New Year, New Projects … or …?

It is now the middle of January 2018 and already over 4% of the year has passed by. Normally at the start of the year I sit down and consider wargaming projects and other items I want to get through in the coming year at the same time reflecting on the previous years efforts. So, what did I achieve in 2017. Pretty much nothing. I did read a few books,  I did clean up and prepare some figures for painting at some time in the future, I had a couple of wargames (DBA in 6mm) with a mate and I finally got off my expansive behind and went to the Makati Marauders and played some boardgames. I also added a little to the lead-pile – mostly in the area of aeronefs and 1/1200 scale coastal ships although there was one 6mm Cold War Commander army added as well. I bought a lot of rare earth magnets too.

Not very much really.

What do I have planned for tonight? Same as every night Pinky, World Domination! Oops, sorry, channeling Pinky and the Brain

Plans for 2018? Paint. Game. Read!

Painting

I have a substantial lead pile here and this includes 2017 purchases as well as stock I brought up from mum’s on my last trip back to Oz. The painting queue starts with completing the painting and basing for the 6mm CWC Danish followed by the 6mm BKCII Italians.

Next under brush is likely to be the 1/1200 scale coastal forces – British and Germans first, then the Italians.

Completing the painting of the BKCII Japanese is the last of the already prepared items to be painted in immediate painting queue.

Preparation and Painting

Now we start to get into the lead-pile in earnest. So many choices here:

  • Imperial Skies Aeronefs
  • 2mm ground forces for Aeronefs
  • 1/3000 scale warships for WW1 (Jutland)
  • 1/3000 scale warships for WW2 (Matapan, Philippine Sea, Bismark, Spanish, Dutch)
  • 1/3000 scale modern naval fleet (Russian)
  • 6mm Punic Wars DBA project
  • Spacecraft
  • 1/2400 ancient naval vessels
  • 1/2400 Napoleonic naval
  • 6mm BKCII Hungarians
  • BKCII Late War Soviets

The list goes on!

Construction

There are a number of kits at home as well – both modern tanks in 1/72 scale and 1/700 scale World War 2 battleships. I would like to get back into modelling again and refresh/rediscover my previous modelling skills.

Reading

I have a fallen behind on my reading rate lately. I want to get back to averaging a book every two weeks. Fiction for relaxation, non-fiction for learning and challenging my thinking.

Gaming

As I have been particularly inert in getting to the local gaming clubs, I need to get off my rapidly becoming more extensive bottom and get to the local club at least once every two weeks.

So, that is the plan for 2018. Somewhat less structured than previous years but a guide to the next few months never-the-less.

Watch this space for updates.

Churchill Tanks – British Army North-West Europe 1944-1945 – Review

When I received a copy of Panther Tanks to look at, I also ask for a copy of a similar publication on Churchill tanks, partly because I had little knowledge of them and partly because I think I will be modelling some in 1/300 scale later this year. I was sent a copy of Dennis Oliver’s “Churchill Tanks – British Army North-West Europe 1944-1945.”

The Churchill was beset with many mechanical problems, brought about by being rushed into production. It was a difficult tank to maintain but its strength was its versatility. The technical section of the book discusses this versatility well outlining the different marks and usage of the vehicle. Not as effective in tank-on-tank combat as the SHerman, it was the versatility of the vehicle that was its greatest strength.

Design of these tanks was commenced in 1939 with the vehicle originally designated the A20, becoming the Churchill as it entered production. Following from the A11, the Matilda and the Valentine, the Churchill was the 4th of the Infantry Tanks developed by the British to fit within the initial British belief in the way war would run (tanks support infantry and breakthroughs exploited by cavalry).

