Empress Miniatures – T90A conversion wip15 and Navy Combat Divers

A little more …

Small steps closer to finishing. Base weathering started and crews greenstuffed and base painted.


And a bit of fun. As a change from basic black I decided to paint the Empress Navy Divers up as French Commandos from Operation Pork Pie. So officially they are French Commandos, disguised as Navy Seals, disguised as retro French Oceanographers, and all to try and fool the NZ Police Force (which they failed at by the way). Now I need a few 28mm Zodiacs ….





Empress Miniatures – T90A conversion wip10

A little xmas progress …

My new replacement wheels for the T90A conversions arrived from Croatia yesterday care of Djani Vrsalovic (via Track48 forum or FB 1/48 Armour Forum). As it was either mix and converse with the family, gouge out an eye or sneak in a little work on my project, the project was a clear winner.

Basically the process is to grind off the outer roadwheels and fit the new ones. The new wheels, actually late T72 6 spokes, are 1/48th and the spacing is a little cramped but I’m pretty sure the much improved look hides the slight increase in diameter. If I really want to I could always reduce the size a touch if it bugs me but at the moment I think it looks pretty good.




HOQ Rule sets – Fire Team, Oscar Mike, World at War and SABOT

In-house rule sets and much more (well a little bit more) …..

Over the last few years we’ve slowly (very) been working on tidying up our various in-house rule sets. It started as a project to update them for ourselves but we also decided that if they tarted up ok we’d eventually make them all available to other gamers free (ie a donation if you feel like it). Recently while working with Empress on a Modern Battlegroup set (Oscar Mike) and totally unplanned, we snaked our way back to first principles gaming (ie no dice or tables games). The result was we ended up revising our core play combat systems. Very much for the better as it turns out as it’s really given our gaming and hobby a new impetus. Sooooo what are we working on …..?


Fire Team and Oscar Mike. Fire Team is our own set of 8-20 man modern skirmish rules with a dose of RPG elements thrown in (that’s Role Playing Game not Rocket Propelled Grenade!). It was basically finished and had been pretty well tested but is now being re-vamped with our new combat system which greatly simplifies things but still allows for detail where it’s wanted. That and the lure of making a “Syrian-Modern” style destroyed city terrain board has generated some excitement again.

Oscar Mike is a Battlegroup sized rule set we’re working on with the Lads at Empress and is aimed at 1-2 platoons and 6-8 vehicles a side, although it scales up and down easily. As this is a collaborative set it, and any supplements, will eventually be available (hopefully middish 2017) from Empress Miniatures once play-testing is complete and assuming it’s successful too …. 🙂



World at War (working title lol) is a Platoon-Company sized WW2 game. Originally just set in Western Europe we’ve been using and tweaking our WW2 rules for over 30years of gameplay. Oddly this was our rule set we were most happy with as it always matched up to the thousands of books and combat accounts digested. However the new combat system plays so well that even this has gotten a re-write to use that as it’s core. The equipment lists are currently being expanded to cover most of the middle to late war.

Sabot is our Tank vrs Tank tabletop RPG game. Again this is getting a dose of the new combat system and a focus on making the gameplay a little easier (some features were nice but needed tech to speed up the play which is beyond our resources) and with more focus on crew development and skills progression.

We’ll probably convert Fire Team to the WW2 setting as well so allowing a man focused small WW2 skirmish game in the style of the Commando comics we loved so much.


Sci-fi Fantasy

Just pure funsies here. We grew up playing Space Opera and Traveller and have a deep love of sci-fi. Upon hitting upon our new combat system it’s opened up Sci-fi gaming for us again as being able to be both simple but with depth, so it’s all ahead with the rules. The front end is done and allows any type of sci-fi troop type you can think of to be easily created with simple and relative stats. Races that can be created include from a few base values include Hordes (Tyranid, Alien and Arachnid types) creatures, Warrior races (think Klingons, Proxims and Krogans), Alphans, Human Planetary Forces, Heinlein inspired Power-Armoured Assault Troopers (gee I wonder were the idea for “space-marines and terminators came from”) and Robots. While not laser-locked on our Radar as being urgent, it’s hard not to feel the liberating freedom of being able to game anything you’ve ever read or watched in the Genre with one base system and not requiring to buy every specific rule set or kickstarter ….

