Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Friday, February 22, 2019

Organizing the PzKfw III Library


Organizing is probably not the right word since my ability to organize conflicts with my creativity, at least that’s the story I’m going with. What I really need is an index system. Not that the Pz III library is huge by any means but sometimes finding what I want quickly is a challenge. The ultimate goal is to collect as many books on this particular vehicle as I can but also be able to notate how useful any given book is for my current purpose.

For instance, if I’m building a model I need a reference that has information and photographs that are higher quality or are good closeups of the actual vehicle. For painting or building up units for an “army” I will be looking for historical information; vehicle markings, vehicle types, when available, or unique characteristics that make units stand out on the table. For dioramas I’m looking for photos that inspire, or set a specific mood, or bring out the human drama. In each case I’m looking for books that fulfill those specific needs. For dioramas I might be need two different references I as I move back in forth between “scenic” photos and model references.

I decided on four categories; General/Historical, Technical, Model Building and Pictures. For each category a book is given a numerical ranking; 1 is poor, 2 is fair, 3 is good, 4 is excellent. For an overall rating I total all four categories together which gives me a maximum score of 16. If I need to find a better technical book, then I would sort the data based on just the technical score. In theory with this ranking system I should be able to grab the right book every time based on what I’m doing.

Applying the system to the books in the library I find, that based on a total score, the Panzer Tract books are my best resource for just about everything. Unfortunately, if you don’t own these yet or are missing one or more of the five books you are going to be out of luck as they appear to be rapidly going out of print (hopefully they will be reprinted in the near future). I scored all five books in the series the same; General/Historical 2, Technical 4, Model Ref 4, Picture 3 for a total ranking of 13. For General, from a general perspective, these aren’t bad, but they are very dry reading. For technical information they are hard to beat though, filled with a lot more information than I even care about most of the time. For modeling reference, they are also great, nice close ups and excellent line drawings. I only give them a 3 for pictures though because they tend towards more closeups (which help the technical and model ratings) rather than the bigger “show” pictures which is what I’m really thinking about for this category. The Tank Power series by Wydawnicowo Militaria are not a bad replacement but nearly as good mostly due to the translations (these books have a total ranking of 10 as compared to 13 for Panzer Tracts).

If I’m looking for books that rate high in a specific category then I’ll just sort the worksheet, first by category, then by total ranking and then maybe by title (Not that the titles tend to be radically different). For instance if I want to look at the best model reference books I’ll sort by the model reference column with a secondary sort by total rank and I find one of the Kagero books on the Pz III J/L/M with a 4 for model ref and a 13 total, then the Panzer Tract books (same score actually), then Achtung Panzer #2 with a 4 and a 10, then the book from Shinkigensha with a 4 and a 9 and the Osprey book also with a 4 and a 9. Based on that I have several good choices for model building references and I can grab what I need probably further refined on which ausf version I’m working on. I have easy access to this data most of the time so if someone asks a question about which book to pick up I can make a decent recommendation based on how good I think the book for desired purpose.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Sledgehammer Project; Build, Pt XXII - Sledgehammer Build

I put a little more work in on the Sledgehammer itself. As I started to plan my way around the extra bits that I wanted to add I realized that I really needed to get the walkways done first so I could plan around the space they would occupy. The Plastruct diamond tread pattern, that I initially purchased, was to large so I exchanged that for something a little smaller.

I started by cutting the diamond tread, reach immediately lead to my first problem of the day. Normally I just score and snap plastic sheet, usually works even on thicker material like this. What I didn't realize is that the tread sheet was actually two pieces melded together and the side with the tread is a bit brittle which resulted in a weird angled fracture rather than a nice clean break. Fortunately there was enough extra material to allow me a second chance. I decided that it would be better to use the razor saw and saw through the material rather than take another chance at snapping and scoring.

I think the end result turned out pretty well, I need a little filler on the corners to fill gaps but that's about it.

Cut the width first across the entire piece of tread pattern

After trying to snap it. Of course the nasty ragged edge is right on the tread pattern.

When in doubt use the right tool

The thickness is about right, now I just have to figure out how to remove the supports and transfer them to the new deck.

Brass edging cut and ready to go.

Top edges cut at a 45 degree angle (approximately).

A quick test fit which was followed up with some trimming

Not perfect, but with a little filler at those corners it will work out just fine.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Sledgehammer Project; Preparation Pt XXI - More Acquisitions

Moving along with the Taurox side of the Sledgehammer project the Bison half track set arrived over the weekend. I found these resin cast parts on eBay. The eBay seller name is Machinator248 (also known as Blood & Skulls Industry) and they have a large selection of resin aftermarket detail parts for GW kits. There are a number of different suspension options in their store for the Taurox, two versions for half tracks (Bison and Buffalo), one six wheeled (Longhorn) and one eight wheeled (Wildebeest). I wanted something with at least some track on it so I opted for the half track option.

The parts arrived on Saturday and I am quite pleased with them. The resin is well cast, no bubbles, that I can find, at least on the important surfaces. There is a minor amount of flash that I would expect with any hand poured resin cast and is easily cleaned up. The detail is nice and crisp, naturally there are some mold lines running through that detail, that's just the way things go. If you are looking for some aftermarket parts for your GW kits or anything else for that matter you should take a look at their extensive selection.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Kickstarter Loot - Armies & Legions & Hordes

One of my kickstarters delivered over the weekend; Armies, Legions and Hordes by Dave Taylor or Dave Taylor Miniatures. This kickstarter did very well and it went far enough that it came with a slipcase cover for the book. I nice edition. This is 171 page hardcover that covers a variety of army projects along with chapters on inspiration, planning, aims and expectations. Its full of great photographs on nice paper with at least what appears to be a very solid binding. Bindings on some of my kickstarter books have been less than stellar over the years.

I have to admit though that I was initially disappointed with the book. I was expecting more of "how to paint these armies" than what initially appeared to be just a bunch of army photographs. I took a little time though and actually read what the book and that is the key here, this book needs to be read and absorbed there is a lot of great information here and while it may not be focused on the how to paint it is focused on how to plan and execute building and painting an army. While the primary focus is how GW 40K armies there are a variety of other projects included as well, my favorite being the British Napoleonic army. This book is going to help you get those armies painted. Its written from the understanding that you know how to paint already, Taylor is not forcing his style of painting on you, just guiding you through getting started and getting finished.

If you paint armies, and most of my readers do, then I think this is a good book to have handy especially if you are contemplating starting yet another new army project. I don't know if this book will actually see the light of day in game store, many kickstarter books don't, but I would grab it if you see it or borrow one if the opportunity presents itself.

Nice slip cover, a little plain but certainly functionality

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Opportunity Lost

“My battery is low and it’s getting dark”, our last communication with the Mars Rover Opportunity in June of 2018. What an incrediable feat. A device designed, built and tested in just 36 months with a mission parameter to exceed 90 days. 15 years certainly exceeds that parameter.

Fare well old friend.