Monday, February 24, 2014

Down to the Wire

My first attempt at making barbed wire was rushed and did not turn out as nice as I would have liked.  I needed barbed wire for my US Combat Engineer army I have been working on so I thought I would give it a second try.

One of the things I struggled with was the wire itself.  It took a lot of time to string it up and it was way too shiny for my taste.  I was inspired when I saw this effort on The Miniatures Page.  Real simple and nice and rusty.  I also remembered Mike Haught's "Pimp your Bunker" web article on the Battlefront website and thought I could put the two together and make a second go at it.

I knew I didn't want to paint the wire again like I did the first time so I had to figure out how to get some rust on the wire.  I knew there were ways to put a patina on metal so a quick web searched turned up a formula to rust metal.

I mixed 4 parts white vinegar, 1 part Hydrogen Peroxide, and 1/2 part salt into a large jar and dropped in an entire roll of the Gale Force Nine wire removed from its container.  I left that in the solution for about a day then rinsed it off and let it dry.  It worked!  All the shine was gone and even some parts of it were rusty.  It looked more like galvanized steel but the effect suited me just fine.  I now plan to do this for the Battlefront barb wire sections I own as well.

Having solved that problem I was on to the bases for my second attempt.  I began with prepared 2"x8" panelboard with sanded over edges and primed.  I have a bunch of these leftover from my first attempt.

 Next drill in holes for the posts.

Prepare your stakes.  Using hobby wood from Michael's carefully and painstakingly drill a series of holes in them using your pin vise drill.

 Glue the stakes in place.  I used superglue to hurry things along.  Most any hobby glue would be fine.

Next we are going to use a new product I picked up at Michael's (40% off of course).

 Apply the gel using a paint palette knife or similar tool.  You want to apply it like you are icing a cake leaving slight ridges and waves.  That will give some definition and interest when we go to paint them.  It worked well, i'm going to use it on some figure bases in the future.

Next up will be some more texture.

Sprinkle on some ballast leaving many empty areas.

 Work it into the gel a slight bit with the knife.  Don't bury it.

 Add some of the talus to make some larger rocks.  The amounts and types of texture is all to your  personal preference and what looks good to you.

Let them dry overnight then prime them.  We have had a share of cold weather here in Colorado so spraying was not possible when making these.  I quite prefer painting on the primer after having used it now.  The primer was a new product for me as well.

Next up is painting.  I decided to use my Vallejo paints this time.  I want these to be much nicer than my first attempt.  I've discovered and copied a few color palettes that are working for my taste.  First paint them completely with Flat Earth (983) followed by a good drybrush of Green Brown (879) finishing up with a drybrush of Desert Yellow (977) on all the highest points and edges.  It should look something like this.

Next paint the the posts and rocks.  The posts get painted Chocolate Brown (872), followed by a drybrush of Tan Earth (874) and a last drybrush of Medium Grey (987).  That's the Battlefront palette described to paint fences and trees in "Using the Rural Bases" web article.  Use the same palette from the article for the large rocks:  German Fieldgrey (830) highlighted with Stone Grey (884).  You should be looking like this.

I go ahead and seal them now.  I used a can of the Army Painter "Anti-Shine" matte varnish I've had for ages.  It worked well though I am not sure I am ready to switch to it from Testor's for my figures.  I apply the adhesive black felt to the bottoms like I do on all my terrain and figures.  Next I get them ready for flocking.  I completely suck at using static grass so I'm going to use the same technique and 2 shades of Woodland's Scenic flock like I did for my forests.  I also add a few grass tufts of autumn and spring to give it some more interest.

Next I wire them up.  No coils this time.  I thread all the wires through the posts, 3 strands all the way around the perimeter.  I put in some diagonal wires running from the outside posts to the middle posts making a high low zig zag pattern.  The center posts only had 2 holes drilled.  I twist the wire around some of the posts to anchor them in place as well as just twisting them together.  It worked best to do the top strand first and work down to the lowest.

And there is my prototype for the second attempt.  I was so pleased I made the other 5 needed for the pioneer supply trucks I planned on using at GenghisCon.  Now onto the featured pictures!

"Can you say POW camp?"

"Quick men let's get this wire up, Fausty's coming!"

I also finished up a second supply truck (right) to go with my first.  I was also able to correct the low rider characteristic of the first one.  I took a hobby saw and cut the front wheels off at the axle, drilled, pinned, and glued back into place all without damaging anything or messing up the paint.  I guess I glued them on upside down.

"I hope I don't have to fire this thing."

"High Ho, High Ho, it's off to work we go..."
Did I say painstakingly?

There they are.  I am happy with them.  They look to me more like positions that would be prepared well in advance of any action such as Normandy or the defensive lines in Italy as opposed to being rolled out the back of the supply truck.  I'm going to use them as such anyway.  Sorry about the pictures this time - the lighting and photo processing is off a bit.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


In this installment of Move, Shoot, Assault I'm sharing my latest platoon in finished form.  It's a US 105mm Field Artillery Battery.

Field Artillery Battery in Action
A quick web search will reveal dearths of information on the M2A1 Howitzer.  I found one of the most interesting facts was the production of the gun began in 1941.  In the nick of time.  Typical of most artillery it had long range capabilities.  12,325 yards or 7 miles.  If Flames of War wasn't so much about painting and showcasing our armies there would rarely be a place for this unit on the table in a company level game.
"I will destroy you with this clipboard and radio! Muawahahahaha!"
In game terms and list compiling I think the battery has an interesting role.  I think it is seldom out of place in a list.  I like to analyze its value and capability in comparison to mortars.  The changes to V3 made mortars more effective, which is awesome, but I think had an unintended consequence of reducing the frequency of medium howitzer (AT4 FP4+) artillery use.  The heavy artillery (AT5 FP2+) has gained popularity because of new availability in later war briefings again diminishing the presence of 105's.

When it comes to ranging in I think the mortar is better with it's re-roll on the first attempt but, US mortars don't get a dedicated observer or jeep.
"Be very quiet, were hunting wabbit."

"If only my Overlord could get this jeep in the game I'd get to use these cool binoculars."
On the other hand, unlike mortars, having a staff team allows you to get a 'Ranged In' marker making these guys potentially more accurate over multiple game turns.  The staff team also delivers the hated 'Time on Target' barrage along with uber multiple battery combining mayhem.

"But seriously lieutenant, we are winning the war."
You can also use an Annoying Observation Plane (AOP) with the staff team capitalizing on its longer range to strike at most targets on a typical game table.  If you are on the attack having a ranged in marker and 4+ firepower is nice but again, not necessarily better than mortars with 3+ firepower.  If I was running a trained army I'd be thinking about mortars first and these guys second and mainly for smoke bombardments.  If veteran I might take a shot at some armored vehicles but leave the smoke duty to mortars.

They do different things in different ways.  Let's discuss it.  Join in, follow the blog, and drop a comment.

The models are Battlefront's boxed set with sculpted resin bases which I very much enjoyed painting.  Someday I might actually have to pick a small platoon and actually try to paint the faces.  Enjoy the rest of pictures!

Howitzers 1 & 2
"Pull my finger."
"..barrel of a gun, son of a gun, son of a b...."
Howitzers 3 & 4
"Would you guys pipe down?! I'm trying to make a call!"
"Damn this is loud!"
"Fire for effect!
The only reason you kept looking...
I'd love for you to follow the blog.  Next up will be my second and more successful attempt at making barbed wire.  Thanks for checking in. Stay tuned.