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)
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are two full size cargos. These only fit into Technical Alpha.
A fuel setup with multiple barrels, two storage boxes and a row of jerry cans.
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.
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
Generic ammo box and fuel tank.
The car pack is designed to be relatively civilian, with a fuel can, spare wheel and two sand boards.
Generic 2 – Spare wheel, storage boxes, ammo box, pelican box and a rugged laptop resting vertically.
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.
Rocket pack – large container (probably full of rockets), ammo box (probably full of warheads) and an AT4 ready to rock
Comms pack – large container, rucksack and three items to form a communication setup (aerial, small pelican case and a laptop)
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
As mentioned in my previous post on the Spectre technicals, I hadn’t picked up all the weapons. As part of my cartel order, I put on two more weapons ready to give the bad guys something else to handle my Challenger 2 or other armoured vehicles.
The common thing between these two is the base. Simply, the base is plasticard with slots cut out for the wheel arches. Main tweak is cutting the gap slightly longer so the base can be put in either way, allowing for some adjustment.
The TOW is a wire guided missile, used worldwide as tank killer as well as hammering bunkers when the gunners run out of targets. As dangerous as it is, the wire guided nature put the crew at risk until it impacts unless they cut the guidance wire early.
The Spectre kit is in three pieces – the launcher and sight, the base and two tripod legs and the third leg. Construction is simple – attach tripod leg, add launcher. The only tweak I ended up doing was I trimmed down two of the feet on the tripod so I could fit it easily onto the base.
As for crew, I added Crew Charlie and Crew Delta. Charlie is designed for the launcher while delta is intended for the SPG9. However, I think he works well as the loader. Now just to assemble a round to reload…
The M40 is a heavy recoilless rifle, launching a 105mm projectile to smash armour and the predecessor to the TOW. It lacks the guidance and doesn’t have the penetration of a TOW but it still packs a punch.
The Spectre model comes in four pieces – the main tube, the elevation wheel, the tripod and the wheel. Again, super simple assembly.
To crew it, I picked up the set designed for the weapon (Crew Foxtrot) and set them in place. I’m a big fan of the guy holding the next round.
As with the previous weapons, Spectre has done a great job making these systems. Both are packed full of detail and the crew are great additions to them. It was also super easy to mount them on quick swap bases with only minor alterations. I still have a few more systems to look at but at least now the Militia have some heavy support on the field.
As if summoned by my last post about them , my Spectre technical order turned up. I know some people in the Kickstarter have been waiting a long time for these but don’t worry, I think they were worth the wait. I’m going to do a quick overview of them and the weapon systems I’ve picked up in my first order.
Before I start I just wanted to comment on the service. This order arrived via 1st class delivery and was wrapped in protective bags for all the components. Larger weapons with longer barrels were wrapped in such a way to prevent major components from bending or breaking which can be a frequent worry when purchasing models.
There are currently two models of chassis that can be chosen: Alpha and Beta.
The Alpha chassis is the older version of the pickup, closer to what have been filling our TV screens from the early 2000’s onwards. It comprises of a resin basic model with resin wheels, bumper and tailgate. The frame behind the cab and the wing mirrors are metal.
I have to hand it to the guys at Spectre, the Alpha was a dream to put together. The main body of the vehicle is incredibly crisp with lots of detail, the slot fit the metal details great and even the wheels went on with no wobble.
The Beta is a more modern vehicle with a larger cab and small transport bay at the back. Unlike the Alpha, all the details are resin. There was a bit more work to be done to prepare this model and I noticed the resin had an oily sheen to it that needed washing off. In addition, the rear tailgate on mine had some very thin sections which had almost been broken through – annoying but should be easily covered up when painting. Despite the issues it’s cool to have a two styles of vehicle available at launch.
The Guns and Crew
There are a massive range of weapons currently available. However, wanting to keep under my hobby budget for the month, I only picked up a smaller selection. As a basic rule, all of the weapons can be mounted in both chassis types or on a separate base as a static heavy weapon emplacement. Weapons and crew are bought separately from the chassis on the Spectre website making it easier to increase your options when building forces without requiring you to buy a load of the vehicles.
