Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Gun Running to Cuba! (Part two)

Having finally completed building my model ship, Anna, for gun running scenarios in the Cuban Ten Years War I needed to find a crew for her. I was unable to find any suitable naval type figures in 28mm scale and eventually settled on these four characters:
They are from Steam and Steel's Steampunk range and are described as Pinkerton Detectives. Steam and Steel do not seem to have a website but they do have a page on Facebook; I obtained the figures through Ebay which the company seems to use quite a lot for their marketing.

Whilst they are not particularly nautical the figures painted up really well and really look the part of the shady characters who would have been engaged in smuggling and gun running for the Cuban rebels.
I also needed a cargo for the ship and built some munitions cases from scrap wood left over from modelling the ship: 

To these I added some barrels, packing crates and bales from a variety of different manufacturers but all sourced via Ebay:

When I put the ship, crew and cargo together the effect was exactly what I had in mind when I first thought of adding smuggling operations to my Ten Years War game. Here are a few pictures of the finished models:

Cargo strewn on the beach and guarded by none too trustworthy characters waiting for their meeting with the insurgents.

Overall I am pleased with the result. All that is needed now is for these shady looking cutthroats to hand over their contraband to the very needy Cuban rebels!

Monday, 26 December 2016

Gun Running to Cuba!

For my Ten Years War in Cuba project I needed a ship of some sort to smuggle guns and ammunition into the country for the rebels. The rebels suffered a chronic shortage of munitions throughout the war from 1868 to 1878 and most of the major shipments that they were able to organise from the U.S.A. were intercepted. However they did manage to smuggle smaller consignments of weapons into the island from neighbouring countries and I decided to build a smaller ship that might have been involved in these operations. I eventually settled upon a Chesapeake Bay Flattie which I spotted in the sales at   Hobbycraft.


Opening the box was a surprise for someone more familiar with building 20mm plastic kits and 28mm figures since I was presented with two sheets of plans, a pile of wood, bits of metal and thread!

Once I got over the initial surprise I read the 42  page construction manual, which contained 164 separate steps, and started! The hull took shape fairly quickly:

Once I had sanded everything down and checked that all of the joints were sound, particularly where the timber had been curved and moulded into shape, I added some of the more detailed parts. When that was done I began work on the mast, spar and gaff. (See how quickly I began to lapse into proper seafarers jargon!)

At this stage the manual recommended painting and varnishing. I opted for the simplest suggested paint scheme:

As you can see in the photographs I also added the ship's name, Anna, which I printed and then fixed in place. I wanted to add a port to the stern on the ship and after looking at a map of Florida I opted for Boca Raton, a very minor port in the keys. Again I typed and printed out the text, glued it in place and varnished it.
Next task was constructing the mast, adding blocks for the rigging, and then making and attaching the mainsail along with the gaff and spar:
Once that was done the mast and mainsail could be fixed in place along with the jib and further rigging which, although tricky to complete, was well worth the effort as you can see from the photographs of the finished model:

And here she is, the gun runner Anna setting sail for Cuba with a cargo of eagerly awaited munitions:

My next, and much less challenging, task is to make something to represent a suitable cargo and then crew her with suitable figures. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Citroen Truck in 15mm for World War Two

Several members of the Mailed Fist wargames club that I am a member of are interested in doing early WW2; The Fall of France with the BEF and all of that. Since no one had been collecting French forces that lot fell to me! Building a French Army has been extremely interesting and I am not complaining about my role, but it has been almost impossible to find suitable trucks in this scale. The problem eventually brought me to try a simple conversion of other models and I thought I would share my idea on here.

I bought a pack of Flames of War Russian Zis-5 three ton trucks which contains two vehicles. The code number on the pack if you want to buy the same for yourself is SU422. The models are one-piece resin castings which I needed cleaned up as there was a tiny amount of flash here and there:

This basic truck model was now given a very minor modification represent the distinctive Citroen radiator grill:

What I did was to cut a length of nylon filament from a kitchen brush then carefully fold it into a "vee" shape. This was trimmed to size and glued in place before I added a second one to get the Citroen look that I was after. The model was then sprayed with matt green and left to dry:

Happy with the result I then went on to tidy up the paintwork and highlight the distinctive "vee" with a touch of silver. Finally I added some sand wash for weathering and added flock to the base:

The finished model; whilst it is not 100% accurate - particularly the uneven split on the windscreen - I think that it is a fairly passable representation and one that I am happy with:

I already need more transport and I have decided to give this same treatment to one of the Flames of War Japanese Isuzu one and a half ton trucks; the pack number is JP 430 if you wish to look at the basic model for yourself. You might also consider giving the same treatment to the Italian 6 ton Lancia truck which is pack number IT440.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Cuban Plantation Owner's House

