Scramble! Scramble!

An update on a new project by Stephen Tucker…

A project I’ve had on the back burner for some time is the Battle of Britain using 1/144 scale aircraft.

These have primarily been Zvezda and Revell ‘Mini’ kits – BF109s, Stukas, Hurricanes, and Spitfires.

However, at Cavalier this weekend I picked up another Spitfire kit (just £1!) and a couple of diecast German bombers in 1/144 – a HE111 and DO17 – for a fiver each.

Yesterday I put the Spitfire kit together and also put some filler in the join lines in the two diecast models, and today I painted them up.

Another couple of bombers would be good, but for the time being these three aircraft can now join the others I have, which means I’ve now got enough for a game.

Best Participation Game at Cavalier 2018

Our 2018 Showgame of the Zeebrugge Raid won Best Participation Game at the Cavalier Show in Tonbridge today.  Congratulations to the builder – Phil (with a little help from his offspring).  Finishing touches to the HMS Vindictive model will follow in time for Salute in April.  Gallery below:

The SAGA of Andraes Vilhelmsson – The battle of Lindale

Born at night in Tempest tossed seas far from land he my have been, but Olaf Titbit of The Hebrides now lies dead in the mud of the hamlet of Lindale.

In the cold months after Christmas Olaf led his ragtag band from his lands with fire and plunder in his mind. The quiet hamlet of Lindale was his target; but no man sneaks around Andraes Vilhelmsson’s lands without his knowledge!

Olaf and his nemeses

Defending Lindale at first was the local levy archers; they were charged by one of Olaf’s units of Hearthguard and were pushed back with casualties but did not falter. After exchanging blows with the levy a few times, the Hearthguard carried on through Lindale towards Andraes and his reinforced Warriors who had arrived on one side of the hamlet opposite Olaf and his Warriors, while Andraes’ Hearthguard arrived on the other side.

One of the Hearthguard units chased Olaf’s war band round the hamlet and caught up with some of his warriors, in the following fight all the Hearthguard fell but took most of the warriors with them.

The other Hearthguard unit reinforced the levy in the centre of the hamlet.

The last of Olaf’s warriors

Andraes lead his warriors into an attack on Olaf’s Hearthguard in the hamlet; eventually wiping them out.

Olaf’s warriors then advanced on Andraes’ warriors launching salvoes of javelins as they approached, eventually charging into melee, which they won.

Andraes joined his levy and the remaining Hearthguard in the hamlet. After trading arrows and javelins, and with fatigue building up in Olaf’s warriors they were defeated by the Levy’ shooting.

Andraes and the victors of Lindale

Andraes’ remaining Hearthguard started towards the edge of the hamlet, looking to engage the remains of Olaf’s warriors, but as they did so Olaf moved back and charged them challenging them to single combat. The first of the Hearthguard to face Olaf fell beneath his sword, but the second was of sterner stuff and smote Olaf a mighty blow, cleaving his head from his shoulders. With this the remnants of his warband could take no more and fled the field.

Perhaps Olaf had partaken of a little too much ‘uisge’ before deciding to attack?

Lindale, quiet after the battle

The SAGA of (Antoine) Jean Gislebert

My father (Robert William Gislebert) was a minor noble knight who landed with William in 1066 and took part in the fight against the English usurper as well as the subsequent battles leading to the coronation of our beloved leader in December of that year.

I followed my father shortly after this when he was granted lands just south of Shrewsbury at Lege (now Lee Brockhurst).

Our lands are classified as mainly hunting grounds although we do have several small farms and the main settlement has a mill, which has seen our prosperity increase. The farming has also helped to raise many peasants who under my tuition have become quite adept as bowmen.

We have a small retinue of knights who have loyally followed me during campaigns against both English and Welsh renegades and we now have a mutual respect. Ultimately this has enhanced my reputation, our wealth and lands (and an increase in our holdings is never a bad thing).

Unfortunately, I’ve had to return to our estate to sort things out after my father was involved in a hunting accident. However, now that the estate is all in order, let’s go and see what up for grabs out there!!

Making Windows (and other bits) for Buildings

An enjoyable part of miniatures wargaming for me is the modelling and creative aspects. I can’t sculpt for the life of me, so I have to buy my figures, but I’m lucky enough to be a fairly reasonable modeller and so I always scratchbuild terrain for my games.

This is just a short piece about how I go about making windows for my models. You can, of course, use this technique to make many other bits but since some buildings require a good many windows then it can be time-consuming and laborious to make individual windows over and over again.

In brief, what I do is make a single window, cast it, and then mould all the windows I need for the project.

And here’s how I do it.

The first step is to make the master. I use plasticard and styrene rod/strue. Take some time, because this is the one you’re going to be using to cast so any imperfections in this one will mean all the windows will be imperfect. Since you only have to do this once it pays to spend a bit of time.

I make the window on a piece of thin (1mm?) styrene. I then cut this out, around the frame, and then sand all edges and joints (using a bit of filler if you need to). When that’s done you then stick it to another piece of thick styrene. This is so the mould will be indented and gives a bit of slop around the edges and also something to get hold of.

