Saturday, 15 January 2022

Rapid Fire! Western Desert 1940-43 in 20mm - Ariete Division nearing completion

A number of Ariete units meet at Ras-el-Donnarumma oasis and prepares to defend it. This lot of models is one of the last for the Ariete armored division as this big unit is almost complete, only missing a few trucks and two artillery pieces. The models are Ace, StreletsR, MiniGeneral 3d prints and my own conversions and castings. 

Lets start with my own conversions. The decision of improvising - again - came after checking the Mirliton website. They have everything you need for WW2 Italian figures with beautiful detail and reasonably priced at around 1 euro per figure. The exception being the motorcyclists with each costing almost 10 euros, and two companies are necessary for the Bersaglieri regiment! Some quick maths made realize I would have to spend almost 200 euros for the 16 motorcyclists plus P&P. 

So I grabbed the French motorcyclist I converted from Airfix and converted it again this time into a Bersaglieri. The trousers were carved in order to show the boots, a new Strelets head was pinned to the body and some details were added in the moto for it to look like a Moto Guzzi.

The first to come out made of GreenStuff in a BlueStuff mould. The right arm and the rifle or Breda LMG were added later. 

After moulding the arm and gluing a rifle on the back you have a reasonable Bersaglieri motociclisti. 

The handlebar was also added after casting for a better detail. 

After painting, these Bersaglieri motociclisti became quite close to the original and somehow unique.  

Master Colin mentions one side-car per company in its first Desert supplement (Feb/June 41). I looked a bit everywhere for pictures of  Bersaglieri side-cars and only miniature brands have them which is strange as Bersaglieri side-cars would have caught the photographers attention for sure. What the Bersaglieri of the compagnia moto had were motorcycles for one (monoposto, 28 of them) and two people (biposto, 44 of them) and here might be the cause of the side-car indication. 

The only side-car used in these two companies was again the French one, this time the matrix model directly as I have enough French side-cars already. 

These last 8 MiniGeneral M13-40 concludes the tank regiment which now counts 30 models.

The models have some nasty printing lines specially at the front and turret top which had to be covered with PVA+acrylic paint. Stowage, antennas, sand bags, scratch built MGs and foot steps and CP models from Mark Brown were added to the originals. 

Thin armor but very brave men!

Two Schneider-Ansaldo 105mm guns were also added together with a few FO and command stands. All models are StreletsR. Another group like this is still missing to complete the division. 

Lastly some badly needed Fiat 508 Coloniales from ACE joined the division not before many hours spent gluing tiny pieces and picking many others from the floor. The figures are again Retrokit/Mark Brown models from the Netherlands.

Next: maybe a video on the Ariete division or a few more models for the division if mail allows.  Or some more French 1940, lets see. 

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

1st US Armored Division in Tunisia, 1943, in 20mm size and for RF! rules

The green 1st US Armored Division (the "Old Ironsides") is famous for its action - and losses - around mid February 1943 in Tunisia against the DAK veterans. In time the division will become much better and won´t "charge across the planes" as it was taught to do in exercises, only to be picked by flanking fire and became an important unit in the fighting in Italy until the enemy's surrender. The models are: Tanks- Hasegawa, Matchbox, MiniGeneral, Esci and Airfix; M7s - Matchbox; M3 GMC - Airfix conversions; Dodge HMC - Esci.

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

The Herman Göring LPD, Sicily, 1943, in 20mm size and for RF! rules

One more big unit with most of the vehicles taken from the shelves of other Divisions. Even so the Pz III M, the infantry figures, the Marder IIs, the IG75s and the 150mm howitzers were all built on purpose for this Division.

Monday, 27 December 2021

Rapid Fire! France 1940 in 20mm - The 7th infantry battalion for the DI/DIM


In the main square of the small village of Lucas Hernandez (clearly close to the Spanish border) a French infantry battalion prepares itself for review. 

This is the 7th battalion of infantry for my DI/DIM and the first made of Pegasus figures. The figures are a delight with two Hotchkiss MMGs in each box and with two/three types of rifles distributed among the figures - the more modern MAS 36 and the older Lebel or Berthiers - and two different positions for the FM 24/29 firers, besides officers and rifle grenade launchers. The only problems are the lack of the 60mm and 81mm mortars, of a radio, but that is typical of many figure sets. More on that later. 

