Sunday, 21 May 2017

Battlefront 15mm Panther and Jagdpanther

This is the final part of my 'GF9 Tanks Starter Set (Panther Vs Sherman)' series and comprises of the production of the German opposition in the game, the Panzer V Panther. However, as I mentioned in an earlier post about this game set (link to post here), there is an option to mount the Jagdpanther upper hull on the Panther chassis to get two tanks for one (with some sneaky use of mini-magnets)!

The 1/100 Battlefront Panther and Jagdpanther kits are rather nice - if somewhat 'chunky'* and simplified - models. But, they are - in my opinion - on the higher quality end of the wargaming quality kit spectrum. They have packed a good deal of nice surface detail into these little kits and have some very nice track detail.

* I have noted on several occasions, when talking about these sort of 'wargaming quality' kits that they can be a little 'chunky' and sometimes over-scaled (Plastic Soldier Company models are a prime example). Well, I've come to understand that is sort of deliberate to make the models a little more durable as playing pieces. Zvezda scales their 1/100 models more accurately, but - as I found out with their M3A1 Stuart kit - this means details like guns become very fine and therefore possibly prone to breakage. This over-scaling is sometimes referred to as 'Heroic' scaling.

Anyway, back to the job in hand. Having mad up my Panther/JP model for playing purposes (unpainted) it's now time for my GF9 panzers to follow the example of their Sherman opponents and get a lick of paint!

Choosing a Panther Camo Scheme
As I found with my 1/100 'Elefant', the choice of German WW2 is wide and wonderful, and this is particularly true of the later war panzer schemes. Starting from D-Day the variety of camouflage patterns seemed to snowball from the fairly standard - but still variable - 'three colour pattern' to - by 1945 - and almost anything goes 'let's just get the tank on the battlefield' (sometimes not painted at all) attitude!

So, I decided that the best place to start was to pick a specific period and/or theatre. This would help me pin down a sort of historic parameter for camo choices.

I wanted my Panther/JP to be D-Day specific - so as to be suitable opponents for my D-Day Shermans - so this ruled out a lot of the more weird and wonderful 'late war' Panther schemes. I eventually came across a 1944 3-colour paint pattern that I liked (I sort of prefer large, harder-edged patterns)...

I will be using this same pattern for both the standard Panther upper hull and that of the optional Jagdpanther hull.

Hairy Stick Time
As I am still without an airbrush at the moment, it's another chance to practice my brush skills (another reason to go for a 'hard-edged' camp pattern). I began by priming the Panther hulls with Flames of War's 'Panther Yellow' and then I worked on the brown patches of camo using Vallejo Model Color 'German Cam. Med. Brown' [826]...

My LED desk lamp made these a little over saturated, the colours are actually
a little more muted than this.
I tried to follow - roughly - the same shapes on both hulls so that they would neatly join up with the pattern painted on the lower hull. One thing I like about painting patterns using a brush is that if I vary the dilution of the acrylic with water you get a semi-opaque - almost 'watercolour' - effect where the paint is not uniform and 'flat'. This can add to the impression that the camo was added over the Dunklegelb base colour in the field and also that it was 'faded' in places (that's my excuse).

Next I start to add the green 'blotches' using Vallejo's Model Color 'German Cam. Dark Green' [979]. Now, I know there is some amount of debate as to whether these two colours are true to the original German paint colours (the brown doesn't seem to be red enough and the green not green enough, allegedly) but I want a more muted effect...

Lighting was a bit dark here, but hopefully, you get the idea.
Doing an 'authentic' scheme for Battlefront's 1/100 game tanks models is a bit of a 'DIY' process. Unlike 'display' kits these little models don't come with decals or a 'suggested scheme', so you are left to your own devices as to how you paint and decorate them.

Also, authenticity isn't, perhaps, the absolute priority here as these models are playing pieces, so there's an accepted leeway for 'artistic licence'. Basically, nobody will pull you up if your chosen camo scheme wasn't entirely correct for this or that theatre or period or unit, so long as the spirit of the national faction is adhered to for the game. Players of this game don't tend to be rivet counters or pedants (IMHO).

Here's an example of Panther numbering and emblem format that
I quite like. The plain white numbering suits my intention to use
dry transfer lettering as I have similar font/styles.
So, with this in mind, my camo scheme for the Panther/JP was a 'generalisation' and that's how my decoration will be as well. I'll be keeping it simple, with just a couple of German crosses and a made-up vehicle number...This model is NOT based on any actual identifiable historic tank or unit!

I'm using Woodland Scenics dry transfer numbers for the Panther and the decals for my Jagdpanther are from the Skyrex AD43 German Tank Numbers and AD28 German Crosses. I have to say, I'm not so impressed with the quality of the Skyrex decals, I think they are short run printed decals and their transfer film is quite thick so I'm having to use Microscale's Micro Sol to help settle them in nicely.

Applying one number at a time is a bit tricky as you are never completely satisfied that everything is straight and level...

And that's nearly it for the basic paint scheme and decalling. I have to go around them again to do a bit of touching up and add some metalic dry-brush effects to the bare steel part and then the everything will be real for a coat of satin varnish. This helps seal the decals and prepares and protects the paintwork for teh next stage, which is an overall wash.

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