The book itself is short, some 64 pages only but contains a background of the Churchill tank, details of its use operationally, some great photographs and best of all for the modeller, models! The book contains the following chapters:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Army Tank Brigades
  3. Camouflage and Markings
  4. Model Showcase
  5. Modelling Products
  6. 1st Assault Brigade, Royal Engineers
  7. Technical Details and Modifications
  8. Appendix
  9. Product Contact List

This book is primarily written for the modeller and is part of Pen & Sword Books, Tank Craft Range and as such the modelling, detailing and camouflage information is extensive. Oliver presents 12 pages of colour and markings and information of 10 tanks. He then illustrates with colour photographs, builds of 1/35 scale vehicles from different modellers and manufacturers, some from the box others with conversion kits added. The modellers are from different countries and the models are superb.

Oliver then goes on the survey the model kits available and lists in:

  • 1/35 scale – Dragon Models,Tamiya, Italeri
  • 1/56 – Italeri
  • 2/48 – Tamiya
  • 1/76 1/72 – Arifix, Italeri, Revell, Zvezda
  • 1/100 – Zvezda

For the modeller or the wargamer, this is a worthwhile addition to the bookshelf. Colour details are excellent and accurate as are the marking details. I am looking now for both my glue for the model sitting on my workbench as well as hunting around for the wargame vehicles for my late British Army – at least to be targets for the previously mentioned Panthers. Highly recommended and best of all, on sale currently.

Churchill Tanks – British Army, North-west Europe 1944-45
By Dennis Oliver
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Tank Craft
Pages: 64
ISBN: 9781526710888
Published: 4th September 2017

URL: https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Churchill-Tanks-Paperback/p/13919

Recommended for the modeller and the wargamer and best of all, this publication is currently on sale at Pen and Sword Books (January 2017).

When You Are Looking for Another Tank Kit and Fail

USS Tennessee

I stopped into Lil’s Hobby Shop the other day, looking for a 1/72 scale modern French tank but failed on that.

Of course, if you can’t see what you want, then it is very easy to get distracted. Ships, I thought. I have not built a ship in ages.

I noticed that the 1/700 scale Trumpeter kits came with a full hull or a waterline as an alternative.

The Etched Brass Bits

I purchased one.

Actually,  purchased two. The USS Tennessee and HMS Repulse.

The Tennessee is modelled when she had the lattice masts, hence the etched brass bits to the left.

The kits also have quite a bit of detail.

The aircraft, for example, are moulded in clear plastic. Painting carefully will leave a clear canopy.

The aircraft, however, are also moulded with propellers.

I am wondering now why I bought the ships as they will end up being about 20cm long. Also, I will feel I am not doing the kit justice unless I model the sea and antenna wires 😦

Perhaps I should grab a destroyer to built frst to practice ship building skills. Nah! Just go for it!

The HMS Repulse kit is below.

HMS Repulse

An Increase in the Tank Park

I was out of Manila this weekend and discovered a model shop which had a supply of 1/72 scale modern tanks. There were also a few packets of 1/72 scale plastic figures as well but it was the tanks I was interested in.

I picked up a Challenger and a Merkava for the collection. I will get around to doing an unboxing of these later but a quick look has me salivating with the detail.

They go along with the M1 Abrams and the T-72 collection along with the lone T-80 and ZTZ-99.

What I would like to add to round out the modern collection would be a Leopard 2 and an AMX-56 LeClerc.

Now I just need to time to start to sit down and buid some of these (or buy some more early World War 2 tanks).

WIP – 3 Projects Running – Naturally

Like all good wargamers I am quickly and easily distracted by new, bright shiny objects. As a result, I have three projects on the go at the moment.

Only three projects
Only three projects

Firstly are the 20mm World War 2 figures being painted up for Anthony. Today was spent wrestling with the Platoon 20 6-pdr anti-tank gun. Working out the way it all goes together with no reference works was a wee challenge. I spend some time with Mr Google looking for pictures of completed guns in particular to work out how the shields go on the front and how the trails attach to the rear. Currently the first wheel has been attached.

Then there are the 3mm Napoleonics. An infantry brigade and a cavalry regiment ready for sand and then painting.

