Friday, March 9, 2018

Desert Rats Progress: P.1 Scots Guards, RHA, more

It's seems like we've been waiting YEARS to get this operation moving!
yes, well, that's because it HAS been years...

So this project has been brewing for a while - well, years, actually. And now I'm committed to making it happen; as written up here [click] it is one of my top three [3] projects. 

It only makes _complete_ sense, as I've a pretty big, mostly finished, nicely painted Italian desert army that I've been using for years. And that has some more platoons I'd like to finish for it, also. Well, truth be told...LOTS of platoons! And I always paint more enthusiastically when I know I'm going to be using the figures soon.

This project is a Beda Fomm matchup, Italians v. 22nd Armoured Brigade at Beda Fomm during Operation Crusader, late 1941. Ever since reading "Brazen Chariots" 35 years ago I've been interested in this campaign, so it's a long time coming to game it in greater detail. It'll be great, as it allows me to field both sides with up to 4 players, easily, so I can do more demo games and host people with eye-catching stuff.

The Crusaders are mostly done, but need all the last touches. Still, they are "enough" to use on the table for now. But there's no British Infantry at all, and I've been substituting Italians for a few years now, which is definitely wrong. So progressing is happening daily...

Altogether there's about 60 Infantry, 28 Artillerists, 4 25pdr guns + limbers, 13 bailed-out tank crews. This will come to about 8 Artillery stands [4 guns/limbers, 1 staff and 1 command and 2 FO teams] 6 bailed tank crew stands, 20 Infantry stands [4 Bren LMK, 3 ATR, 1 PIAT, 1 x 2" mortar, 11 SMLE rifle stands]. In the "Up the Blue!" rules, these 34 stands are about 11-12 Units, when pushed to the limit. My normal choice would be:

  • 2 x 25pdr Dual-purpose Gun batteries,
  • 6 x Infantry platoons
  • several status markers

But it is great to be using rules where 3 stands / vehicles is the only essential guideline, and everything else can be history, character and flavor! In a pinch, I can field two full Motor Platoon companies of three platoons each, plus a battery of 25pdrs, and toss in two tank troops, and I've two 6-unit forces on the table. I can also switch them to Crusader Armoured Squadrons, just by swapping in more Tank platoons for the Infantry platoons.

I've lots more [lots and lots more...] including Bofers AA, AA and ATG Portees, 2pdr ATGs, Armoured Cars, etc. Very shortly I'll also be able to field some nice Jock Column Forces. 

Getting Ready. I cleaned and arranged by painting table - first time in a year at least. I then gathered all the tones I might need to not only paint them "as written" but to paint them in lighter tones that also contrasted with surrounding colors so as to be noticeable on the fig from a couple feet away - if it's not noticeable, why paint it??

Gear. I also went through all the brushes - the ones above are the best of the lot. The others are pretty beat up, but will be useful for stippling, camo schemes, etc, so I'm not tossing them...yet. Water and a small paint palette above, a bit of broken plastic just above the "Army Painter" logo to bottom right - I use this to dampen the brush and keep it wet but with the same color as I paint one aspect of all 63 figs in one sit-down session.

Mounted on popsicle sticks - same figures on the same stick. I then go down the file of soldiers painting something that adds variety down the file, e.g. a flesh tone, so that all the poses are not painted identically to each other. This builds variety among the batch of figs, and give opportunities to mix'n match since the row of figs are all the same, or almost the same. This combo of working either across the stick or down the sticks is  easy for me to track who gets what paint and what type of fig they are. I've NEVER been able to do the Battlefront thing where you mount the figs on stands and then paint them like that!

Handling the sticks while painting the khaki backpacks is easy, makes the brush strokes repetitive and fast, and the groups of same figs together speeds up comprehension of the sculpt, e.g. what am I looking at with this little bump, line, etc here on the fig??

FLESH: Mixing the tones up a bit...Vallejo Light Brown [70.929], Sand Yellow [?] and Off White [70.820] - haven't used it this batch, but 70.981 Orange Brown also looks like it would mix into the pallet well. I put a drop or two next to each other, and as I feel inspired, I mix them and draw from the pools of color to hit up the flesh tones of these guys - I like variety since everyone doesn't tan the same way [some just burn] and others are exposed less, etc. Very happy with how these look on the figs! They have some variety but it's not distracting.

The only downside to this is remembering the color combos, but posting them will help!

Going down the line with the black boots.

you can see some of the color experiments I've been making here and there.

Organizing by gear also helps. Below, the groups are [top-bottom] Rifles, support weapons, officers with pistols, SMGs, walking sticks and tea cups [yes, really], and radio FO teams. It's MUCH easier to paint all the Bren LMGs at once, all the Boys ATRs at once, etc.

So altho these figs are taking longer than I originally thought, getting into the groove if it is helping a lot, and I think future painting projects will go much easier and faster. After not being in the painting chair much for a long time, it was hard to get started again, I have to say. But now that progress is being made, it's much easier - I'd say I'm over the hump!

As always, comments and suggestions welcome, especially ideas for things to paint on these guys!

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