Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Sci-Fi Communication Tower in 28mm

This post is in response to questions about construction of my Comm Tower that appeared in the photos with my 28mm bunker complex that were posted sometime back.  Some of the following is a rehash from my long dead website, mixed with some additional info.

The Comm Tower is was conceived as communications station capable of deep space communications on a newly settled world. The base consists of a small bunker that can house a few troops during times of need, and the communications mast.  The idea is that bunker is a precast standardized component designed to mainly resist tampering by civilians or alien fauna.  The  main access door opens into an equipment room with tiny quarters inside. It has two roof hatches to permit access to whatever sort of equipment might be mounted on top.

The design was first sketched out on graph paper in full scale.  Basic construction was is from .06" styrene plastic, solvent welded  with a disposable syringe and Tenax 7R solvent.  The tubes for the roof hatches are acrylic, I think from Plastruct.  They were super glued in place and blended into the basic shape with styrene sheet and automotive glazing compound or putty.  For sanding the styrene and putty, I find that the Squadron wet/dry sanding stick are quite helpful.  Yes, all of the doors and hatches are pinned and hinged.  I am that sad.

  The view below gives some idea of the size with older GW Imperial Guard figs posted next to the door.  
  A view from the rear showing the equipment boxes extending from the back of the base.  They are made from styrene and patterned sheet from Evergreen.  The stairs are part of an Evergreen  kit; the railing is Brass wire from K&S.  
  The comm mast was made from Evergreen tube, sheet, and Plastruct vessel flanges (the gray rings near the top of the mast).  The catwalk is wide enough to permit access by the GW style bases on many of my sci-fi figs.

The comm mast was assembled to allow the later addition of wires for LEDs to give a little more life to the contraption, though I don't know if i will ever get around to it.

  The antenna array complete.  The dome and dish are parts from Plastruct, as are the cage and ladder, the phased-array looking panels are patterned tile sheet from Evergreen.   
  Triangular supports for the catwalk extend beyond the edge of the platform to give a rigid mounting point for the vertical rail supports. The rail itself is made from .02" thick by '06 wide styrene strip. I curved the strip by rapping it around a small bottle, attached one end to a support, then worked may way around the the catwalk, attaching to the supports with solvent as I went. A second strip was glued inside the fist to give the rail more strength.

  The base is painted with Polly Scale Israeli Khaki, "metal" parts are painted with Vallejo Russian Green. The base was then weathered with a several mixes of Polly scale Old concrete and Israeli khaki to bring out the waffle pattern a bit and dust up the green parts.

The waffle pattern was made by painting a coat of artist's acrylic paste onto the masonry surfaces of the bunker, letting it surface dry, and then pressing fiberglass drywall tape into the semi dried paste. The result is a Zimmerit-like texture.  
  The roof of the bunker is press fit in place, and is removable to permit eventual interior detailing and battery installation for the LEDs  
  A few more pics, showing how the roof and mast fit into the base unit.  

And lastly, a view of the unfinished interior.The plan is to someday put an electronics control bay to the front of the interior, and a submarine-like quarters for 2-4 for those when the natives are restless.

  And there you have the communications tower, a lovely target for any season.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

AAR9 - Closing the Gate

This is the second of three after action reports on the Mugabian effort to secure Pettu tribal territory in Uwanda.

The battle took place at objective A58 on the map below.  The river crossing there is the only direct road access to the Pettu territory.  Securing the crossing and village would severely limit Uwanda's ability to reclaim the Pettu territory.  On the map below the solid black line is the border between Uwanda (left) and Mugabia (right).  The Pettu territory is identified by the dashed black line and is currently occupied by Mugabian and ULF (Uwanda Liberation Front) forces.

The river obstacle introduced a problem not previously encountered by Mugabin forces, and despite its small size, only light and amphibious armored vehicles were employed in the attack.  Mugabian forces included a mechanized infantry company in BTR60s, three PT76s, two SA9 air defense systems, three BRDM2s, two towed 85mm guns, more than 50 truck mounted ULF militia lead by Mugabi army advisers, and two batteries of 152mm howitzers.

