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  Junkers Ju52/3m by Cobi  The Junkers Ju 52/3m was originally designed in 1930. In its first flight it was only equipped with one engine. J...

Junkers Ju 52/3m by Cobi Junkers Ju 52/3m by Cobi

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Spanish Civil War

 Junkers Ju52/3m



 The Junkers Ju 52/3m was originally designed in 1930. In its first flight it was only equipped with one engine. Junkers soon realized that it was too underpowered with only one, and added two more engines. The Junkers designers used their J 1 aircraft (the first all metal aircraft) as its starting point. It was originally conceived as an airliner, but was turned into a bomber for a short time by the new Luftwaffe. It found its niche in life as a transport plane. As a transport plane before and during World War II, it was used constantly from 1936-1945. The German airmen and paratroopers called it 'Tante Ju' (Aunt Ju), or 'Iron Annie'. Very surprisingly the aircraft was also built by some other countries after the war. Some JU 52s were operational as late as the 1980s. It was also used as the personal aircraft of two countries' leaders during World War II. Both Hitler and Chiang Kai-shek had JU 52 personal airplanes. The plane type that Cobi has brought us was used as both a paratrooper and transport plane.

 The kit comes with 548 pieces. I was anxious to build this model for two reasons: One, I have always had a soft spot for the plane, Two, I had already built Cobi's Douglas C-47 (which is an excellent build and model), and I wanted to compare the builds and the finished product. 

  The building of the kit was as straight forward as usual with a Cobi kit. I believe I made one mistake, and just like during my other builds, it was my fault. Sometimes I get into a groove building these kits and I do not take the time I should to really inspect the instructions. However, a small flat edged screwdriver and some cursing always seems to do the trick. 

 The building of this kit was very enjoyable, as they all are. There is no glue stuck everywhere (especially on your fingers), and any mistake you make is easily righted. The Ju 52 took shape very early. The build starts with the wings so you know right away what the build is. Cobi tank kits mostly start out as a rectangle of blocks, and the tank does not show its excellent features until late in the process. With both of these plane builds I was able to see from the beginning how well the plane would look in the end. 

 As you can see, the kit in its finished form is a sight to behold. One thing, if you do not have much space to show off your kits, the bombers and transport planes are LARGE. The Douglas C-47 has a wingspan of 21" plus. The wingspan of the Junkers JU 52/3m is over 23". These are both big kits when finished.

 Once more, Cobi has given me a very enjoyable afternoon, and then followed it up with an excellent looking plane to add to my collection. Cobi kits are also great ways to start the young ones on the road to appreciating historical vehicles and the history behind them. I never really check how long a kit takes to finish. The building is so much fun and relaxing that the time just rolls by. I have never tried to speed build any of the kits. To me, that takes half the fun out the kit itself.

 The kit comes with two figures. A Luftwaffe pilot, and a Fallschirmj√§ger (Paratrooper). Just as with their kits, Cobi takes painstaking efforts to make sure they look as realistic as possible. So, once again I am in debt to Cobi for sending me this great looking Junkers Ju 52/3m kit. It is a magnificent build for anyone to display on their shelf. You can also buy the Junkers Ju 52/3m as a civilian version in white and blue, with Red Cross markings. The next Cobi kit I build will be a Sherman M4A3 (Easy Eight).



Blocks and toys for kids from Cobi - internet shop

Junkers Ju 52/3m:

Junkers Ju52/3m - WW2 Historical Collection - for kids 9 | Cobi Toys

Wars Across the World: Spain 1936 by Strategiae Avalon Digital  I had reviewed the base game and its ...

Wars Across the World: Spain 1936 by Strategiae and Avalon Digital Wars Across the World: Spain 1936 by Strategiae and Avalon Digital

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Spanish Civil War

Wars Across the World: Spain 1936



Avalon Digital

 I had reviewed the base game and its scenarios (link will be at the bottom), and I was very impressed with some things about the game. This is the one game where you can play battles from ancient times to nowadays. Scenario designing across such a huge swath of time is a pretty huge undertaking. In games like these, we are used to some scenarios being great whereas some are not so. It is so much in the hands of the designer of the scenario. The one thing that I was not really impressed with in the game was the AI on several of the scenarios I played. I had been assured after the review that work was continually being made on the AI. So I was asked if I wanted to review the scenario Spain 1936. Instead of just a battle, this will be the entire Spanish Civil War. So, if the AI was going to stumble, this was a perfect scenario to test it on. Let us see how much, if any, it has improved and how good WAW does on a large war scenario.

