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.
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!
The Big Four Of Late War are back on Twitch this Sunday for a Flames Of War Battle! New armies. New terrain. New experience for us as we bring you a live battle. Casey will be storming his white horde toward Victor’s newly raised assault guns (and cheeky Panthers). Who do you think will be Victorious?
I liked the idea of doing a winter table but didn’t want to make a completely white table, as it would make the table too specific, so I decided to make it in a transitional period, either autumn or early spring, so quite arid but with a scattering of snow. This added a lot of extra work though.
I’ve always felt that railways are a significant feature, but tend to get lost, or just slapped down on a table as decoration, which is why I decided to build them up and have a junction worth fighting over.
I wanted the hills to represent undulating terrain, rather than slab sided hills, so when I was designing them I started with quite large pieces of MDF, glued some polystyrene to it and then shaped it so that the highest point wasn’t much taller that a large tank. Since they are representing undulating terrain rather than just hills, I also decided to build forests/woods onto the hills to make them more dynamic, and because I don’t think area terrain should only be one thing.
It’s taken a lot of short bursts over more than a decade to make… but I think it has been worth it, and I’ve learnt a lot along the way and intend on taking that experience on board and starting a summer table next year to go with it.
I’m looking forward to christening the table against Victor’s Hungarians on Monday. I’ve chosen to take a relatively balanced list that I would be happy to take to a tournament for our battle, rather than design a list to counter his force… given that I know exactly what he has painted and available.
Tomorrow we will take a look at our forces!
In the meantime you can enjoy a few close up shots of the table from some of our recent books!
Things are going well with the painting of my Hungarian Huszár Squadron. I have now finished all the cavalry teams. I’ve added the extra two platoons to the one I already had, you can spot the older one easily by the fact it is made from converted Romanian and Cossack cavalry miniatures, which was done before we even had Huszár miniatures.
I had a bit of time up my sleeve, so I converted my Formation Commander by adding fur collar and cuff trim, as well as lace loops to his tunic. I also added a sword hand from a Cossack and a scabbard attached to his saddle. I just used some GF9 grey epoxy putty for this detail work.
I already have the 7/31M Machine-gun Platoon, 81mm Mortar Platoon, 40mm Anti-tank Platoon, 75mm Huszár Battery, and Toldi OP painted, so I just have the 7.5cm Heavy Anti-tank Platoon to complete for the tournament. Then I can finish the Turán tanks at my leisure.
When I think of the humble Panzer IV is isn’t at the top of my list of “must have” tanks. There is of course one thing that I have learnt during the course of the Big Four project and that is more is good! One platoon of 3-5 Panzers in a German army… meh… 5 platoons of 3 (and a dash of StuGs for moral support), now we are talking!
I still have a way to go with the rest of the the army, between us I have stalled a little as the lure of a warm fire inside is beating the cold garage, with my recon, 251’s, infantry and aircraft but I still feel like I have hit a milestone with these.
I’ve taken a mixed approach with my painting and decals, using a filter for the first time. This meant I really went quite light with my colours and used the filter to bring it back down.
I also took (perhaps) a bit of a liberty with my tank numbers. I haven’t seen Romanian Panzer IVs with German-style numbers but I wanted to be able to tell my platoons apart and since historical pictures are a little few and far between I thought “what the heck, they look cool”. I also added the white Cross of King Michael I to the side of the tanks and the coloured air recognition cross to the top of the turrets or superstructure. On an otherwise fairly plan tank I think these add some visual interest to the army.
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