Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's Cold Out Comrade - 15mm WW2 Russians in Winter by Greg

For the motherland!!
Greetings once again to the good folks at Analogue Hobbies, Greg here.  In his recent post, Curt unveiled his Germans for our latest little project - late WW2 in winter on the eastern front in 15mm.  He asked me to share some progress photos on the Russian side of the project, so here is a Russian rifle platoon and tank platoon decked out in winter gear and basing.

You will see in these photos that a) I do not have a light box (one of these days maybe, but anyway) so sorry about the photos and b) that I have not yet cottoned on to Curt's very sensible basing scheme using different shapes to denote different functions in skirmish gaming (hex for officers etc).

Part of my hobby nuttiness is an undue rigidity in my preferences on basing i.e. if the infantry are round then they are all round dammit! This works well enough for skirmishing with 15mm sci-fi figures, where the function/role of an individual figure can stand out against the ambient table background a little better because of crazy painting, large weapons among other factors.

But for skirmishing at 15mm WW2, it's tricky to see the different weapons sometimes (or maybe all the time for some players).  So I have ordered some new bases! But in the interim, labels will have to do for my fellows until I get them sorted on to new bases....anyway, on to the figures!

Russian infantry advance through the snow
A sniper waits in ambush - the snipers were pretty scary when we tried Chain of Command, so I thought it would be fun to include one
The infantry in this post are from Peter Pig (in my opinion the very best WW2 15mm figures out there, if you can figure out their bloody web site).  The only exception is the sniper - a spare from a Battlefront pack.  The infantry contingent includes three nine-man squads, two officers and a sniper.  Enough for a Bolt Action of Chain of Command-type skirmish game.

Another view of the charging Russian troops - beautiful sculpts from Peter Pig
After experimenting with different sorts of snow-flake type groundwork products, I opted instead for gel.  I used a mix of different gel mediums on the bases, painting the snow a light blue-grey, and then dry-brushing various shades of white, before tossing in some dirt and adding some grass.  The photos make the grass look really yellow but that is a reflection of the lighting issues on the photos - the grass looks much less lively in person.

The officers are front and centre in this shot
I have been wanting to do winter WW2 gaming for years, and talking about doing it for years, but I always hung up on the details before getting started.  I didn't really know how to do snowy terrain.  It seemed pointless to duplicate my existing 15mm stuff. I didn't want to get another set of table terrain.  Lots of reasons (read: excuses) which, oddly, never popped into my head when I thought of doing, say, desert terrain.  So I'm glad Curt finally kicked me into gear on this one.

There are so many compelling campaigns from winters on the Eastern Front - the counter-offensive at Moscow, the counter-offensive around Stalingrad, fighting around Kharkov, the liberation of the Ukraine, Korsun and Cherkassy pockets.  There is something about the winter of the Eastern Front that is extremely mournful...I can't wait to play some winter games.

The NCO is a blurry with the SMG, but you can see the LMG on the right
The tanks are all from the Plastic Soldier Company. Close inspection will reveal I likely put the wheel assemblies on backwards on one of the tanks.  I don't what it is about model tanks, but that is just something I'm prone to doing. Even the relatively straightforward PSC model tanks are a cluster f*ck in my modelling hands...oh well.  I will never turn heads at the IPMS.

T-34/76 from Plastic Soldier Company
A great thing about the PSC tanks is the spare turret - you can upgrade your drive on Kharkov to a drive to the Oder with the quick switch of a turret!

Quick turret switch and you upgrade to a late-war Guards tank regiment with T-34/85s in no time
Many winter vehicle models I have seen online have a very pristine white paint jobs on them. But that never makes sense to me.  I imagine the life of tankers on the Eastern Front. Who had time to take the tanks for a nice, proper paint job at the depot?  The tanks were needed at the front! The pressure was on to continue the advance! Particularly on the Eastern Front, where the Russian army typically launched shattering counter-offensives and offensives in the winter.  The tanks were driven through all manner of rough terrain, in incredibly tough elements, in combat conditions that to my mind would wear away a rapidly applied field paint job.

Ready to roll toward the Baltic and the Oder river
And winter is seldom pristine on vehicles of any colour.  Snow looks pretty and white in post cards (and at Christmas), but I know from growing up here in Winnipeg, snow gets dirty, mushy, and messy in no time at all.  So I tried to reflect that on these tanks - hard-living and hard-fighting T-34s of the Motherland!  Lots of paint chipping, weathering, soot and mud from the hard work of driving the fascist vipers from Mother Russia.

Soot. Exhaust. Mud. Fun!
I'm really glad to have made a start on the winter 15mm stuff.  I look froward to getting these on the table against Curt's fine late-war winter Germans next month.  I am also going to start on some winter 15mm Germans of my own so we can do some winter games here with the group in Winnipeg.  And the neat thing about winter is that once you have winter Germans, then maybe I can go to some winter Americans...and Battle of the Bulge?  One thing at a time...