Wayne’s French Connection

After much work I’ve completed my planned French force for 1944-45. It has actually turned out to be quite large with the recent additions of a third Rifle Platoon, a 105mm Artillery Battery, and a M4 Sherman Tank Platoon of 5x M4 Sherman tanks.

The Formation has ten Units, and I have another four Units in Support for 116 points total. However, I’ll most likely run it at 100 points most of the time, dropping 16 points off the force. This could be one of the armoured units, or a combination of smaller units. There is also plenty of room for points fine tuning within the rifle platoons, or I could even drop the 9e Division d’Infanterie Coloniale Colonial command card and run them as straight Battle Weary ratings.

The Miniatures
For the French Rifle Platoons I used some French Tirailleurs from the old Tirailleurs Platoon (Italy) (FR812) I had got back in 3rd Ed FOW for the Italy Campaign. These miniatures are French Evan made for the release of Road to Rome from the Winter Americans. The main difference is a few unique figures with Adrian Helmets and an Officer in a Kepi. These can be happily mixed with the winter Americans. For all the weapons and support units I mostly used the winter American packs with a few other French from the above pack and the old Mediterranean early-war range for the occasional Officer, NCO, and crewmen. I also did some head swaps to put French heads on miniatures such as on the Jeep crew.

The M4 Sherman Tank Platoon are actually Sherman V models from the British range. The official American designation of this tank is M4A4. Though, the Americans did not use the M4A4 Sherman themselves, they did supply them for the Lend-lease program not only to Britain, but to France as well where they made up about half of the French Shermans. The French also got large numbers of M4A2 diesel Sherman as well as small numbers of M4A1 & M4A3 76mm and M4A3 Jumbos. There may be a French Sherman Tank Company in my future. Check out these websites for more details:
French Shermans during WW2…

Chars-Francais.net

~Wayne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finishing the American Desert Detour

Finishing an army* should be a chance to look back at the time spent scheming, building, painting and finishing up the force. It doesn’t matter if that army is six models or 60, you should still look at the army and say “Hey, I did a thing!” The next step of course is to take it out and destroy your enemies with it…

As it stands with my Mid War American force I have ticked the first box and will need to make time to so the second. Looking back at the painting there were some real highlights and low lights for me, and if you have been following the process on Instagram you will know that colour matching was a real problem. Turning that into something good I can now honestly say I’m better at keeping painting records (not as good as Victor though) and so this shouldn’t be a problem in the future (famous last words).

Here… is the finished army in all it’s glory (click on them for bigger versions)!

M3 Lee Company HQ
M3 Lee Tank Platoon
M4 81mm Armored Mortar Platoon
T30 75mm Assault Gun Platoon
Armored Recon Patrol
T19 105mm HMC Artillery Platoon
M3 Stuart Tank Platoon

M3 75mm GMC Tank Destroyer Platoon

T28E1 37mm AAA Platoon

With everything added up, the force comes in at a respectable 130 points. That means I have a little bit extra for some bigger games, along with ability to remove a platoon or two to get the force down to 100 points.

I think for now I will call the army finished!

~Chris

*is an army really finished? A platoon of M4 Shermans and perhaps an Armored Rifle Platoon would really round out this collection and bring in the points total to a little under 200 points for a really big game!

 

 

 

Detour to the Desert

Chris and Victor are heading to the desert!

They’ve both started armies a while ago, and hot on the heels of ‘North Africa’ they’ve decided to dig them out and breath new life into their forces.

Victor’s Afrikakorps

About 7 years ago I started an Early-War DAK army. It began as just 6 Panzer III’s (and a captured Stuart…) which allied with Waynes Italians for a doubles tournament.

Check out the coverage of the Panzerchreck 2016 event over on the Flames Of War website…

The following year I added Panzer IV’s, Panzer II’s, 88’s, and 222 armoured cars. The plan was to have units that could swing between early-war and mid-war, so the Panzers were all earlier versions.

