Bostons and the Irish cops

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I’m having a great painting month.  And with a four day weekend approaching (for this teacher, at any rate,) and nothing much planned, I’m looking forward to a great painting weekend.

First on my completion pile is the C in C Boston bombers.  These are American built bombers built by Douglas.  Primarily light bombers or attack planes and given the designation A-20A, many were flown by the Brits as Boston II’s.  I chose to paint them in a North Africa/Mediterranean scheme.  They are my entire British RAF representatives for this theater.  Maybe I need more. It will encourage me to paint my GHQ Hurricane II’s I’ve had sitting around for decades.

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The miniatures are by C in C. The minis have lines that are really clean and I like that.  However, they are bit short of detail.  Overall nice, but lacking a little bit, or the scribing so light for the control surfaces I simply painted out the detail The camouflage is Vallejo Desert Yellow as a base, with Vallejo Military green.  I dry brushed over the whole business with white to lighten up the colors a bit and then black washed the lot. The undersurface is painted with Vallejo Light Grey.  The paint scheme is out of the book Flying Colours.

I’ll probably add two more at a future time so I have four planes to work with.  That’s the minimum.

I’ve also completed nine of the Musketeer/Footsore Royal Irish Constabulary figures. These are figures I really enjoyed painting, probably because they are really easy.  With their dark green 20th century uniforms, there isn’t a whole lot to them.  I used Vallejo Military Green as the base color and did my best to highlight them, but they are still pretty dark. I painted their cartridge belts black, which may be a no-no, but I have no photos to refer to for this equipment, and all other belting was black and the Auxies most definitely wore black cartridge belts.

What’s on my painting table?

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From the RIC to WWII at sea.  I’ve assembled and primed four of the Skytrex-now ROS/Heroics-Siebel ferries.  I had a couple I purchased during our St. Nazaire prep last year. I added a two more in December. They’ll go with my 1/600 coastal collection.  They served in the Mediterranean, the Baltic and the Channel coasts.  A unique catamaran vessel they were designed for the invasion of Britain in 1940.  They were designed as amphibious landing craft, and could carry about 100 tons of cargo, including trucks and tanks.  Experimentation with propulsion systems included truck engines and aircraft engines. All were armed at least with light AA weapons, and some were armed with multiple 88mm guns.

After that, it’s on to a couple of much larger vessels, the German Wolf class torpedo boat we’ll use in the Channel Dash scenario. The second vessel is a British V & W class destroyer.  I’ve decided to do the Wolf in light gray with a white bow wave camo.  The British destroyer I’m going to color up a bit in a Western Approaches color scheme which includes a white hull and markings in pastel green and light blue gray.  No point in tedium.

After the ships it will be on to do the first unit of Rohirrim for Dragon Rampant.  These will all be Mithril miniatures I bought during the early 1990’s, so needless to say they’ve been waiting around for a paint job for a while. Then it will be hydroplanes and assembling some Crosley tenders for my Irish project. I have one model by Sloppy Jalopy and two more by Company B miniatures.  I’ll cross my fingers and trust to luck.

Less is more

I did make one purchase.  I picked up a pair of Passaic class monitors from Thoroughbred.  Just wanted to fill out what I have. This will give me three monitors from a class of ten. I won’t need any more.  I suspect another order in the not too distant future-probably a Canonicus class monitor and the Civilian Purchased Screw steamer variant of the always useful Yankee Gunboat model.  Any variety of steamer I can put my hands on is a bonus.

That makes me a +11-2 for this time, and a + 19 for the year.

And a quick plug

I’ve been buying 1/600 scale ACW ships from Throughbred Figures since they issued the Albemarle almost 25 years ago.  I’ve always loved owner/designer Toby Barrett’s work. It is of high quality, sturdy and for an all metal miniature, very fairly priced.  Now Toby has added superb customer service.  I ordered my monitors on Monday and they were in my mailbox today (Friday.) For the record, Virginia Beach, the home of Thoroughbred Figures, is about as far as one can be from beautiful Puyallup Washington, and remain in the continental United States.  Check it out here.

Pages afloat

Normally I would be sharing some awesome music with you.  Unfortunately my listening habits have been detoured by my decision to binge watch The X-Files.  Sick? A waste of time? Absolutely, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. But for the next post, I promise I’ll share a review of Zephyr, by the band of the same name.  Haven’t heard of them?  Well, you will soon.

However, I have bought a few books recently, all of them related to naval warfare in a couple of different periods. Note:  I have read none of them yet, but two are relatively new, and worth knowing about.

51j13gnZ0mL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_Henry V’s Navy: The Sea Road to Agincourt and Conquest 1413-1422 .  by Ian Friel To suggest that books about the Hundred Years War at sea are as rare as hen’s teeth may be giving too much credit to the hens. The only other book-length study I’m aware of is 2011’s Edward III and The War at Sea, 13227-1377 and is pretty much worth a king’s ransom (and somehow I missed it when it came out, sniff.)  I determined not to be shut out when this book became available on February 1, and promptly ordered a copy.  The small volume was not over-priced, and I’m hoping to read it soon. Henry V was a noted shipbuilder and vastly increased the size of the fleet that virtuallydisappeared during the reign of Richard II.

51CezmtWcJL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The Civil War at Sea by Craig Symonds.  Symonds’ name may ring a bell.  He’s a prolific writer, best known for his military atlases, but he’s written about many military topics, including the naval aspects of the Civil War.  He tackles this massive topic thematically rather than chronologically, focusing on the changing nature of ships and armament, the blockade, commerce raiding, war on the rivers, the attack on ports (using Charleston as an example) and the success of the Union naval strategy. The book has only 170 pages of text, so it tends not to get hung up on detail, so if that is your desire this may not be the book for you.  But as a thematic interpretation of the Civil War on the water, it could do the trick.

61yXPXIuvrL._SY454_BO1,204,203,200_The Confederate Steam Navy by Donald Canney.  I have only ordered this book and haven’t received it yet.  But I have been angling for a copy since it was released on December 9th.  Canney’s book on the Confederate Navy is supposed to mirror his brilliant two volume study of the The Old Steam Navy that went out of print in the ’90’s.  These are books I constantly consult and I believe the new book will be just as useful.  So much of what is written about the Confederate Navy is conjectural while Canney’s work always seems to be anything but.  It covers all types of vessels from the ironclad rams to blockade runners, and as with his previous work, will be crammed with illustrations and photos, some not previously published.  I’m excited.  Hoping it arrives from Amazon today.

 

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And now, my little air force

I put the finishing touches on this little bunch of planes for the Channel Dash.  It’s 16-six Spitfires, six Beaufort bombers, and four Whirlwinds. Together with the Betty bombers, that’s twenty planes and a good way to start the new year.

The Raiden planes were all purchased for the Enfilade project, but the Bettys were all quite old, so it’s nice to take the occasion to get some old stuff done too.

Just as a general review, the Raiden planes were the nicest 1/300 miniatures I’ve ever painted.  The Beaufort in particular, one of the newest Raiden planes, was incredibly well detailed, solid, really a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend them.

I also want to offer props to I-94 for their improved British decals.  As I stated in my previous post, working with decals can be hard.  Some of my friends, commenting on my post, have suggested it is too hard. I-94 replaced their BR-100 decal sheet with two new sheets, BR-107 and BR-111.  I believe I put on something like 144 separate decals from the BR-111 sheet.  I liked so many things about them, but the three biggest are: 1) the color is vastly superior to previous sheets, 2) these sheets offered a wide variation of roundels and tail flashes not previously available, 3) they were extremely easy to use, sliding off their transfer sheets within seconds. Just really good stuff, and highly recommended.

I’m done painting planes for the time being. But I really enjoyed doing them. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so happy painting anything as when I finished these planes for the Channel Dash + Bettys.

I reorganized all my painted planes to better care for them and I’ve included pictures.  Basically my planes fall into a few categories:

