Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bolt Action for WW1? That would be sweet..

Last week my buddy Christian gave me a tank to paint for his new project: Flames of War, WW1, a supplement that allows FOW to take their game back from WW2 to the Great War. There are a modest amount of models available and I got to paint one of them, the British Whippet medium tank, a kind of armoured tractor that was used from 1917 on as an anti-infantry weapon.

The model looks great for such a small kit and it was a lot of fun painting. I finished it in about an hour and started looking up stuff about this vehicle, to learn a bit more about it's history.  While browsing, I encountered so many interesting images, vehicles and uniforms, I immediately was fantasizing about a Bolt Action version that plays in 14-18. I think the Great War lends itself uniquely to wargaming, since during that war the strategies were really a mix between old and new styles of warfare. It would allow for some really great modeling options:

Of course there are already plenty of companies that create WW1 kits and recently I worked with Trenchworx, a small US company that creates excellent tanks for wargaming in 28mm. They ran a kickstarter a while back with WW1 vehicles and have done a nice job with them, like this Rolls Royce:

or this St. Chamond:

I recently watched this video of the Perry twins creating 54 mm WW1 models for director Peter Jackson for a massive battle display in New Zealand, check out this great little news item here. You can see that the 54mm models are ready to go, they just have to be shrunk a bit...
So there is a lot of attention  now on this period and it would be nice if larger players like Warlord, Perry Miniatures  (or even Games Workshop!) would really commit themselves to creating a complete WW1 game for 28 mm. Any thoughts?

SC Mike 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Bolt Action! Trenchworx Tank review part 3: T-28

This beast of a tank is the T-28, a great looking Russian tank that perfectly fits the look of a in-between-worldwars-tank, lots of guns, very large, but also slow. Read this review, if you play Bolt Action - it works great in our beloved game!

The Soviet T-28 medium tank was used from 1933-41 in the invasion of Poland, the Winter War vs the Finns and during the German invasion of Russia with 411 seeing action vs the Germans in June and July 1941 and a few even as late as the Winter 1941 defense of Leningrad and Moscow.
Designed as an infantry support tank it had a small main gun and 4 machine guns. 
The review today is of the T28 from the small, independent company Trenchworx, who specializes in hard-to-get, interesting 28mm tanks for Bolt Action. Inside the box I found a simple, well detailed kit with only a few parts, instructions and even some magnets.
When I heard the masters were 3d printed I have to say I was a little worried to find plotting lines on the parts, while there were some, they were not as bad as I had expected and I imagine I could have sanded the parts a bit to remove some of it but I decided to just build the model as is and see how noticeable it was after paint.

The castings were very nice and crisp with very little flash and only minimal air bubbles or casting imperfections. I did find a small air bubble on the front idler wheel,this is very common on high detail resin molds and an easy fix but I decided to build the kit out of the box with no additional filling.

This is the only flash I found on the kit and it was so thin it came off with my thumbnail.

The turret bottoms have some extra flow or vent material on the bottoms which was easy to remove.

Assembly was very straight forward with only one little issue, as you can see the locating tabs for the tracks did not quite match to the hull.

I was able to remove a little from the tab sides with my dremmel tool and it went right together
After mentioning it to Trenchworx, they have identified the problem and fixed it, their response was really positive and forthcoming and they immediately shipped out new castings, after the problem was fixed, and they fit perfectly.

The model goes together in a few minutes, mine came with some magnets for the turrets, 2 gun options and some extra machine gun bits in case of breakage. I thought it was weird that the two little turrets are the same offset to the side but that is how they were.

I didn't wash my model with soap and water, I just went right into primer and paint with no problems.

Here is the model with a 28mm figure for scale and with some paint washes and rust pigment on it.

Drybrushing may have picked up some of the plotting lines, but overall it was not much of an issue and I was happy with the model with no serious prepwork and just some simple paint.

Overall I was very happy with the model. This would be a great model to add to your early war Soviet force. With 4 Machine guns this tank has lots of pinning possibilities for Bolt Action.

 By using newer technology, Trenchworxs is able to supply the gamer with some of the more obscure models by using 3D printing to keep the overhead costs down on production and then resin to ramp up production.

Right now Trenchworx is running a kickstarter, that has already been funded, but is still running for a while - check it out here.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bolt Action! Trenchworx review, Part 2: BT-7

This is a review for the Trenchworx Soviet BT-7A  1/56th scale resin tank. Trenchworx creates scale models for table top gaming, with the intent to manufacture in 3d printing, and eventually cast in resin. The BT-7A kit comes with the resin tank kit, instructions, magnets (for the turret), and some extra machine gun pieces (all contents pictured below).

Overall I found the casting quality to be excellent, the details were sharp, and there was obviously a lot of love given to accurately modeling the tank and its features. The inclusion of extra machine guns proved to be a good idea as well, as it didn't take long to snap the barrel off of one while trying to assemble it into the tank's turret.

There were a few surfaces that had some remnants of the striations that you get with 3d printing; but for the most part they did not warrant repair, or had been sanded away prior to the master mould being created. The only other problem I encountered was that the plugs that formed the forward and aft turret machine guns were too thick to slot into the turret and required me carving them down to make them fit (my initial efforts to push it in without significantly widening the port resulted in the break I mentioned before).

The assembled BT-7A, an excellent reproduction.

Aside from those minor complaints the kit is high quality and came together easily, cleaning the flash and heating the thin parts (such as the tracks) to make them fit is to be expected for a resin kit such as this one. From what I've seen of the three kits we received, the quality has been consistently good.

