Tanks in the snow

A fellow stormtrooper, Manni, has been itching to talk about his 7th Armoured Division – recently taken to MOAB:

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Hey everyone, today I will be talking about my Winter / Battle of the Bulge Americans! Mainly based out of the books from Blood Guts and Glory, (7th Armoured and 709th Tank Destroyers) and soon-to-be Nuts (Glider Rifles which are currently being built).

 

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As you can see my American tanks are all white washed and winterised, the process I use is salt masking. I’ve seen plenty of people do a white wash with toothpaste or just using an old brush to get the paint streaks but the salt masking gives it a wonderful looking two layered effect as well being pockmarked.

 

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My process is to paint the tanks in their regular colours, which include tracks, commanders, just to the point that I gave it the ink wash. After that I varnish the tanks, then I use masking tape to cover the tracks, the commanders, and stowage. Then comes the salt, place it on the most used areas or most vulnerable areas to begin rubbed off such as hatches, mud guards, all hard edges and so on. It’s up to you how fresh the white wash should be, more salt = more uncovered areas so think about what you want before you do it. After which you then grab a can of white spray paint, I use the Army Painter White base Primer since I have a lot of trust in Army Painter.

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I then spray the whole tank completely white, I have heard plenty that people have experimented with very thin coats of white to allow the base colour to show through but in all cases I have heard it looks terrible and that is my experience as well. Make sure you spray the white coat solidly, the same you would if you were priming or base coating the tanks.

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Then when it dries you scrape off the salt and remove the tape, I then grab a knife and softly scrape the white off the hard edges, sometimes it may not work and you could see the primer beneath but from a gaming distance it’s acceptable since it gives the mini’s edges more definition in case you haven’t put much salt on the edges. I then paint any tools or stowage that you couldn’t get to as well as any weathering such as snow on the tracks or whatever you feel like, lastly I put one last layer of varnish on and tada!

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I highly recommend using regular table salt, it’s cheap and plentiful as well as easier to move into position with a wet paintbrush. I experimented with crush rock salt but it was too difficult to use since the rocks themselves were almost the size of 15mm infantry and didn’t give too good of an effect, you can see my 75mm M4A3L Shermans are rock salt experiments.

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With Remagen now released, I am a little flummoxed as to what to do if I want to field Americans out of that but all in all they are still very similar, I just need to invest in some Chaffees which I will probably winterise anyway.

So that’s my Winter Americans, hopefully you all like them and possibly inspire you to create a winterized army!

Devil’s in Action – Chaffees Game 2

I got a second (and most likely, final) chance to run the Chaffees pre-MOAB this weekend. Justin has been salivating over Bridge at Remagen heavy German tanks (and their associated dirt-cheapness) and we fought it out with Fighting Withdrawl.

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This would be a good opportunity for the both of us; for Justin, the chance to see how four tanks defending (with removing platoons/objectives) was important pre-tournament. For me, well – I was desperate for the chance to run up against heavy armour (albeit… veterans in this case), especially in a scenario of always defends forcing me to come around the sides of the Kings to pop them, whilst minimizing casualties…

Justin was taking three King Tigers (two command tanks, one riding solo in a platoon), three panthers, two 10.5cm Artillery, panzerfaust-rifle grenadiers and sporadic Focke Wulf. My list would be the same MOAB-planned list.
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We set up the table, and Justin picked his side to defend:

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Justin’s left flank – panzerfaust grenadiers in a field

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10.5s guarding the central objective

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‘The Zoo’ – King Tigers and Panthers holding the right flank

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Close up of the cats

 

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My left flank – guarding against a potential tiger advance are one platoon of M24s, my trained TDs and the trained 15cm ‘captured’ guns

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And on the right – the bulk of my force – 2nd infantry, command M24s (not in shot) and Cav Recon… on a road!

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Pre game shot

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and one of my side!

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With Justin not having any recce – it was straight over to me. Cav recon didn’t make full use of their road advantage – but still look sweet!

Post recce move – (Audie decided to stay with his platoon) it was on for the first turn.

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Turn one and the recce go hell for leather

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With no ‘credible’ (famous last words) templates in Justin’s army, the right flank bunch up nice and tight

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While the left flank ‘reorganizes’

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The AOP ranges in on the Panthers but I fail to hit (having ranged in on the last attempt..) However the Chaffees make full use of their available ammunition and smoke the ROF 3 company command King

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Pinned reluctant infantry – yay!

