Sunday 12 February 2017

Where have all the nuclear wargames gone?

The world keeps changing and the war planners of the UK are now facing an old threat. On the extremes of the normal distribution of potential futures is a limited nuclear strike on major British cities. London, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester. 

Of course, it would take an unexpected confrontation rapidly escalating into war in which the other side, faced with loosing, using a limited nuclear strike. Inevitably old nuclear weapons, poorly maintained launched by a reluctant armed forces (who would not their home country to be nuked until the rubble of their cities glowed) would not be a comprehensive attack, but some warheads would explode and some cites would be partially devastated. There is even the possibility that an American ally, such as the UK, would be the target of the strike. This would make the point to NATO while hoping the USA will not then use nuclear retaliation just because an ally was hit. Would they risk Washington because Milton Keynes had been blown up?

While the UK obviously has the strategic warfighting plans from the Cold War, what it does not have is a complete collection of the wargames run at regional and sub regional level. During the Cold War, game after game was run about managing the situation up to, including the attack and post-strike recovery. The last alert was in 1991 during the 1st Gulf War. A cadre moved into the bunkers, small arms were issued, landmines and barbwire were moved to the key sites. The bunkers would have been operational within 1 hour and fully manned in 4, perhaps less. 

However, the Cold War was over and Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister decided that the UK was no longer under threat of attack and dismantled the bunker system. The problem is the local warplans that had been developed over the decades were largely typed, but a few were produced using the early word processors (Word Star etc…) and they were largely lost. Some no doubt reside in the secret government archives which exist around the UK (but not in Scotland), but with few archivists and practically no librarians, the archives are stuff full of the good, the bad and the ugly in impenetrable mountains. 

I remember seeing a few selling on ebay and I came across a few in long ignored filing cabinets in bunkers, but I have no copies. 

So if anyone has hidden away regional and sub regional plans from these wargames (or exercises) about how society would be managed when facing the worst, do let me know. At the moment I have none and I would like to produce a book documenting these lost wargames from the Cold War.

Thursday 2 February 2017

New book on Lionel Tarr's Wargame and Bruce Quarries Tank Battles in Miniature Vol 5 Arab Israeli Wars 1948-1973

Lionel Tarr's Modern Wargaming Rules 1939-1945  
Lionel Tarr (1920-2003) is widely recognized as the first modern wargamer, modern being 1939-1945. He first came to prominence when his rules were published in 1962 in Donald Featherstone’s classic book, War Games.  

This book contains much previously unpublished material about the Tarr wargame and his epic decade long WWII Eastern Front Russian Campaign. This wargaming campaign was almost as well-known at the time as Tony Bath’s Hyborian campaign. 

This book includes:

     The previously unpublished Tarr wargaming rules he first drafted in 1947 and modified until 1973.

     Donald Featherstone’s 1962 summary of the rules
     Reflections on the rules
     Tarr’s Armies: Russian and German Army ORBATs           
     Solo Wargaming Eastern Front Campaign             
     Wargaming the Battle of Stalingrad         
     Air warfare on the Eastern Front
     Various articles by Tarr
     A.W. Saunders (Tarr’s cousin) modern warfare rules from 1957
     Tarr’s Napoleonic Rules

I have also republished the classic Bruce Quarrie book on the Arab Israeli Wars

Bruce Quarrie (1947-2004) was a prolific author and military historian. He wrote over forty titles, mostly on the Second World War, and edited many more. Len Deighton described him as "one of our most meticulous and well-informed historians”.

This outstanding work is a detailed introduction to the Arab-Israeli Wars between 1948 and 1973. That area saw four major campaigns, of which those of 1967 and 1973- the so-called ‘Six Day War’ and ‘Yom Kippur Wars’- are of particular interest to wargamers. These wars involved large tank battles with Centurions, Pattons and M-60’s vied for battlefield supremacy with Arab T-54’s and T-62’s. It provides detailed technical information on the weapon systems deployed by the Arab and Israeli forces. Their organization and tactical use, together with numerous suggestions for their accurate recreation in miniature. The book includes wargaming rules for these conflicts. 
 Bruce Quarrie’s classic book on wargaming the Arab-Israeli Wars has been reproduced by the History of Wargaming Project as part of the Tank Battles in Miniature Series.