Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Pitching a Tent

One of the features of Cold War Commander is the command system.  This uses command stands (either HQ or CO) to give orders to nearby units and it helps to make these command stands stand out so you don't lose track where they are!  Additionally CO have certain benefits over normal HQ so you need to track who's who.

I'd already use one of Heroics and Ros' FV105 Sultan CVR(T) Command vehicles (catalogue number BM17) for a HQ stand.

HQ in Sultan.  All figures H&R
Damn right that's '68 Pattern DPM in 6mm
I had one left to use on the CO stand.  I'm basing the CO on a larger 30mm x 30mm base so there's a bit of white space and I also wanted the Co to be distinctive from the HQ.  The H&R model has the "Tent CVR(T))" modelled on the back of the Sultan all rolled up.  It seemed easy enough to saw that off and then (not so easy) model up a deployed tent.

Initially, this was something of a pig.  None of the books I have have the damn thing photographed with the tent deployed.  The web was also tricky.  "Sultan" gets a lot of Ottomans.  "Sultan CVR(T)" starts getting the goods but, whilst showing a few with tents rolled off (apparently most Sultan's have had the tents removed in recent years), the only shot was of a computer model for a Battlefield 2 mod.  Now, from previous experience 'Reality Mods' can be a hit and miss affair as a source.  The tent looked about what I expected it to look but I'd still rather find a photo.
Thankfully, "Tent CVR(T)" actually got what I was looking for.  It's all about how you search for it!

The crusader80 website had a good variety of photos with the Sultan and its tent in view.  The main features to replicate seemed to be:
  • Height same as vehicle with slight peak
  • Width same as vehicle, slight flare out at bottom
  • Length about a 1/3 of the vehicle (or slightly shorter than the box bit of the body)
  • Canvas roll window each side
  • Canvas roll door at end.
Additionally, the model lacked a peaked bit of metal work that presumably stops the rain dripping down between tent and vehicle.  A bit of plasti-card would do that.

Chop Shop
So this is what I started with:

A pair of side cutters removed the majority of the rear with little subtly or trouble.  After that, a Dremel with a sanding head removed what little was left.  

Brutal, ugly work but thankfully it will be well out of view.

Putting Up The Tent Poles
I decided very quickly that this tent was not going to be hollow with a modelled interior.  A somewhat cowardly move but I find it important to know one's limitations!  Instead I mixed up some green stuff into a rough block of approximately correct proportions and slightly undersize.  This would be used to drape the 'fabric over'.  I did this a couple weeks ago and got on with some 6mm Infantry so that it'd be solid by the time I got back round to it.

Fabric Nationale
I did the tent in a few stages, sadly not realising toll later than I ahd not paused to take enough photos.
The first stage was the two sides.  I picked up some more green stuff and carefully pressed it flat onto a wet tile.  The tile is smooth and non-porous so the green stuff struggles to stick to it, especially if the tile is wet.
I then made sure my Stanley knife had  a fresh blade.  A scalpel would be easier to wield but I'm fresh out of blades at the moment.  Wetting the blade to stop the green stuff sticking, I cut out a rectangle slightly larger than the side.  I then carefully picked this up with the edge of the blade and laid it on the existing block.
I repeated the process on the other side and on the roof (having first used some green stuff to form a peak on the block).  I then used a pick to add some crease lines (always emanating from a corner) and very carefully scribed in a window shape in each side.

I left this to cure for 30 minutes so that putting on the rear of the tent wouldn't undo my handy work so far. 
At about this point I realised I had more mixed green stuff that I'd probably need, having ignored my own rule of mixing up half as much as I thought I needed (you'd be surprised how well it works as a Rule of Thumb).  

What's a boy to do with some rapidly curing and slightly toxic modelling putty?  

Camouflage Netting
Camouflage Netting is horrible stuff.  It has a wonderful ability to get tangled on itself and is semi-sentient, able to find and snag itself on every nook and cranny of whatever it is draped over.  It does do a fairly good job of breaking a silhouette up though.

So far I have avoided netting up the 6mm models.  This is partly from a desire to get them painted quickly and partly to make doing Mighty Miniatures Reviews easier.  Seeming as I was now the proud owner of a lump of curing Green Stuff and had time to kill, I set about green stuffing the Sultan and a Scimitar which will also be on the base.  I adopted the tried and trusted approach to green stuff camo netting which is to put a rough square or triangle onto the body and then jab it to death with a wet pick!
Good thing he's not going anywhere.  I covered the driver position!
Not even Camo can hide how bad the Skytrex Scorpion is
When I come to paint it I'll paint on some sand to add texture to it, but that's some way off yet.

