A Bridge Too Far – Warlord Games, Blitzkrieg Miniatures and JTFM 28mm Bolt Action project wip3

Warlord Opel Blitz and Flak …..

Finished the base assembly of the Warlord Opel Blitz and 2cm Flakvierling 38 conversion. Pretty basic stuff, to fit the Flakvierling in place of the single 2cm I built up a standoff plate or spacer out of some plasticard. Then I drilled the main guns and body so that I could pin the guns for elevation and fit a screw fastener to allow traverse.

I drilled and pinned the headlights of both Opels as they’re fragile and exposed to handling and assembled the cab of the troop carrier. This was another exercise in filing and trimming as there’s a bunch of little misalignments conspiring against an easy fit. I left the top of the cab separate so I can paint the inside and fit the cabin glass before closing it up.

There’s a couple of small things to add after base painting but they’re basically done and waiting paint …..

Q

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A Bridge Too Far – Warlord Games, Blitzkrieg Miniatures and JTFM 28mm Bolt Action project wip2

Yes, kits . . . . .

As mentioned the kits are mostly Warlord primarily because of availability of subjects, some Blitzkieg because we wanted to compare the quality and a few JTFM which I had lying around. In addition there are various stowage packs from Warlord and JTFM and decals from Warlord.

Warlord Games
Opel Blitz with open canopy
Opel Blitz and 2cm Flak
SdKfz 251/1C SPW (Plastic kit) x2
SdKfz 251/8 Ambulance
SdKfz 250/7 Neu 81mm Mortar
SdKfz 250/8 Neu 7.5cm SPG Stummel
PzKpfw II Ausf.L Luchs Recce
Flakvierling 38 20mm
Schwimmwagen
SdKfz 222 Armoured Car
Grabners Humber Armoured Car

BlitKrieg Miniatures
SdKfz 231 2.0cm 8rad Armoured Car
SdKfz 250/1 Neu SPW x2

JTFM
SdKfz 251/7 Engineer SPW

I didn’t take “sprue” or contents pics of everything, shame on me I know, but did for the Plastic 251/1Cs out of interest as I hadn’t made a Warlord plastic kit before.

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And this was the second batch of received vehicles.

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I tackled assembly as the kits arrived, helped by the fact they came in distinct groups. The first batch was the Luchs, 222, x2 251/Cs and Grabners Humber. Just a note, I’ve made comments on the assembly and details of the kits. Don’t take offence, these are personal comments and please remember that at the end of the day they will look great once painted … and that is the most important thing.

Warlord 251/1C Plastic kits. The plastic 251s were pretty basic and easy to assemble. I made a few small mods to give them some character and they’ll get some final detailing (aerials, stowage, width indicators) once basic painting has been done.

Warlord Luchs. Like the plastic 251s the Luchs assembles easily with excellent and sharply moulded detailing. There were no issues except a bit of grinding with the dremel to thin out the track guards and searching the spares box for a replacement 2cm main gun as the kit one was a string of white metal and let down the rest of the kit. I added some details out of the spares box using left over 1/48 Tamiya tank tools and will add a few more after the camo has been painted.

Warlord Grabners Humber. Reasonable assembly but the first kit that looked “off” to both my eye and when comparing it to reference pictures (the turret in particular is terrible in shape and dimension). I don’t mind “fast build” or less detailed kits but do get annoyed when Masters at this size are made without some care and attention. To be completely honest it’s been my personal issue with 1/56th gaming resin kits for many years and the reason I favour 1/48th kits and haven’t delved into 28mm much. But enough of the personal soapbox, I added guards for the front lights, towing hooks and a stowage box to the right hand side and as usual will add a few more items after basic painting.

Warlord SdKfz222 A/C. I think this is one of their older kits and I added a lot of extra detail to try and break up the look. The wheels are terribly undersized and are the worst feature of the kit making it look oddly proportioned. I would have replaced them if I’d had anything in the spares box that was the right size. The turret screen are moulded in solid white metal which is understandable but have no texture to the inside face if you wish to have them open like I did. Again personally I would have replaced these with PE 1/48th upgrade parts as they still would have been strong enough for handling on the table and look far better.

