Metcalfe Models Coaching Inn HO/OO Scale (1/72)

I have slowly been expanding my Normandy village with a mixture of buildings from various sources. I much prefer to try and build all my own stuff but it does tend to be very time consuming, so i do like to boost my output with some purchased structures too. The good thing about building your own is that you can create whatever you like and to size with your other scenery. I have found a big difference in heights of purchased houses, making some products unusable. For example i did buy a house from Loic Neveu but it was more like a 15mm building and looked silly with my other buildings. Shame as they are really nice models.

Anyway this Coaching Inn is a card model from the English company Metcalfe Models. They do not ship to Australia so i had to buy it through Antics On Line in the UK. Size wise this is over 120mm tall and fits beautifully with my existing buildings. Its a well designed tough card model. Not too much cutting is involved and the instructions are clear and easy to follow. The acetate windows with details printed on are particular nice. Its not really a French looking building, but i think it fits well enough. They give you a choice of signs, of which i chose The Swan Inn, but i think i will print out something French to put over the top. I mounted my finished model onto 3mm MDF for extra strength. The edges of some of the card and also the building corners need a little touch up with a black marker pen just to tidy it up.

For around ten pounds i think this is great value for a really nice kit. I have a couple more other kits from Metcalfe which i will be making in the coming weeks. If you are looking for something other than resin, plastic or MDF for your table look no further. Some pictures below with the Inn flanked by a home made red brick building on one side and an MDF bought kit on the right. Then some shots of all my buildings quickly laid out.

Tanks Of The Second World War by Thomas Anderson

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Let’s face it we all love our tanks. I love building tanks, painting tanks, moving tanks around a wargames table, and also reading about tanks. From the imposing Tiger tank on the front cover i was immediately hooked and swiftly read this awesome volume from the top of its turret to the bottom of its tracks.

The first thing you notice are the abundant black and white photos of every kind of tracked armoured fighting vehicle. Every page has original images of vehicles in combat or lying wrecked on the battlefield. Accompanying the photos are specifications of each tank including armour, armament and speed. I figured these stats would be especially handy if i wanted to design my own wargames rules as they would supply all the relative information needed to come up with each tanks characteristics and abilities. All the photos are a great source of inspiration for anyone with an interest in tanks.

Mr Anderson begins with a brief history of tanks in World War One and the inter war years. He then goes through a chronological history of World War Two and how tanks developed in their design in each period. There is just enough text to accompany the photos to keep you engaged but not bore you with unnecessary information. The book is also grouped by theatre of war, as each had its own impact on the development and use of the tank. Some countries developed their tanks at different times and in different ways depending on how they were involved. Its all fascinating reading. He finishes by briefly touching on tank development after the war and onto the Cold War.

If you have an interest in tanks this book is for you. I would have like maybe some colour plates, plans or illustrations showing camouflage schemes or dimensions, but that would be my only criticism. Lots of great pictures, precise technical info and well written concise historical text. This is a must for anyone with a healthy appetite for a wider understanding of how the tank developed through the Second World War.

 

Dragon Churchill Mk.IV NA75

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This classic British tank was on sale at BNA Model World for $12.50 a few months back so could not resist but pick up a couple of them. That’s just too good a bargain to pass up for a couple of Dragon kits. I needed some more Churchills to add to my Plastic Soldier Company versions and make up a full troop. Now i have four including the large calibre AVRE for support.

These are excellent kits and pretty easy to put together compared to some Dragon kits which can be fiddly. The best thing about them is the running gear which comes in a few pieces for each side but with the wheels already connected in two halves. So you don’t spend hours making and gluing individual wheels and then trying to align them. As we all know the Churchill has as many wheels as a centipede has legs. Well nearly as many. The detail is better and more delicate than the PSC Churchills. You can model the hatches open or closed, which allows you to add some tank crew. In my case i added a couple of excellent fellow from AB Figures, one relaxing against his hatch, the other carrying some kind of map case ready to get on the CB radio.

The only real problem i faced with this kit (both times i made it) was trying to get the upper hull to fit on the bottom hull straight at the back. Either side at the back remained at a funny angle. Not the end of the world and i probably need to get some clamps or something to keep it glued in place for longer. You get some decals with the kit but i used some other PSC decals i had. This gives me plenty of Churchills now. The only ones i had as a kid were from Airfix, and these Dragon models are certainly a great improvement on them. There is an Esci model Churchill out there which i will try and get my hands on too sometime.

AB Figures SS Tank Killers

Its always total fun painting any figures from AB. The details are so clear and sharp that they really paint themselves. Once you get the paint on in the right places the rest really looks after itself. They really are the best 20mm figures out there, and even though significantly more expensive than any plastic figures i think its well worth it for the difference in quality. I did recently pick up some more British from CP Models, which look really good, Wartime Miniatures and also SHQ, so i will do a comparison of all them sometime.

But back to these SS troops packing Panzerfausts and Panzershrecks. I did my usual German camo scheme in greens and  browns the only difference was i had some cool new grassy tufts to try out on the bases. The poses from AB are just great, looking natural and realistic. I still have some loading crew, a trooper carrying the Panzershreck rounds and a couple more Panzerfaust firers, to paint next. But i am going to do a more Autumn camo scheme with them for a change. Anyway if you dont have any AB figures run out and get some, they are just brilliant!

Some photos of my tank killing team out on the Farm looking for Shermans.

