Empress Miniatures – M1A2 Abrams TUSK CROWS Ref pics and wip9

CROWS finished ….

The CROWS is pretty much finished and ready for painting I think. Very hard to photograph due to the bits being mostly white so I had to faff around with the colour to show some of the detail. The pics are still not the best and it does look somewhat better IRL …..

Q

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Some CROWS (XM153) reference pics from the interwebs (and included for discussion only). As you can see the are several detail differences (and more in the pics in my stash) in both gun shield and overall fitting between various installations. I took some liberties with my version partly because of scale and my ability to scratchbuild and partly as it’s for wargaming use, not for diorama or competition entry.

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Empress Miniatures – M1A2 SEP TUSK conversion wip2

A little carpentry ….

Hunting for something to make the ERA (explosive reactive armour) blocks from proved tricky for a while. Sounds easy doesn’t it, after all it’s just some plastic blocks/strips. However none of the plastic sheet on hand including some acrylic was thick enough and would prove difficult to cut accurately anyway.

After much searching I went alternative and looked at the wood strip supply. I finally found something that looked close and after some measurements decided it looked almost perfect to get both the required hull length and side rail depth. I cut a test piece and decided it worked well enough to crack on with.

The wood strip is bass wood used in picture framing (1/4″ x 3/16″) and should be readily available at hardware outlets, which is handy as I’ll need more including a thicker depth for the Bradley tiles. Ideally this should be done by creating a strip of tiles with it’s mounting backing plates and then casting it in resin for the multiple copies required. I may …. still try this if I can fund some resin but as finding that amount of spare cash is unlikely I’ll probably have to carry on manually.

Either way the strip was marked to the length required for the double stacked block (13mm as the Abrams side skirt is 14mm), cut to size with the diamond saw and then cleaned up by a gentle sanding. A half way line to simulate the 2 separate blocks was marked and then an impression cut into the block with the saw. I painted it with some Vallejo Sand to seal it and check that the grain didn’t show. Being a denser wood required for picture framing all was good as so the test block was ticked off.

The Abrams has 32x ARAT XM19 ERA Blocks (31 plus a spacer block) fitted to mounting rails attached to the side skirts and so I cut 16 (to be cut to simulate doubles) blocks. I’m not sure yet how detailed the backing mounts will be yet, there’s a line to be drawn in the detail somewhere ….. 🙂

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ABRAMs TUSK ERA – ARAT-1 XM19 and ARAT-2 XM32

The Abrams can be currently retrofitted with ERA bocks as part of the TUSK (Tank Urban Survivability Kit) upgrade. Amongst other upgrades which are modular and it is possible to see some tanks with mixed equipment fits, the ERA system is fitted to mounting rails attached to the tanks side rails. This can be done with a field install kit and by troops on deployment.

The block part of the system is called ARAT-1 (Abrams Reactive Armour Tile) and the blocks are designated XM-19. The mounting package also includes brush guards fitted to the front and rear side rails. Note the front side rail on each side of the vehicle is replaced by a specialised and thinner plate although I won’t be modelling this.

To create a TUSKII level package, ARAT-2 curved tiles, XM-32, are further mounted to the side XM-19 blocks and to the sides of the turret.

REF Pics included from web sources and for discussion only. I believe some are from the excellent looking Tankograd publication M1A2 SEPv2 which is highly recommended as a modelling resource.

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And a couple of general Abrams ref pics from exercises held in Eastern Europe and showing the look I’m hoping to achieve as well as the CROWs remote weapons systems fitted to the turret roof.

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Hard Men – The Faces of War – Series One

Photo Ref feature ….

A few pictures I find interesting showing a little of the stresses, strains and hardships of war and the men who endured – a tiny view of the human side if you will. And something different from my usual focus of hardware and vehicles ….

The pictures were chosen for several reasons, some are classics such as the British Paras in Arnhem advancing towards the camera through a destroyed ruin and others add in some interesting details such as the pile of spent cartridge belts by the Middlesex Vickers team, the short lived use of the US Leopard camo uniform in Normandy and the bedroll slung under the gun cleaning tube on the Panther to name a few.

What always there, well to me anyway, is an underlying feeling of tension, of things to come, even in the pictures of relative calm like those epic dudes from T Patrol LRDG or the Normandy Commando sniper team waiting to move out …

Anyway I have tons more in my stash and hope to add to this series sometime ….

