Monday, 30 December 2013

Battlefronts Open Fire Plastic Stug G

I love the Stug, I'm just putting that out here now, as an armoured fighting vehicle it just looks cool, you can keep your fancy turret having Panzer mark 4`s, just give me the Stug! or to give it its proper title, the Sturmgesch├╝tz III , it was Germany's most produced armoured fighting vehicle of the war.  It is also a mainstay of many German (and occasional her allies) lists in Flames of War, used on both fronts.

 Included in part of the Open Fire starter set there are some plastic Stugs, and when some of these came my way I couldn't wait to put them together.  They  come like this on the sprue:

Thanks for the images, Battlefront! <3

Really easy to assemble, there was no cleanup and it went together so smoothly. There where options for extra bits of stowage and spare track which was a nice touch I liked. The detail is nice, and it takes the paint really well, here's a look at mine done quickly to tabletop standard and I'm no master painter but it has come out nicely.

Fun Stug Fact :  A rotating cupola with periscopes was added for the commander for Ausf G. However, from September 1943, lack of ball bearings (resulting from USAAF bombing of Schweinfurt) forced cupolas to be welded on. Ball bearings were once again installed from August 1944. Shot deflectors for cupolas were first installed from October 1943 from one factory, to be installed on all StuGs from February 1944. Some vehicles without shot deflectors carried several track pieces wired around the cupola for added protection. (C- This gives me a grand hobby idea...)

 I was rather pleased but after seeing the picture earlier of the mobile bush that the crew had turned their Stug into i thought why not give it a go, if it works for this chap it can work for me!

 Fun Stug Fact : 100 StuG III Ausf. G were delivered to Romania in the autumn of 1943. They were officially known as TAs (or TAs T3 to avoid confusion with TAs T4) in the army inventory. By February 1945, 13 units were still in use with the 2nd Armoured Regiment. None of this initial batch survived the end of the war.

 With the addition of some simple hobby bits in the form of some Landscape Scenics Lichen that my dearly beloved wife had picked up on some whim for me i turned it into this! Perfect for lurking in those Normandy hedgerows.

 Fun Stug Fact : StuG IIIs were also exported to other nations such as Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, and Spain.

 Fun Stug Fact : Many German Sturmgesch├╝tz IIIs were stranded in Yugoslavia after the war. These were used by the Yugoslav Peoples Army until the 1950s

 Fun Stug Fact : After the Second World War the Soviet Union donated some of their captured German vehicles to Syria, which continued to use them along with other war surplus AFVs (like long-barreled Panzer mark 4s and T34-85`s) during the 1950s and up until the War over Water against Israel in the mid-1960s. By the time of the Six Days War all of them had been either destroyed, stripped for spare parts, or interred on the Golan Heights as static pillboxes. (C- If I didn't know any better, Mart is just making all of this up. But he does know his history)

 Overall I love this kit, its simple to put together looks great paints well, is used in many lists (C- Not for the Finns! M- cough cough Sturmi.... as the Finns called them) and is nice and light in plastic form, good job Battlefront, I cant wait to get hold of an Open Fire set of my own if this is a sign of how good the plastics are!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Painting Finland's Fokker CX

Now that the Fokker is built, it's time to paint! Since Battlefront doesn't have a recommended painting guide, here's what I suspect will do the trick just nicely:

Main, upper: Russian Uniform (whatever goes on Russian tanks these days)
Lower: Medium Sea Grey with a touch of blue in it. 
Yellow: Basecoat with white, then go over with a medium toned yellow. 
Nose: Chocolate Brown.

Now, what fun would the hobby be if we stuck with one scheme? There isn't much on the camo used by the Ilmavoimat other than it's what we expect: a two-color scheme, lighter on bottom and a green on top. If you see a dark color on the main body with orange/yellow triangles on it, that was the scheme used when the plane was used as a tow for targets during training.

