Website updated & news about me

26 November 2016

Just text in this post.  First off, if you’ve looked at my P G Models website recently you will see that I have altered all of the pages for each model.  Every now and again I get people ordering my models, and then realising that they are a smaller scale than they first thought.  I’ve had this several times with both the Scammell Commander and Leyland DAF DROPS models.  One of the problems is that if you do a Google search for say a model of an FV432, it’ll take you straight to the page on my website for the FV432, by-passing the front page where I tell people the scale of my models, and show a model in my hand.  This has now been changed, so for the FV432 you will now see:

 This is an un-assembled 1/152nd scale model kit of an FV432 that measures 35mm long, 19mm wide, and is 14mm high.  It weighs 24g and consists of 5 parts that are made of lead-free pewter alloy.

And the same for most of the models in my range.  You’ll see that it’s:

  • an unassembled kit;
  • that it’s made in 1/152nd scale;
  • what it is;
  • it’s dimensions (to the nearest millimetre);
  • it’s weight (to the nearest 2 grams – useful for railway modellers to see how many they can have in a train that is not too heavy for the loco to haul);
  • how many parts are in it (to give an idea of how complex it is to assemble);
  • and that it’s made of lead-free pewter alloy.

Hopefully that’s covering all angles that I can think of to try to make my models as clearly and as accurately described as I can.

At The International N Gauge Show in Leamington Spa back in September, just two months ago, but it seems a lot longer, I was asked by a few people if I could give an idea of when the vehicles I’ve modelled were or are in service.  This is something that I’ve been asked before, so I’ve gone through my reference books and have now altered all the pages of the website with this information as well.  So, for the FV432 again, you will now read:

 In Service – 1962 (as a Mk.1) then the Mk.2 around mid 1960s and now Mk.3 (upgraded Mk.2s) from the mid 2000s, still in service.

This gets a bit tricky for something that has been in service for such a long time as the FV432.  The actual mark of the vehicle is a Mk.2/2, so that would be more accurately late 1960s through to the mid 2000s, but these dates will give people an idea of when the vehicles were in service.  I have also altered my price lists, so these also now have the dates in service, although a lot more abbreviated than what’s on the website as there’s only a tiny bit of room to include this.

For some of the vehicles such as the RAF ones, I have had to guess on some of the in-service dates.  Whilst I was at the IPMS (International Plastic Modellers Society) Scale Modelworld show in Telford two weeks ago I asked a few of my friends who know a lot more about RAF vehicles than I do if they would check what I’ve written.  I’ll update this information as and when I hear from them.

MAFVA Chairmanship

The other bit of news is about me.  Back in the summer, on Father’s Day in June, I attended the Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association (MAFVA)’s National Competitions in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire.  This is always my favourite show of the year.  I’ve been a member of the Association since the mid 70s, for over 40 years!  Over those years I have made many friends from up and down the country and a few Worldwide as well.  The MAFVA has always given me much enjoyment and friendship which has seen me through hassles at work, then a broken marriage just as I got promoted, and then even greater hassles, followed by being chucked out through redundancy, and then dealing with cancer and a major operation to get rid of it.  And through all of that I’ve had the one constancy in my life in the form of my hobby, and in particular, the circle of friends in my model making association.  At the MAFVA Nationals I had a number of my friends ask me if I would consider standing for the post of MAFVA Chairman that was due for election at the end of this year, for appointment at our next AGM.  I gave this much thought and came to the conclusion that this would give me the opportunity to give something back to the association that has done so much for me in the past and has given me so many years of enjoyment, and continues to do so.

The latest issue of our MAFVA magazine “Tankette” was published at the start of this month where members were invited to apply for a number of posts in the MAFVA Committee, including the post of Chairman, so I applied for it with a nomination from my friend Des Burgess and seconded by David Payne, who I have both known for over 20 years, nearer 25.  I have now been told that I was the only person to apply for the Chairman’s post, and the current post holder did not re-apply,  so I am now the Chairman Designate (probably not “Elect” as there’s been no election) of the MAFVA, and shall take up the post at our next AGM in March.  This is something that I am very much looking forward to doing.

If I think back 38 years ago to 1978,  I was living in Croydon, my first daughter had just been born and I was a recently qualified Trading Standards Officer, who had been in the MAFVA for just a few years.  If someone had told me that I would eventually become a Chief Trading Standards Officer and later become the Chairman of the MAFVA, I would never have believed them in a million years.  But what is amazing is that both have/ are coming come true!  Quite incredible.

Didcot Model Railway Exhibition

1 November 2016

In having my little P G Models business running side-by-side with my Haverfordwest railway layout, I am finding that a number of people who started as just my customers are now becoming good friends.  One of these is Martin Cussell who is a member of the Abingdon and District Model Railway club.  A few months ago he asked if I would be interested in attending a show that his club were putting on in Didcot, to which I readily agreed that I would.

