Friday, 30 August 2019

FoW: Slovak Infantry - HMG Platoons

So here we are again... after a not so short intermission(!) and it seems that this time I need to ease myself back into my writing because it turns out (and who could have guessed this!??!?!?!) that when you buy a house that's 130 years old you should actually expect that the majority of previous renovation work on the property should have been done by absolute f****** cowboys!!!

... straight from the Wild Wild West! etc etc!


Turns out that when you take all of the plaster and scratch coats off of walls and strip them back to the brick it should be expected that one should find entire bricks in a wall missing and instead EXPANDING foam should be found in its place.... creating a God almighty hole linking the rainstorms outside and the nice Victorian walls inside... go figure!

So... anyway... after removing radiators, capping copper pipework, cutting the electricity and removing all plug points in three rooms, and stripping all three rooms of bricks, skirting boards and window sills... one MAY actually be able to find the time to attempt writing a blog post! (but only one a month mind you!)

... and here we are.


So I decided that with my rather limited provision of time that I would write a couple that can be wound up quite quickly with a minimum of effort (mainly due to a lack of available information).

I decided that in this one we would take a look at the company and battalion support platoons. The heavy machine guns and the mortars that accompanied the Slovak armed forces in their rather understated rampage across Eastern Europe.

Now, the sad fact is that there is very VERY little extant evidence that can point us in the direction of what kind of organisation the Slovaks had for their HMG's at the start of the war, made even more tenebrous by the frequent reorganisations that the Slovak field formations were subjected to. 


The first record of HMG's that I can find in relation to the Slovak army is a table in Axworthy's 'Axis Slovakia' where he gives a return of the numbers of HMG's in the Slovaks 1st, 2nd and 3rd Field Divisions, amounting to be between 108 and 133 each along with another 48 in the Rapid Group. These numbers were based on the returns of the Slovak field army at the conclusion of the Polish campaign of 1939.

There are organisational suggestions that can be extrapolated from these numbers however if we are smart enough to carry forwards what we know about the Czechoslovakian pre-war army.

The pre-war Czech armed forces were ternary in nature. Three platoons in a company and three companies in a battalion. Within each company was a supporting HMG platoon and at battalion level was another HMG company which the battalion commander could allocate as he saw fit.


So IF a Czech infantry regiment was ternary, then it had three battalions, and on the assumption that a company would have three platoons it could therefore be assumed that each battalion would have a total of 6 platoons. Three in the HMG company and one each attached to the three infantry companies. This total then could be multiplied by three to arrive at the total number of HMG platoons in an ideal infantry regiment structure. 18 then!

If we assume an average of 120 HMG's in each of the regiments and divide this by the platoons we arrive at a figure of 6.66 or to be sensible and adhere to our ternary assumptions; six! Three HMG sections of two weapons and crew each... which, ironically is a theory supported by the following photograph.


What about all of the left over HMG's then? Well every regiment has bits and pieces that various proactive members will attempt to hoard.

This distribution of HMG's was static until the reorganisations in preparation for the invasion of the Soviet Union and the formation of the Rapid Group. At this time the Mounted Reconnaissance Battalion (JPO-2) had a mounted HMG platoon of only four HMG's and the Mounted Infantry Battalion (II/6) had a provision of 12 HMG's to be allocated between the three infantry companies and the HMG company. My guess here, as it is an HMG company that is listed, would be that there is no organic provision of HMG's within the infantry companies and instead the battalion has all of its HMG's grouped in the HMG company with four HMG's in each of three platoons. These would either be one weapon per section for four HMG sections per platoon OR two HMG sections per platoon with two weapons each.

When the Mobile Group became the Mobile Brigade on 8 July 1941 the Motorised Reconnaissance Group now had a slightly expanded provision of  nine HMG's whilst the Motorised Infantry Battalion (II/6) remained the same. It was at this strength that the Mobile Brigade went into the battle for Lipovec.


On 23 July 1941 Ferdinand Catlos made the decision to amalgamate all Slovak troops on the Eastern Front into a Mobile Division and a Security Division.

The Mobile Division had two infantry regiments in its organisation. Infantry Regiment 20 had 24 HMG's whilst Infantry Regiment 21 had a provision of 25. Artillery Regiment 11 had a provision of 28 for battery defence and the Reconnaissance Group again had a provision of only six. The newly attached Mountain Battery 11 meanwhile, had a provision of two HMG's for the defence of its single 7.5cm vz.15 battery.



The battery defence HMG's notwithstanding, the assumption could be made that each motorised infantry regiment would be comprised of two strengthened battalions (if you compare manpower figures between the Mobile Groups infantry battalion with the strength of each regiment) with each battalion carrying an HMG company. This would equate to 12 HMG's in each battalion meaning no organic provision within the infantry companies again although would bring us close to the numbers of HMG's listed in the returns.

