Painting War Gaming Figures: WWII In The Desert

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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!

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Book Review: Flight Craft 18 “Special” – British Military Test and Evaluation Aircraft The Golden Years 1945 – 1975

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Flight Craft 18

This volume of the Flight Craft series differs somewhat to those I have reviewed previously. Typically, the books concentrate on a single aircraft type such as The Spitfire or the ME-109 for example, this one differs in that it covers a genre of aircraft.
Prototypes and test aircraft are always at the forefront of development, and they can often be radically different to the aircraft they are intended to replace, this book covers British Test and Evaluation aircraft during what was probably the busiest period of aircraft development for the British industry, 1945-1975.
This post war environment and the rapid shift in predicted warfare tactics this period bore witness to massive developments being made in everything from avionics to electronics, weapons to power plants. This volume concentrates mostly on the colour schemes and markings of these aircraft during this period.
The book starts in the 1940’s with 1945-1950 being looked at. The chapter begins, as do the others in the book, by describing the conditions and developments the period was to bear witness to and there plenty of fantastic photographs and the superb full colour profiles of aircraft that we are by now used to finding in this series of books. There are profiles of some fantastic and unusual aircraft in this section including the Armstrong Whitworth AW.52, Saunders-Roe’s SR.A1 and De Havilland 108 Swallow.
Next, we move into the 1950’s, a decade that due to the Cold war saw much development of British aircraft, it witnessed the quest for supersonic fighters. There are profiles of what have become very famous aircraft in the Gloster Meteor, the English Electric Canberra and the Hunter, accompanying these are profiles of test versions of the Lincoln B2, the Avro Lancaster B.1 (special) and the Fairy Gannet amongst many other aircraft.
The 60’s is looked at next, which was a decade of decline really for the British aviation industry, the cancellation of the TSR.2 project is often looked at as the focal point of this decline. This was a project that so much of the British aviation industry was focused on that its cancellation was to have massive repercussions for the sector. The increase in development costs for new aircraft types was causing more collaborative efforts with other countries to come to the fore. Still this meant that aircraft such as the HP.115 and BAC 221 which were produced as part of the Anglo-French Concorde project for example. The 60’s did see the birth of one of the real highlights of British aircraft design the Hawker P.1127 was developed into what was to enter service as the Harrier. There are also references for aircraft such as the Javelin and some rotary wings in the form of the Westland Scout and Whirlwind.
Finally the book moves into the 70s and there are more variants of the Canberra, Javelin and Hunter looked at along with things like the Vickers Viscount, Handley Page Hastings, there’s even a VC-10 and a Shackleton to name just a few of the aircraft in this chapter and there are again rotary wings in the form of Westland Wessex and the Sea King.
Overall this book is a fantastic resource for the modeller, again as with all Flight Craft books this should provide great references and inspiration to maybe get a conversion or two on the bench or look at reproducing some of the fantastic and rarely seen schemes the test aircraft of the post war period wore with pride. The photographs and profiles are good quality and the accompanying text and captions are informative. This volume is definitely one you should pick up if you like aircraft of the period.

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.

IPMS Dundee Model Show 2019

It’s the annual IPMS Dundee model show today being held again at the Boomerang Centre on Kemback street in Dundee.. although I am not there myself due to work commitments I can’t urge you enough to pop in and check out the club displays, pick up a bargain from one of the traders or just have a bacon roll and a blether to some friendly like minded modellers!

Book Review: The Royal Navy Wasp. An Operational & Retirement History

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The Royal Navy Wasp: An Operational & Retirement History

So, I have another book from those fantastic people over at Pen & Sword Books to have a look at, this time it’s a subject matter with wings that are rotary rather than my usual fixed wing interest.

This publication looks at the small but mighty Westland Wasp, this was the first helicopter in the world to be designed to be deployed at sea.

The book begins by looking at the conditions during the post war period that lead to the development of the Wasp as a solution. Anti-Submarine operations using aircraft were nothing new, in fact aircraft have been used since the first world war to attack submarines, albeit in a much less sophisticated manner. During WWII though things were advancing rapidly but still ships and aircraft alike needed to catch their prey on the surface to launch an attack.

Technology continued to advance and by the 50s aircraft were able to detect even submerged vessels. It was at this point the Navy decided the use of a small helicopter that could be launched from destroyers and frigates as a weapon carrier in anti-submarine warfare operations could be an effective tool.

