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. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Strelets Confederates Defending 20mm 1/76

 the front of the box

       Strelets continues to expand their massive American Civil War line with this latest addition; Confederate Infantry In Defence. Having comprehensive covered the Confederate army on the offensive we now see them standing on the defensive. This set provides an excellent selection of Confederate soldiers firing and reloading, you can almost see them standing atop Marye's Heights at Fredricksburg. The figures are cast in a stiff but flexible gray plastic that holds detail well and displays little flash or mold-lines. Inside the box you will find one sprue of command and casualty figures and three sprues of soldiers. The uniforms and equipment are correct for mid to late war. The proportion and posing of the figures is top-notch , the sculptor captures the look of the baggy uniforms quite well and the equipment is well detailed. These should be a joy to paint and will look great in a wargaming unit or as part of a diorama.

          Very Highly Recommended

Monday, April 6, 2020

Afghan Lowlands Part II, the project approaches completion!

fields and canals is where we left off 

       Having double-coated the clay-ball "boulders" with a thinned solution of Titebond and allowed it to dry I began the next stage in finishing the Lowlands; Paint. I had added a couple of small hills to the "back forty" because it just looked too empty, and this is intended for a tactical game (we have all seen Gallipoli, running across open ground is just a bad idea!). The whole thing got the inevitable coat of chocolate brown paint and things proceeded from there.

AD2020, First Quarter review

       Shamed as I am by The Housemartin's prodigious output over the last quarter I also find myself running almost a week late in my quarterly review. I had gotten off to a decent start but, over the last six weeks, the world has been turned on its ear by the latest gift from Communist China. I will confine my outburst to saying that I would dearly love to punch that rat-bastard Xi right in the face for what he did, the blood of thousands is on his hands.

       But on to happier things.

       Over the past quarter I managed 36 posts on this blog and five on the Epicurean Wars blog. Among those there was one book review, three convention reports (Battlefields, Flintcon and Spartacon) and two reports covering historical places that I have visited.

        A very large number of posts (14 to be exact) covered my adventure into 1/600 scale ACW ship models that was the product of a happenstance purchase at the Flintcon flea-market. An additional five covered my resumption of the Afghan Village project for my friend Zhodani Commando after a disastrous melt-down and fire situation (things have been moving along nicely in a solvent-free manner since then). Figure production is way down; fifty-three 15mm figures and a paltry three 28mm figures (I did assemble sixty 28mm Ancient Greek figures but they haven't got past priming so they really don't count), I did get nineteen of the lovely Thoroughbred Miniatures models completed and based and scratchbuilt a 1/600 model of the CSS Tennessee to go with them. Along the way I posted Andy Callan's wonderful ACW naval rules along with ship charts and firing templates. Over the past twelve weeks I managed to get in fifteen wargames but posted a paltry five AAR's between the two blogs.

       All told not a bad start to the year but scarcely worthy of the amount of free time that I have; I must do better this quarter!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Quick! Someone fetch me a herring!

hardly King Arthur, but you get the idea

        Not satisfied with just one bad Monty Python reference I had to go one step further and build the "mightiest tree in the forest" Essentially it is just an expansion on the shrubbery concept but with a few enhancements.  For starters I had to add some wire to stiffen the trunk of the tree at it will stand well over eight full inches in height; second, as this is not part of the Afghanistan project, it will be based individually. The base is a soup-can lid (I have one of those nifty can-openers that gets the lid off of the can without making a sharp edge) I weighted this by hot-gluing a 2" fender washer to the underside. Then I twisted up an armature from some florists wire.

Friday, April 3, 2020

An Absolutely Fabulous Resource

       I don't know how long this will remain available so if you have even a passing interest in the War of Spanish Succession you need to take a look at this right away; God Save Catalonia  
       It is a free ebook (not currently downloadable, but accessible) with a history of the fighting in Catalonia and some wonderful artwork of the troops uniforms.

We Want A Shrubbery!

click on the picture

       Once again the surfeit of free time intersects with the dearth of opportunity to buy simple items that I would normally use and force me into a position wherein I have to make things by hand. Exhibit One; normally I would simply buy railway shrubbery and get on with the job of adding vegetation to my terrain. This not being possible for two reasons; all the local brick and mortar joints are closed and I lack the patience to wait for Amazon or Ebay to bring me the goodies. Thus I was forced to fall back on skills that I had acquired many ages back, before the internet and ready-made Chinese junk. I was going to have to craft the shrubberies by hand. It is stupidly simple but terribly time consuming (time being the only resource that I have a lot of right now it seemed a good match).

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Stone Walls Do Not A Prison Make....

.....but they work just fine as field boundaries.

the river is on the bottom edge of the picture, the two narrow channels are irrigation canals
 (made just wide enough to admit one of Zhodani Commando's figure bases)

       While I am still on fire for building terrain I thought that it would be a good idea to get moving on the second terrain panel of the Afghan Village project. This panel is designed to join any of three of it's sides to the panel with the village see this link for a background on the design idea. It represents a fertile low-lying area with access to a river and some irrigation canals. Unlike Americans the Afghans have the sense to build their towns on rocky hillsides and grow crops in the fertile flat lands; perhaps because they have so little fertile land.
my hills aren't quite as high