Monday, January 8, 2018

Micro Armor Work Part 3: GHQ Infantry

I got the GHQ infantry because TMP-ers said that they were the best - and they are very nice sculpts, crisp and made with pretty hard metal. The packs under consideration are TW-12 and TW-13, so-called "3rd World Regulars":

TW-12 Individual Third World Regulars


GHQ states there are 60+ in a pack, mine had 77.

60+ armed locals per pack: 

2 x standing pointing officer / NCO w/ slung rifle and binoculars [got 3]
2 x kneeling officer / NCO / FOO w/ G3 and talking on radio handset  [got 3]
3 x prone officer / NCO / FOO looking through binoculars [got 4]
16 x advancing EM w/ G3 rifle at the hip [got 20]
9 x kneeling firing EM w/ G3 rifle [got 20]
12 x advancing EM w/ G3 at ready and LAW rocket slung on shoulder [got 15]
9 x advancing EM w/ G3 at ready and PRG slung on shoulder [got 12]

And mine look like this:
Top are the Officer officer poses, standing kneeling and prone. 
Next down are the PRG [left] and LAW [right] poses.

Below are the kneeling and advancing poses.

TW-13 Individual Third World Regulars Heavy Infantry

GHQ says there are 50 per pack, mine have 87 figs on 63 bases.

50+ per pack: 

2 x standing pointing officer / NCO w/ slung rifle and binoculars [got 3]
2 x kneeling officer / NCO / FOO w/ G3 and talking on radio handset [got 3]
3 x prone officer / NCO / FOO looking through binoculars [got 4]
10 x L19 81mm mortar w/ 2 man team [got 12]
9 x tripod-mounted PKM MMGs w/ 2 man teams [got 12]
12 x prone MG3 (LMG) gunners [got 14]
4 x prone snipers [got 4]
4 x prone MilanATGM gunners [got 6]
4 x seated Mistral AA missle gunners [got 4]

And mine look like this:

Top are the Mortars, below Sniper, Prone Milan/ATGM, seated Mistral AA.

Below, tripod PKM MMG, prone MG3, same sprue of "officers" / leaders as above.

Prep and cleaning requires:

  • Filing the mold line that cuts thru the helmet,
  • Numerous tiny flash bits are on them, all need to be trimmed off with a blade.
  • They have a base and are attached to the sprue by it, so one cut needed there. 

Leaving them on the sprues until I have finished spray-painting them - they are easier to handle. That being said, several of the MG3 figs have already fallen off and I suspect filing the helmets will make more do the same.

I have to say, they almost look like 15mm figs - in fact, they're nicer than some! Looking forward to painting them, which is a pleasant surprise.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

"Oil Cheaper than Water": OHW Scenario 14 AAR

So, throwing together a title for a wargame covering the innumerable and unending wars in the middle east, I made a few off-the-cuff changes and took my hard copies of "Oil Cheaper Than Water" to Ken's house for a playtest. We put together some terrain and forces from what he had on hand out of his micro armor collection to do a scenario from the 1973 Yom Kippur War. With no idea how it would play but that I would rate the Arab forces as inferior to the Isreali, I made the forces:
Arabs - 4 Tanks [T55], 3 Lt. Tank [APCs], 3 Infantry, 1 Artillery [available 4+ each turn]
Isreali - 2 Tanks [Centurion], 2 Lt. Tank [APCs, Halftracks] + 2 Mech Infantry, 2 Infantry, 2 Artillery [available on 4+ each turn].
So with an 11-10 advantage, the Arab forces attacked the defenses at...?

I stupidly forgot my copy of OHW so did Scenario 14: Static Defense that we had just fought a few times so it was fresh in my memory. Some of the game tweaks were to switch the scale to 1"=100m, which reduced the Close Range to 2", and Infantry weapons to 6", while the tanks had a Range to 18" and a Long Range to 36". As Quality is very important in the modern era, along with gear, I gave a Unit shooting at an inferior Quality Target an additional die. 

