Here we proudly present a guest post from a passionate Bolt Action player and forum member Chris, who fielded this Dutch army at the recent MOAB tournament in Sydney, Australia. This KNIL (Royal Netherlands East Indies army) platoon is not only quite possibly the only Dutch army being played in Bolt Action in Australia so far but is a truly unique hobby effort. No suprises that it won the coveted "Hano-swag" award at the tournament. An award that celebrates historical and 'cool' units over points efficient ones. Chris explains why it's always good to go with 'cool'...
So why choose Dutch East Indies?
Looking through the French and allies book, I was looking for something that would be interesting to play and interesting to make and interesting to research. I did want to do something near home and in the pacific theatre. I thought I had a better than average knowledge of the pacific conflict beforehand so I had a reasonable understanding of the area and didn't want to make yet another Australian army (especially when the bolt action lists are less than perfect) and I did have an Japanese army already, so wanted something to fight it.
I was checking lists and doing searching online but It was pretty hard going finding anything that was “out of the box” for inspiration. But then I found this site http://www.overvalwagen.com/ . I had found gold!
The list of tanks, vehicles, guns, planes and equipment that the Dutch could use were enormous. The equipment could be English, Dutch, Austrian, American, German, Italian, Denmark and Czechoslovakian European Militia units with German helmets, regular Dutch units with cutting edge equipment, guards units, militia and paramilitary units that were little more than semi armed rabble wearing traffic cone hats and every thing in between.
There were no figures and not much was readily available in 28mm, but there was most of the equipment and some stuff that was very close and easily (for me at least) modded to a reasonable facsimile of same. Then I found a new supplier of Dutch figures with swappable slouch hat heads, so we were off and running! Though there was the problem of there being only 10 different figures and no support weapons and no crew figures. But with a bit of planing a razor saw and pliers, all problems could be solved. So ok, I had an army I wanted to do but no list and not much play time (I had only played five games at this point) to decide on what was good in game terms to play.
Decision time.... what to take, power gamer or cool? always go for cool!
Luckily there was a lot of equipment that was American, Marmon Herrington tanks and armoured cars, Jeeps (KNIL forces being some of the first to use the Jeep), maple leaf Chevrolet trucks, even swamp buggies!
The English and Italian equipment was the same, most of it being available in 28mm. Some crewed weapons just needing head swaps and removing of equipment that wasn't close enough to KNIL pattern. The one unit that did stand out was the Royal guard unit which was one of the last to convert to a mechanised unit and appeared to have all the cool toys.
In the end the list looked roughly like this:
1st Leutenant and Tommy gun totting batman, meets the cool test? Check!
Indonesian unit with unarmed (I gave them all a knife or a flag or trumpet and a knife), pistols, rifles and lmg's head swaps figure modding and repositioning check!
Ooh look, if I took three I got one for free, love a bargain, so four units for the price of three check!
Medium mortar easy head swaps figure modding and repositioning, check!
Sniper team, easy head swaps figure modding and repositioning (telescopic sight and binoculars), check!
Anti tank rifle, warlord Italian figures head swaps and modding the solothurn gun removing the carriage and adding a bi-pod, check!
I did need some European troops, so regulars no cavalry though (I do like cavalry) check the list, I can take motorcycle troops!! oooh. A little research later I find that they were mainly Harley Davidson (Indian turned the Dutch down saying that they couldn't supply the huge order that the Dutch wanted). No one makes 28mm Harley with a side car (and no I'm not making side cars for the Harley) but they did have some BMW's as well. Easy, I could use the ones Warlord make, (head swaps, rifle and lmg swaps and removing the equipment from the figures that wasn't close enough) Cool, check!
Dismounts for the motorcycle troops, head swaps figure modding and repositioning check!
Elefantino 47mm antitank gun, (manufacturer's name removed - J) Italians with head swaps and some figure modding and repositioning check!
Free Medium howitzer, rather than take two I decided that I wanted variety and decided to take the bofors medium howitzer. No one makes one and pictures are very scarce. So it's a pretty basic mod of an American 105 howitzer (new gun shield and some changes to various bits). Since it was made I have found a better picture that shows that it wasn't a split trail but a single trail, more like German Krupp or similar but close enough and I'm not changing it now :-), so big boom stick done!
Tow tractor, strictly speaking you don't need one in bolt action but cool factor remember? Ok no one makes a maple leaf Chevy tow, but the LRDG Chevy is fairly close. Most KNIL trucks did not have doors and some of the maple leaf trucks didn't have roofs also, Soooo with a bit of trimming we have a cool truck. check!
Armoured car, so many options! Marmon's etc. but who could go past the stabswacht overvalwagens braat B? It looks to be a horror to make with a lot of angled plating, the other version being a little bit easier to make and I'm pretty sure no one would mind if I take it in its place. Ok I know no one makes one but how hard could it be? Guess? Harder than I thought, basically guesstimations of dimensions, made in cardboard then panels from plastic and mounted on a truck body. In the end it was close but I'm not happy with it but given the time I had to do it in. I didn't have time to spend fine tuning it. Cool armoured car with a 360 HMG? check!
Next a tank, you can't go past the Vickers swimming tank. Light tank with twin HMG's and it can swim! So passes the cool test. But the trouble was the only thing close to being available 28mm was the t-37 (the t-37a swimming tank made by http://www.agnminiatures.com/html/soviet_union.html ) (I changed the position of the turret, the drivers position, added a muffler from spares, a tool box, redid the turret shape and hatch, added a new mantlet and two HMG's. The running gear was also wrong so I added the reeds to cover them up rather than grinding them back and changing them wholesale)
White scout car, you can't go past the JTFM model http://www.diewaffenkammer.com/ just perfect some head swaps on the crew and your done, a bit more HMG spam and it has passed the cool test check!
Jeep with pintle mounted HMG. Head swap and a that's it.
With all the modding I started to run out of time. So I had to go the dip route for painting the army if I wanted to get it done in time for CANCON 2014. Painting took 3 and a bit weeks at full tilt doing nothing else in my Christmas break. A week out painting done basing done, reasonable effort I thought. Packed in travel box for flight. Then disaster, my wife gets sick the day before my flights (that's the disaster, not me not going) and I can't go. So into the box they go until October and their MOAB debut.
Though it wasn't a fine tuned list, out of the 4 games at MOAB I rarely felt I wasn't in the running the list performing better than I had hoped. It had all the tools but I didn't have the game time (due to my inexperience in playing) to make use of it. I could fine tune the list down to maybe 15 dice and ramping up the Indonesians with more pistols (for more assaulty goodness) and upping the Jeep to veteran maybe but the options are endless.
Phil Barker of WRG ancients fame once said “choose an army you can love even when it loses” and I think that's what I've done, if you choose an army for it's character you will never be disappointed with the result. You might lose ten games in a row, but the 11th you win is worth ten times as much.
Next maybe Bulgarians :-)
If you have any questions for Chris, our have some Dutch troops of your own to share then drop by the forum: