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.

Saturday, 27 May 2017


No not William Tecumseh Sherman, just an M4A4  in 1/56 scale.

Model from Warlord, plastic. I am happy with plastic, probably because in the past I grown up building plastic kits. I do not miss resin or metal. Light, fun to build, easier to clean; cheaper. These are the reason why I love the plastic mania...

what we have today is a nice, medium size kit from Warlord Games. It is not one of their co-production with Italeri. It comes with some stowage and two tank commanders. It was easy to build, and also to paint. I did not use a general wash, only black-lining with ink. some of the decal were a bit damaged, but they look like battered and worn markings, not bad. The big start on the rear deck was a pain. I used the Vallejo softener, but it is not as good as Micro-Sol.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

some new additions...

Oh well,
Almost one year of absence from the blog… anyway it is time to start posting again. Exams are almost done, and summer is coming with a lot of other things… including warm weather so I can undercoat outside… how I miss home with the cellar where I can spray even in winter…
Anyway let’s see what I have photographed in the past few months…
Today we have 28mm, US military… vehicles… a Warlord/Italeri (do you know Calderara di Reno is not too far away from my home?) M-10 Tank destroyer. I would say it is a really good model, I really like the fact that crew was included, both US (you can see them in the picture) and UK (now sitting inside a Rubicon Achilles in my office…

The next 'treat'  is a Rubicon M5 Late. Again excellent kit. I have also an M8 Scott GMC, an M36 Tank Destroyer and an M8 Armoured Car built and painted, but I had forgot my camera when I was at home for Easter and worked on them… so no pictures!!!! I have also just built an M4A3E8 from Rubicon. I have to say that, overall, I am impressed with the current quality of the Rubicon kits. They started quite bad, I have their Panzer III (one of the first models) and I was not impressed. Then the M10/M36 kit was quite nice and the various iterations of the M5 hull persuaded me. The Sherman is impressive.  Right now I am quite happy with the direction they are heading, also the inclusion of some crew figures in the M4 was nice, even if they are just simple pop ups from the hatches… but let’s be frank. I know we fancy nice crewmen, but in action you just stick your head out, not the whole body. In the Rubicon forum someone boldly stated (I hate bold statements that encompass the whole world), that everyone will replace them with the US Tank crew Rubicon is supposed to release shortly, but I am quite happy with the current ones. It is a wargame tank, and it is supposed to be in action, not just guarding the corners of a square with a relaxing crew (yes, I am thinking of the panzer-idiot, the man that lost a tiger company at Villers Bocage… and it is always represented in 28mm happily sitting on his tank gun…). Anyway enjoy the pictures and do not bother too much about my ramblings…

One of the great things of Rubicon kits the the multitude of different options you can exploit; of course, in perfect modeler fashion, you need to select only one, but certainly there is a good range of possible version for each kit. Both vehicles are painted for North Western Europe 1944-45, my focus is the autumn-winter campaigns  in France, Belgium, and Germany.