No Business Like Snow Business…

It’s been a bit quiet on the Flames Of War Soviet front over the past few months with other hobby projects taking priority. Those of you following the Fig Four Of Late-War Instagram account will have seen some of the photos of my expanding winter terrain table, and of course Victor, Wayne, and I took a detour late last year to paint up some WWIII Soviets.

I’ve got quite a few units on the for my Soviets at the moment (IS-2s, Rota Razvedki, Captured Panthers, SU-76’s, and ZS M15’s) so I thought I’d start clearing some of these off my table starting with my SMG company. This is a useful infantry company for any Soviet player to have as it’s an infantry unit inside most tank formations, so is good at giving you tanks some staying power, looking after an objective, or dealing with enemy infantry on an objective. They are even scarier if you have a spare point to give them the RPG-6 Anti-tank grenade command card.

For this company I’m using some old Soviet Scouts that I’ve had hiding in my hobby space for over 10 years. Originally, I had intended not to do any new infantry for my Big Four of Late War army, but when I found these I was hit by a wave of nostalgia, as these were the first Flames Of War miniatures I ever painted (I painted an entire infantry battalion in 6 weeks, so they were pretty bad), I decided to actually spend some time on them to do them justice.

The paint job on these is pretty simple. Since the rest of the army is in whitewash the obvious thing was to paint the overalls in white camo. This was achieved by base coating in Deck Tan followed by a white dry-brush and black and grey washes. The overalls were then tidied up by block-painting some white over the top. I used my basic flesh recipe on them, and their sidecaps are painted in a standard Khaki Grey, black wash, Khaki highlights scheme.
I spent a bit more time on the basing than usual. Since it’s a Hero unit I wanted to show that they’d taken casualties, so I’d only enough to do a mix of 3- and 4-man teams. I used Battlefronts Rural bases because I wanted the fence elements there to add some structure to the bases and to make it not look like I’d just been lazy. The bases were then flocked to match the terrain table that I’m making. I found some German casualties that I had already painted and left-over from my previous Soviet army and added those to the bases as well.

The last thing I did was fashion some dead branches from some twigs and autumnal Heki leaf foliage. They are probably a little orange for my liking, but I think they add a bit more interest to the bases and make them pop. I might make some more of these branches and add them to My IS-2s as camouflage later, but on those I might give them a light airbrush of a dark brown to tone them down a bit.

The next half-finished project I’m going to work on are my IS-2s. I have 13 of them ready for pin washing and want to make sure that I get them done in time for our next tournament.

~Casey

Casey’s Reflections and Intentions

What a year we’ve had!

Looking back I’m quite happy with what I’ve achieved given all the disruptions we’ve had. Like Chris I’ve achieved both more and less than I wanted with Covid, work, and other projects getting in the way.

I’m quite pleased that I managed to finish the core of my army, my 13 T-34s, as well as add some BA-64 and Katyusha support units. I also managed to paint a Captured Tiger, which was also my favorite model that I painted this year.

My plan for next year is simply more.  I started more projects this year than I actually finished. Sitting on my painting desk in various states are;
10x IS-2’s (half finished)
3x IS-85’s (half finished)
8x Captured Half-tracks (assembled and base-coated)
2x Captured Panthers (assembled and base-coated)
3x ZSU-M17 AA Half-tracks (assembled)
5x SU-76’s (assembled)
1x Hero SMG Company (half finished)

My priority is going to be the IS-2’s as Chris and I are planning on teaming up again for Panzerschreck (tournament) and I’m going to paint both halves of the army. This also means that I’ll need to paint up a couple of objectives as well.

One of the benefits of working in the Battlefront Studio is that I get to see books and lists as they are being developed, and there are some exciting things in the pipeline that may cause me to detour and paint a few thing for other nations…cough…King Tiger…cough

The other big news for 2020 was that the NZ office moved to a new, larger building that has a dedicated gaming area, so I’m looking forward to being able to play more games in the new year.

I hope you all stay safe and that Santa brings you plenty of Flames Of War (and WWIII: Team Yankee) joy this Christmas.