Our masters Colin and Richard order us, their humble servants, to place 3 figures in each MMG. So one kneeling and firing figure was converted as the number 3 with new GreenStuff arms in each gun. 

A few more Pegasus kneeling figures went to crew the MiniGeneral 25mm Hotchkiss AT guns together with a few conversions from the Revell WWI set. 

The mortar issue was solved with a few conversions: the figures got new GreenStuff arms, rifles on the back and some plastic tiny parts in the hands to look like mortar shells. The 60mm mortar is scratchbuilt while the 81mm is a Hat Stokes mortar with a few cuts to look like the Brandt. 

The command group got a radio on the back of the figure that looks more loaded. 

One of the infantry companies. The two last battalions of French Infantry will be mostly like this one and then I can call the DI/DIM done. 

Next: probably a video on the Herman Goring LPD in Sicily 1943. 

Saturday, 25 December 2021

Rapid Fire! in 20mm. Filling gaps in WW2 - part 5

No, not  a fan of Christmas. Of course we had the family reunions, the gifts for the younger and older ones and never ending food. Love to be with my people but frankly hate Christmas and I´m always dying for it to pass. One day if the Christmas message extends into the full year with visible results of world wide happiness and all kids have the one toy they want,  maybe I´ll start to like it.  

 Last few days after meetings allowed me to paint these amazing Sdkfz 10 designed by Mário Laranja and printed in resin. Also added were two die-cast German aircraft. 

One of them went to the Blitzkrieg/Barbarossa period to be coupled with a number of the from BPM. Once again one piece vehicles which are a pleasure to paint as they are crammed with detail. 

More fine detail to the rear. 

How hooks, tools, mirrors, etc are made in one piece is for me a mystery but the end result is something great. 

These four are joining the DAK. No specific unit so they can be used by several of them. Most of the figures are PSC heads on top of Milliput torsos. 

Another group was painted with late war colors and crewed with the excellent Simon Soldiers figures winter passengers. 

One more Luppa aircraft came out in 1/72 scale, this time a ME 110 NachtJäger. 

This one is an Altaya model that lived its last few years inside the transparent plastic, an Henschel HS 129. In both aircraft the usual and simple painting of the canopy interior makes it ready for action. 

Next: The 7th infantry battalion for the French 1940 DI/DIM. 

Sunday, 19 December 2021

The Arras counter attack by the Frankforce, France 1940, for Rapid Fire! wargames in 20mm size

Another video on the British in France 1940. On the 21st May, the Frankforce caused a temporary panic in the German 7thPD and forced Rommel itself to direct the AT fire of its men. The slow moving British machines, coupled with very bad infantry-tank cooperation turned the operation into a failure, even if some say it helped saving many of the French and British that retreated to England from Dunkirk. The models are my usual brands; vehicles from MiniGeneral 3d prints, AnyScaleModels, Airfix, Matchbox and S-models, with figures from HAT, Revell, Esci, Zvezda and Emhar with the usual conversions (I've just checked and the correct way to say Arras is Arrass, stressing the final S).

Thursday, 9 December 2021

The British 1st Armoured Division in France 1940 for Rapid Fire! wargames rules in 20mm size

This is a project that took some 5 years to be concluded and it was a kind of childhood wish. The information on the early British units was very scarce and no plastic models of the main brands were made in 1/72 or 1/76 when I was a teenager in the 80ies.
Recently PSC made the A9 and sparked my attention - again - for this period, and the Portuguese 3d print brand MiniGeneral made plenty of models for the Blitzkrieg period. Other models in this video are S-models, HAT, Matchbox, Esci, Lancer, Any Scale Models and Zvezda.
Some corrections: to the end of the video I mention Vickers Machine Guns instead of Lewis in the AA role and the small staff car is not an Austin Seven but and Austin Ruby. Please be free to include others in comments as it will help to improve this big unit.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Rapid Fire! France 1940 in 20mm - British 1st Armoured Division finished and a few extras for other units

During the ill-faited Abbeville offensive, tanks of the British 1st Armoured Division managed to conquer the very small village of Mathieu Valbuena (this one is only for football lovers) and its three houses, one of the few successes of the 27th May. 

