Friday, 30 April 2010

Will Alcovia Have An Airforce?

The Alcovian government has always suffered from a bit of hesitation on the subject of an air force. In fact, the concept of a dedicated air force has so far escaped the Alcovian military' grasp. Though scouting and courier planes and a few experimental bombers have existed in military service, they have manifested themselves as a collection of curiosities and aborted projects.

The earliest use of aircraft in Alcovia was a small fleet of a dozen Airco DH.2 scout planes purchased after the end of WW1. These planes were used to scout and survey the border between Alcovia and Iqenistan. Though officially unarmed, the pilots of these scout planes seldom left themselves unarmed as there was always a threat that their unreliable craft might leave them stranded in the harsh Alcovian wilderness.

A nuisance to Iqenistani border posts, these planes often came under fire by border guards and on a few occasions even damaged. It was late in June of 1920 that the first Iqenistani plane entered the air, it's pilot taking potshots at an Alcovian scout surveying the upper Borka river. This brief and rather ineffectual clash resonated through Alcovian leadership and prompted a more serious consideration of air power. If Iqenistan had planes, they might make the move to an air force. But, Iqenistan did not escalate their air power and seemed to reflect the same apathetic stance on air power as Alcovia.

By 1922 the aircraft in Alcovian service were showing their age and nearly unusable. The new planes being produced in the rest of the world were starting to capture the imagination of the nobility and military leadership, but had yet to gain favor among the government. Airplanes were still seen as unimportant and the idea of a service of military fliers unneeded. One man, Colonel Chuka Yagirin took the initiative and invited representatives from Italy, Germany, Britain, and Russia all to show off what they had done with airplanes and arranged an air show for the benefit of the government, the nobility and the military. In a clever move, he also invited members of the common population to witness, holding a lottery for tickets to the event.

The Yagirin air show was a resounding success. All the participants in the event showed off their latest and greatest, hoping to wow the leadership. Demonstrations of aerial skill as well as ground attack and bombing capabilities were held. In one impressive display a mocked up convoy of wooden vehicles was towed by oxen across the open field where it was riddled with bullets by strafing aircraft and then bombed in a spectacular display. The nobility were impressed, the military interested, and the common folk spellbound, but Alcovian leadership was still not enthusiastic. Col. Yagirin did succeed in securing a small order of a dozen German Fokker D.IX which had been delivered by 1923.

One of the biggest things hindering aircraft use in Alcovia has always been the tendency for the ground to get rather wet and soft, making reliable landing surfaces difficult to maintain. Airstrips that have been built and used are one rainy autumn or spring thaw away from turning into sucking quagmires. One solution to this was the adoption of float planes and flying boats, using the numerous lazy rivers, backwaters and canals throughout the country.

In the 30's Alcovia is having to rethink the concept of an air force. It's patchwork collection of speculatively purchased craft and aging machines cannot possibly carry forward into the modern age of fight that is becoming more and more obvious. With Russia becoming more and more involved with Iqenistan, providing them with weapons and materials, Alcovia must look to the west for designs that fit its needs. There is hope that a number of designs will be found from a single source so that a reliable and easily maintained fleet of new aircraft can defend the country in what seems an inevitable war between Iqenistan and Alcovia.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Rumours of unrest in the Lauranian Armed Forces

The recent news – as yet unsubstantiated – that the Lauranian Ministry of Defence has ordered armoured plate from Korrupt Arms, coming as it does in the wake of suggestions that the Lauranian Army at home and overseas might be reorganised, has led to rumours of unrest within the upper echelons of the Lauranian Armed Forces.

It is thought that some senior officers in the Army are concerned that they might be placed on the half-pay retired list if the reorganisation takes place, and if the armour plate is to be used to reinforce the existing border defences, such a reorganisation seems more likely. Fewer troops than the Army presently has on the strength would be required to man the chain of fortresses that may be built, and whilst the Artillery branch might be expanded, there is a possibility that the Cavalry would be reduced to a single Regiment or even disbanded altogether. The role of the Infantry would also change from a mobile to a static one.
Extract from The Lauranian Courtier

My First Foray

Unlike most of the contributors so far, I'm not planning an alternate country setting, rather I'm planning an alternate timeline, or timelines, as I have a couple of ideas on the go.

The first is the Spanish Civil War, with liberties taken to please me (T28s & T35s specifically), which I intend to use the Pendraken 10mm new SCW range for. I bought two armies with German and Italian tanks at Salute, and await T26s, BT5 and BA6 armoured cars in due course.

Then I plan to extend the Great War into the 1920s, again using Pendraken 10mm figures, and use the background of A Very British Civil War as inspiration, except driven by something other than the King & Mrs Wallace as the fuel. The Police & Miners strike of 1918 for example. Also, a chance to field MkIXs.

Other alternatives involving the imaginary ideas of H. G. Wells are a possibility too.

I won't post pictures on here yet, but instead post links to my modelling blog:


Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Central Banana Republic

I own a hardcopy of the US Marine Corps SMALL WARS Manual (1940) and just a little inspired after this blog took off I read through it again. The book is an invaluable DIY manual should you ever want to invade a Banana republic and I thoroughly recommend you read it if you are interested in the 'colonial' side of the Interbellum. A download is available here:

The Small Wars Manual put substance to my desire to do something with Eureka Miniatures 15mm 1941 US Marines, the ones with Tommy helmets, armed with Springfields etc. We're talking Back To Bataan rather than Sands of Iwo Jima. So, fully imbued with Interbellum ethos I've created the Central Banana Republic to capture some flavour of the 'Banana Wars" in Honduras, Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Panama during the 1920s and 30s.

This discrete project also gave me an additional push to rework my jungle terrain - which can be seen in more detail on my blog dedicated to 15mm Sci Fi gaming. I'll rework the pics for this blog once I have the correct period minis painted.

Rules? As it stands - We Can Be Heroes 2 for the smallscale 1-2-1 stuff and and Ambush Alley and Force on Force for anything larger.


Is Laurania buying armour plate ... and why?

It is rumoured that the Lauranian Ministry of Defence has placed a large order for armoured plate with Korrupt Arms. This story emerged from sources close to the Minister in the wake of the recent visit to Laurania by Basil Bazarov, Korrupt's leading salesman.

