Monday 9 September 2013

Kippur - a brief review

Kippur is an Israeli movie set during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. I saw it on the shelf for $8 having never heard of it before, so figured I'd give it a go.
The DVD cover
The basic plot is about two Israeli soldiers who can't find their unit during mobilisation, run into an air force doctor and after giving him a lift to his base join his helicopter rescue party. It is an autobiographical work by the director Amos Gitai.
So what is it like? Well, it is all in Hebrew, so if you don't speak the language, be prepared to read subtitles. Having said that, there is very little in the way of dialogue anyway.
The film does a good job in portraying the chaos of the first days of the war - traffic jams and lost people. The main characters also very casually drive between units, and no-one seems to suspect them of being deserters. And this is a really interesting point. At no stage does anyone shout 'we're doing this for Israel' or 'your country needs you'. No motivational speeches or melodramatic calls to patriotic duty. Everyone just does their job - if not the one they expected to do, then they do a different job. It is all very matter of fact.

The soundtrack is pretty spartan - the abiding sound is that of helicopter rotors or tanks moving about. The actions of the characters speak for themselves.
A still from the movie. Note Shot Kal in the background.
The IDF helped out with equipment, and the fantastic thing about the movie for people like me (and the majority of people who would read this blog) is the number of Centurions and M3 halftracks driving back and forth. And I'm not kidding there. In the background as the casualties are recovered the Centurions literally drive forward, wait 20 seconds and then reverse while another moves up in its place. Only once do you see one fire. I'm wondering if this is actual tactics (don't stay in one place for too long), or an effect the director was looking for to indicate chaos and constant movement? I've a sneaking suspicion it is the latter - after all, we are meant to be focused on the main characters. And this leads to another problem. The tanks seem to drive around in circles, and the helicopter definitely flies in circles. It is classic 'we are making a movie in a limited area so fly around in a circle and try and make it look like there is more than there actually is.'

Depressingly, after all of the correct kit for 1973 for most of the movie, there are a couple of Merkavas and M60s on the Golan in one flyover scene towards the end. You also never see the Syrians, although that is hardly the point of the movie.

As a film, it isn't too bad. There is limited character development, the emphasis being on highlighting the chaos and confusion, the exhaustion of the troops and the horror of the high casualty toll. Some scenes are too long, and some are just pointless - who throws paint on their bed and then rolls around having sex in it... in a war movie?

Would I recommend it? Yeah, it is worth a watch, even if just for the sheer novelty of viewing a film about the Yom Kippur War. Are there holes in it? Hell, yeah. But are there cool tanks in it? Yes there are... many, many tanks.

Incidentally, the tanks are all in the greener later Sinai Grey, as opposed the sandier colour that they would have had in 1973 (or so my reading suggests - I'm open to being wrong about that).


Wednesday 4 September 2013

Donald Featherstone passes

The latest news on TMP is that Donald Featherstone, 'the father of modern wargaming', has passed away.
Donald Featherstone R.I.P. (this is a still from a Youtube video featuring the Don)
I cannot do justice to the influence that this man and his writings had on me as a wargamer. He had a marvellous turn of phrase and his rules always hinted at the idea that wargaming was fun and the old school spirit of 'do-it-yourself' was all throughout his works.
Together with the late Charles Grant senior his books were my first introduction to wargaming as a teenager. the first of Don's books that I purchased was Battles with Model Soldiers.
Formative influence and all that
As I discovered wargaming in my early teens in the late 80s, Featherstone's Complete Wargaming was contemporary with me and inspired me more than any other wargaming book. I still look at it often.
A very, very pretty book.
Several of Don Featherstone's books are on my shelf, not just wargames books, but history like Bowmen of England and Colonial Small Wars. He is a never-ending source of inspiration, and I guess there are thousands of people around the world who feel the same way.

Thank you for everything that you have given me and so many others, sir. May you rest in peace knowing that you have touched the lives of so many people.


Tuesday 3 September 2013

Three points for SAGA so far

In this break from all things Arab-Israeli War I'd like to showcase my first few units for SAGA. They are Anglo-Danish troops using Black Tree miniatures.
The whole force standing around together
Focusing in on the left of the line, a mix of hearthguard and fyrd.
And the same again on the left of the line, the Warlord to the fore.
Fyrd spearmen from the right
Focusing on he big man himself. Anglo-Danish Warlords are supposed to have Danish Axes, but I like swords.
And here is a hearthguard with a Danish axe. He's got the Warlord's back.

Sunday 1 September 2013

Repainted Israeli Army ready for Fate of a Nation

So here are the tanks that I've been working on. The whole army is now repainted with the Hannants acrylic, but these photos are just the vehicles that I haven't featured before:
Quality Castings M51 Ishermans
A side shot of the M51 Ishermans
Quality Castings M50 Shermans
A close-up of one of the M50s.
Command Decision jeeps with the Quality Castings recoiless rifles attached. I found the QC jeeps too small alongside everything else.
Command Decision M48s with barrels from Quality Castings, the spare turret hatches from the M50 Shermans (you get the option of closed or open), and .50 cals from some Plastic Soldier Company Shermans.
2 QRF M48 Magachs.
The QRF Magachs from the front. I think I prefer my conversions, but you can make up your own mind.
M3 halftracks from the Plastic Soldier Company. these are a delight. In painting them, I used a mix of Vallejo Green grey and US field drab. I really like the result.
A close up of one of the M3s where I drilled a hole through the windshield and trimmed down the M1919 Browning to go through it.
Quality Castings AMX 13s. Very small tanks. I added the .50 cals from the old jeeps which are now sporting the recoiless rifles.  Not my favourite kit but it hasn't painted up too bad.
Not to be left out, here are the Command Decision BTR-152s. Nice models, although there were holes in the bodies of two of the vehicles which wasn't ideal.

So there we have it - the latest vehicles for the 6 Day War and Yom Kippur. Roll on October!


Fate of a Nation - official Arab-Israeli FoW

Announced on Chris Townley's blog a couple of weeks ago was the news that Battlefront are releasing a Six Day War supplement for Flames of War. The day before it was on the FoW forums, and yesterday Modeldads did a sneak peek at it.
The promo shot taken from the Wargames Illustrated Facebook page
To say I am excited about this development is a slight understatement. There are a whole load of new releases, and although I have all the T-55s, Magachs and Sho'ts that I could need, there is still plenty to whet my appetite. Here is a still shot from the Modeldad's blog of what we can expect:
From Wargames Illustrated via Modeldads blog via Flames of war forum
Out of that list I need the M3 halftrack mortars and anti-aircraft, Israeli Tokens and objectives, the Arab anti-aircraft, decals, tokens and objectives. I'd also be interested in getting the Battlefront infantry to replace or add to my Quality Castings stuff if they are nice sculpts.

I've been in touch with Owen and we both want to have a good go at recosting and rejigging the Yom Kippur lists, based on this release.

The blog has been quiet lately and I need to get the camera out and take photos of the completed Israeli army, not to mention a whole pile of other stuff. I may try and do that this afternoon.