Thursday, 23 September 2021

A few days in the Sexten Dolomites and Innsbruck

Being grounded with all the travel restrictions since March last year (pretty much like everyone else), my better half and I decided it was high time to run the Covid gauntlet and risk a quick dash overseas.  The choice fell on the open air of the Sexten Dolomites in the Italian South Tyrol -  a world heritage site - and later a few days in the lovely city of Innsbruck.

The cool alpine air made such a refreshing change from the suffocating summer heat of home which even now persists and shows no sign of abating. A few days of hiking in wide open spaces like those of the Alps is a luxury which we do not even dream about on our miniscule island, so it was with particular gusto that we took to our walking boots and sticks.  And once in Innsbruck there was the added pleasure of the Andreas Hofer gallery and the medieval exhibits in Ambras Castle, a veritable treat for military history buffs. Hofer was the innkeeper who organised Tyrolean resistance against the French in 1809-10 and is highly regarded as a folk hero in the Tyrol.  He managed to engage and defeat on various occasions Bavarian troops but was ultimately betrayed by a fellow Austrian, captured and executed.

A room with a view.  Our hotel high in the Sexten alpine meadows commanded breathtaking views   

A cable car ride up to the Rotwand brings you to easy hikes with marvelous views

The old city centre of Innsbruck as seen from across the river Inn  

The Andreas Hofer Tyrol military museum contains a nice array of hardware
A marvellous rotunda painting celebrates Hofer's struggles against Lefebvre's Bavarians in 1809

Late medieval jousting armour at Schloss Ambras

A nice selection of 15th & 16th century armour at Ambras

There's more to Innsbruck than just museums !


Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Panzer 38(t) Ausf G in 1:35 scale

Even though this is supposed to be a wargaming blog, I'm really into these larger scale tank models now. I have to admit it is a very nice facet of our wonderful hobby which until now I had only touched upon occasionally. My latest model is a 1:35 scale Panzer 38(t) Ausf G from Hobby Boss. These early tanks proved to be very resilient and even though production was discontinued around 1942 (they had become hopelessly obsolete by then), they continued serving practically until the end. The 38(t) hailed originally from Czechoslovakia - the "(t)" in its designation stands for tschechisch which is german for czech according to wiki - and even though it stopped being used as a front line tank mid way during the war, it's hull and chassis formed the basis of the Marder, Hetzer and Jagdpanzer 38. It's four large road wheels are unmistakable! 
This kit from Hobby Boss is extremely well produced. Parts fit perfectly, are extremely well moulded and highly detailed. It's a pity that the only interior detail is in the turret and the interior of the hull is completely devoid of detail. I even had to scratch build a partition in case light from one end of the hull would be somehow visible at the other. Seems to me a bit nonsensical to put detail in the turret but not in the hull as going for an open turret hatch would surely reveal the empty hull interior below. The version I opted for is a 1944 Bulgarian army vehicle painted entirely in dark yellow as was also customary for the Wehrmacht in the later war years. It seems the Bulgarians had only ten 38(t)'s delivered during the war. I was not aware the Bulgarians used a black cross insignia on their tanks, very similar if not identical to the markings the fascists used in the Spanish Civil War in pre-WW2 years. So you see, you also get to learn stuff apart from enjoying the build!
The extensive riveting on the wheels, hull and turret made for a lot of painstaking washing and highlighting (each rivet was individually washed with oils and highlighted in a buff colour) but it is such an outstanding feature on the model that it seemed a shame not to invest some more time on it. In the end I was quite pleased with the way that turned out.  Weathering and general polluting was with the usual AK pigments and washes.