Sunday, 15 July 2018

Mid Victorian Royal Navy Channel Fleet c1870

I finally finished off the re-basing and extra 1/2400th scale Tumbling Dice warships for the Royal Navy Channel Squadron today, having originally started to assemble them way back in 2010! They are destined for a 'What If?' blockading action to bottle up the French in Brest, which is exactly what they would have been up to if it had all kicked off in 1860 something.

I re-based the ships that I had assembled on laser cut mdf to match the bases that I have used on the French, Danish, Prussians and Austrians. I also glued together a few more broadside and turret ironclads including HMS Monarch, HMS Prince Albert, HMS Caledonia and HMS Ocean, together with the steam frigate HMS Aurora for the Battle of Heligoland. 

I now need to undercoat the whole lot with matt black primer, ready to be painted up over the holidays, which are starting at the end of the week. I doubt I'll get even half of them painted to be honest, so my priority will be to complete the Prussian and Danish ships for the Battle of Jasmund in 1864. These mainly consist of gunboats, sloops and frigates, so nothing too complicated (I hope!).

I don't like football but....

Mid Victorian French Channel Fleet c1870

I re-based some of my Tumbling Dice British ironclads the other day, so decided to do the same with the French ships that I had assembled years ago, as they've been sitting in a box gathering dust since then. I also added a handful of new models to the squadron including some ironclad rams (thanks for the model Colin). I chose an arbitrary cut-off point of 1870 for the French fleet, which means that I could also do the post Franco-Prussian War reconstructed fleet of the 1880's at a later date. I may well add one or two more ships by the end of the weekend but I'm now off to the garage to base up the matching Royal Navy squadron, so that I can take all of them off to France to paint up over the holidays.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

1864 Austrian North Sea Squadron

I had a bit of time this afternoon, having been a taxi driver for most of the morning, so decided to glue together the three Austrian ships for the Battle of Heligoland in May 1864. These are the steam frigates SMS Radetzky and SMS Schwarzenberg, with the gunboat SMS Seehund as an optional extra. The Seehund broke down on the way and did not turn up in time for the battle but I had a spare model so thought I'd add it to the line up. These are all Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale models that I've used as proxy versions of the Austrian ships, with only a minimal bit of conversion required to remove one of the funnels from the Schwarzenberg, along with the substitution of spars made from staples rather than the sails supplied with the kits.

Friday, 13 July 2018

No Way Out

I'm not a fan of this sort of thing but, having listened to a good review on Radio 4, I thought it would be an interesting diversion. I found a second hand hardback copy today in the local charity shop after work, so for two quid I now have a book to read over the weekend. It's not too long and printed in relatively large type, no doubt for those who don't like too many words, so I should be able to polish it off in a couple of days. I prefer more 'historical' military history, if that makes sense, but I'm prepared to try out something more contemporary for a change, even if the strapline makes me slightly cringe. Who knows, it might even inspire some modern skirmishing in 15mm?

Thursday, 12 July 2018

1864 Prussian Fleet Rebased

I have now re-based most of the Prussian warships for the 1864 Second Schleswig War on longer 20mm wide laser cut bases, leaving space to attach an identification label at the stern. I left the tiny 2nd class gunboats on 15mm wide bases, as these were already large enough to fit a label on, but the larger sloops, corvettes and frigates needed about 5mm more in length. They will all be spray undercoated in matt black next, ready to be painted over the holidays.

1864 Danish Fleet Complete

I'm off work today, as I wasn't needed, so have spent the morning finishing off the last three warships for the Danish fleet. These are the two steam frigates, Jylland and Niels Juel, and the screw corvette Dagmar. I had forgotten just how fiddly a job it is to glue the spars onto the masts, having cut them to length from staples, but I got there in the end after quite a bit of colourful language. I also based up the turret ship HMS Royal Sovereign, which I'll add to the Royal Navy flotilla because it's just cool. 

The Danish fleet for the 1864 Second Schleswig War is now pretty much complete, at least the useful bits of it that actually did things, although I did think of converting a model into the ironclad Danmark, which was fitting out at the time but didn't quite make it into action. I'd also like to find a replacement for the Hallmark Rolf Krake model, which just doesn't look right next to the Tumbling Dice ships? Perhaps I could scratch build it out of plastic card and bits, or even persuade Paul to do one for me?