Survival Horror. Bit of a touchy one this one. It’s been on our “to game” list for almost 20years now so it’s definitely not a fad but we have had a couple of souring experiences that have pushed this back into the dark for a while. Long story short, imagine some naive kiwi lads (then part of another rules company) talking with a major gaming and miniatures company and their partnered publishing house about a rule set (none of their games or books had any “Z” related stuff in their published collections at that stage). After taking a copy of said rule set, offered in good faith of an agreed working relationship, but professing no real interest at all in that type of thing (“but we’ll see what marketing says”) it was exciting to see who ended up recently releasing a fully fledged Survival Horror game heavily using the rules concepts and systems my brother wrote most of – lesson, don’t trust big companies where profit, ideas and small developers are concerned. Tossers already had a line on procuring another manufactures “infected and survivors” miniatures we suspect, but didn’t have a rule set so were being total cynical cxxxs in pretending to have no interest. Either way producing this would be the second time we’ve re-written a Horror set but unfortunately now have most of our enthusiasm for the project sapped, so probably only the WW2 based set is ever likely to see the light of day fitted with the new combat system.


Of course we could always just batten down the hatches and dig out our WW1 Air Wargaming rules or Starship Battles sets and play with those for the next few years, such is the fickle directionless life of a tumbleweed in the wind ….. 😉


Empress Miniatures – BMP3 wip

BMP3 progress ….

Fortunately not much to do to these boys compared to the Bradley and T90 although I may add some side ERA to the third vehicle when that arrives later to make the numbers up to a platoon. Add ons are just really cosmetic goodness, front MG brush guards, a few grab handles, wiring for the turret laser and searchlight and thickening up the hatches which are quite a bit more prominent on the real vehicle.


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And some final detailing on the T90 and Bradley which are now pretty much ready to undercoat. The remaining final detailing will be added after most of the painting is completed …

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emp t90 061 900

Airfix Jackals – take 2 …. or more

More Airfix modern goodness …..

We have some more Airfix Moderns on the bench (including a Coyote, Warrior and hopefully with a couple of WMIKs thrown in later). Got a few resin and PE goodies for them so they are getting the royal treatment for a change vrs just some nice paint 🙂

Not too much to see as basic assembly is underway. Lower hulls are in place, replacement resin wheels on and the side PE screens attached, enough to allow the next steps which pretty much need the crew positions to be sorted out first.



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SPETSNAZ – Empress Miniatures 28mm conversions for FIRETEAM

Spetsnaz conversions …….

Some wicked Spetsaz in Gorka (mountain – windproof) uniforms which hopefully will see use in our Fireteam skirmish games. They’re being made by our friend Jon (and are from his collection) who’s also a superb painter and a bit of a Soviet nutter. The figures are made from Empress Modern Russians with head swaps (plastic from the Perry Africa Corps set) and the odd equipment embellishment made from greenstuff.

They’re painted in the universal windproof Gorka combat suit which comes in quite a range of tans and olive greens and now often with a camouflage patterned shoulder section. I’ve attached a few reference pics filched from the web (for purposes discussion only).

And a quick word about the Spetsnaz as it can be quite confusing knowing who’s who.

In general Spetsnaz is a term globally used to encompass Russian (and Russian and ex-Russian states) special forces. Spetsnaz literally means Special-Purpose (spetsialnogo naznacheniya). Broadly speaking Spetsnaz units fall under the command of three branches;

Spetsnaz GRU – Soviet (Russian) Ministry of Defence special forces
These include Ground Forces, Naval and Airborne Spetsnaz units.

Spetsnaz FSB – State security (KGB-FSB) special forces
Counter terrorist specialist units such as Alpha Group

Spetsnaz MVD – Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) special forces
Internal policing troops such as Special Rapid Response Units (S.O.B.R.) and various local named OSNs (Special Purpose Detachments) such as the 25th OSN Merkuriy (Smolensk).