(all from open web sources and included only for discussion)

Q

ps The pictures open into a gallery and each can also be viewed “full” size from there ..

Empress Miniatures Taliban Insurgent Infantry 28mm – FIRETEAM

Men in pyjamas …..

Taliban Infantry from Empress, while aimed at more modern Afghanistan conflicts they are equally useful for the period back to and including the Soviet Afghanistan War of 1979 – 1989.

A little background might be of interest …..

Talk Afghanistan and the common thought is “Taliban” insurgents as the opposition forces. This however is a simplification of the long running real life situation. Officially the Taliban are an Islamic Fundamentalist political movement which Allied coalition forces removed from power in October 2001. The primary driver for this being the destruction of Al-Qaeda organisation who were using Afghanistan as a training base and safe haven under shelter from the Taliban.

Since then the term Taliban has been broadly used to describe those forces fighting the coalition and the Afghan National Government forces attempting to reunify the country. Those forces however come from many and varied backgrounds. Some are hardcore Taliban fighters, some are Narco criminals whose poppy and opium production (a major export of Afghanistan) has been disrupted by the fighting, others are Jihadist opportunists, suspected agitators from nearby countries and even disgruntled farmers and tribal cabals who have lost family in the conflict.

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And as usual a few ref pics …. (from open web sources included for discussion only)

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Empress Miniatures Modern USMC Infantry 28mm – FIRETEAM

Empress 28mm Modern USMC Infantry …

Some more Empress 28mm Moderns we painted (my brother Craigs brushwork) for Skirmish gaming with our FireTeam rules. The figures are in the USMC exclusive Desert Marpat camouflage pattern and have a mix of equipment probably suitable from the early 2000’s through to almost present day.

USMC Marpat was introduced in 2002 as a replacement for the shared service BDU series of patterned combat uniform and is available in two patterns, desert and woodland. Initially based on the Canadian Cadpat pattern it also introduced elements of Tiger Stripe and Rhodesian Brushstroke patterns and even manages to work in the Marine Globe and Anchor into the pattern.

Interesting trivia – As the MCCUU (Marine Combat Corps Utility Uniform) uniform system is designed to be both used for general work/fatigue duties and combat, new regulations had to be introduced forbidding it to be worn off base unlike the older general fatigue uniform.

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And some useful USMC uniform references (from public web sources and included for info/discussion only) ….

A Marine with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, sights in on his M-16A2 automatic service rifle during tank integration training with Company C, 2nd Tank Battalion, at Camp Baharia, Iraq, Nov. 2, 2004. When combined with tanks, the infantrymen put tanks in a position where they can effectively use their weapons and prosecute targets, using the tanks to their advantage on the battlefield.

A Marine with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, sights in on his M-16A2 automatic service rifle during tank integration training with Company C, 2nd Tank Battalion, at Camp Baharia, Iraq, Nov. 2, 2004. When combined with tanks, the infantrymen put tanks in a position where they can effectively use their weapons and prosecute targets, using the tanks to their advantage on the battlefield.

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U.S. Marine Sgt. Bryan Early, a squad leader with 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, provides security for Marines moving to the next compound during a patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Dec. 22. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austin Long)

U.S. Marine Sgt. Bryan Early, a squad leader with 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, provides security for Marines moving to the next compound during a patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Dec. 22. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austin Long)

040523-M-9382M-004 Marines from Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, patrol on foot through downtown Surobi, Afghanistan, on May 23, 2004.  The battalion is conducting security patrols and civil assistance operations throughout the region in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Justin M. Mason, U.S. Marine Corps.  (Released)

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Marines from Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, patrol on foot through downtown Surobi, Afghanistan, on May 23, 2004. The battalion is conducting security patrols and civil assistance operations throughout the region in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Justin M. Mason, U.S. Marine Corps. (Released)

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120322-M-PH863-005 U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Leobardo Nunez provides security during a census patrol through a village near Khan Neshin, Afghanistan, on March 22, 2012.  Nunez is an infantry automatic rifleman assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.  DoD photo by Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez, U.S. Air Force.  (Released)

120322-M-PH863-005 U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Leobardo Nunez provides security during a census patrol through a village near Khan Neshin, Afghanistan, on March 22, 2012. Nunez is an infantry automatic rifleman assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. DoD photo by Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

M26E4 Pershings Trumpeter 1/72nd – Project ’46 and SABOT Tank vrs Tank gaming wip1

Trumpeter M26E4 Pershings …..

