Sunday, May 1, 2022

Custom Project: Karl Fairburne


    Although not much of a video gamer, I do enjoy the Sniper Elite series. The main protagonist, Karl Fairburne , is a skilled operator behind Axis lines. He often encounters Nazi wonder weapons and leaves the research plants crumbling in huge explosions. In the fourth title in the series, he links up with partisans in the Italian mountains. His uniform from this game is shown above. The jacket seems to be based on the Denison smock, just a little shorter and appearing in all sorts of colors throughout the game.

His leather bandolier resembles the US issue M1 bandolier, although a different material and harnessed with a cross belt and he carries the US M1923 Cartridge belt over what looks to be the braces from British 1937 Webbing. Interestingly enough, two Basic Pouches from the 37 Webbing system are strapped to his hips in an improvised fashion. Realizing I could kitbash this look, I went to work. 

    I started with the Bren gunner from Dragon's SAS set because the flared collar gave me Karl vibes. I love this kit and have a few to fill out my British Airborne force. Swapping the right arm for the kneeling officer's arm was a simple task. The harder part came with finding a head. Karl never wears any headgear in the recent games and most 1/35 heads are made for a helmet or some assorted lid. I looked at my in progress stack and found a Master Box artillery crew figure with an appropriate hair style and cut his neck to fit the Dragon figure. Guess I'll have to find a helmeted head in the scrap pile for him. 

    Now for all the equipment! Having the pouches from the SAS figures readily at hand, I secured those to his legs as well as the fighting knife to his ankle. Since I just finished a Vietnam project, I had a few M3 bandoliers for the M16 lying around. At this scale I can't tell a difference, so it found itself around Karl's chest. The bandolier was bigger than I expected and covered one side of the figure's waist, so I only had room for half of a cartridge belt. Using the "close enough" rule as always, a M1910 cartridge belt from ICM's WW1 range was glued to the other side

    Looking at more reference photos, I realized I had forgotten two important items; the US issue canteen and the custom holster that magicly fits every pistol Karl comes across. The canteen was easily fixed with an ICM M1910 from the same WW1 set as the belt. The holster was another matter. I had nothing like it in my bits bin and didn't want to sculpt a custom piece. However, since his equipment is a strange mix of US and Commonwealth, I went with an open top Webley holster.

    Over all, I think the figure turned out nicely. After batch painting for so long, I think I will slow down and try to do the best job possible on this mini. I haven't picked a rifle for him yet, as he carries everything from a Kar 98 to a scoped Winchester 1895 in-game. I experimented with a 1903A4 Springfield but wasn't satisfied with the results. As the fifth instalment of the series comes out this month, I'm sure a new crop of rifles will inspire me. I would love to hear from readers what rifle you think he should carry and what version of his coat I should paint. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Rumble In The Jungle

 This weekend I had the opportunity to run a Vietnam themed game using the Fistful of Lead rules, which have become my go-to over the pandemic and adapt well to any time period. Wiley Games has done an exceptional job with this series of games. A convention in Kansas City, March to Victory, run by the owners of Wiley Games, reminded me that I should revive this blog, but more of that on another post. 

The American force inserted at LZ Brillo Pad to inspect a near by village. Just a normal patrol as far as they were concerned. The area was already infiltrated with communist forces. Two 51 caliber antiaircraft guns, three snipers, and a machine gun nest were placed as slips of paper under various pieces of terrain. Three civilians acted as hidden movement markers. One of them actually represented a squad of Viet Cong Guerillas. I borrowed and adapted the hidden movement rules from NotJay of The Chronicles of NotJay fame. His show is fantastic and you can find it at the link above, every Wednesday night at 8:30 pm CST.

The American forces attempted to cross the river west of the LZ but came under machine gun fire from a hidden position. Casualties were taken immediately and the attempts to secure the dead and wounded led to a bunched up formation; perfect target for an NVA mortar strike. More casualties ensued. The radio operator made a desperate call for gunships to fire in support and a small OH-13 to land between the trees along the river so that wounded could be evacuated.


As the helicopters enter the board, the AA positions opened up, distracting them from the infantry push on the river. The Americans managed to secure a prisoner and place him on the OH-13 who whisked him away. However, VC forces with RPGs managed to knock both cobras out of the sky. The Americans called in a Huey to evacuate and beat a path through the jungle, dragging casualties with them. 