Uwanda understood the importance of objective A58 and had a significant force holding the crossing and village there.  Forces included an mechanised infantry company in M3 halftracks, a platoon of four Fireflies, three Saladins, four Ferrets, a single M42 for air defense, a battery of 155mm howitzers and as A58 had become a border checkpoint, one squad of National Border Police.  Limited air support was also possible.

The Uwandan view of the battlefield.

The Mugabian view of things.

The Magabian plan was to lead off with an artillery barrage, then attack both Uwandan flanks, the ULF militia on one end, and a force of Pt76s and BTR60s at the other.  Once the flanks had been compromised, The remaining infantry in BTR60 would race into town and overrun any remaining forces.  Artillery would pound the village and surrounding defences the entire time.

Uwanda deployed infantry along the Ukingo River as the first line of defence, with remaining forces positioned to respond as needed, and able to build a second defensive line using the field lines and village.

Typical Uwandan infantry position along the river.

A Saladin waits to spring into action.

As they advanced, listening to the artillery barrage ahead, Captain Bahati had mixed feelings about commanding the militiamen in battle.  He had helped train them, but they were still not regular Mugabian Army soldiers.  They seemed like good men, but would they stand in the face of battle.

The battle started with with a relentless artillery barrage that injured or killed nearly a third of the deployed Uwandan infantry.  The barrage was unlike anything seen previously by Uwandan forces and caused extensive damage and injury to the defenses.

A view of the aftermath of the artillery barrage from the Uwandan left flank.

Mugabian forces moved into position during the barrage.  On the Uwandan left flank, artillery continued to pound the defenses as the Mugabian force advanced.

Uwandan forces at their extreme left simply ceased to exist with HQ not understanding the severity of the situation. On the right flank the large ULF militia force advance under the direction of Mugabi Army leadership.

As the militia began crossing the water, the flank burst into a flurry of small arms fire.  Uwandan forces were already thin due to the barrage, and could not hold for long.  Despite valiant fighting, Uwandan forces had to drop back and consolidate.  Still the semi-trained militia took a long time to cross the river and take advantage of the situation, much to the frustration of the Mugabian army leader.

With both flanks in trouble, Uwanda's HQ began to order reserves into position.  Light armor and infantry hastily moved into a second line of defense.

Armored infantry and Saladins move to reinforce the Uwandan left, as border
police advance through the village to strengthen the bridge defenses.

As reserve forces moved into position, Mugabian artillery moved to the village, destroying many of the reserves before they could get into position. 

The overall situation began to look quite bleak for Uwanda with desperate fighting taking place on both flanks. The Mugabian advance was starting to slow as losses were starting to mount.  For the moment though, Mugabian leadership stood firm, and their troops continued to advance.

The last PT76 crossed the river followed by infantry on the Uwandan left flank, looking for someone to fight, but there weren't many Uwandans left.

Meanwhile , on the right flank, the advance began to bog down, despite light opposition.

The last infantry reserves  and armor were deployed to reinforce the second line that had formed on the Uwandan right..

... and that is when something unique happened.  The ULF militia  taking only light casualties, refused to advance. 

Captain Bahati could not believe what was happening.  Yes, they had taken casualties, but no so many. They had caused far more than were taken, and had forced the Uwandans to retreat.  They could easily continue and push all the way to the village.  As he threatened to shoot the next man who refused to advance, he never imagined that he would be forced to do so.  Surrounded by the sounds of war, surrounded by his men, he never felt so alone.  As the man stood defiant, Captain Bahati pulled the trigger.  Time slowed, Bahati stood and watched as the man fell to his knees.  He watched as seven other militiamen raised there weapons.  Slowly, Bahati lowered his weapon, and then he watched no more.

Though unknown to the Uwandans, the right flank was safe, but the left flank was still in question.

Losses had mounted significantly for the Mugabians, and as the last of their troops crossed the river, the Uwandan reserves got into position.  Only moments after it looked like all was lost, the pendulum was swinging hard the other way.

Though both flank attacks had lost their momentum, the main Mugabian thrust now charged down the main road.  BTR60s advancing at speed in an effort to flood into the village.  With drama unfolding all around, a CNN camera crew ventured out to record the happenings.

At about this time, Mugabian artillery switched back to the village in an effort to support the final thrust.  The CNN crew was not seen again.

With artillery pounding the earth behind it, a Uwandan Firefly saw an opportunity to slow the advancing column, and managed a hit on the lead BTR.

