Technicals – High Speed, High Calibre

One of the more interesting systems you’ll see on technicals is the use of anti-aircraft guns. Requiring a bit more engineering work than a simple PKM or a HMG (unless you want to flip your vehicle) these AAA guns are pretty useful to an irregular force seeing as they are able to easily engage a whole host of targets from infantry to light armoured vehicles to helicopters and aircraft. Spectre have three of these weapons in their range and I’ve finally got round to finishing them off.

Pedestal

A common element of all the AAA weapons is the square pedestal mount. When it arrives from Spectre, each of the four legs has a slight cut out so it fits into the slots in the cargo bed. This makes sure that it gets a proper fit when glued into place. However, with me wanting to hot-swap the elements, this locator lug would probably start ripping through the paintwork. So, as with all my other weapons, I decided to mount on plasti-card pieces

I have three pedestals (one for each of the guns) – for two of them I simply cut out the usual “I” shape out of plasti-card so it fits around the wheel arches. For the final pedestal though, I had something else in mind.

Chopped Pedestal

By default, you can fit the pedestals into the cargo bay of the Technical Bravo chassis by either sticking it on top of the cargo bay or by trimming the legs and sliding it into position. However, both these options are pretty permanent. For hot swapping, I had to do something else. The plan was to cut down the pedestal to fit inside the cargo bay while still having a method to lift it out when changing weapons.

Unfortunately, my cutting wasn’t as precise as perhaps it should have been and so made a bit of a mess. Worse, the trimmed legs ended up not fitting correctly as I had worked off the wrong height for the wheel arches. So I had to re-do it; The intact legs would now rest on the wheel arch while a plasticard framework would hold up the other end. Overall it’s a cheap nasty fix but seeing as I’m close to finishing this project I kind of just wanted to get them done.

As you can see the it works pretty well, with most of the bad construction hidden by the cargo bed. It does mean I can’t mount all three weapons on Technical Alphas but it’s unlikely I’d be using all three of the heavy guns without having access to a Technical Bravo chassis.

ZPU-2

The ZPU-2 is a two barreled version of the 14.5mm KPV machine gun I mentioned in one of the earlier posts. The dual mounting upgrades it with proper anti-aircraft sights and large boxes for each gun to feed from. As you can see above, when it first arrives, there are plenty of pieces to put together. The main thing is getting the central section around the gun barrels and on the base and then work up from there.

Once assembled, the painting was pretty simple. I worked up from various metal shades before topping off with the usual Russian green. I painted the figure up while assembled although I can definitely see the advantage of painting him separately.

ZPU-4

If the two barreled version wasn’t nasty enough, the four barreled variant is designed to get as many rounds as possible down range in a short amount of time. With two massive ammo caskets on either side feeding each barrel and firing 4x the fire rate of a single gun, this is a nightmare to go up against in Spectre and other games.

I covered the basics in the first technicals post so I’ll focus on the painted side. Its the same process as the other Russian guns – metal and Russian uniform. Unlike the other guns, this one has a gunner already attached to the main body of the mounting.

ZU-23

The ZPU works by getting lots of rounds on target. The ZU-23 works by getting rounds on target that cause massive damage to whatever they hit. Rather than slinging the 14.5mm round, this dual barreled auto-cannon fires 23mm rounds with a variety of ammo types such as high explosive and armour-piercing. In game, this makes it very effective against groups of infantry and can even damage light armour and APCs. A real danger to most modern forces.

As with the ZPU-4, this was covered in the initial post back in 2017. One point I didn’t mention is that I seem to be missing the AA sight that sits in front of the gunner – luckily with these being for insurgents it’s easy to imagine it was snapped off at some point. Painting up was similar to the other AA guns.

THE END?

The AA guns are another way to help give the Insurgents a bit more firepower and increase the challenge for the more regular forces. A quad HMG or auto-cannon can really wreck a squad’s day, forcing them to actually use cover and smoke to prevent being caught in the open. It also gives the militia something that can take out vehicles with a bit more reliability than poorly trained troops popping up and firing RPGs. Finally, much like the improvised weapons from last week, these are also something that screams “militia” – they look gloriously ragged on the back of the pickups.

And we these finished, I have now painted up at least one of every weapon system offered by Spectre for their technicals. I’d say at this point, this is the final main Project Technical entry. From working away on these posts, I hope I’ve shown off what you can do with the range, from the conversion to add a PKM gunner for the MENA Regulars up to the heavily laden SF technicals and their massive selection of weapon systems. I’ve now got a nice selection of weapons that I can easily jump into most scenarios and pick out which weapons I want to use depending on the situation at hand. It also means that, I think, I can now fill a board with vehicles.

The real question is what modelling project to work on next. If only there was another range of modular vehicles coming soon to form a project I could really sink my teeth into…

Technicals – Bravo Equipment

Ah, time to go back to old faithful. It’s safe to say that writing about pickups with guns has been pretty successful so far. This time, I’m taking a look at three new pieces of gear designed for the more modern of the technical models offered by Spectre, Technical Bravo. The Bravo has a much smaller cargo bed than the Alpha which can make mounting certain weapons (like the rocket pod) very hard. With some careful planning though, you can use this disadvantage to make some really cool weapon setups. Here are three that work best on the Bravo chassis, all purchased from Spectre Miniatures.


ZPU-1

The ZPU is a 14.5mm HMG usually used for AA purposes. Spectre sell three variants using this gun, from the quad version down to this single gun.

When it arrives, it comes 4 pieces; the gun, tripod, gunner and seats. The gunner figure actually has a seat built in making it easier to assemble. If you don’t mount the seat, the gun can freely turn on the central pivot.

