With my infantry progressing towards completion this month I’ve turned my attention to getting my support units organised. I decided I would tackle what I felt would possibly be the most challenging unit to assemble and paint first.
The Sturmi was a Finnish conversion of the iconic Sturmgeschultz III aka the StuG. I like a flat panzer as much as the rest of the Breakthrough Assault crew… well, maybe not quite as much as Eddie!
I thought these might be a bit of a challenge for my average painting skills. To help me on my odyssey with the Finns, Battlefront had very kindly sent me a box of Late War StuG models and a set of the new Sturmi upgrade kits (FI) with the side logs, rear stowage box and concrete cladding for the front of the fighting compartment.
My first decision was which delivery batch to make these from.
Whilst the Finns received a relatively small number of StuG’s, just 30, they came in a number of different configurations of hull, fighting compartment and gun mounting depending on where they were manufactured and when. A great resource on the history of these is available from Andreas Larka .
In the end I decided on the early model hull and box mantlet of the first 1943 delivery and they would have as many of the key upgrades as I could manage to model. This presented me a bit of a challenge as, on the early engine deck, the large stowage box part in the upgrade kit doesn’t sit flat but, as the new parts are plastic, these are easy to adjust to fit if you want them to sit flat. I did this as I visually didn’t like the wobbly box look. The cement for the front was an easy fit but the logs on the sides need a bit of work to fit. You need to remove the Shutzen supports on the fighting compartment so they sit flush against the side. The right hand logs are moulded to fit over the jack which is a nice touch and reduces the amount of the model you need to cut away. I did manage to break one whilst doing this! The only external change I didn’t manage was to change the MG from a German one to a Soviet DT tank MG – I didn’t have a suitable model part in 1:100 scale.
I chose to build the lower hull and track assembly as a separate sub assembly from the superstructure (you could magnetise this and use both upper structures for an unconverted later delivery Sturmi) this allowed me to paint the tracks before I completed the assembly. I used the German track painting method from Colours of War for these.
I started with a spray of GW Zandari Dust as a coloured primer.
The primer was then over painted in the moss green (VMC890) and tan (VMC874) colours covering the whole model in roughly a 50/50 ratio.
The Finns painted their classic three colour camo pattern over the original German paint work and this allowed me to keep the camo paint a little thin in places and for the original duklegelb to show through a bit, particularly around areas of wear and on the road wheels.
I then added the lighter sandy colour (VMC884) over and across some of the junctions of the green/tan, the light coloured area should be no more than 50% of the width of the darker areas. There was no set pattern that was used so you can vary the way this looks across the models to suit your painting skill and preference.
I found, with the stowage boxes and the logs, it was quite tricky to keep the edges nice and clean on the rear deck. My advice here is take your time, use thinned paint and don’t rush.
Once this was all done and dried I picked out the tyres, return rollers, muzzle break and MG in panzer grey, the logs and remaining wooden parts were painted in chocolate brown (VMC872) and given an highlight of beige brown (VMC875).
By this point I had the basic StuG finished and added the Finnish tank marking to the front armour plate and top of the gun mantlet. I also added an additional one to my HQ tank machine gun mantlet to make it easy to spot on the table top.
The next stage was to give the tanks a wash all over to tie all the colours together and add some shadows. After a few trials on left over parts of all the colour washes I had, I went with a custom colour wash comprising a 50/50 parts mix of Nuln Oil and Aggrax Earthshade suggested by Adam Brooker (of Dice of War) to which I added four parts gloss varnish (a Tim Harris suggestion) and four parts flow improver as I use acryllic varnish and its a bit too sticky. The overall result was a cool dark brown wash which added depth to the green and brown base colours but had less affect on the stone grey, which stayed light, which was what I was aiming for.
The final stage was to add some highlighting to the logs with a very very light drybrush of green grey (VMC866), the MG barrel got a highlight of medium sea grey (VMC870), then a quick coat of matt spay varnish and they were table top ready.
So there you have my journey on getting my Sturmi unit finished I hope its been of interest – #ontoTheFinnish – Martin