Sunday, November 11, 2018

Remembering Our Veterans: 2nd Lt. William J. Alton

I'd like to open this post by thanking all veterans who served and sacrificed for their respective countries. 

In particular, I'd like to remember my great uncle, 2nd Lt. William J. Alton. He was a a B-25 pilot with the 22nd Bombardment Squadron (M), 341st Bombardment Group (M), flying missions in the China-Burma-India theater from mid 1942 until his death in early 1943.

He and ten other men were killed when their planes collided over Chakulia, India while participating in a formation bombing training exercise.

1st Lt. Samuel C. Dickinson
2nd Lt. Nicholas Marich
2nd Lt. William J. Alton
2nd Lt. Samuel M. White
S/Sgt. Robert L. Propst
S/Sgt. Vernon M. Harrison
Sgt. Guy V. Horn
Sgt. Jesse C. Levee
Cpl. Finley H. Ganoe
Cpl. Sidney S. Newsome
Pvt. Anthony M. Mandello 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

North Star Rug Ruga

Outside of Bolt Action, my local hobby shop doesn't usually carry much in the way of historicals these days, so I was pleasantly surprised when some packs of North Star's Africa line showed up on the racks. In hopes of encouraging more of this, I bought several packs of the Ruga Ruga to create a raiding party who could support my German forces.  This was made up of two packs of extreme musketmen, and one each of packs 1 and 2 of the musketmen.

The figures are full of character and and the sculpting quality is quite good. The castings had minimal levels of flash, though I found some of the details on the guns to be soft and one figure had a strap that wasn't cast properly (fixed with some green stuff).  However, these are minor complaints that can be hidden in the paint jobs.

Since I had two packs of the extreme musketmen (masked troops), I did my best to come up with varied paint schemes to hide the duplicates. 

I didn't catch it at the time of purchase, but it turns out musketmen packs 1 and 2 are actually the same body dollies with different head variants (and the same running dolly is used by the extreme pack). I would have preferred more varied poses in my squad, but at this stage there was nothing to do but again try to vary the paint schemes.

I don't have any of the Foundry Ruga Ruga to do a size comparison, but here is one of the figures up against a Foundry Masai, Copplestone Azande, and Warlord plastic Natal Native. The bases vary a few millimeters in thickness, but I think the figure sizes are comparable, along with the sculpt styles.

I'm quite happy with the final unit and hope I'll get a chance to get them on the table sometime in the near future.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Old Glory Dark Age Miniatures

This past spring, a local gamer was advertising a few free bags of ancients that he was clearing out of his lead pile, which I happily picked up. However, as part of the deal I also had to take a bag of loose, miscellaneous dark age and early crusader figures. Most of these figures where of no use to me, but I did find a a few figures that I thought could be pressed into service with my Anglo-Dane/Saxon force for Saga.

First up is a unit of levy archers cobbled together from what appear to be Old Glory late Roman auxiliary archers  and Welsh bowmen. The garb isn't a complete match with my other figures, but I'm hoping they are close enough to blend in on the table.

The sculpting style between the two Old Glory lines is also different, but I think my painting and basing is enough to unify them so it isn't glaring. For me, the only remaining standout is the differences in the bows. The Welsh bows are a much more slender sculpt. They also bend much more easily as a result, so I opted to add some wire bowstring in order to stiffen them up.

One thing I found odd about the Welsh figures is a few of them are wearing a single shoe, with the other foot bare.  I don't know if there is a historical precedence behind this, but I decided to paint those figures as having two shoes and tried to hide the wonky feet in the grass.

The other figures I thought could be of use were some Swabian heavy infantry, which I plan is to use as mercenaries. They come with a mix of shield shapes, but I opted to only use round shields so I could add the LBMS decals I had remaining from my Gripping Beast figures. Luckily the shield sizes were fairly close, so only a little trimming around the boss opening was required to make the decals fit.

The sculpting of the figures is not as good as a lot of more recent figures, but that said, they still aren't bad and I'm happy to have them on my table. Size-wise, they are also a good match for the Gripping Beast plastics and metals, so you could mix them into units without concern.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Battle Damaged Hutong Shops in 28mm

My hutong project is slowly trundling forward, with the addition of a damaged block inspired by the Battle of Shanghai.

I hadn't attempted battle damaged buildings before, so I decided it was best to start with a half size block in case it all went sideways as I figured out how to approach it. As such, this is just a straight row of three buildings, with two of them having suffered an artillery blast to the rear.

As with the previous builds, the buildings were created by wrapping texture paper around high density hobby foam. For the damaged edges, I cut the foam at rough, irregular angles, then painted them an appropriate base color. The brick patterned paper was cut into fingers, for lack of a better term, and wrapped over the edges using white household glue instead of glue sticks. I chose white glue for the higher water content, which allowed the paper to soften and warp so it better shaped over the edges. I used this finger technique on both sides of the walls, allowing the paper to overlap and hide as much of the foam as possible.

To create the rubble piles, I started with bits of scrap foam and used the same paper application system I used on the walls. The only major difference is I cut the brick paper into small, irregular shapes and applied them at odd angles to keep from getting a uniform brick pattern.  These were then glued into place. 

Atop the rubble bases, I applied a debris mixture of small rock obtained from the model train shop and 1:48 bricks produced by Juweela. To help with the blending of the materials and the paper texture, everything was given a wash with diluted paint of an appropriate color. The rubble bases were then given a thick coat of white glue and the debris sprinkled over the top. After this dried, a coating of Woodland Scenics' scenic cement was added for additional durability.

