A Tank-Hunting We Shall Go!

As well as my Big Cats force already featured, I have also been painting some other new things for my Late-war Germans. The first of these is something I meant to get done for Bagration, but only finished as we started working on our Bulge units. These are a Unit of Panzerjäger 38(t) Hetzers done in base green with a hard-edge camouflage.

The second completed set of tank-hunters is a Heavy Tank-hunter Company of seven Jagdpanthers. I also painted this starting with a base olive green. Some late production Jagdpanthers and Panthers were based coated in green rather than dark yellow. These seem to then had dark yellow and red brown added as camouflage over the top.

I’ve organised this into a HQ of one Jagdpanther, and two platoons of three each. I based these on some black & white photos, as well as examples painted by 1/35 scale modellers.

I will run both these new additions to my collection with my other German forces as I feel the urge. With the Jagdpanthers now added, I have four different armoured formations I can run with my Late-war Germans now.

~Wayne

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAK Detour Complete

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.

Complete Panzer Tank Company

Check out the all units below (click on the images for larger versions).

Panzer III Tank Company HQ
Panzer III Tank Platoon
Panzer IV Tank Platoon
Panzer II Light Tank Platoon
Sd Kfz 221 and 222 Light Scout Troop
Sd Kfz 231 Heavy Scout Troop
Diana Tank-hunter Platoon
8.8cm Heavy AA Platoon
15cm Bison Infantry Gun Platoon
15cm (Sf) Lorraine Schlepper Artillery Battery
Tiger (P) Heavy Tank

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…

~Victor

Detour to the Desert

Chris and Victor are heading to the desert!

They’ve both started armies a while ago, and hot on the heels of ‘North Africa’ they’ve decided to dig them out and breath new life into their forces.

Victor’s Afrikakorps

About 7 years ago I started an Early-War DAK army. It began as just 6 Panzer III’s (and a captured Stuart…) which allied with Waynes Italians for a doubles tournament.

Check out the coverage of the Panzerchreck 2016 event over on the Flames Of War website…

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
2x Objectives!

And here’s what I’m planning to add, which will give me 140 points to work with!

3x Dianas
2x Bison
4x Lorraine Schlepper
2x SdKfz 231 8-rad
1x Tiger

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!

~Victor

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.

You can find out more about them on the Flames Of War website.
M3 75mm GMC…
T19 105mm HMC…

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

~Chris

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!

 

 

Wayne’s Bagration: German Update

With the next Late-war book out after Bulge: American being Bulge: German I thought I would update you on what I’ve been painting since the release of Bagration: German. I’ve added to my forces I’d built for D-Day: German with entire company of Panzer IV/70s, some Panthers, and Flakpanzer AA tanks. If I was to field everything I’d painted since I began my Germans for Big Four of Late-war I have over 280 points, and I still have more things to finish just from these first two German books, let alone all the goodies coming with the release of Bulge: German.

Here is a breakdown of the units I added from Bagration: German: 11x Panzer IV/70, 3x Panther, and 4x Wirbelwind/Ostwind. The Wirbelwind/Ostwind kit can be built as either, so I did both.

I probably go mostly with the Ostwind as it is a better anti-aircraft weapon with longer range and better firepower, though the Wirbelwind does put more shots in the air with its higher ROF.

Before Bulge: German comes out, I do have 4x Hetzers to finish off. I’ve painted them dunkelgelb, but I’m still deciding on a camouflage scheme for them.

I also plan to paint some transport for my second Panzergrenadier Platoon and maybe a headquarters so I can begin turning them into a formation. Then would follow the weapons platoons etc, but this isn’t a high priority while I’m also working on my French Rifle Company from Bulge: American (more about that later).

Once I clear these, the next models will be coming from Bulge: German, from which there are so many units and formations to choose from.

~Wayne

Wayne’s Estonian SS-Volunteer Grenadier Company

This week we are launching the Bagration: German book over on the Flames Of War website. Wayne has plenty of new models on the workbench for it, but thought he would take a look at a previous army he built and see how it comes together with this new book…

Many years ago I started work on an Estonian Grenadier Company. I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with the unusual volunteer units the Germans recruited, mostly for the Eastern front. Here the dispossessed peoples of Soviet expansion took up arms against the Soviet Union, not so much out of pro-Nazi sentiment, but in the eventual hope that they would once again earn their independence. The Baltic states, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, in particular were keen to take up arms against the Soviets. The largest corps of such troops was organised under the SS, as SS-Freiwilligen (SS Volunteers).

