Of plastic kits and modelling shows….

On Sunday I popped into the local IPMS (International Plastic Modellers Society) show held at the leisure centre in town before I hit the gym there for an hour or so. I had quick run round the display tables- the standard of craftsmanship was very high and a bit of an impulse shopping spree on the trade stands.

 

Whilst there I also made a decision about my current and future gaming collection. !/72nd scale aircraft are just too big- I’m going to pare down my collection of them and go for 1/144 for those models that don’t need to land on the table. Helicopters will be kept in 1/72 though to match up with my 20mm collection. This should free up quite a bit of space. To this end I’m starting to list my kit collection on ebay- the money I make will be invest back into 1/144th scale kits or other toys.

So what did I buy?

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As you can see I’ve started on my 1/144th collection. The paints are for a 6mm project, new sprue cutter- always good to have a sharp pair, the now out of production MMS Russian AT gun will be used for a Megablitz/ Crossfire project. The two diecasts were cheap and the impulse purchase, one is a limited edition but I’ll take it out of its box and use it in a wargame….

My painting has been quite slow due to the weather. I paint in a shed which is rather cold; not that the temperature bothers me but my breath condensing on metal figures makes it hard to paint. However I did mange to finish these 28mm Soviets:

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I’ll do better pictures when all of them are finished.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

 

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Normandy trip: Pegasus Bridge and Museum.

Thursday was the last day Dad and I spent in France. After packing our backs we left the cottage and drove up to the coast; the plan was to go to Pegasus Bridge and then the Merville Battery before driving to Le Havre for the overnight ferry to Portsmouth.

 

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Cafe Gondree: the first building to be liberated on D Day. We popped in for a bite to eat and sat outside in the late summer sun.

 

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A 50mm PAK38 anti tank gun on the fortress mounting on the eastern side of the bridge.

 

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The current bridge: not the original but a one of a very similar design but a little larger now crosses the canal.

 

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Memorial to Maj. Howard who led the Parachute assault to take the bridge.

 

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Three stone pillars mark where the three gliders touched down, their closeness is testament to some incredible flying from the pilots.

 

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The Pegasus Memorial museum- this was the most modern and well appointed museum that we visited in France.

 

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It had the usual display cases of artifacts: here a case of German weapons and equipment.

 

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Another case had items pertaining to the French Resistance and SOE. The pistol on the left made from stamped metal is the Liberator Pistol clicky.

 

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A contemporary photos show just how close the gliders got to the bridge.

 

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Larger items were set in tableaux, here a jeep and a brace of machine guns. The museum had a very good audio/ visual display based around a large scale diorama of the area.

 

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The original bridge has been preserved in the grounds of the museum with assorted vehicles and guns.

 

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Bullet holes show the ferocity of the fighting.

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A Bofors 40mm anti aircraft gun.

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An US halftrack.

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A Maxon quad .50cal anti aircraft turret- taken from an M16 halftrack.

 

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One of the best British inventions: the Bailey Bridge.

 

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A mock up of a Horsa glider, only a single original airframe exists now.

 

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The remains of a Horsa glider are on display showing just how fragile they were.

 

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A British 17pdr anti tank gun.

 

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A British 25pdr field gun.

 

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Another British gun: this time a 5.5inch Howitzer.

 

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Finally a Centaur IV with the 95mm howitzer. This is of the same type as the one just behind Sword beach that I featured earlier but is in much better condition.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Urban scatter terrain and winter PMC/ SOF figures.

To break up the long running series of posts of my holiday photos I thought I’d throw in some bits I’ve been working on.

I play a few PC games- I’m not a hardcore gamer by any means but I like a good co-op session with my friends, its good to relax chat and shoot stuff online for a few hours every now and again.

One of the games that I’ve been playing a bit of recently is ‘Tom Clancy’s Division’, set in a disease ridden anarchic New York city with gangs and a rogue Private Military Contractors running about. [I’m pretty sure Tom Clancy had nothing much to do with the game, it was released after his death, but his name still shifts units…]

 

Inspired by the game I’ve been making some bits and pieces for my modern gaming collection all in my usual 20mm size/ 1/72nd scale.

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A large barricade I made up from various bit and pieces: skip, shipping container, truck cargo bed and resin cast rubbish bags.

 

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Back view: the base sections came from old Matchbox kits.

