Tuesday, 21 February 2017

AHPC - 'West' Bonus round entries

Hi Folks,

Lots of blogging this week!

On Saturday night (and into the early hours of Sunday) I was feverishly working to try and finish off an entry into the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge bonus round for Sunday. This bonus round theme was 'west', so having thought a bit about how West connects to what I'm working on, I established a few big connections.

Firstly, my FoW stuff is for the western front. Secondly, the trucks I have been working on are of Canadian manufacture - which led me to consider Canada's contribution to the war effort. Thirdly, Canada was one of Britain's most important allies - a western (geographically and politically) ally no less! The Canadian connection also works on another level for my collection, as my Highlanders were under the command of 2nd Canadian Corps during Operation Totalize.

Given all of this, I quickly established that I would use these trucks as my entry!

This set of vehicles, along with the other 5 I am working on, have taken a bit of time to get to this point. Prep wise, there is very little stowage on them, mainly because of the nature of the trucks. However, I did want to follow the idea I had many many moons ago - the trucks should be made into little dioramas. This would mean:

- Bases had to be trimmed from those trucks with a cast on base (6 of the 8). These then needed to be added on to a FoW Medium base to allow room for figures to be added

- Figures suitable for dioramas had to be sourced. This was something I had been working on for a long time, which has now come to fruition.

- I would need to do 8 dioramas, which was a challenge in of itself.

- The dioramas had to be logical, follow a 'theme' for Normandy and work with each other (to a certain degree).

The concept for the 128th Field Regiments trucks was that they here being harassed by some unseen sniper. Something that was common in artillery positions which were moving forward to keep up with an advance.

So, with a sniper lurking in a hedgerow somewhere nearby, what would be happening in the battery position?

For the first base, I went for a typical event that occurs in every Allied account of Normandy I have ever read. Troops 'foraging' to supplement their tinned rations. As such, I have to likely characters, returning from a 'fruitful quick wander' round the nearby area. One of them clutching a cask of Calvados and the other with a chicken - which was "Awready deed when we fun'it Sur!"

Finding themselves on the receiving end of a snipers attention (maybe it was his chicken?), they have taken cover behind a truck.

These figures are from the Battlefront 'Commonwealth Infantry' pack, with head swaps using the 'Guards' heads that were available separately.  The lighting in these pics isn't great, but it does look like the facial details need some work, as does the chicken! It is possible the light has just bleached them out a bit - they were actually both of squared paper when the pics were taken!

Next up, a survey team. This consists of an officer with a piece of survey equipment (my take on a 'No. 7 Director'), and a Private with a survey pole. The sniper has interrupted the work of laying the guns on the 'zero line', and the officer is looking rather impatient... Somewhere 'up front' an infantry unit might be looking for fire support.

Both figures are older Flames of War infantry figures. The chap with the pole was actually a pioneer with a Bangalore torpedo!

Lastly, we have a 'patrol' of either local (infantry) Jocks who have been roped in to help, or some of the battery troops (they look a little too well equipped to be the latter). These guys are being sent out to deal with the sniper. I think the chap on the corner looks suitably happy about his role.

Some shots of the three:

All three of them together. Imagine the sniper is somewhere 'above' the top edge of the picture.

So that's it! I've another 5 of these to do, which I should finish this week in time for my Thursday submission deadline. If you like what you've seen here, can I please ask that you check out my entry here (and check out the other entries as well!). I'd appreciate it if you could take the time to vote on my 'Canadian Jock artillery vehicles'! My entry in the challenge also talks a little more about Canada's significant manufacturing contribution to the allied victory.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Something you don't see every day! (15mm Ram II tank)

Hi folks,

As part of my Totalise Project there are things I come across that are historically accurate but missing from model ranges (or decal ranges). One of those things were Canadian Ram II tanks.

These were created by the Canadians and shipped over to the UK in large numbers. However, it was viewed as obsolete by 1944 so was used mainly for training. From Wiki:

"A prototype Ram was completed in June 1941, and general production of the Ram I began in November of the same year. The Ram I and early Ram IIs were fitted with side doors in the hull and an auxiliary machine gun turret in the front. The former weakened the hull and complicated production, and the doors and the machine gun turret were discarded in later modifications. By February 1942, production had switched to the Ram II model with a 6-pounder gun and continued until July 1943. In March 1942 a decision had been made to change production over to the automotively-similar M4A1 Sherman tank for all British and Canadian units. Ram production continued due to delay in starting the new M4 production lines and a reluctance to let the plant lie idle.[3] By July 1943 1,948 vehicles, plus 84 artillery observation post (OP) vehicles, had been completed.

