SS-GB

SS-GB

Adapted from Len Deighton’s 1978 alternate history novel, and starring Sam Riley and Kate Bosworth, SS-GB premieres on BBC One on the 19th February 2017.

Produced by Sid Gentle Films Ltd and written by Bafta Award-winners Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, SS-GB is a complex thriller focusing on British Detective Douglas Archer.

Forced to work under the brutal SS in occupied London, Archer is determined to continue to do his job in the service of his country, but against impossible odds.

We first meet Archer in 1941, with the vast majority of England and Wales are under Nazi occupation after losing the Battle of Britain. Pockets of resistance continue to show their defiance against the occupying German forces, but after a German pilot is murdered by a British Resistance fighter, tensions in London could not be higher.

When investigating what appears to be a simple black market murder, Archer is dragged into a much darker and more treacherous world where the stakes are as high as the ultimate outcome of the war. The elusive American journalist Barbara Barga may hold the key – but can he trust her? And when his lover Sylvia endangers her life by bravely making a stand against the oppressive regime, Archer is forced to confront a deeper dilemma. Can he carry out his duty to defend law and order when he is working for the wrong side? What is he willing to risk in the fight against fascism?

The trailer and the images released so far, show a disturbing image of London under Nazi occupation. What may have happened if the proposed Operation Sealion was successful and Britain had lost the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Though most experts agree that there was little or no chance of Operation Sealion ever succeeding, many people have wondered and extrapolated what could have happened if it had indeed taken place and the Germans were victorious.

The background of SS-GB offers a range of gaming scenarios across different kinds of actions and scales. I may explore these in a later post once I have viewed the first few episodes.

Heer 1946

One of the games at the wargames show at Bovington that I did a good look at was this 15mm 1946 game complete with a range of alternate German and Allied tanks that were designed, but either were too late for action, or never got further than the drawing board. I have to admit I never got round to checking what actual models were represented on the table, but there were E-100 and E-50 tanks as well as Panther IIs.

This photograph shows a Sarissa Precision Factory. I really do like this model (and the huge one for 28mm too). Around it are finished and partly finished tanks of a variety of types.

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A large tank on a railway wagon. The table also had a lot of HO 1/87th scale buildings that did not seem out of place on the table. There are a range of HO buildings that would be ideal for 15mm games, especially those of the industrial variety.

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Here is another Sarissa Precision factory with a couple of JagdTigers outside. As with the other, it looks like the RAF has been busy trying to stem the production of these new German tanks.

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Here is a overview of the table. There were TT scale trains, wagons and track (which are just about an appropriate scale for 15mm).

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In the box to the side of the tables were 15mm models of the Black Prince, the Tortoise and Centurion Mk1 tanks.

Tortoise

All of these could be found (for real) in the Tank Museum itself.

The Man in the High Castle

maninthehighcastlemap

Having “splashed” out on the free trial of Amazon Prime to get some Christmas gifts delivered quickly I took the opportunity to watch the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle.

This series based on the book of the same name, is set in a universe where Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan defeated the allies and occupied the United States of America dividing it in to two, the Greater Nazi Reich covers the Eastern half of the United States, the Japanese Pacific States is on the Western seaboard. In between these two occupied areas is a neutral zone, which acts as a buffer between the two superpowers.

In many ways very little has changed in this neutral zone, there are still US propaganda posters on the walls of buildings.

The Man in the High Castle Posters

It also a place where those wanted and on the run can hide. However it is also a lawless place where anyone can pretend to be a lawmaker.

The series is set in 1962, however feels much more like the 1950s, suggesting a cultural stagnation that would have occurred under totalitarian occupation.

The series has a range of opportunities for gaming, in the main skirmish gaming between small forces of regular and irregular squads.

As the American resistance tries to attack a convoy of occupying soldiers in an ambush, the regular forces fight back and try to escape the ambush.

A smuggling operation by the Mafia in New York (or the Yakuza in San Francisco) is busted by the local police supported by regular troops.

There is a cold war between the Germans and the Japanese and there could be border skirmishes between regular forces in the rocky mountains of the neutral zone.

A self-proclaimed sheriff and his deputies in the neutral zone attempt to raid a fortified farm.

Very little information is provided on the military forces, we see light vehicles, but no armour. The Germans have “rocket” planes and supersonic airliners, but not much else is seen in terms of hardware.

The Man in the High Castle

We can assume that there ballistic rockets and it is mentioned that Germany has the atomic bomb, characters in the series talk about how Washington DC was destroyed by a nuclear weapon. One potential scenario could be a skirmish between different forces in the radioactive ruins of Washington DC.

If you have Amazon Prime then I would suggest you check out the series. Having said that the first episode is available for free, so you can see that without any commitment.

There is even a 30 day free trial and you could use them to check out the ten episodes. I am certainly looking forward to the second series, which is due to be released in 2016 (this may mean that I actually take out an Amazon Prime subscription).

Variations on a Whippet

Whippet

As part of their releases for Flames of War The Great War, Battlefront have released a 15mm scale Whippet tank.

Though originally envisioned with a rotating turret, the production model had an armoured housing for three to four 303 Hotchkiss machine guns, which could be relocated between four gun ports. Approved in June 1917, roughly 200 vehicles were produced starting in October 1917.

Unlike the large crew of the Mark IV, the Whippet managed with a standard crew of three: a commander, driver and gunner. Given the gunner was responsible for manning both machineguns (which could point forward, left, right and rear), sometimes a second gunner was squeezed in.

 

It looks like a very nice model and well sculptured. Lots of detail and a good casting.

I do think that this model would make for a great base for vehicles for an alternative Great War. It could be converted into a turreted tank, or a self propelled gun. One other idea is to use the models for A Very British Civil War background. There are quite a few models in the Flames of War range that could be used for a 1920s or 1930s civil war within the United Kingdom.

Dominion – Book Choice

I saw this book in my local branch of WHSmiths.

Dominion

1952. Twelve years have passed since Churchill lost to the appeasers and Britain surrendered to Nazi Germany after Dunkirk. As the long German war against Russia rages on in the east, the British people find themselves under dark authoritarian rule: the press, radio and television are controlled; the streets patrolled by violent auxiliary police and British Jews face ever greater constraints. There are terrible rumours too about what is happening in the basement of the German Embassy at Senate House. Defiance, though, is growing. In Britain, Winston Churchill’s Resistance organization is increasingly a thorn in the government’s side. And in a Birmingham mental hospital an incarcerated scientist, Frank Muncaster, may hold a secret that could change the balance of the world struggle for ever. Civil Servant David Fitzgerald, secretly acting as a spy for the Resistance, is given the mission by them to rescue his old friend Frank and get him out of the country. Before long he, together with a disparate group of Resistance activists, will find themselves fugitives in the midst of London’s Great Smog; as David’s wife Sarah finds herself drawn into a world more terrifying than she ever could have imagined. And hard on their heels is Gestapo Sturmbannfuhrer Gunther Hoth, brilliant, implacable hunter of men . . . At once a vivid, haunting reimagining of 1950s Britain, a gripping, humane spy thriller and a poignant love story, with DOMINION C. J. Sansom once again asserts himself as the master of the historical novel.

I’ve always had a soft spot for this kind of alternate history novel. I’ve not yet had a chance to read it, but the blurb sounds good.

Buy Dominion from Amazon.co.uk

Buy Dominion from Amazon.com