Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Airfix French Cuirassier

Photo by Takacs Krisztian 

One of the pleasures of the Sunday game was that I got to meet up with Krisztian (not painting Krisztian, gaming Krisztian)* and he beat me hollow at Memoir '44. I settled his hash at Arnhem, but he hammered me at Samur and in the Courland Pocket. Krisztian brought with him some figures from Hungary which will be appearing here in short order. But first amongst them was an Airfix French Cuirassier. 

Photo by Takacs Krisztian 

This was painted by a friend of Krisztians.  A man he described as "...the talented one." Now, I mostly collect figures for wargaming purposes, but every so often one picks up a toy soldier for the sheer pleasure of looking at a toy soldier. All I can say is what a beauty. I don't know if the chap is looking for commission work, but I will gladly forward the details of any blog reader that is interested. 

Photo by Takacs Krisztian 

The use of colour, the attention to details, the beautiful work on the horse - this dastardly Frencher is sitting on my desk at the moment (I'm meant to be writing an article) and I've just been spellbound. What a piece of work. 

Photo by Takacs Krisztian 

I think the work on the face of the cuirassier and the horses eyes are particularly good. You can almost smell the sweat.  On the few occasions I've had the privilege of working with the mounted unit, the thing that has always struck me is the heat that radiates from a horse on a cold day and the strong musky scent. Having this chap coming at you at full tilt must have been a nerve wracking experience. 

Hold boys! Hold! 
The battle of Quatre Bras by Lady Butler
(of which I am really inordinately fond

Note the dismounted cuirassier in the right foreground. 

Another look at that fantastic horse - I can only presume that the painter was working in oils to get such a wonderful sheen on the horses coat. 

Artist's impression of Kinch

I'd just like to conclude this post by observing that don't talented people make you sick to your stomach? Look at them with their hard won skill, achieved by work, application and God given talent - thinking their better than you.  And knowing that they are right. 

I'm just going to sit here and stew in my own mediocrity. 

Bah humbug. 

But, still and all, what a figure - just wow. I'm still marvelling at him as I write this. 

Note: Should anyone wish to get in touch with the painter, drop me a comment and I'll put you in touch.  He works exclusively in large scale figures. 

*I have a theory that all Hungarians are in fact called Krisztian.  Old John maintains that this is true, though there is one Hungarian called Zolt apparently.  He must have been terribly picked on in school. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Sunday Game

We had a game day in the Teachers Club yesterday.  This was a follow up from a similar outing we had last year, though a request was put in for an American Civil War game. Donogh suggested Chickamauga, so off I trooped off to the relevant Osprey. 

We had a good turnout with fourteen players throughout the day, which wasn't bad for a game meant for eight players. Fortunately, Sydney had brought my Memoir '44 stuff with him, so we were able to set up a second game on the other table. 

Loughlin leading the bold Union boys forward at Jays Mill. 

As this was Chickamauga, the board may be looking a little bare.  When I was putting the scenario together, I realised that I was going to do myself an injury if I kept filling the board with woods. So what I ended up doing was marking the roads and the clearings (note the brown paper hexes) and declaring all other hexes to be woods. 

Close range fight between Union and Rebel troops. 

While the American Civil War was raging to our left, Sydney, Savage and the rest of us ploughed through a number of Memoir '44 Overlord scenarios. 

We played the Market Garden scenario (narrow win for the Huns), the Courland Pocket scenario (narrow win for the Huns) and the Battle of Samur scenario.  I took the reins in this last one as the German commander as the French delivered a fearful kicking to the overconfident panzers. 

Mr E looks on about half way through Viniards Farm - the second Chickamauga scenario. 

I hadn't actually pulled out my 6mm American Civil War stuff in ages and it sort of set me to wondering if I shouldn't give it an outing a little bit more often. 

The acre of death
(an area of the battlefield so fiercely contested that the casualty 
markers made it impossible to fit any more troops in)

You will be glad to hear that Chickamauga ended with two Union victories.  The Teachers Club were there usual hospitable selves and a very convivial time was had by all.  Old John came over from Wales and Mr. MacR from Roscommon, so I had the rare pleasure of their company over the weekend. 

A good time had all and certainly something we will be doing again. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Experimental Friday

Yesterday was an experiment for two reasons. I put together an Airfix kit after swearing I would never do so again and I decided to do some proper photography, which I'd sort of sworn off as well.  After the Harriers, what could possibly go wrong? 

This is an Airfix Gloster Gladiator, a simple plastic kit of the last biplane fighter in British service. It went together relatively simply and the construction is sturdy enough, though the struts were a bit of a pain in the neck.   

I also took the opportunity to mess around with my new lighting tent.  I've been sick of not being able to get proper picture of my models, that I finally decided to take the plunge and get a tent.  This is a small portable setup that I can knock up and put down in less than twenty minutes.  It came with two lights and a very serviceable mini-tripod. 

There's something wonderfully quixotic about the Gloster Gladiator.  I love biplanes, a hangover I'm sure from when Biggles taught me to read.  The Gladiator was after it's time even when it was new, but it is still a magnificient beast and one that will always be associated with the Hal Far Fighter Flight, the legendary "Faith, Hope and Charity" that defended Malta in 1940.

