Friday, August 30, 2019

Marking the Churchills: My Dieppe Part 3

I can now see the light at the end of what's been too long a tunnel. So many distractions have diverted my energies away from these models but I'm pushing on. Thanks to my friends visiting me last month I secured some Windsor & Newton oil paints ready for pin washing but first I had to mark up the MkI and MkII models.

Thanks to my Dieppe Through the Lens reference work (Henry & Pallud) I know the markings for each vehicle including reference shots. BUT, this was to be a hand painted exercise on the most part due to a couple of deficiencies.

The Hasagewa models come with incorrect unit markings which were 175 (in white) on blue over brown and lacked the specific formation sign for Dieppe - gold maple leaf with black ram. Furthermore, the vehicle numbers and names of the tanks were all going to have to be hand painted anyway.

The only things I didn't have to paint (with one exception) was the Canadian national markings (red and white) for which the kits did come supplied.

Perrett, Sarson & Chappell (Osprey New Vanguard 4) reckon on the vehicle numbers being white alpha/numeric over black with grey borders but everywhere else they are depicted light to medium (even loud) blue. I split the difference and went a light grey/blue which is more muted and pleasing to my eyes.

For those of you who might be really up on your Dieppe, you will notice my serial numbers are not accurate. My only concession to the exact vehicle serial numbers was using longer and shorter sequences when called for when referring to my charts. Oh and as you might have guessed, these are also the decals from the kits.

Whilst hand painting vehicle signs and insignia, it's never going to be as well formed as a decal or printing your own. As I keep saying; however, these are 1/72 scale models used for wargaming where we move them about largely at arms length. The hand painting will be just fine. The worst they will ever look is under the macro-lens and on this blog.

Note the curious numbering on 'Bolster' (above) - I love how they painted the F3. As it happens, F3 'Company' didn't have any photos so I'm assuming they painted its F3 in the circle in the same manner. Now it's onto the weathering.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Broadcaster Review: Military Aviation History

I only recently discovered this channel on YouTube and it is superb. Co-created and compered by a German aviation enthusiast, this presenter broadcasts under the name 'Bismark'. He comprises a series of 168 episodes to-date on military aicraft and military aviation history.

Bismark started off six years ago with this channel reviewing and running commentary of air frames within a computer game - so not really my cup of tea. Two years later he took a battlefield tour through Normandy and put together a commentated slide-show on the trip - so he had started to migrate toward documentary making. About two years ago he started making small documentary episodes on aspects of military aviation which have evolved into his current production of very professional YouTube TV broadcasts.

He appears to have just started making his 'In the Cockpit" series of episodes which is very slick and informative walk around and overview of historical air-frames. They are very much in the same style as The Chiiftan's "Inside the Hatch" format. The camera work for this is particularly professional, his presentations are well scripted and edited. Bismark himself is a smart, erudite presenter with good presence.

Interestingly, these historical and technical broadcasters have started joining up for discussion panels at museums and open day forums. They also appear to be borrowing the best presentation techniques off each other, implementing animations and complimentary slide graphics to their work.

Bismark has 151,000+ subscribers and is being funded through Patron. If he continues, Bismark will be building an invaluable audio-visual resource and filling a large gap.

Broadcaster Review: The Tank Museum

The gents from the Tank Museum (Bovington) in the UK produce a series of episodes for their YouTube channel on ... yep, tanks. The key presenters are museum curators David Fletcher and David Willey and they also include guest presenters who can be a mixed bag.

They categorise their episodes as follows: Tank Chats (vehicle overviews), Workshop Diaries and Top 5 Tanks and Bottom 5 Tanks by various presenters and other categories besides. They also run specials and commentaries around their Tankfest open days at the museum. To-date they have 206 episodes in all.

All episodes are professionally produced, scripted and edited and you may presume they really, really know what they are talking about.

