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75th Anniversary of Battle of Monte Cassino and Northern Italy (Army Build)

75th Anniversary of Battle of Monte Cassino and Northern Italy (Army Build)

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Project Blog by redvers

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About the Project

This is the parallel project to my Terrain build for the Monte Cassino and Northern Italy. Here I will be painting up the miniatures to represent some of the troops that fought in the battles.

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Batch Painting a Load of German Stuff

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I actually finished this lot over a week ago but I’ve been away for the half term so this is the first chance I’ve had to post an update. Here are all the models completed with weathering, mud, varnished and ready for battle!

So here’s the rogues gallery of completed German Armour

The 2 FlammPanzer IIIsThe 2 FlammPanzer IIIs
Two Panzer IV/70 Tank DestroyersTwo Panzer IV/70 Tank Destroyers
Another two Tank Destroyers, in this instance, ElephantsAnother two Tank Destroyers, in this instance, Elephants
A collection of 8 RadsA collection of 8 Rads
And a single 8 Rad close up, for those that like that sort of thingAnd a single 8 Rad close up, for those that like that sort of thing
And finally the TigersAnd finally the Tigers
Here's the platoon command Tiger. As usual, the platoon command drives around constantly unbuttonedHere's the platoon command Tiger. As usual, the platoon command drives around constantly unbuttoned
Other side of the command Tiger, in case you thought it might be differentOther side of the command Tiger, in case you thought it might be different

Batch Painting a Load of German Stuff

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Life has somewhat overtaken me recently and hobby time has gone out of the window. But, I did manage some time on me German vehicles the other day and have primed them then applied a base coat and cammo stripes. I’ve used the same method that I’ve used here on other vehicles so won’t repeat myself.

All the vehicles after their cammo pattern has been appliedAll the vehicles after their cammo pattern has been applied

Painting on the dip with a brush is a fairly quick job and I managed to find an hour before work to do it. Below are all of the vehicles drying just before I headed off to the office smelling slightly of varnish and with some brown stains on my fingers!

Batch Painting a Load of German Stuff

Batch Painting a Load of German Stuff

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I’ve managed to accumulate a number of tanks and other German bits which all needs to be painted up. So I’m going to challenge myself to paint them all in one go and see how quickly I can knock them out. I’ll be using the same methods as described previously on this project, so I won’t go into a lot of detail.

Here’s what I have

2 Elephants. These are the Zvezda kits. The first Company of the 653 Panzerjager Abteilung was deployed to Italy in February 1944 to the Anzio beach head but also took part in battles at Nettuno and Cisterna.

4 Tigers. These are the PSC kits. 508 Schwere Panzer Abteilung was a new formation when it was deployed at Anzio. It was teamed up with the Elephants and placed into 69th Panzerregiment under the Herman Goring Fallschirmjagerdivision

2 Flammpanzer III. These are the Zvezda kits. 26th PanzerDivision had an entire company of Flammpanzers in March of 1944. As they took losses, they were attached to other tank platoons as support.

2 Panzer IV/70. These are the Battlefront resin/metal kits (urgh!). These arrived much later in Italy, around October 1944 and were attached to 26th PanzerDivision.

5 8-Rad heavy scout vehicles. These are the PSC kits. 26th PanzerDivision had a few of these in their ranks.

One of the Tigers built and ready for primingOne of the Tigers built and ready for priming
A lovely Flammpanzer IIIA lovely Flammpanzer III
A horrible resin/metal kit held together with prodigious amounts of super glue and greenstuffA horrible resin/metal kit held together with prodigious amounts of super glue and greenstuff
8 Rads!8 Rads!

Completing the Semoventes

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Went back and completed the Semovente M42 75/34’s. Same process as before, painted on dip then a matt varnish. I’ve then re-highlighted some of the tools etc before chipping with a sponge (black/brown this time then gunmetal). Finally applied the Mid Sussex Low Weald mud and PVA mix for the mud effects. Finished with another matt varnish. Job done and they join the ranks of the Herman Goring Panzer Division (which has some really interesting lists including Panzer III’s and the ability to take 4 platoons of 88’s – I might be rolling this out at some point)

Shiny, post dip tanksShiny, post dip tanks
Finished platoonFinished platoon
Completing the Semoventes
Completing the Semoventes

Allied Support

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Rather than complete the Semovente M42 75/34’s, I thought I’d add some more to the Allied arsenal in the way of some support units. So I’ve put together 3 Wasp Flame Throwers and 5 15cwt trucks, one of which I’ve converted to a supply truck for the pioneer/engineer platoon I painted up earlier.

Here they are ready for painting.

Painting these is a lot easier than the German stuff, being largely just olive drab. Base coat of olive drab was applied with the airbrush. Once all of the other base colours were down, I’ve applied dip with a brush and then matt varnish.

I’ve kept the windows of the trucks simple and just used periscope from Panzer Aces.

Chipping and mud was applied in the same way as described in this project before. And all done – fairly easy to knock out over a few evenings.

