A Preponderance of Panzers

For May, I was hoping to complete a diverse German 15mm/1:100 scale armored force to use for a What a Tanker© game D-Day scenario.  Last month saw my completion of a good-sized US force – and I already had an 11-tank British contingent of Shermans and Fireflies.

As for the Germans, last year I had bought and assembled a 5-vehicle Plastic Soldier Company StuG III kit that could be completed as either F8 or G variants.  I assembled and primed them, but put them aside, as they did not fit in with either my France 1940 or North Africa scenarios.  From Battlefront Miniatures, I had bought several resin and plastic models to include a Marder III, 7 Panzer IV’s (E, F2, and H’s), 2 Tiger I’s, and a Panther D.  Additionally, I was able to acquire a Battlefront Ferdinand/Elefant from Chris Rett in my gaming club – which was fortunate as this model is now out of production.  This made 17 tanks/tank destroyers available to assemble and paint, but too big a force for just a Normandy scenario.  Plus, from my research, the StuG F8 was more of an Eastern Front vehicle.  So, I decided to proceed to complete these 17 for two different scenarios, some for the Eastern Front and some for the Normandy scenario.

Researching the camouflage patterns for these two groups showed me very different patterns of painting – and in each case I would need to expand my skills and tools to be able to achieve a good historical representation of each vehicle.  In particular, I needed an airbrush that could do the finest lines and make these tiny tanks look appropriate.  I found a solution in an Iwata Micron B airbrush.   This was not inexpensive, but in the end turned out to live up fully to my expectations.  As an aside, I had been struggling to have enough time to finish all of these tanks in May.  Work this month had been hectic, I attended HUZZAH in Maine (more to come on that in a future post), Memorial Day ceremonies, and the Boston Bruins have been in the Stanley Cup playoffs (and now the finals!!) so my hobby time has been constrained somewhat,  Unfortunately I got a bit more time as I was unexpectedly laid off this week!  I am sure that if I did not have a job, I would not have bought the new Micron B airbrush, but who knew that would happen?  Not me, but at least I was able to finish these in time to be my second entry in Azazel’s “Mechanismo May” community painting challenge.

Given that I was so busy, I took fewer WIP photos than normal – so I decided that this post I will go through some points on assembly, then share in turn the Eastern Front vehicles, the Normandy vehicles, and lastly the paints and materials that I used.  This means the eye-candy shots will be interspersed this time throughout the blog.  As always, let me know your thoughts and feedback – and which one you like the most, if you are so inclined of course!  There are links on the headers and elsewhere if you want more background, albeit from Wikipedia.

Notes on Assembly

2 Tigers
Tiger I kit innards
3 Tiger and washers
I wanted more heft in my tanks – so I added steel washers to the Tiger’s. I filled the hulls afterwards with PVA glue.
6 Panzer IVH with ball bearings and BB's
I remembered that I had some ball bearings from Jeff Smith and some BB’s – so the Panzer IV’s got these and PVA glue on top as ballast.
4 Assembled grouping less Pz Iv's and some StuG's
Some of the tanks, some primed, some not yet.  The Elefant in front had been given an Elefant trunk and ears with green stuff by Chris Rett’s daughter.  I did my best to remove the excess kneadatite before repriming.

Eastern Front

Here are the vehicles I built for a future Eastern Front scenario.

StuG III F8

1 StuG F8 base coated
StuG IIIF8 base coated
2 StuG F8 painted red
I made three F8’s for the Easter front.  Two had the two-toned reddish/brownish camouflage.
3 StuG F8 painted 3 color
The third F8 I experimented with the Iwata Micron B to make a three-toned camouflage pattern.
4 StuG F8's in wheat field
The three StuG IIIF8’s completed deployed in a wheat field.
5 StuG F8's in wheat field left side view
Left side view of the StuG IIIF8’s
6 StuG F8's in wheat field rear view
Rear view of the F8’s.  I used the Vallejo “Thick Brown Mud” on my Eastern Front vehicles to simulate the effects of Mother Russia.

Panzer IVF2

This model was a resin/metal combination.

4 Panzer IVF2 complete right side
Completed Panzer IVF2, left side.
5 Panzer IVF2 complete left side
Right side of the completed Panzer IV F2.