The official Canadian history of the war compares the Ram to the Ross rifle as examples of unsuccessful Canadian weapon designs. It states that given the Sherman's superiority, in retrospect it would probably have been better for the United States to produce more tanks, and for Canada to have focused on manufacturing more transport vehicles such as the successful Canadian Military Pattern truck designs. The Sexton self-propelled gun based on the Ram chassis, however, was very successful.

As built, the Ram was never used in combat as a tank, but was used for crew training in Great Britain up to mid 1944. The observation post vehicles and Armoured Personnel Carrier, gun tractor, and munitions carrier versions of the Ram saw considerable active service in North West Europe. These tanks were mainly rebuilt by Canadian Army workshops in the United Kingdom. Conversions of Ram tanks with the Wasp II flamethrower gear were used by the 5th Canadian Armoured Brigade in the Netherlands in 1945."

It is the artillery OP and Artillery Tow version which interested me. I've had an interest in getting some of these for my planned Canadian forces for a while. Last year, prior to embarking on this 'all nations' Totalise Project, I had bought 3 packs of Ram Kangeroos, in order to do a later war version of my Highlanders. However, the planned use of these vehicles had changed with the change in focus onto Totalise, with 4 of them being used as 17 Pounder Tows for my Canadians, and 2 of them getting turrets to act as OP tanks.

Ram OP tank in Normandy - the full version of this picture shows 2 Canadian 4th Armoured Division Shermans behind, 

But as I had the hulls, where could I get the turrets?

I searched about, and found someone who had scratch built turrets. They looked great, but I didn't think I could replicate what they had done - and didn't want to spend a lot of time working on something I would end up unhappy with. I checked Shapeways, where the full tank is available to buy at 1/100ths scale, but for £25 each. A lot of month to spend on 2 tanks! No one, it seems, made turrets for this tank.

Eventually, months later, I approached Butlers Printed Models with a query about them designing and building a turret for me. Peter was very very helpful, and for a small fee - well, smaller than the cost of two tanks off Shapeways - Peter agreed to do the design work, send me a prototype and get some turrets done!

Less than two weeks later:

Ram II Turret in 15mm, for use in Flames of War

The Butlers Printed Models turret on the Battlefront Kangeroo hull.

Now it is 3D printed, so there is a little roughness to the turret, but not a huge amount compared to other 3D printed then cast models I have worked with in the past. Very little clean up was required. The turret fits perfectly on the Battlefront Kangeroo hull, although some of the turret ring details have to be removed (mainly the mounting for the .50cal). I think with a coat of paint on these guys they will be a fantastic addition to my army. Peter also modelled the Early, Late and Close Support versions of the turret - mines is the Late version.

The best bit is that the model I 'commissioned' is available for purchase on the Butlers Printed Model webstore - here!

Hopefully, I've have these painted 'soon'!

AHPC 3rd Entry - Gunuary still lives!

Hi folks,

This week I've been chipping away at my remaining Gunuary projects, with two elements coming to fruition in a short time. As I type, I'm waiting for a coat of varnish to dry in order to try and get an entry in for tomorrows 'themed' round entry.

For Thursday, I managed to finish off the command, staff and OP teams I required as part of the Gunuary goal of filling out all the missing teams in my various artillery units. As such, I finished off different teams for a few different units:

2 Pulk Artylerii Motorwej, 1st Polish Armoured Brigade:

1 x Staff team
2 x Command teams
1 x Jeep

79th Medium Regiment (The Scottish Horse), 4 AGRA - I'm missing decals for this unit at the moment, so the AOS markings on the vehicles are not correct currently, and there is no formation badge):

1 x Staff team
3 x Command teams
2 x OP teams
1 x Jeep
2 x OP Universal Carriers

128th Field Regiment, 51st Highland Division:

1 x Jeep
1 x OP Universal Carrier

I've grouped the units by type for the pics, rather than by unit. One thing I really need to do is get some sort of unit marking system for my bases, so I know which teams go with which units. Not such a big deal at the moment, but with my attempts to paint unit patches onto the soldiers arms, it will become relevant.

Staff teams (the one with the motorbike is for the 79th Medium Regiment):

OP teams:

Command teams:


UC OP Carriers:

So this little lot bagged be 96 points. I'm pretty happy with them, barring the fact some of the faces are rubbish and some of the sculpted faces are poor (a couple of miscasts). Decals need to be fixed for the Medium Regiment vehicles and some of the aerial holes on models needs a little work to close them up a bit (the drill bit was slightly too large). I've also got some of the detail on the back of the jeeps to fix! Funny the things you notice looking at the pics!

Anyway, I'll check if the varnish is dry on the next lot, and plow on!