Centurion Mk.V

 This is one of the Heroics & Ros 1/300 scale Centurion Mk.V models I just got. For size reference, the hull of this model is about an inch long.

I've painted this one in an overall green scheme, without any disruptive camo pattern, because I wanted to bring out as much detail as I could. Camouflage patterns, surprise surprise, tend to obscure detail a bit.

One detail that the paintwork has brought out is the moulding seam along the barrel, which I clearly missed. Bugger.




Heroics & Ros Centurions (and Conqueror)

I ordered some of Heroics & Ros' new sculpts of the Centurion MBT, not because I have any immediate wargaming use for them, but simply because I have a fondness for the Centurion.

I got a few Conquerors too, just in case. You never know.

They very kindly included some of their very latest, the Centurion Mk.I, not yet released. I've shown it here next to one of the old sculpts of that model, and the improvement is clear. The old model was perfectly serviceable as a wargaming model, but the new one is just exquisite, well up to the standard required for diorama building. As are the other two models already available, the Mk.V and Mk.XIII.

I haven't done anything with these models except photograph them. They appear here as they arrived straight from their bags. As with most models, there is a little cleanup of mould seams needed, but it is minimal.

The Conqueror is one model that I'd probably replace the gun on. It's very long, and would be very likely to get bent out of shape under the ministrations of normal wargamer sausage-fingers It would be safer in steel I think, or even brass. Fortunately it doesn't have a muzzle-brake, which simplifies matters, and the fume extractor is easily added with a sleeve of lead foil.

Cold War Project — Blowpipe

Heroics & Ros 1/300 1980s British infantry — Blowpipe teams
These guys are equipped with the Blowpipe, a semi-disposable man-portable anti-aircraft rocket system. The reusable aiming system clips on to a disposable launch tube.

Reports from the Falklands did not cast the Blowpipe in a good light. At the time they were only reporting a 10% hit rate, even against slow-moving aeroplanes and helicopters, and later analysis indicated that the hit rate might have been as low as 2%. One senior British officer described using Blowpipe as "shooting grouse with a drain pipe".

Hopefully my guys will do a little bit better than that on the wargaming table.

The H&R Blowpipe infantry sprue just comes with five launcher figures. The loader/observer has been added from the general infantry pack.
Painting note: this time I tried building up the DPM camouflage from a brown base, splotching the green and sand over the top. It seems to have worked well enough, though the overall effect is slightly darker than going from a green base. I thought the brown would make a better base colour, as it's a more useful shadow colour than bright grass green.

Cold War Project — 81mm Mortar

Heroics & Ros 1/300 1980s British infantry — dismounted 81mm mortar
Here's another addition to my BAOR force, some dismounted 81mm mortar teams. They'd normally be dashing about the place in a FV432, and the mortar can be fired from the vehicle, but it could also be dismounted and emplaced in a sneaky hidden position and be a bit less obvious than a honking great tracked vehicle.

Cold War Project — BAOR Infantry

Here's a selection of Heroics & Ros' new 1980s British infantry, three rifle sections of them. I have enough squaddies painted now for a full-strength company, but there's still plenty of command and support weapons to paint and base.

The large bases are the rifle groups, and have five figures on them The smaller ones are the gun groups, and have three figures — they have a small red bead glued at the rear of the base to let me know at a glance what they are, since my eyes aren't up to distinguishing a 6mm figure's weapon load at tabletop distances any more.

The little 5mm d6 on the middle rifle group base is used to count casualties. My friend Steve got a bunch of them from China for next to nothing. He likes to have the die showing the number of casualties taken, while I prefer to have it showing the base's remaining strength — I don't suppose it matters all that much, but it would probably be a good idea to both be using the same system to avoid confusion.

I like the new H&R infantry sculpts a lot, but alas, my painting doesn't show the detail to best advantage, and it's not helped by my representation of DPM camouflage cloth which tends to befuddle the eye further — surprise, surprise.

Home-Made Clump Foliage

I had a go at making some clump foliage flock out of some budget kitchen sponges from the supermarket. Generally, I'd call the experiment a success, but there are improvements that could be made.

