Thursday, January 18, 2024

World War 2 in 20mm: a nostalgic view (1)

 A couple of photos I posted onto a local club Fb page last week had me thinking about the armies I have built over the years. It seemed reasonable (yes, I'm easily fooled like that) to review some of the armies I still have.. a bit of a walk down memory lane, a dose of nostalgia, if you like, certainly a little self indulgence.

I thought I'd begin pretty much where it all began: my 20mm Russian WW2 army. After a faltering start with some British in 1971, I turned to Russians. It was one of those classic wargames 'weapons creep' things. The rules we used at the time were not exactly balanced, and the players using German armies always got the biggest and best kit, it seemed. The only nationality that seemed to be able to 'foot it' with them was the Russian army. On offer at the time were the Airfix Russians, and the good old T34/76 and T34/85 kit (the double turret thing and the ability to swap them out depending on the year in which the game was set was very useful).

This is truly the nostalgia army, and when I decided to renovate/revamp the 20mm armies to play WW2 Spearhead about 10 years ago, these were the first to receive some TLC.

The infantry box... 

Here are three battalions of infantry in SH terms (each base represents a platoon). Model manufacturers have been obliging over the past 50 years and so I was able to add some infantry support weapons (and a wider range of AFVs).

A command base ..

Black Sea Fleet marines.. Brittania miniatures, I think?

A 76mm infantry support gun stand (remembering that this represents 3-5 guns)

The first of the heavy armour (KV1s), and other support weapons, including Su76s, an SU85, an SU100 and a JSU152 (all Airfix conversions).

I decided I wanted to be able to use heavier amour and systems in a speculative 'cold war gone hot' situation, and also tackle some Korean War scenarios, so a little post war air support (yes I know, the Mig 17 wasn't a ground attack aircraft, but it looks cool). I have three T54/55's sitting in kit form yet to be assembled, for this project. Maybe I should get onto that, if for no other reason than completeness?

In SH games, I never leave home without AA

BA64 armoured car for recon..

The main box of armour

An American M5 Stewart .. lendlease. I can't recall the kit that gave me the running gear, but the hull and turret were scratch built.. one of those great Airfix Mag Chris Ellis projects. I couldn't get the colour saturation right in this photo .. it's actually an overall khaki colour)

A JS1 based on the old Airfix JS3 hull, with a scratchbuilt turret. Not sure how accurate it was/is

A couple of lendlease M3Grants

A scratch built BT7, built in the days before you could buy kits. The road wheels are from a T34 kit, and hull and turret completely scratch built (again, a Chris Ellis Airfix Mag project). I recall that hull front being challenging to make.

One point of these first few posts is that having renovated these 20mm armies, I basically never play Spearhead with 20mm  models. I rarely play Spearhead at all at the. moment, just the way it rolls. There will be plenty to come, of course. But these 20mm armies don't quite work for Spearhead. All troops should be based on 1.25" square baes. The base size is important as it reflects appropriate troop densities on the battlefield. AFV's in 20mm are of course too large, meaning that the models take up to much table space. basically the models don't therefore reflect the appropriate troop densities. Not an impossible obstacle of course, but one to bear in mind.

I'm not hopeful of this 'kit' ever getting onto the table again, but.. you never know.


  1. Great to see, the scratch builds are very good, thanks for posting

  2. Thanks Richard


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