December 22, 2014 by catomighty
Folks at the local club having been playing Bolt Action WW2 games for awhile now. It’s not a brilliant game, but it’s a pretty good game — fairly entertaining, quick to play, by the end of each game it feels like an episode of Band of Brothers — so all in all, a decent cinematic game. For quite awhile I resisted buying any of my own figures for it though since I already have battalions of 1/87 WW2 miniatures and didn’t want to start expanding into another scale for the same period.
But, the game’s been growing on me, and earlier this fall I made the mistake of saying that I’ld put together a late war force if there were enough of the Canadian Army vehicles available in 28mm. Came home from the game that day and did some research to unfortunately discover that yes, there is a decent assortment of the Canadian vehicles available in 1/56 scale. Grrr — now I’m building WW2 units in another scale!
I’m starting with a couple of troops of the 12th Manitoban Dragoons, aka the 18th Armoured Car Regiment, the Reconnaissance element of the Canadian II Corps from D-Day to the end of the war. I chose this regiment because it features a handful of vehicles that add that special Canadian flavour — Staghound Mk.I armoured cars, and by the last few weeks of the war that late-war Canadian super-weapon, the Staghound Mk.III as well; Ford Lynx scout cars; M3 White Scout Cars to transport their infantry troops, and by late ’44, Chevy Armoured Trucks as well. Currently the Lynx is not available, but I can convert a Daimler Dingo. No Chevy 15CWTA models either at this point, but the White will do just fine (and since the US Army wasn’t driving them around by ’44, they add to the late-war Canadian flavour).
Since Bolt Action is primarily an infantry skirmish game though, the vehicles will get painted later. First to hit the painting line are two infantry Support Troops for the Regiment. These involved a number of fun conversions, which was another reason to go with the Armoured Car Regiment. As Armoured Corps troops, they wear black boots and black berets or the Royal Armour Corps (RAC) pattern helmet (looks like the British Paratrooper helmet, but without the big chin cup and the extra strap that goes around the base of the skull).
Most all of the heads in this unit came from West Wind Productions’ Swappable Head System packs of heads for British Paratrooper Berets (with the moulded-on paratrooper wings removed) and Helmets (with the aforementioned chin-cup and back-head strap removed). Nearly half of the figures themselves are also West Wind’s swappable heads guys, the remainder being an assortment of Warlord Games and Artizan. They all mix well with each other.
Canadian uniforms are a more greenish hue than British ones; buckles are brown. I was working primarily from photos in Jean Bouchery’s From D-Day to VE-Day: The Canadian Soldier at War. Uniform painting info, using Model Masters’ enamels:
* Primed with SAC Bomber Green spray paint.
* Uniform dry-brushed with various layers of French Chestnut, Faded Olive Drab, Italian Olive Green, and probably a few other colours that I happened to have on my brush at any point.
* Umber splotches for mud stains on knees, butts, and elbows (I prefer the look of more natural stains accrued from crawling through the mud rather than washes that darken creases in the casting of the figure).
* Manitoba Regiment shoulder patch: Insignia Red.
* II Corps blue diamond patch: Cobalt Blue.
* Rank Stripes: Desert Tan, with an Insignia Yellow dot at the bottom of the chevrons for the Regimental blazon.
* Officers rank tabs on shoulders: Insignia Yellow.
* Packs, webbing, pouches, etc.: basecoat Sandgelb, and then drybrushing in different combinations of sandy and brownish colours to give a spectrum of variegated weathered colours.
* Buckles: Signalbraun.
* Helmets: Dark Green basecoat, netting SAC Bomber Tan, then various dry-brushed highlights.
* Berets: Flat Black, Dunkelblau highlights, Gold regimental badge.
Now, on to the photos….
The really fun conversions in this batch were the machine gun crews. Since these troops rode in US-built White Scout Cars, they have more Browning Machine Guns available to dismount from the Whites than they have troops to fully crew them all in a dismounted mode! Each Troop rides in three Whites. There’s (1) .50 cal. and (2) .30 cal. MGs mounted on each White, with only the driver and 7 passengers on board. I modelled one of each caliber for each troop. However, no miniature manufacturer makes Commonwealth troops with Browning machine guns. So the crew figures are converted US troops with a bit of recarving of their belts, backpacks, and canteens, and head-swaps to make them Canadians. One of the gunners is a converted prone figure of a PIAT gunner.
The miniatures for these belt-fed MGs hold up best if the gunner and loader are both permanently mounted on a single base. I used wooden oval shapes from the craft store to use as bases for them, and cut one end of each oval off to get the required length. .30 cal guns start with 3 crew, and the .50 cals start with 4. I mounted the additional crew figures on their own 20mm round bases, and also made 4 bases with just an ammo box on it. The 4th crew figure just stands separately from the MG base. The 3rd crew figure sits on the MG base, when that figure is removed as a casualty, it gets replaced with an ammo box to fill the space where the figure was. When the loader is removed as a casualty, well the figure is glued to the base, so then the ammo box is removed and reveals a “-1” painted on the wooden part of the base to show that the loader is gone.
The texture on all of the bases is simply Minwax Stainable Wood Filler, coloured with a pinch of some Brown powdered Rit Dye mixed in. Since the Canadian army got stuck slogging through the bogs of the Low Countries, I just left the bases looking like mud. The Canadians spent a lot of time in the mud. By mixing a pinch of dye in a small ball of wood filler, each little batch came out in slightly different shades. I didn’t thoroughly mix the dye in, so there’s a lot of variegation in the surface colour. And also put little dabs from each new batch onto prior bases to add different coloured splotches.
When I’m done painting my figures, I give them a coat or two of Testors Gloss Cote for durabilty, and then a coat or two of Dull Cote to take the shine off.
For these figures, I gave them one coat of Gloss before adding the texture to the base. That way the paint wouldn’t be damaged in handling during the texturing process. Once the texturing was done, I did the next coat of Gloss in several very light sprays from 4 different directions, and waiting about 20-30 minutes between each of these sprays. I wasn’t sure if the dye on the surface of the wood filler might run into an even shade when wet with the spray varnish. Doing the series of light sprays, they didn’t run.
Rifle Sections — 5 rifles, 2 SMGs, 1 Bren available per section (normally 7 men per section, but in the bocage country, they fought completely dismounted and the driver can join them):
Command Groups, a Lieutenant with Thompson, radio operator, and medic for each Troop, plus a Captain in the middle:
PIAT and 2″ Mortar teams, 1 each for each Troop:
Minesweeper Teams, the Support Troops provide the basic pioneering duties for their Armoured Car Troops as needed— clearing mines and obstacles, repairing/laying bridges, etc. The minesweeper figures from Warlord have very bendy handles on the sweepers; I stiffened these by notching the wires and lumpy bits on the underside and gluing in a piece of .020 brass wire along both the lower and upper end:
For gameplay, each troop has 21 men to choose from (24 if the White Scout Car drivers dismount too. Lieutenants, medics, radio operators, weapon teams, and minesweepers are all part of this total, along with soldiers left fighting as plain rifle sections. Generally each troop will be fielded with 1 Lieutenant, 2 sections of 6–7, and the remainder allocated to other specialties.