I have a cheap little blender that I bought specifically for model-making and the like, so that I don't have to be spending hours getting tiny fragments of unmentionable stuffs out of our kitchen blender. It's not large, nor is it powerful, but it's sufficient for my purposes so far.

I tore the sponge into strips and then soaked them in water to give them a bit of inertial resistance to the blender blades. If they're dry, they just bounce around inside the blender, and bounce right off the blades without taking much useful damage — the added water gives them more mass, and the blades can tear through them.

It takes a little while to get everything rendered down into sponge fluff, but after about five or ten minutes of shaking the blender and pulsing it and so forth, the resulting slurry is decanted into a fine-meshed sieve and as much water as possible squeezed out.

Then acrylic paint — I just used a house-paint test pot — is squeezed and kneaded through.  I found I didn't need a huge amount of paint.

Then the excess paint is again squeezed out, and here I may have gone too far — the final colour is a bit lighter than the paint I chose, and maybe if I'd left a bit more paint in there it would have stayed darker. Also, the dried, finished mass is more friable than I expected; though that's not necessarily a bad thing, more paint left in it would probably have helped it to clump more and perhaps shed fewer little bits.

I spread out the wet mass to dry on a sheet of baking paper in the hot-water cupboard overnight, and it was bone dry when I got it out the next day.

I'm not unhappy with the results at all. I already have some commercial clump foliage in dark shades that I've been working my way through for ages, so having a much lighter lot is advantageous at the moment. However, I do want to try another batch and see if I can make the end colour a bit more predictable.

Is it worth the trouble? Maybe. A commercial bag of clump foliage isn't all that expensive, but it does only come in a fairly limited range of tones. If I make my own, I can make it pretty much any colour I want — if I can just come to grips with staining it predictably.

Cold War Project — CVR(T)

FV107 Scimitar (30mm RARDEN autocannon)

CVR(T) stands for Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked). It's one of the multi-role, multi-function chassis series so beloved by modern militaries because of the way they streamline the logistics train.

FV101 Scorpion (76mm gun)
Scorpions in NZ service got quite a colourful camo scheme


The Scorpion was bought by the New Zealand army (in pretty small numbers — just a couple of dozen) in 1982.

They replaced our M41 Walker Bulldogs, and have since themselves been replaced by wheeled LAVs.
FV103 Spartan APC
These are the last of the vehicles I have so far for my 1980s BAOR force, so now it's on to the infantry en masse. They're a lot fiddlier to paint and base than the vehicles.

Cold War Project — Spartan w. Milan

FV120 Spartan MCT — Heroics & Ros, 1/300 scale
From Wikipedia:
"FV103 Spartan is a tracked armoured personnel carrier of the British Army. It was developed as the APC variant of the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) family. The vehicle can carry up to seven personnel, including three crew members. Armed with a single machine gun, it is almost indistinguishable from the FV102 Striker in external appearance. Rather than a general personnel carrier for infantry, the Spartan has been used for moving specialist teams, such as anti-aircraft missile teams. An anti-tank variant of the Spartan has been produced, named FV120 Spartan MCT; this is armed with MILAN anti-tank missiles."
These will also be standing in for FV432 Milan carriers, which I don't have any of (as yet).

Infant Centurions

Centurion Mk.1 — Heroics & Ros, 1/300
I bought these some while ago, for no particular reason except that I like the Centurion.

This is the first production version of the tank, which appeared at the very end of WWII, though it never saw action, and I'm not sure that any even made it over to Germany before the surrender. The Centurion Mark 1 mounted the 17 pounder and a coaxial 20mm Polsten autocannon. It was soon upgraded to the new 20 pounder main gun, and the Polsten replaced with a BESA machine-gun, as the 20mm turned out to be largely pointless.

I'm not sure how old this sculpt from Heroics & Ros is, but they've recently released two new ones of the Centurions Mark V and XIII which, from the photographs I've seen, look as good as models from any manufacturer. I've ordered some, though like these Mark 1s, I have no immediate use for them on the wargames table. I just like Centurions.

