Thursday, 27 April 2017

Rapid Fire! France 1940 in 20mm - The A13 MkI arrives (from China...).

Somewhere in Northern French, in the destroyed village of Le Pen, a group of British A13 MkI are searching for the 1st Armoured Division gathering area....

The S-Model is another brand to bring double kits to the market. They are very accurate renderings of the original, the detail is crisp, the construction is easy and the PE parts are nice for those with nerves of steel. On the down side sometimes an important detail of the vehicle is missing. This happens in particular with the A13's.

But with little work you can improve them.

In the turret you can add a headlight, a verticle scope, two side handlers (replacing the PE parts) and a vision slit close to the 2pdr gun all made out of  pieces of Evergreen.

On the left side of the turret you can place the typical double smoke launchers these vehicles had. A small rectangle as its base and two pieces of rod, all plasticard, and it's done. The complicated PE antennae support was also replaced by a piece of plastic roughly of the same shape but more resistant.

PSC made nice rivets on its A9 turrets something S-Models didn't bother. I also skipped doing them as they are time consuming.

With its small faults the A13 MkI from S-Models is a beautifullly designed model and you just need to add a few missing parts in order to have some relatively rare models on the table and the first of its kind to be made in plastic.

Next: More Cold War stuff.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Rapid Fire! France 1940 in 20mm - Vickers MKVIb Light Tanks for the BEF.

Please don't think I'm a complete lunatic. I'm just partially lunatic. The previous series on the US Armoured Division was no recent work. I had the models built for a long time, some probably decades. This time I just based them and took some pictures, that's all. So in the meantime I started to build and paint my 1st British Armoured Division for the 1940 French campaign, with the first post being showned some two days ago. And now here it comes the second.

Close to the French place of Route Tortueuse a group of Vickers MKVIb leaves the road in order to join the British 1st Armoured Division who is gathering close to the village of Merde Pour Le Pen.

 Four of them (red fanions) will go to the 10th Hussars, the only regiment to have the MKVIb in the 2nd Armoured Brigade (all other Regiments being equipped with MKVIc) while the other six will be spread throughout the regiments of the 3rd Armoured Brigade.

The models are the excellent S-Models, two in a box, easy to put together if you exceptuate the PE parts which are really a PITA if beautifully designed.

I only added a crew figure from PSC, some limited stowage, as the campaign is recent,  and an antennae with fanion (two for Regimental companies).

The only PE part I used was the elevator for the Mg's. I replaced both the door holder and the driver's mirror with thicker plastic parts.

Here you can see those changes to advantage. Those PE parts were really fiddly and would get destroyed I presume quite quickly without the need of the 37mm PAK intervention, so some Evergreen tube and plate made more secure parts. They may be uglier but they are strurdier.

Next: the A13's MKII.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Rapid Fire! France 1940 in 20mm - First units for the BEF: HQ tanks and Anti-tank company for the 1st AD and a few Bren Carriers

I'll present you now the beggining of my 1st British Armoured Division that has been making me busy in the past few weeks.
The BEF for the short campaign in France in 1940 is a place were all WWII wargamers want to go. You can play with the tanks of the 'Tank Scandal', have tanks with multiple turrets and have plenty of markings on them: division markings, bridge weight markings, company markings, individual markings, markings, markings everywhere... for sure its different than Normandy! But for a Rapid firer! the imminent release of the new Blitzkrieg supplement also increases its interest. 
All this talk wouldn't be possible without the favours of PSC, Zvezda, S-Models and even Airfix specially PSC with the realease of its fantastic A9 which opened the possibility for us of finally having British tank regiments for early war.     

Until now I completed  the guns of Anti-Tank company only missing two of the towing vehicles; several HQ companies of both Brigade and Regiment are also made as well as a few Carriers for the loaned infantry of the division.

A A10 of the 9th lancers, based on the A9 of PSC,  drives down the road with the company of the Vickers Mk.VIc of the 2nd Armoured Brigade HQ. This one is Airfix with a PSC figüre.

