Victor’s WWIII: Soviet Army Showcase

With this force I toiled for a while about whether or not to do camouflage or plain green. There are some really cool camo schemes out there for Soviet tanks, and it was very tempting. However when my army lists started to contain more and more vehicles (tune in for Victors WWIII Soviet list at 3pm)  , I settled on plain green to ensure I’d get them all finished in the time frame. But what shade of green?

As you will have seen in Chris and Evan’s article (What is soviet green?) there no one green to rule them all. I’ve painted plenty of drab olive greens before, so I aimed for something more vibrant.

I started by airbrushing a dark green, and then panel fading with a pale green, intentionally going quite light. Next was a dry-brush and a wash to tone it all down, followed by a second dry-brush to bring back the edges. This is a really quick way to get a lot of tonal depth on your tanks quickly.

The result is quite an intense green, more towards blue than yellow. It won’t be for everyone tastes, but I’m quite happy with it and it pops on the table.

I chose to paint the rubber parts to add another colour to break up the green. In reality they would likely be painted the same time as the tank, but there are examples with bare rubber. Same goes for the wooden un-ditching logs, tools, and exhausts where paint might have come off and rusted over time.

Another additional colour I used was an olive drab, which I used for anything consumable (MG ammo tins, fuel drums, missile canisters, etc).

So even with a “green horde” I’ve managed to get some other colours in there which hopefully add some visual interest without looking too patch work.

That’s 34 vehicles completed in 18 evenings, the largest army I’ve ever painted, and the fastest. Time for a break before I work on the infantry to ride in the BMP-3’s. I’m looking forward to using these all in a game soon!

– Victor

Returning To The Rodina – T-34 Battalion

With Chris

A long time ago, in a very different building, I remember being so excited about our latest army deal I grabbed one with the intention of painting 21 T-34s in 28 days. Spoiler alert, I got it done! Now this was long before we had the awesome full plastic T-34 that we have now, but it was still a fantastic project and I really enjoyed it. Best of all, by challenging myself with a strict timeline and series of web articles I got it done, and finished the basis for a great Soviet army.

Learn about Chris’ original tank project here…

Fast forward a few years and we have a similar deal, just with all plastic and at a better price than last time! Thinking about it has made me dust off my box o’ T-34s and think about how I might deploy them under V4…

All The T-34s

Straight out of the gate we have the simple, straightforward and fairly brute force approach. Start with 21 T-34 (85mm) tanks and garnish with some simple additions. ZSU M17 AA because they are plastic, they are cheap, they are in Formation, they are cool, and packing all those .50cal machine-guns they will put some fear into infantry. The addition of the mortars is really about adding another unit to the Formation and whilst I was tempted to make it a unit of three (and using those points elsewhere) I thought six will mean that they might actually be useful and if they can pin or knockout a couple of AT guns then they will have easily paid for themselves by potentially saving the lives of a few tanks. Last, but certainly not least, are thee BA-64s. I love these little bad boys so much I have painted close to 20 of them as I paint a unit up for every Soviet army I build. Cheap, cheerful, with a machine-gun and Spearhead they can get your T-34s a little closer to the enemy – drive me closer so I can hit them with by 85mm gun!

With so many fast AT12 guns in the force I managed to chew up my points pretty quickly. So lets try removing a few….

Dirty Dozen (Plus One)

For this version I have reduced the T-34 count down to 13 – hopefully it will be unlucky for my opponents! With the points saved I have added in a Hero SMG Company and the Hero Tankodesantniki Command Card so I can have an aggressive group packed with infantry and tanks to charge at the enemy.

In addition, I’ve added in three IS-2 tanks as some heavy armour and big guns! I thought about adding four but three meant that I could pair them up with a company of T-34 tanks and they could form a counterattack force in any mission where I had reserves. To increase my chances of getting any reserves early I have also added in Partisan Guides to give me an extra dice on a reserve roll.

Next up, despite what Tina Turner said there is always a place for a Hero Company…


We Don’t Need Another Hero…

Changing out to a Hero T-34 (85mm) Company gives me another way to use the army and still have quite a different feel. Smaller units of tanks and a better Skill rating mean that I can be a little more cunning with the units the tabletop. Plus I still have all my favourite support options packed in to the list so I get good value out of the extra models.

There we have it, three different lists with quite different play styles, but with a similar mix of models and a strong core of T-34s. If you want to add some more variation you can start looking into mixed 76mm and 85mm T-34 Formations (remember the plastic comes with both turrets) as these come in both “normal” and Hero versions, giving you a way to keep your tank count up, but still saving a few points by keeping some cheaper tanks in the mix.


