Thursday, November 20, 2014

Beachhead at Tarawa - Almost There!

Hercules Powder is not like, foot powder as I thought, but gunpowder. 
I've been working for months on my US Marines for Bolt Action. I imagine I started in September, ramped up assembly line painting in October, and I'm just now finishing the last few models. I took some time off in between to paint some boats, some vehicles, and some terrain. I used a colored primer from Rustoleum that accurately represents the color of HBT very well and matches Vallejo Grey Green, so it made it go faster. I did choose to paint some with camo jackets or pants or both because that is what was present at Tarawa. This has been one of if not my favorite hobby projects I've ever worked on and I'm super proud with how the models turned out.
The 2d Division suffered terrible losses—3,381 dead and wounded. Its Marines killed all but seventeen of the 4,836 Japanese defenders of the tiny atoll. There was loud and severe criticism of the Marine Corps by the American public and some military leaders because of the number of casualties. Tarawa became a household word in the United States. It took its rightful place with Valley Forge, the Alamo, Belleau Wood, and Guadalcanal as a symbol of American courage and sacrifice.
- With The Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by EB Sledge 
 Somehow I ended up with about 100 infantry Marines and some team weapons. This is by no means a tall what you'd need to play Bolt Action. I think you'd probably need at the most around 50 infantry guys, a tank, and a few weapons teams. That is with all regulars - if you move to veteran infantry it'd be even less.

The squads of Marines can be taken with up to 12 guys, so I filled out six full rifle squads (1 sergeant with SMG, two BARs, and nine rifles). I had an additional 10 or 12 SMG guys that will fill in where necessary or perhaps create a raider squad if that is possible. They could be Marine engineers, I suppose.

You can see each guy is different - some have full camo, some have a camo jacket or just camo pants, some have full drab HBTs. Every Marine in my battalion has their camo helmet cover flipped to the sandy-colored side, though. I'm always struck by how 'casual' the Marines look in the photos; they have their jackets open, no t-shirts, loose pants, etc. You might call them a slovenly soldier but I'm sure they made up for the look with all the hard fighting they did and discipline they held. It is tough to maintain a nice uniform when you're in exotic climates and terrible weather.

The amount of gear these guys had to carry is pretty insane. The mortar crews alone had to hump a 40 pound mortar 'man-packed'. I can't imagine doing that through the water, through ditches, up hills, through jungle, etc. I know our modern military guys carry a lot too. I could never do it.

My combat pack contained a folded poncho, one pair of socks, a couple of boxes of K rations, salt tablets, extra carbine ammo (twenty rounds), two hand grenades, a fountain pen, a small bottle of ink, writing paper in a waterproof wrapper, a toothbrush, a small tube of toothpaste, some photos of my folks along with some letters (in a waterproof wrapper), and a dungaree cap.
My other equipment and clothing were a steel helmet covered with camouflaged-cloth covering, heavy green dungaree jacket with a Marine emblem and USMC dyed above it on the left breast pocket, trousers of the same material, an old toothbrush for cleaning my carbine, thin cotton socks, ankle-high boondockers, and light tan canvas leggings (into which I tucked my trouser legs). Because of the heat, I wore no Skivvy drawers or shirt. Like many men, I fastened a bronze Marine emblem to one collar for good luck.
Attached to my web pistol belt, I carried a pouch containing a combat dressing, two canteens, a pouch with two fifteen-round carbine magazines—clips, we called them, and a fine brass compass in a waterproof case. My kabar hung in its leather sheath on my right side. Hooked over the belt by its spoon (handle), I carried a grenade. I also had a heavy-bladed knife similar to a meat cleaver that my dad had sent me; I used this to chop through the wire braces wrapped around the stout crates of mortar shells. On the stock of my carbine I fastened an ammo pouch with two extra clips.
I carried no bayonet, because the model carbine I had lacked a bayonet lug. Onto the outside of my pack, I hooked my entrenching tool in its canvas cover. (The tool proved useless on Peleliu, because of the hard coral.) All officers and men dressed much the same. The main differences among us were in the type of web belt worn and the individual weapon carried.
With The Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by EB Sledge 

I used a newer-to-me method to paint these guys. Usually I basecoat, highlight, then wash and finish any details. This time I basecoated, washed, then drybrushed and highlighted. This helped keep the wash in the recesses and got rid of the 'dirty' look you sometimes see with too much wash (I'm guilty of that for sure). I was really pleased with how it turned out, although you can't really see it because I don't have a great photo setup.

Marine flamethrower teams at Tarawa had a 65% casualty rate which is much higher than any other part of the division. They were used quite often to root out the Japanese from their caves and ditches and holes. The 75mm pack howitzers didn't show up on Tarawa until D+2 I believe, after most of the fighting had been done. I really like how the gun turned out - I believe it is a Brigade Games model.

More weapons teams. Mortars are not amazing in BA, neither are MGs, but I like fielding them because they're accurate to the deployments and they sometimes pull off something sweet. The mortar team has a spotter because I can't really see fielding one without him. He makes it so you can indirect fire everything he sees.

The medic model from Warlord is really engaging. He is putting a bandage on a wounded marine laying on the ground. Medics are pretty cheap in-game, and while not super effective, saving a veteran troop once in a while is nice. The guys in the second picture will be air or artillery observers. Air observers are especially nice for US forces because you get two airstrikes; they're also very historically accurate as the Marines used naval airstrikes to soften up the enemy before advancing.

You can see that I mostly have plastic Warlord Games Marines but I did add in some pewter Marines. Most of the pewter ones come from Brigade Games - they make some excellent looking raiders and engineers. I love the pose-ability of plastic, with multiple weapons and stances, but I do like the super characterful pewter models once in a while as well.

Here you can see my Lieutenant and his gunnery sergeant. I chose to use the model on the right as my lieutenant because he looks like he is pushing forward, calling his troops behind him leading from the front. I chose to use a head that I had sculpted from a 3D print Kickstarter. I sent them my photo and it turned out OK, but it looks much better with a helmet on it.

Here you can see some of the camo styles. I chose to use the green style as from what I could gather that was the most prevalent. It came out a little dark after the watered down washes, but I figure the camo was pretty drab in real life. The models are a little shiny - I dullcoted them a bit after this.

Thanks for taking a look. I'll be going over all the vehicles and boats I put together for our Tarawa board tomorrow. Check back then!

1 comment:

  1. Very cool! Good looking lot of Leather Necks you have there.