Thursday, 6 August 2020

Rapid Fire! Normandy 1944 in 20mm - The Italian Trucks of 12th Pz SS 'Hitlerjugend'

At the crossroads of La Petite Italie, right in the middle of the Caen sector, a group of Italian trucks from the SS Pz Gren.Reg.25 tries to negotiate the hedgerows in order to hide from the roaming Jabos. All models are MiniGeneral even if originally produced by Fiat. 
The Fiat Dovunque 35 is a beautiful model with very few printing lines and with a total of 12 pieces - not bad for a 3d print model. 
I added a Ben Hur captured trailer from Airfix to one of them just to look cool. 
All these trucks and trailers received gauze camouflage nets and foliage made from two component paste. In fact you can use whatever paste, Milliput, GreenStuff, etc. You just need a drop of superglue, place a blob of paste and attack it with a toothpick, an X-Acto or any other weapon you have around. The paste when in contact with the superglue will create some nice "foliage" effects, get very hard and be part of the model. 

The whole model before painting  The two component paste on these ones are from Pattex which produces a paste with some kind of diluted metal which makes the mixture very hard. 
I'm still not sure of the existence of this particular model, the AS.37, in the ranks of the 12th SS HJ.  Its older brother, the TL.37, for sure was with the HJ as it towed at least some of its 75mm AT guns. My guessing is based on the production numbers with 800 AS.37 produced (against only 200 TL.37) and my hope that some got to the HJ ranks. Against my wish is the fact that the AS.37 was produced for the North African theater and maybe all of them stayed there...
Regarding the AS.37 with the 20mm AA gun this is a true machine as you can see by this very old B/W picture taken in eeer ... June 1944 by the mother of that beautiful lady with melon boobies that I told you in the last post. According to eye witnesses, while taking the picture, she was using an even shorter mini skirt than the daughter as it was June, obviously (if the story of the lady with the melon boobies is successful in terms of audience, I can continue, if not I'll just get back to models which may be better).  Only one was produced and according to my records in the Baukommando Johann Peixotund. This was a very large and secret atelier affiliated to the more famous Baukommando Becker but this time situated in Salazar's country, Portugal. As usual he played on both sides of the war: he let the Allies use the Azorian Lajes base in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and gave Volframium and lots of food to the Germans (while the people starved) ... as well as the thing of the Baukommando Peixotund.
Well, the prevous story was bullshit and this is an imaginary vehicle. Even so it wouldn't be difficult for the Germans to mount its 20mm Flak 38 gun in the rear of the AS.37 as the Italians used to do with the 20mm Breda gun.Jabo view of the imaginary Sd.kfz.569WaffenträgerFlugabwehrkanoneMit20mmKrankenwagenAuf AS.37 (I), also known as the Pipi. 
The figures are a mixture of Esci, Atlantic and Caesar. The trailer is from the venerable Airfix RAF. I imagine that the British left behind some in 1940 and this one is here serving as an ammunition trailer. 
Some parts where the printing lines are still visible were painted with a mix of PVA and Acrylic Paint as you can see in some blueish areas. 

Another view of the finished lot. 
Some nice profiles from Militaria that served as inspiration. 

Next: BEF reinforcements from Anyscale models.

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Rapid Fire! France 1940 in 20mm - French and Belgian counterattack!

At the crossroads of Just Fontaine a group of French Renault R35 with the longer 37mm gun are led by a sole AMC 35. Once again the " Corridor des Panzer" will be cut and the Germans sent back from were they should have never left!  But wait! Some Belgian aid is coming from the north in the form of all available AMC 35 of this army (well, they were only 10, so 2 in RF! terms). Whether French or Belgian they were all produced in Alentejo, Portugal, under MiniGeneral brand of 3D prints, with license from Renault, of course. 

These are my first R-39, one of the names of the R-35 with longer gun (the SA38). Some units of these infantry tanks were lucky and received one per platoon. As they were given to the Co of the platoon all models got a copy of the Skytrex tank commander. The model is very clean and the printing lines are almost invisible. Even so I use the PVA+Old Acrylic Paint to fill the areas were the lines can be more problematic.

The Belgian AMC-35 were the only decent tank of the Belgian arsenal. Even so the Belgian called it an Armoured car not to provoke Hitler, as if he needed to be provoked.  With a turret for two men, an a decent 47mm gun this tank was betrayed by mechnical problems and a thin 25mm armour plate at the front. 

