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German East Africa

German East Africa

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Project Blog by blipvertus Cult of Games Member

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About the Project

Let’s get obscure! Here I explore gaming in one of the lesser well known theaters of WW1.

This Project is Active

Boat Pt 1

Tutoring 2
Skill 2
Idea 2
1 Comment
Reference photo of the African Queen as she appeared in the movie. Note the top around her hull. I need to figure out a way to replicate that. Reference photo of the African Queen as she appeared in the movie. Note the top around her hull. I need to figure out a way to replicate that.
Even after sanding, the hull is still pretty rough. Even after sanding, the hull is still pretty rough.
The interior is fairly rough as well. It’s going to take a lot of patience to get things in order. The interior is fairly rough as well. It’s going to take a lot of patience to get things in order.
The metal pieces have not been glued in yet. This just shows their approximate placement. Even they will require extensive filing just to sit level. The metal pieces have not been glued in yet. This just shows their approximate placement. Even they will require extensive filing just to sit level.

Battles, Books and Bogart

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
1 Comment

At the end of 1915 up to July of 1916 there were several naval battles between the  British and German navies on the waters of Lake Tanganyika. One rather eccentric British naval officer took two small gun boats from South Africa and carried them overland and through the jungle to reassemble them on Lake Tanganykia. The series of battles served as the basis of a book written by CS Forester

Forester wrote a number of novels  about naval battles that later became movies. Several featured his most well known character, Horatio Hornblower. One of his lesser well known books, The Good Sheppard, became the movie Greyhound starring Tom Hanks.

But the subject of today’s entry was his novel, The African Queen.

The basis of the movie. First published in 1935. The basis of the movie. First published in 1935.

In 1951, director John Houston decided to turn the book into a movie and film it on location. While scouting locations he came across the Steam Launch (S/L) Livingstone. He renamed it The African Queen and it was one of two boats used in the film. S/L Livingstone was built in 1912 and served well the British East Africa Railway.   It was still active until the late 1960s. It eventually found its way to the US and remains afloat as a tourist attraction in Florida. You can read mor about her here:

http://africanqueenflkeys.com/history.html

Movie posterMovie poster
The boat as she appears in the movie. The boat as she appears in the movie.
This is the model from Brigade Games. This is the model from Brigade Games.
This is the model I received. It’s rough and is going to need a lot of cleanup. This is the model I received. It’s rough and is going to need a lot of cleanup.

I plan on using the boat as an objective or terrain piece. Made of metal and resin, it’s rough and is going to need a lot of cleanup.

Battle Report Pt 3

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
No Comments
With one scientist captured the Askari try to rally to charge the American command squad next turn. Rolling double 1s on the rally didn’t help.With one scientist captured the Askari try to rally to charge the American command squad next turn. Rolling double 1s on the rally didn’t help.
The American view of the termite mound.The American view of the termite mound.
One American HMG team has advanced to hose down the German squads while one of the American squads falls back in disorder. Another squad is about to enter the building. While without fatigue, they’re down to two soldiers. The the HMG team is very  aggressive and moves up under cover of the building.One American HMG team has advanced to hose down the German squads while one of the American squads falls back in disorder. Another squad is about to enter the building. While without fatigue, they’re down to two soldiers. The the HMG team is very aggressive and moves up under cover of the building.
Not pictured but earlier, an American squad charged the Askari squad and forced it out of the jungle. The Schutztruppe squad advanced and shot the American squad off the board. It then weathered several rounds of shooting taking casualties but little fatigue. Not pictured but earlier, an American squad charged the Askari squad and forced it out of the jungle. The Schutztruppe squad advanced and shot the American squad off the board. It then weathered several rounds of shooting taking casualties but little fatigue.
I have no idea why this is upside down. I deleted it and reloaded it twice. In any event; Another view of the advancing American squad about to enter the building.I have no idea why this is upside down. I deleted it and reloaded it twice. In any event; Another view of the advancing American squad about to enter the building.

