Friday, November 29, 2013

Something different... for me!

Tomorrow I shall, for the first time ever, be participating in a HoTT tournament.  I'm hoping my long past experience of DBM will keep me reasonably competitive.   Not that I'm expecting much in the way of battlefield success, but to be there just to see the imagination that goes in to the HoTT armies of the other contestants.  
7YW Russian HoTT Army ...
or is the M'yasmic Expeditionary Force
about to embark upon an exploratory mission?
Me?  Well, my army is probably about as unimaginative as you could get, and lacks the 'glamour' of gods, heros, dragons and lurkers of the deep.  But I hope it will have a certain ... charm ... of its own:

Army Left Wing: Shooters, Artillery,
Riders and Lurkers.
Here it is:  a plain old ordinary, down to earth, unpretentious (yeah, right) 7YW Russian Army, or perhaps it is an expeditionary force from the Grand Duchy of M'yasma, making ready to march eastwards into mysterious, magical realms, there to encounter dragons, sorcerors, heros, yea, even gods, and, possibly too, dark denizens of deep and desert.
Army Right Wing: Artillery, Shooters and Spears; Lurkers
and Knights

The Army comprises:
2 x Cuirassier stands (Knights.  One is the GoC stand) @ 2AP =  4AP
2 x Hussar stands (Riders) @ 2AP                                           =  4AP
2 x Grenadier stands (Spears) @ 2AP                                      =  4AP
4 x Musketeer stands (Shooters) @ 2AP                                  =  8AP
1 x Artillery stand (Artillery) @ 3AP                                         =  3AP
1 x Jager stand (Lurker) @ 1AP                                               =  1AP 
12 stands                Grand Totals                                              =24AP
Looking along the line...
The lawn could use a mow...

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Mystery Anti-Tank Gun

Recently I acquired, among a whole swodge of interesting additions to my WW2 and Moderns projects (heaps of stuff I'll be working on for quite a while, I reckon!), were a couple of small anti-tank weapons that have occasioned me some perplexity and puzzlement.  Right here, I offer my thanks to everyone who has attempted to resolve the mystery for me.
Mystery German anti-tank guns.

'Mystery' gun and PaK38 
Mystery gun and PaK38 -
different angle.  The latter looks much larger.
When I first saw examples of these, and observing the superficial similarity to the larger 7.5cm PaK40, I supposed they were 5cm PaK38s, if perhaps on the small side.  As such I was pleased to have them.  

But then I found that they were not very similar to PaK38s at all.  The examples I had ended up as the basis for Soviet 45L46 antitank guns instead. 

A huge contrast between these two:
PaK38 on the left; on the right the
'mystery' gun.
Thinking about this in more recent times, I wondered if they might be one of those tapered bore weapons.  The 28mm Solothurn I could rule out.  Those first generation Airfix fellows were reasonable examples of those, as the following pictures indicate. 

Two Airfix sPzB41 anti-tank guns/rifles.
These are from the first generation
Airfix 'Afrika Korps' set of figures.
Image found in the internet
in which wheels are attached

A Solothurn sPzB41 abandoned at Stalingrad
Ruling out the 28mm Solathurn (a.k.a. sPzB41) and the PaK38: what remained?
ESCI and Fujimi 37mm PaK35/36s.
The slightly larger scale ESCI gun has
entered service in the Red Army as
45mm L46 ATGs.  Compare with the 'mystery'
gun at the bottom right.
Not the 37mm PaK35/36, that's for sure.  Totally different look there, and the actual gun was bigger even with the weapons overall smaller profile.  The picture below serves to compare and contrast:
Another comparative picture.  The 45L46
can be removed from its base, making a much
more flexible war games arrangement than the
fixed PaK38 (acquired second hand).
 From left to right as we see it:
1. Mystery gun
2. Fujimi 37mm PaK35/36 Anti-Tank (from the PzIIIM/N kit)
3. ESCI 37mm PaK35/36 Anti-Tank painted up as a Soviet 45mmL46 gun.
4. Metal 50mm Pak38 Anti-Tank.

