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

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

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

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

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

Twelve Flavours, All Of Them Churchills

Having finished my Shermans I found myself with plenty of painting options sitting on the table, from the 25 pdr artillery, to a Motor Platoon and the Churchill tanks in the Army Deal. A smarter person would have picked the 25 pdrs to work on, primarily because I am planning on taking them to FlamesCon in a couple of months, I however picked the Churchills.

The Churchill frame is packed with options when it comes to how to assemble it. I decided to plan ahead and go a little off script and build them as Crocodiles. Having been terrorised by a friends models, I thought that having some of my own would be fun – their impossibly heavy armour, deadly flamethrower, and useful 75mm gun makes them a powerful weapon in arsenal.

Of course they are of limited use right now, since they are not included in Fortress Europe… I solved that issue by not gluing the flame trailers on to the model. This way I can leave the trailers in my box for the next few months and just field them as the 6 pdr armed versions in the book. None of the team in the office will mind and I get some great tanks right now.

With these complete I now need to turn to… the 25 pdrs and (more importantly) figuring out how I am going to paint the crews.

~Chris

p.s. stay tuned for some step by step photos and how-to guide for my British  tanks.

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

Big Four Battle Time – Wayne vs Victor

With the completion of Wayne’s first 100 points, Wayne and Victor thought they would have a game to celebrate another Big Four of Late-war army passing the 100 point mark and the release of D-Day: German.

Victor took a modified version of his US force he took against Casey on the release of D-Day: American. Wayne took his Panzer IV Tank Company.

They decided to play Free-for-All. Victor started deployment and Wayne won the dice off to see who goes first. Deployment was evenly spread, with both players concentrating their tank units on the forested side of the battlefield.

Turn 1:  The first turn saw Wayne push his Panzer IV platoons forward to engage the M10s and Shermans, but with only moving ROF just one Sherman was destroyed. Victor’s retaliation was swift and deadly three Panzer IVs were destroyed and one bailed out, all from flank platoon.

Turn 2:  The morale of the devastated Panzer IV platoon didn’t hold, and despite the last tank remounting, their Last Stand roll wasn’t so successful and he beat as hasty retreat. However, Wayne “88” began engaging the M4 Shermans on the hill knocking out two tanks. The last Panzer IV Platoon and the Tiger concentrated their fire on the M10 platoon which had advanced from behind the forest, destroying one and bailing out another. The HQ Panzer IVs knocked another two Shermans on the hill.

Victor returned fire on the flank, but only managed to destroy a single Panzer IV in the forest to the front of the M10s. On the other flank the M5 Stuart Tank Platoon pushed up and began machine-gunning the Panzergrenadier who had dismounted near the 88s and the objective. Despite massive firepower (25 MG dice), they only managed to kill the one team after on scoring four hits! Meanwhile, Victor’s artillery has been ineffectually peppering the Panzergrenadiers and 88s.

Turn 3: The Stuart had done enough to attract the attention of one of the 88s, it swung around and destroyed two Stuarts. The other 88 took aim at the American HQ Shermans who had also moved to the hill and knocked out one tank. The Tigers and Panzer IV Platoon concentrated on the M10 tank destroyers, knocking out all but one. The HQ fired on the last M4 Sherman Tank Platoon tank on the hill, but failed to hit it.

Victor managed to pass the Last Stand for his M4 Sherman Tank Platoon, but failed for his M10s. Re-ranging in both his batteries he managed to knock out three more Panzergrenadier teams, then destroyed one more with his Stuarts. His 76mm Shermans destroyed two more Panzer IVs.

Turn 4: With only one Panzer IV left the second platoon also failed last stand and quit the field. The Panzergrenadiers also gave up. The 88s killed two more Stuart and bailed out American commander. The Tigers continued to fire at the 76mm Shermans, destroyed one and bailed two. The HQ took a long range snipe at the Sherman OP and the last stubborn Sherman on the hill.

Victor remounted his 76mm Shermans, but the Stuart ran off. The repeat bombardment on one 88 had no effect. However, on the other flank the game was one. Wayne failed to save two 76mm hits on the Tigers and Victor made the Firepower rolls. With only the HQ left in Wayne’s formation they are not in Good Spirit and are destroyed.

A Victory to Victor.