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Got myself a Hex Mat

To play Bag the Hun (as well as a number of other air wargames) a hexagon mat is required, I do not have one so I decided to buy one. Yes, I hear you saying “…there are ways around it, and why don’t you make one yourself!”. However occasionally, and contrary to popular belief, I do go with that famous flow and just get something off the shelf. I looked around but could not really find anything suitable. I could not really see the cliffs of Dover representing the Karelian Isthmus, neither would Kentish countryside do nor the desert or anything else that I found for that matter. I suppose that some of the Eastern Front battles would have been fought over some forested areas that could pass for what I needed, but none of these seem to be readily available.

What I really was after was an image showing two things – forested areas and lakes. I went on Google Earth Professional (that you can download for free) and realised, probably as the last person on the (Google) Earth, that you can get rid of all the overlays and plainly look at the picture and capture images at relatively high resolution.

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Maximum resolution is 4800 by 3288 which proved more than adequate for my purposes.  I found a piece of southern Finland I liked and saved the picture. I then resized it to a 3 by 5 ratio (as I wanted to get a mat I could throw on the dinner table) and sent it to Tiny Wargames (link here) and asked (i) if the image was good enough to print on one of their 3 by 5 mats, (ii) if he could add a 30mm hexagon pattern on top and (iii)how much it would take me back – the answer was (i) no problem, (ii) of course and (iii) £50 (that inclusive of delivery within the UK). Further he said it would take them 4 days to do it.  Incidentally the cost is the same as it would cost to buy a mat with the same dimension of any of their existing mat designs – I suppose if you can provide a picture with sufficient resolution they will print a mat for you.

I also note that they can do more bespoke mats as well, like taking an old air photo from say D-day and make it into a stylised and coloured mat. However I do not know the cost of doing this as I suppose it would take some time to do – but if you are interested drop them a line.

A small note you need to specify how you want your hexagons printed on the mat – I sent a screen shoot from a Bag the Hun scenario map and told him my hexes should be aligned in the same way as those on the map. Very often the hexagon size is about 1½ inch, but since I went with a small mat (3 by 5) I also condense the hex from 38.1mm (1½ inch) to 30mm. The reason for the smaller mat is that I can quickly put the mat on the dining table and fly, with minimal fuss.

This is the map I sent them.

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And this is what turned up.

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Really happy in the way it came out (note the colour difference is due to the lighting when I took the picture of the mat on the table), I ordered it on a Monday afternoon and it arrived safe and sound on the following Monday.  More than pleased and this is how it looks with some Russian and Finnish aircraft flying on it.

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On reflection I should perhaps had taken a lower altitude picture, but I do like it and gives the feel of forests and lakes I was after.

Note on flight stands

With regards to flight stands the best way to manage it is if you do not attach each plane on a stand permanently but instead magnetise the plane and the base.  There are several reasons for doing this, I think these are the key ones:

  • Base set of stands – you are very unlikely to use all you planes at the same time on the table, so consider what the maximum size your aerial engagements are likely to be. This will determine the number of flight stands you make. For example if you are playing the Check your Six rules more than a handful (that is about five) per player is about right, for Bag the Hun (in my case) where you fly sections a few more would be required – I went for a total of 40 stands (overkill, but what the hell).
  • Changing your mind – If you change the size or type of the base you are using for whatever reason this is easily accommodated as you just need to make some new bases – if you want to revert back you just use the old ones.
  • Storing your flyers – Storing small 1/600 on individual flight stands will take unnecessary space and when my current project is complete I will probably have in excess of 200 aircraft. Without the bases they take hardly any space. If I want to fly some planes for another project, I just use these flight stands again.

I made my flight stands using some transparent acrylic bases (30mm, 2mm thick) that I drilled a hole in and some and acrylic rod (2mm), I also used Neodymium magnets (2mm by 0.5mm).  Remember the polarity when you glue the magnets to allow you to use the same flightstands for all your planes.

Big shoutout and thanks to Tiny Wargames (link here again)

/Hope that was of some interest!

Featured

Got myself a Hyding!

A little bonus blog post because I think I am one behind my one a week average, but nonetheless a nice little story.

Some time ago I cleared out some of my books and a amongst the mess I found two old ones about miniatures from the 1970s. I had no idea where they came from but thought that perhaps Henry Hyde would be interested in them.  Maybe he would even give them a place in that famous Hyde book shelf!

