From Tet to Tobruk

It was a short working week last week with the Bank Holiday, which meant a little more hobby time than I’d normally be able to cram in. As a result something of an eclectic mix traded places on the painting station as I worked through some of the loot from Salute 2015 and cracked on with Imperial Assault for the ongoing campaign. The latter I’ll come back to later. For this post however an old favourite is making a return in Flames of War with not one but three new forces spread over two conflicts.

If you followed any of my occasional posts about my late war Germans, you’ll know I collected probably way too much ending up with three force lists effectively for SS Panzer, Grenadier and Fallschirmjäger. This time around I’m being a lot more reserved in putting together a single force based on the Australian Rifle Company list for North Afrika. As Kevin has already made a good start on his DAK forces I figure I need to get a wiggle on and at least start assembling the infantry platoons. With a mandatory selection of three rifle platoons and a Company HQ there’s a lot of infantry to prep and base, even assuming I go with smaller two-squad platoons. The Australian list doesn’t include much in the way of armoured support, so I additionally pulled in a small platoon of M3 “Honey” Stuarts which Kev kindly gave me as a Xmas present. A troop of four (yet to be purchased) 25pdr artillery will provide the punch and for the anti-tank I’m thinking 6pdr Portees. Being used to the hefty cost of fielding elite Axis armour I’m finding the light tanks of the British remarkably cheap barely spending over a thousand points so far. It’s certainly going to cost Kev to put those Tigers in the field.

 

The Stuarts are pretty much done and are quite heavily weathered in terms of dust and chipping. The first of the Rifle Platoons was also based and primed ready to hit the workbench last weekend and is pretty much wrapped up bar a few extra clumps of dried grasses.

If the title didn’t give it away, the other conflict I’m getting into for the first time is Vietnam. It’s fairly well known I’m really into the whole Air Cav list for the US  and have been itching to paint up a force built around the iconic Bell Huey for some time now. Salute proved the tipping point having spoken with a few fellow Flames gamers on the Friday night resulting in a Huey “Hog” getting added to the contents of the loot bag purely as a painting exercise to see how I get on with the aircraft. As a separate tester I also picked up a local forces anti-air company to provide a little painting contrast.

The Vietcong are an uncomplicated but fun painting project consisting in the main of high contrast dark clothing with beige or Khaki webbing and hats. With such a limited palette, spot colours like the occasional red neckerchief or Nationalist flag really pop!

The Huey ‘Hog’ was by contrast a total pig to put together (pardon the pun). One of Battlefront’s hybrid kits the main body and tail are resin, with all of the other detail excluding the rotor sections being in metal. The rotors are a superb design in plastic and magnetising them was a nice touch. Unfortunately the casting quality of the resin fuselage and metal parts was seriously poor and required a huge amount of sanding, filling and other corrective work. That being said, once the kit’s all together and on the flight stand it looks great.

At this stage it’s only had the base colour airbrushed over a white primer with black pre-shading. The base colour was Green Violet and was applied in two light coats. This was then highlighted through adding Khaki Grey to create a different tone on the bigger panels and upper surfaces. I painted the rotor tips in GW Yellow before painting the rest of the rotors black. It’s easier to do it in that order as the yellow will appear more intense over a white background and the black can be used to sharpen up the final boundary. Whilst I had black on the go I also painted the top half of the nose.

Other than a quick re-base of dark grey for the ammo feeds and rocket pods that’s where I finished for the night. The next step will be to paint the cockpit glass and add all of the detailing before I varnish and add the decals.

Satisfied with how these are turning out I’ve gone ahead and ordered a few more to keep things rolling along. For the US that takes the form of the mandatory Scout HQ of Loach’s, a Cobra to complete the mandatory weapons squadron and the first of what will be a number of Huey ‘Slicks’. Considering the ubiquitous Huey is a mandatory requirement for the Air Cav list it’s surprisingly hard to source in any decent number. Maybe there aren’t enough UK players? I’ve been reliably advised I need a minimum of five ‘Slicks’ for the Air Cav as they get the option to loiter on the table as gunships making good use of the door gunner to support the guys on the ground. In a quirky reverse of the Australian Rifle Company the US Air Cav list for Vietnam is all about the vehicles with ‘Blue Team’ Infantry numbers being pretty modest. As such, the squads will be probably be the very last thing I’ll purchase once all of the aircraft are done.

The PAVN by way of complete contrast are an almost overwhelming number of infantry squads, the Local Forces in particular a somewhat ‘weighty’ box of figures. One the upside three boxes (one Battalion HQ and two Local Forces Company boxes) pretty much gives me everything I need to get get things going for the Vietcong. Enough to keep me busy then!

Until next time, have a great weekend.

Carl


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