Extreme Makeover: British 25 Pounder Medium Artillery Battery Upgrade –
Step by Step
By David Geddes
Fellow Aussie David Geddes has kindly given Panzer Angriff permission to post his amazing painting guide from the Flames of War Facebook group
I don’t know about you….but as I get older and progress through my hobby I get better at painting figures. It gets to a point where you look back at what you painted when you started and it’s so bad that you don’t want to take it out of the case anymore. This 25 Pounder Battery is such a case. I bought and painted them about 6 years ago and don’t even want to look at them anymore. As a result I’ve decided to re-do them and give them a…. extreme makeover.
Please note that David uses a mix range of paints, to make it easier for the reader all paints have be matched to the Vallejo Model Color.
As you can see they are quite ordinary, there is no highlighting or layering. They just look a bit tired and dated. It is possible to strip figures down and completely re-paint them from the start, but this battery doesn’t really suit that technique. I am happy with the current coat on the guns and carrier as the base coat on my new paint job so I don’t really want to strip and repaint.
What I propose to do is simply upgrade them. I have only tried this once before on an 88mm platoon and it worked quite well.
I hope it goes well on this occasion
As you can see…..it’s quite an ordinary job. Not happy at all and as a result, I haven’t played with them for ages.
The first step is using these 2 items sand and PVA Glue.
I simply use an old paintbrush to apply the glue to the base.
Simply apply it all over the bases.
You might have to water the glue down a bit, and make sure it gets all over and around the flock already stuck to the bases.
A shot of the base with glue applied
Then a simple dip into fine sand for the base, moving your finger around the sides to wipe off any excess sand from the base.
Sometimes the grass and sand will tend to sit up a bit, but a quick tap or 2 on the hobby knife will make it sit flat.
The base with the glue and sand applied. As the glue dries it will tend to make all the grass sit down anyway.
On this particular base there is flock on the sides. I scrape that off with the hobby knife as I want a clean look in that area
The base with the sides scraped.
A dash of glue and a dip in sand for this one as well.
I removed the guns from the bases quite easily. The gun bases where then given the same Glue and Sand Treatment as the others.
A shot of the whole platoon.
When the sand dries it’s time for the figures to be given an undercoat on top of the current paintwork. It’s just a cheap black water based colour I got from somewhere. A large brush dipped in water and black paint allows the paint to flow into all the cracks and crevices, covering the entire figure. You can be sloppy and not worry about it going onto the sand as that will all be painted over.
The whole platoon with undercoated figures
From this stage on, I try to stick to a system. Bases, Guns & vehicles, then figures. Unfortunately this platoon did not lend itself to a system, lengthening the time taken to paint it as you will see. The ground on this platoon is a Lighter brown than recent projects. The base colour is Vallejo Model Colour VMC 983 Flat Earth, make sure to dip a lot of water into it as it is needed to flow around the sand and go into every crack and crevice.
The whole platoon is completed in this way.
A shot of the whole platoon with base ground base coat on.
While the base coat is drying and for greater realism I like to drill out the gun barrels and muzzle breaks, I think it adds a great look to the guns.
It only takes a few minutes and is well worth the time in my opinion.
I then do a dry brush VMC 976 Buff once the base tone of the ground had dried. A shot of the bases with the colour applied.
Then a very light dry brush of VMC 951 White.
In all things I’m trying to apply 3 colours, a lower, mid and upper colour tone. It helps to give a base or figure depth when you look at it.
The whole platoon with VMC 951 White dry brush applied.
Next I’m going to go around the base edges for neatness a shot of the base with VMC 921 English Uniform on the edge.
With VMC 978 Dark Yellow and VMC 872 Chocolate Brown colours I’m going to mark the back of each base according to platoon. I need 2 colours because the Battery Command Team and the Staff team in a British Artillery battery are independent of the rest of the Gun Troop and can be assigned to other Troops from the same Battery.
The rear of the Gun Troop, now I will know which troop they all belong to.
The Commander and Staff Team was given a stripe of the lighter colour.
Any decals that I wish to apply should go onto this Carrier now. I want the decals to look like they are painted and are the same age as the old battered carrier. That means when I apply washes later on, the decals will look faded and more realistic. Also, on this side the ladder is going to interfere with any decals attached.
That problem is solved by simply cutting a section of a decal and attaching it in between the ladder rungs.
The decal did not line up quite correctly but a small dab of white paint in the area finished it off. A tiny bit of effort has added greatly to the realism of the model.
A decal on the other side does not need alteration.
A small amount of decal softener will allow each decal to suck into the folds of the model and add to the realism as well.
Next stage is an application of brown wash to all the guns and carrier.
This gives each model a dirty look, but also dries in greater thickness in any folds or crevices, giving the model 2 tones. (So Far) A lower tone with the wash and an upper tone with the painted surface
A gun with the wash applied, see how it has dried in greater thickness in the line between the gun.
