It’s always great finishing a platoon, where you can see all your work come together across a small group of vehicles. It always motivates me to crack on with the next unit. These 75mm Shermans give me my formation HQ and 1st platoon. I really enjoyed working on them, especially the decals which give them the finishing touch.
M4 Sherman Company HQM4 Sherman (75mm) Platoon
Above – a close up of Victor’s Formation Command tank.
Left – Victor couldn’t resist the opportunity to add shoulder patches to his Formation Commander.
Everyone likes the classic Sherman tank in its olive drab glory. When I first started this journey, I was imagining hordes of plain green vehicles, and I would’ve been totally happy with that. But then I had to go and research didn’t I?…
While it’s not as prolific as what the Germans were doing, the Americans started to use camo on their vehicles during Operation Overlord. A quick Google search turned up some good examples, whilst in other photos it’s sometimes hard to tell if there is camo or not as in black in white the two paints have similar values. Here’s the best examples I could find.
While trying to find more detail, I found this piece of text from an AK Interactive book called “Colors Of WWII”, which I think tells a cool story of how it came about.
This also led me to the names of Field Manuals which I proceeded to hunt down scanned copies of (click on each of these images below for larger versions).
Inside these were brief instructions, guides and templates for crew to use to apply the camo; exactly the kind of info I was looking for!
There’s still much debate as to whether the practice of applying camo continued much beyond the breakout of Normandy, but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to assume some keen commanders kept it up as vehicles got replaced in their companies.
With all this in mind, and since I was pleased with how my test Sherman turned out, I’ve decided to commit to doing camo across the whole army. It should make my force look a little unique but there’s also historical justification for it which is important to me.
Soon I’ll have my first platoon of Sherman’s finished and then I’ll have a real sense of how the camo looks across a bunch of tanks.
Previously I mentioned how I like to do a test model before I begin a large army. In this case I’ve chosen to do Lafayette Pool’s M4A1 76mm Sherman “In The Mood”, for a few reasons:
If I end up learning from it and changing the painting plan for the rest of the force, it’ll be ok that my warrior looks slightly different.
I want to try black camo on at least one tank, and Pool’s tank certainly has some camo.
I was eager to paint the new plastic kit!
With a project as big as this I felt it was worth completing a full model to completion, but sometimes a spare hull top is enough to try out colours.
I started as I usually do with a black primer, and then airbrushed on Brown Violet. Next, I added some Buff (about 75/25 Brown Violet/Buff) and airbrushed most of the upper surfaces, and then added even more Buff (about 50/50 now) and did some rough panel fading.
Switching from airbrush to brush, I dry brushed on German Camo Beige. This picked out all the raised edges and toned down some of my rough airbrushing. I then applied a very thinned down black wash, followed by a second dry brush of German Camo Beige to tidy up the wash.
Next it was time to try out the camo. The obvious choices would be to either airbrush on black for a soft-edged pattern, or brush on black for hard-edged.
From looking at photos and artists renderings of pool’s tanks, it seemed to me brushed on would be the best approach, as even though the real camo would have likely been sprayed on, from a distance and at our scale the edges would appear hard anyway.
I wanted a way to try retain some of the shading I had done with the olive drab colour. This was my eureka moment… Black wash!
I painted on patches of Black Wash, loosely copying some photos. This way my airbrush shading and dry brush shows through, and the tank looks like it’s highlighted consistently across the base colour and camo colour. I also liked that it gives a sort of faded look, and not a solid deep black, which is the impression I get from photos. It needed two coats to give me the contrast I was happy with, but the second coat goes quickly as I’d already traced out the pattern.
With the base and camo complete, it was time for details. I didn’t do anything too adventurous here; Beige Brown for tool handles, Gunmetal for tools and machine-guns, German Grey for rubber, etc. These all got a black wash as well.
Lastly was decals, which I kept to a minimum this time as Pool’s tank seems to have been pretty bare. I had a go at writing “IN THE MOOD” on the sides of the tank, just as Pool would’ve done.
