Friday 20 March 2020

Getting ready for 29, Let's Go!

A new campaign is always a good excuse to finish off projects and add new items to the collection.

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.

There were some terrain pieces that were also required. I wanted to add some sign posts as scatter terrain and these were made up from the old Airfix Forward Headquarters set and some images I downloaded from the net and resized to 1/72.

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.

And finally, a sad but iconic image from Normandy was the sight of dead cows littering the fields. I've had a few of the AB Figures dead cows for some time but I've added three more. They make for good, poignant scatter terrain for any Normandy table.

With those completed we were ready to start the campaign and you can follow what happened in the first scenario in this AAR of Scenario 1 Probe at La Cambe. You can find all of the AARs for this campaign and several other Chain of Command campaigns on the Chain of Command Campaign AARs page.


  1. Wow you have been busy Mark. Like the Sherman wreck but wouldn't it look even better with an 88mm sized hole in the front?

    1. Ah, so you didn’t spot the small panzerfaust penetration? It is very small.....

  2. A lot of great ideas and beautifully painted vehicles, troops and terrain , looking forward to the AAR, Agree with the flame from the flame thrower I made mine with the permanent flame, I found that it did get in the way while trying to position the flamer behind cover, will have to make some adjustment on mind thanks Mark.
    cheers John

    1. Have either of you considered using one of the command (ie single figure) sabot bases from Charlie Foxtrot and the like? If you use them "the other way around" you can plonk the figure into the hole and have the "flame" on the squared off end (the bit that normally carries the leader rating).

    2. That's a really brilliant idea Baron... personally, I would also be inclined to include a micro dice frame to show the number of shots too.

    3. Brendan, that’s a neat idea. I have some single sabots spare, I’ll give it a try.

  3. I love your attention to detail here, Mark, and your work looks so good.

  4. Great collection! Sooner or later I'll have to do a flamethrower flame myself...

  5. You Sir, are an inspiration. Where do you find the time?

  6. Very fine additions and refurbs there, looking forward to following you our campaign in due course.

  7. Nicely done as usual! I think I might have to try to make some of those flame thrower elements.

  8. Damn I'm so jealous!! Excellent work Mark I like your train of thought and all it comes up with.

  9. Excellent work there! Really looking forward to your campaign reports

  10. You, sir, I going to make me throw away all my kit and start over!!!

  11. All I can do is echo the above comments, imaginative and inspirational. Consider most of these ideas 'borrowed' :) I reckon your work has improved the look of so many tables.

  12. Brilliant jobs here all around! In the beginning I thought there would be only a few items but the amazing just kept coming. You’re definitely all set up for the next campaign. ­čśÇ

  13. Great stuff all round! I'm a big fan of scatter terrain as it's a great way to deploy 'hidden' units too - you never know when that innocent looking bush or farm cart might be hiding a deadly MG42 or panzerfaust team! The walled gradens are a great idea too - I've used the bottom of chocolate gift boxes with a 'gateway' cut in, but yours look much better.
    Whover wrote that army list needs to read up on the US Army though: the BAR wasn't part of a separate 'team' but integral to the squad which usually maneuvered as a whole, with covering fire given by .30 Browning M1919's from the weapons platoon. Also there were no corporals in an infantry platoon! Prior to Normandy, the army wanted to give every man in a combat leadership slot a pay raise: the best way to do this was to bump everyone up one rank, so squad leaders became staff sergeants, assisted by buck sergeants who were formerly corporals. (I was an active member of the 29th Division living history unit for ten years)
    "29 Let's Go!"

    1. Thanks. Listing the BAR as a team is a game mechanic to give the large American squad greater tactical flexibility than if it operated as one large team. It is an abstraction, otherwise the squad suffers from the lack of flexibility of a Russian squad, which operates as a single ‘team’. In practice the relatively weak firepower of the BAR means it operates as part of the squad and contributes to its firepower, but making it a separate team for rules purposes makes the American squad more resilient to the effects of shock and allows for a greater degree of tactical flexibility. As for the corporal, yes, that’s plain wrong!