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Xenophon's Ghost covers military history and wargaming from the ancient period to modern times.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

M4 Sherman for Bolt Action

M4 Sherman (75mm gun)

Catching a sale on www.squadron.com, I picked up a 1/48 scale Hobby Boss M4 Sherman for Bolt Action. At $14.00, the cost was less than half the going rate for other manufacturers.

The Hobby Boss kit brought back memories of my scale modeling projects; however, I didn't feel obligated to worry too much about the smallest bits.  This tank will be handled on the gaming table.  I also worried much less about the painting results, but I am very pleased with the final result.

Warning - Instructions are Wanting

I have one major gripe about the Hobby Boss kit: the instructions.  I was merrily following them step-by-step, and I fortunately realized that the instructions directed construction of two options for the suspension bogles as sequential steps.  At several points, construction options are not explained well.  Web reviews mentioned that the angle on the front glacis is incorrect; I'm not too worried about this flaw in a wargaming model.

Breaking Out the Airbrush

I have the cheapest airbrush known to man - a Testors model purchased at the Post Exchange toy section.  It is a simple sprayer; anything resembling nozzle control isn't optional.  One of my phobias in scale modeling was ruining a model during the painting process.  Since the model will be used for gaming, I was liberated from worry.  I also sprayed with acrylic paints for the first time.  Given the winter temperatures here, I set up a spray booth of sorts using a plastic bin in the washroom: I never would have attempted this with toxic enamels.  

Using Vallejo Olive Drab, I sprayed thinned OD as an initial layer.  I screened off the bottom half of the tank with paper, and lightened the top half with a blend of olive drab and white.  I should have made it even lighter since the weathering washes made the model too dark.

Weathering and Lightening

While working on my Warmachines project, I ended up with left-over Armor wash and applied it liberally to the tank.  It didn't flow into the recesses too well, so the wash darkened the panels too much. Now I know why modelers paint a gloss coat before using washes.  I also used an ink wash, carefully applying it to the recessed areas.  I then lightened the panels up significantly with a wet brush of an Olive Drab and White mix.  The machine guns were painted black and dry-brushed with gun-metal.

For weathering, I used three different brown tones of craft paint, heavily thinned as a wash as well as applied with a dry brush.  I tried to mimic mud splashes along the sides and front of the vehicle.  To finish up, I added a small amount of white glue to the darkest brown, using it to fix small amounts of ground cover to the track areas and front.

The overall build time wasn't too bad, and I'm sure this M4 will see a lot of gaming action.  I won't worry too much if it gets dinged up given the price point.  Great local prices on Tamiya 1/48 scale models have shifted my initial Bolt Action plans from the Pacific to the Late War in Europe. I eventually will get back to the Pacific, but I want to try out this modeling scale and game at a lower cost given my limited budget and varied interest.  I bought several Warlord Games German units, the Germany Army supplement, and Wargames Factory Infantry after New Years. My US infantry is on the paint table.  Hopefully, I'll be playing 1000 point games by March!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Protectorate Army

Protectorate of Menoth

I finally finished the Protectorate of Menoth battle group from the Warmachines starter set.  The project took a long time - I hit burnout with painting at the midway point.  I did have the chance to try several new techniques.

High Exemplar Kreoss

Scale Change

This was my first project in a scale larger than 15mm.  These steam-powered warriors were huge.  It took a lot more time, and paint, to get this small group completed.  The miniature quality was top-notch, but I could improve my clean up skills on resin models.  The close-up shots reveal mold lines that I didn't noticed during clean-up.  I started painting 28mm WW II infantry figures last night, and they were small in comparison!

Crusader and Repenter 

Paint Change

I started modeling with Craft Paints from the local hobby store.  They work okay on 15mm figs in my opinion, but the paint quality tells.  Having purchased Tamiya acrylics for some of the metallic colors and Privateer Press paints for the maroon sections, I was impressed with the paint flow and quality.  I won't be tossing all of the craft paint out, but I'm switching to higher quality paints from here on.  Vallejo paints are similarly great to use.

Crusader Close Up


I followed the three layer painting approach outlined in the Warmachines rulebook.  I'm not happy with the white areas, partially because of the paint quality.  The whites are Craft Paints, and they didn't layer as well.

For shading, I used Privateer Press Armor wash for the steel areas.  I mixed Citadel Agrax Earth Shade with the Armor Wash for the gold sections.

Exemplar Cinerators Unit
As noted in my previous post (documenting a failure), I used Sculpey clay to make rocks for the bases.  I'm pleased with how the bases turned out.  I also tried Gale Force 9 for the ground cover for the first time.  Finally, I tried to fix the sand on the base, mixing white glue into the paint when coloring it.