My understanding is that they were pressed in during the early German advances and they were given guns, but no new uniforms (these came later, when they looked more like your traditional Russian troopers). They were clearly effective as they earned the nickname "the Black Death" from the Germans and were loathe to give up a position once they held it.
Great work Jamie! These fellows look great, and I can sympathize with your description of the process of painting black - it's too light, then too dark, then too light...I've been there many times! And you describe the experience of Battlefront very well - there is a lot to pick at, and they can be a frustrating bunch, but overall they really do facilitate a lot of interest - and gaming - in the periods they opt to tackle. And while artillery on the table is dumb, the overall game is a fun excuse to push toy soldiers around and blow stuff up!These Soviet naval lads will be part of just such an exercise, I'm sure. Well done Jamie! That will 108 points for your score!