There are two types of HMG available, the Russian DSHK and the American M2. As they are the most commonly used guns in most of the scenarios I own, I picked up one HMG for each vehicle.
The M2 is mounted on a high pole which has a rectangular base for sitting on the truck bed (the pattern on it matches the pattern on the bed so it sits properly). There is a slot in the top of pole, letting you elevate the gun when mounting. There is a minor downside – the M2 doesn’t have spade grips on the back of it.
The DHSK is on its usual high mount. The tripod come with two legs already attached requiring only the final one and the gun to glued on. The gun itself fits onto a point, while the gun itself has the elevation dial meaning it will look right no matter what angle you put it at.
I’ll also mention the crew figures for these guns. As you can see there are two available, one in a firing pose and one resting on the weapon (or some other surface). I struggled to get the crew man resting on the guns to balance properly but I think part of this was my own lack of skill. You’ll need to trim the DSHK slightly for the firing gunners hands to fit in the right place.
As I’m wanting to hot swap the various weapons, I’m going to mount the gunner and the MGs on a small rectangular base to just give them a bit more strength and stability and also to prevent any bipod legs from bending.
The Big Guns
Although the HMGs will be the most commonly used weapons, it’s the bigger end of the scale where the real fun begins.
The heavier AA gun requires a bit of assembly and I ended up using a fair amount of force to get it into place. However, once assembled it sticks together, forming a nice weighty gun that looks great when on the vehicle. The separate crew member means you can build it empty if you want it to decorate the battlefield.
The ZPU-4 uses the same base as it’s bigger brother. However, the assembly process require far less faf. Instead it’s just placing the four barrels onto the central pillar, adding the ammo boxes and bracing strut. The crewman is moulded onto the central pillar but looks fantastic
So mixed bag with this as it comes out the wrapping. It’s a wonderful and characterful gun, perfect for making your force look rather ragged and good to go. It’s also easy to assemble. However, once assembled it seems to be a system that is designed for gluing in place. The turret has some rings to prevent the turret from sliding laterally but nothing holds it in place from falling off if tilted. I’ve also found the frame itself doesn’t sit particularly well. Worse news is that the crew member underneath doesn’t seem to fit when you place the frame in and rest if on the wheel arches. None of these are problems if your glue it in place but I’m going to do a few tweaks (adding a base, extending the struts) to make it swappable.
Overall, 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.
In terms of economics, £18 for the chassis works out fine (the closest equivalent is Empress’s bare-bones technical at £15 but with less detail to it). Weapons and crew are priced sensibly, with the £1.99 .50cals being perfectly priced for use in conversion jobs.
I’ll add a second article once I pick up the remaining weapons which will be soon based on my first experiences. I’m also very excited for what comes next. Some stowage items and passenger figures would be awesome but we shall see what Spectre come up with. As always, I’m praying for miniguns.
With the recent release of Spectre’s comprehensive range of Technicals and weapon systems, it’s never been a better time to be a militia warlord on the tabletop. This primer is designed to fill you in on these increasingly common vehicles and their role on the tabletop. I’ll cover some tactics for using them, some weapon suggestions, how best to kill them and then finally where you can get your grubby paws on your own.
But first what is a technical? Put simply, it’s an improvised weapon platform built off the back of a pickup truck or similar vehicle. The name comes from Somalia in the 1990’s, where “technical assistance grants” was a euphemism for hiring local gunmen in their up-armed pickup trucks due to laws regarding private security. However, technicals have been in use for a long time before that. As long as their have been cars, there has been someone looking at it and thinking “I bet I could put a gun on that”. The first major use is in North Africa, with the Long Range Desert Group and the SAS outfitting striped down unarmoured trucks with more firepower than they really should have. Interestingly, North Africa also saw the “Technical War”. In this conflict in the 1980’s, forces from Chad using weapons equipped Toyotas were able to hold off Libya’s armoured forces, thanks in no small part to their high-speed and MILAN launchers from France.
