27 February 2008

Another PACV review

You may recall I bought a PACV from Gomi design last year and posted my comments here: http://tasmancave.blogspot.com/2007/07/pacv-arrives-in-country_6444.html

If you would like another perspective, Eleven-Bravo has just posted another review of this model here: http://www.eleven-bravo.co.uk/reviews/figures/gomi/pacv.php

EDIT: Since the Eleven-Bravo site has since closed, here is he review in its entirety:

Gomi Designs 15mm PACV (Patrol Air Cushion Vehicle)

If, like me, you play your Vietnam wargames in 15mm, you don't need to be told that we have been poorly served when it comes to obtaining models suitable for re-enacting riverine warfare. This is fascinating aspects of the war and one that adds a new dimension to the usual search & destroy missions. Ever since Firebase Games disappeared from the scene a few years back, the only way to obtain any models in 15mm was to make them yourself. Given the richness and diversity of the monitors, landing craft and patrol vessels used during the war, this deficit is surprising. Peter Pig fortunately produces a PBR Mk2 to compliment their Vietnam range, but that is it as far as I'm aware. However, things look like they are about to change as there is a (relatively) new kid on the block - Gomi Designs.

I accidentally came across Gomi recently whilst searching on The Miniatures page. Gomi Designs is a small company formed by Tim Parnell, his brother and their friend, Dave Garnham. To quote from the notes found on the planned rules section of their website, the idea behind the company is to "publish materials that gamers like us would want to buy [and] could afford to try…". Basically, in addition to publishing some rule sets as time goes on, they are also looking to fill the gaps in other manufacturers' ranges by releasing complimentary models.

Apart from some unique WW1 models, what is of interest to readers of this forum will be the Vietnam era vessels; in particular, the troop-carrying ATC, the two monitors and the PACV (Patrol Air Cushion Vehicle), commonly known as a hovercraft. The latter is a 4.5 inch long, 3 inch wide resin model and comes with 9 additional pewter white metal fittings. As can be seen from the photo, they fit together very well and it is very straightforward to assemble. One very minor irritant, though, was that the propeller blades can be a touch fragile and I broke one whilst filing the flash despite taking a lot of care. Fortunately, it could be repaired very easily and doesn't notice once painted. The resin hull itself was cleanly cast and there were no bubbles or chips on my example; something that is so often found on models using this material.

At £8.99 plus £2.50 postage, the price is slightly high although reasonable given that Gomi is a new company trying to find its market. There were only ever 6 of these craft deployed in Vietnam, so it is certainly a bit of a niche model, but one that I feel will become a 'must have'. Comments posted on the Net suggest that there are also science fiction possibilities for the PACV too. 

26 February 2008

US Tank Article

An interesting article from 1972 that I recently stumbled upon:

Armor In Closed Terrain - U. S. Army Experience In Vietnam

I. Purpose:

To establish the combat role of armor in close terrain operations by using U.S. Army experience in Vietnam.

II. Problem:
In spite of the various spectacular victory achieved by armor inclosed terrain operations during Second World War, Korean War and Vietnam War,the general military perception has been that the combat guidelines for armor mobility, firepower, protection and chock effect can only be exploited effectively in an ideal terrain of open, rolling country.

III. Data:
The valuable experience on armor operation in closed terrain during theSecond World War were shelved away and forgotten as soon as the war ended. Until 1966, the U.S. Army had no independent armored units deployed in Vietnam. The decision to deploy U.S. armored units to Vietnam was made only after a careful and exhaustive study done in 1966. Contrary to the impression of the U.S. Army planner, the study found that armored forces could operate effectively inVietnam. Soon after armored forces arrived in early 1967, they proved to the critics that their mobility, firepower, and protection could play an effectivecombat role in Vietnam. As a result armor played a pivotal role in Vietnam. In the final offensive mounted against South Vietnam, North Vietnamese Army has proved beyond doubts that armor was not out of place in close terrain.

