Sunday, September 16, 2012

70th Anniversary of 13th Guards Counterattack!

Hey All!
I have not forgot about completing the faces tutorial but I have been working on a few related projects - namely increasing the forces I have available to game Stalingrad-era battles with. The battle of Stalingrad has always been a fovorite subject of mine since I learned about it as a boy. I first read about it on the back of an Airfix or some such playset I received after hours of begging my parents!

I remember too the first scenario in Avalon Hills Squad Leader 'The Guards Counterattack'. I played the hell out of the first 3 scenarios and I think I have been trying to capture the same gaming excitement ever since!

I have begun a 4-vehicle Panzer IIIJ platoon of the 24th Panzer Div. I started by cleaning up the Battlefront casts  - big job -  and planning the customizations. The worst was the cupolas. Lots of filing and sanding!  I also removed the extra resin under the chassis with a belt sander. I then used JB Weld (KWIK) to attach the tracks to the hull. This incredibly strong epoxy product sets up in 15 or less minutes and is highly recommended. Just make sure to get Kwik or it takes overnight to setup!

The BF Panzer III is a pretty poor cast but it is savable. Another problem I have with it is the 7-hole incorrect wheels. I know, I know, I'm a bolt counter but come on, there should be 6 holes evenly spaced and another 6 small holes inter spaced. I could live without the small holes but the big ones, really?!

I added a new gunbarrel, (corrected the BF overly tapered one) tools, hooks, wire cutter handles (the molded ones were missing on all casts?) fender storage boxes, hull MG, Notec and regular headlights (none cast), and screened air intakes. I also detailed the turret stowage box with clamps and etched-in detail. If you are careful, you can scribe the resin and pewter with various details to increase the realism of your minis. 
The stowage rack on the real deck was made from thin brass sheet and filled with various 15mm gizmo's. I added a extra roadwheel to the fender but had to rework it as it was too wide and too tall to allow the turret to turn. It should really trade places with the jacking block...I primed with flat white and cleaned up any surface bubbles and bumps that didn't show up without the prime.  I will post pics of the other three as I complete the work.
I also based up an Assault squad of 13th Guards and detailed up the Molotov with a painted sponge flame. These are really great sculpts! Easy to paint, good face detail and clean lines.
 They have oversized hands and faces (easier to paint) no necks as well as stunted bodies but are very robust and will stand up well to gaming. While not perfect, I prefer these to Forged in Battle or anyone elses currently out there.
 I am planning to paint up another eight teams so have a fair bit of painting ahead! Base style will be similar to the earlier teams I have painted but with a more 'Industrial' edge to them (think factory rubble).
 I went a little blue -er (dark sea blue 898 instead of dark sea green 868) on the PPSH's and like the result but I may mix the two in future.
 I also did up a test stand of Sturmpionere's. While there is a blister of mid-war Pioneres available (GE726 Pioneer Platoon) and there are a few good figures in it, they are an ad hoc assortment with only about half of them usable. I sifted through all of my other Germans and came up with twenty good minis to represent platoon.

I changed out the head of the left chap and added a cloth helmet cover to him and his mate. I removed the pole charge and subbed in a MG34 to the middle figure as he is a good cast but looks out of place with the charge.
 Another good source of Pioneres is the GE884 Oberfeldwebel Schmidt & Assault Troop. They are a good group of action poses armed with PPSH's and lots of grenades. I plan on using a fair bit of the figures sprinkled in the teams.
 Basing will be similar to the Grenadiers I have done except, as in the Russian Guards, there will be some factory junk strewn about.