Friday, October 12, 2018

Western Desert Force: 2 Pounder ATG Portees

Well I believe that's all for the ground forces of my Western Desert Force 'Jock Column' at long last. I have finished of assembling and painting two resin and white metal 2 pounder Portee anti-tank guns in 20mm - naturally.
These models are Britannia models (product code RVM106) which is now distributed through Grubby I see. They are great models which come with all the campaign detritus you could want as part of the casting. Only the wheels, the gun and the gun shield come separate and require fixing (I used Selleys two-part epoxy Araldite).
It occured to me during painting that the tarpaulin underneath the collapsed windshield needed to be visible as if through glass. I finished it off with some gloss varnish.
The crew are Raventhorpe Miniatures (pretty sure) though I'm not sure about my crewmen in the helmets. I'v got such a mixed bag of stuff over the years and it's been so long in the creation that I've lost track.
I don't know why but I've been putting these two models off for years. Now all I need is some air cover - for gaming in Rapid Fire.
So my Desert Force now has two ATG portees, three armoured cars, three tanks, a battery of two towed 25pdr howitzers with accompanying observation team and a fully motorised infantry battalion. I think they have all been documented through this blog under at least the 'Commonwealth' label. Next will be their Gloster Gladiator. Now I will get back to those Abenakis.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Western Desert Force: Morris C9 Armoured Car (Part 2)

Morris C9 armoured car ... check. Tricked up just a little with some green-stuff canvas rolls and a balsa and plastic card crate on the back. The two figures are AB Figures I believe with their legs ignominiously snipped off.
I love armoured cars probably more than tanks but I'm sure I don't know how to use them properly on the table-top. They always get nailed as there's always something bigger and nastier about the place.
Like it's running mates (the Rolls Royce A/Cs) I didn't mark it up. There appears very little unit identification evident on any of the photos I referenced so I opted out. In all likelihood this is the only C9 I'll ever have. A simple and enjoyable build with a rapid result in terms of actual construction time. It's 20mm or 1/72 scale I believe as is everything I do in WWII.
Now it's time I got back to and finished my woodland Indian skirmishers for the Plains of Abraham.

Western Desert Force: Rolls Royce Armoured Cars (Part 2)

Well that took a while. A trip to Auckland and a rolling series of most welcome visits to Tonga has seen me turn from miniature army builder to tourist, host and travel guide. Well it's back to the workbench and my 'Jock Column' now has it's armoured car company at long last. They are 20mm models or perhaps 1/72nd scale?
I'll add the aerials after they ship home but for the time being they are finished. I opted to have very faded dazzle camouflage although the darker grey does still look rather dark.
I've made one a potential leader car or command vehicle if they operate as a two-some which I always depict with a commander in the open-top state. One of the front vent doors broke off when painting and I still can't find it - so I'm putting it down to battle damage or campaign wear and tear.

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.