Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 1942

Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 1942

Postby MikeRC97 » 21 Nov 2015

Hello All,

First post! I've lurked on these boards for a long time, I finally registered because I wanted to share pictures of the project I’ve been working on for over a year now, 1/72 scale figures and vehicles representing Infantry Division (mot.) Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) in Summer 1942. I recently posted these pictures on Benno's Figures Forum but I wanted to share them here as well because I have found so much inspiration for this project here on the guild.

For anyone not familiar with Grossdeutschland, the Wikipedia page is a good overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panzer-Grenadier-Division_Gro%C3%9Fdeutschland

My primary resource for the project is the excellent book God, Honor, Fatherland: A Photo History of Panzergrenadier Division Grossdeutschland on the Eastern Front 1942-1944.

The figures are from Zvezda and organized for the Rapid Fire rules. The vehicles are a mix, but will be replaced later with Dragon Models (expensive but I often find them on sale). With a few modifications both forces will be usable for Battlegroup Barbarossa or Battlegroup Kursk.

As many of you probably know, Rapid Fire uses a figure ratio of 1:15 (1:5 for guns and vehicles). The basic unit in RF is a battalion of 3 companies, each of 8 – 9 figures plus HQ of 6 figures. The Battlegroup rules, which are 1:1, use the same number of figures for a platoon.

Here is Battalion HQ (platoon command in Battlegroup). Clearly visible on the two figures on the right is the famous Grossdeutschland cuff title. I need to paint one more figure for this group.
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First company, 1 LMG as per a Battlegroup squad.
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Second company. Slight conversion on the running figure making him an ammo bearer (he and the squad leader make a nice mini-diorama).
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Third company. Note that the lack of APCs; in 1942 motorized infantry rode in trucks but disembarked before marching into the combat area. In the GD photo history, there are pics of GD soldiers riding on StuGs in Summer 1942 much like Soviet tank riders.
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Support weapons. The tripod mount on the left has been converted to an upright position; the gunner is from the reconnaissance team AoT set. Grossdeutschland battalions had twice the number of MMGs and medium mortars of a standard motorized rifle battalion but for now I have just the standard amount for a RF battalion.
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Medium MG team from Zvezda set 6106, the loader is actually the same figure as the gunner with a right arm swap.
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A couple of shots of the converted MMG - the gunner's body is from Zvezda set 6153 German Reconnaissance Team with arms from the gunner in the MG set, the arm holding the MG is perfect for this body because it aligns the tripod MG sight to his eye.
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Medium mortar team from Zvezda set 6111. The two loaders are identical figures with some of the gear modified.
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Infantry gun for the heavy company from Zvezda set 6156 with a second loader from set 6114 (Pak 36). This is a great little model from Zvezda, I love how the figure in the foreground interacts with the gun.
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Pak 38 from the heavy company. This is a kit bash of the Plastic Soldier Company Pak 38 and the Caesar Miniatures SdKfz 10 with 50mm Pak 38. The PSC gun is a nice model, but simplified, which is why I had the idea of kit-bashing it with the gun from Caesar (the SdKfz 10 will be the gun’s prime mover). The Caesar gun has a lot of detail but is way over scale. Some of the gun team figures have also been converted.
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I didn't use any of the PSC figures as they are late war so the gunner is from the Zvezda Pak 36 set, the loader is the pioneer figure with flamethrower from Zvezda set 6110 (with a round from the PSC set) and the team leader is the ammo carrier from the Zvezda big box set 8078 with arms from the PSC set.
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The Soviet battalion HQ (platoon HQ in Battlegroup) including anti-tank rifle team. The Soviets stopped development of anti-tank rifles prior to the German invasion because they believed AT rifles would be useless against the heavy armor they expected to face. After the invasion they began producing large numbers of AT rifles and by Summer 1942 each Soviet rifle battalion had an AT rifle platoon, the parent regiment had a company (x 3 platoons), and the parent division had two additional AT rifle companies. This is what led to the Germans adopting side skirts in Spring 1943 as these were meant to protect the parts of the Panzer / StuG III and Panzer IV still vulnerable to AT rifle fire.
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First company, I’ve painted the figures from the Zvezda big box to look like they’re wearing the m35 gymnastiorka without shoulder boards so that they are appropriate for 1942.
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Second company.
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Third company. Some of the figures are from the Zvezda small set 6179 but I have swapped most of the SVT40s for Mosin-Nagant rifles. In early 1941 the Red Army had plans to equip all riflemen with the semi-automatic SVT40 and there were large numbers in use during the German invasion but the weapon was difficult to maintain and therefore declined in use in 1942 while the number of PPSh-41 submachine guns gradually increased.
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For a Battlegroup platoon I will need a fourth rifle squad.

