Sunday, May 9, 2021

Not Even Half-way Finnished

        Having built a slew of Russian aircraft last week I pushed ahead to try to complete a portion of the opposing Finnish force. The air force that served Finland in the Winter War and in the Continuation War was a polyglot accumulation of aircraft that were secured from a wide variety of  sources. A good many planes continued to served well past their "best if used by " date simply because there was no alternative.  I have but a few of the types that flew with the Finns but will continue to add to the collection as opportunity allows. As it stands now I have a pair of Fokker D XXIs and a single Curtiss Model 75 (known here in the States as a P-36).

I reviewed and built the Revell P-36 here,
 it is a nice little model that goes together very well

A way to conduct hex-based movement without hexagons

        My recent efforts into building air forces for pre/early WW2 air combat has me looking at rules sets. Almost all of these operate with hexes as the unit for controlling movement and weapon ranges. They are also unified in the idea that the game will be played with 1/300 scale models. Being as my collection is 1/72 scale models adjustments will have to be made. To begin with nobody makes playing mats with 5" hexes, thus I would have to have them custom-made. Secondly there would be no other use for said mats and third I would have to find some place to store said items. On top of all that I would have to pay for them! This simply would not do. Another method would have to be found.

       At first I though of some sort of appliance, such as is used with Star Wars X-Wing or the cards from Wings of Glory. These free the game from the constraints of hexes with it's odd 60 degree turns but pose logistical complications in fabricating the many different maneuver markers (as well as the issue of handling and storing these large items). One of the things I liked about Check Your Six was the chart with the possible moves that a plane could make clearly laid out in the corner of the player's sheet. These show the path and orientation of the aircraft making the maneuver. How to reproduce that movement on a table without hexes was the trick.

       At first I thought of using hexes cut from MDF (I'm sure that there are a couple dozen places that would be happy to do that for me). The problem being the expense combined with the bulk and weight, additionally I'm not a patient fellow so I didn't care to wait for them to arrive. Casting my eye about the workshop I spied a pile on card discs that were left over from a arts& crafts project with one of my granddaughters. Circles stack into hexagon patterns naturally (see a honeycomb as an example) so there had to be a way to make them function as hexes.....

       Then it came to me............

Friday, May 7, 2021

Gaming Update, 8MAY2021, 7pm

 We will be gaming this Saturday 8MAY21 at 7pm at my place

More Finns to halt the Communist Imperialist agression

        Having built more Soviet fighters I decided it was time to switch sides and add some weight to the Finnish Air Force. I have one Fokker D XXI ready to go but that isn't enough for a game. To remedy this I am adding another Fokker D XXI and a Curtiss 75 (known in the 'States as a P-36). Both are old kits (from the 70s) but were a breeze to build. I'm just starting getting paint on these birds but they will soon be ready to defend their tiny homeland from the Soviet invaders.

these old kits are not going to be any IPMS prize-winners 
but they are simple and fun to build plus they are perfect for my uses

at times I think that I'm spending too much time on the crew figures

they are both set up for magnetic flight stands,
 now I just have to finish the paint jobs

        I am currently battling my inner demons of messing with rules. I like the speed of play that card-movement systems like Wings of War provide but cannot abide with aircraft moving in only two dimensions, I also like the granularity  of  Check Your Six damage assessment. Then there is the question of finding a playing surface marked in 5" hexes to accommodate my flight bases......

Monday, May 3, 2021

Three Polikarpovs Fly Into a Bar........

 

this weekend's efforts....three Polikarpovs (one in Chinese colors) and a Corsair

       In my efforts to get a sufficient force together for a game of Check Your Six (or something to that effect) I decided to stop pussy-footing around and get into production mode. I broke out two of my old Revell I-16 kits, a Heller I-153 and an old Testors Corsair kit. The Revell I-16 has been reviewed previously as has the Heller I-153  and both are pretty straightforward builds. Dating back to 1953 the Testors Corsair kit is a weird combination of engraved panels lines and poor casting. As a static model it would be much better because little effort was made by the designers to make the parts fit in a "wheels up" mode. It is a primitive kit but will do the job as air-support. 

        The Revell I-16 kit benefits from having a complete set of "wheels up" landing gear doors while the Heller I-153 has all the parts but leaves you to figure out the assembly in the retracted position on your own. One of the I-16s and the I-153 were painted for the Russian Front in the period of 1939 through 1942, medium green and bold red stars. The remaining I-16 was painted in nationalist Chinese markings of dark green upper surfaces, a striped tail and roundels on the light blue underside. The Corsair got the all navy-blue colors for the Korean conflict (it is destined to my friend Rich's collection).

       Now I just need to get some opponents finished........

How much is too much?

