Saturday, 30 June 2012

Book review – Striking Back

Striking Back – Britain’s airborne and commando raids 1940-42, Niall Cherry, 2009, approximately 400 pages.
The book will give you a very detailed account of both the birth of the commandos and paras, their training and detailed accounts of the early raids. And I mean really detailed.
Some of the raids covered in the book:
Operation Collar – the French coast, June 1940.  A small commando raid. Not a huge success, actually quite a failure.
Operation Ambassador – Guernsey, July 1940. A total failure. One group didn’t find any enemies, but were shot at when leaving. Another didn’t even reach the Island (due to one craft starting to sink, among other things), the third party had a faulty compass, and probably landed on the island of Sark.
Operation Colossus – Italy, February 1941. This airborne raid, with about 40 men, to blow an aqueduct, was also a failure. The aqueduct was blown, but it was sturdier than expected and most of the explosives were dropped in the wrong place, so the damage was limited, and it was repaired in a couple of days. The men didn’t fare so well.
Operation Claymore – Norway, March 1941. Believe it or not, but one of the targets were a fish-liver oil factory. It succeeded, and there was much rejoicing among the children of Germany, I guess.
Operation Flipper – North Africa, November 1941. The attack of Rommel’s headquarters. It would have been a sensation, if only it had been Rommel’s headquarters…
Operation Biting - The Bruneval Raid - France, February 1942. The famous raid to hi-jack a German radar.
Operation Musketoon – Norway, September 1942. A raid to blow up a power station that supplied an aluminium smelting plant with electricity.

The first 275 or so pages detail these, and a couple of other raids, training etc of the units. All of it very interesting, and some hilarious (Like the first parachute jump of one of the men, using the pull-off method (you sit backwards in the place where the rear gun turret used to be, on a small platform about a foot square more or less in the open, release your parachute and off you go). The instructor told him how to release the parachute, the nervous chap said “OK, like this?” and in the second it took for the chute to open, heard the instructor yell “Not now, you bloody fool!”. I read that part while sitting by the bed of my youngest, waiting for her to fall asleep. She didn’t, because of my laughter...)
After that the appendixes, and these are real treasure troves (Yes, I do love details. They show that the author has done his work. A good reference list is also something of a must, in my opinion.). Everything you would need is here, in 120 pages:
Copies of letters, orders, reports, specifications on personnel, weapons, equipment (just for your knowledge; every man in Operation Colossus were to carry chewing gum and a little toilet paper, among other things), decorations received and more. Even I was satisfied.
And last, a short bibliography and an index.

This is a truly excellent book. It has everything. Very well written, full of details and well researched. You will learn something, even if you thought you knew it all. If you intend to write a scenario based on any of these raids, then this book is a must.

I cannot recommend Striking Back enough. Full marks, 5 out of 5! Read it!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Italian airfield personnel

The LRDG-attack on an Italian airfield does need targets. Aeroplanes are a given, also barracks, guard posts, guns, fuel dumps and vehicles. But what is an airfield without airfield personnel? Obviously not much, so personnel we had to find.
We're doing stuff!
I didn’t find any obvious models for this. But a box of Airfix WWII Luftwaffe Personnel had to do as ersatz Italians. Who’s to complain, there is no Osprey on these guys, as far as I know.
You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen...
This is the initial trial run, with a mix of figures and the pilots. The results are good enough, so I’ll paint the rest of the figs in the same way.
I do not approve!
Colours used (Vallejo unless otherwise noted):
Uniform: 847 Dark Sand
Shoes, belts: Humbrol 62 Leather
Equipment: 977 Desert Yellow
Skin: 955 Flat Flesh
Hair: 872 Chocolat Brown
Everything washed with Army Painter Quickshade Ink Soft Tone, and boots washed with Citadel Devlan Mud (RIP)
Uniform: 874 Tan Earth
Skin: 955 Flat Flesh
Washed with Citadel Devlan Mud (RIP)

Monday, 18 June 2012

German 20mm Anti-Aircraft Gun from Zvezda in 1/72

I have had this kit in the plastic mountain for a couple of months, and I felt it was time to invest some effort into my 20mm armies.
This kit is from Zvezdas’ Art of Tactic game. I’m not really familiar with the game, but the figures are really useful. They have infantry and artillery in 1/72 scale, armour in 1/100 and planes in 1/144 or 1/200. They have a Operation Barbarossa game and they are just releasing a Blitzkrieg 1940 game. Lots of useful kits already, and the new range promises a lot of goodies, like the British 2pdr AT-gun.
I’ve just ordered a few more kits, you will see reviews here shortly.

