Posts Tagged ‘South Wales MAFVA’

Barry Island Model Show

25 April 2017
Barry Island Railway Station

Barry Island Railway Station

Last Sunday 23rd April I went with my model club, South Wales MAFVA to a model show inside Barry Island Railway Station.  The station is still very much in use, but the trains now use the platform with an exit just off the picture above to the left, with all of these station buildings now used as a military museum where they have regular weekends with preserved steam and diesel trains running, and several different model shows, to help publicise their efforts.

The former Waiting Room

The former Waiting Room

This is the former Waiting Room, with our displays around all four walls, and in the centre of the room.  The open doorway to the right of our club banner is the way through to the station platform.  The day started off decidedly grey and overcast, typical weather for a South Wales seaside resort.  This particular location has gained fame, or should that be infamy as the set for the “Gavin & Stacey” BBC comedy series.  When I lived in Cardiff in my early teens I used to travel to Barry Island by (steam) train with my brother for a day on the beach, and must have walked through this station countless times.

Peter Denyer with his huge rail gun

Peter Denyer with his huge rail gun

Quite appropriately for this location, Peter Denyer brought along his Dora WWII German rail gun.  Even in 1/76th scale this is still huge, and nicely done by Peter who is on the left here talking to one of our visitors.

Mike Gill's Longmoor dioram

Mike Gill’s Longmoor diorama

Another club member with a railway related theme was Mike Gill with a diorama/working layout of part of the Longmoor Military Railway set in the period of WWII.  The locos are from various model railway manufacturers, with buildings from Skytrex, but most of the vehicles have been heavily converted by Mike from various sources.

Sean Hooper's models

Sean Hooper’s models

New club member Sean Hooper brought along an interesting selection of his models.  He is working on a large collection of Bedford QL variants where he is converting basic kits with new bodies.  Sean has painted these using dark toning and then with water colours.  We hope to have an article about his painting techniques in our South Wales MAFVA newsletter/magazine, The Dragon.

Some of my models

Some of my models

I brought along a selection of my models, and included some 1/76th scale ones that are quite a few years old.  The Leyland DAF DROPS truck and trailer were Continental Model Supply Company models where I converted the flatracks into fuel dispensing tanks, used in Bosnia and Croatia.  I was told that they didn’t comply with UK Road Traffic Construction & Use legislation, and so were only ever used loaded with fuel when abroad.

A beautiful little diorama from Paul Hennessy

A beautiful little diorama from Paul Hennessy

The son of the show organiser wanted to have a competition for the best model on display at the show, and so we all had to pick our favourite one.  This must have been a difficult task for the judges as we have some very varied interests within our club.  The winner was Paul Hennessy for this beautiful little 1/35th scale diorama.  Paul was with me when we attended a previous show at this venue, but that time we were stuck out on the windy, freezing cold platform all day.  Whilst there though, Paul showed me how he builds up layers of transparent washes of paint to weather his vehicles.  This is shown to good effect in this diorama.

The train to Aberdare

The train to Aberdare

Just to prove that this is still a working station, here’s one of a number of regular services bring people down from the South Wales valleys, in this case Aberdare, for a day on the beach and taking them back again.  The show was a lot better this year than when we were there previously, and the day soon went, with a steady flow of people coming to have a look at our display.

By way of a contrast, this coming weekend 28th through to 30th April I am attending the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition in Thornbury Leisure Centre with both my N gauge Haverfordwest layout and also with my P G Models trade stand that will be more or less opposite the layout.  For anyone visiting the show, I will be in Hall 2 which is the bowls court, in the top left hand corner.  I have three friends who will be helping me with both the layout and the trade stand, with me going to wherever the greatest need is. It should be a busy weekend.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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.

The MAFVA National Competitions 2015

23 June 2015
Our Stand at the MAFVA Nationals

Our Stand at the MAFVA Nationals

Last weekend I attended the MAFVA Nationals at The Imperial War Museum, Duxford, near Cambridge with my club the South Wales Branch of the MAFVA.  Here’s a view of the complete display which was 12 ft x 2 ft.

