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

Big Four: Big Cats: Big Complete!

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.

~Casey

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!

~Chris

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.

~Wayne

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…

~Victor

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wayne’s French Connection

After much work I’ve completed my planned French force for 1944-45. It has actually turned out to be quite large with the recent additions of a third Rifle Platoon, a 105mm Artillery Battery, and a M4 Sherman Tank Platoon of 5x M4 Sherman tanks.

The Formation has ten Units, and I have another four Units in Support for 116 points total. However, I’ll most likely run it at 100 points most of the time, dropping 16 points off the force. This could be one of the armoured units, or a combination of smaller units. There is also plenty of room for points fine tuning within the rifle platoons, or I could even drop the 9e Division d’Infanterie Coloniale Colonial command card and run them as straight Battle Weary ratings.

The Miniatures
For the French Rifle Platoons I used some French Tirailleurs from the old Tirailleurs Platoon (Italy) (FR812) I had got back in 3rd Ed FOW for the Italy Campaign. These miniatures are French Evan made for the release of Road to Rome from the Winter Americans. The main difference is a few unique figures with Adrian Helmets and an Officer in a Kepi. These can be happily mixed with the winter Americans. For all the weapons and support units I mostly used the winter American packs with a few other French from the above pack and the old Mediterranean early-war range for the occasional Officer, NCO, and crewmen. I also did some head swaps to put French heads on miniatures such as on the Jeep crew.

The M4 Sherman Tank Platoon are actually Sherman V models from the British range. The official American designation of this tank is M4A4. Though, the Americans did not use the M4A4 Sherman themselves, they did supply them for the Lend-lease program not only to Britain, but to France as well where they made up about half of the French Shermans. The French also got large numbers of M4A2 diesel Sherman as well as small numbers of M4A1 & M4A3 76mm and M4A3 Jumbos. There may be a French Sherman Tank Company in my future. Check out these websites for more details:
French Shermans during WW2…

Chars-Francais.net

~Wayne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panzerschreck 2021: There And Back Again…

The ability (and freedom) to travel to a tournament, hang out with friends and play some games has been something that most gamers have been able to take for granted. After a year (or more) of lockdowns, cancelled events, and the need to maintain some sort of social distance here in New Zealand, things are returning to normal and events are happening with a little more regularity. One of our favourite events of the year is always Panzerschreck – the oldest Flames Of War tournament in the world. There is no one reason as to why it is great, it really is the combination; the road trip down with friends, the short stops to shop, climbing over tanks at the National Army Museum, hanging out with resident sculptor Evan, catching up with friends, too much eating, winning (or losing) some games, and then finishing it with a post-tournament “what went wrong, what are we doing next year” cathartic road trip back home!

Road Trips, Shopping, Eating and Tanks!
This year the four of us crammed in to a rental Jeep Cherokee, which should have been big enough but thanks to a small pile of orders we were taking down for customers we ended up filling every available space with gear, miniatures, or clothes. I think next year we are going to need a bigger boat… I mean car! The road trip really is all about hanging out, talking about work, gaming, life and everything else going on. There is also time for a fair amount of pre-tournament smack talk! Our trips each year take a similar course (unless snow gets in the way) with a stop in Hamilton (about 90 minutes in to our journey) to swing by one of our favourite gaming shops (Games Centre) for a chat and to pick up any “essentials”. Short on space this year some of those essentials kept falling from their precarious perch in the back of the car on to Victors head… Hamilton is also a good spot for a coffee and sausage roll (an NZ delicacy!).

Back on the road we then have a quick 2 hour sprint down to Taupo in the middle of the North Island. Marking the halfway point it is a great chance to have lunch (yes we do always stop at the same Turkish restaurant each year!) and swing by our next hobby shop; Taupo Hobbies. We didn’t end up adding to the load this time (which was a surprise) but it didn’t stop us having a really good look and contemplating the idea of building some rather larger World War II naval models!

