Undercoating to final protective Dullcote varnishing took less than a year – booyah! It was April 2009 when I started. It was January 31 2010 when I finished. They look better than I thought they may, too! Have a look for yourselves:

Some detail of the anti-tank gun platoon commander and his gun: 

In “Panzerfaust: Armoured fist” I can have a platoon of three 7.5 cm Panzerabwehrkanone 40’s attached to an infantry company or I can purchase a platoon of four 7.5 cm Panzerabwehrkanone 40’s from a tank hunter battery. That’s why you see four bases of guns. Due to gun size, a crew of four is required. Now, in the Italeri box for this kit (#6096) you get six crew figures, so you are safely covered here. Mixing up the final pose (I only used one crew figure holding binoculars) means I have some sets of spare gunners for other projects.

I’m very happy with the way the camouflaged reversible winter parkas turned out. However, for when I do some Panzergrenadiers, I’ll do the Splinter camouflage pattern a little differently. I think that I have made the green patches/streaks too big on these figures. Have a look:

The Dark Green is the same size as the Dark Brown.

Now have a look at what Richard A. Underwood Militaria advertise. The Dark Green is half to one-third the size of the Dark Brown and are more like stretched hexagons rather than long streaks or long stripes. That is what I have to do for the Panzergrenadiers.

Some quick notes about the scenic effects for the guns that make them look like vignettes or dioramas: I used coarse turf in two colours instead of flock for the thick longer grass. I used Earth Blend flock for the churned-up ground where the crew are working. Woodland Scenics turf and flock are my ‘weapons of choice’.

I used real sticks / twigs found while walking or trout fishing for the logs that each gun is hiding behind.

A quick complaint about the PaK 40 guns themselves – their gun elevation is not 0 degrees or positive degrees – they are all pointing down slightly, their elevation is negative degrees. I suppose you could put some extra stuff under their wheels to raise each gun and get rid of this effect – I didn’t think of it until now – but it would’ve been nice if they had been made properly from the start. Still, for those who haven’t assembled and begun painting yet, you’ve got the chance to take my warning and correct this slight defect.

I commenced work on those Revell Panthers a couple of weekends back because I’d finished those three Hasegawa 251/9 ‘Stummels’ – they had just been sitting around on my hobby table waiting for me to stop running around so busily and take a couple of piccies of them. The one time I was ready to photograph them, the weather wasn’t – heavy rain pounded down all morning. My photos are all taken using morning sunlight, but in the shade and without flash. That way, the lighting and colouring looks as natural as possible. With pounding rain, the possibility of photographing the 251/9s was thwarted.

These are similar to the 234/3 ‘Stummel’ that I did two months ago – the 75mm L24, its gun laying mechanism & gun bed are all identical. Assembling the kit was very straightfoward. I elected not to put any crew figures in – the Italeri chap I put in with the 251/22 was a bit too big for the vehicle (ie. his scale was not 1/72…possibly 1/70) and I didn’t want the same odd look with these…but since I have a surplus of crew figures from the Hasegawa 234/2 Puma kits, I might use one of those figures in the future, as they are to scale with their vehicle.

How many more to do? The Panzerfaust army list for Panzergrenadier companies gives me a pair of 251/9’s as a heavy weapons cannon section for s standard company.  A Panzergrenadier heavy weapons company has a cannon company, comprised of three sections with each section having two 251/9s.

I’ve done my standard heavy weapons cannon section (numbered 241 & 242) and one of the heavy weapons company vehicles (numbered 251). Here  are 241 & 242:

Now all three: 

and here’s a view from above: .

If I was to go completely silly, I have five more to go. Only if I can get them on a big discount or at a swap & sell…

Now, some extra resources I found online for this project were:

  1. colour and b&w photos by The 9th Reenactment Society of their own ‘Stummel’,
  2. a walkaround with colour photographs of the 251/9 museum piece from the Deutsches Panzermuseum in  Munster on a site called “The Panzer Tank Walkaround or Panzer Photo Gallery” (there are other Panzers there to look at, too!); and lastly
  3. the same as #2. immediately above but taken by a different photographer. Also with more photos.

I really like the green cammo scheme on the Munster 251/9…I might try to use it on the Panthers when they are ready.

***

Through the superior firepower (well, superior CNC & milling tools of a colleague) I have been able to get an identical replacement part for the MAC Distribution Horch 108 (Kfz. 70) & 20mm Flak 30 that I shelved back in the first half of the year due to losing a critical piece of the gun bed. I have nearly finished assembly and will do a similar camouflage scheme but with Dark Angels Green instead of Goblin Green.