 I scratchbuilt the front part of the A10 on three A9 models. I used two-component paste, the one you buy at super-markets, to make the general shape of the new front part. You can start to use the X-Acto a few minutes later as this material dries very quickly. Then all details were made in Evergreen Plastics. I left the gun mantlet as for the A9 as Chamberlain and Ellis in their book on Allied armour states that there were 13 A10 ( the MkI model) with A9 turrets.

To the right you have the full Regimental HQ of the 10th Hussars with a A9 and a A10. On the road you have  the A9's of the Regimental HQ of both 2nd RTR and 3rd RTR, the last one probably looking for the Calais road.

The 2 pounder A/T are Zvezda with the addition of a third crew member taken from the crew of the 6 pounder by PSC. Be careful about the helmets as the British seemed to have used them mostly without foliage.

The Morris tow was taken from an old and half broken Matchbox model. I just built a new Evergreen structure for the canvas cover which I made of toilet paper hardened wıth wood glue.

The final result for the Morris C8. Also for early brits you need a gas mask bag hanging in the chest easily made of GreenStuff, Milliput or similar.


The PSC Bren Carriers also had some changes. Two of them had Boys A/T rifles instead of Bren MG's, a new position for the Bren and the figures received new heads from ESCI because of the 'foliage problem' I mentioned before and the gas mask bags.
For the colours of the BEF vehicles, and after many trials, I settled on GW Loren Forest as the lighter green and Art Deco Black Green for the camouflage colour.

The view of the Stuka...

As main references I'm using H/C Tank Zone magazine no 11(the article 'La Charge du Rhinocéros'); Batailles No 72 ( article Abbeville 1940) and a very good help from Simon Ford on the organization of the 1st AD.

Next: plenty of incredible menacing...Vickers Light tanks!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm 1944 US Armoured Division - The Shermans 76mm and AA unit.

Still in time for the Division's offensive a group of brand new Shermans with 76mm gun arrives in mid July. Now the Kraut Panthers will have to be much more careful

This Sherman group is made of Revell and Armourfast models. The idea is obviously to place one in each Sherman 75mm company from mid July 1944 battles or two in each when the year is coming to an end.

This is the Revell model. As it comes the kit is quite simple so I built it without side protections, with extra figures and the usual stowage and other details.


The model to the left is Armourfast, built straight from the box with the usual additions. The one to the right is more tricky as it has a Italeri turret and the HVSS suspension and hull from a Nitto model.


The 105mm Sherman is Armourfast with Hasegawa and metal Skytrex crew. The Sherman to the right is the standard Sherman M4A1 from Revell with a large metal plate to the front from a picture I saw once.

Before Revell made its 76mm model I relied on the much older (and too big) model from Hasegawa. It is still useful for late battles and Korea as it has the HVSS suspension.

I built the two last HT M4 81mm mortar in order to field five tank battalions, with one M4 81mm per battalion.

Finally an AA company made with Browning quad M16 HT's. It fields two Matchbox and two Altaya models. One company is probably more than enough in any scenario for the Western front. Even so I want to have at least one M15 which probably will be a conversion from the next Matchbox M16 I can find.

The Altaya models are just great! They were very careful about the design of the models which in many aspects are superior to many resin, metal or plastic competitors. The 3/4 truck is offered in the very rare six wheeled version with HMG pulpit and trailer. The M16 also comes with plenty of stowage, Jerrycans and trailer making them hard to resist. Ten posts later I can say:


Next: France 1940 with British accent...

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm 1944 US Armoured Division - The figures of Mechanized Infantry battalions.

A PBI battalion arrives and the trucks unloads its cargo. This time no Half Tracks as the US infantry can easily turn from Mechanized to Motorized with 2-1/2 GMC trucks instead of HT's.

The trucks are Frontline wargaming and the 3/4 ton truck is ESCI. The infantry is a mixture of all available plastics: Airfix, Matchbox, Atlantic but mostly ESCI and Revell.

The MG's of the Heavy Weapons Company.

