Vespid Models A34 Comet in 1/72 Scale

Vespid is a new brand for me so it could be a new brand altogether. They seem to make only a couple of kits so far and this Comet caught my eye. It was not a cheap kit but it was worth every penny from wherever I found it. The comet was a design based I think on the Cromwell but with a more powerful gun. It certainly looks very like the predecessor to the Centurion – the turret especially. The kit was awesome to build and I really cannot fault anything about it. They supply it with a metal gun barrel, a resin gun mantle cover (which I did not use) and a few PE parts. I managed all the PE parts except the small aerial which ended up as ball of superglued mess and in the bin. Lots of fun. They also supply a large range of decals for various tanks. All I added was my own aerial due to the above PE debacle and the compulsory AB figures commander. Vespid also make a Panther which I am very tempted to buy now!!!

AEC Armoured Car from Early War Miniatures

One armoured car that I really wanted to add to my collection is the AEC armoured car. This vehicle is more like a four wheeled tank. I could not find a plastic model kit anywhere from anyone in 1/72 scale so I had to break my rules on this occasion. I found an excellent version from Early War Miniatures in the UK, who do a big range of vehicles.

The armoured car comes in two main parts, being a metal turret and barrel, plus a special type of resin hull and wheels. Compared to other resin items I have bought this is easily the best quality. The detail is crisp and there are no bubbles or mis-shapen bits. It was a pleasant surprise I have some other resin things languishing on a scrap heap looking too tricky to fix. You also get a couple of machine guns to pop on the turret and also some mirrors to attach to the hull. So a bit of superglue later and hey presto i am ready to paint.

Black undercoat and an olive drab spray was all he needed. Decals are not supplied so I added from my bottomless source. I did attach him to an MDF base for extra strength, and then dirtied him up with some weathering powder. This made a nice change from my usual plastic kits and so speedy to the finish line. For more resin vehicles I will certainly shop here again.

AB Figures British Infantry in Camouflage Smocks

This isolation business is really doing wonders for my output. I have almost got through painting all my British infantry who will make up a full company of men. This is another squad from the fantastic AB Figures range. British infantry walking, running, carrying a fuel can, patrolling, and armed with rifles, a couple of SMGs and a bren. The difference with this squad is that they are wearing camouflage smocks. This made a great change from the usual uniforms I have been painting. Looking on the AB Figures web site I used their painted example as a guide. So the camo smocks were a dark yellow base with patches of red brown and bright green, a bit like a German tank. Pants were painted the usual British army khaki. It all still took me ages to do but luckily I have plenty of time these days. After looking at some amazing painting of AB Figures faces in this tiny scale I am trying to do a bit more with the faces. Trying to do a base coat, a wash, then two lots of highlights. It seems to work better. It just takes longer………..

These guys are still waiting for their bases to be finished with flock and tufts. I have another squad also completed so I will get all the bases done together and post the two finished squads.

 

Dapol Girder Bridge HO/OO Scale

I needed another bridge. I have two home made country bridges but really wanted an old rusty looking girder bridge. Down the road I want to add a railway line onto my table top so a girder bridge would be perfect for that. Dapol make a very cheap range of plastic terrain aimed more at railway modellers. Their buildings are too small for 1/72 scale wargaming, in my opinion, but this bridge is perfect. It is 32cm long and wide enough to take a medium tank (Sherman etc). It makes it easy on creating a rule for what weight it can withstand. If the tank is too wide for the bridge then it is too heavy for the bridge.

I think I bought this direct from Dapol at their web site Dapol Girder Bridge

It is a simple model, with three main bits, two sides and a bottom. Plus some struts to link the tops. There is some decent detail showing lots of rivets. I had a lot of fun painting this up. A solid undercoat of matt black, then a spray of red brown. Then i attacked it with buckets of track rust and light rust weathering powders. Using a really wrecked brush i stippled more black back on top, plus a wash of brown on top of that. I think I even went again with more rusty powder. I wanted a really old rusty effect so spent some time adding more and more. The colour and texture came out quite nicely and even looks like peeling paint in some places.

I also made some quite steep roads for each end so I can place my bridge over a river. I used polystyrene on MDF bases coated with plaster for good strong and light results.

Here you can see a cautious advance from a Dingo Scout Car backed up by a half track and a Humber armoured car.

