Thursday, 18 January 2018

1/100 Plastic T-34/76 Kits - Part 1

Curiosity got the better of me and instead of just buying four 1/100 T-34s of the same make for my 'Project Kursk' I decided to buy different makes of model so I could compare them (I did something similar when I made some 1/72 wargame T-34 models). The models I bought were by Zvezda, Plastic Soldier Company (PSC) and Battlefront.

Note: As my project is a Battle of Kursk (July/August 1943) themed game, the Mod. 43 (Model 1943) T-34/76 (76mm gunned version) tank would make the most appropriate choice, so my purchases were based on this fact...

When reading about these various kits I noticed each seemed to have their own pros and cons and from my point of view, not one of them seemed to be the 'killer' T-34 kit that would make me plump for just that one manufacturer. So here's my overview of the three makes I decided to try out...

Sprue Review
I noticed immediately that each manufacturer had it's own ideas about what was necessary to make an acceptable wargame tank model. Zvezda takes a minimalist approach based on a strict budget, while PSC and Battlefront take the view that 'extras' and optional parts are what the gamer is after.

Both Zvezda (£3.15) and Battlefront (£5.95) supply a single tank in their packs, while PSC is more specifically geared towards the troop level game and their models usually come in a multipack (5 tanks for £18.64). However, a single PSC T-34 model is available if you go onto their website and look for their 'reinforcement' pack, which is an individual sprue of their T-34 tank set for just £5.99.

And here is what you get...




As you can see the amount of parts tends to escalate relative to the cost, even so Battlefront's two sprue set seems to offer very good value for money. While Zvezda does win the cost battle hands down you do have to bear in mind that with both PSC and Battlefront you are really getting two tanks for the price of one as they included the extra parts to make a T-34/85 variant turret which you can swap out. A nice option.

If, like me, all you want is the T-34 76mm gunned version the Zvezda budget kit makes sense. But having the ability to 'upgrade' your model by swapping turrets means that with PSC and Battlefront you can play games which are set from 1943 to the end of WW2 in Europe. The Zvezda tank is generally more suited to games set in 1943 to early 1944, the Soviets having accelerated the upgrade process from T-34s to T-34/85s in earnest in 1944 (the final version of the 76mm gunned T-34 was designated the 'Mod 44' - or Model 1944' - and was called the T-34/76E by the Germans).

A Model 1943 76mm gunned T-34 on display in Gdansk, Poland
Source: Wikipedia 
And so, on to the quality and technical authenticity of the kits. Let's start with those turrets...

T-34 Turret Components
All three turrets for the T-34/76 models are the late production Hexagonal Turret of the 'hard edge' (flat panel) versions equipped with the 76.2mm F-34 gun. This was indicative of the penultimate 76mm gunned T-34 version which was built from May 1942 to 1944, but is generally known as the Model 1943 (or the 'T-34/76D' by the Germans).

For complete list of the evolution of the 76mm gunned T-34 see: T-34 variants on Wikipedia.

Aside from the 'hexagonal' shape, this turret was an improvement over the original (model 1940-1942) T-34 turret principally because of it's two crew hatches in the roof. Amusingly, when these hatches were open, their side-by-side arrangement prompted the Germans to give the Model 1943 the nickname 'Micky Mouse'!

Top to bottom: Zvezda, PSC and Battlefront.
The Zvezda hatches are moulded into the turret component, but both the PSC and the Battlefront turrets have separate hatch components. Because you have to glue these hatches in they are slightly more raised than the Zvezda's, which I think looks a little better (generally the Zvezda's surface detail, while crisp and accurate, can be a little too subtle at times, at 1/100 scale).

Picture of a T-34/76 'Mod. 42' (known to the Germans as the T-34/76C) which
clearly shows the distinctive 'hand rails' which attached to the hull and the turret
so that infantry had something to hold onto when riding atop the tank. This '1942'
version of the T-34 featured a new shaped turret which were either of a welded
or - as in this case - slightly rounder 'stamp cast' made by the Ural or 'UTZM'
factory. Also note the 'Early Dish Wheels'.
One prominent point of detail that's a bit 'iffy' is the implementation of the turret's hand-rails, which were arranged around the turret's sides. Zvezda decided not to include these at all at this scale, while PSC and Battlefront simplified the rails to mere plastic 'bumps'. I can understand why they chose this very superficial means of embellishment at 1/100 scale, but I personally prefer Zvezda's approach of omitting these details altogether...

Left to right: Zvezda, PSC and Battlefront.
Finally, there is a bit of a problem with dimensions. The PSC and Battlefront turrets are a little too wide at the back, while the Zvezda's rear panel is the correct width.

T-34 Hull Components
Further dimensional problems are obvious in the difference in sizes between the three makes of hull. While the Zvezda and the Battlefront are similar in overall length, the PSC hull is shorter by a couple of millimetres...

Left to right: Battlefront, Zvezda and PSC. Note how shorter in length the
PSC T-34 model is.
Other differences - placement and size of detail - are relatively minor, though they do vary significantly stylistically. This is most easily illustrated by the differences in how the various tank's engine decks have been modelled.

As is becoming clear, the Zvezda model is the most historically accurate, while PSC and Battlefront have employed some 'artistic licence' in the way they have simplified certain detail...

Left to right: Zvezda, PSC and Battlefront.
The Zvezda detail is historically accurate, dimensionally correct and is also stylistically faithful to the original T-34 design. This is most evident in the engine's mesh grills on the rear hull, Zvezda's is a delicate criss-cross design, with PSC has gone for a very simple slatted design and Battlefront has a rather horrible over-scaled 'diamond' hatch. (I should also note that Zvezda was the only manufacturer to get the slightly rounded rear slope of the engine deck looking right, the other two went for a more angular look.)

Short to long, PSC, Zvezda and the Battlefront (though the difference
between the Zvezda and the BF isn't quite as noticeable).
However, I should mention that - in my initial builds of the three models - I have omitted a lot of the extra optional extras from the PSC and Battlefront kits that come already moulded onto the Zvezda model. Things like storage boxes and external fuel tanks (which, incidentally, the Zvezda kit does not come with at all) are separate components in the PSC and BF kits. I left them off so all three tanks looked externally similar, for comparison purposes.

The Battlefront kit, in particular, comes with a very good amount of 'extras', which allow you to vary the look of tank models - if you make a troop - or make slightly different versions of the basic tank. (Interestingly, it also looks like they include some extra parts not intended for the T-34 at all, but rather T-34 variants, such as the SU-100 tank destroyer. Presumably they utilise a common sprue?)

T-34 Tracks and Wheel Components
The Zvezda kit come swith a beautiful set of mixed ‘Half Spider Wheels’ and full steel perforated wheels. On the real tank, the Half Spider wheels were added at the front and rear to negate the vibration and wear and tear caused by the full steel wheels. These wheels are characteristic of late 1943 T-34s *only* (T-34/85s were not equipped with solid steel wheels).

Though I should mention - on a historical note - that 'Early Dished Wheels' (solid steel with rubber 'tyres') were also used on T-34 throughout their deployment, it just seems to have depended what was available in whichever factory that the T-34 was manufactured.

T-34/76 model 1942 at Kharkov. Note the mixture of all steel perforated wheels
and solid 'dish' style wheels with rubber tyres. The all steel wheels were originally
brought in when material shortages (particularly rubber) were at their height. As
the war progressed rubber became more widely available so all steel wheels were
withdrawn. By the advent of the T-34/85 all steel wheels were no longer used.
Picture source:
The PSC T-34 kit is equipped with the spoked type ‘Full Spider Wheels’. These came into use in late 1943 and so are suitable for late variant WW2 T-34s and very late war and post-war T-34/85s. The moulding is characteristically ‘chunky’ (for PSC) and the perforations in the wheels are not ‘drilled out’.

And Finally, the Battlefront kit comes with a full set of ‘Early Dished Wheels’, which were solid steel wheels but with perforated rubber ‘tyres’. Once again, these are common for both T-34s and T-34/85s from late 1943.

