Green Red Horde

 

Quite some time ago, I designed a 1:100 scale model of the Soviet T27 tankette (based on the Carden-Loyd Mk.VI) and uploaded it to Shapeways. Unfortunately, Shapeways 3d printing is still pretty expensive, so though I did get a sample printed, I never went ahead with the numbers that would be required for these little cockroaches.

Of course, now that I have a resin printer of my own, all that has changed. I've printed 21 of them so far, which is enough for between four and seven platoons, depending on how much I want to pay for them in Battlegroup: Barbarossa (it's 25 points for a three-tankette platoon, and an extra 10 points for up to two more).

The thing is, they're pretty pointless on a Barbarossa-era battlefield. They're unreliable, their narrow tracks bog easily, the armour is minimal, and they're armed with just a single 7.62mm machine-gun. They'd been declared obsolete by about 1935, and though there were still some around by 1941 they were relegated to towing light anti-tank guns like the 37mm and 45mm.

They were more common in the Winter War of '39-40, but even then they weren't front-line vehicles, and they didn't deal at all well with the snow.

Still, I've got them now.

A Couple of New Old Models

 I've been gradually working my way through the models I originally designed for printing by Shapeways to make them more suitable for home printing on FDM machines. These are about the last of those old models, I think.


The Peerless armoured car, designed in 1919 to replace vehicles worn out in WW1 service. It was heavy, and its off-road performance was pretty poor, but it was tough and it saw quite a lot of service with the British army, and with other forces as well. It was used a lot in Ireland.

There were still some in British service at the beginning of WWII.

The STLs are available at https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/peerless-armoured-car/

Test print



The Soviet Komintern heavy tractor was based on the chassis and running gear of the extremely unsatisfactory interwar T-24 medium tank, which, among other failings, had a habit of spontaneously bursting into flames.

The Komintern was much more successful, and spawned a much-used lineage of similar vehicles that saw a great deal of service throughout WWII. It was primarily an artillery tractor, but was also used as a personnel carrier and as a recovery vehicle.

The STLs are available at https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/komintern-heavy-tractor-15mm/ and include models with or without the canvas tilt.

Delusions of Grandeur, Maybe

 

I was looking through the Battlegroup: Barbarossa book, to see what extra use I could get out of my Winter War Soviets.

A BT-7 company needs seventeen tanks. That's a lot of printing and painting, and I don't know if I can really be bothered. If I print two more, sans aerial, I'll have enough for two platoons.

Each tank takes a little under four hours to print, so theoretically I could produce six per day, but honestly that's a highly unlikely production rate. Two or three is more my speed, mainly because washing, clearing supports, and and curing is a real pain in the arse.

BT-7 remix (15mm)

 

I figured, since I'd already done a bunch of work on the hull for the BT-42, that I might as well re-use all that labour for a BT-7, also remixed from Zac Kuvalich's original work.

Apart from the extra track detail, the main improvement I've made to the hull is in the engine grill.

I don't know enough about Soviet and Finnish stuff to know just how similar the Finnish BT-42 was to its source vehicle, the BT-7. But ignorance, as they say, is bliss, and it will do well enough for me until I find out otherwise.


Next Day...

Right, so here's the first test print. Overall I'm not dissatisfied.

The only real issue was that I neglected to create locating lugs/sockets when I separated the running gear for ease of printing, and I glued the tracks on wonky. Then I broke them, trying to move them into the right position — it's not too apparent from this side, but the other side is a bit worse.

Never mind, I've adjusted the STLs and I've got another test print under way.

I've sprayed the model with Vallejo Soviet 4BO surface primer, and given it a gentle dry-brush with VMC Green Grey to delineate the surface detail. The transparent red resin I'm printing with at the moment is terrible to photograph, though it is admittedly quite pretty.


Later that day...

Test print number two complete, and all issues are dealt with.

The running gear components now fit into place easily and positively; no more guesswork.


Next day...

Naturally, errors were made.

