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Monday morning and I spent the weekend relaxing and thinking about what sub-projects are part of this lumbering behemoth that is this log.

The next few posts will show the key sub-projects and give a description of what I want to do with them.

So, in no particular order of importance.

1. The Macharius Salvation

Some time ago a fellow gamer contacted me regarding a forge world purchase that had gone badly wrong for him. Even though he was an good modeller I think he had given up on this purchase as a bad deal and he wondered if I would like the vehicle in question. We decided on a price and I eagerly awaited the arrival of a Macharius Heavy Tank with Vulcan Mega-bolter.

When it arrived I could understand why the gentleman in question had most probably wanted to sell it on.

Some parts had arrived broken from Forgeworld orginally and in a moment of enthusiasm the original owner had decided he could model his way around the problems. One of the original sponson guns was missing its cylindrical housing and an attempt was made to use Green Stuff to replace it.

Tracks were broken and the result was “Hidden”

Super glue and green stuff were generously applied around the model (with added fingerprints)

and finally .. as is often the case with Resin models the fit was poor.

These are possibly the worst aspects of the vehicle, however just generally there is a lot of excess superglue and poor fitting around the entire model.

“The Macharius Salvation” will be the recovery of this vehicle from its poor current state into something I could use on the battlefield. Initially it will be focused around filing down the excess superglue, filling in the cracks and gaps where possible and recreating the missing sponson cylinder from scratch.

Once that is done I will then try and add some new features and upgrades to the model before giving it the distinctive Steel Legion camouflage pattern!

It is a shame for such a lovely forge world model to go waste .. so its a unique “fixer upper” opportunity.

The next project I will be posting about later on today is codenamed “LRIWS” … Any guesses as to what that stands for ?

Some progress on Venator Faisal, my first Hunter of Sirius:

Basecoat all over, a quick Badab Black wash and some highlights everywhere except the left arm which is basecoated only.

The P3 paints are proving a little awkward to work with, or perhaps just different to my usual GW/Vallejo paints. They go on smoothly, consistently and with reasonable, if not great, coverage, all perfectly acceptable until at some magic instant the dreaded chalkiness appears mid stroke.

I’m thinning the paints with my usual retarder/flow aid/acrylic medium mix and it works fine fresh from the pallette but I have to work very quickly and wash the brush out much more often compared to other paint brands to avoid chalkiness. As you can probably see from the mini that’s making Faisal here look a little low rent and making highlighting my usual way (lots and lots of slightly lighter layers covering progressively smaller areas) a little tricky to pull off with consistency.

Still, I like the colour scheme, the grey-green and bone works nicely and the leather is OK, a little rich maybe, I’ll try to leach a little life from it with some washing and shading I think. Altogether I think it’s quite a suitable scheme for the Astartes.

But the real question is what colour the sword should be, I like the red pistol, I’m keeping that but I based the front of the sword purple on a whim and I’m not so sure it works. I had planned to try out the old ‘lightning’ effect on the purple to indicate the power-swordiness of it but the alternative might be a deeper, richer and glossier purple to try and achieve a crystalline effect.

Marauder ‘JO-D’

18.08.2009

POSTED IN Blog, Featured | 6 COMMENTS TAGS : , ,

So I’ve been thinking about my somewhat bodgy Marauder Destroyer mini. Some folks reckoned I should call FW and ask for replacement parts and I though about it, a lot, and eventually decided I couldn’t complain about a model I’d bought in January 2007 (I checked the receipt and damned if it isn’t 2.5 years!), I just don’t have that much chutzpah. I tried a few things to fix the thin patches and the wobbly bits and so forth but wasn’t really happy with the results. So I stripped everything back to bare resin and had a think about it.

And inspiration struck a few hours ago, I was thinking about Marauder ‘JO-D’ which I’ve mentioned in some of the 609th’s growing history and a light bulb appeared above my head. Why not make this not-so swish Destroyer JO-D? Nothing I’ve written precludes it that I can recall and I can always ret-con anything that does, right?

So below are some pics of an even more battered Marauder mini than FW sent me. In game it can either serve as a characterful mini or as an objective so that’s a bonus too.

The flak hole was created by the simple expedient of pressing gently on the razor thin resin area with a scultping tool. It’s quite  a nice irregular shape actually, it looks quite good. The damaged area near the port intakes/vents was just as thin but broke more regularly. You can also see a lot of the gaps that need filling from this angle.

