Afrika Korps in 15mm — a beginning is made

Having made the decision to stick with 15mm for my Afrika Korps, I've had the 3d printer working overtime to get the core of the Korps established.

The only one of these models that isn't 3d printed is the painted Panzer IV F1 at centre rear; that's a 1:100 (15mm) PSC model.

I'll do another couple of Panzer IV D, and then I'll get on to transports and things. Anti-tank guns might be an issue, I'll probably have to buy those, along with some infantry. I think I might have a BF PaK 38 in amongst my stuff; I shall have to see if I can dig it out. And I have some other useful bits and pieces from the PSC 15mm early-war German heavy weapons box that can be painted in desert yellow and put into service.

Vallejo Caunter Set

 I just got a set of Vallejo ModelAir paints that I'd ordered some time ago, their Caunter British Colors set.

In fact it's not just for the Caunter scheme, as it includes BSC 61 Light Stone and BSC 49 Purple Brown, used after the Caunter scheme was prevalent, and Khaki Green No.3 which was the standard base colour in which pretty much everything was painted for Home Service and France.

I've been using mix recipes for all of these, of variable reliability, but it's convenient to have a pre-mixed solution that I can just pour out of a bottle.

The colour described in the Caunter scheme as Slate Grey is named here Dark Green, and I don't know if that's because Vallejo are trying to replicate the British early-war Dark Green No.4 or if they've just mis-named the Caunter shade.

I've not even sure if the two paint colours were actually different, in fact. They may well not have been, and simply been named differently in different painting specifications of the time.

I've been using Vallejo German Field Grey for Slate Grey, and that does seem to be quite similar to the colour they've presented here. I've been using Olive Grey for Dark Green No.4, and that looks OK to my eye, so I'll probably just carry on with that.

More Scale Comparison Dithering

Left to right:
Battlefront 1:100 (15mm) PzIII Flammpanzer
3d printed M.Bergman 1:200 PzIII L
Ancient GHQ 1:285 PzIII J
I've been fiddling around the edges of building some WWII desert forces, and now my procrastination and prevarication has come to a head: which scale should I commit to?

They each have their pros and cons.

I already have a few 1:100 (15mm) bits and pieces, mainly British and Italian. I don't have any Afrika Korps infantry, but that's fairly easily remediable, and I have access to digital models of pretty much all the vehicles I'd really need. The down-side is that they take a while to print and they do need quite a bit of painting to look good, and also they're large enough that my 900 x 1800 mm tabletop really doesn't look like wide open desert when I'm using 15mm stuff on it. It's fine for a game like Chain of Command, a bit cramped for something like WRG 1925-50, Fist Full of TOWs or Battlegroup.

1:150 (10mm) isn't really all that much smaller than 1:100, and needs pretty much as much attention to painting as 15mm models. The benefits of that scale, such as they are, don't outweigh the fact that I already have a decent head-start on the models I need in 15mm.

I'm completely new to 1:200, so I would be starting from scratch, needing not only the vehicle models, but also buildings and similar terrain — fortunately, buildings aren't a very prominent feature of a lot of WWII desert battlefields. I can print most of what I'd need, and a tank like the Panzer III shown here only takes about an hour and a half. Painting to an acceptable standard is pretty easy. I'd probably have to use 10mm infantry from somebody like Pendraken, and they'd look a bit big next to the 1:200 vehicles and guns; that is a concern. Also, since nobody I know locally has a 1:200 scale force of their own, I would have to provide the troops for the Commonwealth, Italy, and Germany to be sure of having sufficient forces for a battle. This scale is small enough that my gaming table starts looking acceptably large, and the models are small enough for big battles while still being large enough to distinguish easily.

1:300 - 1:285 is a scale that I already have quite a lot of, and it's a scale that works well on a fairly small table, or makes a moderate-sized table like mine look positively huge. The only issue with it, from my point of view, is that with age my eyesight has deteriorated somewhat, and the models and figures on the tabletop have become difficult to see properly unless I'm sitting right over them. I'm not so blind that they're unusable, but the fact remains that my eyes are not as good as they once were, and it's tiresome having to squint and peer to make out what I'm looking at.
LATER:     I've decided to stick with 15mm for the present moment. It's logistically more convenient in every way than starting on a whole new scale that nobody else in Christchurch has ever heard of, plus, I can build on the few bits and pieces I've already got in that scale.