Summary: The PSC wheels, while adequate, are the least satisfying of the three makes (being a bit 'chunky'). The Battlefront wheels are nice and even show the correct perforations in the ‘tyres’. But the Zvezda wheels are magnificent (for the scale) and their only drawback is that they are specific to the T-34 *only*, while PSC and Battlefront have chosen wheel designs that are suitable for both the T-34 and the T-34/85. (Though Zvezda makes a separate T-34/85 kit with the appropriate wheels.)

1/100 T-34 models - Tracks
Without getting too technical, one of the most characteristic aspects of the T-34 series was it’s wide ‘waffle pattern’ tracks. Unfortunately, as is fairly common in 1/100 plastic wargaming kits this feature  simplified to various degrees...

The Zvezda tracks (right) look even worse than they actually are because I
had to sand down an obvious moulding seam that runs down the middle!
Of all the makes, PSC does the most commendable job of trying to recreate the texture of the T-34's track links. They do this by providing you with three separate parts to make one track set - a 'wheels' component, an upper track part and a lower track part. Once glued together, this multi-part unit makes a very nice representation of the T-34's excellent tracks...

Top to bottom: Zvezda, PSC and Battlefront.
Both Battlefront and Zvezda got for a 'one piece' track component, with integrated tracks and wheels. The way they have gone about this has its pros and cons, for while both have nicely done wheels (the Zvezda has, again, terrific wheels) both tracks have differing problems.

The Battlefront has had a stab at creating a track link pattern (inside and outside of the track), but it's a lot less detailed as PSC's. However, perhaps in order to tick all these boxes, the tracks are excessively and unattractively thick (which the T-34's tracks were not).

A nice shot of the real T-34's 'waffle' tracks. Source: Bill Maloney
Zvezda, on the other hand, has the thickness of the track correct but then have abandoned any attempt at trying to model the track pattern at all! Instead they have settled for a very unsatisfactory slatted pattern on just the outside of their track, perhaps in the hope that at 1/100 and on a table nobody would notice. Well, I noticed!

Summary: I'd love to have seen Zvezda compliment it's lovely wheels with lovely tracks, but it wasn't to be. Zvezda's 1/100 tanks have a poor track record (!) in providing an acceptable link pattern on their models. Battlefront has made a spirited attempt at good tracks in a one-piece format, but don't really pull it off. PSC, I have to admit, have taken the best approach to a satisfactory final product by making a three-part track system. OK, their wheels aren't the best, but out of the two - good wheels or good tracks - I prefer to have the acceptable tracks.

Overall Summary and Conclusions
Well, every manufacturers' set of components seems to have pros and cons, and my overall conclusion is that - perhaps - the 'perfect' 1/100 T-34/76 model doesn't quite exist. However, having said that - bearing in mind that these models are for gaming and are not display quality scale models - being too critical over details that will not effect the effectiveness of these models purpose as game markers would be a little unfair.

Still, even though much of the detail may not be fully appreciable at 1/100 scale at tabletop distance it's satisfying to have a model that's an accurate representation of a historically important tank. And so, which of the three models did justice to the legendary T-34?

It's actually easier to say which of the three that is least satisfying, and that is the Battlefront T-34. After building a couple of their rather nice M4 Sherman models I was a bit disappointed that their T-34s weren't of a similar standard. The main problem, from my point of view, is the level of simplification and how ham-fisted they have stylised some of the signature features of the T-34, like the engine deck and the tracks.

Battlefront's detailing can be a little clumsy looking on occasion.
While, PSC's T-34 - like the Battlefront one - seems a little 'chunky' (and occasionally over-scaled) in it's depiction of certain features, the moulding does seem a little cleaner and crisper. In fact, this reminds me of one of my main niggles with the Battlefront model - the sprue attachment points are far too thick and can cause problems when trying to separate the part from the sprue cleanly!

Battlefront sprue attachment points - lots to trim off!
It's not a huge deal, but is a bit annoying as not matter how careful you try to be when trimming the tabs off they sometime leave a bit of a mark on the model surfaces. I only mention it as both Zvezda and PSC managed to use thinner and more discrete sprue attachment points that did not impact the model themselves.

In the end, just a little too untidy for me. Even all Battlefront's extras couldn't
win me over!
So, third place to Battlefront, but out of Zvezda and PSC is the best 1/100 plastic T-34 kit?

