Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Saladin Knock Offs? or Not?

Many years ago when beer was much cheaper, I acquired a few green plastic armoured cars. These were of the type that were commonly found in bags of Hong Kong knock off Army Men, so I assume that they came from that source.
Plastic Saladins after having repairs made and details added

Over the last sixteen odd years, they have been pressed into service (with some modification) as very dodgy M-8 Greyhounds, and other assorted armoured cars. One was even used lend-lease style as a SdKfz 222 Armoured Car for a friend's Flames of War Army. They have even been used as Saladins. But it wasn't until quite recently that I noticed just how close they were to the Matchbox Saladin.
The view from the top.

Side view. plastic card added to repair rips and add depth to vehicle.
The rear view. The plastic one appears to be a top only cast of the Matchbox vehicle.
 The plastic used in these vehicles is very light, and all of the vehicles are quite warped. Surface detail is very limited compared to the Chieftain knockoffs. Whether this is due to limitations of the plastic, poor mold making, or an old mold, I have no idea. If I was to guess, I would suggest the possibility that these are knockoffs of the knockoffs, as it would explain the poor quality and lack of depth. Still, on to pictures of the beasts.
Look it's a 15mm SdKfz 222! Plastic card has been put over the rips in the turret.

The rear view showing how plastic card has been used to create some depth in the engine department.
Warped Front? No problem, bang in a bit of plastic card and it's fixed!
Missing a turret and a set of wheels. Note the warping.
Plastic card over holes where middle axle was placed further back to help the illusion of it being a M-8.
 Once the plastic carding was finished, they were all sprayed with grey primer. The next step will be to paint them sand, black the tyres, and add insignia. Three more Saladins for Harad, although they may be given a new name in Haradi service.
Three more Saladin Armoured Cars!

The rear view. An improvement on their previous status.

Side views. Quite acceptable result.
 I have never seen any of these vehicles except second hand as part of trades, etc. I am now curious as to what other useful Matchbox diecasts were knocked off in plastic, and if they are easily available.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Mighty Antar Pt. 1

So, my Airfix Attack Force Mighty Antar is missing one of the ramps from its trailer. My options were to ignore this, try and find a replacement Airfix part, replace both with suitable ramps, scratchbuild a matching replacement, or to make an obvious field replacement ramp to add character to the vehicle. To make the vehicle functional a new rear ramp is required, so my replacement part is based solely on functionality, in both getting the trailer useable again, and in ease of production. The other task is to give the Antar cab a floor. I want to avoid doing anything that can't easily be undone on this beast as it is the only one I have.
Antar cab - showing white, instead of floor.
The underside of the cab.
Plastic card to the rescue once more.

This is clearly not a matching pair.
But it sits about right...
The whole unit.
Loading a tank, and the new ramp works.
And loaded up with tank.
Trailer rear with ramps in upright  position. And spray painted grey.
Cab spraypainted grey. I love the Antar at the front!
And a view from above, with some more Saladins for company.
So all I need to do now is make up a suitable support stand, and think about what other heavy lift vehicles I can find to add to the fun.

French Artillery

Many years ago, in the summer of 1995, I purchased a collection of models, that included painted Airfix figures. These figures had been painted quite some time before 1995 with enamels, and then stored out in a garage, jumbled together in a box. Naturally, some paint chipped.... Fast forward to the closing days of 2011, and my frustration at painting up Esci French Artillery, and not liking their poses much either. I decide to see if I can touch up these nice but flakey paintjobs, and pair the Airfix French guncrew with the Esci Guns. The answer is below:
The Esci guns are a great improvement on the Airfix originals.
The view from the rear. Figures are all Airfix.
A quick wash of you know what hides the imperfect colour matching caused by the repainting.
A view from above. The gun crew surround the gun.
All three stands have the crew working at their own tasks...

 I wanted the stands to look full as each is meant to represent 6-18 guns. So I put five figures and a ready to use ammo box on each stand. The problem arises that many of the poses are either too close if the gun is firing, as acting out of phase. This problem however is a minor concern compared to how much I like the look of the layout of the stand. I now only need to flock the stand, probably with some dried brown static grass to counter weight Frank's nice green golf course stands. I also have enough crew left to do another three stands, but I should finish off the infantry and cavalry first. Much thanks is due to the Archduke for his wisdom on matters Napoleonic, and to Frank for helping me harvest the crews out of the drawer of French guns.

Haradian WIP

In order to run my Harad campaign, I am having to expand the forces I have available. So I decided to start with these vehicles. Four diecast trucks made by Zylmex, Six diecast Matchbox Saladin Armoured cars (all with broken guns), an Airfix Sheridan Tank, and Two Matchbox Battlekings. 
A great view of a K-107 BattleKing 155 SPG. Tracks are from the Hasegawa Sherman.
Matchbox Saladins. The vast majority of these always seem to have a broken gun. The PlayArt version was much better and closer in scale to the Airfix/JB Models kit.
Battle King K-103: The Chieftain Tank. The tank that spawned numerous plastic knockoffs.
The K-107 155 SPG. Is this meant to be a M-107? or anything at all?
 The Battle King series of vehicles have always been a personal favourite. My brother, and I, would wage war with our armies of Battle Kings, Matchbox military vehicles, and plastic soldiers, across the lounge floor when we were both much younger. The majority of our Battle Kings were purchased by our Grandmother, so they have always been special to me for that reason as well.
After being sprayed Primer Grey.

Some Esci Vietnam war Americans, and some Eagle Games Arabs spraypainted black.

Hasegawa German Officer painted as Imperial Haradian Officer.