BAOR Beginnings (Again)

I've made a start on a 1/150 scale 1980s BAOR force. I've done this before, not too long ago, in 1/300 scale, but this scale will be easier for me to see and manipulate on the table. I'll mostly just be replicating that micro-scale army in 1/150 really.

I never actually got much use out of the 1/300 scale stuff, and I'm still pretty ignorant of post-WWII equipment and doctrine, but if they maintain the quality of their WWII stuff, I expect NORTHAG will serve pretty well as a broad-strokes introduction to the period.

The infantry are going to be the problematic part. I can print them OK, but at the moment I have no digital models specifically for 1980s British troops, and I'll quite likely end up having to sculpt some.

Cura Profiles — 1/150 Comparison Prints

With the imminent release of NORTHAG I've become interested in printing some 1980s BAOR stuff in 1/150 scale. I thought I would do a comparison test to see what sort of printing time to quality trade-offs I could afford to make. I don't require diorama-quality models for my wargaming pieces, but I do like them to look decent at least.

The test-bed model I chose is a Chieftain tank, modeled by a chap who goes by the Thingiverse moniker of Captain_Ahab_62. It was modeled in 1/100 scale, but intended to be printed scaled down to 1/285; I've scaled it down to 1/150.

All of them were sliced in Cura 4.1 and printed on my Creality Ender 3 in eSun PLA+. All were printed on a raft, using tree supports with support roofs enabled. All are shown straight off the printer, without any cleanup at all.

This is printed with the FDG Minis profile I've got into the habit of using for my 15mm stuff.
The layer height is 0.08mm, print time was 8 hours 22 minutes.

This one uses Cura's built-in "Extra Fine" profile.
Layer height is 0.06mm, print time was 5 hours 57 minutes.

This one also uses a built-in Cura "Fine" profile.
Layer height is 0.1mm, print time was 3 hours 31 minutes.
The higher speed of the built-in Cura profiles appears to have given me a bit of ringing in vertical surfaces, but I doubt that that would be very apparent under a coat of paint, and the advantage in print times over that of the FDG profile is substantial. The Fine profile renders adequate results for playing pieces, and it is quite quick, but the Extra Fine profile is markedly superior, and still fast enough that I could get three tanks off the printer in a day's run, so unless there's a matter of great urgency, that's probably what I'll use.

12mm Remix

Original model

Remixed model
I had a go at remixing/remodeling one of the 12mm WWII British infantry by LoxFil that I wrote about in a previous post. The original model is on the left here, the remix on the right.

I did it just to see what I could make of the figures, treating them as mannequins, and in general I think they'd do fairly well. They could probably be rescaled to 15-18mm without any major issues, but they'd have to be printed on a resin printer I think — my Ender 3 would struggle to resolve much, if any, of the new detail, especially at 12mm scale.

The chunkiness of the original is advantageous for wargaming figures in these small scales. If they were closer to actual scale dimensions, they'd not only be a lot more fragile and difficult to print, but they'd also look far too thin and wimpy.

I doubt very much that I'll go any further than this with these figures; I have no plans to start doing WWII in 1/144 or 1/150 scale. However, I am thinking about building a 1980s BAOR force in that scale for NORTHAG when it appears, so maybe I'll do something in that line. Though a 12mm SLR barrel will be a tricky thing to print.

Wall of 3d Printed Fire

I found the STLs for this on Thingiverse, but foolishly neglected to take note of exactly where. Hey-ho. This lot took about seven hours to print on my Ender 3, and about another twenty minutes or so to paint.

I haven't really gone in for spell effect models for tabletop minis in the past, but for persistent effects like this they can be quite useful. In fact, 2d printouts, pasted to cardboard and cut, out would be just as useful, and wouldn't look any worse — in fact they may even look better. And they'd almost certainly take me less than seven hours to prepare. But never mind, I've got these now, and they'll serve my needs just fine.

Art & Arcana

This arrived for me today from the Book Depository. It's not the sort of thing I'd normally lay out my own money on, I had a bit of spare built up in my PayPal "buying toys and shit" account. It cost me about $54 in Kiwibucks.

It's an illustrated history of D&D from its earliest days right up to the present-ish (that being 2018), and is plentifully illustrated with art from every edition of the game, plus some of the peripheral TSR properties like their collectable cards, computer games, Dungeon board game, and Dragon magazine.