On 22 August the Division was morphed one more time into its final form and continuing in its subordinate role to the German VI Army under von Rundstedt. The Mobile Division headquarters still had no allocation of HMG's whilst Infantry Regiments 20 and 21 retained the same numbers of HMG's and presumably the same organisation. Both Artillery Regiment 11 and the Reconnaissance Group also retained the same numbers of HMG's for their various applications with the mountain gun battery also retaining its two weapons.


Now here is the strange thing; despite a number of very clear returns indicating how many HMG's were present the asset totals tables do not match up at all. Despite the addition of all assets for the Mobile Division on 22 August 1941 adding up to 85 HMG's available, the subsequent 'total complement' list given by Kliment and Nakladal gives the Mobile Divisions total HMG provision on 22 August 1941 as only 57 HMG's. I wouldn't even know where to begin to understand how to resolve these discrepancies.

At the time of the Soviet offensive across the Crimea in January 1943, which is the last period of interest in the Slovak military for me, Kliment and Nakladal list the Division has having a total complement of 166 HMG's across all formations. At the end of January the Mobile Division attempted to extricate itself precipitously from the Soviet noose and by March had only 25 HMG's left, with all others having been either lost of left behind the retreat.


As previously mentioned on 23 July 1941 Catlos reorganised all Slovak forces with the 2nd Infantry Division being renamed the 'Security Division' Axworthy gives an interesting little table showing the fluctuating numbers of HMG's that this formation had available to it right up until the end of July 1943. Axworthy states that the slow moving 2nd Infantry Division had, given by 10 July 1941 returns, a total of 72 HMG's across all of its constituent formations.

The Security Division came into operational reality on 1 September 1941 at which time Kliment and Nakladal list it as having a total complement of 69 Schwarzlose vz.24 HMG's. Axworthy (for once!) concurs with this figure up until the end of July 1942.


Axworthy goes on to give the Security Divisions returns as 81 HMG's on 9 October 1942 and back down to 68 again by 10 July 1943 when the Slovkian armed forces involvement on the Axis front line was wound down.

The Slovaks in the Second World War utilised two types of heavy machine guns.


The first was the venerable former Austro-Hungarian Scwarzlose vz.24. This is the one that is seen in almost all photographs of Czechoslovakian and Slovakian HMG's. They were old, heavy, had a water cooled jacket (adding to the weight substantially). The weapon itself weighed in at 24.5 kg whilst the tripod added a further 19.7 kg.

It used cloth ammunition belts but only had a rate of fire of 520 r.p.m which, to bring it into perspective is almost half that of the German MG-42 (Hitlers Buzzsaw) and just a little less than the British Bren Gun.


At the time of the start of hostilities the Slovak army had a total of 2,200 in its inventory.

The other HMG that the Slovaks had available to them was the Zbojovka Brno ZB-53 vz.37. This was developed just before the dismemberment of the Czechoslovakian state and had been successfully exported as well becoming the British armoured vehicle BESA HMG.


Far superior to the older Schwarzlose this weapon, also tripod mounted only had a weight of 19kg and utilised metal ammunition belts with a rate of fire of either 550 or 750 r.p.m which depending upon the selection was comparable to the German MG-34.

The Slovaks, unfortunately only had a total of 389 in their inventory at the start of the Second World War BUT we can assume that good use was made of them, most likely by the Mobile forces.

...and so it is time to move into the modelling part of the blog post so I can explain how I went about putting this platoon together.


Before we go any further I should point out that every single miniature in this company was a Battlefront 15mm Romanian until I nipped off their heads and replaced them with Peter Pig heads to turn them into Slovaks. Either the ones with the Slovak Helmets that Martin sculpted for me or else the ones with the Soviet Pilotka Caps which fulfil a good proxy for the Slovak field caps.

I should also point out that the trucks and the field car will be dealt with in another post and that due to the convenience I opted to use the Romanian vz.37 HMG's for all of my teams. For those of you out there who are desperate for some vz.24's then I would direct you towards Peter Pigs WW1 Austrian range which have superb vz.24's sculpts. For me though, after a project of this size... the convenience was quite attractive to me!


So, where painting all of the infantry is concerned its a relatively simple affair. They are done the way that I do them to look good from about 5ft away. Scrutinise them from up close and all of the flaws in the painting will probably slap you in the face but from arms length away they look splendid!.

The first step is to prime the miniatures, and as with most of my other historical stuff, I prime with a black etch primer. You can buy these from any hardware store but the 'etch' in the primer ensures an exceptionally strong substrate to the acrylic layers that will go over the top, the etch actually referring to a dilute acidic content that eats microscopically into the surface of the model creating an uneven surface for the paint to clutch to whilst providing a nice and smooth top layer as the paint levels out and dries.


The lions share of the work done on WW2 miniatures is the main uniform and where the Slovaks are concerned after a somewhat lengthy research period I decided to ditch the (re)coloured photos from the past and go with the uniform colours that all of the re-enactors in Czechoslovakia are using at the moment. In my experience all of these re-enactment guys are anal about accuracy so I would trust their opinions a lot more than raggedy old photos with amateur enthusiast recolour treatments.

