Monday, December 31, 2012

15mm Zvezda WWII German Opel Blitz

Earlier this year I picked up a pair of Zvezda'a 1/100 scale WWII German Opel Blitz trucks to use in skirmish games with my Peter Pig figures. The kits sat and sat in the closet until Saturday afternoon, when I finally decided to put one of them together.

Operation Barbarossa 1941
Zvezda is well known for making excellent 1/72 scale figures and has been one of the main forces driving my constant interest in that scale. The Opel Blitz truck, along with other German and Russian vehicles and armor, is designed for Zvezda's line of WWII board games. The figures and artillery are 1/72, the vehicles are 1/100, and the  planes are 1/44.

Not Normal Styrene Plastic
The plastic Zvezda uses for the Opel Blitz is not hard styrene like you would find in other armor kits. Instead, it's a medium-density plastic more akin to the kind used in plastic 1/72 figures. As a result, it flexes a bit and can be a bit trickier to cut and trim. There was only minimal flash at spots that cleaned up easily. I used my sprue cutter to remove the pieces from the sprue and a fresh #11 Xacto blade to clean up what remained. Just watch out for feathering the plastic. Since the plastic is soft, I also discovered the hard way that filing and sanding didn't work too well. The kit is "snap-tite," but I still glued the pieces after test fitting them. Testors liquid cement worked great.

Building the Kit
The kit instructions are all visual and dead easy to follow. The kits builds easily enough but does not have anything near the quality of a 1/72 kit from Dragon or, I would guess, a 15mm kit from Plastic Soldier Company. After all, these little Zvezda trucks are meant as game pieces a 12-year old can snap together easily. As a result, the cab section has slight gaps where some of the pieces meet. I tried clamping these pieces after gluing them, but had only slight luck with the gaps. Oh well. I can't complain too much for $3. While in the box, some of the undercarriage struts got badly bent to the point of breaking. I made sure to glue each strut to the bottom of the truck bed. Because the truck flexed a bit, I also glued the back of the cab to the front of the bed, which stopped that from happening. I left the canopy unglued so I could remove it from the bed when needed.

What's Next to Do
The next step is to wash the kit in soapy water (I forgot to do this when on the sprue!) and paint it. The kit comes with a stat card for the game but doesn't include any decals. I assume finding some decals won't be hard

So there you go. A nice cheap kit you can use as an objective or just plain line-of-sight-blocking scenery. I plan to use at least one truck as an objective as in Call of Duty 2-player missions, such as somewhere in the town is a truck loaded with explosives. Find it and destroy it before it's too late. Or steal the Nazi's hoard of gold, load it into the truck, and drive off into the sunset. Wait a minute. That last bit wasn't in Call of Duty 2, was it? ;-)

Have a Happy New Year!

Of course, I only thought of snapping some photos midway into the project. So here you can see the box, instructions, and my progress at the moment. I'm using my OTT lamp for lighting. I always use a folded vinyl tablecloth when painting and modeling. It cushions my forearms, helping to prevent pain..See, I have pinched nerves in my elbows, along with carpal tunnel in both hands, a bone defect in my right hand causing tendon pain if I move it left and right, and plain old shaky hands. My son says my entire life is irony--the last thing I should be doing is modeling and painting figures! (If you watch me build models or paint, you'll hear me mutter mantras like "hold still," "don't shake," and "that's what they make touch up paint for." Wow, this was a long photo caption that got a bit derailed!

Assembled at last! All in all, it took me only 30 minutes of easy work, and I worked slowly.

Game angle view of truck and a Peter Pig figure. Looks fine from this angle.

From the side, the based figure is a bit taller than it should be, but gamers are used to this when using unbased vehicles. These vehicles will fit perfectly with my 1/100 Landmark buildings.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Next Gaming Project: Girls und Panzer

I have just discovered my next gaming project: the new Japanese anime series Girls und Panzer. I got my inspiration from today's email from Dragon Models USA, announcing the release of their new 1/35 kits for some of the tanks from the show in their Platz Models range. My current favorite is the red Stug with the banners, though I really wish they had the pink M3 Lee. There is just something special about school girls driving a pink tank into battle. Ok, I'm being silly. But these are real models for a real TV series. I don't build 1/35 kits, but if they were 1/72 diecast I probably would get them just for kicks. Come to think about it, Girls und Panzer just might make an interesting convention game.... I am so doomed. 