I've been fortunate enough to have visited Bovington and it is indeed one of the finest tank museums in the world with a vast and increasing collection and an ever growing number of 'runners'. Whether it's the worlds best I cannot say: I went to Samur for the open day and the French collection is truly a mighty one.

Anyway, if you have an abiding interest in WW2 as I do and are interested in tanks then this really needs to be on your watch list.

Broadcaster Review: In Our Time

This is one of the BBC public broadcasting programmes which is released as a podcast and hosted by one of the premier presenters in the UK - Melvyn Bragg. Perhaps obviously, it is a government/publicly funded programme and a completely professional product.

Melvyn (an historical author himself) holds a tight leash at times to corral his guests (invariably three academic historians) over a 50 minute time frame to discuss the chosen topics.

The subject matter is always historical and can dive deep on literary and philosophical subjects which are not always to my tastes. The great thing about podcast menus is you can pick and choose - unlike radio where you either listen, change channel or switch off.

It's obviously been going for many years (since 1998) delivering 808 episodes to air and continues to deliver highest quality historical discussions with a tendency toward the cerebral.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Broadcaster Review: Epic History TV

Launched in 2015, UK based Toby Groom (MA History and professional documentary maker for the History Channel) has created a fabulously succinct series of historical overviews. I'd suggest no one knows better how to build short documentaries than Toby and true to the title, Epic History TV is what you can reliably expect from this YouTube broadcaster.

This channel currently provides 43 episodes and all of them slick, multimedia products with professionally edited commentary ranging from 5 minutes through to just over an hour. What I particularly like is the use of animated graphics to illustrate unit movement from grand strategic down to tactical levels. Toby states his intention on his accompanying website to produce episodes monthly.

It's remarkable how much impactful content can be crammed into these historical overviews and they are a particularly helpful introduction to some of the wars and campaigns you may not be overly familiar with. Of special note is the growing Napoleonic series but subject matter ranges from the ancient periods to the 20th century.

Currently rating at 420,000+ subscribers this broadcaster fits squarely amongst the professional social broadcasters. He is supported through Patreon like all the full-timers and maintains an e-mail and twitter account for the channel. This is another of my firm favorites and something you can't get anywhere else.

Broadcaster Review: The Chieftan

Nicholas Moran (aka The Chieftain) for me is best described as a talking head. Thankfully, he is easy to listen to and knows what he's talking about - just what you want in a talking head. He is another high profile YouTube broadcaster with 125,000+ subscribers at the time of writing and he very much stays on-topic ... and his topic is tanks.

A tanker himself and more importantly a researcher for the on-line gaming site World of Tanks, Nicholas is an Irish born US national who travels around the world to tank museums and open days, hosts forums and delivers lectures on tanks, the history of tanks and tank warfare.

He does not always work alone and is assisted at times by a camera-man for his Inside the Hatch series of episodes. He has 201 episodes on his channel including museum tours, presentations on tanks doctrines and development of the tank arms for a growing number of countries.

This man is a natural and his product is quite professional. He can only really improve once he buys a teleprompter for some of his studio presentations. I find him engaging, funny when he wants to be, knowledgeable and never dull. I have learnt from this broadcaster and hope to continue that trend.

Broadcaster Review: Napoleonic Wargaming

Another YouTube broadcaster, this represents the least polished product that I follow and a fairly recent entrant into the broadcasting circle. Since 2018, the Napoleonic Wargaming channel has developed 40 videos in 10 months with a good deal of content to support Black Powder wargaming rules for the period. As I play Black Powder this is interesting and even helpful.

With 1,400+ subscribers this UK based creator/presenter has a healthy following and travels the shows to present wargames. He has devoted considerable time and effort to provide detailed explanations of nationalities and unit types as well as game mechanics for wargaming with Napoleonics.

