Friday, October 31, 2008

Bring Out the Big Guns, Camrade

In my rule system, for guns to be able to make indirect artillery fire as a battery they have to meet the definition of a batter. The guns must be close together, they must have fire control center, they must have an ammunition supply and if they intend to adjust the indirect fire, they must have a forward observer. Shown above is one of my ammo dumps. It is the same sort of boxes tailored to fit the back of a Roco truck bed. I give each of my artillery batteries a two letter identification number. I often make a little plaque like the RC shown here to designate which battery gets the ammo dump. This is Russian battery, letter C.

This photo show the ammo dump for Russian battery, D. The figures are from the old and nearly uselessly outdated Airfix Russian Infantry. The set is pretty terrible, but then it is close to fifty years old. Many of those old soldiers have been sent to the artillery; this figure has had his rather nebulous sub machine gun removed and now he pushes boxes around.

In the olden days before we had expensive European resin kits; did I say fragile? I meant to say expensive, fragile European resin kits there was Lyzard Grin. This company made 1/76th scale cheap, soft metal artillery. They had a huge range and it was cheap, and durable. These Russian 203mm guns are from then and are probably close to thirty years old. I based them on a sheet of styrene and then flocked it with Woodland Scenics flocking stuff. Set up side to side like this they make a really nice Russian eight inch artillery battery.

The gun is huge and it ways a ton, I think I paid less than $3 each for these guns, a great deal. My Airfix / Esci crewmen will man these monsters when the Battle of Berlin comes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

20 MM AA

With American planes patrolling the skys every day, all day long, the Germans in WWII needed to field as many anti-aircraft guns as possible. I had a number of old Opel Blitz trucks that were slightly melted in the heat of the summer sun. I converted these four trucks into AA gun platforms.

This Roco Opel truck has an open cab with no windshield glass. Notice how the dark interior makes it look like a solid cap with the window painted black. Roco makes two versions of their single German anti-aircraft gun. I selected the smaller of the two as this one looks more like a 20mm gun than a 37mm gun. Eadai / Grip / Arii used to make a large SdKfz 7 halftrack in 1/72nd scale. They came in an artillery towing version and a AA gun version. The artillery towing version had the rear deck walls of the AA version in the kit. I used these as the rear sidewalls for my conversion of these trucks.

The cab roof of this truck looks like it rolled over and was put back in service. I planted the entire Roco gun and base from a old Roco SWS armored halftrack.

These trucks are good basis for conversions. The original rear truck bodies were totally destroyed by the sun and so I could then use the trucks for other purposes. I try and use every bit in my collection so that nothing goes to waste.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Windows You Can't See Into

Adding resin vehicles to your collection can really expand the number of different vehicles available for wargaming. This group of German heavy cars has been in my collection for about 20 years, since Roco / Herpa only released such a vehicle recently as a plastic kit, it has allowed me to get a 20 year head start on using them in a wargame.

Most resin vehicles come unpainted in a yellowish or gray colored resin. These were yellow resin. I painted them just as I would any plastic kit, a quick wash to remove any mold release, a primer spray paint and then paint with brush, airbrush or spray can with regular model paints. The only real difference is this kit came as a solid block of resin. Tires, canopy, body all one part. Very durable, those ham fisted wargamers can't easily damage this model. But then comes the question of how to paint the solid window glass. I have used several techniques and they are illustrated in this series of photos. Here the windows are painted chrome silver, and then painted over with a gloss coat for added depth. Not too bad, looks particularly good on darker vehicles like this panzer gray vehicle.

Here I used a gloss black finish, with an extra gloss coat of clear. When the lighting is just right you can see the shine off the gloss and it looks very effective. If you look at most cars from a distance of a hundred feet, the windows will look dark in the daytime because you are looking through the glass to a dark vehicle interior. Hard to see in the photos but I take just the tiniest bit of chrome silver as a dry brush over the black. All in the same direction, usually at about a 45 degree angle. This makes this medium tan vehicle look a bit darker.