The Pink M3 Lee

Friday, December 21, 2012

London Mob: First Finished Figure

Yesterday, I finally finished the first of figure from my West Wind "London Mob" pack. A couple weeks ago, I had finished most of the figure except the cap and tie. That was the same time when I finished the London Thug figure I posted earlier. However, I just didn't like the highlighting I did on this fellow--the highlighting was too mild. I keep thinking this is a "problem" I've been having. I've been afraid I might "go to far" with highlighting. Then I decided to go for it, adding a new lighter highlight coat to everything. The result is below. It looks even better in real life when the eye blends all the colors. (Blowing figures up 3x in a pic is always rough!) Now, the figure is much more dramatic and closer to what I want my skirmish figures to look like. I think he has become my favorite miniature I've painted. You know, sometimes we just need to enjoy our own work. :-) Problem is, now I want to go back and redo some of my older figures! Oh yeah, several more figures are almost done. I redid their highlighting as well when I redid this fellow.

The base color on the coat is Vallejo Russian Green. The final highlight is Ceramcoat Wedgwood Green. I can't remember the color of the intermediate highlight. I think I just mixed in  bit of white? I forgot to write it down--drats! So much for using the blog to remember what I'm doing....

You don't want to know how many different colors I painted the hat before I settled on brown! One of the figures I'm painting is on the third or fourth color for his jacket. I also repainted the trousers on four other figures until the colors looked good. Not only must we learn how to paint, we must learn how to be fashion designers, picking good color combinations! Sometimes painting armies is sooooo much easier. LOL.

The coat's shadow color is Black Green. I'm trying to work on wet-blending colors. Now I need to finish the base.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Operation Amsterdam (1959): Early WWII in Holland

This evening on Netflix, I watched one of those WWII films that has totally gone under my radar: Operation Amsterdam (black and white, 1959). From the Film4 page for the film: "Stark WWII adventure dramatising a real Whitehall-backed operation to smuggle industrial diamonds out of Amsterdam before the advancing Nazis overrun the city. Starring Peter Finch and Eva Bartok."

This is a chilling movie shot in a stark, matter-of-fact style without all the emotion of most WWII commando or espionage films. It captures the tension perfectly--slow at times, chaotic at others. Like the characters in the film, you never know who is on your side. Are those soldiers ahead real Dutch soldiers or German fallschirmjager disguised as Dutch soldiers? I'm glad I found this film while browsing Netflix. Lately, I've been highly drawn to the early war period. I give Operation Amsterdam an 8/10. Watch the trailer, check IMDb, and see what you think. Or better yet, skip the somewhat spoiler-laden trailer and just watch the film one chilly evening. You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

League HQ Lounge

Not sure why I'm posting this pic, but here is part of the League HQ Lounge (aka game room / man room). This is about 1/4 of the room, where most of the "action" takes place and where many great minds have gathered to debate current and historical affairs of grave consequence. (Well, not really. But we usually have plenty of good snacks!)

Unless I need to set up some folding tables, we play our games on an old solid 3'x5' dining room table. I also do all my painting there. The junky office chair went in the trash several weeks ago. For some reason, I find the height and fit of the old rocking chair to be just right for painting, so I keep it on. I have more comfortable chairs out of camera shot.

My computer workstation sits off to the left, just out of the shot. The room is a converted bedroom with its own bathroom with shower and walk-in closet. To the back out of camera shot is an open space where we can set up a few folding tables. Plus I have my old Western-style sofa along the far wall--my wife hates it, but I love it. Over all, it's a clean, comfy place. I like it. Now I just need to clean out the closet!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Deadball as Superhero Figures

Today, I saw some pics of the upcoming plastic figures for Mantic Games' Dreadball. I'm not into Dreadball the game, but I thought some of the figs might be good for superhero games and other sci-fi skirmish games where not everyone has to have a visible weapon--maybe something like Infinity. After all, who is to say they don't have weapons built into their armor, like chest beams or wrist beams a'la Iron Man. Many of the poses look like classic superhero fisticuff action. Some could be individual heroes or villains, depending on your paint job and desire. Some "teams" might make good armored henchmen squads. Just a thought while my pain meds kick in. Am I onto something here?