Assembly was simple but took a little bit longer than expected. A bit of force was needed to line up all the pieces so the gunner had his feet on the footbars. When building the hot-swap base, I had to add some extra height – this was so the gun would clear the rear gate on all vehicles when it was closed, letting me use it on all the vehicles and not just the three that have lowered gates.

And there we are done. Obviously this gun is only going to cover the rear arc, but it might end up being pretty handy covering the rear of a convoy or setting up for a hit and run ambush. HMGs are pretty handy in every game for both infantry and vehicles and the 14.5mm ZPU can be really nasty.


SPG-9

A recoiless rifle designed for killing armoured vehicles, the SPG-9 is common sight around the world. From skiffs off Somalia, to fighting positions in the Ukraine to the back of technicals almost everywhere, these weapons are a step up from the RPG. Although not quite as powerful as the M40, it’s still no push over.

When it arrives from Spectre, the SPG-9 comes in two pieces – the launch tube and the low profile tripod. This setup is great for a stationary support weapon (and is perfect for some of their crew figures like Echo and Delta) but limits it’s use on vehicles. So I decided to use some spare bits (the stand from one of the M2 .50cals I used on my Empress humvees) and built a slightly higher mount.

Luckily the bottom pin on the SPG 9 fits perfectly into the top of the stand. After gluing, I added some green stuff to add some support. However, to prevent it breaking, I also used a Crew Alpha figure to help support it. I also added a Crew Echo figure (seeing as I hadn’t used one in my collection so far) to help balance the weight and prevent it toppling over during gameplay. You can also see here that I originally planned this as a full-size weapon system. However, I soon realised I could clip the base in half and tweak the wings to turn it into one that would fit on both types of vehicle.

Here it is mounted up and ready to go. This weapon system actually fits in different directions depending on the vehicle – on Bravo it faces forward but, due to the height of the mount it only faces backwards when used on Alpha (meaning that the crew cabin would get wiped out if fired in this setup). No matter how it’s setup, it’s going to be a cool way to give the insurgents some AT firepower without wheeling in the Heavy Ammunition in the form of the M40 and TOW.


MENA Regulars PKM

The final item has already been teased in the MENA Regulars impression. Designed to give the Bazistan Army some backup before their Humvees arrive, a pickup mounted PKM should give some good covering firing and give an opportunity for some simple conversion work.

When I built my SF weapons, I used the high mounts for all the weapons leaving me with a pile of smaller but structurally stable looking weapon mounting positions. By combining this with the PKM gunner, a simple vehicle mounted system could be made. There was only one problem – the PKM figure is really leaning into the gun. So to make sure it actually fitted on the base and attached to the mount in front of the box mag, the gunner had to on a slant. Additionally, I had to put the pintle as far forward as possible. Without some tweaks it still didn’t fit correctly. In the end, I trimmed flat the front side. This means on Technical Bravo it looks like pintle is partially bolted into the back of the cab but can be a bit strange on Alpha.

Once assembled, it was looking good. Unfortunately, putting the crewman on the slant shifted the centre of weight making it likely to fall off the back when moved. To correct this, I added one of the boxes from the stowage pack and painted it green, ready to stow all the loose belts of 7.62x54mmR for the gunner to grab.

Finally here is the end product. The crewman and weapon are painted up in the same style as the rest of my MENA Regulars while the mounting pole was the usual metallic paint plus some roughly applied green paint. Overall I’m really happy with how this guy turned out – it’s going to be great putting him on a normal technical and rolling alongside the SF Technicals or Humvees in convoy.


Conclusion

That’s three more weapons for me to pick from when assembling a group of technicals. The fact they work great on the both technical models really opens up the types of forces I can make, expanding the options available (which is kind of the point of the whole project). As with all Spectre technical bits, there is a really nice level of detail on all the parts and it was great fun assembling, converting and painting them up. Keep your eyes open for when I wheel them out of the armoury.

And speaking of armoury, here is how the options currently stand. From the Insurgent heavy weapons to the SF options to the piles of kit, I’m really happy with how the whole hot-swappable system has been working. I’m actually looking at what else I can add to the technicals using this setup for other purposes, like water tanks or covered cargo bays. I might even add a few more weapon systems in there.

Keep your eyes on the site for another Technical Project article coming soon and focusing on the last weapon systems I currently need to paint – the AA guns!

Technicals – Improvised Weapon Systems

While writing Friday’s post I realised, except for a brief mention, I haven’t actually talked about some of the wierder weapons available from Spectre and how I had assembled them ready for hot-swapping into the technicals. Seeing as they don’t fit into either of the themes of the next two posts, and as a midweek treat, here is a quick post covering how the insurgents now have a bit of long range firepower thanks to the rocket pod and the BMP turret systems.


We’ll start with the rocket pod. As seen in a few conflict zones around the world, irregular forces struggle  to maintain attack helicopters in a civil war situation due to lack of pilots and supply networks. Instead of sitting around doing nothing, many groups re-purpose the under wing rocket pods – flipped upside down, mounted to a frame and put into service as bootleg MRLS system.

The rocket pod from Spectre comes in two pieces – the rocket pod itself and a support frame. This frame is designed to clip into the rack behind the cab on the technicals, making for a simple and easy installation if you don’t mind it being a permanent fixture.

To make it hotswappable, I had to make sure it didn’t require a connection to the bar behind the cab to stand up right. The pod could still rest on it but the main support had to be on the hotswappable part. In Version 1, I clipped off the front of the Spectre supplied frame to make it easy to attach the rocket pod and (because I was lazy) I simply stuck a piece of plasticard to the frame to hold it upright. Although it worked, it really didn’t look very good. So I went back to the cutting board.

