Friday, 18 September 2020

Rapid Fire! NW Europe 1944/45 - Mortain and Market Garden additions

On the 7th of August 1944 a large number of Panzer Grenadiers arrive at the Mortain-Le-Neufbourg train station coming from the north and aiming at Mortain. They will be shot to pieces by elements of the 30th US infantry division, a National Guard unit, which will be crucial defending the area and preventing the Germans from reaching Avranches. 

This is the what happened after the events of the previous picture. German Schimmwagens, 251 HT's and US jeeps, not counting the dead, littered the battlefield in some of the most known images of the battle of Mortain. At the very end of the picture, to the right, you can see the Mortain-le-Neufbourg train station.


If you look closely at the BW picture this train station has a different roof from the original. This is an old plastic HO model from my late father's train collection that I decided to use as the Mortain train station. It is about the same size and has the same number and location of the main openings. I have never been to Mortain but nowadays thanks to WW2TV ( thanks Don McHugh for introducing it to me) you can watch an awesome show but also on episode 1 of the Mortain battle some very nice filming of today's train station where you can see the real colours of the building and even real bullet holes!

The model was repainted to the true colours of the Mortain train station and the base changed to a simpler and smaller one.

Second model of this week's list is this Raventhorpe RTR model of a Sdkfz 250 with a Breda 20mm type 35 autocannon. This vehicle was never close to Mortain as it belonged to the 12th PzSS Hitlerjugend but was made with all others and deserved a few pictures due to its originallity. 

The model very simple as usual with RTR with a very nice touch of having two crewmen inside the driving compartment, The Breda is a leftover from Altaya. 

I followed for this model the information of the Militaria Hors-de.Serie No87, in one of two volumes dedicated to the SS in Normandy. 

The vehicle belonged to the the 3rd company of the SS PzAufkl.Abt 12. 

In the same parcel from Raventhorpe arrived a few RTR Citroën Type 23. 

Even if they can be also used in the Normandy campaign I want them for the several German KG fighting the Market Garden operation. 

The SS figures are the excellent Caesar figures also used in the last few Umbau cars I´ve made. 

This lot was initially a group of Chinese cheap Die-cast construction trucks filled with cranes and other stuff that I found in a local magazine shop. My 3 YO kid is crazy about these things but it would be a pity to end in his hands as his main word after looking at them is "tira isto!" (take this thing out!).
 As usual with this kind of models they look slightly American and that convinced me to use them as the Dutch trucks. Dutch trucks of the 30s and 40s were heavily influenced by US designs from Ford and Chevrolet, and Colin mentions them transporting men of the 59th ID in the Market Garden campaign guide. Yes, the NEW ONE! As I was the first to receive it for being such a dedicated servant of  masters Colin and Richard!!!
...just kidding, I think the new book is still in the printers. Better not to play with serious things before someone gets a heart attack...

This time the Caesar seated soldier were painted as Heer Grenadiers.

The chassis of these cheap Die-casts were mated with other surplus cargo areas, all different for the sake of variety. 

The tyres were also changed and came from my Atlantic stash. 

Finally this funny and rare amphibious Trippel SG6 was built with the lot (800 to 1000 built, compared to 14.000 type 166 Schwimmwagens). 

The model is an old AMBN resin kit with the usual Caesar crew and converted driver. The camouflage is the pre-1943 and based on a surviving vehicle used in reenactements. Like this the model can survive in the 1941-43 Eastern Front were most were used. 

Next: the second battalion for the Screaming Eagles and some air support. 

Monday, 14 September 2020

Rapid Fire! NW Europe 44/45 - The M-18 Hellcats of the 705th TD Battalion

The 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion arrives at Bastogne on the 19th of December 1944. Already dug in are some of the units of the 101st Airborne which the TDs will help with its powerful 76,2mm antitank guns. This quick story sums up the reason why the Hellcats of the 705th TD Battalion are necessary for the defence of Bastogne. I remember Bastogne as one of my first solo wargames when I was still a teenager. 

