A New Range of Models

24 July 2016
Saxon Personnel Carrier

Saxon Personnel Carrier

Towards the end of last year I was asked if I could consider working with The N Gauge Society to  produce a range of largely resin models as loads for their existing Warwell and Warflat wagon kits, and for a new kit under development by them of a post-1975 Warflat.  The main problem with my pewter models is that despite them being hollow kits, they still weigh more than resin models and so raise the centre of gravity of the wagon and load.  I have largely overcome the stability problem on my own Haverfordwest layout by removing the floor plates from my vehicles, and adding a 5 gramme weight underneath them, and so lower the centre of gravity, as I have shown in a previous post.  However, there is still the problem of the weight of the vehicles, which limits the number of loaded wagons you can have on a military train on a layout.

I was initially unsure about this as I had taken quite some time in deciding which material to use for my range of models before deciding upon making them in pewter.  The idea this time was to get them cast by someone else who is currently doing all of the resin castings for the other N gauge Society kits.

Upgraded Scimitar (Life Extension Programme)

Upgraded Scimitar (Life Extension Programme)

I had a meeting with the Vice President of The N Gauge Society, and the person who is going to make the updated Warflat wagon, where we went through the various different options and possibilities.  All of the models in this range will be sold ONLY by The N Gauge Society.  You will have to be a member of this Society if you want any of these models.  I shall make the models for the Society, but I shall NOT sell any myself, at all.

My aim is to make all of the models in this range as either completely new subjects, such as the Saxon at the top of this post, or as upgraded versions of existing P G Models, such as the Scimitar LEP (Life Extension Programme) where the vehicle is a post 2004 version with a new diesel power pack/engine with new headlights, new stowage bins, new engine air inlet, new commander’s sight, and Bowman communications box on the side of the turret.

Humber Pig

Humber Pig

All of the models will be mainly made of resin, but some such as the Scimitar will have a pewter gun and track units.  Where appropriate, the plan at present is for the models to include photo etched parts such as stowage baskets and possibly wing/door mirrors.

Bv206 over-snow/amphibious vehicle

Bv206 over-snow/amphibious vehicle

Other vehicles to add to the range are the Humber Pig in its original 1950s version (suitable for the WWII version of the Warflat already in The N Gauge Society range of wagon kits) and also in a later form as used in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 80s, as shown above, before being replaced by the Saxon Patrol, which will also be considered, along with the Saxon Recovery Vehicle.  Above is the Bv206 over-snow/amphibious vehicle that is still in use by the Royal Marines.  I can clearly recall seeing a photo of one of these vehicles on a car transporter railway flat wagon, but I just can not find the photo anywhere.  If anyone can shed any light on this I would be most grateful as The N Gauge Society are also going to produce a model of this car transporter wagon.

The master pattern of the Saxon

The master pattern of the Saxon

Here is the master pattern of the Saxon.  I completed this just before The MAFVA Nationals in St. Ives in June so that I could take it along with me to show it to some of my friends before it went off to be cast in resin.

The master pattern of the Scimitar

The master pattern of the Scimitar

And here’s the upgraded version of the Scimitar.  Both of these models have now been handed over to the company that will do the casting and I am waiting to hear from them.  I have an expected delivery date of the end of September, but the models will not be available until some time later as there will need to be some time to develop the artwork for the packaging, instructions, and any etchings.  The other thing to consider is whether to release just these two models or to wait until more different types are available.  The release date will be down to The N Gauge Society rather than me.  So don’t hold your breath in anticipation just yet.

Two Scimitars at Haverfordwest

Two Scimitars at Haverfordwest

One thing that this will mean for me is there will be another train that I can add to my Haverfordwest layout, using the new Warflats, which probably will not be available until February/March next year.  I saw a train at Haverfordwest with just four Warflat wagons, one empty, and three with two Scimitars each, as above, and an empty Warwell.  A nice compact little train load.

I shall let you know how this develops, but there is one final point that I must stress.  These N Gauge Society kits are a new range that will be produced by me AS WELL AS my existing range of pewter kits.  There has been nothing new for a while as I’ve been working on some dioramas for myself and then making these two kits, but I do have loads of ideas for different pewter models to add to the P G Models range.

MAFVA Nationals & some new dioramas

6 July 2016
Rab's Commander & Challenger

Rab’s Commander & Challenger

I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the MAFVA Nationals a couple of weeks ago.  One of the main things for me about belonging to a national organisation such as the MAFVA is that you can meet up with people from all over the country rather than just locally if I were in an un-attached South Wales club.  One long-time friend of mine is Rab Burns who had come all the way down from Scotland to attend the show in St. Ives in Cambridgeshire.  Rab has made up a large collection of 1/76th scale tank transporters with a wide variety of loads.  He has also made up one of my Scammell Commanders and Challenger as you can see here.  I think he’s made a superb job of them.

DROPS with a Samaritan

DROPS with a Samaritan

Here’s another of Rab’s 1/152nd scale models, a Leyland DAF DROPS and Samaritan.  Mounted on a simple base with minimal groundwork, but enough to put the model into some sort of context.  Another nicely executed piece of work.

Stalwart Limber made up as a REME vehicle

Stalwart Limber made up as a REME vehicle

And finally, here’s another little gem from Rab, one of my Stalwart Artillery Limbers made up as a REME recovery vehicle with its crane stowed forward to maximise the amount of room for the crew under the tarpaulin over the rear body.  Rab won quite a few prizes at the MAFVA nationals for some of the other models that he brought along to the show.  He is an amazingly prolific modeller, and always to a high standard.