Does this presage a programme to build armoured vehicles for the Army or will the armour be used to reinforce the country's border defences? Might orders for new warships be in the pipeline?
An extract from The Lauranian Courtier

Polish Invasion of Czechoslovakia 1938

The annexation by Poland of the Zaolzie region of Czechoslovakia in 1938 is pure Interbellum gaming fodder.

There are some fantastic photos on Steer clear of the majority of the responses as they are twaddle and would make TMP proud:

Polish armour entering a city

Polish 10th Brigade


Interbellum Imagi-Wars in 1/600th

I admit to being a confirmed 15mm gamer but the Interbellum Imagi-Wars has me seriously looking at 1/600th and Oddzial Osmy's great range of 1/600th miniatures.

There's something about the miniatures meets Panzerblitz that appeals to me, and I can easily play divisional size actions using Chris Kemp's excellent NOT QUITE MECHANISED or Tim Gow's MEGABLITZ rules. Even if you don't want to play these rules, I recommend a gander at Chris' Eastern Front org charts for the Italians, Hungarians and Romanians. Perfect middle European fodder if you are searching for Orbat ideas without falling into the trap of creating Ruritanian Panzer divisions.

What I like about the Oddzial Osmy range is that the Polish range alone includes infantry, cavalry, tankettes and a whole heap of Vickers export models. In this scale it's both economical and practical to get them ALL onto the gaming table in the same scenario. Of course we lose the character of the uniforms but this can be made up for in the character of the formations and major equipment used.

If you are interested in the potential of 1/600th, look at the Polish, Italian, early Russian, French and some of the early German models.

Attractive and effective terrain can be scratch built very easily or bought cheaply from Irregular Miniatures as this photo from their website shows:

So, I may opt to continue playing Interbellum Imagi-Wars in both 15mm and 1/600th to get the most out of this fun gaming genre - and to fill in whilst I wait to see what Flames of War bring to the party with their planned 15mm Early War releases this August.


mekanizksy cobbly hygineczy

The Slobenian Ministry of Interior Works and City Cleansing proudly displays it's new fleet of mekanizksy cobbly hygineczy vehicles.

Prince, Viceroy, Minister of Interior Works and City Cleansing, Mikhail Slobardjy claims that City Cleansing Department personnel can now be deployed swiftly to any part of Slobnik to deal with public health issues. Citizens can be proud that their taxes are going towards keeping the city's streets and drains clean.

To maintain the efficiency of the mekanizksy cobbly hygineczy fleet, the vehicles will receive an annual 'overhaul' during the two week summer period of potato picking and army manouvres.

Slob Nadarnisch

Friday, 23 April 2010

Aviation News: Rippov-1 crashes during World Air Speed Record attempt

Today's issue of THE TRUTH, the Soviet Peoples' United Republic's official government newspaper, reports that the prototype Rippov-1 fighter crashed last week during an attempt to break the current World Air Speed Record.

The report states that during the turn at the end of the first high-speed flight along the specially laid out course, both wings appeared to fold back upon themselves and the 'plane ploughed into the ground, killing the pilot instantly.

An official enquiry into the accident has determined that the crash was a result of poor workmanship on the part of some of the engineers and workers at the Rippov Aircraft Factory, and they and their families have now been reassigned to work in other industrial sectors where their lack of care and attention to detail will have a less disastrous impact on output.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Lauranian Army of Africa may also be reorganised

For many years the Lauranian colony in Africa has been garrisoned by a mixture of Regular Army and specially-raised units. The latter include both locally recruited 'native' units and the Overseas Legion.

The specially-raised units of the Lauranian Army of Africa includes:
  • 1st and 2nd Regiments of the Overseas Legion (1° and 2° Regimentas Infantaria da La Legiona Oltramara)
  • 1st to 4th African Infantry Regiments (1° - 4° Regimentas Infantaria da Africa)
  • 1st and 2nd African Artillery Batteries (1° and 2° Batterias Artilleria da Africa)
It is expected that the Lauranian Army of Africa will undergo some restructuring in the forthcoming months, but it is likely that this will not be as drastic as that to be undertaken within the Regular Lauranian Army.
Extract from The Lauranian Courtier

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Lauranian Army: Is a reorganisation on the cards?

For many years the Regular Lauranian Army has been organised as follows:
  • A regiment of Guard cavalry (Lanca da Guarda [The Lancers of the Guard])
  • Three regiments Guard infantry – 1st to 3rd Regiments of Infantry of the Guard (1° - 3° Regimentas Infantaria da Guarda)
  • Four regiments of line cavalry – 1st to 4th Cavalry Regiments (1° - 4° Regimentas Cavalria)
  • Twenty regiments of line infantry – 1st to 20th Infantry Regiments (1° - 20° Regimentas Infantaria)
  • Six batteries of field artillery – 1st to 6th Field Artillery Batteries (1° - 6° Batterias Artilleria da Campa)
Traditionally the Regular Army has been supplemented in time of war by the Republican Militia. This is organised on a regional basis, and all able-bodied male Lauranians from 18 years of age up to the age of 55, who are not members of the Regular Armed Forces or the Regular Army Reserves, are expected to serve in the Militia.

In the light of recent technological developments, the Army High Command is considering a complete and radical restructuring of the existing army so that it can adequately defend Lauranian sovereignty, especially as tensions in the region are on the rise.

