Friday, June 29, 2018

1967 vs 1973: So What To Field...

Over the previous weekend I spotted a few people asking about which models or units they should field, assuming they were planning on building a force based on either a specific battle, or for a '67 game vs a '73 game. I was tempted to start putting together a list based on a combination of my general knowledge and a little extra reading. Luckily for me Michael McSwiney, one of the writers of the updated edition had been thinking the same thing and started work on his own version.

From a rules perspective these in service dates are strictly optional and based on what I currently have painted at the moment I won't be getting too carried away with them as I'd rather keep working on the models for now rather than restricting my gaming options. However they do provide a great resource if you are looking to build a new army with some specific plans in mind.

The links:
Miniature Ordnance Review (Michael's blog)...
Israeli Forces...
Jordanian Forces...
Egyptian Forces...
Syrian Forces...

Time to start planning on what to paint next.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Road To Panzerschreck (2016) The Marines Hit Early War

Originally this article was posted on the Flames Of War website back in 2016...

Next month is the annual Studio trip to Panzerschreck with the team jumping in a van and having an epic road trip / lads weekend away. This year I was planning on having a relaxed weekend and heading down to play some Team Yankee games with Evan. Thanks to a last-minute change of plans for Phil (James’ partner in crime for the event) I found myself subbed in to join up with James’ British Armoured Regiment.

No doubt you are all aware of the famous battle somewhere in North Africa where a small Marine Expeditionary Force briefly found themselves siding with a Vickers Mk IV light tank company…

Originally I was in two minds about what to take as I have a French Early War army that I really enjoy playing and need an excuse to finish painting up some Lorraine 38L Carriers. At the same time I have been plugging away with a US Marine Amphibian tank company for Gung-Ho and I saw this as an opportunity to push the army back to the front of the painting queue. After a couple of minutes thought the Marines (easily) found themselves promoted as it is hard to not go with something shiny and new, even if I do have to do a lot more painting to get it ready. Working out an army list that looked achievable on the painting front and fun to play I settled on: 

The core of the force is obviously the LVTs with 10 of them crawling across the table, hopefully shooting up everything in front of them. This should pair nicely with James’ Light Mk IV tanks which will be light enough to respond to any threats as well as threatening enemy objectives. If I am being honest the AA and Rockets are really there to get me to four platoons, but it will also give us some decent AA coverage (as James’ also has some Bofors guns) and rockets capable of thinning out the enemy ranks of infantry.

After the experiment with the dark sand (in the previous article) I decided to go back to pain grey vehicles and to make them look a little more interesting I decided to put beach markings on the sides of the hull (the two red vertical stripes you can see in the photos). These were to help the LVTs stick together and get to the correct landing zone – in this case Red Beach 2 during the Battle of Saipan. The theory being that you just followed the vehicles with the same markings as you. 

Next I chose to go to town on the decals and whilst I was inspired by historical markings here I chose to go a bit overboard to help them pop on the battlefield. I chose tank numbers from a spare NVA T-55 decal sheet I had, as well as US stars, serial numbers and names from the US Late War Decal Sheet (US941) I think these really help to make the models look interesting on the table.
As you can see from the pictures below I still have a way to go to finish the army up but with a couple of weeks to go I think I am in good shape.  

The HQ Platoon
I've only painted the 75mm turrets for my HQ, but I plan to paint up the 37mm ones later to make sure I can swap these around easily.  

LVT(A)4 (75mm) Platoon
Other than a targeted wash, these just need their crew painted and machine-guns highlighted.

Above: Most of the army are still waiting for a shading pin wash, so they are currently shiny with gloss varnish. I've used the number '13' 75mm tank to test the oil wash, and I'm happy with the finished result.

LVT(A)1 (37mm) Platoon
These are currently missing the machine-gun turrets, which will make them look a little more dynamic thanks to the crew sitting inside operating them.

Below: To do the red markings on the side of the hulls I made a mask using some low-tack hobby masking tape, then carefully attached it to a model, airbrushed the red and carefully removed it again. Rinse and repeat 32 times as I decided to do the markings on all my LVTs and not just the ones for Panzerschreck to keep everything consistent.

Hopefully this gives you some inspiration for painting your own LVTs.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

"Israel vs Syria: Fighting For The Golan", A Series Introduction

This weekend will see the release of Fate Of A Nation, this time brought up to Team Yankee standard and with the inclusion of the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

Bringing the Arab-Israeli Wars (AIW) in to Flames Of War was something of an obsession for me and I can happily take some of the credit for the initial inclusion after relentlessly and repeatedly reminding people that after the success of our Vietnam releases, AIW would be a great place to turn next. After all it was a period that many gamers recognise, it featured the worlds superpowers fighting over proxy battlefields, and when it came down to it, it was about tanks duelling it out. Perfect for a Flames Of War conversion!

