Category Archives: USArmy

Delta Dawn or the ACE up your sleeve

Delta Dawn or the ACE up your sleeve

Today it is time for another modern Special Forces installment (and another bad pun)… 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Airborne) or as they are known since their (second) re-christening in 2010: Army Compartmented Element (ACE).

They were created 5 days before I was born in 1977. Far smaller than the SeALs with about 1000 men they are one of the US Armys contributions to the US arsenal of special forces. [EDIT: I have been contacted by a friend who served with Delta. As of last year that are three operational Sabre Squadrons with 40 to 60 operators each. So the figure of 1000 men includes AFO personel as well as AVN troop members.] If you look at the story of their creation, their main goal was the use in hostage situations and they saw frequent use on US soil until the Depart of Justice deemed this a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. Back then their organisation was modeled along the line of the British SAS which took a large part in their training. Their first big mission was the freeing of hostages from the embassy in Teheran in 1980 (Operation Eagle Claw) which never got to their target due to a refueling accident in the desert.They hunted Iraqi Scud launchers during Desert Storm, are reputed to have shot Pablo Escobar, had the largest part in the SF operations in Somalia and sabotaged Iraqi command and control installations around Bagdad in 2003. Along with DEVGRU they are the only unit today that has it´s primary mission in counter terrorism.

Army Delta

Army Delta

The minis here are geared up for their primary mission… the freeing of hostages and are clad all black. Bottom left is a mini from the Infinity range. Bottom middle is a special mini from TAG´s SWAT range. All the others are Devil Dog Designs. The black uniforms were highlit using black mixed with dark blue.

What else? Now since this is only a single mini and one that is near impossible to photograph I decided to include a USAF PJ as well. PJ stands for Para Jumper. They are Air force Medics that get additional training in combat first aid to the level that their skills can even compete with some doctors in a normal hospitals ER. A good number of them are special operations qualified and accompany other special forces on their missions. They are a very old unit by SF standards since they were created 2 days before the D-Day Invasion in 1944.



The mini is a converted Infinity mini. Unfortunately the extreme pose makes him near impossible to photograph, so sorry for the poor shot. His trousers are meant to be Digital Tigerstripe ABU´s, but again… due to the pose it hardly shows.

UP next (tomorrow) are the guys Delta train with… British SAS and German KSK.


Woodlands MARPAT and ACU painting guide

OK, the recent posts have led to questions on what colours I used and how I painted both my Marines (woodlands MARPAT) and my Army soldiers (ACU). First off all sorry for the lack of a picture walk through… I kind of shot from the hip here after a couple of requests.

Lets start with the technique. Modern camouflage clothing can be a real problem to paint. Patterns like the German Flecktarn, USMC´s MARPAT or USArmy ACU look really awesome in real life, but the thought of painting minis in such pattern can really make one give up on the project before it starts. Who really wants to paint tons of little spots or blocks on a mini, much worse a whole set of minis!

But there really are easier ways. Since we are only painting scale models we only need to fool the eye and that can usually done with really simple techniques.

When it comes to the base colour, you should always start with the dominant colour in the pattern. So for my Marines it was a base of Valejo (VAL) Panzer Aces 339 “Field Grey II highlight”. This is actually a very light brown, much like bleached wood. For the Army I used a base of VAL 886 “Green Grey”.

The rest of the work involved what I call “dry dipping”. This basically works like dry brushing. Only that you take a brush with hard hair, approximately “0” or “Fine Detail” size. Use an old one if possible, since it will be ruined afterwards for anything but this technique. You need to prepare it first, which means putting paint on and pushing it straight down on a piece of paper. After a short time the hairs will be bend to the sides and this is when you can use it.

Before you start dipping, brush some of the paint off using the same method you used while preparing the brush. When there is only about the amount of paint left you would want for dry brushing, push the brush sideways against the mini. When the paint from the brush is used up, refresh. You do not need to dip it into the paint-can every time, but you can refresh it from the paper you used for getting off the brush. Works about once or twice. Do this for every layer of paint, always going from te most dominant colours to the least dominant ones.

In case of woodlands MARPAT this is: VAL 70980 “Black Green”, Black (any manufacturer will do) and Coat d´arms 236 “Horse Tone Grey” (essentially a very light grey or off-white).

In case of ACU this is: Games Workshop “Rotting Flesh” and VAL 70894 “Camouflage Olive”

Since this technique works the same way as dry brushing, the deepest parts will mostly just take on the base colour. Not as much as with dry brushing, since the dipping gets into the recesses to a higher degree, but still not enough. And obviously a camo pattern does not limit itself to the raised spots. So just go back and paint a few small spots of the missing colours with a normal brush into the recesses. Do the same for any spot where you accidentally put too much of one colour.

