…was the Panther. Here are my seven Panthers, built from now out-of-production (OOP) 1/72 Revell kits #031070389 (Panther Ausf. D/Ausf. A) & #031590389 (Panther & Deutsche Fallschirmjäger).

A whole platoon plus two company command vehicles. Star aerials/umbrella aerials are having to wait until I get thin enough brass wire.

Mine are based on a very famous GrossDeutschland Panther…you can find it in the Bundesarchiv. Do a search for:  Bild 101I-712-0498-34

You should only get one result…and it’s a photo in many German armour books.

I used Brass Wire that I bought from a model train hobby shop (which is also where I get a lot of my terrain materials, like Woodland Scenics products).  The main aerial is made from 0.033″ diameter wire, with the prongs coming off it made from 0.022″ diameter.

Now, as you saw from my August 23 blog post, “ICM’s Sd.Kfz. 222, cars, bikes and aerials!“, the finished star aerials look a little bit thick and chunky. To do a new set of vehicles (since I’ll do any more 234/2s with the same wire for the sake of uniformity) I’ll be using thinner diameter brass wire – probably the 0.022” for the main aerial and then the next thinnest type that I can purchase from the model train shop for the prongs. I’d probably also use a less viscous bottle of Flash Cyanoacrylate, so that I don’t have to trim away any excess dried glue. Still, these were the only materials I had on hand or could purchase – so, I’m fine with what I’ve done so far and learnt from the process. Next time, I’ll try to order some materials in advance and not rush things.

I’d done some research to try to determine how many prongs these aerials had – the historical photos I had access to in various books showed vehicles with 6 prongs, vehicles with 5 prongs and vehicles with 5 main prongs plus one small horizontal prong. Hasegawa’s instructions for the kit seem to advocate a 4 prong aerial. Since I rediscovered the online Bundesarchiv earlier in the month, I spent some time ploughing through that, doing very general/broad searches like ‘ostfront 1941’, ‘ostfront 1942’ etc.

Here is one illustrative result: GrossDeutschland on the march.  You can see that, unlike Hasegawa’s suggestion that the main aerial stopped at the prongs, that the main aerial did go a little higher or feature a verticle sub-prong after the prongs. I have photos of two different Sd. Kfz. 263s (in Milsom & Chamberlain’s 1974 book ‘German armoured cars of World War Two’) with 5 prong aerials but showing that the main aerial continued after the prongs or had a vertical sub-prong. I’m not sure about how often a horizontal sub-prong just under the bigger prongs was used (you can see what I’m talking about in the Bundesarchiv example above). Looking through images using different search engines, I mostly saw 5-prong versions of what Hasegawa recommend modellers do. I’ve no doubt that there were different types of star/umbrella aerials…I was just hoping to find something more definitive than I did.

Löwe on the streets

August 25, 2009

The Sd. Kfz 250/3 (an ESCI kit re-released by Italeri) that I’d been working on is finished, as is a house that I’d bought a couple of years back from Battlefield Accessories. Here they are together: Lowe and Battlefield Accessories

The light green flock on the wall was to simulate moss growing on the northern side of the building…but it’s a little too light in colour, I think. Should be a bit darker. Oh well, you don’t know until you try.

This house is a Ruined Building from the Battlefield Accessories range. Resin kits, simple to assemble and customise. Fairly good detail – except the interior could have used more effort, like window frames and door frames, which it lacks – so the interior is all flat with no detail. Mine has painted up pretty well – I painted it to match the railway station I did some time ago (see much earlier posts on this blog about the railway station).

‘Löwe’ was done with my home-made Dark Grey paint and features my first attempt at making my own air-recognition flag. The flag has turned out OK and I learned a lot doing it. I’ll save how I made it for another blog post but I’m keen to try other methods, like using tissues heavily doused with PVA glue and then painted.

This 250/3 Schutzenpanzerwagen was then given a heavy coat of dust, as I decided that it would represent a vehicle from Operation Barbarossa…and many vehicles on that campaign got very heavily coated with dust while on the march.