I've tried to pin down the root cause of my obsession or passion and I have no solid idea as to why. I have no recollection of the actual events, both wars happened shortly before my birth and the global impact never really affected me (that I remember). I do recall reading a series of magazines called "War in Peace" and being struck by the destruction of so many tanks as the Syrians pushed across the Israeli built anti-tank ditch in the Valley of Tears.

I am sure that reading about the efforts of a relatively small number of tank crews fighting against overwhelming odds would have left quite the impression on a budding wargamer. The greater history of the conflict no doubt partially lost on me at the time.

Once we received the initial go-ahead to write the very first version of Fate Of A Nation (obviously the name as stuck through multiple printings and revisions) we began to review what was actually required from a workflow perspective. We knew that it was going to be a big job, but so great was the passion to complete it that a number of us volunteered to paint the armies required for the initial photography. Casey stepped forward to paint the Egyptians (closest thing to the Soviets at the time), Evan took on the job of painting the Jordanian armour, whilst Victor took care of the infantry and guns, whilst I charged forward to do the majority of Israelis. Being involved in this original project was certainly one of my favourite experiences of my time at Battlefront.

Jumping forward 4 years and we found ourselves in a similar situation with a new version of Fate Of A Nation being put together, this time with much of the initial writing and editing being completed by Scott Elaurant and Michael McSwiney (two long time contributors to the Flames Of War community). Once again, we needed to add to the range of models. Luckily Aaron (our inhouse painter) had taken care of the vast majority of new releases since the original book and was on deck to take care of the extra items now for the Israelis and Egyptians, however painting enough Syrian models was a problem. It probably comes as no surprise then that I happily volunteered to start building a Syrian force - I say start as it still needs a lot of work to finish...

Over the coming weeks (or months) I thought I might spend some time taking a look at the Israeli and Syrian forces, then look at what I have painted and how it compares to some of the lists I have been dreaming up, and then review what I need to do to complete both armies. The jury is still out as to how much actual progress I will make as I have a few competing priorities on the go, not to mention some future Battlefront projects have been taking my fancy, but I am sure that I'll have something to share.

Stay tuned...

Friday, June 22, 2018

First Featured On?

Over the past couple of years I've been writing a lot (by my standards anyway) of content that has ended up on the Flames Of War or Team Yankee websites that in the past would (if I got around to it) have ended up here. A couple of weeks ago I was browsing the blog trying to find a post about an army and couldn't find it. A quick Google search and I found it sitting on Flames Of War. I wasn't annoyed as such, but I was disappointed in myself that it wasn't here too. 

Since then I've been making an effort to transfer these articles over to my blog. To help differentiate these older articles from anything else I've been adding these images (above) at the end of the post, as well as putting the tag of "First Featured On".

With a bit of luck I might even add some completely new content here first as well.... stay tuned.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Building a Marine Amphibian Tank Company

I’ve made no secret of my excitement about the Marine Amphibian Tank Company. And with Andrew making so much progress on his Ka-Mi tanks I thought I’d better get my act together and push ahead with my painting.

Luckily the LVTs are a breeze to assemble. With the hull and tracks being one piece, you are just gluing together the turrets and adding the optional hull machine-gun. A fairly relaxed afternoon saw them all assembled and undercoated.

The next problem was choosing what paint scheme I preferred. There are plenty of options and in the coming weeks I’ll have a short article talking about the most common options to choose from but in the end it came down to a grey or grey/sand scheme (like the Studio models) or a green/brown/sand scheme. The three colour scheme was just too similar to European paint schemes and nothing says the Pacific to me like tanks base coloured in grey!

Using my airbrush, I started by painting a light coat of grey over the whole model. This was to lay down a base colour for me to start highlighting up. I then applied a little more paint in certain areas such as the middle of large panels, the top surfaces, and anywhere else that I wanted a slightly lighter colour. Working over a black undercoat, I was able to use the grey as its own highlight by slightly varying the density of the paint coverage.

I decided that the grey alone was a little boring, so I thought I would try adding the common sand-coloured camouflage pattern to give the models a little more impact on the table. I also thought that the extra colour would mean that I did not have to do as much work to make the grey look good. So the next step was to cover the model in blu-tac.

In my paint collection at home, I didn’t have the Colours Of War Dry Dust or Crusader Sand that Aaron used when painting the studio models. So I improvised by grabbing a dark sand colour that I already had and sprayed it on. The blu-tac worked as planned, leaving me with nice hard edges between the grey and sand but I was not particularly happy with the colour as the studio models just looked better.

Looking at the images now as I write the article I find myself in two minds:
  • I quite like the plain grey, and it is a valid historical paint scheme, so I could just stick with that approach (saving me some painting time!);
  • Or I could “borrow” the studio paints for an evening and go with the grey/sand scheme.
I think will mull this over a little more and in the next few days make a final decision – the more I think about it, the longer it will take to finish them and get an army on the table.