Panzers for pennies

I had always been keen to add a few 28mm WW2 tanks and vehicles to my collection. When I first started collecting WW2 in this scale I used the tanks made by Battle Honours. The tanks were pretty good (although rather large) but cost quite a lot so I never got around to buying too many of them. Unfortunately since being sold to the USA they have been rather hard to get hold of. Various other companies have made 28mm tanks and vehicles but none of them really mixed with my originals, so I’ve ended up with tons of infantry and not many vehicles.

When I said  was going to try and make a platoon on a budget I initially thought vehicles and tanks would be a luxury out of my budget, or so I thought. Guy claimed to have located some good toy tanks that might look good painted up. I was a bit skeptical, but he swore to me they would do the job. Sure enough he got me four! Enough to do a German Panzer IV platoon! At just £3.99 each I got a platoon for less then the price of a single tank from most wargames companies.

So are they a heap of rubbish? Well actually they are not bad at all. Not as crisp and sharp as a proper wargames model but not too shabby either. They are wind back action, so after allowing the kids a ten minute play with them I confiscated the tanks back and unscrewed the mechanisms. This was a two minute job and was very easy to do. I used a pin drill to make the barrels more hollow at the ends. For a final refinement I splashed the boat out and purchased some tank commanders from Warlord. At £4 for a pack of 3 Panzer crew, these went against my budgeting tendencies,  but I justified it by the big saving I had made on the tanks! So £20 in total spent on the 4 tanks with crew. The crew gave the tanks a nice focal point. I made the hatches out of thin cardboard and stuck them on with superglue.

I added extra stowage and a Panzer grenadier NCO from the Warlord plastics set to the back of one of the tanks. I wanted to re-create happy memories of the old Tamiya panzer grenadier set that had the troops crawling all over the back of the tanks. I posed the grenadier in a pointing position as if he had just seen enemy troops and was shouting instructions down the grenadiers by the side of the tank to outflank the position. Everything then got a nice coat of Halfords Matt black spray paint. I painted the tanks using Vallejo colours. I had originally intended to use an airbrush! I borrowed one from a friend and read the instructions. What followed next was a mild panic at the thought of making an absolute bodge job of it so went for a less daring hand paint job for the first two tanks. The overall result looks pretty tidy for the wargames table. Maybe not up to display standards but for day to day gaming very respectable. I’ll add some foliage and branches onto the tanks to give them a suitably camouflaged look from the Allied ‘jabos’. These will be made out of twigs and Woodland Scenics foliage clumps and clusters (just like my bocage).

The one thing I am short of is German decals. I have a friend who has been making his own transfers for Wars of the Roses livery coats on a computer and printing them off so I will have to investigate how he does it!

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