Tuesday, January 31, 2012

CY6 Plan - For Now

So I've examined, and reexamined, my wishlist of aircraft for CY6. It's rather large. In the end, I decided upon a phased plan of acquirement. At least for now.

This week, I placed an order for something of an eclectic mix to fill in some immediate holes that will allow me to play the Guadalcanal scenario books. That includes some P-39s, some Betty bombers, etc. Plus some Hurricanes and P-38s to do some of the smaller scenarios out there, as well as some of my Aleutians scenarios that I will introduce at some point.

After that, my plan is fourfold, as budget allows:
  1. Finish the US carrier component. This whole project started with carrier battles in mind, so that means add to the existing fleet of F4Fs and Dauntlesses, and get some Avengers and Vindicators, plus a few others. That should pretty much let me do Midway, and really any of the '42 carrier battles.
  2. Finish off the Japanese. Well, more or less. At least to the point of acceptability. That means some Nells, a Mavis, some Rufes and Hamps. That should let me do my Aleutians scenarios, as well as have a good start toward Guadalcanal 2.
  3. Add to the US Army Air Force. Time for some American heavy hitters - B-24s, B-17s, plus some additional P-39s and P-38s. New Guinea, anyone?
  4. Peripheral stuff. One of my ultimate goals is early Sino-Japanese stuff, e.g., P-26s, I-16s and the like against A5M Claudes and such. Plus I'd like to look at RAAF and even Dutch East Indies stuff, including Hurricanes, Beaufighters, P-36s, more Buffaloes and the like. This list is perhaps the most nebulous at the moment, and may depend on scenario developments.

Somewhere in there I should get some Corsairs and F6Fs, too. Haven't worked that in yet. After that, it will be a matter of filling in holes and hunting down more obscure stuff, like Hawk IIIs for China. We'll see if I can stick to this plan. It's unlikely the entire thing will get done in 2012, but if I can at least get 1 and 2 done, that should keep me plenty busy.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Some Nates

Here's the Japanese Nakajima Ki-27 Nates I bought at Spartacon all painted up for CY6. While not the best aircraft in history, these will provide good opponents for the Flying Tigers that are in the works, along with the Chinese Nationalists I intend to do at some point. These are from Scotia, painted in Polly S Imperial Japanese Grey, which may technically be a little on the lighter side, but it looked good to me, especially in scale, and even seems to have the slightest olive green tint to it that these planes reportedly had. So there you go.

Also, a sneak peak at one of the Sallys in progress. More Flying Tiger targets!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fast Friday: Let's Drop the Green on 2012

No model again this week. Instead, let's celebrate the first racing action of 2012: the 50th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Daytona!

I'm not a tremendously huge sports car racing fan, but the Daytona 24 is always worth tuning in to for a number of reasons. First, it's a real race after a long off-season! Plus it comes at a time of year when it's generally cold and yucky up here, so it's nice to watch something happening in the Florida sunshine.

But perhaps most of all, this has become sort of an annual all-star race, with drivers from many different series whose season hasn't started yet taking a shot. Of course, that means multiple IndyCar drivers will be on the course in action for the first time since the Las Vegas tragedy.

Among the regulars scheduled to drive are Justin Wilson, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Graham Rahal, along with Ryan Briscoe, James Hinchcliffe, Raphael Matos and Paul Tracy. Some other names familiar to Indy fans are John Andretti, Max Papis and Scott Sharp, among others. Should be a good time. Maybe it will inspire me to get back at the poor half-finished model cars on my bench!

Oh, and did you hear Rubens Barichello is taking part in an IndyCar test next week? Things that make you go hmmm.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Funny Looking French There...

I think I mentioned a while back that I was waiting for some early WW2 French I ordered to complement the platoon I picked up at Spartacon. Well, they've arrived. For the most part, they're good. But this one gave me pause...

Clearly it's labelled as a French Hotchkiss gun. Clearly those are not French gunners, and though it's a little hard to tell in the photo, that's not a Hotchkiss gun, either. Most definitely Germans. I contacted FRP Games, where I ordered them from, and let them know they apparently have a collection of mislabeled stock. I suspect it was a mislabeling done by Crusader USA, and isn't FRP Games' fault. Still, I asked them to let me know if they have any actual French. I haven't heard back yet, and I may not, as I suspect Crusader USA minis are getting scarcer by the day.

In the meantime, I guess I now am the proud owner of a German machine gun team. And while I do have a Bolt Action French gun team, I still wouldn't mind getting a Crusader one as well.

