Saturday, November 9, 2019

Warbases MDF Niu House

The hobby desk has been dormant the last few months, as that space turned into storage during a kitchen renovation. But the boxes are now gone and I can get back to modelling.

To celebrate, I treated myself to some MDF Chinese buildings. First up is the 28mm Niu House produced by as part of their 55th Day - China line. 

Warbases 28mm Chinese Niu House

The basic kit is very nice on it's own, but as usual, I did my best to tart it up. As my current collection of Chinese hutong buildings is scratch built using paper textures, I decided to do the same here so that everything would match.  The brick and concrete patters are my usual Scalescenes OO scale sheets printed at 120%, and the windows and doors come from elements found elsewhere on this blog. Though I used the doors from the kit (with paper added to the surface), the included window shutters didn't work with my plan to add window frames and were left off. When adding paper coverings to a MDF kit, be sure to dry fit pieces first, as the tolerance between pieces may be too tight to slip a sheet of paper between.

The most challenging aspect of the build was replacing the card roof tiles with plastic tiles from Plastruct. I have used these tiles previously on roofs with a straight slope, but this kit has a curved roof line.  I originally tried gluing the tile sheet down with my standard white glue and a strip of wood and some clamps to hold the curve.

Warbases 28mm Chinese Niu House

Sadly, this was a complete failure, even after allowing the glue to dry 24 hours. As soon as I took the clamps off, the sheet popped back into a straight position. For round 2, I tried superglue and the clamps, which held.  The only frustrating part is that my original gluing attempt caused the underlying MDF to warp. I did my best to bend it back into shape, but it's still not fully straight across the bottom edge. Hopefully it isn't too obvious.

Warbases 28mm Chinese Niu House

For the small title sections on each side, I elected to use the card tiles and then glue the plastic tiles on top. 

Warbases 28mm Chinese Niu House

To get the slopes right for each section, I held them in position and dropped a pre-cut section of plastic rod down the middle (same rod used on the main roof). Once the superglue on the rods dried, the shape stayed. The roof elements could then be primed and painted before gluing them onto the building.

Warbases 28mm Chinese Niu House

I originally cut the plastic tiles to the same length as the card ones, but quickly discovered the the thickness of the plastic tiles caused them to extend too bar over the central roof, preventing it from being able to come off and on.  One by one, I had to trim back the inner tiles until the clearance was good. As a result, they don't look as nice as the outer ones, but once painted I don't think they are too noticeable. 

Warbases 28mm Chinese Niu House

And here's the final product:

Warbases 28mm Chinese Niu House

Warbases 28mm Chinese Niu House

Warbases 28mm Chinese Niu House

For Copplstone Chinese figures on thick bases, the doors are a little low, but not too bad.

Warbases 28mm Chinese Niu House

Here's the house with some of my earlier scratch built buildings. By using the paper textures, I think they blend in rather well. 

Warbases 28mm Chinese Niu House

My final verdict is that this is a very well designed and sturdy kit, and that it can really be brought to the next level if you are willing to invest some time into adding upgrades.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Burma: Merrill's Marauders and Chinese Transport

Back with some additional reinforcements for my Chinese X and Y forces in Burma. First up is an allied squad from the US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), better known as Merrill's Marauders.

Warlord Games Merrill's Marauders for Bolt Action

These figures are produced by Warlord Games, and are quite well done. The sculpting quality is good, the casting had minimal flash and mold lines, and they use the separate head system, allowing you to create some variety if you want to field more than one squad.  Sadly, they do not produce any bazooka or mortar teams as part of the range.

Warlord Games Merrill's Marauders for Bolt Action

I painted mine using the following Vallejo color combinations:
OD uniform: German Fieldgrey 70.830, Green Grey 70.886, 50/50 Green Grey 70.886 and Green Grey 70.971 Mix
Webbing: Khaki 70.988, German Camo Beige 70.821, Stone Grey 70.884
Beige Shirts: Khaki 70.988, German Camo Beige 70.821, Dark Sand 70.847
Helmets: 50/50 German Camo Black Brown 70.822 and Brown Violet 70.887 Mix, Brown Violet 70.887

I normally have just a rocky bases with a bit a grass to allow my figures to better blend into a variety of terrain types, but since these are jungle based troop I opted to add a bit more more greenery.

Warlord Games Merrill's Marauders for Bolt Action

Next up is a Morris CS8 15cwt truck, also produced by Warlord Games. This is a resin vehicle with white metal fittings, and can be built with either the tarp covering the back or rolled up. The driver also uses the separate head system for more variety.

Warlord Games Morris 15CWT Truck for Bolt Action

Warlord Games Morris 15CWT Truck for Bolt Action

While the resin portion was fairly well cast, the metal portions were poorly done, with significant seams and signs of mold misalignment.  The worst was on the front wheel covers. I spent a lot of time trying to file things smooth, but reached a point where the metal was getting too thin and had to stop. As you can see below, the differences in height along each half of the covers is still very visible. I would not recommend this kit until they fix the issues with the metal elements.

Warlord Games Morris 15CWT Truck for Bolt Action

So a bit of a mixed bag in terms of quality this round of builds, but I think everything will still look good once it's out on the table.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Chinese Expeditionary Force (British Equipped)

For the most part, my Chinese army has been more appropriate for the northern half of the country. However, I've been interested in expanding my force to cover the Burma campaign as well. 

