Saturday, December 12, 2015

More of Doc's WWII AVs

Once you get bitten by the WWII AFV bug, you really get bitten! Or at least I do! After the last post on my WWII Italians and the glorious Perry's Portee model, I just had to finish off the rest of the Italian AVs, then when I did that well, those three Stuart Honey's I had needed doing too... and to finish up I added a crew to the Bofors.

First up, the Italians. These were amongst the models I got for bit-more-than-a-song from a local hobbyist that threw in the historical towel (save for Warlord/Bolt Action related WWII) and got rid of all their Company B stuff. As I said in a previous post, snavelled the lot - some seven AVs for the price of three (and a bit). Included were a number of Italian AVs and kanone (the reason I went there in the first place) including [drum roll] the Semovente 90/53 AA gun (the Italian version of the German's famous 88). This is the version the Italians cleverly mounted on a M13/40 tank chassis, after experimenting with it on the flatbed of a Lancia truck. The latter proved a bit of a cumbersome arrangement & difficult to serve as it stood shoulder height off the ground and all the ammo have to be passed by hand up to the guys on the rather exposed gun platform.  The whole contraption stood nearly 3 meters tall - so quite a profile to aim at!

Most (but not all) of these problems were solved by the Semovente version.  It dropped the profile by nearly a meter (important out in the open desert) and of course was completely mobile, accompanied by a little Semovente crew tank towing the ammo cart. It could stop when-wherever, the crew dismount and fire the gun with very little prep - no parking the truck and deploying monster stabilizer arms etc.  The major drawback was the crew served the gun in the open, thus vulnerable to small arms, shrapnel etc.

Why they didn't move the gun forward on the chassis and make a protected bit on the tank like the German Marder for example, we'll never know. Maybe they thought with and effective range of up to nearly 3 kilometers, perhaps they thought the crew didn't need protecting as they'd be able to shoot anything long before it got into range to shoot at them.  Dunno.  The thing I forgot was to add my Italian gun crew to my last Perry's order. ^%&*#!!! Still, the three-piece Company B Semo 90/53 cost me about 25% of the Perry's version (which is just the gun I might add!) and has come up a treat. The decals on it are also for an unarmed command vehicle so when not lugging ammo about for the 90, it'll double as my Italian AV command tank.

The decals I also ordered from Company B (with bits and bobs like 50 Cals for the Honeys) arrived so I was able to finish that and the rest of my Ital AVs. I have had mixed success with the US postal service - it can be expensive and slow - but I have to say unlike my local hobby shop where I got the models, Company B responded quickly and were quite reasonably priced with P&P - everything arrived from the US (to Australia) in under three weeks by normal surface mail. I've had similar experience with the Shapeways 3D print mob in New York and with ordering figures from Brigade Games (located in New Jersey) - all took 2-3 weeks and postage quite reasonable (considering its traversing halfway around the globe!)

The other Italian AVs were the L35 Flame tankette and an Autoblinda Armoured Recce scout vehicle. The former is a great little model with open-able hatches which enabled me to put in a Perry's Italian crewman I'd been saving up. Perfecto fit!  Armed also with a Breda MG, its a nasty bit of work for any PBI to encounter.  The only thing that'd worry me is the L35's vulnerability to small arms (well small-ish) like HMGs and Boyes AT rifles (one of the few AV's a Boyes could knock out!)  That little tank full of jellied fuel it has attached to its arse would make a very large fireball too I'd imagine. Momma Mia!  Still, it could shoot a jet of flame 50-60 meters AND machine gun you (not at the same time of course) so a nasty little anti-infantry weapon that fits it well with my L35 tankette squadrone.  Avanti!

The other one is the Autoblinda scout AC with its 20mm autocanon. Nice.  This is the one that did so much damage in our Op LIGHTFOOT game at Jolt a few months back.  Pity the gun isn't a bit heavier but still a nippy beast (both forwards AND backwards!) with quite a sting as it also has forward and rear facing Breda MGs.  Again a nice little model from Company B and I know why I got THIS one cheap - it only had three matching wheels [grrr] which meant that I had to scrounge around. Fortunately I had the ones from the Bofors which fitted perfectly - not the solid wheel-hub variety unfortunately but that will only offend the pedants I'm sure! She goesa bangabangbanga!

Another of the Company B AV models was an M3 Stuart 'Honey' which I'd hoped matched the two I got previously from Shapeways. I could see there were differences but it was impossible to tell until I'd put it together. Unfortunately although the Company B version was the earlier make of the Stuart (the A1), it was also significantly smaller than the Shapeways 3D versions of the Stuart. A nice model nonetheless.

And now the two together...

The Shapeways version is considerably larger.  Bugger.

But the Shapeways ones go well together!

The solution was to make the Company B version into a Brit Stuart with its unique zigzag sand and khaki camo pattern (which also came in a blue and sand version) and the other two as Aussie 6th Div. Honeys. The advantage here was the command figure I got with the Warlord Dingo scout fitted nicely into the open hatch version.  I also added the 50 Cal MGs I got with the decals from Company B to all the Stuarts along with wire aerials.

The other problem with the Shapeways versions was the fact that, being 3D printed, they weighed almost nothing. I could see them getting damaged with handling on the game table in no time flat so to give them more heft I filled them with plaster of Paris - both hull and turret - and it worked a treat! They are a bit rough on the finish and well... damned expensive! So I won't be getting any more BUT as I said before, the P&P was reasonable and timely, so if they produce something that appeals... ya never know!

The last item on the agenda was adding a crew to the Bofors.  Similarly to the Shapeways models, the Romanian (!!!) Bofors model (a nightmare to make) is a trifle oversized but figures from the gun crew I got from Perry's actually fit in well.

Well the Luftwaffe better watch out - these guys look the business!  Had to find a solution to the blasted German 'flying artillery' Stuka that seems to do so much damage.  The Allies needed that Bofors!

That's about it for now.  Hordes of things Napoleonic on the workbench which I must get cracking on before Santa comes and the real madness begins!

Well Santa has come and gone leaving some much needed goodies including a complete British 25pdr, quad, limber and crew as well as a crew for my Semovente 90/53 which I have just finished. Based up, the Perry figures fit in perfectly with the US Company B Semo - note the crewman feeding one of those monster shells into the gun breech. As I have a number of Austrian Napoleonics done as well I thought I'd add the photos of the Italian crew to this post as an update.

Wishing a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all the followers of Doc's 'Art of War'.