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And the whole group base coated using a Tamiya rattlecan (TS-3 Desert Yellow)

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My Milicast Grabner Humber competed many many years ago …. pretty much how I’m hoping this one will look.

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Blitkrieg SdKfz 231 8rad. Only basic assembly completed so far but a very nicely moulded kit. The wheels are very nicely moulded with a sharply detailed (if fantasy) tread and wheel hub pattern that probably won’t be noticed under paint and weathering. They do have very large resin pour plugs however and there’s no way to remove without destroying some of the nicely moulded tread. It would have made much more sense to angle these further towards the rear side of the tire/wheel so that the inevitable removal damage wouldn’t be seen when assembled. Again I’ll try and find something to replace the main 2cm gun with. The kit supplied one is nicely moulded but very thin and fragile.

The pic below shows it with a Bandai 1/48th 232 and JTFM 1/56th 234/2 Puma for comparison.

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Warlord Opel Blitz and Opel Blitz AA. Pretty basic assembly and good detail. Both chassis which include the front section of the cab were badly warped however. I soaked them in warm water, straightened them and then set the shape by plunging into iced water. After that though I have noticed that they have taken a slight bend again after warming back up to room temperature. I’ll straighten them once more before assembling further and if they warp again I’ll glue stiffeners to the undersides. There were large resin pour plugs to be removed on the front bumper, take care when removing them. I ground mine away with a dremel but I know not everyone has access to one ….

Warlord SdKfz251/8 D Amubulance. A kit that at first glance looks very nicely detailed and should have been the simplest and quickest to assemble. I wish I had taken more pictures of this one however as I spent about 2 hours grinding at it with a Dremel to get the tracks (oversized) to fit and sit correctly. The hull moulding/master suffers from either mould shift or poor design. Some of the side plates are noticeably splayed out and the underneath is a mystery. One side appears to be aligned horizontally completely differently to the other and is longer/bigger in places than the other side making track fit . . . unusual to say the least. If assembled as is the vehicle sits way too high and the tracks too far back. I also had no choice but to incline the front wheel/axel assembly forward so that the wheels sat correctly. As supplied they sit too far back and too tall, adding to the odd look. I hazard a guess that the problem is in the length of the rear hull and when I get time I’ll run a size check against some scale drawings. So after much grinding the underneath to square things up I’m reasonably happy with how it sits. Although the track drive sprocket looks to be 1/48th in size and catches my eye every time . . .

My easy method of aligning wheels and axels. I like to assemble them before attaching to the vehicle as it makes getting everything square and aligned much easier.

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A comparison of the three 1/56th halftracks. While the “C” is more of a comparison of Warlord resin vrs Warlord new plastic, it is still interesting to see all three together. The Warlord C is nice and appears good in profile, recommended. Comparing the 2 251/Ds I much prefer the JTFM version. It looks like the profile drawings even if the detail is a little “dated”. As for the Warlord resin 251/D, I’d personally use alternative manufacturers until Warlord either change the shape or produce a better one in plastic. Again just my views coming from the perspective of what looks correct . . .

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UPDATE Ok I dug out a 1/35th plan and overlaid the Warlord 251. Nothing technical, just to see where the differences were. As suspected the rear hull is very short, tracks/road wheels are oversized (although not as bad as I thought, they look worse because of the short hull), nose profile is wrong and the front wheels too small. All that said it should still look good when painted so stay tuned . . .

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A completed 20mm Cromwell SdKfz251/8 Ambulance and the finish I’ll be using for the Warlord one.

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Q

A Bridge Too Far – Warlord Games, Blitzkrieg Miniatures and JTFM 28mm Bolt Action project wip2

Arnhem Bridge 28mm …..