The nature of the new structure is unclear at present, but it is expected that there will be a reduction in the number of horsed Cavalry Regiments as some or all of the latter become mechanised, and the existing single-battalion Infantry Regiments may be amalgamated to form larger two or three-battalion Regiments. One branch that can expect to expand is the Artillery, as it will need to be enlarged to cope with the growing demands for anti-aircraft defence.
Extract from The Lauranian Courtier

Karagoz - The Tarnished Jewel of the East

If the ‘Eternal Empire’ of Balkrunia is seen to be progressive, dynamic and forward thinking then that of Karagoz would probably be described as the exact opposite. Although at various points in her long and turbulent history Karagoz was a major power, those halcyon days are now but a dim and distant memory. Years of internal strife and corruption, weak and vacillating rulers, expensive and pointless foreign wars and economic mismanagement have all taken their toll. The empire is still large in terms of geographical area but that is simply because most of what is Karagozian territory is largely undeveloped. The areas that had been developed had been poorly served by the creaking and inefficient bureaucracy that bedeviled most aspects of Karagozian life. For example, the agricultural heartland, when properly managed, was more than sufficient for the empire’s needs but after years of abuse, corrupt officialdom and the use of outdated farming methods operates at a fraction of its potential capacity. As a result of this chronic mismanagement the empire was forced to look to its provinces to compensate for the shortfall in domestic agricultural production. The Karagozian Balkrunian provinces were (and still are) agriculturally efficient and so inevitably an ever increasing burden of production was placed upon them. As produce quotas became ever more demanding so the resentment of the Balkrunian population festered. The local Karagozian provincial governors were, for the most part, indifferent to the plight of the locals and indeed, the entire region was seen as little more than an opportunity for self aggrandisement and exploitation. Backed by well equipped garrisons to enforce the law, the Karagozian local government quickly became a source of oppression and in doing so became to a large degree, the author of its own destruction. The preliminary protests against the continual raising of produce quotas were brutally suppressed and a spate of show trials resulted in wholesale imprisonment and even executions. The story of the Balkrunian War of Independence from 1889 to 1894 is well known and need not be repeated here. It is sufficient to note that as a result of the Treaty of Berne the Karagozian Empire was forced to cede all of its Eurpean Balkrunian provinces and to recognise the independence of the newly established nations of Balkrunia, Serotia, Grebania and Albengro. However, the treaty was slightly less satisfactory from the Balkrunian perspective as the territorial demarcation line markingt he border with Karagoz was set much further west than the Balkrunian Duma wanted. In any event though the treaty was nothing less than a catastrophe for Karagoz as almost overnight the empire had lost its most agriculturally productive region and so was then faced with a large scale food shortage. As food supplies dwindled so widespread rioting and civil unrest flared up across the length and breadth of the empire. The Sultan was powerless to intervene in the crisis (the usual banner headline of the state controlled press was that ‘The Sultan took tea as usual’) as the treasury was depleted and further financial credit from the international community was not forthcoming. Inevitably, given their traditional role in Karagozian daily life, the military stepped in to assume control and restore a semblance of order and so within days the Sultan and his closest advisers were placed under house arrest and martial law declared.

The military revolution under the leadership of Mustapha Kanca was the short, sharp shock the empire needed to stabilise the economy and restore order and although not a long term solution it provided a valuable breathing space whilst political, economic and social bridges were rebuilt after years of wanton abuse. The reforms were many and far reaching. To begin with, a large amount of bureaucracy was removed and government processes streamlined. A system of checks and balances was installed with recognised levels of accountability and clearly defined levels of responsibility established. The civil service became organised and based on a meritocracy rather than the old system of patronage. A ‘charm offensive’ was undertaken on the international stage with the obvious intention of encouraging investment in the empire. With typical Eastern diplomatic adroitness the advantages of supporting the Karagozians based upon their geographic location was offered as both a carrot and a stick in their dealings with the international community. The Russians, the British, the Austrians and the French were all courted at some stage and the hopes and fears of each were used as the music in the diplomatic dance. The Karagozians are masters of subterfuge and so more and more requests were made - more in hope than expectation usually – of the international community and were usually granted on the back of the these hopes and fears. In the Machiavellian world of international diplomacy as long as the status quo is maintained then everyone is content. The Karagozians were masters in ensuring that they set the status quo and that everyone else needed to maintain it. The irony of all these political machinations is that for the most part the international community were well aware that they were being manipulated but were content to allow this as long as their own agenda was being serviced. The Karagozians preferred to see their standing on the world stage as being a result of their own efforts rather than the reality of being supported for reasons beneath their consideration.

After a brief period of house arrest the Sultan was retained as a constitutional figurehead and the National Assembly ensured that that his remaining power was carefully controlled and above all, limited. Gone were the days of the Sultan’s whim being taken as law and of the intrigues of the Seraglio – the so called ‘harem politics’ so beloved of the ill informed but sensationalist western ‘yellow press’. To the international community the Sultan and all the trappings of Eastern opulence were exactly how the exotic East was imagined to be and so the illusion was maintained upon the world stage – cynically so, in order to project the image of continuity and age old ceremonial tradition. The real power though, existed with the new National Assembly.

To their credit, the military handed the reins of power back to the newly formed National Assembly as soon as stability in the region was assured. There was a sting in the tail though as before doing so a series of laws were introduced to safeguard the strength and position of the military under the new regime. This was the final contribution to the reformation of the Karagozian government by Mustapha Kanca before his assassination whilst on an inspection of the new rail terminus at Edirne. The perpetrator of this heinous crime was never caught although rumours persist that the Sultan or his former Grand Vizier, Kerim Dohnat, were behind the assassination, presumably in an attempt to bring about the restoration of the old order.

The new National Assembly has achieved much in the short time it has been active but there are many obstacles still to be tackled. The economy is weak and the treasury is reliant on the good auspices of the international community for its continued support. Foreign bankers largely manage the countries finances and understandably, the government behind these organisations wants to ensure that their interests are both protected and promoted. In respect of the military this means that a veritable army of ‘advisers’, experts and salesmen are to be found in the capital of Istantinople – each championing their own particular tactics or equipment. Despite this apparent wealth of material being touted at extremely competitive rates the traditional Karagozian skills of haggling, nurtured through the centuries in countless bazaars, the army is very selective on the equipment it procures as is the navy and many are the salesmen that have been given short shrift whilst attempting to peddle inferior merchandise. The downside of this active equipment procurement policy is that the variety of material in use is large with all the associated problems of, for example, ammunition supply. Under the guidance of predominately German advisers, strenuous efforts have been made to standardise equipment where possible. For the most part this has been achieved by ensuring that the three main divisions of the army – the Guards Army (Muhafiz Ordu), the Regular Army (Duzenli Ordu) and the reservists or Part Time Army (Yari Zamali Ordu) are uniformly equipped as far as possible. The best equipment tends to be concentrated in the Guards Army whilst the reservists usually have to make do with the oldest and most random selection of kit.

