Wednesday, 28 March 2018

3D Printed 1:200 French 1940 Army for Rommel

Well after another spell of foreign business travel and my daughter moving into her first house, I've finally found time to write something for the blog.

I set myself the challenge to use my 3D printer to produce two entire armies for Rommel in 1:200 scale.

I have always had an interest in the tank battles of 1940 as the French Army & the BEF tried to stem the German advances, so I decided this would be my target.

Using (Primarily) the .stl files created by Marco Bergman (to be found on Thingiverse, Yeggi etc.) I set about printing off the vehicles I needed (see tables below)

Division Cuirassée de Reserve (DCR)
·         4 Tank Battalions (Each 1 x Char B1 + 1 x H39) 22 pts
·         1 Battalion Dragoon (3 x Mechanised Infantry bases) 7 pts
·         2 Battalions Artillery (1 x 105mm & 1 x 75mm Towed Guns with Lorrainne Carriers) 5 pts
·         Total points = 34

Division Légère Mécanique (DLM)
·         3 Battalions Medium Tanks (Each 2 x S35 Somua) 15 pts
·         3 Battalions Light Tanks (Each 2 x H39) 15 pts
·         3 Battalions Dragoon (Each 3 x Mechanised Infantry bases) 21 pts
·         2 Battalions Artillery (1 x 105mm & 1 x 75mm Towed Guns with Lorrainne Carriers) 5 pts
·         Total points = 56
Some of the models had been created in 1:100 (15mm) scale, so were reduced within the Cura Software. I tried to maximise the printing bed area by creating multiple prints in one go. At first I tried this with a raft to aid adherence, but actually found this made things worse. The raft warped and peeled away from the masking tape. I now dispense with the raft and print direct to the masking tape (with Pritt Stick Glue) and all seems to work fine.
 As well as AFVs I decided to try my hand at printing Infantry & Artillery!
 I found a generic infantryman on Tinkercad created at 15mm and reduced him to 10mm high. I then combined 5 of these figures on a 28x28mm square base.  These were firstly printed 6 at once with supporting Renault UE carriers + Trailers. 
I tried incorporating support material (to ensure rifle barrels printed) but at this scale this proved impossible to remove without breaking the figure’s legs.
I next tried printing them without support and all was fine. Ok you cannot see a rifle but at this scale I’m not going to worry. The stringing was removed using a heated craft knife blade.
The units will all be based on mdf 30x40mm in size, with the stats along the bottom edge. So when adding sand to the base with PVA glue I left a 10mm strip behind each AFV. 
First result are looking OK. I worked things out that at current Skytrex Action 200 rates, this army would have set me back over £70. The cost in PLA must be a couple of pounds at the very most, but the time taken was probably near to 40 hours!!!
And here they are with their bases flocked and Rommel Stats added. The stats were simply created in PowerPoint - using the Drawing Tools, Format function to create boxes of the desired dimensions. Then printed out and gloss laminated. Final each was cut out carefully with scissors and attached to the base using double sided tape. I think they look pretty good!

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

15mm Tank 3D Printing Frenzy

I've been travelling on business for two weeks and have had little opportunity for modelling or blogging :-(

However when I've been able to grab some time I have been continuing to experiment with my 3D printer.

Firstly I completed my Rommel BUA in 2mm scale. The print was mounted on a 60x60mm mdf laser cut base and then painted, varnished etc. I'm very pleased with this and will certainly print a couple more.

I have expanded my Team Yankee 15mm British forces and have so far completed;-

  • 2 x Chieftain MBTs
  • 5 x FV432 APCs
  • 1 x Striker ATGW
  • 1 x Spartan APC
To match these I've commenced building up my Soviet forces and have printed;-
  • 2 x BTR60PBs
  • 1 x BMP with turrets for both the MkI & II options
In addition I have been experimenting with some 1:200 early war French vehicles to use with Sam Mustafa's Rommel Rules. These can be printed up to 8 at a time with my small printer so work out very economically viable. the dream!

Thursday, 15 February 2018

3D Printed 15mm Fv432 - Team Yankee

My confidence is growing with the i3 Mini so time to move on and print something in 15mm (basically my justification for buying it in the first place).

As I've recently bought a British Mechanised Infantry Platoon from Bottlefront and a Milan Anti-Tank Platoon, I need quite a few Fv432 APCs to transport them around.

Searching the internet for suitable .stl files didn't throw up a whole lot of choice until I found a very competent looking model on Thingiverse designed by Steve Lava (lava808)

Listed as an Fv423 IFV, the design is in four parts (see above with support material in place & below cleaned up ready to assemble)

  1. Main Hull
  2. Back panel with door
  3. Engine louvred cover 1
  4. Engine louvred cover 2

It prints from the rear of the hull upwards, using support material but no need for infill as the hull is in effect a hollow box.