My base coat was done with Vallejo's 887 Brown Violet for the deepest layers of the uniform. The first highlight, which presents the largest overall surface area that will be seen at the end was done with MIG's 113 Khaki Green No3 (Brit 1939-1942) with the final highlights along all of the raised edges being completed with MIG's 058 Light Green Khaki. This covers all of the cloth uniform and the puttees.


The helmet has a single coat of 50/50 mix of Vallejo's 897 Bronze Green and Vallejo's 887 Brown Violet with the blue helmet band having a basecoat of Vallejo's 925 Intense Blue, highlighted with a 50/50 mix of Vallejo's 925 Intense Blue and Vallejo's 943 Blue Grey. The little Slovak crosses are all hand painted with thinned down Vallejo's 820 Offwhite.

Everything else is all gravy after painting the uniform.

All of the Canvas bags and straps have a basecoat of Vallejo's 921 English Uniform applied with block highlights of AK Interactives 3072 M-44 Uniform Green Ochre Khaki whilst the leather belts and ammo pouches are basecoated in Vallejo's 045 Charred Brown and highlighted with Vallejo's 983 Flat Earth.


The boots are any matt black whilst the Gas Mask Tins are basecoated with Vallejo's 980 Black Green and highlighted with Lifecolor's UA224 Olive Drab Faded Type 2.

The rifle bodies are basecoated with Vallejo's 826 German Camo Medium Brown with the highlighted grain lines painted with Vallejo's 981 Orange Brown. All metal work is painted black firstly and highlighted with Molten Metals Steel. The rifle straps are basecoated with Vallejo's 880 Khaki Grey and highlighted with a 50/50 mix of Vallejo's 880 Khaki Grey and Vallejo's 819 Iraqi Sand.


Where the skin is concerned you can paint it how you please but personally I use one of AK Interactive's paint sets for 'Flesh and Skin Colours' and I've never looked back!

All of the bases are actually really simple. I buy all of my bases from Tony at East Riding Miniatures. Hes a bit of a legend and REALLY helpful. They are all laser cut MDF which allows for easy scoring of the base surface.

I then glue the miniatures to the scored surface and apply a thin layer of tile grout over the top. Once this is dry I glue a layer of one of my sand mixes over the top. Generally speaking I create my own mixes for base coverings as I REALLY don't like a lot of the crap you buy from the shops. Its generally speaking far too gaudy in colour or uniform in texture for my tastes.


I like the generally fine sand BUT I like to have lots of the little stones in there so I can create some colour contrasts with the dirt on the bases.

Once dry the whole base is given a basecoat of Vallejo's 826 German Camo Medium Brown and given a heavy drybrush of Vallejo's 814 Green Ochre.

All of the little stones on the bases are then given a basecoat of Vallejo's 995 German Grey and roughly highlighted (to create a jagged uneven texture) with any lighter grey of your choice but personally I go with Vallejo's 992 Neutral Grey.


The sides of the bases are now painted Matt Black. I never used to bother with this BUT I've really gotten into the clean precise look this lends to the bases. I love it now.

Now we come to the final stages of the bases which is the covering. The static flock that I use is my own mix. I go for something that approximates the dead and dry grass you find on the Steppes with perhaps a little more green in it than usual. This allows an overall base aesthetic that can be used the length of Europe in my opinion.


To provide the final textural boost to the bases though I use a variety of clumps. I had a LOT of problems finding ones that I felt were suitable but after a couple of years I came across a company called Tajima Miniatures whose self adhesive tufts are without a doubt the best I have ever found. I use their stuff by the bucket load now, in great variety. 

These all add to the final colour and texture of the bases of this army.

...and there we have it. Once more we reach the end of another post about guys in uniforms with guns... and BAYONETS!!!! 

Sunday, 21 July 2019

New House... New Times... New Paint Collections...

Well I've been a little quiet lately, since my last Slovak 15mm post and that's because I've just bought a house and moved in...

... more on this later.


Proved to be somewhat more of a ball ache than I expected. I fell asleep at the wheel of a van and bounced off the central reservation on the motorway after picking up all of my stuff that has been in storage at my family home in Wales... luckily no harm was done to me but the van sadly couldn't say the same!

Then I had to pick Roxi and the cats up from London... and prowl around removal men that were intent on tipping my filing cabinets full of painted miniatures onto their sides to put them on their vans and then of course we had to race up to Dudley in the West Midlands (where said house is located) to collect keys and access our brand spanking new home!

Said house... which we in fact like to call 'The Tardis'


* cough cough *

By brand spanking new house of course I mean 'a giant pseudo derelict that was built when Queen Victoria still stood astride the mighty British Empire (or to be more precise when the dumpy little moose could barely shuffle out of her armchair)! Great in theory... the  reality has been somewhat more challenging!

The previous owner as it turns out wasn't quite as honest about things in the house as we had hoped. We immediately saw that she had broken the contract and hadn't removed all of the old furniture from the house... and despite repeated assurances that the damp problems with the house had been resolved it turned out not to be the case...

