Saturday 23 December 2023

Fly My Pretties


To use model aeroplanes in a wargame effectively, you really need some way to indicate that it is a flying machine. I use magnetic flight stands made from 3.2mm acrylic rod.

The magnets (5x3mm neodymium) are glued to the end of the acrylic rod with epoxy. It's important that the rod and magnet are perpendicular, or else the models will be wonky when attached to the magnet.

I achieve this with the jig shown in the photograph: the jig sits flat and square on the workbench, and the acrylic rod is held in a perfectly vertical groove in one edge. The magnet is sitting on some masking tape on a steel rule, which is also lying flat on the benchtop. Then all I have to do is add a blob of epoxy, bring the two components together, and wait for the glue to set.

NOTE: I've found that it's better to put a piece of light card between the acrylic rod and the rubber bands, as the rod then moves more freely in its slot rather than being grabbed by the rubber. It is still held more than firmly enough for the job.

I glue a nail-head into a socket in the belly of my little aeroplane, which will cling to the magnet on the end of the rod.

It looks huge and obvious on this 1:144 scale Fokker Dr1, but when the model is the right way up and in use, it's fairly unobtrusive.

The Fokker is something of a special case: the undercarriage fairing would get in the way of the flight stand, so the nail-head has to stand a lot more proud than on most models. Normally the flat of the head can be right up against the belly of the model.

Until recently I've been using steel washers as the base for my flight stands (see here for that process), but now I've started using 3d-printed bases. The washers have the advantage of providing their own weight, but the 3d-printed bases are socketed so that rods of different lengths can be swapped out to deal with altitude differentials. I've designed the bases so that I can fill them with bits of lead ballast and what-not glued in place, and then cover all that clutter with some sort of terrain effect.

I've put STLs for these hex bases in 25mm, 30mm, 40mm and 50mm on Thingiverse at There's also an STL there for an alignment jig for positioning the acrylic rod and magnets.

A couple of days later...

Here is a set of stands being glued up on my 3d printed jig.

I went for six stands at a go, because that will cater to two 3-plane flights.

At the moment I'm doing stands in 30mm, 60mm, 90mm and 120mm heights. I could go further to 150 and 180, but I fear they'd become a bit unstable, especially with 1:144 scale models mounted.

The photos below show the height range, both naked, and with some 1:300 scale aeroplanes on them.

At present these 1:300 scale models are mounted on dressmakers' pins with 2x2mm magnets glued to them. However, I'll replace those with some steel flat-headed tacks, as the magnet-to-magnet connection runs into issues with polarity.



Next up, a SPAD XIII in 1:144 scale.

In this scale it can probably stand in for a SPAD VII as well, though there are many differences in detail, and doing that would probably make the purists' teeth squeak with rage.

The SPADs are all very ribby.

I've given this model a bit of belly detail that I don't normally bother with. Some of it is a bit more visible on the tabletop than usual.

Wednesday 20 December 2023

SE5a Re-Scale


A couple of years ago I designed a 1:200 SE5a model, and printed it in resin on my Mars Pro. 

I thought I might re-scale it to 1:144 and print it in FDM on my Ender3, to keep my new Fokker D-VII company.

The result is adequate for a gaming piece, but I'm far from fully satisfied with it. My Ender is getting pretty long in the tooth now, and it's starting to show. Perhaps it's time to start saving up for a little Bambu Labs A1 Mini.

Wednesday 13 December 2023

Little Fokkers


I got distracted from what I was supposed to be doing, and instead of doing that, I built this little Fokker D-VII in Blender at 1:144 scale.

The struts and things are far too thick for scale, but that's because it's a model intended for tabletop wargaming, and the thick struts will make it much sturdier, as well as being easier to print.

I've given it a 3mm socket underneath for mounting on a flight stand.

It's available for sale now at

Next Day...

Printed nose-up on Ender 3

Vital supports added in Blender

Test prints begin.

I've tried the print in two orientations: nose-up and nose-down, with vital supports added in Blender before creating the STL. Each has it pros and cons.

The nose-up model printed well, but the scalloped trailing edges of the wings could be better.

Printed nose-down
Blender export

The nose-down orientation printed the wing edges better, and the front edges are much easier to clean up.