Version 2 of the mounting was to tear off the original single piece mount (you can still see the gluing point on the bottom of the base) and redo it with two pieces placed just underneath the pod to give it support. This looks a lot sturdier while still looking like something someone threw together in a garage. The paint job was then applied – really simple job of Russian Green uniform and grey followed up by a Agrax wash.

Honestly, this is a weird piece of kit. It does scream “irregular forces” like almost no other (except maybe the BMP turret). I’m also not sure about how often I’ll be using it in a direct fire role, instead I can see it being used mostly as an objective or scenery as we saw in the first game using it.


Speaking of the BMP turret, I think I need to look at it in a bit more detail. In the original impression article, I really only covered what it was like when it arrived including the basics on how it goes together. I haven’t shown off the rest of the work I have done on it to get it ready for the table.

First up, a problem I encountered. Using the frame as intended (resting on the rear wheel arches) meant that the turret did not fit on top of the gunner preventing it from working properly. Even removing the hotswap base portion didn’t give enough extra space. So in order to get this ready for wargaming, I was going to have to do some tweaks.

My solution? Build a frame work as part of the base to raise the metalwork up slightly, giving plenty of clearance between the top of the gunners head and the turret. Being in a rush, I threw this together with a bit of give so I could work out the correct height and then come back to fix it. As you might spot, I didn’t go back and fix it.

And here is in its full painted (and heavily washed) glory today. The turret is painted the same colour as my other Bazistan vehicles to make it look like it’s been stripped off a regime vehicle. I actually ended up painting the gunner in situ so he’s colour scheme is a little simplistic compared to some of the other technical crews.

There is a certain amount of love amongst the local club when this vehicle appears on the board and it’s been christened “Tiny Tank”. As you might guess, it inevitably end ups on fire or blown up by an actual tank. On the other hand, the recoiless rifle in the turret can be pretty handy to pump out explosive rounds, either against lightly armoured vehicles (like Humvees or other technicals) or infantry dug in to cover. I have in the past used it with some extra armour to represent the turret

I am tempted to go back and tweak the framework to reduce the height slightly and make it the gunner isn’t exposed from the front. I’m also looking at adding some side armour to metalwork in order to project the gunner from side shots, as well as adding somewhere to stick militia slogans onto.


Overall both these weapons are a neat addition to any insurgent force. You get add a bit more firepower, able to level the playing field against better trained forces. You also get some kit that is exclusively suitable for an insurgent force, really helping it to look like a group of fighters in desperate times. After reading the Osprey book on Technicals, I’m already looking at some other slightly odd weapon setups to extend the rag-tag look.

Come back on Friday to see some more Technical weapons.

Project: B-Town – Part 1: More Impressions and Project Begins

It’s time for a new project! With the completion of Operation Dragon’s Hoard, my scenery projects have run dry (and less full of downed planes and dust). However, that doesn’t mean my terrain collection is all good to go. Since I started wargaming, I’ve slowly been collecting more and more MDF, all ready for a day when I run a full size game set in a city (as planned for a future part of the CGS series).

As you can see by my picture of shame taken in March, there is a lot of MDF to paint. And what’s worse, it’s all assembled (due to me mainly wanting to write about it) so painting is going to be interesting. To help with that, I’m organising it into a new project. Nicknamed “B-Town” the aim here is to assemble, modify and paint all my MDF to make it suitable for a modern day urban area somewhere in Bazistan/Aden. The target is to use this process to learn modification techniques to turn simple MDF into more detailed structures, learn painting techniques to get the terrain painted quickly and effectively and work on assembling the required scatter terrain to really make the scene look more realistic and interesting to play over.

This project is going to take a while and I’m sure I’m going to find ways to keep adding to it but for now lets start by taking a look at a few new purchases.


In my initial look at the Sarissa’s North Africa/Colonial Range, I focused on the big boys – multi-storey and street filling structures that are specific to range. However, there were also a few smaller buildings that Sarissa offer that I hadn’t picked up in the initial order. After having built the others I realised that maybe I should pick some up to use as prototypes for painting – after all, I’d rather ruin at £10 building than one of the larger ones.

As before, both kits arrived in the usual Sarissa packaging. It was interesting to see that the small building was only on A5 MDF rather than the cut used for all the others. Quality was high as ever and assembly matched pretty closely to the kits covered in part 1.


Small House

The first building in this set is the smallest building in the range. It’s also super simple – two doors, five windows and a lift on/off roof.

The rear view shows more of the access points as well as some of the laser cut details

With the roof removed, you can see the interior. It’s a simple single room with two entrance ways. I had an issue where one of the greyboard panels where it seemed reversed but managed to fix it by trimming out the


House – Two Storey

Building 2 occupies a similar footprint but extends it with another floor, including a balcony.

As you can see from the rear there is an additional door onto the ground floor. It’s interesting to see that there are no side windows on the ground floor, making it easy to outflank but limiting entry.

Like other buildings in the range, the interior are empty cells. An interesting note is that due to the same plug system used for the room, the ground floor could be replaced with the one storey house or the two storey could be converted into a single – with two doorways, it’s perfect for a security office in a compound.


Picking up these two buildings, really started to let me see some of the possibilities you can get with this range. Although the large buildings are very impressive, multiple small ones will help to quickly make any neighbourhood large, especially as they could be used in a modular fashion to make a wide variety of different buildings. I’m not going to rush to pick up more but it’s something to think about for the future.


