Escalating Tensions is becoming two things. Firstly it’s the original idea of being an escalation league to build up a 100pt Team Yankee force. But also I’m going to adopt it as a means of getting three 100pt forces done this year, namely:
- 100pt British Team Yankee Force
- 100pt Israeli Six Day War Force for Fate of a Nation (as opposed to my Yom Kippur Israeli force)
- 100pt US Late War Armoured Force for Flames of War
As with the TY force, the aim will be to build the army in three, one month chunks. No doubt, like the British force, the projects will over run, but hopefully not too much! This series then will track my monthly progress. In between I’ll be doing some non-Battlefront game pallet cleansers (mainly Titans…) but they’ll be covered elsewhere!
For the 50pt stage of the Team Yankee force, I thought I’d reflect the forward screen elements ahead of the main force that the 75pt stage onwards would reflect. As such, 11th Armoured Brigade only has a tangential appearance and the emphasis is instead on the “Donkey wallopers” of the Divisional Reconnaissance Regiment.
To reflect this, I have taken the Medium Recce Squadron as my force’s formation and taken almost every slot in the formation:
The Scorpions will do dual duty by being 3RTR’s recce troop later in the escalation league. The HQ Spartans will also have a base waiting for them to add the dismounted Blowpipe gunner so they can serve double duty alongside the two dedicated Blowpipe Spartans.
For the remainder of the points I take a troop of Chieftain Mk.9’s to reflect elements of 3RTR coming to the rescue as contact is made, along with an infantry platoon to reflect forward deployed elements of the Green Jackets. A pair of blowpipe teams round out the force to provide some anti-air coverage should anyone be cheeky and take some helicopters, whilst still having some anti-ground use.
The Chieftains, and usually the Blowpipes, will act as my 20+pt reserve in any missions that require it. The rest of the force will use guile, speed and cover to turn flanks and chip away at the enemy whilst the Strikers thin out the enemy ranks.
Those following us on Instagram (if not, click the link and follow us) will have seen my progress on the painting front. For those who aren’t (or who fancy some detail) lets take a look at what was achieved and how.
Stage 1 – assembly and detailing.
Assembling three Chieftains, four FV432 and no less than 16 CVR(T) of various types took a couple evenings but the kits go together fairly well. The Chieftains had an extra night as I did some extra detail work to:
- Remove the infil under the aerial block and add an extinguisher
- Remove the existing grenade launcher blobs and replace with spares from surplus Abrams bustles, plus firing lines.
- Add the flip up gunner sight cover
- Add extra stowage bins
- Add camo nets.
1 and 2 were fairly easy to accomplish. A sharp knife removed the infil (also opening a void that would be hidden by the extinguisher) and clippers removed the existing launchers. Both areas were then cleaned up with the edge of a sharp blade and some files.
I liberated the new smoke launchers from the surplus “short” bustles left over from building my Abrams. I simply clipped away most of the bustle and then cleaned up the remainder before gluing them to the turret in the now a vacated position. I warmed some sprue up with a lighter and extruded out a narrow thread which I glued to the turret to mimic the firing lines for the launcher. The thicker section, furthest from the heat, also proved useful to make a tube for the stowed extinguisher.
3 was also simple to accomplish, simply placing a rectangle of Plasticard on top of the sight block. The real sight cover pivots up and over the block so its a pretty good analogy.
Camo nets were often rolled up and placed on the front glacis plate, over the rear bustle, along the side bazooka skirts or sometimes draped over the front of the turret, keeping the sights clear. I used the guide here to accomplish the desired effect.
Honestly, the trickiest bit was 4, the extra stowage bins. I started by cutting the commander’s bin from the surplus Mk.10 turret. This looked good, but was way too big. Still, having cut it out I stuck with it for one tank.
A second tank gained some ammo tins welded to the racks as some photos show. The tins were from The Scene and, whilst not exactly what I was after in terms of looks, at least saved scratch building them.
I finally noticed that the additional stowage bins I was after were already present on the model on the rear hull plate. I used an instamould to take an impression of the bin and this seemed to work nicely. I also added the missing detail to the side of the commander’s bin, namely the latches and stiffening beams, all done using plasticard.
On the CVR(T), I add the occasional ammo tin or hull stowage bin, but mostly detailing was left to just camo netting. One thing I did do was add a stowage bin to the to missile pod of the Striker. This appears to be present on Strikers by the Gulf War, often accompanied by spare roadsheels and high-vis panels, and just consists of a wire mesh cage on top of the missile pod roof. To save trying to sculpt a mesh effect, I simply made a rectangular bin shape then added a green stuff tarp cover. It gives much the same effect!
Prep work done, it was on to the painting!
Stage 2 – Black and Green
British Tanks of the eighties were painted in an Infra-Red dampening “Bronze” green paint, then had black strips added by the crews to cover a third of the tank. The strips were painted to roughly match, but the paint was applied using brushes (or brooms), applied without templates and thinned using petrol such that the “black” could sometime be a dark grey (or would quickly fade to such) or a black green. The strips could vary from thick wrap around strips to thin “tiger” stripes (no doubt very popular with the crews. Tanks were often repainted, so schemes would vary over time.
I applied Vallejo “Bronze Green” surface primer, using an airbrush, to all the tanks.
Once this was dry I then applied a coat of Vallejo Model Colour (VMC)”Russian Uniform”, thinned to run through the airbrush. Once dry, I then drybrushed on VMC “Green Brown”.
Now for a new technique – blu tac masking! I applied the blue tac to the green areas and this really gave me headaches trying to visualise what I was doing. I was worried i was leaving too much covered but it came out well in the end though I was careless and ended up doing all three Chieftains in different camo schemes. On the CVR(T) I worked in stages to ensure they all matched (more or less).
Once masked, I used the airbrush to apply Vallejo Model Air (VMA) “Black Green”, ensuring that it got up to the edges of the mask.
The desk lighting makes the Black Green appear very green, but under normal room lighting its a much darker colour.
I finished off this stage by applying an edge highlight of VMC “London Grey” to the “black” areas.
Step 3 – Markings and Chipping
Most tanks will be sporting tactical markings. In the eighties this moved from being painted in the reverse colour (black on green, green on black) and switched to white over black. Turret sides sported a symbol to denote squadron, much like their WWII ancestors. 3RTRs seem to be white, like the recce regiments, presumably because it was the only tank regiment in its brigade (really a mechanised brigade rather than an armoured one). As this was B squadron, I used a rectangle. The rectangle itself was not whole, being four L shapes to denote its corners. The other symbols for the other squadrons were also broken up.
On the NBC pack, I painted a black square, followed by a white square inside that, followed by a number within that. The number builds up as follows:
First digit is squadron (A is 1, B is 2, etc)
Second digit is troop (first troop in the squadron is 1, second is 2, etc)
Finally, the Troop HQ would just have the two digits, the Troop sergeant would add an A to the end and the Troop Corporal would add a B.
So, the troop corporal of 3RTR’s 7th troop (i.e. B Sqdn’s 3rd troop) would be Two Three Bravo – my dad’s command!
This I hand painted, along with a rough impression of a registration number and a union flag on the front right mud guard.
With the markings done, I turned to making the tanks a bit more lived in. Team Yankee takes place in August so I expected most the tanks to have given a fresh coat of paint ahead of the summer’s wargames and thus, by August, there would be some wear showing, but the tanks would be far from rusting hulks!
As such, I limited myself, at this stage, to doing some mild chipping. I used VMC “Black Grey” and a ripped up blister pack sponge to apply chipping to access ways, stowage bins and leading edges. Doing it after doing the markings effectively ages them along with the tanks so the markings don’t look unnaturally untouched.
With the paintwork chipped up, it was time to get the tracks done. There was nothing fancy here, I simply painted them VMC “German Camo Medium Brown”. I then picked out the rubber track pads and road wheels in Black Grey. On the CVR(T) I skipped painting the track pads to see if it made a difference at the end of weathering. In my opinion, it made little difference so I may well skip painting track pads in future.
Once that was all done, I applied a coat of Citadel Nuln Oil Wash to add contrast and further dirty the tracks up.
Step 4 – Detailing
Now my favourite part of any painting project – detailing! The FV432, Chieftains and CVRT all have common features so I’ll go quickly over each type as they were all painted the same across the patforms.
British extinguishers of the period were green with a metal nozzle at one end, a circular end plate holding it in at the other end, and a canvas strap holding it to the bracket. I painted the extinguisher VMC “Reflective Green”, added a spot highlight of VMC “Russian Uniform” and picked out the ends in London Grey. I then added some white lines and squiggles for the text on the bottle. The strap was picked out (or added on some of the simpler extinguishers such as the one I added to the Chieftain turret) in VMC “Green Grey”.
I started off with a VMC “Bronze Green” base coat then applied a coat of VMC “German Field Grey”, leaving the Bronze Green in the recesses. I finally applied a highlight of VMC “Green Grey”.
On the CVR(T) rear hull stowage bins, the canvas cover is depicted as a flat, featureless plane so I painted on the creases that would develop from stretching a tarp taut over the surface, restrained the straps on the back edge. It’s probably the first time I’ve free hand painted missing detail, but I think pretty much works.
I did a mix of approaches on the tools. Some I left in the tank’s painted colours, but picked out the tool heads in Black Grey, fading to Sky Grey to represent paint being rubbed off of shovel heads.
On some tool handles I painted them in a wood effect to reflect a fresh tool added after the tanks was painted. For these, I painted the tool handle black, to add definition, then VMC “German Camo Medium Brown”, then VMS “Flat Earth”, followed by a small edge highlight of 50:50 VMC “Flat Earth” and VMC “Iraqi Sand”
Vision Blocks and Sights
Vision Blocks and the Gunner’s sight were first painted Black Grey. I then applied a rectangle of VMC “Luftwaffe Uniform” in the centre, leaving a small edge of Black Grey showing. I finally added a dot of VMC “Sky Grey” in the top right corner.
