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”

French FCM 36 tanks

During the Battle of France (May-June 1940), there was an amazing variety of vehicles on both the German and the French sides.  At this same time last year, I began putting together a collection of period 15mm/1:100 scale vehicles for this period.  These were discussed here.  I have previously posted about a couple of games (December 2018 and January 2019) that I ran using the What a Tanker™ rules from the UK’s Too Fat Lardies.  I have been hoping to return to this period and add more vehicles to both armies.  I am starting this augmentation by adding 3 FCM 36 light tanks to my fleet.

The FCM stands for Société Nouvelle des Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, a shipbuilder in Toulon who manufactured this 1936 design – and delivered about 100 to the French Army up through 1938.  Cost and industrial manufacturing concerns limited further purchases.  They were a little more than 12 tons, with a crew of two.  The armor was fairly good – welded, and very sloped for tanks of the day.  It also had a diesel engine and reasonable range unlike many other contemporary French tanks.  However, like many other French tanks, it was armed with the weak Puteaux SA 18 37mm gun which definitely had challenges fighting German armor.  Notably, two battalions of FCM 36’s tried to repel the bridgehead that the Heinz Guderian had established across the Meuse, but they were too little and too late.  After the surrender of France, some of the FCM 36 chassis were converted to Marder I’s or self-propelled artillery.  Some of these conversions were involved in the Normandy Campaign of 1944.  Today, only one FCM 36 survives at Saumur.

I thought these would be a good addition to my French early-war tank collection.  In What a Tanker™, these are the cheapest tanks to buy point-wise.  The only source I found for these models was Old Glory.  They are metal, and quite small of course.

1 FCM 36 in package
The 3 FCM 36’s in the baggie.

2 FCM 36 before filing
I did need to do a bit of filing and cleanup of extraneous molding material and molding lines as you see here.  Yes, these are small!

3 FCM 36 before filing showing turrets pins
The turrets had a small molded pin for mounting on the molded hole on the chassis.  I needed to slightly elevate the turret or the underlying paint on the chassis would be worn off, even with a good varnishing.  I decided to drill out the pins and the holes with a 1/8″ drill bit.  I then used green stuff to fill in underneath the hollow chassis between the tracks and provide a “floor” for the magnets.  The magnets were put in place with Gorilla Glue in the chassis and the turrets.

4 FCM 36 after priming and base coat
You can see here my hodge-podge mounting scheme of the FCM 36’s for painting.  I used a 1/4″ square dowel and poster tack to mount the chassis for painting.  I primed these, and the used a German green-brown as a base coat.  This shot here is after the first camouflage color (blue green) was applied with my Iwata Micron airbrush.  Also, I only put the turrets on a tank when I am painting camouflage patterns.

5 FCM 36 after priming and base coat and more camo
Next, I applied the third color (brown) to the camouflage pattern.

6 Turrets after decal but before varnish
When I paint turrets, I find this helpful (as the magnets in the turrets hold the turrets to the magnets on the washers).  Also, I can easily apply the decals this way, and airbrush on the final two coats of matte varnish.

Lastly, I thought I’d share some group and individual shots and a bit about their debut on the tabletop the day after they were completed.

 

12 FCM top view
Top view showing the sloped octagonal turrets.

 

7 FCM 36 left sides
Left side of the FCM 36’s.

8 FCM 36 frontal armor view
Frontal view.

 

I used a blue diamond, a red heart, and a red club as decals which would also help identify these as different individual tanks on the tabletop.  From my research, FCM’s did not seem to have as many markings historically as other French tanks.

As stated above, these made their game debut this weekend at the December session of the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.

13 First FCM 36 roll
My buddy Mike Morgan was on the French side, and chose the blue diamond FCM 36 as his tank.  He then rolled a perfect roll of 6 sixes!  The odds on that were 0.01286%!

14 FCM 36 Blue Diamond moves onto the board
Mike’s FCM 36 moves on the road.

15 FCM 36 Blue Diamond duels with a StuGA
His FCM 36 was stalked by a StuG A (player Chris), which kept missing it.

16 FCM 36 Blue Diamond duels with a StuGA, misses
Mike successfully maneuvered his tank to the German’s side, and shot point blank.  The dice deserted him as the StuG A took only minor damage.

