Sunday, 22 May 2011

Tools of the Trade-MIG Filters

MIG Productions filters have become my one of my favourite products, for enhancing the appearance of model vehicles, and I've only used them so far on two different tanks.

I purchased the Allied and German filter sets after reading several reviews on the 'net', all of which spoke highly of this product. So far I have only used the Allied filter set. I got mine from Antenocitis Workshop. They are not cheap at £15.99 a set, in which you get three bottles. But I think worth the investment.

The filter should be applied after the initial base coat(s) have been applied and 'is used to enrich, unify and cause variations in the tone of a base colour'. And that's basically what they do. I just followed the instructions supplied in the packaging, and away I went. On the M5A1 I used just the BROWN filter for dark green and applied three coats. After the first coat I didn't notice any appreciable difference, but by the third coat you can see the filter taking effect, altering the tone of the paint. On the M4 Sherman I applied two coats of GREEN for light green and then one of BROWN, to slightly darken the overall effect.

The instructions recommend, 3 to 5 coats of the filter and allow at least two hours drying time between coats (it's worth it!). One aspect I struggled with initially with the filter is the idea it is not a wash.The filter should be applied with a damp brush, do not flood the model. Now on the Sherman I experimented with applying the GREY filter for bright green, on select areas, but I loaded the brush to much which resulted in 'pooling' and this looked messy when dry. I was able to re-work this, but was glad it was only on a small area. So far on each model I have coated the whole model (except tracks of course), but will experiment no doubt on future projects but adding successive coats to specific areas to see what effect this has on the appearance of the model. For example, using a couple of coats of GREEN filter overall, and then using the BROWN filter on parts of the tank, were the paint fading may not be so distinct (areas under shade).

These products are aimed at the 1/35th scale model tank society, but can obviously be applied to any scale. For further articles which can provide help, advice and inspiration look to Missing-Lynx and Armorama. Looking forward to trying out the German set. (I wonder how the German BROWN for dark yellow would work on an Allied green.....?).    

Thursday, 19 May 2011

M4 Sherman

A second edition to support my US Airborne. A late production M4 (welded hull with a cast nose and wider gun mount).

The M4 or Sherman is probably the best known of all of the Allied tanks from WW2. Over 40,000 (including variants) were built. It may be dismissed, by historians (both professional and arm-chair), it may not have been up to the standard of some of the German and Soviet designs (particularly late war designs), but there were lots of them and it was reliable, easy to maintain (unlike the German Panther) and the up-gunned versions (in particular the British Firefly), gave it a little bit more of a fighting chance against it's opponents. This version is mounting a 75mm main gun, 2x .30 cal machine guns and .50cal machine gun for AA defence.

This model is from JTFM and once again I picked up my copy from Wargames Command Post (incidentally Bob from WCP has posted today on TMP that he will no longer be stocking JTFM products). This M4 is originally a Chieftain models master, and the detailing is superb. The model is resin, and only the .50cal on the turret is metal. You get the hull, turret and tracks. The tracks have a lug which fits snuggly into the hull. The commanders hatch comes as a two piece cast, allowing it to be modelled open or closed and this is my only gripe with this model. The two pieces did not fit very well, despite there being  a lip on the inside of the open hatch hole. I had to cut a small piece of circular card and place that inside the opening, glue the hatch covers on top of that and then used 'green stuff' to give it a more secure looking fit. The kit comes with about twenty pieces of resin stowage, none of which I used you will notice.

This beauty has been painted/weathered in much the same way as the M5A1. Except I also sprayed Tamiya Khaki on it but only on select areas to give the appearance of faded paint. I also used two of the MIG filters on it, which resulted in a greener/brighter appearance (I'll put up separate posts soon about the filters etc. for those who are interested). The aerial is a plastic broom bristle.

I did not put any stowage on the model because I wanted to paint it first and then add the stowage. I did the same with the M5, then painted and glued on the stowage. But after completing the Sherman I quite liked it 'clean' so left it as you see it. I may add stowage in the future, but not just yet.

Here is comparison shot of the M4 and M5 to get an idea of size.

Both of these models are 1/56th scale. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


Some light armoured support for the US Paratroopers. An M5A1 Stuart light tank.

The M5 light tank was a replacement vehicle for the M3 light tank, and was introduced in September 1942. It boasted a 37mm main gun, and up to three .30cal machine guns (one for AA defence). The tank had a maximum speed of 36mph, maximum cross country speed of 24mph. ( A Panzer IVH max speed of approx 23mph (road)).

A US tank battalion consisted of four companies (1944), three companies A-C had M4 (Sherman) tanks and the Company D was equipped with the M5. The Light Company had  17 tanks, 5 in three platoons plus 2 command vehicles.

The M5 was itself replaced by the M24 (Chaffee). The M24 first saw service in November 1944, but the M5 was still in use by the end of the war.

