Thursday, 29 April 2010

Aquanefiness: Submarine progress update

A quick progress report, now, on how the Aquanef 'Team Nemo' monster subs are coming along.
As you can see above, I followed the whole cuttlefish thing to its logical conclusion with the vessel above, adding some three-core cable tentacles (no doubt steam-powered!) and some knobbly protrusions on the back to represent conning towers, etc.
The whole has been based on some magnetic-backed artists card, weighing in at 70x30mm, and some filler applied as the water's surface.
I'm not sure how the paint-scheme will go on this one; I think I'll move away from metallics or greys, and might experiment with a more fishy finish, to give it a realistic look.

Next up, the smaller of the two soy-sauce fish was similarly mounted, this time on a 50x30mm base, and again had a funnel and mast installed:

Finally, the larger one went onto a 60x30mm base, and had the same treatment as the others; bit of an angler fish vibe going on here - perhaps it tempts merchant ships close with a fake light lure, and then goes in for the kill!

The strange blue blobs visible internally are not transplanted organic brains for some fiendish purpose, but rather some blobs of putty which just help hold the light plastic body in place whilst the glue is drying and the filler is applied around them.

So, with some undercoat splashed on, the allies of Nemo against the Militarists are beginning to take shape:

Stay tuned for more updates soon....

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Aquanefiness: Very 'Scratch' Subs!

The recent buzz surrounding the public debut at Salute 2010 of Steve Blease's Aquanef has had me playing around with ideas as to how to very cheaply and easily come up with some suitable submarine vehicles until the real thing can be cast and released.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had thought of combining the recently purchased 1/2400th Ironclads with some submarine vessels, in order to re-create a sort of late nineteenth century Nemo and his underwater friends (Meglomaniacs) versus the Ironclad navies of the World Powers (Militarists). Thinking of the "It must be a Monster of the Deep" confusion evinced by the latter when dealing with the incredible technology built by the former, I thought that some anthropomorphic shapes for the submarine vessels might be the way to go, and I lit upon the plastic monstrosities you see in the photo above as likely contenders.

The gastronomes amongst you might recognise them as the plastic soy sauce/shoyu bottles you often get in sets of take-away Sushi. These I had originally snaffled with a view to turning them into Dirigibles for Aeronef, but thought that they could do just as well as underwater craft. I know that the vessels on display at Salute were full models, but rather in the vein of my previously built Ottoman sub, I felt that as most early submarines operated offensively pretty much at the surface or at most 'awash', then a waterline type model wouldn't be too amiss.

Some hacking with a craft knife, along with a quick scruffle in the bits box brought me to the following:

An electrical connector, and some bits from the ever-reliable eye drop pipettes went in to form a more machine-like shape, although some creative painting could render it as perhaps a sort of steam-powered cuttlefish.

The larger of the Soy Sauce bottles has a plain surface apart from eyes and a raised brand or trade mark, which of course could easily be painted up as some form of mechanical device - from the fin on the top surface I cut out a couple of slots which could be entry hatches or mounting points for steam funnels and/ or masts and periscopes:

Similar treatment was meted out on the smaller bottle, which has some rather nice inscribed scale markings, to give the following:

A closer view of the 'cuttlefish':

Size comparison on the two soy sauce powered craft:

Now the smaller of the two up against the Peruvian Ironclad the Independencia:

A touch on the large size, perhaps, but then these are supposed to be monsters of the deep!

More to come on this I fear.... :-)

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Oops - I did it again - 1/2400th Ironclads!

I need another project like I need a hole in the head. I need another project involving ships -when I weigh it against the thousands of land troops in various scales that adorn the 'Lead Mountain' - like two holes in the aforementioned head. So what do I go and do now?
Well, you guessed it, I convince myself to start a new project, (only on a small scale, of course...) involving the 1/24ooth Victorian Naval Ironclads available from Tumbling Dice here in the UK.