Now go and prepare a wash. In both cases I used 1 part paint (a dark chocolate-brown for the Marines, black for the Army), 5 parts water (if you prepare a larger amount for future use distilled water since it will not rot) and 1 part white or Elmers glue. The later will help the wash settle into th deep spots, creating a shading on the minis that would otherwise be bleeping hard to achieve on a camo pattern like this. Brush the wash on without remorse.

Now this technique is fast (you can do about 2 to 3 squads in one evening) and the results look good IMHO.

In case you are interested… the boots were done with Coat d´arms 222 “Horse Tone Roan” ( light tan colour), washed with the brown wash and then drybrushed with “Horse Tone Roan” again.

Coyote Brown items (the Marines vests) for example were done in “Horse Tone Roan” with a little white mixed in and then washed with th brown wash.

So once done, your Marines and GI´s can start to deploy to any tabletop field of glory.


Marines (this is a photo from an older game before I repainted the bases olive)


Modern US Army in ACU Camo

To wrap up the posts showing the minis I finished in recent weeks… here are my US Army soldiers in ACU camo. Now these are a mix of the old Devil Dog Designs US Airborne minis and the TAG SWAT range. You can tell them apart by looking at the helmets. The former have covers, the later have no covers.

I did not mind minis without covers, too much. Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started, I saw a number of pictures showing soldiers without them. It seems that most of these men came from the Airborne Divisions or Rangers. Which serves me right. I want to use these minis to represent two different units and since one of them is an Airborne unit, this is just fine.

So which units do I want to represent? Well keep in mind that all the forces I paint are meant for a hypothetical WW III set in Europe somewhere between 2003 and 2008, with the main battlefields being in Poland (part of NATO), Germany and the Baltic Republics. In that sense I need units that are either stationed in Europe or are part of NATO´s plans for Europe. Plus I prefer to model lighter units for modern games.

So the first unit is the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. They are stationed in Italy. They are also part of the US Army Europe QRF. In that sense they are a perfect match. Their TO&E is fairly standard, so I can use them without too much thought.

The other unit is the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment. They are the only Stryker unit stationed in Europe, better yet in Germany. Since I wanted a Stryker unit as my second choice, it had to be them. Now a Stryker unit has a slightly more robust TO&E with nine men fire teams.So that is the minimum of minis I need to paint. So… do you want to see some pictures?

Command Team

Command Team

Sniper Team and a Medic

Sniper Team and a Medic

Next up are the first two fire teams I painted up.

Fire Team I (first half)

Fire Team I (first half)

Fire Team I (second half)

Fire Team II (first half)

Fire Team II (second half)

Fire Team II (second half)

Now the second team is still missing their second SAW gunner. But since I will have to get myself another fire team and a support (machine gun) team anyway, he will be added then. These new additions will come from Empress Miniatures.

I also want to beef my Airborne up somewhat with a motorcycle team. I still have two minis from DDD and three from Eureka (their Australian SAS range).

There are two more minis have painted, but have not allocated to a unit. These are my AT troopers and I want to keep them separate from the normal fireteams, only ex-changing them when I need more punch. By the way… I know that the M47 Dragon has already been phased out by the US Army, but I know they still have huge stocks. In that sense I felt they would not be out-of-place with a desperate situation like one would encounter in an all out war.

AT troopers

AT troopers

Now since I have been asked what colours I have used when I showed the WIP pictures, this is it:

The base coat os VAL Green Grey, followed by GW Rotten Flesh and finally VAL Russian Uniform. These were all applied using this technique (Flecktarn technique on our club homepage). Once done these were washed with a mix of one part VAL Black Ink and 5 parts water. And presto… all done.


Modern WIP

Well this weekend saw another bank holiday weekend. Yes there are three of those in Germany this month (unfortunately I can only make use of one as I have most of the month off anyway). We spend this one with my better half´s relatives in Thuringia. Now I usually take some minis along, either cleaning them up or painting them, depending on how much we expect to be going on, on those visits. this time I opted to take some along to paint. While the 12te Schlesische Landwehr is still not finished, I could not take those along due to the way I mount my Napoleonic minis for painting. So I took moderns and WWI minis along. I did not get to those WWI minis, but the rest were tackled.

First up were a set of 8 modern Russians from Red Star. My initial idea had been to do them in the Russian version of woodlands, but then I searched a little on the internet and came across a new Russian “mountain” camo and went for that. Like the men on this photo, I wanted them to wear vests in a green digital pattern.