IV. Conclusions:
The U.S. Army experience in Vietnam indicated that manymilitary professionals have over estimated the difficulties of closed terrain.Armor in Vietnam has proved beyond doubts that, with thorough planning and imaginative employment, armored forces can play a useful combat role in closeterrain.

V. Recommendations:
The U.S. Army must acquire and expand a capability foroperating in close terrain. This capability could be acquired now by re-examining and analyzing tactics and techniques employed by armor in Vietnam. The equipment modifications and innovations that were achieved in Vietnam should befurther evaluated and documented. The lession learned should be transformed into relevant doctrines.

Read the full article here:

25 February 2008

M50 "Ontos" Information

Mike's rebuild project: http://ontos.homestead.com/mikes.html
Pics of M50 Ontos on Display:http://www.battletanks.com/m50_ontos.htm
Ontos Pics http://news.webshots.com/album/278167680qDZFqd

Combat Footage of the Ontos in Action:

Organisational Note:
The Ontos platoons were organized into heavy and light sections. There were three Ontos in a heavy section and two Ontos in a light section. There were three platoons to a company; and three Companies to an Ontos Battalion.
I have 2 of these puppies , unpainted (for the time being) of course...

24 February 2008

NVA Rifle Platoon Review

As much as I have enjoyed my USMC platoon and want to keep going with the leathernecks, I think its time to start the NVA. Again I'm using Flashpoint figs and the first Rifle Plt has been cleaned up and undercoated (in black). Time to do a little review of whats in the blister:

NVA Riflemen from Flashpoint's now defunct site
First impressions:
Good quality figures, dynamic poses but not as varied as the USMC figs I dont think, moderate levels of flash so some cleaning up required. Figs are quite detailed, but again not as much as the USMC figs (not that the NVA carried as much stuff). Generally very sound

What you get:
42 figs - and because I got them on sale, thats less than Aus 50cents each - cant argue with that!

All in classic Vietnamese sun helmets and armed with AK-47 unless otherwise specified:
1 Bugler, playing
1 Phone operator, kneeling
1 Kneeling scout
2 running, port arms
4 port arms with RPD LMG
2 standing with SKS rifle
2 walking riflemen
4 aiming RPG on shoulder
7 Running riflemen (2 poses)
4 Squad Leaders right arm raised
4 leaders with left arm raised
2 leaders, hand on hemlet
8 riflemen firing (2 poses)

The downside:
One of the leader poses is poorly done and the 2 halves dont match well, requiring a bit of file work. Overall, the figs are good and the price certainly was right, but I dont think they are as good as the USMC figs....or maybe all the detail on the Marines just spoiled me. Either way, these guys will make good opponents and they certainly have a dynamic range of poses.

More WIP pics to follow.

23 February 2008

Basing boats

While thinking about how to do the bases of my Peter Pig BWN boats, I came across this nice how-to using wall filler:

The spash effects he has made from filler are rather good too:

22 February 2008

Cam foliage on vehicles tutorial

I found this great tutorial which will come in handy for those wishing to do NVA armour, heavy weapons and bunkers with a local camo look:

18 February 2008

Another M48 joins the ORBAT

I got another Peter Pig 15mm M48 completed over the weekend, using exactly the same process and colours as before, so I wont go into that again. Instead, here are some pics of the finished product:

The effect is not as striking this time, but probably because its not the first M48 off the production line and I knew what to expect. I'm still very happy with it though.

And just to give Charlie a scare....Rolling Hot!

17 February 2008

Company HQ, US Injured and KIA

I finally got around to completing my USMC Rifle Company HQ, which is only made up of 2 stands - the Captain and 'Gunny'. To differentiate the CHQ stands from the 3-man Platoon HQ stands, I used the larger sized stands (Pacific Themed resin bases by Battlefield Accessories, same as the rest of my USMC force). Figs are by Flashpoint Miniatures from the USMC CHQ Blister:

Amusing ancedote - there was a real MIA incident when I dropped the figure tray while was varnishing. The Gunny's stand was most damaged and the Medic fig rolled into the bush. It took about 20 mins of concentrated effort (including the kids) to find the poor guy (he was wearing camo after all), but in the end he was reunited with his buddies!

I also did a selection of WIA and KIA figs, again from the Flashpoint Miniatures USMC CHQ Blister:

I also spent a bit of time glueing thin steel sheeting to the bottom of all my USMC bases, and putting magnetic strips into my storage boxes (a neat tip from my mate Owen). At least that way I wont have them all broken and/or bent out of shape next time I move house.

13 February 2008

New Purchases

I've just acquired one of the old Revel 1:100 scale AH-1 models, which has previously been nicely reviewed at Eleven-Bravo here: http://www.eleven-bravo.co.uk/wargaming/crossfire/revell-ah1g-gunship.php

My only complaint (and its a minor one) is that the model comes only with decals for US Army insignia and not USMC options. I'm sure that can be resolved in short order. I also got a pack of Peter Pig's Huey Crew pack - the crew will be used in the Cobra, the door gunners in my diecast Hueys and the seated grunts on a few vehicles. If my Cobra comes out as nicely as the one in the review I will be very happy indeed.

In other news my mate Lucky is picking up a stack of Vietnam style terrain we ordered from Miniature World Maker (he had a sale on recently and we aren't made of wood you know...) so they will be reviewed here shortly.

I've also started on my second M48 tank. I'm doing it in exactly the same fashion as the one I finished last week so I'll just post pics of the completed vehicle.

04 February 2008

Vehicle Modelling tips

I've had a few (very kind) enquiries about more tips on painting vehicles.

I cant say I have any special tips or methods, but I found the following sites very useful while doing my M48:

15mm vehicle painting tutorial

Very detailed painting tutorial

And some tips from GW on environmebntal effects on vehicles:

03 February 2008

M48 Project, Part 2

Having washed and highlighted the tank (see Part 1 here: http://firebasecoral.blogspot.com/2008/02/m48-project-part-1.html), it was time for some detailing and weathering.

Detailing was done using my minimalist technique where 'less is more' and the hint of a detail is to enought to suggest it (meaning I do little because I'm not very good at it!). The baggage and crates I added were now painted, as were the cupola gun barrel and the main gun surround. The tracks were also blackened, followed by a light GW bolt gun metal drybrush, and finally the exhaust outlets were blackened with some soot splashed back up onto the back plating. The minimal ID lettering Ive seen on Vietnam tanks was omitted as it would be covered with mud later anyway.
It was at this point that I thought I should have added more baggage earlier in the process but it can also be added later. I also reduced it when I realised the turret didn't train fully with too much around it, so that is realistic I suppose. One very common mod in Vietnam seems to have been to add extra track sections around the turret to created a spaced armour effect as an anti-RPG measure, but I havent yet found spare tracks in 1/100 scale.

Weathering I have always found to be a tricky balance of too much vs cant see it from greater than 6 inches away and probably something I'd love to have an airbrush for. Anyway, Drybrushing with Tamiya dark earth (for dried mud) and Ral Partha Adobe Brown (for wet mud) on the lower half, then I did a few loads on an old toothbrush for splatters. Actually, I was enjoying this bit too much and went a little overboard, but I like the overall effect.

So thats it - 1 vehicle down, heaps to go!

Flashpoint Mainiatures relocating

Here is the official line on whats going on with Flashpoint Miniatures:

Ladies and Gentlemen!

We will begin firstly with a very happy New Years to all of our friends, families and supporters...

Well 2007 has come and gone and what a year it was... a big one for all involved no doubt, and with 2008 in its infancy an even bigger one is looming this year.For Flashpoint Miniatures it has been a year of trial and error, growth and experience, trial and tribulation. We have all learnt a lot in the process and have tackled each challenge as it has presented itself. 2008 is going to be a big one for us.

