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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.'

Thursday, 31 December 2015

PEACE and HEALTH... 2016 to you all!
Contrary to all the rules of good blogging, I have neglected my duties here, and posted little. I had, indeed, thought to let these pages wither on their electronic vine.  But, perhaps not. What is started must be finished.  That, in kit bashing terms has been increasingly not the case. Old age? Too much in the way of the diurnals? Jaded?  Probably all three. However, with the onset of the Christmas and New Year holidays, I determined to kit bash something in the 'classic plastic' line. Inspired by an article by Jonathan Burns in Classic British Bombers, edited by Gary Hatcher (by far the best plastic aircraft modelling magazine editor), and armed with:
a 48 year old copy of Profile's The Handley Page Heyford, I set to on a 35 year old Matchbox 1/72 of the same.  Jonathan Burns' article was very useful, in particular his hard-won advice about getting the engine nacelles absolutely smooth on the top, to ensure proper wing mating. I didn't take photos of the Heyford as a work in progress, but here's a few (poor) shots of it on the shelf:

Marvellous beast. Pilot sat 17 feet up in the air, fuselage mated to top wing, giving excellent upper hemisphere vision, main bomb load carried in thickened centre-section of lower wing. That lower wing, and other devices, meant that the Heyford could be refueled and re-armed within 30 minutes - hence the manufacturer's monika - 'the Express Bomber'.

Not that it was 'express' in any other meaning of the word, with a top speed of 134 mph. Mind you, it was a dedicated night bomber, but, still, for a 1936 bit of kit, somewhat slow. Had the Munich Agreement not happened, it would have been the RAF's main weapon in any bombing of Germany.

Withdrawn from frontline service days before the UK declared war on Germany, it was replaced by the Whitley - which, very happily, has recently been released by Airfix...  can feel a 2016 kit bashing theme growing.
In other news, my son, who for so many years has been a denizen of the DARK SIDE of wargaming (i.e., the weirdness that is Warhammer and 40K), has, I hope and pray, seen the light. He has now started a new Old School project, which can be viewed here at The Molgravian Gazette. Please visit, and encourage him - it will make an old man very happy...

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Brnad falls!!

It's some time since we heard of fighting between those two old enemies, Maltovia and Lovitznia, but word has reached us this day of the apparent fall of Brnad. 

When last we heard from that old frontier town, the failure of the so-called 'Liberal' government to see to the proper defence of land and people, had led the Maltovian National League to organise a militia (see our last report here). Despite the continuing threat of the warlike, and expansionist Lovitznians, little more has been done by the corrupt, defeatist 'Liberal' government. And now this:

Above we see the poorly garrisoned walls of Brnad, with merely half a regiment on the walls, and the MNL mustering at bottom left.  In the far distance can be seen the regiments of Lovitznia, and, beyong, the two fiendish generals (said to be father and son), lowering over the scene.

The above photograph shows the Lovitznians in their dash to the walls, shaking off limited casualties from ineffective artillery fire, and facing the very limited firepower of the MNL. It was rumoured that a reserve regiment of the Maltovian Army was on its way, but bad going (and appalling dice luck) meant that the regiment in question:

arrived too late (above) to prevent this awful event:

the entry of those brown-tunic'd devils of Lovitznia into Brnad.

The situation, as we go to press, is shown above.
This means war!  And authorities on the subject suspect that the days of the 'Liberal' goverment are numbered!!
(Rules: Ross Mac's 'A Rattle of Dice')

Monday, 5 October 2015


Many moons ago, I left the blog, saying I was about to snip sprue on a late mark 1/72 Messerschmitt for my sort-of collection of Italian Social Republic aircraft. Time and tide went. I toiled in my place of employment. I spoke at an academic conference. I lifted potatoes. I took trains the length and breadth of England (for work). I was ill. All the things that eat up 'the days', as in 'what are days for?' (I've been on a Philip Larkin trip of late).  Finally, finally, I turned my attention to the Airfix Bf109 G-6. Not a bad little kit, but:

As is apparent from the fuselage parts, at some point this moulding has been marketed as a 'no glue', 'snap together' kit. The problem with that is that, excepting a seat with a hole (for the pilot to snap into), there is no detail whatsoever for the cockpit. Blast. Well, I made up a few spurious bits and pieces, added a harness to the seat, and cut a crude plasticard instrument panel. The latter looked horribly basic, but then...

