Four good lots located in the USA came up on EBay late last month. With the Aussie Dollar almost on par with the US Greenback, I decided to bid well & bid hard on  them as my purchasing power was higher than usual making this an excellent opportunity. I won three of the lots. They were a mixture of assembled plastic kits, a white metal truck & gun and some resin vehicles. Here’s a photo of all three lots combined:  . All three require some work, but that’s fine. They are all resin or pre-assembled, so some of my work has been done for me! The work they need is mostly minor repairs. I’m going to strip the existing undercoat off all the cars and the truck & gun, and re-undercoat all the Wespes. Then everything will get my painting treatment.

I got six Wespes (a whole platoon) in one go. Sure, they have suffered some damage from storage and previous use, but nothing that can’t be fixed:  . Some glue and possibly some bits & bobs out of the leftovers/spares box should get them back to operational status. Then I’m going to undercoat all with black and do the painting my way. I’ll lose a little of their detail in doing so, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Next were some Horch or Steyr heavy cars with what I think is a Krupp 2.5 ton truck with an IG-18 field gun:  . If you think you can tell me exactly which model of Krupp truck it’s meant to represent, please let me know via Comments. This lot and the last lot are all going to require me to buy some new cyanoacrylate glue, as they are resin or white metal kits and so my plastic glue obviously won’t cut the mustard. The Krupp truck & gun are white metal – I can’t see any manufacturer’s mark on it’s undercarriage so I can’t ascertain its providence. The windshield, tow hook, a wheel and a tray bench all need glueing.

The last lot are more heavy ccars and an armoured car:  . All are resin kits. The armoured car is an SdKfz 231. Again, some wheels need glueing. Then these two lots of resin & white metal vehicles will undergo some paint stripping so I can start painting them from scratch.

The Wespes are actually 1/76 scale, as you can see here when you look at them compared to my ESCI 1/72 Wespe in whitewash cammo:   . Again, I cannot determine which manufacturer made them…Matchbox, Fujimi…there is nothing on the undercarriage to tell me. They require more glueing than anything else I bought but I’m overjoyed to note that all the one piece vinyl tracks they came with have not deteriorated at all and so I’m not going to have to scrounge up some tracks to repair them with.

My forces just grew in a sizeable bound. Yay for EBay and the Aussie Dollar!

The setting for the second Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist game of 2010 was reasonable enough – somewhere in the Leningrad oblast during Spring 1942. The Germans had to cross a small stream and capture a major village, the Russians defend it.

As Peter and I had agreed via email prior to the game, this was to be an infantry clash. The force I chose weighed in at about 2300 PV, Peter’s force coming in at around 1500 PV.

My force was comprised of two companies; an infantry company and an infantry gun company. The infantry gun company allowed me to use the IG-18s that I worked on earlier this year on the table (onboard) while keeping a battery of 150mm FlaK 18/36s  offboard. It was a learning experience to select and account for it, as I realised in previous games I had purchased Forward Artillery Observers (FAOs) but no Battery Fire Control unit to actually follow their orders and make sure the shells were fired! This oversight was rectified and I learned something at the same time…as well as realising I have a lot of extra little modelling things to work on in the months to come, like bases to represent the Battery Fire Control staff, some more FAOs and the like.

I elected to give the gun company FAOs some wheels, so the three of them ended up in my two kubelwagens and solitary schwimmwagen. This has given me some impetus to paint up the remaining BMW R35 motorcycles and their accompanying figures from Italeri so that I can have FAOs on motorbikes, which is the cheapest motorised option for them. Anyway, hopefully the FAOs riding in cars would let them go forward and into good positions quickly so that my artillery could rain death and ensure success for my brave footsloggers.

The infantry company was the standard maximised option I’ve used before, except this time I elected to buy two FAOs on horseback to assist the 120mm mortars that I took as Support from the Battalion. The 120mm mortars were towed on the back of Opel Blitz 4X4 trucks – they had to be, they couldn’t be moved forward by hand like the IG-18s! The infantry company 81mm mortars could fire smoke shells as could my whole infantry gun company. My plan of attack was thus to use smoke where possible to blind the Russians and allow my infantry to get as far forward as possible before they might take serious losses. A rolling barrage of smoke shells with infantry advancing behind would be a textbook and perfectly historically accurate plan of attack.

All this looked great on paper. We set the board up and it looked great – see these three photos:

As Peter needed a little more time to decide how to deploy his forces, I opted to roll for the Weather.

I rolled a 3. This meant that the ground was muddy and the sky was overcast. Not great, but not terrible. I then rolled for Wind. Gale force winds heading South.

That was the end of my textbook attack. No smoke during gale force winds! Also, the mud was going to slow my kubelwagens and schwimmwagen down to the same speed as my infantry, so their benefit was nullified. They may as well have been on foot! Even my FAOs on horseback would move quicker.

Thus,the die was cast (pardon the pun). Here’s the ‘history book’ setting: after the heavy gale the previous day, a German force in the Leningrad oblast had to try to continue a somewhat stalled advance and take an important village. While the rain had stopped, the ground was still very muddy and gale-force winds continued to scour the battlefield.

Turn One – As the Germans entered from their own board edge, they immediately came under fire from 76mm artillery and from more devastating 122mm artillery. You can see this in this photo –  – that blue die of Peter’s is functioning as the centre for the 76mm artillery barrage; the radius projecting from it already chews into my ranks.

1st Platoon lost a section and it’s Platoon HQ, but I roll 10 for Morale and the rest of the infantry company are fine. All my troops do is advance. My 150mm artillery perform map fire but to no effect. As it is only firing for one round, I then have to wait three turns for it to fire on a new map reference.

Turn Two – I continue to advance. This time, the Soviet artillery causes no harm to my troops, some of whom have side-stepped out of the Beaten Zone Radius or simply kept low as they went forward  .

Turn Three –The Russians now try to call down artillery fire, shifting its position, but to no success.

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Turn Four – The Ivans successfully call down fire but only kill one German team. The Germans continue to advance, many now approaching copses which would provide some shelter  .

Turn Five – Everything happens at once!

Those in the front of the advancing German infantry forces sight onboard Russian artillery and infantry . His infantry includes some sections of PM M1910 (Пулемёт Максима на станке Соколова, Pulemyot Maxima na stanke Sokolova or “Maxim’s machine gun model 1910 on Sokolov’s mount”) which are classed as Medium Machine Guns (MMGs) in Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist. Lead sang and the Germans lost 6 teams to them, but the Germans gallantry replied with their own MG-34s (LMGs in Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist unless tripod-mounted) and manage to silence two guns . The Soviet onboard artillery tried to wipe out my 120mm mortar teams who were still setting up, but fail.

On the left, my IG-18s are still out of the battle so far but have not suffered any inbound fire . My 150mm map fire artillery have their order cancelled (otherwise I was going to hit my own troops) so they begin setting up to fire on map reference number 3.

Turn 6 – It was obvious I wasn’t going to reach either objective in time. This turned out to be both Peter & I’s fault – more about this in a moment.

Three of my four 120mm mortars are silenced by 122mm artillery. More Soviet infantry are revealed . There was small arms fire between the two infantry forces  and that resulted in the last surviving team from my 1st Platoon dying. I make a Morale test for the rest of the Company…and get a 3. Retreat.

This was pretty disappointing as the two previous Morale Tests I made were 12’s (the maximum) and I’d started off Morale Tests so well with that solid 10. Still, it was 11pm and it was logical to end the game – my IG-18s weren’t going to win the game for me, not against all that Soviet might.

What did I do wrongly?

Firstly, I purchased Smoke Grenades for each and every infantry team/base I fielded, adding some 206.25 PV to my force. Upon discovery of this (ie. when I told him that the Gale had ruined my ‘advance behind smoke’ plan), Peter pointed me to p. 13 of the rules, where it states that only assault engineers/pioneers may use smoke grenades. This was some PV that I had thought of using to instead buy some AA vehicles to add to the game…I was keen to use 20mm cannons to chew up his infantry. So, in a way I partially handicapped myself with this as I later realized didn’t really have a big enough force for the night. (I have just read that I should have 2-3 times what Peter fielded…I should have had 3000 to 4500 PV. What an addition to this PV handicap! I should have bought more offboard artillery and put troops in trucks or halftracks as well as field all 3 AA vehicles I have).

Secondly, I didn’t have a backup plan. I didn’t think I wouldn’t be able to have my smokescreen.

Thirdly, I once again deployed right into his artillery fire. However, you can never predict this, can you?

Fourthly, both Peter and I had neglected to check that the Objectives I set were reasonable. For an Attack/Defense scenario, objectives should be anywhere in the middle 40% of the board – I went and set them in the last 20% of the board. There was no way I could reach that in 10-12 turns on foot, even if not a single solitary Russian tried to stop me. A second handicap.

