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.
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!
With the next Late-war book out after Bulge: American being Bulge: German I thought I would update you on what I’ve been painting since the release of Bagration: German. I’ve added to my forces I’d built for D-Day: German with entire company of Panzer IV/70s, some Panthers, and Flakpanzer AA tanks. If I was to field everything I’d painted since I began my Germans for Big Four of Late-war I have over 280 points, and I still have more things to finish just from these first two German books, let alone all the goodies coming with the release of Bulge: German.
Here is a breakdown of the units I added from Bagration: German: 11x Panzer IV/70, 3x Panther, and 4x Wirbelwind/Ostwind. The Wirbelwind/Ostwind kit can be built as either, so I did both.
I probably go mostly with the Ostwind as it is a better anti-aircraft weapon with longer range and better firepower, though the Wirbelwind does put more shots in the air with its higher ROF.
Before Bulge: German comes out, I do have 4x Hetzers to finish off. I’ve painted them dunkelgelb, but I’m still deciding on a camouflage scheme for them.
I also plan to paint some transport for my second Panzergrenadier Platoon and maybe a headquarters so I can begin turning them into a formation. Then would follow the weapons platoons etc, but this isn’t a high priority while I’m also working on my French Rifle Company from Bulge: American (more about that later).
Once I clear these, the next models will be coming from Bulge: German, from which there are so many units and formations to choose from.
Over the past few months I have been clearing out a few projects that have been lingering on my painting desk, trying to make some space for some upcoming plans. One of the projects that has been weighing heavily on my mind is my Romanian force from Bagration: Axis Allies. Thanks to all sorts of disruptions this year around the world and with our factory in Malaysia the army only got so far before everything ground to a halt. This resulted in the last two units (the aircraft and infantry) sitting on the side of my desk or a seafreight container in the Pacific ocean.
Thankfully one of those two units has finally made the leap from painting desk to the tabletop..
Originally I was only going to paint a unit of HS-129’s, they are cheaper after all, but I decided to paint a pair of Stukas as well since four planes doesn’t take that much longer to paint than two. It also gives me an option for aircraft with bombs…
whilst the HS-129s are my cannon option. They are also such wierd looking aircraft (compared with other WW2 planes) that I just had to have them.
I also tried something new by flocking up the flight stand bases, and making a set of tall stands for the Stukas (since they are dive bombing) and short stands for the HS-129s (for those low cannon passes).
I chose a simple two colour scheme with a dark green and light green, along with the iconic King Michael’s Crosses and yellow fuselage bands. The crosses help to make them look a little less German.
I’m not entirely happy with how the planes came out in the end and there are definitely some things I would do differently if I were to paint them again. However I am putting them in the win column as they are done and they provide a really interesting unit to the army.
I’ve been taking a break from painting Winter Soviets as I burnt myself out getting my army ready for the Panzerschreck tournament earlier this year.
With Bulge: American hitting the shelves shortly Victor started making comments suggesting that I’d taken a long enough break and that if I wasn’t going to paint any more Soviets in the short term, that I had to start a new Winter themed American army.
I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to jump into a new winter army… but Victor surprised me the other day by posting on Instagram to ask the community if I should do it… and the next thing you know is I’ve been convinced to start a new army.
Since Victor instigated this new army, and is the American expert in the Big Four, I asked him to design me a 100 point single formation list that maximises the number of new models while keeping the overall model count low. Here’s what he came up with:
Veteran Sherman Tank Company.
Veteran M4 Sherman (Late) Tank Company HQ (14 Points)
1x M4 Jumbo (75mm)
1x M4 Sherman (late 76mm)
I think the list is quite solid, and I’ll be able to paint up all of the extra turrets for the M4 Sherman and Jumbo tanks to give me a few options.
Like my winter Soviets, this isn’t the first time I’ve attempted to paint an American winter themed force. The last time was many years ago during a 24 hour painting challenge, where I really wasn’t happy with the results…the basecoat was too dark and the whitewash went on too thick.
For this army I’m going to take my time and do it properly. There aren’t that many photos of whitewashed American tanks around, but one thing I am going to do is paint one of the Jumbos up as Cobra King, First In Bastogne.
Like my Soviets I’m going to be going for quite a work whitewash look, and am particularly inspired by Cody Kwok’s larger scale Thunderbolt VI.
Here’s the last of my AFV’s I plan to do for my Hungarian force. These are all the German supplied vehicles, so it was fun to do a mix of different looking units to go along side my Zrinyi’s.
The Panthers were the first ones I painted, and I’d say the ones I’m least happy with. I applied too much green camo, as I was trying to tie them in with the Zrinyis. I think this was a mistake and made them too dark, but otherwise they turned out ok.
I’m much happier with the StuGs. They’re very simple, but I find the plain dunkelgelb suits the models.
For the big numbers on the shurtzen, I used the Gulf War number decals from the WWIII: Britsh pack. I made the “7” using part of an “A” trimmed down and painted the top line.
Lastly was the Hetzers, which I went for a mix of the above two, using a simple green camo but with plenty of dunkelgelb still showing.
I now have a lot of options for running different assault gun formations (or even two at once!). Later down the road I will add infantry to this army, as well as some recon. But for now, it’s time to get back to my Americans…
With Panzerschreck well and truly done for the year I figured I should stop being a softie, put on my comfy pants and head out to the (fairly cold) garage and finish off my Romanian half-tracks and recon elements.
With everything that is going on at our factory in Malaysia right now I don’t have my infantry so the half-tracks are looking a little bare – I’ll go back later and add one or two figures to each one just to give them a little more life. But even without some figures I like how they are looking!
My Sd Kfz 222 recon platoon is my only non-plastic unit (so far) but is an absolute no-brainer. Cheap machine-gun carriers that can also take out other armoured cars and light armour.
On both units the use of the Michael’s Cross really adds some colour and pop to the vehicles which have other been airbrushed Vallejo Olive Grey (888) with some drybrushing to help the colour pop a little more.
I can’t wait to see how they look on a table alongside my German Yellow Panzers!
Next up on my list are the HS-129s and (maybe) a pair of Stukas for when I want bombs. I figure that if I am painting two planes, then four can’t be that much extra work…
The ability (and freedom) to travel to a tournament, hang out with friends and play some games has been something that most gamers have been able to take for granted. After a year (or more) of lockdowns, cancelled events, and the need to maintain some sort of social distance here in New Zealand, things are returning to normal and events are happening with a little more regularity. One of our favourite events of the year is always Panzerschreck – the oldest Flames Of War tournament in the world. There is no one reason as to why it is great, it really is the combination; the road trip down with friends, the short stops to shop, climbing over tanks at the National Army Museum, hanging out with resident sculptor Evan, catching up with friends, too much eating, winning (or losing) some games, and then finishing it with a post-tournament “what went wrong, what are we doing next year” cathartic road trip back home!
Road Trips, Shopping, Eating and Tanks!
This year the four of us crammed in to a rental Jeep Cherokee, which should have been big enough but thanks to a small pile of orders we were taking down for customers we ended up filling every available space with gear, miniatures, or clothes. I think next year we are going to need a bigger boat… I mean car! The road trip really is all about hanging out, talking about work, gaming, life and everything else going on. There is also time for a fair amount of pre-tournament smack talk! Our trips each year take a similar course (unless snow gets in the way) with a stop in Hamilton (about 90 minutes in to our journey) to swing by one of our favourite gaming shops (Games Centre) for a chat and to pick up any “essentials”. Short on space this year some of those essentials kept falling from their precarious perch in the back of the car on to Victors head… Hamilton is also a good spot for a coffee and sausage roll (an NZ delicacy!).
Back on the road we then have a quick 2 hour sprint down to Taupo in the middle of the North Island. Marking the halfway point it is a great chance to have lunch (yes we do always stop at the same Turkish restaurant each year!) and swing by our next hobby shop; Taupo Hobbies. We didn’t end up adding to the load this time (which was a surprise) but it didn’t stop us having a really good look and contemplating the idea of building some rather larger World War II naval models!
Next stop is Waiouru and the home of the New Zealand Army Museum. We normally arrive too late to hit the gift/book shop but we are always prepared to brave the cold to check out some of New Zealand’s tank history parked out the front. There is nothing like climbing up on a Centurion (or even the Scorpion) to give the models that we play with a real sense of scale. With this taken care of it is the final push to Palmerston North and Evan’s house… A total trip of around 512km (318 miles) in a very leisurely 11 hours!
Stalin Approved – Casey and Chris’ Experience
The weekend turned in to a glorious mess of dice, explosions (some on the table and some in our heads), great opponents and fun games so I can’t give a breakdown of the individual games… and based on our performance I am not sure anyone wants my tactical advice. So what went right or wrong? Casey’s army was fantastic to play with, not only was it really well painted but it was a great combination of models. In hindsight though we really could have dropped one of our infantry units and replaced it with a template delivery device. Any sort would have done; Katyushas or SU-76 assault guns being my preference, but anything would have been useful. The IS-2s were great at knocking out dug-in troops IF they hit. I spent most of the weekend looking for 5’s and often 6’s to hit. In one game I literally got 2 hits in 6 turns, with 10 tanks. The IS-2’s did excel in surviving however with their armour allowing them to stand up to any opposition and hang around, and what they hit generally stayed hit!
Casey’s T-34/85 company found itself doing a lot of the heavy lifting over the weekend, rushing flanks, having gun-fights, being assaulted (and counter-attacking) and generally being in the mix. Of course this meant that they didn’t tend to survive! Casey may have wished once or twice over the weekend that they still had the front armour 7 of the “good old days!”
Favourite Game: Too hard to pick… our loss to Tom and Alex with their Elefants was a hard fought game of manoeuvre and thrust that could have gone either way, whilst our narrow victory vs Bob and Steve could have just as easily been
a loss if not for the resilience of the IS-2 and their ability to go head-to-head with Tigers.
Hungarian Hooves and Howitzers a.k.a. Triple H – Victor and Wayne’s Weekend
Wayne has always been a fan of Hungarians in Flames Of War, and I’ve caught the bug too, especially with the Zrínyi. The release of Bagration: Axis-Allies was going to fall shortly before Panzerschreck, so it made sense to take my new Zrínyi force, and Wayne being my usual team mate, I knew he would have plenty of Hungarian units to build a force to go with mine. Then Wayne said “But I want to paint something new for the tournament”, and I said something silly like “You should paint a full Huszar Squadron!” Thus our team was formed. We knew it wasn’t going to dominate the tabletop, but we were hoping for some funny moments and glorious cavalry charges.
Unfortunately when it came to the games, we found ourselves defending against heavy tanks, or attacking elite MG infantry. This isn’t to say the games weren’t fun, just that there weren’t as many chances for a good cavalry charge as we would’ve liked. It’s lucky Wayne painted the dismounted versions of his platoons too, as they were great in defence. The Zrínyi’s on the other hand did great work, and their bombardments were quite effective. The Panthers kept our opponent’s tanks cautious, which kept our Zrínyi’s alive in most of our games.
Overall the tournament was a lot of fun, and was great seeing familiar faces that we missed out on last year.
The Long Road Home
With the weekend’s gaming over and done with (and after a good nights rest) we headed home on the Monday morning, stopping for a coffee and a tank of gas. Based on the comments from the back seat the coffee may have been made by Baldrick during World War I so next year we might find somewhere better than going with “hey Google, where can we get a coffee?”
The drive north is a lot like the drive south, just with different stops (the Army Museum book shop which is now open, Subway, since everything else was busy in Taupo, and Gaming DNA in Hamilton) and conversation that revolves around what went right, what went wrong, and what we are taking next year (140 points, Mid War, doubles! Oh yeah!). Stay tuned for some initial thoughts over the coming months on what we might like to build.
As always Panzerschreck is a blast and this year was no different. Roll on 2022!
Panzerschreck is only a week away and we are getting ready for a big weekend away! In preparation we thought it would be a good idea if we actually played a game with our armies… and best of all we thought it would be a great idea to invite you all along to watch and give us some tactical feedback!
Casey and Chris… Stalin Approved
Wayne and Victor – Hungarian Hooves and Howitzers
We thought it would be fun to play the Counterattack Mission as it really gives us a chance to maneuver the armies and have some fun. Plus it means one team will need to make hard decisions about what to put into their Reserves!
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