Saturday, November 30, 2013

Painting Cold War Danes

In keeping with my projected 1981 LANDJUT campaign, I've already talked about my method of painting East Germans, so now let's cover the Danish Army. 

During this period, Danish vehicles were painted green with black bands:
Which looked very similar to British Army vehicles:
The difference being that the Danish green is a brighter shade than the bronze green used by the British. So I've chosen Vallejo Reflective Green (890), as it looks a very close match. Then the usual khaki-grey dry-brushing, painting of details, and bright bits of "bling".

In the early 80's, the Danish Army operated 12 American-built OH-6A Cayuse observation helicopters, which were painted an overall blackish green:
So the choice of color is easy, Vallejo Black Green (980). Beginning in the mid-80's, Danish helicopters were painted to match the vehicles:

Camouflage uniforms weren't issued to Danish troops until 1984. Prior to that, the official color was "dark olive green", but if you look at photos, it was more of an olivish dark khaki:
I find Vallejo English Uniform (921) to be about right. Danes were known for having helmets that were shaggy with grass, etc as camouflage, so I glue a bit of green flock to their helmets (in 6mm. In 3mm, it's not worth the bother). In 1981, Danish Home Guard units were still wearing an odd mixture of WWII British and US equipment; battle smocks and Bren guns mixed with M1 Garands and US M1 steel helmets. 

Here are a couple of my Danish stands. A section of 105's:
And a troop of Leopard I a1a1's:

I think the Danes are one of the most interesting armies of the period. Their equipment was a hodge-podge of West German, British, and American equipment. And as it wasn't all that large an army, it's easy to assemble the entire Jutland Division in 1/600!! More from me soon!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A bit of scratch-building and a bus station

Happy Thanksgiving to all (two days early)! I've got another damned cold! I can't catch a break this season.

Anyway, I was watching my favorite short YouTube wargaming video again and there's a scratch-built CNN truck in it. Here are a couple of stills I took:
It looks to be made out of a GHQ British Leyland DAF T244 truck:
So, I decided if he can do it, so can I. The only bit I'm not sure about is the steps on back. He did a damned good job on those. Anyway, I took one of the same model and spackled the sides and back with green putty to smooth out the canvas pattern. More on this later in a future post.

In other news, my z-scale train station that's now a bus station is finished:
Now I need to extend some sidewalk/curbing out from the front for bus stances. These Faller buildings don't go together as smoothly as the ones by Kibri or Vollmer. It was quite fiddly and a bit of a pain in the ass to get put together. My tiny German town is named "Winzigstadt", which translates to "Tiny Town" in English, so I had to replace the town name on the station. 

This is day one of my four day holiday weekend, so more from me as things progress. Enjoy your turkey!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

It's too cold to go out!! Let's paint!!

A cold, windy, drizzly weekend, which means it's great "staying in and painting" weather. I've had a couple of shipments arrive this week. The first is from Leven Miniatures in England. This is a small company that makes really great 6mm buildings. I bought a large brewery:
A malting house:
And two sets of stone walls:
I'm really impressed with the castings, which require only a bare minimum of tidying up on my part. Very attractively priced too. 

Next, on eBay, I found a small z-scale train station made by Faller, which I got for a steal:
I actually don't think I'll use it as a train station, as for that I want something a bit more imposing, but I think it'll make an excellent bus station!! Add a few stances and some buses that I already have:
It'll look great (hopefully)!!

The 3mm East German BTR-60PB's are also coming along nicely:
I'll have a whole company finished today, all going according to plan (which it generally doesn't).

Monday, November 18, 2013

Painting East Germans

Today, a small shipment of WarPac equipment (BTR-60PB's, infantry, etc.) arrived from Picoarmor, so this seems like a good time to talk about how I paint my 3mm and 6mm East Germans. 

Let's begin with vehicles. In the time-frame I'm modeling (1981), the various Warsaw Pact militaries had yet to begin applying camouflage to their armor or softskins. Everything was painted an overall green. Which green depended on which country. Every WarPac army had it's own version, which is handy, as it helps me identify different minis on the table. The East Germans used a fairly bright green, Panzer Olivgrün (RAL 6003): 
Luckily, no agonizing paint mixing is necessary. Model Master makes the exact shade and it even has the same name! Of course, the above photos are from a museum that keeps the vehicles freshly painted. I apply a black wash after the olivgrün to represent the coating of dirt and grime every vehicle has in the field. For black washes, I much prefer to mix it using an enamel. Mine is 1:1 Humbrol Black (#33) and good old paint thinner. I then lightly drybrush the vehicle with Vallejo Khaki Grey (#880).