It turns out that the squared cut-off track guards were just a Finnish thing, so I had to do a bit of juggling with another of Zac's files to get them back to the bulbous Soviet style.

I also had to re-do the tracks. The track links I modelled on the BT-42, though taken from a photograph of a surviving vehicle, are more appropriate for a BT-2 or BT-5. The links on a BT-7 were about 20% shorter. It's possible, even likely, that the surviving museum BT-42 was cobbled together from several vehicles, using the tracks from an older tank.

Several days later...


Print successful.

This is printed in a Frankenstein mixture of resins: the very last drops of transparent red left in the vat, the last dregs of some opaque tan resin, and some transparent green to take the vat level up to a safe depth. They're all the same type of water-washable resin though, and all from eSun, so they're perfectly intermixable.

The only issue is that the inert fillers in the opaque resin mean that you have to be very diligent about washing the print, and it's a good idea to blow off any water with compressed air before curing — I didn't do that this time, which is why I got that white crufty buildup in some of the seams. The transparent resins are much more forgiving in this respect, and in using them I've got a bit lazy.


Compare with this one, in exactly the same resin, that I blow-dried with my airbrush before curing.

You could use canned compressed air  I guess, if you don't have access to an airbrush; I have no idea what those cost as I've never used it for anything.

BT-42 (15mm)

 

I've done as much painting as I intend to on my 3d-printed 15mm BT-42.

I have no doubt it should have more markings than just the hakaristi on the turret sides — I've seen a photo of one with a fairly large serial number on the hull rear, for a start — but I don't think I'll bother with them unless and until it nags at me too much.




Next day...

Well, it nagged at me too much, as I might have guessed it would.

I gave it its serial number, and I also changed the national markings to the drop-highlight style.



WWII Finnish Colours

 

Vallejo Modelcolor recommendations from IPMS Finland
I've just printed a Finnish BT-42 SPG, for no particular reason except that I'm fond of tanks that look kind of dorky, and the BT-42 is one of the dorkiest of them all.

Fresh off the printer

I know very little about the Finns in WWII, especially in the Continuation War, but I do know that they adopted a three-colour camouflage scheme for their AFVs. It was a pretty standard group of colours — a sandy yellowish, a green, and a brown — but they were subtly different than the colours used by the Germans or Soviets.

IPMS Finland recommend these Vallejo colour mixes, and I'm willing to trust that they know what they're talking about.

They will certainly need to be lightened a tad for use on 1:100 scale vehicles, and I'll have to do that by eye. I'll use the mixes as shown as the base colours, and then highlight with tints of each, which should lighten the scheme overall. 


Several days later...

I've finally got on to doing the base coat on this model.

I was originally going to use blu-tak masks and airbrush it, but in the end it was less trouble just to brush-paint it. The finish is less even, but once the weathering goes on, and at tabletop distances, I doubt very much that it will be noticeable.

The markings are going to be a little bit problematic. I have no decals for the Finnish hakaristi (swastika), and no way of getting any very soon, so it's going to have to be paint. Getting nice clean, sharp lines and corners in this size will be a bit of a challenge.

OT-130 — The Paintening Concludes

 



The OT-130 was a flamethrower variant of the Soviet T-26B light tank.

Painting complete. The tank and infantryman are both 15mm (1:100 scale), and both were 3d printed on my Elegoo Mars Pro in eSun water-washable resin.

For a blow-by-blow work-in-progress post on the painting of this thing, go here.

OT-130 — the Paintening Proceeds

 

The time has come to start decorating my 15mm 3d printed OT-130 (or XT-130, or KhT-130). I was originally going to paint it in winter white, but as it turns out, the Soviets didn't feel the need to indulge in anything as cowardly or effeminate as camouflage when they decided to try to kick the shit out of the Finns, so generic Russian green it is.


Plain green is pretty boring, so I'm bashing the crap out of the paintwork. There's probably a lot more damage than would be very likely, but I think it helps to create a bit of an impression of how shoddy was the construction of these early T-26 variants. Apparently the armour plates were often so poorly fitted that the crew could see light leaking in around them, and bullet fragments finding their way in through the seams was a real danger.

