British Armoured Train

Twelve armoured trains were formed in Britain in 1940 as part of the preparations to face a German invasion; these were initially armed with QF 6 pounder 6 cwt Hotchkiss guns and six Bren Guns. They were operated by Royal Engineer crews and manned by Royal Armoured Corps troops. In late 1940 preparations began to hand the trains over to the Polish Army in the West, who operated them until 1942.

They continued in use in Scotland and were operated by the Home Guard until the last one was withdrawn in November 1944. 

A 6-pounder wagon from one of these trains is preserved at the Tank Museum.

British Armoured Train

I’ve liked the idea of a British Armoured Train for some Operation Sealion games, however the challenge has been one of scale.

I have been painting and building Home Guard forces in 15mm and 28mm, however this makes it challenging to build a British Armoured Train. Yes you can get track from Battlefront for 15mm, but trains you would need to go down the TT gauge route for models, which are mainly kits and difficult to get hold of. With 28mm Bolt Action scale models you could go down the O gauge route for track and rolling stock, but again cost can be prohibitive.

The obvious route with OO gauge works fine if you play 20mm games as they are the same scale. However I don’t want to go down the road of another scale!

I think it will have to remain a pipe dream. 

Back in 2005 I blogged some ideas about an Operation Sealion German Armoured Train.

The German occupation forces would use armoured trains to protect the rail network from English terrorists (partizans) and important trains (carrying the ReichsMarshal of Great Britain for example).

Normally it would push a flat wagon with 40mm AT weapon on it and other wagons would include Flak wagons and heavy machine guns.

Would the Germans have shipped over a captured Polish Armoured Train or use their own armoured trains (as they did on the Eastern Front). In this instance the Flames of War 15mm models could be used.

Hmmm.

V1 and Launcher Ramp

The V-1 was the first of the so-called “Vengeance weapons” series  deployed for the terror bombing of London. It was developed at Peenemünde Army Research Center in 1939 by the Luftwaffe. Because of its limited range, the thousands of V-1 missiles launched into England were fired from launch facilities along the French (Pas-de-Calais) and Dutch coasts. The Wehrmacht first launched the V-1s against London on 13 June 1944, one week after (and prompted by) the successful Allied landings in France.

This V1 flying bomb and ramp was on display at The Imperial War Museum at Duxford.

V1

The V1 flying bomb was powered by an Argus 109-014 pulse-jet engine, carried a warhead of approximately 850kg, and was guided to its target by an autopilot. The maximum range was typically 149 miles, with a maximum speed of 400mph.

Although some V1s were air-launched, most were catapulted from specially constructed ramps.

V1 Ramp

I’ve always thought that either a Dutch or French Resistance or UK Commando raid on a V1 base to stop them launching would make for an interesting game. Why send in ground troops when a bombing raid would work just as well? Then I was thinking about adding in the complication of a chemical or biological armed V1 that would need to be taken care of on the ground. There were some real raids on V1 bases as part of Operation Crossbow., which was the code name in World War II for Anglo-American operations against the German long range reprisal weapons (V-weapons) programme. In 1965 a film Operation Crossbow, based on these raids, was released.

Battlefront released a 15mm version in their Hit the Beach Boxed set.

For 20mm gamers there is a 1/72nd model kit of the V1 and launch ramp available.

If you are playing Bolt Action, then Charlie Foxtrot Models do a MDF kit of the ramp for 28mm gamers, but you probably need to buy the Tamiya 1/48th scale plastic kit for the V1 itself. That kit does come with a trolley as well.

V1

There was a V1 at the Imperial War Museum in London.

Sorting my paints out!

Having some time over the weekend I decided it was time to sort out my collection of paints, washes and inks.

Painting more models now, meant that I have been going out to my local games shop to buy new paints. I realise that I must check what I have before buying paints, I now have three full pots of Ushabti Bone as well as two pots of Death World Forest. I wanted these colours, but didn’t realise I already had some in my collection.