Amongst other commission projects I have is a 28mm Bolt Action gaming project for the vehicles from the 9th-SS Hohenstaufen SS-Aufklärung-Abteilung (Recce Battalion). We’ll be using about 14 kits mostly from Warlord with a few from Blitzkrieg and JTFM thrown in.

So as usual for my bigger projects now I’ll start with some suck-eggs basic historical background.

The Hohenstaufen ended up in Holland and the area north of Arnhem recovering after the mauling it and it’s sister Division the Frundsburg received in the Normandy Battles. The unit was in the process of entraining for Germany to re-fit when the first Airborne drops were made on 17 September. Kampfgruppe Harzer was formed with approximately 2500 men and precious little heavy equipment. General orders were received to recce the Nijmegan / Arnhem area, secure the bridge and wipe out the airborne landings west of Arnhem in the Oosterbeek area.

The 9th-SS-AA (Aufklärung-Abteilung) was located in the area of Hooenderlo where most of the divisions still mobile armour, SPWs and A/Cs, had been concentrated into 3 companies. Rapidly mobilising it was ordered South and drove though a deserted Arnhem and over the Neder-Rijn highway bridge, reporting it clear, having just missed the advancing 2nd Battalion of John Frost. Failing to leave a blocking force at the bridge (a major mistake) it continued on and into the Nijmegan area.

On the second day the 9th-SS-AA returned from Nijmegan as units from the Frundsberg had arrived to hold the area and the road bridge there, having crossed the Neder-Rijn by ferry (a slow and tricky process that would continue for most of the battle).

This set the scene for the now infamous dash across the bridge, an action made famous by the movie A Bridge Too Far. Leaving a small group of SPGs in Elst, at approx 9.00am an over confident SS-Hauptsturmführer Viktor Gräbner led his units in a dash across the bridge and straight into the fire of a prepared and dug in opponent. Several vehicles made it through the surprised British lines before 6pdr AT, PIAT and small arms fire decimated most of the remaining column, losing around 20 vehicles and the commander himself who went missing presumed KIA.

And some reference pics (from web sources and included here for discussion purposes only)

The Highway Bridge over the Neder-Rijn at Arnhem photographed shortly after the ill fated attack by the 9th SS AA. Note the houses surrounding the bridge have yet to suffer the destruction later suffered in the battle to defeat John Frosts 2nd Battalion.

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SS-Hauptsturmführer Viktor Gräbner

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Various SdKfz250s from the bridge and surrounding area.

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Troops identified as belonging to the 9thSS

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Stugs from Sturmgeschutz Brigade 280 which blocked the advance of the British 1st and Third Battalions into Arnhem and towards the bridge. Of interest is the “waffle” pattern zimmerit and the camouflage with field applied ambush dots on the side skirts.

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Movie scene from the shooting of Grabners attack for the movie A Bridge Too Far

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The scene at the bridge after the battle. Compare this devastation with the first reference picture!

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The last word goes to Sean Connery playing Major General Urquhart in the Movie A Bridge Too Far ;

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So for Bolt Action Gaming purposes the 9th SS Panzer Recce Abt unit (and with a little historical licence) will comprise;

HQ
1x Humber A/C – Grabners Humber
1x Schwimmwagen – Recce/command (4 troops)
1x 251/8 – Medical (2 medics, 2 troops )
1x 251/7 – Engineers (9 troops)
1x SP Flak – Opel Blitz and SPAA Quad20mm

AC Platoon
1x 222 – 20mm light a/c
1x 232 – 20mm heavy a/c

Recce Platoon
1x Luchs – 20mm recce light afv
1x 250/1 – SPW (5 troops)
1x 250/1 – SPW (5 troops

Heavy Support Platoon
1x 250/7 – 81mm Mortar
1x 250/8 – 75mm SPG

Infantry Platoon
2x 251/1C – 20 troops
1x Opel Blitz – 10 Troops

And yes, some actual modelling coming soon …… Q

Ersatz M10 Panzer Brigade 150 – Dragon 1/72nd Panther D and Cpl Overby conversions

New Project Ardennes Ersatz M10s . . .