With two of the three scientists in German hands, the quinine formula is obtained, German victory. Heia Safari!

Battle Report Pt 2 -

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
No Comments

The three objectives are the scientist figures.  One each in the building, the termite mound and the jungle. The building follows the standard rules for buildings. The termite mound counts as hard cover and the jungle as soft cover.

An Askari squad runs towards the building while the Naval squad moves through the palm trees and lays down suppressive fire.An Askari squad runs towards the building while the Naval squad moves through the palm trees and lays down suppressive fire.
The sniper lends a few shots and manages to add fatigue to the advancing Americans. Meanwhile an Askari squad legs it to the termite mound.The sniper lends a few shots and manages to add fatigue to the advancing Americans. Meanwhile an Askari squad legs it to the termite mound.
The Askari squad enters the termite mounds.The Askari squad enters the termite mounds.
Accurate American fire has caused casualties and forced the Askari squad back out of the jungle leaving them dangerously exposed.Accurate American fire has caused casualties and forced the Askari squad back out of the jungle leaving them dangerously exposed.
The lone Schutztruppe squad moves up and lends some much needed firepower to the affair. Those captured British light machine guns definitely help.The lone Schutztruppe squad moves up and lends some much needed firepower to the affair. Those captured British light machine guns definitely help.
The Americans make a headlining advance to the building and are about to capture one of the scientists.The Americans make a headlining advance to the building and are about to capture one of the scientists.
The American commander leaves cover and advanced toward the center.The American commander leaves cover and advanced toward the center.
The Askari move rapidly toward the building keeping it between themselves and the Americans trusting that the other squads will keep up the fire on the approaching Americans.The Askari move rapidly toward the building keeping it between themselves and the Americans trusting that the other squads will keep up the fire on the approaching Americans.

Battle Report Pt 1 - Setup and opening moves

Tutoring 2
Skill 3
Idea 2
No Comments

Nathan B Ortega and I played a 200 point game of Blood & Valor Firelock Games US vs German East African. The scenario was The Cure, basically a re-skinned version of the Demolition mission. Instead of destroying an objective, you were interrogating scientists for the formula to make quinine, the anti-malaria drug.

I took 3 large Askari squads, a single Schutztruppe squad with an LMG, a small Naval Landing party also with an LMG and one MG team and a sniper. My commander was a Hauptmann (Captain equivalent).

The Americans took 2 MG teams, one small regular squad with grenades and three large squads with LMGs and a Major for the command squad.

The German left flank uses the palm trees and the building as cover to maneuver closer to one of the objectives.The German left flank uses the palm trees and the building as cover to maneuver closer to one of the objectives.
The German right flank uses the jungle as cover to approach another objective. The commander and HMG team are in the center ready to lend support on either flank.The German right flank uses the jungle as cover to approach another objective. The commander and HMG team are in the center ready to lend support on either flank.
How did these Doughboys wind up in Africa?  Who knows but the Kaiser had it coming!How did these Doughboys wind up in Africa? Who knows but the Kaiser had it coming!
The American commander also sets up in the centerThe American commander also sets up in the center
The Americans strongly reinforced the right flank with both HMG teams and two squads.The Americans strongly reinforced the right flank with both HMG teams and two squads.

Buildings Pt 4

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
No Comments
I didn’t particularly like the roof as painted. But while taking a look at the Sarissa website I found downloadable roof PDFs to print out. I made them oversized and them glued them down with PVA glue. I didn’t particularly like the roof as painted. But while taking a look at the Sarissa website I found downloadable roof PDFs to print out. I made them oversized and them glued them down with PVA glue.
I used a small pair of scissors to trim down the paper then used a metal file to get it flush to the roof. I used a small pair of scissors to trim down the paper then used a metal file to get it flush to the roof.
I used a wooden dowel cut to size and then painted it to match the framing. I then glued it to the rooftop to cover up the join lines of the paper and to form the roof peak. I used a wooden dowel cut to size and then painted it to match the framing. I then glued it to the rooftop to cover up the join lines of the paper and to form the roof peak.

