Monday, 31 January 2011

A history of Airfix HO/OO AFV kits - part 6 - 1964

The year of 1964 saw four new releases - a number never repeated. 
The first of these was the Tiger - a basic kit which nonetheless makes up into a very decent representation.  I have owned loads of them over the years and currently have half a dozen 'on fleet', together with a few of their younger counterparts from Fujimi and Dragon.
This Tiger (with added MMS crew) is attached to 10 Panzer Division.
Next came the 'Bren Carrier & 6 Pounder gun'.  This is in fact a Universal Carrier and they infest my boxfiles in a variety of guises. 
This very standard Carrier currently serves the Motor Battalion of Guards Armoured Division.

This is the 6-pdr AT gun as made up straight from the box/bag/pack (depending on the age of the kit!).  As with the 25 pdr kit, the crew figures aren't great by modern standards,  These guys are metal figures by FAA, and the gun serves as the AT Regiment of 15 Scottish Division.

Another Carrier - this one, together with the Dixon figures, is the RE Detachment of 7 Armoured Division.

Carriers were supplied in considerable numbers to the Russians.  This one has been lightly modified with the addition of a Russian HMG from the Matchbox T-34 kit.

Captured Carrier!  This one provides the transport for a Panzergrenadier battalion of 2 SS Panzer Division 'Das Reich'.

Carrier variants were numerous.  This line layer was based on a photo and the conversion was carried out sometime in the 1970s - this is one of my oldest models.  It now serves on the staff of 6 SS Gebirgsjager Division 'Nord'.

Just to show that it's not only the Germans who capture stuff.  This Carrier is now part of the Trieste Motorised Division.
A further release was the 'Armoured Car 234'.  As is now well known, the sides (or mudguards) on this kit were actually based on the earlier Sdkfz 231 cars, and many have been converted into other versions of the 231/234 series.
The original style of packaging.  Later this kit came in 'blister' packs and finally boxes.

Finding one of these made up as per the instructions wasn't easy.  This example from 11 Panzer Division may look standard, but I have in fact replaced the PAK 40 gun with the rather better one which comes as part of the Airfix Opel Blitz kit.

Sdkfz 234/4. This is a typical conversion (not by me), showing the correct pattern sides made up from plastic sheet.

Sdkfz 233.  This version with the short 75mm gun was built by Chris Kemp.  Despite the 21PD insignia, it is destined to join 9 Panzer Division which is currently 'forming' in a suitably labelled boxfile.

Sdkfz 231 Radio Car - this conversion is the staff company of 11 Panzer Division

Sdkfz 234/1 with 20mm cannon in a new turret.  Part of the Aufkl Abt of Das Reich.

Crude but good - JR's old conversion using parts from the M3 halftrack kit.  Now part of 3 Panzer Division.
The final release in this year was the Centurion Tank.  This iconic postwar British tank kit offered many conversion possibilities, but being primarily a WW2 gamer, at least in this scale, I never bothered with it much.  I did build one in the late 1970s but as is so often the case, it's fate is unknown.
A 1970s- style kit box.

The only 'standard' Centurion I can offer a photo of is this overpainted monstrosity I picked up a couple of years ago.  When I get round to dealing with it the side skirts will be coming off - they are covered in enough paint to stop a 125mm round, never mind an RPG!

This is rather nicer.  I picked up this beautiful conversion on a MkI Centurion a few years ago. 
The turret is completely different to the kit offering.

The spares box contains quite a lot of Centurion bits.  If I can source some suitable wheels (T-34 or Comet perhaps?),
 I think there are the makings of a complete tank here!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Martin Marauder Mk II

Another 1/144 scale bomber now.  This Marauder came in the same batch as the Liberator I mentioned recently.  Again, I wanted to finish it as something other than a 'standard' US or RAF machine.  At around the time I was researching the B-24 markings I saw a mention of B-26s having been used by the RAAF.  I then came across a picture of an RAAF Mitchell in a rather striking plain green over black finish, and decided to use this scheme on the Marauder.
This model suffered more than most under the camera flash (see third photo), so I tried it with no flash.

The markings were made up from what I could find - the roundels are RAF ones without the red centre added.

Switching the flash off changes the shade of green totally!