My new pylon diorama

My new pylon diorama

Here’s what I took along to the MAFVA Nationals as something new.  Not so much a military diorama as military vehicles in a civilian setting.  At the end of April I attended the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition as a trader and was next to Severn Models who make a variety of etched brass kits in several different scales, quite a bit of which is in N gauge, including this pylon.  I have thought about making a scene like this for some time, but wasn’t able to find a suitable pylon.  There is an N gauge one in the Scale Link range, but theirs has three arms, two on  one side, and one on the other and looks more like a French one than a British one.  There is also a pylon in the Kato range, produced by Heljan who I believe are a Danish company.  So okay for mainland Europe and Japan, but not quite right for the UK.  So Severn Models have finally filled what has been a big void for me.

I have deliberately shown it in my hand as every now and again I seem to get people confused over the scale of my models.  I recently had a series of e-mails from someone who wanted me to make a diorama for him as he had seen my work on this blog site.  I suddenly wondered if he was aware that my models were made to 1/152nd scale rather than 1/72nd and so pointed this out to him, and I’ve heard nothing more since then.  A pity really as I could have made what he wanted in 1/72nd scale, but just to make it clear, all of my dioramas for the last twelve years have been in 1/152nd scale.

A close-up of the vehicles

A close-up of the vehicles

A closer view of two of the vehicles.  Just bog standard vehicles from my range painted white to represent some of the vehicles used by Western Power and Distribution.  They have a large depot just down the road from where I live and seem to have some quite unusual looking vehicles.

Looking at it from the other end

Looking at it from the other end

Here’s another view of it, showing the Unimog at the other side.  I picked up the base at the On Track model show in Folkestone in February.  It was designed for a small vignette of two or three large scale figures, but is just right for what I wanted.  It is far more interesting to use an irregular shaped piece of wood rather than just a rectangle of MDF, which does have its uses, but not for this scene.

Abbot firing position

Abbot firing position

I couldn’t get this finished in time for The MAFVA Nationals, and didn’t want to rush it, so finished it of a couple of days later.  The original idea for this came from an Army Benevolent Fund calendar for 2006 that consisted of military paintings by Terence Cuneo.  The September picture was of E battery 1 Royal Horse Artillery in 1974 showing a Battery of Abbot self-propelled guns on an exercise in Detmold, Germany.  My model is not exactly the same as the painting, but is based loosely around it.

Another view of the whole thing

Another view of the whole thing

This is another diorama using wood as a base.  In this case it is a slice through a tree trunk with the bark still intact, which I think helps set the thing off nicely.  The trees and bushes came from a trader I saw at the IPMS Avon show in Thornbury (by the old Severn Bridge, same venue as the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition).  All of the vehicles on this diorama were originally made up as single vehicles to show my latest releases in my range of models.  They cover quite a few years with the FV432 being the oldest and the Ferret Mk.2/3 next to it the most recent.  They now have one base to show them off, which I think looks a lot more interesting than single vehicles doing nothing.

Unloading the ammunition

Unloading the ammunition

The position of the Abbot and the Stalwart is a straight copy from the painting.  All of the figures started off as a box of unpainted Preiser 1/160th scale German railway figures.  I altered their trousers and jackets by scraping with scalpel blades to make them look more like military trousers and tunic, and then I sliced off the tops of their heads and replaced them with pieces of plastic rod rounded off to form a helmet.  The painting in the calendar shows all of the crews in berrets, but the hard hats looked better to me.

The other Abbot to the front

The other Abbot to the front

Another view of the whole thing.  The Abbot to the front here has camouflage nets around both sides and front, with the one behind it having the net deployed by some of the crew.  Both Abbots have had their hull rear door opened up, to allow for the ammunition to be fed into them and to allow the fumes from firing the gun to disperse.

Looking across at the scne

Looking across at the scene

And finally, here’s another view of the diorama.  One of the big plusses for me about modelling in this tiny scale is that you can tell a complete story in a relatively small area,  This would be quite a large diorama in 1/76th scale, but there’s almost as much detail here in something that is half the size, and a quarter of the area (half as wide and half as deep).  The photos were taken out in my garden with a sheet of blue card behind it.

Visit to Middle Wallop

12 June 2016
A Westland Scout helicopter outside the museum

A Westland Scout helicopter outside the museum

My model club, South Wales branch of the Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association (South Wales MAFVA) used to consist of around four or five of us for a number of years.  In the last few years though we have been steadily growing in numbers and are now up to 14 active members, which is our biggest number yet.  What is particularly pleasing is that we all get on together very well.  We all come from a wide variety of professions/jobs, with three former soldiers who are always very helpful with any technical details, and we model in a variety of scales, nationalities and periods, and of course, all have an equal interest in model making.

A Beaver aircraft next to the Scout

A Beaver aircraft next to the Scout

A couple of meetings ago, one suggestion from David Burton was whether we could visit some museums together as a club.  One suggestion was the Museum of Army Flying in Middle Wallop.  The IPMS (International Plastic Modellers Association) are having their AGM there and one idea was to go along to the AGM, but it was felt that we would probably see a lot more of the exhibits, and it would be a lot quieter if we went mid-week, which is what we did a couple of weeks ago. Seven of us went along for what proved to be a fascinating day out.

A captured ZSU 23-4

A captured ZSU 23-4

The building itself doesn’t look that big, with a background of four larger hangers of the Army Air Corps behind it, but there’s plenty to see with some exhibits outside as shown here, including the Scout and Beaver above, and this ZSU 23-4 captured from the Iraqis in the first Gulf War.

A Westland Lynx in the first hall

A Westland Lynx in the first hall

I am currently making a series of dioramas with 1/144th scale helicopters and my P G Models pewter vehicles next to them, and so I was on the lookout for two helicopters in particular, the first of which was this Westland Lynx.  I have a set of two Lynx helicopters from Fujimi, with one as an Army helicopter, and the other as a Navy one, so it was good to be able to see this one.

Another view of the Lynx

Another view of the Lynx

As you can see, the exhibits are quite close together, so that they can make the most of the space that they have available.  Most of the helicopters have mannequins inside them, which is a clever idea as it gives you a better idea of the size of the aircraft.

