A Return to the Syrian Civil War

This week I’ve been once again fiddling with my Syrian Civil War collection as I continue to expand my Jihadist forces and begin to work on some more generic fighters.

For a start, here’s my Jihadists to date.
(Edit, ah, minus one SVBIED which was doing a good job blending in like a brick among the rest of my collection)
I think now the force is sitting at a reasonable enough state for the average game, barring lacking some weapons teams carrying machine guns, ATGM, or anti-material rifles. Its time then perhaps to refocus and start covering other factions, like say the Mercenaries, Government or Kurdish forces which I’ve considered in the past. That’ll need a think, with each side requiring their own style of vehicles and figures of course.
With that, here’s what’s been painted since my last post

Motorcycle mounted DShK

This has been the main thing which I’d wanted to make if ever covering this particular conflict. ISIS and other groups have made use of this sort of mount in not insignificant numbers as a zippy piece of firepower on the battlefield. Commonly operated by one man (though I have seen crews of two), he’ll drive up to where he’s needed, hop off the bike, deploy the bipod, then let loose with the gun – before scurrying off again.
For my first attempt at one of these I played it safe and went for a simple pose. The model’s made from a bike by Empress miniatures, with a DShK machine gun by Spectre Miniatures on the back. Its mounted just to the back seat – which I disguised by adding a bent paperclip for support, and a pair of bags from Warlord Games to carry the ammo. The bipod’s the original which came with the gun. As for the figure, he’s the standard bike’s rider, though with a head swap (West Wind) and his right arm and leg coming from Warlord Games kits.
There’s another of these Empress bikes sitting unbuilt destined for this role. He’ll likely be driving the bike – as the various ways you shot one of these tends to have the gunner standing fairly far back behind the gun over front of the bike. I’d rather stick to the same base size for simplicity’s sake, making a pose like the one below a bit difficult.

Empress Miniatures MENA Insurgents

10 more of these fighters go to join the Jihadists. Empress’ figures are intended to be generic Middle Eastern militants, so they do well as these ISIS fighters once a bit of black’s added to their outfits. The models are perfect for representing the sorts of combatant in these modern conflicts- with a mix of styles of webbing, clothing, and all sorts of different guns.
 I wasn’t too adventurous with how they’re painted. Again a dominant black colour with a bit of camo here and there to keep the forces distinct if I’m ever playing a game with similar figures. They’re perhaps more wargamy than the real people would be in that regard, as to be honest, it would be difficult to tell most of the factions apart as most aren’t quite so distinct.
Yes, the ginger tipped beard was mandatory.

Not quite Russians anymore…

This second lot began as figures from Tiny Terrain Models’ the First Chechen War Kickstarters, just with simple head swaps using West Wind’s ancients range. With new heads (with massive beards) they go from being Russian VDV to some militants geared up in surplussed Eastern bloc load outs.
These are supposed to be more generic than my existing Jihadists – there to fit into forces as I need them – though with their beards they’d maybe not suit as well for say the Kurds (though all that green camo certainly would). I have a tonne of these VDV figures from that pair of Kickstarters Tiny Terrain Models ran – intended to be used purely to represent modern irregular forces, as well, I don’t see myself covering the Battle of Grozny any time soon (I hope …I have enough on my plate already!). 🙂


This was posted as a WIP before. Its not as involved a conversion as the last time I got a hold of one of these Empress T-72 kits, but does the job. 😉
With this I’ve gone for something which isn’t distinctly linked to any one faction. In fact its based on a pair of regime tanks – though without their tell tale overlapping armour (which is something I’d love to do, even if just on a pickup truck). Its a mix of sand bags, slat and spaced armour, along with some old ERA bricks looted off another tank. Typical of the sorts of mess you see in this war.
I’ve been adverse to this sort of plain colour when painting vehicles before. The matte finish just looks a bit samey. A little graphite from a pencil goes a way for a bit of wear and tear though. And the sandy effect was done by letting a mix of some Games Workshop Seraphim Sephia ink with various yellow paints sink into the crevices to give it a more used look. 🙂
It wasn’t too complicated a build – I posted a WIP earlier – just different types of plasticard, and ERA bricks which I’d made a mould for to churn them out. The sandbags at the front are milliput, with a few rubbish bags by Fenris Games I believe.. Stowage is all from Footsore Miniatures.  For most games one of these will be rare, so I think just the one will be enough – and I can sub in a tank built for my Ukrainian conflict games as necessary if another’s ever needed (even the European camo isn’t out of place for the Syrian Civil War).
For now that’s all that’s been painted for this particular project (though not necessarily everything I’ve worked on in the past few weeks). As usual there’s more building going on than painting. Here’s the state of some projects other than these finished ones.

BMP-1 with ZPU-4

Initially this was going to be a completely new vehicle, but I was looking at that SVBIED which I’d made earlier from this Spectre Miniatures BMP-1 and considering just how much I’d actually use it. Visually the sort of armour you see on a SVBIED isn’t that different from a regular up-armoured vehicle, and with the original turret having been removed there was already a platform to add the anti-aircraft gun to.
My intention now is for it to function in either role. I’ve only just started on the new turret, but making a cap to cover up the turret hole if its being used as a SVBIED aught not to be too difficult. Obviously the interesting thing here is that mess of an anti-aircraft gun. It seems that they just weld on armour like this directly onto the gun’s mount -even when its things as incongruous as slat armour covering an exposed driver.
I would have liked to have had the guns facing forward, rather than in the more idle position that they’re in now …but those Spectre AA guns can be so fiddly to put together than I wasn’t stressing myself with the extra work. It looks the part now and will give any force a fair amount of fire power (especially when the modern games we’ve been playing one of those AA guns has been overkill for tearing up light armoured vehicles and infantry).

BMP-1 with BTR-80 Turret

Where the other BMP-1 went. When scanning through some images of Kurdish vehicles I came across a few conversions where these vehicles had their original turrets replaced with the ones from BRDM-2/ BTR-60. This usually happens when the existing turret’s damaged, but the Kurd’s vehicles are enough of a kludge that its any guess.
I do have a BTR-60 turret, though that’s for a full BTR-60 kit. There’s a few spare BTR-80 turrets left over from a trio of conversions which I’ll have posted here eventually that fit the part instead.  I’m 50/50 on leaving this as it is or adding more armour, though the armour which I had made for this when it was carrying the ZPU-4 made it look like a brick (I’ll save those bits for a scratch build later).

Truck mounted Zis-3

Something which I’ve had around for ages now, but not gotten around to finalising. My original intent with this was to sculpt up some crew, though priorities kept pushing making those back (and I couldn’t justify all the work just to paint them and keep them as one offs. I am still in need of crew for that German artillery piece I made earlier however). Strictly speaking this is based on a few vehicles from Yemen, though similar mods have turned up in Syria in much smaller numbers. For one the truck based mount is going to be much better than a pickup truck at least…
This is a cannibalised bit of terrain, so the truck’s already painted. I made the bed from
some textured plasticard,then built up the armoured plates, before adding the gun. The Zis-3’s from Warlord Games – stuck on a pair of round based for its plinth. Admitedly the gun’s 1/56th scale, so its a bit small, but not too noticeable. The stowage is a mix from Warlord, Rubicon, Footsore …and long forgotten companies which have wound up in the bits box.
As for crew. I’ve settled for this pair. A Taliban Mortar gunner by Empress, and one of the Soviets from the original gun by Warlord. I may add a third carrying a shell, though don’t have anything suitable at the moment -and it may get too cramped (you usually see these operated by one guy to be honest). They’ll be painted separately.

Civilian truck

As for terrain, if I’m stealing a piece away I have to add something back. I bought this thinking that I’d turn it into another artillery truck. These diecasts aren’t uncommon, so I may do that down the line, for now though one big gun’s probably enough.
I rebuilt the damaged bed entirely out of plasticard in a bit of a slap dash fashion. For now I’m between leaving it empty for some versatility, or adding a few items as pictured just to save messing with it and give it rigidity – probably the latter (you can hear me convincing myself as I type this…).

StG-44 armed Fighters

As for what’s happening with more infantry. Well there’ll always be more of those. For now though, whilst looking through my WWII bits for some donors for my Star Wars project, it hit me that a few of the figures with StG-44s would be great for Syria.
The Soviets donated thousands of these guns to Syria to fight the Israelis. A few years ago they were discovered and quickly turned up everywhere in the conflict – before the ammunition ran out and they petered away. As I’ve said in previous posts, The blog WWII After WWII has a great article on the subject I’d recommend reading (and well, give that site a look in general, its perfect for modern games – especially as an excuse to use the glut of WWII kits out there).
A rebel with the Free Syrian Army reacts
For the moment there’s a set of four of these guys I’ll paint up. Not much needed changed other than re-gigging their webbing and blousing their trousers over their German style boots a bit. Oh, and replacing the Stalhelms with big bushy beards and the odd headscarf of course. 😉


For now that’s how things have progressed since my last update on this particular project. There’s big plans ahead come October when the Ultracombat Kickstarter ships – where the plan’s to paint up some Russians in desert camo to have an opposition force to these Jihadists. Till then I’ll keep chugging away at this and other projects.
Over the week or so I’ll see what I can do to throw together another post or two on what else I’ve been doing recently. I’ve started a bit of a 28mm Star Wars project, am finally getting around to tidying up a trio of BTR-80 variants I was meant to have finished months ago, and could find some pictures out of the terrain I’ve been building recently. Hmn, and I’m not sure if I ever posted any of my WWII zombies on my alternative history WWII blog , but this may be the place to do it. 🙂
Til then, as usual comments are always welcome. You can follow this and my other stuff here and over in one of my various forum threads on the Lead Adventure forum by clicking on the Forum Links tab at the top of this page. Righto, cheers folks.