 A quick synopsis of the war is that the Nationalists (Fascist) are fighting the Republicans (Communist, Republicans, and Anarchists etc.). Neither side has a real government at the start and they are both starting from scratch. Both sides do have parts of the Spanish Army, but the Nationalists have a leg up on the Republicans because of Franco's Spanish Moroccan veterans. These will be flown in from Spanish Morocco by JU 52s (Auntie Jus or Iron Annies). Speaking of which, the Spanish Civil War was used as the test bed of almost everything military in World War II. The Nationalists had the support of both Mussolini and Hitler, hence the JU 52s. The Republicans were supplied mostly by the Soviet Union, although they did get recruits from around the globe, along with some very well known authors. Enough of the history, let us go back to the game.

 As I had mentioned, there is a bit of anarchy on both sides in the beginning. The Country is split up into chunks of territory belonging to both sides. Playing as either side, you have to decide which areas you definitely want to keep control of and which you can let go. You are not going to be able to keep it all. Playing as the Republicans, you have to keep the coast so that you can get your supplies from the Soviets. I forgot to mention that the Spanish navy is also split between the two sides. So there is a naval component to the game.

 The game is turn based with area control and movement. It is not a card driven game, but it is augmented by cards that each player has. Some of them can be real game changers, and others just increase odds in battle or movement or some of your forces. The game is not just an Axis and Allies clone and is much deeper than it would seem at first. The rulebook is 116 pages long, so that should give you some idea. The scenarios do not seem 'cookie cutter' in that a tank is just an elephant in the 20th century battles etc. Play is fast and the somewhat small amount of forces (compared to a monster game) enables you to play maybe two scenarios in a gaming session. The price of most of the scenarios is $2.99, with a few larger ones being $4.99. Spain 1936 is the most expensive at $7.99. So you can see a little will go a long way. I was remiss in my first review and did not mention a free scenario about Innsmouth in 1928. Being an alumnus of Miskatonic University, I don't know how I missed it.

 Call me impressed, the game's AI seems to have come a long way, or perhaps just a ton of work was put into this scenario. The AI seems to be much more aware of itself and also of your moves. When I played before, in some scenarios it seemed that the AI was totally oblivious to your moves and its imminent danger. I will be honest and say I played mostly as the Republicans and not very much as the Nationalists. The Republicans are really the underdogs here and I almost always play the underdogs in games. So the scenario is by far the best I have played. I will need to revisit the ones I played earlier and see how much improved they are. There has also been made available a free download of a scenario editor that comes with some preset battles in it. You can now change what you want, and even create your own if you are so inclined. Thank you Strategiae and Avalon Digital for letting me review this very good add on to your game.

My review of Wars Across the World:


BATTLES FOR SPAIN from AVALON-DIGITAL This is a substantial package covering four major battles from the Spanish Civil War.  In e...


For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Spanish Civil War


This is a substantial package covering four major battles from the Spanish Civil War.  In essence, this provides a conventional wargame format of area movement with the digital equivalents of the cardboard counters of the board wargames that I love.  Even in that world of physical components the number of games on the Spanish Civil war are relatively few, so I was very enthusiastic to have the chance to review Avalon-Digital's presentation, especially as three out of the four battles have received treatment in magazine games that I possess.

All four of the scenarios listed below can be played as either the Republican side or the Nationalists against the computer A.I.  Also it's possible to hot seat the first three scenarios by choosing player mode for both sides.  Though on the whole I prefer my two player games to be ftf over a real game board on my table, to offer this option is always an added bonus that I welcome. 

The only battle that doesn't follow this pattern is the final battle, the Ebro.  Here, it's notable that the size of this battle is such that a separate scenario has to be chosen for each side to play against the A.I. and no hot seating is available.

Guadalajara    1937
Teruel             1937
Merida            1938
Ebro                1938

Each scenario has its opening outline of the historical situation and then the next screen details your objectives for winning.

What I particularly like is that each scenario offers a significantly different situation.  In Guadalajara, the Nationalists are attacking to take control of a major road that runs from west to east.  They have to clear a specific portion of the road to win, while the Republicans have to hold on long enough until reinforcements arrive and then try to eliminate enough Italian units for victory.

At Teruel, it is the republicans who're on the offensive, attempting to take the city.  This is very much a battle of encirclement and staving in the defence.

The third scenario, Merida, was the only battle with which I was totally unfamiliar.  We're back on the Nationalist offensive, attempting to close a pocket.  Though sharing some similarities with the previous scenario in its element of encirclement, the nationalists here start from a position where they have far more ground to cover and do not have a focal point to capture.  As a result it plays out quite differently.

