House of Hengist Comics

You know, I can’t think of many hobbies¬†so multi-faceted as wargaming. You have gaming, modelling, painting, photographing, trade shows…research; and then, over the last decades or so, all the electronic stuff like blogging, websites and online gaming. I suppose that’s part of its enduring appeal.

Why am I wittering on about this? Well, a good example of how all these aspects can be distilled into a heady brew would be what the chaps at House of Hengist Comics are doing with Flames of War:

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House of Hengist are a research and wargaming group based in a corner of Kent who are refighting aspects of Operations CRUSADER and BARABAROSSA and documenting the outcomes of these 150 or so games through 87 After Action Reports in Commando-esque comic book format:hengist 4

There’s lots to like here whatever your interest.¬† Flames of War is often unfairly maligned as a¬†tank-park full of competitive play so its really refreshing¬† to see Mark and the lads fighting it out through historical scenarios on some inspirational tables.¬† The emphasis is on story telling and good sportsmanship using their own take on the 2nd edition rules:

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The comics are free to download from the House of Hengist website and the group are on the look out for local players in Kent as well as others wanting to participate in similar endeavours.  Swing by, make and comment or join up.  hengist 3

Experiments with modulation

As a couple, we’re a bit like the Queen.¬†We have 2¬†anniversaries.¬† 1 to celebrate when we first¬†met, the other for when we got married.¬† Anyway, it’s as good an excuse as any to buy presents for each other.¬† All my washing-up is obviously paying off as Mrs. ModelDads was kind enough to buy me a copy of the excellent (if outrageously expensive)¬†FAQ2 by Mig Jimenz:

I can’t recommend this book highly enough (check out a review here).¬† This is the reference book par excellence for painting AFVs.¬† Suitably inspired by the chapter on Modulation and, it must be said, Ruben’s useful video explaining about how to apply this technique to 15mm scale models, I thought it would be shame not to dust off the old airbrush and have a go¬†on those BA-64s I pinned¬†last week.

Put simply, the modulation technique seeks to enhance a model by applying gradations of colour to give it more depth. This is particularly useful when painting vehicles that were finished in a uniform colour.  Like Soviet armour.  So off I went, spraying on a base coat of Vallejo Model Russian Green (71017).  In to this mix of paint and thinner I added, as recommended, a few drops of Gloss varnish to produce a Satin effect in anticpation of the later pin-wash.

Retaining some of the original mix in a sealable jar, I added a few drops of Cam. Light Green (71006).  Masking off the lower portion of the chasis with a Post-It note, I sprayed a (variably) lightish coat on the uppper chassis.  The same principle was applied to the turret where I masked off the area around the gun with blu-tac (God bless office stationary!):

Whilst my airbrushing is still very hamfisted,¬†I really liked the dusting of lighter colour on the upper panels.¬† Now, Mig recommends that you go a shade lighter than you’re comfortable with because subsequent weathering will¬†tone down the finished result.¬† It was also about this time that I realised I should have cut a mask for the wheel arches to ensure that the upper surfaces could be painted without¬†over-spraying¬†on to the darker lower panels.¬† I addedd a few drops of White (71001) to the remanants of my original mix and sprayed this¬†as lightly as I could on the upper surfaces.¬† I used the¬†the same masks as before with an additional one over the front¬†mantlet either side of the main viewing port.¬† Now, I must confess that the Tescos delivery man arrived at this point with the weekly shop, so I felt under pressure to quickly finished the job and help in the packing away.¬† This is how it turned out:

It’s¬†a little lighter than I’m used to, but I like the gradual transiiton¬†from light to dark,¬†top to bottom.¬†¬†To blend the¬†colours together further, I applied 2 coats of MiG brown filter for dark green vehicles with another¬†coat of gloss varnish.¬† Things were starting to shape up:Whilst the contrast is quite sharp on the front-mantlet, I really like the way the¬†green varies in tone.¬†¬†And it was all quite easy to do without much experience.¬† The only tiresome aspect was cleaning my airbrush over and over again…

They say pride comes before a fall.  Just after taking these photos the cat came in followed by the dog.  In the ensuing hullabaloo the cat vertically lifted 4 feet in the air to land directly on my work-surface scattering me and my scout cars to the 4-corners of the conservatory:

As the dust settled, the extent of the damage became clear.¬† Whilst my paint-jobs had survived more of less intact, I was missing 3 wheels.¬†¬†I’ll leave you with this final shot of the standard of modulation achieved whilst I rummage¬†around on the floor to look for them… ūüôĀ

Adventures with the Vice Squad Part 2

I hadn’t realised my pin-vice was double-doubled-ended.¬† I’d always wondered why the drill-bit kept falling out.¬† I’d previously put it down to shoddy-tools and not the workman, but now I’m not so sure¬†:).¬†¬† I only discovered this by chance the other week.¬† Out of curiosity I unscrewed the swivel head that fitted in the base of¬†my palm and out popped a second double-ended collet (the vice part).¬† This one fitted the finer drill bits I bought earlier in the¬†year.¬†Doh!¬† Perhaps work could now commence…

So, I started¬†the first project with reference to 2 photos in my copy of Wyndawnictwo Militaria’s BA-64 I’d picked up in Krakow a couple of weeks back:

Note the civilian rider on the rear-tyre in Prague 1945 and the infantryman perched on the chasis of the BA-64 photographed in Pomerania during the same year.  I wanted to create something like this Рinfantry hitching a ride Рon at least 1 of my BA-64s to jazz them up abit.

