Saturday, 12 January 2013

FoW Soviet infantry army

This is an old army of mine which, to be honest, hasn’t seen action for several years. It was my first and only FoW force, and retains a special place in my heart.
Two full infantry companies
Artillery Battalion
Artillery Battalion
45mm AT guns
45mm AT guns

Artillery HQ
Artillery HQ
 The walls are from the sniper set. The horse is from AB's ACW range. I like the way the Battalion Commander is admiring the banner.
Artillery tractors
There are several reasons I liked this force:
  • First, it marked the addition of a new technique to my painting. I had seen some black-lined figures at a convention previously, and was determined to give it a go.
  • Secondly, it was the largest army I’d ever completed. It broke a psychological barrier- if I could paint that army, there would be no project too big.
  • Thirdly, it was my first foray into 15mm.
  • Fourth, it won a prize! I remain really chuffed about this. It was years ago, and it wouldn’t win nowadays, but even so…  (The Battlefront Staffer who presented it was quite surprised he made it through customs from NZ to Australia…)
FOW MOAB 2005 Best Painted Army

I have always had a soft spot for infantry and faceless hordes. I’m not so much of a tread-head. I was determined not to take vehicles, and only took the tractors because they were mandatory. These guys were fearless conscripts. I based them on the 92nd Special Brigade from a passage I’d read in Beevor’s excellent Stalingrad:

Despite being strengthened by Marine Infantry, the higher command of the 92nd Special Brigade collapsed under the German assaults. On 26th September, the brigade commander and commissar, followed by their staff, abandoned their men, pretending that they were off to discuss the situation with higher command, but in fact they withdrew to the large island of Golodny in the middle of the Volga. The following morning, when the soldiers learned that their commanders had deserted them, the majority rushed to the bank of the Volga and started preparing rafts for themselves. Some of them tried paddling out to Golodny island on tree trunks and pieces of driftwood, some just swam. The enemy, spotting their desperate attempts to escape, opened fire with mortars and artillery, and killed many in the water.

When Major Yakovlev, the commander of the machine-gun battalion, by then the highest-ranking officer of the brigade left on the west bank, learned that the brigade commander had deserted and sown panic among the troops, he took over command of the defence. He soon found he had no communications, since the signalers were among those who had escaped to the island. Aided by Lieutenant Solutsev, Yakovlev rallied the remaining troops, and established a defence line which, in spite of the shortage of men and ammunition, held against seven attacks over the next twenty-four hours. All this time, the brigade commander remained on the island. He did not even try to send more ammunition to the defenders left behind. In an attempt to hide what was happening, he sent fictitious reports on the fighting to 62nd Army Headquarters. This did him little good. Chuikov’s staff became suspicious. He was arrested and charged with Criminal Disobedience of Order No. 227- the ‘Not one step backwards’ order. Although no details are given in the report to Moscow of the sentence pronounced by the NKVD tribunal, clemency is hard to imagine.

The army had a few nasty surprises (I allowed myself a bit of beardiness, these are conscripts after all!):

Snipers- they were able to keep enemy artillery pinned and impotent.

Scouts- to cause some rear area havoc. Plus they look cool.

Flamethrowers- one shot, but a nasty surprise to enemy tanks or firmly entrenched infantry.

Vasilevsky's Blocking Unit, pour encourager les autres. IF one of your companies fails a motivation roll (3+), THEN Vasilevsky gives them another reroll- IF they fail that, THEN they get their commissar reroll- IF they fail that, THEN they take D6 hits that can be saved (3+) and are automatically pinned. My opponents were really happy to see me deploy this unit, and happy to see me (very rarely) gun down my own men, but when they realised that this means they never ever run away and your unit has to be killed to the last man to get it off the table, the horrible implications for them set in.

I liked the bald look, and was really happy with the 15mm faces.

I was really pleased with the command unit- the horse is from AB’s ACW range. I’d read about Zhukov parading through Berlin, and wanted a bit of that panache.

Despite my beardy tricks, I can’t say they were a roaring tactical success (I still reserve a special hatred for MG-armed light tank/ tankette armies); but I did enjoy watching more than a few opposing’s players faces change throughout a game as they went from ‘Closely bunched Conscripts! Here’s a gift to me’ to ‘Even if every dice is a 6 I still can’t kill enough…’.

I made some objectives. The statue was a 28mm Stalin- a lovely figure, I have no idea what company made him (if you do, please let me know). In hindsight, he needs a more square and, well, Stalinist plinth.
Comrade Stalin
Russians with vodka and accordion
Oh, and I wouldn’t want to be under my command. I recall one opponent grimly apologising for a forthcoming massacre as he set up a solid minefield across the width of the table. Rather than lose time clearing it, I used my commissars to 'encourage' the men to run across it. The surviving men used their flamethrowers with great effect against the defender before his reinforcements could arrive, who was somewhat startled…


  1. Sweet! And a little toe-tapping, vodka guzzling, and squeeze box is just what the medic ordered!

  2. The infantry all massed together looks awesome.