It doesn't go into minute detail, but it covers everything (as far as I'm aware). It's an interesting potted history of a game that has been perennially important throughout my adult life. Interesting, that is, if you're interested in that sort of thing.

It's a pretty hefty tome; I haven't weighed it, but it's heavy enough to make me very grateful for the Book Depository's free worldwide shipping.

Kfz 14

Adler Kfz 14
I've been wrestling with putting together this Kfz 14 radio car, from a base model by Bergman or TigerAce1945, I can't remember which.

I took off the original wheels (which was quite a task, as the mesh was a bit of a shambles) and made some new ones, and I added the aerial and radio station in the back. New bonnet, new engine grill... probably should re-do the mudguards as well. Come to think of it, there's not a hell of a lot of the original mesh left at all.

The print is OK, but not amazing — I'd really like to have access to a DLP or SLA resin printer, which would produce a much cleaner model.

The crew are a couple of 15mm Skytrex figures, artillery crewmen in fact. I dropped the officer on to his face and squished his nose a bit.

The vehicle is painted in the grey and brown of the very early WWII period, during the first Blitzkrieg era in Poland and the Low Countries. Unfortunately I painted the white cross on the starboard side rather too large; I might see if I can redo it, but it's not a terribly high priority.

That's a cul-de-sac, all right

12mm Minis

I found these fairly crude 12mm figures, designed by Фил Лохмин, and out of curiosity I printed up a set on my Ender 3. These are printed at 0.08mm in eSun PLA.

Airfix 8th Army HO/OO
When I say crude, I mean it. These are even less detailed than the old Airfix HO/OO figures from the 1960s. However, they're identifiably human, and I can tell the difference between a rifle and a Bren, so they'd be quite usable as gaming pieces, if not as diorama-quality miniatures. The FDM printer isn't the ideal machine to print them on; they'd be much better done on a resin printer, but FDM is what I've got.

They're OK in terms of proportions, for the most part, and they'd probably be fine as a starting point if I wanted to sculpt a bit more detail and bit less geometric blockiness into them, but I doubt that I'll be motivated to do that in the short term since I'm not intending on swapping my wargaming allegiance to 12mm at this time.

The vehicle is Bergman design, a 25 pounder Bishop SPG, scaled up to 1/150 from one of his 1/200 scale models.

Wrestling With Shermans

Sherman II at El Alamein, by Steven Zaloga
 To date, I've been concentrating my WWII Western Desert modelling on the early period, up to 1941 and Operation Crusader. Now I'm extending that out a bit towards the era of Operation Lightfoot and the battles of El Alamein.

To that end, I thought I might want some Shermans, and the one I like the best is the M4A1, known to the Brits as the Sherman II. I like it because its cast hull is so rounded and cuddly.

Zachary Kavulich has already designed a model of the M4A1, so that's where I started.

I reattached the tracks to the hull (Zac has them as separate objects) and filled in the voids under the sand shields. There were some very thin walls on the sand shields that I knew from experience would cause me issues in printing.

I initially printed it sitting horizontally on its tracks, and sliced it sunk down into the bed by about 0.3mm to get a smooth face along the bottom run of the tracks for best adhesion on the print bed.

The results were OK, but the characteristic fluting on the bogies was lost — I'm using a 0.4mm nozzle, too large to render vertical details that small. I could probably suggest the detail with paint, but I thought I could probably get it to print if I went about it another way.

The next version's hull was split up fore and aft (see below) and printed standing vertically.

This gave me very good results on the upper hull, but resulted in multiple issue in the running gear. Unsupported wheels partially failed, and the grooves of the track detail created very weak strips that also failed.

So, more modifications.

I flattened out the underneath of the tracks to remove the weak indentations, and took the opportunity to add some track guides and studs to provide a bit more track detail to look at.

That fixed the issues with the tracks themselves, but there are still problems with wheel failures which I will need to address, All in all though, it's come together fairly successfully.

Chopping It Up

I use 3d Builder, which comes bundled with Windows 10, for this task.

The Split utility is found under the Edit menu, and is pretty intuitive to use. You can move and rotate the split plane manually, or enter precise values in the dialogue at the bottom of the screen.

Just remember to enable Keep Both or else when you confirm the split, it will delete one half or the other.

While the two halves are still in place, but separated, I added a couple of location holes, 2mm in diameter by 6mm deep.

I can use short lengths of 1.75mm filament in these holes to ensure accurate placement of the two halves when I come to glue them together.

