Now it’s time to seal the hills. If these were troops or vehicles, I’d be sealing them (to protect the paintwork) with Testors Dullcote. I seal hills with Woodland Scenics spray-on/brush-on Scenic Cement as it glues the flock from the top side, meaning that at the end of the process it’s glued from below and above and will only come off under physical duress.

I prepare the spraying area. In the past, I put newspaper on the floor and walls of a corner of a room and sprayed. Now I’m doing it in the garden shed. I get my cardboard box shield and it’s removable cardboard floor: and place newspaper on the removable floor to absorb any overspray or runoff: then put the fllor into place and place the hills in position: . I use a cheap garden sprayer/mister with 500ml reservoir as they are available in hardware shops and supermarkets – either I pour the Scenic Cement into the reservoir (usually when the Scenic Cement bottle level is low) or put the sprayer mechanism directly onto the Scenic Cement bottle (when the level is high, as is here -a brand-new, unopened bottle).Spray from the front, the sides and very lightly from the top: then take out the cardboard floor, rotate it 180 degrees, put it in place and spray from the front. Then leave the hills to dry (I always wait 24 hours). Be sure to carefully wash out your sprayer/mister, otherwise the glue will harden and interfere with the mechanism. I rinse it out and spray clean water through it twice. Even so, glue will still ruin it in time (over a few years of annual use, so hence the need to buy cheap sprayers/misters.

Next day, have a look at your finished products! . I’m very happy with how the SeeNiks Earth Blend flock turned out – it looks like this: . I think it looks fantastic, far better than the Woodland Scenics Earth Blend which contrasts too much with green flock. This SeeNiks flock also is a bit grittier…there are cut fibres and large flakes of sawdust in there, that make it look more like broken ground that’s dry than the “polished mud” appearance of Woodland Scenics’ product.

Your hills are now complete. Remove all the posterboard pins from underneath and store your hills or get a game on with them. Here are some photos of the hills with my Tiger Is:    . Just a quick check that the hills are taller than the tanks, thus completely blocking LOS when everyone’s at ground level : – they sure are.

 

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The IPMS Swap & Sell yesterday was quite an event. I was there at 9.05am, 55 minutes before opening at 10am, and there were already 50-80 people ahead of me. By 10am, the queue stretched the length of the building. Here’s a photo as I went up the escalator of the queue BEHIND me:  – you can see it stretching all the way under that roof up to the bright daylight in the distance. How many people is that lined up? 500? 800? I don’t know. But I’m glad I got there when I did and will be there earlier next year.

I already mentioned part of my wish list last post. I think Santa must have been listening:

  • 2 x Revell Panzer III – platoon completed!
  • 2 x Revell Panzer IV – platoon completed!
  • 1 x Dragon 251/2 D – The 251/2 by Dragon can be built as a 251/1, so that’s a platoon completed! Also, it’s technically not a 215/2 – the 251/2 had a mortar replacing the front MG. This vehicle is actually a Sd.Kfz.251/1 Ausf. D mit 28cm Wurfrahmen.
  • 4 x Revell Panzer VI – a platoon in one purchase! Sure, they are slightly different models of vehicle, but who cares? Many of the earlier ones with air cleaners on the back never went to the Afrika Korps.
  • 1 x Dragon 251/7 mit 2.8cm sPzB 41 – an engineering vehicle with a meaty gun; will be fun for Late War reconnaissance games where it can join the one I bought back in March.
  • 1 x ICM Sd.Kfz 222 & 1 x ICM Sd. Kfz 223 – a full reconnaissance platoon completed!
  • 2 x Revell Tiger II – half a second platoon started.
  • 1 x Revell Ju 87 D – all I needed for the air warfare component of the rules.

15 kits for $226…that’s $16 a kit if I add in petrol money and entrance fee. Now to find some time to assemble and paint them, and who to start with first? Decisions, decisions…probably the halftracks…

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:  .