Cold War Project — Land Rovers


Here are some light transports for my BAOR force — a bunch of Land Rovers. ½-tonne on the left, ¾-tonne on the right. How much I'll actually use them on the battlefield I don't know, but I guess they'll come in handy for whizzing observer teams and the like about. I'd think Land Rovers might be a bit vulnerable to be operating up the sharp end, but then my teensy-tiny lead men are VERY VERY BRAVE.

As ever, the models are all 1/300 scale, from Heroics & Ros.

Cold War Project — Air Power

Jaguar
These two aircraft complete my air support assets.

Both are 1/300 models from Heroics & Ros. On the left, the Jaguar, and on the right the Tornado.

Regrettably, the Tornado has its wings swept back as it would be in its interceptor role, rather than forward as they would be for ground attack, but never mind.
Note: I'm told by somebody who has actually seen them that Tornados did operate with wings swept back in ground attack. So, that's all right then.



Tornado

Cold War Project — Lynx

Heroics & Ros 1/300 Lynx helicopter
The Gazelle gives me an air recon asset, while this helicopter, the Lynx, provides some ground attack capability in addition.

This model was more involved than the Gazelle, as I had to carve off the moulded-on tail rotor blades so that I could replace them with a clear plastic disc, and I had to tear off the rocket pods and remount them on brass pins because I got them the wrong way around the first time.




Cold War Project — Gazelle

Heroics & Ros 1/300 Gazelle helicopter
This little helicopter is going to give me some air recon capability.

The rotor disc is cut from a piece of blister-pack plastic and fixed in place with a pin stub.

Construction was a bit fiddly, but not too bad. Nowhere near as nightmarish as their WW1 biplanes.


Jigsaw Paint Shaker

 I've been using a cheap $20 jigsaw to shake the bejeezus out of my paints for a while, and it works very well.

Up until now, I've just been clamping the paint bottle to the masking-tape wrapped blade of the jigsaw with a bulldog clip, and that has worked OK, but from time to time I do get a flying paint bottle. Also, it's a bit of a faff getting everything mounted properly.

So, I've made this modification.

The main body of the frame is just a bit of plywood that I've cut out, drilled, and epoxied to the jigsaw blade. I filed down the teeth of the blade for safety's sake. The bottles are held in place by some bits of velcro I had left over from some household job or other; they're just stapled to the plywood frame.

Frame close-up

End view
I can shake two bottles at  a time with this setup, though how the jigsaw will cope with all the extra weight and vibration in the long term I don't know. It cost very little though, so I'm not risking much.

I cut a notch in the cap end of the frame to give the bottle some lateral stability. I don't know how necessary that is, but it can't do any harm.

Cold War Project — FV432

This is the bulk of my APCs finished, though I still have a few Spartans to do.

These are the British FV432, from Heroics & Ros. The two at the very back mount the Swingfire missile system, while all the others are pure APCs.

I accidentally ordered these twice, so I have twice as many as I actually need for the size of force I was intending. Oh, woe is me, to have too many toys.

I just realised that I forgot to paint the exhaust pipes running down the port side. I'll have to get on to that.

Cold War Project — GPMG teams

These are the new Heroics & Ros sculpts of the 1980s British GPMG teams, with the guns on tripods in their sustained-fire mode.

The red beads are a visual aid for my own reference, since my eyesight is no longer what it once was: red means a machine-gun of some kind. I use other colours to indicate other weapon loads. It also gives me the team's facing, since the bead is always at the rear of the base.

Cold War Project — Striker

Here's one of the ATGM configurations of the CVRT, the Striker. They mount five Swingfire missiles in the launcher at the back of the hull top; these are moulded in their firing configuration, which is good, since with the launchers lowered it's a bit difficult to distinguish the Striker from the Spartan APC, especially with eyesight as crappy as mine.

The models are Heroics & Ros 1/300 scale, and they're pretty good. The only real issue I have with them is that there's a fairly large casting channel entering the body of the model right over the rear access door, which is a pity. It would be quite difficult to clean it off properly while keeping the access hatch, and I haven't really bothered; I just cut off the excess as close as I could manage it and left it at that.

Cold War Project — APCs on the way

Here we go on the troop transports. They're FV432 APCs by Heroics & Ros.

