The past seven months have seen Lard Island frantic with some pseudo military modelling since we began playtesting Chain of Command. As well as getting to paint a whole raft of new armies I have been testing out all sorts of AFVs with our forces. Now, as we get to the final stages of playtesting we are introducing ever larger forces in order to try to push the boundaries and see how far the rules can go. As a result the current modelling projects are a whole platoons worth of SdKfz 251 for my Panzer Grenadier force and a Troop of Shermans for my British.
The backbone of my tank forces to date have been the now discontinued die-cast Corgi 1:50th vehicles. I know that 1:56th seems to be the accepted scale for 28mm WWII gamers, but the robustness of the Corgi tanks and the fact that most 28mm figures are actually 30mm, plus the addition of a base means that the figures tend to come in at around 32mm, making them 5’3” in height, not far off the 5’6” average of that time. Anyway, a slightly larger tank gives it a degree of gravitas when it appears on the table. So, Corgi it has been.
On the other hand, the lighter AFVs, such as Bren carriers and halftracks, in my collection have always been the Bolt Action 1:56th scale models, primarily because my old chum Simon Bargery who set up Bolt Action originally gave me a pile of them.
So, here we have the Panzer Grenadier transport. Three normal 250/1 troop carriers and the platoon leader’s vehicle with the anti-tank gun, the SdKfz 251/10.
Simon had found a pile of spares in his garage which he kindly sent along when he knew Chain of Command was coming along. Unfortunately there were no metal parts so I had some bits to make up from plasticard, such as the machine gun shield, and I blagged some machine guns off my old pal Richard Ansell who had some masters around from an old WWII project he had been involved in sculpting. The 37mm anti-tank gun is actually a 28mm Soviet AT gun produced by Plastic Soldier Company. Being plastic it is ideal for a conversion job. In the end I covered it with camo netting from Antenocitis Workshop and sprinkled some tea leaves on it to provide some foliage cover. It seemed appropriate for Normandy which is where most of my games are set.
I purchased some Tamiya 1:48th packs (as mentioned here before) which included general baggage. By far the best pack is the oil drums and jerry can set which has a good selection of general stowage. The German infantry pack has lots of bits and pieces which work nicely, such as headphones as well as more standard weapons, bags, helmets and water bottles. You can see plenty of these on the outside of the halftracks. I added straps made from Green Stuff to finish it off.
Once I got everything stuck together I under coated in black and then painted on Vellejo Middlestone as a base colour. This was then washed with black ink in the usual “magic wash” formula. Once that dried out I semi-dry brushed with Middlestone with about 15% white added. With that completed I air brushed on a blotchy camouflage pattern. The green was a mix of Reflective Green and German Dark Green, the brown a mix of Mahogany Sand and Chocolate Brown.
This weekend I intend to do all of the detailing. However the wife assures me I shall be needed in the garden. I suspect some compromise can be reached.
Next is the Troop of Shermans. Three of these are the Corgi 75mm gun versions. I got these on EBay for a decent price. The Free French ones tend to go for cheaper prices for some reason, and as I am going to paint them I don’t care much what markings they have. The fourth tank is the Firefly VC. This is a Tamiya kit in 1:48th. I saw it recommended on Angus Konstam’s site at http://www.edinburghwargames.com
It is a lovely model, fitting pretty much perfectly with the Corgi models, but what a palaver to put it together. Six hours of plastic glue and tiny parts is not my idea of fun. But it is done and it i really the only way to complete the troop. Again I finished the models off with the 1:48th scale clobber. The British Infantry pack from Tamiya has much less in the way of general bric-a-brac but it adds some extra colour and I sculpted some sandbags from Green Stuff.
These have just been undercoated in black ready for painting. I will show you how these progress over the weekend.
A pal of mine in the US is looking to paint some of his British Shermans this weekend and asked if I could show mine step by step. So I will.
Here’s the very simple first step. I have taken the black undercoated tank and painted it all over with Vallejo Russian Uniform. It’s a lovel colour for many things, Russian Uniforms not being one of them. Here I just slap this on with no real attention or care.
Next I let that dry and then apply the magic wash. This is an imprecise recipe, but I use about a tablespoon of Klear floor polish (the new murky looking stuff as opposed to the old clear stuff which we can’t get any more). I add a tiny dot of washing up liquid and then about a quarter of a pint of water. I actually don’t add the ink to this, rather I mix the ink, about two thirds black and one third brown and apply that to the top of the tank neat. I then use a large brush loaded with the wash mix to spread that over all of the AFV, adding more neat ink if I feel it isn’t finding the right low points. Again this is unscientific, just a Henry Cooper “Splash it all over” approach. Make sure you are wearing old clothes, this can really ruin shirts. Believe me, I know this to be true.
Now I shall let this dry. So, we shall have Update Two tomorrow.
Having let the ink dry overnight my next job is to dry-brush a slightly lightened base colour onto the tank. I use a large flat headed brush for this and keep the amount of paint on the brush to a near minimum. I then brush down vertically from the top in a downwards motion to catch any natural highlights. The exceptions here are the tank deck which I do in two halves, rather like the bones on a fish. working out from the “Spine” to the edges, and the running gear which I brush horizontally to catch the raised areas. This is not a great picture, in fact its bloody awful, but I hope you can see that it leaves the tank with a streaky finish, rather like a car which has been badly washed or that has got dirty and then rained on.
Next I take a large pointed brush with a decent point, but not too small. I am going to highlight all of the edges on the tank with the base colour plus more white paint. So this is all the rivets I can find, the edges or hatches, the edges of welded panels, basically anyting where there is a line I will paint along it. You can see the effect here on the Firefly.
This produces quite a dramatic effect, but fear not, it will tone down as we continue. The next phase is to use a watered down red ink to use as a base coat for areas of rust. I actually tone down the red ink a bit with some black as you don’t want it too bright. Remember a little is a lot with this; this is merely the undercoat. I focus on natural areas of moisture, such as the engine grill on the rear decking and areas where rust may occur, such as welding lines and rivets.
Next I dry brush this over to get some weathering. I( use a Vallejo Khaki first which I use chiefly around the running gear and lower body to intimate some dried mud, next I use Vallejo Stone Grey which I use from the top down to suggest dust. These two coats tone down the edge highlighting we did earlier. I neglected to take a photo of this, but the effect is actually so subtle that you’d probably not see it anyway.
Next we begin on the stowage. Here I use a Chocolate Brown as a base for most of the stuff on the tank. There are some exceptions. Jerry cans and tin helmets are the same colour as the tank so they are already complete (remember to do a bit of highlighting on these).
Once that is done I add the base colours for the stowage. Sandbags, kit bags and rolled up sheeting tends to get done in whatever neutral colours I have to hand. I base these on the colour of the kit use by the specific nation but I certainly don’t get too precise over this. Metal is painted in Steel, it’s a bit bright but then we are looking at a small object and lightening the colours gives me the visual effect I want.
Wood handles get painted in Vallejo Beige Brown and then highlighted in the same colour with white added. A few touches of highlight are quite enough. Have a good drink the night before then just hold the brush near the woodwork. Your trembling hand will do the rest!
Now this is done apply the same ink wash I mentioned earlier to all the stowage but NOT the spades, sledgehammers or other stuff which is on the deck. Once that is dry we can move on to Update Three.
Damn. The wife is back from shopping. There endeth my fun for the morning!
UPDATE THREE (AND FINAL!)
Hurrah, the wife had to go to the opticians!
Okay, now we have a dry ink wash we detail up in precisely the same way as we would with figures, adding highlights to our kit bags and stuff like strapping to rolled groundsheets and similar.
I highlight up the sandbags as well using several mixes of Khaki and Stone Grey to get the look I want.
Where we put the red/rust coloured ink on earlier I now add some Vallejo red leather in tiny streaks. If I want some paintwork damage I paint a dab of white and then inside that a smaller dab of gunmetal with a touch of black before a small dot of steel for exposed metal.
And that’s it. I replace the Corgi tracks (I take these off before I paint) and give a final dry brush of Khaki over these and the lower parts of the tanks. All I need to do now is decide on what unit these chaps are from so I can get the right decals from Dom’s Decals whose 1/56th range will be perfect. You can find Dom here: http://www.domsdecals.co.uk/.
As always with wargaming models I am inclined to over-emphasise things like highlights so that the finished model really stands out on the tabletop. There is no real skill involved in painting this sort of stuff, just a bit of patience and a few techniques which you pick up over the years.
UPDATE FOUR (I know, I lied!)
Just come snaps of the Panzergrenadier transport which I finished off this morning.
I really do enjoy the German late war camo schemes. All of my German armour is from 2 Panzer Division so it can fight against my Brits in Normandy and Skinner’s Yanks in the Bulge. All in all a productive weekend.
Well, waiting for the PVA wash took longer than I had hoped. It took two days to dry in the workshop, but at last we were at the point where we could prepare it for painting. I sprayed it black before going over the model with a brush to fill in any gaps, and with