With all this in mind, I’m not so worried about this loss. It was effectively an impossible scenario.

Still, not having a backup plan was foolish.

On a different note, all that new scenery was displayed and garnered praise from viewers.

Here is a new thicket with an old thicket:  .

Here’s a new thicket with the river sections:  .

Here are the final two new thickets:  .

Hopefully the next game will be as soon as August, and will be an action from Kursk.

While doing various searches for information to recreate scenarios for games of Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist, I’ve been extremely fortunate to stumble across British Pathe’s film archives.

Four films of footage recorded by German cameramen during Operation Barbarossa have lots of great material for both wargamers and modellers. Here they are, with my notes:

GERMAN INVASION OF RUSSIA Film ID: 1669.02 –  Great footage of towns, bridges, rivers as the Germans fight forward or advance forward. Plenty of town shots, both of outskirts and inside them too. The Horch heavy car! Panzer IIIs and a Panzer IV short-barrel.

GERMAN INVASION OF RUSSIA Film ID: 1669.03 – towards the end you can see PaK 36’s, IG-18’s and Flak 88’s all being used against ground targets.

GERMAN INVASION OF RUSSIA Film ID: 1669.04 – StuG IIICs or some other early models in action! Converted AA flak trucks engaging ground targets! Infantry flamethrowers! German psychological warfare infantry team with portable AV equipment calling for Russians to surrender from the buildings they are defending!

GERMAN INVASION OF RUSSIA Film ID:  3259.07 – Camouflaged 88mms in action; 50mm infantry mortars in action; field artillery (not sure of what they are) ,  SdKfz 11 towing Leichte Feldhaubitze Mundungbremse 18 artillery piece (105mm artillery piece).

Some have sound, some don’t.

In the words of Fred Moriarity from “The Goon Show”, “There’s more where that came from!”

So this post is the first of a series.

It’s been some time since I worked on either troops or AFVs. Although my Panzer V Panthers remain technically incomplete (I haven’t done the aerials yet – I was able to buy some more brass wire but not enough to make 7 aerials and have enough to waste), I’m up to speed and have enough infantry and infantry support bases to do plenty of infantry scenarios (thanks to completing those IG-18s).

I’ve decided to turn my attention to a kit I was extremely lucky to purchase last year – UM’s Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer (Commander’s version). 6 or 7 were being sold for $5 AUD each at a swap & sell last year. I purchased four, enough for a section. I then asked around about whether I can use these as normal vehicles and received a number of confirming replies. This was fantastic, as this kit does come with the roof-mounted remote-controlled machinegun, but it’s not assembled and put on this kit.

There’s already some good commentary about Hetzer kits in 1/72 scale. The kit I’m doing, for your own reference, is this one (have a look at Henk’s site for more photos, assembly instruction sheet scans, etc.)

I’ve commenced with doing the lower chassis, assembling the hull, suspension and roadwheels. Tonight will be the bogies and outer parts of the drive wheels, then the labourious process of glueing together the length & link tracks can occur.

I find UM’s kits to be very good – good instructions and well-cast parts.

Oh, the other thing I need to alter in the assembly is to only provide one aerial, not two. I may need to cut or file off the second aerial mount…I’ll have to check my excellent Polish bi-lingual Hetzer reference  book to see.

The IG-18s that I have been working on whilst doing the caulk rivers are old RAFM pewter 20mm WWII blister packs. The guns themselves were in 5 or 6 pieces – the two wheels, the gun itself, the mid-section of the shield, the carriage of the gun and then I think the rest of the shield…or maybe the carriage and the rest of the shield were all one part…

They were cleaned up, glued together with thick Flash Cyanoacrylate and undercoated quite some time ago and have sat around causing small guilt trips whenever I faced the spare hobby table where they were sitting and waiting, along with lots of figures from whom the corresponding gun crews would be chosen from.

Once painted, they fitted nicely onto 40mm x 40mm bases. The Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist rules (page 11) stipulate that, as Light Guns, the IG-18 only needs two figures on its base to represent its crew. So, here they are, six based guns: and here is some of the detail:

The crews are figures from Pegasus Hobbies’ Granatwerfer kit, Italeri’s 251/1 kit, Airfix’s sd. Kfz. 234 kit and Italeri’s German Infantry.

The guns were done in my homemade Panzer Grey, with varying amounts of dust coating them.