 

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A couple of rubbish piles and skips mounted on Wills plastic scraps.

 

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Some sections of modern concrete barriers, these and the rubbish piles came from Anyscale models clicky.

 

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Some wooden barriers, MDF kits from Blotz clicky.

 

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These are my PMCs inspired by the game’s Last Man Battalion protagonists: I used Elhiem Minitatures clicky US Rangers from their Somalia range. White helmets and jackets, trousers in UCP and webbing in Olive green mean they’ll do for US SOF types if I need some in winter bases.

 

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For transport they get two HMMWVs. These started of as toys, a gift from Tim at Meghablitz and more clicky but scrubbed up very nicely. I painted them with spray cans using blu tack as a  mask. They were then finished with acrylics for detail and oils for weathering. A big thanks has to go out to Tim for them.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

Normandy Trip: Omaha Beach.

After Dad and I had been round Pointe Du Hoc we drove the couple of miles down the coast to the most westerly part of Omaha beach, one of the two American landing beaches and the beach that saw the greatest casualties on D Day. The road down to the beach was down one of the draws that the US infantry fought so hard to clear to open the exits off the beach.

Our first task was to get a bite to eat, unfortunately the restaurant was closed so we made do with the burger van. It also gave me a chance to try out my abysmal French, despite studying it for 5 years at high school I never mastered the language but I always try my best to make the effort when in France.

Sitting down on a plastic chair enjoying my food looking at a mostly deserted beach with a distinctly ‘Blackpool- at- the- end- of- season’ feel to it I was struck by the incongruous situation trying to imagine in my mind’s eye what had occurred on the beach some 73 years earlier, it certainly gave me pause for thought.

After we ate we walked back up the draw to the fantastic little museum ‘Omaha D Day museum’ that was the late work of a local who had grown up in the area immediately after WW2.

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The painted sign for the museum with a 150mm German infantry gun in front of it.

 

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The outside grounds of the museum had a variety of bits of equipment, mostly guns,  in various stats of repair and conservation including this American 105mm howitzer.

 

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This naval gun of unknown provenance had seen better days.

 

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The well known German 88mm FLAK 36 mounted on its wheels.

 

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The inside of the museum was crammed with every space taken up with exhibits including this selection of German weaponry.

 

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A large diorama of  6 June 1944.

 

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A selection of Allied radios

 

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A German LMG on an anti aircraft mount.

 

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An American M29 Weasel and other American weapons.

 

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A Flakvieriling 38 without its gun shield.

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A pair of mannequins in German Luftwaffe uniforms and the engine of a Focke Wolf 190. The MG barrel that can be seen, the one stacked vertically, is from a Messerschmidt Me410 remote control rear facing mount. 

 

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Down the left hand side of the draw back down to Omaha beach is a long section of Mulberry roadway.

 

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Omaha beach had its own Mulberry harbour that was wrecked and not rebuilt after the storm of 19 June, the surviving caisson is used for a pedestrian pier.

 

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The view from just behind an Anti Tank gun bunker looking eastwards along the beach. The bunker has now been rebuilt as a memorial but it is clear that it was sited in a commanding position.

 

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Walking along the beach it was clear how much of an obstacle the bluff would have been. The houses had been cleared  as part of the beach defenses but these post war buildings give a sense of scale.

 

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The 4km beach is very flat and it is easy to see why it was chosen as a landing beach, however with the exits from the beach being limited to the draws it is easy to see how easy it would be to defend it.

 

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In the rough centre of the beach is this recent sculpture…

 

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… and this slightly older memorial.

 

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On the way back we paid our respects at the site of the first US cemetery. It was not intended that one be placed on the beach in front of the bluff but such were the casualties at Omaha beach one was established as a temporary measure. The bodies interred were subsequently moved to the large US cemetery further inland.

 

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As the tide receded further on the now quiet beach more remains of the Mulberry harbour became visible.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

Normandy trip: Pointe Du Hoc.

Wednesday saw Dad and I drive up to the coast to see some of the American contribution to DDay. Our plan was to first visit Pointe Du Hoc then head to Omaha beach.

Our trip to France was after the main holiday season was over, UK schools had returned for the start of a new year and I didn’t see and French children of school age wandering around; the sites with an American connection were noticeably busier than those that were purely British affairs.