Now for some plastic knowledge. Who recognize the converted Belgian tank commander, hem? 
- You sir, yes the one with the big belly and bottom bottle glasses ( in fact this remark fits most of us)...
- Hmmm, I think its a Matchbox German ...
- Wrong, sir! Now you sir. Yes, you with the salient teeth and bottom bottle glasses (obviously).
- Airfix German 1st edition?
-Wrong again. You, beautiful lady with the mini skirt and melon shaped boobies...
- I think its the Airfix Traffic policeman from the civilian set of 1961...
- Amazing, you won! And here is the proof, second from the left!Congratulations!!!

With the help of a bit of GreenStuff for the glasses and new shaped collar you get a nice Belgian tanker but you will loose a very rare policeman. 

And this is the AMC 35 of the brigadier-chef Poplimont of the Audigier squadron. This is  the last one I needed for this squadron as I already have two from Skytrex,  In spite of having its tank destroyed, Poplimont and its two other crewmen, Vernazza and Bouvier, managed to escape. They are some of the survivors of the massacre of the Audigier squadron on the 8th of june while valiantly attacking, without proper reconnaissance, the Germans at Mont-de-Soissons. 

Next: The Italian Trucks for the Normandy SS, finally. 

Monday, 27 July 2020

Rapid Fire! France 1940 in 20mm - Scammell SV1 for the British

Two Scammel SV1 are called to the disastrous battlefield of Huppy not far from the Village of Cantona, a funny little place in Northern France were a small community of English people from Leeds and Manchester still lives. 

The Scammel SV1 was one of the main recovery vehicles used by the British in France 1940, together with the FWD R6T (AEC 860). A little bit more than 40 SV1 were built and many were lost in France. There are a few pictures of the SV1 in Europe in German hands but no Scammel SV2 which indicates that this last one was not sent to France (several were captured by the DAK in North Afrika though). That caused me a problem as I have the 1st Armoured Division close to an end and the 1st Army Tank Brigade finished and still no recovery vehicles for the RAOC. I dont know any model of the R6T and the 20mm size models of the Recovery Scammel that I know of are SV2s (Milicast and IBG). As I had two spare Airfix Scammel tank transporters I decided to make my usual conversions to get the BEF/1st Armoured Division Scammel SV1. 

After looking for the scarce information on the web about this vehicle I was pleased to have a number of nice photos of the Scammel SV1 sent by other modellers and wargamers. 

The crane is different from the one in the later SV2 and everything above the 2nd and 3rd set of wheels had to be made from scratch as well as some new details at the front.

 When I arrived at this point I was quite happy with the result: The Airfix model is not the easiest build but in a few hours I managed to put together the two vehicles leaving behind the ramps of the original models. This is the problem of "a few hours" because disaster unfolded at this stage: My Elves (as Thompson ArmyBiscuits calls them) warned me that the rear part of the cabin of the Scammel Tank Transporter doesn't exist in the SV versions. F***** I thought (its not "Fuck", its "Foda-se", which is the same in Portuguese)!  I needed a recovery vehicle to recover these two!

So no images of the process of converting a conversion (as they would be easily censored) but just the final product. The way to detach the third part of the cabin involved a soldering iron and lots of X-Acto cuts, broken parts and re-gluing. In the end the ugly scars were covered with stowage and they became reasonably accurate models . 

The painting was my usual two tones of green and lots of doubts as the number 2 in the arm of service is just a supposition as well as the 10 for the bridge classification. 

So now each one of them will go to the RAOC detachment of both 2nd and 3rd armoured brigades of the 1st Armoured Division. If I follow History they will have plenty of work to do!

A few parts of the interior are probably not correct. This is a tall vehicle and not easy to photograph in its cargo part. Besides most of the existing photos are the ones in German hands already with some parts changed. 
A big Thank You to Sally Gardner, Ken Hanning and Richard Baber for all the precious information. 

Next: still WW2 for sure. 

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Rapid Fire! France 1940 in 20mm - Air duel in the Drôle de Guerre

On the 21st of September 1939 the Morane Saulnier 406 of sub-lieutenant Marius Baizé engages with the Messerschmitt Bf 109 over the skies of Lorraine. As this is a true story I didn't make up any stupid name for where this event really happened. 


The ME-109 E-3 was one of the best fighters in the world by then, together with the Spitfire. Well armed and fast, the ME-199 of the experient Erich Mix (I./JG 53) destroys 3 MS 406 on the 21st of September  over Sarreguemines and 4 others on the 22nd November, over  Saarbrücken. 