~Casey

Catching Up With Casey’s Backlog

You are probably sick of hearing about how much Covid has really made a mess of schedules this year but how about hearing it one more time…

Because of Covid lockdowns I havent been able to take photos of everything that I have finished over the past year, as our photo studio has been super busy playing catchup, so here are some photos of my recently finished Katyushas and, BA-64s and T-34s.

~Casey

 

Detour: Wayne vs Chris, a WWIII: Team Yankee Battle Report

For the launch of the WWIII: Soviet book, Wayne and Chris went head to head in a nail biting game. Wayne’s latest army (a Soviet T-80 based force) took on the Studio West German army.

The first half of the game was played and shot in advance, with the exciting conclusion live streamed over on the Battlefront Twitch channel. Check out the two halves below…

(sorry about the low audio levels in the first part…)

We’ve already started discussing how we can put a few more of our games up on Twitch in the future. Stay tuned…

~The Big Four Of Late War

Detour: Wayne’s WWIII: Soviet T-80 Battalion

With the new World War III: Soviet book out I have an opportunity to try a few things out with my Soviet forces. At the moment I have a bunch of T-72 tanks, a large BMP-2 Motor Rifle Company and a mix of supporting elements painted up. At 100 points I’ve been running my T-72s in to companies of 6 or 7 tanks with a BMP-2 Motor Rifle Company, a pair of SA-13 Gophers, two Shilkas, some more BMP-2 scouts and a battery of three 2S1 Carnations. I been playing with some sort of combination of these since Team Yankee first came out, so I thought it was time to change it up.

I plan to put together a force based around the new T-80s. These are better protected than the T-72s, more mobile with their Advanced Stabiliser, and can also fire the AT-11 Sniper gun launched anti-tank guided missile. The AT-11 is particularly impressive with a range out 120cm as well as being able to fire on the move, as long as to keep your tactical speed under 10”/25cm.

The other new things I’m tempted by are the new 2S6 Tunguska AA Tank, BM-27 Hurricane rocket launcher, and the BMP-3. With the BMP I just gabbed three to get me started, which I can either mount some of my already painted infantry in, or use them as a scout unit. As a scout unit they also make quite good tank destroyers with their AT-10 Stabber ATGMs.

This is my initial 100 point force.

The Big Four Of Late War have also been discussing playing some large point games, with the idea of focusing of the more expensive tanks and playing with a decent number of them. With this in mind I also made this 150 point force.

With the T-80s being quite meaty and expensive it won’t take me long to paint the 11 I need altogether. I’ve so far painted six and have another five sitting on my painting desk at home. I also already have my BMP-3s assembled. I just need to grab the BM-27 Hurricanes and the 2S6 Tunguskas.

I’ve done my T-80s in a camouflage scheme, which is probably post-cold war Russian rather than Soviet, but I wanted them to be completely different to my T-72s.

I’ll try and keep you up to date on my progress.

~Wayne

Detour: Victor’s WWIII: Soviet T-80 Battalion

With this force I toiled for a while about whether or not to do camouflage or plain green. There are some really cool camo schemes out there for Soviet tanks, and it was very tempting. However when my army lists started to contain more and more vehicles, I settled on plain green to ensure I’d get them all finished in the time frame. But what shade of green?

As you may know there no one green to rule them all. I’ve painted plenty of drab olive greens before, so I aimed for something more vibrant.

I started by airbrushing a dark green, and then panel fading with a pale green, intentionally going quite light. Next was a dry-brush and a wash to tone it all down, followed by a second dry-brush to bring back the edges. This is a really quick way to get a lot of tonal depth on your tanks quickly.

The result is quite an intense green, more towards blue than yellow. It won’t be for everyone tastes, but I’m quite happy with it and it pops on the table.

I chose to paint the rubber parts to add another colour to break up the green. In reality they would likely be painted the same time as the tank, but there are examples with bare rubber. Same goes for the wooden un-ditching logs, tools, and exhausts where paint might have come off and rusted over time.

