I’ve been working on some IG-18 field guns whilst tackling the caulk rivers (the caulk rivers are coming along slowly because they require at least two uninterrupted hours of time each session to get anything substantial done…on weeknights I’m lucky to get an hour for modelling (with or without interruptions), so smaller or quicker things get done while bigger ones drag on and have to wait for their turn on weekends).

All of a sudden the crews of these guns were elevated from their long-standing unpainted status here to being complete on Monday night. The guns themselves required little effort – two coats of homemade Dark Grey, some drybrushing with Codex Grey (fading paint) and then weathering with Kommando Khaki (dust coat).

I hit a snag with the gun aiming periscope, which I wanted to paint blue glass lenses on. The lens sticking up over the shield waseasily identified, but not the other one (which the aimer would peer in to). The model had a couple of projecting tubes or knobs which could have been the aimer’s sight – and I had no assembly instructions or painting instructions for these kits to fall back on. Google Images to the rescue! I did a simple search, ‘ig18 sighting’ (minus the single quotation marks) to get 100 resultsResult number 9 was perfect. Figure 79 had exactly what I wanted…the eyepiece. I was able to put Skull White and then Regal Blue onto the correct part.

(Result number 9 comes from a website mentioned here a number of times before – Lone Sentry! I refer to it in earlier posts when discussing the theory and practice of vehicle camouflage).

All that remains for these IG-18s is a final light second dust coat, then the figures can be glued onto the bases (I’ve already glued these guns onto bases). The bases then get two Kayak Brown undercoats, flock glued on and finally a coat of Dullcote to protect them and give them a long playing life.

My sticking of talus onto the river sections immediately after applying and shaping the caulk on them hasn’t turned out well. The caulk didn’t latch on to the talus at all well, so many pieces have fallen off. The modelling grass did better, but I still wasted plenty as a good portion fell off. The lesson for the talus is to glue it on after all the undercoating is done, then do the flock representing grass as a stage after that. The lesson for the modelling grass is – more experimentation and practice is needed in order that more adheres and doesn’t get wasted. I may actually squeeze caulk into my fingers, knead one end of the modelling grass into aball of caulk, then place and shape the caulk ball with its grass sticking out into a bed of already-laid caulk.

Working on the Hasegawa Kubelwagen required some research that went beyond my own personal library. Part of it had to do with the old chestnut of tarpaulins / canvases used by the Germans during the Second World War…in particular, what colours they were. I was also interested in some interior decoration – I wanted to see what the dashboard looked like and a few other small details.

I started off with Google, using the ‘image search’ option. The results quickly pointed to a better way of searching – using Flickr.

I’ve mentioned Flickr a few times on this blog. I’d forgotten its usefulness for a search like this. You see, Flickr has photos taken by enthusiasts whom take photos of exhibits at military museums; photos taken by participants at re-enactment events; photos taken by spectators at re-enactment events and so on and so forth. Some exhibit photos or re-enactor vehicle photos would do the job nicely – because they take the kinds of photos modellers want and need! Multiple angles, close-up on details, interiors.

It was as simple as typing ‘kubelwagen type 82’ and I was presented with a page of very useful results. I found what I needed pretty quickly!

The Kubelwagen has been a little less straightforward than the schwimmwagen as I’d chosen to assemble and paint the kubelwagen driver first before glueing  him and his seat into place. This was a good idea that turned out badly. I had not done a test fit prior to painting – his feet were too big and his left shoulder was hitting the door and preventing the seat from locking into place. These were things I had to remedy after the fact, requiring filing done, re-painting and re-glueing and also damaging the MG pintle (which ended up having to be completely redone with some added kitbashing too).  It looks fine now, but wasn’t worth the bother. I’ve undercoated another Kubelwagen and will be doing it with occupants in situ.

After working through information sources like the Bundesarchiv, “German armoured cars of World War Two”, some Squadron/Signal publications as well as search engines like Google and Duck Duck Go, I decided I needed to see what the definitive text “Encyclopaedia of German Tanks of World War Two” (Peter Chamberlain & Hilary Doyle with technical editor Thomas Jentz, 1999, Cassell:  London) could tell me about star/umbrella (some were called ‘crow’s foot’) aerials (as I knew some of the pictures included vehicles with these types of aerial).

