Tuesday, 5 June 2018

A lonely duck... a Guderian's Duck!

Yesterday I got my copy of Vae Victis 139. As usual the magazine was packing its usual assortment of articles. As usual some anti-american idiocy slipped in... (it is quite annoying, especially because they are usual gibberish) but this is not the point of my writing... much more annoying was a comment I found on the Team Yankee article, in the box highlighting the available miniatures. The writer was defining Peter Pig vehicles:

'par contre le chars uniquement en plomb ne sont plus aux standards actuels'

this is the sort of idiocy that you find in magazine and that seems more a product of people bashing companies rather than serious reviewers. Having painted a PP vehicles just few days ago...

I felt the comments was a gratuitous insult. Peter Pig is not the only manufacturers producing full metal tanks. As a manufacturer with a big catalog it is obvious that some vehicles will be better than others, often reflecting their age. The Jagpanzer IV/70 I had under my brushes is a relatively recent vehicle (in their production, not in history!) and while being a full metal model it is certain up to standard. Certainly better than some resin stuff I have seen around.

Rant done... let's talk a bit about it. As almost every German WW2 chassis also the Panzer IV was used for conversion. Despite the appearances, it was not a late war desperation conversion. The plans for it had been shown to Hitler in 1942 by Vomag AG. The basic concept was to use PZ IV hulls to produce a 75mm armed vehicle to replace the Sturmgeschutz III. The basic reasons were compatibility with the main tank, the ability of the new hull to take heavier weapons than the Panzer III (the design specified a L70 gun from the start, while the Sturmgeschutz III had reached its limit with the 75mmL48), and also the assumption that, when the new medium tank (the still infant Panther...) would have replaced the Panzer IV as mainstay of the panzer divisionen there would be plenty of surplus hull.

That was the idea. Guderian did not like the new vehicle (despite in the end having his name associated with it), but Hitler was adamant that the new tank destroyer would have replaced the Panzer IV. Guderian's argument were basically two: the Stug III was still adequate, the Panzer IV was necessary as medium tank. Tampering with production lines would have been bad. In the end both won in typical German fashion, with Guderian keeping the Stug and the Panzer IV, and Hitler getting the new one. German Army's logistics obviously won.

Production started in late 1943, with the first 30 vehicles being completed by Vomag in January 44. With the new L70 guns going to the new Panthers as priority, the Jagdpanzer IV was initially armed with the older L48 gun. Not until August the 75mm L70 guns were made available for the Jagdpanzer, with production fully switching sometime later. In the end the german factories produced 1977 Jagdpanzer IV, 1208 with the long barrel and 769 with the shorter one. Around 270 were produced by Alkett with a different superstructure.

All in all it was a good tank destroyer with a powerful gun, good armor, and a low profile. Yet it was often used as an assault gun or an ersatz tank with poor results. I have a Skytrex and a Flames of War ones, and they had always performed quite badly on the table...

Gaming experiences aside the main issues with the Jagdpanzer IV were production runs hampered by shortage of materials and allied bombing, and another vehicle complicating the whole logistic issue.

Now, after a short historical introduction... more pictures... so you can decide by yourselves about Vae Victis' comment.

I like it of course!

Monday, 4 June 2018


After the madness of the 'unplanned diversion that turned into a horde' post, a little filler. I have recently repainted four Leopard 1A5 from H&R.

Everyone on the net always moans how good the GHQ models are, and then they painted them in awful manner. I have GHQ models, but I do not think they are by default the first choice. Heroic and Ros models are often perfectly good, especially with a good paintjob.

These Leopards were sitting in my bits box for ages. I just repainted them (so they have two coats!), and the end result is perfectly good.

The key element of the 1A5 version, the added Blohm und Voss turret armor and the smoke dischargers are perfectly visible, especially after a mix of dry-bushing and black-lining. The tools on the sides of the hull are there. The mantlet (another key element of the outlook) is also well done. I am happy.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Blimey!!!! They are doneeeeeee!!!!


if you have followed this blog you know I had started a 15mm WW2 British North Western Europe project sometime ago. I stopped posting the progress because I was lazy... but I did not stop working on it.

End result:

Three infantry platoon, one MG platoon in carriers, one Carrier platoon (only two sections plus comman), one AT platoon with 6pdrs, one Motor platoon, assorted engineers, a 25pdrs section, a whole load of AFVs...

I also removed the QRF Churchills (now replaced by PSC ones) and the QRF Achilles, now with two plastic BF ones proudly taking its place. Of course I can add more... but to be quite honest, I am satisfied with painting battledress...

The 'funny' thing is that this horde of troops has more or less never been planned. I was expecting myself to limit myself ot US troops for the NWE campaign. But then I received some leftovers from a friend (I painted his British troops) and started to add small bits... usually in plastic. Actually almost the whole force is plastic!!! Plastic fantastic (I like to build plastic vehicles, they paint better than lead or resin, they are much lighter for storage). Now let's go into details.

