Monday, 23 July 2018

New Study Materials... excitement!

Just a very brief blog post this time.

I dont know where it came from but for as long as I can remember (although with age that is rapidly shortening!) I have had a hard on for Poland '39

I collected and read everything I could that was written in the English language... but lets be honest the sources and more especially the details are a bit thin on the ground where the English language is concerned.

... so I taught myself how to translate Polish... and wow what a world that opened up for me!

So obviously those of you who are regular readers will know that Ive done a lot of translation work relating to the Black Brigade and the National Defence...

but there are other organisations that are just tooooooooo fascinating to be ignored and I just received my latest book order from my mother in law in Poland (see image)


So what is all of this loveliness then?

Well just like I've completed a FoW document on the Obrona Narodowa for you hallowed gamers out there, next year I hope to do one of the last pillar of the Polish military triumvirate; the Korpus Ochrany Pogranicza (KOP) a.k.a The Border Protection Corps. I've now accrued about 8 books on these guys and only have a cavalry book to source for me to start work.

I'm also really interested in the Policja Panstwowe. These are essentially a state sponsored pseudo militaristic police force that even the majority of Poles have forgotten that these guys were fighting the length and breadth of Poland in '39. I now have a couple of books and half a dozen documents on their arms and organisations. Should provide something to work with.

Finally one area that I am really REALLY interested is the Polish river fleets. They didn't really play much of a part in '39 BUT the potential is fantastic and the modelling opportunities are out of this world. I just received the last issue of the Lexicon that I didn't have covering the Flotilla's. Add this to all of the other books and documents I have about this its going to provide the foundation for another document about that!

I see interesting times ahead!

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Spain in Flames: Compañía del Requeté

...and now for something completely different!

So Ive been ploughing away with the Polish for longer than I care to think about now and whilst I crave something with a different colour palette I have no wish yet to dive back into my Napoleonic era stuff so I needed something else...

I REALLY like painting 15mm stuff. The scale covers a multitude of sins (and errors) and you can knock out large armies in a relatively short space of time

Now one of those largely undiscovered gems of 20th Century War(games) is most definitely the Spanish Civil War a.k.a The Spanish Holocaust, a war which some claim to be the real start of the Sscond World War... and with some justification.



One of the benefits of the Spanish Civil War is that Peter Pig is one of, if not THE prime sculpting and manufacturing companies in the world for Spanish Civil War miniatures and combine that with Minairon Miniatures 15mm SCW vehicles you have almost everything you need to field almost anything that you could dream of in the SCW.


One of the best things about the SCW in my opinion is the raft of beautifully exotic Spanish uniforms that most of the Nationalist (Franco's fascists) troops wore, along with most of the A Team bubblegum and elastic band armoured vehicles that the Commie backed Republics fielded.

One of the military branches of the Nationalist army whose uniforms first attracted me to the Spanish Civil War was the ultra conservative Carlist Requetes. A bunch of hard core religious nutcases who violently opposed the wave of liberalism that swept across the world in the 20th Century. Spain, being a staunchly Catholic bastion for a number of centuries as well as still being a monarchy by the 1930's one would expect that the whole country would be staunchly conservative... but no!


...and therein lay the rub!


Initially they supported the Franco Coup because nominally he wanted to restore the monarchy and the negotiations with General Mola to bring the Carlist organisation (a shadow of its former glory by the 1930's although this would very soon change) into the fold of the Nationalist power grab proved to be extremely tough with the Carlists finally agreeing to suspend their badgering for more 'things' whilst the war lasted but promising significant concessions by the projected military government that would follow.


The Carlist joined Franco and quickly grew from a national presence of only 60,000 individuals based predominantly in Navarre to over 200,000 spread across the entirety of Spain. 

In the early stages of the war they gained a very well deserved reputation as well trained and hard hitting shock troops with such religious fervour and contempt for personal danger that victory for them was always a matter of certainty and ordained by God!


Anyway, a new army meant a new painting challenge that required new techniques so rather than waste time with a lot of historical mumbo jumbo I will just endeavour to show you how I knocked these guys together.


