Tuesday 25 November 2008

A baby for my armoured train

When I changed from 20mm to 15mm for my WW2 gaming, I also wanted a new period to play. So I went from late war to early war, and decided to make it as early war as possible - i.e. the 1939 Polish campaign. Besides giving me a whole new era to research, the campaign had the interest of whole new categories of kit. There was cavalry, main battle tanks with the armour and gun power of late war armoured cars, things called tankettes, whole battalions of motorcycles, and armoured trains.

My armoured train was a late addition to my Polish collection. After considering scratch building (or rather, having someone else scratch build one for me), I went for the simple option and purchased the Peter Pig armoured train, intended for the Russian Civil War. This is not quite correct for 1939 Polish trains, but artillery cars captured from the Russians were used by the Poles in 1939, so it is quite close. I have 2 artillery cars with a loco and tender, as can be seen in the photo. There should also be an 'assault car', basically an armoured troop carrying wagon, but PP don't do one. In fact, this is an advantage as the train is quite long enough on the table as it is. I allow the train to deploy some infantry, but basically just imagine the assault car. The train is fun to have on table, but wargaming experience indicates it is not particularly effective as a fighting unit, being rather vulnerable. But it looks quite good and always creates interest from gamers who haven't seen one before.

However, to get to the point, whilst checking the Armaments in Miniature site recently I noticed they had a new model available - a Tatra T-18 armoured draisine. This is basically a small armoured car designed to run only on rails. They were, of course, a Czech design but the Poles bought 15, 4 of which seem to have seen service in 1939. Two were attached to each of 2 Polish armoured trains, as scout/recce vehicles. Armour was 5-8mm, armament 2 Maxim machine guns and crew 3.

This was one of those wargames purchases which is really just for show, and for the hell of it. If my armoured train was a bit of a white elephant in fighting terms, this little rail car would probably be about the most ineffective armoured unit I had ever possessed - restricted to the rails, machine guns only, paper thin armour. But, of course, I had to have one, to represent the 'platoon' of 2 vehicles used by the Poles.

Armaments in Miniature are a 'one man band' operation who nevertheless produce resin castings of a very high standard. I have a couple of their 15mm aircraft and they are gems. I was not disappointed by the Tatra when it arrived. The model is only 35mm long, but detail is good and the casting clear of any bubbles or flash. Even the detail parts like headlights and machine guns are resin, and they also are beautifully done. About the only fault is a bit of a mould line around the turret.

'Work bench' shots seem to be the thing on all the best wargaming blogs, so I thought it only right that I should join the trend. Unfortunately, I don't have a work bench, only the dining room table! Finally, a picture of the finished article in company with the armoured train.

Those interested in more background should refer to the 'PIBWL Military Site', which is the online source for info about Polish armour in general and Polish armoured trains in particular. Well worth a visit.