Lastly I started with Coastal Forces, commencing with S-26, S-27, S-28 and S-29, German Schnellboot. The boats where cleaned up, machine guns attached to the rear and then added to bases. Bases have had some sea effects added using Woodland Scenics Flex Paste. Painting these will be covered in a later post.

Yep. Back into the groove – too many projects, not enough time (and damn, I super glued my fingers so have no fingerprints. It will be challenging using the bio-metric door locks at the office tomorrow!)

La Haye Sainte – 3D Printable Terrain for Waterloo – Kickstarter

Friend Anthony from Singapore has been experimenting with 3D printing. After a couple of false starts he has learned the ILAR* principle. ILAR was necessary because 15mm, 6mm and 28mm are sizes, not scales. Buildings need scales.

Anthony has it right now and has released the 3D printing plans for La Haye Sainte via a Kickstarter. He notes that:

La Haye Sainte is a complete set of 3D printable .STL files that will allow you to print and assemble a model of the farm at the centre of battlefield at Waterloo.

Using contemporary sketches, watercolours and accounts as the basis, (rather than the current state of the farm), the files will include everything you need to print the complete farm buildings, as they were on Sunday 18th July, 1815, and simulate the fire damage to barn that occurred throughout the battle. Where conjecture and/or doubt remains the files will come in several configurations to allow a variety of solutions, and for each wargamer to decide how they want the farm represented.

The basic farm will look like this:

The plan of La Haye Sainte
The plan of La Haye Sainte

Each of the larger farm buildings (Barn, Stables and Main House) will be made with removable roof sections. Since 3D models are scalable, you can print the model to the limits of your printer, though the files will be delivered optimised for 15mm as shown below. Anthony is a wargamer and has worked hard to make the models both accurate and usable, so the final farm will be table and figure friendly, which means no broken bayonets if you put models “inside” the buildings. All pledge backers will receive a link to his research and the conclusions he made from that research when he created the 3D Models, icluding compromises he had to make to ensure the models remained usable and, perhaps more importantly, printable.

15mm Figures stand ready by the gate
15mm Figures stand ready by the gate

I have seen the model and it is indeed a fine piece that will look the business on the tabletop when printed and painted.

Head on over to Kickstarter – la Haye Sainte 3D Printable Terrain for Waterloo. I can thoroughly recommend this.


* ILAR – It Looks About Right – a naval principle from the 20th century.

S-Model ZTZ-99A MBT 1/72 Unpacked

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The Box – slightly damaged

I had plans of doing some painting today however one thing and another conspired to prevent that from happening. I therefore decided to have a look at the contents of a couple of the kits I had acquired recently – sort of get used to the contents before making them.

The Type 99 (Chinese: 99式; pinyin: Jiǔjiǔshì) or ZTZ99 is a Chinese third generation main battle tank (MBT). The tank entered People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) service in 2001. I originally thought the S-Model kit was expensive until I realised that the 1+1 on the box meant that there were two vehicles inside the box.

From Wikipedia: 99A, the Improved Type 99. Prototype testing was underway by August 2007 and believed to be the standard deployed Type 99 variant in 2011; upgradable from Type 99. The improved main gun may fire an Invar-type ATGM. It mounts 3rd generation (Relikt-type) ERA, and an active protection system. Has a new turret with “arrow shaped” applique armor. The larger turret may have improved armour and a commander’s periscope, and the tank may have an integrated propulsion system. Has a semi-automatic transmission.

Once I realised that the number of pieces in the box did not look quite so daunting.

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The Sprues

Two sprues make up most of the parts. As with tanks, the first question is the tracks. Unlike older kits, the tracks here are moulded to some of the rollers with additional tracks to wrap around the idler and the drive sprocket.

The pieces are crisply moulded and appear as though they will be easy to remove from the sprue. I did not notice any flash with a quick look. At 1/72 scale this is a large tank, larger I think than the T-64 in my collection and that I will look at later.