A Skeeter

A Skeeter

An absolutely tiny helicopter is this Skeeter.  The British Army trailed some American helicopters in the closing stages of WWII, but the Skeeter was the first helicopter used operationally by the British Army.  I have got a resin 1/72nd scale kit of one of these that I picked up several years ago.

A Sioux helicopter

A Sioux helicopter

This helicopter brings back tales of the Korean War and in particular the TV series MASH about a mobile field hospital.  It was also used by the British and one of these is a member of the Army Air Corps historic helicopter flight that I saw in the air at one of the Larkhill artillery open days.  The Perspex bubble for the crew and the totally exposed engine directly behind it makes this helicopter seem particularly vulnerable to any ground fire.

The Bristol Sycamore

The Bristol Sycamore

This helicopter, the Bristol Sycamore, was the star of the day for me.  I recently bought a Revell 1/144th scale kit of a German post war Landing Ship Medium, which was originally an American WWII ship, used in the Normandy landings, and then post war by the West German Navy.  My idea is to make a diorama with this landing ship, with some of my Saracens and Ferrets (and maybe other vehicles from the same period if I can get around to making them) coming out of the bow doors in a beach landing.  To my surprise, the kit also comes with a model of a Bristol Sycamore, as used by the West Germans in 1958.  As well as this well preserved example of one, there were also quite a few photos of Sycamores in other parts of the museum showing them used by the Army as part of a Joint Experimental Helicopter Unit (JEHU) run jointly by the Army and RAF, so I’ve also now got some interesting ideas for a diorama for this model.  The kit comes with German markings, so it was particularly useful to see this one in British Army markings.

A diorama of the Suez conflict

A diorama of the Suez conflict

One thing that I particularly like about this museum is that they have quite a few boxed dioramas showing the aircraft and helicopters used by the British Army.  This one shows paratroopers being landed by Westland Whirlwind helicopters during the Suez landing.  All of the dioramas at the museum are particularly well made and well worth the visit.

A TOW armed Lynx

A TOW armed Lynx

The museum is made up of two halls.  The second hall had some big empty space in it as our visit was the day after a show at the museum on the Bank Holiday.  Even so, there was still plenty to see.  The hall has some impressive looking gliders from the D-Day landings, and also a Bell Huey as a captured Argentinian one from the Falklands War, and another Lynx in this hall too.  This one is fitted with the TOW (Tube launched Optically tracked Wire guided missile  system), now replaced with “fire and forget” missile systems in the Apaches with less need for the helicopter to be exposed to the enemy.

An RB-44 Fire Truck

An RB-44 Fire Truck

Tucked away in a corner was this Reynolds Boughton RB-44 First Strike Foam Fire Fighting System.  The plaque says that the RB-44 truck came into service in 1992, but was withdrawn from service in 2010 due to it being plagued with braking problems.  Not sure what has replaced it though.

Looking across at the airfield

Looking across at the airfield

The museum also has a good restaurant, with an outside viewing area that looks over the airfield.  This isn’t a particularly good photo, but the best one I could get of a Dennis aircraft refueller going off to refuel a helicopter that had just landed on the runway.

All in all, this was a really good day out.  As a first venture for our model club it was a great success, and we now intend to have several more visits to museums within a day’s drive there and back.

The Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association (MAFVA) is holding its annual National model making competitions next Sunday 19th June at The Burgess Hall, St. Ives, Cambridgeshire (not Cornwall).  There will be a number of us there from the club at what I can highly recommend as one of the best model shows in the country. If you want to see British military model making at its best then this is the show for you.

A visit to The Netherlands

8 April 2016

Over the Easter weekend I went with my friend David Burton from South Wales MAFVA (the Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association) on a visit with members of Cambridge MAFVA to  a show held by TWENOT – Tweede Nederlandse Organisatie van Tankhobbyisten, the Dutch Armour Association, to celebrate their 40th anniversary at the Oorlogsmuseum in Overloon, just north of Venray in The Netherlands.  This was the first time that I have ever attended a model show outside of the UK and it turned out to be an absolutely brilliant weekend.

We set off on the Thursday, which proved to be somewhat eventful.  I arranged to pick up someone at 4pm in Rugby, then go to Duxford near Cambridge for 7pm to meet up with Cambridge MAFVA and take some of their models if they needed any extra room in their cars, and then to follow them to the ferry at Harwich for 10pm.  Well, that was the plan.  David and I set off with plenty of time to spare, and then got stuck in roadworks on the M5, which delayed us by about an hour and a quarter.  We eventually got to Rugby by 5.15 pm and then did a mad dash to Duxford.  We got there at 6.55pm, with one of the Cambridge cars driven off and the other ready to go.  We followed them up until a roundabout near Stanstead airport where we duly lost them in the dark and rain.  Luckily David spotted a signpost for Colchester, so we followed that.  By pure good fortune, and a bit of wellie, about 20 miles further along the road we managed to catch up with the car that we were supposed to be following, and then got to the Harwich ferry terminal as planned.

 

My first view of The Neherlands

My first view of The Netherlands

The night crossing on the ferry went okay, although I didn’t get much sleep, and got up to see the ship sail past the huge industrial complex of Rotterdam and in to The Hook of Holland.  In the past as a married man I have done plenty of driving in France visiting my ex-wife’s relatives, but nothing for 21 years, and never in The Netherlands, although driving on the right hand side of the road is easy enough when most of the journeys were on dual carriageways or motorways .

 

The Nationaal Militair Museum

The Nationaal Militair Museum

We started the Friday by driving up to the National Military Museum in Soesterberg.  I was told that this has only been open for about 18 months, and is the combination of several older museums in to one.  I was expecting to see mainly WWII vehicles but was pleasantly surprised to see that they had a lot of Cold War vehicles on display as well.  The site looked like a large Cold War airfield, but discovered that it was in fact originally a German WWII airfield that was used on bombing runs to Britain, until bombed itself by the RAF.  It was later used post-war by the US Air Force.