 

 

 

 

Revell King Tiger in 1/72 scale

Ooh so as working from home continues, working on model kits also continues at a feverish pace, if you will excuse the term in the current pandemic. I bought this Revell King Tiger from eBay for not much as it was missing a box and decals. No box means cheaper postage anyway I guess too. Win win.

Boxart Tiger II Ausf. B Production Turret 03129 Revell

This is a great kit. So much in a tank kit boils down to their treatment of tracks. This monster of a tank has excellent link and length tracks. They are nice big track links to begin with, but very easy to put together. I always start with multiples of two and around the sprocket wheel. The running gear and tracks you can make as two units before attaching them both, left and right, to the lower hull. Wheels are individual but are easy to get nice and straight. You can model the hatches open or closed which is always nice when you want to put in a couple of AB figures tank crew like me.

A few tow cables for the sides look good. There is also some spare track to put on the turret, but they don’t include hooks. So I added some of my own just by gluing small squares of plastic card where the hook would stick out. I left the spare tracks off until I had painted the turret so the rusty effects would not interfere.

For painting I loosely followed the plans in an excellent book i have called “How To Paint 1:72 Military Vehicles – The Weathering Special”. They actually use the Tiger II for one chapter so I went through the majority of the techniques in the book. Another guide to painting that I can really recommend.

weathering172_01.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

I chopped off some of the side guards for battle damage, like they had in the book, and copied best I could the colour schemes. Lots of chips, dirt, mud and grime using various sponges, powders and other products. AB tank commanders to finish him off. Great little kit and great fun to spend a bit longer on the paint job and all the weathering effects.

Heller Somua Tank in 1/72 scale

Boxart Somua 79875 Heller

I didn’t really need any French tanks, as I do not have any French forces, but I do like these Somua tanks. They were captured and used by the Germans later in the war and so I thought I would build a troop of them anyway. I think the only plastic model kit in this scale of the Somua is made by Heller, so I bought three of them on eBay from someone, somewhere. Loved the box art and attempted to base my camo scheme on the front action shot.

It’s a tiny tank and the kit is easy to put together. Detail is nice and there were zero construction issues. By the third build I was doing it with my eyes shut! Tracks are like a soft vinyl that fitted perfectly which made a nice change. I think I drilled out the gun barrels with a very tiny drill, but did not do much else. Camo scheme was applied using the blutack masking technique, which ended up coming out very nicely. The decals were a mixture of the supplied ones plus some other spares. I really liked the French red white and blue insignia and white numbers so I sourced some similar stuff from my decal files. I figure I can use these for either side, early war French or late war Germans.

Here is le Troop just wandering through a village.

“The Falklands War There And Back Again” by Mike Norman and Michael Jones

Image result for there and back again 8901

As a teenager growing up in the UK in the 1980’s the Falklands War was an unforgettable time, for good, and obviously very bad, reasons. Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, Arthur Scargill and the miner’s strikes, the IRA, and not least the Falklands War, all hold huge memories for me growing up in the North East of England. The Falklands War and Mrs Thatcher’s fierce response to Argentina’s invasion of the tiny colony was something quite inspirational for a country that at the time was suffering various ailments. Sad but true that a country can be buoyed by a patriotic act of war, but also good that the defense of our nation, or a very small part of it, was so important. No one likes to see an aggressor, in this case Argentina, try and bully a small community.

Many stories have come out of the Falklands War, and I am fascinated by each and every one of them. This is a particular part more overlooked at the time, and even reported incorrectly, something the authors make very clear. It follows the story of Naval Party 8901 who were the tiny defending garrison of Royal Marines on the islands at the time of the invasion. Heavily outnumbered in men and resources, they did all they could to realistically prevent the Argentinian invasion. The British Government were caught out by underestimating the threat of such action by Argentina and therefore had neglected the size and capabilities of the British military presence in the Falklands. All the marines could do was try and give the invaders a “bloody nose”, which they did with some success. When surrender was unavoidable the whole action was badly reported in the press, and I think this book goes a long way to righting the unfair treatment of Naval Party 8901.

After repatriation to the UK, it continues the story of Naval Party 8901, who then joined the British forces sent South to retake the islands. They end up seeing the Argentinian forces surrender back to them, taking the story full circle.

It’s a great story and well told. Anyone with an interest in the Falklands should read it as it really sets the story straight, and shows us yet again the bravery and sacrifice shown during the conflict.

