Scotch on the Rocks

The BBC News has an article on a 1970s drama series, about an armed revolt in Scotland.

It sounds like the most dramatic news story imaginable.

The battle for Scottish independence has taken a violent turn after paramilitary “soldiers” of the Scottish Liberation Army (SLA) took over the town of Fort William.

Troops from English regiments of the British army are massing north of Glasgow to turn back an expected assault on the nation’s largest city.

The prime minister is meeting his cabinet in London. And the leadership of the SNP, the party which recently narrowly missed out on winning a majority in the Westminster parliament, has yet to condemn the actions in the Highlands.

I wasn’t aware of this series, but I am intrigued by the similarity to the article I wrote thirty years ago about a possible modern era English Civil War that was published in Wargames Illustrated.

” … its six o’clock, on Tuesday the 27th October 1998. This is the Royal Somerset Broadcasting Service, and now the news from Wessex and around the world. The headlines: Scotland has seceded from the British Republic, fighting has broken out along the border. Royalist army and volunteer militia units have pushed back across the border an armed incursion by Democratic Guards into south-west Dorset last night. Bristol Docks were once again the target of bombing over the night, but damage has been minimal. The United States has once again confirmed its commitment to the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Wessex and Duchy of Cornwall.”

Sadly the Scotch on the Rocks series was never repeated, the real SNP complained about their fictional portrayal in the drama. Also not all the episodes are available. You can get the book on Amazon though.

I wonder if they would remake the series (still have it set in the 1970s) or reboot the series to a modern day setting.

There are lots of gaming ideas in this concept. Something I hope to explore in a later blog post.

An alternate SR-N1 Hovercraft

Back in January I wrote a piece about an idea I had for an alternate Desert Storm set in 1959.

The re-release of the Fairey Rotodyne reminded me of an idea I had for an alternative history background for gaming. The basic premise was a Desert Storm background but with 1950s tanks, aircraft, helicopters and VTOL craft like the Fairey Rotodyne.

My premise was that the British armed forced faced with a new threat would make use of aircraft such as the  Fairey Rotodyne.

I was reminded of this article following the announcement from Airfix that they are going to re-release their 1/72nd scale model of the SR-N1 Hovercraft.

Debuted in 1960, it hasn’t been seen in the range since the 1980s. 

SR-N1 Hovercraft

The SR-N1 was the first practical hovercraft and demonstrated the potential of air-cushioned transport.

On 11 June 1959, the SR.N1 performed its first flight in front of the public. The SR.N1 participated in the test programme for four years prior to its retirement, by which point it had served its purpose in successfully validating the concept and further hovercraft had been developed.

Now I actually remember building the Airfix kit, but I painted it up as a military version. I think it was all over black to be used by special forces.

Airfix on their site talk about the military application of the SR-N1.

The SR-N1 Hovercraft is an experimental machine with space for the pilot and his observer, although on demonstration it has carried 20 fully equipped soldiers. 

If I was to go down the Desert Storm 1959 idea, then I think I would get some SR-N1 hovercraft (well at least one) and build it as a troop carrier, or an armed version.

Peerless Armoured Car

This Peerless Armoured Car was on display at the Tank Museum at Bovington.

Peerless Armoured Car

The (original) Peerless Armoured Car was an armoured car that was used by the British Army during the First World War. Sixteen American Peerless trucks were modified by the British to serve as armoured cars. These were relatively primitive designs with open backs, armed with a Pom-pom gun and a machine gun, and were delivered to the British Army in 1915.

In 1919 a new design was built. it was based on the chassis of the Peerless three-tonne lorry, with an armoured body built by the Austin Motor Company.

The Peerless lorry was a relatively slow and heavy vehicle but was reckoned to be tough, with solid rubber tyres and rear-wheel chain drive. The armour for the vehicle produced by the Austin company was based on an earlier design created for the Russian Army.

Peerless Armoured Car

The most common variant was a twin-turret design fitted with two machine guns. However, a number of other variants were developed, including a vehicle armed with a 3-inch (76 mm) gun and an anti-aircraft variant armed with a 13-pound 6cwt AA gun.

