Archive for October, 2015


The T-64 tank was the most revolutionary design of the whole Cold War, designed to provide the firepower and armour protection of a heavy tank in a medium-weight design. It pioneered a host of new technologies including laminate armour, stereoscopic tank rangefinders, opposed-piston engines, smooth-bore tank guns with discarding sabot ammunition, and gun-fired guided projectiles.

These impressive features meant that the Russians were loath to part with the secrets of the design, and the T-64 was the only Soviet tank type of the Cold War that was never exported. Written by armour expert Steven J Zaloga, this detailed technical history sheds light on the secrets behind the Cold War’s most controversial tank, revealing how its highly advanced technologies proved to be both a blessing and a curse.


T-64 Battle Tank: The Cold War’s Most Secret Tank opens up with an explanation of the reasons behind the tank’s development, all of which make for interesting reading.  What’s really great is that it doesn’t just give you the “why”, it also gives you the “how”, detailing all the development and construction problems that plagued the T-64 pretty much from the outset.

What’s most interesting about the T-64 is what a monstrosity it is.  With all its pop-out rocket deflecting fins, and belt-fed 115 mm cannon It’s like something out of a sci-fi anime, rather than an actual war machine.  Some may say this is typical of the Russian Cold War ethos of “Make It As Big As You Can” (see the Mi-24 Hind), but the engineering involved in making it work is staggering.


The artwork and photos are simply superb throughout.  The “centrefold” cut-away – in particular – is absolutely brilliant; a real highlight.

The history and development of the T-64 makes for interesting reading, but the artwork and photos are what really lift this book above the crowd.  Well worth picking up if you’re modelling or wargaming with the T-64.

T-64 Battle Tank: The Cold War’s Most Secret Tank by Steven J. Zaloga is available now from Osprey Publishing in paperback (£9.99) and e-book (£7.99).



When the shadowy, notorious Spetsnaz were first formed, they drew on a long Soviet tradition of elite, behind-the-lines commando forces from World War II and even earlier. Throughout the 1960s-70s they were instrumental both in projecting Soviet power in the Third World and in suppressing resistance within the Warsaw pact. As a powerful, but mysterious tool of a world superpower, the Spetsnaz have inevitably become the focus of many ‘tall tales’ in the West.

This new book, from Mark Galeotti and Osprey Publishing, attempts to debunk these myths, uncovering truths that are often even more remarkable. Now, since the chaotic dissolution of the USSR and the two Chechen Wars, Russian forces have seen increasing modernisation, involving them ever more in power-projection, counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism and the Spetsnaz have been deployed as a spearhead in virtually all of these operations.


The first thing to strike me about Spestnaz: Russia’s Special Forces was how much history was in there. I’d been thinking of the Spetsnaz in terms of a recent organisation, perhaps formed during the height of the Cold War, but Galeotti displays that it’s been around since The First World War – and debatably even earlier.

The Spetsnaz involvement in the Soviet-Afghan War is very interesting especially in terms of how they were used as almost “ethnic infiltrators”. Special squads were formed in terms of those who could physically pass for Afghan/Muslim.  Some of the stories and anecdotes presented from this time period are astonishingly stark and brutal.


The latter part of Spetsnaz: Russia’s Special Forces moves onto cover the forces in Chechnya, and how the collapse of the Soviet Union affected the military in general.  As we approach the more recent exploits of the Spetsnaz (including the incidents in Ukraine and Crimea), details and information becomes notably scantier…but that’s hardly surprising.

Spetsnaz: Russia’s Special Forces ends with a round-up of the weapons and unarmed techniques currently used by the Spetsnaz, which is interesting, but doesn’t really flow with the rest of the book, and as such feels rather tacked on.


Unusually for an Osprey book the photos are generally lacklustre, and don’t really show anything particularly interesting (various Spetsnaz members standing around, not doing anything in particular) but the illustrations are exceptionally good, showcasing the different uniforms and combat roles infinitely better than the photographs do.

A light, but engaging read – great for anyone with a passing interest, but may lack substance for those looking for greater detail.

Wave 2 of Star Wars – Imperial Assault dropped recently, so here’s a quick and dirty guide to getting your minis looking good with a minimum of fuss.

R2-D2 & C-3PO Ally Pack

Available Now – £9.99


R2-D2 is a little bit fiddly, but he only has a limited colour palette, so it’s hard to go too wrong.  Base with a white undercoat, and then treat to a good coating of Nuln Oil.  This’ll get him grimy and dirty in all the gaps, corners and crevices.  Then, dry brush with white, so that the surface areas look “clean” again, while still retaining the dirt and grime of the Nuln Oil in all the cracks and crevices.  Paint the dome in a light silver/grey, and add the blue detailing, referring to the films or production/promotional photos as a guide.  Finally, a small amount of ‘Ardcoat on the lens.


Threepio may look complex, but he’s very easy to do.  For the base colours, undercoat white, then paint the majority of the body gold (choosing the right sort of gold is important – I went for Citadel Auric Armour Gold), his waist/exposed components with Mechanicus Grey, and his right leg in a light grey/silver.  Give a light wash of Nuln Oil, and pick out the details of the eyes and waist components.

Kayn Somos Villain Pack

Available Now – £7.99


Stormtroopers are exceptionally hard to paint and to get looking exactly right, so I’ll be doing a more detailed tutorial on this very soon.  For now, colour all the gaps in the armour Mechanicus Grey, then Nuln Oil, then drybrush back to white – exactly the same as you did with R2-D2.  Highlight all the detailing on the armour – expecially the helmet – in black, as well as the gun and the edge of the shoulder pauldron.  Drybrush with a metalic silver to bring out the highlights.  Then, add the orange to the Pauldron.