I figured with all these fumes from assembling 7 Panthers, what harm was one more kit going to do?

It’s not been easy to assemble, either (just like the first time). I’m not looking forward to working on the four MAC Horch 108 passenger cars I’ve got!

NEWSFLASH!

Caeser have finally released their second set of Panzergrenadiers but have also, completely from out of nowhere, released a set called WWII German Paratroopers!

The Paratroopers release has caught many in the hobby completely unawares! It’s code is  H068.

I’m going to wait this time before ordering – I want to see what Plastic Soldier Review have to say about them.

Even though it’s been spread over a week, it’s only taken about two hours to assemble a Jagdpanther. Now, the particular kit I’ve assembled is Revell kit #3152, “Jagdpanther & Deutsche Infantrie”. Although the box says that all the contents are 1:72 scale, the Jagdpanther is actually 1:76 scale. As Henk of Holland and On the Way! both state, many of these “Kombi-packs” of vehicles and soldiers contain 1:72 scale Revell soldiers but 1:76 scale Matchbox vehicles – kit #3152 being one of them.

I bought two of the Jagdpanther kombi-packs earlier this year and decided to buy two more, to make a platoon of four Jagdpanthers and also because I intend to use all the soldiers for a company of Panzergrenadiers. I decided to commence work on the Jagdpanthers now as a sort of flow-on from the most recent game of Panzerfaust: Iron Fist I played, so that rather than always playing early and mid War, Peter and I could play late War, when the Eastern Front reversed and moved back across Eastern Europe to Berlin.  I want to see those mighty tank destroyers up against some IS-2s.

Having undertaken my usual preparations of washing the sprues in hot water with some dishwashing liquid in it; thoroughly air-drying the sprues and finally undercoating them with Chaos Black, I began assembly and soon realised I was nearly done in only an hour. In fact, waiting for the glue to dry on the wheels was the longest part. Why?

Well, this kit has one-piece vinyl tracks. Yes, those old-fashioned, horrible soft vinyl tracks that harden and crack after a few years (less if left in the heat). Yes, they are too short to actually fit around the wheels of this kit (believe me, I tried). But if you can stand to put the vinyl tracks on and live with the gap by not trying to make the tracks into one loop (like I was forced to with Roden’s Opel Maultiers), then you get great track sag and quick assembly.

Anyway, it meant that last sunday I had to put all work on the first one on hold as I’d run out of Desert Yellow to begin working on it’s paint scheme!

It’s been a pleasant week, working on this kit. A lot of the detail is permanently fixed on the hull due to the mould, but it’s good detail and should paint up well. Tonight I was working through the Doug Chaltry track-painting technique. Tomorrow I commence work on more modular scenery (including working with another water product) and an AA vehicle!

On thursday night, Peter was hosting Jason M. from Far North Queensland and a longtime player (and playtester) of Panzerfaust: Iron Fist. Naturally, a game was going to be played. Jason and I agreed to lead a company of Germans in an Encounter scenario against two companies of Russians. The German forces were as follows:

  1. Platoon (4 vehicles) StuG III G
  2. Platoon (4) Marder III(h)
  3. Platoon of Panzer Grenadiers with early Panzerfausts, in 4 Steyr 1500A heavy cars
  4. Single Sd.Kfz 251/17 AA vehicle

The Russians had:

  • Company (5 vehicles) KV 1, 1942 edition
  • Company (7) T-34/76, 1941 edition with 2 platoons of Infantry with SMGs and a MG Platoon in GAZ-AAAs.

The year was 1943 and the objective was to take the small ridge on the big hill in the centre of the table. Here’s the table:

Adding in some weather effects, Gale force winds were rolled for, heading South East. Those two rolls for winds wiped out the possibility of Germans relying on smoke shells and smoke launchers!

TURN 1: Both armies advanced toward the objective, the Germans trying to get the Marders there first, as their guns would tear apart any Russian armour. Peter’s KV1 company was placed in a corner and could see the Steyr 1500As through a thin firing alley. Those that could let fly with direct area fire. The direction of travel for the Steyrs was my decision and already my tactics were looking poorly conceived. Miraculously, none of the Steyrs was hit.

