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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 24 February 2013


At last, 'the Bat' begins to take shape. The 'Supermodel' kit is an old one, around 40 years old, but appears to me to be a basically sound kit. Nonetheless, 'things ain't wot they used to be' (a tune supposedly played by the last military band as the British Army left Aden not long before the kit was made), so I have to make some concessions to modernity:

There are a goodly number of openings in the fuselage that will reveal the innards of the bat, so the photograph above shows the beginnings of my rudimentary attempts to make the inside a bit busier. The SM81 had a dual role from the outset as both bomber and transport, so, happily, I didn't have to attempt a representation of the bomb bay, with its unusual vertical cages for the bombs.

The next issue was the dreaded question of the raised panel lines:

What a scary photograph - raised panel lines on the wings and my scriber. With my poor eyesight, palsied hands, and general mal-coordination, I was in two minds about removing the raised panel lines and cutting recessed ones instead. But I did. And it worked! Happily, only the wings (of wood) had panel lines on the real SM81, the fuselage being fabric covered tubing, as were the control surfaces.

I have bits and pieces, here and there, about the Pipistrello, but this other oldie:

is a great source. The SM81 was outdated by the time Italy, stupidly, entered the war, but when it first flew in 1934, it was well up among the European leaders. Compared, for example, with the Bristol Bombay, which first flew in June 1935, and had a similar transport/bomber role, the SM81 was faster, better armed, and had a greater range. And although both types saw active service in the war, the Pipstrello managed to contribute up until 1944.

Thinking about last tunes, I read not so long ago that the playing of 'The World Turned Upside Down' by the last British Army band out of the newly emerged USA looks, sadly, to be yet another myth. Oh well.

Saturday 9 February 2013


... the most irritating kit that I have ever bashed. I'm glad Azur's Breguet 27 was a short run, limited edition affair, because that means the potential for kit basher suffering is reduced. I'm not going to run through the difficulties, this photo gives the general idea:

Anyway, the thing is done now, and looks like this:

Care must be taken not to breathe when near it, in case it collapses.

Just look at the wonderful streamlining of the canopies - amazing, taken straight from the front of a tram.

Friday 8 February 2013


No, Fuzzies!

While searching through masses of bits of paper, rule sets, and magazines for a internet download that I'd printed off some years ago about the Savoia Marchetti SM 81, which is my next aircraft project, I came across the rule set 'Hordes of Dervishes'. Being much taken at the moment with the practical nature of this type of small scale gaming, I got out some of my 20mm Sudan chaps and put together a HoD army of 24 Army Points:

Fine men! I'll break out the Dervishes and Fuzzies, and have a crack at HoD soon.

In the garden, the wet, sodden soil has begun to show signs of life, with bulbs pushing through everywhere, while this primrose heralds Spring:

And the Hellebore pretends that it is a prop in a late Victorian neo-Gothic drama:

Wednesday 6 February 2013


... Patriots, Loyalists, Militiamen, Invaders of Canada, Defenders of Canada, Native Americans, Mexicans, Johnny Reb and Yankees... I have rhapsodised before about the heart-lifting role of the postal worker, especially when he/she delivers a much awaited book, and today the postman delivered a marvel. Most readers of this blog will immediately recognise the artist responsible for this Patriot:

Yes, Don Troiani. Although he has a slight tendency to render some of his Americans from the past in perhaps too clean-cut, college football style, this Minuteman is a bit more life worn. Excellent stuff! And, what's more, the book:

carries fascinating, detailed text by Messrs. Coates and Kochan (they sound like two names from the Revolutionary period), and photographs of a surprising number of surviving artefacts, including clothing as well as sharp, pointy things.

Aaah, bliss. And here are some of my 28mm American Loyalists to finish off the post:

God Save the King!

Tuesday 5 February 2013


... of the gods. There is no doubt that the Portable concept has a lot going for it. As Morschauser noted so long ago, it is a wargaming idea suited to those without wargames rooms, limited time, and limited budgets. As the Portable concept has developed recently, it is also apparent that it is ideal for those of us without access to opposition, or, in my case, socio-paths who don't want any opposition in the form of human beings!

So, onto the Basque action (er, that's not quite right...):

The Basque/Republican defenders were tasked with holding the hill line on the right. The river was impassible    except at the bridge, which was protected by a bunker and HMG.

