Friday, 31 March 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm 1944 US Armoured Division - 2nd Tank Battalion (75mm Shermans from Armourfast )

Another Sherman battalion moves to the front line with the Co observing the movements behind the protection of a hedgerow.

This battalion is made mostly out of Armoufast M4 and M4A3 tanks with two ESCI M4A3.

Armourfast made history when in 2002 and for the first time in the hobby you could have two tanks in a box for the price of one. Each of my Medium Tank battalion has 10 Sherman 75mm (1 for the Co and 9 for the three companies), 1 Sherman 105mm How, 3 M3 lights and 1 HT M4 mortar 81mm (total 15 vehicles)

Clearly designed for wargaming Armourfast produces very good quality models which are getting better and better, easy to build and accurate. For instance their Cromwell owes very little to Revell's in term of the final appearence. On the down side they don't have figures, you only have one variant in the box, and the first models they produced didn't bring cartridge boxes on the MG's and such details that you can find nowadays in more recent enterprises like PSC. 
No big deal though as the missing details can easily be made or added like imported figures from other brands, home made stowage, sand bags, extra armour plates on the vision slots (for enemy shells not to be trapped and on the case of M4's)  and hull sides (to protect ammo) and Evergreen cartridge boxes for the turret Brownings.

The Co of the battalion mounts a M4A3 and has two figures as usual, one metal Skytrex and another plastic Hasegawa. The americans usually had their white stars removed for obvious - aiming- reasons.

The light company is once again made of Hasegawa M3 models. The one in the front is heavily covered in foliage in order no one notices that it should be an M5...

The M4 81mm mortar HT is Hasegawa again with SHQ crew.

The M4 105mm howitzer is a standard Armourfast with a Fujimi mantlet and barrel.

For most of my Sherman small conversions and added parts I use as reference the excellent Squadron/signal no16 Sherman in action.

Next: the Armoured infantry battalions. 

Friday, 17 March 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm 1944 US Armoured Division - 'Gods of War' (in Stalin's words) are coming.

A battalion of M7 SPG are ready to support the general advance, I mean of course the general advance started a few weeks ago with this series of posts.

They are Matchbox kits with a sole Fujimi M7B1.

Side by side the two M7 of an SPG battery with OP jeep. The nearer is a Fujimi more modern M7B1 with side rollers and Mg bigger pulpit..

Even heavier here comes a battalion of M12 155mm SPG's. On the left you have two models from Fujimi and to the right an Altaya model.

I extended the rear base of the M12's as the crew operated mostly there. Here a crew of Irregular Miniatures...

...and here the crew is converted Atlantic plastics.

The Fujimi version of the M30 Ammo supplier for the M12's.

Help from the Corps: Long Tom's and tows from Hasegawa with an Altaya version of the lot arriving.

Old plastic conversions were used for the artillerymen.

Next: Recce.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm 1944 US Armoured Division - 1st Tank Battalion (75mm Shermans from ESCİ)

A M4 Sherman battalion joins the general advance of its Armoured Division started last week with the TD battalion.

I made this battalion around six nice Esci M4A1 I had for years. After building them I just added a few more Sherman from Airfix, Frontline Wargaming and Altaya, three Stuarts and a 81mm HT from Hasegawa to fill the unit. All medium tanks are 75mm gun equipped as I have other units armed with 76mm guns but as these last ones only arrived to the Normandy front in middle July they remain separated in the shelves. 76mm Shermans started to be included slowly from July 44 on and ended being the majority in many units only by the end of the war.

I still need to find some recovery vehicles. Probably I will use the hull of the Lee/Grant from Airfix or Hasegawa.

The Esci Shermans had their side skirts removed and plates of armour were glued to the sides for the protection of the ammunition (Plastic EverGreen  of course). Then the usual different figures and stowage were also used.

The closer Sherman is the old and useful one from Airfix with extra crew, side armour and Browning HMG. Most of the US armoured battalions were receiving other Sherman models as replacements. This one still sports the old M1 mantlet. The Shermans to the back (M4A1 and M4A3) are both Frontline Wargaming with the usual add-ons.

Somewhere I read that the Esci model of the M4A1 had some flaws particularly in the rear part. Fortunately the US tank crews had plenty of stowage attached to the rear and whatever flaws there were they now remain well hidden. Most of the stowage I use is my own plastic EverGreen boxes and bedrolls and backpacks are made out of plummer's two component paste and GreenStuff.

The Command Sherman (Esci again) with plenty of crew to be easily recognized on the table... sorry, shelve, and with Fujimi armour on the turret. The M4 Half Track with 81mm mortar is Hasegawa and the Sherman 105mm is an Altaya Die-cast.

