Friday, 31 January 2014

Stalin's Landships

Zvezda have recently released their latest plastic 1/100th scale tanks, the fabled multi-turreted T-35 and I bought five from Plastic Soldier Company in one of their company deals. I've been awaiting this kit's release for some time, I love the ridiculousness of the multi-turreted Soviet tanks. In practise they were a complete disaster on the battlefield with more being lost to mechanical problems than falling prey to the German guns. That said, they will be a great and interesting supplement to my Soviet forces.

The build was easy and simple, as always with Zvezda kits, but there is a word of warning here. It is worth cutting the lug off that joins the front of the hull halves as a gap appears on the front glacis plate otherwise. But this minor problem (and it is minor) was the only issue during the build. When varnishing them, I had some problems with frosting on the tanks, but I managed to rescue them somewhat with a couple more layers of varnishing then leaving them to dry under a lightbulb and they haven't turned out too badly.

They are massive models and to give you an idea of how big they are, here is a T-26 for a size comparison. With two 45mm turrets and a 76.2mm howitzer they should give the Germans something to worry about (if they ever arrive on the battlefield...).

According to the Rapid Fire! Russian Tank Units 1941-42 supplement, the 68th Tank Regiment, 34th Tank Division consisted of  ten of these beasts! So, maybe, just maybe, I might double their number, although I'm not sure ten T-35s will even fit on my table!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

To the Death!

Dean popped over on Sunday for a quick game of Rapid Fire! I decided to use my newly painted Americans against a force of half-tracked transported Panzer Grenadiers, with the Germans counter-attacking a bridge objective somewhere in Holland 1944. The weather was bad which precluded any air support, so the PBI were on their own. However, the Germans were supported by three Panzer IVh and three Marder II. For more equality the Americans had support in the form of five Sherman M4A3s (these were taken from my Soviet forces, hence the lack of stars...). I gave Dean the choice of which side to take and he plumped for the Yanks. Our initial set-up looked like this:

I started the game as the attacker and drove my half-tracks by the central hills to cover them from the American Shermans and a 57mm gun placed on his left flank. However, they immediately came under fire from his emplaced .50 Cal sat by the windmill, but fortunately for me with no effect.

However, on my right flank the Marders exchanged fire with his 57mm AT gun, I came off worse, losing one Marder immediately to accurate American fire!

The view down his barrel:

Dean's overall plan was to use his Shermans as the hammer with his soldiers playing the part of the anvil, they swept around his right flank behind the woods and used their truck's speed to get them into position quickly.

His Shermans advanced slowly towards the river and exchanged fire with my Panzer IVs, I scored two hits but only caused damage to one of his tanks. Meanwhile another Marder brewed up under more intense fire from the 57mm. Things were not looking so good for me on my right...

My attack in the centre was proving to be better going, however, I was laying down fire on his .50 Cal, .30 Cal and 81mm Mortar and inched forward to the objective.

YANKS ON THE FLANKS! His troops dismounted from their trucks and started working their way towards the cover of the woods. It seemed like I was being outflanked!

I immediately debussed my 81mm mortar, ready to give supporting fire to the central attack. I thought it would be better to use the cover of the woods for this, even though it was close to the Americans coming through the woods on the other side.

Speaking of which, the Americans were making their way into the trees, this was a great use of cover on their part and was quite alarming from my point of view.

YANK TANKS ON THE FLANKS!! The Shermans crossed the river, but hugged the woods as cover.

At the same time, my remaining Marder failed his morale test and routed off table, a Panzer IV took heavy damage in an exchange of fire with the Shermans and things were looking bad for me on this flank.

Pressing forward my attack on the windmill I was causing casualties on the American heavy weapons. I debussed a company of Grenadiers into the barn for cover and they were joined by the HQ. I knew it was going to be difficult for him to shift these defenders out of the buildings now.

The game switched on a penny, his formerly brave Shermans failed their morale test thanks to one of my Panzer IVs damaging another of his tanks. They turned tail and routed off table and his left flank was wide open for exploitation!

The 57mm was watching the approach to the bridge now and fired a shot at one of my halftracks. Fortunately for me this shot was unsuccessful and I was able to harass his HQ, who were positioned over the bridge behind the woods. 

The firefight around the woods and windmill was intensifying but the Americans were losing more men, yet inflicting very few casualties on my attackers.