These Trontek29ers look the superhero part. They kind of remind me of the Rocket Red corps from the 1980s Justice League. Classic superhero poses. They really don't have a major football look. They could he armored henchmen or individual heroes or villains. I like these guys.

She's a pretty cool alien. Is that a football or a bomb!?!

This gal speaks superhero figure to me and is what gave me the idea.

Ok, he's an ork but it can work for an armored baddie. Better for superhero games than a regular sci-fi ork.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

London Thug, Victorian Farm, & Painting Teeth

The other night, I wanted to post this photo along with the Old Glory explorer, but I ran out of time, having to dash out of the house on an errand. So with much delay, here is the photo of the first completed figure from the West Wind GL-106 London Thugs pack. I imagine him just getting off work at a fancier establishment, still wearing his red vest, and then causing some mayhem. I was thinking of painting the buttons the same red as the vest, which would have been very traditional for this cut of vest, but I decided to paint them an ivory color instead for some contrast. Several more of these figures are nearly done, so hopefully I'll get to them soon.

Inspirational Photos
Like the other figures in the pack, this figure is painted in simple colors using craft paints. After all, these guys are working class thugs. They can't afford fancy digs, unless they stole them from someone. (Grin) I've been drawing inspiration from shows like Victorian Farm, the old 1980s Sherlock Holmes series (my favorite version!), and just my memory of watching too many BBC Victorian dramas back in the day. Lots of browns and grays and white-to-off-white shirts, with the splash of color here and there. One of these days I'll work up the nerve to try my hand at some plaids and patterns!

Painting Teeth
The guys in this pack look so crazy and fun. I've been enjoying them. I did worry excessively about painting the teeth though. My solution was to use a "wet drybrush" technique. I used an off white, kind of pale yellow, paint on a 00 brush. Wiped off some of the paint, but not as much when drybrushing. I then ran it across the teeth. To my joy, it worked perfectly! It hit the tops of the teeth but left the gaps black. Several of these figures are bearing their teeth. I must say that many of these chaps need some major dental work!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Old Glory Explorer Finished

Having a couple of free days because the wife was sick and the son was working at the local movie theater, I actually did some miniature painting. It was a great day here in Central Florida, so I opened the man-room windows, fired up my early 1980s New Wave mp3 collection, and sat down for some relaxing painting. This was the first time I painted without having our cat, Chessie, taking a drink our of my rinse jar when I first sat down. It felt a bit lonely and odd. I kept thinking I heard and saw her. Anyway, I actually finished a couple of figures--the first in months! Today's figure is from old Old Glory.

Old Glory LAT-10 Explorers
This is one of the better figures from Old Glory's large pack of African explorers and missionaries.  For an old Old Glory figure, I think it came out pretty good. Nothing really special. I began painting this figure four years ago and let it languish. I have a few others from the set still to do, but I won't be doing most of the pack. I've decided to move on to better figures, such as Foundry. I need to play a game with some of these figures. It's been a year this week since I played a miniature game!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chessie: 1994-2012

It has been a rough week. This afternoon we had to put to sleep our cat, who was 18 1/2 years old. Though very old, she had been doing well. But time and old age started catching up with her this week.

Since I've been a huge train buff all my life, we named her Chesapeake for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, but called her Chessie, the name of the railroad's corporate mascot and later the name of the Chessie System railroad. We raised Chessie from a tiny kitten. Her mother died when Chessie was only two weeks old, so we had to feed her with a dropper.

Those who knew her, knew Chessie as a feisty little thing! Every time I sat down to paint my models, she had to jump up on the table to drink from the jar I used to rinse off my brushes. She would tiptoe through my miniatures to get to the jar. I can't tell you how many times she jumped up on the table to walk across whatever game we were playing--the attack of the giant cat! My son is taking the loss very hard, as are my wife and I. We knew this was going to be harder than when my father died last April or when our good friend and neighbor George died last June.

Anyway, I'll keep using that jar to rinse my paint brushes. But it will feel odd and lonely not having a cat trying to drink out of it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Painting WWII Soviet Infantry - Part 6C:
Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry

Articles In This Series
Part 1: Series Introduction, Plus Ranks & Insignia
Part 2: Summer Tunics & Trousers
Part 3: Basing Tips & Tricks
Part 4: Winter Uniforms
Part 5: Painting Guides
Part 6A: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry
Part 6B: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry
Part 6C: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry

This is the final installment in this series of articles on painting 28mm Soviet WWII miniatures. I've enjoyed writing the articles for this project, and by the looks of it if many of you guys also have enjoyed the project. A big thank you to everyone! I have more articles I'd like to post, such as one dealing with good Soviet WWII reference books and using paper building models for urban WWII fighting, but they will be stand-alones. Always something to blog about! Now I just need to find time and motivation. :-)

Two Photos Below: So here are the last of the painted miniatures. These are the helmeted soldiers. While I like the Black Tree Design miniatures, I wish they had more guys wearing medals. The Soviets loved giving out medals. The NCO in the center is wearing a medal for the Battle of Stalingrad. I'll add a bit more scenery material to some of the bases, but I'm going to take Margard's suggestion and not clutter them up.

Photo Below: Here are figures I'm still working on. I have some officers to finish, a scene with guys eating food, some snipers, and a prone LMG crew. As for unprimed miniatures, I have a pack of dismounted tank crew, two Maxim machine gun crews, and a pack of anti-tank rifles. I would also like some female soldiers, but I don't know of anyone doing these in 28mm. I had been a bit exhausted working on this project, but am getting ready to go back and work on it again.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Painting WWII Soviet Infantry - Part 6B:
Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry

Articles In This Series
Part 1: Series Introduction, Plus Ranks & Insignia
Part 2: Summer Tunics & Trousers
Part 3: Basing Tips & Tricks
Part 4: Winter Uniforms
Part 5: Painting Guides
Part 6A: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry
Part 6B: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry
Part 6C: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry

Eight of the Black Tree Design figures I have are wearing the fur hat known at a ushanka. While these hats can come in various shades of browns, greens, greys, and black, I made them all the same color to give them some unity. The NCO is wearing a grey hat to distinguish him from the others. To separate some of the same poses, I painted the top of two figures Reaper Uniform Brown, which had a bad habit of cracking while drying. I also gave the fellow on the far left rear a nice scar on his cheek. The NCO also got a small scar. I'll finish up the pics as soon as possible this week. I wanted to post them last week but got sidetracked with real life, barely having any time on the computer.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Painting WWII Soviet Infantry - Part 6A:
Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry

Articles In This Series
Part 1: Series Introduction, Plus Ranks & Insignia
Part 2: Summer Tunics & Trousers
Part 3: Basing Tips & Tricks
Part 4: Winter Uniforms
Part 5: Painting Guides
Part 6A: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry
Part 6B: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry
Part 6C: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry

Until now, I've been showing odds and ends photos of these figures in various stages of painting. Finally, we have all of them painted and on pretty much done bases. I still need to buy some more autumn flock and debris, but these guys are good enough to start fighting those dirty fascists!

Photo Above: In the foreground, I have four infantry wearing the cloth pilotka hat. Three of them are wielding the deadly but close-range PPSh-41, with one fellow getting ready to throw his grenade and assault. While some gamers dislike kneeling poses, I like having some of them in my skirmish games. The fellow pointing is quite dramatic, and I like the fellow aiming his rifle.

The two figures in the background are bareheaded, of course, but are the exact same pose. I got seven of this pose from the fellow who sold them to me second-hand! Seven bareheaded guys!?! Agh!!! I tried to make these two guys looks as different as possible, but what can you do other than different colored hair? Oh well. I have the other five figures primed in case I meet someone who wants to learn how to paint. I also used one as a test piece to try out some techniques.

Photo Above: Here you can see the rear of the figures. It shows some of the various pieces of equipment these figure sport. The figures second and fourth from the left in the foreground have a single flap pouch that I want to think is a PPSh-41 ammo drum pouch or a grenade pouch, hard to tell because this pouch is used on different poses regardless of weapon. I just realized the pouch also looks like a medical bag--this might be something I add later on for a medic figure, just paint a red cross in a white circle! Soviet equipment is so confusing and varied that I no longer lose sleep over it.

You can also see the different painting techniques I was trying and learning, such as how to line the the figures--use a black line? a darker shade color? something else? A little touch I really liked was highlighting the boot heels and soles.

