Germans… Germans… and more Germans

I have a massive list of Germans that I’ve been wanting to paint for a while now, but I’ve been too busy painting my Winter Soviets and Americans.

The Big Four: Big Cats detour gave me the chance to test paint schemes that I plan to expand across a large German project that I have been planning and building for many years.

The King Tigers were just the start of the army and eventually I’ll be able to field any German tank that I want. They will all be painted using the same method so will look consistent regardless of the models that I want to but on the table.

Rather than painting them in one big batch, I’m going to design some sensible armies to help split them into painting batches.

With the King Tigers and Pumas ticked off the list, the release of the new Mid War Eastern Front army deals makes it a great time to tick the Panzer III’s and Panzer IVs off the list.

The Humble Panzer III… In Late War
I love Panzer III’s. Ever since the old V3 book ‘Dogs & Devils’ came out I’ve wanted to paint a Herman Goring Mixed Panzer Company as it’s a great way to field a lot of them. At one point I even went and bought an entire army of resin and metal Panzer III’s and IV’s, but that been sitting in my drawer of shame… assembled… base coated… unloved… and it’s now time to replace them with plastic and move them from the armies started column to the armies completed column.

The great thing about the humble Panzer III’s and Panzer IVs is that (as long as you aren’t a power gamer) they are useful in both Mid War and Late War. While I’m going to primarily paint these tanks for Late War, these will definitely find their way into my Mid War games, and by painting them for Late War I’ll always have enough for any Mid War army that I want to build.

I’m basing my list off a Mixed Panzer Company from Fortress Europe, as that’s the only way of getting lots of Panzer III’s in an army in Late War.

All of the combat platoons are a mix of Panzer’s which are backed up by Fallschirmjäger and Marders, as that is on theme with Herman Goring in Italy and uses the Infantry that I’m currently painting for my Bulge: German Kingtiger force.

In a later batch I’m going to paint up a few Tigers and Elefants, which will end up in my Herman Goring list as they are also very thematic for Herman Goring.

Modeling The Vehicles
Since these Panzer III’s are old model tanks by Late-War standards, I’ve done a bit of surgery on the schürzen to remove some of the panels to help make the models look old and beaten up.

I’ve achieved this by using the blank schürzen rails from the Panzer IV H sprue and carefully cutting up and rebuilding the schürzen. The other bonus to doing this is that I can now leave the tracks separate for painting.

Since I like unique models, the Panzer IVs I am going to build as late production Panzer IV G models that were in production between 1943 and 44, which puts them at home in both Mid War and Late War.

It was actually an easier conversion to make my late production Panzer IV G’s than to modify my Panzer III’s.

Initially the Panzer IV G was armed with the L/43 barrel (which comes on the Panzer IV early model), but when the longer L/48 gun became available it became the standard armament for the tank and all the tanks that were returned to Germany were retrofitted with the new gun. For the L/48 barrels I stole the barrel off the same Panzer IV sprues that I stole the schürzen rails from.

Other visual changes include the addition of a spare wheel stowage box on the side of the hull, which comes on the Wirbelwind frame. Conveniently the Wirbelwind comes with the early Panzer IV sprue, so that was an easy way to get most of the model.

The Late Production Panzer IV G also removed the vision ports on the side of the turret for ease of production. Later Panzer IVs were starting to receive turret skirts anyway, which made the vision ports irrelevant. To model this it was quite easy to shave the vision ports off the turret.

Technically these should probably have Schurzen and the later single piece hatch, rather than the split commanders hatch, but I just prefer the look of Panzer IVs without the schürzen.

~Casey

Big Four: Big Cats!

The release of Bulge: German has resulted in much “list-noodling” here at Big Four, so we decided why don’t we all commit to a list each and see what we can achieve in a month. We also thought we should all include some of the new Tiger II or Jagdtiger plastic tanks. Some of us have gone for full Formations of these beasts, while others are being more subtle.

I was already planning to paint a whole lot of tanks from Bulge: German (to the point that I had already managed to scavenge, assemble and prime some King Tigers), so when Victor suggested Big Four: Big Cats I was all onboard (and already ahead).

My list is based around five Tiger II tanks, although I’ll be painting six for those extra big games. Since they are in Formation I’m also going to paint up a Fallschirmjager Platoon. Despite them being hit on 3+ they are such a large unit that they will be scary on attack and difficult to move on defence. I’m rounding out the army with some Pumas.

This is the first time in a while painting and German armour, and recently I got a new airbrush which I haven’t had much practice with yet. I started painting the camouflage on one of the Tiger II tanks, but wasn’t happy with either the colours or paint application. Luckily I had a few old metal and resin Hetzers lying around already base coated, which I sacrificed to do a bit of colour and paint consistency experiments, and to use to practice my camo on.

