On the explanatory page about me and why I’m doing this blog, I state that “This blog will have a finite life – meaning that when I finish all relevant/suitable German forces for the “Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist” set of wargaming rules, I’ll stop maintaining this blog”. (If you don’t believe me, here’s the link you need to click on).

I had recently forgotten what I had said the purpose of my blog was and became a bit worried about how, the readers, would react if I did some work on some Russian stuff. Had I said I would only discuss and display German stuff on my blog? Upon checking a couple of weeks ago, I was relieved to see that this was not the case. I can make Russian stuff…my own rules don’t stop me. During the life of this blog, I have made Russian stuff that is ‘Beute’ (which you read about here) and Russian stuff for my opposing Russian forces to use themselves (which you can see here).

You see, the stash of kits in my hobby room grows ever bigger and I’ve rationalised in my head that, rather than have a half-full shelf that only has Russian stuff on it and fobid any German stuff from getting mixed in with it (which requires other shelves to be had or more space to be had), why not attempt to get rid of the Russian stuff that I’ve got and had for five or more years? Then I’ll have an extra bare shelf for German stuff and, in the future, some new Russian stuff!

So, I’m going to start doing a company (five vehicles) of SU-85/ СУ-85 self-propelled guns. I’ll be using the UM 1:72 kit #333. Don’t be alarmed, good readers…I’ll be doing them whilst working on German stuff, as is the practice of the seasoned, productive modeller – have more than one project going so that whilst one is being glued or drying, you have something else to do.

I’ll be washing, drying and undercoating the sprues soon. At the moment, I’m still very busy with the Dragon Sd. Kfz. 251/1Ds and also some Pegasus German Infantry 1939 anti-tank rifle teams.

 

 

 

I had a game of  Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist against Peter back on Friday (17 June) at Nunawading Wargames Association. It wasn’t Eastern Front (Ostfront) and I will put a brief description with photos up very soon.

Today I wanted to show you an Eastern Front game being played on a table across from us. It’s written by some club members and shares a common ancestry with Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist . It’s played in 1:72 or 1:76 scale.

The Luftwaffe pound some ground targets:  .

Russians break through the first line of Germans:   .

Some heavier German forces await their time:  so heavy Russian SPGs try to sneak around their left flank:  .

A very nicely presented table.

StuGs and StuGs

March 24, 2011

I’m currently working on two Sf. Kfz. 142 Stug III Ausf. Gs from Italeri (kit #7021) and two Revell StuG 40 Ausf. Gs which are currently out of print.

I have previously built one of the Italeri kits and found it very straightforward. The Revell kit is also very straightforward. The differences are in the detail and how the level of detail can affect assembly.

The Italeri kit’s length & link tracks are quite simplified, with the guidance teeth being merely slight pimples – hardly what they should be (or could be). While this makes glueing them quite easy, it also quite easy to misalign them on a number of axes – which I did, and had to sever parts off and re-glue them. I also came to realise that when I stuck on extra pieces of track as improvised armour, they were sitting wrong side up!

Revell uses length & link too but they are beautifully formed and finely detailed. They are a nuisance to cut off the sprue (use a scalpel, not clippers) but when glueing them in place it was impossible to misalign – the guidance teeth kept everything in control and the fit of individual links into each other led to very close-fit positioning and a realistic appearance.

When these 4 are finished, Im going to work on some opposing units – Russian ISU SPGs!

 

As well as Truck Month and that shed, I did have some Sd Kfz 251/1s on the go. As of today, everything is completed and Dullcoted and getting stored in boxes whilst they await a chance to be played with in a game.

Time to show you photos of the lot. With flash and without.

Here’s the resin 8-rad Sd Kfz 231 that I got in those two big eBay wins last year:    . I think it’s 1/76 scale.

The Roden Opel Blitz – you’ll see I did include the perspex window panes:   .

Italeri’s 251/1 (I’ve had these sitting around for probably two and half years now – and I’m thinking a softskin troop carrier month may be in order sometime this year as I have some Dragon ones to do too):   .

Lastly, the Airfix engine shed. Both sheds have turned out a little differently (not withstanding the wooden end room being a different colour) but I like them both. Here it is:      .

Good to have all things off the tables and shelves and ready to be used.

The next things to be worked on are two Italeri StuG IIIGs and two Revell StuG IIIGs plus there will be new episodes of the continuing saga of Hob-e-tac, as I use it to make thirteen trees.

Four modular (well, semi-modular, they aren’t as modular as I normally make) thickets are completed. Here they are as a group:

Here’s a close-up to give you some sense of proportions:

Tall enough to definitely block line-of-sight (LOS) for troops on foot, and as far as I’m ruling, enough to block LOS for AFVs too (except perhaps for a commander half-out of the turret of a Königstiger or somesuch).