A note in one of the scale aircraft magazines directed me to Yahu! Excellent Polish chaps who produce very nice, and very cheap 1/72 instrument panels - see above (that's a 2cm square on my cutting mat). Highly recommended, especially as the UK supplier, Story Models,  seems tip-top - I ordered last Friday afternoon, and had a lot of little instrument panels today, Monday.
I was recently in Budapest, for work reasons, but had the opportunity to have a look around. For a child of the Cold War, Budapest, of course, resonates. The centre of the city, both sides of the Danube, has, naturally, been much upgraded since the end of Bolshevism in Europe. Nonetheless, even the rather magnificent frontage of Cornivus University bore subdued traces of both the terrible siege of 1944/45, and the 1956 Uprising. But good workmanship, and neat paintmanship, meant that one had to look carefully.  But that wasn't always the case, and I came across this building that bore more obvious traces of the city's torment:

More pleasingly, there was this sign (from the 1930s ?) over the entrance to a quiet, refined, and, for the non-Hungarian speaker, vaguely puzzling bookshop:

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Civvie Hell Part II...

There was a good deal of filling and sanding required, and perhaps it that was all the greenstuff dust that addled my brain. Or perhaps I'm just addled. Anyway, I super-glued the wings together, using super-glue with hopes of avoiding too much filler for the wings. Actually, that part of the plan worked quite well, and I was able to sand the leading edges nicely, using the squeezed out super-glue as filler. All very nice. Only when it was all done did I realise that I had failed to add inserts into the wings that would act as the locating positions for the undercarriages. What the actual fork?! At this point I nearly opted for seppuku, or something similiar but not quite so eye-watering. In the end, I broke the wings open...

The rest of the build went reasonably well, but with the thing more or less complete, I wasn't looking forward to the decals. With good reason:

One of the things that the masters in the scale aviation press endlessly foam about is modern decals - 'lovely and thin' blah, blah. Yes, lovely and thin. Just ripe for folding on themselves!! I knew, of course, that there was no way to get the very long decals on in one piece, so I cut them into smaller sections. But, it wasn't enough, as the key pieces curled in the water on both axes.
The only solution was scrape the mess off when dry, and use a sharp marker pen.
Still, in the end, it looks ok:

But, enough of the shiny finished civvie stuff.
Next up, late mark Messerschmitt madness:

But, which one. Oddly, only one is short-run....

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Civilian hell...

... or review build: Roden, Carvair ATL98, 1/144.

I understand that Hollywood stars refer to the non-actor world as 'the civilians'. I refer to the 'stars' as degenerates who are part and parcel of the decline of the West. But that's neither here nor there, as here is...

civilian model hell.

I've had a short run of 1/144 kit bashing recently - Tupelov 'Badgers', Vickers Valiant - so I thought that I would go for an interesting civilian 1/144 in the shape of the Carvair. This was a British conversion of the Douglas DC-4, turning that passenger aircraft into a car and passenger carrier for the days when one might think of taking the Rover, Jag, or Austin Cambridge, over to the Continong (Europe, that is) by air. It was the bright idea of Sir Freddie Laker, a rather famous, and innovative figure in British post-war aviation, whose efforts to bring cheap air travel to the masses were crushed by the dead hand of state-sponsored airlines.  So, what do Roden give us in 1/144:

A rather nice bit of box art, very atmospheric, top banana.

In addition to the wings and fuselage, three sprues of softish, grey plastic. These make up into:

Touch where it fits hell!  Yes, I forgot to mention that despite my repeated assertions to the contrary, I've been messing around with a short-run kit again! O me miserum. 

Just look at those gaping trenches in the fuselage halves and the wing roots.
But, things got worse....
To be continued...

Thursday, 16 July 2015


.... distracted.

Some lucky fellows press on, come what may, with one wargaming project. Onwards! Forwards!
 Al Front! and such. However, it seems to me that the 'oooh shiny' syndrome is more common than the highly focused syndrome among the wargaming, toy soldier, and kit basher fraternity. And it doesn't even have to be shiny. No sooner had my wargamery mind returned, again, to the Western Desert, than I came across this little, 53 page booklet from 1999:

Of course, thanks to the Osprey, Axis Forces in Yugoslavia 1941-5 (1995), I was aware of the 'Russian Defence Corps' or the 'Russian Protection Corps' (both titles being used in a short entry in the Osprey). However, this little booklet provides a good deal more detail, and explains just how a force that was largely made up of men in their 50s and early 60s actually managed to fight in the utterly awful war that Yugoslavia descended into after the German invasion. In fact, the Russian Guard Corps appears to have been, by a good way, the least appalling of all the forces in that unhappy country. In small soldier land, the appeal is the brown uniforms (of varying cuts - Imperial Russian, Serb, German), the Czech helmets, a cavalry unit, and, as you can see from the cover above, a handful of Renault R35s.   But, how, how can a 20mm force be put together? Which manufacturers produce figures with Czech helmets, and, surprisingly, I can't appear to track down R35s in 20mm with the German split hatch and the long gun.  Mind you, if I wait a bit I'll see something...ooooh SHINY!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Tanks (model)...