A bazooka team emerged from the woods to take a shot at one of my halftracks. Unfortunately for them the shot missed and I was able to lay down some machine gun fire from the vehicle.

The 57mm took another shot at the halftrack on the bridge, which had been firing at the American HQ, this time the shot brewed up the vehicle and caused three casualties on the passengers.

The remaining soldiers quickly debussed from the burning wreck.

More and more Americans were getting chewed up by my machine guns, they were caught in crossfires from infantry and vehicles. On top of this I started to steer my Panzer IVs towards their defensive positions.

The unfortunate bazooka team were cut down by fire from three directions.

And accurate German fire from the halftracks, infantry and tanks destroyed most of the soldiers holding the windmill.

With this, Dean conceded the game, I had control of the table and he was rapidly losing men left, right and centre. The amount of casualties he had sustained had taken him above the amount to start testing for his morale so the defence was starting to look tenuous anyway.

The final stage from the German lines, I had lost very little overall, about six infantry and a half track. This didn't include the three Marders that I lost earlier.

It was a good game, I thought I was going to be a loss for me when the Marders ran from the field, but the Shermans disappearing seemed to be the swinging point that went in my favour. Dean's initial plan involved a pincer attack as a defence, which would have probably worked if his Shermans had been more successful and remained on the field.

The man of the match, however, was the American 57mm AT gun which destroyed a halftrack and two Marders, forcing the final one to flee.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Plenty of Plastic

I have just built my first M5 Stuart light tank in 15mm. It's from Plastic Soldier Company and is a lovely little kit and goes together really easily. Just like all PSC products. It will be used in service with my recently completed American soldiers for Rapid Fire!

My only gripe is that there is a lot of left overs on the sprue, as shown above. There's two full hulls and a set of tracks, along with half a turret. It's almost enough to build another vehicle, but not quite! I understand about the range of options PSC give you and the need to fill up sprues, but it sometimes just feels like a bit of a waste of plastic. However, what I will do is make several wrecks from the leftovers. 

In other news, I bought a DBA army of 15th Century Wallachia from Essex Miniatures the other day, it's the army of Vlad Dracul (more commonly known as The Impaler) and I have wanted to get his army together for a few years now. I also bought the actual Vlad figure from East Riding Miniatures, the rest of the army has yet to turn up, but this package arrived this morning. It's a lovely little figure and is obviously based on Vlad's portrait (no pictures yet as it's still unpainted) and I'm looking forward to completing the army and impaling some sense into the Turks!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Over Paid, Over Sexed and Over Here!

Many, many years ago I bought a heap of Peter Pig's 15mm WW2 American soldiers, they were bought with the intention of playing Firebase Games' set of rules Overlord. The figures were based up for those rules and painted in my style at the time (a good twenty years ago...), I recently rediscovered them sitting in a box and in pretty bad shape. I had a look through my Rapid Fire rules (page 16 of the Second Edition) and found that I had enough figures to make the basic battalion (I had to add some trucks, a 57mm A/T gun and the other battalion support weapons, all of which were a mixture of Peter Pig and Command Decision).  stripped the figures with Dettol and rebased them all so they match my other Rapid Fire forces. I put the finishing touches to them just the other day and here they are!

The unit comprises: 

HQ = CO + 3 figures + 60mm Mortar (2 Crew) + .75 ton Dodge Truck
3 x Rifle Company, each of 10 figures (1 Bazooka team) + 2.5 ton Dodge Truck
Heavy Weapons Company: 50cal HMG (3 crew) + Jeep 
30cal MMG (3 crew) + Jeep 
81mm Mortar (3 crew) + Jeep
57mm Anti-Tank Gun (3 crew) + 1.5 ton Dodge Truck

I did a bit of searching around and found a colour list for the ETO uniforms that I liked and I used the following Vallejo paints for the figures:

Basic uniform: US Dark Green
Webbing, equipment and waders: Green Ochre
Helmet (and other equipment): Violet Brown

I also broke up the uniforms with the addition of a Khaki jacket on some of the figures. The boots were left in the brown which I undercoated the figures with initially.

I also went down the route of dipping for the first time with these figures. I am very pleased with how they turned out after treatment, although they came out a little dark, but from a gaming perspective it's not a massive issue for me. As you can see from the pictures I also had some issues with varnish frosting in some cases, but I managed to mostly fix the problem. Bloody winter.

