Wednesday, January 14, 2015

It's a New Year....

So here's some new photos for everyone's amusement, a mix of work in progress and completed projects in need of some attention from my camera! 

So, we begin where we left off, with the 1/1000 scale Gamilas dreadnought model from Yamato 2199 produced by Bandai. The two-hex base is the result of my gluing the vertical post that came with the kit to a Litko Aerosystems acrylic two-hex movement base. The balance is perfect, and the presence of the model once it's done will be impressive to say the least. I have gotten the overall paint scheme to where I like it: 








The next step will be to add a few remaining detailing parts, some additional painted details, and decals to finish the ship with a suitable insignia and hull number. 

Moving along we next have a series of 15mm sci fi AFVs from Darkest Star Games. The first up is the Terran Scorpion 8x8 AFV. The kit comes with a selection of weapons and turret bustle options, a real boon to kitbashers such as myself for conversions and kitbashing projects alike:



These are part of a work in progress unit of mid-tech wheeled AFVs I've started using my existing accumulation of unfinished projects and resources. I have seven unbuilt Combat Wombat 8x8 AFVs, plus some assorted Matchbox 6x6 softskins and some 6x6 versions of the 4x4 VAB APCs I used in an earlier project (and chronicled on this very blog previously). I wanted to add a heavy anti-armor support asset to this mechanized light cavalry brigade, and Matchbox came to the rescue with their Real Working Rigs series Stryker, which with a little help from the left over bits from the Darkest Star Games Scorpions let me produce a suitably hefty beast to back up my Scorpions:




Next up are the Ventauran medium tank and APC, the meat 'n potatoes opponents of the Terran Federation forces produced by Darkest Star, along with the new Ventauran infantry figures produced by Darkest Star Games to accompany the vehicle ranges (the Terran Federation infantry have also just been released fairly recently, and they look da bomb!):





The posing and animation of the Ventaurans is dynamic to say the least. They come in a pack of eleven different poses, a mix of officer, NCO, two scoped heavy rifles, and the rest with assorted rifles or carbines. The AFVs come with two gun turret options apiece. Naturally, I used one turret and saved the others for kitbashing projects later on (and rest assured, I will post photos of those when the time comes!).

Finally, there's the end result of a bit of unscheduled dumpster diving on my part. One evening soon after Xmas I took the trash out to the bin and lo and behold there sitting atop the rubbish was a discarded, old, worn out smart phone protective cover and the plastic case that the new protective case had clearly come in. I was instantly inspired by the detailing of the protective case AND the container, and in less time than it takes to type these words, I was beelining back into my office, cackling maniacally all the way!

Here is the result of that chance encounter at the dumpster, a 28mm armored anti-grav APC with a definite Rogue Trader/2000 A.D. vibe that frankly all but built itself thanks to the shape and details of the original materials involved:






I'll be taking advantage of the rectangular opening in the top of the smartphone case to retrofit a vehicle commander figure and additional automatic weapon (like I didn't load this bugger down enough already!). Oh, and yes, the dozer bumper on the front of the machine is indeed the space bar from a broken keyboard!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Wrap-up and Various Starship Minis and Models!

So. It's been a year already?! Yow! Well, going onward into the New Year I'll be working my way through my accumulated hoard, and that includes continuing to recycle with an attitude as time and opportunities (and irresistible finds rescued from the recycle bins and dumpsters) permit!

This installment is focused on subjects nostalgic and near and dear to my cold, evil little heart! To begin with, the very first starship miniatures I ever owned -and this means circa 1975!- were the Stardate 3000 series produced by Valiant Enterprises. I first encountered them at San Antonio Hobby Shop so long ago, with no set of war-game rules for starship combat with miniatures then available that I knew of (or the shop carried!). But having already been bitten and hard by the sci-fi bug, I was taken with these intriguing models Terran and Alien, and bought several in the hopes that eventually a solution to the rules problem would present itself.

So long ago, and those ships that I lovingly spray painted in red (AGGGH!!), and they have been lost to the mists of time and multiple moves. But many years later I happened to rediscover Valiant Enterprises, and yes, they still had the moulds, and yes, they were going to put them back into production, so as soon as I had the money to spare, I treated myself to some of these classic models, and then of course, life got in the way of life, and they languished half finished buried in a box in storage until just last week I rediscovered the project, and having some small amount of spare time on my hands as I wait for my thesis committee to make up their minds about my mad ravings scrawled on a napkin that is my master's thesis, I made a point to finish them!

So, after too many decades and without further ado, here they are for your presentation, my Terran task group of Stardate 3000 ships for your consideration:



Working from the bottom photo, we have from left to right a pair of Draco class destroyers, an Atreides class armed merchant vessel, and an orion class heavy battlecruiser. I always liked the modular look of these models, as they echo the speculative designs of the Apollo days, with a good dose of Gerry Anderson and Space 1999 thrown in for good measure. 

This little group will have a batch of fighter craft added later, and is meant to represent a small task group with the Atreides "Liberty ship" carrying a planetary expeditionary force. The Dracos cover the Atreides, and the Orion brings the heavy firepower support. Bob's yer uncle, Charlie's yer aunt (and the planet is now ours)!

Moving along to what's gotten done of late, some months ago I got my hands on one of the Yamato 2199 Garmillas ship sets as a congratulatory present for completing my thesis (a gift from my Significantly Better Half in fact). These new kits are state-of-the-art tooling for injection moulded plastic models, and the crispness and precision of the tooling, the level of detailing all add up for some very beautiful models that are a pleasure to build. 

being ever the adaptive creature that I am, I instantly recognized the utility of the three starships contained in the set for use in Silent Death: The Next Millennium as escort class warships (aka., Warhounds). The two Garmillas destroyers were simply perfect as well, erm, destroyers, so I got to work and built them both as is, finishing them in a "generic" three color scheme I like to think of as a "nebula pattern camouflage." Oh, and yes, there are two (2) of 'em in the set, so this set is a real bargain, really given that the Yen is weak compared to the U.S. Dollar of late:


The two DDs are shown here with a trio of Kashmere Commonwealth Surya class fighters and a pair of Reviresco starships minis adapted as Black Widow stand-ins. The matching color theme was a happy accident, really, as the Suryas and the two Black Widow proxies were also some unfinished business I duly finished while I was at it, and I happened to use much the same colors and the same decals I had in the spares box to get the whole lot of 'em done in the same period of time.

Here's some more shots of the two DDs with the Kashmeri ships thrown in for a point of visual and size reference:






I plan to post stats and a ship display sheet for these Garmilas destroyers on the Metal Express page some time early in the New Year, and that will also include the classic Mecha Colle mini kit of the similar Garmilas heavy cruiser that is slightly smaller than this impressive beastie. 

Now, as if these aren't visually impressive enough, here's one of the original Space battleship Yamato kits, the Earth Defense Force Heavy Cruiser model that is currently less than $5.00 a pop plus shipping on HobbyLink Japan, a work in progress mounted on a Litko Aerosystems two hex flight stand with the Kashmeri fighters hanging around for a size reference:


The original radar array that sits on top of the bridge is annoyingly fragile, so breakage was all but inevitable, but I expect to find a suitable, more robust replacement in my spares supply. I'm finishing this impressive beauty and two sisters along a House Tokugawa theme for Silent Death, and plan to stat them out as 10,000 ton destroyers. I deliberately altered the original eight gun flak battery on the stern into two quad gun mounts dorsal and ventral covering the rear arcs of the vessel, as there are no eight gun weapon systems in Silent Death (and I prefer to have multiple multi-barreled cannons covering my six, thank you very much!).

