Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Land War - Part I: 10mm vs. 15mm

Picture from Pithead website
Over the last few weeks I have had quite the interesting time trying to decide what figure scale to use for the land war portion of the Korean War.  There are plenty of options in 15mm, including those gorgeous new Eureka North Koreans mentioned (with pictures) in a previous entry.  I have always liked those strangely posed Quality Castings miniatures as well, but I think I want something different for Korea.  Going to 10mm means I could use 1/144th scale vehicles (such as from Panzer Depot, Pithead, and Miniature Figurines) and aircraft, including some prepaints.  It also gives me the opportunity to place more troops on the board, giving the tabletop a more realistic look.  But it also means painting up much smaller figures than what I am used to handling.  Terrain?  Well, it is Korea, everything would have to be collected, constructed, and painted, no matter what the scale as I currently do not have terrain that would be suitable.  Most of my current terrain is more suitable for arid and desert areas.  The good news is while Pithead Miniatures only make winter Chinese currently (sans support), they are planning on Americans and British in winter clothing (with support), and will add support for the Chinese as well.  If sales make Pithead happy, perhaps they will also make North Koreans in the future.  They do make a few vehicles that are suitable for Korea, notably the M24 Chaffee and T-34/85.  Panzer Depot has the M26 Pershing covered (along with the Chaffee), and both companies make things like trucks and half-tracks.


Monday, April 28, 2014

A Visit to the National Museum of the United States Air Force

I have been fortunate in many aspects of my life, with one of those fortunate aspects being my proximity to the National Museum of the United States Air Force (still known to me simply as the Air Force Museum).  The NMUSAF has been so within reach all these years that I have not appreciated the museum as I probably should, at least not until more recent times.  The museum has an amazing and ever expanding collection of aircraft as well as numerous displays.  I recently made a trip to see the Korean War gallery and take a few pictures to share with those readers of the blog who might not have had the chance to visit the museum.  Of course this trip was also for perusing their book store, which in its own right is an amazing place for air combat aficionados.  I did pick up two Osprey titles to expand my Korean air war library (F4U Corsair Units of the Korean War and F-86 Aces of the 51st Fighter Wing), and there were some other related items that looked good, but since I have been buying so many books and hobby "stuff" lately I held my eagerness in check a bit.

Here are the pictures from my quick trip:







Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pictures of New Toys

First, here are some pics of the Raiden MiG-15s I recently purchased from Zippy.  Nicely painted, yes?  (as in all my blog posts, clicking on an image will give you a larger version)




And here are the Eureka Miniatures North Koreans!  I do not believe they are on the Eureka websites yet, but if you email Rob at Eureka Minis USA he should be able to take care of you.  As for size, I would venture they are on the smaller side of 15mm, being closer to 15mm than 18mm.  Would mix well I believe with Quality Castings and other smaller 15mm ranges.

Infantry

Officers and heavy machinegun

Mortar and crew

Air War Page

I have been diligently searching the wide world web to find all the 1/285th and 1/300th Korean War aircraft that I can find and have added those findings to the new Air War page.  There were a few more manufacturers than what I had initially thought, and I now think I have a fairly good list, but if I have missed any please leave a comment and I will add them to the page.  The purpose of the Air War page is two-fold: first it provides me a place to keep the manufacturers' lists and links in one place, and second to help other Korean War gamers find a one stop location so that they do not have to repeat my efforts.

Thus far I have found suitable planes from CinC, GHQ Models, Heroics & Ros, MSD Games, Raiden Miniatures, Scotia Collectair, and two shops on Shapeways, Kampfflieger Models and Prairie Hawk Gamers.  Actually, when I started compiling the Scotia list, I realized that it is the exact same list as MSD, so I am guessing that Scotia takes care of European customers and MSD handles North America.

