Rules: Living on the Frontline

Well, there's life in the old dog yet!

It's been a while since I last posted anything here but the creative juices are starting to stir, least of all because of the release of Living on the Frontline by Caliver Books, a set of modern ECW rules using Mark's Winter of '79 background as a basis (but usable for any, including this one...).

A lot of the work on Living on the Frontline has been undertaken by Wargames Illustrated sub-editor Wayne Bollands who has also set up a Winter of '79 Facebook page that has a growing community and lots of interesting ideas.

Now where did I put those TAG Modern British?

News: Irish Routed by British Air Elements

6th March 1989: British royalist and republican forces in Northern Ireland launched a massive co-ordinated counter-attack across the province against the invading Irish Republic forces.

Under relentless air attack by Royalist Army Air Lynx helicopters and Republican Air Force Tornadoes flying out of bases in Scotland, Irish AFV's were targeted in an around the clock bombardment before Royal Irish and Ulster Defence Force troops launched a ground assault on the night of the 5th.

Shell shocked Irish Defence Force troops streamed back across the border as territory in both the east and south of Ulster was recovered by British forces.

News: Irish Engaged at Armagh

4th March 1989: Sky News reported that the 1st Royal Irish Rangers had engaged Irish Republic forces advancing on the strategically important town of Armagh alongside elements of the Ulster Defence Regiment.

The Irish 3rd Infantry Battalion had advanced on Armagh in a effort to ensure the flank of the 1st Infantry, advancing on Lisburn, expecting minimal resistance from UDR forces in the area but was surprised by the presence of the 1st Royal Irish who they believed to still be preparing defences around Belfast. Fierce fighting took place as the 3rd attempted to storm the Royalist positions, the Milan ATGM causing numerous casualties amongst the advancing Irish APC's.

News: Welsh Nationalists Declare Independence

1st March 1989: Wales Today reported that paramilitary troops of Byddin Rhyddid Cymru (The Free Wales Army), a paramilitary Welsh nationalist organisation, seized Broadcasting House in Cardiff and declared independence from England. Julian Cayo-Evans, the FWA leader who had been imprisoned in for conspiracy to cause explosions in 1969, broadcast an appeal on BBC Cymru Wales to the country appealing for national unity and independence to "protect the Welsh nation and its peoples from the horrors that had engulfed England".

Unfortunately for Cayo-Evans whilst the FWA did attract considerable popular support, notably from a number of police forces in the Principality, his plea for unity was not welcomed by all. Cymru Goch (Red Wales) a left wing nationalist organisation with socialist and trade union support took to arms to resist the imposition of FWA rule on Wales.

Additionally other nationalist paramilitary organisations such as Meibion Glyndŵr (Sons of Glyndŵr), who had been waging a firebombing campaign since 1979 and Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru (The Movement for the Defence of Wales), an older nationalist group led by John Jenkins; opposed Cayo-Evans on a number of points of principle and made their own power plays often resulting in all out warfare between the nationalist groups.

The situation in Wales further worsened as militias such as the The Welsh Army for the Workers Republic were formed (sometimes with covert English Republican or Royalist support), often on a regional or language basis, leading to the breakdown of the rule of law as alliances were formed (and often quickly broken) as the various paramilitaries attempted to control valuable resources such as the South Wales coalmines.

News: Irish Army Captures Newry

22nd February 1989: RTÉ News reported that Irish Defence Forces had captured Newry as they "expanded the axis of advance as part of their peace keeping operations."

The 1st and 3rd Infantry Battalions advanced into County Amagh overnight meeting little resistance from UDR forces along the border capturing the city on the 22nd. Following this success the Irish Defence Forces continued their advance north towards Craigavon and Lisburn.

News: AVG Armour Goes in Action

15th February 1989: Sky News reported that American Volunteer Group armoured units had engaged Republican and German 'mercenary' units near Mansfield. General Munnery at GHQ stated that "superior American tanks had smashed the communists attempts to invade the heartland of the Royalist north of England".

In reality, whilst AVG M1's had engaged Republican forces, they were of limited numbers and had only achieved local success. However the escalation of the Civil War to now include American land forces was greeted with concern by both the Republican government in London and by Moscow.

News: Republicans Advance Up East Coast

12th February 1989: the Republican advance against the dispirited Royalist continued unabated with German armour supported by French and Republican Army units capturing Grantham, Boston and threatening Newark.

Despite the introduction of American Volunteer Group air force support, Royalist morale had plummeted and the army was in disarray. Some units had fallen back on positions such as in King's Lynn and Stamford which the Royalist press claimed were "key defensive positions being held on a fluid battlefield" but in reality the Republicans had bypassed them in their blitzkrieg inspired attack north towards key Royalist locations such as Sheffield and Grimsby.

Miniatures: The Lynx Effect

The current issue of Helicopter Magazine (9) comes with a lovely 1/72nd British Army Westland Lynx AH7 complete with FITOW missile rack. As the AH7 variant entered service in 1985 it is perfect for the England Prevails era and is just the thing to take on those pesky Irish Panhard's!

