Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of historical and fantasy miniatures wargaming and model building. From 15mm Flames of War, to Warhammer 40K, to 1/35th scale tanks, with some potential surprises on the horizon - you'll find them here!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Flames of War - Japanese Type 88 75mm Anti-Aircraft Gun Review

The Japanese Type 88 75mm Anti-Aircraft Gun was first accepted into service in 1928, and was designed to combat commonly encountered aircraft of the late 1920's and early 1930's. By the beginning of the Pacific War, the gun was largely obsolete, but it continued to serve until the end of the war with over 2000 being constructed. Allied intelligence regarding the gun was weak, and it was initially assumed that it was a copy of the German FlaK 36/37 gun, but only the names were arguably similar.

The Type 88 can be fielded in virtually any Japanese list taken from Banzai as a support choice (Heavy Anti-Aircraft Platoon). In addition to serving as a heavy anti-aircraft gun, it provides useful anti-take capability with AT 10 and firepower of 3+. However, the gun is immobile (though it has a turntable) and lacks a gun shield, so it can be vulnerable to ranged attack.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Flames of War - Type 97 Te-Ke Platoon Review

The Japanese Type 97 Te-Ke tankette was designed as an improvement to the machine-gun armed Type 94 based on the Imperial Japanese Army's experience in China. While the Type 94 had been useful, especially when deployed en masse against the Chinese, its armor was thin and the vehicle was vulnerable to Chinese anti-tank weapons. While externally the Type 94 and Type 97 tankettes are similar, the Type 97 was truly a completely new vehicle and could be equipped with a 37mm gun or a machine gun as primary armament. In Flames of War, the Type 97 Te-Ke can be fielded as Divisional Support in either a Tank Platoon (three to five vehicles) or a Recon Tankette Platoon (two to three vehicles) in Japanese Lists from Banzai. Battlefront has recently released this tankette as the Type 97 Te-Ke Platoon (JBX05) which contains five vehicles.

The first thing you'll notice when picking up this particular platoon box is that it is very light compared to other Battlefront offerings in the same-sized box. There is good reason for this.  Opening the box you'll see that the Te-Ke hull is molded tracks and all as one piece using Battlefront's new two-part mold process as detailed in their recent factory tour.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Flames of War - Painting Japanese Army Infantry for the Pacific Theater

The Japanese used a variety of uniforms during World War II which varied in function and coloration (sometimes quite dramatically). In Rising Sun, Battlefront provided a painting guide for Japanese infantry and gunners based on the uniforms fielded in 1939. Unfortunately with the release of Banzai, the painting guide has not been updated to reflect the uniform colors common in the Pacific War. Of course, the figures themselves are the same as the ones released in support of Rising Sun, so there will be some variations between the miniatures and some of the fine details of the actual later war uniforms. However, updating the color palette will give your force a more Pacific War feel to it.

The Uniform

Any time I try to color-match paints to photographs or historical artifacts, I create a color swatch over the primer color I'm using for that batch of miniatures to ensure I match them as closely as possible. Below is the swatch I'm using for my Pacific Japanese - please bear in mind that for all images in this blog entry, the colors will vary somewhat from a true visual color because of the limitations of the scanning process.

At this point I'm still using all Vallejo colors as I have a large library of paints, and see no need to move over to the new Battlefront colors at this time. Battlefront recommended Khaki Grey (880) for Japanese Uniforms when Rising Sun was released. They now recommend the equivalent Comrade Khaki followed by Zhukov Shade with a highlight of Military Khaki. To my eye, these colors are too brown for the Pacific Theater. Japanese Pacific Uniforms tended to be greener than those paints would indicate.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Armor Of The Arab-Israeli Wars - or - Mike's Visit To Yad La-Shiryon Part 3

In this third installment of my article covering the plethora of armor at the IDF museum and memorial Yad La-Shiryon we will be looking at the armor of the Arab states, generally Egypt and Syria, used in the 1967 and 1973 wars. One thing to remember from all of these photos, most, if not all, of these tanks have been repainted by museum personnel at some point so the paint colors are not necessarily original.

