AEC Matador and 5.5″ Gun

I have written before about the influence of Matchbox and Airfix and the impact it has on the models I buy for gaming.

When I was young, before I started this wargaming lark, I use to make up plastic kits. In the main these were the pocket money kits I could buy from my local model shop and these were manufactured by Airfix and Matchbox. I recall preferring the Matchbox kits as they came with a piece of scenery.

…I have started to realise how much my knowledge of World War Two vehicles and armour has been skewed by making those plastic kits all those years ago. They have also influenced what models I am buying and which ones I like.

A similar thing can be said when it comes to looking around Museums and seeing vehicles and aircraft. So it’s no surprise when I saw the AEC Matador and 5.5″ Howtizer at the Land Warfare Exhibit at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, the first thing that came to mind, was the classic Airfix kit.

Airfix AEC Matador and 5.5"Howitzer

The Airfix model scene is from Europe, however the actual truck on display at Duxford is painted in desert colours.

The AEC Matador was a heavy 4×4 truck and medium artillery tractor built by the Associated Equipment Company for British and Commonwealth forces during the Second World War.

AEC Matador

This truck served on Malta with the Royal Malta Artillery during World War Two.

The BL 5.5 inch Gun was a British artillery gun introduced during the middle of the Second World War to equip medium batteries.

5.5"Howitzer

This example, a Mark III, served with 25 Field Artillery Battery, RA (V), Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Yeomanry, being withdrawn in 1977 after the barrel had fired over 1500 rounds.

Imperial Guard Tank Landing Craft – Scrapped

Back in 2004 I discussed using an 1/72nd Airfix kit of the WWII LCVP Landing Craft as the basis for an Epic scale Imperial Guard Tank Landing Craft .

Imperial Guard Tank Landing Craft

1/72nd Airfix kit of the WWII LCVP Landing Craft

I saw this post as I was updating some other stuff, so I thought I would add an update. Alas this never got further than the ideas stage and the kit was eventually sold on eBay a few years ago.

Full circle

My first “experience” of wargaming was back in the 1970s with those bendy and flexible Airfix and Matchbox model soldiers and using Britain’s matchstick firing weapons.

One of my favourite toys and probably the thing that got me into gaming was the 1:32nd Matchbox Counter Attack Playset.

Matchbox Counter Attack

Combining Americans and Germans, with an M8 Greyhound, air pump weapons and an incredible building that you could knock down and put back together. It was an incredible toy that I really loved playing with.

There were of course other models you could buy and I remember having some, but aspired to buy some of those Airfix plastic 1:32 models, such as the Cromwell as well as other Matchbox figures like these Commandos.

Matchbox Commandos

I did move onto more “serious” gaming using Airfix Napoleonics. Then I started to paint them, but like a lot of gamers back then, realised the flexibility of the plastic meant that the paint would come off quite easily during games. The magazines of the time (we didn’t have the web back then) had articles about painting the bare plastic with PVA (white glue) and after painting use a range of varnishing techniques (heavy gloss varnish followed by a matt varnish) to protect the paintwork even further. The reality was that I remember discussing with friends what we really wanted were plastic soldiers made out of hard plastic., like that was ever going to happen…

Lets fast forward to last week…

I usually quite enjoy the weekly updates on the Flames of War website. Never quite sure why they feel the need to save all their updates for Thursday, why can’t they post them as and when they’re done. The main result of this is I go the website once a week rather than more regularly.

So what’s the connection?

Battlefront announced they were, having moved from metal to hard plastic, were going to move now to flexible plastic. I had to check twice, was Battlefront really going to release flexible plastic toy soldiers.

Battlefront announced they were, having moved from metal to hard plastic, were going to move now to flexible plastic.

Hmmm.

The articles talks about the advantages of this *new* material compared to metal, resin and hard plastic.

The new figures are made of a flexible ABS plastic, and combine most of the good points of the other materials.

Like with hard plastic, the casting process involves injecting the plastic into a rigid mould. The moulds themselves are not machined in the same way, but cast – it’s faster and cheaper. Unlike the hard plastic, the material itself is slightly flexible after it cures, so small undercuts are possible – not as much as with metal or resin in a soft mould, but more than with hard plastic.

They also make the point…

The tough new plastic is almost unbreakable – you could drop a rulebook on them and they will bounce straight back.

Guessing dropping rulebooks on them wouldn’t do much for the paintwork. However that would be the same for any model regardless of what material it was made from.

There must be very good reasons why Battlefront are going down this road and these are outlined in the article.

The biggest benefit is the cost – we can produce flexible plastic figures almost 40% cheaper than metal equivalent, and this will be reflected in the price, which is surely good news for everyone!

Cheaper models are always nice, but cost is just one factor amongst many when it comes to choosing models to wargame with. Personally I think it’s a backward retro step, time to ensure I have enough metal models in the cupboard. I don’t mind paying the extra.

Back to the 1970s here we come….

Airfix Supacat Coyote and Jackal

Airfix preview video for A06302 Supacat Coyote A05301 Supacat Jackal.