News: Royalists Land Troops in Ulster

8th February 1989: Landings of Royalist "reinforcements" in Ulster were reported on Sky News to "assist in the efforts to repulse the Southern aggressors".

The U.S. Government had made clear its concerns about the Soviet presence in the Republic of Ireland and saw the invasion by the Irish Army as the first step towards the whole island falling under Moscow's influence. However, given the sentiments of many in America, President Bush regarded  it as political suicide to provide U.S. troops to aid the British against the Irish Republic's army (even if it was, in his view, a Soviet puppet).

To this end he negotiated a quid pro quo with the Royalist government, offering to expedite the provision of American Volunteer Group forces to England, if the Royalists would help repulse the invasion of Ulster.

The 1st Royal Irish Rangers were airlifted to positions north of Belfast seizing control of the M2 and M5 motorways, with the 2nd Royal Irish landing to the south occupying the M1 and other routes from the south. With most units of the Ulster Defence Regiment already engaging the Irish army or taking positions along the border with the Republic, very minimal resistance was met from some Constabulary Forces and quickly suppressed. Special Forces units took control of key points in Belfast, notably the port facilities allowing for more reinforcements to be ferried into the six counties.

News: American Volunteers Join The War

7th February 1989: Sky News reported the first elements of the American Volunteer Group, sanctioned by President Bush in his inauguration speech, had seen action against Republican forces near Peterborough.

Flying A-10 Thunderbolt's, the AVG helped stall a French armoured advance north and allow Royalist forces the chance to dig in near around Stilton.

The first AVG squadron to see action was the 78th Tactical Fighter Squadron, which had been based at RAF Woodbridge in Suffolk before Cranwell's order for US forces to leave British soil when it had decamped to Naval Air Station Keflavik in Iceland.

Officially the AVG comprised solely of volunteers but in reality complete units of the US military were transferred to the AVG given the desperate need of the Royalists and the US Government's concerns over French and German involvement in England, as well as the Soviet presence in Ireland.

Blogs: Sapper Joe's Anarchy in the UK

Sapper Joe, who kindly nominated us for a Liebster Award, has been working on his own Modern English Civil War project, Anarchy in the UK. Focusing on low intensity COIN warfare, it is certainly worth keeping an eye on...


News: Irish Advance Halted at Dungiven

6th February 1989: RTÉ News reported that fierce fighting had occurred as Irish Defence Forces advanced east as part of a plan to establish a safezone outside of Derry.

The reality of the situation was that Taoiseach Charles Haughey had decided to take advantage of the situation in Britain to seize the Ulster and reunite Ireland. Claiming that the invasion was a peacekeeping mission was a smokescreen that few believed, especially as the Irish Army became embroiled in fierce fighting in the days following the relatively bloodless capture of Londonderry.

The Irish forces were keen to seize Dungiven, a strategically important town on the route to Belfast. The 2 Cavalry Squadron supported by the 5 Infantry Battalion and 65 Reserve Infantry Battalion moved up from Strabane having crossed the border with the 1 Cavalry Squadron and 27 Infantry Battalion advancing from Derry.

Three Battalions of the Ulster Defence Regiment; the 5th (Londonderry), 8th (Tyrone) and 7th/10th (Belfast), dug in in the rough countryside around the town and fought off a number of attacks by the Irish forces attempting to seize control of the A6 main road that would facilitate an advance on Belfast.

Despite the Irish Cavalry Squadrons employing Panhard AML armoured cars, the UDR, utlising Carl Gustav recoilless rifles were able to thwart the Irish plans.

News: Irish Army Seizes Derry

5th February 1989: RTÉ News reported that elements of the Irish Army including the 3 Infantry Battalion and 1 Cavalry Squadron had crossed the border into Northern Ireland on a peacekeeping mission, following weeks of internecine warfare between Nationalist, Republican and Royalist factions in Ulster.

The Irish forces entered Londonderry without resistance, although elements of the Ulster Defence Regiment (under Republican orders) took up positions near Dungiven and Garvagh to resist any potential move towards Belfast.

Miniatures: Helicopters

The current issue (7)  of the Helicopter Magazine partwork comes complete with a very useful 1/72nd pre-painted Westland Wessex HU.5 the Royal Navy troop transporter (so ideal for getting your Marines into battle). I think it could also do duty as a HC.2 with an RAF repaint. At £7.99 this is really good value.

Earlier issues of the magazine came with a Westland Sea King that could be used as a Westland Commando troop carrier and a wonderful Chinook HC2, both worth getting hold of, even if they probably need a repaint, as they were in service for the late eighties.

News: Royalist Frontline Collapses

2nd February 1989: The Royalist army fell back under the onslaught of the Republican's Operation Hammer with Panzerbrigade 12 "Oberpfalz" leading Republican troops into Cambridge and the 3e Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes seizing Mildenhall airport before being relieved by the advancing 3e Régiment de Chasseurs and 4th Tank Regiment.

The Royalist Government appealed to the United Nations over the intervention of France and Germany in an internal conflict, but a US sponsored resolution was vetoed by France. Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar expressed his disappointment in the escalating conflict and urged the US and France to concentrate their efforts on instigating a ceasefire rather than fuelling the conflict.

