Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of miniatures wargaming with an emphasis on 15mm World War II and Flames of War.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

39(H) OP Ready to Go!

Finally got my commission 39(H) OP cast up and ready to go... to "some guy" down in New Zealand.  Pretty happy with how it came out.  May need some final clean up before painting, but overall I'm pleased with the result. 

Here's a couple of photos:


Amazing what a good camera sees that your eye doesn't.  I've since cleaned up the shovel some.


I went ahead and added the jack in styrene.  Now it just needs the machine gun and commander and it will be ready to go. 

I wasn't able to vacuum cast these for some reason.  I think the resin was getting a little old and was outgassing a lot more than normal.  Mold could still have been outgassing some as well.  I'm going to try and make up one more for personal use so I don't have to burn the master.

Lots of "stuff" going on this week so I'll hopefully have more to post later on!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

502 Schwere Panzerabteilung - Early Tiger I Progress

In addition to the initial production Tiger I tanks fielded by 502. Schwere Panzerabteilung, there were also a few of the more standard early production vehicles.  The Battlefront miniature represents this type well, and fixing them for the specific vehicles of this unit is generally easier.  Well, sort of.

The first change was the removal of the shovel from the front top hull.  The other change is the unit's tanks lacked the characteristic side-skirts seen with the Tiger I.  The challenge for me was to find an easy way to replicate the hanging studs for the side-skirts (which were present - unlike on the initial Tiger I).

Ultimately I found a source that worked flawlessly.  Archer Fine Transfers has a line of surface details.  These surface details are resin on very thin, high-quality decal film.  Their catalog can be downloaded and has true size scans of the various details.  I found a set of rivets that looked to have the right spacing for the studs - granted they're round, not square, but at this scale it is going to be hard to tell the difference. 

I drew lines with a straightedge to guide placement of the decal rivets.  I ended up using set AR88083 which seemed to have the right spacing for the side skirts. 




 
I cut out the rivets in groups of four cutting the decal with a very sharp hobby knife near the top and bottom of the rivets.  I also didn't leave much space at the ends.

 
Placing the individual rivet decals was a bit challenging, but it went fairly quickly using the normal techniques you'd use for high-quality decals.  I did use a little diluted Solvaset to make the film snug down properly.

 

Before priming the studs looked a bit large, but after a prime coat they look pretty good.  The beauty of the Archer system is it is literally designed to be primed and painted over. 

 

I'm sure they scale out a bit large, but even up close they have the distinctive 4 sets of 4 studs look of the actual Tiger I.  They should paint up and weather nicely.  I'm still hoping to field this army in late October, and have a LOT of work yet to do... as always!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Tournament Organizer

One of the biggest challenges at any gaming tournament is quickly and easily moving your army from game to game.  If you pack everything back into the carrying case, you frequently lose precious gaming time because you have to get it back out again, for me frequently in multiple levels of a battle foam box.

Chris Fretts came up with a really nice tournament box option for flames of war.  The top of the box has ample room for your army and even some ground work to show off your nicely painted army when the painting judges come by.  The box includes a drawer and a couple of slots that can hold you small rulebook, army lists, PDF's, dice, templates, and markers.

I decided to do mine in a generic U.S. Army paint scheme of Olive Drab with a few stencils.  I've been experimenting with various sprays and stencils and this gave me another chance to try out a few techniques (pictures below).  I'll likely end up hitting it with a final protective coat as well.





Had to add the gag about "allow for expansion" because who really has enough FoW miniatures?  Really? 

So far I think he's only done one batch of these, but if he ever does another batch I strongly recommend any tourney player think about picking one up - or building something similar themselves. 
 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mystery Project Update!

So here's some more photos of the first of the two mystery projects...  At this point people should be pretty close to getting it.

 

 

The basic hull is together, but I still need to do some clean up - I'll get it posted later this week... :D

Building the 39(H) OP

A while back I built a 39(H) OP vehicle for the 21. Panzer Division Beutestug list for a friend.  I was building one for myself at the same time, but other projects ended up taking priority and I never ended up finishing it.  I received several requests for additional ones, but didn't have the time to hand build each one, but I may have found a way to make it work.

Here's the original I built a while back:



 
 
I'll be posting some pictures of the "new and improved version" - along with hopefully a cast - later this week. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

502 Schwere Panzer Abteilung Update

I'm finally making progress on my 502. Schwere Panzerabteilung army... since I have a MW tournament coming up in October.  The point value is a bit different than I've run in the past at 1675, but I'm going to go with it.  I'm modeling the unit in early 1943 before the organizational changes characteristic of that year take effect.  As such I'm going with a purely winter themed army. 