Finally here's a work in progress shot of the Big Dog of the Garmilas ship set, an S-class Dreadnought that is the centerpiece of the set and the backbone capital ship design of the Greater Garmilas Imperium of the Yamato 2199 universe:



I used a Litko Aerosystems two-hex base and the upright is for the display stand that came with the model. I simply Krazy glued it to the Litko base, and I'll spray the whole ensemble flat black and fill in the peg holes. The ship itself is light enough that it is stable on this kitbashed base. I've a great deal more to do with it to finish, but overall I am pleased with the basic dark blue over light grey finish. 

I'll crunch the numbers to run this beastie as a destroyer, and then go from there to a larger vessel such as a light cruiser, as I've written some rough and ready rules for larger tonnage warships for Silent Death to make "Sink the Bismark" style scenarios practical. 

So there it all is for everyone's consideration! Have a Happy New Year, and we'll see you on the other side of the galaxy in 2015! :)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

"Libertad o Morir!" Mexican American War Armies in 1/72 Scale!

I painted up a bunch of 1/72 scale Reviresco Mexican-American War figures -two complete war-game armies' worth in fact!- a number of years ago as a private commission for a friend of mine. Like all Reviresco figures, these are white metal alloy (lead-tin), and were originally sculpted in the old school method of lost wax. John McEwan is a fan of this fascinating period of American military history, and did extensive research on the uniforms, weapons, and equipment of the antagonists. His figures have quite a bit of detail that reflects his efforts, and despite their age once painted up these figures look quite effective on the wargame table. 

Being 1/72 scale, they mix quite well with the 1/72 scale plastic figures from Imex covering the Mexican-American War, so between the two sources it's relatively easy to build up quite impressive armies to refight the battles of the period in miniature.

So I had finished up these two opposing armies for an old friend, and he took delivery of them, and I thought that was the last of the matter. A couple of years later when Sandra and I announced that we were pulling up stakes and moving to Texas, my friend gave me the complete set of two armies plus some extras he'd done to match as a going away present(!!!). The two armies have since languished in storage, never once seeing any use by me on the war-games table. 

Here for your viewing pleasure are the two armies unit by unit, a total of 52 mounted figures, 83 foot, 6 guns, and a supply cart complete with powder barrels and dozing civilian driver...



The U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps of the Mexican-American War:



U.S. Army Regular Infantry Regiment


Mixed Regiment of U.S. Marines and sailors armed with 
boarding pikes(!). These were painted by my friend 
Dave Smith (and like John McEwan, Dave is a fan of 
California history).


U.S. Marine company and mounted general


U.S. Army Foot Artillery and U.S. Navy landing party artillery (I painted the former, while Dave handled the Navy artillery)


U.S. Army horse artillery limbered up and on the move


Rear view of horse artillery. The gun is separate and with the dismounted guard figures can be depicted on the war-game table as deployed for action. This gives the American army's player a third gun with more mobility than their Mexican Army opponent.


U.S. Army 1st Dragoon Regiment including civilian scout.


U.S. Army dragoons dismounted in firing line 
with skirmishers forward.



No, that American officer is not riding to get away from a bunch of Californio lancers intent on skewering him with their lances! This is in fact a unique U.S. Army intelligence gathering recon unit, the Mexican Spy Company. Deliberately wearing hats and uniform jackets that mimicked those worn by the Mexican lancer units and carrying lances with a red pennant, the Mexican Spy Company was able to scout deep into Mexican-controlled areas and deceive their opponents as to their true identity at a distance. The Native American scout was also a feature of the U.S. Army of the period, where such warriors were highly prized for their fieldcraft skills.

Dave handled the Spy Company, while I did the hell-for-leather mounted officer. 


The Mexican Army of Generalissimo Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana:



Mexican Army Regulares


More Mexican Regulares


Presidial Lancers painted by Dave Smith.


Presidial Lancers at the charge!


Californios! Presidial Lancers with their unique lance 
pennant declaring "Liberty or Death!"