4 thoughts on “A Return to the Syrian Civil War

  1. That is a great collection of work.

    I really like the motorbikes. Thanks to your inspiration I’ll try something similar in 20mm I think.

    Have you got any further with your mods to the Star Wars system? I did read your reply to my comment on your p-revious post. I don’t think Spectre would be for for me.

    Part of me thinks that wargames need to be bloddier than real life so a game can be decided (gaming hours of lying around trading half aimed shots isn’t fun regardless of how realistic that is) but at the same time you don’t want things to be so deadly, as you described Spectre to be, that it just ends up as a random dice fest or who has the biggest gun. Meaningful player decesions need to be in the game.




    1. The bikes have shown up all over the Middle East, not just in Jihadist hands, so they’re pretty good if you’re looking for an equivalent to a HMG weapon team for games. As people have taken to firing SPG-9 from the shoulder, you could probably attempt to stick one of those on instead as well (because it doesn’t have to be practical for someone to try it…), if you’re looking for some variety.

      So far we’ve played just the two modern games of Star Wars: Legion. The second one involved tweaking some of the stats and adding in a small squad of Special Forces. In the month since then we’d played some more regular Legion (and Mythic Battles plus Lord of the Rings :P). Going back to the vanilla rules for a bit has probably influenced some further modifications, but for the moment we haven’t played any more games. I’ll talk to the other player about it this Tuesday.

      Preferably it’ll be worked on further sooner rather than later. I don’t have any of the counters or dice for it, so can’t play it myself. Once the system’s down I may see if I can play it against others – as I have a friend who wants to play some Middle Eastern games. I made some of his terrain collection way back:

      Legion was good in its firefights. Where if you had cover they’d go back and forth for a turn or two till either side was whittled down, or you’d role very well and do enough damage to cause them to retreat (suppression is pretty important in that system – if you gain more suppression tokens than your morale you have to keep your head down, double that and you’re running). Whilst if you’re out in the open you may lose a fair few figures.

      However, in neither case is that a guarantee, and even with us using RPGs and Grenades constantly (which removes cover bonuses), that didn’t mean the defender just died – like in Spectre. The system erred more towards the fun element than realistic, and not everyone wants all their guys to go down in the first round of shooting.

      We’ll see how things develop. Though all we’ve done so far is create the new units and weapons and that’s been enough for a game (its unecessary to go for extra rules like calling in air support / mortars at this time. And there’s rules for that stuff in Legion if we feel like it).


      (That’s the unmodified version of what we have so far. I’ll likely remove the Sergeant and up the Officer’s stats. The RPG had lost one white dice from an earlier version as if you fired a full squad’s load out we ran out of dice… – and that’s without giving them a realistic set of weapons (which has me wanting to substitute the three vehicles one side has for a single BMP-3 just to show how overpowered one of those would be in a wargame at some point)).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sounds like you are getting the system dialled in to wher you want it now. Suppression is really important when there is so much lead flying around (thanks to everyone have assault rifles).

        How are you managing to model the difference between the Middle Eastern ‘spray and pray’ and trained troops who actually aim?

        It is a balance I’ve found hard to get right in my own games.




      2. In Legion’s rules there’s three types of dice. White, Black and Red. Each with a higher number of hits/ “surges” on them (every die has one crit). In the base rules for instance Stormtroopers use White dice so miss all the time, whilst Rebel troopers have Black ones.

        For our games set in Ukraine we’ve been erring towards the soldiers being competent, so they have fair stats. If I were to add another entry to the list I’d call it “Militia” and have them use White dice, but you get more of them.

        Special Weapons tend to have flat stats across whoever’s using them. Which is fine. I.e. a LMG uses a load of white Dice, but an RPG gets White and Red (from what I can remember). That means units which aren’t as great don’t have their weapons neutered – as an RPG hitting you shot from some idiot is going to do as much damage as from a guy who knows what he’s doing.

        Its a give and take. We’ve only played two games, but it’ll get there eventually.

        Liked by 1 person

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