Out of the Shed: A load of model aircraft kits … and other sundry models

In a recent blog entry I mentioned finding a crate that contained a large number of unmade 1:1200th-scale model warship kits. I also mentioned that the same crate contained a number of other unmade kits. What I didn’t state was what sort of model kits they were.

In fact the majority of the unmade model kits in the crate were 1:144th-scale aircraft, including:

  • 5 x Revell Sea Harrier Fighters
  • 7 x Fujumi Lynx Anti-submarine Helicopters
  • 5 x Revell Bf-109E Fighters
  • 1 x Revell FW-190A Fighter
  • 5 x Revell Ju-87 Diver Bombers
  • 3 x Revell Ju-88 Bombers
  • 3 x Academy Minicraft He-111 Bombers
  • 2 x Academy Minicraft North American P-51D Mustang Fighters
  • 1 x Academy Minicraft Lockheed P-38J Lightning Fighter
  • 2 x Academy Minicraft Grumman TBF-1 Avenger Torpedo-Bomber
  • 1 x Academy Minicraft Martin B-26B Marauder Medium Bomber
  • 1 x Crown Nakajima C6N1 Fighter

An interesting and somewhat eclectic mixture of aircraft types! I seem to remember buying the Sea Harriers and the Lynxs to go aboard a model aircraft carrier that I later passed on to Chris Kemp. The rest were bought to supply air support for my Megablitz armies … but somehow never progressed beyond being bought.

There was a single 1:87th-scale model aircraft in the crate, a ROCO Minitanks Ju-52. I saw this in a shop and just had to buy it. All I need now is a game to use it in. (I can hear the theme tune of WHERE EAGLES DARE in my head as I write this!)

The other kits in the crate were all of ships, including:

  • 2 x Heller Potemkin Pre-Dreadnought Battleships
  • 2 x Noch HO-scale Tugs
  • 1 x Noch HO-scale Motorised Barge
  • 3 x Noch HO-scale Dumb Barges

This is enough ships to mount a bath-tubbed version of Operation Sealion … with added off-shore gunfire support!

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A cheap bunker/pillbox

During a recent visit to a local craft shop I saw some ready-made balsa wood/basswood hexagonal boxes on sale for £1.25. I had previously bought some slightly smaller versions with the intention of using them as the basis for some nineteenth century fortifications, but the larger ones looked ideal subjects for conversion into concrete bunkers or pillboxes that I could use with my 20mm-scale figures. I bought two of the boxes, and over the past few days I have been converting them.

The first thing I did was to remove the hinges that held the top and bottom halves of the box together.

I then set the tops of the boxes to one side and marked the position of the weapon slits on each face of the lower half of the box.

I carefully made vertical cut in each face of the box down to the line I had drawn around each box. I then used a craft knife to gently cut along the line between the two cuts on each face of the box. The thin gap that was created allowed then me to use the tip of the knife to gently prise out the wood between the vertical cuts. Once that was down each of the ‘slits’ in the faces of the hexagon was tidied up and sanded.

As I wanted to use the tops of the boxes to form the roofs of the bunkers/pillboxes I needed to make sure that they would not fall off during a wargame. I therefore glued pieces of matchstick in the corner of the bottom halves of each box, making sure that the pieces of matchstick projected slightly above the top of the box sides.

Once the glue was dry I checked that the tops of the boxes fitted snugly onto the bottoms. I then sealed the wood using two coats of PVA glue, making sure that first coat was properly dry before the next was added.

The bunkers/pillboxes were then undercoated before being painted light grey.


Miniature Wargames Issue 414

After some considerable thought, I decided to renew my subscription to MINIATURE WARGAMES for a further three months. As a result I received the latest issue by post yesterday, and have now had the opportunity to read it.

The articles included in this issue are:

  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: Good things in small packages by Conrad Kinch
  • Frontier Warfare: Part Two – Rules and Strategies by Chris Jarvis
  • Reinventing an old friend: Part Two by Jon Sutherland
  • Customs Office: Scenery building using 4Ground models and stuff from the scrap box by Roger Dixon
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain!: Aerial Adventures in an Alternative World by Tony Francis
    • Uhtred and the Fire Dragon by Gordon Lawrence
  • Wargaming My Way by Dave Tuck
  • Creighton Abram’s War: Fast-play microscale World War II rules for Battalion/Brigade Level wargames by Robert Piepenbrink
  • Recce
  • Tower of Balsa: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Show report: Claymore 2017 by John Treadaway
  • Club Directory

So what did I enjoy in this issue?

