Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A Flames Of War German Painting Renaissance

It is a testimony of how my own expectations have changed in that I now feel that to deploy a model on a battlefield which is short of being fully painted is somehow failing myself and the opposition, and to use a model sans paint altogether is heresy!  5 years or so ago when I started collecting my Germans a coat of black spray, a brown base and a dry brush of Codex Grey was enough (I laboured under the inexplicable impression that the Jerry’s actually wore a neutral grey, rather than a grey/green combo).  Getting the figures onto the table was the priority, and when many figures used at the RGMB were unpainted anyway my conscience was clear.

Fast forward to 2014 and many, perhaps most, of my 15mm Germans are at best tatty and in need of a major overhaul.  Over the years I’ve more than fleshed out the collection, but rarely found the enthusiasm to complete paint jobs and finish platoons apart from the odd exception.  My 4 infantry platoons have been the mainstay of almost every list I have used, and I painted 3 platoons of them fully around 2009-10 (the 4th platoon staying the hideous codex grey dry brush to this day).  They are primarily Old Glory models, purchased at an excellent £9 for 50 figures, and they have seen much in their lifetimes since being bought.  Many of their supporting vehicles are the same – 3 for £9 from Old Glory – including my age old and feared StuG G’s, Marders and 8-rads.

The collection has been greatly added to since I started, particularly in a bulk purchase from a friend that included 8 battlefront panthers and 12 panzer IV’s, and now includes a mix of Old Glory and Battlefront models, and the odd Kerr & King and Plastic Soldier Company half track.  In the past I painted each enough to get them on the table, but often failed to add the finishing touches as other projects appeared.  To my everlasting shame my 4 Brumbarrs even appeared numerous times in a completely unpainted white metal and resin form!  But never more, for whether it’s the lovely models, the possession of a useful air brush, the carrot that is a possible upcoming late war campaign, or simply a lack of anything else that grabs me too paint, I have been painting FOW since May, and I now have lots of lovely fully painted models to use.

PaK40's and PaK38's.

New StuG's, for the first time in 5 years, and PaK43/41's.

I’ll admit that most of the models are vehicles, but I do have infantry prepared to work on to update my tatty 4 platoons, and I’ve finished a number of gun teams that have lain untouched for eons.  In fact a list would be handy, and I’ve two lists because in most cases I have painted from new, or from a base coated start, but in others it has been a revamp of a model which benefited from my improved knowledge and painting style, and needed its bashed corners repairing as well.

  • 5 x RSO Tractors
  • 2 x Sd Kfz 7 (8 ton – to pull the 88’s)
  • 2 x kfz 15 field car
  • 8 x Panther
  • 1 x Bergepanther
  • 1 x Konigstiger
  • 1 x Stuka
  • 2 x PaK40 gun teams
  • 2 x PaK43/41 gun teams
  • 3 x NW41 Nebelwafer gun teams
  • 1 x observer infantry team
  • 2 x command infantry teams
  • 1 x Panzerschreck man-packed gun team
  • 1 x 2.8cm AT rifle gun team
  • 8 x Sd kfz 251/1C Halftracks
  • 4 x Sd kfz 231 (8-rad) heavy armoured cars
  • 3 x Sd kfz 10/2 unarmoured AA half track
  • 3 x StuG G (late war – dunkelb)
  • 4 x Brumbarr assault guns

  • 2 x Tiger 1 E
  • 2 x FlaK36 88mm gun teams
  • 2 x Flak36 extra crew teams
  • 2 x PaK40 gun teams
  • 3 x StuG G (mid war – grey)

 So all in all a total of 54 models newly painted, and 11 revamped/refreshed since I gained a sudden wave of enthusiasm in May.  This wave being caused by the target of having to have them finished by a certain time, and a couple of games since have keep it going.

The Panther company, with Bergepanther and Konigstiger.

Flak36 guns and transports.

2.8cm AT man-packed gun team and panzerschreck team.