DSC02607
Photo-Etched Parts and the instruction sheet

Perhaps the best part though are the Photo-Etched parts. These are very finely modelled and will add very fine detail to various parts of the tank.

Currently the only users of the type 99A are the People’s Republic of China with 4 battalions of Type 99A (124 tanks) in service as of December 2015.

I am thinking to start this tank (or one of the other ones I purchased) this week.

Overall I like the model and I am looking forward to putting knife and glue to it.

I am also wondering what to do with the second vehicle.

Some More Kits

20160213_234703_HDR
The M4A3E8 Sherman of Korean War vintage

I was out and about the other day. I had to go over the MegaMall in Ortigas City, Metro Manila. Apart from a very useful art supply store on the 4th floor of Mega B that has a complete range of Vallejo Paints amongst others as well as some quite good sable brushes, there is a Lil’s HobbyShop in the basement. This particular branch of Lil’s has a good range of 1/72 scale tanks as well as the more popular larger scales. As I had a Pershing, one of the American Tanks that saw some action in Korea, I thought a Korean War Sherman would be a good addition to the collection.

The Sherman is an older Trumpeter kit and has the stretchable plastic tracks that I hate. The cost of the kit was 330 pesos (about $10 Aussie or US $7.20). I’ll get around to an unboxing soon.

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The soviet JS-3 (Josef Stalin 3) heavy tank

Once I had found the Sherman I then thought that a Soviet JS-3 was in order, in part to keep the theme for heavy tanks of the World War 2/Korean War era. Trumpeter also make a JS-3 and this kit was newer than the Sherman as the tracks are moulded in the same plastic as the model, much easier to deal with.

Given the clean lines of this tank there is not a great deal of detail that can be moulded on but the model looked clean. As with the Sherman, I will unbox it later. The cost of this was also 330 pesos (about $10 Aussie or US $7.20).

20160213_234742_HDR
T-80UD MBT

Model Collect is a new Chinese company producing models. The range was small at Lil’s with about 10 kits in stock. The company tends to concentrate on Soviet/Russian equipment currently with some World War 2 German items.

These kits are magnificent however. The barrel is metal and there are also photo-etched parts to this beastie. The tracks look easy to deal with as well. Again, I will do a full unboxing in the not too distant future.

This kit though contains way more parts than the Trumpeter kits and the detail on these models is superb – in part I guess from the photo-etched pieces.

They are more expensive than Trumpeter as well with this model retailing for 1,598 pesos (about $45 Aussie or $33 US). The price direct from Model Collect for this is about $25 so considerably more than Trumpeter but for a kit that is a quantum leap forward in detail and inclusions.

I am looking forward to building these in the near future.

British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II: Vol 2, Battleships & Aircraft Carriers – a Review

coverI was very much looking forward to my last trip back to Australia. Apart from getting to see mother, I had a review copy of British and Commonwealth Warship Camouflage of WW II: Vol 2, Battleships & Aircraft Carriers (ISBN: 9781848322530) written by Malcolm Wright and published on 23 September 2015 waiting for me. This volume covered Capital Ships, namely Battleships and Aircraft Carriers of the British Commonwealth, something I have had an interest in since reading up on Task Force 57 and so I really could not wait to open the package. Whilst most will recall the British Commonwealth Navies efforts in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, their exploits are less well known in the Indian and Pacific Oceans at the time.

What is also not often realised is that by the end of the Second World War, the United Kingdom had more aircraft carriers under steam than any other navy with the exception if the US Navy. The British Pacific Fleet in 1945 for example consisted of 6 fleet carriers, 4 light carriers, 9 escort carriers and 2 aircraft maintenance carriers, with a total of more than 750 aircraft. It also contained 4 battleships.

HMS Malaya
HMS Malaya

The current volume from Mal covers the Aircraft Carriers and Battleships of the British Commonwealth Fleets, often with their pre-war colours as well as their active service camouflage in the Second World War.