Photo Above - From Left to Right: I really like the drama of the first figure on the left. He looks like the hardened soldier. The second fellow has a rather frightened look befitting his new (aka matching and greener) uniform--how many days will he last in the field?

While I could have painted the officer in standard Soviet infantry colors, I decided to paint him in NKVD colors, which fit into the platoon's shot-to-heck back story I was cooking up in my head. He just isn't standing behind the platoon, ready to shoot anyone who even thinks about retreating. No, he has taken over a command, extending his left hand for his men to begin deploying to his left and right in preparation for the assault. Desperate times, you know.

The final fellow has a PPSh-41 with grenade, looking more like he's going to pass it to someone than throw it. His satchel could be a grenade pouch, but if you look at his rear photo you'll see he has no other equipment--no shovel, canteen, ammo pouch--nothing. Sloppy sculpting from one of the itinerant sculptors of the line or has this solider lost all his gear? You be the judge. (I like to think the latter, but suspect its the previous, hence the weak "here's a grenade for you, comrade" pose.)

Until Next Time: The next post will show the remainder of the platoon, so stay tuned. I hope these photos and the series inspire you to give some Soviets a try.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I Got the Fever For Rioting Victorians!

What a weekend. Though I've gotten sick again, I tried to do a little painting, finding that fevers and 28mm don't mix well. Still, I soldiered on! I got out my West Wind rioting Victorians and began working on the white shirts. I had already painted the base coats, using three different craft paint colors for the shirts: Warm White, Antique White, and Vintage White. This gives a bit of variety, though after today I've come to prefer using Warm White and maybe Vintage White, with Antique White being a bit too "buttery," if that makes sense. Anyway, on five of the shirts I painted the shadows using two different light shades of grey (all Polly Scale paints since they come lighter than any other hobby paint). Then I gave up. Shame the shadows faded out in this grab shot. Some of these guys are starting to look a little human finally!

Also, I finally got around to taking good quality photos of my Soviets, Westerns, all all my other figures. So in the coming days, look for lots of miniature photos. I even shot photos of all my stalled projects and some of the lead mountain stuff as well. It was really cathartic for some odd reason. Maybe I'll even slip in some photos of the League HQ Lounge. Of course, I'll need to get permission from The Queen Mum (aka my wife), Gawd Bless, Her!, before I reveal such state secrets. And, I'll have to promise her that I won't tell anyone of the new League Secret HQ being constructed under the North Pole or the Airship Fleet we're building in Dontunnastan. ...oops...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Tears of Steel" Short Film

The 12-minute video below, "Tears of Steel," was made using Blender, a free open source 3D software package. The effects are top notch, along with the story. I was very impressed and enjoyed it. Filmed in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Check for more info and to download the software and Tears of Steel's website for lots of info about the making of the film, which was crowd-funded. I like the robots, which remind me of robots from Critical Mass Games.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Painting WWII Soviet Infantry - Part 5:
Painting Guides

Articles In This Series
Part 1: Series Introduction, Plus Ranks & Insignia
Part 2: Summer Tunics & Trousers
Part 3: Basing Tips & Tricks
Part 4: Winter Uniforms
Part 5: Painting Guides
Part 6A: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry
Part 6B: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry
Part 6C: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry

Series Overview
This is the fifth in an ongoing series of articles documenting the research I have been doing for painting my 28mm Black Tree Design miniatures for 1:1 skirmish gaming. Finding historical information on Soviet uniforms that gamers can use was very difficult, with much of it scattered across various Osprey and other books, along with some websites. I hope folks find this series of articles helpful and might even stir some interest in gaming the Eastern Front. While I painted 28mm miniatures, nearly all this information is useful for all miniature sizes.

I hope you've been enjoying this series of articles and would love to hear your comments. And if you enjoy gaming the Eastern Front in any scale, please include a link to your blog or online photo pages.

One Size Does Not Fit All
Soviets with a lend-lease jeep with a Browning .50 cal.
While doing the research for painting my Soviets, I came to realize that there was no one correct color of Soviet uniform because of the country's poor quality controls and need for many uniforms quickly. Plus, uniforms quickly faded and changed color once they hit the battlefields. For example, tunics and trousers could range from dark green to light cream, with even some tans and browns tossed in. Equipment also came is many different colors, styles, and materials. It can be quite confusing, as well as very liberating because we needn't worry so much about accuracy as we would when modeling the Western Front.

