I’ve finally painted those ten assembled Comets that had been sitting around in a box since Nachtjager came out in 2015. Now I wished I’d assembled a few more, another four would have been good.
I am generally happy with how they came out. I stuck to a pretty simple scheme. In hindsight a bit more weathering and some stowage would have been great.
However, I had set myself a strict timeline to get the force done by the end of my Christmas/New Years break and that I did. In the end I finished well before everybody else, so I could have spent a bit more time on them.
At some point I’ll grab another box of Comets and some more plastic British riflemen and pad the force out a bit.
This really was an army expansion of 2 halves. At the beginning of the project I confidently said to myself “Hey, what’s another 20 odd models, on top of the 160 I have already done. I can do that in my sleep!” The reality ended up being somewhat different as the end of the year started looming up on me and I couldn’t come up with a plan that I really liked.
Luckily for me fate (and friends) stepped in. Casey designed some bespoke decals for me, and had some cunning ideas on how to make it simpler for me to physically put some of the smaller decals on (by combining them on the sheet), whilst Adam Brooker pointed me in the direction of a decal printer here in the South Pacific.
With the decals in hand earlier this year the army finally started to come together. Looking back I rushed some aspects of the army so it isn’t as polished as I would like, but it is really to hit the tabletop and that’s the important thing right now!
Late last year we came up with a simple plan – I quick Detour where the four of us would paint British forces as part of the Bulge: British release. These armies were meant to be quick and simple.
The often said phrase of “no plan survives contact with the enemy” has passed the test of time because it right. In this case our (seemingly) simple plan ended up with a myriad of hurdles that we never expected. None of them were hard to overcome, but as a team it meant that some of us took a lot longer than we expected…
The good thing about painting an army though is that even if it does take a bit longer than you expect, when it is finished and ready to hit the table you often forget the journey and look forward to the games you are going to play with it!
~Casey, Chris, Wayne and Victor
My original plan for this army was to just paint a fast, wargaming standard, force.
If I’d stuck to that plan I would have been home by Christmas, but no plan survives contact with the enemy.
Foolishly I thought I’d try doing some dust effects on one of the tanks in the spare platoon I was painting up, just to see what it looked like.
Even more foolishly, I showed Victor who started egging me on to do that to the whole army.
So an extra two months later and the army was finished. Looking back, I’m really happy that I spent the extra time on the army, as I’m more likely to play some games with it now than if I’d not put the extra effort in.
It has been a long but rewarding Late War Journey for me, but I feel like it is complete*. Over the past 3 and a bit years I have painted 6 different Formations and a good percentage of the Support options that a British player can field. Looking at the array of models I have averaged around one tank, gun team or infantry base per week throughout the entire journey. Now that might not seem like much on the surface, but during that same time I have also painted a massive pile of other models including my WWIII: Team Yankee Czechoslovakians, finished off my North African Americans* and painted a pile of other bits and pieces.
*Is an army ever really finished? In both of these cases not really but I am looking forward to not having to paint to a deadline and instead just painting as I please.
So what did I get for the past 40+ months of effort? Check it out… (click on the images for bigger pictures)
First up – a Sherman Company that works for both D-Day: British and Bulge: British, and a Cromwell Company that can be fielded in both books. In fact, if I am prepared to turn a blind eye to some of my unit markings, I can field a Hussar Cromwell Armoured Squadron (with Challenger tanks) and a Cromwell Armoured Squadron (with Firefly tanks) at the same time. Turns out I have painted a LOT of Cromwell tanks!
In addition I have my M10’s, Archers and Chaffees for support and recon work.
In the second pile I have my Comet Squadron (note, more Cromwell tanks – CS this time), a Churchill Squadron, and my all time favourite – a Recce Squadron of Daimlers and Dingos.
In addition we have a pile of Support options there – carriers, infantry and guns for the Recce Squadron, 3 batteries of artillery, Bofors and Crusader AA and objectives. The only thing missing is my flight of Typhoons that appear to have gone off on a temporary sortie….?
The total force comes in around 640 points – I have a couple of units that I cannot use yet as I have a little more painting to do (see, no army is ever really finished!).
So, what next? I have a few things that I would like to do just to really finish the army. Extra options just to round things out a bit…
More Infantry – I’d like a second Motor Platoon and eventually upgrade both to being Rifle Platoons. I’d also like to paint some M5 Halftracks to carry them.
More Bofors – I took a short cut and made my guns swap-able. I’d like to paint 3 more guns and permanently glue them to the ground mounts.
More Carriers – mainly Wasps and an MMG Carrier Platoon.
More Artillery and AOPs – for completion sake I would like a Platoon of Priests and a Sherman AOP, Carrier AOP, and Auster AOP.
All in all, it is probably around 30 extra models – by my standards that is quite a bit of effort, but in comparison to the 160+ I have already painted it doesn’t seem like much.
I do feel that there is something I have forgotten to put on my wish list but I am sure the rest of the Big Four team will remind me…
Three and a half years ago when this project started I never would have expected that it would have gone as far as it has, and for that I am truly grateful.
Looking back at my first couple of posts talking about building a Sherman Company it is awesome to look at how the force has developed with the release of Bulge: British and whilst some things have stayed the same, some have changed!
The biggest change is also the most obvious – two Firefly tanks per platoon really enhances the killing power of each unit and really makes each platoon more of a threat. The downside is that by adding the extra Firefly tanks (and going to AT 15) I have had to remove one of my go-to units, the M10s. But I feel like I am not going to miss them as much (time will tell).