Looking down on the main exhibition hall

Looking down on the main exhibition hall

Here’s a view from a balcony down onto the main exhibition hall.  They had quite a few aircraft on display, both hanging down from the ceiling and on display outside, and with a multitude of exhibits from self-propelled artillery and tactical nuclear missiles (Lance) down to DAF trucks and armoured personnel carriers.

A Ferret Scout Car

A Ferret Scout Car

I was expecting to see a Centurion, which I did, but one surprise was seeing this Ferret Mk.2/3 scout car.  I didn’t know that the Dutch used them. For anyone interested in Dutch armour I can highly recommend this museum.  The whole place is very light and airy with plenty of room around all of the exhibits.  The only slightly down side was that many of my photos were taken looking towards the glass panels of the outside, putting the vehicles into shadow, although you can see in the photos that there were plenty of lights on the exhibits.

The Airborne Museum at Oosterbeek

The Airborne Museum at Oosterbeek

We then travelled east towards Arnhem where we visited the Airborne Museum at Oosterbeek.  I didn’t take any photos inside this museum, but it was very well presented and graphically illustrated the horrors of war.  The visit started at the top of the house and worked down to several basement levels, ending in some large 1:1 scale dioramas of the streets around Arnhem.  Very powerful stuff and well worth a visit for anyone interested in Operation Market Garden.

From there we travelled south to our hotel in Boxmeer.  This was a former Convent that had been converted into a hotel with a blend of the old buildings with modern stainless steel fittings, which surprisingly complimented each other very well.  The highlight of the evening was in the restaurant where a single chef prepared a meal for the 11 of us that was absolutely brilliant.  We then retired to the bar where we gradually retired to our rooms for the night, with the South Wales contingent amongst the last to leave the bar.

Our stand in the museum

Our stand in the museum

We got up bright and early on the Saturday and made our way to the Oorlogsmuseum in Overloon which is a very pretty little village.  The museum also holds the George Marshall Collection of WWII American trucks, that was very impressive.  Our stand was linked next to the Cambridge MAFVA one, with another MAFVA member Yuri joining us with his wife.  David brought along a bright red cuddly toy of a Welsh Dragon, which may now become our club mascot.  You can see it to the left of our sign.  A little bit silly, but why not.  This is after all just a hobby.

A Dutch Centurion

A Dutch Centurion

I had a good look around their Centurion and was interested to see that it was fitted with the foul weather hood over the driver’s hatch, which you don’t see very often.  It would be an interesting model to make as it is a British tank, but with a different colour scheme and very Germanic looking smoke dischargers.

Part of the WWII American truck display

Part of the WWII American truck display

Here’s a view of one very small part of the George Marshall Collection that is huge.  The Diamond T tank transporter was shown here with a drawbar trailer loaded with wooden ammunition crates.  These tank transporters were used by the British Army well into the 1960s until replaced by the Antars, albeit with a new Rolls Royce engine fitted to them.

Leaving The Hook of Holland

Leaving The Hook of Holland

The two days at Overloon soon ended and then we set off back to The Hook of Holland for our ferry back home on the Easter Sunday night.  The journey there again proved to be eventful as we had an almighty storm as we went along the motorways and viaducts around Rotterdam, with horizontal rain and gale force winds.  When we got to The Hook of Holland the sky cleared, with everything set for our journey back home.  This photo shows the sun setting over the vast industrial complex of Rotterdam with a coaster sailing past us.

Storm Katie in the North Sea

Storm Katie in the North Sea

The journey home soon changed from calm to a raging storm, Storm Katie.  David and I woke up at 3.30am with the ship rocking all over the place in the gale.  The original plan was for the ship to land at Harwich at 5.15am.  We ended cruising up and down the East Anglia coast as far north as Norfolk for several hours (although we couldn’t see anything other than the white horses of the waves, and one other passing ship that you can see above), waiting for the storm to blow over, with several passengers, including some of our friends, being sea sick, although luckily not I nor David who has spent some time in the Merchant Navy.  We eventually landed at 1.15pm and gave our farewells to our friends in Cambridge MAFVA.

All in all, this was an absolutely fantastic weekend with plenty of new things to see and experience. The Dutch people, and our friends from TWENOT were all very friendly and helpful to us, and they all spoke really good English, which was just as well as my knowledge of Dutch is zero.  But the biggest thanks though must go to my friends from Cambridge MAFVA as it was each and every one of them who made David and I feel so welcome, and we just had a good laugh and plenty of jokes over the whole weekend.  Well worth attending.

 

 

An Evolving Design

18 March 2016

I have been a member of the Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association (MAFVA) since the mid 1970s, some 40 odd years ago, and have recently been looking at our Association’s logo.

The original design

The original design

The Association started in 1965 and was originally known as the Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Collectors Association, although the ‘C’ for Collectors has been omitted in this early issue of Tankette, the Association’s magazine.

A Tankette from 1970

A Tankette from 1970

I joined the Miniature AFV Association in the mid 1070’s, but have since managed to get some earlier issues of what I have always found to be a really useful magazine (only available to members, so you have to join our Association if you’d like to have it).  By 1970 (probably earlier) the Association had developed a logo that has continued in use right up to the present day.  The logo shows a line drawing of the first tank ever to be built that was made by the William Foster Company in Lincoln and was affectionately known as “Little Wille” after its creator.  This first tank was really just a design concept, which went on to develop into tanks armed with guns that were successfully used in the First World War.  Little Willie is surrounded by a 12 toothed drive sprocket from a tank, that is attached to the tank’s engine and gearbox, with the teeth locking in to the tracks and so, as the drive sprocket rotates, it moves the track forward or backwards.

