Category Archives: Modelling

Everyone likes to talk about, and browse pictures of, fondly remembered badly painted toys. This site is no exception

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 6

Hurricanes Blenheim MitchellG50

Hurricanes Blenheim Mitchell G50

The Desert Airforce has been languishing on my “to do” list for some time, so with 6 days to go, I had a roundel party. My dislike of decals is well known, so freestyle it was. Sixty roundels later the job was done.

Hurricane Wing

Hurricane Wings

They are by no means perfect, but they pass the three foot test. The camera is never as kind, but it means that the Hurricane wings will not fly into action naked. The picture was taken midway between painting fuselage letters on. I’m going with the accepted convention of spinner discs for most of them, being more robust than props. The G 50 is not lost, it needed markings too.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Air Forces, Modelling, RAF and Commonwealth AFs, Regia Aeronautica, Western Desert, WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 19

Folgore 187 Parachute Brigade with Divisional Support

Folgore 187 Parachute Brigade with Divisional Support

Folgore landed yesterday morning. I have never owned or seen Eureka Miniatures in the flesh before, and they are more impressive in the round than photos suggest. They scale well with early Peter Pig and PSC figures, contrasting favourably with  the current trend for “heroic” 15mm, (or Fatboy 15s™ as I think of them) The bulk on the Folgore figures correctly comes from the clothing, not the heads.

I only bought enough for 187 Brigade Two packets of eight with a mortar and commander to give four battalion stands, a mortar battery and a regimental HQ (with a light japanese gun standing in as a 47mm gun). Also in the order were a couple of Bersagliari on motorcycles, and some Gurkhas.

They have reached this stage of painting in Lightning-quick time, rather appropriately. Pictured also are the cork tiles painted in desert colours. Super-secret no more!

Desert Tiles

Desert Tiles

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, DAK, Italian Army, Italian Army, Modelling, WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 31

7th Armoured Division Armoured Brigades

7th Armoured Division Armoured Brigades

If you want a non work-or-alcohol induced headache, try assembling the armour, colour schemes and divisional insignia of the British Armoured divisions at 2nd ALAMEIN into some sort of coherent order! Individual schemes and contempory photographs are there a-plenty, but enough exceptions exist to demonstrate that any attempt to show realism with one tank representing a battalion is doomed to failure. Look closely at some of the artwork online to see that the camo patterns don’t line up, or make no sense. No-one can agree on the colours used, were they thinned black, or chestnut brown, or both?

51st Highland Division Forming up

51st Highland Division Forming up

Tanks were shot at, they broke down mechanically, were recovered, and then were shipped back to whoever needed them, in their old markings until they could be repainted. When they were, it was with whatever was to hand, with local interpretations of the regulations, so I’ve gone with loose adherence to patterns and optimistically painted, impressionistic divisional flashes¹. As time goes on I can always rework them in the light of more considered research.

Ist Armoured Division Armoured Brigades

1st Armoured Division Armoured Brigades

For this reason, my vehicles rattle over the cork desert in multiple shades of sand, olive and brown.  I applaud people that are able to paint a uniform shade of yellow for the allies and another for the Axis: the results are spectacular. War though, is a thoroughly shambolic, scruffy affair suggesting that adding detail in layers over the years will give a more authentic military appearance, so shiny new tanks appear next to beat-up tinkers carts in my collection, with very little uniformity in evidence.

9th Armoured Brigade with 2nd New Zealand Division

9th Armoured Brigade with 2nd New Zealand Division

All the shots above show the armour assembling for the attack, ready to pour through the minefield gaps. The newer tanks are positively glowing in their factory-fresh paint schemes.

 

  1. Still not sold on decals.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Modelling, tank, Western Desert, WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 43

1941 MARMON HERRINGTON GUN TRACTOR

1941 MARMON HERRINGTON GUN TRACTOR

More artillery prime movers have appeared at SUEZ. This time they are stand-ins for Marmon Herrington Field Artillery Tractors. 9th Australian Division and 1st South African Division used them, and of course no-one makes a model of what is essentially a short-bodied Ford Chevrolet Truck.

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr rear

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr rear

Fortunately, QRF have a close-enough substitute in their Chevrolet truck. They actually sell two versions, a FSV02 30cwt Chevrolet truck for £6.00 in their French WW2 softskin range, and a PV05 Chevrolet 3 ton truck for £4.50 hidden in their Polish softskin range. Perhaps the ASV02 Chevrolet 1.5 ton GS in their American softskin range would also make a good substitute, but the front of the grille is too square.

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr

Although the Cargo bed appears too long, I made the models up as-is. Adding the spare wheel and shortening the backs can always be done later. The kits made up easily, but were the usual tired molds that needed filing to get a good fit. The cabs need shimming up at the back to allow them to sit level. A quick paint job and they were ready to go. Later I will put the soft-top cab roofs on, but time is pressing and there are more important things to do.

