Cobwebs and dust

May 8, 2015

Just done a little sweeping and tidying, as this last week I am recommencing work on miniatures. I’m glad to see many of you whom I had links to are still publishing your blogs!

I can’t say how much I’m going to publish here. Probably just sporadically.

I’m trying to get these peasants’ storage huts out of the way, so I can finish the second platoon of Panthers, and then so I can start work on a number of prebuilt kits I’ve bought that were part of “vehicle graveyard” Ebay lots.

 

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Just working on some Eastern Front peasants’ houses and continuing on with some Panthers. I’ll put the Panthers away as I achieved what I needed to with them today (correct sizing and detailing of thier cammo pattern), so I’ll just keep working with the houses until they are completed and the Panthers can be taken up later.

Baby steps.

A week ago Peter and I had our third game so far this year (we are aiming for a total of five for 2010). We had both earlier agreed to try recreating some of the actions that comprised ‘Operation Citadel’ (Unternehmen Zitadelle) and I had selected the assault on Cherkasskoye, which commenced on 5 July 1943 along with the rest of the Operation.

The scenario was Attack/Defense, with myself attacking. I was fielding a platoon of Panthers, a platoon of Tigers and a platoon of StuGs, with the company HQ’s also being Panthers. Here’s the main photo of the board or map for the night’s game: – you can see the road heading North and going through the town of Cherkasskoye. This was the same direction I was heading. More photos of the board/map for the night:  .

The town itself was actually on a slight plateau. I don’t have enough hills to replicate this, so instead it is nestled in a valley between three sets of hills. Hmm, maybe there’s a future project there, make some more hills so plateaus can be used?

We rolled for Weather and got historic results that might actually match the real weather for that day – Clear weather; a Light wind and the wind was heading East.

TURN ONE: The Germans came onto the board: . As they were about to assume their combat formations (in this case, wedges), things immediately started to go wrong. The platoon of Panthers with the Company HQ Panthers were all deployed on the left wing and they immediately drove into a camouflaged minefield. Three of seven were lost: . The StuGs were on the right wing and one of them set off some mines but luckily it wasn’t damaged. The Panthers destroyed by mines was a direct parallel to history…General Otto von Knobelsdorff’s 10 Panzer Brigade (‘Brigade Decker’) were all Panthers and 36 of the 200 were lost to a minefield as they left the town Butovo for Cherkasskoye that morning.

With the Russians well aware that the Germans  were advancing, they brought out their artillery: with the ZIS-3’s on the left flank, directly opposite the Panthers, letting fly with anti-armour shells and knocking out a fourth Panther: . Since I’d spent the turn moving at full speed I couldn’t fire back, which meant it was time for me to face a Morale Check. This was going to be hard as my Company HQ Panthers were both destroyed and they are very important in maintaining Company Morale! I fully expected the roll to be low and the game to be over here at Turn One. In an amazing dice roll my Morale for the Panther Platoon was low causing the surviving three vehicles were going to retreat, but the Company Morale was very high so amazingly my advance could continue!

TURN TWO: The Germans slowed or stopped completely and used Area Fire on as many Russian guns as they could target. Half were destroyed: .

TURN THREE: My Tiger Platoon HQ vehicle was tracked by the Soviets:  but more were chewed up by the Tigers’ 88mm guns which enjoyed deadly accuracy: . A StuG was hit and lost its main gun, but it could still be important in helping seize the objective…it had armour and an LMG so it was ordered to continue its advance.

TURN FOUR: All AFVs moved off at full speed – they had to. They weren’t going to reach their objective, the first house in the town closest to the road, if they did not: . The guns on the left flank let fly at the Tigers and hit but fail to penetrate.

TURN FIVE: The Germans remained moving at full speed: . A Tiger was Shaken by 75mm fire…over on the right, the previously damaged StuG was hit hard and its crew bailed out. This forced a Morale Check – I rolled a 5 and all the StuGs were Shaken for 5 turns. Damnit! They could fire but wouldn’t advance.

TURN SIX: A Tiger was knocked out by some of the surviving 75mm guns:  One was destroyed in reply.

