Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Book Review, Armies And Enemies of Louis XIV Vol.1

Armies And Enemies Of Louis XIV
Volume 1- Western Europe 1688-1714: France, Britain, Holland
Author        Mark Allen
Illustrator    Mark Allen
Publisher  Helion &Co.
ISBN 978-1-911628-05-7

       I was instantly familiar with the contents of this book as it was published i a long-running series of articles in Wargames Illustrated Magazine between 1990 and 2003. Frankly I was overjoyed as this saves me the trouble of recovering the back copies and finding the relevant articles in my depository of magazines (it also saves me the lost time of sitting and reading off-topic articles on the adjoining pages!). This isn't a book for a casual read, it is set up as a reference volume and is so densely packed with information that there is no room for florid text. The book concentrates on the equipment, dress and organization of the three armies in the title.

       Allen opens with a very brief description of the chronology of the War of the Grand Alliance with some notes as to the changes in methods of war that conflict saw. He then dives into the Dutch army covering its organization down to the structure of individual companies. Their dress and equipment are explored and then the roll-call of each regiment (along with the changes of command over time) with notes to the color illustrations. The illustrations may not be to the liking of some. They are drawn in a primitive, almost child-like manner, but they convey all of the details of the uniforms and provide good color references. Anyone seeking to paint a miniature army will find a flood-tide of data here.

       Next the army of Britain is given a similar examination with attendant references to color plates before the French army is addressed. Here Allen breaks down the chapter into two different section; the first on the army of the Nine Years War then, in the second section, the army of the War of Spanish Succession. The Royal Troops get the lions share of the work as they had, by far, the most complex and detailed uniforms. The line troops, in their rather more pain clothes, get proper coverage but the illustrations are smaller and less detailed.

       Throughout the book great attention is given to flags and standards. This being an era of lax uniform distinctions and numerous and colorful flags the intense coverage allows a gamer to populate his battlefield with many colorful flags (I also avoided painting a few regiments because their flags were just to wild to try painting!). 

        The physical properties of the book are standard Helion quality. Thick card covers embrace a tightly bound 164 pages of top-quality glossy paper. The text is clearly displayed and the color illustrations are true to the originals. A sturdy volume in all.

       Highly recommended

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

.....Just One More thing

       Several people commented that the Monopoly houses were too small to match well with 1/350 scale minis so I reconsidered using them and decided to make my own. As long as I was making them from scratch I decided that I would make buildings with a more "Mediterranean" look; adobe walls stuccoed white and some pantiled roofs.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Pinatella Completed!

       This little diversion has come to a close (almost, I might just put it on a base). I added flocking and made some trees before finishing the paintwork and now I have some eye-candy for the backdrop of my naval games.

Friday, May 29, 2020

And, once again, things spin completely out of control! UPDATED

       Yesterday I knocked together a little starfort for my 1/350 navy to shoot at. Well, forts don't just float in the sea by themselves so I started thinking about coastlines. But coastlines are pretty much endless while islands have a very limited amount of coast, so an island was the answer. But why would you build a fort on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere.....thus the island needed to have a reason that people would want it, a nice harbor perhaps. From that point I made the leap from cogitation to cutting foam and this happened;

Something brand new (for a change)

I thought that my new fleet might want something to shoot at
never mind where I'm going to get 1/350 scale cannons

       OK, the real problem is that I watched that classic Burt Lancaster movie The Crimson Pirate
which feature pirates sacking a fortified town. As I was watching the movie it struck me that my newly assembled fleet had no landward opposition. Having finished the movie, and still at odds with myself over which other dusty project to complete, I began toying with the mechanics of building a 1/350 scale fortress. Not being an abstract thinker I tend to do my thinking with my hands. The next thing I knew I was cutting foam. I'm afraid that we have seen where this can lead.....

getting the bastions right is always the problem 
I think that I have finally worked that out!

in this scale even the glacis becomes a real possibility!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Dusty Projects XVI; Lindberg HE-100 1/72 scale

       About fifty years ago I struck a deal with my cousin John, who was almost exactly a year older than I. We would buy each other the coolest World War Two airplane model that we could find for our respective birthdays, which were a mere six weeks apart. I took my lawn mowing money (which was paid at the princely sum of twenty five cents a job) and walked the mile and a half to the local K-Mart where I laid down almost forty cents for a model HE-100 for him. K-Mart at the time was a proper Department Store and had a Models and Hobbies section managed by a WW2 vet who was also a modeller. In return my cousin got me a HE-162 Volksjager model. We were both delighted with our gifts and promptly shot them to pieces with our BB guns. 

