Tuesday 27 April 2021

Now what have I gone and done...

In a moment of weakness, (that may have included a lessening of restraint following alcohol consumption), I bought a 3d printer. In my defence, I have wanted one for a long time, but so far have resisted. The model concerned, the Anycubic Photon S is a resin rather than FDM printer, and was on special, and cost me less than £200 shipped. (Interestingly, the same model in black was about £50 more expensive..)

A neat little unit

So, hugely excited, I proceeded to try and get the thing to work. Hmmm. First find the files you want to print from, convert them into something that can be opened by software that supports your printer, and 'slice' them into the appropriate file format, pop that on the (supplied) USB stick, and press print..  easy eh? 

Well no - not exactly. A few abortive attempts later, I am gradually working out how to do this with a minimum of mess, how to use the software, and get some half decent results. 

The process is a bit of a palaver till you get it down..   level the plate after every two or three prints, keep the film in the resin vat clean, pop the freshly done print into isopropyl alcohol in a zip lock bag in my little ultra-sonic cleaner (a 1001 uses, and wargamers, impress your partner by showing how easily it cleans jewellery). Then expose to UV to cure properly. 

Also - be patient, even relatively simple prints will take a while at a decent level of detail. I have the Anycubic set to 0.05mm although it can apparently go to 0.025, but the time to print would be a major pain. Every so often, you may also get a failed print. So far, the ones I have had are due to the resin not adhering to the build plate, so fiddling with the settings will usually sort this out. My one gripe is that it can be difficult to tell the print has failed until well into the print process, so you can lose time and resin. 

There's a little bit of experience required to figure out whether you need supports, and how heavy and how many. Generally though - it's not too hard to get the hang of. And provided you don't intend to sell the results, there are a lot of free 3d files out there. 

So these are some of the results so far.

15mm Bren Carrier and 1/56 Ram Kangaroo

The Ram is kind of 'blurry' - these were my first two prints, and I hadn't got the hang of cleaning up the print, so the detail is not great. I'll cover the rear deck with stowage and it will be fine. The detail on the track units is actually very good. And removing supports takes some care, though the resin (which is the Anycubic resin that came with the printer) glues easily with superglue if you accidentally crack a piece. Once cured it is very sturdy.

A single piece BT7 with a Bofors gun in the background.

The BT7 was a Sketchup 2017 file (SKP) converted to an OBJ file, sliced using Chitubox. It's a very accurate sketchup, too much so for printing really, with very fine tracks and nose panels. I still have to clean up some of the supports. 


This is one of my favourite pieces so far, the level of detail is excellent, the gun assembly is printed separately.

Undercoated prints, Marder, Ram and Marmon Herrrington

The Marmon Herrington will be joining the forces for Malaya, and I am reasonably pleased with this, except I managed to jar the printer (I think) and there is a just visible line halfway up the hull.

Japanese Type 41 Mountain Gun

This is the latest print, not yet cured, and will get some cleanup once it has cured. The big advantage of 3d printing is that some of these models are simply not available or very hard to obtain as kits or models elsewhere. 

And I grabbed another sprue of Warlord Games plastic Japanese to make up the crew. Green Stuff surgery to reposition some of the more 'active' poses.

Am I pleased with the 3d printer? Yes. Do you need extra 'stuff' to make it work properly? In my opinion yes, UV lights for when sunshine is in short supply. sonic bath for clean-up (not essential but very effective), Isopropyl alcohol, and fresh supplies of resin. Do you need space? Yes, don't use without decent ventilation, and you need to have the room for the 'process' of cleaning and curing, as well as storing teh various bits and pieces, like paper towel, gloves, spatula etc.

Now, time to see about printing 3 Universal carriers at once.. :) 

Wednesday 21 April 2021

Japanese for Chain of Command

Quite some time ago, I was inspired to start collecting figures to play something World War II, a little bit different from the fairly standard fare of NW Europe. Back in 2018, The Tactical Painter was running a series of After Action reports on a campaign from Too Fat Lardies 2015 Christmas Special - covering the Malaya Campaign 1942 that ultimately resulted in Singapore being captured. I coincidentally picked up a Kindle copy of the 'The War Against Japan, the Loss of Singapore, Volume I' by S Woodburn Kirby.

Reading through even the official account, it was a litany of poor decision making, underestimation of the opponent, inadequate forces, poor organisation and lack of training, and of Japanese planning, leadership and flexibility. On the Empire side, with few exceptions, the leadership from Whitehall to battalion level was diabolical. Empire troops were thrown into line unsupported, ill-equipped, with virtually no training (some of the recently raised Indian battalions had almost never fired a rifle).

