Saturday, 9 December 2017

Jacob Devers' tank, the M26 Pershing

In 15mm, of course...

In 1943 General Jacob Devers, then head of the Armored Command, took a strong interest in developing a new heavy tank to dela with the German Tiger tanks, recently encountered in Tunisia. In response ot his request the Army Ordnance Department start design work on several new projects including the T-23 with electricla transmission (a pet peeve of Ordnance) and the T-26 with a 90mm gun. These programs faced severla issues, from the simple fact the T23 and its transmission was not working to resistance from several officers led my the all powerful chief of Army Ground forces, General Leslie McNair, to the idea of a 90mm tank. Finally a new heavy tank the T26 (later standardized as M26) Pershing. If you want  a more detailed account go there:

or even better grab a copy of Steve Zaloga's 'Armoured Thunderbolt' if you just want to look at the 15mm version...

scroll down!

 (reduced) Platoon shot. All three, BF plastic Pershings. They can be or a reduced strength platoon, or the heavy section of a full platoon.

 Platoon commander tank.

They are nice models, crisp as I got used with BF plastic. I have to say that while some people whines about the plastic move, I find the plastic model a massive improvements. The MG are much much better, and the parts fit better than the the older resin-metal combination. I have recently built two M51 Ishermans and they were a real pain. I will say plastic yes, but the resin/metal vehicles are a no go right now, especially if I can get them in plastic or from other manufacturers. For the quality provided the price is overblown. While the plastic are still more expensive than PSC, at least they are overall cheaper than the metals and the quality is usually much better.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

United States reconiassance, Part 1

Well my US Army cavalry platoon (WW2) is done and pictures are being taken. Again they are not too crap...

Three jeeps, Battlefront Models, they are their winter Jeeps. The Road is paper, despite what some people says I think that paper terrain is very effective for relatively flat features like roads. I did not like those on a huge plinth that sometime appears on blogs or fora, especially if they have just the the road surface and nothing else.

Something... unplanned!

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen,

again some update from the Forward HQ. First something that I was not even supposed to do. I had some old QRF M48 tanks painted (twice I am afraid...) at least a decade ago sitting around and unused. I was thinking to get rid of them via gift or donation or even LAF forum sales...  then I got struck by the idea to try to do something new. I had some stuff that could be thrown together in a small Jordanian force (I hate when people says 'army') for 1967 and 73 and decided to give it a try.

For once the pictures are even good! I know the model itself is not perfect, but it looks the part and the new camo works, at least for me, quite well. It has now been joined by two other friends (making an M48 tank platoon and an armoured infantry platoon for the 70s (with US helmets and M16, themselves recycled PP Vietnam US Infantry).

Saturday, 11 November 2017

US Army reinforced platoon

Another long absence from the net… or at least my blog. And in the interval, I have slaved myself painting… and taking my usual bad pictures (almost crappy I would say, I need to improve, not even a good camera will save me).

But let’s post something just to keep my projects moving.  28mm today, and… I completed a project. US Army late 1944 early 1945. It is done. No more stuff to paint at home! Yes it sounds incredible (and I am thinking maybe I can buy something new, obviously…). But everything I bought is not built and painted.

It is the result of several years of works, in two countries! It is also a combination of different manufacturers. The first figures are original Bolt Action bought straight from Paul Hicks in person, at more than 10 years ago...  supplemented by Artizan Designs, Empress (sculpted again by the talented Paul Hicks), and some more recent BA miniatures from Warlord (the 57mm ATG). Vehicles are Hobby Boss, original Bolt Action, current Bolt Action and Rubicon. Some of them have already appeared in the blog but lets go to see the details.

The core of the Force is a full strength infantry platoon, with Platoon Command, 3 squads, and some supports.

Platoon Command with Bazooka team.

The Infantry Squads, you can see different style of basing. In the past, before having access to plastic and MDF round bases I was doing square bases b myself with 2mm plasticard and then magnetizing them. I decided to do the whole force in this style.

Again the infantry
Static antitank support in the form of a Warlord 57mm ATG (US license built british 6pdr). The crew is in winter uniform. The sculpts are not exceptional, but they work.

The platoon is also suppoerted by a MMG squad (yes the .30 cal was designated LMG but it was in the weight class of MMG and it was belt fed).

You can also see the leftover after years of cllecting... start of a 2nd platoon? arrrghhh....

you can also see General Patton (original BA) inspecting the platoon while standing in a M3A1 HT and an additional Bazooka team and a sniper team.