Estonian 20. SS- Freiwilligen-Grenadierdivision at Narva 1944…

With the release of German: Bagration I thought I’d revive my Estonian project. Currently the models in my Estonian company consist of an HQ of 2x MP40 SMG teams, two SS Grenadier Platoons with 7x MG42 & K98 rifle teams, 2x 15cm Infantry guns, 3x 3.7cm AA guns (which I think I actually painted to use for 11th SS Nordwind, as the Estonians did not have any of these), and 3x 7.5cm PaK40 anti-tank guns (painted as Heer, but I did have plans to replace them with SS crewed versions). I usually filled it out to fieldable force with some StuG or Panther support from 11. SS-Panzergrenadier Division ‘Nordwind’.

I had two Panzerschreck teams I could add to my HQ. These I have now rebased from four man teams to two man teams giving me four Panzerschreck teams.

I also used an Ost Truppen Grenadier Platoon I had as a third SS Grenadier Platoon if I needed it. This I fielded as “new recruits”, transferred from German Heer Estonian raised units and still in their Heer uniforms. However, the miniatures do have the wrong arm shield as I painted them for Normandy.
So looking at what I have, here is my Force using Bagration: German in conjunction with the 20th SS-Volunteer Grenadier Division 1st Estonian command card:

The StuG Tank Platoon is drawn from 11th SS Nordwind, as a Black Box support, and since we don’t have any 3.7cm AA guns available as yet, I will field them as 2cm AA.

I have planned to paint a machine-gun and a mortar platoon as well, some recon (also from 11th SS Nordwind) would be handy for a Spearhead and an artillery battery sounds like a good idea too…

~Wayne

Wayne’s 2020 and Beyond

This year I only managed to paint a few things for my Big Four of Late-war German army. I added more Panzer IVs, I painted a second Panzergrenadier Platoon, and I even assembled some Möbelwagen AA tanks but then knocked over the box they were in and disassembled about half of them. I still haven’t got around to repairing them yet.

However, 2021 sees the Bagration: German book coming out and there is a bunch of new kits coming out with it, so I’m excited to expand my German force some more. There are two great Tank-hunter plastic kits, each allowing you to make two different tank-hunters. One is the Hetzer/Marder kit, this can make a either the Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer or the Marder III M tank-hunters. My plan it to make at least one platoon of four Hetzers to take as support.

The other new plastic is the Panzer IV/70/Jagdpanzer IV kit. This will let you build either the Panzer IV/70 (V) tank-hunter, a powerful vehicle with Front Armour 9 and a long 7.5cm gun (the same as found on the Panther), or the Jagdpanzer IV (with the same guns as the StuG and front armour 7). I’m going to be a little more ambitious with this and build an entire company with at least 10 Panzer IV/70 vehicles.

Bagration: German will also see the release of the Wirbelwind/Ostwind plastic kit. This combines a frame that allows you to make both turrets plus a Panzer IV from which to get the hull for the complete vehicles. I plan to paint both types of turret so I can field either AA tank as required.

I’m sure I’ll get distracted by something else during the year.

I don’t have any firm New Year’s resolutions, I never really do. It kind of explains my life really. But I’d like to get a couple of partial Flames Of War projects expanded into full 100 point forces, these include my Estonian SS/Nordland SS and my Soviet Hero Shock Rifle Battalion. Both have the core infantry painted, I just need to paint a few more weapons units and support units.

I’ve been trying to think if anything I painted this year really stands out to me. I’m not sure I was really satisfied with anything I completed this year? I’m quite happy with my T-80s I painted for my World War III: Team Yankee Soviets, but I think they could have benefited with a little more time spent on them.

Hopefully next year will be a little better for all of us. Stay safe over the holidays and see you in 2021.

~Wayne

FlamesCon 2020: Wayne’s Weekend

Another Flamescon has come and gone. This year’s tournament started sombrely with a moment’s silence in the memory of Phil Petry who passed away suddenly the Tuesday before. He had entered to play his Soviet IS-2 Heavy Tank Battalion. In his honour his friends Ian and John ran his army during the tournament.

I can’t claim it was a success for me with only the one win, but I had fun. My Panzer IVs usually managed to hand out a bit of damage before they eventually succumbed to return fire.

This first game had me pitted against Kit Goldsbury who I play on a regular bases as he is one of our playtesters. We both took the manoeuvre stance, myself because he had a Ranger infantry force and I thought he would defend. The mission rolled up was Dust-up. His reserves turned up before mine, threatened the objectives and my reserves had to scramble to hold him off. Eventually he took the rearmost objective with his Stuarts after I failed to destroy them with fire and they had eradicated my Sd Kfz 250 Scout Troop. The 88s got nailed by mortars early on. 2-7.