However, I had some failures with the undercarriage and some of the centre struts. I'm not sure exactly why, but I'll try changing its Z-axis orientation on the printer platen, that sometimes helps. Who knows why.

Later... several days later

This Fokker Dr1 triplane isn't all my own work. I took one of Captain Ahab's models, intended for 1/300 - 1/200, and jazzed it up.

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Baking Soda Air-Dry Clay Recipe


For later reference:

Baking Soda Air-Drying Modeling Clay

  1. Pour 2 cups Baking Soda and 1 cup of Cornstarch into a saucepan.
  2. Add 1¼ cups cold water and keep mixing.
  3. Add food coloring if desired.
  4. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture is the consistency of mashed potatoes (about 10-15 mins).

Also called "cold porcelain". Makes a soft white modeling clay that takes impressed detail well, very suitable for terrain rollers. The clay can be coloured when made, and takes acrylic paint well. It will take a day or two to harden.

Monday 4 December 2023

OSRIC Player's Guide(s)


Back in 2017, my friend Steve gave me a copy of the OSRIC Player's Guide, which extracted and republished the bits of the OSRIC rules that a player needed to have access to. Character generation, equipment, spell lists and so forth. It was excellent, and a bit less cumbrous than using the Big Book at the table.

For some reason, and I don't know what that reason was, it was withdrawn from publication and was no longer available.

Just this year, a new version of the Player's Guide has been published, with new art and layout, though I think the content is essentially the same. It looks okay, and the text is presented in a large enough font that if one wanted to make an A5 copy from the PDF, (and I might), it would probably be quite legible. Some of the table text might get a bit small though.

The spell descriptions in the first were presented alphabetically, but all lumped in together regardless of class, whereas in the new version they are arranged alphabetically but by class. I don't mind either method really — I just hate having to know what level a spell is before I can find it in the book. I haven't looked at the rest of the content in any detail.

The old Player's Guide was a hardback; the new one I just got is a softcover, and I got it via Amazon. It may well end up being available from other retailers such as DriveThru RPG, but I don't know what the timeline for that is. I don't object to buying via Amazon except that they don't accept PayPal, which I prefer to use for buying toys and tools and stuff from foreign parts.

Saturday 25 November 2023

Napoleon (meh)


Well, Napoleon was not great. Joachim Phoenix was great, as was Vanessa Kirby playing Josephine, but Napoleon as a whole was not.

The timeline was scattered, to say the least, and the pacing overall was pretty poor. It seems that Bonaparte just sort of kind of accidentally became emperor, and entirely without any agency of his own.

The war in the Peninsula was not mentioned at all. Not once. In spite of five French marshals — or was it six? — being defeated there by Wellesley.

Apparently Napoleonic battlefield tactics consisted mostly of disordered mobs of men running at each other.

No French attack columns at all, and not until near the very end of the film did we see some British troops forming square and then dropping back into line. Though to be fair, the aerial shots of those manoeuvres did look pretty good.

And although never even hinted at in any history I've ever read, it seems that Boney charged with the cavalry at Waterloo just before the Prussians arrived.

Also, the riflemen at Waterloo with telescopic sights on their Baker rifles made me snort air through my nose. Let us also not forget the complete misinterpretation of the nature of Napoleonic mortars.

I'm aware of the need for the massaging of events for dramatic effect in cinema, but this was a lot less massage and a lot more kitten-in-a-blender.

Ridley Scott may or may not have had the services of a military historian when blocking out his battle scenes, but if he did, it was not somebody who knew anything much about Napoleonic warfare. Or if they did, he ignored them.

Come to think of it, didn't he also give us D-Day landing craft in Robin Hood?

Friday 17 November 2023

Space Opera Revisited

Some years ago — quite a few years, now — I ran a space opera campaign using the Hero System Star Hero rules.

I put my house rules and some other campaign information, including some session journals, on my website at (There was another that I'd done previously, also using the Hero System, set in a slightly modified version of Jack Vance's Gaean Reach.)

Terran Empire cover

It was nominally run in the Terran Empire milieu, though in fact not a lot of that background ever made it into the foreground of the game. I think there were some hints of covert Vorgon interference in Terran space, and the party did a salvage job on a drifting Hzeel freighter, but that was bout it.

