Thursday, July 31, 2008

Studebaker Trucks

Bill, Jr has just finished his Studebaker resin models in 1/87th scale and they are ready for shipment! They are good stuff and important for anyone who wants to do WWII Soviet Army.
There are 5 versions available for sale. Cargo trucks, Lend Lease and American, and tractors. All Studebaker kits are $12.00 USD payable through Pay-Pal, and Bill, Jr can accept credit card payments that way, or USPS Money Orders, which you can down load his order sheet from off his Web Store.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


The conversion I did on the Jagdtiger I got out of this excellent book by Andrew Devey. It is the first book of two about the Jagdtiger written by Mr. Devey. Book one is the technical developments of the vehicle and the second book is the operational history of them once produced.

The Jagdtiger was the largest production vehicle fielded in the Second World War. Being so large and heavy it had great armor protection, but it limited the bridges it could use and it needed a large and powerful engine and transmission. The technical history explains the compromises that are needed when making such huge and powerful weapons during wartime with limited production facilities.

My book collection is very large and this book showed me many new bits of information on this interesting weapons system. Now that the Soviet Union has fallen and Russia has opened many of their archives, and Germany is united more of their information is also available to researchers. If you have those books about German tanks that are thirty years old then it is time for an upgrade, there is so much more information and photos out there than we ever had before. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in armor development.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hot Wheels Fuel Truck

This is a Hot Wheels fuel truck. They are sold in several different color schemes.

This is the same truck after it has been painted olive drab. The US Army used trucks like this from about 1970 to about 1990, or even later. They work for late Vietnam War and the first Gulf War, as well as the Cold War. I have a number of them in my collection. The rear half is pretty good and could be removed and be placed on the back end of a WWII or modern Roco truck too.

This shows the fuel truck and the Hot Wheels 2 1/2 ton cargo truck and the Roco 2 1/2 ton cargo truck. These three trucks fit in well together and what's more the Hot Wheels retail for only a dollar and that's about one tenth the price of a Roco truck.

Rocket Sled

Titanium Die Cast is making small models based on the Indiana Jones movies. The most recent movie has a scene in it that has Indy fighting a large Russian soldier who is disguised as an American soldier. The two end up on a rocket sled, which naturally blasts off and races away down the track.

The two figures appear to be HO 1/87 scale. The sled and figure are all pre-painted and pre-assembled. In the 1950's rocket sled were used to test the effects of massive acceleration on humans and later to test ejection seats for jets. If you remove the two figures this rocket sled would look great on a diorama at a test facility. I got a couple and will remount the figures on a new separate base. I got mine at Target, but they are probably sold at other toy shops.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Jagdtiger Extra

This is a rather typical Roco 1/87th scale Jagdtiger. It has aftermarket tracks on the turret sides and the muzzle break has been sawed off, but other than that it is pretty generic. I am sure many of you have very similar vehicles in your collections.

This Jagdtiger is different. The Germans looked at upgrading their tanks and tank destroyers every year to met the potential threats from the Allies. On proposal was to upgrade the gun on the Jagdtiger to a 128mm L/66 gun. The new barrel was much longer and the recoil was so massive that they had to build on a protrusion at the rear of the superstructure to allow the gun to recoil back into it. In real life, they only had these on paper.

While difficult to see in the photo, there is a hatch at the end of this recoil housing to allow the barrel to be removed for maintenance or replacement out the back end.

The barrel was extended by cutting the original barrel and adding a length of barrel from a Roco Henschel Tiger II. The rear extension was made from a length of square tubing and the hatch scratch built from bits of styrene. A quick and easy conversion and one that makes the Allies ever more terrified of a massive vehicle.

All the schools and testing centers were combed for operational tanks as the Soviet troops got closer and many tanks that had to be towed into position were used operationally. So while this vehicle only existed on paper, if they did have one prototype there is a good chance it would have seen combat. An easy conversion and an interesting vehicle to toss at the Allies.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hot Wheels & Roco

Hot Wheels has made this truck several times in the last 20 years in several colors. They come in green, and yellow and also civilian colors. They usually have a canvas top that is camoflague.

The wheels were singles in the rear duals but that's okay because the Army did have trucks in that configuration.

As you can see from this front end view, the Hot Wheels truck is nearly the same size at the Roco. I like the Hot Wheels because it is only a dollar, it is very durable, it looks pretty accurate, in some ways better than the Roco for the post war truck.