Well, I'd love to say Zvezda. It has so much going for it, undoubtedly it is the most technically authentic looking. I love it...But those tracks! If I could have the Zvezda turret and hull, but the PSC's tracks incorporating Zvezda's Half Spider Wheels I really think you would have a fantastic 1/100 Mod. 43 T-34/76. But, that's not the case. 😭

What I think people really want to know is if I could only buy just one make, which one would it be?

I would have to plump for the PSC T-34 set as the best all-rounder, with the caveat that if cost is your primary concern then the Zvezda is the best alternative choice.

Isn't she lovely! (Just don't look at the tracks, this is her best angle.)
The PSC is a chunky monkey - though ironically the smallest of the models of the group - but the detail is crisp and over-scaled with a purpose. Given the small scale the slightly exaggerated detail is great for war-game painters, allowing salient features to be picked out even at tabletop distance.

One cannot ignore the extras one gets with the PSC sprue, it may not be as much as Battlefront gives you but it is a nice little selection of parts and even comes with a commander figure. (One thing I do like about Battlefront's options is that it does come with the Mod. 44 raised commander's cupola allowing you to make the final version of the T-34/76.)

Battlefront and PSC both give you optional parts to make open turret hatches and both BF & PSC give you the option to build a T-34/85 turret with which you can alternatively equip your tank. Very handy. (Though, here is one area PSC falls down - with it's famously horrendous 85mm T-34/85 gun which is grossly over-sized, looking much more like a 120mm gun.)

The bottom line is that as a war gamer you will probably want to buy several models of the T-34 to play with - to make up a tank troop - and with PSC offering a five tank box set (with the cost working out at just £3.75 a tank) the extra variety made available with the optional parts is an attractive feature. Whereas the simple - although beautiful - Zvezda's lack of options means that you would have to make your own extras to provide a bit of variety.

Not outstanding, but a competent all-rounder. Just like the real T-34 really!
...It's tempting to just ignore Zvezda's pathetic tracks for the price. But, PSC's overall package of tidy detailing and ability to add some extras should you want them ultimately wins the day (in 1/100 scale at least).

In Part 2: I see what these little beasts look like painted.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Stash Update - 'Project Kursk' Part 1

As my practice IS-2 comes to completion I want to move quickly onto shifting some of the backlog of projects that I had collected last year. Not quite ready to just straight back into my 'Finnish Continuation War' project, I'm moving onto one of my secondary project activities - GF9 TANKS! 'Project Kursk'.

This idea was meant to be a be a slightly more ambitious GF9T game incorporating a greater number of vehicles (5v5 or 6v6) than my first few basic games of 3v3 tanks.

The last two models arrived over Christmas - having anticipated my return to modelling - and my Soviet force is now complete. Here's the 1/100 kit lineup:

• Zvezda KV-1 Heavy Tank
• Zvezda SU-152 Heavy Assault Gun
• 4 x T-34 model 1943 by Zvezda, Battlefront and PSC

The T-34s should be interesting. I have opted to buy examples of each of the three plastic kits available of this tank, from Zvezda, Battlefront and PSC. Strangly enough, I've made the PSC T-34 before, but in 1/72 scale (it's the same kit, simply scaled down). I like doing this sort of direct comparison and look forward to the builds.

Next: 'Project Kursk' Part 2 - German Force.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Back for 2018!

Hooray, my modelling mojo seems to be returning! 😎

After 2017's recurring illness and major creative doldrums, I feel reenergized for the New Year and forced myself to return to the Scarborough Games Society for its first session. They kicked off the 2018 season with a painting evening, an ideal opportunity for me to dust off my little workbox and get going again.

The SGS is my local port of call for a game of Gale Force 9 'TANKS' - the tabletop tank warfare game - and the addition of a special 'paint night' to their club meetings is a great way to kick start your 'army' construction for a game. Aside from my putting together my practise tank (yes, although it was a 'paint night' model construction is allowed) there were a number of other armies being painted by other members which ranged from historical (e.g. Bolt Action) to fantasy (Warhammer and some very novel 'Toy Soldier' figures).