Leadership paralysis in Singapore saw a resort to the tactics of poor management since time immemorial, reorganisation. Battalions seemed to fall under half a dozen different command structures during the brief campaign. reassignment and poor communication saw troops being pulled out of prepared positions leaving neighbouring flanks hanging. Overall, it was a pretty object lesson in what not to do.   

The few high spots for the Empire troops were the courage of individual battalions and officers, in particular some Indian units, an Australian formation and the 2nd Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. (In an interesting aside, when the surviving Argylls reformed in Singapore, they were combined with Royal Naval Marines and nicknamed the 'Plymouth Argyll' after the well known football team.) 

A regular army battalion, the Colonel of the 2nd A&S was considered a bit odd by his fellow British officers for his insistence on jungle training his men. Conventional wisdom was that it was impossible to fight or move in force in the jungle and no opponent could conceivably mount a jungle campaign. Whether that was the difference or not, the Highlanders seem to have been used as a fire brigade in the latter stages of the campaign, and were the last battalion to withdraw over the Causeway into Singapore, pipes playing. 

Imperial War Museum via Wikipedia

Part of the appeal of this period is also the necessarily primitive equipment, so that materiel considered obsolete was often reassigned to Malaya and other secondary theatres. (One can only imagine the dismay of RAF and RAAF pilots, outnumbered and facing Zeros in Buffaloes and Beauforts.) So the 2nd A&S managed to acquire 5 obsolete Lanchester armoured cars, and possibly some Marmon Herringtons. Facing them the Japanese forces would make considerable use of their Ha-Go light tanks, relying on the lack of Anti-Tank capabilities to charge through roadblocks, and attack Empire formations with virtual invulnerability.

So having done some serious terrain modelling - 

I had a jungle, a couple of jungle huts, roads etc could be repurposed,  and at a pinch I even had railway track that would serve. I had a start made on the 2A&S, so it was time to work on their opponents. An anonymous Japanese army platoon, organised into 3 squads of 12 men and a corporal, a knee mortar squad of three mortar teams under a corporal, and the senior leaders, a sergeant and a lieutenant.

The core infantry plus an anti-tank team came from the Warlord Games Plastic Japanese. Supports came from 'The Assault Group' in the form of snipers, flamethrowers and a fixed mount Medium Machine Gun, Chi-Ha or Type 97 tanks from Warlord Games, (one resin, one plastic) and two Ha-Go Light Tanks, resin prints from 'Paint & Glue'.

So firstly, when I had a look at the plastic infantry on the sprue, I found them a little underwhelming. The poses looked a little 'overactive', and I also felt that there was a degree of stereotyping with some of the heads having prominent 'buck teeth' while there were also quite a few sprues with spectacles. (Ironically, replicating the views of many British Officers in Singapore who were very dismissive about their opponents!)

Once assembled though, and taking some care with the selection of arms and equipment, I think they build up into some very active and attractive figures. There is a nice mix of heads, some with bare helmets, some with mesh, and some in the cap. I was a bit disappointed that none came with the tropical flaps that attached to the cap, but those would be easy enough to add if you wanted to.

I had to fiddle a bit to get the numbers and poses sorted out, and rather than purchase an additional sprue to get more riflemen, I used some artistic license and used the 'flag' arms to creates some banner bearers. The Warlord box comes with three flags for the banners, but note that one of these is the naval flag, which is identifiable as the rising sun is offset from the centre of the flag. The easy fix is to trim one edge of the flag to centre it. It does end up slightly smaller but quite acceptable.

Three squads, the Knee Mortar squad is the thirteen men on the right. Supports at the back.

Still not sure whether I am happy with the basing. These are the Warlord bases glued to coins, then coated with a coloured 'goop' (a mix of paint and adhesive grout), then white glue (PVA) and 'Herb d' Provence' - a big bag of this will last for ever, and costs next to nothing. I feel like they need some more jungle.    

But they are done, they can expect to face the Argylls when we can get back to FtF gaming, and eventually, I will get round to painting a US Marine Corps platoon so they can appear in an island-hopping game.

The painting was very simple, Vallejo unless otherwise stated, undercoated with black car primer, airbrushed with Tamiya Dark Yellow, Helmets English Uniform, (Mesh dry-brushed German Camo Beige), green equipment is Russian Uniform, waterbottles, Chocolate, rifles Mahogany Brown, boots and leather equipment Leather Brown. The flesh is Flat Flesh, washed with GW Seraphim Sepia. I then went back and applied Coat d' Arms Dark Brown Super Shader over everything  other than the flesh, matt varnished, and added back in the Dark Yellow as a uniform highlight.

Now.. on to their opponents.. unless I get distracted by something else..  oops.. shiny!

Monday 12 April 2021

Hang on fellas, I've got an idea...

So as I now have forces for 28mm Ancients (Infamy, Infamy) and Arthurian Britain (Dux Britanniarum), I have been thinking about terrain. Hills, Woods, roads etc, not an issue. But nothing says period like a well done building or built-up area. 