        I will happily admit that I have a fascination with aircraft that have spatted landing gear, I also like ungainly and unusual looking aircraft. So far I have constrained myself to single engine aircraft but the field of the ugly and ungainly gets ever larger when you add extra engines.The worst part is that there are kits in 1/72 scale of some of these flying abominations. Witness this; the Handley-Page Heyford, a multi-engined bomber that was the mainstay of the British bombing force in the mid-late 1930's. The last of these were only retired from front line service in 1939!

yes Timmy, that is a REAL airplane

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Gaming Update, 1MAY21 1900hrs

 We will be gaming at my place this Saturday May 1st, 2021AD at 7pm.

Rumor is that The Housemartin will be rejoining us after his long hiatus.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Photo Survey, Tellico Blockhouse, Tennessee

a look at the blockhouse from our friends at Google Earth
the left half is the original military fort, 
the right half is the rather ramshackle civilian trading post that grew next to the blockhouse

       Built in 1794 to "protect" the Cherokee from encroaching settlers the Blockhouse served as the official liaison point between the United States Government and the Overhill Cherokee people. The Blockhouse stayed in service from 1794 until 1807. Today it is surrounded by water from a TVA dam built in the 1930's it originally was near the top of a large ridge. Several significant treaties were signed between the Cherokee and the U.S. government and the Blount Conspiracy was initially exposed there as well. You can find further information on this Wiki post and on the State Park's website.

Wargames Atlantic Lizardmen in 28mm

        Another addition from the seemingly tireless crew at Wargames Atlantic these Lizardmen are perhaps the most versatile so far. Usable either in High Fantasy, Victorian Science Fiction,  Post-Apocalyptic or Regular Science Fiction this box is bursting with options. Cast in a firm gray plastic they are flash-free and nearly devoid of mold lines. The detail is crisp and carefully rendered with fourteen heads and a choice of weapons ranging from swords and spear through to modern-looking assault rifles on each of the eight sprues. At less than two dollars a figure these are a must-have for anyone building an army of the lizard persuasion. I got my set from Michigan Toy Soldier who would be happy to sell them to you in person or by mail-order.

  

cover art

1/72 Curtiss Goshawk II by Monogram

        Yet another addition to my collection of aircraft with spats this one also falls into the "Yellow Wings" sub category. There was a period of about fifteen years when a desire to be the most garish air force on the planet overcame the U.S. high command. Flying surfaces were painted a bright yellow-gold and many tailplanes were painted to match ot decorated in even louder colors. This all ended when we joined the party of the Second World War but it certainly makes for some fancy-looking models. 

       One of the last U.S. carrier biplane fighters the Curtiss Goshawk II was the culmination of a long line of Curtiss biplanes that served the armed forces. It never saw combat under U.S. colors but a number saw combat under Colombian colors and fifty-two fought for the Chinese against the Japanese in the early years of the Sino-Japanese War. A detailed Wiki can be found here.

the hazards of Ebay, it looked OK in the cellophane
 but upon arrival I found that it had gotten wet and moldy

Friday, April 23, 2021

And There Goes Flintcon!

Thanks to the Decrees of the Madwoman of Lansing we won't be enjoying Flintcon this year:

 

 

Rodney Cain <flintgameconvention@gmail.com>
To:anton ryzbak
Wed, Apr 21 at 9:26 PM
We had to call it off again, the restrictions do not look like they will be lifted in time so I had to call it off.

We will try again for next year in February.


Hat Industrie 20mm 1/72 scale Austrian Infantry; Marching, In Action and Command

     Finally someone has done Austrians in my favorite uniform, the 1798 regulation with the classically inspired helmet. As with several of their recent releases HaT has provided a box of Command, a box of soldiers marching, a box of soldiers "in action" and then a sampler set with one sprue of each type in it.

         The sampler pack is a great way to get the figures and be sure that they are compatible with your other models plus it gives you a good look at what to expect from each box. All four sets are cast in a firm but still flexible yellow plastic that reflects the detail very well. There is a small amount of flash on some of the figures that will need cleaning with a fresh razor-knife.

        All of these sets are cast in the same type of plastic and have an equal level of detail (which is very good), style and anatomical accuracy so my comments apply equally across the range.

the usual above-average artwork
 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Not Dead Yet!

the Nylian fleet begins to take shape

        I confess that I have been remiss in generating posts of late. That does not mean that I have quit the field entirely, just that I have too many things that are making very slow progress. I did dig out a long-shelved project and return to it in preparation for Flintcon on 15MAY21, in fact I expanded that scope of the operation (big surprise there?). The photo above hints at the direction I am headed, a post soon to appear on the Epicurean Wars blog will explain further.

