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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bolt Action - OXI - Greek Army Project Part 1: The Infantry

I finally got off my butt and started working on my long desired Greek army for Bolt Action. The Greeks contributed a small but not insignifcant fight force to the allies during the War.  Collecting a Greek army is difficult because there are no easily available Greek figures available in 28mm. Luckily you can substitute a variety of figures from other ranges, due to Greeces reliance on outside assistance for military hardware.

The Greek Army, called the Hellenic Land Army, became engaged with Axis force on the 28th of October 1940 when Greece was invaded by Italy via Albania. The 28th of October is known as OXI (ohi) Day. Oxi means no in Greek and was Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas answer to Mussolini's ultimatum that Greece allows Axis forces to Greek territory. The Greeks delievered the first Allied vicotry against the Axis when they repelled the Italians and invaded Albania.  At the time of the Italian invasion the Greek Army totaled 21 Divisions.  This drew Germany away from the east and delayed Operation Barbarossa. Many have argued that this was a major contributing factor in Germany failing to capture Moscow before winter.

After Germany defeated the Greek and British army in Greece and Crete, Greeks who escaped and who lived abroad volunteered to fight.  These Greeks formed the 1st Greek Brigade that fought at the Second Battle of El Alamein, the 3rd Greek Mountain Brigade which fought in Italy, and Sacred Band, Greek Special forces that worked with the SAS in North Africa and raided Axis forces in the Aegean. They also formed the 2nd Greek Brigade, but this unit did not see major action during the War. The Greek Navy was the second largest Allied Navy in the Mediterranean, and the Greek Air Force contributed several fighter squadrons to the North Africa and Italian campaigns.  On top of traditional military contributions, Greek partisans engaged in a long and brutal resistance war against Axis forces with support from the British SOE (Special Operations Executive) Military Mission under Eddie Meyers and Monty Woodhouse.  These Partisans helped SOE carry out a daring raid on the Gorgopotomas Bridge, a vital rail link between northern and southern Greece which was used to fairly supplies to Rommel's army in North Africa.

The Greeks used the Italian M33 helmet, under license, and it was widely issued.  The Greeks also had a limited number of French Adrian helmets and later in the campaign were issued British Brodie helmets.  The Greeks had a mix of uniforms which were similar in style to the Italians and they also wore some British uniforms, common among officers.  They also wore a lot of long coats and you could use Warlords French with head swaps.

Knowing this I decided to start My Greek force with Italian infantry, and British officer figures from Black Tree Designs.  I also did a fair amount of research to figure out uniform colors and equipment. I used the following plate to paint my Greeks.  The uniform is a brown/green color, so I used an olive drab.

Like many other nation the sub branches of the services were distinguished by colored collar tabs, with red for infantry, black for artillery, green for cavalry, purple for medical and blue for transport corps.

I put together a total of four squads, each with an LMG.

Only Greek command sections can use SMGs.  I used two Italian figures with SMGs (captured), and a British officer that I glued a plastic Thompson SMG to, for each of my two command sections.

I also made a sniper team for my Greeks using BTD Italians and a plastic scope from some left over bits from my Warlord Plastic Soviets.

Greek units, like the French, can take VB launchers (rifle grenades).  There are no readily available Italians with rifle grenades so I cut appropriately lengthen pieces of round sprue and attached them to the end of several rifles.

Last were the LMG teams.  The Greeks used a variety of LMGs.  This included captured Italian LMGs, Bren guns, and the French made WW1 relic the Chauchat.  I had a hard time finding Italian LMGs the I could buy individually (BTD doesn't make them and Warlord doesn't sell them individually).  If I bought British or French figures with LMGs I would also have to swap with Italian heads, so I opted to try my hand at making my own Chauchats.  Plus I thought the Chauchat LMG would give my Greeks a look that would distinguish them from Italians.

To make the Chauchats I used plastic parts from the Warlord and Wargames plastic Soviet box sets.  From the Wargames set I used the round DP LMG drum magazine and cut it in half to make the magazine for the Chauchat.  From the Warlord set I used a bipod and the fluted end of the DP barrel.  I am fairly pleased with how they turned out, but I did mount the bipod in the wrong spot.  It should be right in front of the magazine.

This is just the first part of my new Greek army.  I am currently working on some armor, artillery, support weapons, and some fun conversion.  Later I plan on adding some scratch built Greek cavalry and universal carriers.  As this army grows I will be throwing up images of my progress.

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