Bolt from the Blue

I recently posted about my Lightning Division’s ill-fated debut on the tabletop and their defeat at the hands of the Zaporoskiye Regiment. Regardless of their performance (and believe me, they’re out for revenge) they look striking in their blue/grey/yellow camouflage, so I thought it was time for a photo parade now that the wrecks have been recovered from the battlefield, the damage repaired and the shell marks polished out.

The two detachments, one tank and one infantry, each consist of ten TUs (tactical units – a vehicle or an infantry team), totalling fifteen vehicles and five infantry teams. I actually painted sixteen vehicles so that I had the option of either a mortar jeep or tracked mortar carrier in the infantry detachment.

The LD vehicles are mostly blowers, or high-powered hovercraft. They’re relatively easy to assemble with few parts – the crew cars just have a rear hatch and two small turrets to be attached to the resin hull. I added plenty of stowage, including some of our etched-brass turret baskets.

The next step was a grey basecoat using Halfords automotive primer from a spray can, which would also serve as the first of the three camouflage colours. Once this has dried I drybrushed the vehicles all over with Citadel Longbeard Grey.

The camouflage colours were laid down with an airbrush – Vallejo French Blue followed by Tamiya XF-4 Yellow-Green. I drybrushed the camouflage stripes, again with Citadel dry paints – Skunk Blue and Hexos Palesun respectively. At this point the vehicles look fairly bright, but this would be dulled down in a bit.

I spent a while picking out details – stowage, sensor blisters and lenses, gun barrels etc in various colours, including some shading and highlighting. One blower hull had a slight mis-cast at the rear (I filed it in the ‘not good enough for resale, but too good to just throw away’ category) which I tried to make look like battle damage with rust and silver wear marks. The next stage was an overall coat of Army Painter Strong Tone Quickshade, which is a stain-like varnish that dries to a glossy and very tough finish.

I added some Lightning Division decals from our range (which will be available again soon, promise!) which go nicely over the glossy finish of the quickshade. I then varnished them with Tamiya Flat Clear from my airbrush, at which point disaster struck…

A slightly damp day resulted in every wargamer’s nightmare, varnish fogging, with my Lightning Division looking like they’d driven through a snowstorm. The temptation at this point was to launch them into the bin, but I needed them on table the following week! So I launched instead into an emergency repair programme to try and sort out the fogging. I started by putting an abrasive polishing bit in my mini-drill and gently tried to buff away the affected areas. The Tamiya coat was very thin while the underlying Army Painter is pretty tough, so I was hoping to be able to remove one without damaging the other. By and large this was successful, although there were one or two places where I wore away the paint and went through to the base resin or metal – and of course my decals were utterly destroyed by this process. The abrasive head couldn’t reach into corners or panel lines either, so I needed a different solution for those areas. I had to repaint some damaged and very badly fogged areas – bits of camouflage, gun barrels, sensor blisters – and I then used a wash of Citadel Agrax Earthshade which filled in any panel lines that were still white. The overall results weren’t perfect, but a thousand times better than they might have been. They were at least in a usable state and could make their combat debut.

After the game I went back and reapplied a new batch of decals, and a fresh coat of varnish – fortunately trouble-free this time – and finally I could declare them finished.

justneedsvarnish

I read the blue/grey/yellow bit about the camouflage and thought “that won’t work” but it looks really good! All great looking vehicles!