Monday, 26 January 2015

From Curt - 28mm Russian Civil War Sailors, Commissar & Austin-Pulitov-Kregesse Armoured Car (75 Points)


In 1963 the Soviet Union released the film ‘Optimistic Tragedy’.  It won ‘Best Revolutionary Epic’ at Cannes that year (though one wonders how many other films were in the running) and within the Soviet Union it took in 46 million tickets at the theatres (again, ticket ‘sales’ may have been encouraged by the state or perhaps even made free). Politics aside, it was regarded as an important film and was credited for its technical authenticity and production quality.

'Optimistic Tragedy' - Yes, only the Russians could come up with such a title for a movie...

The movie tells the story of a Russian Naval unit which comes under the leadership of a female commissar (named simply ‘The Commissar’) played by Margarita Volodina. The film is essentially about the struggle for the control (and identity) of a band of anarchist sailors during the Russian civil war. This group of sailors basically acts as a self-governing detachment until a female commissar is detached from Party headquarters to bring them into the fold of the Red Army. 

Russian Sailor Beefcake
The plot will remind many of today’s viewers of movies in which a steely-willed teacher slowly civilizes a classroom of unruly teenagers. It's a historically interesting film, and so inspired, I thought it a great opportunity to put together a small vignette depicting a female commissar who is urging forward her unit of Russian sailors for the glory of the Revolution.


Historically the Russian navy provided some of the hardest fighting cadres for the Bolshevik cause. They were often committed to hardest fighting in both the Revolution and the Civil War – they were depended upon for their professionalism, aggressiveness and steadiness under fire.

A.Z. Zhelezniakov, a Russian sailor who became a prominent Bolshevik commander during the Civil War.
Ironically the sailors themselves became some the last casualties of the Russian Civil War.  In 1921, when based back with the Fleet at Kronstadt, they made demands for a return to the original purpose of the Revolution, namely free elections, free speech and right of assembly. They were swiftly labeled as counter-revolutionaries and were attacked by approximately 60,000 Bolsheviks, who stormed them over the ice at Kronstadt harbor. After fierce fighting, where they caused appalling casualties amongst the attacking Red Army, the sailors either surrendered or escaped to exile in Finland. Overall, an embarrassing closing chapter for the Bolshevik's revolution.

The sailors seen here are all from Copplestone Castings. I’ve painted them in a mix of either their regular blue or white dress trousers.  I did this to add some variation as many of the poses are virtually identical so I reasoned that some men may have resorted to their dress trousers when they wore-out their blues.


The female Commissar is also from Copplestone. On the same base I’ve added a NCO from Footsore Miniatures (previously Musketeer). I had them both based, primed and ready to paint when I realized he had epaulettes on his shoulders and an Imperial rosette on his cap. This is a BIG no-no with Bolsheviks, especially after December 1917 where they made it mandatory to remove all symbols of imperial rank. In fact it was regarded as a damning insult to be called a ‘Golden Epaulette’ in the Red Army. Anyway, knife and file were duly brandished and the offending insignia was removed so he could be 'a Soldier of Equal Rights'.





As with the squad of Whites that I did a few weeks ago, I’ve placed flowers in the groundwork that identifies with their political affiliation (though with all of these fellas being festooned with red armbands and accompanied by a commissar who's waving a honkin’ huge red banner it does seem like a bit of overkill, oh well…).


The vehicle is an Austin-Putilov-Kegresse halftracked armoured car. The Kegresse variant was particular to the Bolsheviks who modified twelve Austin cars to this halftrack model.  The machine gun turrets were off-set to better allow overlapping fields of fire (and just in case you're wondering the shields on the sides of the guns were designed to protect the barrels’ water coolant casings from being holed from incoming fire).


This 1/55 scale model is from Copplestone and while a bit small for my liking, was a very easy build.  Nonetheless, when I originally unpacked it I discovered that while the resin body was excellent, some of the white metal parts were flawed in that they were missing some of their edge detail, and the existing detail was rather soft.  I sent a note to Mark Copplestone outlining my concerns to which he immediately replied, apologized for the defects, insisted on sending out another model of equal value (post free), and also stated that he would pull the Putilov model until the quality issue was resolved. Wow. Now, how’s that for excellent service?! I'm very impressed and must thank Mark again for being such a gracious vendor, he’ll definitely be getting my business again soon.

Magnetics installed for the turrets.
I painted this model in a two-tone camouflage pattern that I understand was typical for the period. Photographic evidence suggests that some of these vehicles operated without any insignia or slogans so that is what I went with here (and it allows it to be used as a captured vehicle by the Whites, Poles or even for Pulp gaming).



For scoring, these dozen figures and the armoured car will give me 75 points. Now, this places me at 125 points total for my duel with Phil (where in our 'Duel So Civil' we challenged one another to see who could first paint 100 points of any civil war infantry). This past Friday I challenged him to hit his 100 point target by his next posting day (this Thursday), or better yet, beat my par of 125.  Okay, the clock is running Mr. Hawkins, it's now your move…

47 comments:

  1. Beautiful work Curt :)

    Come on Phil - let's see what you've got :)

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    1. Thanks Tamsin.

