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!