known and available, and the vastly increased communication between gamers, are all enormous benefits. The number of specialist sites which provide for the exchange of views and information have given wargaming a whole new dimension. I myself particularly appreciate the availability of photos of games and miniatures which provide inspiration and ideas.

You will find the odd older gamer who refers with nostalgia to a more do it yourself past, but the DIY option remains open to anyone who wants it: and surely no one would really want to go back to the days of the sixties and early seventies when we were scratching around for resources to make our games possible. There may however be some mileage in the view that the abundance of resources has made some gamers a little more willing to be spoon-fed rules systems and period background. The usual suspects here would be the more commercial rules sets like Flames of War which are linked to a range of miniatures and an ever growing series of scenario books. This type of thing smacks rather too much of the default bogeyman for historical gamers, namely Games Workshop. Here everything you know about your wargaming world (whether it involves your Bretonnian Knights or your Space Marines) is provided for you. No independent research is either necessary or, indeed, possible. However, I feel that the possible transfer of this problem into historical gaming is more apparent than real. The wargamers I come into contact with (either personally or on the internet) all seem to be taking advantage of the plentiful and steadily growing range of books and internet resources which allow us all to increase our knowledge of our chosen period.

I am also heartened by the view now common amongst most wargamers that the hobby is basically about playing with toy soldiers and indulging an interest in military history. If this seems an obvious statement, gamers of a certain age may remember the time when there were people involved in the hobby who were only too ready to use the word 'simulation' and encourage us to change our games to achieve this object. Usually this involved increased complexity or fundamental changes to the way our games were to be played. This type of exhortation seems to have died out, and good riddance. I am firmly of the belief that wargames with miniatures are of no real use in 'simulating' anything to do with war. To claim that we in any way recreate the experiences or choices of the commanders in our chosen period (let alone those of the troops themselves) is to misunderstand the meaning of the word 'recreate'. What we do is play a recreational game incorporating modelling and collecting, which draws its inspiration from military history. Although we like to use our research to inform our rules, this does not mean that terms like 'realism' have much meaning. The current tendency amongst gamers seems to be to recognise this. Increasingly the rules I see published emphasise easy game play, allowing players to concentrate on the tactics they can use within the game. Also alive and well is the idea that having an enjoyable game which gives a flavour of the period is more important than winning.

All this makes the hobby of miniature wargaming more accessible and enjoyable than ever before. I personally find it refreshing that the activity I choose to devote a fair bit of my relaxation time to is mostly free of negative influences. I can just get on with having a good time, in my quiet and slightly nerdy way. What can one say except relax and enjoy!

Saturday 9 August 2008

Starting SYW Gaming

The Seven Years War was my idea for a new period which I decided to try in the autumn of 2007. Inspired by the ads and articles I saw in Battlegames magazine, I decided it was time to try some Old School wargaming. Therefore, my first idea was to use Spencer Smith figures and take a look at both Peter Young's Charge! and Wargames by Charles Grant. Unfortunately, I soon realised that the Spencer Smiths presented too much of a challenge if I was to create something like the figures I saw on the company website. I also found that, whilst I enjoyed the books as nostalgia, the Grant/Young rules were not to my taste, in particular due to the size of units.

However, I was directed to the RSM range of figures by advice on the Old School Wargaming Yahoo group, and found these just what I wanted. They had an elegant Old School feel but were well cast, had lots of detail to guide the painter, and were no more expensive than the Spencer Smiths. They had to be ordered from the US, but the favourable exchange rate was an advantage here. The range is also quite extensive.

My wargaming has to be more or less self financing where large expenditures are concerned, and I had sold my 15mm Italian Wars armies to fund my new project. This had raised £500, and I intended to use most of this to purchase some ready painted figures from the Dayton Painting Consortium. These gentlemen manufacture the RSM range, although the figures were originally sculpted by Englishman Steve Hezzlewood in the 1980s. I was able to purchase 2 modest armies, as below:

Infantry Regt 10, Jung Wolfenbuttel, 2 battalions, each of 24 figures.
Infantry Regt 37 (Hungarian), Josef Esterhazy, 2 battalions, one of 20 figures, the other of 16 figures.
Cuirassier Regt 10, Stampach, 1 unit of 8 figures.
Cuirassier Regt 12, Serbelloni, as above.
Dragoon Regt 6, Liechtenstein, as above.
Dragoon Regt 37, Kolowrat, as above.
2 x 6 pounder guns, 3 crew each.
1 General figure with standard bearer.
4 Regimental/Brigade commanders.

Infantry Regt 1, von Winterfeldt, 2 battalions, one of 16 figures, the other of 20 figures.
Fusilier Regt 33, de la Motte, 2 battalions as above.
Cuirassier Regt 3, Leib zu Pferde, 1 unit of 8 figures.
Cuirassier Regt 8, von Rochow, as above.
Dragoon Regt 6, Schorlemmer, as above.
Dragoon Regt 9, Herzog George, as above.
Guns and Command figures as per Austrians.