The car had a crew of four .The Peerless Armoured Car was used in a variety of roles, including reconnaissance, escort duty, and direct fire support. It was used by the British Army in the Russian Civil War.

The Peerless Armoured Car was a relatively successful design for its time. It was well-protected and reliable, and it was able to carry a significant amount of firepower. However, it was also slow and heavy, which limited its usefulness in some roles. The Peerless Armoured Car was eventually replaced by more modern designs in the 1920s.

Peerless Armoured Car

Poor off-road performance hampered the vehicle but it still saw considerable service, notably in Ireland. A few were still in service with the British at the start of the Second World War. Seven were in service with the Irish National Army during the Irish Civil War and used by the Irish Defence Forces up until 1932.

This photo appeared in the Sunday Independent on 13 August 1922, with the caption: “A Dangerous Corner – This photograph was taken in one of the towns captured during the past week by the National Army. It shows an amoured car “manoeuvring for position” at the end of a street facing the post office. Irregulars occupy the further end of the street, and are being quickly dislodged by infantry supported by the armoured car.”

Peerless Armoured Car in Cork in 1922
Peerless Armoured Car in Cork in 1922 – National Library of Ireland on The Commons [No restrictions]
These armoured cars would have been used in the world of A Very British Civil War. They would also make ideal vehicles for the concept of the 1919 British Revolution I talked about in this blog post.

If there had been a British Revolution in 1919, the Peerless Armoured Cars would have likely been used to suppress the uprising. The cars were well-protected and armed with machine guns, making them ideal for use against rioters and rebels. They would have been deployed to key locations around the country, such as government buildings, military bases, and communication hubs. The cars would have also been used to patrol the streets and to provide support to police forces.

The use of Peerless Armoured Cars would have likely been controversial. Some people would have argued that the cars were necessary to protect the country from chaos and anarchy. Others would have argued that the cars were a symbol of government oppression. The use of the cars would have likely exacerbated tensions between the government and the people, and it could have led to further violence.

Ultimately, the outcome of a British Revolution in 1919 is impossible to say. However, the use of Peerless Armoured Cars would have likely played a significant role in the conflict.

Desert Storm 1959

Today saw the announcement of the 2023 Airfix range. I generally don’t do model kits, well I haven’t made an Airfix style model kit since the 1980s… though I have built a fair few wargaming kits since then.

I still have a nostalgic fondness for some of the older Airfix kits so was pleased to see that Airfix have announced the re-release of the Fairey Rotodyne.

Airfix Fairey Rotodyne

The Fairey Rotodyne was a 1950s British compound gyroplane designed and built by Fairey Aviation and intended for commercial and military uses. The Rotodyne featured a tip-jet-powered rotor that burned a mixture of fuel and compressed air bled from two wing-mounted turboprops. The rotor was driven for vertical takeoffs, landings and hovering, as well as low-speed translational flight, but autorotated during cruise flight with all engine power applied to two propellers.

Fairey Rotodyne
Johannes Thinesen, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Due to army and Royal Air Force (RAF) interest, development of the Rotodyne had been funded out of the defence budget for a time. The RAF also placed an order for 12 military transport versions. According to rumours, the U.S. Army was also interested in buying around 200 Rotodynes.

One prototype was built. Although the Rotodyne was promising in concept and successful in trials, the programme was eventually cancelled. The termination has been attributed to the type failing to attract any commercial orders; this was in part due to concerns over the high levels of rotor tip jet noise generated in flight. 

The re-release of the Fairey Rotodyne reminded me of an idea I had for an alternative history background for gaming. The basic premise was a Desert Storm background but with 1950s tanks, aircraft, helicopters and VTOL craft like the Fairey Rotodyne.

The British forces alongside Westland Whirlwinds and Westland Wessex helicopters would also have access to the Fairey Rotodyne for transport and troop insertion. I even thought about including the Bristol Belvedere, which though entered service in 1961, had its first flight in 1958.

Airfix have also announced they are re-releasing the Bristol Bloodhound SAM missile.