Yes, there's recommended reading:
Linky1: A variant here kinda like tiger stripes, or the desert camo on Grants.
Linky2: Man there's some ugly lookin' planes in there. Check out that Brewster Buffalo, ha!

I'll go with a standard scheme for this one.


Ok, I've put paint on the model! It's not done yet, because the dark camo lines need to be tidied up in a bad way, especially over the vertical stabilizer where the surface of the model is rippled.

I wanted to paint the plane in the same scheme as the real life FK-86, because damnit that's the kind of hobbyist I have become (the box comes with the FK-86 designation decals). AZ Models has a scheme for the FK-86, but it's not a combat photo. Adorably they have blotted out the center of the swastika. Some people. Eventually, I found an actual photo, purported to be from the summer of 1942. It's the best I have, and the tricolor pattern (Russian Uniform overall, a grey underneath, the yellow band, and black/dark green patterns over the tips of the wings) works well enough for me.

Now, again, this guy isn't done yet. I have plans for the base, which is to simulate a tree canopy as the Fokker was flown low to hide from the Luftwaffe. 

Obviously it would be much easier to paint the whole plane like Battlefront's. The model paints well; it is mostly resin, afterall. The detail is superb (if you get your own or see someone else's, take a good looksie at the rear MG gunner. Lovely detail). From an assembly point of view, this model was a challenge. From a painting point of view, it's lovely. I love planes as it is, and this one has extra cool for being a biplane that doesn't look ridiculous (I'm looking at you, I-153 Chaika). There is enough detail on the wings that you get the impression that this plane is fabric wrapped around a frame, and if you are really careful with your drybrushing, you can make those edges pop out. I drybrushed mine before painting.

All I have left is the rest of the decals, tidying up those dark green camo patches, and cleaning up the nose of this thing. 

Above: This is why I didn't have any time tonight to finish painting the Fokker in time to finish this post. There'll be another post when it's done!

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Zvezda KV-1's!

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Hell nor high water nor holiday is stopping us from posting regularly!

This is my first experience with Zvezda kits. Spoilers, I love them! Now, a bit more.

The Finns have the option to take two KV-1s in Mid and Late war. Pretty cool, because the KV-1 is a big bully. So, for under $4 a pop, shipped via Amazon, I got two to play with. Now, why two? If you're not hip to Grey Wolf, then you should know the Finnish captured two KV-1s. What happened to them? 

They're at the Finnish Tank Museum at Parola! This is cool. Here's some pictures from the Museum's website. There exist a few pictures of the KVs. The last two of these three pictures are from this site. It has some more in depth information on the KVs, if you're into that sort of thing (if you're reading my drivel, then you should be! Ha!).


So, we're looking at one in a standard Russian Green scheme, and one in a tri-color camo pattern. That tri-color pattern looks similar to the one on the Char B1 here. Neat! If you want paints to use, check out this Finnish painting guide article from Battlefront. It's not entirely helpful, so try this one instead! So, Stone Grey and Beige Brown. Nothing fancy. 

Righto, so here we go! This would be easy with my airbrush and my Model Air paint, but I'm watching sappy Christmas movies with my dear mother. So, by hand it'll be.

[One minute later] NOPE. This stuff doesn't brush on well at all. The coverage is pretty awful by hand. In the meantime, let me talk about the kit itself. 

Construction was easy and simple. I used no glue putting it together, and this kit isn't coming undone anytime soon. I'm impressed in that regard. However, the kit does feel cheap in that the tank is really light. Since the hull is made of two pieces, the solution is easy: shotgun pellets and PVA! Load that sucker up. Now these guys have some serious heft. This is a personal preference, mind.

Bloody hell, this movie is still going. Time for a hobby enhancer! Highland Brewing Company's Black Mocha Stout. Another North Carolina brew that I highly recommend if you ever wind up down this way. Exactly what it says on the tin. Time to get painting!

