Sunday, 13 September 2015

A Hazy Shade of Winter- 1970s US Army in Europe

Somewhat belatedly, I suppose I’d better post up the pics of what I was working on at the time of the last post, i.e. Christmas….!

My BAOR and GSFG armies are set in the mid 80’s and in a standard, temperate, theme; this being the sort of “archetypal” appearance of both these forces. However, I’m usually on the lookout for doing something a bit different, and I always quite fancied doing an earlier US force, pre- Abrams and Bradley era.

So with this in mind I decided to start putting together a 1970s US army, since this would allow me to field the ever characterful M60, as well as all sorts of crazy shit like Sheridans, Kaiser Jeeps, Gama Goats and so on.  As an added bonus, I would get to paint them in MERDC schemes, which I’ve always found really attractive and striking. There are 6 MERDC schemes, and I decided to go for a winter theme, since I’m a sucker for snowy armies, and of the two “snow” MERDC schemes, picked the less common, brown based, scheme for open terrain (It ain’t called the Fulda Gap for nothin’!)

At the moment, there is something of a dearth of suitable figures; I despise the “burly midget” look of many of the “classic” wargames figure producers, so prefer to stick with Elhiem if at all possible, and at the time of starting there were only two suitable packs available- a fireteam set of four GIs, and a slightly “Hollywood” set of Special Forces in parkas- though this latter set would suit my purpose admirably! As far as vehicles go, the situation is much better, and as always, a trawl through Kingkit always turns up some a) bargains and b)  weird, esoteric shit that’s gonna look awesome in snowy MERDC!  So without further ado I set to raising the troops

First to be tackled were the LRRPS, the Elhiem SF pack with some ALICE packs added to confirm their SF status. I deliberately went for  quite a “blue” tinge for the parkas, based on photos I’d seen, although didn’t quite mean them to go this far, but I figure they look alright when all’s said and done…

Then it was onto the infantry. I made a few modifications to the basic sculpts- I filed off the pockets on the trousers to backdate them to the old OG-1-7s instead of BDUs, and added hoods to the jackets to “winterise” them slightly. Then it was onto the fun part, painting! I decided to do the helmets in the reversed autumn/winter side of the Mitchell cover; I have no idea how accurate this is for the time period, but I have seen it in photos of roughly this era, and thought it would match nicely the MERDC scheme on the vehicles and the groundwork on the bases. Pretty successful if I do say so myself…

Then it was onto the vehicles, and this is where it all started to go horribly wrong. I started off with an S-Models Sheridan. I can’t recommend this company’s products highly enough; crisp, clean mouldings, good instructions, excellent fit of parts, PE and decals included, and best of all you get two kits on each box! Winner! Anyway, this went together in jig time, with some stowage added from the bits box, and the fragile, kit-supplied .50 replaced with a metal one from Elhiem, and the commander’s hatch left open to take a crew figure (yes, I realise for the time frame this should have the cereal bowl armoured cupola; but in my fictional cold war the fighting’s been raging for a while now, and replacements are being sent out from old, depot stock in the US…)

Then it was onto painting. It all started well enough, the MERDC was looking shweeet, and then I hit it with gloss varnish and it all went to rat shit. Despite a successful trial run on an old kit, the acrylic spray varnish had an argument with the Humbrol enamels used to do the camouflage pattern, resulting in a crackled, rough texture on parts of the hull and turret (bizarrely, the running gear survived intact…). It looks way worse in the hand than what shows up in the pictures, so I ragequit the whole thing and fired it onto the “to do” shelf until I could decide how I was going to fix it.

And there it has lain ever since, sadly. However, since we’re now into Autumn, I reckon I’ll break out the fine grade sandpaper ad just smooth back the affected areas as best I can and re-touch them in situ, rather than starting again from scratch, ready to restart come the winter…



  1. Excellent painting on the figures! A shame what happened to the tank camo.

  2. Cheers, Moiterei, hopefully it will be getting repaired soon....