Thanks to the quick builds nowadays available, three boxes of Armoufast M-18 Hellcat solves the issue of a full US TD battalion at least regarding the tanks themselves . 

But not everything are roses with Armourfast kits. They are well engineered models with all main parts but missing some equipment that I think could be easily engraved as PSC does. Here you can see a load of Jerrycans, different stowage, figures, antenna...

...headlights, mantlet covers, axes, hammers and Mg ammo box. All these details are easily made in different types of styrene and two component paste.

I paint nowadays all my US vehicles with Vallejo Cam. Olive Green (RLM80) from its Panzer Aces series. 

All markings were aplied by hand . 

Another example of the stowage necessary for a late US vehicle. 

- Hey Marl, what is that tough thing leaning against my butt...?
- Don't worry Steve, just my Colt 45...
Conclusion: Yes, the interior of these things was really crammed!

The figures are torsos from Matchbox and Revell chosen from the ones without netting on the helmets. The arms are all made in GreenStuff for them to sit in the intended place. 

The names on this Hellcat were taken from the site namely from the pages dedicated to the 705th TDB. 

Next: another load of German vehicles for Market Garden.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Rapid Fire! Dieppe 1942 (part 1) - First group of RAF aircraft

On the 19th of August 1942 a  pair of Spitfire MkVb escort a Boston light bomber on the way to Dieppe. 
I'm starting here my series about Dieppe by mere chance. This week a new brand of 1/72nd diecast aircraft showed up in the tobacco shops. Its name is Luppa and quite nice they are. As usual the first one is quite cheap at less than 5€. Others will be around 12€, even so quite cheap as half of the collection is made of big bombers (not sure if in 1/72nd scale though) with examples being the British Wellington, the Japanese  Betty or the B-29 the rest being fighters. Even a giant Kawanishi H8K Emily is part of the collection. Well this one made me think what will I do with the same Hasegawa model stranded in the shelves for years, this of course if the big ones are 1/72nd scale. 

The Luppa models made me also build this Revell Boston MK III from the stash.

 As usual all glasses are painted from the inside which saves time as you dont need to paint or build the interiors or the pilots  but I like to leave the firer of the double 50 cal. to be seen.

Dieppe saw the introduction of the Spitfire MK IX, the only Spitfire model of the day that could rival with the FW 190 but there were still plenty of these older MK Vb. The idea of the RAF, besides bombing and laying smoke screens in the defences and landing area, was to lure the Luftwaffe for a big dogfight and reduce its numbers dramatically, something that was not achieved.  On the other hand this  battle is still the biggest one-day air battle in history. The RAF lost 106 planes (including 62 Spitfires) to Luftwaffe's 48.
The Luppa models comes in flying mode with a small base, perfect for wargaming, on the contrary of Altaya models which need a little assembly. The quality between the two brands is similar.

Next: the M-18s Hellcat of the 705th TD Battalion.


Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Rapid Fire! NW Europe 44/45 - Winter M-24 Chaffees

The M-24 is pictured many times with the US paratroopers around December 44 . This made me finish these three that were made for years but not painted. No markings so easily adaptable for Cavalry or the light companies of the tank battalions. All models are Matchbox. 

I used winter basing to go along some of the German stuff I have like the 26th Volksgrenadier Division. 

Plenty of homemade stowage was added to the turret and rear of these tanks.

Only one Hasegawa crewman was added to the command tank of the company. The winter whitewash consists of very diluted white leaving unpainted some small areas, particularly hatches and moving parts. 

Next: Dieppe starts.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Rapid Fire! NW Europe 44/45 - 101st US Airborne - 1st battalion done

The 1/501st PIR (the Geronimo Regiment) just received their new M1943 uniforms and parade proudly to show them. This battalion is, hopefully and in the far future, one of the nine battalions of the 101st US Airborne Division, the famous Screaming Eagles, to be built. I chose the green colour of the M1943 because it fits both Market Garden and Bastogne. I used Vallejo Russian Green for the colour of the paratroopers uniform , following a nice YouTube video from the series "How I paint things". The figures are SHQ, Revell and Esci. 

