This will be the first time my American platoon will be in action and running through the requirements for the campaign I wanted to paint up a few more figures. The Germans are defending throughout this campaign and have recourse to minefields, barbed wire and roadblocks, so I wanted to be sure the Americans had enough engineers to cover all possibilities. Costing one support point per team there was a good chance these might be needed. I also wanted to add another senior leader armed with a carbine. I already owned the miniatures, it was just a matter of getting some paint on them.
As this will be the first outing for the platoon I needed to create one of my platoon boards so that it will be easier to organise them off the table. You can see how I make those platoon boards here in this post.
The Germans can call on a Pak40 for support so I used this as an excuse to upgrade my existing Pak40 crew which was originally from the Plastic Soldier Company to one from AB Figures.
The PSC Pak38 50mm gun was one of the first guns I made and painted when I first returned to playing miniatures about six years ago. I had used the Army Painter dip method of shading for the crew back in those days and those figures were looking in need of a refresh. The PSC crew are not the same quality of the AB crew (nor are they anywhere near as expensive, I might add) but look a lot better with a new lick of paint.
Having made up several versions of the Sherman I realised I had only a single variant with the 75mm gun, the rest had 76mm guns.
This required fixing and so I made up another from PSC and one other that I had in the stash from Armourfast.
The Armourfast model is on the left and although it lacks some of the details of the PSC Sherman it will do the job. I added a .50cal from Sgts Mess, a crew member from PSC and some additional stowage from the spares box.
For every scenario the Americans must select at least one Sherman as a support and so there is a very good likelihood we will see some of these knocked out. In case we refight over the same ground I wanted to have a Sherman wreck to use as scatter terrain and so I decided to use the other Armourfast Sherman for just that. Nothing as dramatic as the wrecked T-34 that I made last year. This time I wanted to show one that was burnt out and abandoned.
In the third scenario of the campaign the Germans receive two Marders. I had bought the Plastic Soldier Company boxed set that allows you to build up either Marders or Pz38t. Up until now I had made only the one below (and given it a crew from AB Figures).
This second one I've put together for the campaign, but this time I tried something different and added foliage camouflage which was made from coconut fibre and Noch leaves.
That now gives me the two Marders I will need. Marders appeared on nearly all the fronts of the war so I'm sure they will see lots of use. Both have crews made from various AB figures.
Completing those figures and vehicles gave me all the key units and supports that would be needed for the campaign. That then left a few items of terrain and some game markers that I wanted to complete.
The pictures in the AARs for the campaigns are there to illustrate events and to make it clear what's happening on the table. Not only that they help add some drama to the narrative. However I don't always have the visual elements to do that successfully. That was one reason I started adding casualty figures to my collection. Previously when a unit took losses, particularly a key unit like a flamethrower team or a senior leader, I would simply photograph the empty space on the table where the figure once was. Not particularly satisfactory. My decision to create a Stuka to illustrate the pre-game bombardments for the Gembloux Gap campaign turned out to be a good one and convinced me it was worth going to the effort of making these extra pieces.
With that in mind (and talking of flamethrowers) I decided to create some flames for when an attack was made. I didn't want these permanently attached to the figure as that would look a bit odd if the operator was casually walking around the table with his weapon on full blast constantly.
The flames were made using the same technique I used for my explosion and barrage markers which you can see in this post. As I said, they are a separate piece otherwise the whole figure becomes too cumbersome plus it's not always going to be appropriate to have the figure looking like he's firing the flame thrower.
This will be used in combination with the markers I made to indicate how much fuel was remaining. I made these last year for those weapons that have limited ammunition supply like hand grenades and flamethrowers. You can read more about them in this post here.
Both the Americans and the Germans have a mortar barrage available as support and at only four support points I suspect we may see these appear quite often. I have already made up some barrage markers and I'm very happy with those.
I've always thought it would be great to mix those explosion markers up with shell holes to add variety to the table. It also helps that shellholes require significantly less storage space while still achieving the main objective of marking out the area covered by a barrage. So I've made a first attempt at these. They are not perfect and there's a few things I'll do differently next time but overall I'm quite happy. I will post a tutorial on making these in the next week or so.
I've also been intending to make some markers to use with AFVs to represent various states of damage and given the frequency with which Shermans will appear in this campaign it has given me the impetus I needed to complete these. More about how I made them in this post about AFV markers.
Along the same lines I wanted to mark when a tank had moved flat out and so created these plumes of dust. Again more about how I made these in the link above.
I also needed walls and garden walls for some of the houses. In the past I've made these by placing existing lengths of wall around the houses. However I've always liked the idea of making these appear more seamless but without actually attaching them permanently to the buildings. So these were made to sit in front of and/or behind a number of my existing houses that way I retain some flexibility in exactly how those house models can be used on a table.