Almost simultaneously, Uwandan artillery started hitting the main road, BTRs unwittingly advanced into it as it hit, and in an instant, the lead platoon was gone.

In rapid succession, the Mugabian battlefield commander lost contact with the troops attacking on his left flank, his right flank, and with the lead section of the main column.  The remaining BTRs broke off of the attack, and in an instant the battle was lost.

Uwandan forces mopped up their left flank, taking a small number of prisoners int he process.

Realizing that the Mugabians had been turned away,  the Uwandan forces consoidated, preparing for a follow-up attack that never came.  Uwandan air forces jets finally showed up ( a little later than hoped) and managed to chase down some of the Mugabian artillery and destroyed it.
The battle was over, the gate had slammed shut, the Mugabians would not advance their interests on this day!
The artillery barrage was very successful, putting the Uwandans on the verge of calapse for the entire game (the Uwandans have a level higher morale than the Mugabians within my rules).  Ironically the ULF force had a catastrophic morale failing at the point where they could have broken the Uwandans.  From that point, their game long dominance failed in rapid succession across the table over the next couple of turns.  It was a very interesting game with major losses on both sides.

Losses were as follows:
Mugabia:                       Uwanda:
85  Troops                     62 Troops
3   PT76                        1   Firefly 
2   BRDM2                    3   Ferret
2   85mm guns              1 Saladin
5   BTR60                      5   M3  
5   Trucks                     1 Universal Carrier

Mugabia also lost two 152mm guns, 6 trucks and 32 crew to air attacks by the Uwandan Air Force.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

15mm M60A2 WIPs

This year's big project was supposed to be my Cold War project, but my unintended infantry project  (which is now done), my hand injury, and changes to my job  have gotten in the way big time.

I know, M60A2?  Of all the things I could build, I chose the M60A2?  Well, what can I say?  It is just too cool, and provides the basis for  the Cold War mainstay M60A1 (and eventually the A3).  Anyway, Here are a few pics of my Starship with the basic shape roughed out.

The last shot shows the M60A2 footprint next to one of my M113A1s.  Pretty basic at this point, but it was nice to be building again.

In the short term, I'm going to focus mostly on vehicles that I need for my Cold War project, though my M-ATV will get into a mold very shortly, and my GAZ TIGR will get tires and weapons soon.  Other Cold War vehicles now on the bench are M113 variants, the M125, and M113 Tow will arrive soon, and probably the M163 as well.

Friday, November 16, 2012

AAR8 - Escalation in Uwanda

I finally got to play out the eighth battle of my African imagi-nation campaign between the nations of Mugabia and Uwanda.  Here goes...

After the Uwandan raid on the ULF training camp in Mugabia,  the Mugabian leadership decided that a dramatic move needed to be made.  The resulting plan involved a three pronged attack to cut off and secure the Pettu tribal land in Uwanda.  The map below shows objectives A55, A58, and A60, where the attacks would take place.  Uwanda is located to the left of the solid black border, while Mugabia is on the right.  The first battle is for the town at Objective A55.

Mugabian Army Major Abasi surveyed his troops as they mounted up for the march on the Uwandan town, wondering what fate awaited them.  He wondered if the Cuban instructors had prepared he and his men for battle.  He wondered if he would have the support that he had been promised.  They would know soon enough, as in little more than an hour, they would arrive at their objective.  He nodded confidently at lieutenant Ng'ombe and got into his jeep.

The Mugabian force consisted of a motorized infantry company (110 troops), two SU-100 assault guns, and two towed ZU23 anti-aircraft guns.  Additionally, they would have the help of a couple of Gazelle helicopters and a battery of 152mm guns.  They would attack down the main east-west road after Uwandan forces were drawn out of position by a ULF attack from south of the town.

From the Mugabian perspective, a westerly view of objective A-55.

The Uwandan view looking East.

Uwanda's forces consisted of a Mechanised infantry company  (about 120 men), three Saladin armored cars, and a couple of Wombats in landrovers.  They could also depend on the spotting and support of a couple of Strikemasters flying overhead.

Uwandan forces had been warned of the movement to the east and were expecting the fight.  The ULF militiamen advanced through the woods to the southeast of the town in a mixture of jeeps and pickup trucks.

