Friday, November 14, 2014

Stalingrad Pioniers Part 1

Hey All.

As I begin to put together my Stalingrad Pionier squads, I have decided that I want them to stand out a bit from the rank and file German troops.  I plan on adding in a sprinkling of figures in long coats as Operation Hubertus took place in November. Also, I plan on including figures with cloth helmet covers. As I started to look into German Stalingrad-era cloth helmet covers, I discovered that there seems to be three different ones present...

First, tight-fitting, and presumably fashioned from Soviet 1938 'Amoeba' pattern captured stocks of camo material below...
Second the 'standard' Heer pattern Zeltbahn...

Third, the burlap or cloth field fit with a rubber band or strap of some sort to hold in place.

These series of pictures are of Hauptmann Wilhelm Traub, Kommandeur of Pionier-Bataillon 305, 305th Infanterie-Division, near gun factory "Barrikady".  Missing in action 5th January 1943.

Hauptmann Traub with Hauptmann Friedrich Winkler (pointing). Hauptmann Friedrich Winkler , of Infanterie-Regiment 577, 305th. Infanterie-Division. Captured and died February 1943.

Close-up of figures with covers:

I think the Amoeba one will look good but hard to tell if it should be in base green or tan...also there are pictures of netting covered helmets as well...

Stay tuned...


Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Monument to the Canadians, Dieppe.

 Graves at Dieppe
 Plaque with the names of the young men executed Abbaye d'Ardenne.
 ...their photos...
 ...tree in the courtyard...

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pokey Progress

Hey All!

Where the heck did October go?!? Wasn't it just summer? Man, time is flying by! Managed to put in a bit of time on the workbench and finished up the leIG 7.5cm.
This is the second time I completed this miniature (see previous blog entry regarding flatcoating here: Blew It). I added a few scratchbuilt items - wicker ammo cases and 7.5cm rounds. They are a bit on the large side though I was trying to size match the ones carried by the crew.
Helmet decals hand-painted. I tried to go with a similar base style to my other German squads (with a Russian steppe 42-era basing)  but the decals would allow for earlier use in France.
All colors as per the 'Recommended Colors' blog post on the right. Changed the painting style on the gasmask can to a highlight of Tamiya aluminum. Could go a bit flatter by adding a bit of grey but looks miles better than silver (which is out of scale for 15mm). If you look at pictures of German troops, the can highlights look almost white.
Base weeds are Silflor drybrushed a light straw color. Dirt is a mix of grout, sand and PVA glue. A few small stones from the driveway finish off the terra-firma.

Also finishing up some more figures for my Pionere squads. Converted a AT gun figure to a running LMG figure by removing the Panzerbuche and rifleman pouches (why would he have these?) and adding a MG34, bipod,  and a camo helmet cover.

Grenade and ammo cans added. Should have a few more of these done in a couple painting sessions.



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

100th Blog Post and StIG33B Complete!

Hey All!

Just noticed that this is my 100th Blog Post!


Some reflection...

I originally started this blog as a place to record and share what I have been painting, the color choices I am using, and to express my opinion on 15mm miniatures but it has also become something more; a source of inspiration. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to add comments to the posts, I truly love the feedback!

 Got 'round to completing the StIG the other day...

From what I can deduce, markings on the original Stalingrad-era vehicles were minimalistic. Period photos do show a centered cross on the rear tool box but I went with the left.
Dom's Decals for the win...
Mud added to the chassis via grout mixed with Vallejo matt medium. I attempted - once again - to paint the very poor running gear but gave up. I may sound like a broken record regarding BF's tracks and wheels but let me just say that they are heading in the right direction with their plastic vehicle line.
Barring any misfortune, this vehicle will be featured in the Salute 2015 game I will be hosting in Vancouver. I have been putting together some more Pionere squads and terrain for a factory fight.

I am planning on painting the shadow under the ventilator cover as I now see it looks a bit rough...
I deliberately lightened the finished color to give contrast and a dusty look.
I flat-coated the model with Vallejo Matt Polyurethane 62.062. This is the best matt product I have ever used.
I added some detail in the form of bolts, headlight wires and flash suppressor to the MG34 with Micro Krystal Klear. It is pretty resilient but I have since picked up some Vallejo Plastic putty to try on the next model.
Above are a couple good shots of the excellent Plastic Soldier Company spare wheels and tracks - great products!



Saturday, September 20, 2014

Vallejo Matt Varnish Disaster and Redemption!

Hey All!