TURN 2: Stupidly I decided to abandon my plan of directing the Steyrs and the 251/17 forward to cover one end of the hill, and instead turned them left toward the security of the nearby forest. I also decided to have the StuGs turn right and deal with the KVs, while Jason would best place the Marders forward. The KVs could still see the Steyrs and 251/17 and chose to keep firing at them, even though they could now also see Marders. Out came all the measuring tapes to judge ranges and lines-of-sight.

Peter rolled to hit. The results of his rolling technically ended the game there, as the direct area fire of the KVs blew up my Company HQ in their fleeing Steyr, even though the other vehicles were unscathed. For Jason’s benefit, this outcome was changed – another Steyr was destroyed instead. They passed their Morale check but the only way for them to be safe was to continue to retreat into the forest – a retreat without a Retreat from a failed Morale test. *Sigh*.

TURN 3:Jason’s tactical synapses were busily snatching back victory while my synapses floundered. With 6 pips to use for actions this turn, we could reposition all our armour as we wished. Still, the Russians destroyed the final infantry Steyr causing a further Morale check. Jason ‘tracked’ a KV and got it out of the game but lost a Marder in the process. The StuGs hit the KVs but didn’t penetrate the heavy front armour of the KVs.

TURN 4: The T-34s and the infantry had gained a toehold on the hill and now moved to secure the objective. Jason and I elected not to move our forces much and concentrate on knocking out the KVs. Fire was exchanged but to no effect.

TURN 5: It was now past midnight and effectively the end of the game, so Peter sent his Russians over the hill and a few around its side. My StuGs ‘tracked’ two KVs, one being a Platoon Commander. Jason’s Marder that had reached the objective was in trouble. Red infantry was almost on it and so they let rip. Now, the Marder III(h) had an open rear, so it’s crew only gets Soft cover versus infantry fire, the infantry also gaining +4 for shotting from behind. That Marder died and another two ended up Stunned for 5 turns. The last one, whom had been in support of the others, used direct area fire to kill four infantry bases – the other two infantry bases now surrendered to that Marder. The flanking T-34s and my flanking StuG had no real effect on each other. End of game – the Russian T-34’s held the objective and far outnumbered the Germans.

Only a five turn game? Many of the games I’ve played with Peter have gone to twelve, and most games should go for at least ten. On reflection, I should have kept pushing the Steyrs to their original destination. My decision, made during panic, to instead hide in the forest got a lot of men killed and prematurely ended the game. Nothing kills like bad decisions.

Terrain, Tigers and troops

September 29, 2008

Today was both invigorating and fulfilling, as I was able to get a lot of things done and commence a new project entirely.

  • My work on the Tigers continued, with the Doug Chaltry track technique rolling on – doing highlighting of the bare metal using Boltgun Metal.
  • The panzerfaust-wielders’ bases came another step closer to completion and use in-game.
  • A lot of collected research, kit assembly instructions and helpful photos was arranged, put into clear plastic sleeves, sleeves put into a large folder and the folder stashed in the Hobby Room for immediate consultation.

This is in fact becoming bit of a conundrum…I have some shelves of history books and wargaming books in the Study (as well as information stored on my PC hard drive), but also need reference materials in the Hobby Room. The Hobby Room is already crowded and room for more shelves in there is not going to eventuate, so I’m trying to think of other ways to keep the vital stuff at hand.

  • I also prepared and undercoated some 15mm figures for another (non-WW2) wargame. They take Citadel paints very well and will be worked on while I press on through all the shorter stages of painting or assembly of the Panzerfaust: Iron fist miniatures (such as the multi-stage track painting).

The reason for the invigoration mentioned at the start of this post is due to starting something I’ve read about four years ago and have been meaning to do ever since – making wargaming terrain using acrylic sealant caulk. When I started casual reference work, I came across Nikolas Lloyd’s excellent website whilst searching for wargaming information and he made an excellent, persuasive case for using caulk for making your own terrain. At that time, I’d been wanting to make my own rivers and roads because a local supplier of excellent wargaming roads and rivers (made using rubber) had shut up shop. Mr Lloyd’s article was something I kept reading over and over and worked towards commencing, collecting bits and pieces here and there, up to a point in February this year when I made a test run with my collected materials to see if I could replicate his results. I was successful, but being a wargamer, was distracted with other wargaming modelling until now.

I had previously cut a shape from my supply of sheet styrene for a pond. I decided today to try making it, using Mr Lloyd’s methods and techniques. This was to be a pond suitable for a village pond or a duckpond. In the future, I want to try a lake and a set of swamps.

With the styrene shape, Fuller’s Caulk in Colours, a caulking gun, some wooden ice-cream sticks to shape the caulk and a boxtop to rest the shape on , I began.

