Sunday, 27 October 2013

Rapid Fire! 20mm, French Army 1940, Pt4, 155mm LPF or the tales of a dog and it's influences on modelling

Some 20 years ago I had a beautiful Epagneul Breton called Breque.

I liked this dog so much that if he had lived today I would have made a blog just for him.

When he was growing, along with his teeth, I captured him chewing a row of newly painted Esci Churchill, Sherman and M-12 155mm howitzers.

I had prepared another breakthrough on my Normandy front, this time - stupid me -  on the floor of my basement. This Tiger tank... sorry, my dog destroyed a dozen or so allied plastic machines ( I should have changed the dog's name to Michael Wittman) and the only thing I could retrieve from the battlefield was a 155mm barrel of a M-12. 

Funny enough the German defenders were untouched which makes me believe that this dog was pro-Nazi.

I kept this barrel for years on the many storage boxes we all keep just wondering that one day it may be it's time...I didn't even know that this gun was the original GPF 155mm gun used by the French in both world wars. 

This is the surviving part from Breque's raid, gloss varnished as I used to do in those days. 

The carriage of the gun was made from two Irregular Miniatures metal wheels from their Useful Gun range, two thick Evergreen rods carved to shape and the central carriage part of a 5,5 inch Airfix gun. 

The gluing of the different materials - plastic, painted plastic, metal - became troublesome and hot glue had to be used in order to put together what was becoming a true mess...

After priming you can see more clearly the Evergreen details using plate, tube and rod of different sizes. 

The semi trailer is also based on a pair of Irregular Miniatures wheels.

Evergreen again in all small details. This material is an absolute must on modelling and it's also used on the making of the masters of many brands.

The gun and semi trailer are attached to a plastic base for its final form.

This is the third LPF in my collection: a French WWI, a German captured one and the subject of this post.

The WWI French is a beautiful Alby kit with Irregular Miniatures crew. This kit was the basis for all calculations on the other LPF building process.

This one is another scratch built effort this time based on a barrel extracted from a Rocco 1/87th scale M-40. It represents Sword beach "Daimler" battery. 

Both the gun and the crew have detachable stands.

Next: ...something else!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Lussonium Roman camp- Hungary 2013

The Lussonium Roman camp,  near Paks, Hungary, is a very rare and interesting place. There you can see a border military Roman camp (Tabor) facing the land of the Sarmatian tribesmen.

This camp could be the home of some 1000 men, about a quarter of a legion.

The Roman camp of Lussonium is on top a hill and at the entrance there is a reconstitution of wooden gates surrounded by a ditch 2 meter deep.  

At the end of the 500 metres long camp there are still some stone structures: latrines ( in which the legionnaires faced each other, and could place the conversation up to date...), barracks and administrative services.

To the south you can see the area occupied by the civil camp.

At the Lussonium museum you can see many roman artifacts from the Pannonia of the III and IV century D.C and also some nice dioramas of the Roman fort, this time with the most probable stone look.

From the hill where Lussonium camp stood you can see the barbarian lands of the Sarmatian tribes, a beautiful landscape enhanced by the autumn colours. 

Nearby passes the Danube, one of the most iconic and beautiful rivers of europe.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Rapid Fire! 20mm, French Army 1940, Pt 3 - Building Schneider 105mm guns

 The idea is to build a battalion of French medium artillery with the 1913 Schneider 105mm gun.
In order to build it from scratch you need some good reference books/internet images and articles; that box of parts you kept for years without never knowing exactly what to do with it; Evergreen tubing, rod and plate; pencil; X-Acto; plastic glue and superglue and one of those rainy weekends in which you only think LET´S DO IT... whatever it may be...

You also need to find the correct lenght of the gun (9 cm lenght) so you can work more freely inside it, without too many worries about this or that half milimeter,  something that the late Dave Howitt tought me.

According to Dave Howitt the most important thing on building a wargames piece was sturdiness and the enhancement of the main details, avoiding flimsy parts that will self destroy with use.

First you build the barrel out of Evergreen. One of the barrels was taken from the Airfix 5,5 inch gun after some shortening.

The carriage is also Evergreen and its the most difficult part of the gun. Be careful measuring this one.

The irregular shape of these parts is challenging, but if you do it carefully you can have a very reasonable Schneider carriage. Bend the carriage in the middle to produce its characteristic shape.

Glue the carriage to the barrel and you will have the gun in a skeleton shape.

Then start to add more details as the back cover of the carriage and filling the carriage with other thin stripes of evergreen until you feel satisfied. You can avoid this trouble if you have the correct length of Evergreen rod, which I didn't.

Its wheel time: I used a pair of Britannia metal and two of Emhar´s plastic from its 18pdr.

The gun shield was a true headache (the ones we like...) as this gun had a multitude of different shields varying from time and country. You need careful planning in this one too!

After assembling the two part shield dip the bottom part in very hot water and bend it to shape, as this kind of shield was slightly curved. Evergreen works well with hot water. Then quickly dip it again in cold water for final shape.

Add last details, specially at the back part of the gun.

Finally place two very thin stripes of Evergreen along the shield.
And here you have it: a cheap three gun battalion of 105mm Schneiders for the 1940 period.
Next: crew, painting... and who knows what else...

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Rapid Fire! 20mm, French army 1940, Pt2 - Infantry

Now the French infantry for the 3rd DIM at the battle of Stonne 1940.

Once again the beautiful village of BleuVille in the background. More cheap repainted Chinese houses make this new neighbourhood. 

Somehow these kind of scale houses ceased to appear in their shops, which is a pity as they are useful wargaming pieces.

These 6 RF! Battalions of French infantry 1940 are made out of the Revell WWI French, Airfix WWI French, Esci WWII French, a few Japanese WWII from Airfix and many cheap Chinese copies of the Airfix box. 


The French infantry in 1940 had a very similar uniform to their fathers of 1918, so the WWI figures are ok for this campaign. 

Only some dedicated  figures like mortar crews and LMG's had to be converted. 

The mortar crew is the basic Esci mortar firer, with the bipod heated into the correct position. The other figures were also converted from the Revell box, by carving the rifle out and using GreenStuff for the mortar bombs.

The officers are mainly Chinese copies of Airfix models with their very charismatic kepi.

The LMG's are mostly WWI models with carved out  Lebels replaced with Bren to look like the Chatelleraux. The bipods are glued small pieces of plastic.

The Hotchkiss HMG are mostly Revell and all support figures were mounted on round plastic pieces.

These Chatelleraux LMG's from Revell are made from the original Chauchat with a small plastic box magazine added.

For the command companies some Japanese Airfix and copies with Esci heads were used to portray French infantry wearing the vareuse.

More "Chatelleraux's".

Still 3 battalions to finish the 3rd DIM. Maybe I'll use the more recent Caesar and Pegasus figures with the help of my last few Revell boxes. 
Next: Artillery