This model is the first one that has presented me with the issue of uncured resin inside pooling and melting away at the shell — I clearly didn't wash out the turret as well as I had thought, and the turret peg was starting to come away from the body. I pulled it right off and hit the innards with a UV torch, and then superglued it back in place; that should take care of the problem this time.


I've now made a little snake-neck UV LED curing wand that is small enough to poke into a 4mm hole, so hopefully this will be adequate to ameliorating the issue in future.

The information I have from the internet suggests that a minute or two with this should cure the resin  left on the inside surfaces sufficiently. I don't know how long a 9v battery will last, running one of these LEDs. They're fairly expensive, compared with AA batteries, so if the lifetime is too short I may be better off spending a bit more on a 9v power supply and switch.



I've decided to try a new (to me) experimental method of painting the tracks. It's pretty straightforward.

1)   I painted the entire track run in a mid grey, in this case, VMC Medium Sea Grey. I think pretty much any grey would do, though if it's too dark you'd lose a bit of the colour variation the next step gives.

2)   Next, I gave it a couple of coats of fairly thin Vallejo Game Effects Dry Rust. I like the grainy texture this stuff leaves.

3)   Last, I gave the tracks a dry-brush of VMC Oily Steel. This catches the light and pops out the highlights a bit, while being quite neutral in tone so the brown of the Dry Rust still predominates.

It's not too different from my usual track-painting method, which is to start with a medium brown, splosh on a couple of washes, and dry-brush. I don't know that there's much to choose between them, though I do prefer the texture of the Dry Rust.



The next step is oil-washing. The wash in this case is just raw umber oil paint in white spirit — turpentine can be used, but I find white spirit evaporates faster, and is less likely to leave any oily residue. 

I prefer using an oil-based wash to an acrylic one, as I find it wicks along creases better, and it's more manageable — excess colour can be taken back off just with a clean brush, slightly moistened with white spirit. However, if I'm in a hurry I'll still use Citadel and/or Vallejo acrylic washes, as they dry quickly and I can race ahead to the next stage. A white spirit wash needs to sit for half an hour or an hour before proceeding, and leaving it to dry overnight is better, especially if you intend to do any more spirit-based pin-washes.

The white spirit evaporates long before the oil paint is dry, and  when the spirit is almost all gone, I can come back in with a brush and do a bit of streaking of the still-soft paint — you can see it very clearly on the glacis.



Paint chipping is my next stage. This is, no doubt, a familiar process to most AFV modellers these days. It's a weathering step that comes and goes in fashion; for a while it seemed like every AFV model represented a machine that had been forty years in the field without access to a paint shop, but people are being a bit more restrained nowadays.


I use a bit of torn foam to apply the "chips" in a semi-random fashion, and I like to glue the bit of foam to the end of a matchstick, to keep my sausage-fingers out of the way. You can do it in a much more controlled way by using a small pointed paintbrush, but that takes a long time and I'm generally too impatient.

My favourite colour for this is Vallejo Panzer Aces Dark Rust, but any dark brown will do. I've seen dark grey used as well, but I prefer brown to represent oxidized metal.

The key here is not to mash the paint-loaded foam hard against the model, or else you end up with big blotches of paint instead of small, discrete patches of chips.

The main focus is on the corners of the model, and areas of high wear, such as where the crew climb in and out of the machine.


After the chips have been applied, I take another step and add highlights to the edges of the chip patches with a light colour. This can be a tint of the vehicle's base paint colour, or a neutral light grey, or in this case I've used VMC German Camo Beige, which is the same colour I used for the initial dry-brushing to bring out the model's surface detail. This gives the chips a bit of three-dimensionality.

You don't have to hit every single speck and chip, but it's a good idea to get all the large areas, and it's best to confine the effect mostly to the lower edges of the chip area, where the broken paint edge would catch the light. I use a lot of thinner in my paint, and a very small pointed brush, but even so, in this small scale I find it very difficult to get an effect that is both subtle and visible.

