By Rob Morgan
For me, the 1980s were a lean time, as a wargamer. Marriage, the kids, promotion, moving house, again, all took a toll of my interests. That’s why I didn’t buy War Machine, the 25-page themed magazine from Orbis Publishers. It was only 80 pence, but it passed me by, at least until I began to come across second-hand copies in book shops and in the hands of other wargamers. My collection now only stands at around 35 or so, but they are very, very useful ‘starts’ in terms of research. I can often dip into one and find something which will provide an odd, unusual weapon, or maybe suggest that a country I didn’t expect used a particular AFV or field gun. Like War Machine No. 118, on ‘Flamethrowers of WWII.’ The article gives details and a decent photo of a Red Army static flamethrower used during ‘Operation Barbarossa,’ the ‘Ampulenjot 1941 System Kartukov.’ The details in the magazine text make it easy to model an example in 15mm scale, and it’s unusual enough to provide a boost for a beleaguered Soviet base. It’s not unlike the British Northover Projector, a weapon for urgent desperate defence rather than a long-term piece of ordnance.
Plenty of useful information in No. 10, on ‘Railway Guns and Armoured Trains.’ Another favourite is Number 76, on ‘War Rockets of WWII.’ As an ordnance ‘geek,’ I loved the Hedgerow rocket device, a variant of the naval Hedgehog, used in Normandy (where’s the wargames scale model?) and the late war ‘Land Mattress’(?) … ditto! And, what about the LILO, an anti-bunker rocket of substantial power. I tried scratch-building one with little luck. Page 1507 of this issue deals with Japanese artillery rockets, and what a wargames subject this could be! A topic worthy of an Osprey title.
The warship issues are magnificent. Number 140 is on ‘Commerce Raiders of WWI’, and there are issues dealing with most of the warship types of the century, from battleships to spy ships, all with plenty of potential. Model ship makers seem to have missed out the spy ships en masse, and the Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin would be the pride of any table top fleet!
The 143 subject issues, number 144 was the Index, are not all known to me. In fact, I don’t know of a list of the titles or subjects of each one, beyond what I own, and the information given in the ‘forthcoming issues note’ in many of them. I don’t suppose any member could furnish a list 1 to 143?