From the outset the book includes anecdotes from pilots and crew. From the test pilots, to those that were to use the aircraft in operations and finally those that went on to operate the aircraft in a civilian role. These are taken not only directly from the crew members or official reports, but also from articles in publications such as Cockpit! or Flight Deck Magazines for example. I found many of these to be really fascinating and I loved being able to read these first-hand accounts of what the aircraft was like to operate and the tasks it was asked to carry out.

Moving on we take a brief look at the company that would eventually go on to secure the contract for providing this ship-based aircraft, The Westland Aircraft Works, and how it came to purchase Saunders Roe and with it their prototype project P531. This aircraft was subsequently developed into the land-based Scout and what was briefly named the Sea Scout, which was the basis of what became the Wasp

The development of the Wasp during the early years is looked at, covering everything from engine improvements to safety systems such as the flotation devices for a ditched helicopter. Weaponry and aircraft roles are looked at next including the development of new roles for the Wasp to be utilised in as a counter to emerging threats such as the advent of the Fast Patrol Boat for example.

As the book continues we hear about the initial deployment of the aircraft to the vessels it was to serve from and the trials that those early crews faced, both the flight team and the ships company. More articles from Flight Deck and Cockpit provide a great insight to what these early days of Wasp operation was like.

There are more anecdotal articles describing first-hand what it was like to work with the aircraft including a brief diary covering a year of operations by a Naval Air Engineering Mechanic on board the HMS Naiad during the early 80s. There are also accounts from three different vessels carrying Wasps that were deployed during the ‘Cod Wars’ of the 70s. This makes for interesting reading due to the unusual and sensitive nature of the situation.

Returning to the 80s we head into the Falklands conflict, looking at the aircrafts first real operations in a theatre of war. This section begins with the account of the flight on HMS Endurance which was the only Navy vessel in the area when hostilities began, and it is during this account that we hear about the encounter between the Argentine submarine Santa Fe and the Wasp that saw the first guided missile ever fired by the Royal Navy not only being fired but also meeting its target.

Falklands missions are also described from Flights aboard several other vessels including HMS Plymouth, HMS Yarmouth, the hospital ship HMS Hydra along with HMS Herald and HMS Hecla. Missions after the surrender are also looked at from other vessels.

There are then more personal accounts from crews that flew the aircraft during its service with the Navy, including the book authors own experiences with the aircraft.

Moving away from the Wasps service to the UK the book takes a look at their 2nd lease of life which was to be found abroad. Service was to be seen with New Zealand, The Netherlands, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil and South Africa with some aircraft remaining in service well into the 90s and beyond, impressive considering the type first flew in 1962.

Finally, the book looks at the few Wasps that are still active although not in military service. With the aircraft now in civilian hands the trials and tribulations they have faced since becoming civilian owned are covered, such as an impromptu search and rescue mission during a 2016 air show after another aircraft was forced to ditch into the sea.

In conclusion, I have found this book to be a very interesting read. I found the stories from operations to be very compelling and those centred around operations in the Falklands in particular were my favourite part of the book. Whilst it is true that this is an aviation history book more than anything else there are still some great reference images for modellers alongside the fantastic stories and I don’t think the level of detail the book goes into should be off-putting to anyone with an interest in military, naval or aviation subjects.

If you fancy picking up your own copy of this title then you can do so over at Pen & Swords Website, I would also recommend having a good look around on the site too as there are loads of great titles to be found.

Book Review: Flight Craft 16 Hawker Hunter in British Service

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Flight Craft 16: Hawker Hunter in British Service

This issue in the Flight Craft series focuses on the Hawker Hunter in British service. This is an aircraft that has always been able to lay claim to being one of the most elegant jets to have graced the RAF in service. It is a design that despite its emergence during a period of rapid advancement in British aviation, was able to remain in service until the final flight of XL612 in 2001.

The Flight Craft series are fantastic resources for modellers and this edition is no exception, as always the aircraft’s history is looked at, starting rightly with the prototypes of the design we move swiftly through the various marks to enter RAF service. The concise descriptions of the upgrades each revision saw are often accompanied by the reasons the modifications were sought, all alongside the usual excellent standard of photographs that are always present in the series.

Next the book continues by covering the two seat variants of the aircraft in a similar manner and then moves on to take a brief look at the naval GA.11 variant, again all accompanied by great quality images and captions.

The Camouflage and Markings section comes next with its array of fantastic artwork covering many of the types and schemes the Hunter has been found in during its history. This section has been my favourite part of previous Flight Craft titles and this is no exception. The quality of artwork really is fantastic and the with the variety of schemes covered you are sure to find inspiration for a future build.

