It’s been some time since I worked on either troops or AFVs. Although my Panzer V Panthers remain technically incomplete (I haven’t done the aerials yet – I was able to buy some more brass wire but not enough to make 7 aerials and have enough to waste), I’m up to speed and have enough infantry and infantry support bases to do plenty of infantry scenarios (thanks to completing those IG-18s).

I’ve decided to turn my attention to a kit I was extremely lucky to purchase last year – UM’s Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer (Commander’s version). 6 or 7 were being sold for $5 AUD each at a swap & sell last year. I purchased four, enough for a section. I then asked around about whether I can use these as normal vehicles and received a number of confirming replies. This was fantastic, as this kit does come with the roof-mounted remote-controlled machinegun, but it’s not assembled and put on this kit.

There’s already some good commentary about Hetzer kits in 1/72 scale. The kit I’m doing, for your own reference, is this one (have a look at Henk’s site for more photos, assembly instruction sheet scans, etc.)

I’ve commenced with doing the lower chassis, assembling the hull, suspension and roadwheels. Tonight will be the bogies and outer parts of the drive wheels, then the labourious process of glueing together the length & link tracks can occur.

I find UM’s kits to be very good – good instructions and well-cast parts.

Oh, the other thing I need to alter in the assembly is to only provide one aerial, not two. I may need to cut or file off the second aerial mount…I’ll have to check my excellent Polish bi-lingual Hetzer reference  book to see.

I did some research about what camouflage scheme (if any) I should paint onto my GrossDeutschland Panther tanks. I had seen a photo once of a column of Panthers moving forward on the Eastern Front (OstFront), painted only in DunkelGelb…no green or brown (or both) camouflage paint at all. Very simple – and given that the camouflage green and brown pastes didn’t get as widely distributed in quatity and completeness as on the Western Front (WestFront),  I think probably pretty common.  I was tempted to do all like that. However, since that is what I’m doing for many of my Opel Blitzes, Horch 108s and 251/1’s,  changed my mind, wanted some cammo and undertook a serious hunt to find out if GrossDeutschland’s Panthers had any camouflage scheme/s and what they were. The outcome was simpler than I thought: Panzer Colours III had both a black & white historical photo and a colour illustration of a GrossDeutschland regimental commander’s Panther that had a base coat of DunkelGelb and then a camouflage scheme of Dark Green mottling.  This is what I’ve decided to do for my 7 Revell Panthers.

Considering what is recommended on instruction sheets and commonly seen on the Internet and TV, certainly the more popular Panther camouflage (for modellers) is a scheme in Dark Green and Red-Brown that seems to be common in use and pictorial evidence on the Western Front (WestFront).  You can see a restored Panther in that camouflage scheme, here on YouTube:

While doing all this current research, I stumbled across a source of camouflage schemes (as colour illustrations) seen on actual WWII serving German vehicles that I had forgotten about using for well over a year or so…Dragon Models Limited’s instruction sheets! You can see a good number of these on Henk’s website, Henk of Holland: Plastic Manufacturers – Dragon.  For a great variety of different camouflage schemes, have a look at the scans of the instructions for Kit 7223 – SdKfz. 251/1 Ausf. C (about 1/5 down the page)  and for Kit 7225 – SdKfz. 251/1 Ausf. D  (just two kits later). These are a useful online information source to add to a WWII modeller’s and WWII wargamer’s repertoire/toolbox/collection/favourites/bookmarks.

The Devil is in the detail; time consumption is in painting detail. My wisdom for you all – you’re welcome to it. It explains why those Opel Maultiers are crawling along; the tarpaulins were given a fantastic-looking finish yesterday and today the bogies and suspension were being carefully painted. Once that’s done, I can do the chassis and undercarriage and all that mostly unseen stuff, with my home-made blend of Vehicle Undercarriage, which is really just some Brown ink, Boltgun Metal and Chaos Black all mixed together.

