The final installment of my earlier work is this Panzer IIC platoon. This platoon has been sitting on my painting desk being 98% finished for a long time now. The reason being is that I had worked solidly on the tanks and when they were complete I realised that I had neglected to paint a commander. It’s strange thing but, for me, I find that painting vehicles and equipment requires a completely different mindset than painting infantry and so when I had completed the tanks I postponed on painting the commander to a later date.
I have been posting my work in the order that they have been completed in order to keep track of my progression. After my last miniature post I remembered that I still had yet to complete the Panzer IIs and so I moved this to the top of the painting queue. The only new work on these tanks is the commander, I managed to resist the urge to go over them, ‘fixing’ various aspects that I didn’t like.
These are my first pieces where I used an airbrush to paint. Around that time I attended a model railway expo and had decided to take the plunge and purchase an airbrush setup. I had been on the fence for a while and after lots of research and seeing what others had accomplished with an airbrush I decided to take the plunge. If nothing else it appealed to my nature of liking “over engineered solutions”. I found that using an airbrush to paint miniatures has a very steep learning curve, however I persevered and here are the results.
Poland was a runaway success and now it was time to take our victorious machines into French countryside. These tanks were to be veterans with the look that they had been doing some cross-country work. At first I wanted these tanks to be able to be used in as many theatres as possibly. However, after some research I realised that I would have to make a decision and pick a theatre. This was due to way that the German tank markings changed as the war progressed. As I had chosen to base my tanks on the 7th Panzer Division I decided what better theatre would there be to model this platoon on than France?
This was my first use of an airbrush and what I liked most about using the airbrush was the finish that it gives. The paint coat is even and thin which really helps to highlight and pick out the detail. This was also my first foray into tank weathering. I read up on paint chipping and gave it a shot. I like the way that it turned out on these Panzers and I have developed this technique further on later pieces. On this occasion I used sponge chipping and a white pencil to do the chip highlights.
A lot of reference photos I had seen showed lots of hand painted numbers and balkenkreuz’ on earlier tanks. I emulated this by not using decals for the numbers and balkenkreuz and hand painting them. These turned out well and I like the way that the weathering gives them that worn feel.
Well I tried to be more positive for this reflection however there are definitely things that I would like to improve on. Firstly I went for the German Grey/Chocolate Brown camo pattern. There a few things wrong with it and major problem that I see with it is the contrast; there just isn’t enough. It just blends too well together, gets lost, and feels monotone unless you are looking for it. I have some ideas on how to improve the contrast, the first being that I won’t try to be clever and use the airbrush to make it a soft edged camo pattern.
The next point for consideration is that I feel that the German Grey is too dark. I’m not sure whether it was the batch of paint but it was dark, the thing is that the next bottle of German Grey I got was even darker! I will look to work on paint modulation and doing a German Grey/London Grey mix to get the colour that I want.
Looking at the completed tanks again I realised that I had missed picking out some tools and detail on the tank hulls. It was due mainly to me not realising what they actually were, like for instance the sledgehammers and the spare road wheels. Also the exhausts could be hit up with some rust and soot effects. So I have to make sure that I keep doing my research on the pieces that I am working on so that I don’t regret missing items later on.
Finally for some reason I didn’t get the tank commander with the beret so I settled for this figure. I don’t really like this figure because he has a fat head, there was no getting around it. I had to use all the paint tricks that I had to ‘slim’ down his profile. If I get this tank commander again I will definitely get my scalpel out and carve him down a bit.
Being an older piece of work I always have a lot of criticism upon reflection, that being said overall I do like the models and the way that they turned out. This was my first introduction into the early war tanks and there is something endearing about awkward lines and small size of these tin cans. I love taking the Panzer IIs around for a spin in World of Tanks and firing their pee-shooter of a gun at far superior Russian equivalents. I have more early war tanks and pieces lined up in the future which will benefit greatly from what I have learned on this platoon.
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