For the second game of 2012, I decided to try using a different camera to record the action, as I’m feeling frustrated with the age and technological contraints of my 2004-2005 Ricoh. So, the photos you see on this post were taken using Mrs Eastern Funker’s 2010 Olympus.

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The setting for this game was somewhere near Stalingrad, in cold conditions…I rolled a Northerly wind of Moderate Strength using the Winter in Northern Europe table, but we decided that there wasn’t going to be enough snow or mud to impede movement.

Here’s the map/table for the night: . Peter had brought along his gorgeously painted ruined buildings, which you can see here: . They were fantastic – we need to use them again sometime! It was pretty obvious that two of them were going to become the Objectives for the night, so we selected these two in the middle of this photograph as the Objectives: .

So, I was a German infantry force, on the attack. Peter was the Soviet defenders.

TURN 1: Peter doesn’t move, so I bring my whole army on to the board at once. No Soviets can be seen at all.

TURN 2: 122mm artillery rain down on my Mortar Platoon in their trucks  . The rest of my troops all advance unmolested, but my Mortar Platoon suffers terribly  with four of the six trucks destroyed. The Mortar Platoon is comprised of 3 sections…2 are lost. I test Platoon Morale – they Flee.

I can cope without the Mortar Platoon, but I am now forced to test my company’s morale. I roll a 4, which with modifications becomes a 0, so the whole company flees. I only have one company, so that’s it. Game over right there. Once again.

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Why is it I can’t roll well for Morale??? Good reader, look back at previous game reports through this blog and you’ll see a consistency to my Company morale tests – more often than not, I roll poorly. Damn.

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Well, with the game over after just 10 minutes, we decided to continue from the same point, but re-roll the Morale test. This time, I was Shaken for 3 turns. That means I defend my current position but can’t advance.

It also means that I can start to move on turn 6…leaving me with less chance of even physically reaching the Objectives, let alone trying to capture them.

TURN 3: Peter tries to shift the 122mm artillery onto my platoon of 6 Wespes – and fails.

TURN 4: Ditto.

TURN 5: Ditto.

TURN 6: The Germans recommence their advance and leave the treeline .

The 122mm artillery still aren’t firing.

TURN 7: The advance continues. The 122mm artillery still aren’t firing.

TURN 8: My primary assault platoon in 251/1’s drive over a minefield. They are AP mines, and Peter has had them planted in Dense thickness: . Each 251/1 (there are 4 Infantry ones and a FAO vehicle, for a total of 5) is diced for and each is unlucky enough to set off some mines. Now each vehicle is diced for to see the effects of the mines. Mercifully, no vehicle is damaged, as 251/1’s count as Light AFVs and it’s nigh-impossible for AP mines to hurt AFVs. If it had been my trucks that had run over the mines, more than likely they would all have been destroyed, as AP mines tear softskins apart.

On the other side of the town, the Wespes have found the buildings to be defended and Molotov Cocktails are flung at them: . Molotov Cocktails in volume and over time can be deadly to closed AFVs – they are even more effective against open-topped ones like the Wespes and the other 251/1 that are down that end of the table. Sure enough, the 251/1 is hit and destroyed.

TURN 9: My assault infantry in their 251/1’s move into position and disembark next to one of the Objectives: – but that objective is defended and the defenders are revealed: .

At the other end of the town, more Molotovs are flung at my Wespes, and one is hit. For now, though, it’s not enough to cause trouble. But more hits on the same vehicle will get me into trouble.

Soviet MMGs can see my infantry still advancing across the fields and railway line and let fly. A section’s worth are killed, leading to a Morale test (joy!). The Platoon are Shaken – for one turn only.

My Wespes decide to demolish some of these buildings the way they do best – with 105mm shells  . A salvo is loosed and carnage ensues amongst the Soviets using them as cover, but it’s not enough to force the Soviets to lose Morale.