It was a big Sunday

June 29, 2009

The brewed-up T-34/85 wreck terrain piece is done! Here’s the base that it rests on: T3485 modular base

Here’s the inked, drybrushed and matt-varnish-sealed piece that you’ve all been waiting for: T3485 profile T3485 side

From the above, you’ve now had a good look at the home-made Rust blend that I made, combining Blood Red with Brazen Brass and the Brown Ink (R.I.P.). It doesn’t look so powerful here, because I’ve gone and applied two very heavy washes over it of the new Citadel pre-mixed Wash (or watered-down Inks, curse it), Ogryn Flesh. I should have just used one medium coat of Ogryn Flesh – you can see the Rust has become very brown from the washes. The Ogryn Flesh Wash has helped to take the shiny Bronze edge off the Brass particles, though…I’m tempted to keep this homemade Rust to use for mufflers and the like, where they recommend using a Rust – usually I’ve just used Boltgun Metal washed twice with Flesh Ink (R.I.P.). Have a look at the rear of the T-34/85: T3485 rear I think the rust on those mufflers has worked well.

I remember now where the idea for this terrain piece first came from – I was watching another wargame rules-set being played at NWA one night, where a good friend was learning to play. The objective for both sides was to reach a tank in the middle of the board (an ‘objective marker’). I have blended that idea with photo evidence from various ‘eyewitness’ books of the Eastern Front, where wrecked tanks were used as forward Artillery Observation Posts (because they were safe to be under when you were being shelled).

So, the terrain piece is done, as well as the two Revell Tiger I’s that were done as company command vehicles. Apart from having slightly different numbers on the side, an extra aerial added on the turret and MGs mounted for air defence, they aren’t any different to the four Tigers I’ve already got. This time they are perfect, since I knew what to watch for during construction. The one error I made (and was fixed) was discovered just as I was about to varnish them –  I realised I’d left the Balkenkreusz off both tanks. That set me back two hours.  The numbering advice I’ve used comes from here.

Hills! Yes, more terrain.

I was able to undercoat the two hills you’d seen me prepare previously. First, you need to get some pinboard tacks, ones that don’t go all the way in to the end: Before tacks

Begin to stick the tacks in, about an inch apart from each other and at least half an inch (or more if your hill has a gentle gradient) apart: mid tack I advocate using as many tacks as possible, as some always come out during undercoating or flocking: end tack

If your hills aren’t standing completely free of the surface they rest on, get better tacks and start again: resting

Now you can begin undercoating. I’m using good old Brown Kayak acrylic from Haymes, painting from the top of the hill downwards: begin undercoat You don’t have to apply it thickly, but you do want to completely cover everything: undercoat continued and it’s best to undercoat while holding them in one hand. When you’ve completely covered all the white, put it down and let dry for 24 hours: undercoated

Tonight (monday night) I applied on a second undercoat. This time I applied it quite thickly, but again, I made sure I covered everything – sometimes little air pockets are formed as you apply the first coat and they will be uncovered during the drying – get the brush bristles in there and paint them in well.

Sometime next weekend I’ll begin the flocking.

I also washed a number of sprues in detergent and very warm water, then air dried  them. I use an old coat-hanger, cut and reshaped, to hang them on: drying washed sprues

Next weekend (earlier if there’s a good, warm afternoon) I’ll undercoat them – then all these recon units can be commenced.

Successful Swap & Sell

June 13, 2009

Last weekend was Model Expo 2009. I was going to enter some of my Germans in the Wargaming Army competition but have pushed those plans back to next year. I did attend the Swap & Sell, which I’ve done four times.

I was able to purchase two ICM kits (as well as a fair few other things!) which will be interesting to assemble. Here’s a link to ICM’s web site.

I had been contemplating buying some of their kits to begin a Reconaissance Platoon, with SdKfz 222s. Well, I was fortunate enough to be able to buy one of ICM72411 Sd.Kfz.222 WWII German light armored vehicle.

I also purchased one of   ICM72451 Krupp L2H143 Kfz.70 WWII German light truck.

I would have purchased more of each if I could, but one of each was all that was available. Once I’ve got these Tigers finished, then I’ll be moving on to these kits.

***

Oh, and as for Bing trumping Google in useage last week? Well, with all the heavy advertising across every last web page Microsoft has influence over, why wouldn’t it do so for a week? People will try it out for a short while. It’s whether they stay with it. I certainly am not.

While working on the Command Tigers and that SdKfz 7/1, I began working on some more terrain – another piece of terrain impassable to vehicles (but not to foot troops).

Regular readers will recall that I used tracks from the Eastern Express T-34/85 kit for the tracks on the SdKfz 7/1. That left me with a T-3485 with no tracks.

So, I went ahead and assembled it on the side (and a horrible kit it was, even if much of it was easy – the hull top didn’t fit the hull bottom and the same problem occurred in assembling the turret. Lots of filing, glue and putty were used to correct these defects.