So I'm actually going to start with the Schneider 70/16 70mm Infantry Support artillery piece as there are not many photographs of these guns out there much less options out there to field one of these in 15mm so I thought it would be worthwhile having a look at how I pulled one together.

The gun itself is from the ever faithful Peter Pig. Its a Stormtrooper Field Gun from their World War 1 German range minus the gun shield that's provided with the kit and replaced with a home made double layered plastic card gun shield, scored along the panel lines of the real gun shield.


So the German field gun isn't a perfect replica of the Schneider with a bar trail instead of the double bar joined trail but its the right size for the Schneider and with the custom made gun shield you wouldn't know any different by looking at it.

Where the painting is concerned its a pretty simple affair in the big scheme of things with the model being undercoated black and then airbrushed a basecoat of Tamiya XF-58 Olive Green which is then panel highlighted with Lifecolor Khaki Olive Drab and then Lifecolor Olive Drab Faded Type 2


Once this is done the camouflage patterns are applied using Vallejo's Flat Brown (V984) and Vallejo's Green Ochre (V914). Once dry a layer of varnish is applied and an AK Interactive Wash (Wash for Nato Vehicles) is liberally applied. Left to dry and then the excess is wiped off leaving all of the profiling on the gun. 


The final stage of painting is the weathering and for this I do a couple of steps that are very simple. I grab hold of an old kitchen sponge and pull off a small rough section. I use Vallejo's Chipping Colour and dab the sponge in it, dabbing off the excess onto a paper towel. Once prepared I then press the sponge against the gun and most especially along the hard sharp edged areas where most of the rusting and deterioration would likely be. Some of the larger areas of rust were profiled with thin streaks of Vallejo's Iraqi Sand running along one of the edges of the rusted area.

Bosh! Job done!


So next to look at would be the flags. I used two flags for my Company Command. One for each base and having experienced medieval flags and warhammer flags many years ago I quite frankly just do not have the willpower to repeat what I ended up doing for my Polish cavalry and Obrona Narodowa so opted to just buy Carlist flags from Minairons in Spain.


The yellow and red flag is a typical Spanish Coronela, equivalent to a British regiments Kings Colours with a little something added to show its a Carlist flag 


Whilst the other base was given the white flag of the 3rd Tercio of Navarre who were the Requetes poster boys of the 30's


The first step is to cut the flags out of its paper which it arrives on, and trim it the size that you want it.


Fix the flag to its pole by painting both sides of the flag with PVA glue and then using tweezers and cocktail sticks mount it on the pole, press both sides together and the create a flapping effect in the flag by rolling around cocktail sticks then bending in a random fashion to create the effect fabric undulating in the breeze.


The final step is to pay attention to the edges of the flag which, no matter the colour of the face will have a white edge because of the fact it is cut paper. Choose colours that mirror the colours of your flag perfectly and then paint the edge..

voila! A perfectly finished flag! (or two!)


So what next then? Ah yes, the figures. What figures am I using and where do they need conversions.

Now here is the thing. Peter Pig is the only (in my opinion) credible manufacturer of 1/100 Spanish Civil War figures (not the vehicles, just the figures) in the world. There are a couple of other obviously but the sculpts are pretty shocking, although nowhere near the same league as Battlefronts Polish sculpts. Now Martin at Peter Pig can only produce so many man hours of work at a time and Peter Pigs 15mm ranges are pretty prolific. Their Spanish Civil War stuff just cannot cover everything and because of this conversion work becomes necessary.


When looking for suitable figures for conversion its important to realise that a perfect fit is going to happen very VERY rarely but fortunately the era of the Spanish Civil War  there were a lot of nations across the world with almost identical uniform design and with the Spanish Civil War Carlists, my go to solution for missing troop types was the French WW2 Motorised Troops that Peter Pig support.


The uniforms are not, and do not need to be identical. As soon as an armed trooper hits the ground he will start adjusting his gear for comfort so water bottles may have been replaced, an extra ammo pouch may have been carried, and old and worn out satchel may have been ditched...and importantly not all Requetes carried blankets rolled across their bodies.


The absolutely needed to have the long wrap around puttees though. Or else completely loose trousers with no puttees at all... and obviously with the exception of some helmet clad troops the rest absolutely needed to have the famous Carlist Beret.


