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Robert’s Historical Miniatures and Musings (Slow Grow League)

Robert’s Historical Miniatures and Musings (Slow Grow League)

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Project Blog by robert

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About the Project

A project log to keep track of the historical miniatures I am painting, games I play and also any historical musings I may have. I'm a very amateur historian so please take anything I say with a pinch of salt and a healthy dose of scepticism. Don't be afraid to pass on any advice, direct me to resources, tell me I'm wrong or correct me. Currently working on the Hit The Beach boxed set for FoW, and trying to find information on my two great uncles who served in the North Irish Horse during WWII in North Africa and Italy.

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August Update - Will I Be Sent to the Eastern Front?

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Skill 2
Idea 1
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August has not been a good month for my Germans, I have been distracted by other things.  I do fear being sent to face the Russians for my failures!

I only finished one tank… and it is a tank that never made the battlefield!  The fear of someone pulling a @warzan and putting weird shit on the table motivated me to build and paint this (I am buying another one).

August Update - Will I Be Sent to the Eastern Front?
August Update - Will I Be Sent to the Eastern Front?
August Update - Will I Be Sent to the Eastern Front?

September will be better.  Marders, Stugs, some Tigers plus halftracks, artillery and infantry are waiting for a paint job!  September is the month we fight back and hopefully get lots of Fallschirmjager  on the table as well.

August Update - Will I Be Sent to the Eastern Front?

D-Day German Book...

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Skill 3
Idea 4
4 Comments

While eating my porridge this morning, I got very excited when the post van pulled up outside the house (makes a change from police cars!)  I’ve been expecting goodies!  Now the postman might have thought my hug was a bit forward, but I was just so excited…

D-Day German Book...

Big thanks to Chris at Battlefront and Gerry from OTT for sorting this out for me.  I do appreciate it!  I believe I won it for posting the most crap on the Battlefront Hobby Hangout (RIP) stream!

Anyway I have had a quick scan through it, and I must say, the production quality is top notch.  So many options as well, I am confused (though that doesn’t take much).

From an Battlefront and OTT perspective, it was a good investment sending me this, as I have just went and pre-ordered a small force of Fallschirmjager!

Decals and finished the Big Boy.

Tutoring 3
Skill 5
Idea 5
4 Comments
My ability to use decals when to hell last night, ruined 3!  Really not like me as I had a lot of practice doing train decals in my youth!  My ability to use decals when to hell last night, ruined 3! Really not like me as I had a lot of practice doing train decals in my youth!
The Maus is so big it blocked out the sun, so please excuse the shitty pictures! The Maus is so big it blocked out the sun, so please excuse the shitty pictures!
Decals and finished the Big Boy.
Decals and finished the Big Boy.
You bring a UFO or some sort of Werewolf Platoon, and I am bringing the Maus... Don't you dare come at me :) You bring a UFO or some sort of Werewolf Platoon, and I am bringing the Maus... Don't you dare come at me :)

Tracks, Road Wheels and Pin Washes

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Exciting update but important work done.

As well as the Panzer and Maus, getting the tracks of the Marders painted as well.  As well as the Panzer and Maus, getting the tracks of the Marders painted as well.
Base coat of Saddle Brown and a Nuln Oil wash as per Colours of WarBase coat of Saddle Brown and a Nuln Oil wash as per Colours of War
Dry drush of Oily Steel on tracks, Abaddon Black on the road wheels, and some of the equipment on the tank.Dry drush of Oily Steel on tracks, Abaddon Black on the road wheels, and some of the equipment on the tank.
Pin wash of Gloss Nuln Oil done.  I think you can see it.  Pin wash of Gloss Nuln Oil done. I think you can see it.

Getting there with the Panzers and the Maus.  The tracks and road wheels will probably get a bit of weathering, so I’ve put a bit too much effort in and it will disappear under some mud or something!  I am tempted to try the pigment, static grass and Mig Acrylic binder thing and see how it looks on these.

My sleeplessness is continuing, lucky to get 4-5 hours solid sleep (which is actually good compared too many), so a few more movies watched.

 

Kasym – The blurb from film.ua – 

The film is based on the true story of Kasym Kaysenov, a famous Soviet scout and officer of special reconnaissance, a national hero of Kazakhstan and a man of exceptional bravey, who fought on the grounds of Ukraine during World War II.

It’s summer of 1942. Nazis are planning a massive operations against the Soviet lands, and Kasym is tasked with destroying enemy fuel storage depots. As his entire subversion group is demised, Kasym filnds himself alone behind the enemy lines. In this life and death situation Kasym manages to complete his mission with the help of local civilians.

Hard to watch as every time anything was said in German, a lovely Russian lady provided a translation in Russian.  Made it hard going at times. Not bad at all, found it a bit far fetched at times, but again another movie that could be turned into a game or scenarios for your games.

Tanks for Stalin – Cheesy as hell, but I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed Fury.    Worth it alone for the vast amount of footage of T-34s driving through the countryside, and the very beautiful women dressed in a German uniform.  Think Helga from Allo Allo, but younger! I’m a big fan of Russian war movies at the moment.  

Pork Chop Hill – With Bolt Action Korea generating some excitement I thought I would watch something a bit different, and this was the first Korean War movie I found.  It also was in English so not having to read subtitles was great. It was in Black and White though as it is from 1959. This is a thought provoking movie, two sides fighting over a hill that ultimately means nothing to either side.  Also shows a side to war a lot of movies don’t show, the importance of communication and intelligence. Well worth a watch. Gregory Peck is the star of the movie, and I don’t remember him firing his weapon during it, which I found strange, but possibly due to his opposition to the Korean War and war in general. 

