Monday, 18 January 2016

Flames of War: Polish Piechoty Engineer Platoon

In Flames of War Engineers can be used to destroy bridges or build field emplacements, as well as being able to take the role of infantryman where necessary.

In September 1939 Poland had engineers and pioneers embedded with the regimental and brigade structures of the army theoretically allowing all forces to have elements at their disposal that would facilitate in the parental organisations manoeuvrability as well as being able to clear mine fields or destroy enemy hard points.

With the habitual headlong retreat that Polish forces suffered in 1939 it was a rare event that Polish engineers were able to play to their strengths at anything other than destroying bridges and frustrating Nazi advances.

There are no miniature manufactures in the world that produce Polish Engineer miniatures in 15mm so I had to cast my eyes about for a workable parallels.

Firstly was the issue of finding their transport vehicles. The Czech Praga RV six wheeled trucks. After much searching I managed to find a single manufacturer of these trucks and that was QRF Miniatures in their German range.

The trucks needed an enormous amount of cleanup and nothing seemed to fit together properly BUT once the paint jobs were applied they passed muster!

The miniatures were another matter however! With a lack of Polish engineering options I needed to find an army whose uniform was a passable parallel to the Polish 1936 uniform. Not as easy as one may first imagine! The Italians were an option although nobody made Italian engineers either. Finally I settled on Peter Pigs US Marine and Army Engineers. The main difference in their uniforms was the  height of the puttees with the Marine ones climbing to half way up the calf, whereas the Infantry engineers has their trousers descending to their boots.

With a little trimming of the helmets a passable wz.1936 pattern helmet could be replicated and where the packs were concerned they looks identical to Polish ones so long as you are OK not having the bedroll or the mess tin strapped to the pack outside.

Now comes the question of mine clearance! In September 1939 Poland had already developed a 'mine detector' BUT it was developed with the intention of searching out and clearing of unexploded ordnance on artillery ranges. It was not, therefore, being utilised in the role it would come to own. Poland was clearing mines through other means... i.e a MkI eyeball and MkI knife. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to paint up some mine detectors though as they provided some good poses that I hadn't already got into the army and they also serve as an easily identifiable figure by which you can identify this unit.

The other miniature in the US Army Sappers, Pioneers and Engineers pack that can easily be shoe horned into your Piechoty force is the sapper that is carrying the satchel charge. With the same trimming to the helmet as then mine detector got he becomes easily the most passable version of a US solder in Polish service!

So there we have it! A Polish Field Engineers platoon of two sections each carried in a Praga RV truck with the platoon command also carried in a Praga RV and an Engineers truck which will be removed should any field positions or bridges be destroyed or created!

Onwards and Upwards!

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