Boys Own Battleships – Book Review

20160518_211843[1]Pen & Sword Military have produced the first volume of what will be a wonderful series of books. This is British Warship Recognition – the Perkins Identification Albums originally written/illustrated by Richard Perkins. This is Volume 1 dealing with Capital Ships 1895-1939 (ISBN 9781848323827).

First off I must note that this book is not for everybody. It is a book that you will either love or “just not get”. The older reader (and I count myself in that group) who can remember part of their childhood being spent with an exercise book, coloured pencils and a book on, say German World War 2 aircraft and who then spent hours redrawing the aircraft from the pictures in the book will “get” thins book. I can understand what Perkins was attempting. Had I been in his position and possessed half his talents I would probably have done the same thing.

Perkins was a keen amateur photographer and he photographed and ended up with one of the largest collections of photographs of warships. His collection of photos was bequeathed to the National Maritime Museum where it can still be seen today and where it forms the core of the historic photos naval section. Whole he was photographing he found many photographs were neither identified nor accurately dated. He then decided to compile an album of his own drawings incorporating as much detail as possible on the individual ships. He really looked closely at the details, the differences between ships of the same class and then differences in a vessel over time.

This project grew into an enormous resource covering virtually every Royal Navy ship from 1860 to 1939, when security restrictions forced Perkins to stop work.

The book is, in essence, a photographic reprint of Perkins’s original art books where he set about to draw and paint the British fleet. He then noticed over time that vessels changed – davits were moved forward, funnels thinned or thickened, smaller calibre weapons moved around the vessels, masts removed or changed and so on.

20160518_211937[1]He then decided to paint the differences in the vessels as he saw them. The example I selected is five slightly difference drawings of HMS Agincourt seen to the right.

You will notice that I do not have any scanned images to illustrate but rather photographed off my phone. There is a reason for this. The book is big. A page was bigger than my scanner plate. I could not sit back in my favourite chair with this book in my lap. My lap is not big enough. To look through this I had the book placed on a table and work from there.

The book however in and of itself is superb and the drawings speak for themselves. Younger readers may not understand the significance of this work but all will be able to appreciate the art involved. This book belongs in the collection of any naval enthusiast or historian. Best of all, it is the first of 8 volumes. The next volume is due for release in September this year – it will deal with Armoured Ships 1860-1895, Monitors and Aviation Ships. I for one will be interested int he aviation ships extant before 1895.

As to Perkins’s first volume. One word.

Magnificent!

 

Images of War – Two Books Reviewed

SCAN0015Two more books from Pen & Sword Military came into my hands recently. These are both in the series of Images of War designed to provide a general military history of a war or campaign with an emphasis on contemporary photographs. The ones I have seen have concentrated on the Eastern Front of World War II, although other theatres are covered as well.

The first of the additions to my collection was the Battle for Kharkov 1941-1943 written and compiled by Anthony Tucker-Jones (ISBN 9781473827479).

By the time of the Battle for Kharkov the titanic struggle between Germany and the USSR was well underway with both Hitler and Stalin does their best to stymy their professional generals – one by interfering micro management, the other by bloody pogroms eliminating generals that were perceived as a threat.

SCAN0011Kharkov was the site of four battles during World War 2. The first was when the Germans took Kharkov, but were too slow to prevent the Soviets moving the tank factory  the home of the T34 tank. The second and third battles were unsuccessful attempts by the Soviet forces to recapture Kharkov and the fourth, after the Germans loss at Kursk, finally saw Kharkov liberated and back in Soviet hands.

Most of the photos in this collection have come from the Scott Pick WWII Russian Front Original Photo Collection which consists of over 2,500 photographs, not only of soldiers and tanks but also of buildings and civilians. There are a lot of inspiring photographs in there for the modeller and wargamer.
The second Images of War has the general title of Hitler versus Stalin – The Eastern Front 1941-1942 – Barbarossa to Moscow. This volume was written and compiled by Nik Cornish (ISBN 9781783463985).

Mongol in Russian Service - a German POW
Mongol in Russian Service – a German POW

This volume is a more general volume than the Kharkov one and covers the first two years on the Eastern Front with a fine collection of photos.

