On Veteran’s Day 2018, I decided that I must see the American Heritage Museum in Hudson, MA. It has been known for aircraft, but recently acquired the Jacques M. Littlefield collection from California. They had a “soft opening” on their new tank and AFV collection, and it looked good on FaceBook. They also offered vets a free admission, so I thought it would be a good experience.
I had no idea I was about to see the most unbelievable collection of functioning military vehicles in the US.
A small cannon at the entrance
There was a short but very good video on Massachusetts and its role in the Revolutionary War. Then, a door opens and you find yourself in a WWI trench and a multi-visual presentation ensues.
WWI Nurse attending wounded
Trench warfare presentation
An FT 17 appears
After, you get to see the FT-17 (American made version) close up
Crank for the FT-17 and its data plate
Next, a door opens, and it is early WWII. A British Vickers Mark V is on display, along with a Mercedes staff car. There will soon be a Panzer I as well.
Vickers Mark V
Vickers Mark V (the chairs detract a bit!)
Another door opened to a walkway around a giant hall – and my jaw dropped multiple times.
So I was not expecting that many rare tanks, to include a functional Panzer V Panther. It had been recovered from a lake on the Eastern Front and fully restored. I will share some more pictures below, but these do not do this collection justice. It was amazing to see these so close up. There were very few placards on the vehicles, but luckily I know a lot of them because of my historical and war gaming interests as well as my background in the Army. If I misidentify any here, it’s on me.
Nebelwerfer and Halftrack
A centerpiece of the collection is the Panther versus a Soviet T-34/85. There is a screen that has a multi-visual presentation of the two opposing tank commanders, with sounds, effects, and more. It concludes with the story of the recovered Panther.
The T-34/85 facing the Panther
Beautiful restoration of this Panther
Nice view of the T-34/85
Stunning to see this legend
The presentation screen with the opposing tank commanders
Here you see the Panther’s unrestored state as found
All major European and North African campaigns were represented. First, North Africa:
View from the walkway
Top of an M5 Stuart
An M3 Lee or a Grant
A Matilda II in British Desert markings
Close up of the M3
German Scout car
Not sure what this is, but the staff said there are only two remaining in the world
There was yet another T-34 – an older one:
There was a nice collection of UK tanks that I had never seen before:
Interior view of the Churchill
Bren Gun carrier
A Locust! This is an American-made glider-transported tank that only saw service in the Rhine River crossings with the British Army. Very rare!
Daimler armored car
There were of course many WWII American tanks and tank destroyers:
An impressive display of Flak 88 AA gun and accompanying equipment was nicely. This could have been the gun that wounded my late Uncle Joseph Delaney in his B-17 in 1943.
There were a couple of Russian vehicles – an ISU-122 and an SU-100 displayed.
My grandfather, Marcus C. Delaney, drove an M-24 Chaffee light tank in WWII. The museum put their Chaffee in the Korean War section, as it did serve there as well. I was feeling somber seeing my grandfather’s tank on Veteran’s Day, and I miss him. He was a hero to me, and a big reason I went into West Point and the US Army.
The next section was dedicated to the Vietnam War.
M41 Walker Bulldog light tank
M47 or M48 Patton
Vietnamese PT-76 amphibious tank
For the Cold War, there was an East German T-72.
T-72 side shot
Next, the “hot” war that occurred during my service, the Gulf War. I did not go to the theater, and performed my duties stateside. I often say that they had a war and did not invite me.
M551 Sheridan – the last conflict for this airborne tank
Finally, the War on Terror, which had a USMC M1A2 Abrams tank (though I am not exactly sure which variant it was). It was hit by an IED in Fallujah in 2006. There is a touching video presentation of the event and its impact on the crew and the tank commander’s widow. RIP.
The museum truly honors veterans, and I was humbled to walk through the many, many displays. To have one in Massachusetts like this is a really special thing. The museum will close from November 25th to April 15th, so there are a couple of weekends left to try to go before spring.
I will be coming back here for sure. Thanks to the American Heritage Museum for such a great homage to our history and our veterans.
The Germans moved on first – and one of the T-26’s was able to early on get a couple of shots in on one of the Panzer IVd’s, with the second one knocking it out. This was a fun event for 7-year old Jack Burns who was playing in his first war game ever. He was so excited to knock out the German tank.
The Soviets KV-1a was slow to move forward, and the T-26’s outran it. The Panzer 38(t) moved up to the ruined factory and took aim at one of the T-26’s in the open. It fired, and missed the Soviet. Returning fire, the T-26 hit and knocked out the Panzer 38 (t). Two down for the Axis! Shortly after this, the other Panzer IVd peeked out from behind its brother, only to suffer the same fate from the plucky T-26. Three down now!
Let me add a side note here on my rules modifications for this scenario. What a Tanker does not have rules for either armored cars or trucks. I modified them here for the armored cars, which I made Fast (easier to always move), and Small (tougher to hit). For their Armor, I only gave them a 1, which meant that any hit from a tank gun would very likely be enough to kill the BA-64. As the BA-64 only had a machine gun, I gave them 2 modified Strike dice. The modifications were twofold. First, their range was 24″ (half that of the tanks). Secondly, the BA-64’s would hit on a 6, but the only likely result of such a hit would be to force the target to button up if it was not already. If the BA-64 player rolled double-6’s, I would allow 2 strike dice. So the BA-64’s were harassers at best. I had the Gaz trucks move last, with 2 D6 of movement (no command dice). If they were hit, they were destroyed.
Back to the battle!
At this low point, they got reinforcements in consecutive turns. First, the Panzer IIIN came on in turn 2. In turn 4, the Axis got the Hetzer and the M13/41. The tide of battle was turning.
The Panzer IIIN moved up to the hill, awaiting the T-26 and a truck. The German successively took both out, leaving the Soviets only with one T-26, one truck, the KV-1a, and the BA-64’s. The M13/41 rolled badly, and hid behind the Panzer IVd wrecks for better dice rolls, even taking humiliating fire from the BA-64’s that caused it to have to button up.
The Hetzer moves fast, and tried to move around to the rear of the KV-1a. It succeeded, and missed with its initial rear shot. The KV-1a immediately turned the tables, turning 180°, and rotating its massive turret towards the diminutive tank destroyer. The Soviet again got initiative, firing not once, not twice, but three times – and unbelievably missing on all three attempts! The saving grace for the Hetzer was its Small characteristic, which meant the KV-1a needed a “7” instead of a “6” to hit.
The Hetzer then got initiative and rolled its Command Dice well enough to fire but not to maneuver towards the Soviet behemoth’s vulnerable rear. It decided to take a chancy shot at the frontal armor of the KV-1a. It got 5 hits on 7 dice (needed a “5” or “6” to hit). The Soviet player got zero saves, and the KV-1a was knocked out.
The BA-64 ramming attack did nothing to the Hetzer, which dispatched the armored car with one shot. Meanwhile, the Italian M13/41 took out the last truck. The surviving BA-64 was destroyed by the Italian, leaving the Panzer IIIN and a damaged T-26 in a showdown. With the loss of the trucks and the KV-1a, the game was called an Axis victory.
The game was a fun one for winners and losers, with highs and lows for both. Next time, I will probably give the Soviets a second KV-1a.
The next Mass Pikemen’s gaming session will be on Saturday, December 1st from 2-8 PM, at 110 Pleasant Street in East Brookfield, MA. This is a change from our previous 3-9 PM time slot. We will be playing What a Tanker again!
Please join us, and share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below!
I have been working on getting a fleet of tanks for the What a Tankergame from the Too Fat Lardies company. It’s a great game and has been a true hit with my gaming club, the Mass Pikemen. I have been working on building up a flexible group of tanks, and so far I am up to 71 tanks in 15mm/1:100 scale – not including ones needing assembly and painting.
My sources have been eBay, hobby stores, and Facebook. If I waited to paint them all, I would never do another project, so finding some mostly painted resin (and reasonably priced) models from Wargame Models in Ohio has helped shorten the process. Mostly I just washed and varnished the ones I have gotten from WMIO.
One group acquisition was from another source on eBay – it was a resin Soviet KV-1 platoon consisting of 5 KV-1’s heavy tanks, 2 T-26 light tanks, 2 BA-64 armored cars, and 2 trucks. I do not know the manufacturer. They had been given some sort of dark brown coating with splashes of lighter brown. They color-wise did not look particularly like Soviet tanks from 1941. This platoon is the main subject of this blog post.
It was necessary to use a Sharpie to mark one end of the 1/8″ magnets such that I inserted them in the correct alignment (I did not want the turrets “blowing off” prematurely!). I glued the magnets into the holes with Gorilla Glue.
I needed to find a way to paint the figures without damaging the paint, and tanks were new to me. I decided to take advantage of the magnets on the turrets here. I used small nails inserted into styrofoam blocks (the kind used for flower crafts). For the hulls, I masked the tracks for secondary painting, and such that I could hold them safely.
I airbrushed/primed the figures with Vallejo “Surface Primer – Russian Green”.
I then gave the figures an airbrushed base coat with a thinned coat of Vallejo Panzer Series “Camouflage Olive Green”.