As well as militias, technicals have also been used by security contractors and SOF teams. These vehicles are often better equipped with armoured plating, run flat tires and other tools of the trade. The common theme with the cheapie versions is that these modifications are not factory standard.
Most people still link them to the conflict in Somalia but they are a common sight on the modern battlefield when one party can’t afford proper AFVs.
Technicals have two things going for them. They are motorised and they carry a heavy weapon. Using technicals effectively requires you to use both of these facts and to not forget them. Utilising shoot and scoot tactics will let you hit the enemy with a lot of firepower just when the enemy least expects it.
Additionally, technicals in most systems allow for some limited transporting capacity. Use this to slam a small group down the flanks if you need to grab a better position or contest an objective.
One idea that someone suggested to me was technicals should be used like light cavalry – a fast-moving screen designed to use the flanks, hit hard and then fall back. Technicals normally move faster than their more heavily armoured equivalents which can be handy to get out of a sticky situation.
Finally, technicals are cheap, especially in comparison to proper AFVs. This means you can normally outnumber your enemy in both troops and vehicles and buy vehicles than can (in the right circumstances) punch far above their weight. Get in a good position and (in Spectre) your 50pt truck crewed by guys in football tops can knock out a 150pt MBT
There is however a major downside to technicals – they are unarmoured meaning everything is a threat. Rifle fire, squad machine guns and GPMGs can cause damage to you. Heavier weapons (such as grenade launcher or anti-tank launchers) will probably knock you out in a single hit. To counter this, lie in ambush and then once spotted keep moving until you can escape the enemy fire.
You may be carrying a heavy weapon but do remember – tanks and IFVs will easily knock you out. So unless you are totting weapons on the heavier end of the scale, run a mile when the armour appears.
One of the great points about the technical is that, when it comes to weapons, anything goes! If you want inspiration, YouTube is a fantastic source of evidence of bizarre weapon setups on the most improbable frames.
HMG (M2 /DSHK)
Probably the default weapon when people think of technicals, a heavy machine gun is cheap but can be very dangerous. It will mince infantry, ignore body armour and cause a threat to light vehicles such as snatch landrovers. If you want a good all-rounder, a HMG is a safe bet.
Light Recoilless Guns (SPG-9 / M20)
On the lower end of explosive weapons, the light recoilless rifle is still cheap. It will knock out light vehicles with ease and the splash damage will worry groups of enemy. I wouldn’t want to go up against tanks with this but it’s a nice way of hammering suppression downrange.
If you want to channel some of the weird that comes with technicals, you could strip the turret off a BMP-1, bolt it to a frame and stick it on the back of your vehicle. The reason I’ve classed it as a light recoilless gun is that it fires the same round as the SPG-9 (with less propellant). Same effects but talk to your opponent about maybe giving your technical a little extra protection.
Heavy Recoilless Rifle (M40 / Wombat / B-11)
So this is where the humble Recoilless Rifle starts to be more of a threat. These rounds will obliterate light vehicles, easily penetrate armour on APCs like the M113 and might have a chance of causing damage to modern armour. These weapons will also be more lethal against infantry. The downside? Well they cost more and that’s about it. If you can’t get a TOW but you think your opponent has armour in their figure case or they are eyeing up the hard cover on the board, get this.
Guided Missile/ATGMs (TOW / Milian / Kornet)
Do you need to kill tanks? You need an ATGM. The combination of high-speed launch platform and a devastating anti-tank weapon wrecked tank designer’s plans in the Cold War and now you have a chance to do it on the tabletop. It’s not designed for infantry but will nail buildings and entrenched positions.
The ZPU-1 is an AA 14.5mm heavy machine gun which is bad enough in its single form. The main thing it’s known for however is the fact it turns up in double (ZPU-2) and quad (ZPU-4) versions as well.
In game, I’d use this as a heavy machine gun, adding any rules for double or quad mounts on top of the HMG profile. Either way, it will rip infantry to pieces if it catches them in the open or at the very least pile on the suppression. If the game you’re playing also support helicopters, these things will be your go-to anti-aircraft gun.
