Sunday, June 11, 2017

New balloon section joins the action at the front for...

...1/144 Great War aerial gaming

I've completed a project that has languished on the modelling table all spring - a 1/144 model of the Avorio-Prassone kite balloon produced by Daryl at the Reduced Aircraft Factory shop within the Shapeways 3D printer

It's a nice three piece model consisting of the two halves of the envelope and a one piece assembly of the basket and harness. There's a hole for mounted. I inserted a steel screw and glued a magnet to the a base post so the model can be placed on a stand. 

As always, when it comes to the models, I believe a picture is worth several paragraphs, so without delay - enjoys these pictures! 

The front end of the balloon with the basket and harness attached

Nice side view. The base is from Litko Aerosystems. 

The left side. The balloon was printed using Black Strong and Flexible. 

Here's a shot of the balloon under attack by a Albatros D.III. Albratros from Ares Games Wings of Glory line.

Good shot showing off both the texture of the envelope and the detailed section lines on the model. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Manassas prepares to sail...

Earlier in the year I had acquired a 1/600 scale model of the Confederate ironclad ram Manassas from Bay Area Yard. You can read about the assembly of the model here.

View down the bow showing off the covered 32 pounder and the twin funnels. 

For painting, I went with something with a little more interest than the basic black scheme that I've used for years. This time, I'm allowing the sun and salt to do their worst and let the initial coat of black paint fade to a sun-bleached gray. Only the funnels and some of the deck fittings would retain their blacker appearance.

Manassas in profile. The gray hull contrasts with the muddy brown Mississippi and the burnt black of the funnels. 

An overhead view. Debating if the hatch covers should be painted or reflect a more subdued appearance. 

Once the gloss coat dries, I'll hit it with a Matt coat and then brush on some gloss coat to return the water to a wetter finish. Then it will be time to get this model on the table and let the Yankee's feel the wrath of this fully operational ironclad! 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spring in to painting II...

okay got most of the models assembled and broke out the airbrush today. Got a good base of colors on many of the models.

Now for the detail work!

A mixed bag of Battlefront and Plastic Soldier Company models (and a few Zvezda trucks!) went under the brush today.  I was attempting to model the 'ambush' style camo. Some of it worked, some of it, well, lets just say the crew understood the idea, but not the execution...

By 1944, application of camouflage varied with availability of paint paste and the appropriate gas to mix with the pigment. Results varied from one tank to the next. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Terrain for my 15mm inner brown coat.

While at the Game Haven (just one of my FLGS) for a Wings of Glory event, I spied a copy of Yahtzee on the shelves.  While I am a fan of most dice games (I'm a gamer for Pete's sake) I'm not normally a fan of Yahtzee. But this one was different....

That's right...Firefly Yahtzee. Now I couldn't care less about the dice in the game. What I wanted was the cool 'collectible' dice holder and rolling cup that just so happened to be a nice plastic version of the freighter Serenity from the old Joss Whedon series "Firefly".  My first thought was, meh, nice, but too expensive. Then I noticed it was 'on sale' for 40% off.


went home, took it out of the box and dragged out some of the 15mm stuff to see how well it scales with the model.  I think it'll work fine.

Here we are parked next to a Matchbox 'Russian' interceptor that is intended to be rebranded as an aerospace defense fighter.

Same as above, but with the Ground Zero Games high tech grav tank added to the mix.

A Vargr (right) argues with two civilians while a port security officer tries to sort things out without resorting to violence.  Air car is from the Laserburn range offered by Alternative Armies

Traffic at the local startport changes a lot. Here's a "Doe" gunship from Khurusan Miniatures. It's just had a base coat of desert tan applied. 

And with a 15mm Battlefront Jagdpanther, again for scale.

Assorted ground vehicles including a 'not-air raft' from Laserbun and a light recon grav AFV from Ground Zero Games. 

More activity at the downport. Another small freighter arrives - bigger than the Firefly class, but with a similar configuration.  (This is a kit-bashed Hunter-Killer toy from the Terminator:Salvation movie. It usually serves as a drop boat for the Mobile Infantry in my Starship Troopers games, but can pull double duty as a ship for 15mm games).

So the Firefly model should work well as a gaming piece. It's clearly on the 'terrain' end of the scale, so if it's a little small that's okay. It'll serve as a nice objective or spice up the downport setting for the table top game.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spring into model building!

Well it's spring 2017. And that means break out the airbrush and start painting models. And then...


Okay, so let's start with BUILDING all the models acquired over the winter and THEN get to the painting. Yeah. that's the ticket! So what's up first. Halftracks and Panthers? And oh, the Panthers have the options to build JagdPanthers? Well...that's different.

So off we go.