I then applied battle damage to the finished model – and glued it to sheet styrene. This will become a destroyed vehicle or representative of destroyed vehicles – a useful terrain piece to block roads or intersections in towns.

So far, it’s looking good! Photos to come.

Back to Tigers

May 24, 2009

As I got closer to finishing the SdKfz 7/1, I commenced work on two command Tigers. They are the same Revell kit as before, except this time I had plenty of experience in assembling them (and knowing where to stop and do steps in a different order, as well as drill out the holes ahead of time) to draw upon.

This time, the track sag is a lot better…it looks a bit more natural then the previous four, where everything felt too angular. Instead of straight lines and sharp angles, the result was closer to a lazy curve, which is what I wanted.

The Doug Chaltry Technique was completed pretty quickly…I had two evening shifts the previous week and we had some warm weather too, so all those ink coats were done two each day rather than singly. I’d like to mention that the Eastern Express tracks that I used on the SdKfz 7/1 took the Doug Chaltry Technique wonderfully – so much so that if I see any more cheap at Swap-n-Sells, I’ll be buying them just to keep the tracks for when I have vinyl tracks to replace! (Yes, I do have kits yet to do with vinyl tracks, so stay tuned).

I don’t have star aerials to put on these two tanks. A colleague and fellow member of NWA has star aerials on his command vehicles and they look fantastic. I don’t have any and can’t think of any way to effectively kitbash them at this scale…I’d welcome advice if you, good readers, do. I’m just going to give them a second shorter aerial mounted through the roof of the turret.

Speaking of Nunawading Wargames Association, we had one of our two annual Sale Nights on Friday. I picked up (after cleaning and assessing them today): 50-odd conifers in 6mm-15mm scale, which will be perfect for my 15mm other wargaming interest; 10 conifers that will be ok for 1:72/1:76 and eight ready-made plastic kit trees. I’m not sure if they are Woodland Scenics Tree Armatures or an imitation. Either way, they are certainly very old and have been exposed to a lot of heat over their lifetimes, as the plastic has become pretty brittle and I snapped off lots of finer twigs and branches just trying to clean them up and get them ready for undercoating. There are enough major boughs and sturdy branches to proceed – I threw away the trees that didn’t survive the cleaning process.

The tree kits we perhaps the best buy of the night (for me), as now I have an excuse to make some trees in Autumn colours. I’ll probably go with Woodland Scenics for them, although if I can be impressed enough by Heki then I may explore that path just for this project. If my experimenting is successful, then I may decide to do more Autumn trees…

First game for 2009

April 11, 2009

A fortnight back, Peter and I went to NWA for a game of Panzerfaust: Iron Fist. Here’s what happened:

First thing was to set up a map for an Encounter scenario. The map agreed upon was thus: map-for-march-2009

Just a road with some hills, copses, a burnt-out forest (impassible terrain for vehicles – see earlier posts for its construction) some thickets and good grassland. A roll of the dice resulted in there being No Wind for the duration of the game. I asked that we play lengthways, rather than the traditional widthways. Since I was fielding Jagdpanthers, Peter agreed to this…even so, there was some concern that it might take too many rounds before enough tanks were in effective range to decide the outcome of the game.

I was playing with 5345 Points Value (much higher than normal) – 4 Jagdpanthers, 6 Tiger Is, 4 StuGs – that comprised one ad-hoc company. Peter had three tank companies.

TURN ONE: The objective was to reach the exact centre of the board.

Peter reckons he’s stumped about deployment, but I’m not. Any plan is better than no plan! My Tigers will take the left flank, the Jagdpanthers the copse on the right flank, and the StuGs will hold the middle (but just hold it…they can’t expect to kill much).

The StuGs and Jagdpanthers advanced to or through woods, depending on their proximity to same  jagdpanthers-using-terrain-1. The Tigers stayed in the woods and opened fire on the IS-2s that appeared opposite them. There was one hit but it bounced off an IS-2 hull.

TURN TWO: I continued to cautiously move the StuGs and Jagdpanthers forward. Another Tiger scored a hit but to no effect. The Russians moved the bulk of their threatened IS-2s to hull-down positions while three returned fire, knocking out Tiger #22. death-of-a-tiger-2 I tested Morale – all OK.