These chaps will have support in the form of some Plastic Soldier Company M5 Stuart tanks in due course, plus if I were to upgrade them to an Armoured Infantry battalion I have some PSC M5 halftracks as transports (which I have yet to build). It was an easy job overall and gives me another force to use against my Germans and widens the theatres I can game!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Roland CII WIP Pt.3

It's been quite a while since I was able to sit down and continue making my Eduard 1/48th Roland CII. In fact it was last September when I did anything with it. The main reason for this was that I was researching airbrushes in order to paint the fuselage. I ended up buying a Badger airbrush with a compressor off EBay, I had also bought some RLM 76 Light Blue paint from Mr Hobby as I wanted the paint scheme to be the classic whale fuselage as seen on the box art.

I tried the paint with the airbrush. It didn't spray. So then I decided to track down some thinner to mix in the paint as I though the paint was too thick. It still wouldn't spray. I tried the airbrush with just water and it still wouldn't spray. So, I changed tack; I started painting the Mr Hobby paint on with a brush. This is when I realised the limitations of the paint. Not only was it incredibly thin, but the second coat reactivated the original coat and started dragging it off the plastic! I was at the stage of binning the entire model, but I thought I'd give it one more chance. I bought some Humbrol Light Blue instead. Bam! It was perfect! The Humbrol pigment was much thicker and stuck to the plastic much better. The actual painting was done pretty quickly, and two coats were enough:

The next stage was to add all the little bits and pieces to the fuselage and wings, there was very little left to do to the main part of the aircraft.

The top wings went on with no problems. The good thing about the CII is that it's a pretty robust aircraft due to the level of the top wings and the fuselage. 

The plane was then set aside while got down to the fiddly work of making the machine guns. These are made from the original plastic ones with many photo-etched parts added, they took about an hour to build up, but look much better than the original versions.

There was little left to do with the machine-guns except paint them and fix them in place, but before that part started I went back to the body of the plane and applied the decals. I realised that I had glued on a few bits and pieces that would sit over the top of the decals; the air intakes on the fuselage and some tiny pieces on the tailplane, for example, so these had to be removed and would be added later. It was slightly annoying to realise this, also realising that it would have made my life easier had I left the top wings off while I applied the fish scale decals... But, despite all this I applied the decals:

The application of the decals was really helped mainly due to the use of Microsol, a chemical which softens the decals so they conform to the shape of whatever it is being applied to. This was invaluable as there is some detail on the fuselage that is covered by the large fish scale decals and the Microsol helped to bring those details back out!

This is as far as I am now, there is still quite a lot left to do on the model, but it's not far off completion! Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014


So the behemoth that is my Malaya invasion project has finally rolled to a halt after I finished these Type 95 (Ha-Go) Tankettes, they come from QRF (named as Type 75 (Kyu-Go) in their catalogue). They arrived just before Christmas, but didn't take long to paint and base.

As usual with QRF, I find their vehicles a bit hit and miss; some are amazing, but some, like these ones, can be a little shoddy. The moulding isn't great and there is a bit missing on some of the wheels. But! No one else does these tanks and due to the size of them the imperfections are not very noticeable.

So the addition of these four tanks brings my Japanese force to full strength (with the addition of a four figure Engineer platoon...). Here it is laid out in full, for those who think I have just reposted pictures of the same battalion again and again...

And to face them, here is the British and Indian defenders. It seems like a puny force in comparison, but historically they gave a sterling defence against an overwhelming majority. Hopefully, they'll do as well on my games table...

Now, I just need to find some time to actually play the campaign!!! Thanks for looking!!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Windy Militant

EBay can be a goldmine for wargaming scenery, I have been buying a lot of model railway scenery pieces for pennies in various states of distress with the intention of hacking them about for wargaming scenery. HO scale scenery works pretty well with 15mm and the level of detail on railway models makes pieces look a lot more realistic than a lot of wargaming specific scenery. Another bonus is that it is in plastic, so they are relatively easy to work with, which is a real bonus as most of the time second hand railway kits look like they've been put together by a chimpanzee wearing mittens. Take this windmill which I will rebuild in this post, for example, the side door had been glued on at a crazy angle:

I wanted to make this windmill into a piece for the steppes of Russia, but the sail was damaged when it arrived, this is one of the reasons why it was so cheap. However, I had another windmill that Ninjasaurus Rex had given me a few years ago which I had never gotten around to dealing with yet and I figured I could reuse the sail from that one for this building instead (in fact I only realised the other day that the one he had given me seems to be modelled on the windmill from Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, so I will probably never actually use it anyway...).

