Monday, 31 July 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm D-Day 1944 - Omaha Beach (part 4), WN 71

WN 71 is the main subject of the first 20 minutes of the movie 'Saving Private Ryan'. I tryed to model it like in the movie but respecting the Rapid Fire! supplement regarding numbers of figures and equipment.

This is the OP that the Germans quicky turned into a fortress. I modelled it with a high wall of concrete like in the movie as there are some differences to the original one.

Here  is the view to the MG bunkers that closed 'D1' exit to the east.

Rear  view of the complex.

Bird's view.  

Detail of the double emplacement MG bunker.

The MG42 figures are Britannia and the two others are Irregular Miniatures.

- 'Look Franz, they are bringing ze bangalores and flamethrovers to roast zus!' 

- 'Ja! Ze movie should have ended before ze first 15 minutes!'

Next: USN Destroyer.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm D-Day 1944 - Omaha Beach (part 3), the US engineers.

I told you that I would show you WN71 but I lied. Instead let's see the first Americans of this Omaha series, namely the US engineers.
Most of the engineers material was transported in rubber dinghies. I casted a number of them from the Airfix US Marines box and made these vignettes small enough to go inside the LCM's of the engineers but big enough to be pulled by groups of 4 men. 
All plastic boxes of US Infantry were used: Atlantic, Esci, Airfix, Matchbox, etc. 
The best positions in my opinion for the task are the grenade throwers, marching guys and those Esci figures of the Iwo Jima set who can be easily converted.


The LCM's are Airfix with added crew from Britannia. Then I only added a small shield to the Browning MG's. 
Now the Bangalore torpedoes. The US enginners also carried these torpeoes in order to destroy barbed wire and, hopefully, bunkers.
The figures are conversions from plastics with added pieces of Evergreen rod.
The flamethrowers also acompanied the engineers.  The figures are again soft plastics.
'Get out of my way or you'll have a roasted butt!' 
Next: WN 71, finally.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm D-Day 1944 - Omaha Beach (part 2), WN 72

The WN 72 was positioned half way between the beach and WN 73 and WN 71, closing the access to Vierville through D-1. It was built on top of Hotel Legallois from which the white columns and small roof can still be seen, helping to the camouflage of the position.

The model is an almost copy of the resin Sentry Models WN 72 and is made in my beloved blue board. This time I covered the blue board in plaster so I could detail it while the plaster was wet.

The eastern bunker had a powerful 88mm PAK gun (Skytrex model with Hasegawa crew) that could cover a good part of the beach all along its lenght.

The western bunker had a 50mm PAK gun (Britannia model and crew). In a small Tobruk (Standard Structure 202) a Britannia MG firer adds extra fire power to the place.

The whole structure is once again severely shrunk. The bunkers themselves are aproximate in size but in reality the wall connecting the two bunkers didn't exist but instead there were trenches some 50 meters long.

Next: (you guessed it) WN...71.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm D-Day 1944 - Omaha Beach (part 1), WN 73

People may think I'm crazy and that I can model 25 hour per day non-stop. Completely false: sometimes I spend an entire day without modelling! Zero, really! (on that day I only read about the hobby). It cost a lot, of course, and then I have to take revenge with many hours in a row grabbing tools, paint and brush.

Well, what really happens is that I model for wargaming since I was 10 yo and I'm 49, in spite of looking like 48. The Iraqi Saladin Division I've showed during last posts started around 1992 and I kept on adding new stuff up to last week. Some 95% of the vehicles and figures are made for years and recently I just based them. The same happens to much of the stuff I show in this blog. Sometimes I start a period like AWI or SCW and produce a few hundreds of figures but from the beginning I now this is a fever that will only last a few months.

Now for this new series. Years ago I made all Wiederstandnest of Omaha, from No60 to No73, also all US and German infantry, tanks, landing craft, beach obstacles, Destroyers, etc to play the 'Bloody Omaha' scenario of RF! D-Day campaign guide. Obviously It took me several months to finish it all. I even played the game solo. The result was dreadful: the table was too short, everything became too crammed and Gockel and Severloh had a true party behind their MG's. Besides there were almost no cliffs and in the end the US infantry could enter all small gaps in spite of dreadful losses! 21st Panzer Division tanks even ended up in the beach fighting with Sherman DD and receiving direct hits from USN Destroyers!!