You can also do this with a sponge, to get chips that have scratched the surface of the paint, but not penetrated right through to the bare metal. I've skipped that on this model.

Something else I haven't done on this model, but which can look good: go in on large areas of high-traffic chipping with a sharp HB pencil, and scribble into the brown-painted areas only. This will give them a metallic sheen, looking more like areas that are being constantly abraded. You don't need (or want) to entirely cover the brown with graphite; you just need enough there to give it a metallic glint.

As with any weathering technique, it's easy to go overboard with this.

T-26B Model 1933

 

To go along with the T-35s, T-28s, and the SMK for my Winter War Soviets, I need some smaller, more useful tanks. I have some Zvezda T-26s, but they're a much later model with a snazzy drop-forged turret — the same turret, I think, as was used on the BT-7.

Zvezda 1:100 scale T-26

So I fired up Blender and whipped up this very early version of the T-26, from 1933. It was of all-riveted construction, and the turret-basket was a little tacked-on affair.

By 1940 it had been superseded by newer models, with more welded construction and a turret with an integrated basket.

I discovered, after I was well into the process, that Bergman has already done a 1:100 scale model of this very tank. Oh well, not to worry.


The test-print went well enough, and the model is printable. There are a couple of areas of distortion, but those are due to inadequate supports, not the model's geometry.

I may add some clutter — some tools and the like — but for all intents and purposes, the model is done and I can move on to something else.

Next day:

I've added some tools to the track guards, and an old-style box-shaped jack to the engine deck.

I've had to guess at the size of the jack from pictures, but its dimensions are correct in ratio, so it should be fairly close I think.


Next Next Day

I've added a couple of versions of the later (much more common) turret with an integral turret-bin. In truth, this type of turret would be much more appropriate for my Winter War force.

From memory, I think only about one in ten tanks carried a radio, and troop control was carried out via signal flags. That ratio improved markedly later in WWII, but to begin with the Soviets lagged far behind pretty much every other belligerent nation in that respect.

As of writing, I haven't yet printed these turrets. I suspect that aerial will require quite a delicate touch with the supports.


And now they're printed as well.

Addendum


On the suggestion of Richard Humble, over at the Facebook 3d Printing For Historical Wargames page, I modified my T-26 model to make this flamethrower variant, the OT-130 (or XT-130, or KhT-130, depending on who you read).

It's a very straightforward conversion. There are a bunch of little details to be modified, but the only major structural change was moving the turret over from the port to the starboard side of the hull.

Coupladays later...

Coupladays later...

The test-print went well.

The STLs for the OT-130 are available online at https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/ot-130-xt-130-kht-130/

The T-26 STLs are at https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/t-26-model-1933-early/

Winter War Baddies

 

I bought this set of STLs for 3d printing 15mm Soviet infantry in the 1936-40 uniform, suitable for the Winter War period. They were designed by a guy who goes by the moniker "just some miniatures" on wargaming3d.com, and this particular set can be had at https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/soviet-winter-war-squad-15mm/

I've always been interested in the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union in 1939-40, because it was a real David vs. Goliath affair, and one in which Goliath ( the Soviets) got their arses royally kicked until their numbers, and international apathy and obstructionism about supporting the Finns, began to make a difference. The Soviets won in the end, after taking horrendous casualties.

My sympathies in that fight were unequivocally with the Finns, who were bullied by the Soviets and shafted by everyone else in Europe (except, as it happens, the Nazis, so it's not that surprising they ended up on their side later on). However, by fielding the Soviets, I get to play with the ridiculous T-35 and T-28 land dreadnoughts, and even the SMK in the Experimental Heavy Tank Company.

The colours of the Soviet uniforms at this period were slightly different to the more familiar post-1940 changes, and about half of the figures are wearing the budenovka, the pointed felt hat worn by the Russians ever since WW1 (and maybe before, I'm not 100% sure).