I might expand on these guys a bit more later as Special Forces are something we’re planning as a FIRETEAM supplement, when we get organised that is, maybe a kickstarter would help, or a kick in the “a….s” more likely 🙂


jspn gk 022

jspn gk 038

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Some Gorka equipped Spetsnaz reference pics (from open source web sources and included for discussion only)

modsov spgorka 22-2

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Empress Miniatures Delta Force 28mm – FIRETEAM

Delta Force ….

The start of our Special Forces venture which will hopefully include some new units to add to this one as well as eventually USN Devgru (SEALs), SAS and FSB/Spetnaz.

And some background;

The 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D), popularly known as Delta Force, is the U.S. Army special operations unit tasked with such missions as hostage rescue and counterterrorism, direct action and reconnaissance against high-value targets. It’s the US Army counterpart to the possibly better known United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (or DEVGRU), also often referred to as SEAL Team Six.

Formed in 1977 under command of an ex Green Beret Officer Charlie Beckwith, it’s exact composition and strength is classified although some known sections include;

A Squadron (Assault)
B Squadron (Assault)
C Squadron (Assault)
D Squadron (Assault)
E Squadron (Aviation)
G Squadron (Advanced force operations, Reconnaissance and Surveillance)
Combat Support Troop (Contains WMD Experts, Breachers, and other specialists)


emp US8 Delta  1250 v2

emp US8 Delta  inf 1100cu v2

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And some refs (from open web sources and included for discussion purposes only)

delta 554

delta 556

USarmy Delta  Tom Spooner rtd

delta 559

delta 553


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.


emp TALI1 900 5lg

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

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ref tal 012

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.


emp USMC1 900 5lg

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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.

usmcref 002

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)

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)

usmcref 005

usmcref 007

usmcref 008

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)

FIRE TEAM – Russian Federation Ground Forces Infantry – Empress Miniatures Modern Russians 28mm

Back from the dead …….

It seems like another apology for an unforced absence is in order. 2015 started well but during the later half I struggled with various health issues that made modelling at best uncomfortable and when at worst – impossible. At present I’m back at the table and trying to catch up firstly and most importantly on commissions that are now very delayed and after those then hopefully to get back into some of our own projects.

Fortunately my brothers been picking up some slack on our modern Fire Team project and here’s some of that result, 28mm Russian Federation Infantry from Empress Miniatures, along with a few packs and simple conversions from their older Cold War range. The later figures are in the new Ratnik (Warrior) uniform system featuring new LBE, Coms and Armour Protection systems which have comparable levels of performance to those systems more commonly seen in Western Nations.  After being issued primarily to elite troops for trials the Ratnik system is now being rolled out to first line units with around 80,000 sets having recently been deployed.


RUS01 1000 RUS02 1000 RUS03 1000 RUS04 1000 RUS05 1000 CWR06 1000 CWR07 1000

References and Painting

To go with the latest “Ratnik” uniforms the troops have been painted in the summer variant of the Russian pixelated camouflage. The “digital” style camo system was introduced around 2008 and is known as EMR or unified camo (as used by all armed forces) and the pattern is often called Tsifra, Tetris or “Digital Flora.” The other various colour combinations commonly used include Northern, Winter and Urban patterns.

We painted the figs to get an impression of the pattern rather than detailing the individual dots and used the following colours;

Coat d arms: Russian green for uniform
Coat d arms: Black Green for digital spots
Coat d arms: Panzer grey for weapons, gloves and some(little) for digital spots
GW: Tallarn flesh and elf flesh blend/highlight with gryphone sepia wash for faces
Any yellow paint and several layers of sepia wash for lens of glass goggles
Vallejo: Iraqi sand for drybrush dust – use lightly and very dry…

Useful Ref Pics …….

modru inf 023

modru inf 041

modru inf 025

modru inf 076

FIRE TEAM Air Support – Hasegawa 1/48th AV8B Harrier

Fire Team air support …….

In between life issues I managed to get a little work done on the USMC air support part of our Fire Team Skirmish gaming project. The 1/48th Hasegawa Harrier is assembled and waiting the addition (purchase) of a pilot and underwing stores as the kit comes with nether. This is the first plane I’ve built in many many years and I was definitely a little rusty. This boy has some tricky fit issues too, especially around the upper wing and lower ventral stores/undercarriage areas. A little filler and like most of my builds I’ll make up for it with the paint ….. that’s the theory anyway 🙂


av8b - 048 1440

av8b - 044 1440

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And a little inspiration for the Harrier and the Cobra/Viper I’ve got to build ….



AGM-114 Hellfire loaded by members of the USMC(MWSS-373) onto A USMC AH-1W SuperCobra at Tikrit

FIRE TEAM – 28mm Modern Skirmish wargaming – Rules testing 2

Rules testing . . .

Oddly although this is titled “rules testing2” it’s actually the first part of the game that I managed to get a few pictures from (see the US pics in an earlier post). And of course we’ve played a few more than 2 games 🙂

Anyway the game went as follows,

A British section (2 Fire Teams plus command) went on a routine village foot patrol unaware that the villagers had fled and the insurgents moved in in some strength. The first few turns were patrolling for the Brits with the Insurgent commander rushing on off table fighting groups to strengthen their hold on compound 67 in the town centre.

The insurgent commander brought in some (admittedly largely inaccurate) harassing mortar fire to suppress and force the Brits to go to ground while he positioned his forces. After a turn recovering (straight-forward with no casualties to complicate things) the UK infantry teams worked forward taking the insurgent positions under fire. Again the results were largely suppressive but it allowed the Fire Teams to close up into assault positions while hastily called in support (A Warrior MIFV) arrived.

The Warrior moved up and opened fire but after causing one observed insurgent casualty it’s fire was unable to breach the thick compound walls. The insurgents then unleashed a hail of RPG fire causing the Warrior to first button up and then neutralising it with several hits (2 direct hits which luckily failed to penetrate). The harassed British then called in the local US heavy force (with a Marine Abrams to breach the compound) and withdrew to seal off the perimeter of the village.


The UK Infantry start enter the edge of the village for a “routine” foot patrol ….

ft uk atc 200

ft uk atc 201

The Insurgent Commander observes the Brits and orders up his reserves by cell phone, then calls some harassing fire from an old soviet mortar. Widely inaccurate (or just unlucky depending on who was rolling the dice) the crew blamed their lack of success on rusty ammo.

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An old WW2 era Soviet 82-PM-43 mortar is called in to suppress the UK Infantry

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The Brits call up some fire support in the shape of a Warrior and work their way forward, suppressing and pinning the insurgent firing positions.

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The Insurgent Commander orders his fighting teams to drive back the steel beast with RPG fire. Two misses and 2 non-penetrating hits cause the Brits to call in heavier support before they retire, sealing in the perimeter and closing in the insurgent escape routes.

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ft uk atc 233

FIRE TEAM – 28mm Modern Skirmish – USMC AH-1Z Viper and AV-8B Harrier

Fire Team Aircraft and Helicopter Supplement ….

For those of you that look in from time to time, sorry for the absence. I’ve been pretty crook and this is the first time I’ve been able to sit at the PC (let alone model) for a couple of weeks now. Anyway in keeping with our USMC vehicle theme some 1/48th aerial support arrived from China recently, a Hasegawa AV-8B Harrier and Kittyhawk AH-1Z Viper.

Both kits look packed with detail but the Kittyhawk Viper really is a nice piece of kit. Colour markings plates with instructions, canopies come sealed in a cardboard box to protect them, PE, 3x markings options and even a set of resin rivet’s to add detail.  Soooo looking forward to getting into these guys a bit later.

On the rules front things are also looking good with the Aircraft and Helicopter Data and rules supplement basically done and the Combat Vehicle supplement not far off either. All in all after years of neglect (we have home rules written for just about everything (period/type wise) that just need some tidying up) our moderns are coming together nicely . . .


