The Carentan Clash Battle Report

Here in the Battlefront Studio we have been counting down to a couple of very exciting events, first up is the Global Online Campaign. This is being run in conjunction with the guys at OnTableTop (formally known as Beasts of War) and is a chance to play games over 6 weeks and recreate the fighting on D-Day and beyond. The other is FlamesCon, the annual Flames Of War tournament. This year the Big Four are making a big push, with Victor, Wayne and I (Chris) taking our armies along for a weekend of fun gaming. With all of this going on Wayne and I thought it would be a great opportunity to play a practice game, at the same time getting a battle for the Campaign under our belts.

The Forces:
We both used the first 100 points that we painted during the Big Four Journey, with Wayne’s army based around a Panzer IV Company with Tigers, Panzer Grenadiers and 88s in support.

I used my Sherman Company, packed with Firefly tanks and their excellent 17pdr guns. In support are Stuarts (for their Spearhead), 25pdrs and (of course) M10s.

Setup and Deployment:
We decided to play Outflanked, one of the new missions in the D-Day: German book. This meant Wayne’s forces would start in a corner of the battlefield, trying to hold out till his reserves arrived. My forces would come on from my side of the table, as well as a little dog-leg section up to the middle of the table near No-Man’s Land.

The table had a raised road and small village, each splitting the table into thirds. Wayne chose the corner where the village would help shield him from my flanking forces and deployed in concealed positions. I spread my forces out along the deployment area, wanting to push across a broad front, as well as taking a small Spearhead on the side to give my flanking troops a head start.

Turn 1:
I aggressively pushed up, hoping that the dice would help me to overcome Wayne’s concealed and gone-to-ground status. I, of course, regretted that decision as the fire from my entire army only knocked out a single Panzer IV inside the town. Wayne ambushed his 88s in a small forest, but failed to get reserves, and then proceeded to fail his Blitz on the Panzer IV platoon. Undaunted by these setbacks his fire was accurate and deadly, knocking out 6 tanks and bailing 1 more. A lesson for new players – don’t get caught in the open, especially at close range!

Turn 2:
The surviving British tanks pushed up and took cover where possible, whilst the M10s lined up some Panzers, only killing one for their troubles. The 25pdrs dropped a barrage on the 88’s, pinning them down. Wayne, feeling pretty happy coming through the turn with relatively few casualties failed to get reserves, or unpin his 88’s, rethought his levels of happiness! He proceeded to dash his flanking Panzer IV platoon around the back of the table to reinforce the middle, and then managed to knock out another Sherman with the combined fire of his units.

Turn 3:

The remaining Sherman in the village found itself in Bad Spirits and ran off the table – three-tank platoons can get a little dicey under heavy fire! The flanking Shermans and Stuarts pushed up aggressively, with the Stuarts parking themselves on the objective (not live yet, but it was still a threat that Wayne needed to plan for), managing to knock out a Panzer IV in the side. The M10s continued moving up, knocking out another Panzer, whilst the repeat bombardment from the 25pdrs accounted for an 88. Wayne’s reserves finally turned up, with a Panzer IV Platoon and Tiger Platoon making an appearance. Being forced to fire on the move they only managed to knock a Stuart and M10 with their collective fire.

Turn 4:

The Stuarts decided to continue their advance, driving up the escarpment to flank the newly arrived Panzers, knocking out one, whilst the M10s killed another and bailed a Tiger. The ever reliable 25pdrs knocked out the remaining 88. The few remaining Sherman (and Firefly) tanks also accounted for another Panzer IV. Faced with such heavy firepower the Panzer IVs ran off the table, leaving the Panzer Grenadiers (newly arrived from reserve) and Tigers to hold down the middle.

Wayne managed his first Blitz move of the game with the Tigers, allowing them to kill an M10, whilst the Panzer IVs make it a double and knocked out a second. The infantry conducted a stunning assault, after losing three teams (!) to defensive fire, bailing a Stuart and killing a second one. With no way for the British to continue the assault, the infantry finished off the second Stuart and retreated back.

