I’ve finally painted those ten assembled Comets that had been sitting around in a box since Nachtjager came out in 2015. Now I wished I’d assembled a few more, another four would have been good.
I am generally happy with how they came out. I stuck to a pretty simple scheme. In hindsight a bit more weathering and some stowage would have been great.
However, I had set myself a strict timeline to get the force done by the end of my Christmas/New Years break and that I did. In the end I finished well before everybody else, so I could have spent a bit more time on them.
At some point I’ll grab another box of Comets and some more plastic British riflemen and pad the force out a bit.
This really was an army expansion of 2 halves. At the beginning of the project I confidently said to myself “Hey, what’s another 20 odd models, on top of the 160 I have already done. I can do that in my sleep!” The reality ended up being somewhat different as the end of the year started looming up on me and I couldn’t come up with a plan that I really liked.
Luckily for me fate (and friends) stepped in. Casey designed some bespoke decals for me, and had some cunning ideas on how to make it simpler for me to physically put some of the smaller decals on (by combining them on the sheet), whilst Adam Brooker pointed me in the direction of a decal printer here in the South Pacific.
With the decals in hand earlier this year the army finally started to come together. Looking back I rushed some aspects of the army so it isn’t as polished as I would like, but it is really to hit the tabletop and that’s the important thing right now!
Late last year we came up with a simple plan – I quick Detour where the four of us would paint British forces as part of the Bulge: British release. These armies were meant to be quick and simple.
The often said phrase of “no plan survives contact with the enemy” has passed the test of time because it right. In this case our (seemingly) simple plan ended up with a myriad of hurdles that we never expected. None of them were hard to overcome, but as a team it meant that some of us took a lot longer than we expected…
The good thing about painting an army though is that even if it does take a bit longer than you expect, when it is finished and ready to hit the table you often forget the journey and look forward to the games you are going to play with it!
~Casey, Chris, Wayne and Victor
My original plan for this army was to just paint a fast, wargaming standard, force.
If I’d stuck to that plan I would have been home by Christmas, but no plan survives contact with the enemy.
Foolishly I thought I’d try doing some dust effects on one of the tanks in the spare platoon I was painting up, just to see what it looked like.
Even more foolishly, I showed Victor who started egging me on to do that to the whole army.
So an extra two months later and the army was finished. Looking back, I’m really happy that I spent the extra time on the army, as I’m more likely to play some games with it now than if I’d not put the extra effort in.
Detours have become one the of the hallmarks of the Big Four project as, like most hobbyists, we get distracted or excited about a new release.
The release of Bulge: British proved to be no exception as everyone (including Chris) had unfinished business when it came to the British forces – whether it was an army that had been on the painting list for a long time, or something that provoked excitement during the design phase, everyone wanted to take part in a Great British Paint Off…
A little while ago, whilst I was powering through my last batches of painting for my British I thought it would be fun if the four of us took another detour. Casey was already talking about doing a Ram Formation, Wayne had been wanting to do Comets since the plastics originally came out, and Victor is always onboard for some painting fun.
Fast forward a few weeks after having “finished” all my short-term British goals and I said the words “Whose idea was this again?” (having genuinely forgotten it was my idea) only to be met with a resounding chorus of “YOURS!”
So here we are… I’m getting back on the British wagon and much like Casey I am going to be working on Canadian Rams. I figured this was the only Tank Formation I hadn’t painted so that made it the safe option to be able to complete over the Christmas break.
I am keeping the force all about the in-Formation units as much as possible as I already have a lot of support units.
Eagle-eyed readers will know that I have already completed the Land Mattresses so I will be painting an additional troop of Rams to make up for that minor shortcut (and an OP tank). In order to keep the theme of a Canadian force running through the army I will be painting up the extra Firefly tanks (since all of mine have 11th Armoured decals on them and these will need Maple Leaf insignia), adding platoons of Staghounds for recon, and even Staghound AA instead of the normal Crusaders (they will be using the Crusader stat line, I’m just doing it for fun).
It should be a fun army to paint and play with, and best of all it pushes me ever closer to have 200 British teams painted!
A few years ago, I built ten Comets with the intention of collecting a British Comet Armoured Squadron. However, a bunch of other projects got in the way and I never got around to painting them. With our next Big Four challenge being to build a Bulge: British force it has given me a chance to get this project going again.
I’ve decided to base my Comet force on the 2nd Fife & Forfar Yeomanry, 29th Armoured Brigade, 11th Armoured Division. This armoured regiment was the junior regiment in the 29th Armoured Brigade, and is from the region of Scotland between Firth of Forth and the River Tay (Fife) and then north of that around Dundee and Forfar. By World War II this regiment had transformed into an armoured regiment from its humble beginnings in the 18th Century as two volunteer cavalry units.