17 FCM 36 Blue Diamond duels with two StuGA, who miss it
Smelling an easy kill, the Germans (Chris’s teammate Christine) brought up a second StuG A in the hunt.  It also missed the FCM 36.  Note – as there were only 15 StuG A’s in the German invasion force across France, this would have been highly unlikely!

18 Now the Panzer IIIE joins the fight
Then the Germans brought up even more to the hunt with a Panzer IIIE…

19 Panzer IIIE brews up FCM 36
And Mike’s plucky FCM 36’s luck finally wore out with the Panzer IIIE (Christine) knocking it out.

On the other side of the table, Mike’s teammate Tom managed to kill Christine’s Panzer 38(t) with a SOMUA S-35.  Mike got another FCM 36, and that was killed by Christine’s teammate Chris’s StuG A (in the shot below on the left).  Mike replaced his lost tank with an R35.  Tom drove his SOMUA around the building but frustratingly could not take a point-blank shot at the Panzer IIIE (as his dice roll failed him).  Mike had to leave, and my wife Lynn (no gamer just watching) took over the R35.  Lynn drove the tank to the side of Christine’s Panzer IIIE, and rolled three critical hits – and Christine failed to block any.  This knocked out the Panzer IIIE!

20 R35 avenges the FCM 36 after SOMUA misses
Lynn’s R35 avenges the burning FCM 36 (on right) by knocking out the Panzer IIIE.

21 Lynn is happy
Happy wife, happy life!  Tom and Lynn are all smiles here.

22 SOMUA is hit in rear by StuG A
In a final act, Christine maneuvered her remaining StuG A for a rear shot on Tom’s SOMUA S-35.  She successfully knocked out the SOMUA.

That ended the game, with the French winning a very narrow victory 32-31.  If Lynn had not rolled so well in killing the Panzer IIIE, the Germans would have won.  Thanks to the players for a great and fun game!

I have plans for more French and German tanks for this scenario.  I hope that you enjoyed this post, and feel free to share your thoughts and feedback with me in the comments section!  I have been behind on my blogging efforts and hope that I can share more with you soon!  Thanks for taking a look!

Also, as these were mostly done in November, I would add them as my contribution to Azazel’s MechaNovember painting challenge!

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

  1. 1/8″ neodymium magnets
  2. Green stuff (kneadatite)
  3. Gorilla Glue
  4. Poster tack and ¼” square wooden dowels on plastic plates
  5. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  6. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  7. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  8. Vallejo Model Air “German Green Brown”
  9. Vallejo Mecha Color “Green Blue”
  10. Vallejo Mecha Color “Brown”
  11. Battlefront “Black”
  12. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  13. Vallejo Model Air “Wood”
  14. Vallejo Mecha Weathering “Dark Rust” (wash)
  15. Army Painter “Light Tone” (shade)
  16. Vallejo Model Air “Satin” (varnish)
  17. Microscale Micro-Set
  18. Microscale Micro-Sol
  19. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  20. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  21. Citadel “Typhus Corrosion”
  22. Citadel “Ryza Rust”
  23. Army Painter “Strong Tone” (shade)
  24. Vallejo “Light Sienna” (pigment)
  25. Vallejo “Light Slate Grey” (pigment)
  26. Vallejo “Pigment Binder” (pigment)
  27. Vallejo Weathering Effects “European Splash Mud”
  28. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

 

Allies Defeat Germans at Fort Devens Game Day

On October 19th, 2019, the Fort Devens Gaming Day was held at the Fort Devens Museum.  This was our monthly gaming day as an “away” game day for the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.  Our club sponsored two games as Scott Howland ran a pulp game in another room which was very well-received. I believe it was similar to this one.

This was my second time attending this small convention and my first time as a game master there.  For nostalgia alone, I really looked forward to the event as I was stationed at the old Fort Devens before it was closed in the 1990’s.   It has since been converted to commercial uses and some US Army Reserve functions.  Running a game here was fun.

10192019 Normandy Breakout with contact info

Mike Morgan graciously helped me set up my game in the museum among the exhibits (as you will see below)).  Thanks so much Mike!  Mike also supported Scott as a player in his game, and that was very cool.  I ran my Normandy Breakout game for What a Tanker©.  We had seven players – including several from the Mass Pikemen.  On the German side were Chris, Peter, and Steve.  On the Allied side were Leif and Walter (US), and Evan and Alex (UK).