The Wasps came from the PSC box of 9 Universal Carriers, so I still have 6 left to build. But I probably need to get the Semovente finished first, I don’t like having too many unfinished projects lying around.

Allied Support
Allied Support

Completing the Semoventes

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I’ve had a lot on recently and not been able to get anywhere near as much completed as I wanted – I’m behind schedule!

To finish off the Semoventes, I’ve given them a matt varnish and then dry brushed the tracks up with a metal highlight. I’ve also gone back in to pick out the tools to give them a little more definition.

I’ve then gone straight in with the chipping – small bit of sponge with a dark grey paint followed by a metal layer, again applied with the sponge, along the edges.

Completing the Semoventes
Completing the Semoventes

Once dry, I’ve mixed up some of my Mid Sussex finest mud with PVA to apply the mud splatters. This goes along the tracks and wherever I think mud might end up. Once dry, I’ve given everything a final matt varnish.

Completing the Semoventes
Completing the Semoventes

I’ve also found out that there were a number of Semovente M42 75/34’s serving with the Herman Goring Panzer Division so I need to get these painted up in the same way. I’ve given them their base cammo pattern so they are now ready for some base colours (uniforms, tools and tracks) before the dip.

Completing the Semoventes

Semovente

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Following the surrender of Italy, the Germans were left on their own to fight the Allies, effectively occupying Italy whilst fighting a defensive war. To supplement their forces, they took whatever equipment they could find. In the case of the 26th PanzerRegiment, this included a number of Semovente assault guns purloined from the Italian Ariete Division. They were designated StuG M42 and M43.

The Germans found these tanks to be quite effective against the Allied armour and they served within 10th Kompanie alongside a number of Flammpanzer III. During the Italian campaign, these assault guns fought mainly around the Anzio beach head however a single Semovente 90/53 tank hunter served in the battles around Orsogna before disappearing from the records.

It would be fun to have a few of these to mess around with but I’d like to put them in some Italian cammo patterns to give them a different look. So I found the below picture of a Semovente that I will try and replicate

A Semovente 90/53A Semovente 90/53

Once again, the kits are resin and metal – not my favourite. So I’ve used green stuff to help join the metal to resin (with super glue) as this adds to the surface contact area.

I’ve then given the models a prime and base coat of dunklegelb.

To try to get the green patches, I’m going to use blue tack to mask off some areas and then use the airbrush to spray over a mid green.

Blue tack removedBlue tack removed

So not quite the same as the picture I found but reasonably close for 15mm. Getting more patches and closer together would have been very tricky. Not sure the green is light enough but again, reasonably close and I will be weathering it up anyway.

I applied some German transfers and then gave everything a painted on army painter dip. Once this dries, I can look at the weathering.

Shiny tanksShiny tanks

German STuH

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The German’s had a few assault guns running around in Italy including a few STuHs (like STuGs but fitted with a shorter barreled Howitzer) so I’ve put together a platoon.

A base coat of Dunkelgelb followed by some light green and medium brown lines airbrushed over create the cammo pattern – very easy to do with the airbrush. After the decals, a painted on coat of dip and matt varnish provides the depth.

Tracks were a hull red dry brushed with gunmetal.

Once again, chipping was applied with a sponge, first a black-brown paint followed by a light gunmetal on the edges.

Finally, quality low weald ground clay mixed with pva is dabbed on for the mud splatters. All covered with another coat of matt varnish to seal it all down. Quick and easy and ready for the table top.

German STuH
German STuH
German STuH

Churchill Crocodiles

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I’m adding more fire power to my British army and in this case, quite literally with three Churchill Crocodile tanks. The process for painting these was much the same as the Stuarts so I won’t go into much detail however I will focus more on the mud splatters.

Model was primed and painted British Olive Drab with the tools painted up. I’ve then applied the decals and gone for the usual mid tone dip painted on and gently dabbed off of the flat areas to stop it pooling.

I’ve dry brushed the whole model with reflective green and then just added a small highlight to the tools. Tracks were painted hull red and then dry brushed with gunmetal. I’ve then given everything a matt varnish. Straightforward so far.

Chipping was applied in the usual way with a dark grey painted sponged on and then once dry, I’ve gone back over with a lighter sponging of gunmetal.

We’re now ready for the mud splatter. I use high quality Lower Weald Sussex clay for this. Anything else is just not good enough 🙂  If anyone wants some, I’m happy to supply it at a cost 🙂

The soil must be dry and crushed down to a fine powder. You can see in the first picture below that there are a lot of lumps in mine but on the left, you can see it as a fine powder. Use a rolling pin or pestle and mortar to crush it down.

Mix a reasonable amount with PVA glue. The more glue, the less splatter once it is dry. I tend to go 50:50 and you can always add another layer if you want more.

Taking an old and very fine brush, I dab on the mixture to where I think mud could splatter. So logically more around where the tracks come up to the body and on this model, the trailer that’s likely to get a mud shower whenever the tank moves.

