Tonight, the remainder of Company A was taken off their blackened film cannisters and packed away with all my other German forces. Photos will, of course, be shown here soon. But for now, I’m relaxing, comfortable in the knowledge that the next time I play Panzerfaust Iron Fist, a whole company of infantry (with all options) can take the field. That means 3 platoons of 11 bases each (each platoon is 9 bases plus 2 bases for platoon HQ), plus a company HQ base with 2 rifle bases and 2 LMG bases. Flocking, Dullcoting and annotating was trouble-free. I like the basing effect I get using the fine flock, coarse flock and then bushes…this time, I alternated bushes with small clumps of lichen that were carefully selected and cut.

The PaK 38’s are being feldgrau’d. I dropped the completed one by accident. It suffered minor damage, so I will have to craft, glue and then paint another wire hand grip on one of the struts. Since I’m discussing the PaKs, I’d like to also point out that I again fell foul of the instruction sheet, which I’ve griped about before. I stuck the gun mounting on too high! I’d been wondering why it looked so odd and didn’t quite match all the photos I’d found online of actual guns…I cut it off with a scalpel. Then, using a good file, filed it and the two others so that the whole mounting would fit on properly, liberally applied glue and stuck everything together. Saved, but once again, that instruction sheet could do with improvement – maybe a second diagram of the same stage, but from a different perspective and with arrows demonstrating how it’s meant to be joined to the rest of the trailer…anyway, others who wish to buy the same ACE kit – be warned.

The MMG teams are about to be commenced, along with some gun crews for the PaK38’s. Since I’m about to slave over painting another batch of troops, I decided to glue up, paint and base all the rest of my Pegasus mortar crews too.

I haven’t forgotten the Opel Maultiers…all things in time…I’m fighting the urge off to do the Tigers, and have sworn only to do them once those Maultiers are done.

Achtung! Marder!

April 9, 2008

The platoon is now finished. It took a long time, even allowing for excessively hot days and busy periods at work and home – but I wanted them to be as good as I could possibly make them. After all, hopefully I won’t have to do any more for a good while, so these ones have to be good enough to be played with and photographed for a good few years. Hopefully admired, too!

Here are some photos of the completed UM (UM Models) kit number 343, the Marder III Sd 138 WWII German self-propelled gun in 1/72 scale:

The other 3 Marder III h\'s

Unit 12

The platoon, units 11 - 15

You can go and see the rest over at my Flickr account.

Unit 12 was the best one to emerge out of the other three. The wavy camouflage pattern turned out very well, and I’ll use it again (albeit with a little less curve in it). The other camouflage patterns are very true to life…especially when you have a look at these two YouTube videos, where my wavy pattern is not so unlikely:

Real restored Marder III H in action Sheffield 2007

Real Restored German Marder III H in action!

One of the biggest delays was in the very fiddly work doing the spare track links. All those washes and drybrushing sessions to get them right…mercifully, I didn’t try to be too perfect with the kill markers. They are leaning a little, but only at close-range inspection.

The decals are acceptable, but with drybrushing a dust coat over the vehicles, the decal outline is somewhat visible. I’ll put up with that, as my hand is nowhere near steady enough to even attempt to do handpainted numerals Heer-style at that scale. Mike G can do it, but I can’t.

This friday, they’ll get their first workout, in an Attack/Defence game. There may be more photos of them “getting blooded”.

The 3-colour camouflage schemes on the remaining 3 Marder’s are done. Each is different, so all 4 have a slightly different scheme. The schemes all do the intended purpose, of breaking up the silhouette of the unit, or at least making it hard to clearly identified.

I used angled lines with some accompanying blobs, but the most successful was one using vertical wavy lines. This will be used in a different way with later units, especially any Panther tanks (I hope to have a whole abteilung of Panthers). Once these Marders are complete, you’ll see photos here. Making each scheme similar but still seperate was quite hard, when the purpose of that scheme is remembered. I would quite often hold up a Marder and look at it from different distances, asking myself “Will this make it harder to identify? Will it blend in with trees? Will it blend in when in rough terrain?” The vertical wavy-lined one certainly will. I also kept in my mind many of the colour plates from the books and materials I’ve gathered about the armies on the Eastern Front. I didn’t want to directly copy – I wanted originality, but a likely originality…

This week has been darned hot all day and much of the night all week long, which has slowed down all hobby work. Last night was the most successful of the whole week, where I turned my attention to all the smaller detail on the Marders (while taste-testing a Pale Ale) and also painting the boots of 3rd Platoon. A lot of Chaos Black at work last night. There are also some hills being made – they have had their two coats of paint, and now are ready for their first application of flock. Some will be given to Nunawading Wargames Association, the rest are for my own use, and are intended for use with Panzerfaust: Iron fist, so in time you may see them here.

Cheers from the factory floor

February 24, 2008

At last, the first Marder III (h) and Opel Blitz 4X2 are done.