Teddy Bear Fur Fields

My terrain projects continued with some more fields and hedges for my Normandy landscape. In recent weeks i have read a lot of excellent blogs and book articles on the use of Teddy Bear or faux fur so i was very keen to try it out for myself. One of the railway modelling books i have been reading goes into detail about how to use the fur in lots of different ways. The first one i wanted to try was just an open grassy wild field and also one enclosed by hedges with a dirt path running through it.

I picked up a large bit of beige faux fur from Spotlight for about $25. This should be enough for plenty of applications! I then cut out the size i wanted and glued each bit to 3mm MDF bases as usual with PVA glue. Then its attack the fur with a pair of sharp scissors and cut it to the length you want. For the wild grass fields i went pretty hard with a short back and sides and reduced the fur to 3-5mm long. You will see through experiment how long or short looks right for you. I tried using my beard trimmers on it too but they didn’t work. So stick to scissors! If i owned a comb i would have combed the fur to get all the cut bits out and also get it all pointing upright. I dont have a comb so i used my fingers which worked ok. For the path i just cut as close to the base fabric as i could removing all the fur where i wanted the track to go.

Then you can paint the fur using green, yellow and brown acrylics. Make sure you use as little paint as possible and use lots of different shades to get a natural look. The less paint you can use the quicker things will dry. I used a big paint brush (ie for painting walls) to blend all the paints throughout the fur and get a good covering so no original fur colour is left. That’s about as tricky as it gets. The path i just used PVA glue and sand and then some paint. I added little shrubs and weeds and tufts around the place. The hedges were made from horsehair and flock just like my bocage and trees. This fake fur is really handy and i was very happy with the results considering how cheap and easy the process was. I am planning to use it on some country road sides and also a canola field.

Check out my pictures below including the Sherman Firefly crossing the field (of Glory hopefully).

Trumpeter Sturmtiger (Late) 1/72 Scale

My last slightly obscure German vehicle I had in my pile of kits came out and was built this last week. The Sturmtiger was a support tank based on the Tiger chassis. Its not a vehicle I would get to use a lot but a lot of fun to have and build anyway. Trumpeter kits are excellent and this one did not disappoint.

Its a very easy kit to build as its mainly a box on a chassis with quite simple running gear. So it didn’t take too long to build. Everything fits together nicely as usual with Trumpeter. The instructions for the gun were a bit vague in parts and then didn’t match the picture on the front of the box. This was confusing. The picture on the box also misses off the MG gun in the hull which is weird. I had to consult some internet pictures and places to try and work out the main gun. I still think I got it a bit wrong, but the box art has missed a bit off totally (its the part that goes around the end of the main gun).

I realise after painting that I am not that happy with this Tiger’s paint job. My camo scheme went a bit screwy and needs more contrast. Also I added too much sand and dirt and it all came out looking a bit the same. I need to cut back on the dirt as with a Dunkelb yellow vehicle you need some contrast otherwise it all just looks a bit boring. The tracks would have looked better left the rusty colour I did prior to all the muck. Also this tank is very boxy and doesn’t have a huge amount of surface detail so I needed to spend more time picking out details with dark washes. Next time I will do a better job! I should also glue down bits of the top of the tracks to signify their weight.

For some reason there are no decals supplied. Not sure why, so you will need to dig up some spares.

Overall this is another wicked little kit from Trumpeter, not sure if anyone else actually makes a 1/72 scale Sturmtiger, but if you want one look no further!

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Making my own trees

You always need trees and plenty of them. I have been reading up on more tree making techniques, after the Chinese eBay technique was wearing a bit thin. Looking at railway modelling books and the internet i have seen many ways of using wire to make trees and thought i would give it a go. Starting with anywhere from 15 to 30 pieces of wire up to 15 cm in length i just put some masking tape around the bottom of the whole bundle to create a trunk. Make sure the tape is good and tight to stop the wires from separating. Then its just a question of twisting a number of wires together (3 or more depending on how thick you want the branches to be and how many of them you want). You need to try and create as random a look as possible. I tried lots of different ways of twisting wires together before i got a look that i was happy with. There is a bunch of Youtube stuff out there on this subject, with some people using drills and other devices. I found it easy enough by hand to create some good looking results. I then covered as much of the wire with masking tape nice and tightly, except for the end bits which if only 1 wire thick do not matter. The great thing is wire and masking tape cost very little and you can churn out some really good looking trees for a small outlay. Chinese eBay trees are nice and cheap too but these home made ones look far more natural (in my opinion).

After the tape i give the trees a good coat of a paint thickening medium, but could use PVA glue or filler or something similar. When thats dry i painted them with a mixture of raw umber, burnt umber and white. Tree trunks are a brown grey sort of colour. I did some highlights in a light grey and light brown too to pick out the gnarly details. For the foliage i had sourced some rubberized horsehair from the UK and used that with bits of coconut fibre. The coconut fibre is dirt cheap from Bunnings, while the rubberized horsehair is expensive, so i wanted to stretch the use of the horsehair. I am thinking maybe i could soak coconut fibre in PVA glue and compress it and make my own rubberized fibre. Once the foliage is glued to the wire armatures i used three different kinds of flock sprinkled over PVA glue. Other people use spray adhesive for this step but i found just brushing PVA glue onto the foliage and then sprinkling works well.

All the trees were mounted into MDF bases which are decorated and flocked. You can see with the bigger tree the wires at the base of the trunk can be splayed out and twisted to make big roots. Next up i need to make an apple orchard for my Normandy battlefields….. Tiny apples out of modelling clay. Golden Delicious anyone??