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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.'

Friday, 30 August 2013


... past and present.

Present projects - MC200 and the 42s - have been delayed this past week by filial duties and work. I also need some more rattlecan grey primer for the Macchi. But, today, while burrowing through the debris in my shed, I came across reminders of past projects:

Nord Noratlas in the unusual scale of 1/170. I wonder if any other aircraft kits were produced in that scale ? This is one that I will build soon - difficult to see one of these without imagining 1 REP pouring out of the thing. Though, thinking about it, the Algerian War (and the associated total ethnic cleansing of French Algerians) was probably over before the French started using them for paratroop drops. Mind you, the Portuguese did, in their African wars.  

And this:

I have no memory of why I might have bought this. It's a waterline model, so perhaps it had been destined, at one point, to become the basis of a Confederate blockade runner, or South American warship, or ... I don't know.


I bought two of these (99 pence!)  and made one up, just because it looks good, and just 'speaks' of a particular era. Who knows, maybe this will one day end up on a railway lay out.


Part of my long time interest in Italian aircraft. The G55 as a torpedo bomber was a one-off prototype, and never replaced the SM79 which the RSI's air force continued to use as its only torpedo attack aircraft until the end. This one will probably have to wait a little longer for glue and paint.


my mother bought this for me in 1965 - Dinkey's version of the very latest in British aircraft design (and the penultimate British only single seater?). I can very clearly remember being offered two of these by my mother, and I can also remember thinking that two would be greedy and it was wrong to be greedy. So I only have one. I was only five, and I did go to church.

Thursday, 22 August 2013


... of the Old Brigade.

It's been a slow week here at Hobbit Hovel, but, at last, my garrison regiment is ready. Old boys, the halt and the lame, but doing vital, if unglamorous guard duties - barracks, towns, water supplies, rail lines, depots, harbours and rivers. Here we see old Major Vlasov doing the rounds with a patrol:

While, earlier a company of the old lags had turned out for rifle inspection:

It won't be long now, and I'll have enough 42s together for a border skirmish...

Although it is warm tonight here in West Mercia, one can sense that the year has begun to turn. But there is plenty to be harvested, and, in the garden, this late flowering variety of clematis - 'Princess Kate':

Saturday, 17 August 2013


... not as in Irish, but as in clothes pegs and Lego:

Fuselage closed up, but under some tension and I suspect that once I've rubbed down the seams I'll have to do some filling. More work done on the tailplanes, to the degree that I'm reasonably happy with them and think that once they're painted they should pass muster (from a distance, without my specs). Wings mated and jigged (er, that doesn't sound quite right).

I've also been turning up more Italian aircraft information, the photo below shows the edge of another Osprey title with a nice colour profile of a Macchi MC200 of the same series (the cockpit covers are the key) at the same time:

Hopefully, my little plastic version will capture some of the 'look' when it's complete.

On the 42s front, paint has begun to be splashed, and my enthusiasm for Irregular's little fellows has been rewarded by the good men of York on their website. Aaaah, toy soldier fame.

Friday, 16 August 2013


... bright idea was this? I'm supposed to be a kit basher, and here I am trying to squeeze tiny little bits of plastic into tiny cockpits:

Still a little bit to be added to the harness, and then it looks, from a dry run, that I'll have to shave the cockpit floor to get the fuselage to close.

Now for the daft bit - the new horizontal tail:

I spent a good hour and a half creating the new bits on the right, and they still need work. But look at the difference in size with the kit parts. Of course, that size difference will mean some more messing around when I come to add the new tail to the fuselage. I'm not sure at all about this, maybe it is a step too far and I should just use the kit bits - the jury is currently out.

All that sanding of bits of plastic meant that I haven't had time to start splashing paint on my new garrison regiment for the 42s project. I've been thinking about uniforms for the new chaps. The casts actually look quite smart as they are meant to be Greek regulars, but, of course, a garrison/invalids/old men unit would, I suppose, look more like: 

The above fellows are a Serbian third line infantry company in 1914 (so, a bit later than my imagi-war). The photo is from the Osprey, Armies in the Balkans, 1914-18, by Nigel Thomas, Dusan Babac and Darko Pavlovic (Oxford, 2001). What is striking about these Serbs is how old they look, poor fellows, but they also look pretty shoddy in the obsolete M1896 dark blue uniform. However, I think my 42s will have to be in dark blue too, or, perhaps dark blue and grey? I don't know. We'll see which paint pot comes out first.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013


... not as in the music genre best enjoyed by the hard of hearing (of which I am one). Mind you, as a callow, nihilistic, Camus-infected teenager, I did rather like the track 'Bomber' by the heavy metal band, Saxon. But I digress. I put my current plastic on one side this evening after giving the innards of the Macchi a coat of Humbrol matt light green, and turned to some basic work on the new Irregular 42s arrivals:

These fellows will form a garrison regiment (of old men and, perhaps, invalids) for my current 42 project. I'll give them a quick spray of white undercoat before work in the morning, and then I can alternate between plastic Macchi and metal for a while.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


... madness is this hobby we call kit bashing?

Beginnings of some basics to make the office look a bit busier:

But, horrors, look at the horizontal tail planes superimposed on 1/72 scale drawings:

Why ? Why? ! The vertical tail is spot on, so why, why this? I might have to scratch build...

