Escalating Tensions Part 19 – Battledress Breakdown

I set myself the challenge of painting the whole box in a month and then, because that didn’t seem like a big enough challenge, I decided to also throw in a box of Plastic Soldier Company infantry support weapons that had equally been gathering dust.


I had had some good results with Contrast paints and noticed that Mark had recently painted some British troops using the range.  There isn’t an exact analogy to Vallejo’s English Uniform, my go to for Basttledress, in the Contrast range.  Instead a blend of two parts Plague Bearer Flesh and one-part Snakebite Leather is used to give a greenish brown colour.

Or at least that is the theory.

Labelling is important

I used an old baby medicine syringe to mix a half bottle of the mix, sufficient for even a large infantry company given the usage I had encountered with the Soviet airborne and set it aside.

Next I organised the figures into 4-man squads (leading to a nice pile of spares) and cleaned up the mould lines and the like with a file which was as mind-numbing a task as it always is.  Finally the teams were glued to tongue depressors to aid painting.


Undercoat and Contrast

As with the Soviet Infantry I went with a coat of Vallejo Surface Primer Grey via the airbrush to lay down a uniform light grey surface.  I left this dry overnight so that it was fully cured before the next stage.

I always find it useful to work skin out with Contrast so I applied a cost of Guilliman Flesh to the hands and faces, making sure to go right up to the cuff, neckline and brow of the helmet to ensure that no primer would be left showing and knowing that the later colours would tolerate a little overlap.

Next, I applied a single coat of the contrast “Battledress” mix, being careful with the flesh covered areas and the weapons but, knowing the helmets, webbing and gators would be painted with Vallejo paints, covering those areas as the dark colours would cover better over the Battledrress than the grey.  One thick coat and done, right?


This isn’t the colour I was expecting.

I put another coat on.  Maybe it just been too thin.


In desperation, I put a coat of Citadel Wash Agrax Earthshade on to act as a glazed and shift the colour to a brown shade and that kind of did the trick but it still wasn’t “English Uniform”

What I probably should have done at this point was call the experiment a loss and just switched to the tried and true, if slow, Vallejo method for painting Battledress that had served me well with my Paras.  Instead I doubled down and decided that maybe I just needed to get a squad fully done.  Maybe it would look fine then.


Ploughing on, I painted the woodwork of the rifles in Snakebite Leather, then the metalwork, helmets, boots and gators in Black Templar. 

Painting the helmets and gators black came about after the second squad because I found even the Battledress was a bit too light for Reflective Green to cover in a single coat.

At this point the Contrast went back on the rack and the Vallejo Model Colours (VMC) came out.  I gave the areas of webbing, slings, gaters and the helmets a base coat of VMC Reflective Green.  I then dry brushed the helmets VMC Russian Uniform.  I picked out the hessian strips with VMC Flat Earth, then layered half the strips with VMC Green Ochre.  Finally, I gave the helmets a light wash of Citadel Wash Nuln Oil and then drybrushed with Green Ochre.

With the helmets done, I layered VMC Green Grey onto the webbing, gaters and slings and then edge highlighted them with VMC Stone Grey. I noticed that I hadn’t painted the tool handles on the stowed entrenching tools or the full size ones stowed between body and backpack (British infantry should get a bonus to dig in!).  I picked the handles out in VMC German Camo Medium Brown, layered on VMC Flat Earth then applied a final highlight of VMC Tan Earth

Fine Detailing

These are all above and beyond details that can be skipped.

I added some extra highlights to the Contrast painted flesh areas by applying VMC Ivory to the cheeks, nose and the point of the cheek, plus the knuckles of the hands.  This just helps give some extra depth to the Contrast paint and helps the flesh areas pop a bit more.  I also added a wash of thinned VMC Luftwaffe Blue to the lower half of the face to give the impression of stubble.

I then added some extra highlights to the metal work of the rifles and tool heads, using VMC Sky Grey on the edges where the oil black would wear off.  Again, this just adds some extra definition to the contrast areas.

Finally, I painted on the sleeve flashes and divisional symbols.  All three battalions in the 159th, plus the Fusliers providing MMG support, had red shoulder flashes.  I painted this using flat red, applied in an arc at the top of the shoulder.  I would note that, having done this on all the figures, every photo I have seen since shows the divisional symbol present, but no shoulder flashes so, er, maybe skip that bit.

No Flash. Just Gordon.  I dunno.  That might be his name?

To represent the divisional symbol at this scale, I just painted a yellow square.

Support Weapons

The Mortars were painted much like the helmets, a base coat of Reflective Green, layer on Russian Uniform, then highlight with Green Grey.