My force is pretty simple, I start with a core of my ten Comets, organised into an HQ of two, and two troops of four. Added to the HQ I have two Cromwell CS tanks armed with 95mm howitzer that can fire as artillery and provide smoke. My third Formation Unit is a Stuart Recce Patrol from the regimental headquarters. My support will consist of a Rifle Platoon from the 159th Brigade, to which the 2nd Fife & Forfar Yeomanry had been attached. These are from the 1st Battalion, The Herefordshire Regiment. My last unit is a SAS Section of three jeeps for another Spearhead option on top of the Stuarts.
As the junior regiment of the 29th Armoured Brigade, the 2nd Fife & Forfar Yeomanry’s arm of service number is 53, and this was displayed on the left of the hull in a red box, with the 11th Armoured Division’s bull on the right. Their turret tactical markings are blue, and as I have selected B Squadron to field, these will be squares. The Stuarts, being from the HQ, will have blue diamonds.
When we first started the Big Four of Late War project my first choice of army was actually British as I had never done a British army before, but had always wanted to.
So when Chris started driving the Bulge: British detour bus I was all on board.
While working on the book the list that really grabbed my attention was the Ram Armoured Squadron. They are just so ugly and cool at the same time. It’s like a giant sat on a Sherman. I’m also a sucker for extra machine gun turrets, so they tick that box as well.
A quick Google search turned up a colourised Ram tank photo with black Mickey Mouse camouflage on the top of the turret and bottom of the hull, which was all the evidence that I needed to decide on a unique paint scheme to help make my army look different to everyone else’s.
For the Force I decided to go with a three-tank HQ supported by three Ram Armoured Troops and a Firefly (late) Armoured Troop. For the sake of completeness, and to have some flexibility in the force, I’m also going to paint up an extra Ram Armoured Troop, for a total of fifteen Ram tanks.
Game-wise I think the Ram tanks are an interesting choice over Shermans as they are very similar, with the 6 pounder trading a point of firepower for increased anti-tank over the Sherman. They will penetrate slightly more often, but won’t have quite as many effective shots.
Since it’s a Canadian list, like Chris I’m really leaning into the theme by taking the Crusader AA Troop, but modelling them as Staghound AA vehicles since the divisional support comes in the form of Staghounds from the 12th Manitoba Dragoons. The final unit in the force is an Archer Anti-tank Troop since they were used by the Third Canadian Division.
I’m already planning to expand this army by Adding some Stuarts, M10’s and a Kangaroo Rifle platoon later to give me even more options.
The year was 2009. I had just started working at Battlefront, and Casey had recently sent “Hell’s Highway” to print. When we got the first copies back, I was immediately drawn to the Cromwell and Challenger tanks. These became my first Flames Of War army, the Welsh Guards in operation Market Garden.
Unfortunately I have since sold this army, without having any pictures of it. 13+ years later I’m looking to rebuild this force, but now in glorious plastic!
The resin and metal army made use of the individually sculpted Cromwells, with a bit of character and fun details on each tank. This time I’ve gone to town adding my own, with a mix of old metal bits, paper, bandage gauze, and sculpting putty. I’m not very experienced or confident with sculpting, but found organic shapes like bags and tarps fairly easy. Hopefully they look convincing when painted!
My list almost wrote itself. I’ve been burnt in the past by not painting enough of a formation, and having to go back a year later to add 3-4 more tanks, so this time I made sure to include all the Cromwells and Challengers I’ll ever need (ok maybe a 4th troop one day…). So it was only those last 6 points I had to decide on, and the Stuarts made sense both for theme and valuable Spearhead. My 2009 army had more Cromwells, and less Challengers, but who can resist that AT 15 …
Later on I’ll have list options to include my American Paratrooper platoon which is thematic as the Welsh Guards responded to a German counterattack against Waal River bridge held by Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division.
I’m eager to get started on these, but painting all the stowage is a little daunting. Nothing a little Christmas relaxation time can’t handle!
It has been a long but rewarding Late War Journey for me, but I feel like it is complete*. Over the past 3 and a bit years I have painted 6 different Formations and a good percentage of the Support options that a British player can field. Looking at the array of models I have averaged around one tank, gun team or infantry base per week throughout the entire journey. Now that might not seem like much on the surface, but during that same time I have also painted a massive pile of other models including my WWIII: Team Yankee Czechoslovakians, finished off my North African Americans* and painted a pile of other bits and pieces.
