Over the last few blog posts, I’ve been documenting my progress with some of my WWII German scout vehicles and other elements for my Flames of War German army (plus other …projects). I’m envisioning my Germans as being a rag-tag assortment of scout infantry (Aufklärung), light vehicles, limited tanks and some artillery typical of German forces stationed for refit in Holland, circa autumn of 1944.
I started my German force around May or June of 2015, and it’s been a long slog this last year just trying to get a few units completed. To date, I only have the scout infantry completed–the Aufklarung platoons are done, but their half-track transports are not. Though this last year has mostly been a year of inaction, there’s been some progress: mostly just assembly, priming and base coating though.
The Sd.Kfz 231 (8-Rad)
It was after I discovered I was making headway with my newly-found slow, steady painting pace that the local Flames of War club, The REGIMENT, announced a painting contest for June, so I decided to see if I might be able to kick my speed up a notch and get a platoon of something painted up. I chose the platoon of six 8-Rad armoured cars.
Officially designated, Schwerer Panzerspähwagen Sd. Kfz. 231 (8-rad), they’re referred to as just “8-Rads” for ease of use in conversation or writing.
The Sd.Kfz. (Sonderkraftfahrzeug, special vehicle) 231 was large but very fast and highly versatile wheeled vehicle used by the German Army. The original 6 Rad (6 wheeled) versions were based on a 6×4 truck with an armoured body but, due to insufficiencies, were being replaced by the 8 Rad (8 wheeled) versions prior to the outbreak of the war. During their replacement, the Sd.Kfz. prefix numbers were carried directly over to the new models but with differentiation made by the adding 6-Rad or 8-Rad in the vehicle’s name.
The 8-Rad’s hexagonal turret was equipped with a 2cm auto cannon and a coaxial machine gun–both adept at chasing off infantry and unarmoured vehicles. Its armour was enough to withstand small-arms fire and shrapnel but not much else. Even after it was up-armoured with the front-mounted Stand-off angled armour plates, it was incapable of dealing with any kind of anti-tank rounds.
My 8-Rad Platoon
Rather than buy and paint up the bare minimum platoon size of just two vehicles, I decided to go for the full complement of six that are found in most army lists. I even added a seventh one: just in case I was going to field a pure scout-car army list, the seventh vehicle would serve as my army’s Commanding Officer. As mentioned in my previous posts, I base-coated my 8-Rads in my version of the standard German dark yellow (dunkelgelb) base coat that all German vehicles arrived to the front lines with and then added a brown wash for definition and shadows. My original plan to drybrush the highlights on was abandoned once I applied the ink wash: unfortunately I liked what the ink wash had done so much that I was scared of obliterating the nice shadows through indiscriminate drybrushing. So I opted for the more difficult path and meticulously painted on my highlights, being careful to preserve the wash’s built-up areas where I felt it suited my needs.
In the end, I applied four levels of highlights before doing a final edge highlight. I’m pretty sure a couple of those highlight levels were too close to be really noticeable, but I’m a huge believer (right or wrong) of depth of colour, that built-up layers of colour create vibrant miniatures and help those miniatures stand out in the crowd.
The dunkelgelb was the lion’s share of the work on these models; I easily spent hours on each individual vehicle to get the dark yellow to where I wanted it (each highlight layer took about thirty minutes to do on one vehicle). What surprised me was that the camouflage pattern took considerably less time to do than the initial dunkelgelb base, even though I was using my paint brushes to mimic the effect of sprayed-on paint.
The camouflage pattern I decided on was the standard German tri-colour camouflage pattern (dark yellow base with light brown and light green patches). Though I’ve seen many reference photos and colour plates showing German vehicles in Holland as having just the dark yellow accompanied by light green snaking lines, I still went with the tri-colour camo; it felt …right that the scouts would apply as much camo paint as they could.
I figured the real challenge was going to be doing the tri-colour camouflage and emulating the effect of the colours being airbrushed on. It turned out the solution was pretty simple: a stipple brush. I made my own stippling brush (by cutting off the tip of one of my well-used paint brushes –and by tip, I really mean that I cut two-thirds way up towards the ferule and handle!), and I applied the colours as ‘splotchy’ lines before going back with paint and solidifying the center areas of the stippled areas.
After that it was a couple quick steps doing the non-camouflaged details of the 8 wheels and the guns (it was been pointed out to me that, with its rate-of-fire of 200 rounds per minute, there’d be no way the 20mm cannon barrel would keep its paint on, the way the barrel would have likely heated up), and then I finished up by adding the German Balkenkreuz decals on each side of the 8-Rads (I decided to forego putting actual unit markings or license plates on them as these models will be used in a variety of different army lists….though I will be adding some kind of markings to show that the platoon of six vehicles is divided into three squadrons of two vehicles).
The Finished Models:
Moving Forward: Tuesday Painting Nights!
Part of the reason I went into more detail than usual with this painting update is because the store is going to be initiating a painting night during the summer! We’ve already been pushing the painting side of the hobby recently with the various painting seminars and workshops –and we have more coming up as well: Advanced Techniques with Golden Demon winner, Scott Smith on July 16 and Airbrushing Basics with Justin Clarke on August 20th!
Not only that, but part of our the support we’re giving for the Wargasm Event on the November 5-6 weekend will be rewarding players with both in-game and in-store benefits for starting and completing painting projects for the big battle.
Those are all the ‘official’ reasons. But really, a lot of this motivation stems out of the new momentum I’ve gained from painting my own figures.