Saturday, November 18, 2017

Up and Away

This is the first of a short series of photos I intend doctoring care of Photoshop. My Airfix 1/72nd scale Heinkel III P2 is seen flying out over the sea - released into the wide blue yonder. This manipulation was the simplest effort and no doubt clumsy to the trained eye. I merely painted out the wire rod holding it up, matching the changing layers against the sea and sky then cropped the result. I was holding it against the skyline so the light is completely correct - this wasn't transposed onto a different background.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Heinkel III HE-20 Airfix: Part 2

Well I've stated previously that I'm a wargamer, not a modeller but I do have one foot in that pond and I confess to trying to get in deeper. I've really enjoyed assembling this model and trying to improve on my techniques and results.
I've developed my spinning props further by washing sections in black to imitate the optical blur and outline the arcs. Prior to painting them I cut them from the clear sheets by repeatedly turning my dividers - scratching through the sheets. Prior to the final 'cut' I repeatedly score the surface with the dividers, applying a half turn after each full circle so reducing the circumference and scoring ever decreasing circles toward the centre. At the end, it resembles a clear vinyl record - a wee one. The prop discs are tightly fitted but not glued or otherwise fixed and they seem to be well on thanks to the gloss coated spinners.
There's not much panel work to pin-wash but it has been done to raise the definition. The paintwork was brushed on (two coats) and then matt coated after applying the decals which were also set with Micro Sol softener. After that the lightest dry brush of light grey was dusted on the upper surfaces to catch raised panel lines and rivets and dark grey was applied to the under-surfaces. Exhaust staining was applied either side of the engines sweeping back across the underside of the wings.
I purchased the He 111 P-1 to P6 set from Print Scale - I think they are Russian based. A superb product and well worth the investment as they provide sufficient decals to do more than one model - they will no doubt come in handy one day. The decals depict an HE 111 P-4 8/KG 55 out of Villacoublay (France) in April 1941. 
Technically I should have opted for an earlier unit which the decal set does provide for (several in fact) but I wanted them to match the red spinners and I liked the heraldic shields.
On my next visit home I have a mind to scoop up the DFS230 gliders and my JU52 models and do the lot as I enjoyed this build so much. It's disgraceful how many unpainted figures and unbuilt models I have in my shed.
I'm going to muck about with Photoshop with this model and post the results in the near future.In the meantime these shots are in my yard due to an overcast sky and poor light.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

PROJECT QUEBEC: 3/60th Foot - Part 2

My army of Wolfe crawls one half-step closer toward completion with the painting stage completed for my rendition of the 3/60th foot. This task got stalled with a two week visit home to Australia.

At 51 figures this is the third largest unit in my growing army and I have now well and truly broken the back of the project - figure wise. They are mainly Redoubt Miniatures castings with a handful of Blue Moon (four). The Blue Moon sculpts are more accurate than the generic Seven Years War Redoubt Miniatures figures in that Redoubt details lace which the 60th didn't have ... for the rank and file anyway.
I've commented about the grenadier caps before with the Redoubt figures. I had to paint the cap design across the detail of whatever regiment the actual figures are trying to represent. This was not an issue for the Blue Moon figures who I think are supposed to be the 60th. If I had thought about it before hand I'd have filed back the caps smooth before undercoating. 
In the middle of painting these scoundrels, I leapt at an offer from North Star and bought two regiments worth of French Crusader figures along with the entire selection of their woodland Indians. I have determined to field both sides now so I can get some games in sooner rather than later - albeit not that soon. It'll be nice to paint something different.
They are based in platoon firing mode. Maddeningly, I have neglected to bring across the material I normally make the flags with so I now have to search Tonga for a substitute. Mid-way through this lot I sourced finials from Crusader which I had also run out of. I scooped them up on my home visit as there's no use trying to get stuff sent to Tonga.

I am representing the drums unadorned this time. Whilst the drummers themselves paint up reasonably, they are a brutish figure and easily the worst in the range. Anyway, one last shot of the grenadiers before I sign off. The Blue Moon sculpts are in the front rank. I just love the grenadier caps of this period the best.
A quick review of my completed units thus far are:
3/60th foot
48th foot
28th foot
78th foot (highlanders)
Louisberg Greganiers
Dalling's Light Infantry
A battery of two light guns
Which brings me up to 230 infantry figures and two crewed guns out of a total of 422.  

