Syria: The Start on More Vehicles

Another week, and let’s keep this project rolling with another post.

So where are things at since my last update? Well, I haven’t touched any of my Ukrainian miniatures, which remain around 90% complete, but still in a state of “maybe latter, lemme go start something new instead of finishing older stuff”. Which is fine for the moment, ah, but I could use the space they’re taking up to be honest…

On the Syrian Civil War front however things are moving along. My latest orders from Empress and Spectre arrived earlier in the week and I’ve set about assembling some of what’s there. Namely the vehicles, because …tanks are cool.

Here’s everything worth showing off in a Work in Progress state. Nothing new has been painted, though I’ll hopefully have a batch done by the end of next week to show off.



The T-72 was a common enough vehicle prior to the Arab Spring, with some countries being in the process of replenishing their stocks or upgrading existing tanks in the past few years. Whilst all sorts of Cold War era tanks have the potential to show up in this particular conflict, I chose the T-72 both for its lack of rarity, and the availability of a 1/50th scale kit.

Empress Miniatures do a T-72 Ural as part of their old Red Star Chechen Wars line. Now with my modern European forces one of these would look a bit more out of place, at least not without some mild modernisation, but in the Middle East anything goes. I had considered buying some of those Chinese Diecast T-55s, but wasn’t too into the price of shipping. As may I wind up buying Tiny Terrain Model’s T-62 when it comes out. For the moment though, Empress’ T-72 seemed like the obvious choice for a tank to include with these Jihadist forces.

This particular one is based on a few modified tanks from the Syrian conflict. Hugo Kaaman’s blog seems to indicate that where available T-72s receive the bulk of the more involved modifications, whereas T-55s, T-62s, etc, tend to come second place as far as stuff like ERA, etc goes. So in this case I went for a mix of improvised armour.


The style of cage armour with sandbags (or whatever else is at hand) in between seems to be a common mod by multiple factions. I based the turret armour off of the below T-55, though have seen similar set ups on other vehicles (including BMP-1s of all things).


With sandbags also being added to the hull. Anything to make the crew feel more secure so they’re willing to take more risks I suppose. Not that they’ll do anything against RPGs. The sandbags are just slabs of milliput, nothing special, with some rubbish bags from Fenris Games strewn about to give some variety.

The side skirts are based on this improvised set pictured on a regime T-72. Due to this being a wargaming piece I left off most of the mounting pegs for the ERA, as they’d inevitably get torn off given how small and thing they’d have to be to look realistic (more ERA bricks to come as the clay dries…).

And I’d note that I also re-arranged the smoke launches (the original T-72 Ural’s dischargers stretch along most of the front of the turret), which seems to occur with the more professional spaced armour mods. The front mounted searchlight was also removed.


I had also considered keeping the NSV Machine Gun which comes with the kit mounted, and adding a gun shield to it. However, it would have been just asking to be knocked off during storage, and I’d prefer to keep the turret’s low profile for practicality’s sake. Besides, with all the existing improvised armour, it maybe would have been a bit overkill.


Naturally I then added a whole load of stowage to give the vehicle more of a realistic lived in feel. On this vehicle the majority of the stowage is from Special Artizan Service Miniatures lineup, with a crew member’s personal M16 taken from Warlord Games Project Z Spec Ops setΒ (now once again OOP). I have tonnes of those M16s leftover from those sets, as the ones on that sprue don’t really appear so often in Ukraine. In Iraq however I’ve more of an excuse, and its a nice little feature to differentiate this tank from the ones we were seeing used by militants a few decades ago.


This’ll be painted up in a nice generic sand colour scheme. Nothing special, as I’d like to keep it generic so it can be used by multiple forces. Not many groups are too extravagant with their insignia or custom camo schemes, preferring to just slap some tan paint on their vehicles after they’ve been altered and call it a day.