Now I'm sure you are sitting there saying to yourselves "what the hell has this got to do with toy soldiers?". Well don't worry... this is all relevant as you will shortly find out.

So... the caveat that I set to buying a house when discussing the options with Roxi was i) Its nowhere near London and ii) Whatever house is chosen it has one room of the size that I require for my hobby obsession... which this beast of a house does!

I said to Roxi that I was going to go and tidy up one of the two master bedrooms to prepare it for redecoration and populate it with competently painted pieces of metal and filing cabinets. It had one seriously horrendous carpet that smelled of piss... I ripped it all up along with its backing... and this is where the problems began.

You know what Mission Creep is? Well my taking the carpet up led to me removing wall paper (which really was gross!) which as it turns out was the only thing holding the plaster up against the wall... which of course all fell down... and then it turned out that the double glazed window was actually coming out of its emplacement with wall paper concealing massive cracks all the way around it and the plaster having gaping holes on the undersides allowing ingress of water to soak all of the plaster... which also started falling away...

Man Cave from the door...

Man Cave looking back towards the door...
My wargames room appeared to be slipping away.

I decided to investigate up in the loft and boy oh boy did I find issues.

There was a massive hole in the felt backing under a big patch of broken roof tiles and Carole's idea of having addressed all of the damp issues was to tape the broken roof tiles back together with gaffer tape and placing a bucket below the hole.. badly! The water had saturated the roof joists and had started to flood down the sides of chimney breasts

As it stands now we are having three of the houses four roofs completely replaced and new windows in both master bedrooms... which it now turns out is infested with damp problems as well...

Roxi attacking the walls in what will eventually transform into the  master bedroom
So its going to take a while to get all of this into shape but in the meantime we have had our fibre broadband connected so I can at least carry on with my posting (unlucky guys and gals!)... oh yeah and I can of course still receive post.

Looks what I just received:

A while ago I joined a Kickstarter put out by Scale 75 for a new type of paint covering all of the primes and secondary mixes with a few others. I obviously decided that I would opt for the 'I want it all' option and I am happy to report that I received the set yesterday.

Allow me to introduce you to the new addition to my painting tables (tbc):

OK so the whole kit comes in a nice wooden box. Its no Lignum Vitae only being MDF, but it is well presented and attractive, sporting an  attractive Lambda that Scale 75 have as their brand image and is large enough to contain the whole collection with add ons. The inner trays are all a type of moulded foam and if anything it is these trays which are the least attractive and arguably cheapest parts of the entire offering BUT they do the job so I guess that's all that's important.

A nice looking Lambda on a nice looking wooden box...
The complete and focal point of the whole collection is a set of brand spanking new 48 colours in metal tubes.

These are supposed to be all singing and all dancing types of paints with an extremely high pigment content with beautiful opacity and transparency under dilution because of the fact that the pigment is not supposed to dis-aggregate.

My complete collection...
The artistic pigments are combined with acrylic resins which are then tested against a triad of key performance indicators. Hiding power determines the ability of the paint to cover the layer below it. Lightfastness is the measure of how resistant to fading the paint is and the final metric is Fastness which is a measure of how resistant to deterioration the layer is.

Its important to note that these metrics are not things that have been invented by Scale 75 in-house but are scientific constants and out of a total of 144 measurements just over 70% were listed as high with the remaining being a mix of average and high-average.

One of the paint tubes that I received... on top of lots of other paint tubes...
Its got a base drying time of 10 minutes and a curing time of 72 hours which means that there is plenty of work time with the paint straight out of the tube.

... but of course no paint set is complete without all of the added extras that you may be able to get alongside all of the flashy new paints... and with this set there were plenty!

Some as parts of the main collection, some as Kickstarter Stretch Goals and others as paid for extras. Lets take a look at them all now...

So first and foremost are the extra fluids that complement painting abilities. There are two that come with the collection, one of which I bought an extra of (I actually don't have a clue why though!). Firstly there is a bottle of Acrylic Thinner specially formulated to allow these paints to be used in an airbrush. Maybe I will go down this route but Im not considering it in the short term.

The Acrylic Thinner
The other fluid that I got, and to which I added another in the add ons of the Kickstarter was a 60ml bottle of Acrylic Retarder. This should retard the drying time by up to 15% and with smooth blending and a hand as subtle as a Hippo violating a mouse the extra drying time may, I believe, be a critical thing in getting the best out of these paints.

The Acrylic Retarder
The next thing worth looking at was the palette that came embedded into the lid foam layer of the box. Its a fold open palette with a separate wet palette which fits into the lid of the palette itself. 

The palette
The palette itself has a large central pool divided into two equal parts and a selection of 18 mini pools arranged around three sides of the central pools.

The open palette with the wet palette contained within the lid...
The wet palette is provided with a wet palette pack containing one layer of 'white absorbent material'
that is cut to the container size and is made of high capacity absorbent material which does not shrink when drying out and is resistant to mildew (apparently) and a separate pack of 50 sheets of moisturising paper which is also cut to the container size, each sheet is extra thin allowing for moisture transmission and allows for brushstrokes which makes mixing easy and avoiding deterioration.