  1. Taiwan vs. Peoples Liberation Air Force.  50 jet aircraft for a hypothetical conflict between Taiwan and China in 1995. Includes a few American planes in case of intervention.
  2. Cuban Missile Crisis–I put together a project I ran at Enfilade back in the ’90’s.  Look for the current 25 planes to get much larger in the next year as I take another stab with much better miniatures. Many of the American planes are now available from Raiden–my current crop are from the old, disappeared and not lamented Skytrex range. Also some long forgotten SDD miniatures, including a pair of British F-4K Phantoms and Buccaneers before the RN fleet carriers went away.
  3. Fleet Air Arm–40 planes, all Scotia miniatures.  Most I painted for an Enfilade game I hosted in 2001.  They were painted with Polly S paints, that sadly I can no longer get. So when I thought needed some more Fairey Barracudas for our Tirpitz attack, I went with a different camo scheme.
  4. Channel Dash–I’ve written ad nauseum about these planes already.  This box has 25 planes including five Scotia Lancaster bombers with Grand Slam bombs, just in case the Tirpitz is lurking nearby.
  5. The Rising Sun–I have a pile of various Japanese planes.  No real rhyme or reason.  Some A6M2 and A6M5 Zeroes, Nell and Betty bombers, early war Claudes, Franks a Nick and a host of other young men just begging for something to do.  33 planes
  6. WWII Americans–another box of random planes, but lots of them.  A PBY Catalina, a B-25, B-26, B-17, a navy PB4Y-1 Privateer, perfect for one off suicide missions.  Australian P-40K’s, AVG P-40C’s, a bunch of P-39’s, a couple of A-20G’s.  F4F’s and F6F’s and Avengers in navy blue.  But my favorite are the Devastators in pre war colors (just because they were fun to paint. And shouldn’t that be the point?) 25 planes in all.

I have lots more to paint.  Tons of Spanish Civil War planes-lots of Navwar/ROS planes I’m not sure will ever get painted.  More WWII, including some Germans–you might have noticed the lack thereof in my collection.  More jets, more American WWII planes.

I broke one of my own rules and actually counted my painted planes.  It comes out to about 210.  I don’t often spend tons of time painting airplanes, but given how much I enjoy it, I should spend more time working on them.

What’s Next?

Today I’ll put my planes away and return to work on 14 IRA gunmen from my Irish Civil War project. They are kind of dragging along and I want to finish them and tuck them away because there are other things that are making me itchy:

  • I should soon have a small order from ROS/Heroics with my Swordfish torpedo bombers and a pair of Siebel ferries. The Swordfish go with the Channel Dash project, I will have four Siebel ferries to finish, together with a 1/600 V and W destroyer and a German torpedo boat that is needed for the ship attack portion of Channel Dash.
  • I’ve been bitten by the Dragon Rampant bug.  My next post will be a fairly lengthy overview of my thoughts and plans for this project.

Music to Paint To

There’s not a ton of music to come to America from Australia and achieve a lot of commercial success.  ACDC for sure, Colin Hay’s excellent Men at Work for a short time, The Little River Band for your pop music fix.  But one band that is sadly overlooked is The Divinyls.  Really the Divinyls was just a twosome, vocalist Chrissy Amphlett and guitarist Mark McEntee who surrounded themselves with a rotating crew of backing musicians.  You might remember them from MTV (when MTV did music videos) and their 1991 naughty hit song “I Touch Myself.” Amphlett’s unique vocal performance and her utterly sensual stage performances, together with McEntee’s New Wave inspired guitar style produced some solid pop music.

What a Life!

I’ve always really liked their music style, and listened to some of their stuff on YouTube and MP3’s.  So when I ran across a $7 copy of 1985’s What a Life!, I grabbed it.  There are some solid songs there, with “Pleasure and Pain” about BDSM, and public apathy about protecting missing young girls in Australia in “Good Die Young.” The music throughout is mid-80’s New Wave influenced pop.  McEntee’s guitarwork is solid and never overdone, always lending a bit of an edge to Amphlett’s memorable vocals. It was a wise. buy.

I’ll almost certainly pick up a copy of the Divinyl’s first record from 1983, Desperate.  I know where it can be had for a fair price.  Unfortunately, their best record, The Divinyls, with their MTV hit, is really hard to get on vinyl because by 1991 the industry was making its way to CD’s and was never pressed as an LP in the U.S. That means a foreign purchase with all the expense of shipping. Ick.

Just as a side note, as I was researching a bit for this writing I learned that Amphlett died in 2013 of breast cancer after fighting for years against multiple sclerosis. She was 53.  Good die young.

From heraldry to railroad ties: my gamer’s life

I’m a very project oriented gamer.  Almost everything I work on has a beginning and an end, based on its intended purpose. When Enfilade is over in May I’m almost always geared toward what I’m going to do for the next Enfilade. I’ve mentioned my Enfilade projects already, and at some time I’m sure I’ll go into depth about them.  But I’ve shifted gears away from my Lion Rampant stuff, which I really enjoy painting so something a little less interesting and exciting, painting 1/600 scale bits and pieces for a scenario based on the Raid on St. Nazaire.

