Saturday, January 30, 2016

Panther Power! Modelling the 107th Panzer Brigade during Operation Market Garden.


     It is no lie that I love to model Operation Market Garden. There are so many various issues that the Allied Forces had to face during this operation. From fast planning to under estimating the enemy, the failure of Market Garden stands at a historic "what if's" of history. It has been gamed multiply times in various rules systems. Will the gamer succeed where the Allies failed? Or will the Germans prove the idea was just a fast-paced failed plan.
    For those who do not know the history behind Market Garden, the Germans at the point of planning where on the run. After the defeat of German forces in late August of 1944 in Normandy, the Allied forces seemed unstoppable. The Germans were in full retreat on multiple fronts. The only real field problem for the Allies were the resources. Supplies for the Allies ran dangerously thin for all operations. Most of this was due to the lack of ports to sustain the flow of supplies to the troops through the various front lines. In most cases, the Allies ran on supplies from the "Red Ball Express". But even with the dedication of such supply troops, the further the front line extended, the harder the job became. The Allies needed a new plan. Dwight Eisenhower wanted a broad front to pressure the Germans to defeat. However, without the capture of a deep water port, supplies would have been a strain. With the capture of Antwerp on Sept. 4th, 1944, the issue could have been resolved, but the Germans still held a strong position on the other side of the Sheldt Estuary making such a capture useless.
    Thus came a new operation to end the war! To end the war in 1944, the Allied generals needed a way to knock out the Germans in the war. A plan was set up by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery for a large thrust through Holland to cross over the Rhine River into Germany to threaten the Ruhr, Germany's industrial region, thus shutting down Germany's war machine. The plan was to launch an airborne operation to capture key bridges called Market, with the ground troops and armor speeding up the road to get to the main objective of Arnhem. This was the Garden part.
  From here, we can get the jest of the plans and there are tons of resources about this operation. Operation Market Garden was a failure for multiple reasons. For my wife and I, we find this period of the war interesting. For one, this could have gone both ways in the sense of issues the Allies and Axis powers had. Imagine the radios working for the British Airborne? Imagine the 9th SS Recon stayed at Arnhem Bridge instead of going to Nijmegen Bridge that evening of the first day? What if Son Bridge was not destroyed? These things we can play.
    Since my wife is usually the Allied player, she tends to run XXX Corp, of the British. She seems to mention having a Cromwell problem for the Welsh Guards. Though, she is working on the Irish Guards at this point. This will never really end until we have it all. I am aware of this. This is the problem of having a wife that is into what your into!
  Anyway, to list what we got for Market Garden: Welsh Guards, Irish Guards, Grenadier Guards Infantry, The 6th British Airborne and the American 82nd Airborne. That is my wife's stuff. I have the 6th Fallshirmjager, 9th SS Hohenstaufen Panzer Division, the 107th Panzer Brigade, the 559th Schwere Jadgpanzer Brigade, the 280th Stumgeschutz Brigade, Kampfe Groupe Hummel, and the 59th Grenadiers. We also have some Dutch Resistance and Kriegsmarines.
    So, the point of this post is painting historic accuracy.  I know that there are lot of war gamers who could care less. I am aware of this until I came across the Earl Grey Collections of German Armor. The artistic side of me saw so many possibilities. Why go with a generic paint style, when you can go historically themed? This can be especially hard for the armor that is not listed for basic research. Let us take for example my project of the 107th Panzer Brigade. Below is what I used in a convention game.

Now, despite being an awesome picture, this is not accurate for the 107th Panzer Brigade. For one, the numbers would have been black numbers with white outline. Two, they would have been driving a Panther G model, not Panther A's.

The same goes with the statement above.

However, with the Jadgpanzer IV L70 (V), I did have this right.
  Now, for research purposes, the Earl Grey Collection did not have what I was looking for. Also, as a note for all of those using his stuff as the say all is Panzer designs, one must realize that the commanders of such groups changed the camouflage of each platoon of during every season. In a sense, you could say that you can't really go wrong. I wish that were true when it comes from other opinions. There is always someone out there to challenge such artwork. Hence, this article.
    There is always that one person judging the historic aspect of our miniatures. Even if you have several sources saying that it is so, there will always be some one out there to challenge it. I once saw a posting on a Facebook Bolt Action page about whether there was a time in WW2 that the Soviets used camouflage for their tanks other than winter. I posted the following picture.
This was listed in several sites as a T-34/85 with camouflage during the Ukrainian Front during the Summer of 44.
   However, some person mentioned on how that was not possible due to the cupola and some other thing I forgot about. It was a while back. Now, I could be one of those people that discourage artistic freedoms, but I chose not to. And I could be one of those people to argue against the guy. I am sure there is no way he could back up the whole 1960's statement for this picture, when I had some pictures showing the same tank next to burning German Panzer IV's. If I can remember, I will get these other pictures off my other computer that currently has a screen out. I am sure if I really wanted to, I can find them on the internet.
     So back to Panther tanks of the 107th. I mentioned about historical accuracy that I am aiming for. Personally, I am not really that worried about judgment on the job I do. And I also encourage anyone else that this is all artwork! It is part of the fun of this hobby. After doing lots of photo referencing, I came to my most recent color scheme for my armor. I will mention that there is a picture of a Panther G from the 107th preserved at the Overloon Museum, NL. This one was knocked out by the 2nd battalion of the East Yorkshire regiment with a PIAT while fighting in Overloon. Below is the pictures of that one.