Both sides started with 150 points/chips to use during the game.  The Allies started with a 40 points worth of vehicles.  For the UK, they bought a Dingo scout car and a Churchill “TIM” (nicknamed for theimperfectmodeler aka TIM), along with an M5 Stuart, and an M8 Greyhound for the US.  The Germans spent slightly less, choosing to buy an SdKfz 231 scout car, a StuG IIIG, and a Panzer IVH for 36 points.

1 Set up
The players prepare for battle among the museum exhibits.

The Germans took up very good ambush positions – especially the Panzer IVH, which was hull-down behind a stone wall.  The M5 Stuart successfully reconned it, and the German fired point-blank at the light tank, missing it.  The Stuart then prudently backed up behind the hedgerow.  The Churchill “TIM” then moved up the road, to be also shot at, and again missed by the Panzer IVH.  Amazingly, the Churchill immediately reversed the bad German die rolls, and miraculously hit and knocked out the Panzer IVH for its first kill ring of the day.

2 Churchill takes out Pzkw IVH
The first exchange goes badly for the Germans as the Panzer IVH missed its first two targets (the M5 Stuart and the Churchill).  The retreating M5 is at top behind the hedgerow.  The Churchill “TIM” drives past the knocked out (with crew surviving) Panzer IVH.

The Allies then successfully reconned nine possible German positions at 2 points apiece, adding to their score.  They also successfully crossed the tabletop with an M8 Greyhound, gained the points, and respawned as another M8.  The Germans spent some points and respawned the destroyed Panzer IVH crew into a Panther D which drove up next to the burning Panzer IVH.  The Churchill “TIM” went Panther hunting.

Meanwhile, the Germans tried to put an end to the Allied reconnaissance successes.  The StuG IIIG ambushed both the M5 and the Dingo gaining them crucial points, which they used to buy a Marder III.  The Allies respawned both losses with similar models.

3 StuG IIIG takes out M5, while Churchill moves around Panther
The Churchill “TIM” at top maneuvers to attack a Panther in the rear.  In the foreground, The StuG IIIG takes out the M5…  

The Allies spent some chips to respawn the Dingo as a Cromwell IV nicknamed “IRO” aka imperialrebelork.  The Germans dropped some obscuring smoke in front of the Cromwell.

4 StuG IIIG takes out Dingo, while Churchill moves around Panther
…and then the Dingo.  The Germans dropped smoke to protect the StuG from the Cromwell IV “IRO”.  The Churchill “TIM” at top hunts the Panther D.

“TIM” continued its winning ways and managed a flank shot on the Panther D.  Its good dice rolling (and the German bad dice rolling) yielded a second kill ring for “TIM”.

5 Churchill gets second kill ring against Panther
The Churchill “TIM” takes out the Panther D.

The Germans were aghast at this expensive loss and vowed revenge.  The SdKfz 231 managed to call in a rare Luftwaffe air strike on the Churchill, which destroyed “TIM” after it had been so effective.

The British mourned this loss, and respawned it as an Achilles 17-pounder nicknamed “Per”.  The British also bought another Dingo and a Cromwell IV nicknamed “JNV” or justneedsvarnish.  The US bought an M10 Wolverine.  The Germans went for broke and bought a Jagdpanther and an SdKfz 233.

The StuG IIIG went head-to-head with the Cromwell “IRO”, and took it out.  The Jagdpanther caught the Achilles “Per” in the open and made short work of it.  In the meantime, the Allies successfully crossed a Dingo and an M8 Greyhound.  This resulted in denying the Germans any end of game bonus points for preventing more than two Allied vehicles crossing the table.

To make matters worse for the Germans, the respawned M5 Stuart knocked out a well-hidden Marder III with some help from a supporting infantry assault (see how I use bonus attack cards here) and well-placed 37mm rounds.  As the game was winding down, and it was clear the Allies had a commanding edge in the score, The Germans bought a Tiger I and converged all vehicles on the plucky M5.

6 Marder III taken out and other Germans seek vengeance
The Marder III burns, and the Tiger I and SdKfz 233 hunt the M5 Stuart… 

7 Stuart will not die
…and are joined by the Jagdpanther!

8 Traffic jam
This traffic jam at game’s end yielded no damage on the M5 Stuart – the dice had completely deserted the Germans.