The Wet Palette with the Wet Palette Pack
Quite a handy little colour wheel designed by Scale 75 is also provided which gives a key guide on how to arrive at each of the colour variations that you may want to get to.

The Colour Wheel side 1
The first side which carried the Scale 75 Lambda brand icon goes through brief explanations of the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary colours  as well as Warm and Cool colours and definitions of how colour is classified such as Hue, Value, Intensity,  Tint, Tone and Shades for example...

The Colour Wheel side 2
The second or reverse side goes into Colour theory giving brief theories on Mono-Chromatic, Analagous and Achromatic colours and further going into Complementary, Split Complementary and Diad, Triad and Tetrads. There is a geometric diagram in the middle of the wheel showing how each axis gives each colour type in the theory and of course a number of main colours with the variations as you head towards the centre pin.

The Scale 75 Brushes
The collection is provided with two Scale 75 branded paintbrushes. A size 0 and a size 1. I cant speak for the quality of the brushes because I haven't used them yet but I cant imagine a company like Scale 75 putting out appalling brushes with their flagship paints because it just wouldn't help you get the results that the reviews of the paints depends on. They are labelled on the handle as being Kolinsky Tajmyr and the bristles seem to be very well formed with the line of bristles between the heel above the collar down to the toe gradually curving in. Looks like they carry a decent reservoir and as we know Kolinsky is some of the highest quality bristles for capillary action.

The Watercolour Brush Pen
The next thing that I opted for was a Watercolour Brush Pen. I've never used one before but I thought it could be a bit of fun... watch this space I guess.

Paint Agitators
There is a bag of paint agitators. Sounds good but to be honest all it is is a bag of small ball bearings. You stick one in each of your paint pots that runs the risk of drying out. Whenever you shake the pot it will break apart any aggregation of pigment. Should add a bit of life to your dead pots.

Paint Tube Squeezer
There is a rather groovy little paint tube squeezer which looks like a Spartan shield on top of a tuning fork. I would imagine that this will be used very rarely but it is a nice little addition...

... and finally there are a few gimmicks. Not many but enough to satisfy even the most selfish and greedy beer swilling pretzel munching toad spawn out there... 

Stickers
There are two Scale 75 Lambda brand stickers and a bottle opener carrying the same design... which is quite handy as I plan on stocking my currently derelict man cave with a mini bar just as soon as I can squeeze one in!

Bottle Opener
This is one great collection that I cant wait to start using. It should be the perfect accompaniment to my Artist Opus brush collections.

... however as it will be almost two months (I think) before my man cave is ready for exploitation I think I should probably just concentrate on finishing off my Slovak blog posts so I can, with a clear conscience, move onto a new 15mm Flames of War army... which (and you heard it here first) will be a German Gebirgsjager army! :)

...Fix Bayonets Ladies!


Sunday, 30 June 2019

FoW: Slovak Anti Aircraft Artillery - 2cm VKPL vz.36 battery

Well hello once more ladies and gentlemen. I appear to have returned from my overseas travails... and actually find myself rather in need of a holiday to get over the holidaying! 

Still, fun was had by one and all and before I actually take the steps of moving into my new house I thought I may be able to squeeze in a couple of quick posts about the Slovaks.

So today we will take a dig around at the Slovakian army's light anti aircraft batteries which to be frank fulfilled the majority of the forward AA functions that the army needed. Not as impressive as the big boys BUT vital nonetheless.

One and all let me introduce you to the Slovakian 2cm vz.36 Kulomet batteries.



So, it may come as a surprise to some of you (although absolutely no surprise at all to the majority of you) that to uncover the history of the 2cm vz.36 we need to go back to the army of the Republic of Czechoslovakia.

Czechoslovakia was one of the few countries in the world, thanks to Skoda, that was able to almost completely equip its artillery needs with pieces from domestic production. The only exception to this was the requirement for small-bore automatic weapons.


At the end of the First World War, German industrialist Becker constructed a small-bore automatic cannon which, although being designed for use by the air force achieved notable attention for its anti-tank abilities. However it missed its metaphorical window and only 200 were produced. 

The military command of the nascent Czechoslovakian army correctly recognised the potential of this weapon and by the end of 1919 had already placed an order for 47 pieces with ammunition. After prolonged studies however they were deemed to be short of their developmental potential and after a series of tests ended up being used solely for coastal defence along the Danube, finally being retired to resupply warehouses for potential future use.


The continued development of this weapon was continued by the Swiss company SEMAG (Seebach Maschinenbau AG) which purchased the production license. SEMAG later became a part of the engineering company Oerlikon which, after 1929, began manufacturing improved versions of these cannon under its own name. 

The Czechoslovakian army actively monitored the progress of interesting weapon types around the world. When the domestic development of automatic weapons, performed mainly in Zbojovka Brno, did not yield the expected and sought for results for a protracted period, they looked abroad.