TURN THREE: Now I aggressively pushed my StuGs and Jagdpanthers forward, trying to get them into optimum firing positions. stug-platoon-moving-to-position-2 The Tigers moved cautiously. A company of T-34-85s now made their presence known, emerging from behind a wood. The IS-2s hit a second Tiger, is2s-early-taking-apart-the-tigers destroying its main gun (the mighty 88mm). To protect his comrades, that Tiger laid down a smokescreen with his smoke launchers.

TURN FOUR: The Jagdpanthers finally reached their firing position, jagdpanthers-in-position-and-commencing-firing from where they could gain a little concealment and kill the ISU-152s opposite them. The StuGs knew they had to fire a smokescreen to block the LOS (line of sight) of the ISU-152s, so they swivelled and loaded smoke shells. The Tigers moved to a better position to try to deal with the superior IS-2s. An ISU-152 killed a StuG, but the remaining StuGs successfully laid down a smokescreen stugs-lay-a-smokescreen .

TURN FIVE: Battle was now truly joined. Both sides manouvered extensively, jockeying for position.

The ISU-152s and Jagdpanthers opened up on eachother, with one Jagdpanther lost for two knocked-out ISU-152s. A second Jagdpanther was tracked. isu152s-1 The Russian Morale Check was passed OK.

The StuG platoon command vehicle was immobilised. This was bad, but there was no need for me to test the whole platoon’s Morale, just that of the command vehicle itself.

TURN SIX: The Jagdpanthers swivelled to shoot up IS-2s and T-34-85s jagdpanthers-killing-isu152s. StuGs that could advance did so and the Tigers stayed obscured by trees while they advanced.

The Jagdpanthers then experienced a savage exchange – two more were lost, including the platoon command vehicle. I checked the survivors’ Morale – Shaken. I tested the whole Company – OK.

TURN SEVEN: With more IS-2s killed, the Tigers came back into the action. My lone Jagdpanther was Shaken – so he simply held his position and fired, since he was not being forced to flee or surrender. He killed a T-34-85 platoon command vehicle t34s-mid-war-taking-fire, and that platoon became Shaken. Trying to get revenge, the T-34-85s returned fire and hit the Jagdpanther, but to no effect.

The Stalins killed another Tiger, but I rolled a strong Morale check of 11 – Fine! I was still in the game!

TURN EIGHT: Where the T-34-85s failed in killing that lone operational Jagdpanther, the ISU-152s succeeded. russians-grinding-on-to-victory I tested my whole Company – a 9 – Fine. Then the IS-2s killed my Company Command Tiger – and that was the end of the game.

RESULTS Not only did the Russians put a lot of my vehicles out of action, they got closer to the objective than I did. I got to see the killing power of IS-2s, ISU-152s and Jagdpanthers in action…those Jagdpanthers are deadly, even at long range.

I was disappointed by my Tigers vs. those IS-2s…but this was a historical outcome, the Tiger was outclassed and outgunned by the IS-2, even the early IS-2s.

Tip for the game? Use my smokescreens earlier!

All photos are over at my Flickr account.

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.

So begins one of my summer terrain projects – making up lots of Russian roads for the Eastern Front.

This is following the techniques publicised by Mr Nikolas Lloyd, for whom I have great respect.

First of all, gather what’s needed: starting-tools

Sheet styrene; an Olfa cutting blade; measuring tape (not shown); caulk and caulk gun; some sprues of extra truck wheels, to inprint “realistic” tyre tracks in the surface.

Second, begin cutting the lengths and then the widths with the cutting blade: getting-road-widths-right-using-a-jagdpanther

I’ve used a Jagdpanther to get the widths correct. The roads around Leningrad during Operation Barbarossa seemed to be about 1.5 Tiger tanks wide, so making these roads about 1.5 Jagdpanthers wide should be fine.

Third, make sure what you want will fit in the carrying boxes – this is something you can easily forget about as it’s easy to get carried away while cutting/carving/shaping… can-it-fit

I’ve ensured the maximum length still has at least 1cm clearance for the smallest size box I use for carrying/storing terrain (pictured on left, with those unfinished Tigers living in them). I’ve also done three different length…while fixing up and shaping the sides later, I made a fourth length. Not everything will fit on the table.

I also made two different crossroads, two different t-intersections and two different curves/bends.

Now I need lots of caulk, so it’s time to put this aside for a day or two.