Panzer IVH

3 all 3 Panzer IV H's
I painted one Panzer IVH in a reddish/brown two-tone, and the other two in a two-tone yellow/green pattern.  Here they are with different decals.  I tried Armorcast decals in addition to my Battlefront ones – and the sizes of theirs (crosses) work better for small areas like you see here.  Give them a look if interested.
4 all 3 Panzer IV H's in a field
Patrolling a field.
5 all 3 Panzer IV H's by a wheat field
Left side of the Panzer IVF2’s.  I also varied adding crew or leaving the tank buttoned up to make it easier for tabletop identification and play – in addition to the different decal numbers.

Tiger I

4 Tiger in wheat field left side
Eastern Front Tiger I, left side, crossing a wheat field.
5 Tiger acquiring target
This was a fun model – and the weathering products worked well.
5 Tiger in wheat field frontal view
Acquiring a Soviet target.
5 Tiger in wheat field rightside
Right side shot.
6 Tiger in wheat field rear
Rear angle on the Tiger I.

These are going to be fun to use and see used in future games.  I previously had built a Battlefront resin Tiger I for North Africa, and I must say that the plastic ones are really nice models too (less weighty of course – which is why I added ballast).  Of course, I was primarily focused on getting ready for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.  So let’s get to those AFV’s!

Group Shots

Here are some group shots all of the German AFV’s for Eastern Front scenarios that I did this month.

1 Group shot 1 Eastern Front2 Group shot 2 Eastern Front

Normandy Campaign

Here are the Normandy Campaign tanks and tank destroyers I built this month.  These all have three-toned camouflage pattern, though I tried to be true to the examples I found in my research.

Marder III

This was a resin and metal model.  I painted the crew separately before adding them to the model.

4 Marder III complete right side
Marder III in ambush position.
5 Marder III complete left side
Left side view.
6 Marder III rear
Rear view showing Marder III crew.

StuG IIIG

This version had the “schürzen” spaced armor – which was also on the Panzer IVH.  All these are plastic models.

2 Stug G's by wrecked building
Advancing past the ruins.
3 Stug G's in field
Moving into ambush position by the bocage hedgerows.
4 Stug G's advancing down road
Moving up.

Panzer IVE

This model is the least powerful of the Panzer IV’s I built for Normandy, but it was deployed in Normandy and in good numbers.

3 Panzer IVE by building
The Panzer IVE by a building near a Panzer IVH – the Vallejo “Crushed Grass” worked well along with the “European Thick Mud” and the European “Splash Mud” for weathering.

Panzer IVH

I built two plastic Panzer IVH’s for Normandy.  The side armor (schürzen) were not easy to affix, and made painting a challenge on both these and the previous Eastern Front versions.  Their camouflage patterns were slightly different.

1 Panzer IVH's and Panzer IVE in field
The two Panzer IVH’s and the Panzer IVE (for comparison) on the right in the hedgerows.
2 Panzer IVH's facing front
Frontal view of the Panzer IVH’s for Normandy.
2 Panzer IVH's turn corner
Patrolling the ruined village.

Elefant/Ferdinand

I really enjoyed bringing this monster tank destroyer model back to the tabletop.  It is out of production, so I was very happy that Chris sold it to me for a song.

4 Elefant in field
Elefant right side.  
5 Elefant facing front
Nice view of the front – the crewman was already mounted when I got this model.  I prefer to paint them separately, but this worked out fine – they are just so tiny.
6 Elefant rear
Good look at the rear of the vehicle – I liked that it had the zimmerit on it too.

Panther D

I’ve been wanting to build a Panther since I saw the Panther A at the American Heritage Museum last year.  This is 30 miles from my house!

15A PANTHER
Beautiful restoration of this Panther

Mine is a Panther D, and it was a resin/metal model.

Note the road wheel on the turret.  It came in the kit, and I put it there as there was a nub to hang it.  Unfortunately, it interfered with the turret being flush on the hull.  Luckily, I was able to remove the road wheel.  As I had an extra track section, I was able to affix it over that space on the turret.  The model was also missing on of the two exhaust pipes – an iconic part of a Panther.  I was able to drill the resin hull and build a replacement with a cut-down paper clip.

3 Panther in field
Panther crossing an open field.
4 Panther left side
Nice left side view showing the muddy tracks.
5 Panther right side
Right side view with track section on the turret.
6 Panther acquiring target
Target spotted!  Schnell!  Feuer!

Tiger I

I think you’ll be pleased with this one!

