Clearing out the Backlog

In an effort to maintain some balance and clear out the backlog of projects gathering dust in my workroom I finished up a couple of pieces that Ive mentioned on these pages before. First off is the pair of Israeli F-16A’s from GHQ. The models are the same high quality you can expect from GHQ but I’m not completely satisfied with my color mixes, or for that matter the application. At arm’s length their fine, at least for gaming purposes. I need to use an airbrush in the future.

1/285 Scale Israeli F-16A's. Models by GHQ

1/285 Scale Israeli F-16A’s. Models by GHQ

 

I’ve also finished the pair of Korean War USAF F-86’s also from GHQ.

1/285 scale F-86's. Models by Raiden Miniatures.

1/285 scale USAF F-86’s. Models by Raiden Miniatures.

 

Still on the workbench are a gaggle of aircraft from GHQ and Raiden Miniatures, now a part of I-94 Enterprises. Most of these will go towards my AIW collection. Not appearing in these photos are a pair of GHQ AH-7 Lynx still waiting to be primed.

 

1/285 Scale SU-7. Model by Raiden Miniatures.

1/285 Scale SU-7. Model by Raiden Miniatures.

 

1/285 Scale Mig-21. Model by Raiden Miniatures.

1/285 Scale Mig-21. Model by Raiden Miniatures.

 

1/285 Scale F-15C. Model by GHQ.

1/285 Scale F-15C. Model by GHQ.

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Bringing Balance

I thought I might take a moment and shift away from naval matters for a while and go back to micro armor. In this case it is really about aircraft for micro armor. I painted up a couple of F-16s from GHQ in Israeli Air Force colors. If you recall one of my first posts was a pair of Super Mysteres and Skyhawks from Raiden Miniatures painted in IAF colors as well. I really liked the colors I mixed for those planes so I was a bit disheartened to see that the paints had dried out completely. Off to my local hobby shop, the Newport Hobby House, to get some new paints. They had most of what I was looking for but the pale green just didn’t come out pale enough to match the previous aircraft. I’m not going to strip them and start over but I will adjust the color before I paint the F-15s and additional Skyhawks I have sitting around. Anyway, here are the F-16s.

!/285 Scale F-16As in Early IAF Camouflage Pattern. Models by GHQ.

1/285 Scale F-16As in Early IAF Camouflage Pattern. Models by GHQ.

 

I’m definitely going to have to tinker around with the colors some more. While I was doing the research for the Skyhawks I came across an interesting modification done by the IAF to help defeat SA-7 and other IR homing missiles. They attached an exhaust extension to the engine tailpipe which caused the missiles homing in on the heat plume to proximity detonate too far away from the fuselage to cause much damage. I have a pair of aircraft that will be modded shortly. Here’s a picture from a plastic kit.

Modified A-4 Skyhawk Tailpipe.

Modified A-4 Skyhawk Tailpipe.

 

On to the F-15s!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words or $3.00

In a recent post I mentioned that I have undertaken a project to rehab my entire fleet of modern carriers and large deck amphibs. Some of the work is the result of damage incurred during my many moves while in the military. As a consequence of that I had to order a bunch of replacement parts from GHQ. Main masts, radar platforms, that sort of thing. My initial conversation with them left something to be desired. The worker answering the phone demonstrated little knowledge of their products or policies and suggested I write an email request instead. In truth, it sounded like she didn’t want to deal with my request and the sooner I was off the phone the better. Three weeks and two unanswered emails later I decided to call back. The phone was answered by a woman, I wouldn’t swear that it was the same woman but the voice sounded very similar, who was very helpful and carefully explained their special order policy. This is not the first time I’ve made special orders but I appreciate the reminder that sometimes they have to do additional cast runs to fulfill the orders and therefore it may take more time and would not be returnable. Fine with me. All of the special order parts are priced to reflect this extra work. I was shocked however to find out that each of the CVN deck decals would cost me $8. Ah, I’ll find another way.

One of the vitally important items to me was a replacement CIWS/NATO SS sponson that was missing from a CVN I purchased on ebay many years ago. At the time I shaped one out of styrene that was a reasonable approximation and it has served that purpose well. Here is what I’m talking about.

Hand Made Sponson for STBD Side CIWS/NATO SS on GHQ CVN-71 Model.

Hand Made Sponson for STBD Side CIWS/NATO SS on GHQ CVN-71 Model.