Spotlights and Headlights
The visible light… lights were painted much like I normally paint headlights. Mark a circle in black, make a slightly smaller one of black grey leaving a thin black line. Paint the lower half London Grey, paint a small arc of sky grey in the lower half and a dot of sky grey in the top right corner.
IR headlights/spot lights simply did the first two steps then added a edge highlight of London Grey.
Reflectors and brake lights on the rear body were painted Flat Red and indicators were painted yellow and given a chesnut wash to make them translucently orange.
Its simple but effective way of giving the tank that little more life.
I painted the FN MAG (or GPMG in local parlance) the same way I paint most small arms in Team Yankee. I first blocked out the weapon, including ammo can, in black. I then applied a layer of Black Grey to the plastic butt and pistol grip on the FV432 (the Chieftain and Spartan/Striker don’t have these). The ammo can received a coat of VMC “Olive Drab”, but leaving the top black, except for the very edge.
Next, I applied a harsh edge highlight of VMC “Sky Grey” to the metal edges of the GPMG, representing worn edges being more shiny than the black oiled surfaces. The plastic parts got a edge highlight of VMC “London Grey” (being less shiny than the metal parts) and the ammo cans received a highlight of VMC “Green Brown”. Finally I painted the ammo belt VMC “Brass”.
Cocked, locked and ready to rock!
I did these two ways and I think the second attempt, on the CVR(T) less strikers, was the best. In the first I applied the flock after painting the rest of the model whereas in the second I followed the method and applied the flock and sealed it with PVA before base coating the model.
One thing I should note is that on the Chieftain barrels I didn’t put greenstuff down first, but instead I wrapped around some scale appropriate “Camo net” to the barrel, then glued the flock on in dense splotches with small “stripes” on no flock between. I think this worked well for the barrels and gives a better impression of a camo net laid out in a single unrolled layer.
After completing the rest of the model, I applied a coat of VMC “Olive Drab” to the flocked camo netted areas and then applied a coat of Citadel “Nuln Oil” wash to add some depth. Once dry, I heavily drybrushed with “Olive Drab”, then a lighter drubrush of VMC “Green Brown”.
After the second stab at it, I’m quite happy with the outcome and this will be making an appearance on all the vehicles going forward (well, not the flying ones!)
Both the Scimitar/Scorpion and FV432 have long, exposed exhausts that run the length of the vehicle from the front mounted engine to the back of the vehicle and always seem to be a dark brown rust colour. The Chieftain has two shorter exhausts on the rear that seem to vary from the same dark brown to black (presumably from burning oil!). I painted all the exhausts VMC “German Camo Medium Brown” then dappled on “Flat Earth” and “German Camo Pale Brown”.
Step 5 – Lining and Weathering
With all the detail work done, it was time to hide it all under a layer of dirt and grime! If I’ve painted them seperately, the tracks join the rest of the model at this point.
The first part of the process is a coat of gloss varnish. If I really wanted to take this seriously then I’d use an enamel varnish but convenience wins out, so I just use acrylic, generally Vallejo Gloss via the airbrush. Once dry, I then use Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” to pin wash panel lines and detail, also liberally applying it to mesh areas, the engine deck and the lower half of the model. I use the gloss version of Nuln Oil for this as I find it flows betters, helps the next stage flow better, and it also dries black rather than a chalkier grey. The model then gets put aside to thoroughly dry.
Next, I take a blob of VMC “Tan Earth” and water it down to the consistency slightly thicker than that of an ink wash. This gets applied liberally to the tracks and lower body (though, annoyingly, looking at the photos now I somehow missed the bazooka skirts on the chieftain!), then applied as a somewhat liberal pin wash anywhere dirt or muddy water would build up or pool on the tank. This gives the effect of ingrained dirt building up over the course of maneuverers in the field after being deployed. I also apply patches anywhere muddy boots would contact the tanks, generally near hatches.
Once dry, the model gets covered in a coats of Vallejo matt varnish. I then get a big drybrush and apply VMC “Iraqi Sand” lightly to the top surfaces of the tank for settled dust and, slightly heavier, to the tracks and lower surfaces – especially the rear hull – moving the brush from the bottom to the top of the tank, giving the effect of dust thrown up from the tracks.
And that’s it! All done and ready for the table. I need to add unbuttoned crew and aerials (and pintle MG for the Chieftains) but its good enough to make its battlefield debut.
In next month’s article I’ll be covering the infantry platoon (which just missed the February cut off) and the next batch of chieftains. It should be a shorter article given I largely covered all the technique in this article! Hopefully you enjoyed this article and will join me for the rest of the year as I try to reduce my pile of shame!
The Finished Units
FV432 APC – Green Jackets
FV102 Striker ATGW Carrier
Chieftain Mk.9, 3RTR, B Sqdn, 8th Troop