That was a quick first turn – my decoy worked; the TD’s lured both command tigers on the already heavily defended left flank. Utilizing their speed and small size, both the TDs and the Chaffees make a bee-line for the middle of the table. Realising the right objective is one assault away from being captured, Justin calls the Luftwaffe and…

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No credible templates… oops

The FW (Stuka) swoops and and kills one stand – go infantry saves! Importantly, he’s potentially bought some extra time by pinning my confident troops.

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First blood to Justin

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German artillery tries to get a few more GIs with no luck

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Game changing moment right here – the Kings and Panthers move out to engage me

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Panthers don’t like being ranged in, apparently

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With his left flank exposed and outnumbered, the platoon KT moves toward the far objective – popping some shots at the recce but failing to hit

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The kings find the shooting rather tough, but bag a Chaffee nonetheless

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Before the central KT storm troopers towards the left objective

Turn two and things start to heat up.

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Audie and his boys unpin and head into the forest for an assault…

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But its the M24s who make it in, losing one on the way in but forcing the Germans back

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After shooting up one gun, the Cav Recon get ballsy and charge the remaining 10.5cm. The KT sees it off… with a re-roll of course!

Justin responds by moving the cats up… again!

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Central KT moves to engage the assaulting Chaffees

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While the command tigers go hunting the other platoon of M24s

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Caught between a rock and a hard place, the Chaffees take another casualty.

I actually start turn 3 in possession of the central objective, thanks to these little guys (the KT had moved up field):

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90 points of victory!

Winning the game 6-1 without even scratching the paint. Well, Justin’s paint anyway. Since neither of us got much out of a 5 turn game, we decided to push on, and I see how my little tanks can go against three hungry Kings.

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Step one – flank shots. Who said AT10 was terrible? One bailed, reluctant KT…

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The two remaining Chaffees get to work on the Panthers, repeating step one – flank shots for the win!. Now you see me…

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… and now you don’t! Reluctant platoon check – ouch!

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I go for all objectives, bail another Chaffee and push the Grenadiers away. They pass their reluctant platoon moral, ex SS guys perhaps?

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Squish!

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The KTs attempt to avenge their fallen cats – bagging a Chaffee…

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With the survivor promptly failing its motivation check. 1-1 on Platoons!

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My infantry and Chaffees finish off the Grenadiers will I pop and move my TD’s to engage the KT

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Despite four M10s and one stationary Chaffee hitting it – the KT shrugs everything off, before the 2IC at the rear scores a bail… one reluctant double bail check later… 3-1 on platoons!

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After three turns of ranging in and being bounced, team 15cm-AOP score a direct hit, on the King of Kings, Command Tiger

Losing a third platoon – Justin starts his fourth turn under half strength, and promptly fails that check too.

What surprised me in this game, was how versatile this list is – everything, even the cheap recce, can contribute significantly. What didn’t surprise me, was how much effort it takes to crack a KT. 210 points for a 305point monster is a great trade (15cm guns) but that took five turns! The reality is, I got lucky with Justin being so aggressive. Had he played defensively as all good “always defends lists” can, I’d have been up for much more pain.

 

 

Devil’s in Action – Chaffees Game 1

First game out with the little Chaffees that could and I’m up against cheatnadian Canadians, run by Australia’s (current) No.1 Ranked Canadian player, Alex.

Alex ran a Rifle Company from Market Garden; two platoons with Kangaroo APCs, a mixed Carrier Platoon (Wasps/Universal Carriers), an Armoured Recce Platoon with one Firefly, 4 M10 17pdrs and 8 25pdr (trained) guns. Ouch. The 25pdrs, with rof 2, AT9 and turntables could pose a massive threat to my paper tanks.

I went with my MOAB Chaffees. I know some people don’t like playing blue vs blue, but at a Grand Tournament like MOAB it’s almost inevitable. This would be a good test to see how I could deal with Veteran opponents (and those with excellent special rules to boot).

Alex rolled Free For All and I won the roll for attacker, picking the heavier forest side to protect my light tanks.

