Picking up those brushes again.

Hi and welcome to the occasional mutterings of Dave Doc, a military modeller and some time gamer. Gaming and model making has given me a real education, History & Geography(obvious really), Artistry, Politics, Economics, Logistics, Project Management -you try building miniature armies without the last 3.

I will use the blog to record my creations & the odd occasion I actually do some gaming.

I have always been inspired by the aesthetic side of gaming. Playing on well constructed terrain using excellently painted units is always a joy.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Sudan - Royal Engineer Balloon Detachment

A little sideline of something from left field for the Sudan. While flicking through some reference material I found mention of the "Royal Engineers Balloon Detachment " that took part in the 1885 Suakin campaign. In a fit of madness I thought that would be something very different, and an interesting modelmaking challenge.

Balloons were first deployed by the British Army’s Royal Engineers during the expedition to Suakin in 1885. The balloon, which was of goldbeater's skin (a thin transparent membrane with great tensile strength which was traditionally used as an interleaf for the manufacture of gold leaf) , covered with a netting. It  measured twenty-three feet in diameter. When filled it contained seven thousand cubic feet of gas.This had to be brought all the way from Chatham in the UK, a distance of nearly four thousand miles.

anyone seen any Fuzzies?

The balloon would be used above a column of troops at about 200 feet up to give advance visibility - communications was by dropping message down to the ground. Here it is mounted on a 300mm long, 5mm diameter transparent acrylic rod set onto a CD sized base. The rod fits in to the base of the balloon through the basket.

The balloon itself is made from a 11cm Polystrene sphere from a craft shop with Milliput used to form the base inflating area part. I found a large "O" seal in the spares box to stretch around the equator part of the balloon. The netting was recyled from a bag of onions , and was used to cover the painted sphere and tied round with a cable tie to the base of the balloon. I made the basket from balsa wood , and the rigging and ground rope hanging from the balloon is twisted wire all soldered together.  

I now need to get my head around making a full ground crew, and transport for the deflated balloon and gas - but that's a project for another day or several.

a few of the pictures i found on line while researching 



  1. Very nice indeed - lovely scratch build Dave. What fig did you use for the goggled observer?

    1. Thanks Paul..the figure is from the Perry Sudan War Correspondsnts set ...Melton Prior

  2. Wonderful work Dave - great looking piece!

  3. How utterly splendid Dave, great build Sir.

  4. What a splendid piece Dave! Kudos!
    It's really inspiring what you used to create the balloon and I'd love to borrow the idea. A pity that the Brits didn't employ them five years earlier in Afghanistan...

    1. oh i am usre a bit of "imagination" coudl work wonders

  5. Best Sudan 'unit' I have ever seen!

  6. Nice! Will this be used just to decorate the table, or will it have rules in whatever games you play?

    1. Hugh, i want to use it for spotting , as indeed it was used. The mahdists do have hidden deployment

  7. Very, very clever and has to be a first in our hobby.


Work in hand


No more than 3 things on the PAINTING table at once. Nothing new added until something is finished.

PREPARATION work is done when I don't fancy detail painting. Cleaning up, converting, undercoating etc.

PLANNING is expressions of interest or things that have inspired me to be created with no definite timescale as yet.

28mm Sudan
28mm Necromunda

On the PREPATION table.
28mm Sudan
15mm WW2 Landing craft
1/200 ME262

WW2 D Day game