Gorge — tabletop terrain

This is my latest terrain piece for my tabletop games, a small gorge. It's about 300 x 150 mm, and at its deepest the gorge is about 30 mm deep.

It's not wide enough for vehicles in any scale larger than 6mm or 10-12mm. Maybe a jeep in 15mm, certainly nothing larger. There's just enough of a bend in it that you can't see right through from end to end.

I suspect that the rock formations would make geologists clench their fists and grind their teeth, but fortunately, I'm not a geologist.

Figures are 15mm Battlefront WWII Mediterranean British







Paint a Kangaroo on an Italian

I made this picture in response to somebody on the Facebook 6mm wargaming and terrain page who was enquiring about making decals for the kangaroos painted by the Australians on their captured Italian vehicles.

It's really not a difficult thing to paint freehand.

In the picture, I've separated the kangaroo out into its component blobs — start with the big circle for the body, and work outwards from there. Another blob for the chest/neck, another for the head, then join up the muzzle, ears, paws, legs and tail, and bingo, you're done.

Vrock — repaint

This is an old WotC D&D pre-painted figures, a Vrock (or Type I Demon, as they once were known).

I gave it a rough-and-ready repaint, just enough to make it table-worthy, and considering that this pretty shitty paint-job is a considerable improvement on its original, you can just imagine how bad that might have been.

I took these photos mainly to test a camera mount I made for the crappier of my two cameras: a little Nikon CoolPix point-and-shoot. It's not a very capable camera, and I really only keep it so that I have something small enough to slip into a pocket (my phone's camera is really bad, and hardly worth using except in an emergency).

The Dehydrator and MDF Flock

This is the first outing of my new (second-hand) dehydrator, courtesy of Pixi, and it does a sterling job of drying out paint-tinted MDF dust. So I'd call it a success.

It needs a two-step approach: an initial drying to get rid of most of the moisture, then a quick pass through my little electric coffee grinder to break up the clumps and back in the machine to get bone dry. I could use a mortar and pestle I suppose, but why bother having electric gizmos if you're not going to use them?

Altogether, it took about three hours of drying I guess. Or maybe less, but that's what I gave it.

This is generic "dirt" flock, and it's a very fine powder from my belt-sander. The "grass" flocks and the like go over the top.

You may well ask, why not just use dirt then, instead of going to all the trouble of tinting, drying and grinding MDF dust to do the same job? And real dirt can work well, but it needs to be dried and sterilized, and it can react unpredictably with glues and stuff. So, there's not actually much saving of effort in the end.

Cold War Project — Rapier

Heroics & Ros BM30 Rapier
Heroics & Ros BM30 Rapier
I've given my BAOR lads some more potent AA capability with the Rapier missile launcher.

The sprue(s) come with sufficient bits to make three launch teams, of which this is one. There's a bit of assembly involved, and it pays to make sure you know which bits go where before you start gluing things together.

This team is a bit more compact than it would be in real life, because I wanted to keep everything on the one base. The launcher and targeting radar would normally be quite a bit further apart.

There's a tripod arrangement at the front of this base that I think is the aiming and control post, but I'm not completely sure. There's a sort of blobby thing attached to it which, now that I look at it closely, might be meant to be a man hunched over it. If so, he's a lot smaller than any of the other figures. Maybe the BAOR employed 12-year-olds for the job?
Note: I've had it confirmed that the blob is indeed meant to be the operator. So that settles that.

Conqueror

Heroics & Ros 1/300 BM53 Conqueror Heavy Tank
Here's my Heavy Troop, all painted up and ready for the table.

I've painted these guys in their peacetime Deep Bronze Green, because I want to be able to distinguish them from the Centurions and Comets at a glance. If the balloon had gone up while they were in service, and assuming there was time, they'd almost certainly have been repainted in the drab green and black disruptive pattern common to British vehicles of the time.

I've replaced the cast soft metal barrels with steel wire, as I posted here.

H&R Conqueror - rebarreling

Heroics & Ros 1/300 BM53 Conqueror Heavy Tank

When I got my Centurions, I also got a troop of Conquerors to fend off those pesky IS-III from about ten miles away.

The Conqueror has a very long gun barrel, which is very vulnerable to damage from ham-fisted wargamers, as you can see in the top model. So, I'm replacing the soft metal moulded guns with new ones made from 1mm steel rod — I believe it's welding wire. It's very sturdy indeed, and should survive anything that won't completely destroy the whole model.

The diameter of the gun on the original vehicle tapers subtly from the mantlet to the muzzle, but that's not something I feel a burning desire to replicate in this scale. It would be quite difficult, for no real perceptible benefit.

The bore extractor is made from paper, soaked in liquid superglue and wrapped around the wire several times. The superglue penetrates the fibres of the paper, and you end up with a hard, plastic-like mass that can be sanded smooth to remove the seam where the last wrapping is cut off. It would be a lot easier to use a short piece of brass or copper or even plastic tube with a 1mm bore, but I have none.

The Conqueror's gun doesn't have a muzzle brake, which simplifies matters quite considerably.

Next Day


I remembered some useful stuff from my brief essays into stained glass — the bore evacuator on this one is made from some self-adhesive copper foil, cut to width and wrapped several times around the barrel.

The copper foil gives a much cleaner surface than the glue-soaked paper, and it's also much easier to handle. It's very thin, so it needs to be wrapped in more layers to get the required thickness, but you don't have to worry about smoothing off the end-seam as long as it's located on the underside of the barrel where nobody will ever see it.

The copper foil is intended to be wrapped around the edge of pieces of glass, which would then be thickly soldered together to create the complete stained glass object. It's an alternative to the traditional lead channel seen on windows, and is often used for three-dimensional objects like lampshades.

Centurion Mk.1

When I ordered a bunch of the new Centurion sculpts recently from Heroics & Ros, they very kindly included some examples of their new re-sculpt of the Centurion Mk.1 of 1945, soon to be released.

This first Centurion, with the coaxial 20mm Polsten cannon, never saw action, but it might have if WWII had lasted just a few weeks longer. I've painted one troop in the green and black disruptive camouflage used by the British in the ETO, and with the white star of the Allied forces, as it might have appeared in action in Germany in the closing days of the war. Or as it might have appeared if the Western Allies and the Soviets had come to blows, as they very nearly did.

Heroics & Ros B26 Centurion 1
This is a beautiful little model, and a real improvement on the old sculpt of the same vehicle. That one was perfectly adequate as a wargaming model, but the new one is really diorama quality.

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.

The presence of the bore evacuator indicates that this must be a Centurion 5/2 with the 105mm gun. If need be it would be a pretty simple matter to convert it to a 5/1 with the 20 pounder just by filing the bore evacuator off, or probably more easily by replacing the barrel entirely with a bit of wire.




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.




Toldi IIa (15mm)

This is the Hungarian Toldi IIa  of WWII. Unfortunately I don't have any Hungarian infantry figures, so these Germans will have to do....