Butcher and Bolt: Commandos!

Compared to the old kit, this is a vast improvement, if not without its own issues.

Earlier this year, a discussion between my buddy Ty about his Albertine forces for VBCW led to me offering to build up a Section of Cross-Atlantic raiders. I attempted this with the old Commandos box from Warlord, one of their earliest WW2 plastic kits. It didn’t work; my attempt to kitbash the parts with newer kits didn’t look good, and the project stalled.

Luckily, shortly after the release of the new British/Canadian Infantry kit, they announced a follow up; new commandos! They released a few weeks ago, and I eagerly picked one up, keen to get the project back on schedule.

I did ask if he wanted a full thirty men. Ty’s answer of “just ten please” meant I had a full twenty more for my own needs. Which turned out to be very lucky, as earlier this week I was challenged to game of Konflikt 47, and not feeling keen on painting a bunch of British paras and not yet having enough Chindits for a game, allowed me a suitable excuse to build up two Sections of rough and tumble commandos.

I had a very specific look I was going for: I wanted ‘Hollywood’ with a tinge of history. A dash of the old comic book aesthetic, action heroes all. An excuse to really cut loose, and to really empty my bits-box.

A helpful pamphlet to help get them ‘right’. A good selection of paints is suggested for a proper look.
You get five of these in the kit. They are great sprues, but with some serious anachronisms!

I thus got started. The first things I noticed is that, quite lazily, the rifles which were supposed to be No4 Lee Enfields turned out to be SMLE’s with No4 bayonets stuck on them. Quite annoying! An attempt to fix them by removing the bayonet looked dreadful. In the end I chose to ignore this; it’s really not worth the effort, and most folks won’t notice.

The Thompsons included were better; they appear to be a weird mix of M1928 Thompsons with the cocking handle on the top, but with M1A1 Thompson triangular sight fins and a smooth barrel with no Cutt’s compensator. For Ty’s Section, I took the time to square off the rear sights. A small touch, but we reason that the weird Tommy Gun’s are specially ordered from Auto Ordnance for the Albertine forces, with efforts made to make them cheaper.

For my own Sections, I didn’t bother with this; I would be mixing them with M1A1 Thompsons from other kits so they wouldn’t stand out so much. Another anachronism ignored for expediency. Would I have preferred Warlord getting this right? Absolutely. However in the end, it really wasn’t that big a deal, and I’ve seen far worse Thompsons on metal models that make these look perfect!

For comparisons sake, my Airsoft replica M1928 Thompson. A fairly accurate re-creation.
Barely visible, but the lack of compensator, smooth barrel, and triangular sights are visible. This simply wouldn’t do!
A different Thompson, after squaring off the rear sights. A simple fix but it does effectively change the profile just enough.

After doing the modifications, the assembly began in earnest. I began with Ty’s Section. The rules were: no berets, period accurate weapons as best as I could manage, and as ‘Pulp’ as possible. Easy enough!

Let’s have a look at Ty’s Section first! Now a word of warning, while we used the Commando box we definitely won’t be calling them that. We wanted something unique, apart from history. So we are calling them, for now, ‘Prince Albert’s Loyal Rangers’, a nod to the North American units of the Seven Years War and Revolutionary War period.

