Colouring the PzKpfw II

The Panzer II was the common name for a family of German tanks used in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen II (abbreviated PzKpfw II). Although the vehicle had originally been designed as a stopgap while more advanced tanks were developed, it nonetheless went on to play an important role in the early years of World War II, during the Polish and French campaigns. By the end of 1942 it had been largely removed from front line service, and production of the tank itself ceased by 1943.

This one was on display at the Bovington Tank Museum.

PzKpfw II

When they first appeared, in 1936, the Panzer IIs were regarded as platoon commander’s tanks. They were also employed to give fire support to the Panzer I in combat with enemy tanks. However by 1940 they had been outclassed and were relegated to the reconnaissance role. This exhibit, an Ausfuhrung (or Model) F featured improved armour and was introduced in 1941.

This tank was captured by British forces in North Africa but it is shown in the markings of 1st Panzer Division at the time of the invasion of France in June 1940.

That was something I didn’t know until a few years ago that the German tanks in 1940 were painted grey and brown, I had always thought they were just grey. I personally blame Matchbox  for this.

Matchbox Panzer II box art

It was only after Blitzkrieg was released back in 2010 by Battlefront that I noticed the grey and brown camouflage scheme.

As recently as ten years ago the overwhelming consensus regarding early war German AFV paint schemes was that they were all painted in uniform overall panzer grey (Dunkelgrau – RAL 7021 – formerly RAL 46). However, in 2002 Tom Jentz and Hilary Doyle published an article based on primary sources stating all German vehicles at the beginning of World War II were painted in a two tone camouflage scheme of panzer grey with one third of the vehicle painted in a disruptive pattern of dark brown (Dunkelbraun – RAL 7017 – formerly RAL 45). The order to move to an overall panzer grey scheme was not signed until the end of July 1940.

Back in 2011, I blogged about finding the 15mm Zveda plastic model kit.

Though you can buy a resin version of the Pz II I was plesantly surprised to find a plastic 1/100th scale kit of the Pz II in a model shop for just £1.25. Bargain!

Made my Zveda, a Russian firm… I did manage to pick up three of them. I am going to make them up as PzKpfw IIs for the Western Desert.

Note that the cover art of the box is all grey too… but by the time of the invasion of Russia, all German tanks were grey.

Vickers Mk VIB Light Tank

The Vickers Mk VIB Light Tank was a British WW2 light tank, crew of 3, powered by Meadows 6-cylinder petrol engine, armed with two machine guns.

This is the one at the Tank Museum in Bovington.

Vickers Mk VIA Light Tank

The Mk VI Light Tank was the sixth in the line of light tanks built by Vickers-Armstrongs for the British Army during the interwar period. The company had achieved a degree of standardization with their previous five models, and the Mark VI was identical in all but a few respects. The turret, which had been expanded in the Mk V to allow a three-man crew to operate the tank, was further expanded to give room in its rear for a wireless set.

The British Army lost 331 Mark VI light tanks in the Battle of France of 1940.

The Mk VIB was mechanically identical to the Mk VIA but with a few minor differences to make production simpler, including a one-piece armoured louvre over the radiator instead of a two-piece louvre, and a plain circular cupola instead of the faceted type.

The Mk VIB was also used in the North African campaign against the Italians late in 1940 with the 7th Armoured Division.

In A Very British Civil War scenario, you would expect to be using a fair amount of these tanks. When the Battle of France began in May 1940, the majority of the tanks possessed by the British Expeditionary Force were Mark VI variants.

Here are some 15mm Flames of War Light Tank VIs in the Flames of War Miniatures Gallery.

15mm British Light Tank Mk VIs

There is also a metal 15mm one of mine, which is badly painted, on my workbench.

There is a Mark VI A on display at the Imperial War Museum Duxford. It was one of 11 sent to Australia in 1941 for training purposes Standard British light tank till 1941.

Char B1

The Char B1 was a French heavy tank manufactured before the Second World War. It was a specialised heavy break-through vehicle, originally conceived as a self-propelled gun with a 75 mm howitzer in the hull; later a 47 mm gun in a turret was added, to allow it to function also as a Char de Bataille, a “battle tank” fighting enemy armour, equipping the armoured divisions of the Infantry Arm.

