Bolt Action: British Infantry Squad #1

As we head into late autumn in New Zealand, I’m continuing to paint my Bolt Action British 1250 point army. Having painted most of the fun stuff first (possibly a bad idea), I’ve cracked down and finished the first basic 10 man infantry squad. This is a Bren LMG, 7 riflemen, an SMG and an NCO with SMG. I’m trying to pay a bit more attention to these guys than I would for normal rank and file, but even so you may notice none of them got eyeballs! The three foot rule applies to most of my tabletop figures…ie. if you can’t see it from three feet away on the war game table, I won’t bother painting it. I’ve got two more infantry squads and a Commando squad to paint to complete the core of the force. Everybody is regular apart from the Commandos, so that’s going to be a lot of folks to paint.

The figures still need a little more work in terms of basing. They’re meant to be a Normandy mid/late 1944 force, so I’m thinking of going with autumn basing of some kind. I recently picked up one of those handy leaf punches from Green Stuff World, so might go crazy with leaf scatter. This should be easy since the trees outside my house are dropping a collection of free leaves to hole punch.

Bolt Action: Cromwell with Light Burlap Camo

I’m still working on the Bolt Action British Army Starter box I purchased a couple of years ago. Latest off the paint table is the British Cromwell, which is the last vehicle I have to paint for the force. The Cromwell is a simple tank to put together and isn’t that detailed out of the box, so I threw around a little greenstuff to represent the common British ‘burlap’ camo.

If you look up period photos, you’ll see a wide variety of burlap + netting application on Crowmells in the field. To keep my life simple I just put some on the turret front facing and barrel.

The Cromwell also got minimal marking to represent a Guards Armored Division reconnaissance tank, which will be in support of my British Normandy invasion force. I managed to damage the “Normandy Star” transfer that comes with the tank while applying it, so these tankers get no air recognition markings…hopefully that doesn’t matter on the tabletop.

As with my other British vehicles this Cromwell has been painted with Vallejo Russian Uniform over gray primer. Then washed with inks and over-painted, edge drybrushed and weathered with AK Interactive powders on the lower body, and simply gray sponging on the top.

Bolt Action: Universal Carrier Recce + Radio

I’m still slowly plugging away at my Bolt Action British force, and recently finished painting my second Universal Carrier. Unlike my earlier Universal, this one appears in the force list as a Recce vehicle. So I wanted a way to set the two models apart. A bit of quick Google image searching and I came up with a few period photos of the Universal Carrier Recce, and the corresponding WW2 British radio sets they carried.

Most Universal Recce’s seem to sport a couple of side mounted antenna and the radio set seems to have been hung on the inside of the same hull wall. There’s no way I was going to fit a radio and a figure in the small space that way, so opted for a forward mounted radio set – which seems to be a less common option. It’s all pretty vague though, and even my copy of Osprey’s ‘Universal Carrier’ wasn’t much help. Ah well, guess I’m not a real rivet counter!

A few scraps of plastic-card, some nylon broom bristles and a touch of green stuff later and I’d added a couple of antenna and a simple radio set. One figure got to be the operator, kitted out with a beret from the plastic Warlord Commando box, a set of putty headphones and a microphone. The WW2 British mic seems to have been a bakelite ‘trumpet’ nicked straight off a 1930’s telephone from the look of it.

The rest of the crew was filled out with a few more cut up figures and arm swaps. The commander is (despite strict warnings otherwise) standing up in the cab with a pair of binoculars to hand. His feet were chopped around a bit to get them to fit in the cab space. The driver is stock, with a simple head swap, and the final passenger has his SMLE ready for security (although he’s a little hard to see in the photo). He was constructed with a simple shoulder cut and arm swap. I’m not entirely sure a Recce Universal would be that gunned up, but it got the standard AA Bren gun as well as a forward Bren.

The radio painted up quite nicely I think, and the Recee is definitely distinguishable from my other Universal on the tabletop which is handy. Here’s a shot of the rear with the operator removed, as I haven’t glued the back to figures in yet.

I still need to break out the weathering powders and dust up the tracks and lower hull a bit before sealing it all up. Unfortunately it’s super humid in Auckland at the moment, so varnishing might have to wait until late Autumn cools my garage down a bit more.

If you’re wondering why the ‘Normandy star’ is a bit off centre it’s because that’s based on period photos you’ll find on the web. More typically it was painted in the centre of the body I think, but my first Universal got an off centre star, so this one does too.

The Universal is a great little model, fun to assemble and paint, and it’s not a bad bit of kit on the table either. A cheap open topped ‘armored’ carrier sporting a couple of vehicle MGs to pepper enemy troop with. Two is enough for my force though, so its a Cromwell to finish painting next.

Bolt Action: At NICON 2016

Bolt Action NICon 2016 This Queen’s Birthday weekend I attended my second Bolt Action tournament in New Zealand. This time it was part of NICON 2016 run by the Hamilton Immortals Club. It was an early start and a day trip down to Hamilton with David Greig from Mighty Ape kind enough to give me a lift. There were a bunch of systems being played the Saturday, with Bolt Action being one of them. Unfortunately we lost a few players along the way, so it was a fairly small turnout of 7 players. No matter! I spent a cold but clear winter’s day playing four rounds of Bolt Action with my usual DAK Germans. We were playing basic scenarios from the Bolt Action rulebook, on some very nicely laid out tables.

First Game: Hold the Line, against a well painted Soviet starter force. I managed to win this one as Attacker because one objective was largely undefended, and the central objective was reasonably easy to capture as well. The medium mortar team proved their usefulness as usual by pinning an entire squad of Russians the whole game. There was an interesting stand off between my Panzer III and the T-34/85 as well, with the Panzer III sitting on ambush for most of the late game, waiting for the T-34/85 to poke it’s nose around from behind a central barn.

Second Game: Top Secret against a different Russian force who fielded several artillery pieces, and a SU tank destroyer of some kind firing HE. This was a challenge from the outset as a heavily armed Russian engineer squad crashed their truck on the package in the first turn (after getting hit by my Sdkfz-222) and captured it. From then on the centre of the table devolved into a swirling hell of fire, with flame throwers, artillery, and tanks adding to the mix. Fortunately the Russian waves broke after only moving the package 3″ or so, and the DAK captured it and performed the usual shady congo-line operation to get it off the board. Veteran troops saved my bacon here I think, particularly in the several vicious assaults that ensued.

Third Game: This was Envelopment on a brutally clear North African table. I recklessly chose Attacker because like most folks I hate suffering under preliminary bombardment. Unfortunately that was a bad idea, as my prelim bombardment was useless and then I had to advance across an open table under withering fire. I also suffered some catastrophic damage from enemy air support, and the result was my force being tabled. My opponent did suffer some losses along the way, including their HQ, so I wasn’t too horribly crippled on points lost. For Envelopment, I think either play Defender, or simply flank your entire force if you have to be Attacker!

Fourth Game: This was the scenario where you have to hold a central objective – a bridge over a fordable river on the Pacific themed table we played on. My opponent was fielding French troops, lovely metal figures with their interesting ‘fireman’ style helmets, and he was fielding a lot of them. It felt like waves of Frenchies were constantly assaulting the bridge I was trying to hold. He also bought along some Sendgalese Tough Fighters, who I probably focused a little too much on eliminating from the table. This game was super tense, and we timed out at 2 hours on turn 5, with two squads of Germans holding the bridge. Well one single survivor of a DAK squad and the 2nd Lieut! Again Veteran troops really helped me survive this onslaught, even desperately allowing me to manoeuvre in the open and under fire from artillery and a Char tank.

NICON 2016 Best Axis General I took along my Panzer III, because I felt like I’d need some reasonable anti-tank capability since it was an open list 1000pt tournament. Turns out I probably could have got away with just the Panzer II, would of course costs considerably less, leaving you more points for another Infantry team. Mind you the Panzer III is a solid work horse even against late war monsters, and is certainly better against infantry than the Panzer II. I’ve also recently picked up a DAK Flak 38 team, which I suspect I’ll replace an HMG with. It’s less dice, but packs slightly more punch, has longer range and is Flak for waving off that bloody air support!

All in all a great day of Bolt Action and I somehow managed to come away with award for the Rommel Award for Best Axis General. Perhaps it was destiny since I was fielding a DAK force!

Bolt Action: At Battlecry 2016

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Last weekend, on Feb the 20th I had the pleasure of attending the one day Bolt Action event at Battlecry 2016, excellently organised by the redoubtable David Mulder. It was four games, played by 14 players on a set of lovely Bolt Action tables, with four custom scenarios as well. Early War Bolt Action armies, with equipment allowed up to 1943. That was great as it gave many of us a chance to play crazy light/medium tanks that usually don’t appear in later theatres.

