Tuesday 30 August 2011

Dwarf Rocketeers

A bit of a change of pace but still sticking with an air theme(!) I painted up these two Dwarf Rockeeter conversions I made for Saul's WHFB Dwarf army yesterday. They have been sat undercoated on the workbench for almost a year now, but looking for something to polish off whilst still "in the zone" painting wise I decided their time had come.

In my formative years of fantasy gaming I was an Orc gamer but have over the last few years grown to appreciate the 'stunties'. That said, and whilst Saul's army is a WHFB one, I don't like the road GW have taken with their Dwarves, preferring a more Nordic/Tolkien feel. I especially don't hold with Dwarves, the archtypical conservative race, being so technologically innovative and one of my pet 'hates' is the Dwarf gyrocopter which not only is un-Dwarflike to my mind, but a crap model.

Consequently Saul's Dwarf army doesn't have any air assets, even though a gyrocopter is a useful asset for an army which is not exactly the most mobile. However a couple of years back I spotted some Dwarf Rocketeer conversions on the Bugman's Brewery forum and knew that not only were they pretty cool looking but would make a good proxy for the hated gyrocopter.

Unfortunately the current plastic Dwarf release, good though it is, is not suitable for converting into rocketeers, however it is relatively easy to get hold of the previous plastic set on eBay and even models already stuck together can be chopped and changed. The pièce de résistance is the simple use of the dragon's head standard as a rocket pack and as a nod to the Rocketeer film I used the winged helms for both dwarves (the idea being they change direction by moving their heads). I also added a stick of dynamite from the Miners box set to drop on the enemy!

Overall, whilst a tad comic, I am really please with how these have turned out and may do three or four more to form a small unit of Rocketeers for unofficial games at home. When acting as a proxy for the Gyrocopter (for games down the local GW) the idea is to place both models into a 40mm square sabot base which I hope to knock up when making some new movement trays for other miniatures.

Monday 29 August 2011

1a Squadriglia Caproni Ca. 3

I've been looking forward to cracking on with the Der Kampffliger Caproni ever since it arrived as it is a fantastic model and the light weight resin makes it perfect for wargaming. Although it started operational use in 1915 the Ca. 3 model was utilised throughout the war so I was able to pick a 1918 machine with a late war disruptive camouflage rather than just paint a clear doped linen plane.

The model doesn't come with a crew so I added a front gunner and two pilots from Reviresco. I wasn't going to add the precariously placed rear gunner cage (right above the rear pusher engine!) but had a eureka moment and scratch built one by using a Reviresco pilot's legs, the top half of a gunner and some odd bits of wire and am pleased with how it turned out (the model was 95% painted before I decided to add him!).

The plane (pictured below) is that of Capitano Guido Tarmelli and belonged to 1a Squadriglia based at San Pelgaio in 1918. It should have some more detail such as the motto Audaces fortuna iuvat on the nose but my hands and eyes aren't that good anymore!

To give you an idea of size of the model, here it is with one of the 91a Squadriglia's SPAD's (it is worth noting the resin Caproni is a lighter model than the metal SPAD which is a godsend for a model this size). 

Overall I am really pleased with the Caproni and although I only intended this to be a one off I may get a couple more for some Italian front bombing scenarios...

Sunday 28 August 2011

91a Squadriglia SPAD VII's

A bit of concerted effort yesterday saw me polish off the two Italian SPAD VII's from Skytrex yesterday. I had intended to paint them up as French machines but reading The White War I felt that the Italians deserving of recognition (and my Nieuport 28's will definitely be French - with one flown by an American!). Both machines are from the 91a Squadriglia, the two tone colour scheme being down to the difference between the canvas clear doped linen look (GW Bleached Bone) and the painted metal cowling (GW Iyanden Darksun). The contrast may be a bit too much but I like it. Decals are from the ever reliable Dom's Decals.

The plane with the crescent moon painted on the fuselage is that of Tenente Giorgio Pessi who had six victories.

The SPAD with the skull painted over the fuselage roundel is that of Capitano Fulco Ruffo di Calabria who netted an impressive twenty victories during the war.

Onto the Caproni next, though British reinforcements in the form of two Der Kampflieger Airco DH5's and two Sopwith Pups have now turned up... :-)

Saturday 27 August 2011

1ère Escadrille de Chasse Sopwith Camel

This Skytrex Camel has been sat folornly on the workbench for a few months now, the pan having been to paint it up as a Polish plane for the Russo-Polish War however having acquired some Belgian roundels that came with a 1/144th Hurricane I came across a reasonably colourful scheme for a Belgian Camel at WWI Aviation.com. The illustration doesn't state which squadron the Camel is in but as I beleive the Belgians only had one squadron operating Camels in 1917 I'm assuming it is the 1ère Escadrille de Chasse.

Whilst it looks a bit rougher in the photos than it is as the pictures are about twice the size of the actual mode and I am quite pleased with the finished model. I'm actually on a little bit of a roll plane painting wise and should have the Italian SPAD's finished later today...

Monday 22 August 2011

Busy Achieving Nothing...

Chatting with Dave Manley the other day we both concluded we were full of good intentions hobby wise but in danger of achieving nothing, just aimlessly going round in circles! Since I painted the Liberator I've gone completely off focus. I had hoped to get to the VSF get together at Rochford Hall but real world circumstances dictated against it, however on the plus side I have started painting my Shapeways' Caproni and a couple of Skytrex SPAD's for the 91a Squadriglia.