Victor’s Heroes Ride Again

With Victor

About 5 years ago I painted a small hero T-34 company for a doubles tournament. You can find my original article here…

With the launch of Bagration: Soviet I wanted to look at updating this force to a full 100 point Version 4 army, and I came up with this list:

The army had quite a lot of steps when painting it, and unfortunately it was done before I got religious about documenting my painting methods!

The logical choice would be to paint 3 more T-34/85’s to make the platoons 4 strong, but I’m not confident I can recreate the scheme exactly. Instead I chose things to add that will be ok to look a bit different.

I’m a sucker for captured equipment so the Panthers were an easy choice. For these I’m going to try and recreate the iconic photo as best I can, with Dunkelgelb hulls and green turrets, and large hand applied numbers.

The new plastic ZSU M17 that is coming also has me excited, so 3 of those in lend-lease olive drab will also give me a different look.

Who doesn’t like IS-2’s? I’ll add 3 of them and these are where I’ll try get close to matching the T-34 paint scheme and white markings, but since they’re a separate platoon it’ll be ok when they turn out a little different.

The OCD in me kinda likes that the army is mostly all 3-strong platoons.

The last thing I’ll have to add is one more base of Spetznaz as so I can run them as Armoured Reconnaissance.

I’m looking forward to revamping this army as it has been one of my favourites, and it deserves to see the table again.

As side note: You may spot my T-34s on the back of our awesome new box; T-34! The best way to start your own Soviet tank horde!


Anything More Than A 76mm Is Overkill

With Chris

One of the fun things about a new book hitting the shelves is taking a look at the armies you previously built but have since been eclipsed by something newer and therefore shinier. One of the unloved boxes in my cabinet just happens to be a Light SP Artillery Regiment and having a reason just to pull it off the shelf and check out the models has been a source of joy this week!

The original army was built to a fairly straight forward specification, how many SU-76s can I put in the list. After all more tanks is a good thing when it comes to a Soviet list. I was under no illusions though and I certainly understood that SU-76s were not going to get the job done by themselves so I remember painting up some IS-2 tanks for a little extra firepower and to have something with some armour in my force. BA-64s were (of course) included as you always needed recon under V3. It is too long ago to remember what else was in there but I can recall the one major tournament that I took it too and let me tell you, it was a FUN list. There was something about having 20 pairs of 76mm guns, each more than capable of knocking out a Sherman or Panzer IV. Having so many of them also meant that I could afford to be a little reckless – they even assaulted some infantry off an objective, or maybe they tried… It is my story so I am going to say it ended well, the commanders were presented medals and they were not wiped out by the defending troops (which is more likely!)…

Taking a look at the SU-76 under the Bagration: Soviet book and they are really interesting having gone through a stat overhaul in some areas. They are still a moving piece of tissue paper with armour 4 and top armour 0. They are relatively skilled (4+) so whilst they cannot be counted on to do anything too tricky it is worth trusting the dice for a Blitz or Shoot and Scoot (especially if you have the Make Your Own Luck Command Card!). Their 76mm gun has gained an Artillery stat line which means that the days of having to drive up to gun lines and duel it out are gone, instead it is raining HE all day! Best of all they are only 13 points for a platoon!

My plan for V4 remains largely unchanged from V3, mainly because it is completely hypothetical at this stage. Start with a full force of SU-76 “tanks”. I have all of these painted so it seems like a waste to not use them, and I really love the little things. Add in a Hero SMG Company with my favourite Command Card, Hero Tankodesantniki, so they can jump on board some tanks and ride into the teeth of the enemy and deliver close range SMG fire and grenades. Speaking of tanks… you know what is coming next… IS-2 platoon! I originally painted seven but only have the points spare for four right now. That still gives me an awesome little threat unit and with the Hero SMG unit on top comes out to an even 40 points – hello Reserve unit.

Rounding out the force are a couple of old friends, the ZSU platoon with their meat chopping .50cals and a unit of BA-64 armoured cars. With armour like a damp sock the SU-76s need to be in an optimal position as soon as possible so a quick Spearhead up with the BA-64s should help considerably.

Rounding out the force is the Lucky Command Card. Or as I call it, the first point that I spend in most of my lists.

Is this a tournament winning force? Unlikely, and certainly not in my hands. Is it fun, filled with interesting models and has the ability to throw a wrench in someone else’s plans? Absolutely!


Wittmann vs the IS2?

