Sunday, August 30, 2015

Jack of all trades and master of none

This weekend, I've spent varying amounts of time working on 3mm cavalry, 3mm Cold War artillery, helping Mrs. History PhD with the details of her new FOW Vietnam vehicle, and I was badly bitten by the 1/2400 WWII naval bug (after about three years since the last bite), so I've painted a number of Bay Area Yards' wonderful resin ship bases and dusted off a couple of GHQ ships. All of the above is a very verbose and evasive way of saying I haven't finished a damned thing, despite a considerable amount of time at the hobby desk this weekend! Does anyone else suffer from hobby Attention Deficit Disorder or is it just me?

In any case, here's one of my ship bases:
That's a British Abdiel class minelayer on it. As you'll notice, the stand is finished, but the ship is still in basic 507C light grey. I have yet to shade, detail, and add a camouflage scheme.

And I did manage to finish two squadrons of the Saxon Prinz Clemens Cheveauxleger Regiment for 1806:
Just another three squadrons to go. 

Hopefully, I'll be more ambitious next weekend. See ya!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

50,000 views!! And thank you to Arrigo!!

I went past 50,000 views overnight! It took 25 months, so I don't suppose that it broke any records, but still...yay!!!!

In addition, Mrs. History PhD would like to pass on a big thank you to Arrigo the Crazy (one of my followers). He was kind and generous enough to dip into his spare parts box and send her a couple of M60 machine guns, a good quality M2HB, and a few other odds and ends. Stand by for one of them to put in an appearance in Mrs. History PhD's next FOW Vietnam project. Thank you Arrigo!
Kob khun ka (the female version of "thank you" in Thai).

Monday, August 24, 2015

The eternal wargaming question

First off, this is my 200th post!!!
Yay!!! Not bad for just 25 months. Ok, now where was I....?

Tonight, as I was sitting and painting some 3mm minis (Napoleonic cavalry and Cold War West German howitzers), Mrs. History PhD said "Ok, I'm confused."
Her: "Your main projects are supposedly 3mm Cold War and 6mm Vietnam, both of which are moderately well progressed, with lots of vehicles, buildings, some terrain, etc. So at some future point, you'll obviously be able to be finished with them and use them for gaming."

Me: "Correct, my love. But because new minis are always being released, I doubt I'll ever reach total 100% completion on either project, but 'finished', more or less."

Her: "So why are you fiddling with samurai and Napoleonics and talking about ACW and WWII North Africa? Will you honestly ever get those projects far enough along for them to actually be useable?"

Me: "Almost without a doubt, never."

Her: "So why do you dissipate your effort, limited free time, and very limited financial resources on things that you already know will never come to fruition, when it would be much wiser to devote those resources to projects you are likely to finish?"

Well, therein lies the conundrum. As I explained, much of what I do at the hobby desk generates enjoyment of its own accord, regardless of whether it will ever be completed or not. Hobbies aren't taken on as a cold, calculated exercise to be scheduled and quantified and held to a deadline (well, maybe, as my Dad's family is German, but my Mom's family is French, so no). It's supposed to be an engaging and entertaining way to unwind and pass the time. It's art, not science. 

If you're not born with the wargaming bug, I think you'll never understand, nor will any amount of explaining it help you. The point isn't the destination; it's the trip. As Oscar Wilde said "Arriving isn't important; traveling is." Having a huge, beautiful wargaming army all completed would unarguably be wonderful and I hope I get there, but really, it's the endless messing with creating it that is my real hobby. 

In Arthur C. Clarke's 1953 short story The Nine Billion Names of God,
a sect of monks had devoted centuries to collecting all of God's various names from every culture that ever existed, forgetting the old story that once every name was known, time would end. At the end of the story, as the last name was written down, the stars began to quietly go out, one by one. Maybe if I ever actually finish anything, I'll find that I'm not interested in it anymore. Or maybe I'll inadvertently destroy the entire universe. Hey, it could happen!!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

3mm cavalry is a real pain in the ass!

