30 March 2016

Mike's Marines (Part 3: Move Out!)

with Mike

previously... (Mike's Beachhead List...)

“Move Out” - 1500 Points

The Japanese assault has been repelled, but the job isn't finished! It’s time to push inland and secure that objective we were meant to take during the first hours of the beach assault! The company has been reinforced and is raring to go!

Marine Rifle Company (Inland)
Marine Rifle HQ
Marine Rifle Platoon with BAR (2/3 strength)
Marine Rifle Platoon with BAR (2/3 strength)
Company Machine-gun Platoon (with 4x M1919 LMG)
Assault Section (full strength)
Marine War Dog Platoon (2x Dog Handlers)
Marine Artillery Battery (4x M1A1 75mm)
Light Tank Platoon (2x M3 Stuart)
Flame Tank Platoon (1x M3A1 Satan)
    add Improvised Tank Assault Armour

A fresh supply of flame-throwing and demolition specialists have joined the fight in the Assault Section. This unit is pretty cool with it’s bazookas (a rare piece of equipment in the USMC rifle company!) flame-throwers, and pioneer teams.

The platoon must be attached to the rifle platoons, but it has a special ability to attach its teams at my discretion, rather than having to split them up evenly. This means I could attach them all to a single platoon to make a massive assault unit (something Marines did frequently) or I can make specialist platoons by attaching the flame-throwers to one, and the bazookas to the other and the pioneers to either. It’s an expensive but highly versatile platoon.

Heading inland will put my Marines at the mercy of Japanese ambushes, so I’ve attached some Dog Handlers to the platoons. Like the Assault Section, these must be attached out, but I purchased two teams, one for each platoon.

These unique units are two-man Recce teams, so you can use them for Eyes and Ears, but they can also push enemy ambushes back even further to 10”/25cm rather than the usual 8”/20cm and don’t have to have line of sight to the ambushing platoon either. Having embedded recce in the platoons is a great economical way of keeping your Marines safe!

I’ve backed up my guys with some M1A1 75mm pack howitzers. These will provide smoke screens and pin the enemy to help my assault get in close. In a pinch they can engage the enemy over open sights, but the lack of gunshield makes this a risky proposition. Having a fearless veteran battery with a staff team (and the full complement of US artillery rules) will be helpful with making sure the assault goes in successfully.

I’ve added a second Stuart to the Light Tank Platoon to help give me some mobility. Having two should be able to form a solid anchor for the infantry assault to spring from.Two also means they can protect each other better from enemy assaults.

I’ve also brought up an M3A1 Satan flame-tank. This “devil” has pretty mean flame-thrower on board with ROF 3 an FP 5+, as well as its full complement of machine-guns. I’ve given it improvised tank assault armor, which gives it a special 5+ save against FP 5 or 6 weapons and a 5+ save in assault combat as well, which being a flame tank isn’t that special but for 5 points, it’s worth it to possibly help it survive to withdraw.

Backed by tanks, flame-throwers, and war dogs, these Marines are ready to finish their mission and take that damned airfield...

Next Up: Mike's USMC Late War List...

28 March 2016

PTO Terrain: Bamboo Groves

with Mike

As my PTO terrain project continues, one of the things I wanted to make was some bamboo groves. These should complement my jungle pieces and hopefully take a bit of the load off them in terms of tabletop coverage. I planned to do 12 pieces, but in the end I did 6... you'll see why!

As usual I start with a little visual research. Luckily I didn't need to go far:

The bamboo stalks were colored in a few shades of green and brown, so I made sure to include that in my notes. I also noted that the foliage tended to grow in groups with a stretch between them. Finally, the grove is quite dense, so I would need a lot of them.

Right, building supplies:
  • 3mm MDF board
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Leaf tea
  • PVA/wood glue
  • Aquarium plant mats

  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Sanding block
  • Hobby knife
  • Hot glue gun

Painting Supplies/Tools
  • Airbrush
  • Tamiya Olive Drab
  • Tamiya Khaki
  • Vallejo Iraqui Sand
  • Vallejo German Camo Bright Green
  • Vallejo English Uniform

I decided to use the standard Battlefield in a Box 'kidney' shaped bases so that I could position the groves on the larger tree bases that I use for my NW Europe trees. Alternatively, they are large enough to be stand alone groves, as with my jungle pieces. I used the Shattered Battlefield bits as my templates.

I cut out the bases using a jigsaw, drilled a bunch of holes in them and then sanded them flat. I went a bit overboard on the holes, just to make the bamboo as dense as possible. In the end I probably didn't use all of the holes, but it gave me some options, rather than have too few and have to drill more later.

I picked up about six packets of these bamboo skewers because they were approximately the right size for the job. Earlier packets I bought were too large and toothpicks were too small (for gluing foliage to). So when I found them, I stocked up.

I cut the skewers into 1.5" to 2" sections. I needed about 25-30 trunks per base, so for 6 bases, that was about 150 to 180 in total.

I rolled the skewers under a hobby knife to score a grove around it and then simply break it off. In this photo and the one above, you can see a failed experiment where I cut additional groves with the intention of inking out the trunk's segment. I say failed, but it would have worked fine as the experiment proved, but not economic for 150+ of the little bastards...

Next up is the dead foliage that collects at the base of the groves. For this I used my standby ground vegetation: leaf tea. Leaf tea is courser than that of the stuff out of a teabag, but you could use that as well if you wanted to. I've liked leaf tea for a while and have used it extensively.

I covered the bases in a layer or PVA, followed by a sprinkling of leaf tea.

Next I used a skewer to poke out the holes and clear them of leaf tea. I held them up to a white surface to see if I got them all.

Then the trunks got glued into place.

The base got a coat of Tamyia Olive Drab

Then a highlight of Tamyia Khaki

Finished the base with a drybrush of Vallejo Iraqui Sand.

Bases done.

For the trunks I mixed up a watery solution of Vallejo German Camo Bright Green. It was about 40/60 paint to water. I painted about 80% with this light green color. The others I painted up with Iraqui Sand.

Then the tedious part! On the green trunks I painted 5-6 Iraqui Sand colored circles. On the tan colored trunks I used Vallejo English Uniform to paint the circles.

Next up the foliage. It's the same stuff as what I used in the Jungle Pieces tutorial as my mainstay vegetation.

I've cut the leafy parts from the cup thing, resulting in a lot of foliage!

Using a hot-glue gun, I've attached a layer of foliage about half-way up the green trunks (avoiding the brown ones).

Next I put a layer atop the trunks.

To finish it off I touched up any loose bits of the Leaf Tea, and painted any exposed areas of wood.

My first reaction to these pieces is that the leaves are rather large, but I'm OK with that if it at least looks fine at a glance. I might also be talked into doing some taller pieces as they seem a little uniform in height. In the end, they seem to do the trick.

Right, the next thing to sort out is some bamboo scatter terrain!

Thanks for reading!

24 March 2016

Dan Paints! USMC Infantry from Battlefront.

with Dan

Dan sure has been busy of late with the painting of his USMC force for the PTO! 

He's done the Sherman (Part 1 and Part 2).
He's done the Amtanks.
He's done the Corsair.

So today, he really needs to get the infantry done right?

This one is a pretty exhaustive video and Dan takes you through the whole process in his usual, inimitable style. Sit back, relax and enjoy!

As always guys, like and subscribe! And please let us know if there's anything you want to see us do or have any comments/suggestions.

18 March 2016

History with Greg - Type 97 Te-Ke

With Greg

Having just finished painting my first Japanese tank, I thought it might be a nice idea to have a look at the history of this cute little death dealer!

The Type 97 Te-Ke was officially designated a light armoured car but is more rightly referred to as a tankette in my opinion. It saw production from 1938 right through until 1944. Like many other tank designs from Japan, it was produced in limited numbers with the bulk of Japan's limited resources going to the IJN. Approximately 600 Type 97's rolled off the production lines. The Japanese army used the Type 97 during the Second Sino-Japanese War as well as during WWII to good effect as infantry support.

Designed as a replacement for the Type 94 Te-Ke with some significant changes as a result. The engine was moved to the rear with the commander then being centred in the tankette and thus closer to the driver, making for much improved communications. The Type 97 fielded the Type 94 37mm AT gun or the Type 97 7.7mm MG but due to the limited tank v. tank engagements, it had very minimal armour making it susceptible to .50 cal fire. The 2-man crew also meant that in addition to commanding the tank, the commander was in charge of loading and firing the main gun.

Typically fielded in pairs to support infantry, its light weight meant that it could keep up with the infantry advance as well as acting in a fast-reconnaissance role.

The Type 97 was fielded during the Battle of Nomonhan against the Soviets and despite not being able to stand up to the power of the 45mm Soviet AT guns, the Te-Ke still managed to hold its own. It went on to be crucial to the Japanese successes in Malaya and the Philippines.

The Type 97 Te-Ke in Flames of War

It's not gonna win you tank on tank battles, but the Te-Ke is great at what it does, which is sneaking into the enemy lines and making a mess of any infantry and/or support options hiding there. It's small size means it can use terrain to extreme advantage in order to avoid enemy fire. And guess what...they're recon teams as well which means you can use them to remove the pesky gone to ground from dug-in Marines.