I do have to say over time I generally have had good luck with mail order, which has become the lifeblood of all my hobbies, including the Mustang restoration, the model cars and the gaming. Oh, there is the occasional foul-up with a shopping cart (how did I get two vials of the same paint?), and the occasional long waiting period, but for the most part the vendors I've dealt with have been good. And again, in this case I can't really blame the vendor, if you just read it, you'd think these were French if you didn't take a look or didn't know the difference.

C'est la vie. Or should that be, so ist das Liben?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Wait Five Minutes

An old saying in Michigan: "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes, it will change."

Remember the other day I commented the thermometer read -2 when I headed off to work? Yeah, today it was 44. Nothing like a 46 degree swing in a matter of days to get your sinuses some exercise! And let's not forget the thunderstorms last night. Or rather early this morning, which caused my wife and I to lay awake in bed fretting about the power. You see, we have a sump pump, which I am convinced is the work of the devil himself. Evil, evil little machine. And it's located in our laundry room downstairs, where many of my hobby supplies are stored. I lost a complete paper old west town to water a few years ago. Along with our carpet, a couple feet of drywall, etc.... Most everything is now stored in plastic boxes or high enough it would take a significant flood, but anything is possible around here.

Plus I'm convinced we live above an underground river. Our crock has water in it ALL the time. Even in August there is a trickle. And the guy across the street says his pump has kicked on maybe twice in eight years. At times like this, ours kicks on every few minutes. Absurd.

A lesson in redundancy: We have a second primary pump, a backup battery pump, a water-pressure pump, an inverter for a car battery (so we can plug in a primary pump while running the car) and a generator. Which all works great, so long as we are home. We have to rely on the battery backup when we're not.

Could be an interesting spring. Again.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Keeping Up With the Favorites

In line with the popular blog post template making the rounds, here are some of my favorite things as related to the wargaming hobby. And since this is my 100th post, it seems a fitting occasion!

Period: Like most, I've dabbled in more than I should. It actually all started with Minifigs 15mm WW1, so that still holds a place on the list. I've always had an interest in ACW and WW2, so gaming those was a natural extension. But if push came to shove, I'd probably say AWI. Colorful armies, great storylines, interesting personalites, source material readily available - and you don't need hundreds and hundreds of minis for a good game.

Scale: Going to have to go with 25/28 here. More costly, but easier on the eyes, and easier to paint. Even my ACW stuff is 25.

Rules: Many years ago (more than I like to think now), I took a chance and orderd a set of AWI rules called The British Are Coming! by Christopher Bell. It gave us good games right off the bat, and it continues to do so to this day. It's simple, yet really gives a good flavor for the period. It relies heavily on leader activation, which makes things tough for the Americans, but the British always seem to have a hard time moving through the woods! I've tinkered with it from time to time to adapt it to ACW, and really need to finish that project some day. But I would be remiss here if I did not mention Check Your Six!, which in the past year has grabbed me with its elegant simplicity, yet plausible results.
Boardgame: I played several back in the day, from Risk to Squad Leader. I'd say the one that made me think the most - and from which I learned the most - was probably Avalon Hill's Bismarck. Particularly the advanced game, which is essentially a miniatures game, though I may not have realized it at the time. Still on my agenda is to do 1/4800 WW2 naval based on Bismarck one of these days.

Figure manufacturers: Wow. Tough call. Different per period and per scale. Overall, it's mighty tough to find anything better than Perry, and probably any AWI purchases in the future will be Perry (and possibly Eureka). But for ACW, believe it or not, I've always had a soft spot for Dixon. Princess Leia ears asice, the breadth cannot be beat. In 15mm, I've heard Xyston described as "someone figured out how to shrink Perrys down." I'd say that's fair, though I don't have many of them. Yet. I'd also like to give a shout out to Grenadier Productions, whose line of 15/18mm wars of South American Independence is truly remarkable. (Sculpted by Mike Broadbent.)

Opponent: Hmmm. Whoever is willing? Seriously though, as rare as it is, I would probably NEVER game AWI without Jon C and his British to oppose my Americans. So a shout out to Big Jon, aka "miniature pusher."

Book: So many, but I'll mention two from my childhood that had a lasting influence in gaming terms. One was Battles and Battlefields by David Scott Daniell. This young-reader-oriented gem focuses on several of the key battles fought on British soil over the centuries, from Stamford Bridge to Cullodden. As basic as that may sound, when my mother first presented me with this book, it was all as alien and exciting to me as Tattooine or Alderran. Bannockburn? Bosworth? Naseby? It opened up a new world to me. The other would be the American Heritage Civil War book. I must have spent hours studying those maps with the miniature soldiers advancing this way and that, and dreamed about recreating that somehow. Oh, one more. I probably should mention The Lord of the Rings as being heavily influential on my imagination as a young reader. I can still read that one over and over.

Art: Three to mention. First one maybe a little odd, but I always did like those simplistic drawing in the Basic Dungeons & Dragons rules. I though they really captured the flavor of what a fantasy game should be, and I still like them for nostalgiac value of a simpler time, if nothing else. In terms of historical gaming, Angus McBride and Don Troiani are masters. Nuff said.

Websites: Of course TMP, but all of these blogs have really been fascinating. The eye candy is almost endless!

Movies - Star Wars. Zulu. Casablanca.
Tanks - Sherman. T-34.
Aircraft - P-40. Without doubt. Since first building a Monogram kit as a kid, I've always though "this is what a fighter should look like." And in Flying Tigers colors? Classic.
Car - '65 Mustang. Had to get that in.
Colors - Green and white. Had to get that in, too.

General - George Washington. Sure, he didn't win many battles, but he won enough and kept things together masterfully. And to willingly cede command at the end speaks volumes about the man's character. If only more could do that, we'd probably have fewer wars. And fewer gaming periods to choose from. Which I wouldn't mind.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fast Friday: First Signs of Spring

It's mid-January and the thermometer read -2 this morning (Fahrenheit, mind you) here in mid-Michigan, but thoughts of a new racing season are at hand.

Several drivers tested the new Dallara Indy car at Sebring in Florida this week, to apparently good reviews. All three engines took the course, including Lotus for the first time, along with Honda and Chevy. I'm particularly excited to see Chevy back in the game. I haven't heard the new cars yet, but apparently the V-6 turbos sound good according to those present, and there are three distinct notes. That will be a very welcome change.

I'm still not entirely sold on the new look, but I'm sure it will grow on me. Next year's aero kits will make a big difference, I think. The cars have needed to look different for a while. And if they are safer, that's all that matters.

Anyway, today we'll take a break from my model cars and take a look at New Zealander Scott Dixon at the Sebring test. By the way, the new Dallara is known as the DW12, named in honor of Dan Wheldon, who did much of the initial testing.

There are also strong rumors Milwaukee will be a late addition to the schedule, so at least there is one more oval. Hopefully there will be more once the new car has proven itself.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

P-40 Preview and CY6 Musings

Here's one of the P-40s from Scotia I did last spring. I have four of these. Last weekened at Spartacon, I picked up six of the new P-40B/C from Raiden. Four of them are destined to be Flying Tigers, the other US Army Air Corps, with an eye on at least one Pearl Harbor scenario. Ever since I was a kid, the P-40 has probably been my favorite WW2 airplane. Something about it to me is just what a fighter plane is supposed to look like. Plus, how can you not like the shark mouth?

In the meantime, I got the overall basecoat on three Nates and the undersurfaces of three Oscars done last night, and started work on the canopies and cowlings for the five Zeroes on the table. I've also got five Devastators pretty far along, and two Chinese P-36s just waiting decals. Waiting to receive those from Dom's Decals. Hopefully soon the airfleet will be quite a bit larger!

Also, I hope one of these days to update progress on how I plan to do stands. The first effort didn't work so well, but I have an idea how to fix it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Some Germans While I Wait

While waiting for more of my French to arrive, along with a new assortment of Vallejo paint, here are some Battle Honors Germans I did a while back. I'll need to do a lot more, I suppose, unless I can talk someone else into doing some. I also have some fallschirmjagers to do, but my likely opponent also has those, so those are low priority for me.

I'm very seriously considering redoing my BEF figs. I used a black wash instead of brown, and it is just way too dark. Fortunately I've only done one squad and a Vickers team.

I also basecoated five Zeroes last night for CY6. So that project is ongoing as well.

I'm actually excited, I don't think there is anything on the agenda this weekend at all. A true rarity. I'm sure there will be the usual cleaning and housework to do, but I hope to get some good painting in this weekend. And eventually I need to get back to the race cars, too!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spartacon Report

Of course, winter came back with a vengeance two days before Spartacon, and its effects were still lingering Saturday at o-dark-thirty when I began my trek through the hinterlands of mid-Michigan on my way to Lansing. I left a little earlier than usual, and it was a good thing, as it took me longer than usual to get there. But made it I did!