Finally, I introduced a new Terrain type, "Flat" which is basically featureless terrain leaving little or nothing to hide in, and gave a bonus to the Firing Unit. The assumptive "norm" in this game is that troops are trained to disperse and hide and use terrain as best as possible, and that most battlefields have some terrain in it which would be the attacker's avenue of assault. Therefore "open table terrain" is assumed to have enough features for normal tactical usage, while "Flat" just doesn't have it.

I knew very little about this war, so went with whatever Ken remembered off the top of his head regarding gear, so we did wing it a bit.

The table - of which I forgot to take a pic, was the standard #14 except I introduced a couple of "Flat" areas, the largest of which was in front of the hill objective, and is pictured below as the brown felt to the right - units in it are fired at with a bonus Target dice.

The first several turns unfolded much like any other Scenario #14 I've played. I chose to avoid the town as I only had one Artillery Unit. I used the APCs to drop the infantry off at the central wooded area, thru which they subsequently advanced. All the armor and APCs went to the left around the wood to attack the hill. The Isreali defense shifted a few times as Ken tried to keep Units alive that had been shot up. 

Around turn 5, the big rush across the Flat Terrain Area occurred and it was full of Arab armor. Artillery availability didn't favor the defenders and altho a few of the Arab units took some serious 3-4 Hits including Permanent Hits, nearly all the force made it in for the attack on the hill, which at the time was held by one highly motivated platoon of Isreali Infantry. 

Below, Turn 7 has the Dug-in Isrealis at center, with a severely damaged T55 unit above it, two below it, while additional Infantry and APCs move in from the right - the Siege Begins!

End of 7. Besieged Isreali Infantry on hilltop, Chieftans with loaded APCs [halftracks carrying infantry] behind at top center. Chieftans being overrun at center [green dice '2'] with Arab APCs to left, T55s below right, and more Isreali halftracks to their top right towards the little hill. Arab Infantry line the groves of date and palm trees to the right [green dice '1'] and are advancing thru the "Flat" terrain at lower center. Cool explosion marker at center right!

Turn 8 below. Arabs continue assault in the hill, but progress is slowed since Isrealis are Dug-in and only two Hits have been inflicted [it would really help if the Artillery would be available...]. The two Arab Infantry lining the groves to right are being attacked on their right flank by two Isreali Infantry from the town. Overall, bottom half Arab, top Isreali, hill objective threatened but not secured by a long shot.

Turn 10 below. Arab Infantry have shifted from groves to assault the hill. Isreali APCs behind Chieftans at top shifted left to reinforce the hill, dismounting the Infantry [who should have had a Permanent Hit like the APCs - I forgot]. Arab APCs and T55s at center / right got beat up from Artillery and Chieftan shooting, but the center Chieftans are destroyed. The noose gets tighter on the hill as Arab armor shifts left and around.

Turn 12, below. One Isreali Infantry has been wiped out, as Arabs pour onto the hill. The reinforcements have Dug-in, but are taking hits from three sides. Their supporting APCs are almost destroyed, altho more APCs are coming [center]. The T55s to right survived but the Arab APCs in the center are gone. The top center Chieftans moved off-camera to behind the small hill where they are trying to rally...and failing. 

Interestingly, there are six Isreali Units on the field, and six Arab [however, the Isreali's can't use two that are guarding the town]. The attrition is almost the same, showing how well the scenario rules work.

Turn 13. The Arabs concentrated firepower and managed to overrun the last of the Infantry on the hill, as well as knocking out their APCs. The dancing can't begin, however as some APCs are arriving to contest the hill, and Chieftans are lurking behind the small hill at top right, having finally succeeded in rallying off a few Hits [was 6, now 4 I think]. Just to the right, some Isreali Infantry are straining at the end of their leash from the town, threatening the T55s nearly. Overall, it is very close and anything can happen!

Turn 15. The Chieftans emerge to claim some Arabs along with the Artillery. The Arab Infantry fire is not enough to purge the holy soil of Infidel, and altho the Isreali APCs have 6 Hits, they are still contesting the hill amidst the confusion of battle. I should have moved the bottom left Arab Infantry to the right to attack the Isreali APCs that were obviously going to get onto the hill - they didn't contribute to the fight at all the last couple of turns, and have no Hits - cowards! The rest of the Arab force is toast...burning T-55s everywhere!

