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?

Full circle

My first “experience” of wargaming was back in the 1970s with those bendy and flexible Airfix and Matchbox model soldiers and using Britain’s matchstick firing weapons.

One of my favourite toys and probably the thing that got me into gaming was the 1:32nd Matchbox Counter Attack Playset.

Matchbox Counter Attack

Combining Americans and Germans, with an M8 Greyhound, air pump weapons and an incredible building that you could knock down and put back together. It was an incredible toy that I really loved playing with.

There were of course other models you could buy and I remember having some, but aspired to buy some of those Airfix plastic 1:32 models, such as the Cromwell as well as other Matchbox figures like these Commandos.

Matchbox Commandos

I did move onto more “serious” gaming using Airfix Napoleonics. Then I started to paint them, but like a lot of gamers back then, realised the flexibility of the plastic meant that the paint would come off quite easily during games. The magazines of the time (we didn’t have the web back then) had articles about painting the bare plastic with PVA (white glue) and after painting use a range of varnishing techniques (heavy gloss varnish followed by a matt varnish) to protect the paintwork even further. The reality was that I remember discussing with friends what we really wanted were plastic soldiers made out of hard plastic., like that was ever going to happen…

Lets fast forward to last week…

I usually quite enjoy the weekly updates on the Flames of War website. Never quite sure why they feel the need to save all their updates for Thursday, why can’t they post them as and when they’re done. The main result of this is I go the website once a week rather than more regularly.

So what’s the connection?

Battlefront announced they were, having moved from metal to hard plastic, were going to move now to flexible plastic. I had to check twice, was Battlefront really going to release flexible plastic toy soldiers.

Battlefront announced they were, having moved from metal to hard plastic, were going to move now to flexible plastic.

Hmmm.

The articles talks about the advantages of this *new* material compared to metal, resin and hard plastic.

The new figures are made of a flexible ABS plastic, and combine most of the good points of the other materials.

Like with hard plastic, the casting process involves injecting the plastic into a rigid mould. The moulds themselves are not machined in the same way, but cast – it’s faster and cheaper. Unlike the hard plastic, the material itself is slightly flexible after it cures, so small undercuts are possible – not as much as with metal or resin in a soft mould, but more than with hard plastic.

They also make the point…

The tough new plastic is almost unbreakable – you could drop a rulebook on them and they will bounce straight back.

Guessing dropping rulebooks on them wouldn’t do much for the paintwork. However that would be the same for any model regardless of what material it was made from.

There must be very good reasons why Battlefront are going down this road and these are outlined in the article.

The biggest benefit is the cost – we can produce flexible plastic figures almost 40% cheaper than metal equivalent, and this will be reflected in the price, which is surely good news for everyone!

Cheaper models are always nice, but cost is just one factor amongst many when it comes to choosing models to wargame with. Personally I think it’s a backward retro step, time to ensure I have enough metal models in the cupboard. I don’t mind paying the extra.

Back to the 1970s here we come….

SDD Matilda II

Matilda II
By No 1 Army Film & Photographic Unit [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Infantry Tank Mark II, best known as the Matilda, was a British infantry tank. The design began as the A12 specification in 1936, as a gun-armed counterpart to the first British infantry tank, the machine gun armed, two-man A11 Infantry Tank Mark I. The Mark I was also known as Matilda, and the larger A12 was initially known as the Matilda II, Matilda senior or Waltzing Matilda. The Mark I was abandoned in 1940, and from then on the A12 was almost always known simply as “the Matilda”.

With its heavy armour, the Matilda II was an excellent infantry support tank but with somewhat limited speed and armament. It was the only British tank to serve from the start of the war to its end, although it is particularly associated with the North Africa Campaign. It was replaced in front-line service by the lighter and less costly Infantry Tank Mk III Valentine beginning in late 1941.

This model is an SDD white metal kit that I bought in the 1990s.