Yesterday, those Revell Tiger 1 E’s and an Italeri StuG III G were undercoated with Chaos Black spraypaint (not as thickly, this time – I’m trying an experiment. Next time I’ll use even less). Tankoberg was all set to start production again and I was going to begin glueing all of them together. I decided not to, though. I want those Opel Maultiers off my table, and that Schwimmwagen too. So, the StuG began production. What a lovely kit it is to work with. It’s been reviewed fairly favourably, although there has been some comment that too much is already moulded on. While I agree that a lot has been moulded on, at least it’s been done extremely well! I’m looking forward to the finished product. The tracks and wheels are causing a little consternation – I’m not sure about the return rollers and their position in relation to everything else. I guess I’ll see when I commence track assembly.

The little Schwimmwagen is getting close to having all it’s basics and details done, so that I can finish it by applying the three-colour camouflage pattern. Again, it’s time-consuming detail that I was working on. I also consulted my books for information about the grills to the rear of the unit, and how the canvas folding roof worked. The driver is long finished. He’ll go in, then the steering wheel; touch up the paint for the steering wheel, then camouflage, then done.

The SdKfz 11 had the first stage of an extensive dust coating applied.

Being in a productive mood this weekend, I also decided to begin making some more terrain / scenery. I prefer the term terrain rather than scenery…for me, scenery is what you make for a model railway – something static. Terrain is what you make for wargaming – it’s practical and gets used. I carved up some sheet styrene into a small thicket, a big thicket with room for a fallen tree trunk, a duckpond/village pond and lastly a larger pond/small lake. I used an Olfa cutter for this. Since I make my terrain to be modular, the thickets are two layered – if a unit moves onto the terrain, I take the first layer off, so they don’t damage the lichen or whatever I have stuck there. I’ve got bags and bags of lichen, so it’s time to get some more of it onto the wargaming table. I undercoated the smaller thicket with some basic house acrylic in brown and then gave up for the weekend.

Yesterday those two Fujimi houses had individual bricks picked out using pure Terracotta. The result was great – giving a reasonable imitation of brick houses at Oradour-sur-Glane.

Some YouTube fun

July 24, 2008

Great to see people are using their ‘pride-and-joys’ for more than just wargaming or admiring:

and there’s the longer

Partini01has done a few more, too, so go have a look at his YouTube channel!

******

I’ve had a dabble with LinkedIn. At the moment, it’s a bit too restrictive, and I felt may exclude some potential users. Certainly the list of occupations was slanted towards certain occupation types. This is perhaps it’s strength and weakness – the occupations it expects and caters for. Those in those occupations will get onboard and use it – those who aren’t, won’t. All it’s features reflected that – Q&A, Inviting people, etc. Maybe it’ll broaden in the future.

Kit management

July 20, 2008

I finally finished applying the Doug Chaltry technique to the tracks of the Opel Maultiers as well as a SdKfz 11 halftrack that I got when I bought ESCI’s “Don: the long retreat” 1/72 scale diorama set. I bought that diorama set new from a little shop I know. I bought it in order to get the KV-1 and Russian Infantry out of it, as back then I was going to be playing Russians. Instead, I’ve ended up playing Germans, so I’ve ended up using everything out of that diorama set, as it also held German Infantry, the SDKfz 11 and an Opel Blitz (which you’ve already seen and read about earlier).

I’ve also being painting up a Hasegawa Schwimmwagen I picked up last month at that swap-n-sell I went to. It’s a fun little vehicle and I even successfully kitbashed an extra rest/brace for the LMG, after ruining the first brace, successfully improvising a replacement, then making a second brace. It’s been well coated with Desert Yellow – today I was beginning the detail, being the seat covers, tyres, LMG and canvas canopy. I was originally going to do the interior with Kommando Khaki – many German AFVs had light buff tan interiors, according to Panzer Colours 1 by Culver & Murphy (Squadron/Signal pubs.), but this is not really an AFV, so I just made it Desert Yellow as per the exterior.

I’m beginning to digress – with those Maultier tracks finished, I was able to begin working on the rest of the vehicles, touching up the exterior Desert Yellow including fine detail spots, then fix the Bestial Brown job on the tray. The tarpaulins on the back got Catachan Green, but will have a patchy Desert Yellow coat applied, to represent the spraypainting of tarpaulins.