Monday, April 5, 2021

1/72 Fujimi KI-36 "Ida"

 

the classic old Japanese kits always had such cool box-art

       After the trauma of the Airfix BV 141 I needed something simple to restore my sense of balance. I entered The Vault and randomly selected a kit (knowing that it was unlikely that any of them could be worse than the nightmare that the BV 141 kit had been) and found myself with this tiny plane as my next project. Funny how different a model can be. Both kits were of single-engine multi-place recon/light bombers and as kits and aircraft they were about as far apart as is possible. the KI-36 was a simple aircraft  of conventional design; the kit was straightforward, well-designed, finely-detailed and the parts fit perfectly. What a relief!

       The real KI-36 was an army cooperation/recon/light bomber that performed satisfactorily but was outclassed as time went on. It served out its years flying over the "safer" Chinese front. A short Wiki can be found here.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

What is that THING!?!

mine was all marked up with sale stickers 
so I borrowed one from the web
oldmodelkits.com has a wonderful selection by the way

       There are certain things that are so unsettling that they make you look again to be certain that what you thought you saw really WAS what you saw. This abomination  (and a lot of other Blohm & Voss aircraft) is exactly one such thing. Looking a great deal like a bug that got caught in a window fan or perhaps something assembled with spare JU-88 parts this bizarre addition to the annals of flight is the product of B&V's habit of building asymmetric aircraft. It seems like they were trying to prove a point of style; but all it got them was a series of rejected ideas. A fuller description of the development and use of this odd bird can be found on Wikipedia.  I do have to think that the strutting little Nazi in his smartly turned-out uniform had nothing like this in mind when he wrote the specifications of a single-engine, multi-seat reconnaissance plane (doubtless he had something much more mundanely functional like a Henschel HS 126). One look at this aircraft would be enough to pop the monocle right out of your eye!

       But enough about the plane, what about the kit? Frankly, it is horrible. First released in 1971 it shows it's age; huge rivets, thick plastic that is badly warped, poor parts fit, thick glass (and this bird has a lot of glass) and thick, stiff decals that are off-register (and after forty years are a medium amber color). Not one of Aifix's high points!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Heller 1/72 PZL 23 Karas review and build

 

bought while I was working at Squadron Shop late 1970's-early 80s  this is a classic

        First proposed in 1932 when the Polish Air Force was heavily committed to the idea of armed reconnaissance the PZL 23 was an advanced design for the time. By 1939 the rapid progress in engine and design had left this sturdy aircraft in a state of obsolesce.  Circumstances being as they were the PZL 23 was used for reconnaissance and as a light bomber, in fact it had the honor of being the first Allied aircraft to drop bombs on the Third Reich, striking a factory in Ohlau on 2SEP39. Further information can be found in this very informative Wiki.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

A simple post for my simple skills

 


So Having gone through and gotten all of my Japanese and Chinese Flames of War paraphenalia squard away I began thinking about an inexpensive and simple ways to ever so slightly expand the gaming reach of the collection.  I do not want to wander off down the FOW rabbit hole as it is very easy to fall into the "for a few dollars more ..." paradox.   And that is when I stumbled upon this simple idea.  The Brits had oodles of Universal carriers and used them in EVERY theater.  Since the British and Japanese fought in Malaysia, Singapore and Burma quite intensely in 1941-2.  I thought this could be an inexpensive way to alternate the opponents.  And since all the tanks are not really armored at all, it would still make for an "interesting game.  Unlike Anton I am NOT a modeler and do not like building models, so simple builds are paramount to me.  I like to play games, NOT glue my fingers together!  

Monday, March 22, 2021

A Quick Comparison of 28mm Napoleonic Figure Sizes

        Several readers have asked about the size comparison between various 28mm plastic figures; specifically the new Wargames Atlantic 95th Rifles and the products of Warlord and Perrys. To satisfy this query I dug deep into the bowels of The Vault and drew forth some sets of plastic minis that I had picked up over the years. I assembled a figure from three different sets and took photos using the same set up so that the readers may judge for themselves. I then assembled one of each of the poses from W.A. 95th Rifles set and took pictures of them as well.

hardly a scientific instrument but you can see how it works
the grid on the index card is in 5mm increments

A Little Something That I Whipped Up; 1/72 Panzer I Breda

a massive up-gunning from a pair of 8mm machine guns!