And they meant it! "Libertad o Morir!" 

Note: As of this writing my dratted camera battery quit on me just before I could shoot photos of the Mexican Army's artillery and Californio militia infantry company (#$@%!!!). As soon as I am able I will add photos of these remaining units to this blog entry as an edit...

I have to thank mi amiga Rosana over at La Baguette, who so kindly helped me with the proper Mexicano Espanol rendering for the slogan on the lance pennants  as none of my reference sources I had at the time gave the original Spanish language rendering of "Liberty or Death!" 

So. I can't keep from making new models and painting up more figures, and while I am fascinated enough by the period as a native Californian, I can't justify keeping around two armies I am never likely to use! So, this collection is looking for a new home! 

I've posted the collection on my Etsy store site (RecycleAttitude) and priced the lot to move, and the sooner the better as I want to make room for more sci-fi projects (especially a whole bunch of new Yamato 2199 starship kits)! 

So if you want to take the plunge into this fascinating period with two ready-to-use painted armies, here's your chance, as I really want them to find a good home where the two may do heroic battle across the green felt of a wargaming table as they were meant to do, rather than just sitting nestled in bubble wrap in a storage bin at the bottom of a pile of other bins marked "Sci-Fi terrain" and "Misc. Junk!"

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Presentation to the World War One Historical Association, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter 11/15/2014

I was recently honored as the guest speaker at the annual meeting of the World War One Historical Association San Francisco Bay Area chapter's annual commemoration of the end of the Great War (11/11/1918). I presented my talk on "LArtillerie D'Assault" covering the evolution of the tank arm of the French Army from 1916-18. This is a fascinating subject that I have investigated since childhood, as the French Army of the Great War was a major technical innovator in many fields, including the creation of the direct lineal ancestor of the modern battle tank, the Char Legere Renault FT17:



                            Lt. Colonel George S. Patton, Jr. 
                            and a Renault FT-17, circa 1918. 
                            Patton first experienced combat 
                            in a tank inside the turret of the 
                            FT-17 during the Meuse-Argonne 
                            Offensive of 1918. The FT-17 is 
                           the first tank to be designed with a 
                           revolving gun turret as the sole 
                           means of mounting the vehicle's 
                           armament. All modern battle tanks 
                           since have followed the layout of 
                           the FT-17. (source: National Archives)


I was very graciously received by an extremely knowledgeable group of historical enthusiasts whose own base of knowledge was more than a little formidable to say the least. I must say that this was without a doubt one of the most pleasant speaking engagements I've had to date, and I must thank Association President Sal Compagno for his hospitality, Ms. Diane Rooney for her professional organizing skills of the first order, and Mr. Dana Lombardy for arranging the invitation.

Many of the good people in attendance had many a question that due to the time constraints I was unable to answer during the authoring. As a minor compensation, I offer up now a recommended reading list drawn from my own personal library concerning both the Great War 1914-18 in general, the French Army's experience during that conflict, and the development of the subject of my presentation on Saturday, L'Artillerie D'Assault:



Trench Warfare and the Western Front:




Bull, Dr. Stephen (2002). World War I Trench Warfare (1) 1914-16. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Bull, Dr. Stephen (2002). World War I Trench Warfare (2) 1916-18. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Drury, David (1995). German Stormtrooper 1914-1918. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Martin, William (2001). Verdun 1916: ‘They Shall Not Pass.’ Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.





The French Army of the Great War 1914-18:



Jouineau, Andre' (2008). The French Army 1914: August-December. Paris, France: Histoire & Collections.



Jouineau, Andre' (2009). The French Army 1918: 1915 to Victory. Paris, France: Histoire & Collections.



Sumner, Ian (2009). French Poilu 1914-18. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Sumner, Ian (1995). The French Army 1914-18. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Windrow, Martin (2010). The French Foreign Legion 1872-1914. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Windrow, Martin (1999). The French Foreign Legion 1914-1945. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.








