Sunday, July 8, 2012

When scratchbuilds go bad...

There are times when the model you thought you were making comes out rather differently from what you had intended. 
So with these pieces.  Intended as 57mm Anti-tank guns, they look sort of OK, but the trouble was that [a] I made the gun shield too large, and [b] set the whole gun too far back on the axle.  After much humming and hahring, and indrawn breath through the teeth, I find I can't live with them as 57mm anti-tank guns.  Aty the same time, the construction is such that modification (disassembly and reassembly) is not really an option.

What to do then?  Of course they don't look bad enough, as guns, for me to dismantle them; and indeed they look none too dissimilar to later model 76.2mm field/anti-tank weapons.  And so they'll become.  Incidentally, the gun barrels on these are lengths of wooden rod (dowel) obtained from the local modelling shop.  The 57mm AT guns will be a project for another day, destined (of course) for the 1st Guards Mechanised Brigade.

Why 'Guards'?  Well, my 1st Mech Bde wargames formation has been in existence some 20+ years now, and, with one unfortunate exception, has never lost a battle.  In a Command Decision competition back in '93, its seven T34/76s and 'Experienced' infantry took on 'veterans' and even 'elites'; King Tigers, Panthers, Comets and  Challengers, and fought them all to a standstill (3 draws out of 3).  Only one such opponent had as few as my 7 tanks, and 3 of those were King Tigers.  I was very proud of my Brigade's performance that weekend.  A small tactical error on my part robbed them of victory over the elite guys, too.

They deserve their 'Guards' appellation!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cardboard Guns...

Field artillery regiment; 1st Guards Mechanised Brigade
 About 20-odd years ago, when money was short and time was long, I wondered how I was going to acquire the guns I needed for my Russian (or Pan-Andean People's Republican) Army.  A rather crudely scratchbuilt set of infantry guns didn't pass muster, though one of the more outspoken critics offered to lend me a metal field piece from which to draw up templates for scratchbuilding.  The first results you see here: the First Artillery Battalion of 1st Guards Mechanised Brigade.
The middle gun in the line above was the first built, all from cardboard, chads, and bits of ball-point pen.  Even the wheels were cardboard, made up of layers that vaguely suggested a tread, and the outer circle having its centre cut out for a better representation of tyres and hubs.   That centre gun also has its towing assemby, a rather fiddly construction from thin cardboard (cereal packet), paper and a discoid section cut from the ink reservoir of a ball pen.
Finally, the muzzle brakes were fashioned, again from ball-pen ink reservoirs.  Trial and error suggested the best method was to sharpen a length of reservoir with a pencil sharpener, cut out square sections on either side, up near the blunt end, leaving a millimetre or two untouched.  Then shave off slivers top and bottom of the whole thing.  Then it can be slipped over the end of whatever you are using for a gun barrel.  For these guns, it was modellers' white plastic tube.

From what I've seen and read of Sovier artillery, I'm guessing this was an early war - possibly a pre-WW2 design.  Perhaps someone can correct me on this.
A fourth field gun, same calibre (76.2L39) under construction.  Until very recently I had not based them, slotting gun crew stands between and under the trail legs of the pieces.  Unfortunately, the construction isn't very robust, and even before the earthquakes, pieces had to undergo periodic repairs.  This usually meant retaching the legs.
76.2L39 Field gun under construction.  Beer mats make very good bases...

A few years ago, I was given some spare parts from a number of gun, AFV and vehicle kits a friend had already assembled.  The easiest such conversions were the guns.  There were enough gun barrel and breech black assemblies to form a regiment (We're talking Command Decision, here) of 152mm Medium pieces.

This is the way they have been for quite a while now - a few years at any rate.  Still a few bits and pieces to add.
They will also get the same sized bases as the other field guns.  These bases have no meaning in CD terms, that being defined really by the base of the gun crew stand.

There was, however, just the one 122mm piece.  This one, though, I gave 'proper' wheels.

As it happened I had already made a beginning on a couple of other 122mm gun/howitzers, but hadn't worled out the breech blocks.  Incidental to a later picture you will see some of the bits involved.  Not much progress there, though.

And now for some infantry guns.  This was really where I came in, trying to construct some of these small guns with, at the time, no worthwhile information on what they looked like.  A few years ago I acquired these white metal pieces at a bring-'n'-buy.

So far they have received no more than an undercoat.

What formations will get these guns?  Probably some of the less well-equipped Rifle Brigades in my army, but the decision is still pending.

Finally: a couple of 'Quick-built' Italeri ISU152s.  Such vehicles features in a recent article in the Plastic Warrior blogspot, but they had different gun barrels.  I had forgotten that they came with alternatives.  I opted for the short barrelled guns with the 'shark-gill' muzzle brake.

The earthquake damage to the far vehicle (above pics), though quite apparent in the b&w picture, turned out to be quite easy to repair, and will be completely hidden by a paint job...

...once they have been dusted off!