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!

 

French defeat Germans at Mass Pikemen

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

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

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

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

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

Score Breakdown:

French 38 chips:

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

Germans 12 chips:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soviet

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

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

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

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

 French

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

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

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

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

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

12 SOMUA's right side

13 R35 front
Renault R35’s

14 R35 moving

15 Defenders of France
Nice group shot

German

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

COMMONLY USED ON MULTIPLE TANKS:

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

UNIQUE TO THE SOVIET TANKS:

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

UNIQUE TO THE FRENCH TANKS:

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

UNIQUE TO THE GERMAN TANKS:

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

Thanks again for looking and for your feedback!