Path of Glory –  Directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Kirk Douglas, this is a wonderful movie.  It has a very anti-war message and Douglas is magnificent in the lead role.  I believe this movie was filmed in German, they used a ton (literally) of explosives when filming a scene were the French troops go over the top.  The French took great exception to how the French Army was portrayed in the movie and banned it as well.  I do recommend watching this if you haven’t before.  

Currently watching a 2018 movie called The Battle of Bulge.  It has bad ratings on Amazon and IMDB but I don’t think it is too bad so far.

Progress on the Panzer IVs

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Panzers before a gloss VarnishPanzers before a gloss Varnish

Panzers after airbrushing on some camo.  I quite like them.  They are now curing after getting a gloss varnish.  This will let me add decals, do pin washes and easily clean up any mistakes I make when painting the tracks and stuff. I also painted my Maus.

 

Progress on the Panzer IVs

I’ve also given a lot of other bits and pieces a quick prime, ready for some bank holiday painting… though it is more likely I will spend most of tomorrow weeding and digging up the garden, plus painting a fence 1:1 scale 🙁

 

Progress on the Panzer IVs
Progress on the Panzer IVs

Quick Update - They haven't pushed us out of Normandy yet!

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Skill 5
Idea 5
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I’ve been distracted by the forces of Nurgle and my Germans haven’t had the same amount of time or hobby love given to them recently, but I have got a few more bits to go from the factory to the paint shop.

 

Quick Update - They haven't pushed us out of Normandy yet!

This box should keep me painting for a while, there should be enough in this box for August’s 25 points to add to July’s 50 points (if I ever paint those 4 Panzer IVs I keep saying I need to paint).

Not everything is or is going to be Battlefront in my final force.  I picked up some PSC bargains (Panzer IIIs and more Stugs) and the Zveda are mostly things I had in a box.  There is a bit of a size difference between the companies but Battlefront are the easiest to build, and are a bit chunkier so seem more robust for playing to me.  I will try and keep the slow grow stuff Battlefront as they are running the league.

I do need to work out if the Panzer IIIs I bought are even suitable.  I know some did fight in Normandy but they were knocked out relatively quickly – again it is hard to find reliable information at times as so much of what is out there (especially on forums) is either contradictory or plagiarised.  Some of the content I have seen this week from supposed “history gurus” has been embarrassing to the point that there should be a public warnings put on it.  But anyway

 

Quick Update - They haven't pushed us out of Normandy yet!

I’ve added a bit of stowage to these Panzer IVs.  These are going to be more beaten up than the others, guys who have been in the thick of the action, while some of the others bits of armour that are less damaged will represent the reinforcements being funnelled into Normandy.

 

Getting the boom booms built as well!  Getting the boom booms built as well!

I’ve also ended up watching more war movies during a day of being in bed with Nurgle’s Rot (well between bed and the bathroom 🙁 ).  The first was Invincible.  The blurb for it…

‘Invincible’ is an action-packed true story about heroism in the face of imminent death. Following a tank captain and his heroic crew during manoeuvres against the enemy on the battlefields of WWII, ‘Invincible’ tells the story of a small group of men achieving an inconceivable victory against almost insurmountable odds.

It didn’t make me want to paint my Panzers or buy KV2s, but it was better than Fury.  I liked it but could understand why actually movie buffs wouldn’t.

The second movie I watched, I thought was brilliant – Fortress of War.  Again in Russian with subtitles, this was gritty and really did show war in all its horrors.  The young boy who played the main character also did an amazing job.  Perhaps will look into the history of the Brest Fortress and the German attack on it at a later date.  No Russian tanks so wasn’t that tempted at going out and buying some – lots of infantry though and luckily I have some in 28mm so not that tempted.

(oh the trailer below is the German one).

 

Monday's Movies - I've been on a binge!

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Monday's Movies - I've been on a binge!

As I have got older, I have watched less and less movies.  My attention span just isn’t what it used to be and I find my mind drifts off – ten minutes later I stop day dreaming but I’ve missed the most important bits of the movie!  This last week has been a lot different… My sleep pattern has went up the left and rather than spend hours tossing and turning in the middle of the night trying to get back to sleep, I’ve just put on a few movies.  The Slow Grow League has inspired me and the movies I put on have mostly been WW2 related… It has given me too many ideas for future project though!  This is just to act as a reminder for myself.

One caveat, I am not a movie buff, or really that knowledgeable about WW2, so some of my views will be interesting (or shite) to say the least.

A Bridge Too Far
This is not the first time I have watched this movie, I must have watched it in my early teens, but what an amazing movie.  It may have taken 3 nights to watch, but if I owned any 15mm British paratroopers they would have all been painted by now.  Does anyone do Sean Connery and Gene Hackman looking figures from this movie?  I’d sure like to paint them.  Older Robert appreciates this movie more and I am interested in looking into Market Garden more and also, in regards to the movie, why Richard Attenborough didn’t cast Monty or have him involved in the movie in more than name… seems a strange one.

The nerd in me also noticed that SS were in the wrong uniform and the German equipment was painted in early war rather than late war colours… but I still really enjoyed the movie and perhaps after getting my D-Day Germans and Americans done, I will paint up some British for this part of the late war story – I need to do an artillery battery, the scene above is awesome!