So on the phone and in email I described this piece as the sponson forward of the deck elevators that mounts the CIWS and NATO SS. A few days later I received an email telling me my order was almost ready to ship out but the worker who packages up the parts wanted some clarification of exactly what part I was talking about. Awesome, I thought, now I’m sure to get the right part. My response was that what I needed was “the smaller part that mounts on the right side forward of the deck elevators, not the long piece” in reference to her question about the long piece that attaches on the port side of the ship. What I should have done was taken a picture because I forgot something.

Photo of STBD side of GHQ CVN-71 Model Showing Three Sponsons.

Photo of STBD side of GHQ CVN-71 Model Showing Three Sponsons.

Yes, there is a sponson under the island, one between the elevators and the one I wanted forward of the elevators. If I had taken this picture then I could have saved myself $3 and received the part I really need. Instead I got this:

Sponson Part from Between the Elevators on the STBD Side of GHQ CVN-71 Model

Sponson Part from Between the Elevators on the STBD Side of GHQ CVN-71 Model

No refunds. And I do recognize that I bear some of the blame, this is not intended to be a total rant against GHQ. I thought I was clear but I wasn’t looking at the part sheet and I didn’t send a picture of the part I wanted during the email exchange I was having with them. They were looking at a part I had frankly forgotten even existed so we ended up talking past each other. Live and learn. I guess I’ll have to order another replacement once I get a future order together. In the meantime if you ever wondered what $62 buys you in spare parts from GHQ here it is. Seven mainmasts, four radar stanchions, four radars, and the wrong sponson. Sometimes you have to really want to do a restoration to pay those prices.

Spare Parts for GHQ CVN-71 Restoration Projects. Mainmasts, Radar Masts, and the Wrong Sponson.

Spare Parts for GHQ CVN-71 Restoration Projects. Mainmasts, Radar Masts, and the Wrong Sponson.

This Just In…

After a longish hiatus I’ve come back to give you an update. Major projects underway at this time include a complete rehab/refurbish and repaint of my 1/2400 scale modern aircraft carriers and large deck amphibs. Originally these had their flight decks painted flat black. While this choice made the aircraft and deck decals stand out better it wasn’t realistic. With something like 15-20 ships, when I include the LHA/LHD classes, this has been a major undertaking. GHQ has informed me that my special order replacement parts should be going in the mail today so unfortunately that project will have to be a future post.

Another future post will cover my ongoing, if slow, attempt to paint my growing 1/6000 scale modern fleets. Currently, I have a collection of a little over 450 ships with another 20 due to arrive any day now. I’m struggling to paint them all and fix the carriers and build the naval base diorama (yet another future post)… I am about 25% complete overall, all of them are primed, most have their base hull color and now I’m going through, ship class by ship class, painting decks and details. Still not sure how I want to address the water effects for their little bases though.

So, if all of that lies in the future what is this post about? Well, occasionally when I have a bit of extra cash I look around to see what’s new from various manufacturers. Today I’m going to be featuring Viking Forge‘s Mini-Fleet line of 1/2400 scale warships. I’ll simply refer to them as VF. I have mentioned them before and they have some pretty interesting stuff in their product lines. If I understand their products correctly they are a licensed manufacturer of Sea Battle miniatures, from Austria, as well as making their own models. If you look in their catalog the items with numbers that begin “SB” are Sea Battle products and those without are VF products.

In general, all the products in the VF catalog are well proportioned, crisply cast and well detailed. You won’t find the hyper-detailing of GHQ’s products but you will see scale appropriate details. From time to time some of their models have moderate seam lines or flash as well as loss of crispness in the details. This is likely due to the age of the molds being used and affects all casting molds eventually. It would be interesting to find out if they have their own masters here in the U.S. or if they have to import new ones from Austria. Another company that carries Sea Battle in the U.S. is ALNAVCO. I talked to them years ago, before VF picked up the licensing, about this range and why it was so expensive. ALNAVCO imported their models from Austria so on average you’re paying almost $10 more per model. The catalog numbers are essentially the same. The models are the same, I have one ALNAVCO purchased JMSDF Oosumi LHA (catalog number SB353) and one purchased from VF (catalog number SB353). They are identical. ALNAVCO sells theirs at $23.50, when I bought it it was maybe half that. VF sells theirs for $6.95. I’ll leave it up to you.