The view from the other end

The view from the other end

And this was the view from the other end of our display.  There was a good mix of models on display from five of us, which is just under half of our club (now running at 13/14 members at each of our monthly meetings).  The person in the bright yellow polo shirt is Paul Regan, the President of the IPMS UK who was on the stand next to us.

The left hand side

The left hand side

Starting on the left hand side of our display, at the back is my 1/152nd scale Canadian railway scene of vehicle movements to and from BATUS (British Army Training Unit Suffield) which got quite a bit of interest, mainly I suspect because it was something a bit different.  In front of that are a selection of models from Mike Johns.  Mainly 1/35th scale models, with some 1/48th scale and one 1/76th scale.  To the right of it is a 1/35th scale WWII German diorama, and in front of that a German field gun from David Burton.  David won a deserved 2nd place with his field gun.

The centre of the dfisplay

The centre of the display

On top of the raised up bit is a selection of my 1/152nd scale models with a Mexeflote at the back, the AEC Refueller and trailer to the right, with the Bedford Runway Control Vehicle in front of that.  On the table in front of that and to the right of it are some very attractive models from Des Burgess.  Not in this photo, but he had a 2nd place for his Fenneck.  I particularly liked his Centurion (below the right hand leg of the stand), but unfortunately it didn’t get anywhere in the Competitions.  The MAFVA Nationals must be the biggest purely military modelling show in the UK with models at a consistently high standard.  To win any award here is quite an achievement.

The right hand side of the display

The right hand side of the display

To the left you can see Des’ Abbot SPG and Challenger 1 in a Bosnia setting.  The main group of models are from Paul Williams, with a couple from his son Gill.  All together we’ve covered a variety of different scales, and covering time scales from 1940 right up to 2015.

A closer view of some of my own models

A closer view of some of my own models

Here’s a closer view of my models on the raised up stand.  At the front are a base with four different Ferrets; the white blob in the middle is the start of a Saracen; and to the right is a base with three Bedford Runway Control Vehicles.

The Gary Williams Best Display Award

The Gary Williams Best Display Award

At the very end of the prize giving ceremonies I was completely surprised to be ushered forward, along with the others in South Wales MAFVA to receive this award for the best display at the show.  This is a new award in memory of Gary Williams, the former long-standing President of the MAFVA who died recently.  A perfect ending to what had been a thoroughly enjoyable two days out.

Some varied Weekends

17 April 2015

So far this year things started off with just a few orders, which gave me the opportunity to finish off the Gloster Saro Fuel Trailer.  As soon as that was done, the orders picked up for  a variety of models in my range, plus more for RCL landing craft and Mexeflote rafts.  I have already put several posts on this blog showing both RCLs and Mexeflotes being assembled, so I didn’t think there was much of a need to show more of the same thing – hence the long gap between posts.  I’ve got a trade stand at the Bristol Model Railway Exhibition on 1st, 2nd and 3rd May, so I have also needed to spend some time re-stocking as my stock levels have become far too low to attend a show.  I’ve now got a small stock of nearly everything in the range, which should hopefully be enough for the show.

I have however, had some interesting weekends that have been a welcome break.  Things started off on Saturday 7th March with a MAFVA visit to the REME Historic Vehicle Reserve Collection at Bordon in Hampshire.  Four of us from South Wales MAFVA set off for this event, leaving my house at 0630 hrs.

A group of people on a Conqueror ARV

A group of people on a Conqueror ARV

The Collection is held in a hangar within the School of Mechanical Engineering, so can only be visited by prior arrangement.  It really is well worth visiting this Collection as there are some real gems amongst the vehicles there.  What is more, we were all given free access to go over, under, or in any of the vehicles there, which is quite a rare thing to do for such old and rare vehicles.