Keep your eyes open when you go to the toy department, sometimes you find a little gem.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Chinese With Swords

This is an officer figure from the new Caesar Miniatures Chinese WWII Infantry in 1/72nd scale. These are great figures. Most of the set is in a nice blue color and some are in a light grey.

These Chinese have big swords, and are very well done. I anticipate getting at least four boxes of these excellent figures.

These are some of the other figures in the set, the advancing and firing troops. The Chinese were at war with the Japanese for about ten years and then were in nearly constant combat after World War Two in Civil War, and then the Korean War and various border disputes with the Soviet Union, India, and Vietnam as well as invasions of Mongolia and Nepal. Despite all this modern conflict this is the only set from a major company for any 20th Century Chinese troops.

These will be great troops for those Indiana Jones scenarios, Chinese Warlord games, Pulp Games, and other such role playing and wargames. I have to figure out a way to get a few of these guys into Berlin. Perhaps some could be a part of a Soviet Union Siberian Division, or maybe a merchant crew that got stuck in Germany. At first I thought they might be good Chinese embassy guards, but China declared war on German December 9, 1941, so that's out.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tenting Tonight

One of my many projects has been to construct interiors for all my tentage. Take a bit of sheet styrene and cut it to the same size as the tent interior. I like to use sheet styrene with a pattern of boards so that it looks like planking.

On the planking floor, glue chairs, tables, supplies, benches, radios, and other military items. This shows a quick table I made out of a couple bits of plastic from the spares box. I also like to glue a vertical panel to the floor and paste a map onto it. This makes a good command tent or artillery fire direction center tent.

This tent had a radio, so I drilled a hole in the roof and added an antenna and put a flag on the antenna. The base fits inside the tent so that when the tent is on the table the planking is not visible. I have also made medical operating rooms, and various headquarters tents. These make good targets in a wargame, the owner of the tentage is penalized by having to take a moral check or by not being able to shoot artillery for a turn or two while the FDC gets back in operation.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dragon Wagon Conversion

Once again Wayne has provided me with a great photo of a terrific vehicle. This is the Roco "Dragon Wagon" tractor. It was used in WWII and the 1950s to tow a large trailer that carried very heavy loads, typically tanks. I have also seen them with LVT amphibious tractors on them and LCVP landing craft on the trailers too.

Wayne Wanner has taken this extra cab and modified the bed from some Roco truck and glued it onto the rear end. This would be a simple conversion for a battalion maintenance company. They would have easy access to truck beds during World War in Europe. The truck bed has had a framework mounted in the rear to allow the lifting of heavy items like tank engines and transmissions and bombs.

This Dragon Wagon was a powerful, high ground clearance vehicle that could go just about anywhere. Wayne has made a conversion that would allow maintenance technicians to take repair parts to places ordinary trucks could not reach, at least while carrying such a heavy load. He as also included welding gear, making the truck even more valuable. I had an extra trailer from one of these Dragon Wagons and I converted a 5 ton truck to tow it, not unlike the rig that was developed to replace the Dragon Wagon.

Conversion like this are not exactly historical, but they are based on real vehicles, and could easily have been done at the time. I think making battalions of these is not a great idea, but certainly one or two in a collection is a fantastic idea. Thanks Wayne!


In WWII the Germans often took retired tanks and used them to make supply and munitions carriers. Here is a Panzer III with no turret converted to carry ammunition for German heavy tanks, like the Tiger I. Without supply vehicles, modern warfare dependant on oil, grease, fuel, and vast amounts of ammunition, fuel, and medical supplies grinds to a halt.

Despite specialized vehicles like the Panzer III, most German supplies were transported by horse drawn wagon. While there are many in use by the Wehrmacht there are few models of them in 1/72nd scale. I use a mixture of Brittiana Miniatures, and SHQ in metal, and HaT models converted into WWII German.

I divide supplies up into food, fuel, ammunition, and medical supplies. Without food or fuel, troops and vehicles can't move. Without ammunition weapons can't fire. Without medical supplies hospitals can't save the wounded. Each battalion must be re-supplied every day with each of these supply types. Vehicles and troops must remain stationary and be adjacent to a supply vehicle for one turn out of every 24 turns.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hobby Project

A major disaster struck the collection recently. While I was moving some boxes, six of them fell over and spilled some of their contents. Those that did not spill were shoved to the side of the boxes. There were probably 500 vehicles, a hundred train cars, and thirty boats. About 100 received some kind of damage and the other 400 were just bounced around.