Whew! Another close game. We both made some tactical errors, and both made some rules errors [but not many] and had to feel our way with the vehicle weaponry. Still, a good first time out for these rules.

Ken's major points of feedback were:
- the 3-base Units are fiddly. That's a bit true, and the minis could certainly be put on larger bases [say 4x2"] or just tape three together at the bottom. I'm basically using 3-base units b/c that's what my FoW WWII stuff is based for, and I won't be basing them! Also, there may be some value in the shape of units with multiple bases, I haven't plumbed those depths yet, that may be an advanced rule type of thing.
- Related to above, it makes LoS complext at short Ranges as there's no requirement to choose which base edges are providing the LoS for the shot. This would definitely be easier if the Units were on one base.
- he found the use of two mechanics for combat hard to remember. Some things give or take away a die, and other things raise / lower the Target Number. There's a limit to what can be done with using one 6-sided die for combat, and I like the subtleties of the Permanent Hit system and its dependence on at least 3 Fire Dice. No solution for this at present, as I think switching to 2d6 and a modifier table won't be much easier.
- ATGMs [not used today] need a minimum range [which I changed and made them same as Mortars].

My major points:
- Units may need a classification for their weapon type and Target type - I tried a "hard / soft" classification in the past, may need to revisit that.
- Suicide Units. Badly damaged Units can exploit the Priority rules by moving into Close Range and forcing a defender to shoot at them. This may not be realistic, depending on the forces. For the Middle East, it may be OK ['cause those folks is crazy!]. A simple fix would be to say that Units with 4+ Hits cannot enter Close Range. Also the Initiative test should penalize for destroyed Units, which would make suicide charges even more dubious.
- I'm still not satisfied with the front/Rear definition as it doesn't work well when opposing Units are very close together sometimes. I will switch it to being the front 180 off the middle base and see if that helps resolve the problem.
- I will also introduce an "Air" category so that helicopters and planes can be introduced easily - all part of the fun!

Overall, these worked fine, with the main problems being unfamiliarity with the historical period and the gear involved, as well as a couple of little rough spots that need to be considered and smoothed over. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Micro Armor Work Part 2: BMP1s & BTR50s

Civilain Contractor Mechanic: "Yes, the farther you pull the string, the more you will wind it up, and the farther and faster it goes."
Soldier: "I think we can manage that - does it have to be Russkie string?"
Image result for bmp-1 Syria

So the ten T-74s took a bit of time due to mold lines, 90 minutes. Next up were the two types of APCs I got for this fictitious Syrian force, BMP-1 and BTR 50.

The BMP-1 is just a cool looking vehicle, sort of a low-rider with nice lines. I dig it:

A Syrian Army BMP-1 in the city of Quseir, June 6, 2013

A Syrian Army BMP-1, May 11, 2013
Also, I am digging this camo scheme with olive green and ochre / dark yellow - hmmmm...

If you look carefully, the GHQ model has an AT-3 Sagger ATGM above the barrel, which looks cool and will make for a nice painting opportunity, as well as gaming capability:


Image result for bmp 1 with sagger missile

File:Damaged BMP-1.jpg

small details like this make even a small tank "pop" on the table when there's a bright spot:

I also think it will be useful in games, as it functions as something of a light tank as well as an APC.  The GHQ models are - as always - nice sculpts, but they do have an obnoxious mold line around the entire vehicle that is especially noticeable across the back end, one can only hope to file it down in part. My approach is to file it in easy-to-reach places so as to break up the visual line, and leave it where it is obscured with other details:

Above: Bmp-1 to left showing mold line broken up in the sculpting of rear doors. The BTR-50 to right has less and is easy to clean off. Final result post-filing [above] and [below] a real rear:
Image result for bmp 1 with sagger missile

The BTR-50 is a pretty old APC, but has some atmosphere to it:
Image result for btr - 50 syria

Related image
Again, I am liking this dark yellow on olive camo scheme.

