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Archive for January, 2012

More Winter Warfare

Peter Pig Ski troops with Ushankas added

Continuing with my rather too obvious ‘winter break’ theme, I have completed some proper soldiers this time – a raiding patrol of Soviet Ski troops, all  (well, all bar 2) based on the three figures in Peter Pig’s German skiers pack (just about the only option) …

(Red Army raiding party: a small PBI platoon)

The key conversion component is a pack of PP Ushanka heads (and a pea sized blob of milliput).

For a basic ski patrol, swapping the heads for Ushankas and snipping off one or two obviously German items of equipment will do (in fact, given the realities on the Eastern Front, it is moot whether you need even bother removing the erroneous kit!) …

But as I had the knife and the milliput out anyway, I switched  the odd weapon around (DP machine guns for the LMG bases etc.) and added a little variety (the basic figures are either head swapped to ushankas or hood up  with milliput hoods blobbed over the German helmet) …

The officer is a kneeling shooting figure with an arm swap, and the radio operator is a German figure with a trim and a milliput hood.

I added trims to a couple of the coats to make them sheepskins.

The only real conversion is the scratchbuilt light mortar and team (the team being a prone Russian DP machine gunner and another of the kneeling firing skiers) …

Light Mortar Team

Although I’m pretty happy with the results, I can’t emphasise enough how quick and simple these conversions are (PP spare heads come with a pin already provided – trim to your desired length – so just drill out your hole with a pin vice and your ready to fix).  I still think the Ushanka heads are a little to big, but in amongst the bulk of the ski suits it doesn’t show up so bad.

(raiding party sweeps through the trees with the mortar in support)

Unusually for me with WW2 guys, I gave them a dressing in tinted varnish just to dirty up the white suits a bit (they look too much like a washing powder commercial in bright white) – again, quite a quick job but I’m happy with the outcome.

Bases are the clear plastic with clumps of white flock powder to simulate snow – same as on the aerosan and troika.

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Well, mine, for 15mm WW2.

I base for PBI although I play other games with the figures also.  PBI works in ‘groups’ on a notional 30×30 square base with a recommended 2 or 3 figures on it.  As PBI is played on squares any clear arrangement would work, including round group bases on coins and washers.

In PBI, platoons have a number of groups differentiated by weapon.   The standard infantry base would be the ‘rifle group’ of three men, or the ‘LMG group’ of 2 men.  Rifle groups can actually be ‘rifle’, ‘SMG’ or ‘assault rifle’/’auto-loading’.  LMGs can be standard types, ‘BAR’s or ‘MG34/42’s.   If you follow traditional organisation, as my local group does, the building block is the section, conventionally of LMG plus one or two rifle groups.  Two to four sections usually make up the platoon.  The platoon will have a command group, and maybe a support weapon or two (say a light mortar and/or an AT weapon).   Heavier support weapons will usually be in their own weapons platoons.  The platoon might be acting independently, or the Company commander might be present (with his own figure on a group base, maybe with some other assets in a HQ section).

I have developed a system of giving some of the groups characteristically shaped bases for ease of identification in play.   This post originates from a correspondent asking which was which.

(front of the base is lower on the page, throughout) … this shows my standard method of clipping the base corners to make identification easier in play.  No front corners = LMG; no rear corners = Platoon Command stand; no corners all round = Company command stands.

This doesn’t differentiate between the various squad weapons Rifle, SMG, Automatic Rifles etc. with or without Panzerfausts and such.

some Germans based according to the diagram

(Peter Pig 15mm figures)

Panzerschrecks are 2-man teams like the ATR, light mortars are on oval bases (long ways as it were) …

Larger support weapons – HMG, larger Mortars – are crewed with three figures on a standard base (and you have to look to see what it is – but hopefully that is clear) and will usually be the sort that need to expend APs to set up.

Engineers: troops equipped with mine detecting gear are on oval bases (facing side ways), and Man-pack Flamethrower teams are on round bases.

Those Germans also have a medic (on a small round base) and a sniper (under the pile of bricks!) – but no L. Mortar.

I could have made a number of additional permutations (covering all the bases as it were), but stopped at those simple ones as I wanted a symmetrical system that was easy on the eye (not too fussy).  You still have to do some looking, but the key player info (which is the LMG?  Which is the PC?  Who’s got the Flamethrower?) can generally be seen at a glance.

It becomes very useful with cavalry …

some Cossack bases

 (Peter Pig figures)

I use the same standard bases with 2 figures on each.  Mounted up, and with weapons slung it can be a little difficult, even for the owning player, to spot some of the equipment differences … so this approach is quite handy (the same key is used as for the foot stands they will probably quickly become when the enemy open up) …

Going to Operational scale, the LMG base becomes a battalion command, the PC a Brigade command, and the CC becomes a Divisional command, generally.  Obviously most stands are basic infantry squares – PBIs as it were …

Late War Germans in North West Europe

Troops in action: this party of German Scouts moving up the road could be a PBI section with PC attached … or a Regimental sized unit for NQM or Megablitz.   I hope a shot like this justifies the aesthetic decision to keep the corner clipping simple and symmetrical (although the differentiation couldn’t be clearer, I think it doesn’t show in a shot like this until you look for it) …

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Another winter flurry …

Troika

This is just an addition to the seasonal snowy stuff …

I can’t be the only one to have had the old Atlantic Revolutions Lenin/Stalin set and to have been bemused by the sleigh.   Plastic Soldier Review link.  Well, whilst building the rest of my Aerosans and ski troops, I discovered that rather than cannibalize it for bits (more of which might follow …), 3 spare 15mm Museum Miniatures horses would make it up nicely into a pretty convincing Troika.   Ideal for the Russian winter.

Of course, there’s a scale shift there … the original is 20mm – but as owners of the set will know it’s a very HO 20mm set, and I think it works fine with modern 15mm components.

I’ve modelled the central horse out-of-step with the outers, in traditional troika fashion (despite not really understanding how that really works).

I decided to leave the model empty at the moment, as it can serve as transport for goods or Staff for either side (though I might make some removable contents when the scenario demands), and to base it up using the plastic ice basing.

(Russian Winter: troika being passed by PP German Ski Troops)

(Frosty options: the Atlantic/MM troika next to a QRF aerosan)

This theme will doubtless develop … but as we jingle into the new year I just wanted you to know the three-horse open sleighs are always an option.  Note I managed to avoid the ‘winter draws on …’ patter (oops! well nearly …)..

These options come into their own when everything else is too frozen to work.

One of those ‘bits box’ classics that has been turned into a (sort of) wargame model and promoted to ‘available’.

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