Then on to the moulding. I use a product called Oyumaru modelling compound. Google it or have a look on Amazon (that’s where I got it). It’s quite cheap. Put this in a cup of boiling hot water for 10 minutes and it goes all sticky and tacky, like soft toffee.

You then take this and squeeze it around the master making sure you get it in all the nooks and crannies. Then pop it into the fridge for 10 minutes, the mould hardens (it’s still fairly pliable – like a rubber/eraser) and you can start casting!

So, what to use for casting? You could use plaster. But that would be far too brittle for a subject such as this. Plaster also chips quite easily. What I use is epoxy resin. You can use Araldite if you want, but that’s the expensive way. I use a similar budget brand (Wilkos or Wickes is what I go for) 5 minute epoxy.

Yes, gram for gram, there are even cheaper options. If you think you will need a gallon of resin then I am sure that would work out cheaper (gram for gram). But what I want is roughly a dozen or so castings and for £3 I can get that out of a pack of Wilkos rapid set epoxy. Just £3. You try buying that many lead castings for that price. You may be able to use car body filler in it. I don’t know, I don’t have any car body filler so if anyone does give it a go then please do let me know how it went.

It’s a good idea to colour the epoxy. I use a tiny (and I really do mean a tiny) blob of acrylic paint. It’s surprising how far a little goes. Colouring the resin is better because it shows any imperfections better than a clear casting. I also use a cocktail stick to push the resin into the corners and burst air bubbles.

It may be 5 minute epoxy but you are still using it thicker than intended. So, for something like a window, I’ll leave it for 30-60 minutes (depending on ambient temperature) before taking it out. Even then you will find the casting is still flexible. That’s OK. Lay it flat and by the morning it will be fully set.

Another note of caution. I have used it to cast some very thick things before and if you do it can generate a lot of heat! Be aware. For something like a window and door that’s not going to happen.

And that’s that – all done. If you can make multiple moulds then you can form a production line and in no time you’ll have all the windows you’ll need.

I tend to use this method if I have to make repeated items, especially if making them is going to tricky or onerous. The good thing is that you always have the master so you can make new castings for future projects. Here’s some of the windows and spare castings I have from previous projects.

The Oyumaru modelling compound is re-usable. So if the mould does get a bit worn, or if you you want to make a different mould, then just put it in a mug of hot water, let it soften and recast it. That simple. From a pack of 5 minute epoxy I can get 20-25 castings depending on the size.

– Stephen Tucker

Our 2018 Showgame – Zeebrugge 1918 – A Sneak Peak

Work continues to complete our game for Cavalier in Tonbridge on Sunday the 25th.  The HMS Vindictive model is a scratchbuilt 1/56 scale replica of the ship on the day, total length 2 metres!  Hats off to her architect – club member Phil.  Can you guess what role tomato puree played in making the model?

We gave the game rules a run through at our last meeting – this will be a participation game, with players leading a squad of the attacking British sailors and marines to destroy objectives on the Mole.

Eliminate the Emperor

A Star Wars X-Wing Scenario

The rescue team put down at the Rebel outpost for much needed repairs following the rescue of the Imperial defector, Danor Jax. Whilst their ships were being seen to they downloaded and decoded Danor’s data. He immediately pointed his rescuers to some critical and time sensitive information. It concerned a secret meeting later that day, being attended by the Emperor himself. The co-ordinates and time of the meeting were accompanied by the intended flight plan of the Emperor’s personal shuttle and details of his small escort.

With only a small window available Wedge Antilles gathered the team together to discuss an audacious plan – to intercept and destroy the Emperor’s shuttle. Cut off the head and the body dies. Unfortunately, Roark Garnet’s HWK-290 had been too badly damaged and could not be made serviceable in time but both Wedge and Biggs Darklighter’s X-Wings and the Y-Wing could. The team knew the risks, their ships would not be fully repaired and the Emperor would be guarded by two of this elite Royal Guard pilots flying upgraded TIE Interceptors but this was an opportunity too good to miss. Wedge sent out a last minute message and the three ships made the jump to light speed.

Arriving at the co-ordinates the Rebels spotted the shuttle and its escort flying past an asteroid field. Biggs peered at his sensors, the readings didn’t make sense, their was something else registering moving through the asteroids – but he couldn’t get a lock on it.

The TIE Phantom moved out from its position with its cloaking device in operation and sped towards the approaching rebel ships. The Rebels opened fire but without a sensor lock the TIE was just too hard to hit! The Phantom decloaked, fired and recloaked. Biggs’ shields evaporated and his X-Wing shuddered under the barrage. The TIE flew past, perfectly executed a Koiogran turn and moved onto Bigg’s tail. He couldn’t shake it. The TIE decloaked, fired and recloaked again. Biggs’ was hit bad, another barrage would finish him. He told his astromech to programme the nav computer and span up the hyperdrive.

Meanwhile the Royal Guard pilots had moved ahead of the Imperial shuttle to intercept the rebels. Wedge engaged the first but the earlier damage had made his ship sluggish and he caught a burst from the TIE Interceptor which took down his shields. The two craft began a series of tight manoeuvres but the TIE was simply more agile than the damaged X-Wing and unleashed another burst which forced Wedge to withdraw.