The Conqueror ARV

The Conqueror ARV

This Conqueror ARV is an extremely rare beast.  Only a handful were produced, and then only a very small number have been preserved.  This vehicle is very much a runner.  The engine was started up with an almighty roar and briefly driven inside the hangar.  A very impressive sight.

A Bedford RL Pig

A Bedford RL Pig

If you look at some of the pages of this post where I give a brief outline of my model-making history you’ll see some photos of the 1/35th scale Bedford RL Pig that I made many moons ago.  Here’s the one in their collection, in a very dilapidated condition.  The tyres in front of it are from a Mk.2 Thornycroft Antar  This vehicle has been completely stripped down into its component parts.  They are then being cleaned up, painted in red oxide primer and then repainted in bronze green.  An absolutely mammoth task.

A Humber 1 ton truck

A Humber 1 ton truck

And finally, here’s a view looking down on a Humber 1 ton truck.  These vehicles were made in the 1950s as Combat Vehicles and so were designed for rugged use.  It has a Rolls Royce engine with four-wheel drive and independent suspension.  A number of these vehicles had their bodies removed and replaced with armoured ones to become the Humber Pig, widely used in Northern Ireland.  This photo was taken whilst standing on another Foden Recovery vehicle and gives a good general view of some of the other vehicles in the collection.

MAFVA AGM 2015

MAFVA AGM 2015

The following weekend on the Sunday 15th March I had another early start, although not quite as bad as the previous one, with a trip to Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire for the MAFVA (Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association) Annual General Meeting.  I am not a member of the MAFVA Council, but attend as the South Wales Branch rep.  I feel that having gained so much over the years from the Association, and having made so many friends from among its members, the least I can do is to give it some support at the AGM.  What was particularly interesting was that were joined by Max Hundleby (4th from the right) who was the original President of our Association before Gary Williams took over.  Max also brought along some of his models which were very impressive, and also copies of his book on the German WWI tank, the A7V.  It proved to be an interesting meeting with several important issues discussed.

A Mexeflote approaching the shore

A Mexeflote approaching the shore

By way of a complete contrast, the following Sunday I started off at 0530 hrs to meet up with a friend who had arranged for me to join him on a media day on an exercise on Browndown Beach in Hampshire, on the Solent (The Isle of Wight is in the background of the photo above).  This proved to be absolutely fascinating.  17 Port & Maritime Regiment had set up a field port area where vehicles were being offloaded from the Strategic Sealift vessel Hartland Point using a Mexeflote powered raft and were then moved to a holding area behind the beach.

Hartland Point

Hartland Point

Here’s a view of Hartland Point in The Solent with a Mexeflote up against its rear ramps.  This is the same ship that I photographed at the Sea Mounting Centre at Marchwood  last year.  The Mexeflote was carried to the site as deck cargo on the ship that then used its crane to assemble the Mexeflote.

The raft up against the shore and ready to discharge its cargo

The raft up against the shore and ready to discharge its cargo

What is interesting is that this Mexeflote is four pontoons wide, with three rows of centre pontoons, making it shorter and wider than the one that I have made a model of, showing some of the versatility of this piece of equipment.  This one has a mixed load of both armour and trucks.

A second load nearing he beach

A second load nearing he beach

Here’s a second load nearing the beach, this time with two Mastiffs either side of a MAN truck.  The soldier standing on the cab of the MAN truck is giving hand signals to another further back to direct the soldiers operating the propulsion units who also steer the raft.

A Stormer command/support vehicle

A Stormer command/support vehicle

There were some unusual vehicles used in this Exercise, including this Stormer that is a support/command vehicle that is used with the Stormer HVM (High Velocity Missile) air defence system.  This vehicle is longer than the other CVR(T)s such as Spartan or Sultan with an extra roadwheel, and is also wider.  The other CVR(T)s had a diesel engine fitted as a mid-life extension programme, but the Stormers had a diesel engine from new.

The Kalmar RTCH

The Kalmar RTCH

And finally, here’s a Kalmar Rough Terrain Container Handler, used to move either 20ft, 30ft or 40ft containers over rough ground.  An interesting feature of this vehicle is that the cab can be moved sideways from a centre line when unloaded, or to the left when carrying a container, to enable the driver to see around the container in front of him.

A Nimrod Maritime Patrol Aircraft

A Nimrod Maritime Patrol Aircraft

And last weekend on Sunday 12th April I had another early start on a visit to the Shropshire IPMS show at the RAF Museum at RAF Cosford.  The photo above shows one of the last of the Nimrod Maritime Patrol Aircraft that was saved from the dismantlers.  It was moved to the Museum in bits and then re-assembled on site.

The South Wales MAFVA stand

The South Wales MAFVA stand

Here’s our South Wales MAFVA stand beneath a Comet airliner.  The stand was manned by myself and Mike Johns.  Between us we managed to put on a good display in a variety of different scales and time periods.

Some photos from Canada

21 January 2013
A range Safety Bedford MJ CALM

A range Safety Bedford MJ CALM

In my last post I briefly mentioned the red topped Range Safety vehicles that are used in the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) in Alberta, Canada.  One of my friends David Buckler served in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) and one of his postings was to BATUS during the winter months.  If I recall correctly, this was around the mid 1990s.  Every year there are a series of exercises at BATUS under the name of Medicine Man, 1, 2 3, etc during the summer months (named after the Native American tribe’s witch doctor that lived there many years previously), with the fleet of vehicles rotating from one set of visiting crews from the UK or Germany (British Army of the Rhine – BAOR or its current form) to the next, which means that all of the vehicles get heavily used.  The Ranges are closed in the winter months, which is where the REME fitters take over to repair and overhaul the fleet of vehicles there to get them ready for the following year’s series of exercises.

A Bedford MJ Tipper, minus its front axle

A Bedford MJ Tipper, minus its front axle

I have known David for a number of years from when he was a Corporal to when he left the Army as a Warrant Officer.  When I told him about this blog site he was only too pleased to let me use some of his photos here to  help illustrate the actual vehicles used at BATUS.  So, a big thank you to David Buckler for letting me use some of his superb photos here.

The top photo shows a Bedford MJ CALM which stands for Crane Atlas Lorry Mounted.  I already have the chassis and cab for this vehicle which would just need a shortened flatbed body, without the dropside attachments, and an Atlas crane, for which I already have some manufacturer’s brochures, so maybe one for the future without too much work.  The photo above is one already in my range of models, the Bedford MK/MJ Tipper, which has a slightly shorter wheelbase than the standard trucks.

For anyone wondering, the difference between the Bedford MK and the Bedford MJ is that the MK had a normally aspirated diesel engine and was the earlier vehicle of the marque, whereas the MJs look externally similar, but have a turbo-charged diesel engine.  There are also some minor cosmetic differences in the position of and the style of the word “Bedford” on the front grille.   The top hamper above the roof is more of a Bedford MJ fitting, although I’m sure some MKs could easily have had a top hamper fitted to them too.

A Bedford MK/MJ Recovery Vehicle

A Bedford MK/MJ Recovery Vehicle

Here’s another Bedford, this time the Light Recovery Vehicle, also with red markings to show that it is one of the Range Safety vehicles, although you will notice that on this vehicle the callsign “72D” is painted directly on to the red paint, rather than on a black rectangle as on the previous two vehicles.  Behind it and to the left you can see one of the two Western Star recovery vehicles used in BATUS that was purchased locally in Canada.  One of these two vehicles is now in the REME Historic Vehicle Collection in SEME (the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering) in Bordon, Hampshire.  They have since been replaced with a modern equivalent also locally purchased.

