Sunday, 30 December 2018

Rapid Fire!/ Able Archer, The Gulf War in 20mm - The Iraqi 5th Mechanized Division Mohammed Ibn Al-Kasim (Part 4) - Reconnaissance and Artillery

Both the Reconnaissance Battalion and the Artillery Regiment of the 5th Iraqi MD are still incomplete. The Recce battalion is still missing the BTR-50PU and the artillery has even bigger problem as main source indicates 2S1's as the SPG of the regiment. The problem is that such allocation of 2S1 SPG's is unlikely as Iraq received 50 of them and the 3rd Saladin AD seems to have collected all of them. Once again as both the 5th MD and the 3rd AD operated in the same area there may be a understandable mistake here. Nevertheless I keep without knowing which kind of SPG did this regiment had - if any. 

Regarding what is already in the shelves ready for a fight against the glass, the Recce Battalion has three of the BPM Panhard AML. I just added the optical range finder and some crew. 

May be one day I make a few of them for the Portuguese wars in Africa...

The artillery is the Soviet M-46 130mm. I used some parts of the Irregular Miniatures Really Useful Guns range and scratch built the rest with plastic card and tubing. The wheels are from a 1/43 scale rally car.  The figures are Skytrex WWII Americans turned into Middle Easterners. 

Finally the S-60 AA guns are in fact 37mm WWII Soviet guns (Irregular Miniatures again). The overall difference is some as the S-60 has a shield and is slightly bigger  but if one day I find them I'll send these 37mm to the infantry as Iraq had over 250 of them. 

The crew of this AA gun is the Airfix Bofors crew with new heads. 

Next: more 5th MD and its Artillery Corps support or the attached 20th Infantry Brigade.  

Friday, 28 December 2018

Rapid Fire!/Able Archer, The Gulf War in 20mm - The Iraqi 5th Mechanized Division Mohammed Ibn Al-Kasim (Part 3) - The 26th Armoured Brigade

The 26th Armoured Brigade approaches Khafji with its three tank regiments in front and its mechanized battalion to the rear. This brigade has a total of 21 T-55 based tanks (12 are T-59/69 conversions) all but one being Altaya Die-casts. 

This is the converted Altaya T-55 turned into a T-69 (an easy external difference to distinguish from the T-59 are the headlights, covered here in the T-69 and the same as the original T-55 in the T-59). 

The Chinese T-59/69 in Iraqi service had stowage racks around the turret. 

The stowage racks are very difficult to do, specially when you need them for plenty models, so I used one big piece of two component paste and modelled it accordingly. Then a careful painting tried to disguise the imperfections.  

Comparing the original Altaya in Polish colours and the final conversion. 

The changes were: 
- Hull side protections made in Evergreen plastic card.
- Fume launchers in Evergreen tubing.
- Headlights and turret Laser Range Finder in plastic foam.
- Air conditioning ventilator and stowage racks in turret made out of two component paste. 

Another Ace command 'Enigma' T-55 for one of the tank regiments. 

The Mechanized Battalion of the 26th Brigade was equipped with MTLB APC's. The two models to the right are Cromwell and the one to the left is BPM.

Next: Recce Battalion and artillery of the 5th MD . 

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Rapid Fire!/Able Archer, The Gulf War in 20mm - The Iraqi 5th Mechanized Division Mohammed Ibn Al-Kasim (Part 2) - The 20th Mechanized Brigade

The 20th Iraqi Mechanized Brigade gathers around a wadi in southern Kuwait to support the attack on Khafji on the 29th January 1991.

The Armoured battalion of this brigade (the 10th Armoured Regiment) was built around the Hobby Master Die-cast excellent T-55. A very important detail is this model is its metal gun barrel which makes it long lasting. I only added a few crewmen and  repainted a few parts including the main symbol of this Regiment, the red bore evacuator. 

The only non-Hobby Master model in this regiment is this Ace T-55.

The command tank of the regiment is another Ace 'Enigma' T-55, this time with two Skytrex figures. These command tanks had no markings whatsoever which led to some confusion along the years. 

Now problems begin. I couldn't find any certainty about the APC's that the three mechanized battalions of the 20th Brigade had. One source says BMP-1, but I think this is due to the proximity of the 3rd Saladin AD. A picture shows a K-63 with a unit's rectangle that may have been from this brigade. To add to the confusion, the 5h MD had during the Iran-Iraq war plenty OT-64 Skot. So I like to think that each of the three battalions had one of these APC's as its main vehicle. 

So I placed in the 2nd Battalion the OT-64 from BPM, which is one of their best models, simple and with very few printing lines. One of them was converted to a command version. 

