Soviet AT Guns

Plastic Soviets from The Plastic Soldier Company.  This inexpensive kit contains parts for 2 guns, I chose a 45mm M1942 anti tank gun and a 76mm M1943 infantry gun.  The plastic is lighter and more flexible than most 28mm manufactures and the gun barrels do not compare well with other 76mm barrels found on Warlord kits.

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Terrain Trials

Working on new terrain for the Kursk game at Adepticon.  Most Bolt Action games are in built up urban areas with short lines of sight.  The Kursk battles included fights on the open steppes of Russia.  We played a game using the old trick of foam under cloth and stuffing for smoke.  The rolling terrain provided excellent cover for the game.   The smoke clouds will be paired with wrecked tanks for the big game.
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Farm patch – a brown table mat with lines of flock glued on.  Makes for a quick piece of eye candy on the table.  The glue warps the cloth and pulls up the corners.  Fortunately, the cloth stuck to the felt mat and laid flat for the game.

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Soviet T34 Tanks

A Soviet WW2 army would not be complete without tanks.  Five T34 mounting the 76mm cannon are appropriate for 1943, one features an earlier turret (a lucky survivor).  The tank with the exposed crewman will count as the commander of the unit.

T34 Group T34 Commander

T34 Trio

Paint Plan:

  • Body – spray paint Krylon Hunter Green, black wash, color panels with Military Green (V), dry brush highlights with 50/50 Military Green and Terran Khaki
  • Tracks – spray paint Krylon Black.   Highlight with 40/60 Oily Steel (V) and Walnut (R).
  • Tow Cable – Cold Gray  (V) with Black Wash
  • Splash a bit of Dark Sepia (SW) and Black Wash on for effect.

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Bolt Action Soviet Infantry Units

Summer project to create a Soviet army for Bolt Action is mostly done – at least the infantry segment of the army.  Figures are a mix of Warlord Plastics and Black Tree Design metals.

BTD LMG squad

BTD Light Machine Gun squad. 3 LMG, 3 ammo carriers, 8 rifles

WL SMG 1

Warlord SMG unit: 8

WL Rifle squad

Warlord Rifle unit: 26

Soviet Mortar

BTD Mortar: 82mm

Flame Thrower and Medic

BTD Flamethrowers: 2 Misc figure used as a Medic. Warlord Spotter

BTD SMG 2

BTD SMG squad: 10

BTD SMG 1

Second BTD SMG squad: 10

Paint plan for WW2 Soviet Soldiers

  • Base coat with Krylon brown spray.
  • Body – US Field Drab (V).  Mix with Heavy Goldbrown (V) for a yellow shade.  Mix with Brown Violet for a green shade.
  • Legs – Terran Khaki (R)
  • Straps – Flat Earth (V)
  • Gun Barrels – black under coat, Oily Steel (V) with black ink wash
  • Gun Stocks – Umber Brown (V) wash
  • Skin – Medium Flesh (V) with Gyphonne Sepia (GW) wash
  • Boots – Muddy Brown (R) with black wash, or Walnut Brown(R) with Leather Brown (V)
  • Great Coat (slung) – Terran Khaki (R)
  • Great Coat worn – Heavy Brown (V)
  • Helmets, Metal Equipment – Brown Violet (V)

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Cargo Container Casting

Working with expanding foam is a project I started on a few years back – it seemed to be the perfect hobby terrain solution, light and cheap. A few months ago, I was approached by Mike from Dragon-Fall asking for help in creating large terrain items for the 40K tournament.  It was the perfect motivation to restart work on the project.

Masters were printed at the local library using files from Thingiverse.  Three file sets were used in the project:

Files used under Creative Commons non commercial license.

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Masters were gap filled with putty to prevent the mold rubber from encapsulating the cargo container.

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Tried out a new Mold Max product – NV14.  This rubber is super stretchy and is also super smooth.  It was able to penetrate the Lego mold box at nearly every point.