Modelling the Hunter is covered next with images of some great completed kits and conversions before finally the book moves on to look at the Hunter’s cockpit, this includes some great detail photography of the cockpits and ejection seats.

Overall this book is yet another great addition to the Flight Craft series, if your planning a build in the future of pretty much any variant of the aircraft in British service then there should be something for you in this book.

I know I say this at the end of every book review but my thanks really do go out to Pen &Sword for the continued opportunity to review titles like these. You can pick up your copy of this book, along with many other fantastic titles over at their website.

East Neuk Model Show 2019


So we’re at the East Neuk Model Show today in the Old Parish Centre, Cupar, Fife. If your in the area come along, grab a bacon roll, coffee and a bargain or too.

I’ll take plenty of photos and maybe even get round to posting them, not like the ones from the Scottish Nationals that are still wallowing on my memory card!

I’ve Hawked that up, well kind of!

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Dry fitting the wings.

I thought I would do a little work on the Hawk so I thought I would continue with the build and dry fit the wings, well the fit was really good, like unheard of for Airfix good, so in my excitement at the great fit I glued the wings together and attached them to the fuselage, I also took the opportunity to attach the tail planes as you can see in the image below and I retired for the evening and its been a couple of days since glueing as I have been distracted with the laser cutter.

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Wings and Tail planes attached, but wait.. it seems I have forgotten something!

So I returned from work today and decided to do a little more work on the Hawk. Out came the box and I looked at the instruction sheet to see where I was and what I should be doing next and it was at this point that I realised, in my haste and excitement the other night at finding a couple of parts in an airfix kit that actually fit together, that I had missed out a couple of crucial steps!

I had intended to build the airframe fully loaded out but I have missed drilling out the fixing points for the underwing pylons! Also the wing tip mounted ordinance required the cutting off of the kits wing tips to fit replacement tips that are moulded with pylons. All of this should have been done before building the wings and attaching them to the fuselage as can be seen in the photo of the instructions.

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Ahh the instructions, maybe I should consult these more often!

So now I have to decide whether to try and take the wings back off and seperate the halves, or just to build her clean with no ordinance. To say I am a little annoyed would be an understatement. I think it’s time to put this one back in the box for a couple of nights whilst I think about this although I fear my choice has already been removed and made for me by the error. In the mean time though I think it’s time to get the SR-71 back out.

A Really Big Box Arrived!

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It’s a big wooden box, but what’s inside?!

So I know I went quiet again for a week or so and there has been good reason, a really big wooden crate arrived with the newest addition to the studio, along with a new desk to sit it on. A jewellers workbench has also arrived and found its way into the studio for my partners hobby.

Anyway back to my big box! I have been trying to talk myself into this purchase for over a year now, so it was a bit of a releif to have finally got it done have it arrive. So what’s in the box?! I hear you cry!

Well it’s a 40watt Laser Engraving machine. I know many call them cutters but I suppose at this power level they are really more at the engraving end of the spectrum rather than the cutting end, although I have already done a couple of test cuts and it does cut too, although I am yet to test up to what thickness.

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The latest addition to the studio, my laser engraving machine!

So why is I suppose the next question and to be honest I have been wanting one for around 2 years since doing a laser cutting course at my local contemporary arts centre.

I have so many ideas for things I want to do with it but for the time being I have been mostly just playing around, getting to know the machine and the software, hence I haven’t been around much for building and posting since it arrived.

I have also been trying to design a range of parts I want to make using the laser for making life in the studio easier so I have been hitting the CAD package to iron out my designs.

Finally I have an idea for display bases for some of my builds so keep your eyes open for them making sneaky appearances on the blog although it won’t be for a wee while yet as I am still working on the artwork.

So I will leave you for now with a photo of the prototype of the best in class awards I am making for this years show the model club I am a member of is putting on. Let me know what you think!

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Prototype design for Best In Class Awards for this years show.

SR struggles! (Entirely of my own making)

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Well the SR-71 progress is almost back where it was a week ago!

Sometimes kit’s just do not want to be built, at least that’s the feeling I am starting to get with this SR-71. After slipping with the scribe on my first attempt at reinstating the detail I lost during sanding, I had to fix the damage. So I filled and sanded the area a couple of nights ago and yesterday went to re-scribe the lines again.

I know it’s been a while since I was building regularly but I really should have avoided the schoolboy errors that were to befall me, how I did not see this coming I don’t know.

This is where the problems started. Error number 1: I had forgotten to de-tac the Dymo tape I use as a guide when scribing!

