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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Bolt Action - Converting up a Soviet SU-57

I recently got my hands on a M3 Half-track from Rubicon Models and had planned to add it to my Soviets as a lend-lease vehicle. While talking to the other guys at the Bolt Action Alliance about it, the idea of converting it into something special came up. With that idea I went off into the wilds of the internet searching for obscure variants of the M3 and it didn't take long to find the SU-57.
The SU-57 is the Soviet designation for the T48 GMC. It is a M3 Half-track equipped with a M1 57mm AT gun, made by the US for the British, for use in the desert in 1943. Unfortunately, by the time they begun to arrive in the desert, the battle was all but over and the M10 Wolverine was a better alternative for a mobile anti-tank gun. Great Britian quickly palmed these vehicles off to the Soviet Union with the Lend-lease program, and Uncle Joe was happy to take 650 of them.

To make my SU-57, I banged together the Rubicon M3 kit in no time as the base of the vehicle. As is typical with Rubicon, the kit went together like clockwork and has great detail. I left off the MGs (the kit comes with a .50 cal and four .30 cal MGs!) and added a few items of extra stowage from the Rubicon Axis Stowage Set 1, like tarps and extra fuel cans.

This was my first serious conversion attempt for scratch building something for a vehicle in Bolt Action. I usually chop and convert plastic infantry and it's one of the reasons why I prefer working with plastic over metal or resin, but for this one, I was going to have to channel my inner Lotz. It actually turned out easier then I expected! My advice is if you have an idea, give it ago. You may be pleasantly surprised. Now I only used a hobby knife for this (straight away ignoring one of Jakob's golden rules about having the right tools) but I would suggest if you have a go at making this, that a few more tools might have been the smarter route.

For the base of the gun, I used a 45mm gun from the Plastic Soldier Company AT Gun set, with the barrel snipped off and a larger calibre barrel from the Rubicon M10/M36 kit attached. While not 100% accurate for the M1 57mm gun, the fact that it is hidden by a big gunshield means you can get away with this if you want. The gunshield itself, is made up from a piece of Rubicon StuG schürzen (the panels cut up and shaped for the sides) and a spare turret piece from the M10/M36 kit for the top (cut in the middle to shorten it to the appropriate length). The pedestal mount is again, a mantlet from the M10/M36 kit cut down and attached to the bottom of the AT gun.

The Rubicon kits gives you two seated crewmen. I have used the driver, but given him a head swap with a Warlord Games Soviet head and I have replaced the passenger with a metal Warlord crew from their GAZ Jeep. The two gun crew use the Plastic Soldier Company AT gun crew as a base, with head swaps from Warlord and the guy at the back of the half-track has a PPSh-41 as he looks out the back door.

Now you may notice the headlights have changed from the pre-painted to the post-painted photos. I mistakenly assembled them in the wrong position (should be on the grill not the fenders) and only noticed once I started painted. A good reminder to double check your source photos when doing a conversion!

The SU-57 isn't represented in the Bolt Action rules, but there is a similar vehicle in the US book which mounts a 75mm gun. The only difference is the 75mm gun has a bigger HE round. So the rules below omit this special rule to better represent the SU-57.

Cost: 96pts (Inexperienced), 120pts (Regular), 144pts (Veteran)
Weapons: 1 hull-mounted forward facing medium anti-tank gun
Damage Value: 7+ (armoured carrier)
Special Rules:
- Open-topped

I'm pretty keen to get this guy onto the table. While not a game-breaker, it's a fairly cheap, mobile, semi-armoured AT gun. It'll make a healthy addition to my Soviet steel convoy. If you have any conversion ideas you want to try or if you try your hand at making your own SU-57, let us know either on our facebook page or the forums.

"Anf" is a long-time gamer from Down Under, who currently focuses his hobby time on Bolt Action.
With an equal love of  rockets and Ice Hockey, he constantly explores weird and wonderful army lists in his never-ending quest to collect them all.

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