The 1983 version

The 1983 version

My knowledge of the 3D version of this design goes back to when I first entered any models in The MAFVA National Competitions that are held once a year.  First places in a class are awarded a trophy and certificate, and the seconds and thirds get just a certificate.  So I’ve got quite a few certificates, but just a limited number of awards, that makes them all the more precious (not worth a bean as a resin casting on a bit of wood, but there was a huge amount of effort put in to making each of the models that won any awards).  At the 1983 Nationals I entered several 1/76th scale models that got nowhere, and a 1/35th scale armoured Bedford RL ‘Pig’ that won the award for the best Post War model in the competition.  You’ll see that someone has now made a 3D version of our logo.  My friend Paul Middleton, who is now the MAFVA President (which he well deserves) tells me that it is actually an escutcheon.  I had to look in my Oxford Dictionary which says that “an escutcheon is a shield on which a coat of arms is represented: a family shield”  which seems to describe it quite nicely.

The 1988 Nationals in Manchester

The 1988 Nationals in Manchester

Five years later I was at the 1988 Nationals in Manchester.  I had dropped off my wife and children to look around the city centre whilst I went to the model show. I can’t find any certificate to go with this award, so I don’t know what it was for, but you can see a further evolution of the “Little Willie”  surrounded by a mailed fist and with a red rose (of Lancashire?).

The 1990 Nationals in Glasgow

The 1990 Nationals in Glasgow

This was taken a stage further with a really well produced version of Little Willie, this time surrounded by a Scottish thistle to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Miniature AFV Association, and that the Nationals were held in Glasgow.  This time I can say that I was awarded this for either a 1/76 scale model of a Foden 8×4 Cargo Truck, or for a 1/76th scale model of a Combat Engineer Tractor, both of which won 1st places.  This is a particularly attractive design.

I was discussing the MAFVA escutcheon with Peter Bailey of London MAFVA at our Annual General Meeting in St. Albans last Sunday and he told me that he believed that this design was made by one person, but I now know that it was designed by Derek Hansen of Accurate Armour.  You can see that he has done a superb job in sculpting this design which still looks as good now in 2016 as when I first saw it in 1990.

The 1999 version

The 1999 version

It would appear that someone, somewhere later removed the thistle part of the design to leave the drive sprocket and the Little Willie.  My model club, South Wales Branch of the Miniature AFV Association used resin copies of this design when we held the MAFVA Nationals in Cardiff in 1998.  This one was an award to me at The Nationals the year later in 1999 for fist places in the classes for Small scale softskin kit – a Bedford TK; or for Small scale softskin conversion – Leyland DAF DROPS Truck.

A resin copy from 1998

A resin copy from 1998

Going forward to a few weeks ago, I was wondering what one of the Little Willie escutcheons would look like if I cast it in pewter.  The one above had been painted, so I took off the paint with Mr Muscle oven cleaner (make sure you follow the instructions if you want to use this as a paint stripper as it’s quite nasty stuff), and then used Milliput to fill in some gaps around the edges of the drive sprocket.

The end result

The end result

And this is the end result.  The pewter has ben cleaned with files and then rubbed over with a brass burnishing brush.  The sun has caught it at the top of the cog, but it is of a more even colour than it looks here.  Many previous versions of Little Willie have been made in resin and painted with metallic paint, but this is the first one actually made of metal.

I took some with me to the show in Folkestone (see my last post) where I gave Paul Middleton some of them for use as awards at the 2016 MAFVA Nationals which will be held in The Burgess Hall, Westwood Road, St.Ives, Cambridgeshire PE27 6WU on Fathers Day 19th June this year.  If you want to see the best of British miniature armour modelling, and softskins, this is the show to attend, and also with one of the best selections of specialist traders as well  I sold several of these “Little Willies” at Folkestone, and also at the MAFVA AGM where they appeared to be very popular.

 

 

A Tale of Two Shows

11 March 2016

During February my model club, South Wales branch of the Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association, or South Wales MAFVA, attended two very enjoyable days out at model shows.

A side view of our stand

A side view of our stand

First off, on 20th February was the South West Model Show at the Fleet Air Arm Museum.  This is under 2 hours drive away for us, so is relatively local.  The museum itself is quite unique as it’s the only museum dedicated to the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy, and it is located on an active naval aviation air base.  Six members of our club attended the show, with a wide variety of models on display.  In the photo above you can see a well made 1/35th scale Challenger 1 and CrARRV from Dai Buckler, with some 1/76th scale British WWII dioramas from Mike Gill below that.  Behind those, on the table are some 1/35th scale WWII models from Mike Johns, who has attended this show for quite a number of years with me, with my models on the stand above his.

A closer look at Dai Buckler and Mike Gill's models

A closer look at Dai Buckler and Mike Gill’s models

Here’s a closer look at Dai Buckler’s 1/35th scale Gulf War (operation Granby) diorama,  Dai was in the REME attached to the RE during the first Gulf War, so had first hand knowledge of how the tank trackways looked.  Below that, Mike Gill makes extensive use of Artitec HO scale buildings in his dioramas with 1/76th scale British vehicles and figures in front of them.

The other end of our stand

The other end of our stand

At the other end of our stand was this huge 1/48th scale Hercules aircraft from Peter Denyer who is an incredibly prolific model maker.  Last year he attended this show with a 1/76th scale huge German rail gun, which generated a lot of interest.  Behind Peter’s Hercules are some nicely made 1/35th scale WWII dioramas from David Burton.

My models at the show

My models at the show

With six of us attending the show, and with 12 ft of table space, that meant just 2ft x 2ft each.  So I just brought along these four dioramas.  The Scammell Commander one is getting a few years old, but I still like it.  The other three to the front are all new dioramas that each have a helicopter as the main theme.

