British Airborne, in action between tea breaks!
Before I start, it's worth taking a quick look at the iconic feature of the British Airborne, the Denison Smock; a handy starting point is the rather good page about it on Wikipedia. In short, there seem to have been two major variants used during WWII. At 1/72 I'm not going to worry too much about the cosmetic differences involving buttons etc, but it is useful to note the difference in colours, with the earlier smocks (which would be more suitable for North Africa and Italy) on a sand coloured base and the later smocks (used in Northern Europe and appropriate for D-Day and Market Garden) on a more olive green base.
On to the painting then. The aim of the game here was to produce minis that I'd be happy to use of the gaming table rather than miniature works of art, so I was aiming to get a convincing look without spending too much time fussing over the detail or shading and highlighting. The figures used were all from Italeri, the sten gunner from the 'Anti Tank Teams' set and the rest from the (former Esci) 'British Airborne'. Paints were a mix of Vallejo and GW (although I'm not sure what their equivalents would be in the new range).
back row: German Camo Medium Brown, Reflective Green, English Uniform, Russian Uniform, Black Grey, Khaki Glossy Black
Middle row: Mournfang Brown, Mechrite Red, Gretchin Green, Tallarn Flesh, Leadbelcher
Front Row: Badab Black, Devlan Mud
After priming with GW Chaos Black, I started with the basecoat. VJ English Uniform for the battledress, helmets in VJ Russian Uniform, webbing and gaiters in VJ Khaki, boots VJ Glossy Black and weapons in Mournfang Brown and Leadbelcher. Two of the models had the smock basecoated using GW Gretchin Green and one in VJ Green Ochre, to represent the earlier smock. Painting is pretty rough at this point, as later coats will tidy it up, and I haven't painted all of the webbing, as some will inevitably get painted over again when doing the camo.
The first camo colour is done first, using VJ German Camo Medium Brown. The earliest smocks were allegedly hand-painted using mops, and the pattern continued through the war, so I went for big, bold patches of colour and didn't worry about being neat. The 'stripes' on Denison smocks run in all directions, so I tried to avoid it looking too neat.
Green patches next, in VJ Reflective Green. Again it was put on it quite bold strokes, trying to cross patches of brown at angles. It doesn't matter if the paint is a little thin either, in fact it can be helpful, as on the real smocks the colours do seen to show through one another to some degree. Once the green was on I tidied up the webbing in Khaki.
Everything is looking a bit bright and, to be honest, a bit shoddy at this point but this is where the washes come in. Shading was a simple matter of a wash of GW Badab Black for the guns, which was followed up with GW Devlan mud over the whole figure. I've not tried the new washes from GW, I only hope they work as well as these ones do!
Once the wash was dry, a quick highlight was achieved by simply using the original base colour on any raised detail. The helmets had a quick drybrush with khaki to bring out the netting, and the boots a rough highlight with Black Grey. I didn't try and highlight the smocks; it's a ridiculously time consuming thing to do and, in my opinion at least, the camo should stay quite dark so that the webbing and other details don't get lost.
So there you have it, how I've been painting Brit Paras. Do let me know below the line if you've found it useful (or, indeed, if you have any suggestions on how I could improve the next batch!).