Here I took the more regular broken resin near the intakes and used a good old fashioned pin vice to drill some holes representing small calibre cannon-fire. As a result of this damage JO-D has lost hydraulic pressure on the starboard side causing the undercarriage skid on this side only to drop free.

Flak damage = paper thin resin once more sadly. Or maybe it should be vice-versa?

Sadly difficult to see even after I played with contrast/brightness is the poor join where I had to glue the rudder back together after I accidentally snapped it while putting the rest of the tail together. I blame poor FW quality control rather than clumsiness for the damage on this occasion. I think this crack will stand out nicely when she’s painted and if not I’ll ink/paint/weathering powder the area so it does.

This last damage will be the crux of the matter in the loss of JO-D, for Marauders of all stripes are incredibly tough and this kind of damage wouldn’t down one. Those cracks in the rudder however would turn out to fatal and when the wreck was examined would turn out to be due to lack of maintenance. This lack would be traced to Wertheimer and his cronies and lead the their eventual arrests.

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And for those of you with wives/girlfriends/significant others out there, do you get this kind of reaction from your family?

I was doing my research on the IN the other day when my lovely lady wife walked into the study to find me carefully marking up a 40K novel like it was one of my university texts. She smirked, sniggered, patted me on the head and walked out of the room shaking her head and fighting a grin. I’m pretty sure I heard howls of laughter from the other end of the house shortly after…

Thunderbolt vs Fighta-Bommer

The air war over Armageddon was dominated by two types of aircraft - the Imperial Navy Thunderbolt and the Ork Fighta-Bommer. Between them these two aircraft would account for more than 40% of the air forces of the two combatants and more than 50% of the air to air kills during the war. As such it is worthwhile to compare the strengths and weaknesses of the two aircraft.

The Thunderbolt has been in Imperial service for centuries and has proven a versatile and robust aircraft, able to carry out air to air, air to ground and even limited orbital duties equally well. Manufactured on numerous Forge Worlds across the Imperium it can be found in almost every one of Mankind’s theatres of war. In addition to versatility and toughness the Thunderbolt also packs tremendous endurance and range as well as considerable firepower and maneuverability. The Thunderbolt’s key weaknesses are a relatively low cruising speed and poor top speed, indeed several types of Xenos bombers cruise at close to the Thunderbolt’s top speed, one reason that it is being supplemented in many areas by the Lightning interceptor.

Like the Thunderbolt the Ork Fighta-Bommer can be found across the galaxy, indeed it is nearly as widespread as the Orks themselves. Crewed by two, an Ork pilot and Gretchin gunner for the twin ‘big shootas’ mounted in the dorsal turret, the Fighta-Bommer excels in the air to ground role. With its high cruising speed and limited thrust vectoring capabilities the Fighta-Bommer is more than capable in the air to air role as well. Considerably faster than the Thunderbolt at cruising speeds, the Fighta-Bommer is hampered by poor acceleration, a lower operational ceiling and shorter range. These factors are offset by tremendous short range firepower and the toughness of crew and airframe which allows the Fighta-Bommer to pull off maneuvers other aircraft couldn’t even attempt for fear of structural failure or the pilot being incapacitated by G-forces.

Imperial Air-to-Air Tactics

Thunderbolt pilots rely on their superior training, sensors and ground control systems to ambush Ork aircraft where possible. Their greater acceleration and ceiling also lend themselves to hit and run attacks and most experienced Imperial pilots will maneuver to place themselves above a Fighta-Bommer formation before diving to attack and zooming back up to safety, repeating this attack until the enemy is destroyed or driven off. Given the natural inclination of Orks towards fighting and the tremendous endurance of the Thunderbolt it is not uncommon that Imperial forces are able to harass much larger Ork forces in this way for a considerable length of time, often forcing the Orks to turn for home before their mission is done as a result.

Experienced pilots avoid turning fights with almost all Ork aircraft but particularly with Fighta-Bommers. Not only is the Ork aircraft able to turn more tightly, thanks to both its thrust vectoring and the ability of its Xenos crew to withstand more G-forces than their human counterparts but even when an Imperial pilot out-turns his enemy he is often subjected to defensive fire from the dorsal turret before he is able to bring his weapons to bear. When caught in a turning fight Imperial pilots can resort to the use of the Thunderbolt’s rocket booster to disengage from the battle. Many Imperial commanders frown on such behaviour as cowardice, others simply object to the tremendous stresses use of the rocket engine under non-ideal circumstances places on the airframe and engine and such action is considered a last resort by Navy aircrew.