Pointe Du Hoc was a DDay objective for the US 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions. It was believed that the site held six 155mm guns of French origin that could bombard either of the two American invasion beaches. The plan was for the Rangers to scale the cliffs and take out the guns. On 6th June, after the difficult cliffs had been scaled, the gun pits/ casemates were found to be empty. The Rangers had to hold the site against vigorous counterattacks until relieved.

The site today is very well kept, paths link the various shattered bits on concrete and a memorial right on the edge of the cliff.

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The view from the car park/ visitors centre, the devastation caused by bombing and shelling is very extensive, there is hardly 10m square that is undulated or cratered in some way.

 

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The light FLAK bunker that was used Lt Col Rudder as a command post during the battle.

 

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A tobruk (probably MG) next to a crater- the crater was 2m deep and one of the smaller ones.

 

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The rear of a bunker- it was open to go in and explore: consisting of ammunition stores and sleeping quarters.

 

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One of the shattered open gun pits- now home to some scraggy sheep.

 

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The Ranger memorial- modeled after the blade of their combat knife.

 

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The cliffs up which the Rangers had to assault. I’ve done a little climbing in my time and these loose overgrown cliffs do not look appealing. To do some wet, tired and under fire was no mean undertaking.

 

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Although it was not marked up in any way I’m assuming that this is a barrel of one of the guns of the battery that were found hidden a little way inland.

 

After a couple of hours wandering round the site we went back to the car and headed east along the coast a little way to visit Omaha beach.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Two different types of SAS in 20mm.

First up I’ve painted some of the recently released Under Fire Miniatures’ Rhodesian SAS. Formed from a nucleus of Rhodesian men who volunteered to go to Malaya in the 1950s the Rhodesian SAS served throughout most of the Rhodesian Bush War performing some of the famous external cross border raids. A good read on the men and their operations is Barbara Cole’s The Elite.

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The full range painted up in standard Rhodesian Camo.

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Two more painted in plain green fatigues for external ops.

 

The next SAS figures are from Elhiem’s excellent Cold War ranges. Ever since the publication of Bravo Two Zero there has been a deluge of books on UK special forces, although recent change mean that members of the elite regiment are now barred from writing memoirs; they are so well known for a special forces unit it is hard to separate the good books from the hyperbolic fawning ones but Mark Urban and Leigh Neville have done the topic justice if you want to move beyond the memoirs . I wanted these figures as they have got a wide range of weapons (MP5 SMGs, Shotgun, M79, GPMG, M16, M203) as they’ll be ideal for a raid game I’ve got planned as the first game in a small Cold War campaign I’m planning.

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You’ll next see these figures raiding a Soviet HQ in a Cold War goes Hot game.

Both sets of figures come highly recommended.

http://www.underfireminiatures.com/index.htm

https://www.elhiem.co.uk/

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

Normandy trip- Longues – Sur – Mer Gun Battery.

Tuesday morning saw Dad and I drive back up to the coast and go to Arromanches first which I have blogged about here:

https://spprojectblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/10/normandy-trip-the-mulberry-harbour/

After we had been to the museums and had a bit of lunch (dinning was much better at Sword beach for what it is worth) we drove a couple of miles up the coast to the gun battery at Longues Sur Mer.

Built by the Todt Organization in 1943 the  four gun battery is noteworthy in that it is the only one left in Normandy that has kept its guns in situ. The guns from other batteries were taken by scrap dealers post war. The gun bunkers are set back from the edge of the cliffs but there is an observation post there that would have once housed a rangefinder to provide firing solutions to the battery.

The guns and bunkers are set in a free to enter country park that you can just wander through as you wish, this is combined with a refreshing lack of commercialization and very little modern health and safety. The only bunker fenced off was the one that had suffered extensive damage.

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The damaged bunker.

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A 155mm gun of French manufacture with damage visible on its side.

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A view of the gun’s breach from inside the bunker.

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Another view of a gun- the notches in the concrete on either side were to give the guns as much traverse as possible.

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There were lots of smaller tobruk pits and fighting positions around the site to provide local defence such as this medium mortar pit.

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The two floor observation bunker.

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The very thick concrete roof was held up by four very thin iron rods; although it does not look like it from this pictures there was stand up head room inside.

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The view back from the observation bunker to the gun battery.

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The view from the observation bunker back towards the Mulberry harbour remains at Arromanches.

After this we took the scenic route back to our holiday home taking in the the Goodwood battle area.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.