Trainee Funker was not obeying any orders for a while during last saturday morning and I nearly didn’t get to go to Bayonet Military Model Club’s modelling competition & swap ‘n sell YET AGAIN…however, he finally responded to discipline and so I was able to hit the Western Ring Road and Princes Highway down to Werribee.

The trip is worth it for the B-24 Liberator alone. Here are my photos – approaching the restoration hanger (the competition and swap ‘n sell is inside, along with the plane):  , and now inside, looking at real, restored history:  ,  ,  ,  ,  , some of the business purposes of the vehicle –  , great campaign pitch  – hard to say ‘no’ to that!,  ,  , “pilot to gunner!” –  ,  ,  ,  , again the business reasons –   , their contact details on their advertising trailer if you want to find out more:  .

I scored pretty heavily at this swap ‘n sell:  .

  • 2 T-34/76’s (in 1:76 scale, though) to add to my existing 8 which gives me a complete company;
  • 2 250/9’s which added to my existing kits now gives me two platoons and a spare of these recon vehicles;
  • 2 recovery KVs for particular scenarios;
  • 3 KV-2’s which, if I add to my existing 3, gives me more than a company. But the first three KV-2’s I assembled and painted weren’t painted very well, so I might just give them to Trainee Funker when he’s older and start afresh with these;
  • 3 ISU-152s to add to my existing three which gives me a company plus a spare;
  • a total of five KV-1’s (there is no real difference between these two kits) which is a whole company straight off. I already have a whole company of KV-1’s, in the same situation as my KV-2’s. Two companies? Or one for me and one for the Trainee?

Pretty darned good, if you’ll agree. Plus, all those PST kits were a paltry $5 each, all sealed and in perfect condition. So, $65 bought 13 kits. All the above cost a total of $99.

Here are ‘drool’ photos of some of what was available:  (a fair whack of this stuff can home with me – this was taken upon my arrival at the venue);  ; wow, 1/ 6 scale stuff!:  ;  ;  ;  ;  ; even 1/1 scale stuff for re-enactors…  .

A great way to spend a morning. See some real history and buy some small-scale plastic replica history. Thanks for organising it, Bayonet Military Model Club, and I hope to attend every year from now on!

I’ve completed the major stages of assembly of UniModel’s 1/72 scale SU-85 (or, if you are Russian, 333 UM 1/72 Самоходная артиллерийская установка СУ-85):   . It’s a well-detailed kit, but I think there must be better ways to actually assemble the kit than the way they suggest on the instruction sheet. Since this is the first of a company of 5 that I’m assembling, I’ll assemble the other 4 in a different way. The reason for wanting to do it differently is that, having followed their instructions, part fit of the superstructure to the hull was poor – out came the nail files and there was a lot of filing in order to get part fit, let alone accurate part fit. Not good. I’m reminded of some of the grizzles with assembly I had with the Marder III (h)’s of theirs that I did 4-5 years ago. So, we’ll see how the rest of them go. This one isn’t too bad, but it certainly isn’t going to be the company commander’s vehicle.

Also, I completed the Pegasus Hobbies 1/72 scale Russian Log house – Two storey (Large Karilian region izba) that I won as part of a number of job lots on eBay three years back. Mine looks like this from the front:  and like this at the rear: . It’s to scale, as you can see here, with 1/72 troops (ESCI/Italeri, in this instance):   . It’s meant to be a two-storey building, but there is no “first floor” provided, so I made one with leftover sheet styrene:  so I can have snipers upstairs if I want:  and the first floor sections easily lift out and away for when the door finally gets broken in and close-quarters combat (CQC) occurs:  . As you can see, it is a very big building. Great for diorama or scale modellers, but I think that for wargaming, it occupies too much of the tabletap. I don’t mind a factory or somesuch taking up big slabs of the tabletop, but I’m not so sure a large farmhouse (Russian: изба́) should share that right.

So, now I have a good collection of buildings by Pegasus and MiniArt for the Russian side of the Eastern Front (Ostfront):  – that should be enough for a few years.

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My Dragon 251/10’s are coming along a bit more slowly at the moment, as you have to paint the interiors before you can fully assemble the bodies:  .

 

In the middle of the year I came across a painting technique new to me that I thought I would one day trial. Will over at Will’s Wargames Blog has a post where he mentioned that he had achieved a mottled camouflage pattern by painting using a sponge. I thought that this was well worth trying at a later date – the later date being now, when I’m painting up my ESCI/Italeri Opel Blitz Ambulance variant truck as a mobile HQ.

