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'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Buildings for wargames... Terence Wise -

was a series that ran in Airfix Magazine in the early 1970s. Wise, one of the giants of the small scale world in the days when the earth was young, did imaginative things with Airfix's series of railway buildings to create buildings for wargames (as it said on the tin). He turned the 1930s detached house into an English Civil War era country house, the classic British signal box into a 'Wild West' saloon, the bungalow into a Deep South mansion (of sorts), and, in the May 1973 issue:

He did a straightforward job on the 'Engine Shed' kit to turn it into a REME workshop or a riding school. Inspired by the article, I had a bash at the REME workshop, which involved chopping off the bottom few rows of bricks to bring the doors down to the ground (engine shed doors being, of course, off the ground to allow clearance for the rails), adding a plastistruct girder and a hook, along with outside lights and moving the 'office' to the side of the building, all topped off with a blue/yellow/red REME signboard. Cracking! Lacking that fabulous beast, 'a razor saw' (something that was as foreign to me in 1973 as 'men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders'), I used a knife heated in a candle to burn off the 'bricks'. We actually had a reasonable supply of candles then, not because we had entered the age of Sunday supplement 'chi chi', but because the 1970s was the crisis decade, and power cuts were not unknown. Good riddance to the 1970s.
And good service that REME workshop did, even if now, over 41 years later it looks rather sad:

REME board, gone. Extractor fan, gone. Lights, gone. Doors, AWOL. Girder and hoist, gone. Office, rickety.

But, yesterday, while helping my grandson to choose a Cyberman in a local retro and collectors shop - 'Metropolis' of Smith Street, Warwick (where the smiths used to have their fiery furnaces, outside the town walls) - I came across this:

And for five pounds sterling, I was the happy possessor of an 'Engine Shed'. This time, I think I will make it as it was designed, for steam engines. Interestingly, the orginal price ticket on the bag says
 'R - 99'. The only currency I can think of is the South African Rand. Did this engine shed journey from Blighty to SA, only to return to Blighty?

On a more mundane note, the Valom Wellesley has made a little progress. A reasonable interior, as you can see:

The next bit will be a tad trickier...

Monday, 5 January 2015


.... not a Wellington, but a Wellesley. Well, I know they were one and the same in one version (with nose), but not so in the Barnes Wallis' sired version. Even if neither was born in a stable. If all that makes sense.

Anyway, next project up for the new, 2015, me, is the Valom Vickers Wellesley Mk.1:

A very nice package, in a useful tray-style box. Four main sprues:

Interestingly there is an option of two different fuselages. At first glance, the instruction booklet gives no indication as to differences, or which aircraft is which. The differences in the parts appears to be limited to panels and the outline of the forward fuselage - any hints on what this means (different engines?) will be very gratefully received.
Also included is a neat little photo-etched sheet:

I'm a bit cack-handed with PE (I probably need one of those special bending jigs), but I'll certainly use the seat harnesses.
There are two options, both for the East African air war.

All-in-all a lovely looking kit, and, as far as I'm aware the only offer since the 1980s Matchbox kit. But, let's see how long my optimism lasts...

Sunday, 4 January 2015


... I can't remember how long ago it was that I started Plastic Soldier Company's Pak 38s. PSC do a very nice, very useful box of four Pak 38s, with enough figures for four crew per gun, and shells, shell cases, and ammunition boxes. What makes the box marvellous for the 20mm gamer is that it also includes a choice of gun barrels, so that one can field Pak 38s and/or the Pak 97/38. The latter was a combination of the French 75, with a new muzzle brake, mounted on the standard Pak 38 carriage. That is a very good thing from my point of view, as I possess a toy barracks full of Lufwaffe Field Division types (see here in a tabletop encounter). As with the real thing, my LwFD chaps are rather under-resourced, but now, happily, they will be able to field the 97/38s:

Aaaah, that's better than a mortar or two...

I have no idea how effective this hybrid was, but the French 75 was, I think, the basic design that the Americans used for their tank 75s, so perhaps it was a reasonable bit of kit. Anyway, that's all the LwFD fellows have got.

In keeping with the make do and mend theme, I decided to finish the 'Bathtub' as a later war second line vehicle that my LwFD have liberated from the police and pressed into service, perhaps as an artillery spotter's vehicle:

A very nice little kit, but small and fragile, hence the base.