Wednesday, 30 March 2016

28mm VSF Spy vs Spy

During the First Great Steam War beginning in the second half of the 1870s every nation found its intelligence gathering services were stretched to the limit. Due to the demands of a modern industrial war the leaders of these organisations found not only was there a need for traditional spies operating within their enemies territories but military operations now sometimes required the services of their discrete agents! So a new breed of ‘field operative’ with both stealth and a licence to kill (yeah I had to get that in somewhere) emerged. Most if not all of these new era agents modelling themselves on the great British Spy of Spies Edward Bigger!

Here is what your typical Spy Organisations Field Agents looked like, they blended into Victorian era crowds seamlessly...

 Organisations like…

The British Empire’s SOE (Stealthy Overseas Executive)
The United States of America’s CIA (Covert International Agency)
The Tsar’s evil Third Section
And the Antipodean ASIO (Australasian Superlative Intelligence Organisation)

…began to field agents the like of which had not been seen before; these Western Ninjas were invisible when they wished to be and lethal beyond compare! Trained in the arts of culture and death these men found themselves in situations that tested them to the limits. They were armed with all the gadgets the latest technologies could furnish. Amongst the more common items they were supplied with was equipment like: quick firing grenade launchers, Multi-barrelled repeating rifles, rose coloured glasses and they all prized their Coal Fibre Vests, these were the latest invention from the Scandinavian inventor Alfred Nobel. The armour was made from condensed coal (AKA Carbon) which protected the wearer better than steel armour at a fraction of the weight. Agents from all countries typically wore long coats so they could secrete their armoury within their many folds and back top hats well because they were fashionable! There was a wild old wives tale doing the rounds at the time that these top hats could be thrown and featured not only a razor sharp brim but the attributes of a boomerang and would return to the thrower The agents always hid their faces with scarves.

Here’s a period picture can you see the two secret agents in it…

Look again closely at this enhanced version of the same picture can you see the agents now? Wow these men's skills are astounding…

The figures are more great sculpts from the Ironclad Miniatures VSF range, my painting doesn’t do them full justice and there are several more in this Evil Henchman range including my favourite one throwing a Looney Tunes looking bomb!

In the games where these guys feature their activities and abilities will be covered by special scenario rules. But in general until a spy actually fires or attempts to complete their mission even though they are on the board they are invisible to all enemies excepting of course another spy, the have automatic activation and high skill ratings i.e. never take on one in single combat, these guys never break they just die in the line of duty trying to complete their assignments...

Anyway more stuff soonish!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

VSF Ace Captain Charles Queensford-Smith Scores 10th Victory! AKA TOBSEN77 Dompfaff kit

The papers of London town ran special editions on the afternoon of August 31 1878 as news spread of ace pilot Captain Charles Queensford-Smiths tenth aerial victory! Excitement abounded as the good Captain who commanded the already legendary 266 Blimp Squadron became the first aviator to achieve such an audacious feat during the First Great Steam War. Her Majesty Queen Victoria was to have given a rousing 'Huzzah!' when she was given the news!

These are pictures taken from a Blimp 1 of Her Imperious Majesty's Aero Blimp Squadron 266 of Captain Queensford-Smith circling his tenth victim piloting his new Sopwith Blimp IV machine...

The skies over war torn Europe in 1878 saw a proliferation in manmade aeronautical conveyances some designed with the objective to simply spy on enemies while others were created with more lethal ideas in mind! These various contraptions came in two main types those suspended from balloons and those using mechanical power to create lift! They were all armed with everything from hand held firearms to the latest Tesla cannons. Amongst these newly named knights of the sky competition grew to 'down' as many opponents as one could to impress the world with their duelling prowess!

Captain Queensford-Smith from the antipodes took over command of 266 Blimp Squadron from Captain Edward Darling during the northern summer of 1878. Darling stepped down once the British Imperial High Command forbade him to fly any further combat sorties once he claimed his fifth victory. In their view it was bad form to place such a popular and charismatic officer in a position of high risk as it was calculated that few of the new pilots were lasting more than six weeks in action. Captain Darling strongly disagreed with this order but being a gentleman and officer could do little but obey it though it is said he did so only after giving his superior, Lord Kitchener-Bun (slightly funny for those in South Australia!) a damn good berating!

The TOBSEN77 Dompfaff kit (known in my time line as a Sopwith Blimp Mk IV) is another cool looking kit. There is no parts picture on the TOBSEN77 site but you get 5 resin parts making up the gondola and balloon, two metal MGs, a metal propeller, 4 cables and 8 cable ends. I ordered one of TOBSEN77s pilot figures to go with it. This goes together easier than the Blimp 1 kit as the cable end bits are in this case very useful. I decided to use only one of the MGs as it then lines up with the pilots hands I made the ‘stand’ from a paper clip.