I wanted the mobile HQ to have a camouflage paint scheme, so last week I bought a common washing sponge (for cleaning around the house or washing the car…you know the kind! Artificial sponge in a yellow or orange colour…why, here’s a photo of the one I used:  ). It cost something like $2.59 at the supermarket.

Last night I decided to try out how I thought this technique would work. I decided to tear pieces off the sponge, roughly trim the torn off piece using my scalpel and then, whilst holding it with tweezers, dip it in paint and then dab it onto the Opel Blitz. Should be easy, right?

I made sure the sponge was holding plenty of paint before each application; pressed it against the truck for a couple of seconds then removed it, pressing it on a second time if the paint was too thin. When I had the green splotches of paint placed to my satisfaction, I cleaned up and made myself a cup of tea.

When I came back, I saw I had applied the paint too thickly! Big air bubbles mired in the thick paint weren’t popping and instead of the paint lying smoothly and flatly, it had lots of texture to it. I grabbed a brush and tried to flatten it, which just went and caused all sorts of trouble, as some splotches of paint had a ‘skin” on them around the edges whereas others didn’t and touching any of it with the brush just made the lumpy ridge-like textures worse. Have a look at how it looked (once I conceded defeat and laid down my brush):  . See those ridges, hills, lumps and so on?

Tonight I decided to try applying the brown paint but I thought I could avoid the mistakes made last night thorough applying the paint at normal strength and thickness by tonight watering it down to 50% consistency.

Seemed to be logical.

Couldn’t see how I could stuff it up this time.

But I forgot about gravity.

When I applied this ‘thinner’ paint on the sides of the Opel Blitz, it just ran straight down the sides and pooled underneath, making a mess of some of what I’d already done. I’m typing this while I wait for the whole mess to thoroughly dry out and I’ll try to paint over my mistakes tonight if I have time. If it looks really bad, I may try to hide it (no irony intended) by glueing some lichen over it.

I think this is still a valid technique of painting camouflage, but paint strength is obviously a factor in success (or failure) as is the technique of applying it to the model.

Keepin’ on truckin’

November 16, 2010

I’ve been working on three Opel trucks:  – they are coming along pretty well, too. All are from ESCI or its partners/new owners: -Opel Ambulance by ESCI; -a standard Opel Blitz transport truck by ESCI-ERTL; and lastly – the standard Opel Blitz now done by Italeri.

I’m not going to do the Ambulance as an Ambulance, instead it will be a mobile HQ so I can cammo it up and it can be an objective in it’s own right in games. The other two I’m doing in early War paint schemes, Dark Grey.

ESCI’s Opel Blitzes are pretty simple when compared to Roden’s Opel Blitzes. Hence, I’ve added to these ESCI Blitzes…from out of the spares box I was able to fashion the width indicator poles which I’ve placed on the front mudguards of each truck. I found an excess in the moulding of the Military Wheels’ Gaz-AAs that I made some years back and through scalpel work and lots of glueing, made it into a wing mirror for the Ambulance. Extra sprue, trimmed with my scalpel, became the spotlights that I’ve added to the driver’s side exterior on each truck, mimicking the spotlight Roden provides.

The Roden kit overall is fiddly…that’s the tradeoff for the high detail. I like the ease of assembling these ESCI/Italeri kits, but they need the extra detail to really bring them to life and make them stand out.

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Paul from Plastic Warriors: 1/76 & 1/72 Plastic Soldiers and Armour has been very helpful with my white metal truck from EBay. He sent me this link to a US-based group of WWII re-enactors, the 716 Signals Kompanie. As well as great photos, the text explains that: “The Mercedes version of the (pre-war Kfz 72’s) truck used a much smaller front fender, longer running boards and mounted spare wheels on both sides of the hood.” That sounds like my truck…so, perhaps what I have is a white metal 1/76 scale Mercedes Kfz 72 with cargo tray?

That same link also helped me learn about the little triangle of plastic I added over the cab of the two plain Opel Blitzes you see in the first photo (which I did because that little triangle comes as a dedicated part of the Roden kit)…that little triangle “…over the windscreen is a trailer towing indicator.” So, there you go! If it’s raised, the truck is towing something (most likely for me, guns). If it’s lowered, it’s not towing.

Thanks again to Paul, too!