They are not as modular as normal for me – usually, I would make the top part into at least two or more pieces, so that when footsloggers or AFVs enter it, you don’t need to remove the whole piece of terrain. Because I wanted these to be really thick, I made them as one piece, so the whole piece must be removed if an AFV (such as this Marder III (h)) or infantry try to negotiate passing through it:

These terrain pieces make their debut this friday night.

Why make them like this? So that they last longer. I don’t want my fragile terrain like this getting flattened, damaged and ultimately needing replacement after being crushed under bases of infantry or plastic AFV kits that have had some metal parts added to them. A little extra initial work results in a much longer wargaming terrain lifespan!

Two fridays back Peter and I had our second game for the year. Last year so many events worked against us playing – we only had three games for the year…and so far it’s been a game a month (effectively). Yay!

Since we had an armoured slugfest last time, we decided to revisit the infantry-vs-infantry style of game that we had enjoyed last year.  In fact, it even ended up being infantry and artillery only – no armour or SPGs at all (although if fellow club members could’ve loaned me six Wespes, I woulda gone for some mobile artillery too). I had a few vehicles – some Opel Blitzes and two 251/1Cs, but none were meant to be used in the attack. It was just going to be my Infantry company with some Offboard Artillery against whatever Peter had points for.

Let me detail the agreements made pre-game. This was to be a Quality German Attack – so whatever Point Value (PV) total I had, Peter would have half that for his forces. We agreed on No Vehicles (meaning no tanks or SPGs that were also tank destroyers). We agreed on each having Offboard Artillery. I ended up with approximately 2200 PV, so Peter had to take half that. In Panzerfaust: Iron Fist, German forces are expensive because most troops have good experience and Morale by default. Peter may have had only 1100 points to build his army with, but I knew he would end up with at least an Infantry Company plus some Offboard Artillery because Soviet troops are so cheap. Whatever else he was able to afford would prove interesting and challenging.

Here’s the map/board for the night: map-for-april-2009

The idea was for the terrain to represent a village or hamlet in a valley. Thusly I placed as many hills and elevated ground around the edges of the board as I could. The village was just four buildings, with a pond in between two of them…it represented a clean source of drinking water (maybe a large well or natural spring). Some good-sized fields of crops and an obligatory apple orchard on the edge of town…apples were a popular crop back in Russia and the Eastern Front in general…and it’s easier to buy the pre-made trees or components to make apple trees than to try and do something more exotic like cherry trees (and not Japanese cherry trees, or poor old Anton Chekhov would really be rolling in his grave). Some copses of trees on the town outskirts and some trees on the hills too.

Preparation: a Light, Westerly wind was rolled. My troops were coming in from the Western side of the board. The Objective that I had to reach in 10 turns was the road in between the four buildings.

Turn One – my forces came on board safely, in the Northwest, travelling Southeast. My 150mm Offboard Artillery was aimed at the nearest edge of the nearest house to my forces. Before I began rolling, Peter said he had deployed badly – but when he heard I had 150mm artillery, he said it would be a quick game! (He even suggested post-game that if I had selected only 105mm artillery, then I would’ve had much more trouble breaking his troops’ Morale).

I had two pairs of 15omm guns. I rolled two hits and two misses – killing a Soviet platoon HQ base and squad straight off. A good opening for me!

Turn Two:  Now I could see some of the defenders, russians-now-in-sight right in the outer edges of the fields, closest to me. Peter had opted for an aggressive defence and deployed accordingly.  He had mortars – they rained down fire on my Company HQ as it was moving down to its intended position. The Russians opened up on my infantry with MMGs, LMGs and rifles russian-mmg-lmg-fire for a fierce 46 Fire Factors at 25cm range. He rolled a 6 to get +1, but then suffered -2 for being Conscript troops. So, in conclusion he was -1 at 40cm…I lost 7 bases, which I spread out amongst the squads. I had to test Morale for 4 squads…the overall platoon was fine but some squads were Shaken, so they hit the deck and were just going to fire back.

My 3rd Platoon also came under heavy fire, losing the Platoon HQ. I rolled a 6…-5 left me with a final result of 1…that platoon was Shaken. They also were going to stay still and just shoot back, too.

My Artillery now came down. Even though I rolled shockingly, I still wiped out all the troops concealed inside the building, forcing Peter to test Morale.

The Germans returned rifle & LMG fire, killing a Russian MMG and some grunts. The killing of the MMG was due to Peter determining that my German LMGs could target the MMG, with leftover factors carrying over onto the surrounding bases as “splash damage”. This is an unofficial decision that worked well and will need codifying somewhere…stay tuned.

The nearest platoon of Russians have had enough and began to Retreat – the first time I’ve ever got Peter to retreat! Still, the Russian Company as a whole rolls 3 Morale, so they are OK…just.

