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.
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!
Another Big Four Detour in the books! Our Big Cats project was a lot of fun, and we’ve all ended up with quite unique armies, even though they share a similar theme.
Lets take a closer look at everyones hard work and see what the team thought of their new armies….
I really enjoyed painting this King Tiger army. It was nice to paint a small army for a change. The King Tigers and Pumas turned out well, but my favourite part of the army are the Fallschirmjäger. They took the longest, and were the most challenging to paint, but I’m quite proud of them. They are possibly some of the best infantry that I’ve painted.
Also, now I have painted three out of the four big four armies for Big Four of Late War… so I may have to paint a British army to complete the set.
Like the rest of the guys, I was very excited to jump on the bandwagon and paint some Germans. If nothing else they would provide a nice change of pace from all the British Green I have been doing recently, but hopefully it would be the kick-start for a new late late very late German army.
I’m really excited to have completed this starter force, but a little embarrassed that I failed to do my stretch goal of a pair of Puma Platoons and a battery of Hummels. It wasn’t a lot of extra work, but I found my focus divided across too many projects and decided that they could wait. They sit at home next to my hobby space taunting me every time I sit down…
On the positive I have made a start and am eager to do the first of what I hope will be many expansions to the force over the coming months!
For Bulge: German I‘ve added a few more Units to my Big Four Germans in general, but as an entirely separate challenge we all made a 100 point force based on one of the new Big Cats released for the book. I chose Tiger II heavy tanks. These were great kits to assemble and paint. I picked an unusual camouflage scheme known as “Octopus” because of its wavy lines and small rings. It did not prove as difficult as I thought it might be.
Other than the six Tiger IIs I painted I added some self-propelled artillery with 3x Hummel (also new plastic). I went with a simpler scheme to match my other Germans. To spot for these I converted up a Panzer IV OP, which I will just field using the Panzer III OP card and stats. I also painted a pair of Sd Kfz 234/1 (2cm) 8-wheeled armoured cars (the Puma’s less popular brother), these will also be used across multiple German Forces.
My final unit was a Volksgrenadier Rifle Platoon. For this force it is at minimum strength with just five teams to fit in the Force, but I have since painted another two teams and two Panzerschrecks. These have now become the start of a Volksgrenadier Company.
Still have more Bulge: German units I’ve completed, more on those next time.
When we started this little themed project I didn’t think I would end up with 7 reconnaissance vehicles and an infantry platoon, but here we are. The big cats are the stars of the show, and while I’m really happy with how the Tiger II’s turned out, I think the Panthers might be my favourite.
It has left me eager to expand the force with even more tanks (8 more Panthers perhaps?) and a second platoon of infantry (with half tracks). But for now the Dunklegelb must be washed off the brushes to make way for the next project…
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.
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…
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…
An army that started life 7 years ago as a small Panzer force has now grown to 140 points with lots of options to bring to the battlefield.
I’m really proud of this army as it showcases all the painting techniques and tricks I’ve accrued over the years, in contrast to my Late-War American force which was more of a “get the models on the table” paint job.
Each unit has a lot of care put in to it, and seeing all 35 models together makes it all worth it.
Check out the all units below (click on the images for larger versions).
Like Chris said there’s always more that could be added (Infantry, Captured 25 pdrs, long barrelled Panzer IV’s) but for now it’s time to move on to the next “Big” project…
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!
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