Saturday, 26 November 2016

Finished: 15mm British Bedford QLR Radio Truck + signallers

Hi folks,

The last vehicle/unit for my Miniature Modelling Mayhem Novelty November Challenge is done! Which means I've finished the whole challenge with time to spare. It could be argued that I didn't give myself as difficult a target as for previous MMM challenges, but given the technical side of this one I thought I had better give myself lots of time.

The 15mm Bedford QLR Radio Truck came from QRF, purchased at the same time as my 'Katy' Ambulance. The kit was easy enough to build, although the model isn't fantastic - one issue I have had is the downward slope of the rear section. this may have been due to incorrect assembly on my part, but I could not see any other way that the model would go together. I also needed to use a large amount of green stuff to stop daylight being visible between the rear wheel arches. Holes for the aerials were drilled myself based on guesswork and one image of a restored vehicle.

If I were to do this model again, I would also make an effort to blank out the cab windows, so that they matched most of my other Battlefront model trucks.

Late on in the painting, I received a pack of the Plastic Soldier Company 15mm artillery command team. I picked these up as they were a decent price and would give some options for the future. When I saw them, and realised that the radio truck on it's own would be quite boring, I formulated a plan to use both on one base. This will form a useful unit for games of Battlegroup, but will also form little points of interest in large scale FoW games. The PSC metal models are lovely, although they are a little bigger than Battlefront soldiers so I wouldn't mix them on a base. The level of detail is superb, and they were a joy to paint. These are also the first British infantry figures I have done with an attempt at the HD patch on the arm. I didn't do any shoulder flashes, but I might revisit if I can find out what they should be for a signals unit. The HD infantry regiments didn't have shoulder flashes for the most part, as the highland regiments had a tartan patch for their respective units instead. Painting rank badges is still beyond my skill level!

The truck itself has been decalled up with the markings of the 51st Highland Divisions Signal unit, hence the blue below white AoS marking with the unusual red coloured 40. I had a little bit of trouble identifying the bridging weights - confusion over which was added to thanks to pictures of an incorrectly marked restored vehicle. In the end I settled for '9', as I had no decals showing the truck and trailer weight (11 over 9 I think?).

Anyway, with this unit done, I also got the crew figures for my Churchills done, so it was time for a group shot:

Lee had asked what varnish I use for these models to get such a matt finish on them. I recently had a lot of problems with some Vallejo varnishes - the polyurethane version. Every attempt to apply it resulted in a foamy/bubbly liquid instead of a smooth liquid I'm used to. So following this, one of the chaps on the Paint and Chats mentioned using Galeria Acrylic Mediums 'Matt Varnish'. This was picked up from the art supplies section of a local UK Discount store (B&M I think) for not very much. It's a 75mL bottle and seems to be lasting well. The liquid is cloudy and thick, but goes on ok and dries clear. I had also heard about a product from AK Interactive - their Ultra Matte Varnish.

My usual routine is now: 1) Magic Wash 'quickshade' which includes acrylic floor polish, giving a shiny protective coat over which I highlight. 2) A coat of Vallejo Gloss Acrylic Varnish before Decals. 3) A coat of Galeria Matt Varnish. 4) A coat of AK Interactive Ultra Matte Varnish.

Yes, that is a lot of coats of varnish! While the Galeria matt is quite thick, it doesn't seem to go on to the model too thickly and the Ultra Matte is like milk - same colour and the same type of thickness as milk. You have to be careful with the Ultra Matte as it is so thin it will pool and leave the areas it has pooled in looking white or having bubbles after the varnish has dried. I've had some success painting some gloss over in order to fix this, but it is something you need to be very careful with. Painting the Ultra Matte directly over the gloss resulted in patches which were still shiny, whereas the Galeria on it's own is good but just not matt enough for me.

Sun tan lotion over on the right, from the 3 days this year I needed it... might be a bit optimistic to still have it out in November tho!

So now the challenge is done, my next goal will be to finish the remained of my Polish Sherman V's before the end of the year. Then January brings the Gunuary Challenge, which is a focus on artillery units. I've quite a bit of artillery to do... again. No more 25 pdrs, but I've my 5.5" unit to finish - 4 more guns for which arrived today, so 6 to do in total. Plus some German artillery, sextons, etc. I'll pick what i am going to try and finish and hopefully make some more progress. If you, gentle reader, have any artillery of any period to paint, and would like to join in, let me know!

Monday, 21 November 2016

Finished! Churchill Fascine, Churchill SBG, Austin K2/Y Ambulance

Hi folks,

A tiny little bit still to do on these - mainly crew to add to the tanks and the steel paper to put on the underside of the bases. But other than that, I'm calling these three done!

I've a couple of blog posts to do specifically showing off the parts to each kit, but initially these are all 15mm models:

Churchill conversion kits from S&S Models and Churchill models from PSC
Austin K2/Y Ambulance from QRF

I've used mainly Vallejo paints on these, with a couple of different varnishes and my own 'magic wash'.

SBG Churchill

The SBG Churchill is magnetised in order to make both the bridge and the base removable. This allows the bridge to be deployed and the tank to be moved to a smaller size base.

This tank has been decalled up as a vehicle of 80th Assault Squadron, 5th Assault Regiment,  1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers, 79th Armoured Division.

