Wednesday 29 August 2018

The World's Most Famous Farmhouse (Probably....)

This weekend just gone I was in Belgium to celebrate (some 22 months after the event) my 50th birthday. Laura surprised Father Dad with weekend tickets to the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, by far and away my favourite motor racing circuit, and we had  a great time watching F1, GP2, GP3 and Porsches tearing around the track, finishing off with a picnic on the slope at the Eau Rouge corner (F1's best), watching fans toboggan down the slope on stolen advertising hoardings and a gang or joyriders make off up the hill onto the Kemmel Straight in a couple of forklift trucks (complete with "passengers" on the forks!). Crazy times :)

On the way back to Brussels we stopped off at Waterloo. I've been travelling to Belgium for work trips for nearly 20 years but this was the first time I'd been able to see any of the country outside Brussels or Bruges, so it was a "pilgrimage" long overdue.

I shan't expound too much as I'm guessing many readers will have been there, but it was a lovely experience. We didn't get to do much walking as we were both shattered (we walked about 50 miles over the weekend at the circuit, our campsite was some distance away and we circumnavigated the track each day). So we limited our vsiit to the 1815 Museum, the Panorama and Lion Mound, and then to La Belle Alliance and the world's mos famous farmhouse, La Haye Sainte. I received the Airfix LHS model for Christmas when it first came out and I've had a couple of others (plus one in 1/300) since then. So it was lovely to see the buildings in the flesh for the first time.

We finished off the day in the lovely grounds of the Chateau de la Hulpe  before heading back to the airport and home. Planning a longer trip now to revisit these sites, then Hougomont and the rest of the battlefield, museums and memorials.

Finally, well done to Herr Vettel for his win...

Laura had her photo taken with Lewis Hamilton.....

And we got a great shot of Stoffel Vandoorne's fastest lap around the circuit :D

Sunday 19 August 2018

More 1/700 Fun

I think I mentioned a while back that I was doing up my 1/700 modern coastal collection for "Bulldogs Away", having found a few unmade models whilst I was renovating my 1/600 WW2 collection. In the last few days I've been building or finishing off a few larger 1/700 craft, in particular a kit of an Allen M Sumner class destroyer that I picked up at Thornbury a couple of weekends ago.

The Sumner was a model in WW2 configuration and I was going to build it like that as a low tech "target", but I had a change of heart and decided on an upgrade. So I replaced the aft superstructure with a small DASH flight deck and hangar, built a new tripod mainmast and replaced the torpedo tubes with a couple of MM38 Exocet boxes. The end result is a "FRAMish" Sumner which is representative of the post war conversions that many of the class enjoyed and which were then sold off around the world. It is by no mans "accurate" but serves to give an impression. And I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out.

Other newcomers include an FFG7, a Charles F Adams, a Knox, HMS York (Type 42 Batch 3), a high speed ferry and a civilian research vessel.The ferry was an Old Crow 1/300 scale model. I scrubbed off the window detail, filled in the gap between the hulls and the superstructure, added a foldable stern ramp typical of ships of this type and built a new full width bridge to give the right impression for 1/700. Again something I'm quite pleased with.

Sunday 12 August 2018


Lat week I picked up a few plastic kits from the IPMS Thornbury show. My "prize" was a 1/700 model of LCS-4, USS Coronado. I've been after one of these for a while for my modern coastal collection but only found them on Ebay for ridiculous prices so it was nice t find a more reasonably priced one on my doorstep. To be honest the LCS programme is a bit outside of my modern coastal timeframe which tends to end in the 1980s or early 1990s, but I have a soft spot for the trimaran version (some of my work at UCL went into the design) and it looks suitably outlandish to make a model rather irresistible.

At the same time I used the Delta III model that I got at Thornbury to make an earlier Delta I, an easy conversion that simply needs the missile compartment shortening by 4 missiles. There are probably more detailed differences but for the purposes of wargaming a perfectly acceptable solution. Whilst I painted up the Delta I also repainted an old Oscar II that had been sitting unloved ina box for about 20 years.

