Friday, September 26, 2014

Making a start on Bundesmarine aircraft

I received a small shipment from Dom's Decals today, in amongst which was a pack of four 1/600 Tumbling Dice F-104 Starfighters, which I intend to paint as West Germans and divide equally between the Bundesmarine and the Luftwaffe. 

West Germany occasionally used their Starfighters in the interceptor role, which is what they were designed for, but the vast majority of use was as a fighter-bomber. The German fleet of F-104's were virtually all G models:
The G being an attempt by Lockheed to improve (or more likely to obscure) the aircraft's appallingly poor flight characteristics at low speed and low altitude. If there was ever an aircraft that was less suited to the ground attack role, I can't think of it. Perhaps a 747. West Germany lost 292 out of 916 F-104's to various accidents, generally related to low level, low speed ground attack training. That's 32.88%! Other countries that used the G model had similarly high loss rates, from 30%-40%. Those countries that used the Starfighter solely as a high altitude interceptor experienced a much lower loss rate. 

As an aside, a grim joke that was common in West Germany in the 1960's and 70's was "What's the best way for a civilian to obtain ownership of a Starfighter? Buy a small plot of land and wait". It's interesting to note that Lockheed was eventually found guilty of bribing quite a number of European, Asian, and Arab politicians in order to get the F-104 purchased by their respective governments.

The TD models really are very good and fairly free of flash, defects, etc.:
Just a minor molding seam and a few casting vents, all of which are easily removed. After fitting the one-piece horizontal stabilizer assembly (a slightly fiddly process), this is what you get:
It's probably a C model, as it doesn't have the extra large rudder fitted to the G:
which was an attempt to give the pilot more control during low-level flight. As you can see, it extended well past the afterburner nozzle. I'll use them as a G. In this small scale, it's not noticeable. 

The West Germans used the F-104 in the Bundesmarine as a maritime strike aircraft, armed with Kormoran anti-ship missles, though all Navy pilots were cross-trained to also operate against land targets,:
as well as in the Luftwaffe as a ground attack aircraft:
As you can see, the Germans applied a fluorescent orange to the wing tanks as an aid to increase visibility from the ground and yet painted the aircraft in a camouflage scheme. Is it just me or is that...umm...stupid? Needless to say, I don't keep international orange paint lying about, so I'll have to order some before I can finish these models. 

I'll paint the Luftwaffe jets in a standard Norm 72 
that I've discussed before when I was painting Alpha Jets. The Starfighters were camouflaged on the upper surfaces only and the lower surfaces remained in bare, but not polished, aluminum. For the Marine, I'll use their Norm 76, which was basalt grey upper surfaces, though a slightly darker shade than was used by the Luftwaffe (until it faded). Lower surfaces were again in bare aluminum:
which became lightly oxidized fairly quickly and thus generally appeared to be a light grey. I must say, I'm very tempted to use a very pale light grey paint, however, I'll try some aluminum first and see how I like it. 

For the "MARINE" decal, I'll simply chop the S off a couple of American "MARINES" decals and there we go:

Here are two of my four Starfighters on their flight stands, primed and ready to be painted for the Bundesmarine and then have their stands textured and flocked:
(Sorry about my hand in there, but I needed a background to get the camera focused on the foreground.) 
I'll show you the finished products as soon as the necessary paints arrive in the mail!  More next time!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A bit more interactive?

A blog where things get painted:
and then you get to look at them is all well and good, but I think a bit more of an interactive experience would be good for both of us (you all and I).

So in that vein, if there is anything you'd like to see or discuss (apart from the garage door), please feel free to let me know. Obviously, things having to do with 1/600 Cold War (having been an actual Cold Warrior) and 1/285 Vietnam are my forté, but I can talk about most anything wargame-related. 

You're free to use the comments section or email me at 

East German 20th Motor Rifle Division, Part 2

I've started to put together a battalion of the NVA's 20th Motor Rifle Division, made up of older, outdated equipment, as would have been the case in reality, so I can swap it out with more up-to-date units or use it as a reinforcement. 

First off, let me say that my family is German and most still live there (in Hessen, SE of Frankfurt a.M., though I was born in and grew up mostly in the US) and although my German sadly isn't as good as it ought to be, I can make my way in the language. Therefore, I am perfectly well aware that the East German Army had "Motorisierte Schützen Divisionen" and not Motor Rifle Divisions, as I am oft times reminded. However, English comes more naturally to me and for you purists, there is a translator on my blog, so we should all be good to go. 