Here’s a few more pics of it: Lowe 1 Lowe 2

Lowe 3 Lowe 4

You can see that I didn’t hesitate to make this a GrossDeutschland vehicle…how could I resist, when Italeri nicely provided me with a ‘stahlhelm’ decal on their decal sheet?!

I’ve commenced painting the ICM Sd. Kfz 222, and it will look similar to the above as I’ve decided to paint it as a vehicle from the same campaign.

horch-108-sep-aa-gun Here is the heavy car with the 20mm gun on the ground.

horch-108-with-aa-gun-in-back Here it is as it should be, with gun in back.

So, there it is. The MAC distribution 1:72 Horch 108/Kfz. 70, kit number 72057. You’ll have to go back through all the threads outlining its construction to see the problems I had with it. Yes, it has superfine detail, but it’s unnecessary. In fact, in this finished version, you’ll note that there are no wing mirrors. Both were edged brass and hair-thick…during painting, the left side one broke off. I contemplated glueing it back on but was so fed up with all the previous effort to glue both on that I decided to go the other way. In for a penny, in for a pound…may as well be done for a sheep as for a lamb. I cut the remaining one off, and now I feel happier knowing that each time I want to handle that unit, I don’t have to worry about the mirrors. It’s become more robust and suitable for gameplay by removing that wonderful but excessive detail.

A simple paint job – Citadel’s Desert Yellow with some streaks of Goblin Green as a simple camouflage. A good dust coat, then some splattered dirty water…to suggest that Autumn is not far away.

I must say I was happy with the decals – you get three (3, count ’em) white GrossDeutschland stalhelms (only need two) and nice numberplate decals that benefit from slight trimming so they fit the numberplates on the kit.

It’ll be a while before I tackle my four MAC Distribution Horch 108 Type 40 (#72054) heavy car passenger car kits, though. I have checked that all pieces are intact on sprues in all four boxes, so no excuses for missing pieces!

Oh, and I know I promised to show you the problems I have with the assembly sheet. That’ll be next post.

Although they were finished a fortnight ago, I wasn’t able to get around to photographing my completed Tigers until yesterday.

Now, these are Revell kits 03116 and 03161 – the difference being that in 03161 you also get a set of German infantry in Winter/Late War cammo gear.

I’ve posted here and there on what I discovered as I built and painted this kit. The only real troubles I had were 1) where I had used track links that are meant to get stuck on the turret as ‘ordinary’ track links, requiring those links that were glued onto the turret to require a little extra effort, and 2) when I realised I had to manually drill a hole (or two?) into the turret roof before assembly – but I’d already assembled.

Here’s the platoon:

tiger-platoon

The camouflage I chose was the Dark Yellow with Chocolate Brown scheme that GrossDeutschland’s organic Tiger unit at some stage in Southern Russia. I didn’t ‘mottle’ particularly well – in fact, until I applied the Kommando Khaki dust coats, they looked like milk cows!

You can see the camouflage pattern I did clearly in this photo of the platoon commander’s vehicle:

natural-aerial-view-of-commanders-tiger

I mentioned near the outset of their construction abouthow I was inspired by a colleague’s Panzer IIIs and StuGs, which looked so real because of dust coats and plenty of stowage and that I was going to add stowage to these Tigers.

I then discussed how I secured a barrel to a turret (which I directly based from a source historical photo). You can see the final product, painted-fishing-line-representing-steel-wire, here:

tiger-detail-secured-barrel-again

Pretty good, I reckon!

You can see all nine photos over at my Flickr account.

I think this is a very good kit. Great realism, not too complicated, sturdy and paints up very well. I’ve got two more to assemble as Company Commanders’ vehicles – once I’ve finished the Horch 108s, that is.

…but my Jagdpanthers do.

The Revell / Matchbox Jagdpanthers are nearing completion. That means that they now have a completed camouflage paint scheme / pattern on them and I’m just doing the little details like painting stowage and overpainting  errors.