Perhaps the largest advantages Imperial aircrew have in Thunderbolt vs. Fighta-Bommer engagements are their much greater tactical and communications capabilities. Ork pilots are the most extreme members of the Ork Kult of Speed and rarely operate in a unified manner, this allows Imperial units to use ambushes, decoys and myriad other tricks to gain an advantage over their Xenos counterparts. Greater radio communication and better sensors as well as the many skilled ground/orbital fighter controllers in Imperial service also offer an advantage to Thunderbolt units. Finally the traditional Imperial tactic of flying as a pair affords human pilots greater situational awareness and offers a degree of protection not experienced by most Orks in air-to-air combat.

Also of note when facing Ork aircraft is the range advantage offered by Imperial weaponry. This allows Navy pilots to attack at medium or long range with a reasonable chance of a kill and then disengage using the Thunderbolt’s higher rate of climb and top speed before an Ork opponent can get into the effective range of their heavy but short-ranged weaponry.

Ork Air-to-Air Tactics

Ork Flyboyz, as the Xenos who fly these aircraft are known, are less inclined to the elegant aerial tactics of the Imperial Navy foes and prefer combat to be fast, loud, noisy and brutal. Their aircraft are designed for speed and close range firepower and it is in close ranged dogfights that Fighta-Bommers excel. Flyboyz are drawn from the Ork Kult of Speed and share the fellow Kultist’s almost physical obsession with speed, an obsession which often affects their decision making. For example it can cause them to attack at uncontrollable speeds where they have little chance of hitting an enemy or to waste the element of surprise in uncoordinated individual attacks where Imperial units would strike as a whole to cause much more damage.

They also generally lack the co-ordination shown by Imperial units, though a number of Ork Skwadrons did display considerable tactical skill and knowledge during the Third War. It is believed these elite ‘Deff Skwadrons’ were specifically created and trained by Ghazghkull to seize control of the air, an objective they managed in the opening days with the support of by their less skilled but much more numerous brethren.

Although considered mad by their ground bound relations Ork Flyboyz share many of their traits, including a certain base cunning and an uncanny sense for the weakest member or unit of a formation. They often exploit this skill by attacking the least experienced or least numerous enemies they face first before turning their on the remaining enemy and swamping them in typical Ork fashion. Experienced Imperial units have been known to use this tendency to lay traps for Flyboyz, a tactic that Captain Neymeyer of the 609th Fighter Wing would perfect in the opening months of the Third Armageddon War.

Where possible Flyboyz will mass in large numbers and attempt to overwhelm enemies with sheer firepower, Imperial pilots on Armageddon during both the Second and Third Wars often reported being outnumbered four or five to one and in the early stages of the war suffered heavy casualties when opposing the Xenos directly. In actual combat Orks will attempt to use the maneuverability of their aircraft and their tolerance for G-forces to out-maneuver their enemy before using the tremendous short range firepower of their aircraft to knock them down.

Final Assessment

In a one versus one fight between two pilots of equal ability the Thunderbolt has the edge over the Fighta-Bommer. The real life skies of Armageddon were seldom so simple however and myriad other factors played a role in the outcome of any dogfight. During the early stages of the war the Ork Flyboyz held the edge over their Imperial Navy foes. This was particularly so when they were led by the elite Deff Skwadrons whose tactics and actions, particularly their strikes against Imperial air bases and supply lines, would prove decisive early on.

However by the middle period of the war the the Navy’s Thunderbolt squadrons had once more, despite their dire supply situation, exhausted pilots and battered aircraft, had evolved a series of effective counters to both Ork numbers and the Deff Skwadrons and although unable to maintain planetwide air superiority could maintain local air superiority for moderate periods of time in selected areas. This in turn would play a large part in turning the tide against the Beast and his hordes and would ultimately be a key factor in Ghazghkull’s retreat.

A Brief History of the 609th Fighter Wing

Eve of Invasion

999.M41

One of the things we’re trying to do here on the BfA blog is combine modelling, painting, gaming and history. To that end I’ve begun to catalogue the history of the 609th Fighter Wing and hope to eventually produce a potted history in PDF form of the unit, it’s aircraft, notable figures, prominent battles and so forth. If you’ve ever seen the Osprey series of military history books you’ll have an idea of what I’m trying to do, just think Aviation Elite lite and that’s the aim. So, to begin with I’m creating a framework to hang this history on and I thought I’d do it graphically just to make it a little different and hopefully a little more interesting.