The Panzerbefehlswagen mit 5cm KwK39 L/60 entry showed two different vehicles that both had an aerial with 4 clearly identifable prongs. The prongs all began where the main aerial ended and radiated out at a 135 degree angle. This is probably a ‘crow’s foot’ aerial.

The Artillerie-Panzerbeobachtungswagen (Panzerkampfwagen III) (Sd Kfz 143) had an identical aerial, clearly painted dunkelgelb.

The Sturmpanzer IV (Sd Kfz 166) had a very different arrangement. It had quite a tall aerial with at least three prongs. The aerial extended upwards quite a way beyond the short prongs…in fact, the prongs are probably about 1/3 of the way from the top of the aerial, and are probably only about 1/6 of the length of the main aerial.

Two different Panzerbefehlswagen mit 7.5cm KwK42 L/70 (Panther) vehicles has two diferent star aerials.  One was an aerial with 6 clearly identifable prongs. The prongs all began where the main aerial ended and radiated out at a 135 degree angle – a variation on the ‘crow’s foot’ aerial. The other was a tall aerial with 6 prongs, the prongs about 1/3 of the way from the top of the aerial, like that for the Sturmpanzer IV (Sd Kfz 166).

When I reached the section on semi-tracked vehicles, the types of star aerial I had seen most of prior to this research began to crop up. The Sd Kfz 250/3 without frame aerial had a star aerial with 6 prongs, the prongs beginning at the end of the main aerial. The Sd Kfz 250/5 leichte Beobachtungspanzerwagen had the same.

Armoured Cars – the S Pz Sp Wg (Fu) (Sd Kfz 232) 8-Rad had the same as the Sd Kfz 250s mentioned above.

The Panzerfunkwagen (Sd Kfz 263) 8-Rad had an aerial with 5 very long prongs radiating from the main aerial, but the main aerial continued upwards after the prongs for another foot, then had a thin vertical prong off it’s top. This seems to be the same as that star aerial photo I found in the Bundesarchiv and which I linked to in an earlier post.  “Encyclopaedia of German Tanks of World War Two” suggests that that particular vehicle may in fact be a Sd Kfz 247 Ausf B, by the way.

The photos in “Encyclopaedia of German Tanks of World War Two” are sometimes  more illustrative than those in “German armoured cars of World War Two”, as they are published showing the vehicle at a further distance from the camera – so you can see the whole aerial. This is certainly true of the photos of the Sd Kfz 234/2 Puma – you can see a 4-prong ‘crow’s foot’ aerial in the former text, whereas you have no idea it’s a star aerial at all in the latter.

A learned friend tells me that it’s extremely likely prongs could be folded out (as seen in the photos)  or folded back against the main aerial if circumstances required. Some prongs may even have ben able to be folded out to horizontal.

It’s best for me to conclude that there were a number of types of star aerials in use, with different main aerial lengths, different numbers of prongs and different prong lengths. Not all prongs were fixed, either. As long as you are consistent by giving all identical vehicles identical types of star aerials, that should satisfy most serious WWII buffs. I’ll be sure to do this with all my Pumas and with any other vehicles I decide  (or assembly instructions insist on or the texts indicate) will have star aerials.

Tankoberg has stopped assembling and is now just painting. The Pumas presented an interesting question – should I paint the sets of axles in dunkelgelb or just with bare metal?

I set out using Google and also a new search engine, Duck Duck Go, to see what I could find. Certainly, searching images turned up lots of beautifully painted model kits in a number of scales, but none clearly showed axles. Even walk-around photos of museum vehicles didn’t oblige! While diligently going through the first 20 pages of results for a search, I found step-by-step photos of a model kit WIP (work in progress) in 1:6 scale.  Egonzinc’s Sdkfz. 234/2 “Puma” *Building the Model” was very informative and I, like those who have already commented on that discussion board, also wish to congratulate him heartily for such fantastic work.