I did some reading to see what sort of camouflage patterns and colours were used on these tank hunters. I found a drawing of one that had been with GrossDeutschland, but it was just in DunkelGelb (Dark Yellow) with a partial coat of whitewash, as winter camouflage. The other drawings all had many different patterns (as well as another with just plain DunkelGelb) but stripes of colours (in parallel, mostly on an angle) was the majority of patterns I found.

I have found extremely little on how long GrossDeutschland may have had Jagdpanthers…my guess at the moment is that probably as little as two or three months. (Those out there who know – I’m happy to be corrected). Now, it wasn’t going to be fun to have plain old DunkelGelb vehicles…that’s already being done with my StuG III’s, will be done with those Horch FlaK heavy cars and to some degree with my as-yet-unpurchased Panzer IV’s.

So, I selected a scheme for a vehicle that was operating on the Eastern Front but labelled as “Unit unidentified” and decided to paint a platoon of them. It had parallel stripes on an angle,  similar to this vehicle. However, the difference was that the colour stripes didn’t simply alternate between green and brown, but instead had a repeating pattern of green-green-brown with one green stripe being bigger than the other.

This also gave me a chance to try out the new-ish Citadel ‘Foundation Paints’. I can recommend the Orkhide Shade! It makes a nice alternative to using Dark Angels Green for green camouflage.

This is a question I’ve been pondering for the last fortnight and it arose because of the turret of one of the Tigers. To be more precise, it arose because I was painting up a crewman whose head is poking out the cupola of the platoon tank’s cupola.

The crewman is the crewman supplied with the Italeri StuG III kit, and he’s wearing a field cap (feldmutze).  The question was – should I paint on the cockade and national emblem onto the cap, or leave them off? Painting them on would certainly add more detail and realism, but it would be (for me) finicky and difficult…and if I stuffed it up, would require doing the whole cap again. My rule (discussed in a previous post) that near enough is good enough when painting small items of detail (like GrossDeutschland stahlhelms) would also have to apply if I got it to look OK, it would have to stay OK – trying to add to it and make it perfect would probably lead to me over-correcting or over-adding and so ruining the OK effort that I already had.

Remembering to do my research first, I checked the Panzerworld website to check up on Heer Panzer crew headgear. The national emblem would be easy enough – a light grey (I chose Fortress Grey) but the cockade would be Skull White with a Blood Red centre. Still the question remained – to do it, or not? Would it be visible at a range greater than 50cm? Would it really add anything to the overall effect? Would it be worth extra lost time if I made an error? I didn’t do it with my Italeri StuG…should I do it here?

My memory also summoned up the efforts of two WW2 wargaming  colleagues from Nunawading Wargames Association. One turned out functional yet very realistic-looking troops and vehicles. The other turned out technically brilliant work, even perfectly painting on collar patches and shoulder strap rank insignia (no mean feat on 1:72 scale figures!) to his troops – but such tiny detail was lost if you were looking at the troops at any distance greater than half a metre. I had talked with the former at an in-house painting clinic, and he urged against such intricate work as being unnecessary and not as useful as proper shading, highlighting and basing.

Having given all this good consideration, I decided I would. After all, these are Tigers, the most notable German tank of the war and equalizer (for a short while – the T-34 lost all its threat). Also, if the detail on the feldmutze couldn’t be distinguished at range then I would know not to do it again in the future, especially if I didn’t botch painting the cockade and national emblem.

Luckily, I did a better than OK job and have glued the crewman into place. Now I can do all the final anoying details on these Tigers, then do the camouflage pattern, weather them and get them off my hobby table and onto the gaming table!

Camouflage and styrene

August 17, 2008

Here’s the completed schwimmwagen:

I gave it a whimsical camouflage scheme, almost child-like, of bushes. The bushes have brown trunks and branches, with green ‘blobby’ masses of leaves. This schwimmwagen is an officer’s vehicle, so I decided that no-one was going to complain about how they would camouflage their own transport! It uses the standard dark green and red-brown. Kommando Khaki was drybrushed onto the upper surfaces to represent dust…but the tyres and lower half (which were submerged during schwimming) are clean and fresh, representing that this vehicle has just recently forded some sort of water course.

