Friday, October 30, 2009

Tommies and Tanks 1944

When I first got back into wargaming and modelling around 2002 my main interest was WWII, so here are some of the things I was making around that time. I had grand plans to make up some units of the British 7th Armoured Division and German 116th Panzer Division to wargame with, using the 'Panzermarsch!' rules put out by the Hull Wargames Society. This never really happened, but I've been reading Anthony Beevor's latest book on D-Day, and thinking that I might dust off the tanks and try to have a game of something. I've just ordered a copy of the 'Disposable Heroes' WWII skirmish rules to try out.

The tanks are Revell Cromwells. Lovely kits, but a real pain putting together all the individual links in the tracks. I wish HaT had put out their Armourfast Cromwells at the time I was making these.

The lead tank is a Centaur, made with a resin conversion kit from Leva Productions on a Revell hull. All the crew figures are from AB Figures.

As is my wont, I became obsessive about giving all the tanks the correct names and numbers that were carried by a squadron of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment (from 7th Armoured Division) in Normandy. I found a website that listed all these, but I can't find it any more. But I did find this site -
It has some big differences from the list I used, so there you go.

The supporting infantry are from AB Figures, painted up as the Rifle Brigade. If you look closely you may see the green shoulder tallies of and the black and red desert rat shoulder patch of the 7th Armoured Division. I love these AB Figures - incredibly lifelike poses that really look like the photos of British Tommies from 1944-5.

The camo netting was made from gauze bandage, airbrushed olive green. I then draped it around the tanks with liberal amounts of PVA glue. British camo netting had strips of hessian added to it, so I cut thin strips of paper and randomly glued them into the netting, finally painting them either black, dark green or olive.

Tank troops in the 1st RTR were made up of 3 Cromwells with a Sherman Firefly. I left the Fireflies out of these pictures, but will add them at some stage. My favourite Firefly rejoices in the name 'Wherezatiger'.

I don't know what it is about Cromwells, but I think they're great. Boxy. The Volvos of armoured warfare. Of course I never had to face Tigers and Panthers in one, thank god. I'm fascinated by the controversy over British tank design that broke out in Britain after D-Day - David Fletcher's 'Great Tank Scandal" is a good read about why their tanks were so inferior to most German designs. Anyway, I did enjoy meeting a Cromwell in the flesh, as it were, at Bovington Tank Museum.

The houses in the background are scratchbuilt from foamcore, but unfinished (especially the awful shutters). I was inspired to make these after coming across the great website belonging to one Nikolas Lloyd ( He has some brilliant tips about making wargaming terrain and buildings.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Erica's Egyptians

My magnificent 11 year old daughter Erica has started painting a New Kingdom Egyptian army for DBA. This makes her old dad very happy and proud. Here are some photos of the progress so far.

First up - she has finished 4 elements of Bows (apart from the bases). All the figures are from the great Egyptian sets by Caesar Miniatures.

The next ones on the production line are 4 elements of Blades. Here's how they are going so far.

Pretty good, eh?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I/52(e)/(f) Early Hoplite Greek DBA Army

I'm gradually putting up images of armies I've painted on this Blog, and this time it's the turn of the Early Hoplite Greeks. I painted these about 3 years ago. The figures are Zvezda, which are really nice although they insist on moulding designs on the shields. So I carved them all off (adding a few more scars to my thumb in the process) and painted on my own designs. This is an Athenian phalanx, so I added a scattering of alphas and triskeles (the triple running leg design) on the shields to give a sense of this. The DBA list for I/52(f) gives options for LH, Cv, Ax and Bw, so I plan to get around to adding these eventually. I also want to make a camp perhaps depicting Miltiades arguing with his fellow strategoi prior to the Battle of Marathon. For now however I present the unwieldly beast of a phalanx with a couple of elements of Psiloi in support.

Here they all are:

The general's element is on the right. Most of the shield designs were sourced from Athenian red and black-figure pottery, and I'm particularly pleased with the hydra and pegasus here.

The thetes (poorest citizen class in Athens) run out in front of the phalanx to harass the enemy.

I don't have a historical opponent for this army, but Early Achaemenid Persians and Corinthians are on my list...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wargaming Miniatures: The Case for 1/72 Scale

My favourite scale for wargaming and figure painting is 1/72 scale (20mm). This puts me in a minority in the wargaming fraternity, with most 'serious' wargamers playing in 15mm or increasingly in 28mm. At least this seems to be the case in Australia. So why 1/72 scale? Here are my top 10 reasons why 1/72 is the One True Scale.
  1. They are very cheap!
  2. Because the figures are cheap and easy to get hold of, 1/72 scale is good for the hobby. Buying a box of plastic figures to make an army makes historical wargaming accessible to young people who can't afford expensive metal figures. There are many teenagers who love history and would join the hobby with great enthusiasm if it was more open to them.
  3. In contrast to 15mm and smaller, 1/72 scale figures are large enough for me to enjoy painting them as individual figures.
  4. In contrast to 25mm and larger, 1/72 scale still allows the spectacle of a mass of figures on the table. Some of the new 28mm figures are great little works of art, but to my mind they don't simulate huge units of men as well as smaller scales.
  5. Plastic figures are easy and fun to convert. Need some Prussian mounted Jaegers in your army? No problem - just take the head of a Prussian infantryman and add it to the body of an Austrian dragoon. Or build your own Lord of the Rings armies by altering historical figures.
  6. By and large, 1/72 plastic figures are more realistic and anatomically correct than 15mm or 25mm metal figures. Certainly this is a generalisation - there are some awful plastic figures, and some fantastic metal ones. In my experience however many 'serious' wargamers field armies of figures that bear only a passing resemblance to human beings. The weapons of metal figures are also usually terribly over scale, with men carrying spears that seem to be the diameter of telegraph poles. Conversely, there are some fantastic manufacturers of metal miniatures in 1/72 scale that you can use to add to your armies (eg Art Miniaturen and AB Figures).
  7. The range of 1/72 figures available is vast and growing all the time. It is truly a Golden Age.
  8. With so many manufacturers of 1/72 figures, we are able to shop around for the best and best value figures. This is in stark contrast to games systems that are designed to limit the wargamer to a particular range of figures by demanding a less widely available scale. Flames of War is an example. By writing the rules for 15mm they make the customer dependent on their own quite expensive figures. Why not play FOW with 1/72 figures and models and enjoy a larger range of better models at a fraction of the price? And don't even get me started on Games Workshop.
  9. Metal figures bend and break and their paint flakes off. The newer plastic figures keep their paint better, and spears etc don't get bent.
  10. They really are VERY cheap.
Come on - join the revolution.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

III/51 Norman DBA Army

Furor Normanorum!

Here's my latest DBA army - the Normans. The first wargame figures I ever painted were 15mm Normans back in about 1986, so it was fun and nostalgic painting these. All figures are Strelets. I'm not entirely happy with how they turned out, but I was in a hurry to get them painted before the twins were born. This is the first in a series of 11th Century armies I'm painting up for a campaign, and they are supposed to be Normans in Sicily. Anyway, here they are:

8 Elements of Knights. I do like the way that all the Strelets figures are individuals, and show a greater diversity of clothing and weapons than just what is on the Bayeux Tapestry.

And some close-ups:

The dragon on the shield in the back line ended up looking cuter than intended...

Knights love to have a solid base of infantry to support them. Here are 2 elements of Spears, each supported by an element of Psiloi:

The DBA army list also allow the Psiloi to be replaced by Bows, so I made that option as well.

I love the guy with the shield. He looks like what he is - just a generation or so away from being a Viking.