I knew I had a few boxes of paints on my workbench, sorted a little by age, but there were various other paints across the workbench and a few hanging around with some sprue and stuff. I also had some paints that I had picked up from copies of Warhammer Conquest as well. I went through them and sorted them by make and colour. Sadly there were way too many I had to throw out due to age and being completely dried out. My painting history in many ways is defined by my paint purchasing history.

Like many (older) gamers I started painting my early Warhammer models with small tins of Humbrol enamel. My painting was very much followed my painting of Airfix and Matchbox model kits. Single colours, no shading or highlighting.

I do remember on a visit to the first Games Workshop shop in Hammersmith and looking at the models there on display marvelling at the amazing paintwork the painter had achieved, also having no real idea about how to even some close to that.

The Citadel released their acrylic Citadel Colour paints back in 1985. There were two set and individual colours. I remember buying Set 1 which included classic colour such as Skull White, Chaos Black as well as the never covered anything Sunburst Yellow. I do remember really liking the Enchanted Blue and using that a lot on some models. The boxed set cost £4.95 with individual paints at 60p each!

I used these paints a lot over that time to paint models. Some were difficult to use over black undercoats, so much so that often I would paint over the undercoat with white paint to ensure the colour would cover the part of the model I was painting.

My painting technique also started to evolve as well, though I did enter the first Golden Demon Award, I never stood a chance of winning!

I started initially using a black undercoat, and in some cases then just drybrushing the models. No basecoats, no layers, just drybrushing! This really didn’t work very well and so moved onto base coat and highlighting with some dry brushing on those kinds of things that work well with drybrushing, such as fur and wood.

Though I did start to use some blended and highlighting techniques and some of my models I was quite pleased with from that time.

I did start to use a fair few Tamiya Acrylic paints, in the main for bases. Their more naturalistic subdued and military colours made for better colours for bases I thought. Their Flat Green was so much nicer I thought than the Goblin Green that you would see on GW models.

Another paint I used a bit at this time was the Humbrol Acrylic range. Very small pots in comparison to Citadel and Tamiya, but they did have one drawback, the lids soon became very ill-fitting due to dried paint, so they would dry out so much faster than other paints in my collection.

One dramatic change to my painting technique was the release of the Citadel Inks. The Chestnut ink was a staple of my workbench for many years, though I didn’t like the glossy effect you got with the inks. 

It was a revelation when I realised, that by adding some ordinary paint to my ink wash, it would remove most if not all of the glossiness. That  changed how I would paint my models.

So when the inks were places with washes, Devlan Mud and Gryphonne Sepia were used extensively.

Another Citadel paint I liked a lot were the Foundation paints. Tausept Ochre became my most popular colour and too many of my models were painted this light sandy brown. I loved how they easily covered a black undercoat. The new Base paints are not as good.

When I got into Flames of War I knew I would need some other kinds of paint to paint the tanks and infantry, so I made quite a substantial purchase of their paints to paint my tanks.

This introduced me to the Vallejo range of paints. Being able to buy these from  a local model shop, made painting much easier, though I was finding it difficult to find the time to paint.

Having made the decision to paint some of my old 40K models, I checked over my blog how I had painted some of the models. The big challenge was that much of the Citadel paint range that I had used back then was now no longer available after Games Workshop changed the complete paint range.

Luckily there was a few places on the web to find out which old paints were replaced by which new ones.

Deciding to paint some models with BoltGun Metal and discovering that wasn’t available, and my last pot had dried up I placed an online order for its replacement, Leadbelcher.

Having sent off for some of this paint, I also included the Ork Flesh Contrast Paint in my order, as I was interested to see how these would work for my Orks. In a test I decided to paint the Krew of my Forge World Ork heavy weapons with the contrast paint.

I have to say I was quite impressed with the results on only a single coat. So much so I bought some of the others in the range to use on different models.

I know I have been painting quite a big as I am now on my third pot of Seraphim Sepia since the beginning of June! I am a fan of the shades, as they allow me to create effective paint schemes without too much effort!

I am never going to be a Golden Demon painter, I don’t have the patience, nor the eyesight, let alone the time to paint something to that standard. What I am trying to do now is paint the models so they are completed to a good level (for me) and they look good on the table.

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