This left me with a good mix of units, but it never really felt like a complete army. The release of North Africa gave me the motivation to move this force into Version 4, and skew it more towards mid-war by adding some cool new units.

Apart from a few touch ups due to showing their age, here’s what I’ve currently got painted from years ago:

6x Panzer III J
4x Panzer IV D
5x Panzer II C
4x SdKfz 221 & 222
2x 8.8cm FlaK36
2x Objectives!

And here’s what I’m planning to add, which will give me 140 points to work with!

3x Dianas
2x Bison
4x Lorraine Schlepper
2x SdKfz 231 8-rad
1x Tiger

One day I’d like to do some infantry, captured 25 pdrs, and long barrelled Panzer IV’s, but for now I’ve got a lot to keep me busy!

~Victor

Chris’s Fighting First

When we released Fighting First I, for some reason, fell in love with the idea of a full company of M3 Lee tanks. I guess it was just a combination of a wierd looking tank, a decent stat line, and a points cost that let me field a lot of them and still have room to pack some extra units in.

As is often the case, the army started with a hiss and a roar, getting most of it built, painted and decal’ed. But like so many projects I hit a point where army stalled… when I had to paint a massive pile of vehicle crew.

Part of my reticence was that not only did I have a full company of Lee’s in the force, but also a (for me) massive number of halftracks with M4 Mortar Carriers, converted T19 105mm HMC’s, M3 75mm GMC’s, and T30 75mm HMC’s. Each of these vehicles needed crews painted up and I failed my last stand test and retreated…

Fast forward a few years and I’m in my peak painting condition having done so many models as part of the Big Four project that finishing this army actually seemed like a holiday from everything else!

My baseline list looks pretty straight forward.

But for some variation, and for the ability to add a few extra points I have the T19’s and M3 GMC’s that I can add. These are both Community Cards that have been created by players out in the world so whilst there aren’t models for them currently I managed to convert them using existing halftracks and guns.

You can find out more about them on the Flames Of War website.
M3 75mm GMC…
T19 105mm HMC…

I’ll be finishing off everything that I started (way back when) and then moving on to a few new units, like the Stuarts and T28E1 SP AA… I might even set myself a stretch goal of some infantry and Shermans but we will see how everything else progresses

~Chris

Follow along with us on Instagram as we finish our units, and who knows, we may have a battle to decide who’s king of the desert!

 

 

Casey’s First to Bastogne

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.

~Casey

Dressed for Winter

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.

The List
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)

Veteran M4 Sherman (Late) Tank Platoon 1 (27 Points)
1x M4 Jumbo (75mm)
1x M4 Sherman (late 75mm)
2x M4 Easy Eight (76mm)

Veteran M4 Sherman (Late) Tank Platoon 2 (27 Points)
1x M4 Jumbo (75mm)
1x M4 Sherman (late 75mm)
2x M4 Easy Eight (76mm)

T26 Super Pershing Tank Platoon (16 Points)
1x T26 Super Pershing (90mm)

Veteran Armoured 81mm Mortar Platoon (3 Points)
3x M4 (81mm mortar)

Veteran M24 Chaffee Tank Platoon (15 Points)
4x M24 Chaffee (75mm)

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.

The Painting
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.

~Casey

Victor’s Plans for 2021

It probably sounds like a broken record by now, but good riddance 2020! I have a lot to be thankful for, but on the flip side this has been a really trying year for me personally, and I’m sure many of you out there. This has affected my Big Four painting output, so I’ll be using the new year to get back on track. There was some assembly and painting going on in the background, but here is the only platoon I manage to complete for my Americans; some M12’s.

The painting project from the year I am most proud of is my WWIII: Soviet army. This was done very quickly by my standards, but it turned out well and gave me almost 150 points. Although it’s not my Big Four army, I’m still calling it a win for this year.