As Soviet client states, Egypt and Syria began to receive large numbers of T-54 and T-55 tanks, and these would form the backbone of both the Egyptian and Syrian armored forces in both the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The T-54/55 was one of the first true modern main battle tanks, and despite some early teething problems in the late 1940's, it would go on to become the most numerous tank in history (by production numbers) with estimates as high as 100,000 units being produced in total from all sources.

T-54 Tank - this is an earlier version

The T54/55 would go through several modifications over the years, and while the Soviet Union would eventually phase it out in favor of more modern designs, the type remains in use today by over 50 nations - often in highly modernized forms. Unfortunately much of the Soviet armor is parked very close together, so it is hard to get full views of each tank without a wide angle lens, which I didn't have with me for this trip.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Armor of the Arab-Israeli Wars - or - Mike's Visit to Yad La-Shiryon Part 2

In this second part of my article showing vehicles from Yad La-Shiryon, I'm focusing on more recent Israeli armor, starting with variants of the M48 and M60 on through the current indigenous Merkava Main Battle Tank.

In the mid to late 1960's, the Israelis were desperate to upgrade their aging tank fleet, and sought to purchase U.S. M48 tanks.  Initially the IDF received several gasoline powered vehicles from West Germany, though shipments from the United States followed.  M48 tanks in Israeli service use the designations Magach 1-3 and 5 (there is no 4).

Early Magach with the 90mm gun
During the 1967 war, roughly 150 Magach 1 and 2 tanks were deployed and fought well within the limitations of the relatively weak powerplant. After the 1967 War, the IDF began to upgrade all Magach to the M48A3 standard creating the Magach 3 - this included a new diesel engine and the British 105mm gun. Several M48's had been captured from Jordan, and these were upgraded as well. M60 tanks began to be procured as well creating the Magach 6.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Armor of the Arab-Israeli Wars - or - Mike's Visit to Yad La-Shiryon Part 1

While the Flames of War rules for the Six Day War are a couple of years old at this point (and honestly I still have a bunch of Israelis to paint), I recently traveled to Israel on business and thanks to a generous co-worker, got a chance to visit Yad La-Shiryon (you'll likely need to get Google to translate the link), or The Armored Corps Memorial Site and Museum at Latrun (as it is more officially known). The museum houses a fairly amazing collection of armored vehicles - including many you wouldn't expect to see in Israel. As someone deeply interested in the history of the multiple conflicts since the founding of the modern Israeli state, the museum was a treasure trove of unusual vehicles and really gave me a sense of perspective around the conflicts and the vehicles used. In this first part of the article, we'll look at some of the early vehicles used by the IDF from the 1940's through the 1970's.

The museum is built around a Mandate-era fortress
The first thing one realizes when visiting Israel is that it is not a large country in terms of land mass. Driving from Tel Aviv (on the Mediterranean coast) to Jerusalem (on Israel's eastern border) takes you about an hour (it's ~70km/44mi from the shore to the Old City). From North to South Israel is about the same size as Oregon (see image courtesy of MapFight below), though at least the southern third of Israel is comprised of a sparsely populated desert, the Negev.

Comparative map of the U.S. State of Oregon and Israel

Another point to note is that at least in January, Israel is fairly lush (though some of this is agriculture). Palm trees are fairly abundant, but other trees are in evidence as well.

Looking out over the parking lot to the hills to the south of Latrun
Once you enter the museum itself, the armor around the central courtyard area is mostly dedicated to Israeli armor - or at least armor the Israelis have used in various conflicts since 1948. Given the relatively arid climate, the vehicles are generally in very good condition given they're all exposed to the elements. As with most museums, the vehicles generally show evidence of re-painting, and the markings must be taken with a grain of salt (or in some cases a full salt lick).