The Vickers were painted black using Contrast Black Templar, highlighted with Sky Grey, then the canvas sleeve over the water jacket was painted like the webbing.  The Vickers used canvas belts so they were painted VMC Khaki with a Stone Grey highlight and the tips of the fully jacked rounds painted VMC Brass.  The ammo tin were painted VMC Olive Drab, layered with VMC Brown Violet and then an edge highlight of VMC Khaki.  This made them a bit too green so in future I’ll just edge highlight the Olive Drab with Green Brown or something similar.


I painted the small base each figure stands on Contrast Wyldwood, a nice dark brown.  This just ensured that there was no grey showing, unlike my hair these days!

I had a couple packs of the Battlefront rural bases that had, like most this British Army, been gathering dust on the shelf so I decided to break them out for this project.  In an attempt to make life easier, I sprayed the bases with Vallejo Surface Primer Green Brown, then thinned German Camo Medium Brown to spray that over.

In hindsight, I probably should have painted the basing accessories (fences and tree stumps) on sprue as it proved tricky to paint them on base.

Whilst the metal British Infantry had been packaged with recessed bases, the individual bases of each figure still required trimming to fit into the wells.  Once I had the figures and bases accessories in place I mixed up some Windsor and newton Medium Grain with VMC Chocolate Brown  and used this to merge the textured rural bases with the figures, filling any gaps.  I then layered on some thinned German Camo Medium Brown, followed by a dry brush of Tan Earth and then a very light dry brush of VMC Iraqi Sand.  The PSC support weapons were mounted on Warbases MDF bases but otherwise treated similarly.

I painted the tree stumps and fences VMC Black Brown, drybrushed Green Grey and Stone Grey to give a suitable brown/green bark.  The stones were painted Brown Violet, heavily drybrushed Green Grey and then Stone Grey to give a moss covered stone look.

Once everything was painted, I add some platoon marking on the front and rear face of the base, covered with a dab of gloss varnish, then a coat of matt varnish over the whole base, figures and all.  Finally I applied static grass and tufts for texture, plus some clump foliage to the tree stumps

With the basing done the end result of the experiment with contrast was… okay.  It was undeniably fast but the colour produced skewed too much to an orange brown rather than a green brown, even with an additional coat and a glaze of brown wash, for me to really be sold on it.  Going forward I’ll like paint the crews for the guns, carriers and M10 using my normal Vallejo paint technique.

Still, the figures, whilst not award-winning, are painted and sufficient for tabletop.  

Painted Miniatures

British Infantry Company, 159th (Welsh Border) Infantry Brigade, Normandy

Under a base of fire provided by the platoon’s Bren MG and 2″ mortar, riflemen advance and clear a French farmhouse
3″ Mortar from Battalion Support Company

2nd Independent Machine Gun Company, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers


Games were played for the second month running.  Its almost like we have this virus beat.


I played two games this month, both using my Germans and both versus LW US forces; one fielded by my friend Nathan and one by Breakthrough Assault’s own Duncan.  I’m currently penning and article looking at how my Germans performed so stay tuned.  I will say that both games were enjoyable but also bloody affairs.


With three full rifle platoons, 3” mortars and a MMG platoon that makes for a 39pt Rifle formation, plus a 9pt force support unit with the 4.2” mortar card.  It could do with some Carriers and 6pdrs but that is a pretty useful formation.  Combine that with the Churchills painted the month before and we get this as a 100pt force:

Its lacking in high end anti-tank and recce but can deal with Panzer IV and StuG well enough.  That said, I’ll need to prioritize my Carriers to get that sweet Spearhead goodness.

Talking of Carriers and high-end AT, I spent some time in front of the TV assembling up Stuart VI, M10C (both nicked from my US starter box) and Carriers ready for the next month.  I’m going to add some extra detailing to the Carrier internals to add in smoke projectors and wireless sets to the scouts, ammo boxes to the MMG and additional external stowage to all of them.  The M10C will get various bed rolls and day sacks added to the turret exterior, along with the burlap camo trialled on the Churchill.  Then they all get painted using the methods trialled on the Churchill.

“Do you smoke?” 
“No, I just own Revell poly cement.”

The aim is to move to this as a list:

The understrength rifles and the CS tanks in the Churchill HQ get dropped to fund a platoon of M10C, granting me some high-end AT and also improving the quantity of AT rounds heading down range at high speed.  the surplus points fund some Carriers for recce.  I did have a PIAT and a lucky card but Duncan was giving disproving looks for the latter so instead I went with “15th Scottish Division” who get a bonus to rally when a Churchill tank is nearby.

In terms of the 2021 goals, we can add 50 infantry/support weapon teams and 48pts to the year’s output.  That brings the running total to:
151 figures (52 AFV, 79 infantry/gun teams*, 14 helicopters and 6 fixed-wing aircraft)
302 pts – though we are continuing to mix LW WW2 with TY points!

*note, I have recalculated based on teams not individual figures, hence the shrink in numbers.