The start of Lend-Lease vehicles – no, not Trainee Funker suggesting that I start assembling a US force and begin gaming the Western Front, but holding the first of many US Lend-Lease tanks I can add to my Eastern Front Russian forces.

 

It’s been quite some time since I put an animated film up – 2008 was the last time, from memory. Two weeks ago, the President of Nunawading Wargames Association sent an email to some of the regular WWII gamers with a link to a YouTube video on it.

It’s not Eastern Front – it’s Western Front, the Battle of the Bulge. Done with 1/6 scale action figures by Nick Hsu. It nods its head to some classic war films. I think it’s a fine effort and I hope you enjoy it:

 

A book I’d ordered well over a year ago finally turned up at my work…Alan’s War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope by Emmanuel Guibert, published in 2008. It’s Western Front, not Eastern Front and as per the title, it’s about American troops.

It’s a great read, though. It’s a graphic novel but in the broadest meaning of the term. Alan recounts his experiences and extensive black-and-white images accompany them, sometimes captioned so that it’s a comic, sometimes not. But the stories, while simple enough, become gripping because he recounts so much of his emotions and inner thoughts as events unfold. A young man experiences a great amount of exposure to all aspects of humanity and is so much richer for it – as is the reader who is able to share them so well.

Briefly, Alan is first drafted and is a radio operator for a Sherman tank, but then ends up as radio operator in an M8 “Greyhound”. He arrives in Europe in the last few months of the War and is involved in the lightning marches across countries to defeat the Germans and prevent the Soviets from claiming too much new territory. He continues serving in Eurpoe after the war is over, returns to America but then decided to leave America forever and settle in France. Along the way he meets all manner of people whom affect his beliefs and thinking.

I was first drawn to it through a work-related comic strip I read, Unshelved. They did a single-page book review about it which intrigued me – read it by clicking on this link.

Sound good? Then you’ll really enjoy it.

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.

Tankoberg has stopped assembling and is now just painting. The Pumas presented an interesting question – should I paint the sets of axles in dunkelgelb or just with bare metal?

I set out using Google and also a new search engine, Duck Duck Go, to see what I could find. Certainly, searching images turned up lots of beautifully painted model kits in a number of scales, but none clearly showed axles. Even walk-around photos of museum vehicles didn’t oblige! While diligently going through the first 20 pages of results for a search, I found step-by-step photos of a model kit WIP (work in progress) in 1:6 scale.  Egonzinc’s Sdkfz. 234/2 “Puma” *Building the Model” was very informative and I, like those who have already commented on that discussion board, also wish to congratulate him heartily for such fantastic work.

I elected to follow his example and paint my kits’ axles (and also the undercarriage) dunkelgelb, not base metal, just as Egonzinc had done.

Next day, still testing out Duck Duck Go, I did some more general searches about painting Sd.Kfz. 234/2s (or any of the 234 family, since I have a 234/3 and will be buying some 234/1s eventually). As with the searches discussed above, I found a lot of photos and text about how modellers were painting or had painted them – but that wasn’t what I wanted. I’d searched my historical books and had seen photos of actual combat vehicles in plain dunkelgelb, two-tone camouflage and also three-tone camouflage. The Hasegawa kit assembly instruction sheet and box that the kit came in has a painting guide for three-tone camouflage, for a vehicle in action. So, the paint scheme is dark yellow, red brown and olive green in a mottled pattern – and this vehicle is on the Western Front, in Normandy. I’m interested in Eastern Front!

More searches unsued. “German  armoured cars of World War Two” (Milsom & Chamberlain 1974, Arms and armour Press, London) was clearly showing me vehicles with different paint and camouflage schemes! So did Bundesarchiv. So did historical black and white photos from other websites.

An examination of one result hit the jackpot – an English translation of the web page Sd Kfz 234/2 by Francisco Javier Cabeza & Carlos Martín. It had everything I wanted – authoritative text and historical photographs in colour. The Combat Use section is most helpful. Paint schemes and camouflage schemes are discussed as thoroughly as sources allow, as well as markings and divisional insignia. Francisco and Carlos have referred to some texts I own and also some I don’t, but I consider what is on their web site to be accurate and their sources to be high quality – therefore I’m acting on the  information they present.

I noted that the SS Panzer Division used three-tone cammo’d Pumas (but then, SS units usually got the best quality equipment). I decided that since mine were to be Eastern Front, I’d leave them as dunkelgelb but with proper markings. I’ve got some Hetzer tank-hunters who will get a heavy three-tone camouflage scheme and I’m going to do my Panthers in three-tone camouflage too.

Painting has been done with more vigour since this historical research and very fortunate pair of discoveries! Research is a wonderful thing.