I should state at the beginning that I have known the author, Malcolm Wright, for a number of years and you can see my name on his acknowledgements page, not from any addition to the story of the ships and camouflage he is writing about but more from being his part-time technical geek when things go wrong with the computer when he is working on the drafts.

I mentioned that I could not wait to open the parcel containing the book. Wow! I was impressed with Mal’s first volume but this volume surpasses even the high standard of Volume 1. Perhaps it is because it is a book about the battlewagons and carriers or perhaps it is Mal’s drawing ability and the new tools he is using but this volume now sits on top of my book pile for easy reach when I have an hour spare and a hot cup of lapsang souchong in hand.

The book follows the format of Volume 1, with sections on the Reference Sources Mal has used, Paint Types and Schemes, a glossary of Symbols used with the drawings then the vessels themselves. The 5 chapters covering the ships deal with the World War 1 era battleships and battlecruisers, the modern battleships, the monitors, then aircraft carriers and lastly fleet carriers.

Some of the colour chips
Some of the colour chips

Before starting on the ships, Mal discusses the various paint types and schemes, both the official Admiralty schemes and the unofficial. He also looks at Admiralty special schemes and the Admiralty Standard Scheme. Mal also provides a page covering British and Commonwealth Warship Paints During WWII being a page of paint chips, very useful for ship modellers and wargamers. This is also of interest to those with just an interest in warships to see an example of the colours used on British Commonwealth ships during WWII although as Mal will agree, the colours are at best an approximation of the colours, subject both to the limitations of printing as well as there being no extant example of the colours – see for example the discussion on the Mountbatten Pink colour scheme.

Aircraft gloassary
Aircraft glossary
Gun and equipmwent glassary
Gun and equipmwent glassary

There are two pages of, for want of a better term, a glossary for the drawings. The first covers aircraft symbols used in the book to indicate the aircraft carried by various vessels although the markings and colours may vary. The second page is a glossary of the symbols used for weapons and electronics in the book.

There are multiple views of the different vessels reflecting the changes in camouflage over the years. For examples, HMS Queen Elizabeth is illustrated in 1915 as she appeared when providing bombardment support at Gallipoli, then her 1936 colours, followed by 1941 (port and starboard), 1943 (port and starboard), 1943-44 (port and starboard) and then 1944-5 (port and starboard) – ten illustrations showing the progression of camouflage schemes and colours on this vessel over its service life. This pattern is repeated through the book.

HMS Victorious - 1945
HMS Victorious – 1945

To book not only concentrates on British Commonwealth vessels but also covers those vessels transferred to other navies, for example, the Royal Sovereign, which was transferred to the Soviet Union and was re-christened Archangelsk.

There are top views of some vessels as well. The top views become even more valuable with the aircraft carriers. For example, the illustration of HMS Victorious when she was serving in the British Pacific Fleet.

HMAS Albatross
HMAS Albatross

The book is rounded out with a chapter on the escort carriers, some of the more colourful of the capital ships in the British Commonwealth forces and with a discussion of HMAS/HMS Albatross.

I highly recommend this book and it is available from:

Pen and Sword Books (the publisher)

Amazon 

The Book Bug

How Big is the Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank?

Panther on the left, Pershing on the right and the Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank in the iddle
Panther on the left, Pershing on the right and the Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank in the middle

I was curious about exactly how small the Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank so I grabbed the hulls from two other kits I have here to build. A Dragon Panther on the left and a Trumpeter Pershing on the right.

The Type 95 Ha-Go is in the centre. It is tiny.

It occurred to be tonight how much I like Tamiya modelling tools. The modelling knife has a tab on the side, the only purpose of which an be to stop the knife rolling across the modelling bench. This I appreciate as I have managed to stab myself in the thigh a couple of times in the past as a tool drops from the table and my legs react and snap together before my brain can get the message to the legs of “noooooo!”

I appreciate the forethought Tamiya.