Now I, along with many others, have been hankering after the release of the AquaNef Rules to compliment those currently available for AeroNef / Land Ironclads; and the news that Steve Blease will be hosting an AquaNef game at the upcoming Salute show has me ruminating on how I might approach this new area. For me, the submarine connection has to be intrinsically linked with one particular vessel and period; the Nautilus of Captain Nemo, and his 'rage against the machine'-like attacks on the late Victorian Ironclad navies of various nations.

Now AeroNef and its counterparts are more normally associated with 1/1200th as a scale, although of course this is somewhat elastic, given the effective use of Irregular's 2mm or 1/900th minis by most of us alongside the offerings from Brigade, but in typical contrary fashion, I was intrigued by the 'smaller' range of Ironclad vessels brought out by Tumbling Dice - I reasoned that they might be cheaper than using existing ships available in 1/1200th, and, well, let's face it, I had been looking for an excuse to give them a try for some while....

So this post will be a run through/review of the sample pieces that I have ordered so far, and will hopefully give a flavour of the range, as well as setting out my ideas as to how I would like to approach the 'feet wet' part of the AeroNef universe.

As you will see in the photo above, I purchased a number of different types of vessel that would be appropriate to the time period of around 1865 to 1885, and as usual from Tumbling Dice, the models are well proportioned and quite charismatic, although there is a modicum of clearing up to do in terms of flash on the castings; all models appear here in their 'out of the packet' state.

Unlike the 1/4800th Napoleonic naval showcased elsewhere on this Blog, these vessels come with separate metal bases, that are etched with wave-like markings around a vessel-shaped slot for the ship itself. this of course would enable the option of differing basing styles, and if you were to utilise these metal bases alone, they are nice and substantial, and a good fit for their respective ships.

First up, let's look at an example of what I ordered, namely in the photo above, the Peruvian battery Ironclad the Independencia, seen here with the separately moulded rat-lines and sails that came in its twin-pack with the Huascar (ASV61). I think that the rigging, particularly in the clumsy hands of a clutz like myself, might be a bit too much to attempt on models of this scale, so I probably will do without them, but the sails, furled and set, will be a useful addition.
The model itself is nicely made, with lifeboats visible in the stern quarter, as well as some detail amidships - although of course there are no visible armaments as such.

Below we see another general example; this the Chilean (ASV62) Almirante Cochrane battery ship - here the additional sails are cast onto the base, and there is more in the way of flash to clean up, but nothing too major - remember all photos on this Blog are clickable for a close-up, Macro view.

Rather than go with perhaps the more conventional Franco-Anglo pairing available in this range, I decided that the stomping ground for my Nemo-esque shenanigans would be a bit more exotic to my Eurocentric eyes, and I plumped for the War of the Pacific 1879~1884 as a background to the project.
This would take advantage of the available models in this scale from Tumbling Dice, who make the major ships from both Chile and Peru, as well as some interesting entries from Argentina, the U.S. and further afield, also other generic types that will be useful.

Let's look at the samples I bought one by one; being a miserly sort, I restricted myself to those packs that offered multiple ships, and therefore good value over their counterparts available in, say, 1/3000th or 1/1200th.

From ASV61, then, the turret Ironclad the Huascar:

Her pack-mate, the Independencia once more:

The British turret ship HMS Cyclops (ASV40):

The generic Steam Screw Corvette (ASV15):

The USS Cairo Armoured Stern Wheeler (ASV53):

The Argentinian Turret Ironclad Los Andes (ASV64):

The ACW-era generic Cottonclad armoured side-wheeler (ASV59):

With multiples in each pack, this grouping gives fifteen vessels of seven different types, which should offer a good starting point for either representative ships from a number of navies, or even the groundings of a more 'imagineered' navy of the era and location, that might take on what will probably be some scratch-built submarines, including the iconic Nautilus itself.

Some comparison shots to give an idea of size:

Some nice inscribed detail on those two ACW types, although there was some lumpy casting left-overs on the base of the Cottonclads that will need to be filed off.

