Wednesday 30 November 2011

IJN 1/1200 Yamato Kit

My triumvirate of Revell IJN 1/1200 kits is now complete (although I should add only one is "made", two are in the projects "stash/stock" for the winter nights). So I now have the IJNS Mushashi (made), the third ugly sister that was converted into an aircraft carriers 'desperation style' post the Midway 1942 disaster the IJNS Shinano (still in the box) and the most famous of the pack the IJNS Yamato courtesy of my latest eBay purchase.

Peeking inside the pack I see it's a nice little kit, differing only from the IJNS Mushashi in that it has turret options with additional AA mounts on them.

This begs the question, as I now have eighteen Revell 1/1200 warship kits, does this mean I have the complete (warship) range? Details to follow in a different post.     

Early war Panzer "Mediums": Panzer IV (Short Barrelled)

To be fair the Germans did not pretend to have any heavies in their early war order of battle (OoB). The Panzer battalion had its two companies of "lights" and one company of "medium" tanks. These latter ones were the short barrelled 75mm Panzer IV's designated as a specialist infantry support (or should I say Panzer Grenadier) role (see below):

These chaps are the classic Airfix kit made up in the early was Panzer Mk IV F1 variant.

These boys were painted "long, long ago" (note, still no decals on them) in the mid-1990's but seem to hold their paint jobs against my more recent stuff.

I still rate the Airfix kit as a classic and I have two kits made (see previous post) ready to paint and a third still in the box of the long barrelled mid-later version to complete (technically the Pz IV F2).

Strangely "as by means of necessity" this initial "infantry support tank" supplanted its cousin the Panzer Mk III in its various 'Ausf' up-gunned and up-armoured guises as the Main Battle Tank (MBT) of the German Army from 1943 onwards. This was down to the virtue of having  a bigger turret ring that could fit the long barrelled 75mm gun that was needed to combat the Soviet tanks (T34's and KVI's)  encountered on the Eastern Front. The poor old Pz III was stuck at the long barrelled 50mm having its 'Kursk swan song' and was finally turned into a "infantry support version" in its end-of-life Ausf N version.

Exciting stuff as I am nearing the end of the early war German Panzers. Next I better sort out mu Orders Of Battle and get them onto the table-top for a bit of Command Decision III action (he says dusting off my copy of the rules).

Tuesday 29 November 2011

HaT ArmourFast Panzer III Ausf G: The Second One

The second HaT ArmourFast Panzer III Ausf G gets the same Tamiya XF-63 Panzer Grey (or after reading the label again I stand corrected it's actually German Grey) painting scheme. The fighting pair (see below):

As we are amongst friends we can pretend that the short 50mm is really a 37mm "Door Stopper" and drive across Poland (1939) and into France (1940) before entering Russia (1941-42):

Compared to the later war tanks the "length" of the barrel does not impress, but at least it can fire a decent enough HE charge to knock out infantry strong points (MG bunkers) and exposed anti-tank gunners.

Note to self: Painting recap Tamiya XF63 German Grey, with successive amounts of Tamiya NXF-53 Neutral Grey, leading to a final thin highlight on leading edges of XF-53 with a "touch" of Anita's Acrylic Cream to whiten it up.(As seen in the side-shot below):

Crying out for some decals and clutter, but that can come later!

HaT Panzer III Ausf G catwalk over, next stop the "medium company" of the early war Panzer Division's battalions ;)

Sunday 27 November 2011

The Panzer Grey Production Line Continues: The Panzer III Main Battle Tank

The previously broken (as in a snapped rear axle) 221 Armoured Car (which is an old Airfix conversion of mine) and a HaT ArmourFast Pz III Ausf G (with the short 50mm gun) appear on the painting table. To those in "the know", where you see one Pz III Ausf G from HaT you know there will be another because they sell them in packs of two. Seen from the front (see below):

Note: I am trying not to get distracted with painting the armoured cars just yet. The idea is to be painting 'all' the required German tanks for a Command Decision II/III early war (1939 to early 1942, when they were still just "grey") Panzer Battalion. Hence the 222's armoured cars I got out of the box because they were sitting next to the Pz I's and Pz II's in my previous posts have gone back into the box (sniff). The stuff on tyres can come later, tracks first. Seen from the back (see below):

The HaT model comes fairly clean (and is a "big" 1/72 rather than a small Matchbox 1/76) and begs to be cluttered with bric-a-brac picked up on campaign, individualisation shall we say. Jerry cans and bits of wood, as well as national flags are queuing up in the spares box but like the decals that will be done in a "battalion flurry" some dark winter night. A closer look at the Pz III Ausf G (seen below):

The HaT model sadly comes without a front machine gun sticking out of the RHS side, so that is another "spares box" request for yet another winter's night. meanwhile the 221 armoured car drives off into the distance (see below). It's nice to finish it but I do worry about a recurrence of the "broken axle" before too long. 