And yes there’s another unit for use with our SABOT rules on the way, 4x M26 Pershings (2x M26E4 and 2x M26E4 Pilot Models). But before the styrene pics we have some inspirational M26 pics (from Web sources and posted for discussion purposes only).

And yes, I know some vehicles pictured are M46s, but as they’re the son of the M26 so I think they still count. So what is the difference between the M26 and the later M46? Basically the M46 is an improved M26. The visual differences are engine deck, fender mounted exhausts and fume extractor on the muzzle brake end of the gun tube. The big chance was repowering the M26 (underpowered for it’s entire production run as it used the same Ford V8 as the Sherman) with the Continental AV-1790-5A V12, air-cooled Twin-turbo gasoline engine and a new transmission. They look so similar that many Korean war pictures captioned as M26s are actually M46s ……

Q

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Military Madness – Spotlight No3

A little something to celebrate getting 100K site visits a little while back ….

Some things just can’t be rationally explained especially when the military mind is allowed full reign to express itself. The result is weird costumes, unusual camouflage and completely impractical vehicles. Just for funsies I thought I’d post a few pics from my web collection of military weirdness of the highest order ….

Enjoy
Q

VWW Prototype, as the marketing pamphlet says, “not just an amphibious car but a unidirectional amphibious car!” No orders were placed …..

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A chronic shortage of imported silk fuelled this design from ill-fated Soviet aeronaut Sergi Stupoiovich, seen here preparing for his first, and last, test flight of the assualt manbatwing.

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The 1940 German Albert Canal swim team seen here in a secret training session.

German Albert Canal swim team

The famous ‘Wake Island TD” often thought to be a military urban legend until this recent archival photographic discovery.

Wake Island TD

Wash day during the phoney war Sitzkrieg of 1939.

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2 man Northrop-Grumman 75 Gallon Droptank cycle.

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Elvis ….. the man is everywhere. Nuff said.

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Dave goes undercover. Superb costume partially let down by his failure to find a suitable Bear cavalry unit to blend with.

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No idea. So it must be something to do with excessive schnapps consumption. Obvious really.

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ICP European fun tour ’42.

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The famous British stiff upper lip and disdain for danger is evident in this picture of a tank crew fortified with cucumber sandwiches, gin and pipe tobacco ….

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Top secret War Dept field testing picture of the Vickers-Armstrongs “Cateye” image enlarging bifocals seen here attached to a “volunteer”.

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Focke-Wulf Kradschutzenskooter parked outside a coffeehaus and being admired by envious footsloggers.

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Dave undercover again, this time spotted here trying to infiltrate the temporary field HQ of OKW East during Operation Caseblue (Fall Blau).

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Oddballs design for a co-axial Thompson (Pat:Pending). Limited ammunition capacity caused this promising weapon to be relegated to rear area and training units only.

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The infamous “Bambookatana” one man attack boat was fuelled by 100 octane av-gas. First Lt Hiro on the other hand is seen here running on 40 proof Sake …..

Lt Hiro and one man Katanajunk

Experimental Soviet VVS attack-tricycle.

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Norwegian entry into the 1932 Eurotank (single man, powered) open class category competition.

Norwiegan fast attach vehicle

A7V Funtserwagen. The plan to equip a parent “carrier” A7V with 6 of these small lightweight attack vehicles was abandoned when the vehicles were found to lack a serious trench crossing ability.

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After a hearty breakfast 266 Squadron prepares for the “Boche” ….

266 Squadron

Recent budgetary cuts to the USCG saw this entry gain favour for the potential “lightweight nominal footprint” High Speed Patrol Vessel.

HSPV trials

A unit with a sense of priority ensures that their Bierhanger is securely fastened to the towing clevis.

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Bag End invaded. France surrenders. Nuff said.

French Surrender - again

And the last word must go to Spock …….

The Logic of Spock

Afghanistan Terrain Project – Spotlight No2

Spotlight No2

Been doing some background planning and collecting refs for an upcoming Terrain board project. While it’ll be used for modern Afghanistan skirmish gaming the loose plan is for it to be generic enough to be used with WW2 Desert (maybe Perrys hmmmm) and even fantasy style “Conan” games. Anyway building this will hopefully scratch an itch I’ve had for a long time to make a diorama quality 4’x4′ gaming board ….. if all goes to plan that is.