Corvette versus the Cyclops; the sailing ship has lovely proportions, and the turret ship looks suitably business-like:

Huascar and Independencia together; I have seen a number of artist's renderings of the former that depict her cleared for action with the foremast removed - to give a clearer field of fire for her turret guns, I suppose - so she may lose that mast during the painting process:

Finally, the Chilean and Argentinian entries; once cleared of flash, the former is a lovely sculpt, and the Los Andes type has a nice flying bridge over the turrets:

So, once again we find ourselves with more raw lead to paint, and the beginnings of another round of research and sorting out, perhaps on-top of some serious scratch building.....certainly enough to provide that inevitable distraction from my other projects....until the next new idea comes along of course.... ;-).

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

2mm Web Resources: New Entries

Some recent additions now, to the thankfully ever-growing presence of 2mm miniatures on the Web.

As with a number of other people, the lure of adding soldiery to a Land Ironclads / Aeronef collection has led Mwowm over at Panzer Grenadier Kompanie CHUK to throw his hat into the tiniest of rings and have a go at some of Irregular's 2mm output:

A stirling start, I think, and hopefully more to come in the future; always good to see more photos of our favourite tinies on the 'net, anyway!

Talking of photos, 2mm maestro Nik Harwood recently announced over on the 2mm Yahoo Group that he had been in contact with a very creative individual, in the person of one Slobodan 'Bokaso' of Serbia, who has filled the 2mm-free void of that particular part of the world with some truly incredible scratch-built vehicles and terrain.

If you are not already a member of the Yahoo Group, then you may have missed the announcement and uploading of his photos, so here is his Photobucket account, that is well worth a good exploration; you will be amazed at what this true small-scale artist has achieved, working by hand, in creating both scenery and vehicles of all types:

Absolutely inspirational; puts most of us to shame! If only I had a talent like that. There's even a tutorial on doing scratch-built 2mm palm trees! Let's hope we see a lot more from Slobodan in the coming months.

Talking of the near future, don't forget that the Society of Ancients here in the UK is hosting its Battle Day this weekend on the 17th April, and this will be especially significant in that Simon MacDowall will be hosting a recreation of Zama in 2mm, using miniatures painted by Tony Hughes of Gildas Facit fame; a photo report will no doubt follow over at the always excellent:

Don't forget to take a look!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Some small advances in Egypt: 2mm Colonial

Hello All, just to offer apologies, and let you know that I have been feeling a little off-colour lately, but the Surgeon Major has now passed me fit for duty once again (Good shot of Collis-Brown's Mixture, old chap!), so hopefully the rather sparse nature of all things Blog-like should be changing in the near future.

Just to prove that I haven't been malingering, a few quick shots of the work that has progressed, if even with the pace of an overladen artillery mule....

The Elephant guns have had some daubings applied, and the gun itself mocked up from some plastic tube, giving a rather monstrous looking gun:

I'm still unsure as to whether to actually depict the drag-chains attaching the elephant pair and the gun, or to base them up as is; this will probably come down to how fiddly the exercise will be versus whether it will actually add to the model - anyway, watch this space...

Next up, we have a small skirmish line of Egyptian infantry, which I am thinking may appear alongside some Camel Corps troops I am currently undercoating, making use of Irregular's ABG23 Camelry from their Ancients range, given the size of the sculpts, and the fact that they don't have noticeably large spears or anything, these should be alright for double duty in a later era...

Finally, the Egyptian auxiliary types have rather turned into what is becoming a cloud of Mahdist troops, and the more I look at these, and also consider the simplicity of their paint jobs, (black undercoat, white jibba, few spots of colour for patches, the odd stroke of brown or silver to the front for weapons and done) I am getting tempted to head south into the Hicks Pasha, this should probably be avoided if I want to keep the project within strict limits, but then again....

So, sorry to leave any of my regular readers feeling as bereft and beleaguered as these Berkshire boys below at Maiwand, but hopefully a more normal Blog service will now be resumed.....


