Anyone that’s found this page thinking it contains either an overview of the COVID-19 restrictions in the UK or a link to a song by ELO is going to be a bit disappointed (OK, here’s a link to the ELO song). The title refers to my state of mind concerning the latest figures I’ve got painted (despite my wife saying it refers to my state of mind, end of story)!

When I planned this unit, whenever that was, it was intended to be a WW2 Russian Sub-Machine Gun (SMG) battalion. I always knew the Russians used tank riders to some extent (i.e. infantry carried into action on the backs of tanks) but I’d never really got to the bottom of how such units were organised or deployed. Working on a one-model-equals-20-soldiers ratio, I worked out that I needed three, three-man SMG companies, a two-man anti-tank rifle platoon and a single figure representing the battalion HQ. With this organisation I could allocate one company to each Russian tank battalion within a tank brigade. At this point I’m hoping either Pete (at SP’s Projects Blog) or Chris (at Not Quite Mechanised) are shaking their heads and cursing and will drop me a sharply worded comment to put me right (two-word comments with the second word “off” will be of little help guys)!

Anyway, on that basis I went through all my piles of plastic and metal 20mm figures, gathering up those carrying SMGs and got the figures I wanted all based, undercoated and primed. They sat round for months/years but I thought they’d be an easy unit to finish for the end of the year. If I was thoroughly dishonest I’d have waited until early January to post this and claim that I’d then managed to complete both Ann’s First Of The Year challenge and Dave Stone’s Paint What You Got challenge, but the howling gales have subsided and we’ve had some sunshine, so I’ve been able to varnish these figures and take some pictures of them!

The twelve figures are a mixed bag (shown above). The three guys running and waving their arms about are ESCI plastic WW2 Russians that I originally painted in the 80s – I’ve just re-based them and added some highlights. The four figures kneeling firing SMGs are from the Strelets WW2 Polish infantry set depicting Poles fighting with the Russians on the Eastern Front. The three crouching figures are actually proper Russian tank rider figures in metal from Britannia Miniatures.

The anti-tank rifleman is converted from an ESCI figure and, once again, is an 80s figure. Lastly, the unit commander (with the binoculars) is an SHQ metal Russian artillery officer/observer. I really only needed to paint eight figures, since the 80s plastics were essentially already done, so it didn’t take much work to finish off the others. The picture below shows them with two of my Fujimi T-34/85s, also painted in the 80s!

In the mid-90s I re-painted three other T-34s and actually glued some tank riders to the models themselves (a mix of Britannia metal and Revell plastic figures) and these are shown below. If I did this now I’d add the tank riders to square bases that could sit on the rear engine decks of the tanks and be placed on the ground once they’d dismounted.

Knowing that I’d be writing a post about these figures I thought I’d better try and sort out the unit’s organisation. Having looked at my “Companion To The Red Army” book I think I maybe understand things a bit better now. In late 1943 the motorised rifle battalion in each Russian tank brigade was converted to an SMG battalion. Aside from the obvious issuing of more SMGs to these units, two of the former motorised rifle companies kept their heavier support weapons and were generally transported in trucks, whilst the third SMG company was carried into action on the backs of the brigade’s tanks. This means the SMG-armed figures I’ve just painted are best used to replace some of the riflemen in my normal infantry battalion to allow it to represent the newer SMG battalion organisation, which probably means I’ve painted more figures than I needed to! I’m working on the assumption now that I think I know what I’m doing, but best not mention any of this to my wife!

Given that there are only two days left in the year I doubt I’m going to paint anything else in 2020, so I’d just like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and hope that 2021 is not quite as mad as 2020 has been!


  1. Great work on all the models John, and being very honest about when they were painted to, I don’t think Ann or I would have known ! LOL
    Hope you have the best new year possible

    Liked by 4 people

  2. You had gotten serious skill already in 80s mate! Really nice diorama-wise and always love your bases.
    Weathering on the tanks as well as the highlights on all mins are great.
    Considering how much everyone hated 2020 I actually liked it for the most, so that I didn’t have to go by train to Uni for 1 houre to and back home without being punished for being too lazy to. But I digress after somewhat 10 months I actually started missing meet-ups with friends…
    That said Happy 2021 if you don’t post another blog-post till then. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’m planning on finishing off all the painting projects I planned for 2020 today and tomorrow. Should be a breeze. I can’t remember planning any projects.