       I was, however, struck by the sleek lines of the HE-100 and resolved to get one as a "keeper" (i.e. it would be spared the ravages of the Red Rider and have a coveted place on the display shelf in my room). For reasons that escape me now this never came to pass, that is until a few years ago when I drove past a garage sale that was displaying a sign that said simply "Old Models", intrigued I stopped and took a look. Among other treasures I found myself a Lindberg HE-100 kit. I promptly made it mine. It had sat unattended in a box in The Vault ever since, until last week when my endless hunt for the errant Airfix Mayflower turned it up. I paused for a moment and then set it aside to build.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Book Review, The Cretan War

The Cretan War, 1645-1671
The Venetian-Ottoman Struggle in the Mediterranean 
Author and Artist, Bruno Mugnai
ISBN 978-1-911628-04-0

        I have always been a fan of obscure conflicts and I have to say that I was excited by this title as I had never heard of this war.The heroic efforts of the Venetians and Hapsburgs in protecting Western Civilization from the centuries-long assault by Islam has gone virtually unnoticed in the Anglosphere. Bruno Mugnia has produced a comprehensive work covering the Fifth Ottoman-Venetian War that continued from 1645 to 1671. The depth of his research is reflected in the four page long Select Bibliography (in at least three different languages, mind you). This is a product of tireless effort and true passion.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Dusty Projects XV, Polish Light Cavalry 15mm

       I won't bore you with the "while I was painting these" photos, you can find all sorts of that stuff further down the blog. Here they are ready to roll (that is as son as the matte spray dries) the famed Polish Light Cavalry LISOWCZYCY!  Based for Tercio rules these are skirmish cavalry that scout and pave the way for the dreaded Winged Hussars.

seriously, they are shiny because the Vallejo Matte Spray takes a bit to dry

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The final leg of the Zeppelin game

The last element of the Zeppelin game

Ships play a layered and critical role in the combat history of lighter than airships.  Several Zeppelins were actually shot down by British vessels.  Most of the Zeppelins that were shot down by the British were shot down thanks to an assist from the Royal Navy.  And of course the entire blimp side of the game arose as an effort to fight off the German submarine menace.  In casting about for some 1/1250 ships to use in scale for the Zeppelins I discovered a company called Historia Emporium (here is their website ( ).  They have hundred of 1/1250 scale preconstructed and painted boats from various high end manufacturers like: Navis, Mercater, and Hai at a wide range of price points (starting at $3 and extending over $100).  Apparently there is QUITE a market for tiny but hyper accurate models of vessels from both world wars and beyond.  I had no idea.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Dusty Projects XIVb Then The Winged Hussars Arrived!! UPDATED

       I found myself really struggling with painting these figures. They are fine miniatures despite their age, I just find painting 15mm figures to be taxing. So I put them down for a while and did other things for a bit to see about regaining my enthusiasm. Here are the results;

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Dusty Projects XIVa, Now I remember why I like 28mm figures

seriously, it's me, they are lovely figures, but I can barely see them
I should have painted them long ago when my eyes still worked!

       Three days steady work and the Winged Hussars are nowhere near done. Granted, they aren't wearing uniforms which requires a lot more switching of colors and all. But, still, this is incredibly slow. I did take this bit of work as an opportunity to experiment a bit with the Contrast paints.
       Despite dire warnings that these paints shouldn't be mixed with other paints or thinned with water I went ahead and did both. Gulliman flesh gave an interesting color over a tan base but I had already primed these minis in white; to resolve this I simply added some Americana Burnt Umber and a tiny touch of red along with a couple of drops of water. Happy with the color in the mixing dish I applied it to the miniatures with pleasingly effective results. This opens the door to some other options, sadly I will have to wait until the sorry idiot running my state decides that business can resume before I can explore this further, assuming that any of the local hobby shops surviive.

so much for following orders....

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Won't you take me to ... Zeppelin Town!

Having obtained and painted the planes and zeppelins I now needed some more or less stationary targets as "destinations" for potential Zeppelin raids.  The problem of my chosen scale (1/1250) for the Airships became clear to me quickly.  In 1/1250 scale a standard train track is about 1 millimeter wide, or basically a pencil line.  In the end I found a replacement set of building for a newer Monopoly game very inexpensively ($4) and decided they would do.  Well after a bit of a delay as I fiddled around with arrangement of the buildings I have now completed a general British town for occasional Zeppelin visits. 

Here is what I had to work with.  I purchased a replacement set of the game Monopoly.  The boards are simple mdf all about the same width and of various lengths as can be seen. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Dusty Projects XIV, Minifigs Polish Winged Hussars

cleaned, and ready to be primed 

       The Vault has surrendered one of it's oldest denizens to me. A drawer full of Old Minifigs Polish Winged Hussars dating back circa 1985AD. Tipping the scales at over three decades of patiently waiting to be painted they are still nice figures. They are a close threat to the Claude for being the longest on the "To Do" list. I will get these little beauties primed tomorrow morning and then it is back to the brushes!

mold plugs that have to be removed with real tools, 
ahh yes, I miss the good old days

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Strelets British Infantry in Attack 1701-1714 20mm 1/76

 the front of the box, it provides a good idea of the period uniform appearance

       Well, I must say that I love this set and hate it as well. I love this set because it covers a period that is barely addressed in 20mm and does it with some lovely figures, I hate it because I am just completing painting dozens of units in 28mm for the same period. Enough of my own problems. In this set we will find forty-four actively posed and delicately sculpted miniatures depicting the British Army in the period of 1702-1714. The figures depict troops that are, or are about to be, engaged in hand-to-hand combat. The uniforms are correctly depicted with deep cuffs and full loose coats without turnbacks. The only possible complaint might be the over-representation of Grenadiers, but as these troops were often assigned to lead assaults and Forlorn Hopes that point barely rises to a minor issue. The miniatures are cast in a stiff, but still pliable, rust colored plastic that holds the detail that was sculpted without signs of blurriness or mold marks. The depth and clarity of the detail will make painting a breeze. I find myself wishing that Strelets would credit the sculptor as whoever the anonymous talent that is behind these figures deserves full credit for excellent posing , anatomy, and having a feel for how uniforms drape over a persons figure, these are truly tiny works of art.

Very highly recommended.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Dusty Projects XIII, Get Him To The Greek UPDATED!

the lone figure that I finished painting back in January when I assembled them

       Having run out of of ships to assemble and paint I decided to take a step toward a different subject and a much larger scale. These beautiful Victrix Greeks have been knocking around the workshop for months now so I figured I should tick that box off and get them done. Besides, I had purchased some of the Citadel Contrast Paints before the world ended and was itching to give them a try.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Dusty Project XII, Last of the galleons

the Golden Hind in a rather bright and fanciful color scheme

and the Black Swan in an intensely dour paint ob

       After a brief pause to honor Mother's Day I once more returned to the workshop and knocked out the last two galleons; one a Pirate Ship and the other a Golden Hind.  I intentionally painted them to lok very different from the other models of their type to make it easier to keep track during a game. I won't bother you with the step-by-step of the build as they have already been covered when I first built the type; follow the links for a look at a review of the kits and my first build of that type.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Strelets Boer Infantry 20mm 1/76

front box art
this gives an idea as to clothing, the Boers were without uniforms

       Strelets has added another set of miniatures to their list of Anglo-Boer war figures. This set depicts Boer infantry in combat. With fourteen different figures all in "really-useful" poses these can be used to form a wargaming unit or to create a diorama depicting the conflict. The figures are cast in a stiff, yet flexible, orange plastic that shows no flash and little in the way of mold-lines. While these figures lack some of the detail, and the almost comical posing, of the earlier set of Boer infantry from Strelets they will provide enough figures to start your Boer Commando with just one box. Buy a box of the Boer Artillery from the same manufacturer and transfer in a couple of officers and the two lads carrying an ammo box to really round-out the look.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Of Zeppelins and "Super Zeppelins"

So here is the second installment in my Blimps vs Zeppelins oddity.  Sometimes the best ideas just will not work out.  That is really the story of the Germans in WWI and their Zeppelin forces.