At games end, the final score was Allies 193, Germans 142.  This game yet again delivered a different result.  Player choices, and player luck all made this game fun and unique.

This is my 12th post about my development and running of this scenario and the models that went into making it.  I started back in May 2019, so it’s been a lot of work, but one project that I really am proud of now.

I wanted to honor the history and the struggle of the Allies in the days after the D-Day landing 75 years ago.  I will continue to run the game, and at this point I really only need to add a StuG IV to be really complete vehicle-wise (and I have one to build!).  To read about previous games and related posts, see the following:

Thanks to the Fort Devens Museum, Peter Lowitt. and the guys at Fencing Frog Gaming Adventures for running the event.  I hope to see you next year, if not sooner.  I also hope that some of the players join us at The Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.

I hope you enjoyed this post and would love to read your feedback!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Barrage 2019 Recap

The wonderful Barrage wargaming convention was held back on September 27-28 in Havre de Grace, Maryland.  It is run by the Harford Area Weekly Kriegspielers (HAWKS), and I have attended the last few years and run a few games there as well as a GM.  This year marked the 25th Anniversary of the convention.

The trip was enjoyable – and even though it’s been over a month since the event – I wanted to share some of the pics and details of the event from my perspective.  It’s not an all-encompassing review – but hopefully it will give you a flavor of the event and some nice views of some worthwhile and visually interesting tabletop games.

29 My badges

1 Old Grads
Three only slightly aging West Pointers – Dave Wood (’84), me (’84), and Buck Surdu (’85).  Dave and Buck are in the HAWKS and going to the convention doubles as a mini-reunion for us.  Plus I get to see how much better in shape they are than I am.

I drove down from Massachusetts and arrived Thursday night (the night before the convention) to help the HAWKS set up.  As a bonus, we got to play a few turns of Eric Schlegel’s Antietam: The Cornfield game using the A Union So Tested rules set.  It was a fun start.

The convention started in earnest on Friday – and I got a chance to check out some amazing tabletops.  Bill Molyneaux had a brilliant Boxer Rebellion game that had incredible terrain.  I did not get to play this game, but would have loved to try it.

I walked around Friday’s game and took some pics of a few games I loved seeing (but did not get to play) before I got into playing a Feudal Patrol™ game.  Here you can see a Napoleonic game (run by Dave Wood), a Gundam game, and a really neat G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T.  Sherlock Holmes themed game (run by Sam Fuson).   There was a Flames of War Tournament.  I have not played that game despite having (as regular readers know) a TON of FoW models.  The games looked a bit crowded figure-wise – and maybe that’s normal for that game.  Note the US TIE fighter (the gamer said he did not have a proper US plane so he painted this model)…not sure about that particular add personally.

I really wanted to try another game of Feudal Patrol™.  I had played one at HUZZAH! run by Duncan Adams earlier this year.  Feudal Patrol™ is a novel skirmish game (yet unpublished) and is similar to Combat Patrol™ – except it is for pike and shot periods and earlier.  I am hoping to write an Aztec supplement for it for Buck.

Chris Palmer ran a War of the Roses scenario involving securing an abandoned supply train of three wagons.   It was just the two of us, but as Buck came available, he joined in on Chris’ side.  I started off well, but in due course I got my ass handed to me by Buck and Chris!  Still, I was glad to try it and I feel confident that this will be another great system by Buck.

16 Feudal Patrol
Not the greatest sign up!  Too bad as it was fun.

17 Feudal Patrol

18 Feudal Patrol
My forces, with the enemy Yorkists across the table.  The abandoned wagon train (the objective) is in the center.

19 Feudal Patrol
The Lancastrians.

20 Feudal Patrol
Wagon train objective.

20a Feudal Patrol
Buck confers with Chris (off-camera) as the two forces cavalry converge.

20b Feudal Patrol
Chris moves his Yorkists up and takes two wagons.

20c Feudal Patrol
I moved a leader on top of the remaining wagon to seize it.  Unfortunately, the Yorkist crossbowmen ended that effort by turning him into a pin cushion, and pinning his subordinates in the process.

20d Feudal Patrol

After this game, I walked around and took some more shots of some cool tables.  There was a 54mm scale ACW game, and a 54mm medieval mayhem game.  Greg Priebe had a Poland 1940 Combat Patrol™  game for replete with an armored train.  Lastly, there was an Aliens-inspired scratch built table that was impressive.  These shots are below.