Finally I seemed to recall the existence of tapered bore gun slightly larger than the 28mm sPzB: the tapered bore 42mm PaK41.  This was not to be confused with a 7.5cm weapon also designated PaK41.  Online researches into the appearance of this weapon were pretty inconclusive, but came up with this, from the 'Historywarsweapons' site:

"The 4.2 cm Pak (Panzerabwehrkanone41 was a taper-bore anti-tank gun in service with the Wehrmacht between 1941 and 1945. ... 
Barrel length: 2.25 m
Weight: 560 kg
Elevation: -8º to +25º
Muzzle velocity: 1265 m/s (4,150 ft/s)
Effective range: 1,000 m"
The image footing the brief article I have some doubts about, but even so, I will take it as my 'authority'.  My newly acquired mystery guns will enter service with the Wehrmacht - or the Army of Orotina as the case may be - as 4.2mm tapered bore PaK41 anti-tank guns.  The barrel on the model, including the breech, is just on 30mm, which, at 1:76 scale, comes to between 2.28m and 2.29m: very close to the the 2.25m barrel length specification.  That will do me!
Finally, just to close this posting, here is a pair of Soviet 45mm L66 anti-tank I bought second hand with a whole bunch of other stuff some years ago.  All I did was touch up the guns and reflock the bases (I tend to a fairly minimalist approach to this).  It has to be admitted that in Command Decision terms, the huge bases could be a problem!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Jobs in progress...

The refurbishing of just a portion some of the multitudinous inventory of recently acquired stuff is proving a challenging task: quite a lot to do, and then find accommodations for them.  Here's a few...

This particular Tiger has proved a beggar to fix: as fast as I glue bits back on, other bits fall off. Unfortunately its track broke as well.  It has come this close to being 'laid up in ordinary' for its parts.  I had to drill a hole through the centre of the sprocket and the axle point in the hull, and trim down a toothpick, shove it through and glue into place.  I just could not by any other means get the thing to stay on.  The front three road wheels are equally problematic.   

In the end I've had to glue them all into one 'unit' and then try and secure them into place.  The broken track will then have to be dealt with.  The plan is to stretch the whole over the sprocket and road wheels sufficient to bring the ends to touching - or as close to it as may be.

It is not helped by my noticing the buckled turret roof I had not previously observed.  Might not be so easy to mask that! 
The Tiger below has been a trifle better behaved.  The tracks tend to wibble all over the place and I might be forced to glue them to the road wheels to get them to look right.  Eventually I'll get hold of some turret bins and exhaust covers for these machines.

Below are the 3 ROCO Tigers receiving the first (rough) coat of 'factory yellow'.

Below is the StuG being reincarnated as a StuH 105.  Some filling work will be needed around the muzzle brake.  The paint work looks rough as guts, I accept, but I reckon the thing is too delicate to chance stripping.  Once painted, weathered and inked I'm hoping it will pass muster.  It is likely this chappy will be fitted with side schuertzen as well.   

 My new Panther company - or probably reinforcements to existing companies, building them up to 4 AFVs apiece.  I think I have 17 Panthers now - a full-sized 1944 company in 1:1 terms; a strong battalion in Command Decision terms.  These will need glacis plate MGs refitted, but these are otherwise in pretty good nick.

 A welcome addition to my British Army transport: a Bedford prime mover for the 5.5-inch medium artillery. Note: it has since been pointed out this is in fact a Matador, an AEC manufacture.  Nothing to do with Bedford.  My mistake: I knew - or ought to have known - better.
The flat bed, tilt and cab were glued back on - which proved less simple a matter than it sounds, actually. There's still something skew-whiff about the thing, but nothing too serious. 

  Lacking the rear axle assembly - which would have been pretty delicate anyhow, I simply glued on a block of balsa, and then bored a hole through it for my toothpick axle.   It's no work of art, but it will do methinks. A liberal coating of PVA and a black wash or paint will disguise it sufficiently, I reckon.  The underside of trucks is not something we want to inspect too closely too often anyhow.  We aren't interested in their gender, are we...?
 Below: two 8.8 cm FlaK.  The near one I have had for some years, the farther is one of them there recent arrivals.  The near one has been missing one of its folding legs since I acquired it, back when Methuselah was a lad running bare-arsed around the hills of Mesopotamia or wherever.  The new guy seemed also to be missing a leg, but it transpired it was there, and the turntable assembly was wanting a small broken off piece to hold it in place.  In the end I simply glued the floppy leg in the 'down' position.  The old 88 will get a wooden leg... There is also the temptation to remove the gun shields and call them Russian 85mm AA guns. I could use a couple of those...
Although these little guns are supposed to be PaK38 50mm Anti-tank guns, they really are far too small for this.  Some research seems to indicate they could be 42mm PaK41 tapered bore weapons.  Most of the images I've found don't look too much like these, but there are one or two I've seen that do resemble this model.  Not many were ever issued (fewer than 400), and they seem originally to have been designed for the Parachute troops.   So that is what they will be defined as.   
 As I have some of the old Airfix sPzB41 28mm Anti-tank gun/rifles, they will be roused out, given some wheels and pressed into service as well.