With Chris

During our last Live Launch (for the Waffen-SS in Normandy) I talked about my desire to begin building my “Wittman’s Last Day” Tiger 1 Formation.

Find out more about Chris’ plan here…

Since the army had taken me such a long time to get started (around a year) I thought I would prioritise it on the hobby table and get it properly finished and ready for battle. I still need to paint the other units but I feel like I have made a good start.

And of course with the launch of the Bagration: Soviet book they might find themselves facing off against some of the many IS-2s lurking around the Studio team!


T-34s, The Hammer

With Casey

I have finally finished my Big Four Of Late War T-34 company. Its only taken a year but it was worth it, and just in time as Soviet T-34s get a massive upgrade in Bagration: Soviet!

Under Fortress Europe Soviet players were limited in the number of T-34 (85mm) tanks that they could take, however now there are no limits and the cost to upgrade them got cheaper. Let’s compare the Hero T-34 lists to see how much bang for buck you get.

In the Hero T-34 (85mm) Tank Company it only costs 6 points to upgrade all of the T-34 (76mm) to T-34 (85mm) tanks, which to me is a no-brainer! I’ll get slightly less support, but the core of the formation will be much more useful.

I’m still happy that I painted up all of the 76mm turrets though, as it means that the army can still be used in Mid-war.

To pad out the Hero T-34 (85mm) list I’m going to add most of the in Formation support options from the list, and add an extra ZSU M17 platoon, BA-64 armoured cars, and a platoon of IS-2s to give me some high anti-tanks and a strong assault platoon.

Most of these extras are already painted, although I’ve just started the IS-2s and I’m still waiting to get my hands on some ZSUs…


Chris’s Syrian Army

with Chris Townley

When we first started working on the original Fate Of A Nation booklet I spent a lot of time reading about Israeli actions in the Golan Heights during the 1967 and 1973 wars. Before then I knew very little about the Syrian side of these wars and I found it particularly eye opening. When we published the hardback version of Fate Of A Nation we needed a Syrian Army painted for all of the photos – I of course jumped at the opportunity because the fixed deadline meant I would get a lot of models painted in a relatively short period of time (I love a hard deadline when it comes to hobby projects).

The release of Oil War has meant that this project gets a second life for a relatively small amount of extra painting. Now I am sure you are thinking “Syrians in Oil War? I thought it was just Israelis, Iranians, and Iraqis?” Well that was the plan originally, however when Wayne was working on the book, he found that the Syrian forces in the mid-80s were sufficiently similar to the Iraqi forces that with a few rules you could fit the Syrian forces too, giving the Israelis a traditional foe to go head to head with.

Reviewing what models I already had finished I don’t have enough for a whole army (yet) but by expanding what I have already and adding in some new units I’ve come up with a fun list.

I started out with a T-62 Battalion with a total of 11 tanks. To give it some extra sticking power I added a Mech Company mounted in BMP 1s along with an attached SA-7 AA missile team. The AT-3 Saggers on the APCs significantly add to my Formations firepower. To round out the Formation I added a pair of ZSU-23-4 AA tanks. With this Formation coming in at a total of 24 points I then turned to…

A T-55 Battalion. This Formation has a total of 16 tanks (3 platoons of 5 and an HQ tank). Like the T-62 Battalion I added platoon of infantry in BMP 1 APCs and a pair of older ZSU-57-2 AA tanks. This Formation comes in at 23 points and if I had more painting time, I would be tempted to duplicate it and add the same again to my army.

Rounding out the Force is a Scout Platoon of 4 BRDM-2s – this is primarily (okay, solely) because I want a unit to help me Spearhead across the table. Next up is a platoon of SA-8 Geckos. These are some of the coolest (or perhaps oddest) models we have ever made and I have been looking for an opportunity add these to an army but never found the right option. This seemed like a good chance! Completing the army is 8 Gazelle HOT helicopters – I chose these for a few reasons, one, HOT missiles are the business when it comes to cracking open enemy tanks thanks to their AT 23 missiles, secondly, I already have some Hinds in progress for my Czechs and wanted to build and paint something different, and thirdly, Syrian Gazelle helicopters proved to be a thorn in the side of the Israeli forces in ’82, making them flavourful choice.
Now as it stands my army comes in 80 points (you can see why I mentioned the idea of duplicating the T-55 Battalion to bring me up to 100 points) but I think this is a nice starting point to aim for. Right now, I have just under half of the army painted (32/73 teams) by taking my existing troops from Fate Of A Nation and rather than creating a project that is bigger than Ben-Hur I think keeping it sensible and aiming for a finished 80 points is better than a “never completed” 100 points!