I also used a new basing technique on these following some feedback via Facebook. I applied two tracks of darker shorter static grass to the base and then applied the usual shade all over as normal. This (hopefully) makes it look like the grass has been crushed by a weight passing over it.

Really nice model and I'm really chuffed with it.

Churchill AVRE

This tank was built with a magnetised Fascine bundle, allowing it to be removed or to be carried on the tank. The front section used to hold the fascine is not removable, so the turret traverse is limited - but I think that this may be historically accurate anyway.

This tank has also been decalled up as a vehicle of 80th Assault Squadron, 5th Assault Regiment,  1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers, 79th Armoured Division. 

Another lovely model - something different, that's for sure!

Austin K2/Y 'Katy' Ambulance

This heavy duty ambulance was used is various theatres but is most commonly known for the role it played in the film 'Ice Cold in Alex'.

My version is painted up for service in NWE. It's decalled up as an ambulance of 176 Field Ambulance, 51st Highland Division (assigned to support 154 Brigade). These are the same markings as my Ambulance Halftrack and Ambulance Jeep. Somewhere down the line is a first aid station...

The weathering powder, on the ambulance especially, looks far brighter than it does on the model. Must be the way it picks up the light, or something my Camera is doing?

So, that is most of my Novelty November Challenge complete, other than my Radio Truck. It is painted, just the basing still to do. I've been held up by a cunning plan to mount some figures on the base with it and make a little diorama. Still in the process of painting the figures, but should have them done in the next day or so.

Thanks for reading - and remember you can get regular updates on what I'm working on via my Facebook page.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

AAR: German Grenadiers vs British Armour

Hi folks,

A couple of weeks ago now I got along to my new regular gaming group 'The old Guard Wargames Club'. We're currently meeting on a regular basis at various venues around Darlington and Catterick, with the last club meet in Scruton (near Darlington).

I had arranged a game of Flames of War with 'Stig' and we both brought along 1500pt forces.

A table was set up, using my current scenery collection (still looking a bit sparse) and we played 'hasty attack' with me as the attacker. Some pics:

Ruined village - most of these buildings need some work... I've been inspired by Lee's attempts recently.

Railway Signals box at the level crossing - the railway track had just arrived.

Full set up with armies deployed.

British infantry and light tanks over on my left - a pinning force and something to make sure I had units on the other side of the board come turn 4 (if I didn't then I lost).

Shermans and infantry ready to advance. The 25 Pounders didn't do much all game, and I totally forgot about the various British special artillery rules.

My right flank advance - soon to be reinforced by tanks from the centre.

Stigs infantry guns holding the centre. These are a real nuisance for the Shermans - perfectly capable of taking them out from the front.

My objective, guarded by a Mortar spotter team and some HMG squads...

Stigs deployment in the town. a Sniper and Mortar OP resided in the large building with no roof. These are cheaper buildings that the others, and have no levels. I'm tempted to make them burnt out/ruined.

The horde advances!

Shermans get to the railway line and go hull down while they fail to shoot up the Infantry guns ahead. Infantry on the left gets pinned by sniper fire.

German Mortars do a number on these infantry, while the Stuarts climb the railway embankment and start shooting up buildings.

Turn 2 for the allies sees more forward movement. The hedges and railway track on the right forming a real impediment.

Infantry whittled down by German mortar fire. They would eventually make it into the town and clear out some OP teams at Bayonet and Grenade point.

British Infantry make it into the town...

Shermans surge forward - sitting back and shooting was doing nothing!

Just before Stigs panzers arrived, you can see how close my tanks are to the objective. I think if we had realised about the 4" of an objective wins rule we would both have played differently. Stig did managed to take out 3 tanks, but spread over 2 troops and with command attachments.

The mission involves the attacker setting two objectives in the defender (Stigs) half of the table. The defender then deploys, the attacker removes one objective and deploys (roughly - the order of the last bit may be wrong. We followed the book on the night). I deployed strongly in the centre and my left, making it look like I was going to push on the objective in the town. However, I removed that objective and double moved most of my central armour out to the right flank.

Stig decided to keep most of his anti-tank assets (Pak40's, Stugs and Panzer IV's) in reserve, and started the game with only his infantry guns on the table. He then failed reserve rolls for 3 turns, meaning there wasn't a whole lot he could do to my tanks. His mortars and snipers kept my infantry pinned down and inflicted a lot of casualties on me, but I kept pushing up the right flank - struggling to get my tanks through 2 hedges and over the railway line. Eventually I got my tanks over, in order to threaten the objective. Stig eventually managed to get his Panzer IV's on and took out a couple of tanks, while moving his infantry into cover of the woods. Neither of us realised that 'control' of an objective was being within 4" of it - and my Shermans were within 4" while his units were further away. Stig tried to stormtrooper his infantry back, but failed the roll. He then tried to stormtrooper his tanks forward, but failed the roll. At the start of my turn, despite my advance looking very tenuous, I had won.

Great game, we both learnt a lot and will keep reading the rules.... nice to see so much allied armour on the table - we had discussed it before hand so Stig knew what I was bringing.

The other table at the club had a game of (I think) 'Too the Strongest' - which looked like a simple and fun game.

Nice looking 28mm figures - my first thought on seeing them was 'wow, those are big 15's...'

Anyway, another games day down and looking forward to the next one. Plus, next weekend is the Stockton show!