Saturday, November 30, 2019

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Fort King walkaround

       Located in downtown Ocala, at 3925 E Fort King St, Ocala, FL 34470 this reconstruction stands over the ground that the original fort stood upon.This is a new-built reconstruction (so new that it doesn't yet appear on GoogleEarth!) so it looks the way that would have appeared to the soldiers who built it; the wood still yellow and tan, not yet bleached gray from the tropical sun. Digging is still going on over the interior of the fort so the barracks and storehouses have not yet been reconstructed. There is a small museum that has a number of interesting (if difficult to photograph) exhibits as well as an informative video. The fort is run by the City of Ocala, an effort that I fully commend, the website is right here.

       U.S. fortifications built during the period of the Seminole Wars were not intended to be permanent and a good many lasted a year or less. They were designed in a way that could be constructed by the troops without need for advanced engineering skills or tools. As far as I can tell there was no official manual (I did find this Beast of a text from the era, but I haven't had the time to read through it yet) on the construction of these forts, just a rule of thumb approach. Boiled down into a graphic it looks like this;

       If the walls were going to end up longer than musket shot there would need to be blockhouses on all corners. If the fortification was going to need to house a large number of troops or control a significant amount of land the blockhouses would be spaced along the walls as seemed necessary (as in Fort Meigs). The blockhouses were capable of all-around defense in the event that the enemy gained access to the interior of the fort they could hold out on their own for a period of time.

The Last of the Big Guns

       Having gotten back from Florida refreshed and renewed I sat myself down and finished painting the guns and attendant gunners and then based them and flocked the bases, all in one afternoon! This gives me over thirty guns, in a rules system that envisions maybe two or three to a side, perhaps I went a little overboard? Ah well, it is better to have too much than not enough!

organ guns, a seemingly great idea that kept going nowhere until the 1860's

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated

       My apologies for not posting for the past week and a half but I have been out of town and I lack the smart-phone savvy to be able to post from my hand-held computer. I did put the missing time to good use (at least from my point of view!). While Michigan was dealing with the aftermath of 12" pf snow I had repaired to sunny Florida. Palm trees, sunshine and temps in the high 70's are a pretty good argument on their own but the state is also littered with historical locations that I have been visiting for the last three decades. In one Herculean effort I managed to visit four locations comprising five forts and three hundred years of history (four of the forts in one break-neck paced day!). I managed to squeeze in visits to the following; Fort King, San Marcos de Apalache, Fort Pickens, Fort Barrancas and the Spanish Water Battery. The fruits of this effort will be appearing soon enough in this space.

grab a rum-based drink, put on some steel-drum music
 and turn on the heat lamp to catch the vibe...

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Tonatiuh's Gold

Northwest Zambia:
Local folklore told of a curious invasion from the West. A vicious invasion led by a light brown skinned people in search of the Sun. The stories were dismissed by historians as nothing more than a lost European expedition, possibly attempting to find their way home. What is curious about the tales, is that the invaders were said to be traveling with a large treasure train of gold. Bringing it further and further East. Something that is strange because Europeans were noted for *removing* wealth, not bringing it. The legend states that the invasion ended when the spirits of those murdered returned and killed the invaders with their own gold.

All this would have gone by the wayside, assumed to be exaggerations or misinterpretations, had it not been for a particularly strong earthquake that shook the area. Almost immediately locals started reporting seeing a strange light and some sort of stone structure in the jungle. After verification that there was indeed some sort of structure in the jungle, the international community assembled a research team and went in. It didn't take long to confirm that the structure was identical to temples found in Central America... just in the wrong place. As the mystery deepens, so does the greed, corruption and mistrust that follows all things African. 

This Saturday, come enjoy the frightful action surrounding the greatest mystery of our century.
Patrick's House, 6:30PM

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Empirical Testing: Lemax Cobblestone and glue UPDATED with paint info

       I've never been much of a scientist, and reading the fine print on the labels of various glues just gives me a headache (more than the fumes do!) so I have long relied on empirical testing.  Or, as my Brit friend would say. "Suck it and see". So rather than spending hours reading about plastic co-polymer and solvent interactions I decided to grab some glue, some small pieces of the cobblestone mat and some blocks of foam and start gluing stuff together.
     I was surprised how easy it turned out to be. Edison tested a thousand things before he figured out what to use as a light bulb element. I got lucky, the first thing I tried worked just fine, so did the second!  I must have started at the correct end of the list.

