Combat Patrol and What a Tanker games – My TotalCon 34 Recap

It’s been about a month since the last gaming convention I attended, and my how the world has changed.  I cannot see how a large convention could be held right now (though Cold Wars indeed happened in Pennsylvania this weekend).  There are a few upcoming gaming cons in obvious risk – and for now I think it useful to blog and paint and reflect back until this COVID-19 crisis passes (and that it will).  Best wishes for health and happiness to all my readers all over the world, from the US to Australia to the UK, All across Europe, and Africa and Asia. Now with everything at a lock down or a standstill due to the coronavirus crisis, I thought it was a good time to write a post about the games at my last convention as a distraction.

I had promised you great readers a few battle reports from TotalCon 34.  It was a very large convention with around 600 attendees.  Miniature games were a smaller offering there compared to RPG, LARP, board games – and a number of other offerings with which I was unfamiliar!

The convention was held from February 20-23, 2020 at the Best Western Conference Center in Marlborough, MA.  I had signed up to run four games – two on Friday and two on Saturday.  Two were Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games – “Space Cowboys versus Giant Zombie Cosmonauts” and “Attack of the Warbots” with my mostly OOP collections from Archive Miniatures, Mega Miniatures, War Games Supply Dump (and my own creations).  The other two were scenarios for What a Tanker© that I have created and discussed previously in this blog: “Battle of France May-June 1940” and “Normandy Breakout!“.

Running four different games in two days was a challenge (my vehicle was full of mats, terrain, and miniatures) but I pulled it off well enough I believe.  I’ll share some photos and some descriptions of the action.  I think the players had a good time.  This post will be pretty photo-heavy.

The first game I ran was on Friday was “Space Cowboys versus Giant Zombie Cosmonauts“.  I had four players (though I could have accommodated 9).  It turned out that I had two seasoned gamers on the defending Space Cowboys side and two younger players on the attacking Giant Zombie Cosmonaut/Martian/Retrovian side.

02212020 TOTALCON Space Cowboys versus Giant Zombie Cosmonauts
My flyer for this game – the space on the right is for business cards to share information about my gaming club –  the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.
1 set up from defenders side
View from the defenders’ side.  They must save the chemical plant from destruction or kill The Mind.
2 set up from attackers side
View from the attackers’ side.  They must destroy the chemical plant in 10 turns or less.
1 SC vs GZC setup
The game set up at TotalCon 34.
2 SC vs GZC setup
Retrovians prepare to attack.
3 SC vs GZC setup
Close up of the chemical plant before the defenders deployed.  I allow the defenders to deploy by any barrier or the chemical plant.
4 Retrovians attack
The attackers ponder their next move.  The defenders moved and took up good defensive positions in and overlooking the wadi.
5 SC take casualties
On the attackers’ left flank, Retrovian fire begins to take its toll on the defending Space Cowboys (aka Texican Space Rangers).
6 Martians take casualties in wadi
On the other side of the table, Martian infantry attempt to charge across the wadi.  Effective rifle fire decimates the Martians in the open.  The stack of cards on the right indicates a pile of Martian KIA that ran into a hail of cowboy lead.
7 GCZ take casualties and move towards wadi
The Mind and its Giant Zombie Cosmonauts get close to the wadi, while Retrovians provide supporting fire.
8 SC squad runs away
The Retrovian fire is too much for one squad of Space Cowboys, which fails a morale check and skedaddles for cover.
9 Robo servo gun and Brasheer knocked out
Carnage ensues.  A Robo-Servo gun is destroyed (black smoke), while another gun destroys a Retrovian three-legged assault pod.  The fleeing Space Cowboy squad from the previous shot is in the upper left.  The Mind is breaking through in the top center, but many of its zombies have taken hits to legs and are falling away from the advance.
10 Brain is killed
As the protecting zombies fall away, the platoon sergeant, Armando Garcia, jet packs next to The Mind in a desperate attack.  The Mind had a 60% chance to react to the move and preemptively fry the Space Cowboy, but failed in the attempt.  SFC Garcia fired his assault rifle and killed The Mind, ending the game.

The game was a blast.  The defenders took up good positions but the attackers’ pressure was building to a decisive point.  Unfortunately, The Mind became vulnerable and the defenders’ gambit worked this time.  The players quickly got used to the Combat Patrol™ system.

The next game was later that night, when I ran “Attack of the Warbots”.  I have run this game several times, and it always is a crowd pleaser.

02212020 TOTALCON Attack of the Warbots
My flyer for the game.

I had about 8 players for the game.  The attacking Warbots made good progress initially in breaching the wall.  However, the defenders jet-packed their bazooka-armed Star Ducks onto unprotected rooftops – and got pretty shot up.

1 Attack of the Warbots set up
The Biological Alliance is in an “Alamo” type of a defense, with a massive force of Warbots attacking from this side, and an allied Martian force (yup they showed up in this game too) from the opposite side.
2 wall is pierced
The Warbot on the far right uses a plasma beam breacher (basically a long disintegrator ray) to piece the defenders rusty wall.  This kicks up a lot of smoke from the vaporized material.  The Warbot that did this uses a lot of energy in the effort and is stunned for three turns while recharging (hence the multiple “stun” placards).
3 targets on the roof
More Warbot destruction ensues as they fire another plasma beam breacher through the Aphid position in the center.
4 Mark 1 Sphere tank stunned by attacking Frinx
Frinx cavalry (on glyptodons) armed with anti-robot arc weapons and blasters charge!  They manage to stop a Mark 1 Sphere tank with a non-penetrating hit that stuns it at the walls edge.
5 The other Mark 1 Sphere tank attempts to flank
On the left Warbot flank, a defending Space Roo player checks to see if his RPG-armed Space Roo can engage the other Warbot Mark 1 Sphere tank.  It could, and at extreme range knocked out the other Warbot tank.
5a end of game
The end of the game found the captured Warbot tank repaired and capable of driving off of the board.  Therefore, a Biological Alliance victory!
6 After Battle
Happy gamers (and me) after the game are all smiles!

After this game, (which was around 11:00 PM+), I and some of the players cleaned this all up.  As my next game was in the morning at 8 AM, I set up my Normandy Breakout! scenario for What a Tanker©!  I have a lot of  bocage (hedgerows) for this game as you will see.  I got set up, and ambled off to my hotel room for a few hours of shut-eye.

02222020 TOTALCON Normandy Breakout!
My flyer for the game.

This scenario is as described on the flyer above, but to be clear, the Germans are in hidden positions across the board known only to them and the GM (me).  Additionally, the exact force composition selections on both sides are done secretly, as each side buys vehicles and Bonus Attack cards with points.  Each side starts with 200 points.

Points are earned by the Allies (US and UK) for successfully reconnoitering hidden positions (which could have either possible or actual Germans there), for knocking out Germans, and for crossing the board and breaking out.  Germans earn points for unreconnoitered positions, knocking out Allied vehicles, and can get a game bonus for limiting Allied crossings to zero or no more than 1 vehicle.  The Germans vehicles are more expensive, so their defensive benefits need to be offset by successful ambushes and an overall defense against any Allied breakout.  I announce only who is winning at the beginning of each turn, but not the exact score – so as to keep the game feeling crew-focused.

I had between 4 and 6 players (some joined mid-game).  The Germans went initially with two 8-wheeled scout cars (an Sd.Kfz. 231 and an Sd.Kfz. 233, a Panther D, and a Tiger I, all of which deployed secretly.  They loaded up on Bonus Attack cards as well.

The US deployed on the left half of the board, and the UK/commonwealth on the right half.  The US chose an M5 Stuart light tank (with recon abilities) and an M10 Wolverine tank destroyer to start, while the Brits took a Daimler Dingo scout car and an M4 Sherman.  The Allies also maxed out their Bonus Attack cards possibilities.

1 Dingo and Achilles move out
The Americans move up their M10 Wolverine “Demon”, while behind a British Daimler Dingo recons a field.

On turn 1, the Allies spent 71 points on vehicles and cards.  They successfully reconned 5 positions at 2 points each for 10 points, leaving them with 139 points at the end of the turn.  The Germans spent 88 points on vehicles and cards.  The German Tiger I ambushed and knocked out the British M4 Sherman for 14 points.  At the end of turn 1, it was close – 139 to 126 in favor of the Allies.

On turn 2, the Allies respawned another British M4 Sherman for the destroyed one, and bought 1 more Bonus Attack card.  This new vehicle was at no cost as the replacement cost as much as the previous loss (the Germans did get more points for killing that previous Sherman on turn 1).  The M10 Wolverine rolled a great movement, and was able to breakout successfully, gaining the Allies 16 points and taking away half of any potential German end-of-game bonus for preventing Allied vehicle crossings.  On turn 1, the US M5 Stuart had been able to move into a field and successfully recon a position where an Sd.Kfz. 231 was hiding.  On turn 2, the Stuart activated first, and destroyed the German scout car, gaining 11 more points for the kill. The Germans for their part bought two more Bonus Attack cards for 10 points.  Overall, the Germans had a weak turn, and only recovered 2 points by activating their Sd.Kfz. 233 before the US could find it.  The successful M10 “Demon” crossing widened the score at the end of turn 2 to 161-118 in favor of the Allies.

2 Sd.Kfz. 231 is pursued by M5 Stuart with Brit M4 Sherman burning
At the end of turn 1, the M5 Stuart chased down a German Sd.Kfz. 231 in a field.  The M5 activated first in turn 2, and destroyed the German scout car.

On turn 3, the Germans knew that they were losing, but not by how much.  They made a bold move and chose an expensive new tank for a respawn of their lost Sd.Kfz. 231 – a Tiger II.  The net cost was 18 points after “credit” for the “trade-in” in lieu of a free respawn of another Sd.Kfz. 231.  Adding another Bonus Attack card brought the German spend for turn 3 to 23 points.  The US player got a free respawning replacement M10 for the one that crossed on turn 2, so the Allies spent no points at all on turn 3.  They did earn 6 points for reconning German positions.  The Germans got a bit of revenge as a Panther activated and took out the M5 that killed the Stuart for 12 points, and the Tiger I moved to a crossroads and took out a second British Sherman for 14 points.  The score at the end of turn 3 was 167-123 in favor of the Allies.

3 early game action with Tiger etc.

Turn 3 action – the destroyed the German scout car is the left.  The Tiger I has moved to an excellent position at the crossroads and has knocked out the second Brit Sherman.  The Panther (not seen ) was hiding at position “F”, and activated.