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US left flank – rifles and captured guns

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US middle – Chaffees, Recon, TD’s. The other M24 platoon is on the far right guarding the wheat field objective

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Oh Canada… right flank, infantry, 25pdrs (Land Mattresses moonlighting in this game) and ‘real’ M10s.

Knowing the full potential of direct fire 25pdrs, Alex spread the artillery out between the two objectives. Meaning I’d need to hit the guns either way, to take the game.

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Canadian left flank

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Canada in the middle. Featuring Adam’s painted terrain

I left my right flank minimally defending on purpose; I was hoping to tempt Alex out of the forest with his firefly’s and mounted infantry to swarm my M24 platoon – who would in turn be supported by my other Chaffees and M10s. Alex didn’t take the bait (a rather expensive fishing trip!), so it was up to me to bring the game to him!

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M24s, recce and TD security move out behind the forested cover

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What a juicy target for the AOP to spot… the captured guns hit two M10s and bail one… not a great start for the artillery

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Recce keeping their eyes open

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Alex returned fire on my guns, ranging in and… missing. This would be a common theme

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After remounting his M10, Alex moves them up, wasting the M24 platoon command and bailing another…

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With Alex’s M10s in the open, I pop my TD ambush and waste the platoon. 3 kills, a double bail (Canada passes) and a failed platoon check. 1-0 at the second!

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Chaffees move up to tempt Alex..

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Carnage on turn 2!

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In my haste to find a good ambush location for the TD’s, I failed to account for a) range and b) Semi-indirect Fire. Alex ignores the wheat field Chaffees and brews up the M10s – three kills, one bail (sound familiar?). I pass the motivation check to stay around, but get blasted on Alex’s next turn

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‘Roos move out…

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Canadian recce disengages as I go for cheap kills

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With Alex ranged in on my guns, the AOP goes for the staff team, and a couple of Shermans…

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The staff team save (pinning the arty) and the two Shermans bounce the AT5 rounds… this would also be a recurring theme! The SMG infantry dismount and move up to the objective, while my Chaffees knock the wasps out.

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AOP switches to the infantry, bagging two stands

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Got too close! The chaffees whiff their shots at the infantry, and cop a couple of Firefly rounds in return

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Alex still ranged in…

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… and misses my two (non-dug in) guns

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I clear out the Recce and Wasps to go 3-1 up on platoons – looking to get Alex under, I move up to snipe the Firefly and the other Shermans at range. I kill two…

 

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… but Alex passes motivation… again. This firefly fights on to brew up my wheatfield Chaffees and ice the other platoon. 3-3 at the death!

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Arty update… Alex finally hits my two remaining guns, who fail their save and the platoon runs off, bringing me under half. I promptly fail my motivation, 4-3 Alex!

As with all of our games, Alex and I really gave each other a bloody nose. I failed to use my infantry in the game, and really need to get them into the mix. Chaffee speed was quite useful (expected) but their gun… proved better than expected. Having played most of my games with AT 14 or above, I was concerned at the comparatively weaker AT 10, but with stabilisers boosting the shot volume, the Chaffees had no problem picking up a few kills.

I’ll need to use the TD’s more successfully too – it was a waste just going after Alex’s M10s (especially when I could have ambushed them where they wouldn’t get seen) – but using these takes practice… exactly what this game was for!

Pact with the Devil – Part 1

With MOAB around the corner, its time to pick a list and get some practice in. With Sean recently painting up my M24 Chaffees, this seemed as good a time as any to run a Light Tank Company. There’s been plenty of talk (and a whole article) about Bridge at Remagen Chaffees, and in truth I had given some thought into bagging the ‘bargain basement’ Reluctant Veteran M24s.

In the end though, my trusty Devil’s Charge book offered (to me at least) the most interesting Light Tank Company list and support options. 2nd Cav have a couple of bonuses built in; they gain British Bulldog against SS units in assaults and can re-roll a reserve or scattered reserve roll once per turn.

Onto the company: ChafWhats in the list:
10 M24 Chaffees. With three MGs including a .50cal (how do the get so many guns on such a small tank!) and an AT10 main gun, these light tanks will be doing the heavy lifting. The Veteran rating should help to mitigate the paper armour, and both direct fire smoke and stabilisers are gold.

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With great power comes… great perks! Smoke, stabilisers, light tank mobility and .50cals!