I never felt any desire to create one of the 'imagi-nations' which seem so popular at the moment. They seem to be a source of great enthusiasm and fun for those concerned, but to be blunt I fail to see the point. The real historical armies are so much more interesting than anything you could make up.

The painted figures from DPC come as already formed units, so you have to take what is available, up to a point. The cavalry came as units of 15 figures, so in each case I bought an extra figure, found a second regiment with a similar uniform and made the minimum alterations to create a second unit, converting a standard bearer for each of the new units. Standards were printed off from online sources.

After much searching and dithering, I had come across the Minden Rose rule set after contacting the author, Barry Lee, more or less by coincidence when he posted online for opponents - he lives about 40 minutes from me. These rules operate at the multi-brigade level, but brigades can be of 2-6 battalions so my infantry regiments could be brigades as far as the rules were concerned. Cavalry brigades would be of 2 regiments each. I therefore had 4 'manouevre units' per side (plus my guns which count as independent) from the word go.

Early games were great fun and I had no hesitation in sticking with the rules I had chosen. The figures were finished in a pleasing block-painted style which was easy to copy and had a good old school look, so I set to work increasing my army by painting my own figures. I soon found artillery under Minden Rose is supposed to be of units of at least 3 guns to be properly effective, and preferably 4 if medium, so new guns were acquired and painted, along with limbers for all weapons. I like the look of limbers on the table and they serve to represent the large number of horses and support wagons needed by an artillery unit. Two small light infantry battalions were created for the Austrians, each of 8 figures, painted with uniforms from the Liccaner and Szluiner regiments. Close order infantry battalions with only 16 figures were expanded to 20 figures as this is my preferred 'standard' size. Barry uses 16 figure battalions almost exclusively in his armies, but I prefer the look of the slightly bigger units. The rules allow for battalions of between 12 and 24 figures, based four to a base 40mm x 40mm for close order infantry. Cavalry are 2 to a base 50mm x 50mm, and light infantry 2 to a base 40mm x 40mm.

I use 8 figure cavalry units as these work well with the rules - and don't require me to paint too many cavalry figures! I am about to expand every other cavalry regiment to 10 figures to see how this works. I have also just received some dismounted dragoon figures from Outpost Wargame Services (there are no dismounted figures in the RSM range). I have ordered only 16, 8 per side, so that one dragoon regt per side may become dismounted. I intend to keep the command base mounted to avoid having to make new standards and buy new foot command figures. The Outpost figures come from their Highwaymen range, and are a little bulky next to my RSMs but about the same height. My first choice would have been the more correct figures from Wargames Foundry, but the high price of these latter figures put me off - with only 6 figures in a pack you are paying nearly £2 for an unpainted figure.

However, my main project at the moment is painting up two grenadier regiments per side to significantly increase my infantry forces. These will be from the RSM range. Production of new units will be covered in future posts.

A final side project is the use of rules by Donald Featherstone for the occasional Old School battle. I have made a few minor adaptions from the originals, and the result can be seen in the Featherstonian Rules post. Those of you with copies of Wargames might be interested to compare my set with the book. I find no problem in using the Don's rules with figures based up for Minden Rose - just a few minor tweaks required!

Sunday 3 August 2008

Airborne Armour

I researched and wrote this book over a four year period in my spare time, purely as a hobby project but with the intention of seeing it published commercially. I had already obtained a Masters Degree in history at the Open University so I had some background in research skills and extended writing.
I chose the subject after seeing an article in Tracklink, the magazine of the Friends of the Bovington Tank Museum. A lot of the research was done at Bovington, as well as the Museum of Army Flying and the Public Record Office at Kew. The book should be of interest to anyone curious about airborne forces in World War 2. The story is a unique one, and I think it fills a significant gap in the history of British airborne forces. It provides a full development history of the Tetrarch and Locust tanks, and probably the fullest background to the development of the Hamilcar glider ever published. The text goes on to cover the operational use of the tanks and gliders in detail, from the Tetrarch's service in Madagascar, through D-Day and the Rhine Crossing to the end of the war. The book also provides the only accurate and full history of the 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment, which operated the tanks and was the reconnaissance regiment for 6th Airborne Division.
Readers will find the operational account supported by clear maps, and there are a number of new photos and illustrations which should be of interest to all airborne buffs. For example, there are rare stills of Locust tanks in action during the Rhine crossing, and drawings of an early Hamilcar concept.
I have tried to provide all the background the reader might need to put Britain's 'flying tanks' in perspective, such as brief descriptions of the development of the Glider Pilot Regiment and the glider tugs themselves. I include a chapter on developments in this field in other countries such as Germany, the USA and Russia. In particular, the German Me321 Gigant glider is described and compared to the Hamilcar.
I have tried throughout to make the book readable and accessible, whilst at the same time being thorough and accurate. For those (like me) who consider such things important, all sources are fully referenced throughout, and there is a full bibliography. The book is available online at, and also via the publishers Helion and Company. If you decide to buy the book, I wish you happy reading! By the way, the colour scheme on the photo of the Tetrarch shown here is probably wrong. Photos indicate a two-colour scheme was in use, but was most probably the usual dark green - black pattern as seen on many British military vehicles at the time.