    I like the look of the Soviets and your comments about Polish troops fighting in the Soviet forces has given me one more area of checking, reading and researching to consider. Thanks … I think.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Thomo! πŸ™‚ I’m assuming I’ll actually finish nothing else this year, so might as well prep stuff for next year! I seem to remember from the Osprey Men At Arms book on the Polish Army in WW2 that Poles fighting in Russia wore a grey uniform rather than khaki and had a white eagle badge on the front of the helmet (but that was a long time ago so I could well be wrong)!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Very nice John, I for one would never have known the unit comprised of different manufactures, they look like a perfect match for one another as far as I can see. As for 2021 here’s hoping for better things and getting life back on track. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Lovely work as always, as said above even your “older stuff” is beautifully painted and weathered!

    Would it make me a bad person to say that I actually enjoyed 2020, not the pandemic of course, but having to stay home and paint for six months of the year I could get used to!

    Have a great new year mate. Oh and if you can fulfil two challenges with one lot of figures I say more power to you!

    Cheers Roger.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks Roger! πŸ™‚ Funnily enough, the older T-34s were my first attempt at trying thinned acrylic paint as a mucky wash and, in my eyes, it was a complete disaster and I’ve never tried it since (enamels work much better as far as I’m concerned). Even though I haven’t got any more painting done this year, working from home has been OK for me. Here’s wishing you all the best for 2021!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I had a good chuckle a couple of times while reading this! 2020 is the year of confusion I’d say πŸ™‚ I really like the latest miniatures that you touched up. They’re dynamic and look more like individuals than some WWII minis I’ve seen. WWII is nowhere near an area of expertise for me but I will say that Russians piling on top of a tank is an iconic image from that war in my mind and I hope you get the details worked out. I can imagine how vexing that would be and I appreciate your attention to detail and desire for historical accuracy as well!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Jeff! πŸ™‚ To be honest, as I’ve got older I’ve been less strict with details! What’s probably more irritating is tha fact that I might have painted more figures than I need! The sooner I learn to count without having to use my fingers and toes the better!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Absolutely no apologies necessary, Marvin! πŸ™‚ I know you’re having a busy time at the moment. A Happy New Year to yourself – if we can still be civil and exchange pleasantries, the battle’s half won already (that way too philosophical for me – I must have read it somewhere)!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I always love the action shots of your newly painted minis and this one is no exception. Those men are braver than I am, I couldn’t think of anywhere worse than the back of the tank. It’s just asking to have a giant target over your head!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Those are some cracking Russians you have there. The guy with the recoilless rifle looks like he is about to do some serious damage. (I don’t know why but I’ve always liked recoilless rifles.)

    An interesting article on Soviet tank riders on Wikipedia:

    Thanks for the ELO link. They were one of my favorite bands when I was a tweener back in the days when Dunkleosteus terrorized the oceans. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Ann, glad you like them! πŸ™‚ The weapon in this case is actually not a recoilless rifle but an anti-rank rifle, basically a large calibre, long-barrelled, almost conventional rifle, but in 14.5mm calibre. The Russians had two versions, the PTRS and PTRD, one being single shot and the other semi-automatic. Aside from the early WW2 anti-tank rifles used by the Poles and Germans, most anti-tank rifles were in larger calibres and big and heavy! Despite the extra weight of them, recoil was vicious due to the need to fire the projectiles at high velocity to defeat tank armour. Today’s equivalents are anti-material rifles (which I think is the politically correct term for sniper rifles).

      As tank armour increased during WW2, anti-tank rifles became less effective and the true recoilless weapons, firing hollow (or shaped) charge projectiles, became the usual infantry weapons for defeating armour. The bazooka is probably the best known example of its type. Heavier recoilless rifles (75mm calibre) were used by the Germans during the invasion of Crete in 1941 and by US forces in the Pacific near the end of the war (in 57mm and 75mm calibres I think). These developed into the larger 106mm weapons carried on jeeps during the 50s/60s/70s and also mounted on the US Ontos tank destroyer deployed in Vietnam.

      Back in the late 70s a group of us in high school set up our own countries (imagi-nations in today’s parlance) and built up wargames armies using contemporary military equipment, most of which had to be scratchbuilt in cardboard. I can remember my airborne units having plenty of jeeps armed with 106mm recoilless rifles and I loved the models! I think that’s also when I picked up my liking for ELO’s music!

      Thanks for the tank desant link – that’s quite a useful article! πŸ™‚ And, despite liking dinosaurs as a kid, I’d never heard of Dunkleosteus!


  9. Excellent post, John! Love the tank riders actually on the rear engine decks. As I understand it, tank riders were a wartime expedient that compensated for a shortfall in trucks. I gather that they had a high unit turnover and short exciting lives!

    Regards, Chris.

    Liked by 1 person

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