Finally, the Ebro is a massive battle with a front line running the whole way from north to south.  It is the major scenario in the foursome and the longest to play.  I've got to say my personal favourites are Guadalajara and Teruel because of their situations, but all four games offer substantial rewards.  In part, this is because the system offers what is the near perfect presentation of all that I look for in a board wargame, but translated into computer format.

Armour, infantry, artillery and air rules are there and even a nod to naval in the Ebro, though this is only in the form of boats for crossing the river! In addition, card play has a significant role without being overpowering.  Each turn you will have a number of cards that you may or in some cases must play.  For example, reinforcements come by card play and are the first phase of a player's turn, weather too tends to be a compulsory play and often there will be at least one card that you will choose to play as it either boosts you in some way or hinders your opponent.  

Typical instances are cards that allow a softening up bombardment or prevent some of the enemy units from moving.  Inevitably some cards will give you bonuses in attack or negative factors on your opponent.  These are features I love to see in games and work very well here to add to the replayability and the uncertainty of every game.

The game sequence is typical IGO/UGO and follows these familiar Phases.

Draw Cards
Naval Movement [Ebro only]
Air Movement [Offensive]
Land Movement
Battles [and possible Breakthrough]
Second Air Movement [Defensive]
End of Turn

Most of the game's computer functions are fairly logical and most can be picked up by trial and error. [I say this as someone who is not by nature led to understanding at a glance computer games.]  However, there is a very good online rules manual that comes to 81 pages which I took the trouble to download and print out.  It is hugely comprehensive to the point of over-repetition at times and lavishly illustrated with screen shots accompanying detailed examples.  Much is largely unnecessary, but it is an excellent back-up for getting into important aspects like combat.

The presentation of the latter on screen is very well executed with both sides units lined up, the Attackers on the left and the Defenders on the right, with a 10 sided dice occupying the centre.  A single roll is compared with each unit's strength and hits and routs duly allocated.  Most combat lasts two rounds, but weather and card play may limit you to a single round.

Here you can see a typical battle showing the details of the leader and the top of the screen and his units lined up below.  A single die is rolled when you click on it and provided the score is equal to or lower than a unit's fire power a hit will be scored or if a one a rout will be the result.  It's worth pointing out that the roll applies to both acting units and defending units.  So though you want to be scoring low, you're going to be taken hits too.  Hence the need to send in strength against weakness, as here where you can inflict up to five casualties as opposed to your opponents one. 
As this illustrates, breakthroughs can also be achieved, as here where the enemy has been totally eliminated.

Always one of the finest aspects, as with any computer war game, is that all the fine details of rule requirements and especially those for combat is handled without you having to do all the maths or check that you've remembered all the rules and any exceptions or special circumstances.  As a result combat flows very swiftly and smoothly. 

By contrast, movement is a much more cumbersome affair and here I would love to have seen the function that I welcome most in all my favourite computer battles, namely that highlighting a unit/s causes the map to illuminate where you can move to.  In Battles for Spain, when you click on an area containing your units, you have first to open an onscreen box to check what units you have.  This is a time-consuming process in itself, though usually unavoidable in games that allow stacking. 

But having to find by trial and error where units can move to does add considerably more time and effort to play.  Fortunately, except for the final Ebro battle, the number of stacks is fairly manageable and so not too onerous.  It is also exactly what I'm used to experiencing in the physical world of board wargames that I'm usually immersed in.

A much simpler phase of the game is the movement of your air units prior to Land Movement.  Rarely do either side have many air units, but I like the additional touch of detail that their inclusion gives and the feel of flying out to engage the enemy.  Air defence is also handled well, as at the end of your turn your planes are automatically returned to base and can then be flown defensively to areas which you judge are likely to receive attacks.

The game offers a nice sense of planning your attacks and making appropriate thrusts against weak points in your enemy's line.  The uncertainty of how your A.I. opponent will respond is a great factor in the game.  Though I certainly haven't played any scenario often enough to comment on replay value, just playing each scenario from both sides has provided more than enough enjoyment to make this a worthwhile buy.  For me just the opportunity to play out and experience these four major battles from the Spanish Civil war is frankly reward enough in itself and so it's thanks too to Avalon-Digital for providing me with that opportunity.

Below is a link to the company's website.


World at War Issue #62 Spanish Civil War Belchite & Teruel by Strategy & Tactics Press From Decision Games  ...