And here’s a few shots of everything together.

Buildings Pt 3

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
No Comments
I decided the walls looked a little too pristine so I gave them a wash with Army Painter Soft Tone. I decided the walls looked a little too pristine so I gave them a wash with Army Painter Soft Tone.
Glued the framing in place starting with the front porch rail and around the building. Glued the framing in place starting with the front porch rail and around the building.
The steps are a separate assembly so I’ll finish entirely before gluing in place. Here it still needs some drybrush of the base and the steps. Probably add some flower tufts as well. The steps are a separate assembly so I’ll finish entirely before gluing in place. Here it still needs some drybrush of the base and the steps. Probably add some flower tufts as well.

Buildings Pt 2

Tutoring 4
Skill 4
Idea 4
No Comments
I did a second coat of Burnt Umber then once dry, I did a light drybrush of Skleton Bone. I did a second coat of Burnt Umber then once dry, I did a light drybrush of Skleton Bone.
I painted the floor with Oak Brown then did a drybrush of Leather Brown and then a lighter drybrush of Skeleton Bone. I painted the floor with Oak Brown then did a drybrush of Leather Brown and then a lighter drybrush of Skeleton Bone.
I glued the support pieces onto the base and realized at this point the tabs would show through the floor slots so I had to quickly paint up the gray tabs the same color as the floor. In this case, Oak Brown. I glued the support pieces onto the base and realized at this point the tabs would show through the floor slots so I had to quickly paint up the gray tabs the same color as the floor. In this case, Oak Brown.
I glued a few tufts near the edges of the bases and then laid some glue on the supports in preparation for the floor. I glued a few tufts near the edges of the bases and then laid some glue on the supports in preparation for the floor.
With the floor now in place I started on the house walls. I used the rubber bands to hold the walls tight while the glue dried. With the floor now in place I started on the house walls. I used the rubber bands to hold the walls tight while the glue dried.

Building some buildings

Tutoring 4
Skill 4
Idea 4
No Comments

I picked up an MDF kit from Sarissa Precision from their Far East range. Looks like it should be suitable as a generic jungle dwelling. I’m honestly not sure exactly how to go about this but we’ll see what happens.

This is the base that the rest of the building gets built up from. I covered it in PVA and sand. Once dry, I used some grey primer on it. This is the base that the rest of the building gets built up from. I covered it in PVA and sand. Once dry, I used some grey primer on it.
Painting the base prior to assembly. Burnt umber acrylic just like the miniature bases. Light drybrush of Skeleton Bone. Virtually all of this will be covered by the building itself. Painting the base prior to assembly. Burnt umber acrylic just like the miniature bases. Light drybrush of Skeleton Bone. Virtually all of this will be covered by the building itself.
First coat of Army Painter Oak Brown. Probably do another coat. First coat of Army Painter Oak Brown. Probably do another coat.
Frames also painted Oak Brown. Frames also painted Oak Brown.
Walls and roof painted Skeleton Bone. Walls and roof painted Skeleton Bone.

Painting

Tutoring 5
Skill 4
Idea 5
No Comments

The paint schemes are relatively straight forward. For the Schutztruppe and Askari I primed them with Army Painter Skeleton Bone. The cloth folds were carefully washed with GW Seraphim Sepia. Leather gear was Army Painter Leather Brown washed in GW Seraphim Sepia. Rifle stocks and canteens were Vallejo Mahogany Brown also washed in Seraphim Sepia. Rifle barrels and canteen caps were painted black. Bread bags were Vallejo Canvas again washed in GW Seraphim Sepia.