Bristol Bloodhound

It was developed in the 1950s and was used for air defence until 1991 in the UK.

Alongside the aircraft and missiles I would have also added some Centurion tanks and other armoured vehicles.

I would have painted the models in a desert camouflage similar to the US Desert Battle Dress Uniform (DBDU).

Desert Battle Dress Uniform
The original uploader was Pretzelpaws at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Two shades of brown with those clusters of black and white spots.

As for opponents? Well that would have been Soviet aircraft and vehicles, also in a desert camouflage.

Airfix have said they will release these new models in the Autumn of 2023, so it may be a possibility, just maybe.

Team Yankee: Red Dawn

So there I was thinking I haven’t visited the Team Yankee site in a while, and when I went there I was intrigued and pleased to see the announcement of the release of Team Yankee: Red Dawn.

Red Dawn Logo

Background on the Soviet Invasion of North America, Soviet Airborne Forces, the VDV, Cubans, US Continental and Militia Fores.

Instructions on how to build a Soviet BMD Air Assault Battalion, T-72B Tank Battalion, T-64BV Tank Battalion, Cuban T-62, T-55, BMP & BTR-60 Formations, and a US Militia Group.

Air Assault rules, US, British, West German, Soviet, Warsaw Pact and Cuban forces for the Air Assault Mission, and how to field the Mi-8 HIP, CH-46 Sea Knight, CH-47 Chinook, and CH-53 Sea Stallion transport helicopters.

Four Scenarios pitting US irregular Militia Groups against the Soviets.

Of course Red Dawn was the name of the 1984 film starring Patrick Swayze. The film depicts a fictional World War III centered on a land invasion of the continental United States by an alliance of Soviet, Warsaw Pact and Latin American states.

The story follows a group of teenaged guerillas, known as the Wolverines, in Soviet-occupied Colorado. 

The Team Yankee version of Red Dawn is very similar, but is part of the Team Yankee setting, so there is a war in Europe whereas in the film the war was focused on the North American continent.

I like the concept of armed militia and pick up trucks with HMGs on board.

They could also be used for games in Wessex: The Second English Civil War for insurgent and militia forces.

The new helicopters also look interesting for air assault scenarios, both within and outside the Team Yankee background.

It will be interesting to see how far Battlefront will take this background. This blog post has an in-depth review of the rules and forces from the rule book.

1919: Britain’s Year of Revolution

A few years ago I wrote a blog post about an alternate history, called The 1919 British Revolution.

As well as looking at the general feeling of discontent across the country I did focus on an incident in Glasgow.

In Great Britain the government feared a bolshevik uprising and was quick to oppress any potential threat to the established order. One of the biggest areas for concern were the labour movements and trade unions. One strike in Glasgow in 1919 eventually resulted in a street battle between strikers and police, which was so bad, the army was called in. The “Battle of George Square”, also known as “Bloody Friday” and “Black Friday”, was one of the most intense riots in the history of Glasgow; it took place on Friday, 31 January 1919. Clashes between the City of Glasgow Police and protesters broke out, prompting the War Cabinet to make soldiers available to the civil power, to prevent the violence from escalating.

I also saw this post the first of a series of blog posts.

In future blog posts I want to have a look at potential battles in the 1919 British Revolution and the forces involved.

I did start thinking about possible scenarios and forces. I have in the cupboard the boxed set of Battlefront’s 15mm The Great War Mitchell’s Marauders.

Mitchell's Marauders (GBRAB1)

The boxed set includes one Company HQ, two Rifle Platoons, one Machine-gun Platoon, one Royal Artillery Gun Detachment. It also has one Medium Tank Platoon comprising a single Mark A Whippet and a Heavy Tank Platoon which is two Mark IV tanks.

I was thinking that this would be a good starting force for the 1919 British Revolution.

In my original blog post I used a couple of contemporary photographs, one was of the tanks, Medium Mark C tanks, and soldiers at the Glasgow Cattle Market in the Gallowgate waiting to be called in for action in Glasgow. The other photograph though was a Mark IV tank on the streets of Dublin.