I started with a primed Battlefront resin chassis and some SU748 Razvedki Crews.  After a few trial fits I decided to work on the rear-wheel rider first:

To get the figure to sit comfortably I had to file the upper surface of the wheel¬†flat and then cut a groove with square-headed file across the bottom of the seated figure I’d selected:

Once assurred of a reasonably snug fit I took a deep breath and drilled a hole in the top of the rear tyre:

With the hole in place, I did the same to the figure (ouch!), dripped in some superglue and and inserted a piece of copper wire left over from the spent shell-casings project:

Once set, I cut the wire to length and voila:

Encouraged, I replicated the same procedure with another figure, this time on the front of the chassis: 

This comrade needed a little gentle manipulation with a set of needle-pliers I found in my tool-box to straighten his head and put his foot in a more natural position:

Job done!¬† It really wasn’t that difficult.¬† The resin and metal drill very easily.¬† I thought I’d experience problems aligning¬†the joints, but this is easily overcome with a little careful planning.

I’ve a niggling feeling the finished piece looks a little crowded and that 1 figure might suffice?¬† Any one have any views?

James’ Resins: bunkers on the cheap

Aaron sent us some of his new resin bunkers to have a look at.¬† Ironically and ultimately¬†inspired by Harvey’s bunkers piece¬†(if you fancy making them yourself), you can get 4 for ¬£5 – now if that isn’t a bargainio I don’t know what is…

Cast in jesomite resin they have a little brass rod for the machine gun.  Very clean and sturdy, ready to paint.

This is how they arrive:

And with a bit of time and talent, this is how they can look:

Go check ’em out by clicking here.

Calvary: flavour piece #2

Calvary, a sculpture representing the¬†crucifixion of Jesus, are a recurrent feature of the French landscape.¬† During the fighting in Normandy they are occassionally mentioned, but much less photographed.¬† During the assault on the Merville Battery, A Company of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion protected the attacking 9th Battalion’s left flank by holding an area 700 yards¬†south of a Calvary Cross.

With this in mind, it would clearly be remiss of me not to have such a cross somewhere on my table now wouldn’t it? ūüėČ

Unfortunately, these things are hard to find at 15mm (or any other scale I guess!).  Fortunately, Langley Models produce an excellent N Gauge Church Notice Board and Crucifix which, with a little jiggery-pokery, can easily be adapted to fit the bill:

With the roof removed, you have a typical Calvary from northern France:

A quick-base coat in black and successively lighter coats of German Camouflage Black Brown, Chocolate Brown, German Camouflage Medium Brown and, finally, Panzer Aces Old Wood does for the cross.¬† Jesus is a little less easy, but with a reasonably steady hand and a fine brush doesn’t come off too bad for a bloke nailed to a cross:

Mounted on a penny in a blob of milliput and covered in Tamiya Soil Effect textured paint (my favourite scenic staple at present) sees a second¬†‘flavour piece’ for our Normandy table done.

Parachute Infantry LMG platoon

The rainy Bank Holiday weekend has provided me with an opportuntity to finish off another piece of WIP, a parachute infantry LMG platoon.¬† I’ve got to hand it to Battlefront, the sculpts are top-notch:

Not that it’s particularly noticeable in these photos, but I’ve been applying some additional highlights to the face and easing off on the dip on the helmets.¬† This has helped tease out a little more of the detail through enhanced contrast.

Loved painting the M3A4 handcart.  My bible for painting this Рand parachute infantry in general Рhas been the Histoire and Collections oustanding D-DAY Paratroopers: The Americans:

Choc-a-bloc full of Normandy airborne goodness covering every aspect of weapons, equipment, insignia and decorations.  Fantastic for getting all the colours right (including that waterproof gas mask bag (Bag M7) strapped to the leg which has mystified me for ages.

Basing continues to be inspired by Evan’s paratrooper bases¬†with me copying his clever¬†idea for piles of empty.30 cal¬†shell casings using brass rod.¬† I’ve gone abit bonkers on this mainly, I guess, after watching this video of piles and piles of spent ammo:

Liking experimenting with different coloured two-tone tufts, they just seem so hard to find nowadays (why is Antenoceti’s Workshop always out of stock?¬†ūüôā ).

As someone once said, too much time… ūüôā

Rusty the tractor: a 101st Airborne Objective Marker

Well, I finally finished Rusty the tractor for my first Flames of War scratch built objective-marker.  This one is dedicated to the 101st Airborne Division.  Here he sits abandoned in the corner of a small garden plot while a nearby Pathfinder anxiously wonders if his Eureaka beacon is really switched on:


Hedge was made of milliput and topped with Woodland Scenics clump.¬† What Chris calls the ‘cabbage patch’ ūüôā was sculpted out of a thick layer of Vallejo Dark Earth pumice topped with Tamiya Soil Effect textured paint.¬† A range of flocks, static grass and tufts finish it all off.¬† I’m currently liking the Army Painter / Mininatur Meadow Grass¬†flowers.¬† The old cartwheel is PeterPig and the logs some plastic stuff¬†I’ve had lurking in my bitzbox since time immemorial.

Really enjoyed making this one.¬† Fantastic para sculpt, lovely Langley Models’ N Gauge¬†1940s tractor¬†and all to easy to get OCD about the scenics.

Total Battle Miniatures’ 15mm Russian Orthodox Church

Churches are just like buses. ¬†You wait for ages for one to come along and then two arrive…my wife was kind enough to buy me a second church for my birthday, this time one for the good peasantry in the East. ¬†

We review Total Battle Miniatures imposing Russian Orthodox church: