Tag Archives: Flames of War

Calvary: flavour piece #2

Calvary, a sculpture representing the crucifixion of Jesus, are a recurrent feature of the French landscape.  During the fighting in Normandy they are occassionally mentioned, but much less photographed.  During the assault on the Merville Battery, A Company of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion protected the attacking 9th Battalion’s left flank by holding an area 700 yards south of a Calvary Cross.

With this in mind, it would clearly be remiss of me not to have such a cross somewhere on my table now wouldn’t it? ;)

Unfortunately, these things are hard to find at 15mm (or any other scale I guess!).  Fortunately, Langley Models produce an excellent N Gauge Church Notice Board and Crucifix which, with a little jiggery-pokery, can easily be adapted to fit the bill:

With the roof removed, you have a typical Calvary from northern France:

A quick-base coat in black and successively lighter coats of German Camouflage Black Brown, Chocolate Brown, German Camouflage Medium Brown and, finally, Panzer Aces Old Wood does for the cross.  Jesus is a little less easy, but with a reasonably steady hand and a fine brush doesn’t come off too bad for a bloke nailed to a cross:

Mounted on a penny in a blob of milliput and covered in Tamiya Soil Effect textured paint (my favourite scenic staple at present) sees a second ‘flavour piece’ for our Normandy table done.

Parachute Infantry LMG platoon

Parachute Infantry LMG platoon

The rainy Bank Holiday weekend has provided me with an opportuntity to finish off another piece of WIP, a parachute infantry LMG platoon.  I’ve got to hand it to Battlefront, the sculpts are top-notch:

Not that it’s particularly noticeable in these photos, but I’ve been applying some additional highlights to the face and easing off on the dip on the helmets.  This has helped tease out a little more of the detail through enhanced contrast.

Loved painting the M3A4 handcart.  My bible for painting this – and parachute infantry in general – has been the Histoire and Collections oustanding D-DAY Paratroopers: The Americans:

Choc-a-bloc full of Normandy airborne goodness covering every aspect of weapons, equipment, insignia and decorations.  Fantastic for getting all the colours right (including that waterproof gas mask bag (Bag M7) strapped to the leg which has mystified me for ages.

Basing continues to be inspired by Evan’s paratrooper bases with me copying his clever idea for piles of empty.30 cal shell casings using brass rod.  I’ve gone abit bonkers on this mainly, I guess, after watching this video of piles and piles of spent ammo:

Liking experimenting with different coloured two-tone tufts, they just seem so hard to find nowadays (why is Antenoceti’s Workshop always out of stock? :) ).

As someone once said, too much time… :)

Rusty the tractor: a 101st Airborne Objective Marker

Well, I finally finished Rusty the tractor for my first Flames of War scratch built objective-marker.  This one is dedicated to the 101st Airborne Division.  Here he sits abandoned in the corner of a small garden plot while a nearby Pathfinder anxiously wonders if his Eureaka beacon is really switched on:

 

Hedge was made of milliput and topped with Woodland Scenics clump.  What Chris calls the ‘cabbage patch’ :) was sculpted out of a thick layer of Vallejo Dark Earth pumice topped with Tamiya Soil Effect textured paint.  A range of flocks, static grass and tufts finish it all off.  I’m currently liking the Army Painter / Mininatur Meadow Grass flowers.  The old cartwheel is PeterPig and the logs some plastic stuff I’ve had lurking in my bitzbox since time immemorial.

Really enjoyed making this one.  Fantastic para sculpt, lovely Langley Models’ N Gauge 1940s tractor and all to easy to get OCD about the scenics.

15mm gravestones

So, after folks advice, I’ve chosen to base my gravestones on standard medium and small bases with a little bit of modelling to depict a few ‘monuments’.  I figure this gives me the benefit of stand alone pieces that can also provide cover as area terrain.

