Saturday, November 21, 2015

Death On The Danube - WIP Hungarian Infantry & AFVs

It's nice to finally start on my WW2 Hungarians. I've been fascinated with the Hungarian participation on the side of the Axis since reading an in-depth history of the German/Hungarian defeat on the Don River. Before then, I'd never known much about this "minor" Axis nation during WW2. It's not taught in school unless you take a really, critical history course and it's not widely known. Which is odd considering just how involved the Hungarian army was on the Eastern Front and how tragically that became.

After reading Krisztin Ungvry's amazing book Battle For Budapest: 100 Days In World War 2, I just knew I had to try modeling this crucial battle in miniature. As such, this force is meant to represent the odd assortment of units trapped inside the Budapest cauldron during the winter of 1944-45. Unfortunately, Warlord's Hungarian army list for Bolt Action is riddled with inaccuracies and missing units; so this build will show many units that aren't available under the generic Hungarian list. As such, for casual play, I will be utilizing the German Last Levy army list and switching back to the generic Hungarian army list for tournament play.

For Hungarian-made AFVs, I'm using Mad Bob Miniatures Csaba armoured car and Zrinyi assault gun (with crew from JTFM's German Tank Crew - I cut the bill off their soft caps to more accurately represent the high-peaked soft cap of most AFV crewmen). These are fairly nice models but, to me, there are some inaccuracies I had to correct. Also, the casts had an odd rough texture to them, especially after washing, so I strongly recommend smoothing this out with a Dremel polishing tool bit before assembly (there is one portion on the Csaba I missed and it's really rough).  On the Csaba I added tow hooks from 20g copper wire, a new AT rifle barrel from copper rod, a corrected cylindrical MG barrel from plasticard, and stowed mallet/shovel on the left side of the hull. On the Zrinyi I added tow hooks from 20g copper wire and a tow chain from jewelry chain. With plasticard, I added the missing headlamps, driver's periscope, and new schurzen attachment points. And, yes....I did drill out each and every hole on the mesh schurzen! Not for the easily annoyed.

28mm Hungarian infantry models are the major sticking point of this army - NO ONE MAKES THEM. It's odd that you can find miniatures for units from even smaller nations, but not Hungary. Many people recommend using the Early War era Germans. While this will do in a pinch, for me there are issues - Honved infantry weren't generally issued with the common Y-strapping and 1938 model Stahlhelm of German troops (though they did start receiving stocks of weapons and equipment after Hitler removed Admiral Horthy from power and rushed German units into Hungary).

Instead, I chose to use Great War Miniatures' WW1 Late War Germans. While they do require work (smoothing puttees and sculpting boots, removing cuffs on jackets, removing water bottles, etc.), the range provides a variety of poses and the majority have the large, distinctive 1916 model Stahlhelm. I'm also interspersing Rules of Engagement's Germans in winter gear for a little variety and also to make certain models stand out on the tabletop (NCOs and Panzerfaust-armed infantry, in particular).

Below is a WIP pic of the majority of my infantry so far. My officers are armed with a mix of pistols and MP-35 SMGs converted from WW1-era Bergmans (...if you've ever seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, these are the gun used during the Venice boat chase). The regular Honved troops are pretty straightforward with some headswaps from West Wind's SOTR Bare German Heads set. The NCOs are armed with MP40s from Reaper Miniatures' 20th Century Weapons set. Panzerfaust-armed figures are from ROE's German Panzerfaust blister. The LMG gunners are equipped with German-supplied MG42s (again from Reaper).

The MMG team is armed with the Hungarian Schwarloze M07/12. This machine-gun was an updated WW1-era model very common in the Hungarian army of WW2. My favorite unit so far is the 10cm Skoda Houfnize 14/19 medium artillery gun. I heavily converted this from a Warlord Italian Modelo 14 with GWM German Artillery crew. I elongated the barrel with metal and plasticard tubing, filed down the gun shield (adding a hinged top plate, gun sight aperture, and sliding aperture plate), added gun shield seats from plasticard and 20g copper wire, removed the limber rails, and added a recoil spade from plasticard.

That's it for now! Only a couple more figures to convert above, then on to the mountain troops....


NW Crew said...

Great start to a very interesting project! Beautiful modifications. /Mattias

Weekend General said...

Brilliant! I did some mission work in Hungary many years ago and have admired them ever since. It's great to see such an in depth foray into the Hungarian army for Bolt Action. Have you seen the army list the WWPD guys did?

At any rate, this is a very exciting project. I shall follow this with great interest!

Chicago Terrain Factory said...

That's an impressive project. I look forward to the updates.

Malefric said...

Saw this from the TMP link. I had never read about the Siege of Budapest. Your conversions and dedication to the project are very impressive!