Then we move to the 'heavy metal'

Two Hobby Boss Shermans (M4A3 with 75mm and 76mm, both 1/48 plastic), a Rubicon M4A3E8 (1/56) a Rubicon M36, an M8  Greyhound Armoured Car, and M8 Scott HMC  and a M5A1 Stuart.  The Scott would really befit from having crew, like the M36 Jackson.  Now some comments on mixing scales. I do not think it is a problem, usually, but sometime can be. The eagle eyes will see the difference between the M4A3(76)W and the M4A3E8 very quickly.  The M8 Kit could have been built as an M-20 or an M-8. I have seen people on other blog trying to make both version at once. considering the excellent Rubicon model has different interior for the two versions (as in reality), the 'plug in' idea is frankly rubbish. 

BA (original)  M3A1 Halftrack, Resin 1/56, preceding two Warlord Plastic Tank Destroyer, the M10 and the M18 (both Italeri products, both bough in UK... considering Calderara is not too far from my Italian Home...). I have no preference between the Italeri/WG and the Rubicon kits. Both now are extremely good. Sometime one is better than the other as in the case of the M8, the Rubicon Greyhound is much better. I really enjoy building them. A big advantage off the Italeri TD is the fact that thye have crew included.

Oh well end of post! I hope you like it.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Samokhodnaya Ustanovka

And I am back! Not that people missed me so much (maybe), but maybe you missed my 15mm and 28mm tanks… so here we are… this time we are talking late war Soviet Union (i.e. 1944-45), with some self propelled guns and tank destroyers.

First of all a trio of Zvezda ISU-152. I needed some big HE stuff just in case my soviet troops encountered pillboxes (and whatnot, maybe even tanks…). They are plastic, they are cheap, and you could build them either as ISU-122 or ISU-152. I think I will grab another trio soonish to have the 122 mm guns, just in case.

Now I like them but there are some caveats. The sides are quite flat compared to their direct competitors (Battlefront), this is due to the different moulding process and sprue configuration. On the other hand because the rear plat of the casemate is a separate piece it does have good detail. The really weak point are the tracks, not so much the wheels (quite nice) but the tracks themselves. They are just softly sculpted with a generic ‘impressionistic’ representation. They also miss commander and hmg.  Said that they cost much less. Said that the vehicle is also well represented. It is up to you. I am happy with 3£ per tank.

Now let’s stay in the land of Comrade Josif for the ISU’s (Iosif Stalin Samokhodnaya Ustanovka) little cousins, the SU (Samokhodnaya Ustanovka) -100/-85.  Why -100 or -85? Well because this trio is a mix of old and new. There is a new Zvezda SU-100, and two old, resin, BF Su-100 or Su-85M. I was 100% sure they were 100, but the gun is shorter, but this could be a product of old BF castings (ladies and gentlemen I bought these two before getting my MA… more than 10 years ago…). There are also small errors in the hatches on the casemate, and they look smallish as the BF model of the first generations (I think one of them was even a sandy coloured resin… not even a gray one!) but the round TC ‘sponson’ (It is not a cupola) gave them as Su-100 hulls, so they could be -100 or -85M.

I like the Zvezda much more. One particular thing is that the casemate plates were separate pieces so they have more detail. If you want to read more on the whys of this, there was an article on the Flame of War website months ago on the problems linked to plastic injection and the loss of detail on the sides, but it boils down to the fact that for plastic injection you use a hard two pieces mould. Being hard it means you cannot have detail in area that you cannot remove (or you get a fancy slide mould…).

Okay for today this is all. Enjoy the terrible rattling of the steel tracks of the proletariat!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Zvezda King Tiger

Okay, I was hiding again... despite constantly painting (painting tanks is a good way to fight back job induced stress... much better than going postal! And you can always dream to run over those pesky individual that pretend to be colleagues with a tank...). Painting tanks is also better than binge miniature shopping, at least as long you have plenty of reserves...

now talking of tanks... last time I hopped in the far north at Partizan I grabbed some cheap (3£) Zvezda King tigers... you know those 'snap together' kits. Well after few minutes of snapping together:

I think, in my not so humble opinion, this is a good representation of the beast. Detail is not just quite good, it is excellent. Yes the cover over the gunner vision block is a bit too big and solid, but it is an acceptable compromise.  I got two of them (and then procured another two later one, after I decided they were good and I wanted a full platoon... yes something about binge tank shopping...). 

Then of course black primer and vallejo colours in hand I started to leave my own mark on the beast...

I opted for a late war plain three tone camouflage. Nothing too complicated. I think the result is quite good... but of course will I post pictures of a tank I am not satisfied with? Oh, by the way the main gun elevates and the turret rotates... quite a clever kit!

Monday, 29 May 2017

going to Burma, part 1...