I’ve purchased 2 sets of gravestones: The first is Langley Models (A36) N Scale Graves and Tombstones.  These are well detailed and finely cast model gravestones from the 17th-20th Centuries:

To this, I’ve added some Peter Pig 15mm gravestones.  By contrast, these are thick and rudely cast comedy gravestones (one even has RIP Big Gun scratched on it!) :)

Using double-sided tape, I’ve mocked up some HO Scale railings I bought years ago in Holland, but have neglected to erect the Langley stones (you’ve got to love those small footstones – how long is a 15mm corpse?):

The termporary grave markers in the bottom left corner will be modelled to represent the scene below:

Will glue and paint over the next couple of days.

A day in the life of Lt. Rzhevsky: a quick-sharp v3 AAR

THE KITCHEN, MARCH 2012

We thought I’d try a quick After Action Report (AAR) following our first version 3 game on Saturday night.  We thought it would be fun to look at a game from the perspective of a platoon commander.  For ease, we ran armour lists at 1,750 points and chose 1 of the new scenarios, Dust Up. 

I fielded a LW Guards Tank Battalion of 3 platoons from Red Bear:

  • Company HQ (T34/85)
  • 1st platoon (5 x T34/76 with cupolas / 5 x T34/85s)
  • 2nd platoon (5 x T34/85)
  • 3rd platoon (5 x SU-100s)
  • Priority Air Support (IL-2M Tip 3 Sturmis)

I was up against a bunch of Huns, some Tank Battalion from Grey Wolf :)

  • Company HQ (2 x PIV)
  • 1st Platoon (3 x PVs)
  • 2nd Platoon (3 x PIVs)
  • 3rd Platoon (4 x JagdPIVs)
  • 4th Platoon (3 Quad AAs)
  • 5th Platoon (2 x StuGIIIs)

Rolling 1 meant I was the defender (nice), but Chris got to pick the corner to deploy from.  The objectives go down and we roll again.  A 2 meant I go last (let’s hope that’s all my 1s and 2s gone for the game!).

HUNGARY, MARCH 1944.

Lt. Aleksandrov Rzhevsky doesn’t have far to travel to work in the morning.  He and his 3 crewmates sleep in fox-holes and shell-scrapes beneath the hull of Olina, their new SU-100 straight off the product line at Uralmash.  That’s probably just as well since before dawn this morning his platoon has been moving up to the now deserted village of Kishuta to cover the flank of an attack towards the River Tisza, the next objective on the road to Budapest.

Settling in to position, the crews work to camouflage their guns whilst Rzhevsky reviews his deployment.  Georgy and Andrey lie concealed in a wheat field covering the open western approach to the village.  Petr is tucked in behind some trees covering the fields to the northwest whilst Yakov watches the road in to town to the north. 

Aleksandrov is nervous.  Olina is a feisty girl and can pack a mean punch when she wants to and can certainly live up to her reputation “Pizdets vsemu” (“Fuck up everything”). But she’s a big girl and none too light on her feet if Fritz wants to waltz around both sides of the village.  With this in mind he positions himself in reserve, able to duck north or west wherever a friendly face is needed.

As dawn breaks, the Company commander’s T34 rattles its way over to his position.  Sat on the engine covers are some grizzled razvedchiki and a sullen German sporting a black-eye,

Morning Comrade!’  Major Turchin shouts, grinning all the while, “Our guests are on their way!”

In a coughing cloud of diesel smoke Turchin disappears over the low rise to the rear of Rzhevsky’s position.  The Old Man is going in to ‘Reserve’.

The scene is set.  The orchestra starts to play as the first enemy tanks appear silhouetted against the rising sun.

With 3 platoons, I opted to keep the tanks in reserve and deploy the SU-100s in an L-shaped blocking position in the village itself. I figured I’d play defensive and use airpower to scatter, pin and, hopefully, weaken the Germans before the T34s arrived:

TURN 1

The scream of Mikulin AM-38 engines, a reverberating boom and 3 plumes of oily smoke were the first Lt. Rzhevsky knew of the Priority Air Support allocated to this position.  The Hitlerites must have advanced beyond the cover of their AA assets and were now providing easy targets out in the open.

