Friday, October 26, 2012

Western Desert '42 Micro Armour: Step-by-Step

Last week my buddy Dave came by. He wanted to sift through my stack of old GHQ Micro Armour packs to put together an Italian '43 scenario. He grabbed about 15 packs, which was nice, since that put a dent in "old inventory"! After he left, I started rooting around in the Micro Armour bin and realized that I had enough '42 Western Desert stuff to put together a game as well.

Just can't resist these lovely GHQ models!

Here's a reminder photo to show old (and new!) hobbyists just how small and beautiful these little gems are.

My interest in Western Desert gaming goes back to when I was a kid and picked up Tobruk. At the time, this was a pretty sophisticated simulation of company scale armored combat. Today, we'd just call it beardy and over-complex...or simply unplayable. But I'll have to admit, when I was in my early teens, I really got off on rolling 40 "to hit" rolls for my Bofors 40mm AA guns. Some years later, Squad Leader came along and did what Tobruk was trying to do much more elegantly. Well, elegant for the late '70s anyway.

Because of Tobruk, I understand that the Gazala battles of May and June 1942 in Libya were the crucible that Rommel forged his reputation on. Taking Tobruk was his greatest victory, and the desert tank battles that led up its capture were truly epic. There were literally hundreds of British, German and Italian tanks conducting running battles through the desert at this time.

These are the battles that Micro Armour is made for...or so it seems to me.

I busted out 56 assorted pieces of Micro Armour. Here's the step-by-step process to get them ready to game.

Assembly is pretty simple...except for Marder IIIs. For some reason, each piece comes in  5 parts. What a headache! I glued the pieces down to 1" square metal bases and applied fine silicate sand for ground cover.

Sprayed everything in white primer.

Then applied a dark wash (standard floor wax, black-brown paint and matt medium).

The British pieces (on the left) got a spray of Air Model Sand. The German pieces (on the right) got Air Model Light Brown.

Everything then got a thin sepia wash. The British pieces were drybrushed in off-white (P3 Menoth White Highlight), while the Germans got two drybrush layers (GW Bleached Bone, then Menoth White).

Bases were then painted in Foundry Sand shade and drybrushed with Sand highlight. I also painted on disruptive dark olive camo for the British Grants and Crusaders.

Final steps were to paint MGs, tracks, bedrolls, tools and any other details. Here are the finished pieces.

The German Panzer IIFs and IIIGs.

Panzer IV F1s and Marder IIIs (mounting captured Russian long 76.2 mm AT guns).

British M3 Honeys.

British M3 Grants and German 88s. On the 88s, I did not detail-paint the crewmen. Concession to project speed.

Finally, British Crusader Is and Valentine IIIs.

I usually put decals on Micro Armour, but this time around I took a pass. When you check photos of German armor at this time, most markings are covered over with dust or have been stripped off by sun and sand. British armor was being thrown into battle so quickly, many units did not have time to apply a full set of markings. Also, bypassing decals got the project off the table quicker!

Hope to get these guys into play at the club soon.

'Til next time.


  1. Very nice!!

    I am really enjoying painting these guys, bought another dozen packs at SentryBox last week.

    Am emailing you about some rules you might like...

  2. Beautifully detailed figs. Great job as usual.

  3. Great stuff. I loved doing micro-armour. Neat and easy and looks great. And the Marder is a pig to built. Not quite as bad as individual struts on a 6mm triplane (what was CnC thinking here?) but a challenge.

  4. Hi, why did you apply a dark wash then spray over it, surely that just covers the earlier layer??


    1. Steve, the final overspray is very light. So Wash is still visible in depressions, increasing the illusion of depth.