Germans… Germans… and more Germans

I have a massive list of Germans that I’ve been wanting to paint for a while now, but I’ve been too busy painting my Winter Soviets and Americans.

The Big Four: Big Cats detour gave me the chance to test paint schemes that I plan to expand across a large German project that I have been planning and building for many years.

The King Tigers were just the start of the army and eventually I’ll be able to field any German tank that I want. They will all be painted using the same method so will look consistent regardless of the models that I want to but on the table.

Rather than painting them in one big batch, I’m going to design some sensible armies to help split them into painting batches.

With the King Tigers and Pumas ticked off the list, the release of the new Mid War Eastern Front army deals makes it a great time to tick the Panzer III’s and Panzer IVs off the list.

The Humble Panzer III… In Late War
I love Panzer III’s. Ever since the old V3 book ‘Dogs & Devils’ came out I’ve wanted to paint a Herman Goring Mixed Panzer Company as it’s a great way to field a lot of them. At one point I even went and bought an entire army of resin and metal Panzer III’s and IV’s, but that been sitting in my drawer of shame… assembled… base coated… unloved… and it’s now time to replace them with plastic and move them from the armies started column to the armies completed column.

The great thing about the humble Panzer III’s and Panzer IVs is that (as long as you aren’t a power gamer) they are useful in both Mid War and Late War. While I’m going to primarily paint these tanks for Late War, these will definitely find their way into my Mid War games, and by painting them for Late War I’ll always have enough for any Mid War army that I want to build.

I’m basing my list off a Mixed Panzer Company from Fortress Europe, as that’s the only way of getting lots of Panzer III’s in an army in Late War.

All of the combat platoons are a mix of Panzer’s which are backed up by Fallschirmjäger and Marders, as that is on theme with Herman Goring in Italy and uses the Infantry that I’m currently painting for my Bulge: German Kingtiger force.

In a later batch I’m going to paint up a few Tigers and Elefants, which will end up in my Herman Goring list as they are also very thematic for Herman Goring.

Modeling The Vehicles
Since these Panzer III’s are old model tanks by Late-War standards, I’ve done a bit of surgery on the schürzen to remove some of the panels to help make the models look old and beaten up.

I’ve achieved this by using the blank schürzen rails from the Panzer IV H sprue and carefully cutting up and rebuilding the schürzen. The other bonus to doing this is that I can now leave the tracks separate for painting.

Since I like unique models, the Panzer IVs I am going to build as late production Panzer IV G models that were in production between 1943 and 44, which puts them at home in both Mid War and Late War.

It was actually an easier conversion to make my late production Panzer IV G’s than to modify my Panzer III’s.

Initially the Panzer IV G was armed with the L/43 barrel (which comes on the Panzer IV early model), but when the longer L/48 gun became available it became the standard armament for the tank and all the tanks that were returned to Germany were retrofitted with the new gun. For the L/48 barrels I stole the barrel off the same Panzer IV sprues that I stole the schürzen rails from.

Other visual changes include the addition of a spare wheel stowage box on the side of the hull, which comes on the Wirbelwind frame. Conveniently the Wirbelwind comes with the early Panzer IV sprue, so that was an easy way to get most of the model.

The Late Production Panzer IV G also removed the vision ports on the side of the turret for ease of production. Later Panzer IVs were starting to receive turret skirts anyway, which made the vision ports irrelevant. To model this it was quite easy to shave the vision ports off the turret.

Technically these should probably have Schurzen and the later single piece hatch, rather than the split commanders hatch, but I just prefer the look of Panzer IVs without the schürzen.

~Casey

Big Four: Big Cats!

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.

~Casey

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.

~Chris

 

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.

~Wayne

 

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!

~Victor

Stay tuned to see how we all progress with our armies over the coming weeks…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Back To The Romanian Grindstone

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…

~Chris

Panzerschreck 2021: There And Back Again…

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.

~Chris

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.

~Victor

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?”

Casey’s Best Painted Medal

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

Stalin’ Around

Over the past 8 weeks I’ve been working hard to finish the army that Chris and I are going to take to Panzerschreck, and they are finally ready to show off.

The bulk of this was 10 IS-2s. I actually painted up an extra Platoon of IS-85s as well for a total of 13 (you can never have enough IS tanks painted). I also painted a mix of early and late hulls so I’m covered for when the next Soviet book comes out.

The last two units in the army were the Lend-lease ZSU Quad .50 cals and the captured Sd Kfz 251 half-tracks that go with my reconnaissance platoon. I’m especially happy with how the Sd Kfz 251s came out. I chose to paint the mid war versions just because I think they look cool.

I think the different vehicle colours look quite cool and adds a bit of colour variety, at the same time the whitewash helps tie everything together.
It’s a bit of a shame that I didn’t think to add Valentines to the list, then the force would have equipment from all four of the main nations.

All I have left to do before next weekend’s tournament is finish the objective markers.

~Casey

Autumn Snows – A Twitch Battle Report

Casey, using his Big Four Soviet army, and Victor, with his brand new Hungarians, threw down in a game of Free For All on Casey’s freshly finished table.

Can the Hungarians hold back the tide?

 

Casey’s Winter Table… In All Its Glory

So here is my winter table in its finished glory!

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!

~Casey

StuG (Sturmi) Life!

I got into the office late one day and Victor ambushed me and said “Chris and I have been talking, and we’re doing an Axis-Allies detour… and by the way, you’re doing the Finns… all you need to paint is 11 Sturmis”, and just like that I had another army to paint.

Everyone has or needs a gaming friend like Victor ‘The Enabler’ Pesch.

As it so happens, I was actually already tempted to do a Finnish army at some point anyway, this just moved it up the schedule. Finns are an often romanticized army, reflecting their David versus Goliath struggle that we all love, which is why they’ve always been a popular and requested army in Flames Of War. I’ve personally been interested in them since watching Talvisota (The Winter War) about 15 years ago, I’ve just never had the time to paint the army.

As Victor said when he pitched the detour, all I need to paint for the army to start with is 11 Sturmi assault-guns. I’ll bulk the rest of the army out with the whitewashed Soviets that I have been painting lately, but will probably paint more T-34s for the army later anyway. Sure, they don’t have Finnish markings, but I’m ok with that. The only other thing I have to paint is an ISU-152, but I’m planning on painting a unit of those at some point for my Soviets anyway. but this list comes out to roughly 100 points. I’m going to paint these in their traditional 3 colour camo.

The Sturmi assault-guns are nice models. They combine Battlefront’s awesome StuG kit with log and concrete armour add-ons, as well as the iconic stowage bin. All that is required is a little bit of clipping to remove the Schurzen mounts.

The other way I could go with the Finns is to go Soviet tank heavy with a mix of T-34s (76mm and 85mm) and KV tanks, supported by some Sturmi assault-guns, with a few points left over for command cards. The great thing about this army is that it’s Soviet gear in competent hands. I’ll be interested to see how they perform.

While the others are racing along to get their armies done by the Axis-Allies launch, I’m going to take a bit longer because I still have some Soviets to finish for our Panzerschreck tournament in 6 weeks, and I’m also trying to finish my winter gaming table in time to have a battle report and take on Victors Hungarians with my Soviets soon, so that’s going to be my immediate goal.

Happy Hunting!

~Casey