The first thing to do was break it down into its constitute parts. This is where the chimp's handiwork really showed through. Whatever glue they had used made it really difficult to get some of the smaller parts loose and I lost a couple of bits, like the ladder and walkway and the rear alcove. The roof also shattered as I prized it loose as well.

The upper part came away from the base easily, it was not glued, thankfully. It appears that the windmill was intended to move through some form of battery powered electricity and the battery was housed on the base in what appeared to be a missing area. This had to be filled, so I cut a small square of plasticard and fitted it in the gap, which brought the level up again.

I then cut out a square of embossed plasticard to the same size. This is embossed with stones, so it fits with the rest of the base, although it looks like an area of relaid stonework. Yards get repaired all the time, so the difference in stones doesn't concern me.

I put the base to one side to dry and undercoated it black. There is little left to do with it right now, so I turned my attention to the body of the mill. The square nature of it looked a little bare, so I thought I'd rebuild the previously destroyed alcove area at the back, it would also cover the mess left by the original one. This was constructed from three sides of plasticard with a slope for the roof.

As that dried I also turned back to the walkway on the front of the mill. This had shattered as I tried to remove it, so needed to be rebuilt as well. This was dead simple, I cut a single rectangle of plasticard and attached another piece of embossed plasticard on top. This second piece was embossed to look like thin planking.

This was then trimmed off after it had dried to the size of the walkway. I also added two small slivers of plasticard to either end of the walkway as supports, these will also be trimmed to size in due course. It now looks a little more stable!

Now it was just a case of adding more details to the outside of the building. I added a hand rail for the walkway. This was also attached to a frame which had survived the initial cutting operations and it just added a little more depth to the architectural features of the building. I also added two shutters for the small window to the right of the door. These were already on the model, but again, didn't survive removal. My new ones cover up the remains of the old ones that wouldn't come off. Finally, I cut a triangle of plasticard for the hoist above the door.

At this point I tried the building out next to a 15mm figure that was kicking about on my work bench. You can see it has the correct dimensions for this scale.

With not much more to do on the main body of the building I turned back to the little alcove room. I clad the sides and front in more embossed plasticard, stuff that looked like planking. These were all trimmed to size after they had dried on the plasticard walls, then I added two strips of V shaped plasticard to the front edges. These trimmings disguise the joins of the other pieces of plasticard and look like strengthening architectural features.

The last bit was the roof, this was cut from embossed plasticard, but with wider lines than the wall material. it looks like a few wooden planks. To emphasise this, I delicately cut the ends of each plank to slightly different lengths. This adds to the feel that this feature is a later addition to the building and and also adds to the overall 'rustic' feeling of the model.

The entire feature was then glued in place over the area that the previous extension had sat, neatly covering the mess that that the original one had left! So that was it pretty much for the main body and base of the windmill, besides painting:

I did a bit of ferreting about on the internet machine and found this picture of some windmills in Russia on Wikipedia. They look very similar to the one I am building and you'll notice that the wooden structures are very grey due to the weathering of the timbers.

The first thing to do was give it a heavy drybrush of German Grey over the black undercoat. This drybrush included the stone work on the yard floor, and was quickly done with a large sized soft brush.

Next the windmill got another dry brush of Neutral Grey, this picked out all the little details and was enough to make the wood look like aged timber. I did the same with the sails that I had cannibalised from the other windmill.

I then started to pick out details on the rest of the building. The doors were painted in Reflective Green, with an ink wash of black, just to make them different and stand out. I also ink washed several planks and tiles in black and Hull Red, again to break up the shape of the boxy windmill. Finally, I picked out a few of the stones in the yard in various greys and browns then ink-washed it all in black. I also added the windmill sails, they needed fixing place properly, but this is how it looked so far:

The last thing to do was paint the border of the yard in Dark Green, ink washed in Flat Earth and then dry brushed with Yellow. And it was finished, as simple as that. The last thing to do was add some grass tufts to the base to give that a bit of shape and here it is:

It took about three days in total, including drying times and I'm rather happy with how it turned out. Now I just have a box full of HO scale buildings that I need to address...

Thanks for looking! 
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