Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sailpower Ahoy!

As long time followers of this blog may remember, I've had an on-again/off-again 15mm Age of Sail project going on. I would really like to be able to do some of the Barbary Pirate actions and small gunboat actions from the War of 1812, but I've had a hard time finding rules I like along with kits and motivating myself to paint things up.

When I saw that the group that does the Sailpower rules was doing a Kickstarter project for version 2.0 of their rules and for getting some new ships, I decided to back the project. I've never played the game and I wasn't really sure the rules would be what I was looking for, but I think some of the ships they make would be worth getting (I really like the look of their armed pinnaces for gunboats).

The Kickstarter project turned out to be successful and I recently received my gear for pledging at the Captain level.

The pledge level included a Starter Rulebook, two quick reference packs (which each have 7 pages front and back and a lot of rule information, I have to admit I was expecting something a little different for the reference sheets, but this works), a Bermuda sloop kit, a flush deck sloop kit, two launches, and eight treasure chests.
Here is the whole Captain's Level reward

I will write out my thoughts on the rules in a separate post (once I've had a chance to read through them), but I thought I would show off the miniatures.  
Sailpower Bermuda Sloop kit
First up is the Bermuda sloop kit. In addition to the hull, it comes with six guns, a fighting top, a couple brackets (all made from the same resin material as the hull) and the dowels for the mast. The hull is around 7 inches long and is not as finely detailed as the Thoroughbred kits I have, but it should be fine on the gaming table once it is painted.
Sailpower Flush Deck Warship kit

Next is the Flush Deck Sloop kit. The hull is a little shorter that the Bermuda sloop, but it is wider, and comes with eight guns, a fighting top, a couple brackets and the mast dowels. As with the Bermuda sloop, there isn't a lot of detail, but it should be a good gaming piece.
One of the things that sold me on the project was the launches. You don't see too many of these for sale and I was looking forward to seeing how they turned out. Overall, they are a little rough and will need some cleaning up, but I am happy with the way they look.
A shot of the treasure chests

Finally, there are treasure chests. I think these are more for pirate games than for what I'm thinking about, but I could end up doing some pirate games and they could be handy. The chests look nice and certainly evoke a pirate feel with six of my eight chests having a skull and crossbones on top.
A closer view of the top of the chest.

Like the other items, the chests need a little cleaning up to get rid of some of the excess resin (at least I think it is resin), but they could provide some color to games.

Overall, I'm happy with what I got. I'm not sure if I will play many games with the rules, but it was a worthwhile investment.Now I just have to get back to work on my Age of Sail project. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Little Side Trip

At the beginning of May I attended my father-in-laws 80th birthday party and was able to make a side trip to the Castle Air Museum in Atwater California. This wasn’t my first trip to the museum, but it was the first one where my photos turned out. Now, with Enfilade out of the way, things have slowed down a little and I’m finally getting some of the photos from the visit posted here. Castle Air Museum has a really nice collection of (mostly American) WWII and Cold War aircraft. Be sure to check their website for a full list of aircraft.

While I took a bunch of pictures of the different aircraft, I thought I would focus on some of the more unusual or rare aircraft in the collection. First up, a couple of unusual WWII planes.

The B-18 Bolo was the plan that won the 1935 design and fly-off competition to replace the B-10, beating out the Boeing Model 299 (which would eventually become the B-17). It was the most numerous American bomber at the start of WWII, but was somewhat outdated by then. Many of the planes were eventually converted for use as anti-submarine aircraft. Only a handful of these planes are still around.
B-18 Bolo
The B-23 Dragon started out as a redesign of the B-18, but ended up as a new design. It was put into service in 1939, but wasn’t as good as the newer B-25 and B-26 bombers. It served in the patrol, training and transport role during WWII. Interestingly, even though only 38 aircraft were built, there are more restored versions of this aircraft around than the B-18 (according to Wikipedia there are only five remaining B-18s, while there are eight B-23s).
A very sleek looking B-23 Dragon
Now we move on to the Cold War aircraft with the B-50, an improved version of the B-29. The plane at the museum is a WB-50, which is the weather and reconnaissance version of the plane.
A WB-50 Superfortress
Next up is the gigantic B-36 Peacemaker (okay this is really an RB-36 reconnaissance plane). There are only four of these planes still around (probably because they are so big). There is also a mockup of the bomb carried by this type of bomber.
The RB-36 Peacemaker, with a bomb mock-up
There is also the first operational American all-jet bomber, the B-45 Tornado. In addition to being conventional and nuclear bombers, these aircraft we converted to reconnaissance planes, which were used over Korea during the Korean War. Again, another rare bird, as only three of these aircraft are still around.
A B-45 Tornado
Just in case you were thinking that Castle Air Museum is only about bombers (there are actually quite a few fighters, however there only a few unusual ones), here is an F-89 Scorpion with some mocked-up Genie missiles under the wings. I find it an interesting interceptor, mainly because it carried the nuclear-tipped Genie missile (which just seems like a crazy idea).
An F-89 Scorpion
I also took a picture of the museum’s show plane, an F-4E done up in the colors of the Air Force’s Thunderbirds flight demonstration group. While not an unusual aircraft, you usually don’t see these planes in show colors.
A F-4E in the Thunderbirds paint scheme
The last unusual plane from Castle Air Museum is an Avro Vulcan bomber. Another huge Cold War bomber, it is interesting to see this plane up close. The plane is on-loan to the museum and arrived in 1981. Some of the locals say that during the Falkland War the RAF came to the museum and took a few parts from this plane for the Vulcan bombers that participated in the Black Buck raids. The most common story is that parts of the refueling probe were taken, but I’ve never been able to confirm that story.
A Vulcan bomber
Overall, the museum is pretty nice. Most of the museum’s aircraft are parked outside and could use some cleaning up/paint. But the museum seems to be mostly a volunteer organization, so it is understandable that everything isn’t in pristine/flight line condition. If you find yourself in the central California area, it is certainly worth the time.