A fearsome group of men. With such heavy firepower, their presence on the VBCW battlefield will be a large one.
The Vickers K was a repurposed aircraft weapon, and it did exist in 1938. Therefore, these are a fun inclusion and something that adds some serious firepower to the section.
The Vickers K Loader has two round drum magazines strapped to his chest. Over that, he wears a bandolier of .303 ammunition for his own weapon. A ‘N04/SMLE’ hybrid is slung over his shoulder.
A ranger with a Thompson, and there is many more where that came from! Aiming his weapon at the foe, this fellow is providing covering fire.
Another ranger with his Thompson being cocked. The ‘Bergan’ backpacks on most the infantryman add some serious bulk to the models.
Another ranger, on the run and charging his weapon. The ‘Cap Comforters’ look great, and add some really distinct look to the unit.
A wounded ranger reloads his Thompson. This head is from the US Marines kit, a kit I pilfered much from today!
Another ranger reloading his Tommy.
This ranger aims his Thompson downrange. As these won’t be ‘Commandos’ so to speak I chose to use some alternative headgear. Another head from the US Marine kit.
Ah! Finally, some good looking Thompsons. This one was plucked from the 8th Army sprue. As Canada, where this unit is being drawn from, has a strong Scottish heritage, this man wears a Tam O’Shanter hat, probably from his original unit.
Last, but certainly not least, is the ‘NCO’, although he looks more like a higher ranking officer. The officers cap was sourced from the 8th Army sprue, and gives him an 1930’s look that needed to be added. He is also packing…
…A shotgun! A ghastly weapon or useful implement of war? Depends on who you ask! As we are not beholden to the Bolt Action rules for this unit we decided to add the shotgun just to add some North American flavour.

Now, when I started on my own Sections, I had a different set of rules: Berets a plenty, Thompsons in abundance, and lots of kitbashing. These would be Commandos, so I did them up as Normandy and onward Commandos, with them no longer raiding as much as being elite light infantry.

I built twenty of them, and we all don’t need to look at all of them individually. I picked out some of the cooler looking kitbashes to showcase. Lets have a look at them!

Ready to fight Nazis, Werewolves, and whatever historical and weird opponents I might face! All while looking dashing while doing so!
The NCO of one of the Sections, carrying a M1A1 Thompson under his arm, and his fist raised as a signal. Parts were sourced from the 8th Army kit and US Marines kit.
Having a smoke, and pointing out Jerry targets! The US Marine kit is a goldmine of suitably Commando kitbash parts.
A Vickers K Loader, his drum magazine pouches front and centre. The pickaxe just looked cool, and the slung SMLE while anachronistic looked just right on that arm.
A Commando shifts to a new position. Warlords plastics can’t be beat for customization purposes!
This Commando has a satchel of some sort…explosives to deal with a hardened target, perhaps?
A mix of new and very old; a loose Thompson from the old Commandos box is put into a US Marine arm. A grenade is ready to be lobbed at whatever Nazi or ahistorical nasty is present.
No conversion needed here! A Vickers K just looks imposing without any need for any fuss.
This Commando, on point perhaps, spots a target and halts the section. While the Scottish hat is out of place, I just wanted to use one.
A great grenade lobbing arm from the US Infantry sprue makes for a dynamically posed Commando. While I still need to make a sling for the Thompson, I really like this model.
A wounded Vickers gunner, still firing from the hip his deadly weapon. Maybe he should have worn a helmet? Nah, Berets for life.

All in all, a fun day’s build. I really enjoy the new kit, despite its flaws. As always, Warlord plastics kitbash wonderfully, and while this can lead to some very ahistorical things, such is the spice of life when playing alternative histories like Very British Civil War and Konflikt 47.

I’m very keen to get paint on these, as I have a full can of English Uniform spray ready. Ty’s Section will be wearing Canadian-made battle-dress, so I will wait until I can find a suitable colour. The internet suggests Brown-Violet from Vallejo, which is now US Olive Drab. Luckily, that is available in a spray, so I will order one as soon as funds are available.

My Sections just need a little clean up and slings added and I will begin work on them. They should be fast to paint, and without too many rifles to paint I can have some fun with the Black-Grey paint I have. I’ll need to see what decals I have, and if they will be suitable for post-D-Day Commandos. Some research into Konflikt 47 lore should let me see how the Commandos are faring in 1947.

But, that is all I have for today. Thank you for reading! Happy Wargaming wherever you are, and keep your head’s down when raiding the coastlines of Europe!

4 thoughts on “Butcher and Bolt: Commandos!

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