Round Three: Jason’s Tiger Company

I had a second game, I played Chris Otton’s Desert Rats Cromwell Squadron, despite a good start I could not finish off a couple of units. The weight of fire told and I lost 2-7 again. The 88s knocked out half a troop (Cromwell and Firefly) at the very start of the game, but I lost a whole Panzer IV Tank Platoon trying to finish off the other two tanks. Incredibly I lost two Panzer IVs to frontal fire form Cromwell CS tanks (that’s anti-tank 8 folks!) A general failure of Firepower tests. I think the mission was Free-for-All.

The last game of day 1 was against Jason Scudder, one of the visiting Invercargill contingent. We played Contact. He had a Tiger Tank Company and I started the game with a general sense of foreboding. However, my cautious approach was to stay back and wait for my reserves to arrive. Once they had arrived I punched forward on the right flank with my HQ and two of my Panzer IV Tank Platoons. Buy keeping my Panzer IVs at close range I was able to peck away at the Tigers. If you can get three or four hits on each Tiger eventually the armour saves will produce a 1. In the centre I pushed my scouts up to threaten the Nebelwerfers and objective. I also committed my last Panzer IV Tank Platoon when it seemed the objective they were guarding wasn’t under threat. This gave me just enough firepower to finish off the Tigers, but it was a close run thing. The 88s’ impact on the game was so little I can’t actually remember what they did. 6-3.

Round 4: Alex’s StuG Company

Their true test came when they faced Fallschirmjäger StuGs from D-Day: German as the first game of Day 2. Despite out numbering them 13 to 10, the extra one point of Front armour on the StuGs made a profound difference between the vehicles. We played Free-for-All. My opponent, Mr Alex McEwen from the Wellington massive, was able to make more of his armour saves which eventually rendered my numerical advantage moot.

The last game was against Ben Fouche who was running a SS-Reconnaissance Company. We ended up playing Breakthrough with me attacking. I boldly made a bid for the closest objective which was being held by a Reconnaissance Platoon in a wood and an Sd Kfz 250 Scout Troop in another wood behind it. Ben had some StuGs in Ambush and Panzer Vs that were coming from reserve. I managed to assault the Reconnaissance Platoon in the wood, with three tanks (the fourth was not close enough), but one failed it cross so on two made contact. I previously destroyed two team with fire, leaving only three teams who were Pinned Down. I survived the defensive fire and kill one in the assault. The counterattack bailed out one tank and I failed my counterattack, then failed my cross, leaving the two tank in the platoon to break off. They then spent the rest of the game dealing with StuGs and Sd Kfz 250/7 (7.5cm). While the rest of the force had to contend with the SS Panzer IVs and Sd Kfz 251/9 (7.5cm) assault guns. Despite my 88s and Panzer IVs taking out Ben’s Panzer IVs my force eventually broke. 3-6.

Round 5: Ben’s SS Reconnaissance Company

I hoping that sometime in the future I can actually play in the tournament here in NZ at 100 points. While I enjoyed my games I felt an extra 20 points would not have unduly extended any of my games. In fact I think games going to time have a lot more to do with the players than to the size of the game. A couple of conversations during the tournament also got me thinking about terrain density and table sizes. At Flamescon we were using large fold up tables with 6’x 4’ terrain mats or cloths to mark the table size, but then could have easily been played as 7’ x 5’ or similar. Something to consider for something a bit different in the future.

 

As I mentioned before, all in good fun.

~Wayne

Road to Flamescon 2020: Wayne

 

With Flamescon only being 80 points Late-war I was pretty well set for it a few months ago, having completed my third Panzer IV Tank Platoon. With the Bagration: German release still a few months off, I’ve selected my force from D-Day: German. It’s a simple force based on a Panzer IV Tank Company. I’ve got 13 Panzer IV tanks split over an HQ and three units. They come to 71 points.

To add a bit more anti-tank I’ve selected an 8.8cm Heavy AA Platoon. Phil asked me why I went for these rather than the long 8.8cm Anti-tank Platoon. My straight-forward answer was because they are painted! Though the extra two points of Anti-tank might have been useful, it would have robbed me of the three points I used to get my Sd Kfz 250 Scout Troop. These guys will give me a Spearhead for those missions with a bit of extra space in which to use it.

Probably not the most balanced force, but my games should be fast and fun, and that’s all I’m looking for.

Wayne