 

3 Tiger in field left side
Left side of the Tiger I for a Normandy scenario.
4 Tiger in field rear side
Tiger I rear view.
5 Tiger in field right side
Right side view of the Tiger I.
5 Tiger in open acquring target
Nice frontal shot.

Group Shots

Here are some group shots all of the German AFV’s for Normandy that I did this month.

1 Group shot 1 Normandy Germans

2 Group shot 2 Normandy Germans

3 Group shot 3 Normandy Germans

Thanks for looking and I hope that you found this interesting !  I have more to do now – next up:

1 Next models

D-Day is only 5 days away!

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

  1. Gorilla Glue
  2. Testors Plastic Cement
  3. Elmer’s white glue
  4. Steel washers
  5. Ball bearings
  6. BB gun BB’s
  7. E6000 epoxy
  8. Aleene’s poster tack
  9. 1/8″ rare earth neodymium magnets
  10. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  11. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  12. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  13. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  14. Battlefront “European Skin”
  15. Battlefront “Skin Shade” (wash)
  16. Polly Scale “WWII German Armor Dark Olive Green”
  17. Vallejo Mecha Color “Grey Green”
  18. Vallejo Model Air “Olive Green”
  19. P3 “Bootstrap Leather”
  20. Vallejo “Neutral Grey”
  21. Polly Scale “WWII Luftwaffe Uniform Gray”
  22. Vallejo Model Air “Panzer Dark Grey”
  23. P3 “Sulfuric Yellow”
  24. DecoArt “White Pearl”
  25. Army Painter “Military Shader” (wash)
  26. Vallejo Model Air “Dark Yellow”
  27. Vallejo Model Air “German Red Brown”
  28. Vallejo Mecha Color “Olive Green”
  29. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  30. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  31. Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Rust Wash” (wash)
  32. Army Painter “Strong Tone” (wash)
  33. Vallejo Model Air “USA Olive Drab”
  34. Army Painter “Soft Tone” (wash)
  35. Vallejo Model Air “Rust (71.080)”
  36. Vallejo Model Air “Wood”
  37. Vallejo “Gloss Varnish”
  38. Vallejo Model Air “Bright Brass”
  39. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  40. Microscale Micro-Set
  41. Microscale Micro-Sol
  42. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  43. Appropriate decals from Armorcast
  44. Vallejo “European Mud” (Thick Mud)
  45. Vallejo “Brown Mud” (Thick Mud)
  46. Vallejo “European Slash Mud” (Splash Mud)
  47. Vallejo “Crushed Grass”
  48. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

 

 

“What A Tanker” Eastern Front battle at November Mass Pikemen Session

On November 10, 2018, the Mass Pikemen held their monthly gaming session with a game of What a Tanker set on the Eastern Front in 1942.  The scenario was a 1942/1943 one where a Soviet force consisting of 1 KV-1a heavy tank, 2 T-26 M1939 light tanks, 2 BA-64 armored cars, and a couple of Gaz trucks was surrounded and needed to break out through the Axis lines. It was my first chance to get all of my recently painted tanks on the tabletop.

Initially opposing the Soviets was a German force consisting of  2 Panzer IVd tanks and a 1 Panzer 38(t) tank.  Reinforcements were staggered for the Axis, and they consisted of a 1 Panzer IIIN tank, a Hetzer tank destroyer (Jagdpanzer 38), and an Italian M13/41.  It was imperative for the Soviets to exit the other side of the board with the KV-1 and the two trucks as quickly as possible.

The Germans moved on first – and one of the T-26’s was able to early on get a couple of shots in on one of the Panzer IVd’s, with the second one knocking it out.  This was a fun event for 7-year old Jack Burns who was playing in his first war game ever.  He was so excited to knock out the German tank.

1 Mike's Panzer IV death
The Panzer IIIN moves on the board as a reinforcement.  The second Panzer IVd takes advantage of its burning comrade’s smoky wreck.

The Soviets KV-1a was slow to move forward, and the T-26’s outran it.  The Panzer 38(t) moved up to the ruined factory and took aim at one of the T-26’s in the open.  It fired, and missed the Soviet.  Returning fire, the T-26 hit and knocked out the Panzer 38 (t).  Two down for the Axis!  Shortly after this, the other Panzer IVd peeked out from behind its brother, only to suffer the same fate from the plucky T-26.  Three down now!

