Friday, May 8, 2015

Slovak Rapid Division Update: Sourcing Models

If you follow our blog you've noticed that I've done a few posts on my Slovak Rapid Division models that I'm doing for Bolt Action. I talked about listing, painting, and general research. One of the most common questions I've heard has been "Where did you find the models for this?" I'm going to put together a list here for those thinking about doing their own project. 

Finding all of these models has been a chase but a wonderful one. Doing all this research into tiny companies and figuring out how to use models that weren't designed as Slovaks has been really fun. 

I am using mostly infantry from Bohemian Troops. Emil has put together a great set of models sculpted by Paul Hicks. They're technically created for 1930s Czechoslovak soldiers, but the Slovak army used almost exactly the same equipment and uniforms as the interwar Czechoslovak army.

To add variety to your squads you can pull side caps from the Warlord Germans, winter hats from the Winter Soviets, or bedrolls. Basing will help quite a bit in differentiating your guys.


You can see the models as they're listed here on Emil's site. They're well detailed and crisp. There wasn't any flash and they even have their shoelaces sculpted... awesome stuff. You'll notice that the general infantry have puttees. This is huge and along with their unique helmet this really sets them apart and they don't really make separate heads for these guys.
You can see some of the ways I've painted and changed the soldiers in these photos:

For officers you can use pretty much any German officer. They wore boots and a peaked cap. The Rapid Division and Slovakia could not provide very many SMGs at all; I have one model in my army with an SMG, the adjutant to my lieutenant. The lieutenant has a pistol - it looks more dignified and is more historically accurate. 

I used some Foundry miniatures for my officers, spotters, and medic. Foundry makes amazing miniatures - if you haven't checked them out, you should do so now. They're very characterful - sculpted by the Perry Brothers. They're a little short but fit in well with WLG and Emil's models.

Emil has produced an LMG model which is perfect. The ZB vz 26 or 30 were used and it is modeled accurately. Using the Bolt rules makes these LMGs an amazing addition to your squads (as they should be).

I would not advise picking up any assault rifles or more than one LMG. They really weren't well equipped and never used assault rifles for sure.

The Slovaks did utilize cavalry as reconnaissance patrols. There are a few sources for amazing cavalry out there - the ones I chose are from Crusader. They're wearing standard German uniforms so I had to cut off their gas mask containers as the Slovaks generally didn't have these from what I've seen. Since they don't have the right helmet I took some heads off of the models from Emil and put them on the cav.

The sculpts are great - some flash but not much. The bases are somewhat large but I really wanted to show the presence of a horse and rider - you don't get close. It also allows for some mini-dioramas. 

The dismount miniatures are Warlord Games Blitzkrieg Germans. From what I've seen the cavalry wore boots as opposed to puttees, so these guys work very well. 

Other options: Empress Miniatures makes some awesome looking SCW cav you can generally work with for most cavalry of the war. Warlord makes some beautiful SS cavalry but they are wearing a much different uniform.

The Rapid Division definitely used quite a few motorcycles and bicycles. They had trouble keeping up with the German advance during Barabarossa so they were given many bicycles to move faster. I can't imagine riding one even close to a battle but they did! 

I picked up some bicyclists from Dixon Miniatures. They work really well because they have puttees. They need a little work in that they have some extra straps but I fixed that. I am using some pill bases from Warlord Games.

They also used many motorcycles in their forces so I picked up some Kradschutzen from Warlord Games and did not use the second rider. I used the pill bases from WLG again - they're nice sizes for these guys. I can't wait to start painting them. 

Weapon Teams
The Slovak Rapid Division did not have a ton of weapons but they did have the standards - mortars, machine guns, etc. I've chosen to use a WWI German model as the HMG closely resembles the Czech gun the Slovaks used. 

Mortars are all pretty universal looking, so I just used a German mortar and chose my own infantry models. My snipers are actually partisan models from Black Tree Design. I figured they can be my representation from the Slovak National Uprising. The Slovaks did a lot of mingling with the local Ukirainian population (since they were Slavs as well - and were easy to talk to) so perhaps these guys are just in street clothes.

The Division used many light 37mm AT guns. I picked up an AT gun from Company B and added to the gun shield to make it look like the VZ 34. The main reason for using the Japanese one was because the 37s the RD used were generally spoked wheels, unlike many of the German ones who had tires etc.

I knew that artillery was a huge part of the Slovak's participation in the war, so I wanted to make sure I picked some up. The Italians used the Skoda 10 cm howitzer as their 100/17 howitzer. I found it at Warlord and eagerly picked it up. The Italian models come with puttees so that is pretty great!

I haven't found a 28mm or 1/56 20 mm VKPL vz. 36 (Oerlikon) AA cannon yet but I'm working on it. I am working on the 75mm mountain gun they used as a light howitzer. They did have PAK38 and 88s so I am just using Warlord Games models for those with Slovak infantry as the crew.

I was able to find airplanes pretty easily as 1/72 scale aircraft are really popular. I picked up an Avia B534 kit and put together and painted it. Airplane models are super complex with a ton of details... I left some off.

Unfortunately the trucks they used predominantly were not used by other armies, so they really aren't available in 1/56 or even (ugh) 1/48. The Praga RV was pretty popular but I'm using Opel Blitzes because they did use these sparingly. I hope to find something that I can use as the Praga at some point - I've seen a list that says the main Hungarian truck was pretty similar. 

For a tow I painted up an RSO. It is a hilarious looking tractor that is very similar to what the Slovaks had. Unfortunately again the main staff cars the Slovaks had - Tatra 57, Skoda Popular, and others aren't readily available at all. I did find a 1/48 Tatra 97 from Wespe. This is more of a field car - Horch sized. I'm not super happy about the 1/48 part but its cool. The 97 was a pretty bad car, I guess - it had a rear engine and dudes would drive it super fast and flip it going around curves. 

I picked up four Panzer 38ts from Warlord Games. They're beautiful, clean, resin kits that are perfect for this project. I picked up two Panzer 35ts from the Hungarian Tanks Kickstarter by Mad Bob Miniatures. I will likely pick up two more from Warlord to make a squadron. 

The other tanks the Slovaks had were the Panzer II, Panzer IIIN (howitzer), and Marder III. I ran into some trouble finding a Marder IIIH which is the one the Slovaks had - so I painted a Marder IIIM. They look pretty different, so I'm going to kitbash a MarderH together and probably repaint the Marder IIIM for Germans.

The PanzerII and PanzerIII are the right kits, but I painted them in Panzer Grey, and I've just recently found out they were likely in dunkelgelb (yellow). I'm going to repaint them.

The 38ts are perfect bar one small detail - the sweet looking Cross of Lorraine (double cross) on the turret should actually be the tri-color shield the Slovaks used. That is an easy change. They didn't use numbers as much on the 38t, but I believe they had a few with turret numbers on them. 

Once I paint my 35ts they'll look pretty interesting - the Czech pre-war camo scheme was insane looking and they put the double cross on it. There are plenty of examples of the 35t for reference.

The one hard item to find has been the OA VZ 30 armored car. The Slovaks used these quite extensively at the start of the war and then for many of the months they served as a security force behind German lines. Unfortunately the car proved to be too lightly armored and particularly unreliable.

I did try to convert one using a Warlord armored car and it just didn't work out. I did some extensive green stuffing but I really can't sculpt. I'm working with a company to 3D print it and get some copies.

I'm certainly going to have more articles coming up - my next one will be a review of the painting guide I wrote. Thanks for reading!

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