For the most part the Zaragozian Army (Zaragoz Ordu) is organised along similar lines to that of Balkrunia but with the constituent units when at full strength usually some twenty five percent smaller than the Balkrunian equivalent. Higher level formations, divisions and corps, are similar in content to that of Balkrunia i.e. three brigades, but never with more than a single brigade of reservists. On the subject of the reservists it should be emphasised that these formations may be poorly equipped in comparison with the rest of the army but they are by no means inferior in respect of fighting ability. The Guards Army exists at roughly corps strength and only takes the field under a full mobilisation. A single mixed brigade of Guard infantry, cavalry and artillery is permanently deployed in Istantinople as a ceremonial escort for the Sultan although the cynics have observed that their presence in the capital may be to ensure the Sultan’s continued good behaviour!

At the present time the Karagozian Empire stands very much at a crossroads in terms of its national identity. The days when the Empire ruled supreme across much of the Middle Sea have long gone but the importance of her geographical position ensures that she will continue to be courted by a succession of suitors. She will have to negotiate her way carefully through many diplomatic machinations and be mindful of her reduced position on the world stage. That she will be capable of achieving this there is no doubt; however, her relationship with her Balkrunian neighbours is a very delicate one and requires extremely careful handling. The peace that exists at present suits both sides as each party is endeavouring to stabilise their respective economies and build up their standing within the larger international community and so the prospect of any military action in the short term is remote. There is no doubt though that the Berne Treaty was unsatisfactory to both sides and so the appropriate remedial action will not be long deferred. The situation of the so called ‘Eastern Question’ is one that the international community is watching, albeit uneasily.

Pirates of the Meandering Sea

Invasion barges assemble on the Alcovian side of the Borka during preparation for the counter-offensive following the invasion of 1854.

The border between eastern Alcovia and western Iqenistan is a 500 mile stretch of the river Borka. Snaking its way out of the Capaccian Mountains the stretch where the two neighboring nations meet is known to Alcovians as the "Meandering Sea", a name derived from the wide, slow-moving and twisting waters of the Borka. It is along this watery span that Alcovia's flotilla of river boats, gunboats and monitors patrols, keeping a vigil against invasion from the east.

An early Alcovian river monitored, based off of American Civil War designs.
Since the mid-nineteenth century, Alcovia has endeavored to maintain their presence on these waters, following the invasions of 1832 and 1854 when large sections of eastern Alcovia were seized and occupied by Iqenistani troops. Since their repulsion and the reclamation of those territories, a steady program of acquisition and production of vessels suitable for river patrol and fresh water naval bombardment has been a major priority. Beginning with the purchase and importation of foreign vessels, and later by the construction of native vessels, often copied or under license from foreign shipyards, Alcovia now boasts a sizable river flotilla of some 150 vessels ranging in size and type from small coal-fueled patrol steamers to fully armored gunboats boasting multiple turrets.

Alcovian customs and border patrol vessel. This vessel is a conversion of a civilian river craft carrying light guns and a contingent of ASA border marines. Known affectionately by their crews as "Pirate Brigs".
Service in the Apa Sirviciul Alcovia, is considered a service for cutthroats and desperate men. Operating far from the capital and with a great degree of autonomy, the sailors of this branch of Alcovian service are known for their brash, often loose adherence to the law. They are also renowned for a certain roguish nature and lack of couth that more “civilized” circles often find distasteful. For these reasons, ASA servicemen spend little time in central or western Alcovia and usually hail from the rougher eastern towns and villages who have a history of river piracy, wrecking and smuggling. In fact, many Alcovian sailors aren’t even from Alcovia at all, having been either pressed or recruited into service from foreign nations or from foreign vessels plying the Borka.

These foreign servicemen are most often confined to the ASA special border marines. Specializing in trans-riverine operations, hit and run and interdiction, these men are often sent on strike missions against targets across the river and into Iqenistani territory. These men are hard, often veterans or deserters from other country’s armed forces who pride themselves on their craftiness, skill in combat and the diehard attitudes. Their most famous mission to date was the storming of the river town of Kuzbhani in 1916 at the southern tip of the Iqenistani/Alcovian border where some 150 border marines rescued Countess Natavya Kishinug, daughter of king Ilya’s brother Ukko.

The princess had been abducted as a political prisoner when her private yacht was forced to dock in Kuzbhani after experiencing engine troubles on its return from the Black Sea. The military garrison commander of Kuzbhani, Rikan Alabash, had seized her from the residence of the city’s mayor Ulmor Fedaha. Alabash had hoped to use her as a bargaining chip in his own military and political agendas. When the border marines were through with their mission, however, Alabash was slain and the garrison of Kuzbhani devastated.

In the aftermath of this brief conflict, Fedaha insisted that Iqenistan not use this as an excuse for war by his people in a very public display of regret at the actions of his countryman, Alabash. In this operation, only three border marines were killed, all of their bodies returned to Alcovia where they were entombed as national heroes and the reputation of the border marines was reaffirmed and their national character established as the go-to men for dirty jobs.

A modern Alcovian "Bortha" class river monitor sporting two 15cm guns in a forwar turret. Six of these vessels built between the years of 1915 and 1925.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Duchy of Tradgardland Navy Part 1

In 1904 the Duchy of Tradgardland Navy was fortunate to purchase two costal defence vessels from Russia. They were renamed "The Duke Karl Frederick" and the "Von Bergman" and set to work defending the duchy from all nations which would threaten her...

Friday, 16 April 2010

Mountain warfare

High in the Alps the sun is shining on a Spring afternoon. The Army Red/White heavy machinegun team waits,ever vigilant,upon the border...

Schweiz or Army Red/White

Let me welcome you to my other imagination project - which is created to be used primarily with 54mm figures al fresco using Funnylittlewars rules. I am collecting a force circa 1914 and one for the 1930's too. My interest began on Swiss holidays as a boy and exposure to Elastolin figures especially the older compostion ones...

Thursday, 15 April 2010

A Pain in the Bolkans 3

A Pain in the Bolkans 3

Dateline: St Pode de Vache
By our Special Reporter.

