Monday, 19 August 2019

AGNM Panzerkampfwagen 38(t)

And now here is the AGNM Panzerkampfwagen 38(t).  Once I decided that I was going to have WWII German tanks in my collection, I knew that the first one needed to be, well, not really German.  The (t) in the P38(t) stands for "tschechisch" (or Czech), as these tanks were designed and built at the ČKD factory in Prague, and fell under German control after the Nazi annexation of the Czech part of Czechoslovakia.  I'd consider this to be almost more of an interwar tank than a WWII tank, as it was designed before the war.  It was a pretty successful design, as it continued in front line service up to about 1942.  

It was a light tank, it's smaller than many other tanks of the early war, and definitely smaller than mid- or late-war tanks.  

Anyway, I don't have any more information to add, so here are the photos!

First, here are photos of the unpainted vehicle, in the raw resin as it were.  You can see the metal gun barrel and MGs, as well as the resin stowage.

And here is the tank with a basic panzer grey paint scheme.  The German balkenkreuz are decals, but I (obviously) hand painted the numbers.

Here are my two AGNM tanks side by side.

And here it is with a Valentine.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

T-34 mod. 1940

Inspired by Doug's enthusiasm for playing What a Tanker at the gates of Moscow in late 1941, I decided to place an order with Army Group North Miniatures in Ontario.  Yes, another Canadian company making 1/56 scale tanks!  I managed to get my order in just before AGNM went on hiatus so the owner could deal with some pressing personal matters (Andy hopes to have AGNM back up and running sometime in spring 2020).

AGNM vehicles are resin with metal fittings (things like MG and main guns).  The resin pieces are the hull and turret, and wow are they solid!  Each model has a nice heft to it.  The tanks have bases sculpted on, which adds to the heft, and will probably make them a bit more durable as well.  The masters were originally made by Tony Ashcroft of New Zealand, who I actually met when I lived in Wellington a dozen years ago.  I wasn't into WWII at the time, but I have several of his Great War models in my collection.

This post is about the AGNM T-34/76 mod. 1940, the earliest of the production versions of this popular Soviet tank.  It first saw action in Operation Barbarossa in the summer of 1941.  I'm thrilled to have this version, as most other T-34 models available tend to be later production versions (mod. 1941 or later).  Of course the T-34/76 is going to be functionally the same in WaT whether it is a 1940, 1941, 1942 or later, but I like that this one is "right" for the intended battle.

The tank comes with hull and turret in lovely butter-coloured resin, with metal gun barrel, MG and headlights.  It also came with some stowage.


Turret hatches are closed, so I don't have the opportunity to give this tank a removable commander as I did with previous tanks (and no, I have no intention of chopping or sawing away at the hatch to try to open it!).

I gave the tank a very basic paint job.  I'm not keen on mucking about with painting camouflage patterns; I would likely make a huge mess if I tried, so I'm quite happy that for the most part, Red Army tanks went into action with a basic green.  As you can see in the comparison photo, I wasn't able to match the shade of green I used on last year's T-34/85, which I will explain away with excuses like, "well, they were different batches of paint, they weathered under different circumstances, they're not even supposed to be on the same battlefield" and any other justifications I can come up with off the top of my head.

As you can see, I once again went overboard with the decals.  When I paint British or Canadian tanks, I will try to include all sorts of tank markings, but the Russians tended to use far fewer markings.  But I've got the decals and I want to use them!!!  And of course the red star is crooked :P

Here is a comparison shot with the Rubicon T-34/85.  Short of pulling out the calipers to try to measure some tiny difference, it's clear that the tanks are the same size.  

Here are the Red Army tanks to date.

Also, a few weeks ago my wife gave me a Zvesda 1/100 T-34/85 for my birthday!  It is teeny tiny compared to the 1/56 monsters, but was fast and fun to assemble and paint.

And here she is with her bigger sister, the Rubicon 1/56 T-34/85.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Harry Valentine

Here is the second of my Waffenkamer Valentine tanks.  This one I've painted as a British tank of the Royal Tank Regiment in North Africa.  I have not researched a particular tank or unit, so any one who wants to can likely find all sorts of errors with tank markings.

