Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Reconnaisance Musings...

Finally got the S&S Fox finsihed and based, and took the opporchancity to knock out a base for the Ferret while I was at it.

The Fox is my entry for the current "Armour" build over on The Guild.

CVR(W) Fox Armoured Car

Ferret Armoured Car

Now, I've got some Russian infantry and some 28mm F&IW artillery to try and get finished before the end of the month, to meet the deadline for the first entry of the 2014 big build...

Onwards and upwards, I suppose...

Monday, 3 March 2014

Terrain- Cold War Germany

As I’ve been continuing the struggle to complete two field-able forces for Force on Force, I’ve been thinking about some terrain for them to fight over. Beyond the sort of scale-less stuff like trees, hills, rivers, etc, suitable 20mm terrain isn’t something that either I or my usual opponents have in abundance, if at all. Previously we’d had a trial run with some 15mm FoW items, which was OK (if sparse) for a trial run, but for any sort of real games (or even displays at a later date) we’re really going to need something more appropriate.

My first thought was Byzantium Models, who I stumbled across some years ago over on Andy Rix’s superb blog, Cold War Gamer. On clicking onto their site, I found some ideal German houses, enough to represent a small community anyway, and they were beautifully tooled to boot. However, all were marked as out of production for re-mastering. Subsequently, Byzantium have gone into a bit of a hiatus, and that’s left me somewhat short of suitable real estate. There are of course plenty of ruined buildings produced for 20mm WWII, but nothing that was a) intact and b) actually reminiscent of post-war Germany.

So, with that in mind, I decided that I would have t improvise. Again taking inspiration form Andy’s blog on giving one’s terrain a German flavour, I decided to see what I could scrounge from our friends in the model railway sector. At first glance, this would appear to be a veritable Alladin’s cave of goodies; there are several German manufacturers producing ideal scenery of the Cold War era (mainly as stuff first moulded in the 80s is still marketed as “modern”) including houses, shops, and all sorts of commercial and industrial properties. However, European model railway scales are HO, as opposed to British OO gauge. This essentially works out as 1/87 vs 1/76, with 20mm being 1/72. I’ve no problem mixing 1/72 and 1/76, but when you sit 1/72 next to 1/87, I feel the difference is just too much, and buildings just start to look a bit odd. I know it’s only wargaming and said buildings (and gaming pieces) are only representations, but still; I’m a big anorak and it irks me. The second snag is price. Most of these items are unholy expensive (“ a hoor ae a price” in local parlance). I’m certainly not paying the thick end of £50 for a Lidl store that’s going to be too wee anyway…

I’m absolutely rubbish at scratch building anything that can’t be justified as being either rustic or ruined, so making my own nice, clean lined, modern structures was definitely out.

With this in mind, I decided to concentrate on obtaining some modern accessories that could be added to WWII era buildings if necessary to update them. Things like fencing, oil tanks, advertisements, lighting. This is where the model railway world is your friend, as a quick trip to Hattons provided me with these beauties-

Two styles of modern security fencing (chainlink & razor wire, and metal stake-type), oil tanks (initially thought these were the bunded plastic types seen outside most farmhouses, turns out they’re big industrial types, but that’s not going to be a problem), a couple of packs of telegraph poles (British type rather than German, unfortunately, but still gives that “Modern” or at least “post-war”, effect) and, best of all, a packet of German language advertising posters! OK, I think most of these are probably late 70s, but still they scream Cold War Germany, and will really help to set the scene. I’ve also hit Google, and downloaded some suitable images to make my own large roadside advertising hoardings, just to make the point. All I needed now was some buildings to surround with these items (and some roads) and I was cooking with gas.

On the subject of roads, I’ve spotted some stuff in the Dapol range, which although intended as railway scenery, could be easily adapted to Autobahn use…

Anyway, the other week up at the club, I was discussing progress on the Cold War Project with fellow Roaring Northerners John and Dave, and bemoaning the lack of suitable housing stock for my doods to hide amongst/fight through/reduce to rubble. At this point John, who has spent a not inconsiderable part of his life in, around and on various British military establishments in Germany during the Cold War, suggested an RAF Germany airfield as a terrain theme. Brilliance! After all he pointed out, a lot of them were former WWII Luftwaffe or Wehrmacht bases, and much of any remaining 1940s structures were simply re-used, and many of the temporary structure such as Nissen huts put up by the new owners as temporary measures remained in use for much longer than intended, it would be easy to outfit some suitable buildings. Why had I not thought of this?! I’d made great plans for a Norwegian radar station, consisting of a lot of low concrete outcrops and air-con units and fencing (more on that later), and had even thought of a similar UK based set up, but the idea of doing an RAF base in Germany had never occurred to me!

So, that night, I set to work sourcing some appropriate bits and bobs, and have now taken delivery of these-

(And yes, I know they're not Nissen huts, but at 20mm, they're near as dammit, and they work out cheaper than the prebuilt Hornby actual Nissen Hut...) I can easily do sections of runway/taxi way and aprons out of black sandpaper the same way  I was intending doing roads, so that’s not a big problem, the only major head ache I can see is deciding what to sit on it! First choice was an English Electric Lightning, however, this is probably a bit anachronistic for the 80s, so I may have to go with a SEPECAT Jaguar; not as butch as a Lightning or a Blackburn Buccaneer, but definitely just as characterful, and much more compact than a Panavia Tornado or McDonell Douglas Phantom…

I also had a look at the Revell Hardened Aircraft Shelter, however, given that a) it only comes as part of a set with a Eurofighter Typhoon, and b) it's a helluva lot bigger than I thought, and doesn't look as good, I decided to shelve that idea for now.

All I need now is to find a recent version of the venerable Airfix Bloodhound set to really make the point, but thus far I’ve been unsuccessful; Kingkit have none, and even my local model shop, Jamieson’s (a veritable treasure trove of kits, from brand new releases to ancient things that are older than I am), and the only ones on eBay are original bagged examples from the 60s, going for silly money. However, Albanich is this weekend, so I’ll just have to keep my eyes peeled at the bring ‘n’ buys on Saturday, and at the other show, until one crops up! Until then, a couple of the Airfix/JB Bedford MK Refuellers should add sufficient flavour to proceedings…

So, plenty to be going on with, then.


Fox Nearing Completion

Progressing at my usual glacial speed with the Fox, however, it is now slowly getting there!

Optics finished, decals sourced and applied, and then glossed, awaiting an overall coat of matt.

Things then went slightly awry with the matt varnish, with a load of frosting appearing in the recesses; however, after an initial burst of cursing, swearing and general anger management issues, I did discover that scraping away the worst of the build up with a dental picker and then a liberal scrub with white spirit seemed to solve the more minor bits. The remaining large areas will just get a repaint and a much thinner (think drybrush) coat of varnish. Thankfully, these are confined to some of the tyre treads, under the wheelarches and in the jerry can stowage, so shouldn't take long to sort out...

All that remains after that will be to summon up the enthusiasm to get a base done...