Saturday, 28 May 2011

Aeronef: An alternative source of Dirigibles

I must start off by declaring that this idea and the resulting post is a complete and utter piece of plagiarism, in that it is stolen wholesale from the recently formed Arbuthnot's Aeronautical League of Gentlemen Blog, that was launched in the wake of the truly stunning Aeronef game put on at Salute 2011.

I am sure most of you have seen the photos referenced on YIAWWS and over at TMP, with some truly mouth-watering Aeronef modelwork and construction, with hyper-detailing and superlative paint jobs by the team involved.

The Blog features some more great photos, and explains the process behind the detailing as well as describing the building of the US and Japanese fleets, including the scratch-built Carrier, the USS Langley. Personally, I can't wait to see more from these guys, but in the short term, something caught my eye that I have thought would bear repeating - namely the intriguing use of a certain brand of highlighter pens to form the dirigible component of the Carrier.

These were made from WH Smith brand Illumo markers available in the UK, and look amazing in situ, forming the core around which the stunning model was built, so it wasn't long before my hankering developed into a headlong rush down to the High Street.

I came across the packet of 5 markers for £1.99 in my local branch - at 0.40p a pop, not a bad price for some ready-made Aeronef hulls!

The markers measure in at a smidgeon shy of 60mm in length nose to tail, and are 23mm at the waist, with lovely tapered contours and a couple of conformal holes in the cap that are rather reminiscent of torpedo tube openings.
I'm obviously not too fussed as to their performance as pens, but they certainly got the old grey matter whirring when it came to their scratch building potential.
Here's an example beside one of those Revell Minikit Hindenburg models:

Then against one of Brigade's Assari Shevket Dig Destroyers from the Ottoman Air Fleet; probably its closest contender in terms of shape from amongst the commercially available models:

Next beside the larger Muin-i-Zaffer Cruiser:

So these are certainly no lightweights, and would obviously be the base for some pretty big craft, probably why the Arbuthnot boys used them for their Carrier.
With this in mind, I dug out a couple of Sci-Fi flat top pieces that I obtained amongst a job lot on a certain online auction site, and haven't yet found a use for, and ended up throwing them on top:

I think with some suitable VSF-themed additions, and of course a small complement of fighters, these would look pretty spiffing; see the other version below:

I'm not really in a position as yet to make much of these, as my Aeronef Fleets, in the most part obtained via the enormous Lead Mountain transfer that took place with David Crook of 'AWargamingOddysey' fame, are still on the back burner, but I'd thought I'd flag up the possibilities, and encourage any who might be interested in the further adventures of the Arbuthnot chaps to support their fledgling blog, I am sure there is some great stuff to come from them in the near future....

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Colonial French Photos 2: Artillery

Another instalment of original postcard views as part of the nascent 10mm FFL project, this time around a look at some contemporary artillery in action. I've yet to really get to grips with painting the excellent Pendraken 10mm figures beyond a bit of undercoating here and there, so I'm hiding my blushes with some eye candy - that might at least inspire me when time allows!

Above we have a cracking photo from a 1912 postcard by J. Boussuge of Casablanca, which incidentally bears the postal cachet of the 3rd Regiment de Spahis, and as the title suggests shows a pair of 65mm mountain guns and an interesting group of onlookers circa 1911.
I would suggest from the insouciance of the group, there is probably little combat occurring - more likely training, but an interesting photo, nonetheless.

The gun in question is likely a Schneider-Ducrest model 1906, more on which can be seen here:

That page is from a rather awkward to navigate, but nevertheless rather excellent website which has more French artillery photos than you can shake a stick at, conveniently not just in France, but at locations in various countries and former theatres of conflict - well worth a browse if you are interested in early 20th Century artillery of all nations.

Next up, we have a view of the classic model 1897 75mm cannon, the 'soixante quinze' of legend - here looking somewhat bedraggled - have those blokes hung their washing out on it?

I suppose this photo, by Landraud of Casablanca, does say they are 'au bivouac', so we shall forgive them their mess - then again, interesting to see a group actually on campaign, rather than posed in parade ground finery....

Moving on, we have a more conventional image, by J. Guilliane - a click to enlarge will reveal the solar helmeted head of an officer just in front of the horses at left, and interesting to see Greys pulling the limber there, too - quite flashy for a Colonial Artillery battery....talking of grey, this picture, I think, pretty much settles the argument as to to the colour of French artillery tubes and carriages in the Colonies circa 1900 to 1914 - at least it does for my limited scope, anyway! Some sources talk of green during this period, but I'm going to plump for the classic grey all over, as so nicely illustrated here.

Next up, a rather stirring image by P. Grebert, part of a series showing crossings of the rivers at Bou Deraa, and the progress of the 'Colonne de Fez' circa 1910. This image is interesting in that it enforces the fact that although we strongly associate the Foreign Legion and Colonial Infantry with the campaigns in Morocco, most artillery was provided by metropolitan artillery formations of the main army - hence the crossed cannon badges so obvious on the solar topees of the gunners here:

Finally, just for fun, we see the artillery of the enemy, in all its splendour and magnificence - quite the heavyweight competition, eh?

Well, actually, in this postcard view by J. Boussuge again, we have some likely heritage or hubris artillery - namely obsolescent guns gifted by various Europeans when courting the Sultan, who installed them in a shore battery at Casablanca, more to show off than to offer any realistic resistance to the pre-Dreadnought navies of the Colonialist Powers, I think....