Tracks are a point where Eastern Bloc vehicles differ from their western counterparts. Steel made in the West has a high iron content and so when it rusts, we see the light burnt orange "rust" color that we're all familiar with. However, Soviet-made steel (and also that made in other WarPac countries) was/is quite high in molybdenum, the rust from which is a much darker brown or burnt sienna color. Luckily, Vallejo makes the perfect shade in its Panzer Aces line. It's called Dark Rust (#302). After I paint the tracks with it, I liberally dry-brush them with Vallejo Oily Steel (#177) and then even more liberally with a Stone Mountain Miniatures Colors Paint called Mud (#C57). It's really a great line of paints, especially the different earth colors. I dab the lower half of the vehicle with this mud paint. If you have ever seen armored vehicles going cross-country, you'll know why:
Any vehicles with tires, I use Vallejo Panzer Aces Dark Rubber (#306) and all windows and windshields get Vallejo Black Grey (#862). Any headlights or searchlights each get a dot of silver. Infrared searchlights get a dot of Vallejo Game Color Ultramarine Blue (#022) and then (for 3mm) I apply a small white line to each side of the turret represent the vehicle number: 
(These are 4 tanks to a platoon stand, as they'll be part of a panzer battalion assigned to a motor rifle regiment). For 6mm, I use white number decals. 

As for infantry uniforms, because of the oddly-shaped East German M56 Stahlhelm, there are no perfect choices for figures, but for 3mm, it's too small to really be an issue:
For 6mm, a bit of judicious filing on the helmet can usually get it into a more appropriate shape. 

In this period, in the field, East German troops wore a uniform with a camouflage pattern called Strichtarn; a greyish khaki with small brown lines:
For the uniform, at these small scales, the brown lines would be totally invisible, so I don't bother with them. I just paint the tunic and trousers Vallejo Khaki Grey (#880) and the boots black. Many modelers say they paint the helmet bronze green, but I've never seen the real thing in any color but a mid gray:
So I use Vallejo London Grey (836). More often than not, the troops wore Strichtarn helmet covers:
But I like the way the grey helmets look and it helps me differentiate my East Germans from my other WarPac troops. 

So, that's my method. Nothing too complicated or time-consuming. Some wargamers seem to feel that the painting itself is the hobby. But for me, I want to get these things on the table and not spend ages trying to paint pupils in their tiny eyes!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Gerlach Tower and thoughts on terrain boards

Gerlach Tower is now thankfully free of all flash and wayward blobs (some quite large) of casting resin and ready to have all the holes patched. However, I've had re-think. If you've ever used green hobby putty, it's a bit of a nightmare:
It's sticky, goopy, and stinks to high Heaven. It adheres tenaciously to every surface it meets, except the one you're trying to patch. You end up with a thick crust of it on your fingers, tools, and table, but none on your model. Its sole redeeming features are that it doesn't shrink in drying and it files very well afterwards. 

So, I've decided to try a bit of DAS air-drying clay:
It does shrink slightly, but it's much easier to control when wet. I've applied a few test patches and we'll see how it turns out:
If it doesn't work, I can always scrape it off and go back to green goop. 

While I was at the art supply store, I saw some artist's panels. It's a very thin sheet of canvas bonded to a piece of what appears to be 3mm (1/8") MDF that's been sanded and stained:
The price is very reasonable and it comes in four different sizes. This one is 12"x16" (30.5cm x 40.6cm) for $5. That turns out cheaper than the sheet styrene I've been contemplating!!  It will need a blast of polyurethane wood sealant to ensure it won't warp, but this thing has real terrain possibilities!! I'm still left with the dilemma of how to create different ground levels, but at least it's a cheaper option. 

PostScript: Now that the clay is dry, it just doesn't seem to hold on too well. So green goop it is. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Excited...and not

The "excited" part is a 1/285 building I ordered from DB Buildings (actually owned by LegionsIVHire) in Canada arrived today. It's a German building they call "Gerlach Tower":
I've searched the Internet for a real Gerlach Tower, but there doesn't seem to be one, so I assume it's an "imagination" piece. In any case, it's really nice, with lots of eye appeal! A bit pricey at $20, plus $10 shipping though. After currency conversion, it was still a shade over US$28. Still, a great addition to my German town. 

The "not" part stems from the fact that, after I took a good look at this thing, it's a pretty rough job of casting. Significant bubbling and honey combing:
And a LOT of resin seepage and pronounced seams:
Also, most of the windows are partially filled with resin, as are other small detail areas:
It's really a bit of a mess!!  Disappointing. I've ordered a couple of small things from them before, tents, shipping containers, etc, but this was the first full-blown building I've had from them. 

This will take several days to clean up to a presentable state before I can prime it, let alone begin painting. A lot of holes to fill in with green putty (the good old Squadron Shop!!). Why can't anything ever be easy? It would be a different matter if the thing was cheap. Damn!! Oh well, let's get to work....

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Habemus Ecclesiam!!

That's the best my poor Latin can do for "We have a church!" (If your Latin is any better, please do correct me).
My iPhone's crappy camera doesn't do justice to the weathering job (or anything else), but you get the idea. Now I need to order some stone walls to enclose the adjoining cemetary. 

In other news, I've finished some 1/285 self-propelled artillery for Vietnam. Two each of CinC's excellent M110's (foreground) and M107's (background):
No crews as yet, but I'll get there. 

I've also painted a few US Army vehicles for early 80's NATO v WarPac. I've used MERDC Europe summer verdant pattern, as that's what everything was painted when I was there:
Two M577's, one an ambulance version:
An M578 and an M88:
And finally, an M548 and an M163 Vulcan:
Only the ambulance has decals, as I don't remember a single vehicle with stars when I was stationed in Germany. Just small white vehicle I.D. numbers in the following pattern:

That's another weekend shot. See you next time!!