Friday, 29 January 2021

Rapid Fire! Operation Barbarossa and beyond in 20mm- A few more vehicles for the 'Panzer Grey' period.

In USSR, mid 1942, a German column stops close to an orchard for the crews to fill their bellies with plums. 

Inside the column is the famous Kurt Knispel, a Sudeten German of Salisov that is still the highest scorer tank ace of history with at least 168 confirmed  kills both as gunner and tank commander. In this picture Kurt Knispel was still a gunner inside this '301' Tiger I E. Later he would became a tank commander and use other Tigers and King Tigers. It was in one of the later that he died in 28 of April 1945, aged 23, surrounded by Soviet tanks not far from its birth place, in Urbau, Czechoslovakia. He was an interesting character, definetly not a Nazi (nor a 'pure' German), with longer than usual hair and a goatee. These two characteristics, together with the fact of assaulting an SS soldier whom he saw mistreating Soviet POWs, never let him have more than the German Cross and the Unteroffizier rank, even with a tank kill record superior to Wittman, Barkmann or Otto Carius. 

This Tiger was painted with  the symbols of the s.Pz.Abt.503. and believed to have been  Knispel's first Tiger. Later when using the first model of the King Tiger in Normandy he only destroyed two allied tanks and a few other vehicles due to an environment not as favourable for his admirable skills and his heavy tank.  

The model is an old and half broken Airfix model. It received several new parts from the slightly bigger Hasegawa Tiger like the Rommel kisten, commander's hatch, headlights, smoke dischargers and engine cooling and exaust parts.

Also some extra wheels were added as they were missing in the original model. They are solid steel wheels of a later version so they were covered in paste to hide the difference.

These two PzIV are Hasegawa, and F2 to the left and a later G model with PSC commander. 

The PzIV F2 got a few extras from PSC.

Same with the PzIV G. I place my antennas inside a small EverGreen rod for extra strenght.

This Armourfast PzIII G had plenty of details added as, even if well proportioned, could have been a more detailed model in the way PSC makes theirs. 

My idea with these tanks is to make a pool of different models of the PzII,III and IV for the 'Panzer Grey' period of 1941-42 so they can be used with many different units. 

The Armourfast model with all its detail added before priming. 

These two die-cast VW joined the German Army in the Eastern Front after having one tyre in North Africa. Fortunately, and thanks to the lovely RF! FB groups , it could be concluded that no VW ever went to the DAK. 

The VWs started their commercial lifes in a local bazaar and sported the later bigger rear windshield which were remodelled with paste. The cargo on top is a mix of two component paste and small bits and pieces copying the one you can see in the German Tank Units in the Eastern Front 41-42 supplement by Master Richard. 

Finally three Krupp Kfz70 from BPM 3d prints were added to the France 1940 collection and its 7th PD. They were left without the brown camouflage so they can give a hand in the Eastern Front even if the green jackets of the figures betrays them as early war models. The figures, stowage and Mg34s are PSC from its very useful stowage set.

Next: The new ACW Epic miniatures. 

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Rapid Fire! Normandy 1944 in 20mm - The Tigers of Panzer Lehr


Again close to the Forest of Jean Pierre-Papin, the heavy tanks of Pz-Kompanie (Fkl) 316 gather while waiting for the Borgward IV that the author of this post still doesn't have. In fact this picture, or anything close, probably never happened as between 6 or 10 Tiger I (or only 3...) apparently fought side by side with other units of Panzer Lehr while the 5 Tiger II of the first variant stayed behind at Chateaudun, more than 200 Km to the East from its division, plagued with numerous mechanical bugs. 


This post only happened due to extra readings while painting Simon's Soldiers  Lehr Pzgrenadiers and the casual two Tiger tanks in my stash. I found some very interesting threads like this one to make these models :

were you can find lots of information on these Pz Lehr Tigers and also the living proof that the Web can be a dangerous place for a fight as you can´t see your opponent. Second page of this thread is exceptional on giving detailed information on the actual fighting of the Tiger IIs against the American 3rd ACR in August.  

Also the next one is very rich on information on the famous 'Marle Tiger' for many years said to belong to the s.SS Pz.Abt.101 but more recently placed with the Fkl 316 attached to Pz Lehr:

This is the 'Marle Tiger'. It looked to be a late Tiger I E (no lateral headlights but maybe broken? ) with old refurbished wheels. 

For this model I used the Hasegawa Tiger I E late version with the older wheels also provided with the kit. 

I chose the number '12' for its action against US forces. The others possibilities were 02, 10, 11 and 13.

The King Tiger is the Revell model with the (wrongly) called 'Porsche' turret, very dangerous as it could trap an incoming shell by ricocheting  against the driver's roof due to its curved face. The second turret (also Krupp as the first turret) solved the issue with straight lines at the front. 

Frankly I already have enough of these miniatures in other units but the information above and the different camouflages and details made me built them.

Next: Germans at Barbarossa and beyond. 

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Rapid Fire! Market garden in 20mm - Oddities and such (part 12) - Mielke Panzer Company

Mielke Panzer company was part of Kampfgruppe Knaust and consisted of two PzIV (one Ausf G and one Ausf H) and six PzIII (Ausf F, G, H and M) on its arrival at Arnhem on the 18th of September 1944. This tank company came from Bielefeld and from the Panzer school of Pz Regiment 11, 6th PD. 

Masters Colin and Richard mention one PzIV and one PzIII on both RF! OMG supplements. Perfectly logical and balanced but, due to being tired of making PzIV, I used two PzIII for this company. Besides, using PzIII in late 1944 makes another distinguishable German unit due to the relative rarity of this tank by then.