You may recall from a previous blog post that I thought they would make for really nice Imperial Guard armoured vehicles. As they are 1/48th scale they would fit very well with the 25/28mm size of the Imperial Guard. Of course with some ramshackle additions they would also make for some really nice Ork vehicles too.

Airfix King Tiger – Airfix Preview 2012

So there I was looking through the Airfix preview for 2012 when I saw that they are going to release a new model, the German King Tiger from World War Two.

Goes with the Cromwell that they have just released, and they will be releasing a doubles box with both the King Tiger and the Cromwell within it.

"Ork Buildings" – Airfix Preview 2012

So there I was looking through the Airfix preview for 2012 when I saw two models of desert buildings and immediately thought they would make for really nice scenery for Warhammer 40K.

As they are 1/48th scale they would fit very well with the 25/28mm size of models for Warhammer 40K.

Of course with some ramshackle additions they would make for some really nice Ork buildings, though I think they would also work as Tallarn style desert buildings.

Knowing Airfix, we probably won’t see these in the flesh until the latter part of 2012, but they do have potential.

"Flames of War Bridge" – Airfix Preview 2012

So there I was looking through the Airfix preview for 2012 when I saw two models and immediately thought they would work for Flames of War.

They are two bridge models.

They are 1/76th scale and therefore designed for 20mm high miniatures. However I am sure that it would also work for Flames of War miniatures which are 1/100th with 15mm high figures.

Knowing Airfix, we probably won’t see these in the flesh until the latter part of 2012, but they do have potential. They will be resin and unpainted.

"Imperial Guard Vehicles" – Airfix Preview 2012

So there I was looking through the Airfix preview for 2012 when I saw two models and immediately thought they would make for really nice Imperial Guard armoured vehicles.

They were the Supacat HMT600 Coyote.

Airfix Supacat HMT600 Coyote

And the Supacar HMT400 Jackal.

Airfix Supacar HMT400 Jackal

As they are 1/48th scale they would fit very well with the 25/28mm size of the Imperial Guard.

Of course with some ramshackle additions they would also make for some really nice Ork vehicles too.

Knowing Airfix, we probably won’t see these in the flesh until the latter part of 2012, but they do have potential.

Airfix Magazine on the iPad

You may have noticed that Airfix have a new magazine out for nearly a year now with the first issue published in November 2010. Those of you who are old enough will remember that there was an Airfix magazine that ran from 1960 until 1993.

The current magazine, Airfix Model World does cover all types of plastic modelling, but does have a focus on aviation, as that is the biggest share of the plastic kit market. So less useful for those of us interested in using plastic kits for gaming, as we’re more likely to be using tanks and AFVs. However it does have articles on tanks and armoured vehicles, it also takes the time to review a range of kits and publish news, and does cover military vehicles in these areas too.

You can either subscribe, though I did notice it was also available as an e-magazine on the iPad. The advantage of the iPad version is that you don’t need to get every issue and can get the issue which is useful to you. Though unlike going to WHSmiths you can’t flick through the issue to check! One advantage of the electronic version is that it us much easier to store than the paper copy and you can get hold of back issues much more easily. You can find out what was in which back issues from this web page.
So for example in the March 2011 issue is the following article

Military Build – Tiger Ausf.E
Ian Grainger, inspired from watching an old war movie, decided to spend one afternoon over a weekend building Germany’s fearsome main battle tank.

Whilst the August 2011 issue has this article on the Cromwell tank.

Battle and Build – World Exclusive! Cromwell Mk.IV
Daniel Taylor outlines the history of the Cromwell tank, and its notorious battle at Villers-Bocage against the German Tiger. Armour fans will be inspired to build Airfix’s newly tooled Cromwell. Brian O’Donoghue reports.

The Matchbox and Airfix Influence

When I was young, before I started this wargaming lark, I use to make up plastic kits. In the main these were the pocket money kits I could buy from my local model shop and these were manufactured by Airfix and Matchbox. I recall preferring the Matchbox kits as they came with a piece of scenery.

As I paint more Flames of War models, and read the FoW sourcebooks, read books on World War Two, use the internet, I have started to realise how much my knowledge of World War Two vehicles and armour has been skewed by making those plastic kits all those years ago. They have also influenced what models I am buying and which ones I like.

So for example I am building an Early War French force for Flames of War. I am adamant that I have some Char B1 bis and the Renault FT-17. Less concerned about the Somau S-35 or the Hotchkiss tanks.

Similarily when looking for trucks for my German forces, who wants an Opel Blitz when you can have the Krupp Kfz 70 which is very similar to the Matchbox Krupp Kfz 69.

I think the only reason I have Cromwells in my Late War British force is that I had those thirty years ago in my 6mm Heroics and Ros World War Two force. Of course this year Airfix will be releasing a 1:76th scale Cromwell.

I recently bought a three pack of Dingo scout cars and I am sure that the Monty’s Caravan kit was a big influence on this purchase. Question, can I get a 15mm Monty’s Caravan?

Looking back over the old Matchbox and Airfix ranges you see some classic tanks and armoured vehicles and other military vehicles. It is these that I look at when buying new models for Flames of War.