Category Archives: Soviets

Stalingrad Jump-off Points for Chain of Command


I picked these above grade sewer entrances up from Demo’s Laser-cut Designs:

I intend to use them as jump-off points for Chain of Command games in Stalingrad – for the Soviets obviously.  The figures are hacked up plastics from the Warlord Games plastic Soviets set.  I didn’t like the figures that much but they really are perfect for an application like this where you need to cut them down and position arms just so.

I’m not sure about the grass.  Tall grass often grows up around obstacles like this, but perhaps it’s overdone.  I would like to bend it a little as if blown by the wind but I’m not sure how to pull that off.  And I’d like to put a little variety of color onto it.  I tried dry-brushing some lighter paint on but that didn’t work so well.  I may mask the figures and hit the tops with my airbrush.  So I guess these are still works in progress.

I bought two sets as I intend to embed the others into the terrain boards I plan to build for Stalingrad.  They are really easy to put together.  The raised bit is two pieces.  After gluing them together I spread a little filler around the edges to help hide the join and give a more unfinished concrete kind of look to them.  And I primed them with a primer for wood before putting the basing material on to help prevent warping.  (I’m not sure that’s really a concern but I did it to be on the safe side).


Rubicon T-34/76 Initial Review

This arrived at the FLHS yesterday and I grabbed one.  I assembled it and wanted to give my first impressions before painting it up.  Mostly I’m very pleased with the model.  I have one criticism of something that is fairly disappointing, and a few nits to pick, but at the end of it all, I’m still very pleased and will probably get a couple more of these.

Here it is as assembled.  It probably took me two hours to put it together.  A lot of that time was look at pictures and drawings and making decisions about what options to put onto the model.


I have a great book on T-34s by Mikhail Baryatinskiy.  I very much recommend this book.  I’d really love it if someone would do a real encyclopedia in English on T-34s as it seems there is a lot to know.  Anyway, I looked through the book and tried to pick a picture to build like.  I wanted to do an STZ factory with the distinctive gun mantlet as that is an option with this kit.  There weren’t many pictures of that but one line drawing, so I followed the line drawing but substituted the rubber road wheels instead of the steel wheels.

There’s a lot you can do with this kit: you can do a version with steel road wheels or rubber road wheels.  There are two turret options, two gun mantlets options, two hatch options on the turret, and two on the hull, and a few other things.  You can assemble a number of different looks to your T-34.  Just find a good pic and start following it and you probably have the parts to do any T-34 mostly correct before the introduction of the improved turret with the dual hatches for the commander and loader.

My only major criticism of this kit is the tracks which I find fairly disappointing.  Here’s a closeup from the end:


Those don’t look like the tread pattern on the T-34 too much to me.  I’m sure I’ll mud them up and it will be pretty obscure anyway but even pictures of muddy treads show the kind of interlocking pattern on the T-34 track joins.  That shouldn’t be that hard given the detail they are getting on other parts of the model.  And the inside of the tracks don’t show any track joins at all.  You can see that from this photo:


Those two tracks on the fender are cast on.  I was a little disappointed by that.  It seems like that should be optional stowage that you can add or not.

The build went together really well.  There are only two places on the model where there might still be seams visible and I imagine I’ll fix those in prepping for painting.  At the bottom of the turret on one side one of the seams might show.  I “painted” over it with plastruct and I think it wouldn’t appear but I’ll put some Tamiya modeling paste on it to give it the rough casting look to the metal anyway so it shouldn’t show up.  There is another seam on the rear of the model between the hull and drive assembly which will get the same treatment but I may have to fill it a little bit beforehand.  And I didn’t have to hack on anything to make it fit.  Nicely done!

I only did one modification before putting it together.  I couldn’t find any pictures of a T-34 with towing spots on the lower hull in front.  Both options Rubicon provides have something for that, either a hook or a kind of handle thing.  I just cut that off with an x-acto and filed it smooth.  When you look at the tank from the front I can point out a nit here.  That headlight seems awfully small compared to the headlights in pics I have.  They do a nice job in allowing you to put zero, one, or two on the model, and then they have an assembly for the headlight that was fitted to the side of the hull too if you want that.  I wish they were all slightly larger.


I chose to put a radio antenna on this model.  You can leave it off completely.