First of all, this is a very nice little set, one 20mm AA-gun with two crew and one baseplate. The kit snaps together very well, the detailing is really nice, and all in in all an excellent kit. The only downside was that the gun had to be situated on the baseplate, as details of the carriage for the gun is integrated into the base.
Paints used (Vallejo unless otherwise noted)
995 German Grey, drybrushed with 992 Neutral Grey
Uniform: 830 German Field Grey
Trousers: 836 London Grey
Helmet: 869 Basalt Grey
Belt and boots: Black
Washed with Citadel black wash
Bottle: P3 Bootstrap Leather
Skin: 955 Flat Flesh washed with Army Painter Quickshade Soft Tone Ink.
Everything coated with matte varnish.
Highly recommended.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Alderan – Crâne Warrior by Rackham

Another figure from the tin-mountain, this time an undead from Rackham (RIP). A big brute, standing over 50mm to the top of his head.
Paints used:
Flesh – Citadel Rotting Flesh, Vallejo 835 Salmon Rose and 944 Old Rose
Bones - Vallejo Game Colour Bone White
Metal – Citadel Chainmail
Leather – Vallejo 876 Brown Sand
Cloth – Vallejo 879 Green Brown
Washed with Citadel Devlan Mud (RIP)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Mantic skeletons

More figures from Mantic, this time skeletons, a dog and a skeleton bursting from the ground.
Painted with Vallejo Game Colour Bone White, washed with Devlan Mud, and drybrushed with Bone White again. Dog collar: Citadel Chainmail washed with Devlan Mud.
Quick and easy, and will soon see action in the D&D campaign.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Tutorial – undercoating – black or white or both?

Black or white? That is the question.
A white undercoat will give brighter colours, but you might get these annoying white specks in crevices – places your ordinary paint didn’t cover, and where the undercoat shows in a most irritating way.
A black undercoat will give a more dull finish, and you’ll find it hard to cover it with yellows and reds for example.
You can off course undercoat with other colours. If you would like to paint a figure in mostly reds, then a red undercoat could serve you very well.
My take on undercoats is a mix of white and black.
I paint the figures with white paint, usually Citadel or Vallejo (simply because I have them). You could use spray paints, but I prefer using a brush, mainly because the climate makes spraying outside impossible during at least half the year, also because I’m not very skilled with airbrushing and painting by hand will give me a chance to study the details of the fig.
I then give them a black wash, and there you have the best of both worlds. A light base with dark crevices. Easy to cover, no white spots, and instant shading for lighter colours with weak coverage. It also makes it easier for you to appreciate all the details of the figure, so it helps you in painting.
An extra plus is that you will see mould lines easily, as on the head on  this zombie from Mantic. This saves you the irritation of finding those lines the hard way, when your figure is nearly finished.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Tutorial – undercoating soft plastics – a sticky problem

Getting paint to stick on soft plastic soldiers (that is, the soft-plastic ones, like the classic 1/72 or 1/76 scale plastics by Airfix, Revell, Caesar, Hät, etc.) is a problem.
A couple of years ago I got the tip to undercoat with white glue (wood glue). I was sceptical, but tried it out.
At first it looks really messy, as the glue formed globules, or fills recesses, as in these photos.
(Figures from Airfix Luftwaffe Personell. They will be used as Italian airfield personell in our upcoming LRDG scenario)
After some experimenting I found out that if you wait a little while after applying the glue, it dries a bit, and you brush it out again. If you’ve done it right you will have the figure covered with a thin and even coating of wood glue. As it dries it contracts and gives a very strong coat.
Let it dry thoroughly, and you will have a god surface for your ordinary undercoat. More on that in my next short tutorial.
(Sorry about the photos, but I just couldn’t get the camera to focus on the wet surface)

Monday, 11 June 2012

28mm fences from Renedra

Bar fencing from Renedra. They’ve got several different types of fences, gravestones, tents, houses, bases etc. Really nice stuff.
Needed some trimming of mould lines, but that was easy with a scalpel.
Paints used:
Vallejo Panzer Aces 310 Old Wood – basecoat
Citadel Devlan Mud – wash
Vallejo 976 Buff – drybrush 
Highly recommended for fast results.

Friday, 8 June 2012 Frontline Gamer

Frontline Gamer is a favourite site of mine, and he has had several competitions lately. In the current one you can win a Blood-Maw, Vore from Bane Legions. Become a follower and make a comment on his site, and it could be yours.
As an bonus, you will also follow a really excellent blog.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

One more pulp zombie

This guy has shambled around on the painting table for a year or so. Finally finished him.

He comes from Cold War Miniatures, and the DWW13 – Good God pack. Rather crude sculpt and not the best details. He is done, and will hopefully disappear in the mob.
I’m not very impressed with the result L