The list I'm going with is here:

HQ: Command Tiger I E + Sd Kfz 9 (400 points)
Combat 1: Tiger I E, Panzer III N (495 points)
Combat 2: Tiger I E (385 points)

Support:

Grenadier Platoon = Command Panzerknacker SMG team, 8X Rifle/MG Teams (205 points)
Rocket Launcher Battery = Command SMG Team with field car; AT section with 3.7cm PaK36 with Stielgranate, 4X 15cm NW41 launchers with 4X Sd Kfz 11 half-tracks. (190 points)

Total = exactly 1675 points 

Yes - I know it isn't great, but any time you take a Tiger list you're dropping nearly 1200 points in your compulsory choices before you get to add the gravy.  Given the list lacks recon I figured I'd just go with some smoke and some decent infantry to cover the tanks.

Here's a couple of pictures of the first Tiger I going for its final priming:





 

The initial Tiger I's used by the unit didn't even have the hangers for the side skirts.  I'll have a total of two initial production and one of the early production variants (which also requires a little work).  I'll post photos of the early Tiger I later this week once I get some of the detailing supplies I need to finish it up.

Guess the Mystery Project!

So I have my equivalent of the skunk works going here at home and have a couple of secret projects I'm slowly working through (in between finishing up that castable 39(H) OP, which is actually fairly close now!).  Rather than simply spill the beans and say "hey - this is what I'm working on" - I figured it would be more fun to do  a slow reveal on the project.  So here are a couple of pictures of the plans and the initial pieces of styrene sheet cut to shape. 

 




 
If anyone can guess it from this, I'll eat my hat, but as time goes by I'll post more photos.  I don't think it'll take too long once the hull starts coming together for people to get this one!

Sorry for the Absence!


Things have been more than a little crazy around here.  I have been working on a lot of Flames of War stuff, but not anything I could post to the blog.  Some of it I still can't!  As to some of it, unless you've been living under a rock you know that Battlefront is getting ready to release a small supplement covering the 1967 Arab-Israeli War with Wargames Illustrated.  Given this is how the Viet Nam range started, I have high hopes for the future!

The chaps over at Model Dads Blog did a nice video review of it.  I wrote an overview of the 1967 War and another article covering the armor of the Six Day Conflict for the magazine.  Needless to say that cut into my painting time, but any time I get an opportunity to actually write, I take it!

I've got a MW tournament coming up in late October and I've taken the opportunity to try and get my 1942 Schwere Panzerkompanie together.  This is a project I started back in January and I'm now actually finally getting around to finishing it.  Look for a separate article soon!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

559. Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung Wirbelwinds

The last month or so has been fairly busy with little time for actually working on my own miniature projects, but for the past week or so I've been able to start getting caught up a bit.  The Jagdpanthers detailed last month are ready for priming.  Also ready for priming are the Wirbelwind anti-aircraft tanks that will (hopefully) keep marauding fighter-bombers away from the big kitties.  The Battlefront Wirbelwind (GE165) is a very nice miniature on its own, but given that many Wirbelwind were converted from older Panzer IV hulls, there is a lot of room for variety.  Duske, Greenland, and Terlisten's Nuts and Bolts covering the Flakpanzer IV also contains a wealth of information and inspiration as well, not just for the Wirbelwind, but for the Ostwind as well.

Given I'm planning a unit of three  vehicles, I wanted to provide it with some variety.  As I mentioned before, the actual miniature itself is fairly nice, so I started with one just out of the box.  The model goes together nicely with the standard amount of clean-up on the tracks and the Flakvierling.



The Nuts and Bolts work also shows some that have deleted the vision ports on the front sides of the hull, but retain the single muffler/exhaust layout.  Figuring this would be simple enough to do, I just removed the ports, sanded the areas flat, and added a weld line for the front plate.

 
 
Finally is the one where I need my head examined.  I wanted to have at least one Wirbelwind with zimmerit.  Rather than use the hull from the Wirbelwind (which had some casting issues) I confiscated a hull from a Panzer IV H to use as the basis.  Unfortunately the Panzer IV H miniature doesn't have zimmerit on the hull sides.  To correct this, I removed the details from the right side and left side of the hull (except for the spare wheel bracket, which appears on several Wirbelwind).  I used miliput to not only fill the slots for the schurtzen (which do not appear on the Wirbelwind) but for the zimmerit as well. I textured the miliput with a modified Trumpeter 1/72nd scale zimmerit tool, and the results were fairly striking.



