Completed my WW2 colonial French army

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Well, that’s it, I’ve finished painting my 28mm WW2 colonial French army  for Bolt Action wargaming (click picture to enlarge).

In the picture above, you can see in the front row:

  • an infantry squad of 6 men (4 rifles, 1 sub-machine gun, 1 VB grenade launcher)
  • a prone 2-man light machine gun crew
  • the commanding officer and his aide
  • an advancing 2-man light machine gun crew
  • another 6-man infantry squad as per the first one.

These are all Perry Miniatures figures.

In the background are:

  • a 75mm artillery piece with four crew (Perry Miniatures)
  • an R35 tank (Neucaft Models)
  • a Laffly AMD50 armoured car (Mad Bob Miniatures)
  • a Dodge Tanake armoured truck (Perry Miniatures)
  • two Berliet VUDB personnel carriers (Mad Bob Miniatures).

At the back is my desert terrain. After buying the wooden 4Ground model on the right, I later bought the two plastic kitsets on the left by Renadra to compare it with, intending to choose one manufacturer and sell off the other.  But I feel they actually go together quite well, so I’ve to decided to keep them all!

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Here’s the commanding officer of my detachment. He’s a brisk looking chap with his dapper beard and jaunty kepi, his neck wrapped in the local scarf favoured by Legionnaires.

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On the left is the advancing light machine gun crew. Beside them is one of the six-man infantry squads, including a Legionnaire firing a sub-machine gun on the far right. One of the obscured men in the back row is armed with a rifle grenade.

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Here’s the other infantry squad. The third man from the left is armed with the VB rifle-grenade launcher, whilst the fifth man carries a sub-machine gun at his hip.

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A closer look at the Perry 75mm artillery piece. I have left four areas of the base clear of texturing, so that I can simply glue-tac the figures on. This means they can be easily removed as casualties. It also allows me to replace the gun crew – for example, some of these gunners wear French helmets for Vichy or pre-war colonial action, but I could replace them with figures wearing British-style helmets for Free French.

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The Dodge Tanake now has a crew. It looks hot work on that open back under the burning desert sun.

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So that’s it – the French are ready for action. No doubt in the best traditions of wargaming, as an newly-painted army they’ll suffer a crashing defeat!

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Filed under 4Ground, Mad Bob Miniatures, Neucraft Models, Perry Miniatures, Uncategorized, WW2

‘Wargames Illustrated’ articles about Chunuk Bair diorama – in full!

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To mark Anzac Day, you can now download two illustrated articles describing the amazing story of last year’s massive Chunuk Bair diorama project for The Great War Exhibition in Wellington.

The publishers of Wargames Illustrated have kindly agreed to let the diorama project’s Mustering The Troops blog put up two full articles that first appeared in their August 2015 issue.

  • Wargaming’s Stunning Achievement: The Chunuk Bair Diorama describes how the project was conceived, and how Sir Peter Jackson (director of the Lord of the Rings movies) inspired the wargaming community throughout New Zealand to join together and paint thousands of figures within a very tight schedule.
  • The Perry Perspective was written by Michael Perry, one of the famous Perry twins, the British sculptors engaged to produce the figures for the diorama.  He provides his fascinating insight into how this unique project came together, and the adventures they had in New Zealand to get everything done in time.

Click this link to download a PDF containing both articles in full: Wargames Illustrated_Chunuk Bair [8.51MB].

 

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Review of Neucraft Models Renault R35 tank

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The latest addition to my 28mm WW2 colonial French army is this diminutive Renault R35 light tank. This resin model by Neucraft Models is a little beauty.

This was a relatively well-armoured infantry support tank, but slow (only 12mph) and lacking in good antitank-capacity, being fitted with only a low velocity short-barrelled 37 mm gun.

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The model is really crisp and detailed, as you can see in the picture. I chose to paint it in camouflage scheme of ‘milky coffee’ and two shades of green. The decals are by Gaso-Line.

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The model is made up of several parts, including the body, separate track units, turret and about a dozen small detail pieces, which all fit together absolutely perfectly.

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The hatch at the back of the turret can be opened and closed.  I added a French tank crewman by Warlord Games.

Comparing the size of this figure with the vehicle, you can see how small the two-man R35 really was – not that much bigger than a modern four-wheel-drive!

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The model comes with two interchangeable turrets, so you also use it as the later type R35 with the long-barrelled SA38 37mm gun.

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So that completes the vehicle fleet for my army. Next task – painting the French Foreign Legion infantry to accompany them into battle on the table-top.

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4Ground’s Middle Eastern house kit

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The sleepy oasis of Sheesh-ki-Baab is disturbed by the rumbling of engines as a French motorised column passes through.

Painting of vehicles for my WW2 colonial French army has paused whilst I’ve concentrated on starting some desert scenery for them to fight over. First project off the blocks has been this 4Ground wooden kit of a Middle Eastern dwelling.

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As with the 4Ground Japanese buildings that I’ve also built, this kit was an absolute joy to put together. The miniature engineering that goes into what appears on the outside a very simple building is surprisingly complex, but all the pieces fit superbly.

The front door and the trapdoor in the roof can open and shut.  The roof itself is removable so that figures can be placed inside the building.

The kit comes pre-coloured. The only thing I did was touch up some of the stones around the roof-line, and disguise the corner joints by painting any visible edges in matching colours.

The entire project took only a couple of hours max!

By the way, the palm-trees are cheap plastic cake decorations (!) from my previous Pirates project.

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Filed under 4Ground, Terrain, Uncategorized, WW2

WW2 colonial French ‘Dodge Tanake’

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The latest addition to my WW2 colonial French army is a Dodge Tanake, seen here leading an unlikely column along a road somewhere in North Africa (‘unlikely’, as some of these vehicles never saw concurrent service with each other in real-life).

The Perry Miniatures model is delightful, bringing to life this curious vehicle. It went together well, with all parts fitting superbly.

I painted my Tanake as a French Foreign Legion vehicle, using this amazing radio control model (albeit somewhat larger scale) as a painting-guide.

I didn’t have any French Foreign Legion decals, but managed to produce the ace of spades door insignia by applying two different Gaso-Line decals on top of each other. I then dry-brushed them with sand colour to tone them into the battered paintwork.

You’ll see that after I took the header picture for this article, I realised the white outlining didn’t stand out against the sand background colour. So I added some light pencil outlines around the white, as seen in the picture below.

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In terms of my painting, this one has probably turned out my least favourite so far of the four vehicles I’ve completed. The camouflage was quite fiddly, and in the end I don’t think I have done it justice.

The weathering and dust effect didn’t carry off as well as my other vehicles. I feel that it looks more like a rather badly painted and battered model, than a real vehicle that has been weathered by sand and sun. Still, being only the fourth WW2 model  I’ve ever painted, I can’t expect expert results immediately!

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Edit (following day): I was really bothered by the way the paint-job turned out, so today I made some adjustments.  I narrowed the white lines, changed the sand colour to a slightly darker ‘milky coffee’ hue, and added some black marks to indicate chipping.  I’m much happier with it now (see the pic below):

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Anyway, four vehicles down – just the R35 tank and the 75mm artillery-piece to go, then I’ll start on the Legionnaires themselves. This will include the three crew and the driver of the Tanake, who should really bring this strange vehicle to life.

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A business shirt for a Laffly AMD 50 armoured car

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Desert patrol! The boxy shape of my newly painted Laffly AMD 50 armoured car leads a couple of Berliet VUDB personnel carriers into the far reaches of Morocco.

Doing justice to Mad Bob Miniatures’ wonderful model of the Laffly, was (as I thought it was going to be) quite a challenge, as I’ve never pained a camouflage pattern before. This is only the third-ever ‘modern’ vehicle I’ve even painted, generally being a dyed in the wool horse-and-musket wargamer.

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I had quite a number of different real-life colour-schemes to select from. I liked this particular one, not only because of the complex pattern of wavy lines, but also the colourful insignia.

I painted the model overall dark green first, then added the black and tan camouflage colours. This was followed with an ink wash, then numerous dabs of paint with some foam packing material.

I used an AK-Interactive WW1 French paint set, but must say I was pretty disappointed with the poor coverage of these paints, even if shaken for ages. On a black background, it took many coats for the colour to really show, and on a light background even multiple coats still looked translucent.

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I wanted my finished armoured car to look faded and battered, as if it had done many long patrols under the harsh desert sun and biting sandstorms of North Africa. Hopefully I’ve succeeded – though I’m not 100% sure if it does actually look like a real care-worn  vehicle, or just like a badly painted model?!

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Also, I learned a valuable lesson – never squeeze an AK-Interactive bottle too hard if the paint won’t come out … because eventually it will, explosively! My armoured car’s paint job might have cost me a good business shirt!

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WW2 colonial French Berliet VUDBs

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As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve started painting my WW2 colonial French vehicles.  Over the weekend, I got all the prep work completed. So today after work, I couldn’t resist getting out my paint-brushes and finishing two of the models – the two Berliet VUDB armoured personnel carriers by Mad Bob Miniatures (click on the pictures to see them larger).

As described by Martin Windrow in Military Modelling March 1981 (see, saving old those old MM magazines from my teenage years has paid off!), the VUDB was ‘a four-wheel drive car bearing a strong resemblance to a hearse … guns could be mounted in any of four ports at front, back and sides. With a crew of three and a box of grenades, these underpowered but reliable old buses proved their worth many times over’.

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I’ve never painted WW2 vehicles before, so this was a novel exercise for me. I checked out some painting sites on the internet, and in the end went for a technique which uses old foam packing sponge to dab different colours on top of each other. Combined with ink washes, this worked out really well for these rather plain drab-coloured vehicles (though I wonder if it’ll work as well when I get more ambitious with my next vehicles and paint them with camouflage patterns).

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I painted the commander with the colourful sky-blue and red kepi of the 1er Chasseurs d’Afrique. The badges on the sides of the VUDBs aren’t actually from this unit, as the French decal set I bought from Gaso-line didn’t include them – but the 16e Dragoons ‘pegasus’ isn’t too far from the Chasseurs d’Afrique centaur, so will have to do for now.

I just can’t decide if I’ll attach my vehicles onto desert-terrained bases.  There are advantages of durability to do so, and off the table I think vehicles look good on bases.  But on the wargaming table, they can look a bit silly, especially if the bases don’t match the terrain being fought over.  Anyway, that’s a decision that can wait for now …

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By the way, the apparent desert ‘terrain’ in these photos isn’t.  It’s just my kitchen bench!

 

 

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Filed under Mad Bob Miniatures, Uncategorized, WW2