No sooner was King Mikhailus making threats against the Brobdingnag Union on the wireless earlier this month, before the Royal War Ministry announced a series of major military exercises in the southern county of Borta, just adjacent to the Union border.

A Ministry press release stated that "The Royal Army and Air Corps are determined to defend the Kingdom's borders from any and all external threats. This ongoing series of exercises will show the world that Ainamor will not knuckle under to any enemy."

Official photographs released by the Ministry show Ainamorian forces on Manoeuvres, including recently acquired modern aircraft.

After issuing a statement condemning the exercises as "blatant warmongering directed at Brobdingnag", the Union Ambassador to St. Pode de Vache has been recalled for "consultations".

In a separate announcement from the Latviestonakian Ministry of Truth, the Republic added its' condemnation of Ainamor's actions stating that "Knakians everywhere are justly concerned that Ainamor's ambitions are not limited to internal matters." The Republican armed forces have been put on alert and limited numbers of reservists have been called up.

Inspiring figures...

I am probably "teaching my grandmother to suck eggs" but having browsed the Tiger Miniatures website five minutes ago I was struck by the potentiality for you all with Eastern imaginations. The 28mm figures look great - well worth a look!

Monday, 12 April 2010

War in the Bolkans?

Dateline: Boughre.
By our Special Reporter

Tensions rose in the Bolkans today, as here in Boughre, capital of Ainamor, King Mikhaelus made inflammatory remarks about the neighbouring Union of Brobdingnagia in his weekly wireless broadcast to the nation.

Cut off from the sea by her neighbours, Ainamor has been forced for many years to rely on the Union's rivers and railways for both exports and imports. However, the Union is industrially and financially weak and her transport infrastructure reflects this. Ainamor has long pressed the Union to sell to her control of the river and rail transport systems, promising that under the kingdom's care the trains would run on time. The Union has so far resisted but the King in his speech demanded that this dispute be resolved once and for all.

"The Brobs may be content to wallow in their sloth and lassitude", the King stated, "but the Kingdom of Ainamor is no decadent oriental slum and demands the right to advancement for our citizens. The Union and it's deliberate policy of frustrating Ainamor's desire to seek her rightful place in the world will not be allowed to continue. We are a peaceful people but enough is enough!"

Brobdingnagia has lodged a formal complaint with the League of Nations about the bellicose nature of the King's speech and has claimed that Ainamor is mobilising her reserves in a clear threat of war.

For a fuller background to the situation in the Southern Bolkans, please read our Sports and Leisure Supplement:

Balkrunia - Gateway to the East: Part 4

The various forces making up the Balkrunian army, whilst diverse in respect of ethnic origin and local tradition, all maintain certain uniform traits. The most significant of these is the actual organisation of the constituent battalions, batteries and regiments and also, to a lesser extent, the higher formations – the brigades, divisions and corps. The credit for this regularity of organisation should be given to the elected Commander in Chief of the Balkrunian Army, General Markov Zerbeast. At his insistence (and in the face of much provincial opposition) the Duma was able to implement the Army Reform Dictate of 1908 which regularised the organisation of all military and paramilitary formations within the empire. Crucially though, the question of manpower within each formation has been left to the individual provinces.

The infantry is organised into four company battalions with company strength varying from around two hundred and fifty to around one hundred and fifty officers and other ranks. Cavalry regiments tend to be slightly smaller with a maximum strength of around eight hundred officers and men; again in four squadrons. It is very unusual but not unknown for cavalry regiments to operate as a whole entity in the field. Customarily they are attached at squadron level to the infantry battalions for reconnaissance duties. Field artillery and machine guns are organised into companies of six pieces and are usually divided amongst the infantry battalions at the rate of two pieces per battalion. It comes as no surprise then that a Balkrunian infantry brigade consists of three battalions with an attached cavalry regiment, an artillery battery and a machine company of six weapons divided amongst the infantry units.

Three such brigades form a division and as a rule one or two of the brigades consists of provincial troops. The assignment of provincial troops within a division is usually decided upon at mobilisation and the resultant organisation stays in place for the duration of hostilities. A division of three brigades is further strengthened by an additional artillery battery of heavier weapons and a Guards Rifle Battalion. The Balkrunian Guard consists of the equivalent of an infantry division i.e. nine battalions of infantry and these are always attached to the infantry divisions during time of war. Their battalions are organised in the same way as the line troops with the only difference being that a company from each battalion (nine companies in total) is assigned guard duties and do not as a result take the field. The reduced strength of the field battalions is partially offset by each Guard battalion having its own machine gun platoon so their firepower is roughly comparable. There also exists three Guard cavalry regiments; one of which is used for escort and ceremonial duties whilst the other two are in the field. Unusually for Balkrunian mounted troops these units are always deployed together and are never divided amongst the regular divisions.

A Balkrunian corps sized formation contains from two to four divisions and like the divisions are usually organised upon mobilisation. Taking this a step further, a Balkrunian army group consists of two to four corps although it is rare for this level of formation to be used. The most common formation is undoubtedly the corps and this tends to be as high as most Balkrunian commanders aspire to. The geography of the region by and large also places limits on the size and sustainability of a formation as Balkrunian logistical arrangements are usually fairly basic. The empire as a whole does not have the necessary infrastructure to support large modern armies with the attendant transport needs etc. The road and rail network is adequate for normal usage but without the capacity for use in wartime. Where possible use is made of water transport and whilst this is efficient it too suffers from limitations of capacity.

The net effect of this logistical deficiency is to restrict prolonged military operations by large formations which is why most Balkrunian ‘armies’ tend to be small by comparison with their usual enemies. Smaller forces are easier to supply and sustain in the field and enjoy greater tactical flexibility at the expense of staying power and durability. Most Balkrunian commanders accept this and so their offensives tend to be well prepared and pushed on with extreme prejudice until literally the last round and the troops can move no further. This is where the provincial troops come into their own as they are well used to operating on a logistic shoestring so to speak. Speed and resolute daring is the watchword of these hardy troops and this is probably just as well as the all important logistical tail will invariably be overwhelmed within a couple of days of the start of an offensive. Karagozian commanders have learned to exploit this to an extent and will usually, if possible, allow a Balkrunian attack to develop and expend itself prior to counter attacking. Balkrunian offensives tend to be very ‘stop and start’ and this is an area than they are keen to improve upon. However, expenditure on the less glamorous but equally essential ‘sinews of war’ in the shape of improved road and rail link and a properly constituted army supply service is very hard to obtain from the Duma who prefer to devote monies to weapons and equipment.