*Is an army ever really finished? In both of these cases not really but I am looking forward to not having to paint to a deadline and instead just painting as I please.
So what did I get for the past 40+ months of effort? Check it out… (click on the images for bigger pictures)
First up – a Sherman Company that works for both D-Day: British and Bulge: British, and a Cromwell Company that can be fielded in both books. In fact, if I am prepared to turn a blind eye to some of my unit markings, I can field a Hussar Cromwell Armoured Squadron (with Challenger tanks) and a Cromwell Armoured Squadron (with Firefly tanks) at the same time. Turns out I have painted a LOT of Cromwell tanks!
In addition I have my M10’s, Archers and Chaffees for support and recon work.
In the second pile I have my Comet Squadron (note, more Cromwell tanks – CS this time), a Churchill Squadron, and my all time favourite – a Recce Squadron of Daimlers and Dingos.
In addition we have a pile of Support options there – carriers, infantry and guns for the Recce Squadron, 3 batteries of artillery, Bofors and Crusader AA and objectives. The only thing missing is my flight of Typhoons that appear to have gone off on a temporary sortie….?
The total force comes in around 640 points – I have a couple of units that I cannot use yet as I have a little more painting to do (see, no army is ever really finished!).
So, what next? I have a few things that I would like to do just to really finish the army. Extra options just to round things out a bit…
More Infantry – I’d like a second Motor Platoon and eventually upgrade both to being Rifle Platoons. I’d also like to paint some M5 Halftracks to carry them.
More Bofors – I took a short cut and made my guns swap-able. I’d like to paint 3 more guns and permanently glue them to the ground mounts.
More Carriers – mainly Wasps and an MMG Carrier Platoon.
More Artillery and AOPs – for completion sake I would like a Platoon of Priests and a Sherman AOP, Carrier AOP, and Auster AOP.
All in all, it is probably around 30 extra models – by my standards that is quite a bit of effort, but in comparison to the 160+ I have already painted it doesn’t seem like much.
I do feel that there is something I have forgotten to put on my wish list but I am sure the rest of the Big Four team will remind me…
Three and a half years ago when this project started I never would have expected that it would have gone as far as it has, and for that I am truly grateful.
Looking back at my first couple of posts talking about building a Sherman Company it is awesome to look at how the force has developed with the release of Bulge: British and whilst some things have stayed the same, some have changed!
The biggest change is also the most obvious – two Firefly tanks per platoon really enhances the killing power of each unit and really makes each platoon more of a threat. The downside is that by adding the extra Firefly tanks (and going to AT 15) I have had to remove one of my go-to units, the M10s. But I feel like I am not going to miss them as much (time will tell).
But my (almost) complete Formation does look pretty awesome if I do say so myself…
Looking at it arrayed like this gives me a few ideas for lists that I want to run and I am very excited to get the Shermans on the table again. The only downside is that they are competing with all the other shiny new models I have recently painted!
First up is my “Shermans All Day” list where I focus on a single Formation with as many in-Formation units as possible. This should make it durable on the tabletop whilst still having all the tools to do what is needed (Spearhead, AA, high AT etc).
Having Platoons of four tanks are just that much more resilient than units of three and my previous experiences with this force really rammed that home as enemies only had to knock out two tanks to really remove the unit as a threat – either the Firefly was gone, or it was all by itself, and either way it was testing to stay on the table. Four tanks gives a little more redundancy inside each unit.
The second list I am keen to try is an evolution of my recon support force (how I love Daimlers and Dingos!) and removes a platoon of tanks (including 2 Firefly tanks) but adds an entire Recon Formation with a nice mix of models – infantry, mortars, and a lot of “fast-shooty-stuff” that should enhance the army when playing against more balanced enemy forces.
I genuinely love the idea of playing with both forces and the choice of which one to use would probably come down to which one of my regular opponents I am playing and how many tanks I think they are turning up with…
Back in 2009 we released the book “Hells Highway” which focused on the mechanised forces involved in Operation Market Garden and the road march to link up with the British Paras in Arnhem. As a Studio we really went to town with the Market Garden releases; two books, our second Firestorm Campaign, and a whole lot of internal playtesting and games. It was a great time and many of us started building new armies, inspired by the books and the narrative we were trying to tell.
In my case I started building a Sherman Company, a Cromwell Company and a Household Cavalry force. Starting with a hiss and a roar the project ended up unfinished and relegated to the garage as I got distracted by “the next shiny project”.
Fast forwarding 13 or so years I am now a much leaner, meaner and more focused painting machine when it comes to Late War British…
So where are we now? Two and a half years ago I started work on my Cromwell Formation and I would be lying if I said I didn’t dig out some of our old V3 books and look ahead in time to see where we might be heading. Part of my reasoning for picking the 15th/19th King’s Royal Hussars was the future inclusion of the Challenger.
Now I have a full Cromwell Formation from D-Day: British with enough models that I can also field the force as Hussars Armoured Squadron or (if we ignore the decals) a Cromwell Armoured Squadron, both from Bulge: British.
Looking forward I have a couple of lists I am keen to try out against the team. The first list puts a lot of points into two full strength units of Challengers to maximise my tank killing potential at the loss of HE rounds to dig out enemy infantry. I’ve added in the Land Mattress Battery in as a counter to dug in infantry or guns, but the force is really tuned towards trying to kill the enemies tanks as fast as possible.
The second list trades out the second Challenger Platoon for another platoon of Cromwells, swapping the Land Mattress for some Cromwell CS tanks (which are in Formation) and the Belgian Resistance Command Card that allows me to remove a Minefield (great if I am trying to rush an enemy force that is keen on defence) or shift a Ranged-In Marker after deployment (to get the most out of my CS tanks).
I am really excited to try out both of these Formations and (hopefully) surprise some folks with what a high speed tank killing force can look like!
The return of the Comet to Late War is really going to change things up for British players as it gives us something that hits as hard as a Panther and is as fast, or faster, than almost anything else on the battlefield. If you are looking for a tank that can rapidly move around and strike then this might be the tank you have been waiting for – just make sure you kill whatever you are shooting at as a Front Armour of 7 isn’t putting up much of a fight…
Long time followers of the Big Four Journey will not be surprised that I jumped on the Comet bandwagon faster than… well faster than a Comet! I’ve had a stash of largely built models hiding in my pile of shame, tucked out in the garage for a long time now, but thanks the last few years of painting British tanks I saw a “small” Formation of 10 models as being something like a holiday compared with the masses of Shermans and Cromwells I’ve painted in the past!
Thinking about the list I quickly came to the conclusion that I didn’t really care about the list. I know that sounds weird but with Comets being a fairly expensive tank and 10 of them taking up 70 points I basically decided that I have a pile of support options already painted and a few more planned, so why sweat about how I was going to use them.
As I write this though I thought I should have some sort of a plan… so here goes.
A Bob Each Way… This a very New Zealand (or Australian) saying and basically means you are hedging your bets. In this case it means I am thinking about a fairly well rounded force with a little bit of everything.
The force is based around the 10 Comets (of course) and includes a pair of CS tanks for some artillery and smoke support, whilst the Crusader AA are in there as my favourite 3 point Formation morale boosting unit. Rounding out the Formation are a unit of 3 Dingos. For 1 point they bring Spearhead and another unit to keep me on the table.
The list gets a little strange with the inclusion of the Bofors. These are really there as I was running out of good ideas, but some light guns struck me as a useful option to keep an objective safe from some roving recon or aggressive infantry.
Speaking of aggressive infantry, I have a Rifle Platoon to round out the force as these are good on attack or defence. I also picked them because if I am forced to keep a portion of my army off the table, then the Rifle Platoon, Crusader AA and a platoon of Comets come to 40 points. This makes a heck of a flanking force!
In Your Face! The second list that I am keen to try is much simpler and way less cunning. It retains the 10 Comets, 3 Crusader AA and the Rifle Platoon, but trades everything else out to add in Chaffees and two units of Daimler Armoured Car Troops.
This gives me 3 units with Spearhead, a whole lot of fast and hard hitting tanks, a reasonably robust Formation and some infantry to go an assault an objective.
Sounds like a plan?
With the Comets now ready for some battlefield action I just need to organise a game with one of the boys..
The release of Bulge: German has resulted in much “list-noodling” here at Big Four, so we decided why don’t we all commit to a list each and see what we can achieve in a month. We also thought we should all include some of the new Tiger II or Jagdtiger plastic tanks. Some of us have gone for full Formations of these beasts, while others are being more subtle.
I was already planning to paint a whole lot of tanks from Bulge: German (to the point that I had already managed to scavenge, assemble and prime some King Tigers), so when Victor suggested Big Four: Big Cats I was all onboard (and already ahead).
My list is based around five Tiger II tanks, although I’ll be painting six for those extra big games. Since they are in Formation I’m also going to paint up a Fallschirmjager Platoon. Despite them being hit on 3+ they are such a large unit that they will be scary on attack and difficult to move on defence. I’m rounding out the army with some Pumas.
This is the first time in a while painting and German armour, and recently I got a new airbrush which I haven’t had much practice with yet. I started painting the camouflage on one of the Tiger II tanks, but wasn’t happy with either the colours or paint application. Luckily I had a few old metal and resin Hetzers lying around already base coated, which I sacrificed to do a bit of colour and paint consistency experiments, and to use to practice my camo on.
Happy with the colours, but not wanting to wreck any of my Kingtigers (since they are in short supply in the office), I have started painting a test Panzer IV/70 platoon, to make sure that I’m happy with the end result before I start the army (Victor thinks I’m crazy for painting a test platoon before starting my army).
At first I was worried that my Dunkelgelb was too light, but it’s interesting how a little bit of streaking and chipping changes the overall tone of the paint, despite the base colour not changing.
Big Cats = Big Fun! When it comes to Flames Of War I feel like that is a moto to live by.
Over the years I have painted my fair share of Jagdtigers and King Tigers (not to mention Tigers and Panthers) so when Victor proposed this little detour I was a little on the fence… till I got the new plastics in hand and decided that 7 new plastic Jagdtigers would weigh about as much as one of my old metal and resin models.
I didn’t want to over think my list as I really wanted to do something straight forward and simple, and something that I could use as a springboard for future expansion or to integrate some old models I already had painted from my existing Jagdtiger Company.
So how do you make a simple Jagdtiger Company with no real thoughts about how it will compete? Simple, you just put in ALL the Jadgtigers… 7 to be precise, and then flavour with 4 Wirbelwinds to deal with pesky infantry, planes and light vehicles.
How am I going to fit 118 points of models in a 100 point list I hear you saying? Simple… you make them “less-good” through the use of the 512. Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 2nd Company Command Card. With this card I reduce my Motivation and Skill, but save quite a few points.
I did initially think about only doing 5 or 6 Jagdtigers so I would have some points for something a bit more useful in a competitive situation – some Panzer IV’s and/or Panzergrenadiers for example – but these are all things I can do later and right now I just wanted to paint some cool models and with 7 Jagdtigers and 4 Wirbelwinds I ‘never’ need to paint any more in the future.
The idea of a Big Four: Big Cats detour wasn’t as simple for me as the other guys as I am already painting Germans. I umm’ed and ahh’ed about what to do, not out of indecision, but which to one to pick for this particular force. I have bunch of plans for all of them as part of my general Big Four German plan. In the end I decided to some of the new Tiger II heavy tanks. This is an impressive and easy to put together tank kit.
I went with SS just to get a little more in the force, but I will probably paint them so they can be used as Waffen-SS or Heer heavy tanks.
So that’s five Tiger II tanks, but I have assembled six, so I will paint all six. The other new plastic I’m building is the new Hummel self-propelled 15cm howitzer. This adds some heavy punch to my supporting fire. Me being weird and contrary again, I modelled up a Panzer IV OP out of spare Panzer IV bits I had. This is modelled as a Panzer IV J with bits from the Panzer IV F, Panzer IV H and some Panzer IV J bits from our old resin and plastic Panzer IV J model. Added the periscope made from plastic rod and some metal wire radio aerials and shaved off the Zimmerit.
I’m also going to paint up a Volksgrenadier Rifle Platoon. The list has five teams, but I’ll paint up all seven teams and maybe a Panzerschreck.
This should keep me busy over the next few weeks.
There’s plenty to be excited about in Bulge: German, it’s hard to choose where to start. When we decided to do this little 100 point challenge, I came up with many different lists. Most of them were my usual “max out on big tanks and then see how many points are left”. Instead I wanted to push myself to do something more varied that will also give me the building blocks for many lists later. So I settled on this:
Down the road I’ll have ways to expand it; add halftracks and mobile mortars, make a Panther or Tiger II company, add artillery, etc to further expand out the whole Kampfgruppe.
For now though this will be a fun little force to paint if I can get it all done in time. I’m lagging behind the others and haven’t started assembly, but I’ve got everything purchased…
As for painting, I did a quick test model to see if the scheme I had in my head would work. It uses blu-tac for the camo pattern, and relies on some simple chipping to act as highlights. I’m happy with the general look, and it’s actually quite fast to do.
Plus now I have a Panzer III OP ready for some Hummels later!
The one hurdle I see in my plan is that I’m not very fast at painting infantry. Luckily it’s not a lot of teams and I think I’ve got a nice quick way of doing German field grey, based on the commander of my panzer III OP.
Wish me luck!
Stay tuned to see how we all progress with our armies over the coming weeks…
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