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Heinkell HE III H-20 Airfix: Pt 1

Bought long ago, I've gotten around to expanding my 1940 German Blitzkrieg air-support for Rapid Fire wargaming. I'm enjoying this immensely as it's been a while since I've built my last WWII aircraft model which I think was my Messerschmidt 109. Getting right in the mood, I've been listening to the Battle of Britain soundtrack and watching several Luftwaffe documentaries as I've cut, glued and sanded my hours away.
The ever-faithful Airfix company to the rescue, this model comes with one significant shortcoming. It has no tail swastika decals which is maddening. I suspect the production was due to some philosophical and political objections because I can find no images of a Heinkel III without them. So, I've had to source additional decal sets - thanks for nothing!
Anyway, I think I've stated before that whilst my skills and attention to details have intensified over the years, I am still a wargamer - not a modeller. There are opportunities to fill and sand sections of this kit but I'm not going further than sanding and trying to fit the parts as closely as possible. If there are gaps (and there are) so be it. I will be painting this in the early war camouflage which means I don't need to use an airbrush. Just as well as I have neither the brush nor the skills to use one and I just don't model often enough to be bothered to learn how.
By the same token, I am not painting the crew to normal table-top standards as they will be obscured by the crystal sections. I'm painting the cabin very basically for the same reasons. I am replacing the prop blades with grooved and clear plastic discs to simulate turning props. I'm also going to experiment by washing them with thinned grey and even cut-outs to see if I can't capture that full revving look.
The model could have done with a different bomb load for my purposes. I'm no expert but it looks to be rigged for the Blitz to me. Anyway, back to the Quebec figures. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Project QUEBEC: 3/60th Foot - Part 1

I think it was Mark Twain who said if your job is to eat two frogs then you should eat the largest one first. He was of course referring to getting onerous tasks out of the way and in part this is the philosophy I apply to my Quebec battle project inasmuch as I have concentrated largely on the biggest units first. Just as well considering I haven't lifted a finger for this undertaking in a few years. Well I'm back to it and this next lot will be the next biggest unit in Wolfe's army - the 3/60th foot.

The 60th Foot or Royal American Regiment was originally designated the 62nd Foot to be raised under warrant of the crown in December 1755. By July 1756 one battalion had been raised and the whole regiment would achieve a strength of four battalions.

A few peculiarities mark the creation of the 60th foot. It was designed to be four battalions strong and a foreign or largely Germanic unit taken from German subjects from the European continent, settled 'Germans' in the Americas and Swiss. This was not a completely popular idea, politically. Typical of the times, entry was restricted to protestants. In fact, a good many (over half) of the rank and file were Irishmen and other British recruits by design. American and European responses did not meet recruitment expectations in spite of land grants (presumably in America) so the regiment was more British than was originally anticipated. Enlistment into the regiment was for a three year term and limited to service in America.

Headquartered in Philadelphia with the training camp in Pennsylvania moving also to Philadelphia by the time the 3rd battalion was raised and ready for training.

Whilst not specifically 'light troops' the 1st and 2nd battalions appear to have been raised and trained as line troops capable of 'forest fighting'. Light troops at this time were not battalion sized units capable of fighting in linear formations in the open ground continental warfare. No such distinction is mentioned for the 3rd battalion but it may be assumed that it was similarly capable given it's sister battalions and assignment on the Plains of Abraham. This capability appears to centre around the training of their light company to flank, scout and skirmish and the general manner in which the battalions operated in the wilderness and negotiated forest territory on the march. In essence, the 60th regiment seem most likely to have been what became termed 'light battalions' by the later Napoleonic wars.

Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Young, the 3/60th first saw action in 1757 and was divided between garrisoning forts Edward and William-Henry during the famous siege, surrender and subsequent Indian attacks and 'massacre' across which it maintained order, fighting efficiency and sustained 80 casualties. It was reinforced to a strength of 986 all ranks. It spent the rest of 1757-8 training in Halifax.

Under Young the 3rd battalion departed Boston on 23 April 1758. Along with it's sister battalion, the 2/60th the 3rd battalion saw action at the assault on Louisburg where the 3/60th lost 17 men killed and 43 wounded for its first battle honour.

Later departing for the invasion at Quebec, elements from either or both battalions were deployed at the action at Montmorency Falls the following year just prior to being involved in the abortive action at Beauport.

At Montmorency Falls the regiment earnt the sobriquet Celer et Audex (Swift and Bold) - the regimental motto. They lost over 100 men in an ill co-ordinated action which Wolfe blamed on the grenadiers whilst praising the 60th who conducted an orderly fighting retreat under orders.