I have big plans for the first half of 2021. It’s no surprise that Bulge: American will be released next year, and I’m currently doing the graphic design and photography for it. Of course in my downtime there’s been some list noodling, and I’ve come up with a bit of a shopping list of what I’d paint from the new book, and what I still need to tick off from D-Day.

D-Day: American

  • Complete my Cavalry Recon Troop
  • Complete my Armoured Rifle Platoon
  • 6x M4A3 105mm

Bulge: American

  • 7x M4A3E8 Easy Eight
  • 4x M4A3E2 Jumbo
  • 4x M26 Pershing
  • 1x Super Pershing
  • 5x M24 Chaffees
  • 5x Calliope Turrets (as an option to upgrade my existing Sherman 105’s)
  • 4x M15/M16AAA halftracks
  • 4x M36 Jacksons
  • 8x M18 Hellcats

I’m excited about this list, as they’re all new plastics and just so cool. I should give me a solid core to build many different lists with. The Easy Eight is one of my favourite tanks, and I know the Hellcats will be popular. I think American players will get a kick out of the new book.

See you all next year and I hope you stay safe over the holidays.

~ Victor

FlamesCon 2019 Report

Well, what a weekend that was… 28 Flames Of War players, 6 games, and a whole lot of “if only” comments!

Like most wargamers at the conclusion of each round there was a fair amount of discussion about their previous battle so we asked Chris, Victor and Wayne to share a few of their thoughts about the weekend, the games, their opponents and if they learnt anything from the experience.

It is safe to say that all three walked about with a desire to paint something new or tweak their lists a little in preparation for the next outing!

To find out about their lists and plans at the start of the weekend, check out the preparation article here…

My FlamesCon experience was great. Gav and Greg always do a great job running the event, and the group of gamers was friendly and respectful.

Over the 6 games I ended up facing 5 Churchill based armies; 4 British, 1 Soviet. My last game of the weekend was against Damien’s Fallschirmjager StuG company, which was cool because I got to play against Germans finally, and it’s a list I’m actually building for myself when not working on my Americans.

My list actually performed fairly well, despite only racking up 2 wins. In most of the games I felt like I was right in it ’till the end. The 76mm Shermans were probably my most reliable unit. Facing so many Churchills, I really needed that AT12. The M10s also helped, before they evaporated.

I would’ve liked to face some more German lists, but all my opponents were top notch and each game was very different thanks to terrain and missions.

I’m already thinking about ways to tweak my list and what to paint next. Playing a weekend of games is always a good way to learn what works and what tactics other people are using.

Lastly I was fortunate enough to have my army voted as best painted! There were plenty of really great armies on show and any of them could’ve won it really.

A++ Will game again next year!

– Victor

Tournaments are one of the things I really look forward to as I am very goal orientated when it comes to my hobby time. If I don’t have a deadline to meet, I will generally just muck about and paint whatever I feel like (or just watch TV / play on the computer). I need the deadline to push me… This of course means I love coming up with slightly different lists each time I attend an event so I get a new unit painted. For FlamesCon this year I was effectively painting everything in preparation for the event, and I most certainly walked away with some inspiration of what do next (more on that later).

Did I Win…?
Well… no! I won two out of my six games – so not a great result by a long stretch. Looking at back at all of them I think my strategy for each game was sound and either my opponents simply played better than me, or the dice (OH THE DICE!) stabbed me in the back at an inopportune time, or my list had flaws that I didn’t see at the time.

What Did I Learn?
Three tank platoons are just super fragile unless your Company HQ is nearby. Now I had already learnt this from my game verses Wayne, but this weekend really reinforced that opinion.

M10s are great! But they cannot be everywhere and if the enemy can throw some sixes they die quickly

Movement Orders are key! A well timed Blitz or Shoot and Scoot can make a massive difference. Especially if your German opponent is using it well to pop out, shoot up a tank and then disappear again.

Lastly, I really need to paint some more Churchills, maybe a Rifle Platoon, and maybe an Allied Armoured Rifle Platoon!

The Last Word
Overall I had a great weekend, learnt a lot, played Counterattack three times, fought people I have never played before and definitely found myself wanting to hit the brushes and paint up some new models.

~Chris

FlamesCon was pretty intense this year with six games of Flames Of War with my German Force. I was hoping to get a variety of opponents and armies to face, and I did. A good mix of opponents, some I knew well, and others I’d never had the pleasure of playing before.

In my six games I faced a mixed US/British forces, a US Force, three German tank armies and a German infantry force. I manged three wins from my six games, and even had a good chance of a decent finish in my last game, which I blew big time (lost 1-8) and tumbled down to 14th Place. My opponent in that last game (Ben Fouche) did come third. I think if the result was reversed I would have be about 5th equal.

I think my army went pretty well despite my lack of artillery and recon, and my usual terrible luck (for example, in my last game I missed out of halting his highly effective assault by one hit on his large 13 team Fallschirmjäger Platoon, which eventually won him the game despite only have four teams remaining).

Next year I shall have my revenge!

~Wayne

Thanks to everyone that attended FlamesCon this year, and a big thank you to Gavin and Greg for all of their organisational efforts, as well as everyone else that assisted them!

~ The Big Four

Big Four Of FlamesCon

Every year there are a few events on the New Zealand gaming calendar of ‘historical significance’ that we love to attend if we can – FlamesCon is one of those events! FlamesCon started out, many years ago, as the Battlefront organised Flames Of War tournament. These days the guys from the local club TCOW have taken over the organisation leaving us free to go along and play!

This year 75% of the Big Four, along with Phil, will be making the short trip along with our new Late War armies.

When this years FlamesCon was announced, and the four of us decided we would take our Big Four armies, we knew that our list selection would be limited to what we have painted rather than trying to noodle the most competitive list. In a years time that might be different as we all will have a lot more options painted, but for now I knew I’d be running some sort of Sherman company.

THE ARMY
I turned to Chris for advice, as he’s a bit more tactically minded than me. He suggested the following list:


I liked it because I had a bit of everything I like. A solid tank formation, a spearhead unit, something to hold an objective, and a fun command card! It was also all mostly painted, only needing to do the Armoured Mortars and Cavalry Recon Patrol which were next in the queue anyway. We went with Veterans as the 4+ is needed I think if I’m being aggressive; my armour won’t save me so I’d rather get hit less!

The Sherman company I’ve used a few times now so it’s the part I’m most familiar with. We went with 5x 76mm as they’re the real threat of the army, 4x 75mm, and the 3x Stuarts are mostly there to bolster the formation but can go and harass lighter targets. I would normally bring 4, but dropping one freed up points for the Cavalry Recon Patrol.

The Armoured Mortars give me a fifth formation unit, and they’re cheap artillery if I need it. One thing I hadn’t used before was smoke, but in two practice games I’ve learned its value, if I can use it at the right time and place.

The Cavalry Recon Patrol is a nice cheap unit that can get around quickly, and help me put the pressure on my opponent early. I plan to attack most of the time and I like the idea of using Spearhead to get my Paras onto an enemy objective, something I was able to achieve in my practice game with Chris…

The Parachute Rifle Platoon should be tough as nails defending an objective, or at least make people think twice about assault them. They’re also great to go assault something that my Shermans have weakened.

So far I’ve struggled using the M10’s, so I’ll have to remind myself during the tournament “THESE ARE NOT TANKS!”, and be a little more patient with them. If I do find myself defending in a mission they will be my go to ambush unit.

The last piece of the puzzle is the ‘French Resistance Raid’ command card. Chris suggested this too, and I wasn’t sure of it’s value until my practice game with Wayne…

THE PLAN
The tournament will be using the Battle Plans Mission Selector. As I mentioned earlier I plan to choose attack. This is in part because I enjoy moving models more than setting up a good defensive position, and also because I think it’s worth making the most of stabilisers on the Shermans. I’m my formation is solid enough that I won’t break too often, so my biggest challenge will be finding away to crack heavy armour (aka Tiger and Panthers). Maybe I can create a pincer with the 76mm Shermans and M10’s, or perhaps get aggressive with the Paras. Wish me luck!

– Victor

FlamesCon has long been one of my favorite events in the gaming calendar, going back to the early years, long before I ever worked for Battlefront. It was the type of event where people “came of out the woods” to play – people you only saw once per year would be there and for a weekend you could catch up, talking gaming, and have some fun.

This year I am really looking forward to the event as we have been working so hard on the Big Four project, this feels like one of the great milestones that I can tick off – finish the first platoon, finish the first 100 points, play the first game, attend the first tournament…

MY ARMY
My list is exactly the same as the one featured in the Carentan Clash battle report verses Wayne and features a mix of mobile tank killers (M10s and Firefly tanks) and infantry killers (25 pdrs, Stuart and Sherman tanks).

As I’ve mentioned previously, I am heavily reliant on the mix of 17 pdr guns on M10 and Firefly tanks to get the job done verses any armour that I come across. These have been the cornerstone of my army planning from day one.

Between the two practice games I’ve played, one against Wayne and one verses Victor (shown here on the Flames Of War D-Day OnTableTop Campaign site) I’ve been reminded of some valuable lessons; use my Spearheading troops better, and don’t stand in the open… Sherman tanks don’t have the armour of a Jagdtiger!

GAME TIME!
I’m not really going in to this weekends gaming action with a solid plan for how to use my army. My primary goal is to have five fun games and ideally, not get blasted off the table. With a highly mobile army I expect to play aggressively – a fast game is a good game – but not recklessly! This means pushing up fast, isolating units where possible, and hitting them as hard as I can and then moving on to the next target. Right now, there are no lists that I am worried about facing, of course I might be singing a different tune in a few days!

~Chris

FlamesCon is on this weekend (9 to 10 November) and I’ll be taking my initial Big Four Of Late-war 100 points I finished building a month or so ago. I’ve painted more since, but with the need to submit an Army composition before a certain day I thought I’d play it safe an enter something I wouldn’t have to rush to get finished in time.

THE PLAN!
Well, um, there isn’t really anything concrete. The tournament is using the Battle Plans system, so I will try and attack when I can. I feel choosing defence and trying to hold off an enemy in a defensive battle with deep (whether they are delayed or not) reserves with my force would be tantamount to giving my opponent a free victory. It will be mostly Attack, but with the occasional Manoeuvre if I feel my opponent has a defensively orientated army.

I will use the 8.8cm AA Platoon to hold down an Objective in meeting engagements like Free-for-All, Dust Up, or Encounter. In these battles my attack is likely to swing from the other objective. If I’m forced to switch flanks, either during the battle or if out-deployed by a larger force, I can drop the Panzergrenadier on the other objective and use the 88s as a backstop for the tanks.

In the Manoeuvre missions where there is a clear attacker and defender I will endeavour to attack using my mobility to seize objectives, backed up by the Panzergrenadier who will defend them from counterattacks if the mission objectives don’t go live by a certain turn (usually Turn 6).

If I end up defending, I’ll attempt to take the battle to the enemy with my tanks, leaving the Panzergrenadiers and 88s to cover the objectives while I attempt to break the opposing force.

Large infantry forces may cause me some trouble, but hopefully most of these will be choosing defence and we will be playing Manoeuvre missions like Breakthrough, Bridgehead, Contact and Rearguard. If I end up attacking in a No Retreat I will focus on seizing an objective while no exposing my force to too much of the enemy’s front to minimise fire.

The Tigers will probably be the stars as they can take and handout the punishment. The Panzer IVs will provide the bulk of my strike force, with good mobility and an effective gun. Their biggest weakness will be their armour as I’m sure I’ll see a lot of US 3-inch and 76mm, Soviet 85mm, and British 17 pdr armed tanks.

Having said all that, I still have to roll dice, and I’m not very good at that.

~Wayne

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