Over Doing It? Sometimes.

The holidays are over and it is time once again to get back in the groove of things: modeling (no, not that kind… the plastic kit kind;) blogging; and whatever else got tossed to the wind due to the hecticness of the holidays.


This week over at The Combat Workshop: Scale Modeling website a pretty interesting and hopefully not too heat producing topic has cropped up…Pet Peeves. Specifically, pet peeves having to do with fellow modelers.

This could get interesting…

Well, I guess I could come up with a few, but I will stick with two. Keep in mind that I generally lean towards WWII armor subjects and my pet peeves are pretty much going to deal with these kits and modelers.

First, let’s talk tracks. Many kits come with vinyl tracks. They are flexy, and stretchy, and can be difficult to paint. Then there are the kit supplied styrene tracks that must be put together link by link. And don’t forget the metal tracks that also are assembled link by link, but are kept together with little metal pins, so they are flexy as well.

Personally, I have never assembled a tank with anything but vinyl tracks. The primary reason for this is that when I quit building models 20 something years ago, that was pretty much all that was available. Now that I have got back into the hobby, I haven’t actually bought a new tracked vehicle kit yet, so the opportunity of trying out other types of tracks hasn’t cropped up.

Don’t get me wrong… I see nothing wrong with using the other types of tracks. They definitely have advantages: proper track sag can be achieved; less clean up (some of the time;) they take paint better. Who knows, the next kit I buy may have indy link tracks.

But, here is where the pet peeve comes in. It gets tiresome when some modelers act like somebody is sub-human for even considering using vinyl tracks. Things like “Wow, nice build fella, but too bad you had to go and ruin it with those janky vinyl tracks.” Come on! Some of us build purely for the fun of it and at most the only people that will see the finished product are our esteemed colleagues on our favorite forum, or possibly our significant other (“Oh that’s cute. What is it? Some kind of tractor? What is that long hollow pole sticking out of the front for?”) And not all of us want to spend as much money on a set of tracks as we do on the kit itself.

The second pet peeve that I have is weathering. More specifically, chipping. I have seen some armored vehicles and even aircraft that are just beat to death with the chipping methods. I realize that vehicles in combat get pummeled pretty hard, but for crying out loud! Some of the kits I see are just a blistered up mess. Chips the size of serving platters all over the place.

And let’s not forget rust! Tanks that look like they actually took place in Operation Sea Lion. Driven across the English Chanel, underwater, and then left on the beach with all that salty water left on it for about seven years, and then thrown right back into service, as is.

I think that the techniques used to get these effects are great and can be used to great effectiveness, but too many times they simply get overused.

As an honorable mention I will throw in that just because a technique is old it doesn’t mean that it isn’t still useful and effective. Think Sheperd Paine and his epic use of… the horror.. DRYBRUSHING! He did a ripping job using that method and the stuff he did can hold it’s own against anything current in my opinion.

With all of that being said, does this mean these people are dorks? Nope. Not in the slightest. Just don’t hack someone that doesn’t see it your way. The way I see it, even though you chipped your tank into oblivion (IMHO) you still get props for mastering the technique. Hey, maybe you were modeling a tank that happened to get in the way of one of those crazy mine-flail tanks with those spinning, slashing chains…



The Ultimate Model Project

Recently, I made quite an interesting discovery.

I have always found WWII prisoner of war (POW) camp escape stories interesting. There are so many amazing accounts of the ingenuity and bravery of the captured allied flyers and soldiers, and the creative, bold and most-times, dangerous methods they came up with to make good their escape.

There are some stories that are somewhat familiar to those that only have a passing interest in this type of subject, if any interest at all. Probably the most familiar story on the subject involves the exploits and eventual mass escape of allied flying officers in the German POW Camp, Stalag Luft III. This story was immortalized by the 1963 film The Great Escape. Three massive tunnels were dug with the ultimate goal of getting 250 POWs out at one go. Ultimately, a total of 76 got out in one night before the tunnel they were using was discovered. Sadly, 50 of these allied POWs were executed by the Gestapo, two escapees got completely away, and the rest were sent back to the camp.

Another familiar name in the annals of WWII escape stories, was Oflag IV-C, otherwise known as Colditz. Colditz Castle is located on a hill outside Colditz, Germany. The special thing about this prison was it was considered a “sonderlager” or special camp. All of the prisoners at Colditz were officers that had escaped from other camps and were considered  to be most likely to try to escape again.

What made this camp special was that this prison was supposed to be escape proof due to it’s construction and location on a hill. There are numerous books, movies and a British television series dedicated to the exploits of these men and they came up with some quite original, and daring methods of escape.

One of the most interesting, and the subject of today’s post, is the Colditz Cock. The Colditz Cock is a glider that was manufactured by some of the prisoners using scavenged materials including bed boards, mattress covers and homemade “dope” that was brushed on the mattress-cover skin to make it air-worthy. They used hand made tools and took a total of ten months to construct it.

This was no haphazard undertaking either. It was planned using knowledge gained from a book obtained from the camp library (somewhat ironic,) careful calculations and personal knowledge of aeronautics.

It was built in an attic high atop the castle with the intention of knocking a hole in the wall, taking the fuselage and wings out, attaching the wings, and launching the glider with two occupants down a makeshift ramp on the ridge of one of the roofs of the castle. Before the plan could come from fruition, the castle was liberated by the American army.

Below is the only known original photo of the glider in the attic.

Colditz GliderSeveral years ago, British television aired a documentary about the Colditz glider. They were able to get the original plans that were drawn up by one of the prisoners and recreate the glider using identical materials. Using modern power tools they built the glider with the intention of seeing if it would have really flown. They brought some of the original, surviving POWs out to witness the event. They were astounded at the accuracy in which the documentary crew were able to recreate the glider and were quite thrilled at the opportunity to witness the attempted flight.

The glider was hooked up to a tow vehicle and off it went. After a very short run to bring it up to speed, it became airborn and released. The pilot had full control of the aircraft, as it had all working controls. Needless to say, the veteran POWs were ecstatic.

With the outstanding back story, and learning about what these men were able to do while prisoners of war, makes me think that replicating the Colditz Cock would be the ultimate, full-scale model project.