One other nit which you can see if you click on the top photo – the end of the gun is larger, like the end of a muzzle brake or something.  I can see that in one line drawing of a T-34 but I don’t see that in a single picture I have.  I guess you could sand it down, but that seems like a disaster waiting to happen if you’re not really careful.

It comes with a very nice set of decals that will allow you to number some tanks that will look like they belong in the same unit.

I’d love to see a single sprue option addition that you could purchase for this.  Here’s what I would put on it:

– a third set of tracks with a mix of steel and rubber road wheels.  You see a lot of pictures of T-34s like that where the front and rear are rubber and the ones in the middle are steel.

– a flamethrower attachment for the MG slot (I see from one of their online posts that will go in the T-34/85 kit – not sure the T-34/85 was ever configured with a flamethrower, but hey….)

– larger headlights, and perhaps a headlight that has been knocked out

– an empty antenna slot

– some stowage (empty boxes to sit along the side of the hull for example), or fascines of one sort or another.

But it’s a nice kit and I think I’ll need another one or two.

I thought I’d put a couple of pics up next to my Warlord model for a size comparison.  The Rubicon model is slightly larger.  It’s only a little longer but noticeably wider.




This is a JTFM/Die Waffenkammer T-34/85. This is an awesome model.  I need to get more models from him.  I have a panzer iiij that I’d love to do some work on.  But I got three Shermans from him and those are amazing models.  All of his stuff comes very nicely packaged, goes together very easily, and very minimal cleanup needed.


My second try at a worn winter camouflage and this one cam out much better I think.    You learn a little from each one.


There’s a little more refinement to the toothpaste technique on this one and I was a little more carefree with spraying the brown up onto the model.  I drybrushed the mud to bring out the highlights on the texture a little bit.  I think it all came out pretty well.


The location of the exhausts lends the model to a nice use of pigments there, but that’s the only place I used pigments.  What do you think?


Winter SU-76

Warlord’s SU-76 model, slightly modified, in a winter paint scheme.

The model didn’t go together all that well, and I wasn’t that keen on the way the compartment was built so attempted to throw a tarp over it.  I used green stuff and it looked really nice when I went to bed, but the next morning it had sagged.  It’s ok I guess.


I wanted to try a winter finish as an experiment.  I followed Steven Zaloga’s tips in his build of a winter SU-76.  His was in 1/35 and he did a lot more work on it than I did, but I followed the basic method of using toothpaste to cover places where I wanted there to be wear, paint it white, rub off the toothpaste, and voila – a worn winter camo look.  It came out pretty well, but I’d like to try it some more as I think it can be even better.  It’s probably a better technique on a larger model because I find it difficult to do a good job with small amounts of toothpaste, but perhaps practice will make perfect.


I then did the lower part of the model by painting it khaki grey with some brown on top of that and occasionally up onto the rest of the model.  I finished off by painting the bits on it, the tow cable, the tools, and the exhaust.


It seems de rigeur to make exhaust pipes rusty.  I wonder how realistic that is really.  It does provide a nice contrast on the model.  I used a little bit of pigment at the output of the exhaust for the blackening from smoke.

Soviet scout squad

In Chain of Command the Soviets can get an elite scout squad as a support option.  It’s a must have.  According to Chain of Command it consists of a junior leader with an smg and two teams each with two smgs and two rifles.  All rated as elite, even as support.


The figures are mostly from the Warlord scout pack but with some BTD snipers to fill out the rifle component of the group.  Nice figures all, although the rifle in the heavy camo suit (kneeling in the foreground on the right) has a badly miscast face.  I just painted a tan sniper kind of mask across it rather than fiddling with trying to fix it.

Soviet camo is pretty easy to paint.  Just do the base color and shade it then add some brown amoebas and highlight them and you’re done.  Here’s a closeup of the leader:


I’m basing all of my Soviets for urban fighting.  I need to get some urban terrain going for them to fight over.  Sounds like a good summer project.

The most interesting figure in the Soviet scout squad pack is this guy:



Now it didn’t really make sense to me why with bullets flying, bombs bursting, and rockets crashing nearby he would be sneaking around with a knife until I realized:


And a close up of the commissar:


Looks like I need to touch up his base a little bit….



Soviets for Stalingrad

My first batch of Soviets for Stalingrad.


These are mostly Warlord plastics from the Siberian veterans set.  There are a couple of Crusader leaders in the set.