A Puma in the Gulf War

A Puma in the Gulf War

This one shows a 1/144th scale Revell Puma model in its Gulf War markings with a Bedford MJ and a Land Rover also from the RAF, all in the distinctive desert pink colour used by the RAF during this conflict.  By way of contrast, the Bedford MJ with tilt is painted as an Army vehicle in the light stone colour, with 1/144th scale figures from Preiser.

Our stand at Folkestone

Our stand at Folkestone

The following weekend was a complete contrast.  I attended the On Track model show in Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone with my friends and fellow club members Des Burgess and Paul Hennessy on 27th February.

Des' collection of models

Des’ collection of models

Des has been with South Wales MAFVA since the early 1990s.  He served with the 1st The Queens Dragoon Guards in the Gulf War and left the Army shortly afterwards. joining our club just a few months later.  He is a particularly talented model maker with a variety of subjects as you can see here.  Many are kits, but most have been heavily converted to make them into different versions of the vehicle.

A closer view of Des' work

A closer view of Des’ work

Both Des and Paul Hennessy are also members of the Modelworx on-line model club who were also at the show, so they were splitting their time between the two stands.

Paul Hennessy's fine display

Paul Hennessy’s fine display

Paul has been with us for just a few years.  In fact he had met Des on-line on the Modelworx site before he met him in person at one of our club meetings.  Paul is very talented at using paint pigment washes.  At a model show we attended at Barry Island a year or so ago I watched him put on umpteen coats of acrylic washes to very gradually build up the paint on the model, and very effectively too.  Way beyond anything that I do.

My little models

My little models

In contrast to all of the bigger scale stuff on our stand, here’s my little models at the other end, with the same four dioramas that I had taken to Yeovilton the previous weekend, plus a few more.

A Mountain Rescue scene

A Mountain Rescue scene

This isn’t a scene from an actual event, but I have been up Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons quite a few times (although not for a while now – must get up there again soon) and have seen the yellow Sea Kings up there many times.  This is a Sweet Decals model in 1/144th scale that I bought on e-Bay.  The yellow colour isn’t quite right, but it’s as close as I could get from a “rattle can”  I first brush painted it in the right colour, but left some horrible brush marks that I couldn’t get off.  So it was out with the “Mr Muscle” oven cleaner, sprayed all over in a plastic box, then washed off and gently scrubbed with an old tooth-brush, then re-painted with a spray can.  This model was the first time that I had used static grass with an electro-static discharger (a glorified tea strainer that has a static charge on it, with a lead from that to the model, to make the grass stand upright), and I was pleased with the end result.  The base is a slice of tree trunk with its bark still attached.  The figures on this scene are also from Preiser, but are 1/160th scale ones.

Humphrey the Wessex helicopter

Humphrey the Wessex helicopter

My other new diorama is this one with a 1/144th scale Mark 1 Models Westland Wessex Anti-submarine helicopter “Humphrey” that disabled an Argentine submarine in South Georgia before later use in the Falkland Islands,  The ground work is a sheet of rough grass from MiniNature, but it looked a bit too parched for The Falklands, so I used some snow effect powder that I bought at the IPMS Scale Modelworld a year ago that went nicely between the tufts of grass and achieved exactly what I wanted to show.  The figures are from the same set of 1/144th scale Preiser figures that I used on the Puma scene.

Change of Plans

7 March 2016

In my post on 10th January I showed some photos that I took of a Medium Wheeled Tractor with Class 30 trackway dispenser that I had been asked to make as a presentation model for the Port Operations side of the Sergeants Mess in Marchwood.  During the month of January I spent several hours most evenings studying the photos that I took and comparing them against the published plans on the manufacturer’s website of the vehicle that I wanted to make, totalling probably somewhere near 100 hours of work.  This is always one of the hardest parts to making a model as you need to work out what shape to make the parts and how they are going to fit together.

At the end of January I was ready to start construction, but thought it would be best to contact the manufacturer first to make sure that they were happy for me to make a model of one of their vehicles, since I know of an American manufacturer of construction plant who are quite strict on this.  It took me three attempts to try to get through to someone in the company on the phone, and was then asked to put my request in an e-mail to a person in the company’s design department, which I did that day.  I waited over a week and heard nothing, so sent another e-mail that did get a response.  I was told that my request had been referred to their legal team and that I should get a reply back by the end of the week, or the beginning of the next.  That was early February, and I have heard absolutely nothing since.  No acknowledgement of any of my subsequent reminder e-mails, nothing.  I have been completely stonewalled by the company.  To say that I find this extremely rude and ill-mannered would be an understatement. Not exactly a shining example of good public relations.

What this means is that I am now left in limbo.  I have told the manufacturer what I want to do and am left not knowing whether to proceed or not.  Clearly without any form of approval of my request I face a potential legal minefield.  After 30 years as a Trading Standards Officer I feel that I am sufficiently experienced, and a hardened enough cynic, to know when to hold back.

This has quite probably totally screwed my contact with the soldiers at Marchwood, which is the last thing that I wanted to do.  One thing that I hate is doing something that is a waste of time.  Unfortunately all of my preparatory work seems to have been for nothing, which is particularly annoying since I have several other projects in the proverbial pipeline that I could have progressed with.  On a positive side, whilst waiting I did not want to start any other master patterns so that I could start on this vehicle as soon as I had the go ahead.  As an alternative I have been making up some dioramas of my vehicles with helicopters which is something that I need for my display at the IPMS Scale Modelworld since this is largely a model aircraft show.  You can see some photos of my latest dioramas in my next post.