Finally, a PzIV addition to my 2nd Panzer Battalion.  This is a PzIVF2 by the look.  I've had to replace the odd road wheel (e.g. the green one), and one of the return rollers is missing.  That has been replaced by a piece of tubing that, with some filling and judicial application of paint, weathering and ink, will be sufficiently disguised.  I hope. This fellow comes across in the photo as a hardened veteran of many battles...
It has all been pretty rough and ready, but gradually we are progressing...

Monday, November 11, 2013

More is the new ... More!

Recently I was offered by a fellow Christchurch war gamer of note, Robin Sutton, a bunch of three ROCO Tigers to add to my felicitous cat-type collection.  Naturally I was very happy to accept, but, whilst I took several days working out how I was going to arrange to collect them, round came Brian and Brent not only with said Panthera Tigris times three ... but also a bunch of fascinating other intriguing goodies.  
Panthera Tigris: my new Heavy Tank Coy 656.
 Examining the rest we begin with this interesting trio.  The DUKW doubles my collection of this particular vehicle.  I don't have much in the way of amphibious or beach landing vehicles or craft, so this is a welcome addition.  The little fellow on the left looks very much like a Light Mark VI tank, probably a scratchbuild - not a bad scratchbuild if it is!  Not having much of an early war inventory, I have just about decided it will feature as a light tank left behind in Tchagai by the Brittannic Empire, withdrawing from the country post independence...  In whose possession, though?  The Tchagai government, or the rebellious Baluchistan hill tribes...?  I have a little bit of a scenario in mind for that...

Then there is the ROCO Sherman, minus mantlet and gun.  There are occasions when that kind of deficiency is very welcome.  This Sherman will get a cardboard or plasticard mantlet, and an offset 'wooden' gun, and serve as an armoured Forward Observer vehicle.  Just the ticket.  Had it been more compatible, it would have been too tempting to have incorporated it into the main corps of Sherman tanks.

 Three very useful trailers!  One is wanting its wheels, and another  its towing ring (and front wheel, but I won't bother with that).   Very handy additions to my WW2 Allied Armies.

Now we come to this interesting chappy. 'What is this delightful... thing?' asks Hexxus of the tree felling machine that released him (animated movie Fern Gully).  It took a bit of a while to figure out how the three elements fitted together...
 ... though what looked at first like a boarding ramp turned out to be a fold-out military bridge.

 A little bit of fiddling about seemed to indicate that the 'AA gun thing' was actually a hydraulic mechanism that fitted something like this.  Having taken this photo, I thought I'd post it and get a laugh...
...but in fact I was on the money.  Once I figured out how the bridge was supposed to fasten on, it looked just the deal: a M48 A1 bridge-laying vehicle.  My Tchagai Army Engineers will be chuffed, no end.

The hydraulic mechanism extended. It looked so right, it had to be true - but how did the bridge fit?

Aha!  There we go!  The vehicle can be unclipped to leave the bridge free standing (so to speak).

Finally, this APC thingy will just have to be a command vehicle of some sort.  Those wheels are characteristic of the ROCO toy models - intended for ease of pushing along a floor, and not as part of the depiction of the real thing.  Clearly this is meant to be tracked vehicle, so tracks it will get.  Most likely cardboard.

I like cardboard.  excellent modelling material...
Robin: I thank you.  Robin has his own blogspot, by the way, that can be seen here:

Monday, November 4, 2013

Leopard in the Wild

Possibly the 'centre piece' of the recent trove of stuff received from Brian and Glenn was a German Leopard I MBT, pretty much painted up and ready to go.  Brian suggested I give the ink treatment, but I thought before that, I'd do the brown a much paler shade of tan-yellow, and outline the green with a different (darker) green.  The pic below shows the Leopard after those two tasks were done.
 But the think needed something more. I thought.  First an identifying number.  As I have decided my Imagi-Nation of Tchagai is Urdu-speaking, it seemed to me numerals along those lines were called for.  The numbers will be pretty much randomly selected, rather than some serial system.  This tank is #248.
 The tracks came next.  So far unpainted, I thought a red 'rust' treatment, yellowish dust/dried mud dry-brushed overall, and then a slosh of Nuln Oil overall would be the caper.  
 The tracks were very loose as well, and one threatening to break.   So first I glued them to the bottom of the road wheels, and attempted to 'drape' them between the sprockets and return wheels.  The process was a very qualified success, only barely solving the looseness problem.  The draping came out sort of OK, but no better than that.