Four good lots located in the USA came up on EBay late last month. With the Aussie Dollar almost on par with the US Greenback, I decided to bid well & bid hard on  them as my purchasing power was higher than usual making this an excellent opportunity. I won three of the lots. They were a mixture of assembled plastic kits, a white metal truck & gun and some resin vehicles. Here’s a photo of all three lots combined:  . All three require some work, but that’s fine. They are all resin or pre-assembled, so some of my work has been done for me! The work they need is mostly minor repairs. I’m going to strip the existing undercoat off all the cars and the truck & gun, and re-undercoat all the Wespes. Then everything will get my painting treatment.

I got six Wespes (a whole platoon) in one go. Sure, they have suffered some damage from storage and previous use, but nothing that can’t be fixed:  . Some glue and possibly some bits & bobs out of the leftovers/spares box should get them back to operational status. Then I’m going to undercoat all with black and do the painting my way. I’ll lose a little of their detail in doing so, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Next were some Horch or Steyr heavy cars with what I think is a Krupp 2.5 ton truck with an IG-18 field gun:  . If you think you can tell me exactly which model of Krupp truck it’s meant to represent, please let me know via Comments. This lot and the last lot are all going to require me to buy some new cyanoacrylate glue, as they are resin or white metal kits and so my plastic glue obviously won’t cut the mustard. The Krupp truck & gun are white metal – I can’t see any manufacturer’s mark on it’s undercarriage so I can’t ascertain its providence. The windshield, tow hook, a wheel and a tray bench all need glueing.

The last lot are more heavy ccars and an armoured car:  . All are resin kits. The armoured car is an SdKfz 231. Again, some wheels need glueing. Then these two lots of resin & white metal vehicles will undergo some paint stripping so I can start painting them from scratch.

The Wespes are actually 1/76 scale, as you can see here when you look at them compared to my ESCI 1/72 Wespe in whitewash cammo:   . Again, I cannot determine which manufacturer made them…Matchbox, Fujimi…there is nothing on the undercarriage to tell me. They require more glueing than anything else I bought but I’m overjoyed to note that all the one piece vinyl tracks they came with have not deteriorated at all and so I’m not going to have to scrounge up some tracks to repair them with.

My forces just grew in a sizeable bound. Yay for EBay and the Aussie Dollar!

It wasn’t just the Germans fighting the Russians on the Eastern Front…German allies like the Italians, Rumanians, Hungarians and Finns were there too.

Here’s a link to the translated recollections of an Italian artilleryman who served on the Eastern Front from August 1941 right through until early 1943. It’s a first-hand account of the terrible mud, extremes of temperatures and some of the events that he witnessed. Wargamer readers may get some ideas for scenarios.

I came across this as I’ve twice bought loose collections of ESCI/Italeri’s Italian Mountain Troops (Alpini) at Swap & Sells this year – at NWA’s Autumn sale night and at Little Wars. I’m going to add to them with some Airfix Italians and one day may get a company of infantry on the table.

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Tonight is the Leningrad Oblast game, using the rivers and thickets I’ve made. I’m hoping to beat Peter’s Russians, but they’ll be dug in and waiting for me, which will make the job hard.

ESCI’s 1/72 Wespe kit. An original, not the recent Italeri re-release. Purchased at a Swap & Sell.

While some lucky AFVs received very solid, evenly applied Winter camouflage coats using air-compressed sprayguns (spraygun seen in use here) many had thinned out or poorly-mixed whitewash applied in varying fashiuons – often using ordinary brushes such as these gents do to their Tiger here, but using brooms and even dipping rags into the mixutre then smacking the rag against the vehicle was not unknown.

The whitewash often didn’t stay on for very long, either, leading to all sorts of streaking and fading. This is what I’ve tried to replicate in this kit.

Overall, this kit was pretty easy to assemble. The rack on the left side for holding jerrycans was not standard-issue, however…therefore if I do up a platoon, most won’t have that rack and they certainly won’t have the spare box that I added on the right.

 

The Hasegawa Kettenkrad included in the “Schwimmwagen + Kettenkrad” 1/72 scale Minibox kit turns out pretty well, as you can see from the pictures above. You can also see three ESCI telegraph poles from their Diorama Accessories kit. Those telegraph poles are certainly better than the Fujimi ones! Much more detailed and realistic.

The Hasegawa Kettenkrad is only problematic when it comes to including the figures that are meant to be used with it. Two problems here: 1) You cannot get two blokes sitting on the back – realistically, they should be able to. I decided to go with just one passenger. Mine is packing an MG-34.    2) The fully assembled driver cannot be placed properly. I cut off much of his lower legs, trimmed & filed the stumps and his thighs and then he fitted on his seat and his posture looked mostly normal. Otherwise, it’s quick to assemble and looks pretty good.