Anyway, I quite enjoyed that campaign, and the main reason it folded (apart from my usual mayfly attention span) was because I was getting pretty sick of the Hero System's constant pernickety accounting. I had a character generation app that helped a lot, but even so...

It occurs to me now that the generic nature of the Chaosium Basic Roleplaying System, along with the simplicity of its basic mechanisms, might suit me a bit better. I don't know the system very thoroughly, but one way to amend that might be to build a whole heap of stuff in it, and one way to do that might be to convert my old campaign to it.

So I thought I'd give it a go. Why not?

There is a pretty comprehensive BRP sci-fi horror game already in existence, New Horizon, but it is pretty massive, about a thousand pages just in the two volumes of its core rules, and I don't know that I have the endurance required to absorb that much milieu information when I already have a milieu that I'm somewhat familiar with.

Friday 3 November 2023


 I’m away from home at the moment, and will be for an indeterminate length of time. It’s family stuff.

That means, of course, that I don’t have access to my workroom for any of the things I normally do to engage my interest and fill my time. I’m very, very bored.

Monday 30 October 2023



Next 1:144 scale tiny-aeroplane project is a Soviet Ilyushin IL-2 "Sturmovik" ground attack aircraft. That's the grey one in the foreground.

This is yet another of Roman Troyan's 1:200 models up-scaled to 1:144. I've printed it on my Mars Pro, using the new spirit-based resin, which seems to be behaving much, much better than the water-washable stuff.

Regrettably, I've got it printed just in time for me to have to leave home for an indeterminate length of time — probably about a month, though that's entirely dependent on circumstance. So it will be a while before I'll be able to finish it.

A Bit Later On...

Well, by neglecting other tasks, I got the Sturmovik painted. Those other tasks were probably unimportant anyway.

Maybe later I'll revisit it and paint some numbers on it.

Thursday 26 October 2023

Polikarpov I-153 (1:144)


This is a model I've been working on in Blender, the Soviet Polikarpov I-153 fighter, in 1:144 scale.

It has no detail at all on the under-surfaces; the way I use aircraft models on the tabletop, they're never seen from underneath, so it would be wasted effort.

I thought I might be able to reuse some of the geometry to make an I-16 monoplane, but having looked at some drawings of that plane it looks like the differences are too great for that to work out. I'd have to do so much work modifying the current fuselage that I'd be better off just starting again from scratch.

To tell the truth, I'm not quite sure how or why I ended up making this, since I have no immediate need for it in my own gaming. However, I do have a bit of a yen to do something with the Soviet-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40, and it would be appropriate for that conflict on both sides.

And here we have the printed model.

I've changed the resin I'm using from water-washable stuff, which has been enormously troublesome, to some spirit-based resin from the same manufacturer, which seems to be much better in spite of the added hassle in cleanup.

Esun Water-Washable Resin


A while ago I bought a bottle of white Esun water-washable 3d printing resin. It isn't the most expensive resin available by any means, but it's not cheap. And it's absolutely terrible.

This 1:144 model, in the process of being painted (I don't know yet if I'll bother finishing it) is pretty typical of the results I get from this particular resin. Delamination cracks appear at regular intervals. Deformations abound, and the fit of separate components cannot be guaranteed — in fact, they can almost be guaranteed not to fit. And once cured, it is pathetically brittle and fragile.

I don't know enough about 3d printing resins to be able to usefully diagnose the likely problem(s), but I have had much better results in the past with other of Esun's water-washable stuff, especially the translucent resins, so I suspect it may be an issue with overloading of the opaque pigment used to colour it.

I am so mean that I've persisted with it so far instead of dumping it, but today frustration has finally outweighed my stinginess, and out it goes to cure in the sun and be discarded.

Saturday 21 October 2023

Gloster Gladiator (1:144)


I've painted this Gladiator in the Dark Earth/Dark Green livery it would have borne for home service at the beginning of World War II. I don't know if Gladiators were painted the half-and-half black and white on their undersides* that other fighters wore; but since, as a tabletop gaming model, it will almost never be seen from underneath I haven't worried about it at all.

