Wednesday 28 September 2022

Ostwind 37mm Flakpanzer

This is a 1:100 scale (15mm) German WWII  Ostwind 37mm Flakpanzer, printed on my Mars Pro from a model by M. Bergman (I think).

I'd normally add some crewmen in an open-topped vehicle, but the fighting compartment of this one is too tight to get any in there. I think I would have to add them digitally and print them in place.

Sherman bits

 Zac Kavulich (TigerAce1945) released some time ago a pack of various marks of Shermans for WWII 15mm printing. Unlike Bergman's models, Zac's models were presented with separate running gear and hulls.

I took one of his track modules and decided to up-detail it a bit — not a lot, just enough to satisfy my 1:100 scale wargaming model sensibilities.

I got this far along when I realized that

  1. it would have been easier, and I would have been better off starting modeling from scratch, and
  2. I'd come far enough that stopping now and starting again would feel like a huge waste of effort.

So I kept going.

This is the end result. There's absolutely no detail on the far side, as my aim is largely ease of printing, and I thought a completely flat rear face would also make it easier and stronger to glue to the hull.

There's more that I could have done, but this seemed to me to be sufficient detailing for my purposes. Fortunately, an STL can just be mirrored in the slicer, so there's no real need to make separate models for something like a port and starboard track run.

The test prints worked out okay, but this is why I don't much like printing components separately in resin. It's just not very dimensionally stable, and I always get warping of pieces like this, to one extent or another.

Fortunately the warping here isn't so extreme that I won't (probably) be able to keep them flat against the hull with glue. Fingers crossed. They were certainly easier to print than they would have been had I done them as a single piece with the hull.

Sunday 11 September 2022

Modeling U.S. Olive Drab — harder than I expected


WWII U.S. Olive Drab should be simple, but it's really not.

It was composed of just two pigments: ochre and black. However, the word "ochre" is not a precise one at all.

In his Military Modelling magazine article back in 2002, Steve Zaloga went into the subject in reasonable depth, and the pre-mixed colour he recommended above all others back then was Tamiya XF-62, with no others even coming close to the WWII-era paint chips he was comparing against.

I figured that mixing it from VMC acrylics would just be a matter of getting the right proportions of yellow ochre and black, but all of those mixes ended up much more grey than the sample swatch of XF-62 I sprayed, which has a perceptibly warm brown cast. Of them all, the 3:2 yellow ochre : black mix seems to be closest in tone, but as I said, it's too grey.

The Vallejo surface primer described as "US Olive Drab" is actually much closer to the 5:1 mix, which is a long way from XF-62, and a long way from WWII colour photographs I've seen.

The search continues.

A bit later...

I found a bottle of VMC 889 USA Olive Drab, which is much browner than the Tamiya, more like a burnt umber. However, it might do okay as a base coat, with panel shading airbrushed over the top in 887 Brown Violet, which was recommended to me. The 887 is pretty good in hue, though it's considerably lighter in tone, which is probably a good thing when it comes to scale effects and the general effect of dust and sun on the paint.

Even later...

I tried a base coat of 889 Olive Drab, highlighted with the airbrush with 887 Brown Violet, and it gave me a result I quite like. So I think this will be my process for US equipment, which might come in handy for  Battlegroup:Westwall when it finally appears.

I did the stars with Tamiya masking tape, laboriously cut out with a scalpel, and if somebody was to provide sheets of die-cut masking tape stars and roundels, that person would get my money. Oh yes they would.

The model is actually a British Mk.I with sand shields and turret bustle, so not 100% right, but it'll do me for testing purposes. When I need them, I'll print some proper Yank tanks.

Much later....

It's probably a bit pointless, since I've found some pre-mixed paints that work for me, but I thought I'd try a mix with a different ochre and see how that turned out.

In this case, I used Maimeri Polycolor (gouache acrylic) Raw Sienna and Black, and got tones that seem a lot less grey than those I got with yellow ochre. The proportions are quite tricky to manage with tube acrylics though, especially with small quantities of paint.

