Painting War Gaming Figures: WWII In The Desert

The cover shows some of the results in action.

This book represents a foot into the dark art of figure painting for me. Whilst I don’t wargame myself I do admire the skills wargamers display in their painting techniques and I do subscribe to many wargaming channels and pages on social media in the search to pick up tips that I can transfer to my scale modelling.

Despite this though I always shy away from including figures into my builds as I don’t feel I am able to do them justice. With this book and the scale’s it covers I thought this would give me a knowledge base and basic skill set to improve upon over time that should transfer over to my predominately 72nd scale work and I may well be able to include some of these figures included with kits for a change rather than throwing them into the spares box!

Each section of the book is concise and to the point, the aim being to give the modeller confidence to master the basics and build up from this. It’s pointed out the book is not intended to get you to build masterpieces, just some achievable results in good time that will hopefully prevent us from becoming disheartened with our work. So the Author does not spend page after page trying to explain the nuances of brush work but instead gives solid practical advise that you are encouraged to work with.

The book begins by covering the very basics, with a description of the most common materials wargaming figures are made from and the tools you will require to begin to build and paint small scale figures and how to look after them. It also describes the basic techniques you will be using such as dry brushing which will be familiar to many scale modellers but also washing and glazing and varnishing, these are techniques that many people are using in the scale modelling world also, so should probably be somewhat familiar to most. All good so far and nothing is sounding particularly intimidating!

Then we move on to construction techniques and poses for multipart figures. This section does a great job of highlighting the importance of prep and methodical working without making it obvious they are doing so, something I liked as it in no way felt like the author was talking down to their audience.
Now the book moves on to Part 2, which is the painting guides themselves. This is split into 4 main sections. Painting British and Commonwealth Soldiers, the Italian army, the U.S. Army and the German army. There are also sections on painting Camo uniforms and basing of figures.

Each of the 4 forces are looked at with a step by step guide listing the colours and techniques used to produce the results shown in the full colour photographs. Starting from the base coat or primer all the way through to the finished article. Along the way there are 3 skill levels to work to, Conscript with is the most basic level of finish, Regular which uses more techniques to result in an improved finish and finally what the author describes as Elite level, which whilst it may sound intimidating in title, it is really just another step up and is not in anyway saying this could not be further improved upon.

I found the colour charts and the step by steps in the painting guides to be well laid out and easy to follow and thought the accompanying photographs were detailed enough to see the effect the author is aiming for you to pick up even though the figures being built are obviously small scale.

The camouflage section follows the same format as each of the forces painting guides and even though the basing section is a little more basic than the painting guides, it has to be remembered that this is aimed at wargaming figures not diorama pieces and although the skills will transfer you would want to build on these.

Over all I found the book to be a great introduction to figure painting which as a novice to the genre will hopefully allow me to produce a good basic figure which I can then work on extra detailing, shading and other effects as my skill sets and confidence grow!

I would as always like to thank Pen and Sword books for allowing me the opportunity to review this book. You can pick up your copy of this book, along with many more great titles at their website!

Book Review: De Havilland Comet. The World’s First Commercial Jetliner


This volume of World’s Greatest Airliners looks at what in my opinion is one of the most beautiful airliners to grace the sky, De Havilland’s Comet. The book’s concise text is accompanied throughout by some fantastic images of the aircraft, and whilst I could never grow tired of looking at photos of the Comet, its storied history during such a time of development and change for the aviation industry makes for great reading.

The book begins with a brief introduction describing the build up to the Comet’s first flight, an event that saw Britain as the world leaders of jet airliner development, barely four years since the end of the second World War.

We then jump back 7 years to look at the circumstances that lead to the development of the Comet. The formation of the Brabazon Committee during the war believed that there would be the need for 6 different types of aircraft to serve the Empire’s post war civil aviation requirements, Type IV being the most radical of the requirements. This was a demand for the fully jet powered airliner the Comet was to end up fulfilling.

The book follows the Comet’s rapid development, from authorisation to production in barely 4 years, leading up to that exciting afternoon on the 27th of July 1949 that saw her roar into the skies above the Hatfield factory.

Continuing to look at the Comet’s seemingly unstoppable rise, the initial success and the development of the Comet is covered. This saw it grow not only in engine power, efficiency and customers, but even in size as the Comet 3 prototype comprised of longer fuselage to accommodate increased passengers and fuel loads as the Comet moved, without rival, into routes all over the world. All with levels of luxury not before seen in the sky.