TURN 10: More Molotovs hit the ignited Wespe and it is eventually Destroyed  . At the first  of the two Objectives, more troops are visible behind the building: . My platoon burst in and it’s time for Close Quarters Combat (CQC), which Peter and I have only had once before in all the years I’ve played against him. The outcome of it was that I kill two teams and he kills 1. The remainder of the section are forced to flee and thier 251/1 is destroyed. Some of the Soviets are forced to flee from the objective as a Wespe shells it from the other end of the town. The other Wespes wreak havoc on the buildings closest to them.

That was the end of the Game. I wasn’t securely holding one of the Objectives so I effectively lost. Twice in one night.

Here’s some photos of the town at the end of the game: .

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I’m pretty happy with Mrs Eastern Funker’s camera for recording games. It has a better flash and I’ve had to touch up these photos far less than my old Ricoh. However, it didn’t handle close-ups so well. That might be a problem. Still, I think it’s time the Ricoh was decommissioned. Mrs Funker’s camera plugs straight into the new PC, too, unlike the Ricoh…so I can decommission the old PC as well. Good – more room for model kits!!!

 

 

The eBay 1/76 scale Wespes rolled off the production line at Tankoberg yesterday. To try to simulate snow and ice stuck to the treads and lower hull areas, I dabbed on Skull White paint, applied a protective coat of Testors Dullcote matt varnish to seal and protect the entire vehicle, then finally dabbed on Citadel ‘Ardcoat where the snow & ice had been applied, so that it would appear as glossy and shiny. The glossiness hasn’t show up in the accompanying photos, but is visible when you see the vehicles at closer range: . You can also see two new thickets in the photos – one a very long one that is meant to represent a boundary hedge or, in a pinch, bocage – the other a standard patch of what is generally known in wargaming circles as ‘bad going’.

My winter whitewash/winter camouflage technique still needs work. I think it needs further experimentation as well as further surveying of what other wargamers do. Techniques used by professional modellers are useful but very involving – I’m looking for a personal happy medium of techniques.

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The second stage of doing the steam engine shed is to roughly paint the whole interior: . I’ve only used vertical brushstrokes for this. The small attached wooden section at the back needs to be redone, too.

 

Whilst waiting for glue or various paint applications on the Wespes to dry, I’ve been working on two buildings suitable for railway stations or a rail yard – an engine maintenance/storage shed and a water tank:   .

Here’s detail of the water tank, which was 75% scratchbuilt:    . The ladder, iron/wooden frame and half of the floor of the watchtower/look-out came from the Fujimi House & Look-out set (kit #360379). The rest came from my spares box and my terrain-building materials. The cylindrical tank is PVC pipe left over from when I had to do some plumbing repairs; the roof is sheet styrene which I carefully carved with scalpels to fashion planks and represent wood detail; the floor is just a square of sheet styrene and the pipe is a piece of left-over sprue. I did some grinding to get the angled sheet styrene roof to fit on the PVC pipe, but the rest was straightforward and everything was glued together with plastics glue. Easy!

Why such an angled roof? Well, to prevent snow from building up and crushing it. Straightforward physics. I also hoped it would add a nice Eastern European feel to it…

The engine shed is something I bought secondhand from a model railways shop I frequent. Here’s the detail:     .

Both the engine shed and the water tank have turned out really well.

This is the first time I’ve used a wash. I used Badab Black from Citadel in order to give the roof tiles a more realistic colour and also to give both buildings a coating of coal-dust/soot. I also hoped that it would also bring out the details on the bricks, which are not very distinguishable on this kit. I certainly wasn’t going to try to paint in the mortar separating them! They are too fine and not prominently raised and seperated for such finicky painting detail. A wash did a better job by instead bringing up the shadows.

You’ll notice that I have still done a little drybrushing here and there to represent dust build-up and to provide contrasting. I originally wasn’t going to, but in fact it adds the third dimension to the pieces.

I’ve got a second one of these engine sheds to do and that will be some of the next few posts that I make – how to get the same colour and contrasts as I’ve got here.