Soooo the other night, after finishing up a German 7.5cm leIG 18 and three crew figures, I needed to flatcoat. Currently I have been brushing on Vallejo 70.520 (17mm size bottle) or 26.518 (60mm) and am fairly happy with the results though, there is room for improvement. Also, the varnish is durable and can stand up to gaming so there is that...The flat achieved has a very slight sheen and occasionally an area that is downright glossy.

 So a thought comes to me - I wonder if I can get a better result with airbrushing the varnish? I grabbed a KV-1 I have done a few years back as a test piece and turned it upside down to test on the underside. I sprayed a 2-1 ratio of varnish to water and waited...looked good, in fact, looked GREAT! Super flat! Wow!

I though, heck, I have never been happy with the KV-1s flatcoat so sprayed the entire model...then the 7.5cm leIG 18... then the crew...then an extensively scratchbuilt 15cm sIG 33 also waiting for a flatcoat (see previous post)...then I looked at the KV again...whats this?!...seems to be hazing over a will be ok, a little loss of color intensity, its happened before...still such a great flat...hey!...its getting worse! NOOOOOO!!!

Everything white...EVERYTHING...

Tried a few 'fixes'. The gloss, with a second coat of flat, the soak and redo, the olive oil (really?)...all no help...ok the olive oil helped but then they were shiny so ...into the bath of Easy Off...soo much work...


So yesterday, I began to re-build the models...this time I plan on fixing a few things that bothered me the first time.
 The shield on the 7.5cm is too thick and has poor detail. I replaced it with one I made from galvanized sheet. As well, cocking handles were added to both models.  Gas recuperators and wooden bar for repositioning the gun were removed as they were out of round and look bad. I replaced them and added the pistons to the gun cradle.  Both models have terrible elevation handwheels so those where changed out too. I plan on painting in the spoke detail later.
 I installed the proper amount of shield supports (two per side) for the 15cm. Aiming stakes added to the trail of the 7.5cm and shield of the 15cm.
 I used Micro Kristal Clear to add rivet details to the 7.5cm shield and added sight doors to both guns.  Pioneer tools added to the shield of the 15cm.  I also cut off the barrel end and replaced it with a brass one as it was out of round.
Tho it doesn't show, I drilled out the somewhat flat axle on the 15cm and replaced it with a brass rod to keep the wheels straight and secure.  Finally, I added a barrel cleaner and recoil shield to the 75.

As I have heard good things, I ordered Winsor and Newton Galeria Matt varnish to try...stay tuned...




After a suggestion by Chevalier de la Terre (thanks buddy!) to try 62.062 Vallejo Premium Acrylic Polyurethane Matt Varnish, I found some at my local hobby shop. At first, I brushed it on and had poor shiny results What the hell?!

I re-read  his instructions 'shake well before use'...oops...I shook the bottle like a junkie needing his fix, put some in my old Badger single action and POW! Excellent results!

I realized now that though the product is clear, you need to shake the crap out of it. I did not thin at all and airbrushed at 20 psi while wearing a 3M NIOSH P100 mask. The bottle says non-toxic but Im sure it isn't something you want in your lungs.

 The results are nothing short of stellar...
This pic was taken with a flash and there is zero shine. I re-coated my entire collection of Soviets and German Infantry stands inside an hour.  They really look great! This product is what I have been searching for since I tossed Dullcote.  Also the Polyurethane Matt Varnish has the added bonus of durability - what more could you ask for?

Cheers and thanks again Chevalier de la Terre!!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Are PSC/BF LW British Compatible?

Hey All!

A little while ago, I received the Plastic Soldier Companies LW British Infantry boxed set and painted up a few figures to get a feel for them. The good news is that they do fit in well with BF LW British figures but how good are they? Direct comparison to BF is not really fair as PSC's are plastic and BF's are metal but here are my observations...

Battlefront (BF) on right, Plastic Soldier Company (PSC) on left.

Figures: Flash and mold lines are present on both companies figures. If you are like me, you will spend a lot of time removing and still miss some...(pant leg on prone figure below) though only the close-ups will reveal.  PSC face and hand detail is different than BF but is still excellent.  Though most PSC faces are all the same, there are a few yelling figures that are well modelled.  Size-wise, both companies are very similar. PSC tends to have uniform body size throughout the casts whereas BF have a few waist-less, or dwarf figures with long legs. Due to horrible body proportions, there are a few real stinkers in the BF camp but both companies suffer from no-neck-itis...

Poses: I thought at first that BF had many more poses than PCS but after counting, I came up with 9 x rifleman poses each with BF having 3 x Bren gunners vs PSC's x 2.  There are many more NCOs and Officers poses with BF.