Armored Warfare, it's Evolution and the French Experience:





Perrett, Bryan (1995). Iron Fist: Classic Armoured Warfare. London, U.K.: Cassell & Company.



Vaulvillier, Francois (2014). The Encyclopedia of French Tanks and Armored Vehicles 1914-1940. Paris, France: Histoire & Collections.



Zaloga, Steven J. (2008). Armored Trains. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Zaloga, Steven J. (2010). French Tanks of World War I. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.








Aviation History during the Great War 1914-18:






Chant, Christopher (2002). Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Franks, Norman (2000). Albatros Aces of World War 1. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Franks, Norman and VanWyngarden, Greg (2001). Fokker Dr I Aces of World War 1. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Franks, Norman (2000). Nieuport Aces of World War 1. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Guttman, Jon (2005). Balloon-Busting Aces of World War 1. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Guttman, Jon (2007). Bristol F 2 Fighter Aces of World War 1. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Guttman, Jon (2001). SPAD VII Aces of World War 1. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Guttman, Jon (2002). SPAD XIII Aces of World War 1. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Ketley, Barry (1999). French Aces of World War 2. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Kulikov, Victor (2013). Russian Aces of World War 1. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Shores, Christopher (2001). British and Empire Aces of World War 1. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



VanWyngarden, Greg (2006). Pfalz Scout Aces of World War 1. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.








The list above is by no means comprehensive or exhaustive, however I highly recommend the monographs from Osprey Publishing as a good source of easy to read primers on specific topics. Relatively recently Osprey added a new series of comparative technology monographs, the Duel series. Among those are a growing number of comparative studies of specific antagonists from the aerial warfare of the period, focusing on significant combatants such as the FE 2B/D pusher and the Albatross D-series of fighter aircraft. Each volume takes the reader through the inception and development of the two machines under comparison, the training of the crews and the opposing tactical doctrines each employed against the other. Each book concludes with one or more combat narratives constructed from primary sources to present a case for the relative effectiveness (or lack thereof!) of either of the antagonists, and provide perspective on the circumstances and factors that produced the tactical, operational, and strategic outcomes that in fact resulted.


To date the Great War topics available in this series are:






Guttman, Jon (2014). Nieuport 11/16 Bebe' vs Fokker Eindekker: Western Front 1916. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Guttman, Jon (2009). SE 5a vs Albatros D V: Western Front 1917-18. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Guttman, Jon (2008). Sopwith Camel vs Fokker Dr I: Western Front 1917-18. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Guttman, Jon (2011). SPAD VII vs Albatros D III: 1917-18. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Guttman, Jon (2009). SPAD XIII vs Fokker D VII: Western Front 1918. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Miller, James F. (2012). DH2 vs Albatros D I/D II: Western Front 1916. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.



Miller, James F. (2014). FE 2B/D vs Albatros Scouts: Western Front 1916-17. Oxford, U.K.: Osprey Publishing, Ltd.








If you have an interest in the First World War and wish to meet like-minded people who share a deep interest in the subject, or just wish to learn more about this global conflict that has had such a profound and continuing impact in shaping the world in which we live in even now, 100 years after the outbreak of the war, then I strongly recommend that you visit the Association website:




http://ww1ha.org/activities/san-francisco-bay-area-chapter/






Again, my heartfelt thanks to Sal, Diane, Dana, and the wonderful members of the World War One Historical Association's San Francisco Bay Area Chapter for their hospitality and patience in allowing me to share with them some of my accumulated knowledge on one of the less well known chapters of the First World War.

EDIT:

A number of people in attendance asked me to explain the differences between the French Renault FT-17 and the license built copy produced here in the U.S. known as the M1917 Six Ton Tank. 
As I explained during the talk, the French Renault machine was designed and tooled to metric measurements. France supplied us with a number of examples of the FT-17, as the plan was for American industry to take up production of this excellent little combat machine and produce them in numbers France's straining armaments industry simply couldn't hope to match, and do so in time for the planned massive Allied offensive set for 1919. The only problem with this sensible plan was that American industry was tooled for Standard measurements (i.e., inches and feet rather than millimeters and centimeters). 