       I am afraid that my dear friend The Housemartin has known me far too long. He knows how to casually let something drop in conversation and then let the seed of an idea germinate in my head so that I think that the idea was mine. I have fallen for this a few times in the past, and will likely do so again in the future. Most recently he was bemoaning his shortage of Fascist armor for the 20mm SCW game that he has been collecting for the last couple of decades; specifically Panzer I and Panzer I Breda. He is aware of the Plastic Mountain that lives in The Vault and guessed (quite rightly) that there were a few stray Panzer I kits lurking in cobwebbed corners. He also knows me well enough to surmise that all I needed was a bit of goading to make good on his shortfall. Needless to say I rummaged around and found three Panzer I kits. I built two straight from the box and the the third one I built a Panzer I Breda turret for (as well as the standard turret). 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Monogram 1/72 P6-E Hawk

 

not the original box, but an old one

       I have built this kit several times in my lifetime. In every attempt I let the simplicity and excellent parts-fit trick me into assembling the kit all in one go and then trying to paint/decal it after the fact. Needless to say those efforts turned into a bit of a mess. U.S. Air Corps paint jobs in the late 20's/early 30's were a celebration of the fact that we had no nearby enemies and were unlikely to acquire any soon. To be kind they were garish. They certainly made for a different-looking aircraft. The model is molded in the alarming bright yellow that the U.S. applied to all flying surfaces at the time. The decals are old, thick and annoyingly translucent. But, armed with a full array of Micro-Scale products, I resolved to push on with my "Straight Out Of The Box" rule.

       Assembly was a breeze, the fit of the parts was nearly perfect. This time through I managed to constraint my enthusiasm and stop along the assembly process to get vital painting and decal  work done before final assembly.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

1/72 SMER Dewoitine D 510

 

once again I had to grab a photo from the internet as I lost my box

       I bought this kit simply ages ago and never got around to building it. It got dug out the the Plastic Mountain in The Vault and pushed to the front of the line largely because the landing gear. I just thought it looked cool. It was a straightforward build (the undercarriage was a bit tricky but tube cement and patience overcame that). I went with the all-silver paint job because I loved the "Grim Reaper" logo on the side, and it is a nice change from all that camouflage! This lead to the only real difficulty in the build as my primer (Rustoleum flat black) did not pair well with the Vallejo silver and a large spot on both sides of the left wing and a smaller area on the right wing and fuselage pucker and wrinkled up like Nancy Pelosi's neck! This had to be sanded out and repainted with the attendant loss of the fine surface detail in those areas. The decals were very thin and required careful handling. Overall (aside from the paint thing, which is my fault) this was a fun build and a neat model of an unusual aircraft. There is a Wiki that covers the entire D 500 series right here.

Gaming Update Saturday 20MAR21 7pm

        We will be gaming at my place this Saturday, 20MAR21 at 7pm.

 No certain plans as to the game but I'm open to suggestions.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Keep This In Mind! 15MAY21

I got this email from Rod Cain.


Rodney Cain <flintgameconvention@gmail.com>
To:flntgameconvention@gmail.com
Bcc:daftrica89@yahoo.com
Mon, Feb 1 at 5:27 PM
By now hopefully you all are aware we had to move the date for flintcon and will not be able to hold it this Saturday Feb 6th.

We plan to try again in May so please look at your calendars and see if you can join us on Saturday, May 15th.  Same venue and format as always!

We hope by then to be back to some sense of normal and be able to host the convention safely with all the food and fun we usually have at flintcon.

I hope to see you there and we will keep you posted if things change.

For those that needed more time to prep that game, here you go!

 

JUST LOOK AT THE PAIR OF THEM! Williams Brothers 1/72 Northrop Gamma

 

the new winner in the Biggest Spats contest, the Northrop Gamma

        The thirties saw a succession of achievements and advances that laid the groundwork for the vast air armadas of the Second World War. The advances in aerodynamics went from boxy wire-braced biplanes to sleek monoplane racers and airliners in the space of a decade. One of the leading lights is design and development was the Northrop Corporation (one of three aircraft builders founded by the prolific Jack Northrop). The Gamma represented the cutting edge of aircraft design at the time and was used for several record-setting flights. The Williams Bros. kit can be built as either the "Sky Chief" which was used to set a new coast-to-coast record or the "Polar Star" which was used in the first cross-Antarctica flight. I chose to build the Sky Chief. The kit  was straightforward to build but needed careful attention to the instructions and a significant amount of sanding and trimming to get a good fit. 

        Most importantly the aircraft embodied the art-deco esthetic of the mid thirties; clean lines, HUGE spats and simple but noticeable paint schemes. Of course, what sold me was the enormous spats on the landing gear. Probably unnecessary in their size they could have been considerably smaller and still done the job of easing the airflow over the landing gear struts the massive fairings made a statement of style far beyond their  impact on airflow.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Wargames Atlantic 28mm Eisenkern Stormtroopers


