Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Flames of War: Polish Cavalry - The Dismounted Elements

After my last post, outlining the sum total of all of my mounted Polish Cavalry elements I thought it would be a great idea for my next post (i.e this one for those that struggle with inference) to be one that covers all of my dismounted elements for my Flames of War 19th Volhynian Uhlans... Not just the Dismounted Infantry and Horse Holders  in one post and Artillery and Anti Tank pieces in another! No! All together in one post... and all completed by the end of play 2016!

What I didn't realise when I started out on this epic slog was that I was, in point of fact, being an absolute clown shoe!

27 pots of paint, 2 spray cans of Varnish, 4 destroyed paintbrushes, 3 rolls of toilet roll (no comment!), a box of sand, bottomless pots of tea and a conveyor belt of coffee... and of course she who must be obeyed being deported to Poland for the duration and 7 looooooooooong weeks later; I have finally crossed the finishing line!

Thank God!

2016 is done and I have a clean sheet for new projects going into 2017.

So there isn't much to say with regards to the painting as the colours for the Polish cavalry uniforms are the same as for the infantry so I'll just get straight into it all.

The Horse Holders

These are all Forged in Battle Miniatures and whilst I don't think the horses themselves are as good as the True North miniatures they are a country mile ahead of Battlefronts pathetic attempts. The handlers themselves are also well cut and take paint well.

I have done a base for each of my mounted cavalry sections.

The Dismounted Uhlan Companies

The meat and gravy of any Polish Cavalry army for Flames of War. Absolutely hard core troops rated as Fearless Veteran! The best in the game. Dig these guys in and your opponents will need to call in Balfour Beatty to dig them out of your table again. Not particularly hard hitting, as they are only rifle teams BUT each platoon is accompanied by its own anti tank rifle team which in 1939 is not as much of a joke as you may think, especially as the Polish wz.35 'Ur' anti material rifle was a lot better than anybody elses at the start of the war.

These miniatures are predominantly Forged in Battle Miniatures although unfortunately FiB do not provide anti tank rifles for the Polish cavalry range and so these are provided by the excellent Polish range from True North Miniatures owned by Old Glory UK. The reason I chose FiB for the majority of my Dismounted Uhlans is principally because of the sculpts  which include some absolutely beautiful miniatures such as those firing their carbines. The only down side that I ever see from FiB is evidence of mould deterioration with some of the faces being very indistinct.

The True North Miniatures are my favourite overall choice because the sculpts are of a high enough standard, and in any case streets ahead of market leaders Battlefront Miniatures. They lend themselves to conversions well and are sculpted with enough depth that they take paint well enough to disguise any shortcomings... and of course a range of miniatures that is more wide ranging than anybody else for the Polish. The shortcomings being occasional inaccuracies of uniforms and very low quality vehicles sculpts.

I am, if nothing else, really fussy about the quality of the miniature that I will use in an army I choose to model. If there are alternatives I will ALWAYS choose the quality option. 

Heavy Machine Gun Platoon

As the rest of the boots on ground are only rifle teams the Heavy Machine Gun platoon provides some heavier firepower which when dug in is pretty much immovable!

There isn't anybody worth considering, other than True North miniatures who produces Polish Cavalry Heavy Machine Guns,  although I believe Alex (of Anatoli's Games Room) has used FiB French Heavy Machine Guns to represent them. As I have ordered plenty of stuff from True North however and liking their miniatures I decided to go ahead and order my heavy machine guns from them.

These do exactly as they say on the tin.

Dismounted Cavalry Anti Tank Platoon

In the Polish army of 1939 the anti tank workhorse was the excellent Swedish designed Bofors 37mm anti tank gun designated wz.36 37mm AT. Poland had license to produce these in country and was able to turn out quite a few before the war started and provided its thirteen cavalry brigades with a far above average ratio. The individual platoons was also provided for to a greater degree  with each platoon having two sections of two guns.

A wz.36 with cavalry crew set up and ready to pour it on!