I don't know who the creator of this channel is other than an Englishman and he stays away from the front of the camera which I suspect he operates as he speaks. Perhaps like myself he values anonymity within cyber-space. His scripting is not very disciplined and his product is essentially live recording of video and audio. His camera work leaves room for improvement. His commentary is delivered in a straight, no-nonsense style, he doesn't come across as bombastic or overly opinionated and he doesn't try to be funny so his non-existent jokes can't fall flat. If you can tell anything about a person's voice I'd guess he is an unassuming and reasonable bloke whose subject matter knowledge and love of wargaming far exceeds any ego he may have. I get the impression he'd be a good fellow to wargame with.

For all of this channel's technical flaws, this broadcaster's knowledge of the subject matter and the effort he has gone to to promote and share his understanding of Napoleonic wargaming make this a worthwhile channel for me. His is very much a victory of substance over style.

Broadcaster Review: Dan Snow's HISTORY HIT

For followers in the UK, Dan Snow requires no introduction but for the rest of you, he is an honours graduate of Oxford university and a professional documentary producer and presenter with about two decades of experience - much of it with the BBC. Whilst he has a bent for military history (particularly naval history) his History Hit podcast is broad, wide-ranging and keeps up to date with new book releases, film reviews, promotes documentaries releases and interviews economists, historians and politicians.

The podcast really provides something for everyone and it constantly promotes his new delivery vehicle, History Hit TV - an on-line subscriber documentary channel which delivers significant content and generates its own. The only reason I don't subscribe to this myself is because of the unreliable and irregular internet strength in Tonga.

I listen to History Hit podcast devotedly and it's only due to my visitors that I have not keep up to date - so some catch-up to look forward to. Dan is enthusiastic, he travels extensively and records on-the-go and he is also very entertaining. As an experienced public broadcaster and presenter, his podcasts are well structured and naturally professional. I really recommend his podcast.

Broadcaster Review: Principles of War podcast

I've only recently stumbled across this podcast series and it is simply excellent. Supported by it's own website which supports the series with slides, resources and links to key published works for purchase this group aims to educate junior officers and senior NCOs on military doctrine.

Principles of War is designed to be "the Best Australian Military History Podcast" and focuses on lessons learnt through analysis of leadership, doctrine, terrain and principles of war. It is not a one man show but the presenter is an ex-junior officer in the Australian Army and a very effective presenter and interviewer.

I very much enjoyed their 7-part series on the battle of Long Tan (1966 - Vietnam War) and am enjoying their multi-part treatment of the Malaya Campaign (1942).

This is a highly professional product readily available free of cost (like all of the broadcasters I review) and very Australian. So if you have no interest in 20th century Australian campaigns then this is unlikely to be the channel for you. If you do have an interest, then I think they are safe in achieving their broadcasting goal because it is the best Australian military podcast - not that there's much competition.

Broadcaster Review: Boulder Creek Railroad

Luke Towan's BCR broadcasting channel and his accompanying website is the go-to how-to channel for scenery as far as I am concerned. As most wargamers appreciate, model railroaders have the advantage of applying scenic techniques to static environments but of course many if not most of their skills are readily applicable to modular wargaming needs.

Luke is a fellow Aussie with over 846,000 subscribers on YouTube (yes, he's another YouTube broadcaster) and without bothering to break it down, he simply produces high-end, professionally presented product.

He has produced 80+ episodes over the past five years and the results he achieves are simply beautiful and it's a joy just to watch him design and build his terrain pieces.

From a nationalistic perspective, it's nice to have an Australian presentation because the products he uses are readily available to me. It's funny and unhelpful at times how products are not always internationally distributed or available and are released under alternative labels with divergent names and descriptions. Just try and buy Wilder oil paints outside of the USA for example and what we call MDF is by no means a universal tag.

This is a must use channel if you like to build your own terrain features and whilst it's all HO or 1/72nd scale (20mm) his techniques are all scalable and universally applicable.

Dry Brush Experiment: My Dieppe Part 3

In between guests (peak tourist season) and work I've still been pushing this project forward albeit slowly. I don't have an airbrush in Tonga and I've never really put in the time or effort to master using one anyway. I'm a brush man and this series of tank painting is going to be an attempt to apply higher order model making techniques (layering, weathering, oils etc) within the confines of what I can master with a brush.

