Friday, 20 December 2013

...Do As The Romans Do

Hi everyone!

It’s James again and this is the second blog post I've written about my first Flames of War Company, which as you found out in the first blog, is an Eastern Front Battaglione Alpini.

In the first blog I wrote about why I chose this army, so when I thought about what to write for the second blog, the first thing that came to mind was to write about the Italian national rules and how I’d use them in my opening games… 
The Unknown Hero, jacket off, shirt unbuttoned and sleeves rolled up 
ready for action!
Seeing as Ben and I have my first proper game booked and he’s also the person I’m submitting blogs to for editing and posting, I think I’ll keep my tactics and ideas quiet for a few more weeks so that I might still provide the odd challenge as his Soviets roll over the poor Italians!

So this blog will be about the collecting, modelling and painting of my first units and an Italian tactics blog will appear soon after along with a battle report.
The latest unit finished: 100/17 Howitzer Platoon
As a keen gamer, the first thing I did once I’d made up my mind to collect a Flames of War army was read and re-read Eastern Front and to purchase the company organisation charts for this book on Easy Army. This led to hours of clicking, sums, researching paint schemes and gazing at models and articles on Battlefront’s website before I eventually made my first order!
One of the many lists
Seeing as I’ve started many a project in the past by ordering the whole army in one go and then failing to paint it, I ordered enough for my first Combat Platoon and HQ and made a promise to paint everything I bought before I bought the next section of the army… Something I’ve actually stuck to over the last year, which is why the collection has taken so long to assemble and why it’s all painted! When looking at the combat platoons though, I noticed that each Platoon of Alpini comes with nine Rifle or Rifle/MG teams I have had to cobble together an extra stand from extra command teams for each of the three platoons I’ve painted so far.
My first finished platoon and Company HQ.
Once the models arrived through the post I set about cleaning them up and getting them ready for assembly but also got out the modelling putty to sculpt the feathers and bosses for their helmets. This seemed daunting at first, and it does add an extra hour or so to the construction of every platoon but it’s worth it to properly customize the models and make them Alpini!
The Boss
I followed the guide on the Battlefront website for the feathers, first applying a tiny dot for the boss before adding a tiny sausage shaped bit of putty for the feather and using a sculpting tool to shape the boss and the sharp edge on the tool to cut lines into the feather to define it. It’s important to keep your fingers, the tools and the putty wet whilst you do this otherwise the modelling putty will stick to anything except the helmet of the model you’re converting!
The feather putty added
The feathers I’ve sculpted are slightly larger than those in the guide. At first this was due to my skill level, but after a lot of practice I found that whilst I could reduce the size of the feathers, I preferred them slightly bigger than they should be so that they actually stand out and can be seen.
The feather and boss sculpted
Next I turned to basing and have tried several different types of air drying putties, fillers and such instead of sands or grits because the stands I had available were flat and I wanted to blend each figures base into the stand properly. This, indirectly, is also why I based my light tanks and self-propelled guns. I didn’t want my infantry to tower over the vehicles so gave them a few extra millimetres of height. By using modelling clay for these bases and an unpainted vehicle hull I was able to leave track marks on the base, making the tank look as if it was advancing.

Once this was done, I undercoated the models with a good undercoat black spray and prepared for painting. After some research into the variation and colour of the Alpini’s kit during the war I settled on a colour scheme similar to the picture below but adapted it slightly to make the models and details stand out and to make sure that I could use the paints I owned could be used.
Picture copied from:
When the Italians created the 8th Italian Army on the Eastern Front they didn’t send many tanks with their infantry and at some of the tanks they did send were still in desert colours! These tanks didn’t really blend in to the Russian Steppe and so Italian tank crews slathered their tanks in mud to help them blend in as they advanced to the River Don.  To represent this, I painted all the tanks I have in desert colours and then used textured paint to apply patches of mud to the model before dry brushing this to add a bit of depth!
L6/40 tanks on the advance, armour plates covered in mud!
So next time, hopefully after a few games (if you’re in the Bournemouth or Southampton area, message me and we can organize a game if you’d like) I’ll write about tactics, Italian rules and force organisation… but instead of the very useful analogy of a making a good stew
… It’ll be: Making a Good Calzone!
Avanti Savoia!

Happy war gaming everyone!

James McMeiken


  1. Nice looking troops...and calzone!

  2. It was an awesome Pizza from Pisa!

    If anyone ever visits the town the restaurant is worth a visit even though it looks a little shabby its where all the locals go.

  3. Great post James. I'm impressed by the research you've done, it's really added a lot of character to your army. Good luck for the first game!