I've airbrushed the tanks with a basecoat of Russian Green after a heavy drybrush of white. The white is to help me see the detail on the tank, and to show you what sort of detail you get for a sub-$4 kit. Quite a bit! And to show you that I haven't used any glue, here's the tank taken apart (except for the turret, which refused to separate into its two pieces). 

Here's how much they weigh loaded with pellets! 1.5oz, or 42.52 grams.

If you are curious, like I was, as to how Russian Green, Russian Uniform, and Brown Violet differ from each other, check this out:
L-R: Russian Green, Brown Violet, Russian Uniform

Of course, as I'm already in with the camo pattern on one of the KVs, I found more pictures of the camo'd one at the Tank Museum. These pictures show folks restoring the tank, adding the camo pattern! I'm going to continue onwards with it, because the Finns did repaint captured tanks after a while. 

No transfers for their slanted crosses, but it's a super easy design to free-hand.

Base coat: Vallejo Russian Green / Vallejo Green Grey for a highlight
Very light color: GW Bleached Bone / White highlight
Medium Brown: Vallejo US Field Drab / Mixed in GW Bleached Bone for highlight
Tracks: Basecoated generic Burnt Umber and slathered on GW Boltgun Metal. I hate painting tracks.

Now, I haven't done any weathering on these guys. I haven't done a lot of pin-washing. Normally I pin-wash, and I rarely weather, but I might make an exception with the more plain one to spice the look up a bit. Dust, paint chips, etc. Heavy weathering isn't my forte nor really my style. 

Overall I am rather pleased with these. Like all Zvezda kits (I read other people's work!) they suffer from detail that could be raised more off the surface. They painted well, and being able to assemble without glue lets you paint the track separately and then pop those suckers on without a worry about your glue getting on the rest of the model or frosting the model. They're supposed to have a Hull MG, but it's missing from the kit. I'm highly confident I didn't forgot the piece on the sprue. If you are like me and don't like that cheap feeling from all-plastic minis, load them up with ballast to give them that quality feel. 

Monday, 23 December 2013

DIY Fortifications MG nests for 15mm Flames of War

Dun dun dun, I have made good on my initial research into US fortifications! Let's jump in, shall we?

I had the dimensions from the 1944 handbook, page 64, so I had to do some maths to scale it down! There they are, if you want to do something similar. The dimensions for the excavated dirt boundary are supposed to be 3' wide, which was a bit too much for the space given on the base. 

I cut the base from plasticard (4mm thick I think?) because I could easily cut the foxhole squares in plasticard compared to a medium base. I glued this to an index card, let the glue dry, then X-acto'd it off the card so there's a bottom to the foxholes that I can glue dudes to. 

Speaking of dudes, I have a pretty limited bits box and a rather tight budget. These are a machine gunner and commander model from the US Stuarts box. 

I decided to make a generic MG Nest for funsies, inspired by the ModelDads blog

Pretty standard after getting the foam cut just right. Add some spackle, glue on some dirt from the yard (treated in an oven and sifted through an old window screen), and get a'paintin'. For the shell casings, I don't have an brass wire, but I did have some spare hanging wire in one of my hobby supply boxes. It looks good!

Pretty dark there on the earth colors. I use a $1 Americana Burnt Umber for my base color on everything earth. To finish the painting on these, I salvaged what I could of my GW Graveyard Earth as a heavy drybrush, then did successive drybrushes of mixes with GW Desert Yellow mixed in. The tankers got the usual: Khaki jackets, Brown Violet helmets, GW Beige Brown goggle straps and outlining the lenses, lenses black with minor highlights, the skin is GW Tallarn Flesh as a base with GW Elf Flesh on top. Simple!

Some simple flocking and...

Not bad, I reckon! I like them. I plan on making a few more of the generic ones but with snow for my Finns. I'll have to make some trench sections if I go the Fortified Company route for the Finns... and tank obstacles, and actually finish the rest of the barbed wire and minefields I've started... oh boy!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Inspiration/Reference: Basing

Now this is going to be another sort of "Look at other people's work!" post. Just remember folks, this blog is as much for my benefit as yours.