You can read about what On the Way! has to say about Hasegawa here. In particular, Stephen Brezinski provides a comparison of Hasegawa’s Kettenkrad versus Academy’s Kettenkrad here.

Still 4 weeks of Spring left, but today is the second day of over 30 degrees…in fact, looking at the MelbinYewni real time temperature graph, today got to just over 34! This means it’s time to think about doing lots of wargames terrain / wargames scenery, as there will be the heat to cure and dry everything thoroughly and promptly.

I’ve made a start: the three telegraph posts from an old ESCI Diorama Accessories set have been assembled, based and given some lumpy earth around their bases…ready now for painting.

I finished off a platoon of PaK 36 anti-tank guns with crews, plus that ICM Krupp truck, so that they wouldn’t bother me and so that “Operation Barbarossa” next year will be a reality. The PaK 36s are from Fujimi, the crews are the one worthwhile figure from the Fujimi set the gun comes in, a chap from the  Revell  Fallschirmjägers and one of the two ESCI / Italeri Sd. Kfz. 251/1 crew. Photos: PaK 36 teams & truck PaK 36 gun & truck .

Some more comments about the ICM Krupp L2H143 Kfz 70 kit…it turns out pretty well and looks great painted. I opted to have the MG 34 on a pintle mount in the rear tray option, to fit in with the Kubelwagen Type 82 which also had pintle-mounted MG34. I don’t like the decals that ICM provided for this kit, though. There is too much excess clear decal surrounding the rear number plate, and even drybrushing with Kommando Khaki as a coat of dust didn’t help…in fact it made it worse and drew attention to the excess. There was also far too much excess on the front number plate – which is meant to wrap around a front bumper bar which is probably only a milimetre wide. Stupid! It wrapped but wouldn’t glue. I know some modellers add a special glue under any decal they apply, but I don’t have that glue and don’t think it should be necessary. The front number plate decal’s glue didn’t hold and so the whole thing popped off during drybrushing. A shame. Sorry ICM, sorry Roden, but I’m not having much luck with your decals.

Now, Fujimi’s product is meant to be 1/76 scale, but it isn’t. Let me clarify…the house probably is, but the figures and PaK gun supplied with it are definitely 1/72 scale or even larger…possibly even 1/70 scale! Anyway, only one figure from that product is worth using with the anti-tank gun because the others are even worsely sculpted and moulded than the figures Hasegawa provide with their WWII AFVs. Hence why each PaK 36 base I’ve done has figures from other manufacturers to make up the two-man crews that Panzerfaust: Armored Fist requires.

Lastly – a couple of Battlefield Accessories wall sections (enough to make two simple houses) have been assembled and are being painted, along with a Faller German, Austrian or Swiss log cabin that I bought at a model railroad shop.

Oh, and there’s a Wespe and that other Kubelwagen still in Tankoberg…but I’m feeling the time is nigh to make a caulk creek / stream following the laws laid down by Nikolas Lloyd.

 

 

…3 of Hasegawa’s 251/9 ‘Stummels’ and a vintage ESCI ‘Wespe’. The ‘Stummels” are continuing the fine detail and mostly easy-to-follow instructions of their other kits I’ve completed (except this time I forgot to drill some fine holes into the floor – I’ll rectify this by cutting off the pins on the relevenat pieces and glueing them flush to the floor, which ishow they would sit, anyway).

The ‘Wespe’ has old vinyl tracks (which it seems Italeri are oddly continuing to re-use in their re-releases, even when link-and-length tracks are better!) which has meant a lot of cyanoacrylate glue (and a bit of a headpin from the fumes), miniature clamps and clothes pegs to held everything in place during assembly. This certainly has dampened my interest in buying two of their Panzer II Ausf. Fs to complete a platoon of 5 with the three vintage ESCI ones I’ve acquired at Swap&Sells and get them all ready for a New Year 2010 ‘Operation Barbarossa’ game…I certainly won’t be hurrying to buy the re-released (by Italeri) Wespe to make up a platoon of 6…why can’t Italeri use the nice vinyl tracks Hasegawa has in their Sd. Kfz. 251 range of kits?

Still, everything is progressing well, all tracks glued well, with the Hasegawa ones even having some nice track sag (thanks to clever use of clothes pegs to hold them during the glueing).