I suspect that the end result will be a deep dissatisfaction with all my previous wargaming vehicles and a nagging need to revamp the entire collection over time - I'll cross that bridge when and if I reach it. After all, it has to work first.

I've finished building my first six Churchill tanks (three more OKE flamethrower variants to go) and I'm starting with the first five being the Mk1s and the Mk2 variants in the same colour scheme - Humbrol Khaki Matt 26 enamel.

I spray undercoated the lot in matt black (aerosol) and then started to very lightly dry brush them using a large soft brush. I used a bit of turpentine thinner and was sure to brush off most of the paint onto absorbent paper first. I aimed to keep as much of the recesses untouched as I could and knew that I'd be building up the base colour with two or three layers. The first image in this posting shows the difference between the first and second dry brush coats.
The above shot shows the graduation from the second to the third coat whereupon I decided I was happy with the coverage. I left each coat at least 24 hours between layers. It really has to be bone dry before hitting it again with the brush. It's not too humid here as it's the middle of a Pacific winter - so like a Northern hemisphere summer. I did rest the models next to my de-humidifier over night all the same to really cure each coat.
I then painted the tracks and later the spare link (a cast detail to the side rear) and snorkel exhaust in earth brown as they will have a basic detail of mud and/or rust. In the past I've have been happy enough to proceed with decals and some highlight dry brushing and basic weathering with mud/dirt from this point. This time; however, I will dry brush with clear to protect the base coat and proceed with oil pin washing and shading, apply decals and try my hand at some minimal chipping.
I'll also be experimenting with blending colour variations but I suspect the surfaces are too minimal to notice and am unsure if it would make a difference. As I say, this is experimental for me.  

Broadcaster Review: Night Shift

Another YouTube broadcaster, Martin Kovac's Night Shift is a channel presenting a series of a model making episodes which are very instructive and entertaining.

There are a lot of well-meaning tutorials for model making and painting techniques by all sorts of model makers - most of them amateurs. What makes Martin's tutorials so superior is his editing, scripting, camera work and use of the visual format to actually show you what's happening. He is also (to me) amusing when he wants to be and therefor entertaining also.

He is from Eastern Europe with an interesting and engaging accent whilst also having completely fluent English and with over 30,000 subscribers I'm not his only fan. That's quite the tally given that Night Shift appears to have been releasing episodes for only six months to date. I think Martin is a Slovakian so his mastering of broadcasting in English is a big credit to him I feel.

I'm relying almost exclusively on his examples and techniques for elevating my modelling of my armoured vehicles for 20mm Rapid Fire wargames. This is an experiment for me and may be madness as high-end modelling techniques are time consuming and really designed for a single example for display - not a wargaming troop of nine models for arms-length play.

Again, I rate this broadcaster as the best of the best and recommend you give him a go if modelling tips for tanks in particular is your thing.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Broadcaster Review: Dan Carlin's HARCORE HISTORY

I've been listening to Dan Carlin's Hardcore History for a couple of years now and he is the best of the best. Self described as a part story-teller and part analyst, Dan provides high quality, professional audio podcasts.

If you haven't yet branched into listening to Podcasts, then you are missing out. Living alone most of the time in mission, I spend many peaceful hours painting and building to audio books and podcasts which, unlike video enables me to absorb much entertaining content at the same time as I create without distraction.

Dan is an American with a high degree of humility inasmuch as he has a bachelor's degree but does not label himself an historian. I disagree with this self-assessment but wherever definition you insist on hanging your hat on, Dan is if nothing else a hell of an engaging historical story-teller.

His episodes are often very substantial (over an hour) and often come in several parts. I'd suggest his subject matter serves as a vehicle for discussion and an exploration of ideas. Historical perspective is everything and his curious mind hits his subject matter in similar ways to my own - so I relate to his work.

