Saturday, 27 May 2017

Rapid Fire! Russian Contemporary Wars in 1/72nd scale - 9T452 Transport-loaders for the BM-27 'Uragan' batteries.

The 9T452 is the Transporter-loader of 220-mm multiple rocket launching system for the BM-27 «Uragan». It saw service in Georgia War of 2008, Yemen and recently in Syria.
Armada Hobbies makes a very good one in resin. But, as a kit and watching its images in the internet, it must be really complicated to build. Besides its very expensive, around 50-60 euros each.
Some months ago I followed my megalomanic tendencies and bought 12 Die-cast BM-27 Uragan from Fabbri. Each cost around 5 euros and are really good. Ended up looking at them and having the usual thought of  'what the hell am I going to do with all of them? '.
After reading about these machines I realized that the truck is the basis of the Frog Missile system and I made three of them for the Iraqis. Other six are half painted unchanged Uragans for the Russians and the last three are these Transporter-loaders.

First you have to take out the full load of the missile system of the Uragan and make a flat bed for a box made out of Evergreen.

After looking for many solutions on how to produce 48 quick missiles I ended by choosing barbecue sticks. After priming they will look much better, believe me, and these models will no long look like log carriers!

Then plenty of details were added in Evergreen plastics. The only non-Evergreen detail is the central box with the big 'X' which is made of a piece of Roofmate carved to shape and painted with acrylics not to be corroded by the agressive spray primer.

This is a truly fun to build model and you can count with some nice reference photos in the internet and even with a nice video of the procedures of charging the missiles of the Uragans from these 9T452's.

Next I'll show you these three together with the parent Uragans everything painted. If not, something else for sure, may be even my first middle eastern houses.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm - US Invasion of Iraq, 2003 - M1A2 Abrams Battalion

On the way to Bagdad a US Abrams tank battalion awaits for refuelling in the banks of the Euphrates.

The Abrams MBT showed up  again in the Gulf in its newer M1A2 version during operation Iraqi Freedom, the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The 120mm gun was now standard and a number of panels were trying to avoid the deadly friendly fire which caused most of the casualties in 1990-91. Also an improved  fire control system and the System Enhancement Package (SEP) could be seen.

Another striking characteristic of US armoured units we could see from the TV was the mixture of different camouflage schemes, from the full desert tan to the european schemes. In fact the fight was now much up north in Iraqi cities and lakes and its greener surroundings so the mixture worked quite well.

In spite of being a formidable weapon that had no match in Saddam's tank fleet the Abrams showed its weeknesses in the Iraqi campaign, some particular to all tanks: its vulnerability to rear RPG attacks, the lack of a rear telephone for infantry to communicate with the tank's crew and the impossibility of infantry to be transported on its top or even walking in its rear due to the heat from the gas turbine. This last characteristic is even making the designers to think about a petrol engine in order to prolong the Abrams life. In spite of being one of the best tanks in the world, the Abrams entered the US army in 1980 and thus is almost a middle age guy with 40 years old, and you know that at 40 you cant expect to do the same stuff when you were 20... right?

Another problem of the Abrams is that helped to create the chaos of that region, with never ending civil war, Islamic State,  refugees, and so on.

But that can't be Abram's tanks fault but that fault is more on the US petrol thirsty politicians. 

This M1A2 model is from Hasegawa. It already carries the CITV sight assembly (in front of the 7,62mm Mg). I only placed the thermal identification panels in front, back and sides (these ones called 'Venetian Blind' type), cammo net and the usual stowage in plenty. The camouflage is the NATO type of green, brown and black.  

 This Abrams is the Altaya Die-cast model. Only a little light sand drybrush, antennae and stowage and its done.

The Esci Abrams is the older M1 version so plenty of work had to be done: crew converted from fighter pilots jets, panels, CITV, stowage and such all had to be scratch built. This happened to almost half of the thirteen tanks of this battalion. Some even have the thinner 105mm gun barrel which I hope no one notices in the middle of the other details. Politics, my friends...

The Die-cast  Eaglemoss Abrams, distributed in Portugal by Fabbri, also had the CITV, panels and stowage added. The weathering was rougher on this one making it look more veteran.

 The Forces Of Valor Abrams has everything necessary for the 2003 campaign. I only drybrushed some light sand to go along the basing and added the orange panel.

