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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bolt Action: How to Collect and Paint Early War Fallschirmjager Part 2

Hey Bolt Action Community! Hopefully you've had a chance to check out the first part of this discussion, all about how to pull together the best models on the market for your Early War Fallschirmjager (found HERE). Hopefully, too, you've had your interest piqued and did a little research on Eben Emael and Operation Sea Lion and you're really pumped about early war games! In this article I'll walk you through my method for painting Fallschirmjager appropriate for the early days of World War 2, right up to and including Operation Mercury when the Splittermuster pattern was introduced. The green grey smocks found use right up until the end, and indeed there are a good number of photographs from the fighting in Normandy, 1944 where the Green Devils were still using them. You could easily mix these into a late war force for a bit of variation, too.

My biggest challenge when I first started this project was finding the right color for the jump smock. It's a greyish-greenish color that makes it all too easy to go too green or too grey. Luckily, Vallejo comes through and has a color that is exactly perfect, namely 70.886 Green Grey. As we'll see later on there are certainly other options which also look good, but for my money it is this color. A word of caution: there are some Vallejo colors with VERY SIMILAR names. I strongly suggest you take a picture of the bottle with you, or jot the name and number down before going into your store so you don't end up with other colors, similar in name but not at all the proper colors. Not. At. All.

For these fellows, I decided to prime white because I want their colors to 'pop' a little. Over the years I've used GW's white primer, but began having many issues with it getting "fuzzy" so stopped using it. If it works for you, go for it. More recently, I've been really keen on Tamiya's primers. They're an extra-fine spray so do a good job of coating lightly, while getting into the recesses. This primer is a little more on the expensive side, but well worth the expenditure in my opinion. For other armies, I use an ultra-flat black primer by Krylon, but haven't used their white yet. Again, whatever works for you!

The first color I actually paint on is the skin tone, and this mainly because I want to be able to get it into the recesses such as at the back of the neck. Any skin tone will do. In this instance I seem to have grabbed GW Elf Flesh. As a  note, on more recent projects I will have painted eyes at this point but when I started these guys I was not yet comfortable doing them so I will carry that through with the rest of the force for consistency.

The next color I do is the trousers. A dark gray will work, and allow you to highlight up. I myself have decided to used Vallejo's German Fieldgray because I like the greenish tint to it, especially when next to the color of the smock.

Next up is the magical 70.886 Green Grey for the smock. At this point, I'm already getting excited because they're faintly starting to look like Fallschirmjager.

After doing the smock, I go for all the black bits. I use Vallejo black, and have used GW black in the past (though switched to Vallejo on account of GW pots always drying out before I ever got to the bottom!). With black, we'll do several bits. The Y-Strap, the belt, the entrenching tool cover, the boots, the canteen strap, the chin strap for the helmet, the belt pouch for the LMG gunner, and any pistol holsters will be black. The helmet, eventually, will be black as well, but I always do the helmet last because I have a tendency to rub off the paint while holding them.

Now, the bread bag. With other Germans, I use a Vallejo German Camo Beige, but the Luftwaffe used a blue color for theirs. For this, you've got some free reign to choose a blue you like. I take the opportunity to add a little color and use GW Mordian Blue as it's both a deep blue, yet with a less subdued shading to pop a bit. I have also used this color as the base for models without their trademark jump smock, to work as the blue of the Luftwaffe field tunic. In this case, I feel the blue is maybe a little too much for such a large area but it works for the bread bag at least.

Next up are the trademark ammo bandoliers! These, I do using another Vallejo color called Grey Green. Yep, Grey Green as opposed to Green Grey like we used for the smock. Now you understand my warning about color names, right? Luckily this color is a nice dark grey that works perfectly as a base for the ammo bandoliers!

Next up, the rifles! This part is a little tricky, because parts of the rifle will be deep down inside the sculpt so this is one of those stages where I tend to get paint on other parts unintentionally. I may try doing this earlier in the process on my next squad. Anyway, for the base of the rifle stock I use GW Dark Flesh (though I think they changed names on this one). It's a dark brown with a faint reddish tint to it, but we'll highlight it up later with something closer to the brown we envision when we think of a Kar 98k. We'll also use this for the stock on the MG34 and any pistol handles. For SMG's and LMG's  we'll use GW Leadbelcher. I also use this color for the metal bits of the rifle, including the ring around the forestock. Belt buckles get this color, as do the rings at the joining of the Y-Strap on their back, exposed blades of the entrenching tool, and the heads and handle bases of any stick grenades. You can use other metallic colors, too. I choose this one because it isn't as shiny as some metallics tend to get.