Naval Command v3.0

Rory Crabb has just updated and republished his Naval Command modern naval rules, which are now in their third and possibly final edition. This is good news as it shows that the rules are being fully supported and developed but bad news in that I may well have to re-print the whole 90+ pages of the rulebook, assuming I want to try out the latest version. A bit of Cold War era naval gaming is one of my projects for later in the year, specifically the Indonesian Confrontation and other things 'East of Suez' in the 1960's, so I am looking forward to using Naval Command as one of my potential systems, the other being Shipwreck! Luckily for me, having bought the original rules way back when they were first published, I get a free copy of the latest version to download from Wargames Vault. There's a link to Rory's webpage here:

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Steam and Sail Ship Basing

I've based all of my Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale models on 20mm or 15mm wide laser cut mdf bases to give me a consistent way of measuring for range and angles of fire. The models come with cast white metal sea bases, which look very nice and cut out all the messy base texturing, but which are all sorts of shapes and sizes making measuring a bit contentious. 

The extra mdf edge protects the bowsprits and sticky outy bits as well, making it less likely that things will bend or snap off in the heat of action. I did wonder about using wider 30mm bases like ones I used for my Victory at Sea French fleet but I don't think it would be worth it. They look nice but only if the whole base is textured to match, as you can see in the photo below:

One downside of the narrower bases is the lack of space for a label to identify the individual warships on most of the bases but I think I can label the base edge instead, which will be more discrete and less of a visual eyesore. I have just ordered some new 20mm wide bases for another project, so I may re-base some of the smaller models on longer sections to allow me to add some proper name labels. 

If not, I can always use numbers or just label the underside of the bases, which is less convenient but just as effective. I'll also have to paint the bare mdf areas with the same base colour that I'll use on the textured bases, so everything blends in rather than adding extra texturing to cover it all up. I should be able to get all of the basing done pretty quickly as a result.

Monday, 9 July 2018

What's on the Workbench This Week?

I'm changing tack this week, with some Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale re-enforcements for the Danish and British squadrons in the Second Schleswig War of 1864. I have enough Prussian vessels already but I'm a bit light on Danish warships, so will be assembling the screw frigates Niels Juel and Jylland, using the frigate HMS Phoebe (ASV5) as a proxy. 

I'm also adding a couple of extras to the Royal Navy flotilla, in the shape of the screw frigate HMS Aurora (using ASV6) and the early turret ironclad HMS Royal Sovereign (ASV30), which should add a bit of 'what if?' firepower to the proceedings. The Royal Navy played a minimal role in the conflict but could have been more involved, so why not?

The additional Danish warships and HMS Aurora will allow me to do the Battle of Heligoland, so I will fill things out with the Austrian screw frigates SMS Schwarzenberg (ASV9) and SMS Radetzky (ASV7), together with the absent gunboat SMS Seehund (ASV15), with the rest of the Danish and Austrian ships already ready for painting. 

These are all additions to my set up for the Second Schleswig War of 1864 using David Manley's Broadside and Ram fast play rules, with a few extra bits pinched from his ACW rules Dahlgren and Columbiad. I need to do a bit of re-basing and some undercoating before I can get started on the painting but, in all other respects, this is the Summer Project ready to go.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Flashpoint Tawan ROCAF Painting Finished


I spent a few hours today finishing the paintwork on the Tumbling Dice 1/600th scale ROCAF aircraft, although the bases will have to be done over the week along with the decals. I'm not too pleased with the end result, especially the F-16's as they look a bit 'mushy' and not as crisp as I would have liked, although the F-100 Super Sabres came out looking a bit better. I didn't enjoy painting this lot as much as usual, so that might explain the lack of enthusiasm I have for the end result. I'll get the decals and bases sorted over the week, along with a bit of tidying up and tail stripe painting, then it's on to other more nautical things.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Give Us the Ships Again!

Way back in March, before I was ambushed by What a Tanker! amongst other things, I set out my plans for naval wargaming this year. As is the way with this sort of blatant optimism, none of my four highlighted naval projects have made any progress at all yet, although I did make a promising start on the Fast Attack Craft for Bulldogs Away!

So, it's about time I put that right and actually finished at least one of my nascent projects over the Summer and into the Autumn. I'm going to take one of them off to France this year to actually paint, rather than just assemble, with the 1/2400th scale Broadside and Ram 1864 Schleswig Holstein War project as the most likely option.

This has been hanging around for years, with all the ships and gunboat for both the Prussians and Danes undercoated, ready to be painted. I even have merchant ships and a British ironclad squadron to quite literally go alongside the main protagonists. It's a project that really should be tackled and what better time to do so than the Summer holidays?