But my (almost) complete Formation does look pretty awesome if I do say so myself…
Looking at it arrayed like this gives me a few ideas for lists that I want to run and I am very excited to get the Shermans on the table again. The only downside is that they are competing with all the other shiny new models I have recently painted!
First up is my “Shermans All Day” list where I focus on a single Formation with as many in-Formation units as possible. This should make it durable on the tabletop whilst still having all the tools to do what is needed (Spearhead, AA, high AT etc).
Having Platoons of four tanks are just that much more resilient than units of three and my previous experiences with this force really rammed that home as enemies only had to knock out two tanks to really remove the unit as a threat – either the Firefly was gone, or it was all by itself, and either way it was testing to stay on the table. Four tanks gives a little more redundancy inside each unit.
The second list I am keen to try is an evolution of my recon support force (how I love Daimlers and Dingos!) and removes a platoon of tanks (including 2 Firefly tanks) but adds an entire Recon Formation with a nice mix of models – infantry, mortars, and a lot of “fast-shooty-stuff” that should enhance the army when playing against more balanced enemy forces.
I genuinely love the idea of playing with both forces and the choice of which one to use would probably come down to which one of my regular opponents I am playing and how many tanks I think they are turning up with…
Back in 2009 we released the book “Hells Highway” which focused on the mechanised forces involved in Operation Market Garden and the road march to link up with the British Paras in Arnhem. As a Studio we really went to town with the Market Garden releases; two books, our second Firestorm Campaign, and a whole lot of internal playtesting and games. It was a great time and many of us started building new armies, inspired by the books and the narrative we were trying to tell.
In my case I started building a Sherman Company, a Cromwell Company and a Household Cavalry force. Starting with a hiss and a roar the project ended up unfinished and relegated to the garage as I got distracted by “the next shiny project”.
Fast forwarding 13 or so years I am now a much leaner, meaner and more focused painting machine when it comes to Late War British…
So where are we now? Two and a half years ago I started work on my Cromwell Formation and I would be lying if I said I didn’t dig out some of our old V3 books and look ahead in time to see where we might be heading. Part of my reasoning for picking the 15th/19th King’s Royal Hussars was the future inclusion of the Challenger.
Now I have a full Cromwell Formation from D-Day: British with enough models that I can also field the force as Hussars Armoured Squadron or (if we ignore the decals) a Cromwell Armoured Squadron, both from Bulge: British.
Looking forward I have a couple of lists I am keen to try out against the team. The first list puts a lot of points into two full strength units of Challengers to maximise my tank killing potential at the loss of HE rounds to dig out enemy infantry. I’ve added in the Land Mattress Battery in as a counter to dug in infantry or guns, but the force is really tuned towards trying to kill the enemies tanks as fast as possible.
The second list trades out the second Challenger Platoon for another platoon of Cromwells, swapping the Land Mattress for some Cromwell CS tanks (which are in Formation) and the Belgian Resistance Command Card that allows me to remove a Minefield (great if I am trying to rush an enemy force that is keen on defence) or shift a Ranged-In Marker after deployment (to get the most out of my CS tanks).
I am really excited to try out both of these Formations and (hopefully) surprise some folks with what a high speed tank killing force can look like!
The return of the Comet to Late War is really going to change things up for British players as it gives us something that hits as hard as a Panther and is as fast, or faster, than almost anything else on the battlefield. If you are looking for a tank that can rapidly move around and strike then this might be the tank you have been waiting for – just make sure you kill whatever you are shooting at as a Front Armour of 7 isn’t putting up much of a fight…
Long time followers of the Big Four Journey will not be surprised that I jumped on the Comet bandwagon faster than… well faster than a Comet! I’ve had a stash of largely built models hiding in my pile of shame, tucked out in the garage for a long time now, but thanks the last few years of painting British tanks I saw a “small” Formation of 10 models as being something like a holiday compared with the masses of Shermans and Cromwells I’ve painted in the past!
Thinking about the list I quickly came to the conclusion that I didn’t really care about the list. I know that sounds weird but with Comets being a fairly expensive tank and 10 of them taking up 70 points I basically decided that I have a pile of support options already painted and a few more planned, so why sweat about how I was going to use them.
As I write this though I thought I should have some sort of a plan… so here goes.
A Bob Each Way… This a very New Zealand (or Australian) saying and basically means you are hedging your bets. In this case it means I am thinking about a fairly well rounded force with a little bit of everything.
The force is based around the 10 Comets (of course) and includes a pair of CS tanks for some artillery and smoke support, whilst the Crusader AA are in there as my favourite 3 point Formation morale boosting unit. Rounding out the Formation are a unit of 3 Dingos. For 1 point they bring Spearhead and another unit to keep me on the table.
The list gets a little strange with the inclusion of the Bofors. These are really there as I was running out of good ideas, but some light guns struck me as a useful option to keep an objective safe from some roving recon or aggressive infantry.
Speaking of aggressive infantry, I have a Rifle Platoon to round out the force as these are good on attack or defence. I also picked them because if I am forced to keep a portion of my army off the table, then the Rifle Platoon, Crusader AA and a platoon of Comets come to 40 points. This makes a heck of a flanking force!
In Your Face! The second list that I am keen to try is much simpler and way less cunning. It retains the 10 Comets, 3 Crusader AA and the Rifle Platoon, but trades everything else out to add in Chaffees and two units of Daimler Armoured Car Troops.
This gives me 3 units with Spearhead, a whole lot of fast and hard hitting tanks, a reasonably robust Formation and some infantry to go an assault an objective.
Sounds like a plan?
With the Comets now ready for some battlefield action I just need to organise a game with one of the boys..
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.
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…
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