For the gas mask can, I use GW Charradon Granite. It's a sort of darkish grey, with a hint of brown and green to it. This color also gets used for the cup on top of their canteen. Other colors will work for this too, so if you don't have that specific color, you can look up the color options online and likely use something you already have. I think, too, that GW re-formulated that paint when they renamed it so try a test model, perhaps, to see how you like the result.

Next up is GW Vermin Brown, which I use for the canteen. Many shades of brown will work for this so if you don't have this specific color you can substitute easily.

Finally, the handles of the entrenching tool and stick grenades get GW Bubonic Brown.

At this point, we've finished up the majority of the color blocking so it's time to dive in with washes. I used GW Seraphim Sepia or Agrax Earthshade on the flesh, depending on how defined the detail is and how dark an undertone you want. I also use Agrax Earthshade on the rifles and gun stocks, the canteen, the stick grenade handles, and entrenching tool handles. I use Nuln Oil on the smock, the straps/pouches/holsters/boots, the trousers, and the metal bits of the rifles, pistols and SMG's. For the LMG, I use a positively ancient pot of GW Black Ink. This is much more potent than a wash, but also works great for a 'blackened metal' effect. For the bread bag, I use GW Asurmen Blue. I do all of this wash application in stages so that the washes and inks don't blend. Once that's all dry, we'll start highlighting!

For highlighting the skin tones I use the base color again, slightly watered down. I've gone to a method of using different tones for more recent projects but again I'm just carrying through the method I used from the get-go. The jump smock gets highlighted with a really watered down application of our magical 70.886 color. The ammo bandoliers get highlighted with a watered down Grey Green again, or a watered down London Grey. I'll also sort of drybrush this color on the helmet's chinstrap, the Y-strap, belt, and so on to faintly highlight the leathers. A light highlight or drybrush of our Leadbelcher on the metal bits is next. Finally we come to the rifle. I highlight the stock with a really watered down Vermin Brown. The trick here is to water down the paint with a different brush than you use to paint it on, otherwise you'll carry over too much water and it'll make a mess. As it dries it blends really well with the color underneath to sort of tint it rather than straight up highlight.

The final step before basing is the helmet. I do the helmet in black, making sure to get under the rim too, being careful not to get it on the face we've worked so hard to get done. Next is the national shield that goes on the right side of the helmet. For this I do a dot of Mordian Blue, a dot of Mechrite Red, and then a line of white diagonally through the center. If it's misshapen I'll refine it with black again. Once that's done, I go to the left side of the helmet and do a representation of the Luftwaffe Eagle... essentially a thicker horizontal line with a smaller dot on top for the eagle's head, and then a larger dot at the bottom for where the swastika would be.

That's it. A few layers of clear-coat, either brushed on or using Testor's Dullcote, and then on to basing. I used greener colors and some flowers to make the bases look like the Belgian (or British) countryside.

Now that I've shown you my method and formulation, I want to share a few options because in Bolt Action you've almost always got other options! First up, I'd like to share some pics from the Fallschirmjager army done up by top chap and good friend of the Alliance, Sam from the DownOrder podcast. Sam has themed his force on the Crete invasion, and has achieved an amazing result on his FJ using Vallejo 70.924 (Russian Uniform) then mixing in Vallejo Panzer Aces 338 (Highlight German Feldgrau) gradually to highlight up. Sam recently won a Best Painted award with these guys. They look great!

One last example of options is some exceptional work by the one and only Patch! Patch used Vallejo Feldgrau to achieve the same effect on his Crete FJ force. Patch has used his layering effect to great results here too.

If you've actually read this far into the article, thanks for reading! I hope you're inspired to do up your own early war Fallschirmjager force, or at least an early war army in general. Check out the Sea Lion campaign book, available now, and the Gigant book which carries this what-if campaign forward.

Until next time, game on!

- Seamus

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