Thursday, July 12, 2018

PBR Shootout Part 1: Armaments in Miniature

Welcome to the first of some posts that will be naval themed, while moving up in time a little bit.  On the Vietnam page of the blog, I took a look at the 15mm Patrol Boat, River (PBR) models that are available.  On the main page here, I'm going to take a look at the best models available, and I'm starting off with the offering from Armaments in Miniature.

Just as a quick FYI, this post is going to be a little bit different from the others.  Instead of finishing the entire boat and then publishing the post, I'm going to publish it now and add to it as the construction goes on.

Armaments in Miniature (or, AiM) is probably best known for their 15mm aircraft from various eras.  However, while going through their website one day I found this model, and decided that I had to have one.  The boat appears to be made from the same white resin that their other models are made from.  There is the slightest hint of a mold line on the starboard side and rear of the hull, but it is easily shaved away with the back of a knife blade.  For any other company I would be raving about the cleanliness of the hull casting.  As a long time AiM customer though, I find myself simply nodding and going, "Yeah, about right for them."  That's probably unfair to AiM, but they set very high standards for themselves.

For step 1 of the assembly, I did nothing more than take the hull out of the bag, take a few knife swipes to remove the mold line, and then drill a hole in the tub so that I could magnetize it.  The magnets aren't really necessary, but I think they will make the boat travel a little more safely along with adding some 'gamer protection.'

Yes, the hull is that clean, right out of the package.
Step 2 is the gun tub, and it consists of three parts.  They are: 1) the gunner, guns and tub, 2) the searchlight, and 3) the gun shield.  I didn't take any pictures of the individual parts, but there is a nice touch here, in that the casting sprue for the searchlight faces down when it is assembled.  So, if you can't cut it completely flush it's not going to show.  This is also the location of the only air bubble I have seen, but I will let the pictures tell that story.

The casting may look rough, but remember the picture is much larger than life size.

So, there's the air bubble.  I appreciate the fact he appears to be wearing goggles or sunglasses.

Yep, he's gonna have a headache all right.
Step 3 is the coxswain's flat, or control center.  As I said before, there's no doubt this is a labor of love model for AiM.  Just look at the details on the control panel.

The right side bulkhead is a separate piece that I've already glued in.
From left to right, there are engine gauges, a compass (it's in the notch next to the gauges), engine throttles and that round thing next to the bulkhead is the radar screen.  I'm going to build and detail this separately, then glue the assembly into the boat.  The photo below, with all the pieces dryfitted together will show why I think that's necessary.

Obviously, a little cramped once it's all together.  But it's very nice!
Turns out there's only so much detail you can add in 1/100 scale.  I put some gloss over the gauges and the compass, but they are so small that it doesn't show up very well.  The bright green thing next to the throttles is the radar screen.  It should probably be black like the gauges, but I wanted a little flash of color in the cockpit.  It too has been gloss coated.

It turns out that this is just the right amount of detail though, because in those cramped quarters:

We're gonna put this guy:

I'm so impressed with the coxswain figure, that I want to show a couple of pictures of him before he's painted.

I had trouble getting my camera to focus on him, but you can still see that he's wearing a beret with badge, and sunglasses.  What you can't see is that he has an open top holster on his right hand side, and that the ribbons from the beret are hanging down the back of his head.  He clearly has on jungle fatigue pants, but you can't really tell what's under his flak jacket.  I originally thought about giving him the traditional chambray Navy shirt, but pictures from the period don't seem to support that.  Once painted up, some more detail pops out and I can see that my skills are declining as I get older.

What's interesting about the figure is something that isn't noticed while you're painting him.  When you put him in the cockpit, you'll see that along with having his hands on the wheel and throttles he is leaned back against the armor behind him.  In other words, he's ready to GO if things suddenly get bad.  That is a very nice touch.

Definitely ready for trouble.
Step 4 deals with the rear .50 cal, along with the rail and cleats.  This is the first place where I did things differently than the instructions suggest.  I wanted the rear  HMG to be able to rotate, just like the forward gun tub.  My first attempt used a metal rod through the bottom of the tripod, and a hole drilled in the deck where the mounting tab would go.  That first attempt looked like this:
The tab on the back is where the gunner will go.
I decided I didn't like that, so went with some small magnets.  How small?  Well, look at the pictures below:

The knife blade is a #11 X-Acto
So yeah, pretty tiny.  The problem with using magnets this tiny in a small spaces is that they almost always wind up going in at an angle.  That's what happened here on both the tripod and the hole in the deck.  No photos of that unfortunately, because I immediately went into problem solving mode.  Rest assured, some nasty words were said.  I finally wound up putting a patch over the magnet in the hull, and building up the bottom of the tripod.
The patch is made of .01 thickness plastic, and is 4 x 4 mm.

Not as clean as I would like, but it works.
It's a Frankenstein looking piece of work to be sure, but the gun does now sit level in the back of the boat.

The gun looks like it might sit a little high, but that's because the stern rail hasn't been glued in place yet.  Yes, the stern rail is a separate piece.  Also, once the gun and gunner are painted and the rail is in place, I will post some action photos.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

A Quick Explanation

There were not a lot of posts in May, and I want to take a moment and explain to my visitors here why that is so.

