Everybody loves a cavalry figure and today I’m back with the first part of the story of my Hungarian Huszars. In this series I will cover a bit of everything from the history, modelling, painting as well as how I plan to use them on the table top. Then we will see what happens when they face the mighty Red Bear on the Don, Martin.
Lets start with a look at where we can field these troops. In Mid War we have the option of a whole Formation but by Late War we only see them as a single platoon option contained in the Rifle Company. This reflects not only the size of the cavalry forces available but the changing role they could play durig the war. In MW they act as as a reserve force and reconnaisance units for the Motor Divisions on the Don River being thrown into action at desperate points in the fighting where they made a significant impact. Whilst in LW they act in a scouting and reconnaisance role. Now in hobby terms this makes no real difference to the mounted models and in gaming terms the composition of the platoons are very similar, the difference being in MW you can attach an HMG (though it must Dismount to shoot) and in LW you can equip them with Panzerfausts (again only usable when Dismounted) this makes them a highly versatile unit add to your collection, with them being perfectly able to cross periods without needing different models.
On the subject of rules the Dismount rule is unique to Hungarian and Romanian Cavalry teams, oddly Soviet Cossacks don’t have it. This rule allows them to dismount in the movement step and by implication means they start off riding on a horse, in LW they have the Spearhead rule which if you have the opportunity is useful, you can now Spearhead further with the 20″ Cross Country Dash movement rate furhter than the wheeled Csaba Armoured Cars offer. The downside to the Dismount rule is that if you are the Defender then you can’t start dug-in as you must be mounted at the start of the game, a big disadvantage if you have a whole Formation.
This will influence how I build out my Formation for playing in the MW period as I want to be the Attacker as often as possible so I will be choosing support units designed to attack to go with them. The other major challenge with cavalry troops is they can’t Assault Armoured Tank Teams whilst mounted so you need to provide them with either lots of AT support or understand how to manouver so you can Dismount safely if you need to assault Armoured Tank Teams, don’t forget they can still Assault you! On the plus side against infantry and guns you move 6″ when charging into contact not the regular 4″ this can enable your supporting artillery to keep firing at the defenders even on turns you plan to Assault as danger close is less of a problem.
These rule impacts have influenced my collecting as a) it has affected what models I will need and b) How I have configured my initial Force, particularly for using them on mass which is what I aim to do in MW.
Now if like me you want to have both mounted and dismounted models this isn’t going to be an overly cheap Force to collect or quick to paint. On the plus side nearly every team you make will be usable in MW and most in a LW Force so you are in effect getting two Forces in making one. The exceptions to this are the integral infantry AT options and 50mm Mortar Teams which are period specific, the rest of the infantry is duel period usable.
The MW Huszar Squadron Formation its a pretty basic one with an HQ, 3 Huszar Squadrons, a 40mm AT platoon and a 75mm Mountain Howitzer Battery. Looking at the LW Rifle Formation the 75mm guns aren’t an option so I decided to leave these out of my shopping for now (Battlefront dont make them either!). I will start with a Support platoon of 105mm Artillery instead to provide some artillery. I will need some heavier artillery guns anyway and these are available in both periods (even if they aren’t particularly favourably pointed in LW). To complement the cavalry I will need a couple of platoons of infantry for dismounting as well. Each Huszar platoon can have an attached HMG Team in MW these can be re-assigned to form an HMG platoon as well which is handy. So my initial shopping list consisted of these units but, how many did I need?
From the catalogue book sections (Hungarian Steel/Bagrtion Axis-Allies) I saw the Calvalry only come in the small platoon size but in game terms I would want at least one of my MW plattons to be the bigger size for conducting those game winning mounted charges so I would need to buy more than just 3 packs also I needed some extra horses to model up as the HMG teams when attached in MW and to make an HQ. Overall I settled on buying 5 squadron blisters, this provided me with enough horses to make up 16 Large based Teams, 5 Medium base HQ/Squadron Leader Teams which translates into an HQ, two 7 Team platoons and one 5 Team platoon and 3 Mounted HMG teams with minimal unwanted models. If you only want 2 full sized platoons or 3 small platoons you will need just 4 packs.
To represent these when they dismount I purchased two Rifle Platoons as these have all the LW and MW parts as well as the pioneer flame thrower models in them so are good value. This gave me enough Rifle Teams to fully dismount my HQ and 2 cavalry platoons or field them as 2 smaller sized MW/LW Rifle Platoons plus an HQ or 1 can be used 1 for dismounts and 1 as an Assault Pioneer Support platoon in MW, basically there are loads of options which I really like to have. Additionally I brough a 7/31 HMG platoon, the AT gunners and 4x 40mm AT gun sprues (GSO226). I already had the models for the 105mm Artillery left over from my LW Assault Gun Battery Army Deal box from a previous un finished project which saved me some money.
The bit ot keep quiet about!