First, I should tip my hat to Sidney Roundwood’s blog (  There are a lot of great ideas there and I borrowed a couple.  I really like the idea of putting leaders on a different kind of base.  You can immediately see which guy in the group is the leader by using a slightly larger hex shaped base.  I also nabbed the idea of using a mix of gray and brown on the base for urban terrain.  It fits perfectly for Stalingrad.  And putting some bricks on the base too helps.  These are bricks that came in a bag from the local hobby shop, made by Pegasus maybe, although I tossed the label and am not really sure about that.

Second, these figures are for skirmish in Stalingrad which I plan to use Chain of Command for.  I’ve written about those rules previously, and they are great rules.  We’ve been playing and when I’m not playing I’m mostly thinking about when I can play the next game.  In Chain of Command the Soviets (late war) can get a scout squad that has a leader, 4 guys with smgs, and 4 guys with rifles, so I did up my first batch to use as that in our Chain of Command games.  The Soviets in Stalingrad seemed to have a mix of between 10 and 25% of their soldiers with smgs so I’ll be doing a few smg guys for my Soviet order of battle.


Aside: I’m not sure I’ve figured out how to take photos on a white background yet, but I have figured out how to adjust them with the photo software on my mac.  The above started as gray and I adjusted the exposure to get them onto white.  So I’m probably taking the pictures wrong, as this is about as true to the actual colors as I’ve seen.  I’ll keep working on it.



Third, the Warlord plastic Soviets.  I’m fairly disappointed in the set although they do have some really positive aspects.  The sculpting is overall really nice.  I particularly like the weapons – the rifles with bayonets are particularly believable.  There are a couple of places on the sculpts where it almost looks unfinished – I can’t figure out where one feature ends and the other begins.  I got these because of the ability to mix and match weapons between the Soviets and the Germans.  I expect to have a lot of Soviet figures with captured German gear and I bought German pioneers to do some pioneer units kitted out with Soviet gear.  There is a description in Island of Fire about one of the pioneer battalions that was down to around 40 guys that went in with a few flamethrower teams and everyone else had sacks of grenades and submachine guns mostly of Soviet manufacture. 

(Aside: if you haven’t read Island of Fire and you are interested at all in Stalingrad, you should get your hands on a copy.  It’s an amazing read).

The most disappointing thing about the set is the lack of variety.  You get 3 guys in the padded winter jacket and 5 in the summer jacket.  Adding different arms and stuff can give them some variety, but really not much.  Oddly enough I’m trying to figure out how to supplement them with metal figs to give a suitable variety of the figures.

At a meta level I’m not a fan of plastics.  They are a fair amount of work to put together and it’s often hard to find a combination of arms and weapons that actually work.  And because of the fine detail the mold seams really stand out, and they are really hard to get rid of.  I’ve tried filing them and just end up with a mess.  If you carve them with a sharp knife you have to be really careful not to gouge into the figure.

So I got the Soviet plastics and the German plastics and expect to build forces with them.  But I really hoped for more with the Soviets.

Fourth, weathering….


I can’t imagine guys crawling around in the rubble, sleeping in slit trenches, and hanging out in cellars aren’t pretty filthy pretty quickly.  So I wanted to experiment with some AFW weathering techniques to make these guys look dirty and dusty.  I painted mud on my ACW guys and that was a good start to think about making troops look worn, but I’m not entirely convinced by it.  So here I tried AK interactive weathering effects.  I’m fairly pleased with the way they have come out though I think I have more work to do.

Basically I painted the figures as normal.  For Soviets in padded jackets I’m using a variety of yellowish brownish greenish colors of the jackets and trousers.  After the figures are painted and sealed, I take the AK interactive weathering effects to them.  These are enamel washes.  I pick out some of the thick bits from them and dab them on the figure, let it sit for 15 minutes, and then come back with a brush that is damp from white spirit and move the effects around on the figure.  I use a mix of Kursk earth, Africa dust, and dust, and occasionally plain Earth.  After that has dried I give it a second treatment with just dust.  After that has dried I put on a few dots of dust with acrylics then seal with a final coat of dull sealer.  I’m fairly pleased with it – it shows up really well on the more green fabrics and on the boots, and is a bit less visible as the fabrics get more brown.  I think I want a little more very light dust on the figures – so far I’ve mostly concentrated on the elbows, sleeves, knees, and bottoms of the coats, as well as the boots.

I also put some GW stuff on the bricks to make it look like there is mortar on them – some astrogranite texture drybrushed with longbeard gray.