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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bolt Action - Review: Black Tree Design NKVD

Most people don't realize this but the NKVD, the law enforcement arm of the Soviet Union, did not just place political officers known as Commissars amongst Soviet troops but were also fielded units.  As troops they often served as border guards on the Soviet frontier and as border guards to prevent desertions.  There were even times they served at the front as full time combat troops.  In the waning months of the war, Stalin also used these troops to purge the Soviet Union of unwanted or unwelcome ethnic groups and political enemies.

While there are a variety of Commissar type figures available from most companies only one, that I am aware of, makes a full range of NKVD troops, Black Tree Designs.  These troops come in a variety of poses and can be armed with SMGs or Rifles.  There is even a NKVD Maxim Machine Gun team.  I recently finished a commissioned project of ten NKVD troops with SMGs for Grandpa Boltaction, Old Man Morin.

For those that have experience with Black Tree Designs you know that their troops are all metal figures that require no assembly other than bases.  Depending on the model there can be flash to clean up with the occasional hidden flash that get missed until your already painting.  This is nothing too extreme and usually only requires a hobby knife.

Unlike their Commissar counterparts, NKVD troops did not wear blue pants.  They also had a variety of uniforms depending on what roll they played within the NKVD.  Brad wanted a standard look with khaki uniforms and blue hats but we could have swapped the blue hats out with green ones if he wanted.  I have also seen NKVD troops with black pants and white tunics.  If you are thinking of fielding NKVD troops in your army I would encourage you to do some research before you slap paint on the metal, you might find a uniform alternate that you like that will give your army a different look.

Like with the Soviet Scouts I painted for the Old Man, I did up some rubble bases using ballast and small bricks to give the NKVD a rough city fighting look to them.  Brad has mentioned a few times running these troops in a Stalingrad themed list, which is awesome.

I really dig these troops, even picked up some NKVD SMGs and riflemen for myself.  I like the flavor and options the NKVD units give to the Soviet player.  It nice to have a unit that looks different on the table and it's even more fun to paint one up.


Anthony Emmel said...

The hat colors generally showed the two divisions of the NKVD. Blue hats were internal troops (used as blocking troops against deserters, for instance); green saucer caps with raspberry piping were the true border troops that took heavy losses on 21 June 1941.

There's a nice late war M43 tunic in a dark green that was more of an NKVD shirt.

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