The Russian mortars come down again on my Company HQ and softskins – killing my Company HQ. For once, I roll well in testing the Company Morale in a crisis – and get 8, leading to a final result of 1. We are Shaken for a turn but still in the game.

Turn Three – No more advancing for me – I’m Shaken so can only stay still and fire back. I disembark the four 120mm Battalian Support mortars out of the surving Opel Blitzes – they can fire on Turn Five. The 251/1C in front of the Opel Blitzes that I was using to make a FAO mobile  kills off some Russians with its LMG, so the other Russian bases near it surrender to me.

One of Peter’s platoons continued its retreat fleeing-russians but sadly for them they ran into my 150mm Artillery Barrage and were all killed.

Turn Four – I can move again! I had set up my company 81mm support mortars last turn and they could now fire. They missed. His mortars killed off a LMG base attached to my Company HQ teams.

Turn Five – I decided to change my Offboard Artillery fire from Pre-determined as I wanted to silence his mortars and so I had to roll to Call Down my Artillery onto a new target. I succeeded and silenced one of the Russian mortars, but his Mortars hit my 120mm Mortars whom are forced to flee off the table (they were right next to it).

I roll my Company Morale again – a 3 – leading to a Retreat. Game Over. I was so close this time to forcing him into a Retreat and winning…arghhhhh.

Here’s a photo of the FAO in the 251/1C directly fighting Russian infantry: fao-and-softskins-advancing

This time I had remembered everything.  Smokescreens, the lot.  It was him hitting my Company HQ so early on that prevented me winning…I must place them somewhere safer, not on a wing, and certainly not let them start high on a hill where they can be seen and mortared!

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”.

Thinking more about camouflage for vehicles (and to a lesser extent, soldiers) I did a little internet browsing my favourite way – using internet directories.

I quickly got to Lone Sentry, a website that offers “Photographs, Documents, and Research on World War II” – especially the full text of some articles from the Intelligence Bulletin. “Printed by the Military Intelligence Service throughout WWII, the Intelligence Bulletin was designed to inform officers and enlisted men of the latest enemy tactics and weapons. For the historian and collector, the bulletins offer a rare view into the Allied knowledge of the Axis forces”.

It also offers the full text to publications from the time, especially this one:

WAR DEPARTMENT FIELD MANUAL FM 5-20B
CORPS OF ENGINEERS
CAMOUFLAGE OF VEHICLES
APRIL 1944

In the section titled Vehicle Painting, it states:

“The enemy will usually see vehicles at an angle. At least two adjoining surfaces will be visible to him at once. For example, from close-range ground observation he might see a side and the front; from the air, or on an aerial photograph, he might see the top, a side, and the front. For this reason, vehicle patterns are designed to disrupt the cube shape of vehicles from all angles, to disrupt shadows cast by tarpaulin bows, to tie in with the shadow at the rear of a vehicle when it is faced into the sun, to tie in with the large dark shadow areas of windows, mudguards, wheels, and undercarriage, and to be bold enough to be effective at a distance.

Patterns are composed of a light color and a dark color. Black or olive drab have proved satisfactory dark colors in several theaters of operations. The light color is selected to match a light color typical of and predominant in the terrain in which the vehicle operates. White or light gray paint is applied to the undersurfaces of vehicles to cause them to reflect light, thus lightening the dark shadows of the undercarriage. This is called countershading.

Camouflage painting is not a cure-all. Alone, it cannot be relied on to do more than render a vehicle obscure, making it hard for an enemy gunner to locate the vehicle and confusing him as to the location of vulnerable areas. Nor can it conceal a moving vehicle, because other sight factors, such as dust, reflections, and motion itself, will betray its presence. However, camouflage painting is a valuable supplement to other camouflage measures. Added to good siting, dispersion, camouflage discipline, and the use of nets and drapes, it increases the benefits to be derived from these measures. Together, and intelligently used, they will provide a high degree of concealment for any vehicle”.

It then goes on with colour illustrations of various US patterns on various vehicles (self-propelled gun, truck etc.)

It neatly summarises what I’m trying to do – and what soldiers still try to do today.

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.

Them Marder III’s

March 4, 2008

Some additional comments regarding those Marder III’s, discovered during painting:

1) Painting under the wheels is really difficult. I probably should have done that after glueing on the wheels but before glueing on the track. I think that’s what I did before…but I’m not sure. Oh well. These ones will have to have some extra mud spattered around to cover up lesser paintwork.

2) Painting the rear grille requires good lungs – to breathe hard and make sure the paint doesn’t block up the holes, removing the grille effect.

3) Using a black undercoat gives the impression that vehicles were originally in their Field Grey and were since resprayed when the “3 colour system” came in in 1943. This is fine if that’s the effect you want. It’s the effect I get because I’m using Chaos Black in a spraycan, lazy sod that I am. I guess that when it comes to doing Tigers, Panthers or Hetzers, I’ll have to find some other undercoat-in-a-can.