Fury
First time watching it and I thought it was shite.  It could have been interesting, thought provoking, and a modern reflection of war through the eyes of these tankers but the last third of the movie ensured that it wasn’t.  Is there a Crimes against War Movies court?  I am tempted to do an objective marker of the Fury tank wrecked for my games – though no amount of tiny fighty men could save this movie from being an abomination.

Hell River
I watched this due to one of the lead actors, a hero of my youth and still  the best Batman, Adam West!

According to the movie, this is based on a true story and I did really enjoy it.  Basically it is a story of Yugoslavian partisans fighting against the Germans with some love interest thrown in as well… I really enjoyed this movie, despite some interesting acting, and given the different scene in the movies, could be turned into a nice little campaign or day of gaming.

Attack Force Z
Starring Mel Gibson and Sam Neill before they really hit the big time!  Sam Neill was also born in County Tyrone in Ireland/Northern Ireland/Ulster and his father served in the Irish Guards (I think that is the right regiment) so we will claim him as one of our own!

Another movie I really enjoyed and another that could be turned into a series of different scenarios for games.  One thing I really liked was there were no subtitles for the Japanese soldiers, so you had no idea what they were saying.  I think it added to the convert nature of the movie – the reason for the mission only gets revealed well into the movie.

War Pigs

The most surprising thing about this movie is actually how good an actor I thought Luke Goss was.  Before I was infected with the Heavy Metal bug… I liked Bros – 1987/88 was a confusing time for a 9 year old.. When Will I be Famous is still a catchy tune!  Anyway, this is just a paint by numbers Action Movie, set in WW2, but it entertained me for an hour and a half, though it did bring back bad memories of liking Bros and Tiffany!   The SS uniforms and vehicle colours actually looked right to my untrained eye.

Finally, last night, I watched a documentary called The Wereth Eleven.  Interesting piece of history from The Ardennes in 1944 – though i’m not a bit fan of the way it was dramatised with action scenes put in between the actual interviews and such.  Maybe something I can return to if I go on to do The Battle of the Bulge.

New Toys and a Little Progress

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I won a £20 voucher at the OTT 40K Hobby Weekend, so I used that to buy some Marders (and some American things for later on). So today I have got them ready for priming!

New Toys and a Little Progress

Also at the Hobby Weekend I was chatting with fellow German Slow Grow League participant, Gaz, about how he goes about painting his models. He mentioned he leaves the tracks off until he paints them, and while it is obvious my little brain never contemplated it, so I am going to give it a go. His models are also more lovely in real life than in his project and can’t wait to see what else he plans to do.

At the end of the weekend I also watched Gaz and Gerry play a game. It was around 50 points and it looks a nice system and now I am looking forward to playing some games with my Germans… when I get caught up!

I have also started to build the rest of my German Starter Army. I’m not going to do that for the side skirts on all the tanks, but I will do a few that look really beaten up!

New Toys and a Little Progress
New Toys and a Little Progress
New Toys and a Little Progress

Panzer IV

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Skill 6
Idea 6
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Panzer IV
Panzer IV

Calling the tank finished, just have the little Tank Commander to get painted now.  Next few Panzers will be less tree and more tank.

Panzer IV
Panzer IV

The Story So Far

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Skill 5
Idea 5
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The Story So Far
The Story So Far
The Story So Far
The Story So Far
The Story So Far

If You Go Down To The Woods Today....

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Skill 7
Idea 6
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If You Go Down To The Woods Today....
If You Go Down To The Woods Today....
If You Go Down To The Woods Today....
If You Go Down To The Woods Today....

A couple of bits and pieces to still do.

Work In Progress.

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Skill 6
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A Panzer, a Panther and Stug walk into a bar...

Work In Progress.
Work In Progress.
Work In Progress.

…and the bar man says the Panzer should be repainted.  I am happy with the other two.  Decals, finish the tracks off, pick out the detail and a little weathering still need doing, plus a bit of bush.

Can’t wait to getting back to infantry, I think I know what I am doing with those!

To Airbrush Or Not To Airbrush...

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…that is a question?

First, an update.  I had some trucks in my plastic mountain, so got them built up.  PSC and one Zvezda.  I’ve went for four Opel Blitz trucks, one Mercedes truck and an Opel Blitz Maultier.

To Airbrush Or Not To Airbrush...

Then yesterday I got undercoating.  Though the pictures doesn’t show it all, I got 6 trucks, 5 Panzer IV, 1 Maus, 1 Panther, and 1 Stug all undercoated in Vallejo Dunkelgerb Polyurethane Primer.  I left them overnight so the primer had time to cure properly (honestly I normally leave it at least 24 hours).

Then this morning I got onto airbushing my camo.  I don’t have a lot of experience with my airbrush for anything over than basecoating or varnishing.  Its actually been the first time I have used in 18 months and even then that was to undercoat some Dwarfs.  No idea when I had actually used it before then.

Anyway, I have experimented on the Maus, one Opel Blitz, the Stug and the Panther.  The Maus and Opel Biltz were a bit of a disaster and the Stug didn’t really go to plan either but the Panther isn’t bad.

To Airbrush Or Not To Airbrush...

So to answer the question “to airbrush or not to airbrush”… my answer is both yes and no.  I’ll definitely airbrush the primer down, and maybe a highlight on the Dunkelgerb but I don’t think I should do the camo with the airbrush just yet as I haven’t got the skill or experience.  Perhaps I need to start on something bigger like my large collection of unpainted 1/56 or even 1/72 stuff first.