Anyway, back to the tent

Rear Entry Point
So, we had one side of the tent still to do, the rear.  At this pint I still hand't decided whether I was going to model it closed or 'open' (albeit onto a black painted block).  I eventually decided to leave it closed for the sake of getting the job done. I had already left a 'sheet' of green stuff of more or less the right size which I dropped into place.  As with the other sides, I used a wet pick to add creases and a central split for the opening.

Finally, I used the thinnest plasti-card I had to add the metal work that overlaps the tent.  It's hard to give an inspirational speech about stopping the red menace when the rain's dripping right down your back!

I also used the last bit of green stuff to make a block that I'll paint up as a generator.  It needs filing into a squarer shape but that will have to wait till tomorrow when the green stuff isn't so soft.


There you go, the beginnings of a Command Stand!

I'm away from computer all of next week so I'll be updating the week after, probably covering either painting DPM (if I can get some decent photos) or just doing a photo trawl of the new vehicles I've painted.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Hail to the Chief(tain)

First off, Happy New Year!

Obviously I've been a bit remiss updating this over the Christmas break for which I can only apologise.  If its any consolation the R&R did me some good and I managed to get a fair bit done and off the painting table!  This does mean I've managed to build up a backlog of stuff to cover so I should be able to get updates out weekly for a few weeks at any rate!

Secondly, a big thanks to the guys over at All Along the Watch Tower.  Matt, Mike and Karol (with guest star Soya) have got off to a cracking start and were kind enough to stroke my ego in the second half of the latest episode.  The 6mm DPM guide will be coming soon!

Okay, onto business.  I went into some detail on painting British Armour on the last post "Small Scorpions are the Deadly Ones".  This update concentrates on the Chieftain Squadron (yep, twelve tanks) which were painted with much the same technique.  Rather than repeat that ground I'm just going to concentrate on the stuff I did differently and features unique to the Chieftain.

I pretty much hit up the same sources as used for the Scorpion (Armoured Acorn, etc) along with a few extra.

Firstly George Forty's book "Chieftain" dating back to 1979 and personally stolen from my dad's collection!  This book covers the Chieftain up to that point (Mk7) and has some colour stills.  Its main feature is some detail shots of the commander cupola and rear hull which helped get the detail right.

Secondly, the website 'Chieftain Tank'  has some useful photos of preserved examples.

Finally, I had a Primary Source!  My Dad served in 3RTR during the period we are wargaming and spent his entire career in one of the beasts (well, excepting a UN tour in a ferret recce car and the obligatory 'troubles').  The GHQ model is sufficiently detailed that, having the folks staying with me and not wanting to waste an opportunity, giving one to him spurred on an evenings worth of data (to the cost of an evening's painting) that proved very useful.

The choice of a British Army for CWC was pretty much spurred on by the family background and the fact that I was born and lived in Germany for the period we are wargaming.  Having grown up around the Chieftain it was hard NOT to want to buy as many as the army list permitted.  The GHQ model is, except for an annoyingly intrusive mould line on the bazooka plates, a superb model with a crazy amount of detail for a 6mm figure.  Although pricey, there was no way I wanted to skip on quality for these beasts.  I'll be doing a review for Soya's Mighty Miniatures blog shortly.

At the end of the research stage I had a good idea of the camo scheme I wanted to use and the detail I wanted to paint.

Basing, Undercoating, Washing and Highlights
This was pretty much as covered last post on the Scorps.  Army Painter's FOW spray 'British Armour' gave me a good base which was then liberally covered in Vallejo 'Black' and 'Brown' shade wash in a  50:50 slightly thinned mix.  I was working on all twelve tanks at the same time.
Post Wash

The Chieftains were then given a heavy drybrush of 'Russian Uniform'.  Unlike the Scorpions, I followed this with a lighter drybrush of 'Green Grey' as 'Yellow Green' was far too yellow on the Scorps.
Post Grey-Green Drybrush

Yes, I'll spare you the 'Camouflage' music video this time...

I found German Grey to be far too grey on the Scorpions so this time I used a 50:50 mix of 'Black' and 'German Grey', thinned down about 40-50% as Vallejo paints always should be.  I applied this in broad stripes, trying to follow the reference photo I had chosen.  I also tried to keep the scheme more or less the same from tank to tank and basically positioned the first four completed tanks to allow me an all round view to make the next eight easier and quicker to paint.  

To finish the camo off, I used thinned down German Grey to wet paint on an edge highlight.  Drybrushing would be very hard to do with the thin strips without overlapping onto the surrounding green.
Camouflage, highlight
Four Way View (probably best to go to Flikr and select the 'large size')

Fine Detail 
(or how Dad only told me the thermal sleeve was wrong after the first three tanks were done)

Before getting onto the fine detail there was some block detail still let to do in the form of the Thermal Sleeve.  Designed to stop the barrel from warping if one side is cooled by rain or wind, the sleeve is a distinctive feature of the Chieftain and the colour photos in 'Chieftain' made it look like a Khahki colour.  As such I carefully painted 'Khaki' on the barrels, being sure to leave the fume extractor and tip in green.
Thermal Sleeve Base Coat

After doing the first three tanks, Dad stuck his head in, looked at the tanks, and promptly told me that on later tanks (i.e. when he was in and therefore my time period) the sleeves were almost always painted over and camouflaged like the rest of the tank.  Cheers!  Wonderful timing as always.