 

 

 

“The Battle For Arnhem 1944-1945” by Anthony Tucker-Jones

The Battle for Arnhem 1944-1945

Another favourite classic war film of mine, and I am sure many others too, is “A Bridge Too Far”. People always mention the historical inaccuracies and problems with the filming and actors’ egos etc but I really enjoy it as a war movie. It is up there with “The Longest Day” with an all star cast and blockbuster sets and great effects for the time.

Behind the Hollywood version there is a truth that is both an amazing and bold military plan, verging on the foolhardy, and a great story of bravery and survival. Unfortunately the plan ultimately failed, but if successful could have shortened the war and stopped further suffering in occupied Europe. This visual history of the Battle Of Arnhem is an excellent summary of all the actions through some text and many pictures. It was more of a series of battles rather than one big one, involving airborne landings to capture bridges and create a pathway to the main objective of the Arnhem bridge. Once objectives were captured an armoured force was to make it’s way as a relief column to clear a pathway all the way to Arnhem. Field Marshal Montgomery underestimated the strength of German forces in the area and their ability to regroup and counterattack resulting in the failure of Operation Market Garden.

As a wargamer of World War Two I have a great interest in all aspects of this operation and I am very keen to recreate parts of the Arnhem battle. An airborne assault on a canal bridge or an armoured column under attack on a long road. There are many great ideas here. The photographs are fantastic and show many scenes of all the engagements and situations throughout the campaign. The writing is very clear and concise and accompanied with some very informative maps. Tracking the action and linking it to the pictures is easy and it makes for an excellent read. If you have any interest in Operation Market Garden and the Battle For Arnhem then this book is for you. Of course now I will need to dust off my copy of “A Bridge Too Far” and watch it again!

 

 

 

 

“M7 Priest: Rare Photographs from Wartime” by David Doyle

I have been unable to get any models built in the past month as we have been out of the house while getting some renovations done, and then we were overseas for three weeks on a most excellent holiday! So I am missing my hobby a bit and getting itchy fingers.

But luckily I can still read and write. My latest reading material is about another awesome Allied design from World War Two, the M7 Priest. It was a powerful 105mm howitzer placed on a Sherman hull, used for supporting infantry and attacks with some heavy firepower. It was used very effectively during the war and even after in later conflicts. I had just purchased two Priest kits made by Unimodel so it was excellent timing that I had this book for inspiration for when I actually get around to building them. Plastic kits of the Priest in 1/72 scale are very hard to find, and I think Unimodel must be one of the only manufacturers.  The Plastic Soldier Company make a Sexton, and I think Revell do a 1/76 scale Priest, but Unimodel maybe the only 1/72 scale producer.

Anyway the book is full of fantastic pictures, as the main title “Images of war” suggests. It does detail the design and development stages of the Priest, plus some specifications and performance of the vehicle. But most of all there are many, many shots of the tank in action in many different situations. They were used in multiple roles from blasting strong points, longer range artillery and even transporting troops. The main design was constant but details were fiddled with over the years and these slight differences are illustrated very well throughout the many photos.

If you have an interest in this particular vehicle or you are planning to build one in small scale this book is a great source of visual inspiration. I will be picking a couple of pictures out to use to base my kits on when my Priest models get to the front of the queue. I was very happy to add this book to my growing collection of reference material for military vehicles from World War Two. If you like tanks you will enjoy this book.

Escape From Stalag Luft III

One of my favourite movies of all time must be the Great Escape. Watching Steve McQueen try and hurdle the barbed wire on his German motor bike, and losing my mind when Gordon Jackson gets caught out at the train station with the simple words “Good Luck”. It is one of the greatest War movies of all time, capturing the spirit of Allied POWS trying to continue the war effort, and their never say die initiative and ingenuity. Its a classic, although its roots are firmly entrenched in the horror and suffering of war.

When you read Bob Vanderstok’s book about the escape you can see how the movie captures the actual events and personalities involved so well. As a Dutch pilot Vanderstok actually had to first of all escape Holland and make his way to England where as a RAF pilot he was then shot down, captured and sent to Stalag Luft III. So in reality he escaped twice. The book is a riveting read from start to finish. The lengths the prisoners went to, from unsuccessful escapes, to planning and resourcing via any means necessary, are just amazing. The escape was a fantastic achievement and a great climax to the book, although obviously tainted with great sadness as many of the escapees were captured and killed.

If you love the movie you will love the book, so I suggest you buy a copy! If you haven’t watched the classic The Great Escape you need to sort that out too quicksmart!