Despite this shortcoming Balkrunian armies are very dangerous when on the attack and resolute when on the defensive and will expend lavish amounts of ammunition (and manpower) to achieve a specific aim. The problem has always been how to exploit a successful offensive and in this the Balkrunian high command are not alone. Recently, Balkrunia has experimented with armoured units following the recent acquisition of a substantial number of surplus French Renault FT 17 tanks. The version in use is the gun armed variant and so trials have been undertaken using infantry or cavalry to support, and in turn be supported by these machines. A small number of Schneider vehicles have also been acquired and expectations are high that these vehicles will represent a major advance in Balkrunian military capability – principally when used to exploit an attack. The high command is also keen to incorporate aerial reconnaissance to identify weak points in the enemy positions so the infiltration units of provincials can move as far as possible without hindrance, bypassing enemy strong points so the regular troops can contain these at their convenience.

The major debate within both the Duma and Balkrunian high command is whether or not these new armoured formations should be added to the existing divisions or kept back to form an army level reserve for maximum impact. Either way, these high level deliberations have caused much consternation and dismay in neighbouring Karagoz and will in all probability persuade the Sultan and his military advisers that similar steps need to be taken within his own armies. Balkrunia has lit the powder trail; it remains to be seen whether it will burn to its logical outcome or regional prudence will extinguish the flame.

The picture above shows Gen. Markov Zerbeast and his staff observing the annual manoeuvres of 1910.


With Spring just around the corner (and the Landstorme cleaning their rifles for the forthcoming season of shooting matches and local musters) the Livgaard ter Fod or Ducal Footguards can be seen marching outside the Ducal Palace. Soon they will discard the overcoats of Winter and parade in their Summer Uniforms.

Future Heroes of Alcovia

Urban youngsters throughout Alcovia participate in state sponsored and supervised clubs that teach them the basics of combat and warfare. Diguised as scouting and club activities, the activities included in these groups instruct the children and youth of urban Alcovians in such elementary military staples as small unit tactics, field craft, as well as marksmanship in the various city rifle competitions.

As Alcovia has not the means for a true military academy, these boys clubs are the closest that young boys will ever get to an academic military education. Any Alcovian aristocrat that wishes a true academy education must travel abroad. In fact most of the Alcovian nobility have received their military educations in foreign lands, a practrice that Alcovian nobility sees as akin to the ancient practices of fostering - creating bonds with other nations through its children.

Right: Rubel Yugolev seen leading his mean in a march to defend Alcovia's eastern borders from Iqenistani raiders.

Still, the basic education in the art of war instilled in Alcovian children and youths in these clubs is much more than some other nations have to offer and the skills learned there can make the difference between being just another poor conscript and the leader of such men. Many Alcovian lietenants are conscripts that have a history in these organizations. At least one national hero, Rubel Yugolev, was a member of the renowned Kuslob Flag and Rifle Team.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Balkrunia - Gateway to the East: Part 3

Of the provinces that make up the so called 'Eternal Empire'; Balkrunia is by far the largest and as a result controls a substantial part of the Duma - the collective assembly that dictates overall policy in the region. There are three other significantly sized provinces - Serotia, Grebania and Albenegro - and a host of smaller principalities; each of which are usually under the nominal suzerainty of one of the four major factions. The Duma has representatives from each province and the military obligation of a province is in direct proportion to the number of representatives sitting on the high council.

The Balkrunian General Staff also contains members from each province to ensure that provincial interests are represented when planning military operations. This can be a disadvantage as decisions tend to be arrived at only after much debate (often quite heated and some staff conferences have been known to come to blows) which means that numerous military operations have been compromised simply by the apparent lack of action by the forces in question. This trait is usually absent when Balkrunia is under attack as the natural tendency of the region's inhabitants to unite against a common threat usually holds sway. Only during the usually ill-fated attempts to expand into the territory of the Karagozian Sultans does this internal squabbling appear to the detriment of military operations.

The Balkrunian Navy is largely free from the command difficulties that beset the army simply because it is a purely Balkrunian force. The only coastline the empire possesses belongs to Balkrunia herself and her navy, whilst small, is very efficient in its role of coast defence and support for the army. It has in recent years taken on a much more aggressive stance and the acquisition of a number of new and powerful vessels has been seen by many observers as a direct challenge to the traditional naval superiority of the Karagozian Empire.

The Balkrunian Air Force is a rather grandiose title for a formation that as yet does not even formally exist. A number of reconaissance machines are operated at corps level by the army and the navy has made use of floatplanes and dirigibles for similar purposes. The Duma recently sanctioned the acquisition of a number of single seat fighter planes to be used as required, again at corps level, primarily as escort and protection for the reconnaisance flights. Following the advice of the noted aerial theorist Lord Brabazon-Short of Eastchurch, the aircraft of choice was to be the Bristol Fighter and so a modest order has been placed to acquire a squadron of 12 machines with 2 spares.

Balkrunia is at the present time very active in the secondhand war material market and her staunch neutrality during the recent Great War has ensured that her economy has avoided the worst effects of the global financial trauma. With many nations attempting to reduce defence expenditure as quickly as possible since hostilities were ended, the expectation is that much war material will be available at a greatly reduced price. This is the hope of the cash rich but extremely frugal Duma!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Training at the Lauranian Military Academy

Besides learning Mathematics, Military Administration, Military History, Basic Field Engineering, Basic Science, and Drill, the young cadets at the Lauranian Military Academy play games. And not just team games like Rugby and Polo, both of which teach teamwork, aggression, and fair play; they play 'Kriegsspiel' or 'war games'. These teach them how to command large bodies of troops, and help prepare them for promotion to higher rank.

Currently the Academy uses a ‘war game’ devised by Mr Joseph Morschauser. A picture of one such game can be seen below.