       I don't know of Mike Mondragon or Iron Core but I do know a good looking sci-fi stormtrooper when I see one (and maybe, just maybe, these guys can actually hit something they are shooting at; unlike their white-clad Imperial namesakes!). Wargames Atlantic has released this set of twenty minis; molded in a hard medium gray plastic these reflect a very high degree of detail but exhibit no flash or noticeable mold-lines. The surface detail on the weapons and armor (which might even stop a random blaster shot?) is very good. The minis come with fully enclosed helmets (for folks like me who hate painting faces) of a choice of some characterful faces. The proportions and posing of the minis is good and there is room for modification of the poses. An interesting and affordable option in comparison to the "other Stormtrooper" models currently on the market.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Wargames Atlantic 28mm Napoleonic British 95th Rifles


       I have never been shy about my enthusiasm for plastic figures. They are cheaper, lighter, and can be better detailed and more accurately sculpted than metal miniatures. In addition they are more easily modified or repaired. Over the past few years the quality of the plastic soldier industry has gone from strength to strength, with this latest issue from Wargames Atlantic it may be approaching it's apogee, they are simply superb. Cast in a medium gray firm plastic and showing excellent detail, no flash and only the faintest of mold-lines these castings represent the state of the art in modern polystyrene molding. In addition the detail is spot-on and posing of the miniatures is natural and dynamic. Move over Perry boys, Wargames Atlantic has arrived in the big league!

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Gaming Update March 6th, 2021 7pm

        There will be a game this Saturday, 6MAR21 at 7pm at my place.

Be there, or be reviled!

Monday, March 1, 2021

A Little Something I Threw Together

        A while back I built some U.S. aircraft for my buddy Rich who is ding the Korean war, he didn't have any opposition aircraft so I rummaged around in The Vault until I found these two; an IL-2 (pretending to be an IL-10) and a Mig-15. A quick build and paint-job and they were off to provide some unfriendly skies for the Skyraider and Panther.

both were pretty terrible kits; an ancient KP Mig-15 and an even older Airfix IL-2

but for wargaming they certainly look the part


Road Trip, National Air Force Museum Part V other U.S. WW2 Bombers

B-24s over Ploesti

        Following on to the post about the Memphis Belle I have the rest of the U.S. bomber forces. The U.S. built the only bombers with a chance of survival in a daylight scenario and aggressively used them to attack the enemy at every opportunity. There is a decent argument that the daylight bombing of Germany (and the Browning M-2 .50cal HMG) broke the back of the Luftwaffe by forcing it to fight on a daily basis when the German training program could not produce enough new pilots to replace losses. The brave young men who flew in the face of a relentless and determined enemy rode these famous beasts of war into the firestorm of combat on a daily basis and were instrumental in defeating the Nazi war machine.

Wargames Atlantic 28mm Partisans

 

the front of the box, a nicely done illustration and some beautifully painted minis


       I have to confess that I have been bugging my local Brick & Mortar about this set since I first heard it was slated for production. As soon as they said it was in I ran by and picked it up. I am a huge fan of Wargames Atlantic and their growing line of products but don't let that make you think that I didn't look at these figures with a careful eye. To say the least I am very pleased with what I found inside!

       You will find eight identical sprues of hard gray plastic minis. These are finely molded with no trace of flash and scarcely a mold-line to be found. The detail is delicate and crisply rendered, the proportion and posing of the figures is realistic and convincing, and the weapons are in-scale and accurately detailed.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Wargame on 2/27/2021

I (RichUnclePat) will be running a game of Fisful of Tows 3 this Saturday at 7pm at my house.

It's a very basic scenario with limited "extras" as this will be primarily a teaching game as the majority of people have never played these rules.  I will be using these rules for the modern Pakistan/India campaign that will be run some time in the near future.  SO, if you like micro armor, or just playing fun wargames, please do attend.  

(The scenario is a modified version of the one that appears in GHQs modern Micro Armour®️.)


 


The Battle of Nuiwa-Shar 16 March 1990

In January 1990, an uprising among Muslim fundamentalists in Indian Kashmir threatened to put an end to the delicate peace maintained by the government in Delhi since their annexation of the province in January of 1957. The Hindu government of Kashmir state resigned, forcing India to declare "Martial Law". There were furious protests from the Sharif government in Karachi. Troops were mobilized on both sides of the India-Pakistan border. There were skirmishes and some shelling of border posts, but cooler heads finally prevailed and war was narrowly avoided. Things could have gone differently. This scenario assumes they did.

 On 14 March 1990 after a concerted effort by both sides to reach some sort of agreement, elements of the Indian 15th Army crossed the Sutlej River Southeast of Lahore and entered Pakistani territory. Encountering stiff resistance, they pushed West-Southwest, crossing the Multan-Lahore Railroad, and erected temporary bridges across the Ravi River (their initial objective). At this point, elements of the Indian 6th Armored Division were thrown forward, taking advantage of a gap in Pakistani lines between Jellum in the North and Lyallpur in the South. Their goal was the small town of Nuiwa-Shar and the oilfields along the East bank of the Jhelum River. Before they could reach Nuiwa-Shar, however, they were met by the Pakistani 2nd Armored Brigade, striking South from Jellum in a desperate bid to block their advance.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

One more Crystal Caste review

 


So here we have the Standard Crystal Caste Battlehive, technically "Battlehive I",  It is 11.5 inches wide, by 11 inches tall, and 9.5 inches deep.  This one comes with four one inch think figure trays and two two inch think figure trays.  As usual, you get to pick out the shapge of the storage space you desire.  

