Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Some moderns painted!

I've finally got around to doing something constructive over the last two weeks in terms of converting lead (and plastic) into fieldable forces. The catafracts still lying on my sidebench still looked too daunting a task for just a few evenings, so I went to my moderns trays to see what could be fruitfully pushed forward.

First up is another MSH battalion's worth of DANA vz.77 152 mm gun-howitzers to add to the one I already have. These are the Heroics & Ros 1:300 th scale model that was released in late 2012. For this second battalion, I've put the gun into travelling position (the barrels can also be positioned elevated). The previous battalion is intended tp represent a battalion from the 4th Army's 332nd Artillery Brigade; they received their DANA's only in 1985. This second battalion represents one of the divisional artillery battalions from either the 1st Tank Division or the 20th Motor Rifle Division; these being the best equipped of the Czechoslovakian divisions; they received their DANAs in 1980.

Next comes a PM-55 bridgelayer. This is a model by Karl Heinz Ranitzsch, aka Dragoman, done, like all my Shapeways purchases, in the cheapest plastic available - nylon-12 (aka Shapeways' "white strong & flexible").  The PM-55 is essentially a truck-borne version of the MT-55 bridgelayer, and thus suitable for MBTs to cross. WarPac MBTs at any rate; with a rating of 50 t, some western MBTs would be straining things... A model like this is only required for the single game turn it takes to set the bridge up - but it's such a beautiful model, I couldn't resist. The truck concerned is the Tatra-813 ("Kolos") 8x8 vehicle in production from 1967 to 1982, and with exceptional off-road capabilities due to its tubular frame split axle configuration. Karl Heinz sells not only the unfolding version shown above, but also a version in travelling configuration (plus a deployed bridge section).

And here is the travelling version... The PM-55 routinely sports a earth moving blade at the front to prepare the approaches to the bridging position, and Karl Heinz' model comes equipped with this. Like many Czechoslovakian pieces of equipment, the PM-55 saw some degree of export success, and this is why Karl Heinz models it - it served with the NVA (East German army).

And this is Karl Heinz' model of the AM-50, a lighter VLB that is also based on the T-813, and more suitable for infantry units being carried around in APCs. Like the PM-55, he sells an unfolding version; I've already paointed one of those up - you can see it in action here. The AM-50 was first trialed in 1972, with more substantial numbers coming in1974.

This is an attempt at making a vz.53/59 self-propelled AA gun. I've taken an H&R (?) BTR-152 model, and sawed off the back. Then I've stuck a ZPU-23/2 on top, and stuck on plasticard box on top of that to represent the distinctive ammo bin, and added some crew members from the artillery crew pack, The guns are noticeably too small (to me, anyway), since the vz. 53/59 sports twin 30 mm cannons, as opposed to 23 mm, and the curving superstructure on the left of the mount is missing in my model (not that you would see it from this angle, even if it was there...). IIRC, I've now made up sixteen of these conversions; this is the last, and will form part of my 183rd Battery of the 82nd AA Brigade - this unit was primarily equipped with SA-4s, but also had some SPAAGs for close-in air defence. The Czechoslovakians used this instead of the ZSU-57-2, which offered them no advantages. However, they never replaced it with anything more modern (such as the ZSU-23-4), and its lack of radar would have meant it would have had severe problems keeping enemy aircraft at bay in any conflict in the 70s, let alone the 80s. The Czechoslovakians trialed the SA-4 from 1974, and the 82nd AA Brigade went operational in 1976 (the 2K11M, i.e. "SA-4b Ganef").

The two vehicles are my own creations, printed out by Shapeways. They are Tatra 815 VT 8x8 prime movers, distinguished from the T-815 VVN truck mostly by having a shorter deck but a longer cab, so it can accommodate an entire howitzer crew. The T-815 series (also available in 6x6 and 4x4 versions) suceeded the T-813 starting from 1981, and going into full production in 1983. In addition to hauling artillery pieces, it could also be used to tow tank-transporter trailers, etc.

I think this is what Skytrex called a "BTS-M"; it's a PTS-10 light ferry as far as I am concerned. It's a fairly large model, hence the double-depth base. My bases are usually 30 mm square by the way; no way am I using Imperial measurements! The model has an odd lean forwards, as if it's braking extremely hard. Two of these models get used as part of the Pontoon Company of my Czechoslovakian 3rd Division's Engineering Battalion (along with a whole bunch of truck-borne pontoon elements).

And this is, IIRC, a Skytrex GSP-55 heavy ferry set. These are found in the (river) Assault Company that was added to Czechoslovakian divisional Engineering Battalions from 1979, along with extra PTS-10 light ferries.

Another artillery battalion... you can never have too many as a WarPac player! The tractors here are another of my own products printed out by Shapeways: the ATS-59G. The ATS-59G was the first 3-d printing effort I tried, and it still holds up reasonably well compared to my later creations.  You can see a close-up of the vehicle's rear below.