There’s a couple of comments I can make from my experience with this kit firstly the balloon halves require some sanding to fit and careful assembly to look good (mine sre slightly askew DOH!) and secondly there no smooth section underneath to attach the nice (albeit a bit short) clear stand.

Here are some completed pictures of my single Dompfaff kit…

I have only the three TOBSEN77Libelle kits I ordered to assemble now!

Catch you all next time…

Sunday, 13 March 2016

TOBSEN77 Blimp 1 Kits

Blimp Squadron Tally Ho!

Well I like building my own VSF equipment but there are always many items on the internet that keep tempting me and some of TOBSEN77's 'aero' products are amongst them! I recently picked up a total of 7 kits as there was a 10% off sale on the site. All were various flying machines (even though I have completed one of my own and have another one half built) and they are IMO a quick and relatively cheap way of creating a "VSF Air Force".
Amongst the order were 3 Blimp 1 kits which will make up a section/squadron for my FUBAR VSF games.
Below is a picture from TOBSEN77's site of the Blimp 1 kit components, on  arrival it also included an MG and 8 end bits for the cables (which I didn't use and I found more of a problem then an aide when test fitting it together). There's no instruction sheet but it's pretty simple and the box cover and website have pictures to assist if required. I purchased three of TOBSEN77's pilots to go with this at the time of ordering.

The design of the kit is good it allows for modifications if you want and is quite a good casting. I found a couple of rivet heads weren't formed. Also the pillars on the balloon where the cables attach also contained a few hidden bubbles causing them to crumble I just rebuilt the affected ones with filler. Tobi from TOBSEN77 was happy to send me replacements when I informed him of this but for me it wasn't a major issue and I just powered along with the builds. I like supplying makers with feedback.

Everything went together well and from my experience attaching the cables was the only 'hardish' part, I super glued them to the basket/gondola first bent them to dry fit the balloon attachment points and then glued only after I was completely happy with alignment.

Here's my three Blimp 1's on the workbench:

A couple of things I would note are firstly there is no attachment to fit the supplied MG to the basket/gondola (a bit of paper clip wire sufficed to do the job for me) and secondly the stands supplied are great but a little low (I will eventually look at extending or replacing my ones).

Note the bombs are not part of this kit I added them to boost up the blimps capabilities when used in my games, I used paper clip wire (again) to create a release mechanism.

Some more pictures...

I can see myself buying from TOBSEN77 again as there are some good innovative designs there at what I think are good is a pity Bismatron is not available though!

PS I have no interests in TOBSEN77 Miniatures above is just my opinions...

Catch you next time!

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

1/56 APC Victorian Science Fiction Style!

Well it’s finally ready for action the VSF APC better known by the British Imperial High Command as the Armoured Steam Traction Engine and Battle Wagon Mk I Combination. These two vehicles came about as I painted up some VSF Engineers and as often occurs one thing led to another and everything spiralled out of control and the next minute I’m building a tractor and its accompanying trailer! Anyway here it is the Victorian APC I hope you like it!

With The Great Steam Wars engulfing more and more countries in 1877 the British Imperial High Command came to the conclusion the elite Royal Engineers required an armoured conveyance that would allow them to keep pace with the new steam powered armoured vehicles now in service and also let them approach their objectives unmolested. With the military industrial complexes diverting all their resources to building Armoured Steam Wagons and Landships another source for the newly required vehicles was investigated. Four companies which specialised in agricultural steam engines and railway locomotives were approached with the below specifications (these are just the major specifications the full list including drinking water storage, minimum allowed head height etc included over 100 items!).

A steam powered vehicle is required which fulfils the below requirements:

Has a combat range of 10 imperial miles

Is fitted with armour impervious to all but the heaviest artillery
Space is available for an 11 man section with their accruements
A heavy support weapon mount should be included in the design
The steam power plant should have a minimum of 20hp
The vehicle should have a minimum cross country speed of 8mph
Storage should be available for scaling and engineering equipment

A contract was issued to a Lincoln company, Ruston & Hornsby who can back with the novel idea of not a single vehicle but a steam traction engine with a separate trailer allowing for more flexibility than their competitors single unit proposals. Also by using their existing production steam tractor with armour added this allowed for virtual immediate delivery to the British military. The design of the trailer which received the title of Battle Wagon Mk I (War Wagon was often substituted by the troops) impressed the British Imperial Command so much they planned that eventually this armoured personnel carrier system would be extended to all foot units in a less specialised version, this of course would be only as budgets allowed for it.