If you're counting wins and losses, I guess you could say I went 1-1 on the day. Here's what transpired:
  1. In session 1, I played in a WW2 North African, um, well, I guess furball is a better description that battle. Definitely a con scenario, with Germans, Italians, British and Americans all converging on a town from the four corners. I should have known I was in trouble from the get-go when I could see my likely adversaries not only knew each other, but had played these (home-grown) rules multiple times before. And I was assigned the Italians with another newbie. I know virtually nothing about Italian armor, except for a vague notion that it isn't any good. We got pretty well hammered. Still, what I do like about games like that is it gets you moving and rolling dice almost right away, and things move quickly. Plus the terrain was very well done, and the armor pieces extremely well painted, which is always nice to look at.
  2. In session 2, I got a few guys I know to join me in a Russo-Finnish battle using Arc of Fire. Having just played in my first game of that recently, it was good to see we pretty much had it right. We played the THe Church Village scenario from the Skirmish Campaigns book, and I took a Finnish MMG squad. I provided covering fire while three other squads moved around the left to take one of the two buildings. Ultimately, the plan worked, but after a slow start, the Russians did inflict some heavy casualties toward the end before finally breaking. I think the two Russian players were frustrated about the game, when in actualtity it is just that the Russian troops are that bad. The argued that for a con game, more evenly matched opponents would make a better game. Maybe so, but having now played two of these scenarios from that book, it gives a good impression of how tough it was on the Russians. Perhaps the only downside to this game was probably half of the Finns were really German figs, and the Russians were in summer uniform. Can't have everything.

All in all, it was a good day, and I got to see some people I hadn't seen in a while. Oh, what did I buy? As planned, I bought the Guadalcanal CY6 scenario book and a bunch of planes from Dave Winfree at I-94 Enterprises. Unexpectedly, there was another vendor there with a bunch of Crusader minis at 20% off. Since the closure of Crusader USA, these are getting scarce, so I jumped on a box of early WW2 French and a pack of Group Franc. So there you go, I guess I'm committed to the French now!

Without further ado, the photos:

The Italian force in session 1. Don't ask me what kind they are!

Overview of the session 1 game. Italians at lower right, British at upper right, Germans upper left, Americans lower left.

This has been at Spartacon before, and I always think it looks way cool: Squad Leader with miniatures. The recreated boards just looks awesome.

Americans, coming to get us Italians.

An overview of the hall.

A 40 mm AWI game, Battle of Rhode Island.

Napoleonics in 15, maybe?


Anolther view of that AWI game - nice building.

Meanwhile, lots of smoke over the Italian column.

DBA tourney.

DBA tourney.

DBA tourney - my friends Jon and Ben are in this!

Dave Winfree himself ran a CY6 Flying Tiger scenario in session 2. Alas, you can't play them all!

RAF in the CY6 setup.

Japanese in CY6.

Swiss and Burgundians?

I think this may have been another WW2 skirmish.

Another WW2 game.

Great looking table with an AWI 15mm game, apparently based on Brandywine.

Another view.

And another.

Here come the Finns out of the woods. That's my MMG at left.

Squad Leader.

Another view of that AWI game.

Overview of the Russo-Finnish game. Finns at top.

Aztecs and Conquistadores.

Aztecs and Conquistadores.

Looks like Dave's CY6 game is going well.

I think an ACW game?


Friday, January 13, 2012

Fast Friday: 2000 Helio Castroneves Reynard

Not gonna lie. In the confusing, frustrating and angst-inducing days of "the split," I sided with the IRL. (For those who don't know what I'm talking about, the highest level of American open wheel racing has more political drama than any other sport, I think, including F1.)

Fortunately, things are at least amicable now, even if I don't personally agree with everything being done. (More ovals, please, cough, cough.)

So, when the Captain Roger Penske started competing again at Indy in 2001, I was prepared to not like his drivers. But anyone who pays attention to Helio for more than about 10 seconds can't help but become a fan. The personable Brazilian just "gets it." He's all smiles at the right times, and all business at the right times. And he can flat out drive a race car fast. And, perhaps most significantly, he is completely respectful of the sport, its traditions and the Speedway. What really clinched it for me was when he went out early one morning to help a grounds crew paint over marks he had left on the wall during a crash the day before.

Anyway, I also know Helio is in Detroit right now for the North American Auto Show, so it seemed a good time to post some shots of a model I did of the car in which he won his first American open wheel race (Champ car at the time, not Indycar), which happened in Detroit on Belle Isle.

This is the only Champ car I have done. Revell Reynard kit (I think it was the Gurney Eagle?), with Model Car World paints. Alas, I can't remember off the top of my head who did the decals. Speedline, maybe?

Hard to think of May while sitting here in the middle of a snowstorm!