Soviet Air Assault Brigade - part 1

For the first time in many months, I have this weekend made some progress with my 6mm toys.  As usual, I have far too many projects on the go, and the Air Assault Brigade was started some months ago when I sorted out and assembled all the toys and sprayed on the base coat.
The vehicles for the AAB.  All GHQ models, undercoated with Humbrol 'Grass Green' (spray paint).
This unit has been put together for use with my NATO Brigade Commander rules, and will be based for use with my 'desert' Hexon tiles.  I will post further photos as progress is made. 
The infantry (also GHQ) and vehicles, along with a few other odds and ends being painted at the same time.
This will actually be my third (and final?) AAB - the others having 'snow' and green bases.  The organisation of all three is similar - two para battalions and two air assault battalions in BMDs, together with company-sized units of AT, recce, artillery and AA. 
The toys in this case are all from the GHQ range, the figures and heavy weapons being a mix of their Russian (W68 & W69) and 'Brushfire Warriors' (TW8 & TW9) - the latter chosen as they are wearing berets.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Type 97-Kai Shinhoto Chi-Ha

The batch of Japanese vehicles I built some time ago and finally finished last week included a Fujimi kit of a Type 97-Kai Shinhoto Chi-Ha.  This version had the longer 47mm gun, the short 57mm having been identified as inadequate for dealing with enemy armour.  Or dry paper bags. 
The Fujimi kit goes together nicely and is compatible in size with the Airfix offering.  I went for a later colour scheme - current from 1942 onwards.  The commander was a metal figure I had lying around but I may well replace him if I find a better figure.  I bought this kit cheaply at a show many years ago - one reason for it's low price being the absence of any tracks.  These were quire difficult to replace as the originals are quite narrow with a single central row of teeth.  The spares box offered no obvious candidates, but then inspiration struck!  I ended up using a single track from a Matchbox Panther.  This was quite wide and had two rows of teeth, so I (carefully) cut it down the centre line, cut to the correct length and ended up with a pair of tracks which fitted my Chi-Ha!  Think of it as a belated technology transfer from the Reich.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Consolidated Liberator GR.Mk VI

One of the models I did some work on over the Christmas holidays was this 1/144 scale Liberator model.  It arrived a couple of years ago as part of a batch of (already built but unpainted) models I bought at a show.  This is an old Minicraft kit and had been assembled to a reasonable standard.  I considered various colour schemes for this model, and already having several 'normal' USAAF B-24s, I fancied something a bit different - possibly with RAF markings.  Finding a picture of an aircraft of No. 547 Squadron, RAF Coastal Command settled the matter.  547 was based (in late 1944 at least) at RAF Leuchars in Fife.  Not only is Leuchars my 'local' RAF station (I grew up only about 15 miles away and attended several air displays there in the 1970s), but I know a number of people who have been stationed there over the years.
As always, the camera flash is rather unforgiving!

The markings were cobbled together from whatever bits I had in the markings box.

The paint looks better than this under normal lighting.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Flaming Zero

I mentioned in my recent post on Zeroes that I had a couple of 'specials'.  Here is the first - a burning wreck!
This is the model as it came out of the box!  The 'smoke' seems to be made of painted rubber and is most effective.

Note also the 'damage' to wings and tail. 

Is that the culprit in the background?  The F6F Hellcat is an old Revell kit.

The Zero plunges towards the surface of the Pacific, er,  table.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Rolica, 1808 (again) - Command & Colours

The second outing of C&C N again saw the Rolica scenario being fought - this time with John Armatys leading the British (& Portuguese) Army while Martin Rapier fought to retain the Peninsula for France.
Hopefully my previous post on C&C N shed some light on the game mechanics, so this report will simply highlight some incidents which occurred during the game.  For simplicity and consistency, I shall refer to left, centre and right sectors from the French point of view.   In many photos I have left the dice in view as they help to explain what is going on.
On the left - French Hussars lay into Portuguese lights.  It didn't go well for the infantry.

The battlefield viewed from the left.  The action above can be seen more or less in the centre of the photo.

The plucky Portuguese formed square but it didn't save them.  This was the situation after the French charge.

Here on the right, French infantry (on the hill) have charged the Brits,
 inflicting two hits (infantry and sword) and causing a retreat (flag).