As I've mentioned in a couple of different posts recently, the 20th was a reserve and training division and as such, it would have been fairly low down the pecking order for modern equipment. That having been the case, I've chosen the BTR-152 as the APC for two of the three infantry companies:
The later BTR-152K wasn't open-topped and had an armored roof:
And the BTR-152S was the command version:
O8 makes only the original open-topped model. With a bit of green putty, it's certainly possible to build up a high top to produce the command model, but these things are so small, I'm not sure it's worth the effort, as no one will see it. I may make a few K's and see how it goes. 

For the third company, I'll do two versions. One motorized in ZIL-157's:
and one in BTR-40's:
Again, so I can swap them out. The company mounted in the ZIL's will also get a GAZ-69 command vehicle:
In reality, by the early 80's, very few original GAZ's were left. It would actually be the UAZ-built version, the UAZ-69 or a version built under license by the Romanian company ARO. 

My battalion will get the standard platoons of AGS-17 Plamyas, AT-3 Saggers, and 120mm towed mortars, as well as an attached unit of T-34/85M's:

The early 1980's was a time of severe manpower and vehicle shortages in all WarPac armies. A motor rifle regiment was supposed to have an armored battalion attached, but very often a company was all that could be supplied and occasionally, only a platoon. Likewise, each armored regiment was supposed to have a motor rifle battalion, but often there was only a company. Attached artillery battalions, especially self-propelled ones, were frequently just a single battery. This was the case in many frontline units, so the situation in reserve units would have been worse yet. I'll reflect this with just one company of T-34/85M's for my battalion and here it is:

Had war really happened in the early 80's, I pity the poor bastards that would've crewed these museum pieces. The T-34/85M's potential armored opponents aside, NATO infantry were fairly lavishly supplied with a number of different antitank weapons that would've decimated these geriatric tanks. Even something as outdated as the M72 66mm LAW: 
would've made short work of a Korean War era tank. (Lord, the number of training rounds I've fired from those damned things!)

As my battalion takes shape over the next week or two, I'll let you see the progress. More next time!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Danish MANPADS and East German MT-LB's

I've been trying to finish off some odds and ends, so a bit of a mixed bag for this post. 

First off, Danish mechanized infantry units had no integral air defense, i.e. no MANPADS were issued to units below the brigade, or the independent regimental battlegroup, level. Each brigade held six 2-man Hamlet teams. Each team was mounted in a Land Rover, likely to be either an 88:
or a 109:
The teams were generally cascaded down, two to each infantry battalion in the brigade (two mechanized and one motorized). Two launchers are precious little air defense capability for an entire battalion!

The Danish Hamlet shoulder-fired missle was nothing but an American Redeye:
which was never known for its devastating effectiveness. Here's what my Hamlet teams look like:
I'll do three stands of two each to represent the six Hamlets. I've actually used O8's US two-man Stinger teams, but at 1/600 scale, it's impossible to tell one MANPADS from another. 

My second project is to provide some alternative prime movers for my East German 100mm antitank guns and 122mm D-30 howitzers. They were generally towed by a URAL-375D:
if they were attached to a motor rifle unit. However, if they were part of an armored unit, they generally would have had a tracked prime mover, which was most often an MT-LB:
Although Bulgaria used it as an APC, the East Germans seem to have used MT-LB's exclusively as prime movers:
All these are towing MT-12 100mm antitank guns. Given that the rear compartment wasn't exactly roomy at the best of times, I can't imagine that it could carry much ammunition with the gun crew already jammed in there. 

Here are my MT-LB's:
I'll do four stands, which is enough for two platoons of guns. 

O8's MT-LB isn't their best sculpt. As you can see from the above photos of the real thing, the MT-LB is quite squat and low to the ground. However, O8's version is noticeably too tall. Well, it'll have to do, but little details like that bother me. Damn that perfectionist gene!!

That's it for this post!!

Soviet airborne antitank company

This week I've been working on an antitank company for my small but slowly growing number of Soviet airborne and air-assault troops (the VDV).

In the early 1980's, the company would have consisted of a platoon of six towed 85mm D-48 antitank guns. Here's a very good short video of the D-48 firing:

In 1981 these guns were already outdated, but as you can see from the video, they did still pack quite a punch. They would've been towed by the airborne version of the GAZ-66:
Here's what each stand will look like, with slight variations in the GAZ-66 tarpaulins:

The company's second platoon would have been made up of six BRDM-2 Konkurs antitank vehicles. This one is Czech:
And this one is Hungarian:
The missle launchers fully retract into the hull:

This vehicle is very often erroneously referred to as a BRDM-3, which it definitely was not. A real BRDM-3:
was (and still is) a reconnaissance vehicle derived from the BTR-80AK.

And finally, the antitank company's commander would have been mounted in a BRDM-2U:

That's it for now. More next time!