I've added a few bits of stowage.  This tank has been named 'HARRY' for no particular reason, except that one of the tank photos I saw had a tank called Harry II.  I painted the white-red-white national identification patch by hand (and it shows!), same with the HARRY name, but also added a few decals left over from a previous project.

To finish up, a couple of side by side shots showing the British and Russian Valentines.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

A Valentine for Russia!

I used to claim that, despite a few false starts, I didn't game WWII.  I tried Flames of War (to the extent of building and then abandoning a few different armies), I sampled a few other games, but overall felt that WWII gaming just didn't "do it" for me.  Well, judging by my painting table today, I think I must confess to being part of the club.

I'm going to blame Craig for bringing his What a Tanker games to the club.  Fun, fast games, great for multi-player, keeps each gamer involved even when it's not his turn.  And so I placed an order with Die Waffenkamer (JTFM Enterprises) for some Valentine tanks.  Why Die Waffenkamer?  The first reason comes down to basic patriotism, I always like to support a Canadian company when I can!  Another reason is that his tanks are actually better priced than the competition, whether that be Warlord/Italeri or Rubicon plastics, or metal or resin tanks from a variety of British or American companies.  Die Waffenkamer tanks are all resin, giving them nice heft compared to plastic, and the modelling and detail are superb.

I picked the Valentine with an idea of doing the Northern Desert, where Valentines were a mainstay of the RTR for much of the campaign.  In fact, Valentines appealed to me as they are among the unsung heroes of the war - while other vehicles were higher profile, the Valentines were in production right to the end of the war, and performed steadfastly while other tanks were achieving more heroics.  The Russians specifically asked for Valentine tanks to continue to be provided even after they were retired from British and Commonwealth armies.  And finally, back to patriotism again, Valentines were manufactured in Canada throughout the war!

As I mentioned, my original plan was to build some tanks to battle the Deutches Afrika Korps in North Africa.  However, Doug started to steer the gaming direction elsewhere - he wants to repurpose his Napoleonic 1812 Retreat from Moscow terrain, and found the Battle of Moscow to be an excellent target for his attention (his recent battle report can be found on his blog here).  I did a tiny amount of research and found that the first Valentines reached Russia in Sept 1941, just in time to participate in the Battle of Moscow.  So instead of painting my first tank for operations in the desert, here's a Valentine that has just entered service in the Red Army!

(The models in the background are a cardboard model of the Spasskaya Bashnya, which is the clock tower on the Kremlin facing Red Square, and a paper model of a manor house from Peter Dennis' Paperboys collection).

So here is a shot of the tank with the hatch closed.

 And with hatch open.  I've used magnets so that the commander can be swapped for a closed hatch as needed.  Not sure if I over-did it with the rusty exhaust pipe. Right now it looks a bit disconcerting.

And here are the components:  separate turret, hatch and commander.

Here is a series of size comparison photos.  All three tanks are 1/56 scale.  The T-34/85 is from Rubicon Models and the Churchill III is from Italeri/Warlord Games.  You can see that the Valentine is clearly the smallest of the three!

So there it is, my little tried and true Valentine.  Not the most glamorous, but she was reliable and she got the job done!  

New Jerusalem

We had a nice visit to New Jerusalem Monastery - a short train ride from Moscow. The original monastery had been destroyed (mostly during WWII), and the buildings here are of relatively new reconstruction/restoration. There are a lot of Orthodox churches and monasteries to be found all over the Moscow region, all very ornate.  I understand that many of them have been reconstructed or restored in the past quarter century since the end of the Soviet Union.  New Jerusalem was originally built in the 17th Century, to provide a more accessible location for Russian pilgrims to visit, as the Holy Land was under control of the Turks, and also very far away!

I don't have much to say about these photos.

Very pretty, brightly coloured beetles as saw along the path.

Footbridge over the river Jordan:

And here is the monastery, bright white in the summer sun!