All (not so) Quiet

February 17, 2017

I have not been posting but have been a little busy over the past week.  The little General wanted me to build a Tiger Tank.  I rescaled Rawan’s Tiger I from 1:100 scale.  I think it came out well.  The other thing I’ve been doing is working on a sdkfz.10 artillery tractor.  Pictured on the right, it is the white template.  No tracks or wheels yet.  But those are pretty easy to do anyway.  I do need to adjust the front fenders, widening them and fixing the length.

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Side by side.  The half track is tiny!

Tiger Gun barrel is the length of a toothpick minus the tapered ends. 7/8″ of paper was wrapped twice followed by 7/16″ width of paper wrapped 3 times to get the tapered look of the gun. The muzzle break is 1/8″ of a medium kabob skewer.  The half track took me about 3 days to get to this point. I suspect I will have a detailed version this weekend.

The total build time of the Tiger was about 3 hours.  I think it took me about 1 hour to get the half track built to that point.  Maybe another half hour for tracks and wheels.

EDIT Here is the half track with wheels and tracks.  When I printed it out, I realized I forgot to duplicate the wheel.  Fortunately, there was a spare from my sdkfz.231 sitting on the table.

Wheels and tracks.

Wheels and tracks.


A Horch by Any Other Name…

February 6, 2017

One of those models that is most useful for any WW2 German Army is the Horch 108 as either the Type 1A or the Type 40.  The models used to be produced by Dragon and two in 1/72 scale could be had for about $20.  While not great, it was affordable.   Those, however, don’t seem to be in production anymore.  There is a MAC model (I think) but the price is at least $20 for just 1.  So, this weekend, I took it upon myself to make my own card model. Completely original work.  The following picks show only the template.  The details still need to be added to the model but the general shape is there.  The only thing missing really is the front bumper. I am thinking I need to widen the front fenders a little too.

 

An early prototype from Saturday. It was an exercise in understanding how the hood was supposed to angle and fold. Mostly pretty easy.

An early prototype from Saturday. It was an exercise in understanding how the hood was supposed to angle and fold. Mostly pretty easy.

A final build with all adjusted parts. The front fenders look a bit thin. I will either thin the wheels in the front or widen the fenders slightly. Front bumper still needs to be added.

A final build with all adjusted parts. The front fenders look a bit thin. I will either thin the wheels in the front or widen the fenders slightly. Front bumper still needs to be added.

My son said I needed to add the roof.  I was originally going to leave the roof off and add the folded ridge in the back.  He said he wanted it to look more like a truck.  Who is to argue with the little General, right?  Total build time of the final model was about 2 hours.  That could go more quickly with an assembly line.


Sdkfz 222 start

January 20, 2017

Here’s a quick update with a couple of pictures of the Sdkfz 222 model from Paper Tiger Armaments.

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The front fenders were a bit tricky if only because there were no guide marks on the model. You have to eyeball the placement. The reference picture that comes with the model was a big help.

The chassis and body were easy enough to assemble. It was only 2 pieces.


The Secret to Getting Stuff Done

January 20, 2017

Part of my “block” clearly was my feeling of being overwhelmed by the two main projects I have going right now.  Rapid Fire demands some moderate forces.  If you want to game the Siege of Tobruk, you needs a fair few figures.  I don’t know that I will ever get to that level but even the more moderate sized forces seem a bit daunting, especially since I am using card models for my vehicles.

I’ve broken my build process down by unit and am currently trying to stay focused on the early part of the Desert War.  To that end, I am starting with the 5th Light Division and it’s recon battalion.  It does require about 13 figures, 3 armored cards, a pair of combo motorcycles 2 kubelwagons, a half track, 2 heavy cars, an infantry gun and a PAK 36 AT gun.  I’ve already  built 3 kubelwagons.  The third can either be used in the motorcycle infantry battalion or as part of the later era recon battalion.  I have all the infantry though I need a 5cm mortar and one anti-tank rifle.  Both, I believe I can scratch built out of plastruct and card.  Junior General has an ATR.  I can try cutting one out just the stock and replace the barrel with a thin piece of plastruct.  The 5cm Mortar is really a tube, a base plate and a very small kick stand.  It is not very different from the British 2″ mortar.  Probably only the stand.  I’ve already posted a picture of the kubelwagen.  I am currently working on an sdkfz 222. The OB also calls for a 221 which only has an MG and has a smaller turret.  I may just make them both 222s and not worry about the small turret.  I can even make an alternate turret in case I want two 222s.