So the first stages are to gather refs pics, both good looking terrain boards for ideas and inspiration and real life refs which are the ones posted in this spotlight. The next stages are to salt away materials such as grass matting and foliage and to plan the construction properly as I want the board to be able to be fully transportable.

Q

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Early plan for the layout

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Cork to use for rock formations. The beauty of cork (and slate) is that they have a naturally occurring fractal pattern to them and are essentially “scaleless”.

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The board my brother made for Afghanistan Skirmish gaming a couple of years ago. Sadly now it’s been broken up to make standalone terrain pieces but we learnt a few useful tips and tricks while making this.

Craigs board

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Afghanistan Terrain Reference Pictures (Note a couple are from Iraq)
Of interest is the wide variety of terrain types and the pleasing (to my eye anyway) mix of desert and yellow colours and quite heavy and green vegetation.

(Pics taken from freely accessible web sources and posted here for reference and discussion only. Should any owners wish them removed please contact me)

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<> on January 25, 2010 in Kabul, Afghanistan.

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Kabul at night.

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Technical Vehicles – Spotlight No1

The first of a new series for me where I “Spotlight” on something interesting or relevant to what I’m modelling or gaming. Or just because it’s cool ….. that works for me too.

The first Spotlight is on Technicals and not meaning the tricky stuff either. Basically we’re talking about improvised weapons carriers, typically utilising the ubiquitous Toyota Hilux or similar ute type vehicle and occasionally including light trucks. I need to build a couple to use in our skirmish games and like most projects I undertake it’s off to the web to see what info and pics are available. The loose plan is to source a couple of 1/43rd die cast pickups and give them the Queeg treatment, stripping them down, rebuilding and repainting.

So the purpose of the Spotlight series is to collect and share a little of that info in one place, and here it’s a picture series of Technical vehicles from various conflicts showing differing weapons configurations (and even armour) that may be of interest to anyone wishing to construct their own Technical model.

A little Background History

Probably the most recognised widespread and publicised use of civilian unarmoured vehicles as a weapons carrying raiding platforms was by the SAS and LRDG units in the western desert during WW2. It is this light, mobile and fast attack role that Technicals are most suited for as despite their sometimes heavy weapons fit they are no match for direct combat with well used regular forces.

Technicals are commonly seen on the African continent with particularly widespread use in the Somalia and Chad conflicts. More recently it was Technicals and their mobility that helped the Taliban take over Afghanistan in the early ’90s. Current Middle Eastern conflicts such as those in Libya and Syria also see widespread use of Technicals. Where used successfully they can be seen using hit and run – rapid attack and withdrawal type tactics which play into the weapon systems strengths.

Q

Note none of these pics are my own personal property but have been copied from open web sources and are shared here only for the purposes of discussion …. should anyone viewing believe they hold copyright over any images and wish their removal please contact me.

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Technicals reportedly being used by the Taliban including the bottom vehicle which is being employed by Special Forces in an anti Taliban role.

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Interesting modification involving the fitting of a BMP turret to a frame mounted on the rear deck. Very dodgy looking in my opinion …… a flimsy angle iron frame and bad welding. On the plus side the dudes are rather nattily dressed.

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A couple of heavier Technicals from the sub continent. Light trucks are often seen as weapons carriers too which shows the variety of platforms that can be utilised to construct model and gaming Technicals.

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Middle Eastern Syrian and Libyan Technicals showing a huge variety of cannibalised weapons systems including many ex air-to-ground rocket and gun pods.

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A unusually light class of technical – not recommended due to it’s limited mobility off-road.

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To sum up I’ll leave it to Cookie to have the last word ……………

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M113 reference pics

A pic or two for Danl …… M113’s with the trim vanes extended and being used for stowage, these are the best I have but I do have others also. Out of interest on my M113s I chucked on a couple of other common US battlefield mods too. Forward facing exhausts which were used to keep the rear compartment clear of fumes when running with it open and with a smoke grenade tied to it or placed in it, it was used to pop smoke in dense bush. Added road wheels as applique armour but more interestingly specifically over the gas tank on the left rear hull, reading a bit I found that the left mounted gas tank was one reason for commonly mounting RCLs on the right hand side too …. and finally dirt filled boxes on the rear decks to give a bit of extra cover to the troopers.

Q

“C” Company, 5/60th Inf, 9th ID

M106 mortar track 2/47th Infantry “Black Panthers” 9th ID

And two both with extnded vanes, 3/5th cavalry “Black Knights” 9th ID on a sweep out of FSB Bastogne.