Turn 5:

The remaining M10 decided that discretion is the better part of valour and ran away, but the remaining Sherman tanks were up to the job, killing Wayne’s Company HQ.

With no way to pass his Company morale test, the remaining forces quietly retreated off the table, leaving the very battered British troops in control of the battlefield.

Closing Thoughts:
This was really a battle of two halves – some poor planning on my part meant that I lost a lot of troops in the first couple of turns, whilst Wayne’s dice were uncharacteristically average (normally Waynes dice can be counted on to stab him in the back), allowing him to land a decent number of hits. The second half was a little different as the slow accumulation of German casualties took effect and allowed the more numerous British to close (and flank) the Germans.

Based on tactics I think Wayne was a little hard done by, but I’ll take the win!

Holy Smoke!

Another unit down! I finished these armoured mortars in time for some games this past weekend, and it was fun to try my scheme on some halftracks before I fully commit to the Armoured Rifles.

I used the camo template found in the camouflage field manual (see all my camo research here…). It uses desert colours as an example, but I figured the same pattern would apply for the western front.

These give me another platoon in my tank formation, and they’re great for a smoke bombardment, or pinning infantry. I’ll be putting them through their paces at FlamesCon in a couple weeks.

Click on the thumbnail to the right for a bigger version.

– Victor

Painting American Armored Fighting Vehicles

I’ve had a few requests on Instagram for a painting guide on how I do my American armour and camo. I was holding off until I had a chance to take step-by-step photos of the process, and the M8 Greyhounds seemed like a good candidate for that.

There’s so many ways to paint your tanks, and none of them are right or wrong. This here is my a way of achieving a fast paint job and easy camo, that I think is true to the historical subjects while still popping on the tabletop.

STEP 1
After priming with a flat black rattle can from a DIY store, I airbrush all over with Olive Drab. I then spray from the top with some Buff added to the Olive Drab (about 60/40 OD/Buff). This leaves the lower surfaces quite dark which I like. To finish the airbrushing, I panel fade (focus on the centres of surfaces) with a little more Buff added (about 40/60 OD/Buff). This ends up being quite light and pale, but it gets toned down by the wash later and creates a nice contrast for the black camo.

STEP 2
To bring out the details I do a heavy drybrush of German Camo Beige. I tested out a few drybrush colours when I was working out this scheme, and the beige seemed to work best. I think drybrush colour choice can often be the most important step when painting FOW tanks.

STEP 3
Next I applied an all over wash of Athonian Camoshade. This ties the previous shading together and also adds some vibrancy to the colour while shading the recesses.

STEP 4
I go back with a second drybrush of German Camo Beige, this time a little lighter. I find doing a drybrush before and after a wash with the same colour helps to create smooth edge highlights and lessen some of the pitfalls of the drybrushing techniques (brush strokes).

STEP 5
This is where the fun begins. Using temples a could find (in my article “Would you like to know more?“) I create a camo pattern using a medium brush and Nuln Oil. The reason I do this instead of black or grey paint is because it allows the previous shading and highlight work to show through and be consistent between the camo and non-camo areas. I try to move quickly so as not to get any pooling or drying marks.

STEP 6
I now apply a second coat of Nuln Oil over the camo patches to darken them further. This is to taste, but I found 2 coats works well and gets close to the contrast in black and white photos of the real camo. If you like it more subtle stick to one coat, or try a third coat for darker patches.

STEP 7
Lastly I ‘tickle’ some edges with a very light dry brush of Deck Tan. This just adds some pop and definition.

There you have it! Simple but effective. It of course starts to really come together with decals, tools, and wheels/tracks completed, so I’ll hope to show you the finished M8’s soon. In the meantime here’s some examples of the same scheme on some of my Shermans.

– Victor

Murder, Stonk and Mike Target!

For many years these terms have struck fear in to Flames Of War opponents as British artillery pounded them in to submission – I even recall a play test game around 10 years ago where my artillery gun line spent 90 minutes plastering the opposition. Oh what fun we had – “we” being me, and a couple of people watching!

The 25 pdr battery represents the last models I need to paint for FlamesCon, as well as the first 100 points of my official list!

I’d be lying if I said I was 100 percent happy with how these turned out – the guns and limbers look great (if I do say so myself), but of course they are not that different to tanks and I’m really happy with how my process is working for those.

The bases has come out better than expected. Combining two of the the plastic Rural bases together to make gun bases worked out well, and thanks to some thin plastic card and milliput they are nice and durable. I really like all the cool details on them (tree stumps, tire marks, fences etc), and they made the detailing of the bases very simple.

I was initially a bit unsure about my selection of flocks – I like to mix up custom mix for armies and I was going for a darker tone to represent the coming winter months at the end of 1944. In the light of day though I was quite happy with how the colours (a dark green static grass, and a couple of GF9 flock blends) all came together.

The weak point is certainly my painting ability when it comes to the gun crews. Ales, our sculptor, did a lovely job on them and I don’t think I have really done them justice. However I am very happy with the overall result and think that the whole army will look great on the table.

Time to get my Universal Carrier crews painted and I’ll be able to put another unit in the “Done” column…

~Chris

British Sherman Tactics – 101

With FlamesCon coming up in about a month my army is going to have its first intensive gaming weekend, so in preparation I’ve been thinking a bit about how the various parts will worth together on the battlefield. It should come as no surprise that the key unit(s) in the army all have Sherman (or Firefly) tanks!

I’ve decided to maximise my number of Firefly tanks and their precious tank-busting 17pdr guns by taking four platoons of minimum strength Sherman Platoons, each with 2 Sherman tanks, and a single Firefly. Between these platoons and my M10 platoon, this gives me a good number of specialist tank killers that can be spread around the table.

If there is a downside to the Firefly (and M10) is that their 17pdr guns, whilst excellent at killing tanks, are not as good at killing infantry teams thanks to the “No HE” rule – A weapon with No HE targeting an Infantry or Gun Team, adds +1 to the score needed To Hit. This means it is important to keep some of the 75mm armed Sherman tanks around in case you run in to a dug-in infantry platoon, or anti-tank gun line, defending an objective.

My intention is to ensure that the M10s and (depending on the opponent) two platoons of Shermans are working together to attack an objective, or blunt an enemy armoured thrust. This gives me 10-12 tanks (if I include the HQ) working together with a mix of guns. This should be able to overcome most opposition forces.

One of the tactics that has crossed my mind, but I am not convinced is a good idea, is leaving the Firefly tanks behind as the Shermans advance on the objective. This means that they can provide covering fire without a loss of rate of fire, assuming they do not move. On paper this sounds good, but it does mean that the Shermans (and therefore the Firefly that is in the platoon) can find themselves not in Good Spirits if either of them are destroyed or bailed out. All it would take is for one Sherman to be bailed and not get back in, and then the Firefly and remaining Sherman will run for the hills. Maybe I will keep this tactic in reserve if I need it and let you know how it works out for me.

Alpha Strike or Firefight

I’ve included Stuarts in my army because, one they are cheap machine-gun carrier that can knock out small tanks, and two, the wonderful Spearhead rule. Spearhead will (in certain missions) let me significantly expand my deployment area and allow me to put a lot of tanks, close to the enemy in preparation for first turn rush. I am confident I can pack in most (if not all) of my Shermans inside the 8” bubble.

If I choose not to use the extra space for a rush, I can also use it to ensure my tanks are in a good defensive position in turn 1, potentially allowing them to be concealed and gone-to-ground.

Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

One of the tactics that I am terrible at remembering to use is… Smoke! I tend to think about killing the enemy, rather than making their life more difficult. Why lob a Smoke round across the table when you can drop High Explosive on someones head? With the Shermans relatively average armour, placing a 16” / 40cm long smoke screen across the table can shield them for one valuable turn as they push up, or isolate part of the battlefield. This would be especially useful if I am planning on running head first in to an enemy gun line, or stopping a second line of defensive troops from shooting me up if I am more than 6” / 15cm away.

The worst outcome is that it forces the enemy to move, dropping their rate of fire and potentially exposing them to my other models.

There you have it, my basic plan for how the army will work. It is going to be fun to see if my armchair generalship will transfer to the tabletop – perhaps I had better arrange a game in the next couple of weeks with Wayne or Victor just to be safe.

~Chris

Time For A Cup Of Tea, and British Tank Markings

I’ve mentioned this in the past, but one of the things that I think really makes my British army pop on the tabletop (and in photos) is the use of decals. I always feel that the application of decals to a tank is that final step that really helps to make a difference – much like good basing on infantry.

I am quite lucky as the British army went to great lengths to mark their tanks, from Divisional, Regiment and Squadron Markings, to Bridge Weights and Serial Numbers, and of course Allied Stars. With so many options I found most vehicles having around 10-or-so markings for me to apply.

First things first, what are all the decals on the Late War British Decal Sheet? Casey has written a great article (which I have relied on heavily and you absolutely should read) but if you want the basic TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read) version here you go…

Looking at the tanks below you can see where I have chosen to apply the decals.

One of the things I learnt whilst doing a little reading through our guides on the website and Colours Of War, is that there was a “mandated” way to apply the markings.

Of course, this doesn’t always match up with what happens in real life as crews will often find ingenious places to put stowage or extra armour, which necessitates the moving of markings. Sometimes they just don’t want a great big white star on the side of the tank as a target for enemy gunners, and sometimes they just don’t get the memo. This means you can either follow the guides on the site like a definitive list, which is perfectly fine, or use a bit of artistic license (which is what I did).

If you don’t have a lot of experience adding decals to models, give it a go, they really make a huge difference. If you want to know more about how to do it, then check out Blake’s guide on our YouTube channel here…

~Chris

 

Painting Winter Whitewash.

I’ll start out by saying that this is not the fastest method to paint Whitewash, but to me the outcome is worth the time and effort.

At the start of this project I thought it would be a good chance to challenge everything I’ve ever assumed about painting Soviets, starting with the base colour.

As an experiment took some spare IS-2 hull tops and painted them in some different Tamiya greens to give me a set of colour swatches:
1. XF13 JA Green
2. XF67 NATO Green
3. XF58 Olive Green
4. 50% XF13 JA Green, 50% XF88 Dark Yellow.

Click on the image to the right for a bigger version…

I then gave these a wash of GW Athonian Camoshade, which is basically a dark green wash. The main reason for using this rather than a black wash is that a black wash desaturated the colour a bit to much.

My favorite colour here was number 4, the 50% XF13 JA Green, 50% XF88 Dark Yellow. If I was going to be painting my tanks Green I’d use this colour, but since the tanks are going to be whitewashed the NATO Green is close enough and it means I didn’t have to add in an extra step to mix up a batch of base paint.

With the base green chosen its time to move onto the whitewash. I’ve had limited success with painting whitewash in the past, so these early steps are simple building on that experience. There are a lot of steps here, and while some of them could probably be left out, I feel that since the paints are semi-opaque it all adds to the overall effect and helps achieve a good depth of colour.

Step 1. Basecoat with Tamiya NATO Green, then, using an airbrush, panel fade with Deck Tan. This is basically dirty off-white that makes a good undercoat for white.

Step 2. Wash with Athonian Camoshade. This adds some of the rich green back onto the tank and adds contrast into the panel lines.

Step 3. Panel fade again with Deck Tan, but not quite as much as the first layer.

Step 4. Panel fade with White. I made this layer of paint quite patchy to let the previous layers of paint show through.

Step 5. I give the tank a coat of X35 Tamiya Semi-gloss clear to prep the tank for pin washing. A lot of people use a gloss varnish instead, but I like the Tamiya Semi-gloss clear as its basically a clear paint that gives the pinwash and streaking effects something to key into, while still protecting the paint beneath.

I then panel faded and did some streaking with a dark green oil wash.

Step 6. I do a bit of sponge chipping with Vallejo Camo Olive Green.

Step 7a. The next thing to work on is some streaking. The first layer of streaking is to represent general dirt. I start by applying single dots of Dark Streaking Grime.

Step 7b. I let the Streaking Grime dry for a few minutes then work it with a brush and white spirits to feather it a bit.

Step 8a & 8b. I repeat step 7a and 7b with a rusty colour. This step is to simulate a brighter rust streak effect. With all of the streaking effects don’t be afraid to add it to some of the flat surfaces where water would pool and corrode the metal.

Step 9a. This is where the real magic happens. Using some white oil paint I dabbed spots all over the tank, concentrating on the flat surfaces and upper parts of the vertical surfaces.

Step 9b. After letting the paint dry for a few minutes I start working the oil paint into the top surfaces and streaking it down the vertical surfaces with a brush dampened with white spirits.

Below is a bit of a time lapse montage to give you an idea of how this works.

Overall, I know that this is a long convoluted process, but I’m all about quality over quantity at the moment (the complete opposite to Soviets), and I’m actually quite enjoying the process, despite getting hassled by the rest of the Big Four about my painting speed.

~Casey

Red Steel Rising

It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally finished my first platoon.

As I said one of my previous posts, I’ve decided to tackle my own personal white whale – a winter washed army. I’m really happy with the results (despite the rest of the Big Four painting 100 points in the same time) and I think that it sets a really good standard for me to keep whilst I work on the rest of my army.

For me though its all about the journey, and I don’t mind spending a lot of time on a few models.

I had a lot of fun painting these and learnt a lot, which should make painting the rest of the army faster.

I’ve put together a painting guide for how I completed the whole whitewash effect and will post it up later this week.

The next platoon on my painting table will be some T-70s.

~ Casey

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

Step-By-Step British Painting Guide

Over the past couple of months I have had a few requests on our Instagram for a step-by-step painting or colour guide for how I painted my British armour. The steps are all fairly straight forward. The key was spending a little time trialing colours and talking about the process with the rest of the team, looking for their thoughts on how to achieve a fast, but striking looking army.

Step 1: I primed the model Black, and then airbrushed my base colour, Tamiya Dark Green 2, over the whole model. I took time to make sure that I applied a couple of light coats first, building up the colour over the black, and focusing on certain areas where I wanted the coverage to be opaque, and therefore brighter.Step 2: I then gave the model an overall drybrush with Colours Of War Firefly Green. I wasn’t trying to  completely cover the base coat, but rather highlight all the raised points and edges. The difference in colour between the two steps is quite striking however.Step 3 should really be two steps…

Step 3a: I tidied up the tracks by painting black over any areas that were accidentally drybrushed in the previous step, then painted them with a mix of Vallejo Black Grey and Oily Steel. I also picked out the chain (with just Oily Steel) on the side of the hull, and spare tracks.Step 3b: Next I airbrushed the entire model with a Gloss Varnish. This seals in all the work I had done up to this point and protects it during the Oil Wash. I normally create my own wash using artists oil paints and some white spirits. This is carefully applied in any recesses and along panel lines. Using a Q-tip or Cotton Bud I cleaned up any excess.

Step 4: Next I carefully applied some Gloss Varnish to the areas I was going to decal. Once the decals were applied I used a little Micro Sol (Decal Setting Solution)  just to help them look painted on. Once these completely dried I then gave the whole model a very light drybrush of Iraqi Sand, just to give some subtle edge highlights and add a little dust to the whole model.I hope that this has been useful, it is a really straight forward process that was quite quick to apply.

~Chris