Since I use 28mm miniatures for 1:1 skirmish games that border on roleplaying games, I wanted my soldiers to have as much individual character as possible and reflect the hard city fighting of Stalingrad and its surroundings. The video game Call of Duty 2 heavily influenced my decision to game Stalingrad.

Some Unity is Important
While I painted the uniforms to reflect the chaotic mishmash look of city fighting, I also wanted them to look like a unified fighting force on the table. Being a modeler all my life, I like to say that we don't model reality but people's idea of what reality is supposed to be. For example, I could have painted the steel helmets and ushanka winter hats all sorts of different colors and shades, which would have been quite realistic for my setting, but I used the hats and helmets to unify the soldiers. This is why I painted all the steel helmets the same shade of green. Same for the ushanka, though I did give a cigar-chomping NCO a grey hat to signify his "special" status.

I begin this post with my own guide I created to paint my figures. I also give you some additional painting guides that you might find useful and more to your liking. Finally, you can also check out the nice WWII painting and camo guides over at Artizan's website.

CPBelt's Soviet Infantry Painting Guide
Here is the comprehensive painting guide I created to paint my infantry so far. It collects the bits from earlier articles and includes a lot of new info. I used Reaper paints because I can get them locally. While I have had some problems with some colors of Reaper paint being too thin or cracking while drying (the Olive triad and Uniform Brown all cracked, along with some others), I really like their Terran Khaki triad. As I paint my remaining figures--such as tankers, snipers, officers, NKVD, sailors, and so on--I'll add that info to this guide.

M35 & M43 Summer Tunics, Trousers, & Pilotka
Unless a soldier was a fresh to the fighting, I often painted the tunic one base color and the trouser a different base color. Often Soviet infantry would take better bits and pieces of uniforms when theirs would wear out. For example, a hardened soldier might have light trousers but a new darker jacket.

Fresh Troops
Highlight: Reaper 9122 Terran Khaki
Base: Reaper 9121 Khaki Shadow
Shade: Folk Art FA449 Olive Green

Veteran Troops
Highlight: Reaper 9123 Khaki Highlight
Base: Reaper 9122 Terran Khaki or Vallejo 988 Khaki
Shade: Reaper 9121 Khaki Shadow

Hardened Troops
Highlight: Reaper 9123 + White
Base: Reaper 9123 Khaki Highlight
Shade: Reaper 9122 Terran Khaki

Poor Quality Conrol Variation
Highlight: Reaper 9127 Uniform Brown + Reaper 9123 Khaki Highlight
Base: Reaper 9127 Uniform Brown
Shade: Americana DA180 Asphaltum

M41 & M43 Winter Uniform
These colors work for both the jacket and trousers.
Highlight: Base + Reaper 9123 Khaki Highlight
Base: Reaper 9162 Driftwood Brown
Shadow (and padding creases): Dark Brown.

Steel Helmet:
Highlight: Base + White
Base: Folk Art FA927 Old Ivy + Folk Art FA449 Olive Green
Shade: Americana DA157 Black Green
Chin Straps: Reaper 9122 Terran Khaki

Ushanka (Fur Hat)
For painting the standard infantry ushanka, you will need the colors below and then follow how I painted the hats. First, I painted the entire ushanka Reaper 9158 Olive Drab and then drybrushed the fur flaps with Reaper 9122 Terrain Khaki and then very lightly drybrushed some Reaper 9123 Khaki Highlight. I then painted the cloth part of the hat using Reaper 9121 Reaper Khaki Shadow, highlighting the edges with Reaper 9122 Terrain Khaki. Finally, I lined the edges of the fur flaps using Reaper 9158 Olive Drab. The last touch is to paint the Soviet stars, touching them up with some black and then simply painting them a shade of bright red, leaving some black along the edge for shading.
Drybrushed: Reaper 9123 Khaki Highlight
Drybrushed: Reaper 9122 Terran Khaki or Vallejo 988 Khaki
Reaper 9121 Khaki Shadow
Reaper 9158 Olive Drab

I painted all my blankets using summer tunic colors above. You could also paint them shades of green-grey, maybe a brown, and so on. Again, nothing was standard.

Canvas Gear
This includes cloth grenade satchels, ammo pouches, shovel covers, straps, canteens, backpacks, belts, and anything else made of cloth or cloth webbing. Since there were no real standards, with this equipment coming in all sorts of shades, you can vary the base color as you like, using various khakis and light olive greens. Flap straps could be cloth or leather. I painted buckles a tin color.
Highlight: Reaper 9123 Khaki Highlight
Base: Reaper 9122 Terran Khaki
Shade: Folk Art FA449 Olive Green

Leather Gear
This includes leather belts, straps, and ammo pouches. You really have a wide selection of leather colors to choose from, from reddish leather to brown leather to tan leather. It seems that NCO's and better soldiers got higher quality black leather ammo pouches. From what I can see, belts were never black leather. Below are the three leather variations I used on my figures.
Base v1: Vallejo 940 Saddle Brown
Base v2: Reaper 9030 Leather Brown
Base v3: Reaper 9031 Tanned Leather

Any black will do.

M43 Shoulder Boards (Summer & Winter Uniforms)
The M43 saw shoulder boards come into fashion, both for summer and winter uniform. The board itself is darker than the uniform and trimmed in a color specific for that branch of service. Infantry shoulder boards, for example, has raspberry colored piping trimming the edges. The button on top of the board is brass.
Shoulder Board Base: Reaper 9121 Khaki Shadow
Shoulder Board Trim: Americana DA276 Razzle Berry

Since Soviets practiced assault tactics, they loved their grenades. Again, these could come in many different shades like the uniforms, but I chose to paint them all the same color.
Base: Reaper 9122 Terran Khaki

Panzer Aces Paint Guide
If I remember correctly, this is a guide I took from one of the Panzer Aces series. It uses all Vallejo paints. Some folks might find it useful.

Summer Tunic, Trousers, & Pilotka
Highlight: Base + 914 Green Ocher + 976 Buff
Base: 879 Green Brown + 882 Middlestone
Shade: Base + 872 Chocolate Brown + 950 Black

Winter Padded Jacket & Trousers
Highlight: Base + 976 Buff
Base: 897 Bronze Green with 913 Yellow Ocher
Shade: Base + 872 Chocolate Brown + 950 Black

Cloth Coat
Highlight: Base + 991 Dark Sea Grey
Base: 866 Grey Green + 872 Chocolate Brown
Shade: Base + 950 Black

Steel Helmet
Highlight: Base with 882 Middlestone
Base: 897 Bronze Green
Shade (washed):  950 Black

Highlight: Base with 986 Deck Tan
Base: 886 Green Grey
Shade (washed): 950 Black

Leather Equipment
Highlight: Base + 981 Orange Brown
Base: 984 Flat Brown + 940 Saddle Brown (varnished gloss)
Shade: Base + 950 Black

Canvas Equipment
Highlight: Base + 976 Buff + 951 White
Base: 917 Beige with 881 Yellow Green
Shade: 872 Chocolate Brown

Highlight: 950 Black + 872 Chocolate Brown
Base: 950 Black (varnished gloss)
Shade: 950 Black

Vallejo Soviet Paint Set
The basic guide below is from Vallejo's Soviet boxed paint set and is for the M43 summer uniform.

894 Russian Green or 823 Luftwaffe Camo Green

Greatcoats & Bedrolls
874 USA Tan Earth

SMG Ammo Pouches
983 Flat Earth

880 Khaki Grey or 988 Khaki

950 Black

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Painting WWII Soviet Infantry - Part 4:
Winter Uniforms

Articles In This Series
Part 1: Series Introduction, Plus Ranks & Insignia
Part 2: Summer Tunics & Trousers
Part 3: Basing Tips & Tricks
Part 4: Winter Uniforms
Part 5: Painting Guides
Part 6A: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry
Part 6B: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry
Part 6C: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry

Series Overview
This is the fourth in an ongoing series of articles documenting the research I have been doing for painting my 28mm Black Tree Design miniatures for 1:1 skirmish gaming. Finding historical information on Soviet uniforms that gamers can use was very difficult, with much of it scattered across various Osprey and other books, along with some websites. I hope folks find this series of articles helpful and might even stir some interest in gaming the Eastern Front. While I painted 28mm miniatures, nearly all this information is useful for all miniature sizes.