TURN SEVEN: A Tiger sacrificed its advance to swivel and target the field guns. In concert with the StuGs, all remaining Soviet artillery was wiped out. The Russians fall silent!

More importantly, Peter and I had completed Turn Seven and the game was still going! We couldn’t recall this happening before. A truly remarkable night’s gaming!

TURN EIGHT: The advance could now continue and the objective was clearly in sight: . Smoke is laid down on the thickets close to the road & the objective in case there are some remaining small AT guns or PTRD anti-tank rifles. The two fully operational Tigers advance but, as they reached the edge of the fields, Soviet infantry with Molotovs leap out of concealed foxholes and lob their missiles at the Tigers’ engine decks: . They aim was average – one lands on one Tiger’s engine deck but doesn’t stall it’s engine.

TURN NINE: The Tigers have to push past the infantry or they won’t reach the objective in time – risky but I had to press forwards at all costs. A second Molotov landed on the same Tiger that was hit before. This time Peter rolled well and the engine stalled – another Tiger out of action. My three Shaken StuGs, still one turn away from changing status, joined in Area Fire laid down by the HQ Tiger upon the Eastern flank Molotov teams, killing some and forcing the remainder to surrender to the closest StuG.

TURN TEN: The last Tiger, racing for the objective, was set on fire by a Molotov: .

TURN ELEVEN: More Molotovs land on it and it’s engine fails:  All Tigers are immobilised and I only have a few StuGs remaining. Morale fails – it’s the end of the game. If that fourth Tiger hadn’t been immobilised, it would have reached the objective in two more turns:  …so close and yet so far. Peter reminded me that although it may have got to the objective, the objective had to be secured…and he had troops defending it. Here’s another photo of the death of the last “big cat”:  .

CONCLUSION Peter had deployed all his forces very historically, placing two very large and thick minefields forward and on my flanks to force me to go straight down the middle of the board. This meant I would then have to run a gauntlet of his artillery.

I deployed my forces  historically and tried to get them into wedge formation, but the hurriedly-mounting immobilisations and losses never saw a perfect wedge for any platoon achieved.

Peter won the game but historically the Germans were eventually able to take Cherkasskoye late that afternoon.

The book I used as my source for planning the game and in assisting me writing this AAR was “Kursk 1943: the tide turns in the East” by Mark Healy, published by Osprey Publishing, Oxford, UK, 1993.

Here are my Panthers with their star aerials which were endorsed on the night:  .

Tonight at the Mitcham meeting of NWA, two colleagues whom have been assembling, painting and playing 20mm WWII wargames for far longer than myself both commented quite favourably on the star/umbrella aerials that I’d made for the Panthers. These colleagues are people whose opinions I value highly, so for them to admire my work not only confirms that the materials I chose for this second attempt at making star aerials was correct but also that they feel they are realistic enough…in effect, endorsing them.

I’m so proud!