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Solving a new problem

 


So as I have been whiling away the hours painting figures and rarely building models during the pandemic I have discovered a problem.  The more I paint, the more I need to store!  This pictures shows my All Quiet on the Martian Front collection, which I have had for some time, but as you can see it takes up quite a bit of space and storage units and this pile does not include the terrain for the game which has its own box.  Something needed to be done.  

Monday, February 15, 2021

Quietly working behind the scenes................

         It seems that I have gotten caught up in a couple of projects that have absorbed my time and energies and detracted from my attention to the blog. Despite the outward appearance of abandonment things are still humming along nicely here at the workshop. I will provide a sneak-peek at something that I have been plugging away at for some time; making the Age of Sail rules more specifically adapted to the era around 1600AD rather than 1775-1815AD. This has caused to spend a fair amount of time reading (and at my age that also means a fair amount of time napping with a book over my face) and a bunch of energy testing various ideas and assembling graphics. I believe that I have managed to achieve something worthwhile in the graphics area and I am close in the rules-writing section as well. But the graphics have turned out he best so far so that is what you get to see;

this is what a Ship's Data Card used to look like,
 crude, utilitarian and rather less than intuitive in use
looking a great deal like a crossword puzzle on a bad LSD trip

       One of the greatest challenges in naval gaming is that ships just don't "get sick and die" very specific things happen. Masts fall, rudders are shot away, captains get shot (here's looking at you Nelson) and magazines blow up. To reflect this there are a lot of complex things going on in the game to provide that level of granularity. This data needs to be recorded in a handy, easy to understand way. As I do a lot of demo games at conventions I have found that very often the data displays for games that are perfectly adequate for a group of experienced gamers familiar with the rules tend to fail rather badly when presented to players new to the rules system. So I re-drew them.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Road Trip, National Air Force Museum Part IV, The Memphis Belle



       When I was a very young man I watched "Twelve O'Clock High" with the precise reliability of the sunrise. It was a TV show about B-17 bombers crews flying missions over Germany during WW2. To my young mind it was live footage shot over enemy territory. My father had to explain that it was actors and only some of the flying scenes were real. He found the movie by the same name one Saturday afternoon and we watched it together. He explained that the "Twenty-Five missions" meant that crews could go home afterwards because the job was so dangerous that very few survived to take that twenty-fifth trip. 

         Some time later we watched the Memphis Belle documentary about the first crew to make it a full tour. My young mind was overawed at the bravery of men who could face that sort of danger; there no place to hide in those big slow-moving birds, you simply had to fight and win, or go down in flames. So, when I came face to face with this legendary aircraft, I was humbled and awed. This was the vessel that faithfully carried those unassuming heroes safely through the chaos and hazards of war.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

When Donkeys Fly, the Revell 1/72 Polikarpov I-16

 

hastily whitewashed the I-16 goes on patrol looking for Finns
 
        Nicknamed the "donkey" "Ishak" or "Ishachok" ("donkey" or "burro") by the Russians the Polikarpov I-16 was one of the first monoplane fighters with retractable landing gear to enter service. It served on all fronts with Soviet forces until superseded by more modern aircraft later in the war as well as with several other air forces, most famously with the Spanish Republicans during their civil war. This model is painted  (and built with its landing gear retracted) for use in gaming the "Winter War" between Finland and the Soviet Union. I have already done a write-up on building one of these models here

       This particular paint-job was inspired by a photo I saw of a badly faded and chipped white-wash camo-scheme, and being the looney that I am I decided to replicate the hurriedly applied, hand painted whitewash work of the Russian ground crew.

and how do you replicate a hand-painted camo-scheme in 1/72 scale you ask?
by finding your tiniest brush and white-washing your model, just like they did

Monday, February 8, 2021

Airfix 1/72 Henschel HS-123A-1 in Spanish Civil War markings

 


       The Henschel 123 was the first dive-bomber of the Luftwaffe, it was replaced by the Stuka but soldiered on until 1944. At one point in 1942 there was serious consideration of placing it back into production ! It saw service in the Spanish Civil War where it was quite effective.