The steam traction engine was as above one of Ruston & Hornsby existing designs with the conventional layout featuring rear wheel drive, front wheel steering, a forward boiler/funnel set up and the control compartment to the rear. An armour plate floor was added below the whole tractor, the cabin was fully enclosed and an armoured cowl was fitted to the front end.
Total Length 20 feet 4 inches
Hull/Body Width 9 feet 2 inches
Total Height 11 feet 4 inches
Top Speed 12 mph
Power Plant rating 22hp

The Battle Wagon Mk I was born on eight double independently sprung steel wheel sets which spread the weight load allowing for better cross country performance. It main specifications were:
Total Length 20 feet 2 inches
Hull/Body Width 7 feet 2 inches
Total Height 10 feet 8 inches
1 x 13" Mortar with loading crane and trolley and 4 rounds one of which is reloaded
2 x Disassembled Tripod Mounted Crank Handle Rapid Fire Machine Guns with 200
Rounds each
1 x Extendable Scaling Ladder
1 x Light Rapid Fire Carbine with 500 Rounds
8 x Galvanic Rifles with 75 Rounds each
2 x Boxes of Dynamite Sticks
1 x Barrel of Black Powder with 10 Fuses
1 x Box of 24 Grenades
1 x Rear mounted tool chest with hand tools, ropes, chains and scaling equipment
Extra coal for the Armoured Steam Traction Engine

With the new vehicle the Royal Engineers also received updated uniforms, these cobnsisted of a heavy dark blue serge tunic, reinforced leather pants, tall boot and topped off with a brass Minerva styled classical helmet! A couple of other items of note relating to their new uniform was; firstly the fabrics were impregnated with asbestos to help the men cope with the hot fetid conditions of the steam engines cabin and the battle wagons interior and secondly beneath their tunic they wore a composite metal and ceramic chain mail bullet proof vest. They were armed with, Light Rapid Fire Carbines, Galvanic Rifles and hand grenades making them amongst the most deadly of Her Imperial Majesties fighting units when compared man to man.

Tactical Doctrine for the Royal Engineers use of the Armoured Steam Traction Engine and Battle Wagon Mk I Combination was developed during training exercises on Salisbury Plain under the eyes of a group of experienced British officers. The doctrine basically boiled down to firing the large 13" mortar once at the units objective (it took too long to reload in normal battlefield conditions so a second shot was deemed an unsporting luxury), this was followed by a "charge" buttoned up at top speed to within dashing distance of the target at which point they would disembark and take their target, while the defenders being still stunned by the mortar round...easier said than done commented a sceptical Captain Darling once the documentation was completed to be submitted to the Imperial headquarters by the delegation of officers.

As an aside to the above Tactical Doctrine session Captain Darling was amongst those selected for this but he attended only fleetingly commenting as he prepared to returned to his active unit "I've allowed all the time I can here gentlemen there are enemies of Her Imperial Majesty that need their noses bent and backsides booted so I must attend to that promptly!" He was cheered by his fellow officers involved in the training exercises for his dedication to duty and ability to down gin in copious quantities!

Some posed photographs were taken during the Training Exercise on Salisbury Plain for Her Imperial Majesties edification here are a few!

This is a picture of Captain Darling posing with his fellow officers by the new equipment, notice the engine is still fired up and is belching steam!

This is a test firing of the 13" mortar before the engine engaes top speed for a charge, the officer delegation can just be made out on a hillock in the distance:

A series of pictures portaying the Engineers disembarking and capturing an entrenched artillery piece, the weapon is one of the new atuo loading guns of the Royal Artillery yet to be deployed operationally:

The Armoured Steam Traction Engine and Battle Wagon Mk I Combination setting a pulsating pace of 11mph on a rough track before the eyes of the officer delegation!

I hope reading this was time well spent. Next time more riveting stuff!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Armoured Steam Tractor Trailer Completed

Well Here is is The trailer completed (sans ladder) fixed to the Armoured Steam Tractor I'll put in another post shortly with more pictures and a bit of 'historical' blurb...

Only the 13" mortar to paint up now. I am going to release this to my gaming table sans ladder as I have no idea when I'll get them...

Today I fabricated the tow set up out of styrene sheet and tubing with some coat hanger wire:

Glued it place after giving it a shot of black spray paint:

And a test showed it all lined up well...woo hoo...


Well the Trailer is getting close to be finished! I've got some painting done, completed the wheel assembly, added some coal to the front of the trailer and glued the upper and lower hull/body parts together.