Hasegawa 1/48th USMC AV-8B Harrier II

AV8B - 001 1024

Kittyhawk 1/48th USMC AH-1Z Viper

AH1Z - 001 1024

FIRE TEAM Rules layout teasers

FT scs pg5

FT1 p0

FT1 p1

FT scs pg67

FT scs pg19

FT scs pg8

FT scs pg17

FT scs pg51

Aircraft and Helicopter Data and Rules layout teasers

FTAS1 p1

FTAS1 p2

FIRE TEAM – 28mm Modern Skirmish wargaming

Rules testing ….

A few pics from a recent 28mm Modern Skirmish game being used for playtesting one of our rule sets. Nothing too fancy as it was more to test concepts and to make sure our WW2 rules would work (with the necessary adjustments) in a modern setting. Anyway it was a chance to push around some of my vehicles with my brothers figures and on his cracking Afghanistan / Middle Eastern terrain.

The game was actually the second in a series, the first being an ambush conducted against a UK Infantry patrol. This game featured US Special Forces called in to bring some heavy firepower to bear on the fortified compound located in the first game.

Vehicles are MATVs by Empress and a 1/48th M1A1 by Gasoline (M1A2 converted to USMC)
Figures are Special Forces by Empress and the “Insurgents” are mostly Empress with some Radio Dishdash.






HOQFT - US005 3






HOQ Modern Rules

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.



Early plan for the layout


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”.

cork_bark  antic

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

somewhere-in-afghanistan 22





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)


















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










Kabul at night.


Operation Herrick British Battlegroup – Airfix 1/48 Warrior, Jackal, Coyote and Land Rover

Some group shots of the finished Brits …..

Taken last week before the convention, unfortunately they didn’t get on the tables as the games were scenario based battles between Taliban and ISAF Infantry with players playing three games with each side. The games were played in great spirit by all and I was jammy enough to have a bit of luck, winning 5 and drawing 1, although I’m claiming that one as a moral win for my Taliban as I prevented the ANA from gaining their objective. What I learned was that a mob of Taliban can look much more scary than their skill/stat lines would show (I took a force of 15 so many were really poor quality) and can tie up very small elite special force groups (5 or 6) unless they are handled very aggressively. We also used random event cards which ranged from being hilarious, pinning a sniper with “Jelly belly” to scary effective, my Tali boys being the target of a “fast air” strike and scattering in panic. All in all and even though the vehicles only got to watch it was great fun ……

And as for the Tankies themselves, the build wips are buried in my blog but to recap the Jackal, Coyote and Snatch are straight out of the Airfix box with only aerials added while the Warrior has had a bit more fiddling done to it, and needs a touch more as I still have the armoured glass windows to fit to the turret crew survivability kit. They are brush painted using both Humbrol enamels and GW acrylics and weathered with oils. Now to start building the others …….


afg grp 020 1400

afg grp 021 1400

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jackals n coyote 124 1400

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warror 122 1400

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warror 130 1400 cu

Oshkosh M-ATVs Empress Miniatures 28mm – finished

And close behind the Abrams the M-ATVS are also finished …….

The Empress Miniatures M-ATVs are now also finished. And yeah, as finished as they’re going to get for now but they still need stowage and suspension bits fitted to both vehicles (if you look closely you might just see the coil springs, swing arms and sump guard fitted to one of them). These were also finished in the same way as the Abrams, brush painted mostly with Humbrol enamels, detailing with GW acrylics and shading with oils.

They’re big units and we’ll see just how big once they get next to some of my brothers afghan buildings he’s been working hard on at the convention next weekend. Despite the time taken I think I’d like to do a third as a special forces SOCOM truck, as they have some nifty add on mods. Also we might make a couple of CROWs remote weapon stations which were fitted to all the later vehicles (2010 onwards), hopefully making them interchangeable and swappable with the OGPK manned turrets. They’d make a neat comparison to the OLD school Generation Kill style HMMVW unit that I want to build …..

And a list of changes and improvements ;

drilled out the manned turret windows and fitted armoured glass from clear scrap,
fitted a rear ammo ready use bin to the Mk19 turret,
added hatches and joystick traverse controller to both turrets,
added a Rhino IED jammer, mounting bracket, guide rod and wiring to one truck,
fitted an IBIS Tek front mounted tow bar with tie down strap,
added front coil springs, suspension “A” arms and sump guard to one truck,
fitted support chains to the cabin steps
added aerials (x4) to each vehicle,
fabricated coms/jammer transformer box and fitted to the upper rear hull on both,
added support frame and tie strap to the spare wheels,
fitted mud flaps,
added mesh to the rear storage boxes,
remodelled the rear Sat/comms antenna,
added rear mounted folding crew steps,
added lift rings to hull sides,
fitted emergency door pulls to one truck,
added wiring to the front aerial stands
fitted mirrors to the front, doors and turrets of both trucks,
added mesh to the front grills

Things to watch out for and that I’d improve next time ……..

The rear storage bin (entire deck and support frame) is located incorrectly, as it sits the rear wheels don’t have the correct distance between the wheel and mudguard to allow the same suspension travel as the front wheels. It needs to be raised higher so that the top of the frame is level with the roof.

Also on the rear vehicle the storage bins are longer, reaching back almost flush with the real hull. I suspect the floor might also extend back closer to the hull also but can’t find a clear picture of this area. As it sits as supplied any stowage in the back will fall out between the gap with the hull. I fitted a larger storage box from the spare box into each vehicle to fill this gap but it really the bins need to be extended and the gap between the frame and hull filled in with the large wiring conduits visible in this area.


Great casting and as supplied makes into a really nice gaming model. It’s also big enough to be able to go as far as you want to with extra detailing. I had a couple of casting holes (easily fixable with filler) and one turret casting had shifted off centre which I cleaned up as best as I could with a file. The rear storage area, frame and mudguard assembly really needs raising but TBH is not essential for gaming as not many will notice and it doesn’t detract from the impressive look of the finished model. And I have a cunning plan for glazing the main cabin windows for next time ……


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M1A1 Abrams Gasoline 1/48 – Finished

Yup finally finished ……….

After about 80 or so hours here she is, my conversion of the Gasoline 1/48th M1A2 into an Afghanistan styled USMC M1A1 HC. Even though there’s a couple of things I’d still like to adjust and add they can wait and for now I’m calling it done.

For those interested it was brush painted in Humbrol enamels and GW acrylics, lined and shaded with Windsor and Newton oils and weathered with MIG and homemade pigments. The markings are fictitious and a mix of Gasoline supplied, hand painted and spares box finds.

Below is a list of changes and improvements made ………..


made a heavy tank patten tow bar and fitted to front,
added deep wading exhaust stack,
fitted infantry phone / coms boxes,
added lift rings to front lower and rear upper hull
added rear tow cable and shackles,
removed drive sprocket guards and trimmed hull resin blocks away from track run,
detailed front track guard springs, added foot step straps and front hull mounted bracket


spaced forward approx 3mm, filled gap and added scribed detail,
added lift/accessory mounts,
rebuilt top hinged rain cover,
removed Simfire training flare launcher,
cut off muzzle brake (the kit one is either modelled backwards or fitted with a muzzle cap) – made new one and remounted the laser


removed the CITV unit from the turret left top and fitted a blanking plate and bolts,
added front and side CIPS panels,
detailed gunners primary sight and added doors,
added Blueforce GPS tracker,
made M1A1 CWS (commanders weapons station) – cupola, vision blocks and gun mounting,
detailed CWS 50cal, fitted brass barrel and added thermal sight
improved loaders M240 weapons mount by adding shield, armoured glass, thermal sight, handles and barrel details,
cutoff smoke discharger ammo boxes – rebuilt and repositioned,
replaced M1A2 Army smoke dischargers with scratch built USMC M257 8 tube smoke dischargers
added spare roadwheels and mounting clamps to bustle,
made and fitted rear bustle extension,
fitted stowage, fillers from spares box, packs from Blackdog, ammo boxes, cardboard boxes and rear bustle tarp from Paul Wade,
corrected bustle mounted APU and detailed with panels and lift rings,
added DUKE IED jammers FAC aerials and Sat/coms mast,
fitted tow rope, mounting clasps and front bump covers

Things to watch out for

The left front track run is raised slightly, ie the left front roadwheel and forward part of the track is off the ground instead of sitting flat. A fix would be to cut off the LHS front roadwheels (front three), attach the right track first and once thats firmly set fit the left track, repositioning the front wheels and track until they sit correctly with the tank level.

The rear hull plate (with exhaust and light fittings) is too wide for the rear hull casting. If fitted as supplied the edges stick out past the hull sides when they should be flush. I filed the edges back to fit but slightly cut into the light fitting. A proper fix would be to cut off the light fittings, attach the plate and file flush with the hull sides, then the refit the lights.


As supplied the kit assembles into a very nice US Army M1A2. The castings are clean and very well detailed. There are some minor fit issues with the rear hull plate, the front left track not sitting flat and the front right track being twisted. These are probably due to the age of the master (it’s an early Gasoline kit) but are fixable. Also they may not be noticeable to anyone not very familiar with the Abrams. The kit is also a great base for further detailing and hopefully Gasoline will release an accompanying Bradley at some stage …….

Finally a very special thanks to Oliver at Gasoline who kindly supplied additional roadwheels so they could be mounted as spares to the turret bustle – top customer service!


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M1A1 Abrams Gasoline 1/48 – M-ATVs Empress Miniatures

Final detailing complete …………

A combined post this time as both lots of vehicles are being finished on the painting bench together now and final detailing is pretty much completed.

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The Abrams got CIPs (Combat Identification Panels) panels added. I know they aren’t fitted on Marine vehicles in Afghanistan but this is technically a mild “what if” vehicle anyway with the premise being an escalated Marine deployment somewhere in the near future. I also added the additional twin aerial suite fitted to tanks used as FACs or forward air controllers. Some more stowage was added, a couple of packs from Blackdog and some cardboard boxes from one of Paul Wades excellent modern British stowage sets (that’s also where the large rear bustle mounted tarp came from). A rear mounted tow cable and a mast mounted sat/coms antenna was also fitted. Lastly, and completing everything for the Abrams, I improved the loaders M240 machine gun with handles, detail strips to the front barrel and by adding a thermal sight made from tubing and brass rod.

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The M-ATVs are also now completed apart from some stowage to go into the rear cages which will be added after that area has been shaded but before final pigments go on. I added a tie down strap to the vehicle with the front mounted tow bar, both got wire mesh added to the stowage cages. along with mirrors, aerials and rear mud flaps.

I reworked the front mounted Rhino IED jammer as it had been bugging me for some time. It got beefed up as it was too small, wiring and I added a carbon fibre rod (drivers visual aid) which sticks up to mark the front of the vehicle when the jammer is deployed in the down position and wiring. Finally I fitted two large plastic crates to the inside cage to block the gap between it and the rear hull so the stowage can be fitted without falling out. This gap is incorrect as on the real vehicle the two rear stowage bins sit flush with the rear hull and although I can’t find a pic I would assume the rear deck does also. Stowage will just be mixed packs and crates although I may make a Javelin out of rod as they are also commonly stowed in the rear cage area.

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M1A1 Abrams – Gasoline 1/48th – Fire Team build log 9

Lining and base shading complete …..

Getting close to finishing the Abrams. Panel lining and some pre shading of the lower hull is finished. As mentioned below and with the M-ATVs I used an old school oil paint based mix for the pin washes. I used Windsor and Newton (the tubes are about 30years old lol) Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber thinned down with a lot of turps. Using a very fine brush the wash is run along the panel lines and edges leaving the flat parts clean. As oils don’t dry immediately any excess or mistakes can be cleaned up with a fresh brush and clean turps ……

A quick note on this part of the process, most 1/35th modellers will gloss varnish the entire model (often using Future, a brand of floor polish)before applying any turps based oil washes. This protects the base finish from the white spirit and allows it to flow a little easier. I did varnish the Abrams first, using Testors Dullcoat which is a lacquer based matt varnish. It has a totally different surface tension to gloss varnish however and is only suitable for localised pin washes and not overall sludges washes or filters. It’s just a different method and approach …. and like all methods may or may not work for you !!! lol

Anyway it’s on to the proper weathering and final detailing next ……


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