A Land Rover Defender 110 Red Top

A Land Rover Defender 110 Red Top

And finally here is a red topped Land Rover Defender 110 hard top also photographed by David Buckler.  Like me, David is a fellow member of South Wales Branch of the MAFVA (Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association) and his knowledge of the modern British Army is much appreciated and put to good use.  We also have another former REME Sergeant Major amongst our members, Dennis Lunn (who was an ASM) who has made a superb 1/35th scale model of this Land Rover using the Hobby Boss kit and extensively modifying it to correct the errors in the kit.

Yet again, what this highlights for me is the real value in not only belonging to a model making association such as the MAFVA, but in taking part in our monthly meetings.  There are about 10 of us now in South Wales who get together on the first Monday of the month where we show each other our latest models and pick each others brains for tips on how to make the model and for details such as how a vehicle was used.  We’ve got experienced modellers covering everything from WWII to the present day who can help others with their model making experience and also others relatively new to the hobby who can bring a proverbial breath of fresh air to our club with new ideas and some new ways of doing things which may be better than some older ones.

A Change of Plans

3 October 2012

Before getting on to the title of this post, I thought I’d start where I left off with the last one.  And the answer is NO!  The changes I made to the electrics on the fiddle yard at the back of my layout did succeed in resolving some serious short circuits, but it still did not solve the problem of a section of track being live with trains running around the two oval tracks, but becoming dead when I switched the points/turnouts to take trains on to the fiddle yard.

The culprit!

The culprit!

I eventually narrowed the problem down to this set of points just behind the control box for the layout.  I’ve got a power feed at the toe end of the points, which is correct, but when I switch the points to take trains into the fiddle yard this powers the section of track going to the fiddle yard, but isolates the section of the oval.  So it’s not a problem with short circuits, but one of not having enough power feeds.  The answer is to put in insulated rail joiners at the end of the points and adding a new power feed to the right of the points.  And that should finally cure the problems with the power feeds.

I expect that this is something very simple for any experienced railway modeller, but it’s taken me ages to sort it out.  Although on the plus side, it’s certainly been a mentally stimulating exercise!

A current view of the layout

A current view of the layout

Anyway, on to the title of this post.  For those who have read the “About” pages of this blog you’ll know that originally I wanted to make my Haverfordwest layout and needed the armoured vehicles for it, which is what led to me starting P G Models.  I’ve been very pleased in the way that my little business has been going, but on the down side, it’s taking me a lot longer to complete the Haverfordwest layout as I am fitting in work on it in odd moments when things are quiet with the business, which has been just the occasional day now and again.  However, I have always felt that the layout could be a really good showcase for my little models.

The whole layout from the other end

The whole layout from the other end

One of the many things that I do apart from P G Models is that I am the South Wales Branch Secretary of the Miniature AFV Association and am also the editor of our Branch newsletter, The Dragon.  On Monday last week I put the latest issue onto a disc and took it to our printers in Barry and on the way back called into my local model railway shop, Lord & Butler in Penarth Road in Cardiff.  Whilst there Peter Lord said that he believed that Cardiff Model Railway club were looking for an N gauge layout for their Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition and suggested that it could be a good way for me to show my layout to other people, which he has always encouraged me to do.

Looking down from the Narberth Road Bridge

Looking down from the Narberth Road Bridge

It took me a bit of effort to get two trains running correctly (partially because of the power feed problems), but to cut a long story short, the end result was that on Monday this week, two members of Cardiff Model Railway club visited me and had a look at my layout.  They were pleased with what they saw and have invited me to attend their show with my layout.  I was already lined up to attend the Cardiff Model Railway Exhibition with a demonstration of military modelling, but now I’ll be there with my layout on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st October.

Two locos about to pass each other on the main lines

Two locos about to pass each other on the main lines

This is a really amazing set of coincidences as I already had the layout set up in my garage to try to solve the power issues.  I have held back in doing any more ballasting of the track until I solved the power issues, just in case I needed to add any extra power feeds.  Well, now I know that I do, but at the back of the layout.  So now I am ready to get the track ballasted, which is perfect timing as that will make the layout look a lot more complete.

