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!

 

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!