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

Friday, October 31, 2014

Ammo of MIG Japanese Tank Colors!

Well, I must have been sitting under a rock because I missed the fact that Ammo of MIG has come out with a range of colors for Early War Japanese AFV's.  I have some enamel paints covering Japanese colors, but I generally prefer acrylic for my airbrushing unless I can't help it because of the fumes associated with enamel painting.


The set appears to include the four primary colors you'll need to paint Japanese tanks from 1937-42 - just what you need to finish up that Rising Sun army!  Included is the base khaki (tsuchi kusa iro), the mahogany brown (tsuchi iro), green (kusa iro), as well as flat yellow.

I have an early war tournament coming up early next year and I'm still trying to decide between Japanese and Soviet... yes, you read that right, I'm actually not planning on bringing German... for once!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New Ammo of MIG Books Incoming - Painting Wargaming Tanks

Courtesy of Denis Schumacher over at Heer 46 is a heads up on a new book coming out from the guys over at Ammo of MIG - Painting Wargaming Tanks.  This appears to include some nice profiles for painting 1/100th (15mm) scale tanks for use in games like Flames of War.


I've picked up some of the gaming colors from Ammo of MIG, and I can't wait for this book to be generally available.  Once I get my grubby mitts on a copy I'll do a full review!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Battlefront Plastic Stugs Incoming

During the recent Flamescon event, Battlefront showed off some new plastic miniatures including a Cromwell, Comet (!), and a new plastic Stug III (frame shown below).


Up until this point the only way to properly field a Stug III G (late) using Battlefront miniatures was to use the fairly sketchy Stug III out of the Open Fire set.  Of the plastic tanks available with that set, the Stug was the better of the two, but it still lacked several critical details, while others were simply incorrect.  This new sprue looks far more promising, and gives options for both the standard and late versions of the vehicle.

I've been eagerly awaiting some good late Stug III's as I need four for my 1/512 Schwere Panzerjager army.  No release date was indicated in the article, that I could see, but I just received my Wargames Illustrated issue for November and it indicates that GBX82 Stug G Platoon (Plastic) is a November release.  Looks like I have something for my early Christmas list...  Now if they could just get out that late plastic Jagdpanther they previewed at last year's Flamescon I'd be a very happy man!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mid-War Tournament After Action Report!

So I took the winter tigers of 502 Schwere Panzer-Abteilung to the local tournament yesterday.  We were supposed to have eight to ten players, but only ended up with six because of various illnesses and last minute family emergencies.  Almost all of the players were from the old Oregon Flames of War (ORF) playtest group.  At 1500 points, I knew that my list would have to be handled carefully because I just didn't have the shots to handle a large force or a broad front.

My first game was against my buddy Ryan and he brought the blob of Soviet infantry covered by some KV's and Su-85's.  Yeah, I'm pretty much boned.  We were also playing dust up, so I had to nominate which platoons I left in delayed reserve first.  I elected to leave the Nebelwerfers and one Tiger in reserve.  In retrospect with the large infantry blobs, I should have had the Nebelwerfers on the table.  Given how lightly defended the objective was, Ryan elected to move one of his companies of infantry on the attack immediately.  The Germans put up a valiant fight, and had severely whittled down the Soviets, but two untimely failed saves against sappers on the Tigers doomed the effort and he managed to take the objective as time expired.  1-6 to Ryan.  If not for the untimely deaths of the Tigers this one would have ended up a 2-3 draw.

Next game was against a newer player blue on blue against Panzergrenadiers with some Marder support and priority Stukas.  The mission was fighting withdrawal.  He put one objective in the corner, so I went ahead and put my two objectives in the far corner roughly 10" apart.  After he'd placed, across a broad front with one squad of Panzergrenadiers, I overloaded the side with his objective.  I immediately moved up my Tigers and panzergrenadiers to get in close, losing one Tiger to Stuka attack.  I was eventually able to successfully assault and take the objective, but he managed to keep enough units close enough to contest for 3 turns as the forces whittled each other down. Again time was called, and he won because it was a defensive battle, so I ended up with a 2-5.  I think I could have pulled out a 4-3 on this one if we'd had 10-15 more minutes.

