Friday, 31 August 2018

Rapid Fire! Contemporary Russian wars in 20mm - Converted Georgian BMP-1U Shkval

During the '5 Days War', the Georgian Invasion of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in August 2008, the Georgian used 15 BMP-1U bought from Ukraine in one of its brigades. All were apparently lost, captured or destroyed. But apparently Georgia rebuild its force of Shkval as there are now some 30 in its army.  From pictures of captured vehicles they were plain green which is OK as like this I can also field them also as Ukrainian IFV's. 

The basis for the conversion is the Fabbri  BMP-1. The main changes to obtain the BMP-1U are in the turret as you will see. 

First I used the turret backwards after extracting the 73mm gun which will be also the basis for the new ZTM 30mm gun of the Shkval. Then details like hatches and vision slits were taken out with an X-Acto. Some bulbs of two component fast drying paste are glued on the turret which is the main station of all new stuff this version has to offer. 

15 minutes later the paste can be cut and sanded to shape and the first details can be added as the gun, telemeter and other details. 

Time for the ATMG launchers made of EverGreen plastic tube. 

The tip of the gun tube is increased and some thin EverGreen is placed on its sides to give the illusion of the rotating gun. 

Time for the increased side protection on the hull made of thick card applied with hot glue.  

Final details on the back, new hatches and smoke dischargers. 

Figure, headlights, vision slits and its ready to prime. 

After priming they always look much better!

This lot was painted together with some two Die-cast Toyota Hilux. In fact they are Chevrolet but some careful painting can make them very similar. 

Next: Concluding the 26th Volksgrenadier Division. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Rapid Fire! Late War Germans in 20mm: 88mm guns of III Flak corps.

The III Flak corps of Gen.W.Pickert was a very important asset for the Germans while defending the  eastern part of the Normandy battleground against the British. Numbers like 450 allied planes and around 100 tanks and other AFV are credited as destroyed by some sources. One important action of this big unit was during operation Goodwood: from the high ground of Bourguébus ridge the heavy batteries of 88mm guns were instrumental in destroying many British tanks that had pierced the 21 PD lines.  

III Flak corps had around 100/130 88mm Flak guns (20 in RF! terms), both 36 and 41 models. The ones showned here are the older 36 Flak model.

I didn't want too much clean terrain on these stands as the III Flak Corps was attacked constantly by artillery and aircraft. A bit of burned and charred terrain looks the part a bit better. 

The big stand has two Hasegawa models. The figures are a mixture of Hasegawa and Airfix. 

The nets are made of gauze and the sand bags are old Esci from its terrain pack.

The smaller stands have Airfix 88mm guns with figures from all sources. 

The officer is a Chinese copy of the famous Airfix DAK German officer. The torso was bent with the flame of a lighter for him to look for enemies in the sky. 

The house ruins come from Matchbox models. 

Next: a return to Moderns or Germans 1945-46. 

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Rapid Fire! Late war German in 20mm: SP Flak.

A group of Ostwind 37mm and sWS Flak 37mm look for targets to aim at. 

Another 37mm Flak SP this time on sWS chassis. 

The sWS Flak is a beautiful Altaya model, I would risk saying, one of their best. I only added a mix crew of Esci, Airfix and Skytrex and folded camouflage net. 

The Ostwinds are Hasegawa with Esci and Raventhorpe crew. The crewman looking for targets is an Esci figure that came with the set of German AT  Artillery. Originally he was laying down but placed in an upright position he fits nicely his new task. 

Next: elements of III Flak corps. 

Friday, 24 August 2018

Rapid Fire! Late WW2 Germans in 20mm: Jagdpanzer IV/70 (V) Lang .

These models of the Jagdpanzer are very versatile as they can be coupled with Jagdpanthers (as you certainly agree the most beautiful tank-hunter ever!) in Panzer Jäger battalions or used in late war Panzer Brigades. 

Most of these in my collection are Matchbox (1/76th scale). I use 1/72nd figures to approach the rest of the group that is also 1/72nd scale. Camouflages of late war Panzer Jägers used the Hinterhalt camouflage in several patterns. 

Again a different camouflage and a PSC 1/72nd figure trying to trick the eye. 

This one is a Esci model so in 1/72nd scale. You can see also an Altaya model in 1/72nd scale in the family photo. Its the model without the Hinterhalt camouflage in the top left corner. 

Some crew members were painted with gloves and scarves and headphones were scratch built from plastic. Much of the side extra armour was usually torn or taken out by trees and buildings so a mixture of all possibilities is more realistic. 

