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. 

Friday, 28 August 2020

Rapid Fire! Market Garden in 20mm - Oddities and such (part 6) - The Panthers of the 107 PzBgde.

Crosses, its all about crosses. This post only exist because the PzBatt. 2107 Panthers had the Balkenkreuz painted in their turrets making them distinguishable from other units. 
Up to now there were 26 Panthers in my collection, all with markings of the units participating in the Mortain counter-offensive. With these 7, I now have 33 Panthers and close to the 50 necessary for the Bulge (around 250 Panthers were used in this offensive making it most probably the biggest gathering of Panthers of WW2). Well, one needs aims in life to continue and I just made up this new  one!   
The above scene is inspired in the awsome Steve Noon's painting "Cutting Hell's Highway", the action of PzBgde 107 on the 22nd of September.

The model Panthers were originally from Matchbox (5), Airfix (1) and Esci (1). Only the Airfix was already built and painted but it became a surplus from the Mortain series and was left aside for being the ugliest of them all. Both the Matchbox and the Airfix models got plenty of new parts not only because they are quite incomplete but also they needed to be upgraded to the Ausf.G versions of the 107 PzBgde. 

The main changes necessary for the Ausf.G were: 
- antennae;
- the Matchbox mantlets had the later chin guard removed.
- new front mudguards and a rim to hold the new pieces of schürzen;
- plenty of hull pieces like boxes, tools and surplus track parts;
- a headlight for the right side mudguard for the Airfix and Matchbox models taken from surplus Hasegawa's.
- a new exaust for the Ausf.G version.

Of course in order to hide the many blanks a lot of two component foliage was added.

No Zimmerit on these ones as I never could master that thing and the conversions I see in this scale are pretty ugly atempts, sorry to say. Besides, and as a consolation, September 44 was the last month Zimmerit was aplied to tanks when the Germans finally realised no magnetic charges were produced by the western  Allies or the Soviets. Like this this lot can head to Antwerp in December properly dressed for Christmas.

For the Ausf.G exaust I used Evergreen tubing in which the old Ausf.D tubes were inserted. 

The new Matchbox Panthers Ausf.G.

The 107 PzBgde also painted its numbers on the back of the turret.

Regarding the sole Airfix Panther a bit more work was necessary to make this one more believable. The model is notoriously lower than the Matchbox one which looks much better. The entire set track was ripped off and glued some 3mm lower increasing the height of the model. Regarding the turret, its again a bit lower than the Matchbox's but it was kept like that.  

The Airfix Panther got a bit taller and closer to its unit mates. 

The Airfix model finished. As the original model doesn't have the rear boxes I just covered the area with foliage due to laziness.

Finally the tank of the 2107 Panzer battalion commander, Major Von Plüskow. The Esci is by far the best Panther model of the three brands, slightly bigger than others (1/72nd scale and 1/76th for the others) and much more detailed. 

Again the main change is the exaust but you also need to cover the driver's vision slit, a feature discarded on the Ausf.G model. Plastic broom antennae were added to the rear and that includes the star antenna. To build these ones I use a small blob of GreenStuff on top of the antenna in which six smaller pieces are inserted. In the end a drop of SuperGlue makes the thing quite sturdy.

Here is Major Hans Albrecht Von Plüskow in his last hours of life as he will be KIA the next day, 23rd September, while attacking the Allied positions at Veghel.

After reading a bit about Plüskow I couldn't find much about his headdress but I like to believe he wore the Shirmmütze without the wire stiffener, as most of the officers of the Panzerwaffe did in the last 3 years of the war. For that look I burned the top part of the PSC M43 field cap of the figure in the previous picture and squashed it a little in order to look like the officer´s Shirmmütze. 

Next: I think I´ll have a rest before work but I´m not sure if something will tempt me. 

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Rapid Fire! Market Garden in 20mm - Oddities and such (part 5) - The Sdkfz 251/21 Drillings of the 107 PzBgde.

More than 80km distance from Arnhem, on the 19th September some Sdkfz 251/21 Drillings of the 107 PzBgde managed to cross the pontoon bridge at Son over the Wilhelmina canal. This bridge was built by the British engineers after the destruction of the original one by the Germans on the initial stages of the Market Garden.   

All models are Hasegawa with converted 'castle' and triple-mount MG151 autocannon. 

Instead of concentrating the Drillings in the 4th company of the PzGrenBatt. 2107 like in the RF supplement I gave different company numbers as they were distributed along the three PzGren. companies. The numbers appear to have been big white and black (red?) painted on the sides and back of the HTs. 

In a picture all FOW followers will like you can see crew taken from different PSC sets. 

The pontoon bridge is Airfix. 

Returning to symbols, the one of the 107 PzBgde was painted yellow sand in a green field. I think there isn't certainty about this but its the opinion of some investigators. 

After the conversions the Hasegawa models looked like this. The castle was made of Evergreen as well as other smaller details; the triple-mount was carved from two layers of Multiexel expanded PVC and the 15mm autocannon are pin parts. 

The easily breakable parts were replaced with eternal plastic broom sticks.  The foliage is made of my trusty two component paste. 

Before priming my conversions always look like having been bought in the local Chinese shop but after aplying the primer power they look like Alby models! 

A big thank you to Alan Mcourbey, Don McHugh and Richard Baber for the information provided. 

Next: the Panthers of 107 PzBgde. 

