I have been appallingly slack on updates throughout March, which certainly wasn’t my intention. It isn’t through lack of painting progress however, as I have made steady headway through both contingents of Allied and German forces featured in the Open Fire starter set the past few weeks. So without further ado I think a bit of a catch-up post is long overdue.
Kicking off with the Allied armour, which consisted of six plastic Sherman V and two Firefly VC, I found the assembly to be pretty straight-forward. Although, like many have commented elsewhere, the right hand side isn’t the best fit and does require some adjusting to get it to sit properly with the tracks level. The frames are generously laden with optional stowage including spare track links, road wheels, kit and boxes. Most of these I divided between each of the vehicles, trimming or re-shaping where necessary to get them to fit around turrets or armour sections. All hopefully helps to make each of the tanks in the group look a little more unique.
Once assembled, they were primed black and given an additional zenithal basecoat in grey from directly above. The idea being to give the tank some contrast and pre-defined highlights based on a single light source. The theory being when the green base colour is applied it will be a little lighter on the top-most surfaces where the reflected light would be the strongest, giving a small degree of colour modulation. In reality the Valllejo Brown Violet used is so pigment heavy the effect isn’t really that strong. Once airbrushed with VM Brown-Violet, road wheels, tracks and stowage were also picked out prior to receiving a wash of watered down 50/50 Black + Mud. Edges were then highlighted with a drybrush of the Brown-Violet base colour mixed with a little Beige. That was pretty much all that was needed to get the basics done.
The tracks and spare links I painted German Camo Brown as I’m not a fan of the pure black recommended on the Battlefront site, which just looks a bit too new and ‘out of the factory’. These were then edged and weathered with graphite and earth pigments. Decals were also applied at this stage prior to weathering and once settled in place sealed with matt varnish. I added some limited chipping in Charadon Granite and Dark Flesh at this stage and VM Brown-Violet was also stippled over the decals to help weather them against the paintwork.
In terms of markings I settled on the ‘A’ and ‘B’ squadrons of the Grenadier Guards 2nd Tank Battalion, the senior regiment in the 6th Guards Armoured Division. The ‘B’ squadron shown below as it looked before the mud and weathering was added.
To weather the lower hull and tracks I used a couple of weathering sticks by Tamiya. These I bought a few years back but never really made much use of, so was looking for an excuse to revisit them as a product again. They can be used in a variety of ways depending on the scale of the model or the density of the mud and earth you are shooting for. In this instance I dabbed and stippled the mud effect on using an old medium sized GW dry brush, concentrating on the track links and around the lower hull and track guards. You could also add some to a palette and water it down into a paint, a method I have seen used to good effect also.
As a final stage weathering pigments were then dusted into the tracks and around the hull before a couple of light coats of Testors sealed it all in and homogenized the finish.
Job done and stage one of the Sherman battalion is ready for action.
Sherman VC aka “Firefly”
The final two Allied tanks in the Open Fire set are the two “Firefly” variants. Outfitted with a larger 17-pounder main gun, the Sherman VC saw service late in the war as a more effective anti-tank platform compared with the prolific Sherman V. Ironically, by the time it entered service the heavier German tanks it was designed to counter were becoming increasingly scarce on the ground. The powerful but cumbersome 17-pounder gained a reputation for being more of a hindrance then a help when faced with more frequent soft targets or buildings.
“The Firefly tank is an ordinary Sherman but, in order to accommodate the immense breech of the 17-pounder and to store its massive shells, the co-driver has been eliminated and his little den has been used as storage space. … The flash is so brilliant that both gunner and commander need to blink at the moment of firing. Otherwise they will be blinded for so long that they will not see the shot hit the target. The muzzle flash spurts out so much flame that, after a shot or two, the hedge or undergrowth in front of the tank is likely to start burning. When moving, the gun’s overlap in front or, if traversed, to the side is so long that driver, gunner and commander have to be constantly alert to avoid wrapping the barrel around some apparently distant tree, defenceless lamp-post or inoffensive house” – Source Wikipedia
Painting wise I repeated the same method I used on the previous Sherman V, so nothing new to add here. The addition of the two Firefly variants completes the Allied armour from the boxed set, so it is on to the infantry next and the US Airborne Riflemen.
What, no trees?
I had intended to do the first of my terrain stretch goals next, but realised I was lacking the right size tree armatures for the job; all the ones I had were a bit on the large size. Whilst I rooted around for more appropriate ones in the terrain and woodlands sections of the workshop, I cracked on with both the US Airborne and make a start on the German forces instead. I’ll cover the infantry tomorrow in a separate follow-up post along with details on the Stug ‘G’ platoon. There is the matter of the end of month fund review to get out of the way though first and April’s objectives.
For March I set myself the target of painting all of the Allied forces in the Open Starter set, which I did, along with some trees and the remaining Dreadball MVPs; which I didn’t.
- 6 Sherman V – Achieved
- 2 Sherman VC – Achieved
- 9 US Airborne – Achieved
- Trees – Failed
- 3 Dreadball MVP – Failed
On the upside however, I did also assemble and paint the three German Stug ‘G’ and get all of the Panzergrenadier Company based and textured which were not part of the plan and were in fact April’s target. So it was far from a barren month. More on the German’s in a bit.
Hobby fund wise I invested in a few modelling materials for future Flames activities including some of the excellent AK Interactive weathering products and a selection of German and Allied vehicle decals from Dominic Skelton of Dom’s Decals. Finally, a few more Hobbit releases sourced from Element Games this time rounded the purchases off at a chunky £98.70. Fortunately as I had carried over a pot of £80.43, which was then augmented by the March fund income of £62.22, I was well within budget. The April pot will now include a much reduced carry-over of £43.95
So, the painting was pretty much met, the budget was met, what about the weight? Ok, unsurprisingly after the cold snap and Easter break that wasn’t so great. I actually put back on about 0.6Kg. Not a disaster by any stretch, but not the continual negative figure I was shooting for. I will have to redouble my efforts throughout what’s left of spring (if that’s what it can be called in the UK!).
The Allied force is done and I have already made some advanced headway into the Germans, so with that in mind I am re-formulating April’s goals to have a bit more ambition and include not only the German forces from the Open Fire boxed set, but also a full Fallschirmjäger Company and the terrain stretch goals I promised. In total that will be:
- Stug G Platoon
- Panzergrenadier Company
- Panzergrenadier Ant-Tank Platoon
- Fallschirmjager Company
- Trees, Scatter terrain
If I can get that lot actually painted, I think I will be well on my way to setting up that first introductory game and finally getting to grips with the rules. I’ll be back again tomorrow with the second half on the US Airborne, Stugs and work to date on the Panzergrenadiers and Fallschirmjäger.