I decided to finish the three 'incorrect' tanks off, if only to help anyone doing a sixties CWC army.  I gave the sleeve a brown/black wash and, when dry, followed this with Khaki then 'German Camo, Beige' highlights to bring out the detail.

Thermal Sleeve Highlight and Wash

Next, following Dad's advice I painted the end of the barrel black (helps hid the soot apparently).  I then used the black paint to undercoat the tracks, towlines, coaxial gun, commander's searchlight and exhausts.

Turret Black Detail

Hull Black Detail

As with the Scorpions. I painted a black rectangle (more of a brushstroke) on each vision block.  Considering some don't even bother doing this on 28mm 40K kits, this level of crazy detail is becoming my signature piece at the club!  I also added a larger black rectangle on the fornt and rear hull for the registration number.

I returned to the exhausts.  A Chieftain has three.  One large one each side of the rear hull and a smaller one for the AGU (Auxiliary Generator Unit, a small engine that provides system power when the main engine isn't on).  These seemed to either be painted the same as the hull or a dull brown colour (probably a red oxide anti-rust finish).  I decided to paint them as the latter just to bring a bit of extra detail out.  To do this I painted them 'Flat Brown'.  

Exhaust Detail and Registration Plate (Right Mud Guard).  I didn't realise the rear mould line was so prominent until I did the photos.  Sigh.

Next I used 'Gun Metal' paint to pick out the tracks, tow lines and co-axial gun.  I then, very carefully ran the edge of a paintbrush dipped in 'Oily Steel' over the tow line and co-axial gun to highlight.  I then painted in the black circle of the Commander's searchlight with Oily Steel to represent the search light reflector.
Finally I went over the metal and exhaust areas with 'black shade' to add some instant black lining.

Metal Work (actually taken after doing markings - note Rear Registration Plate)

Yeah, really.  Dad had detailed how the NBC pack of the tank (the box at the back of the turret) had a number painted on it to identify the tank.  The first number identifies the Squadron (1 for 'A sqdn', 2 for 'B sqdn' and so on for C and D).  The next number identifies the troop (what we call an armoured Platoon).  I had already decided that I was going to paint the tanks as 'B Sqdn' so 5th troop (the first troop of B sqdn) would be 21.  6th troop would be 22 and so on.  There are three tanks from each troop so the first three would have 21, the next three 22 and so on.

Clear as mud, right?

Additionally, the Main Searchlight housing would also sometimes have a geometric shape as a squadron marking on it.  B sqdn used a Square (which I recalled from FoW).  These were painted in white.

Using thinned down white paint, I tried to carefully paint the marking on.  The square was fairly easy, if a little oversized.  The numbering however was a bit of a nightmare.  I couldn't seem to get the paint consistency in the sweet pot and the numbering came out blurred.  A bit of a shame.

Squadron and Troop Number

Squadron Marking

I used the white paint to paint a small rectangle within the black rectangle I painted earlier on the hull to represent white text on a black background.  Simple but effective.

Finally I painted a small yellow circle on the front hull on the opposite side to the reg plate.  This is the bridge marking and is used by MP to ensure that a heavy tank like a Chieftain doesn't destroy a too weak bridge!

Bridge and Registration Number

As with the Scorpions, I used thinned down 'US Field Drab' to add a carefully applied 'ingrained dirt' wash to the tracks, lower hull and top surfaces.  This included the turret to not only represent the dirt that the crew would bring to the too as they got in, but also the fact that the sloped glacis plate and turret tended to send dirt from a shallow water crossing all over the tank.  A Driver could easily find himself swamped if not careful.  The lines and detail of the GHQ model really lends itself to this kind of weathering and fine detail, certainly more so than the lack lustre Skytrex Scorpion did.


Dirty Tank

The base was painted as per the Scorpion and static grass added.  I used a damp brush to flatten the static grass immediately behind the tracks to reflect the impact that 60 tonnes of steel and ammo has on foliage...

So there we go.  Twelve of the finest MBT available to NATO at the time (at least till the Leopard II and M1 Abrams arrive in the early Eighties).

Bravo Squadron, 3RTR forms up




The right hand side mould line is an absolute pain.  I'd say its more of a disjoin in the mould as the bottom half sticks out quite far.  A Dremel would fix it but the raised areas (which really limit the needle files access) and panel grooves would be destroyed.  Detracts from an other wise good model.



The finished Tank