... garden...aircraft models...

I've loved gardens since I was at least six years old, and used to have a small corner of my father's garden, behind a slowly collapsing shed, where my favourite plants were London Pride and forget-me-not. I've enjoyed kit bashing aircraft since I was seven or eight, when my father took me to the local Woolworth's and bought me the old Airfix Hurricane IV. The model tanks followed a bit later, with a Tiger tank from a school mate (which still exists, somewhere). So, plus ca change...

The Vickers Light is coming along. Is it just me, or did Humbrol matt enamel dry more quickly in the past? It definitely needs 24hrs to dry now, yet matt used to be ok in six hours - or am I imagining that?

The above photo was taken on Saturday morning, when I was sitting outside in my back garden, having one of my 'do this in remembrance of me' moments, but not for Christ (although the quotation makes one think of Him), but for my father and grandfather. I've returned to my pipe occasionally in recent weeks, so I was puffing away in the sunshine, sitting in one of my late father's garden chairs, remembering, and watching a bee carefully ascending then descending the hosta flowers. Both hostas and geraniums remind me of my grandfather, born 135 years ago.

And model aeroplanes. The next one could well be the much applauded:

Or, one that I've had in the stash for over a decade....

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Nut shells...

... small things...and nuts...of different types.

I'm currently in a nautical mood - a result of reading an obituary in The Daily Telegraph.It is of one of those lives that stand out because of its sheer exuberant decency. As you'll see if you follow the link, it was of a woman called Rozelle Raynes, whose abiding passion was small boats and the sea. So, having read the obit, I ordered a copy of her account of a three month coastal journey from Dover to Bergen (some 1,500 miles) in her 25' sailing boat, Martha McGilda, in the early 1960s.  It's entitled North in a Nutshell, and it's a marvellous tale, charming, funny, pleasant, and full of daring. I don't own a boat myself, although I once owned a home-made canoe, but I sometimes dream of a small, gentleman's cabin cruiser that I might pilot around estuaries and coastal waters. Until then, the Hobbit Bunker is flying this old style (pre-1704) naval ensign:

My own adventures are firmly land bound. I live as far from the sea as you can in England (the waves are around 75 miles away), and summer is really focused on growing food, rather than catching it from the sea. Here's my allotment plot at 8.30pm yesterday:

Broad beans, sweet corn, parsnips, carrots, potatoes (of two varieties), dwarf French beans, climbing French beans, turnips, swedes, and brambles are all in this photograph, mostly small, but growing.
For Father's Day, my son and grandson bought me this:

I think it was originally the work of another company, but is now boxed by Airfix. It is a very sharp, easy to build little kit, and apart from a bit of filler in sink marks around the coupla, went together easily:

But it is small! As my grandson said on seeing it built, 'It's so tiny! Did it come out of that box?'
It is tiny in 1/76, just look at it here next to an Indian Pattern carrier:

Like the carrier, the Vickers Light is headed for wargame North Africa, as I am a long time devotee of John Sanders' classic Airfix Magazine series from the 1970s. Who can forget his 1/32 (?) Light tank made of cardboard with shirt buttons for wheels!

Here in the UK, yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the 7th July bombings, when four "British" rag head jihadi suicide murderers with links to the now superseded al-Qaeda, slaughtered 52 people in London. As we are coming to expect in these times, there was a national minute's silence, the value of which I'm not sure about. However, the tenth anniversary brought back the then Labour Prime Minister (and war monger in chief) Tony Blair's insistence that the killings had 'nothing to do with UK foreign policy'. Oddly, in their farewell videos, the raghead nuts made it quite clear that, as far as they were concernd, it had a lot to do with UK foreign policy. These days, our Prime Minister and his followers keep on insisting that such terrorism (most recently the ISIL-linked, racist and religious killings in Tunisia) have 'nothing to do with Islam'. Blair was wrong ten years ago, Cameron is wrong now.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Long time...

... no blog. Bad.

What goes on ? What do I do with all my time (the little that's left, furthermore)? I go to work, I do family stuff (being a much reduced paterfamilias), tend my allotment plot, do bits in the little garden, read books, stare into space, drink coffee, beat myself up because I don't write stuff, or go walking in the mountains, or... fail to write this blog.  But, I have done a few wargamey/kit basher/toy soldierly things since I last posted.

First off, the rotten Yankee invaders of 1812. Now I have a unit of militia finished:

Here they come, creeping through the forest..

arguing amongst themselves about the precise constitutional position their officer is in when it comes to orders...

