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.

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)