Once printed out in white PLA, I simply removed the support materials with pliers and glued the louvres and rear panel onto the hull with super glue.

Some filler will be required around the rear panel to finish things off. The print took 3.75 hours to complete. I'm very happy with the results. Thanks to Steve for sharing so generously.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

3D Printing - My First Tank!

As printing tanks was my primary excuse for buying the 3D Printer  I thought I'd better not leave it too long to try this out.

The internet is a remarkable source for all manner of things. This includes an almost dazzling supply of 3D printable files for all different types of tanks, guns, terrain pieces etc. in any scale you fancy!

I started modestly with a search in Thingiverse that revealed a collection of 1/200th AFVs created by Marco Bergman, and shared most generously, free of charge to anyone who wants to use them privately. (

I decided to start with the US M1A1 so downloaded the .stl file and converted it to .gcode in Cura.

The file as downloaded had the hull and turret stood on end, gun and bow facing upwards. This is probably a sensible way to go as many printers (mine included) have quite limited print bed sizes. However for reasons known only to myself, I decided to lay both parts flat and print them side by side. The picture below shows how that progressed.

  1. The print started with creating a "raft" to support the finished parts. This helps to ensure good adherence to the bed (but doesn't guarantee it!)
  2. The supporting ribs for the underside of the turret are starting to appear here. These are easily re,moved afterwards.
  3. Another view of the turret building up layer by layer
  4. The almost completed turret has now appeared
  5. The settings used on my printer, showing the 1.75 hour build time!

Here you can see the hull & turret from above, still attached to the "raft"

This side on shot illustrates the supporting material that fills the turret underside

This side view shows the support material under the rear tracks and over the wheels

Once I'd removed the support material, I was amazed to find the detailed running gear down each side beneath the bazooka plates. 

Here you can see the ribbed effect you can get through the build up of layers of extruded plastic. This is more pronounced on a smaller model as I chose 0.15mm layers where I could have chosen 0.1mm. Don't forget this tank is only 30mm long!

I have in my collection a number of 1/200 M1's. Below is a comparison shot alongside a Skytrex Action 200 model. Slightly shorter, but not a bad match.

I painted the finished model and based it on mdf to match the others in my collection.

For a first effort I think it's quite acceptable. Remembering that when viewed on the tabletop the ribs are all but invisible to someone as old as me!

I hadn't previously considered printing models to this scale, I was expecting to be going for 15mm scale, bit I'm pleasantly surprised at the quality. I doubt very much this will be the last one I print at 1/200th scale.

New Toy - Part Two

Having got the printer working I wanted to try out my 3D design for a Rommel terrain tile.

You'll have seen from previous posts that I standardised on 60x60mm tiles for all my terrain pieces (Bocage, Marsh, Woods, Built Up Areas) and had tried my hand at scratch building a BUA tile.

As I need more of these (especially for my Operation Perch scenario) I thought this to be the ideal subject for a 1st print.

I created the design in Tinkercad. This is a very easy to use, on line package, that allows you to create things in 3D by combining pre-determined geometric shapes.

As A house is simply a box with a triangular section on top to form the roof, you can see that this wasn't too taxing!

My first attempt in the previous post was at 40x40mm. So I simply enlarged it to 60x60mm for the final print.

Once you're happy with the design, you save it as an .stl file. Then using Curs (the slicing software provided with my printer) you convert this to a .gcode file. This is now broken down into 0.1mm slices to be printed one on top of another.
And here's the finished article printed in PLA plastic. It took around 2.5 hours to complete!

You will notice that the base has warped slightly. This was due to the print not adhering to the base plate. Part of the steep learning curve!
You can see there's a bit of cleaning up to do, but largely I'm quite happy with that as a 1st attempt.

I think I'll glue this to a 60x60mm mdf base to straighten it out, before I paint it up and maybe move a few buildings around before I try and print once more.
The finished article
Filled with enthusiasm, I think its time to print a tank......!

Friday, 9 February 2018

New Toy - Part One

It arrived earlier this week, now all I need to do is work out how to print tanks with it!!
 When I get it sussed I've created this little beauty to test it out.
Its a 40x40mm built up area (BUA) terrain tile for my 2mm Rommel terrain pieces.

Created in just 10 minutes with Tinkercad!

I'll let you see the finished article when I get one printed (fingers crossed)

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Team Yankee - M1 Painting

I finished the M1's (Battlefront & Zvezda) in the same finish.

Up until the application of the MERDC (Mobility Equipment Research & Design Command) camouflage the process was identical to the T64's in my previous post.