The left-hand swatch is roughly 1:1, but the others are all rather indeterminate. I think the right-hand one is around 4:1, but I'm really just guessing.

And even later...

I've discovered that Vallejo already do a pre-mixed US Olive Drab in their ModelAir range (#71043 Olive Drab) which is just about perfect.

And not only that, but I already had a bottle of it in my Big Pile O' Paints.

So, that was a whole lot of wasted effort.

Saturday 10 September 2022

Marmon-Herrington MTLS 1GI4 (15mm)

 Here's a fairly obscure little WWII tank — the Marmon-Herrington MTLS 1GI4 in 1:100 (15mm) scale.

This is one of those projects I started and then forgot about, so it's taken a very long time to finish.

I've put the STLs up at

Thursday 1 September 2022

Secondary Skills in AD&D(1e)

 I've spoken before about the two-edged sword that is a formalised skills system in any TTRPG.

The mere existence of a list of available skills tends to guide both players and game masters towards the attitude that if a character doesn't have a specific skill written down on their character sheet, then they just can't do that thing.

Also, a formalised skill resolution system has a tendency to replace imagination and roleplaying with a simple mechanical die roll — boring!

Nevertheless, people persist in desiring lists of skills, worked out in excruciating detail, for their characters to pick and choose from. I suppose it makes them feel safer or something.

AD&D (1e) has no formal skill lists or skill resolution system. The nearest it comes to it is the presence in the DMG, on page 12, is a list of "Non-Professional Skills", or Secondary skills.

They're not detailed in any way except for being named, and in theory at least, they're assigned randomly at character creation.

In terms of function, they're intended to act much more like the character backgrounds used in D&D (5e) than as a definitive list of skills, and when used that way, as a flavourful adjunct to the character rather than as a mechanically defining feature, they work well enough. The key is to use them properly.

Let's take, as an example, the entry for d% 55-57 — Teamster/freighter. Boo! Boring!

A character with this background would have a working knowledge of a wide range of skills. They would need to know how to manage and care for draught animals like oxen or horses for a start. They would need to know how to maintain and drive wagons and maybe barges. They'd have needed sufficient leather and wood working skills to keep their transportation working. They would need to know how to balance and secure their loads, so they'd be familiar with knots and nets and the like. They'd have had to move heavy objects about, so they may well be familiar with the construction and use of impromptu gantries, and they'd be aware of the benefits of pulley systems for mechanical advantage. They'd have to have been adept at judging the lie of the land ahead, to avoid (if possible) steep slopes or deep rivers or other obstacles, and if unavoidable, how to get their wagons over them. And once they'd got their load to its destination, they may well have needed a familiarity with licences, docking fees, bureaucracy and bribes to get it into a town or city to be offloaded.

I have undoubtedly missed or forgotten much that would be relevant, but you can easily see how this simple one-line entry can really flesh out the assumed knowledge of the character, knowledge that could be applied in all sorts of situations.

When it comes to applying this knowledge in the game, the onus is on both the GM and the player to bring it to the fore — the player will doubtless want to stretch definitions to breaking point when it comes to taking advantage of it, and the GM's job there is, for the most part, to say "Yes, okay" unless the justification is patently ridiculous, in which case a simple "What? Are you serious? Come on, get real and pull your head in" will suffice.

Most of the time, a die roll for success or failure will be unnecessary; the character is supposed to know this stuff. At most, you might want (for dramatic purposes) to determine how long something takes, or how well (or badly) it was done, and that sort of determination is easily made on the fly. A formal resolution system is almost never necessary.

If a die roll is deemed useful, I would suggest that 3d6 is the best option as it gives a decent bell curve with a minimum of fuss. If it's being used to determine the quality of a result, then a result of 9-12 would be dead average: the higher the number above that range, the better the employment of the character's knowledge and skill, and vice-versa for a result below 9. If it's used to determine time taken, then the GM must first imagine what would be a normal average time to do the task, and then use the position on the bell curve to determine whether the performance is faster or slower than usual, and by how much. I would read the result from left to right, with a 3 being grindingly slow and an 18 blisteringly fast, but that, as always, is really up to the individual GM.