News: European Volunteers Aid Republicans

31st January 1989: The Republicans launched Operation Hammer, a massive counter-attack against the Royalist forces poised to invest London. In complete secrecy the Republican government had integrated 'volunteer' units from the Armée de Terre and Bundeswehr into their army, enjoying complete surprise against the Royalists as a three prong attack was launched in the early hours of the 29th January.

The French 1re Division Blindée, 2e Régiment d'Infanterie de Marine and 92e Régiment d'Infanterie
smashed through the Royalist line west of St Albans swinging east between Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City enveloping the Royalist King’s Own Royal Border Regiment.

In the centre the 3rd Tank Regiment and the Hampshire Regiment pushed north up the M11 corridor towards Harlow engaging in heavy fighting with the 1st Royal Tank Regiment and the Green Howards.

Meanwhile the Luftlandebrigade 26 "Saarland"and Force d'Action Rapide were landed at Hawk Hill near Battlesbridge to cut off the retreat of the Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire, itself forced back by Republican units, including the Jägerbataillon 291 and Light Infantry, that had landed at Leigh-on-Sea.

News: Blackout To Be Lifted

29th January 1989: Home Secretary Peter Taaffe has announced that the recently imposed news blackout across the British Republic will be lifted within the next 48 hours...

Miniatures: Police Vehicles

On a trip down to Tesco's to pick up a lorry (more of which soon) I discovered a couple of packs of emergency vehicles which will be great for games including a police car and an ambulance (and a police tow truck which I have  half-formed plan to convert into mounting some kind of support weapon).

As I two ambulances I decided to convert one into a police transit which required repainting the green rectangles blue, tinting the middle side windows with Badab Black wash (darn useful this) and covering the ambulance markings with a fresh coat of paint and some police decals from ASB Models (who produce useful mirror image decals as well as a chequer board to convert other vehicles).

All the diecasts where satin varnished before detailing and weathering. The varnishing helps provide a surface for wash and paint to key to, vital for painting in the recessed panel lines, a trick which helps make any diecast look more like a model and less like a toy.

Miniatures: Commercial Vehicles

Along with the cars I purchased on Friday I also picked up a couple of packs of Fuel Line commercial vehicle packs (three vehicle for a fiver) from Tesco. I've a recycling lorry and one with a skip left to work on, but decided to weather up all the yellow construction vehicles in the two packs.

The car and the SUV really got "messed up" the look of vehicles you often see on motorways and building sites at this time of the year. As with the cars all I satin varnished them before adding a splatter of earth drown paint then a black wash (making sure to mask the windscreen wiper area).

The lorrys are the same basic vehicle with different backs, Same weathering process as the car and SUV, though I did tone down the effect this time.

One of the lorrys came with a load in the form of two extremely recycling containers which make great scenery. Both were satin varnished then weathered with brown paint and a black wash.

Miniatures: Trade Union Militia

I've managed to finish off the first squad of Trade Union Militia using Chechen figures from the Red Star Miniatures range. Lovely figures I've left them largely as is, although two sport TAG SA80's rather than AK-74's to tie in with the background.

The lads of the TGWU Liverpool Dock Workers Chapter have been painted in a mix of civilian styles with jeans and track suit bottoms, trainers and anoraks all in use. I added red armbands to all using green stuff as a unit/side identifier. With the possibility of criminal gangs also operating around the battlefield it seemed logical that the Militia would have some identifier. Also, as the militia come from Liverpool I decided that the famous football rivalry of the city needed honouring with one worker (pointing) wearing a Liverpool FC woolen hat and one (firing) an Everton one.

One issue that came to light when painting these and the Police Whiteshirts was that the Militia were in cold/wet weather (normal British weather) clothing with the Police in summer short sleeves which kind of doesn't mix. The Militia will therefore face off against some TAG British Army royalists when painted, whereas the Whiteshirts will eventually face up to some Popular Front Militia converted from some African/Somali militia types if I can find some I like...

Miniatures: Fuel Line Dream Cars

Civilian vehicles are something of a pain for 28mm gamers, 1/56th looks too small (even if you can get them) and 1/43rd (a common car scale) is a bit too big. Consequently it is a case of what looks right and having seen the Tesco Fuel Line range of toy cars flagged as useful I popped along this morning to see what Tesco Brislington had.

The Fuel Line 'Dream Car' pack contains three super cars (not sure what type but they're the kind you see on Top Gear every week) which whilst the right size seemed at tad too flash for what I wanted. Fortunately at the back of the stand was a different 'Dream Car' pack containing a BMW Z4, Mercedes SLS and Jaguar XKR, not cars in my pay range, but not uncommon on British streets (the Jaguar will make a useful politicians vehicle).

Die-casts invariably come with a bright gloss finish which never looks right on the tabletop so I gave the models a quick satin varnish then a bit of weathering and panel lining using GW washes. I did wonder if I had overdone the silver Merc until I looked out the window at the numerous silver cars in the street which show every bit of dirt going.

I also picked up some construction vehicles which are part way through some heavy weathering and have almost finished the TGWU Liverpool Dockers Militia (bases drying) so expect more photos soon.