Oh, and you may have noticed the pink rectangle on the engine deck. More on that another time…
I’m really pleased with how this Sherman has turned out, and luckily, I don’t think I’ll need to change anything about the process going forward. It’s quick, easily repeatable, and I’m happy with the result, so it’s ticking all the boxes for me.
The only thing left to decide now is if I want to continue the black camo across the whole force. I certainly like the look, but I’d like to find out more about the application and how common it was.
Time to do some research…
* All colours referenced are Vallejo Model Colour.
My goal is to have many American unit options painted, but I want an initial 100 point list to work towards so I can start getting some games in.
I promptly grabbed the American Starter Force and I’ll use all of the models from it in my first list, except the Armoured Rifle Platoon (I’ll save them to do a full Armoured Rifle company eventually).
I also split a ‘Hit The Beach’ set with Wayne which gave me more Shermans and a Parachute Rifle Platoon to make use of later.
Between the starter force and ‘Hit The Beach‘ I’ve ended up with 13 Shermans, which gives me enough for a company with two platoons of five tanks, plus one spare to be a Sherman Observation Post for the Priests.
The last acquisition will be to steal a spare M5 Stuart sprue from Chris’s desk to take the starter force platoon from 3 to 4 tanks.
Since the American Starter force is designed for D-Day: American, I’ll be building the list from that book instead of Fortress Europe.
Veteran M4 Sherman Tank Company HQ: 2x M4 Sherman (75mm) Tanks – 9 points
The advantages of using D-Day: American over Fortress Europe are:
– 76mm Shermans
– Veteran option (4+ to hit instead of 3+)
– Command Cards
I’ve included Lafayette Poole as I often like to use Warriors, and he’ll be a good test model to figure out my painting scheme. If I end up learning from it and changing the painting plan for the rest of the force, it’ll be ok that my warrior looks slightly different.
I feel this is a balanced tank list that gives me a solid foundation to build upon, and is also an achievable amount of models to get painted quickly. I plan to tackle painting one platoon at a time, starting with the 75mm Shermans, and the aim is to have the list painted in time for the release of D-Day American (approximately one platoon per week!).
When we started work on V4 Late-War, I began thinking of all the new armies I could build. There’s so many exciting options but I wanted to find something new that I hadn’t painted before. It wasn’t until I was halfway through working on D-Day: American that I realised: I’ve never made an American army!
I’d always liked the idea of an American Sherman army, and the tank itself is really iconic. I guess I normally trend towards heavy tanks as it means less painting, so I came up with the “Big Four of Late War” journey as a way to push myself out of my usual habits. Then it was just a matter of finding three suckers to join me to make the name work…
Some people might find the idea of painting a horde of Olive Drab tanks a bit dull and… drab… but I see it as something I can turn into a positive! My goal for this journey we’re embarking on is to have an American force that is all cohesive in the way it looks, so that I’m able to swap in and out units to build any American list I want.
All of my previous Flames Of War armies over the past 10 years have been based around a very specific battle or division (Market Garden FJ, Welsh Guards Cromwells, Late T-34’s in Berlin, to name a few) which meant once the army was complete, it remained as is without any list building flexibility. They also often had advanced painting techniques used and specific camo schemes or markings that while they were fun and satisfying to do, were often hard to repeat on a new unit (especially months later if I hadn’t written my process down!).
With my new Late-War Americans I want to figure out painting steps that are easily repeatable, so I can add units to change up my lists and grow my collection as we progress through the war. I’m much more a painter than a gamer though, so it has to be something I’ll be happy with and proud of.
This lead me to think about camouflage options for American AFV. I had seen black camo patches over olive drab before, but hadn’t ever looked into how common it was. So I plan to do a bit of research on it to educate myself, and see if it’s viable for a full army.
In any case it’s something I want to try painting, at least on one tank.
As with most of my army projects, I do a test piece to try out colours and techniques before committing to the full army. Sometimes it’s a spare hull top from a previously completed kit, but this time I want to finish a full tank to work out the painting steps from start to finish. Then I can judge it and see if there’s anything I’d do differently for the full force.
Four Nations. Four People. Four Army Deals. Welcome to the Big Four Of Late War…
Victor “el Presidente” Pesch is the ring leader of Big Four, having come up with the entire concept of embarking on the Journey alongside our players. Known in the Studio for his painting prowess he spends his days wrangling Photoshop and InDesign working as a Graphic Designer, whilst his nights are spent working on whatever new project takes his fancy. He has his eyes set on an American force filled with Sherman tanks. For now…
Wayne “the Veteran” Turner is one of the longest serving employees in the company, having worked in almost every department of the company from Game Design to Production. These days he finds himself primarily working on Team Yankee, but a return to Late War has him excited to return to World War II and the chance to build his first Panzer IV based German army.
Casey “Comrade” Davies has built more Soviet models than anyone can count, with an astounding seven complete Strelkovy Companies to his name. After some debate he grabbed the new Soviet Army Deal whilst making noises about wanting to try his hand at building a new Hero Company. Like Victor he spends his days creating the books, cards and imagery that you see whenever you play a game of Flames Of War (or Team Yankee).
Chris “The Magpie” Townley is always looking forward to the next project, even before he has finished whatever is currently sitting on the painting table. He spends his time pouring over spreadsheets and planning documents, all the while looking over the writers shoulders trying to noodle his “next big project”. For Chris, the Late War Journey is a chance to finally build that British Sherman company that he has been planning for almost 10 years…
To follow their individual progress you can click on the handy icons over on the right hand menu, as well as checking out the groups Instagram feed to see plenty of behind-the-scenes activity. Over the next few years there will also be plenty of great content coming from the rest of the Battlefront family so don’t forget to keep an eye on the Flames Of War website for this, as well as all the latest news and information on what is happening.
On June 6, 1944, thousands of men were nervously waiting in landing craft, transport aircraft and bunkers as the fate of the world rested on their shoulders. The liberation of Europe was about to begin.
75 years later, across the world, thousands of gamers are preparing to embark on a journey of their own as Flames Of War returns to Late War. Starting with Fortress Europe and the D-Day series of books Battlefront will spend the next four years extensively covering the fighting in Europe through 1944 to 1945.
For gamers this is an amazing opportunity to grow a new army from nothing, starting by choosing a nation, a theme and then selecting the models that they want to use as the basis for their army. Then, over the next four years as each new theatre is explored, they will be able to add new units to their force, just like the real armies of World War II.
At the beginning of the journey, the humble Sherman will be fighting head to head versus the dreaded Tiger tank, whilst as the war progresses the King Tiger, Pershing and IS tanks will change the shape and nature of the battlefield. These changes will make the shared journey through Late War that much more interesting and dynamic as we, the commanders of the battlefield, pick the best forces available to us on the day, whilst looking forward to the next “wonder weapon” that will ensure that we will be victorious in tomorrows battles.
Collectively we (the “Big Four” – more on who we are later) have been playing Flames Of War for around 50 years and we think that the Late War Journey is the one of the most exciting things to happen to the game since its original release back in 2001. Now, with people all around the world taking their first look at Late War and building new armies, we wanted to come on the journey with you and take a fresh look at our favourite period of Flames Of War.
This will be like no “Tale of Four Gamers” series of articles that you might have seen in the past. Instead it will be an epic journey (one with Tanks instead of Ringwraiths) that will take part over four years…
Starting with the release of Fortress Europe we will be creating armies using our new Army Deals as the basis, building and painting from scratch, and then getting them on the tabletop to play some games.
During the course of the first year, we (just like you) will be able to access new units and Formations as the D-Day series of books is released. This will give us the chance to tweak our armies by selecting new organisations or building and painting new models. On the Big Four Of Late War website you will be able to see our finished efforts, as well finding out what we are planning on working on next.
If you want to keep up with what we are up to on a day-by-day basis you can also follow our Instagram feed where we will be showing off progress photos as we build and paint the models.
At the conclusion of the Journey we will have built entire new armies, filled with great new models, as well as having played a pile of games as we try to find out who is the biggest of the Big Four.
We look forward to you coming on the trip with us…
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