Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of historical and fantasy miniatures wargaming and model building. From 15mm Flames of War, to Warhammer 40K, to 1/35th scale tanks, with some potential surprises on the horizon - you'll find them here!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

On to Berlin! A Late War Soviet Lend Lease Tank Army in Progress

So I finally made up my mind on what to bring to the upcoming "1945" tournament at Guardian Games. I've wanted to do a late war / Berlin Soviet Sherman Army for several years at this point - and I finally decided to just go for it. Armed with my Ammo of MIG (and a few leftover AK Interactive) paints, I've been madly working on the army.

The fun thing about the Inomarochnikiy Tankovy Batalon (Red Bear Revised, page 138) is that you can run both 76mm and 75mm equipped Sherman tanks in the same company in large quantities. Unfortunately there is no Berlin timeframe list at this point, as the Desperate Measures update that includes options from Berlin only covers the T-34 armed Tankovy Batalon. There is a "Hero" list on Digital, but I really wanted the massed armor rather than the smaller units of the Hero list.

I decided to mark my Shermans as belonging to the 1st Mechanised Corps, 2nd Guards Tank Army, 1st Byelorussian Front during the assault on Berlin. True confession time, I don't know if the 1st Mechanised Corps actually had both 76mm and 75mm Shermans available. I know they had earlier fielded the M4A2 (dry) with applique armor, and those vehicles lacked the distinctive "L" shaped markings on the hull sides. I also know that Soviet forces in Vienna, Austria not only fielded both types, but even had some early M4A2 still in evidence. So I figure it's within the realm of possibility given Soviet AFVs fielded at the time to include a mix of models, but I don't have any definitive photographic evidence.

There are no decals available for the 1st Mechanised Corps, so I had to create my own as I have done previously for the Tiger I tanks from my 502 Schwere Panzer-Abteilung. Unfortunately the decal maker gave me a heck of a time today, but I finally have all but three of the tanks ready to go (at least the Shermans). I also made up some decals for some Valentine tanks used by 2nd Guards as well. Again, I'm not sure many Valentines actually made it to Berlin, but I know they were around at the Battle of Küstrin. I also have some documentation for 2nd Guards markings for Valentines.

The Shermans are basecoated at this point with modulation colors from the Ammo of MIG Wargame US Armor Set - I'm now in the process of finishing the decals so I start the washes and weathering. Here are a few of the 76mm armed M4A2 - notice they all have the muzzle brake:

I also have several 75mm M4A2 in progress as well (a mix of large hatch and small hatch dry stowage models):

This is what you call a mess of Sherman tracks - fortunately the Soviets tended to use metal tracks, so the painting will be easier.

I've been able to generate some reasonably nice markings with my decal making system, but it's a bit of an involved process - with at least nine opportunities to completely screw-up. Unfortunately I took advantage of many of those opportunities to screw-up this weekend, but I finally obtained decent markings for all but three of the tanks (I'm going to have to re-do some markings later this week). This is one of the white foils that lets you turn a "black" printed image into a "white" decal:

I'd hoped to add both SU-76M and ISU-122 to the force as I have sources that suggest both were fielded by the unit. Unfortunately the new plastic Heavy Assault Gun Company (SBX37) just arrived at my house this weekend, and given the tournament is in two weeks, and I'm way far behind as is - so these beauties will have to wait for next time. I've gone ahead and added the SU-76M - and thrown in some SU-122 instead of their larger, more heavily armed and armored cousins. I believe most of the SU-122 were removed from service by this point, but it fit into my allowable points and is a good anti-infantry platform. I've used an AK Interactive Russian Green Modulation Set for these:

The Valentines were a bit tricky - I decided to use the late war British 1944-1945 Olive Drab from Ammo of MIG - found in their British 1939-1945 European Colors set, but I had to mix my own modulation colors. I think I could have used more contrast, but they came out pretty good none the less (and to the top you can see the modulated BA-64 armored cars as well - dang those are tiny!):

So, as per normal, I have a lot to do to get all of these done for the tournament, but I'm hoping now that the decal system is working again, I'll be able to get everything taken care of in a reasonable amount of time... yeah, I know, I'll be madly finishing up on the Friday night before the tournament as per normal. I'll try to post a few more pictures as I go along, but if all else fails, I'll do an "after action report" with all of the details on the completed miniatures.


  1. Those are looking nice, modulation is something I want to start trying.

    1. I'd recommend the Ammo of MIG painting wargame tanks as a good place to start. Heresey Brush also has several "how to" videos. You'll need a decent airbrush, a good stable source of air pressure, and some time and patience to get good with the airbrush, but the end result can be awesome.

  2. Good afternoon. And not share the secret of how you make the decals?

    1. Making the decals was a bit of an arcane process - but here's what I did.

      I generated the artwork on my computer using photoshop and some of the photos of the real thing based on my references, scans, and a few really good websites.

      I then used the DecalPro fx system ( to generate dry transfers using my laser printer. This is a multi-step process which involves laser printing the markings on special paper, using a foil to turn them from black to white, and then putting them on a backing. You then add adhesive to the transfers.

      While they're designed to be dry transfers, I find at 15mm they're too small to use that way - so I put them on clear decal film (Archer has some, there are other sources as well), and then used them as traditional decals.