28 ACW2
Another ACW game, in larger scale.

The last game that I played on Friday was with Dave Wood and another player.  It recreated the scenario made famous by the events portrayed in the movie Black Hawk Down.  The rules were Force on Force, which had an interesting set of mechanics, but very complicated for a short game.  We actually ran the game twice, with Dave and I as the Americans.  All agreed that the scenario was impossible to win for the US.  Still, the GM Carl Olsen made the experience enjoyable.

26aa Blackhawk down

26 Blackhawk down
The tabletop for the scenario.

27 Blackhawk down
Even with air support, the mission was too difficult for the US.

That finished off Friday.  Saturday presented an opportunity to play the massive Combat Patrol™ Star Wars Battle of Hoth scenario (from The Empire Strikes Back) of the Battle of Hoth that Buck and Greg Priebe ran at Historicon.  It was pure eye-candy (as you’ll see below), and a blast to play.  We had a full table of 10-12 players.  The Combat Patrol™ Star Wars supplement was used – and was easily picked up by the players who were new.  Buck and Greg did an outstanding job of running this massive game.

I played with several other players on the Imperial side with the goal of destroying the Millennium Falcon before it could fly out of the cave it was hiding in with the other rebel ships.  We succeeded in eventually knocking out the shield generator with an AT-AT.  Subsequently the Millennium Falcon was destroyed when our forces could get a clear shot.  A strategic victory was had for the Empire!

32 Buck Surdu and Greg Priebe Battle of Hoth
Scenario designers and GM’s Buck Surdu and Greg Priebe

30 Battle of Hoth
A view from the attacking Imperial forces side – the rebels and their spacecraft were in the cave on the far side.  The shield generator is on the far right.  The rebel trenches and positions were beautiful.  All the models were so fun.

31 Battle of Hoth
Imperial set up before the game.

32 Battle of Hoth
Rebel spaceships getting positioned in cave.  The Millennium Falcon was not yet set up on the top corner.

33 Battle of Hoth Speeders
Imperial speeders storm anti-vehicle weapons positions.

34 Battle of Hoth Inf carriers
A bloody affair.

35 Battle of Hoth
The advance continues.

36 Battle of Hoth
A very unique set of walker positions.

37 Battle of Hoth Shield Generator blows
Bye bye shield generator!

After the victory, I had some time before I needed to set up and run my Normandy Breakout scenario for What a Tanker© that I have previously run a few times.  I took a few more shots of some interesting games.  One of these was a Dungeon Crawl run by a gentleman (sorry as I forgot his name) who makes his own miniatures out of small bits of wood and paints them really well – check them out below.

After this, it was on to setting up and running my Normandy Breakout game.  I have really gotten this game to be a great gaming experience – based on both my opinion and consistent feedback from the players.  This time, I had between 9 and 11 different players as some came and went.

The Germans made some very good decisions on terrain use and vehicle selection.  The Allies did not choose enough reconnaissance vehicles, and were less effective using terrain as a whole.  The Allies did not do a good job at crossing the table – with only a M10 Wolverine (by Dave Wood) and an M5 Stuart (by Buck Surdu) crossing the board.  To be fair, the dice abandoned the Allies at a few critical junctures.

The Germans chose expensive vehicles, such as the Panther D (Greg Priebe), Jadgpanther (Andrew) and Tiger II (run by a woman known as April or “Queen Tiger” in the game), but used them effectively to stop the Allies.   This put them in a points disadvantage, that they made up with their kills.  Don Hogge’s used his SdKfz 233 very well to delay and harass the Allies.  The Germans lost no vehicles, and the Allies lost a total of 5: a Dingo scout car, an M3A1 Stuart, an M10 Wolverine, and two 17-pounder Achilles.  The Allies vehicle choices hurt them (not enough tanks and reconnaissance versus tank destroyers). This had not happened in previous runs, and is a testament to the German players having a good plan.  The final score was 160-123 in favor of the Germans.  I will continue to run this game – it has never been the same twice.

00 Chris Palmer pic of my game
I GM the mid game action (photo by Chris Palmer)

41 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
Players on the Allied side get ready to play.