I elected to follow his example and paint my kits’ axles (and also the undercarriage) dunkelgelb, not base metal, just as Egonzinc had done.

Next day, still testing out Duck Duck Go, I did some more general searches about painting Sd.Kfz. 234/2s (or any of the 234 family, since I have a 234/3 and will be buying some 234/1s eventually). As with the searches discussed above, I found a lot of photos and text about how modellers were painting or had painted them – but that wasn’t what I wanted. I’d searched my historical books and had seen photos of actual combat vehicles in plain dunkelgelb, two-tone camouflage and also three-tone camouflage. The Hasegawa kit assembly instruction sheet and box that the kit came in has a painting guide for three-tone camouflage, for a vehicle in action. So, the paint scheme is dark yellow, red brown and olive green in a mottled pattern – and this vehicle is on the Western Front, in Normandy. I’m interested in Eastern Front!

More searches unsued. “German  armoured cars of World War Two” (Milsom & Chamberlain 1974, Arms and armour Press, London) was clearly showing me vehicles with different paint and camouflage schemes! So did Bundesarchiv. So did historical black and white photos from other websites.

An examination of one result hit the jackpot – an English translation of the web page Sd Kfz 234/2 by Francisco Javier Cabeza & Carlos Martín. It had everything I wanted – authoritative text and historical photographs in colour. The Combat Use section is most helpful. Paint schemes and camouflage schemes are discussed as thoroughly as sources allow, as well as markings and divisional insignia. Francisco and Carlos have referred to some texts I own and also some I don’t, but I consider what is on their web site to be accurate and their sources to be high quality – therefore I’m acting on the  information they present.

I noted that the SS Panzer Division used three-tone cammo’d Pumas (but then, SS units usually got the best quality equipment). I decided that since mine were to be Eastern Front, I’d leave them as dunkelgelb but with proper markings. I’ve got some Hetzer tank-hunters who will get a heavy three-tone camouflage scheme and I’m going to do my Panthers in three-tone camouflage too.

Painting has been done with more vigour since this historical research and very fortunate pair of discoveries! Research is a wonderful thing.

Last week I needed some good interior photographs of the Sd.Kfz. 250/3 leichter Funkpanzerwagen, to see exactly how the FuG12 radio should be glued into the Italeri kit (the instructions provided weren’t clear on this point). I wanted to know if the radio and it’s frame should be pressed up against the rear wall, or should there be a gap? How about the side wall?

I worked my way through Horst Scheibert’s “Schutzenpanzerwagen: war horse of the Panzer Grenadiers” (Schiffer Publishing, 1992) and found some dandy photos but none met these precise needs.  I turned to Google, that well-known search engine, and began working through the pages of results that I got for my searches.

Now, I know most people will try a new search or give up completely after looking through one or two pages of results for a search, but I don’t. Given that for most simple searches you’ll get over 100,000 results, to give up after looking at the first two pages of results means that you are giving up after only looking at 20 of those 100,000 – which is a miniscule 0.02% of the results.  I usually start to think about trying another search after the first 10 pages, and will usually do it after looking through the first 20 pages of results if nothing worthwhile comes up whilst checking.

My successful Google search was as follows:  sdkfz 250/3, and I searched with the default “the web” setting.

Result #6 was

Sd.Kfz 250/3 Greif 1:16 GPM

Sd.Kfz 250 “Greif” 1:16 GPM. CONSTRUCTION REPORT · HOME. ©Johnny Svensson 2007.
http://www.papirmodeller.com/gallery/greif/greif.htmlCachedSimilar

Johnny Svensson is/was assembling a paper-card 250/3, in 1:16 scale. He provides nice, clear colour photos of both unassembled components and then step-by-step photos as each part is glued into place. Page 3 had all the clear, well-illuminated photos that I needed. My thanks to Johnny for such a thorough report and also for putting it all online for all to see! Thank you, sir, and well done!
So, that was from a successful Google Search. I tried over an hour with many unsuccessful search combinations before I got to that particulr result. Other searches I tried were things like:
  • 250/3
  • 250/3 photo
  • 250/3 interior
  • 250/3 interior photo
  • 250/3 cabin
  • 250/3 radio frame
  • etc.
With those unsuccessful searches, I looked through many pages of results, and began to consider the next permutation of the search terms after page 10 of results.
What is obvious from all this (and what I hope you learn from this) is that there is no “magic search” that will always get what you want. You have to try a few different search terms & search combintions and be prepared to spend some time checking results you get.  Don’t discard the results you get too quickly, either! Check at least 10 pages of results for each search.