Then I rotate each half so that it's standing up on the split plane, and go to Object > Settle to make sure they're both sitting flat on the print bed, and at the same level.

Then, last of all Save As... to a new filename. 3d Builder defaults to its own file format, .3dm, which is much better than .stl. Cura will open .3dm files, but they usually have to then be manually placed on the print bed, so purely out of laziness I usually save to .stl format in spite of the shortcomings of the file type.

This is how the new STL looks once it's in Cura for slicing.
And this is how it looks fresh off the printer.

Almost all that stringing is from support to support, rather than attached to the model itself, so there's very little cleanup necessary once the supports have been removed.

Incidentally, this is how I deal with the turrets of all my tanks and things for wargaming.

I glue a 6mm x 1mm rare earth magnet in the bottom of the turret plug, and a nail head in the floor of the turret hole in the hull. This allows the turret to rotate freely, while still being held securely. The magnet is strong enough that the whole model can be lifted by the turret, if need be.

I model sockets to accommodate the magnet and nail head in all my models. The socket in the hull has a central hole that goes right through, allowing the end of the nail head to just peep out for gluing.

I ensure that they're located accurately with respect to each other by first gluing the magnet in place, then sticking the nail head to that, and lowering the whole lot together into place in the turret socket. Then I push epoxy glue down into the hole through the hull from below, so that it grabs the shaft of the nail head without getting all over the turret plug itself.

And more...

Redesigned turret with hatch open

...and including a commander
I went a bit further and remixed Zac Kuvalich's turret to open the commander's hatch, and I added a bit of seam detail to the turret box as well.

I've printed a few of these, and it works just fine. I'll probably use some PSC tank commanders in them, or whatever I can find in my bits box.

I also designed a separate commander figure (right) but my FDM printer is unlikely to render any of that detail very well. It'll be nice to have around if I ever get a resin printer though.

Model Scale Comparison

All 3d printed, except for the 1/300 model which is from Heroics & Ros.
I've filled out a bit more of my range of scale comparison models to include one at 1/150 scale, which would be in the 12mm figure bracket  — that would cover about 1/120 to 1/160 scale, with the most common probably being 1/144. In truth, the Bishop probably wasn't the best vehicle to choose for something like this; I just sort of fell into it.

I'm pretty heavily committed to 1/100 (15mm) scale, and that's not very likely to change in the foreseeable future. I've got a whole bunch of 1/300 and 1/285 stuff as well, though I almost never use it these days.

If I was starting WWII wargaming again from scratch, I think I'd probably be going for 1/200. Big enough to see, small enough to store easily, and small enough to play satisfactory games on a relatively small table.

Dark Satanic Mill

I just finished printing and painting this factory by Paul Deeming, a freebie from his kickstarter.

The model is designed for 28mm; I've printed it scaled at 60% for 15mm.

The figures are plastic 15mm WWII Russians from PSC.

Voroshilovets For Everyone!

Everyone with a 3d printer, that is.

I've rebuilt my 15mm (1:100) Voroshilovets model for home printing, and uploaded it to

The canopy is a separate STL, and there are two versions of the tractor itself: one all in one piece, and the other with the tracks split off to ease printing in FDM. The split-up version includes a few other tweaks aimed at FDM printing as well, so if that's the sort of printer you have, that's the version I'd recommend you print. The one-piece model would be better suited to resin printers.

One-piece tractor

Multi-part tractor

203mm Tracked Howitzer

I finally got around to painting the Soviet B2 203mm tracked howitzer that I printed many months ago.

If I recall correctly, this is one of Bergman's 1/200 scale models, enlarged to 1/100 for 15mm games. I don't have any Soviet artillerymen suitable for heavy artillery, so I guess if I need a crew I'll just have to draft some normal infantry.

The Voroshilovets heavy tractor is a design of my own. It's available from my Shapeways shop, but I haven't yet got around to redesigning it and I've now redesigned it for home FDM printing; it's up at my shop. I'll probably add another version with the running gear separate, which should make it more straightforward to print.

Russian Bully-Boys

I'm printing Soviet T-28 medium tanks at the moment.

The left-most one is a resin and metal model from Battlefront, for comparison; the others are designed by M. Bergman, and printed by me in eSun PLA or PLA+, using a slightly modified FDG miniatures profile for the Ender 3.