The two sides are called Red and Black (they are never given real names just in case it might offend another country) and they fight their imaginary wars over a board that is divided up into areas called hexagons. The playing pieces are made of lead and painted in such a way as to make them look like tiny men. They are in fact 1.5cm high, and all the other military equipment is made to the same scale.
Extract from an article in The Lauranian Courier

Friday, 9 April 2010

Tradgardland Landstorme...

The backbone of the Duchy of Tradgardland Army are the "Landstorme" or local militia. The Dukes of Tradgardland have used this system for centuries and it was in it's heyday during the 18th century, when the borders of the Duchy were secured against the Imperium by these part time soldiers...

A variety of uniforms (or non uniforms so to speak) are worn as can be seen by the pictures. The men are organised in their own locality and serve with brothers,neighbours and friends. In accordance with tradition, and the agricultural calender and it's needs ,the Landstorme meet regularly to train,practice marksmanship (the Duchy is littered with rifle shooting clubs) and compete in a variety of keenly fought local competitions. Thus a high standard of accuracy with the rifle is maintained.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Early Armor in Alcovia

The late Alcovian King Ilya Chubakov (1847-1920) and his heirs Ilya II, Ukko and Ullo were known for their fondness for armored vehicles. Ever since Ilya I saw their birth in Great War it had become his dream to one day hear the rumble and rattle of armored might crawling across Alcovia towards her enemies. Unfortunately, financial strife and a low technological base hampered Ilya's dreams beyond a few surplus German tanks, but it was a dream that burned on in his sons Ukko and Ullo.

In 1922, Prince Ukko, working with a conglomerate of Alcovian and Elistonian businessmen and a number of foreign investors, gambled on an enterprise to acquire several copies of foreign tanks for study by Alcovian engineers. The intent was to determine what designs were within the realm of possibility for the small nation both economically and technologically. If designs could be found that were within Alcovia's means, Ukku intended to begin production, either licensed or illegally, for the purposes of both national defense and export.

After considering several designs, Ukko's agents settled upon the now quite common FT-17 as a standard tank for use by the Alcovian military. The FT-17 was a widely used tank and Ukko figured that it would be nearly impossible for Alcovia to be cut off from supplies of parts and new vehicles until it was able to produce on its own. FT-17s were imported from a number of sources including France and Poland and were designated the TA22 for Tankovya Alcovia, Model 1922. In total, 35 of these tanks were initially imported.

By 1924, Alcovia had two factories manufacturing TA22s in both their original and the new TA22/24 which was a new version with more horsepower. In total, 54 TA22s and 32 TA22/24 tanks were built before the Royal Armories developed newer vehicles to phase out the FT-17 derived tanks. TA22s were never completely abandoned and continued in service into the 1940s in reserve roles.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Bread Riot

Right: Artist's rendition of peasants storming a bakery during the Bread Riots.

In 1916, Alcovian common folk in the cities and townships rose up in angry protest against the discovered practice of mixing flower with sawdust and other fillers such as ground chaff and even chalk. This recent practice had been the handywork of bakers who themselves had been victimized by corrupt government grain suppliers who demanded steep kickbacks for the grain they provided.

After three months of on and off again protests and riots, government officials were forced to take action and rooted out at least a dozen corrupt officers from the Department of Agricultural Management. The DAM officers were later found to have amassed a considerable sum of money which, due to the illicit manner in which it was collected, had been shielded from taxation. This elevated their crimes to that of a crime against the state and they were summarily tried and hanged for their "treason".

In the following months the government dispatched bread trucks throughout the country delivery complimentary loaves of bread to townships and within the major cities. Civil order was restored but only after hundreds were killed in the unrest. The Bread Riots, as these events became known, marked a major change in government policies concerning the control of national resources. It should also be noted that rural Alcovia was relatively untouched by these events as local access to quality grain and other agricultural goods left them uneffected by the corruption of the DAM officers.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Balkrunia - Gateway to the East: Part 2

The Balkrunian contingent of the army of the 'Eternal Empire' is by far the largest and is certainly the most organised and best equipped. It is unique amongst the myriad forces comprising the army in that the primary organisation and training is based heavily upon the German model whilst the remaining provincial forces tend to favour a more traditional Slavic approach. Balkrunia herself has field army backed up by her own reserve formations - the whole being mobilised at the outbreak of hostilities. There also exists a brigade sized Guards formation which is traditionally parcelled out amongst the army formations to provide additional support where needed. Whilst the native Balkrunian forces are ordered and disciplined the remaining provincial contingents tend to be far more relaxed about military etiquette and protocol but are formidable fighters all the same. The various provincial forces, whilst each jealously preserving their traditions and regional heritage, all share a common trait and that is an almost mystical reverence for the use of cold steel.

The combination of fighting styles within a typical Balkrunian army - the stolid and organised native Balkrunians and the ferocious and loose knit provincial militia - makes for an effective military force; albeit limited in terms of extended campaigning. The regulars can be relied upon in a normal military fashion to carry out the usual duties of their profession - providing garrisons, internal security and such like but the provincial forces tend to be far more fluid in respect of extended use. Most, if not all, tend to be involved in agriculture and whilst they are for the most part enthusiastic fighters it is usually with one eye on the crops back home. The Balkrunian campaigning season then tends to be quite short when using the provincial troops as the regulars do not have the requisite manpower to be able to operate effectively without them. there have been several attempts in the Duma to formalise the provincial militias in the interests of military efficiency but thus far without any success.

The overall effect on military operations of this unique organisation is that in the short term a typical Balkrunian force comprising both regulars and provincials is a formidable weapon. With traditional ferocity and native cunning the provincial forces are ideal shock troops; skilled at close combat and infiltration tactics for which their mobility and light equipment is ideally suited. The regulars in turn provide the support and the firepower and so are used to consolidate or exploit any opportunity presented by the actions of the marauding provincial troops.

In the next part of this short series of articles I will describe in greater detail the organisation of the Balkrunian Imperial forces - both the regulars and the provincial contingents; together with the difficulties currently being faced in respect of the acquisition and assimilation of new equipment and technology.