42 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
Here the Americans smashed an M3A1 Stuart through a hedgerow – where it discovered a Panther D.  It took the flank shot and managed to do some temporary and permanent damage.

43 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
The Panther then turned and knocked the Stuart out – the black smoke indicates that the crew lived and bailed out, but the tank was destroyed.

44 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
With a burning Dingo behind him, a Jagdpanther confronts the Achilles “Tabitha” (named after my granddaughter).  German artillery-delivered smoke dissipates in the top of this photo.

46 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
The poor Achilles “Tabitha” is no match for the Jagdpanther, and is brewed up on the next activation.

45 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
An American M10 Wolverine gets a rear shot on the Greg Priebe’s damaged Panther, but not enough damage is inflicted… 

47 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
…and on the next activation, the Panther turned and knocked out the Wolverine.

After picking up, the last game I played in was a Roman Circus Chariot game with rules by DeWitt.  My chariot flipped and I lost – but it was fun!

And the flea market was outstanding!

Thanks to the HAWKS for a great weekend!

And thanks to you, dear reader, for looking – feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween Diorama with Classic Movie Monsters from 1970’s Ral Partha

When I was young boy, the local TV station would show an old monster or horror movie on Saturday afternoon.  Sometimes these were the of the 1960’s Japanese Godzilla et. al. genre, other times they were the B-movie sci-fi stuff from the 1950’s.  Even the British Hammer remakes would be shown.  Those were all cool, but the best ones were the classic 1930’s and 1940’s films like “Dracula” (1931), “Frankenstein” (1931), “The Mummy” (1932), and “The Wolf Man” (1941).

My dad would enthusiastically watch these films with us and I have really special memories of those occasions.  Now of course every movie ever made can be had immediately, but back then you had to wait and hope that they would be coming on – and that made their rare showings quite eventful.  The subjects of those movies have seen numerous remakes, but the originals remain classics and have had a huge impact on popular culture.

One of those influences was in the creation of games with monsters, such as Dungeons and Dragons (and others) – and the miniatures that were used with them – such as 25mm scale figures from Ral Partha.  For US folks unfamiliar with 25mm scale – this is the common Ral Partha scale in the 1970’s and 1980’s and it means that each figure is only about 1″ tall.

I first was exposed to Ral Partha miniatures in 1982 – and have loved them ever since.  Sculptors such as Tom Meier, Julie Guthrie, and Dennis Mize made fantastic creations that were true scale, not “hero scale” as many of today’s miniatures are.  Ral Partha figures are still made today in Cincinnati by Iron Winds Metals.  When I returned to the hobby in 2014, I acquired many of the old figures in various lots of figures on eBay.  Among these of which I came into possession were several of the old classic movie monsters.  They often were encrusted with the types of thick enamel hobby paint that was commonly used back then.  I stripped many (with some damage), and put them away for future consideration.

That future consideration arrived this month.  A local hobby store, Great Stories in Uxbridge, MA, has gaming and other hobby events that you can read about here.   One of these events was “The Great Pumpkin Halloween Hobby Challenge”.  The store had a pumpkin patch for figures to be displayed – and the only rules were that there needed to be a pumpkin (provided for $5 as entry) as part of the figure – and that it needed to be submitted by October 28th.  I decided that my filed-somewhere Ral Partha monsters would make a nice diorama for the challenge.  I dug into my stash, and found that I had 5 suitable figures, two werewolves, one mummy, one Dracula, and one Frankenstein’s Monster.  I wanted to push myself with the mini-diorama – as I have been admiring many of those by theimperfectmodeler for years (check one of his recent dioramas here).  I am nowhere near his creative league (he is award-winning) – but his work is inspiring and I wanted to see if I could accomplish something of which I could be proud.  I decided to use an old DVD and card as a base and a Woodlands Scenics rock as elevation.  The edge of the pumpkin patch would be on the DVD so I could line it up on the display at the store.

The effect that I wanted was that of having these classic monsters coming from off the pumpkin patch and moving to prey upon the unwary townsfolk beyond.

1 4 bases
1976 and 1979 figures’ bases.  From left to right is Frankenstein’s Monster (1979), Dracula (1976), The Mummy (1976), and one of the two werewolves (both were 1979).

2 cd and stone and card
The base was an old DVD sanded down – and a Woodland Scenics resin stone.