The GHQ model comes with some sort of HMG that is afixed on the top with its tripod - the above site says it is there for firing, but I assume that the squad can grab it when they dismount and deploy [on left vehicle - the one to right is the command vehicle]:

The blister comes with 5 BTR-50 and 1 command BTR-50.

Below are the cleaned models drying out.

As I am pleased with the way the units look with the turrets "covering zones" of the clock, I am going to do the same with the BMP-1s.

quick note on the craft sticks...they've a slight curve and it is better to mount the vehicles on the side with the arc as they stick better and it is easier to remove them later.

BTR50s mounted in sticks for painting.

BMP-1s with turrets glued on and mounted on craft sticks.

So that is all the puppet state / client state / Russkie ally vehicles I have. Total additional prep time was 30 minutes for the BMP-1s and about 15 for the BTR-50s [no turret = fewer mold lines] including cleaning them in warm water.

Next up a totally new challenge - the 100 infantry!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

"Up the Blue!" for modern warfare? Absolutely!

Steve over at "Sound Officer's Call" just can't stop gaming these holidays! After throwing us all out of his house he had another throw-down with micro-armor; but then again, it's something you can do with "One-Hour Wargames".

He banged out Scenario #27 "Disordered Defense" which is an asymmetric sort of scenario in that the Blue *Attacker* has only 4 Units with which to seize the crossroads at the top, while the Red *Defender* has 6 Units. However, Red starts with only 3 and then on Turn 8, halfway thru the game, he gets the other 3 Units. Thus it is 4-3 at the beginning, not much of an edge but Blue does get to set up second and go first. It is thus possible to gang up all three Blue Units on one Red, and get to 4-2 pretty quickly - with some skill and luck, of course!

I really enjoy these 4 v. 6 scenarios, as they get to the heart of the qualitative edge some armies have. I imagine the Blue team as the Germans and the Red as the Russians, for example, or the Blue being the British and the Red the Americans in AWI, or Confederates and Union, etc. A great challenge for both sides.

The start points for the 3 Red Units is as below, one on the Crossroads and two out in front, offset from the road, in Zones 1 and 2. Blue sets up second within 6" of the Southern table edge, and gets moving.

Below is the faithful setup by our Demonstration Officer, Steve. Looks like the Arabs are fielding some, uhm, tan rectangular shapes on a 3-4" base. Well, tanks anyway, I'm sure.

Turn 8, the Isrealis have beat up the Arabs holding the zone, altho one tank Unit of, well, Green Rectangular shapes, has 6 Hits including 2 Permanent Hits, so it is almost dead. Another tank unit has only two Hits. so 21 Hits on Arabs went down for 8 Hits on Isrealis. I'm guessing that the Green Arab Unit is mech infantry, and the two others tanks.

End of Game. The Arabs have headed to Damascus while the Isrealis hold the field - seems the base with 3 Hits is actually dead and awaiting the recovery crews to arrive.

OK, enough kidding around in the briefing, we will now turn it over to CPT Steve - my commentary is in A. BLUE Italics interspersed. and Steve's responses in S. Grey Italics.

"i played a game of scenario 27 and it was quick brutal and fun." The Israeli Magach MBTs (m48s) are good tanks with excellent optics and superior crews. From the OHW standards:
  • long range was extended to 24". 
  • advanced stabilization = move /shoot or shoot / move at half movement.
The egyptian T55s are a first line tank in 1967 at least:.
  • have a standard 12” range and 3+ Hit so are at a disadvantage against m48s in the open desert
  • A. thought: double range is a big advantage, and it is frustrating for a gamer to be shot at helplessly. I suggest checking the history on the effective ranges and considering allowing the same range but at 1 spot worse to Hit on the D6.
  • That being said, I’ve no problem for German 88s to outrange a 2pdr – it would just have to be a scenario consideration for the mission – sometimes gamers have to show some emotional fortitude!
  • The clash between a 4+ v. 5+ shot at long range makes for interesting gaming. Isrealis could be 12” @3+, 24” at 4+ [if they’ve a longer, flatter gun trajectory] while Egyptians could be 8”@ 3+, 16”@ 4+ and 24@ 5+ for example, depending on the quality of their gun, optics and shooting – easy!
The arab infantry have dedicated ATGM units allowing them a 3+ vehicle attack against anything within 48" [A. again, could be 3+ to 24” and 4+ to 48”, etc]
Theyre mechanized so i played it basically that they move as armor and if attacked by a "ready" unit during movement they're defending as light armor.  Stationary they defend as infantry.  [A: slick! again, great rule, would show a “dismounting to fight” doctrine and raises the great design question of “are they like ACW cavalry in that they fight mounted or dismounted?” or strictly "mounted infantry”? ]
The Israelis trashed the egyptians by the way.  4 units of magachs against a mixed bag of Egyptian armor and infantry.  Israelis ended losing a platoon with 3 still on table (one permanent on one platoon).  Egyptians left having their mortar/ada/HQs unit on table.
A: As long as you feel like both sides had a chance and the decisions created an outcome with a likely different outcome with different decisions and average dice then it’s a good game!

