Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Caesarian Romans: Cohort IV, Scorpio & General Part II

Well in spite of other products having been pre-scheduled for my attention I've derailed the production process to crack out another Caesarian cohort of Roman legionaries. Or are they Marian? What the hell - late republican Romans will do.

This is my cohort IV for my legio XI and I have to say I'm having just as much satisfaction painting them as I did their three previous counterparts (cohorts I-III). Thanks to a new print run of Veni Vidi Vici decals, I was back in business for continuing to build what I hope will be my first complete legion.
For this group I went back to the basic blue background with a handful of unpainted leather shields - with black detail instead of white. I used the separate command pack centurion from Warlord Games to further differentiate the unit from the others. This time around he and the optio have natural beige horsehair plumes.
I built up the signum with a couple of battle honor discs out of plastic-card and a tassel from green-stuff. I cut and filed the bull which comes with the Warlord sets to reshape it into what I hope is a convincing ram and added some green-stuff horns so I suppose this makes them the golden ram cohort? I'm happy enough with the final result.
I have jumped the gun a little by completing two scorpio. According to Hail Caesar army lists, I get to field one artillery piece for every three cohorts - so I have two more to do before fielding both of these at one time - if you worry about that sort of thing. I have thought of building a shield stand for the crew but in not doing so I am not identifying them with any particular legion which makes them far more adaptable.
A quick word on my chosen wargames rules. I love Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB). I'll continue to play it into the future. I have; however, been converted to Black Powder for later periods and am looking to play my Romans with it's ancient counter-part: Hail Caesar. I'm less inclined to fiddling with casualty removal and figure counting for dicing than I used to be. I also like the command aspects of the Hail Caesar approach. They are generally quite similar in many respects.
I also painted up an army general and his escorts. In this case I think he will be a Tribunus Laticlavius (the senior Tribune and 2IC of a legion). He will command my army on the table top when fielding up to five cohorts when the eagle is not present - hence the veillarius who I have based with him. My vexillum will be the army standard for a detachment - anything less than a majority of a legions cohorts. The vexillarius comes from the abovementioned Warlord Games command pack and his escorting centurion is the commander who would otherwise have been in charge of this latest cohort. I have made him a centurion from the first cohort (seemed logical) and jazzed up his plume.
I have bought myself two boxes of the now defunct Wargames Factory Caesar's Legions plastic Romans to add to the mix. I have already built and am prepping another Warlord Games cohort - this time all gladius wielding. I only have enough left o make one further cohort after that until my new purchases arrive. I will build my onager only after the sixth cohort is done - a promise to myself. I will also be experimenting with a testudo model. For those of you following the Lead Adventure Forum you will know I've been exchanging ideas with Tom, aka tyrianhalfman (user name). The shields and figures won't get into Tonga for another two months so that little project will have to wait.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Western Desert Force: Rolls Royce Armoured Car (Part 1)

One of the few advantages to being deployed overseas unaccompanied (and there really aren't many) is the time I have on my hands to chip away at my long accumulating stock piles of models and figures. I have a multitude of projects and ideas for my hobby which repeatedly swirl to the forefront of my thoughts only to be filed and re-filed to the back of my mind for when I ever get time to put them into effect. Years ago I bought all the necessary elements for an early war Western Desert Force for the British - a combined armed battlegroup many of you will be familiar with as a 'Jock Column.'
Coincidentally, the last addition I made to the group was my cruiser tank and the artillery observation crew (see previous postings) the last time I was in Tonga. Well, I am getting all worked up again about WWII and I am about to embark on a Dieppe build with nine tanks and few extras in the pipeline. Before I can proceed with that in all conscience I have reasoned I need to finish my Jock Column first.
1938 at Lydda railway station
For my Reconnaissance company I have a pair of what I believe are 1920 pattern Rolls Royce armoured cars and a Morris C9 armoured car all made in resin by Cromwell Models. When I consider the difficulty (read failure) in procuring Cromwell Models products recently, I consider myself fortunate in possessing these items at all. I really don't know if they are resin or plastic but I can tell you they glue very nicely with Humbrol poly cement.
British Army armoured car convoy in Palestine - The daily 10:30 Jerusalem-Afuleh convoy leaving for the North - circa 1936
Now a little word on the Rolls Royce Armoured Cars. My models appear to me to be the MkI 1920 pattern. More commonly, the 1924 open-topped pattern is depicted in North Africa during WWII. Having said that, the images (of which there are several) from the Library of Congress clearly shows the 1920 pattern in use up to 1938 in Palestine and Egypt with the RAF and 11th Hussars.
The Osprey New Vanguard 189 The Rolls-Royce Armoured Car tells us many of the 1920 builds were deployed to the Middle East and ended up in the possession of the RAF who do not appear to have adopted the 1924 pattern rebuilds or the open-topped turret.
British Army Eleventh Hussars arriving at Ludd. Train load of armoured cars etc. arriving at the Lydda Junction from Egypt with the 11th Huzars on July 15, 1938