Painting Desert Camo

with Aaron Te-Hira Mathie

With the release of Oil War we at Battlefront are taking a trip back to the desert. In this book we seek to examine the first days of a major conflict between the two superpowers of the Cold War era spreading out to encompass Western Asia. As part of this enlarging of the conflict as we have envisioned it, we examine four armies, Israel, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
The book sets down some organisational structures and basic philosophies of use that each of these armies employed based on their long or on-going experiences of fighting in this inhospitable environment. They determine everything from what equipment and tactics they use, to how they paint their military equipment.
Twentieth century warfare is dominated by ranged combat, as such, the problem has three prongs. Spotting a target, identifying the target, and ensuring the target is within range of the weapon system/s at your disposal.
The battlefield of the 1980s is an interesting cross-section of emerging technologies that seek to make the three tasks above more simple, and older ideas and technologies that are more tried and tested.

Items like Thermal Imagers and Laser Rangefinders do indeed make the problems of spotting, identifying, and ranging potentially more simple, however at the time these pieces of technology were bulky, expensive, and difficult to maintain.

So while parts of an army might have access to some or all, the vast majority of troops still only have the Mk.1 eyeball, and this is where camouflage comes in.

So what is the basic purpose of camouflage?

Some of you already know, but some will not.

The answer is that camouflage, especially with regards to large pieces of equipment (for instance a Main Battle Tank), is used to fool the human brain into thinking that the object being viewed is not there, something else or at a different distance than it is.
Some environments make this task more simple as the terrain comprises of a large number of obstacles that can be used to obscure the target in part, or in total.

These types of terrain features are not nearly as prevalent in a desert.
The terrain in desert environments is often marked by flat open areas providing little in the way of natural cover and concealment. Therefore the paint job on your Tank is fairly unlikely to fool anyone into thinking that it is a small hill or clump of trees as it might in Europe.

The only way that this is going to work in an arid desert environment is to bury the item in the sand, while this is a workable option for static defences it is not an ideal situation if mobile warfare is the name of the game.

The armies examined in Oil War approach the problem from two directions.
Israel and Iran choose to paint their ground based military equipment in a drab light green grey colour. The reason is that these armies are expecting to fight in varied terrain, from the desolate Negev desert to the more temperate Golan Heights and Southern Lebanon in the case of the IDF.
Therefore they have decided to go with a neutral colour that will not stick out in either type of environment when clean, and with local dust will do a good job of blending in, thus rendering the vehicle more difficult to detect.

Iran/Israeli Colours  

This approach does a good job of concealing, therefore making the task of locating the target more of a challenge, however it does not address the problems of target identification and ranging to the same degree.

Iraq and Syria approach the issue by employing camouflage patterns.

These are more terrain specific and more time consuming to apply, but do break up the shape of the piece of equipment more effectively, therefore making accurate target identification and ranging more difficult, at the expense of being able to be used in multiple environments without being changed.

Iraqi Colours

Other armies briefly mentioned in the book generally approach the problem in much the same way.

Syrian Colours

So for instance, the US forces for the most part were deploying for Exercise BRIGHTSTAR in Egypt, therefore would for the most part be using the Grey Desert version of MERDC, which consists of a sand coloured base, overpainted with field drab, earth yellow and black.

US Colours

Whereas the Soviet forces are depicted as using their ubiquitous drab green.
However, this does not Have to be the case. Team Yankee takes place in an alternate reality, so you could paint your Soviet models in the green and beige camouflage pattern used by them during their military involvement in Afghanistan during the 1980s, equally US forces could be using the all over light sand colour as seen during the 1991 Gulf War, as could your Iraqi forces.

Soviet Colours

If you do choose to paint your forces in camouflage, it is a good idea to see if an existing template exists. If so, use that if historical accuracy is your jam.

French Colours

This also generally means that the hard work of figuring out colour placement and shape, in order to best break up the shape of the piece of equipment, has already been done.

British Colours

However, in the case of camouflage schemes that have been applied without a template (for instance Iraq or Syria), a good way to approach the situation, is to either find historical photographs to help give you a general look and feel, applying basic camouflage principles (for instance ensuring that no surface is entirely one colour) or a combination of both. In this way you will be able to ensure a more lifelike appearance to your miniatures.


Planning an Iranian Army

– with Chris Potter, BF UK Office

Chieftains and T-62s and T-55 with Scorpions and M109 artillery? In a legal force?

Yes please.