Support weapons.
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Maxim MG team with a third figure from set 6135 Soviet Anti-Tank Team.
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Maxim MG team from set 6104 with a third figure from the big box set 8077.
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Medium mortar team from set 6109 with a third figure from set 6112 Soviet 45mm Anti-Tank Gun. Great little model of the 82mm mortar from Zvezda.
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The M37 45mm Anti-Tank Gun (set 6112) – this was a licensed copy of the German 37mm Pak36 with a larger caliber barrel and spoked wheels (they are solid in the model). The gunner is actually from the mortar set 6109 pictured above, the figure works great with this set as it looks like he is opening the breech for the loader.
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Infantry gun team from set 6145. The gun commander is from set 6193 Soviet Sniper Team. I liked that he had the pilotka sidecap like the figures in the infantry gun set – no cowardly steel helmets for these brave sons of Mother Russia!
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Next up, tanks. In 1942 Grossdeutschland had a Panzer battalion with one company of Panzer IV F1/F2s and two companies of Panzer III Js with the long barrel. I wanted to practice painting armor so I picked up some wargame kits to work on before I try painting the Dragon Models I have in my stash.

Fast build Panzer III Js by Italeri (two per box). These models have nice details for a wargame kit; the one negative is the lack of detail or guide teeth on the tracks.
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Panzer IV F1 from Plastic Soldier Company. Not a bad kit, but a lot of the details are simplified and some of the variants covered by the kit are missing key details (such as the single baffle round muzzle brake on the F2). Nice tracks, much better than Italeri’s. The decals here are from PSC, this model was just for practice. I have decals from Echelon with the unique markings used by GD on their Panzer IVs in 1942 that I'm saving for the Dragon models.
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There are three tanks in the box but only one pictured above. Initially I painted all three in panzer grey, but GD Panzer IVs in June 1942 were painted in two tone camo (as were many vehicles in Southern Russia in 1942). I have a nice dual action airbrush but I couldn’t get the soft edge camo on the other two tanks to look right. I primarily airbrush with Vallejo Air, good for base-coating, but the overspray makes it tough to do soft edge camo. After repeated attempts I gave up on the other two, something to try again later using Tamiya.

Last (for now) a UM T-34 m1940 with F-34 gun, kit-bashed with the tracks and running gear from a Pegasus Hobbies T-34/76. I can’t recommend this kit – I got it on sale just to practice on a real model kit, but the details are a bit soft. Worse yet is that it is super fiddly to assemble and some of the parts just would not go together well. I got through the body and turret before I gave up on trying the length and link tracks and decided to use the parts from the Pegasus kit. For all the trouble it was to assemble, I think it painted up nicely.
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Recently I've been practicing two tone soft edge camo for the Panzer IVs, this time with the newer Italeri fast build kit. I should have pics soon.

Beyond that, I have plans for units from the GD reconnaissance battalion and sturmpionier battalion. After that, on to Summer 1943 for Battlegroup Kursk.

Thanks for taking the time to read this very long post, any feedback is appreciated.

EDIT: Almost two years after originally posting this I went back to replace the now dead Photobucket links with new pics I uploaded to imgur. I also consolidated a later update on the support weapons and gun crews into this post.
Last edited by MikeRC97 on 30 Sep 2017, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby mausmann » 21 Nov 2015

Welcome onboard....... :hello:

And a great first post, super painting and work all round.... :clapping: :clapping: :clapping: :clapping: :clapping:
Thanx for posting... :thumbsup:
"And this too, shall pass away..."

It was a very old platitude, even then........
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby Ray » 21 Nov 2015

:thumbsup:
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby start_the_purple » 21 Nov 2015

:good: :clapping: :thumbsup:
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby hincmar » 21 Nov 2015

Welcome to the show!