4 Panther avenges Sd.Kfz.231 by taking out Stuart
The M5 Stuart was no match for the activated Panther.

On turn 4, the Allies decided to get three more vehicles.  Two were respawning ones for turn 3 losses – the US got a “free” M5 to replace the one killed in turn 3, and the Brits “upgraded” its second lost M4 Sherman to an M10 Achilles tank destroyer “Tabitha”.  They also bought another M4 Sherman for a new very young player that joined the game, and a couple of Bonus Attack cards.  The Allied spend was 24 points.  The Germans only bought 1 card, for 5 points.

During turn 4, the Daimler Dingo had a fun time.  It successfully reconned the hidden position of the Tiger II!  Then, scared for its survival, it and its crew sped off down the road to cross the other side  – gaining 7 points for crossing and thereby nullifying any potential German end-of-game bonus.

The Brit side then flanked the Tiger I at the crossroads with the M10 Achilles “Tabitha”.  It took a quick flank shot on the German, and did some damage.  It then called in the RAF (with a Bonus Attack card) which destroyed the Tiger I for a big 25 points.  The Allies successes widened the score at the end of turn 3 to 177-118 in their favor.

5 Dingo finds Tiger II
Surprise!  Daimler Dingo finds a Tiger II and takes off before it can be destroyed.
6 Young player and his Dad use a SHerman
A young player takes command of a Sherman for the US.
7 lots of action and Tiger I hit by USAAF
The Tiger I is destroyed in the crossroads by the RAF.

Turn 5 would be the last turn of the game.  The Allies respawned another Daimler Dingo for the one that crossed in turn 4, and bought a couple more Bonus attack cards, spending only 10 points.  The Germans were despondent, and decided to buy a Jagdpanther and a Bonus Attack card for 29 points.

The M10 Achilles “Tabitha” fresh off the combined arms kill of the Tiger I maneuvered for a rear shot on the Panther – and killed it for 22 points.  The Germans tried to hunt down a fleeing M5 Stuart.  It lined up a deadly point-blank rear shot on the Stuart – only to miss the shot.  It was emblematic of the German sides day.  After another position was reconned, the day belonged to the Allies.  The final score was a lopsided 191-89 in favor of the Allies.

This was the biggest disparity in this game ever (and I have run it many times).  In my opinion, the Germans did not keep their eyes on the objectives.  They also did not effectively take advantage of their ambush positions, and left too many openings for the Allies, who maneuvered their lesser vehicles much better than their foes.  With that said, all had a fun game.

8 Jagdpanther hunts M5 Stuart
Turn 5 – the M5 Stuart is missed by the Jadgpanther.

With some help from players, the tabletop was cleaned and it was time to take a break.  I could have played a game but I decided to spend the next game slot relaxing as I felt a but tired.

My next game was on Saturday night – “The Battle of France, May-June 1940” for What a Tanker©.  The scenario reverses the previous game a bit, with the Germans attempting to break through the French defenses and head to the channel and cut off the Allied forces in Belgium.  There are also two different Bonus Attack card decks that I made for this scenario.  I described this scenario in my blog previously here.

02222020 TOTALCON Battle of France 1940
My flyer for the game.

I had originally 10 players signed up for this game, with 2 on a waiting list.  I was disappointed that I only had 5 players show up – but it was fine.  I had two German players and three French players.

Each side had 200 points at the start.  Here again, the exact force composition selections on both sides are done secretly, as each side buys vehicles and Bonus Attack cards with points.  Points here are earned by the Germans for successfully reconnoitering hidden positions (which could have either possible or actual French located there), for knocking out French vehicles, and for crossing the board and breaking out.  The French earn points for unreconnoitered positions, knocking out German vehicles, and can get a point bonus for limiting German crossings to zero or no more than 1 vehicle.  Similar to the Normandy Breakout! game, I announce only who is winning at the beginning of each turn, but not the exact score.  This definitely keeps the game feeling crew-focused.

There are a couple more key additional nuances to this scenario.  There are two bridges, and the French player can spend points to wire one, both or neither bridge for demolition.  Any French attempts at demolition may be tried at any time, but are not guaranteed.  They also get a “free” small minefield (that is not very effective) that is also secretly set at the beginning of the game.  The French decided to wire the bridge on their right flank for demolition prior to the game, leaving the one on their left with the small minefield next to it.  During the game (which I will discuss), the French did blow the bridge on the right, and were able to fool the Germans into believing that the other was wired as well.  This rendered the minefield a non-factor in the game, but made the Germans attempt to ford the river.

The Germans decided to buy 2 6-wheeled Sd.Kfz. 231’s and a Panzer 38(t) on turn 1.  They also maxed out on Bonus Attack cards for a total of 50 points spent.  The French deployed in hidden positions (half the tabletop is designated as under the control of French cavalry tanks, and the other half (mainly the town area) is under the control of French infantry tanks.  The French bought a Panhard 178 armored car, a Char B1 bis, and a SOMUA S35.  Their initial purchases all had radios (some French tanks do not), so they were able to max out their Bonus Attack cards.  The total initial French spend was 71 points, including the wiring of the right flank bridge.

During turn 1, the Germans drove one of their scout cars onto the right flank bridge, and the French successfully destroyed the bridge with the German on it, gaining 11 points.  This also spooked the Germans to avoid the bridge as they feared it was also wired (and it was not!).  After this the Germans were forced to use fords to attempt crossing the river.  The Germans did successfully recon one possible hidden position for 2 points.  The score at the end of turn 1 was 152-140 in favor of the Germans.

On turn 2, the Germans respawned a Panzer IVD for the lost Sd.Kfz. 231 at no net point cost.  They also reconned a couple of French potential positions for 4 more points.  The French bought an additional SOMUA S35 for the cavalry for 10 points, and uncovered three of their own positions in order to meet a table-crossing threat from the surviving Sd.Kfz. 231 and a Panzer 38(t).  This gained them 6 points.  The Panzer 38(t) is a fast light tank, and was able to ford the river, along with the other scout car.  The French recognized this threat, and attempted to deal with it by activating its vehicles in the town.   The Germans used a Bonus Attack card to bring down smoke and obscure their movements.  The score at the end of turn 2 was 156-136 in favor of the Germans.

1 Sd.Kfz. 231 and Panzer 38(t) skirt the town
The Panzer 38(t) on the left and the Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) on the right successfully ford the river, fearing that the bridge was wired for demolition (it wasn’t).  They get ready to dash off the table into the vulnerable French rear.
2 Germans plan their assaults and roll dice
The Germans get some excellent movement rolls.
3 Char B1bis moves out in town
The French react and send tanks such as their Char B1 bis to stop the penetration by the Germans.
4 German smoke screen blocks Char B1
The Germans foil the Char B1 with a smoke screen.

On turn 3, the French hurriedly bought a Renault R40 for 8 points and tried to use it to stop the crossings.  The French also bought more Bonus Attack cards for 15 points.  The Germans bought nothing.  During the turn, the Germans successfully crossed the Panzer 38(t).  This despite the fact that at first the Char B1 crossed the smoke and missed it, and then the R40 shot at and missed it.  This crossing earned the Germans 8 points, and limited the French end-of-game bonus chances.

On the cavalry side of the table, the Germans tried another smoke screen to protect a Panzer IVD as it crossed a ford.  one of the smoke rounds hit the river mud and did not ignite – leaving a hole in the smoke screen.  The French cavalry S35 did manage to shoot and damage the Panzer IVD on the other side, just after it forded the river.  This pushed it back into the river.  The French SOMUA then called in and then destroyed it with an artillery barrage using a Bonus Attack card, earning 8 points as well (and blocking that ford).  The Germans also reconned another of the hidden positions for 2 points.  However, the Sd.Kfz. 231 made it to within 1″ of the other side of the table – and the R40 had a rear shot aimed at it at turn’s end.  The score at the end of turn 3 was 166-124 in favor of the Germans.

5 Sd.Kfz. 231 escapes R40 and Panzer 38(t) sees Char B1
The Char B1 crosses the smoke and takes aim at the Panzer 38(t) – and misses.  An R40 activated and missed the Panzer 38(t) as well.  The Panzer 38(t) then rolled well and was able to cross the table.  The German Sd.Kfz. 231 almost made it off of the table and was in the R40’s sights as turn 3 ended.
6 On other flank, bridge blows and fords attempted
The German smoke screen imperfectly covers the Panzer IVD after it fords the river…
7 Panzer IV knocked into ford and knocked out
The Panzer IVD is pushed back into the ford and destroyed by artillery and SOMUA fire.  This blocks the ford (to the consternation of the following Panzer 38(t)!).

On turn 4, the Germans respawned the crossing Panzer 38(t) and the destroyed Panzer IVD for identical models, and added a Bonus Attack card for a total spend of only 5 points.  The French bought 3 Bonus Attack cards in the hope of stopping the German scout car from crossing.  The R40 activated first, and then missed the Sd.Kfz. 231.  The German scout then crossed, ending any chance of a game bonus for the French and earning 11 points for the Germans.  The score at the end of turn 4 was 172-109 in favor of the Germans.

I failed to get any more photos after turn 4 (I think I was getting tired!)

On turns 5 and 6, the French were getting desperate as they knew they had lost the game bonus.  They bought an Hotchkiss H35, and a SOMUA S35 took out another Panzer IVD.  The Germans bought a StuG III ausf. A.  Both bought more Bonus Attack cards.  The Luftwaffe was called in on the Char B1 bis and successfully destroyed it.  That loss ended the game.  The score at the end of the game was 159-89 in favor of the Germans.

Both sides played well, bu I have to say the dice abandoned the French at critical times.  The Germans crossings sealed the fate of the game.  It’s nice to see that both games results have differed each time and that no side has an advantage.

After this, I packed up with help (especially from Leif Magnuson – who was a BIG HELP THANK YOU!), and went home to sleep.

I hope you enjoyed these battle reports.  Now that the COVID-19 is endangering lives, we’ll have to see if and when I get to run these games again soon.  Let’s all hope for the best, and prepare accordingly.

Wishing all of you and your families safety and health!

 

 

 

Battle of France 1940 at Mass Pikemen

The Mass Pikemen played an action-packed game at our February gaming session.  The game was a What a Tanker© game for my Battle of France, May-June 1940 scenario.  This also served as a final play test of the scenario before using it at upcoming gaming conventions (TotalCon 34, HAVOC, and HUZZAH!).

At the start of the game, each side gets 200 points to buy tanks and armored cars as well as Bonus Attack cards if the vehicle has a radio (all the Germans have radios, many French vehicles do not).  The French are defending and have the ability to deploy at secret positions known only to their side and the GM.  The French forces are divided – with half of the battlefield being under the responsibility of cavalry tanks, and half under infantry tanks.

The Germans are exiting wooded areas on two congested roads heading to two bridges over a river.  The German mission is to cross the board and exit the other side (and head to the English Channel) – and gain points for doing so.  There are also several possible fords over the river that are minor obstacles.