What I need to do to complete my "project" with the Pz III:

Pz III Orbats: 
  • Poland (1939) I need just 'one' Pz III in a pure combat role (i.e. no command tank variants). The Germans were just so, so short of their expected Main Battle Tank (MBT), they were largely equipped with training vehicles. 
  • France (1940) I need 'two' combat tanks and 'one' command tank (although I am tempted to use my little old Pz I Ausf B command tank, much to the displeasure of the proud battalion commander I am sure). The Germans were actually little better off in French Campaign from an indigenous MBT perspective. Luckily for them they had a good supply of stop-gap Czech (35T's and 38T's) to supplement their MBT stock.
(Note: Technically for 1939/40 they should be the Pz III Ausf E, with the even shorter 37mm AT gun, but for the time being it's a case of "close enough", at least it's not the long barrelled 50mm Italeri/Esci models)
  • Russia (1941) This gets interesting, I need 'four' combat tanks and 'three' command tanks. The command tanks are 'one' battalion command tank and 'two' company command tanks (again what's wrong with using a Pz I Ausf B command tank for the battalion commander I ask you, it's only for show not combat after all?). The gun varieties become "diverse" too, the 37mm of the Ausf E is on the way out after its poor performance in France against the French and British heavy tanks. Therefore every Pz III from the Ausf F gets a 50mm short gun and the old Pz III E's (and below) are up-gunned in battlefield workshops. The tanks in the panzer battalions have a "mix" of types when they go into combat, but by Xmas 1942 everything is pretty much a 50mm short or special units are seeing the long 50mm appear to try and combat the T-34 tankers "tank fright".
  • Russia (1942) The Pz III tanks that have their short 50mm guns are upgraded to long 50mm guns as soon as possible to stand a chance in combat against the T-34's and KV I's.

In Summary: The HaT Pz III Ausf G (see above) is a quick and easy build and paint. It also is the most inexpensive way to upgrade to a 1941 German Panzer Battalion Orbat without breaking the bank buying expensive metal and plastic kits. I am not too keen to be forking out lots of cash for expensive metal/plastic command tanks either (the radio/aerial assembly looks quite daunting too)!

Friday 25 November 2011

Naval Dreams: IJNS Shinano in 1/1200

Well I never thought I would never bag this chap. Sometime in the late nineties I physically picked this kit up and put it back down in a model shop in London (Hannants to be exact). It goes without saying I ahave always regretted that moment and yes since that time I never, never saw it again, but by the wonder that is eBay it is now mine :) 

If you are interested I got it from the eBay store listed below, at time of writing there were still four left:

Also I found an interesting link to the origins of this 1/1200 figure range with some elusive "collector items" which were planned but never made (see link below)

I am saving this one for a long winter night ;)

Thursday 24 November 2011

The Panzer Grey Production Line Continues: Some Panzer II's

From shiny yellow plastic and Africa Korp Desert Yellow to a base shade of German Panzer Grey courtesy of Tamiya (see below):

And from the other side (note the repaired 221 armoured car axle):

Don't tell Paul from PlasticWarriors but some Renaissance Holy Roman Empire (HRE) mounted Harquebusiers got a little look in too (see below):

Then fear not it was back to the finishing the Panzer II's:

No decals yet (I am promising myself a mass decal and varnish day sometime in the winter).

These two complete the tanks I need for the "light companies" of the battalion for the Command Decision 1939 and 1940 German Panzer Division order of battle.


Somebody else has been interested in Panzer II's recently see link.

The German Panzer II: At least it has a Gun!

Moving on from the mighty Panzer I, you come to the second "training tank" the Germans had to go to war with. Presenting the 'nippy' Panzer II with its high rate of fire 2cm flak gun (seen below in its initial construction phase  neat little desert diorama house).