Turning now to the title of this post, eventually, my original intention was to start making the AEC Mammoth Major Refueller after The N Gauge Show, but now I shall hold back with that for a couple of weeks until this model railway show is over, to give me the chance to get more of the track ballasted.

Before that, this Sunday 7th October I shall be exhibiting some of my N gauge models at our South Wales Branch of the Miniature AFV Association Open Afternoon, open from 2.30pm until 5pm.  If you’d like to come along to see our models we will be at St.John’s Church Hall, Rachel Close, Danescourt, Cardiff, CF5 2SH.  I look forward to seeing you there.

Arborfield and Duxford

19 June 2012

Last weekend four of us from South Wales MAFVA went along to the MAFVA Nationals at The Imperial War Museum, Duxford, near Cambridge.  En route three of us visited the REME Corps Weekend Open Day at Arborfield, near Reading, which was just off the M4 motorway, so not much of a detour for us.

The Scout SV

The Scout SV

The first thing we saw at Arborfield was quite a surprise, something never seen before by the public, a mock-up of the Scout SV (Specialist Vehicle).  This particular vehicle appears to have a hull from either an Austrian or Spanish vehicle together with a dummy turret from Lockheed Martin.  What is amazing is that this vehicle which will be categorised as Medium Armour will (if it comes into service after its trials) be replacing the CVR(T) family of Light Armoured Vehicles.  This particular variant will replace the Scimitar which you can just see to the right in the photo behind the Scout.

3/4 rear view of the Scout SV

3/4 rear view of the Scout SV

Despite the size of this vehicle, it will have a three-man crew of driver, commander and gunner.  The 30mm Rarden gun used for many years on the Scimitar, Sabre and Warrior will be replaced on the Scout by a 40mm weapon which should give it improved lethality.  The vehicle on display is just a mock-up to show people what the Scout SV will look like.  There’s a good chance that the trials may result in numerous differences between this and the actual production version, if the trials are successful.  For instance, this vehicle had spare track pads and winter snow “teeth” on the side but, as far as I can recall,  British vehicles have spare track links with pads attached, but never before with spare pads (at least, not on the outside of the vehicle ).  There is a Welsh connection here as the headquarters of General Dynamics UK are in Oakdale, in one of the Gwent valleys a few miles to the east of me.

A Warrior Repair vehicle ready to lift out a power pack

A Warrior Repair vehicle ready to lift out a power pack

Sometimes it takes years to get to see something, as in the photo above.  I have seen and photographed pack changes on Chieftains, Challengers, FV432s, Abbots and Scimitars, but I’ve never before seen a Warrior pack change.  In this case it was just a static display rather than actually changing the pack, but it shows the lifting beam attached to the Warrior power pack with the decks open.  You’ll notice that the Warrior’s turret has its gun facing rearward and the rear stowage basket has been removed from the back of the turret and placed on top of it.  This could look quite interesting in N gauge, although making the powerpack in such a small scale could be quite a challenge.

Warrior power pack on a DROPS flatrack

Warrior power pack on a DROPS flatrack

In this photo you can see the two elements of the Warrior power pack, the duck-egg blue engine to the right (in the standard colour for British military engines) and its silver coloured gearbox to the left.  These can be removed from the Warrior as a single unit, but on this flatrack they have been separated from each other.

The South Wales MAFVA stand at The MAFVA Nationals

The South Wales MAFVA stand at The MAFVA Nationals

We only stayed at Arborfield for two and a half hours and then went on to Duxford where we arrived mid afternoon.  In the photo above you can see our South Wales MAFVA display during the show on the Sunday.  We each had one module and the table in front, with a few extra models in the central module with the sign.  From the left there are models from Paul Williams, then Mike Johns, Des Burgess and me.