As an inventory check, I’ve got enough railway tracks to go over a 6-foot board and a couple of extra feet distance too in curves; I’ve got a bombed railway station; I’ve got a water tank and an engine maintenance/storage shed with another shed having its paintwork commenced in the next day or two. Not bad!

With the 1/76 Wespes up to the detail stage of painting, I chose to model them with a coat of whitewash applied as Winter camouflage.

I have had one prior attempt at modelling Winter Whitewash, which you can read about in my 29 November 2009 post, Wespe SPG with a coat of Winter whitewash.  Back then, I provided the historical information that “While some lucky AFVs received very solid, evenly applied Winter camouflage coats using air-compressed sprayguns, many had thinned out or poorly-mixed whitewash applied in varying fashions – often using ordinary brushes but also using brooms and even dipping rags into the mixture then smacking the rag against the vehicle was not unknown. The whitewash often didn’t stay on for very long, either, leading to all sorts of streaking and fading.”

I chose to paint that Wespe in 2009  reflecting the wearing off of the whitewash, so I did it looking streaked and smudged. I did this by dipping my brush into the paint, letting it almost dry, then using exaggerated quick brush strokes to apply it.

This time I’m doing it differently. Here’s two close-up photos of how the ‘whitewash’ is looking so far: . This effect has been obtained by loading an expendable brush (because the brush bristles will be forced out of shape permanently – the brush in future could only again be used for this sort of painting technique or maybe some drybrushing) with lots of paint and then dabbing the paint on hard, the brushbeing at right angles to the surface being painted. You also work backwards over previously painted sections, trying to crush as many bubbles that form as possible.

It does mean that the whitewash looks freshly applied, but I have two techniques for modelling whitewash now and will try the first one on something else in the future.

 

I realised during a game of Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist last year (last year being the year ended last night, 2010 – Happy New Year 2011 to regular readers!) that when I deploy my beefy 120mm Mortar Platoon, I’m meant to have a Fire Control base accompanying it. I decided to get rid of some loose figures by making up the required base, plus use up some of those Italeri German motorcycles by making up bases of FAOs on motorbikes.

They were all finished yesterday – the 40 degree celsius heatwave we had here drying out the last paintwork extremely quickly. Here are some photos of all three bases together – front:  and now rear:  .

Close-ups of the Fire Control base – front:  and rear:  .

Motorcycle-riding FAOs – front:  and rear:  .

Glad to finish them…they’ve been sitting around taking up space and effort.

The figures are a mix – Italeri, Revell and Pegasus Hobbies.

The logs that the binocular-wielding FAOs are propping themselves against are worth mentioning. Regular readers would know that I choose real sticks & twigs from nature, paintstakingly saw them using a tiny sawblade and then use them unpainted in my bases and terrain. This time I decided that I couldn’t use twigs from nature as I didn’t have anything suitable in my hobby room and aren’t sure at the moment where to look for fresh supplies. Also, if I did find real twigs they were going to have to fit under the height of the raised leg of the FAO figure – even harder to ensure. I wondered if the two plastic logs supplied with the Hasegawa kit MT30 ( 31130 – GERMAN INFANTRY ATTACK GROUP) would suffice…

I dug them out of a spares box and found that the middle of the big log from that kit would be suitable! I cut the big log into two, filed its bottom so it would sit nicely on the bases and then added the rest of the features. Painting the log to make it look realistic was going to be a real challenge…wood that’s fallen is different in colour to living wood – so I used both a fresh wood base colour, then an aged wood greyish-brown and finally a drybrushing of plain grey. Then I glued some bright green flock onto one side to represent moss (you can’t see it very clearly in the photos above, unfortunately).

They turned out really well and look great in real life.

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I’m over halfway done with those Matchbox 1/76 Wespes I won on Ebay last November, plus some railway buildings I’ve tinkered with over the months. The decals for the Wespes went on an hour ago and then it’s cammo time. Next come the final fiddly details, then weathering, Dullcoting and at last they’ll be ready for war.