Finally I finished off a few packs of 15mm Scots pikemen that have also been in a box for decades, remnants of my WoR campaign plans in the 1990s. These guys went missing and were replaced at the time by some Essex figures but they are done now and will take their place in with their older painted brothers soon. They are nice figures and have a more irregular look than the Essex troops. I wonder if the Falcon figures are still available?

Wednesday 8 August 2018

INWarD 2018 - The Baltic

My INWarD game 2018 game took place at the local Berkeley Vale club, where six ab initio naval gamers encountered the chilly wastes of the Baltic in Spring 1943. This was a 1/600 coastal saction, with a German scratch force of S Boats, R Boats and an armed auxiliary attempting to sink a crippled Soviet submarine escorted by sub chasers and a couple of G5 MTBs. Scattered ice floes complicated the picture. The game was a fast and furious mix of gunnery, high speed manoeuvring, tenacious torpedo attacks and much hilarity. In the end the Soviets drove off the attackers, sinking one S Boat, crippling an R Boat and the auxiliary. No Soviet craft were lost although a number sustained heavy damage. The Germans launched torpedoes at long range but narrowly missed the submarine, which if successful would have been an automatic victory for them. Good fun was had by all, and we may try an Adriatic action soon. Alas I was concentrating on the game so much I failed to get many pictures!

I followed up the game with a solo refight of River plate. A quiet affair that started as the historical battle with Exeter heavily damaged early on, but a couple of solid hits from Ajax slowed Graf Spee to the point where the British light cruisers could close for a torpedo attack. Achilles was heavily damaged in the approach, but Ajax scored a hit that crippled Graf Spee and left her a sitting duck for a second torpedo attack that sent her to the bottom. No photos of this one as it was late and my phone battery was flat. I really need to get myself a PO(Phot) for these occasions!

Saturday 4 August 2018

The Swiss, 15mm DBA

Twenty eight years ago Liz and I went on honeymoon to Murren in the Berner Oberland. One day we went on a steamer trip to Thun where we visited the castle, therein was a lovely display featuring medieval Swiss armies (there was also a floor dedicated to Swiss methods of punishing unruly women, but that's another story).  I was also struck by the large number of colourful flags flying all around the region. Swiss national flags, but also lots of Berner Oberlander flags, and flags of each town and village. I was in a bit of a DBA phase at the time so when I got home I wrote to Essex and got myself a 15mm DBA Swiss army. Then we moved house, the unpainted army went into a box and stayed there for nearly 28 years....

Fast forward to 2018 and I'm clearing out stuff to sell at the Lincombe Barn tabletop sale, and I find an old bag full of 15mm figures. They go into the box of odds and ends to sell, but then as I'm at the show I think back to the happy summer days in the mountains, and before long the bag of figures is off the table.....

It still took 2 months to get them on to the painting table, but last week the Swiss finally made it out of the bag and onto the worktop. And here they are, kitted out in the red and yellow of the Berner Oberland, with contingents of pikemen from Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen and Murren (if the army ever expands then Grindelwald and Wengen will get contingents too, but thats for later).

I'm quite pleased with how they have turned out, especially as this is the first DBA army I've painted for ages. Of course between getting them and now DBA 3 has arrived and the army lists are completely different, but I'm not fussed and my Swiss will take to the table with what they've got for now.

Figures are mainly Essex, with a few old TTG and Minifigs (which similarly have sat in a box for nearly 30 years).

Something I'd like to add would be a vignette with a dancing bear and handler (these are the Swss, after all). I know there are suitable figures in 25/28mm but I've not seen anything suitable in 15mm. Anyone got any ideas?

I alsofound this rather nice bombard in a siege emplacement, with some rather nice crew, which I thought I'd paint up as well. Not sure which company makes them - I also have a trebuchet from the same company. Again - any clues?