Schutztruppe hats and leggings were Army Painter Uniform Gray and washed in Seraphim Sepia. The hats were edged in white and the cockcades were white and red. The outer ring should be black but that detail is so small I just washed them with Seraphim Sepia.

The Askari leggings were also Uniform Gray but washed in Army Painter Blue Tone. The blue trim of the Schutztruppe was Vallejo Prussian Blue.

Buttons and buckles were Army Painter Plate Mail washed in GW Nuln Oil. Caucasian flesh was Vallejo Dark Flesh washed in GW Reikland Flesh Shade. The Askari flesh was either GW  Mournfang Brown and washed in Seraphim Sepia or Mournfang Brown then layered with Skragg Brown washed with Seraphim Sepia.

The sailors were primed white and then painted white again. Shading was difficult but ultimately I wound up using GW Apothecary White in the folds and then highlighting back to white. Collars and rank insignia were Vallejo Medium Blue. Leggings were Vallejo Canvas. All other equipment was painted the same.

Naval officers uniforms were similar to the Schutztruppe minus the blue trim and keeping the helmets white.

It’s a jungle out there

Tutoring 6
Skill 5
Idea 6
3 Comments

I wanted most of my terrain to be jungle. Relatively quick and simple, here’s how I did it.

I used Sarissa MDF bases, covered them with PVA glue and then sand. I used Sarissa MDF bases, covered them with PVA glue and then sand.
Once the PVA dried, I primed them. Any dark color will work but I had gray, so that’s what I used. Once the PVA dried, I primed them. Any dark color will work but I had gray, so that’s what I used.
I then painted them using artist acrylic Burnt Umber. I did two light coats. I then painted them using artist acrylic Burnt Umber. I did two light coats.
I then gave them a quick drybrush with Army Painter Skeleton Bone. I then gave them a quick drybrush with Army Painter Skeleton Bone.
I then used a hot glue gun to glue down the various aquarium plants, cheap plastic bamboo and hobby craft plastic floral arrangements I could find. I then used a hot glue gun to glue down the various aquarium plants, cheap plastic bamboo and hobby craft plastic floral arrangements I could find.
The bright stone bases on these plastic plants got painted over in Burnt Umber as well. The bright stone bases on these plastic plants got painted over in Burnt Umber as well.
I used PVA glue to add some lichen to conceal the attachment points and an occasional flower tuft to add some color. I used PVA glue to add some lichen to conceal the attachment points and an occasional flower tuft to add some color.
I need to do a little sanding to make the finished bases to fit back into their slots but pretty much done. I need to do a little sanding to make the finished bases to fit back into their slots but pretty much done.
Not really part of this project but aquarium plants make great sci fi terrain. Not really part of this project but aquarium plants make great sci fi terrain.

Zeppelin L-59

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 6
1 Comment

Designated LZ-104 by Zeppelin and L-59 by the German navy, this airship had one of weirdest missions of WW1.

Dubbed Das Afrikaschiff, it’s mission, dubbed the China Show, was to fly 4500 miles, one way, and deliver food, ammunition, machine guns and medical supplies. It apparently also carried a supply of Iron Crosses. The crew was then supposed to join Lettow-Vorbeck’s forces. The airship itself was to be cannibalized. The cloth exterior wasn’t doped (essentially varnished) so it could be reused as tents. The gas bags were to be cut up and used as bandages and the airframe repurposed as a radio tower.

Africa circa 1914Africa circa 1914

The story of L-59 is an epic story unto itself. But essentially, the airship left Bulgaria, traveled over Crete then down through British held Sudan and got over half way to East Africa without being detected by the British Royal Flying Corps even though they knew her mission and destination.

After getting more than halfway to East Africa, the airship was recalled. The crew was in favor of continuing the mission but the captain was insistent. It reportedly took two hours to convince the crew to turn around. By the time they returned to Bulgaria, they’re been in continuous flight for over 95 hours. This was a world record that wasn’t broken by any aircraft until 1957 when a US Navy blimp upped the record to 264 hours. Fixed wing aircraft wouldn’t break L-59’s record until 2015.