Now I'm in the process of revamping the WN's and extending the wargame table to the desirable 5 meters. I also collected new information on the recent years on the Omaha events and terrain and to gain inspiration I saw twenty times the movie 'Saving Private Ryan' (fifty times the first 20 minutes, of course).

To each WN I'm adding a new level of blue board  and carving new trenches and adding other details.

This view is leaning against the 'end of the world' or end of the table (to the right of US attack). Its also seen from the eyes  of the US landing on the area of WN73 (Dog Beach), that is, looking at the beach from the sea. To the right you have the 'Ruined Mansion' and the type 677 bunker with a captured 75mm gun of French origin. On the back you can see the 50mm  Tobruk, the OP and the MG double emplacement bunker, hidden on the left top corner.

A close up of the double emplacement MG bunker. This one covered the entry of 'D1' exit together with a similar one in front on WN 71 a few meters to the east. All bunkers are made in blue board, carved with an X-acto and detailed with a soldering iron.

The bunkers has separate roof tops. This one has a 75mm 1897 model (the famous 'Soissante-Quinze of WWI fame) from Irregular Miniatures together with crew.

The 50mm mortar is an Esci conversion. The mortar tube was shortened and the bipod was taken out.

The ruined mansion that can still be seen today in the western tip of the beach.  

General layout of WN73 (beach is at top part).

Next: WN 72 (and then WN71, and then 70, and then...well you know what I mean).

Monday, 24 July 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm Gulf War - Saladin's Division (part 10 and last) - The Divisional artillery

The divisional artillery of the 3rd Saladin AD had 80 2S1 Gvozdika systems and 16 2S3 Akatsya systems divided by six regiments. What I have up to now is the equivalent of just one or  two of those regiments (depending on three models or six per regiment, which is sometimes variable in RF! terms).

The farthest battery (two SPG's) was my first and is made of Cromwell models. The battery to the left is ACE and the one to the right is Armo-Jadar.

Finally I could build a simple and effective ACE model. Its 2S1 is relatively simple with few pieces which helps a lot the deployment of several of them .

This Skytrex 37mm AA gun stands for the S-60 57mm of which I have none. 

This post concludes my Iraqi 3rd Saladin  Armoured Division. This division alone has 100 model vehicles and around 200 figures and this series of posts were a good way to force me to base all vehicles and finish two or three models. 

Later on I´ll do the same with the 5th Mechanized Division, another important part of Iraqi III corps in 1991. 

Next: getting back to WWII (No, no Dukirk. The movie didn't sparked any emotions on me regarding getting back to France 1940. Its a great movie in artistic terms but for me it left a lot to desire in terms of magnitude and scope of the events. So what I'll humbly show you next is what happenned four years later in a stretch of land some 8 km long. Any hints?).

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm Gulf War - Saladin's Division (part 9) - The 20th Reconnaissance Battalion

The 20th Recce Battalion advances cautiously along a Kuwait side road...

This battalion has BRDM-2 and BTR-50PU in its organization. All models are metal Skytrex with one lonely plastic ACE BTR-50PU. There is also an extra BRDM-2 with AT-5 Spandrel. This one should be in a dedicated A/T battalion but for now he is watching the flank of its parent division.

The ACE model is another enervating model of this company. Plenty of pieces, as well as flash, gives in the end of building a nice representation of the type. I placed an ESCI WWII British tank commander as crew with bended arms and new binoculars like the nice painting in the ACE box artwork.

This Skytrex BTR-50PU started its life as a simple BTR-50P infantry carrier. But then I had no division to allocate this lonely model and I changed it into the Recce version. One more half-turret made of BlueStuff was added to the front and plenty of rear stuctures were made out of EverGreen plastics. Here I just copied the ACE model for the two being as similar as possible.

Next (last post for this division): SP artillery.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm Gulf War - Saladin's Division (part 8) - The 95th Air Defence Regiment

The 95th ADR leaves the highway and rushes to the defensive revetments build by the engineers of its Division.

Still incomplete the regiment has four Zsu-23-4 Shilka and two SA-9 Gaskin . The Gaskins are Armo models as well as the closer rank of Shilkas. The farthest Shilkas are Cromwell making this a 100% resin regiment. The figures are metal Skytrex.