Tank destroyers are a must – and I’m bringing along four M10 3in (late) tank hunters. Rating isn’t such a big deal on these, as once popped from ambush they’re likely to be annihilated by return fire. AT 13 is a big help for the M24s.

My other support choices include the fairly typical awesome US options – Cav Recon, 2nd Infantry Rifles with max bazookas (Winter Training for the win!) and an AOP – which can act as a second recce unit in denying ambushes.

Two units in particular deserve a bit of attention. Firstly, 2nd Lieutenant Audie Murphy. Cotton Farmer, Movie Star and one of the most decorated American soldiers of the war. Audie received every military combat award for valor available from the U.S. Army, including the Medal of Honour at 19! audie-murphy

Audie replaces my rifle platoon command team – and is an awesome addition to the company. Tank Assault 3, a Recce Team, and a pain to kill via Warrior Save, and  Audie’s best rule is his artillery bonus – as a spotting team Audie does not suffer the +1 penalty needed to range in artillery.

Speaking of artillery…

Captured Guns! Provisional artillery including four German 15cm sFH18 howizters. Provisional guns come with a couple of negatives; no smoke bombardments, and not Time on Target – but they do have a staff team, so the AOP can spot for their devastating AT 5 PF 2+ bombardments. I love the description for these in Devil’s Charge and I can’t wait to have them on the table.

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Chaffee’s hunt for glory

So that’s the list. A well rounded 6 platoons, with a bit of everything. No AT 16 crutches for me!

Painting US Armour

First off, no, the irony of US Armour and correct English spelling isn’t lost on me, lol.

Finished product, with too much light.

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Second, I thought I’d put up a quick guide to how I paint US tanks from WWII, for use in Flames of War.

This is commission work, so sadly I don’t get to keep them.

Disclaimer: My emphasis with painting is to balance speed with quality, so I’ve worked to develop techniques to meet that balance. I don’t do complicated weathering, chipping or highlighting, I find the application of these techniques at this scale unrealistic, just my personal view.

First step, obviously, is to build the tank. Then I use a can of black spray paint, from a can, to give a solid undercoat. I don’t use primer per se, just matt black paint.

Second is to give a base coat. This can be with a brush, spray can or airbrush. I’ve used all of them, they all have pros and cons, but I generally like spray cans if you can get them in the right colour. For this demo, I got a can of Tamiya Olive Drab spray from a local hobby shop.

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After this I mix up a lighter base coat in the airbrush, mixing Taimya Olive Drab and white, mixed about 50/50 with Isopropyl alcohol that I got from the hardware shop.

I try and keep the direction of the paint from above the tank, to create shadow effect using the detail moulded into the tank.

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Then, another, lighter base coat/highlight. Just add some more white, no specific measure here, just what seems to suit. Focus more on the panels and high edges, to create an effect of natural light.

After that a third highlight, a drop more white into the airbrush.

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After this, spray with Testors dullcote to lock in the spray.

The next step depends on the models and the position of decals. Option one, can either put decals on straight away, option two or wash first, then put decals. If the decals are in ares with sculpted detail, it’s often better to apply decals first, then wash.

If you apply decals first, then wash, it’s important to put another coat of dullcote over the decals, otherwise the wash will ‘bleed’ into the decal, and look bad. For these tanks it was ok to wash fist, for US halftracks, for example, putting stars on the bonnet means decals first, then dullcote, then wash. (see Heer 46 post for examples where I’ve done this).

I decided to wash first, (one less step, means it’s a bit faster) so I use a pin wash with MIG pigments ‘dark wash’ thinned with turps. You can do a ‘quick’ pin wash, which is a little messy, then use turps on an ear bud, (cotton tip) to wipe across the surface. Note, don’t use isopropyl alcohol for this, I found out the hard way it removes dull cote. Once the wash is dry and cleaned up, I put some gloss varnish where the decals are to go, let that dry, put on decals, another dull cote to lock it all in, then weather.

Weathering is two stage, first I use a highlight colour to edge the raised bits on the tank, I don’t know what colour these are, the label has worn off, it’s a very light greyish green. Then I dry brush dark sand over the tracks and running gear, then wash/wet brush Vallejo brown earth over the top. Pick out crew, machine guns, tools, etc. and jobs a good in

Some Jacksons from a previous commish.

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Hope this is clear enough, but if you have any questions, feel free to post them.

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