I also added zimmerit to the front and rear fenders using miliput as well.  On the entire model, I had to replace many of the molded in details with scratch-built styrene copies.  This includes the vision ports, jack block, and a few other minor details.  I took the bins from the defective Wirbelwind miniature and added them directly to the Ausf H hull.  The end result is a fairly convincing early production variant



The miniatures are now ready for priming.  You'll note I've left the heads off of the crew - the guns themselves are also not permanently affixed yet either.  I want to paint both of those separately before I glue them in place.  I'm also working on several "updated" Sturmgeschutz III Ausf G for this army (I'll need a total of six), so watch this space for the insanity on that particular project.

Monday, June 10, 2013

559. Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung Jagdpanthers

While waiting on some decals to finish a couple of other projects I'm working on (namely my 150. Panzerbrigade and my 761st Tank Battalion), I decided to go ahead and start working on some Jagdpanthers for my 559. Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung.  I'm using a mix of the Jagdpanther Platoon Box [GBX41] as well as the single Jagdpanther (with ruined building) [GBX22].  As I really love the tracks on the new Panther sprue - I had several lying around and decided to use mostly plastic components for the Jagdpanthers. 

I've always loved the Jagdpanther tank destroyer, and the 559. list from Bridge by Bridge is nice because you can round out the very expensive Jagdpanthers with less costly Stug III assault guns.  The downside is, like most of the German Market Garden lists, there is no recon option.  However, you get enough tubes and some decent artillery, infantry, and anti-aircraft options.

As always I'm keenly interested in the modeling aspects of the unit.  Research data on the 559. is scarce, but as they were the second unit equipped with the Jagdpanther, the few pictures show that they were all the early version with the monobloc gun barrel.  Unfortunately while Battlefront's Jagdpanther does a good job of representing most aspects of the early model, their gun barrel is the later two-part version.  However, with the new plastic barrel removing the sleeve and narrowing the barrel slightly is child's play, enabling an accurate rendering of the unit's vehicles.



As for the rest of the plastic parts, so far it is a bit of a mixed bag.  The spare track links are a bit larger than their metal equivalents.  As I mentioned before, the tracks are marvelous, but you generally have to sand down the plastic backing to get them to fit on any panther hull designed for the white metal tracks.  One interesting thing I found out recently is that the GBX22 SKU is now provided with all plastic parts.  Battlefront has also modified the hull slightly to accept the plastic tracks.

 

 
The other downside is that the plastic hatches for the Jagdpanther are way too small:

 

The old metal ones also gapped a bit, but they were better:

 

 

I'll likely try and use metal hatches - and if all else fails, I have punches the right size and can make them out of styrene. 

I'm hoping to get these done in the next week or two and off to the painting bench as the markings for this unit are fairly simple.  I plan on dressing up the Stug III hulls with zimmerit as well, but that will be a future blog entry.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Battlefront's Plastic M113 Platoon - First Look

Battlefront has recently released a new boxed set featuring the Viet Nam era M113, VUSBX07.  This is the first of the new promised plastic tanks and armor from Battlefront for Flames of War.  Experiences with the early tanks in the Open Fire set have generally been fairly negative.  Both the Sherman and the Stug have assembly problems, and there are numerous inaccuracies in the models.  I was therefore anxious to see how Battlefront responded with a more mainstream plastic release as they are facing stiff competition from the likes of Plastic Soldier Company and Zvezda in the 1/100th scale armor market.

Out of the box the pieces look infinitely crisper than what we've seen from Battlefront in the past.  You'll likely want to print out the assembly guide on the Battlefront website as the directions are sparse (essentially a color coded picture on the back).  I'll start with the downside, because quite frankly there isn't much downside to these miniatures.  There are some annoying ejector pin marks on the hull top and front, but fortunately they're in places that are fairly easy to fix.  I use Mr. Surfacer 1200 followed by a simple sanding to even them out.  I accidently left one unfilled and it showed up prominently once primed.  I fill them because they'll stand out once I run a wash over them in places that should be smooth on the actual vehicle. 

The suspension looks fairly good, they've even managed to drop the mold line nicely into the track pattern so it needs little clean up.  They've also cleverly used the wheel hubs for the ejector pins, though this makes the center hub of each roadwheel over-large and slightly wrong in shape, but that's a detail so minor that even this rivet counter is going to prime and paint right over it.  You'll also need to drill out the barrels in the guns, mortars, and recoilless rifle.  However, since the parts are plastic and not white metal, drilling them out is child's play.  Oh yeah, and the photo on the front of the box is of the old resin and metal version, not the current plastic one...