Enough! On to the pictures. My most recent acquisitions are a pair of French Navy LaFayette frigates, a pair of RoC Navy Kang Ding frigates, a Wichita class AOR for the USN, and a pack of four Type 022 FAC for the PRC PLAN. The first three items are Sea Battle molds and the FAC are a VF creation. The Kang Ding’s are modifications of the French LaFayette class so I bought the French ships just to see if the VF marketers got out ahead of the modelers.  Here are the results and I hope you enjoy.

French Navy LaFayette Frigate. 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

French Navy LaFayette Frigate. 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

 

French Navy LaFayette Frigate. 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

French Navy LaFayette Frigate. 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

 

RoC Navy Kang Ding Frigate. 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

RoC Navy Kang Ding Frigate. 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

 

RoC Navy Kang Ding Frigate. 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

RoC Navy Kang Ding Frigate. 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

 

US Navy Wichita Replenishment Oiler. 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

US Navy Wichita Replenishment Oiler. 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

 

US Navy Wichita Replenishment Oiler. 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

US Navy Wichita Replenishment Oiler. 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

 

PRC Navy Type 022 FAC (Houbei Class). 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

PRC Navy Type 022 FAC (Houbei Class). 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

 

PRC Navy Type 022 FAC (Houbei Class). 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

PRC Navy Type 022 FAC (Houbei Class). 1/2400 Scale Model by Viking Forge

 

The Wichita models looks like it is showing signs of aging. The seam lines are more pronounced than I would have liked and the area around the flight deck looks like it has lost some detail over the years. Don’t get me wrong this is still a very good model I just think it might be getting a little long in the tooth.

Viking Forge 1/2400 Scale Wichita Class AOR Showing Minor Seam Slippage.

Viking Forge 1/2400 Scale Wichita Class AOR Showing Minor Seam Slippage and Detail Loss.

 

The new frigate models were very clean and crisp with very minor seam lines, on par with any manufacturer anywhere.

Viking Forge 1/2400 Scale Kang Ding and LaFayette Frigates Showing Very Minor Seam Lines on Flight Decks.

Viking Forge 1/2400 Scale Kang Ding and LaFayette Frigates Showing Very Minor Seam Lines on Flight Decks.

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The Cobler and the Elves

Some of you may remember the old fairy-tale about the Cobler and the elves.  For those that don’t remember (spoiler alert) elves come out at night to finish the work of the Cobler while he sleeps.  Lately that is how anything gets done around my house, at least any of the “geek stuff” that I want to do. I have to wait until the family is asleep and then the elves can get to work.  As you can imagine it doesn’t leave much time before they too get tired and have to go to sleep.

In that time however, I have been very active trying to convert my tanks with glued turrets into turrets with magnets.  I’ve detailed this process several times before so I won’t go over it again now. I’ve been converting essentially one company at a time so that on the off chance I actually get to play a game I can field a complete unit.  So far I have converted GHQ M1A2, M1A1, M60A3, M60A2, Leopard 2A6, Leopard 2A4, Leopard 1A4, Chieftain, Challenger, Challenger II, Merkava Mk IV, Merkava, Magach 3, Magach 6b GAL, Magach 7, M48, and M47 tanks. I have converted CinC M48G2 and Leopard 1A1 tanks as well. As you can see from the gallery I have also experimented with LAV and MRAP vehicles to see how small I could reasonably go. I absolutely love what the magnets can do. Unfortunately, now I have to go back and touch up the paint jobs.

 

I still might try to use magnets on the turrets of my WWII battleships but I haven’t decided yet for sure.

I’ve Got A Guy…

If you’ve ever lived the life of an Ex-pat far from your home country then you have probably experienced some level of culture shock.  It takes far longer to get even the most mundane tasks accomplished until you can figure out how things work.  Where can you get hobby paint? Or tools?  Or anything you need for that matter.  Often knowledge and wisdom come slowly – mostly through tribal knowledge.  When I lived in Bahrain it was a phenomenon I like to call “I’ve got a guy”.  You need your date palms pruned?  I’ve got a guy.  You need your son driven to rugby practice? I’ve got a guy.  You get the idea.  Well this is another post about decals, specifically 1/2400 scale ship decals.  If you need decals for an aircraft carrier, a modern PRC destroyer, or a U.S. cruiser…  I’ve got a guy.