 The retreat was to end in disaster. A mortar barrage kept the fleeing troops heads down while communist infantry rushed the LZ. An RPG struck a Huey while it landed, destroying it and blocking the LZ from being used further. With the American force cut off from any retreat and the NVA and VC players having constant reinforcements, we called the game, ruling it a catastrophic loss for the forces of democracy. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Hobby Progress and Exploring Technology

 First things first, I am almost finished with construction on the P61. The rear canopy is giving me some trouble but so far it's going ok!

Second, I finally started the Tamiya M13/40 I was given for Christmas last year. I thought it was time to build it since I am about to run another Italian Theater campaign, but more on that later. The main construction is built and a rough black base coat is done.

Now about that campaign! The focus of this one will be the Anzio beachhead. My old roommate will run a British recon squad in parallel to my worn out 91st recon. Here's the hex map for our campaign. I used a scan I found online of the 1970 Avalon Hill game Anzio Beachhead.

But how to run the map phase of our campaign when we can't often be in the same room. Turns out there's a computer program for that! Tabletop Simulator allowed me to lay out the situation using an upload of the map I modified and some virtual Axis and Allies pieces. Exactly like I would in real life, but in a way my friend can access it and taking up a lot less space.

I also now have an Instagram! I can be found at @54mmempire. It seems even people like me can embrace new technology. When I started blogging , I never knew the doors it would open. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Birthday Build Time

For my recent birthday my wife gave me this beautiful aircraft kit. The model itself is huge! The mold is a little older, 1974 I think, but the detail and fit are still good enough for my standard. I sat down with a choice "modelling fluid", which to me means a quality cream soda, and dug in. 

So far I have assembled the fuselage and painted the crew compartments. The P61 has a lot of glass so I wanted the cockpit and gunner compartments to look nice. Although it's a purpose built night fighter, some were used for ground attack in Europe. I will use it as a ground attack gunship for my U.S. army. It may see some use in my hex campaign.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Generosity and Painting!

 Miniatures and Wargaming are truly wonderful hobbies simply because of the type of people that take part in them. Several sprues of soldiers were generously donated to me by Mannie Gentile of the Toy Soldiers Forever Blog. He is a talented craftsman and hobbyist whose blog inspired me to document my own amateur attempts. If you haven't seen his work I encourage you to check out his work using the link above. Well I have now completed all the kits he sent me and I thought I would go ahead and display them here. 

  First up is a modern U.S. sniper team. The kit included four figures but I am saving one for a special project. As I don't usually do modern subjects, I decided to build a small vignette for a friend of mine. He doesn't read my blog so he won't see it till his birthday, when hopefully I will have the base perfected. The Desert Storm uniforms were fascinating to me because of the mix of both woodland and desert camouflage patterns.

Next up were another set of Dragon Korean War Marines and three Tamiya Winter G.I.'s. As I just completed a set of the marines, and because one figure was missing his arms, I did some headgear and arm swapping from my spare parts drawer. I like the diverse look they have now. 

Here they are the four soldiers I had already completed. In the time span of a week, I went from having a handful of winter G.I.s to being able to field an entire skirmish force thanks to one mans generosity. I hope to have them on the table soon, either in the mountains of Italy or the Korean peninsula.  

Friday, July 31, 2020

An Imagination Idea! Lets See If it Sticks

An idea came to me tonight and I would love to hear some feedback from my readers on this. I love RPG style hex-crawls but I am not really a fan of RPGs. I have also been looking at my miniature collection and trying to figure out how to use all my WW2 miniatures in one big campaign. The reality is without a GIANT world sized campaign, I can't. 

But then it hit me! If I was to do an Imaginations type campaign, I could do whatever I wanted to. A Japanese style country could fight side by side with a German style country against something styled after the USSR, etc. However I have never done anything with Imaginations

If I was to do this, do I need to change the names of the super powers fighting, or just the subcontinent they are fighting over?

Is it disrespectful to actual history in anyway? 

Would following an RPG-skirmish hybrid hex-crawl appeal better to you more than the mission based hex campaign I have done before?

Thanks again for any feedback or suggestions on this idea. I'll take anything I can get.


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Death From Above!

Yesterday the old Testors U.S. Paratroopers set arrived in the mail. The sculpts are from 1979 and it really shows. besides some flat poses and some slightly off sculpting, I think I have made them serviceable. Using some Dragon weapons and ICM American equipment, I tried to give them an updated look. 

Officer and Sergeant. The sergeant was such an awkward pose but I think with the BAR and pistol he looks a bit more natural. 

Two SMG wielding paratroopers. 

Finally two riflemen. The picture doesn't show it well but I think the folding stock carbines really make this squad scream "Airborne".