The final bit is the Horch 108 type 40 heavy car.  I cannot find a card model for it.  I believe Best Paper Models had one in 1/48 scale but it has not been posted to their new site yet.  In fact, they only have posted about 20 of their more than 500 or so models so far.  They are moving slowly.  So, I will probably be venturing into the world of card model design.  The Horch is relatively square.  The hood should have rounded edges to make it look somewhat authentic.  That will probably be the hardest part of this effort.  I think I can do it though.

I started working on a Valentine tank, another not represented by a card model.  That is a later era desert tank though.  It shall sit on the back burner for a while, along with my M-3 Grants.

 

 


A long layoff

December 29, 2016

It’s been a while since my  last post.  It’s been a strange and disappointing year to say the least.  To top it off, the holiday blues really hit me this year.  There is no underlying reason other than the usual stress that occurs to most of us this time of the year.   Anyway, I hope to be back  in full swing come the new year.  I am be hind a post or  three.

One post was the conclusion of the siege game that my son and I played out.  Well, my son got bored (he is 9 you know!) and cleaned it up before I could fully play out the rest solo.  What I can tell you is that the Orcs managed to clear  the lower areas save 1 hero.  The tower was fully held by  Gandalf and his  hobbit protege.  The reinforcements arrived at the earliest moment as I rolled a  ‘6’  for the check on the first possible turn.  On that very same  turn, the  surviving orc warbands both took a hit and both failed morale checks.  I  allowed one last warband to come on the field which is where I left it right before cleanup.  Even with them coming in on the opposite side of the fort from where the Elves were entering the field, I don’t think they could have  accomplished their mission.

I  also prmised  some picture of my Cracker Line,  Langton and Old North  State cavalry.  Nice figures all of them!  I still need to attach flags and then photograph them.  In the previous article I  moaned  about how I  miscounted my purchase and would have to buy still  a bag or two more.  Well, as it  turns out, I didn’t  miscount at all.  One bag of 6 troopers had dropped  from the shelf they were on into a box  of books below.  I only found them on accident while  looking  for something else.  They all have been reprimanded for going AWOL like that but only a reprimand as I need them on the line to fight their Yankee foes.

Finally, I have a post   in the works about Twilight of the  Sun King, Father Aelred Glidden’s Horse and Musket rules both of which are  based on rules by Stephen Simpson appearing in Wargames Illustrated.  I’ve constructed my own version which most closely resembles the good Father’s set and includes modifications for most of the black powder periods.

 


Southern Front 2016

October 9, 2016

Some of my friends and I headed to Southern Front 2016 this past weekend.  It is a small convention held annually in Raleigh, NC.  Originally, it was billed as a historical miniatures convention.  Currently, the participants number only about 100.  Several folks stayed home as they lived in states that were severely affected by Hurricane  Matthew.   The games were fun and, as usual, were presented with wonderfully painted miniatures and attractive terrain.  Matthew decided to change course and affected more of NC than anticipated.  The Raleigh area lost power at about 2:30 on Saturday but power to the Hotel was restored around 8:00pm that night.  Several games were canceled as it was tough to see in the hall.  Others persevered and continued to play by flashlights, provided by the hotel staff.  Despite the unfortunate complications it was a fun, relaxed even and I believe everyone had a great time.  I hope to see participation increase in the coming years.  Here are some highlights of games at the con including a few I participated in.

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This table was scheduled to be used for about 5 games. I participated in Jimmy’s GASLIGHT game on Venus.

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Squad Leader as a miniatures game. We managed to take the field against the Germans! A Stug III burns in the background as a German Platoon withdraws.

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Yep! Won it out right! But at a pretty hefty cost. A German minefield claims two of my Shermans. My friend Andrew’s M-10 burns in the background, a casualty from being hit by a Jagpanther.

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A battle on Venus! The Bogart Shamen summon their dinosaur minions to defeat the Sino European forces before they can get the diplomats off this crazy planet. Bloody battle but a fun scenario. In the end we did the save modifiers for shooting completely backwards. When the GASLIGHT rules say -10, that means you reduce the die roll by 10, thus making it much easier to save against missile attack! We were modifying the target number!