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First cast with Foam It 8.  Its always a bit of a trial to find the right mix amount.  Here the foaming resin is lifting about 30 lb of paint and rubber.

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Eventually the magic number of 72g/36g was found.  The final product takes detail well.  You can see a few air bubbles along the back ridge.  Because the rubber mold was so flexible, I was able to open the mold wide and treat with talc to fix the bubble problem.

 

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After a fall with a stack of paint cans, it was time to get serious with the mechanical restraint.   The mold is enclosed in mdf boards on all sides.  Duck tape holds the sides in position.  The top board is inside a plastic bag to keep the resin from sticking.  Once the resin is mixed, there is about a minute of working time to get the clamps in place before the mix spills out of the box.

 

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Reading List: Eastern Front

War on the Eastern Front by James Lucas.  This book is an aggregation of various interviews and first hand accounts from German soldiers fighting against the Soviets during WW2.  Rather than focus on history or battle narratives, the text describes the effects of cold, snow, mud and Partisans.  Several chapters detail the use of self propelled guns, Nebelwerfer and the tactics of encirclement.  While written mostly from a German point of view and with western sources (published in 1980), the book is an engaging read with a focus on the hardships of the common soldier.

Russia at War 1941-45 by Vladimir Karpov.  A photo journal written from a Russian perspective, the black and white pictures provide an insight into daily life of Soviet soldiers and civilians during WW2.

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Hail Caesar: Battle at the City Gates

Having played many games of Hail Caesar on a 8×4 table, a game on a 6 by 7.5 foot table added a whole new element to the game.  A rectangular table makes for a one dimensional game playing out in a line down the middle of the table.  A square makes for a two dimensional game as units are able to pass by each other without engaging.  Deployment in depth becomes important as divisions are not able to support each other.

To take advantage of the greater table size, Chris and I came up with a scenario where one army was attacking the city gates & the other was going after the invaders baggage train.  We each placed one division at mid table, with two more divisions 12 inches onto the board. The goal was to occupy the opponent’s home base placed in opposite corners of the table.  The game progressed with everything you’d expect to see from Hail Caesar:  my cavalry division did not start moving until the 4th turn, Chris’s pike held out against multiple draws in combat, the first successful ‘Follow Me’ very nearly decided the game.

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What makes for a good 40K terrain object?

How large should a 40K terrain item be for tournament play?  I’m working on a castable shipping container with assorted crates and barrels.  The item is 5 inches by 4 inches by 2.25.  For those of you still playing 40K, is this large/tall enough to impact the game?

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3D files downloaded from Thingiverse and printed at my local library.

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Rough Terrain

Rough Terrain for just about any system and any table.  Outcroppings are from a Woodland Scenics rock mold.   The large brown brushes are taken from a floor mat.  The various greens are static grass and clump foliage.

Is it bad that the bases and castings were pulled out of various boxes from the hobby stockpile from years old projects?

Scatter Terrain

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Reading List: Soviet Army

For Adepticon 2016, I’ve embarked on a new game system and a new period.  I will be participating in a Bolt Action version of the Battle of Kursk, taking on the part of the Soviet forces defending against the invading Germans.  I was about to say that the first step is to get educated on the time period, but like any good gamer I purchased a stack of figures then went about learning about the forces involved.

The Battle of Kursk is an iconic clash of armoured forces on the plains of Russia.  A thousand or more tanks from each side fought and burned as the attacking Germans were meet outside of Prochorovka by the counter attacking Soviet forces.  T-34 tanks raced across the Russian steppes to dire point blank at a hundred or more Tiger tanks.  Scores of Tigers burned that day, or so was the story told by General Rotmistrov of the Soviet 5th Guards Tank Army.