       The first time I built this kit I was twelve years old, at that time it was a new, exotic import from faraway Britain and had just recently been released. My brother and I fancied ourselves "modelling mavens" and we had graduated from shiny automotive colors to the "serious" look of military flat finishes (from the Testors fifteen cent bottles). At that time the molded-on struts with positive location holes in the wings was considered new and avante-garde and made the model a darned sight easier to build. At first we thought that it was a Great War aircraft (it WAS a biplane after all) but, after diligent inquires at the local library, we discovered the Spanish Civil War and all it's attendant issues. The original kit went together like a dream, and nearly fifty years later it still did. 

       Best of all the ancient decals worked just fine. I decided to recreate my first build of this kit (long ago sacrificed to the ravages of the pellet rifle) and use the SCW decals. The kit  builds fine straight out of the box and is very basic so I wont bore you with the assembly details.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Weathering with artists pastels

        Seeking to upgrade the look of my recently finished aircraft models I decided to give them a little weathering (to get that "combat veteran" look as opposed to show-room). I tried to find my old weathering kit but it had gone missing so instead I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some new pastels, a set of blacks and grays and another of earth tones. With a sale going on at 50% off they cost me in total seven bucks. Assuming I don't lose these as well I'm set for life.

Road Trip Part III, U.S. Air Force Museum; The Interwar Years

      Following on from Part I and Part II we have come to my favorite era. The fumbling experiments are part of the past, the fundamentals of flight are well understood and the only limits are the imagination of mankind and the technological capabilities of the equipment. Progress is moving so fast that by the time a plane gets off the drawing board it may well be obsolete. Garish paint-jobs, innovative design ideas, SPATS! Plus the aircraft looked so darned COOL! What's not to love?

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Monday's Child, the Heller 1/72 scale Polikarpov I-153

 

       This kit has been in my collection since 1978 (at which time it was a fairly new kit). Since its introduction it has been manufactured by almost a dozen different companies but this is the original and best. I had just assembled and primed some 28mm Greek Hoplites and needed a break from such concerns so I entered The Vault and dug into the Plastic Mountain where I found this little kit. I had started it some time in past ages so there was only half a build which left plenty of time to get a coat of paint on it in the time that I had free. This is an excellent kit, parts fit was very good and it was easy to build. Alas! There is no pilot, I will have to round one up from the parts box.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Because Somebody Asked.... Decals and such

        I from time to time speak about using products in an offhand manner. It occurs to me ( mostly because people ask what I'm talking about) that some of these items may not be widely available/distributed in the wargaming community. I come to the hobby from a scale modeling background; those guys have nearly as many cool specialist products as the railroad modeling boys. So, after that long-winded lead in I come to my point; a reader asked about decals and how I apply them. I don't pretend that this is the best way, but it is my way and I am (often) happy with the results.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Gaming Update 30JAN21 7pm

 Gaming at my place this Saturday 30JAN21 at 7pm

1/72 Fokker D XXI in Finnish colors

        Oh No!  Not another airplane!

I forgot to take an "opening the box" photo, so I stole someone else's

        Hey, I'm entitled, I finished the Cataphracts and started on some Greeks, besides this only took a couple of hours spread across three days. This is an ancient Jo-Han kit (which I think is a re-box of the even older Revell kit). It was poorly cast (lots of flash) in a relatively soft gray plastic, the decals had curled up onto themselves but I was rescued by Micro-Scale products; Old Decal Saver and Micro-Sol saved the day (they couldn't do anything about the yellowing but that's not their job).

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Road Trip, Part II: US Air Force Museum The Great War


        The Great War saw the first widespread military application of aircraft. In a stunningly short period of time combat aircraft went from tiny, under-powered one or two man planes to multi-engined behemoths that carried crews of as much as a dozen and armed with machine guns and bombs. Speed, durability, reliability and maneuverability all experienced a quantum increase. This vast impulse would lead to the spread of aircraft to all the continents in the years following the war and a world-wise fascination with flight.

Brand New, Warlord "Epic" scale ACW minis

beautifully cast in a strong gray plastic

       When I picked up my copy of Wargames Illustrated from my local Brick&Mortar I found sealed in the bag a sprue of the new 13.5mm (?) size ACW minis from Warlord. I had heard of these and was interested in how a "block casting" of figures would appear in the flesh. Honestly I'm impressed, the figures are grouped together well, the casting and detail work is excellent and the idea of being able to crank out large number of troops in easy to handle blocks is very appealing. In effect they have reproduced in plastic the Paperboys cut-out soldiers (minus all that folding, gluing and scissors!)

        Frankly I'm puzzled, this is clearly the result of a lot of thought and work on the part of the sculptor and the casting company so why on God's earth would you make them in 13.5mm????? Warlord has gotten into a rut of making off-scale games but when you are bringing an innovative product into a VERY well established period the last thing that you want to be is the odd-man-out. This product won't penetrate the 18mm, 15mm, 12mm or 10mm markets; ACW is already over-served for sizes/scales. If the accompanying rules are a breakthrough players will just use existing armies. I can't see gamers pitching huge existing collections just on a whim because the minis are nice. 