Grey Zylmex trucks get a thin coating of Vallejo Iraqi sand. These will be classed as light trucks in CD terms.
 For my Harad forces, I am using a very basic scheme of Iraqi Sand, with the addition of vehicle markings, slogans, etc. The advantage of this scheme is that I can add to later, and that it lets vehicles be painted quickly.

Six Haradi Saladin Armoured Cars. I still have to black a few tyres.

Four light trucks ready for use.

Trucks, A/Cs, and some Militia. Figures are Mars Mujahideen.

Battle King Chieftain amid plastic clones. The grey Nod tanks may be repainted.

The real deal - after its new paint job. I may actually put a tank commander in the turret.

Now on its third repaint. A Haradian 155mm SPG.
The Battle King 155mm SPG, rather than being a M-107, is most likely a Canon de 155 mm Mle F3 Automoteur (Cn-155-F3-Am). In scale, the real vehicle is somewhat longer and thinner, with the gun mount sitting lower, and having spades on either side of the rear. However, it is a nice looking vehicle, as are all the Battle King range, barring their track assemblies. That being said, they are meant to be toys, rather than detailed models. Since the F3 has been exported by the French to a variety of nations, it is not unlikely that Harad purchased a few.

The Imperial Flag

I recently managed to get my sister, who is a bit of a whiz at design, to make up the Harad Imperial Flag for me. It took her no time at all to transform my pointing at the screen of her Mac and mumbling over Google images to produce this:

The Harad Imperial Flag
The flag is based on several Iranian flag designs I found on the Internet. The middle device is an ancient Persian symbol which is quite well liked by some Iranian Nationalists on the Internet, and is often incorporated into their flag designs. The symbol itself  has both a Nationalist, and a Zoroastrian meaning, being the Faravahar, but more importantly, it looks good. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Gifts

In addition to the small armoured force my wife purchased for me, I gained some more plastic kits. From my sister, I received two Airfix kits, the veteran Sherman, and the Vickers Light Tank, from my brother, an Airfix Stug, and from my friend Steve, the Airfix Bedford Tactical Refueler kit.
Airfix Kits, old and new.
That, coupled with some very nice books, and modeling tools, from the in-laws, and some paint and plastic storage from the parentals, makes for a very good Christmas haul.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Japanese Pt. 4

Since I had the time, I thought I would post some more Japanese armour and other equipment, from my CD Japanese Army. First up are some Fujimi Type 41 75mm Mountain guns. These are ones that I acquired second hand some time ago.  These are the guns to go with the pack horses from this post. The guns are the only useful item from the Fujimi Japanese Infantry set, the figures are amongst the worse I have ever seen.
Four Batteries of Horse packable fun.

I am starting to put all my guns on bases to help protect the model.
 To get hold of these particular guns, I had to purchase an entire WRG Japanese Army. It was worth it to get the guns! Attempts to order in the model kit from a local model store came to a dead end as they were only able to order in a very limited range of Fujimi kits, and these weren't on the list. Fortunately, a friend teaching in Japan was able to track some down for me so I have a few more lurking in the plastic mountain awaiting construction. Still, for quite some time these guns were scarcer than hens teeth.
Getting hold of these guns was quite a mission.
 I have always liked my Japanese Army, as it allows me to field quite quirky forces with a solid infantry core. It also gave me an opportunity to make conversions of existing vehicles, like these two 150mm Ho-Ro SPGs. While only 25 were ever made (and in CD terms here are 10), the idea with my Japanese armour is to either field them in a manner similar to battalion guns (so they represent a section of vehicles, rather than a platoon) or give them the markings of particular units for use in different campaigns.
A side view of the beasts.
 These were converted from the Fujimi Ho-Ni 75mm SPG kit. The 150mm guns are cut down Roco 155mm Long Toms, and the plastic struts inside holding the guns come from the blade attachments of Matchbox Bulldozers.
The Front view of the Ho-Ros.
And the rear view.
 The paint job is unfinished, as I am still unsure as to how I want to finish them. My current plan is to assemble all my Japanese AFVs and then assign theaters and paintjobs from there. Of course not all my conversions are as reliable as my Ho-Ros. Two in particular are just plain wrong. I refer to my conversion of a Chi-Ha tank to a cargo/AA carrier and my conversion of a Ho-Ni to a self propelled heavy mortar.
Look it's a cargo carrier that never was!

And now it's a AA carrier that never was!
 The cargo carrier was an attempt to create a So-Da, which was a cargo carrier based on the Type 97 Tankette. Since the Tankette is damn hard to source in NZ, I decided to use a Chi-Ha from the bits box, and use the appropriate stats for the real vehicle, which are listed in 'Lighter than a Feather', the CD Command Post Japanese Supplement as being the Type 3 carrier. The AA carrier is based on an experimental vehicle which was also based on a tankette. It's a pure gamey fudge created to put balance into certain scenarios. The gun is loosely based on the Type 4 twin 20mm AA Machine Cannon. The barrels are far too long. The worst offender is the last... A self propelled heavy mortar. The mortar is meant to be the Type 3 30cm Mortar, but I always used the stats for the Type 98 250mm Mortar. The vehicle is very, very, loosely based on the Type 4 Ha-To.

And this didn't exist either!
And yes, that is a 40K Imperial Guard Mortar...
 The point of making the vehicles was to create something to fill the gaps in my Japanese forces using what resources I had available, and at the time, the very limited reference material available. Both of the reference links I have made in this post are to pages from Taki's site, which I view as being simply outstanding in terms of quality.Taki is a very trustworthy source on Japanese military equipment, and if you have an interest in WW2 Japanese equipment, and haven't visited his site, I strongly urge you to do so. As to the future fate of the two conversions that never were, I will probably still use the cargo carrier, but stop using the AA mount, and plan to massively rebuild the Mortar carrier into an actual  Ha-To.