A little touch up with the rear lights - not very accurate in close up, but looks OK from a distance.  
And then weathering.  In the pictures, the weathering (dry-brushed desert yellow) looks a bit heavier than it does at a normal viewing distance.  But I reckon I might go a bit easier on subsequent vehicles.

Finally, an incoming rocket's eye view the Leopard, inked and weathered.  
 In an earlier trove was this ROCO Chieftain.  Being smaller in scale, I thought it could represent a kind of 'Chieftain Junior' - perhaps a Mark of Vickers Main Battle Tank built for the international market.  It doesn't look quite like any of the actual marks exported, but not so very different, neither.  I thought of calling it a  Vickers MBT Mk 5.   (A.k.a. Susan.  Nah, I'm kidding).
 Having looked once more at the paint work, I have decided I will make only minor modifications.  Most of the decals, roman characters and arabic numerals will go.  But that floral motif, seen on the off-side front mudguard, looks so good, I will keep it.   So far, then, I have done only the ink (Nuln Oil) outlining.  

 That treatment picks out the top detail quite nicely...

Welcome to Chuck - from The Land of Chuck - Follower #96;and robbie3rodiss, follower #97.  Check out 18th Century Studios ...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fixer Uppers

Just this last week I received a further infusion of stuff for my WW2 and more modern projects.  On old friend, Glenn, was divesting himself of some (mostly) Airfix odds and ends, some of which came my way via Brian.  Truth to tell, it was a bit of a jumble (no less welcome for all that), plenty of kitty litter (I'll explain anon) and other bits-n-pieces.

1.  Part of the kitty litter, a rather nice Leopard I tank.  Keeping the basic camo pattern, I repainted the brown as a lighter, yellower colour, and bordered the colour edges a darker green (I thought).  The ink wash over all rather darkened the whole thing.  To do: weathering, especially traffic dust; tracks.  These are very loose, so I'll probably glue them and try for the drape effect between the return wheels.
 2.  More kitty litter: Panthers, Tigers ... oh, and a StuG.  The guns of the panthers need replacing so are getting cotton buds fitted over a toothpick inserted in a hole drilled into the front mantlet.  That should keep them firmly in place.  The Stug will be transformed into a StuH 42, with a 10.5cm haubitze.  These tanks needed road wheels refitted as well (thanks Brian or Glenn for ensuring all the 'bits' were there!).   
 3. PxKpfw IV:  I already had one short of road wheels (the green one) so I reckon one of these will have to be cannibalised.  I suspect it will be the green guy that will suffer what happens to a white member of the crow family: dismembership.
 4.  Artillery.  I thought I got only bits of the 5.5-inch, but in fact it was all there ... in bits.  I haven't glued the gun on yet, but the rest is there.  I'm still toying with replacing the gun barrel with that of the short Soviet 152mm gun with the shark-gill muzzle brake... The thing would need extra wheels adjacent to the existing ones, though...  The other is  ROCO gun, by the look, but have no idea what it is a model of.  A German 15.0 cm piece maybe?  At any rate, it will probably fetch up in my 'modern' Imagi-Nation of Tchagai.  The extra gun barrel will form the basis of a scatchbuild of a similar weapon.
 5. Anti-air and Anti-tank:  A rather nice 8.8cm FlaK 18 (the shield was included but I forgot to include it in the picture.  The loose 'leg' will have to be glued into place owing to a missing 'bit', although, as I have another one of these also with a missing leg, some cannibalizing might be in order.  The other two little guns are from an Eidai kit.  They seem to me very small for 50mm Anti-tank, but I'm wondering if they might be acceptable as 28mm taper-bore weapons.  Any advice on this?  At least one I acquired years ago of these got a change of shield and fetched up in my Russian Army as 45mm Anti-tank...
 6. Trucks - transports or technicals?
I couldn't resist seeing what one of these handy looking lorries would look like mounting an anti-aircraft gun. The temptation is strong, but I have a feeling that we might instead be looking at a mobile rocket battery with these two  vehicles.  What sort of rockets?  Good question...
 It might turn out to be a small rocket company with a platoon of SAM and a platoon of Saggers, or something.  The white truck need a windscreen frame repair...
 7. Light transport.  Little work required here, just some wheels re-attached, a schwimmwagen outboard drive glued on and the kubelwagen is wanting a new windscreen.   The lead motorcycle turns out not to be German, so will fetch up as a badly needed SMG m/c platoon in my Red Army.