 

 

 

Cardiff ‘Small’ Model Railway Exhibition

26 January 2016
An unusual view of the layout

An unusual view of the layout

Last Saturday 23rd January I exhibited my Haverfordwest N gauge model railway layout at the Cardiff ‘Small’ Model Railway Exhibition that was held in the Scout HQ in Pontcanna Fields, Cardiff, with much thanks to my friend Mike Gill who helped me with lugging the thing there and back, setting it up, running it and bringing it back home, all in the one very exhausting day.  It was a relatively small show, as in its title, but with a dozen layouts, all of which were to a very good standard.

Looking down on the hall from the balcony

Looking down on the hall from the balcony

The show was surprisingly busy with a steady flow of people coming through the door right up until the end of the day.  My layout is just off the photo at the bottom, with a number of people looking at it.

Looking down onto my layout

Looking down onto my layout

From my own point of view, my layout ran better than ever before, but what a saga leading up to the show………..

Starting the rebuild

Starting the rebuild

It all started just days after I got back from the IPMS Scale Modelworld show in Telford in early November.  It was the last show of the year for me and I planned to spend the time re-working my layout in plenty of time before this show in January.  The last time I ran the Haverfordwest layout was at the Midland Railex show in Ripley 18 months ago.  Whilst things worked reasonably okay on the front of the layout, there were constant derailments in the fiddle yards around the back of it, and various problems with locos stalling on the numerous points/turnouts around the back.  The only answer was to make new larger/better fiddle yards.

The two new fiddle yard bases

The two new fiddle yard bases

Here are the two new bases that I made in the usual way with 2″ x 1″ frames and plywood tops, with cork sheets on top of the plywood to absorb some of the vibrations from the moving trains.  Not so much works of art as functional, as not many people see the back of the layout.

The new fiddle yards nearly completed

The new fiddle yards nearly completed

Construction of the new fiddle yards went well, with a more traditional arrangement than the overly complicated one I had before.  This time I have installed the point solenoid motors directly underneath the points by cutting holes for them in the baseboard.  The key thing to remember is that this is still my first and only model railway layout.  I may have over 40 years experience as a military modeller, but I still regard myself as a novice when it comes to working model railways.  Here’s the layout in early December, when I was expecting to take just a couple more weeks to finish it off.

Adding weights to the Warwell models

Adding weights to the Warwell models

I was working on the new fiddle yards in the day time, and making up some of the revised Warwell kits from the N Gauge Society in the evening, to re-work my train of Warriors, and to have a new one of FV432 Ambulances that I have photos of at Haverfordwest.  One big problem that I found was that when I put the Warriors on their risers and on to the new Warwell kits, the kits now have new parts to attach the bogies to, and these were causing the wagons to flop all over the place.  What I did for the Warrior train was to re-work some of my old Parkwood Warwell kits that I had from years ago, with just two pieces of plastic tube to locate the Gloucester GPS bogies on to.  I also added some 5 gramme weights under each wagon that I bought from a shop that specialises in model aircraft (they are used to add weight to the nose of model aircraft so that they will sit squarely on their model runway, rather than nose up).  The weights come with self-adhesive strips underneath them, but these make the weights protrude below the sides of the wagon, so I took off the strips and fixed the weights in place with some Araldite.  The newer Warwell kits from the N gauge Society were used for the FV432 ambulances, which are smaller vehicles than the Warriors, and without the need for a riser, but with weights put underneath them as well to improve their stability.  All of the weight were painted in the same colour green as the wagons and were not at all visible.

The Layout set up in my lounge

The Layout set up in my lounge

The only thing left to do was to sort out the electrics.  I worked out exactly what had to be done, and whilst I am no electrician, it seemed to go okay.  Still with plenty of time before the show in January, I set up the whole thing in my lounge as you can see above, to test it out, and nothing!  No power, nothing moving!  I then spent ages opening up the various connectors to find several loose wires that must have come loose on the journey back from Derbyshire, and found that some of my new connections that I had made for the new fiddle yards also needed re-soldering.  Even worse, I found that I had connected some wires into the wrong connectors in some of the ‘D’ connectors between the base boards.  Then partial success, but still with some bits not working.

I ended up, just days before the show, calling for help from one of my friends, David Burton, who is a retired electrician with years of experience, who offered to come around to fix it for me.  When he arrived at 10 am he said that he expected to take about an hour or hour and a half.  Eventually he finished three and a half hours later at 1.30 pm, still unable to sort out some of the points at the back, but at least I could run trains around the layout.  A huge big massive thank you to David for getting the thing running.  I was seriously thinking of having to put on a display of static railway dioramas, but David managed to save the day after much head scratching and puzzling.

The Warrior train speeding through

The Warrior train speeding through

What was pleasing was that all of the work in fixing the electrics seemed to have paid off.  After David had left me, I spent the rest of the day going over all of the joins between bases as there must have been some movement of the frames and plywood tops, creating some differences in the level of the rails between bases. These were corrected by gently filing the raised rail to get it down to the level of the lower one.   After all of the huge amount of effort to get the thing going again, it was quite a relief to have it working.

The two military trains

The two military trains

Another thing that was pleasing was that I had both military trains working well.  The new fiddle yards have less bends and now have large radius points to reduce the amount of swinging around for the trains, which has helped a lot, with nothing like the number of problems that I had in the past at shows.  The use of weights underneath the wagons made a huge improvement on their performance.  The train of Warriors worked all day without a single one falling off on to the floor, which used to happen frequently.  And similarly, the train of FV432 Ambulances worked without a single incident all day.  Previously I had used a selection of different types of bogies, but now having all wagons fitted with the Gloucester GPS bogies made by ATM made a huge improvement on the smooth running of the wagons.  In fact I would now like to add some more wagons with vehicles to each of the trains as I feel that they can both probably run okay with up to 15 wagons per train, which was my original target, but never achieved.

Meanwhile, whilst proverbially pulling my hair out with the layout in the day time, I’ve retained my sanity by working on the latest model for Marchwood in the evenings and hope to show more next time.