I will eventually add other air war related items to the Air War page, such as books, rules, and gaming accessories.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Air War - Part I

I am now the proud owner of three 1/285th scale F-86 Sabres and three Mig-15s (all Raiden Miniatures), courtesy of Zippy from The Miniatures Page.  He had a pretty darn good deal on Bartertown that I stumbled across (not having been on that site for months I would say that finding his listing to be borderline karma).  The deal also included two sheets of Dom's Decals, and four books, three dealing with the Sabre and one with the MiG-15 (they are part of the list on the right).  I was also able to grab a copy of Clash of Sabres from him as part of the deal.  I had a copy of Clash of Sabres in a previous life, but a recent search in my boxes of gaming rules proved to be futile.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chosin - A Bit of a Movie Review

In 2010 Veterans Inc. Expeditionary Media released Chosin, a documentary about the Chosin Reservoir campaign.  The movie is mostly a collection of interviews with survivors of that campaign who recall for us their memories of the fighting in which they participated.  If you are familiar with the HBO Band of Brothers series, specifically the extra disc of veteran commentary, then you will understand the style of Chosin.  Directed by Iraq War veteran Brian Iglesias, Chosin at times is a bit difficult to watch as we see veterans, in many cases visibly scarred by their experiences of over sixty years ago, talk about the situations they found themselves dealing with.  

The quality of the film is a bit lacking from a production point of view.  The men being interviewed looked washed out, almost as if the film was made during the 1970s with muted colors.  I would have also preferred to see more detailed maps and map animations of the Chosin area so that the viewer could have some context of the places the veterans were discussing.  This would have been very helpful to those who know little about the campaign  And perhaps the film could have included additional details regarding the units that fought at Chosin.  


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Resources

This is your chance to be very interactive with the blog, as being a new Korean War student, I am asking for your suggestions for the various resources that you find useful.  These resources can be websites, books, movies...whatever you find to be good material on the Korean War.  Leave your suggestions in the comments and I will add them accordingly.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Crusade

In reading some of the comments here and on The Miniatures Page (TMP), I am becoming more and more convinced that 10mm is the way to game the Korean War.  Of course the issue then becomes finding suitable figures.  While a lot of what is needed can be covered by the various World War Two manufacturers, there are definitely some holes that need to be filled before the Korean War can recreated in 10mm.

One comment on TMP mentioned Pithead Miniatures as a possibility as they do make one pack of Chinese infantry in winter gear (listed curiously under their North Korea section).  An email to Phil at Pithead resulted in a quick reply in which he did mention he plans on making Chinese support weapons, as well as Americans and British for the Chinese invasion period (meaning cold weather gear).  That is the good news.  The bad is that is that because of the lack of support thus far going much beyond that (such as North Korean troops) might be problematic.  Hence the call for a crusade.

I have read the various posts on TMP about gaming the Korean War, and seemingly there are some constant themes.  One is the impression of needing hordes of Chinese.  I believe that the more one reads on the subject, one is more convinced that while the Chinese did have numerical advantage, the hordes idea stems more from the tactics they used as opposed to having human waves.  The tactics (night infiltration, advancing inside artillery barrages, etc.) gave the Allies the impression of hordes.  I do not believe one needs to paint up thousands or even hundreds of Chinese to pull off some amazing scenarios.  I'll discuss my stance on hordes in a future post.

Another common complaint on TMP is about the terrain.  This complaint is more valid to me than the impression of needed hordes.  The terrain in Korea, especially the areas involved during the Chinese invasion period, is impressive.  Steep mountains and hills with deep valleys mingled in between does not replicate itself well to the tabletop, especially to the temporary setups that most of us use (terrain mats, etc.).  Either a gamer makes terrain boards or terrain features that can be placed on a terrain mat.  In either case, the steepness of the hills and mountains for larger scale actions are not that conducive to the tabletop.  This picture shows the area near Yudam-ni, part of the Chosin Reservoir region.  The flat areas are around 3500 feet, while the surrounding hills are 600-700 feet higher.  That is tough to replicate on the table top.

But what if we focused on some of the hilltop fighting, on a smaller unit scale?  Just to the south of Yudam-ni is Fox Hill, where Fox Company of the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Marine Regiment held the heights along the road from Yudam-ni to Hagaru, and by doing so allowed other units to move to the south through the critical Taktong Pass.  The hilltop (more like a short ridge line) stays near 4900-5000 feet in elevation.  This hilltop, and the small unit actions that took place there, could be easily recreated on table top.  I am sure there are numerous examples of platoon and company sized actions that would not involve earth movers to recreate, nor would they take painting up hordes of Chinese with their bugles and burp guns.