Included in the photos on this volume are lend lease tanks in Soviet service (see the image of the M3 Grant below) including American and British tanks.

Also included are images of the French Hotchkiss H-35 pressed into service with Souma tanks in German Panzer Battalion 211. About 100 French tanks were pressed into German service and for me it is a good excuse to purchase some more models.

One of my interests has been the Battle of Khalkin-gol (Nomonhan) where the Soviets and Mongolians defeated the Japanese and Manchurians. Also of interest were the Korean soldiers captured by the Soviets from the Japanese and pressed into service, only later to be captured by the Germans and then the Americans.  The blog post here, Korean Soldiers in WW2 German Army, tells tha tale.

Central Asian (maybe Kazakh or Mongol) in Russian Service
Central Asian (maybe Kazakh or Mongol) in Russian Service

I was also aware of the Mongols having marched into Berlin with the Red Army towards the end of the war. This is highlighted by the T34/85 tank donated by the Russians to the Mongols and on a pedestal and permanent display in Ulaanbaatar at the foot of Zaisan.

It was then interested to see the next two photos. The first is clearly a Mongol, also captured by the Germans. Some of the captured troops from the more disaffected areas of Central Asia were pressed into German service, the others were parked in concentration camps.

Hotchkiss H-35 tanks in German service
Hotchkiss H-35 tanks in German service

The next figure down is also from Central Asia but his nationality is less clear. He appears to a Kazakh or similar.

M3 Grant tanks used by the Soviets
M3 Grant tanks used by the Soviets

These two books are a great addition to my World War 2 library and provide wonderful evidence for my having a German tank battalion of Hotchkiss and Souma tanks facing off against Soviets using M2 Stuarts and M3 Grants.

The things I enjoy mostly about this series are the photographs. The books are well illustrated and provide inspiration for modellers and wargamers as well as providing source material or evidence for the more serious student of World War II history. Most of the photos were new to me and this series provides good value for money. They are available in traditional softback bindings as well as eBooks. Recommended!

German Battlecruisers – Book Review

9781848321816The good folk at Pen & Sword Military sent me a care package recently with four books in a very large package. I will look at the others later but the first book to take my interest is ShipCraft 22 dealing with German Battlecruisers.

This book provides a useful companion to the modeller when engaging in a build of one of these vessels, however the images of Jim Baumann’s scuttled Hindenburg model in 1/700 scale alone is worth getting the book for!

The ShipCraft range of publications are a combination of contemporary photographs coupled with colour references for paint schemes and a critical review of available model kits. In short, they are the type of publication aimed at the ship modeller or perhaps naval wargamer to help get the colour and appearance of their models correct (or at least to the stage of “that looks about right”).

The publication would also be useful to the naval enthusiast as well although to be honest, if looking for information on the vessels, the first book I would reach for when looking for would be my copy of Conway’s. If looking to paint some German Battlecruisers, then this publication would be first to come to hand.

The book runs to 64 pages, a size familiar to modellers and. There are sections in the book covering Design; Careers; Model Products; Modelmakers’ Showcase; Camouflage Schemes; Appearance; Plans; and Selected References.

The vessels covered in the book are Blücher; Von Der Tann; the Moltke class (Moltke, Goeben); Seydlitz; and the Derfflinger class (Derfflinger, Lützow). Mention is also made of the Battlecruisers that were not completed.

The Design and Career chapters provide a reasonable summary, largely covering the service life of the vessels and briefly the battles they fought. There are some useful comparison tables as well. The table looking at the armament characteristics for example is quite useful and illustrates the difference in range for guns of the same weight (see the slight range differences between the 11” L/45 and the 11” L/50 guns).

The next chapter deals with both the model kits available in plastic, resin, paper and white metal along with extras for gilding the lily on those kits. The extras discussed include photo-etched parts, wooden decks, brass gun barrels and masts to add a greater level of realism to the models. A fair roundup of the kits available is given.