   As you can see, the paint job is not all that stellar, and that this has Zimmert coating over the whole tank. This may had to have been repainted, since there was a good chance that the Overloon version slightly burned up. During the battle, the British troops reported to have killed the crew while bailing out. It is also noted that the German high command had a standing rule about crews bailing out of their tanks. The tank required to be on fire before abandoning it. Whether they followed this rule or not is all speculation. In either case, I went with other sources.
      The Panther G models I am using for my 28mm are the resin Warlord Games one that does not come with Zimmert. I could use green stuff to model the coating, but it really is not that big of a deal to me. However, I went with other photo references to use for the three-color paint scheme. So mine is different from the Overloon one and they were still applying Zimmerit at the factory. As another note, if this was the original paint scheme for the brigade, they had change the camouflage between September and October of 44. Here are my replacement Panthers.

This was the original paint scheme of the 107th. If this is not one of the originals, it is the closest to the black and white knocked out picture taking during Market Garden.
     Other than the photo just above, I used various sources on pictures of knocked out Panthers during the actions around Veghel on September 20th, 1944. Though, I did not scan the pictures onto this computer, the paint scheme came from these photos. Since they were all in black and white, I found a nice painting reference for German armor in late 44-45. If you love to paint late war armor I would suggest this book. It is called Camouflage Profile Guide 1945 German Colors by AK Interactive.
    Anyway, I hope you all enjoy! I have some more Panthers to paint!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Terrain Blitz Two: Buildings and such.

  And yet another round of building up terrain! After making some hedgerows, I decided to change the pace by painting up some buildings and fences. Before Kalissa and I ran off to the Siege of Augusta, I finally got a Church for our games from Total Battle Miniatures. I really like their stuff. For one, it is made of resin. Two, they bothered to make the interior with the same care as the outside. It is really stellar work! But honestly, I originally tried to get my hands on a church from Z1 Designs. I am not sure what happened, but the guy took the site down and refunded my money. I would have preferred that one for one important fact that it had a taller steeple. But who am I kidding, I would have still got a hold of the Total Battle version. It is too bad the delay happened from the first order, because it would have definitely made a presence in my wife's tournament.
    However, I also gained a few things from Siege of Augusta, which was some 28mm buildings and fences from Foxhole Terrain. A small company based in Atlanta, Georgia Metro area, they made really nice products for a reasonable price. Again, these are resin and really solid stuff. We happen to know the owners personally and enjoy meeting up with them. It was only a miracle I did not buy some Impudent Mortal Buildings, since they came out with some new factory buildings.
   Anyway, on to pictures of the day.
These are the Foxhole Terrain items I got. They are fair simple, but that does not mean they can make a good presence on a table. They mainly have cottage like buildings good for wilderness American as well as Europe, possibly Eastern Front. The other things are the stone walls and some building materials (pipes and wood stacks). Made with white resin.

This is the Total Battle Miniature's Church. Made with grey resin.

A nice observation post or sniper's nest!

Main interior. I might add pews later. The front wall actually comes out!

Finished product!

Used a 1/56 Panzer IV tank for scale. I went for the rusty forgotten look for the pipes and wood.

I add vines in the back for interest purposes, and there was a corner that looked like it could be used as a flower bed. I decided to add clear glue and leaves for a mini-water garden.

A closer look at leftover building materials.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Terrain Blitz One: Hedgerows.