The other three are normal OT-64. Maybe even they were  never in the OB of the 5th MD as some sources say this division was fully tracked in its APC's but I like to think the opposite. 

The 1st Battalion is equipped with K-63. This time I had no patience  to build my own 'JP models' and used three S&S models. They are the same length as the Red Star and my copies but a bit wider. As S&S are more recent they probably made it closer to the real vehicle.  

The infantry are my usual Esci conversions with Modern Russian and Vietcong bodies and WWII US heads. 

The support weapons are a mixture of WWII US figures and Skytrex metals. The mortar crew includes a conversion of a Matchbox British paratrooper. 

Next: the 26th Armoured Brigade, 5th Iraqi MD. 

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Rapid Fire!/Able Archer, The Gulf War in 20mm - The Iraqi 5th Mechanized Division Mohammed Ibn Al-Kasim (Part 1) - The 15th Mechanized Brigade

Here the 5th Armoured Regiment (T-59 tanks) enter triumphantly the Saudi border city of Khafji on the night of 29th of January and passes under the famous city arch. The T-59 are Cromwell models and the command 'Enigma' tank is Ace. 

The 'Enigma' Ace model is not the easiest model, which is the usual with this brand, but the final result is quite good and the model is quite sturdy. 

The resin T-59 from Cromwell is very well done, easy to build and quite detailed. The figures are metal Skytrex. 

Up to now a total of 10 K-63 APC are the three Mechanized Battalions of the 15th Brigade. The ideal number is 12 though (4 in each battalion, 1 per company, plus a command version) so still two command K-63 (YW701) to go. The infantry are the usual Esci conversions with many Irregular Miniatures figures. 

Half of the K-63 are resin Red Star models with Skytrex metal HMG. The YW701  also got a DSKH 12,7mm from Skytrex. 

The other half are my own builds. I copied the Red Star measures and duplicated them in Evergreen plastic card. Its not complicated mainly because of the straight lines of the K-63. The HMG's are also scratch built. The top grill is made of some plastic pieces I had around and the hatches are two component paste.

The more difficult are the wheels. As you can see on the JP model (JP its me...) on the right I made the wheel with cut down cylinders from plastic tubing. Then I filled them with two component paste and finally an even small cylinder right in the middle. It was a repetitive procedure but it paid off in the end. On the left you have another Red Star model as comparison. 

Next: Iraqi 20th Mechanized Brigade, 5th Mechanized Division. 

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Rapid Fire! / Able Archer - Iraqi Navy 1991 in 20mm - The Patrol Boats of the Khafji operation

On the night of 29th January 1991 the Iraqi navy tried one of its two daring and courageous sea raids of the war. For that the Iraqis used 17 'small Patrol Boats' from which infantry was landed in Saudi Arabian territory in order to support the attack of the III Corps at Khafji. I could never find any information about exactly what these PB's were. Recently I found these pictures in the web: 

They came under a Google search for the Iraqi Swari Patrol Boats and they were referring  to an abandoned Iraqi PB at Ras Al-Ard, Kuwait in 1991. I'm not sure that these kind of PB's were the ones on the 29th of January raid but as I have no more information I had a go at scratch building a couple of them. 

The P6 Torpedo Boat that goes along the two PB's on the first picture already had its article two years ago. If you want to visit it you can go to:

The PB's are apparently indigenous designs but not even that I'm really sure. I used Blue Foam to get the basic shape of the boats and some card for the driver/troop compartment. The figures are Modern Esci figures, the ones holding a MG42. I used two of them as drivers with GreenStuff arms and four others as firers of the BPM ZU-23-2. The original pictures clearly shows the 14,5mm Soviet HMG instead but I didn't had them at hand. 

The boats were painted as close as I could to the photos of the real thing which includes a red triangle on the deck. So may be the raid was made by Republican Guard units? Never find any confirmation. Its just a thought. 

I made the troop compartment large enough for some six/eight figures each. 

The usual anchor chain was added as well a small Iraqi flag. 

The sea was made of a mixture of hot glue and and some ready to use plaster  I had around. 

This raid finished very badly for the Iraqis as the PB force was completely destroyed at sea by RAF Jaguars. Maybe due to the level of destruction this force suffered there aren't many details available about the 'Khafji Patrol Boat Raid' (as I call it...). 

Next: More France 1940. 

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Fire&Fury ACW rules set - Gettysburg in 20mm (part 24 and last) - Lee's HQ and Stuart's cavalry

Here is the man itself arriving at Thompson House. Lee is a StreletsR figure as well as its aide, Lt.Col. Walter H. Taylor. 

