Monday, January 30, 2012

End of an Era

I've been combing through my collection of miniatures, and hit upon my 15mm World War II. Flames of War can be best described as a graveyard of a dozen schemes. I would purchase a bunch for an army, paint up a little, lose interest, and move onto the next.

The truth is, I've not played a Flames of War game in at least two years - I'm hazy on the changes from 1st Edition to 2nd, and have no knowledge about 3rd. It's not something my gaming group plays, and with the demise of my LGS, it doesn't look like something I will be playing with in the future.

Thus, I am contemplating parting with pieces of the collection. It's a hard decision, because some pieces I put a lot of work into and am rather proud of. It's not the first time I have sold miniatures, but all previous sales were to people I knew, people I gamed with, and those whom I knew would give the miniatures a good home. Prices were low, and swaps were as common as cash purchases.

Ebay is a whole new world. I have bought a lot of unpainted miniatures to expand collections and a few painted, but selling is new.

So I dug out the old miniatures and took some photographs, some for the first time ever. Most of these were taken on the dining room table, where the only terrain was a green placement. Every miniature has a bit of a story to it.

DAK Germans:
These were my first FOW miniatures - two PzKfwIIIs and 2 PzKfwIVs. They were also my first bits of conversion work, taking the Rettemeier Panzer III J moden and splitting the pieces between three different tanks to give a lived-in look with minimal cost. They were also my first attempt at dunkelgelb. I've never been that pleased with them - the detail works, but they're just subtly off.

Ultimately, they formed part of a small kampfgruppe I'd put together. It was never really large enough to play with on it's own, and until recently it wasn't a combination that could be fielded legally. However, I changed how I painted German tanks midway through, so these guys didn't really fit.

Here's the rest of the kampfgruppe:

In the back row on the left is the Tigerless Tiger platoon. It's vehicles #2 and #4 (which the TOE has as Panzer III Ns) and one of the battalion HQ vehicles added to make a legal platoon. There's another use of the Rettemeier model in there too. Next to that (back right) is the three squadpanzergrenadier platoon. I never got around to finishing their transport. They were my first attempt at German infantry, using Humbro's Italian Uniform for the greenish/faded German tropical uniforms. It kind of worked.

In the front on the left is a pionier platoon with two squads. The infantry are Old Glory 15mm conversions, and the faded German feldgrau was a Reaper mid gray. On the right is a two-gun 150mm infantry gun battery, which can only be fielded with panzergrenadiers (at the time) and was pretty but not as useful as I'd thought. They also need a command base and transport.

I have enough tanks to flesh it out as a late 1943 Panzer Company if I desire to. I have some recon elements that also need some painting, should I get around to it. There I will keep, should I get back into FoW.

Winter 1942 Germans:
I'd been interested in the battle of Rzhev ever since I'd read David M. Glanz' "The Battle that Never Happened" in the anthology No End Save Victory. Thus began a Grossdeutchland infantry company, before they were made into a Panzergrenadier Division.

This has some of my second attempts at making snowy bases, along with some of my favorite work on 15mm WWII.

Infanterie Platoon with attached anti-tank

These are Old Glory/Command decision, and the same Reaper gray was used for feldgrau. The bases need some reworking and so do the faces, but they're servicable and they have a nice level of detail. I have the miniatures for additional platoons and the weapons platoon, but never got around to painting them either.

 Headquarters 28mm anti-tank gun
I'm quite proud of this guy. It's the 28mm that also comes in the hq box. I think I scrounged the crew from a bits box. If you double-click to enlarge the image, you can see the cuff bands and NCO piping painted, along with the gloves from home on the NCO. I think those were a fabric paint.

Infantry Gun Platoon

Here are two Battlefront 7.5cm light infantry guns, with transport. The command team are Command Decision. I'm missing an observer, but I'm not sure the platoon comes with one. I'm proud of these for the same reason I'm proud of the 28mm gun. Yes, I realize the shell is out of scale, but I had the spare crewmen. This is version 3 of snow bases, with lots more snow directly glued to the base and white painted on the flocking. The piled up rocks started out as blue aquarium gravel and were then painted, washed and dusted with snow.

The transport is Battlefront and they were cast resin, which are different to paint than all metal or resin/metal vehicles. I'm pleased with them, but they need decals. The space for the GD helmet is deliberately darker than the rest of the vehicle, because they wouldn't wash over the stenciling when they whitewashed it.

