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.

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!

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.

New Digs (Part Deux)

Hard to believe I’ve been AWOL since August March but that was when the world changed and I found out I was getting short fused tasking to move (again).  So everything gets packed up and shipped out.  If you’ve never moved overseas it takes a while for your things to arrive by ship…  a long while.  Which I guess is the origin of the phrase ‘a slow boat to China’…

That was, more or less, how one of my previous posts started. Short notice move, everything packed up, takes soooo long, yada, yada, yada. Once was bad but after only fifteen months or so in Italy we found out that yes it can happen twice. Well we’re here now (and so is my stuff), enjoying the beginning of a New England winter. The kids are settled into a chaotic routine so off to do stuff I like to do. I have a lot of catching up to do. Lots of ideas and right now lots of time.

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.

IDF Colors?

I have struggled for several years to find just the right shade of gray?, green?, tan? for my modern IDF forces.  My Google-fu reveals scores of pictures from Al Gore’s internet depicting IDF vehicles in a wide array of colors.  It is difficult to account for differences in sun angle, unit location, or whether the vehicle was photographed on a parade ground or during an actual combat operation.  No clear winner as far as color goes. Strike One!

So… I move on to step two: check the fora.  The Miniatures Page, Arab Israeli Wars, GHQ, and four or five others were not much more help.  Lots of opinions but little consensus.  ‘It Depends’ was probably the most common response.  What year?  Which unit?  Which front?  Which operation?  Well at least the diversity of opinion matches the diversity of photographic evidence.  Strike Two!

There was one positive development out of all of that however.  Several forum members suggested hobby paint manufacturers, such as Life Color, that offer pre-mixed IDF colors for specific time periods.  Progress!

But here’s the thing.  When the Lord gives with one hand watch out he doesn’t smite you down with the other.  In spite of the fact that I live in Italy, where I’ve been told Life Color paints are made, I can’t easily get my hands on them. There are precious few hobby shops in my area and those I have managed to find don’t carry Life Color paint.  Damn!  And for the double whammy military postal rules seem to scare online stores away from shipping hobby paint to APO/FPO addresses.

All of that is pretty disappointing.  Maybe there is a hidden silver lining.  Given the fact that there are so many different opinions and so many different photos out there it is possible there isn’t one right way to do it.  Perfect!  I Can now use one of my favorite modeling approaches… TLAR (That Looks About Right)!

Here are my Namers and my Magachs (with turret magnets) in my own version of IDF gray/green/tan.  The white chevron decals are from GHQ and the white barrel stripe decals are from an unknown source.

1/285 scale IDF Namer Heavy APC.  Model and white chevron decals by GHQ

1/285 scale IDF Namer Heavy APC. Model and white chevron decals by GHQ

1/285 scale Magach 6B Gal. Model and white chevrons by GHQ.

1/285 scale Magach 6b and Namer Heavy APC.

 

Everything Old is New Again

Just to show that it isn’t all naval all the time here’s an update on my IDF forces.  I picked up a pack of GHQ’s new release, the Magach 3.  As with most of their offerings I liked this one right off the bat.  I’ve always loved the classic M48 lines, the boat-hull bow, the beefy tracks and suspension, and the big cast turret that says ‘I dare you to knock this off’.  Yes, yes, I know that in actual combat they suffered from a number of serious flaws…  but they look so cool!

The rare earth magnets worked so well on the GHQ Magach 6b Gal that I put these models through the same process.  I made sure that they all had the same polar orientation this time.  Here are some shots of the process.

Underside of turret with turret pin.

Underside of turret with turret pin.

Existing turret pin removed.

Existing turret pin removed.

Turret pin drilled out to accept 3mm magnet.

Turret pin drilled out to accept 3mm magnet.

Undersife of hull showing existing turret pin hole.

Undersife of hull showing existing turret pin hole.

Hull turret pin hole bored out to accept 3mm magnet turret pin.

Hull turret pin hole bored out to accept 3mm magnet turret pin.

5mm magnet glued to underside of hull.

5mm magnet glued to underside of hull.

Completed hull and turret. Now fully rotating but removable.

Completed hull and turret. Now fully rotating but removable.

The Magach 3 and Magach 6b Gal side by side.

The Magach 3 and Magach 6b Gal side by side.

Now it is just a question of getting them primed and painted.