My immediate thoughts are that the scenario should play well into both sides strengths / weaknesses – three Arab infantry on the board at start should give the Isrealis a hard time. I’d see them losing a unit in the first couple turns while gobbling up two Arab infantry. The T55s could enter Turn 8, or two T55s plus off-board artillery could enter / be available T8.

Also, you could go with strict NT rules ranges, and say that 1” = 200m, so that the 12” range is 2400m, in which case you’ve made the table twice as big. So your micro-armor base would be about 3-400m x 200m, which seems like a good spread for a tank platoon in the open [v. artillery, etc]. Overall, sounds like the design is halfway there already!

These are very rudimentary ideas [A: and for more ideas, consider NT’s in both OHW and AMW/Nap books, see if they inspire anything] i thought id share but there is great potential for bringing these into the modern era.  Game was decided in half the time.

After this exchange via email, Steve returned with:

S: Thought about this more.  I'd also offer a suggestion to "ease in" to modern era with the 1967 war vrs the 1973 war,  that way we can playtest modern stuff before adding ATGM to the battlefield. 

A: sure – we’re still playtesting WWII stuff for that matter.

No reason to change things too much for tank guns and gunnery.  For the better guns and training I offer the following:
- L7 105mm tank gun on the Israeli tanks you could just say that israeli armored units armed w L7 gun ignore long range modifier.  So any tank unit armed w an L7 or OQF 20 lb gets to ignore the "up one" rule for long range.
- Hence long range still 24 inches for tanks.  But Israeli tanks hit on 3+ Arab tanks at 4+ at long range.
A: nice thinking. historical question [cause I know nada about this period] does the gun give improved performance at long range compared to the Arab gun? Or is it superior performance at all ranges?

S: Tough question about the gun.  Technically at close range a tank gun is a tank gun is a tank gun and performance issues are less of a question.  Both guns could range targets farther away but the Israelis and the L7 gun certainly had an edge in respect to optics, stabilization, and accuracy at long range.  The Arab strategy was to race in to close the range as swiftly as possible. That's why i like the simple ignore long range modifier of up one for tanks armed with this gun.  It's subtle and forces the Arab player to close the range quickly, but the Arab player can still engage targets at long range if he so wishes.

With units squarely divided into armor or mech companies I'd also offer the following players choice:
- After you roll up your force composition, choose an Infantry command or armor command.
Meaning a player who chooses an armored command must field at least 3 armor platoons (switch INF with armor and armor w infantry  on the force structure table).
- A player who has a mech Infantry command must field at least 3 infantry platoons .  In a sense you are switching tanks and infantry in the force structure but it would look and feel right for a modern battlefield. A: This is what I am doing for WWII, also, altho I was going to start with the switch of armor and infantry, then roll the force up.
- Mechanized infantry become 2 units when dismounted and may not rejoin their carriers.  The carriers become a light armor unit and the inf are dismounts just like the ww2 rules. A: sounds good.
- Radio net. ANY Israeli units may call for fire.  Don't need designated spotter for off board arty. A: Roger
- Arab units can call on a shed load of artillery (18-gun battalions, and lots of them.  Arab artillery was bigger caliber than Israeli in 1967, but not very responsive or accurate.  Arabs fielded ww2 Soviet 122mm and 152mm guns.  Israeli fielded 105mm guns and 25 lbers.
A: So give the Arabs a lower priority for guns to arrive, but if they show up they are “very heavy” as opposed to just “heavy”? Or just more of them? From what I understand of gunnery, the weight of the shell isn’t the only factor in how hard they hit, it has to do with how many rounds they put down, etc., right?