Brother Argos worked wonders in moments to come up with the silhouettes, I think they look pretty snazzy and the aquila background is the work of Madscuzzy from the Bolter & Chainsword forum, thanks guys!.

Below is the FOC for the 609th at the beginning of the Third Armageddon War along with some notes you might find interesting on famous (and infamous) members of the Wing.

(Please click for a larger, more legible version of the FOC)

For those wondering what the Thunderbolt (R) is, it’s an unofficial variant I was thinking of making, it’s simply a Thunderbolt with the weapons removed and a series of recon pods in their place, these pods would also be replaceable with ECM and ECCM pods to allow the (R) to accompany its brethren on strike missions and provide electronic jamming support.

Well the postman had a package for me this morning, sadly it was very damp, from the inside. This was concerning to me as I had recently got dangerous liquid chemical Ferric Chloride delivered!

It turned out to be something else entirely, it was the product I use for stripping paint off of old models. Now … over my many years I have had the pleasure of living around the world and for a few years lived/travelled back and forth between London and Long Island, NY. While in the states I found and used an excellent paint stripper for my models, that doesn’t harm plastics, metals or resins (disclaimer: always test something a little to make sure yourself) the sad thing being it was almost impossible to find outside of the USA. So after settling full time in South London, I was unable to get any more, and with all kinds of bans on travelling with fluids on planes, my chances of getting more had diminished, as had my stock of the product.

The product is called Simple green, I fill a small container, and literally drop the figure I want cleaned into it. Its possible to pull it out 20 minutes later and with an old toothbrush just wipe/scrub the paint off, or you can do as I do and leave it for a few days and its almost all fallen off. So far its worked on anything I have put into it even some old figures painted with enamels from ebay. Now with a vehicle you can just fill the bottom of a large bowl and do one side at a time, rather than waste a whole load filling the bowl, or alternatively you can fill the bowl and then filter/strain the old paint out and put it back into the bottle (using a funnel).

So as you can its good stuff, and hard to come by outside of Northern America, but as I was running out of it, I thought I would look to see if anyone was selling it anywhere in the UK before trying to order from the states. Well as you can deduce from the opening paragraph I did indeed find a supplier, it was Simple Green themselves in the UK, who had recently opened an e-shop for Europeans.

For UK & europe you can find it here: - Simple Green UK

In America its often available at Walmart etc, but if not it can be found here: - Simple Green - North America

Now be aware it can be expensive in the UK, however it is reusable and can last a long while. I haven’t tried diluting it personally, so if anyone does try that please post the results.

I will take some before and after pictures over the weekend so you can see what it does :)

Chimera Extra Armour

12.06.2009

POSTED IN Blog, Featured | 2 COMMENTS TAGS :

This is a small sub-project I have been waiting to do, I didn’t have the neccessary components in my Bitz Box for once, so I had to purchase the components. I had ordered the Forge World extra armour panels for the “Chimera” type vehicles. I thought the look quite appropriate for my Steel Legion Chimera variant vehicles, specifically as the Germans in world war two had used such “Skirts” on a number of their vehicles. Here as a reminder is a picture of the Forge World extra Armour: -

As you can see one of the Forge world panels is broken in the middle, and they are both warped / curved. However both of those issues are easy to solve in the big scheme of things. What concerns me more is the fact that if I use them every single one of my Chimera Variant vehicles will have identical weathering / damage patterns. Now if there might be one or two, that would be ok, however with a Steel Legion force I plan to field a number of Chimera and having them all the same damage patterns would annoy me. So I think its time to make my own version, which I can them reproduce, and add unique weathering / damage too as required.

First thing I need is some patterned plasticard with the appropriate sized squares on, a quick measurement later with my Digital calipers and I discover the size of each small square on the panelling is 3mm approximately. This was a little confusing, as I knew that Evergreen who make the squared plasticard that the original would almost certainly be done with, only make squares in 2.1mm or 3.2mm. So a few other measurements later and I found the winged skull, which was obviously from the vehicle add on sprue, had also shrunk about 1.5-2mm in width compared to a fresh original. This change in scale implied that the original piece when made had been larger, and had been reproduced in resin numerous times (2-4 times) before being finalised. Moulds often slightly reduce the original in size, this is normally not even noticeable or anything worth worrying about, unless producing machine parts with a tight tolerance. The shrinkage will become more important later on!