My hope was to find troops in 28mm that could pass for members of the British equipped Chinese Expeditionary Force, such as you see here:

Unfortunately, there is nothing on the market that looks like this, so you have to settle for figures that look reasonably close.  I asked over on LAF for ideas, and got a few opinions on things I could try:

At the end of the day, I ended up settling on the Empress figures. Having figures in trousers verses shorts would give me the option of using them in my northern campaigns as well. Plus, the uniforms are actually similar to uniforms used by other Chinese units, as seen below. 

For this infantry squad, I ended up with a 12-man team, including a sergeant with a Thompson submachine gun (though with the old style drum magazine) and a light machine gun team. Helmet decals are from Company B, available in the US from Brigade Games; They are bigger and lighter in color than I would like, but still better than I can paint.

Additional support is provided by a Boys anti-tank gun team.  It's not a heavy hitting anti-tank weapon, but I'm hoping it will do well enough against the light Japanese tanks.

Finally, I have a pair of officers. One is holding a map book, and I think he'd look good as an artillery observer. Rather than trying to hand paint a map, I opted to print out an actual WW2 map and glue it down on the book.

Finally, how do the Empress figures compare in size to other manufacturers? My new squad is on slightly thicker bases than my other figures, but I would still say there are a good match with the Copplestone Chinese figures and Artizan British.  The Brigade Games Chinese and Warlord Japanese run a bit smaller (mine have their bases padded), but I don't think it will be too noticeable on the table. 

Artizan, Brigade Games, Empress, Copplestone, Warlord

Monday, May 27, 2019

Chinese/Soviet Border Skirmish

During the 30's and 40's The Chinese and Soviets fought a number of skirmishes along China's western border.  This battle represents a fictional encounter at an isolated village between my Nationalist Chinese and Art's Soviets.  The objective of the game is to drive the other army from the table.

Round 1:

At the top end of the table, the Soviets deploy a Matilda tank, along with a few squads of infantry and a mortar team.

The Chinese counter with a Big Sword squad and some German trained tank hunters, all under the supervision of the army's general.

In the hilltop village, the spotter for the Soviet mortar team is surprised by Chinese snipers and killed with a lucky shot before he can call in his first round.

With the snipers occupied, Soviet command directs a squad of infantry and some anti-tank teams towards the village high ground.

On the Chinese side, a squad of levies takes the back trail to the village while a mortar team and Sd.Kfz. 221 provide cover.

At the bottom end of the table, Chinese cavalry and a T-26 tank rush towards the Soviet BA-6.  The cavalry suffer a fatality, but are undeterred in their charge. 

Round 2:

Using rapid deployment abilities, the Chinese race towards the Soviet tank and infantry.

The Soviets counter with machine gun and small arms fire, killing some Chinese, but doing nothing to deter the advance.

The Chinese sniper team fires upon the advancing Soviets without success, and are soon killed under a hale of lead. 

Meanwhile, the Chinese levies continue their trek into the village.

The Chinese cavalry swing away from the BA-6 in hopes of catching some Soviet infantry in the flank, but are surprised by a flamethrower team that send the unit to a hellish end.

The BA-6 speeds away from the Chinese T-26 and catches the Sd.Kfz. 221, blowing out the engine and immobilizing it. The Sd.Kfz. 221 retaliates by opening fire on the flamethrower team, but it fails to destroy them.

Round 3:

Knowing he is in danger, the Soviet tank charges forward to prevent the tank hunters from having time to attack.  The Big Sword squad breaks off and instead engages a Soviet infantry squad hiding in the woods.

Despite superior numbers and better close combat skills, luck is not with the Big Sword squad and they are eventually cut down by the Soviets.

During this confusion, Soviet officers and an anti-tank team attempt to slay the Chinese general, but his bodyguards keep him from harm (though at the cost of their own lives).

The Soviets continue their advance into the village, and begin occupying the building on the left. The Chinese levies hold the temple and do their best to pick off Soviet stragglers.

At the bottom of the table, the Soviet flamethrower team discovers the Chinese spotter hiding in the ruins and burns him out.

In revenge, the Chinese mortar team begins bombarding a veteran squad of Soviet infantry, keeping them pinned for the rest of the game. 

A Soviet anti-tank team finds their mark with the Sd.Kfz. 221 and reduces it to a pile of rubble. 

The Chinese also find success against an armored car, with the T-26 destroying the BA-6.

Using the distraction of the armored car battle to their advantage, a Chinese command team and a medic move to join the levies in the temple.

Round 4:

The Chinese tank hunters attempt to destroy the Soviet Matilda, but fail to get through the armor.  The tank drives forward in hopes of escaping.

Levy troops continue to fire on the advancing Soviets, but their efforts result in minimal enemy loses.

 The Soviet flamethrower team attempts to tank on the Chinese T-26, but fail miserably and are are quickly gunned down.

Round 5:

As the Matilda drives away from danger, the Soviet and Chinese infantry engage in a gun battle.

The firefight between the Soviets and Chinese also continues in the village.

At the lower end of the table, Soviet infantry try to rally, but are unsuccessful in the face of the ongoing mortar barrage.

Round 6:

The surviving Chinese tank hunters take one last stab at the Matilda, but again fail in their attack.

The Matilda retaliates with an HE round, but the injury to the Chinese is minimal.

Soviet infantry storm the temple, taking heavy casualties, but succeeding in their goal to destroy the Chinese levies.

However, their victory is short lived, as the surviving Chinese officer manages to rout them from the building.

Despite their best efforts, the Chinese do not have enough remaining troops to hold the village. As the Soviets advance, the Chinese general honorably stands his ground and fights to the death, making sure to take as many of his enemies as he can with him.

Despite the high number of 1's and 2's I rolled during the game (still can't believe the Big Sword squad lost their battle), I did manage to pull off a few lucky shots and a fun time was had by both sides.