The Revell kit (really an old Matchbox one to the old fogies like me who remember it first time around) is still a joy to put together and although as old as me still fits flawlessly together almost assembling itself. The soft plastic tracks are also just the ticket to, no multi-part fiddle with single linked tracks and plastic cement to bother about (ahem, rant over).

Here's another one I did earlier with the intention of doing a DAK mixed Panzer company (see above). The necessity of the 1939/1940/1941 Panzer battalion project draws it back into a German Panzer Grey paint scheme (yes I know it is technically an Panzer Ausf F rather than C but I don't bother too much about things like that, it has the right number of wheels and gun). Besides when they landed in Libya the DAK tanks were still dark grey, even fighting their first battles attired as such, and were only bleached by the sun and painted sand yellow after a while of being in-theatre.

Also on the painting table a little repair job on an old Airfix 222 armoured car (that I converted to the HMG 221 version) as the back axle has snapped off. After all every Panzer battalion needs a little 'recon' assistance to draw the enemy AT fire before committing itself to battle.

Monday 21 November 2011

Going to war in "Your Dad's Car"?

The German Army in 1939 was nothing short of desperate of AFV types if it had to use the "Maschinengewehrkraftwagen" Kfz 13 as a combat reconnaissance vehicle.  

It must have been like going to war in your Dad's open top touring car and must have attracted a lot of bullets to boot.

This dear little thing was made by MMS Models. A fine cast little kit. MMS Model kits are not cheap but do produce the filler gaps between the more common plastic kits and the stuff you need to flesh out your orbat.Seen in the best light below, I think I will base them on a stand with infantry "next to them" as I have not got anything small enough figure wise to fit inside.

I think this model warrants those dreaded "white cross" bullet attracting markings of 1939, as I don't think it saw much action post Poland 1939, from France 1940 onwards being a death trap. It has shades of the 1914 "Race to the Sea" armoured cars of World War One before the trenches set in.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Painting Tray Update: Highlights Applied to Panzer I's

Following the base coat the Panzer I's get the highlight treatment:
  • Tamiya Dark Green (XF-61) mixed with Games Workshop Sunburst Yellow for the SCW Breda Pz I
  • Tamiya German Panzer Grey (XF-63) mixed with Tamiya Neutral Grey (XF-53) for the German WWII variant

For the tracks Anita's Acrylic "Metallic Black" then highlighted with a dab of Games Workshop Mithril Silver, probably darkened to a shade of Game Workshops "Boltgun" if truth be told. The SCW duo got the same metallic paint combination for their exhausts, but for the German machine I followed my Panzer Colours 1/2/3 books which depicts the early war German Panzer as having brown rust exhausts:    

I quite like the effect as they blend into the background (see above and below):

This does mean I will have to think about painting some of my 20mm Irregular Miniatures SCW figures, for a "skirmish"level game. I was thinking of CrossFire as an appropriate set of rules to use.

Seen from the rear is an interesting feature of these models, they depict different models of the early Pz I Ausf A. If you look at the rear engine decks they are quite different. I will have investigate this further when I get the chance.

Yes they need Nationalist decals, something which I can borrow from the Italeri Panzer I Ausf B kit.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Painting Tray Update: More Panzer I Work

The bare plastic Panzer I Ausf B gets a Tamiya XF-63 German Panzer Grey base-coat and those wacky SCW "Breda armed" Pz I's Ausf A get a dark green base-coat (see below):

A closer look at those Spanish Civil War Nationalist tanks. Painted in Tamiya XF-61 Dark Green and highlighted with adding increasing amounts of Games Workshop Sunburst Yellow (see below):

"Early war" meets "later war". The Panzer I Ausf B next to a quick build HaT ArmourFast Pz Mk V Panther, with teh strange SCW tanks lurking in the background (see below):

The ArmourFast tank was a surprisingly nice straightforward build quite large (definitely 1/72 rather than 1/76) and dwarfs its predecessors. The Renaissance seems to be put firmly on hold for the moment.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Panzer I Variants: A Versatile Little Tank

My "Panzer I" family photograph pulled from the album:

Along with the "combat tanks" (ahem, yes we all know that the Pz I was only ever intended as a panzer training vehicle, possibly stretching to combat use as a radio [as in, indirect combat role] command variant the Pz I was developed out of necessity in a variety of other roles. Going left to right we have: Spanish Civil War Condor Legion 1937 'Gun' Tank, then the German 1939-41 Command Tank, 1939-41 HMG Tank, 1940-1942 Tank Destroyer, 1940-1942+ Assault Gun AFV.  