       For a couple of days, I have few days off. And while my wife happily goes to teach eager eyes of children, I am left to my own devices of terrain construction. I can see how this could be taken dirty. I have a rather large mission that has a lot of work to do, and that is Historicon 2016. Even though, it is in July and is considered my wife's birthday present, I want to run a couple of convention games. The last time we attended Historicon, we ran our Hell's Highway game. It was fun and a great experience. But we only committed to running a one time game. And with all of the war gaming goodies at such a great convention, who could really blame us. Then, Kalissa ran her first tournament at the Siege of Augusta. Though it was a smashing hit with hundreds of war gamers, there were various terrain pieces, such as my newer trees and hedges that I could not show case. They need a little more special care, thus more room. In other words, I want to show case my new stuff at a convention, and I have a plan!
    The plan is simple: I want to design a 6' x 15' Normandy table at Historicon. The theme will be a Church hill assault. I will need several things for this to happen. Number one on the list are hedgerows, in which I made today. I only have made a few. Today I made four of them, but the plan is to make about twenty of them at a foot each. This means 30 feet of hedgerows for this future game. I also need three 5' x 6' teddy bear fur mats. This is probably the best part of the project, since I do love making them. Three are the doodads. These are the small details such as flowers, trashcans, fences, wood piles, cars, trucks, etc...  Last this will be the rules. I have not decided if I want to keep it a Bolt Action game modified or another rules system. The rent release of Iron Cross by Great Escape Games could be a winner. The Rules of Engagement looked interesting as well. I would have considered Chain of Command, but it is not necessarily new player friendly. I will see how it goes.
     Anyway, on to terrain, since that is point. Here is some terrain awesomeness of the day!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Who Says Snow Can't Be Dynamic Terrain?: Snow Terrain Experiment 1

     After working with lots of fur for terrain mats, a friend of mine mentioned the idea of a snow board. I thought to myself: "I can do that!" Now, the only real reason I have not made any real snow board stems for the fact that never really had that much interest in winter warfare and that there are a lot of ways that I have seen it modeled bad. I, too, am guilty as charged. However, this was when I first started making stuff. Besides, I do not come across to many people with snow themed armies.
   Like before, I always have a test piece before I commit to any project. What you see in this post is just a test. I have plans of making more dynamic roads that are actually muddy. I also want to try out some ice features on the roads. For the time being, this will do.
   The whole concept is that every time I have seen snow terrain, it always is flat white sheet with perfect Christmas trees and a house or two. I cannot say at the moment that I have achieved that much more. After all, I am one of those gamers that look forward to Christmas time, because of all of the trees you can buy. And the ones in the pictures I bought were a total of $1.49 for 20 trees on clearance! I can deal with just the white sheet for snow, but what about the grass. Out of all of the snowy days I have experienced, if it was not a foot or more of snow, tall grass was usually standing. So that was my aim here: nifty roads and tall grass mixed with snow. Since it is all not finished, I thought I would share the progress. Enjoy!

Yellow light bulbs kind of ruin the cold effect for this.

The grass needs to be thinned out with a comb, but it is good to have it mixed with the snow. Extra cover.

My snow inspiration while I was doing this. This was the winter storm warning results of last night. I could do better with white spray paint.

Monday, January 18, 2016

AAR: First Bolt Action Tournament.

    As in the previous post, I mentioned how we ran our first Bolt Action Tournament. I would like to say that it was a "we" project, but it was really my wife's brainchild. I was along for morale support and terrain. The reality of it all was that she set up most of the stuff for it. Our friend, Eric asked her if she would run a tournament for Bolt Action at the recent Siege of Augusta. Naturally, she agreed to help out. She came up with the schedule, the support, the missions, and most of the awards with the exception of one.
    In preparation for the event, I went through a terrain making blitz through late November and most of December. January was rather light, since I picked up a few terrain things here and there. I also finished a mat after the new year, which to this day, I still have not played a single game on. With the fear of not having enough tables, we ended up borrowing some mats from our friend, Bill  along with a bunch of his terrain. As we later found out at the event, we really were okay with what we owned. But if we needed it, we could run up to ten tables, and if pushed, one more. We brought extra dice, extra order dice, bags for the order dice, our different pin markers, glass beads for objective markers, lots of measuring tapes, and two 1,000 point armies. One of the armies, I ended up playing with. If more players wanted to play and had no army, we some for them to play. Preparation is key.
     We came a day early to SOA this year for set up purposes. The main goal was to set up on Friday and allow for "Free Play" games that evening. Sharing means caring, I always say! Due to some room issues, the SOA organizers had us set up in the main hall. We had six tables for up to twelve players. The original list of players interested that had signed up in advance was 8 with another 19 people interested in the event. So really, we had no clue on how many people we going to show up. I have seen this happen at multiple tournaments. The Unknown Zone always seem to happen with these events. The SOA members assured us that if more than twelve showed up to play, we would have room for more tables and up to 20 to 22 players. With the location and preset tables on Friday, Kalissa and I were pretty excited to see the interest for the tournament. We had a couple people play on the table for "Free Play" and Kalissa had some demo games. I also played later in the wee hours of the morning to realize that I attempted to roll pin markers instead of dice while playing. I was getting tired, but was having fun.
    As for the tournament itself, we had eight players. Several of the original people never showed up, as in, to the convention either. The missions were, in order, Hold Until Relieved, Point Defense, and Top Secret. Kalissa picked tough missions, because she wanted a challenge for everyone. I don't like two of them personally, and I did play in the tournament.
     Players and Armies were:
         1.  Paul D.        - Germans
         2.  Ron H.         - Japanese SNLF
         3.  Joe B.          - Yugoslav Partisans
         4.  Jeff O.         - Germans
         5.  Shawn W.   -Americans
         6.  Patrick A.    -Germans
         7.  Jeramiah P. -Americans
         8.  Myself         -Americans
  I ended up playing to even forces out. Kalissa informed the players that I did not count in the tournament, which came out harsher sounding. Needless to say, she was right indirectly! I was dead last by the end of the tournament. Awesome!
    Review: This was a successful tournament. Everyone seemed to have fun and there were tons of spectators. We had several awards given out to the players for first, second, third, best sportsmen, and my favorite, the medic award for the people who took the most causalities. Also the first through third also won prize support from Warlord Games. They were nice enough to provide us with five plastic sprues of both U.S. Marines and Japanese Infantry, the new box set of metal U.S. Winter infantry, and a box set of the metal German Luftwaffe Feld Infantry.
     The awards winners were Shawn W. for 1st, Jeff O. for 2nd, Ron H. for 3rd, Patrick A. for Best Sportsman, and both first and second place players won the Medic Award on a tie with 16 units killed total throughout the tournament. First place got to choose two prizes with 2nd and 3rd picking one.
     In conclusion for a first time tournament, we ran a successful tournament with few hiccups. Everyone had fun! We had over twenty people interested in Bolt Action for their first time. Several people bought armies to start up playing. Several people mentioned that they did not want to play originally due to past tournaments with too open of tables in favor of mobile forces. They said they would really think of playing next year if we ran it again. Kalissa ran quite a few demo games, including one during the tournament. And of course, our terrain inspired people whether they planned to play Bolt Action or not. And as mentioned by a fellow gamer, Kalissa is the first female to run a historical war gaming  tournament that they knew of. I don't know if that is true, but it would be awesome if it was. All of these things are all we could ask in an event and is the greatest compliment. Kalissa has already agreed to run the Bolt Action Tournament for Siege of Augusta next year.
   We would like to thank Warlord Games and Impudent Mortals for help support our event! It would not have been the same with out them. Again, thank you!
     Below are the photos we have for the tournament and some other pick up games and demos.