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And then the power went out. Hurricane Matthew was supposed to hug the Carolina coats and head out to sea. Shockingly, the weather folks got this one wrong. Power went out around 2:30pm on Saturday and did not return until about 8:00pm that evening. This is a shot of a Stalingrad game using Chain of Command.

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The hardcore gamers continue to the end. A shot of Ed Mohrman’s ACW game using “Before I was a Marshal” rules by the late Larry Brom. Adapted for ACW of course.

 


Sahara 1943/1995

October 4, 2016

Recently, I watched the 1943 movie Sahara staring Humphrey Bogart.  It is a remarkable movie for a number of reasons.  As the movie was made in 1943, the equipment used was all state of the art.  The Allied vehicles were all authentic.  At various times in the movie, there was a M-3 Stuart/Honey, several M-3 Lee tanks, one of which was Lulu-Belle and a M-2 White Scout Car.  As the war was at its height, there was no German equipment to be had.  The White was presumably supposed to be an SDKFZ-250 half-track.

The movies that came about after the war in the early 60s had a curious negative tone toward our Allies, especially the British.  Thankfully, the tone of this movie is more of a cooperative one.  There are a managerie of characters from all arms, mostly explained away because they were at an aid station for various reasons.  They were fighting in the battle of Gazala and a general retreat had been ordered.  So why an American?  Well, the Allies were planning on invading Morocco and the Americans needed some experience fighting in the desert.  Our hero was part of a tank company sent to North Africa to fight along side of the British and gain some practical experience against the Germans.

There are a few stereotypical characters as well.  There is an Italian who is both a little round and has no real stomach for a fight.  He is, however, a pretty good mechanic.  There is a Frenchman who was driven out of France when the Nazis came and executed most of the people in his village because they were suspected resistance fighters.  He is also a bit round and has a love of good wine and good food.  Also not a terribly good fighter but he is willing to kill a German at first chance.  Finally, there is a Sudanese tracker who is a good fighter and is well respected.  Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this is that the movie was filmed well before the civil rights movement.  The character is both believable and well done.  Not a second banana by any stretch.

A remake of this movie was made in 1995 staring, oddly enough, James Belushi.  This was an Australian made movie.  I saw it on IMDB and thought Id give it a trying.  With lowered expectations, I watched it and was pleasantly surprised.  The cast of characters was quite good.  Most of the story was the same from the older classic.  The opening scene is still the same.  There are a few classic tanks, including a Matilda.  There is no German halftrack but there is a LRDG patrol that finds the gang.  They have a vintage Chevy and a Jeep.  The characters were similar to that of the classic movie but somehow were more endearing.  Luigi the Italian was less of a caricature than previously.  he was still a whiz bang mechanic and still just wanted to get home so he could live out his life with his wife and child.  Frenchy was portrayed a bit mean and even a little sinister.  When he switches out to the famous scene where he talks about what he would do if he were back at his vineyard, he was really likable, much like the classic Frenchy.  But then he remembers that it is not there anymore and he begins to brood again.    It was after this scene that you really see the lads bond.

The attacks were very similar though Waco never goes for help.  He stays to fight and pays the price like the rest of the men except two.  The big difference is that in the old movie, Lulu Belle never moves during the fight.  In the new version it goes on a bit of a joy ride hitting the German attackers hard.  Note that at this stage in the war, German infantry had no effective means of dealing with an M-3.  This is a recon battalion so even if they had a 37mm gun, it would have been ineffective against the 2″ sloped plate of the Lee.  Perhaps not as cool looking as the tank assault on the tree line in the movie “Fury” but a pretty good scene none-the-less.

Finally, there is Joe Gunn.  We all probably know about Bogart and his role.  He does do a fabulous job.  He is quite capable and brave but it not the “Mary Sue” that other action heroes are.  In fact, he is kind of flawed and can even be mean at times in his own right.  As played by James Belushi?  Surprisingly good.  My objection to him is not with the acting but rather with the look.  Belushi just didn’t look “military.”  he did not have a tanker’s uniform which almost certainly would have been a khaki coveralls like the one Bogart wore.  His hair was too long and the hair style a bit too modern.  But his acting was quite good.

You can’t go wrong watching either movie.  They tell the same story.  The acting is quite good in both though the style in the classic movie is a bit dated.  The sign of the times I suppose.  Get them both.  Watch them side by side.  Well worth the 3+ hours you will spend.