Field tests of the Oerlikon 2cm fully confirmed the excellent features of these weapons and in July 1935 the Ministry of Defence ordered 128 pieces.

They were introduced into the rolls under the designation 2cm vz.36 Kulomet. The Ministry of Defence also bought a production license and began production almost immediately. Unfortunately the manufacturing plant had disproportionate demands placed upon it and finally the Czechoslovakians were able to only secure a license for the production of the ammunition which was entrusted to Brno Zbrojovka and Sellier Bellot. From Switzerland only basic ammunition orders were placed and both companies were able to complete more than 1,700,000 rounds of all types by March 1939.


The gun was conveniently transported on the back of a flat bed truck. Over short distances the weapon could be carried over short distances by being broken down into ten loads with a maximum weight of 49kg each.

The basic crew of each of these guns consisted of seven individuals. The gun commander, a firer, a loader, two assistants and two ammunition carriers. The unit also had two observers and a cyclist attached as well.


Through 1937 and 1938 Oerlikon received more orders for the cannons but following the Munich Agreement in 1938 the majority of the orders were cancelled largely unfulfilled.

In total by September 1938 the Czechoslovakian army had 227 of these guns in its inventory, which formed the backbone of the newly formed VKPL (velky kulomet proti letadlum - Heavy anti-aircraft machine gun) batteries. They were predominantly allocated to the newly formed fast divisions and to the border regiments.


When the Nazis finally occupied the rump of Czechoslovakia, after March 1939 they immediately appropriated all of the 2cm vz.36's that were within reach and used them throughout the Second World War. Of the total number of weapons that were originally in the Czechoslovakian army a mere 64 weapons were stationed within the newly born Slovak Republic, and again these also found use throughout the war with some even serving  during the Slovak Uprising in 1944.


Slovakia's anti aircraft regiment was AA Regiment 153 and by the end of 1939 all of the other light AA guns that Slovakia had available had been amalgamated into this regiment so that its organisation was as follows:

Battalion I: SpisskaNova Ves           1st and 2nd Heavy Batteries
                                                          3rd and 4th Light Batteries
Battalion II: Piestany                        5th and 6th Heavy Batteries
                                                          7th Light Battery
Battalion III: Bratislava                    8th and 9th Heavy Batteries
                                                          10th Light Battery
Battalion IV: Piestany                       11th and 12th Searchlight Batteries
Battalion V: Vejnory                         13th, 14th and 15th Searchlight Batteries


In 1940 AAAR 153 was changed into the Regiment of Anti Aircraft Artillery, with three Territorial Battalions (I, II & III) as well as additional army units.

Battalion I: Zilina                             1st and 2nd Heavy Batteries
                                                          3rd Light Battery
                                                          12th Searchlight Battery
Battalion II: Trencin                         5th and 6th Heavy Batteries
                                                          7th Light Battery
Battalion III: Bratislava                    8th and 9th Heavy Batteries
                                                          13th Light Battery
                                                          11th Searchlight Battery

The anti-aircraft units allocated to the army were the 4th Light Battery with 1st Division, the 14th Light Battery with 2nd Division and the 15th Light Battery with the Army Headquarters.


In July 1941 the regiment was reorganised yet again receiving assets from an abolished regiment. The new organisational structure had six battalions organised as follows:

Battalion I: SpisskaNova Ves           1st and 2nd Heavy Batteries
                                                          3rd Light Battery
                                                          1st Searchlight Battery
Battalion II: Piestany                        5th and 6th Heavy Batteries
Battalion III: Bratislava                    8th and 9th Heavy Batteries
                                                          10th Light Battery
                                                          11th Searchlight Battery
Battalion IV: Trencin-Zlatovce         3rd and 4th Heavy Batteries
Battalion V: Vejnory                         4th and 15th Light Batteries
Battalion VI: Hlohovec                     7th and 14th Light Batteries

On 22 March 1941 the Slovak army received its first Krupp 8.8cm vz38 anti aircraft guns which all went to 8th Heavy Battery along with twelve 2cm vz.30 anti aircraft guns for a single light battery.


At the beginning of Operation Barbarossa the 1st and 2nd Field Divisions took the 14th and 15th Light Batteries with them although when the Mobile Brigade was formed in late July 1941 the 15th Light Battery was assigned to it. When the Mobile Division was formed in August 1941 it retained the 15th Light Battery.

During the retreat from the Crimea in 1943 two of the 2cm vz.36's were handed over to the Germans whilst the remaining 16 were lost during the retreat. The equipment listed as being on the rolls of the Anti Aircraft Artillery Regiment in August 1943 included six batteries of 2cm vz.36's (and a further two German supplied 2cm vz.30 batteries). Three of these batteries were allocated to the Eastern Front, one to the Home Front and the remaining four put into the Operational Reserve.


By March 1944 the AAAR again carried thirty six 2cm vz.36's on its rolls.

