Thunder In The Skies

My American army is growing nicely and I have a few unit options now for list building. To add something new to the arsenal I decided to complete some air support; a pair of P-47 Thunderbolts!

As with most historical painting projects I tackle, I first spend a lot of time in Google image search. I hadn’t looked into American WW2 aircraft much before, and only really had the Flames Of War box cover examples to go by. I wanted to see what else was out there, and found quite a few examples with a simple yellow canard and not many other markings.

I liked the bare metal look which made these a nice break from painting olive drab vehicles.

I did however learn that the anti reflective strip down the top of the fuselage was sometimes olive drab instead of black, so this was a nice way of tying them in to the rest of my force.

I’ve never used aircraft in a game before so I’m looking forward to trying them out and seeing if they can help me deal with those pesky Tigers!

– Victor

Div Arty, All In!

When working on my 105mm Howitzers I wanted to give them a lot of spent shells to show they’ve been busy!

Here’s how I did it.

I decided to use plasticard rod as it’s easy to cut to the length I need. You could instead use brass rod. This would have advantage of being the right colour so wouldn’t require painting, but the downside is it’s a lot harder to cut (especially when doing a lot of shells!) and the cuts will often need to be filed smooth.

I used the loader figure that comes with the guns to approximate the thickness of the rod I’d need, and how long to make them. You could be extra expert and convert the real world measurements to 1/100!

To make them easy to paint, I mounted them to a popsicle stick with double sided tape. This holds them fairly well along as you don’t go too heavy with the brush work.

To paint them I brushed on black primer (but you could spray them) and then did two coats of Vallejo Brass.

Once dry I removed them from the mounting, and painted the end that was stuck down with black, to emulate the hollow end of a spent shell. I also went around the edge with brass again.

All that’s left to do is glue them onto the bases with superglue. I chose to do it after flocking and really push them into the grass.

Hopefully this helps you get your artillery teams looking the part on the table. You could also use this method for spent shells on mobile artillery engine decks!

Click on the image to the left for a much bigger version…

~Victor

All American, All Finished!

At the beginning of our Late-War Journey Wayne and I split a Hit The Beach box to give us extras to add to our Starter Army boxes. I’ve slowly been chipping away at the plastic Paratroopers and I can finally show them off!

I had a lot of fun painting these Paras, even though it took me a long time. I’ve accepted that my infantry painting speed is lacking but the end result makes me happy.

Since my American army is being planned to cover all of the Late-War period, I decided to go with the more green uniform introduced after Normandy. This means they’ll look at home for battles during Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge, and the push across the Elbe River. I used Vallejo US Dark Green and added Buff for highlights.

Painting the flag and unit patches was a fun challenge, but actually easier than I anticipated. I spent a while debating whether to go with ‘Screaming Eagles’ or ‘All American’. After polling the fine folks following us on our Instagram account, I went with the 82nd Airborne Division. The added bonus is that their patch uses the same colours as the flag on the opposite shoulder. I used Vallejo Deck Tan, Flat Red, and Dark Blue.

The basing was done using the plastic Rural bases, and a combination of Gamer Grass tufts, and GF9 Winter/Dead Static Grass.

With a basing style established I already have plans of doing an Armoured Rifle Company, but for now I need go paint something other than infantry to cleanse the palette.

~ Victor

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.