Great first post. Nice painting and a really interesting subject.
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby evilmuppet » 26 Nov 2015

:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby MikeRC97 » 15 Dec 2015

Thanks to all for the welcome messages and kind words.

Update: I mentioned in the original post that I tried (unsuccessfully) to airbrush two tone soft edge camo using Vallejo Air. I like Vallejo Model Color, the paints come in a wide range of colors, provide solid coverage and dry very matte. I use them for most of my historical figures. My experience with Vallejo Model Air has been mixed. They have the same advantage of a wide range of colors, but the viscosity and opacity varies from color to color, which matters a lot when airbrushing. When I tried to freehand soft edge camo using Vallejo Air there was a lot of overspray. Even when I tried to paint a straight line on practice paper the line was very fuzzy, if I lowered the pressure to get in close the nozzle kept clogging and if I thinned the paint to compensate for the reduced pressure the paint went watery right away. After multiple attempts I decided that I needed to try something different. I noticed that on scale model forums Tamiya paints were very popular and many of the modelers mentioned spraying Tamiya paints with lacquer thinner. While I wasn’t thrilled about spraying paints with a toxic thinner that has a strong odor, I decided to give it a try before the weather got too cold to airbrush with the windows open. The good news is that it worked as advertised, using the lacquer thinner I was able to thin the Tamiya paints down to a ratio close to 70% thinner / 30% paint which allowed me to turn the pressure way down to 10 psi and get in really close. On practice paper I sprayed thin lines that looked like they were done with a pen. There is some loss of opacity, but the paints don’t go watery (lacquer is a solvent) and none of the dry tip you usually get with acrylics.

So here is the result from my first attempt at two tone soft edge camo using Tamiya and lacquer thinner. The kit is the Italeri fast build Panzer IV F1/F2 kit that was released about a year ago. First my thoughts on the kit: I like it; it seems to be based on the Italeri 1/35 scale Panzer IV F2 kit. I say that because like the 1/35 kit, the fast build kit (incorrectly) includes the Bosch headlights that were introduced on the late ausf G (the F2 should have a single Notek light which is missing from this kit). Other than the headlights (which I left off) it makes a very accurate ausf F2 including the ball shaped single baffle muzzle brake that was introduced with the F2. There are a few negatives, like the fast build Pz III the tracks have no detail and no guide teeth (the latter just seems lazy by Italeri). Also the turret side hatches have been molded in place with some loss of definition (on the Plastic Soldier Panzer IV they are a separate piece and look much better). My only other criticism is that the OVM tools look a bit under scale (the S hook in particular) whereas on the Pz III kit the OVM tools seemed to be over scale, which makes them easier to paint and they just look better.
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Getting back to the color scheme, the two tone camo is very visible in pictures of Grossdeutschland Panzer IVs from Summer 1942, but the pictures are in black and white. The common assumption seems to be that the camo is Panzer Grey and yellow brown (gelbbraun RAL 8000) which was used in Africa in 1941. These are the colors I went with, and you can see the results here. In some spots there is a little bit of overspray from the german grey, spraying thin lines on practice paper is a lot easier than spraying on a three dimensional object. On the scale model forums the guys talk about spraying with the airbrush pointed towards the inside of the camo edge, probably a lot easier on 1/35 AFVs and 1/48 aircraft than on 1/72 AFVs! As with all things airbrush - practice, practice and more practice.
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While I’m much happier with this attempt, I don’t love the color scheme, the contrast between the colors seems to strong. I’m going to paint the second tank in the Italeri kit in the 1941 DAK camo colors of yellow brown and grey green (graugrun RAL 7008), which is a viable alternative as there were tanks intended for North Africa shipped to the eastern front in early 1942.
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As always, any feedback is appreciated. Also, if anyone has been successful spraying fine lines without overspray with Vallejo Air please let me know how you did it – I really prefer not to use toxic thinners as I don’t have a spray booth.