In February 08 Flashpoint Miniatures will be leaving the shores of New Zealand to relocate in the warm sunny state of Western Australia. This decision was the culmination of many factors including business opportunity and growth as well as personal oppportunites for Anton and his family. No solid plans have been set in concrete for the anticipated duration of the excusion but it is expected that we will remain in WA for a minimum period of three to five years. It will be an exciting and challenging move into the future but one that will see Flashpoint Miniatures itself going into minor hiatus for approximately 6 months, during which we will still be further developing and consolidating our current ranges and continuing to work on the concepts and plans that we have in the pipeline for late 08 and 09.

Flashpoint Miniatures website and forum will remain active for some time yet but our online purchasing facility will be going offline at the end of January 08 as will our ability to continue to support our retail network. Effectively we will be temporarliy closing down our operation until suitable production premises have been obtained our current plant and machinery relocated and our new machines purchased and trialled (this includes our long awaited resin casting plant)

Flashpoint Reloaded Vietnam our second major release will herald our new opening once we are systems ready (this is at present anticipated in last quarter 08).

I would like to thank each and every one of you who have supported us through our development and look forward to rekindling the fires of Flashpoint Miniatures later this year...

Warmest regards
Anton Ducrot
Flashpoint Miniatures Ltd

I think it will be good news in the medium to long term, and in the meantime I have a chance to get ahead on painting the things I have already bought from him before I go into another shopping frenzy! Note also that the Flashpoint Miniatures website is now offline.

02 February 2008

M48 Project, Part 1

You may recall that I recently took delivery of two M48s from Peter Pig's range, which has previously been reviewed at Eleven-Bravo site (http://www.eleven-bravo.co.uk/reviews/figures/peter-pig/m48a3.php) and I can only concur his comment that this model is good value for money. I like nice weighty vehicles!

The seven componets fit together nicely with minimal fuss. Only a small bit of putty around the gun barrel was needed and a few extra bits of baggage was added from the Skytrex Accessories pack (15mm WW2 range). I left the turret and cupola seperate so they can be trained as required on the table, and undercoated the lot with a black spraycan. No pics of this as it looks like...just a black tank really!

A base coat was applied using product I've just found - Testor's Olive Drab in a spray can. I did 2 light coats. which gave a nice look overall but was a little light for my taste.

A light wash followed, using Tamiya IJN Green watered down to about 20%

And a then a few highlights were added by mixing some white to Valleho Olive Drab

The textured base is from Battlefield Accessories range (same as the bases I used on my USMC figs) - pack Vehicle Bases 2. So far its sprayed black, drushbrushed with Tamiya Dark and Flat earth in succession and the rocks painted Slate Grey.
Now to get on with the detailing, weathering and finishing off the base!
More to follow....out.

20mm Vietminh

Conveniently tying in with my post a few days ago about a 15mm French Indochina range, "7dot62" has posted some pics of his Liberation 20mm Vietminh figs here:

01 February 2008

Action Photos

My mate Owen has added some effects to the bunker photos I took the other day to create a small strip- enjoy!

Pointman ... The forward scout thinks he sees something suspicious

Moving Up ... The LT pushes his squads up to deploy and support the pointman and his backup

VC! ... One of the squads sees movement in the bunker

Taking Fire ... The VC heavy machine gun opens up, the lead squad lays down some fire while the rest of the platoon starts to seek cover and avoid the heavy rounds buzzing around their ears.
Thanks Owen - they came out great!

Action Photos

My mate Owen has added some effects to the bunker photos I took the other day to create a small strip- enjoy!

Pointman ... The forward scout thinks he sees something suspicious

Moving Up ... The LT pushes his squads up to deploy and support the pointman and his backup

VC! ... One of the squads sees movement in the bunker

Taking Fire ... The VC heavy machine gun opens up, the lead squad lays down some fire while the rest of the platoon starts to seek cover and avoid the heavy rounds buzzing around their ears.
Thanks Owen - they came out great!