I've printed these guys on my Mars Pro of course, and I've glued them to 12.5mm (½") steel washers, both to provide some bottom-weight, and also so I can use them with magnetised sabot bases to ease moving the vast numbers of infantry I'll be needing.


Here's the first test paint, and overall I'm not too dissatisfied.

I'll keep experimenting with the colour of the greatcoat though: at the moment the base colour is Vallejo Stone Grey, which I think is a little bit too green.

GURPS 4e in physical form

NOTE: This review concerns only the physical manifestation of the rules; I make no judgement whatsoever here about the usefulness of the GURPS rules and system for roleplaying games.


The first half of my GURPS 4e order arrived today. 

I ordered the Characters volume from the Book Depository (it hasn't arrived yet) under the impression that I was getting the set of two books. Then I realised that I'd ordered only the one, so I ordered the Campaigns volume from Amazon, and it arrived on my doorstep this morning.

I think this edition is GURPS's first foray into signature-bound hardback publishing. I don't really care one way or another about hardcover/softcover books for roleplaying manuals. As long as the glue used for softcover perfect-binding is adequate to the task so that pages don't start falling out, that's fine by me, though signature binding is always going to be harder wearing if it's done even half-way competently. This appears at first sight to be well bound, but that's not something that is easy to determine until the book has been in use for a while.

As an aside, I recently bought a copy of WotC's 5e Tasha's Cauldron of Everything book, which is the worst of both worlds. It's really just a badly perfect-bound book stuck into hard covers, and the binding is really shit. Anyway. Back to GURPS 4e.

Let me say at the offset that I hate the paper. It's a very bright white, glossy stock. That's no doubt excellent for making the colour illustration pop, but it's hard on the eyes when reading dense blocks of text (of which there is a lot) and it feels kind of nasty to the fingers.


The illustration style is competent enough, though not particularly inspiring. It's in colour throughout, which is another new thing for GURPS. Again, it's not something that I require in a RPG manual; black & white illustration is fine by me as long as it is informative or evocative (or preferably both).

What is useful about the transition to all-colour publishing is that each chapter has its own full-bleed coloured page borders, which (once you get to know which colour refers to what) makes navigating the book much easier. The colours are easily visible even when the book is closed, so you can go straight to the relevant section with an absolute minimum of page-flipping.

I'm not enthralled with the serif typeface choices, but I have to admit that I've seen worse. The impression I get is one of "good enough" conservatism in layout design.

The glossary and index at the back of volume 2 Campaigns covers both volumes, and appears at first glance to be pretty comprehensive. Of course, only extended use will show that for sure.

In the end, what matters is whether or not this hardback full-colour glossy format is a genuine improvement over GURPS's old softcover black & white books. I'm not convinced that the advantages are significant, but I am aware that I am of an older gaming generation and that The Youth these days won't look twice at anything that isn't ALL THE COLOURS, so I guess from a commercial point of view, it's a necessary change.

AD&D2e (revised) P.o.D.

 

These arrived today for me from DriveThruRPG.

They're print-on-demand softcover copies of AD&D2e (revised), originally published in 1995. When I ordered these, there was no hardcover option offered. However, I don't mind softcover RPG books at all.

The paper stock used for the P.o.D. publication is a bit heavier than that used for the original hardcover printing, and as a result these are fairly hefty books. The print quality is very good; it's not identical to the original, but it's very very close.

The original books were signature bound, and open flatter than the perfect-bound softcover without cracking the spine — it won't take a huge amount of use before the softcovers start looking less than new, but if that matters to you... well, I guess you'd just have to buy two copies, one for use and the other to sit on the shelf looking fresh and unused. It matters to me not one jot.

How durable the glue binding is I don't know, these things are always a bit of a gamble. I have perfect-bound books that have lasted for decades, and others that started falling apart within weeks of purchase.

I've included a comparison image below: the original is on the left, the DriveThruRPG P.o.D. is on the right. As you can see, the text is very crisp and clear, and so are the many (mostly pretty mediocre) colour illustrations peppered throughout the volumes.