The good thing is that I now have US Regulars, militia, and artillery, all ready for the invasion. On the British-Canadian side, I've only the Royal Artillery to finish.
On the aero-kit-bashing front, I managed, with much blood, sweat and tears, to get this kit of the Vickers Valiant finished:

It's from 'Micro-Mir' in 1/144, and it was a bit of a swine to make. A short-run kit, it fitted where it touched, and my experience with the brass photo-etch has finally decided me against photo-etch. It's just too 'flat', too finicky, too bl**dy difficult to glue. There were, for example, 18 tiny (around 1.5mm in length) bits of etch for the vortex generators on the wings. After one long session, I got all 18 fixed, but they were only barely in place, and, of course, the slightest handling led to breakage. So I cut them all off, and was later pleased to find a photo of a Valiant in Australia without the wing vortex generators!

Nonetheless, it's a pretty impressive kit in 1/144, and now sits nicely next to my 1/144 Badgers on the shelf.
Meanwhile, in garden-land, all is beauty and peace:

While my 'study' is all unfinished projects....

Sunday, 24 May 2015

More Yankees...

... part the third.

Whitsun roses are coming out (Arthur Ward, climbers, absolute perfection), and I've been digging and planting on the allotment plot. It's difficult to convey the satisfaction of digging out my runner bean trench, adding horse manure, and rebuilding the trench, but, I can assure one and all, that it is satisfying.

That was a long-winded way of saying that the 1812 in 20mm plastics project is progressing even more slowly. Nonetheless, the US artillery contingent is now ready:

A rather interesting blog, Les Uniformes de la Guerre de 1812, informed me that the Yankee invaders painted their guns in pale blue, so that's how I painted them. There are another two guns and crew who will become the Royal Artillery, with guns in grey.

Rather nice figures these. I especially like the chap lugging the bucket, lots of movement in just 20mm.

At the moment, the Americans are being stored in a tin box I brought back from a recent, brief, trip to Amsterdam:

I am partial to illustrated tin boxes (sadly, I realise that I probably have a sort-of collection of these too!). Traditionally, in man-caves (aka sheds and garages) up and down the lengthy of Blighty, tin boxes were used to store old nails, nuts, bolts, and screws. My father had plenty in his day, and could often be found straightening out bent nails from his tins, usually old cocoa tins. But as to my tin, well, I was very pleasantly surprised by Amsterdam, which is an elegant city, and I will, I hope, return.
Continuing on a Napoleonic theme, the newspapers here are picking up on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. The French, well, the French government, aren't really taking it in the right spirit, having complained to the Belgians about one of their Euro coins which is to depict the lion mound (or whatever it is called) on the obverse, and have refused to send a suitable official to the commemorations, citing 'busyness' as an excuse. However, there are plenty of sporting Frenchies who will be there, with re-enactors from across Europe. Yesterday's Daily Telegraph had a rather good photo essay showing some of the re-enactors who will be there:

If you can get a copy (perhaps it's on the Telegraph's web page), it's worth having. The photographs are by a fellow called Sam Faulkner, and jolly good they are too.

I did a bit of re-enacting myself a few years ago. Actually, it was more 'living history' as the little group I was in didn't do 'battles', we were far, far too small for that, and, anyway, it would have required an opposition, which, in the group's case would have been Carlists, Falangists, Spanish Army regulars, Moors, or Legionaires from the Spanish Civil War - all of which would have been way beyond the pale for most of the group. Funnily enough, my 're-enacting' of a Commissar wasn't. Odd. But it was fun, puffing my pipe, tapping away on an old typewriter, and putting names of Trotsky-fascists in my little book. The Telegraph article made me, briefly, think about trying it all again, perhaps as a Loyalist in the American Revolution, or a middle-aged volunteer for some auxiliary unit in the IIWW. But, then again, there is the satisfaction of digging out my runner bean trench and adding manure.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The Yanks are coming...

.... x 2; Part the Second...

I haven't forgotten about the slow, oh, so slow, rejuvenation of my War of 1812 in 20mm plastics project. With enough British and Canadians for a small clash or two, I've turned my attention to the invader:

Poor photographs, but you can get the general idea - a decent US firing line.

Plenty of the little fellows, regulars to a man, probably enough for two regiments, depending on rules.

There are more to come for the firing line, but, next up will be:

What looks like a very useful set from those kind Ukranian types, Strelets. Of course, they could also be used for Canadian militia, for which I have already painted up useful poses (with 'round hats') from the Spanish irregulars range.

Actually, thinking about it, the US militia aren't x 2, but x 3, as I've artillery already on the go.

More soon, I hope. And then to the table top!!