The final push  for making this company was the excellent post from Mike´s Research Blog you can find here:

I used for these models the inevitable Concord book by Marcel Zwarts on the German Armour at Arnhem, The Squadron Signal book on the PzIII and some nice photos Piers Brand kindly  sent to me of his own Mielke Panzer Company.

I used an Armourfast kit for the PzIII Ausf. F(or G?...) and  a PSC for the PzIII Ausf. M. 

The pictures I found of the short gunned 50mm PzIII doesnt help much about finding the exact variant. Some mention Ausf F, others Ausf G. In fact the external differences between the two variants are very small: different driver's vision slot cover; signal port  in the Ausf F and different sliding covers in the turret cuppola. 

The kit is a bit incomplete so a few extra parts were added: rear engine cover and air vents...

...antenna resting place, several types of stowage...

... escape hatches on the hull (not used in later models), torsion bars, several tools including a Jack. The engine covers were also wrongly added as they were only present in the Ausf H model (the good news is that Mielke's Company also had the Ausf H so...).  

Armourfast models are nice and cheap. Its true that they are a bit on the undetailed side but with some work they can be turned into a nice piece. 

By having a few extra PzIII painted in the three colour scheme you can also beef up your forces for Kursk 1943, Sicily or Italy 43/44. 

The Ausf M was built straight from the PSC box, only with a pair of new lights on the fenders. The ones on the hull had to be carved out. 

The PSC model is far more complete than the Armourfast. 

I used plenty of extra tracks for protection. Not sure if these tanks had so many has they belonged to a Panzer school. 

This Panhard 178 A/C has nothing to do with Mielke's Panzer company and it belonged (or not...) to the 'Frundsberg' 10th SS Pz Recce battalion.

The model is a 3d print from MiniGeneral. This time some paste - Vallejo plastic putty - had to be placed all over some boring printing lines as this model is already a bit old in Pedro Pato´s catalogue. Even so its a very nice and simple to assemble model.

The usual extras - foliage, antennas and crew- and it was done. I chose the plain Dark Yellow colour after consulting the RF! FB groups were you can always have help from people who know what they are talking about. The figures and some of the stowage came from the PSC German Stowage Set were you get three sprues with dozens of useful pieces. 

Next: Tigers for Pz Lehr or France 1940.

Monday, 11 January 2021

Rapid Fire! Normandy 1944 in 20mm - Panzer Lehr grenadiers from Simon´s Soldiers

The personnel of the two battalions of the 901st Panzergrenadier regiment, plus two companies of the Aufklärungs battalion of the Panzer Lehr, gathers at the Forêt de Jean-Pierre Papin (don`t remember if I said this one or not...) to be briefed by Generalleutnant Fritz- Bayerlein himself. 

In my Mortain series I placed FJ soldiers together with the Panzer Lehr vehicles. This was true as Panzer Lehr was under II FJ corps control by August 1944 but the true reason for no grenadiers with Pz Lehr was simply because I was out of Grenadier battalions  having spent all my 12 1944 German infantry battalions, both Heer and SS, with other divisons (even so not the 16 necessary to play Op. Luttich from the German side). 

Panzer Lehr Division is a very visually distinctive unit in Normandy: all four Panzergrenadier battalions rode in Sdkfz 251 half-tracks and the number of tanks was also very high and even included three Tiger I and five Tiger II in the Funklenk unit (even if the Kingtigers were of the first design and left behind at Chateudun, close to Orleans due to malfunction). Another point of interest of Panzer Lehr was the uniform of the Panzergrenadiers which sported the same jacket as the Assault Gun battalion crews and this is the main reason for this post.

The figures are all Simon Soldiers and really beautiful they are. The detail is first class and you have a lot of different poses to man all sort of weapons in a Lehr Panzergrenadier unit. At first I looked to the Valiant Normandy Germans but only 2/3 poses can really be Lehr Grenadiers so I turned to Simon´s Soldiers from Australia. 

The detail encouraged me to paint even the smaller details of the uniform. But that is an easy task as the detail is crisp and easy on the brush. 

The same two poses from above. Both figures act together with the firer carrying the MG42 and the ammo box and the other carrying the accessory box.

Two figures from the Aufklärungs Abt. with an elegant officer and a figure with a PSC Panzerfaust on its back. 

More figures for the Aufklärungs Abt. with the same solution for extra Panzerfaust.

Due to some bad maths I ordered too many figures with rifles (hence the Aufklärungs figures) and too little with LMG´s and Panzerfausts so some also got a MG42 from the PSC stowage set. This one was placed on the back of  two of them in Rambo style.

The individual stowage of each figure is nicely and realistic built. 

Another pose provided for the MG42. 

Some poses also sport the camouflaged helmet cover. 

One of the two types of Panzerfaust figures. 

This time I even placed the chevrons of the Unteroffizier is the figures with the MP40. 

The MMG group. Four of them are necessary for the two RF! battalions... 

...and two of these 81mm mortar stands. 

Panzerschreck team. 

Battalion HQ stand. Plenty of action and details in a small 4cm diameter base. Here the plastic antennas were drilled into the metal of the radios.

While looking for information on the Panzer Lehr I read that each of the Sdkfz 251 carried a Panzerschreck. With the order to Australia already on and Simon Ford speadily sending the parcel it was too late to order two extra Pzschreck and so I converted these four figures from PSC by cutting the M42 jacket in the waist area and adding some lapels with GreenStuff in two of the figures. Like this there are two of these stands in each battalion instead of one as Masters Colin and Richard say in the Normandy Battlegroups. Not sure if my option is correct but if the story of one Pzschreck per Half-track is true, even two will not be enough. In fact many places indicate an unusual  high number of AT portable weapons provided to the Lehr grenadiers. 

Next: more Germans for OMG or the Tigers for Panzer Lehr.