First up are these two Battlefront JgdPzer V models. Nice details and an easy build. Should look good on the table.

The same two models from the front end. The big ol' 88 is nicely modeled. 

I got cheap. I had a spare Plastic Soldier Company Sdkfz 251D and spare parts from Battlefront's Puma box set, so I thought - time to scratch build another Stummel. 

An Old Glory dedicated 251/10 in front with the Battlefront model behind. Both are nominally 15mm, but the Old Glory model is showing the effects of about 20 years of scale creep - the Battlefront model is clearly larger. 

While I mounted the 75L24 and the side armor skirting, there's a bit of work left for filling and sanding to get a better look. Still though - good enough for the tabletop!

In the next installment, the models get painted! 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Type VIIB U-Boat

From the archives of the patrol logs of U-72

May ‘40

Dear Willy,
You’ll be happy to know that I’ve returned from the sea once again. Unlike the events in my last letter, I’ve much happier news to report this time. BdU again assigned us a patrol mission around the British home isles. While the army’s panzers were rolling across France, we were busy carrying the war right to the beaches of the British.

After safely crossing the North Sea we encountered a small freighter the SS Sagadahoc (6300 tonnes). Given our limited supply of torpedo, I ordered the firing of two of the old steam torpedoes from a close range surface attack at night. While one torpedo did hit, the other either missed or was a dud. This left the damaged freighter still afloat. I elected to continue the attack, but first a British patrol plane flew overhead. Fortunately, our small size allowed us to hide in the water and avoid the plane. We turned back to the freighter and finished her off with our deck gun. Success in our first engagement!

Our luck would hold – a few days later we caught sight of a convoy of merchant ships with escort. Through careful maneuvering, we were able to trail the convoy until nightfall, then move in to attack. I took a big risk in pressing to close range before attacking. We successfully avoided the escorts and launched a full salvo at all four ships in range. One ship – the tanker SS Duffield (8500 tonnes) – was hit and broke in half, sinking below the waves. The largest freighter SS Brazza (10,500 tonnes) suffered two torpedo hits and rolled over and sank.  The smaller ships survived this salvo either being missed or the torpedo failing to detonate (Editors Note: SS Treverbyn was hit by a G7e that failed to explode.)

Avoiding the escort, we continued the attack and successfully pursued the convoy. Poseidon was with us that night as we finished off another freighter though it too four torpedoes to do so. Either the torpedoes are defective or we need to sharpen our attack drills over the current refit.
Things quieted down for us, as they were heating up back on land. We’d almost made it back to Wilhelmshaven before another British patrol plane dove in at us. I tell you – getting back to base was the most dangerous part of this trip! Fortunately, our lookouts spied the Jabo in time and we were able to crash dive the boat beneath the waves to safety.

- X


I've been playing the old Con Sim Press board game "The Hunters", which is now available from GMT Games. The game emulates the experience of a German U-boat crew from the start of the WWII through mid- '43. These were the "Happy Times" when escorts were weak and convoy not rigously enforced. While the game may start off happy, it becomes progressively more difficult as the Royal Navy and it's many allied naval elements gain proficiency in anti-submarine warfare. 

This is a solitaire game that really is best played solitaire. It's you and your boat against the enemy and the sea. A series of tables and die rolls simulate your mission and the success or failure of various actions. I've been playing in small sessions focused around a single patrol. It's a great way to get in some gaming when you don't have a lot of time or even an opponent to face.  The game was succesful enough to warrant a sequel ("The Hunted") and a variant for the Pacific War titled "Silent Victory". Good games if you are looking for a suitable solitaire title!

The patrol log - in the form of letters home to a younger brother have been consolidated into a separate page. This was done to preserve a cohesive narrative and allow images to be incorporated into the story. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Assembling the Manassas, part 2

Completing the assembly of the Manassas. Cutting the stacks off the sprue and filing the ends flat was straightforward.

The mount for the stacks was a little more complex. The mount has a hole for each stack to sit in. It's a good design and it's spoiled by one thing. Either each hole contains a mounting post for the stack, or there was a bit of flash in each hole. Either way, the metal had to go. A Goldilocks trial and error process of sorting through the drill bits found one that fit without being too big or too small (a #44 for those wanting to know). Slowly and carefully I used the drill to bore out the offending metal.

With that resolved, a good thick, heavy duty CA adhesive was applied to the end of the stack and inserted into each hole. It was a little tricky as the hole was not a tight fit, but the stacks did stand up.

With that - assembly is completed.*

And here's the assembled model.

With the stacks installed! 

View from the forward port quarter.

Port broadside view.

Hmmm...what's the tiny guide hole? Uh oh - I've misaligned the stacks! 