Monday, 12 August 2013


... or recon, depending on where you are.

Box open, plastic bag open, transparency back into bag, bag and decals back into box.

So, what have I got?

Classic plastic (1970s?), raised panel lines, no interior detail whatsoever apart from a crude seat. Mmmm, what does the old Profile say:

Port cockpit detail, and


Right ho, I'll have to add at least a few bits and pieces. But not just now - too many glasses of Oz's finest Merlot to trust myself...

Sunday, 11 August 2013

MC 200...

... no, not the moniker of some dreadful drugged egotist of the nightclub 'scene', but:

A holiday purchase, and as I have to wait for the next batch of 42s from Irregular, there is time to start this absolutely classic Italian aircraft. Dating back to 1935, and first flying in December 1937, the Macchi MC.200 was the better contemporary of the French Morane Saulnier 406, the American P36, known to us Europeans as the Hawk 75A, and the equal of the Hurricane I. Unfortunately for the Italian Regia Aeronautica, the Italian aircraft industry just wasn't organised to mass produce, and the total number of MC.200s built (just over 1,000) was feeble when contrasted with the stunning production of the UK aircraft industry, which, by contrast, was able to send 3,000 Hurricanes to the Soviets (some of these being built by Canada). Worse, although the MC.200 had plenty of development potential (cf. the single MC.201 prototype, and the very successful MC.202 and 205), the later developments took so long to reach the frontline units that the MC.200 was still fighting come the September 1943 Armistice.  But, enough of all that, back to the model. The current Revell incarnation includes decals for a single Italian version, from 374a Squadriglia, 153 Gruppo Autonomo, Italy, April 1941. As any Italian aircraft geek knows, Italian aircraft were finished in a bewildering array of spots, dots, smoke rings, and block colours. So, it was off to my references. First stop:

Good old Profile (c.1966, 2/-). Excellent close up detail of the Macchi, but none of the colour profiles featured an aircraft of 374a. However, I also possess the indispensable second edition of Chris Dunning's Courage Alone; The Italian Air Force, 1940-1943 (Crecy Publishing, Manchester, 2009). Dunning's book features unit histories of almost all the RA's squadrons, but not 374a ! Aaaargh. However, there is material on the famous Asso di Bastoni, 153 Gruppo, and two profiles:

So, it looks as if I'll have to go with the Revell option, and dream of all the other finishes, such as these in Profile no:64:

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Eastern skies...

... not as in some terrible central European sense, or even as in 'There's an east wind coming, Watson', but as in Alf's holiday. Alf, Mrs Alf, and grandson Alf are not long back from a week of warm sea, open sands, big skies, beer, bookshops and churches, all under the eastern skies of the north folk in, of course, Norfolk, East Anglia, England. One of the great things about having a four year old ('I'll soon be five') boy with you on holiday is that he has to be in bed reasonably early, which gives some time for holiday toy soldier painting:

Rgt Nr 2, 'The Fur Hats', of the current late 19th Century/early 20th Century imagi-war. Nicely rendered, but the rifles are a tad delicate, so it will be interesting to see how long it takes before it becomes a regiment of sawn-offs.

And (below), what may be Regt Nr 1 of the oppo, and my favourite 42s from Irregular so far:

They are intended to be Serbs, but as this is an imagi-war project, they have no fixed identity - wait a minute...that sounds like something from the future, not the past...

Anyway, fine figures, well cast, bags of style, and resolute under fire, as you can see below:

But I did more than simply splash paint and varnish around. We had lots of time on the sand (complete with much admired pirate flag on a bean pole), much swimming and splashing in the sea, playing all sorts of games, and visiting places dear to the heart. This house:

is, in fact, a pub in Burnham Thorpe. So you will realise its importance - it is the very pub where Lord Nelson drank his English ale, though slightly enlarged since his time. Oh bliss, oh joy, to drink ale where our English hero, the Norfolk Hero, drank ale.


The church, Burnham Thorpe All Saints, where Nelson's father was vicar, and where Nelson worshipped as a Christian.  As far as Norfolk churches go, All Saints is a young 'un, dating only to the 13th Century (it replaced a previous parish church, St. Peter's), but it has some nice features - particularly the east chancel wall of a chequered pattern in  black and white flints. Inside, there is, of course:

 some notice of Nelson, with White Ensigns hanging, and busts and memorials to the Nelson family. It was here that Nelson had wished to be buried, but he was, alas, taken to St Paul's, London.  The church has few other glories, but my wife (a medievalist by education ) was looking forward to seeing the brass of Sir William Calthorpe (d.1420), a Lancastrian knight who lies there under a fine, seven foot long stone - but it is so fine that it is covered, and we will have to wait to see it another day.

In the church yard is this memorial:

Frank Futter
Edward Futter
Walter Futter
William Johnson
William Mason
Edward Ward
Frederick Barnes


Friday, 2 August 2013


.... still arriving, freshly minted, at the depot:

While the previous draft begins to take toy soldierly shape:

And there is beer to be drunk:

New journals to be perused:

And new books about the not so long ago past to be read:

Yes, Alf R. Ont has a small holiday.