The scene reminded me of those pictures after a flood that has washed cars downstream into a heap. For about 40 years I have stored my vehicle, aircraft and some of my buildings in underbed storage boxes. These are cardboard boxes of various sizes, about six inches tall and a long rectangular shape. Many of them I lined with plywood to make then sturdier and many also had a second layer of plywood standing on blocks to make a take out tray inside the box, so the boxes were two layers.

Many of the boxes were full of resin or die cast models and double stacked, so they were really heavy, probably thirty pounds or more. Over the decades some of the boxes have gotten wet, some tore open, had the handle rip off, and most recently, get mice nibbled! After this last problem with the mice I elected to go with plastic underbed storage boxes. I use the Sterlite 41 quart box, in clear plastic with a blue lid. The clear plastic is a nice touch because I can see what is inside the box without having to open it up.

This has been a major hobby project because the new boxes cost a bit over $8 each, and since I have to replace over a hundred boxes I anticipate spending around a thousand dollars on this conversion. The new boxes stack really well, it looks like about nine or ten will stack without much trouble. I will post a few photos when I get more done.

Write us a comment and tell us how you store your collection.

Monday, July 21, 2008

New Old Weapons

There were many tanks that were developed, even fielded that saw little or no combat in World War Two. The Germans developed the Maus and even though none saw combat, there were components of perhaps as many as a dozen prepared.

The Americans developed and fielded the M-6 Heavy Tank. There were three main versions but they all looked about the same as the one in this photo. Several hundred were in service and they could have been shipped to Tunisia and have seen service there, Italy and Normandy. For various reasons they were never shipped overseas.

The inclusion of these tanks in a wargame can provide interesting 'What if' scenarios. What if the US had fielded the M-6 Heavy Tank and they came up against Tiger Is in Tunsia? What if the Panzer IV had to face a heavily armed opponent in Western Europe when fighting Americans? The M-6 used many Sherman components and would not be too hard to scratch build. The Maus is made in 1/87, 1/76, and 1/72nd scale by several companies.

There are other vehicles that can interest wargamers. The Panzer III came in a flak version, the same turret as the Ostwind and Whirbelwind. There was a plan to use plastic armor to upgrade the Sherman. At the end of the war the Germans were fielding man portable surface to air rockets, like a cluster of small bazookas. How would those strafing runs work out if the P-51s had to face a cluster of rockets each time? Interesting weapons to change up your wargames.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Caesar Germans

These are photos of the new Caesar WWII German Panzergrenadier set. They are soft plastic, one piece figures in 1/72nd scale.

These figures are molded in dark grey plastic and are a mid war army figure. They are similar in kit to the old Airfix German Infantry which at 35 years old are really starting to show their age.

The detail on these figures is fantastic, I particularly like the submachine guns. There are several SMG poses since they are Panzergrenadiers. No heavy weapons, no panzerfausts or bazookas, these are too early war for that. Troops in these uniforms were seen all during the war, but became more rare as the new uniforms and boots were issued. I have two of these sets so far and plan on getting many more. I will probably issue a few metal machine guns, panzerfausts and bazookas to stiffen them up for late war combat. Highly recommended, an excellent set.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Horse is a Horse

Did you realize that the US Army used horse cavalry up to the end of World War Two? Even after they were disbanded in 1943! In Italy and France horse cavalry were considered so valuable by commanders in the field that they rounded up horses and men with knowledge of horses and formed ad hoc cavalry units. They even requested cavalry units be formed in the United States and shipped overseas but were denied saying the shipping requirements did not justify the value of the units.

These are more photos of Old FT Mac Days.

As World War Two approached, the horse cavalry knew they needed to be able to keep up with the motorized units and so they too motorized into Horse/Mechanized units. These were horse cavalry units with trailers to carry the horses and supplies to the combat areas. This is similar in concept to the "Battle Taxi" idea of carrying infantry in armored vehicles and having them dismount to fight on foot.

This is a two horse trailer used to transport the two horses seen in the top photo.

This photo shows a horse ambulance, horses were returned to be treated so they could return to combat. It takes years to raise and then train a good cavalry or even towing horse.