Happy with the colours, but not wanting to wreck any of my Kingtigers (since they are in short supply in the office), I have started painting a test Panzer IV/70 platoon, to make sure that I’m happy with the end result before I start the army (Victor thinks I’m crazy for painting a test platoon before starting my army).

At first I was worried that my Dunkelgelb was too light, but it’s interesting how a little bit of streaking and chipping changes the overall tone of the paint, despite the base colour not changing.

~Casey

Big Cats = Big Fun! When it comes to Flames Of War I feel like that is a moto to live by.

Over the years I have painted my fair share of Jagdtigers and King Tigers (not to mention Tigers and Panthers) so when Victor proposed this little detour I was a little on the fence… till I got the new plastics in hand and decided that 7 new plastic Jagdtigers would weigh about as much as one of my old metal and resin models.

I didn’t want to over think my list as I really wanted to do something straight forward and simple, and something that I could use as a springboard for future expansion or to integrate some old models I already had painted from my existing Jagdtiger Company.

So how do you make a simple Jagdtiger Company with no real thoughts about how it will compete? Simple, you just put in ALL the Jadgtigers… 7 to be precise, and then flavour with 4 Wirbelwinds to deal with pesky infantry, planes and light vehicles.

How am I going to fit 118 points of models in a 100 point list I hear you saying? Simple… you make them “less-good” through the use of the 512. Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 2nd Company Command Card. With this card I reduce my Motivation and Skill, but save quite a few points.

I did initially think about only doing 5 or 6 Jagdtigers so I would have some points for something a bit more useful in a competitive situation – some Panzer IV’s and/or Panzergrenadiers for example – but these are all things I can do later and right now I just wanted to paint some cool models and with 7 Jagdtigers and 4 Wirbelwinds I ‘never’ need to paint any more in the future.

~Chris

 

The idea of a Big Four: Big Cats detour wasn’t as simple for me as the other guys as I am already painting Germans. I umm’ed and ahh’ed about what to do, not out of indecision, but which to one to pick for this particular force. I have bunch of plans for all of them as part of my general Big Four German plan. In the end I decided to some of the new Tiger II heavy tanks. This is an impressive and easy to put together tank kit.

I went with SS just to get a little more in the force, but I will probably paint them so they can be used as Waffen-SS or Heer heavy tanks.

So that’s five Tiger II tanks, but I have assembled six, so I will paint all six. The other new plastic I’m building is the new Hummel self-propelled 15cm howitzer. This adds some heavy punch to my supporting fire. Me being weird and contrary again, I modelled up a Panzer IV OP out of spare Panzer IV bits I had. This is modelled as a Panzer IV J with bits from the Panzer IV F, Panzer IV H and some Panzer IV J bits from our old resin and plastic Panzer IV J model. Added the periscope made from plastic rod and some metal wire radio aerials and shaved off the Zimmerit.

I’m also going to paint up a Volksgrenadier Rifle Platoon. The list has five teams, but I’ll paint up all seven teams and maybe a Panzerschreck.

This should keep me busy over the next few weeks.

~Wayne

 

There’s plenty to be excited about in Bulge: German, it’s hard to choose where to start. When we decided to do this little 100 point challenge, I came up with many different lists. Most of them were my usual “max out on big tanks and then see how many points are left”. Instead I wanted to push myself to do something more varied that will also give me the building blocks for many lists later. So I settled on this:

Down the road I’ll have ways to expand it; add halftracks and mobile mortars, make a Panther or Tiger II company, add artillery, etc to further expand out the whole Kampfgruppe.

For now though this will be a fun little force to paint if I can get it all done in time. I’m lagging behind the others and haven’t started assembly, but I’ve got everything purchased…

As for painting, I did a quick test model to see if the scheme I had in my head would work. It uses blu-tac for the camo pattern, and relies on some simple chipping to act as highlights. I’m happy with the general look, and it’s actually quite fast to do.

Plus now I have a Panzer III OP ready for some Hummels later!

The one hurdle I see in my plan is that I’m not very fast at painting infantry. Luckily it’s not a lot of teams and I think I’ve got a nice quick way of doing German field grey, based on the commander of my panzer III OP.

Wish me luck!

~Victor

Stay tuned to see how we all progress with our armies over the coming weeks…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Going To Need A Bigger Army Bag…

Building my Czechoslovakian army has been a real labour of love over the past few years and other than a previously confessed love of the Vz. 61 Skorpion machine-pistol I have no idea what pushed me over the edge to start building the army, let alone how it go so big…

Thinking about this as I type I do have to pay credit to a gentleman called Tom Wise who, if you are a very old time Flames Of War player, you will know as the guy that when he built and army, he built the whole army!

Check out Tom’s Corner on the Flames Of War website…

Before I type anything more, lets look at the army in all of it’s glory (click the image for a bigger version).

With my current batch of painting finished (which included the 10 T-72B tanks with ERA, the Praga SP AA, and the 6 SU-17 aircraft) I can almost field any combination of models I want, but broadly speaking I have options for:

  • T-55AM2 Tank Battalion,
  • T-72M Tank Battalion,
  • T-72B Tank Battalion,
  • BMP Motor Rifle Battalion, or a
  • Wheeled Motor Rifle Battalion

Each of these have plenty of support options to choose from to “buff” the Formation or provide Force Support with some units like the BMP’s capable of doing double duty as infantry carriers, either in their own Formation or as a grey-box inside a tank Formation, or as Scouts if I am using the OT-64s to move the infantry around.

Strangely though, looking at the picture of everything on the table, I can tell you that I am still not done! I regret not painting both T-72 Battalions up to a slightly more resilient 16 tanks each, I’d like to add some Carnations, perhaps more Pragas, maybe some “what-if” Shilkas (I love the look of them),  another 7 T-55 tanks as a dedicated “T-55AM2 Missile Tank Company” (I’d just use a different numbering sequence to help me spot them on the battlefield), and last but certainly not least… Hinds. Four of them for a little more air support!

With all that being said and done though, I think I might take a break from green tanks for a bit. Victor is making noises about a short project he wants us to go and with the last part of the year being a return to my Late War British I think I need a break and a different colour of tank in front of my brush…

~Chris

Wayne’s French Connection

After much work I’ve completed my planned French force for 1944-45. It has actually turned out to be quite large with the recent additions of a third Rifle Platoon, a 105mm Artillery Battery, and a M4 Sherman Tank Platoon of 5x M4 Sherman tanks.

The Formation has ten Units, and I have another four Units in Support for 116 points total. However, I’ll most likely run it at 100 points most of the time, dropping 16 points off the force. This could be one of the armoured units, or a combination of smaller units. There is also plenty of room for points fine tuning within the rifle platoons, or I could even drop the 9e Division d’Infanterie Coloniale Colonial command card and run them as straight Battle Weary ratings.

The Miniatures
For the French Rifle Platoons I used some French Tirailleurs from the old Tirailleurs Platoon (Italy) (FR812) I had got back in 3rd Ed FOW for the Italy Campaign. These miniatures are French Evan made for the release of Road to Rome from the Winter Americans. The main difference is a few unique figures with Adrian Helmets and an Officer in a Kepi. These can be happily mixed with the winter Americans. For all the weapons and support units I mostly used the winter American packs with a few other French from the above pack and the old Mediterranean early-war range for the occasional Officer, NCO, and crewmen. I also did some head swaps to put French heads on miniatures such as on the Jeep crew.

The M4 Sherman Tank Platoon are actually Sherman V models from the British range. The official American designation of this tank is M4A4. Though, the Americans did not use the M4A4 Sherman themselves, they did supply them for the Lend-lease program not only to Britain, but to France as well where they made up about half of the French Shermans. The French also got large numbers of M4A2 diesel Sherman as well as small numbers of M4A1 & M4A3 76mm and M4A3 Jumbos. There may be a French Sherman Tank Company in my future. Check out these websites for more details:
French Shermans during WW2…

Chars-Francais.net

~Wayne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAK Detour Complete

An army that started life 7 years ago as a small Panzer force has now grown to 140 points with lots of options to bring to the battlefield.

I’m really proud of this army as it showcases all the painting techniques and tricks I’ve accrued over the years, in contrast to my Late-War American force which was more of a “get the models on the table” paint job.

Each unit has a lot of care put in to it, and seeing all 35 models together makes it all worth it.

Complete Panzer Tank Company

Check out the all units below (click on the images for larger versions).

