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

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

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

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

02222020 TOTALCON Battle of France 1940

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

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

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

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

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

General Assembly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panzer 35(t)

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

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

Panzer 38(t)

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

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

1 Panzer 38(t) turrets with decals

Panzer 38(t) turrets late in project

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

Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad)

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

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

Panzer IVB and Panzer IVD

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

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

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

 

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

Bonus Attack Cards

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

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

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

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

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

I am repeating my reference section below for those interested.

References

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

For history of the conflict I recommend buying:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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!