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┬áso 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…

Impressions: Empress M-ATV

One key symbol of the Ultramodern era has been the rise of Mine Resistant vehicles. As improvised explosive device usage increased in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the classic Humvee and Land Rover became unsafe for use by troops on patrol. The MRAP program worked to fix this, creating a selection of vehicles that able to better protect the crew from most IEDs. However, these vehicles were top heavy and less manoeuvrable than the vehicles they replaced, which especially caused issues in Afghanistan. To find a midpoint between the MRAPs and Humvee, Oshkosh developed the M-ATV. For wargamers wanting one of these vehicles on the tabletop, Empress has two versions of this kit available from their store.

As with most Empress vehicle, the M-ATV is combination of resin and metal pieces. Most of the body is big chunks of resin such as the crew cab and chassis while finer details are made of metal. Although there are no instruction provided, assembly is easy enough. Overall the quality on the casting is really nice. I don’t recommend it for newbies though – there were a few gaps to get filled once assembled, especially on the join between the cab and the chassis.

Once all the resin is in place, it’s time to add the details. All of these details are easy to fit, with careful cut outs and placement guides to make assembly simple. This adds on everything from the cameras required for manoeuvring the vehicle to the steps needed to climb up to the doors.

And here is the finished vehicle. Like all my vehicles, it got a desert tan spray and a wash, as well as copious amounts of drybrushing to give it the dirty look. I think my washing brush was a little bit dirty so I might re-do the paint job at some point. However, for now I’m pretty happy with it.

From the rear angle you can see the cargo bay (waiting for me to prepare all the stowage for it). Many of the details on back are siting positions for aerials. You could add these yourself to make the vehicle look even cooler but I think they would last the grand total of 5 seconds before I’d snap them off.

First up, lets see the vehicle against infantry. As you can see, it really towers over them, no matter what brand they are. I really don’t fancy dropping from the crew cab to the ground when disembarking.

Lets take a look at some vehicles performing similar roles – vehicles designed to carry a HMG and a small number of people. As you can see, the M-ATV towers over the Empress Humvee and Technical from Spectre.

I was really surpsied just how bulky the M-ATV is compared to the Challenger 2. The MBT looks almost sleek and speedy.

If you hadn’t guessed, I really like this vehicle. It required a few little tweaks when building but the final effect is awesome. It’s also a very practical vehicle to pick up. Rather than tanks and APCs, the M-ATV and other MRAPs are a relatively common vehicles after their deployment, meaning it will get a lot of use without overpowering every game it gets into. The price is also pretty reasonable for the vehicle – it’s not quite as detailed as a model kit but it’s definitely designed to be a playable game piece like all of Empress’s stuff. One thing I would like to see is a version (or an addon) including the CROWS remote weapon system, which became very common as time moved on.

In fact I liked the kit so much I bought a second one – come back in a few weeks to see my attempt to build the M1245 SF vehicle based off the M-ATV. As for this vehicle, come back on Friday to see it in action.


So that’s talking about the kit. As it comes out the box I think it’s fine but there were a couple of tweaks I did to the vehicle while assembling it. Inspired by some points raised on the Queeg’s rather excellent work on them, I decided to do some adjustments. Now, I’d safely say my hobby skills are journeyman level – not complete beginner but not great. Some of these tweaks look a little rough (especially compared to the Queeg’s stuff) but it was fun to do.

First up, the rear cargo bed. Technically the bed on the Empress version is way too low. It doesn’t provide the same amount of travel on the wheels. However, increasing the height would require adding more details such as the suspension. I’m not that fussed so I decided to raise that vehicle up. I assembled several panels of plasticard to raise it to the correct height, including pips for the locator lugs.

The second tweak was to fill in part of the gap between the rear cargo bay and the main cab. I wasn’t a huge fan of the gap and reference photos seem mixed on how much space there was on the real vehicles. I decided to fill the gap entirely and extended the storage bins backwards. This gives me a larger area to fill with kit once I’ve divvied up my stowage between this one and it’s brother coming soon.

Another tweak was adjust the turret. After clearing the turret of flash, it sat flush with the top of the cab. However, the cab has a lip that was colliding with the bottom of the HMG mount. To fix this, I made a shell out of plasticard to sit in the bottom of the turret well and just make it smoother to turn.

Finally, purely for a visual improvement and based on a stock photo I had seen of the M-ATV, I added some mesh panels to the site. This just makes the rear cargo bay look a bit more practical than it would be if left empty without filling it with plain storage boxes. This mesh was made out of an old sieve, with some careful clipping to avoid sending bits of metal flying round the room. This was then glued into place to the existing frame.

That’s it for the M-ATV but as I mentioned I’m converting a second M-ATV to SF standard. Expect more details in an upcoming article.