Thus endeth the VERY minor nits I can pick about this kit.  The rest is absolutely spectacular.  The detailing on the plastic parts is incredible.  The molding is crisp and there's little to no slip on the parts.  All hatches can be opened up or closed at the builder's discretion.  Did I mention the detailing is superb?  Construction so far has been a breeze - the fit of the parts is absolutely excellent.  You'll need to be careful as some are fragile.  There are also a lot of parts, but there were a lot of parts to the old resin and white-metal versions as well.  The fact that this is a plastic kit means that super-detailing and conversion will also be easier (if you want to get exotic with your miniatures).  Another nice feature is that most of the variants you can make under the current rules are included (there are a few that you need to hit up special order for the appropriate turrets). 

Finally there's the price.  The box will run you $35 (US) for a box of four, so that works out to roughly $8.75/vehicle.  Still to the high end by plastic standards, but far less than what you paid previously for the sets.  For example an ACAV box ran about $50, or $12.50/vehicle.  Given that the quality of the plastic is, quite frankly, better than the old resin and metal and the ease of assembly is greater the kit is a strong value for the money.  I haven't been this impressed with a release in quite some time. 

Bottom line - the M113 is an absolutely beautiful release.  The pricing is extremely competitive given the quality of the kit.  I've played with some of the PSC and Zvezda kits in the past and by and large, the new M113 surpasses what they have to offer at this point in terms of quality.  I'm honestly now looking for places do dump my old un-built resin versions because I simply have no further use for them.  If this is a sign of things to come from Battlefront - bring it on!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

761st Tank Battalion - Part 1 - Stuart Conversions

So one Flames of War army I've been dying to do for ages is the 761st Tank Battalion, and while there is no perfect list for them at this point, the Tank Company list from Blood, Guts, & Glory (FW220) is a reasonable approximation - as long as you don't take a bunch of mechanized support.  At this point I'm working to assemble enough 76mm M4A3 tanks to form the core of the force.  However, as an aside I wanted to have a few of Dog Company's "Mosquito Fleet" of M5A1 Stuart tanks as well.  Part 1 of my 761st Tank Battalion coverage will detail the Light Tank Platoon.

Unfortunately the 761st didn't get the photographic coverage many other units received, so any picture has to be poured over for as many details as one can glean out of it.  It's clear that the unit had both mid and late production M5A1 Stuarts.  The Battlefront US005 Stuart tank is an excellent representation of a mid-production M5A1, but lacks the characteristic turret machine gun shield seen in the late production models.  So, as seems to be normal with my armies, "some conversion" would be required to accurately represent the unit.

Since at this point I'm only planning one platoon of M5A1s, I decided to go with two "mid" and three "late" versions.  Photographs show a fair amount of stowage on several of the vehicles, so I'm adding some to many of the vehicles.  The first Stuart (shown below) is pretty much "out of the box" with only some extra stowage added. The shovel was slightly mis-cast, but as I wanted at least one vehicle with some extra bags, this one became it.

 
As the 761st was the first African-American armored unit to see combat in the US Army, I want to have more hatches open than I'd typically have to show off the crew.  The next Stuart is another "mid" variant, but this one will have a crewman in the open hatch.  I've substantially thinned the hatch and added detail for the other side of the periscope and hinges to it.

 
The next Stuart is the first of the "late" variants with the gun shield added.  The complex curvature of the shield was a pain in the butt to get right the first time, but the end effect is fairly solid.  The conversion also required sanding off the details on the right side of the turret.  I'm waiting until after priming to add the machine gun to ensure the front puttied area doesn't require additional fill or sanding (which would be complicated by the machine gun).  I'll likely add some stowage to this vehicle, but that's on the "to do" list.

 


Next is another late variant - this one has one turret hatch open - I had trouble getting the hatch to thin properly, so I simply replaced it with styrene and added hinge detail.

 
Last, but not least, is my command vehicle.  I've already started to add some stowage to this vehicle.  As with the vehicle above, the commander's hatch is detailed with hinges and periscope detail. 

 
So what started out as a quick set of conversions, quickly absorbed several hours.  Overall I'm pleased with how well the construction went on the miniatures.  For an older cast, the quality is good, though I did need to sand some of the rough texture off of some of the flat areas.