This weekend, I've been fiddling with my long-neglected 1806 Saxon chevauxleger regiment. My chosen stand size for Napoleonics, 40mm x 20mm, should each hold two cavalry squadrons. When I have a regiment that needs an odd number of squadrons, I'll do a 20x20 stand as an end cap. 

Unfortunately, O8s cavalry is cast as files of two and not ranks (which would've made basing soooo much easier). So I'm having to go through the slow and painful process of gluing a file to the base and then texturing a thin line next to it, then gluing down the next file:
etc, etc, etc. It's the only way to get into that tiny, narrow space between files. Talk about tedious!! 

But I have discovered that painting 3mm horses is a breeze. This is always one chore that I absolutely detest in 6mm, but here, the details are so tiny that they can safely be slopped over with a suitable "horse colored" paint, of which I have three or four (I can't honestly have all the horses looking identical, now can I?). Stone Mountain Miniatures does a really great line of paints, part of which is an excellent selection of horse colors. 

So, on I go. More on all this when I have a few squadrons that are presentable. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Marcin's 155s need Viagra!!

Today I received a small shipment from Picoarmor, included in which was a pack of O8's U.S. 155mm howitzers (the post 1962 designation for which is M114) and the barrels have a very pronounced droop!!
Hmmmm, that's not good! All the other artillery will laugh!! I think my UK readers would call that "brewer's droop". Marcin, those molds seem to need some corrective attention. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A bit of this and a bit of that

This weekend, I've been kept quite busy with the "honey do" list, which Mrs. History PhD produced with almost satanic glee, so hobby related activities have been at a bare minimum. 

However I did manage to sneak in a platoon of West German Skorpion Minenwerfers (in English, that's "mines thrower"):
These are from National Cheese Emporium on Shapeways. I think they're slightly sub-scale (or maybe O8 vehicles are slightly over-scale), but they are very nicely detailed, although exorbitantly expensive for being just four tiny slivers of plastic. 
Hopefully O8 will get cracking on putting out other vehicles for my projected West German engineer company. 

And for my East German panzer pioneers, I finished a platoon of BTS-2 armored recovery vehicles:
These were based on a T-54A chassis and oddly, the dozer blade was mounted on the rear. Similar western vehicles always mounted the blade in front. For 1981, I should be using BTS-4s:
with their massive snorkel, but Marcin has provided only BTS-2s thus far. 

Actually, ARVs were not part of pioneer units in the NVA (nor in any other army, as far as I'm aware), but clouds of them would've followed any WarPac armored unit and attaching them to my pioneers seemed reasonable, at least for storage purposes. 

That's all I've been granted time to do this weekend. When I said that hobbies were far more important than chores, I got this face:
Hmmm. More next weekend (hopefully)!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Decals for my samurai

The 6mm samurai decals from Baccus arrived today and unlike the samurai minis themselves, these arrived in record time...well, 16 days, which isn't bad at all. 
As you can see, they are Takeda mon. 

There are enough for 24 figures wearing sashimono and bigger ones for 6 nobori. At $9.50/£6.25 including the postage, this just isn't going to be a financially viable option. With even a moderate-sized samurai army, I'd get through several hundred decals!

And I've already detected a problem:
The decals don't quite fit. As small as they are, the decals hang off the back side of the sashimono to a noticeable degree, though maybe it's not as obvious in the photo. Trimming the decal paper smaller won't help, as it's the actual image that hangs over. 

Well, I'll use these up, as I paid through the nose for them, but I'll have to find a cheaper, smaller, bulk alternative. Damn it!! Any ideas?

Oh! My Osprey on the Battle of Nagashino has also arrived, so yet more reference work to wade through! More meanderings from me on the weekend.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

My first regimental command stand!

This weekend, I completed the third battalion (a T-55 unit) for an East German panzer regiment. It's two battalions of T-55s: 
and one of T-72s:
It's part of my East German 9th Panzer Division (It will be either the 21st, 22nd, or 23rd Panzer Regiment, all of which were part of the 9th Division in 1981, as was the 9th Motor Rifle Regiment). 