Battlefront has some stellar articles. The hub on their website is if you click on "Modeling" on the dropdown menu of "Hobby" at the top of their site. Here's a direct link. The ones to look out for are No Business Like Snow Business, Using the Rural Bases (if only for how they're flocked at the end of the article), Plastic Bases: Urban Rubble (for you folks who think you can do some of that stuff from scratch or want to see all that you can cram onto a FoW base), and one that isn't accessible through that list of articles, Desert Basing, which is an unbelievably awesome article. It showcases the variety of deserts and how to represent that on your bases.

There's even more basing goodness to extract from Battlefront's site. For that, you'll need to go to Hobby --> Painting, and look for the winners of painting competitions. For instance, the 2011 Iron Cross painting competition winners and another Iron Cross event. One of my favorites is the mortar platoon with the fences, which is what made my give it a go for my Americans. It didn't turn out as well as my reference (1/8" squad balsa sticks are way too thick for 15mm, FYI), but hey, it's good nonetheless.

Games Workshop has a really awesome snow basing article, believe it or not. Maybe the bases for my Finnish infantry would tons better if I had bothered to research for this article! D'oh. Unfortunately GW has taken down the direct links to all of these, so you have to find them via some judicious Googling. Best of luck trying to find anything else on there!

Last but certainly not least is one of my favorite blogs for hobby tutorials: Massive Voodoo. I'm going to link to their tutorials on Basing (read them all!) since that is relevant to the article, but the rest of their site is stupendous as well. These are the kinda guys who paint for Golden Demon competitions. Lots of hyper realism.

That's all I have for you!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Terrain Inspiration: Harvey Trotman's 1st Terrain Square

Short post today.

I was poking around the Model Dads blog while waiting for the glue to dry on two prototype MG nests. There was an article on applying static grass, which is interesting to see because my method is to apply glue, drop some grass on with my fingers, then turn the model/base upside down and tap with a dropper bottle. Give it a few good whacks and everything looks good. Here's a linky to the article.

In the comments, there is this guy, Harvey, who posted a link to the effect this static grass device he bought can create. And goodness does it look awesome! Turns out he linked to a whole slew of pictures of a terrain tile he made. I'm linking it here to share a fantastic source of inspiration for making terrain. It is gorgeous, so do yourself a favor and check it out!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Assembling Battlefronts Finland's Fokker CX for Flames of War

Ah, a biplane. How cute!  I say that this is Finland's Fokker CX because it was a slightly different aircraft, performance-wise, from the ones the Danes had. Check out the wiki page for the Fokker for more information. Not like these differences matter a drop in this game.

So, onto the model itself. Rather pretty, and do remember I am biased towards aircraft.

You get the standard stuff: your one plane (in pieces, of course), two magnets, the flight stand, die (not pictured because it went straight to the dice box), and decals. Splendid. The more experienced Flames of War hobbyist will note that this sucker has a lot of parts. It's not just slapping on a nosecone, MGs, and some bombs. You have the upper wing, support struts, a support strut for the wheels, two wheels, and a nosecone. That big hole where there should be a little one for the aircraft stand stumped me, because 1. I haven't put any of the Vietnam helicopters together, and 2. I'm an idiot. So, if you're clueless like me (or happen to make the occasional mistake), there's the answer. No bombs, interestingly enough, even thought you can drop them in the game and the real life ones could carry 2-4 bombs. 

How hard could the assembly of this kit be?

Damn difficult, I'm learning. While cleaning the mold lines (which are prevalent, but nothing to ruin the model. Be careful you don't obscure some of the sculpting recessed lines when cleaning the model), be super careful about what's fragile about the resin body, which is anything on the edge of a wing or stabilizer. Case in point...
Yeah, Bummer #1. Luckily I was able to get it glued back on without attaching the broken piece to my finger. 

Next up is seeing how to do this wing assembly. There are holes in each wing that the support struts fit into, but the trick is making sure the wings match up properly. Here's what I mean:
The left side (from your perspective as the reader) looks to be a bit thinner than the other side. No matter, nothing boiling water can't fix. This is resin, right?
Dakka dakka dakka Vrroooooom BOOOOSH

Bummer #2: It looks like the AA has gotten here already! The resin did break in such a way that it fit together nicely when re-gluing. It was an extra step that I didn't want to take. So, with the lower wings back together, I decided to take a file to that support bit on the cockpit that the upper wing fits onto. Now I have some control over how the upper wing fits. Splendid! The problem still remains, and it's kinda chicken and egg: do you glue the upper wing on, then man-handle the support struts in there? Or do you glue the struts first, then the upper wing? Well, Battlefront is pretty good with assembly guides. Let's go give the Fokker's Hobby page a looksie.... Bummer #3 of the project.

Looks like we're going it alone. Not even a paint guide! Although by eye balling it I'm guessing it's Russian uniform for the green, and then yellows as needed. But, I'll get there! I still haven't gotten the second wing on. Time for a hobby enhancer, methinks.

After some trial and error, here is how I got the little so-and-so's to fit. I glued one of the two parts of the strut to the upper wing, then fiddle 'em around to make them fit on the lower wing. It looks pretty good... until you see the upper wing isn't resting on the fuselage of the plane. Whoops. Time to file the struts down a bit. It's not the best solution, but this seems to be what it takes to make it fit. Another option would be to just bend the struts in more, and cover the existing slots in the lower wing with some putty. 

I'm giving up trying to make it a flush fit. It's easy to take material off, but one inch of draw on the file too much could ruing the struts beyond repair. So, I'm settling with the knowledge that the plane looks good from above. I did manage to physically push the wing forward so the post on the fuselage lined up with the slot on the wing, sorta. Judicious amounts of super glue can do wonders, and baking soda makes for an ace accelerator. 

I still have the wheel assembly to do! At least that seems straightforward. I'm going with the middle V-piece first, then the wheels. 

Gods above, this was a chore to put together. You definitely get your money's worth of hobby time on this guy, that's for sure! As much of a pain this was, I enjoyed the challenge. It would be nice to have a guide to work off of, at least to see how the guys who make the model put it together. The model has a good heft to it thanks to that upper wing being metal, so it feels like $17.50 worth of model when you pick it up. The flying base for this, without the little piece that glues to the plane itself, is superbly solid. 

And I haven't put a drop of paint on it yet. You'll just have to tune in again for that! Y'know, while I wait for paint to arrive. 

Friday, 13 December 2013

Bolt Action Warlord games plastic German Sd.Kfz 251/1 ausf C halftrack

Ah the joys of being a historical gamer, it lets me feel like a youngling again making Airfix kits as I did in my youth, and this time I dont get looked at quite so oddly when I push them around the tabletop making suitable noises (and rolling the odd dice here and there).

I'm a big fan of the Bolt Action game, and one of my forces is my German army. its fairly generic, infantry heavy and fun to play.  I did however realize something was missing, transport.  The most iconic transport of the German army during the war was the Sd.Kfz 251/1 ausf C halftrack, and its variants.

This is a Warlord Games plastic kit, 28mm scale or 1/56,  comes with transfers and some extra stowage bits.  It's a simple straightforward kit to build, comes on two sprues, and did not take long at all to put together with no cleanup required.

The build time was low, as the fit was simple and smooth, I elected to only put a couple of "Jerry cans" on the side and a bedroll for stowage.

I am not the greatest painter, but I am happy with its dirty weathered look
Overall a great addition to my Bolt Action force, good fun to build and paint even with my sloppy style and works great on the tabletop at getting my Germans where they need to be!