The American solution was to simply take apart some of the FT-17s sent by the French, and quite literally recopy the parts into Standard measurement plans from the ground up. Further technical issues arose with the French engines, so a U.S. built motor was selected for the U.S. copy, and the M1917 Six Ton Tank was born:


                            M1917 Six Ton Tank from the 
                            private collection of the late Mr. 
                            Jaques Littlefield in Portola Valley, 
                            CA. (author's personal collection)


The most instantly recognizable feature of the M1917 is the protective gun shield and armored barrel cover on the turret. The French machines lacked this feature. Further, the French built FT-17s had their exhaust muffler located on the right side of the machine, while the M1917 muffler was located on the left side. It is these two features that differentiate the two machines at a glance, and tell the viewer if it is a genuine French built FT-17 char legere, or the U.S. copy.

While the Renault FT-17s saw considerable action during the course of two World Wars and a number of conflicts in between in the service of France and other foreign powers, the American made M1917 never fired a shot in anger. Although some were deployed with the U.S. Marine Corps reinforcements sent to China during the student uprisings of the 1920s, there is no record of a single M1917 ever seeing action against a foreign enemy. Many of these did infamously enough find themselves used against American Great War veterans when in 1932 the U.S. Army was sent in to disperse the Bonus Army protestors from their shantytown built across the Potomac River from the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Led by General Douglas MacArthur, the Army used M1917s, infantry and cavalry to run the Bonus Army protestors out of their encampment, then burned the shantytown to the ground. This outraged the nation, and damaged then President Herbert Hoover's efforts for reelection even further, paving the way for the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt the same year. The final use of the M1917s came during WW2, when many of the remaining serviceable M1917s were sold to Canada at scrap metal prices for use as training tanks.

In contrast, the French FT-17s were turning up in combat as late as the end of WW2, as the German Army had incorporated several hundred FT-17s captured when France surrendered in 1940 into their inventory for use in rear area security details and anti-partisan work in the Balkans. American G.I. and paratroopers first encountered hostile FT-17s during Operation Torch in 1943, when Vichy French forces in North Africa used FT-17s in a desperate and futile bid to stop the Allied landings. 

During the D-day landings American soldiers again encountered resistance from FT-17s, only these were in German service being used for airfield and rear area security. FT-17 turrets were also used to make bunkers in the Atlantic Wall, and some were also mount on flatbed rail cars to provide extra firepower for German military trains patrolling the critical railroad tracks in the Balkans and occupied Russia. Even by the end of WW2, the German Army was still listing a handful of FT-17s as part of their operational strength at the time of Germany's surrender. Even so, this was not the end of the saga of the FT-17.

During the fighting in Afghanistan in 2003, an American Special Forces officer discovered several FT-17s in an Afghan scrapyard. The tanks it turned out were originally built in France, then sent to Poland in 1919 to aid the Polish people with their war for independence against continued Russian rule. They were subsequently captured from the Poles during the fighting around 1920 by the Russians, who then wound up gifting the little tanks to an Afghani emir later on as the new Soviet government sought to solidify its hold over the old Tsarist Empire they'd co-opted. Several were recovered in restorable condition, and two examples were shipped to the Patton Museum here in the U.S., one to France's Ecole de Cavalrie at Saumur, and one to Poland, all for restoration and preservation.

