Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Burning Metal

On Sunday Ninjasaurus Rex and I grabbed a quick game of Rapid Fire, I told him to come over at one, but true to form he arrived at two... Dane was also here, he was borrowing some music from my large collection, but I think he was angling for a game, or at least to watch us play. He kept chiming in with tactical advice, talk about a back-seat driver...

Saturday, 27 July 2013

A finally finished Japanese Battalion

After a discussion on TMP about the size of Japanese Units in WW2, I added a fourth company to my already existing battalion of three companies to bring it up to proper strength.

So here is the entire four company strong battalion, along with 70mm gun support. There is an awful lot of firepower in this unit. It's going to be interesting to see how the British stand up to them (when I buy and paint some...):

Obviously only painting eleven men took a lot less time than the whole battalion so I did these two 70mm Mortars for support as well:

OK, that's all for now as I am busy working on my dissertation, I think things may slow down over the next couple of months as I head towards the end of the line with the MA in September, but I'll keep posting stuff as I will need a break from chemical warfare every now and then...

Also, if you are interested in Prisoner of War camps and archaeology, then my company, Elmet archaeology, are excavating on a Prisoner of War camp at Hickleton Hall, near Doncaster. We have a daily blog which details all the interesting finds and features we are working on, take a look HERE.

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Armour of God

As part of the on-going Japanese force I am currently working on, I finished these two 15mm Type 97 Chi-Ha tanks recently. They are by Command Decision, and are quite nice little models. These were bought a long time ago, before Skytrex hiked up their prices to try and kill off their 15mm ranges.

As armour was thin on the ground during the Malay/Singapore campaign I think two will be enough for me for now. 

They were painted with Vallejo paints and I used the following: Base coat: 833 German Camo Bright Green, Camouflage Stripes: 914 Green Ochre, 872 Chocolate Brown and 916 Sand Yellow. With the usual Khaki dry-brushing and rust for weathering.

Also this week at work someone brought in a shell for me to identify. I wasn't sure myself so I asked some more in the know and it appears that it is a 3.7cm AT shell from WW1. It's inscribed with Mesopotamia 1917-18, a Turkish Star and Crescent Moon and the name A.W. Hurtley. Here it is along with Hurtley's war medal:

I have a pretty enjoyable job sometimes...

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A 15mm Rising Sun

OK, before we start, here is the disclaimer: these were not inspired by Battlefront releasing their new Japanese ranges...

No, let me tell you a story. In 2008 I worked in Singapore (for a Unexploded Ordnance Demolition company as a surveyor, but that is ANOTHER story) and whilst I was there I did some research on the battles of Singapore and the Malaysian campaign in general. I knew nothing of the battles in the Far East then, and I only know a little bit more now, but I spent each weekend visiting the battlefields and museums of the island and trying to learn as much as I could.

When I returned to the UK I was inspired to recreate the campaign using Rapid Fire! and so I purchased some Japanese infantry, tanks and guns from Command Decision. As I said, this was five years ago and they have languished in their box until now. I was initially daunted by the prospect of painting a lot of infantry, but I pulled my socks up and cracked the whip until they were finished. I have enough figures for three battalions, this is the first battalion crossing a river (jungle haze provided by the hottest day of the year and a crappy phone camera...):

I had searched around for organisation charts for the Japanese in Rapid Fire! and came across the following organisation on the internet (I have since lost the address, having printed them out five years ago):

HQ = CO = 3 Figures
3 x Rifle Company each with 11 figures = 1 x Type 89 Knee Mortar
1 x Type 92 70mm Gun
2 x Type 92 'Juki' MMG

It seemed legitimate to me, there is a lot of fire power with those three mortars and large companies.

The problem is, I asked the question of Japanese organisations on the Oracle, AKA The Miniatures Page. I was told that I needed another rifle company in the Battalion and they should be 12 men, rather than 11. This extra company will be added in time, but I can argue that as the Japanese extended their supply lines to breaking point during the campaign it accounts for the fewer men in a company.

I also found a source for painting them (again, I have lost the internet address, unfortunately), which consited of the following Vallejo Paints: Uniform Base Coat: Chocolate Brown 872 highlighted with Green Ochre 914. Leather equipment and shoes: Beige Brown 875, Helmet: British Uniform 921 and Canvas Equipment: Stone Grey 884. You can highlight these by adding white, but I only did this to the helmets and it didn't make much difference overall.

The thing I struggled with the most was the skin tone. Having also worked in Japan I knew vast differences in skin colour, like everywhere else, but I wanted something that didn't look 'European'. I settled on this combination, Humbrol Flesh for the base coat, highlighted with a mix of Green Ochre, White and Humbrol Flesh. It seemed to work and gave me a 'honey' like colour of sunburned soldiers.