      Indeed! Phil, I want to see some more of those lovely Carabinieros!

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    2. Yes, yes I'm in it.

      Well, I'm in the way to work, but I'll get on it sharpish later.

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  2. Finally a Russian sailor that doesn't make me wince. After painting 100 of the 15mm ones I'm pleased to say I've made a complete recovery, thanks largely to these Curt. Absolutely gorgeous!

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    1. Well Hellooo Sailor!! ;)

      Thanks Millsy, much obliged.

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  3. Very nice! One can see the amount of thought you have put into them; the dynamics of the basing and the adding of the brilliant armoured car!

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    1. Cheers Sander - coming across the Soviet film proved a great epiphany for this post (and getting the figures done).

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  4. Great looking unit and I love the history. Despite being a bit of a film buff my knowledge of Russian revolutionary cinema is limited to the Battleship Potempkin (don't thin Dr Zhivago really counts)

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    1. Yes, I had no idea about this film which is strange since it did get good press at Cannes. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube if you wish.

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  5. Great looking figures Curt, the blue is superb. I particularly like the basing on these.

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  6. Great figures, and a terrific back story. I love Soviet cinema, but haven't come across this one. I'll look it up,

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    1. As I mentioned to Martin, you can watch the whole thing on YouTube - gotta love the interweb...

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  7. Superb work - I'm not sure how you find the time to do both this level of painting and stage manage the challenge - inspiring stuff

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    1. Well by coffee provided by your good self of course! Thanks again for that Miles - we're really enjoying the various blends!

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  8. Great work Curt these will make a colorful unit on the table.

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    1. I'm glad you think so. When they were getting their first layer I was thinking they were going to be pretty darn boring, but they smartened up like good sailors once they received their final flourish of colour.

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  9. Very interesting and a very high standard as usual. Love the weathering on the vehicle. Cheers

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    1. Thanks Brendon. I think I may have overdone it a bit on the vehicles but I reason that Russia at this time was a fairly inhospitable place for road traffic.

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  10. Ooh lovely stuff! Can we get these on table?
    Cheers
    PD

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    1. You bet! I'll need to get a couple more things finished and then we'll get them properly blooded on the tabletop.

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  11. great job, pleased names of the ships on the ribbon beskozyrok

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    1. I'm afraid cyrillic looking squiggles are the best I can manage!

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  12. Inspiring work and love the extra history with it!

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    1. I like to do extra reading for my submissions - just like school!

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  13. WOW. Love the whole backstory, and such characterful figures. That armored car is absolutely fantastic.

    Those poor sailors. Bolsheviks ruing everything, man.

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    1. They are complete downers to be sure. :)

      Thanks for the comments David!

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  14. This entry really makes me want to go back to my own RCW project. Wonderfull work all round. Camo and weathering on the Austin look spot on and nice to hear of the good service from Mr. Copplestone.
    Your Mrs. Comissar cuts a striking figure in her green coat. I'm sure she'll do her best to inspire her comrades to deeds of courage in your next games.

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    1. We'll see how these lads do once they hit the table. It should be fairly equal as everything will be freshly painted!

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  15. Excellent work, that banner really looks like it is waving in the wind

    ian

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    1. Thanks Ian, I was playing around with inks and washes and thought I had ruined it. Thankfully it dried out fine.

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  16. Packed full of both charm and character. Painted as always to the very highest standards.

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    1. Cheers Clint, very kind of you to say.

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  17. Great painting work, Curt. Really wonderful their uniforms and the painting of the vehicle. I like a lot these figures from Mark Copplestone and the service he provides all of us, simply perfect.

    And now... where is Phil? Canadá is going to win the "Rodina"?

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    1. Thanks Juan! Yes, where IS that Phil fellow? I'm sure we'll hear from him soon...

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    2. Still smarting and keeping a low profile from my first defeat! :-)


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  18. Great work dude! And on top of this, I now feel a strange compulsion to go watch a "Revolutionary Epic" film competition...

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    1. If you take a shot of vodka and go outside in the cold that feeling will probably go away. ;)

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  19. Very nice work indeed Curt and I really enjoy two per base.

    Christopher

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    1. Thanks Christopher! Yes, I find with many of the skirmish systems that it often makes sense to have a couple on the same base to make moving them around easier.

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  20. Hi Curt ! you're simply extraordinary!
    where do you find all those ideas?
    Did you have rebought the Imaginarium of the Doctor Parnassus?

    all the best!

    GillesW

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    1. That's what I keep telling everyone but nobody believes me. ;P

      I loved 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus'!

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  21. Ahh, these are brilliant, Curt. Great unit and backstory with excellent painting.

    Now, it seems Thursday has rolled around again...

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    1. Thanks Phil, very kind of you.

      Yes, it IS that day again. I anticipate we'll see something from you in the coming hours. Excellent!

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