Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Gun

Some time ago I heard interview with C.J. Chivers on his book The Gun on NPR. Ever since that time I've wanted to read the book, but was reluctant to get it in hardback and wasn't able to find an audio version of it at or through my library. A couple weeks back I took the plunge and decided to just purchase the mp3 CD version of it.

C.J. Chivers

The Gun tells the history of the AK-47. While not my normal fare the book does have lots of relevancy to my Post-Soviet war obsession, after all it is the AK-47 and its variants that I always seem to be painting. It was a great listen. The book includes a biography of Mikhail Kalashnikov and a detailed discussion of the development of the gun its multiple variants, many knock-offs and true successor the AK-74. This material was certainly interesting, but equally interesting were the many side stories and chapters that Chivers includes to flesh out the story. My favorites were those concerning its predecessors the Gatling and the Maxim, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the development and initial problems of the M-16 and the exploitation of Cold War stockpiles. I will definitely have to read more about the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and could one day see painting some figures for it. My main gripe is the book devotes too much time to the M-16. I'm not entirely sure this was appropriate, perhaps Chivers should have chosen to write a sequel The Other Gun: The Story of the M-16 instead. Despite that small complaint it was worth the 19 hours I spent listening to it. I'll definitely recommended this one to some friends and family members.

József Tibor Fejes, Budapest, Hungary, 1956.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

More Pro-Russian Forces

I had so much fun making and painting pro-Russian fighters for use in Transnistrian War battles that I decided to do another batch. For some of these figures I did some head swaps ... I can't stop myself! In this batch I began my transition to using Rolf's multi-purpose figures to represent the KLMK camouflaged uniforms without hoods I've seen in pictures. My next batch will be primarily composed of those. For two of the figures I decided to paint their chi-com ammo rigs medium blue to reflect a video I've seen with such rigs being worn in Bendery. It was a good excuse to use a color I don't use too much. Painting all these sun bunnies sure took a long time (2 evenings), but in the end I think it is worth it.

RH Models RUSAK* with head swap; MULT20AK; MULT*AK with head swap; RUSBG* with head swap

RH Models RUSRADB; RUSPKM* with head swap; RUSSNIV; MULT*AK with head swap

RH Models MULT*AK with head swap; RUSAKH

Cossacks in Moldova during Moldova/Transnistria War.

Pro-Russian fighter in Dubossary, Moldova (June, 1992).

For the figure below I was inspired by one of my favorite pictures of Pro-Russian volunteers in Bendery. The camouflage suit the man in foreground is wearing according to my Russian Camouflage book is called KZS and is made of some sort of cheap, burlap-like fabric. It doesn't look too comfortable and fades like crazy to colors that range anywhere from bright yellow to dark green. The picture shows a hole in the suit near the guy's elbow, so I did my best to reproduce that with some green stuff.

RH Models RUSRPG* with head swap

Russian-speaking nationalists fighting in Bendery, Moldova (June 29th, 1992).

Lastly, just for more fun I painted up a figure inspired by set of pictures I've found of Georgians resting in Gagry. The guy in the picture is definitely wearing the Soviet panama cap with the strap used to bend up the sides. A few of Rolf's bush hat guys seem close enough to me, so I painted one up to match the picture.


Georgian fighters in Gagry, Abkhazia (September, 1992).

Monday, April 25, 2016

Confessions of a Mullah Warrior

For my last book I made a slight deviation and read Confessions of a Mullah Warrior by Masood Farivar. Confessions is a the memoir of an Afghan who in the late in 1980's fought against the Soviets. The Afghanistan-Soviet war definitely it isn't a Post-Soviet conflict, but I certainly find it interesting ... and I have a lot of figures suitable for it now. I'm a big fan of war memoirs so I went with this one.

Farivar (born 1969) grew up in a relatively middle class family in the town of Sheberghan, Afghanistan. His grandfather was a revered mullah and his father was a highly educated, prideful man. With his family he escaped into Pakistan and lived as a refugee. There he received a religious education, became more faithful and eventually became a mujaheddin fighter. After the war he was able to attend Harvard University and work as a journalist in the US. The book concludes by describing two return journeys he made to Afghanistan one while the country was under control of the Taliban and one afterwards.

Farivar's description of his experience as a mujaheddin does not include much interaction with Soviet troops (slight bummer), but he does a great job explaining the situation and motivation of the later fight and civil war. I doubt there are many mujaheddin memoirs in English or as balanced as this one, so although my knowledge of the Soviet-Afghanistan war is still somewhat limited I consider this book to be a true gem.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Pro-Russian Forces

Fighting in Bendery, 1992.

Inspired by a couple of videos I found on You Tube of Pro-Russian fighters (Transnistrian forces were composed of volunteers, Cossacks, elements of the Soviet 14th Army and handful of Ukrainians) street fighting in Bendery, summer 1992, I decided to paint a bunch of RH Model Russians.

The videos I've seen and pictures I've collected show the forces wearing all manner of headgear so lots of fun head swaps were in order. Transnistrian fighters appear to occasionally wear orange-red headbands and armbands so for this batch I added one of those (pro-Moldovan forces on the other hand wore white headbands/armbands). The figure in a panama cap was inspired by a picture of an Abkhazian I've found, but I suppose he could also be fighting in Moldova during this period as well. I experimented a bit with the green used for these. For half of the figures I went with a equal mix of Dark Green 860, SS Bright Green 833 and Yellow Green 881 to produce the more yellowish green used and for a richer green I went with Richard of Cold War Hot Hot Hot's 2/3 Reflective Green 890 and 1/3 SS Bright Green 833. There's evidence for lots of variation (fading?) so more mixes could be possible. For the Cossack officer caps I went with a mix of 2/3 Medium Camouflage Brown and 1/3 Brown Violet.

I've got a bunch more of guys like these in the queue, more KLMK dudes and then lots of khaki. The Cossack forces in particular should be fun to paint. Last week I won an award at work for a short project I did and I put the money towards a resin casting set. Fun stuff coming in the future!

RH Models RUSAK* with head swap

RH Models RUSCOMOFF; RUSRPK* with head swap; RUSAKBH; RUSCOM* with head swap

RH Models RUSRPGKNV (one with head swap); RUSAKB

RH Models RUSAKH; RUSAKB, RUSAKB with head swaps

Pro-Russian militia and Cossacks marching to defend Bendery in 1992.

Abkhazian fighters celebrating in 1992.

Russian troops (of the 14th Army?) on the border of Moldova and Dniepr (April, 1992).

Transnistrian separatist, Bendery (June 30th, 1992).

An Italian re-enactor group, Hot-Shots, doing a Russian speaking separatist impression.