... and this is where our investigation into the deployment of these weapons under the Slovak armed forces draws to a close. They did remain in use with the final 19 guns being withdrawn from service in 1951

...and so we move onto the modelling section

The miniatures for this battery came from numerous sources. Where the actual guns are concerned I bought Battlefront's FR540 20mm mle 1939 AA Gun which were the French license built Oerlikons. I ditched everything from the pack other than the actual guns and the gunner. Every other miniature in this battery was a Battlefront 15mm Romanian, either normal infantry or artillery  crew.

The guns that are on their carriages are a mixture of miniatures with the actual gun coming from the other two remaining guns in the FR540 pack, the carriage bodies coming from Battlefronts ISO501 Italian 20/65 gun pack with the wheels being provided from True North's Polish Caissons.

I nipped off the heads from each of the miniatures and replaced them with Peter Pig heads to turn them into Slovaks. Either the ones with the Slovak Helmets or else the ones with the Soviet Pilotka Caps.


The trucks and the staff car are ones that I sculpted and cast myself. A future post will be dedicated to the sculpting, modelling and painting of these vehicles so I wont spend too much time on them here.

As with my previous artillery posts the first thing that I do when putting a battery together, once the guns are completed is to paint all of the crew that serve them. This obviously took a bit of work so let me take you through it all step by step!

So, where painting all of the infantry is concerned its a relatively simple affair. They are done the way that I do them to look good from about 5ft away. Scrutinise them from up close and all of the flaws in the painting will probably slap you in the face, but from 5ft away I personally think they look tip top!

The first step is to prime, and as with most of my other historical stuff, I prime with a black etch primer. You can buy these from any hardware store but the 'etch' in the primer ensures an exceptionally strong substrate to the acrylic layers that will go over the top. Essentially the etch is a minute amount of acid that eats into the outer layer of the material being sprayed on creating a microscopically uneven surface for the paint to bind to... and don't worry its well below the level that is visible to the naked eye!

The lions share of the work done on WW2 miniatures is the main uniform and where the Slovaks are concerned after a somewhat lengthy research period I decided to ditch the colour photos from the past and go with the uniform colours that all of the re-enactors in Czechoslovakia are using at the moment. In my experience all of these re-enactment guys are anal about accuracy so I would trust their opinions a lot more than raggedy old photos.

My base coat was done with Vallejo's 887 Brown Violet for the deepest layers of the uniform. The first highlight, which presents the largest overall surface area that will be seen at the end was done with MIG's 113 Khaki Green No3 (Brit 1939-1942) with the final highlights along all of the raised edges being completed with MIG's 058 Light Green Khaki. This covers all of the cloth uniform and the puttees.



The helmet has a single coat of 50/50 mix of Vallejo's 897 Bronze Green and Vallejo's 887 Brown Violet with the blue helmet band having a basecoat of Vallejo's 925 Intense Blue, highlighted with a 50/50 mix of Vallejo's 925 Intense Blue and Vallejo's 943 Blue Grey. The little Slovak crosses are all hand painted with thinned down Vallejo's 820 Offwhite. Normally I would provide at least one highlight on a helmet BUT the combination of white Slovak crosses and the blue band provide enough contrasts for the eye in such a small place that a highlight becomes unnecessary.

Everything else is relatively quick and simple after painting the uniform.

All of the Canvas bags and straps have a basecoat of Vallejo's 921 English Uniform applied with block highlights of AK Interactive's 3072 M-44 Uniform Green Ochre Khaki whilst the leather belts and ammo pouches are basecoated in Vallejo's 045 Charred Brown and highlighted with Vallejo's 983 Flat Earth.

The boots are any matt black whilst the Gas Mask Tins are basecoated with Vallejo's 980 Black Green and highlighted with Lifecolor's UA224 Olive Drab Faded Type 2.

The rifle bodies are basecoated with Vallejo's 826 German Camo Medium Brown with the highlighted grain lines painted with Vallejo's 981 Orange Brown. All metal work is painted black firstly and highlighted with Molten Metals Steel. The rifle straps are basecoated with Vallejo's 880 Khaki Grey and highlighted with a 50/50 mix of Vallejo's 880 Khaki Grey and Vallejo's 819 Iraqi Sand.


Where the skin is concerned you can paint it how you please but personally I use one of AK Interactive's paint sets for 'Flesh and Skin Colours' and I've never looked back!

All of the bases are actually really simple. I buy all of my bases from Tony at East Riding Miniatures. Hes a bit of a legend and REALLY helpful. They are all laser cut MDF which allows for easy scoring of the base surface.

I then glue the miniatures to the scored surface and apply a thin layer of tile grout over the top. Once this is dry I glue a layer of one of my sand mixes over the top. Generally speaking I create my own mixes for base coverings as I REALLY don't like a lot of the crap you buy from the shops. Its generally speaking far too gaudy in colour or uniform in texture for my tastes.

I like the generally fine sand BUT I like to have lots of the little stones in there so I can create some colour contrasts with the dirt on the bases.

