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.

Over a year ago I discussed general principles of camouflage on vehicles in this post. This post also introduced some of you to the wonderful Lone Sentry website, a great place for primary documents.

In my discussion, I quoted a section about the failings of camouflage painting (or perhaps that a well-painted camouflage scheme alone cannot solve all problems). The section prior to that which I quoted discusses using natural materials to aid vehicle camouflage (and is called, not surprisingly, Natural Materials).

All this was thrust back to the foreground of my modelling thinking a few days ago, because of a YouTube video I found serendipitously after trialling a another video which was Recommended for me at login. The video is called Restored Jagdpanzer Hetzer:

It’s the first eight (8) seconds that interested me. The Hetzer begins in the shade of some trees before driving out into full sunlight. The disruptive camouflage paint scheme in combination with the clumpy shade from the branches overhead really help to break up the silhouette and shape of the Hetzer.

It’s a lovely example of how a camouflage scheme can contribute greatly to concealment – I hope you enjoy it as I did, and learn from it (or have the theory neatly illustrated by it).

Thinking more about camouflage for vehicles (and to a lesser extent, soldiers) I did a little internet browsing my favourite way – using internet directories.

I quickly got to Lone Sentry, a website that offers “Photographs, Documents, and Research on World War II” – especially the full text of some articles from the Intelligence Bulletin. “Printed by the Military Intelligence Service throughout WWII, the Intelligence Bulletin was designed to inform officers and enlisted men of the latest enemy tactics and weapons. For the historian and collector, the bulletins offer a rare view into the Allied knowledge of the Axis forces”.

It also offers the full text to publications from the time, especially this one:

WAR DEPARTMENT FIELD MANUAL FM 5-20B
CORPS OF ENGINEERS
CAMOUFLAGE OF VEHICLES
APRIL 1944

In the section titled Vehicle Painting, it states:

“The enemy will usually see vehicles at an angle. At least two adjoining surfaces will be visible to him at once. For example, from close-range ground observation he might see a side and the front; from the air, or on an aerial photograph, he might see the top, a side, and the front. For this reason, vehicle patterns are designed to disrupt the cube shape of vehicles from all angles, to disrupt shadows cast by tarpaulin bows, to tie in with the shadow at the rear of a vehicle when it is faced into the sun, to tie in with the large dark shadow areas of windows, mudguards, wheels, and undercarriage, and to be bold enough to be effective at a distance.

Patterns are composed of a light color and a dark color. Black or olive drab have proved satisfactory dark colors in several theaters of operations. The light color is selected to match a light color typical of and predominant in the terrain in which the vehicle operates. White or light gray paint is applied to the undersurfaces of vehicles to cause them to reflect light, thus lightening the dark shadows of the undercarriage. This is called countershading.

Camouflage painting is not a cure-all. Alone, it cannot be relied on to do more than render a vehicle obscure, making it hard for an enemy gunner to locate the vehicle and confusing him as to the location of vulnerable areas. Nor can it conceal a moving vehicle, because other sight factors, such as dust, reflections, and motion itself, will betray its presence. However, camouflage painting is a valuable supplement to other camouflage measures. Added to good siting, dispersion, camouflage discipline, and the use of nets and drapes, it increases the benefits to be derived from these measures. Together, and intelligently used, they will provide a high degree of concealment for any vehicle”.

It then goes on with colour illustrations of various US patterns on various vehicles (self-propelled gun, truck etc.)

It neatly summarises what I’m trying to do – and what soldiers still try to do today.