Successful Swap & Sell

June 13, 2009

Last weekend was Model Expo 2009. I was going to enter some of my Germans in the Wargaming Army competition but have pushed those plans back to next year. I did attend the Swap & Sell, which I’ve done four times.

I was able to purchase two ICM kits (as well as a fair few other things!) which will be interesting to assemble. Here’s a link to ICM’s web site.

I had been contemplating buying some of their kits to begin a Reconaissance Platoon, with SdKfz 222s. Well, I was fortunate enough to be able to buy one of ICM72411 Sd.Kfz.222 WWII German light armored vehicle.

I also purchased one of   ICM72451 Krupp L2H143 Kfz.70 WWII German light truck.

I would have purchased more of each if I could, but one of each was all that was available. Once I’ve got these Tigers finished, then I’ll be moving on to these kits.

***

Oh, and as for Bing trumping Google in useage last week? Well, with all the heavy advertising across every last web page Microsoft has influence over, why wouldn’t it do so for a week? People will try it out for a short while. It’s whether they stay with it. I certainly am not.

I’ve been alerted through work about the search engine Bing.

I’ve tried it for a few searches, mostly simple “phrase and word” searches like ‘”eastern front” terrain’ and ‘”eastern front” forests’. Then I compared results obtained to results obtained with the same searches in Google.

The results I got in the first 5 or so pages of results in Bing certainly seemed very retail-oriented…not so helpful when I am looking for fact or history-oriented. True, Google also returned many retail-oriented in its first few pages of results but it also yielded plenty of factual results early in results.

I felt even more unhappy with my results when I saw that prominently displayed at the bottom of each results page in Bing is the statement,Some results have been removed.” Clicking on that link does not let me go in and tell it to show me all results, regardless of adult content or not – frustrating. Why tell me they are removing some results and not let me try to find out why and do something about it?

Doing a bit of research into Bing – I was primarily trying to find Media Releases and the like trumpeting its availability to the world –  I found the follwoing two informative articles which I urge you to read,  “Discovering more about Microsoft’s Bing search engine” from The Guardian and “Microsoft’s bada Bing” from The BBC. The quotation from Shar VanBoskirk in the former is revealing – so much so that I went to the source that The Guardian used and reproduced what I consider the important information here:

* Bing focuses on delivering answers, not Web pages.  Microsoft research shows (and Forrester’s research affirms) that users rely more and more on search engines to deliver solutions…hotel reservations, movie listings, gift ideas, newsclip replays…not just a directory of Web sites.  Bing was developed to help consumers make decisions, not just to catalog content.
* Bing organizes content/results by searcher (not algorithm) relevance.  Using research of what types of results have proven relevant to former searchers, Microsoft has organized its Bing interface to deliver the content users are most likely to value, rather than just content that matches an algorithmic formula.
* Bing filters out results that aren’t relevant.  Instead of giving users an overwhelming volume of results, Bing acts as a concierge to help point users to the results most likely to meet their need.

That comes from the May 28 2009 entry on the Forrester Blog for Interactive Marketing Professionals.

My thoughts? 1) It’s delivering answers – but answers to retail-style questions first and foremost. I’m trying to make decisions – but I need lots of reports, observations, memories, photos and so on first. 2) Bing organises by searcher relevance. Who are these searchers? Why trust their judgement about my results? 3) Filtering by what rules/guidelines? Why can’t I turn them off if I’m not getting results similar to those which Google can?

Darren Waters’ article on the BBC website is also well worth contemplating, especially this quote:

But Microsoft is playing smart and is likely to say that it is trying to compete not with Google, but with Yahoo, currently the number two search engine in the US.