I’m getting lots of practice in painting my own GrossDeutschland ‘stalhelms’, as you can see. It’s not easy – if I get it fairly right then I leave it, as trying to go back and improve or correct what I’ve done usually results in me botching what I had and having to start from scratch. I could readily buy decals for the ‘stalhelms’ – but don’t want to. Practice makes perfect, no?

* * *

The styrene sheet that I cut up and shaped for the thickets is readily available. I bought mine directly from a factory because I needed bulk (in a few weeks’ time I’m going to embark on making up my own roads, rivers and creeks), however I started off using pre-packaged sheet styrene from Evergreen Scale Models.

I’ve bought and still see their sheet styrene and other modelling products in hobby shops, model railroad shops, model kit shops and the like. Their clear/transparent sheet styrene is great for quickly making streams and ponds!

Two things to cover in this post – A) the thicket that I made using sheet styrene, lichen, talus and flock are finished, and B) I’ve got enough fiddly stuff done on the Maultiers to begin the winter/snow camouflage pattern on them.

Here’s a photo of the thicket in play but without a unit in it/entering it:

and now a photo of the thicket with a Marder III(h) moving through it:

As you can see, when something moves into, across or is revealed to be hidden in the terrain, simply lift off the beautifully made modular piece and there is still the template or base below (as you can see, painted to exactly replicate the bushes and rocks above it) so all know that it is abnormal terrain.

Because this is a small piece (about 5 inches by 3 inches), I only made the top in halves. Previous projects have involved the terrain piece being cut into thirds or fifths (the one into fifths was for 28mm fantasy wargaming).

However, you get beautiful terrain which never gets damaged in play.

On to the Maultier – I’ve opted for a hasty, streaked pattern (deliberately not going over the GrossDeutschland stahlhelm on the cabin doors). I won’t even give the pattern a second coat…I want it to lookquickly done with watered-down whitewash. I’ll do the tray sides and rear plus completely do the tarpaulin.

Oh, and those Caesar Panzergrenadiers have arrived! Overall, a good set of figures. Full review to come very soon.

If you’re the driver figure from Hasegawa’s 1/72 kit #31113, then you need to have most of your left arm sliced off and both feet amputated at the ankles! I had glued his arms on and then painted him up, but he wouldn’t sit in the seat at all properly – his bum was one part across the passenger’s seat and his knees were hitting the dashboard. Which means that as he is, he won’t fit in. Out came the scalpel. I severed both feet. Then I shaved off as much of his left arm as possible, retaining the whole hand…this was a verticle slice. He then fitted in fairly well – not perfectly, but enough so that he didn’t look unnatural. Basically, his left elbow sticks well and truly into the door panel a good 3mm, and both feet have to come off – again another 3mm.

Then I painted on two GrossDeutschland ‘stalhelms’ as unit IDs. I’ll touch up the paint on his arm, then do a good thick coating of dust on the upper half, then it’ll be ready for safety Dullcoting and action.

Continued on with assembly of the Italeri StuG. So far, glueing on the track links has progressed more smoothly than with the UM kits. But I’m only 1/3 of the way through the task, so stay posted.

The modular pieces of the thicket are ready to go. (The modular pieces are the two bits on the left). With all excess flock tapped off and then brushed out of the lichen, a quick blast of Testors Dullcote was sprayed on to preserve its lifespan.

Let me explain the picture a bit more. I have the three pieces of sheet styrene stuck to empty single-serve plastic containers, using double-sided sticky tape. The large piece on the right is covered by the two halves on the left. If a tank or base of figures moves into that terrain, then I remove the appropriate half. As I have painted the terrain onto the bottom part, it’s still clear that the tank or figures are in terrain!

I hadn’t finished the paintwork when I took that picture. I have now, so I’ll give it some Dullcote and then get proper pictures up of the terrain in action.