Churchill Crocodiles

I’ve tried a before and after shot of the same tank here so that you can see how it dries and the effect from ‘oh crap, I’ve ruined my model’ to ‘that doesn’t look so bad’

As the PVA dries, it deposits the ground up soil into a fairly realistic splatter. This is why it needs to be ground to a fine dust otherwise the larger lumps just don’t look as natural. Once dry, you can add more layers for the really muddy look.

I’ve given my mud effect another matt varnish over the top to remove any slight shine left by the PVA and to seal the mud down. You can also carefully apply a satin or gloss varnish if you want a wet mud look.

I’m using this technique in 15mm and it works pretty well. I think if you scaled it up you would probably want to mix in some more pigments to break up the uniform brown, perhaps even add some tufts of static grass. But for 15mm table top ready, I think this looks fine.

Here’s the finished Platoon.

Alllied Support - Humbers and Stuarts - Finishing them off

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With the dip applied and dry, I’ve been over everything with a matt varnish. I find the dip looks awful while shiny and you can’t see very well what you are working with until the shine has gone.

I’ve gone over the wooden handles etc again as well as dry brushing the tracks with a light gunmetal. This just helps pick out all of the detail.

I’m looking to weather these down so have taken a brown wash and applied a light wash in places more likely to be grimy as well as adding some water marks.

I’ve chipped the tanks up in the usual way. A small bit of sponge dipped in a dark brown and applied over the places where chips are most likely to occur. I’ve then gone over with gunmetal but lighter and less frequent.

To apply the mud, I have some high quality Sussex clay soil from my back garden. This is dried out and crushed down to a fine powder. I mix this with PVA and then with a very fine brush, dab on blobs where mud would collect. The PVA dries away to leave the mud behind in little clumps. At 15mm, this looks pretty good.

I’ve finally gone over with another matt varnish to seal everything in. And all done!

Alllied Support - Humbers and Stuarts - Finishing them off
Alllied Support - Humbers and Stuarts - Finishing them off

Allied Support - Humbers and Stuarts

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So I’ve painted up plenty of German toys, time to add to the Allied arsenal. I don’t have any scouting units to deploy so now seems like a good time to do it. I’ve been shot plenty of times by Stuart’s in World of Tanks, so they must be good 🙂 and I do like the Humber IV Scout Car.

So I’ve picked up the PSC Stuart boxed set and the Humber boxed set from Battlefront.

The Humbers are a resin body with metal parts, not my favourite mix but as it was just the wheels, hatch and gun in metal, it wasn’t a big deal. I just used some green stuff to make sure there was a good contact area between the metal and resin.

The plastic Stuarts went together very easily and both vehicles have a good level of detail.

I’ve primed them with the Vallejo primer and then gone in with a Olive Drab.

Decals next. I’ve kept these simple, just some stars, British turret markings for the Stuarts and a serial number. All applied using decal set.

I’ve then given the commander a coat of British Battledress, black for any cables/headsets and barbarian flesh. Any tools have been painted flat earth for the wood and gunmetal for the metal areas. That pretty much covers the base colours – British tanks are far quicker to paint than German!

With the base colour down, I’ll now paint over these with the strong tone dip. This will provide the shading as well as locking down the decals under a varnish layer.

Junkers JU 87 - Start to finish

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In my PSC box, I had ordered a Stuka. This is a simple project and as the planes don’t spend a lot of time on the table in FoW, I can spend less time on the painting. It’s a Zvezda kit and went together very easily and very quickly – it took perhaps 5 minutes to clip out, clean up and glue together!

Junkers JU 87 - Start to finish
All built, ready for primingAll built, ready for priming

I’ve found a nice camo pattern I want to try to copy. The underside of the plane is a very light blue. Closest from my collection is an Arctic Blue, so I’ve gone with that.

The nose area and tail fin are painted a yellow. I hate yellow, it never looks right for me so I will try the ‘build up from brown’ approach. This sort of worked. It’s better than my previous attempts but I’m still not happy with it. It still took about 10 layers of yellow just to get something resembling an even coat.

The top of the aircraft I’ve painted British Olive Drab. I’m also going to try out some new masking tape I’ve got to really try to get some clean lines on the camo.

Once I was sure the masking tape was applied properly, I’ve gone for German Camo Green, which is quite a darkish green. Seemed to match up well with the picture I had.

As I had thinned the paints down, there was a little bleeding under the masking tape, particularly where the tape crossed some of the detail but nothing too bad. It was fairly easy to clean up and the result looks far better than my freehand.

Camo appliedCamo applied

The set came with some transfers that I duly applied and then gave the model a gloss varnish.

To apply some shading, I’ve given a light dark yellow wash over the yellow areas, a trusty sepia wash on the top and a watered down dark blue for the underside. Once all dry, I’ve applied a matt varnish and it’s good to go. Quick job and table top ready!

Junkers JU 87 - Start to finish
Junkers JU 87 - Start to finish

Marder II - Going back and doing it properly

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In my last update, I had decided to leave the Marders as they were and ‘table top ready’. After some thought, I decided to go back and finish them properly, so here’s the final steps.