The ULF troops attacked in an uncoordinated mass of chaos that resulted in almost leisurely target practice for the Uwandan infantry.  Their advance stopped almost before it started with leaders getting hit first and losing 17 of 25 men in about a minute of fighting, while only inflicting a couple of casualties. 

The attack did not draw Uwandan troops out of position, but did motivate the Uwandan commander to better deploy his forces.

The Uwandan roadblock at the east end of town.

Mugabian forces entered the battle from the east road, dismounting their trucks under the cover of trees east of town.

Enter the Mugabians.

Quickly, the Mugabian troops dismounted and formed up.  Major Abasi soon gave the order to advance.

Immediately the Uwandan infantry opened up with rifles and .50 caliber machineguns on the halftracks; men began to fall.  In the process, the Mugabians were dealt a quick and devastating blow; the company headquarters was almost completely destroyed by cannon and machingun fire from the nearest Saladin, resulting in the loss of their ability to communicate with artillery and air support.

Despite heavy loses, Major Abasi continued the advance with support from the anti-aircraft guns, and soon it was Uwanda that was taking loses.  RPGs got hits on halftracks and two of the Saladins, and Uwandan troops began to fall back.  The Uwandan commander watched this from the roof of his command post.  He called for air support, and was dismayed to find that it was many minutes away.

Destruction of the Uwandan roadblock.

At about this time, the Mugabian SU-100s arrived on the scene, blowing up men, vehicles, and buildings as they came into view.   The Uwandan forces moved down the east road to counter the Mugabian advance, but the Mugabians were already moving along the north flank and onto the high ground north of town. The Uwandans managed to stop one of the SU-100s, but not the advance.

The Uwandan commander watches his forces moving to counter
the Mugabians to the North (out of the view to the left).

A Mugabian SU-100 bears down on Uwandan infantry.

Uwandan forces arrived piece-meal to counter the Mugabians and were picked off as they arrived.  The commander of the surviving Saladin decided to gamble on getting behind the Mugabians to try to break up the attack.  Both forces continued to inflict heavy casualties, but the Mugabians continued to advance.

A dangerous game of cat and mouse begins, as the Saladin moves through the burning roadblock
on the east road, while the surviving SU-100 advances into the town.

The advance continues with the Uwandan line starting to break.

Cat and mouse continues with the Saladin stalking its prey.

Caught in a flurry of RPG file, the Saladin fails to hit the broad side of a barn,
or the backside of a SU-100.

As the battle developed, Mugabian forces continued to push down the north flank, while slowly, Uwanda's troops were forced to withdraw.  The Uwandan air support simply had not shown up in time, the last Saladin was destroyed by RPGs, and the Uwandan commander was considering conceding to the Mugabians and withdrawing.
Mugabian forces on the north high ground (at extreme left), and advancing into town,
while Uwandan troops retreat hoping to re-establish a line of defense.

As the Mugabians began clearing the village house by house, the screaming sound of a Strikemaster's engine could be heard.  The jet passed overhead, then looped around as streams of tracers followed.  Mugabian troops ran for cover as death began to fall upon them.

A couple of passes later, Mugabian troops were in retreat, as they simply didn't have the numbers needed to continue the assault.  And as quickly as fate smiled upon Uwanda, it frowned upon her as well.  The last stream of Mugabian tracers found their mark.  The Strikemaster's shattered  fan passed through its engine and the plane landed in a ball of flames to the east.

Major Abasi and his men withdrew.  He wondered again what fate awaited him.  He had rallied his outnumbered troops time and again, without support, only to have victory ripped away despite already being in his grasp.  His men had fought well and had been well lead, but they would return without the town that they were sent to collect.  As the major reflected, he felt a cold breeze in this warm land.

The battle was brutal with heavy loses on both sides, and strangely anticlimactic.  Mugabia out-fought Uwanda and clearly had control until the Strikemaster began to chew them up.  By the time it was shot down, many Uwandan troops had been rallied, and the Mugabians simply couldn't hold the town with what was left. 

Mugabia lost the battle and their objective, and Uwanda lost more than it could afford.  Mugabian casualties included 51 men, two SU-100s, and three trucks.  Uwanda had 48 casualties, three Saladins, six halftracks, and the first aircraft of the war, a strikemester light attack jet.