I now don’t have to experiment any further – I’ve got the right-sozed materials and the right technique.

~~~

Peter and I had the best game yet of ‘Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist’ tonight. The scenario was part of the battle of Kursk.

A battle report / AAR will be coming in the next few days.

Panzerbefehlswagen Panthers

August 22, 2010

Back in March this year my Panthers rolled off the production line at Tankoberg and I gave you all a good look at them. I mentioned that aerials would have to wait until I had more supplies of brass wire.

Not only have I been able to obtain plenty of brass wire in the gauges I had previously used, I was able to get plenty in other gauges as well. For those that are interested, I use Detail Associates’ brass wire: . I had held off doing the Panthers’ aerials as I wanted more 0.022″ wire, which I have decided is my standard for aerials from now on (only using the 0.033″ to represent very thick aerials…some StuGs had them).

I had been able to buy 0.012″ and 0.015″ which meant I was able to try some thinner wire for star aerials/umbrella aerials, as I felt the last lot of star/umbrella aerials looked too thick, too heavy, too out of scale and thus totally unrealistic (well, totally unrealistic for my taste).

The last lot were also the first lot of star/umbrella  aerials…you can see them  on some Sd. Kfz. 234/2 Pumas on this link. I commenced assembling them on this link, you may want to read that first, and I completed them on this link.

Here are photos of the second lot, finished and in situ: .

What was different this time? As decided in those posts from last year, the main aerial is of 0.022″ thickness, and the prongs/ribs coming off the main aerial are 0.012″. Also, I used Zap’s Zap-a-gap Medium viscosity instead of the Flash Cyanoacrylate in Thick viscosity. The Flash thick cyanoacrylate made the join look far too oversized. They are still oversized, but I feel I’ve reached the limit, given the techniques and materials available to me.

Most importantly, I feel that I’ve reached the right balance of appearance with practicality/durability with this second attempt. I could have used even thinner wire, but in my opinion it wouldn’t be durable enough. Thinner wire would require some putty or plugging with bits of plastic or filling with extra glue as the drillbit I use to drill the aerial’s anchor hole into the vehicle is already the finest I have and the 0.022″ has plenty of space when it’s placed into that hole, so going even thinner seems silly. Also, when bumped the 0.022″ springs straight back into place whereas the 0.012″ stays bent and that means I have to spend time bending them back into paint and repainting paint that flakes off bent wire…so the practicality/durability combination seem to have been found for star aerials in 1/72 scale, as far as I’m concerned.

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.

…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.

Just before Christmas 2009 I sat down with the remaining large pieces of my sheet styrene supply and my trusty Olfa cutter and cut and shaped all the pieces I wanted to use in making my first wargaming river. I talked and showed you about it here. I then put that project aside while I busied myself with Revell Panthers and some other things. Having completed the Panthers on Thursday night (photos tomorrow) I was free again to tackle the river. I checked the weather report and it said we are in for 7 days of sun and a temperature of 29 degrees each day…in other words,  perfect conditions and I would be foolish to do something else and waste such an opportunity, especially as we are now in Autumn. I took the box that the river sections were in and prepared my work area. Here’s how my work are looked:

What you can see in that photo: caulk gun, Fuller’s Caulk in Colours, leftover sticks from Magnum icecreams, the aforementioned river sections cut from sheet styrene, two plastic jars filled with different grades of Woodland Scenics’ Talus, Woodland Scenics’ Modelling grass and lastly real pieces of sticks and twigs that I have collected. At this point I was ready to continue my learning and practicing of Nikolas Lloyd’s modelling tips, this lesson being in making rivers.

First, I squeezed the caulk onto the river section: . When you do this, the caulk will pull along a little as you squeeze it onto the section – meaning that if you commenced flush with the edge, it will get no longer be so at the end of application as it will have pulled off the edge in the direction you are squeezing and you’ll have to go back and add a little bit so that it is flush again. This became very annoying very quickly so I would commence squeezing over the edge of the river section and then lay it onto the section and along. This solved the need to go back. I may need to cut off the excess hanging off the edge, but that’s fine – you have to do this at the other end of the section anyway! So I wasted a little bit of caulk, but the amount is negligible and an ‘equal’ or ‘balanced’ section of river was made each time as a result.

Second, you need to flatten and shape the caulk. I did this using the wooden sticks from Magnum icecreams – they became my trowels. As you can see from the photo, the caulk comes out as a rounded tube shape and will stay like that unless you shape it. I’ve begun to flatten the sides down so they look like natural river banks or levee banks on the outer side of the river section. Something that you didn’t see in the first photo was a roll of paper towelling. This was necessary to wipe excess caulk from my wooden icecream stick-trowel.