Of course, I can’t leave you with just a simple impressions piece. In between my time at work, I managed to get some paint onto buildings. As planned, I’m starting with the smallest Colonial building to work out my method.

Due to the fact I’m working with buildings that are already assembled in this project, I can’t start from a sensible place like base-coating on the sprue. Instead, I’m having to mask areas I’m not wanting to cover in textured spray, such as doors and windows.

So here is my process for the first building. It’s not 100% finished – I’m still debating adding window glass on the inside.

  1. Assemble
  2. Mask off windows and doors
  3. Textured spray with roof on
  4. Remove masking pieces and roof
  5. Spray Black Undercoat
  6. Spray Grey Undercoat
  7. Spray White
  8. Dusting of Tan spray on the lower edges
  9. Paint doors with a dilute blue to bring out the lasercut detail
  10. Nuln Oil wash for vertical surface, Agrax Earthshade for the flat surfaces
  11. Roughly paint/drybrush white
  12. Apply scrunched poster, hit with a Nuln oil wash

For a first attempt I’m reasonably happy. There are a couple of things I’m going to tweak. First of all, I don’t think I need to spray black AND grey. The grey is pretty dark and it covers the main role of the black (covering up the black and white of the textured spray/giving the same “dark up” feel that my figures have). The poster is something else – I think I over handled it causing it to tear and smudge. A layer of wash was needed to stop is standing out too much but I used a dirty brush. Next time, clean between uses.

The big thing is I’m going to take a bit more time on future spraying. I painted up these relatively quickly (probably 1.5 evenings) which meant I didn’t leave the spray paint long enough to settle. This lead to some odd textures and cracking you can see if you look closely. If anyone asks, it’s just the plaster cracking. Another tweak will be to change the final finish colour – looking at buildings in Yemen (the geographical area of Bazistan) and there is a nice mixture of colours from white to shades of brown. Due to the fact the buildings share many of the same features, a colour tweak will make the city look a bit more varied.


What’s next?

The next part of the project is going to work on the other colonial buildings so I can have a core set of buildings painted up. However, I need to look into some detailing parts to help them look more modern such as air conditioning units, metal bars around the windows, wiring and aerials. I already have a few but I want to expand my options and see what is out there. Having now started this project, I’m really looking forward to getting a board covered in painted up buildings.

Impressions: Osprey New Vanguard Technical

The historical wargaming hobby has many aspects to it for people to enjoy. One of the aspects I particularly like is learning the period as it’s a great way to learn tactics, be inspired for scenarios and find references for paint schemes. When looking for information, one of my favourite places to start is Osprey Publishing’s various ranges. Well written and formatted and with great artwork to illustrate the subject, these books help to provide a great overview. So when they showed off their new releases for April 2018, I noticed one book in there I just had to pre-order.

Written by Leigh Neville, who has also done several books for Osprey (including the RAID book on Takur Ghar and the hardback Special Forces in the War on Terror book that lives in my reference pile), the latest book covers a subject that has been featured quite heavily on here – Technicals! So for the latest part of Project Technical, we’re going to take a look at some reference material for building your own fleet of vehicles.

The book is the usual form factor for Osprey. Softback, 48 pages and colour throughout, the formatting makes the book an easy read. It’s also packed full of pictures (at least one on each page on average) and includes 13 pieces of Peter Denis’s incredible artwork. There are a whole host of base chassis shown ranging from the classic pickups to Land Rovers and trucks.

The book kicks off with a basic introduction to the concept of the technical as well as looking into the very early roots of the idea. A small section then looks at the most common weapon systems found in use with the technical. After that, it runs through various key conflicts the technical has been involved in starting with Beirut and The Great Toyota War in Africa, passing through Somalia (including an interesting bit of information on an alternative origin of the name “Technical”) and the Balkans before looking at their use in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. It’s a pretty comprehensive look at the history, with a focus on showing the various unique vehicles from each theatre. This is a great inspiration for how best to make your technicals stand out.

Finally the last section jumps the fence and looks at the use of technicals by Special Operations forces. This section covers the whole history of them, such as the use of Land Cruisers in Gulf War and some details on Russian technicals. There is a lot of information I here I hadn’t read before, as well as plenty of photos of pickups with the Special Operations modifications I have on my own Spectre vehicles.

Do I recommend the book? Wholeheartedly, yes. I think it’s a great little reference, covering all aspects of the topic with a great level of detail without bogging down trying to tell you them. The pictorial element helps to bring the information to life, showing off the weird and wonderfully variety of things people have made.

The only problem with the book? It would have been nice to have last year when I started building mine own collection of these vehicles!

If you want to pick up your own copy, it’s available in PDF, ePub and physical copy over on the Osprey Publishing website. You can also get it via Amazon – you’ll find two affiliate links below (pointing to the UK and US stores)

Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles – Building the SF Technicals

When the full details for the SF upgrades to the technicals were announced, I could see that assembling these vehicles ready to support my operators on the field was going to be a fun project. Thanks to sheer variety of stowage and other bits to upgrade them with, building my Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles needed some planning and careful part purchasing. Thanks also to my obsession with interoperability and hot swapping, I also had to work out the best way to mount all the various bits of equipment I wanted to use. This post is going to take a look at my final products packed full of pictures to show them off.

For impressions of the various parts, you can take a look at my multiple impressions pieces covering both the core sets and the new Special Forces upgrades.


Vehicles

With the possibility of two squads needing transport, I decided to pick up four technicals and set them up for SF use. Looking at the parts available, and after adding stowage, each has been assigned a role. As you may notice, the basic vehicles don’t carry cargo for details you can see later.