Once dry the whole base is given a basecoat of Vallejo's 826 German Camo Medium Brown and given a heavy drybrush of Vallejo's 814 Green Ochre.

All of the little stones on the bases are then given a basecoat of Vallejo's 995 German Grey and roughly highlighted (to create a jagged uneven texture) with any lighter grey of your choice but personally I go with Vallejo's 992 Neutral Grey.

The sides of the bases are now painted Matt Black. I never used to bother with this BUT I've really gotten into the clean precise look this lends to the bases. I love it now.


Now we come to the final stage of the bases which is the covering. The static flock that I use is my own mix. I go for something that approximates the dead and dry grass you find on the Steppes with perhaps a little more green in it than usual. This allows an overall base aesthetic that can be used the length of Europe in my opinion.

To provide the final textural boost to the bases though I use a variety of clumps. I had a LOT of problems finding ones that I felt were suitable but after a couple of years I came across a company called Tajima Miniatures whose self adhesive tufts are without a doubt the best I have ever found. I use there stuff by the bucket load now, in great variety. 

These all add to the final colour and texture of the bases of this army.

Now that the bases and the miniatures are all squared away the only thing left to do is sort the guns themselves out...

So the painting of the guns is where the real complexity begins. I should also point out by the way that I have opted not to apply mud and spattering weathering to these artillery pieces as I kind of really like the clean look of them. They do have plenty of knocks and rusty battered parts which adds to the scheme but that is where I have chosen to draw the line.


The main paint scheme of the guns is done by airbrush using my MIG Aircobra for the Priming and Basecoating and my Harder & Steenbeck for all of the shading and highlighting as my H&S has a 0.15 needle and provides a hell of a lot more control... but the MIG is SOOOOO easy to clean it just makes sense to use it where I can...

The Airbrushing steps are as follows:
i) The model is primed with a Matt Black Etch Primer
ii) The basecoat is Tamiya's XF-58's Olive Green
iii) The first highlight is LifeColors UA221 Khaki Olive Drab applied in a panel highlight fashion
iv) The second highlight is LifeColors UA224 Olive Drab Faded Type 2 applied as above but a bit lighter and gathered in along the edges and prominent areas
v) The third highlight is a 50/50 mix of LifeColors UA224 Olive Drab Faded Type 2 with LifeColor 01 White. This is applied sparingly just along the edges and prominent areas.

So that's the airbrushing complete and don't be overly concerned if your third highlight was too heavy as the next two steps will, if done correctly, tone the whole contrasted effect down.

vi) The next step is to apply the colour swatches over the body of the gun that will provide the camouflage pattern. With the green camouflage base now finished off I add swatches of Vallejo's 914 Green Ochre and Vallejo's 826 German Camo Med. Brown to leave an equal balance of all three colours.
vii) Now we apply the Filter over the whole thing to unify the colour aesthetic and clip the contrast a little. I apply MIG's Filter 1506 Brown for Dark Green.
viii) Once dry wipe of any serious excess from where it may have pooled but otherwise leave it untouched.
ix) At this point I apply the first layer of Varnish. It doesn't matter which varnish you choose so long as it fixes the Filter layer to the miniature as its an oil based layer.


Once the varnish is dry its time for the next layer which is where the real depth starts to come out.

x) Over every detail laden part of the model apply a Wash. I use AK Interactives Wash 075 Wash for NATO Camouflage Vehicles. Don't be shy with this step. Slap it on aplenty! Then leave to dry for a while.
xi) Once its dry (or dry-ish) use cotton buds (cue tips for you Yankees out there...) and use a gentle white spirit to wipe away the excess leaving great detail and shadowing around all of your detail areas and a general lowering of the overall chroma luminosity. Personally I use Winsor & Newtons Artists White Spirit as I had a bad experience with normal white spirit stripping away four layers of paint and primer and have no wish to repeat the disaster!
xii) Once the whole piece is dry to the touch apply another layer of varnish to fix everything in place.

... once all of the actual painting steps proper have been squared away the last thing to do on the miniature is actually the rusted patches. For this just use an old kitchen sponge and dab on Vallejo's Panzer Aces 302 Dark Rust along the edges of the gun shield and other edges and spots across different patches of the model.


These Dark Rust elements then have the heaviest sections lined with Vallejo's Model Color 819 Iraqi Sand. These lines need to be very fine but also work well to work in as actual scratches into the overall paint scheme.

The very last thing that needs to be done with the painting is the spoked wheel rims on the carriages which are painted with a mix of LifeColor's UA733 Tire Black and Vallejo's Panzer Aces 302 Dark Rust.

Varnish one final time with a super matt varnish and that as they say is that!

Remove from workspace and attach to the finished bases at your leisure!

So, there we have it. A nice new battery of light anti-aircraft guns. Relatively simple to put together and not a bad looking bunch of bases to boot...

...oh yeah, and you get to field some trucks and a staff car as well! What more could a budding Slovak general officer demand!?!??!

Fix Bayonets!