I’ve decided to go big on the chipping, after all, these vehicles have been in the field for some time and saw plenty of action. I’ve just used the age old method of small sponge and a dark colour, in this case I went with a Dark Grey from Vallejo.

Chipping appliedChipping applied

I’ve then gone back over with some gunmetal, particularly along the corners where it is more likely that all of the paint will be removed.

Fully chippedFully chipped

I applied some slight streak effects where I think water may have run down the side of the vehicle. Everything then got another matt varnish.

Finally, I mixed up some dry mud from my garden with some PVA and applied this in little splodges to where mud would have built up. And now I’ve finished!

A slightly over exposed picture of the finished platoonA slightly over exposed picture of the finished platoon

Now that these are finished, I need to get cracking as Plastic Soldier Company had a 25% sale recently and I may have over indulged. This turned up the other day, so I have my work cut out….

A box of goodies from PSC!A box of goodies from PSC!

Marder II - Getting it Table Top Ready

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After the application of the dip, I applied a matt varnish to make it easier to see the detail (I find Dip a little hard to work with when painting).

To lighten it up and bring out the edges, I give everything a quick dry brush using middlestone. I’ve then gone in and applied a Panzer Aces rubber to the wheels and glued the crew into place.

Marder II - Getting it Table Top Ready

I’ve had to pick out some of the tools again as some of the detail was a little covered.

Next up the tracks. I’ve given all of the tracks a base coat of Hull Red. I occasionally use Burnt Umber, both work well. Once dried, I apply a very light dry brush of gun metal, just enough to pick out the edges.

This just about completes things to a table top standard. I may come back to the model latter and apply some chipping and once I have a few more models to this stage, I’ll mix up some mud and apply this to all of the models at once. So for now, the Marders are complete and I can get working on something else – probably some vehicles for the Allies.

Marder II - Getting it Table Top Ready
Completed PlatoonCompleted Platoon

Marder II - Building and base coat

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After painting a lot of infantry, time for a change of pace. My Fallschirmjager need some heavier stopping power so I’m looking to put together some Marder II. These should be a match for most Allied armour (except maybe the Churchill VII!)

As you can see from the pictures below, the models are resin and metal – not my favourite combination as I always seem to have problems getting the resin parts to stick properly with the metal parts. But, I tend to stick green stuff in between the two with superglue and push hard. The green stuff gets into the gaps and increases the surface area and seems to hold much better. It also helps fill in any visible gaps.

Marder II - Building and base coat
Models ready for primingModels ready for priming

Having seen the abuse that John has received for not drilling out gun barrels, I’ve gone ahead and drilled mine out. One had a mini disaster and the muzzle break sheared off but we can just call this battle damage.

I primed using the Vallejo air brush primer and then gave everything a coat of Dunkelgelb. For cammo, I airbrush on lines of medium brown and then reflective green.

Cammo pattern going down (just the brown before the green)Cammo pattern going down (just the brown before the green)

I’ve then painted the tools (flat earth for the wood, gunmetal for the metal) and there wasn’t much else to do for base colours. I always leave the tracks until after the next step.

I’ve just gone for some simple German crosses on the transfer front. I’ve applied using decal fix and then, once dry, applied a gloss varnish over the top to protect the decal but also to stop the edge of the decal being visible.

I’ve then given the whole model a brushed on coat of strong tone dip and left to dry.

Dip applied and now driedDip applied and now dried

I’ve also painted up the crew separately (and lost the photos). For these, I just went with Luftwaffe grey and barbarian flesh, then applied the dip. Left to dry and then a matt varnish.

 

Commonwealth Infantry - finishing them off

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I decided that adding a few bushes to the bases would truly finish them off. To do this, I watered down some PVA 50:50 and added a mixture of clump foliage. Once this had thoroughly soaked through, I applied to the bases where I felt necessary.

Infantry baseInfantry base
Sniper teamSniper team
Pioneer/Engineer teamPioneer/Engineer team
MG TeamMG Team

I think I’ve had enough of painting infantry for a while, having knocked out well over 200 models. I think I’ll take on some armour next for variation.

Commonwealth Infantry - Basing and completing the models

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I’m going to use the roughly the same approach to basing that I used for the Fallschirmjager earlier in this project. I did however have a lot of problems in painting the pollyfilla in and around some of the models so this time, I’m going to try to colour the pollyfilla before application.

With no better idea, I simply mixed in a dark brown with the pollyfilla until all of the white had been coloured. In doing so, I was adding more liquid and just needed to plan a longer drying time. You can see the mixture in the photo below.

Once mixed, I simply applied the mixture in the same way as described in the Fallschirmjager basing below in this project (2nd photo). It takes time to tease the pollyfilla over the bases up to the boots but worth the effort. I then sprinkled with sand and added some small cork chips as rocks.

A spray varnish sealed the sand down although it did leave a satin finish. I then covered this with a dark brown wash (third photo).