Pithead Miniatures Chinese Infantry
Photo from Pithead website
I hope this might give you some inspiration that Korea does not all have to be about hordes and hills.  If this now possibly appeals to you, and you think that 10mm might be the way to game this conflict, I would ask that you send Phil at Pithead an email about your desire to see more figures for Korea, as well as place an order for the Chinese he does currently offer.  The more email traffic he receives, and more importantly, the more sales he has, the more likely he is to continue developing this range.  While there are current ranges in 15mm one can buy today, the detail I have seen on the Pithead site along with the fact that I will most likely be mounting my figures on multi-figure stands leads me to believe that 10mm is the direction for the land portion of this war.  If you feel the same, I call on you to join the crusade!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Welcome!

The first post on this new adventure, the Korean War!  I will be posting blog entries on an occasional basis that will deal with gaming the war in miniature, along with other tidbits I find interesting.  On the miniatures side, the land war will be in 15mm, small unit level, while the air war will be gamed in 1/285th (1/300th) scale.  As this is a brand new gaming project, there are a lot of decisions to be made about miniatures and rules, but I do have some ideas in hand.

My Korean War knowledge is slim so I grabbed a few titles from my local Half Price Books and am working my way through them.  My father missed Korea, having served in the U.S. Army in the mid-1950s where he was stationed in Germany as part of an armored cavalry regiment.  So I do not have any direct connection or reason to have a strong interest in the war, other than it isn't gamed often, the air war saw the first widespread use of jets, and of those jets I really am a fan of the F-80 Shooting Star and F-86 Sabre.  I also think that the M26 Pershing is one sweet looking tank.  Are those valid or enough reasons for gaming the Korean War?  Damn right they are!

For the land war, there are various companies making Korean War figures, and of course many World War Two ranges can be used.  I would almost go with 10mm for this project, but to my knowledge there is only one company (Pithead Miniatures) making 10mm Chinese and none making North Koreans or Allied forces in winter gear, while there are some ranges existing in 15mm.  The larger scale of these battles (compared to some of my more modern projects) would lend itself more readily to 10mm, and there are rumors that Pendraken will be making a Korean War range, and that Pithead will be expanding their range, but until those figures are forthcoming 15mm will be the direction I most likely will head.  As I am going to work on the air portion of the war first, I do have some time to wait to see if these additional rumored 10mm miniatures are indeed placed into production.

In 15mm there are enough existing figures to put together small unit actions.  Quality Castings (part of Old Glory 15s) make Chinese in winter gear, North Koreans in summer uniform, and other forces can be put together from their World War Two range.  I have always had a soft spot for the Quality Castings figures as they were some of their first World War Two 15mm figures I ever painted.  While some of the poses and details might be a tad dated compared to more recent lines, they still hold up fairly well.  I do have an order placed with Eureka (the USA shop) for the North Koreans to see how they look, and will probably order some of the other ranges to see if they blend well together.

For the air war, I am purchasing some 1/285th MiG-15s and F-86 Sabres from a local gamer, along with four air war books and some Dom's Decals.  I am not sure who the manufacturer of the planes might be, but I did order some of the Raiden Miniatures via I-94 Enterprises today so I hope I will be able to compare them and determine what manufacturer the local gamer's planes are.

Rules - For the land war these are yet to be determined, but I do have a copy of the Korean War Data Book coming from Olde Dominion GameWorks (ODGW) for their Mein Panzer rules.  For air combat some of my gaming friends use Check Your 6! rules from SkirmishCampaigns so I ordered the Korean War supplement today as well.  I have only gamed CY6! one time before, years ago, and did not come away with fond memories, but am willing to give it another go before making a final decision on rules.

There will be more to come over the next several days (pictures of minis, etc.) so be certain to check out the blog regularly and leave comments from time to time!
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