Tag Archives: Flames of War

Experiments with modulation

As a couple, we’re a bit like the Queen. We have 2 anniversaries.  1 to celebrate when we first met, the other for when we got married.  Anyway, it’s as good an excuse as any to buy presents for each other.  All my washing-up is obviously paying off as Mrs. ModelDads was kind enough to buy me a copy of the excellent (if outrageously expensive) FAQ2 by Mig Jimenz:

I can’t recommend this book highly enough (check out a review here).  This is the reference book par excellence for painting AFVs.  Suitably inspired by the chapter on Modulation and, it must be said, Ruben’s useful video explaining about how to apply this technique to 15mm scale models, I thought it would be shame not to dust off the old airbrush and have a go on those BA-64s I pinned last week.

Put simply, the modulation technique seeks to enhance a model by applying gradations of colour to give it more depth. This is particularly useful when painting vehicles that were finished in a uniform colour.  Like Soviet armour.  So off I went, spraying on a base coat of Vallejo Model Russian Green (71017).  In to this mix of paint and thinner I added, as recommended, a few drops of Gloss varnish to produce a Satin effect in anticpation of the later pin-wash.

Retaining some of the original mix in a sealable jar, I added a few drops of Cam. Light Green (71006).  Masking off the lower portion of the chasis with a Post-It note, I sprayed a (variably) lightish coat on the uppper chassis.  The same principle was applied to the turret where I masked off the area around the gun with blu-tac (God bless office stationary!):

Whilst my airbrushing is still very hamfisted, I really liked the dusting of lighter colour on the upper panels.  Now, Mig recommends that you go a shade lighter than you’re comfortable with because subsequent weathering will tone down the finished result.  It was also about this time that I realised I should have cut a mask for the wheel arches to ensure that the upper surfaces could be painted without over-spraying on to the darker lower panels.  I addedd a few drops of White (71001) to the remanants of my original mix and sprayed this as lightly as I could on the upper surfaces.  I used the the same masks as before with an additional one over the front mantlet either side of the main viewing port.  Now, I must confess that the Tescos delivery man arrived at this point with the weekly shop, so I felt under pressure to quickly finished the job and help in the packing away.  This is how it turned out:

It’s a little lighter than I’m used to, but I like the gradual transiiton from light to dark, top to bottom.  To blend the colours together further, I applied 2 coats of MiG brown filter for dark green vehicles with another coat of gloss varnish.  Things were starting to shape up:Whilst the contrast is quite sharp on the front-mantlet, I really like the way the green varies in tone.  And it was all quite easy to do without much experience.  The only tiresome aspect was cleaning my airbrush over and over again…

They say pride comes before a fall.  Just after taking these photos the cat came in followed by the dog.  In the ensuing hullabaloo the cat vertically lifted 4 feet in the air to land directly on my work-surface scattering me and my scout cars to the 4-corners of the conservatory:

As the dust settled, the extent of the damage became clear.  Whilst my paint-jobs had survived more of less intact, I was missing 3 wheels.  I’ll leave you with this final shot of the standard of modulation achieved whilst I rummage around on the floor to look for them… :(

Adventures with the Vice Squad Part 2

I hadn’t realised my pin-vice was double-doubled-ended.  I’d always wondered why the drill-bit kept falling out.  I’d previously put it down to shoddy-tools and not the workman, but now I’m not so sure :).   I only discovered this by chance the other week.  Out of curiosity I unscrewed the swivel head that fitted in the base of my palm and out popped a second double-ended collet (the vice part).  This one fitted the finer drill bits I bought earlier in the year. Doh!  Perhaps work could now commence…

So, I started the first project with reference to 2 photos in my copy of Wyndawnictwo Militaria’s BA-64 I’d picked up in Krakow a couple of weeks back:

Note the civilian rider on the rear-tyre in Prague 1945 and the infantryman perched on the chasis of the BA-64 photographed in Pomerania during the same year.  I wanted to create something like this – infantry hitching a ride – on at least 1 of my BA-64s to jazz them up abit.

I started with a primed Battlefront resin chassis and some SU748 Razvedki Crews.  After a few trial fits I decided to work on the rear-wheel rider first:

To get the figure to sit comfortably I had to file the upper surface of the wheel flat and then cut a groove with square-headed file across the bottom of the seated figure I’d selected:

Once assurred of a reasonably snug fit I took a deep breath and drilled a hole in the top of the rear tyre:

With the hole in place, I did the same to the figure (ouch!), dripped in some superglue and and inserted a piece of copper wire left over from the spent shell-casings project:

Once set, I cut the wire to length and voila:

Encouraged, I replicated the same procedure with another figure, this time on the front of the chassis: 

This comrade needed a little gentle manipulation with a set of needle-pliers I found in my tool-box to straighten his head and put his foot in a more natural position:

Job done!  It really wasn’t that difficult.  The resin and metal drill very easily.  I thought I’d experience problems aligning the joints, but this is easily overcome with a little careful planning.

I’ve a niggling feeling the finished piece looks a little crowded and that 1 figure might suffice?  Any one have any views?

James’ Resins: bunkers on the cheap

Aaron sent us some of his new resin bunkers to have a look at.  Ironically and ultimately inspired by Harvey’s bunkers piece (if you fancy making them yourself), you can get 4 for £5 – now if that isn’t a bargainio I don’t know what is…

Cast in jesomite resin they have a little brass rod for the machine gun.  Very clean and sturdy, ready to paint.

This is how they arrive:

And with a bit of time and talent, this is how they can look:

Go check ‘em out by clicking here.

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.