These looked too drab, and not very Soviet green looking. I moved on to adding Vallejo Mecha Color “Green” with a light airbrushing. Next, I used a brush to dry brush Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Green” on the figures. I was able to then give the figures an appropriate light green by using Citadel “Biel-Tan Green” as a shade. It worked!
At this point, I removed the masking and painted the tracks. I then wanted to add some mud, dirt, and dust with pigments. I used several Vallejo pigments and binders (all listed at the end of this post). These models are small, (about 3″ long by 1½” wide by 1¾” high so I wanted to give enough weathering without overwhelming them.
This was my first attempt at painting any WWII tank models. I think I can do better, but early war Soviet tanks are pretty simple, as they had not usually added any markings. It will not be my last, and I am hoping that I get better with more tries. This project also is my first submission for Azazel’s November Community painting challenge – Mechanical November ’18. If you have not checked out his blog, it’s worth a look. Also, my next few posts will showcase tanks, so I hope you enjoy.
Now for some eye candy!
I hope that you enjoyed this post. Please let me know your thoughts and feedback below in the comments section.
Back in 2016, I had finally completed an original Ral Partha “Rooman War Party” (#01-044) from 1977. This effort culminated in my building a 21-figure phalanx of pike-armed anthropomorphic kangaroos, replete with Australian 7-pointed stars on their shields.
At that time, I also began to see that others, like the wonderfully named Imperial Rebel Ork (IRO for short) were doing amazing “kit-bashes” and conversions with different models. Of course, IRO uses plastic, and I’m more of an old school metal guy. I also was getting more into retro sci-fi figures and using them for skirmish games. I was inspired by IRO and Azazel (both Aussies) to push myself to do my own conversion. So, I combined two figures – a Ral Partha Rooman (25 mm scale) and a Reaper #80010, “Nova Corp Sergeant” (28 mm scale), made a mold, and cast a bunch of “Space Roomans” (in metal of course). You can read about that somewhat massive project here. Getting around to painting these took a bit longer, and even my good friend Buck Surdu painted some that I gave him much quicker than I did.
Azazel is kind enough to run a monthly community painting challenge – and October’s was “Unit-ed October”, and focused on units. So, I took this opportunity to get these done. Of course, this effort was slightly affected by some gaming and the Red Sox winning the 2018 World Series (YES!), but I got them (the Space Roos that is) done by October 31st, 2018. I will use them in Combat Patrol™ games.
I decided to paint the Roos similar to the way I did the Roomans, except that I wanted a more dusty and dirty look to them, as they are intrepid infantrymen (infantryroos?). I also wanted to convert a couple of figures per squad (yes, a conversion of a conversion) to carry different weapons. In this case, I used a grenade launcher sprue from RBJ miniatures to make two Roos into grenadiers, and a different RPG sprue from RBJ to make two other Roos into anti-tank troopers. So my 28-figure platoon would consist of:
2 Space Roo Squads consisting of:
1 Squad Leader in each squad
2 teams of:
1 TL per team
4 Space Roos with assault rifles/blasters per team
1 Space Roo per team with either a grenade launcher or anti-tank weapon
Two squads make a light platoon, but I think that they will be a potent elite fighting force on the tabletop. Also, these Roos are equipped with body armor on their torsos, and importantly, jet packs! I will also give them a higher rate of movement similar to what I did for the Space Phraints (1½ cards of movement). I cleaned and filed the models, and prepared them for conversion and priming by mounting them on 1″ steel washers.
I had a tough time reorienting the arms of the RPG-armed Roos, and I needed to break them and use green stuff to create a proper pose. Pinning was not feasible unfortunately. I also used green stuff to mount the grenadiers’ launchers and to give them bandoleers of grenades. The grenadiers looked fine enough for the tabletop, but I was unhappy with the RPG Roos, as they looked “Popeye” like in their arms. As the Space Roos body armor gives them an angular body look, I decided to use a series of very small 2 mm polystyrene chips to create an “armored look” over the arms by affixing them with Gorilla glue.
I ended up double priming these figures, as I knew that I would need to fix much with brushwork and painting. For example, there was a large indentation on the Roos’ left feet (paws?) that I needed to paint over. I thought that a thinned brush priming followed by a thinned airbrush priming would help. I think it did.
For their base colors, I went with a yellowy/sandy look for their armor, which I thought would reflect a desert or dusty deployment.
One of the issues I really want to focus on when I build a platoon is to make it easy for the players (some of us with “experienced” eyes) to see and identify a figure’s squad and team. I got some steel punches, and some jewelry stamps to make 1/4″ and 5/16″ placards that I could mount on the figures’ bases.