Maj. Gen. J.E.B.Stuart can be seen riding at the front of Hampton's brigade. He will have to explain very well his delay to Lee. Stuart is a StreletsR while all the rest is Italeri. 

1st Virginia represents Fitzhugh Lee Brigade in their typical grey with black facings. The sabre figures are all the same pose which became slightly different by heating the right arm with the flame of a lighter.
This is the last post of this series. Still some Union and Confederate reserve artillery and cavalry to do but it will not be for now. Hope you have enjoyed it. 

Next: a return to the Middle East. 

Monday, 17 December 2018

Fire&Fury ACW rules set - Gettysburg in 20mm (part 23) - 3rd Corps ANV, Anderson's Division

Anderson's Division was composed of five Brigades from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississipi and Virginia and here is prepared to finish Sickles' salient on the second day of battle. 

Gen. Anderson is a figure from Italeri with a resin Airfix copy as Divisional standard bearer. 

Wilcox Brigade is made of mostly Italeri figures with the usual conversions and head swaps. 

The smallest Brigade in the ANV was Lang's Brigade. Figures from all brands including some metal  Irregular Miniatures. 


The same for Wright Brigade of Georgians. 

Posey's Mississipians is another mix of brands. By these days figures started to get scarcer and some bases got only three poses and even a few figures are firing pistols...Mahone's Virginians had their picture erased inadvertently but they are very close to the picture above even sharing the same basing the only difference being that Mahone's has one more stand.  


Divisional artillery mixes metal and plastic and also some infantry recruited to man the guns and suitably converted. 

Next: Lee's HQ and some cavalry to finish this Gettysburg series. 

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Rapid Fire! - Able Archer rules, '2008' Portuguese Army in 20mm (part 7) - Companhia de Engenharia de Combate Pesada (CEngCombPes) of the BrigMec

In spite of being a Company and having 170 men, this company boast almost 70 vehicles of very different types like the eternal M-113, Bridging vehicles, Caterpillars of different shapes, CEV's, etc. And here the problem start as you have to choose from 30 different vehicles the 3 or 4 you should use for an RF!/Able Archer company sized unit . 

I included another M-113 and an extra company of infantry as these are most likely one of the types to see more combat. The M-113 is a BPM 1/72 model as we can now ask BPM to resize their model from 1/76th scale to 1/72nd scale. This scale is particularly useful in this unit as both M-60 based vehicles are 1/72nd scale also. 

The M-60 AVLB is based on the Esci vehicle with a scratch built bridge. 

Several different materials were used but more on that to the end of this post. 

The M728 CEV (Combat Engineer Vehicle) arrived to this company in 2000 giving a much better ability to perform many typical engineer tasks and also doing it under fire. 

The built up of this model was a bit complicated but the end result is quite gratifying. 

Finally, I used a 1/72nd Caterpillar toy I found in a gift shop. Cut some extras and glued others and it looks  a lot to the Cat 938GC used by the EngCombPes.

The M728 is based on the Esci M60, on this case on an extra Israeli Blazer version I had around. I just used the chassis and turret leaving aside the reactive armour and other details. 

The towing structure, here on the rest mode behind the turret, is made from the sprues of the model itself. Other details of the towing system are made of Evergreen plastic card. The turret Mg was replaced by a piece of needle with a commander from Preiser. The 165mm mortar is just a piece of the original gun based on its thickest part. The towing hook is cord with its ends made in plastic and GreenStuff. The M9 Dozer Blade was made from an extra hard foam that I've been unable to find any longer recently. This hard foam glues extremely well with superglue and is very helpful in modelling. 

As I use plenty of different materials I always let flow a bit of superglue in all glued parts. Like this you can have a sturdy model that can really be moved. In my case not throughout the table but throughout my shelves!

The origin of this M60 AVLB is another Esci Blazer. This time you don't need obviously to build the turret but you have to spend some time measuring the bridge size and its supports. 

Again the frontal bridge support is made of that extra hard foam I talked to you about and the bridge is just blue Roofmate (extruded polystyrene) available for the construction business. 

The armature around the Roofmate is made out of heavy duty card. A final touch before painting is to apply wood glue in all visible Roofmate as it can be eaten by the spray primer. 

The Caterpillar is a toy as you can see. I just took out some parts and made it slightly shorter in lenght and added an Esci US Modern figure with GreenStuff arms. 

More work on the M113 though. The M113 from the EngCombPes came from the Netherlands with some extra equipment and some changes to the original: the front plate is raised and helps to hold a number of fume launchers; instead of Brownings there were MG3 mounted in a home made ring and several tool boxes were attached to the structure. 

A picture of the real thing. 

Next: the last of the Gettysburg Divisions, Anderson Division, the Army of Northern Virginia.