This is a photograph of the L20, the first of the Q (more on what that means if you read on) class of Zeppelins and her rather ignominious fate of crashing on the Norwegian coast where her crew was interned and the ship shot to set off the hydrogen and keep it from drifting into a nearby village.

Strelets Boer Cannon 20mm 1/76

 front box-art,
even though the Transvaalse Staatsartillerie were issued sand gray uniforms 
(which faded very quickly) they probably looked more like this after a short time campaigning
       Continuing to expand their coverage of the Second Anglo-Boer war Strelets has released this set of two guns complete with crew. Although not indicated on the box the cannon appears to be either a Krupp 77mm C/96 or a  Krupp 8cm C/80  in this scale there is little visible difference so the choice is yours. With fourteen crewmen it will be possible to build an effective diorama of fully crew a wargaming unit. The kit is cast in a stiff but flexible orange plastic that show little flash and holds detail fairly well. My only concern would be the flash on the spokes of the wheels, I have never been able to find the skill and patience to remove that effectively.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Dusty Projects XI, Yet Another Galleon!

the Black Swan gets another trim and paint job

       One of these days I will have to build this kit stock out of the box. Another rendition of the Zvezda Black Swan kit, this time with an all-dark hull, bronze cannons and a red deck. gives a different look to the last outing. I also trimmed away two of the three lanterns at the rear, leaving only the central one to enhance the difference. As usual the kit went together flawlessly, another fun build. I haven't come up with a name for this one yet. I did not take pictures of the build as this is the same kit from the earlier build. Two left to go before I'm done with the Zvezda kits, I still have those odd-scale Lindberg models to sort through to see if something can be made of them......

Dusty Projects Part X, Back to the boats

I have to admit that I get bored doing historical paintjobs every once in a while

       Nothing special this time, just another San Martin class galleon but I did give this one a fancy paint job. This is the last of the big ships, all that remain are two Pirate Ships and one Golden Hind. Then I will examine the chances of converting the old Lindberg Columbus's Ships into something. Failing that I might just order another Revenge and Golden Hind.........or perhaps scratchbuild something entirely different. Who knows? I might just go dig around in the Vault

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Deep into the dust, 1/72 Mitsubishi A5M4

I miss the old cover-art

       Nearly four decades ago, just after the birth of my first son, I bought this kit. The group I was gaming with wanted to do WW2 early aerial combat (using a long-forgotten set of rules). I started it right away,  but a combination of two very young children and holding two jobs placed it on the back burner. It sat in the Vault until yesterday. I had begun looking for another ship model (I'm sure there is a copy of the Airfix Mayflower somewhere in the dusty aisles of the Vault)  when I stumbled across this in a box marked "old kits". My love of fighter planes with fixed and spatted undercarriages took hold of me and I resolved to finish the model instantly.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Taking a Break From Dusty Projects

        Even though there still are a couple of models left on the "Dusty Projects" pile I couldn't restrain myself when I picked this lovely little model up from Michigan Toy Soldier yesterday. Actually, I bought three of them, they will help fill out the smaller end of the fleets for my Thirty Years War themed campaign. The models are definitely more 1660 than 1600 but are delightful all the same.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Strelets British Infantry in Advance 1701-1714

the front of the box
it provides an idea of what the troops should look like

        Strelets continues its advance into the War of Spanish Succession with another British infantry offering. This should prove a tremendously useful set of figures, I very much prefer troops in marching poses as they are easier to paint and, truth be told, troops tend to do a lot more marching than fighting (even during a battle). Another aspect is that with the simple change of colors these figures can be used to represent a good many other nations soldiers. Uniforms of the period were just beginning to be standardized and information on details can be very sparse. Strelets tends to be rather comprehensive when they produce a range so it is likely that they will produce French opponents to these minis as well as cavalry and guns but these figures will serve for any nation wearing waistbelts and coats without turnbacks.
        The figures themselves are very well sculpted, loads of detail crisply cast in a stiff but flexible rust-colored plastic that shows very little flash or mold lines. The anatomy of the models is excellent with no misshapen heads or oversized hands. The sculptor has paid attention to the way that the uniforms hang on the soldiers with folds and wrinkles that make sense and add to the air of realism. The faces appear the have been individually sculpted as well. The folds of the cast-on flags is very well done (I still hate cast-on flags because I lack the talent to paint them well). Whoever did the sculpting is a true talent worthy of recognition, these are tiny works of art.