British army tank in Dublin

I realised that I wanted to do some more research into this era and as you do went to Google. As well as finding more photographs from the era I also discovered that there was a book about a range of incidents across 1919.

1919; Britain’s Year of Revolution tells the story of an almost unknown passage in British history. On the August Bank Holiday that year, the government in London despatched warships to the northern city of Liverpool in an overwhelming show of force. Thousands of troops, backed by tanks, had been trying without success to suppress disorder on the streets. Earlier that year in London, 1000 soldiers had marched on Downing Street, before being disarmed by a battalion of the Grenadier Guards loyal to the government. In Luton that summer, the town hall was burned down by rioters, before the army was brought in to restore order and in Glasgow, artillery and tanks were positioned in the centre of the city to deter what the Secretary of State for Scotland described as a ‘Bolshevik uprising’. Industrial unrest and mutiny in the armed forces combined together to produce the fear that Britain was facing the same kind of situation which had led to the Russian Revolution two years earlier. Drawing chiefly upon contemporary sources, this book describes the sequence of events which looked as though they might be the precursor to a revolution along the lines of those sweeping across Europe at that time. To some observers, it seemed only a matter of time before Britain transformed itself from a constitutional monarchy into a Soviet Republic.

Well time to buy that from Amazon then.

Land Rover Centaurs in Wessex

The Laird Centaur was the brainchild of Laird (Angelsey) Limited and was the result of intensive engineering development combining the Land Rover and the Alvis designed tracks of the FV101 Scorpion light tank. 

Many years ago I wrote and had published an article in Wargames Illustrated called Wessex: The Second English Civil War.

Wessex: The Second English Civil War

On March 17th, 1998, Royalists rose up in defiance and took control of key government buildings, airfields and broadcasting stations in the West Country and Cornwall. Supported by army units and Sea Harriers from what used to be the Royal Navy, there was little bloodshed. People came out onto the streets and cheered. The King who had been in exile in Canada flew back and landed at Bristol airport. The Kingdom of Wessex and Duchy of Cornwall was born. The Republican Prime Minister was, of course, very angry at what had happened. He mobilised his Democratic Guards and ordered them to defeat the Royalist rebellion. The Second English Civil War had started. Three hundred and thirteen years after the last pitched battle to take place on English soil, there were going to be more.

My recent blog post on the Laird Centaur Half Track and their proposed different versions got me thinking about what if the Laird Centaur Half Track was a commercial and military success and was used extensively by both sides in the Wessex Civil War.

In the marketing materials they did advertise an armoured version. This got me thinking about scenarios involving an Armoured Laird Centaur Half Track in Wessex.

A Democratic Guard patrol on the M4 near Reading, comprising three Armoured Laird Centaur Half Tracks and a Scorpion Light Tank is ambushed by Royalist Special Forces. The objective of the ambush is to disable the vehicles and then withdraw.

Royal Marines Armoured Laird Centaur Half Tracks are guarding the entrance to the 40 Commando Royal Marines base at Norton Manor Camp. There then follows an assault by Republican paratroopers to rescue POWs being held at the camp.

A Royalist convoy, with Laird Centaur Half Tracks is approaching Gloucester when it is ambushed by a force of Democratic Guards using light scout vehicles, motorbikes and a single Armoured Laird Centaur Half Track.

Democratic Guards using Laird Centaur Half Tracks are landed on the beaches of North Somerset by landing craft, to sabotage the nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. Local royalist forces rush to defend the power station and push the Democratic Guards back into the Bristol Channel.

I’ve not found any models of the Laird Centaur, but I do remember once an article in a magazine about how to convert a 1/76th version using the (then) JB Models Land Rover and Scorpion models. Both kits are now available from Airfix.

Centurion Mk I

One tank that did interest me at Bovington was the Centurion Mk I.

Centurion Mk I

The Centurion was the primary British main battle tank of the post-Second World War period. Introduced in 1945, it is widely considered to be one of the most successful post-war tank designs, remaining in production into the 1960s, and seeing combat in the front lines into the 1980s.