Our stand from the other end

Our stand from the other end

Here’s another view of our stand from the other end, with my models nearest the camera next to Des’.  This is always the biggest display for the Branch, other than our own show in the autumn.  The MAFVA Nationals is always a very friendly show, with the chance to meet up with friends from right across the country and a good selection of traders to see representing most of the miniature armour cottage industries.

Some of my little beasts

Some of my little beasts

I know this isn’t a brilliant photo, but is shows some of my little models.  I mounted one of my Ferret models in bare pewter on a wooden base, and made up two others that were painted.  One was in satin dark green and the other in matt green and black to show the two most common paint schemes used for these vehicles.  They raised quite a bit of interest.

On Track Military Modelling Show

4 March 2012
The MAFVA Display area

The MAFVA Display area

Last weekend, on Saturday 25th February I attended the On Track Military Modelling Show in Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone.  I was originally invited to attend this show as a trader, but I did so once when it was the Trucks ‘N’ Tracks show over a whole weekend, and I sold just 7 models over the entire weekend.  I enjoy making my little models in 1/152nd scale, but this is most definitely not a popular military modelling scale.  As a result, I agreed to attend solely as an exhibitor.

Another view of the MAFVA display, showing the South Wales stand

Another view of the MAFVA display, showing the South Wales stand

One of my friends in South Wales MAFVA, Mike Gill offered to come along with me, so we went together with a joint South Wales MAFVA display. We were in the Chanel View Suite  which is a level below the main hall, so we had plenty of exercise up and down the stairs with two flights down from the entrance into the main hall, and another down to where we were.

The South Wales MAFVA display

The South Wales MAFVA display

At the previous show in the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton I displayed a variety of different models, but this time I had just my little 1/152nd scale models, from the first ones cast in resin right up to the recent Scammell Commander and Challenger 1 in pewter. To emphasise that this was a display rather than just a sales pitch, I put captions against each diorama to explain a bit about them.

The newest and one of the oldest

The newest and one of the oldest

In this photo you can see at the top left the newest models in the form of my little Pembroke scene that I’ve described in previous blogs, and below that my workshop scene which is one of my oldest with all of the models made of resin.  One good thing about resin models is that they are a lot easier to convert.  On this diorama are Land Rovers opened up with stretched sprue tilts added, and several vehicles with doors open.  The big downside is that my friend who cast them for me is a very experienced resin caster and even he had difficulties casting these little models.  He gave me just the relatively complete castings, but there were still a number with air holes that couldn’t be sold.  When it came to me deciding which material to use when I re-launched the range a few years ago, it was clear to me that I had to use metal, although I wanted something a bit better than the more usual white metal, which is why I ended up using lead-free pewter, that is both lighter and tougher than white metal.

End view of the display

End view of the display

The depot scene at the back of the display was shown with some Dragon 1/144th scale models, Challenger 2, Warrior, MLRS, and AS90.  I’m pleased that I got these models when I did as I haven’t seen them on any traders’ stands, nor in any shops for quite a while.  In front of the depot scene is my one of a Welsh Models vac-formed Hercules in 1/144th scale, and next to that is my first 1/152nd scale diorama of a road during the first Gulf War, which I still like despite being 24 years old.

A closer look at the centre of the display

A closer look at the centre of the display

Here’s a closer look at the centre of the display.  I included a 1/200th scale Ramped Craft Logistic as I’m still pleased in the way that this model turned out.  I have deliberately left it as I first produced it, with just some dusting to keep it clean, but no polishing to see how the patina of the pewter develops.  So far I think it still looks quite presentable.  Also on display are two resin models of a Bedford MJ and 3/4 ton Land Rover Hardtop, still left in bare resin, and a partially tilted Leyland/DAF DROPS pewter model to show the difference between the two materials.

I’ve now come to the last in my outstanding orders which will be dispatched in the next couple of days, which means that I can concentrate in building up some stock in time for the London Festival of Railway Modelling in Alexandra Palace in three weeks time.