My four games were rather catastrophic, due to a mixture of poor generalship on my behalf (focus on the objectives man), and hard time limits. Even so I managed to have a fantastic day. I played the following games:

  1. My first game was against Saul’s legendary British Carrier force that the TCOW folks often talk about. I snatched a loss from a draw thanks to one squad being an inch away from the central bridge objective! The carriers were an interesting force to fight against, super mobile. I spent ages piling shots into the carriers just to pin the devils. It could have been a lot worse but my fine opponent failed a few order rolls for his pinned carriers, which meant 2-3 Carriers effectively weren’t in most of the game because they kept backing away. My Panzer II was pinned to heck and doing the same thing of course but that was my stupid fault.
  2. My second game was against the organiser David Mulder, who’s a nice guy but knows how to play Bolt Action fairly well and just murdered my Germans with his own Germans (Veteran on Veteran action is horrible, just horrible). I had around 200 points left from 1000 at the start, so I almost got tabled in that game. However there were a few moments of levity when my three surviving Panzerpioneers flamethrowered a squad and then his HQ squad.
  3. My third game was a game where I snatched a defeat from the jaws of victory thanks to the hard two hour time limit. One more turn and I would have had at least three squads on the objective, but the only squad I did have there was Banzai charged by a Japanese squad and murdered, which was a nice play by my opponent. We had at least one more turn, possibly two to play. Heather had a nicely painted Japanese force though, particularly the tanks, including an interesting Japanese tankette that was actually smaller than my Kubelwagen.
  4. Dads Army Force at Battlecry '16 My final game was a victory against British Home guard with another TCOW’er Paul Monk. He had a mad force of inexperienced old men led by the Dad’s Army metals you can get from Warlord. This one actually looked shaky mid game, but the Germans mopped up in the end and I almost tabled my opponent. His army won the ‘best themed’ force too which is fair enough. They were nicely painted and he was driving a BUS around the table, with 29 men in it! Unfortunately I failed to blow it up, and they all disembarked like a clown car, but Inexperienced troops against Veteran Germans went largely as you’d expect it, particularly since my opponent unfortunately failed to make any of their ‘upgrade to regular rolls’ when fired upon. The highlight of this game was the British arty observer calling in a strike upon himself and the nearby British mortar team and killing them handily. Alas he just managed to ping my Panzer II as well and blow it up, but it’d done plenty of damage before then.

My final result was 10th of 14, which I supposed isn’t too bad considering my mediocre Generalship! I’d definitely attend a Bolt Action tournament again too, although might tweak my force slightly if I do so – as I noticed I was the only army without a sniper team in the tournament!

Bolt Action: DAK Panzer II and Kubelwagen for Battlecry

Bolt Action Kubelwagen and Panzer II

Battlecry 2016 is this weekend! I’ve almost painted up the required 1000 points of Deutsche Afrika Korps early war Germans, with just one Hanomag remaining to varnish and weather before Saturday.

Here’s two vehicles I’ve knocked off in the last couple of weeks for the force. A Kubelwagen and a Panzer II in DAK colours. The more observant might notice the Kubelwagen driver isn’t quite correct for the period (hint the smock and helmet cover mark him as Waffen SS). Alas he’s the figure that came with the vehicle and I had neither the time, nor inclination to mess around with him prior to the tournament.

The Kubelwagen is magnetised so I can swap the open and closed canopy options and take the AA MMG out if required. I most likely will strip the AA MMG out when playing, because it’s +15 points on a +21 point transport vehicle. That almost doubles the cost of that order dice and adds an expensive MMG to a very flimsy vehicle that is likely to simply be skulking around the back of the table most games.

Bolt Action Kubelwagen and Panzer II The Panzer II was acquired for a very reasonable price from the last TCOW Bludgefest and is a fun little model to paint up and play. Normally I’d chuck some stowage on the back deck, as I have in the past with other tanks, but again time constraints meant I focused on painting it ASAP.

I’ll be very happy to finally knock off the Hanomag and call the 1000pts a painted force (although some could do with repaints). Regardless of how well I go in the tournament, it was great to have a target to aim for and actually reach. Although after spending about a month painting Bolt Action Germans I’m quite looking forward to taking a break and moving some Frostgrave or This is Not a Test figures back into the painting queue!

Bolt Action: Another Artizan DAK Squad + Objectives for Tourney

Bolt Action DAK Objectives A bunch of the TCOW folks are heading to a one day Bolt Action tourney at this year’s Battlecry in Auckland. In a moment of madness I’ve signed up as well, despite the fact my most painted army is DAK Germans. Germans are often acknowledged to be disadvantaged compared to newer Bolt Action forces, like the Italians for example.

So now I’m furiously re-jigging my army and trying to paint up to 1000pts to finish it off before the 21th of Feb this year. I don’t have a lot left fortunately and here’s the first group off the paint table. These are Artizan Designs DAK metals for my new 2nd Lieutenant, a small squad of six DAK Germans for a fourth squad, and three rather vanilla objectives. The objectives are more casts of my old Pulp crates, and are meant to represent supplies the DAK Germans desperately need to capture.

I have three vehicles left to paint, a small Kubelwagen transport, a half painted Panzer II to complete and a primed Hanomag as well. Given the partially painted state of all three of these vehicles I’m fairly confident I can knock them off before Battlecry rolls around. I’ll also have to try and remember how to play Bolt Action!