Next is for me the pièce de résistance, the chapter dealing with the work of many modellers. Work by the likes of Jim Baumann (perhaps the best ship/water modeller I have seen), Horst Luecke (I can’t believe it is a paper model), Kostas Katseas, and Nick Dogger amongst others. Baumann’s scuttled Hindenburg is special as well as the 1/700 scale crew on Dogger’s Lützow.

Two colour illustrations follow, one of the Derfflinger in standard SMS colours circa 1917 and the other showing a camouflage pattern for the Yavuz (Goeben) circa 1942. There is then a discussion on the Appearance of each of the vessels noting the differences between sister ships. The section also discusses camouflage and the lack of it on German vessels in the First World War noting that the standard scheme for vessels was based around light grey. The book finishes with a number of plans and references.

This book provides a useful companion to the modeller when engaging in a build of one of these vessels, however the images of Jim Baumann’s scuttled Hindenburg model in 1/700 scale alone is worth getting the book for! The authors are Robert Brown and Steve Backer with George Richardson drawing the plans and the colour artwork. It is published by Seaforth Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84832-181-6. The ShipCraft series of books are designed to provide information for modellers and enthusiasts.

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.

DSC02606
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.

20160213_234725_HDR
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.

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.

Another Kit

Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank
Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank

I had to go collect my laptop from a PC repair after I dropped it at home here a while back. Unfortunately the hard drive was spinning up when I dropped it so the drive had to be replaced. The repair was going to take about a week but I needed a laptop for work so I bought a cheap one to use and put this repair off until the next payday.

I collected it a few days ago. The repair shop is in the Greenhills area of Manila in V-Mall. Also in V-Mall is a good model shop. I saw the Dragon kit of the IJA Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank. I have some in 1/285 scale so thought it would be nice to get one in 1/72 scale as well.

Big Box for small tank
Big Box for small tank

When I got it home I had to have a look inside (actually, a quick inspection was made at the shop to ensure it was all there before bringing it home). The model is tiny, especially when viewed inside the packaging. You can see how tiny the hull is in respect of the box in the picture to the right.

The parts look crisply cast though and I like the use of etched brass for the exhaust cover on the tank. I’m looking forward to building this wee beastie. I will document the build when I do it.

This is not the start of a new project

Everyone should have a Pershing!
Everyone should have a Pershing!

Not at all.

It’s just that I was at Mega Mall on Saturday looking to see if I could expand the memory in my laptop (I can’t  – brickbats to Asus) and after failing at that, madam suggested slipping down to the lower ground floor. There is a Lil’s Model Shop there with an extensive range of Tamiya kits and modelling equipment as well as Trumpeter, Fujimi and others.

It was there that two things caught my eye. One was the 1/72 scale M26E2 Pershing Heavy Tank.

The Pershing was the first operational heavy tank of the United States Army. It was designed in World War II and saw a little action there.

The M26 was supposed to be an improvement of the M4 Sherman and although it was heavier and better armed, and indeed a match for the German Tiger I and Panther tanks, it was pretty unreliable mechanically. Its most famous use in World War II was with the 9th Armored Division and the dash to take the Ludendorff Bridge during the Battle of Remagen.

Pershings also were active in the Korean War, where they were superior to the T34/85s used by the North except that they suffered in the hilly terrain. They were replaced by the M46 Patton.

It will look good displayed next to the Panther I already have. So, you can see my interest.

Always was interested in Aerosans
Always was interested in Aerosans

Speaking of interests, I’ve always had a interest in some of the more esoteric Soviet vehicles from both the Winter War and World War II. In this case it is Aerosans.

This model, the NKL-26 was an armoured aerosan based on an earlier vehicle, the NKL-6 (OSGA-6). It was constructed from plywood and protoected with 10mm armour plate to the front. Armarment was a 7.62mm machine gun in a ring mount. It was powered by an M-11G aircraft engine.

There were two crewmen and could carry four ski troops riding outside the vehicle on its skis or towed behind.

Detailed painting instructions, in colour. Paint it white!
Detailed painting instructions, in colour. Paint it white!

The Trumpeter kit is 1/35 scale and includes two crewmen.