Next stop is Waiouru and the home of the New Zealand Army Museum. We normally arrive too late to hit the gift/book shop but we are always prepared to brave the cold to check out some of New Zealand’s tank history parked out the front. There is nothing like climbing up on a Centurion (or even the Scorpion) to give the models that we play with a real sense of scale. With this taken care of it is the final push to Palmerston North and Evan’s house… A total trip of around 512km (318 miles) in a very leisurely 11 hours!

Stalin Approved – Casey and Chris’ Experience


The weekend turned in to a glorious mess of dice, explosions (some on the table and some in our heads), great opponents and fun games so I can’t give a breakdown of the individual games… and based on our performance I am not sure anyone wants my tactical advice. So what went right or wrong? Casey’s army was fantastic to play with, not only was it really well painted but it was a great combination of models. In hindsight though we really could have dropped one of our infantry units and replaced it with a template delivery device. Any sort would have done; Katyushas or SU-76 assault guns being my preference, but anything would have been useful. The IS-2s were great at knocking out dug-in troops IF they hit. I spent most of the weekend looking for 5’s and often 6’s to hit. In one game I literally got 2 hits in 6 turns, with 10 tanks. The IS-2’s did excel in surviving however with their armour allowing them to stand up to any opposition and hang around, and what they hit generally stayed hit!

Casey’s T-34/85 company found itself doing a lot of the heavy lifting over the weekend, rushing flanks, having gun-fights, being assaulted (and counter-attacking) and generally being in the mix. Of course this meant that they didn’t tend to survive! Casey may have wished once or twice over the weekend that they still had the front armour 7 of the “good old days!”

Favourite Game: Too hard to pick… our loss to Tom and Alex with their Elefants was a hard fought game of manoeuvre and thrust that could have gone either way, whilst our narrow victory vs Bob and Steve could have just as easily been

a loss if not for the resilience of the IS-2 and their ability to go head-to-head with Tigers.

~Chris

Hungarian Hooves and Howitzers a.k.a. Triple H – Victor and Wayne’s Weekend


Wayne has always been a fan of Hungarians in Flames Of War, and I’ve caught the bug too, especially with the Zrínyi. The release of Bagration: Axis-Allies was going to fall shortly before Panzerschreck, so it made sense to take my new Zrínyi force, and Wayne being my usual team mate, I knew he would have plenty of Hungarian units to build a force to go with mine. Then Wayne said “But I want to paint something new for the tournament”, and I said something silly like “You should paint a full Huszar Squadron!” Thus our team was formed. We knew it wasn’t going to dominate the tabletop, but we were hoping for some funny moments and glorious cavalry charges.

Unfortunately when it came to the games, we found ourselves defending against heavy tanks, or attacking elite MG infantry. This isn’t to say the games weren’t fun, just that there weren’t as many chances for a good cavalry charge as we would’ve liked. It’s lucky Wayne painted the dismounted versions of his platoons too, as they were great in defence. The Zrínyi’s on the other hand did great work, and their bombardments were quite effective. The Panthers kept our opponent’s tanks cautious, which kept our Zrínyi’s alive in most of our games.

Overall the tournament was a lot of fun, and was great seeing familiar faces that we missed out on last year.

~Victor

The Long Road Home
With the weekend’s gaming over and done with (and after a good nights rest) we headed home on the Monday morning, stopping for a coffee and a tank of gas. Based on the comments from the back seat the coffee may have been made by Baldrick during World War I so next year we might find somewhere better than going with “hey Google, where can we get a coffee?”

Casey’s Best Painted Medal

The drive north is a lot like the drive south, just with different stops (the Army Museum book shop which is now open, Subway, since everything else was busy in Taupo, and Gaming DNA in Hamilton) and conversation that revolves around what went right, what went wrong, and what we are taking next year (140 points, Mid War, doubles! Oh yeah!). Stay tuned for some initial thoughts over the coming months on what we might like to build.

As always Panzerschreck is a blast and this year was no different. Roll on 2022!

~The Big Four Of Late War

Huszár Progress Report

Things are going well with the painting of my Hungarian Huszár Squadron. I have now finished all the cavalry teams. I’ve added the extra two platoons to the one I already had, you can spot the older one easily by the fact it is made from converted Romanian and Cossack cavalry miniatures, which was done before we even had Huszár miniatures.

I had a bit of time up my sleeve, so I converted my Formation Commander by adding fur collar and cuff trim, as well as lace loops to his tunic. I also added a sword hand from a Cossack and a scabbard attached to his saddle. I just used some GF9 grey epoxy putty for this detail work.

I already have the 7/31M Machine-gun Platoon, 81mm Mortar Platoon, 40mm Anti-tank Platoon, 75mm Huszár Battery, and Toldi OP painted, so I just have the 7.5cm Heavy Anti-tank Platoon to complete for the tournament. Then I can finish the Turán tanks at my leisure.

See you soon,

~Wayne

Huszár!

I’ve been collecting and painting Hungarian forces since the we first published out first Flames Of War Hungarian intelligence briefing back under the 2nd Edition of the Flames Of War Rules. With both the Bagration: Axis Allies for Late-war, and Hungarian Steel for Mid-war coming out I thought I’d revisit my Hungarian forces and see what more I can add. The new plastic Zrínyi is very tempting, and I’m sure I will paint a few of them, but I have one glaring hole in my collection, some cavalry. The Hungarians are famous for their horsemanship as well as being the inspiration for the introduction of a type of light cavalry to armies across Europe, the Hussar, or Huszár in Hungarian.

Back when we added the first cavalry units as options for the Hungarians I converted and painted an entire troop (Unit) using a mix of Soviet Cossack and Romanian cavalry by doing a few head swaps. However, now I don’t have to go to all that trouble as Evan has sculpted some nice Hungarian Huszárs to go along with the horses that James originally sculpted for our 1939 Polish cavalry range.

To make my force I will be using two command cards. The first is the 1st Cavalry Division Huszár Squadron which lets you build a formation of Huszárs. This lets you take 2-3 Huszár Troops from page 69 of Bagration: Axis Allies.

The other card is the 75mm Huszár Battery. This lets you field horse artillery battery armed with little 75mm Skoda M1915 mountain guns. It is worth noting you can field this battery as a mountain battery as well, and also as a horse artillery battery in Mid-war from Hungarian Steel. In fact you can field the whole Huszár Squadron in there too.

So my list will consist of the following:

Huszár Squadron HQ
2x 31M MG & 95M rifle teams 2 points

Huszár Troop (LH127)
7x 31M MG & 95M rifle team with Panzerfaust 11 points

Huszár Troop (LH127)
7x 31M MG & 95M rifle team with Panzerfaust 11 points

Huszár Troop (LH127)
7x 31M MG & 95M rifle team with Panzerfaust 11 points

7/31M Machine-gun Platoon (LH121)
3x 7/31M HMG 3 points

81mm Mortar Platoon (LH122)
4x 81mm mortar 6 points

40mm Anti-tank Platoon (LH125)
4x 40mm gun 7 points

75mm Huszár Battery (Command Card)
4x 75mm mountain gun 13 points

Support Units

7.5cm Heavy Anti-tank Platoon (LH126)
3x 7.5cm gun 11 points

Toldi OP Observation Post
1x Toldi OP (MG) 1 point

The 1st Cavalry Division had their own tanks. These were the Hungarian Turáns.

Turán Tank Company HQ
2x Turán I (40mm) 5 points

Tank Platoon
3x Turán II (75mm) 11 points

Tank Platoon
4x Turán I (40mm) 9 points

Total 100 points

To find out more about the 1st Cavalry Division check out the article on the Flames Of War website here…

~Wayne

Big Four Bagration: Axis Allies Detour…

The Big Four of Late-War are getting excited about Bagration: Axis-Allies. We’re preparing new armies, add-ons to old forces, and even some terrain. Join us over the next few weeks to see our progress on Instagram, and stay tuned for some live content on Twitch.

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