 

Dead End Projects

     A dead end project is when I have an idea for a kitbash or scratchbuild vehicle that I have a particular need for but somewhere along the way one of the existing manufacturers decides to produce one themselves.  The first project that has been overcome by events (OBE) that I would like to share with you is my conversion of GHQ Ferret Mk I turret-less scout cars into Ferret Mk II with the .30 cal MG turret.

     In 2010 GHQ published their production plans for the 2010-2011 product year and they scheduled a February 2011 release date for the Ferret Mk I.  This was excellent news!  I was working on early Cold War armies and needed some light scouts for the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) and other areas.  The problem was I didn’t really need the Mk I version which was turret-less and open topped. 

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     What I wanted was the Mk II version with the small machine gun turret.

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     After doing a little bit of research I learned that the Saracen 6×6 armored personnel had an identical turret.

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     There is also an ambulance version of the Saracen which doesn’t have a turret.

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     Perfect!  I had some extra Saracens anyway so I decided to carefully cut the turret of the Saracen and graft it onto the Ferret after filling in the crew compartment with putty.  The ‘leftover’ Saracens would then become ambulances.  I didn’t need more than a handful of Saracen ambulances so this conversion process was never going to get me to the 40+ Mk II Ferrets I hoped to have but it would be a start.

     Here are the excellent Mk I Ferrets from GHQ with their crew compartments filled in with putty.

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  Here is the primed Mk II Ferret with its new turret ready for BAOR green and black camo pattern.

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     It was at about this point in the project when GHQ announced their production plans for the 2011-2012 product year.  They had a Ferret Mk II scheduled for release in October 2011.

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     Suddenly, there was no advantage to kitbashing any further Mk II’s.  I guess that was a good thing since it should have given me the time to work on other projects.

More Magnet Madness

     Well as promised I’m back with the IDF Magach 6B tanks from GHQ to modify them with rare earth magnets which should hold the turrets securely but allow free rotation.  Prior to my introduction to these magnets I had always glued the turrets of my tanks.  It wasn’t as visually appealing on the game table but it was a much more secure way to store and transport them.  Moving every couple of years to various far-flung military assignments that was an important consideration.  In fact these tanks had their turrets glued in place before I started this modification.  Here’s a cool tip I learned on the GHQ forums – if you use CA glue (crazy glue) you can weaken the bond to separate the turret by placing the miniature in the freezer.  It worked very well on these tanks and the Canadian Leopard 2A6AM tanks which will also undergo modification.

     The first thing you have to do is decide how you want to employ the magnets.  The GHQ forums have several different suggestions.  Some place the magnet in the turret peg and glue a piece of ferrous metal under the hull.  Some place the magnet under the hull and glue a piece of ferrous metal in the turret pin.  Others use magnets in both the hull and the turret.  That is the method that I will be using here.  As always it is critical to make sure you glue the magnets in place with the proper polar alignment.  Another important tip – while the glue for the magnets cure don’t move any other magnets anywhere near the model or it will cause the magnet to flip, fly out or otherwise dislodge itself.  Don’t ask how I know this.

     To use two magnets I decided to use 3mm x 1mm magnets in place of the turret peg and use 4mm x 1mm magnets under the hull.  Why those sizes?  Its what I had on hand.  Since this is my first attempt there are some lessons learned.  For series production I would choose 3mm x 1.5 or 2mm for the turret peg.  This would give enough depth of recess in the turret to hold securely while still providing some ‘peg’ to insert in the hole in the hull.  

     First step is to remove the existing turret peg and drill a shallow hole in its place to recess the magnet in the turret.

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     If you look close you can see the CA glue residue on the bottom of the turret.  I should have been more careful and removed all of it.  I learned in the next step that when gluing the magnet in place the CA glue bonds to the residue not the metal and as a result the magnet was not secure and took much longer to cure.  Of course cure time might be because I was using crap glue.

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  With the turret complete its time to work on the hull.  The hole for the turret peg has to be bored out to 3mm to accommodate the magnet serving as the turret peg.  I use a pin-vise drill with a 3mm Dremmel bit.  The Dremmel bit is meant for high speed operation so it doesn’t bite very deep and it takes a while to grab hold and drill into the turret.  This is actually a good thing as it gives you a great deal of control on how deep you actually go.  Test fit often to ensure the recess is deep enough to hold the magnet but still leave some exposed to act as the turret peg.  This is why I would use slightly longer magnets in the future.  Here’s the hull drilled out.