One possibility would be to have all Mortars go “UP” one hit number [for standard medium mortars, 75mm field guns, etc]. Then Artillery in the 100+ category would be where the Hit numbers are now, and heavy guns would get the bonus die. What do you think?

S: Arabs are soviet artillery in almost all respects.  Same guns same emphasis on pre planning and same poor response time.  In terms of advantages, yes their calibers are bigger, but they have a hard time coordinating and massing guns "on the fly" like a western army.  I like your suggestion for artillery.  My thoughts are similar:    artillery coordination roll is 4+ or even 5+ but the hit numbers are 3+ if youre lucky enough to get the big guns off table.  Personally soviet styled armies love mortars so id keep the mortar values the same.
Tank movement is d6+6 for all sides owed to better engines wide tracks. A:   possible.

Infantry have auto rifles like AK47 and FN FAL so there should be standard assault rules now.
A: I’m considering making it possible for any infantry, and certain tanks – as long as they really did it.
S: They did. 
Not dramatic changes although the Arabs had huge numerical superiority in tanks that was offset by israeli crew quality, morale, training and of course good gunnery.
A: So the game design question is do the Arabs have bigger game units, or more game units that aren’t as good?
S: More game units that arent as good.


S: One characteristic of modern warfare that was noted by the US army observers of the 67 and 73 wars is that it is very very fast.  Units outshoot their onboard ammo quick they run out of gas quick and they sprint and run very fast.  Speeding up mech units might play havoc on the scenarios but if you want it to play out like a modern battle, gear moves fast.  Or at the end of the day yo could just chalk it up to a tank is a tank is a tank.  In which case you could say d6+4.  
A. It would be possible to change nothing, but say that turns represent a shorter amount of time. Therefore instead of speeding up some units [which would affect a lot of the scenarios] you can slow down some Units [which hopefully would affect fewer scenarios] and there has to be a point where the default "slowness" is represented by a fixed standard like leg infantry walking.  

OK, so now you can witness not only two wargame design geniuses at work, but see how one adapts an elegant, straightforward wargame from one period into another similar period. There will definitely be more of this coming, as you can see from my posts on micro-armor preparations!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Micro Armor work Part 1: T-74s

Well, Steve's initiative got my creative juices flowing, plus, looking ahead in a little while I'm headed out to NTC myself for a staff visit, and so modern wargames - both 1:1 and 1:285 - are on my mind, anyway! It helps inspire my reading of things like FM 3-98 "Reconnaissance and Security Operations" which is interesting but yeah, a little dry. And it will help me to get my head into the Box for our upcoming rotation. 

Below, the project in all its glory. 

*Russian Proxies w' T-74, BMP-1, BTR-50, &100 3rd World Infantry [50 heavy support].

*Opposing them, our gallant lads of the Stryker Brigade w' support: M1s, Strykers [MGS, AT [w'Hammerhead], IFV, Cav], M-ATV and 100 infantry [50 heavy support].

Ooh-yeah! These Strykers are just amazing sculpts - no buyer's remorse here!

Total cost wasn't too bad, $165 for what will become 6 forces: 3 a side in my rules so I can host a fairly large game. This includes 6-7 Tank / APC Units and 6 Infantry Units a side [I think]. The infantry are the unknown part of the equation - have to work with the little guys on the 1.5" square bases to see how they sit. The bases should be big enough for little dioramas [emphasis on little] of 5-6 figs which will make them look great!

Basically, I'm thinking of the future fictitious US / NATO intervention in Syria as a potential story line. So this is a "near future" force. Not quite "Imagi'nations" in that it's all real, but hey, it hasn't happened yet so who can say my camo or any other paint schemes are wrong?? Should be fun as well as provide lots of opportunities to learn things in my spare time that improve job performance - true National Guard approach!