This one with a too big turret is Fujimi. It has a hull close to 1/76th scale and a much bigger turret. With such a big head it will go to college for sure !!!

The last two pictures are pure nostalgia from the times the M5 were non existant in plastic and very expensive in resin. Many years ago I 'curved' the square lines of a few Hasegawa Stuarts with Milliput and changed the place of headlights and such for them to look like the later M5. This one also has a scratchbuilt Cullin Hedgerow device. Pretty hugly things but remind me when I was young...

Then some pieces of home made bush to hide the flaws and here they are after probably some 30 years of faithful service trying to kick Jerry out of Normandy!

Next: artillery.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm 1944 US Armoured Division - Tank Destroyer battalion.

With this post I'll start to show you my 1944 US Armored Division. In fact the idea is to have enough units to represent any of the big types of US units in the Western front, the Light Tank Division, the Heavy Tank Division and even the Infantry Division from the Normandy landings up to Germany 1945. Then I also wanted to be able to compose several of the usual Regimental Combat Teams (around infantry units) or the Armored Combat Command (around tank units). So no specific unit in mind when building US units but the aim is to gather enough units to be able to represent any of them.

Somewhere in Normandy a M10 Wolverine Tank Destroyer Battalion leaves the protection of the woods and advances to meet the enemy.

I made the battalion with three companies each of two M10 and one M8 Greyhound and one MG armed Jeep. The command of the battalion only has an M20. This organization presents problems as the total number of M10 was 36 per battalion (12 per company) so the number of models in the battalion should be 7-8 instead of 6. The problem is obviously to divide 7-8 by three cope with this and to compensate the lack of punch I placed one M8 Greyhound with its 'Tiger destroyer' puny 37mm gun in each company when in reality there were only two per company.

The models are Armourfast for the M10, Italeri for the M8 and Hasegawa and Airfix for the Jeeps.

The crews of the M10 are Irregular Miniatures; the M8 have Skytrex and Hasegawa crew and the Jeep's crew are also Hasegawa with Airfix drivers.

The M10 of Armourfast is an accurate but simple model. So place plenty of stowage, antennae, crew and don't forget the ammo box for the 12,7mm 50 cal Browning MG. Eventualy I fitted some of them with a smaller 7,62mm 30 cal Browning.

Lastly the command M20 Scout Car from Altaya with IM crew.
Next: the first Armored Battalion.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm Ardennes 1944 specials

Another quick post of lately done models. These are all american stuff mainly for late 1944, specially Ardennes campaign.

The 90mm AA gun is necessary for the Stoumont scenario of Rapid Fire!Battle of the Bulge. Once again I  prefer to scratchbuilt it as only one is necessary and it gets cheaper this way. If you want the true model you have SHQ for instance.

All parts are EverGreen plastics. Only the wheels come from something German I had around, maybe old 88mm wheels.  Crew is Hasegawa and Revell hard and soft plastics. The M5 vehicle tow is Hasegawa.

These Jumbos started as normal M4A3 from Armourfast. You have to place 1mm Evergreen around the hull and turret which becomes tricky specially in the round parts as the turret and transmission armour. The mantlet has to be sculpted and drilled from a block of EverGreen. Crewman from Skytrex. 

Don't forget pegs in the turret and the extra cover of the power unit and exhaust pipes. Also add 1mm plastic plate around the tracks as they had them larger than normal Shermans M4A3. Do the same above tracks between main side hull and track section. Finally in all parts were things didn't went particularly well place plenty of stowage as americans did. Jumbos had a lot of work locally close to the front and that is why its parts look rough and ill finished but hey that is good news for model converters!

Nothing special here. Altaya Long Tom with tow.  Probably ready to be ambushed by Peiper's column or something like that. 

The Dodge ambulance from Academy to be used as HQ of the 106th ID. Straight from the box with painted markings.

Some US heavy-weights champions. M36 TD from Altaya (camouflaged) and two Fujimi models. One of them (to the right) has a hull from an Armourfast Achilles after the original one was destroyed by Kit, an envious Cocker Spaniel that ruled the house before my beautiful Sula arrived. There is a slight difference of scale in Fujimi's 1/76th turret and Armourfast 1/72nd scale hull but it's barely noticeable. 

Lastly two M10 TD and one Sherman 105mm, The M10 to the left is factory painted for Tunisia but with some blotches of white paint it becomes usable for the Bulge. All models are Altaya with Irregular Miniatures crews from the WWII US artillery set of Really Useful Crews.

Next: the beggining of my 1944 US armored division.