I also painted up three other 70mm Guns ready for the other battalions when they are finished, which may not be for a while yet. Here they are with their FOOs (I'm not sure of the Japanese for Forward Observation Officer):

I have no opponents for them yet, except some Americans which I was once upon a time going to use for Normandy, they need rebasing and painting to a better standard so they won't be ready for a while. I have had my eye on Peter Pig's 8th Army Figures, so I can do the Malay campaign properly, but that is something to consider for the future.

Thanks to the people who compiled the painting guide and the organisation tables, whom ever you are!

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Dulce Et Decorum Est and all that crap...

As in my previous post about the British half bases for Square Bashing, I sat down last Saturday and painted twelve German half bases as well. I'm pretty pleased with how they came out:

The front four are Stormtroopers, as designated by their camouflaged helmets and sacks for hand grenades. The Vallejo colours I used (more to remind me, than tell you...) are tunics/trousers/puttees: German WW2 FeldGrau, with white added to the base colour for the tunics as the trousers would have been a thicker material and less prone to fading. A stripe of red was also added to the trouser legs; rifles/water bottle/wood: Chocolate Brown, highlighted by adding white; helmet/gasmask cannister: German Grey, again with white added for highlights; entrenching tool pouch: Leather Brown; Great coat/bread bag: Khaki, highlighted with Buff. The Stormtrooper helmets were painted with Humbrol Dark Green base with patches of Chocolate Brown and Buff added over the top.

As with the British ones they fit in well with the aesthetic of the rest of the battalions, as shown here, along with my lone A7V:

Short and sharp this post but I wanted to get these out of the way before I start clearing the rest of my lead pile, including some Japanese that I have had waiting since 2008...

Saturday, 13 July 2013

I Broke My Shapeways Virginity

I have wanted to buy some Shapeways 3D printed aircraft for quite a while now. I became aware of them about a year or so ago but have been put off by mixed reviews of the quality of prints. Another factor that put me off was the price of the postage, to the UK it cost almost as much as another aeroplane for shipping! However, having sold a few things on EBay recently, I decided to take the plunge and break my Shapeways virginity. I've always been a big fan of the Bristol F2B 'Fighter' and it looked unlikely that Ares would release 1/144th scale models of the Brisfit before about 2056, so I thought they'd be a good tester for the Shapeways plunge. Kampfflieger has a Brisfit and it has good reviews, so a few clicks with trembling hand and three were ordered!

I've got to say, I was very impressed when they arrived, which was only about a week after my order. I'd also read a lot about how they had to be cleaned up and primed before they would be of any use. In this case, these didn't. The 3D printing technique marks can be seen on the model, but it's not a massive problem given their small size. Also, I painted them directly with my normal Vallejo paints with no primer and there was no problem at all (Brown Violet, for the upper surfaces, Iraqi Sand for the lower surfaces and Beige Brown for the wood):

The brilliant crew are by Peter Pig, the excellent decals are from Dom's Decals (The Australian Sopwith Snipe set...). I haven't weathered them, as my WoW planes are not weathered, so I didn't want these to stand out. As the detail is good on them, there may not be much need to highlight ailerons and such anyway, so I'll probably leave them alone. Next thing to do was to glue a peg on the base so they will attach to the WoW bases:

And here they are in action against a trio of dirty Fokkers, flying in circles to protect each other:

I'm really happy with how these turned out and when I sell more things on EBay, I plan on getting more of these Shapeways aircraft to fill in the gaps of my WoW collection!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Follies of Youth...

My youth was spent making models for the most part, I must have made hundreds over the years, in various scales and from various manufacturers. Long before I discovered wargaming I belonged to a local scale modellers club and would spend every Saturday as high as a kite on the fumes off polystyrene cement. To be honest, little has changed...

Some of the kits I built as a youth remain in my parent's loft, which also served as my gaming room for many years. Recently I had a look at what was left of must have been a vast collection of models and took a few pictures. Let's call this the archaeology of modelling...

A trio of not very airworthy biplanes is all that remain of several kits of WW1 aircraft I bought a good few years ago. A Sopwith Camel, sans upper wings, along with a Spad and Fokker Triplane, both sans undercarriage. I have no idea who these are by, or when they were built, but probably about ten years ago...

A Messerschmidt ME262, again, manufacturer unknown. This is in relatively good condition despite at least a decade of dust covering it.

At some point I hit a Star Wars phase around my early Twenties, I think; here is Boba Fett's Slave 1. I'm not sure of the scale or manufacturer again...

TIE interceptor. An easy paint job; grey and black.

An even easier paint job; grey. An AT-ST, which I used in Star Wars Miniatures Battles, hence the Citadel miniatures bases on the feet.