The pedigree of the FT-17s as Polish service machines was established by the uncovering during restoration of modifications to the turret access hatches made by the Poles during their War of Independence to make them less susceptible to penetration. FT-17s were supplied during the Great War to the United States Army, and in the immediate aftermath supplied to or used by over 25 countries including Poland, Spain, Finland, Japan, China, Lithuania, Turkey, and Brazil. Over 3,800 of all variants of the char legere Renault FT-17 were built, making this not only the direct lineal ancestor of the modern battle tank, but also the most produced tank of the Great War, and one of the longest serving armored vehicle designs in history, with an operational career spanning nearly 25 years of continuous service. 

Innovative, reliable by the standards of its day, and robustly built, the little FT-17 was one of many of France's groundbreaking technological contributions to modern warfare that was born out of the terrible, bloody stalemate of the Western Front. The FT-17 was the result of the combination of a veteran artilleryman's practicality and the stellar imagination that characterized France's Colonel Jean Baptiste Estienne, and the entrepreneurial talents and practical turn of mind of his acquaintance the industrialist Louis Renault. Together they created and unleashed upon the battlefields of the world the grandaddy of the modern battle tank, and in doing so changed warfare forever.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pegasus 1/72 Scale Fast Build T-26 Light Tank Kit

Yup. A quickie sort kinda mini review of what is without a doubt a thoroughly essential tank for anyone who games Operation Barbarossa in 1/72 scale, so let's crank 'er up and get going here! Za, Rodina!



No, your eyes don't deceive you, there are Russian T-26 Model 1933 light tanks in 1/72 scale from Pegasus Hobbies all built and painted up real purdy ready to defy the invading Panzerwaffe head on (and no doubt go down accordingly!). Like all of the rest of the Pegasus fast build kits aimed at us wargamers, these come two to a box, and have a limited number of parts (15 per tank in this case), and are a real joy to assemble accordingly, with the added bonus that they don't lack for detail!

These complement the other two early WW2 Russian subjects released by Pegasus, namely the BT-7 fast tank and the BA-6 armored car (two examples of which can be seen in an earlier blog post defending Rodina from the fascistkuyu gadinu!). Just like the BT-7 and BA-6 (and all the other Pegasus fast build kits I've built for that matter), these little beauties went together in very short order, with the parts fitting with little or no trimming of flash or burs on my part. 


The track and suspension assemblies are single pieces, and the model includes the added feature of separate turret hatches, so if you've some favorite 1/72 scale Red Army tank commander figures in early war garb laying about, you can add that sort of embellishment with ease.


The T-26 Model 1933 has already been the subject of other companies' 1/72 scale fast build kits to date. Miniarons of Spain started the ball rolling, and I must confess that while they may lack the level of detail of the Pegasus kit, they do include the added option of building a two-turret earlier variant as well as the more ubiquitous gun tank, so they fulfill an important early war niche as the Red Army still threw some hundreds of the twin turret variants into the Winter War and later during Operation Barbarossa.

The other competitor is S-Model from China, a new company that has delightfully focused mainly on Early War subjects, from a basic and command variant of the T-26 Model 1933, to Early War French AFVs, tanks and AFVs for the BEF in 1940, and the early war in the Desert and German Blitz through Poland and the West. They also released a T-35 multi-turret tank, but that's another review for another time...

Returning to the Pegasus Hobbies T-26 and the historical T-26 Model 1933, this handy little Russian development of the British Vicker 6 Ton Tank of the 1930s was widely exported to other countries the Soviet Union was trying to curry favor with (or use as proxies against their fascist antagonists). T-26 Model 1933 light tanks turned up in the Spanish Civil War on both sides, with the Republicans being sent many dozens of these then-potent little tanks and their Nationalist opponents using any and all T-26s they could capture or steal from the Republicans during the course of Spain's civil war. The Nationalist even offered a hefty bounty to their troops for any running T-26s they could bring in, so the Nationalist troops were doubly incentivized to capture working T-26s, as their own tank inventory was limited to machine gun armed Panzer Is and Italian CV33 tankettes, neither of which could cope with the 45mm cannon of the T-26 in tank-to-tank encounters.