The ZSU is a 23mm autocannon. It does come in a quad version, the main weaponry of a Shilka AA vehicle, but seeing as YouTube has clips of technicals carrying the double version flipping over, it makes sense that Spectre has only released the more common version.
In game, it’s basically a ZPU on steroids. It will wreck infantry, shred light vehicles and cause armoured vehicles some concern. If your opponent has deployed an AH-64 or a Hind over the board, this will make them think twice.
Rocket Pods (MLRS)
So talking about improvisation, this is a simple way of making a Multiple Launch Rocket System without spending money. Take rocket pod from an aircraft, bolt it to a frame on the cargo bed, point it downrange and hope that the force of it launching doesn’t flip the vehicle or rip itself off its mount
This setup will be many things but accurate is not one of them. It’s basically a long-range explosive shotgun. It will cause a bad day if it lands on you. As the user, also be aware it is unlikely you’ll be able to reload this ingame.
That’s all the weapons released for technicals are the moment but there are some other options if you are willing to custom fit them.
Mounting nothing more than an MMG is a pretty common sight on transport vehicles or vehicles not designed for frontline combat (such as Afghan police vehicles or PMC escort cars). An MMG is still an effective threat even if it lacks the power of it’s bigger brothers. The other point is that being smaller means it occupies less space, leaving more room for your fighters to pile on.
With mortars already being a core part of a militia force, why not mount one on a vehicle? The recoil of the round is going straight into the shocks but it makes sense as a shoot and scoot vehicle. A mount I have seen is a ghetto mortar made of tubing weld together in banks. Once all the tubes are loaded, a single button press sends 6 or so mortar rounds off down range. Not sure how you would do this in-game but give me a week.
Auto Grenade Launcher (MK19/AGS)
I haven’t seen many pictures of this but everywhere the HMG goes, it’s 40mm slinging cousin isn’t far behind. This is a nice halfway between the HMG and the rocket pod – lots of explosions down range but you won’t be killing tanks with it.
This is all good if you are using the technicals, but how do you deal with them?
Fundamentally, engaging with all weapon system will cause at least some damage. Grenade launchers and anti-tank weapons will be the most efficient but don’t be afraid to put some MMG bursts at them – at the very least it will suppress them.
The main way to defeat them is to work out how your opponent intends to use them. If they are close to the flanks, expect a rush from them. If they set up in cover, expect an ambush. Once you know how they will be used you can easily avoid or neutralise them. Similarly, look at what they armed with – if they only have anti-personal weapons, use your own vehicles or air support to knock them out.
Otherwise, engage them as you would fight a heavy weapon team. Smoke to blind them, fire to pin them down and then finish them.
So now you know how to use them, where best to buy from? I’m assuming you are wanting them in 28mm as that is what most readers of this blog play moderns in.
Well the article was inspired by the releases from Spectre. They have two base chassis to choose from, the classic Toyota and a more modern frame. Then you can pick your weapons from a huge list and any crew (only MENA/Insurgent at the moment) you need for them. Spectre also say you can swap out the system easily. I’ll be doing some writing about them once I have a big box of them in my hands. I’m also expecting to see another wave of releases at some point in the future based on the contents of the kickstarter.
For a long time, Empress was the only game in town for 28mm technicals. Their chassis is a Toyota pickup. As for weapons, you can pick from an M2 .50cal, an SPG-9, a heavy recoilless rifle and the ZSU-23. A big advantage to Empress is that they have crew figures to match their superb ranges, including Taliban figures.
EDIT: Another alternative is Evil Bear Wargames, who make a rather nice SUV styles pickup just asking to to turned into a technical. It doesn’t come with any weapons but Empress weapon systems fit in the back. The SUVs are available in either individually or as three pack in a deal.
Your final option is Radio Dishdash. One thing I like about their range is that rather than being Toyata based, the technicals are Land Rover based instead. Both types have crew figures to match their Day of the Ranger range. You can also get a triple pack with two heavy machine gun trucks and one recoilless rifle carrier.
I hope this article has grabbed some interest in using some technicals in your own games. They are a worthwhile investment for a militia player, giving you some back bone and a few toys to play with. Good luck on the table!