Actually in this case it is two guys, Tanner and Brad.  Tanner handles the design and Brad does production and sales I believe.  Brad sells these decals through an ebay storefront known as Taskforce2400.  Copyright information on the decals will either say WWII Central, Tanner’s handle, or Taskforce2400.  To date all the decals in both the modern and WWII ranges are specifically sized for 1/2400 scale ships from GHQ.  The picture below offers some idea of the range of modern vessels covered.  The decals are full color which is both a benefit and a problem as will be shown a bit further down.  The selection is not limited to helo decks by the way.  In fact the LHD deck decals are some of the most detailed decals I’ve seen.  My latest LHD is still in progress so the big reveal will have to wait.  Additionally, Brad and Tanner have recently added RN Falklands campaign deck decals for the Type 42, 22, and 21 ships.  I have these on order but they haven’t arrived yet.

An array of modern deck decals for USN, RN, and PLAN ships from Taskforce2400.

An array of modern deck decals for USN, RN, and PLAN ships from Taskforce2400.

If you prefer WWII they offer a wide selection of carrier deck decals as well.  There are many more designs than the two included below including decals for Graf Zeppelin and Aquila.  Some of the decals are offered in slightly different designs which feature different color shading, air recognition symbols, or line markings.  I believe the goal is to be able to model any fleet carrier, light carrier, or escort carrier from the war.

Flight deck decal for GHQ 1/2400 Ark Royal by WWII Central.

Flight deck decal for GHQ 1/2400 Ark Royal by WWII Central.

1/2400 scale flight deck decal for USN CV-5 or CV-6.

1/2400 scale flight deck decal for USN CV-5 or CV-6.

Why is this important?  Well if you game with or collect modern warships you have to deal with aviation capable ships, after all helicopters are everywhere.  Until now there have been very few options.  Paint the lines yourself, find decals, or go without.  I certainly don’t have the talent to paint flight deck lines in this scale so that was a non-starter.  I don’t really want to go without if I can avoid it so that leaves decals.  I’ve tried to make my own decals with some success

1/2400 scale USCG Cutter by Viking Forge.  Decals by the author.

1/2400 scale USCG Cutter by Viking Forge. Decals by the author.

But making your own decals is hard and white lettering, marks, or lines don’t work very well unless you have access to an ALPS printer which I don’t.  Even my attempts to find a good used ALPS printer on ebay were totally frustrated.  So most of the time I went without as evidenced by the bare helo deck on the USCG Cutter.  Then in the mid 1990’s another option appeared, SeaBat Replicas.  For a while these were a godsend.  They offered a limited range – only the USN 1/2400 ships offered by GHQ were covered.  But there was one huge advantage SeaBat offered and that was hull numbers for the whole class and usually in three different colors.  The SeaBat decals were white lines on clear film so, unlike Taskforce2400 decals, whatever color you painted your deck would show through.  Here are some of the SeaBat decals still on the sheet.  It is hard to make out the white markings but they’re there.  In 1998 or so these stopped appearing on store shelves so I quickly bought out any remaining stock I could find in hobby shops or on ebay.

1/2400 scale deck markings for Ticonderoga class CG by SeaBat Replicas.

1/2400 scale deck markings for Ticonderoga class CG by SeaBat Replicas.

1/2400 scale model of Spruance DD by CinC, decals by SeaBat Replicas.

1/2400 scale model of Spruance DD by CinC, decals by SeaBat Replicas.

1/2400 scale model of Arleigh Burke DDG by GHQ, decals by SeaBat Replicas.

1/2400 scale model of Arleigh Burke DDG by GHQ, decals by SeaBat Replicas.

1/2400 scale model of Oliver H. Perry FFG by GHQ, decals by SeaBat Replicas.

1/2400 scale model of Oliver H. Perry FFG by GHQ, decals by SeaBat Replicas.

Here are the Taskforce2400 decals for comparison.

1/2400 scale model of Ticonderoga CG by GHQ, decals by Taskforce2400.

1/2400 scale model of Ticonderoga CG by GHQ, decals by Taskforce2400.

1/2400 scale model of Jiangkai II by GHQ, decals by Taskforce2400.

1/2400 scale model of Jiangkai II by GHQ, decals by Taskforce2400.

So here you can see one of the problems of the Taskforce2400 approach.  My old flat black flight decks are not technically correct in terms of  accurate color representation.  Personally these are more game pieces than museum pieces so I don’t worry about it that much.  When you use decals which have the deck color included it can really stand out if it doesn’t match you planned deck color.  The Jiangkai II for example looks kind of wonky because the blue gray deck color referenced from pictures here does not match the gray of the flight deck decal.  The white balance of the photo above is a little off but the deck decal matches nicely with the gray of other photos of Jiangkai IIs just not the pictures I chose to use.  So who is right?  Well it looks kind of silly so I’ll probably have to strip the ship down and repaint to match the decal.  Guess I should have waited to paint the ship until after I had seen the decal. Oh well.