This is a text from Wikipedia about Erich Mix, a surprising and dangerous one and a bit the reflex of the world we are living today: 

 "In his first term as mayor of Wiesbaden, most of the Jewish community of Wiesbaden, some 2,700 people in 1933, were murdered and their synagogues were burned, under Mix's leadership. However, he was again elected mayor in 1954, and he is buried in the honorary section of the Wiesbaden graveyard."

The model is a converted KP Avia S-199. The camouflage breaks with the Dark Green// Green pattern used in Poland introducing some grey in the top fuselage. 


The MS 406 alone are credited with 187 kills from the 3rd of September 1939 up to 25th June 1940 even if it was outclassed by the ME 109. This particular plane is of Marius Baizé (I/3 Fighter Group), the first French pilot KIA after having its plane shot down by Erich Mix on the 21st September 1939. Marius Baizé bailed out too late with his parachute on fire and fell into a river.  

The model is Hasegawa. 

Next: Recovery Scammels for the 1st AD in France 1940.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Rapid Fire! Normandy 1944 in 20mm - Wurframmen SP time

The Wurframmen of the 2nd PD and PzAbt 205 prepare to unleash a Rocket volley that will - finally, and at the 99th atempt- send the allies back to England from vere zei should never have come!
After showing you my prowesses in the German language lets get back to models!  

I already  have finished some six Esci Nebelwerfers and a few conversions of static Nebelwerfers for Omaha but these ones offer the possibility of having them on tracks. I had these two Skytrex Renault UE Wurframmen for many years and it was about time to be done with them. The Germans converted some 40 of them, 20 each of these two types, and the allies faced them in Normandy. 

Both types, rear and side Wurframmen, got a big Altaya base for aircraft as I wanted to portray them with crew around. These came from the Esci Nebelwerfer and so are particularly fit for the job. The uniforms are Heer while the wheeled Nebelwerfers crews I showed you in the Mortain series are in the SS garments of the 17th PzGrenDiv. 

The last one is the famous Stuka Zu Fuss in an all Esci stand, both vehicled and crew. coming from different boxes.  The Sdkfz 251 Stuka Zu Fuss in Normandy is a relatively recent finding and it was aparently used at least by the Pionner battalion 38 of the 2nd PD as a picture of a destroyed and abandoned one in Falaise shows. 

Sometimes I wonder how efective the German 43-45 vehicle camouflage was. I don't know if its the effect of my kind of ground painting but the German vehicles really blend, at least seen from above, one of the main aims of camouflage. 

Next: some WW2 aircraft, 12th SS transport or something else like a return to moderns. 

Monday, 20 July 2020

Rapid Fire! France 1940 in 20mm - Renault ADH for friend and foe

First, and once more, let me ask you forgiveness for showing the Swastika which is here simply and obviously for historical and accuracy reasons. 

 Decades ago my main concern was to have tanks! Lots of them! Like this I could win most of my (imaginary) wargames. With time, and also the evolution of the hobby, these kind of radio vans became prime targets after hordes of Tigers, T-34, Shermans, etc having filled my shelves. 

So two more Renault ADH from Shellhole Scenics arrived to the French. As I already have another one from Wespe one of these new radio vans became a Beute German vehicle. 

The models are simple and beautifully engineered with a main body in resin and details in metal and brass. 

The French Renault ADH had a camouflage inspired by a picture on the GBM magazine. 

One of the models had an inflated roof due to a casting problem. This became the German Beute as it was easier to desguise the issue with some extras the Germans used to carry. Also the front antenna holder had to be cut little bit as the bump would make uneven the two antenna holders. 

In fact solving the problem was easy with some extra folded camouflage net and some foliage. The model was painted as belonging to the Recce battalion of the 79 ID in Soviet Union, late 1941. 

Next: Werfer SP artillery

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Rapid Fire! Eastern Front in 20mm - The Ferdinands of the sPzJgAbt. 653 at Kursk

It's July and in the last few days this unit was made to back up German efforts at Kursk. The sPzJgAbt. 653, half of the bigger sPzJgRegiment 656, crashes through the first line of Soviet defences at Veselyi Berezhoi being used as the spearhead of the German assault. The way the Ferdinands were used is considered a big mistake of General Model as they were used like rams and not as long range distance guns were ist powerful 88m guns could knock almost everything behind its 200m frontal armour. Even so the Regiment (two battalions with a total of 89 Sdkfz 184 Ferdinands) is credited with the destruction of 500 Soviet tanks even if loosing half of their own machines in the process. 