A new project (among a few that I have to get around to posting) is 3x Ersatz M10s from Panzer Brigade 150 which were deployed as part of Operation Greif during the Dec ’44 Ardennes Offensive. We’re using 3x Dragon Panthers Ds and 3x conversion kits from Cpl (Ken) Overbys Motor Pool.

First a bit of pertinent history, not too much though as I’d only be regurgitating stuff that can be easily found with basic Googlefu skills.

Panzer Brigade 150 was Commanded by Otto Skorzeny of the Gran Sasso Mussolini rescue mission fame and was to be made up of three Battalions. The very short notice and the secrecy with which orders for the forthcoming Ardennes Offensive were being transmitted led to delays and shortages in rounding up the required men and equipment. Eventually about two battalions worth of men (2,500 or so) and a motley collection of captured US and British equipment was assembled at Grafenwohr in Bavaria. In the end German equipment was substituted for shortfalls with the captured equipment planned to be used in the battlegroup “spitz” or spearpoint units.

In the end three Kampgruppen (X,Y and Z) were assembled. Among the equipment issued were 5 modified Panthers (some sources say 10) with sheet metal additions to resemble the distinctive US M10 Tank Destroyers. A number of Sturmgeschutz IIIs also received some sheet metal mods but this is pretty odd considering that the US had no fixed gun Tank Destroyer equivalent to cause recognition issues with.

The battleplan (like many) turned to custard very early on in the offensive as the leading 1st and 12SS Panzer groups were slow to breakout and there were massive traffic jams on the few usable roads. The result was Brigade couldn’t be passed through and set free as intended. It was eventually combined and given orders to take and hold Malmedy on the 21st of December.

Reference pics (lifted from Web Sources and posted here only for discussion)

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Further reading and references

Jeff Dugdale – Panzer Divisions, Panzergrenadier Division and Panzer Brigades of the Army and Waffen-SS in the West, Autumn 1944-February 1945
Kurt Mehner – Die Waffen-SS und Polizei 1939-1945
Jean-Paul Pallud – Ardennes 1944: Peiper and Skorzeny
Jean-Paul Pallard – The Battle of the Bulge Then and Now.

Reference material on this unit

Jean-Paul Pallud – Ardennes 1944: Peiper and Skorzeny
Michael Schadewitz – The Meuse First and Then Antwerp
Michael Schadewitz – Zwischen Ritterkreuz und Galgen: Skorzenys Geheimunternehmen Greif in Hitlers Ardennenoffensive 1944/45

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And on to the model itself. As mentioned above we decided to use the newish Dragon Panther D as a basis for the chassis, mostly because it is one of the few Dragon Panthers available in the shops now and can be found relatively cheaply. The other part of the project is the conversion kit from Ken Overby.

The Dragon hull assembly was basic with no issues. The Panther D has a plastic hull which is a vast improvement over the old metal hulls when assembling, it also has “fast assembly” wheels with the inner joined together. Many people have issues with this but in reality they can’t be seen at all after assembly.

Fitting the hull to the Overby conversion set was a little trickier. Note this would probably be much easier with a G or Ersatz M10 kit as a donor. The stepped hull sponson of the D required trimming to nest into the conversion hull properly. Also the front of the glacis plate on the conversion set had to be thinned and trimmed, as did the inner top of the Dragon hull. All in all about 3mm of material were removed to sit the top hull down correctly.

The rest of the conversion set required the standard cleaning up as with all resin kits. Some parts were broken in the bags (turret hatches, most of the track guide teeth and three of the drivers hatches all had short shot holes in the same location which I’ll try to fill but might need replacing. Anyway no biggy, just standard modelling skills required.

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All together barring some fine details to be added later, aerials, deck screens and a few grab handles.

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cheers
Brent