Monday, 17 August 2020

Rapid Fire! 20mm Sdkfz 263 for several theaters

This is a German vehicle I still didn´t have. The Sdkfz 263 is one of those ugly beauties WW2 produced in relatively small numbers (240) and used in all fronts in the Nachrichten detachments and also in Army and Korps headquarters. 
The models are PSC and as usual with this marvellous brand many parts were left on the sprues from other variants provided in the box. 
Well, a few years ago I converted one from the Airfix Sdkfz 234 but looking at it now makes me feel ashamed. This was the atempt: 

Ok, don't laugh, it was made two years ago when I was just 50 years old. 

This one is Generalmajor Erwin Rommel's Sdkfz 263 when commanding the 7th Panzer Division in the French campaign of May/June 1940. Rommel is a PSC figure provided in the Pz38t and variants box. It started as an artillerist and I just added the bottom part of the overcoat and a pair of binoculars. Rommel used many different overcoats during the war and the overcoat is not his most distinctive piece of clothing during the French campaign as it was hot during most of the campaign. This was the closest I got to a figure that could look like Rommel in 1940 and 1/72nd scale: 

Here Rommel with Hoth at the village of Éplessier in the Somme using one of his overcoats. 

The model is a beauty of simplicity and builds very quickly.

The two others went to the DAK, one to each of the Panzer divisons. As usual with this Korps plenty of stuff was used as extras: the pith helmets came from the Atlantic DAK, stowage was made of two component paste and the jerrycans are my own making from soft styrene sheet.

The Nazi flag was a constant in this type of vehicles but the truth is that its presence offends some people who sometimes call my attention to the fact. As they are absolutely right I placed them wrapped  around a pole as they were occasionaly seen. 

The crew for these two came from Esci and Revell (left model) and PSC (right model).

Here Rommel looks at the future and sees itself as Generalleutnant of the DAK...

Next: Maybe modern Russians, Ozereika Romanians or something else but beach will get in the middle and sand and glue dont mix very well. 

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Rapid Fire! Market Garden in 20mm - Oddities and such (part 4)

First of all, just because I placed a post yesterday, don´t think that I woke up during the night, and without eating or peeing the whole day made these six models, took pictures that I'm now posting. Its true the day was spent at home, just a small coffee nearby with family around 11.00, but the two white trams are done for years and the Umbaus were made in the last few days along other material like the British trucks. The modelling day's work was in fact the painting of the figures on the Umbaus, its basing  and the painting of the green tram. Of course the secret is avoiding the kitchen and other similar busy parts of the house and always eat in the dining room, varanda or outside. In the end you can help with the dishes and this is the moment you deserve a kiss.  

On the afternoon of 17th September another group of SS Germans using "requisitioned" Umbaus pass abandoned trams and enter Utrechtweg looking for British paratroopers. What they don't know is that nothing less than the commander of 1st Airborne, General Urquhart is hiding in the number 14 (the second house left of the St Elisabeth Hospital in the picture). 

This group of Umbau vehicles is my second after a few Matchbox conversions. Once again the "hard foliage" made of two component paste helps hiding the holes in the original fantasy models after taking out the strange stuff on them. 

The crew is this time from Caesar and very good they are. The set H099 has 12 different poses of perfect SS soldiers armed for late war and that includes Pzfausts and STG44s.

These are the original die-cast models bought in the supermaket from the Metal Machines range.  Wheels were replaced, windshield enlarged, engine, cargo holders and exhaust pipes carved out...

This is the looks of the Umbaus before priming. 

For the figures to seat correctly a few planks of Evergreen were added to the cargo area.

The trams are Ho scale from Atlas or Altaya. I bought and primed them years ago and lost track of its origin. I remember them being that first cheap sale of the collection so I bought three. 

They are vaguely similar to the longer trams of Arnhem. While the 71 and the 76 (this one is famous as it served Oosterbeek) were white there were others in more lively colours. I used green as in a cover of a Dragon 1/35th scale kit but I´ve seen also blue in a very nice diorama. As all original trams were destroyed by the bombardments I´m really not sure. 

This is a nice reconstitution of tram 76 in the Arnhem Open Air museum. 

Well,  it looks that Urquhart wasn't found and here goes the SS ready to nag someone else. Speaking of SS, I saw last night Operation Finale, a good movie about the capture of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. Try to see it and remember that even if the SS have nice camouflaged uniforms and the best weapons of the Reich they were a criminal organization responsible for some of the worst things that happened to mankind. 

If you want to see my Arnhem houses, most of them scratchbuilt, you can go here:

Next: Maybe three Sdkfz 263 from PSC.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Rapid Fire! France 1940 in 20mm - New wheels for the BEF

A group of wheeled vehicles from the BEF crosses the Bois de Matuidi in support of the next allied move against le Boche.
Recently I found this nice brand, Anyscale Models,  in the web. They provide a wide range of resin pieces for wargaming from boats to vehicles. The models are simple but sturdy with just a few pieces and with some clever building solutions. 

The two RASC companies for the 1st AD are now finished with these Bedford OY-3.

Two different canvas tilts are provided for extra variety. 

Another vehicle for high command in the form of this Humber Heavy Utility Staff Car.

Finally these Bedford MWD 15-cwt. Three are necessary for a RF! regular British infantry battalion. 

Next: Part four of Arnhem oddities.