Sunday, 27 September 2020

Rapid Fire! NW Europe 44/45 - 101st US Airborne - 2nd battalion done and some more air support and transport to go along

To go along the release of the new RF Market Garden supplement here comes  the 2nd battalion of the Screaming Eagles and some aircraft to celebrate. 

The second Battalion of the 501st PIR, 101st Airborne division is more of the same with Revell, Esci and SHQ and one lonely Airfix. 

For the command, mortars and bazooka stands I used a few more normal GI with new trousers pockets and changed helmets with the help of GW GreenStuff.

The three Browning stands had bipod changed MGs, something I made wrong in the previous battalion as pointed out by Alan McCoubrey. I used parts of the tripod to make the correct version of the 30 cal. A small Evergreen triangle was added as the MG wooden butt and glued to the firer's shoulder.

The 30 cal. stands are not easy to stay correctly inside the 4cm round bases so the boots and weapons that stayed out were brushed with a thick layer of gloss varnish for extra resistance before aplying the black primer coat. 

The figures are Esci but the guns are Revell as the original ones ended up somewhere in tanks or jeeps.

The bazooka teams used changed Esci GIs again. The loader is the Revell figure firing the M1 carbine and now is a bazooka loader with a Hasegawa rocket. 

The 81mm mortar stand is made of a SHQ figure and two Esci transformed GIs. The 60mm stand is the same and the tube itself is the old Airfix Stokes mortar cut in half with a new support (a left over of the 30 cal. Greta Thunberg will be happy with all this recycling).  

The command stands have one more officer recruited from the infantry (left, from the Revell infantry box with GreenStuff added details), a SHQ figure with a Thompson, and in the right stand the venerable and smaller radioman from Airfix paras in 1/76th scale. Well, no one is forced to be Revell-tall !

A company of US paratroopers from this new battalion based on Esci, Revell and SHQ figures. No not yet the "Easy company" of Spielberg's fame, for that you will have to wait for the 506th Regiment still many posts away.

This Revell DC-3 Dakota was painted years ago but only now is getting famous. I have another from Airfix, maybe some 40 years old, that will soon make company to this one. 

All markings were painted by hand as I wanted one for D-Day. Sugar Babe itself became a bit chunkier but I´m sure she will find pretenders in those guys who like "things bigger than the size of hand". 

The reason for the Airfix model is still not built has to do with not knowing which damn Green colour I used on the Revell model. To make things worse all I remember is using a mix of colours!

Number 2 of the Luppa collection already came out and its this nice Mustang P-51B, the correct version for ground attack in 1944. Unfortunately the bombers of this collection are 1/144 or 1/200 scale as I suspected.  So only a few more fighters will be acquired as at 10 euros the deal is not that good. 

Lastly, for a bit of nostalgia, I found these almost 40 years old photographs of my first solo wargame: defending Bastogne you can see some blue-grey clad (?) US paratroopers with a very old M-36 Jackson from Fujimi (what???). The card houses are long gone but the plastic ones are still alive. 

The first wave of probing attackers are Matchbox Pumas and Esci 250s with ghost infantry from an unknown origin. Coming along are those strange models from Atlantic: an oversized Kettenkraftrad towing a weird AA bathtub with wheels... I was thinking in those days everything was pretty accurate if made in a factory. No more pictures of this game unfortunatly as probably I got too excited for that.

Next: More Dieppe. 

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 words after looking at them are "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 in 20mm (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 10€, 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 of 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.