GK Chesterton once wrote that he didn't like fair fights.  Those who have fought rarely do, so while the trio of Gladiators defending Malta in 1940 is certainly romantic, I'm sure they were very glad to get their Hurricanes in the end.  Still and all, it must have taken a considerable amount of nerve to go up in the gladiators in the first place.

I've been looking at Mosstroopers and Stokes's pictures with envious eyes for so long now that I decided that it was time to do something about it.  I had some photographic training, but it was candid and portrait almost exclusively - so taking pictures of figures has been a learning experience. 

All of these shots are the result of messing around with the aperture and longer exposures in the hope of getting a pin sharp image.  Practice I think will make perfect.

Once I get a handle on what works for this sort of setup, I'm sure it will be a lot easier. I got a little model railway backdrop, so I'll be able to imitate Mosstroopers wonderful scenes. 

Too little. 

Way too much. 

Lets bring that back a little. 

And again. 

We'll get there eventually. 

I don't do enough photography these days to really be comfortable with what I'm doing, but I think that I'll be able to crack this given another few goes.  There is a wealth of advice available online, but really I think a little application should work wonders.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A wonderful gift

This is a lot lighter than it looks.

One of the advantages of having an extended family who never throw anything away is some truly astonishing gifts. This is part of an airscrew found by my mother in law in the attic of her old home. It is surprisingly light and yet solid for it's size and is made of pieces of wood, glued together and then covered in a sort of varnish. 

This photograph accompanied it. 

This photograph shows the men of C Flight RAF Tallaght.  There is no date, but that aerodrome's life was so short, that it was probably taken in 1918 or 1919. Checking online has revealed that C Flight of No. 244 Squadron were stationed at Tallaght in 1919 and flew DH 6s in an anti-submarine patrol, covering the mailboat that traveled daily between Ireland and Great Britain. 

I shall scan a better copy of this photograph when I have a chance.  

An Airco DH6 (aka "The String Bag")

I can only presume that one of the former inhabitants of the house was attached to the squadron and remained in Ireland after independence. I am not entirely sure if the airscrew piece is associated with a DH6 as it was unmistakably from a four bladed screw. The DH6 seemed to have only had two blades, but perhaps a little digging will yield some information on that.

A close up of the marking on the screw

My mother in law has apparently been bringing this particular piece of history from house to house ever since she got it and she was particularly pleased to pass it on to me.  She is too good a woman to throw it out, but was not keen on having it about the house. It shall be adorning the wall of the War Room before too long. 

For all my mother in law's protestations that I am doing her a favour by taking it off her hands - I was very touched by this gift. I wonder about the men of C Flight and what they would make of where they live now - a world away in time, if not in space. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

British QF 2-pdr Anti-Tank Gun

This is one of Zvesda's Art of Tactic kits. I can't remember exactly when or why exactly I picked it up, but it was certainly only around €3 or €4. This is the 2lb (that's 40mm in new money) anti-tank gun that the British Expeditionary Force took to France at the outbreak of the war.

Regular readers will not doubt be bored stiff with this, but Zvesda have yet again produced an excellent, cleanly cast kit in glueable hard plastic.  The detail is fine, the construction relatively rugged considering the slender nature of the model and the price is right - there is a lot to like here.

Just about the only bad thing I can say about this kit is that it is snap together.  All the parts just click into place without any need for glue.  This does mean that if you try and put the kit together dry, just to test things out in the hope of taking it apart and gluing it for safety, you won't be able to. The fit is just that good. This created some problems for me as the gun carriage is quite slim and delicate and I wasn't able to get the good fit I was hoping for.  The trunnions and tube sit atop a turntable arrangement, which then sits on top of the carriage. I unfortunately had already pushed the carriage down into the base. I managed to get the turntable on top to fit in - sort of - but wasn't able to give it the kind of pressure that was needed for a really snug fit. I ended up lashing some liquid poly in there just to be sure. 

Forward thinking types could avoid this particular difficulty, but fixing the carriage to the plate last, which would leave you plenty of space to make a proper job of squishing the parts together.

So there you have it, a slim, beautiful little piece of work for pocket money prices.  Well done Zvesda I say. I will be painting mine up in Early War livery and I suspect it will be doing duty both in the Low Countries and during the VBCW. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Garibaldi and the Siege of Rome by Ralph Weaver

This arrived this morning. 

I first learned about Garibaldi when I was about eight or nine and my mother, who disapproved of my interest in military history, got me a picture book about Garibaldi and his red shirts. Garibaldi may have been a soldier, but he was at least ideologically pure.  I didn't think much of it at the time, but I rediscovered Garibaldi in my mid twenties when I read Trevelyn's book on his defence of the Roman Republic. 

"Garibaldi and the Siege of Rome"  by Ralph Weaver is in the style of his previous work on the Hungarian Army of the 1948 revolution.  Ralph Weaver has never disappointed and I am really looking forward to getting a proper read of this.   What you get is an A5 sized perfect bound softback, stuffed with uniform plates covering the army of the Roman Republic* and its opponents. There are chaps here that I've never seen before and that I've never even heard of.  