I decided to start with a very simple 15mm (1/100) Zvezda IS-2 Soviet Heavy tank. Although I have a very large backlog of other projects, I did not want to jump straight back in with an ongoing model until I had gotten some much needed modelling & painting practise again.

Nice comparison shot of the IS-2 (front) compared to the later IS-3 showing
how Soviet tanks were to evolve. The IS-3 arrived just too late for WW2, but
gave the West a very nasty shock and initiated a rush for heavier tank designs.
(Source: Wikipedia.)
Also, I didn't want to make a mess of one of my 'good' models, so decided to start by making a completely unrelated test model first, before re-embarcking on either my Finnish, Kursk or Pacific projects. I happened to have the IS-2 knocking about my stash so it seemed a good candidate for a guinea pig!

The Zvezda 1/100 IS-2 'Joseph Stalin' Heavy Tank
Many modellers wax lyrical about the German 'heavies' - I call it 'Tiger love' - but I have always had a bit of a crush on the Soviet IS series of tanks. It was a long lived series which spanned the whole of WW2 and beyond, and was very influential (in the end, more influential than the German heavies) the development of Cold War tanks in both the East and the West.

Just 2 spures with 16 parts in total, not a complex job!
(Sorry about the naff photo, the lighting plus my awful
phone camera was against me.)
As usual, Zvezda have produced a very simple 'game marker' quality tank kit, with very few parts that simply snap-together quickly. Though, as usual, I took my time about construction as I looked for ways I could improve of modify the basic model.

To be honest, aside from the addition of some small items of storage, there isn't much more I would do to this model (aside from paint it). I've looked at quite a few reference photos now and - for a Soviet tank - the IS-2s seemed to run pretty lean (no great piles of gear strapped to the hull). I'm sure there was cases where the crew added plenty of stowage to the outside, but I'm gonna go with a clean look with this one. This, incidentally, suits this test project as I don't want to over-complicate the process.

The kit is the usual Zvezda 'Art of Tactic' fair with a minimum of parts (just 16) with much of the detail being moulded onto the components.

The detail itself is crisp enough (as usual with Zvezda) but the lack of options or alternative versions is the compromises which keeps the price of this kit low. By contrast the PSC IS-2 pack gives options to build either a IS1, IS85 or a IS2 and comes with a commander figure. BUT, it also comes with 5 tank kits and costs £19.95. So, you pay you're money and takes your choice.

Personally, I find the level of detail on the Zvezda perfectly acceptable for a game of GF9 'TANKS', in fact - for a war-game player rather than a committed modeller - the simplicity of the Zvezda model is actually a positive. If you twisted my arm for a criticism, I suppose - as usual - it might be that the track treads lack detail - but that's the compromise with one-piece tracks.

The end result is a nicely intimidating heavy tank which should put the shivers up even an opposing 'German' player fielding his selection of heavies. Combined with supporting T-34/85s and perhaps a heavy tank destroyer - like the ISU-152 - or more IS-2s, this model will make an excellent spearhead for a late WW2 Soviet assault force.

Ta-Da! Done, I will probably drill out the gun muzzle, but aside from that
she's ready for priming. Nice ease start to the year!

Next: Now to dust off my brushes!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Scratch Built 'Jungle Hut' - Part 2

Time to think about the roof and this will be a little tricky as I will have to come up with a simple method for modeling a grass or thatched roof. Now, there is numerous way you can model 'thatch' (or other grass-made roofs), including actually using fibers to lay down a mock-thatch, but I really want something 'war game safe' (that can take a lot of handling) and that is quick to apply.

Quick addition of a couple of rectangles of styrene card to get an idea of some
of the dimensions of my hut's roof.
I considered several different ways of modeling 'thatch' and also had several suggestions when I asked for some advice on some of the hobby groups I subscribe to. Fake teddy bear fur was one idea and gardening raffia was another but neither really seemed right and also they sounded a little too fiddly. Still, I decided to try out the raffia as it was easily available in a local store...

A little too 'Tiki Bar' for my liking!
It turns out that gluing strips of raffia with PVA is a horrible messy process and I don't really think it was worth the bother. It doesn't look 'scale' for 15mm and takes a while to do. The above photo makes it look a little better than it actually does in reality.

And sooooo...After looking at several interesting YouTube tutorials on the various way that you can model thatch, I am plumping for the following technique...

First question (if you are a Brit) may be 'what the heck is caulk'? Now, caulk does exist - much to my surprise - as a recognised British term, I just haven't heard it before (but plumbers and DIY enthusiasts will have). In fact - ramble alert - it is a historically old term which goes back to wooden ship building I believe...Anyway...

These days it is more normally known as an acrylic sealant and can be picked up really cheaply at Wilkos or other hardware stores (the one pictured on the left is just £1, but you will also need to buy one of those metal glue-pushing gun thingies if you don't have one).

Note: I've been told - on the Terrain Tutor's FB Group - NOT to confuse this product with silicone sealant. Acrylic sealant is easy to paint over, while silicone isn't.

So, before I squirt any caulk in anger, I must make my roof's basic framework. A few bits of plasticard should suffice, as I want a reasonably thin base, but I think that thin card might warp or deform with 'wet' caulk smushed all over it.

The good thing about a very simple base like this is that if things go wrong with my caulk-ing then I haven't lost much...

Now, the 'trick' - if you can call it that - to engraving a thatch pattern in caulk is to use a sharp cocktail stick and you will also have to keep cleaning the point as it soon builds up a blob of caulk on the end. So keep drawing you sharp lines and then keep wiping your point clean and you will end up with this (it isn't rocket science and there is no great knack to it)...

One of the good things about caulk - which, by the way, is the consistency of very thick yogurt - is that if you aren't happy with the way things are going you can just wipe it smooth and start again. It takes a while to dry so it remains wet enough to work with for a good amount of time.

Next: Well, hopefully, I can get the three houses for my Island village primed and ready to weather. Though I still have to think about the best way to base them.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Scratch-Built Jungle 'Hut'

Palm-woven dwelling designs vary across the Far-East and Pacific so I'm
going with a sort of generic impression. I don't want to model a building of
a specific location as I want to re-use these model for any Asia or Oceania
scenario or game.
It was always my attention to scratch-build a couple of island dwellings to compliment my Arcane 15mm laser-cut Jungle house, but the need to make my own buildings may be more necessary than I thought.  As it turns out, I am not quite happy with Arcane's scaling of their house model, I personally feel it is a smidgen bigger than the stated 15mm.

Another of Arcane's 15mm Far-East/Pacific building models. It's a nice model,
for laser-cut MDF, but one compromise is the roof which perhaps should be
palm thatch (which would be very hard to replicate in MDF). I'll probably
rectify this with my models though.
My criteria for judging a 15mm building's scale is quite rudimentary and is based on a 'standard' door dimensions - which I judge to be about 10mm wide and 20mm height at 15mm or 1/100 - and Arcane's doors and windows seem a little too large for my taste (especially next to Zvezda's M3 Stuart tank).

So, I'm making my scratch-built houses a little smaller (I'll still use the Arcane hut, but keep it separate from the rest of the island buildings - I'm thinking of using it as the Japanese HQ objective).

Kappa the Hut (Sorry)!
I'll be using 3mm foam board as the main building material for my huts (which we used to call 'Kappa Board' when I was at art school). It's quick and easy to cut out and put together a basic framework for a building with this stuff...

Er, yes...I am using spaghetti as 'bamboo' flooring!

Cladding the framework - Palm Woven Texture

The construction may be simple enough, but to get that native-made look I'm had to do a bit of head scratching. Many of these island (and Far-Eastern) dwellings seem to have woven walls made from dried palm leaf strips (which I believe is very fibrous and strong). Now, how do I get a pattern that looks like it's palm-woven?

Left: Palm-weaving. The newly harvested palm leaves are still green at this point, but eventually, dry out into a khaki beige colour.

Arcane went for a simple engraved checkered design which - in actuality - looked exactly like a 'brick wall' pattern. But it sort of worked (if you half-close your eyes). So, I decided to pinch the idea, tweak it slightly and here's my take on a faux- palm-weave pattern...

After a good search through all my various textured cards and whatnot, I realised that if I turned a regular 'brick wall' pattern texture vertically it kinda looked like a weave pattern (-ish).