The reason is clear: Microsoft is so far behind Google in search that, in many respects, it is not even in the same race.

While Google enjoys more than 64% of searches in the US, Microsoft trundles along with 8.2%. But Microsoft is at least notionally able to compete with Yahoo, which enjoys 20% of the market.

My thoughts? 1) No wonder I’m not happy with Bing – it’s only trying to beat Yahoo! Search. Google has, in my mind, defeated Alltheweb, which was a serious contender, and until late last year I used it for all my wargaming research. Now I’m using Google because it indexes more content and more obscure yet valuable content, such is it’s power. 2) Bing is Microsoft’s search engine, tweaked and revamped. I never used it previously, because of its limitations – for now I’ll leave it alone, too.

On the plus side, Bing did show me Steven Thomas’ “Balagan” website, where I saw and read about his efforts in making terrain templates. Here is his page –  Modelling: Terrain Templates. I hope you enjoy it and it gives you ideas – I certainly enjoyed it. Well done, Steve!

(This post is one of those job-related, ‘Librarian issues’ posts that occasionally pop up here. Normal modelling/gaming/hobby posts will be resumed very soon!)

This is an another aside, but important because it continues what I was discussing in my previous post.

I found searching through Flickr for good photographs for which to examine brick colours, surrounding terrain detail, tree shapes, water course colours, town layouts and the like very time-consuming for the few useful photos I found. This is largely because few people will use the same words as Tags to describe their photographs as you use for searching. Exceptions are the WW2 history buffs, but many photographs are those belonging to tourists and they will use general terms for their subject content, such as “house” +”Germany”, whereas you’ll be looking for “town house” + “brick” + “world war”.

I would therefore advocate using Google or Alltheweb or whatever your favourite search engine is, and just do webpage searches, not image searches – again, because images embedded or linked on webpages often don’t have the sorts of words you’ll be trying to search with (some may just have a number). However, as part of your search, do try using “photo” as part of the search.

Do some searches and do look through at least the first five pages of results. Do try looking at some webpages and have a look at the photos/images there. Once you strike gold, mine the whole seam and if the website has a page of Links, try those links too.

To date, those have been my experiences and these techniques will be what I keep using into the first part of 2009. Hopefully by then, photos in Flickr may have some better Tags.

At a swap-meet this month, I was lucky enough to purchase a now out-of-print Panzer III M by Revell. The box art shows it with schurzen (armour skirts) and they are included with the sprues. I wasn’t aware of Panzer III’s having schurzen at all, so I decided to do some historical research to see how many did, if it was standard issues, etc.

Part of this research involved searching the web, since I spend much of my day online (for my work).

I decided to use a search engine I normally wouldn’t use, KartOO. My search string was as follows:                  panzer iii m schurzen

Fairly reasonable, I thought.

I encountered a number of problems using and navigating in KartOO. These were:

  1. If I move forward through the pages of results, then click on “Back” (in Firefox), I go right back to the start screen and have to execute the search again. Annoying.
  2. My search string of panzer iii m schurzen gets only 99 results in total. In using search engine Alltheweb, I get 1020.
  3. By default, KartOO is set to search pages from the United Kingdom first. This is not good practice, unless a search engine states that it is specifically set for a country/region (like ANZWERS, which is Australia & New Zealand–centric and clearly states this).
  4. “Topics” is a misleading or misnamed feature. Clicking on something listed there limits results further by what you clicked on. With only 99 results to start with, this is unhelpful.
  5. “Image Search” and “Video Search” are just naked Yahoo! search engine searches.

http://www.achtungpanzer.com/panzerkampfwagen-iii.htm has what I want, and it is on the first page of KartOO. This is good.
It’s also on the first page of results with Alltheweb, but on the second page of results for Google.

The visual mapping is too limiting to me. The results gained in a text-driven search engine like Alltheweb are far more meaningful to me, as I can examine all the URLs which offer plenty of guides as to a site being historical/descriptive or a vendor and also I can see other words and phrases on the result page, which again are useful guides.

Visual mapping – is it a passing fad? Time will tell.