3 cd and stone and card painted
I decided to brush paint the base with primer to keep the stone pristine (and away from any airbrush mistakes).  I also wanted to have a great bond between the stone and the DVD so I affixed it prior to painting along with a piece of polystyrene card to cover the hole.

Again, these are 25mm figures so they don’t stand out like larger models.  This is what we had back in the day!  I will share details of each of the five models, and then the completed piece.  As is my custom, I will list the paints and materials I used at the end of this post for those interested.  I did use many Citadel Contrast paints as base paints.

Dracula

The Dracula/vampire model was #01-014, a Tom Meier sculpt from the Personalities and Things that Go Bump In The Night line.  The base had “Ral Partha 1976” on it.  I probably over-cleaned it – but the details on it – especially the face – were not great.  Trying to get the right skin tone for Dracula was a challenge – and the lack of detail did not help.  I wanted Dracula to be the highest model on the diorama – like he was sending his evil minions forth.  The rock had a nice place for me to place Dracula’s base as its size and shape were considerations as well (it was not a removable base).

1 Dracula unpainted
Dracula after cleaning – I probably got aggressive trying to remove the old enamel (note the scratches).

2 Dracula mounted for painting
Dracula mounted and ready for airbrush priming and traditional brush painting thereafter.  I did use many of the new GW Contrast Paints on all of these models, but ended up needing other paints and products as well.

3 Dracula painted
Dracula painted and varnished.

4 Dracula mounted
Dracula mounted on the diorama.

The Mummy

The Mummy model was #01-020, another Tom Meier sculpt from the Personalities and Things that Go Bump In The Night line.  It was also from 1976.  This was the easiest to paint and I thought it came out as desired.

1 Mummy unpainted
After cleaning and stripping, there were still remnants of the old paint job, but these were not an issue.

2 Mummy prepped for painting
The Mummy, mounted for painting.

3 Mummy painted
After painting and varnish – looking very old school Egyptian.

4 Mummy mounted
The Mummy mounted on the diorama.

The Were Wolf (crouching model)

The were two werewolf models that I used.  The first werewolf was in a crouch.  This model was “Were Wolf” #01-061, (two words) – yet another Tom Meier sculpt from the Personalities and Things that Go Bump In The Night line.  However this one was from 1979.  I wanted to have this one climbing up the back slope of the rock, giving a little more depth to the piece.

1 Werewolf crouching unpainted
Some of the original paint can still be seen.

2 Werewolf crouching prepped for painting
The Were Wolf mounted for painting.  The detail on this model was still in good shape.

3 Werewolf crouching painted
A close-up shot of the model after I painted and varnished it.

4 Werewolf crouching mounted
The mounted monster climbs the back of the rock.  Here again, I needed to deal with the base.

The Werewolf (standing model)

This is the second of the two werewolf models that I used.  This model is standing (and this one is wearing pants).  It is “Werewolf” #98-003, (one word).  This could have been sculpted by Tom Meier, Julie Guthrie, or Dennis Mize, as the Lost Minis Wiki is not clear on that.  The sculpt is from the The Adventurers line and has 1979 on the base.  I wanted this beast standing in the front of the diorama.

1 Werewolf standing unpainted
The Werewolf cleanup up – I do not think this model was previously painted.

2 Werewolf standing prepped for painting
The Werewolf mounted for painting.  The size of the small base was helpful in mounting to the diorama.

3 Werewolf standing painted
The figure after completion.

4 Werewolf standing mounted
The Werewolf moves forward on the diorama.

Frankenstein’s Monster

Often called “Frankenstein”, this is actually Frankenstein’s Monster (created of course by Dr. Victor Frankenstein.  The model is another one from The Adventurers line and has the designation #98-003.  The detail on this was also fairly good for a model from 1979.

1 Frankenstein's Monster unpainted
The model after I cleaned it as best as I could – some old paint remnants remain.

2 Frankenstein's Monster mounted for painting
The Monster mounted for painting – I did not want to take away any detail here as I thought it was pretty good.

3 Frankenstein's Monster painted
The painted Monster.  I went with heavy eyebrows as before I did the effect of the brow was not what I wanted.  Close up it has a little Groucho Marx look – but at a distance it worked – at least for me.

4 Frankenstein's Monster mounted
Moving to the attack!

The Pumpkin

The pumpkin was a from a Reaper sprue -and had to be part of the contest submission.

