Panzer III J Platoon

When I first saw the painted models of these tanks they felt, to me, like the iconic representation of German tank forces during the Eastern campaigns. It hasn’t got the thickest armour, nor does it have an overly impressive gun, however with these workhorse vehicles the Wehrmacht was able to accomplish some astounding feats. In Flames of War they may not be the best in terms of value for points, however when I do play I will most certainly try to include them in any force that I field. With this in mind I wanted to achieve a good finish befitting this often overlooked tank of the German armoured forces.

It has been a while since I painted this platoon. I am still working my way through already completed models. This is the first tank platoon that I have ever painted. I used my experiences with painting the Stug A and adjusted where I felt necessary. I also attempted to incorporate new techniques discovered from research and from reviewing other people’s work.

I used the Battlefront German Armour spray for the base coat. I discovered numerous issues associated with utilising this product which I will share so that hopefully others can avoid the mistakes that I made. Not having used a product like this before I was pleased find that there was an option available that would speed up the painting process as well as provide a good base from which to work from. What I learned was that using a spray for the base coat actually took far longer and was more difficult to work with than what I had anticipated. Not having an Airbrush at this stage I was happy to invest in a spray can of German Armour so that I could avoid messy brush strokes and create a good even finish.

First issue I encountered was that the resin is grey and the German Armour spray paint is grey. So naturally I was having problems determining how much spray was being applied. This led to over application spray paint in my first attempt. Once I looked at the models I realised my mistake as the detail was becoming obscured. I quickly cleaned all of the models in a bath of methylated spirits. This was probably not the best manoeuvre however it achieved the purpose and stripped off the freshly sprayed paint. On a side note, the process of cleaning obliterated the toothbrush I was using; it literally disintegrated in my hands. So after they were cleaned and dried I attempted to spray again. This time I sprayed at a distance ‘through’ the models with smooth, controlled strokes. I ensured that I hit the models from every angle with a very light coat. Then, after an hour or two, I came back and repeated the process; making sure that I went over the spots that I had missed. One final note, if the spray is going on looking ‘wet’ then you are probably putting on too much paint, adjust your distance and the speed of your spray stroke.

The next issue was encountered when I first started applying the shading and washes to the models. The German Armour spray goes on glossy. It has a really nice finish however I found it really difficult using my white painting light to determine where and how much shading had been applied. At some angles it would look like I had not shaded at all, even though I had applied a couple of layers of shading. I was worried that the final finish would not turn out how I had expected. Initially I was finding that the only way to determine how the shading was looking I had to look at the detail from multiple angles, which was frustrating. Then I discovered that if I hit the area up with water it would counter the reflective surface whereby I could see the final true finish. If you are doing this only apply the water once the shading has long since dried and use a moist soft bristled brush.

Finally the last major issue encountered while using the spray was that the German Armour colour does not match the Vallejo German Grey. It is a few shades darker and slightly ‘bluer’. I only discovered this when I made a mistake that needed touching up. I rectified this by mixing up my own blend of Vallejo paints; unfortunately I can not recall the formula that I used. Even with an approximated colour I used a thin black filter over the panels that I was touching up in order to get a smooth blend between the base coat and the corrective colour.

I do have some positive points about using the spray that I will quickly go over. The spray time, when I determined the correct technique, was relatively quick. The finish is quite nice and ‘feels’ correct. In addition to this the paint is very strong; it adheres to the model well and is difficult to chip.

Now onto my thoughts on the finished pieces. I like the way that these tanks turned out. Obviously I have a bias due to my like of the model itself. The simple colour scheme of German Grey can be made to look nice and intricate and I feel have done an acceptable job. I don’t feel like I executed the mud the way that I wanted. This was my first foray into using pigments. Also I could have played a little more with creating complexity with the finish. I come back and look at these tanks with a more experienced eye, yet I am still fond of them. Perhaps it is because they are my first tank platoon. However I have since seen some additional techniques that can be used that would really make the scheme stand out, namely through colour modulation. I have also since learned of other techniques that I could use, like paint chipping and weather effects, to give a more realistic finish. Lastly I have since become a lot more intolerant of molding flaws and I will look to correct the mistakes even if it takes a lot of effort. I can see a few problems that needed correction before the paint hit the model, however I vowed to not repaint/correct old painted models.

I am attempting to model my tanks to be from the 7th Panzer Division – 25th Panzer Regiment. You will notice the later 7th Panzer Division symbol since the Panzer III J was made post 1940 after the division adopted a new symbol. I picked this Panzer Division because of its history as well as the fact that it fought during all stages of the war, providing ample modelling opportunities.

As always thank you for viewing and feel free to comment, discuss, or ask questions.

I have corrected the comment options so that you no longer require an email

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