The Y-Wing had managed to slip past the second Royal Guard TIE and engaged the shuttle. But the TIE swung around and the Y-Wing too came under heavy fire.

But just then, another X-Wing dropped out of hyperspace. Luke Skywalker had received Wedge’s message and come to help his old friend. His arrival couldn’t have been better timed, with the two Royal Guard TIEs already engaged the shuttle was on its own. Luke swung into action fired burst after burst at the larger ship as they flew towards one another. He slipped past the shuttle and brought his X-Wing around to move onto its tail and just as the Royal Guard TIEs started to engage him, he fired again into the rear of the shuttle. The resulting explosion was enormous.

With a huge cheer the Rebel ships made the jump to light speed.

Back at the output the rebel pilots were celebrating when the devastating news came in. The Emperor was still alive – the shuttle had only been one of his decoys! “It was a set up”, said Wedge, “that would explain the TIE Phantom which was already hidden in the asteroid field”.

“At least were all here to tell the tale”, said Luke.

The SAGA of Olaf King of The Hebrides

Born at night in Tempest tossed seas far from land, I have travelled on epic journeys in my trusty Birlinn ‘ Nathair Mhara’ visiting Russia and Rome. Whilst visiting Iceland I received a gift of a rare white Gyr Falcon which was to be my daughter’s dowry. This was stolen from me by that treacherous thief De La Rue with whom I at feud, it is our way of Islands for settling scores I will search until I challenge him and my blade will run crimson with his blood. I am a hero of Sagas and oath sworn to Rognvald of Orkney and Norway, so if you cross me I will come silently through the black skies, seaspray and hail. My brave warriors, who live and die by the truth of the axe will leave your cowed men hiding their shields waiting for the final blow and the silent darkness. We will drink much ‘uisge’ and epic tales will be written of our deeds. Meanwhile I bide my time searching for the chess pieces lost in a winter storm. I vow to defend our Celtic ways against the incursions pillage and raping by the Danes from Ingerland and the Northmen from Francia!!

Our 2018 Show Game – Zeebrugge Centenary

The MWS show game for 2018, now in the final stage of preparation will commemorate the centenary of the naval assault on Zeebrugge on 23rd April 1918 – St George’s Day.

You can see it at the Cavalier Show at the Angel Centre in Tonbridge on 25th February.

It will feature a recreation of the assault on the Zeebrugge Mole focussing on a scratchbuilt model of the attacking Cruiser HMS Vindictive at 25mm figure scale.  Look out for more about how this game was put together.

There was so much bravery shown by the men of the ships that assaulted the Mole under a continuous storm of fire that VCs for two members of the naval crew (one officer, one other rank) would be awarded through a special ballot of all the officers and men who took part.  Two VCs were also awarded on the same basis to the Royal Marines.

Every member of the crews was thus deemed eligible to receive the VC.

Vindictive’s commander, Acting Captain Alfred Carpenter, pictured below with one of the ships cats, was the officer the crew chose. He also received special advancement to the rank of Captain.

Able Seaman Albert Edward McKenzie pictured above, a volunteer chosen from the crew of the Battleship, HMS Neptune, was the other rank the crew chose.

Carpenter’s Victoria Cross medal citation perhaps speaks best to his qualities:

… He set a magnificent example to all those under his command by his calm composure when navigating mined waters…. He showed most conspicuous bravery, and did much to encourage similar behaviour on the part of the crew, supervising the landing from the “Vindictive” on to the mole, and walking round the decks directing operations and encouraging the men in the most dangerous and exposed positions. By his encouragement to those under him, his power of command and personal bearing, he undoubtedly contributed greatly to the success of the operation.

McKenzie was a member of the storming party, landing with his Lewis Gun into the storm of fire, advancing down the Mole with his CO (Arthur Leyland Harrison) who with most of his party was killed. He was severely wounded and after his Lewis Gun was wrecked had to fight his way back to the ship in hand to hand combat, with only a pistol, a bayonet and his boxing skills. Whilst recovering from his wounds he died in the Spanish Flu epidemic.

Photos courtesy of the IWM on-line archive

The Road Goes Ever On and On…

… but it does seem to reach the end eventually.

Tony F has an update on one of his To-Do list projects, completing his Scouring of the Shire hobbits which were started last year:

This only involved 12 figures, eight of which were already part-painted, so it wasn’t much of task, but it’s done at last. The final four figures were the hero hobbits, Pippin, Nine-fingered Frodo (yes, his tiny left index finger is missing), Sam and Merry, all on ponies (I already have foot versions). Pippin and Merry are wearing their uniforms as Heroes of Gondor and Rohan respectively.

In wild celebration I then went off and painted some elves – Elrond Half-Elven and his sons Elladan and Elrohir (who don’t get a look-in at all in the films, but in the book were present at the climactic battle at the Black Gate). Master Elrond in his Last Alliance armour is a really nice figure – I’m not quite so sold on the poses of the two junior elves, who are a bit two-dimensional, but the sculpting is nice.