Also included is the coloured colour painting guide. Painting guide? Paint white 🙂

I’m really looking forward to building this model as it covers a vehicle not often seen. I am also looking forward to trying my spray gun out on this – after all, how wrong can a bloke go spraying white?

The big surprise for me with this kit was the number of etched brass parts included. Now I am really going to need to pay attention during the building.

I think next I’ll pick up some 1/100 scale aircraft next, just to relax with mind 😉

And as I say in the title, this is not the start of a new project or interest – just a bloke building a couple of models on a cold Manila evening!

Damn, there are a butt-load of etched brass fittings!
Damn, there are a butt-load of etched brass fittings!

Water Effects

As many of you may be aware, I have been trying to experiment with water effects for the ships – and so far have been unsuccessful. I will catalogue the list of failures later. In the meantime, searching for a how-to on water effects (after all, everything in the Universe can now be found in (Google) I came across this YouTube video. It is very useful and covers the use of Vallejo’s Water Effect. I’m still not sure for my wee little ships but there were some useful techniques covered in this video. It is in German (I think – could not tell accurately as I had the sound turned down low) but the sub titles are in English and it is an easy to follow, good description of the process.

Straight Lines and Deck Markings

The first attempts at the deck marking techniques - a prototype in oh so many ways
The first attempts at the deck marking techniques – a prototype in oh so many ways

In the The PLAN – the first ship completed on 7 July 2013 I showed some pictures of the Liaoning, the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, modelled in 1/3000th scale. Mark (amongst others) was particularly interested in the nice straight line deck markings. Mark noted:

Hi Ian,

I have been admiring your painting of the Liaoning. Particularly the deck markings.

I have tried to get straight lines on 10mm British tanks for the Caunter colour scheme and gave up.

How did you get the deck markings so perfect. Is there a particular technique?

Cheers

Mark

I must admit straight up front and give credit where it is due. Me good mate Douglas pointed me in the right direction over a couple of emails. I also practised and refined the process. The Admiral Gorshkov up and to the left is the first attempt at marking. It used just the white marker I’ll describe below and some aggressive painting techniques. It produced a fine result and works for what may become the basis of another fleet, perhaps, in the future.

Pilot's eye view
Pilot’s eye view

For the Liaoning (shown to the right with the Pilot’s Eye View), the deck markings were made 5 ways, three of them involving a short ruler or straight edge. Starting with the easiest:

  1. The long straight white lines. These were made with a correction pen. Remember back in the dim, dark days of the past before word processors we needed to use an arcane machine called a typewriter (perhaps you are not old enough to remember typewriters – I am sure there is something in Wikipedia about them). When a typing error was made we used “liquid paper” to correct the error. In modern stationary stores you can get a correction pen for fine correction. This is like a normal pen but give it a vigorous shake first, a wee squeeze, lay a straight edge down and hey presto – dead straight white lines. You may need to run it once or twice along to get a consistent opacity but a little practice and you’ll the there. Why correction fluid – well, there is nothing special about it, it is really just another white paint. Lastly, there may be a bit of leakage under the ruler as you draw the lines – that is easy enough to touch up with the surrounding colour later (in this case the deck grey). To enhance that further, I could have run a second line thickening a little and then painted out the grey sections you see on the actual vessel.
  2. The dashed white line was easy enough to do as well. Paint a long straight line with the correction pen, then with the grey deck colour, paint the grey bits out to give the dashed line.
  3. The yellow dashed line was a touch more challenging. First the line was drawn in solid white using the correction pen. I then used Games Workshop’s old Ivanden Darksun foundation colour to paint over the white. Having a straight white line there meant it was easy to paint “inside the lines”. Any paint over the edge of the white would be touched up with grey later. Next was a yellow coat over the Ivanden Darksun. Last step was to paint the breaks in with grey and touch up any paint in the wrong spot.
  4. The red lines were just a .005 red fine liner pen and a small ruler/straight edge.
  5. The helicopter landing circle was painted the same way as the yellow dashed line, just all freehand.

The tools were some fine liner pens as well as the correction pen. The two photographs below show the pens I used.

The pens I'm using for fine lines
The pens I’m using for fine lines
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The pens with a couple of tops off to get an idea of the tips