First up, the T-74. 

These tanks were picked b/c well, they were on sale for 40% off! And hey, I figure there's a T-74 or something like it somewhere beating around in, who can tell with 1/285 at gaming distance of about 3 feet?? What's important is that the shape and camo scheme make it obvious to the gamer what it is on the table. Some nice pics of Russkie tanks:

T-72 in Syrian town.

really nice pic! no idea what the red paint is for...

T-55 defending cutting-edge technology fortification? These are used as gun-tanks now, very interestingly, much like the German use of assault guns w'light armor in WWII. I will have to get some of them for just this purpose! It reminds us - an old tank is a good tank if the other side doesn't have any tanks! All above pics:

The tanks are lovely, with lots of crisp details and quality metal. Probs are the packaging had the MG sprue banging around with the turrets, and two of the gun barrels were very bent. They did respond well to being straightened, but the packaging could be improved a lot to better protect the model - half the MG barrels have broken off. Fix will be fine piano wire, most likely. Basically, some foam would do the trick.

Also, no diagram of how the MGs fit on the tank - and the pic at their website doesn't have any MG at all! 
Have to do some snooping around on the internet...

It was a little disappointing to discover a problematic mold line around the lower part of the turret, near the ring. I felt obligated to trim and clean them off. The turrets and MG sprues need to be handled carefully. Brace the fragile parts by laying them upon a finger while cleaning them up with a very soft toothbrush and dish-soapy water.

Post cleaning and a good rinsing off of the soapy water, the parts are set out to dry on a soft cloth to help absorb water. Old flannel shirts, etc is good:

Then the turrets need to be glued on - I see no point in having movable turrets, this is not a skirmish game and they will just fall off and get lost! Question is, how to glue them on? If they are all just facing forwards:

They look like they're in a parade and the barrels stick beyond the base and risk damage, bending, etc., especially during transport when the bases will be touching each other.

Also, I want my tanks to look like they're spoiling for a fight and doing their business, not observing a patriotic march thru Red Square! So, to the internet for info, a quick search for "Tank Formations" using Google Images comes up with this:
Figure E-23. Line to echelon formation.

And this:
Note the varied direction that the barrels are pointing - indicates the zone that the gunner / commander is covering even as the driver moves forward in formation.

So how would this look on the bases?

Also, it's good to have a low, handy box to keep such small models in while you're working with them - if a part falls off, you don't have to pick around on the carpet to find it, only to fail and then hear it click its way into the vacuum cleaner later on! And if it is a dark color, the metal bits will really stand out. Kept this from the recycling bin when my wife tossed it, knew it would be useful for some gaming purpose:

With the turrets secured, the tanks need to be glued to something for upcoming handling; MG placement, priming, painting and then the dipping process. As you may be noticing, I think it important to give the barrels as much chance to survive as possible, so instead of gluing the tank's body parallel with the craft stick, they're glued with the barrels parallel to the stick:

Also, leave plenty of space at each end to handle them with [I already know I'll switch the handling end continuously during the painting process]

I then carefully straighten the barrels out with gentle bending and gentle squeezing with a simple toothless clamp [soasnotto leave marks]. 

The straightened barrels are then given a thin layer of super-glue [cyanoacrylate] to help them hold straight.

If not dropped or carelessly handled, this should keep them intact as the bases are themselves thick enough to handle without touching the tank at all.

So the steps have been:
- Open blister and figure out what stuff is [use internet as needed], 15 min
- file mold lines, flash, etc off with jeweler's files, 70 min [ten tanks]
- gently clean with soft toothbrush and soak in warm, water w'regular dish soap [I used Dawn] to clean off any film left from the mold. 10 min
- dry, glue on barrels, 15 min [w' research time]
- glue onto craft sticks 5 min.
So far, this has been about 120 minutes, with cleaning mold lines being the most time-consuming. I'd say next time it could be half as long if the vehicles don't need as much cleaning.

Don't let my commentary put you off GHQ or micro armor. The tanks look really good, and I look forward to assembling them and getting them painted up!

Next up - cleaning the BMP-1s!