This shaping and smoothing takes up the vast majority of the time spent on the project as a whole. You don’t want the banks to look unnatural and you also don’t want ‘holes’ or ‘pockets’ being exposed in the caulk bank as you shape it. I went back and corrected areas many times. I’ll give you a warning now…this part of making rivers is not easily completed! Don’t start, thinking that you’ll have it done in an hour! More about this later.

Here I’ve finished shaping and smooting: . Nikolas Lloyd then brushed caulk along the length of each section in order to create ripples and other detail effects on the river’s surface. I opted not to do this with caulk but will do it later with PVA glue, where I can use a brush that won’t end up clogged with caulk. I also don’t want the same amount of water surface detail that he does.

I added extra details to selected sections, just as Mr Lloyd did. Here I’ve added modelling grasses and talus to a section: . The grasses were cut in half to get a better size (in the packet they are about 4 inches long) and then securely and firmly stuck them into the wet caulk. I would then check their free-standing position and adjust any clumps that were not more or less vertical. This sometimes required pulling them back upwards a millimetre or two. I’ve also stuck some talus here, to represent where stones and pebbles are visible after erosion.

I needed some river crossing areas. I chose to make fords. Here’s one: . I’ve tried to represent where the river widens a little and is a little shallower, hence the muddy wheel tracks and wheel ruts showing where everyone else has succesfully forded the river. I’m happy with this and especially the effects I got in shaping the caulk, but paint will really help in conveying water depth and so on and complete the picture in my (and hopefully anyone else’s) mind’s eye.

At the end of the session, all river sections were completed: as was a swampy section of river, a seperate free-standing swamp or bog and a lake!

I commenced at 3pm and finished at 7.30pm. I had a couple of five minute breaks, sure, but ultimately all this took four and a half hours. Most of that was spent shaping the caulk. Doing things like the talus and the grasses took very little time overall – probably 90% or more was spent in all the shaping, smoothing and adjusting of the caulk. A warning then to all of you – make sure you have a whole afternoon or a good few hours if you want to do this yourself! Also remember this – Mr Lloyd added all that extra caulk and shaped it to create water ripples and riffles – if I had also done that, maybe I would have needed another 2-3 hours?

Anyway, this caulk needs a full seven days to be fully cured – so it can sit on the spare table and enjoy this weeks’ Autumn warmth.

Panthers tomorrow.

Plastic Soldier Review reviewed Caeser’s WWII German Paratroopers (Fallschirmjäger) back on February 21.  Sorry that I didn’t mention it here sooner.

They are very favourably reviewed and you get to clearly see all the poses you get in the box. For me it would be perfect (as a wargamer) if a single radio operator was included, because they are a staple of command bases / unit HQ’s. Two of the good poses are troops actively using the FG42 assault rifle.

***

The seven Revell Panthers are done. I’m going to Dullcote them and put a photo or two here. I had hoped to secure brass wire to make antennas and star aerials for them by now but none has arrived, so I’ll do that later. I want them on ‘active duty’ for wargaming now!

Hob-e-tac and Panthers

February 20, 2010

I’ve commenced my next Hob-e-tac experiments a little early – last saturday I started a non-WWII project that is being done concurrently to my Panther tanks (like that’s not ever happened before!) and today I was up to the glueing stage.

Today is very warm (33.8 degrees centigrade as I’m typing this) so it was perfect for glueing. I applied to Hob-e-tac thickly to felt (and gave it almost two coats) and then left if for an hour (instead of the recommended 15 minutes). After the hour I applied flock and static grass and pressed them firmly into the Hob-e-tac with the heel of my hand.  Tomorrow afternoon (I’m giving it 24 hours to cure, as has ben done previously) I’ll be able to see how well the terrain materials adhered and if the glue is still tacky.

***

The camouflage for the Panthers was completed last weekend – dark green disruption stripes over DunkelGelb.

Now it’s up to the fiddly detail, which is probably why I’ve been procrastinating with these kits lately. Spare track links have been done today as were towing cables. The tools shouldn’t be much of a problem and the extra stowed items (tarps, barrels, jerry cans, buckets) should be pretty simple.

What I need to get right is the shadowing I do around hatches and the forward MG ball mount. I use Citadel’s Black Ink watered down to only 25% and with a fine brush (10/0 or 20/0) just put a thin line around hatches and joins in the metal to provide depth through shadowing. Usually I make mistakes and the ink spreads too much and I have to go back and redo the colours underneath. I should really just bite the bullet and do it all tonight and let it dry overnight so I can continue with the other easier detail all tomorrow.