Next - Shermans!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Musings on Sherman Variants

So I've been building a metric crapton of Shermans lately as a part of several armies (US and Soviet) and see several gaps in the existing Battlefront range - most of which I think would be easy for them to close at this point.  I like the fact that we have the M4A3, M4A3 (late), and M4A3E8 variants as discrete offerings.  Unfortunately we don't have quite the same options for the M4A2 or the other Sherman variants.  Fortunately, Battlefront already produces most of the required components, so it should be easy for them to fill the gaps if they have the will to do it.

You could, for example, create a late 75mm M4A2 by combining the M4A2 76mm hull with an M4A3 (late) 75mm turret.  You could also create the late 76mm M4A2 by combining the current M4A2 76mm miniature with the M4A3E8 76mm gun with muzzle brake.  Given that there are already multiple track systems available in the online store it seems like it should be easy for Battlefront to offer the hulls, turrets, and guns separately or simply create "package deal" for specific models only available through Special Order.

I don't hold out a lot of hope that I'm ever going to see any direct vision slot hulls, so I'm resorting to conversion and casting to go that route for my Kasserine Pass army.  However, I'm working on an emcha army and want to model some of the very late M4A2 76mm with the muzzle brake, and would love to just be able to pick up the guns separately from Battlefront.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The 761st Tank Battalion

If you look carefully at the US941 American Decals set from Battlefront,  among all of the various generic names, there are a few in a very unique script.  One of them is "Counter Attack" the other is "Cool Studs Inc."  Given how unique these decals are, one would rightly assume that they belong to specific vehicles.  In this case, both vehicles belong to the historic 761st Tank Battalion - the first African American tank unit to see combat.  While a few other African-American units from World War II, such as the Tuskegee Airmen, have gained great fame, fewer know about the exploits of the 761st, or Black Panthers as they called themselves.

Part of the problem is the dearth of really solid reference works on the Battalion.  Probably the best book is Wilson's The 761st Black Panther Tank Battalion in World War II.  His account doesn't diminish any of the prejudice or bigotry encountered by the battalion, but at the same time it doesn't minimize the positive contributions of others in the command chain.  Overall I found his account perhaps the most refreshingly honest and balanced of any modern work I've read on the Battalion.

Unfortunately as with most books on the Battalion, there are several instances where many technical details provided in the text are incorrect.  For example, Wilson incorrectly identifies M4A3(76)W tanks as M4A3E8 tanks (which had a different suspension than the earlier model, but the same gun).  Granted, the layman would view this as a nit-picky error, but for historians, war gamers, model builders, and the like the error is significant.  This gaffe isn't isolated as errors like this crop up frequently throughout the entire work detracting from an otherwise excellent history.  With a little additional research into the actual equipment used by the battalion, Wilson could have authored perhaps the ultimate work on this Battalion.  Maybe he'll release a revised edition at some point, but I doubt it.

I'm hoping to do a 761st Army at some point, but none of the current Battlefront lists are perfect fits for it.  As an armored battalion, the unit was frequently parceled out as infantry support.  Given the current lists one could probably build up an infantry list and use the 761st in support (in either 76mm Sherman or Stuart tanks). 

Regardless, I plan to build up miniatures detailing this amazing unit.  The hurdles they had to overcome to even reach combat were overwhelming, and their performance in the field was nothing short of amazing.  Kudos to Battlefront for remembering to include decals for the vehicles in their standard decal set.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Confessions of a Compulsive Modeler

Anyone who's seen my 653rd Schwere Panzerjäger conversions knows I'm a sucker for visually unique armies.  Part of the reason I play German forces so frequently is the wide range of crazy vehicles they fielded during World War II.  Truth be told, the sickness started long before I found Flames of War because you see I'm also a model builder.  I brought that world over with me to miniatures wargaming.  The net effect is I finish fewer armies than I'd like, and most are never "out of the box."  That also means I probably don't have the best "tournament winning" army - but dang it I look GOOD losing. 

As Battlefront enters the "home stretch" in World War II, I'm lining up the list of "stuff I'd like to do" in 15mm using Battlefront miniatures as a starting point.  Right now the list is fairly extensive and will likely take me years to complete, but the end result should be very satisfying.

Given the release of the Jagdtiger list, I really want to convert a couple to the Porsche suspension version to add character to the 653rd list.  The miniature as depicted works great for the 512th, but the 653rd had more variety.  This is at the top of my list, but the conversion is non-trivial as the Porsche suspension version needs not only new running gear, but zimmerit on the hull as well.