first I cut a 1" strip off of the roll of cobblestone mat 
and then cut it into roughly 1" squares

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Momentary Diversion

       Having done too much of just a couple of things for the last three weeks I decided to jump ship and do something entirely different. I dug into The Vault and found an ancient  1/72 Revell model of a Polikarpov I-16. This particular kit had been made in Spain some time in the late 70's I would guess. The model looked to be cleanly cast so I figured "Why not?". It would be cheaper than talking to a shrink or a good bottle of bourbon at the very least.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Veteran's Day Thoughts

       Having come from a family with over three centuries of military service the long string of veterans who are my ancestors are too many to name. So I will confine myself to thanking those veterans that I have had the honor and pleasure of knowing personally.
       My Grandfather and Father both served in the United States Army, my grandad joined the Army in 1917 as a first-generation American of German descent to demonstrate his loyalty to the country of his birth. He served in France until the end of hostilities and then returned home to settle in Detroit in 1920. My dad missed the draft for the invasion/occupation of Japan by way of a couple of atom bombs but was called up as a National Guardsman to serve in Korea. I thank them for their service and for not getting themselves killed (because I wouldn't be typing this if they had!).
        I would also like to thank my friends who have served, OldSarge did his initial time in Viet Nam and then served in the Navy. Brad, Trunkmonkey, Tankguy, Paul, Steve and Tom from Texas all served in the Army during the dark days of the Cold War. My son-in-law Paul served in The Corps for several tours before settling down to raise a family.
        Furthermore I would like to single out and specifically thank Honest Dan who continues to serve in the Army.
        These men have all either faced battle or were prepared to. They offered themselves in service to defend our way of life from regimes that were palpably evil and monstrous. They rarely speak of their service, and if they do it is more often of the friendships that they made and friends that they lost. They hide their scars, both emotional an physical, and just desire to live a quiet peaceful life.

    Thank You All!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Game at my place 9NOV19 7pm

Like the title says, there will be a game at my place at 7pm on the 9th of November 2019.

Be there, or we will say bad things about you.

Book Review, Osprey Men At Arms, Byzantine Naval Forces 1261-1461


     Byzantine Naval Forces 1261-1461
     The Roman Empire's Last Marines
     Osprey Men-At-Arms MAA 502
     Author Raffaele D'Amato
     Illustrators Peter Dennis and Igor Dzis

        This volume addresses the naval forces of the rapidly declining Byzantine Empire in its final phase. Little more than a city-state by this point Byzantium represented the idea of an empire far more than the physical reality of one. That being said they still possessed the capacity to assemble effective naval forces in the brief periods when they weren't busy fighting each other. This book is particularly focused on the troops that manned those vessels, how they were organized and paid, what they were armed with and how they fought. In passing it addresses the Fleet itself and alludes to the ships that were used, if you are looking for a detailed assessment of the Byzantine Dromon of the period you will need to look elsewhere. What this book does very well is provide a feast of color pictures from original sources, the margins have been populated with full color pictures of manuscripts, mosaics and paintings in addition to the brilliant artwork of Mr. Dennis and Mr, Dzis.
       Happily devoid to the usual horrid maps found in most Osprey publications, and with a delightfully short chronology, this volume is loaded from front to back with the sort of detailed pictures of original works that would take the reader many years (and simply piles of money) to obtain on their own. The text is clear and easy to follow aside from the annoying habit of placing the references in the body of the text (perhaps apropos in a thesis but bloody annoying to the casual reader who has little chance of being able to check the source material on their own). It provides an understanding of how and where the naval troops were raised, their specific duties, their dress and arms and some of the battles they were involved in. The inclusion of the political and military situation is only supportive of the descriptions on the uniforms and is in no way a military history of this era, the text's main focus is on the troops and what they wore. This it does with consummate skill.

       Supporting the text is a comprehensive array of photos of original art depicting the troops as they were seen by their contemporaries.  Bringing this all together is the superb artwork of Peter Dennis and Igor Dzis, All of the drawings have a draftsman-like precision but do not lose the feeling of the sun-drenched shores of the eastern Mediterranean, they capture the brilliant color of the uniforms and the feel of the countryside.

       In all and excellent book, it certainly could be many times longer than it is but it is a good way to get started in the period. I'm happy to have it on my shelf .

        Very Highly Recommended

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Game this Tuesday

My place 7pm.
Covert operations in the Epicurean Campaign using Pikemans Lament rules.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

This is all your fault, Kevin!