Well 28mm and World War Two seems to be the gut du jour at the Forward HQ. At Salute I got a small squad box of Warlord Games Merrill Marauders

Image result for warlord games merrill's marauders

They are metal figures with separate heads. I will be straight forward, I do not like separate head too much, especially in metal. They are a pain in the literal ass... but in this the case the heads were reasonably well fitting and thy certainly add variation and customization to the figures.  Sculpting was nice, I am on the camp who likes Warlord sculpts and does not find them  bad as some people say. Again I will be blunt as my usual and I will say that the usual criticism is unwarranted.  Introduction and sterile polemics aside here is the result...

The Marauder, the 5037th Composite Unit, or Galahad Force, were an US offshoot of  Orde Wingate first Chindit foray. Ignoring the shortcoming of the whole concept the US military seized on the idea of a deep attack force of highly trained infantry supported by the air to spearhead General Stillwell's reopening of the Burma road.  The Galahad force, composed of skilled combat veterans, some coming from the Americal and 25th Division and their ordeal on Guadalcanal, undergone special training in India and was employed as the tip of Stillwell's CAI (Chinese Army in India,  or X Force) assault toward the Chinese border across Northern Burma. It was under the command of the energetic, but frail, Brigadier General Frank Merrill. He led the unit with distinction but also suffered several heart attacks in the process. Even worse while the units was effective for a while the same shortcoming of the Chindits' concept emerged and in the end the unit self destructed due to illness, exhaustion and supply shortages. It was replaced by the Mars unit, similar in concept, with a core of retained troopers from the 5037th, but also used as a part of a more conventional supply system. Is also worth to note that while the 5037th got a lot of publicity during and after the war, the Chinese troops performed well, in the end winning their part of the campaign, but never receiving proper recognition, possibly because they were Nationalist Chinese...

If you want to see how this bias is enduring still, have a look at the historical introduction of the rules of the upcoming Nemesis game on the 1944 campaign in Burma, the KMT/GMD is the subject of baseless and gratuitous slander and Chiang is insulted with, again, no basis. I preordered the game and the game itself is excellent and gives a good treatment of the Chinese troops, but the designer's comments seem lifted straight from the weak work of Barbara Tuchman on Stillwell (an agiography of a man who had plenty of faults). Say what you want about Chiang, but saying he was not interested in fighting the Japanese is idiocy. Especially if at the same time you think Stilwell had not faults...

Anyway I will discuss the campaign in another occasion  today it is just a miniature parade, of something I bought and paint in around one month (!?!).

Not the best of picture, but you can see the variety of the figures. One of the peculiarity of the unit was the freedom of equipment. Thus more automatic weapons than usual US Army squads, but also more or less lack of standard equipment. Some soldiers wear cut down HBT, some full HBT with rolled sleeves, and some Indian manufactured wolly pully. Webbing is reduced to the essential, ammunition pouches and water bottles. Non essential equipment was supposed to be carried by mules.

Another particular of the unit was the abundance of floppy hats.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

More Armor...

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are still on a World War Two roll… actually I am just clearing a backlog of posts… but target for today is the Mighty Tiger! In this case a full plastic model from Warlord/Italeri that I bought at SELWG 2015 (!?!) with my friend Minkyeong. Painted the following Christmas holiday, captured in images… and then… well I was slow in updating the blog.

It is a good model, with zimmerit modelled on. The TC figure is quite nice in my opinion (I know warlord often get bad rep). Simple, clean, and fun build. The only ‘negative’ element was the gun. Well moulded but the joint is too loose. I had to glue it in position otherwise it was depressing too much giving the impression of a knocked out tank.

Tidbit: do you know why knocked out tanks have their guns depressed? Because their hydraulic fluid, the one used in the recoil system has burned or spilled, and there is not pressure to keep the equilibrators working, so the barrel, usually not fixed at its balance point, just drop off.

Anyway just enjoy another 1:56 model!

This time I have gone for a general wash after the basic camouflage colours had been applied, IMHO it worked, it was especially effective in the wheels and to define the zimmerit.

After the Tiger we have another group of tanks in 1:56 painted the same holiday. Japanese ones this time. Two of them are Warlord resin models and one is a Company B.

I had the Company B for years while the Warlords were bought in 2013. That holiday I finally received my Trenchworx Thanks in Manchuria models. I built them but I decided to start painting from the backlog first… and I also took the opportunity to retouch the older Ha-Go. Anyway the Type 97 ShinHoto is Warlord, as one of the Type 95.  I am again very satisfied of the work. I will say that the Warlord resin model were slightly better than the Company B (and yes I plan to procure one platoon box of the new plastic Chi-Ha too). Yet everyone painted well. I think I am more happy with the Warlord because I got better and the colours are also more accurate. 
Warlord Type 97 leading, Company B Type 95 in the middle.