The message to recall the airship is shrouded in mystery. The recall message was originally claimed to have been issued by the British as a deception operation but this version has largely been debunked. Another version is that Lettow-Vorbeck issued the recall because he wasn’t able to hold the landing site and had to retreat to more mountainous terrain where the airship couldn’t land. However even this story has issues as his army was two days away from the last radio station still in operation and it was damaged and unable to transmit messages, but could still receive them. This story requires more research.

While a 28mm scale airship would be epic, it would also be in excess of 10 feet long. I have however found a 3D printed version in a more reasonable size of about 1 foot long.

I’m working on scenarios but don’t have firm plans yet. Maybe something like securing the LZ or unloading the airship in a certain amount of time.

Time to Publish/Where to from here?

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 6
No Comments

So I kept this plog  private for awhile while I tried to get everything ready for the first game with this army. With one game in, need to work out what’s next.

I’ll definitely be adding more terrain. I have a nifty river steam launch that looks like it came right out of a movie. I have some buildings to work on and I have some ideas for scenarios.

Scenario ideas include the one with the bees and another with a lion, both historically based. And then a what if involving a Zeppelin. And yes, an actual Zeppelin was made and flew south and almost made the trip.

But what would’ve happened if it had arrived?

Battle Report Part 2

Tutoring 6
Skill 6
Idea 6
No Comments

I did not take as many photos as I should have but the opening moves of both sides were units trying to stay out of line of sight and trying to move into cover. The jungle areas provide light cover to units in the terrain but blocks line of sight for units on the opposite side. The termite mounds are the same except they provide hard cover. The trenches on the right flank provided hard cover to units in them but did not block line of sight. They are effectively below ground level.

Constant pounding by two French squads and an HMG has caused the naval squad to rout leaving a lone Askari in place. He sheds all his fatigue and is still in the fight! Constant pounding by two French squads and an HMG has caused the naval squad to rout leaving a lone Askari in place. He sheds all his fatigue and is still in the fight!
In the trenches! An Askari squad runs hell bent for leather into the trenches against a diminished inexperienced French squad directly in front of them and the French close assault squad directly behind them. In the trenches! An Askari squad runs hell bent for leather into the trenches against a diminished inexperienced French squad directly in front of them and the French close assault squad directly behind them.
The lone Schutztruppe squad, later joined by the sniper who had to re-deploy, pour fire into the trench and between them and the sniper, rout the inexperienced French squad. The lone Schutztruppe squad, later joined by the sniper who had to re-deploy, pour fire into the trench and between them and the sniper, rout the inexperienced French squad.
The French close assault squad shoots and grenades the Askari squad out of existence leaving them in control of the objective closest to their lines. The French close assault squad shoots and grenades the Askari squad out of existence leaving them in control of the objective closest to their lines.
Central objective is in control of the French as the Askari squad has been forced back out to the far side of the termite mound and reduced to a single Askari. Central objective is in control of the French as the Askari squad has been forced back out to the far side of the termite mound and reduced to a single Askari.

After five turns we called it as the Germans didn’t have enough units to realistically grab another objective.

Highlights included the French rifle grenade and sniper never scoring a hit and the surprising resolve of the Askari squads.

The German sniper did slightly better in that he actually scored a few hits but nothing spectacular.

While this was a German loss I’m generally pleased with how this build worked. Might drop the sniper and replace the naval squad and use those points for another squad. Not sure if it should be a Schutztruppe squad, another Askari squad or maybe a specialist Assault Squad.