The BT-7 is an interesting design, I found this cut away image that explains the locations of a lot of the tank's features.

It's often mentioned, but bears repeating; every unit, vehicle, and piece of equipment from WWII has a rich history waiting to be explored. The history of these conflicts eclipses the most fanciful fiction writing. I won't post the entirety of what I learned about this tank here, but let's take a quick look at how the BT-7A came to be:

The turret with magnet installed. It fit perfectly with no modeling required.

In the 1920's the soviets looking to modernize their tanks, held a competition looking to develop a new tank that focused on speed, while still carrying comparable armor and armaments to other tanks of the era. Enter an American (J. Walter Christie), an inventor who had developed a new suspension system utilizing torsion bars that provided superior handling at high speeds for a new "Christie" tank the M1931. Christie who had attempted to sell his tank to the US army without success, saw his opportunity and smuggled two prototypes (sans turret and weapons) into Russia with falsified papers claiming that they were farming tractors and not tanks. The Russians liked what they saw in the trials and they began to reengineer the tank  as the BT: "Bystrochodnij Tankov" or 'fast tank'.

The BT series advanced over the years to the mark 7, and the chassis of the BT was well suited to variations such as the BT-7A close support artillery tank (the subject of this review). The BT-7 saw the majority of it's fighting with the Soviet invasion of Poland. 
However the tank was never intended to fight against medium or heavy tanks, and the new german tanks of 1941 with thicker armor rendered the BT tanks useless for anything except for fast recon. 
The remaining BT-7's that were not destroyed in battle fell out of service due to logistics.

There is one last notable thing about the BT-7, and that is there seems to be an inordinate amount of imagery involving flying BT-7's on any image search I did. The 'fast tank' 7 was light, weighing in at under 13.5 tons and had a V12 diesel engine outputting 450hp allowing it to reach speeds of over 35mph, and while I couldn't confirm the event pictured in the below photo on my quick research, let's just say that I really, *really* want it to be true. 

The BT-7A retails for $29.00, visit Trenchworx to see the BT-7A and their other offerings.

If you're interested in Trenchworx and their tanks, there's a Kickstarter running now: The tanks in Manchuria Kickstarter.  You have a chance to get the BT-7A and other tanks that served in that theater at a reduced price, the Kickstarter runs until May 14th, is already funded, and it's their second successful Kickstarter.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bolt Action! Trenchworx tank review part 1

 I recently received three 1/56 scale resin tanks from Trenchworx, a relatively new company that has recently started producing WW2 tanks that are great to use in Bolt Action. The WW2 offerings at their website  focus on the more obscure tanks, like the Russian BT-7, the Russian T-28 and the Finnish Anti Tank Gun BT-42 that I am reviewing here today.

First a shot of a BT-42 in action during the Finnish-Russian War. The vehicle saw action for the first time in 1943 but it didn't have a good trackrecord, and it stood no realistic chance against Russian armor.

The vehicle was actually a 'kitbash' between captured Russian BT-7 light tanks and British 4.5 inch Howitzers that the Finnish got donated in 1918. Only eighteen of these vehicles were ever made and ten saw action! I think that the romantification of the Finnish effort in WW2 lead Warlord and other companies to not forget this obscure and poorly made vehicle and added it to the Finnish army book. If I were playing a Finnish army, I would certainly field one these cool little vehicles!

OK on to the Trenchworx model. The designers create their models on the computer and print it with a 3D printer. After that the models are cast in resin. Since 2014 TW has been posting updates on the facebook page Bolt Action and finally this year went ahead and started offering their models to the greater public.
The model comes in a little box with nicely designed label. Inside are the parts and a guide on how to put the model together, which I think is great.

The main body is solid resin and it has good detail. The wheels and tracks have excellent detail and the engine grill looks great as well.

Straight out of the box there is flash to clean up but it's not out of the ordinary:

Onto the build. The track assembly is has little pegs sticking out that fit snugly into receiving holes on the body:

The front axel had a minor fitting problem on one side, so i had to expand the fitting spot a bit, on the other side it fit perfectly.

Here's the finished tank! The design is strong and crisp and even unpainted, the model really shows off its quality, plenty of detail to work with.

Nice details on the back of the turret with crisp lines and sharp edges. I love details like hinges for little back doors in the turret and very crisp tracks, it all helps once you start the paintjob!

I opted for the Finnish tricolor camo pattern: grey/brown/green and I tried to keep the paintjob natural, without too much drybrushing.

and the finished model:

A really cool detail: Trenchworx supplies two rare earth magnets with precast slots for them so you can easily magnetize turret and body:

After a really enjoyable build I have some advice for Trenchworx:

1. provide a sheet with decals. Painting a finnish swastika was hard! Also, the numbers you see on the front bottom were actually from a 1/72 scale american plane and I had to muddy them up to make it believable.
2. if you can add worksheet with the how-to, maybe add a sheet with the color patterns that were used during the war, in this case a fully green model or a tri-color one. That would really fin(n)ish off an excellent kit.

The kit retails for 29 bucks and you can find it here. Trenchworx did an excellent job making an obscure (=FUN) tank for our beloved Bolt Action game that show great detail, looks realistic and is easy to play with. The model really shows off the love the designers have for making detailed WW2 tanks. I love a small, independent company who creates models they love and are uncommon.

Warlord also sells a BT-42, made to order, that one is three dollars more and has metal and resin parts. I did not have one of those on hand to do a comparison.

This is part one of a three part review series on Trenchworx tanks for Bolt Action. Next week Cornumortem will review a Russian BT-7!

SC Mike