I needed a house which was a little grander than the others in my small Cuban settlement; I wanted something that would pass as the planation owner's residence. I made the basic structure from foamboard and went for the simplest house shape that you could imagine. The technique for making nice neat joints at the corners is described in my description of building a Spanish Colonial Church here on my blog.  I have also included strengthening braces at the corners as you can see here:

I fixed this basic structure onto a baseboard before adding the roof which is plastic card  slate from the Wills range of model railway accessories. The ridge tile is simply a length of bamboo skewer. I also used skewers to make the supporting columns for the veranda roof:

Another view to give you an idea of the completed work so far:

I spray painted the whole thing in white undercoat to blend together the different textures and colours of the various materials that I had used. I sprayed about three coats to get a nice even finish, once that was done I painted the roof and the veranda roof in a terracotta colour and I added strips of plastic on the gable ends and across the front and back of the building to add interest:

Windows and doors were made very simply by painting and drawing them onto heavy duty cartridge paper. This is a technique I use a lot and I often add layers or strips of cartridge paper to give depth to the different parts. They were then glued in place and window ledges were added later using painted matchsticks.

When I had been looking at Spanish colonial buildings, and particularly those in Cuba, I noticed that there was a great liking for ornate railings on balconies and verandas. To represent this feature I bought a foot or so of lace ribbon from a haberdashery shop; I soaked it in pva glue and hung it up to dry. Once the glue had set overnight I was left with a rigid sheet:

The sheet of lace was then easily cut to size, painted and then glued into place. The effect was exactly what I had been after!

Another view of the finished building clearly showing the "lace" railings round the veranda and the window ledges that I had already added:

A final front view of the plantation owner's house ready for him to move in and ready for the Cuban forces to assault and burn down!

Building a Spanish Colonial Church

I decided that terrain for my Ten Years War in Cuba project needed a few more buildings and thought that I would add a plantation owner's house and the different parts of a sugar mill. But I decided to begin with a small Spanish colonial church. After a quick search on the internet I sketched out the sort of thing I had in mind before drawing up a more detailed plan:

Next stage was to cut out the various parts from a sheet of foamboard. I cut two gable ends and stuck one of them on the back of what was to become the front of the church so the roof later:

If you are not familiar with joining foamboard components together here is a useful technique. Draw a line down one on the edges that are to be joined, make it the same thickness as the foamboard itself. Carefully cut through the paper backing along your line and then scrape out the foam filling leaving the other side of the paper untouched as you can see in this photograph:

In this example the gable end can now be glued into place leaving a nice neat joint when viewed from the outside. I tend to use balsa cement as it sets quite quickly and I then reinforce the joints with triangular fillets made from whatever scrap pieces are lying around:

Here you can clearly see the second gable end cemented into place on the back of the church fa├žade ready to support the roof:

All four walls in place and each corner strengthened with a couple of triangular fillets as mentioned earlier:

The curve on the front wall had quite a rough finish which I thought would spoil the look of the finished model:


To disguise the rough cut I faced the edge with a strip of tough cartridge paper and topped that off with a second strip to add a little texture, then I fixed the roof in place and mounted the whole model on a base to which I could add steps where the front door was to be placed:

I used tile textured plastic card from Wills railway modelling accessories for the roof and made a ridge tile from a bamboo skewer:

The door frame and a small recess were added along with corner stones, all made from thin plastic card or cartridge paper:

Various other courses of stonework were added in a similar way just to improve the look of the whole thing and add interest:

In exactly the same way I added window frames and ledges to both sides of the building:

I added a single large window on the back wall and noticed that the joint between the roof and the front wall was quite scruffy. To rectify this I ran glue along the joint and then put strips of thin plastic rod in place to a give a neater finish - you can see these dark coloured strips in the photograph:

The next step was to spray paint the whole thing. I used a white primer since I intended that the building would be mainly white when it was finished, and I gave it several coats so that the different textures of all the materials I had used would blend together:

 Finishing touches included painting the roof, doors and windows:

I added a cross which was just a suitably shaped section from the runner in a plastic kit, glued into place and painted.

Originally I had planned to place a statue in the recess above the door but I couldn't find anything suitable. As an alternative I found a picture of an icon on the internet, reduced it in size and glued it in place where it passes quite well as a mosaic:

Final touches were the use of different washes to give a weathered effect and detailing on the door.

The windows were simply filled in with black paint, I had wanted a stained glass effect in the large window at the back but so far I have not been able to find anything suitable.

Finally I placed the finished model in its setting, a small settlement on the edge of my sugar plantation with the Cuban jungle in the background.

Overall I am fairly pleased with the result and it made such a nice change from painting figures!