I painted the Screaming Eagle in all left arms using a small background of black, and one stripe of white and another of gold. 

The US flag was painted in the white armband on the right side. Not easy and almost as difficult as the hammer and sickle of Soviet soldiers (which generally corresponds to a dot in this scale). 

My only conversion for this unit was this guy firing the Bazooka. It started as a regular Esci infantryman up until when EverGreen was added to the trousers, backpack, camouflage netting and first aid kit in the helmet. The other figure is SHQ.

The two other Bazooka teams are SHQ.

The 81mm stand is a mixture of Revell and SHQ figures.

The two command stands mix SHQ and Revell. The Revell CO here is the famous Lt.Col. Harry Kinnard the man who heard Gen. Mcauliffe say "Nuts" to the German surrendering demand at Bastogne and who apparently was responsible for the word to become part of history. 

All three brands, SHQ, Revell and Esci, living together in perfect harmony. 

Next: the M-24 Chaffees in the Ardennes. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Rapid Fire! Arnhem oddities and such (part 7) - The Airfix Pontoon Bridge turns into a Bailey Bridge


Recently on a talk on one of the RF! Facebook pages I noticed that the Airfix bridge used as a decoration for some of my marvellous conversions of the Sdkfz 251/21 Drillings attracted more attention than the converted Drillings themselves (well done João, for you not to think too highly of yourself)! On the conversation the issue of the Bailey Bridge surfaced and Don McHugh posted the very nice Empress Bailey Bridge as the best option for the one over the Son river. In fact its a beauty but at 50 euros I decided to convert the old Airfix pontoon bridge. 

And this is what I got. A few major changes on the Airfix model are necessary to make the conversion:
1- You need to strip one of the decks from its panels and glue them two milimeters from the others on the final deck;
2- Glue small squares of EverGreen to the X central parts of the frames
3- Make 13 drills on each side for small poles and rope on the foot paths;
4- Build 10 bracing frames to unite the frames.
5- (The trickiest one) build four ends for the inclined frames and make them square (black parts on the above picture).

After painting, it looks like a Bailey Bridge. The deck is the worst part as it should be wood and looks clearly metal even if painted in wood colours. 

The metal deck can be recognized here clearly but I hope to have plenty of Shermans (or Panthers) crossing it so that flaw will not be seen.

Next: Maybe moderns.  

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Fire&Fury ACW rules set - Gettysburg in 20mm (part 25) - Devil's Den

The Devil´s Den is an iconic place of the battle of Gettysburg made of some big and labirinthic boulders . It´s on the southern end of the battlefield facing the equally famous Little Round Top. It was the scene of some brutal fighting on the second day and, by the end of the day, was in the hands of the Confederates but covered with dead and wounded like other famous places nearby such as the Wheat Field, the Triangle or the Valley of Death. 

Initially I thought about gluing some river stones  to make my Devil´s Den. In the end the weight let the idea aside. Besides the rocks of the Devil's Den have plenty of scars and some have a specific shape difficult to find in a small stone.

In the end I opted by hard Stryrofoam (blueboard) and carved the stones individually. The main trick is to attack the blueboard with the blunt part of the Xacto in order top make scars mainly on the sides and a few big ones on top of the boulders. Painting is my usual black undercoat, and without drying completely, applying sucessive coats of medium grey and light gray. 

I left three boulders with enough place for a F&F base to stand in each of them. 

Also enough room was left for some markers. 

Aerial view. The piece is around 35cmX15cm in its maximum measurements.

The northern side showing two entrances. 

The famous "Duck Head" pointing at the Union positions a feature that makes Devil's Den easily recognizable. 

Next: The Bailey Bridge at the Son River.