Table Six.

Table Five.

Table Four.

Table Three.

Table Two.

Table One.

The whole line of tables.

From the other end.

Some Finnish against Germans on a pick up game Friday evening.

Some Finnish against Germans on a pick up game Friday evening.

Some Finnish against Germans on a pick up game Friday evening.

Some Finnish against Germans on a pick up game Friday evening.

My wife, Kalissa teach a lady how Bolt Action while she ended up destroying her boyfriend. He had fun, despite the losses.

Demo game.

Demo game. U.S. Paratroopers vs. German SS.

Demo game.

Another pick up game Friday Evening. Americans vs. Germans.

Another pick up game Friday Evening. Americans vs. Germans.

Third pick up game Friday Evening. Americans vs. Germans.

Third pick up game Friday Evening. Americans vs. Germans.

Third pick up game Friday Evening. Americans vs. Germans.

Patrick and me playing a late night game. I think is was 2 A.M. at this point.

Patrick and me playing a late night game.

Patrick and me playing a late night game.

Patrick and me playing a late night game.

Patrick and me playing a late night game.

American list for the tournament. I believe these were Jeramiah's.

Patrick's Germans.

Tournament game play!

My U.S. Airborne vs. Japanese. First time playing against this faction.

U.S. Airborne vs. Japanese.

American forces advance against Germans.


Partisans advancing.


More Japanese!

I love the horse drawn cart in Ron's list.

Cow tipping anyone?

Fence line shooting.

King of the Hill.

Stug III power.

The Partisan's have a tank!

Partisan speed demon to the rescue!

Bridge fight!

Lots of Jeeps.

U.S. vs. U.S., a field exercise.

Kalissa teaching a demo during a tournament break.

Germans vs. Americans.

A Sherman drives around the corner.

Blue is the color of my pins.

I lost a Sherman tank to a Greyhound. I lost everyone in my list except for one mortar down to a man. We named him Edward Schmitt and determined he will have a hard life after this.

Partisans vs. Japanese.

My cow pen.

My Sherman knocks down a fence for easy access.

Germans vs. Americans in Top Secret.

Looks like a Jeep dealership.

Japanese vs. Americans.

The objective was in the middle of the stable made by Impudent Mortals.

Close combat!

More close combat!

This Stug III should have killed way more than it did.

My Chuck Norris Lt. takes a shot at close range. He later dies after 9 shots.

Downtown Partisan rumble.

Our Tournament winners.

Paratroopers in a building during a demo game between Chris and Drew.

Another shot of same demo. This was the last one on Sunday. Good times.