Development of the Centurion began in 1943 with manufacture beginning in January 1945. Six prototypes arrived in Belgium less than a month after the war in Europe ended in May 1945, so too late to see action.

Of course in any alternative history scenario where the war continued after May 1945 in Europe, the Centurion Mk I would have seen action. Likewise in a another alternative history scenario where either Stalin decided to press West after defeating Nazi Germany to take over Western Europe, or the Western Allies decided to “liberate” Eastern Europe from the yoke of Stalin’s communist oppression, again the Centurion Mk I would have seen action.

I remember when Battlefront put up the details about their 15mm Australian Mk5 Centurion for Vietnam. I wrote the following thought:

My first thought when I saw the Centurion Mk5 was how close was it to the early versions, could I get away with using it for my Late War British forces in say a 1946 scenario? Only a handful of Mk1s were made when in November 1945 the Mk2 started coming off the production lines. The Mk3 did not enter production until 1948, so for a 1946 scenario, it would be the Mk2. The main difference between the Mk5 and the Mk2 would the main weapon, with the Mk5 having the L7 105mm gun, whilst the 1945 version had the QF 20 pdr. Though it would appear from the Battlefront site that the Australian Army Centurions were armed with the QF 20 pdr.

Simon in a comment in response, said:

Nice thought, but too many differences. For a start, different turret shape: no bustle, smaller, different-shaped stowage bins. No long-range fuel tank on the back, completely different engine deck. The ANZAC Mk V had a 105mm gun, the 20pdr had no fume-extractor and no muzzle-brake. These are just off the top of my head! However, if it’s a what-if scenario, who cares?

You can now get a 15mm Centurion MkI from Butlers’ Printed Models.

15mm Centurion MkI

Ah the wonders of 3D printing.

The Centurion actually first first entered combat with the British Army in the Korean War in 1950, in support of the UN forces.

Peerless Armoured Car

A rather dark photograph of mine of the Peerless Armoured Car at the Bovington Tank Museum.

Peerless Armoured Car

During the First World War, sixteen American Peerless trucks were modified by the British to serve as armoured cars. These were relatively primitive designs with open backs, armed with a Pom-pom gun and a machine gun, and were delivered to the British army in 1915.

After the war, a new design was needed to replace armoured cars that had been worn out. As a result, the Peerless Armoured Car design was developed in 1919. It was based on the chassis of the Peerless three ton lorry, with an armoured body built by the Austin Motor Company.

Here is a better lit photograph of the Peerless Armoured Car at Bovington from Wikimedia.

Peerless Armoured Car
Simon Q from United Kingdom [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
Poor off-road performance hampered the vehicle but it still saw considerable service, notably in Ireland. A few were still in service with the British at the start of the Second World War. Seven were in service with the Irish National Army during the Irish Civil War and used by the Irish Defence Forces up until 1932.

This photo appeared in the Sunday Independent on 13 August 1922, with the caption: “A Dangerous Corner – This photograph was taken in one of the towns captured during the past week by the National Army. It shows an amoured car “manoeuvring for position” at the end of a street facing the post office. Irregulars occupy the further end of the street, and are being quickly dislodged by infantry supported by the armoured car.”

Peerless Armoured Car in Cork in 1922
Peerless Armoured Car in Cork in 1922 – National Library of Ireland on The Commons [No restrictions]
These armoured cars would have been used in the world of A Very British Civil War. They would also make ideal vehicles for the concept of the 1919 British Revolution I talked about in this blog post.

The Man in the High Castle Video Effects Breakdown

I am looking forward to the last season of The Man in the High Castle.

One of the highlights of the series so far has been the way in which the seres makers have created a world different, but eerily similar to our own.

The video effects are quite amazing, and when you see how it was done, you realise how much time and effort went into creating this alternate world.

Here are some more video effects shots from season 2.

And from season 3.

In a previous blog post I discussed the series, which I started watching having “splashed” out on the free trial of Amazon Prime to get some Christmas gifts delivered quickly. Having got Amazon Prime,  I took the opportunity to watch what was then the new Amazon series The Man in the High Castle.