The Maus and Blitz are going to get a fresh coat of Dunkelgerb, and I will get the brush out to work on the Panther and Stug.  The awful bits are going to get covered in either weathering, camo netting or bits of vegetation.

July Progress Report

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July Progress Report

Goal for July was as follows

  • Panzergrenadier Company HQ (2 x MP40 SMG team) (2 points)
  • Panzergrenadier Platoon (7 x MG34 team, + Panzerfaust, + 1 Panzerschreck team) (13 points)
  •  7.5cm Tank Hunter Platoon (2 x 7.5cm gun) (7 points)
  • Panzer IV Tank Platoon (5 x Panzer IV (7.5cm)) (28 points)

Total – 50 points

Unfortunately I didn’t get my Panzer IVs completed but I am not going to call this a failure, just a slight set back.  I am quite happy of the infantry and the Pak 40s and normally I am my own biggest critic.

I have a friend who has loaned me a decent camera and a macro lens, but I don’t have a clue about setting it up or anything but hopefully I will have some decent pictures soon as well as 5 Panzer IVs painted!

July Progress Report

Work in Progress

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Just a quick update.  Pak 40s getting some work done.  Excuse the glossy crew.  Need to decide whether I should add camo or not.

Work in Progress
Work in Progress

I also got a new book this week.

Work in Progress

Having just glanced through it and reading just a wee bit, if I base these Germans on the 21st Panzer Division, I could do some two coloured camo, and would need to add plenty of vegetation onto my tanks.  This was due to the Allies air superiority and the German tank crews trying to stay hidden.

Read that on paper a Panzer Regiment in Normandy in 1944 would have consisted of

  • 160 tanks
  • 60 tracked vehicles
  • 200 trucks
  • 70 cars
  • 60 motorcycles
  • 1934 men

Not surprised by this but it does make you think.  Also had my heart broken when it said there were no Hetzers used in the Battle of Normandy.  Just means I will have to build another German army so I can include some!

Monday Musings - 22nd July, The Banbridge Belgians

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Monday Musings - 22nd July, The Banbridge Belgians

Rather than a rant today, an interesting bit of local history and how my granny had a Belgian penpal due to WW2.

Sunday, 21st July, is Belgium National Day, and according to Flemish Broadcaster, VRT, it is celebrated on this day to commemorate the date of King Leopold I’s accession to the throne in 1831 following independence from the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1830.  So yesterday in Brussels a large military parade took place to celebrate not only Belgium National Day but also to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Belgium from Nazi Germany. Over 100,000 watched on as members of the Belgium Army, Navy, and Veterans paraded to remember these events.  The parade also included a number of WW2 vehicles, including the much loved Beast of War favourite, the Sherman Firefly!

While not a Firefly in the video below, we have another type of cavalry that took part in the parade yesterday.

Noticing it was Belgian National Day, I remembered a conversation I had with a family member some months back and them telling me about how my maternal grandmother had a Belgian penpal, who had been a soldier in the Belgian Army and they had met during WW2.  Initially I didn’t believe this story and thought my family member was losing their marbles, but a quick bit of research covered my face in egg, and I found out they were correct!

Banbridge is a town in County Down, Northern Ireland and it sits on the River Bann, so you can guess how it got its name.  My maternal grandmother was from Banbridge and I spent many a Saturday visiting her in this little town. She was quite the character.  Loved sport, especially Manchester United and she hated Liverpool with a passion. She mothered eleven children, but how did she met a member of the Belgian army?

The story begins with Allied Troops entering Belgium on 2nd September 1944.  Most of Belgium was liberated quite quickly, but wasn’t completely liberated until February 1945 due to Hilter’s final throw of the dice and the offence in the Ardennes, which we know better as the Battle of the Bulge. 

Below is a news/propaganda video from British Pathé of British troops entering Brussels.   

In December 1944, the Belgium’s asked the British to help raise and train a new Belgian 1st Army Core.  This was to consist of 2 Infantry Divisions with 3 Infantry Brigades in each. The beginning of 1945 saw the 2nd Infantry Brigade arrive in Northern Ireland for training and by May 1945 and the end of the war in Europe, the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Infantry Brigades would also be training in Northern Ireland.  The last Belgian soldier left Northern Ireland in December 1945.

Some of the camps these soldiers stayed and trained where located near Banbridge, home of my granny, mother and the rest of the clan.  The Wartime NI website (https://wartimeni.com) suggests that while some of the more unscrupulous shopkeepers in the area took advantage of the newly arrived Belgiums, many families took pity on the young men offering good Northern Irish hospitality and some went as far as “adopting” a young soldier.  This is how I suspect that my granny met the Belgian Soldier. The friendship lasted over the years, with letters and Christmas cards being exchanged. Marriages, births and sadder times were shared amongst these good friends. We don’t know if he ever returned to visit, or even his name,  all that history is sadly lost, but the Wartime Guilford Website (https://www.wartimegilford.com/) suggests that many soldiers did return to visit, laying wreaths at the local cenotaphs and meeting with friends made during their time in Northern Ireland.  

An amusing story also exists regarding the formation badges of these infantry brigades.  Due to training in Northern Ireland it was decided to include the shamrock on the badge.   Unfortunately the first batch of badges arrived with yellow shamrocks. An angry letter was soon sent from the top brass complaining that they could never show their faces in public without ridicule with these badges, and soon badges with green shamrocks appeared!  

Notice the yellow shamrock on this 6th Brigade Badge - source http://www.be4046.eu/Deynse.htmNotice the yellow shamrock on this 6th Brigade Badge - source http://www.be4046.eu/Deynse.htm
Now the shamrock is in green, and the Belgians can now face their Northern Irish hosts - source http://www.be4046.eu/Deynse.htm Now the shamrock is in green, and the Belgians can now face their Northern Irish hosts - source http://www.be4046.eu/Deynse.htm

A bit of basing

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Burnt Umber and black on the lips.  Burnt Umber and black on the lips.
War World Scenics 2mm Summer GrassWar World Scenics 2mm Summer Grass
More grass where I missed bits and some Javis Clump Foliage added.  More grass where I missed bits and some Javis Clump Foliage added.
Tufts, flowers and moss patches from a wide variety of sources.  Tufts, flowers and moss patches from a wide variety of sources.

Just needs a matt varnish and I will have completed the first Platoon of my German Unit.  They all have the same coloured flowers as that is how I am going to tell the different platoons apart on the battlefield.  Probably not needed but you never know.

Why Hairspray and Varnish Don't Mix!

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So I thought I had some infantry bases finally finished last night but by taking a short cut these troopers were nearly ordered to go into a bath of Dettol!  I wouldn’t have made a very good officer, it seems.

I’m a big fan of using hairspray as a sealer for terrain especially anything that has flock and static grass on it.  It holds things in place really well, is cheap and as a bald person it is quite novel buying hair products in a supermarket or chemist!  I normally don’t use it on models but I decided to take a short cut last night.

My typical varnish routine is 2 coats of gloss and then a coat of matt.  It is probably overkill but it is the way I was taught to do it years ago, and never had any major problems with it.  I also tend to brush on varnish or sometimes airbrush it on because I have seen too many horror stories with people farting about with aerosols.  I hate aerosols full stop, including primers, but this is not a rant about them…

So yesterday when basing my wee men, the soldiers had already two coats of gloss, and I planned to use my airbrush to apply a matt coat, which would also seal the static grass and flowers on the bases.  Stupidly I decided to use hairspray to seal the grass and paint on the matt varnish as I thought it would be quicker than setting the airbrush up.

A couple of hours after spraying the bases I started to put the matt varnish on.   I did try to avoid getting the hairspray on the figures but it was impossible to completely avoid it and some of the models must have gotten quite a bit on them.  What I also didn’t realise at the time of brushing on the varnish was that it reactivated the hairspray and as I moved the matt varnish about with the brush, it actually lifted some of the paint and gloss varnish off the model… I don’t exactly know how as I thought the gloss would have been good enough protection.

You can see the results below.  Quite a few wee bits to fix up and a lesson in not rushing and deviating from the plan and the tried and tested method.

Hobby Tip - Filling in Holes in 15mm Infantry

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I may be very wrong here, but when I see holes in figures like the one shown above, I have always assumed them to be made by Ejector Pins that are used to help “eject” the sprues from the moulds in the manufacturing process.

Anyway, I like to fill the wee holes as they look weird if you leave them and your paint doesn’t fill them in.  The easy and quickest way I have found is to use homemade liquid green stuff.

Hobby Tip - Filling in Holes in 15mm Infantry

This “green stuff” could be any colour you want as it is simply made by dissolving plastic sprue in plastic cement.  Cut your left over sprue up into tiny pieces (the smaller the pieces the quicker the sprue will melt) and add enough until you get a consistency you like.  More on this here https://www.beastsofwar.com/project-entry/1378144/

Then all you need is a tooth pick or what tool you are most comfortable using to fill the hole and, hey presto, no more silly looking soldiers!

Hobby Tip - Filling in Holes in 15mm Infantry

Monday Musing - Some Dude on YouTube

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Perhaps a bit of a rant as well as a few thoughts of who we trust in a world of information.

As you may be aware I have recently become interested in doing a little historical research on members of my family who served with the North Irish Horse (NIH) during WW2. My great uncle Issac comes from the paternal side of the family. He passed when I was a teenager and I knew him quite well as he lived in the same town as myself. I have many fond memories of him. During the war he acted as a tank driver and after the war he worked as a signalman on the railways. To a young boy, these were the two best jobs ever!

The other family member, another great uncle, whom I don’t remember ever meeting, comes from the maternal side of the family and I didn’t know that he actually existed and served with Uncle Issac until my mother mentioned it to me a short time ago. This discovery was the catalyst that has stimulated the desire to learn more about the campaigns in North Africa, the war in Italy, the North Irish Horse and the role my two great uncles played.

As I have begun to dip my toe into learning more about the North African and Italian campaigns that the NIH took part in, two things have struck me. Firstly, I didn’t know where to start as there is so much information out there. I was going to say too much information but couldn’t decide if I was being literal or metaphorical by using the word too. Secondly, and the main point of this musing, I don’t know who to trust and whether the information that I am watching or reading is factually correct. How do I know that “Some Dude on YouTube”, the blogger, the Twitter handle, the author is actually trustworthy and the information I am reading, watching or listening to is actually right?