Coincidentally I am also reading Mark Thompson's The White War, a history of the Italian Front in the Great War. I must confess that it is hard going, not because of Thompson's style, but the sheer level of suffering the Italian army suffered largely due to the incompetence and lack of consideration by Cardonna commanding them. Whilst the Western Front is horrific almost beyond comprehension, the Italian Front is unbelievably worse. Combine the horror of the Somme with attacking up 40 degree terrain and a commander who believes that suffering more casualties is good for the army (and re-introduces decimation as a means of maintaining control) and you get some idea of the cruelty suffered by the Italian soldier. That the collapse at Caporetto didn't happen two years earlier is testament to the courage exhibited by the troops in the most cruel and horrific of circumstances. Not light reading but highly recommended.

Sticking with the Great War, my desire to get on with some gaming using the Warhammer Historical rules was further reinforced with this excellent French Army project on an Australian wargames forum. Again it made me feel ashamed at my figure output of late!

Then of course today something else comes along in the form of a ridiculously huge box from Shapeways containing another Liberator and two Pursuit ships. Taking a quick coffee break from the day job I decided to see how easy it was to convert the printed resin... Really easy is the answer, so I now have three new classes of vessel that I hope to get painted this week - after the WWI planes!!!

Sunday 14 August 2011

Agincourt And Crecy

I was chatting to a friend about my summer holiday and he said, when talking about Agincourt (or Azincourt as the French and Bernard Cornwell spell it), something along the lines of "I don't suppose the French make much of a fuss about that". Actually this could not be further from the truth and in fact the French could probably teach us a thing or two about promoting our battlefield history.

We visited both the sites of Agincourt and Crecy on our holiday. There is not a great deal at Crecy, but to my mind it is the minimum standard we should be trying for here in Britain.

Along with quite a prominent sign, there is a small car park and wooden tower which you can climb to look over the battlefield which has a painted board inside matching the view but showing the distribution of the English and French forces and a dual language board with the background and outcome of the battle on. We probably only spent ten to fifteen minutes there but it was good to see history being remembered, even in this small way.

Contrary to Anglophile expectations the French do make a big fuss about Agincourt (even if only to get a few Euro off English tourists!). There is a really good visitors centre/museum in the lovely village of Azincourt which is highly recommended and clearly a lot of thought went into (I really liked the bow shaped display stands).

They also provide you with a map of the battlefield to either walk or drive around (given the weather we drove). There is a well tended memorial with dual language description and a useful stone table showing the distribution of the forces on the day of the battle. Also around the battlefield are lifesize painted wooden cut outs of archers and knights which add a certain je ne sais quoi but are quite effective.

Unfortunately we missed the annual re-enactment event by a week but apparently 2015 is the year to visit as the re-enactors plan some impressive events including an arrow storm volley and having 300 knights walking into a rain of English arrows. Not one to miss I think.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Bush Warfare: Free eBook

I thought I'd share some news from the ColonialWars Yahoo Group that the Canadian Department of Defence has republished Bush Warfare written in 1907 by General Sir William Heneker as a free ebook which you can download their website.

Heneker served in West Africa at the end of the nineteenth century and having skimmed through the book this morning it looks like it could be a very useful resource for anyone interested in colonial warfare...

Wednesday 10 August 2011

(Blake's 7) Deep Space Vehicle 2 (The Liberator)

I managed to grab a little bit of free time to finish off the next vessel in my Blake's 7 mini-project, the iconic Liberator (or System Deep Space Vehicle 2 if we want to give it its correct designation). Another 3D printed model from Admiral Duck Sauce at Shapeways I'm really pleased with the end result (even trying to paint some of the alien markings on the ship).

A number of gamers seem to be having problems with the material the models are printed in, stating that it absorbs paint like a sponge. However, I've not experienced this having given the models a good undercoat with GW Skull White spray (and I do this on all planes and spaceships so I'm not doing anything different).

I only mention this in case you are put off by some of the bad feedback which would be a shame as there are some really very interesting models at Shapeways including some fantastic spaceships with designs that could not be cast in one piece using normally production methods and would be too fragile/heavy as multi-part kits.

Other projects are currently stalled but I did buy some much needed paint yesterday for my Athenians so there might be some Ancient Greeks soon (the article in the current WI on Sven Forkbeard's army is making me feel very ashamed at my pathetic figure output over the last few months).

Friday 5 August 2011

The Tuskegee Airmen

As part of the day job involves equalities issues I always find it of interest to read about the sacrifices of minorities in World Wars One and Two. Many, such as the Annamite Tirailleurs at Verdun, are not well known, while others such as the 332nd Fighter Group, the Tuskegee Airmen, are better known (at least to those that study history).

Whatever, it is interesting to see Lucasfilm will be releasing a film about the 332nd next year entitled Red Tails which looks pretty good and hopefully will encourage more study of the sacrifices of all those, regardless or colour or creed, who fought against Nazism.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

(Blake's 7) System Chase Craft

Rather than start with the iconic Liberator I painted up the two System Chase Craft I purchased from Admiral Duck Sauce at Shapeways (sold as Alien Pursuit Ship 48mm). Being ships from the same alien race as the Liberator, the Chase Craft design share a similar look although they only have the central hull and a red propulsion globe rather than the Liberator's green. The models are not 100% accurate (as the screengrab from the second series episode Redemption below shows) but they are nicely done and paint up well enough.

I am tempted to get a couple more to convert and maybe one of the larger 95mm models to use as a larger class vessel.

Onto the Liberator next...