Boba Fett Villain Pack

Available Now – £7.99


Boba Fett is in a rather awkward pose, which makes him something of a faff to paint properly.  After undercoating white, I started by doing the overalls/bodysuit/baby-gro in a powder blue/grey colour, followed by the body armour in a dark green.  The pouches and arm-bands followed in a mix of dark red/dark grey, and then the knee and shoulder pads in a vibrant yellow.  The helmet was done last, following production photos as a guide.  I went for a gloss black for the visor, but the model seems to have it recessed a little more than it is in the movie version, so you could get away with a normal black/dark grey if you prefer.  Light battle damage was added to the amour and helmet using Runefang Silver.  Be careful when doing battle damage, as it’s very easy to end up doing too much and having it look too battered.  Finally, wash with Agrax Earthshade to bring out the shadows, detail and to dirty-up the figure.

For bases, I’ve gone for a solid black, as I find this the most versatile – and games of Star Wars: Imperial Assault are take place over a variety of different locations.  If you want to do something more fancy, that’s totally up to you.


With all the excitement in the air over the new trailer, movie, game, action figures, comics and virtually-everything-else-StarWars, my buddy Ömer (some of you may remember him from the seminal YouTube series Claymore Division) sat down to test out the new Hound’s Tooth, just recently released for Fantasy Flight Games’ X-Wing.  First, I took control of Bossk in a Scum & Villainy Faction, while Ömer took a Rebel Squadron, led by Wedge Antilles.


In universe, the Hound’s Tooth is the ship of Trandoshan Bounty Hunter, Bossk.  Previously only seen in the Expanded Universe/Legends line, it was canonised when it was seen in the Clone Wars episode Bounty, originally aired in 2012.  In universe it’s 47 m long, 37 m wide and 16 m high, making it a pretty impressive looking piece on the battlefield.


For the first game, we teamed Bossk up with two Y-Wing jobbers, named Wayne and Barry.


Across the battlefield/pitch/playing area was a squadron of custom-painted X-Wings, led by Wedge Antilles.


The Rebel squadron peels off, with one Z-95 heading to intercept the Y-Wings, and the rest heading towards the Hound’s Tooth.


The Hound’s Tooth casually places a target lock on the lead X-Wing.


The sheer size of the Hound’s Tooth allows Bossk to use it as a blocking tactic, stymieing the movement of the X-Wings.


The X-Wings finally manoeuvre around the Hound’s Tooth, and try to stick a few shots up its tailpipe.


Barry and Wayne head for the assist.


The Hound’s Tooth, however, can get a shift on when it wants to, and manages to outpace the X-Wings.  Wayne (Or maybe Barry.  No one’s keeping track.) screens Bossk from the Rebels.


Bossk loops around the asteroid to face up against the Rebels again.  The Hound’s Tooth has an unconventional firing-arc, in that in addition to the normal 90 degree arc at the front, the 180 degrees to the read is a secondary arc.  This makes him not as versatile as the Millenium Falcon, but at an advantage over something like the Slave I.

We’d been playing for about an hour and a half, by this point, and decided to switch over so that Ömer could have a play with the Hound’s Tooth.


This time, Ömer took a similar squadron to what I had played recently, while I flew as an Imperial Squadon, led by…


Bossk’s sometime-rival sometime-buddy, Boba Fett.


The Empire’s finest scream to intercept the Scum & Villainy Y-Wings.


Even compared to the inimitable Slave I, The Hound’s Tooth is an imposing piece on the battlefield.


Once again, The Hound’s Tooth is great at blocking manoeuvres, even slowing down the Slave I, here.


A shot showing the size between the Slave I and The Hound’s Tooth.

X-Wing: Miniatures Game: The Hound’s Tooth is available now from all good gaming retailers, priced £32.99.

Look out for more X-Wing posts here on, and a review of The Hound’s Tooth and other X-Wing Miniatures in a future issue of Miniature Wargames magazine.

pacific waer

On December 7, 1941, Japanese fighter planes appeared from the clouds above Pearl Harbor and fundamentally changed the course of history; with this one surprise attack the previously isolationist America was irrevocably thrown into World War II.

The Pacific War: From Pearl Harbour to Okinawa is the new history from Dale Dye and Robert O’Neill which reveals each of the major battles that America would fight in the ensuing struggle against Imperial Japan, from the naval clashes at Midway and Coral Sea to the desperate, bloody fighting on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. It covers both the horrors of the battle and the Allies’ grim yet heroic determination to wrest victory from what often seemed to be certain defeat, offering a valuable guide to the long road to victory in the Pacific.

01What’s great about The Pacific War: From Pearl Harbour to Okinawa is that it assumes no prior knowledge.  I’d be the first to admit that the Pacific Front is the part of the Second World War that I really don’t know much about.  Dye and O’Neill take the subject at face value, and guide you through from the very beginning.  Not only is this great for total beginners, but it’s also a nice, easy, conversational read for any of you that are experts.

The pacing is truly excellent.  Nothing feels rushed, but neither do you spend so long on a single battle or engagement that you feel like it’s dragging its feet.  You feel carried along, which is as it should be.

Nov. 1944: American soldiers take cover from fire of a Japanese machine gun in the Philippines during World War II. The troops are part of the first wave to land on Leyte Island in the Philippine invasion.  (AP Photo/U.S. Army Signal Corps)

The illustrations and photos are pretty thin and far apart, which is unusual for an Osprey book, but it’s not exactly a disappointment either.  The text is vivid enough that they don’t really feel necessary, although the ones that are in the book are excellent.

While experts may find it a little superficial, for those who are new to the topic, it is an excellent jumping on point.