         Very Highly Recommended

Strelets Saxon Huscarls 20mm 1/76

front of the bax
it gives a good idea as to what a shieldwall might look like

       Strelets adds to their already expansive Dark Ages range with the addition of King Harald's Huscarls. These figures represent the hard core of a late Saxon army, full-time soldiers that served the will of the king instead of some local lord. This set adds variety to the equipment and posing that is already present among the earlier releases from this manufacturer.
       The figures are cast in a stiff but flexible rust colored plastic that holds detail well and displays a minimum of flash and mold lines. All but one of the figures on the sprue will find a place in a Saxon shield-wall, the odd man out has decided to go hawking (a nice touch if Strelets were doing a set of Dark Ages civilians but rather out of place here). The equipment and weapons are historically appropriate and the detail of the chainmail and faces is very good. Some of the poses are rather flattish but that is an inescapable product of the molding process and they will still look great in a group. The depth of the sculpting and detail should make these easy to paint.  The anatomy of the miniatures is excellent and the poses are reasonable for troops fighting in a battle line. Anyone looking to build a wargaming army or a diorama for the late Saxon period in Britain would do well to start with a box of these troops.

        Very Highly Recommended

Zeppelins and Blimps and airplanes, Oh My!

Well the British Blimp/Zeppelin collection is done.  So it is time to look at what they will be bringing to the party. 

This painting of a "Sea Scout Zero" Blimp machine gunning a submarine has long been the root of this game idea.  The insanity of working over the deck of a submarine with a Lewis Gun as an attack strategy, all the while flying around at 40 miles an hour in a hydrogen filled balloon.  Is just so intimately British to me.  That combined with a former professor who once told me that the British were so out of their minds worried about Zeppelins that they actually put a 2 pounder canon on a blimp to try and shoot down zeppelins. This needs to be a game, heck this needs to be a genre of games! 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Strelets Saxon Fyrd 20mm 1/76

 front of the box
it provides a good idea of what the common folk would look like

       Another addition to Strelets already large range of Dark Age miniatures this box gives us the lesser folk; no heroic warriors here just simple people who are fighting to defend their homes from the attackers. These are the type of soldiers who would be found fighting against Viking raiders, or as back-rankers in the event of a full-scale invasion. Their equipment accurately reflects this, no or very little armor, simple weapons such as axe and spear, very few even have helmets. The miniatures are cast in a stiff but flexible rust colored plastic that is cleanly cast with very little flash and excellent detail retention. The figures are all reasonably posed and the sculptor has an excellent understanding of proportion and the way that various clothing types drapes over the figure. The position and ferocity of the sculpting makes you imagine the desperate hand-to-hand fighting from the television programs like Vikings and The Last Warrior. A few boxes of these combined with a box or two of Strelets Huscarls of King Harald would give a fine example of the Saxon force at the battles of Stamford Bridge or Hastings in 1066.

       Very Highly Recommended

Dusty Projects Challenge; Part VIII A Large Spanish Galleon

now that I look at it the sails appear almost naked 
something will have to be done

       Another entry in the Long Lost Projects Challenge. Nothing special with this one just the San Martin in a different paint job. It took quite a while because I chose a bad color combination and each color took several coats to cover adequately. This makes six models in nine days, it seems I'm falling off the pace a bit! I will have to make  a huge effort tomorrow because I'm supposed to be picking up three more ships on Monday!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Dusty Projects Part VII A Random Spanish Nao

actually it is just the Santa Maria in fancy dress

       Still trying to hit one model a day. The Revenge took a bit out of me so I scaled back my aim and built one of the simplest kits in the pile the Santa Maria. Stock out of the box except I added a row of gunports along the side (simply squares of card glued on the side). I had painted ones on the Santa Maria but found the effect unconvincing. This is a little better, on the next one I think that I will drill holes and square them up with the door open above and a bit of sprue for a cannon.

Italians in Belgium Bombing Britain ... Why? Because we can.