Another additional colour I used was an olive drab, which I used for anything consumable (MG ammo tins, fuel drums, missile canisters, etc).

So even with a “green horde” I’ve managed to get some other colours in there which hopefully add some visual interest without looking too patch work.

That’s 34 vehicles completed in 18 evenings, the largest army I’ve ever painted, and the fastest. Time for a break before I work on the infantry to ride in the BMP-3’s. I’m looking forward to using these all in a game soon!

~Victor

Detour: Casey’s WWIII: Soviet T-80 Battalion

Like most of the Big Four Of Late War I was super-jazzed with the T-80 arriving in the WWIII: Soviet book, and decided to join in the fun and paint up a new army for the launch (evil glares at Chris for not participating).

Now I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to painting which means I’m normally a slow painter, so I thought I would just this as an opportunity to challenge myself to pump out an army quickly.

Rather than noodling an army list to build my army around I decided to just paint some of the new models that I thought looked cool, points and army composition didn’t really make me decide what to paint.

The core of my force are some T-80s. I figure 10 should be enough to cover me for most situations. Next up are some BMP-3 Scouts, again because they are new plastic and look super cool.

One of my favourite new units in the book is the TOS-1. I have been badgering Wayne, Phil, Chris, Evan, and Pete to make the TOS-1 since the start of our WWIII journey, so now that we have it I thought it would be rude not to paint some. As well as looking cool, game-wise I think it will be a good choice to have available to my Soviets since I tend to run tank heavy armies and struggle to deal with infantry. Their Brutal bombardment will certainly help with that.

Lastly, I’m painting a platoon of 2S6 Tunguska AA tanks, mainly due to rule of cool, I just think they look awesome.

Plugging this into Forces it comes out to an inconvenient 101 points, so I’d probably have to drop a BMP-3 if I were to take it to a tournament.

Amongst the Big Four Of Late War we have been discussing playing big boy games of 150 points using the more modern equipment that has started appearing (T-80s, M1A1 Abrams, Challenger I’s, Leopard 2’s etc). Luckily I can make this a 150 point list just by making them Heroes and adding the Mi-24 Hinds that I have already painted, a few infantry stands, and a pair of Gophers for a bit more AA. The TOS-1s are probably a suboptimal option given that none of the guys are going to go particularly infantry heavy for these games, but sometimes you don’t always get given the tools that you need to do a job and just have to make do with what you have available.

As far as the fast paint challenge has gone, I’m about 3 weeks in and I’ve managed to finish the T-80s apart from the tracks and the rest of the army is not far behind. With another week I think I’ll have the army completely finished. The army is definitely not painted as well as I would usually paint, but I’m pretty happy with it, and I think looking at effort vs reward it’s pretty good. I’m just looking forward to putting it on the table for a few games.

~Casey

Casey’s Tank Killers

I’ve had my SU-85’s almost finished for a few weeks now, and managed to spend some time last week doing the finishing touches like the saws and exhausts.

I’m very happy with these have come out. When I was painting them I though I had gone a little bit heavy with the final white oil paint step and thought that I had lost a lot of the colour depth that the earlier stages added, but the matt varnish brought it all together and darkened out greener areas and added some of the contrast back in.

For those of you with eyes for details, you’ll notice that there is a mix of SU-85s and SU-85M tank killers here. I deliberately painted a mix of models for 2 reasons.

1. I thought it would be more interesting to paint slightly different models.

2. It fit my overall theme of a cobbled together regiment of whatever was found at the depot.

Besides, they look so similar that I feel comfortable fielding them as either/or and will just tell my opponent what they are on the day. With these completed I’ve now started working on the core of my force, my T-34s, and should have the first platoon finished in a couple of weeks.

~ Casey

Stalin’s Little Tank – T-70 Showcase

Since I finished my first platoon and finalised my painting process, my painting has become a bit quicker.

I really enjoyed painting these T-70s, they are a beautiful kit to but together and have lots of detail, with some nice large areas for streaking and weather effects for such a small tank.

Game-wise the T-70s fill the same role in the Soviet army as Stuarts do in American Armies, they are there to harass light armour and infantry. With Front Armour 4 the enemy has to dedicate some decent anti-tank to take them out, which means that they aren’t shooting my T-34s. With Side Armour 2 they will also be okay in assaults as well as long as I’m careful.

At only one point each its quite easy to fit a small platoon into an army.

In my list I’m going to take a Hero T-70 Platoon of three as support. I would take them in my formation except that I am going to fill out all of my tank options in my formation with Hero T-34 Tank Platoons.

Hero T-70 platoons only have the option for three tanks, but I ended up painting four as that’s what came in the Soviet Starter Set. I’ll probably make the fourth tank into an objective at some point.

Next up on the painting block are some SU-85s

~ Casey

Painting Winter Whitewash.

I’ll start out by saying that this is not the fastest method to paint Whitewash, but to me the outcome is worth the time and effort.

At the start of this project I thought it would be a good chance to challenge everything I’ve ever assumed about painting Soviets, starting with the base colour.

As an experiment took some spare IS-2 hull tops and painted them in some different Tamiya greens to give me a set of colour swatches:
1. XF13 JA Green
2. XF67 NATO Green
3. XF58 Olive Green
4. 50% XF13 JA Green, 50% XF88 Dark Yellow.

Click on the image to the right for a bigger version…

I then gave these a wash of GW Athonian Camoshade, which is basically a dark green wash. The main reason for using this rather than a black wash is that a black wash desaturated the colour a bit to much.

My favorite colour here was number 4, the 50% XF13 JA Green, 50% XF88 Dark Yellow. If I was going to be painting my tanks Green I’d use this colour, but since the tanks are going to be whitewashed the NATO Green is close enough and it means I didn’t have to add in an extra step to mix up a batch of base paint.

With the base green chosen its time to move onto the whitewash. I’ve had limited success with painting whitewash in the past, so these early steps are simple building on that experience. There are a lot of steps here, and while some of them could probably be left out, I feel that since the paints are semi-opaque it all adds to the overall effect and helps achieve a good depth of colour.

Step 1. Basecoat with Tamiya NATO Green, then, using an airbrush, panel fade with Deck Tan. This is basically dirty off-white that makes a good undercoat for white.

Step 2. Wash with Athonian Camoshade. This adds some of the rich green back onto the tank and adds contrast into the panel lines.

Step 3. Panel fade again with Deck Tan, but not quite as much as the first layer.

Step 4. Panel fade with White. I made this layer of paint quite patchy to let the previous layers of paint show through.

Step 5. I give the tank a coat of X35 Tamiya Semi-gloss clear to prep the tank for pin washing. A lot of people use a gloss varnish instead, but I like the Tamiya Semi-gloss clear as its basically a clear paint that gives the pinwash and streaking effects something to key into, while still protecting the paint beneath.

I then panel faded and did some streaking with a dark green oil wash.

Step 6. I do a bit of sponge chipping with Vallejo Camo Olive Green.

Step 7a. The next thing to work on is some streaking. The first layer of streaking is to represent general dirt. I start by applying single dots of Dark Streaking Grime.

Step 7b. I let the Streaking Grime dry for a few minutes then work it with a brush and white spirits to feather it a bit.

Step 8a & 8b. I repeat step 7a and 7b with a rusty colour. This step is to simulate a brighter rust streak effect. With all of the streaking effects don’t be afraid to add it to some of the flat surfaces where water would pool and corrode the metal.

Step 9a. This is where the real magic happens. Using some white oil paint I dabbed spots all over the tank, concentrating on the flat surfaces and upper parts of the vertical surfaces.

Step 9b. After letting the paint dry for a few minutes I start working the oil paint into the top surfaces and streaking it down the vertical surfaces with a brush dampened with white spirits.

Below is a bit of a time lapse montage to give you an idea of how this works.

Overall, I know that this is a long convoluted process, but I’m all about quality over quantity at the moment (the complete opposite to Soviets), and I’m actually quite enjoying the process, despite getting hassled by the rest of the Big Four about my painting speed.

~Casey