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Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Desert War - 'N' Gauge - Part Four

After much deliberation I finally ordered my 12mm figures from Minifigs (Caliver Books).

I ordered the following;-
1 x pack 8th Army (28 figures)
1 x pack British Infantry Support (28 figures)
1 x pack Afrika Korps (28 figures)
1 x pack German Infantry Support (28 figures)
1 x 50mm PAK 38 Anti-Tank Gun (2 guns & crews)
1 x 6 Pounder Anti-Tank Gun (2 guns & crews)

This little lot came to about £28 delivered, which under current circumstances took about 2 weeks from order to delivery.

I went with this option rather than my usual go-to 12mm source (Pendraken) because of the way they are packaged. I only wanted limited numbers of certain figure groups, but you are committed to packs of 10 figures from Pendraken that would have left me with surplus figures and an overall higher cost.

At this scale, the fact that the gun crews and support troops are wearing temperate uniforms is immaterial. They can easily be painted up to look the same as the dedicated Tropical uniformed infantry.

Minifigs 12mm figures are nicely cast (though they do need surplus metal clipping away from bases etc.) and are detailed and well proportioned. 

The 8th Army pack contained around 10 different poses of a mixture of rifle and Bren armed figures plus a couple of pistol armed officers. In fact there were 31 in the pack which was a nice bonus.

The support pack included Vickers teams (x2), 3" Mortar Teams (x2), more Bren guns, PIAT teams (x2) and a Flame Thrower (x1). All but the latter two were useful for the Desert scenario (don't worry the others will come in for future projects I'm sure).

The 6 Pounders were simple three part kits with three man crews and are very nice models.

For the Afrika Korps, the pack contained 10 mixed poses armed with either rifles or MP40s - No MGs. In addition there were 2 pistol armed officers.

The Support pack contained Light Role MG teams (x3), Medium Role MG teams (x2), 81mm Mortar teams (x2), Panzerfausts, Panzerschrecks and flamethrower. Again not all are usable for the desert scenario, but they wont be wasted.

The Pak 38 is a two part kit with a team of three crew, another very nice model.

Now the big question .... how to base them.

Usually I'd mount them on mdf (50x25mm for infantry, 25x25mm for support and 30x30mm for the guns) for use with BKC II.

I wanted to give myself maximum flexibility with these armies so I could potentially use the models for as many WW2 rules as possible. This meant that I needed some way to record casualties/hits on the bases so I could still get away with multiple figure bases.

I experimented with a 3D printed FOW style base with two recesses and mini magnets, to hold 2 x 1 penny coins that I could mount 2 figures on each. This came out OK but I felt was probably a bit "over-engineered" for this problem.

I then remembered the bases I'd done for PSC's the Great War. On these I used Minibits dice frames to hold small dice to indicate the number of casualties taken. I thought I could probably design printable versions of these.

So that is what I did. I tried a few prototypes before finalising on three base sizes.
  • 50 x 27mm - for four infantry figures
  • 27 x 27mm - for a MG or Mortar
  • 36 x 36mm - for a towed gun.

This was the outer dimensions - with the bevelled base the actual area for figures is slightly smaller. The bases were 3.5mm deep with a hole to hold the 7mm dice recessed 2.5mm into the base. I also let the base top 0.5mm into the top of the base (creating a fine lip around the top edge) to allow for the figures base thickness.

Once printed up, the figures were glued in place with superglue and the bases textured up to the lip with Vallejo White pumice.

When dried, the models were primed with Wilko's matt white primer before the figures were finished using Citadel Contrast paints. The base surface was painted in Vallejo Yellow Tan and dry-brushed with Iraqi Sand.

The 7 mm dice came from eBay - £2.49 for 50...Bargain.

I think this approach should give me the maximum flexibility with these figures. With the dice removed, the hole is barely visible at table top distances. The dice in place can record hits (in the case of BKC II) or remaining figures in the case of say Rapid Fire or IABSM.

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