So as I painted through the Germans and British from Blood Red Skies, I noticed that there was really very little variation, on either side.  The Brits are Spitfire's supplemented by a few holdover Hurricanes.  The Germans are ME 109's, Various bombers, and some Stukas and ME 110's for something different (they are kind of siting ducks).  To make the limited selection of models worse, there was a VERY limited variety of camouflage, The Brits have two patterns, and the Germans really only one pattern.  So as I was slowly losing my mind painting the same pattern over and over again (48 times for the Germans, but who was counting), I remembered that the Italians stuck their nose into the hornets nest too.  So I resolved to find some reasonably priced versions of the Italian entrants if possible for variation. Shapeways provided the following. 

In the foreground is a Fiat G.50  and in the rear is a Caparoni C.A. 135.  The Caparoni is substituting for a Fiat BR 20.  Both have a same silly tail design and defensive armament, although the Caparoni is a little smaller and can carry slightly more bombs, at a slightly slower speed.  

Book Review, William III's Italian Ally

       William III's Italian Ally, Piedmont and the War of the League of Augsburg 1683-1697 
       Author Ciro Paoletti
       Artist  Bruno Mugnai
       ISBN 978-1-911628-58-3

       Ciro Paoletti has added a noteworthy volume to the library of English- accessible books on the War of the League of Augsburg. Why Helion insists on belaboring every book they publish on this period with a headliner reference to William III is beyond comprehension (particularly as in this case he was William III for only part of the period of the conflict!), the subtitle Piedmont and the War of the League of Augsburg 1683-1697 is far more accurate and descriptive. The stupid title aside I found this a vastly informative volume.

       Written in a breezy conversational style (much like a well-done lecture),  Paoletti gives an overview of the situation before the outbreak of war, then describes Baroque warfare in general before delving into the organization of the Savoy/Piedmont army. From there he further examines the uncomfortable (for Piedmont) alliance with Louis XIV's France before heading into the reasons for Victor Amadeus' switching side. This leads into a year-by-year description of the campaigns against France culminating in Piedmont switching sides and finally achieving Victor Amadeus' war aims. The book is profusely illustrated with period maps and scenes as well as portraits of all the main characters. Further enhancing the illustration is a section of color plates by the very talented Bruno Mugnai. One quibble is the inclusion of period battle maps with no further description, they are of little use, or interest, when the reader doesn't even know which side is which. 

        Happily free of the ponderous translation errors that have plagued this series thus far, this book was an easy and enjoyable read. From a wargamer's point of view there could have been orbats for the armies each year rather than round numbers and new maps of the battles, sieges and maneuvers would have greatly enhanced translating this interesting series of campaigns to the tabletop. This book should provide the reader with an excellent entryway into this much neglected (in English) but important theater in the war of the League of Augburg.

       Very Highly Recommended

Dusty Project Challenge Part VI, The Revenge

        In an effort to force the pace on the COVID-19 lockdown modeling challenge I have been trying to keep on a one-ship-a-day pace, but it is difficult. Today we look at the Revenge, another fine kit from the Zvezda stable of 1/350 scale kits. Flawlessly molded in a soft tan plastic this snap-tite model displays the elegant detail and innovative design that the rest of this series demonstrates. Another set of superb decals accompany the model as well.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Go Big, or Go home! Zvezda 1/350 San Martin

the front of the box has some nice artwork

        Continuing with my lockdown inspired building spree I knocked this one together this afternoon. I should have suspected something was up when the box was twice the size of the Golden Hind kit and had some real heft to it, this kit is a hulking beast. That is not to say that it isn't as beautifully detailed as any other model that you would get from Zvezda; it simply dwarfs the previous two kits in this series.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Dusty project challenge Part IV; The Golden Hind

very nice graphics, too bad about the text crowding the picture so much

       Having enjoyed building the Santa Maria in 1/350th as part of my Covid-19 lockdown inspired Dusty Project Challenge I decided to turn my gaze to a rather larger model; the Golden Hind.  This is a very much more involved kit.  It is cast in the same medium brown plastic as the Santa Maris and displays all of the flawless molding and fine detail that is a hallmark of Zvezda kits. Parts fit and finish was very nearly perfect.