So what are the Carlists missing in the Peter Pig range? Well Peter Pig makes no SCW mortars.. at all! The Carlists have no HMG's and they have no dedicated banner bearers (after my Obrona Narodowa adventures Im pretty finished with their cross bearing psychopaths!)


The Hotchkiss HMG's and the light mortar teams are both Peter Pig French Motorised packs. One member of the artillery piece crew is a Peter Pig WW1 Polish artillery crewman whilst the rest also come from Peter Pigs French Motorised Anti-Tank gun crew packs.


Every single miniature that comes from another range has had a head-swap, predominantly for the Carlist beret head that Peter Pig does. However Peter Pig also produces a couple of different helmets that were used in the SCW and perhaps the most iconic is the Spanish M26 helmet which were mainly supplied with a coat of green paint although as stocks were used up it wasn't unusual to be given a plain steel helmet with no paint at all... Peter Pig produce packs of these helmets which I snapped up!

... and of course, last but not least is the nice priestly figure that is accompanying the Company Command base. The Requetes were renowned for having Catholic priests braving ridiculous dangers to administer the last rites to downed Requetes. All of the Tercios that took part in the SCW had priests accompanying them. Peter Pig doesn't make one so this one, after buying priests from just about every other manufacturer that I could find, this one came from an Essex Miniatures priest pack which I had also been using for my Spanish Napoleonic Army peasants bases as well. 


So what about the painting for these guys then?

Plenty of colours here so I'll just address the overall requirement and then go into each of the elements.

One of the best thing about 15mm is the opportunity to put detail onto a miniature whilst being able to stand back and admire the mass effect. 

Ruben is usually my go to guy when I want inspiration for the painting of complex uniforms and/or colours.

However, whilst Ruben Torregrosa's work is something to be put on a pedestal and greatly admired, to be blunt I have neither the patience or the time to achieve what he does so I have to find methods that are functionally similar and yet quicker to achieve. So, if you want to gain more time you have to sacrifice either money or quality. Well the money is already spent so that leaves quality... and this is where 15mm figures come into their own.


I don't want to get involved in all of the really nice shading and stuff because at this scale it just saps the fun out of it for me. I would rather use carefully chosen block colours to give the impression of creased and folded fabrics from a short distance away... and that is the reason I chose the colour palette and methodology that I did!


So, lets start with the heads then.

Berets

The berets all have a basecoat of Vallejo's Black Red (V.859) applied with large parts of it overpainted with Vallejo Game Colour's Gory Red (V.GC.011) although slightly diluted. The final highlight on the red is with Vallejo Game Colour's Bloody Red (V.GC.010) which is painted on neat to provide an appropriate contrast.

The tassel has a basecoat of Vallejo's English Uniform (V.921) block highlighted with Vallejo's Deep Yellow (V.915)


Green Helmets

The M28 helmets are in two colour versions. The first is the green one which has a basecoat of Vallejo's Russian Green (V.894) highlighted with a 50/.50 mix of this and Vallejo's Brown Violet (V.887) although its no longer available and so you will need to use Vallejo's US Olive Drab which carries the same code but just very slightly greener than the original.


Bare Steel Helmets

The other helmet is the bare steel one. Now, I have always had issues with many of the metallic paints that most of us grew up with. Games Workshops being (historically) some of the worst available on the market.

Personally I like to use Molten Metals Steel paint as the basecoat. Its got really strong pigmentation content and provides awesome colour and coverage but what do you highlight with to accentuate the colour perfectly? Well I like to use Vallejo's Metal Medium (V.521). Wet blending this into the helmet is what gives these Steel helmets their shine. I love it!


Jackets and Shirts

So the shirts and jackets worn by the Tercio's were predominantly of a light brown, khaki colour. The shirts and jackets on the Carlist miniatures are exceptionally well sculpted with a mass of detail so all of the hard edged shading and highlighting  was a perfect option.

The jackets and shirts all had a basecoat of Vallejo's German Camouflage Medium Brown (V.826) applied with a primary highlight of Vallejo's Khaki (V.988) which is put on so its the most prevalent colour on the clothing. A Secondary or Top Highlight of Vallejo Model Air's Sand (Ivory) (V.MA.075) is applied by brush. This gives a slightly softer highlight due to the extra dilution that the Model Air range come in. This softens the whole aesthetic.