The Spanish Civil War (SCW) brought a classic battlefield modification, born out of necessity, marrying a Breda 25mm Italian AT gun to a 'dustbin' turret on the Pz I chassis. All because the Nationalists had to counter Republicans who had real tanks with guns in them (T26's)! The miniatures are from a firm called 'Faust Miniatures' and were an early form of "resin" kit [circa 1997, and were rather rough and ready, brittle and sadly the castings were full of air holes] but rather nevertheless 'charming' for all that too. Too my disgrace they are still in their black undercoat despite having them for fifteen years, but I can report that they are finally working their way a cross the painting table (as I type).

Next in line is the main production fighting variant (see below) Panzer I Ausf B:

You had to be small and dinky to fit into these things, basically a machine gun carrier with a squashed or cosy crew of three. The armour could stop a HMG bullet but not an anti-tank rifle (aka the British Boyes or Russian PTRD) which could take the tank out. It had already reached its swan song long before 1939 and was pressed into combat use by dire need for tanks in Poland (1939), France (1940) and Russia (1941) campaigns.

Next up something with a much more significant punch, the mobile AT destroyer JagdPanzer I (could I call it a Marder MkI?) with the Czech 47mm AT gun. Something even early war French and Russian heavy tanks had to respect (see above). The manufacturers are Fujimi and Esci and again are "old" friends, painted but still needing [the bane of my modelling life] some decals.

Finally the 'metal' fiend of my collection. Something that even in later in the war would have drawn respect, though I don't think any of them could have lasted that long. The Pz I Sig 150mm mobile Infantry Gun. Not a tank killer but a high factor indirect (or direct) support weapon against infantry or fortifications (see below). The kit is courtesy of the ubiquitous SkyTrex 20mm WWII Hinchliffe range and although it was expensive, it was a nice buy which I have never regretted.

I don't think these things, call it an AFV for want of a better description, were ever "knocked out" in direct fire combat, but I suspect the vehicles soon "shook" themselves apart after continuous firing. In reality too big a weapon to be mounted on this small frame. 

The only omission to the family (bar a Pz I munition carriers or ambulances) would be the specialist street fighting variant produced experimentally in 1942 after the Pz I had been removed from front-line combat service. This was a Pz I with "100mm of thick frontal and side armour" designed to be a semi-mobile HMG platform to support German infantry in heavy urban combat. Dis anybody say shades of the Stalingrad mind set? Apparently eight were produced and fought in on the Eastern Front. I think the kits are/were available in resin but from who I know not. The DAK also did a 'battlefield conversion' when fighting outside of Tobruk in 1941 and installed an infantry flame-thrower weapon inside a Panzer I with a limited amount of success. 

Summary: The Panzer I a surprisingly versatile little tank and with its many variants lived a life with a lot more service than would have been expected from its pure wargaming "data statistics".

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Back to the start of things: The mighty Panzer I Ausf B

The earth quakes and the ground rumbles as the dawn of the Blitzkrieg is heralded in by the mighty Panzer MkI Ausf B, in the infamous (ahem, thanks Tim, see comments) Dunkelgrau (German Panzer Grey) colour scheme, rolling across the Polish plains (see below): 

These old friends started life with me a long, long time ago, some twenty one years ago in Aberdeen. They are all PzIB's bar the central tank which is the Command Tank version. The only difference being no turret, only one HMG (instead of two) fixed to the front but a blooming great big radio tucked inside it (to spot it see above, middle of picture). This was the time when Frank Chadwick's Command Decision II was the new set of rules in town (circa 1990) introducing the novel concept of one model represents a platoon in a battalion order of battle (OoB) and morale was a significant factor rather than just the weapon wielded. I would also note that the range of plastic kits you could find in shops was very, very limited compared to the extravaganza before us now :).

Heading away from the sun shows a slightly more detailed view (see above), with the Command Tank variant (see above, top left) now leading the way left. The manufacturers are Esci (now to be found re-issued in Italeri boxes) and Fujimi (delicate, hard to come by Japanese kits even now). The pictures were taken from my BlackBerry in natural light hence the long shadows and limited zoom in. Did you notice the unpainted kit amongst the ones above?

Renaissance has finally made way for WWII 20mm and the painting table/tray is now filled with traditional modellers plastic sprue, instead of the trendy 28mm plastic figure kind (see above and below). 

The Italeri model was an old friend (I had previously built two Esci kits together albeit a long, long time ago), although the one-part none slippery plastic track (that required stapling together) was not missed, the individual track parts made it a lot of parts for a small kit! I think I will paint and yes even decal it up for the France 1940 Campaign (which means it is also perfect for Russia).

The Polish "white cross" markings are too silly for my liking, in fact the Panzer crews themselves soon started obscuring them with mud and grease as they had noticed the preponderance of knocked out panzers with hits on or around the "white crosses", which were perfect aiming points for the Polish gunners.

Footnote: I found on "You Tube" the Italeri Panzer I Ausf B review

Sunday 13 November 2011

I'd just like to share this thought ...

You know you have a young family when, as you pour yourself a nice cup of tea, you add the milk and watch Cheerios* float into your cup alongside the expected milk.


(*) Cheerios = small cereal breakfast "hoops"

Saturday 12 November 2011

Impetus Battle III: The Last Act (5)

In a suicidal effort to get back into the game, remember that big imposing elephant? Well light troops in ancient times were good against the beasts, so now is the time to find out how their Renaissance counterparts fair? Two units go in gun-ho front and back, although a with little bit of disorder just to make it interesting (see below):.

A good one to win! Nelly is beaten by one, but that was is good enough as contacted front and back means the end of poor Nelly (see below)!

The game now hung in the balance. My army had accumulated 9VD (disaster points) and was broken, but the Greeks were coming perilously close to theirs (also set at 9VD) as they stood at  7VD. I could not catch the light horse as they backed away from my MAA, the last remaining hope was to shoot the Greek General with artillery and shot (see below, artillery" bottom left and "shot" middle bottom, the target the mounted unit top middle):

The dice were rolled, the Fates laughed and the General was hit, a cohesion roll was asked for. Would he fall and I grasp the shallow vine of a consolation draw or would the young Mars be ascendant and claim my scalp (I do have a good twenty six years start on him)?

Fortune smiled upon another Young Alexander. He lived and had his day of glory, I on the other hand shrank back into the shadows of history as my army died and I have been (enjoyably) scalped again. Is it bad of me to wish on him extra Physics homework as he studies for his A - Levels [which were much harder in my day of course]


Notes: Army composition

I have literally played with what figures I have painted so the tendency has been to be go for quality over quantity to get a viable army on the table-top. I has been great fun. However the downside of this is that the higher VD of these quality units means that "it does not take many units to be lost" before hitting the army break point. Whereas the lighter VD per unit armies I have been playing against "soak up" casualties for a reality cheap price, thus allowing other units to manoeuvre into more advantageous positions and attack with devastating results (which is all good generalship I may add).

For the quality cost of my current troops I can trade in and receive an additional two "lighter VD(1)" units, a CL (Light Horse [Crossbow], with evade capabilities) and another Sk - Arquebusier (again with nice evade capabilities). As you can guess they are next up on my painting tray.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Nice little Impetus Website found

For fans of Impetus, I found this nice little site:

Little Soldier Company

Lots of gorgeous photos and interesting background Impetus stuff

Monday 7 November 2011

Impetus Battle III: Bloody Combat (4)

The Greek warband closes into hand-to-hand combat with the unit of Renaissance Shot (middle below), while in the background a whirling mass of pike, warband and cavalry clashes (top right, see below):

The charging Greek warband " evaporates in a cloud of Harquebusier smoke, though it has to be said after making rather a big impression on the "shot" unit with some nasty casualties (see below, middle). This battle field is no place for the timid or faint of heart: 

My joy of combat is short lived as a dastardly bunch of skirmishers move in from the side and finish of the Harquebusiers off while they are reloading (Editor's note: Rather artistic licence here as this sort of mechanic is certainly not in the rules). Now you see them now you don't:

The final savage blast from the Greek players phase comes in the middle (see below):

However to everyone's surprise the valiant (well in my eyes) Pike Block fights its way out of a tight and bloody corner by felling the last remaining Greek/Gaelic warband in front of it (see above), but in the process loses also its back rank (see below) to the Greek cavalry:

A body count is now required, not much being left of both armies. The Renaissance boys have reached their breaking point (9VD lost) whereas the Greeks are just hanging on (7VD lost). My army is technically broken, but as the whole turn must be played my phase has to be completed. if I can manage to inflict 2VD then a "bloody draw" can be salvaged. Casualties no longer matter to me!

Next: The last act