The most recent print is the middle-right one, printed in plain old PLA. I dropped the temperature for that one right down to 190° — I've found that eSun PLA filaments seem to be happiest printing at much lower temperatures than those actually recommended by the manufacturer. Printing it this cool has given me much cleaner surfaces, and almost no stringing at all.

I'm intending these for the period of the Winter War, 1939-40ish, when the Soviet Union attempted to steamroller Finland and got their arses resoundingly handed to them until eventually numbers (and lack of support for the Finns) began to tell.

They should really be painted white, and I will do a couple like that, but leaving them in green isn't completely out of the question since the Russians went into Finland ridiculously unprepared. And having them green does make them more flexible in terms of their usefulness on the wargames table.

AD&D DM Screen — WiP

Page 1
 I'm very slowly making myself a new DM screen for AD&D, to replace the one I made about 35 years ago from photocopied bits of the DMG glued to bits of cardboard.

The page size is A4 (landscape), and so far I'm up to five panels. I probably don't want to go any higher than that, as it would tend to be wider than our gaming table.

The page order as shown here is only provisional, and there are a lot more bits and pieces I could include (and probably will).
Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

SdKfz 234 Variants

This is a German SdKfz 234/3 "Stummel", an eight-wheeled armoured car mounting a short-barrelled 75mm gun. It's handy having a vehicle that counts towards a force's scouting value, while also mounting a fairly hefty gun for blowing-things-up purposes. The model is 1:100 scale, for 15mm gaming.

The model is designed by Zachary Kavulich, printed by me at 0.1mm layer height in eSun PLA+ on my Ender 3.

The crewman is one of the passenger figures from PSC's SdKfz 251C pack, and he's not ideal; I have a real shortage of figures suitable for crewmen for this sort of vehicle. That's one of the reasons why I'd like to get myself a resin printer, so that I could design and print figures for this sort of purpose.

This one is the SdKfz 234/4. Rather than the low-velocity howitzer of the 234/3, this one mounts a 75mm PaK 40, an excellent German anti-tank gun capable of handling almost any Allied tank right up until the end of the war.

This model was designed by M. Bergman, and the crew figures are a couple of 15mm German artillerymen from Peter Pig.

Leaky Roof

This is one of the 3d printable buildings from Printable Scenery that I printed some time ago in 15mm scale, their French House-Shop.

I've taken the roof component and remixed it to show some damage, and I'll use this roof in exchange for the original undamaged roof piece, when I want to indicate an "unstable" building in our WWII Chain of Command games.

An "unstable" building may (or may not) collapse at the end of any given turn, potentially killing everyone still inside.

Hawker Hart

To make a change from tanks and trucks and things, I've put together this model of a Hawker Hart light bomber in Blender.

I started this quite some time ago, but I really didn't have a handle on how to deal with smoothly curved shapes in Blender. I'm a bit better at it now, so I've finished it off.

The Hawker Hart was the RAF's best and most effective light bomber of the 1930s, being substantially faster than any of the biplane fighters in service at the time (such as the Bristol Bulldog, for example). It was so good that a single-seater fighter was developed using pretty much the same airframe, the Hawker Fury, and the first biplane fighter to break the 200 mph barrier (223 mph (359 km/h) at 16,500 ft (5,000 m).

Neither the Hart nor the Fury made it into WWII except in a very small way.

I thought that I had been modelling the Hart in 1/144 scale, which is the scale I've been using for all of my other 15mm wargaming aircraft. However, it turns out that it's actually 1:100 scale, which is the scale I use for all my ground vehicles and guns.

I think there's probably enough leeway in the thickness of the various members that I can resize it without too many problems, but I might have to bulk up the struts a bit. We shall see.

This print is 1:100, and it printed OK. Not spectacularly well, but OK. I tilted it forward on its nose at about 45°, so the wing supports were clustered along the leading edges. Unfortunately they also wrapped around the wing struts a bit, and I broke a couple of them trying to remove the supports.

I might try splitting the aeroplane right down the middle and printing it in two pieces; that has worked well for me in the past with aircraft models.

The 1/100 scale model is available printed by Shapeways at for $US22.00 in their white nylon material, or $US25.00 in black.

If you have access to a 3d printer of your own, you can get the STLs at

Afrika Korps in 15mm — a beginning is made

Having made the decision to stick with 15mm for my Afrika Korps, I've had the 3d printer working overtime to get the core of the Korps...