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     On the underside of this particular model there is a small depression around the hole as you can see.  Using 4mm magnets they just bridge over this gap to cover the hole but there is limited purchase for the glue.  If I had it to do over and I had different magnet sizes I would use 5mm magnets under the hull.  The GHQ forum members report great success just gluing a bit of ferrous metal under the hull.  I tested a couple of different items but found they were more trouble cutting them down to size than it was worth.  Your mileage may vary.

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     With the glue dry on turret and hull its time to test fit.  Turns out I didn’t follow my own advice and one of the turret and hull combos have their magnet poles reversed with respect to the others.  The turret and hull match each other but the turret won’t work on the other hulls and vice versa.  Maybe I’ll just make it a command tank or something like that.

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     The magnet to magnet bond is strong enough to lift the miniature by the turret or barrel but I definitely don’t recommend this as standard practice.

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     Here is the lot of them complete and ready for the paint shop!

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New Arrivals, well not completely new but…

I wanted to shift gears a little bit and go back to 1/285 micro armor.  I have some of the 2012-13 model year vehicles from GHQ that I would like to share.  Some I think are quite good and others just aren’t.  All of them are high quality and ultra detailed, which you would expect from GHQ.  But one in particular just seems too big.  So why not start with that one.  Before the reveal however, I want to say that I’m a huge Bundeswehr fan.  I have all the models currently available and have scratchbuilt or kitbashed numerous others.  So I eagerly awaited the release of the Puma, which is to replace the Marder in active service.  Unfortunately this has been a marketing nightmare for GHQ.  If you’re interested you can read all about it on the GHQ forum but in a nutshell here’s what happened.  Initial release have five roadwheels and the reaction from the forum experts was highly critical.  That’s the proto-type we want the real deal.  So GHQ called a do-over and released a model with six roadwheels.  But when the first ones reached customers hands the forum lit up and sales went to all stop.  This thing is huge!  Much larger than the Marder it is replacing.  Much larger than the Leopard 2A6 tank it will serve along side.  Debate raged over what the actual dimensions are and what the scale error is etc. etc.  The debate was complicated by the fact that no online sources had the same data because there are modular armor packages that change the dimensions considerably.  What is the real baseline height and width?  I don’t know and neither does GHQ but they’re sticking to their guns and aren’t going to change the design again unless proven wrong.  Well until I know how far off it is or even if it is off scale I’m not buying any more of these.  If you’re a Sci-Fi fan however these are fantastic.

Puma IFV - GHQ Miniatures

Puma IFV – GHQ Miniatures

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With this next item GHQ redeemed themselves.  Following the global trend of making lighter, easily transportable wheeled APCs the Bundeswehr has also adopted into service the Boxer.  This eight wheeled vehicle is broadly similar to the Stryker family of vehicles now in use in the U.S.  More of these are definitely on my shopping list.

Boxer APC - GHQ Miniatures

Boxer APC – GHQ Miniatures

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Staying with German manufacturers for a moment the next model is the Canadian version of the German Leopard 2A6 main battle tank.  I ordered this when it was first released but before any catalog pictures were available on GHQ’s website.  I had hoped that the additional slat armor was etched brass similar to the kits available for GHQ Stryker vehicles.  I was a little disappointed when I received the product and it was an integral part of the mold.  My main issue is how to paint it.  Can’t really show the camouflage pattern behind the slats so I guess I’m going to have to go with O.D.

Leopard 2A6M CAN - GHQ Minitaures

Leopard 2A6M CAN – GHQ Miniatures

 

Staying with the heavy metal theme I’ll move along to one of my favorite models of recent years, the Magach 6B Gal.  The Israeli army comes up with some wacky and wild upgrades to old favorites.  The designs show a healthy respect for the dangers of fighting in built up terrain, lots of reactive armor and machine guns for personnel suppression.  This M-60 upgrade is no exception.  These tanks will be featured in a future piece on magnets and rotating turrets.

Magach 6B Gal - GHQ Miniatures

Magach 6B Gal – GHQ Miniatures

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The last model I want to talk about is the Nayla RG-31. The RG-31 is one of many MRAP vehicles that have proliferated throughout the U.S. military.  GHQ has a large range of MRAP vehicles which I think are pretty cool in general.  The RG-31 is also a favorite for NGO’s and UN workers so maybe I’ll have to paint up a couple of these in UN white and blue.

Nayla RG-31 - GHQ miniatures

Nayla RG-31 – GHQ miniatures

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