DAMMIT

I loved history at school until a change of teacher resulted in history lessons morphing from something that epitomised the joy of learning to the bore of repeated lessons of pure dictation. Instead of time spent using DAMMIT (Date, Author, Mode, Motive, Information and Tone) to analyse sources, it was hours of continual writing and boredom. This pushed me down the path of maths and economics and I ended up spending six years studying economics when history was something I had more interest in at the time. While I don’t have the skills of a historian (an A in GCSE history doesn’t cut the mustard), I was always encouraged to think critically and have developed a set of research and analytical skills through my education and working life.

Yet still in this world of information I am confused. I struggle with a lack of citations, I don’t know where information comes from – though not listing my sources is something I am guilty of this myself. I don’t have access to academic journals, or a fully furnished university library. The internet is now my biggest resource. A polished looking article or blog post could be based on the ramblings of “Some Dude on YouTube” and if this dude is incorrect then so is the article. I think we all have come across examples of people unknowingly passing of fiction as fact.

Is the Library a lie?

I used to be trusting of books, but now I am not so sure. The standard of editorial work and fact checking in publishing these days does not seem to be up to the rigors of earlier years. Some authors are also guilty of not being as meticulous with their research as in the past. I recently had a relative visit for a few days, they also happen to be a history teacher. They were reading a history book aimed at children they had purchased from a museum and they were actually appalled at the number of mistakes and historically incorrect information that had been written. Dates were wrong, and events described that were chronologically incorrect and factually wrong. This was not a difference in interpretation, but was clearly presenting wrong information as fact. We can all disagree with each others interpretation of the facts, and it is why I find historical debates so fascinating, but some facts are indisputable. Some leeway should be allowed when you are simplifying events for children but it does not excuse wrong dates and being factually incorrect.

There are so many Dudes on YouTube, dare I say, masquerading as historians. The information is professionally presented but sometimes I wonder how unbiased or accurate the video is. You can’t even go back through their sources as they don’t list them. Don’t get me wrong, there are many great resources out there but it all comes back to the point of this musing, I find it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I also see many people describe themselves as historians on their websites, blogs and Twitter descriptions. To me, someone is an historian if they are employed or making their living in the field. They have been trained and their abilities scrutinised, and not just by their internet peers. I don’t call myself an economist, as I don’t work as one, but have the training and skills to be one.

It is also not always easy to check the credentials of these so called historians. Perhaps this is academic and intellectual snobbery on my behalf, but a Twitter handle retweeting other people’s work, pictures or articles does not make you a historian. I have described myself as a very amateur historian in this project and even then history aficionado or wannabe would be a more accurate statement.

I don’t have the answers to my conundrum, I don’t have enough background knowledge, skills or the intelligence to differentiate between good history and bad history. All I can do is fact check, and check some more. I will not be relying on only one source, I will be listening to podcasts, watching “Some Dude on YouTubes” videos and reading all the material I can get my hands on, checking the accuracy of the information as I go along. I will be reaching out to others for help, love getting advice and would appreciate if people come and correct me if I am wrong. But perhaps don’t get me started on Wikipedia or people who think knowledge or intelligence is based on the ability to type in a search bar.

Wash and Highlights - German Infantry continued

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
Idea 8
4 Comments

Today didn’t really go to plan thanks to some gardening, getting bitten by ants and a very long afternoon nap but on with the show.

For this model I used three colours of GW wash.  For the uniform and helmet I used Nuln Oil, for the skin I used Reikland Fleshshade and Agrax Earthshade for everything else.  Next time I might go back to the Army Painter Tones to get a different effect or just use Agrax all over so that not every German looks exactly the same.   Pictures are shown below… bad pictures I may add.  Except for the use of GW Abaddon Black, all other colours are Vallejo.

Wash and Highlights - German Infantry continued
Wash and Highlights - German Infantry continued

Following this I did highlights.  The boots got a Flat Brown and Beige Brown mix.  The uniform got a highlight of German Field Grey, followed by another more focused highlight of Field Grey and a little Ivory mixed in. Helmet got a highlight of German Dark Camo Green, followed by another with a little German Field Grey added in.  I then added some of the Field Grey/Ivory mix I just used on the uniform and did a final focused highlight.  The gas mask canister also got the same treatment.

This time I added Beige Brown to the black to highlight the black leather parts.  The weapon was highlighted with a repeat of the base coat, Dark Yellow, followed by another highlight with a little Ivory mixed in.  I quite liked the look of the skin, so left it alone.

I also painted a black dot to represent the hole in the barrel of the weapon after some feedback from the very helpful Gaz!   I’ll show how I do Splinter Camo on one of the models wearing a smock, so you can actually see it better.

Wash and Highlights - German Infantry continued
Wash and Highlights - German Infantry continued

I hope this is useful to someone. Tomorrow is another day, hopefully I won’t be as stiff as I am now and the ant bites stop itching!

Base Layer Tutorial - German Infantry

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
Idea 8
4 Comments

I use the word tutorial very loosely as the word does imply that I know what I am doing, and I certainly do not.  I’ve used the exact same colours as given in the Colours of War book.  The only things this book doesn’t suggest colours for is the bread bag and the entrenching tool.  Any brown or canvas colour will be fine for the bread bag – the bread bags on the test schemes in the previous entry were done in Vallejo Orange Brown.

Entrenching tools would either be enclosed in a full black leather cover but I believe these were replaced by partial covers in brown leather later in the war.  It is something I read years ago when painting up some 28mm Germans and I can’t remember what book I read it in, but I think I am right.