I had heard rumbling that this book would be available at Salute in April as the Continental Wars Society are doing a 28mm participation game set during the Siege of Rome, which sounds really something.  

No details as to what rules will be used, but Ralph Weaver has written. 

"The part of the siege that we are going to portray at Salute will be the attempt by Garibaldi to recapture the villa Corsini on the 3rd June 1849.  Trevelyan gives a very spirited account in 'Garibaldi's Defence of the Roman Republic 1848-9'.  We shall have a model of the villa on the table held by French infantry and artillery and another model of the St Pancras Gate.  Participants will command various small Roman units and lead them in assaults on the villa.  They will have to negotiate the open road, the villa entrance gates, the Corsini garden and the double staircase before arriving at the door of the villa itself, no mean feat!  We shall have various Roman units on the table including the mounted lancers (which are sitting on my desk in the process of being painted) and I am sure Garibaldi himself will make an appearance." 

Something hexagonal this way comes 

In other news, I received a parcel with some more MDF bases from Jim at Products for Wargamers.  Jim has always comes up trumps, but this time, in addition to the excellent supply of bases Jim ran these up for Capability Savage. These are hex rosettes for a pirates board game that Capability Savage has been working on for a while now. The hexes were cut to a fine degree of accuracy and were also laser etched to show the smaller hexes within the larger rosettes. This will hopefully save Savage a considerable amount of time as he had made his own from card and it had taken an age. 

Artists impression of the kind of pirate that plays Savage's game. 

That said, I think Capability Savage is beginning to lose his edge. This pirates game has been in existence for nearly two years now and there is no sign of a drinking game to accompany it. I for one am appalled. 

But be that as it may, the laser etched rosettes are very nifty and I can't help thinking that there must be other ways of using this facility.  A solution in search of a problem perhaps, but still interesting. 

*No doubt I should say Second Roman Republic lest I be beaten by an enraged Classicist. 

To them I say, "Ite, et venire, si tibi satis durus es."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Vickers Light Tanks

Two twin turrets Vickers Light Tanks from Frontline 

I have been taking an interest in my small VBCW collection of late.  It's mainly an excuse to play some Memoir games and not worry too much about the kit and also I suppose the fact that it is a small collection and therefore something I can finish. These are Vickers 6 Tonners, the type A with the twin Vicker MG turrets.  I picked these because they were a snip at less than a fiver each and they could definitely not be mistaken for anything else. There's something quite Heath Robinson about them. 

Enemy Mortars for preventing pursuit across a frozen river

For those of you unfortunate enough to lack the benefits of a classical education, Heath Robinson was a British illustrator who was devoted to drawing ridiculous and incredibly complex machines.  I always remember the series of sketches he did for the Guinness company which showed the process of making a pint by means of pulleys, bits of string and magnets which were something of a fixture in older Irish pubs in the 1980s. 

Please forgive the eccentric camoflage pattern and the poor pictures. I've been struck down my a ghastly flu and I just wanted to paint something without worrying too much about the details.  The tanks were sprayed grey, because that was what I had to hand. They were then given a coat of dark green and a light dry brush of dark green mixed with a little yellow. The camoflage scheme was plucked from the air and was based on the paints that were closest to my hand.  I suspect that these are going to be forming part of the BUF armoured militia.

A recognition symbol cribbed from a 1/35 scale modelling site. 

I really should have included a picture of one of these with a figure next to them as you don't really get a sense of how tiny these are.  They really are rather dinky compared to the hulking great monsters of later years.

The Flames of War chaps get quite a bit of stick, but I've always liked their painting guides which are quite straight forward.  I suppose if I do any more VBCW armour I will probably use the guide above - but at the same time I quite like my eccentric looking twin turreted creature up above. 

Back to bed I think. Bah humbug. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

British Union of Fascists Riflemen

Sir Ian McKlellan kicking it old school with a Lewis gun

I've been taking an interest in the Very British Civil War idea for a while now as it seemed a fun way of doing some Second World War era games without being too tied down by details of kit. I have some British infantry and some partisans that would do, but you really need some proper baddies for this sort of endeavour. 

British Union of Fascists Riflemen 

These are Liberation miniatures Black and Tans from their Irish War of Independence range. I wasn't planning on using them for Ireland, so I decided they would do for the VBCW. 

I didn't have any white spray and I was eager to get motoring - so I went back to my roots and under coated black. The figures were then painted neatly using Vallejo colours and a fact sheet from the Flames of War site. 

I was not happy with the stark black as it just looked awful, so I did a light dry brush of grey over the black. This softened it considerably and was the only highlighting I did. 

Liberation figures, like Strelets, come with a lot of raised detail, so just a little bit of care gives a decent result. 

I have a second set of ten which will give me twenty figures - enough for 5 units of infantry suitable for Memoir '36. This should be sufficient for a game with a few extras.  

The chap on the left is holding a box of Lewis gun ammunition and there is a Lewis gunner in the other set. I might rate that as an MG if the scenario required it. 

It's funny - VBCW is a sometimes thing for me - but the change has been as good as a holiday.