And that was the thought process when I looked through Oil War: World War III in the Middle East. Freddie called Israelis and Gareth wanted to build an Iraqi army. That left me with the choice of Syrians, Iranians, or a Soviet T-62M force in conjunction with Red Banner. After reading through the background for the Iranians, specifically that they were sponsored by NATO prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and then had access to Soviet armour and weapons thereafter, the thought process for a combined arms list that had a bit of everything that Team Yankee offers, took shape.

As I preach to anyone who will listen, success is down to Proper Preparation. Although not grammatically correct, the point is still valid. I sat down and thrashed out a list that had a bit of everything. This original list took me to over 200 points. Probably a few too many to build in a week and then paint in a month…

So I trimmed the core formations and reduced the support choices and managed to drop the list to 109 points.

The list below is probably my final choices… though as ever our first few test games with our forces normally tell us what does and doesn’t work.

Unit Points Running Total
Chieftain Tank Company –

HQ Section x2 Chieftains

X3 Platoons with x3 Chieftains

Mech Group M113s

41 41
T-62 Tank Company –

HQ Section with x2 T-62

X2 Platoons with x3 T-62

X1 Platoon with x3 T-55

Mech Group BMP-1s

19 60
M60 Tank Company –

HQ Section with x2 M60

X3 Platoons with x3 M60

20 80
Scorpion Recce Troop x4 4 84
M109 Battery x6 10 94
M113 OP Observer 1 95
Z SU-23-4 AA Battery x4 4 99
Jeep TOW AT Group x4 4 103
Hail Rocket Battery x6 6 109

Chris’ Red Banner List

with Chris Potter

You may have seen some of my articles on the last live launch about how I chose my army for Enemy at the Gates and some of my ‘rationale’ behind why I took what I took.

For those who didn’t it went like this:
I wanted a tank army, but realised that Stalingrad wasn’t the place to deploy hordes of T-34’s. So after painting 100pts of T-34, KV-1 and Valentines, I switched and painted up 100pts of pure infantry (ok with a little support from Valentines and 76mm guns)

For Red Banner, I clearly didn’t learn from my mistakes, and like a kid in a sweet shop, took all over the best looking units and then thought about how well they would work.

Someone likes painting lots of tanks and infantry!

In a brief respite from the madness, some clarity resumed and I decided to use some of my Enemy at the Gates minis that were already painted. At least this meant my painting queue was considerably shorter!

Thankfully with the amount of models I already had completed, for me my list did include things I was really excited about.

I had to take my main formation as T-34’s. I had fallen in love with these plucky little medium tanks – and what better way to honour this love than by upgrading them to Hero status?

Better skill rating (+4 instead of +5) and also a better hit on rating (+3 instead of +2) meant a much hardier and survivable unit.

So I took a T-34 Hero Tank Battalion consisting of:

8pts T-34 Hero Tank Battalion HQ, 1x T-34
24pts T-34 Hero Tank Company, 3x T-34
10pts Valentine Hero Tank Company, x2 Valentine 2pdr & x1 Valentine 6pdr
10pts Valentine Hero Tank Company, x2 Valentine 2pdr & x1 Valentine 6pdr

Total 56pts

This was a great start to the army. Me being me, despite my clarity of the previous day, took the plunge and decided to paint up my new tanks individually, as befits their Hero status. Each T-34 and Valentine would receive distinct details, damage and even specific decals.

The infantry…

I had to take a Storm Group. These were invaluable in my games amongst the ruins of Stalingrad. Their 4+ hit on score meant that they were a lot more survivable than your average Soviet soldier. Combined with the ability to add flamethrowers  and PTRD AT rifle teams for a moderate score meant they became an all round unit, that could assault (Fearless 3+) and hold objectives.

Plus, with them being a compulsory (black box formation) from Enemy at the Gates meant I could take them with my Red Banner force as a support formation. Urrah!

19pts Storm Group, x7 PPSh teams, x2 Maksim HMG, x1 PTRD AT rifle & x1 50mm mortar
6pts x1 PTRD AT rifle 2pts & x2 Flamethrower (optional).

Total 27pts

At this point I have two solid choices that can, crucially, support each other (and one of them is even fully painted…)

Now to flesh out the remaining 17pts…


After looking through the Red Banner book the old me popped up and wouldn’t relent until I took another support – this time artillery. SU-76 at just 10pts for x3 meant I was able to add some direct fire (AT9) and some artillery template that is survivable.

My remaining 7pts were spent on:
IL-2 Shturmovik Company x2 for 7pts

That’s a 100pts dead on.

Now to paint them up and play a game, work out my weaknesses and re-evaluate my choices!