Trousers

nice and simple here. A basecoat of Vallejo's Military Green (V.975) with a primary highlight of Vallejo's Reflective Green (V.890) with a secondary highlight of a 50/50 mix of Reflective Green with Vallejo's Desert Yellow (V.977)


Belts, Boots and Bags

Carlist belts and ammunition pouches were manufactured out of brown leather. Their ankle boots were made out of the same leather as well, or at least a closely coloured approximation.

A basecoat of Vallejo Game Colour's Charred Brown (V.GC.045) is applied with a primary highlight of Vallejo's Flat Earth (V.983). Nice and simple.

The boots often had their socks rolled over the top of the boots creating a light band around the ankle area. I just painted a simple band of Vallejo's Ivory (V.918) to represent this.

The Bags and upper body straps were all made out of rough canvas and denim materials. Relatively easy to reproduce.

A basecoat of Vallejo's English Uniform (V.921) is put on and has a primary highlight of Vallejo's Khaki (V.988) applied. Again nice and simple.


Other than the blankets the rest of the stuff is really simple bits and pieces.

Rifles and other weapons

The wood part of the weapons has a basecoat of German Camouflage Medium Brown (V.826) applied and then long lateral lines to represent the wood grain is painted on with Vallejo's Orange Brown (V.981) which provides a great contrast.

Finally the metal parts of the weapons are all painted with Molten Metals Steel but only in the areas where the raised surface areas would be. Again this adds to the texture of the miniature aesthetic.

The final part of the weapon to paint is the Rifle Strap which was a simple Vallejo Khaki Grey (V.880) with a thin highlight of a 50/50 mix of Khaki Grey and Vallejo Model Air's Sand(Ivory) (V.MA.075)

The Hotckiss tripods and the Light Mortars are green. In fact exactly the same green paint scheme as the M28 Helmets so go check there... 


Skin and Lips

A little while ago I found  AK Interactives Flesh and Skin Colors box set and to be honest I haven't looked back since. There are six paints in this set and whilst some of them may look a little counter-intuitive at first glance their palette is perfect... and more especially at 15mm where close scrutiny and perfect blending isn't so important.

Firstly a basecoat of AK Interactives Base Flesh (AK 3011) is applied, covering all areas of exposed skin. A primary highlight of AK Interactives Light Flesh (AK 3012) is then painted over the top in all areas that would have increased surface exposure essentially becoming the most predominant colour on the areas of exposed skin. The secondary and final highlight is provided by using AK Interactives Highlight Flesh (AK 3013) but only in small amounts and only in the areas where there is a need for an increased contrast or else on very exposed parts of the body such as the nose and eyebrows.

A final step for the faces and hands is the lips and this time I settled on using AK Interactives' Dark Shadow Flesh (AK 3015) from the same set. A thin line painted where the lips should be and Bob's your uncle! Done! 


and finally we reach the:

Blankets!

I hoped that when I first found the Carlists that the blankets were a part of the prescribed uniforms. Nice white blankets with red patterns... but no! There was actually no control whatsoever on the blanket that the Requetes chose to wear so I had to come up with a variety of colours for them.

The majority had a base colour scheme of white so I laid a basecoat of Vallejo Model Air's USAF Medium Grey (V.MA.120) with a primary highlight of Vallejo's Ivory (V.918) applied over the top. This provided most of the texture for the blankets with the patterns which are painted over the top needing no highlighting at all.


The other blanket colours are as follows:

The brown blankets had a basecoat of German Camouflage Medium Brown (V.826) with a primary highlight of a 50/50 mix of this with Vallejo's Desert Yellow (V.977)

The deep blue blankets had a basecoat of P3's Coal Black with a primary highlight of a 50/50 mix of this with Vallejo Model Air's USAF Medium Grey (V.MA.120)

and finally the deep green blankets had a basecoat of Lifecolors Italian Dark Olive Green (LC. UA111) with a primary highlight of a 50/50 mix of this with Vallejo's Desert Yellow (V.977)


The pattern colours for the blankets are probably one of the most simple steps as no highlighting is required as the texture is provided by the heavily contrasted underlying blanket colour.