All vehicles mount the snorkel and bullbar upgrades as well as the upgraded tyres. Additionally, they all have a similar style of paint scheme – block colour undercoat with stripes of tan. The idea behind this was that these vehicles have been modified in theatre, with the main paint scheme having been fresh from the dealership and then hastily painted over to break up the colour. As for painting it, it’s simple and effective to paint.

SF01 – “King”

The first technical finished, and having already seen action in Bazistan, this vehicle is designed to be the command vehicle for the group. Using Technical Bravo as it’s base, SF-01 also mounts the Upgrade Bravo set with the rails and rear mounted fuel tank. As mentioned in the main impressions, this pack isn’t designed for this vehicle but it does seem to work quite well. The vehicle also mounts the Satcom aerial, a spare tyre and rucksack on the rear. To help protect the front, smoke dischargers are mounted in the bull bars.

SF02 – “Queen”

SF02 has another nickname – “Mule”. Using the Technical Alpha as the base, this vehicle is designed as the logistics hub for the group. For this reason, it mounts everything. The racks and fuel tank help to bulk it out but it also has multiple jerry cans, rucksacks and a spare wheel hanging off bits. On top of the cab, the storage rack is designed to be ready for the offensive. A LAW, an AT4 and a pelican gun case help to show off the idea that this is where all the heavy weapons are stored.

SF03 – “Jack”

“Jack” is designed to be a multi-role vehicle. It isn’t the most well equipped vehicle but it provides a good enough platform for whatever is needed. The only upgrade is the storage rack that has multiple different items ready for support. Two LAWs, a rucksack, ammo box, small pelican case and a ration box means this guy is ready for patrol.

SF04 – “Ace”

SF04 is the high-speed off-road part of the patrol. The only additional bit of kit onboard is the multiple smoke grenade launchers. This guy will go everywhere and then get back out of there at a rapid pace. The real reason for no stowage? I’m leaving the roof space free in case a roof rack becomes available. Also there might be more stowage packs filled with new goodies.

Cargo Basing

When buying the technicals, a big thing was to make sure they were modular as far as possible. The main reason for this is that it doesn’t limit me to a specific combination of vehicle + weapon system and so that all the vehicles can be use for scenery without having to explain why the gun crew are not on the map.

Previously, when building the technicals for the militia, I had used several long pieces and various combinations of t-shapes made out of plasticard. However, this lead to some dodgy cutting and a few places where the guns were out of balance and liable to tipping over. This time, I standardised on the I shape throughout. Full size weapon use the entire I, half-size use 3/4s of the I with the remainder having stowage added to it. Mounting the rear weapons on both types of vehicles rely on a few rough cuts to tweak them to fit. This will need to be done by eye as I don’t have exact measurements for it.

A few people asked about a template for this. The reason I haven’t got one is that this, like many things I do, is done by the seat of my pants. Each of the shapes ended up being slightly different . The dimensions are approximately 3.1cm x 4.4cm. To make the I shape, I cut in 0.8cm slots at 1.1cm and 2.9cm. However I recommend you use these as guidelines rather than gospel. Measure carefully and prepare to trim.

The thicker plasticard works wonders but there is one more improvement I’d make. If I had a dremel, I would cut out a slot for rare earth magnets and utilise them for more support. I’d also measure properly,

Guns

The key part of the NSVs and their tabletop use is going to be their heavy weapons. Wanting the greatest selection, I picked up one of each and got to work. As I say in the last impressions piece, I was a little disappointed to see only one crew figure but paint jobs helped to fix that. I also think I maybe shouldn’t have mounted all the weapon on the taller mounts – it looks good when trying to get over the rack but it did lead to some odd positions on the Auto-Grenade Launcher and a really tall stand for the minigun. However, they do look really cool. In addition, the gun mounts also had a few stowage items to make them look used.

Heavy Machine Gun

The classic M2 is back. Having proven it’s worth in its first outing in Bazistan, I’m really happy with this setup. One thing of note, the gunner was painted at speed and so he ended up wearing a version of my ACU camo.

Dual GPMGs

The most “more dakka” of the guns, I really enjoyed assembling this guy. I look forward to him speeding around the board hammering away.

Auto Grenade Launcher

So this was the most troublesome to assembled. Due to the large height of the gun assembly and it’s two-part nature, I ended up with some support issue. To solve this, I had to glue the gunners face to the sight. It just about works but if I was to make it again I’d use the lower height stand and tilt the AGL more.

Minigun

For the minigun, I decided to do something different. I decided to do some tweaks so I could use this setup for a gun truck alongside my Tier 1 Operator models. This required some Green stuff work on the gunner – trimming his helmet off, reforming the shape, adding a head strap for the headphones and then adding a bill on it. I ended up building the shape with a cutout in it to allow me to add the bill. Unfortunately, I only noticed the presence of my finger print on a bit of the putty once I started painting it.

As for the weapon itself, I would again swap out the tall mount for the lower one. It looks great on the technicals with the side panels on but it’s a bit spindly for all other vehicles. However, I am happy with my beginners attempt at conversion.

As you can see, it looks pretty good amongst the contractors. Hopefully it will give them a bit of a firepower boost when up against hordes of militia.

 

Now, that was all the guns that are available from the store. However, I had a few other pieces lying around which meant I could setup another weapon ready for use. I present, the GPMG.

GPMG

By pulling the spare mount from a (now Humvee mounted) minigun and a spare M240 from the razor kit, I was able to get a lighter weapon together. The only major issue was the crewman. Looking through the Task Force Operators range, I eventually found the cheapest option – the single figure using the pirate gun. Combining these two together set up a great tactical combination and a unique weapon for my operators.