World at War Issue #62 Spansih Civil War:Belchite & Teruel by Startegy & Tactics Press from Decision Games World at War Issue #62 Spansih Civil War:Belchite & Teruel by Startegy & Tactics Press from Decision Games

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Spanish Civil War


 The Spanish Civil War has always intrigued me. Unfortunately, almost all of the books about it spend most of their type on the political history instead of the military history, especially all of the disparate groups on the Republican side. This is a bit strange because this War was used or looked at by the entire world to see what weapons, tactics, and strategy worked. Many countries came away with the wrong answers to the above questions. Some, particularly the Germans, came away with the correct answers to these military questions.

 Looking at this issue of World at War was a bit like going home, and a bit strange. It was like going to see your childhood home after it was entirely renovated. The visual look of the magazine is, in a word, stunning. Some of the maps are actually a full page in size. They are also well marked and easily read. The pictures in the issue are also very well represented. 

 The articles are very well done and full of normal information on the subject. They also have small insets that have incredibly interesting tidbits. I will give as an example of one. On December 31, 1937 four foreign correspondents were following some Nationalist units in a car. The car was hit by artillery and three of the newsmen were killed. The fourth was Harold 'Kim' Philby. Yes, that Kim Philby. I imagine the British government was not that happy he survived in retrospect.

                                          Some Counters

Strategy & Tactics Press is comprised of these four magazines:
   Strategy & Tactics
   World At War
    Modern War
    The new Strategy & Tactics Quarterly

 One thing that Decision Games has implemented that I think is excellent is that you can buy a subscription to get every single article that has been released over these many years. It does not include anything to do with the games, but that is still a stunning amount of military history. At $19.95 for 12 months, it is really a steal. You now get all of the articles from:
 Strategy&Tactics issues 1-300
 Modern War issues 1-19
 World at War issues 1-44

Teruel Map

 The articles in issue #62 include:
  The Spanish Civil War
  War Winner -  Allied Lend-Lease
  Operazione C3 -  The Italian Plan to Invade Malta
  Operation Causeway - Planned Allied Invasion Plan of Formosa-Amoy
  Observation post - Could the U.S. have won the Battle of Wake Island?
  Observation Post - Planed Swedish Invasion of Denmark
  Observation Post  - Russian Donkey the Polikarpov I-16

Belchite map
 The games included are of three battles from the Spanish Civil War: two in 1937,and one from 1938. The battles are Belchite, Teruel, and Alfambra. Both of the battles of Belchite and Teruel occurred because the Republicans were trying to take pressure off the Republican and Basque strongholds in the Northwest of Spain. The Nationalist forces had decided to conquer those areas after their failed attempt to conquer Madrid. Alfambra simulates the last battle for the city of Teruel in 1938.

 The battle areas are both somewhat small, with both of them fitting on a standard 22" x 34" map. One battle is orientated one way of the map and the other is the opposite. They both have their own turn record track etc. The maps are well done with terrain, roads, and towns easy to see and read. The games come with, naturally, a smaller number of counters. There are actually 180 of them. The game uses the 'Fire and Movement System' for its rules. 


 The Sequence of Play:

Movement Phase
Bombardment Phase
Combat Phase
Mobile Movement Phase - (only if the unit did not move in the Movement Phase)
Mobile Combat Phase
 The victory conditions in each game are as follows:

Belchite: You count up the amount of cities/towns that the Republican player controls on the Nationalist side of the front line, then subtract the number of cities/towns that the Nationalist player controls on the Republican side of the front line. If the number is seven or greater the Republican player wins.

Teruel: Whichever side controls the city of Teruel at the end of the game wins.

Alfambra: The Nationalist player must control any five hexes of the North-South road anywhere from hex 2505 to 1717 by the end of turn eight and still hold them at the end of the game.

Belchite Counters (Front)

  The rules are only sixteen pages in length, and the setup and separate battle rules take up four of those. The rules are in color and are well spaced and easy to read. The small maps and low counter density allows players to play multiple times to try out different strategies. Just as it was historically, the battles are a grind for territory. You are not going to be able to do any sweeping blitzkrieg moves (unless your opponent mistakenly allows it). The Spanish Civil War was mostly a replay of World War I with newer armaments. The rules and the units/terrain make the game historically accurate that way. This was why so many countries took away the wrong lessons from this war. The Soviets were very advanced as far as armored warfare for the time. However the Spanish Civil War had them rethink all of their ideas and that is why they fell so far behind the Germans by 1941 (among other reasons). 

Belchite Counters (Back)

 The wargames that have come out of Strategy&Tactics down through the years, and its offshoots, have given me tons of gaming pleasure. This issue is like many others in that respect. Strategy&Tactics has allowed the wargamer to game so many obscure wars and battles that we would have otherwise never seen on our tables. So, thank you for the chance to review this issue, and for all the other great gaming moments since I was a teenager.