Money shot of some of the armor used in the 1967 and 1973 wars - photobomed by a Merkava and a few others
Most vehicles have a plaque in front of them with details. These include technical details about the tank including crew size, horsepower, weight, and armament. There is also generally a history section with details about how the vehicle was used (either by the Israelis or others).

Example of one of the data cards with Hebrew and English text

The pre-World War II H-39 was used during the 1948 War by Israeli forces 

Israel's armored forces, even through the 1970's, relied greatly on foreign produced vehicles - many of which dated back to World War II or in some cases earlier. The Hotchkiss and Cromwell tanks, in addition to Shermans were used in the 1948 war alongside many different types of armored cars (improvised and purpose built).

Early Shermans at Latrun

One of many armored cars on display
The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) would go on to modernize many designs - especially the Sherman tank - to ensure that their armored forces were competitive with those of their generally Soviet equipped neighbors (with Jordan being the notable exception). The Sherman tank was up-gunned with the French high-velocity 75mm gun from the AMX-13 tank (which was also purchased and used by the Israelis).

M50 Sherman with French 75mm high-velocity gun

French produced AMX-13 light tank
Israeli Shermans generally also received new diesel engines, and many were further upgraded to the M51 standard by adding a French made 105mm gun. This powerful gun allowed the M51 to successfully engage far more modern Soviet designs like the T54, T55, and T62 using HEAT ammunition during both the Six Day War in 1967 and later during the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

M51 Sherman showing the size of the 105mm gun and muzzle brake
I really owe a great deal of thanks to my work colleague for taking me to the museum. It was an amazing experience! In the next part of this series, I'll include photos of some of the more advanced designs in the IDF inventory followed by Soviet bloc equipment, historic armor, and finally "the real oddballs!"

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Pimp My Ride - Warsaw Pact Edition

Given I'm an absolute sucker for detailing my miniatures (as seen in my various T-72 updates part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4), I didn't want to neglect the transports for my NVA Motorisierte Sch├╝tzen company either. Overall the Battlefront BMP kit (TSBX02) is pretty decent, but the one chink in the armor is at the very front (as on the T-72). The front plate (I hesitate to call it a lower glacis because of the design) has a couple of fairly unsightly and inaccurate seams and gaps where the various pieces making up the rest of the kit join. Overall the plate should be smooth with only a few details - so I decided to add the details!

Step 1 is to putty and fill the seams on the front of the miniature (shown above). Once that's done, you can start to add the details. I kept things purposely simple. There are two tow hooks near the top of the font plate, what look to be two tow rings lower down - usually with circular bases, and then two flaps covering the opening above the tracks.

For the top tie downs, I used 0.015" x 0.02" strip styrene. I eyeballed the length, but it is about 0.08". The flaps are made from 0.01" x 0.1" strip, and the length is about 0.135" - again eyeballed based on photos and the kit itself. The circles are cut from 0.01" thick sheet and are punched with a 0.048" punch from my sub-micron set. Placement is by eye based on photos. For the linear parts, I used my Northwest Short Line "Chopper", and usually had four strips running at a time - greatly shortening the time to cut enough parts!

At this point I "only" had 15 to do, and part of the rogues gallery is above. It adds enough detail to the front of the BMP to make it look semi-accurate without going absolutely crazy. I could have added more detail to the flaps (they usually have an "X" pattern on them), but decided not to this time around.

For those of you wanting an update on the T-72 turrets - they're all done (see above)! These were a blast to do, even if the wiring is a bit fiddly - thanks again to the chaps over at Breakthrough Assault for providing the inspiration!

So here's the lot ready to prime for tomorrow. A total of 15 BMP - 14 BMP-1 and my KSh, the 15 turrets for the T-72s (primed earlier), some Gaskins, and how the heck did that RV get in there????

Once this lot is primed I can actually start getting paint on them... as my son is now getting back into miniatures in a big way and will want his Americans painted - and will be painting his Ultramarines. I also have a secret project running at this point that will let me try out some extreme weathering and rust effects - so continue to watch this space!