Basing the models after painting them required a bit of landscaping.  To fit better on the hobby challenge table, I made a field edge with Citadel “Stirland Battlefield” on the field and “Agrellan Badlands” on the rest of the ground.  I added autumn leaves from 4Ground (now available from Warlord Games here) to the still-wet texture paints and some matte varnish droplets on the rock.  These were placed as how I thought they would naturally collect – as well as to break up the form of the flat mini bases that were mounted on the rock.  Then, I used a handheld hair dryer to dry the terrain (and crack the Agrellan Badlands a bit).    I added some grasses from Shadow’s Edge Miniatures.  These also helped to hide Dracula’s base a bit.

6 Dracula and crouching Werewolf mounted
The Dracula figure and the crouching Were Wolf are mounted on the rock here with Gorilla Glue.  For better adhesion, I scraped away the black primer where I was going to mount the other three figures.  This also allowed me to mount them sequentially.  Doing this made it easier to paint and hide the figures’ bases with the texture paint products.

7 figures mounted, front side
The texture paints are still wet here.  I created the pumpkin patch edge with “Stirland Battlefield”, the rest with “Agrellan Badlands”.  I put a few dots of matte varnish on the low spots on top of the rock for the leaves.  While the paints were still wet, I sprinkled the autumn leaves about as you see here, then used a hair dryer to dry and crack the ground.

8 figures mounted, left side
A right side view of the same as previous.

9 figures mounted, rear side
A rear view of the previous.

10 figures mounted, right side
A left side view of the previous.

Once it all had dried, I removed the piece from the poster tack.

11 finished
Finished piece.

I then drove down to Great Stories to get it entered.  There are a lot of nice pieces there, so we’ll see how it does – and of course most folks who will vote are not used to wee 25mm scale!  It did mesh well with the edge of the pumpkin patch.  At the least, I’ll have a Halloween decoration for many years!

12 on Hobby Challenge table
The Pumpkin Patch is alive with creatures!

12a on Hobby Challenge table
Side view of the previous shot.

Thanks for looking – and I always love getting feedback and any opinions in the comments section, so feel free to post there.

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

On the base:

  1. Gorilla Glue gel
  2. Poster tack
  3. Used DVD
  4. Polystyrene card
  5. Woodland Scenics resin rock
  6. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  7. Citadel “Stirland Battlemire” (texture)
  8. Citadel “Agrellan Badlands” (texture)
  9. 4Ground Loose Copper Foliage
  10. Shadow’s Edge Static Grass Tufts
  11. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Commonly used on all figures for mounting, priming, and varnishing:

  1. Poster tack
  2. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  3. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  4. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
  5. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

On the Dracula figure:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gulliman Flesh”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  3. Vallejo “Light Flesh”
  4. Army Painter “Flesh Wash”
  5. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  6. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Basilicanum Grey”
  7. Vallejo “Black”
  8. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  9. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”
  10. Citadel “Astrogranite” (texture)

On The Mummy figure:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Apothecary White”
  2. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  3. Citadel “Longbeard Grey” (dry)
  4. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”

On the Were Wolf figure (crouching):

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gore-Grunta Fur”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Volupus Pink”
  3. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  4. Vallejo Mecha Color “SZ Red”
  5. Citadel “Prayeti White” (dry)
  6. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Space Wolves Grey”
  7. Citadel “Skrag Brown”
  8. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  9. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  10. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Apothecary White”
  11. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”
  12. Citadel “Astrogranite” (texture)

On the Werewolf figure (standing)

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gore-Grunta Fur”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Volupus Pink”
  3. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  4. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Dark Angels Green”
  5. Vallejo Mecha Color “SZ Red”
  6. Citadel “Prayeti White” (dry)
  7. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Space Wolves Grey”
  8. Citadel “Skrag Brown”
  9. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  10. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  11. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Apothecary White”
  12. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”

On Frankenstein’s Monster figure:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Plaguebearer Flesh”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Ork Flesh”
  3. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Basilicanum Grey”
  4. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Militarum Green”
  5. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Wyldwood”
  6. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Dark Angels Green”
  7. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  8. Vallejo “Black”

On the pumpkin:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gryph-Hound Orange”
  2. Citadel “Astrogranite” (texture)
  3. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Ork Flesh”
  4. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)

Thanks for looking!