I also have some brand new naval wargaming ideas for the rest of the year including a couple of projects that are only just on the drawing board. The front runner of these has just been ordered from Navwar, which might give you a bit of a clue about scale if not the actual focus. Not that I won't also be doing more 1/600th scale air wargaming or 15mm/20mm skirmish stuff, both of which are already on the 'to do' list for the next six months

Flashpoint Taiwan ROCAF Progress

I started the base coating and blocking in on the 1/600th scale Tumbling Dice aircraft for the ROCAF this afternoon, although it's so hot that the paint was drying out faster than I could get it from the brush to the palette. The basic light and mid-grey shades have been wet brushed onto the F-16's and F-5A's, while the F-100's and F-86D's have been given a silver basecoat followed by a Future / Ink wash. I've also blocked in the black on the B-57 and the B-26 Invader night intruders. I'm hoping to continue tomorrow with some white blocking in on the canopies and coloured areas, followed by the blue canopies, the green, red and blue markings and the metallic engine sections.

Gridded Naval Wargames

With International Naval Wargames Day only a month away, I thought I'd have a closer look at Bob Cordery's latest publication, Gridded Naval Wargames, with a view to scratch building some basic ironclad warships for a game on the big day. I like the idea of grid based naval wargaming, as it makes a lot of sense both for movement and gunnery, let alone making hidden movement and underwater submarine operations a lot less complicated than normal. 

I also really like the idea of assembling some home made warship models, which is a perfect activity for the holidays when I'm away from the workbench and don't have access to all my usual tools and paints. There are several sets of rules in the book and full guidelines for constructing suitable model ships out of card and balsa wood, so all I'd need to do is scratch build some ironclads, draw up a grid and get playing. Brilliant!

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Tumbling Dice 1/600th French c1939-40

I ordered some Mirage 2000's from Tumbling Dice at the start of the week but, not wanting to pay postage on just one bag of planes, decided to look around for a mini-starter pack from the 1/600th scale range to bulk out the order. I decided to get the one for the French Air Force c1939-40, consisting of the following models:

ISA 320 - Bloch MB-152-1 x6
ISA 321 - Dewoitine D520 x6
ISA 322 - Moraine Saulnier MS406 x6
ISA 323 - Potez 63.11 x4
ISA 323a - Potez 633 x4
ISA 324 - Bloch 200 x3
ISA 325 - Amiot 143 x3
ISA 330 - SNCASE LeO451 x3

These mini-starter packs are good value for money and a bit like a Xmas stocking when you open them, as they contain all sorts of interesting goodies. I can add the French to my existing lead pile of Luftwaffe and RAF planes for the Battle of Britain variant in the Wings at War series, Scramble for Britain and for Bag the Hun. Zut Alors!

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Missile Threat: Air Combat 1960-2000

I've had my eye on this set of modern air combat rules for a while but have yet to decide if I'm going to get a copy to try out, having already got at least three and probably more perfectly good rules already. However, they do look interesting and I may be tempted at the end of the week to download a set, if only to compare them with Airwar:C21, Target Locked On! and CY6:Jet Age, amongst the other rules that I have lined up for my modern air war projects. There's a play through of a game here:

Flashpoint Taiwan RoCAF F-16's

I was looking for something else yesterday when I found some 1/600th scale Tumbling Dice F-16 Fighting Falcons in a box of Israeli aircraft that I'd stashed away. I decided to use four of these as Taiwanese F-16's, which will allow me to bring the RoCAF a bit more up to date. I've also ordered a pack of four Mirage 2000's to use alongside the F-16's, although that's it for the modern element of the project, as I far prefer the 1960's Cold War kit.

Monday, 2 July 2018

What's on the Workbench This Week?

Here are the Tumbling Dice 1/600th scale aircraft that I'm painting up over the next week or so, when I can find the time to get some brushwork underway. The idea is to balance out the collection of planes for the PLAAF and ROCAF, so that I can run a series of games set from the mid to late 1950's through to the mid 1970's, changing the line up on both sides as time goes on. Some of these  will be historical whilst others will be 'what if?' clashes, escalating to full bombing raids and interceptions in a Cold War Gone Hot scenario. I'll be using Target Locked On! as the rules of choice but I'm also thinking of using Air War:C21 or similar hex based fast play rules as well.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Target Locked On! - Flashpoint Taiwan

I've only got a couple of weekends and three weeks before the holidays, so thought I'd leave starting the Mexican Revolution skirmish project for the moment and just finish off a few loose ends from earlier in the year. Way back in March I prepared a handful of Tumbling Dice 1/600th scale planes for the Flashpoint Taiwan project, then promptly went off to do other things.

These consist of some F-86D Sabre Dogs, some F5A Freedom Fighters, some F-100 Super Sabres and some assorted 'black ops' reconnaissance aircraft including a Canberra and an A-26 Invader. I think these should be relatively quick to paint up, so ideal as a small task to complete over the next couple of weeks, giving me a decent range of aircraft to use against the PLAAF fighters that I've already completed and the bombers that I still need to finish.