Light blue windows, with a chrome silver dry brush and gloss coat over brush on the windows. This looks best on a light colored vehicle like this tan heavy car. On a very bright sunny day with no clouds, the windows on cars will sometimes reflect the blue of the sky. This works well for desert units. I try and do at least entire companies the same, if not entire battalions, it just seems they look more uniform that way.
These vehicles have windows that are not recessed in any way. Vehicles with more of a recessed window tend to look best with the gloss black with gloss clear coat. I think by the window having a set back from the edge of the door it makes us expect the dark due to the depth.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another Bridge

The mighty Blitzkrieg was not just masses of tanks rolling across the plain, the infantry were still the backbone of the army. The infantry had to cross rivers too and not everyone wants to get their feet wet doing it. Engineers can toss a bridge like this one across a stream pretty quickly.

Once again I have used our friend the Roco pontoon bridge, but this time I have used the Roco rubber raft as the pontoons. These assault rafts were very common in the German army in WWII and the Roco one is a pretty good model.

I used the roadway edge and one set of handrails, turned four of the treadways sideways and made a skinny footbridge. Bridges like this allow troops on foot, even on a motorcycle to cross a river or stream and stay dry. It also does not slow down movement in my wargame rules, like crossing a stream would do; everyone hesitates before wading into a waterway. A bridge removes that hesitation. The rope handrail is thread, backed up with superglue to make it superstrong.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Roco Stug III

This old soldier is the Roco Strumgeschutz III. They have been around over 30 years and it is still a good, sturdy wargame model. The kit is only a few parts, upper and lower hull, two rear road wheels, cannon, machine gun shield, and hatch and two side skirts, not shown here. Only seven pieces so it goes together quickly.

A few extra bits on this model makes it look much better. I added some extra track links on the side of the superstructure and a few fuel cans on the back as well as a machine gun in the shield.

The fuel cans were places all over these vehicles in real life. I glued them in several different ways for a bit of variety.

This platoon is lined up in an ambush position. These vehicles were used up to the end of the war by the Germans. They were used as artillery, anti-tank guns and as substitute tanks.

Bridge Work

In World War Two the fast moving warfare style of the Blitzkreig required the ability to build bridges quickly.

To help simulate these bridges on the wargame table, I have taken the old Roco bridge and combined it with the boats from the Airfix pontoon bridge. I use sewing thread as the handrails, and strengthen it with superglue.

This gives me a unique bridge that is inexpensive and quick to build.

I don't glue the roadway down to the boats. This allows my wargame army the chance to "build" the bridge. There are resin companies that build the proper bridge, but they are very fragile and expensive, so I use this one. It is a standard size bridge, I build my streams to fit under this treadway.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

128mm Flak Gun

As we all know, the Germans used 88mm anti-aircraft guns in World War Two. When the US B17 bombers started to bomb the Germans they went for larger and longer range guns to reach these durable and high flying bombers. They essentially scaled up the 88 mm gun into the 105mm AA gun. Later, they scaled them up again into an 105mm gun.

Eventually, they started mounting these 128mm guns in pairs so they could fire large caliber shells at the bomber stream.

In Berlin, the Germans built massive concrete flak towers as air raid shelters and to mount and control anti-aircraft batteries. I took a pair of old 105mm AA guns from Fujimi, grafted them together and made pretty good representations of the twin 128mm AA gun system.

These guns were mounted on pedestals on the flak towers. I used a simple bottle top for mine. Painted gray it works just fine.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In the Rear With the Gear

In WWII the Germans made much of their food everyday from scratch. They had various stoves and ovens with their units and butchers and would actually slaughter animals for fresh meet and bake bread. In the background you can see a soldier with a bucket of potatoes.

One of the ways the Germans kept the retreat from the East orderly was to set up road blocks. The road block would include a field kitchen and the fleeing troops would stop to eat and then the military police could round them up and form them back into units.

The troops in the far background are ACW men with new heads from the HaT Bicycle set. The HaT set has extra heads and they come in handy for conversions. The horse and hitching rail are from Atlantic. The Germans had large numbers of horses in most of their units and this gives me some horse maintenance men and accessories.