This Char B1 was on display at Bovington.

Char B1

Among the most powerfully armed and armoured tanks of its day, the type was very effective in direct confrontations with German armour in 1940 during the Battle of France, but a slow speed and high fuel consumption made it ill-adapted to the war of movement then fought. After the defeat of France captured Char B1 (bis) would be used by Germany, some rebuilt as flamethrowers or mechanised artillery.

Char B1

It is a big tank, but only for 1940, by the end of the war heavy tanks were huge in comparison.

Char B1

It is one of my favourite tanks, probably down to the Matchbox kit I got when I was younger.

Matchbox Char B1 and Renault FT17

Though I did eventually convert mine into a German SPG using the armour from a Matchbox Wespe kit. What I didn’t realise at the time was that there was in fact a similarl real version of this, the 10.5cm leFH 18/3 (Sf) auf Geschützwagen B2(f).

Alas I don’t have a photo of my model.

I do though have a 28mm Char B1 for Bolt Action which recently made its way onto the workbench to be made up as a FFI version used in 1944 and 1945.

Bolt Action Char B1 bis

There are some 15mm versions for Flames of War too.

Churchill AVRE

The Churchill AVRE was one of the so-called ‘funnies’ designed by Percy Hobart specifically for use on the D-Day beaches to break through the German fortified defences. The AVRE was the most successful ‘funny’ type and AVRE vehicles remain in service with the British Army today.

This Churchill AVRE was on display at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford. For many years it had been a target on Sailsbury Plain and then spent a fair few years as a monument on the Normandy beaches.

A variant of the British WW2 Churchill Mk.III or IV tank adapted to carry and support assault engineers in breaching heavy defences, crew of 6, powered by two Bedford 6-cylinder petrol engines, armed with a 290mm Petard mortar.
A variant of the British WW2 Churchill Mk.III or IV tank adapted to carry and support assault engineers in breaching heavy defences, crew of 6, powered by two Bedford 6-cylinder petrol engines, armed with a 290mm Petard mortar

There was a 15mm resin and metal version of this tank available for Flames of War.

However it has now been replaced for the forthcoming (March 2020) plastic Churchill that can either be a later mark Churchill, the flamethrower Crocodile version or the AVRE version.

In gaming terms most specialist vehicles don’t really work, however this AVRE version with it’s Petard Mortar has a place if your opponent had troops skulking in bunkers.

It’s the Libyans!

I missed out on last year’s Battlefront Team Yankee 15mm De Lorean objective and I guess I will probably miss out on this year’s objective too….

To match last year’s wildly popular Delorean objective for WWIII, we’ve delivered on the promise of a Libyan-terrorists-in-a-van Objective to match! Of course, based on the famous scene from the beginning of Back to the Future. Now lets see if they can do 90.

Here is the VW Bus with the De Lorean.

I really like these models, but not sure if I will make it to any tournament to get one.

Sherman M4A4

This Sherman M4A4 tank was on display at the Imperial War Museum in London.

Sherman M4A4

Service history unknow. However, when the object was stripped back for repainting on acquisition by the Imperial War Museum,  it was found to be carrying markings commensurate with a tank operating with the Guards Armoured Division in North West Europe, 1944-45.

Sherman M4A4

The M4 Sherman, officially Medium Tank, M4, was the most widely used medium tank by the United States and Western Allies in World War II.

The M4A4 was the most common lend lease Sherman type used by the British Army.

I have posted a few photographs on the blog of Simon’s 15mm British Sherman tanks he has painted for Flames of War.

Flames of War British Sherman Tank

Flames of War British Sherman Tanks

Flames of War Sherman Tanks

Mark IV Tank with Fascine

At the Bovington Tank Museum you can get close up and personal with the first tanks that were built and used in combat, such as the Mark IV Tank.

First World War tanks, namely the British Mark IV, started the practice of carrying fascines on the roof, to be deployed to fill trenches that would otherwise be an obstacle to the tank.

Mark IV Tank with Fascine

The Mark IV was a British tank of the First World War. Introduced in 1917, it benefited from significant developments of the Mark I tank (the intervening designs being small batches used for training). The main improvements were in armour, the re-siting of the fuel tank and ease of transport. A total of 1,220 Mk IV were built: 420 “Males”, 595 “Females” and 205 Tank Tenders (unarmed vehicles used to carry supplies), which made it the most numerous British tank of the war.