All this piecework means that I have lots of kits on the go, as I can only do a little work on each, then leave them for periods to dry properly. With it being winter here, drying periods are longer. So, I’ve decided to have lots of things on the go, rather than just working in five minute spurts two or three times a day, which I feel wastes the rest of my leisure time. Thus, today I opened up four of those Revell Tiger I Ausf. E’s and washed the sprues, to prepare them for undercoating and assembly. I’ve also being working on some more scenery. I was given a couple of Fujimi 1/76 kits for my recent birthday by the mighty President of Nunawading Wargames Association. I can use some more houses – I’d love to do a skirmish between infantry companies in a sizeable village, with lots of house-to-house combat…so I’ve been having to mix up some brick colours to match the ruins from the tragic town of Oradour, which I’m using as my reference point.

So, I’ve got a Schwimmwagen, Schwimmwagen driver, 3-ton SdKfz 11 halftrack, three Opel Maultiers, two houses all on the go, with four washed Tiger sprues drying out. Time management? Sort of. I prefer “kit management”.

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.

Plastic or metal?

May 13, 2008

With a few heavy coats of my homemade Panzer Grey on it, the ACE PaK 38 is starting to look OK. In fact, it reminds me a little at the moment of diecast metal cannons from my childhood! The finished product will be the decider…last night I applied some watered black ink around moving parts for that “greasy” look. A camouflage pattern of Desert Yellow will be applied to it, then it’ll be drybrushed with Kommando Khaki for dust. Should have a “introduction of the thee colour scheme but we used the good paint on the vehicles” effect.

Peter and I had a game of Panzerfaust on friday night, where my Marder III h’s debutted. What a debut it was! I had them well placed from the beginning and they were able to tear across the battlefield and rip up four T-34’s, almost winning me the game. My infantry did pretty well too, slaughtering a good part of his “tank desant” motorised infantry.

The railway station is coming along well, too. Much of the heavy work is done – now it’s details.

PaK postscript

May 7, 2008

After I posted last night, I came up with an idea for the awkward struts…I tore the offending one off it’s hinge, retooled the remains with a scalpel, and then stuck it back on at the correct angles with loads of glue. It looks a whole lot better for the effort.

Today, the order went in for two Revell products, the PzKpfw IV “Tiger” I Ausf.E and the PzKpfw VI Tiger & German Infantry, which is the same vehicle but combined with their 1/72 later war German infantry figures. As threatened in previous posts, I also requested the PaK 40 anti-tank gun “with servants” from Italeri. Whee!

Not an ACE effort

May 6, 2008

Been a while between drinks – and right now, a Cascade Pale Ale is travelling downwards.

The ACE Models PaK-38 anti-tank gun is completed. Finally. Thank goodness. Becuase I did not enjoy any step of it’s construction. Parts where there was no pin to connect one part to another; an uneven finish (the struts don’t lie flat, so I’ll have to file down one wheel so the darn thing sits flat) and the requirement for thin wire, not included in the box, all made me glad to be finished this one, and only have two more to do.

Come Hell or high water, I’ll sell those ACE PaK-40’s and buy the Italeri ones. Oh, they may not be as detailed as the ACE one, but give a stuff! The detail DID NOT really add much to this kit – in fact, I think at 1/72, some detail should be sacrificed in order to have a kit that assembles well. I certainly don’t feel that this one really did.

Now I’ll have to paint up some crew while assembling the other two. No worries – I’ve got a whole load of MG-42 medium machinegun crews to do. The PaK gunners can join their queue.

Next AFV project? I’m due for one, after these PaKs. I’ll jump in the deep end – Tigers. Oh yeah.

By the by, I finished painting the ESCI Opel Blitz. Very quick and straightforward to assemble, took paint well, and now it sits next to the Roden one. Sadly, I now prefer the Roden! The extra detail there (wing mirrors etc.) give it a little extra life…make it look real whereas the ESCI looks like a Hot Wheels imitation.

While I wait for Tigers, I’m going to do the Roden Opel Blitz Maultiers. 3 of ’em. Winter camo pattern, here we come!

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.