Howard Nason is one of The Calgary Regiment’s founding members. He recently completed his project on his German BP-44 Armoured Train force that he took to Kelowna. Here is the tutorial on how he made this beautiful model:
This was a treat that I bought myself back in 2013, and then decided that my goal was to get it ready for the 2014 western tournament season (which is really just ours and Kelowna’s tourneys, but “tournament season” sounds so much more impressive!) Nonetheless, there’s some stiff competition for the Best Painted Army trophy in our crowd, so I knew I had my work cut out for me this year and needed something to put me over the top.
Enter the BP-44! This is a seriously impressive model for Flames of War in its own right. I got all the options for the train, so it’s a locomotive, two artillery cars, two artillery & AA cars, two staff car models, two AT cars (with Panzer IV turret) and two Panzer 38T tanks to ride along on each end.
Fully assembled on tracks, it’s about 44” long! Considering a typical table is only 6×4’, this will be a serious ‘platoon’ to deploy in a game, and will be a huge challenge for some armies to face and a giant bullseye for others.
I’m never a threat for the Best General trophy, that much I am sure of. But doing an armoured train is all about painting up such an impressive centre piece and having some fun with it. I expect that it’ll probably get torn apart in a tourney, and that’s okay, because I hope people will just enjoy playing against it! It’s something totally new and different and I hope it gets a good laugh in all my games. So that’s the theme of the army – eye candy > function. 🙂
First phase was assembly, which was pretty time consuming and required some heavy filling and sanding, especially on the locomotive, which would have been better served as just one all resin casting, in my opinion.
My biggest delay has been in getting up the energy to tackle the radio aerial on the staff car. I’d already decided that I would only do one, which will help me differentiate between the staff car and the infantry car. But it’s a fiddly little piece that Battlefront does not provide. I decided to use brass rod to shape the aerial itself while using the BF pieces for the support struts.
Battlefront also published a PDF sheet that you could print out with a template for the antenna, which was actually quite helpful. I used that taped over a piece of wood, hammered finishing nails into the template and bent the wire around the form until I had a shape that I was satisfied with. It took two tries to get a good shape and then I soldered it together at the join.
First attempt at the antenna; not good enough!!
After some fiddly work, I attached the antenna to the car using the BF mounting struts and got it base coated. Result is OK I think. Barring a drop, it seems sturdy enough for play as well.
I really debated this for a while, having seen the gorgeous work that Warpaint Brother (WPB) and others have posted on the forums. They cut open doors, had guys sitting inside and hanging out of roof top hatches etc. But ultimately I just didn’t have the energy to get into that! LOL And besides, since they’ve already done it and done a smashing job, I’d probably only be disappointed with the results. So the train is pretty much intact an
d built out-of-the-box. a.k.a The Cop Out!
I sculpted a tarp on one of the AA cars which was more about covering up a broken piece of the side shields on that car than anything else. I sculpted a jacket draped on one of the AT cars just for fun, which will be painted up in Splinter pattern. They’ll be some of the last things I get around to painting, when I deal with crew figs and stowage to ‘dress up’ the train.
This was something that I really wrestled with for several reasons. First off, I’ve done enough of the ‘traditional’ German tri-colour camo pattern that I’d already decided I didn’t want to do any more of that! But it begged the question, if not tri-colour, then what??
At this point, I looked around for historical paint schemes and considered options there. I considered all grey, or doing Dunkelgelb with green stripes, which was another typical German pattern, but what I really wanted to showcase was some airbrush shading and weathering techniques that would (I hope) really show well on the Dunkelgelb base colour. So I needed something that would give the effect of camo without covering up too much of the yellow’ish base colour.
I wanted to use those huge slab-sided train cars to really go to town with some colour modulation (something I don’t have much experience with, and definitely not in 15mm) and chipping / scratching / weathering. My background was 1/35 scale modeling years back, and many of those techniques will work well on the train.
So I’ve accepted that I’m not g
oing to worry too much about historical accuracy in favour of picking a camo pattern that will ‘show well’. J In the end, I’ve opted for green ‘blobs’ scattered around the train, which is I think the technical term for it. ‘Blob pattern 3 Mk II’… or something… <cough>
I’ve also been having some troubles with my airbrush lately as well (some sort of air flow issue I haven’t nailed down), which isn’t giving me confidence in any really fine line work, so blobs actually work well with that!
First stage is to do some shading/fading work. I think it shows well on the locomotive which has so many small panels. (edit: okay I took a little hiatus from the documentation of my progress, so I’m lacking in some progress shots. Whoops!). From this point all photos already show the camo applied after my fading/shading efforts.
In all honesty, the engine looked pretty good but the other cars were so much surface area that I psyched myself out and ended up toning down my efforts so they’re much more subtle. I was just too nervous that it would look odd if I over did the effect of the shading and object source lighting. So most photos probably won’t capture much at all. But it does show up well especially
as the weathering starts to happen.
After I was satisfied with the effect of the shading and my camo pattern, it was time to get into the weathering.
Stage 1: paint chipping and wear & tear
This was…tedious LOL, but well worth the effort I think. I’d say I probably spent 1.5-2 hours per rail car doing paint chips. So that’s probably close to 20 hours or so invested in
this step when all was said and done.
It’s broken down into two stages. First is to use Vallejo Black Grey paint and basically work around all the high-traffic areas where people will touch, walk, or crawl, or where things open or close, slide against other parts etc. I try to put a lot of thought into how guys will move around on the train, how they’ll climb over areas etc. and then reflect that with wear and tear on the paint that shows traffic patterns.