Stand for Paasche HO414

 


I thought I'd make a stand for this Paasche single-action external-mix airbrush. I seldom use it; it's very limited in its application, being little more than a spray-gun. However, external-mix brushes have the advantage of being able to move thicker paint than internal-mix types, so it's good for spraying varnish or PVA for terrain flocking and stuff like that. It's also good for covering large areas fairly quickly.

The stand is a Flintstones-ish sort of thing, and it's intended to be screwed to a piece of wood or something, though it would probably be adequately stable just on its own.

I actually spent a lot more time creating the digital model of the airbrush than the stand, a lot more time and effort than I really needed for what was really just a measuring maquette. I got a bit distracted though.


The STL is up on Thingiverse at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4819867

---.../\...---

And fourteen hours later (plus a couple because I slept in), here's the actual physical result.



Char B1(bis) conversion

 

One of the many conversions of French vehicles, this one was (I think) designated LeFH-18 auf GW B2. It was basically a 105mm howitzer in a hexagonal steel box on top of a Char B1 (bis) chassis, with a few other adjustments like the removal of the hull 75mm and improvements to the driver's sight.

I was going to add some crewmen to this 15mm 3d print, but there's just not room for them in the fighting compartment, so it can go without.

These conversions started out being painted overall panzergrau, then went to overall dunkelgelb. I don't know if there's any direct photographic evidence of them being painted in the three-colour scheme, but I think it likely, and besides, I like it better.

April 6th


I've made a start on another of the Char B1(bis) conversions, this time the Flammpanzer. Fortunately I've only made it as far as the base-coating though, since it looks like I'm going to have to repaint it in overall panzer grey.

The Vickers-Crossley armoured car to the right is on its way to the plain light grey livery that the Brits used for them during the inter-war era. It's too dark at the moment, but it will lighten substantially when I come back in with the airbrush and do a bit of panel-shading.






And here is the Flammpanzer in all its panzergrau glory.

Light Tank Mk.VII Tetrarch

 

The Light Tank Mk.VII, called "Tetrarch" from 1941, was intended by its manufacturer to replace their Mk.VIb and VIc, but its timing , and military conservatism, turned out to be against it.

It was in production by 1938, but before it could be built in numbers, WWII kicked off. The BEF went off to France with their Mk.VI light tanks, and lost them in droves. Partly as a result of this, and partly because the military thinkers decided that reconnaissance could be better handled by cheaper, faster scout cars meant that the army soured on the idea of light tanks and plans for the Tetrarch were scaled right back.

In the end, it stayed in service until 1949, but it saw only very limited action, and it was declared officially obsolete in 1944.

This is a 15mm (1:100) 3d print. I've painted it in Khaki Green #3 and Nobel's Dark Tarmac, which would put it at about the end of '41 or beginning of '42, just before the base colour for British armoured vehicles changed over to SCC2 brown.

3d Printing Miscellany

 

As happens quite a lot with me, my 3d printing is outstripping my painting.

This is the clutter on my modeling desk at the moment. Apart from the aircraft, everything is 15mm, and everything is 3d printed with the exception of some metal medieval crossbowmen, lurking down the back where they have been literally for years... I really should get them finished.


So, what do we have here?

  1. PaK38 50mm anti-tank gun
  2. leFH18-3 auf GW B2 — A German "beutepanzer" conversion of a French Char B2(bis) into a 150mm self-propelled gun
  3. Kettenkrad with Goliath on trailer
  4. Springer demolitions vehicle
  5. Tetrarch light tank
  6. Goliath
  7. Vickers-Crossley armoured car
  8. Seated WWII British infantry
  9. Albatros DVa (1/200)
  10. Sopwith triplane (1/200)
  11. Fokker Dr1 (1/200)
  12. Very chunky early WWII German infantryman (up-scaled from 6mm)
  13. Westland Whirlwind (1/144, failed print)
  14. SdKfz 251 C ambulance (semi-failed print)
  15. Rolls-Royce armoured car (old FDM print)