Men from the Russian 34th Mountain Brigade

Men from the Russian 34th Mountain Brigade (photo from

Now the digital pattern is extremely sublime, as is on the original vests. I have read that you can see hardly any variation in colour in these, when they are issued. From what I have read, this is due to the poor quality of Russian dyes and that they are meant to show their real color variation after the first wash. Not sure if this is true, but I wanted to depict them unwashed.

Red Star Miniatures painted in Mountain camo

Red Star Miniatures painted in Mountain camo

Now the rest are a huge batch (29 minis) of modern US in ACU camo. The minis are a mix of the old Devil Dogs Designs and TAG from their SWAT range. These are meant to double as both infantry from a Stryker Brig. as well as an Airbourne Brig. when finished. I deliberately did not sculpt helmet covers onto those TAG minis, since I came across a lot of photos showing men without helmet covers recently (especially amongst jump qualified units). Now these are only partly finished so I am only showing two out of the 29 here. Left one is DDD, the right one TAG.

Partly finished ACU (left DDD, right TAG)

Partly finished ACU (left DDD, right TAG)


I do not know what you did last weekend, but…

… but this is what I did.

As those of you who have followed my previous posts might have noticed… I have been painting an awful lot of Napoleonic minis this year. A total of 13 riders, 8 horses (mind you, most of the horses for the 12th Cuirassiers were painted last year), 139 infantry- and artillerymen and 4 artillery pieces. Not bad for a little over 5 month. Anyway… I needed a break last weekend. So I finished the bases of my 3/13th Silesian Landwehr (pictures to follow soon) and turned to some modern stuff.

Moderns will be my extra project for this year. I usually try to finish something small every year, to make some progress outside my main projects. So some time in January this year, I could not decided which one to go for… either finish my modern project or my WWII British Paras. So I asked my better half and she said “Moderns”. So I finally sat down and assembled resin models and converted some of them to my gusto. Please beware, that all photos in this post are WIP. Which means I still need to add greenstuff to fill gaps from my conversions and that stowage will be added after the first painting phase!

I began with a Russian MTLB from HLBS. Now I had seen a number of photos from Chechnya and South Ossetia, where the Russians welded a ZSU-23 A³ gun to the top of an MTLB. I wanted that kind of extra firepower for mine, too. Since I also had a Sloppy Jaloppy ZSU lying around this seemed like the perfect match.

MTLB with ZSU-23

MTLB with ZSU-23

On the other hand I want to use the APC without the gun and I have at least one scenario in mind where I need a seperate gun.

MTLB with seperate ZSZ-23

MTLB with seperate ZSZ-23

So what´s the solution… buy everything twice? In the end I came up with a simple and cheap solution. I have started to attach the turrets of my resin tanks to the hulls using neodym magnets. The ones I use are only 1mm thick and 1cm in diameter. So I drilled a hole into the rear hull of the MTLB, put one magnet into it flush with the hull and put another one underneath the gun. I had to add some plasticard to the underside of the gun, to bring the magnets closer together without touching each other (I do not want any paint to scratch off on top the hull magnet). When I get to the greenstuff phase, the edge between the hull and magnet will be filled and you will not see the magnet anymore when painted.


The magnets

Next up were two BMP-1´s and two BMP-2´s from HLBS and three Striker IFV´s and one Striker MGS from Imprint. Those were build straight out of the box and I will not bore you with pictures of them right now.

But the interesting part came next… 5 Hummers. One of them (the one cast in light grey resin on the photo) will go to my Marines. Now as with the other Hummers I already build for my Marines, they are meant to be simple models. So all I did was raise the air-intake snorkel, add a sidepipe exhaust, a cowbar cannibalized from a Maisto toy and a gunshield for the MK19 autogrenadelauncher.

The other 4 (white resin from a batch I bought a couple of years ago) will go to my US Army troops. I am playing a hypothetical WWIII set in Europe around 2003 to 2004. These are meant to represent vehicles from units stationed in Germany suddenly called to the front. In that sense they are supposed to look field modified, just like the ones we saw early on in Iraq or Afghanistan. So in addition to the normal gunshields, I added field improvised armour to the gunner positions of the .50cal and MK19 Hummers and armour shielding to the doors.One also got a cowbar, another one a push-bumber and an antennae array (this will most likely become the command vehicle).

But I have to say… I am still not satisfied with their looks. I started on cutting some armour plating for the lower hull, but cutting one piece out was no fun and I can not imagine doing so for 4 vehicles. So at best I will do the one of them that way. I have some smoke dischargers lying around so one or two of them will get those. Most likely another push-bumper and maybe a towing assembly. Lets see how these turn out in the end. If you have any suggestions… they are more than welcome!


Hummers (left to right): Army TOW, MK19, TOW, .50cal, USMC MK19


Posted by on May 12, 2011 in HLBS, Imprint Models, Modern, USArmy, USMC, Vehicles