Cargo

In addition to the guns, the vehicles need a little extra stowage. This cargo is also great for mounting as an objective. The idea was also to make some that didn’t scream “SF OPERATORS HERE” so they can be used by the insurgents as well.

Full Size

There are two full size cargos. These only fit into Technical Alpha.

  1. A fuel setup with multiple barrels, two storage boxes and a row of jerry cans.
  2. A comprehensive cargo load with a bit of everything. Cargo boxes, ammo cases, cooler box, rugged laptop, rucksack and as a just in case, a M72.

Half Size

There are six half-size cargos. These fit into both vehicles, filling the bay on Bravo and adding more detail to Alpha. These are perfect for mounting alongside a weapon system in Alpha, helping to fill in the empty gap

  1. Generic ammo box and fuel tank.
  2. The car pack is designed to be relatively civilian, with a fuel can, spare wheel and two sand boards.
  3. Generic 2 – Spare wheel, storage boxes, ammo box, pelican box and a rugged laptop resting vertically.
  4. Generic 3 – designed for sitting at the front of Alpha, this one has an ammo box resting on top of where the wheel arch would be. In addition there is a good selection of kit such as a spare wheel, M72, rucksack and jerry can.
  5. Rocket pack – large container (probably full of rockets), ammo box (probably full of warheads) and an AT4 ready to rock
  6. Comms pack – large container, rucksack and three items to form a communication setup (aerial, small pelican case and a laptop)

Final Thoughts

The NSVs help to bring some new to the SF side. A bit more powerful than the Razors yet still ready to race around at full speed to deploy at the right location, the technicals are also a great way to personalise your force. I really recommend doing a little planning before buying in, picking out the right packs of stowage and guns.

The next step? Getting all of these vehicles into a game.

Impressions: Spectre SF Technicals – Initial Thoughts

Earlier this year, I wrote a load of stuff covering Spectre’s first vehicle release for the technical. In it, I commented about miniguns which was a stretch goal from the Kickstarter that was sadly missed, as well as the illusive “Tactical Technical”. Well, it looks like it was merely being sneaky and it is now out as part of this latest release. And oh boy, is there a lot of cool stuff on this release.

Sadly, due to my desire to get the vehicles in a state where I can hot swap the various weapon systems and cargo, I don’t yet have them painted. However I can cover the initial impressions on every part of this release, detailing any issues I may have found during the initial build process and looking at what I like and don’t like. You’ll just have to wait to see the final product.

The Trucks

The vehicles that form the base for the SF Technicals range are the exact same ones released earlier in the year. Alpha provides a larger truck bed while Bravo is a more modern style but has a smaller cargo capacity. When building the kits for the SF vehicles, I assembled the two part chassis and then added the rack behind each cab. The remaining parts were left off to make assembling the upgrades much easier.

A few things have changed with the vehicles since the original release, presumably to ease production and save on material. Technical Bravo is comprised of much less material, with the cab now mostly empty space. The other thing I noticed was that some of the resin was slightly misaligned. This was quickly solved by a quick bath in hot water and some gentle bending.

The Upgrade Packs

The first part to look at when building your new technicals are the upgrade packs. These additions build off the pieces in the main kits and help to make them look more suited for off-road activities or military action.

Alpha

Alpha is perhaps the simplest of the upgrade packs. It’s a pack of wheels, sporting improved tyres. These are a good way of showing off upgrades (such as run flats) or extending the stowage in a vehicle by covering it in spares. These wheels replace the ones from the vehicle packs and come with enough to fully outfit one vehicle and have two left over to mount as stowage or for a gunner to stand on. They are a little bigger than the default wheels so the finished vehicle will be slightly taller than normal.

Bravo

Bravo is designed to make your vehicles really standout from the civilian pickups while also letting you really load it up with stowage. The pack is actually two sets of upgrades in one. The first is a long-range fuel tank. This is assembled around the rear door to the cargo bed. After placing the tank, a cage comprising of three parts is placed around it. The main thing when building it is to make sure the curved edges of the two side pieces clip onto the round sections of the back of the cage (it will make more sense when you are building them). Then simply glue the construction on the back of the cargo bed. If you don’t want the giant tank of flammable liquid behind your operators, the cage could be assembled to hold other stowage such as jerry cans or hard containers.

The other part of the upgrade are the racks that mount on the side of the cargo bed. These create the mounting points for all sorts of gear, from spare tires to sand guards. As well as hosting these bits of gear, the rails could also be used to support plasticard armoured panels if you feel the need to up the protection on your vehicle. I’d recommend putting the vertical part of the mounting area on the inside of the cargo bed (as you can see below) as it looks a little better

The rails mount on both types of chassis but are really designed for the Alpha technical. However, it does also work on the Bravo vehicle as you can see below. In this case, the side rails ended up connecting to the top of the cage around the fuel tank. This style does look similar to some troop carrying pickups you might see in places such as Mexico.

Charlie & Delta

These two packs perform the same role – adding bullbars and a snorkel to both types of the base chassis. These upgrades really add to the off-road style on the vehicles, turning them from a street truck to something you would expect to see bounding through the desert.

Charlie is for the Alpha technical. The pack includes a new bumper that features the bullbars, a snorkel and a roof top storage rack. The bumper fits on really well and I think looks awesome. The snorkel has a notch in the side to help with alignment when placing it, something that is appreciated during construction. However, my favourite feature is the roof rack. It has a slight ramp on the mounting block so it sits flat on the sloped roof and it looks rad. Combined with the stowage pack, you can fill it with all sorts of hard cases, anti-tank weapons and gear (all the goodies a team of operators might need) while leaving most of the cargo bed free for weapon mountings.