The M41 and M43 Winter Uniforms
In earlier articles, I focused on Soviet summer uniforms. Now I turn my attention to the padded winter uniforms, which were designed to withstand the brutal cold of the Eastern Front.

There are two main patterns of padded winter uniforms: the M41 introduced in 1941 and the M43 introduced in 1943. Both patterns feature nearly identical padded trousers, called "vatnie sharovari" in Russian. These are so similar that gamers really needn't worry about the details because on 28mm and smaller miniatures one pair of padded trousers looks just like the next pair to my eyes. However, when we look at the winter uniform's padded jackets, called "telogreika" in Russian, we can spot some significant differences between the M41 and M43 patterns.

The M41 Telogreika
The M1 telogreika has the same large, folded-down collars as the M35 summer tunic pattern, which I discussed in Part 2 of the series. Rank insignia are displayed on these collars, as you can see in the drawing of the uniform to the upper left. As I discuss later in this article, most telogreika-clad Soviet WWII miniatures use the M41 pattern.

The M43 Telogreika
The M43 pattern, on the other hand, eliminated the telogreika's large collar, replacing it with a short upstanding collar buttoned at the top. This follows the same collar design as on the M43 summer tunic. As with the M43 summer tunic, senior NCO's wearing the M43 telogreika were to have shoulder boards displaying their rank insignia. However, photos show that many NCO's chose not to wear any sort of shoulder board on their telogreika. The photo to the right clearly shows the M43 telogreika, though the photo looks like a publicity shot because the uniforms and equipment on these soldiers look practically brand new and way too clean to have seen any fighting. (Soviets in WWII were fond of staging publicity photos, including combat photos.)

Mixing and Matching Jackets and Trousers
Because the telogreika was warmer than summer uniform jackets while still allowing a soldier more freedom of movement, soldiers often wore their telogreika in spring and autumn as well as in winter. You can see this in some photos, with soldiers wearing their telogreika and regular (non-padded) wool or cotton trousers, while other soldiers are wearing the full summer uniform.

In fact, on the cover of Red Army Uniforms of World War II in Colour Photographs (1993), you can see the fellow on the right wearing a telogreika along with the summer uniform trousers. By the way, this is a great book, with each page featuring one or more color photos of reenactors in Soviet uniforms. There is also a section of gear. This book has been a valuable asset for me, but its info can be a bit sketchy at times. You can pick up perfectly fine used copies of the book on Amazon for $20.

The Ushanka
Nothing screams Soviet/Russian winter like the ushanka! The ushanka, which means "ear hat" in Russian, is a distinctive feature of Soviet WWII uniforms and remains popular today. (In fact, my nephew up North likes to wear a rather large ushanka. Of course, we in Central Florida have little use for such a hat. But I digress...) Sometimes you might see this hat called a shapka or chapka, but from what I've read WWII uniform books prefer calling them ushanka. These hats come in many colors, from the same color as the uniforms, to shades of brown, to shades of cream, to shades of grey. The Soviet Star on the front flap could be red or gold, though I prefer red for my miniatures. You can tie the ushanka's ear flaps at the top of the hat, pulling the flaps up, or you can lower the flaps over the ears, tying them under the chin to keep you nice and tosty on those cold Stalingrad nights. Pretty nifty and very Soviet-looking!

28mm Miniatures in Winter Uniforms
On the page WWII 28mm Soviet Infantry, I discuss in detail which miniature companies make soldiers clad in winter uniforms and identify the uniform patterns they wear. (Originally, that page started as part of this article but grew too large!) Still, I'll briefly say that Artizan, Black Tree Design, Crusader, Warlord Games, and West Wind figures all wear the M41 telogreika with large collars. The Assault Group and Victory Force figures wear the M43 telogreika with short collar and shoulder boards. Some figures wear padded trousers, while most others wear regular trousers.

Painting Winter Soviet Uniforms
Information about painting Soviet winter uniforms can be found in Part 5 of the series, Painting Guides, which will be posted in a couple of days. I'll also post it as a page. This is a comprehensive list of guides covering all the uniforms covered to date.