The French player may also spend points to wire either one or both bridges (or none) for demolition.  This status is also known only to the French side and the GM.  The French side may attempt to blow a bridge at any time, but failing to blow the bridge or allowing any Germans to cross makes subsequent demolition attempts more difficult.  If a bridge is blown while a vehicle is on it, that vehicle is destroyed.  Any side that destroys a vehicle gets points for that action as well.  As GM, I only announce who is ahead at the beginning of the turn, and I do not share the score so as to maintain a fog of war for the players and try to maintain a crew-focused battle.

1 Battle of France set up
Overview of the battlefield from the French side.  The French deploy infantry tanks left of the second road on the left, and cavalry tanks on the right of that road. 
2 Battle of France set up town
Detail of the town where most of the hidden positions are for the infantry tanks.  Both infantry and cavalry had access to Panhard 178’s and H35’s.
3 Battle of France French cav side
The right (French cavalry) side showing the river and the bridges.  The rocks in the river were designated as fords.
4 Battle of France Mike rolls dice
The German players deploy.
5 Battle of France Panzer 35(t) knocked out
From a hidden position, a Panhard 178 calls for anti-tank support.  Using a 47 mm anti-tank support card from the Bonus Attack cards, a Panzer 35(t) is torched before getting to a bridge, while a wary Panzer IVB watches.
6 Battle of France Panzer IVB on blown bridge knocked out
A German Sd.Kfz. (6-rad) recon car crosses the bridge without incident.  Feeling safe, the Panzer IVB tries to cross.  The French had waited for a bigger target, and successfully blew the bridge with the Panzer IVB on it – destroying the Panzer IVB.  In the rear, another Panzer 35(t) observes multiple burning comrades.
7 Battle of France Sd.Kfz. 231 knocked out by SOMUA
The Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) recons around a building and finds a SOMUA S35.  The SOMUA easily kills the German scout car, but not before taking some damage from Bonus Attack card artillery.
8 Battle of France river forded by Pzjager I and 38(t)
The battle heats up.  The surviving Panzer 35(t) fords the river as does a Panzerjager I with another Panzer IVB behind them.  The French activate the hidden Panhard, and the SOMUA S35 takes some more minor damage.
9 Battle of France SOMUA finally taken out by 88
The SOMUA S35 is hit by 88 fire and finally taken down by accumulated damage.  The black smoke indicates that the tank is knocked out, but the crew survived.  I use orange smoke to indicate that both crew and tank are destroyed.  
10 Battle of France Panhard dispatches 38(t)
Having taken damage from the SOMUA, the last Panzer 35(t) is knocked out by a daring attack by the charging Panhard 178.

At this point the game ended, and the French had a solid victory with the score being 158-112.  The French also got bonus points for no German being able to traverse the board.  The Germans made a couple of unsuccessful Luftwaffe attacks which hindered them as well as the early casualties.The scenario is pretty solid and the gamers made key decisions that affected the game.  I did run this scenario and three other games at TotalCon 34.  I will share the results of what happened at TotalCon 34 on a future post and things went differently!.

Thanks for looking!

German Armor for the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of France: Panzer 35(t), Panzer 38(t), Panzer IVB, and Panzer IVD Tanks; and Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) Armored Cars

This post marks the last of my vehicle additions for the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of France in May-June 1940.  These German vehicles were completed in late January, but with my personal situation, naturally my posting and hobby activities were put on hold.  Time has passed now and I want to return to a certain degree of normalcy – of course that’s not the easiest thing to do.  But I’ll try – and now let’s catch up and get back to good old hobby stuff.

As readers of this blog know, I had needed to augment the depth and breadth of my 15 mm/1:100 scale armor (both sides) for my What a Tanker© Battle of France 1940 scenario.  I also wanted to develop some Bonus Attack cards for it as well (similar to what I did with my Normandy Breakout! scenario).  I had promised to get these projects covered on the blog and share some about games that I have run for them (at club days and the TotalCon convention).  Here, I will focus here uniquely on these German vehicles and the Bonus Attack Cards and post about the gaming events separately.

Below is my poster for the game that I use at convention-style events.

02222020 TOTALCON Battle of France 1940

Previously, I had posted and described several projects in support of building this scenario – here they are for reference:

Basically, prior to this project I had only 11 German vehicles for the scenario, and the mix was a bit unbalanced to say the least.  I had 4 Panzer IIC’s, 1 Panzer IIIE, 1 Panzerjäger I, 2 Panzer IVD’s, and 3 Sturmgeschutz A’s.  Now that I have 23 French vehicles, I needed to increase the size of the available German vehicles for the scenario.

Back in May-June 1940, Panzer I’s and Panzer II’s did form a large proportion of the German armored forces in May-June 1940.  As Panzer I’s have only machine guns, which are somewhat useless in a tank-on-tank game).  As I have 4 Panzer IIC’s in the inventory, I decided to augment the light tanks with Panzer 35(t)’s and Panzer 38(t)’s.  These were originally built for the Czechoslovakian Army, and the Wehrmacht happily incorporated these vehicles into their units – and continued building the both after the annexation.  I got two metal Panzer 35(t) models (#GFV28) from QRF in the UK, and two metal and resin Panzer 38(t) models (#GE022) from Battlefront.  Perhaps later on I might add a Panzer I, we’ll see.

For the medium tanks, I “assigned” (for game purposes) my two currently-painted Wargame Models in Ohio Panzer IVD’s into ausf A versions – and added B and D variants of the venerable Panzer IV with Zvezda models (SKU #ZD35 or #6151 for each box) from The Plastic Soldier Company.  PSC has a reasonable deal for a platoon of 5 so I grabbed those.  I already have one Panzer IIIE model for France 1940, and decided that was enough of those (for now anyways).

Lastly, similar to what I did with the French Panhard 178’s , I added 2 Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) armored cars (#GE320) from Battlefront.  I know that the 8-wheeled versions were available and used in May 1940.  However, at the time the 6-wheel 231’s were being phased out in favor of the 8-wheeled versions – and I thought having the older ones would give a better feel to the scenario.  By building these models and converting the ones mentioned, I now have 23 vehicles available for both sides to choose.  I will go through a bit of a WIP with each type – as I did experiment a bit with contrast paints on them – to a bit of frustration which I will share.  I’ll also show the Bonus Attack Cards, some eye-candy shots, references, and list of paints for those interested.

General Assembly

The QRF Panzer 35(t) models were all metal, the Battlefront Panzer 38(t) and Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) models were metal and resin, and the Zvezda Panzer IV’s were plastic.  I cleaned and prepped them all prior to assembly and painting, to include magnetizing the turrets.  Some green stuff reinforcement and repair was needed.  My overall goal was to have vehicles that were more grey and less dark than my previous German vehicles for 1940.  The dark colors were also historically correct – I just wanted a bit more variety in the collection that was also historically correct.

1 German armor for 1940 part two
The 11 models for this project in their packaging.
3 Czech armor assembled
The Panzer 38(t) models and the Panzer 35(t) models assembled.
7 All assembled for painting
All of the 11 models are here assembled.
8 All mounted for painting
I always prime and base coat the tank bottoms first – they are affixed to small plastic plates with poster tack.

The painting process was a bit different for me this time.  I basically did this sequence with all 11 vehicles.  I wanted to test out the contrast paints, so I decided to try the “Space Wolves Grey” contrast paint over Vallejo “German Panzer Grey” primer – and the chassis were nearly purple.

2 Panzer 35(t) with Space Wolves Grey contrast paint
My Panzer 35(t)  model looking a bit too purple for my tastes.

I then went back and dry brushed them with Vallejo “White” primer, then used “Apothecary White” contrast paint and dry brushed with a few more grays and added some shading (see the list at the end of this post).

3 Panzer 35(t) turrets after Apothecary White contrast paint
After redoing with a dry brush of white, added “Apothecary White” as seen with these turrets.ion
4 Panzer 35(t) completed turrets
I shaded these, and more dry brushing, followed by decals.  Here are some turrets looking better!
2 Panzer IVD needs weathering
Here is a Panzer IV chassis before weathering.

For weathering, I used Vallejo pigments – a combination/blend of two pigments on these with a makeup brush for dusting effect.

5 Panzer 35(t) in progress weathering
Weathering this Panzer 35(t)

Then I varnished the tanks with Vallejo Mecha Color “Matt Varnish”.  Now, let’s look at each type in brief.

Panzer 35(t)

These were originally built by Skoda.  The (t) stands for the German word for Czech, which is tschechisch.  The Germans had 244 of these after the annexation, and used them in both the invasion of Poland and of France.   Around 132 were involved in the Battle of France, and they served in the Wehrmacht through the invasion of the USSR until the summer of 1941.  By that time, there were no more spare parts being made, was performing badly in the cold, and it was badly obsolete.  Some were then converted to other uses, and some sold to Romania.

The Panzer 35(t) had a reasonably good (for 1940) 37 mm gun capable of penetrating 30 mm of armor.  It was a light tank, and had maximum frontal armor of 25 mm, with 15-16 mm on the side, 15-19 mm on the rear, and 8 mm on the top.  This allowed better speed and greater range than most French contemporaries, with a top speed of 21 mph and a range of 120 miles from its 120 hp 4-cylinder engine.  The chassis armor was riveted together.  It did have a radio.

Panzer 38(t)

The Panzer 38(t) was another Czech “acquisition” as it were.  It was designed and built by CKD.  Over the course of the war, the Germans had over 1,400 – of which only about a hundred were used in France.

The Panzer 38(t) had a better 37 mm gun than the Panzer 35(t).  That gun was capable of penetrating 36-59 mm of armor.  It also was a light tank, with a (in 1940) maximum frontal armor of 30 mm.  It also had much better speed and greater range than most French (and some German) contemporaries, with a top speed of 26 mph and a range of 160 miles from its 123.3 hp 6-cylinder engine.  The chassis armor was riveted together, and the tank had a radio.  The tank itself was used by the Germans until 1942, and the chassis was reused for many other vehicles, notably the Grille and the Hetzer, as well as being exported to Sweden (who also built them under license), Slovakia, Romania, and even Peru.  Peru also had acquired some from Czechoslovakia and used them in combat in South America versus Ecuador in 1941 in the Ecuadorian-Peruvian War as well as 50 years later against the Shining Path insurgents.

1 Panzer 38(t) turrets with decals

Panzer 38(t) turrets late in project

2 Panzer 38(t) chassis with decals
Panzer 38(t) chassis – I was happy with this shade of grey.

Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad)

Most modelers and WWII gamers know the Sd.Kfz. 231 8-wheeled version but the 6-wheeled (“6-rad”) version preceded it.  Over 900 were built from 1932-1937.  The Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad)  and the 8-wheeled versions were both known as Schwerer Panzerspähwagen (heavy armored reconnaissance vehicle).  The acronym Sd.Kfz. stood for Sonderkraftfahrzeug (special purpose vehicle)The Sd.Kfz. 231 had the same automatic 20 mm gun as the Panzer II, so it had some anti-tank capability (able to penetrate 40 mm at 100 meters and 23 mm at 500 meters).  Like the Panhard 178, it could be driven either forwards or backwards with redundant driver positions.  Armor was thin (8-15 mm) but it could get up to 53 mph.  They served in the Wehrmacht up until the early stages of the invasion of the USSR.

The models did have some QC issues – notably big pieces of resin were missing on fenders and on the rear spare tire.  I fixed these with green stuff.  These will serve the Germans as (of course) reconnaissance vehicles for my 1940 scenario.

Panzer IVB and Panzer IVD

The Panzer IV is iconic and was ubiquitous in WWII in Europe and North Africa.  My goal for the game scenario was to have A, B, and D models, all of which participated in the Battle of France.  The Germans made only 35 A’s, which had less armor (only 14.5 mm on the front!) than the B’s and D’s (30 mm on the front) and a less powerful engine (247 hp) making it only capable of 19 mph.  The B’s and D’s had a 296 hp engine, and more armor, and were faster (26 mph).  The Germans made 42 B models and 248 D models.  There was a C model, but that did not have a hull-mounted machine gun like the B’s and D’s, so I opted not to build these as C’s (140 C’s were made).  All had the short 75 mm gun.

I designated 3 of the Zvezda models as B’s and 2 as D’s.  In the game, they have the same stats – and are almost identical anyways.  I did use white numbers for the B’s and red numbers for the D’s.

1 Panzer IVD mounted for painting
Panzer IVD assembled and mounted for priming.

 

1 Panzer IVB after wash and decals
Panzer IV B chassis later on before weathering added.
3 Panzer IVD Done!
Panzer IVD completed.

Bonus Attack Cards

In my scenario, each side starts at 200 points and must use points to buy vehicles and other combat items.  I added Bonus Attack cards, which were optional 5-point purchases apiece for each side.  I allow reconnaissance vehicles to buy and have up to two at a time, and others one.  The caveat is that your vehicle must have a radio!  So the French FT-17, FCM 36, R35, and H35 tanks cannot get these cards.  Additionally, there are two bridges that the French player can choose to wire for demolition – at a cost of 20 points each.  The river does have fords, but obviously that slows the Germans down.  The French player can wire two, one, or no bridges for demolition.  Only the French players and the GM know what has been done, and I allow them to try to blow the bridges at any time.  The attempts may fail, or they may drop a German tank into the river.  Each crossing German vehicle and each failed attempt makes the demolition more difficult.  I also added “dummy explosion cards” (with an exploding dummy on it) so that the French player can keep the Germans unsure whether the bridges were wired for demolition or not.  The Germans get the Luftwaffe here – and the French Air Force does not show up.

You can see the cards below – the players buy these and get random results:

  • 104 “Bonus Attack Cards” built for What a Tanker© games
    • 50 German cards
      • 16 Infantry Assault cards
      • 6 37 mm anti-tank gun cards
      • 3 88 mm anti-tank gun cards
      • 7 Artillery HE Support cards
      • 10 Air Support cards
      • 3 Artillery Smoke Support Cards
      • 2 Radio problem cards
      • 2 Quick Repair cards
      • 1 Heinz Guderian Arrives! card
    • 54 French cards
      • 20 Infantry Assault cards
      • 7 25 mm anti-tank gun cards
      • 4 47 mm anti-tank gun cards
      • 10 Artillery HE Support cards
      • 4 Artillery Smoke Support Cards
      • 2 Radio problem cards
      • 2 Quick Repair cards
      • 1 Charles de Gaulle Arrives! card
French Deck, 1940
French Deck
German Deck, 1940
German Deck

And finally, a couple of group shots in front of an old Maginot Line fort:

1 German armor group shot frontal2 German armor group shot frontal top

I am repeating my reference section below for those interested.

References

Throughout this project I have used many of the books that I have as references – here are some I have used and strongly recommend.  I do not get paid by anyone to recommend these, but I am sharing the links if you want to get them.  I did study with BG Robert Doughty at West Point over 35 years ago – and he did give me my copy of the B.T. White book in 1984 – that I still have and used many times.  There are certainly other books, but these I recommend.  I will be using these in my next phase with my German tank additions.

For history of the conflict I recommend buying:

Doughty, Robert A. (1985). The Seeds of Disaster: the development of French Army Doctrine 1919-1939. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole books. (available at Amazon here)

Doughty, Robert A. (1990). The Breaking Point: Sedan and the Fall of France, 1940. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole books.  (available at Amazon here)

Horne, Alistair. (1969, 1990). To Lose a Battle: France 1940. London: Penguin books. (available at Amazon here)

For modelers and gamers interested in the vehicles’ look and history:

Forty, G. and Livesey, J. (2017). The World Encyclopedia of Tanks & Armoured Fighting Vehicles.  London: Lorenz Books. (available at Amazon here)

Jackson, R. (2009). Tanks and  Armored Fighting Vehicles Visual Encyclopedia in color.  London: Amber Books. (available at Amazon here)

Restayn, Jean. (2007). World War II Tank Encyclopedia in color 1939-1945.  Paris: HISTOIRE & COLLECTIONS. (available at Amazon here)

Smithsonian Enterprises. (2017). Tank: the Definitive Visual History of Armored Vehicles.  New York, NY: Penguin Random House. (available at Amazon here)

White, B.T. (1972). Tanks and other A.F.V.s of the Blitzkrieg Era 1939 to 1941.  Dorset: Blandford Press. (available at Amazon here)

Zaloga, S. (2014). French Tanks of World War II (1): Infantry and Battle Tanks. New York, NY: Osprey.  (available at Amazon here)

Zaloga, S. (2014). French Tanks of World War II (2): Cavalry Tanks and AFVs. New York, NY: Osprey.  (available at Amazon here)

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THESE VEHICLES:

  1. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  2. 1/8″ neodymium magnets
  3. Green stuff (kneadatite)
  4. Gorilla Glue
  5. Poster tack and plastic plates
  6. Vallejo “Surface Primer – German Panzer Grey”
  7. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  8. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  9. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Space Wolves Grey”
  10. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White Primer”
  11. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Apothecary White”
  12. Vallejo “German Grey”
  13. Vallejo “Neutral Grey”
  14. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  15. Battlefront “Oxide Red”
  16. Citadel “Typhus Corrosion”
  17. Citadel “Ryza Rust”
  18. Army Painter “Dark Tone” (shade)
  19. Vallejo Model Weathering “Dark Rust Wash”
  20. Vallejo Model Air “Gloss Varnish”
  21. Microscale Micro-Set
  22. Microscale Micro-Sol
  23. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  24. Vallejo “Light Sienna” (pigment)
  25. Vallejo “Light Slate Grey” (pigment)
  26. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Thanks for looking – please let me know your thoughts and feedback!

 

Goodbye Dad, RIP

I have been dreading writing this post.

As you can tell, I lost my Dad, Anton (Tony) Patrick Morin, on February 7th at the age of 81 years, 6 months, and a day.  His obituary can be seen here.

I am Mark A. Morin.  The A is for Anton.  I have his name.  Dad was a proud Air Force veteran. His obituary has a lot of that information.  I guess this post is my way of breathing – and finding peace.

Dad declined quickly.  He was sent by ambulance to the hospital on Thursday, January 30th after he fell and had a mental break during which he was confused and yelling and just out of it.  He had resumed a degree of normalcy (such as it was) by the time I saw him that morning/afternoon in the hospital.  It appeared that he might have had a mass on his lung, but no explanation for the cognitive issues.  We did not know what was going on medically, and still do not (he had a lot of health issues).  My Mom was exhausted physically and emotionally, so I sent her home and I stayed with Dad.  He was in pain, but we did get to have some conversations.  He prayed aloud in pain and was worried about his soul and Heaven.  His own Dad abandoned him in the 40’s – and was absent in his life.  I got to tell my Dad that I wished that he had had a great Dad like I had.  And despite his pain, he smiled.

I knew he was dying, but one never knows how soon.  Ten years ago, he nearly died (he was hospitalized for months).  Thank God he lived another ten years.  This time, I waited until my Mom left and asked the nurses to get him a priest.  Father Jose came later around 7 PM and Dad was finally asleep.  He began to pray over him and Dad gently woke up.  Dad spoke with Fr. Jose and even in Spanish a bit (Dad was a multi-lingual guy).  He gave him The Last Rites and I got to pray The Our Father with my Dad.  He then went to sleep, and I left.

The next day (Friday February 1st) he was scheduled for a lot of tests so I did not go to see him.  I went Saturday morning and by then pretty much his mind was gone.  He could not communicate in any effective way and was totally confused.  His mental state never got any better from then on, and the cause of his condition remained a mystery.

Six days later, at 2:15 AM on Friday, February 7th, my Mom called to tell me that the hospital had called her to tell her that it would not be long.  We got to the hospital, and he was unconscious, on oxygen, but struggling to breathe.  His family was with him.  He was given some morphine for comfort, the oxygen mask was removed, and I held his hand as he took his last breath.

His funeral was at St. Camillus, our old family parish in Fitchburg, MA, on February 15th.  I got to speak and give a remembrance of Dad.  I was honored to do so and share what my Dad meant to me – about his Work Ethic, his love for his family, and his Faith.  It’s tough now, for sure.

However, I have Faith, the greatest gift he and my Mom ever gave to me.  I feel especially blessed that I got to pray with him the last time he could with me.

I will go on to blogging about the significantly less important aspects of life, but I felt that I needed to have a blog entry about Dad before I moved on.  I also held back posting from late January onward as all this was going on.  Dad loved history and loved seeing my miniatures, especially the tanks.  We all lose our Dads someday, and our worlds get smaller as a result.  But I believe Dad has earned his Eternal Reward and we will be together again someday.

I am not looking for pity – just needed to put this down in a brief way.  Thanks to all who reached out to me and my family – I will never forget your love and your compassion, and your friendship.

Love ya Dad, thanks for everything.  I’ll do my best to honor your memory and what you meant to me.

Dad and Ellen circa 1995
My Dad and my daughter Ellen 20 years or so ago

Dads Mass Cards

Dads hat
The US Air Force hat I bought Dad that you see in the pictures.  I now display it proudly.