I still need to build the towing assembly, touch up some of the painting, complete painting the 13" mortar and add the ladder to the roof.

Here's some current status pictures, sorry they were taken with lamps on so there's some glare...

Not sure when I'll get the Plastruct Ladder part still waiting on my local hobby shop to get back to me on that I may have to order it online. Mind you I think this tractor/trailer combo can hit the gaming table while I wait for that!


Got a bit more work done on the trailer now I have the Lego wheels on hand, here's a picture of the wheels and the lower body/hull. The wheels are 18mm in diameter I used 4mm steel rod as axles and the head off a pin to be 'hubs' for the axles. The wheels will be light grey with brass highlights on the 'hubs' when finished...

There has been a change to accessories to be mounted on the upper hull/body and this will mean a change in equipment to:

1 x 13" Mortar with loading crane and trolley and 4 rounds one of which is reloaded
2 x Disassembled Tripod Mounted Crank Handle Rapid Fire Machine Guns with 2000
Rounds each
1 x Extendable Scaling Ladder
1 x Light Rapid Fire Carbine with 500 Rounds
8 x Galvanic Rifles with 75 Rounds each
2 x Boxes of Dynamite Sticks
1 x Barrel of Black Powder with 10 Fuses
1 x Box of 16 Grenades
1 x Rear tool chest with hand tools, ropes, chains and scaling equipment
Extra coal for the Steam Tractor
I was going to add a feature to the rear of the hull with a ladder like on old fire engines using the 9 pounder cannon wheels so they'd have a dual purpose but when I mocked it up it looked all out of proportion, so out with the cannon, wheels and carriage and the ladder will now be laid out along the right side of the roof. Also on the rear panel two viewing/firing ports have been added along with a tool chest.
Here you see the current front left view of the upper hull/body. The MG is mounted in a tray on the side its locking pin will be brass in colour and pulls out so the weapon can be removed. Near the front left corner topped with a silver disk is the mount where the mortar reloading crane is located when in use...

Here is the current the right rear view of the upper hull/body so you can see the newly added rear viewing/firing ports and tool chest (requiring rivets of course!) and the secound MG mount, I've pivoted the locking pin a bit to show it is movable...

Lastly for this update a picture of top and bottom together but there's still lots to do!


This post is especially for those of you that frequent my Blog in it I'll cover the building of the trailer that goes with my recently completed Armoured Steam Tractor. I usually post my work on a few Discussion Boards (helps spread the word of my Blog) but not for this item it’s a 'Blog Exclusive'!

As covered before my VSF Engineers require some armoured transport to carry them and their equipment into the heat of battle to complete their dangerous assignments!

I'll add a full 'historical' blurb for the trailer once it’s completed and I'll keep everything on the one post.

It will be constructed of styrene sheets of 0.5mm and 1.0mm and I'll be using 6 or 8 Lego wheels that are 17.5mm in diameter which are currently located somewhere in our great continent in the hands of Australia Post.

The footprint is 100mm x 39mm which in 'real life' means 5.6m x 2.18m.

For gaming purposes it is design to carry (in combat conditions) 8 or 9 men with the below arms:
            1 x 13" Mortar with loading crane and trolley and 4 rounds one of which is preloaded
            1 x 9 Pounder Cannon Disassembled with 12 Rounds
            2 x Disassembled Crank Handle Rapid Fire Machine Guns with 2000 Rounds each
1 x Extendable Scaling Ladder
            1 x Light Rapid Fire Carbine with 500 Rounds
            8 x Galvanic Rifles with 75 Rounds each
            2 x Boxes of Dynamite Sticks
            1 x Barrel of Black Powder with 10 Fuses
            1 x Box of 16 Grenades
            Extra coal for the Steam Tractor

Here are the first pictures of the basic hull/body construction. There are viewing/shooting ports in the two doors and body sides, I am hoping to make two an inner panels per side one with flat sides 'closing' he ports and one with half rifles sticking out ready to fire, but with variable numbers of figures with in the trailer that may not really work very well. The front trough will be a coal supply. The 13" mortar in the last picture is just resting in place for the picture once mounted it will be higher and pointing out at about 45 degrees. The loose hatch will be in the roof with a fitting where the crane would go, not sure I’ll make the crane as I can’t see the mortar being reloading in games it will take too long!

The Mortar is from Redoubt, the cannon barrel is from the Perry ACW Artillery set (if you have spares of these let me know!), the port holes are washers, the handles are bent paper clips and the rivets are sewing pins (lots more to be added yet):

hope you enjoy seeing this trailer come together!