Here’s the Marder:

Marder III (h)

and here’s the Opel Blitz: Opel Blitz

They both came out fairly well.

The camouflage scheme on the Marder was a lot of fun to do, and I hope fairly historically accurate. The darkness of each colour shows the technicals and crew had plenty of the new paint and spare petrol to play with in making and applying it.

The Marder turned out to be fairly straightforward to assemble, until it came to assembling the gun and turret. The gun was far more work than it should be, with elevation wheels that had to be individually glued on and pins that weren’t big enough to truly support the barrel on it’s frame. The turret is made of individual plates of armour (historically accurate) but they don’t necessarily sit well or fit well, and the instruction sheet is done from a difficult angle to really see how to accurately fit everything. With this model, the turret came out well. With the remainder (which have just finished gluing and polyfilling) the turrets are leaning on angles or look awkward. Also, the grille on the back has a tendency to lean, too. My suggestion to UM would be to make both the turret and the rear grille simpler to construct – less pieces. The grille is in 5 parts – it could be in 1. The turret is in 8 pieces – it could be in 6 or 4. The UM moulds are very good – I don’t think much detail would be lost.

The Opel Blitz was nerve-wracking during the first half of assembly and then fiddly but fun for the rest. My one gripe about it is that the tray didn’t sit flat on the back of the chassis – so it is leaning to the left and looks odd. Coupled with the front axle going the other way (so one wheel is well off the ground), it doesn’t look so great. But it paints up well, and includes GrossDeutschland symbol decals (which you can see on the door) which are two plusses. I’m now going to build an old ESCI kit of the exact same vehicle. It has only two sprues and lots of the individual parts from the Roden kit are premoulded together in the ESCI kit, so building it looks deceptively quick and easy. For example, the engine block is one piece for ESCI – about a dozen for Roden.

Some more notes: the Marder had decals for kill markers, which I tried applying near the muzzle brake and failed miserably. I painted them instead – it looks fine. The Opel Blitz had decals for the number plates – again, the attempted application went awry because the numberplate has the registration moulded on – so the decal can’t glue to the ridges and bumps! I just painted the registration on with a 20/0 brush. All failed decals went in the bin.

Anyway, now the other 3 Marders are about to get their paintjobs. I didn’t do any painting of the hull after painting the tracks like last time, so all the Desert Yellow will go on at once.

72 no. 710

As you can see, yesterday saw the completion of assembly of the Opel Blitz and the essential completion of the Marder III (all I have to do to the Marder III is paint the interior of the gun shield and the gun, then I can stick the roof on, paint the roof and touch up). This brings me to the painting stage, which should be straightforward.

I felt that assembly of that PST 1:72 BZ35 Refueller was a bit complicated and demanding – well, assembling the Roden Opel Blitz was much worse than that. Here’s a quick list of intricate frustrations:

  • Individual footpedals and the front numberplate had to be stuck on.
  • The frame attached to the chassis on which the carry tray rests was 4 individual strands, all requiring seperate glueing and resultingly meant that the tray didn’t rest on it equally.
  • A section under the cab, when placed on the chassis as per the instruction sheet, wouldn’t allow the cab to be glued onto the chassis!
  • Glueing the shovel and pick onto the mudguards.
  • Holes for attaching rearview mirrors, headlights and horn were absent or too shallow
    to allow these to be effectively stuck.

That’s enough for now.  Both the carry tray and wheels were nervewracking to glue on – and sure enough, they are all crooked 😦 So I’ll paint it now and see how that is – I’ve done the cab interior. I liked the way they did glass – it was thin plastic sheet that you cut out yourself. This allowed you to glue around and not in the frame, so you didn’t get glue dribbles on window panes. Nice! Building the ESCI version of the same vehicle will be illuminating. ESCI / Italeri are a good name, so it’ll be eye-opening.

As for the UM Marder III, I think I white-anted myself on that one. It wasn’t as hard as it seemed, but I will say that I think the instruction sheet could be clearer. Assembling the gun itself was scaring me, and it probably was the hardest part – but it was a little bit like swimming; you had to get wet first, then things got a bit easier. However, I feel that some parts don’t line up nicely with others – especially when building the armoured gun cab. That took a few reworkings and reglueings, and a few hard gulps of Cascade Pale Ale until I felt it was matching specifications (I was checking a book on Marders as I went, so had actual photos and drawings to compare with). I liked the individual track links and feel the detail was high. But where was part 58D? These are supports on the mudguards – I was missing a set. I’ll check the other kits and see if they are absent on all.

***

I’ve been working on two FAOs, with their horses. I did my first dappled grey. It looks better from a distance – the white spots blend into the grey more. I like these FAOs more – they seem more authentic…but in reality most FAOs worked from dugouts and foxholes, so I dunno. Wargaming is an abstract at the best of times, so reality when modelling for it always must be tempered by that truth.

Yay, 2nd Platoon are finished. As is the third mortar which functions as a small to medium power mortar.