  1. Well it goes without saying that as Conrad Kinch’s Send three and fourpence was written about his use of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules, it came out top! His article shows how easy it was for him to create his own version of the game, and his suggested rule changes to make them suitable for re-fighting American Civil War battles make a lot of sense. Furthermore he has included three short scenarios that I will certainly copy and use at some point.
  2. The second part of Chris Jarvis’s Frontier Warfare came a close second …
  3. … with Robert Piepenbrink’s Creighton Abram’s War coming third. I don’t think that I will stop using my own World War II rules and start fighting battles with these, but it was nice to see someone designing a set of rules for a game that can be fought on a small tabletop.

Not an outstanding issue, but good enough to justify my decision to re-subscribe.

The one downside of this magazine is the continued presence of the Club Directory section. In my opinion it is an utter waste of paper … and should NOT be in every issue!


A copy of the Derby Worlds 2017 Tabletop Wargaming Convention Official Show Guide also came with this issue.

I won’t be going to the convention (competitive wargaming has never held any attractions for me, in addition to which it is quite a journey to get there from where I live), but it was nice to see what demonstration and participation wargames be available to see and/or take part in.


Not Quite Mechanised (NQM)

When I rediscovered my ‘lost’ scratch-built/modified vehicles I was reminded of Chris Kemp’s NQM (NOT QUITE MECHANISED) wargame rules, which were the direct progenitor of Tim Gow’s MEGABLITZ. Chris has always been a prominent advocate of the use of scratch-built/modified models of vehicles that are not or were not readily available to buy ‘off the shelf’, and has – over the years – produced some wonderfully robust models that certainly looked the part even if they were not 100% accurate.

I first met Chris thirty five years ago (!) at the inaugural Conference of Wargamers. The conference was organised by the late Paddy Griffith and was entitled ‘New Directions In Wargaming’. It was held at Moor Park College near Farnham, Surrey, over the weekend of 23rd to 25th May 1980. Even then Chris was trying to devise a wargame that allowed players to fight wargames at the sort of level that military historians wrote World War II campaign histories about, and over the years this endeavour coalesced into what became NQM (NOT QUITE MECHANISED.

Eventually Chris turned his pile of notes into a set of rules entitled PANZERBLITZ … OR NOT QUITE MECHANISED … and I am lucky enough to actually own a copy of them. (I actually own Copy No.1 of 20, and it occupies a special place in my collection of wargame rules.)

As stated on the cover, the rules came with their own ‘Free Playsheet’.

Since then the rules have continued to evolve, and the current draft of the rules (or what Chris prefers to call the NQM Umpire Guidelines) can be found on his blog. His blog also contains the battle reports from his ongoing re-fight of the German invasion of Russia … although the tabletop Germans were – until recently – doing better than their historical counterparts.


My Hungarian World War II army … and other ‘finds’

Inside a file box that I found in one of the crates that was in the shed was a small Hungarian World War II army.

I created this army at a time when I was considering using Frank Chadwick’s COMMAND DECISION rules, and they represent a Hungarian Infantry Regiment with some supporting artillery. In the end I never used the rules, and the figures went into storage … although I have vague memories of having lent them to another wargamer for a time.

The figures were originally Spanish Civil War infantry that were sculpted by the late Dave Allsop. I modified some of them so that I could field heavy machine guns, machine gun crews, and gunners . I also scratch-built a field gun and a light anti-tank gun, which I used as masters from which I was able to create a silicon rubber mould.

The bases are looking a little ‘sad’, but I think that it will be possible to rebase the figures so that I can use them for my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project.


