I recently completed an anti-aircraft platoon for my Soviet Army. I have always been a fan of this model and when I had faced Soviet players in the past found that the AA gun mounted on the back of a truck really added a unique element to an otherwise rubber-stamped feeling army.
One thing that I like about this unit is that it is actually very versatile. I have found that I really appreciate anything in FoW that can fill several roles or can be modified to fit a scenario before the game starts. Obviously this platoon can be used to scare of aircraft… it’s an AA unit, but thanks to the mobility of the truck that it is mounted on and FoW’s ‘portee’ rules, this unit has some utility if there are no aircraft around. The gun team can dismount and become a AA man packed gun team. This feature of the unit allows AA gun teams to integrate with an infantry force nicely. As man packed gun teams the dismounted DShKs can be dug in to a Strelkovy line to add defensive fire support, or help hold an objective. The fact that one of the platoon’s gun teams is the platoon commander gives a small buff to the unit as the command team cannot be isolated by enemy fire (priority target: infantry teams). The DShK is a a proper heavy machine-gun. Being part of the .50 family it has an AT of 4 and a firepower of 5+. This means that it can be a threat to armored cars, light tanks, and even medium tanks in defensive fire.
On the attack the DShK can contribute a bit to shooting out dug in infantry as well. Its better than 6 firepower and it’s 4 rate of fire give it a slight edge over other infantry weapons for shooting teams in bulletproof cover. If dismounted these guys can keep up with an infantry advance, or if kept on their trucks, they can act as an additional maneuver unit. The platoon has only 3 teams, so they are very fragile and can be an easy kill for your opponent. This shouldn’t be underestimated. It would be easy to accidentially throw these guys away, and unless you are gaining the benefit of saving shots from something more critical by sacrificing the AA MG Platoon, getting them shot off the table for no reason really needs to be avoided (duh… easier said than done).
Great fit for all lists
Most AA units in FoW are very cheap, but this one is a bargain points-wise even by those standards. At 60 points they are an easy fit to round out an army, bringing you up to an even amount of platoons. If you can neutralize a light armored attack or an airstrike they quickly start earning those points in your list. If you can use them to jump a target of opportunity, or support an attack on an objective then you really are seeing them prove their worth.
Building & painting the models
As I had mentioned before I like the way this unit adds a visual dimension to the rest of a Soviet Army. Having a couple of trucks in an infantry or armored battalion really adds character. I opted to employ the popular technique of magnetizing the gun to the base via a sub-base made with a bit of the plastic from the blister that the unit came in. The sub base has a bit of metal in it which allows it to stick to magnets mounted in the base as well as the bed of the truck. If I were to do this unit again, I would use larger magnet – the magnetization as is not isn’t very strong. The 1/8th” magnets I used are adequate for the job, but it would be possible to shake the gunner loose from the base or truck with little effort.
I avoided adding grass to the sub-base, but did paint it brown and texture it with sand. The goal here was to create a surface which wouldn’t be dramatically out of place on both the truck bed and the actual gun team base. I may pull more highlights out of the greens in the truck paint scheme. On the fence with that at the moment. I opted to mount the truck to a base to give it a bit more stability. I don’t usually do this with my vehicles, but I think that I will be from now one with the ones that have separate metal wheels. It really helps the truck feel finished and keeps it stable on the gaming surface.