The 11th Hussars retained their Rolls-Royce armoured cars most of which appear to have been the 1924 pattern (most obviously identified with a high cylindrical turret). Whilst many of these were retrofitted with the open turret, the practice does not appear to have been universal.
My Jock Column has the older 1920 models present in the region pressed into service. In the days before Operation Compass the 11th Hussars D Company comprised Rolls Royce armoured cars seconded from No:2 RAF company and the following images show nicely the mix of variants present in operation at that time.
The above and subsequent shots are taken in Maadi, Cairo in July 1940. In fact the RAF also had hybrid 1920/24 pattern vehicles - it was all about extending the service life and making do.

Western Desert Force: Morris C9 Armoured Car (Part 1)

Envisaged as the replacement or next generation armoured car after the old WWI vintage Lanchester and Rolls-Royce armoured cars was the development by Morris of the C9.

Rolling out in 1939, thirty were issued to the 11th Hussars and served in the first half of the war in the Western Desert. My Crusader Models version is the third vehicle of my three car reconnaissance squadron and will fight alongside my two Rolls-Royce 1920 pattern armoured cars.

Built on a 15 inch commercial vehicle chassis, the new design was topped by a traversing open ring or basket type turret armed with a smoke discharger, Boyes ATG and a Bren gun.

Tempted as I was to make a beach umbrella out of green-stuff and have it stowed across the back I resisted the temptation. I adorned this model with home made campaign equipment - the usual box and tarpaulins. The brackets and planks are poor substitutes for sand bogging recovery. The base texturing is pre-mixed putty with mouse litter and sand pressed into it before setting. I then coated the base with diluted PVA and spry undercoat the entire assembly with matte black.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

DFS230 Gliders: Huma 1/72nd scale

I've had a hold of these models for an awfully long time. I remember being so excited when I saw them and snapped three up straight away. I've long had a fascination for German  Fallshirmjaeger operations since listening to my Grandfather Tom talk of fighting them in Crete 1941. A long intended staging of WWII Crete Rapid Fire games has now gotten a little closer with my construction of these three DFS230 gliders.
Before continuing, I recollect looking at the reconstructed glider inside fort Eben-Emael in 2012 and wondering at the daring of these soldiers. I'm currently reading Anthony Beevor's Arnhem and I have to say that anyone prepared to land in enemy territory under fire in any of these WWII gliders has a degree of fatalism greater than the common soldier. I've done two civilian static-line jumps myself but a glider? These Fallshirmjaeger rode inside straddling a bench-seat grasping each other's waists. I can only imagine how cramped it must have been - bloody agony. Also if the glider got into trouble in the air there were no parachutes ... mental.
Anyway, the Huma model (German company) is quite straight forward - especially when I realised I was to dispense with the undercarriage which was jettisoned after take-off. My models are flying in and will be landed. Having said that, the cock-pit construction was a bit of a mystery and I just left them out. My pilots will be fighting on the table-top mostly.
The other mystery was the decals. I had no idea what they are specifically representing and in spite of hours of trawling the internet I could find little reference to unit organisations. So, I have gone with each of the options provided - in fact there are four in the set. From the photos of DFS230s on Crete some are very plainly marked indeed but I went with unit organisation numbering all the same. What the decal set does not offer (and not for the first time) are tail swastika decals. This is all too typical of western European manufacturers these days and I find it quite irritating. It's an air-brushing of history - the denial of an inconvenient truth and I find it's falsehood disturbing. Airfix seems to do this also nowadays. Am I really supposed to have on hand a sheet of various sized swastika decals to make up the deliberate inaccuracy of an 'historical' model? So, be warned - they lack this option. Having said that, from my observation of on-line photos it seems they were likely as not to have them on the DFS230 tail-plane anyway so happily I feel I can get away with it this time.
The blurring of the upper into the lower pain schemes was achieved with wet and dry-dabbing a tiny sponge. The decals themselves were extremely robust and I could handle them a great deal - even trim them which you will need to do to squeeze them onto the thinning fuselage. You might also need to pull them apart once they are floated off the backing paper as they are imperfectly separated. I set them with Microsol, and matte coated them before pin-washing the panel detail and then dry brushed to catch the highlights. After a final overall matte coat (these will be handled a bit) they were done.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Caesarian Romans: Cohort IV, Scorpio and General Part I