Four good lots located in the USA came up on EBay late last month. With the Aussie Dollar almost on par with the US Greenback, I decided to bid well & bid hard on  them as my purchasing power was higher than usual making this an excellent opportunity. I won three of the lots. They were a mixture of assembled plastic kits, a white metal truck & gun and some resin vehicles. Here’s a photo of all three lots combined:  . All three require some work, but that’s fine. They are all resin or pre-assembled, so some of my work has been done for me! The work they need is mostly minor repairs. I’m going to strip the existing undercoat off all the cars and the truck & gun, and re-undercoat all the Wespes. Then everything will get my painting treatment.

I got six Wespes (a whole platoon) in one go. Sure, they have suffered some damage from storage and previous use, but nothing that can’t be fixed:  . Some glue and possibly some bits & bobs out of the leftovers/spares box should get them back to operational status. Then I’m going to undercoat all with black and do the painting my way. I’ll lose a little of their detail in doing so, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Next were some Horch or Steyr heavy cars with what I think is a Krupp 2.5 ton truck with an IG-18 field gun:  . If you think you can tell me exactly which model of Krupp truck it’s meant to represent, please let me know via Comments. This lot and the last lot are all going to require me to buy some new cyanoacrylate glue, as they are resin or white metal kits and so my plastic glue obviously won’t cut the mustard. The Krupp truck & gun are white metal – I can’t see any manufacturer’s mark on it’s undercarriage so I can’t ascertain its providence. The windshield, tow hook, a wheel and a tray bench all need glueing.

The last lot are more heavy ccars and an armoured car:  . All are resin kits. The armoured car is an SdKfz 231. Again, some wheels need glueing. Then these two lots of resin & white metal vehicles will undergo some paint stripping so I can start painting them from scratch.

The Wespes are actually 1/76 scale, as you can see here when you look at them compared to my ESCI 1/72 Wespe in whitewash cammo:   . Again, I cannot determine which manufacturer made them…Matchbox, Fujimi…there is nothing on the undercarriage to tell me. They require more glueing than anything else I bought but I’m overjoyed to note that all the one piece vinyl tracks they came with have not deteriorated at all and so I’m not going to have to scrounge up some tracks to repair them with.

My forces just grew in a sizeable bound. Yay for EBay and the Aussie Dollar!

ESCI’s 1/72 Wespe kit. An original, not the recent Italeri re-release. Purchased at a Swap & Sell.

While some lucky AFVs received very solid, evenly applied Winter camouflage coats using air-compressed sprayguns (spraygun seen in use here) many had thinned out or poorly-mixed whitewash applied in varying fashiuons – often using ordinary brushes such as these gents do to their Tiger here, but using brooms and even dipping rags into the mixutre then smacking the rag against the vehicle was not unknown.

The whitewash often didn’t stay on for very long, either, leading to all sorts of streaking and fading. This is what I’ve tried to replicate in this kit.

Overall, this kit was pretty easy to assemble. The rack on the left side for holding jerrycans was not standard-issue, however…therefore if I do up a platoon, most won’t have that rack and they certainly won’t have the spare box that I added on the right.

 

Still 4 weeks of Spring left, but today is the second day of over 30 degrees…in fact, looking at the MelbinYewni real time temperature graph, today got to just over 34! This means it’s time to think about doing lots of wargames terrain / wargames scenery, as there will be the heat to cure and dry everything thoroughly and promptly.

I’ve made a start: the three telegraph posts from an old ESCI Diorama Accessories set have been assembled, based and given some lumpy earth around their bases…ready now for painting.

I finished off a platoon of PaK 36 anti-tank guns with crews, plus that ICM Krupp truck, so that they wouldn’t bother me and so that “Operation Barbarossa” next year will be a reality. The PaK 36s are from Fujimi, the crews are the one worthwhile figure from the Fujimi set the gun comes in, a chap from the  Revell  Fallschirmjägers and one of the two ESCI / Italeri Sd. Kfz. 251/1 crew. Photos: PaK 36 teams & truck PaK 36 gun & truck .