A trained crew could fire 12 aimed rounds a minute from one of these and penetrate up to 40mm of armour at 300 metres at anything up to 60 degrees. Not to be sneezed at as in the German and Soviet armies of 1939 not a single armoured vehicle in their arsenals carried more than this. At just under a mile away this gun could still penetrate about 15mm of armour plating under ideal conditions.

Guns and crew are provided by True North miniatures again whilst on the command base the guy waving is a Forged in Battle miniature whilst the other two are also True North.

Now, the horse limbers are provided by Battlefront Miniature and took me about a year to get a hold of. As you can see, if you compare the quality of the horses next to horses provided by True North or even FiB you can see that the Battlefront horses are of a far FAR lower quality... however, at least they aren't so bad that the paint peels off of them in an effort to get away.

You can see the small pneumatic tyres provided on the limber in this photograph

The limbers themselves have had some small modifications to make them more in line with Polish cavalry AT gun limbers. Quite simply the wheels were replaced with small pneumatic tyres which I had spare from previous 37mm AT gun models from True North.

The limber crewman didn't need much work as the uniform that they are sculpted with are very nondescript but instead I limited myself to some head swaps and filing the puttees until they looked like full cavalry boots.

Bosh! Job done!

Horse Artillery Battery

These were considered the cream of the crop in a Polish army. Poland did not have ANY elite troops in 1939. The Cavalry and the Mountain Infantry were considered the best along with a limited number of the Korpus Ochrony Pogranicza (KOP - Border Protection Corp) battalions that had been well provided for. Within the Cavalry however the tradition of the Horse Artillery was maintained. They were the hardest trained and the highest skilled.

Following the surrender of the Soviet Union to Poland in 1921 Poland was left with a healthy amount of artillery pieces. There were more than a few 3" Putilov's (the ubiquitous 'Orthodox's') available and so the Polish rechambered them from 76.2mm to 75mm Polish ammunition and handed to thecavalry.

A Polish 75mm showing how the caisson would be set up next to it for easy access to ammunition

One of my pet hates about Battlefront miniatures is that their ranges are rife with incorrect provisions for the troop types in question and being pointed towards using incorrect miniatures to represent something gets me a little hot under the collar! Because Battlefronts artillery are all for Piechoty (Infantry) with even the guns being the incorrect versions, let alone infantry being called upon to represent cavalry I decided I needed to go my own way again.

A Polish 75mm showing how it would be limbered and drawn

True Norths 75mm's are badly sculpted so I needed another option and I found it in Peter Pigs World War 1 Russian range. By happy coincidence I also decided to utilise some other pieces from Peter Pigs ranges, such as the Sign Post on the mounted spotter base and the table, chairs and periscope on the Staff Team base.

The artillery, command, staff and spotter crews are all provided from True North Miniatures again. 

The mounted spotter had a slight conversion done on him to provide myself with a mounted spotting team. I took a mounted cavalry officer and removed his sword arm. I took a kneeling officer with binoculars and shaved his right arm away from his body keeping his binoculars in hand and removing the left hand from them. This right arm was then drilled and pinned onto the body of the mounted officer.

Personally, I like what I came up with!

...and there you have it! My completed Pulk Kawalerii! Of course there are other elements that the Polish cavalry in Flames of War can field such as Reconnaissance tank platoons and armoured car platoons, along with Motorised Anti Aircraft batteries as well as Infantry and KOP companies and Light Gun and Howitzer batteries from Infantry Divisions. All of these have already been painted previously... as the following photos of my completed army demonstrate! :D

The only thing left to do for Polish Cavalry which I am unlikely ever to field is a dismounted cyclist company, although they could make for an interesting modelling project at some point having tracked down a single photograph of a dismounted cyclist section on exercise and I reckon I could knock them up without much bother... but that's for another time I think!

Dismounted Cavalry Cyclist section. Uniforms are identical to mounted cavalry even down to the spurs!

Fix Bayonets!