Next, I washed the figures twice with Citadel “Agrax Earthshade”. I then mounted the RPG’s with Gorilla glue.
Lastly, I used a whole bottle of Citadel “Armageddon Dunes” to fill and shape around the bases and let them dry and harden. The placards were mounted into this paint. Then I gave the bases a wash with “Agrax Earthshade” and two different dry brush applications (Polly Scale “WWII German Armor Light Tan” and Vallejo “Light Brown”). Then I gave everything two coats of matte varnish.
After adding some tufts from Shadows Edge Miniatures for even better identification, the platoon was finally done (I LOVE their tufts). I am happy with it, given the work and effort it took to bring it to life. So, now, appropriately, I will share with you some eye candy!
I am looking forward to seeing these guys in action soon. I appreciate your looking and hope that you enjoyed this post. I always read your feedback, so please let me know what you think in the comments section at the bottom of this post.
I dedicate this post to all my Aussie friends!
PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, WASHES, AND FLOCKING USED:
Citadel “Imperium Primer”
Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
Vallejo “Flow Improver”
Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Sand Yellow”
Vallejo Game Air “Red Terracotta”
Citadel “Flayed One Flesh”
Americana “Bleached Sand”
Americana “Black Tie – Satin”
Vallejo “US Dark Green”
Tamiya “Copper XF-6”
Tamiya “X-20A Thinner”
Tamiya “XF-49 Khaki”
Vallejo Game Air “Weiss”
Tamiya “Gun Metal X-10”
Vallejo Game Air “Steel”
Vallejo Game Air “Beasty Brown”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Steel”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Dark Steel”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Metallic Blue”
Vallejo Game Air “Electric Blue”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Metallic Green”
Citadel “Hexwraith Flame”
Vallejo Mecha Color “SZ Red”
Secret Weapons Washes “Just Red” (ink)
P3 “Brown” (ink)
Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash” (wash)
Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (wash)
Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
Citadel “Armageddon Dunes”
Polly Scale WWII “German Armor Light Tan”
Vallejo “Light Brown”
Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
Shadows Edge Miniatures 6 mm “Dark Forest Red” (tufts)
Shadows Edge Miniatures 6 mm “Dark Blue” (tufts)
Shadows Edge Miniatures 12 mm “Wild Tufts” (tufts)
Thanks again for looking and for your feedback! ESPECIALLY AUSSIES!
On October 20th, there was a Devens game day at the former Ft. Devens in Massachusetts. I was interested in attending for a couple of reasons. First, I am trying to get to more gaming events in the area. Second, I was stationed at Fort Devens while I was a member of the 39th Engineer Battalion (Combat) from 1989-1992, so I was intrigued to see the post again in its new configuration. Fort Devens was closed as an active duty US Army post in the 1990’s, and Massachusetts has redeveloped the post by bringing in a lot of industry. Still, some of the post is used by the reserves. In fact my old battalion area seems to have been saved and redeveloped for the reserves. That area is all fenced off now and I did not want to photograph the area and draw unwanted attention to doing so! Other buildings and barracks areas are untouched since closure, with actual trees growing out of the edifices yielding an apocalyptic/Walking Dead look. This blog post is a bit late, but I did get wrapped up in the baseball ALCS and the World Series, which were both won by the great Boston Red Sox!
The actual game sessions were held at the Fort Devens Museum. There were three games there – a WWI game, a naval game, and a pulp game. I did not get any pictures of the naval game but you can read about in an excellent post here. I focused on playing a WWI game (given that it is close to the centenary of the end of that conflict). The board is entirely scratch built, and I believe the rules were “Trench Warfare”, but I am not sure. The game master, Bill, did an excellent job, and I wanted to share his board as it was excellent. The event clearly tried to recruit younger gamers, which was admirable for growing our hobby.
The game ended in a draw, but I enjoyed it a lot.
There was also a pulp game that I did not play in, but that looked interesting.
Lastly, I looked around the museum and looked for anything related to my old unit. The only thing I saw was a donation from a former lieutenant from the 1977 time frame. I do think I could find a few things myself. Interestingly, I am a local, and the 39th had members who for the most part live in other parts of the country. I do commend the museum for trying to resurrect the posts history from WWI until closure.
My thanks to the folks who set up this event and to the folks at the museum!
Many of you who follow my blog have read about Buck Surdu, my good friend and author of multiple wargaming rules systems. Of course, he is a fellow West Pointer so that’s in his favor! He is a major shaker and mover in the H.A.W.K.’s (Harford County Weekly Kriegspielers) in Maryland, and has been involved with BARRAGE for years.
Little Wars TV interviewed Buck, and I thought some of you would find this interesting.