That being the case, this is the first time I've ever needed a Cold War-era regiment/brigade command stand. As a visual aid, I go with the number of vehicles on the stand to quickly identify its command level; one vehicle for company command, two for battalion, etc. I have always used 1"x1" (25mm x 25mm) for my command stands. There's ample room for two vehicles to fit quite comfortably (and even a bush here and there):
However, three was just too many. They looked like they were on top of each other! As I doubt that I'm ever going to need command stands for dozens of regiments/brigades, I really don't want to buy a whole pack of a new, larger size square stand. So, after rummaging around in the numerous sizes I already have, I settled on 40mm x 20mm. It's what I use for 1/600 Napoleonic infantry:
Looks fine to me. As this regiment is partly T-72s, I've assumed the regimental commander would refuse to be seen in older equipment. You know how officers are. But the 2IC is still in his T-55. I threw in a BTR-50PK:
to represent a staff vehicle. Also at the regimental level was a forward air control (FAC) vehicle, a BTR-60 R975:
As usual, the best I can do is a filed down BTR-60PB.

Now all I need to do is convert my pre-existing motor rifle pioneer company into one for a panzer regiment (four extra MTU-20 AVLBs, tracked transport for the pioneers, and lose the ditch diggers) and I'll have the entire regiment completed. As soon as I can convince Mrs. History PhD to let me clear off the kitchen table, I'll let you have a look. 

More next time!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

I got unfollowed!!

Or is it de-followed?
I had 54 followers, but now I have 53! I must be getting boring after two years of posts. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Grandson of "Cool useless stuff I bought"

On May 7, 2014, I wrote a post entitled "Cool useless stuff I bought" and on June 5, 2014, "Son of 'Cool useless stuff I bought'". So, as a continuation on the theme of weapons that have such a long range that they will never appear on a wargaming table, even at 1/600, I offer today's post. Additionally, it's been almost 1000 years since I painted anything other than WarPac equipment (it feels that way anyway), so it seemed a long overdue mental refreshment to paint some West Germans. 

In 1981, the American-built M110A2 8" (203mm) howitzer was the heaviest self-propelled gun fielded by NATO armies. In Northern Europe, it was used by the U.S., British, West Germans, Belgians, and the Dutch. 

The exact makeup and deployment of M110 units varied slightly from nation to nation, but as this is a West German post, I'll go with them. A heavy self-propelled artillery battalion of three batteries was attached to each panzer or infantry (be it Panzergrenadiers or Heimatschütz) division. Heavy batteries in most NATO armies were only two sections (that being four guns), but the West Germans used three sections, just as in light and field batteries, for a total of six guns. Each gun in the battery was assigned a tracked ammunition supply vehicle, that also carried eight of the gun's thirteen man crew, the other five riding on the gun carriage. 

The M110 could carry only two rounds on the vehicle, so its accompanying M548 was never far away:
As each round weighed just over 200lb/91kg, the M548 was backed up on the rear left side of the gun so that the M110's powered shell hoist (which was renown for incessant breakdowns) could reach inside:
For "shoot and scoot", the M110 could be emplaced in just two minutes, by lowering and digging in the recoil spade:
and locking out the torsion bar suspension. The two rounds carried on the vehicle would then be fired and the M110 would move out. After "scooting", two more rounds would be loaded onto the vehicle from the M548 and a new firing site would be found. If an "overflow" ammunition load was being carried in the M548, an M113 could be attached to each gun to carry the excess crew. 

In inclement weather, it was common to see a shelter attached to the rear of the vehicle to help protect the crew from rain or snow:

Here's my battery: three sections of guns:
an M113 Beobachtungspanzer for the forward observer:
the M548s that accompanied the guns:
and the battery commander's M577:
and finally, the whole battery:
I thought about snuggling the M548s up to the rear left side of the guns, but it made each stand look very packed in, so I went with doing them seperately. 

The M110's normal firing range was about 10.5mi/17km, out to a maximum of 15.5mi/25km (18.5mi/30km with rocket-assisted projectiles). So for just the normal range, I'll need a wargaming table 92ft/28m long!!! Well, the battery looks good, even if I never get to use it other than as an off-table firing asset. 

That's it for this weekend. I feel an aircraft post coming on....