CMP FAT Stage 3

CMP FAT Stage 3

The masquerade CMP FATs and 25pdrs are coming on nicely. They now have the limbers covered in hessian, and one has the final camouflage net thrown over everything.  You can just see enough detatil to persuade you that there is more to the model than there really is! A bit of black painted-on detail is bringing the 25pdrs to life. I spent the best part of a day starting to paint divisional flashes onto vehicles, as organising them will be a major part of the forthcoming game.

CMP FAT Stage 4

CMP FAT Stage 4

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, Modelling, Trucks, Western Desert, WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 52

A muster of Opposing Forces has revealed a number of gaps. Orders have gone out to factories in Germany and Great Britain.

Arriving at the Docks in SUEZ and ALEXANDRIA are:

Four Semi scratchbuilt 25Pdrs and CMP Quads (PSC are showing out of stock, so dredging the spares box delivered 4 metal barrels and 3 spare CMP roofs. Cam nets to the rescue!)

 

Camouflaged CMP FAT and 25pdr Stage 1

Camouflaged CMP FAT and 25pdr Stage 1

CMP FAT and 25 pdr side view Stage 1

CMP FAT and 25 pdr side view Stage 1

CMP FAT Stage 2

CMP FAT Stage 2

25pdr Stage 1 with FoW barrels and PSC Crew

25pdr Stage 1 with FoW barrels and PSC Crew

PSC CMP FAT vs dodgy scratchbuild

PSC CMP FAT vs dodgy scratchbuild

Four M3 Grants from a Forged In Battle (FiB) 20% sale (PSC have yet to release their kit).

Matador, 5.5" medium gun with 25pdr, Grant and CMP FATs

Zvezda Matador, FiB 5.5″ medium gun with 25pdr, FiB Grant and CMP FATs

Two FiB 5.5″ guns for:

 

  • 7th Medium Regt, RA Matador Limber (L3), 5.5″  gun (S3)

  • 64th Med Regt, RA Matador Limber (L3), 5.5″  gun (S3)

 

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, Modelling, Western Desert, WWII

15cm sIG 33s

Astute readers may have noticed that 707 and 708 Heavy Infantry Gun Companies‘ first appearance on the table was in the form of card markers.

164th Light Afrika Division

164th Light (Afrika) Division

I now have models to represent them, together with two more that will make their way into other divisions, but which for now, are painted up as Luftwaffe ground troops.

s.IG 33 15cm

sIG 33 15cm

It was news to me that the sIG 33 also had a high-explosive Stielgranate round that was used for bunker busting and minefield clearance. I have not found a record yet that indicates if any of these rounds made it out to North Africa.

s.IG 33 15cm threequarter view

sIG 33 15cm threequarter view

90th Light ‘Afrika’ Division – Corps Scale Orbat

  • 155th Panzergrenadier Regiment (with 707th Heavy Infantry Gun Company)  Comd Sdkfz 250, 251 or 263  + 37mm Pak (C3), Sdkfz 251 (F3), Truck (F3) + 15cm sIG 33 Inf How (S3)

  • 200th Panzergrenadier Regiment (with 708th Heavy Infantry Gun Company) Comd car + 3.7cm Pak (C3), 2 Truck (F3), + 15cm sIG 33 Inf How (S3)

 

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Filed under Artillery, DAK, Modelling, Western Desert, WWII

Minefields and Strongpoints

Minefields and Strongpoints

Minefields and Strongpoints

The Devils Gardens sown around ALAMEIN were complex and wide ranging. Even today, tourist guides advise not straying off tracks, and this despite massive postwar clearance efforts. I should state that I don’t like mine warfare, possibly because part of my job involved training to lay them and actually digging up other peoples mines.

They are however, a major part of the ALAMEIN battlefield, and they need to be modeled. Tradition dictates that a roll of wire wrapped around a Biro and stuck to a lollipop stick is the way to do it and Trebian takes this approach. I went for thin marine ply with sand PVA glued on top and sealed with acrylic paint in suitable shades. Some have mines and other items of interest on them. I went with 150mm (6″) strips to match the square sizes.

I also did a bit more work on the hills and strongpoints to help them blend in. the shot above is a work in progress. You can see that the top right strongpoint has had its top sliced off like a soft-boiled egg, and had an emplacement dropped into it

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Filed under Modelling, NQM Squared, Western Desert, WWII

2nd Alamein – NQM Squared – The North

Allied 9 AUS - 51 HD - 1SA looking North

Allied 9 AUS – 51 HD – 1SA looking North

Before committing too heavily to squares, I set up this scenario as a TaGWiT (Tactical Game With Toys), to see what the real estate looked like, and to see if 2nd Alamein fitting into 22 squares from top to bottom was a realistic proposition.