A squadron of comet from the 11th Armoured Division, FOW plastic. Two Squadron command tanks, two troops of three Comet each. I know it is a marginal WW2 tank as employment goes, but...

1) I like it
2) It was used.
3) I want my 1945 version of the force to have a specific character.

Mixed picture, you can see one of the PSC infantry platoon on FOW rural bases, and the artillery units. Two FOW lead 25pdrs (quite old, I think I forgot about them, but they ended up quite well), on PSC quad, one PSC OP Carrier, one PSC Sherman V as OP. And load of tanks... you can see the PSC Churchills, the Comet and the line up of Shermans.

Lovely PSC Churchill AVRE with its petard mortar, and the PSC AT platoon; guns and Loyd carriers. Behind the ATs, the FOW plastic motor platoon.

Center stage for the Carrier unit. The Carriers are a mix of FOW (old the initial leftovers!) and PSC.  Infantry are a mix of FOW and PSC.  Behind them Joe Vandeleur command unit, and 2 FOW resin M5 Stuarts.

The Motor platoon again, the Churchills (three gun tanks one CS), the two Achilles and Shermans!
Tank photo shot.

FOW plastic infantry in close up.

For a project started with leftovers from a friend's commission (let's be honest, one Matador truck, two carriers, 10-15 infantrymen, two Fireflys...) it has gained traction, mainly due to the attractiveness of plastic.

The Sherman line, two FOW resins in the foreground, the rest are PSC, 75mm or Fireflys.

One last tribute to my madness!! Now I only need to bring them on the table!

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Achtung, Aufklarungs!

Back to tanks... no to armoured vehicles, it is not a tank, it has no turret, and it is not even completely tracked. But I am sure the CNN or the RAI, or even some of my colleagues would call it a tank nevertheless...

So today we have a 1/56 (28mm) Rubicon Models SDKFZ 250/1 Neu.  The 250/1 was one of the ubiquitous halftrack designed and produced by the Third Reich to cover an infinity of roles. Halftracks are a cool (nice to look at in model form) and seducing concept (cheaper than full tracked, better than wheeled vehicles off road) that... never lived to their promise. Basically because the bulk of halftrack ended up being based on civilian truck chassis and engines they often were largely under-powered, and the off road maneuverability was not that improved. Okay, better than civilian truck in mud, but not that good. It was a concept largely discarded after the end of the war.  The 250 was a sort of smaller cousin to the 251. The 250 was based on the Sdfkz 10 light artillery tractor. It was developed in 1939 to answer a request from the army for a light APC to carry an half squad, usually in reconnaissance units. The same army's request involved two other similar vehicles, all based on the 10 chassis, an ammunition carrier and a forward observer vehicle.  The 250 was quickly designed and production started in 1940. Around 7,500 Sdkfz 250 of various mark were produced until the end of the war. It was not a successful vehicles, despite the numbers. The interior was cramped, and its off road ability was limited, more limited than the larger 251. It was also expensive to produce so a new armored superstructure was introduced in 1943, the Neu version I have built, with the more boxy shape. You can see some 'alte' models in 15mm in previous posts. Alte and Neu soldiered on on almost every front Germany fought, despite their shortcomings. They were adapted to countless roles too. Usually the APCs, the /1 version, were found in reconnaissance units, yet some panzergrenadier abteilungen replaced their 251 with them (on 2 250 per each 251 basis, due to the smaller transport capacity). 

Despite its limitation in real life, it is an iconic model, and indispensable asset in reconnaissance (aufklarung) units, and a nice looking little vehicle. 

I bought the kit  from Will at PSC in person sometime ago, built last year and painted quite recently. Yes sometime I have a disconnection between building 28mm kits and painting them. Building an painting queues are separate things here. Do not ask why... just assume there are deep reasons for it (there are!).  Done with the ramblings, back to the kit. As a matter of information Rubicon has both the alte and neu base versions, and accessory bos to produce several variants. At the moment you can buy:

250 alte box (/1 and Sdkfz 253 forward observer vehicle)
250 neu box (with crew, the crew fits in the alte too)
250/11 (anti-tank rifle) conversion for the Alte kit
240/9 (20mm gun in turret) for alte or neu
250/7 (mortar) conversion for alte or neu
250/3 (radio, Rommel's Greif to make it clear!) for alte or neu

Quite an impressive array!

It is a really nice little model with plenty of details, including interior details that will pretty much be invisible. It comes with a driver and two crews. I confess the crew is the reason why I opted for the Neu rather than the alte. I am planning to get at least one /9 but it will be an alte, I cannot really stand the 250/9 neu's look! The building was pretty much straightforward with very good instructions. I did not paint the interior before, despite what the instructions suggest. Why? If I cannot paint it when it is done... 99% no one will see it anyway, I am lazy!

For the final livery (and the uniforms of the crew) I ended up with a late war scheme and SS camo, it will be part of an SS force (I know I hate these guys, but the camo is cool to paint, and they are useful for several scenarios) based on the KG Knittel during the battle of the Bulge. An appropriate opponent for my winter/fall US troops. 