Bolt Action: DAK Panzer Pioneer with Flamethrower

DAK Panzer Pioneer Squad I’ve just finished up a third squad for my DAK Bolt Action force, now that I’ve finally painted up the Flamethrower I converted from a humble Rifleman.

This squad is built from two blisters of Artizan Designs DAK Germans, heavy on the MP38 carry figures as this is a Panzer Pioneer Assault squad.

They’ll be used as part of the 1000pt Bolt Action Early War force I plan to take to Battlecry in early 2016, where hopefully the Flamethrower can crisp some opponents, but is more likely to be relentlessly targeted for destruction.

DAK Panzer Pioneer Flamethrower The Flamethrower painted up nicely once I got down to it. I had to resist the urge to try and add sponged on grey dings to the back pack flame thrower tanks. Simply because I’d painted most of the figure before I thought of trying it, and it’d be too hard to control without getting paint on the uniform.

Unfortunately TCOW has closed down for the year, otherwise I’d take them out for a spin on the table. Ah well, 2016 isn’t that far away!

Bolt Action: Converted German DAK Flamethrower

DAK Flamethrower Side A couple of months ago I used some press-molded tanks from a Bolt Action Late War German figure (on the right) to build a post apocalyptic flamethrower conversion. That worked so well I also press-molded the tanks onto an Artizan DAK figure, so he could go into a Panzerpioneer squad.

He’s been languishing on my paint station since then, and I’ve painted up the other seven men in the unit, so he needed to be finished! Last weekend I trimmed down the tanks, taking off all the additional detail which hadn’t molded that well, and then built them up again with green stuff, based on the Bolt Action figure.

DAK Flamethrower Rear The hose is formed from a bit of 0.9mm garden wire which has been pinned into the butt of his original metal rifle, and slipped and glued into a bit of aluminium rod which was superglued to the bottom of the tanks.

The original rifle was crudely filed down to represent the simple barrel of the German flamethrower. Apparently the fuel was mixed and ignited in the barrel of the real thing, which must have got bloody hot, so I’ll paint his hands as gloved. Once he’s done that’ll finish the third squad for my Bolt Action DAK force.

Bolt Action: British Universal Carrier, 6 Pdr tow

Bolt Action Universal Carrier Despite not posting anything for a few weeks, I’ve still got plenty of projects on the go. I just haven’t managed to finish anything until this week when I knocked off this Universal Carrier for a friendly painting challenge, as well as a 6 Pdr AT gun for it to tow.

This is the Bolt Action British Universal Carrier, which is a rescaled Italeri plastic kit I believe. It comes with crew, who are nicely posed in the vehicle, but all have exactly the same rather bland facial expression. Fortunately I have a lot of spare heads from my Bolt Action British Army Starter box, so the kit crew all got head swaps, and a mix of helmets.

The Warlord British heads are great, and I had to use a couple of the moustachio’d gents for a bit of character. The driver head was a lucky choice too, as the painted figure looks like he’s grumpily squinting into road dust…perhaps from the armor up the front of a convoy. He was also my first attempt at using a light grey wash to suggest five o’clock shadow, which I think worked reasonably well. The trick seems to be doing maybe three or four light washes rather than a single heavier one.

Bolt Action Universal Carrier Rear Another first with this kit was using Microsol decal solvent to try seating the decals on both the vehicle and the crew shoulder flashes a little better than normal. It worked quite nicely and has the added advantage of smelling like very strong vinegar, which left me with a craving for hot chips. I suspect it’s just fairly pure acetic acid. There was still a little silvering around the edges of various decals, but I just over painted that prior to sealing them with some brush on matt varnish.

Weathering was performed with the Warlord recommended tip of just carefully sponging on some dark grey paint around the areas that you’d normally expect to see wear and tear. Some of those areas were then touched up with a soft 4B pencil to give them a little metallic shine. You can’t really see that in the photos alas, or on the table really, unless the light catches it.

Bolt Action Universal Carrier Tow After that, I dusted around some AK Interactive weathering pigments. I used both ‘Dark Earth’ and a mix of that and the lighter ‘North African Dust’ pigments for some variety. That was seated with the enamel AK Pigment fixer and everything was varnished a few times with both Testor’s Dullcoat and Army Painter matt spray varnish to try and keep it in place during gaming.

The 6 Pdr AT gun got exactly the same treatment as the Universal Carrier with paint job and weathering, but unfortunately the spray varnish went on a little wet and killed a large amount of the AK dust weathering effect. Ah well, the gun still looks ok so I’ll live with it. I’ve also magnetised the gun’s wheels and have started working up a large base for it and the related figures. I’m hoping to have that painted up by the end of this month as well.