[ * They were, apparently ]

It's been printed in FDM on my Ender 3, and the surface detail on the fuselage ribbing is pretty rugged. I think I could probably get better results by rearranging its orientation on the print bed and printing it in a single piece, though that would mean a bit of pre-supporting of the STL in Blender for the sake of reliability. I may or may not ever get around to doing that. That should also help with the crappy printing of the undercarriage.


I learned that the Gladiator followed the standard Fighter Command practice for their lower planes, which was to have the port wing painted white and the starboard black. So I went ahead and painted it as such.

I believe it was supposed to facilitate IFF from the ground, which it doubtless did, but it also made the aircraft stand out like sore thumbs to opposing fighters and enemy AA gunners, and the practice did not last for very long once combat began in earnest.

The model is hanging off one of my magnetic perspex flight stands.

Later still (several days later)

Another Gladiator, this time painted up for use in the desert or Mediterranean.

This was printed as a kit, and it printed absolutely terribly, mainly due (I think) to the resin I was using. It developed a multitude of cracks, and the dimensional instability of the resin means that none of the components fitted well together. Add to that its brittle fragility, and you don't end up with a good model in any way.

I was in two minds about whether or not to even bother finishing its paint job, but I have. It will do as a gaming marker, but that's about it. I did another much better one-piece FDM print that will most likely end up replacing this one.

I've been playing around with Photoshop's Generative Fill tool, which makes getting rid of things like flight stands an absolute breeze. And just to keep him company, I've added a happy little Falco to the picture. The backdrop is an aerial desert scene I found somewhere on the internet and printed on my fairly crappy inkjet.

Tuesday 17 October 2023

Another Chess Set


I made another chess set.

This one is super-simplified and geometric; it would be an easy thing to make in wood, and I might do that one of these days.

This is a test print, and you may notice that the pieces have a black band around their bases — that's because I ran out of black filament, and had to change over to my last remaining roll which is grey.

Thursday 12 October 2023

Bristol Bulldog


Yet another of Roman Troyan's aircraft models up-scaled to 1/144, this time an interwar Bristol Bulldog, the standard fighter of the RAF in the early 1930s, alongside the Hawker Fury. It was replaced (briefly) by the Gloster Gauntlet in 1937, before the monoplane fighters (the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire) came along in numbers.

I printed it in two halves on my Ender 3, and the surface finish on the fuselage isn't very good; I think if I changed the print orientation and did it in a single piece I could get better results.

The model doesn't have a pilot figure, and I think it really does need one. I shall have to do something about that.

Monday 4 September 2023

Martel Tankette


This is a niche product if ever there was one — the 1925 wooden prototype of the tiny one-man British Martel tankette.

The model is designed at 1:100 scale (15mm).

The STL is available at

Sunday 3 September 2023

P-47d Thunderbolt


Another of Roman Troyan's 1/200 aeroplanes, up-scaled to 1/144.

I did not especially enjoy painting this one, mainly because of the metallic paint. The surface of the FDM print isn't smooth enough to get the best out of it, and once cured, the surface of the paint is quite slick, causing adhesion issues with overlying layers.

However, it's finished now.

Thursday 31 August 2023

Bristol Blenheim in the Desert


This is yet another of Roman Troyan's 1/200 scale models, up-scaled to 1/144. 

It's the Bristol Blenheim Mk.I, and I've painted it in a colour scheme suitable for North Africa and the Mediterranean.

It was very fast for its day, but alas for the crews, its day passed before WWII kicked off, and with its rather pathetic defensive armament and against much faster enemy fighters, losses of Blenheims were very heavy.

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Typhoon, also with paint on


I've finished off my 3d printed 1:144 scale Hawker Typhoon, complete with rockets, ready to kick the crap out of anything it can spot in the Falaise Pocket.

It's a bit cleaner than the Tempest... I'll see how I feel about that later on.

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Tempest, Now With Added Paint


I've painted up my 1:144 Tempest model.

These are the markings, I believe, of the Tempest of Pierre Clostermann, a very famous exponent of the type.

Monday 28 August 2023

And now, Typhoon

Now I've made another little aeroplane, this time the Hawker Typhoon.

This one is probably more useful as a wargaming model than my earlier Tempest, since it was used much more in a ground-attack role.

I've created the rockets as a separate STL so they can be added or left off at the whim of the user.

The STLS are available at