Step One was to lay down the first layer of caulk, to get an idea of how much I would need in order to form a good bank / pond edge:

It was pretty obvious that to make a clearly distinguishable pond bank, I would need another layer, so Step Two was to apply a second layer inside the first:

The second layer seemed to be enough, so I put down the caulk gun and picked up an ice-cream stick and began to shape and smooth the outside of the caulk:

Mr Lloyd said that once out of the tube and beginning to be worked, that this acrylic caulk would be very soft and wet…he was correct, I found. Next time, I’ll let it set a little – maybe leave it alone for 15 minutes or so before shaping it. You can see that I haven’t shaped the inside yet: . This is because it needs a steep bank, so it had to be shaped using a new ice-cream stick, using different shaping motions and on different angles.

The end result is this: and now I need to leave it for a whole week before fixing it up or correcting errors, then undercoating, applying water and final paint. I dare not even touch it to see if it’s drying/hardening, as when I did that during my test run earlier in the year, I left quite big finger marks in the caulk that couldn’t be undone.

The bases of teams with panzerfausts for that Infantry company are now up to the basing and flocking stage. I spent a fair bit of time and inconclusive researching trying to determine what was the factory colour for panzerfausts. The photo evidence of panzerfausts delivered by the Wehrmacht but unused showed them to either be a green that I had not previously sighted anywhere in use, or a sort of off-white / beige. I decided to select Citadel’s Cammo Green for my panzerfausts, feeling that it was distinct enough and not wanting to try to make a blend to match a colour photo taken with a weak flash in a dark room. So, my panzerfaust teams will look like this:

That’s good enough.

The first of my StuG III’s by Italeri have come off the assembly line and are complete.

I’m doing some minor kitbashing to modify and enhance them.  Have a look at this photo:

On the back, I used leftover parts from the Roden Opel Maultiers and Opel Blitzes to make an equipment frame for the crew’s gear. This was a common field modification and some were even added in the factory. Panzer Grenadiers also found them useful as handholds when riding on the back. They were simple bits of metal welded into a crude frame.

Using leftover brass wire from the ACE PaK 38’s and my fine hand screwdriver, I added the aerial. I also wanted the vehicle to look battle-hardened, so I used my scalpels and files to remove the first plate of the left-hand-side schurzen. Schurzen plates were often lost from enemy fire or were snagged and ripped off when moving through rough scrub and rough terrain.

Lastly, I didn’t want this vehicle to have an autumn of spring look (mud everywhere), so I went for a high summer look and liberally coated it with dust. The effect is quite good. Careful observers will notice I painted in some sides of the track links being used as extra armour…again, another field modification by some crews.

I like this Italeri kit. Yes, it’s been simplified and doesn’t allow much modification but turns into a fine kit with a little extra work and love.

Inspecting the troops

August 13, 2008

In an earlier post, I expressed my interest in a new 1/72 scale set by Caeser Miniatures, WW2 German Panzergrenadiers set 1. Clicking on the link shows you the box art as well as a photo of the poses included.

I ordered two boxes of these figures and have had a good look at them since they have arrived. Here are my thoughts about them, both as miniatures in general and as miniatures for wargaming.

This set of figures is usable and workable with fairly good sculpting. I have very little exposure to their other figures, apart from what I’ve seen and read over at Plastic Soldier Review. I have bought and used Caesar’s now-discontinued WW2 German Infantry in Winter Gear, and consider that a superior set to this.

There are three things that I feel could have been re-done with this set. Firstly, the rifles in this kit are thin. Very thin. I found a number of them were bent, probably incurred during transit. They may be a little more realistic in dimensions to those from the Winter Gear set, but I think in the moulding something has been lost…at this scale, I think figures need slight exaggeration so that what they represent is clearly grasped, especially from a distance. I think that I’ll find painting these rifles much harder than those carried by the Winter Gear set!

Secondly, some of the poses have extra flashing/moulding that cannot be removed, and was not present in the Winter Gear set. The soldier standing and firing his MP-40 from the shoulder has extra moulding approximately 2mm thick between his gun and his arm – in the “crook” of his arm. The soldier stalking forward with his MP-40 has the same excess plastic. A shame, because this wasn’t present in the Winter Gear set. The space was empty between their arm and their weapon, so you could slide a toothpick or paintbrush between them. With this set, you’ve got this extra stuff just sitting there, looking a bit unnatural. This extra plastic is going to have to be somehow “hidden” by painting – perhaps painting the excess plastic with black…. This may be a moulding limitation, but I’m not sure why it would be if they were able to avoid this in a previous set.