The SA-2 Guideline is no integral part of the regiment but comes from III Corps support. Its a resin Planet Model with Irregular Miniatures and Skytrex crew.

The SA-8 Gopher is another help from III Corps support. The model is entirely scratchbuilt in Evergreen plastics.

I based this one on 1/35th plans I saw in Millitary Modelling.  On the time of its making there were no commercialy available models of the SA-8.

The Iraqi Air Defense managed to shoot most of the 75 allied aircraft lost during the Kuwait war but was almost obliterated in the process. 

Now some SA-6 Gainful. The first two are Cromwell with additional rails and the last one is a repainted Altaya Die-cast model.

Finally some Roland on AMX-30 chassis from Altaya simply repainted. These weapons were mostly in the Republican Guard units but some elite units of the army also received them, so its probable they found their way up to III Corps.

Next: Recce Battalion.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Rapid Fire! 20mm Gulf War - Saladin's Division (part 7) - The 8th Mechanized Infantry Brigade

The full 8th Mechanized Brigade assembles by the river Euphrates before invading Kuweit in August 1990...

This brigade is more heavy on infantry (3 regiments/battalions) than on armour (1 regiment). Even though its a quite powerful brigade as all infantry is mounted on BMP-1 and the tanks are T-72's.

As usual all BMP-1 are Skytrex with one ACE model in the middle. The T-72 are a mixture of Skytrex; converted T-80 from Revell and one 4D model ('what, those lousy models from China were all tanks have the same tracks? You're bullshiting me!'. ' Yes' -this is me speaking now- 'one of those! But with many changes'. 'Ahhhhh' - I can hear you say as a sign of relief). 

One of the BMP regiment (3rd Mechanized) had its vehicles camouflaged as the ones that are rotting in a swamp in the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

I painted all the infantry in this brigade in winter colours. Some of the figures have camouflaged trousers as usual with the Iraqis. The models are mainly ESCI Warsaw Pact, Spetnaz and Vietnamese figures with US M-1 helmets from various origins.

The command groups have Skytrex figures like the Radio Operators, the Sagger and the SA7. The other figures are ESCI including the Dragunov sniper.

Other command groups have the Saggers made out from air-to-air missiles and an AGS-30 granade launcher from Skytrex.

Another of the Mechanized battalions with a total of 32 figures and four vehicles.

The T-72 M1 from Skytrex. A true 'shelf bender'...

And the Revell conversions. These two were the last made and the ones that came out better.

Each of the infantry battalions have one of these Atlantic Jeeps. They pretend to be the Fiat Campagnola sold by yugoslavia to Iraq. But as they have a toy look they will be here until I can find a better replacement.


On the first picture of this post (top right corner) you can see the T-72 4D Model. I had to buy all different 16 first generation models from 4D in order to have the three or four that I wanted as they come all together in two separate boxes. Aliexpress site mentions them as 1/72nd scale models, but by scrolling a little more on the page you can see that almost all models share the same wheels and tracks (pretty ugly things, by the way!) and a few of them are clearly much smaller than 1/72nd scale. By looking at the box covers you may think you have first class models... in fact they are mostly toys.

But at 2 Euro each they have to be good for something. I started with the T-72 as the tank battalion of this brigade still didn't have a command vehicle. The wheels are good for nothing and I replaced them with surplus ModelCollect wheels which are excellent. The rear dented wheel is a normal wheel carved with a welding tool.


 On the turret the original gun barrel is too short and this one was augmented by carving the mantlet and making it part of the barrel itself and fixing everything to a surplus mantlet from ModelCollect. Also a figure, a Chinese optical dazzler, various pieces for the original incomplete Dshk (in green), the grenade launchers, the headlights, etc were added and made mostly from Evergreen plastics.

In the end the model became nice. If I had started the T-72 fleet more recently I would have made more T-72's in this way probably by moulding some road wheels when the ModelCollect surplus ones were over. 

Osprey book say each T-72 M1 was around 1 million US dollars. They are wrong! If you are patient enough you can buy them for 2 Euro!

Next: the 95th Air Defence Regiment of the Saladin AD.