With the re-release of the mid-war monsters, there are several minis I'd like to build from the Tiger (P) - including an updated Tiger (P) late, another Bergetiger (P), and both versions of the VK 4502 which I could run as a proxy for Tiger II's.

With the release of the non-zimmerited Tiger II, I'd also like to do an E-50 and E-75.  Yes, I know Heer 46 has them - they're not accurate based on my drawings.  The Forged in Battle ones are better, but still have some issues on the front hull.  Of course, once those are done - I'd like to do an E-10 and E-25, but those would be far more hard core scratchbuilds.

On a less exotic front, Battlefront has provided a very nice final production Panther G without zimmerit.  They have also given us a very nice initial production Panther G with zimmerit.  Unfortunately there are a lot of units that fielded vehicles without zimmerit, but lacking many of the "final production" features.  I'm hoping to make up a few of these as well which will involve some mantlet sculpting, rear deck changes, and exhaust modifications.  Once I have that together, I'll likely make an F with Schmalturm as well.

... and somewhere in all of this I'm going to finish up my Flakpanzer T34 and 39H OP.

So that's my "vision" - anyone else have "big plans" they want to share???  Confession is good for the soul, I'm told.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Market Garden Compilations for Flames of War

So I don't have my grubby hands on the final product yet, but unless you've been under a rock you know that Battlefront is in the process of releasing their new Market Garden Compilation.  Given that the original releases were a bit Spartan; these new books really flesh out the force lists and provide a much greater variety for both Allied and German commanders.  I didn't work on play-testing this particular project, but I did actually do some research and writing for the German compilation, Bridge by Bridge.  Big thanks to Mike Haught for the shout out in the design notes!

One thing that this project taught me is no matter how big my library is, and no matter how much I think I know about German operations in World War II, there is always more to learn!  I had to scour my library and the web to find the background for several unit histories, and then I had to try and work out contradictions in those references.  Overall it was an incredibly enjoyable project and I really look forward to playing some new armies out of the book.

I'll probably try and field the 559. Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung list (and not just because I wrote the history).  I've always loved the Jagdpanther, and this list has some interesting flexibility with the inclusion of the Stug III.  Panzer Brigade 107 is also an interesting choice, and would certainly make a nice "bad guy" to play against a 101st Airborne force.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Battlefront Bases in General Release

Battlefront will soon be releasing their new plastic bases with figure holes into general release.  One of the more useful sets for me looks to be the Mixed Bases with Figure Holes (XX108).  These bases are appearing in newer plastic and some metal figure sets.  For the plastic sets they work perfectly, but some work is required to make them work for metal figures.

Thus far I've used these on a few metal miniatures, and while it took a little extra work to prepare the miniature before painting (so it would fit in the hole) it saved me time on the back end in basing the miniatures.  The one issue I see is miniatures that are cast prone or otherwise on a large non-circular base.  For those, you'll likely still need a few of the old style bases.  However, given the end product is similar in thickness to a built up thin flat base the two should work well in combination.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fallschirmkommano for 150. Panzerbrigade

As mentioned last time - next up is the Fallschirmkommando platoon.  This one took a while because of the 3 tone camouflage patterns on the tunics.  The painting is based on photos and plates in the Osprey Ardennes 1944 Peiper & Skorzeny reference.  Unfortunately the color plates for the vehicles in this particular work have a lot of errors.  The uniforms for the infantry seem to better agree with other reference works.  I used Luftwaffe blue trousers and helmets for the unit.  For the tunics, I used the standard Flames of War recommended procedure for Fallschrimjäger cammo tunics. 



The group shot above is pretty decent, but no photographs really seem to do justice to the paint schemes at this point.  As with the mortars, I've added a light dusting of snow to represent conditions early on in the fighting when 150. Panzerbrigade was first employed.  For the unit I used the Fallschirmjäger Platoon (GE762).  Overall I found the miniatures pretty good, though some of the faces could be a bit more detailed.






 
Above are some detail shots.  Unfortunately I'm still struggling a bit with the macro lens on my Nikon and I'm just not getting the depth of field I'd like to get on these.  Overall I'm pretty pleased with how the miniatures came out.  I learned a lot about different shading techniques and think I'm closing in on a new technique that will let me be more consistent going forward. 

12cm Mortars for 150. Panzerbrigade

So I'm making a fair amount of progress on my 150. Panzerbrigade army - some of the platoons are (gasp!) actually done.  One of the first ones I finished up was the 12cm mortar platoon.  There aren't a lot of artillery options for 150. Panzerbrigade and generally I've found that I need at least one reasonable arty unit in most tournaments so I went with the 12cm artillery.  As the mortar support for 150. Panzerbrigade was Heer, I used the 12cm sGW43 Mortar Platoon (GE711).  Overall I thought it was a reasonably nice set of miniatures.  Some people haven't liked the crew figures, but I think they painted up pretty well.

The first photo is a group shot of unit.  I've used brown rather than black webbing I've used a dark brown.  Based on the references I own there's a variety in the webbing colors.  I've also put a light dusting of snow on the bases.  I'm trying to model 150. Panzerbrigade when they jumped off in mid-December, and based on the photos I have there was only a light dusting of snow at that point (though there was indeed snow!).

 


Below is a photo of the command squad and a couple of teams in front of one of the new Battlefront Houses

 

 
Here's looking at you!  Okay, just the observer, but he came out pretty decently.

 

One platoon down - several to go.  Next up are the Fallschrimkommandos.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

150. Panzerbrigade List and Miniature Progress

As mentioned in my previous post, I'm currently finishing up my 150. Panzerbrigade army.  The current list is 1780 points (though there's a 2000 point tournament later this month, so I may need to punch it out a bit!) and is as follows:

HQ:

·         CiC and 2iC Panzerfaust submachine gun teams with Jeeps (I typically come out 10 points short, so I can upgrade one to a halftrack) (75 points or 85 points with halftrack)

 
Combat Platoons:

·         Fallschirmkommando Platoon with command panzerfaust SMG team and 9X Rifle/MG teams (275 points)
·         Ersatz Panther Platoon with 3X Ersatz Panthers (550 points)
·         Ersatz Stug Platoon with 5X Ersatz Stug III G (475 points)

 
Weapon Platoons:

·         Heavy Mortar Platoon - Command SMG team, Observer team, 4X 12cm sGW43 mortars (160 points)
·         Ersatz Panzerspäh Platoon - 3X Captured M8 Greyhounds (135 points)
·         Skorzeny Commando Groups - 2X Skorzeny Commando Groups (100 points)

 
Total is 1770 or 1780.  Use of the Skorzeny Commando groups is right for the "theme" of the army, but I could drop them for an Me262 air support if the mood struck me.

Enough about the facts and figures, you want to see the PICTURES!  I've based these guys as if they were in use early in the campaign (as the actually were), so the snow isn't hip deep at this point, but it is present.  The HQ are both SS-troops, so I've used pea-dot cammo on them (shown below).  I'm using the Osprey Ardennes 1944 - Peiper & Skorzeny book as a primary reference for the troops, but not the vehicle markings because of known errors in the vehicle markings (which I'll detail in a later blog post).


 
The Fallschirmkommando unit scheme (shown below) is based on the uniform for Fallschrimjäger Regiment 9.  It may not be exactly right for the units attached to 150. Panzerbrigade, but it is a legitimate Luftwaffe scheme.

 

 
The rest of the Fallschirmkommando stands are painted, but the basing isn't quite finished yet.  The mortars are nearly done as well.  I hope to get photos of these posted soon.

Until next time!!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

150. Panzerbrigade in Progress

I spent a good portion of the day neatening up my work table, which had become a complete and utter disaster area.  It's marginally better at this point, but will get a lot better once I get my organizers in from Micromark.  Anyway, given I had time to clean off the table, I got the new cutting mat on the work surface and lined up my current project - 150. Panzerbrigade from Devil's Charge (seen below).  I've always loved the converted vehicles for this particular unit, so when the list was released, I just couldn't resist.

 

At this point I'm running with 3 Panthers, 5 Stugs, a full unit of paratroopers, heavy mortars, 3 captured M8's, and a couple of Skorzeny teams.  Overall the unit has been a lot of fun to paint up and model.  I dropped the metal tracks and gun barrels from the Panthers and went with the new plastic ones instead.  The Stugs have a combination of barrels with and without muzzle brakes.  I'll get a more detailed painting guide and more pictures up once they're done (hopefully in a couple of weeks!).

So what's on your table????

Saturday, January 5, 2013

RIP Thomas L. Jentz

I just recently discovered checking the Panzer Tracts website that Thomas L. Jentz has passed away.  For those of you who don't know, Thomas Jentz is one of the cornerstones of tank research and the author of many of the most authoritative works German armor and armored forces in World War II, though he also researched other armored topics as well.  A short list of books he has authored or co-authored includes:

·         Germany's Tiger Tanks D.W. to Tiger I: Design, Production & Modifications
·         Germanys Panther Tank: The Quest for Combat Supremacy
·         Tank Combat in North Africa: The Opening Rounds Operations Sonnenblume, Brevity, Skorpion and Battleaxe
·         Germanys Tiger Tanks: Tiger I & Tiger II: Combat Tactics
·         Panzertruppen 1 and Panzertruppen 2
·         Co author on the entire Spielberger German Armor and Military History Vehicle Series
·         Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War II - perhaps the first truly scholarly work on German armor

A more comprehensive list can be found at Amazon

Thomas Jentz will be sorely missed in the historical and modeling communities.  His excellent works are one of the primary reasons I got into German armor modeling and his scholarship has always been an inspiration to me.  I want to wish all of his family and friends my most sincere condolences. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Herd of Elefants - Part 1

Inspired by other grand projects I’ve seen, my goal is to ultimately have most, if not all, documented Elefant of Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 653 represented in model form.  There are several good references out there which are included in the Bibliography below.  I’ll start with a review of the basic Elefant miniature from Battlefront and then go from there.

 GE132 – Elefant

The good:  Overall the shape and scale of the vehicle is good and the detailing is fairly accurate.  Assembly is very straight forward, and the miniature is sturdy – which is a big plus for something that’s hopefully going to see a fair amount of use.  Parts breakdown makes sense – two track units, hatches, and the gun.

The not as good:  Tail light, jack, jack box, and tool box missing from the rear of the vehicle.  No spare track links provided (though these were common stowage items – you could probably get away with using Panther tracks, but you’ll have to change the guide teeth).  One of the gun sight slit hatches is missing from the superstructure roof.  The left and right engine vents are too wide and approach the center vent too closely – side vents are also larger than the central vent when in actuality the reverse was true.

The inconvenient:  Obviously since this was a rare bird, there’s only one miniature to go with, so you have to do a fair amount of conversion to get the breadth of the vehicles actually fielded.  The molded in tow cable is on one side only (there are ample examples of vehicles with one, two, or none).
 

Accurizing

Some of the issues with the stock miniature are relatively simple to fix.  I’ve built-up a jack box and cast resin copies of it.  You can take a jack out of the Panther box and add it to the rear superstructure.  Adding a rear light is also fairly easy – just build up one from styrene strip.  I’ve also added the extra hatch on the top with styrene sheet and strip.  I don’t bother with the surgery on the engine hatches at this point (and probably won’t ever).  Adding the tool box to the rear is also fairly simple – just use a thick piece of strip styrene cut to the right dimensions and add zimmerit with green putty.  I also add a small strip of styrene to connect the front and rear fenders a bit better than you get with simply attaching the track units to the hull.


Out of the box

The miniature as packaged will build up several vehicles without major modification.  These include:

·         East Front:
o   Vehicles 223 and 224 (red, white outline)
o   Vehicle 232 (red, white outline)
o   Vehicle 234 (red, white outline – it’s possible the Munch book misidentifies vehicle 234 as vehicle 334, as the first digit is missing and the contrast of the center of the number is low like the number is red, not black)
o   Vehicle 322 (solid black)
o   Vehicle 301 (number unclear in photos)
o   Vehicle 323 (black, white outline(?))
o   Vehicle 331 (black, white outline)
o   Vehicle 332 (black, white outline)
o   Vehicle 334 (solid black – or black with white outline – two primary references contradict)
o   Most other vehicles used by 653 on the Eastern Front (no number in many photographs)
o   One of the two survivors which fought in Berlin as a part of s.Pz.Jg. Kompanie 614. (no number) – note four were assigned to sPzJg Kompanie 614., but only two actually made it into the fighting in Berlin.

·         Italy:
o   At least one 1st Company Elefant (with no number visible)
o   It’s also “close enough” to model Elefant 124 of the 1st company (though this particular vehicle had horizontal zimmerit around the closed vision ports). 

 
Minor Surgery

Toward the end of the conversion run, four vehicles were fitted with a modified rear hatch consisting of two leaves as opposed to the single large hatch.  It’s a fairly simple matter to add some styrene hinges and overlap to the rear hatch of the miniature.  At least one of these served in the HQ Company of 653. Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung (no number). 

The pictures below show the first build-up of one of these vehicles.  Note that I’ve already added details discussed above.  The split hatch is accomplished through cutting and shaping strip styrene.  I find a tool called “The Chopper” to be invaluable for this sort of work.

 

 




Part 2 will cover the Elefant that require more work and markings for the unit.