The seated man with his legs crossed is a combat artist. I put artists, cameramen, still and movie with my units. Units fight better and have better morale when they are on television or otherwise being watched by the folks back home. Germans had newsreels that played in theaters right up to the end of the war.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cobblers Bench

Generally, I don't paint the masses of my armies. With over 50,000 troops I really can't paint them all and so I don't bother to try. I will paint troops a solid color so that they will look like a unit. These troops are a mix of various metal and soft and hard plastic figures that will join one of my late war German regiments. Some started as ACW figures, some as civilians and many are actual Germans. I did a few conversions on a few of them, mostly head swaps so they appear more Germanic.

This photo shows the troops and accessories after I painted them. When I organize a regiment, I try and include all the various elements of the unit. As you can see from the troops in this photo there are radio operators, cooks, officers, horse handlers and others.

On the left side you can see the cobblers bench. I took boots from some of the "dead" guys in the plastic set to use as the cobblers work. The middle bench is the paymaster. He has a line of paybooks set out on top. Finally, the table at the right edge is the armorers table. An ammo can and two rifles to work on.

I used a bit of sheet styrene for the base, and table top. I cut up a ladder to make the table legs. I cut a bit of plastic box rod to make the crates as the bench. This gives me a more detailed headquarters than just a couple officers and a radio. It also allows my unit to repair broken infantry gear after a battle and keep morale high by letting them get paid!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More of my Battle of Berlin game items. This is the office for my Luft Hansa company building.

The furniture is resin, metal and styrene. The floor is sheet styrene painted gold and then dull coated to look like carpeting. Figures are various Preiser in HO scale. I like to mix HO and 1/72nd scale figures to get greater variety. A thick base can help the HO figures look a bit taller and since they are usually civilians they look smaller since they don't have helmets.

The furniture was painted dark flat blue, but the "wooden" parts were then coated in a gloss coat. This technique makes the cloth look like cloth because it is not shiny like the wood.

Airport Fuel Storage Depot

The airline Luft Hansa operated until April 22, 1945 with one last plane flying out of Berlin's Templhof airport two days ahead of the Russians.

I have been building a small Luft Hansa operation for my Battle of Berlin game. Naturally, for airliners, fuel is an important aspect of getting planes ready to fly.

This little fuel storage shack is made up of bits from the spares bin. The floor is sheet styrene with a pattern of squares on it for concrete. The verticals are H bars from Evergreen Plastic. The roof has been sitting in the spares box for about 20 years, who knows where it came from. The barrels are from several companies, including Roco and the fuel pump and hand truck are from Roco. The figure is Preiser.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Berlin TV

The Nazis wanted to exploit all kinds of mass communication and before WWII they developed the Paul Nipkow Television Network. They broadcast regular television shows right up until near the end of the war. There were broadcast studios in several places, including Berlin and the Eiffel Tower.

To simulate the broadcast television studios, I got some of the Preiser TV crew sets. I combined them with other figures for actors, technicians, and news reporters. Using bits of sprue and plastic from the spares box I constructed consoles for editing and monitoring the shows. They could broadcast live and also video tape shows for later broadcast.

The green facade is from a BUM cowboy set. It makes a perfect building for a movie or TV set. Atlantic made some similar buildings.

The figures are mounted on sheet styrene, the camera operators mounted with their cameras. I imagine live TV reports from the outskirts of the city broadcast to the citizens of Berlin, waiting in their bunkers hiding from the Soviet tanks.

The control panel and furniture are from various companies. I actually am working on a building to house the system to include sound stages. TV was generally not watched from the home. They would broadcast a signal via closed circuit and people would go to TV parlours and watch the shows together, like a movie. They did have plans for broadcast TV to the masses but the start of the war put those on hold.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More Wagons Again

My friend COL JIM and I visited our local train shop today and I added to the wagon collection with this great example.

Two massive sturdy looking horses pull this Preiser Rack Wagon #30436. It is a typical farm wagon good for use in Germany from Napoleonic times until next Tuesday. Perfect for WWII. At 31.99 this is not cheap, but a very nice wagon.

This is straight out of the box, fully assembled, painted and detailed. The two figures are great and well painted.

The back of the wagon has several farm tools, rakes and such. This wagon will be added to my collection of wagons for my Berlin project.