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!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

New BF Plastics - Rommel's Afrika Korps

Before I get started I wanted to leave this little code here: [/rant]

For those of you not versed in HTML, that's "end rant" as in "rant officially over." I've said publicly all that needs to be said on the current state of the V4 MW lists, and now it is time to move on.

This past week I went out and picked up the new books, including the new Afrika Korps and Desert Rats army books, and the Rommel's Afrika Korps (GEAB14) boxed set.

So why is a veteran player like myself picking up what is marketed as essentially a starter set? There is one very simple answer - the MINIATURES! I'd gotten a sneak peak at these, and I knew that the model support for V4 was going to be absolutely spectacular, and this first set of miniatures absolutely doesn't disappoint. For roughly $80 U.S. you get a total of ten miniatures and a starter book. I really didn't need the starter book, but I really did need the miniatures. No really. I NEEDED them.

The Panzer IV features both short and long gun versions of the tank and is designed along the lines of the very nice Panzer IV Ausrf H (GBX79) previously released by Battlefront. In the Afrika Korps lists, the Panzer IV is separated into short 7.5cm and long 7.5cm models. For fans of German armor, this may seem to be a step backwards, as previous editions of the game referred to Panzers according to their Ausführung (Model or Type) designation. However, in German tactical documents - the official OKW Type designation was rarely used instead referring to tanks with variable armament as (l) or (k) for lang and kurz which translate to long and short respectively. So the new designations are technically correct, if not exactly what we're used to. 

Based on the upper hull configuration, This version of the Panzer IV represents an Ausf F (with the short 7.5cm gun) and Ausf F2 (with the long 7.5cm gun with the globular muzzle brake) or an Ausf G (with the long 7.5cm gun with the more familiar double baffle muzzle brake). I hope that we'll see a version of this miniature with the added armor to represent later Ausf G with Schurtzen as a future release. That being said, if you're feeling ambitious you should be able to kitbash one from the existing Ausf H version (which I may try just for fun - yes I know, I'm a sick man).

The Panzer III miniature contains part for several versions of this workhorse of the desert including a short 5.0cm, long 5.0cm, short 7.5cm, and up-armored versions of the vehicle. One very clever thing that Battlefront did was to mold the engine deck as a separate reversible piece, expanding the number of Marks which can be delivered from a single sprue. The short 7.5cm version should be modeled as up-armored and represents the Panzer III Ausf. N tank. The long 5.0cm up-armored version represents the late Panzer III Ausf L tank (the Ausf M had a different exhaust as did some Ausf N types). 

The short and long 5.0cm gunned versions without additional armor generally represent the Ausf J and early Ausf L models. The rear engine covers on these last variants are ever so slightly smaller than the later ones (at least in 1/100th scale), but the difference is barely noticeable unless you're an extreme rivet counter. If you're particularly ambitious you could alter them - which is easier than it used to be given these are plastic miniatures, but purely optional.

Finally, the 8.8cm guns. Yeah, these are nice. I miss the rolling carriages, but the detail on the gun mechanism is amazing. There is also a very nice plastic crew provided as well along with appropriate bases. Having cleaned up many of the old white metal versions, I'm honestly looking forward putting these together.

Honestly in terms of the new miniatures for the V4 Mid War release, Battlefront has completely outdone themselves. These new all-plastic Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks are nothing short of spectacular. Sure, I could come out with some fairly esoteric inaccuracies, but nothing that is going to even decrease this grognard's enjoyment of putting these babies together and painting them. I may decide to superdetail or convert some, but then again, I may not. Buy these with confidence and enjoy!