 

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The Books

 

One of them had a nice passage saying that…

“Materials for constructing the terrain are very easy to obtain in the model shops. Quite simply it is a matter of plundering the lore of half a century or more of railway modelling.  The cheapest and the best ways of making realistic hills, valleys, roads, bridges, cottages and the like were developed long ago by our fathers and elder brothers.”

Henry said yes and I sent them to him.  They seemed to arrive safe and sound.

The next scene is a flashback to my more younger self and having just bought my first Baccus 6mm GNW models.  I was frantically looking for some guidance on how to paint them.  A friend of mine gave me a some sheets of paper he had ripped out of a Battlegames magazine – the painting guide was of course overkill for the scale but this was my guiding star for those very first 6mm I painted.

 

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From the Painting Guide

 

Anyway and zooming back to more or less the present time and a few days after this a little box arrived from Henry and I could not believe my eyes when two very familiar gentlemen were in it.

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They are now on permanent guard duty protecting my Great Northern War books.

A few notes:

The article “A brush with musketeers” can be found in the Battlegames Magazine, issue 7, and was written by Dave Robotham who also painted the miniatures. The miniatures are from the old Musketeer range sculpted by Bill Thornhill (not sure what happened to them?).

Henry Hyde is of course that guy who wrote the Wargames Compendium, edited Battlegames and Miniature Wargames amongst other things, and is now running a Patreon project (is that what you call it?) where you could join in – Battlegames the Spirit of Wargaming! There is a link to it here for you to check out.

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Thanks again Henry!

Other Stuff

In other news I have been doing some flight stands (completed some more planes) and ordered a hex mat for my winter and continuation war project.  Here are some pictures. Links to previous postings on this subject can be found here and here.

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Will write more about this project once the mat arrives.

/Hope that was of some interest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

The Russian Army at Horka and some more 1/600 aircraft

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In the last blogpost the Swedes inspected their forces in preparation of the Horka battle at Joy of Six this year (more here). The Russian spies were in attendance and following their report a few brushstrokes had to be done, but now I dare to say they seem to be ready for inspection and eventually to welcome the attacking Swedes.

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There is a total of 91 cavalry 60 by 30mm bases of 9 No. riders (apart from the irregular elements on 60 by 60mm bases of 8 riiders) and 64 infantry 60 by 30mm bases of 24 No. infantry in this army as well as Command bases and artillery bases.  Tsar Peter himself has inspected the various infantry detachments – General Golitsyn flying column with the elite regiments who may be ordered to March behind the cavalry and attack the Swedish left flank on they day!.  The three other Generals Sheremetev, Hallart and Repnin are ready as are their men.  A few rounds were fired by the artillery to mark the occasion.  I have included a few of the sketches that the scouts manage to deliver to the Swedish King.

 

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7 feet of Russians

 

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In other news I progressed my Bag the Finn project (more in the last blog post, link here) adding two more aircraft types:

  • The Fokker D.XXI that was the Finnish primary fighter aircraft during the Winter War (I painted it in the simple paint scheme used during the winter war – the more elaborate camouflage pattern used last time was used during the continuation war).

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  • The Polikarpov I-16 that was one of the three fighter planes used by the Russians in the Winer war (ther others were I-15bis and I-153).  The I-16 was the most common type and about half of Fighters were of this type at the start of the Winter War.

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Below are two relevant titles from Osprey and contain a lot of useful information on the fighting during the Winter War era. I really enjoy doing these 1/600 scale planes from Tumbling Dice.

/ Hope that was of some interest.

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Featured

Finnish Aircraft and a Swedish Army

A short one this time but I think there are one or two important points hidden in it all, I let you find them.

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Bag the Finn

I am currently working on some Tumbling dice 1/600 aircraft models with the intention of doing some games involving the The Lentolaivue 24 or LLv.24 (24 Fighter Squadron) fighting throughout Finland’s three wars during WW2.  I intend to use the Bag the Hun rules by the Too Fat Lardies (link here) and the campaign system Squadron forward.  I got the aircraft a long time ago but it has taken some time to get this started. However Mike Hobbs Malta project inspired me to get this going – thanks Mike.

Postscript:  There is a useful article in the Lardies Summer Special 2009 called Blue Swastika with background and scenarios for the Finnish Winter War for Bag the Hun. This article can also be found in the Scramble supplement (Thanks Jim for reminding me).