All paints are Vallejo except the black which is Abaddon Black from GW, and I’ve also used Nuln Oil in stage 2.

The photos are not great, but they should suffice. The colours are brighter in real life than what is appearing on my laptop screen.  Apologies but I just do not have the space to set up my light box and camera at the moment.

Stage 1. Grey Primer Stage 1. Grey Primer
Stage 2.  Nuln Oil wash.  Stage 2. Nuln Oil wash.
Stage 3. Chocolate Brown for the boots, bread bag and handle of the entrenching tool.Stage 3. Chocolate Brown for the boots, bread bag and handle of the entrenching tool.
Stage 4. German Field Grey for the trousers and jacket.  Stage 4. German Field Grey for the trousers and jacket.
Stage 5. German Camo Dark Green for the helmet and gas mask canister.   Stage 5. German Camo Dark Green for the helmet and gas mask canister.
Stage 6. Dark Yellow for the weapon.  Stage 6. Dark Yellow for the weapon.
Stage 7. German Camo Beige for the Zeltbahn and German Camo Medium Brown for the canteenStage 7. German Camo Beige for the Zeltbahn and German Camo Medium Brown for the canteen
Stage 8. Black for Webbing and other leather bits.  The Entrenching tool was also painted black.Stage 8. Black for Webbing and other leather bits. The Entrenching tool was also painted black.
Stage 9. Heavy Fleshtone on the face and hands, plus touch ups.Stage 9. Heavy Fleshtone on the face and hands, plus touch ups.

A wash with an Army Painter tone or dip, or a Devlan Mud/Agrax Earthshade wash and this would easily be table ready.  Tomorrow I will finish off this model, plus the other 12 I was working on as well, and will again outline what I did.  Hope this helps someone and any suggestions will be most welcome and appreciated.

Test Schemes Done

Tutoring 6
Skill 8
Idea 8
8 Comments

Apologises for the pictures, the colours are a bit washed out in places, but I am calling these done.  Learned quite a bit doing them, and I think they will look ok once they have a few mates beside them and a bit of grass and foliage added.  Now just to plough though them.

A Little Progress

Tutoring 8
Skill 7
Idea 11
1 Comment

First I have changed my first 50 points around to give a little less infantry to paint.

  • Panzergrenadier Company HQ (2 x MP40 SMG team) (2 points)
  • Panzergrenadier Platoon (7 x MG34 team, + Panzerfaust, + 1 Panzerschreck team) (13 points)
  •  7.5cm Tank Hunter Platoon (2 x 7.5cm gun) (7 points)
  • Panzer IV Tank Platoon (5 x Panzer IV (7.5cm)) (28 points)

Total – 50 points

I’ve got the 3 Panzers from Hit the Beach built.  I have some stowage coming (the same metal stuff that Lloyd is using on his British) and another Panzer sprue, which will give me 5 tanks.  I just need to work out which are the German Tank Commanders in the Hit the Beach boxed set and order some decals.

A Little Progress

As you can see from the above picture I have got the Maus built as well as the 7.5cm guns.  As the Maus is just a bit of fun and it only cost £3.75, I’ll probably do a test scheme on it first before I get to the Panzers.  There is also quite a bit of area to practice on!

I’ve got the base coats down and a wash on the infantry, tomorrow they will get a highlight and a few details like the straps and ammo pouches painted on.  Looking forward to that!  I think I will also do any camo after the wash so it is a bit brighter

A Little Progress

Monday Musing - 8th July. The D-Day Dodgers

Tutoring 5
Skill 4
Idea 6
No Comments

Last week as I was doing a little internet browsing and looking for some information on the North Irish Horse (NIH), I came across a term I had never heard before, the D-Day Dodgers.  There seems to be some confusion over where the term originated but the crux was that soldiers in the Italian campaign felt the sacrifices they were making were being overshadowed and undervalued after the Normandy campaign began.  The soldiers even wrote a song about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE5Cgvc3JqU  

The lyrics are steeped in sarcasm, as is the term D-Day Dodger, and there seems to be different lyrical variations of the song.  As is my want, I had to buy a book to learn more and ended up purchasing Albert F Darlington’s memoirs of his time in Italy called “The D-Day Dodger”.  Over the weekend I was enthralled with this book and didn’t get a lot of painting accomplished.

Monday Musing - 8th July.  The D-Day Dodgers

This isn’t a history book but the personal account of one soldier.  It is a very “warts and all” account of his youth, trying to join the war from an early age and finally succeeding when he lied about his age and took the “King’s Shilling” at the age of 16.  The book outlines his training, being shipped to North Africa and finishes with how he adapted back into civilian life after the war. The book is harrowing, gritty and I will admit to having tears of sadness in my eyes more than once.  It is also very humorous and even within the same page, tears of sadness would turn to tears of laughter.

The book is also thought provoking, as is the term D-Day Dodger.  At times over the weekend I have wondered if we put certain wars, campaigns and battles on a pedestal, perhaps giving them more historical importance and significance, and hence distorting our own view of history.  Yesterday’s XLBS “Korean War-Gaming With Bolt Action – Yes Please!” also made me think that do games and model ranges contribute to the less popular wars and campaigns being even more forgotten and having less historical significance than they deserve.

Anyway, if you get the chance to read “The D-Day Dodger” by Albert F Darlington, I would recommend it.  It is refreshingly non-politically correct and it reopened my mind to the true actual horrors of war and the suffering that people went through.