At the Plains of Abraham, therefore, the 3/60th battalion was a proven, experienced body of steady, reliable troops capable of engaging in both types of warfare characteristic of the North American theater of operations. It remained part of Murray's brigade but there are divergent accounts of it's positioning at the commencement of battle. It may have been in position on the oblique left flank to enagage the skirmishers delivering flanking fire before deploying later in the action to block Bougainville's reinforcements to the rear. Alternatively, it may have guarded the boats and the top of the escarpment and protected the rear. Perhaps elements of the battalion covered both but all agree they ended up to the rear to repel Bougainville.

Due to the role of the 3/60th at the Plains of Abraham, I am depicting this battalion in platoon firing mode as if they are exchanging fire with the Canadian skirmishers at the start of hostilities. This unit is 51 figures strong made up mainly of Redoubt and some Blue Moon figures (one line officer, a casualty and two grenadiers firing).

As my 3/60th foot are newly raised and thus have not campaigned in the wilderness. Consequently, they will not be in improvised campaign dress as sometimes depicted for the 1&2/60th but will retain their line infantry appearance with full tricorne headwear and regulation equipment. The only sense of relief I have about this particular unit is that the 60th Royal Americans wore plain coasts without lace - well the rank and file at least.

There wasn't much preparation involved with the Redoubt figures but I do prefer to cut down the sergeants' halberds and replace the malleable white metal shafts with steel cut wire. It's a bit of fiddling about but I wont have to worry about then being straight in future. You need to drill out their hands (similar to Old Glory castings) and drill out a receiving hole at the base if you want to vary the positions from the preset holes. I have allocated three sergeants to this mob - one grenadier and two line.
I had too few standing officer poses and an extra sergeant or two so I've promoted one of them. He can either represent a literally field promoted sergeant or an officer who has misplaced his sash and gorget on the climb up from the landing earlier that day. If that sounds a bit self serving and lazy of me for not green-stuffing both then so be it. I can't recall where I got the sword from but it might be from a Front Rank set. Of course it's not just a matter of fixing his hand with a sword. Remember to cut away the hilt from his casting also.
I thought to mix in a few Blue Moon figures including two shooting grenadiers which I love. I do love the Redoubt line infantry figures for their rank and file above all but their grenadiers can't match these blokes. BUT, as the Blue Moon figures come in a curious collection as a job-lot I'm just scattering them through my army to add some colour. I have removed the bayonet to match the Redoubt sculpts. They have very little flash or mold lines.
Well, I had better get undercoating and on with it. See you on the other side.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

No More Nassauers

Front Rank Drummer
Well, no more for quite some time I imagine. I have just finished painting my second Nassau regiment for my Waterloo Papelotte project and the first unit since taking up my Tonga posting two months ago. I can't base them as yet but wanted to share what I've done with this lot. The above shot was taken outdoors with the brightness bumped a little in Photoshop. This unit has two drummers - the gent pictured above and the following from Elite Miniatures.
I still absolutely love Elite Miniatures for Napoleonics although I'm not so enamoured of their cavalry as a rule.  I think it has a lot to do with the balance they achieve with simplicity of the sculpt - those compromises in what details they keep in and leave out. It is especially appealing to me when I'm painting two 48 figure battalions because by comparison, the Front Rank members of this unit are just hard work. I also favour their lean proportions.

I decided to differentiate this battalion (2/2nd) from the other Nassauers by giving them French backpacks complete with the more usual white straps rather than the ubiquitous tan coloured webbing of the Nassau regiments. I can't base them as yet because my band-saw blade snapped and the replacement part took ages and missed my departure for the Pacific. I'll take these boys home on my next trip back and sort them out then. I have to say I am a huge convert to the Vallejo metals. In most other respects I'm still wedded to Humbrol enamels but their brass just fails to keep that lovin' feeling.
I am digging the Elite mounted colonel. I know he's loopy looking but there's nothing wrong with a little eccentricity on the table-top. It was nice to have a bicorne in among all those later Napoleonic shakos. If I look back to my 3/2 Nassauers, I seem to have changed which is the first company or the colour company and this time I've got it with the mob in yellow pom-poms. Go figure.
For my last posting I didn't pay any attention to my grenadiers, so here's three of the eight in the two poses Elite Miniatures makes them in. You can also see more clearly how I've mixed the shades of greens between coats, trousers and across the soldiers themselves. Only after I've completed the bases will I add some mud and dust but I think they already look both drab and colourful at the same time - that sounds mad, oui?
This officer is altered from his true form. He comes as an ensign with his now extended left arm drawn across the body holding the flag pole. I cut of the gimbal from the cross belt and folded in all but his index fingers to make him point to the enemy. Nothing better than a variety of officers for my companies and this unit has seven including the ensign. I also altered his partner as I had two spare ensigns from my Elite Miniatures collection. 
I've given my light company an officer this time although he really just an ordinary officer with his pompom appropriately green and yellow - or is that yellow and green? I can never tell. I think I made this up later on as otherwise I should have thought to buy an extra light company miniature and transplant his plume. Ah, well ... who will care? Anyway, I'm now deciding what next to work on from what I chose to bring out with me. I haven't done anything toward my Quebec project in a very long time so it might be red coats for a change.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Thoughts, not eye-candy