May is traditionally the month when my wife and I go and do volunteer work out of state.  Generally, when the work is done we take a little vacation as well.  On top of that, I've been trying to get more exercise like my doctor requested (well, ordered actually).  So, this May we've been busier than normal.

There are a lot of pictures to be taken over the next month.  I've just put up a new page on another area of gaming interests, and I still haven't shown you my unrated sailing ships (brigs, sloops, schooners and etc.) yet.  Hopefully, we should be back on a regular schedule soon.

As an aside, one of the things that normally happens on our vacation is that my long-suffering spouse gets dragged to a museum that I want to visit.  They're not always serious; for example, this year I wanted to go to the SPAM Museum.  We didn't have time to do that, but it turned out that we got to do something just as much fun:

We're gonna make it after all....
Yes, it's the Mary Tyler Moore statue in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  If you're too young to know who she is, then you will just have to Google it

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Seeking Some Opinions From My Readers

From the very beginning, this blog has focused on my 1/1200 Napoleonic sailing ships.  Clearly, given the blog title, that's not much of a surprise.  Now though, I'm thinking about starting to look at some of the other periods I game in.  These other periods don't bear any relation to my sailing ships, although one of them can have a naval component.

The blog subtitle does say "and other game things that attract my attention."  My question here then, is: Should I just put new pages entitled "Other Gaming Items: XXX" on this blog, or should I start another blog that focuses on these other periods, and link to it/them from here?

There are two sides to this idea:
YES:  It is my hobby blog, and I have other periods of miniatures that I play, so why not?

:  The blog focuses on 1/1200 scale sailing ships, and that is clear from the title, URL and general subject matter.  Why muddy it by including other things that don't relate to its main focus?

I can kind of see both sides of the argument here, and so am seeking some input from the readers.  Would you like to see other genres start to make an appearance here, or would the blog be better if it stayed focused on sailing ships, with other periods on their own site(s) that are linked to each other?  I've added a poll to the side of the page so you don't even have to leave a comment.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Some Real Ship Photos

My family and I went on a cruise from Saturday March 31 to Saturday April 7, and I took some very nice photos.  BEFORE YOU HIT THE BACK ARROW, HEAR ME OUT!  

Please be reassured that the photos below are not of me, or the family, or of any other "typical cruise" stuff.  Instead, they are pictures of sailing ships.  When we arrived back in Galveston, TX on April 7, the city was hosting the Tall Ships Challenge 2018 Race.  This meant that there were 4 tall ships moored in the harbor.  I got up early, and made sure that I got some pictures to post here on the blog (and also for myself, to be sure).  So, without any further ado, let's look at some pictures of real sailing ships for a change.

A bit nicer view than what we normally have coming into Galveston
In the interest of full disclosure, none of the pictures I took as we came into the port came out, so this picture of all the ships together were taken after we passed by.  The ship in the far left of this photo is the Oliver Hazard Perry.  She's actually a modern ship built to be a sail training vessel, and is 200 feet long and 13 1/2 stories tall.  There's 14,000 square feet of sail, a crew of 17 along with 32 overnight student berths and her home port is in Rhode Island.  A better photo of her is below.

Modern, but still pretty.  My wife's comment was, "She looks like one of your models."
Next up is the Picton Castle.  She was originally built as  a motorized fishing trawler in 1928, and served in WWII as a minesweeper.  In 1996 she was taken to Canada and converted into a three-masted barque.  She's 179 feet long, about 10 stories tall and has 12,500 square feet of sail.  She is also a sail training vessel, based out of Nova Scotia but registered in the Cook Islands.

Look close, and you can see traces of her past.
Next up is the Elissa.  Built in 1877, she is an iron-hulled barque.  Unlike the previous two ships, she is a survivor from the Age of Sail.  In 1975, she was sitting in a Greek scrapyard when she was rescued by the Galveston Historical Foundation.  They wanted a sailing ship to memorialize Galveston's days as the major port on the Texas coast.  She was brought to Galveston in 1979, and her restoration was finished by 1982.  Since then she has served as a museum ship that sails regularly.  According to her website, that makes her one of only three ships of her type in the world.  She's 205 feet long, 99 feet 9 inches tall, and carries 12,000 square feet of sail.  I can't find an online photo of her as she looked pre-restoration, so there's more than one photo here.  As she's my favorite, I make no apologies for giving her a bit more space.

This beauty is ported an hour or less from my front door.

Amazing how the nautical equivalent of a cardboard box
 can be such a thing of beauty.

Last up on the list is the Dutch schooner Oosterschelde.  Built in 1918 as a freight carrier, her rigging was cut back after diesel engines were installed in 1930.  She survived the Second World War, and was converted to a modern coastal trading vessel in 1950.  In 1988 she was returned to the Netherlands and from 1988-1992 restored to her sailing appearance.  She is 160 feet long, and carries 9,950 square feet of sail.

No way to take a photo of her without a little of Elissa in the picture.

According to the Galveston Historical Foundation website, there were two other ships there, but they weren't in the harbor at the time.  They were the Lynx:  a replica built in 2001 of an American privateer from the War of 1812, and the When and If.  Built in 1939, the When and If was commissioned by George S. Patton so that he could sail around the world with his wife after the war was over.

Anyway, there you have it.  A nice little break from my usual contents, but still well within the theme of the blog, I think.  The ships pictured above also have websites.  They are:

Oliver Hazard Perry: