8th Army Tanks for What a Tanker – and so it begins…

The epic struggle between the British 8th Army and the German/Italian Panzer Army Africa (which grew out of the Afrika Korps) has always interested me.  In fact, the very first war game I ever owned was a used 1964 copy of Avalon Hill’s Afrika Korps!  I got this in 1972, and still have it.

Afrika Korps
My old Afrika Korps game – still complete!

I played this game many times, and of course it uses cardboard counters to represent divisional and brigade-sized units.  Avalon Hill did publish Tobruk in 1975 as well, and I also have that (second hand), but I never played it (a common fate held by many of my AH games as finding opponents was not easy back then for a teenager).  So I have wanted a tank-on-tank game for a while.

My first game of What a Tanker© at BARRAGE in September was a North Africa scenario, and was just what I have longed for all of these years.  Needless to say, I was a bit hooked on the game – and some of the scenarios for which I have been collecting Flames of War tanks are for North Africa campaigns from 1940-1943.  I wanted to get a blog post in to close 2018 for the first four of these tanks.  This also counts as my submission for Azazel’s December Community painting challenge, “Dauntless-Diabolical December”.  As for the British/Commonwealth 8th Army tanks, these are two A9 Mark 1 Cruiser tanks, and two M3 Stuart “Honey’s.

To research these tanks (and other future tank projects), I bought several books from Amazon that I found very useful as background information and for modeling purposes.  To be sure, many of the images are conflicting, but my guess is that the differences represent actual historical differences in camouflage schemes.  The books I got (and you can find them on Amazon) were:

  • Two by David Fletcher: 
    • British Battle Tanks: British-made tanks of World War II
    • British Battle Tanks: American-made World War II Tanks
  • One by Jean Restayn:
    • WWII Tank Encyclopaedia, 1939-45
  • One by the Smithsonian/DK:
    • Tank: The Definitive Visual History of Armored Vehicles
  • One by Michael Green:
    • Axis Armoured Fighting Vehicles of the Second World War (Images of War)
  • One by Robert Jackson:
    • Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles Visual Encyclopedia

I would easily recommend all of these books as good resources, and they will be my sources for this and future tank projects.  Again, these 4 are just the start of my 8th Army tank build (never mind I still need to get to Panzer Army Africa!).

A9 Cruiser Mark I Tanks

The first pair I worked on this month were A9 Cruiser Mark I tanks.  These were involved in the Battle of France and were in the desert in North Africa in 1940-41.  The British tactical doctrine had infantry tanks (to support infantry) and cruiser tanks (to engage other tanks).  That doctrine failed to impress the Wehrmacht.  Still, the British crews fought bravely and eventually better tanks arrived from the UK and the US.  The A9’s were not great, and one of the few that if captured that were not reused by the Germans.  For a camouflage and painting scheme, I used a picture of an A10 Cruiser Mark II with a Caunter camouflage scheme (see below), and differentiated the two with some Battlefront decals.  I wanted to use units that I could identify, but in the end I went with the ones that you see.

1 A9 Mark I's in blister
The pair in the blister

As you can see, I drilled out the crew bases and glued them to toothpicks for ease of painting.  I initially ran out of Battlefront “Crusader Sand” and used Vallejo “Desert Sand” which was too German-looking.  I found a conversion table and switched to Vallejo “Dark Sand” which was a better match.  I mounted the turrets to washers, affixed to magnets, affixed to large screws in styrofoam.  Later, I would switch to using holes in wood for better durability (the styrofoam was not sturdy enough to hold the #14 screws, magnets, washers, and turrets!).

5 A9 MarkI's base coated
On left, Vallejo “Dark Sand”, on the right, Vallejo “Desert Sand” which I thought was too panzer-like.

I drilled out holes for the radio antennae and used 24 gauge wire for the aerials.

The masking I used was a combination of Tamiya tape and Vallejo “Liquid Mask”.  This was my first use of the Vallejo mask, and I will be judicious in its future use.  It does ruin the brush you use, and at this scale (15mm) its not a really useful way to create chips.  Lesson learned – I was able to wash over the patches I put the mask on and it did give the tanks more of a dirty look.

Not a bad match – it was an A10 in the book, but I liked the scheme and I have other plans for my A10’s – stay tuned.  You can see more photos of the A9’s in the eye candy section below!

M3 Stuart “Honeys”

The M3’s came in a box of five, but I only wanted a couple for the North Africa scenarios.  The rest will be going to the Soviets (as a Lend-Lease), the Germans (captured in North Africa), and the Japanese (captured in the Philippines).  The painting scheme was mainly the same except for the grayish Caunter scheme.

 

I used a different resource for the camouflage, and I like the way it came out.

6 Honey after Caunter scheme with mask removed (spots)
Awaiting spot washes, and decals, and varnishing.

So now they were all done – and it’s time for some glory pics!

Eye candy

It’s eye candy time!

3 A9's in village
A9 Cruiser Mark I’s in the village.
4 A9 front view
Nice frontal view close up – you can see the details pretty well for such a small model.
5 A9's Moving out
Nice view of the left sides.
6 A9's rear view
Nice view of the right sides and the backs of the tanks.
7 A9 in defensive posture
A9 in a defensive position
8 A9's hitting the road
Heading out to find Germans and Italians.
9 Honeys move out
M3 Stuart “Honeys” on the road.
10 Honeys defend
Nice side view showing the grayish Caunter scheme and the decals.  I used different ones for ease of identification on the tabletop.
11 Honey rear view
Patrolling the village.
12 Honey's in village
Tight quarters patrolling.
13 group shot moving out
The four all together head out.

These tanks all served in North Africa, but it was probably rare for A9’s to be alongside M3’s time-wise.  Still, for What a Tanker© games, these will do fine on the ladder.

As discussed, I will be adding more British cruiser and infantry tanks to my 8th Army fleet. 

I am dedicating this post to all my British and Commonwealth friends!

I hope you enjoyed seeing these and reading this post.  Do you have a favorite tank?  I appreciate hearing your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.  Thanks for looking, and Happy New Year to you all!

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, AND FLOCKING USED ON BOTH TANKS:

  1. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  2. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  3. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  4. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  5. Citadel “Imperium Primer”
  6. Battlefront “European Skin”
  7. Battlefront “Skin Shade” (shade)
  8. Vallejo “English Uniform”
  9. Battlefront “Sherman Drab”
  10. Battlefront “Crusader Sand”
  11. Vallejo “Desert Sand”
  12. Battlefront “Worn Canvas”
  13. FolkArt “Champagne”
  14. Battlefront “Black”
  15. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  16. Vallejo “Dark Sand”
  17. Battlefront “Dry Dust”
  18. Battlefront “Wool Brown”
  19. Battlefront “Boot Brown”
  20. Battlefront “Rommel Shade” (shade)
  21. Battlefront “Bradley Shade” (shade)
  22. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  23. Battlefront “Dark Leather”
  24. Battlefront “Oxide Red”
  25. Gorilla Glue
  26. Vallejo Liquid Mask
  27. Tamiya masking tape
  28. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Gloss Varnish”
  29. Microscale Micro-Set
  30. Microscale Micro-Sol
  31. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  32. 1/8″ rare earth neodymium magnets
  33. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  34. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

UNIQUE TO THE A9 MARK I CRUISER TANKS:

  1. Vallejo Mecha Color “Sky Blue”
  2. Vallejo Game Air “Red Terracotta”

UNIQUE TO THE M3 STUART “HONEY” TANKS:

  1. Aleene’s poster tack
  2. Vallejo Model Air “Blue Grey”
  3. Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash” (wash)

Thanks again for looking and for sharing your feedback!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my blog readers and followers!

As 2018 comes near to a close, and with Christmas nearly upon us, I wanted to wish all of my readers and followers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  You have all been so supportive of this blog, which is a big part of my hobby work.

So, please know that I appreciate all of you from all over the world who take the time to read my blog and to share your feedback.  And you know who you are, to include  Azazel, Buck, IRO, Roger, Subedai, Alex, JNV, Faust, Dave, Pete, Tichy, maenoferren22, Alexis, Le Bim, Wudugast, The One, theuniversalgardener, theimperfectmodeler, savageddt, Luke, redcaer1690, Matt, reductivetendency, patmcf,  backtothehammer, and many, many others (and I hope I got most of you – if not apologies).

I am so grateful for your blogs as well.  I aim to not only share my work but to amuse and inspire you, as you inspire me.  If I get you to chuckle or say “wow”, I have hit my target.

As you can see from my hobby tally, I had a very productive year, and I hope to add to my total before year’s end.  Of course, I need to get in some golf posts once in a while, but that will have to wait until April at least as I do live in New England!

I hope that I make you smile a bit over the years with this blog – and while I cannot send a beer or a glass of wine (or a pint for you Brits, Aussies, Kiwis!), I do send my best wishes and a card below.  Please keep on reading – I aim to keep it going in 2019!

 

French defeat Germans at Mass Pikemen

Last Saturday, December 1st 2018, the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club held their monthly gaming session with a lively game of What a Tanker© by The Too Fat Lardies company.  The scenario we used was one from France 1940, with available forces from that time frame.

Each team was given poker chips to represent available points to choose and deploy their tanks.  In this scenario, each had 25 points to choose three tanks.  If a tank was destroyed, the winning team would get that many points in chips – which they could use to either upgrade a deployed tank, buy a new tank, or purchase a Bonus Card.  The destroyed tank would respawn in the game.  There was a river in the middle of the board, with roughly equivalent terrain on both sides of the board.  I said that any tank on the opposite side of the river at the game’s end would count for two times as many points for victory.  This gave each side an incentive to move forward.

For initial forces, the Germans chose two Panzer IVD’s (2 for 14 points) and a Panzer 38(t) (one for 9 points), leaving them with 2 chips extra. The Germans passed on choosing a Panzer IIC.  The French chose two R35’s (2 for 14 points) and one SOMUA S35 (1 for 10 points), leaving them with one extra chip.  While there were StuG IIIA and Char B1 bis vehicles in the inventories, I did not allow either to be chosen initially for reasons of play balance.

1 board
The game board set up.  The Germans chose to enter on the right side.
2 board
The Germans initially deployed from here, with the French deploying on the opposite side.
3 R35 knocks out Pz 38
In early action, a Panzer 38 (t) was knocked out by a flank shot from one of the R35’s as it hid on the left behind the bocage.  A Panzer IVD and the other R35 watch it burn.
4 R38 hides
The previously successful R35 runs behind the bocage.  Another Panzer IV crosses the river at a ford (minor obstacle), but by this time it had been hit multiple times and was down to one Command Die…
5 dice
…and the French SOMUA rolled this!  An example of the French Command Dice rolls.  Each 6 is a Wild card and each 4 is a firing die.  Basically, this allowed the loaded French SOMUA to fire 3 times in that turn, contributing to the demise of the Panzer IVD.  Unfortunately, the Germans’ rolls were hardly ever this good during the game.
6 Scott and Ethan
The previously mentioned unlucky Panzer IVD burns on the left by the bocage.  Scott and Ethan Howland are maneuvering another Panzer IVD and a Panzer 38 (t) against the SOMUA S35.
7 SOMUA showdown
The SOMUA activates, and moves to the rear of the Panzer IVD, but is unable to get off a shot.  The Germans were able to subsequently knock out the S35 in their only kill of the day.
8 R35 and Pz IVD showdown
On the left French flank bridge, a duel went on between a Panzer IVD and an R35.  The French were lucky and activated first, hitting the German in the side.  Subsequently, the German reoriented, but was hit again and forced back.
9 Pz IV burns
The Panzer IV was dispatched by the intrepid two man crew of the R35.

At that point the game was called.  The French crossed one R35 to the other side of the river and got 14 points.  The final score was France 38, Germans 12.  It was a good rolling day for the French and a bad one for the Germans.  The best tanks did not get to deploy, but both sides needed to use terrain well, and they did.  It was nice to have some new players (Leif, Ethan, and Scott), thank you for coming.  Everyone had fun, and I will run this scenario again.

Score Breakdown:

French 38 chips:

  • 1 chip left over from initial deployment (1 chip)
  • Two Panzer IVD’s knocked out (14 chips)
  • 1 Panzer 38 (t) knocked out (9 chips)
  • 1 R35 on the other side of the river at game’s end (14 points)

Germans 12 chips:

  • 2 chips left over from initial deployment (2 chips)
  • 1 SOMUA knocked out (10 chips)

Our next session will be on January 5th at 2 PM at 110 Pleasant Street, East Brookfield, MA.  Please follow us on FaceBook at the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.

 

Happy Tanksgiving! 2 Soviet, 5 French, and 5 German tanks get off the November painting table for “What A Tanker” games

November 2018 for me has been a month of armor, culminating in a fine “Tanksgiving” – a fine output for me of early WWII 15mm (1:100) scale armor.  I intend for these to be used in What a Tanker© games.  Certainly, my mid-November visit to the American Heritage Museum played a role in spurring this direction in my hobby efforts.  You can see my current 2018 production here, and there are a lot of tanks.

My focus continued to be on early war vehicles.  I had enough forces for an early Eastern Front game between the Axis (Germans and Italians) and the Soviets, but I wanted to have more variety in terms of tanks available.  My KV-1 platoon needed some help, so I added some BT-series tanks.

My other goal was to build German and French forces for a France 1940 scenario.  For the Germans I added a Panzer IIC, a Panzer IIIE, and three StuG Ausf A assault guns to my fleet.  For the French, I added two Renault 35’s and three SOMUA S-35’s.  All of these came from the Flames of War line from Battlefront Miniatures.  I really like their tanks, even though I don’t play Flames of War!  I think that I can get some crossover between the early-war German forces for such a scenario and use some on the Eastern Front.  Long term, I am also planning on designing a North Africa scenario for the British and the Germans, and some of the figures I got from Battlefront will serve nicely after I paint them in desert colors.

Regarding colors, I also acquired some of the Battlefront paints so as to understand the colors that they recommend.  The current Battlefront “Colours of War” line mixes sets of 20 ml and 12 ml dropper bottles, as compared with Vallejo’s 17 ml bottles.  It appears that at least some of their paints may have been made by Vallejo, at least in the past.  I found them to be good paints that worked well either thinned in an airbrush or a regular brush.  At the end of this post, I will share the paints and materials that I used for those interested.

In this post, in order I will discuss the Soviets, the French, and the German models I worked on in November.  I also am submitting these as part of a Mechanical November community painting challenge run by Azazel (which is very fun to be a part of – check him out!).

Soviet

The two Soviet tanks that I added were the BT-5 and the BT-7.  An advantage of adding these will be that they also were used against the Finns in the Winter War and against the Japanese at Nomonhan in 1939 and during the Soviet Invasion of Manchuria in 1945.  So, I can use them in different scenarios for sure.  I followed the same procedure to paint these as I did my previous early war Soviet tanks.

For assembly, I again chose to magnetize the turrets by drilling out the hulls and the turrets and using rare earth magnets.  I weathered all of the tanks, as I prefer my tanks to be muddy.  I also left the crews out, as I did not like the way they fit in the turrets.  Of note, their Christie suspensions (an American invention) would be reproduced with the T-34 series.

Overall, I am happy with the way these turned out.  In What a Tanker© their fighting characteristics are exactly the same.

6 BT5 and BT7 front
BT-5 (left) and BT-7 (right) frontal view
7 BT5 and BT7 back
BT-5 (left) and BT-7 (right) rear view

 French

I have always had an affinity for the French Army, as I have a French name (albeit of French-Canadian extraction), speak French, and spent time with three different Regiments du Genie (Engineer Regiments) back in the 1980’s.

For my France 1940 scenario, I already had two resin Char B1 bis tanks from Wargame Models in Ohio.  I added two light infantry tanks (Renault 35 or R35) and three SOMUA S35’s for a balanced group.

Assembling and painting these would require new uses of poster tack, plastic plates, and wood screws.  This allowed me to both safely handle the tanks in production but also to get the right look of the camouflage.  I decided to leave the crews out, as I had little confidence that they would survive the tabletop for very long as the models were designed.

I also got to play with some decals from Battlefront.  These did require retreatment with Liquid Decal Film from Microscale Industries before I used their other products to affix their decals.  I could not believe that the French roundel decal came in two pieces (the blue dot was separate and had to be affixed after and onto the red-ringed white circle).  That was annoying!

9 French forces for 1940
My new French tanks with my old Char B1 bis tanks
10 SOMUA's front
The three SOMUA S35’s, frontal view
11 SOMUA's left side
SOMUA side view showing the card-suit designations on the turret backs

12 SOMUA's right side

13 R35 front
Renault R35’s

14 R35 moving

15 Defenders of France
Nice group shot

German

For the Germans, I chose to use the Panzer IIC, the Panzer IIIE, and the Sturmgeschutz Ausf A.  The Panzer II’s came in a box of 5 – but was missing one tank gun.  Battlefront has promised to make this good (and I expect it soon).  I chose to make one of the Panzer II’s a France 1940 candidate, saving the other four for a North African scenario that I will complete later on.  The Panzer IIIE came in three separate blisters.  Ironically, the Panzer IIIE was the worst of the Germans to assemble.  One gun was almost split, and the turrets were nearly three different sizes.   There were a lot of mold lines to correct as well, especially on the tracks.

I repaired the one gun with green stuff, and chose it for the France 1940 group, saving the other two for North Africa.  Lastly, historically it seems that very few StuG III’s made it to North Africa.  Therefore, I added all three of the assault guns for my France 1940 scenario.

12 Panzer III prepped for camo
The Panzer IIIE prepped for camouflage
14 PzIIC right side
Panzer IIC complete, left side
15 PzIIC left side
Panzer IIC, left side.  The 14 is for my wife – her and my lucky number!
16 PzIIC rear
Rear view of the tiny Panzer IIC.
17 Pz IIIE front
The Panzer IIIE completed.  The brown camouflage doesn’t really show up as well here (so I guess it works!).
18 Pz IIIE back
Panzer IIIE opposite view
19 StuGA's front
Sturmgeschutz III Ausf A, frontal view
20 StuGA's left side
Sturmgeschutz III Ausf A, left side view
21 StuGA's right side and rear
Sturmgeschutz III Ausf A, right side and rear view
22 all German fronts
My Germans for the France 1940 scenario

I was glad to have finished these in time for our club’s monthly session (which I will post about shortly).  I will be adding more to my fleet, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoyed these.  Do you have a favorite?

I appreciate hearing your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.  Thanks for looking!

 

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, WASHES, AND FLOCKING USED:

COMMONLY USED ON MULTIPLE TANKS:

  1. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  2. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  3. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  4. Battlefront “German Camo Black Brown”
  5. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  6. Vallejo Mecha Color “Green”
  7. Battlefront German Camo Black Brown
  8. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  9. Vallejo “Burnt Umber” (pigment)
  10. Vallejo “Light Sienna” (pigment)
  11. Vallejo “Light Slate Grey” (pigment)
  12. Vallejo “Natural Umber” (pigment)
  13. Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Rust Wash” (weathering)
  14. Vallejo Mecha Color “Oil Stains” (weathering)
  15. Battlefront “Oxide Red”
  16. Gorilla Glue
  17. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Gloss Varnish”
  18. Microscale Micro-Set
  19. Microscale Micro-Sol
  20. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  21. 1/8″ rare earth neodymium magnets
  22. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  23. Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (shade)
  24. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  25. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

UNIQUE TO THE SOVIET TANKS:

  1. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Russian Green”
  2. Vallejo Panzer Series “Camouflage Olive Green”
  3. Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Green”
  4. Citadel “Biel-Tan Green” (shade)
  5. Citadel “Athonian Camoshade” (shade)
  6. Secret Weapons Washes “Sewer Water”
  7. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade”

UNIQUE TO THE FRENCH TANKS:

  1. Battlefront “GI Green”
  2. Battlefront “Flat Earth”
  3. Battlefront “Sicily Yellow”

UNIQUE TO THE GERMAN TANKS:

  1. Battlefront “Panzer Gray”
  2. Battlefront “Rommel Shade”
  3. Battlefront “Chocolate Brown”
  4. Battlefront “European Skin”
  5. Battlefront “Skin Shade”
  6. Vallejo “Medium Skin Tone”
  7. Battlefront “Black”
  8. Green stuff

Thanks again for looking and for your feedback!