Rolling lucky, I get 3 Sturmis on and elect to bomb the Panthers out in the open.  Automatically Ranging In (got to love version 3!) I get to re-roll 2/3 initial misses. All the Panthers are hit, fail their armour save and are destroyed. Someones had their wheatabix this morning…

TURN 2

The excited radio chatter confirming the kill of 3 Panthers is abruptly cut short by Georgy’s report of enemy armour in the tree line, range 1,200m.

German movement turn 2

The crack of high velocity rounds passing wide of their position stir the crews into action.  From experience,  Rzhevsky waves the 2 SU-100s back knowing that at this range and with targets in cover it would take a lucky man to hit the veteran German tankers.  Georgy and Andrey move out of the enemy’s line of sight and tuck in on the edge of field. 

2 IL-2s roar over Rzhevsky’s position and dive on a target northwest of the village with devastating effect.  The trails left by their rockets disappear over the roof tops only to be replaced moments later by billowing clouds of black smoke:   

I pull back the SU-100s after realising that I need a 6 (target is Vets4+, +1 Long Range, + 1 Concealed) with a ROF1 to cause any damage.  To remain could result in losses next turn but, foolishly, I move without consideration of the possibility of German reserves in Turn 2.

The Sturmis are going to work on the rest of the P4s.  I’m hoping to break these small platoons by forcing them to take a morale check!

TURN 3

No sooner had Georgy’s SU-100 rocked to a halt then it disappeared in deafening explosion of heat and light.

Instinctively, Rzhevsky drops into the fighting compartment and kicks his driver,

Rotate, rotate!  That fire is coming from the other side of the village!’

None too gracefully, Olina turns to face her new opponents. Over the radio net, Rzhevsky hears the Major scremaing blue murder at his gunner as 2 shots go wide.

“So much for the reserves” mutters the Lieutenant.

Taking full advantage of the 16″ table-edge deployment area, Chris races his JP4s around the eastern edge of the village and engages the SU-100s down the road and across the fields.  Despite a ROF1, Chris rolls 2 hits and we allocate in accordance with the rules, somthing we haven’t adhered to as closely as we might have done in the past (v.3 makes this easy to understand).  With hits being allocated to the weakest armour first, 2 of my SU-100s go up in smoke hit in the rear.  If only I’d remained in the field I would have at least counted as Concealed!

With unsuccessful rolls for reinforcements, air attack and retaliatory fire (try hitting concealed Veterans whilst moving/turning with a ROF of 1!) I’m thinking that my luck may have turned.

TURN 4

By the time Olina turns, Rzhevsky is just in time to see the hatches on the Major’s T34 thrown open and the crew bail.

Heavily engaged, Olina’s crew are oblivious to the ensuing Soviet counterattack as 10 T34s charge in from reserve and double-time it down the enemy’s flank and on to their unprotected objective!

Things are looking up.  Now Stationary, the SU-100s strike back and 3 dice at 5+ results in one hit.  Once hit, he ain’t getting up - Pizdets vsemu!

Turn 5

As quickly as the action began, it had seemingly ended.  Rzhevsky’s gunner lost sight of his target in the tall wheat field; but that didn’t mean he wasn’t there.  As each long minute passed 1after the other without movement or gun fire Alekshandrov concluded that something must have changed…

Realising that he couldn’t push his Jagdpanzers on to the Soviet objective or knock the mass of T34s of his own objective, Chris concedes and resigns his men to a long-train journey to Siberia.

Pobieda!

LESSONS LEARNT

It’s never over until it’s over, that’s what I like about Flames of War.  Our first v.3 game went smoothly and I’ve got to admit the new rulebook with it’s improved index and clear illustrations certainly help clarify the rules.