Saturday, 3 April 2010

Pre-Dreadnought Photos: Part 9

Another Russo-Japanese flavoured instalment from the ever-growing SteelonSand Archive now, leading off with an absolutely cracking (albeit German) postcard view of a contemporary Torpedo Launcher in action.

Whether the central figure has been scared white by the exposed and dangerous nature of his action station I am not sure, but I think this card gives a very good sense of just how precarious an occupation was 'sailoring' in Pre-Dreadnought navies. Not for them the armoured turrets and blast screens of later eras, oh no! You stood and were counted directly in the line of fire, just like your ground-based colleagues, although whereas a scattered and ragged volley of rifle shots might just miss you, the massive amount of high-velocity explosive directed at your ship was not very likely to do the same....

The postcard itself is printed with the permission of the Illustrated News of Leipzig, so perhaps it depicts an actual event, although of course exactly what is unclear; but certainly a striking image.

Heading East, then, we have a stereo-view from a set by Underwood and Underwood Ltd, of the RJW, in this case shell fire having started secondary fires on Golden Hill behind the roadstead at Port Arthur:

I don't know what the chap in the foreground makes of the scene, apart from the fact that he is probably thinking what I am thinking; to whit: "which Russian ships are those?"

I am going to hazard a guess that the one in the centre can only be the ugly bulk of either the Peresvyet or the Pobyeda Battleships, bearing in mind their silhouette and the fact that they must be of the 1st Pacific Squadron.
battleships-cruisers has a good entry on the Class here:

As to the three-funnelled Cruiser type to the left, I'm going to go for the Pallada Class, either the Diana or the Pallada herself:

Next we move on to another stereo-view, this time of the aftermath of the Japanese victory, and the Russian Mine-Layer the Amur, sunk at her moorings:

This photo gives a nice sense of the busily industrial architecture that was Port Arthur, mixing alongside more traditional eastern buildings. Wikipedia has a view of her in happier times:

She was credited with having laid the mines that claimed the Japanese Battleships Hatsuse and Yashima, so I guess all is fair in love and war...

Moving on to a contemporary photographic postcard, now, of the only survivor of the conflict from the Russian side, namely the Cruiser Aurora, moored at St Petersburg.
She owes her current state of preservation of course, to later exploits in the Revolutionary era:

At 21:45 on the 25th of October 1917, it was her guns that signalled the attack on the Winter Palace, and after duties as a training ship, she was made a floating monument in 1948.

Switching sides now, we have a splendid postcard view of a Japanese gun crew in action from S. Hildesheimer Co. ltd, London and Manchester:

It is interesting in that the credited artist is none other than R. Caton Woodville, that graphic chronicler of all things Military and Colonial; more famous certainly for his views of the daring exploits of Victoria's Soldiery, so unusual to see his take here on some naval action.
The title reads " practice", but I think the drama inherent in the scene is more reminiscent of something less benign; the starboard 6" QFs of the Mikasa at Tsushima, perhaps?

Next we have a postcard view of the Battleship Asahi from C.W. Faulkner:

I don't know, but something about the background of the picture reminds me more of the docks of Clydebank, Scotland, where she was built, rather than somewhere more exotic; that would certainly explain her white colour scheme. Did I say white? she does seem rather begrimed and filthy to be freshly commissioned - although perhaps after a trial run where they had been thrashing the boilers?
(Perhaps the mis-spelling of her name also points to a Scottish connection; imagine an ancestor of Sean Connery telling the photographer in his inimitable tones: "Ship number 007, that's the the Ashahi .....Japanese Ashahi.....")

Finally, we return to that iconic battle which I do tend to go on and on about; yes, one more view of the ever-present Chemulpo!

Again by C.W. Faulkner, we see the Varyag and Korietz plainly titled, although to be honest their depiction is more heroic than accurate....
One good thing to note is the addition of the ships of the European navies in the background, and I do like the impression, however unhistorical, that the Russian pair gave as good as they got!