He is an engaging speaker and I seldom tire or mentally wander off even during his longer deliveries. His product is a professional one with a small team developing the finished product which takes weeks and months to produce.

I used to listen to his podcasts through my iTunes subscription but have recently turned to accessing podcasts through the VLC media player. If you have never done this, there are helpful how-to instructions other thoughtful people on the internet have provided.

Broadcaster Review: Tik History

TiK is another higher profile broadcaster and amateur historian who dives very deeply on operational subjects focussing on WW2.

He's been in the YouTube broadcasting game since 2012 and has to date over 93,000 subscribers and a vast library of episodes. I'm relatively new to YouTube subscriptions and have only scratched the surface of his library. It looks at a glance that TiK has evolved from computer wargaming subject matter into more historical content and his episodes are well referenced and subject matter backed by evidence.

TiK (real name unknown to me) is well read, well informed and demonstrates knowledgeable enthusiasm for his subject matter. He either operates with no scripting or tends to run over his guidelines and can tend to repeat himself when he returns to make a point - sometimes several times over. This lack of discipline doesn't detract greatly from his delivery as far as I receive it - you may differ.

I see from his latest offerings that he has gone full-time broadcasting and like several of these broadcasters he is now reliant on patronage. Whether or not this compromises his status as an amateur historian I cannot say but he is not an academic historian in the orthodox sense - few of these broadcasters are. This does not detract from what they are providing; however, and TiK in particular goes into the sort of depth that you can only generally find in an audiobook.

TiK also likes to get in front of the camera but cuts to slides when needed. I find his visual editing quite good.

As a wargamer and military history aficionado myself, TiK gives me just the sort of product I am after. I can find him a bit directionless at times (back to that delivery discipline) and he can wear me out. Nevertheless, he has one of the best channels going. I also highly recommend TiK.

Broadcaster Review: Military History Visualised

Created and presented by Bernhard Khast, a combined graduate of Salzburg University and long time YouTube broadcaster, Military History Visualized is the best of its class and well worth subscribing to.

If you can handle his Germanic accent (and I really like it) if you haven't listened or watched his presentations you are in for a treat. He applies research and analysis to a depth not seen enough and provided perspectives and context around many of the grand tactical questions people most often ask on WWII in particular.

This channel has data and detail presented via audio commentary and slide show visualizations which include designer graphics. Bernhard does not get in front of the camera.

He has an accompanying support channel Military History Not Visualized which includes museum visits and presentations on specific military equipment and the like where he presents physically. His broadcasting is further supported by a merchandise site and Facebook page.

I find this a marvelous resource to either watch or listen to as I model and paint away. I find him engaging, very well informed and he supports his findings with evidence. His episodes are well scripted, edited professionally and rarely looses focus like others often tend to.

I particularly appreciate his philosophy of presentations adopted from a Churchillean quote: "A good speech should be like a woman's skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest."

Monday, August 19, 2019

Broadcaster Review: Little Wars TV

This is something new for me but I thought I'd share my experiences with my followers concerning the relatively new medium of online broadcasting for wargamers and military historians. I suppose I'm really referring to podcasting and the YouTube platform and fellow enthusiasts who use it.

So far I subscribe to about 50 different broadcasters on subject matter ranging from modelling to wargaming and military history through to how-to presenters on computing ... the list goes on. Of all of them one of the stand out broadcasters are the crew delivering Little Wars TV - now in their second season.

These fellas are a US based historical wargaming group whose club has been running for about 20 years I think I read. They have a corresponding Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts and who knows what else. They are fortunate in having a ready supply of eloquent and personable speakers who take turns in presenting rules reviews, product reviews, historical scenarios, how-to tutorials and step-through accounts of some of their multi-player wargames. They also have a bit of thing over scotch - and I can relate to that also.

I particularly like their rules reviews which have a set formula for scoring. Their broadcasting is professionally edited and in short, this crew is offering the best in show today. I think I've watched most of their episodes and highly recommend them as they really have set the benchmark.