Anyway I ordered the 3.2mm Sq plasticard and the smaller size in case, from http://www.netmerchants.co.uk in their modelling materials section. I used Netmerchants as they have next day delivery and so far have not let me down on any of numerous orders. They delivered as expected, and I had to leave it all on my desk waiting for a chance to get on with it. Well suffice to say I had that chance last night, and I jumped into it with both feet first. As I had a “template” to work from, it was simply a matter of counting squares to work out the sizes for each panel. As you can see from the picture below, the squared panels and the back panel were easy to make. I think I will be able to get around 5 sets of extra armour out of a single sheet, which at £5 is reasonable, however there is also the cost of the backing plate sheet, at another £5. You can see the panels cut in the picture below: -

The image above also shows the holes being cut into the corners, used to fix the front and back plates together supposedly in real life. The holes will have hex bolts placed at the bottom and in slight variant from the Forgeworld original I will be trimming the 45 degree corners slightly more than they did. For the hole drilling I stuck to my normal pattern of increasing the hole size gradually, in case the plasticard tears or deforms. I started with a 0.5mm, then 1mm, 1.3mm, and finally a 1.5mm drill. You can see some of my Pin Vice drills in the picture, I must admit I generally purchase new ones whenever I see one in a shop.

Once the plates were stuck together, I placed some of the Brass etch hex head bolts into the holes, using the normal dab of superglue technique used I had mentioned earlier in the log. I continued building plates and did the one with the winged skull on, and finally the end plate: -

This image shows the finished work, it has not been weather or damage detailed in any way, as that process will occur after I have reproduced it in resin, therefore ensuring each vehicle will have uniquely damaged / weathered extra armour.  The frame on the back lines up with the top and bottom of the Side panels (the ones I was working on last week), and it is the side panels which will be magnetised for removal, therefore letting me add or remove the armour at will. The reason for that choice is because I will already have resin reproductions of my own side panels and the extra armour will be permanently attached to these and magnets placed to hold it all securely and tightly. You can also see at the bottom of the image is the top view, where I have more brass etch rivets to add detail, otherwise known as something to paint that isn’t flat.

Finally we can compare the two, they should look alike, but you can see on at the back how much the Forgeworld one has shrunk from the original size. I am pleased with the reproduction and now I can get on with the other side. The weathering / battle damage on the original helps to give it a lot of detail and interest, however with our prisitine version we can add that level of interest uniquely to each vehicle now.

On a small note, I am almost finished preparing a website for this log, and Tutorials about some of my work for the site, hopefully next week early sometime it will be ready.

Flaming Troopers!

9.06.2009

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One concern I have had for a while is how the rebreather and pouches on my male torso would affect various arm combinations.  In an effort to prepare for future sculpting of gloves and emblems, I gathered as many different Cadian arms as I could and test fit them to see if there were any problems. I was pleased that in most cases there wasn’t a problem, the two key exceptions were the Flame Thrower arms, and for want of a better description the “Carefully aiming” arms. I found that with careful shaving on the inside of the arm, which is out of sight, it is possible to get them to work well with the Steel Legion torso.

The flame thrower was particularly pleasing to get working, as it is one of the “missing” components from the steel legion range and part of the initial reason I undertook this project in some ways. Please bear in mind, no mold lines or barrel holes have been drilled, this was merely put together to see if the arms would fit with the torso using blutac, however the result was pleasing so less chatting and here are the pictures showing the flamethrower: -

I trimmed off the shoulderpads using a scalpel, and then used a combination of medium, fine, and extra fine sanding sticks to smooth the top of the arm.

Looking at the pipe running back to the tanks on the back, I want to replace it with some of the cabling from The Dragonforge which I normally use for the gas mask pipes. The reason for this will be the increased detail for painting purposes, I always find painting smooth pipes with no detail difficult!

I am not sure what to do about the lack of bedroll for the figure, when it is such an obvious accessory for all the other troopers, I might mount it vertically between the two gas bottles perhaps with straps going round, which would add some detail to the quite cartoony looking tanks. That makes me think of adding a small stop cock on the top of the valves too … for added detail.

I love the final shot, he looks so determined thrusting his flamer forward to purge all before him!

The Steel Legion are a mechanised infantry force, with over 90% of them travelling in a vehicle of some sort. Because of this they are notably equipped with a Las-Carbine rather than a more traditional Las-Rifle. To give some stability during shooting a folding steel stock had been added to the model of the Las Carbine, this is what I was attempting to model in the following pictures: -

This piece by Adrian Smith captures the feeling of the Steel Legion for me, it is the basis of all the work detail I am trying to put into them.