- 5x HU708 Huszar Squadron @ £16.50
- 2 x HU702 Rifle Platoon @ £16.50
- 1x HU704 7/31 HMG Teams@£8
- 1xHSO104 anti tank crews @£11.50
- 4x GSO226 40mm anti tank gun @£3.50
- Total spend = £149 (excludes 105mm guns @£25.50)
What did this give me in terms of Forces.
Overall its quite a large collection of parts considering I was only really after a Cavalry Formation, but it provides the options below which form a solid starting point for gaming in either period.
As you can see neither of these is enough points on its own for a full sized game but interestingly they are almost the same number of points at 54 and 53 by sacrificing the ability to replace my Cavalry teams with Infantry ones when I dismount (this is permitted in the rules) I do have the option of fielding a 100 point MW twin Huszar/Motor Rifle Formation list which like the real Hungarian forces on the Don was rather short of artillery and Anti-tank capability but which could be fixed with the addition of another gun platoon or using one of my Panzer Regiment 11 tank platoons that I built back in early 2022 as German allied Support platoon. In LW I’ll be combining the Rifle Formation with my existing part finished Assault Guns.
Here things are pretty simple you just need to clean up the models (there was quite a bit of flash on some of mine) and follow the online basing guide assemble them, the only thing you have to model are the pack animals for the HMG Cavalry teams, the rest is straight out of the packets (unless you want to modify them if doing that you will need a mix of models and I’d recommend carfully reading Caseys article on the BF website ). A quick way to make the pack horses is to take a walking posed horse (there are two different model choices) and use the ammunition boxes from the AT gun sprue and a bit of modelling putty (green stuff or even pva soaked paper) to make a saddle blanket. wrap your blanket over the horses back and stick an ammo crate on either side and hey presto a pack animal if you have a spare suitable HMG in your bits box you can stick that on the top to fill the gap between the crates or add some other bits of spare soft stowage you may have. I actually used some pack horse models from another manufacturer for mine.
My rider figures are painted following the guide in Colours of War. I used a mix of based before painting (the Rifles and Horses) and painted before basing approaches (riders, guns). I often mix and match this depending on the detail on the model I am going to be painting and how much access I need to the whole figure.
However, you will need to do a bit of research to decide on how to paint your horses. I did mine using GW Contrast paint – not because they have lots of detail but because it acts more like a wash and allowed me to create a variety of similar yet not identically coloured horses very simply by changing the sequence I used for each coat. I’ve painted a lot of cavalry over the years on the one thing GW Contrast or Army Painter Speed Paints make possible is getting more subtle variety into the colour without mixing up paint colours or spending loads of time on them (both of which I have done before).
Let me explain more. I decided after doing a bit of the research the majority of my horses would be bays – a bog standard mid brown colour, the remainder will be an other colour for visual variety. In my case either blacks, greys or chestnuts, I didn’t find any evidence to support pie bald or palamino colouration. To reflect this I choose to paint 50% of my horses as my primary bay colour and 50% another colour (i.e handy as there are 4 on most bases). My basic brown for the bay colour was two coats of GW Contrast Garghak’s Sewer. My chestnut mix was achieved with 1 coat of Gore-grunta Fur over painted with the Garaghak’s Sewer (or the reverse combination, the out come is different) and the darker brown by over painting the base brown with Basilicanum Grey – I also painted the manes and tails this way for some basic horses to make them darker. The near black horses are either two coats of Basilicanum Grey for a near black or Basilicanum Grey over Garaghak’s Sewer for a very dark black-brown. For the light greys I used two coats of Apothecary White and for the darker grey its was Basilicum Black over Apothecary White. Sounds a lot but it’s just 4 colours giving me 8 variations.
Now you will have noted I have said I used 2 coats, what I found important was that the second was applied afer the first had partially dried this avoided two things;
1) the colours mixing – I wasn’t trying to wet blend them together and,
2) overpainting the colour below completely.
What I found was that by the time I had put one coat on all four horses on a base it was at a suitably dried level for the second to take as I wanted without mixing. This I discovered by happy accident on my part doing a few test models to see how the contrast paint colours looked (luckily I had a few extra horses to experiment on). All of this was done over GW Contrast Wraith Bone Primer. After the contrast paint was on I left the models overnight for it to fully cure so it didn’t reactivate whilst doing the detailing, this saved on me having to be too neat at this stage and I could use a large size 4 brush to speed progress up as I didn’t need to avoid areas. For the detailing I reverted to Vallejo Model Colour paint (VMC). For the tack and girth strap I went with VMC 984 Flat Brown, to add socks to legs and points and stars to heads my choice was VMC 993 White Grey which gave a contrast without being too white. The hooves were dry brushed VMC 995 German Grey or VMC 988 Khaki and metal parts picked out in VMC 863 Dark Gunmetal, covering the bit fittings and the odd horse shoe from a raised hoof.
So there you have my journey so far and a few pointers on how you can paint your own cavalry units (Hungarian or other), next time I’ll cover my supporting platoons- Martin