I don't know how many of you let your minds wander across possible armies and periods for future wargaming ... I'm forever at it. In fact, I can't help myself. Listening to Dan Carin's Hardcore Histories and his discussion of the Assyrian empire is rekindling my interest in a middle Assyrian army which is laying barely suppressed under the surface. I'm suppressing it because I have too many other projects I want to see finished (one day) without diversifying my efforts any further.
When I imagine a future army in a new period I often imagine both sides - I'm very much getting into covering both sides these days. If I start small with the right ratio for an historically balance force, I can bounce from one opponent to the other to get some games up sooner rather than later. Historical civil wars can make this easier for some theatres  more so than others.
Becoming more important for me is how my future armies will look. I have reached a point that perfectly aligned ranks of identically posed figures couldn't appeal less and I try to model my units to look like miniature humans behaving like humans. The more irregular the historical units origins are the more shambolic I want them to look.
I now base all of my dedicated skirmishers on round bases irrespective of period or rules. The more I do this, the more I like it. I'm now thinking that all irregular troops fighting in lose formation will be similarly based.
The mathematics of wargaming has compelled us in the past to worry about frontage, figure contact, depth and count rows of figures even. Figure removal compounds the on-table mathematics and has unwittingly driven us toward regular, rectangular basing with rows of miniatures, clearly segregated and counted.
Even in attempting to randomly pose or break up the uniformity of irregular toy soldiers on rectangular bases, at any observable distance, these irregular units are barely distinguishable from their regular counterparts. My Celts are still 'squaring off' against their Imperial Roman adversaries on my table-top.
Whilst it will require some alternative application of the rules I love and refuse to give up, I believe the time has come to re-base such units as my warbands to less regular bases. I am thinking oblongs - perhaps, on a vertical or horizontal axis (perhaps both) will achieve a more fluid human tide. Consider a sixty figure warband in a series of oblong bases with ten to twelve figures apiece. Clumped together they would provide a visual depiction more representative of an unformed hoard than a series of neatly fitted rectangles making one larger rectangle.
I am a devoted WAB player which relies on ranks and figure calculations for unit strength, melee determinations etc. The rules provide for up to four ranks in terms of their effect. If the centre of the oblong were the equivalent width of a calculable rectangular equivalent (figures x 20mm normally) but of a less measurable depth, figures on an irregular oblong or even less consistent shape could still be calculated by the number of figures times the depth of the base at it's widest part.
For example, an oblong narrow at the front say to a width of one figure has a width toward its centre of three figures. If that base has twelve figures fixed to the one large base, then that element can represent the rectangular equivalent of an element 3 figures wide and four deep. The base still provides the calculation but the remaining dimensions of the bases and the figures on it can be as random as I like.
Massed next to other similar bases or bases as easily calculable (say four figures with sixteen figures = 4x4 for a larger variant or two figures wide with eight figures = 2x4) I can still calculate the strength from the table-top whilst enhancing my visual effect.
Provided one of the base dimensions (either width or depth) allows a comparable rectangular assessment, the bases can be as long, wide and irregular as I like ... I think. I will commence experimenting. The pattern of figure placement will be totally irrelevant.
It also lends itself to a couple of my developing preferences - almost prejudices. I have utterly abandoned the idea of single figure basing of casualty removal for all periods other than WWII. I also personally dislike movement trays on a table-top. I find them extremely unappealing. I think a unit should look like what it is - unformed should look unformed. A warband should look like a warband. I say 'should' - this only applies to my personal preferences for my collection and wouldn't dream of judging the preferences of anyone else. I see that single figure, circular basing inset on a larger base where the figures can form units or skirmish individually is extremely popular at present. It's not to my visual taste. I'm fussy like that. I also don't like my figures too spaced apart - mine look crowded compared to a lot of other people's collections. My troops look like a crowd, crushing and crashing over each other I suppose - but it's what I like.
I've clearly got too much time on my hands to be over-thinking this. Just as well I have a hobby to soak up all this spare time.