Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sdkfz 222 Armoured Car

Another repaint of old AFV I've had in my collection for a few years, this time the ubiquitous Sdkfz. 222 light reconnaissance vehicle. I had initially painted this up in Panzer Grey with a whitewash, but I never really liked the oil pastel whitewash technique I did and the mid-war German force I had planned never materialized, so I decided to re-do it in Dunkelgelb.

Like the Jagdpanzer, I used hairspray chipping method that was very well demonstrated by a vlogger called Panzermeister36 on Youtube. I primed everything in Red Oxide primer, hit it with hairspray, and then airbrushed it in a 50/50 mix of Tamiya Dark Yellow and Yellow Green. I then went back and (using a toothbrush and bamboo stick) chipped, flaked, and scratched to reveal the primer underneath. I debated on whether or not to do soft-edge camouflage on this vehicle but, since the overwhelming majority of my German AFVs have it, I wanted to do something different and go with a single-color to make it stand out. Rubber wheels were done in Pavement, tools are in Vallejo Medium Brown. Any steel items are done in Vallejo German Grey highlighted with Vallejo Oily Steel. The spare wheel cover was done in Vallejo Brown Leather, highlighted with a 50/50 mix of Brown Leather and Territorial Biege. The commander is basecoated in Vallejo Dark Grey, highlighted in German Grey, with a final highlight in 50/50 German Grey and Light Grey; with waffenfaube in Vallejo Pink.



Decals are by Warlord. Weathering was done with oils (again special thanks to Panzermeister36, who pointed out that my cheap oils need to sit on cardboard for several hours before painting to eliminate all the excess linseed oil in the paint) and dry pigments.




I brought this AFV to the last Operation Sting tournament and it did really well for under 100pts, driving off more than a few air strikes with its Flak gun and harassing the flanks of my opponents. I'm glad I decided to give it a facelift and get it off the shelf where it had been collecting dust for a few years.


Monday, November 26, 2018

Jagdpanzer IV L/70 Alkett Conversion


One of the variants of the Panzer IV chassis was the tank destroyer version known as the Jagdpanzer. Initially armed with a short-barreled L/48 7.5cm gun, it was decided in 1944 that it should be up-armed with the long barreled L/70 7.5cm gun whose increased muzzle velocity was believed would be a more effective anti-armor weapon. However, production and refits could not keep up with demand and it was decided that an interim solution was needed - this would be the Alkett version. Alkett was the manufacturer of the venerable StuG and production of this version would be produced in their factories through the simple expedient of welding a large casemate structure unto the Panzer IV chassis. This resulted in an odd, high silhouetted tank hunter that was ungainly and (likely) not very successful in the field, with under 300 produced. Unfortunately, no one makes this version in 1/56, so I set out to convert it myself.

Like the real counterpart, this is based on a Warlord Panzer IV chassis. I cut the turret ring and low casemate off and added plasticard sheets to for the casemate. This was the most difficult part - reference material is scarce, so I had to cut the pieces multiple times to get the right height and angles. Even now, it's ever so slightly too tall but I'm OK with it. Then I added the netting hooks, armored visors, hatches, barrel clamp, and aiming periscope using plasticard shapes. The gun mantlet and barrel shroud was taken from spares of the Rubicon Hetzer kit and the barrel itself is brass rod. The tank commander is from JTFM.

I had actually primed and painted this several months ago and never liked the scheme, so I went back, stripped it down, & re-primed it. I decided to use a hairspray chipping method that was very well demonstrated by a vlogger called Panzermeister36 on Youtube. I primed everything in Red Oxide primer, hit it with hairspray, and then airbrushed it in a 50/50 mix of Tamiya Dark Yellow and Yellow Green with soft-edge camo done in Tamiya Flat Green. I then went back and (using a toothbrush and bamboo stick) chipped, flaked, and scratched to reveal the primer underneath. Rubber roadwheels were done in Pavement, tools are in Vallejo Medium Brown. Any steel items are done in Vallejo German Grey highlighted with Vallejo Oily Steel. The commander is basecoated in Vallejo Dark Grey, highlighted in German Grey, with a final highlight in 50/50 German Grey and Light Grey; with waffenfaube in Vallejo Pink.

