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'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Friday, 13 July 2012

I feel your...

... angst. Over on '20mm Gamer', Nick Grant has posted on the agonies of getting German late war vehicle camouflage just right, in his post Panzer IV Tiger. Even the most relaxed war gaming modeller will have had some moments of doubt as they daubed German spots, dashes, stripes or blobs on their tanks and armour. I keep telling myself that I'm not a 'modeller' with a capital 'M', but someone who makes wargaming kit (which I, occasionally, very occasionally, game with), but I still worry. Look at the variety, particularly of colour and depth of colour in these random bits of my 1/76 stuff:

Above are two Frontline Hanomags. Good, basic wargame models in resin.

A pretty hefty, all metal Stug III from SHQ (I think); and below, another Frontline model, a late Pz III with 75mm :

The camouflage shapes on the Pz III were taken from photos of German armour in Norway after VE Day, while, below, this kit built (Fujimi ?) Hetzer sports one of a number of factory applied finishes for Hetzers (largely determined by which Czech factory made them).

The first problem is that, factory finishes apart, much late war German armour was given a basic ochre colour that appears in a remarkable range of yellowness in the colour plates of reference books. To add to that confusion, the red-brown and green was, as we are frequently told, applied in the field. That included application with brushes, rags, and just thrown on, with the paint diluted by the crew, using a variety of thinners, including petrol. Add to all that, wear and tear, fading, mud, dust, and the reasons behind the 20mm gamer's angst are clear and understandable. What is worse, sometimes a finish will somehow, in some magical 'mind's eye' way, just look 'right', but other paint jobs, in a similarly occult fashion, look all 'wrong'.

And it isn't just German armour! Below are a Loyalist light infantryman, and a British comrade. The various authorities in my AWI book collection note the variety of 'scarlet coats' in reality, so, for the Loyalist,  I gave him more of a rusty red 'scarlet' coat, whereas his British chum got bright red. 

I still can't decide which finish convinces me ... Nice figures, though.


  1. Solidarity, bruvver!!

    Thanks for the post Stephen, glad to hear I'm not the only one!!

    1. I'm sure you're not, Nick! The thing is even worse when you've been making the things for decades, because changing paint shades, shaky memory, new information (I stopped really taking notice when I heard that Ger late war paint was semi-gloss and only wore down to matt - aaaargh!) and one's own idea of what looks right make wargame kit look really different over time.

  2. Good post Stephen. I used to be a bit iffy about schemes but I am much more relaxed about them now.

    If you do not like em, go to IPMS and talk it over with those rivet counters!

    1. I'm with you there 100% As for rivet counters, well, even a passing acquaintance with the real kit in use shows the rivet counters up. A few years back, I took a party of RAF cadets to their parent squadron (a Chinook outfit at that stage), and was amazed to see how much of the inside of the helicopters were held together with duct tape - you never see that sort of thing on models. I might add that the cadets wore DPM that came straight from RAF stores, and was incredibly varied in colour tone.

  3. They look good to me Stephen, nicely grotty from being out on the battlefield.

    1. Cheers! I left them out on the table after photographing them, and, the next morning even I thought they looked ok!