Saturday, April 4, 2015

Creating Winter Germans for Bolt Action



About 6 weeks ago I read a post by Andy Singleton, a great Bolt Action modeler and painter, about his Winter Germans kitbashes. His original blogpost is here and I really recommend it. I was instantly swayed to do something like that myself and asked him some questions on how to go about it. He was great and didn't feel bad about me copying him, which I really respect. Warlord, for which Andy paints regularly, published some notes on Andy's painting on this Warlord page on how to paint Ostfront Germans, but Andy didn't delve into how he built the models in the first place and I figured I could give that a shot.

Warlord, the company that created Bolt Action, currently does NOT have a plastic range of Winter Germans in it's assortment. They recently released a few older, metal sculpts, and there are other companies that also have a handful of sculpts available, like Artizan. But despite the fact that there is a new army book about the Ostfront out, and they recently released a plastic set of Winter Russians, the plastic Germans are missed sorely.

So following Andy Singleton's idea, I created a bunch of Winter Germans, using the Late War Germans and the Winter Russians. Here's a groupshot of a finished squad. The silver model is an Artizan model, a machine gun loader, that I could not create myself.
The first job, when starting this project, is to choose heads for the soldiers. There should be a mixture of helmets, fur flap hats, caps and random headgear, like show in the first picture of the post.
For the helmeted heads, I cut off the helmet of a German and the face of a Russian, like this:
It's challenging and I messed up a few heads before I got it right. For the Russian head, this is a good one to use:
There is plenty of historical evidence about Germans wearing Russian flap hats, and so some of my models have a straight Russian head, but make sure to cut off the little star on the front. 

The soldier below has a Russian face with a German Wool field cap, using the same method as show above and giving the squad a bit of visual variety.
Once you have resolved the head modeling, move on to the bodies. Some of the German soldiers in Russia wore greatcoats, like you can see on the cover of this Osprey book:
My goal is to create Germans in snowy conditions, so greatcoats really look the part. The Winter Russian kit comes with great looking coats, using these Russian coats with the German helmets and kits for the late war German box set, it really works well together. 
Of course the pouches don't match in shape and amount; German soldiers wore three, squarish ones in a row, not two, but some of that can be fixed by modeling the arms in front of the belt and hiding that.
A lot of soldiers wore a white canvas over their greatcoat. To recreate that, use some of the 'quilted' winter Russians. and use green stuff to cover the whole body. Of course I had to cut of all the pouches and the sling.

and the final model:
Although we associate the great coats with the winter armies of the Germans and they are fun to model with, most of the German soldiers had and preferred the reversible white/camo outfit, sometimes quilted for warmth. Here's an example, a spring parka from the middle-late war period.
It's easy to see that keeping the jacket white was not easy!

Here's my take on creating one of those:
I used a quilted Russian and shaved off all the lines from the quilts, like you can see in the left image of the composite about making the white canvas.
Then I used some epoxy to bring the pants down and creat a hood. I used the Late War German arms, a bit thin, but it will have to do.
Below is a model with the great coat arms, and I shaved off the cuff, so it looks thicker. I sculpted the pant bottoms on this one as well.

All the models were based on a rubble/brick base, imagining  a battle in the outskirts of Stalingrad.

This squad has two artizan models in it
Here are some of the models I spend some more time on:

What I love about Bolt Action is the journey of modeling and learning about history. What I love about all the blogs around, like Andy Singleton's, is the inspiration I get from it. I hope that this post will inspire others as well!

SC Mike


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