Contrary to even my own expectations I'm back into my Caesarian Romans again a bit earlier than I had thought I would be. My Hail Caesar rule book made it to Tonga along with two scorpio bolt-throwers and I'm straight into them.
As I flagged in my previous posts, my challenge is to make each centurion I have representing the cohort commander different to his peers. This time I remembered to chose a body with the awards on his belt and I believe a different face to his two plastic predecessors.The first shot is the original centurion head with the crest top half carefully removed - doesn't look happy does he?
Above is the new centurion ready for undercoat. It's my intention at this time to paint his crest a natural white horsehair colour. I also have the metal centurion from the Warlord Command set who I was going to have escourt the general and his Vexillarius but I may swap them over ... we'll see. Also, I've filed back and done a little carving of the standard bull signum to represent what I hope is a passable sheep onto which I am green-stuffing horns (oops ... gerand alert).
Here we have the two face plates of my scorpios. I was careful to scrutinize several pictorial and video references to confirm the riveted face is to the front and the torsion ropes detail is to the rear when fixing to the main-frame. Also the domed end of the breach should be to the top just in case anyone needed to be reminded.
I thought I'd play with one a little and set one to 'actioned' ready to shoot. To do so I bent back the torsion arms as far as the casting allows (left) and then carved a niche behind the rear end of the bolt - see below.
These models come with bolts cast onto the table of the scorpio and with the torsion arms set to the unloaded position. I am fixing a thin cotton thread into the niche and then wrapping both ends and fixing them to the tips of the cocked torsion arms. Also, these models come with no winding levers so I have created create a couple of them - depictions vary as to how many leavers are required on the capstans.
As stated, my general will have a Vexillum carried by his Vexillarius and escourted by a centurion. The figure I am using is the Warlord Pompey the Great figure. I will create further general options in the future including Caesar with a couple of lictors when I get them.


Saturday, July 7, 2018


In the interests of record keeping I thought it might be worthwhile listing all of my armies and projects which might be of interests to anyone else who reads this blog - although I can't really imagine why you would be.
I have always approached this blog with a view to discussing things I learn when I paint or build anything (techniques, issues ... that sort of thing). I have never posted any older items on this site - only what I've finished at the time I was working on it. So, there's a heap of stuff which pre-dates the blog's origins. Perhaps I'll move toward electronically cataloguing ... we'll see.
I'll approach this in an historical chronology. I never consider any of my armies truly completed. There is always a unit or sub-unit I think about adding. I tend to like to play with something new when I trot my old soldiers out. Unless stated otherwise, the following list are armies which are capable of being fielded on the table-top.