I had to do something a bit different when it came to the first APC for these ISIS forces. In Iraq ISIS had managed to capture a whole load of Iraqi military equipment. Initially at least they were shown off in their original role for propaganda forces, however with the rise in Coalition Forces air power, ISIS’ ability to field this Western equipment began to diminish. More often than not this sort of vehicle would be used as SVBIEDs, both for the propaganda value, and that they’d inevitably be singled out for destruction if used in their conventional role (more so than just an armoured pickup).

Similar to the M16s and other NATO weaponry which I liked seeing included with the infantry I showed off in my last post, having this American vehicle used by enemy forces is a curious image. I could have gone with a regular BMP-1 (and may well do in future), but once I found images of captured M113s online, I had to make one.

This vehicle’s an Empress M113 with some modification. The base kit gives decent options for a variety of models of the M113, though I kept it simple with the bog standard variant with added tanks at the rear. It would be nice if the side skirts were optional, but like the T-72 and the other tracked vehicles I’ve ordered from them, they have no upper set of tracks (luckily OKB-Grigorov so a set of T-72 tracks, so with a bit of work at least the tanks can go without).

I modified the vehicle a tad to give it some more character. Most of the M113s seen captured by the groups have the ACAV style turret (which Empress don’t include with theirs), so I improvised and added Spectre Minitures ZPU-1 with a gun shield to beef up the vehicle’s fire power a bit (I added the grips from a DHsK to the ZPU to make it suitable for a pintle mount, similar to a mod from Libya).

Behind the gunner are some spare belts of ammo. I can’t remember which company did these, but they were for 40K (and were the smallest calibre which came in the set). Searching around Zealot Miniatures set would be suitable alternative, and help to add a bit more realism to any vehicles using those Spectre AA guns.


The rest of the stowage is again bits from either Warlord, SASM, rubbish bags from Fenris, or O-Gauge model train bits bought from model railway shops. The gunner’s an old sculpt I never found a use for with a head by West Wind (I needed something with a massive beard…)

At the moment the plans to paint this one all black, with ISIS logos on the faces, similar to this vehicle. Just to make it more striking at set apart from all the tan vehicles that’ll be in my collection (which I suppose was also the intentions of the owners of the real vehicle. This one’s from Lebanon, but similar enough).


ISIS use SVBIEDs in a similar role as the airstrikes used by other forces. The donor vehicles used for these macabre creations from civilian 2 seater cars up to tanks and fuel tankers (and even larger vehicles like heavy earth movers…). In this case I’m modelling a BMP-1 used in this role.

In the case of ISIS BMP-1 SVBIEDs aren’t uncommon among the various military vehicles which have been used. The BMP-1 was due to be phased out of the Syrian military’s stocks prior to the Civil War, but continued to see service throughout the conflict. Its armour isn’t all that great, nor is its armament, so many have had field modifications to give them a bit more of an edge. With these SVBIEDs however, most have their turrets donated to pickup trucks (like the one from my last post), and then the base vehicle modified with a bit of improvised armour.

Way back when reviewing Spectre’s BMP-1 kit I had said that there wasn’t much of a chance of me buying any more, at least not for my Ukrainian project, as I already had a load of HLBS 1/48th scale BMPs. Given the choice however, I’d take Spectre’s kit over the alternative, and with this Syria project this is just the opportunity for me to use these models without them looking out of place.


This wasn’t too involved a conversion. Most of the work going to removing one of the rear doors without damaging the surrounding details. The removal of a single rear door seems to be a common practice in these conversions (more often than removing both, or none at all), though it is a bit weird that its done at all.


Still, with that done, I covered up the turret ring with a bit of plasticard (and some rough milliput work about the edges to illustrate the slap dash conversion work from the workshop). The turret of course being donated for another purpose, instead of being filled with just more explosives.