It has the usual base of dunkelgelb (my own recipe: base of vallejo middlestone, wash with dark brown, then drybrush of iraqi sand) and splinter stripes in brown, in this case vallejo chocolate brown.  I apply the camo before the wash and the drybrush. One of the Rubicon heads had been replaced by a warlord helmeted one, I wanted both crew in helmet. Decals are Rubicon and included in the box.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Roma, Aeterna, Victrix!!!


I am leaving tanks for at least one post... and diving back in ancient wargaming. The title post is supposed to be an hint... no I am not talking about Ben Hur in its 2016 version (but the Roman march is quite nice), but I am talking of Victrix Early Imperial Romans. In my last excursion to the money blackhole that is Salute (in my case 2017) I bought a bag of Marching Legionaries. Just after Xmas I took advantage of the free postage sale from Victrix to grab some Auxiliaries. 22.95£ per bag, 25 legionaries, 24 auxiliaries. Plenty of options (more on that later), excellent detail. Also Victrix sells you shields. So far so good.

Okay, the hawkeyed among the readers will already have spotted something... there are only 47 figures... 25+24 must be 49... well because I have organized the legionaries in two units of 12, one legionnaire has been given as a gift, and he is now in Japan. Another auxilia will join him, why? Well beside the obivious (making a gift!), it is because I will add the 4 figures command set  from Aventine to my second auxilia unit, and the other auxilia have become a skirmish group of Germanic auxilia with wolfskin as in Trajan column. I am planning to mainly use the troops with the ancient version of Lion Rampant with half-size units (I am lazy, I am a cheapskate, I do not want ot buy and paint too much) so 3 figures per skirmish unit are okay. The other rules I plan to use are Broken Legions (with some modifications to army lists) so the numbers fit.

Another group shot of my force. The two legionary vexillatio in the center, the Auxilia on the wings. They are based singly, but I have movenent trays from warbases for them...

The Skirmishers. Victrix auxilia bag gives you plenty of options, including the wolfskins. Now, I could have simply built them as standard auxilia, but it is a shame to not try the wolfskins. IIT is a problem with too much options. You end up discarding a lot. The Legionaries could be built as regular troops or Praetorians.  Again you end up discarding stuff. Okay they are cheap compared ot metal, and the options are part of the appeal of plastic, but too many options could push the price up and leave you with a mass of spares you do not really need. I have eyed Victrix elephant, but I realized I will pay for so many options I will never use (too many different crews, but you end up using only one set...). Sometime there could be too much of a good thing.

The legions' block. Not a great shot, I need to improve my skills...

I dislike, usually, flash effect on colours, but in this case they turned out all right, and the definition is much better.

The German skirmishers.

The detail on the skins is really good.

Well, until I get the command set and some mounted auxilia from Aventine, I am done. Even considering the additions, it is an almost complete project! Yeaaaah!!!

I hope you enjoy them.

Monday, 14 May 2018


Okay,  a new post. Recently I grabbed the new Tamiya 1/48 M1A2 Abrams for my 28mm modern US troops. It was on the shelf of my local hobby store, so it was one of those rare impulse buy. Of course being a Tamiya model it is a quite safe impulse buy.

 To make a long story short, it was a nice build and an impressive model. Much more detailed than the former Imprint, now Empress, M1A2. Of course you expect this from a collector model. There are a lot of nice detail, like the anti-slipping surface on the hull and turret ,the APU in the turret bustle rack, and the opportunity to position the shutter of the range finder open or closed.  Interestingly enough Tamiya gives you decals for the periscope windows, CITW visor, and the laser range finder. I decided to simply paint them my usual way.

Even more interestingly, while building it I found plenty of closed holes on the sideskirts and the turret sides making me thinking they are planning a TUSK version too... 

Anyway too much writing... too little images...

 You can see the rear mounted APU.

 Side by side with the Empress.

 Nice thing, while there are two points of scale difference, they look compatible together.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Mounted Samurai

I have an huge collection of 15mm Peter Pig Samurai (and Ashigarus)... that I have to paint. I painted some as a test years a go and then gave all but two of the painted ones as gift to Japanese friends (yes the testbeds were intended as gifts). Of the testbeds I had done, a single base of mounted ones was left.  It was time to add some friends. In January Museum had its yearly sale. In the past I have painted some Museum Mongols for a customer (one of my former professors in Bologna University!) and I was quite pleased. I decided to pick one of their Han Chinese army packs (I watched the first season of Advisors Alliance... now if they subtitled the second...), and some some extras, namely some landsknecht arquebus and some mounted samurai, I am intrigued by their Kawankajima range. I painted the little fellas... and put them together with the PP ones.

Museum one are undoubtedly taller, but once based they do not tower unreasonably over their PP brethren.

I really like the detail on the Museum ones. They have no sashimonos and are sold in single pose packs, but they are well sculpted and reasonably clean cast. Also once painted in different liveries the single pose is not that obvious.   Of course I need better lighting...