The patterns were done using the following colours on whichever blankets I chose in a totally arbitrary fashion.

I used all of the blanket basecoat colours. Vallejo's Ivory (V.918), Vallejo Game Colour's Bronze Fleshtone (V.GC.036), Vallejo Game Colour's Bloody Red (V.GC.010), Vallejo's Intense Blue (V.925) and Vallejo's Yellow Ochre (V.913) 


... and so finally we come to the basing.

I always have trouble with basing. I always have to juggle with wanting it to be as simple and quick as possible and yet not look like a model railway feature from the 1970's cucumber crunching heyday of terrible basing!

This time I spent time actually trying to mimic something real, that I had actually seen. Now thankfully I have just spent a couple of weeks travelling around the battlefields of the Basque (where a lot of the Carlists had their most notable battles) and Galicia so I was able to get a good impression of the topography and geology of the area. Vastly diverse though it is I settled on a rocky and sparse kind of scrub land that you get in the highest parts of the Basque.

I then  tested my ideas on a couple of discarded bases and this is what I came up with.


The bases had already been scored before the miniatures were glued on. I then went into the garden collecting twigs I could use for the destroyed trees that are a feature of the Basque uplands... well there are plenty of dead trees there but mid battle I imagine they had been pretty broken up!

Once all of this was attacked to the bases I then applied a thin layer of grout just to disguise the bases of the miniatures themselves sitting on top of the MDF bases that I use.

I firstly bought a couple of packs of basing sand from Serious Play. A pack of Grey Granite Ballast and a pack of Fine Coastal Sand and mixed them together in one of my containers.

A layer of this is then glued to the bases using PVA glue and left to dry solid. A watered down layer of PVA glue over the top of the sand would help to affix it more securely as well.


Once dry the bases are painted with Vallejo's German Camouflage Beige WWII (V.821) and then drybrushed with Vallejo Model Air's Sand (Ivory) (V.MA.075). Once dry random areas of the bases have dapples of Games Workshops Agrax Earthshade applied and around particularly heavy build ups of the llittle stones I use AK Interactives Moss Deposits Oil Filter. 

The combination of all of these colours provides a very interesting colour palette that draws the eye. 

The edges of the bases are also painted black at this stage as well.

Another coat of varnish to seal everything in and you are ready for the final step. 


My go to supplier for ground coverage on my miniatures bases has become Tajima miniatures. Not the cheapest in the world to be sure BUT they beat the living shit out of any other competitor that Ive seen so far. Their stuff is believable and with so much variety that you would struggle not to find something to use that would bring something to your A-game!

For these miniature bases I chose to use a variety of Small Shrubs - Green, Small Shrubs - Desert, and Grass Tufts - Gold.

When taken with the colouring on the bases these lend a really realistic washed out muted appearance that probably look some of the most naturalist bases that I have every done!


So there we have it. Something completely different  from what I am usually bashing away at.

A thoroughly enjoyable painting project although they will have to wait until later in the year to receive all of their Nationalist support choices as I get back to my Zulu's, PHR and Slovaks.

One of the benefits of the Carlists of course is that they loved the bayonet!


Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Flames of War: Polish Obrona Narodowa 1939 Intelligence Briefing...

Well, its done! finally! No more Obrona Narodowa will ever need to be thought about again... at least until I've fixed my bayonets and I'm ready to run a Nazi or Commie through with it and then of course I will absolutely accept no substitute!

So I'm not going to waste anybody's time with long explanations of how and why I did this, other than to say it was one massive MASSIVE learning curve... I did NOT use DTP as the last time I used  it professionally was almost 10 years ago. This whole thing has been completed in Photoshop and then combined in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. Its not perfect BUT it is a labour of love.

Its a Flames of War V3 Intelligence Brief that I hope some of you out there will enjoy reading if not using.

Anybody that wants it can access it here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rSs6QWAwl4RIUjm4jQRMmmzWUWENGPTR/view?usp=sharing

Anybody that just wants to have a look at the pages, well, you've come to the right place:



































































...and now I think its time to move onto something completely different. 

Zulus and Slovaks!

...until next time gents...