Sunday, January 19, 2014

Scenic objective marker: Munitionsschlepper 38

As you probably noticed I recently spent my (very limited) spare time on playing Battlegroup Kursk (BGK), however, I still keep my Flames of War army ready for combat. Today, I would like to write about my recent project that is dedicated to both games.

In BGK you have to take care about re-supplying your vehicles with ammunition. Frankly speaking it is a very important aspect of the game – especially for German players. For instance, Germans can take trucks and armored ammo carriers. Especially, the second type of vehicles gives Germans advantage. Trucks are easy to destroy, while armored ammo carriers are well protected from small-arms fire and can even survive hits from small caliber guns. To be honest, before we started to play BGK I was not aware that Germans used so many types of converted vehicles as ammo carriers.

I started to look for some models that could represent armored ammo carrier vehicles. I also thought it could be a good idea to build a simple scenic objective marker for Flames of War that will use the vehicle. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find such models in 15mm scale, because not many tabletop WWII games focus on the supply aspect. I found a set of StuG battery support vehicles produced by Forged in Battle that includes Sdkfz 252 supply vehicles. The main problem was that there were three vehicles in the box, but I only needed one. The second one was that according to the stats of the vehicle in BGK it seems to represent a converted tank. (Update: QRF has also Munitionsschlepper 38 in their range)

I started to investigate what types of ammo carriers German used during WWII. I found some that were built on the chassis of Panzer 38. I thought it is a good idea to convert a cheap Zvezda Panzer 38 kit to an ammo carrier (in Poland it costs less than 3 Euro). Unfortunately, it was difficult to find any original photos of such vehicles. I found two model kits in 1/72 scale, one produced by ATTACK and the second one by UM. They both represent Munitionsschlepper auf Fgst Panzer 38(t) Ausf. C. However, I wanted to look for original photos, and finally, I was lucky to find them at Wehrmacht history page.

The Zvezda Panzer 38(t) kit is really a model I could recommend. The casting quality and level of details is very good, although, some of the details casting is a little bit flat making it quite difficult to pin wash. You'll get a single, small sprue that contains only 6 pieces (plus a flag). It is extremely easy to assemble the model, what is quite important for wargamers. The only drawback is that you won't get any stowage or crew members. It won't be also easy to customize the vehicle, because hatches are casted in hull and turret.

The conversion of Zvezda model was really straightforward. I only had to drill a hole in the turret mounting-point and use a little bit of green stuff to model the coverage and remove hull MG leaving just its mounting point. I also used Battlefront’s artillery crew figures and some PSC stowage. To make the vehicle dual-purpose I added a magnet at the bottom of the model and another one to the scenic base. This enables removing vehicle once I play BGK and stick it to the base for Flames of War scenic objective marker. Moreover, I also added a magnet to one of my Zvezda Opel trucks, so it can be also used as an objective marker for BGK, when I use ammo carrier on table.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

PSC: Tiger 1 finished

I've just finished a new 15mm Tiger I model by Plastic Soldier Company and I finally have a platoon of 3 Tigers ready for  my new, nasty Battlegroup Kursk 500 pts. roster, so Kondziu beware!...

I don't want to write yet another review of the PSC kit - you'll find plenty of them here and there. Let me just share my general impressions about the model.

What you get is a single (but large) sprue with the parts enabling you to built different variants of the Tiger 1 tank, starting from the early desert version and ending up with its late versions with modified tracks system. The hull and turret are not covered with zimmerit, so if you like it you will have to add it yourself. The model has a very nice system for mounting the turret and something I haven't seen in 15mm scale - the gun mantle which enables you to control the gun angle (sic!).

In my opinion it is a real "model kit". It requires some time to assemble it, which might not be too convenient for wargamers, but will definitely give lots of pleasure to modelers. On the other hand, how many Tigers you need in your army?

There is however, one big issue related to tracks. I assembled many PSC models and I didn't have so much trouble with them (although many people complain about them). In this model it was a nightmare.

The model fits very well to Battlefront's one. It has slightly lower profile and some minor difference in turret (e.g., hatches). As you can see below it is not so easy to find a difference if you look from some distance. I decided to assemble a mid version so of course you'll easily notice which is which by looking at tracks.
Left - Battlefront, Right - PSC
Left - Battlefront, Right - PSC
Left - Battlefront, Right - PSC
Finally, I think it is a very nice model. I love the Battlefront's model very much - in my opinion it is one of their bests. I think that PSC is at least comparable, and if not only the tracks I would say it is even a little bit better.