This model is from Company B and I picked mine up from Wargames Command Post (excellent service, recommend WCP). The hull and turret are resin and the tracks, main gun, machine guns, and headlights are metal fittings. The stowage is a mix of Company B and Bolt Action (but they don't seem to do the same range anymore) and I think ebob. The decals are also from Company B.

The model was sprayed black and airbrushed with Tamiya colours (Olive Drab & Khaki Drab), then I applied a MIG filter, from the Allied set. Then the vehicle was weathered, paint chips applied with a sponge (the packing from a model blister pack), oil paints, GW washes, thinned GW paints, Forge World weathering powders. Stowage painted mainly with Vallejo colours. Several layers of varnish between stages, and a final matt varnish with Daler-Rowney matt varnish applied with the airbrush. This model was about 98% completed a month ago but only just got round to finishing it off.

The M5 may not be the sexiest tank from WW2, or the deadliest, but it was used by the USA, Britain and USSR. It saw service in Europe and the Far East, were it was probably better suited against the Japanese tanks. It also represents my preference for that bit of realism in games, I try and avoid the WW2 gamers (some of them anyway ( particularly German players!)) obsession with having the biggest and best tank, anti-tank gun etc..

Next up the M4.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Disposable Heroes & Seven Coffin for Seven Brothers

The WW2 rules of choice at the moment are Iron Ivan Games 'Disposable Heroes', an infantry and vehicle small unit skirmish game.

These rules are what I would term 'fast play' but with enough detail to add that level of 'realism' to make them that bit more interesting.

Primarily they are an infantry focused rule set. Vehicles when used should be there to support  the infantry units not to charge around the battlefield and dominate it like the heroes from the Illiad.

The rules have some interesting abstract mechanics, such as infantry are not slowed down by terrain, so for example a squad running (which can move 9" in 28mm games) does not have to deduct an inch here for jumping a wall, 2" there for entering a building. This may go against the norm for miniature wargames, but terrain does then effect line of sight, and firing at a target over linear obstacles attracts a penalty. Of course with particular terrain features such as a marsh then players can impose their own movement penalties if you wish.

Turns are initiative based, with one player moving a unit then his opponent, then the first player and so on. Each activated unit can move and fire or fire and move. With firing another abstraction is that only a half a squad (section) may fire. This is to represent the 'confusion' of combat i.e.  team members may be reloading, observing etc and so do not engage the enemy. This was one rule which I personally had a issue with, to use to rules in which everything can 'blaze away', but having played a few games, I now quite like it.

Morale is important in this game, with units having to take a morale check (referred to as a Guts check), even when fired on and no casualties caused. This system throws in a level of uncertainty, and generally does not cause that much of a problem (unless its me throwing the dice, and I have my appalling run of bad luck).

Vehicles are not the metal monsters of some games, but still have to be accounted for, but they should be protected by infantry in order to be truly effective. The rule writers have tempered vehicles (i.e. tanks) by requiring them to make an acquisition roll to spot a target. This effectively stops AFV's charging round the games table, blasting everything in sight. A frustrating rule but again one I like, and it must be remembered this a small unit game. It is not designed to represent the armour clash at Prokhorovka. The designers recommend if you want to play armour battles remove the acquisition rule.

Indirect fire, like vehicles, is not that effective ((generally) though have only used on table mortars in games so far) but is there more to annoy your opponent and give them something to think about. These rules do place emphasis on movement and not staying static. To do so attracts unwanted attention which may find your units suffering morale checks and the battle plan going awry.

Using cover effectively, reduces the impact of fire combat (but remember morale), yet if hits are scored then 'kills' are pretty much guaranteed.

The rules are supported by excellent supplements for the main combatants (designed for mid to late war games), and though the lists contained within the supplements are points based, it's not necessary to play these rules and be a slave to an army list. Supplements also exist for Early War and the War in the Pacific, neither of which I have but will probably be purchasing.

Have played a few games recently and 'after actions reports can be found here wargamesbutterfly and here wargamesbutterfly. Posted by the dashing Mr R, who at the moment leads to 2 to 1 on the victory counter.

Wargames rules come and go and WW2 rules in particular seem to be easy victims to the fickle nature of gamers. At the moment for me these rules score an 8.5 out of 10 (theres always something which an individual does not agree with ) and personally I would like to keep as rules of choice for a while. As an indication prior to this had be playing the Rules of Engagement set from Great Escape Games. These borrowed heavily from the GW style of games ( I believe the designers are ex-GW staff?). Though comprehensive rules I found them at time 'clunky' and time consuming and score them a 5 out of 10 for playability. So give DHC7B ago, see what you think. 

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Making Hedgerows. Part 4

Another week of terrain making. More hedgerows.

Fourteen more straight sections, two more corners, one more T-junction, and one 'crossroad' section. With the addition of these pieces it means I have a total of twenty eight straight sections, so that should be enough hedgerows for the moment.

I may add in more corners, t-junctions in the near future and would like to model some gate/open sections. Openings can be represented by just leaving gaps between the sections but for aesthetic value, model gateways will look better. But for now I'll move on to some different terrain.