French Armor for the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of France: AMC 35 Cavalry Tanks; Char D2, R40, FT17 Infantry Tanks; and Panhard 178 Armored Cars

This upcoming May-June will mark the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of France.  The world was never the same afterwards.  It was a cataclysmic defeat of the French Army – and there were many causes of it.  Some key ones were that the leadership of the French Army believed that the lessons of WWI taught them that the key to victory was to fight a “methodical battle” with every aspect of the fighting and deployment of firepower tightly controlled from higher headquarters.  By contrast, the German Army leadership preached the need of subordinates to act in accordance with the “commander’s intent”, and to take initiative down to the platoon level.  French officers were taught to stay at their command posts and manage the battlefield at the highest level.  German officers lead from the front, and made battlefield decisions in real time and exploited opportunities.  Importantly, French losses in WWI curtailed the birthing and hence the availability of men of military age in 1940.  German demographics managed to overcome their Great War losses and had plenty of available young men.  The Germans also taught the world the value and use of the tank, armored forces, and especially combined arms – and were the first to do so.  Thankfully, Great Britain is an island and that fact, plus the RAF, preserved the chance to defeat Hitler and save civilization.

Certainly, there are many, many other contributing causes to the crushing French defeat – far too many to review here – and I list several books later in this post that are what I consider must-reads for those wanting to understand this complex history.  I also list good resources on the tanks and armored cars as well of course for the gamer and modeler that I have found useful.  Understanding the Battle of France is not a simple case of one thinking that the Germans were destined to defeat the inferior French, or that the French were worthy of disdain on multiple levels.

Too often, I have found many of my countrymen (and others) dismissive of the French and the French Army based on the defeat of 1940.  To understand the whole picture, one must go much deeper.  My thoughts go to those killed in 1940 defending their country.  Also, I consider the 1.8 million soldiers of the French Army of 1940 who survived this humiliating defeat, and were sent as POW’s to Germany after the Armistice until 1945 as unwilling laborers.  Because of the Armistice agreement with Germany, their POW status would not change until the war was over.  They returned to a France that not only was devastated physically, but one who lionized the Resistance (rightly) and blamed France’s initial loss on them.  Hence, I doubt there will be much commemoration of this seminal battle by either the French or the Germans.

The true blame for the French defeat should be on the generals and the politicians of the Third Republic.  The French Army leadership failed to develop a proper fighting doctrine and failed to train the French Army in the 1930’s to win a war in 1940.  The politicians failed to ensure that France equipped and fielded a professional army to win a war in 1940.  Did some individual French soldiers perform miserably?  Absolutely – but that is true of every army in every conflict.  As the French politicians supported a policy of national mobilization (levée en masse) instead of a professional army as espoused by some (like Charles de Gaulle did in his book Vers l’armée de métier).  In essence, what occurred was that a well-trained and largely professional German army trounced a poorly-trained French one.  Ironically, the French had more tanks than the Germans, and some were better, but they were employed ineffectively.

Speaking of equipment, and of course tanks, this post concerns mostly just that.  This wraps up my build of French armor for the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of France.  I started building my French armor in November 2018 (SOMUA S35’s and Renault R35’s here), then adding to it last month with some FCM 36’s (here), and some Hotchkiss H35 and H39’s (here).  I already had two pre-painted Char B1 bis tanks, so I needed to add some more variety – as I will be doing next for the Germans as well.

My goal is to have a proper variety of historically available vehicles that saw combat in 1940 for my What a Tanker© games that I run at conventions and club meetings.  To round out my forces I added 9 vehicles: 3 cavalry tanks (3 AMC 35’s); 3 infantry tanks (1 Renault R40, 1 Renault Char D2, and 1 FT17); and 3 armored cars (3 Panhard 178’s).  These models here are all 100% metal.  I’ll discuss each type briefly, and share how I built and painted the models.

I’ll also share some eye-candy on the completed models, and the materials that I used to paint them.  As a quick aside, I had run low on my Battlefront paints.  As a replacement a paint set I found (on eBay) was a Hataka French Early War Armor set.  It looks to be out of production, hence my eBay acquisition.  Hataka sounds like it might be a Japanese company, but it’s actually a Polish one.  I had wanted proper colors, and while I did like the colors I used here, this was a difficult paint set to thin, especially in my airbrush.  There was definitely a learning curve.

I ended up using a 0.5 mm needle – and close to 30 psi in my airbrush.  Each bottle was 17 ml, and had an internal mixer of some type in them that you could hear when shaking them.  The colors were great for French vehicles of 1940, but they took some getting used with both the airbrush and the standard brush.

Now, let’s discuss the vehicles!

AMC 35

The AMC 35 was a medium cavalry tank.  It was also known as the Renault ACG-1.  It had a good 47 mm gun, and was the first French tank with a two-man turret.  It’s maximum speed approached 26 mph, due in part to a 180 hp engine, but also due its having less weight due to less than great armor at 25 mm thick.  Only 100 of these were built.  Thirteen were sold to the Belgians, and none were in any French units until after the crucial German breakthrough at Sedan on May 15, 1940.  After that point, all reserve materiel was sent to fight.  Therefore the crews would have had virtually no training on these tanks prior to combat, and training is indispensable.  Compounding the issue of training, mechanically, the tanks were not overly reliable (though that is a common issue with French tanks of that era).  Captured vehicles were only used by the Germans for driver training.  One vehicle survives today that was recovered from a ravine and restored.

The models came from Old Glory, (come in packets of three) and were in pretty good shape.  Some minor filing was needed to prep the models.

The Hataka paint was a bit thick, leaving a visible (almost raised) border next to my masking with poster tack.  For the first time, I decided to line the paint borders by hand.  I was a bit apprehensive, but I think it worked fine for the tabletop.

6 AMC 35 camo lining
My first try at hand-lining the camouflage colors.
7 AMC 35 camo after brown
I then added browns and tried to smooth out overly thick lines by filling in with the green and yellow next to the black lines.
8 AMC 35's completed
The AMC 35’s on my workbench with the image that I blew up and used as a guide (from B.T. White’s 1972 book with illustrations by John Wood – see citation in references below).

R40

The Renault R40 was an infantry tank, an improved version of the R35.  Officially, it was just a variant of the R35 called Char léger modèle 1935 R modifié 1939.  It had a longer 37mm gun with the ability to penetrate up to 40 mm of armor.  The suspension was improved over the R35, and it looked very different than the original.    Delays caused it to not be fielded except to the last two French Army tank battalions and to the Polish 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade (which fought in France after the defeat of Poland).  One major improvement was the inclusion of radios.  Captured R35 and R40 vehicles were extensively used and converted to other uses by the Germans.  None survive today.

The model came from QRF and was in reasonably good shape and needed little filing.  It was also very reasonably priced.  As this was a rare vehicle, having to buy only 1 was a plus.  Painting was easy as there were neither any decals nor camouflage painting needed due to their being hurried to the front in 1940.

1 R40 unassembled
Nice easy 4 pieces
2 R40 chassis awaiting weathering
The chassis – I magnetized the hull and the turret for ease of play.
3 completed with guide
Completed R40.

Char D2

The Char D2 was a medium infantry tank, also built by Renault.  It was an interim design, a heavier and improved version of the Char D1, and it was supposed to bridge the gap until the Char B series could be built in sufficient numbers.  However, the production of the Char B1 bis never attained the needed levels.  Thus it served on the front lines – notably under Charles de Gaulle – and in some of the best tank battalions in the French Army.  It had a 47 mm gun, and 40 mm of armor, and like the AMC 35, radios.  After the fall of France, the Germans took off some D2 turrets and mounted them on armored trains in the Balkans.  Only 100 were built, and none survived the war.

The model came from QRF as well.  It was a bulky one, and needed a good bit of filing as there were a few dings and heavy mold lines.  Still, at the price and needing to only buy one, it worked for me.

4 QRF Char D2 base coat
Getting the Char D2 base coated – you can see some dings on the side and top that were not amenable to filing.
5 QRF Char D2 early camo
Early work on the camouflage scheme on the chassis.
6 QRF Char D2 early camo turret
Early work on the camouflage scheme on the turret.  I did similar painting work to what I did with the AMC 35’s.
7 Completed Char D2
With the picture from Jean Restayn’s great book that I used as a guide.  I considered painting the white circles under the diamond but decided not to as I thought this worked as is.

FT17

This WWI survivor was one I added to my force just because there were 504 FT17’s still serving in seven front-line tank battalions in 1939 – not counting over a hundred vehicles in French colonies.  The FT17 infantry tank had the same 37 mm gun as many other French contemporaries like the R35, H35, and FCM 36.  Armor was enough to stop small arms at best (maximum was 22 mm).  Against the Wehrmacht, they were pretty ineffective.  Many survive as over 3,000 were made by the French, and almost 1,000 under licence in the US (see below for one of those 35 miles from my house).

The model came from Peter Pig and was sold as a single.  That worked for me, as I did not want a lot of these in the game.  It was in good shape.

7 WWI FT17
The FT-17 (American-made version) at the American Heritage Museum.
6 FT-17 getting decals
My FT 17 chassis after adding a roundel decal but before applying weathering effects.
7 completed with guide
My FT17 model with the Restayn page I used as a painting guide.

Panhard 178

The Panhard 178  (nicknamed the “Pan-Pan) was a superb 4×4 armored car for its day.  It equipped French cavalry and infantry division reconnaissance units in 1940.  It ended up being used by the Germans extensively after the Fall of France, and indeed was used after the war by the French until the 1960’s.  It also equipped other forces, especially former French colonies.  It had a good two-man turret, and its 25 mm gun could penetrate up to 50 mm of armor.  It also was reasonably fast, and could do 26 mph off-road and almost 45 mph on the road.  An assistant driver had controls in the vehicle’s rear allowing for fast reverse if needed.  Protection was good for an armored car (20 mm armor in places), but as a recon vehicle its job was not taking on enemy tanks.  Over 1,100 were built, and many survive today..

I plan to use them in my games as recon vehicles similar to what I did with my Normandy Breakout! scenario.  They will be able to hide better than a tank, and I will be assigning them extra bonus attack cards from a French-specific deck.  Likely I will make cards for French artillery, infantry, and anti-tank support, but no air support (the Germans’ recon will appropriately get that!).

Here I got one Panhard 178 model from Peter Pig and two models from QRF.  The Peter Pig model had a sleeve for the turret to fit into the chassis.  I just added a magnet in the inside top to attract one of my blast markers if needed.  The QRF models I magnetized as I usually do.  The Peter Pig model is much more detailed.  The QRF models were pretty disappointing and I needed to sculpt gun replacements for both (see below).  The QRF models needed a lot of filing too.  In the end, I think I made all three effectively for tabletop play – you of course can be the judge!

2 QRF Panhards need new guns
The guns on the Panhard 178 models from QRF were in need of “stiffening”.  You can also see the mold lines here too.
5 QRF gun repairs
Here, the guns on the two left Panhard 178 (QRF) turrets have been replaced with paper clip wire placed into drill holes.  I added green stuff to recreate the shape of the main gun that you see on the Peter Pig turret on the right.
6 all three Panhard 178's assembled
The three Panhard 178’s after assembly with the new guns on the outer models.
7 primed comparison of Panhard detail
After priming – a comparison of the detail on the Peter Pig model on the left and the QRF model on the right.
8 Panhard turrets base coated
Panhard 178 turrets after base coating with the Hataka paint.
8 PP Panhard chassis base coated
The Peter Pig model chassis showing the sleeve well for the turret.
9 all three base coated
All three models base coated.
10 Panhards masked for camo
Masking for camouflage paint application.
11 Panhards getting decals
The three after decals and varnish.  Each turret got a different number for ease of play.
12 completed with guide
My Peter Pig Panhard 178 in front of an image of the one at the Musée des Blindés in France that I used as a painting guide.

Eye Candy

Now, please enjoy some close ups of the completed vehicle models against a backdrop of the French countryside!

AMC 35:

R40:

Char D2:

FT17:

Panhard 178:

Lastly, as these French models are far less known than say a later-war Sherman or a Tiger I  – here are some size comparisons with a Char D2 and an AMC 35:

A Side Note on Photography

I try to make my posts visually appealing.  My camera is an iPhone 7.  I tried to use a technique offered by Per on his excellent blog Roll a One and use my computer monitor screen as a backdrop.  While I really appreciated the suggestion, the lighting for me did not work and I got shine on the screen as shown below.  Also, my cows were monster-size (though adequately-sized targets for my French tanks!)!

After seeing a post by Ted Salonich showing a photo booth for miniatures on a local hobby store’s (Great Stories) Facebook page, I was inspired to try my spray booth as a photo booth – and it worked quite well.  I printed off the backdrop shot onto a piece of card stock, and using PowerPoint made a ground piece to match the connecting ground.  I did this by making a new slide and cutting and pasting matching the grass background from the original backdrop slide. I started the fan and the backdrop image was sucked against the filter –  and I was able to mount the booth floor with poster tack.

1 AMC with computer screen
Too much shine, not level, and man, look at the size of those cows!
2 Crazed D2 pic
Sometimes I got the “crazing” of the screen with the monitor.
3 shadows
Shadows and scale posed problems for me.
4 New photo set up!

This (above) was my last solution – and I used this for my eye-candy shots you saw above.  I like it a lot – your thoughts?

Below is a shot taken in the spray booth.

10 All AMC 35's

Storage and Transport

The storage and transport of miniatures to games is an issue.  I have zero intention of having my models damaged or destroyed in transit.  I use a 4-liter Really Useful Box, and cut a 2″ foam piece from Home Depot to fit snugly in the box.  I cut up and lined the bottom with a similarly-sized piece of thin foam from Michael’s.  Then I mock up sizes of the tanks with card stock and trace them onto the foam.  I also take a photo to remember what tank goes where.  Using a new and very sharp Exacto knife, I carefully remove the openings by cutting as vertically as possible.  I start by patiently removing pieces from the middle and continue moving outward in a circle.  I then affix the card stock pieces to the bottom of the hole openings with tape to mark the locations of the tanks.  I thought I’d share this as it may help others.   

1 Box plan
The mock up.
2 Box executed
My French Armor force in its new home.

References

Throughout this project I have used many of the books that I have as references – here are some I have used and strongly recommend.  I do not get paid by anyone to recommend these, but I am sharing the links if you want to get them.  I did study with BG Robert Doughty at West Point over 35 years ago – and he did give me my copy of the B.T. White book in 1984 – that I still have and used many times.  There are certainly other books, but these I recommend.  I will be using these in my next phase with my German tank additions.

For history of the conflict I recommend buying:

Doughty, Robert A. (1985). The Seeds of Disaster: the development of French Army Doctrine 1919-1939. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole books. (available at Amazon here)

Doughty, Robert A. (1990). The Breaking Point: Sedan and the Fall of France, 1940. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole books.  (available at Amazon here)

Horne, Alistair. (1969, 1990). To Lose a Battle: France 1940. London: Penguin books. (available at Amazon here)

For modelers and gamers interested in the vehicles’ look and history:

Forty, G. and Livesey, J. (2017). The World Encyclopedia of Tanks & Armoured Fighting Vehicles.  London: Lorenz Books. (available at Amazon here)

Jackson, R. (2009). Tanks and  Armored Fighting Vehicles Visual Encyclopedia in color.  London: Amber Books. (available at Amazon here)

Restayn, Jean. (2007). World War II Tank Encyclopedia in color 1939-1945.  Paris: HISTOIRE & COLLECTIONS. (available at Amazon here)

Smithsonian Enterprises. (2017). Tank: the Definitive Visual History of Armored Vehicles.  New York, NY: Penguin Random House. (available at Amazon here)

White, B.T. (1972). Tanks and other A.F.V.s of the Blitzkrieg Era 1939 to 1941.  Dorset: Blandford Press. (available at Amazon here)

Zaloga, S. (2014). French Tanks of World War II (1): Infantry and Battle Tanks. New York, NY: Osprey.  (available at Amazon here)

Zaloga, S. (2014). French Tanks of World War II (2): Cavalry Tanks and AFVs. New York, NY: Osprey.  (available at Amazon here)

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THESE VEHICLES:

  1. Microscale Liquid Decal Film (except R40)
  2. 1/8″ neodymium magnets
  3. Green stuff (kneadatite)
  4. Gorilla Glue
  5. Poster tack and ¼” square wooden dowels on plastic plates
  6. Reaper MSP “Black Primer”
  7. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  8. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  9. Vallejo “Surface Primer – USA Olive Drab”
  10. Vallejo “Black Grey”
  11. Hataka “Jaune d’ochre” (only on AMC 35’s, Char D2, and FT17)
  12. Hataka “Vert foncé”
  13. Hataka “Terre d’ombre” (only on AMC 35’s and Panhard 178’s)
  14. Hataka “Gris vert” (only on FT17)
  15. Battlefront “Oxide Red” (only on R40 and FT17)
  16. Citadel “Typhus Corrosion” (only on R40 and FT17)
  17. Army Painter “Military Shader” (shade)
  18. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  19. Vallejo Model Air “Gloss Varnish” (except R40)
  20. Vallejo Model Air “Satin Varnish” (except R40)
  21. Microscale Micro-Set (except R40)
  22. Microscale Micro-Sol (except R40)
  23. Appropriate decals from Battlefront (except R40)
  24. Vallejo Weathering Effects “European Thick Mud”
  25. Vallejo Weathering Effects “European Splash Mud”
  26. Vallejo Weathering Effects “Crushed Grass”
  27. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Thanks for looking – please let me know your thoughts and feedback!

 

2019 Hobby, Gaming, and Blogging Roundup

2019 was a bigger year for this blog and my gaming and hobby activities.  I was able to run several games of Combat Patrol™  and What a Tanker© at HAVOC, BARRAGE, the Fort Devens Games Day, The Historical Gaming Club of Uxbridge, and monthly sessions of the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.  I managed to get an award at HAVOC – and attend HUZZAH for the first time in Maine.  It was a busy gaming year.  

Always happy to get this type of recognition!

In support of all these activities, of course I had a number of projects in terms of assembling, painting, and creating. I documented these here. Being an analytical type of guy I kept a spreadsheet of my hobby activities (below) and listed them on a page of this blog with links (also below).

My hobby activities tracker

The entire list and links are at the end of this blog which will refer to each project. These links are very useful to me in reviewing previous projects as to what paints I used, what techniques, etc.

The building and painting of tanks and support materials made up the largest part of my 775 project activities in 2019 (106 tanks I believe – 43 German, 23 UK, 18 US, 15 Italian, and 7 French), and the remainder were models for retro sci-fi games (around 50 or so).

The blog itself grew by a lot, and I was very pleased about that. In 2019, there were 20,965 views (versus 13,743 in 2018) by 13,819 visitors (versus 8,295 in 2018). I managed to get in 36 posts, 3 more than in 2018. I must say a huge thanks to all of my readers and followers of my blog!  I especially appreciate all of you (and you know who you are) – who took the time to give me feedback – it was great to hear all of your perspectives. THANK YOU!

So what’s next for 2020? My goals are always changeable (hell, its a hobby right), but here is my current list:

  • Games:
    • Run convention games at TotalCon, HAVOC, HUZZAH, BARRAGE, and the Fort Devens Game Day (and a few more maybe)
    • Grow the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club with new members and new GM’s
    • Support the Historical Gaming Club of Uxbridge 
  • Models:
    • Build a suitable force of French and German tanks for the Battle of France scenario for 80th anniversary of this event
    • Build 2 or more new platoons for retro sci-fi games of Combat Patrol
    • Start the Nomonhan project
  • Other:
    • Complete a supplement for Feudal Patrol for Mesoamerican warfare (Aztecs, etc)
    • Be productive, but never sacrifice quality
    • Grow the blog and find new ones to follow!
    • Entertain my audience!
  • Golf:
    • Get my handicap below 14 (if I have enough non-gaming time!)