China also deployed 100 of the T-26 Model 1933, a product of the brief cooperation between the Kuomintang government of Chiang Kai-shek and Stalin's regime. These were concentrated in the 200th Division of the Chinese Army, and were a crucial part of General Joseph Stilwell's army in the CBI during the retreat from Burma. Time and again the 200th Division fought desperate and largely successful rearguard actions against heavy odds, holding off the Japanese Army while their Western Allies could continue to extricate themselves from complete disaster at the hands of the relentless and otherwise unstoppable Imperial Japanese Army in 1941-42. 

The Finns used captured T-26 Model 1933 light tanks during the Continuation War, and even the Germans used a few captured examples apparently, at least for rear area security duties against partisans. 


 I finished my first two Pegasus T-26 tanks in a basic overall drab green finish, as this was the most common scheme seen on Soviet tanks in general in 1941, and most specifically on the Model 1933s. Built in their thousands, exported everywhere from Spain to Turkey to China, serving on both sides during WW2, the T-26 Model 1933 was a typical interwar design, yet in a few ways was the precursor to the heavier, better armed combat tanks of the Second World War.

No early WW2 Red Army in 1/72 scale is really complete without at least a few of these ubiquitous little AFVs (and many Russian infantry divisions had a company of ten T-26 light tanks organic to their TO&E). This latest offering from Pegasus Hobbies is simply da bomb! I plan to acquire something like three dozen eventually, divided between the Spanish Republicans and Nationalists, the Chinese, and the Red Army for both Operation Barbarossa and the Winter of 1941/42. I'll probably add a couple for my Finns as well, once I get 'round to my long overdue Winter War project.

Highly recommended, so if you're in need of some basic, ubiquitous, meat n' potatoes armor support for your Red Army troops to defend the Motherland, these are your tin cans!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

More Spacelords, Space Rangers, and SOCOM in Spaaaaaccee!!

So I horsed around some more with my digital camera from Hell, and managed to get some clear shots of my Metal Magic Spacelords Cybertechs, SECS troopers, some of the old plastic Space Rangers figures, plus an Imperial Terran Special Operations Command team ready to go make something go BOOOM!

For your consideration, starting with some of the Metal Magic Cybertech Wartechs as Karelian Republic suomis for use playtesting our upcoming ground combat rules set in the classic Terran Space universe of Silent Death: The Next Millennium:






Yes, the Karelians even brought the cat along... the better to keep the rats at bay... especially the two legged variety that come flying out of the Luches Utopia every now and again and start trying to nose into Karelian territory...

Next up is my platoon of the plastic Space Rangers, among the more affordable options available for 28mm powered armor troops. These figures are armed to the teeth, really, with various weapon systems built into their backpacks as well as the basic rifle or one of the three heavy weapon options that comes with these handy figures. They have a nice bulk to them as powered armor troopers should, and these menacing fellows will serve as Millennium Warriors during our playtesting efforts:




Next up, a couple of much cleaner shots of my recently finished Wartech SECS troopers. Very handy for our playtesting, as they can serve as fairly generic human infantry types, with a convenient powered techie backpack on their body armor, perfect to serve as personal deflector field generators so essential for the high tech battlefields of Terran Space where all sorts of high tech nastiness flies around with gay abandon:



And the Imperial Terran SOCOM team just landed on a rebellious planet near you! I plan to use this particular combat team for playtesting as a House Tokugawa special operations commando and her hand picked team of ruthless and cunning nonhuman warriors, vicious creatures recruited from one of the dozens of nonhuman inhabited primitive worlds within House Tokugawa's sphere of influence....



Looks like the little fellows have already gone off to start breaking things...

And finally, a couple more shots much clearer this time of "The Plow," my heavy blower tank made from a plastic cheese container, a plastic Christmas ornament, and assorted goodies from the bits box...



Next time, something historical, plus a few more odds and sods from the deepest recesses of our storage unit... Mwahahahahaaa!!!