       As I was watching the fifth coat of terrain effect drying on the Afghan Village project I got bored (OK, so this happens a LOT to me so I should have seen it coming). As I looked around for something to occupy my hands I saw that Proxxie was still sitting out and there was a pile of blue board to hand, from such things madness often comes! I recalled a statement on TMP by a fellow who was interested in the Thirty Years War and building a starfort. My fingers began to twitch and I became restless, then suddenly this happened.

 so here I sit with a 15mm starfort when I already had one
hopefully Gallocelt would like it

Friday, November 1, 2019

Strelets R Rif Rebellion 1/76 20mm

     Strelets R continues their range of Rif Rebellion miniatures with the addition of the appropriately named Rif Rebellion set; it could have been named Rif Command just as easily. Cleanly molded in a stiff orange-brown plastic these figures depict leaders and commanders. The deeply undercut figures capture the flowing robes of the Rif very well and the horses and camels are very well detailed and nicely proportioned as well. The posing, anatomy and, especially, the facial detail is outstanding. These figures should be a breeze to paint. The unnamed sculptor has done an excellent job of capturing motion and energy with these tiny figures and should be commended for their work.

cover art, again the odd amalgam of photo-shopped art

Strelets R Mounted Rif Rebels 1/76 20mm

     Strelets R continues their Rif War range with Mounted Rif Rebels. This rounds out the Rif warriors needed to model this conflict; joined with the Foot Warriors and Rif Rebellion (command figures) they provide a very good selection of miniatures. The figures come molded in a stiff orange-brown plastic and are very well detailed and cleanly cast with only traces of flash on some of the small parts.
box art, a good start on how to paint the miniatues

Strelets R French Foreign Legion Desert Patrol 1/76 20mm

     Strelets R has expanded their French Foreign Legion range again to now include a desert patrol. This dovetails with their earlier release of FFL infantry. These minis are crisply molded in pale gray plastic for the soldiers and buff plastic for the camels. This plastic accepts very fine detail and the figures exhibit only the tiniest evidence of mold lines and flash. As with all the other releases in this range the proportions and attention to detail displayed by these figures is exemplary

the box art is the usual odd photoshopped sort of thing that Strelets loves
but it does give you a good idea of how to paint the minis

Strelets R Foot Rif Rebels 20mm 1/72

      Strelets R had extended its coverage to include the Rif War. One of the "small wars" that followed the insanity of the First World War this conflict was one of the early attempts by native North Africans to eject colonial powers from the continent. This war saw many innovations including the first landing of tanks in a sea-borne invasion! This set pairs nicely with the French Foreign Legion just released by Strelets R.
      The models are well-detailed and cleanly cast in an odd orange-brown plastic that holds the deeply cut sculpting very well. The craftsmanship and skill of the sculptor is on real display with this set; the flow of the robes, the detail of the faces and hands and the proportion and poses are simply superb. Whoever the unsung sculptor is has really raised the bar for further models in this scale. This set is useful outside of the Rif War setting as there was a much slower evolution in local dress that one sees in the uniforms of most armed forces. These figures could easily be used as early as the 1880's (aside from the fellow with the Lewis gun) though to the Second World War without any issues.

the box art provides useful, if uninspired, uniform color ideas

Strelets R French Foreign Legion 20mm 1/72

     Strelets R continues to be the largest producer of new figures in the "20mm" market the recent torrent of U.S. Civil War products has finally run dry and they are back to covering more diverse sunjects. First up we find the new French Foreign Legion  Early XX C. Cleanly molded in a fine medium gray plastic that retains detail very well these figures are actively posed and realistically proportioned.
        The figures are well -detailed and cleanly cast with only the faintest of traces of flash anywhere. Inside the box you will find an officer and trumpeter, a light machine gun with a two-man crew and thirty-nine standard FFL troopers. There are three of the those Strelsi figures as a bonus for those who collect such things.
         I really like this set except for a small point; they seem to be from the entire "early twentieth century" the uniforms and equipment are spread over a period of time from the turn of the century to the end of the Rif War (which, given the other sets in this series of releases, is the likely intended target). This is a very broad period when one considers the changes in weapons and tactic over the first quarter of the 20th century. The heavy back-packs and neck-cloths point toward a pre-First World War timeline while the helmets and machine gun would indicate a post-war situation. Not a deal-breaker, military organizations have long been known to only issue new equipment when the previous issue has been thoroughly worn out. I plan on using them all together as part of a small Rif Wars project.

the cover art