Thirdly, everyone is wearing the same type of boots – and they seem to be mid-thigh boots. I thought that by that time (1943-1945) they were wearing ankle-high boots with gaiters?

Let me discuss the poses – you can see these in the photo over at Caeser Miniatures’ Australian website (use the first link in this article). There are 12 of them. Of the twelve, only 3 are firing a weapon. Two are throwing grenades. Discount one who is an Officer commanding his troops – that leaves 6 whom are doing something else.

The chap kneeling and waiting with his MP-40 (maybe in ambush?) is for me the highlight figure of the whole set. It’s a very natural pose and very useful for wargaming.
The chap mentioned earlier, stalking forward with his MP-40, is almost the same pose from a figure in the Winter Gear set. Well done, but not too original…some sort of variation in stance – perhaps running rather than walking but still with his gun in a similar position would have been nicer? Pressing forward the advantage?
The chap kneeling and waiting with his rifle is well done – another natural pose and another useful one for wargaming, rather than someone running forward with a rifle.
The officer is holding an MP-40, wearing a helmet and pointing forward and upward – in a general sort of direction. Perhaps he’s bellowing out someone about which direction the enemy is in? I think this sort of pose is much more useful than the older / more traditional one where the officer is looking through his binoculars, or just holding a pistol.
There are two grenade-throwing poses. One is carrying his rifle in his other hand and is using it as a counterweight as he throws his grenade. This is a pose that we’ve seen before, but it’s nicely done here. The other looks as if he has just pulled the primer – he hasn’t brought his throwing arm back yet and his other hand is empty. Of the 3 copies of this pose in one box, the grenade warheads had broken off in transit – a shame. Why a shame? Because the grenades here are certainly more to scale than in the Winter Gear set which I felt were over-exaggerated. Perhaps the pendulum has swung too far to the other side and now they are too flimsy?
There are two firing their rifles – one standing, one kneeling. While they look fine, they don’t look too worried about any return fire – perhaps they are at a firing range? They look too casual. They aren’t even leaning forward on their left foot as they shoot, which would provide more balance – the ESCI/Italeri German Infantry figure is better and more realistic in that regard.

The chap firing his MP-40 from the shoulder (mentioned earlier) IS leaning forward on his front foot – which makes me wonder which pose was done first and why was consistency forgotten?
There is a chap holding an MP-40, slightly crouching (or at least he’s partially bent his knees) and looking to the side, as if he’s listening to instructions and then will race off to carry them out. Another good, natural pose – but not useful enough to warrant 4 of them, in my opinion. Still, better than just standing and holding is MP-40 in a forgettable or non-combat way.
The second-last pose to mention is a chap holding his rifle diagonally across his chest while his attention is focussed on something else. I recall this sort of pose, but rendered as if the troops held their rifles like that while they ran or jogged forward into battle. (Maybe they were US Infantry by Airfix? Russian Infantry by Airfix?) I think that for a set like this, where the troops were fighting desperately, that he could have been doing something different.
The last chap is holding his rifle horizontally across his waist while he looks to the left. Natural, and more useful than the previous pose.

All seem to have the exact same kit (breadbag, entrenching tool etc.) and overall the sculpting is of good quality.

Something that struck me about this set after thirty minutes of examining them is that no-one is carrying or using: MG-34/42s, Panzerfausts, flamethrowers, radios or anything else. Perhaps they will surface in Panzergrenadiers Set 2? They are sorely needed for this set of troops and time-period…

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.

A Taiwanese vendor whom sold me those wonderful Caeser WW2 Germans in Winter Gear has alerted me (as he does regularly via e-mail, a wonderful little idea to keep him in my mind), to the fact that Caeser now have for sale product H52, WWII German Panzergrenadiers set 1! Great!

On the drawing board and modelling benchtop, I’ve been crunching the numbers of figures I currently have, in order to begin an assault on purchasing and painting up company B, Panzergrenadiers (1943-1945). I need less figures for them, as their sections were only 8 in strength, not 10. I had been counting all the Revell WW2 German Infantry Ardennes that I’ve acquired (8 boxes worth!) and could do it, but the bases of soldiers will look mightily uniform…not good. The same set poses over and over. Dull. This Caeser release will provide a heap of diversity and depth.

Ah, but to purchase now, or wait until product 53, WWII German Panzergrenadiers set 2, is released???