I then began the highlighting steps starting with a heavy over brush of flat earth, then a dry brush of stone grey (1st photo) before ending in a very light dry brush of light grey (2nd photo). I then painted the visible plastic base flat earth and applied the platoon colour markings.

Finally, due to the satin finish and to protect the paint on the base, I went over everything again with a matt varnish (3rd and 4th photo)

During the Fallschirmjager basing, I felt that the flocking followed by static grass looked far better than just one or the other so I will repeat it here.

I simply applied random blobs of PVA to the base and sprinkled 3 different colours of flock over. Once dry, I applied a watered down PVA to the seal these in and once this dried, applied more pva over the flocked area and applied the static grass.

Flock appliedFlock applied
Completed modelCompleted model
Obligatory bum shotObligatory bum shot
The 3 Rifle Platoons, Pioneer Platoon, MG Platoon, HQ and Sniper TeamsThe 3 Rifle Platoons, Pioneer Platoon, MG Platoon, HQ and Sniper Teams

I may go back and add some small bushes, particularly to the snipers and MG teams who are more likely to have sought out the cover but for the time being, these are ready for the table top.

Now that I’ve completed all of the infantry for both sides of the battle, I can start on the armour that will be required for the later battles in Northern Italy.

Commonwealth Infantry - Base coats

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It’s been a long production line of painting, basically taking each colour at a time and applying it in turn to every model before starting the next colour. Not the most exciting painting approach but the most efficient.

Following the boots, I applied the following colours in this order,

Medium brown for the wooden rifle stocks and strap

Khaki to the belts, back packs, webbing and gaiters

Barbarian flesh to the skin

Olive drab to the water bottles

Reflective green to the helmets

Gunmetal to the barrels, SMGs and Bren Guns

Cavalry brown to the helmet straps

This left me with the following look

The entire companyThe entire company
Close up of the base coloured modelClose up of the base coloured model

Next up comes the shading. Like the Fallschirmjager before, I will brush on the quick shade medium as it is so simple and quick. It looks awful once dry but with a coat of matt varnish, it transforms the models.

A rear shotA rear shot
And the front of the same modelsAnd the front of the same models

If I had the time and patience, I would consider a light dry brush from here to really bring them out. But, time is not on my side and I also quite like the dark, dirty look. It reflects the state of the troops at Cassino. I think given the 15mm scale here you can get away without a dry brush, probably couldn’t at 28mm.

Next up will be the basing.

Commonwealth Infantry - Getting the base coat down

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While I have a couple of platoons of Gurkha, having seen the size of the German infantry I think that the allies need some additional boots on the ground. So I’ve started some Commonwealth infantry. I’m hoping these should be a little quicker to paint given that there is no cammo pattern to paint on.

These platoons will cover my use of British, NZ, Canadian, South African and Polish forces in the coming Italian campaign. (They’ll probably also cover for some Americans as well as I’m not going to get US army painted up in time!)

In this wave, I have 150 men making up,

1st and 2nd in command plus two sniper stands

3 full platoons of infantry

1 Pioneer engineering platoon

1 Hvy machine gun platoon

Let’s get started!

Having clipped and stuck the models to wooden sticks, they’ve all been given a prime. I then tried airbrushing on the main base colour, British Battledress but I don’t have an airbrush version. I tried diluting it, got a very watery consistency and gave up and painted it on.

Next I’ve gone through and painted the boots with a black/brown.

Clipped, stuck and primedClipped, stuck and primed
British Battledress base coat appliedBritish Battledress base coat applied
Boots painted. Boots painted.

Next step will be the flesh and then probably the webbing/backpacks etc. I’ll leave the helmets to last.

Fallschirmjager on Parade

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It’s been a marathon but I’ve now finished a company sized force of Fallschirmjager. They’re all based and packed away in their boxes, ready for the defence of Monte Cassino.

In total, the company has a bayonet strength of 201 and is made up of 45 bases. In it, we have;

1st and 2nd in command

a pioneer platoon

3 infantry platoons

1 heavy mortar platoon and 1 standard mortar platoon

1 heavy MG platoon

and a light infantry gun platoon.

This should prove a tough nut for the Allies to crack at Cassino.

Here's the entire army before I put them all away in their storage boxesHere's the entire army before I put them all away in their storage boxes
A full Infantry PlatoonA full Infantry Platoon
Fallschirmjager on Parade
Fallschirmjager on Parade
Fallschirmjager on Parade
Fallschirmjager on Parade

Now that I’ve completed the Fallschirmjager company, they will need a little heavier support, especially for their battles further North on the Gothic Line. So I will be looking to add some vehicles to their back them up.

I also need to expand the British Commonwealth forces, so this will probably be the next thing to work on – some more infantry platoons!

Fallschirmjager - Flocked and done

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It’s been a while and I’ve been busy completing the basing on both the infantry and the heavy weapon teams.

I’ve got myself a flock box to apply some static grass – I wasn’t happy with just flock as it didn’t look right. I’ve mixed up a lovely green grass with a browner one to try and recreate a winter turning to spring look – fitting with when the Battles of Cassino were fought. I’ve applied this in random patches and once complete, added some clump foliage soaked in watered down PVA.