Thanks again for reading this and making my little hobby blog a part of your day!  Here are the massive details of 2019 below:

2019 Total Miniatures & Projects to Date: 775

  • 153 figures painted
  • 57 figures cast
  • 86 figures assembled
  • 28 terrain pieces made or assembled
  • 36 terrain pieces painted
  • 1 figure conversion
  • 2 creation or component sculpted or scratch-built
  • 2 molds made
  • 410 game pieces/game aids made and/or painted

January: 52 projects

  • Figures painted (26):
    • 9 British tanks painted for What a Tanker© in North Africa:
      • 2 A10 Cruiser Mark IIA (Desert) tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR023)
      • 1 A13 Cruiser Mark IVA (Desert) tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR026)
      • 1 Valentine II tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR060)
      • 1 Valentine III tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR061)
      • 1 Crusader II tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR032)
      • 1 Crusader III tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR034)
      • 1 M3 Grant tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR100)
      • 1 Churchill II tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR070)
    • 17 German tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in North Africa and France 1940:
      • 2 Panzerjager I’s (one for France 1940 and one for North Africa)(15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE100)
      • 3 Panzer IIC’s (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX108) for France 1940
      • 6 Panzer IIF’s (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX108) for North Africa
      • 2 Panzer IIIE’s (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE030) for North Africa
      • 1 Panzer IIIH (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE031) for North Africa
      • 1 Panzer IVF2 (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE042) for North Africa
      • 1 M3 Stuart “Honey” tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR006) –  one captured by the Germans for use in North Africa 
      • 1 Tiger I (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE070) for North Africa
  • Figures assembled (10):
    • 10 German tanks/tank destroyers assembled:
      • 2 Panzerjager I’s (one for France 1940 and one for North Africa)(15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE100)
      • 5 Panzer IIC’s and F’s (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX108) for North Africa
      • 1 Panzer IIIH (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE031) for North Africa
      • 1 Panzer IVF2 (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE042) for North Africa
      • 1 Tiger I (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE070) for North Africa
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (16):
    • 16 dashboards built for What a Tanker© games

February: 71 projects

  • Figures painted (13):
    • 12 Italian tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in North Africa
      • 1 M14/41 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#IT040) for North Africa
      • 4 Semovente 47/32 tank destroyers (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#IT101) for North Africa
      • 1 Semovente Carro Comando M41 75/18 tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#IT110) for North Africa
      • 1 Semovente 5/18 tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#IT111) for North Africa
      • 3 M13/40 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Wargame Models in Ohio for North Africa (repainted)
      • 2 L6/40 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Wargame Models in Ohio for North Africa (repainted)
    • 1 German tank painted for What a Tanker© in North Africa
      • 1 Panzer IVD (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE040) for North Africa
  • Figures assembled (8):
  • Terrain pieces made or assembled (5):
    • 1 German Panzer IVD tank wreck made for North Africa as a terrain piece using a defective tank (15mm/1:100 scale) from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE040) 
    • 4 smoke/blast markers made
  • Terrain pieces painted (5):
    • 4 smoke/blast markers painted
    • 1 German Panzer IVD tank wreck made for North Africa as a terrain piece using a defective tank (15mm/1:100 scale) from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE040) 
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (40):

March: 138 projects

  • Figures painted (5):
  • Figures assembled (5):
    •  3 Italian tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in North Africa
      • 3 M11/39
  • Terrain pieces made or assembled (19):
      • 8 ITC Terrain Series Damaged Urban Barricades assembled
      • 11 smoke/blast markers made
  • Terrain pieces painted (23):
    • 4 berms painted for use with my Wasteland mat
    • 8 ITC Terrain Series Damaged Urban Barricades painted
    • 11 smoke/blast markers painted
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (86):
    • 22 dashboards built for What a Tanker© games
    • 64 “Bonus Attack Cards” built for What a Tanker© games
      • 18 Infantry Assault Cards
      • 12 Combat Engineer Cards
      • 12 Artillery Support Cards
      • 12 Anti-Tank Gun Support Cards
      • 12 Air Support Cards

April: 16 projects

  • Figures assembled (16):
    •  11 German tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in Normandy and the Eastern Front
      • 1 Marder III tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE104) for Normandy
      • 1 Panzer IVE tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE041) for Normandy
      • 5 Panzer IVH tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX121)  (2 for Normandy, 3 for the Eastern Front)
      • 1 Panzer IVF2 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE042)  for the Eastern Front
      • 1 Panther tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE060) for Normandy
      • 2 Tiger I tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX107)  (1 for Normandy, 1 for the Eastern Front)
    • 3 American tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in Normandy 
      • 1 M3A1 Stuart tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US003) for Normandy
      • 1 M4A2 Sherman tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US045) for Normandy
      • 1 M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US102) for Normandy
    • 2 American tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in the ETO
      • 2 M24 Chaffee light tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from some guy on eBay (magnetized turrets and cleaned up model)

May: 25 projects

  • Figures painted (22):
    • 3 American tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in Normandy 
      • 1 M3A1 Stuart tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US003) for Normandy
      • 1 M4A2 Sherman tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US045) for Normandy
      • 1 M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US102) for Normandy
    • 2 American tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in the ETO
      • 2 M24 Chaffee light tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from some guy on eBay
    • 17 German tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in Normandy and the Eastern Front
      • 1 Marder III tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE104) for Normandy
      • 1 Panzer IVE tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE041) for Normandy
      • 5 Panzer IVH tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX121)  (2 for Normandy, 3 for the Eastern Front)
      • 1 Panzer IVF2 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE042)  for the Eastern Front
      • 1 Panther tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE060) for Normandy
      • 2 Tiger I tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GBX107)  (1 for Normandy, 1 for the Eastern Front)
      • 1 Elefant/Ferdinand tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#GE132) for Normandy
  • Terrain pieces painted (3):
    • 3 fields painted

June: 190 projects

  • Figures painted (14):
    • 8 German tanks/tank destroyers/armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe and North Africa 
      • 5 German armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe and North Africa
        • 3 SdKfz 231 (15mm/1:100 scale), from The Plastic Soldier Company (#WW2V15031), 2 for North Africa, 1 for Normandy
        • 2 SdKfz 233 (15mm/1:100 scale), from The Plastic Soldier Company (#WW2V15031), both for Normandy
      • 1 Jagdpanther tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z106) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
      • 1 Jagdtiger tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z105) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
      • 1 Tiger II (King Tiger) tank (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z101) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
    • 3 American armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe
    • 3 British armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe
  • Figures assembled (14):
    • 5 German armored cars assembled for What a Tanker©
      • 2 SdKfz 231 (15mm/1:100 scale), from The Plastic Soldier Company (#WW2V15031)
      • 3 SdKfz 233 (15mm/1:100 scale), from The Plastic Soldier Company (#WW2V15031)
    • 3 German tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker©
      • 1 Jagdpanther tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z106) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
      • 1 Jagdtiger tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z105) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
      • 1 Tiger II (King Tiger) tank (15mm/1:100 scale), Zveda model – (#Z101) bought from The Plastic Soldier Company
    • 3 American armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe
      • 3 M8 Greyhound armored cars (15mm/1:100 scale), Old Glory/Command Decision (#CD207) bought from Old Glory Miniatures
    • 3 British armored cars painted for What a Tanker© in Europe
      • 3 Daimler Dingo (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR310)
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (162):

July: 28 projects

  • Figures painted (9):
    • 9 British tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in Normandy campaign/ETO
      • 1 Cromwell Mark IV Cruiser tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR041)
      • 5 Cromwell Mark IV Cruiser tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BBX31)
      • 2 M10 Achilles tank destroyers (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-111)
      • 1 Churchill IV heavy infantry tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR074)
  • Figures assembled (16):
    • 9 British tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in Normandy campaign/ETO
      • 1 Cromwell Mark IV Cruiser tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR041)
      • 5 Cromwell Mark IV Cruiser tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BBX31)
      • 2 M10 Achilles tank destroyers (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-111)
      • 1 Churchill IV heavy infantry tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BR074)
    • 7 American tanks/tank destroyers assembled for What a Tanker© in Normandy campaign/ETO
      • 5 M4A1 Sherman tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BBX42) – British Shermans to be used as Americans
      • 1 M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-111) – Achilles with US gun to be used as an M10 Wolverine
      • 1 M36 Hellcat tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US106)
  • 1 terrain piece painted
  • 1 figure converted
    • 1 M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-111) – Achilles with US gun converted as an M10 Wolverine
  • 1 creations or components sculpted or scratch-built

August: 49 projects

  • Figures painted (7):
    • 7 American tanks/tank destroyers painted for What a Tanker© in Normandy campaign/ETO
      • 5 M4A1 Sherman tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#BBX42) – British Shermans to be used as Americans
      • 1 M10 Wolverine tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-111) – Achilles with US gun to be used as an M10 Wolverine
      • 1 M36 Hellcat tank destroyer (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront Miniatures (#US106)
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (40):
    • 40 tank destroyed/blast markers made for What a Tanker© games
      • 20 brewed up tank burning markers
      • 20 knocked out/disabled tank smoke markers
  • Molds made (2)

September: 72 projects

October: 23 projects

  • Figures painted (5):
    • 5 classic movie monsters painted for Halloween diorama piece
      • 1 Ral Partha 25mm “Dracula” (#01-014) from the “Personalities and Things that Go Bump in the Night” line, circa 1976.
      • 1 Ral Partha 25mm “The Mummy” (#01-020) from the “Personalities and Things that Go Bump in the Night” line, circa 1976.
      • 1 Ral Partha 25mm “Were Wolf” (#01-061) from the “Personalities and Things that Go Bump in the Night” line, circa 1979.
      • 1 Ral Partha 25mm “Werewolf” (#98-003) from the “The Adventurers” line, circa 1979.
      • 1 Ral Partha 25mm “Frankenstein’s Monster” (#98-003) from the “The Adventurers” line, circa 1979.
  • Terrain pieces painted (4):
    • 4 slag mounds on old CD’s.
  • Creations or components sculpted or scratch-built (1):
    • 1 Halloween Diorama
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (13):
    • 11 casualty cards made for “THE MIND AND THE MACRON”
    • 2 unit data cards made for Combat Patrol

November: 7 projects

  • Figures assembled (7):
    • 3 French tanks assembled for What a Tanker© in France 1940
      • 3 FCM 36 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory Miniatures (#CD-608)
    • 4 figures for my Retrovian Platoon
      • 3 “The Bra’sheer” three-legged Retrovian vehicles, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-07)
      • 1 “Garkkon” monster, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-11)

December: 104 projects

  • Figures painted (41):
    • 7 French tanks painted for What a Tanker© for France 1940
    • 34 figures for my Retrovian Platoon
      • 3 “The Bra’sheer” three-legged Retrovian vehicles, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-07)
      • 1 “Garkkon” monster, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-11)
      • 2 “Retrovian Captain” figures, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-50)
      • 3 “Retrovian Trooper Aiming Blaster” figures, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-54)
      • 15 “Retrovian Trooper Advancing with Blaster” figures, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-55)
      • 4 “Retrovian Sniper with Vision Enhancer & Needle Blaster” figures, 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-56)
      • 6 “Retrovian Two Man Sonic Cannon Team” figures (6 figures total), 28mm scale, from Wargames Supply Dump Miniatures Dirk Garrison line (#DG-58)
  • Figures assembled (10):
    • 10 French tanks/armored cars assembled for What a Tanker© in France 1940
      • 1 Hotchkiss H35 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront (#FR020)
      • 2 Hotchkiss H39 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Battlefront (#FR020)
      • 1 Hotchkiss H39 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Peter Pig (#PP33)
      • 3 AMC 35 tanks (15mm/1:100 scale), from Old Glory (#CD606)
      • 1 Char D1/D2 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from QRF (#FFV10)
      • 1 FT-17 tank (15mm/1:100 scale), from Peter Pig (#PP252)
      • 1 Panhard 178 armored car (15mm/1:100 scale), from Peter Pig (#PP25)
  • Game pieces/game aids made or painted (53):
    • 7 dashboards built for French 1940 tanks in What a Tanker© games
      • 3 FCM 36 dashboards
      • 1 H35 dashboard
      • 3 H39 dashboards
    • 6 unit data cards made for my Retrovians use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games
    • 3 vehicle data cards made for my Retrovians use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games
    • 3 vehicle data cards updated for my Mark 1 Sphere tanks use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games
    • 34 casualty cards made for my Retrovians use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games

 



French Armor for the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of France: Hotchkiss H35 and H39 Light Cavalry Tanks

Amazingly, this upcoming May-June 2020 will mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of France.  I am curious as to how it will be remembered – if at all.  Certainly I would think that both the French and the Germans will likely shy away from commemorating the event for diametrically opposed reasons.  Yet, it is definitely worth remembering it as a seminal event that without question fashioned all of the world’s history since.

