Lee continues his preparations for DAK! DAK Goes Forth! The mid-war “Afrika” tournament in Brighton UK on February 19th/20th. See the end of the article for details.
In the first part, I outlined my plans for my 100pt “Gazala-themed” Arikakorps Panzer force. Now it was time to start painting it.
My original DAK force was themed around 21st Panzer Divisions but later reading had shown that 15th Panzer seemed to run into 3RTR (my British force) more often so I decided to switch divisions with the new force.
One of the neat parts of the Afrikakorps book (and happily still present in the new compilation) was that it has a divisional diagram that shows the turret numbers used by each company of panzerregiment 8. The tanks in the regiment were unusual in only displaying one red number or letter on the turret sides rather than the more typical three digit number.
The DAK used three main schemes during the desert war; an improvised on of mud-paste over panzer grey for the initial rush of Operation Bale-Mussolini-out-of-another-screw-up, a factory/depot applied Green Brown scheme that covers 1941 and 1942, then a final scheme of Desert Sand, sometime with camo banding applied. My original DAK force was a mix of the first and last scheme, with stuff that would work for early war in the improvised scheme and El_Alamein stuff like the PzIIIL and IVF2 in the late scheme. That was fine but made for an incoherent look to the force.
I decided that I would use the middle scheme as the force composition was mostly correct for it (though the Marders would likely have been the later one) and there wasn’t a huge difference by the time the dust was applied!
The 88mm had been assembled many moons ago and are the older metal blister version. the advantage of this is that they come with the wheeled carriages which are placed at each end of the main strut, allowing the 88 to be modelled on the carriage. The FlaK 36 carriage was designed to be able to withstand the forces of firing, allowing the guns to be fired quickly after being unhitched from the tow. This could be accomplished with the fold down arms either up or down, but the arms could generally not reach the ground and the carriage could only fired over a very limited arc of fire to prevent the gun from tipping over.
The only work required was to drill and pin the crew working on the carriage so that they would remain in place over the course of a weekend of gaming. I left the carriage and gun as separate parts to make it easier to paint and break apart to go in case, but fitted a long pin to aid fitting the two bits with some stability during a game.
The 88 were mounted to an oversized base, made from gluing a medium base to a large base. It used to be in v2 and 3 that you could model the 88 with extra crew to increase the RoF to 3 and the crew were typically on a separate base. As the cost was generally quite low, you generally always took the extra crew so modelling the two bases together was relatively common. It does make the gun easier to target with artillery but it allows the carriage to be fitted so rule of cool wins out.
The Marders were fairly easy to assemble. The only issue encountered was that the detailing on the starboard hull plate (the tanks original superstructure) clashed with a box on the track unit and required the shovel head to be shaved flat to fit. I left the “turret” as a separate part so that it made it easier to paint the parts of the hull that would otherwise be hidden. The crew were also painted separately and fitted at the end.
Of special note for the Marder was the crew. You get a good mix of seated, standing and crouching crew to service the gun but I did think this one (which I did use for the command vehicle) may be an ancestor of Robocop’s Dick Jones.
I decided I wanted a “quick win” to get the project going so I painted up the PzII first. I had originally built these for an early war army that never got going (they were in a mixed platoon with Panzer Is) so they were ready to go, though in my haste I forgot to pile stowage on!
Just as I was spinning the project up, Duncan “two coats” Rhodes of ex-GW fame put out a painting guide for doing DAK Panzers in a scheme mostly similar to the Green Brown scheme I had planned.
Whilst initially sceptical of using the relatively thick Contrast paints as a wash, I decided to give it a go on the Panzer II, but using Vallejo Model Colour Green Brown and Stone Grey in place on Zandri Dust and Ushabati Bone.
I started off with a couple coast of Vallejo Green Brown Surface Primer. Once that was dry, I applied Citadel Contrast Skeleton Horde over the model, aiming to avoid going over areas where the Contrast paint was already applied to avoid the creation of streaks.
Once dry (I left it overnight), I then did two reasonably heavy drybrush coats of VMC Green Brown followed by a lighter drybrush of Stone Grey.
I then painted the tracks and exhaust in Contrast Gore-Grunta Fur, as per the video, which is now going to be my go-to way of doing German red-oxide treated parts.
I belatedly realised that I didn’t have any red decals that would work for the “I” so I painted it by hand with VMC Flat Red, along with the 8th Pz Regiment symbol (on the turret rear). I then painted the
15th Pz Division (on the hull and turret side) and as well as a DAK palm tree, both in VMC Ivory (note, the colour of the 15th Pz symbol seems to vary between red and white between tanks and source books). I hand painted the Balkenkruez by painting a broad Ivory cross, then a narrower VMC Black cross inside of it.
With the markings done, I then added some weathering in the form of paint chips (desert sand is abrasive and wears the paint quickly) by using a blister pack sponge to dab on VMC Black Brown.
I picked out the road wheels in VMC Black Grey and the MG and Autocannon barrels and tool heads in German Grey with a Sky Grey edge highlight. The tracks got a drybrush of London Grey to represent the metal being exposed by rocks and sand. I then gave the barrels a wash of Citadel Nuln Oil and the lower hulls and tracks a wash of Citadel Agrax Earthshade.
Tool handles and the tool box/first aid kit were blocked out in VMC German Camo Medium Brown, followed by layering on Flat Earth and an edge highlight of Tan-Earth.
I then gave the model a drybrush of VMC Iraqi Sand, dry brushing from bottom to top on the hull, heavier at the back of the tank and a light drybrush on the top surfaces of the turret and upper hull. Vallejo Mecha Matt varnish sealed the model.
The 88 and Marder were painted using the same techniques.
The German tropical uniform is a bit of a headache. Freshly issued its a surprisingly lurid shade of green, wholly unsuitable for a desert. Fortuitously for those who had to wear it, it did at least fade rapidly in the sun to a more dust like colour.
I decided to paint the majority of the Marder and 88 crews, the latter of which should likely be in the yellower Luftwaffe tropical uniform but I decided to ignore that for now, in faded tropical uniforms, with a few fresher uniforms (for replacements) mixed in.
All the infantry started with a base coat of VMC Russian Uniform. I found this worked as a base both for the faded uniform and the fresh ones.
The faded uniforms then had VMC Khaki layered on, leaving the Russian Uniform in the recesses, followed by highlights of Stone Grey. The non-faded uniforms had VMC Yellow Green applied, followed by highlights of VMC Middlestone.
Helmets were painted like the tanks, boots were just German Camo Medium Brown. Webbing, if present, was Green Grey followed by Stone Grey.
The shells were painted as anti-tanks rounds. This was done by painting the whole thing VMC Brass, then painting the shell itself Black and adding a little squiggle of Flat Red for the shell markings.
Panzer II – “I” Battalion HQ, 8th Panzer Regiment, 15th Panzer Division
Flak 36 “88” anti-tank/anti-aircraft gun
SdKfz139 Marder III (7.62) – 33rd Anti-Tank Regiment, 15th Panzer Division
That wasn’t a bad start to the project, with a quarter (by points) of the force painted in a month. With the infantry just needing a tidy up and a 2.8cm squeeze bore painted all I need to do in January is paint 12 tanks!
I made a start on finishing off the assembly of the Panzer III and IV models. I had already partly assembled the PzIV models a while ago and just needed to fit the tracks, cupolas and gun barrels. The PzIII were not as far along the production line but I got those all built but left the guns off so I could paint both short and long 5cm barrels.
I need to add stowage but I’m confident that I’ll have all this done by the end of January!
Let’s see if that holds true…