Friday, April 24, 2020

All At Sea Dealing With The Lockdown, Long Lost Project Challenge Part III (Updated)

       Still imprisoned due to the Wuhan virus I continue to bulldoze my way through the mountain of projects lying about my basement. Now it is the turn of the 1/350th scale 17th century ships that I bought over a year ago and never even opened. Well, that has been remedied and the Zvezda kits are up to my expectations. I have to admit that when I first saw the "snap-fit" label I was prepared to be deeply disappointed but I came to respect the skill and ingenuity of the designers when I was building their 1/100 scale armor kits. The ship models display the same high level of detail, flash-free casting and perfect fit that have become a hallmark of this brand. They also have the advantage of having been designed with wargamers in mind and are made to be used as waterline models. I started with the smallest model, the Santa Maria (yes I know that is a 15th century ship, but it the only thing close to a frigate available in plastic in this scale).

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Shanty-town, and a few other things

       Promise completed, if a fair bit late! As part of the "Finish one of your old projects" challenge I got all of Rich Uncle Pat's  shanty-town completed today. I must say that it feels good to be clearing old projects off the workbench! Next I will take a crack at the 1/350 scale 17th century ships for the Epicurean Wars campaign. In the meanwhile here is a look at the shanty-townn before it gets shipped off to take part in R.U.P.'s African Cold Wars games.

fences, wells, a church and some farm buildings

Monday, April 20, 2020

Long Lost Project Challenge Updated! Again! And Yet Again!

       Having just completed one project that had laid dormant for a while, and just beginning another that was shunted aside for an embarrassingly long time, I have decided to challenge everyone to take a look in those dusty corners and find a project that you had started a while back but failed to finish. Get it out, dust it off, and get it done. Most of us will be imprisoned for at least the next three weeks which means that we have plenty of time to get cracking  and, if not finish the job, at least make some substantial progress.

       I have finished Zodhani Commando's Afghan terrain and now I'm working on Rich Uncle Pat's shanty-town buildings. After I have completed that I am going to get out my 1/350 scale 17th century fleets and get them built and painted so that the naval components of the Great Epicurean Wars will be properly represented.
      There is no prize, and precious few accolades, just a chance to challenge yourself and encourage others. Please post your project in the comments section with a link to your blog. For those without a blog or web page send a photo of your progress to me at (Challenge Project in the title please) and I will post your progress in an update to this entry.

       OldSarge gets first dibs for sending me the link to his Samurai Castle project; he has been 3-D printing this thing for a while now.

My Challenge Project

Zeppelins vs Blimps! Using Aeronef rules

Probably due to watching "Things to come" too many times (an old Raymond Massey movie based on an older book by H.G. Wells) as a youth.  The idea of a Zeppelin game has long rattled around in my head.  In a History class long ago a professor once told me that the Brits were so flustered/scared of the Zeppelins that they experimented with arming blimps to go fight with the Zeppelins.  During basic research for a sub chase game Anton and I have often discussed I discovered specific references to British schemes involving Blimps vs Zeppelins.  So I decided to combine the two into one project and here it is.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Hooray for Osprey!!! Free Books!!!! Updated

    The much better than fine folks at Osprey Publishing are GIVING AWAY FREE BOOKS to make everyone's enforced time-out a little less tiresome. Each week for the next four weeks they are offering five titles for free. You can check into their website and download the Ebooks for no cost, the selection will change week to week so check back often. And remember to support Osprey in the future as a way of saying thanks for this incredibly generous offer.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The End of German Bombers

Something Churchill prayed to have for several years.

So we in Michigan had one decent day last weekend, while we were all under house arrest.  So I grabbed my three boxes of Zvezda, JU-88 bombers (the standard Nazi "heavy" bomber of WWII), sat on my front porch to avoid upsetting my wife with the smell and glued the three bomber together.  I decided this time instead of giving another painting demonstration, I would do a build demonstration, and since it is the last of these bombers I am doing it will work out well as if anyone looks these posts over they will now see the build post first and then see all the painting demonstrations afterward.  The builds are all generally the same.  The planes go together generally easily, but there is always a problem or two.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A Tupolov for every occasion

Officially known as the Tupolov ANT-40, but commonly referred to by its service name, the Tupolov SB-2, the Soviet Union created one of the most influential bombers in World History.  At 41 feet long with a 66 foot wing span this bird (Soviet crews nicknamed it the "Pterodactyl") was a tight flyer.  At a top speed of 280 mph she could outrun most fighters on 1934 and with four machine guns she could outfight those that could not be outrun.  Truly the prototype fast bomber.  However, with a payload of 2500 pounds of bombs she could deliver the same or more destruction than her medium bomber competitors.  There is little wonder why these "pterodatyl's" saw service with 11 different airforces in the 10 years from 1935-1944. 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Crated up and ready to go!

crated up and rarin' to go!