For those of you who don’t know this action, it was a WWII raid on the French port of St. Nazaire which possessed a strategically important drydock built for the enormous French liner Normandie, the only one big enough on the French coast capable of servicing the German battleship Tirpitz.  The British feared the Germans would move the Tirpitz there where it could menace shipping, the British coast and control of the English Channel.  If you want to really set the Brits off, threaten control of the Channel.

On March 28, 1942 a combined force of British commandos were ferried into St. Nazaire by motor gunboats and an explosives-laden ex-American destroyer, the Campbelltown.  Their mission was to destroy the massive caissons of the dry dock as well as operating machinery and industrial targets in the dock area.  The Germans defended the port apparatus with dozens of automatic cannon and about 6,000 men. The raid succeeded in the sense that the Campbelltown detonated and destroyed the caisson while loaded with celebrating German officials, but the raiding force was largely forced into captivity and the motor gunboats and smaller vessels were mostly non-factors.

Dave and I plan to recreate the St. Nazaire raid, including the Campbelltown and supporting MGB’s, emphasizing mostly the role of the commandoes.  The players will run the British while the Germans are more or less randomly run.

Our challenge as game designers is to reproduce all the dock goodies, including buildings, railyards, teeny, tiny figures and the vessels involved.  After our last meeting, it looks like Dave and I are agreed on using rules inspired by the Raid on St. Nazaire board game published by Avalon Hill many years ago.  We’ve worked together on many projects, and I always look forward to our collaborations.  Dave is the brains of the outfit, and often takes on the bigger modeling pieces.  I usually take on more of the smaller bits. For example, when we did our Tirpitz game a couple of years ago, it was Dave who took on the battleship, while I worked the Fleet Air Arm stuff.

This game is a little different.  We’ll be trying to recreate portions of a large port city, including living areas, industrial and warehouse districts, rail lines and buildings, as well as bridges, canals, lock-gates, and, of course, the enormous dry dock caissons and the ephemera that go with them.

I wish I was an awesome scratchbuilder who could make all this stuff myself, but alas I am not.  So, I’ve been acquiring 1/600 scale buildings from a variety of sources.  One source I really like is the old Skytrex range of ships and buildings. They are all in metal, which I like a lot, but they are also spendy.  Another complication is that Skytrex folded last year and have since been acquired by Ros/Heroics.  I’ve made a couple of orders to them and found them easy to work with, but their goodies are priced in pounds and shipping is significant. I’ve included pictures of some of the items I’ve received.

Another important supplier I’m using is PicoArmor.  If it wasn’t for this project, it’s a company I would have overlooked.  Pico does a lot of work with WWII and Modern 1/600 ground and air combat.  But they also carry some wonderful buildings in that scale from Brigade games. I’ve ordered their industrial buildings and railroad bits, as well as their own 2mm (as in eeny-teeny) figures needed to play the game.

Railway buildings by Brigade Miniatures.  Eeny teeny, but oh so necessary

Railway buildings by Brigade Miniatures. Eeny teeny, but oh so necessary

Railroad tracks by Brigade.  Without question the most tedious thing I've ever painted, period the end.

Railroad tracks by Brigade. Without question the most tedious thing I’ve ever painted, period the end.

Some of the Pico buildings are really small, so Dave and I are also exploring some of the buildings made by Bay Area Yards for their ACW naval range.  I really like Bay, and I really like their buildings.  They are more substantial than the Pico structures, but there is also the question of size and scale.  They may be out of scale, but sometimes it’s important to have something larger and more detailed for our failing eyesight to look at than be just so on something so small.  I’ve included pictures of the warehouses I’ve completed to give you an idea of what they are like as well as a comparison shot with the Pico buildings. Bay casts in resin, and their buildings are nice, and quite inexpensive.  The resin poses a few problems with bubbles and such, but they’re hard to pick out when the miniature is this small.

Bay one

This is a big change from painting my beloved Hundred Years War miniatures, but I’m also very excited about this project.  I’m hoping it will be as good a game and as pretty a project as the Tirpitz affair.  When I’m ready for a bit of a change I’ll share the building of the PT Dockyard vessels awaiting construction.