Decals are by Rubicon. Weathering was done with oils (again special thanks to Panzermeister36, who pointed out that my cheap oils need to sit on cardboard for several hours before painting to eliminate all the excess linseed oil in the paint).






Thursday, November 22, 2018

Product Review: Bolt Action Waffen-SS Squad (Winter)



A relatively new release to the Bolt Action line, the Waffen-SS Squad (Winter) is a welcome addition to players new and old. As the title suggests, these are Waffen-SS troops outfitted for cold weather fighting. As the war dragged on and Germany's logistical support structure was stretched to its limit, many regular German troops found themselves lacking essential supplies, among these were cold weather gear for both men and machines. Operating outside the normal military structure of Germany, the Waffen SS enjoyed a favored status among Nazi party officials and were often supplied with weapons and equipment not available to the Wehrmacht or other military branches. In addition to the revolutionary StG44 assault rifle, this unique gear included the SS parka - something not seen much in 28mm.

Now, here's where it gets a little confusing - the SS parka was issued three different times in three different versions. The first (issued in the winter of 42/43) had a fur-lined interior and a green-grey exterior. This version is known as the "Kharkov" pattern, since most of the troops fighting in the Third Battle of Kharkov wore it. The second (issued in the winter of 43/44) was reversible, having a white interior and a green-grey exterior. The third and final (issued in the autumn of 1944, just before the Ardennes Offensive) was also reversible, having a white interior and a camouflage exterior. As with most SS camouflage, these were (as far as I can tell) issued in every pattern, though logic would dictate autumnal patterns like the brown versions of Plane Tree and Oak Leaf would be most prevalent. The last two versions had interiors lined with Reizwolle, a recycled felt-like material made from wool, cotton, and rayon.



As you can see from the box art and the miniatures themselves, the wool-like texture of the parkas  is replicated. While I believe the sculptor's intent was to replicate the Reizwolle of the two later versions, at 28mm these could easily pass for the earlier fur-lined Kharkov pattern. By leaving out the StG44-armed figures and mixing them with some troops in greatcoats, this set could be used to bulk out Mid-War forces as well. While two of the figures have integral heads, Warlord's "Separate Head System" allows some uniqueness to the other 8, which have the choice of 10 different heads.

The squad includes the following:
  • NCO with StG44 assault rifles
  • 2-man MG42 LMG team
  • 1 man with StG44 assault rifle
  • 2 men with StG44 assault rifles & panzerfaust
  • 2 men with Kar98 rifles
  • 2 men with Kar98 rifles & panzerfausts
As of BA ver. 2, this squad would cost 190pts or 220pts, if the Fanatics option is taken. Personally, I think Fanatics is good, as not having to take a morale check upon losing 50% of the squad can be helpful, especially in games that requite objective holding in the late game. This squad could portray any force on the Eastern Front, in Hungary, and especially one during the Battle of the Bulge.

All in all, I really enjoyed this set. It's visually interesting and well-equipped and would make a great addition to any Late War German force. I hope Warlord finds this set profitable and expands this to encompass specialist weapons and gun crews.

Pros:
  • A unique set for Late War German forces
  • Well replicated Waffen SS parkas
  • Scaled perfectly with Warlord's other figures
  • 2 extra heads
Cons:

  • Some heads appear slightly underscale
  • Oddly, one crouching figure had mold slippage in between his legs, resulting in my having to file away large portions of detail but, due to its placement, really isn't noticeable

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Fast & Furious: Post-Apocalypse Edition Commission


This was a commission piece I just finished for use with the Gaslands rules. The client supplied me with a nice variety of Fast and Furious cars, two Matchbox buggies, and some Ramshackle motorcycles and asked me to do some conversion work, while finishing them off in a very simple Black, Steel, and Rust paint scheme for everything. The Fast and Furious vehicles are rather interesting in that they're a fair bit larger than Hot Wheels' and Matchbox nominally 1/64 scale, being about 1/60 scale, making the motorcycles look a little small (being are 20-18mm or 1/72 scale) but also making the buggies (both in 1/64) look correct. It's a trade-off that does work in this context. 


While the car exteriors were easy enough to paint, the crew and the motorcycles took the longest time, since the Ramshackle figures have a surprising amount of detail. Some are holding personal sidearms, some have utility pouches and backpacks, some have armor plating....the stylistic post-apocalyptic fashions are all here.

All in all, this was a quick little project that took about a week to complete and the results look good. Let's ride!









Thursday, November 8, 2018

El Alamein Table

Full disclosure - I had no real interest in starting a North Africa table and had actually just sold my 15mm NA table a couple of months ago. I don't even own any desert armies, in either 28 or 15mm! But, things just came together and here I am with a North Africa table for local Bolt Action events. This is a strong departure from my normally dense tables, as I really wanted to emphasize the almost featureless expanse of the desert surrounding the Alamein train station itself.




I had actually started work on the dunes earlier this summer with the intent of using them for Gaslands, in sort of a post-apocalyptic Wastelands table. They're spare off-cuts of pink foamboard from previous projects that were cut to shape, sanded, and then textured. I wanted to get a "flowing" feel to each dune, with a gently sloped windward side and and steeply sloped leeward side to provide a more "natural" feel to the table itself. While it's hard to tell from the pictures, the dunes do provide some measure of cover and the higher dunes block LOS for most infantry and troops on the "ground".

The first piece of terrain that helped push me towards a 28mm desert table was Warlord's Desert Table scenery box I won at a tournament early this year. Overall, the set itself is useful, if rather uninspired for the advanced modeler. The star of that set are these excellent resin ruined wall pieces. I really enjoy the look of them and, being separate pieces, they enjoy a good amount of flexibility in arrangement. Here I've made them into a small walled enclosure or heavily ruined building site.


Years ago, I had made two very large rocky hills for Flames of War. I was never really satisfied with how they turned out (or how big they were), so they never saw much use. One was eventually damaged in a move but the other living on in a dusty box. I hate to see terrain sit unused - I would rather sell old terrain and let someone else enjoy it, than have it be neglected in my own extensive terrain collection. So I repurposed this piece to serve as a representation of the high ground to the south of the station, giving it a thorough repaint, and some new flocking. I used a lot of different spray paints and drybrushing to build up a depth of color.


Last, but really the entire reason this became the El Alamein battlefield was finding an amazing deal on Sarissa's El Alamein Station kit. I love Sarissa's kits (the majority of my Seelowe/Channel Islands table are Sarissa's "Europe At War" building line) and this was no exception. The rail line is about 5' long but VERY delicate (so be sure to take extra care when painting the trestles before gluing on the rails, one of my pieces snapped off about 2" from the end). The train cars are great and, when I have a little more in the hobby budget, I'd like to add one of their steam engines as well.

I'd be remiss to not mention the station itself. I'll be honest - on the dry fit build, I was a little disappointed by how plain it all was. However, I assembled the entire station and used some of the spare cardboard sheets to "bulk out" the bottom portion of the exterior walls. This added a nice transition and sense of depth that the kit lacks. I then filled in the joints with spackle and gave the entire structure three coats (!) of gesso, giving it a textured and durable finish. I again used a lot of different spray paints and drybrushing to give it a depth of color quickly. To finish it off, I painted on the English and Arabic signs, added a few of the always helpful pickle barrels, and glued on some British propaganda posters in the vestibule. From pictures, the station at the time appears almost brand new, likely due to the dry climate, so I avoided a lot of weathering besides some drybrush streaking on the roof.



To finish off, I added some leftover crate stacks from my Necromunda Freight Hub table and bought a cheap Twin flat sheet at Walmart for $6 that I spraypainted....to give it a depth of color.

A lot of players will probably disregard this table as being plain but, that was always the intention. The El Alamein battlefield itself is, for the most part, scrubby featureless desert so there is a toss-up decision for the gamer to either go completely historically accurate (and likely end up a death trap for gamers) or anachronistic (and likely end up not resembling the area at all). I feel like this table sits somewhere in the middle - it combines features that are largely miles apart in actual groundscale to ensure a balanced play, while also staying true to the "spirit" of the battle itself.