Battle Report – Casey VS Victor

The first battle of the Big Four took place this weekend, both to celebrate the launch of D-Day: American, and a good excuse for Victor to put his new army to the test.

The Forces:
Victor used his recently finished American tank force. He’s hoping it will provide a good mix of tools, and the veteran status 4+ to hit should help mitigate any poor tactical choices.

Casey revisited an old force he used to run, based around Hermann Goring Division in Italy. Fortress Europe allows you field a mix of Panzer III & IV’s, so Casey came up with the below list using Battlefronts Studio models.

Setup and Deployment:
The table was set up with a third being a small town, the opposite third bocage, and the middle forest and fields. The bocage was just played as hedges, but when Casey finishes more of his terrain it would be cool to do a full bocage battle.

Contact was decided as the mission, and Casey chose to defend from the fields, with the Tigers in Ambush and two Panzer Platoons in reserve. Victor spread his units out to cover both objectives, but he would need his reserves, 76mm Shermans and Stuarts, to arrive quickly to reinforce his initial units.

Turn 1:
Victor failed to bring a reserve unit on, so simply moved his M10’s and 75mm Shermans forward for better firing positions next turn.

He may have been forgetting something though, as Casey pounced on the Shermans with his ambushing Tigers. They eliminated two of them, while the Panzers in the fields chose to remain Gone To Ground.

Turn 2:
Again no reserves for Victor. The 75mm Shermans were forced to get out of the sights of the Tigers, and instead aiming for the Panzer HQ, as did the M10’s, but both units were unsuccessful in scoring any hits.

Casey’s Tigers, having tasted blood advanced forward and fired on the Sherman HQ but were not as deadly this time. Meanwhile the Luchs pushed for the objective on the far side of the town, and the Panzers in the field punished the M10s for revealing themselves and scored one kill.

Turn 3:
Victor now got his automatic reserve, and choose to bring on the 76mm’s, dashing them up the road to pressure the Panzers. The three remaining 75mm Shermans now in position opened fire on the Panzer HQ and destroyed both tanks. The M10’s however continued to miss the Panzers. It’s also worth mentioning that the Priests had been trying to range in on the Panzers every turn but no luck.

Casey started rolling for his Delayed Reserves now but he’d have to continue to wait. The Tigers returned the favour and killed Victors Company HQ, leaving both forces leaderless. The Luchs drove even closer to the objective.

Turn 4:
The American’s last reserve unit arrived and not a moment too soon. The Stuarts moved on to the objective and engaged the Luchs, killing one. Victor tried something different with the Priests and dashed them up to backup the 76mm Shermans. He used the 76mm Shermans to great effect and killed two Panzers and bailed a third. The 75mm Shermans and M10’s decided to fire on the Tigers, but their armour proved too much.

Casey got his first reserve Panzers and rolled the corner in the bocage. They immediately got to work and killed a 76mm through the hedges, and bailed two more. His Tigers moved forward to get a better angle on the M10s but missed with their 2 shots. The Luchs were also unlucky with the newly arrived Stuarts.


Turn 5:
Victor knew he needed to close on the Germans, and so moved his M10’s forward. Luckily they delivered, and killed a Tiger. The Priests Blitzed up to the hedges to direct fire on the fresh Panzer Platoon, and scored one kill. The Stuarts and 76mm Shermans were also hot with their shooting, killing a Luchs and a Panzer respectively.

At the beginning of Casey’s turn he had to make Last Stand tests for both the Panzer platoon in the field, and the Luchs. Unfortunately they both failed and sent their tanks and crews running.

However Casey still had one unit to come on from Reserve, his third Panzer Platoon, which arrived in the perfect spot to finish off all 3 remaining 75mm Shermans. The rest of his force wasn’t so lucky, only managing to bail a 76mm.

Turn 6:
The 76mm Shermans drove up the road to contest the objective, and to get shots through the gap in the hedges. They fired on the Panzer Platoon and scored two kills, thanks in part to Lafayette Pool ignoring the +1 to hit with Stabilisers. The M10’s repeated what worked for them before, and eliminated the last Tiger. This left two out of four of Casey’s Formation units destroyed, with a third on the brink.

Casey was forced to make another last stand check, this time for the second Panzer Platoon. Their fate was the same was the others, so with all but one Panzer Platoon destroyed, Casey’s Formation broke. Pool’s platoon was also on the objective, so a convincing American win.

A close game that looked to be in Casey’s favour in the first few turns, but turns 5 and 6 really swung it to the Americans.

I was glad to get the win here, but I would say I have a lot to learn about running American armour. In a battle like this the Priests would’ve probably been better served laying down smoke while my tanks pushed forward to out flank. Long range and concealment made scoring hits tough going, but the M10’s getting lucky with the Tigers really helped. And of course the hero of the day was Lafayette Pool (when he finally turned up), breaking the German company and securing an objective.

Well that was a blast. I knew the game was going to come down to getting reserves at the right time in the right place. I was quite happy with the performance of the Panzers that started on the table. I always figured they were going to have a difficult time against the sheer number of tanks on the table. I think if my first reserve had of turned up on the first turn of rolling, and if the second platoon had of come onto the table in a more use full place then I think I would have won.

In hindsight I should have probably waited until the 76mm Shermans arrived and sprung my ambush against them. I was just too eager to get some runs on the board.

Fighting First

It’s been a “Fury”ous month of painting for me, but there’s nothing like finishing a whole new army ready to hit the table.

 

I’ve achieved my goal of having 100 points finished in time for the launch weekend, even if I’m tactically using the more expensive Veteran formation, and soaking 5 points into command cards… and most importantly I still have the enthusiasm to paint more!

I’ll putting the force to the test against Casey tomorrow to celebrate the release of D-Day: American.

~ Victor

Priest and M10 Showcase

With these two platoons completed, I now have all the units for my first 100 point list. These were both a nice change of pace from painting tanks.

The techniques and colours for these was the same as with the tanks, but the Priests offered the chance to do some crew.

For the observer I decided to leave the camo off, to make him little different, and maybe he’s an older tank they had kicking around. I used the early transmission cover as well.

With the M10’s I used the roof that comes with the kit, as a way to speed up painting time (no crew or machine-gun) and because I quite liked the look. After completing them though, it does make me want to do my second platoon later with open tops. I like the way the Priests turned out so I’m not so scared of doing crew now!

– Victor

M5 Stuart (37mm) Showcase

Progress on my force has been going well, and now I have my third unit complete. These M5 Stuarts are my third combat platoon, so I only have the support left to do; M10’s and Priests.

 

It was a nice change to work on some smaller vehicles, and also something with hard edges (compared to the rounded Shermans). It’s tempting to do 7 more of them to make a formation out of them, but for now I’m committed to getting my 100 point list finished by 5th July.

– Victor

M4 Sherman (76mm) Showcase

My second platoon is now finished, giving me a Sherman company with 2 platoons. I only did 4 more 76mm Shermans to join my test model to make it a platoon of 5.

Painting for these was exactly the same as with the 75mm’s, but instead this time I used the camo template I found to copy. In some ways this was easier as a had something to copy, but also it was nice having the freedom to put the camo patches wherever. Going forward I think I’ll do a mix a strict to template, and free form, to give my force variety.

– Victor

M4 Sherman (75mm) Showcase

It’s always great finishing a platoon, where you can see all your work come together across a small group of vehicles. It always motivates me to crack on with the next unit. These 75mm Shermans give me my formation HQ and 1st platoon. I really enjoyed working on them, especially the decals which give them the finishing touch.

M4 Sherman Company HQM4 Sherman (75mm) Platoon

Above – a close up of Victor’s Formation Command tank.

Left – Victor couldn’t resist the opportunity to add shoulder patches to his Formation Commander.

– Victor

 

Would you like to know more?

Everyone likes the classic Sherman tank in its olive drab glory. When I first started this journey, I was imagining hordes of plain green vehicles, and I would’ve been totally happy with that. But then I had to go and research didn’t I?…

While it’s not as prolific as what the Germans were doing, the Americans started to use camo on their vehicles during Operation Overlord. A quick Google search turned up some good examples, whilst in other photos it’s sometimes hard to tell if there is camo or not as in black in white the two paints have similar values. Here’s the best examples I could find.

While trying to find more detail, I found this piece of text from an AK Interactive book called “Colors Of WWII”, which I think tells a cool story of how it came about.

This also led me to the names of Field Manuals which I proceeded to hunt down scanned copies of (click on each of these images below for larger versions).

Inside these were brief instructions, guides and templates for crew to use to apply the camo; exactly the kind of info I was looking for!

There’s still much debate as to whether the practice of applying camo continued much beyond the breakout of Normandy, but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to assume some keen commanders kept it up as vehicles got replaced in their companies.

With all this in mind, and since I was pleased with how my test Sherman turned out, I’ve decided to commit to doing camo across the whole army. It should make my force look a little unique but there’s also historical justification for it which is important to me.

Soon I’ll have my first platoon of Sherman’s finished and then I’ll have a real sense of how the camo looks across a bunch of tanks.

– Victor

 

In The Mood

Previously I mentioned how I like to do a test model before I begin a large army. In this case I’ve chosen to do Lafayette Pool’s M4A1 76mm Sherman “In The Mood”, for a few reasons:

  • If I end up learning from it and changing the painting plan for the rest of the force, it’ll be ok that my warrior looks slightly different.
  • I want to try black camo on at least one tank, and Pool’s tank certainly has some camo.
  • I was eager to paint the new plastic kit!

With a project as big as this I felt it was worth completing a full model to completion, but sometimes a spare hull top is enough to try out colours.

I started as I usually do with a black primer, and then airbrushed on Brown Violet. Next, I added some Buff (about 75/25 Brown Violet/Buff) and airbrushed most of the upper surfaces, and then added even more Buff (about 50/50 now) and did some rough panel fading.

Switching from airbrush to brush, I dry brushed on German Camo Beige. This picked out all the raised edges and toned down some of my rough airbrushing. I then applied a very thinned down black wash, followed by a second dry brush of German Camo Beige to tidy up the wash.

Next it was time to try out the camo. The obvious choices would be to either airbrush on black for a soft-edged pattern, or brush on black for hard-edged.

From looking at photos and artists renderings of pool’s tanks, it seemed to me brushed on would be the best approach, as even though the real camo would have likely been sprayed on, from a distance and at our scale the edges would appear hard anyway.

I wanted a way to try retain some of the shading I had done with the olive drab colour. This was my eureka moment… Black wash!

I painted on patches of Black Wash, loosely copying some photos. This way my airbrush shading and dry brush shows through, and the tank looks like it’s highlighted consistently across the base colour and camo colour. I also liked that it gives a sort of faded look, and not a solid deep black, which is the impression I get from photos. It needed two coats to give me the contrast I was happy with, but the second coat goes quickly as I’d already traced out the pattern.

With the base and camo complete, it was time for details. I didn’t do anything too adventurous here; Beige Brown for tool handles, Gunmetal for tools and machine-guns, German Grey for rubber, etc. These all got a black wash as well.

Lastly was decals, which I kept to a minimum this time as Pool’s tank seems to have been pretty bare. I had a go at writing “IN THE MOOD” on the sides of the tank, just as Pool would’ve done.

Oh, and you may have noticed the pink rectangle on the engine deck. More on that another time…

I’m really pleased with how this Sherman has turned out, and luckily, I don’t think I’ll need to change anything about the process going forward. It’s quick, easily repeatable, and I’m happy with the result, so it’s ticking all the boxes for me.

The only thing left to decide now is if I want to continue the black camo across the whole force. I certainly like the look, but I’d like to find out more about the application and how common it was.

Time to do some research…

– Victor
* All colours referenced are Vallejo Model Colour.

A Good Plan Violently Executed…

My goal is to have many American unit options painted, but I want an initial 100 point list to work towards so I can start getting some games in.

I promptly grabbed the American Starter Force and I’ll use all of the models from it in my first list, except the Armoured Rifle Platoon (I’ll save them to do a full Armoured Rifle company eventually).

I also split a ‘Hit The Beach’ set with Wayne which gave me more Shermans and a Parachute Rifle Platoon to make use of later.

Between the starter force and ‘Hit The Beach‘ I’ve ended up with 13 Shermans, which gives me enough for a company with two platoons of five tanks, plus one spare to be a Sherman Observation Post for the Priests.

The last acquisition will be to steal a spare M5 Stuart sprue from Chris’s desk to take the starter force platoon from 3 to 4 tanks.

Since the American Starter force is designed for D-Day: American, I’ll be building the list from that book instead of Fortress Europe.

Veteran M4 Sherman Tank Company
HQ: 2x M4 Sherman (75mm) Tanks – 9 points

5x M4 Sherman (76mm) Tanks – 28 points
Command Card – Lafayette Poole – 4 points

5x M4 Sherman (75mm) Tanks – 21 points

4x M5 Stuart (37mm) Tanks – 10 points

4x M10 (3-inch) Tank Destroyers – 16 points

3x M7 Priest (105mm) Self-Propelled Artillery – 8 points

1x M4 Sherman OP (75mm) Tank – 3 points

Command Card – Lucky – 1 point

100 points

The advantages of using D-Day: American over Fortress Europe are:
– 76mm Shermans
– Veteran option (4+ to hit instead of 3+)
– Command Cards

I’ve included Lafayette Poole as I often like to use Warriors, and he’ll be a good test model to figure out my painting scheme. If I end up learning from it and changing the painting plan for the rest of the force, it’ll be ok that my warrior looks slightly different.

I feel this is a balanced tank list that gives me a solid foundation to build upon, and is also an achievable amount of models to get painted quickly. I plan to tackle painting one platoon at a time, starting with the 75mm Shermans, and the aim is to have the list painted in time for the release of D-Day American (approximately one platoon per week!).

Wish me luck!

~ Victor

Breaking Out With Americans

When we started work on V4 Late-War, I began thinking of all the new armies I could build. There’s so many exciting options but I wanted to find something new that I hadn’t painted before. It wasn’t until I was halfway through working on D-Day: American that I realised: I’ve never made an American army!

I’d always liked the idea of an American Sherman army, and the tank itself is really iconic. I guess I normally trend towards heavy tanks as it means less painting, so I came up with the “Big Four of Late War” journey as a way to push myself out of my usual habits. Then it was just a matter of finding three suckers to join me to make the name work…

Some people might find the idea of painting a horde of Olive Drab tanks a bit dull and… drab… but I see it as something I can turn into a positive! My goal for this journey we’re embarking on is to have an American force that is all cohesive in the way it looks, so that I’m able to swap in and out units to build any American list I want.

All of my previous Flames Of War armies over the past 10 years have been based around a very specific battle or division (Market Garden FJ, Welsh Guards Cromwells, Late T-34’s in Berlin, to name a few) which meant once the army was complete, it remained as is without any list building flexibility. They also often had advanced painting techniques used and specific camo schemes or markings that while they were fun and satisfying to do, were often hard to repeat on a new unit (especially months later if I hadn’t written my process down!).

With my new Late-War Americans I want to figure out painting steps that are easily repeatable, so I can add units to change up my lists and grow my collection as we progress through the war. I’m much more a painter than a gamer though, so it has to be something I’ll be happy with and proud of.

This lead me to think about camouflage options for American AFV. I had seen black camo patches over olive drab before, but hadn’t ever looked into how common it was. So I plan to do a bit of research on it to educate myself, and see if it’s viable for a full army.


In any case it’s something I want to try painting, at least on one tank.

As with most of my army projects, I do a test piece to try out colours and techniques before committing to the full army. Sometimes it’s a spare hull top from a previously completed kit, but this time I want to finish a full tank to work out the painting steps from start to finish. Then I can judge it and see if there’s anything I’d do differently for the full force.

So stay tuned to see my first experiment…

~Victor