Aircraft’s ability to range in automatically makes them deadly and I like the fact that this will compel players to seek cover or purchase dedicated AA asserts.  Clarifications over different types of scenery, like Rough going for Hillls, slows the Germans down (abit), particularly when your opponent forgets to use his Stormtrooper move :)

SU100s, whilst deadly, are very slow and experience real difficulties hitting German armour even when in stationary overwatch (is this really historically accurate?)  I can’t help wondering if I’m better off reducing or dropping them from this list in favour of more T34s.  It would limit the amount of Big Cat Killers I can field, but perhaps airpower can address that.

The combination of T34/76 and T34/85 gives a good range of punch and mobility as well as the ability to soak up hits whilst you maneuver.

Good game.

Painting minefields

Painting minefields

Aaron has worked like the proverbial Trojan to bring you another splendid step-by-step photographic tutorial, this time painting up his resin minefields.

How to paint and enhance James’ Resins Minefields for a European / Eastern Front battlefield.

My aim in this second tutorial is to give you an idea of how you can paint my range of resin minefields, but the principles are valid for most scenic bases and other comparable products.  All the paints I have used in this article are from theVallejo range.

Preparation

There is very little you need to do to prepapre the model as it comes ready to paint. You may want to re-model parts of it to make it unique to your battlefield and include ammunition boxes, oil drums and destroyed vehicles, etc [Justin: Zvezda plastic models are cheap and great for this purpose].

Painting the base

I like to basecoat all of my models white instead of the more common practice of spraying them black. I do this because I think it makes the colours stand out better. I recommend spraying the basecoat on the model as apposed to painting it on as you get a more even finish. I basecoat the whole model with an airbrush using ‘White Primer 74600’.

Next, I airbrush the whole base with Model Air ‘Khaki Brown 024’. The is no reason you could not brush paint it on, I just find it’s quicker and leaves a better finished surface when painting in large batches.

When the brown mud layer is dry I like to dry brush the whole base with ‘German Camo Beige 821’ and then dry brush the rocks/stones/gravel/craters with ‘Ivory 918’.

The first colour for the mines is done in ‘Russian Green 894’ and then dry brush/highlight in ‘German Camo Bright Green 833’.  Although dark green mines may not appear to be perfectly camouflaged or historically accurate, they do stand out very well against the brown base and enhance the over all look of the final piece.

For the brass rod pickets, I paint in ‘Gunmetal Grey 863’ and over the top of this a coat of Model Air ‘Metallic Rust 069’. When finished, this gives a nice appearance and makes it look like the pickets have been in place for some time.

First coat of varnish

Now the model has had its coat of paint, I give it a good coverage with an old brush of Army Painter ‘Strong Tone varnish’, pickets and all. Not only does this give it a protective covering, but the pigment in the varnish settles into all the nooks and crannys and provides excellent shading. Just watch out for the varnish pooling. The second downside to this stage is that it can take up to 24hrs to dry and leaves the model with a very shiny gloss finish.

Grassing the base

Now the varnish is dry you can flock the base. This is also a good opportunity to cover over any painting errors or dark pooling of the varnish. I paint all the areas of the model I want to cover with static grass with PVA white glue, leaving the odd area of the mud and all of the craters untouched. I then stick on random clumps of grass tufts ‘Miniatur 727-31’.

Using a puffer bottle, I apply a thick layer of ‘Jarvis Static Grass Spring mix JHG1’. When happy, I leave it to dry, normally over night just to be on the safe side.

After it’s dry, I use a 2inch house painting brush to dust off the excess static grass and it’s ready for the barbed wire. From personal experience, make sure that you have a tray (or something similar) under the model for everything involving static grass.  You can easily collect the excess for re-use and it stops the dog from sneezing when its sniffing the living room carpet!!

Barbed wire

I generally buy the barbed wire from various E-bay sellers as and when I need it. For Minefields, I cut a length of about 57cm and airbrush it in ‘Model Air Metallic Rust 069’ to match the pickets.

When dry, I wrap one end of the barbed wire around a picket and keeping the wire tight, loop it around the next picket and so on until finished.

For a finishing touch, I like to take a small file and run it along the top of the barbed wire to take the rust paint off the top. I find this gives a nice semi-rusted feel to the piece and gives it more character.