Next: Late war SP Flak models. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Rapid Fire! Late WW2 Germans in 20mm: Tiger II in Arnhem and Ardennes

This group of 6 Tiger II represent the two available King Tiger companies from  the S.Pz.Abt.506 against Market Garden operation with the first company detached to Aachen against US ground troops. 
This group is a mixture of Esci and Altaya models. 

The third company was sent to Elst and had big yellow and black numbers in the turret. The second one (red and white numbers) was sent to Oosterbeek to deal with the last pockets of resistance of the British 6th Airborne. 
The closest King Tiger is Altaya and the other one is Esci. There isn't many differences between them as both models are 1/72nd scale even if they have a manufacturing time difference of some 30 years. 
Based on pictures of these months I used foliage as camouflage in this group as it's visible the fear of Jabos the Germans had in this period of the war. 

Apparently the S.Pz.Abt. 506 was accompanied by two Jagdtigers still probaly under tests. This one is a repainted Altaya. 

This other group represents the SS S.Pz.Abt. 501 of Peiper's Kampfgruppe. Combining both 506 and SS 501 I have a total of 11 king Tigers: more than enough for both Arnhem, Peiper's raid and all Eastern front actions but not enough for the largest gathering of King Tigers that happened by coincidence when these two units met for the Ardennes campaign within VI SS Panzer Army. There were around 90 King Tigers (18 in RF! terms so 7 to go) for this offensive and if I can find a few more I'll add them to this collection. 

Both command and 3rd company of the SS S.Pz.Abt. 501 had yellow and blue turret numbers. Another particular nice numbers were the full yellow numbers carried by two tanks of the 2nd company one of them visible in the group's picture. The command tank above is Esci.

653rd Heavy Panzerjäger Battalion had a few Jagdtigers. This model is also Esci. The snow on the base of all Ardennes models is made simply by mixing equal portions of fine sand, white acrylic paint and wood glue applied with an old brush. 

Next: Jagdpanzer IV lang. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Rapid Fire! Late WW2 Germans in 20mm: Sturmpanzer Abteilung 217

Stu.Pz.Abt. 217 approaches Caen  preparing to split itself in order to support several divisions of the German Army. 

This is a reduced battalion of Brumbär with only two companies. In fact you don't need to field the whole battalion as this type of unit was divided in small groups smaller than companies and placed under the command of much bigger units. Besides, this battalion, the only of its kind in the Normandy campaign, had to disembark its tanks from the train 170 km from the front line rendering many of its vehicles useless. 

These two Brumbär are Esci and have the true camouflage scheme of this unit. 

The other two are Altaya Die-casts. I only repainted the one to the left with Stu.Pz.Abt. 217 camouflage scheme leaving the other one as it came with only the usual stowage, black wash and sand dry brush. 

The command vehicle is one of the Esci models. In spite of these vehicles being SPG's  the crew made of PSC models uses the black uniform of the Panzerwaffe as it should. 

Next: More late German AFV's maybe King Tigers or Jagdpanzer IV lang. 

Sunday, 19 August 2018

A Wargaming trip to Bastogne 1944.

A few days ago I managed to visit Bastogne. It's an eternal place for any military history fan and wargamer or model collector. In Bastogne much of the Ardennes German campaign  was at stake as this city was the central point of  seven converging roads. The Germans of the 5th Panzer Army of Hasso Von Manteuffel tried hard to win the city with the 26th Volksgrenadier Division and the Pz Lehr. The 2nd Pz Division, the Führer Gebleit Brigade and the 15th Pz Grenadier Division help the attackers but are not committed fully or are not present the whole time. But the stubborn resistance of the 101st Airborne Division, the 705th Tank Destroyer battalion and two Combat Command of the 9th and 10th Armored Divisions, among others, prevented the German breakthrough. The  German superiority in men and material was almost 2 to 1, but laws of war say it should have been at least 3 to 1 when the enemy is dug in defensive positions so may be the destiny of the battle was sealed from the beginning as well as the whole Ardennes campaign. 

Even so the Bulge affair was much not as one sided as we learned a few decades ago. Recent researches showed that Luftwaffe's Bodenplatte operation effectively managed to paralyze much of the allied aviation and when Patton's 3rd army arrived from the south it suffered enormous casualties. Patton even said in its diary, January 45, that  'the war still could be lost'. If it was not for the Russians anticipating its Vistula offensive in 15 days on US urgent request the German tank force would have at least inflicted plenty more casualties on the allies. The terrain of that part of Ardennes is almost perfect tank ground, with planes, rolling hills and plenty of places for ambushes and in the open the superior German tanks could have prevailed. 


While arriving to Bastogne from the south you understand that the Germans had some initial advantage as the city lies in a valley well at the range of artillery placed in a higher gradient. Seven days later this advantage was gone as this south entrance would also be the entry point of Patton's 3rd army relief force. 

In this picture you can see a Sherman M4A3 tank in the main square of Bastogne. It's the famous Barracuda destroyed by a 75mm shell from a PzIV on the side and a shot from a Panzerfaust on the rear that left scars that can still be seen. One of the crew members died and the other four were captured. 

Here the Duckbills (extended end connectors) on Sherman tracks can be seen to advantage. They were used in snowy or muddy ground and served to increase the traction and stability of the vehicle. Its a detail we often forget to model in late Shermans who operated in winter 1944. 

Not much of the city was left intact but in this picture the medieval Porte des Treves can still be seen relatively untouched. For a model of the city it is an important building as its one of the oldest in Bastogne. 

These were some of the positions of the of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Far in the picture at Mont, looking south east, elements of both the Pz Lehr and 26 VGD made several attempts to conquer the city.  

There are nowadays seven turrets of Sherman tanks in Bastogne. They stand were the German attacks were stopped. This picture was taken close to the previous one and this T23 76mm gun turret points to Longvilly/Neffe which is the approximate the same direction of the Bastogne War Museum.

This turret is also a memorial to CC B of the 10th AD and contains a short story of the events participated by the unit and its division into 'Teams'. 

This other turret points to Marvie and to Pz Lehr positions and stands in the Rue de La Chapelle. The road nearby is the Chaussée D'Arlon (nowadays N30). 

The thick mantlet of the 76mm gun. Attention at the inclination of the mantlet which many times is not correct on our 20mm models. 

The tough side port of the turret. Visible are also the layers of armour of the T23 turret. 

Close to the Bastogne War Museum you have this view to the North in the direction of Foy/Noville and 2nd Pz Div. lines. The US side was defended by elements of the 502nd and 506th PIR.

Inside the Bastogne War Museum you are greeted by Blockbuster, a 105mm support Sherman. 

Not so lucky was Absentee, completely ripped apart by AP shells. The idea of the side (or front) US stars was really a bad idea!

A nicely preserved Willys Jeep. 

Another well preserved Browning 1917 HMG used by the 101st Airborne. 

The black uniform of the Panzer units. I think this one belonged to a reconnaissance unit as it has some yellow piping. Damn reflexive glass!!

Volksgrenadier camouflaged uniform. The individual weapon is the Sturmgewehr 44 a weapon that the Germans used massively in this campaign providing some infantry companies with extraordinary firepower. 

The German M44 peas camo jacket associated with the SS but eventually used by the Heer's infantry in later stages of the war. This model holds the MG42 LMG. 

A German Radio operator. Note that the antenna folds at different angles.

A Sturmgeschütz crew member with its distinctive light grey uniform. 

A German Fallschirmjäger and an US infantry or paratrooper clad in winter dress. 

The 50mm German mortar. Not easy to make as a 20mm model ...

The Panzerschreck RPzB54 impresses by its lenght, the height of a man. Note the dark green ammunition. 

Transport boxes of Panzerfaust (small). 

The MG42 in its tripod acting as HMG and the company mortar of 8cm. 

The Fallschimjäger FG-42. 

The famous Hetzer used in great numbers for the first time in this campaign. Each Volksgrenadier division had a company of them and they were also allocated to other Anti-tank units.  This one is not a WW2 built as its a purchase from the Swiss army that bought them from the Czechs who continued its production after the war. 

This ex-Swiss Hetzer (called G-13 by them ) has the Hinterhalt camouflage used extensively in the Ardennes campaign. 

Detail of the rough seam on the Hetzer welded armour. Germans were famous for the quality of the finishing of their armour plates but remember that this one  is a copy. There are at least two more Hetzers at Bastogne, one in the Rue de la Roche and another at the Bastogne Barracks under restauration. 

Yes, we should paint our model tracks rust iron... 

A late war Kübelwagen with the new 1,131cc engine. 

The country side around Bastogne is made mainly of rolling hills permitting the close proximity between US and German lines in the week of 20 to 27 December 1944. This picture was taken from US lines looking at Marvie direction and to Pz Lehr Div. lines. The defenders were probably elements of the 326th Glider Infantry regiment.

Next: More German armour for the late war period.