Persian Wars Spartan army - 28mm
Caesarian Roman army (under development) - 28mm
Early Imperial Roman army - 28mm
Gladiators (under development) - 28mm
Iron Age Celtic army - 28mm
11th Century Norman army - 28mm
Viking army (collection phase) - 28mm
13th Century English Barons Wars Rebel army (under development) - 28mm
Wars of the Roses army - 28mm
English Civil War (collection phase) - 28mm
17th Century Dutch Wars (under development) - 28mm
17th Century Anglo-Dutch Naval - 1/1200
War of the Spanish Succession Dutch (under development) - 28mm
FIW Seven Years War British and French (under development) - 28mm
British Napoleonic Spanish Peninsular army - 28mm
Allied 1815 Napoleonic army (under development) - 28mm
French 1815 Napoleonic army (under development) - 28mm
Crimean War Allied & Russian (under development) - 28mm
Franco Prussian War French (under development) - 15mm
Sudan Colonial British force (under development) - 28mm
Allied WWI Palestine skirmish army - 28mm
WWI allied and axis aviation models - 1/72nd scale
WWII Allied forces (British Western Desert/Canadian Dieppe (under development)/US Italian campaign/British commandos/British Western Europe 1944) - 1/72nd scale (20mm)
WWII Axis forces (Italian Western Desert/early Fallshirmjeager/DAK/1940 Germans - 1/72nd scale (20mm)
1990s British Army battle group - 1/72nd scale (20mm)
Sci-fi Daleks/Ogrons and Unit (under development) - 28mm

The bold/red listings are those armies I've actually played games with. I truly do only get to play wargames about 5% of the time I spend on this hobby. When I return from my current posting (possibly two years away) I'll explore how to change this.

Part of me wishes I could stick to just one period but I can't. Too much fascinates and attracts me. WWII is a period I keep returning to and it's really a hobby in itself - like Napoleonics is for me also. All the above comes with terrain and scenic buildings and fortifications in some cases.

Some of the above armies are major projects in themselves or will be. My Quebec re-fight is shaping up to be more than 1000 figures in total (both sides) and will continue for years to come. My Barons Wars Baronial army for a Lewes 1264 re-fight is near completion and has been stalled repeatedly over several years. It has it's own blog and I also need to build the Royalist army which is even bigger than the Rebels - over 1250 figures. The Dutch Wars will be massive but progress will be rapid once I get serious about committing to it - it also has it's own blog which has been effectively dormant for some time. My Crimean Balaclava project is also considerable and a total labour of love.

The list never rests. I keep returning to a lingering interest I've been slowly cultivating for a bronze age Assyrian army - I'm sure it will happen. Intend developing a Crete 1941 game one day. I've flirted with a mid/late Hundred Years Wars army and a 12th century army - I just love the medieval era.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

De Havilland DH2: Times Two

I can't be certain but I think these two models have been my longest ever builds. I put the models together (the easy bit) in 2014 and just finished them. Prior to that I decided to get into Wings of Glory (what a fabulous and fun game concept) but wanted to play it in 1/72 scale because the models are better.
None of my aeroplanes are after 1916 vintage and these two additions will give my British squadrons half a chance against my two eindeckers. Obviously I like to rig my models to take it a step closer to an authentic look but it's a compromise at this scale - they are not fully rigged - I'm not completely mad.
I just love these pusher types - all very 'stop the pigeon.' Having said that they are a damn sight more fiddly than standard biplanes which I admit to having difficulty with at the best of times.
Weathering is a bugger as I needed to replicate the thin fabric semi-translucent effect with the air-frame ribs showing through. The decals for the tail section are problematic even using Microsol. They come as an entire tail section (tricolour with numbers) and required trimming after application, matte coating and touching up. I think painting the tail and then applying just a numerical decal across the top would be better.
I snapped two struts and lost one (let's put the look down to battle damage) which highlighted how imprecise I was when building the models in the first place. My enthusiasm for these models has come and gone a few times during the process but I chipped away until they were done - a labour of love and hate.
I black washed my prop-wash discs to simulate the blur of rotation. These Revell models represent fighters of the 24th and 29th squadrons - the latter being an earlier colour scheme. Well that's that. Whenever I build another WWI aircraft it will be an early war two-seater German observer I should think. Now I'm moving onto my three 1/72 German DFS230A gliders.