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Monday, September 19, 2016

Bolt Action - German 'Aufklärungs' army project (Part 1)

This is the start of a my latest army project for Bolt Action, 'late war' Germans. After doing many of the more obscure armies of the Second World War (Free French, Hungarians and Australians) I have finally decided to do a German army for the ETO. Being a fan of scouting forces I have decided on making mine an Aufklärungsabteilung. For those who don't speak German, that basically means a recon detachment. Let's take a look at the lovely miniatures from Warlord Games that I have started the project with; some Kradschützen and a Schwimmwagen.

Because I wanted to make my army set in the later part of the war, I decided to take the current metal bike troops and combine them with a sprue of the brilliant German Grenadiers plastic set to give them the appropriate look. To make what I have here, you'll need 1 sprue of the German plastic Grenadiers, 3 blisters of the DAK metal bikes with sidecars and finally a Schwimmwagen.

As you can see in all these WIP photos, the mix works really well and is easy to do.

The first pair of recon bikers here is the NCO and his driver. The officer is straight off the sprue and the large base allows him to stand right next to his bike, like he has just stepped out of the sidecar for a better view of the battlefield.

His driver is the original one, just with some plastic equipment added to give him the European theater 'look'. The DAK metal crew are very free of equipment so it's easy to pile the new plastic stuff on.
Next up is a pair of basic cycle troops. I have again posed the side car rider as if he has just stepped out of it. I found the seated DAK passenger a bit to tricky to convert up as he is wearing shorts, so I am going for the easier option!

The rifleman is a plastic Grenadier with a metal head from the original DAK crew. The goggles are a great touch to give him the look of a motorcycle trooper.
I am also imagining this whole squad has just halted to deploy and fire on the enemy. Having a central story helps pose all your miniatures in a context and they make sense to look at.
The final pair of kradschützen is the MG42 team. I have taken time to pose them as if they have just dismounted and are pouring fire on the enemy, using the bike itself for a stable platform and maybe even some cover.

This took a little time to achieve, with the gunner needing to have his MG still attached to the bike's sidecar. But the plastic models are brilliant for this kind of posing.

I've worked on a Schwimmwagen at the same time as my 6 man kradschützen squad. This will be my first army created with the 2nd edition of the Bolt Action rules in mind. With some of the rules around transports being tweaked, the German Schwimmwagen and Kubelwagon are very useful units in my recon force, and in any German platoon to be honest.

The changes mean that if these vehicles are upgraded with an MMG, they loose the vulnerablility of a transport (removal from the table if they end their turn closer to the enemy) and soft skinned vehicles now are not auto destroyed by small arms rolling a '6', instead they roll on the normal vehicle damage chart.

Medium Machine guns also gained an extra shot, and vehicle mounted ones do benefit from the 'Hitlers Buzzsaw' national rule. So in effect these small scouting vehicles can lay down 6 shots each and are fast. At 36 points for a regular one they are a good way to get my platoons order dice count up as well. What's great is they totally suit my recon platoon. Having 2-3 of them they can easily represent the transports of one of my Panzergrenadier squads, who will be 'on foot' in the game. In the next installment of this series I will cover the planned army list and the next units in the painting queue.

For now, let me say that the Schwimmwagen miniature from Warlord Games is superb. It comes as a one piece resin cast with the driver and stowage already sculpted on. Clean up and assembly are minimal. To show mine has been upgraded to have the pintle mounted MMG, I again used a plastic Grenadier from the sprue to model the gunner dismounted and firing off into the distance, with the vehicle halted and the driver is spotting for him. This was a simple conversion and the metal MMG from the Schwimmwagen simply slotted into the mount it came with, I just turned it 90 degrees and added the gunner. 

So here are the finished models! I won't go into a step by step painting guide here (but will in a future article). I did however make use of this wonderful guide by the 'Moiterei's bunte Welt' blog for all my splinter camo ponchos and helmet covers. So no doubt you may find it useful too.

You can see using a large 60mm base allows for a great 'diorama' feel to each pair of squad members. Tree stumps, fallen logs, rocks and bushes can all be added to the basic base. For mine I simply used real twigs form the garden. The basic earth texture is made from polyfilla from a hardware store and smeared onto the base (you can see it in the WIP pics at the start of this article, it's the white stuff on the bases).

To create contrast in the colour scheme I went for a more 'blue-ish' tone of Feldgrau (Field grey). This looks great next to the warmer Dunkelgelb bikes and biege camo ponchos.

So there you have it, the first 2 units of my late war German recon platoon. The bikes and Schwimmwagen are truly the tip of the spear, the eyes and ears of the Panzers! There will be plenty more to come in this series as I add units such as Panzergrenadiers, Hanomag halftracks, all manner of armoured cars and some support weapons. So stay tuned for more. If you have any questions or would like me to explain more of anything you see in the articles just comment below and I'll do my best to reply or include the info in future articles. 

You can also keep track of the army in my WIP album here on our Facebook page.

By Bryan

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