Matilda II

SDD 15mm Tiger I

Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. E
By Capt. Tanner, War Office official photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Tiger I is the common name of a German heavy tank used in World War II, developed in 1942. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E, often shortened to Tiger. It was an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of Operation Barbarossa, particularly the T-34 and the KV-1. The Tiger I design gave the Wehrmacht its first tank mounting the 88 mm gun, which had previously demonstrated its effectiveness against both air and ground targets. During the course of the war, the Tiger I saw combat on all German battlefronts. It was usually deployed in independent tank battalions, which proved to be quite formidable..

SDD Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. E

I have already purchased a Flames of War blister of the German Tiger I E. This model is an SDD white metal kit that I bought in the 1990s. Unlike the Flames of War model this has just four parts.

SDD Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. E

I am thinking that I might use it as an objective or in some kind of terrain, one of the reasons for using the image above as inspiration.

British Bedford OXD

British Bedford OXD
By Zandcee (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Bedford OY is an army lorry built by Bedford for the British Armed Forces and introduced in 1939. It was based on Bedford’s O-series commercial vehicles with a modified front end and single rear tyres. The OXD was a general service vehicle, a short-wheelbase version of the OY, designed for a 30 cwt (1.5 ton) payload.

This is a photograph of a Bedford OXD in German army service in Hungary. So I was thinking I could paint it in this style.

British Bedford OXD
Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-715-0212A-26A / Kreutzer, Wilhelm / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
This is an SDD model I bought in the 1990s.

SDD British Bedford OXD

It comprises three parts in white metal.

SDD British Bedford OXD

After cleaning the castings the model will be stuck together and undercoated.

15mm Sarissa Precision Chateau

This is a laser cut MDF (and card) model of a Chateau from Sarissa Precision.

Sarissa Precision Chateau

It is unpainted model and comes as a flat pack of MDF and card.

The chateau has steps back and front. They comprise the steps and go together quite easily.

15mm Sarissa Precision Chateau

I like the railings which work well and don’t look too bulky for this small model.

15mm Sarissa Precision Chateau

The back steps are constructed in a similar manner.

15mm Sarissa Precision Chateau

15mm Sarissa Precision Chateau

The use of card for the window frames, shutters and plinths works well.

15mm Sarissa Precision Chateau

15mm Sarissa Precision Chateau

15mm Sarissa Precision Chateau

15mm Sarissa Precision Chateau

15mm Sarissa Precision Chateau

The most challenging aspect of the model was the roof. It had multiple dormer windows as well as a flat roof with railings (or balustrades)

15mm Sarissa Precision Chateau

There were multiple components and the construction was quite challenging.

15mm Sarissa Precision Chateau

The finished models looks very effective, I do think though I do need to give it a coat of paint.

Sarissa Precision Chateau

The rear view.

15mm Sarissa Precision Chateau

If I was to do this again, I think I might paint the card first, as I did with my Gaslamp buildings.

Finished the 4Ground 15mm Corner Bakery

4Ground 15mm Corner Bakery

Finally finished one of my Christmas presents (from some time ago) was the 4Ground 15mm Shop 4: Corner Bakery. I already have a couple of the 4Ground 15mm buildings, a pair of semi-detached houses and one of the hotels.

The Corner Bakery is a great piece of terrain to enhance your battle board. It comes pre-painted with 4Ground Base paints with high levels of internal detail as well as shop specific signage and acetate shop windows.

Each floor is removable allowing access to each one and the different rooms usable doors. To keep the floors in place there are little locking lugs in each corner. The external walls are rendered with cracked detailing and acetate window.

The model comes as flat pieces of coloured MDF which has been laser cut. Having put most of it together, I went ahead and finished it.

There are lots of details and depth to the models. The instructions are clear and the model is easy to assemble.

The model has separate floors allowing models to be placed inside the building.

As you can see the model’s pre-coloured MDF does make these stand out and quick to put onto the table.

4Ground 15mm Corner Bakery

In the end I found the model challenging to keep together as separate floors so I removed the lugs and stuck the whole building together.

I have added glazing to the windows and used the included posters on the wall.

4Ground 15mm Corner Bakery

I quite liked how the signage which comes with the model includes English signs, Operational Sealion anyone? Or what about a 1930s VBCW scenario? Though of course the building is quite continental in appearance.