Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Three Amigos...

I picked up these little beauties from Merlyn's in Spokane last weekend, the IS3 heavy tank platoon by BattleFront. Very good sculpts, and the resin suspensions were a new twist.  Very clean and crisp casting, loads better than the standard metal ones. I daresay even better than the new line of plastic parts BattleFront has been producing lately.

The "Three Amigos"

As pleased as I am with the suspension sculpts, I am a little worried about wear and tear. One good drop and they will surely shatter.

One concern was the fit of the suspensions to the hull. The castings didn't seem to really fit well, and a few seemed slightly warped. Now, if you are a long time BF collector, this isn't rare, or a big deal. Yo simply bend and twist the metal parts back into shape. Sadly you can't do that with resin and one has to make things work as best they can.  With some filing and trimming I got the tracks to fit, and they look fine from "a players view", but if you turn them over there are massive gaps between the hull and tracks, making any glue bond kinda suspect.  I poured as much superglue as a I dared into the gaps and honestly I don't really anticipate a problem.

The painting was fairly straightforward. I prime/based with the Krylon "camo green" spray paint.  Its an outstanding primer in an of itself, and I think a pretty good match for US brown-violet. For Allied vehicles the Krylon save several steps. Over that I did a heavy dry-brush with a lightened Tamiya olive-green, blackwash with oils (very heavy on the back-deck grates), a little rust effects on the spare track and exhaust, and a VEEEEEEEERY light dusting of stone tan. I used the decals from the PAVN T-34M box set, "distressing" them with a sponge daubing of Tamiya olive-green, and a little rust.  The Soviet red star is hand painted.

My intent is to be ready for any sort of "what-if in 1946" sort of game opportunities. If not, my local group is reasonable about proxies and will make an awesome IS2 platoon.

Comments welcome!
Short, Martin, and Chase

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Not that it took me three attempts or anything...

Here I present for your scrutiny and entertainment, my IL2 Shurmovik.  All resin, 1:144 scale made by Battlefront mainly for use in their Flames of War system.

This camo pattern is pretty much stock, as presented by "those who know", the standard brown-green tigerstripe pattern.  It's all I've ever seen, and it is very easy to just rely on this standard scheme.  I've tried, my first few attempts at painting this aircraft were really dismal, unimaginative attempts at mimicking this stock scheme.  However, as we all should know, if one takes the time to do some basic research some really neat things happen.

Google led me to a subsection of "Soviet Warplanes.com" 


where I found a completely gnarly webpage on not only the sturmovik in all its evolutions, but also the regulation camo schemes, color, and patterns as the war progressed.  The schemes are even broke down by factory and unit in some instances.  If you have ay shine at all about the IL2, you REEEEEAAAALLY need to visit this site. You won't be disappointed.

At any rate, I tried to match the make of Sturmovik modeled by Battlefront to the earliest example, and I matched the model as the IL2M.


Now this looks nothing like that old, boring, plaid-out model-box camo scheme... so I went to work.

So here we are, "white 22". I based the paint scheme on the the Kuybyshev factory camo standard, after August 1943.  I added the red nose and wingtips.  Call it a weakness. I also wanted the opportunity to experiment with oil weathering, and practice my panel line inking.

to be cont...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Soviet KV-1s heavy tank company...

Even though it came as quite a shock to German forces as they invaded the Soviet Union, the Soviets were never completely happy with the KV design.

Soviet KV-1 with the later cast turret

There were many problems as the Soviet mechanized forces deployed to meet the Germans head on, but lack of effective maintenance, lacks of spares and POL, ammunition shortages, poor training, and mechanical failures (particularly involving the steering clutches) led to high loss rates among the KV fleet in the first few month of the war on the Eastern Front.
KV-1 E with applique armor plates bolted on to counter expected German AT improvements.
By the summer of 1942, the STAVKA were thoroughly disillusioned on the design, meant to give heavy support to light and medium tank companies, the KV couldn't keep up with Soviet tank columns and were often too little, to late.  Part of the problem was that too much was added to the tank in terms of armor protection and technical improvements without any upgrade in the power pack.  This resulted in a slow, sluggish tank with a greater than expected logistics tail.
All KV-1 were pulled out of tank regiments and formed their own separate regiments and brigades to directly support infantry.  Also, the design bureaus delivered the KV-1 S ("speedy") with a smaller cast turret, and armor protection levels along the original specifications.  It was a more vulnerable vehicle, but it made up for it in mobility.
Here I have a company of 15mm KV-1 s heavy tanks, by Battlefront.
I prefer dry transfers to water-slide decals, and that is what I used for the turret numbers.  No unit in mind, just a generic system.  I used the sponge technique to weather the numbers, giving them a worn and chipped look. 
An interesting quirk I found  is that even though the commander is no longer the loader, and is positioned on the left side of the gun behind the gunner, his observation cupola has no hatch!  the only exit is through the loader's station, unbelievable!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

US Army "Modern" fireteam...

I wanted to take up the challenge of doing modern US Army troops, in what was at the time the field uniform, in UCP camoflague.  Between the color scheme at scale, and the dot patterns, it was a GREAT challenge, having to paint and strip several times before I arrived with a technique that yielded the results I wanted.  For your amusement...

The scheme is a basic light gray, with light green/gray and "Feldgrau" blotches mostly oriented in a horizontal plane.  I washed the helmets, crotch plates, body armor, elbows and knees in brown to mimic the dirt and grime, and how some uniform bits may be washed more often than others.

Now, just when I thought I had accomplished something, now the Army comes up with "unicam"... and I gotta start all over again.

I intend to use these for the new Force on Force modern skirmish rules.  I'm going 20mm, and it should be awesome!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A little help for my... comerades!

 For your amusement, my first support unit, a company of 120MM mortars ready to lob hot steel onto the heads of the Hitlerite invaders!  In Flames of War terms, 130 points for 6 tubes (Red Bear), + 20 points for observers and trucks.  AT 3, FP 3+, range: 56". 

 I've decided to dig the battery in, making for a more interesting visual. The process wasn't hard, build the timber frame and pile up the gravel in front of it layer by layer.

The gun crews I patterned on the early-mid war
uniforms, using Polly S dust as a base, highlighted with Polly-S mud.  Fielding a Soviet army on a budget, these will work for early and mid-war armies, and will pass for later-war as well.  The mortar tubes were primed in Krylon camo-green, black-washed with painters oils, then highlighted with German panzer olive.

 For the timber-cribbing I used stir-sticks from a local coffee shop.  I split them width-wise into three, and tore them into the lengths I needed.  After super-gluing them into place, I coated them with a GW wood brown, then black-washed them in the joints, recesses, and seams to give it a more aged look.

I'm still not quite satisfied with the soil effects, and will be experimenting with finer grain materials, colors, etc.  Still, they should catch a few eyes on the table.

I look forward to ranging in with them, and putting some poor infantry platoon out of my misery!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

PSC T-34/85's Finally Completed...

Finally!! I got there little monsters to where I want them, and am comfortable putting them on a gaming table.  I'm kind of a nerd about that, and get really self conscious about putting sub-standard lead, or plastic as the case may be, on the table.  This last tournament I entered was a real nightmare for me, as much of the force I fielded was little more than base-coated.  There was little I could do, if I wanted to play at all, and had to swallow my pride.  When my friend Scott MacPhee wasn't able to show, I really wasn't that put-out.  I would have been embarrassed and spent too much time making excuses, etc.

What I have for you today is a unit of Soviet T-34/85's, made by Plastic Soldier Company, painted in generic, oversized markings.  I base-coated the plastic in Krylon "ultra-flat camoflague green" spray primer.  The looked good but came off a bit too "olive" for Soviet equipment, so I applied a tint of Tamiya olive green to bring the base more in the direction of what Soviet armor generally looked like.  Next I applied numerous oil washes with red-brown and black, in separate coats and in combination, to provide shading and weathering effects.  The rear deck, and the vents received the lion's share of this treatment. Next came highlighting using Polly-S Panzer Olive green.  I just didn't feel comfortable going any lighter.

No historical marking schemes seemed to attract my attention, so I decided to do oversize markings and use what I had left over from my IL-2 box set.  I used the wing stars and fuselage numbers, in a single digit scheme, creating a generic Soviet unit, but giving the appearance of some sort of regulation or order. I had to "wing it" a little, as the decal sheet didn't have the "1" or "6" numberals, so a chopped "4" and a frankenstein combination of a "2" and an upside-down "5" did just nicely.  I shied away from the various coats of glosscoat, dullcoat, et al and just stuck with decal set.  What silvering did crop up I painted over with Tamiya Olive Green. Not perfect, but I think I can get some sweet results with more practice. All in all this decal experience was far better that past bunglings.

My overall painting style is what I call "Rabid Monkey" style, where models are liberally highlighted, but not also severely contrasted, and with some modest weathering thrown in.  The rear deck of tanks are a dirty, "diesely", oily area, and I wanted to reflect that.  I also wanted to distress the turret markings somewhat, so they aren't pristine and visually distracting.  I used the sponging technique, and I think I got really lucky!  The numbers, I think, have a great effect, and am happy with the results.

All I need to do now is repeat my luck with the 5 (6 including the Dedov model)  /42 turrets for mid-war units.  I've got 1/72 dry transfers coming soon so I'll keep y'all posted on that progress.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Battelfront and PSC T-34/85 side by side photos...

I'm gearing up for my first Flames of War tournament on the 10th, and am planning to bring a Guards (Red Army) Tankovy Battalion into the fight.  That being said, I needed a lot of T-34's in a hurry, and on a budget.  PSC seemed to be the way to go.  At $25 for a box of 5, vs a blister of 1 tank for $15 or a boxed set of 5 for $60... we all can do the math.

Assembly wasn't bad, but the track can be a bit fiddly, and I tried many different methods of getting that track on without too much trouble or the gaps that everyone seems to be getting.  I think I solved the problem to about 80%, by gluing the tracks on prior to installing them on the running gear.  It takes the patience to allow the glue to fully dry and cure, with a combination of "super" glue, and proper plastic cement.

Painting was easy, the PSC had good clean lines, but had little detail.  BF had less rear-deck detail, but more storage and clutter to catch highlight colors.  Still, I think they both turned out fine.  I used Krylon "Camoflague" green spray paint.  It's a primer, geared for plastics, and is WELL worth the expense.  It sprays very smooth, covers fantastically, and in this case comes out looking most like the US Olive Drab spray paint put out by BF.  I used that as my darker base, and higlighted liberally with Polly-S "Panzer Olive Green".  Two black oil washes for depth, and a brown wash for weathering, and here we are.

I still have some work to do, with one track still needing to finish assembly and basecoat/priming, the rest need attention to the track and tow cables.  I'm debating whether or not to add dust effects, or just keep them clean.

The Dedov model I'm using for my battalion command track, the rest I'm using for the line companies.  Right now, for the tourney I'll have to sub some Shermans, but another box or two of PSC tanks and that problem will be solved.  Wish me luck!