I chose to finish the in the Verdant Summer version of MERDC so firstly sprayed light green blotches at random.
Then I added Iraqi Sand lines around the outer edges of some of the blotches and did the same with shorter black lines too.
The tracks were apinted light grey and when dry given a liberal coat of Black Wash.
Then when all the details had been added, the recessed areas were given a black pin wash.
Then there was a dry-brush of Iraqi Sand, spray sand along the sides and finally a coat of varnish for protection.
All looking good now they're finished.

Can you spot which are Battlefront and which are Zvezda? Maybe not? Just goes to show a consistent paint job can help different manufacturers kits to blend together quite nicely!

Team Yankee - 15mm T64 Part Two

I painted these tanks up quite simply by firstly given them a white primer coat and then applying a coat of Vallejo Russian Green with the airbrush. Incidentally the airbrush I’m using is a reasonably price PremiAir G35 with compressed air supplied by an electric compressor.
Next I sprayed a coat of Vallejo Sepia Wash to fill the shadows.
Then a dry brushing with a slightly lightened Vallejo Russian Green.
After painting in the details (Tracks, MG, Commander, unditching beam, Mantlet cover etc.) The recessed areas were given a Vallejo Black Pin Wash.
When dry an all-over very light dry-brush with Vallejo Iraqi Sand.
I added simple number decals from an old Dragon kit and sprayed the lower sides with a dusting of Vallejo ModelAir Sand
Finally to protect all that hard work a spray coat of varnish.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Team Yankee – 15mm British Mechanised Infantry and Milan Teams

As opposition to my Soviets I treated myself to a platoon of British mechanised infantry and a Milan ATGW platoon.

These are cast white metal figures that considering they are quite newly released, take a little bit of cleaning up before you can paint them.
Once that was done I attached the figures to lolly sticks (from Hobbycraft) with PVA glue and allowed to dry overnight.

They were then spray primed with Army Painter Matt white primer.
At this point my technique for painting British DPM material differs from that described in the Iron Maiden supplement. Closer examination of the DPM material will reveal that the base colour is in fact a sandy colour (from Buff through to Dark Yellow dependent on the amount of laundering) not green as described. The green, red brown & black pattern is printed over this base colour.
I guess the ratio of colours in DPM was somewhere in the order of;-
  1. Dark Yellow (30%)
  2. Green (30%)
  3. Red Brown (30%)
  4. Black (10%)

Therefore my base coat was Vallejo Panzer Yellow – in this case the ModelAir version applied with my airbrush.

This was then followed by brush applied green patches (Vallejo US Army Uniform green- a bit like GW Goblin Green)
Then red brown patches (Vallejo Game Colour leather Brown)
After this the ’58 Pattern Webbing was painted Vallejo Grey Green. When new the webbing is a dark green (Almost Vallejo Russian Green) colour. But it rapidly fades in use to a greeny grey shade.

I also painted the rifle sling at the same time (these could be any colour from sand through to dark green dependent on age and material of manufacture). The cloth puttees were then painted Vallejo Khaki.
NB: In the British Army of the ‘80s all troops wore DMS Black Leather boots with cloth wrap-around khaki puttees – however any Light Division units (i.e. Royal Green Jackets, Gurkhas, Light Infantry) were required to dye their's Jungle Green.

The figures were then given an all over coat of Vallejo Sepia Wash.
Once dry, the boots and SLRs were picked out in black together with the bottle top (which pokes out of what I'm assuming is a ’44 pattern pouch? NB: These were non-standard but popular items as they gave quicker access to the bottle than the '58 pattern item).
'44 Pattern Water Bottle Pouch

'58 Pattern Water Bottle Pouch
The black element of the DPM cloth was added at this stage in the form of small black lines here and there. Also the flesh areas were painted and given a flesh wash to add depth. You would be hard pressed to find a British infantryman of this area without his face and hands smeared in camouflage cream. However I chose not to depict this as it makes it look like you've done a bad paint job and forgotten to touch up afterwards!
NB: At this time in history it was not unheard of to find SLRs that still sported the original wooden furniture, or indeed a mixture of wooden stock. pistol grip and black nylon hand-guard.

The helmets as depicted are covered firstly in hessian (cut from a sandbag), then scrim netting and finally strips of different coloured hessian and scrim attached to break up the outline. I painted them Vallejo Military Green and applied a Vallejo Sepia Wash, before dry brushing Vallejo Iraqi Sand and picking out individual strips with Vallejo Khaki.

The Milan firing posts were painted Vallejo Russian Green and then weathered.
The bases came with blanking discs for use with the prone figures, which was nice! These were simply left as they came, painted with cheap acrylics and dry brushed with a lighter colour, before super gluing the figures in place. To get a good bond I score the base surface with a scaplel first.

Nice additions to the collection and not badly priced – in the case of the Milan Platoon £7.20 (at Firestorm) for 20 figures + Bases. Which is comparable in cost to say Peter Pig figures.

Just a coat of varnish to apply and some flock and they'll be finished.