Some more comments about the ICM Krupp L2H143 Kfz 70 kit…it turns out pretty well and looks great painted. I opted to have the MG 34 on a pintle mount in the rear tray option, to fit in with the Kubelwagen Type 82 which also had pintle-mounted MG34. I don’t like the decals that ICM provided for this kit, though. There is too much excess clear decal surrounding the rear number plate, and even drybrushing with Kommando Khaki as a coat of dust didn’t help…in fact it made it worse and drew attention to the excess. There was also far too much excess on the front number plate – which is meant to wrap around a front bumper bar which is probably only a milimetre wide. Stupid! It wrapped but wouldn’t glue. I know some modellers add a special glue under any decal they apply, but I don’t have that glue and don’t think it should be necessary. The front number plate decal’s glue didn’t hold and so the whole thing popped off during drybrushing. A shame. Sorry ICM, sorry Roden, but I’m not having much luck with your decals.

Now, Fujimi’s product is meant to be 1/76 scale, but it isn’t. Let me clarify…the house probably is, but the figures and PaK gun supplied with it are definitely 1/72 scale or even larger…possibly even 1/70 scale! Anyway, only one figure from that product is worth using with the anti-tank gun because the others are even worsely sculpted and moulded than the figures Hasegawa provide with their WWII AFVs. Hence why each PaK 36 base I’ve done has figures from other manufacturers to make up the two-man crews that Panzerfaust: Armored Fist requires.

Lastly – a couple of Battlefield Accessories wall sections (enough to make two simple houses) have been assembled and are being painted, along with a Faller German, Austrian or Swiss log cabin that I bought at a model railroad shop.

Oh, and there’s a Wespe and that other Kubelwagen still in Tankoberg…but I’m feeling the time is nigh to make a caulk creek / stream following the laws laid down by Nikolas Lloyd.

 

 

…3 of Hasegawa’s 251/9 ‘Stummels’ and a vintage ESCI ‘Wespe’. The ‘Stummels” are continuing the fine detail and mostly easy-to-follow instructions of their other kits I’ve completed (except this time I forgot to drill some fine holes into the floor – I’ll rectify this by cutting off the pins on the relevenat pieces and glueing them flush to the floor, which ishow they would sit, anyway).

The ‘Wespe’ has old vinyl tracks (which it seems Italeri are oddly continuing to re-use in their re-releases, even when link-and-length tracks are better!) which has meant a lot of cyanoacrylate glue (and a bit of a headpin from the fumes), miniature clamps and clothes pegs to held everything in place during assembly. This certainly has dampened my interest in buying two of their Panzer II Ausf. Fs to complete a platoon of 5 with the three vintage ESCI ones I’ve acquired at Swap&Sells and get them all ready for a New Year 2010 ‘Operation Barbarossa’ game…I certainly won’t be hurrying to buy the re-released (by Italeri) Wespe to make up a platoon of 6…why can’t Italeri use the nice vinyl tracks Hasegawa has in their Sd. Kfz. 251 range of kits?

Still, everything is progressing well, all tracks glued well, with the Hasegawa ones even having some nice track sag (thanks to clever use of clothes pegs to hold them during the glueing).

 

NEWSFLASH!

Italeri are re-releasing the old ESCI Pz.Kpfw II F & Wespe kits!  I’d been slowly accumulating these by purchasing them at Swap & Sells for the princely sum of $5 AUD per box. I have 3 already, now I won’t have to wait too long to have a platoon of 5 ready.

While I’m mentioning the Panzer II, ACE from the Ukraine have their Pz.Kpfw II C ready – have a gander here. It’s available from some vendors.

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I’m working on the recon game AFVs. Two Pumas are being painted while a number of other vehicles are now being assembled in TankoBerg.