These particular guns obviously came a cropper during the spot of bother in 1907, when the rather inconvenient massacre of nine Europeans meant a spot of interventionism by the Cruiser Galilee - I say inconvenient, but I'll let you judge for whom - given that it allowed the further encroachment of European influence on the already tottering Sultanate....

In some posts to come, once Real Life allows, I'll be looking at how I'll be representing these guns and others using the available ranges from Pendraken, as well as hopefully doing some painting at long last...

A bientot!

2mm: The Next Big Thing....

After an enforced hiatus here at SteelonSand Towers, with 'Real Life' doing its level best to intrude upon all things Blog-worthy, I thought I'd get slowly back into the groove with a number of posts having a look at what ideas are currently on the table, even if it is empty of actual miniatures!

As it looks like there will be little time even in the coming weeks for the physical work of producing more little men, ships and planes, I'll be throwing up some ruminations on the shape of future projects, alongside posting some more bits and bobs from the photo and postcard collection that might be of interest.

So first off, as the title says, what will be 'the next big thing', (or TNBT as I call it) project-wise using 2mm minis?

I'm currently exploring a number of options, and thought I'd mull over the pros and cons of the shortlist.
First off, I had mentioned that I was considering moving into Napoleonics with a view to meeting the 2015 anniversary of Quatre Bras, oh, and that other battle, what was it called...Water -something?
This is still a serious contender, in that it's an era for which I currently have no armies in any scale, but I am also baulking at taking it on for the very same reason - it is a really serious contender - a whole mindset, culture and world of research required.

It would certainly play to the strengths of 2mm minis - no button counting or lace-colours needed here, but I am somewhat bogged down in thinking of how the depiction of various formations might play out - I like big bases with big units, but even at a battle the size of QB, the sheer scale of things is pretty daunting.
That might move things toward bases depicting brigades or even divisions, but I'm not really used to that level of abstraction, as most of my prior projects are around the regimental/battalion level - I'm thinking of the 2mm FIW Quebec 1759, for instance...

Certainly, Irregular's Horse and Musket 2mm range is pretty much set up with Napoleonics in mind, and you could get a lot of bang for your buck, with generic units being applicable for other campaigns. I have a history of going for the slightly more obscure and quirky for most of my projects, so would I be selling out by getting into 1815 and all that? There is a nagging doubt that once you start, it's the kind of era that would push all other projects to the side....

Next on the list is a favourite of mine, the Crimea, or predictably perhaps, the old chestnut of The Charge of the Light Brigade. As a relatively limited campaign it does not have a high profile in Wargaming in any scale, but has plenty of colour with Turks, Sardinians, Cossacks, the French, and would give one the opportunity, if using 2mm, of fielding the whole 673-odd of the Light Brigade in 1:1 figure scale!

This would be somewhat tempered by having to also produce the whole of the Heavy Brigade, and a truly enormous number of Russians - perhaps even here, a larger unit level would be more reasonable - I am thinking of the brilliant efforts of Nik Harwood in particular here, who produced some cracking bases of his own:

Amongst all of his great work, his Crimean ones are definitely my favourites - but could I replicate this with my tendency toward larger bases - the Light Brigade might require five separate 80x40mm bases on it's own... that's a lot of cavalry, and when you factor in the Russians, well....

Then again, looking back at my own humble ECW Royalist Naseby army, a whole heap of 2mm Cavalry can look pretty spiffing:

Outside of the campaign itself, there are of course options to field many of the mid-nineteenth century protagonists in other guises, and a bunch of hussars, lancers and the odd 'Thin Red Line' would easily translate into mobile speed bumps for some early Land Ironclads, and the French uniform would be current all the way up until 1915!

In a similar vein, I had of course originally tabled ACW as another alternative, but the challenge from Oddzial Osmy's 3mm or 1/600th has effectively seen that off - when I eventually get around to painting up some Union, and finishing the CSA bases, I think these will see a lot of action, particularly with the back-up of the expanding range of scenery from Steve over at SPC.

Next on the list was something a bit quirkier, that would dovetail really well into an existing project, namely the Pacific War of 1879. This has been getting a lot of attention in larger scales at the moment, and has an interesting mix of multi-coloured Peruvian, Chilean and Bolivian forces, that again might see double duty as VSF armies - some blue coated, red trousered regiments are dopplegangers for contemporary French, for instance, whilst some Bolivian troops have a distinctly Prussian feel....

This would enable me to match the land campaigns with the naval angle using my existing 1/2400th vessels, whilst giving enough latitude to play around with some more 'imagineered' nations and combatants.

Having mentioned Prussians of course, one cannot help but move on to the Franco-Prussian War itself, again perhaps a somewhat under-represented era in the Hobby, which would have similar strengths to those mentioned above; generic-looking 2mm units giving plenty of cross-over potential, whilst providing an interesting base of Historical battles to try out.

So, the 'short' list is actually not all that short - and I have left the best (or craziest) for last - namely alongside 'TNBT' we have the option of 'TWDT' - namely The Whole Damned Thing.....!

This would see a whole cross section of 19th Century forces produced spanning say, 1836 to 1880, where generic bases of Lancers could be Uhlans or Cossacks - Hussars can fight for many nations, and kepi-wearing infantry can be just about anything I might like to call it....

There's still a lot to think about, and I'm a way off from actually putting pen to paper to organise armies, let alone put brush to mini, but whichever direction it takes, this will be the biggest thing on the radar in the next couple of years -until the next bright shiny thing comes along, of course! :-)