Looking down at the Goods Yard

Looking down at the Goods Yard

 

Following on from exhibiting my Haverfordwest layout at the Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition two weeks ago, last Saturday I showed it again, at the Didcot Model Railway Exhibition, just south of Abingdon/Oxford.  At the Cardiff show I was particularly pleased to have some much appreciated help from Neal Mansell, who is an extremely experienced N gauge railway modeller.  Neal has bought a considerable number of my models, and saw my Haverfordwest layout at the show in Cardiff for the first time.  After the Cardiff show he  offered to come along to Didcot to give me a hand, to which I readily agreed.

The military train being loaded

The military train being loaded

I got to the venue early in the morning as this was just a one day show, and I needed to make sure that I could set it up quickly enough to de-bug any running problems that I always seem to get at the start of a show.  I am particularly grateful to the help given to me by the show organisers who helped me unload the van that I hired to take the layout to their show.  This was done in a record speed with three of us unloading.  Neal soon joined me and helped me set up the layout in an equally quick time.  Having an experienced railway modeller such as Neal helping me out made a world of a difference.  In a matter of minutes we had trains working on the layout before the show opened at 10 am.  And yes, there were a few issues with wagons uncoupling, but not as many as usual, which was also partially due to exhibiting it just two weeks earlier where we managed to clear up a few long-standing issues that I’ve had with the layout.

Looking down on the Goods Shed

Looking down on the Goods Shed

I was joined at the show by my friend David Payne who is a long-standing member of the Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association (MAFVA) who I have known for many years, but he’s never seen my Haverfordwest layout before.  David is also an experienced military photographer (in ‘real life’ 1:1 scale) and has had his photos and articles published in a number of magazines.  All of the photos in this blog post are from David who has kindly let me use them here.  Photographing this thing is surprisingly difficult as you are trying to photograph some tiny little models that are on a 12 foot layout, so you need to get as much depth of field as you can.

A train of Warriors passing an Armoured Ambulance train

A train of Warriors passing an Armoured Ambulance train

I found that it is a really huge learning curve to have an experienced railway modeller helping you to operate the layout.  I may have 45 years of experience in making military models, but when it comes to things moving, and having electrical power to make them move, I am a complete and utter novice.  I keep reminding myself that this is my first model railway layout, which I am sure experienced railway modellers can spot a mile away.  Some of the tips and ideas that Neal had during the course of the day were extremely useful.  One simple suggestion was to run both my train of Warriors, and my Armoured Ambulance train at the same time, one clockwise and the other anti-clockwise as you can see here in the photo.  This is something that I’ve never done before, but as Neal said, the layout is a good showcase for my little models, and this way they can be shown to the maximum.

Later on at around lunchtime I was joined by my friend Mike Gill who had also offered to give me a hand with the layout, both during the day and also to load up at the end of the show, and back home to unload the van.  Mike planned to come to the show by train as Cardiff and Didcot are on the same main-line from London to South Wales.  However, at the present they are electrifying the line from Paddington in London through to Cardiff.  Mike managed to get a train from Cardiff through to Swindon, but then had to go on a bus from there to Didcot as the railway line was closed for weekend work on the electrification.  So his trip to join me turned out to be quite a marathon.  His help, especially at the end, was much appreciated.

The two of us behind the layout

The two of us behind the layout

And finally, here’s something you don’t normally see, me in front of the camera lens.  I’m the short fat hairy one!  It’s always hard work lugging this layout to and from shows, especially for one day shows such as this, but every time the layout gets exhibited it always seems to get a large amount of interest in it, which makes it worth the effort.

Thanks again to Martin Cussell for the initial invitation to the show, to Neal Mansell for all of his help, advice and suggestions throughout the day, to Mike Gill to help in operating the layout and the stuff at the end, and thanks too to David Payne for such good quality photos.

My next show will be as a trader with my P G Models stand at the IPMS (International Plastic Modellers Society) Scale Modelworld show at the Telford International Centre on the 12th & 13th November.  I shall be in Hall 2 in a similar spot to last year, but a few stalls further along, in block 2A, stall E6.

 

Revolution Trains TEA Oil Tanker Wagon

20 October 2016
The new wagon straight out of the box

The new wagon straight out of the box

Two weeks ago I had a nice surprise in the post, a parcel with a box of three TEA oil tanker wagons from Revolution Trains.  This is a crowd funding venture from Ben Ando and Mike Hale working with Rapido Trains who are producing a number of out of the ordinary N gauge railway wagons and locos to fill some of the gaps left by the major manufacturers.  This is the first time that I have bought something from a crowd funding source.  It has taken 18 months from placing the order to getting the models, which is a lot longer than buying something on E-Bay, but I’m told that this is a reasonable time for this sort of thing.  The main thing though is that it is a really good way to get something that other manufacturers consider not worth bothering with.

I ordered a pack of three to go on my Haverfordwest layout to add to my Murco train.  Until now the only suitable oil tanker wagons available have been the old Graham Farish ones.  They were slightly re-worked by Bachmann, with lower profile wheel flanges than the old ones from Graham Farish’s Poole factory, but are still basically the same.

The catwalks on the top of the wagon

The catwalks on the top of the wagon

It’s difficult to compare these new wagons with the old ones as it’s like comparing chalk with cheese.  One good example of this is with the catwalks at the top of the wagon.  The Farish ones are just a solid lump with surface detail, which probably was state of the art when they were first produced.  The Revolution ones though are made up from open metal mesh and so mimic the real thing and look immensely better. They also have the fuel discharge pipes that are completely missing from the Farish ones, plus a host of other details below the tank that are non-existent on the Farish ones.

A close-up of one end

A close-up of one end

The ladders at one end are nicely done.  There seems to be a good compromise between having scale thicknesses, and making them sturdy enough to be handled without the risk of falling apart.  The wagons also seem to have a complete set of markings on them.  I am a military modeller rather than a railway one, so I can’t comment on how accurate the markings are, but comparing them with the photos that I have of the real thing, Revolution Trains seem to have included all of them, and with good clear definition as well.

Time to get dirty

Time to get dirty

The only thing that I needed to do was to add a bit of grime to the wagons.  I walked past Cardiff Central station the other day and saw a train of Murco wagons going through.  I know this is now several years since these wagons came into use, but now they are absolutely covered in grime.  I spent about 20 years of my career testing petrol and diesel pumps (to check the quantity dispensed), so I do have some experience of handling petroleum products.  The main problem isn’t anything to do with stains from the fuel itself, which is either clear for petrol or golden/yellow-ish for diesel and between the two for Kerosene or Aviation Fuel, but a thin layer of fuel will run over the tops of the wagons when they are filled up at the refinery, and this thin layer of fuel acts as a magnet for any dust in the air, or anything kicked up from the railway track or brakes, or from the loco’s exhaust.

My favourite weathering material for locos and wagons are the Tamiya weathering sets, as you can see here.  They are a slightly waxy material that adheres well to the satin finish of these wagons.

Gently rubbing on the grime

Gently rubbing on the grime

The main colour that I used was “Mud.”  The Tamiya packs come with an applicator with a foam rubber pad at one end and a brush at the other.  In this pack the foam rubber pad had worn away, and so I used a cotton bud instead, which worked equally as well.  I applied the material in downward strokes, to get the streaking effect of the real thing.  You will also need to make sure that you get some around the base of the catwalks, but you need to be careful doing this.  I accidentally broke off one of the catwalk side extensions over the filler cap with some slightly too vigorous weathering.  This was easily corrected by using some Deluxe Materials Aliphatic glue applied to the pins that were put back into the holes that it came out of.  This particular adhesive sets a lot slower than any of the cyanoacrylate super glues, but you can easily wipe off any excess glue, and it dries completely clear like PVA White Wood Glue, but with a lot stronger bond.

Two filler points weathered

Two filler points weathered

In this photo you can compare the filler cap to the left that is un-weathered with the other two that have been.  For the timescale of my layout these would have been brand new wagons, and so just some light weathering was all that was needed.

And a little muck over the bogies

And a little muck over the bogies

The only other thing to do was to add some “Sand” colour to the bogies, this time using the applicator as supplied by Tamiya.  Again, just a light covering to tone down the paintwork as much as anything to represent some of the grime picked up from the brakes and track.

Weathering completed

Weathering completed

And here it is with a light coat of weathering.  All three wagons in the pack were weathered the same way, and at the same time to ensure some consistency in the finish.  The only thing left to do was to run the wagons on my Murco train on my Haverfordwest layout.

Two of the wagons on my oil train

Two of the wagons on my oil train

The delivery of these wagons was perfect timing as last weekend I exhibited my layout at the Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition as part of the South Wales MAFVA display.  I have attended this show for a number of years as a member of the public, and since starting my Haverfordwest layout I have been there for the last few years either with my layout or giving a model-making demonstration.  I always find this a really good show to attend.  Well organised and very friendly with a good selection of layouts and traders to see.  Anyway, back to my layout.

I tried several different combinations on my oil train.  Initially I had two of the new wagons together as in this photo, and later split them up in between the Graham Farish wagons.  I am pleased to say that these new wagons ran really well.  I have had to add some strips of lead to each of the Graham Farish tanker wagons as they just bounced around going over the points/turn-outs. but these Revolution Trains wagons already felt heavy enough.  By mixing the two types of wagon together on the train I didn’t have any major derailments all weekend.  Any un-couplings that I did get seemed to be between the Farish wagons.

My overall view of these Revolution Trains TEA wagons is that they are well worth the price and they certainly enhance both the appearance and running qualities of my Murco train.

The complete oil train

The complete oil train

Here you can see the complete oil train hauled by a Class 60 loco, and with the three Revolution Trains TEA wagons.  In this photo they are passing a train of Armoured Ambulance vehicles, with a train of Warriors in the sidings waiting to go into the Goods Yard.  If you want to see this layout in operation, I am displaying it at a one day show in Didcot on 29th October, and then hopefully next year at the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition in Thornbury at the end of April/beginning of May.

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.