2 Chris, Jared, Jack
Chris Smedile, Jared Burns, and Jack Burns advance their vehicles.  The Panzer 38 (t) is behind the wall in the center in a good defensive position, facing the T-26 that was to knock it out.
3 Chris C, Mike, Jared, Jack
Chris Comeau and Mike Morgan (and later myself) played the Axis.  This view shows the length of the board the Soviets needed to cross.  Each fighting vehicle had a magnetic dashboard, and its own colored dice.  Command Dice were always white though.

Let me add a side note here on my rules modifications for this scenario.  What a Tanker does not have rules for either armored cars or trucks.  I modified them here for the armored cars, which I made Fast (easier to always move), and Small (tougher to hit).  For their Armor, I only gave them a 1, which meant that any hit from a tank gun would very likely be enough to kill the BA-64.  As the BA-64 only had a machine gun, I gave them 2 modified Strike dice.  The modifications were twofold.  First, their range was 24″ (half that of the tanks).  Secondly, the BA-64’s would hit on a 6, but the only likely result of such a hit would be to force the target to button up if it was not already.  If the BA-64 player rolled double-6’s, I would allow 2 strike dice.  So the BA-64’s were harassers at best.  I had the Gaz trucks move last, with 2 D6 of movement (no command dice).  If they were hit, they were destroyed.

4 Chris celebrates his kill
Chris celebrates his second kill, while the Panzer 38 (t) burns.  You can see here behind the BA-64’s a D12, which I used for initiative rolls instead of D6’s and re-rolling for ties.  It worked much easier and was much less confusing.

Back to the battle!

At this low point, they got reinforcements in consecutive turns.  First, the Panzer IIIN came on in turn 2.  In turn 4, the Axis got the Hetzer and the M13/41.  The tide of battle was turning.

5 Hetzer chases KV-1a
The Hetzer ignores the BA-64 and sets out to hunt the KV-1a.

The Panzer IIIN moved up to the hill, awaiting the T-26 and a truck.  The German successively took both out, leaving the Soviets only with one T-26, one truck, the KV-1a, and the BA-64’s. The M13/41 rolled badly, and hid behind the Panzer IVd wrecks for better dice rolls, even taking humiliating fire from the BA-64’s that caused it to have to button up.

5 truck death
In the foreground, a Gaz truck burns.  The crew of the Panzer IIIN behind the hill looks at the burning T-26 in front of it.  In the left center, the Panzer 38 (t) burns, as do 2 Panzer IVd’s in the right rear.  On the left, the showdown between the lumbering KV-1a and the Hetzer is about to begin.

The Hetzer moves fast, and tried to move around to the rear of the KV-1a.  It succeeded, and missed with its initial rear shot.  The KV-1a immediately turned the tables, turning 180°, and rotating its massive turret towards the diminutive tank destroyer.  The Soviet again got initiative, firing not once, not twice, but three times – and unbelievably missing on all three attempts!  The saving grace for the Hetzer was its Small characteristic, which meant the KV-1a needed a “7” instead of a “6” to hit.

The Hetzer then got initiative and rolled its Command Dice well enough to fire but not to maneuver towards the Soviet behemoth’s vulnerable rear.  It decided to take a chancy shot at the frontal armor of the KV-1a.  It got 5 hits on 7 dice (needed a “5” or “6” to hit).  The Soviet player got zero saves, and the KV-1a was knocked out.

6 KV burns and truck faces m13 41
The KV-1a burns on the right, while the Hetzer and the M13/41 hunt the last truck (on the left).  The BA-64 attempted a ramming attack on the Hetzer to give the truck a chance to escape.

The BA-64 ramming attack did nothing to the Hetzer, which dispatched the armored car with one shot.  Meanwhile, the Italian M13/41 took out the last truck.  The surviving BA-64 was destroyed by the Italian, leaving the Panzer IIIN and a damaged T-26 in a showdown.  With the loss of the trucks and the KV-1a, the game was called an Axis victory.

7 final
Mike Morgan victoriously surveys the smoky battlefield.

The game was a fun one for winners and losers, with highs and lows for both.  Next time, I will probably give the Soviets a second KV-1a.

The next Mass Pikemen’s gaming session will be on Saturday, December 1st from 2-8 PM, at 110 Pleasant Street in East Brookfield, MA.  This is a change from our previous 3-9 PM time slot.  We will be playing What a Tanker again!

Please join us, and share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below!