Friday, January 3, 2014

Finishing off my WWII German force

I just realised that its been well over a month since I posted anything. Very slack but I have as an excuse that this year Christmas etc got in the way. Coming to the end of my Chrissy break I thought I'd better post something on what I've been up to.  Mostly WWII stuff after finishing the box of British from Perry's for my Creforce units.  No sooner than I'd done that they announce they've made some Vickers LAVs - there were 9 of them on Crete operated by the 4th Hussars (the remnants of over a hundred sent to Greece) who fought them with incredible bravery, so a 'must-have' for my Creforce army.  But it'll have to wait as Santa has been very kind to me this year and I've had heaps of different projects to do and stuff to read.

With regard to the latter I have to give a plug for Henry Hyde's 'The Wargaming Compendium'. I had heard good things about it on the hobby grapevine so I decided to give Santa a hand and get a copy. Fan-bloody-tastic read!  Its one of those books that's an instant classic. It's a 'somebody should've' on the hobby - well now somebody has and what a job they've done.  I think Henry's written it at a perfect time when the hobby has begun to expand exponentially and has finally matured, with something to appeal to everyone.  The hobby now spreading around the globe has never been so popular and the standard and range of figures and wargaming paraphernalia has never greater.  Henry has done a masterful job in documenting this as well as writing about the growth of the hobby from its roots. As a graphic designer and publisher of no mean talent himself, Henry has packed his beautifully presented Compendium full of mouth-watering wargamer eye-candy. Every dedicated wargamer should have a Compendium so do yourself a favour and get one!

After finishing my Perry's Austrian Grenzer I thought I'd tackle the problem of finding some figures to make up my German Mountain troops (Gebirgsjaeger) for the Crete campaign. I could not find the right figures in peaked caps (their treasured 'Gebirgsmutze') so was on the edge of buying something metal when I spied a box of Perry's DAK at my mate Dean's shop. Had to have 'em didn't I? In the end I decided to use all the peaked cap heads in the box  and painted them up in the tropical green kit they wore in Greece. They also wore sandy or khaki coloured shorts but as none of the Perrys come like that I went with the green outfit which will also allow them to fit in elsewhere in the European theatre. Like the Desert Rats box they were a delight to make up and although you wouldn't think so, no two figures are exactly the same - there are enough bits and bobs to do quite a bit of variation. Per box you get a full platoon (Zug) with three ten-man sections including an LMG team and a Headquarters section with officer, senior NCO, radio and support weapons teams for the PzB 39 AT rifle and 50mm mortar. Perfect to compliment my two para platoons.


I nearly stuffed the lot up when I base-coated them with a dodgy matt black paint can that made it look like so were coated in fine sand. I cleaned up as many as I could but couldn't be bothered with the fiddley chemically job required to remove paint from plastics so some look a bit rough close up but I still think they'll pass muster for gaming purposes!


The other thing I love doing with plastics are conversions. With plenty of kneeling figures in the box I decided to do a kneeling MG34 team using the loader's shoulder to aim. I had an MG ammo belt from a Tamiya kit that I added to the gun. Likewise the 50mm mortar was a 3-man team led by a corporal so a made another kneeling figure into the mortar team commander watching the fall of shot.


Just as well I had some extra bits as there appears exactly enough to do the figures as depicted and because I tend to do mine a bit different, I ran out of weapons etc. I was also able to add a few other bits like tent/groundsheet rolls, meal cans and so on to a few of the figures. You'll note nearly half are in helmets but that's OK as like the Aussie's and their famous slouch hats, the German mountain troop's prefered to wear their cherished Gebirgsmutze but were all issued with helmets, as can be seen in archive photos of them boarding JU52s for the assault on Maleme.  I'm sure when the metal began to fly more than a few would have put their tin lids on!


As I mentioned earlier I also finished my Fallschirmjaeger to make up nearly two full platoons plus heavy weapons support. I needed more rifle armed paras as all the boxes of them come with them armed with a large number of assault rifles and SMGs. For Crete they had double the number of LMGs (MG34s) and MP40 SMGs but the assault rifles didn't arrive until a year later, so they were mainly rifle armed.  Dean came to my rescue and ordered the rifle armed paras I needed which arrived in time to be part of my not-so-secret Santa gift to myself!


Two sections of the three section FJ Zug has a Gefrieter armed with an MP40, a lance corporal and six schutzen rifle armed.  These sections can swap rifles for up to two additional MP40s and another MG34. The third section is the command with a leutnant, senior NCO, radioman, specialist schutze (as runner or medic etc) and a sniper team. One of these can be swapped for a Flamenwerfer team if required.

Platoon Command section

Each platoon is also supported by a heavy weapons section of one medium mortar and an MMG (MG34 on tripod) each with 3 man teams.  They can also be a separate company-level support with Kettenkrad-towed Recoiless and AT guns. The paras may have been mainly light arms but they were superbly equipped - if they can get to retrieve those verdamten canisters in time!

The most recent project I have just completed in relation to the Crete campaign has been to do the Luftwaffe component.  For this I already had a JU87 Stuka and before Christmas had finished a JU52 transport but needed a fighter escort to complete. This was going to comprise an ME109 and a Bf110.  I have the former, although its a model I built when I was about 12 or 13 and is a bit too duffed up to be repaired, but I searched everywhere for a decent model of a 110.  Scarce as hen's teeth they are.  Just by luck I found one in a local hobby store for well under $20 (not bad as the store in question isn't known for its bargains!)  It was an unknown brand 'HobbyBoss' made in China (check out www.hobbyboss.com) Now this is usually synonymous with 'dodgy' but it turned out to be a very good model indeed. It was well protected and packaged with delicate parts wrapped so they didn't get damaged in transit - metal figure manufacturers should take note! Most amazing were the tranfers - the most amazing and detailed of any I have seen for a 1/72nd scale model. The biggest challenge I had was putting them on the finished model but I put that down more to my own ineptitude at model building than the manufacturer's fault!  Suffice to say I ended up with a very nice model of a Messerschmitt Bf110. I've painted it in the colours of ZG76 which flew out of Argos in May 1941.


I had to modify it a bit to put it in 'flight' mode (wheels up) and the model did not come with any crew or extras such as bombs or drop tanks. As Allied air cover was pretty negligible (shot out of the sky, destroyed on the ground or withdrawn by the time Op MERCURY was launched) the Luftwaffe fighters were used extensively in a ground attack role - the strafing and bombing was described as relentless - so I got some crew and a bomb from my old model plane bits box. In doing so I discovered I have mostly intact a very rare model of a Gloucester Gladiator biplane which I will be doing up for the Allies along with a Hurricane and/or an Anson to even things up a bit. I make up the second box of Desert Rats and get a couple of Vickers LAVs from Perry's and the forces for the Crete campaign will be pretty much complete.

That's about it from me for a while as I have to go back to work on Monday and more importantly, prepare for the Tomahawks and Muskets demo skirmish game at Cancon at the end of the month.

Finally, a belated but happy and prosperous New Year wishes to all the very patient followers of my blog!