On we continue to what was some of the darkest days for the type, the loss of multiple aircraft and many lives lead to the grounding of the entire Comet fleet in 1954. The subsequent investigations are looked at as well as briefly describing the testing methods that lead to discovery of the ultimate cause of the accidents.

The rebirth of Comet which saw the development of the airframe into the larger Comet 3 and 4 saw BOAC again place its faith in the type. Indeed, it used the extensive testing period the Comet had endured because of the 1954 accidents to its advantage describing the Comet 4 as ‘The worlds most tested jetliner’

Next, we move on to the Comet’s slow decline that begins with BOAC, the Comets biggest supporter to date, moving its fleet over to the larger Boeing 707 to enable it to remain competitive on the scheduled routes whilst moving its fleet of Comets to its smaller subsidiary airlines across the Empire.

Overseas operators are covered next with Comets being used by airlines across the world, but the aviation industries shift towards chartered flights during the 60’s for the rapidly expanding package holiday market was already seeing the type become uncompetitive.

Still the type was to remain in service with what had become the operator of the single largest fleet of Comets, Dan-Air, until the end of 1980 when the type made its final commercial flight.

As the book nears its end it looks at the Comet’s service with the RAF. The chapter covers the roles of types during their service with 216 Squadron and 192 Squadron, the latter being renumbered 51 Squadron, before the most extensive modifications saw the Comet inspired maritime patrol aircraft The Nimrod come into existence.

Before ending the book, the author treats us to a chapter of anecdotes from RAF Comet pilots Brian Burdett and Peter Bowright

As you may guess by the way I go on a bit in this review this is an aircraft and story I love. The tale of its birth from war time meetings to its retirement at the dawn of the 1980s is one that provides times of fantastic highs of record-breaking journeys and cutting-edge development and terrible lows.

It took place during a time of great turmoil for the British aviation industry, which saw many of the famous names from wartime aviation disappear. Whether that be due to liquidation or their merger into large corporations desperately trying to be able to keep the British aviation industry competitive and relevant on a global stage.

Thanks to the author, this is a story any aviation fan can enjoy. Whilst including enough detail to keep the enthusiast interested, I think the balance is well done and it should not be off putting to those with just a passing interest in the subject and throughout, the story is accompanied by an array of beautiful photographs.

I would as always like to thank Pen and Sword books for allowing me the opportunity to review this book. You can pick up your copy of this book, along with many more great titles at their website.

Focke Wulf 190: Birth Of The Butcher Bird 1939-1945

This book unsurprisingly covers the development of the FW190, a German aircraft that really was a workhorse for the Luftwaffe during WWII with its many variants allowing it to be utilised for a wide range of mission, from air superiority to bombing missions in theatres from the Eastern Front to North Africa.

The book begins by concisely covering the development of the type from its prototype to production aircraft and the many variants developed for the various missions and theatres they were deployed for. This part of the book covers many of the improvements and alterations throughout the variants of the type, their armaments and their mission types; there is also an explanation of the colours and markings used on the type.

The book then contains over a hundred fantastic photographs, a few of which are even in colour, showing the aircraft in a huge range of situations, theatres and variants all of which are all captioned to explain what they show along with any other pertinent information about the photographs. The images published included some lovely detail shots and some images of rarely seen captured aircraft and a few other unusually marked airframes.

On the whole I found the book to be a great source reference material and information, whether it be for general interest or looking at it like myself as a model maker. The publication is a great source of inspiration and information about the type for anyone interested in aircraft of this era and is a superb resource for anyone looking for photographic reference material on this extremely important aircraft.

The book is available from Pen and Sword at:

Something Else New!

Well along with my first foray into the world of sci-fi modelling I am adding something new to the blog, I have been approached to review books for Pen and Sword who are publishers of a variety of military, aviation, martime, local history, true crime and nostalgia books which I have agreed to do with the focus of my reviews being military history and in particular aviation books.

As model makers we are always in search of reference material for our projects, whether this be in photographic form or the written word with first person accounts of missions, deployments and exercises so I thought I would add the my reviews of the books to the blog to try and help point people in the right direction for sources of reference material.