I’ve tried two approaches, one just using static grass and another using flock with static grass applied over the top. I think I like the latter approach.

Here's a base with flock and then static grassHere's a base with flock and then static grass
And a base with just static grassAnd a base with just static grass

Fallschirmjager - Painting the bases

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This project is overdue an update although this is more to do with the length of time this step has taken. I’ve completed the painting of 49 bases of Fallschirmjager and this is the method I’ve used,

I’ve started with a base layer of a cheap, dark brown paint mixed with watered down PVA. This is to seal in the sand that was applied at the end of the last update while creating a base colour. As the paint is quite watery, it acts a bit like a wash and leaves the higher areas coloured but quite light. This will help with the shading.

First paint step dryFirst paint step dry

I’ve then applied an over brush of flat earth. This helps take down the reddish tint that the higher areas have following the last step.

I’m basing these models in spring at Monte Cassino. This is after the heavy rains and while the warm sun is now shining down. This has the effect of drying the top layers of earth and lightening them up considerably. To create this effect, I’ve applied a dry brush of Stone Grey

Fallschirmjager - Painting the bases

Finally, I’ve applied a very light dry brush of a light grey. This really adds some contrast to the bases. The rocks have been a thin stone grey layer.

I then complete the bases by painting around the very bottom with a flat earth and applying a platoon colour patch the back side of the base. This makes table top identification much easier. I also go the pointless extra step of numbering the squads in the platoon as well.

Once dry, I’ll give the whole base a quick spray of matt varnish.

The next step will be to add some flora to the bases, at which point, they will be finished and ready for battle!

The infantry platoons ready for their varnishThe infantry platoons ready for their varnish
Blue platoon, squad 1Blue platoon, squad 1
Front side of Blue Platoon, Squad 1Front side of Blue Platoon, Squad 1

Fallschirmjager - Basing 7 Platoons

Tutoring 6
Skill 6
Idea 4
No Comments

With all the painting done across the infantry, pioneer and heavy weapons platoons, it’s now time to base them all up. This won’t be quick but here’s how I base my FoW minis.

I use polyfilla for my basing for a number of reasons. It adds extra weight to the mini, is semi-sculptable so you can create mounds etc, really sticks the mini to the base and allows you to make the mini look as if it is ‘in the terrain’ rather than ‘on the terrain’ (if that makes any sense!).

I’d also point out that this approach needs to be done one base at a time, otherwise the polyfilla starts to dry and becomes unworkable.

Starting with the standard FoW base, I need to score the surface with a sharp knife. You need to be careful here as, like an idiot, I’ve cut myself several times!

Fallschirmjager - Basing 7 Platoons

Next smear on some polyfilla. I try to put around 2 to 3mm depth in the middle and shape it so that it contours down toward the edge of the base.

Fallschirmjager - Basing 7 Platoons

Now shove your FoW minis into the polyfilla in a suitable formation. I try to make each base look slightly different to break up the uniformity by changing positions of the models, putting more on one side of the base, sculpting mounds etc.

Fallschirmjager - Basing 7 Platoons

Now for the careful and time consuming bit. With a cocktail stick, some little extra bits of polyfilla and water, you can begin encouraging the polyfilla over the circular bases and up to the boots of the models. This takes time and care.

You can also sculpt extra features at this stage as well. For example, for the MG42 teams, I’ve created small fox holes for the models to be positioned in.

The delicate 'encouraging' process in actionThe delicate 'encouraging' process in action

Finally, once the polyfilla has been manipulated into position and any excess removed, I sprinkle some sand over the top for added texture. This all then gets left to dry for a good 24 hours.

Fallschirmjager - Basing 7 Platoons

Fallschirmjager Heavy Weapons

Tutoring 4
Skill 5
Idea 3
No Comments

I’ve now finished the Heavy Weapon teams. In this batch we have:

4 MG42 teams

4 Heavy Mortar teams

4 Light Mortar teams

4 Infantry gun teams

These have all been painted in exactly the same way as the Infantry platoons I posted here previously. I’ve put some pictures of the MG and mortar teams below.

I now need to base all of the Platoons (that’s 8 platoons in total and I make it something like 50 bases). I’ll post up the method I use to do my bases in the next update.

MG and Mortar teamsMG and Mortar teams
Closer shot of the MG teamsCloser shot of the MG teams

Fallschirmjager - Finishing the Painting

Tutoring 7
Skill 10
Idea 10
No Comments

A big thank you to all who gave advice on the issues I had with the matt varnish. I tested a couple of the options and while the olive oil created a slightly better solution, it wasn’t particularly noticeable, especially at 15mm. So I painted a gloss varnish over everything and then re-coated with a matt varnish. This seems to have corrected all of the problems you can see with the naked eye.

Following the extra work, I liked the dulled end results. At Cassino, the Fallschirmjager were shelled and bombed numerous times, so the dirty, dusty look fits. I wasn’t keen on the dulled metal work though so went back in and highlighted the gunmetal areas. I also added a brass to where the bullets would be in the MG belts.