Delta is for the Bravo vehicle and contains a replacement lower front and the snorkel. It would have been cool if it came with a roof mounted storage rack to match the other pack of this type but it’s not a deal breaker. Again, the snorkel has a nice notch to help with placement and the resin front end only needed very minor cleanup.

Weapons

Of course, a major part of the latest release is giving you some SF suitable weapons for your new rides to roll around with. You could choose to mount the standard weapons (perhaps if your team is less well equipped) but honestly, there is a minigun option literally right there.

Crew

I hate taking photos of unpainted figures. An ink wash helps!

In every release from any wargames manufacturer there is a slight disappointment and I think this time, the crew selection is the slight let down. When the first technicals came out there was a nice selection of generic crew standing next to the various weapons. For the HMG alone there were two options seemingly designed for it (one shooting and one leaning on the weapon spotting). For the SF release there is only one option – Crew Hotel, an operator in combat gear in the aiming pose. It’s a good basic option but having a second choice (perhaps a character pointing out a potential target or gesturing at some civilian trying to overtake) would be a useful. Even a simple head swap would have been nice. At the same time though, this is probably the most commonly used pose so in the end for many people it won’t matter.

One thing to note is that you will need to carefully bend the arms to line them up to the trigger locations. It requires just a little more force than you would think it would need but the metal Spectre uses is very good at being slightly manhandled.

Common Elements

The new guns listed below share a common feature – the mount. Unlike the pole on the original M2, the new guns use a much more sturdy looking mount. It comes in two heights; the tall one clears the top of cab and allows for a forward fire arc while the other is better for rear or side firing guns. The top of each pole is split in half and matches up to the bottom of each of the weapon assemblies. This requires some patient holding while waiting the glue to dry but seems to work quite well.

No matter what height you choose, both mounts will require that a rear gunner stands on something in order to reach the spade grips. Having seen one of the Spectre models at Cardiff, it seems that a spare tyre is a good option.

M2 .50cal SF

Yep, you can’t release a technical without a 50cal. This one however is rather special. Wrapping the barrel is rail system onto which two attachments have been mounted. On top of the gun is an Eotech style holographic sight (or red dot in Spectre Operations) while underneath is the giant Hellfire torch capable of illuminating targets much further than other light systems. Combined together, these provide a useful setup to pair with the HMG’s lethality and range on the tabletop, letting you engage targets accurately no matter what time of day it is.

Without a doubt this was the simplest weapon to assemble out of the group. The gun is one piece so all it required was gluing it to the mount and it was good to go.

Mk47 AGL

The only thing better than a 40mm grenade launcher is an automatic one complete with rangefinder. An upgrade over the old MK19, the MK47 AGL is the hottest new thing in automatic grenade launchers. With basic stats its great for suppressing large groups of unarmored enemies but the addition of an aiming system (run as either a scope, red dot, thermal sight or some combination of them) really helps to make it a precision area weapon. If you are feeling especially high-tech, the MK47 is capable of programming MK285 rounds to airburst over a target. So if you want to make an opponent cry, mention you want to use those rounds and start dropping grenades every turn that ignore cover saves thanks to the airburst rules.

The gun is made up of three parts – the barrel and main sight piece, the side mounted sight (including rails for other sights) and the stand/ammo box assembly. Glueing these three together required a few tweaks to get them lined up. By default, the launcher is slightly tilted upwards ready to lob rounds at the enemy downrange.

Dual M240

Why have only one medium machine gun when you can bolt two together, stick a sight on one and then add a chute for spent shell casings? Like the SAS jeeps from WW2, the simplest way to increase firepower on a mount is just to double what you have. The MMG is a good gun to begin with thanks to Sustained Fire and a 3+ lethality but turning it into a dual weapon means double the shots. Add to that a scope/red dot and you’ve got a great weapon for engaging infantry.

Building the gun was the most fiddly of them all, consisting of five parts. The two ammo boxes clip on the outer edges while the guns themselves fit into the slots in the lower mount. This mount then attaches to the tower using the usual method. As always, do a dry fitting run before getting the super glue out.

Now if only there was another way to get a ton of shots on targets…

M134 Minigun

Okay I’ll admit, this is something I’ve wanted since the kickstarter. Miniguns in all their forms are super cool and having one on the wargames table is just too tempting. Assembly is relatively simple despite the multiple parts. The gun sits in an arm that attaches to the column. As well as this, there is an optional red dot to mount on the rail on the top of the gun itself and two parts to form the ammo supply. The belt is the usual strip of metal that can be freely trimmed and twisted to line up with the large ammo box.

As an aside, one of my favourite things about the separate weapons that Spectre produces is the fact I can use them elsewhere. I have two Empress Humvee where I have replaced the gun mount with a magnet. Combined with Spectre’s stock of guns, this means I can swap out the standard M2 HMG for a DsHK (for when the Bazistan Army gets to use them) or, as you can see, for a Minigun. This versatility means you don’t have to buy 101 different vehicles for all the combination of weapons you might want, instead only needing as you might want to be on the tabletop. One thing with the Minigun, I had to trim some areas so it would fit properly on the magnet and trying to fit the ammo box in the turret is going to be hard.

In game, the minigun is a nightmare to go up against, no matter what the ruleset. Spectre Operations gives it 6 shots a turn that let you roll through a squad and easily put on the suppression. 3+ lethality and a decent range interval finish off a good package, espeically if you add a red dot.