Equipment: BF figures is more accurate in placement. The water bottle and respirator bag are reversed on the PSC figures and knapsack is a bit on the large side.  Side detail is missing but this is an issue with all plastic injection-molded figures (including BF). Helmets are slightly more realistic looking on PSC figures as BF's are too flat on the sides for the 'Turtle' Mk.III.  As to variation of the type of equipment carried, BF spices it up a bit with an occasional deployed bayonet or shovel tucked under the pack.  PSC riflemen are all carrying exactly the same, water-bottle, folded entrenching tool, knapsack and respirator.

Weapons: PSC's Bren gun ROCKS! The detail is perfect for this scale. BUT the SMLE rifles are a very simplified affair. You will have to paint in the details that are not present as they are on the BF rifles. PSC Stens are slightly better, edging out BF in both detail and scale. The same for the PIAT and 50mm mortar.

Uniforms: PSC's detail is 'softer' than BF's. There is not as much relief and folds tend to be rounder. This one aspect of PSC figures took me the most to get used to and it wasn't until I had fully finished a figure that I was able to feel comfortable with this look. To be honest, I didn't think they would look good at all and I had to force myself to finish but once done, I was happy with the results.

Conclusion: Both companies offerings have pros and cons. I have always felt that for durability, the metal figures are going to stand the test of time as even on the sprue, there were a few bent rifles with the dreaded 'white' stress lines showing on the PSC figures.  Metal figures do suffer from this as well and rifles and arms will break if bent one too many times but plastic is slightly more prone.  Plastic will take a fair bit of bashing before the paint chips start to show and do tend to survive better in freefall so if your opponent is klutzy or ill-tempered, this may be better for you.

If you have bags of money, buy them both and use them together. They will look fine, even on the same base.  If on a budget, buy the PSC as they are much cheaper and will get you gaming without stealing from your kids college fund!



Saturday, August 9, 2014

StIG33B and 15cm sIG 33 Part II

Hey All!

Black-washed and began panel highlighting on the StIG33B and as I had the airbrush out, I painted up a sIG 15cm infantry gun thats been kicking around for awhile.
The sIG is a good sculpt but is missing the shield supports and artillery sight as well as aiming stakes and pionere tools.
The shield support should two spars per side but I simplified it as well there should be a pick to the left of the shovel.
I added the tail light and some bolt detail to the shield front and a sight door. I also scratch-built a artillery sight, and added a trail leg lifting handle.

Just need to dust it up a but more and complete the crew. I have some scratch-built wicker cases and shells  to add to the base when done and this Bad Boy is ready to knock down a few walls!



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sturm-Infanteriegeschutz 33B and PSC

Hey All!

In the continuing saga of everything Stalingrad, I have begun work on another period vehicle - the StuIG33B. This vehicle saw combat in November in Stalingrad with the Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 177 and Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 244 and also in the with the Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 243 and 245 in the attempt to relieve the trapped 6th Armee. I am used Battlefronts GE133 blister for this project and all in all its a pretty good model with a few flaws.

The Battlefront kit has the usual issues with simplification and rough road wheels as well as a few. inaccuracies.

No extra road wheels (or much of anything) are included in the kit so I have added a few items seen in photos and was pleased to note that extra road wheels and track from Plastic Soldier Companies new Panzer III boxed set fit the bill perfectly! These items look great and are only slightly smaller than BF extra road wheels/tracks but the detail is no contest! This boxed set is really a must-have for fans of the PzIII and I cannot wait to put these together! I will spotlight the build in a future blog entry.
One other problem with the BF kit is the hole along the bottom of the superstructure sides to accommodate the fender supports that are present on the metal track part. It seems Battlefront simply used the tracks from the StuG kits for the StuIG33. This results in there being fender supports where there should be none and tools being in the wrong position. (jack on wrong side, no axe/wire cutters, track pry bar should not be where it is etc). As well the track pieces sit too low and should mate up tight with the hull. Picture below from Battlefronts site:
I removed the fender supports, ground down the hull so it fit flush and filled the holes with JB Weld. I also added back a couple fender supports where they belonged, an MG34, and a headlight.
I will add a fender stowage box, a tow cable and maybe a few roadwheels on the superstructure front although I am not too sure this was done in Stalingrad?!

Card above for vehicle for Schwere Kompanie rules.

PS: Did a bit more work on the StuIG. Moved the jack, added an axe, stowage box and fire extinguisher.

...and primed...

...whats that lurking in the shadows?