And did I mention they're DIRT CHEAP?! Getting a pair of them for less that 100 points would seem to be a no-brainer selection in your Hohei Chutai to me. If you're fielding the 37mm Te-Ke you also benefit from the 'Hip Shot' special rule as well which is amazing!

The 37mm gun is potentially going to make a mess of those Shermans if it gets into the side and the MG option is great, as I said, for clearing out infantry and guns hiding behind lines.

All in all, the Te-Ke is a great little addition to any Japanese force.

17 March 2016

Dan Paints! An F4U Corsair

with Dan

Have a look as Dan paints one of the most iconic aircraft of the Pacific Theatre, the Vought F4U Corsair!

In this video I paint Battlefronts new F-4U Corsair. There's even a moment of drama followed by swift recovery. I hope you enjoy my work.

Be sure to Like and Subscribe!

More info about the venerable F4U Corsair:

16 March 2016

Beach Basing

with Mike

As I draw closer to basing my Marines, I've been experimenting with some different techniques to get a good beach effect. As usual I always start with photos and there's always a lot of great South Pacific holiday pictures to look at.

My objective with this experiment is Betio Island during the Tarawa landings. Using a collection of photos, I had a go at a few different bases to try a few things.

After many years of basing with sand and trying to recreate different types of sand colors, (thanks North Africa!) I've come to the conclusion that choosing the right colors for your base hinges on three things:

  • picking a color photo sample, 
  • choosing the right base and top colors, and 
  • developing a color scheme.

Choosing Sample Photo
First you need to know what scene you're looking to recreate. It turns out that sand doesn't remain the same color throughout the day and very much depends on the position of the sun (the Sahara sands often turns pink during dusk and dawn hours, and yellow during midday), the presence of water (and what type of water? usually salt). You will sometimes find photos of the exact same piece of ground taken at different times of the day and end up with radically different colors. You'll go mad if you let this get to you! So rather than worry about these factors, I've found it easiest to just pick a color photo and go from there. For this experiment I chose this photo from Betio Island:

As you can see this sample actually has a rich range from dark to light, and ends with a nice bright color that will compliment the Marine's darker green uniform. This is something else to consider. the figures that will go on the base. I'm actually looking for basing scenes that contrast or compliment the figures's uniform colors so that the base works well from a composition point of view.  It's a bit counter-intuitive when it comes to camouflage, but I believe it makes for a stronger model.

Base Color
The second most important thing that you need to do is select the correct base color. More than anything, the base color defines the overall tone of the base. This is pretty critical so its worth spending the time to do it properly and really have a good look at the photo for the darkest colors, being careful not to be tricked by the shadows.

In the example above I chose the Vallejo color, Brown Violet (VP887).

Top Color 
This is the brightest color you want on the base. It should be relatively easy to choose compared to the base color. As with the shadows, don't be fooled by the brightest reflections from the sun.

For my base I chose Pale Sand (VP837)

Color Scheme
This can be the most daunting part, choosing the colors to build up from the base coat to achieve the top color. However, I've found this terrific article by Jeremy Painter to be one of the best on the subject of basing:

Desert Basing (by Jeremy Painter) ...

Here's his cheat sheet for choosing the right colors:

Even if you don't chose the same colors that Jeremy did, you can get the impression of what the middle stepping stones are between your base and top colors. For my base I thing the example to the top right was the closest and therefore I started down that path. I ended up choosing Dark Sand (VP847) as my middle step.

Test Basing
I find this step rather important to actually put into practice my theoretical scheme and see if I like it. I grabbed some medium bases, spackled them up and glued a layer of sand to the top. A quick word about choosing your sand... 

The granularity of your sand is pretty important, but the trap I see most folks fall into is trying to find the most fine sand possible. While this is totally legit, it's not something that a must-do. If you look at the photos above there is some variety between the fine sands and the rocky sands. Again, like with the color, it's all about choosing the scene you want to recreate and sticking to it. As with my selected photo above, the sand has a lot of racks and stuff in with it, so a courser sand was totally appropriate 

Good sources for sand is your local beach (assuming is OK that you take some),. hardware shops (look for children's playground sand), or other powdery stuff that will show a texture that you can paint. In fact straight vinyl spackling can be smoothed out and give a terrific fine sand effect. 

What I don't recommend are the hobby grits from Games Workshop, Army Painter, or GF9. These are typically too grainy, unusually consistent in size, and a lot more expensive.