Panzer III Tank Company HQ
Panzer III Tank Platoon
Panzer IV Tank Platoon
Panzer II Light Tank Platoon
Sd Kfz 221 and 222 Light Scout Troop
Sd Kfz 231 Heavy Scout Troop
Diana Tank-hunter Platoon
8.8cm Heavy AA Platoon
15cm Bison Infantry Gun Platoon
15cm (Sf) Lorraine Schlepper Artillery Battery
Tiger (P) Heavy Tank

Like Chris said there’s always more that could be added (Infantry, Captured 25 pdrs, long barrelled Panzer IV’s) but for now it’s time to move on to the next “Big” project…

~Victor

Finishing the American Desert Detour

Finishing an army* should be a chance to look back at the time spent scheming, building, painting and finishing up the force. It doesn’t matter if that army is six models or 60, you should still look at the army and say “Hey, I did a thing!” The next step of course is to take it out and destroy your enemies with it…

As it stands with my Mid War American force I have ticked the first box and will need to make time to so the second. Looking back at the painting there were some real highlights and low lights for me, and if you have been following the process on Instagram you will know that colour matching was a real problem. Turning that into something good I can now honestly say I’m better at keeping painting records (not as good as Victor though) and so this shouldn’t be a problem in the future (famous last words).

Here… is the finished army in all it’s glory (click on them for bigger versions)!

M3 Lee Company HQ
M3 Lee Tank Platoon
M4 81mm Armored Mortar Platoon
T30 75mm Assault Gun Platoon
Armored Recon Patrol
T19 105mm HMC Artillery Platoon
M3 Stuart Tank Platoon

M3 75mm GMC Tank Destroyer Platoon

T28E1 37mm AAA Platoon

With everything added up, the force comes in at a respectable 130 points. That means I have a little bit extra for some bigger games, along with ability to remove a platoon or two to get the force down to 100 points.

I think for now I will call the army finished!

~Chris

*is an army really finished? A platoon of M4 Shermans and perhaps an Armored Rifle Platoon would really round out this collection and bring in the points total to a little under 200 points for a really big game!

 

 

 

Detour to the Desert

Chris and Victor are heading to the desert!

They’ve both started armies a while ago, and hot on the heels of ‘North Africa’ they’ve decided to dig them out and breath new life into their forces.

Victor’s Afrikakorps

About 7 years ago I started an Early-War DAK army. It began as just 6 Panzer III’s (and a captured Stuart…) which allied with Waynes Italians for a doubles tournament.

Check out the coverage of the Panzerchreck 2016 event over on the Flames Of War website…

The following year I added Panzer IV’s, Panzer II’s, 88’s, and 222 armoured cars. The plan was to have units that could swing between early-war and mid-war, so the Panzers were all earlier versions.

This left me with a good mix of units, but it never really felt like a complete army. The release of North Africa gave me the motivation to move this force into Version 4, and skew it more towards mid-war by adding some cool new units.

Apart from a few touch ups due to showing their age, here’s what I’ve currently got painted from years ago:

6x Panzer III J
4x Panzer IV D
5x Panzer II C
4x SdKfz 221 & 222
2x 8.8cm FlaK36
2x Objectives!

And here’s what I’m planning to add, which will give me 140 points to work with!

3x Dianas
2x Bison
4x Lorraine Schlepper
2x SdKfz 231 8-rad
1x Tiger

One day I’d like to do some infantry, captured 25 pdrs, and long barrelled Panzer IV’s, but for now I’ve got a lot to keep me busy!

~Victor

Chris’s Fighting First

When we released Fighting First I, for some reason, fell in love with the idea of a full company of M3 Lee tanks. I guess it was just a combination of a wierd looking tank, a decent stat line, and a points cost that let me field a lot of them and still have room to pack some extra units in.

As is often the case, the army started with a hiss and a roar, getting most of it built, painted and decal’ed. But like so many projects I hit a point where army stalled… when I had to paint a massive pile of vehicle crew.

Part of my reticence was that not only did I have a full company of Lee’s in the force, but also a (for me) massive number of halftracks with M4 Mortar Carriers, converted T19 105mm HMC’s, M3 75mm GMC’s, and T30 75mm HMC’s. Each of these vehicles needed crews painted up and I failed my last stand test and retreated…

Fast forward a few years and I’m in my peak painting condition having done so many models as part of the Big Four project that finishing this army actually seemed like a holiday from everything else!

My baseline list looks pretty straight forward.

But for some variation, and for the ability to add a few extra points I have the T19’s and M3 GMC’s that I can add. These are both Community Cards that have been created by players out in the world so whilst there aren’t models for them currently I managed to convert them using existing halftracks and guns.

You can find out more about them on the Flames Of War website.
M3 75mm GMC…
T19 105mm HMC…

I’ll be finishing off everything that I started (way back when) and then moving on to a few new units, like the Stuarts and T28E1 SP AA… I might even set myself a stretch goal of some infantry and Shermans but we will see how everything else progresses

~Chris

Follow along with us on Instagram as we finish our units, and who knows, we may have a battle to decide who’s king of the desert!

 

 

Churchills and Daimlers For Everyone!

