Normally this time of year sees me preparing stuff for the months to come and this year’s no different. In fact, it’s complete chaos on my desktop, with vehicles in various painting stages queuing up!
But a closer look might reveal a finished vehicle lurking near the bottom left hand edge of the picture!
The vehicle in question is a WW2 German Sd Kfz 138 Ausf H Grille (cricket), though commonly called a Bison I think. They were armed with a 150mm heavy infantry gun and allocated to the support gun companies of panzergrenadier (mechanised infantry) regiments. Earlier variants were built on Panzer I and Panzer II chassis, but the version shown here used the chassis of the Czech LT38 light tank, this vehicle being built by the Germans as the Panzer 38t.
In real life, the tank’s forward superstructure was removed, the 150mm gun mounted in the fighting compartment and an armoured superstructure built up around it to provide the crew with some protection from small arms fire and shell splinters. Its purpose was to provide readily available, short range, indirect fire support.
A later variant used the same basic chassis but with the engine moved to the front of the vehicle and the gun moved to the rear. Both version were relatively small vehicles for the size of weapon mounted (and hopefully that should be evident when compared to the infantry and crew figures in the photos) which meant they only carried a small number of rounds of ammunition on board (and I would imagine they rocked back quite a bit on firing).
The vehicle shown here is a 20mm scale resin/metal model from Early War Miniatures and the Ausf H version is one of my favourite German vehicles. Part of the superstructure had an unwanted resin blob on it which needed filing off and that meant I had to add replacement rivets from plastic rod slices on one of the armour panels, but otherwise it’s not a bad model. I used two crew figures from a Plastic Soldier Company German armoured car kit and it was a squeeze getting them into the vehicle. I painted it in dark yellow with green and red-brown camouflage stripes and then gave the whole thing my usual black/brown thinned enamel wash to add shading and dirt! After that it got a final drybrush in a sandy shade to pick out the detail and I glued in the crew (who’d been painted beforehand). I painted the front two left-hand roadwheels in plain grey and yellow to represent wheels replaced following mine damage, but the different colours are not all that obvious on the finished vehicle.
I finished this model over a week ago, but have had to wait for a calm, dry spell in the UK weather to get it varnished and photographed. As my first model painted this year, it therefore qualifies for Ann’s First of the Year painting challenge and also Dave Stone’s Paint What You Got challenge. Now I just need to get on with finishing some more vehicles on that worktop to create a bit of space!