        So this is a Hit and a Miss; a Hit on the quality and innovation and a Miss on trying to carve out some weird niche market in an already overcrowded scene.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Road Trip: National Museum of the United States Air Force; Part I Early Years of Aviation

it's so big it takes up the entire interior of an Air Force base!

       I have been running my yap about wanting to go see the Air Force Museum (check out their EXCELLENT website)  for some time now, well last Monday Trunkmonkey and I went. It is only a three-hour drive straight down I-75 from the Detroit area so there is no good reason that I haven't visited recently. Actually it has been nearly three decades since the last time I went. I was happily surprised by the fact that the display area is now expanded from two hangars to five massive structures! Why have I been waiting? With free admission the only cost is the gas to get there, believe me this is well worth the trip!

         This post will be broken down into several parts because I took over 600 pictures before my battery died and I didn't get past the WW2 section.  Each Section will be broken down into a short photo group of the individual aircraft, be sure to check the other photos in the section as you will find that many aircraft appear in the background of the featured aircraft. I don't provide much commentary as I know very little of this era, Wikipedia knows far more than I.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

And they're done...... 28mm Gripping Beast Roman Cataphracts

        This took longer than I thought (probably because it has been too long since I painted any figures) but I have gotten the Gripping Beast Late Roman Cataphracts (which I did a photo-review of here) finished. Even if I say so myself they are a nice looking lot of figures. All figures were painted with Americana acrylic paints and over-coated with Krylon clear matte finish. Basing is playground sand over Americana Honey Brown paint and the grass is a mixture of short static grass and Woodland Scenic's "Burnt Grass" fine turf over Americana Medium Hauser Green.

might need some more work on blending that base into the stand....

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Gaming Update

 My place Saturday 23rd November 2021, 7pm

Be there..................................................................

Errr......massive brain fart (we may very well BE gaming on 23Novermber 2021) but I meant to type 

23JAN21 7p.m.

 

 be there!

Nearing the finish

 Not that these guys would win any races with all that armor on.....

       ......... but I just wanted to show that I am making progress on these

they just need the final details on the faces and horses, 
and sanding and flocking the bases, then varnishing,
OK maybe I'm halfway to finished

Monday, January 18, 2021

Is half a promise a lie?

        OK, OK a little while back I promised that I wouldn't go any further down the plastic model airplane  rabbit-hole until I had at least finished my Gripping Beast Late Roman Heavy Cavalry.....

decidedly NOT an airplane, but still a model.........

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Gaming At Bastion Gaming Center

         The gang and I took the trip up to Bastion Gaming Center to use their new giant gaming space. We played an oversized game of The Pikemans Lament using the stores 28mm painted armies. It was a case of ECW Royalists vs the Roundheads. The King's men were more numerous but not as well trained while the hard-bitten disciplined Roundheads were fewer in number but made of much sterner stuff. 

          We used the "convention rule" wherein a failed Command check did not end the turn but simply left the unit taking no action. The game was marked by the wildest number of "double-ones" and "double sixes" that I have ever seen. In the end the Royalists managed to overwhelmed the Parliamentarians.

Royalists on the right (big surprise there, eh?) facing the Roundheads on the left

Friday, January 15, 2021

Gaming Update, 16JAN21 7pm

 I will be running a game at Bastion Gaming Center at 7pm on 16JAN21. This will be a great chance to try out the huge playing area and comfortable surroundings. Drop by and see the action!

Don't Give Up Hope!

       I know that recently I have gone down the rabbit-hole of model airplane building and collecting, but fear not dear reader, I have not abandoned the brush yet! Unseen by the camera I have been assembling the Gripping Beast Late Roman Heavy Cavalry that I reviewed a while back. They have reached the point where they are undergoing the painting process. As with other products from GB these are very good models and fun to paint. I promise not to build any more airplanes until I get these bad-boys painted and based, I swear!

getting started on the detailing


The Addiction Continues

        It has been a busy week here at the workshop, or, more accurately, here at the keyboard.......I decided to spend a portion of that vast and kingly sum that the pathetic excuse for a Congress condescended to grant to us peons (while setting aside $25million for pay raises for themselves) on some toys. A quick visit to the wonderland of Ebay produced a series of shipments to my humble abode. Additions to my Spats, Too Cool and What Were They Thinking collection! Behold the beautiful toys!

the P-35 is Too Cool, the Gamma has simply HUGE spats and really,
 look at that bizarre thing that the Wellesley is; What Were They Thinking