I have considered several methods of making US Army Horse Cavalry for WWI and WWII. Tumbling Dice makes really nice US Army Horse Cavalry for WWI but they are metal and a bit expensive compared to plastic. The number of poses is also limited. I have done a few body swaps with the old Airfix US Cavalry lower bodies and the upper body from the Airfix Americans for WWI. These work okay. I have also used upper bodies from the Airfix 8th Army to get early WWII US Cavalry, since the 8th Army set is wearing the flat hat and some have Thompson SMGs.

Most other gamers don't expect US Army horse cavalry, especially late war. They are faster than men on foot, charge very fast and are quieter than vehicles. Makes a nice secret weapon!

Old FT Mac Days

The weekend after Fourth of July, Independence Day, Fort MacArthur, Los Angeles, CA has Old Fort Mac Arthur Day with more than 70 different groups of historical re-enactors present. Groups acting as Roman soldiers, pirates, and all American wars were present. People show up on Friday and stay, camping out until Sunday afternoon.

Groups camp in authentic style, Indians in teepees, Romans in tents, and First World War Germans in trenches! Some units bring vehicles, artillery and one year even an airplane. We spoke with several of the groups and they told us all about their units and individual equipment and weapons. This is an excellent way to learn more about history and get an infantryman's view of warfare. Many of the units have extensive weapons collections and they display them and even demonstrate them for the visitors. Gatherings like this happen all over the nation, particularly in the summer when the weather is nice. Visit a reenactment and you will get some good ideas about your wargame rules, vehicle conversions, and individual weapons, uniforms and equipment.

This is a 1942 Ford car in authentic WWII era US Army markings. Typical of the type of vehicle used for administrative transportation all during the war on and around military installations. Most any late 1930's or early 1940's civilian car will work for this era.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


My friend Arlin Tawzer sent me an email and some photos about some interesting 1/72nd scale US Army medical sets for use in the Korean War.

It may surprise you that there were figures for the Korean War way before IMEX came out with their sets. They were three plastic play sets, tied to the television show M*A*S*H, and made in Hong Kong by Zee Toys in 1976. The play sets included figures and small buildings or terrain pieces, and everything was made of polythene plastic. They were sold as “peg toys” on blister cards. They’ve become somewhat “holy grails” these days.

The first set was the “Latrine set”. It included a latrine with detachable roof, four oil barrels and four figures. The guy holding a bedpan or some other type of pan looks similar to an old 1/35 scale Monogram figure, while the rest look unique. The bedpan soldier looks to be wearing the M42 HBT fatigues common to Korea and late WWII. All the other soldiers appear to wear the M43 fatigues, with the jackets going past their rear ends, which is close to accurate. They all also wear the M1923 cartridge belts. One of the poses looks similar to the stretcher bearer, but his arms are slightly different, and have no ring hands.

The last set is the “Field Hospital set”. It had a great 2-piece medical tent with detachable roof, operating table,, wounded man, doctor, nurse, intravenous bottle and operating lamp.

The detail was typical Hong Hong-esque, meaning not real sharp. The tent, latrine and flags came with the stickers already applied. There were also a series of die cast, 1/87 scale vehicles meant to complement these sets. The card claimed these figures were 1/87, but they actually are really close to 1/72 scale, though maybe close to 1/76. You can see it is close in size to the IMEX Korean War American.

The second set is the “Helicopter landing pad set.” It came with a helicopter pad with a wind sock, a sandbag bunker with flagpole, stretcher, two stretcher bearers and a wounded man.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More Victory Column

This is an unusual close up of my Victory Column. This is a monument built in Berlin over 100 years ago. I made one using mostly cheap and simple to find materials. The key to making such models is to break down the shapes and look for things that have a similar shape in a smaller size. The main column is made by Ian Weekly models and is expanded foam. It was a great time saver. The center lower part is a Diet Coke can. I printed out a black and white photocopy of an American Civil War battle. I then used a green and yellow highlighter pen to make the photocopy appear like a mosaic. The paper was then wrapped around the can and glued with rubber cement.

The Germans used captured cannon barrels to decorate the column. I took barrels from the Eagle Games cannon and glued them to the central column. They were painted bronze.

The central column is hollow and is accessed by a circular staircase. There is a small observation area at the base of the Victory statue. I used a bit of fencing that I got at a model railroad shop to make the guardrail. Having been to the top, it is quite a view and a very small landing.

Originally, I made a pretty good Victory model for the top of the column, but when I visited the monument, I was able to get a really nice one at the gift shop and I used it to top the model. Odemars German Commanders 1/72nd scale enjoy the view from the lookout.