More lucky French dice rolling - spectacularly so this time!  The French (with valiant leader at the helm) charge the Brit lights - wiping them out!  This felt a bit uncomfortable at the time, but in fact the chances of it happening are minimal.

More carnage - the French charge the Brits in the wood - who rather obligingly all die horribly.

At this point the French need one more victory banner to win.  This unit suffers 75% losses....
The following turn the same unit (now with a single stand and an attached leader) is again attacked.  The single stand goes and as that provided a further victory banner, the game ands immediately.  Just for fun, however, John rolled the 'risk to leader' dice, knowing that Wellesley would be safe on anything except a double sword...
...and sadly a promising military career is cut short!
I hope that I have conveyed the impression that this was a fun game - it was and is.  It was played by two players (one with very little knowledge of the mechanisms) and a bungling umpire in well under two hours.  Overall, the French dice were better than average, the British worse than average.  Apart from the massacre of the British light infantry (5th photo above), nothing uncomfortable took place, and even that event can be rationalised as being possible but very rare.  Importantly (for me at least), the game uses a single box of Hexon tiles and fits on a 5x3 foot table. 
Those of you planning to use 15mm toys may care to note that those used in the game described (mostly based on 1x1 inch stands) were transported in a single boxfile.  The toys are all from my accumulation (sorry, but I can't think of it as a 'collection', from various manufacturers - mostly picked up at shows and ebay, with some (including the French Hussars) painted for me by Steve Briddon.  The 'Portuguese' came out of the 'Saxon' box, and one of the 'British' guns is in fact from Brunswick.
I look forward to playing (and reporting) more C&C N games.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Type 97 Chi-Ha - part 2

The Type 97s (and some other Jap vehicles) are now finished!  The Airfix Chi-Ha was a kit I recall building (badly) in the late '70s.  That original is long gone, but following a burst of activity I now seem to have quite a fleet of Japanese tanks. 
Both of my 'new' Airfix Chi-Has traverse the undulating ground of the wargames table.
I simplified the camo scheme, and after a heavy dose of drybrushing it doesn't look too bad.
This is another Airfix '97 which came from Chris Kemp.  In an inspired move, Chris replaced the missing tracks with planked plastic sheet. 
 That's it for the Airfix Type 97s, but photos of more Japanese tanks will follow.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Rolica, 1808 - Command & Colours

After I had opened my newly arrived copy of Command & Colours Napoleonics and had a quick flick through the rules, I set up the first scenario - Rolica - using my Hexon terrain tiles and 15mm toys and played through a few turns.  A photo of the general setup appeared in an earlier post.  Although I got a number of things wrong on this run-through, the game did have a nice 'feel' to it.  The components - cards, reference cards, rulebook etc) are of very high quality and there are a number of tweaks specific to the Napoleonic period, including infantry squares and cavalry retiring and reforming.  There are also a number of differences between troops of different nationalities - for example British infantry musketry is better then French, but the Frenchies are better in melee, and so on.
The three infantry units forming the British centre.

The French right wing.  The unit scale seems to vary between scenarios - at Rolica they represent battalions.

The early battle seen from behind the British centre.

The French left poised for action.

Some of the order cards used in the game.  The number of cards reflects the varying command & control of the armies involved.  At Rolica, the Brits have 6 and the French 5.

British light infantry advances supported by artillery fire.

The French launch an attack.  The red counters mark the boundary between the centre and right sectors.

The French open fire.  The dice show only a single infantryman,
indicating that one casualty has been inflicted on the Brits.

The British left wing moves forward.

The British lights suffer another French salvo.  Each infantryman (blue face) indicates a casualty,
while the flags each cause the unit to retreat one hex.  Ouch.

The British guns inflict two hits on their opposite numbers.

The French light cavalry gets ready to advance.

Meanwhile on the French left, more Hussars take on and beat their Portuguese opponents.  As the Portuguese had a (British) general attached and suffered casualties a 'risk to leader' role was required.  Not to worry though - he only dies if two swords are rolled.  Oh. 

The Portuguese continue to suffer - here their light infantry are wiped out by a French (off camera) salvo. 

French Hussars charge the guns.

The British centre advances at last.... 

...but sadly the French have been hoarding a card which gave them added firepower. 
This was the result!  I called a halt shortly afterwards.