So far, virtually all of my 28mm buildings have been MDF. Untouched, when they come out of the pack, and after assembly, they are barely 'Ok', in my view. The better kits, such as Charlie Foxtrot, and Supreme Littleness, have additional pieces like greyboard or additional details that make them look less like a flatpack IKEA building, but even then, they still need a lot of work to add texture and character. (The Leanach Cottage from Supreme Littleness is in a previous update -  Painting Catch-up)

I also hate it when my buildings look exactly like every other building on display. At one particular show, I think I must have seen the same 4Ground 15mm Normandy buildings on three separate tables. Nice, but clearly just assembled and otherwise untouched. So I am trying to add something of my own to all my building projects these days. 

Anyway, I spotted a Roman Villa available from Gamecult very cheaply at £13.50 and thought it had potential. It arrived today, and I threw the basic shell together while watching TV. Then I looked at it again, and realised that not only had I bought a Roman Villa, but with a Stanley Knife (a boxcutter to our US cousins), I had also bought a Mediterranean Farmhouse for Sharp Practice in Spain and CoC in Siciliy, and a colonnade as well.  

Basic Build

I will be adding brick paper, grout texture to the walls for plaster, and greyboard details to the windows. But it has additional potential....

The basic model with the surrounding roofs and pillars removed.

What happens when you trim the base off at the visible line... you can see it running down the side of the building. (Of course, this would be easier if you did this before assembly.... )

Roofing taped for gluing
Still looks the same?

Et voila!
But now the roofing is removable as a separate colonnade, leaving the central building ideal for a Mediterranean villa. Or a colonnade as a separate feature. I will have to reinforce the front section with scrap MDF for additional rigidity, but otherwise..  

'Toothpaste Squeezer...  couple of quid from eBay

Of course, I have marked the roof line on the original building, and will line this with a couple of courses of brick paper, so the roofs slide into place easily. The rest of the building will get tarted up with grout texture, brick courses at the bases, some vines growing on the terrace, some new doors and  so on. And the roof tiles? Well, a cheap toothpaste squeezer will give me endless strips of corrugated roof tiles for this and other similar roofs.  

Groundwork and Vines to do. Tiles are a bit wonky

WW2 Japanese Test Paint

It seems like a very long time ago, but I put together a mix of Warlord Games plastic and TAG metal WW2 Japanese for a Malaya campaign using the TooFatLardies Chain of Command Rules. 

Well, what with Covid, all sorts of other things happening in real life, and the usual 'Oh Shiny' distractions, they have been sitting on bases, undercoated, since January 2020. The usual little plastic and metal accusatory gazes have been bothering me for some time, so I have been making gradual progress, trying to do at least one colour a night. 

In the past, I have been guilty of painting with results that were better suited to close up photography (not too close!)  - but I decided these guys were getting a 'table-top' finish with emphasised contrast, and finished up a test figure to check the approach.

The base will have some added 'jungle' foliage using aquarium plant leaves, but I will wait and do that in a single batch at the end of the process. He does look rubbish in the close-ups here, but much, much better 'in the flesh'. 

For those interested, the base colour was laid down with a yellow-green mix - airbrushed Tamiya Dark Yellow with a touch of IJA Green. Strapping etc Vallejo Leather Brown and Russian Uniform, flesh wash GW Seraphim Sepia, then the uniform etc, got a thinned cover of Coat d' Arms Dark Brown super shader, and uniform highlights added in with Tamiya Dark Yellow.  The Russian Uniform was highlighted with Vallejo German Camo Beige, mouth Vallejo 'red'.

The foliage is mixed herbs d Provence, and there's at least another 60 odd of these guys to go.. massive platoon. Supports are TAG flamethowers, snipers, MMG, and I am going to have to scrounge up some crew for a 3d printed 77mm Infantry Gun.  Hopefully these guys will all be finished this week.

Sunday 4 April 2021

Painting catch up

Over time, I have picked up all sorts of bits and pieces to add to core platoons for Chain of Command, and these bits and pieces have been hanging around, in some cases for years. So I decided it was time to clear the decks a little and get a few things painted.  

Senior British Officers - BTD

Engineers - BTD?

6lb AT, I think Warlord with Westwind crew? 

Kradschutzen squad - BTD

Kradschutzen and an MG34 on tripod

Perry Italian Tanker on Tamiya 1/48 AB41

More Perry crew on a Rubicon M13/40

Warlord resin?

Blast markers and scatter terrain from Sabotag3d

Leanach (Culloden) cottage by Supreme Littleness

And finished...

My present to me.. it's a thing of great beauty

Oh, and it seems that while in my cups I may have accidentally ordered a 3d printer...  so I can foresee some serious misadventures with that coming up. What's an STL file I wonder...?