Finally, I felt it needed just a little contrast, so I added little highlights of chrome to parts of the metal work where they might catch the light.

I now think that these are finished and ready for basing!

The completed 'hoard'The completed 'hoard'
This is the model that was badly affected by the matt varnish in the previous post. While there is still a little speckling, it's much improved (and you actually can't see it with the naked eye!)This is the model that was badly affected by the matt varnish in the previous post. While there is still a little speckling, it's much improved (and you actually can't see it with the naked eye!)
One of the squadsOne of the squads
Fallschirmjager - Finishing the Painting
MG CrewMG Crew
Fallschirmjager - Finishing the Painting
Command teamCommand team
Rear of the command team. Rear of the command team.

I have bought a box of Heavy Weapon squads to add some additional fire power. These include MG42 teams, light and heavy mortar team and a recoiless infantry gun.

I will paint these squads up before basing the whole lot in one go. I’ll paint these squads in exactly the same way as those I’ve just completed so will update this project when they are done.

Fallshirmjager - Shading

Tutoring 7
Skill 9
Idea 4
5 Comments

I’ve applied the Army Painter Quickshade strong tone to all of the models. This was put on with a brush rather than dipping as I think this gives a better result. The one problem I have with the dip is the end result has a very high gloss due to the varnish that makes up the product. Once the dip is dry, I prefer to apply some matt varnish as it is easier to see the detail and where to paint next. This is where I have hit a problem.

I used my usual spray matt varnish and, I can only think it was related to the heat/humidity here in Sussex, it has dried leaving a dusty, snowy look on some of the models. Not all are affected as you can see below but some are quite bad.

One of the largely unaffected modelsOne of the largely unaffected models
One of the badly affected modelsOne of the badly affected models

So I now need to figure out what to do – any suggestions welcome.

I don’t want to apply more dip as I think this will shade the miniature too much. I could apply some thin washes of the same colour as the underlying base colour in the hope that this will conceal the speckled varnish? Or I could just repaint them (but would prefer not to). Any other ideas????

Fallschirmjager- Base colours done

Tutoring 9
Skill 10
Idea 6
No Comments

I’ve now gone through the entire 4 platoons and applied the base colours. I’ve not taken pictures of each step as it is after all just applying some colour. However, for reference, these are the colours applied,

  • Flat flesh for the skin
  • Gunmetal for guns, metal canisters and the like
  • German Camo Dark Green for the helmets. Apparently leaving them as Dunkelgelb was also valid but I think the green looks better
  • Flat earth for all of the leather work

The flat flesh isn’t completely uniform as I had thinned it but given the scale, the need for the shading to be applied later and my lack of enthusiasm to apply another layer, I’ve left it as is. I honestly don’t think it will make much of a difference when completed.

My next step is to apply the shading. I’ll probably go with the quickshade mid tone and paint this on rather than dipping. I’m not a fan of dipping models

A selection of riflemenA selection of riflemen
Close up - note the lack of consistent coverage of the flat flesh (I'm sure it won't be an issue!)Close up - note the lack of consistent coverage of the flat flesh (I'm sure it won't be an issue!)
Some more troopsSome more troops
Fallschirmjager- Base colours done
Junior OfficerJunior Officer

Fallschirmjager - Brief update

Tutoring 9
Skill 9
Idea 6
2 Comments

The ammo pouches and shoulder strapping is now complete. These have been painted in Luftwaffe uniform.

I’ve also started on the rest of the base colours for the remainder of the model. I’ll post an update when that’s completed, hopefully very soon!

Painted strapping and a close up of my fingerPainted strapping and a close up of my finger
A junior officerA junior officer
And a senior officerAnd a senior officer

Fallschirmjager - Camo part 2

Tutoring 9
Skill 12
Idea 10
2 Comments

Having added the reflective green blobs across all of the tunics, I now need to add the brown. I’ve used Camo Beige for this.

Having looked at a few reference pictures, it appears that the brown in the camo pattern runs more in lines and so I have tried to apply it in short ‘slashes’ with the brush. Given the scale here, it was inevitable that these slashes would cover some of the green, which was why I applied the green first. Again, from the reference images, the green is very much secondary to the brown. I’ve also ignored all of the pouches, belts and ammo packs as these will get painted next so it doesn’t matter if these get camo pattern over them!

One of the Officers showing the brown 'slash' patternOne of the Officers showing the brown 'slash' pattern
A riflemanA rifleman
A chap with a toilet plungerA chap with a toilet plunger

Fallschirmjager- Starting the Camo

Tutoring 8
Skill 10
Idea 8
No Comments

Fallschirmjager camouflage is a base of Camo Beige with a Camo Medium Brown splinter pattern over the top, interspersed with patches of Reflective Green. I’ve primed my models with Dunkelgelb which is lighter than Camo Beige but as I plan to put a wash over the top, this should darken it down to roughly the right colour.