Now when your artillery is as ancient as these pieces, you need a lot of them to have any hope of doing anything! This is the H&R M-30 122mm howitzer (I think they call it something like mk. 31/37), or the vz.38 to the Czechoslovakians. These pieces were found in the artillery battalion of the motor rifle regiments: 3 batteries of 6 pieces, which translates to 4 models in MSH. The vz. 38 designation tells you they are a 1938 production piece, so they have, by 1970s and 80s standards, a truly horrible range. These pieces soldiered on until the demise of the Czechoslovakian state (there were grand plans to replace them with 2S1s in the late 70s/early 80s, but few of these were actually purchased). My close-in eyesight has detriorated markedly over the last two years, so I now need separate glasses to paint with. Even so, I found I couldn't be bothered painting the faces on the crewmen here - I just couldn't see them! And I certainly can't see them at a gaming arm' length away...

This would appear to be a T54 or T55-based ARV vehicle, but I can't remember which manufacturer it is... probably Scotia.

While this would appear to be a T-34-based ARV. Again, not sure who makes (or made) it. A platoon's worth of vehicles like this is part of each tank or motor rifle regiment's enegineering company; more are found in the divisional Engineering Battalion's maintenance company.

The towed tank here is I think a Scotia POL trailer, while the tractor is another of my Shapeways creations: an AT-S. These are usually found hauling artillery pieces in my forces. The AT-S was a design from the early 50s, and superceeded by the ATS-59G. To my-brought-up-in-New Zealand mind, it's got a definite "Hillary crossing the Antarctic" feel to it.

Travelling in a fried-out combi! On a hippy trail; head full of zombie...  Well, near enough, anyway. This is the Scotia UAZ-452 minivan; I will probably add some ambulance markings in the weekend to it to give it some sort of utility.

This is the van version of Scotia's UAZ-452. I will probably add some sort of diorama scene here, given the large expanse of available base, but I will have to buy some more crew figures and the like first, as I appear to have run out...

Tatra-111 trucks; one of which was already painted. Another of my Shapeways efforts - these ones have suffered from very noticeable "stepping" during the print process. These trucks can be used not only for Cold war Czechoslovakians, but also for WW2 Germans, being produced from 1942 to 1962 (by which date the cab had been given a more modern look).

H&R assault rafts. WW2 German, I believe, but who can tell the difference? Me, of course! Czechoslovakian ones were not even inflateable!

No idea why I have this - it's a Scotia decontamination vehicle. And why do I not need it? Because I've already made the Czechoslovakian equivalent of this Soviet vehicle, and printed it out via Shapeways! A stationary pair of these vehicles, each mounting a jet engine on the back, were supposed to decontaminant chemical warfare agents from a column of exposed vehicles driving between them. As a professional chemist, I have doubts about the efficacy of this... These vehicles were found as part of the divisional NBC battalion. WarPac forces took a lot of effort regarding counteemeasures for the C part of the NBC equation, even though it appears they naver had any serious intention of using themselves (unlike the N part, for which they had serious plans for...).  For example, FROGs were in service for over a decade before a chemical warfare warhead was even considered for them.

Another Scotia Soviet duplication, for which I have the Czechoslovakian equivalentalready printed out... It's quite a nice piece of kit, though.

A battery of BM-24 MRLs; another of my Shapeways creations. These weren't used by the Czechoslovakians. They were instead found in Soviet Tank Regiments in the 1960s, prior to being replaced by the BM-21 Grad: 12 per regiment. I made up the model since it's just an AT-S with a launcher on the back deck instead or a tarpaulin, so a relatively easy conversion..

And finally, this would appear to be a Scotia BAT, but it's missing what i consider to be the most important part of the protoype - the enormous dozer blade, which is a real shame, because the thing isn't easy to scratch build...

So, a bunch of rear-zone elements for the most part, but that's fine, logistics can be fun too!


  1. Fantastic as usual! Is your eventual goal to collect the entire Czech army in 6mm?

    1. As in one-to-one scale? That might be a bit megalomaniacal even for me...

  2. Luke .. nice additions. I find myself with odd vehicles in the box that have most often not been deliberate purchases in themselves but were part of a 'bulk lot'. I often feel obliged to paint and base
    'just 'cos I can'.. and they look cool even if they will never have a table top application.

    1. I figure I will use most of this lot to represent abstracted logistical elements in whatever system I eventually settle down with. Most systems often just record off-table artillery batteries on paper, for example, but I like the models sitting their behind the baseline representing a proper artillery park.
      No reason why I can't use trucks to represent "logistic/activation points" for example - I could see a system (in a multiplayer game, especially) where you say start with X number "in the bank", and get some smaller "Y" number per turn, on average, and how many you spend is up to you. Xs would be with your HQ. Ys might even have to spend turns moving up the table even, to represent your logistic tail, where they might be vulnerable to interdiction.

  3. A range of interesting models. I particularly like the 53/59 conversion.