I’ve been working on some IG-18 field guns whilst tackling the caulk rivers (the caulk rivers are coming along slowly because they require at least two uninterrupted hours of time each session to get anything substantial done…on weeknights I’m lucky to get an hour for modelling (with or without interruptions), so smaller or quicker things get done while bigger ones drag on and have to wait for their turn on weekends).

All of a sudden the crews of these guns were elevated from their long-standing unpainted status here to being complete on Monday night. The guns themselves required little effort – two coats of homemade Dark Grey, some drybrushing with Codex Grey (fading paint) and then weathering with Kommando Khaki (dust coat).

I hit a snag with the gun aiming periscope, which I wanted to paint blue glass lenses on. The lens sticking up over the shield waseasily identified, but not the other one (which the aimer would peer in to). The model had a couple of projecting tubes or knobs which could have been the aimer’s sight – and I had no assembly instructions or painting instructions for these kits to fall back on. Google Images to the rescue! I did a simple search, ‘ig18 sighting’ (minus the single quotation marks) to get 100 resultsResult number 9 was perfect. Figure 79 had exactly what I wanted…the eyepiece. I was able to put Skull White and then Regal Blue onto the correct part.

(Result number 9 comes from a website mentioned here a number of times before – Lone Sentry! I refer to it in earlier posts when discussing the theory and practice of vehicle camouflage).

All that remains for these IG-18s is a final light second dust coat, then the figures can be glued onto the bases (I’ve already glued these guns onto bases). The bases then get two Kayak Brown undercoats, flock glued on and finally a coat of Dullcote to protect them and give them a long playing life.

My sticking of talus onto the river sections immediately after applying and shaping the caulk on them hasn’t turned out well. The caulk didn’t latch on to the talus at all well, so many pieces have fallen off. The modelling grass did better, but I still wasted plenty as a good portion fell off. The lesson for the talus is to glue it on after all the undercoating is done, then do the flock representing grass as a stage after that. The lesson for the modelling grass is – more experimentation and practice is needed in order that more adheres and doesn’t get wasted. I may actually squeeze caulk into my fingers, knead one end of the modelling grass into aball of caulk, then place and shape the caulk ball with its grass sticking out into a bed of already-laid caulk.

Some time ago I started serious work on Italeri’s “PaK 40 AT gun with servants” kit.

Since that post I had finished painting the four guns in DunkelGelb in Spring and left the crews to the side, as I was also going to do some crews for IG-18 field guns (7.5 cm leichtes Infanteriegeschütz 18) at the same time. Well, being a wargamer, I fall victim to regular bouts of “start something else on the side” disease and so decided to get these PaK 40 guns & crews painted, based, flocked and in play before July 2010.

I took off the sprue and removed all flashing from all six crew and then settled on four (as that’s what the Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist rules mandates for a gun of that size). Then I started painting.

Now, please click on this link to see all six crew that you get with the kit.

From the top row, I’m using #1 and #3 from the left. On the bottom row, I’ve chosen to paint up three of #1, all four of #2 and one of #3 from the left.

If you look closely, you’ll see that they are all warmly dressed. Bottom row #1 is in greatcoat and top row #3 has a balaclava or some sort of woollens around his neck. That means that I have to paint them as if all are in snow or a cold climate.

The crew whom aren’t in greatcoats are wearing a parka or jacket of some sort. Since I’ve already done troops in the reversible ‘mouse” suits, I wanted these later -war soldiers to have cammo. I decided to go and look at re-enactor suppliers and also my history books. Richard A. Underwood Militaria has this. Epic Militaria has this, which is great, but then there is also this. My book seemed to indicate that often it was the latter of Epic Militaria’s cammo smocks that were worn…ones without hoods.

You can’t see it clearly back on at Plastic Soldier Review, but these figures have smocks or parkas with hoods and also with distinctive drawstrings. So, it seems I’ll be painting my Splinter Camouflage uniforms with white drawstrings, as this best fits the Winter clothing Italeri has dressed these chaps in. Even though those winter outfits were reversible to snow white, I’m having all-cammo-out, because I can. Hah!

It’s nice that one two of the figures have greatcoats. Variety is a grand thing. Sadly, the picture I have in a book which I think Italeri has based this kit on doesn’t feature anyone in greatcoats…they are all in the reversible parkas, some with matching leggings and some not. All have reversed their clothing so the snow white side is on the outside. All wear the 1943 field Cap too (Einheitsfeldmütze).

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Paul has concluded (for now) his Opel Blitz review and he has selected the leading product for wargamers to assemble, paint and use. Read his decision here.