In 15mm, I’m going to start with the Reflective Green patches. If I were painting this in 28mm, I would do the green last as, at that scale, it would be easier to get the patches in the right spot. However, as the green in the pattern is the least prevalent colour, I’m going to put it on first and then apply the Camo Beige as this will cover some of the green. In short, given the number I need to paint and my limited skill, carefully applying the green over the brown won’t be an option, hence why green first in this project.

As you can hopefully see in the photos above, I’ve ‘blobbed’ the green over just the tunic. I’m not bothered whether I get it over the ammo pouches or elsewhere as these will get painted over later, so as long as it is only going on the tunic, I should be good here!

Fallschirmjager - First paint

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
Idea 10
No Comments

I’ve started with painting the bases beige brown, ready for when they get based. I’ve also painted all of the rifles and other wooden bits the same brown. I then went for the boots using a mix of black and dark grey. This lifts the colour off of the black and, in my view, looks a little more realistic.

Fallschirmjager - First paint

Next step was to apply a Luftwaffe uniform grey to the trousers and the officer’s hats.

My next step will be to start on the camouflage patterns, probably with a reflective green.

Fallschirmjager - Ready to start painting

Tutoring 7
Skill 3
Idea 8
No Comments

It took the best part of an evening to cut out all of the models from the sprues and stick them to wooden sticks ready for priming. I will use the PSC Dunkelgelb spray primer for getting the first colour down as this should significantly speed up the process. Normally I would have used my airbrush, but I didn’t fancy that.

Fallschirmjager - Ready to start painting

Seeing them all laid out like that, I can see this being a bit of a grind. I thought about taking it a platoon at a time but I think I may just bite the bullet and do them all in one go in a production line approach.

Fallschirmjager - Starting the marathon

Tutoring 2
Skill 2
Idea 6
No Comments

I need an HQ and a number of rifle platoons to flesh out my 1st Fall. army. To this end, I’ve picked up the Fallschirmjager platoon box and the heavy weapon box from Plastic Soldier Company. I’ll start with the rifle platoons.

Fallschirmjager - Starting the marathon

This box has enough for an HQ, Panzerschreck team and then three full platoons of Command base and 9 bases of 4 men each. I’ve also gone through the heavy weapon box and there are some spare models that I can make into a small pioneer platoon as well. In total, I’ve got around 145 models to paint up.

The Forces

Tutoring 1
Skill 2
Idea 4
No Comments

As much as I would like to paint everything, I need to focus on specific forces. I’ve already painted some up and I will post pictures of these first before looking at what else is needed to complete each company.

For the Battle of Monte Cassino, the Germans had in position the 1st Fallschirmjager and while there were other divisions present, it was the 1st Fall. that doggedly defended the heights of Monte Cassino during the battles. So I will base my force around the 1st Fallschirmjager.

For the Allies, several nationalities were involved in the battles but I will look to create 2nd NZ Armoured and infantry from the 4th British Indian, most likely some Gurkhas.

For the battles in Northern Italy, I will focus upon the 26th Panzer. For the Allies, I will draw from the British 8th Army and focus in on the North Irish Horse tank regiment who used the Churchill tanks while reusing the Gurkha and other British Indian troops

The Background Blurb

Tutoring 0
Skill 0
Idea 10
No Comments

I’d like to briefly explain why I’m looking at Monte Cassino and Northern Italy. I was first drawn into WW2 through some of the BoW Flames of War vlogs. Previous to this, I had not gamed historical battles and had mainly been interested in Sci-Fi and Fantasy gaming. After spending some time looking at FoW and WW2 I decided to take the plunge and found myself particularly enjoying the history and geo-political background to the gaming. This was all helped by some of the excellent History articles penned by @Oriskany et al.

I felt that Northern Europe and the Eastern Front had been covered extensively and I wanted to consider some other theatres of WW2 without getting too obscure. Italy looked an interesting bet, particularly as the Royal Sussex Regiment (I live in Sussex) and the Royal Essex Regiment (my home county were involved). My wife is South African and I also found that there were several SA divisions involved in the fighting. So, even with such tenuous connections, it seemed a good choice.

Italy also provides a great representation of the effort the Commonwealth and the world in general committed to supporting the Allies. The British Army alone contained Polish, Canadians, New Zealanders, Indians and South Africans. The Free French also fought and included forces from Morocco and Tunisia. The US were well represented on the Italian peninsula and part of the US forces also included the Brazilian Expeditionary Force.

Monte Cassino was a particularly hard fought series of battles starting 12th January 1944 and German resistance lasted until their eventual retreat on 17th May. The efforts and heroic actions on both sides defy my comprehension and during the course of the battles, the British army handed out five Victoria Crosses. Following the capture of Monte Cassino, the Allied forces were able to break through the Gustav defensive line and push North to meet up with the US VI Corp who had landed at Anzio on 22nd January and had been hard pushed to hold their positions. The link up of the two groups opened the road to Rome and Northern Italy.

My terrain build project can be found here:

https://www.beastsofwar.com/project/1222955/#snav