With our D-Day Campaign just around the corner, we’re taking a look at this fantastic army of US Engineers from contributor Rob Cook!
US Engineers in Normandy
One of the joys of this hobby is the chance to revisit old projects with a renewed skill set. The first army I finished painting for Bolt Action was a US Ranger platoon, charging across the beaches of Normandy. As fond as I was of them, my painting skills had come on a long way in the last couple of years. Reluctantly I listed the army on eBay (save for the 75mm Sherman tank, which held up really well against my recent vehicle painting efforts), and set about a new US Normandy themed project.
This time I decide to leave the beaches behind, as well as the elite troops, and focus on the unsung heroes of the engineers. I wanted to paint a platoon of heavily supported infantry, fighting entrenched German defenders amidst the rubble of Normandy villages and towns.
The platoon is built around a Lt and assistant, with three eight-man squads. Using the Normandy selector I took two regular squads of infantry, equipped with a BAR and an SMG for the NCO. The third squad were the engineers, equipped with two BAR and a flamethrower for maximum versatility.
It is under strength for a US platoon, but that’s only because the rest of men had brought some additional toys to play with!
I wanted to use as many of the US national rules as possible, so the first port of call was three MMG teams to add a ferocious firebase to the platoon. To add some variety I sourced one of the teams from Artizan and made sure to vary the positions of the men on the bases. Yeah, sniper fire may make short work of them, but being able to lay down that much ranged fire is great fun.
The second was a forward air observer. I’m not a fan of miniatures that aren’t miniature, so I used a Blood Red Skies plane on a 60mm round base as the aeroplane marker. A little bit of thinned black paint created a neat looking flak effect over the plane’s wing, adding a bit of dynamism to the piece.
The Bazooka is as American as apple pie and cropped up all over the place in the European Theatre, so I had to add at least one to the platoon.
Finally, I added a heavy mortar team. The Normandy selector is the only one that lets the US take this beast, so I wasn’t going to pass up the chance. A bespectacled spotter accompanies them.
As much as I loved the Sherman I retained from my old US army, I felt a less obvious choice was needed to provide armour support to the engineers. US tank destroyers are interesting vehicles, both visually and historically. The Warlord Games M10 is a fantastic kit, that is made for being the centrepiece of a US army such as this one.
Accompanying it is an M20 scout car. I love the pairing of these two vehicles on the table. Even if the M20 only came about because I broke the turret whilst trying to assemble the kit as an M8 Greyhound!
Despite being the land of freedom, I find US infantry look pretty uniform in appearance (unlike the many variations of German troops). I picked a colour scheme of green jackets, drab trousers, and ochre kit for contrast.
Variation was achieved at the model building stage, mixing in what I had left of the old US plastic infantry, and some metal bits from the Rangers Lead the Way box. This gave plenty of scope for unique poses, and an impression of lots of extra kit being carried with them.
Basing was kept simple. Splotches of greys, with plenty of grit and rubble. I found this added a great contrast to the men themselves and was surprisingly easy to achieve.
Having spent 9 months collecting and painting, I was finally finished. Their inaugural tournament outing was great fun, even if it only saw one victory out of three games. They did nab an award for best-painted army though, so I feel like the effort I spent on them hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Despite vowing to be finished with my US army, I couldn’t help but order one final model to the collection. An M3 half-track will add some much-needed transport for my engineer squad, allowing that flamethrower to get in range quickly. Oh, and a deuce-and-a-half truck, because I couldn’t decide which was more iconic. Then I’m done. No, really.
Hit the Beaches!
Inspired by Rob’s fantastic army? Grab a US starter box and join the fight!