…Do As The Romans Do

Hi everyone!
It’s James again and this is the second blog post I’ve
written about my first Flames of War Company, which as you found out in the first blog, is an Eastern Front Battaglione Alpini.
In the first blog I wrote about why I chose this army, so
when I thought about what to write for the second blog, the first thing that
came to mind was to write about the Italian national rules and how I’d use them
in my opening games… 
The Unknown Hero, jacket off, shirt unbuttoned and sleeves
rolled up 
ready for action!

Seeing as Ben and I have my first proper game booked and
he’s also the person I’m submitting blogs to for editing and posting, I think
I’ll keep my tactics and ideas quiet for a few more weeks so that I might still
provide the odd challenge as his Soviets roll over the poor Italians!

So this blog will be about the collecting, modelling and
painting of my first units and an Italian tactics blog will appear soon after
along with a battle report.
The latest unit finished: 100/17 Howitzer Platoon
As a keen gamer, the first thing I did once I’d made up my
mind to collect a Flames of War army was read and re-read Eastern Front and to
purchase the company organisation charts for this book on Easy Army. This led
to hours of clicking, sums, researching paint schemes and gazing at models and
articles on Battlefront’s website before I eventually made my first order!
One of the many lists
Seeing as I’ve started many a project in the past by
ordering the whole army in one go and then failing to paint it, I ordered
enough for my first Combat Platoon and HQ and made a promise to paint
everything I bought before I bought the next section of the army… Something
I’ve actually stuck to over the last year, which is why the collection has
taken so long to assemble and why it’s all painted! When looking at the combat
platoons though, I noticed that each Platoon of Alpini comes with nine Rifle or
Rifle/MG teams I have had to cobble together an extra stand from extra
command teams for each of the three platoons I’ve painted so far.
My first finished platoon and Company HQ.
Once the models arrived through the post I set about
cleaning them up and getting them ready for assembly but also got out the modelling
putty to sculpt the feathers and bosses for their helmets. This seemed daunting
at first, and it does add an extra hour or so to the construction of every
platoon but it’s worth it to properly customize the models and make them
The Boss
I followed the guide on the Battlefront website for the feathers,
first applying a tiny dot for the boss before adding a tiny sausage shaped bit
of putty for the feather and using a sculpting tool to shape the boss and the
sharp edge on the tool to cut lines into the feather to define it. It’s
important to keep your fingers, the tools and the putty wet whilst you do this
otherwise the modelling putty will stick to anything except the helmet of the
model you’re converting!
The feather putty added
The feathers I’ve sculpted are slightly larger than those in
the guide. At first this was due to my skill level, but after a lot of practice
I found that whilst I could reduce the size of the feathers, I preferred them
slightly bigger than they should be so that they actually stand out and can be
The feather and boss sculpted
Next I turned to basing and have tried several different
types of air drying putties, fillers and such instead of sands or grits because
the stands I had available were flat and I wanted to blend each figures base
into the stand properly. This, indirectly, is also why I based my light tanks
and self-propelled guns. I didn’t want my infantry to tower over the vehicles
so gave them a few extra millimetres of height. By using modelling clay for
these bases and an unpainted vehicle hull I was able to leave track marks on
the base, making the tank look as if it was advancing.

Once this was done, I undercoated the models
with a good undercoat black spray and prepared for painting. After some
research into the variation and colour of the Alpini’s kit during the war I
settled on a colour scheme similar to the picture below but adapted it slightly
to make the models and details
stand out and to make sure that I could use the paints I owned could be used.

Picture copied from: www.comandosupremo.com

When the Italians created the 8th Italian Army on
the Eastern Front they didn’t send many tanks with their infantry and at some
of the tanks they did send were still in desert colours! These tanks didn’t
really blend in to the Russian Steppe and so Italian tank crews slathered their
tanks in mud to help them blend in as they advanced to the River Don.  To represent this, I painted all the tanks I
have in desert colours and then used textured paint to apply patches of mud to
the model before dry brushing this to add a bit of depth!

L6/40 tanks on the advance, armour plates covered in mud!

next time, hopefully after a few games (if you’re in the Bournemouth or
Southampton area, message me and we can organize a game if you’d like) I’ll
write about tactics, Italian rules and force organisation… but instead of the
very useful analogy of a making a good stew

… It’ll be: Making a Good Calzone!

Avanti Savoia!

Happy war gaming everyone!

James McMeiken

Category: Flames of WarItaliansMid WarPainting


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Article by: Mark Goddard