Friday, 26 January 2018

USS Growler

In October we were in to New York and I took some time out to visit the USS Intrepid museum, which includes an early nuclear missile sub, the USS Growler.

It is a decent sized diesel-electric sub built in the 1950s.

It carried four of these Regulus nuclear missiles. Essentially a guided jet plane with a nuclear warhead. The sub also had conventional torpedoes.

One of the two missile hangers.

The missile guidance system. It used radar to direct it to its target, and the range was only a few hundred miles so the sub had to deploy quite close to Russia. The sub was supposed to be able to fire four missiles one after another, but the crews generally reckoned they would get one off before being located and destroyed.

A view through the periscope! 

Rather luxurious mess, with built in boardgames.

Engine room.

Aft torpedo tubes.

 View from the rear deck hatch.

The Growler from the deck of the Intrepid.

It is a neat little submarine, rather smaller than the one in the sub museum at Portsmouth, and in considerably better condition than the very beaten up old Russian one moored at Peenemunde. Recommended if you are ever in NYC and can tear yourself away from The Empire State Building etc.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Thomas the Tank Engine

Regular readers will have noted that my games often feature railway lines. Now, I do have my ancient Irregular 6mm train set, but for larger scale games I have felt the need for some slightly bigger rolling stock.

I did some research into N gauge and was horrified to discover I'd need a second mortgage, and even toy train sets were rather more than I was willing to pay. Imagine my delight when I came across this in Waterstones for a mere tenner.

A train set in a tin. What a great idea. It even comes with its own track (a little larger than N gauge). 

The train itself is a rather jaunty US style loco, with a coal truck, goods wagon and caboose in various garish colours.  It even has a battery operated  electric motor so it can propel itself along. 

A little bit of light conversion and repainting turned it into something rather more martial. 

For the engine I just cut off the cow catcher and strange funnel mounted light to make it a bit simpler. I thought about adding some armour plate to the boiler but I rather like the pipes and things so I left it plain. 

I repainted it panzer grey, and the red trim is based on the train in the TV series Babylon Berlin. 

The caboose already features slit windows and is ideal as an Armoured carriage. I just stripped off the labels with label remover and repainted it panzer grey. 

The goods wagon is a bit redundant. I basically just painted it green and drew in a door and slit windows. At some point I'll convert it to a flat car, but I was too impatient to do that this time. 

The tank car took a bit more work, as it started life as the coal truck. The hatches were already moulded on, and here it mounts a PSC T34 turret.  It can take any old turret though. 

I had to saw off the coal with a razor saw, and just filled the gap with a plate made of plasticard. The hole is 4mm, which takes most tank turrets. It was a bit fiddly sawing off the top and I discovered a critical structural piece attached to the coal, so some repairs were necessary. 

The whole thing fits neatly in its tin, with the railway track stored underneath. Coming to a wargame near you soon!

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Eric Ravilious exhibition

We were fortunate enough to have the travelling Eric Ravilious exhibition in Sheffield, featuring not only Ravilious but a number of other early twentieth century artists including Paul and John Nash, Enid Marx etc. Ravilious was killed in 1942, one of three war artists to die in the war.

Among the interwar landscapes and beautiful lithographs were a number of war paintings by Ravilious, and I was particularly taken by these three from the Norway campaign.

'Ark Royal in Action'. I'm not quite sure what Ark Royal is doing here, apparently setting large bonfires on the decks (or firing heavy AA at dusk), but it is wonderfully stark and evocative painting. 

HMS Glorious flying off her Hurricanes under the northern sun.

A Norwegian Fiord, which brilliantly captures the colours of the far north.

The exhibition was originally from the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne and is at the Compton Gallery in Warwickshire next.  Thoroughly recommended.