I really like these decals and I love that the range is continually expanding.  If I could have one wish it would be for them to expand their coverage to the Viking Forge line of 1/2400 scale ships as well.  Unfortunately because they can’t print pure white decals I don’t think they’ll be able to make hull numbers anytime soon.  One other note about applying the decals.  If you use the Micro-Sol/Micro-Set approach be aware that the decals will bubble and wrinkle and generally look like an epic fail but will then smooth out very nicely.  Don’t get too anxious and start trying to smooth it out or move it around.  If you can’t resist you stand an excellent change of tearing or stretching the decal.  Good luck and I hope you enjoy.

 

In The News…

This week I’m taking a step back from my own work to highlight some recent news in the hobby industry.  Admittedly it is a bit of a cop out but with Carnivale last weekend there wasn’t much time to do more.

First up is I-94 Enterprises, one of go to favorites for storage boxes and 1/285 scale aircraft.  You may recall that I’ve previously mentioned that Dave WInfree purchased Raiden MIniatures.  Their latest news release states that they’ve brought several models back into production. Most interesting to me are the Grumman F9F Cougar and the Gloster Javelin.  While neither aircraft saw real combat there were ‘what-if’ scenarios that could have resulted in combat engagements for the Javelin and they’re both cool looking aircraft.  During the early 1960’s Javelins were stationed in Singapore to support Commonwealth forces in the ‘Konfrontasi’ between the British Commonwealth and Indonesia over the creation of Malaysia.  Indonesia operated mostly Soviet aircraft designs it could be an interesting scenario for fans of early cold war kit.

Next item is an announcement from author and game designer Larry Bond. Here is their announcement:

Larry Bond and Chris Carlson are pleased to announce the formation of the Admiralty Trilogy Group, LLC, a Virginia limited liability corporation. The Admiralty Trilogy Group (ATG) are the exclusive publishers of the award-winning Admiralty Trilogy wargame system, games that span naval combat in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. These include:
· Harpoon (1955 and later, up to current day)
· Command at Sea (1925 through World War II and up to 1955)
· Fear God and Dread Nought (1905 through World War I and up to 1925)
The new company will publish wargames in digital format, using the Internet to deliver quality products through the Wargame Vault. We have over twenty titles available for sale, and will be expaning the list in the coming days.
Our biannual newsletter, the Naval SITREP, will continue publication. Issues 14 (April 1998) through 47 (October 2014) are available for sale at The Wargame Vault. Content in earlier issues will be condensed and published in an upcoming product. Current subscriptions with Clash of Arms will be honored, but will not be renewed. Instead of a $21.00 subscription for three issues ($28 overseas), each new issue will be posed on The Wargame Vault for $3.00.
In addition to the Trilogy product line previously published by Clash of Arms, Inc., The AT Group will be expanding and improving the game system with new naval and land-based rules sets, all designed to work with the current system and enhance your gaming experience.
The AT Group can be reached either at our email, AdTrGroup@aol.com, or on our Facebook page.
Our webpage, AdmiraltyTrilogy.com, will be up soon. We hope you will come and visit.

For the uninitiated Larry is the techno-thriller author who is also the creator of the Harpoon naval wargame system.  While sometimes maligned by gamers as ‘too technical’ or ‘too complicated’ for casual gaming the system was used extensively,at least in the 80’s and 90’s, within the U.S. Navy to teach basic naval warfare concepts to officer candidates.  What began as a modern naval combat system has expanded and evolved through the other games of the Admiralty Trilogy to encompass all naval warfare from about 1900 to the present.  The Admiralty Trilogy staff have been ‘unifying’ all the underlying equations for damage, construction etc. across the entire spectrum.  Does it matter to the average gamer that the data sheet for their HMS Agamemnon battleship of 1906 is calculated on the same basis as their HMS Agamemnon minelayer of 1940 or their HMS Agamemnon nuclear powered submarine of the present day? Probably not.  For me however it is significant.  After all, haven’t you ever wanted to game out the Final Countdown attack where the Nimitz class carrier travels back to Dec 1941 and must decide whether to intercept the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor.