Sunday, July 22, 2012

Iron Cross Painting Competition

As a last minute decision, I decided to enter Battlefront's Iron Cross Painting Competition at the 2012 Historicon in Virginia, USA.

I was one of the first painters to show up, fill-in the registration card, and hand my entries over.  I submitted a Panzer IV to the Tank Team category, Fallshirmjager Panzerschreck to the Infantry Team, a Fallshirmjager Platoon to the Platoon, and finally my Nebelwerfers to the Gun Team category.

Since I was the first to have models placed in the viewing cabinet, throughout the day, I watched the entries being added and began to realize how stiff the competition was going to be.  I decided to write off the contest as a learning experience and preparation for next year.

Then, to my complete shock, during the award ceremony, my name was called for 3rd place in the Gun Team category!

Thanks to the folks at Battlefront for putting on a great competition!  I'm already thinking about next year's entries.  Once I see a final list of all the winners, I'll post it here with a link to Battlefront's webpage, so you can see all the awesome models.

Friday, July 13, 2012

WIP - Panzer IV ready for the snow

Here's a quick WIP report on some white washed Panzer IV.  I plan to convert these to Panzer IV J to use in the new Flames of War Devil's Charge army lists.  I had some extra Panzer IV that I was planning to repaint the camo; instead, I tried simulating a field applied white wash.

I'll be working on the details and modifications soon but wanted to share the white wash.  One part Vallejo White to Two Parts water to make it very thin and translucent.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nebelwerfers Finished

Finished the Nebelwerfer platoon for Flames of War.  The soot and burnt rocket tubes was my first experiment with MiG pigments.  I used "Burnt Steel" to weather the ends of the tubes.

Panthers in Ambush Pattern

The first three Panthers using the Ambush Camouflage pattern are almost finished - two still need some details, decals, and a wash.

The one thing I can say about painting ambush is it's slow!  Each 15mm tank was about 2 hours.  Enjoy the photos.

FoW Obstacles

I've been experimenting with different methods for creating the standard 2" X 8" Flames of War Obstacles and have finally finished the first of the barbed wire and minefields.  Thanks to all who provided comments on the prototypes.

First, the minefield.  This turned out better than I expected and I'm looking forward to getting this on the table in the near future.

I used a piece of vinyl floor tile as the base and Liquitex Resin Sand to provide ground texture.  The signs are made of toothpicks and craft sticks.  The rest is a mixture of paint and washes.  The scorched earth is created using pastel applied with a make-up brush.

Next, I focused on creating six sections of barbed wire.  For details on the development process, please see the barbed wire prototype post.  Below are some photos of the final pieces.  I finally settled on using floral wire twisted around itself and then coiled around a pencil.  (Thanks to Chris at Huzzah Hobbies ( for suggesting a pencil as the right diameter for 15mm.)

The coils were primed grey, dry brushed silver, and then had a light coat of MiG Rust applied.

Monday, June 18, 2012

WIP - Nebelwerfer

Thought I share a photo of my nebelwerfers nearing completion.  For these, I've been experimenting with MIG pigments, and I'm fairly happy with the results.

Base Markings

While playing Flames of War, especially with my Fallschirmjager company, I was mixing up which stands went with a given platoon.

FJ Command Team

I experimented with painting different color base borders, adding stripes or other painted identifiers, but I simply didn't like the way it looked.  Then, I borrowed (well, stole) a tip from my best buddy.  He works with a lot of 28 mm, and to distinguish a commander or special unit from the rest of a platoon, he uses some kind of unique scenery on the base - a flower, shrub, rock...

Using this basic idea, I added specific scenery to each of my FJ platoons - one is a "red" platoon and the other "white."  Using miniNature Short Blossom Tufts Summer (Product Code 726-22 S), I added a red blossom to each of the "red" squads and a white blossom to the "white" squads.  A third platoon can have no blossoms, if I ever get those painted.

I purchased the blossom tufts through Scenic Express

Some sample photos are below.  The first photo didn't quiet capture all the white blossoms like I hoped.

Command and three squads from both "red" and "white" platoons
Command and the complete "red" platoon
Company command and other independent teams don't have color markings, since they don't belong to any given platoon.  Below is one of the FJ observer teams based as an independent team.

FJ observers (independent) team

Some additional photos of the squads are below.

I tend to keep the colored blossoms toward the back of the base, where I can see them from my side of the game table.

Hope this gives some ideas for basing your FoW or other platoon-based figures.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Lions of Carentan

I recently finished reading Lions of Carentan, Fallschirmjager Regiment 6, 1943 - 1945 written by Volker Griesser.  

This may be one of the best collections of personal stories and observations about World War II. 

Clearly, it is told from the Fallschirmjager point of view, which can be a little unnerving when a reader from the USA or its WWII allies realizes the word "enemy" used in the book refers to our fathers and grandfathers (my grandfather, included).  However, I was often surprised by the moments of humanity shown by both sides of the combatants. The descriptions of the battles and the undertones of the political strife between the Fallschirmjager leadership and Hitler is an amazing story.  I recommend this book to anyone interested in the European Theatre during WWII.

For readers of Ambrose, Atkinson, or Reynolds, Lions of Carentan helps to fill-in more details and provides a glimpse into the minds of the Fallschirmjager: a unique group of the German military rarely discussed.

In addition to an intriguing text, the book is filled with many, many photographs.  I didn't count them, but I would guess over 100 photos are throughout the book.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More WWII Reference Photos

I'm finally getting around to posting more of the photos taken at the Americans in Wartime Museum open house.  This event takes place in Northern Virginia each summer.  People from all around the country bring their WWII vehicles, equipment, and uniforms.  It's a wealth of information for the modeler, and historical miniatures player.

Enjoy the photos.  If you can contribute to or correct the photo captions, feel free to add a comment.

German Motorcycle - BMW R75

German Grenades

Sd Kfz 251 (I think this is the Czech version - post WWII)

Soviet PT-76 (Post WWII)

Russian Tank  Model T-34/85

USA Paratrooper Jump Uniform and Gear

USA Sherman M4A1

Camouflaged German Hetzer

German Fallschirmjager Drop Canister

Figure Painting - Nail Board

Thought I'd share my method for holding figures while painting.  I use a nail board, which is simply a block of wood with holes drilled in it to hold nails.  In my case, I'm using a piece of scrap 2 by 4.  I experimented with the hole diameter until I was happy the nails could easily slide in and out but couldn't lean from vertical very far.

Nail board holding 15 mm figures while in process
Another advantage of using a nail board... I'm able to group the figures that will be based together (in this case, on Flames of War bases).  While painting, if I see something I don't like grouped together, I simply move the nails around to find a more suitable mix of figures. 

I use nails that are 3 and 3/4 inches long.  This size fits my hands and painting style best, as I'm able to rest the point of the nail in my palm (gently, of course) and then my brush is at the perfect height for painting the figure.  

The figures are held by a small ball of "Blue Stik."  This is reusable many times, even after primer and paint has gotten on it.  In the photo below, you can see the clump of Blue Stik between the nail head and figure.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Barbed Wire Prototype

Here are some photos of the prototype for barbed wire obstacles.  These are designed to meet the standard size for Flames of War - 8" X 2" base.  The base is made from vinyl floor tile cut to size.

Since these are just concepts, there is no paint on them or basing/flocking material.  Comments and suggestions are welcome.

I started with "Floral Wire" purchased at Michael's Arts and Crafts and a 3/8" wooden dowel.

Floral Wire and Dowel

I made two versions.  First, I doubled the wire and twisted the two strands of wire around itself to give the barbed wire some thickness and texture.  Twisting the two pieces together took time and, of course uses twice as much wire.  Using the 3/8" wooden dowel, I wound the wire tightly around the dowel.

Two strands of wire twisted together and wound around dowel.

At 15 mm scale, I don't know if it's worth going through the extra step shown above and using twice as much wire.  

My second attempt used a single strand of wire; this single strand was wound around the same 3/8" dowel.  

The results using a single strand can be seen below.  This section is mounted to the base, and I've added a couple different versions of posts - the "X" type and straight posts.  

Single wire strand with fence post prototype

Another view of the prototype

Feedback is welcome.

I'll be working up some more complete prototypes shortly and will post photos. After the barbed wire, I plan to do minefields and tank barriers (dragon teeth).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fallshirmjager Squad

I finished up the last squad of 15 mm Battlefront Fallshirmjager for my FoW platoon.  These were primed gray, painted with Vallejo acrylics, gloss coated using GW's brush on gloss varnish, "washed" with black magic wash overall with brown applied to face and hands, and then sprayed with Testors Dullcoat.

I'm fairly happy with the results, and I'm sure they'll look better once they are grouped into teams and based properly.  A couple photos for your comments...

Muddy Shermans

UPDATE: If you happen to be in Northern Virginia, USA... these painted and weathered tanks are for sale at Huzzah Hobbies  in Ashburn, VA.  (Price is less than the cost of buying new and unpainted.)

I've been experimenting with weathering techniques and wanted to share the following.  These are Battlefront resin Sherman's that originally came in the 2nd edition starter set.

These were primed gray and painted a base coat of Vallejo 887 Brown Violet.  Tracks and wheels were base coated black, and there is a variety of colors on the crates and tarps.  These were painted quickly to what I consider a "wargame standard."  Next, I applied GW gloss varnish and a black magic wash.  Once I was satisfied, I began to weather the tanks to look like they've spent days in the bocage.

For this weathering experiment, I used pastels (ground to a powder) mixed with Vallejo matte varnish.  I use a file to turn the pastels into powder, and a case for bead crafts from Michaels works great for storing the the various colors.

I mixed a few varieties of browns with the matte varnish in a FoW blister and applied the "mud" using a disposable acid brush.  There is also some very dark gray mixed for exhaust dirt on the engine cover.

After the weathering was applied, I sprayed them with Testors Dullcoat.

Below are a few photos of the results.  I think they still need some work, and the black from the engine exhaust is a little overwhelming.  But, at 15 mm scale, I think these would look okay on the game table.