A long time ago (well 18 months) I finished up my first platoons of Churchills and Daimlers (and Dingos).

Churchills are one of the most iconic tanks of World War II and the Daimler (and Dingo) are just very cool little models. Even back then I knew I wanted to paint more, but with so many other things to work on I put the extra platoon of each on the back burner. Needless to the say for the past year or so I have been feeling guilty about that as I have been trying to paint “entire” Formations, or at least as close to an entire Formation as makes sense given the points.

You can check out the previous articles on these units here:
Churchill By Name, Churchill By Nature! article…
Daimlers and Dingos Lead The Way article…

Over Christmas I managed to finish up a few units that had been hanging over me, so whilst I was on a roll I decided to knock these out as well. Finally having “full” sized Formations makes me pretty keen to get them on the tabletop.

First up, the Churchills… as you can see that is a lot of armour!

And once you work out the points on Forces, it is close to a full 100 points without the Crocodiles or AVREs. Of course that just means I need to challenge one of the other Big Four to a 150 point game…

On the flip side, we have the awesome little Daimlers and Dingos whose size belies their capabilities. Awesome as a recon unit, fantastic as a small strike force, and capable of punching above their weight they are now and forever one of my favourite models in the game.

A full Formation has something for everyone with Universal Carriers, Infantry, 6 pdr guns and mortars in support. All this and less than 50 points!

Maybe I need to put the Churchills and the Recce Squadron together and challenge someone to a 200 point game!

Now with these two platoons done, along with the extra bits and pieces I completed over Christmas I have (more or less) finished everything that I was planning on doing from the D-Day: British book. Guess I can take a break, think about what is coming in the Bulge: British book and start planning…

What’s that Victor? You want to talk to me about some new project? But… but… okay…

~Chris

 

 

 

 

Casey’s First to Bastogne

Late last year Victor ‘suggested’ (read badgered me incessantly for two weeks and resorted to social media to get everyone else to convince me to do it) that with the release of Bulge: American I should do a new winter American army.

I’m glad Victor, and the rest of the community, convinced me to do the army as I’m really happy with how the army looks now that it’s finished. (Shhhhhhhhh, don’t tell Victor otherwise he’ll ‘suggest’ more armies for me to do).

While the basic paint-job and techniques are the same as my Soviets, just with a different base coat, I think I enjoyed painting these even more because there was more variety of slightly different tanks within the army than my Soviets. I was also able to take everything that I learnt from my Soviets and get straight into painting the army without the need to experiment with any new techniques.

Its also probably one of the fastest armies that I have painted recently. It’s been about 3½ months since I started the army, but there were 3 weeks in that time where I couldn’t do any work on it.

My favorite platoon has to be my first Sherman Platoon, where I swapped the tracks for the Jumbo tracks (that have the grousers sculpted on). There is no game advantage for doing this, I just think they look cool with the wide tracks.

I have painted all of the turret options for the tanks to give me plenty of options, as well as an extra pair of up-armored Easy Eights to give me some flexibility in the formation.

By using combinations of different formations and command cards I can build forces ranging from as little 64 points, by dropping the Super Pershing and using the regular Sherman Company, through to 134 points by upgrading all the guns to 76mm, adding the extra Easy Eights, giving all the tanks HVAP ammo, and adding George S. Patton Jr.

~Casey

Chris’ Christmas Campaign

Every Christmas I budget some time to hide out in the garage and get some painting done. Last year was no different as I knew I had a few projects that had been lurking around on my to-do list for as long as I could remember.

First up on my list were my Bofors guns and 6 pdrs. My guilt factor had been dialed up to 11 on these as base coated the guns back in 2020 but had just not gotten around to progressing them any further. Each time I went out to my painting desk I saw them sitting them. A sad reminder of something that I should have finished long ago!

In the end I took a couple of shortcuts and reduced the crew counts on both guns to slightly cut down the painting but to also give me so space on the bases for scenic elements. For the Bofors guns it was quite fun turning a pairs of medium rural scenic bases into large bases with a little plastic card and milliput!

Next up were the mortars and HMGs. The mortars were for my Recce Squadron where you can have a battery of six, whilst the HMGs… they were on the off chance I end up painting a second Motor Platoon and fielded a company at some point. I thought that whilst I was “in the zone” I may as well get them done now or risk never doing them.

I’m really happy to have finished these units off as it clears the way for me to start planning my next round of British painting with the Bulge book coming out later in the year, it also frees me up for a couple of detours with the Warsaw Pact and Bulge: German books both coming up…

Who knows what the future will hold on those fronts, but it is safe to say that tanks will be involved!

~Chris