The “Male” tanks were armed with three machine guns and two 6-pdrs. Whilst the “Female” tanks had Five .303 Lewis machine guns.

The Mark IV was first used in mid 1917 at the Battle of Messines Ridge. It remained in British service until the end of the war, and a small number served briefly with other combatants afterwards.

I have been working on a metal 15mm Mark IV Tank for use with the Home Guard.

Though I do really like the Flames of War Great War models, which have a lot more detail.

Mark IV Male

I also have a gallery of Mark IV tanks from a wonderful 28mm demonstration game at GamesDay 2007.

Mark IV Tank

Plastic Comet

The Comet (A34) was a British cruiser tank that first saw use near the end of World War II. It was designed to provide greater anti-tank capability to Cromwell tank squadrons. It was armed with a 77mm HV, a derivative of the 17 pounder, with the result it was one of the few British tanks with the firepower to challenge late war German designs.

One of the most popular posts on the blog is an article I wrote back in 2011 on the Battle of the Bulge reporting on the news that Flames of War was going to release models and rules for the Battle.

Then I said:

I would like to see two tanks in particular, the M24 Chaffee and the British Comet. These tanks are currently not in the FoW range.

I was pleased when Battlefront released the plastic model back in 2015, however I didn’t manage to get some until now. I am not a great fan of the plastic kits, much prefer the resin models which have more weight.

Flames of War Comet Tank

It was on the eBay I purchased two of the sets containing two Comets each.

Flames of War Comet Tanks Box OFBX08Flames of War Comet Tanks Box OFBX08

The box contains two plastic Comet sprue and were designed as expansions to the original Open Fire starter box. So you get some data cards too.

Flames of War Comet Tank Datacard

Though you don’t get the (metal) commanders that you get in the five Comet box.

Really pleased that I have some now, I have been thinking of using them not only for Late War Flames of War games, but also 1950s Cold War games. The Comet remained in British service until 1958. Reading the Hot War books from Harry Turtledove has inspired me to think about gaming some scenarios from the books. British Comets and Centurions versus Russians T34-85 and T54 Soviet tanks with American M26 Pershing and M48 Patton tanks. In the book there are also Sherman manned by (West) German forces.

So time to get building and painting.

Eine kleine Maus

Panzer VIII Maus

The Maus was a German World War Two super heavy tank that was completed in late 1944. Five were ordered, but only two hulls and one turret were completed before the testing grounds were captured by advancing Soviet forces.

It is the heaviest fully enclosed armoured fighting vehicle ever built at 188 metric tons. It was armed with a 128mm gun and a coaxial 75mm gun.

The Maus was intended to punch holes through enemy defences in the manner of an immense “breakthrough tank”, whilst taking almost no damage to any components.

Panzer VIII Maus

I’ve always been impressed with the 1/100th scale models from Zvezda as well as being good quality plastic miniatures they are also reasonably priced. My only real complaint is that the other types of models in the range are designed to fit the box, not the same scale of the vehicles. So the infantry figures and artillery pieces, are 1/72nd, some aircraft are 1/144th and even 1/200th. I have even seen 1/350th boats in the range. This is a pity. The1/100th scale vehicles though fit well with my other 15mm models.

I was intrigued the other day to see that my local model shop had the German super heavy tank Maus in their range of Zvezda kits.

Zvezda Panzer VIII Maus

I think it might have been priced wrongly at £3.50 as similar boxes (i.e. the bigger boxes) were £7.00. So I bought two for potential objectives or models for alternate history games set at the end of World War Two.

Zvezda Panzer VIII Maus

The model comprises two plastic sprues and look detailed and I think it will capture the feel of this monstrous tank.

Zvezda Panzer VIII Maus sprue

Zvezda Panzer VIII Maus sprue

The next stage will be to construct the models, even though it says snap-fit, I think I will glue the model together. I will also add some weight to the model too, so give it some heft and ballast. I think a super heavy tank, even at 1/100th scale, should be “super heavy”.

I wonder if Zvezda will produce any other models similar to this? If they did what would you want to see?