Basing Your Troops

During some of my Instagram posts for Big Four Of Late-war a couple people asked about basing, so I thought I’d put together a basic basing guide. It is all pretty simple stuff, nothing fancy going on, I’ll leave that for Victor.

You can click on any of the images below for larger versions

Some preliminary notes
First off I will point out that I like to paint my miniatures before I do the basing as I find it easier to paint the miniatures lightly glued (usually with PVA) to card. This makes it easier to paint each individual miniature without the team base getting in the way. All paints are Vallejo Model Color unless stated.

Step 1
Once I’ve painting my miniatures, I paint the round base the same base colour I plan to use for my earth base colour, in this case German Camo Medium Brown (826). I then glue them into the holes on the bases, bearing in mind where any guns may go etc. I like to do this without glue first to try different arrangements out. If it is a gun team like my Nebelwerfer example, having an assembled gun available to help with the arrangement of the crew is a good idea. Once you are happy with your arrangement glue in your miniatures. For hard plastic (like my panzergrenadiers) you can use plastic glue (poly cement), but for the flexible plastic (like the Nebelwerfer crew) use super glue. Also remember to fill in any unused holes with the plastic discs that come with your bases.

Step 2
There will be a few gaps around where the bases fit into the holes. I fill these with pre-mixed interior filler. The kind of stuff you get from the hardware store for filling gaps in drywall etc. I work this around with an old paint brush. These products are usually water soluble so you can wet your brush to make it easier to push around. I also use it to add a bit more texture to the surface of the base and generally blend the miniature bases in with the rest of the base.

Step 3 (image #3 above)
After the filler is dry (it dries pretty fast, no more than an hour or so) I then spread some PVA glue in patches on the base. On top of this I sprinkle sand and other various sizes of grit. You could even add a few large stones (though keep in mind the scale of your miniatures) depending on the look you are going for. Once the glue is dry, brush off the excess loose bits with a large brush.

Step 4
Once you are sure your sand and grit is dry you can paint the base whatever earth colour you have gone for. Here I’ve used German Camo Medium Brown (826). Don’t worry too much about the base edge as you can touch that up at the end.

Step 5
Now you can give your texture a drybrush to bring out its earthy detail. I’ve put two layers of drybrushing on. First with US Field Drab Earth (873), then Cork Brown (843).

Step 6
Once the paint is dry it is time for some vegetation. I’m using a mix of two types of tufts (these are available from great a many manufacturers these days) and some static grass I mixed up myself from about three different colours. Colour is up to you, but I go for tufts and static grass that complement each other.

First I spread on some PVA glue with a brush in irregular patches.

Step 7
Then I place the tufts in position on the glue patches, before I sprinkle/dump on the static grass. Once the static grass is heaped on I press it down a bit with a brush handle. I then leave it to dry. I give this a good length of time, depending on the weather (the colder it is the longer the PVA takes to dry). Once it is dry I brush off the excess static grass into its container.
It is worth keeping in mind where you will place guns as you don’t what a particularly large tuft getting in the way of where you want your gun to go.

With infantry this is usually where you finish.

Step 8
However, if you are basing a gun team you will still have to attach your guns. Some people like to just place their guns on the base so they can change type of gun. I don’t. I like to glue mine down. I just put a spot of PVA on the points that will touch the base, like the bottom of the wheels and the end of the trails. Depending on how fluffy your flocking is you may have to apply some weight to the gun so the glue holds. With the Nebelwerfers I just rested my metal pin vice along the trail until the glue was dry.

Step 9
Another item you may have to add to a gun team is ammunition, be it unfired rounds, spent cases, or ammunition crates. These all look great and many gun kits already come with these items. Just paint them up at the same time you paint your guns. I just glue these down with PVA like I do with the guns.

Finally once all the glue is dry give the whole team a spray with a can of matt varnish. This takes the shine off the tufts and static grass, and ensures your ground texture is nice and matt.

I hope that gives you an idea about how I go about my basing.

Happy basing,

~Wayne

Whiz-bang! It’s the 15cm Nebelwerfer Battery!

The last unit I have painted from my Panzerkampfgruppe German Starter Force box is the 15cm Nebelwerfer Battery with 3x 15cm Nebelwerfers. This is worth 9 points and is a capable unit, giving good artillery stats against non-armoured targets like guns and infantry, as well as providing a Smoke Bombardment.

To fit the 9 points of Nebelwerfers in a 100 points game I’ll look at either trading the 8.8cm Heavy AA Platoon (6 points), the Panzergrenadiers’ Panzerfausts (2 points), and the Lucky Card (1 point), or more fundamentally changing the structure of my force by removing the Tigers (24 points), retaining the 88s and Panzerfausts, and making up the points with another unit of 3x Panzer IVs (16 points).

So I better look at painting that extra platoon of Panzer IVs then!

~Wayne

Customising your Schürzen

While I was building my Panzer IVs for my German: D-Day force for the Big Four Of Late-War project I thought I would customise my Schürzen bazooka skirts a little more. One of the great things about the late-war Panzer IV kit is that it already comes with a three options for modelling your Schürzen, a clean undamaged set, a miss-aligned set with some of the plates not sitting level, and a set of rails with no plates hanging from them. You could also mix these up to give your tanks a variety of looks.

I thought I’d take things a step further, and model some of my tanks with a few plates missing. This requires no extra parts, as the kit comes with all the part you need. For this example I will use the separate rails and the plain undamaged Schürzen.

Find the matching rails and Schürzen. Like the full Schürzen, there are left and right blank rails. Look carefully, you will see the little triangles on the top of the rail are arranged differently on the left and right. There is a single triangle followed by a pair at the front of the rails, while the rear of the rails have a single triangle, followed by another single triangle.

When you have your matching pair, carefully clip off the rail moulded to the full Schürzen.

Then cut off the excess rail with your hobby knife. If doesn’t matter if you can still see the impression of where the old rail was, as this will be helpful later when gluing on the new rail. Make sure you keep pairs together, putting the wrong rail on will mean the Schürzen won’t mount properly.

Now you can cut up your Schürzen. You don’t need to cut between every single plate, just around the ones you plan to remove. Score with a sharp knife between the plates on both sides, then you can simple bend them at the join until they come apart.

Next glue the rail to the plates you want to keep. Make sure you keep the discarded plates around to help you get the spacing of the gaps right. This is where the shadow or outline of the old rail will be helpful. You can see when the triangular tags on the top of the rails were and you can line the same bits on the new rail up with these. This will help you locate the rail in the correct position.

Finally you either attach your Schürzen bazooka skirts, or like myself paint the tank and skirts separately first, before gluing them on.

~Wayne

Wayne’s 100 Points Ready For Deployment

I’ve now complete my initial target of 100 points (actually 101 but whos counting!).

This is by no means the end of the journey for this force. At the moment I’m just finishing off my three 15cm Nebelwerfer rocket launchers.

I also plan to paint another four Panzer IV tanks so I can swap these with the Tigers as I feel the need. D-Day: German sees the release of some great new models that are pretty hard to resist, so I plan to add at least one Panther Tank Platoon, as well as an Sd Kfz 250 Scout Troop.

Of course I also have some Support options to round out the Force.

Other tempting developments include expanding my Armoured Panzergrenadier Platoon into a whole Armoured Panzergrenadier Company by painting an HQ and one or two more platoons, and heavy weapons units.

It is the great thing about building Germans, units can be moved about several different forces.

I’ll keep you posted,

~Wayne

Wayne Rolls Out With Infantry and 88’s

Progress is on my Panzer IV Tank Company has reached a climax. I’ve completed the last two units I need to bring my force up to 100 points (well, actually 99 or 101 points).

The first new unit is the Armoured Panzergrenadier Platoon (see page 50, D-Day: German). This unit consists of seven MG42 teams, a Panzerschreck team, and four Sd Kfz 251 half-tracks. I also plan to run them equipped with Panzerfaust anti-tank weapons. Most teams have one miniature armed with the Panzerfaust.

These are made from the plastic Panzergrenadiers that come with the Starter Army Deal. However, as I actually also split a Hit the Beach with Victor, I have a lot of these guys, so I may have mixed them up a bit during clean-up.

For the half-tracks I went with a green only camouflage to keep them a little different to the tanks. I painted the vehicle crew separately and glued them into the half-tracks before varnishing.

The second new unit is an 8.8cm Heavy AA Platoon (see page 65, D-Day: German) and consists of a pair of 8.8cm AA guns. I keep these pretty simple and didn’t bother with any camouflage. I painted the crew separately, then glued them to the base, before texturing and painting the bases. I placed the guns on the base, but not glued to work out where I could place tuffs. I didn’t want to place any tuffs where the gun might go, which would make it hard to glue down later after the flocking was done.

Afterwards I realised I had painted one too many crew, as I only need to place five crew on each gun. I had painted six, forgetting the seated gunner in my count. One less crew would have made it a little easier to position the gun on the base, but in the end it fitted anyway.

~Wayne

Wayne’s Panzer IV Tank Company Progress Report

With only a month or so until my deadline of getting 100 points finished in time for the release of D-Day: German, I think things are going well.
I have now finished my four tank units.

Panzer IV Tank Company HQ
2x Panzer IV
Panzer IV Tank Platoon
4x Panzer IV
Panzer IV Tank Platoon
4x Panzer IV
Tiger Tank Platoon
2x Tiger
That’s 79 points already!

As you have seen, if you are following our bigfouroflatewar Instagram account, I’ve started on my Armoured Panzergrenadier Platoon. I’ve got the Sd Kfz 251 half-tracks ready for crews and have the infantry teams underway.

After that there is a pair of 8.8cm AA guns and crew to complete the force.

I’m quite pleased with the tanks, and I’m looking forward to painting some more. I thought I might paint another four Panzer IVs that I can swap out for the Tigers when I feel the need.

You can check out Wayne’s first platoon of Panzer IVs here…

Mistakes were made
I discovered a couple of things I would do differently. First off, when assembling your Sd Kfz 251 half-tracks glue the drivers in before completing assembly. Secondly, don’t try and trim decals after you have removed them from the backing paper while wet, they are slippery and hard to cut.
~Wayne

Selecting The Great Big Germans

It is with great honour I join the ranks of the Big Four for our journey into Late-War Flames Of War. As we’ve outlined in the Big Four Of Late War intro article each of us is making a force for Late-war from one of the Big Four nations in WW2. I’m building the German force.

I’ll be using Fortress Europe to make my initial list and the new German Starter Force Panzer Kampfgruppe to supply the core of my models. The German Starter Force Panzer Kampfgruppe is great value and gives you an excellent selection of tanks, guns and infantry. In fact I won’t be using them all immediately, but they will be used. The StuGs have already been earmarked for expanding my Mid-war Assault Gun Company so it can be fielded in Late-war.

I’ve decided to theme my army on 2. Panzerdivision in Normandy and base it around Panzer IV tanks. In the past I’ve concentrated on Panthers and StuGs, as well as other types of assault guns, so this will be the first Late-war Panzer IV Panzer Company I’ve ever made. So using the Panzer III & IV Mixed Tank Company in Fortress Europe (page 42) I will take:

Left over from the German Starter Army are three 15cm Nebelwerfer rocket launchers and three StuG assault guns. The StuGs will go towards my period straddling Assault Gun Company, while the Nebelwerfers will be painted to be used with this army as needed. You may have noted I have a total on 10 Panzer IV tanks, but the starter army only comes with five. For the additional models I’ve split a Hit the Beach with Victor, getting three more and I also had a box of five Panzer IV H tanks at home! My German share of Hit the Beach also gives me more Panzergrenadiers and 7.5cm PaK40 guns I can use later.

I have one point left to spend which I haven’t quite decided on. I’m sure a handy Command Card will fill the gap in the future.

~Wayne

Great Big “Germans”, or should I say Austrians.

For the theme of my Panzer IV Tank Company I could have gone with one of the obvious candidates such as Panzer Lehr Division, 21. Panzerdivision, or one of the Waffen-SS Panzer divisions. However, I wanted to go with a divisions with a bit more of a war spanning history, so I chose 2. Panzerdivision.

When the Germans started expanding their army in the 1930s in defiance of the Versailles Treaty, it created its first three panzer divisions (1., 2., and 3.). 2. Panzerdivision was formed in Barvaria in Southern Germany in 1935, but after the Anschluss (the German annexation of Austria) in 1938 it moved its home barracks to Vienna. From that point on Austrians made up much of the manpower of the division.

The division participated in the campaigns in Poland (1939) and France (1940) before it returned to Poland for occupation duties (1940–1941). It took part in the 1941 Balkans campaign in Greece before it was transferred to the Eastern Front in September 1941. The division fought with Army Group Centre, including the battles of Moscow in 1941 and Kursk in 1943.

In late 1943, 2. Panzerdivision was sent to France for refitting, rather than Vienna. One battalion of Panzer-Regiment 3 was equipped with Panther A tanks, while the other was equipped with Panzer IV H tanks. Following the D-Day landings, the division was moved to Normandy where it engaged the British 50th Infantry Division and the 7th Armoured Division. It took part with its last tanks in Operation Luttich, the German counterattack at Mortain. It was later encircled in the Falaise pocket, but broke out with heavy losses in materiel and troops.

For a more detailed account of the division’s campaign in Normandy see the Flames Of War website…

It was a rather well-equipped division when it entered combat in Normandy on 12 June. It even had two Armoured Panzergrenadier battalions, rather than the normal one for a Panzer Division.

2. Panzerdivision in Normandy
Commander: Generalleutnant Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz
Chief of Staff: Oberstleutnant i.G. Rüdiger Weitz

Panzer-Regiment 3 (Oberst Traugott Köhn, killed on 20 July 1944, replaced by Major Schneider-Kostalski, killed on 7 August 1944, replaced by Oberstleutnant Carl von Wagner)
I./3 (Major Joachim von Lehsten) (79 Panther A tanks)
II./3 (Oberstleutnant Walter Koch, relieved by Major Horst Rämsch on 25 July) (96 Panzer IV H tanks)

Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 2 (Oberst Karl Brassert) (one battalion in Sd Kfz 251 half-tracks, the other motorised)

Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 304 (Major Dr. Anton Rauscher from July to August 1944, replaced by Oberstleutnant Christian Kübler) (one battalion in Sd Kfz 251 half-tracks, the other motorised)

Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment 74 (Oberstleutnant Karl-Heinz Finger) (12 Wespe, 6 Hummels, and 26 towed guns)

Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 2 (Major Bernhard von Schkopp)

Heeres-Flak-Artillerie-Abteilung 273 (eight 8.8cm FlaK36 guns)

Panzerjäger-Abteilung 38 (Major Werner Sterz) (21 Jagdpanzer IV, plus nine 7.5cm PaK40 guns, the division had a total of 25 Pak40, the other 16 were with the panzergrenadiers and the Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung)

Panzer-Pionier-Bataillon 38

Also attached to the division was 4. Kompanie of Panzer-Abteilung 301 (Funklenk) (a radio controlled demolition carrier unit armed with two Panzer III, six StuG, and 36 Bogward B IV demolition carriers).

All this equipment means I’ll have plenty of opportunities to expand my force in the future.

Nailing down the look and feel
There are lots of photos of Panzer IVs in Normandy taken during and after the campaign, however it is often hard to pin down what unit they belong to. However, tank nerds abound and usually someone else has usually identified what unit a tank belongs to. My initial quick bit of research has identify a few Panzer IV tanks as belonging to II./Panzer-Regiment 3, of 2. Panzerdivision.

As you can see the scheme is rather busy, but I think I can tone it down a bit to something like this modellers interpretation, or like in this artwork from Tank encyclopaedia.

The Panzergrenadiers’ half-tracks may be more of an issue, but I’m sure I can find something simple, yet striking I can model their camouflage scheme on.

~ Wayne

Who Are The Big Four?

Four Nations. Four People. Four Army Deals. Welcome to the Big Four Of Late War…

Victor “el Presidente” Pesch is the ring leader of Big Four, having come up with the entire concept of embarking on the Journey alongside our players. Known in the Studio for his painting prowess he spends his days wrangling Photoshop and InDesign working as a Graphic Designer, whilst his nights are spent working on whatever new project takes his fancy. He has his eyes set on an American force filled with Sherman tanks. For now…

Wayne “the Veteran” Turner is one of the longest serving employees in the company, having worked in almost every department of the company from Game Design to Production. These days he finds himself primarily working on Team Yankee, but a return to Late War has him excited to return to World War II and the chance to build his first Panzer IV based German army.

Casey “Comrade” Davies has built more Soviet models than anyone can count, with an astounding seven complete Strelkovy Companies to his name. After some debate he grabbed the new Soviet Army Deal whilst making noises about wanting to try his hand at building a new Hero Company. Like Victor he spends his days creating the books, cards and imagery that you see whenever you play a game of Flames Of War (or Team Yankee).

Chris “The Magpie” Townley is always looking forward to the next project, even before he has finished whatever is currently sitting on the painting table. He spends his time pouring over spreadsheets and planning documents, all the while looking over the writers shoulders trying to noodle his “next big project”. For Chris, the Late War Journey is a chance to finally build that British Sherman company that he has been planning for almost 10 years…

To follow their individual progress you can click on the handy icons over on the right hand menu, as well as checking out the groups Instagram feed to see plenty of behind-the-scenes activity. Over the next few years there will also be plenty of great content coming from the rest of the Battlefront family so don’t forget to keep an eye on the Flames Of War website for this, as well as all the latest news and information on what is happening.

~The Big Four Of Late War

The Big Four Of Late War – A Flames Of War Journey

On June 6, 1944, thousands of men were nervously waiting in landing craft, transport aircraft and bunkers as the fate of the world rested on their shoulders. The liberation of Europe was about to begin.

75 years later, across the world, thousands of gamers are preparing to embark on a journey of their own as Flames Of War returns to Late War. Starting with Fortress Europe and the D-Day series of books Battlefront will spend the next four years extensively covering the fighting in Europe through 1944 to 1945.

For gamers this is an amazing opportunity to grow a new army from nothing, starting by choosing a nation, a theme and then selecting the models that they want to use as the basis for their army. Then, over the next four years as each new theatre is explored, they will be able to add new units to their force, just like the real armies of World War II.

At the beginning of the journey, the humble Sherman will be fighting head to head versus the dreaded Tiger tank, whilst as the war progresses the King Tiger, Pershing and IS tanks will change the shape and nature of the battlefield. These changes will make the shared journey through Late War that much more interesting and dynamic as we, the commanders of the battlefield, pick the best forces available to us on the day, whilst looking forward to the next “wonder weapon” that will ensure that we will be victorious in tomorrows battles.

Collectively we (the “Big Four” – more on who we are later) have been playing Flames Of War for around 50 years and we think that the Late War Journey is the one of the most exciting things to happen to the game since its original release back in 2001. Now, with people all around the world taking their first look at Late War and building new armies, we wanted to come on the journey with you and take a fresh look at our favourite period of Flames Of War.

This will be like no “Tale of Four Gamers” series of articles that you might have seen in the past. Instead it will be an epic journey (one with Tanks instead of Ringwraiths) that will take part over four years…

Starting with the release of Fortress Europe we will be creating armies using our new Army Deals as the basis, building and painting from scratch, and then getting them on the tabletop to play some games.

During the course of the first year, we (just like you) will be able to access new units and Formations as the D-Day series of books is released. This will give us the chance to tweak our armies by selecting new organisations or building and painting new models. On the Big Four Of Late War website you will be able to see our finished efforts, as well finding out what we are planning on working on next.

If you want to keep up with what we are up to on a day-by-day basis you can also follow our Instagram feed where we will be showing off progress photos as we build and paint the models.

At the conclusion of the Journey we will have built entire new armies, filled with great new models, as well as having played a pile of games as we try to find out who is the biggest of the Big Four.

We look forward to you coming on the trip with us…

~The Big Four Of Late War