Two Wheels best... part 2

Eli Arndt wanted to see this so here goes...

Two Wheels best...

The Duchy of Tradgardland prides herself upon mobility and modernity albeit touched with the tradition of years gone by. Prior to The Great War, the Ducal forces were reorganized with particular reference to tactical doctrines pertaining to bicycle mounted infantry. This served them well and is reflected in the army of the 1930's.

The current Duke is as "at home " upon a bicycle as he is upon his cavalry mount. Motorcycles too feature heavily as a means of reconnaissance as well as moving troops quickly and efficiently...

Monday, 5 April 2010

Balkrunia - Gateway to the East

The Balkrunian Empire (so called merely because many of the constituent provinces acknowledge the nominal overlordship of Balkrunia when faced with an external threat - the whole conglomerate is often called 'The Eternal Empire') can best be described as an Eastern European version of the Swiss Republic but without the pragmatic unity of the Helvetic version. To be honest, the 'Empire' exists only in the loosest sense - usually when threatened by external forces - but by common accord the various provinces are mutually supportive, albeit grudgingly, as and when the need arises. Trade and defence tend to be the main areas of cooperation and if either of these are compromised then the natural warlike ardour of the region tends to come to the fore. Indeed, the tradition of infighting is a long and honourable one and many are the folk tales that can be told to the interested traveller over a glass of 'Slugapitz' whilst listening to the mournful lamentation of a bouzouki playing troubadour. The entire region is noted for its musical inclination and whilst local variations exist the songs and tunes are surprisingly similar - in fact, in many cases all that happens is that one area will use the same tune as another but will change the words to suit!

Balkrunia itself is the largest of the myriad provinces that make up the region and so is acknowledged as the main power and indeed, the various smaller provinces look to her for leadership and guidance, as well as her military and naval strength. As an aside, whilst the main bulk of the provinces are usually unconcerned about their immediate neighbours problems (and this apparent unconcern usually ranges from sullen indifference to outright hostility) all are required by common accord to supply not only representatives on the Balkrunian council - the Duma - but also a contingent to the Empires military forces. It is this military cooperative that is both the Balkrunian Empires strength and weakness. Whilst Balkrunia herself usually fields the main bulk of the regular forces including the navy (this is not surprising as she is the only member of the Empire with a coastline!) the provinces provide a very varied level of support. The provinces rely almost exclusively on militia style units which may vary in size, training, uniforms and equipment but are all good fighters - years of raiding and border skirmishes have seen to that.

The Duma is content to allow the provincial troops to fight pretty much in their own way as most attempts to regularise them have usually met with open revolt by the troops in question. In terms of numbers though, this source of troops accounts for nearly half the total strength of a Balkrunian Army so cannot be easily discounted. Provincial troops retain their own officers and are usually deployed with an equivalent Balkrunian formation thereby combining the best of the old with the new. Balkrunian forces tend to be modern and forward thinking in their outlook; ready and willing to embrace new ideas and technology as far as the imperial purse will permit. The provinces tend to be well equipped as a rule but usually a generation behind and always lighter than their Balkrunian comrades.

At the time of writing the armed forces of the Balkrunian Empire are attempting to assimilate much in the way of Great War surplus equipment - vehicles, aircraft and new warships - and several foreign military and naval advisers have been observed in the capital.

More to follow..................

Alcovia Welcomes You

Greetings from the landlocked, modest nation of Alcovia. Small in size but packed with people willing (or not so) to give their bodies, lives, and souls for the greater good of their beloved Prince Ullo. Alcovia is known for its brooding citizens, its rabble-rousing poets and the singing horsemen of it's eastern steppes known as the Kuzaks.

I am basing Alcovia after no particular nation but a bit of a hodgepodge of this and that, cobbled together for the feel I want. There will be outdated cavalry, rattletrap armor, even a few planes of I'm lucky. I am still trying to figure out a specific concept for uniforms, though I am leaning toward Romanian for infantry and late 19th/early 20th century Russian for cavalry. Kuzaks will be directly based on Cossacks. The way I see it, Alcovia sits landlocked in Eastern Europe, bordering my mountainous other imag-nation of Elistonia on the west and the vaguely Ottoman imagi-nation of my friend, Iqenistan.

I'll be playing in 15mm to begin with, shifting figs originally pruchased for Chinese Warlord forces into service for these new imagi-nations.


Sunday, 4 April 2010


A regular visitor to the Duchy of Tradgardland was J F C Fuller . He came to gain access to the Duke's collection of ancient manuscripts and books- which were famed across Europe. The two men became good friends and ideas were frequently debated until the small hours of the morning. Theology, Arcane Lore and myriad subjects were tossed around in an atmosphere filled with the heady aroma of pipe smoke...

Fuller contributed to the Duchy by encouraging the Duke to invest in tanks against the advice of his military advisers . This would aid the Duchy in the coming conflict about to engulf Europe..."

An excerpt from Patrick Leigh Fermor's "To Tradgardland and beyond." published by John Murray 1978

Saturday, 3 April 2010

1930's Travel Posters...

If any of you chaps are free it is not too late to jump aboard the weekly ferry to Tradgardstadt. It sails shortly from Newcastle Docks and can be recognised by its dilapidated state, friendly crew and rose coloured ensign...

All are welcome in the Duchy to sample a little of the delights available there as Spring begins and Easter is celebrated with rites familiar in the the South yet rarely seen in Northern Europe...

Friday, 2 April 2010

Aviation News: More information about the Rippov-1 released.

The following side and plan views of the new Rippov-1 fighter were released today.

Side view of the Rippov-1 fighter.
Plan view of the Rippov-1 fighter.
Technical details:
  • Span: 26ft (7.77m)
  • Length: 15ft (4.60m)
  • Height: 7ft (2.13m)
  • Wing Area: 75ft² (6.97m²)
  • Empty Weight: 1,400lbs (635.04kg)
  • Gross Weight: 2,280lbs (1034.21kg)
  • Maximum Speed: 270mph (434.43km/h)
  • Cruising Speed: 230mph (370.07km/h)
  • Range: 1,000 miles (1609.00km)
  • Armament: 2 x 7.62mm Machine Guns