Then it came down to adding a bit of improvised armour. I couldn’t find many of these BMP-1 IEDs with too extensive an armour package, I suppose the creators thinking that the base vehicle was good enough for the short period they’d actually be used in a battle. Instead I went for just the set of simple bolted on side skirts taken from the image above (and the removal of the trim vane, another oddity) and the addition of some useless slat armour to the front.


I’ll maybe save some more extensive add on armour for the second BMP-1 I have. Pictures do exist of more heavily modified SVBIEDS, but I kind of didn’t want to waste all the detail Spectre put into their kit by just turning the thing into a brick on tracks.


Further Projects

In my previous post I’d mentioned some ideas for projects. Now with the most recent orders from Empress and Spectre arriving, that’s given me more time to think about my options.


With the second BMP-1 the plan so far’s been to give it an armour upgrade and possibly do something to its turret. The main contender when it comes to armour packages has been this rebel BMP-1 with ERA from a T-72 tank. Now the real vehicle failed spectacularly as the ERA exploded and tore through the thin armour of the vehicle, but its such a cool looking vehicle that I’ll contend with the stupidity (even if it has a rule that any shot with a high enough strength automatically penetrates the vehicle or something).


I’d made a mould for some ERA specifcally for this project. I’ve asked a few manufacturers if they’d be willing to make a set of ERA bricks for 1/50th scale vehicles, but nothing so far’s really come of it, so I went ahead and made some basic bricks myself. They’ll work great both for modernising old vehicles, and these field mods. πŸ™‚


Another option would be for something like this. An up-armoured AA gun in place of the vehicle’s turret. Spectre’s BMP-1 turret’s proportions are a bit off (its too tall), so it looks strange to my eye. Something like this could get around that personal issue, and is suitably weird enough for my tastes.



Besides the BMP-1 (and I have a whole load more images with conversion potential…), I kind of want a BRDM-2. I already have a pair of these for my Ukrainians, but wouldn’t mind one suitably modified for Syria. Oryx Blog has a post on the usage of these vehicles in the conflict, which mostly indicates that they aren’t common outside of certain militias and mercenaries like Wagner. Still, something like this one below, modified with what looks to be an MRAP’s turret and a style of armour common to the T-72 “Shafrah”, definitely would be a curious edition to my forces (though no more so than anything else in my collection.



Empress’ Insurgent and Taliban figures are available now as well, so with the base of my forces done up in their all black gear, its maybe time to start adding a bit more variety to my infantry collection.


Or you know, more dudes in all black could work… πŸ™‚



More work will be done throughout the week. I’m not sure where things will take me, but I have the time on my hands now to begin clearing the “to do” list and start working on new projects like this. I’ve mentioned some ideas for other settings on this blog before, and progress has been made towards working on those as well (though with nothing to show at the moment till I can throw together at least enough for a basic game).

Ideally I’ll have some vehicles and infantry done by next week, and if not for this project, a post covering what terrain I’ve been making for my other modern project. With Spectre releasing their new BTR-82A that may be the push to make a post about my own BTR-80 variants (which have been sitting there for over a month now).

Regardless, more to come. Maybe tentacles.

6 thoughts on “Syria: The Start on More Vehicles

      1. Can you cast up casts of a few joined together to make it a bit quicker?

        Something I’ve never tried so I’m just thinking out loud really.




      2. When it comes to casting parts in bulk I tend to just walk about with the moulds and a load of clay in my pocket. Over the course of a day you can get multiple pulls.

        With the ERA bricks making a larger mould would be the same as just making more of these smaller ones, and I’d have more use for the individual bricks in the long run. ERA’s placed in that many different configurations that having them even in one common position would only account for a fraction of uses.

        If it becomes an issue I’ll just make more moulds. Though being able to pull eight bricks at a time hopefully will work, as long as I spend a bit of time throughout this week creating tonnes of the things.


  1. Pingback: Another Trip to the Middle East – The Sticks

  2. Pingback: A Return to the Syrian Civil War – The Sticks

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