I have been buying a fair few books about Finnish and Soviet Airforce of the Period. But my starting point is the suitably titled Lentolaivue 24 from Osprey (link here).  As with any book there are several places where you may get the book cheaper and sometimes the second hand market can be very favourable.

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As I have mentioned before the family on my mother’s side are Finnish and this is why I have an interest in this particular theatre of the Second World War. 

I have heard many stories from the Finnish war period – some heroic but most of them being about the sad realities of war and the people that had to endure them directly and indirectly.  For example one of my relatives, a pioneering educationalist working in the Finnish border areas, had to take home his two sons in coffins during the war – both of them were volunteers and the youngest was 17. With a Finnish sense of dark humour the story was retold with the afterthought that the only good thing was that he only had to do one trip as they fell at the same time.

My hobby is very much related to war – in doing miniatures, models and gaming various conflicts sometimes in a seemingly light hearted way.  However I think it is important to remember that in reality it is far from a game.  This awareness does not take out the fun of it but adds respect to how I deal with it.

One of the things are symbols used by the various belligerents during the War and as you can see on the picture above the Finnish Aircraft carries a Swastika symbol.  The Swastika had been used on Finnish Aircraft since the early days of the Finnish Air force in 1918, following independence from Russia and therefore its use is different to that used by the Nazi regime. Finland were allied with Germany but through a common enemy in the fight against the Soviet Union – it did not share the overall objectives and world view of the Nazi regime.

I will paint and decorate these aircraft as close as possible to the way in which they looked at the time, not out of disrespect for anyone but out of respect to the historical records  of the period.

This is a slow burning project and I will write a short note on each aircraft type, what paints I used and some pictures as I complete them. Starting with the Finnish ones and the, to me, most Iconic of them all the Brewster Buffalo.  It is a little bit fiddly, but if you can paint a detailed 28mm miniatures then this should not be a problem.

The Flying Beer Bottle (Lentävä kaljapullo)

The Finns bought the Brewster Buffalos (B-239E) from the United States in 1939 and they were first flight tested by the Finnish Air force in early 1940.  A few were combat ready before the end of the Winter War in 1940 but none of them were used in combat.

However during the Continuation War the Brewster became one of the most successful aircraft of the Finnish Air force. The Lentolaivue 24 got them at the end of the Winter War in April 1940 replacing the Fokker D.XXI they used successfully during the Winter War. During the 14 months before the start of the Continuation War the pilot trained hard with their new machines and during the Continuation war they successfully destroyed 459 No. Soviet warplanes by these at a loss of 15 Buffalos (a 26:1 victory ratio) until they were replaced by the Messerschmitt Bf 109G (in May 1944).

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This is a colorized photo I got from somewhere on the net some time ago. I can not see by whom it is colorized, but it was the inspiration for the paint job.

I used the ISA240 F2a Brewster Buffalo x6 from the Tumbling Dice shop, it can be found in the 1/600 range, link here.  I do not know what the best way is to paint these are and you may want to do some further research, this is how I did mine.

Clean it, magnetise it,

Make sure you clean it up with a scalpel (be careful) or a small file as there is some flash but not excessive.  I then glue a 0.5mm * 2mm magnet under the aircraft.  This is a little bit fiddly and you may have to redo a few but that is all part of the fun! In addition make sure you align the polarities – i.e. glue them in the same direction.  I will take some photos of how I manage this when I do the next set of aircraft.  This allow you to mount them on flight stands that you can magnetise too.  You may end up with a collection of hundreds or aircraft but you may rarely use more than a dozen on each side in a game – therefore you can have a set of flight stands you use for all your aerial dog fights. It also means that you could have different set of stands, perhaps if you have different rules ets, and so on.  But more on this later.

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I know that the Doctor never bothers checking the polarities when he does his flight stands and just reverses them afterwards.  But he uses his sonic screwdriver and do not think even Woodland Scenics have one.

Painting

As I wrote last week I got myself a few pots of the paints from the Finnish Aircraft colour paint set.  In retrospect I probably had all the colours I needed already as part of my base set up, however I put the ones I got to use in this project.