Anyway, back to the bases...

When I applied the spackle, I built in some high points and low points to give the base some elevation, but this is totally optional, especially if your scene is more of that idyllic holiday beach. I glued a very thin layer of sand over the top.

After the sand dried I added some basing highlights, such as palm frondds (cut from plastic palm trees), rocks, and seaweed (ground tea leaves). On the seaweed, I tried to push the tea leaves into long lines to outline a tide mark.

Next I painted the base from bast coat to top coat using the color scheme I chose earlier. I applied a heavy base coat of Green Violet, then a medium basecoat of dark sand, then a light highlight of Pale Sand. I did the example below as a piece without basing highlights to show the color application process.

Then I painted the rocks Stone Grey (VP884) and highlighted them with Pale Sand. I added some very small beads of PVA and applied some GF9 static grass (Winter/Dead Grass). I did this sparingly.

I also painted the palm frond and seaweed, choosing a dead color scheme for the frond and dark greens for the seaweed. I also took a detail brush and picked out small grains of sand to paint white, recreating (at a distance) sea shells concentrated around the tide mark.

Finally, I experimented with wet sand. I wasn't totally happy with the results in terms of color, but I liked the technique and will improve on it. For this I used a series of dark Khaki washes, adding a little bit of dark brown as I went.

Here's the bases all together so that you can see them.I'd say a'm mostly happy with the results, but I'm going to try some other schemes before I pull the trigger and base all of my marines!

So, what do you think?

14 March 2016

Damian's Japanese Tanks (2000 point lists)

with Damian

As seen in my previous, smaller lists for the Pacific and Late War, I’ve tried hard to keep the numbers of tanks as close as possible in order to make it easier for me to complete my lists and have viable forces to use. Tactics will remain the same for both as it is no use trying to get sneaky or sit still with what I have. The Zero and naval bombardment will have to either suppress or open up one flank while everything hammers the other.

The recon Te-Ke tankettes will hopefully remove gone to ground from the enemy and try and prevent ambushes from destroying too much of my armoured thrust. They will however have a high chance of being destroyed first as they are expected to screen the main advance, tie up any enemy forces in the way for a turn or two and maybe even destroy one!

Pacific War - 2000pts
Sensha Rentai
Fearless Trained 

Regimental HQ (230 points)
2 Type 97 Chi-Ha and 2 Type 95 Ha-Go

Sensha Company (130 + 325 +325 points)
HQ: 2 Type 97 Chi-Ha
Platoon : 5 Type 97 Chi-Ha
Platoon : 5 Type 97 Chi-Ha

Light Sensha Company (125 + 320 points)
HQ: 2 Type 95 Ha-Go
Platoon: 5 Type 95 Ha-Go

Recon Tankette Platoon (110 points)
3 Type 97 Te-Ke (2x MG, 1x 37mm gun)

Recon Tankette Platoon (110 points)
3 Type 97 Te-Ke (2x MG, 1x 37mm gun)

Limited Air Support (140 points) 
(Close Air Support)

Naval Gunfire Support (150 points) 

TOTAL: 1965 points

Now things get really crazy with my Late War variant!

Late War - 2000pts
Sensha Rentai
Fearless Veteran 

Regimental HQ (155 points)
2 Type 97 Chi-Ha and
2 Type 95 Ha-Go

Sensha Company (80 + 200 + 200 +200 points)
HQ 2 Type 97 Chi-Ha
Platoon: 5 Type 97 Chi-Ha
Platoon: 5 Type 97 Chi-Ha
Platoon: 5 Type 97 Chi-Ha

Light Sensha Company (75 + 190 + 190 +120 points)
HQ: 2 Type 95 Ha-Go
Platoon: 5 Type 95 Ha-Go
Platoon: 5 Type 95 Ha-Go
Platoon: 3 Type 95 Ha-Go

Recon Tankette Platoon (145 points)
3 Type 97 Te-Ke (2x MG, 1x 37mm gun)

Recon Tankette Platoon (145 points)
3 Type 97 Te-Ke (2x MG, 1x 37mm gun)

Limited Air Support (140 points) 
(Close Air Support)

Naval Gunfire Support (150 points) 

TOTAL: 1990 points

As excited as I am to try these three lists out in The Pacific and watching them grow and evolve as the points get bigger, it is in Late War where I think I’ll definitely struggle. In saying that, though, I'll  probably have more fun! I am not sure what I will use as objectives yet for my army but I am keen on creating little markers to represent my naval gunfire support so maybe they will become the objective markers as well? Perhaps find some mini destroyers and base them up… hmmmm.