Final varnish

For the final varnish,  I like to use my airbrush and give the whole model a couple of coats of ‘Matt Varnish 520’. From bitter experience, if you ‘over spray’ with spray can varnish it can leave the model with a ‘frosted/whitened’ look.  Vallejo varnish is much more forgiving. After the varnish has dried, normally 30-60 mins, the model is finished.

Mine markers

I like to use the mine markers from the FOW website on my models, just to make them stand out more. Simply print them off, cut them out and apply them to the barbed wire with one of them solid glue sticks that kids use (Prit-stick etc.).

Finished piece

Now your piece is fully finished and just waiting for some daft tanks or soldiers to try and cross them!!

Thanks Aaron, another useful guide.  Look forward to you showing us how to achieve realistic barbed wire effects in your last tutorial.

Painting bocage

A couple of weeks ago we reviewed James’ Resins range of bocage.  Well, Aaron has kindly written a clear and concise tutorial to take you through the painting process step-by-step.  Enjoy  :)

How to paint and enhance James’ Resins Bocage

My aim in this tutorial is to give you an idea of how you can paint your own bocage to suit your individual needs. Everything you read below is just my personal opinion/choice on how I achieve a finished product suitable for my FOW battlefields. All the paints I use in this article are Vallejo.

 Preparation

There is very little you need to do to prep the model as it comes ready to paint. However, you may want to model parts of it to make it unique to your battlefield, e.g. different tank tracks, breaches in the bocage etc. 

I personally like to adapt my bocage to have removable trees as this removes any transportation or storage issues. To achieve this, I drill a few 3.2mm holes about two thirds of the depth into the tops of my pieces using a pillar drill on a slow speed. If you drill on a slow speed, the Jesomite resin will suffer minimal, if any, damage. Make sure you don’t break through the bottom or the glue will flood out in the next step.

I then cut up several 2cm (approximate) lengths of 1/8inch wide hollow plastic tube (made by Evergreen Scale Models). 

Put some super glue into the previously drilled holes and insert a 2cm piece of the hollow plastic tubing. These will be used as trunks for the portable trees (see below).

Painting the base

I like to basecoat all of my models White instead of the more common practice of spraying them Black. I only do this because I think it makes the colours stand out better. I recommend spraying the basecoat on the model as apposed to painting it on as you get a more even surface to paint on. I basecoat the whole model with an airbrush (using ‘White Primer 74600’) instead of a spray can because:

  1. it’s cheaper in the long run, and
  2. it’s less ‘potent’ than the spray can propellant (I also find the wife complains less if our house doesn’t stink of spray can fumes!!)

Next I airbrush the stone walls with ‘Surface Primer Grey 74601’. There is no reason you couldn’t brush paint it on, I just find it’s quicker and leaves a better surface finish when painting in large batches.

When the grey layer is dry I like to dry brush the walled section with ‘Ivory 918’. I then paint all the mud with ‘US Field Drab 873’ (so it matches the rest of my army’s bases) & dry brush with ‘German Camo Beige 821’. The dry brushing really makes the tank tracks stand out.

I then pick out any of the wood/timber in the model (gate posts, broken gates and tree trunks) with ‘Beige Brown 875’ and a dry brush of‘German Camo Beige 821’. Make sure you don’t get too carried away with dry brushing the wood/timber or it will start to blend in too much with the bocage.

First coat of varnish

Now the model has had its coat of paint I use an old brush to give a good covering of Army Painter’s ‘Strong Tone’ varnish. Not only does this give it a protective covering, but the pigment in the varnish settles into all the nooks and crannys.  This gives a really good depth of shading, especially in the hollows of the walls and the tank tracks. Just watch out for the varnish pooling from being too liberal with the paint brush. The only down sides to this step is it can take up to 24hrs to dry and leaves the model with a very shiny gloss finish.

Grassing the base

Now the varnish is dry you can flock the base. This is also a good opportunity to cover over any painting errors or dark pooling of the varnish. I paint all the areas of the model I want to cover with static grass with PVA white glue, leaving the odd area of the mud untouched.

Using a puffer bottle, I apply a thick layer of Jarvis’ Static Grass Spring mix JHG1’ over the glued area. When I’m happy, I leave it to dry over night just to be on the safe side. 

After it’s dry, I use a 2inch house painting brush to brush off any excess grass and it’s ready for the hedgerow on top. From personal experience, make sure that you have a tray (or something similar) under the model for anything involving static grass as you can easily collect the excess for re-use.  It also stops the wife moaning about having green patches of static grass appearing in the living room carpet!!

Hedgerow

Apply a good coating of ‘Hobby-tack/tac-e-glue/sticky bond’ to the top of the wall that you want to apply your hedgerow/foliage to making sure not to cover over the tree stumps. Wait for the glue to almost go see through as it’s at its most tacky then.

This glue is different to normal glue in that it always remains tacky. This is important as the more you play with the piece, the more of the hedgerow foliage comes off. With the tacky glue you can just re-attach it straight away and it will stick back in to place without a problem. 

For the hedgerow foliage I like to use Woodland Scenics’ ‘Clump Foliage’ in Dark Green (FC684), Medium Green (FC683) & Light Green (FC682) as this gives a really good range of different colours. Break it up into irregular shapes & sizes and push it on to the glue filling up the gaps with the various colours and sizes.

Trees

I generally buy pre-made trees from various sellers on E-bay. What I do is cut off the plastic base about 1cm from the bottom & drill in a 1.2mm hole up the centre of the tree. 

I then superglue in a 1.2mm thick piece of brass rod leaving about 1.5cm of brass rod hanging out of the bottom of the tree. File the end round to get rid of any jagged edges. Now you can pop it in the previously made (and painted) tree trunks on the top of the model. Remove the tree when happy.

Final varnish

For the final varnish, I like to use my airbrush and give the whole model a couple of coats of ‘Matt Varnish 520’. From bitter experience, if you ‘over spray’ with spray can varnish it can leave the model with a frosted/whitened look to it ruining the finished article.Vallejo varnish is much more forgiving if you get carried away and does not leave a nasty smell in its wake. After the varnish has dried, normally 30-60 mins, the model is finished.

Finished piece

Now your piece is fully finished and just waiting to be placed on the battlefield.  Get some brass rodded trees put in to it and watch the fun unfold as some daft tanks get bogged down trying to cross them or just sit your tank there in ambush and hit the enemy at close quarters!!

Excellent, very useful stuff, thanks Aaron. Glad to hear that I’m not the only one to receive disapproving looks from Her Indoors over errant clump, flock and grass!

Keep your eyes peel for subsequent tutorials on barbed wire entanglements and minefields.

Easier Airbrushing

As a keen painter with less than 2 years experience using my airbrush, I still consider myself an absolute noob when it comes to handling this expensive peice of kit.  I’m still searching for the definitive guide to using an airbrush at this scale (15mm) and don’t want to run the risk of ruining my minis by experimenting on them.  I read that practice makes perfect but, let’s be honest, that’s boring, boring, boring.  Add to this the seemingly inexhaustible technical problems you can experience and it just seems easier to leave the airbrush for basecoating and hesitant attempts at tri-colour camouflage :L.

That’s why I have to give the guys over at FineScale Modeler a big thumbs up for their Easier Air-brushing feature in this March’s edition (UK, Vol. 30, issues 3):

Contained within are 2 really useful pieces on airbrushing entitled Airbrush Maintenance and Problem Solving and Solving Painting Problems.  The latter illustrates 8 of the most common airbrushing mistakes and how to fix them:

As a victim of Spiders, Runs and Splattering I found this piece invaluable and it now secures a permanent place above my workbench for reference purposes.

These 2 articles are supported by a video illustrating how to clean your airbrush:

Cleaning your airbrush – FineScale Modeler Magazine.

Well worth the £3.50 cover price.