        That is if our Governor ever lets Michigan free from time-out. I made the side-panels that transform the bases of the Afghanistan terrain boards into a crate for storage and handling and assembled them, now I just await permission to drive across town to drop them off to Zhodani Commando. I feel like a drug dealer waiting to move a shipment.
        Perhaps we could "accidentally" go shopping at the same grocery store and "somehow" happen to have the items with us and make the drop there..........we would probably be the target of a State Police Task Force that would swoop in and arrest the both of us for standing outdoors in a windy parking lot (we would obviously be MUCH SAFER inside the grocery store with all those other people in a stagnant cloud of virus-laden air). I guess that I will just wait until the end of the month for the next extension of our state-wide house arrest sentence. Maybe I could have Door-Dash to deliver it?

This one is for R.U.P.

       Someone once told me "A promise too long delayed is little more than a lie". To my great shame I found the box full of these little gems while I was looking for something else. Quite a while ago I had offered to paint them for Rich Uncle Pat.  Well, at last, I have begun to make good on that promise. My apologies.

Saturday, April 11, 2020


       Anybody that is old enough to remember the song by The Knack gets extra points!

        Being as we are all sentenced to house arrest until at least the end of the month and are thus unable to get together to game I am considering taking part in that foul heresy of Computer Gaming!
So anybody in the gaming clan that wishes to participate needs to reply in the comments section with their equipment specifications so that we can see what sort of games we can organize.
       Space Hulk and Blood Bowl are good bets, and it seems that Steam has Bolt Action loaded with a bunch of terrain and armies already set up and ready to use. Include in your reply the sort of game and platform that you would like to use. At this point I am wide open.
        Desperate times, indeed!!!

Friday, April 10, 2020

The End Of Afghanistan

a long prospect, looking down from the highlands to the river bottom 

       I have too long bored my gentle readership with my seemingly endless adventures in building a tiny corner of Afghanistan. That is now over. At long last I have completed this project (you don't know how satisfying it is to  say that!). All that remains is to crate it up and deliver it to Zhodani Commando, that is if the good Governor will ever release us from house-arrest.

Just a thought(s)

 War is an ill thing, as I surely know. But 'twould be an ill world for weaponless dreamers if evil men were not now and then slain.
                                                                                                 Rudyard Kipling

A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition
                                                                                                Rudyard Kipling

Hi ! My Name Is Paul

Courtesy The Housemartin

      Also known as the Aichi E16A Zuiun, which means "Auspicious Cloud". This is the last of the Shapeways 1/200 scale planes that I had ordered. The plane has an amazing story so let me start by summing that up. The Japanese, like the Germans, had realized that the Panama Canal was a great aid to the Allied cause. The Nazis came up with a plan, Pelikan, that involved two JU-87 Stukas being slipped over to a Colombian island by U-Boat and then reassembled and then launched with "special" bombs to rupture the dam at the top of the Panama Canal. Hitler ordered this cancelled over concern that it had been compromised by Allied intelligence.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Book Review; Wars and Soldiers in the Early Reign of Louis XIV Vol 1

       Wars and Soldiers in the Early Reign of Louis XIV
       Vol. 1 The Army of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, 1660-1687
       Author and artist Bruno Mugnai
       ISBN 978-1-911628-59-0

       This period has always held a fascination for me, so when I saw it was on the way I quickly added it to my Christmas list. To my great joy I received it as a gift. This volume is a treasure-trove of information; bursting at the seams with period paintings, pictures of contemporary illustrations and a goodly portion of new color artwork from the author himself (who is not only a comprehensive researcher but a talented artist). The United Provinces army is examined in detail; hardly any aspect of the process of raising, training, dressing, equipping, supplying or leading into battle goes without examination. Nearly every one of the 256 pages is adorned with an illustration of some sort. Unfortunately (but understandably) most of these are in black and white, if they had been printed in color the cost of the volume would have been many times the current list price.