As before, I used appropriate looking advertising and signage to give it a period feel.

This is a Chinese herbal pharmacy using elements I photographed at the Hong Kong Museum of History.

A restaurant sign from one of the older neighborhoods in Kowloon.

Trying to get the damaged roofs looking irregular was one of the more challenging aspects for me. The base was thick card that needed to be cut with an X-acto blade, so it was difficult to create broken looking edges. To help hide this, I covered both the top and bottom with a printout of a roof underside, trimmed the tiles irregularly with some out of alignment, and glued broken coffee stirrers where beams would be. The edges were dry brushed with a warm tan to approximate raw wood, and everything was washed with Secret Weapon dark sepia to give it a bit of a scorched look.

Here are some better views of the rear so you can see the extent of the damage. To give a little more color pop to the rubble piles, I also included some broken tile and wood bits in addition to rock and bricks. 

I wanted access to the upper level, so added a section of ladder cut from Plastruct O Scale ABS Ladder.

For a more authentic look, I felt the rubble needed to spill out of the buildings and onto the streets. However, I was worried about the rubble breaking off during storage and transport, and also wanted the flexibility to remove the rubble to allow the buildings to sit against another block. As such, I made independent piles that could be pushed up against the walls and stored inside the pharmacy when not in use. They ended up not being perfectly flush with the walls, but I think they still look good overall. 

This first test build came out better than I expected, so I'm feeling a bit more comfortable attempting ruins. My next goal for the project will be to complete a sandbag bunker in a damaged building. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Khalkhin Gol: Japanese vs. Soviets

I've been playing a lot of Bolt Action as of late, and my buddy Art and I thought it would be fun to pit his Soviets against my IJA force using one of the the Khalkhin Gol scenarios from the Ostfront book.  For this game, the object is to control the hills on the table (3 points per hill) and eliminate opposing units (1 point per destroyed unit).

Round 1:

The Japanese mortar team opens with a smoke barrage to cover the two Manchukuoan cavalry squads advancing to the middle hill, while the Soviet flamethrower tank moves into position to launch a counter attack.

At the southern hill, a veteran IJA infantry squad and their lieutenant move to seize the high ground.  The Chi-Ha tank attempts to engage the Soviet tank, but fails to hit its target.

Disaster strikes the Japanese at the northern hill when the Soviet BA-6 destroys their transport, and the quad Maxims starts mowing down the surviving infantry.

The Soviets begin a counter push on both the northern and southern hills.

Round 2:

The wind has dissipated the smoke screen and before the Japanese mortar team can launch more, Soviet artillery inflicts heavy damage to one of the cavalry units.

The Chi-Ha again misses the Soviet tank, allowing it to attempt to flame the other cavalry unit. Luckily the Soviets suffer from poor aim as well. The cavalry dismount and set up light machine guns on the middle hill, firing on the advancing Soviet infantry.

Soviet infantry seizes the northern hill and pick off more of the IJA infantry. The Japanese attempt to assault the BA-6, but fail and are eliminated.

The Japanese have better luck on the southern hill, taking it unopposed and inflicting casualties on the Soviet infantry.

Round 3:

Japanese air support arrives in the form of a Ki-10. The Soviet anti-aircraft guns are too far away to be effective, allowing the plane to bomb a house full of infantry and pin other Soviets units in the area.

The Soviets call in an artillery barrage against the Japanese tank and infantry on the southern hill, but it fails to do any damage.

The Chi-Ha again tries to destroy the Soviet tank without luck, allowing the flamethrower tank to launch a successful attack on the Manchukuos.

The Soviets continue to pound the middle hill, but fail to dislodge the surviving cavalry troops.

The Japanese mortar team renews its smoke barrage in an attempt to conceal the Manchukuos from the Soviets.

On the southern hill, the lieutenant's orders go FUBAR, and the infantry unit mistakenly abandons the hilltop. 

Round 4:

Things are going from bad to worse for the Japanese this round. Soviet infantry finally manage to eliminate the cavalry from the middle hill, and rush to claim it for their own.

The Japanese artillery and a Type 94 tankette counter attack, but cannot slow the Soviet advance on the hill.

Preoccupied with the Soviet infantry, the Japanese artillery fail to notice the BA-6 moving in on their flank and pay for it with their lives.

On the southern hill, the Japanese lieutenant holds it alone and screams at his disorganized troops to return to the hilltop.

Round 5:

The Chi-Ha crew fails in their final attempt to destroy the flamethrower tank and are burned to a crisp.

The BA-6 stalks the mortar team, but is unsuccessful in getting a kill.

Soviet infantry attempt to assault the tankette, but are repelled and retreat up the hill, joining their comrades advancing from the other side. 

The Japanese retake the southern hill and begin exchanging gunfire with the Soviet troops.

Round 6:

The IJA mortar launches its last round at the Soviets on the middle hill, before the armored car finishes them off.

The tankette also launches a last attack on the Soviet infantry, dislodging one of two squads from the hill.

The flamethrower tank approaches the last Japanese infantry squad and sends them to a hellish end.

Despite the brutal loss, it was quite a fun game. The Japanese did fairly well for the first half, controlling 2 of the 3 hills, but I think the inability of the Chi-Ha crew to score a hit and eliminate the flamethrower tank spelled the death knell for the IJA.  Hopefully I'll have some better dice rolls next game.