The top third of the battlefield (7 squares) fits three Commonwealth divisions – 9 AUS, 51 HD and 1SA, and a third to half of MITEIYIRA RIDGE. This gives two squares or 6Km per division, which is fine, as the frontage of 51HD started at just over a mile wide and spread to about 2.5 miles.

el_Alamein_51HD advance

el Alamein 51HD advance

Axis North Front Line at 2nd ALAMEIN

Axis North Front Line at 2nd ALAMEIN

It all looks very crowded on the tabletop, but like KURSK, this was a head-on WWI-style frontal attack with little room for manoeuvre.

2nd Battle of El Alamein - 001

2nd Battle of El Alamein – 001

 

An Allied division fits nicely into 4-5 squares. I have some work to do on the look of contours, they are  too high-rise at the moment and Iwould like to avoid the square platform with cliff-edge look. There is nothing wrong with that approach – I’m just not fond of it. My first attempt was to just take a band saw to some of the squared cowboy terrain pieces that  seen little real wargame use over the past five years.

7 Bersaglieri in Thompsons Post Looking East

7 Bersaglieri in Thompsons Post Looking East

 

Thompsons Post and Breakout

Thompsons Post and Breakout

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, DAK, Italian Army, Modelling, Wargames, Western Desert, WWII

StuG Comparison

StuG IV Conversion from 15mm PSC StuG III

StuG IV Conversion from 15mm PSC StuG III

I showed my Stug IV to YesthatPhil, who commented that it looked rather lower than the III. That was my impression too. Wickipedia gives actual heights as 2.2m for the IV and 2.16 for the III.

Lining them up showed that the IV was the same height as the III, but the visual impression comes from the extra length of the IV hull. Surprisingly, the IV weighed in at 900kg less that the III. I threw in a Pz IV for good measure. Although lower than a tank, both designs failed the specification that they should be no taller than a standing infantryman.

L>R - PzIV - StuG IV - StuG III - StuH III

L>R – PzIV – StuG IV – StuG III – StuH III

Do I hear “scale creep!” being muttered on the back row?

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Artillery, Modelling, tank, WWII

Sturmgeschutz IV PSC Conversion

PSC StuG III Superstructure and PzIV hull

PSC StuG III Superstructure and Pz IV hull

 

The success of the Sturmgeschutz III led to a demand for more hulls than could be produced from Alkett, the existing manufacturer of the Pz III chassis. The G variant was by far the commonest, in excess of 8,000 being produced from December 1942 until the end of the war.¹

Krupp were called in, as manufacturers of the Pz IV chassis, and the simple expedient of adding the StuG III superstructure to the Pz IV was adopted. An extended box was necessary to accomodate the drivers position on the PzIV hull, but little else needed to be done. Production only started in November 1943, when the Alkett factory suffered severe bomb damage.

Second Cut to Mate Superstructure to Hull

Second Cut to Mate Superstructure to Hull

The StuG IV did not suffer from the nose heaviness of the Jagdpanzer IV, an ostensibly better design on paper that earned the nickname of “Guderian’s Duck”² from its habit of nosediving into anything soft or wet. Roughly equal numbers were produced of each design: 1,141 StuG IVs compared to 1,208 Jagdpanzer IVs.

Add Driver's Armoured Box

Add Driver’s Armoured Box

My conversion was a simple cut-and-shunt of a PSC StuG III top onto a Pz IV hull. The driver’s box came from scrap plastic and card. Nothing much to it really.

With the old 2-part PSC tracks, the method of assembly that works for me is to stick the top half of the track to the idler assembly, then stick it to the tank hull. Once everything is dry, the bottom half goes on fairly easily. Finally the front and back wheels go on.

Doh! - Loaders Hatches Should be Fore and Aft

Doh! – Loaders Hatches Should be Fore and Aft

Full marks to PSC for doing a StuG III rather than a JgdPz IV, and for adding the new one-piece tracks in retrospect to existing boxes of (PzIV) kits. I’ve remarked before on PSC’s generosity of spirit in this respect, after all, the costs of doing it are relatively small.. Now I’m waiting eagerly for the SU-76.

Correctly Assembled StuG IV

Correctly Assembled StuG IV

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_armored_fighting_vehicle_production_during_World_War_II gives total war production of Stug III A-E of 825 and F-G 8,593; of which only 366 were Fs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturmgesch%C3%BCtz_III). Aditionally 1,217 StuH 42s were produced with the 10.5cm Howitzer.
  2. This was rather unfair, as Guderian had opposed their production in the first place – but Hitler liked them, so they went ahead.

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Filed under Artillery, Modelling, tank, Wehrmacht, WWII