So my process when scribing is usually to use the edge of Dymo embossed label tape as a guide for the scribe line. I usually lay the tape and just do a really light line first, peel part of the Dymo tape back to check the line is positioned correctly and then lay the tape back down and go over the line a couple of times. I only peel part of the tape back so that I can lay it back down in exactly the same position.

Unfortunately what happened was I tried to peel the tape back to check the initial light scribe and because it hadn’t been de-tac’d it managed to pull a part of the primer and filler I had previously applied to the panel right off with the part of the tape I lifted.

What I should of done then is lay the tape back down to continue with the scribing then worry about fixing the panel after this was done… but again I didn’t do that!

Instead of doing that though error number 2 came along as panic and frustration set in and  I took off the Dymo tape and out came the sanding sticks, fillers etc as I proceed to fix the panel.

What this then meant was today I had to try and re align the new piece of nicely de-tac’d Dymo tape to the line I had previously scribed which I could now barely see due to the remedial work. True to form I got the alignment wrong as you can see in the picture below and made a mess of the panel line for the 2nd time!

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Re-scribe is really not going to plan!

So the filler and sanding sticks are going to need to come out again, unfortunately a little of the previous fill has also chipped away during the failed scribe due to the 2 attempts not quite lining up so that will need tidied up too.

For now though I think it’s time to take a breather and break out the Airfix Hawk as I don’t want frustration to set in. Oh and if your wondering why the canopy frames look so poorly fitted its because they haven’t actually been worked on yet. I just clipped them off the sprue and blu-tac’d them in place to protect the cockpit interior during prime and paint.

Detail painting the nEOmega Cockpit

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Whilst still needing work (and some correction to colours used) the seats are starting to look a bit more like they should.

Now I am moving things back into my studio I can start working on all those projects that stalled during the home renovations again. Whilst I still haven’t actually bought my new work benches / desks yet I have moved my old bench back in the mean time so I have somewhere to work at.

One of the long stalled projects is the BAe Hawk 100 I started working on almost exactly a year ago now. I didn’t really get that much done before work started at home so I was glad to see this one return to the bench as it is a kit I was really looking forward to building.

Well the box was promptly deposited on the bench and I started pulling parts and sprues out and examining them when I came across the parts for the NeOmega Resin cockpit I had begun dry fitting the last time the kit was on the bench. I eagerly whipped out the detail brushes and some paints and set to work on the bang seats first of all.

My Google skills must have suffered during my time away, given the popularity of this aircraft across the world for some reason I was actually struggling to find reference photos to work from to begin with, so I started using some of the kits standard colour call outs mixed in with some, as I later found out, not so accurate guess work.

Regardless I ploughed on occasionally heading back to Google and occasionally finding something like a half decent reference photo. This means that there is some correction work to do with regards to the colours used but, for the most part it was nice just to be able to get some paint down and detail picked out.

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Somewhat rustily picking out details on the instrumentation panels.

The Instrumentation panels were next and to be honest I did struggle a little with this. I know its just a matter of being out of practice though so I wasn’t too disheartened at my initial attempts. I may well go back and re-paint them though. Dry brushing and picking out detail I find is something I need to do regular to be able to achieve the result I want so I don’t mind the prospect of it taking me a couple of attempts to get it looking the way I would like.

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The rear instrument panel I found myself struggling to get the details picked out on to the level I wanted.

Moving on from the instrument panels I decided to have a look at the tub and control sticks, again I found myself not entirely enamoured with my results but I was starting to find things a little more familiar by this time and I think I made a better job of this than the panels.

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As I picked out details on the tub things started feeling a little more familiar.

It all still needs tidying up, some parts still need repainted and then I can get a nice wash down to try and tone down some of the colours and give the base grey more of a used look and tie it all together which will no doubt help a fair bit.

None the less I decided to throw it all together in another dry fit just to see how everything looked with this initial attempt at paint and see how much of the errors in my first attempt at painting could actually be seen.

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Dry fitting the painted parts back together to assess the attempt.

Well, as is usual when your not looking at things in isolation, it started to look better and other than some tidying up and the colour corrections I think I may get away without having to repaint everything if I want to.

Regardless of end result it was good to get my hand back in and I was also quite pleased that I hadn’t become disheartened after assessing the initial attempt. It’s important to remember when detail painting like this that it is just paint and paint can easily be stripped for another attempt or even just painted over.

Anyway I will leave you with one final photo of the parts dry fitted you will see in this one there is a join seam on the rear cowling that will need a little work once everything is glued in place, I am off to practice my Google as well as my detail painting some more.

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