Blood, Steel and Myth by George Nipe.   The first book on my list reconstructs events during the Battle of Kursk using primary sources from German Divisional records to tell the story of a brutal, but not iconic, battle.   These records are used to track the location each German division in the southern front with operational updates & available tank numbers.  Units detailed include the SS Divisions TotenkopfLeibstandarte, Das Reich; the German army division Grossdeutschland & other infantry/Panzer divisions.  The author spends considerable time debunking the common story of the tank battle at Prochorovka, summarized as the three German Panzer divisions in the region started July 12th with 232 tanks (including 12 Tigers) and ended with approximately 62 lost tanks (pg437).  Soviet tank forces in the battle count 520 tanks, made up of T-34, T-70 and a handful of Churchill.

Scattered amongst the tedious details are a number of anecdotes, terrain descriptions and combat behaviors which would be valuable to the average wargamer.  Typical terrain in the Kursk region include swamps & wet lands big enough to immobilize tanks and paralyze unit movements.  The Soviets constructed elaborate defense belts & fortified hill tops.  These strong points were defended with land mines, anti-tank ditches, and camouflaged anti-tank guns.   Many small villages dot the landscape, these also were fortified by the Soviets, with guns gun into the stone buildings.  Notable terrain features include the old Soviet “Baracken” and the railroad line constructed on a 30 foot high berm.

Breaking through the Soviet defense lines occupied much of the German offensive.  Pioniere would advance under cover of machine gun fire to clear a path through the minefields, then assault the trench lines with flamethrowers and explosive packs.  If a Tiger was present, the line breaking tank could advance & clear the Soviet guns & emplacements.  Most of these giant tanks were lost to mine damage to the running gear, underscoring the need for Soldiers and Armour to work together.

The author was critical of the T-34 tank and the lack of command & control which could be exerted over the tank.  T-34s lacked a radio which prevented senior leadership from communicating with tank crews.  Also, the tank commander functioned as the tank gunner.  This restricted the commander to only seeing the small slice of the world shown through the gun site.  Together, these factors prevented Soviet tank forces from taking advantage of battle field opportunities.

The only negative feature about the book is the lack of quality maps.  Each day includes a grey scale map of the area of operations displaying unit locations and movements.  However, landmarks are hard to distinguish – was that line a river, a rail road, or a divisional boundary?  The book could have benefited from small scale, color maps of the daily battles.

Through the Maelstrom by Boris Gorbachevsky, translated by Stuart Britton.  This second book is the memoir of a junior political officer in the Soviet army, recording his life in a Rifle Division from the battle of Rzhev to the end of the war in Lower Silesia.  The author spends many pages chronically the life of the common rifleman in the Red army trenches, covering the lack of rations, the harsh disciple, the problem of desertion, the integration of non-ethnic Russians, and the burning hatred of the Germans.  While the author did not participate in the Battle for Kursk, he does note celebrating at the news of the attack.   His own division was dug in behind deep fortifications & no doubt felt that the attacking Germans were about to run into stiff defense at Kursk.

The author’s career began at Rzhev – known as the meat grinder for the constant stream of Soviet attacks made “at any cost”.  Which in practice meant poorly supported infantry attacks (lacking in artillery and tank support) on dug in German positions.  Casualties were extremely high, with the author quoting a number of 1.3 million Soviet soldiers killed in the 14 month long operation.  Having survived Rzhev, the author is part of the pursuit of the retreating Germans & maintains contact until the Germans reform their defensive lines.  During this period, the author participates in another Red army tactic – reconnaissance through combat. A group of soldiers (platoon, company or battalion) would advance towards the German lines with the objective of having the Germans revile all of their concealed firing positions.  While this might generate valuable intelligence on the German fortification, it often came at the cost of the attacking infantry men. Another slightly less suicidal mission was the hunt for a “tongue”.  A small group of scouts would quietly sneak into the German trench lines & abduct a soldier for interrogation.

The Soviet Soldier of World War Two by Philippe Rio, translated by Lawrence Brown.  This is a picture book of Soviet uniforms and equipment from through out the war period.  Reconstructions of uniforms along with period pieces are displayed in high quality photographs.  A very valuable book for anyone trying to get the right shade for a Soviet uniform, or needing to know the proper color for a shoulder board.

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