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  1. Priming – I used a Vallejo White Polyurethane Primer (mainly because I normally use grey or black for my miniatures, and had it lying around). It has a nice thin consistency that works deceivingly well.  I thought white would work best as I was not going to use the primer as part of the shading.
  2. Let it dry (a few hours should be fine)
  3. Paint undercarriage light grey – I used the Lifecolor Light Grey UA 541.
  4. Paint top green (do not paint the front bit that will be yellow and avoid the yellow part behind the cockpit, not critical but makes it easier to achieve a good yellow later on) – I used the Lifecolor Olive Green UA 540.
  5. Let it dry (if you are doing a large batch like I did there is no reason to wait, just do step 6 for the next).
  6. Paint top with Black camouflage patterns (avoid the parts that will be yellow) and do the front propeller part.  I used Vallejo Model Color Black 950.
  7. Let it dry (see note above on large batch)
  8. Paint the propeller hub/top with a flat brown/light rust colour (I have seen some different colour for this, most of the time it is black but I wanted some contrast so mine have this colour).
  9. Paint the Yellow parts, also under the top of the wings – I used the Lifecolor UA 544.
  10. Let is dry (see note above on large batch)
  11. Paint 80% of the Black camouflage parts in Vallejo Model Color Medium Sea Grey 870. I kind of left a black outline of the pattern.
  12. Paint 80% of the Green with a 50/50 mix of Lifecolor Olive Green UA 540/Vallejo Model Color Yellow Green 78.
  13. Let it dry properly (a few hours should do fine)
  14. Use Windor & Newton Nutbrown ink, be generous and process to 12 immediately before doing the next plane.  This is an old 6mm painter trick Dr. Mike taught me many years ago. You may want to use some other wash/ink type of thing or skip this step if you want a neater look.  I think it adds depth to the colour and make it look better painted than it is.
  15. Dab a piece of toilet paper carefully on the model to take away excess ink, do not rub – this was sourced from Modelling Supreme Industries and is sold by the sheet (Sorry, but at least humour me with a smile!).
  16. Let it dry
  17. Give the yellow parts a little bit of more paint on the top sides (using the same colour as above, looking at the colourized picture above and some others they tended to be relatively dirty quickly so leave some of that ink stain. It does not make the model look prettier but more real).
  18. Paint the glass part of the canopy in blue carefully, let the non-glass part shine through – I used Vallejo sky blue or something similar.

I suppose you could highlight them further and perhaps put a dot of white on each window – however I just did the 18 steps above.

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I suppose you could fly them like this

Decals

Next it is time for some decals and this is requires some patience to get right. I got the decals from Dom’s Decals some time ago, link here.  He has a warning of a current backlog on his webpage (April 2018) so I suggest you send him and e-mail and ask him about the current status.  Some of the best of the wargames industry are the small players (mostly one person bands) and I have found most of them more than happy to engage in some conversation upfront as to what the expectations are with regards to getting your orders sent to you.  Dom does a fantastic service to the hobby with his decals – give him and others like him a fair chance to continue doing so.

You need the set 1/600 Finnish Hakaristi Markings (1918-44).

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Basically I cut out every decal neatly and then stick a few of them in a small bowl of water for a while lift them out and wiggle the off on a plastic (sometimes they fall of in the bowl) I use a scalpel (gently) for this .  I used 4 transfers for each plane (I did not do the underwing ones), two on the wings (second smallest ones) and two on the sides (the smallest one).  This is my high-end set-up.

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Just be careful when you do this expect to f**k up a few before you get it going – practice does not necessary make perfect but in this case good enough!

This is the result,  I really like they way they turned out and from a distance they look decent enough for my gaming table.

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Wingspan of a Penny, comparing with the picture below. Good enough for the table, especially the dirt on the yellow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When I have finished (no pun intended) all the aircraft for this project I will do some custom transfers (I bought a sheet for this purpose) to allow some further markings to be done like tail markings etc. This is probably overkill and I do not know if I will be able to do these yet so it is currently just a plan – but if it is possible I will do them like this.  After this I will seal them with a matte varnish.

Swedish Army for Horka 1708

The Swedish King and his Generals mustered the forces for the Horka Battle to be fought 15th July in Sheffield at the Joy of Six show (more here).

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The King was seen smiling and the mood amongst the ranks was very good.  They Russian position was strong but so was the Swedish morale.  Here are some colorized sketches from the event. There are a total of 72 cavalry bases and 28 infantry bases as well as a few leader bases and artillery bases. Here we go….

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Some Swedish Artillery in front of the Infantry Line
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General Rehnsköld inspecting

Too blurry?, let us try again.

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/ Hope that was of some interest