The Spanish Nationalists were to assault in two waves; here the first wave partly emerges from the woods on the left of the table. Their object was to pin enemy forces attempting to move from the town to the bridge, and to provide the first assault on the bunker and bridge.

First blood to the Reds! These Carlists fell to tank fire from across the river as they were attempting to move against the bunker and bridge.

The Nationalist artillery was pretty poor for most of the time, dropping shells repeatedly around the bunker.

On turn 4 the Nationalist second wave began to arrive on the board, spearheaded by two CV33 units.
Er ... only for one of them to be knocked out by Basques/Republicans assaulting across the bridge. But that put this unit in real danger, with Nationalist artillery, armour and infantry quickly putting paid to them.

The Nationalists followed this up by a successful close assault on the bunker.

An attempt by the Basque/Republican armour to throw the Nationalists back ended when their artillery found the range for once.

Things appeared to be looking up for the Nationalists, when a little god arrived, and made of these little fellows his playthings:

Monday 4 February 2013


... again. I just couldn't face the horror of tackling the upper wing, minimal struts and resin support tasks that await me with the next stage of the Breguet. So, I broke out the Portable Wargame (TM., Morschauser/Cordery/RossMac) again, but this time not in the usual Russian Civil War guise, but in 15mm:

A scenario taken from Mark Hannam's Rompan el Fuego! representing 'The Vizcaya Offensive', 31 March 1937 - a case of Roman Catholics vs Roman Catholics, as this was part of the Nationalist offensive into the Basque Country.

In the (nominally) Red corner:

(I should have made a Basque flag!)

Asaltos, and:

Republicans representing the Guardis militiamen.

In the Blue corner:

Carlists, with artillery support, and:

Mixed Italian CTV and Blueshirts.

At this point, there was no air support from the Condor Legion, due to bad weather - so that solves that Portable problem.


(That will be Christ the King who put away Peter's sword...)

Saturday 2 February 2013


... of sorts. Funny, the old Bolshevik foreign language press in Soviet days was 'Progress Publishing', which, of course, did not represent any sort of progress, except, ironically, into the dustbin of history. I haven't succumbed to binning my Breguet 27 (yet), but progress is slow. I have to be in a good mood to tackle each stage, especially as additional bits and pieces are needed For example:

This is the rear fuselage (boom) and vertical tail assembly. As this Azur kit is a short run affair, there was no locating pin, or any other form of support for this to join the main fuselage, which, I suppose, is a bit like a gondola. So, as you can see, I speared the thing with a bit of brass rod, which then fixed into the 'gondola'. I can't understand why the central boom, which looks as if it ran longitudinally throughout the real thing, wasn't a single, injection moulded piece. Anyway, my fix worked, so I'm now this far in:

The rear m/g position (the weapon looks like an aircraft Lewis) is made up of four very delicate bits of resin. The Scarfe type ring was moulded on a big chunk of resin and took some cutting off.

Next stage will be grey primer, then an overall 'khaki' (helpful kit notes!) finish. But just what does that mean? I've spent some time scanning the internet, but finished examples of this kit, and colour plates of similar French stuff from the 1930s seem to be finished in a wide variety of 'khakis' - some very green, and some very brown. So, I narrowed it down to:


Any suggestions very welcome!

On a less stressed note, my grandson's figure collection keeps growing. It was his 4th birthday this week, so he picked up a very large scale Spiderman, but also this:

This mounted fellow will go well with his crossbowman, who also sports a fleur de lis shield. My grandson likes both the look and sound of this symbol of French royalty (and the Scout movement!), showing that he is a good little European. However, I am sure that he will have no truck with the fundamentally anti-democratic super bureaucracy, and apparatchik-heaven that is the EU. If, and, of course it is a massive IF, the UK does have a referendum on the UK and the EU, then be sure that the one argument that the EU elite will not be deploying is that the EU is democratic. Because it is not. 

Now that the end is, sort of, in sight for my Breguet 27 adventure, I feel in need of bashing a kit that is made out of slabs of injection moulded plastic. So, I dug this up:

Early 1970s, raised panel lines, little fine detail, weighs a ton ... but no resin, no tiny bits and pieces, no need for brass rod.