Archive for the ‘War on Terror’ Category

105800 It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly two years now since Henry Hyde’s The Wargaming Compendium was unleashed upon wargamers the world over.  Now, it’s back, significantly cheaper, and significantly lighter…yet still bursting with all – if not more – of the content that made its original release so awesome.

There are many great things about The Wargaming Compendium that make it an essential purchase, but one of the things to strike me upon reading it cover to cover for the first time is how useful it is no matter if this is the first thing you’ve ever read on wargaming, or if you’re an old hand who’s devoted his spare bedroom over to a 32mm recreation of The Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Within are tips and guides for choosing which era you want to fight in, how to prep and paint figures, how to build and lay-out terrain…pretty much everything you could need. Complete games/rulesets are supplied, as well as a pretty comprehensive directory of conventions, websites, magazines and publishers.  All periods of history are covered, from Ancients to Ultra-Modern, with a fair amount of discussion also given over to fantasy and sci-fi games. I cannot recommend this book enough.

No matter what your experience level, or what aspect of wargaming you are interested in, there is plenty in here to make it worth your while.  And now it’s lighter, as well. Bonus.

Buy it with your hands.  Again.

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The history of the Cobra helicopter is a long and varied one, characterised by extensive deployment in some of the most dynamic theatres of war. Designed in 1965, we have hit the fiftieth anniversary of the AH-1’s inception into the world of combat flight, so it seems timely that we should be presented with this, a comprehensive historical account of the various landmarks of the Cobra’s service history.
ID45165_600This heavily illustrated volume relays the story of the Cobra from the days of early development and concept dissection right through to modern day uses, in both combat and civil contexts. Details of the early trials at Rucker are detailed, as is the birth of air mobile deployment, offering an illuminating insight into a most eventful period of developmental expansion. A full account of the Cobra’s service history during the Vietnam campaign is also included, describing the various tactics and weapons employed. The development of iconic variants such as the King Cobra and Supercobra is outlined, their individual histories set alongside those of lesser known and under-sung types, one off designs and oddities that add yet more colour to this fascinating history.

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The photos through Cobra!: The Attack Helicopter are absolutely incredible.  They are numerous, and all interesting (turns out you can have quantity and quality!).  The text is interesting, entertaining and informative, without getting bogged down in all the technical details that can sometimes render the text virtually unreadable among all the version numbers and sub-classifications!

The Cobra’s operational history is comprehensive, and a nice mixture of operational level overviews, and some first-hand memoirs and stories from the people who flew in the Cobra in theatre.

If you’re interested in the Cobra – or attack helicopters in general – then Cobra! – The Attack Helicopter: Fifty Years of Sharks Teeth and Fangs is an essential purchase.

Take a preview here:

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Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter

Paul F Crickmore

Osprey Publishing

Available Now

Review by Brad Harmer

Developed by the legendary Lockheed ‘Skunk Works,’ the F-117 Nighthawk was a phenomenal technical achievement. Featuring cutaways, detail plates and battlescene artwork, this book tells the incredible story of the design of the machine, from the revolutionary materials used to the highly advanced computer technology that was employed to make the Stealth Fighter invisible to enemy radar. Written by the world’s leading authority on the aircraft from Lockheed’s ‘Skunk Works’, Paul F. Crickmore, this book reveals the impact the Stealth had in combat over Panama, Yugoslavia and most notably the Persian Gulf.

This book starts off with a nice, solid intro, and some fantastic paintings of the Nighthawk, both in action, and displaying its multiple variants and some of its paint schemes.  Some books like this can often make the reader feel like they’ve been thrown in the deep end, and are already drowning in the stats and technical details.  Thankfully, this isn’t the case here, and the introduction gives the reader a good grounding, and at no point attempts to “blind with science”.

One of this books strongpoints is the excellent anecdotes and stories shared by the test pilots who worked on the Nighthawk’s early development.  The accompanying photos are similarly enjoyable.

The book kicks up a gear when the Nighthawk is finally deployed for combat and ends in a very exciting report of their involvement in Desert Storm.

This is an excellent book for fans of modern aviation and modern warfare, and – in an unusual (but certainly appreciated) twist – is readily read and enjoyed by a casual or new reader.

Took a trip on Friday to check out the IWM (London) and see their new WWI galleries, and I was not disappointed!  It’s a mind-blowingly good exhibition.  New technology mixes with traditional exhibition methods to show off their collections in a truly immersive way.  I’d even go so far as to say that it’s the best exhibition I’ve ever been to – regardless of theme or focus.  I grabbed a few photos (only one of the galleries, though…it needs to be seen for itself!)…hope you enjoy!

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Your devoted writer and editor.

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Large male tank toward the end of the new WWI galleries.
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Wreckage of a suicide car bomb from Afghanistan, 2013.

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Harrier Jump Jet in the main foyer.

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T-34 in the main exhibition hall.

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Monty’s staff car.

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Little Boy.  Mega Bang.

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V-1 in the main exhibition hall.

Operation Mayhem

Posted: August 21, 2014 in Books, War on Terror

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Operation Mayhem is the account of an elite forces mission: in fact, one of the most highly decorated in modern military history.

Airlifted deep into the heart of the African jungle in the midst of a civil war, twenty-six operators from the British unit X Platoon were sent into combat against two thousand rebels – being used as bait to lure the enemy into a decisive battle.  High on blood-lust and drugs, the rebels were notorious for their savagery. Equipped with captured armour, heavy machine-guns and grenade-launchers, they vastly outgunned the men of X Platoon – who were kitted out with pitiful supplies of ammunition and rifles, plus no body armour, grenades or heavy weaponry.