Shield and the upper shield that looks like it can be folded down for greater visibility.
The carrier with the wash applied. Notice how it is also assisting in giving the decal a worn look
Now for the highlights. This is the colour I propose to use. I want to paint all the raised surfaces of each gun and carrier, giving them the 3rd and final tone.
The carrier with VMC 886 Green Grey highlights applied. I only go over any raised parts or edges.
Gun with the Highlight applied.
The whole platoon with the highlight applied
Now for a bit more realism, I’m modelling this army on the 15th Scottish division in Normandy.
A quick look in the Battlefront Overlord book shows me the Artillery Regiments attached to the 15th Scottish Division.
A look at google shows that some guns had their Regiment numbers on the front of the gun together with another symbol.
I am always in favour of bringing as much colour to the model as I can to try and break up the monotony, so I will attempt to do this on my guns group.
This can very difficult, I don’t have the right decals for the regiment so I am going to try and hand paint them.
The main thing about hand painting letters and numbers is keeping things straight and square.
I start with a little VMC 950 Black square on the shield.
Using VMC 957 Flat Red and VMC 844 Deep Sky Blue, I make 2 smaller rectangles within the black square.
You never get them equally half and half on the first attempt, but you can go over it with the other colour until it looks right.
Also go over the edges in black again to make it look square.
Now the letters VMC 951 White. Paint has to be right in the middle between wet and dry.
You don’t want it to run, but you want a nice thin line. I should have chosen 44….as four, with its straight lines is much easier to paint than a 2….oh well.
The 2 is okay, but a bit thick and wonky on the top right.
A quick going over with the red on the edges of the 2 makes it look much better.
Now for a little symbol above VMC 951 White. In my case a little Crown, which is just a small horizontal line with 3 vertical lines poking out of the top.
At some stage I also apply a watered down mid grey to the wheels to give them a worn look.
All guns done. A little bit more effort but adds to the look and helps break up the green colour.
An application of wash over those decals helps to blend them into the rest of the gun and make it look more realistic.
A look at the Battlefront website on marking British vehicles informs that they are also marked with the regiment and the division.
I have done that using the same method as previously shown.
The Divisional symbol on the right is simply black square, a yellow dot, and a red stick figure to look like a dragon.
And a shot of the back.
As these were applied after the wash for the model, I reapply the wash on the painted decals to bring them back to the same age as the rest of the carrier.
Okay…..now we can start to work up from the ground on the bases. I have to go over the items on each base with black again as the lighter tones from painting the ground have brushed onto the equipment and figures.
A shot of the whole platoon now based and undercoated for the 2nd time
The greys and the white are the colours I’m using for the rocks on the bases.
The same 3 layered look was applied to the rocks.
VMC 862 Black Grey
VMC 991 Dark Sea Grey
VMC 951 White
A base Grey, mid grey and then a dry brush of white to make them stand out.
The rocks with just VMC 862 Black Grey and VMC 991 Dark Sea Grey applied.
The rocks with VMC 951 White applied.
Now a highlight for the traverse wheel for each gun on every gun base.
It’s now time to paint the equipment. I use VMC 984 Flat Brown on the metal cases.
I then applied a 50-50 of VMC 984 Flat Brown and VMC 951 White to bring up the highlights.
Different boxes and equipment in VMC 850 Medium Olive, then a 50-50 VMC 951 White dry brush.
Now for the wooden boxes with metal straps, I use VMC 875 Beige Brown and VMC 863 Gunmetal Grey
Again….once the wooden box was painted a 50-50 dry brush of the same wood colour VMC 875 Beige Brown and VMC 951 White brings the box out.
VMC 882 Middlestone for this other thingy………don’t ask me what it is.
The ammo shells and cases in VMC 801 Brass.
I made an error when I painted all items in the boxes as shells. I thought no one in their right mind would put the explosive and the projectile in the same box and store them together.
Research later on would prove me wrong and I corrected it.
All shells painted. I leave a black line between the primer cap and the rest of the shell as it helps to make them stand out.
A look at google for British ww2 ammo boxes shows that a lot of them had this yellow writing on them.
I used VMC 953 Flat Yellow to paint my own yellow writing.
Just a line but at this scale who is going to know…….Also….your eye at this scale can be tricked.
If something looks right your eye and your mind tends to fill in the detail
VMC 976 Buff is the sandbag colour, I leave the recessed area’s black to try and give the sandbags a bit of depth.
The whole platoons sandbags done.
Next a brown wash is applied to the sand bags………
To give them a dirty sandbag look
Time for metal tracks on the carrier VMC 863 Gunmetal Grey.
Now for the wooden ladder VMC 875 Beige Brown, which you can see here.
VMC 961 Sky Blue for the headlight.
VMC 910 Orange Red for the tables and chairs on the staff team…..again with a 50-50 white dry brush.
Next in part 2… time to start on the figures