More importantly, the two Sd.Kfz 251/1’s are done. These are ESCI kits that I bought pre-assembled (part of a deceased estate) and decided to test my vehicle painting skillz on, as I need to develop mad skillz.

Each of these ESCI kits comes with two crew: a bloke standing upright and clutching binoculars, and a bloke who mans the forward machine gun. I decided to utilise these guys as FAO’s – Forward Artillery Observers, whom are lucky enough to be motorised. I’ve provided a photo of the two vehicles together: Completed 251/1C’s, representing FAO’s .

The New Year finds me just finishing another two FAO’s, whom are classed as being on foot (even though I’ve depicted them with horses on their base); getting close to finishing the Opel Blitz and being about 2/3 of the way through the Marder III. The Marder is really complicated and intricate as a kit – perhaps too much so. The complete gun mechanism and all wheels and aiming devices must be glued onto it – so I’ve had to do some vehicle research to work out exactly what I’m meant to be doing! Yes, the instructions provided by UM (UM Model) aren’t so wonderful. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but right now I’d rather the 1000 words, even if the translation from Ukranian isn’t so good.

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day have both been pretty damn uncomfortable (in fact, damn stinking hot), so again work has slowed right down. With my telephone line causing frequent modem dropouts (3 times as I write this alone!) even researching and catching up with others and thier ideas and progress has been poor.

Where to from here? I want to get both the Marder III and the Opel Blitz finished. Then I can do the others in both of these vehicles more quickly. Once I’ve got those others underway, I’ll start on 3rd Platoon and the Company HQ bases, so that this company of infantry on foot are finished.

Yesterday, I washed and undercoated a set of sprues for one each of the UM Marder III H tankhunters and one of the Roden Opel Blitz trucks. Why only one for each? So that I can see what are the most effective ways to assemble and paint each one, in order to make the work on the rest as quick and simple as possible.

Both look like very nice models to make. I have an unassembled ESCI Opel Blitz kit too but I’m leaving that until last, so I can compare it to the Roden kit.

On Friday the captured BZ35 was varnished and completed. Photos of it are here and here. It’s the first time I’ve weathered a WW2 vehicle – I didn’t do it to my Russian KV I or II’s. The weathering involved slopping some brown ink around, doing the mud splatters as normal but then drybrushing on patches of dust. Since it’s my first time, I went conservatively with adding the dust, but overall I’m happy with the results. I’ll put more dust on an Russian-owned refueller, rather than a captured one ^_^

Platoons 2 & 3 have not laid about on the tabletop idly, either. Here is a comparison of the improved paint schemes (see my disappointment with Platoon 1 in a previous post). The differences between uniforms are evident here and here. Now the green in the normal uniform is more bold, so hopefully the distinctions between the two uniforms are even more evident. I’ll put up photos showing the final based, flocked and varnished versions for you to consider, though.

I’m doing up some FAO bases too. Scouts with horses. Neigh!

So, Company A Platoon I and some mortars are ready for their fist game of Panzerfaust: Iron Fist.

Here’s a distance photo.

Here’s detail – the difference in uniforms between the regular uniform and the winter mouse-grey suit aren’t so distinct. A shame, as initially I could detect the “greenness” of the regular uniform. Now that I have Platoons II & III undercoated and ready for painting, I guess I’ll have to add more Catachan Green into everything, even the drybrushing, which will be a bother.

Here’s a close-up of the mortars.

Overall, them ESCI / Italeri figures scrubbed up really well, better than the Russians I’ve already done. The Pegasus Hobbies mortars are even better.

Finished off more hills, and will complete another pair of hills this weekend. Hopefully, all the vehicles on my painting table will be completed and done with too.

Close, but not quite

October 30, 2007

I was not happy enough with my attempt at a wash on the 251/1C’s, so I’ve painted over and will try again. They won’t be fielded on the table now, as they are too heavily painted on and too much detail is lost. So I’ll have to buy some more (yay!).

Over at Google Maps, I found the city of Pinsk, to try and look at the surrounding Pripyat Marshes which caused the Germans so much trouble. Realising that more of this famous marsh system has been drained and converted to farmlands since the Great Patriotic War, what I see isn’t so helpful. Using photographs is much better.

Found some very nice photos of World War Two re-enactors over at Facebook. Looking at re-enactors is a great way of seeing colour schemes and camoflage, as they try extremely hard to be accurate (unlike in many big-budget movies where the audience is expected to have no knowledge) – they are pretty tough with eachother on accuracy, too.

Over at MySpace, I found a group for female WW2 re-enactors. Extremely few women choose to re-enact WW2, so I’m glad to have found it! Women fought with great distinction as fighter pilots and snipers for Russia during WW2, but were also important in auxilliary roles too. Useful reference for later, once I’ve got my troops ready battle.

Work continued on the BZ-35 and the minute detail of the German troops (helmet chinstraps etc.). I want the mortars and a couple of squads ready for November’s game (deadlines help me work!)