Saturday, 1 October 2016

Flames of War: Polish Mountain Infantry - The Modelling

So, now that we know that the Polish Highlanders were double hard bastards I'm sure you can all agree that there isn't a man alive who could offer a good enough reason as to why he wouldn't want Polish Gorale in his army... so WHY ON EARTH DO BATTLEFRONT NOT DO THEM?????

I have a theory that Battlefront actually hate the 10th Motorised Brigade as well! They include them in Blitzkreig (in a roundabout way) BUT do not produce their troops, do not produce their tanks, do not produce their softskins, do not produce the armoured train that fought with them (PP51 - Pierwszy Marszalek), and do NOT produce the mountain troops (or KOP for that matter) that fought with them from start to finish! Shocking!

So, I had to find another way! Now, thankfully we have a manufacturer out there that does do Polish Mountain troops... and that ladies and gentlemen is True North Miniatures.

As I believe I have said before, I think that the Battlefront Polish Infantry sculpts are probably the worst sculpts since the Palaeolithic minifigs figures of the 70's but thankfully True North do some pretty great infantry (although their vehicles are a bit suspect) and there are two packs of Polish Mountain Troops in their range. An infantry pack with a healthy variety of poses and a command pack with just two model poses.

This was a great start BUT what were we still missing? Well we still needed NCO's, LMG's, HMG's, Anti Tank Rifles and Light Mortar Teams... and that's not all! This meant a lot of conversion work!

If you look at any... ANY photo of Polish Mountain Troops there is one thing you will notice. They ALL have 3/4 length cloaks/coats on. I don't care that you can only ever find parade and marching photos so you just cant be sure whether they wore them in combat or not... they all still have cloaks. These cloaks are conspicuous by their absence on True North figures, essentially just being normal Polish infantry with a funny hat! Well this was a double edged sword because IF other than the hat they all had the same uniform as normal Polish Infantry then all of those troop types that I didn't have I could just pull from the Polish Infantry range and just do some head swaps. Nice! Easy enough... but what  about the cloaks. Well I decided that I may as well just take the plunge, hack off the rucksacks and sling bags and sculpt some cloaks... which I did!

So stage one was to prepare all of the miniatures that I needed to complete my Mountain Infantry platoon and supporting HMG assets by:

i) Remove the head and drill a 1mm hole for the brass rod

Remove the backpacks and sling bags for those miniatures that you intend adding cloaks to,

Insert a 1mm brass pin into the hole that you have drilled. The correct head will be mounted on this

Insert a Mountain Infantry head onto the pin like so...

To sculpt the cloaks I used the two part Magic Sculpt. The first soft fabric I've ever sculpted and whilst they may not be perfect, I do believe that they look a hell of a lot better than they did before and I think I definitely got the effect I wanted.

...and sculpt the cloak with Magic Sculpt

The painting and basing process was identical to that followed for my Piechoty, except that some of the colours were swapped out to use the ones I used with my French Indochina Marine Commandos as I felt the colour was closer to reality. I'll outline those ones as we go! :D

The indispensable grey primer and black undercoat is applied so that we can get this party started. All of this MUST be done with a Canadian Sphynx sitting on the window sill as their advice is invaluable!

A Canadian Sphinx is indispensable in the quest for well painted miniatures!

The basecoat of Vallejo's Violet Brown is applied to the main areas of the uniform

The first highlights are applied using Vallejo's Yellow Brown

A Filter is then applied using AK Interactives AK075 Filter for Nato Vehicles.

This is then left to dry (mostly) with the excess being removed using a cotton bud (or cue tip for my American friends) and once satisfied with the results a coat of matt varnish is applied to hold it all steady.

Now its just a question of painting up all of the little 'bits' that contribute to a fully painted regiment. 

Heavy equipment, such as the radios are painted Vallejo Russian Uniform, as are the mess tins on the back of the rucksack. The boots are black, the collar tabs are Vallejo Intense Blue with the hat ribbon and the collar tab flashing painted in Vallejo Offwhite

Mountain infantry didn't use canvas equipment straps. Instead all of their webbing was the same leather as their belt and ammunition pouches. These were all painted using Vallejo's Chocolate Brown as its basecoat with the highlights being done with Vallejo's Flat Earth

The skin is basecoated in GW Snakebite Leather and highlighted with GW Elf Flesh. 

The rifles wooden body is painted with a basecoat of Vallejo German Camo Medium Brown and highlighted with Vallejo Beige Brown. The metal parts of the rifles as well as the entrenching tool head is painted using Molten Metals Steel

The Canvas Sling Bags along with the Rucksack are painted a basecoat of Vallejo's English Uniform and highlighted with Vallejo Khaki. The bedroll is painted a basecoat of GW Scorched Brown and highlighted with Vallejo Flat Earth whilst the straps are painted with Vallejo English Uniform

After a touch of Varnish, its time to move onto the bases!

Im a big fan of making bases as something special as possible. If the bases don't work, it doesn't matter how well you paint your gear it will just not look that good. Because of this I like to spend a bit of time planning what Im going to do.

So... with the Polish Mountain Infantry I wanted bases that in some way reflected the environment that they actually fought in.

Having wandered around the Beskides and the Tatras the one thing that stands out is that in most of the area apart from the high peaks the landscape is rolling and most definitely not mountainous... but what there is an abundance of is trees.... lots and lots of trees so I decided that I would make my bases to reflect this.

I laid out all bases for all my Mountain Infantry assets and after a short trip to the garden hedge I proceeded to glue branch off cuts onto the bases where I saw fit. These were then left to dry thoroughly.

Once the bases were dry it was time to glue the troops to their bases with superglue and then put a layer of grout over the top to meld in the figure bases to the overall base level.

Once the grout is dry its time to sand them. This provides the base layer on the base which allows for the textural appearance of the bases once painted.

The bases have a basecoat of Vallejo's German Camo Medium Brown which is then drybrush highlighted with Vallejo Green Ochre.

Once this is done a section of the base is painted with PVA glue and 2mm Spring Green Static Flock
is applied using a static flock applicator and in the remaining spaces on the base a variety of static flock tufts are applied... and that as they say is that!

So... the finished pieces

The Infantry Platoon. Three sections of four bases each. A platoon command base, a 46mm Mortar team and an Anti Tank Rifle team

The full Podhale Rifles platoon with the accompanying HMG platoon

A full Podhale Rifle Section

...and of course the HMG section that accompanies them in order to lay the smack down:

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