The backbone of the German army’s transport and logistics was the Opel Blitz. For 20mm plastic modellers and wargamers i don’t think we have a lot of choice out there for variations of this super popular truck. I tried the fast build kits from Pegasus, which are good, but lack much detail, and have yet to try the offerings from Italeri or Fujimi. So i turned to my first encounter with a plastic kit from Roden. The box art is great, so i had to include a photo of that to start with! Its also a big box with one big grey sprue and a couple of small ones.
This kit was really fun to put together. It all starts with a tiny engine you have to build complete with fan and radiator. Unfortunately this part is all covered up by the cab when assembled, but cool to build nonetheless. The chassis, engine, axles and wheels all go together, followed by the cab and the rear. You can build versions with a covered back, as pictured on the front of the box, or a version with an open roof. I opted for the open version as i am planning to fill it up with some SS troops from AB figures hitching a ride. I did paint a couple of drivers, again from AB, who are happily sitting in the cab.
The level of detail on the outside of the truck is just excellent with wing mirrors, headlights, pioneer tools etc. Roden also give you clear plastic for windows if you want to use them. I managed to balls up my cab placement too far back on the chassis and had to mess around a bit to fix it up. Based on MDF, textured and flocked as usual. This was a really nice kit to build and much better than other Opel Blitz models i have made so far in this scale. Check out my photos (with a new camera phone which is much better than my old one it seems).
For a bit of a change for Colonel Mustard this week I was given the opportunity to review some military history books by Pen & Sword Publishing in the UK. I picked out a very interesting title about an SAS unit fighting behind enemy lines in France in 1944.
Ian Wellsted writes an excellent first hand account of his activities with the SAS, in conjunction with the Maquis, or French resistance, in enemy occupied France. The narrative is quite riveting from the moment Ian and his few men are dropped into the French countryside, all the way to their repatriation to England by American forces a few months later.
Their adventures include many successes and failures along the way including blowing up railway lines, destroying bridges, ambushing enemy forces and various other missions. The spirit and bravery of all the men involved is certainly captured by Mr Wellsted, both SAS troops and French fighters alike. With limited resources, quite often just a broken down old car, maybe a few men and a bren gun, the results they achieved were amazing. Although it feels like a great adventure you never lose sight of the fact that this was a war and that people were dying around them. Danger and death are never far away, but this doesn’t stop these brave men from continuing their missions to disrupt German logistics.
It’s a great, absorbing story. British Jeeps charge around the French countryside, avoiding enemy units, teaming up with French civilians, aided by frequent resupply drops of equipment, then planning and executing operations (with varying degrees of success). Anyone interested in true acts of bravery under very difficult conditions should read this, so i can wholly recommend checking it out.
You can find this and many other titles at www.pen-and-sword.co.uk
I built and painted the other two Panther tanks i had in my warehouse from The Plastic Soldier Company. Great little models, they go together in around 15 minutes. Nice detail and very solid kits. This time i used one of the commander figures they supply and he came up really well. I did some light pink braiding on his uniform which adds a bit of colour. I tried out some new camouflage schemes, one a straight olive green and the other a three colour scheme. Camouflage schemes for reference are abundant on the net, and i usually find a nice one as a starting point. Once you get painting its pretty easy to continue the pattern across the whole vehicle. I used some decals from my spares plus some Sergeants Mess spare track and spare wheel just to add some variety.
Photos of the two cats below! Only a quick blog as i have written about these guys before.
So finally after all that construction it’s on to the paint job! Everything was painted a black acrylic as a base coat or primer. That gives the whole thing a good starting point and makes sure all the shadows are emphasized. I painted the undamaged rendered walls first, one a sand colour and one a pale blue. The insides were all painted a dark grey as more than likely they would have burnt in the fires/explosions that must have occurred. Previously i have used wrapping paper with a very small pattern on it as wallpaper. You could easily find a pattern on line and then print it out to a small scale to use as wallpaper for some of the internal walls.
The rubble and debris was also painted dark grey and then dry brushed with lighter shades to a very light grey. The exposed brick was painted a mix of bright red and a terracotta red. I also painted random bits of debris with the same red as many bricks would have fallen around the house. To illustrate the mortar i used a fine brush and a light grey to draw thin lines in between the detail on the exposed brick. The bits of wood on the floor, the roof beams and the internal floors were all painted a dark brown. I left plenty of black on the roof beams to suggest the charred nature of the remains. All the window lintels and shutters were painted white, and needed a couple of coats to get them right. I just used a black biro to draw on the shutters, much easier than a paint brush.
The roof tiles were painted grey and then randomly painted with lighter greys to mix them up a bit. I left plenty of black areas near to blast holes. Finally i lightly brushed black around all the damaged bits to show the extra effects of smoke. To add that extra bit of detail i found some cool French signs on the internet, printed them out and stuck them on the buildings with a lot of PVA glue so they look painted on. A bit of green flock on the base and hey presto the finished ruins.
See my photos below including some British units just nosing around in the smoky ruins! Over and out Colonel Mustard.
I have continued working on my ruined buildings, and have decided to split the process into three blogs as otherwise it would be a bit heavy on the pictures. However, I did want to detail each part of the construction, so here goes!
To create the piles of debris inside and outside the ruins i first glued lumps of modelling clay at positions on the base next to the walls. I did this both on the interior and exterior in a random way, still leaving decent areas of the interior floor bare. I then covered these raised areas in PVA glue and sprinkled a decent amount of dirt/gravel from my front pathway on top. The stuff out the front of our house is perfect for producing random debris. You can see the construction taking shape below.
Next up i need to add a texture or render effect on the walls to get rid of the smooth finish of the foam board. I do this by mixing a fine sand (pinched from the play ground around the corner) with a paint thickening medium i found in my art box. You could do the same with sand and PVA glue mixed up. I then paint a liberal layer of the stuff onto all the exposed walls, making sure to stay away from the exposed brickwork and the window frames, and let it dry. This makes an excellent texture to paint on the outside of the houses.
To add a bit more character i needed to make more rubble and debris for around the place. The rubble i made with more modelling clay by rolling out a large flat piece to about 1-2mm thick and when it was half dry cut it into small cubes. I made a big pile of bricks and rubble this way. I also chopped up bits of balsa wood into broken beams and bits of roof. This extra debris was then glued on top of the original piles, and new small piles were also added just using the new rubble.
The whole building was then painted with black acrylic. Be careful not to use a cheap spray paint on foamboard as it can dissolve the inner foam part, and therefore would destroy all your hard work carving the brickwork. Last but not least i made a framework for the roof sections out of balsa wood and roof tiles out of more modelling clay. The damaged removable first floor sections were also made with balsa wood. I just drew floorboards onto the balsa wood using a biro which creates a decent paintable effect. So now all the bits are made all that is if left is to paint and construct. We will see the end result in Part 3!