Quick Update

Tutoring 3
Skill 6
Idea 8
No Comments

I found my other Battlefront tanks.  So on the American side I have 3 Shermans and a Pershing.  More importantly for the Germans I have a Stug G, Panzer IV and a Panther – not very useful at the moment unless I buy myself a Panzer IV sprue to give myself a little bit less infantry to paint by the end of July.

I have also applied a couple of thin coats of Vallejo German Uniform Grey to my test models, and will hopefully make some progress on them today.

Quick Update

When searching for the other Battlefront tanks I own, I did give myself a fright… I only found a bloody mouse in the hobby shed!!!!!!

Quick Update

Oops, typo, I meant “Maus”.  If I have the time I will paint and build this up over the course of the slow grow league… just in case someone tries to bring UFOs or other weirdness to the table, I think my Maus might be good protection 🙂

Planning - Stage 1.

Tutoring 6
Skill 5
Idea 7
1 Comment

If I am correct for the Slow Grow League for July my goal is to produce a 50pt forces.  Currently as I am only in possession of the Hit the Beach boxed set and a few other tanks I bought when I got the Tanks game a number of years ago, so I am limited in my options.

Given my current options, I am going to build a generic German Panzergrenadier Company based on what is provided in Hit the Beach.  Perhaps as I learn more about the campaign, I can theme the army to a certain area in Normandy but I just don’t have the historical knowledge or resources to do this at the moment.

So using Hit The Beach I can make a 49 pt force D-Day German Panzergrenadier Company – I have listed below this force.

  • Panzergrenadier Company HQ (2 x MP40 SMG team) (2 points)
  • Panzergrenadier Platoon (7 x MG34 team, + Panzerfaust, + 1 Panzerschreck team) (13 points)
  • Panzergrenadier Platoon (5 x MG34 team, + Panzerfaust, + 1 Panzerschreck team) (11 points)
  •  7.5cm Tank Hunter Platoon (2 x 7.5cm gun) (7 points)
  • Panzer IV Tank Platoon (3 x Panzer IV (7.5cm)) (16 points)

Total – 49 points

This is a lot of infantry to build and clean, but I believe it is achievable in time available, especially as I should have plenty of hobby time this month.

A second option does exist.  A Panzer IV Tank Platoon with 5 tanks costs 28 points.  Rather nicely, if I replaced the 3 strong Tank Platoon and the 5 x MG34 Panzergrenadier Platoon with this 5 Tank Platoon, I would have 50 points.  I believe I have at least 1 if not 2 Battlefront Panzer IVs from the Tanks game.  If I find the infantry to be too overwhelming and time consuming, this is an option to help me hit the 50 point goal.

Currently I have 4 infantry cleaned and primed ready to start painting up a test scheme.  I should have all the paints I need to paint the infantry based on the schemes in the Colours of War books and my own painting preferences. To give an example, when painting any black leather, I will be adding a little Vallejo Rose to black to give a leather look, or if it is a larger area, a highlight with a black and rose will be applied.  That is the plan, it works on 28mm figures, so hopefully it will also look good on 15mm figures.

As the army in question fought during summer I will be basing the army with a strong green vegetation scheme, with perhaps flowers for a splash of colour and variation.

Monday Musing - 1st July, The Somme and my Moral Compass

Tutoring 5
Skill 4
Idea 7
2 Comments

This project is probably going to included the odd thought I have as I go through this Flames of War journey.  I won’t be offended if you don’t read it or think I am talking crap, but I find it useful for organising and processing my thoughts if I write them down.

Today is the anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme and as this is considered one of the bloodiest battles in human history it has me thinking how well playing toy soldiers concerning real world events sits within my own moral compass.

It is days like today I have my doubts.  I’m not a huge gamer anyway – I’m more a collector, builder, sometime painter and hoarder – but I do plan on making a real effort to play some games of FoW.  Over a million men died or were wounded over the course of the Somme Offensive, and last night and this morning I have been contemplating whether me gaining utility and having fun playing games somehow devalues the sacrifice these men made for their respective countries.  This is a often debated topic and I don’t feel I really have anything new to add to it.

Last week when I bought the Hit the Beach boxed set it wasn’t an issue but it is just days like today a few small doubts creep in.  It also feels strange that I feel fine to play D-Day games, and took great enjoyment from the OTT coverage of their FoW Bootcamp and FOW Open Day but my gut feeling was I didn’t believe it was appropriate for some gaming companies to run D-Day sales.  The contradiction is that I feel fine for me to gain from playing D-Day games, but it isn’t appropriate for companies to run a celebration sale.  This doesn’t seem to sit right within my moral compass especially as I am very pro-capitalism, free-trade and laissez faire in my economic thinking.

As I write this down, the more I feel that my gut reaction was wrong, but I don’t know.  It is just a small contradiction that I don’t understand.  This isn’t a judgement on anyone, just my own personal thoughts about historical gaming and how I think about it.

The Beginnings

Tutoring 7
Skill 6
Idea 12
13 Comments

They say that pictures can paint a thousands words but I wish taking pictures would paint a thousand minis for me.  Alas, that is never going to happen and I need to do it myself and this will be a very new adventure for myself!

I’ve never painted any 15mm WW2 figures before so this is a whole new adventure for me.  It has also been so long since I actually painted a WW2 German I have rather forgotten how to do it.  So this afternoon, I have a bit of research to do and work out if I have all the paints I need, and rather than write a thousand words, I’ll let some pictures do the talking.