Sturmpanzer IV Finished

I've finished the Esci / Armourfast Sturmpanzer IV for What a Tanker! this morning, although a last minute decal disaster almost threatened to scupper the whole thing. As is the way with this sort of problem, it only happened right at the end when I had done all the hard work, so I wasn't about to chuck in the towel!

I used some decal solution to bed down the insignia but it stripped the white camouflage layer instead. In the end I was able to salvage this by removing a bit more of the camouflage, so that it looked like the insignia from the underlying paint had been left visible, rather then being re-painted on top of the camouflage itself. 

This was often done to save time and effort when tanks were being whitewashed with an extemporised winter camouflage. I had to touch up some of the bigger holes with white, which spoiled the overall effect, but these have now been re-washed to make the white blend in better. It's all done now, so I am free to move on to something else!

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Nonomhan 1939

I'm reading this now, as a bit of background for one of the projects I'm thinking of doing over the holidays, although that's not set in stone as yet. This is a 1/600th scale Wings at War project, using elements of the Battle of Britain version, Scramble for Britain, combined with bits from the WW1 variant Duel of Aces, to recreate the air warfare side of the Battle of Khalkhin Gol in 1939 (I originally had this idea way back in 2010!)

Needless to say, I have all the Tumbling Dice planes ready and waiting, so would just be assembling and magnet basing them over the holidays, ready for painting in September. I'm also thinking of doing the same for the First World War version of the Wings at War rules, Duel of Aces, with lots of tiddly biplanes to glue together and magnet base alongside the later Japanese and Soviet stuff.

I can then pick and choose which project to complete in the latter half of the year, taking the same assembly line approach that I used for MiG Alley, which seemed to work well. The magnet basing will also mean that I can use the planes for Bag the Hun, Algernon Pulls It Off or any number of different rules, using my home made hex bases to swap over to hex based movement. 

Sturmpanzer IV Kitbash

I assembled the kitbash Esci / Armourfast Sturmpanzer IV this morning, which wasn't too much trouble and less complicated than I thought it would be, even if the hull needed a bit of jiggling about to fit on top of the tracks. I have left off the bazooka plates, some of the more fragile pieces and also simplified the stowage but, other than that, it's a straight out of the box conversion. I'm now wondering how to paint it and whether or not to use a camouflage pattern, then over weather it or just use the overall white camouflage that I've applied on the other 1/72nd scale tanks? 

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Esci Sturmpanzer IV for What a Tanker!

I bought a cheap old Esci kit of a Sturmpanzer IV Brummbar on eBay a week or so ago, pretty much on a whim as it has no real use in What a Tanker! aside from being a massive bullet magnet. The idea will be to combine the top half of the kit with the bottom half of an Armourfast Stug IV, so that I don't have to muck about with fiddly track bits and loads of tiddly road wheels.

I might have a go at this kit bashing at the weekend, although I don't think I'll get around to painting the end result if it actually works? The point of the exercise will be to use the thing as a scenario objective or mission focus, either as something to protect as it rumbles toward a fortified target or as a broken down objective to be towed away by either side. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

What's On The Workbench?

This is what I'm supposed to be doing now!

I've been very busy over the last couple of days, so no time for any wargaming things, although I have spent some time musing about what to do next, particularly over the holidays in three weeks time. I have now decided that 15mm Chain of Command will be too much to bite off and chew, with the end result being yet another box full of based figures that will get shoved back on top of the pile, so I am thinking of something else. 

At the moment, this has randomly see-sawed between a smaller 15mm project, probably one of the post-colonial ones that I fiddled about with earlier in the year, something nautical like the 1/700th scale Fast Attack missile boats that I fiddled about with at the same time, or perhaps another small scale 1/600th air project, of which I have many to choose from. 

Incidentally, the Wings of War: Desert Spitfires project has hit the buffers due to a complete lack of early Egyptian decals, so another plan is clearly called for. 

In the meantime I'm hoping to crack on with the Fistful of Lead: Viva La Revolucion! thing, if only I can find the time. The Mexicans are ready for painting and the US army figures are just waiting for a convenient slot to be based and undercoated, so I may get them started this weekend?

Sunday, 24 June 2018

What a Tanker! Panzers Finished


Phew! About time too, as I'm now looking forward to something else, to be honest, having churned out both the German and Soviet tanks over the last month or so. I'm quite pleased with the end result, although the Armourfast Stug IV and StuH 42 aren't as nice as my favourites of the bunch, the Plastic Soldier Company Mark IV's. I used the leftover decals from the Italeri Tiger I kit on these and, although I would have preferred red numbers, I think they look not half bad. I have some space in the box for a few more German tanks and a couple of kits to build, including a Sturmpanzer IV and a Jagdtiger, but I think I'll give it a break now and do something different.


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