The last game was against my friend Steve in Breakthrough, again blue on blue against his Fallschirmjaeger supported by two Hornisse and an HS-129.  He elected to put everything on the table from the outset as he only had one motorized unit, and I left off one Tiger.  I hugged cover and got in close to keep the dang air attack aircraft off of me.  He began moving his infantry back to cover the objective, and my grenadiers followed.  One unit of his paras failed to dig in, and I was able to cut them up and break them with my grenadier platoon.  On the other side of the table, the Tigers knocked out the observer for the mortars and picked off one of the Hornisse in a game of "peek-a-boo."  The grenadiers then took out most of the enemy mortar platoon, but he was able to remove the last stand in good order denying me a potential point.  In the middle the Tigers took out another squad of the German paras.  Eventually my remaining Tiger entered the fray and I was able to collapse the pocket on the remaining paratroopers, though I ultimately lost the Grenadier platoon for a 5-2 victory.

My takeaways from the tournament.  First - it was a lot of fun, and I really don't get to actually play the game enough.  My goal for the next few months is to actually get out and play the game more. Second, everyone seemed to have a great time.  The sportsmanship was excellent across the board. On my list specifically, I knew it was pretty much a "best I could do" if I wanted to take a Tiger company at 1500 points.  Unfortunately I hadn't gotten a chance to actually play the list before the tournament, and there are a lot of mistakes I made in handling it that I wouldn't have made if I'd had a few dry runs.  I don't think I'd ever win a competitive tournament with this list, but I had a lot of fun running it.  My army did win best painted, so that more than made up for getting trounced in the early rounds! 

Friday, October 24, 2014

502 - Ready for Tournament - Now with Pictures

I'm not sure that any army is every truly "done", but this army is as "done" as it is going to be before the tournament tomorrow.  I apologize in advance for the (lack of) quality of the photos.  I still don't have my light box ready to go so I'm relying on ambient halogen or my overpowered flash at this point.


First up is the whole army on my army box.  I need the army box to be modular so I'm just using some white felt as a base at this point.  I may be able to upgrade the basing for the box later as soon as I can figure out a way to easily interchange it!


Here's the recovery halftrack and driver.


These are the halftracks for the Nebelwerfer unit.  They're based using the same technique as the infantry.


... and yes the whole unit has tactical markings and license plates.  Gotta keep those MP's happy!


Here's the command tiger - it came out pretty well!


Did I mention the overly harsh flash?  Yeah... I promise better pictures once I have time to take some!


Here's a rear view of the #3 tank so you can see the very clean hull rear plate and unique exhaust.

Well, there you have them!  I'm completely out of time, so now I need to go find some Battlefoam that will fit the army (guess what order I didn't get in on time!).  Wish me luck at the tournament.  I likely won't win, but I'm going to look decent losing!

502 Is Finally DONE.... -ish....

I'll have some pictures this evening (as it was too late to take photos last night), but I put the finishing touches on my 502 Schwere Panzerabteilung army for Saturday last night.  So now it's "done" - at least for the time being.  There are a couple of details I may go back and work on later for this army (fixing the turrets on the initial production tigers, toning down the blue on the gloves and scarves a bit on the infantry, and adding more stuff in the back of the recovery half track), but overall I'm pretty pleased with how it came out.  

Now I need to finish writing-up my unit history and modeling details for the tournament and then get all of my stuff ready to go bright and early in the morning.  I haven't actually gotten to RUN this army at 1500 points yet, so I'm a bit concerned it'll get fragged right out of the gate, but it will look SO good as flaming ruins on the table!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

502 Update - Coming Down to the Wire

Now less than a week to the tournament, never has so much time been spent by so many on so few vehicles... no, wait, that's not quite right.  Anyway, it seems like all I've been doing is painting for the past few days, but I'm finally starting to get some results.  I've pretty much finished up the Nebelwerfer support this morning.  I may add a little additional "window dressing" to the base, but overall they're pretty much there.  I used some Tamiya "soot" to darken the ends as the Nebelwerfer is one of the few weapons that you can actually get away with a real "soot" stain on!  It worked amazingly well!


Again, the photos are not the best quality at this point, but I wanted to show how the panzer gray stands out against the white snow.

I've also been working on all of the support vehicles.  I still need to add drivers and crew to the support vehicles, and a couple of commanders to the tanks, but I can see the "end" on the vehicles from where I sit.  I still have some work to do on the tracks and stowage on the Tigers, but #2 (a little blurry up front) is nearly done at this point.  I left the vehicles and halftracks attached to the Nebelwerfers in overall gray as the photos of this unit seem to have all rear echelon vehicles still in overall gray - presumably only front line units were getting a full whitewash.


I was honestly hoping to be posting "done" pictures at this point, but I'm nearly done. I have learned a lot going through this project and plan on posting full construction and painting details in an upcoming entry (as I'm writing them up for my army history for the tournament!).

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Playing in the Snow - or - Grenadier support for 502 Schwere Panzer-Abteilung

Did you guys know I actually paint infantry as well?  No really!  Honestly I don't think my infantry are quite up to my tanks yet, but they're getting better. Regardless, any well-rounded force is going to need some support, so here's some of the support for my Tiger I tanks in the snow - greatcoat grenadiers in the snow!


Just a couple of quick shots of the grenadiers - again, the indoor light isn't great.


This was my first time out using the rural bases... and snow... so there was a fair amount of experimentation on these.  I'm using a new variety of Silfor with winter flocking.  I think the overall effect came out okay.  I also have Nebelwerfer support, but I'll post that tomorrow if all goes well.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Adventures in Decal Making - Or How to Mark Your Tanks

One of the key aspects of 502 Schwere Panzer-Abteilung that attracted me to the project was a unique numbering scheme it used in early 1943 in Russia.  The unit was down to only five Tigers, so they renumbered them using a single digit one through five.  Tanks one through four used a black numeral while number five used a white numeral.  At least one of the remaining Panzer III Ausf N also still retained the earlier elephant unit insignia.  Only one problem, there are no decals available for the unit in 1/100th scale.

Undeterred, and tired of not being able to find the markings I want for various Flames of War projects, I decided to go out on a limb and make my own.  I found the DecalPRO system online, and decided it looked like my best option because there is the option of creating white decals and transfers.  The catch is their system makes dry transfers, not waterslide decals.  So I picked up some blank decal film from Archer Fine Transfers which I would actually use as the transfer medium.

The DecalPRO guys have a tutorial and some tips and tricks online, so I won't go through the full process here.  Be forewarned, there is a learning curve associated with their technique and some experience with a laminator is helpful.  For black decals you can transfer the toner as printed onto their special release paper, or you can put a black pigment on top of it (I had the best results with black pigment).  For white you'll need to print in black and then put white on top of it.  

The first step is to work up the artwork based on your references and then scale it appropriately for the miniatures. It is then printed out on a special release paper and then goes through a series of processing steps. As you can see from the shot below, I was only partially successful in getting the numbers to transfer. It wasn't a big problem as I only need two of each for any one vehicle. Bear in mind it took about 4 tries to get a transfer that looked this good.


White had a similar learning curve.  It is hard to see, but though all of the decals are there, some of them have either extra or missing pattern.


However, the end results were nothing short of spectacular.  The numbers came out literally perfectly. They match the photos and drawings of the actual vehicles I have.  Bear in mind I haven't finished the wash on these vehicles, so there's a little pooling of wash in spots.


The real test would be the white decals, though.  I decided to go ahead and put the elephant on Tiger number two as the artwork and photos I have show that the turret box is still in the original gray, and I don't have a rear view showing that it has been oversprayed.  The only other tiger I've completed with a gray turret box is Tiger number one, and I have photos showing that the rear elephant is not present on that vehicle.  I've also put one on the Panzer III Ausf N as I have a photo showing it is on that particular vehicle.

 
As you can see, the decal looks absolutely perfect, and it's WHITE!  Without an ALPS printer!  I still have work to do on the wash on this particular tiger as well, the final product will be a bit neater.

So there you go, it took me the better part of a morning to get enough decals to come out properly to actually complete my vehicles, but the end result was worth every minute of it.  The fact that the technique actually worked so well bodes well for future projects where I'll hopefully overprint the white pigment to create multi-color decals with white.  


Thursday, October 16, 2014

502 Schwere Panzerabteilung Update - Time for the Winter Coats!

Sorry for the lack of update posts, I've been stuck working on other projects and I'm only now getting back the miniatures. I have some time off this week, so I'm madly trying to finish up the winter-themed 502 Schwere Panzer-Abteilung army for the mid-war tournament coming up in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately my first day of vacation, the monsoon season hit here in Oregon - which makes my normal airbrushing set up on the covered deck completely useless.  Cold and rainforest levels of humidity are NOT your friend when you're trying to paint.  So I cobbled together a poor man's spray booth (see below) and persevered... my wife especially liked the Eggo box as a riser.


I had already done the modulation coats on the Tigers, unfortunately putting together the list I realized I needed a few more halftracks and Kubelwagen, so I had some more base coats to do.  It was just as well as I'd unwisely tried to paint in the monsoon.  The first Tiger came out okay - they next one was a flaming disaster, so I had to go back and redo the base coats and shading.  Once that was done I used Panzer Putty (sorry, no in progress photos this time) to mask out the areas to remain gray.  I then modulated the white as best as possible using a two-step process of a panzer gray shine mixed with white, and then pure white.


Above is the Panzer III Ausf N.  Because of the low point total, I won't be able to bring the little escort panzers this time, but I really like how it came out.  You can sort of see some of the modulation in this photo, but honestly the light isn't good enough to see the fine details


I went ahead and did a band camouflage on the recovery half track.  This thing looks really good in person.  I need to get the window, top, and crew painted, but it is coming along nicely.




Next are the 3 Tiger I tanks.  The gray bands on these are a bit wider than they need to be, but overall the effect is pretty close to the "real things."  Unfortunately I noticed an issue with my turrets as I was putting the Panzer Putty on the vehicles.  Instead of the hatch on the right rear, all three should have one an additional pistol port.  I bravely resisted the urge to correct this detail as, well honestly I won't have time to do it before the tournament.  I'll get them for next time around.

All of the miniatures have had a gloss coat put on them and are now ready for the wash.  I'm planning on using a mix of the blue for panzer gray and black washes from AK interactive on these.  I am also hoping to get some custom decals printed for these.  I have a dry transfer system I'm going to use to create transfers which I'll then put on clear decal film.  Hopefully it works!  The supporting infantry and artillery is also nearly ready to go, so I'll be posting them in the next few days as well.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Flames of War Barbarossa Design Notes

Battlefront has posted the design notes from the upcoming Barbarossa book.  While many were expecting a full hardback covering this period, at this point we're getting a softback book.  Because the book is a soft-cover, the page count is lower, and there are proportionally fewer armies represented in the list. The book only covers Germany and the Soviet Union at this point, so there are no lists for Germany's allies. Hopefully we'll see these at some point in PDF form, or in a hardback compilation.

The Germans get a good mix of armored and infantry forces. The Light Armored Company is based around the Panzer III tank, and it appears that the baseline gun is the 5.0cm L/42 gun rather than the older 3.7cm model.  Though they'll likely be somewhat expensive, the higher AT values for the larger gun will be an absolute MUST in this book. There is also a Czech panzer company, though I imagine it will suffer as the 3.7cm gun is going to have trouble cracking Soviet armor.  The Panzer IV F/1 also appears to be in the book, though the short 7.5cm gun lacks the punch of the later long-barreled version.

In support the Germans get a good mix of the normal options, but there are a few new options.  The 15cm Nebelwerfer appears allowing use of this popular weapon in early war.  There is also an option to field the Dicker Max tank destroyer with its heavy 10.5cm gun.  When facing T-34's or especially KV tanks, the additional firepower is a welcome addition. Also available is the Flammpanzer II - hopefully this will be available on the proper Panzer II Ausf D/E chassis!

The Soviets get a mix of tank and infantry formations as well.  Formations based on the T-28, T-35, and T-26 were featured prominently in Rising Sun.  Barbarossa sees the BT, T-34, and KV come to the fore.  The BT series is an incremental improvement over the older T-26 series.  According to the stats posted on the Battlefront website, it gets both Fast Tank and Overloaded.

The real highlight is the T-34 - more heavily armed and armored than any of the common German tanks, it adds the Fast Tank and Wide Tracks characteristics making it the real king of the battlefield. The KV tanks sacrifice the mobility of the T-34 for much heavier armor (though the KV-1 uses the same 76.2mm gun). Also included is the KV-2 with its 152mm howitzer. I've always liked the KV-2, even though its utility on the battlefield is more limited.

I picked up a variety of Soviet tanks in the Early War sale - mostly the older marks - T-28, T-36, and T-35, but I also picked up a few KV-2 as well.  I'm also looking forward to the miniatures for the KV-1 obr 1939 and 1940 as this would finally give Finnish players a reasonably accurate miniature for one of the two Finnish KV's (the fenders would still need some modification). Barbarossa will be out sometime this month, so the long wait will finally be over.