8.  A very heavily munted Matador truck.  The cab and tray have been reglued back on, and a broken front axle repaired.  It will probably have to be reinforced somehow.  One of the rear leaf-suspension assemblies has gone the way of journeyers to the New World (i.e. 'west'), so the remaining one will probably be removed, and the both replaced with a cruder but sturdier wooden arrangement with a wire axle driven through it and the wheels put on.  Prime mover for the 5.5-inch, perhaps?  Very likely.  The Tchagai army, post WW2, will no doubt have a acquired a battery of those fellows...

9.  A M16(?) half-track in pretty good condition, give or take the wobbly off-side front wheel.  The left front wheel did have to be re-glued, as normal.  The thing with these sorts of vehicles is the fragility of the front axles in particular.  Certain Japanese kit manufacturers solved that problem with wire axles, which had for wargamers the essential virtue of robustness.

10.  My very first Churchill, excepting the Matchbox bridge-laying chappy I got second hand a zillion years back.  Fortunately all 7 detached road wheels came with it.  The trick will be to get them back on...
 11.  Non-historical Armoured car.  Airfix aficionados will recognize this vehicle.  Nearly 40 years ago, not knowing better, I bought 3 of these new.  Since then I have acquired at least as many more.  What to do with them?  Actually, they can be rebuilt (if you're not too finicky) as SdKfz 231 or 233 types, with 20mm turrets or 75L24 guns mounted in an open fighting compartment.  The guns and their shields can be built (scratch-building trails and wheels) as PaK40 anti-tank guns, or as 7.5 cm field artillery.  I made a couple of the latter years ago, then changed my mind and remade them into PaK38s - not a good decision as it happened.  They are now Pak40s again, with cotton-bud gun-barrels.

 Such a pity, though.  The vehicle as designed has such a cute menace about it...

12.  Panther, panther... a bit of work needed to re-attach road wheels and redo the guns.  The guns will be cut to length, and muzzle brakes attached.  The muzzle-brake characteristic of the Panther I find difficult to scratch-build well.  It will be my usual method: carved from the ink reservoir (emptied) of a ball-point pen.  You shove one end into a pencil sharpener and give it a few twists.  Then just in from the 'sharpened bit' you carve a couple of square slots diametrically opposite each other.  A couple of mm beyond these 'slots', cut square through the barrel.  Taking the slots as being on either 'side', trim a sliver from that circular end top and bottom.  There's your muzzle brake.  It won't win modelling prizes, but it will look the part.
 12.  Tiger, tiger... These were fine, but for the horrible tracks.  A few road wheels needed sorting, but they were little problem.  The near vehicle's track is much shorter than required simply because the thing bust when I tried my usual trick of stapling the ends together (with a bloody munted stapler, be it noted; my own good one has  disappeared, done a bunk, vanished into the sunset {i.e. gone west}).  I think this bloke will have to be mounted on a base, and the gap disguised by landscaping (a strategically placed clump of grass, foliage or rock, maybe).   Each of these tanks will also receive a turret bin.  Tony...?!
 13.  StuG III or StuH 42?  I'll have to fetch a missing road wheel from somewhere, otherwise this Airfix StuG III vehicle was reasonably intact.  Looks as though a return wheel has gone where the young man was told to go (yep: west) as well.    The gun was, as usual, broken off.  Again, 'I outs wi' me hand drill, knocks a hole in the gun mantlet, eh, and shoved in a bit of toof pick.'  A short, carefully calculated (20mm) length of cotton bud forms the barrel of a 10.5 howitzer.  Again, my pen reservoir muzzle brake will complete the model of a StuH 42.
Plenty to go on with, then!  It took an evening or two to get these vehicles in their present condition. Another evening or two should see the repairs completed (I hope) and then we can start with the repainting.