Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Bases: Infantry Unit Identification

I may have mentioned how Lloyd Nikolas' identifies his Crossfire infantry units using the terrain on the bases.

French Infantry Unit by Nikolas

Essentially, different base detailing differentiates between units: a type of bush, fallen log, boulder, etc. I do use a boulder to denote any command element, be it platoon or section but each foot unit has a different initial paint colour on the base and different type of flock added, which is what I've been working on this week.

Differing bases for each platoon

There are twelve German platoons altogether, including cavalry, Fallschirmjager, Schutzen, cycle, motorcycle, motorized & foot. The cavalry has mounted and dismounted figures but no riderless horses (yet!). Cycle infantry have a few token chaps on bikes. Assembled together like this it looks a bit of a motley collection but on a fully terrained-up tabletop with it's various muted shades, the bases fit in and as intended enable easy differentiation.

Elements which do not move about in units much or risk getting mixed up with others (support weapons, artillery, dispatch riders) have a default 'makeover' of Humbrol 150 with a 'grass' mix of flock added. That being said, artillery troops and heavy mortar sections are going to have an identifying sprig of lichen, tuft of reeds or fallen tree trunk, as are their corresponding spotters, to indicate their parent troop.

I may have to slosh a bit of matt varnish over the figures in the photographs...

Monday, 20 April 2015

Lead & Resin Molehill

Looking forward to The Joy of Six show in July, it occurred to me that I had better get the stuff painted that I bought last year before the inevitable happens and more is added to the relatively small pile that has been languishing in the other half's tupperware pots since then.

German, French & Fallschirmjager Platoons; aircraft & buildings

I spent half a day trying to work out what all the LMG, AT rifle and extra Heroics & Ros strips of standing or kneeling gun crews were supposed to be once painted and based up into what.

Needs filling, painting & flocking
My infantry command groups (officers, or other section leaders) are formed into groups of a leader plus 3 of the other ranks, like the groups of 4 other ranks which they lead. This rifle group thing is a carry over from my use 35 years ago of the WRG 1925-1950 rules which conveniently obviated the moving of individual riflemen by grouping sections on one tiddlywink base. I liked the lumping together of the combat effect of a section. After all, I am not concerning myself with the minutiae of a 54mm skirmish game! Platoon LMGs, AT rifles & 2" mortars are based separately in teams.

I use a bit of artistic licence with my artillery observers in this respect as well. In the excellent "Return Via Dunkirk" by Gun Buster (aka Richard Austin, I believe) the battery spotter author is invariably alone atop some church tower or chateau rooftop skylight but mine as a matter of course include a figure usually with binoculars, radio operator and the luxury of two grunts on lookout. That way they could at least get off some effective fire before scarpering from advancing enemy  recce units, if it came to that.

Anyway, that is why I have all these standing or kneeling gun crews holding shells painted like rifles, or erstwhile Panzerschreck operatives disarmed by X-Acto blade into wielding small Nelson-esque spotting telescopes, if such things were even used in this way in 1940. (It doesn't matter to me if spotters actually used telescopes: I just need to know it is an observer element). Also the Heroics & Ros PIAT strips contain 3 prone operators and 2 marching figures so all these are being painted as German MG34s as I need an extra bunch of these for Fallschirmjager and Motorcycle platoons.

+ kneeling guncrew
I have a bit of a mish-mash of various poses and methods of distinguishing between AT rifles and LMGs. For instance, early H&R infantry only had prone Bren or MG34 teams so for the Germans, prone MG34s have an ammo belt feed on the model which is carved away for the PzB38; for the British, Brens are converted into Boys by filing off the curved mag and fixing a bit of plasticard with an angled top to resemble the Boys mag but the differences aren't easy to spot on the table. Later castings had marching figures with a weapon over the shoulder and assistant carrying ammo cases. But it turns out for the Germans I have the exact number of the converted PIAT/kneeling spotter teams as I have Panzerbusche. That's the Germans sorted then, all of the German AT rifles will be in that configuration and all the others will be MG34s.

German Cavalry Group
The painting standard is alright for my purposes, skill, patience and eyesight and the samples here are just a random selection. There may be better (or worse!) examples. Another get-out clause for me is that a lot of my miniatures were painted when I was younger and could have cared less about detailing, not that the internet was invented then and I was unaware of what could be acheived. To repaint earlier efforts would lose much detail so a little drybrushing of highlights will have to suffice. I'll update when this batch of figures (and Matilda Is, Morris ACs and probably a lorry or two) is painted & based.

Imagining battle activity for me is less about micro detail and linked more to unit performance, luck and the unfolding narrative.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Heroics & Ros new website

Featuring search facility, account login and shopping cart, this is quite an improvement over the Acrobat catalogue we had to pore over previously.

I look forward to more model images being added, the "image not available" avatar appearing against most of the product lines, unfortunately.

For a better idea of how things will look, do a search for 'Renault' as there are quite a lot of WW2 French tanks with images already uploaded or browse the WW2 French tanks, artillery or other vehicle categories.

Char 2C