Friday, 30 August 2013

Flames of War: Deutsche Afrika Korps - part one

Time for a new project: Introducing the Deutsche Afrika Korps, 21st Panzer Division. This means a new game system, Flames of War which will be my first foray into historical gaming, and a new scale to paint (15mm). I can't wait to get started...

A friend and I are putting together armies from the North Africa book and I'll be aiming to get things (vaguely) right in terms of the historical background and have selected the Battle of Alam el Halfa as the point at which to set things (late Aug/early Sept 1942). The DAK will be the 21st Panzer-Division and the British will be the 22nd Armoured Brigade who met, I think, in what was pretty much the first armoured engagement of the Battle. It also has the handy bonus of making Pip Roberts the perfect character to use (while my inclusion of Rommel is perhaps rather less based in historical fact).

After buying the Open Fire box set my next purchase was the North Africa book. I know I could have used but I prefer reading paper books. The quality of this one impressed me and it's neat that it includes army lists for both Axis and Allies.

I then began a bit of historical research. In the main this has largely taken place online with the exception of a couple of print sources: James Holland's Together We Stand: North Africa 1942-1943: Turning the Tide in The West (London: Collins, 2005) and Major-General G.P.B Roberts, Generalleutnant Fritz. Basil Bayerlein, Liddell Hart, ed. Battle Report: Alam Halfa (Combat Studies Institute, 1956). Oh, and Holland's 'Jack Tanner' novel Hellfire!


Following some helpful discussion on the Flames of War Forum we decided on the following lists:

21st Panzer-Division

Company HQ 2 Panzer III J (late)
Panzer Platoon 1: 4 Panzer III J (late)
Panzer Platoon 2: 4 Panzer III J (late)
Panzer Platoon 3: 3 Panzer IV F1
Light Panzerspäh Platoon: 1 Sd Kfz 223 (radio); 2 Kfz 222 (2cm)

22nd Armoured Brigade 

1iC, 2iC, Pip Roberts in Grant tanks
1st Troop 3 Grants
2nd Troop 3 Grants
3rd Troop 3 Grants
4th Troop 3 Honey Stuarts
5th Troop 3 Universal Carriers
Sporadic Air Support Hurricane IIB

I've been told that both lists need to invest in some smoke so I'll be looking at this as the first addition to the lists and I'd like at some point to add in British minefields and German Pioneers to play out some of the historical action but for now I think the lists above will be enough to handle in our first games.


My first job has been deciding on the paint scheme and I've been googling for images and tutorials for the last week or so and have come across quite a few that have been useful. Perhaps the most impressive was DAK Weathering 101 on on Or maybe it was this one (not on DAK tanks) by Zoolander the FOW forum. There's an interesting discussion of just how 'chipped' tanks got here on Armour Workshop. I also found the Quest Masters website helpful in determining which bits of the tracks/wheels are metal/rubber.

Colour photographs seem to be quite hard to come by (perhaps my google-fu is weak here) but I came across this one from Life:

This tank is from the Battle of El Guettar in Tunisia (1943) so it's not exactly the colour I need (it's darker I think) but it's one of the best I've found so far. Most of all I've enjoyed the generous advice of various forum members on the Flames of War Forum and on The Warhammer Forum. After much faffing about and trying to follow the advice I've been given I've settled on the following scheme:

  1. Undercoat with Halford's Grey Primer 
  2. Basecoat with VMC Iraqi Sand (airbrushed on, mixed 50/50 with Vallejo thinner, two coats) 
  3. Wash: 20% VGC Brown Ink/ 20% GW Flesh Wash/ 10% Iraqi Sand/ 50% Water (all over the model - most removed with clean wet brush from flat areas) 
  4. Basecoat Tracks: VGC Hull Red 
  5. Tracks Washed Black Ink 
  6. Tracks Drybrushed VMC Oily Steel 
  7. Rubber wheels painted black 
  8. Black lining on tank with Army Painter Dark Tone ink 
  9. Tank body tidied up with thinned VGC Iraqi Sand 
  10. Tank body highlighted with very thin VGC Ivory 
That gets you to something like this:

The next stage is detailing, applying decals (over gloss varnish), and then weathering. Most of this will be done with weathering powders if I can work out how to use them effectively (I'm going to try sealing them with AK sealant, following the advice from this Model Dads' video). While I work that out here's my recipe for paint chips: 
  1. Sponge on VMC Black Grey to the relevant edgesd 
  2. Stipple on VMC Oily Steel 
  3. 'Underline' with VMC Flat Aluminium 
Then I guess it's be time for some gloss Varnish before matting the down with Dullcote but that's getting very much ahead of myself. For now, ready for the next post, this is what I'm faced with:

Time to get building...


  1. About that "LIFE" photo. Two facts;

    - The caption is wrong. It's not at El Guettar; it's at Kzar Mezouar. This is the battle of Hunt's Gap.

    - These tanks have been exploded by engineers, which leaves them covered in dirt. You're seeing the colour of the dirt. For example, the rectangular panel in the foreground is from the INSIDE rear wall of a Tiger, and is painted blue-grey, which you would see if you were to wash the brown dirt off it.

    1. Thanks for the information, it just shows how easy it is for the non-expert (me) to be misled by idle googling. After all of the faffing about with the colour scheme I came to the decision that the vagaries of different paint, fading by the sun, and (as your post clearly demonstrates) stuff getting covered in dust it was going to be impossible for me to get it right. As historical models I very much doubt my paint schemes are up to the job, but as gaming pieces they're fine.