The SPzJgAbt.653 had big colourful squares painted at the back of their Ferdinands to identify the different platoons inside the three companies. I just used the most colourful of them for effect. 

All seven Ferdinands are three Esci kits, one Fujimi kit and three repainted Altaya die-casts. The Fujimi kit (number 121), in fact an Elefant model, is very close to the size of the Esci model even if the box says"1/76th scale" with only two millimiters difference in lenght.

The command tank of Hauptmann Spielmann is inspired on a photo from the parent 654 battalion. I chose this scheme because of its striking difference in relation to all other simpler schemes. 

The Esci model is a mix of the initial Ferdinand and the later Elefant. The Esci model carries the round Elefant´s commander cuppola, the same from the Stug III, and not the initial square one used at Kursk. I tried to solve the issue with foliage made of two component paste around that place. The MG of the later Elefant was also left out. The Esci kit also doesn´t carry the driver´s periscope, lçike the Fredinand didn't...Well, as you can see we have a typical kit of the 80s´, trying to please everybody!

 Even so its a very nice and detailed model and I remember the pleasure of seeing them for the first time many years ago when I was around 12 in the long gone Joaninha toy shop in my local home town, Coimbra. And as they were slow machines they are still here! 😛

Now the Altaya die-casts. They are true late Elefants. Fortunately the extra frontal armour with the Mg port can be easily detached making it closer to the Ferdinand. Then some foliage was placed in the commander´s cuppola and also in the driver's periscope, another late addition to the Elefant's model, when the Sdkfz 184 were taken to be refurbished after Kursk. 

These Tank Hunter battalions worked together with a swarm of Borgward BIV and StugIII. As I don't have yet any Borgward I used the Revell's Goliath and a Sdkfz 304 Springer. In reality the Springer only showed up in the last few months of the war but its a nice little model from AMBN (All Models Brand New) that was collecting dust for years. 

Next: Scammels for the 1st AD 1940 or Italian trucks for the 12th PzSS in Normandy.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Rapid Fire! France 1940 in 20mm - Motorcycle sidecars for the BEF

The British GHQ ordered a strong reconnaissance patrol, consisting of a full Motorcycle Battalion and two squadrons of Mark VI light tanks, to check the German occupied twin villages of Marine-Le-Pen and Jean-Marie-Le-Pen which stargely fell into Nazi hands quiet easily. But please don´t get mistaken, the place that the British are passing by is the village of Fabien Barthez, still in British "hands"... if you enjoy football you will know what I mean.

I really tried to find information to make the 1QVR for the 1st Armoured Division. In the end, and mostly thanks to the Rapid Fire! FB groups, I arrived to the conclusion that the 1QVR didn't even carried ist Nortons to France and after arriving at Calais used, most probably, French trucks to move around. So these guys became - obviously- the 4th Northumberland Fusilier Motorcycle Battalion with Arras in the horizon. 

The Motorcycles with sidecar are SHQ and the solo are Fujimi conversions. The Mark VI are MiniGeral 3d prints. 

The SHQ Norton combos together with three solo motorcycles makes the three companies necessary for a full Motorcycle battalion. The SHQ models are pretty good and far better than their own French combos. 

One of the combos got a Boys AT rifle. Not sure if the Norton combos carried one but these guys need some anti armour protection.

Half of them got a Bren LMG...


...and the leftovers had no Bren or Boys as issued to the motorcycle combo units. In all rear seated soldier I glued a plastic rifle for them not to look like they are on an excursion. 

The solo motorcycles are originally Harley Davidsons from Fujimi. The original motorcycle was deprived of a number of details and received a new headlamp. The figure had its head cut off, replaced by an Airfix one and got a new backpack and rifle. The motorcyclists also got their British ammunition pouches and gas mask bag made of GreenStuff. 

Finally the four Mark VI LT from MiniGeneral. The prints of MiniGeneral are getting better and better and Pedro Pato managed to clean much of the excess plastic mainly in the tracks of his models. Some annoying lines are still visible but you can erase them with 50% PVA glue +50% of your oldest and almost dried out acrylic paint aplied directly on those lines. 

Next: 12th SS Panzer Italian transport; a Ferdinand Battalion fort Kursk or a visit to my very old Home-Made card soldiers.