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Bolt Action: Collecting the USMC

Take a look at our guide on how to begin with a Pacific Theatre US Marine Corps Army...

Bolt Action: Collecting the USMC
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Guadalcanal. Tarawa. Iwo Jima. Okinawa. Just some of the legendary actions the US Marine Corps fought in – actions that have rightfully sent the USMC into legend.


There are few fighting forces that can rival the fearsome reputation of the United States Marine Corps. Indeed they can trace their ancestry back to the Revolutionary War in the 18th Century, serving all over the globe up to the present day.

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During the Second World War, the US Marines spearheaded the American response to Japanese aggression, leading to a ferocious island-hopping campaign. The technologically superior US forces made many amphibious assaults that wore down the Japanese and culminated in crushing American victories albeit with terrible loss of life on both sides.

US Marines in the Pacific Theatre of Operations were eager to get the job done be it with the bayonet, shotgun or their Thompson submachine guns. Their loyalty to their comrades and the Corps stood them in good stead as they faced a fanatical foe where no quarter was given no received.

For those looking to start playing the US Marine Corps in Bolt Action, we’ve put together a little primer…

A little light reading

Before you delve into the Warlord webstore and purchase three of everything – we thought we’d round-up a little contextual info – something to whet your appetite and give a little backstory… Read the article here: History of the US Marine Corps

Basic Training

Armies of US and Empires in Flames

If you’re looking to enlist and take your place among the ranks of the Bolt Action US Marine Corps – your very first purchase (after the Bolt Action Rulebook, of course!) should be the ‘Armies of the United States book – which give you all the information needed to field the military forces of the United States of America, and is your starting point when creating a USMC force!

Your optional second purchase would then be the ‘Empires in Flames‘ supplement – which gives a more in-depth study of the war in the Pacific and Far East. This book is a more specialist publication, which includes a handful more specialist US Marine units such as Attack Dogs and Marine Raiders – as well as a whole host of Marine-specific Theatre Lists to specifically tailor your Army List to reflect the forces of the Marines throughout the Second World War.

Further Reading – Campaign Mariana & Palau Islands

This new campaign supplement for Bolt Action allows players to recreate the historic island-hopping battles between US and Imperial Japanese forces in the Pacific theatre that took place in 1944. Even whilst the Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy, US forces were beginning to sweep across the Pacific in their own Blitzkrieg, fighting embittered and ferocious battles across tiny strips of land against tenacious Japanese defenders.

The battles described are concerned with the campaigns of the Mariana and Palau Islands specifically and a number of battles are described in great detail, including those of Saipan, Guam, Peleliu and Anguar. The fighting during these campaigns was controversial and bloody, rivalling the battle of Stalingrad for sheer inhumanity in some instances. Though there were many other battles within these campaigns, their number makes them impossible to describe them all in full within a single volume. The book gives players enough tools to recreate any other battles themselves, should they wish.

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Semper Fidelis!


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For the ultimate USMC package, pick-up one of our ‘Semper Fidelis’ Starter Army sets – we’ve packed this box with as much plastic and metal goodness as we can! We’ve included a suggested 1,000pt Army List, but you can customise the content to create your own unique starter force.

In addition to seven sprues of USMC (no less than 42 models), you’ll receive two weapons sprues (for details of these read on below), as well as various weapons teams and a transport to get your squads into combat. The box represents a significant saving over buying the items individually.


Initial Enlistments

If you’d rather build your army bit-by-bit, then your first purchase models-wise is an easy one… pick-up a box of our US Marine Corps Plastic Infantry. This box set contains enough components to make 30 – Yes, THIRTY! models…


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…and we’re not just talking about riflemen here – we’ve packed these sprues with as many weapon options and extras as we could – so – without any conversion work, you have the options to field the likes of Officers, Medics, Forward Observers, Infantry Squads, Sniper Teams, Bazooka Teams, and more!

Straight from the box, you have access to the likes of…

– M3 trench knife
– M1A1 Bazooka
– Field Glasses
– Mk II fragmentation hand grenade
– Colt M1911 .45 pistol
– M3 ‘Grease Gun’ SMG
– M1 Carbine
– M1903 Springfield rifle (with and without bayonet)
– M1 Garand rifle (with and without bayonet)
– Thompson sub-machine gun
– M1918 Browning automatic rifle
– Scoped M1903 springfield rifle
– M1897 trench shotgun
– Map Case
– Winchester Shotgun
– USN Corpsman’s bag
– Combat Knife
– Machete
– Entrenching Tool



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…and with a little chop here and a slice there, there’s a near-endless amount of units which you can represent on the tabletop battlefield using our USMC Sprues (which – of course, are available separately as well, in case you need just a few extra reinforcements!) – just take a look at this article, in which we showcase various conversions undertaken using the USMC sprue as a basis…

USMC sprue

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After your initial purchases, it’s time to give them some support in the form of some specialist kit, of course… so head on over to the US Marine Corps section of the Warlord webstore, and take a look at what’s on offer!

Here you’ll find many of the iconic and unmistakable pieces of equipment which allowed the Marines to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds time and again – such as the Water-cooled M1917 Machine Gun…


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Flamethrowers were used extensively by the Marines during their brutal assaults on the heavily dug-in Japanese positions throughout the Pacific. When assaulting tunnels and bunkers, the Marines would initially use grenades to clear enemy positions – following-up with a gout of flame to clear a hole in the lines.


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The M3A1 37mm anti-tank gun was in fact based upon the German Pak36 design – and was largely outdated by the time the Americans joined the war – however, the relatively poor Japanese armour which they faced meant that the 37mm was a common sight amongst the Marine ranks.



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Heavy Support


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When it came to armoured fighting in the Pacific, it all (essentially) boiled-down to two tanks for the US forces – the Sherman and the Stuart – both of which proved more-than-a-match for the Japanese armour which they faced.

These two iconic tanks saw numerous modifications, up-gunning and up-armouring throughout the war – with the likes of the Sherman 105mm, the Zippo, the Stuart Satan, the M8 Scott all seeing action in the Pacific.

When looking at historical photographs of the Pacific conflict, you’ll soon notice that the Marine tanks were more often than not covered in stowage, packs, improvised armour, and all sorts of other weird and wonderful apparatus… here at Warlord, we sell the likes of the Sand Bag armoured Sherman – and Wooden Armoured Shermans (both the 75mm and 76mm)  – and there’s scope for some of the less-common field modifications in, explored in this article. 



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Amphibious Landings

One of the more unusual-looking USMC apparatus was/is the LVT – the ‘Landing Vehicle, Tracked’ – a fully amphibious troop transport designed specifically for beach assaults in the Pacific Theatre.

The most numerous of the LVT series was the LVT-4 ‘Buffalo’ – armed with machine guns and able to transport two fully equipped squads of Marines – it proved invaluable in the island-to-island fighting of the Pacific campaign.

After it’s introduction during the battle of Tarawa, new, armoured versions were developed alongside fire-support variants… There were numerous variants which are ripe targets for conversion opportunity. You can find guidance in this article


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Getting Your Army Table Ready

An army is never really ready for combat until all painted up. Thankfully, we’ve got helpful hints and tips for you. Take a look both at this article by our very own studio painter, Andres, that provides guidance in painting camo patterns – and at the US Painting Guide which is available via the Warlord webstore!

Dan Hewitson
Dan can often be found contemplating the mound of unpainted minis building up under his desk. He has a tendency to roll lots of ones. He also has a tendency to complain about rolling lots of ones.