Half Tracks

While the other models/platoons were fairly straight forward in terms of getting the paint and brushes out and copying a previous painting scheme, the half tracks required a bit more work.  Firstly I had to make the 3 half tracks donated by Peter, but of equal need of modelling action were the 9 Old Glory half tracks I’ve had since I started playing FOW.  Mostly painted in the now infamous Codex Grey dry brush they lacked crew, had bent guns, lacked proper basing and didn’t match any of my army.  The HMG’s and their gun shields needed removing and repositioning to be level, and I added Plastic Soldier Company infantry in to man the HMG’s and sit on the benches, as well as some baggage to bulk out the models.  Once painted these troops and the baggage gives the models that bit of variety of colour that brings them to life.  The Old Glory models are that bit smaller than the other brands I’m using (PSC and Kerr & King) so I had based them on medium bases to make them fit in with the other types.  I based my other Old Glory vehicles the same way to give height and bulk.  Finally I started the painting scheme by air brushing them en-masse.  I’ve around 16 half tracks, of which I’ve finished painting 4 half tracks in brush-applied camo, and 4 with an airbrush.  The rest are airbrushed and awaiting work.

First crews go into the old halftracks as I revamp them and turn them into useful models rather than bits box scrap.

Plastic Soldier Company half track.

Post air brush camo.

Air Brushing

Setting up and packing down my air brush is a fairly time consuming process so I try to do quite a lot of models in one go, which leads to it being setup on my dining table for longer than my wife expects it to be!  The air brush was the ideal tool to paint on the late war german camo, and although I struggled to make my starter airbrush set create thin enough lines I’m quite pleased with the results.  I wanted the airbrushed camo to fit in with my brush applied camo so I could happily mix the platoons in one army, although I never intend to mix models painted with the two different styles in one platoon.

NW41 15cm Nebelwafer platoon, ROS tractors and an objective marker.

A whole group of newly painted Germans, but not all of them.


I’m particularly pleased with my decals on my latest models, especially the Brumbarrs over their zimmerit coating.  Back in my old Games Workshop days I found decals frustrating and rarely used them, but my FOW vehicles need them so I’ve had to try again.  I had ordered some decals from Dom’s Decals for the first time to provide the crosses on the halftracks and with them came a ‘how to apply decals’ note, which recommended using some decal solution.  Following this I bought and used some Vallejo Decal Fix to prepare the surface before I put the decal all, then applied some Vallejo Decal Medium to the decals several times over a few hours.  The Fix makes the decal stick better, while the Medium melts the transfer which causes it to sink into the recesses underneath it.  Although my pictures don’t show it in detail it has come out very well, and the Matt Varnish spray the next day covered up the silvery edge of the decal so it looks the part and almost as if its painted on.  A special note; using Fix then Medium is the OPPOSITE way round from the way the Vallejo tutorial explains it, but it works wonderfully.  I even shaved the decals off my 2 Tiger 1E’s to redo them.


First finished air brushed half tracks.

Tigers before I added decals onto their turrets.

The German Future

I’ve still a horde of models awaiting painting.  All of the vehicles have had the camo air brushed onto them, and this includes the remaining 8-9 half tracks to enable me to field an armoured infantry company, and 10 Panzer IV’s to make my panzer company a viable option (8 panthers by themselves are just not flexible enough due to their lack of numbers).  I also have two platoons of infantry, a couple of panzerschreck teams, and some spare command bases undercoated and waiting for work.  These platoons have been made up specifically as MG teams with the idea that they would provide the bulk of the foot troops in my armoured infantry list.  My 4th ‘Grey’ platoon also needs changing, possibly rebasing with the correct figures for pioneer MG teams, especially the flame thrower and goliath teams.  Possible purchases – none are jumping out at the moment, I have most troops that I’d even need, although an additional 3 NW41 Nebelwafers may be an idea in the future, and I’ve always wanted a couple of Jadgtigers.  Plus my Konigstiger is lonely and needs a friend which is currently out of production with Battlefront so I’m keeping an eye out for one of those.

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