Intended to last just days, the mission mutated into a desperate siege, as the men of X Platoon – more formally known as the Pathfinders – faced what the rebels dubbed ‘Operation Kill British’ (not the best name ever, but certainly to the point). Half-starved, surviving on giant African snails, fungi and other bush tucker, this handful of men were forced to make their stand alone. They fought using grenades made from old food-tins and punji stakes – as the locals joined forces with them to defend against the onslaught.

Operation Mayhem is engaging from the very start, dropping you right into some great action scenes, and allowing you to get a feel for the significant members of the platoon very quickly.  In fact, the strong personalities of all those involved really help you to identify with the Pathfinders, as they feel like people you know, and not just faceless troops.  Heaney and Lewis are very accomplished writers, and the skydiving sequence near the beginning of the book is scarily tense, and helps you get into the mind-set of the men who would sign up to become Pathfinders.

As the battle approaches, the tension is so high it’s a real struggle to put the book down.  The locals are all very lively and likeable, helping you to really empathise with them.

When the action finally kicks off, it is incredible.  The  description writing setting the scene blends very well with Heaney and Lewis’ anecdotal style, resulting in a feel that’s almost cinematic.  During a particularly pitched battle, Heaney’s attempts to bring a mortar into the correct position and the struggles he faces doing so are a particular highlight.  I had no idea what would be happening next to the Pathfinders, and this kept me riveted and desperate to read on.

Operation Mayhem is a great, action-packed, yet emotional account of a small part of a very big war.  I highly recommend it.

_76278207_76278202The Imperial War Museum (IWM) London has undergone a £40m transformation and is due to reopen this week with new displays to mark the centenary of World War One.

The new atrium is made up of four levels divided into different clusters, which include more than 400 objects and artworks.

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Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-28316238

US marines have tested a new robotic mule at the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise in Hawaii.

Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-28290945

Battle Company: Korengal

Posted: July 4, 2014 in DVD, Films, War on Terror

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From the writer and director of Restrepo and the writer of War, Sebastian Junger spent a year with troops in Afghanistan. Battle Company: Korengal is his experience following the 2nd Platoon of Battle Company on a 15-month deployment in the Korengal Valley of northeast Afghanistan.

Battle Company: Korengal aimes to show war works, what it feels like and what it does to the young men who fight it. As one cheers when they kill an enemy fighter, another looks into the camera and asks if God will ever forgive them for all the killing. As one grieves the loss of his friend in combat, another explains why he missed the war after his deployment ended and he would go back in a heartbeat if he could.

Some documentaries focus on the battle, or the machines of war. Then there are those like Battle Company: Korengal that really show the people behind the story. As a viewer you feel an oddly strong attachment to the men of 2nd Platoon throughout their deployment. They are all engaging interviewees, all with unique – and frequently harrowing – stories to share.

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Plus, you know, there’s lot of gun porn, which is nice.

As they sit in the Korengal valley, taking fire from Taliban forces up to fourteen times a day, the men show a strange, almost grim, acceptance of their place. They are there to do a job, and it’s a job they’re going to do. Juxtapose this with home video footage of them larking about and having a good time, and you really get to know the troops from all angles. All of them are really likeable, and seeing the situations they often find themselves in can be near heartbreaking.

Battle Company: Korengal is a strange, macro-lense look at a squad in the War on Terror. Worth checking out for a very close up and personal taste of the period.

Battle Company: Korengal is available now on DVD and Blu-ray from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment, priced £17.99 and £19.99 respectively. 

So, been kicking around a few new systems that I’m hoping to get onto the table soon…

Cover for Modern War #1 which contains "Red Dragon/Green Crescent"

Cover for Modern War #1 which contains “Red Dragon/Green Crescent”

First up is Red Dragon/Green Crescent from the first ever issue of Modern War magazine. I liked the look of this because the map is simply fucking massive, and the story and setting sounds like something from Desert Strike or Jungle Strike, which are games I was obsessed with as a kid. So, it’s basically a modern war in Asia with the US going up against China, but with both sides looking to rope in as many allies as possible. The rules are pretty hard going so far, but nothing that I can’t grok. I really like the look of the way Random Events are handled. That looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. Also, you know, anything with a mass of planes is going to get my Dad interested in playing, which is a nice boon.

The full-campaign map is absolutely massive, measuring in at 44" x 34"

The full-campaign map is absolutely massive, measuring in at 44″ x 34″

Following on from the mention of Jungle Strike and Desert Strike, I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of DVG’s Thunderbolt/Apache Leader after having played Phantom Leader more or less obsessively since I got it back in November.

Me, being excited.

Me, being excited.

T/A Leader is a very different game from Phantom Leader, despite sharing several key aspects and rules. In Phantom Leader you’re the airstrike that gets called , you swoop in, nail a bombing run and – hopefully – swoop home again with all of your crew intact. In Thunderbolt/Apache Leader you’re hovering around the combat zone with a really limited number of pilots and vehicles, and you have a ton of tanks and infantry marching towards your base. I have to say I’m finding it a lot more challenging than Phantom Leader, but I’m loving it all the same. I’m really glad that it’s different enough that I don’t feel I’m going to abandon one for the other, and yet similar enough that I enjoy both. Hopefully the forthcoming Huey Leader will be a winner, too!

Miniatures wise I’m also working on cobbling together some pieces for two of my new ‘Nam era rulesets: some planes for Fox Two, Reheat and some US and VC infantry for Charlie Company. Struggling to find any decent Viet Cong minis in 20mm. If anyone knows of anything, please let me know. I’m also putting together some weapon teams and vehicles to expand my games of Bolt Action a little bit.

What have you guys been up to? What are you hoping to get on the table soon? Let me know in the comments, or on www.facebook.com/suppressingfireofficial