Like this the 1st Armoured Division is complete, with all its six tank regiments and support group. From the AT guns only the 2 pdr gun is for this division with the two French Hotchkiss 25mm guns going to the famous Frankforce of Arras fame. 

The last six A13 MKIV are the usual Minigeneral PLA 3d prints. Simple and effective models even if showing its age with plenty of printing lines, something quick to happen in such an evolving technology. 

The last A13 MKI was also added. In Minigeneral models of the A13 the chassis are the most troublesome with very fragile mudguards which had to be rebuilt in most cases. The printing lines,  mainly visible at the front, were disguised with several layers of varnish but at the cost of detail loss. 

Same story for the Vickers MKVI B. Some stowage was placed were the printing lines were more visible. 

All the AT guns are also Minigeneral, two Hotchkiss 25mm and one 2pdr gun. The crew are PSC converted figures from their 6 pdr gun set. One of the beauties of PSC is the lavish number of figures they offer to man their kits with plenty of extras you can use elsewhere. 

All figures got a gas mask bag for them to come back to 1940. Another change were the heads whose helmets had netting all over (not that suitable for 1940) and were replaced by US heads from the HAT WW1 artillery set. 

The seated figure in the 2 pdr is a full HAT figure with disguised puttees and jacket. 

The base was cut to meet the shape of another group of three Zvezda guns of the same type. 

 The printed 25mm guns have the right proportions being longer both in the barrel and legs compared to some metal models from other brands. 

Next: a video on the British 1st Armoured Division in 1940. 

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Rapid Fire! Operation Barbarossa and beyond in 20mm - One more clash at Dubno/Brody


The battle of Dubno/Brody, in nowadays Ukraine, was the biggest tank clash of history with over 4000 tanks battling each other in a triangle between the cities of Dubno, Lutsk and Brody. To represent it in RF! terms you would need 800+ tank models for this short period of summer 41 in the East. It also includes some models that for sure are not the wargamer´s favorites like PzIII short 50mm; T-26, BT-7, etc (not counting a football field to play it all). Even if sometimes I exaggerate I don´t intend to reach those numbers due to the danger of bankruptcy and expulsion from home. Even so I´m around one Soviet Mechanized corps ( a mix of the 8th and 15th) and one full Panzer division for this short period of time without brown camouflage and short guns on tanks (a generic PzIII G/H/J based one, capable also of other campaigns like the Balkans and Greece).  

Two more giant T-35 from S-models were added to the 68th Tank regiment. With four now in the inventory maybe I´ll build another two and settle the issue:  the proposed ten by Master Richard is just too much considering they arrived in very small groups and many broke down. Hmmm... but 10 is tempting!..

Eight more BT-7 were added making a total of 15 enough for 2/3 Tank battalions depending on the unit. All my BT-7 are Mário Laranja´s great 3d resin prints. This company got a camouflage of brown 6K as used by some tanks of the 4th Mechanized corps in Ukraine. 

Again some 4th Mechanized corps painting influence with just a white triangle for air recognition on top of the turret. 

The markings of these two BT-7 came from 39th Tank Division at the battle of Uman. 

This kind of camouflage was taken from the 24th Brigade of Light Tanks, Rostov-on-Don. This camouflage was quite common and I used it also on my BT-5 and consisted of the basic 4BO color with stripes of 6RP and 7K.

The figures on these batch of tanks is Xan Miniatures from Spain. Probably some of the best around. 

A few more Xan Miniatures with the padded helmet. 

Lastly a pair of Self-propelled AA MG 4M-GAZ-AAA (Uffff...) from Minigeneral PLA 3d prints with Revell converted crew with the help of GreenStuff. 

The built is very simple and the result is quite sturdy. The soft plastic figures were glued to several parts of the vehicles for them to have a firm grip. 

The printed plastic had two coats of clear varnish before priming for the printing lines to become insignificant. 

The last batch of Mário Laranja's PzIII H necessary for the (undetermined) 1941 Panzer Division with PSC crews. 

This company commander tank got a turret MG. I'm not sure if this system, the Fliegerbeschussgerät (my goodness, he even knows German...) was used of the late versions of the PZ III short 50mm as all my references are for the late versions of this tank. Even so it looks nice and makes a difference in the lot. 

Next: Probably a video on the French DCR of 1940 or the last few British tanks for the 1st British Armored Division of 1940.