Continuing with the Imperial theme, an AT-AT with no attempt at weathering at all...

And here's a big grey block of cheese:

Now, just like archaeology, we start to delve deeper into my ancient past... Here is a Johnny Alpha figure from the 2000AD comic strip Strontium Dog. This is a Games Workshop figure probably from the late eighties when they made figures with relatively realistic proportions. I have actually rescued this figure and will repaint him in due course.

Our journey back through the mists of time reveals this 1/72nd scale Panzer 1a. This is an interesting piece as I entered it in a modelling competition and even got a silver prize for it. I must have been about ten or eleven when I made this, so we are talking about 28 years ago... The fact that it had the engine and transmission inside gave me the idea to do it as a cutaway, it's a pity I had no other colours than silver to paint the metal parts.

And finally at the bottom of the pit of kits, under the rubble of my past, I unearthed my attempt at German two-tone camouflage on a 1/35th Tamiya Panzer IV when I was about ten years old.

Well, that's all that's left of the models of my youth, now if only I could find a set of photos of the Battle of Waterloo I once re-fought with half painted Esci figures, the circle of shame will be complete.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Pilots, Planes and Labels

As part of the Pfalz build I bought a 1/48th scale pilot to mount on the base (when it arrives...), it's a resin piece from Masterclub, a company I had not heard of until I searched for pilot figures. I'm pretty pleased with how he turned out:


I painted the scarf red to match the colour scheme of the aircraft, which is now weathered and finished, and as I said, just waiting to be mounted on a wooden base (not a book on chemical warfare...):

Also if you follow this blog you will already have seen I base all my vehicles for gaming with. There are several reasons that I do this, such as making storage safer (they don't knock against one another in the boxes), there is less damage to the vehicle if they are picked up by the base during games, it brings the vehicles up to the same height as the figures; which are also on bases and I think it makes the look more like gaming pieces, from an aesthetic point of view.

One other reason which I discovered recently was that I can add all the information to the base to make gaming easier. Rather than looking down a list of vehicles with different stats, now I can just turn the tank over and it is all there on the base:

The information consists of: Name of the Vehicle, road speed/off-road speed, armour class, gun information.

I originally just had the name of the vehicle on the base, but this still led to confusion as Ninjasaurus Rex doesn't know the differences in the marks of some AFVs. This way we have all the information he needs and he can stop asking me what kind of tank they are...

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Minairons 15mm Panzer 1a

Another thing I picked up at Triples were these Minairons Panzer 1a in 15mm. I wanted them to complete my Panzer family and also just to see what they were like as models. The first thing that struck me (besides the price: £19.99 for five! Not a great deal with five Panthers coming in at the same price for five from PSC!) was the size of the box:

Monday, 1 July 2013

The Pity of War

I sat down on Friday and Saturday night and plowed my way through these latest additions to my Peter Pig British World War One army. I previously made some casualty/morale markers for the Second Edition of the game but then when Ninjasaurus Rex and I played a tester game, quickly realised these were actually inadequate in the game except as morale markers.

When a unit takes damage one of their bases is halved and it got confusing during the game working out what was a half base marker and what was a morale marker, so I was puzzling how to show a half base without cutting all my existing bases in half. Then I had a brainwave, as I have twelve battalions, I'd only ever need one half base per battalion, therefore I'd only need to create twelve half bases! So before I knew it, I'd ordered enough figures from Peter Pig to make the half bases, twenty four figures in total, or three mixed packs. I then added some spare casualty figures, to show they were damaged bases, and Ta-Da:

I used the following Vallejo paints over an undercoat of black: Tunics/trousers/puttees: Brown Violet, highlighted with English Uniform. Packs/SBR: Khaki highlighted with Buff. Helmets: Bronze Green, highlighted by adding white to the base colour. Rifles: Chocolate Brown, highlighted by adding white to the base colour. As these are 15mm I rarely paint more than one highlight, it's the two foot rule; if they look good from two foot away, they'll look good enough on the table.

And here are two battalions advancing under a barrage, one has lost one and half bases, the following unit; half a base.

I'm happy with them, they retain the aesthetic of my original battalions and I didn't have to cut anything up!

Speaking of casualties, today is the 97th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. That particular Black Day for the British Army saw 57,470 casualties, of which 19,240 men were killed as they advanced towards the German trench lines on a front 12 miles long. Despite some victories, mostly in the south of the battlefield, the attack was a costly tactical failure. This said, the larger campaign on the Somme marked the beginning of the hard slog to victory for the Allies in 1918 and was an important and necessary step in the learning process of successful fighting on the Western Front.

Remember these men today and ensure their deeds are not lost to history.