I have also made some other ‘finds’ during the great sort out. These include a number of 1960s/1970s-era pre-assembled and painted model British military vehicles manufactured and sold by Denzil Skinner …

… and a complete hard plastic 1920s/1930s-era wargames army created with figures from Fijumi, trucks from an unknown model railways supplier, artillery tractors scratch-built from Airfix US half-tracks, light tanks scratch-built from various bit and pieces, and artillery scratch-built from Airfix Napoleonic field guns and a Napoleonic board game.


The Shed: The big sort out continues

The big sort out continues. Since I wrote yesterday’s blog entry I have continued to empty crates and to sort out what I am going to keep, what I am going to pass on to other people (either as gifts or via eBay, and what I am going to have to throw away.

The latter category includes some of the plastic model kits that were stored in the shed. For an as-yet-unknown reason some of the kits that were moulded in very dark grey or black plastic have apparently melted during storage. When I opened the packaging they had been put in, they looked misshapen, and on closer examination some of the larger parts had completely changed shape. What is baffling is the fact that this ‘melting’ has not affected any of the model kits that were moulded in light grey, green, silver, or white plastic.

As it requires quite a reasonable amount of heat to mould the plastic used to make model kits, I can only surmise that these kits were close to a wall of the steel shed when it was exposed to extreme heat at some point during the last ten years. I cannot think of a time when this could have happened, but for the present I cannot come up with another theory that explains the phenomena.

I have not made any particularly notable ‘finds’ today, but I did find several half-built models that need to be completed. Of especial note are three Fujimi Pzkpfw 38(t)s that were at some point in the process of being converted into something approximating to Pzkpfw 35(t)s. The basic hulls and turrets have been built according to the kit’s instructions, but all the running gear has been removed. The turret mantlets have been slightly modified, and the original guns were due to be replaced with cut-down and inverted Airfix 6-pounder anti-tank gun barrels. These are in the same plastic bag as the incomplete model tanks. Also in the bag are several sets of modified ROCO Pzkpfw IV tracks, and as far as I can remember I was going to use these to replicate the style of tracks found on the Pzkpfw 35(t).

I plan to complete these model tanks as soon as I have finished sorting out the contents of the shed, although I think that I will replace the modified ROCO tracks with something that is more akin to those used on the Pzkpfw 35(t).

The side view of a Pzkpfw 38(t).

The side view of a Pzkpfw 35(t).


The Shed: A ROCO and Roskopf bonanza!

Last night I began selecting the next couple of crates that I wanted to sort out … and had quite a shock when I opened the first.

The crate was full of plastic bags that were covered in a very thick layer of dirt. In fact they were so dirty that I could not see what was inside the bags, and the labels had faded so much that they were unreadable. With some trepidation I tore the first bag open … and found four ROCO Pzkpfw VI Tiger Is inside! The next bag contained two ROCO Pzkpfw VI Tiger IIs, a ROCO Jagdtiger, and three ROCO JS-IIIs.

By the time I had finished opening all the bags I had rediscovered the following model vehicles:

German

  • 1 x Pzkpfw III
  • 1 x Pzkpfw IV
  • 1 x Pzkpfw IV (AA)
  • 4 x Pzkpfw VI (Tiger I)
  • 3 x Pzkpfw VI (Tiger II)
  • 2 x Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger
  • 1 x Sdkpz 234/1
  • 2 x Grille 10/88mm
  • 1 x sWS (Cargo)
  • 2 x Sdkfz 18 (AA)
  • 4 x Kubelwagen
  • 2 x Schwimmwagen
  • 1 x Opel Blitz Truck

Russian

  • 10 x T-34/85
  • 3 x JS-III

Other

  • 1 x Sherman
  • 2 x M10/M36 SPGs
  • 1 x 155mm Long Tom M2A1
  • 1 x M53/M55 SPG
  • 3 x M113 APC
  • 2 x M113 APC (Mortar)
  • 1 x M113 (Command)
  • 4 x Motorcycle + Sidecar

I also found some other useful model vehicles in the crate. These included:

  • 8 x SIKU Bulldozers (If the cab and dozer blade are removed, this looks very like a Russian heavy artillery tractor)
  • 2 x Vikiing Hoch Limousines (Ideal for senior officers’ staff cars!)
  • 3 x Viking Citroen Saloon Cars (Also suitable for use staff cars)
  • 2 x Viking VW Beetles