There are a couple of Swingfire turrets in amongst them too; I debated leaving those in overall green without any disruptive camo, to differentiate them visually from the APCs, but in the end I gave them their stripes too.

I'm about half-way through painting this lot, and at the moment they're looking to me like a lot of licorice allsorts. Next step is dry-brushing to bring out the highlights, then painting the tracks, and finally a wash to define the shadows.

Cold War Project — Hawker Harrier

If the Chieftain was the archetypal British tank when I was growing up, the Hawker Harrier jump-jet was the archetypal British aeroplane. With its VTOL capability and futuristic lines, it evoked all kinds of "Captain Scarlet" associations in my juvenile mind.

Apparently it was not without its shortcomings, but I knew nothing of them and just thought it was indescribably cool.

This 1/300 model is from Heroics & Ros (as usual), and will hopefully serve to give my ground troops a bit of air support.

To tell the truth, I haven't really examined the air support rules in any detail, so I probably should do that.

Flight Stands for Gaming or Display

Occasionally — not often, but from time to time — my tabletop wargaming involves aircraft. It might be a specifically aerial dogfighting game, or it might be the aerial component of an all-arms game.

The thing about aircraft is that they need to be up in the air, or they just look stupid. So, here's how I make the flight stands for my planes. This specific one is a metal Hawker Harrier jet from Heroics & Ros, but I've used the same system to make stands for 1/144 plastic kits as well.

 The first thing to address is that a model on the end of a stick needs a bit of weight at the base to make it stable, or else it will just keep falling over and probably damaging the model.

The size of the base and the amount of weight required will depend on how long a stand you want, and the size and weight of the model to be perched on top of it. In this case I'm using quite a short stand, but the metal model is fairly heavy.

I create the base by supergluing together a stack of fender washers of decreasing size. In this case, the largest one is 32mm in diameter. You don't need to use much glue at all at this stage, just enough to tack them together: there will be a lot more glue going on later.

The stand is a length of 3mm clear acrylic rod. I prefer this because it's see-through, but a sturdy length of steel wire will also do the job. I've drilled a matching 3mm cavity in the belly of the aeroplane model; this one is a tight enough fit that it can just be pushed on and it will stay, but another option is to use a pair of magnets, one glued to the tip of the stand, and the other to the belly of the plane.

 Once I have my base stack, I flood the levels with liquid superglue and then cover it with baking soda.

The baking soda combines with the superglue and cures it pretty much instantaneously, and leaves a rough plastic-like mass. The excess is just brushed away — if you're cheap, and it's not going to be used for cooking, it can go back into the box for re-use.

 You will probably have to repeat the superglue + baking soda once or twice to get a more or less even covering over the stack of washers and to disguise their edges.

The next step is to get the acrylic stand attached to the base.

You can see here that I've taped the acrylic rod to a piece of folded card. This is to keep it square and vertical in the base while the glue is setting. It's best to make sure that the end of the rod is a few millimetres above the surface of the table; if it protrudes even a fraction of a millimetre below the edge of the support card, it will throw everything out of whack and your stand won't be perfectly vertical.

You need to make sure that the card's base is perfectly straight, and that it's folded with that bottom edge matching exactly — that will ensure that the folded crease is perfectly square to the bottom edge, and it will also be perfectly vertical to the tabletop when the card is stood like this.

I've cut a notch out of the bottom of the card stand — this is to accommodate the base for the next step.

The cavity in the stack of washers is filled with epoxy, and the acrylic rod, taped to its support card, is lowered down into it.

Leave it to set.

The epoxy in this image is coloured that diarrhea brown because there was a little bit of paint left in the silicon cupcake baking thing I use as mixing palettes. It's not necessary to colour it at all.
I had a lot more epoxy mixed up than I really needed, and spread some out over the base.

I poured some basing sand over it while it was setting to provide a bit of texture.
Once the epoxy has set, the stand is basically done.

Now all that remains is to paint and flock the base as you normally would, to match your battle mat or whatever.

Centurion Mk.V

 This is one of the Heroics & Ros 1/300 scale Centurion Mk.V models I just got. For size reference, the hull of this model is about an...