A Note on Construction - 'Solid' versus 'Box'
While the GF9T game is seen as an entry level Segway or introduction to 'Flames of War', there is no infantry - or, indeed, any other vehicles aside from tanks - in GF9 TANKS!

Store bought 15mm buildings intended for FofW are of the opening box type so that you can place infantry inside them, but buildings made for GF9T do not need this facility. Obviously, if you think you might progress onto Flames of War you may want to make your scratch-built houses with removable roofs, but you do not have to. GF9T buildings can be solid (i.e. not openable).

Above: My 'box hut' on the left, compared to the lovely Arcane Far-East house
on the right. The Arcane's removable roof can be seen at the bottom and the
floor planking of the laser-cut model's interior is very nice.
This can make you building designs a lot simpler, particularly when making multi-storey houses.

Round or Flat Planks?
One small quandary is whether to make the outer frame and flooring round or flat/square planks. Arcane, naturally, went with flat as this suits laser-cut MDF models, but really native-built palm huts would have been constructed from the natural trunks of trees or palms, so would be round.

However, finding my cunning spaghetti plan for the wooden planks was a stupid idea I have now returned to bamboo skewers and cocktail sticks...

As usual, I'm making things up as I go along, but - in theory - this should be a simple enough model for me to get away with it. Once I have completed this first test design the further two huts I require for my game should be easier and faster to put together.

I'm using super glue to stick the wooden frame together and as usual, I'm sticking things to me more than anything else! I must really look into what kind of glue is the best for sticking wooden things together quickly and securely.

Anyway, super glue is doing the job and I was rather pleased with the job I made of the hut's porch...

Though, I am a little unsure just how high I should make the stilts that these houses stand on. I based my initial attempts on the stilts that the Arcane model has, but I'm now thinking these look a little low. I may double the height.

Well, that's it for now. I'll have to put a bit of a spurt on this week as I'm on a tight schedule with this project and I wan to start the jungle scatter foliage this week.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Arcane 15mm Jungle 'Hut'

With progress being made on the tank models for my planned Pacific Island scenario for my 15mm TANKS! game, it's time to start putting together some of the terrain. (I'm working on some sketches of what the 3" x 3" game mat will look like, with the Japanese defending.)

I am thinking along the lines of including three jungle huts and two Japanese anti-tank bunkers and a collection of scatter foliage to break up the line of sight. I didn't know where to start with the island dwellings, so I relented and spent some money on a pre-build which I intend to use as a template for a couple of scratch built houses/huts.

The pre-built model I bought is an Arcane Scenery and Models laser cut MDF Far East or Jungle Small House (£7.50)...

The model comes on two A4 sized 2mm MDF sheets and is quite easy to
Once you knockout all the parts you end up with a big MDF jigsaw puzzle! But the instructions are good and it's pretty obvious where everything goes...

And you quickly pop the model together. The fit and design is very good and PVA glue is only really needed for the external framework (but you can glue the whole thing together if you prefer).

Lasercut MDF models have a tendency to be a little blocky, but this one isn't too bad (the roof is perhaps my only niggle) and - in this case - the bare MDF colour looks exactly right. You could get away without painting this jungle house.

It will be interesting to see if I can replicate this design. 

Japanese Bunkers
Galeforce 9 games have some stats for the use of bunkers in one of their Normandy operation expansions (which are a free download from their website), but these stats are for a concrete bunker armed with the formidable German 75mm Pak40. The stats would have to be tweaked for a Japanese earth and log bunker and I will have to figure out what gun would likely be emplaced in them (perhaps the excellent Type 1 47 mm Anti-Tank Gun).

As to the design of the bunkers, I've been looking around for a design I can replicate and fount this one...

This is the Masterpiece 1/35 model, but it will make a good template for a
scratch built 1/100 version.

Way Down Deep in the Middle of the Jungle...
Finally, there is the jungle foliage itself and luckily The TerrainTutor has some excellent 28mm ideas for making wargame jungle 'scatter' that I should be able to scale down for 15mm...

Phew! A lot of work, but let's crack on...

Next: Scratch built Island Dwellings.