 The TOW-1 Humvee are Chinese Die-cast. The TOW, top doors and the Fire Control System (the box in the front left) is scratchbuilt in Evergreen and the soldier is an ESCI torso. On the back, you can see the usual stowage, orange aerial panel and antennae.

Other Chinese Die-cast for command and liaison again in NATO colours.

The M-113's with the M 106 mortar is here until I find the newer M1064 model. Meanwhile it can be used in Operation Desert Storm. The crew is Preiser and Revell.

Saddam's airforce dream... may be if he had not buried many of its aircraft under tons of sand.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm - 1991, Gulf War - The USMC amphibious vehicles.

The majority of the US Marines used the AAVP-7A1 as transport during the Gulf War of 1990-91 (the other vehicle was the LAV-25 of the Light Armoured Infantry Battalions) up to the Iraq invasion of 2003. Like the Saudis I've showed you in the last post the Marines were some of the first Coalition forces blooded in the Battle of Khafji.

As each of these machines carried up to 25 troops I think two per battalion of Marines in RF! rules are enough,  making these six vehicles capable of transporting three Assault Amphibian Battalions.

All the AAVP-7A1 are Altaya Die-Cast, the  Humvee's with the TOW-1 are Chinese Die-Casts bought in supermarkets. The infantry are ESCI.

Regarding the AAVP-7A1, besides some dust dry-brushing, I only added the crew member, antennae, the air recognition orange pannel used during this war by the coalition forces and plenty of stowage. I left the camouflage as it was as the Altaya model already represents a vehicle of the 1st USMC division.

The Humvee's were repainted sand a few details added like antennae and stowage.

The ESCI figures were produced in 1987 close to the Gulf War  and they fit that conflict very well. All main weapons are there: the M-16 rifle, the M-60 LMG and the Dragon AT weapon. A few are still missing like the sniper rifle, the Stinger AA or the several mortars used but I will show some conversions of these ones in the future. 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm - 1991, Gulf War Royal Saudi Land Forces - 8th Mechanized Brigade

The battle of Khafji in February 1991, caught the world's attention as no one really knew how the attacking Iraqis would perform. The same is true about the Arab coalition forces.

The Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF) were made of armoured and mechanized brigades, some with US equipment (M60A1 and M113's) others with French equipment (AMX-30S and AMX-10P).
The idea of  building the RSLF 8th Mechanized Brigade is to have plenty of M-113 and in due time to find more 1/72nd M60's and being able to move to the more tank heavy 12th Armoured Brigade.

An 'American type' RSLF mechanized brigade has a tank battalion with three companies each with 2 M60A1 tanks (RF! terms) and another as Co.

All seven models are ESCI, realtively easy to build and wıth hard plastic tracks. All allied units in the Gulf War had several  inverted black chevrons on their vehicles for easy recognition on the ground and orange pannels for aerial recognition.

I used Skytrex metal figures to crew these models and the usual homemade stowage and antennae.

I painted this symbol on all M60's. It must be a battalion or brigade symbol, either way the M60's became quite 'Saudi' like this.

The Saudis have plenty of different desert camouflaged uniforms. This one looks much the same as the contemporaneous American desert DPM.

As soon as the tanks move to the brawl  the lighter mechanized battalions arrives. Their 'workhorse' is the M113. All APC's are ESCI, the Vulcans are Altaya and the TOW1 conversion is based on the poor (I think) Eastern Express M113 model.


Some of the crew members got a paper Kefiah. Its easy to do this headdress: you dip thin paper in PVA glue, wait a few minutes and then you can model the Kefiah with a toothpick in a barehead.

Other crew members are made of ESCI Vietnam Marine torsos with seated legs of all possible proveniences.

The M113 from Eastern Express is much taller than the much nicer model from ESCI. So I decided to convert it to a  TOW1 launcher by scratchbuilding in Evergreen the TOW and openings.

The Altaya M163 Vulcans were just primed and sand painted after placing the crew and the usual stowage, etc. The flags are downsized Saudi flags from the internet.

Until now my Saudis only have a Northrop F-5E Tiger II as air support. The model is Airfix. On the cue are F-15's and Tornado's in their striking camouflage.

The famous Khafji arch was made with RoofMate and all openings and remparts are in thick card.

Next: wether more Gulf stuff or a return to the 1940 BEF.