Building my Czechoslovakian army has been a real labour of love over the past few years and other than a previously confessed love of the Vz. 61 Skorpion machine-pistol I have no idea what pushed me over the edge to start building the army, let alone how it go so big…
Thinking about this as I type I do have to pay credit to a gentleman called Tom Wise who, if you are a very old time Flames Of War player, you will know as the guy that when he built and army, he built the whole army!
Before I type anything more, lets look at the army in all of it’s glory (click the image for a bigger version).
With my current batch of painting finished (which included the 10 T-72B tanks with ERA, the Praga SP AA, and the 6 SU-17 aircraft) I can almost field any combination of models I want, but broadly speaking I have options for:
T-55AM2 Tank Battalion,
T-72M Tank Battalion,
T-72B Tank Battalion,
BMP Motor Rifle Battalion, or a
Wheeled Motor Rifle Battalion
Each of these have plenty of support options to choose from to “buff” the Formation or provide Force Support with some units like the BMP’s capable of doing double duty as infantry carriers, either in their own Formation or as a grey-box inside a tank Formation, or as Scouts if I am using the OT-64s to move the infantry around.
Strangely though, looking at the picture of everything on the table, I can tell you that I am still not done! I regret not painting both T-72 Battalions up to a slightly more resilient 16 tanks each, I’d like to add some Carnations, perhaps more Pragas, maybe some “what-if” Shilkas (I love the look of them), another 7 T-55 tanks as a dedicated “T-55AM2 Missile Tank Company” (I’d just use a different numbering sequence to help me spot them on the battlefield), and last but certainly not least… Hinds. Four of them for a little more air support!
With all that being said and done though, I think I might take a break from green tanks for a bit. Victor is making noises about a short project he wants us to go and with the last part of the year being a return to my Late War British I think I need a break and a different colour of tank in front of my brush…
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 75mm GMC Tank Destroyer 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!
*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!
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
And here’s what I’m planning to add, which will give me 140 points to work with!
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!
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.
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
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!
A long time ago (well 18 months) I finished up my first platoons of Churchills and Daimlers (and Dingos).
Churchills are one of the most iconic tanks of World War II and the Daimler (and Dingo) are just very cool little models. Even back then I knew I wanted to paint more, but with so many other things to work on I put the extra platoon of each on the back burner. Needless to the say for the past year or so I have been feeling guilty about that as I have been trying to paint “entire” Formations, or at least as close to an entire Formation as makes sense given the points.
Over Christmas I managed to finish up a few units that had been hanging over me, so whilst I was on a roll I decided to knock these out as well. Finally having “full” sized Formations makes me pretty keen to get them on the tabletop.
First up, the Churchills… as you can see that is a lot of armour!
And once you work out the points on Forces, it is close to a full 100 points without the Crocodiles or AVREs. Of course that just means I need to challenge one of the other Big Four to a 150 point game…
On the flip side, we have the awesome little Daimlers and Dingos whose size belies their capabilities. Awesome as a recon unit, fantastic as a small strike force, and capable of punching above their weight they are now and forever one of my favourite models in the game.
A full Formation has something for everyone with Universal Carriers, Infantry, 6 pdr guns and mortars in support. All this and less than 50 points!
Maybe I need to put the Churchills and the Recce Squadron together and challenge someone to a 200 point game!
Now with these two platoons done, along with the extra bits and pieces I completed over Christmas I have (more or less) finished everything that I was planning on doing from the D-Day: British book. Guess I can take a break, think about what is coming in the Bulge: British book and start planning…
What’s that Victor? You want to talk to me about some new project? But… but… okay…
Every Christmas I budget some time to hide out in the garage and get some painting done. Last year was no different as I knew I had a few projects that had been lurking around on my to-do list for as long as I could remember.
First up on my list were my Bofors guns and 6 pdrs. My guilt factor had been dialed up to 11 on these as base coated the guns back in 2020 but had just not gotten around to progressing them any further. Each time I went out to my painting desk I saw them sitting them. A sad reminder of something that I should have finished long ago!
In the end I took a couple of shortcuts and reduced the crew counts on both guns to slightly cut down the painting but to also give me so space on the bases for scenic elements. For the Bofors guns it was quite fun turning a pairs of medium rural scenic bases into large bases with a little plastic card and milliput!
Next up were the mortars and HMGs. The mortars were for my Recce Squadron where you can have a battery of six, whilst the HMGs… they were on the off chance I end up painting a second Motor Platoon and fielded a company at some point. I thought that whilst I was “in the zone” I may as well get them done now or risk never doing them.
I’m really happy to have finished these units off as it clears the way for me to start planning my next round of British painting with the Bulge book coming out later in the year, it also frees me up for a couple of detours with the Warsaw Pact and Bulge: German books both coming up…
Who knows what the future will hold on those fronts, but it is safe to say that tanks will be involved!
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.
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!
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.
If you spent any time in the Battlefront Studio over the past 8 or so years it would come as no surprise that a number of us have soft spots for the Finns, Hungarians and Romanians. Whilst they may not be one of the “Big Four” nations many of us have built Axis Allies armies of the years; from Andrew’s winter Finns, to Victor’s, Wayne’s, and my Hungarian armies, to a Mid War Romanian army that I painted before joining the team. Needless to say when Victor suggested a small detour project I thought “Why not!” The only question was what do do?
Thinking about all of our armies it was Phil’s Late War Romanian Panzer IV based force that I faced years ago whilst we were play testing the Red Bear Compilation that stuck in the back of my mind as a force I’d like to replicate. The suggestion of a detour was the final reason to get around to painting this “small” and somewhat contained force.
Full disclosure, whilst it was Phil’s army that pointed me down this path I was really tempted to do a StuG (or TA) force but as I have never painted one of plastic Panzer IV’s this seemed like a good opportunity to do so, and in numbers that could put a little fear in to my opponents.
After a little list noodling I came up with a pretty basic plan that involved maxing out the T-4 (Panzer IV) Medium Tank Company with an HQ, four platoons of T-4’s, one platoon of TA (StuG) assault guns and an Armoured Rifle Platoon of infantry in Sd Kfz 251 halftracks. Boom! 91 points spent, 18 tanks, 10 stands of infantry and 5 halftracks.
This was where I found myself on the horns of a dilemma. I really wanted some TACAM T-60’s as I think they are cute little models but I just didn’t have the points. Likewise the PaK40 and Reșița anti-tanks pack a lot of punch but were also out of my budget.
I turned to a platoon of AB (Sd Kfz 222) armoured cards (for 3 points) as every army likes some Spearhead and a Command Card unit of HS-129 aircraft. These lack the bombs of the Stukas but still give me another cool model to add to the mix and something that can hunt those pesky teams that try to hide at the back of the table.
I now have a pile of models that need assembling and a painting plan/scheme that needs testing… and Victor wants the armies finished by the end of June! If anyone needs me I’ll be out the garage building and painting!
The Big Four of Late-War are getting excited about Bagration: Axis-Allies. We’re preparing new armies, add-ons to old forces, and even some terrain. Join us over the next few weeks to see our progress on Instagram, and stay tuned for some live content on Twitch.
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