I have studied this battle since my days at West Point.  I was fortunate there to study with the then-USMA Department of History Chair COL Robert A. Doughty (now a retired Brigadier General).  I was able to participate in a class (HI498 – a colloquium) with him and just one other cadet during my second semester senior year as part of my concentration of studies in French.  A side note – my class – 1984 – was the last class not to have majors – we had concentrations.  This meant we could choose 8 classes outside of the 44 classes in the core curriculum.  As I love military history, especially French military history, this colloquium was a great opportunity.  We studied Alistair Horne’s works among others.

BG Doughty has authored many books (just check out this list on Amazon), many that focus on France from WWI to WWII.  I recently got two excellent books on the subject that he published after I graduated that I have not read: The Seeds of Disaster: The Development of French Army Doctrine, 1919-39, (which discusses how the French Army came to set themselves up for disaster) and The Breaking Point  (dealing with the pivotal Sedan breakthrough in 1940).  I also plan on rereading Alistair Horne’s To Lose a Battle: France 1940 as well.

The reason for all this reading and research is (well, besides for pure pleasure) to prepare myself to be fully knowledgeable ready to run several tank battle games set in France in May-June 1940 using the What a Tanker© rules.  Obviously, the games will be, at best, an abstraction of what happened.  However, I wanted to have requisite knowledge of the battle and to prepare and build suitable models for both sides to give a proper flavor to the conflict that shocked the world.  I did get an A- in the colloquium, but that was 35½ years ago, I want to refresh!

Previously, I have built French and German tanks and run several France 1940 games described in this blog – but my 15mm/1:100 scale tank inventory was quite lacking in terms of the wide variety of vehicles used.  I aim to remedy that.  I am currently planning on running a game at TotalCon in February, and at HAVOC in April.  I may do others as well, plus club gaming sessions.  This blog post describes the first chapter of my preparation and force building upgrades for those events – four Hotchkiss light cavalry tanks (one H35 and three H39’s).

I will go over a bit of history of the Hotchkiss tanks and then show some WIP shots of the models.  I will then share some eye-candy shots of the finished models.  Lastly, as per usual, I will share the paints and materials used in this project.

The H35 tank was originally rejected by the infantry, who chose the R35 instead.  It was intended to be a light cavalry tank, though it did equip some infantry tank units as well.  Hotchkiss built around 1200 H35’s and H39’s, with the majority being H35’s.  The Hotchkiss company was actually founded by an American from Connecticut, Benjamin Hotchkiss.  He was a Union ordnance engineer at Colt and a munitions builder during the American Civil War.  Finding no US business after that conflict, he moved to France and set up his own company.

The H35 and H39 both had the same  37mm SA18 gun that many French tanks had though the H39 had a longer barrel with better armor penetration (30mm vs 23mm of armor with the shorter barrel).  Given that a Panzer IIIE of the time had 30mm of armor all around, this was not adequate to be sure.  It had a crew of just two, which made it challenging to operate effectively in battle.  Three out of four of the armored divisions’ tank regiments had Hotchkiss tanks (the other one had SOMUA S35’s).  The armor was adequate, but with a range of only 80 miles and a top speed of 17 mph, it was not very cavalry-like.  On top of it all, it was tough to drive and mechanically unreliable.

After France capitulated, both Germany and Italy got Hotchkiss tanks.  Some of these Italian vehicles faced US Army Rangers in Sicily.  After the war, some Hotchkiss tanks served on with the Israeli Defense Force until 1952.

I acquired a 3-vehicle packet from Battlefront Miniatures (#FR020) and one single H39 vehicle from Peter Pig (#PP33).  The Battlefront ones could be either H35’s or H39’s.  In the end, one of the H35 guns was unsatisfactory, so I ended up with one H35 and three H39’s.  In the game, there are no differences statistically between the two types.

1 Hotchkiss tanks at start
Here are the models – the Peter Pig one was all metal.  The Battlefront ones had two different engine hatches depending on what version was to be built.  These were relatively easy to assemble and prep for painting.

2 Hotchkiss tanks assembled
Assembled and magnetized Hotchkiss tanks.  From left to right, Peter Pig H39, Battlefront H35, and two Battlefront H39’s.  

3 H35 assembled
The Battlefront H35 gun was drilled in and affixed with Gorilla Glue.  Later, the drill holes were filled with kneadatite (green stuff).

4 H39 Bottom Peter Pig assembled
The bottom of the Peter Pig H39 model.  For reinforcement of the tracks, I added green stuff under the chassis.  I also added a magnet to the inside of the turret so my knocked out tank blast markers would stick to an otherwise non-magnetic model.

5 H39 Battlefront assembled
H39 showing green stuff around the longer gun.

6 Hotchkiss tank chassis painting mounts
My mounting arrangement for the tanks.  I did paint and varnish the tracks first.

7 Hotchkiss tank turrets painting mounts
Turrets ready to paint.

8 Tracks first!
This shows the H35 after the tracks were painted, washed, and lightly varnished.

9 Double Primed showing metal exposure
Then the models were mounted and primed.  I had a challenge priming the exposed metal parts as you see here – I needed a few thin coats.

9a Double Primed showing metal exposure
The priming issue (exposed metal) was more difficult for the Peter Pig model as it was all metal.

10 H35 masked for airbrush
After priming, the H35 awaits set up for base coat painting.  Protecting the already painted tracks with poster tack was the first step.

11 H35 masked for airbrush camo
I was not thrilled with the yellow, but I darkened it.  Here, I applied more poster tack to apply a camouflage pattern.

12 H39 masked for airbrush camo
The H39’s got their base coats, and then I used an Iwata Micron airbrush to blend in some browns on the green.  As I researched tanks of this era on the French side, I found that there was no standardization of tank painting schemes.

13 H35 masked for airbrush camo after
The H35 under the poster tack for a camouflage scheme.  

14 H39 close up after camo
The Peter Pig H39 model showing the added brown color airbrushed across the tank.

15 H35 close up after camo
After removing the poster tack from the H35, this was the result.  

16 H39 close up before decals and weathering
I then washed the vehicles with Army Painter Military Shader.  All that was left was adding decals, weathering, and final varnishing.

18 Tiny decals
Battlefront decals – so tiny.  I still do not understand why the roundels are two piece decals.

Now, I would like to share the finished vehicles – eye candy (at least I hope you find them nice to look at).

Battlefront H35

1 H35 left side
Right side view, Battlefront H35

2 H35 frontside
Front view, Battlefront H35

3 H35 right side
Left side view of the H35.  The number is helpful for tabletop ID, but is historically correct.  The unit insignia is from the 4eme regiment de cuirassiers, part of the 1st Light Mechanized Division (DLM).

4 H35 rear view
The roundel on the back right.   

1a H35 left side
How I planned the paint job – I am hoping to get better tan/yellow tan paint for future French use, but after washing/shading, I think this is fine.  Do you?

Battlefront H39’s (two)

5 H39 (B model) left side
Battlefront H39 “#8” left side.  

6 H39 (B model) left front side
Battlefront H39 “#8” left front side.

7 H39 (B model) left rear side
Battlefront H39 “#8” rear view.

8 H39 (B model) right side
Battlefront H39 “#8” right side.

5b H39 (B model) left side
My plan for the “#8”.

12 H39 (D model) right side
Battlefront H39 “#64” left side.  This was the only Hotchkiss tank I built with a number on the right side of the turret.  Again, markings were definitely not standardized.

13 H39 (D model) right front side
Battlefront H39 “#64” right front side.

14 H39 (D model) left side
Battlefront H39 “#64” right side.

15 H39 (D model) rear view
Battlefront H39 “#64” rear view.

12a H39 (D model) right side
How I modeled the vehicle.

Peter Pig H39

9 H39 (C model) left front side
Peter Pig H39 “#21” front left view.

 

10 H39 (C model) right side
Peter Pig H39 “#21” right side view.  After weathering was added, the side looked similar to the Battlefront models.

9a H39 (C model) left front side
I did not have a #41!

11 comparing Peter Pig vs Battlefront
This is a side-by-side comparison of the Battlefront (left) and Peter Pig (right) H39’s.  I like both – though my preference is for the Battlefront models – which are resin and metal.  However, many of the models I need for this project are hard to find and not made by Battlefront, and sometimes with some manufacturers you need to buy up to five vehicles.  With Peter Pig, I can just get one  vehicle (QRF with metal models sells one at a time as well – and you’ll see some of their vehicles soon too).  Old Glory usually sells 3 vehicles (all metal) in a pack.

Group Shots

16 Group Shot16a Group Shot

This concludes my very last post of 2020 – and the beginning of this project.  (I will be doing a 2019 round up of course – but that will be coming later this week).

More Battle of France vehicles (French and German) will be coming and I hope that you will find them interesting.  If you have any feedback, good, bad or otherwise, let me know in the comments section – I do appreciate knowing what you think.

Thanks for looking and Happy 2020!

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THESE VEHICLES:

  1. Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol 91%
  2. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  3. 1/8″ neodymium magnets
  4. Green stuff (kneadatite)
  5. Gorilla Glue
  6. Poster tack and ¼” square wooden dowels on plastic plates
  7. Reaper MSP “Black Primer”
  8. Vallejo “Black Grey”
  9. Vallejo “Surface Primer – USA Olive Drab”
  10. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  11. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  12. Vallejo Model Air “Pale Green”
  13. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  14. Battlefront “Army Green”
  15. Army Painter “Military Shader” (shade)
  16. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  17. Vallejo Model Air “Rust” (71.080)
  18. Vallejo Model Air “Matt Varnish”
  19. Vallejo Model Air “Sand Yellow” (H35 only)
  20. Battlefront “Army Green”
  21. Vallejo Model Air “Dark Brown” (H39’s only)
  22. Battlefront “Oxide Red”
  23. Vallejo Model Air “Glass Varnish”
  24. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  25. Microscale Micro-Set
  26. Microscale Micro-Sol
  27. Vallejo Weathering Effects “European Thick Mud”
  28. Vallejo Weathering Effects “European Splash Mud”
  29. Vallejo Weathering Effects “Crushed Grass”
  30. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”