4 Marder I self-propelled anti-tank guns

I don't know if these are the right kind of Marder or not for what GD actually had in the Rzhev salient. They're older Battlefront models, before they retooled and added crew to their vehicles. Despite that, they have a good war record, even if they think they are tanks half the time.

88mm gun platoon with transport


Tactically, they're often a liability, but they're just so beautiful and I put a good deal of work into them that I can't not take them. Instead of whitewashing the guns, I painted white stripes and then glued fake snow to them. I'd read that, when whitewash was scarce, they would put snow on vehicles and/or gunshields to conceal them, so it sounded like a good idea to model. The supports are pieces of wire, and the camouflage netting is window screen material. I'd also put some spray-on snow on them, but that has fallen by the wayside.

Midwar Winter Soviets
Naturally, to fight the Germans, I needed Soviets. I'd whipped the credit card out before I'd thought, because Soviets mean hordes, and I paint very slowly. The idea was to paint a Naval Infantry Battalion to fight the Germans in the snow.

4 15mm Soviet Flamethrower teams:

 At the time, flamethrower teams were the thing to have in a Soviet horde. So they were the first thing I painted. The snowsuits are Reaper White Leather and the helmets are Reaper Kilt Green. You can also see some dismounted Cossacks I added to the stands. They're conversions for troopers in winter dress - mostly using paint. I'm quite fond of the officer with the drawn sword leading one of the flamethrower teams!

Blocking Detachment and Commisars

These began as the blocking detachment blister pack, and evolved into the ability to field that, or just the battalion's machine guns for the companies or the MG company.

You can see the theme I was going for. Most of the conversions were done with paint - painting khaki trousers instead of blue, different color greatcoats, or machine gun crews in dark naval uniforms. I think it makes for a good "in the field making do" look. The flags are a combination of standard Soviet flags, with one naval ensign. I think the naval ensign was planned for the Battalion Kommisar.

I have the miniatures to finish out the battalion, but, as with the rest of these, not much desire to.

The Kommisar's Tiger Tank

Even if I sell off all of my WWII, this mini I will not part with. Easily ten years ago, we gamed the Grossdeutchland attack at Kursk. The Germans had the mission of attacking through a series of Russian infantry positions. The Germans were warned that they heard tank noises and clanking on their right flank. They ignored the warning and were completely surprised when three entire battalions of T-34s came surging through the open flank. One battalion pushed into the rear of the assaulting Germans, one across the battlefield hunting their air and artillery observers, and one circled back to attack the heavy tanks. In the melee, several Tigers were destroyed and one captured.

I asked whether the Russians could field the captured tank - I was told yes, provided I purchased and painted one appropriately. I did so, and this was the result. The Saga of the Kommisar in his Tiger was born. The Kommisar commanded a heavy tank battalion from his Tiger through all the remaining Battle of Kursk and the Russian 1943 offensive. The Germans were determined to destroy it, and threw everything they had at it - artillery, air attacks, anti-tank guns, even more Tigers. Nothing worked! Not even a swamp could stop the Kommisar and his Tiger!

American MidWar Armor

4 T28E1/M15 (one with armor, three without)

These are all that are left of a Midwar Operation Torch force. The Lees and infantry were sold years ago when I lost interest in the project. They're painted in a Tamiya olive drab that I passionately hate working with. Unfortunately, the photography has washed out some of the shading on the olive drab.

So, that's a bit of a trip down memory lane.


DeanM said...

Man - that is an impressive collection of fine WW2 models. Best, Dean

Anonymous said...

Thanks DeanM, but the sad part is that it really isn't. Nothing I have showcased is enough for me to game with in FoW, or many other WWII systems. Only the Mid-War DAK Germans are enough to give somebody a fight. The Winter Germans are enough to start somebody's collection, though.

The most extensive collection I have are my British, and they're not pictured. With those, I have most of a Light (or Heavy) Armor Squadron done, with infantry and artillery support.

Monty said...

The story of the captured and fielded Tiger was great! And yes, the Germans would have thrown in the sink to knock it out once the story of its capture was shared with the Fuhrer. Great stuff and thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...


That whole campaign was one for the wargaming books. It's a classic example of how a GM can construct a set of linked battles to keep players involved and motivated, add some of the aspects of a campaign (like the need to conserve forces for the next battle) without any of the attendant problems of one!

We used Battlefront - the collaboration of the Battlefront folks and the Fire and Fury folks - to game it out. It's a nice system, especially their spotting rules. Battles were based around Grossdeutchland's fighting at Kursk, then the Soviet counteroffensive afterward. Great fun!