The Start of Something Big

10 January 2016
Medium Wheeled Tractor

Medium Wheeled Tractor

Last summer I was asked if I would like to attend a media day as part of Exercise Tractable at Browndown Beach on the Solent, which proved to be an absolutely fascinating day out.  A number of the photos that I took of this exercise were of the current Medium Wheeled Tractor, as in the photo above.  This one is fitted with a bucket and was being used to practice laying a Class 70 trackway over the shingle beach.

A few months later I was approached by one of the  sergeants I met during the exercise to see if I would be interested in making a model of one of these vehicles as a presentation piece for NCOs leaving the WOs and Sergeants Mess, in the same way as my models of the Ramped Craft Logistic and the Mexeflote are also used.  I agreed in principle to the idea, but stressed that I would need a lot more photos of it before I could make a model of it.  I heard nothing for a while and then in early December arrangements were made for me to visit Marchwood to take some photos of the medium Wheeled Tractor that they wanted as a model with a Class 30 trackway dispenser.

Side View of the Tractor

Side View of the Tractor

I was extremely fortunate to have one of the very few sunny days in December where I was able to take a number of photos of the vehicle.  Here it is with an empty Class 30 trackway dispenser attached to it.  The tractor has a quick release mechanism so that a number of different attachments can be fitted to it, namely, the trackway dispenser, a bucket, or a fork lift attachment.  For anyone wondering, “Class 30” indicates the weight of vehicles that are allowed to travel over the trackway.  So the Class 70 trackway that I saw at Browndown could take anything up to a Challenger 2 main battle tank, but the Class 30 is restricted to vehicles no heavier that 30 tonnes, which I think would cover vehicles up to the Leyland DAF DROPS, and all of the latest MAN trucks, but no more.

Close up of the front arms

Close up of the front arms

Since returning from my visit to Marchwood I have been spending some time looking closely at these photos to work out the shapes of all of the various parts I will need as a kit, and trying to work out how to make them, and how they will go together to form a completed model.  In military terms it is always said that soldiers “train hard” so that they can “fight easy.”  It is a remarkably similar process in model making.  Start by becoming familiar with the subject of the model and work out as much as you can in your head before you even go anywhere near the cutting mat.  That way there’s less risk of things going wrong when you do start construction.  All of my models end up as 9/10ths thought and about 1/10th actual construction, and it seems to have worked so far.

Looking down on the rear of the vehicle

Looking down on the rear of the vehicle

One thing I asked for before the visit was the chance to photograph down onto the vehicle.  With such a relatively large vehicle as this, when looking at it 1:1 scale you are looking up at it, and just notice the ends and sides.  However, whenever you see a model you are more likely to be looking down on it rather than picking it up to look at it sideways.  So, for me at least, I always find it important to try to get some views down onto a vehicle.

Looking down on the front

Looking down on the front

What helped enormously during my visit was that the Plant Operator, Karl was extremely helpful.  It was his suggestion to turn the vehicle around so that I could photograph down onto the other end.  These photos, taken from a static training barge, will be very useful in working out what goes where and also shows the shapes of parts that would otherwise be hidden.

Another view down on the tractor

Another view down on the tractor

Here’s another view from the barge as the tractor is being positioned for me to take the photos.  This is going to be anything but an easy project.  I gave the option of making it in 1/76th scale or 1/48th scale, and not surprisingly they have asked for it to be made in 1/48th.  That’s 1/48 and not 1/148, which will make the model about 17cm long.  This way, the model will be roughly similar in size to the RCL and the Mexeflote made for the Maritime Operations side of the Regiment.  Once done, Port Operations will also have a presentation model for their WOs and Sergeants.

The Class 30 trackway dispenser

The Class 30 trackway dispenser

The one thing that I couldn’t photograph during my visit was the Class 30 trackway dispenser with the trackway attached to it.  Trawling through my photos I found some of it on the 17 Port & Maritime Regiment’s display at the 2010 Royal Logistics Corps Open Day at Deepcut.  This shows the value of attending these Open Days as I have found on a few occasions that photos from these displays have helped fill some gaps in my photos of a vehicle.  For instance, getting the angles right on the front of the Mexeflote was solved by my photos from one of my visits to Deepcut.

3/4 view of the trackway dispenser

3/4 view of the trackway dispenser

Here’s a 3/4 view of the dispenser which in these photos is attached to the previous vehicle, made by Case, of the Medium Wheeled Tractor, which looks similar, but there are some significant differences.  The trackway and dispenser have been in use for quite a number of years and have also been fitted to the Volvo tractor before that, and I believe to the Michigan one before that, that was used during the Falklands war in 1982.

The front

The front

And finally, not exactly an inspiring photo, but this is the view from the front.  I shall try to take a number of photos of the model as it progresses, so you can see how I do it.  I’ve still got to try to make sense of a few bits, but I’m fairly confident how I’m going to do it.

 

2016 Prices

6 January 2016

All models in the P G Models range have been increased in price by an average of 5%.  This is the first price increase since January 2014 and whilst the price of the metal decreased again slightly during the course of the last year, in the last two years there have been annual increases in the cost of postage, and also for the bags and boxes used to go in the post.  There have also been slight increases in the cost of the mould making silicon rubber and in the cost of attending shows, both in terms of the cost of the stand, and the cost of the accommodation.   This price increase should help cover these additional costs.

Following on from my last post, the problem with my e-mails was limited to just three people.  My initial fears that my computer had been hacked were found to be unfounded.  I have since been given some software to look for malware on my computer, and just one minor thing was found, which has now been deleted.  However, there was a problem with the P G Models website.  I had a number of orders before Christmas that all went through okay, but just after that there were several orders that failed.  This was due to a fault in processing the payments.  The fault has now been corrected and the site tested and found to be working okay again   So, please accept my apologies if you were one of the people caught out by this error, and please try again.  It should work okay now.  If not, please let me know.


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