Stowage

This release didn’t include any new stowage options (other than the new tires). However, last month we got Stowage Alfa which is packed full of stuff to cover your vehicle in. You could use the Razor stowage packs but they are not really designed for this style of vehicle.

If you want more details on Stowage Alfa, you can find my impressions here.

Final Thoughts

I ended my post on the initial Spectre Technical release by saying “The Spectre technicals are a great start to a new range. Apart from the minor issues, all the models are beautiful to behold and will be fantastic additions to anyone’s collection.”. It’s safe to say, the same idea carries on here.

With the second major release there are now a collection of parts that let you take that initial release and direct it to be more suitable for a different use. Although designed for Special Forces teams, the upgrades mean the vehicles can now be used for other groups (such as well-trained OPFOR, contractors or cartel members wanting a cool off-road vehicle) by simply varying many upgrades and how much stowage you add. There are a few tweaks I would make (more crew options, stowage racks for Technical Bravo) but these can be easily be added in future releases. For now though, all the new bits open up a world of exciting possibilities. I can’t wait to see the sheer variety of vehicles people come up with.


So now I’ve done the initial thoughts, it’s time for me to do the fun stuff and start finishing them. There will be a whole post on the process of getting the group of vehicles finished in the next few weeks. The main delay is setting up the series of plasticard bases that will let me swap guns and cargo sections between vehicle while hopefully looking better than the first version used for the militia. In addition, the militia equipment is being rebased and repainted after they got banged up during the trip to Cardiff. So keep your eye on the blog for more stuff on Spectre Miniatures releases and all things dedicated to ultramodern wargaming.

Tactics: Razors on the Battlefield

Photo from Spectre Miniatures

So now you’ve got your Razor, built it up to how you want and found the rules for your system of choice, how should you actually use them on the tabletop? I’m going to primarily look at their use in Spectre Operations, in particular, analysing the rules that the team at Spectre have released. However, many of the concepts are applicable across multiple games.

Fast Attack

The first thing about the Razor is it’s really, REALLY fast – a move value of 16″ means it’s almost the fastest thing on the board (just in behind the motorbike). In addition, it’s also All Terrain so rough ground barely slows it down. It also has the rule Agile, making it able to turn on a dime; great for getting out of harm’s way in cramped and crowded streets. Finally on the positives, the rule Muffled Engine let’s the Razor get even closer before the alarm is raised, a great addition for stealth games.

The downside is that it has no armour with one of the lowest  DC values in the game. This isn’t an AFV, it’s a taxi designed to get you from A to B quickly and over rough terrain.

So as a high-speed, all terrain vehicle it can be great when you need to make a quick getaway or extract a VIP from the hot zone. Just remember you can only board a stationary vehicle and it can’t move in the same turn passengers embark. On the plus side, it’s open-topped nature means the rear passengers can easily put down fire as you race away.

Fire Support

Photo from Spectre Miniatures

By default, the Razor’s only weapon is the commander’s machine gun. This arm mounted weapon can be a compact LMG up to a 7.62 firing minigun (the current kit and crew come with a MMG with scope and suppressor). If the Razor only has this, then it’s mainly in place for self-defence or suppressing the bad guys during the final run into the drop off/exfil – the range of these weapons is going to put you right under the nose of the bad guys and you are in danger of biting off more than you can chew. Additionally, the arm only has a limited field of fire, so it can’t engage targets on the other side of the vehicle or behind it – this is where your passengers come in handy.

The Razor can also take a roll bar mounted weapon system. The weapon in this slot is limited by being Move or Fire (something the unarmoured but quick vehicle would probably prefer not to have) but the options for this slot are much more destructive, including HMGs and auto grenade launchers. Having both slots filled with weapons turns the Razor into something similar to a WMIK, perfect for forming a fast-moving base of fire for your main assault. Take advantage of the range of these systems to stay away from incoming fire and keep moving to the best locations, bearing in mind a vehicle mounted HMG doesn’t need to pack and then unpack when relocating.

Supply Point

Photo from Spectre Miniatures

The Razor also has another bonus to it – the fact it can carry additional gear. I can see this ability being underestimated by many players but it could actually be something very important for a small force. If you max out each character with multiple weapon systems (using the rules in the book for max equipment carried), then additional launchers and items for specific uses can be stored in a moving supply point. It’s conceivable that when a team of operators assaults a town, a character could use a sniper rifle outside the town to take advantage of the large range intervals before swapping it out for a shotgun as the fight gets up close and personal.

Stowing kit in a vehicle also means weapons that include the encumbering rule (such as MMGs) can be stowed until close to the fighting, removing that modifier to agility and allowing them to move at the same speed as their team (when sprinting or tactically moving) before grabbing a bigger gun when needing to form a fire position. The other items (long-range comns and medical gear) let you have access to this important kit with a certain character being stuck in the role as the game begins. Instead, as soon as the first casualty happens, any figure close to the Razor can grab what’s needed and then rush to begin triage.

The Razor 4 also has the ability to transport a crew served missile launcher, making the Razor a great vehicle to carry a tank hunter team when fighting armoured opposition. Just remember to shoot and scoot, seeing as your armour is not particularly thick.

Conclusion

Overall the Razor provides some new capabilities on the Spectre battlefields. When all of its functionality is being used, it provides a unique vehicle with multiple benefits. There are some roles it should not be used in (frontal assaults across minefields for example) but for the ones it’s suitable in I can’t see it disappointing the player in charge.

The main thing to remember is to play to its strengths : keep moving, don’t get pinned in place, think about your loadout carefully before the game begins. Apart from that, it’s a cool model to have on the tabletop and I look forward to seeing them crop up in battle reports.