And the mortars (60mm and 81mm). The ESCI HMG firer became a mortar man for the 60mm mortar. Many arms and torsos were carved, glued, heated and bended in ways only Daesh or Torquemada could describe.

Two different Command stands from figures you all recognize.

I made six differently based US infantry battalions for easy recognition.  I also have 7 surplus figures for each of the eighteen companies for the Omaha scenario standing inside their LCVP's but that will be for another post.

The trucks are a Frontline Wargaming, Hasegawa and two venerable Airfix soft plastic ones can be seen in the top row to the left.

Next: the 76mm Shermans.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm 1944 US Armoured Division - Corps artillery support

These two battalions that follows can either be used to reinforce the Armoured Division from Corps or, most likely to be integral parts of an Infantry Division as Anti-tank battalion (replacing M10 Wolverines) and Medium Artillery battalion (replacing M7's).

My idea in the long term about having all these US units is to be able to fıght two of the biggest actions of the Western front in 1944: Operation Lüttich, the famous German Mortain counter-attack and the Ardennes campaign later in the year.
For any of them you need aproximately a battalion sized unit of M1 3' inch gun (76,2mm) as in these big actions its the Germans who are on the move they were opposed by US A/T units.

All the guns are scratchbuilt using as the basis the gun barrel and breech of the Irregular Miniatures 85mm Russian AA/AT gun as well as its wheels. Then the shield and legs were scratchbuilt in Evergreen plastics.


The crew is Irregular Miniatures.

The boxes of ammunition are balsa wood.

The structure of the M1 gun is not a difficult one and you can have a full battalion easily and at less than half price if compared to other metal manufacturers. Besides these guns were used a fraction of the time of its German counterparts so you maybe you don't need to invest too much money in true models. But hey that's my opinion, don't feel forced to do it just because I said it (I know you will...)!!

Another scratchbuilt artillery unit is this 105mm Howitzer battalion. Most of the times you won't see them as they are off-table, so again I decided to scratchbuilt them.

All pieces are Evergreen plastics with the exception of the wheels. The good thing about the IM 85mm AA gun is that they have four wheels and so half of them can be used in this next battalion.

Crew is assorted plastics. The sandish ground also suits the Follow-up US forces of the RF! Omaha scenario.

Bases also had to become smaller in order to fit the LCT's.

After taking the pictures I realized the shield visors don't exist but that will be corrected with a small piece of Evergreen.

Well, this US Armoured Division series is closing to its end but there is still the infantry, Sherman 76mm and AA units to be shown. So stay tuned, don't eat (any of two possible kinds of meat) nor drink and you won't loose it.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm 1944 US Armoured Division - The 3rd Tank Battalion (75mm Shermans from Airfix).

With two companies in the first line and one (understrenght) in support, with the M5 light company wiped out in a previous fight (please read the true reason in the last post) another Sherman battalion sprangs its attack on German lines. From the back there is command Sherman and, on top of the hill, a support M4 HT 81mm mortar carrier and Sherman 105mm Howitzer.

Maybe I should have started with this one. This battalion has the early M4(1942) model with M34 gun mount that in spite of its age soldiered in many units up to the end of the war. It could even be seen in units along M4A3E8's, one of the last models of the Sherman.
Another reason for bunching these models together is scale. They are mostly Airfix 1/76th scale with one Jumbo by SHQ also in 1/76th scale. My other 75mm Sherman battalions are 1/72nd scale.

The Co tank is Airfix with added Fujimi's turret extra armour and figure; double antennae, HMG and stowage. The right hull extra armour is wrong as it only existed on the right side of the Shermans so there should be only one in the picture. Consider it a moving castle!!


A few more examples of improved Shermans: you can apply the usual sand bags or even a Cullin Hedgerow device taken from the Revell Cromwell. Other details as the Co Sherman.

 The SHQ Jumbo also had some extra sand bags on top of its already extra protection.

The M4 HT 81mm mortar carrier from Altaya is on a brownier shade of OD but quite passable so I left it as it came. I just added the usual crew of plastic figures.