Here the BAY model (on the right) next two the Thoroughbred Figures model on the left.  Two interpretations of the same model. 

From the images you should be able to see that the Thoroughbred model sits higher above the water than the BAY model. Both show many of the same types of details, though they vary slightly in terms of position. 

* I may come back and add the jackstaff for the flag later.

See how the painting went in part three! 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Assembling the CSS Manassas - 1/600 model from Bay Area Yards

In February of 2017 I acquired a model of the Confederate ironclad CSS Manassas. Oft remembered as the Confederacy's first ironclad, she was slow and poorly armed. If it was not for the fact her opposition was entirely wooden ships, Manassas would have been found seriously wanting as a warship.

Manassas had a short, but busy career engaging Union ships at the Head of Passes, making the journey north to briefly join the River Defense Fleet near Memphis before returning to New Orleans and participating in her final battle against the Union navy at Fort Jackson as Farragut ran the guns.

This project is a 1/600 scale model of Manassas from Bay Area Yards. (Kit # HCS-024). As 1/600 models go, this one is straightforward with a minimal number of of parts. One (1) hull casting and one (1) sprue of stacks and fittings.

Manassas straight out of the bag. 

The historical record concerning Mansassas is conflicted with some sources indicating that the ship had one or two smokestacks. Some theories hold it was two stacks, then one following a refit after the engagement at the Head of Passes. The model offers the option to build either of the stack variants. As I already have a Manassas with one stack, I elected to model this kit as the early two-stack version suitable for the Head of Passes battle.

The hull casting needed a little clean up around the edges. Most of the work is for the sprue casting at the aft end of the model with required a bit of cutting. After that it was very minor filing to smooth the edges and make the bottom of the casting flush.

A little scraping along the starboard waterline is causing the hull to look odd. 

Sprue with flash.

Sprue with flash removed from the short midships steam pipe. 

Basic assembly is easy. I based the hull of the model on a thin piece of styrene. As usual, I used Woodland Scenics Flexpaste as the adhesive to attach the model.

The hull with the base for the two smokestacks installed.

And an overhead view.

With the hull attached to the base with the Flexpaste. The midships steam pipe is installed. 
Starboard quarter view of the model.

Next steps are to install the stacks and get a coat of primer on the model!

Assembly continues on part 2.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Ram Fever!

I'm telling you, I got the ram fever!

I pulled out an Ellet ram from a box and thought, hmmm...glad I picked this up. Can't ever have enough Ellet rams. For example...

A pair of Ellet Ram models from Thoroughbred Models that were acquired at Fall In 2016.

So I started rounding up the various models from various boxes and quickly found this.

Ummm...yeah. That might be enough.  From left - FOUR Thoroughbred Ellet Rams, USS Switzerland (Peter Pig), Lioness and Queen of the West (Bay Area Yards).

I've got a sneaky feeling that there is at least one more sitting in a box awaiting assembly.  

Back to Civil War Naval...

...but did I ever really leave?

Even more 1/600 models added to the backlog of ship models to be assembled, painted and brought to the gaming table.  This time, it's a batch of models from Bay Area Yards with a smattering of Thoroughbred tossed in.

First up, I've had a recurring itch to game the naval action(s) of the 1867 Haitian Civil War. It's an easy stretch goal for the ACW naval gamer as many of the ships models are all surplus US Navy vessels. The most impressive ship in the war would have been the ironclad ex-CSS Atlanta, which was purchased and on the way to intervene in the civil war when the vessel sank off the East Coast of the United States.

A challenge though is modeling two stalwart ships of the former US Navy - the Mount Vernon and the Quaker City. These side wheel steam ships were former blockaders in the American Civil War. In Salnave's War, these ships were practically battleships and key vessels in the handful of naval actions waged in the war. Unfortunately, neither ship is currently modeled in 1/600 scale. I'm hopeful that I can use these Bay Area Yards models as the basis for creating conversion that will capture the look and feel of the actual ships.

Hull of the Confederate gunboat Varuna. No upper works or fittings. But a great hull! 
Model of the French Gassendi class sloop. Another conversion candidate.

Fore and aft of the Gassendi models

Hull of  the Star of the West. Another prime conversion candidate.

The Star of the West will assorted parts mocked up for sizing.

Add caption

Hull of USS Mississippi

USS Powhatan model. On the large end of a a conversion candidate. 

Second item - a model of the USS Harvest Moon. A nice little sidewheeler that I've never added to the fleet. Helps to round out the collection.

The model is in roughly three parts. I'll need to model the stack. 

The parts stacked together.

and lastly - two nice additions: Forts Jackson and St. Phillip from the New Orleans campaign.

St. Phillip

Fort Jackson. That's a LOT of fort!