Battle Report Part 1

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 6
No Comments

We recently played a 200 point game using a modified scenario with three objectives.  The objectives were worth more points the farther away they were from your deployment zone

For the German East African force I took:

1 Captain
1 Sniper
1 HMG
3 x Askari squads with 8 rifle
1 x Schutztruppe squad 5 rifle + LMG
1 x Naval squad 4 rifle + LMG

The French were:

1 Major,

1 x Riflemen x7 (lmg, rifle grenade),

1 x Riflemen x8 (lmg),

2 x Inexperienced Riflemen x6,

1 x Sniper,

1 x HMG

1 x Trench Raiders x6

Initial deployment of the German force. Initial deployment of the German force.
Right flank of German force Right flank of German force
Initial French deployment Initial French deployment
French left flank initial deployment French left flank initial deployment

The photos above show the relevant objectives. From left to right, the closest  objective to the German line, the central objective and the far right objective closest to the French line.

Starting position of German forces. Askari in front, command unit behind, sailors and more Askari to the right. Starting position of German forces. Askari in front, command unit behind, sailors and more Askari to the right.
Center Askari move up to the termite mounds and central objective and are trying to get into charge range of a French squad. Center Askari move up to the termite mounds and central objective and are trying to get into charge range of a French squad.
German left flank of sailors and Askari secure the close objective. German left flank of sailors and Askari secure the close objective.
French squad opposite the mixed sailor and Askari squad. They and the French HMG team consistently target the naval squad eventually forcing it to break. French squad opposite the mixed sailor and Askari squad. They and the French HMG team consistently target the naval squad eventually forcing it to break.
A small Schutztruppe squad moves into the jungle to provide suppressing fire while an Askari squad uses cover to move into assault positions. A small Schutztruppe squad moves into the jungle to provide suppressing fire while an Askari squad uses cover to move into assault positions.

Jungle Terrain

Tutoring 6
Skill 5
Idea 6
No Comments

I don’t make enough terrain for my games so I’ve set that as a new goal. Jungle terrain works for a variety of games so this project was good motivation to get stuck in.

I used cheap aquarium plastic plants and decorative plastic plants from local craft stores. I then put them on Sarissa Precision MDF terrain pieces.

The resin rock piece shown below came from Warlord Games.

Heia Safari!

Tutoring 5
Skill 4
Idea 5
No Comments

Heia Safari is the title of a book published post-war by Lettow-Vorbeck about his time in East Africa. It’s also the title of a song first published in 1916. The phrase was originally Arabic that got translated into Swahili. It roughly translates as either Hurry or Hurray,  a journey! It was spoken as a rallying cry/motivational phrase when the Schutztruppe broke camp.

Another version of the song appeared in WW2 and is about the Akrika Korps. Below is a video of the original lyrics sung in German but with English subtitles.

 

Palm Trees

Tutoring 5
Skill 4
Idea 5
No Comments

I originally thought that palm trees were mostly in North Africa but I’ve learned that various species are scattered throughout Africa so, here we are!  In game terms they’ll be treated as forests which makes them area terrain that blocks line of sight and provides light cover.

Palm trees by Woodland Scenics. MDF bases by Sarissa Precision. Palm trees by Woodland Scenics. MDF bases by Sarissa Precision.

Termite Mounds

Tutoring 5
Skill 4
Idea 6
No Comments

There’s quite a wide variety of terrain that can be included in an African campaign from jungles, to swamps to savanna’s, cities, towns, rivers, plucky little steam launches, Zeppelin’s….

Yes, Zeppelin’s. But more on that later.

Large termite mounds are one of the more interesting features to be found and for a short time Warlord Games sold resin termite mounds in partnership with Sarissa Precision MDF. In game terms we’ll probably treat this as area terrain that provides hard cover. May or may not be line of sight blocking. We’ll have to experiment with that.

Resin termite mounds on MDF bases. Resin termite mounds on MDF bases.

Objective Markers

Tutoring 5
Skill 4
Idea 5
No Comments

There are any number of scenarios that require objective markers and I have a few ideas for African themed scenarios and I figured these guys would come in handy. Painting the butterflies on the collector was a lot of fun.

More Pulp Figures. More Pulp Figures.