The key is to keep the paint the right consi
stency – too watery and it just beads off the brush and makes a mess. Too dry and it doesn’t leave the tiny chips and scratches in the effect you want. So it’s important to stop and clean the brush constantly. Also keeping the paint free-flowing on the palette is important, and I usually squeeze a drop or two of water on top of the paint.
Second phase is to use Vallejo German Camo Black Brown, which is a very deep rich brown colour. I go over much of the chips and worn off areas again which gives it greater depth and imparts a rusty look to it all. I think it was “WPB” on the Battlefront forum that recommended that colour or something similar, and it was an instant win when I tried it – I was immediately pleased with the results. I was heading in the wrong direction, looking at more orange rust tones.
Again, it’s all about paint consistency and managing the tip of your brush for this effect. It takes practice to make it look like a chip through the actual painted steel and not just a sloppy streak of paint that’s not convincing. There are definitely some areas that didn’t click, and had to be worked on much more to get the effect right.
Stage 2 is an artist’s oil paint pin wash
This is always a satisfying phase. I use odourless turpentine and squeeze out some artists oils (see pic). My pallet is a ceramic tile because there’s no absorption, and when I’m done
for the night I put it into a big Ziploc bag. Oil paints will keep for days or even weeks and you can keep ‘reactivating’ the paint with the spirits.
A warning though. You need to seal your project between the layers of oil products, otherwise the next stage will simply end up wiping off the previous stage as soon as you start painting.
So for the pin wash I just mixed up the brown and black to the shades I liked and then made a big puddle of wash on the tile. I load up the brush and then touch it to all the rivets, panel lines and corners on the car. If you’re not happy with the result when it dries, you can wet a brush with turpentine and tone it down afterwards, which is a great feature of oils. They also give just a wonderful overall appearance to the model that I don’t get with acrylic washes.
Once dry after a day (a wash like this dr
ies pretty quickly because the turps evaporate), I dull coat the model.
Stage 3 is rust streaking
I tried a new product that I found just for this project. “AK rust streaks“. After a really good shake I dip the brush into the cap and try to get a good load of pigment. Then I use a dry flat-headed brush to pull the streak downwards to represent all the rain streaking the rust down the side of the car. Put some thought into what areas will rust, how the rain will run across the roof and down the side and where it will sit and pool at times. Again, dull coat the model to protect this layer from the next stage.
(Sorry I forgot to get a shot after the pin wash and rust streaks, but in the next photo you can see the wash around all the hatches etc., and the rust streaks are pretty evident.)
Stage 4 is general grime streaking
Again this was an AK product I’d not used before. I used the same method above to create streaks but made wider paint streaks and
used a wider flat head brush. For this effect I wanted to try to show the rain washing dust and grime off the roof and down the sides of the car and then drying in streaks. Also, I used a heavier application around the underside of the train, where all the grease, soot and grime from the rails will be picked up a
nd deposited on the train.
It’s not terribly evident in the photo, but had I remembered to take a before/after shot, it definitely adds to the ‘griminess’ of the train.
Finally we enter the final phases which revolve around finishing the crew figures off and adding stowage. Realistically I felt there wouldn’t be much stowage visible on the exterior of the train. Unlike a tank, the train should have ample room inside to hold kit bags, helmets, weapons etc. But one key area where I figured there would be loads of gear was on the Anti-Tank cars on each end. They’re basically handy little flat bed cars, so I used some old wood pieces I had that matched the approximate size of the track ties on the Battlefront pre-painted train tracks. Cut to size and painted a dark grey/black with a lighter drybrush, they make a good start for the stowage; surely the train would carry some basic supplies to repair damaged road beds!
The Anti-Tank cars got special treatment on the flat beds with excessive paint wear, lots of grime and oil stains as well. I wanted to have lots of chains piled up and stored in bins on the AT cars (seems like another handy thing that would be kept on board), so I picked up some scale model ship anchor chain a
t the hobby shop. It was a shiny new chain, so I also used a product I picked up ages ago for my 1/35 Panther kit, which has after-market metal tank tracks. This product is a chemical solution called “Blacken-It” which basically oxidizes metal –perfect for making real metal tank tracks look all blackened and rusted, and just what I needed to tone down that crazy shiny copper chain.
Quick word of caution, this stuff is nasty with a big ‘Poison’ warning on the side, so handle carefully.
I cut sections off the chain and dropped it into the solution for about 2 minutes. The reaction is pretty quick, and as you can see in the photos below it’s a dramatic change. I rinsed them in water after and then let them dry out. Once dry, I spread a little super glue with a toothpick and then piled the chains up where I wanted them. I’ll do some oils and pigments on them (I have some rust pigment I want to try out), so help weather them some more and also make sure none of the shiny super glue is showing up around the edges.
The rest of the chain is still in the package and compare that to the chains on the AT cars and a bit hanging off the tender car. You can also see the railroad ties on the back in the one shot. So I’m very pleased with how things are moving along on the AT cars. Still have to finish the crew figures and add some Jerry cans and other items, but so far so good.
ack plastic I had lying around. I stretched out two thicknesses that looked appropriate for scale 20mm and 37mm guns, painted the strands brass and then used a sharp knife to cut off appropriate lengths to represent empty casings for the two AA cars . Results are farther down in the finished pictures (note the two different sizes), but I loved the result. Thanks Geoff!
Below, the locomotive, pretty much finished. I found an Afrika Korps figure that looked just perfect to chop up and fit in the window for an engineer, and glued together a smoke plume as well.