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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Projekt DAK: Test Platoon: MG-34 HMG Platoon

by Matt Varnish

Hey guys, here again with the second installment of my Projekt:  DAK, my work to build up an Early War German Desert Army for Flames of War.  As I promised in the first installment, here are the steps from the ground up for my test models. I always do test models, and in this case opt for the DAK Machingun Platoon, which for Germans can be attached out to my Grenadiers/Schutzen to bolster their model count.  Since there are going to be a tonne of pics, I will let them do most of the talking, after the jump.

The famed MG-34 HMG, in the desert.

                    Pic I took at an airshow last year for reference (this is important for later!)

My initial batch of models, 4 MG-34's and some add-ons for Early War for my infantry platoons (Light Mortars, PbZ-41 AT gun).  As you can see, I am one of those guys who glues everything on and paints later, so I can get test games in if I don't get everything done.

Note, I have scored the base in a zigzag pattern with the hobby knife.  Important for the next step, doubly important if you find the old, flat Battlefront bases.  Nowadays they come with tiny grit, but I still zigzag to be sure.

I use a spackle filler for my bases, because you can kinda carve features in it if you want. I still like the look of this over the modeled bases that Battlefront makes. I have found that it can peel straight off the base, so the zigzag cuts help this stuff stick. This is DAP Dry-Dex dry time indicator spackle.   It is pink when wet, dries white.  If you can find this stuff, use it!

 MG-34 HMG platoon with spackle on, pic taken as soon as I was done.

Close-up you can see I have on purpose left these ridges. You can smooth them out if you want, or later carve them out when dry.  The sand I use is so thin that the ridges give the bases some shape, as we will see.

After finishing the other models that needed spackling, you can see the white on the edges of the HMG models, it dries pretty fast actually!

Same platoon one week later, where I have super glued some rocks, mixed with the old-style GW broken slate resin chunks, to the spackle. While GW doesn't make the chunks anymore Gale Force Nine makes some resin chunks here. They're a bit big though, so maybe hit up a model train store for some rocks.  
When this was dry, I painted watered down white glue on the base around the rocks and models, and dipped into my container of real Saharan sand that my brother got for me when he was down in the Middle East.

Oddly, the sand is so fine that if I use thick paint, it would obscure the detail.. so in 15mm scale technically I shouldn't even have any sand at all!
I will be using this Sahara basing scheme straight from the Battlefront website, and have lined up my colours accordingly in the pic above.  Not sure how the Brown Violet is going to work for the rocks though!

REALLY skeptical of the Brown Violet rocks at this stage, but I will power through! I had to check twice that I didn't get the colour wrong. Nope, he SAYS Brown Violet!

Reaper Uniform Brown = English Uniform from Vallejo, the local store was out of Vallejo English Uniform.

 Khaki Grey heavy drybrush, as per instructions.

Green Ochre in 2 layers of dry brushing. I didn't think this would matter, but it does, just go over the entire model again with a quick dry brush before you go on the next model. If you don't there doesn't seem to be enough yellow on the base.

Last step:  Buff on the base, Iraqi Sand on the rocks. I went back with a bit of white for the rocks, my only deviation from the instructions. So, the Brown Violet doesn't look so bad now after all!
Its at this point in time I realize that there is something fishy with my tripods. If you look at the reference pic I took from the WW2 re-enactors at the top of the article, you can see the tripod painted green with the 2 shoulder pad things facing front. I glued all mine BACKWARDS. Had I realized this at any step prior to the spackling I would change it, but its a little late now. Sigh.

Enough about that, lets get some paint on these guys!  I typically paint lighter colors than standard because I use a wash, and then pick out the details and highlight back up. So I deviate from the instructions in the back of the North Africa and Hellfire books for now because otherwise the wash step makes everything WAY dark.

First step:  Weapons and helmets, Vallejo Green Brown 879.   Infantry support guns and Mortars are the same color, here, I have done the MG-34 tripods in this color also.

Instead of Russian Uniform I used Field Grey. There was a wide variety of uniforms used by the DAK, and the faded look was prized by everyone, because then you "looked" like a veteran even if you were fresh off the ship, whereas the Russian Uniform colour looks "off the rack" so to speak.

I have to say at this stage that I REALLY hope Battlefront updates the painting guides in their books going forward. The ones found in the Hellfire and North Africa books are very simplified, but then you have the super-detailed ones in the Bridge-by-Bridge. PLEASE adopt the detailed ones for all new books guys!

Because I will be inking, I have highlighted the helmets in Buff 976.  I have a feeling if I follow the rudimentary instructions and leave them Green Brown, they will be too dark. Pics abound of real light colored helmets in the North Africa books, I like the one in the Pio section especially. Skin is also done real fast. Whats great about stopping at this step is that the unit is totally tabletop ready right now. I am one of those painters that can go back and work on models later. I realize some folks can't, however I do because I get distracted by new shinies such as.....

..such as assembling and base coating ALL THIS ARMOUR!   5 Pzr III N's, 7 Pzr IV D/F1's and 5 Pzr II's.  I have a game this week so instead of doing a wash and having one HMG platoon finished and nothing else, I have an HMG platoon tabletop ready and a playable army!  As you can tell, I have decided to go with the darker brown DAK vehicle colour scheme rather than the lighter one I had on my test Pzr. II from last article.

I couldn't resist building my 2 objectives, and command 8-Rad on the left, and 10.5cm Arty in the back. Fun Fact, those command 8-Rads with the giant wire antennas had Enigma machines in them!

There you have it, a platoon built up from start to tabletop ready. I have my first Early War game lined up vs Rob Kelly's British on Friday, so I am glad I got distracted by my order coming in early to assemble all that stuff. Next installment of Projekt: DAK I will go over the battle and how that all went, and will finish off the HMG platoon from 'TableTop' ready to 'Finished' state, so wash, highlights, all the equipment painted, the works.

UPDATE:  Finished the highlighting:

Catch you guys in a few weeks!

Matt Varnish, plays Flames of War up in Canada with the lads from  Surprisingly, I don't even have a Canadian army............ yet!

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