EDIT: Almost two years after originally posting this I went back to replace the now dead Photobucket links with new pics I uploaded to imgur.
Last edited by MikeRC97 on 29 Sep 2017, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby Piers » 15 Dec 2015

Nice work! :hello:
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby MikeRC97 » 15 Dec 2015

Thanks Piers. I have admired your models (and those of mausmann and many others here on the Guild) for quite some time.
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby Peterh » 15 Dec 2015

excellent and prolific first post!
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby gorgarrak » 15 Dec 2015

:clapping: :clapping: :clapping: :clapping:
An excellent first topic, your armour looks a treat. I'm a big fan of those Zvezda kits too, keep up the great work :thumbsup:

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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby MikeRC97 » 11 Dec 2016

It has been a while but I finally have some updates. First up is a new German command group using the figures from the Zvezda set 6133 along with one figure (on the far right) from the Zvezda big box set 8078. This group could be a regimental, battalion or kampfgruppe HQ for Rapid Fire or elements of a Battlegroup Kursk German Infantry Division HQ group (which I equate to Company Command).
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These three figures will be a Forward HQ for Battlegroup Kursk (I will be using most of the same figures from my 1942 Rapid Fire project for BGK).
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These two figures will be a Comms Relay Team for Battlegroup Kursk. Sadly this set of German figures (and their Soviet counterparts) are the only 1/72 figures Zvezda released in 2016. They're not even new - they were exclusive to the original "Art of Tactic" box game. Zvezda recently released their 2017 catalog and once again the only "new" 1/72 figures in 2017 will be HQ figures (this time in winter dress) that were previously exclusive to the Battle of Moscow box game.
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Here is the Battalion Command Group from my original post, I added the sixth figure (on the far left) required for a Battlegroup Kursk Grenadier Platoon Command Squad.
The new figure is from the big box set 8078; I gave him a white armband that marks him as an auxiliary stretcher bearer. The armband should have the word "hilfskrankenträger" on it but I couldn't get the text to look right, so I just left it white for now. I had the same issue when I tried to paint the letters on the Grossdeutschland arm cuff, I don't stress out about leaving out small details because in reality they wouldn’t be visible at this scale.
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The last new addition to the project (for now) is an assault pioneer company (squad in battlegroup) using the figures from Zvezda set 6110 along with a few figures from the big box set 8078. In 1942 Grossdeutschland had a motorized Sturmpionier battalion with three companies which could operate together as a single unit or separately as part of a battlegroup.
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Close up of the figure holding a Wien 41 mine-detector.
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Figure with wire cutters.
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Figure with Flammenwerfer 41.
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For the prone figure I painted a white stripe around the base of his grenade which marks it as a smoke hand grenade (Nebelhandgranaten 39). Smoke screens and MG covering fire were an important part of an infantry assault.
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Next I'm going to add a couple of units to the Soviet force - I'll post pics soon as they are done.

EDIT: Almost one year after originally posting this I went back to replace the now dead Photobucket links with new pics I uploaded to imgur.
Last edited by MikeRC97 on 29 Sep 2017, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby Powermonger » 12 Dec 2016

Nice figures! Keep posting!
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby Phil Robinson » 12 Dec 2016

Nice to see the project progressing, good stuff :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby Richard B. » 12 Dec 2016

Better than any of mine - well done mate :thumbsup:
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby hincmar » 12 Dec 2016

Great project. Love all the research you have done and the figures look excellent.
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby MikeRC97 » 12 Dec 2016

Thank you all, praise for this project means a lot coming from the members of this forum whose work I have admired for years.
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby mausmann » 12 Dec 2016

Cracking work, keep 'em coming..... :clapping: :clapping: :clapping: :clapping:
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby MaaX » 13 Dec 2016

Nice models. How do you find the Zvezda infantry platoon? I gave up on them as the plastic was very slippery and resistant to any glue I've used.
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Re: Grossdeutschland (and their Soviet opponents) Summer 194

Postby MikeRC97 » 13 Dec 2016

Thanks Maax.

I find that on many of the figures the fit of pegs that connect the seperate parts is tight enough that glue isn't necessary. But where I did use glue I used Model Master Liquid Cement (the one with the long needle like applicator) and it worked just fine. I highly recommend that product.

The most annoying thing about the plastic is cleaning the mold lines, especially on the helments. You can't scrape it off like hard plastic, you have to slice it off as much as possible then sand down what's left. That is the only thing about these sets that puts me off but they are great looking. Some of the newer sets come in a harder plastic that is much easier to work with.
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