Early Slammers

The Slammers originated as the ‘Auxiliary Regiment’, part of the Friesland regular forces; however, around 317TW Colonel Hammer forcibly went rogue and broke away to make his unit into an independent mercenary regiment. You can read more about the early days of the regiment on the Crucible website where you’ll also find a playsheet. It’s also the subject of the story But Loyal to His Own in volume one of The Complete Hammer’s Slammers.

They took with them their equipment, which was similar to that used by the Friesland Regulars at the time. The Icarus M2 Blower tank was already being introduced, although initially it was in the form of the M2, with a 15cm gun and a smaller turret than later versions. The M2A1, with the same turret but a 20cm gun (and somewhat cramped by the addition of the larger weapon) was just coming into production at the time of the breakaway. The early M2 also had a 1cm pintel weapon rather than the ubiquitous 2cm tribarrels which came in with the M2A1. A laser-armed tank, the M2A3, was evaluated but rejected by the Slammers, although it did find its way into service with other mercenary outfits.

Interestingly, the M2A1 wasn’t part of the initial equipment trials, as Icarus had not officially confirmed its existence at that time. They only announced that they were working on the upgunned tank after the Friesland government had signed a contract for a large order for several hundred 15cm M2s along with an even larger number of M6 Combat Cars, both for the Auxiliary Regiment and the Friesland regular forces, including the Iron Guards regiment. Secretary Tromp was reportedly furious and accused Icarus of trying to unload their older model vehicles on him; Friesland lawyers tried their best to get out of the deal, but the contract was deemed watertight by the Bonding Authority and shipments from Earth started almost immediately. Had he lived long enough to find out the truth, Tromp would have been even more incandescent…

In fact, Hammer had agreed with Icarus to initially supply the Frieslanders with 15cm tanks, knowing that Icarus would be able to fulfil the order almost straightaway from existing stocks. This got his new Auxiliaries up to strength and into action immediately, before any of the waverers in Tromp’s government got cold feet about the idea of mercenaries serving under Friesland colours and pulled the whole project. But Hammer had also secretly negotiated with the Icarus CEO to supply his unit with small numbers of M2A1s to replace early combat losses, and the Auxiliaries would help with field evaluation of the new model.

There was a prototype M2A1 at Camp Loopvlak, the desert facility where the equipment was under test; but it was missing from the inventory submitted to the Friesland quartermaster corps by Icarus. It was kept hidden in a hangar when Tromp and the FDF top brass came to inspect their new vehicles, and was even given the same serial number (H50) as one of the other M2s in case it was inadvertantly spotted.

M2A1 prototype on test, taken from drone camera footage

When the time came for Hammer to break away from Friesland, this small number of heavier tanks gave his unit a qualitative edge over the Iron Guards which is one of the reasons why they were able to overwhelm them so quickly on the Southport starport apron on Melpomene.

The Regiment also had lighter vehicles, in the form of the Icarus M6 in a number of variants. The basic combat car was armed with two 1cm powerguns in an open backed hull (the fighting compartment could be covered by removable armoured shutters). Mortar and missile versions existed, plus a rather odd configuration with twin buzzbomb launchers in a retractable mount. Finally, a model with a twin 3cm-powergun turret provided heavy support.

The photos here were taken at the Regiment’s secret test facility, Camp Loopvlak, during initial evaluations (hence the rare sight of a laser armed M2A3 in Slammers’ markings).

HS15-111d – M2 15cm Blower Tank – £9.00
HS15-111e – M2A1 20cm Blower Tank – £9.00
HS15-111f – M2A3 Laser Tank – £9.00
HS15-116 – M6 Combat Car – £6.00
HS15-116a – M6A5 Support Car – £6.00
HS15-116b – M6A7 Mortar Car – £6.00
HS15-116c – M6A8 Buzzbomb Car – £6.00
HS15-116d – M6 Missileer – £6.00

The Great Leap Forward

Before we get on to release news, a quick update on orders as I prepare to leave for Crisis; I’ve caught up on all outstanding ones now, but because I’m off to Belgium shortly I won’t be able to send anything this weekend. So if you have an order with us, it’s sitting in the post bag at the workshop and will ship early next week.

Before I leave for the channel tunnel, I’ve had time to press the GO button on the new spaceships of the Chinese Democratic Socialist Union now we can cast the resin dreadnought hulls again. There are twelve new models, ranging from massive dreadnoughts down to tiny fighter craft – and I will have stocks of these at Crisis tomorrow.

At the top end of the scale is the Longzi dreadnought, a huge four-engined behemoth over 100mm long. The resin hull has two twin forward firing railguns and four twin gun turrets in metal, plus a number of other separate parts. The slightly smaller Jiangxi dreadnought has the same railgun mounts with a single turret and two metal engines.

There are three cruiser classes, in decreasing order of size these are the Guangdong, Wuxi and Haitun. All three are single piece metal models.

Supporting the larger vessels are four types of escort – the workhorses are the Xingzi destroyer and Shenyang frigate. These are supported by the larger Shaoxing and Kaifeng destroyers.

The smallest models are the three fighter types – the Wusheng multi-role fighter, Zhengsheng attack fighter and Yongsheng escort fighter.

We’ve rejigged the contents of the CDSU fleet packs to accommodate the new vessels; the patrol fleet has briefly been retired since it contains models that we haven’t yet replaced, but there is also a new second fleet pack.

SFS-500 – Longzi Dreadnought – £9.00
SFS-501 – Jiangzi Dreadnought – £6.50
SFS-520 – Guangdong Heavy Cruiser – £3.25
SFS-521 – Wuxi Escort Cruiser – £3.00
SFS-522 – Haitun Light Cruiser – £2.50
SFS-530 – Kaifeng Heavy Destroyer – £2.00
SFS-531 – Xingxi Destroyer – £1.25
SFS-532 – Shaoxing Attack Destroyer – £2.00
SFS-540 – Shenyang Frigate – £1.00
SFS-560 – Wusheng Fighter (x12) – £1.50
SFS-561 – Zhengsheng Attack Fighter (x12) – £1.50
SFS-563 – Yongsheng Escort Fighter (x12) – £1.50

SFSP-501 – CDSU Reserve Fleet – £22.00
SFSP-502 – CDSU Carrier Group – £22.00
SFSP-504 – CDSU Battle Fleet – £22.00

These new designs replace all of the existing CDSU range with the exception of the already updated Shanzi carrier. Seasoned Chinese Grand Admirals will have spotted that not all of the older designs have replacements, there are still a few gaps, so expect further CDSU reinforcements in the coming months.

Kopis Kollection

Now that our resin casting abilities are fully restored, we can crack on with our backlog of delayed new releases. Today we have a new 15mm vehicle for the Ander’s Legion mercenary unit, part of the Hammer’s Slammers range.

The Kopis recce vehicle came about following some discussions on the Hammer’s Slammers Facebook page when the original Anders models were released. The Legion’s Xiphos tank destroyer has a bit the look of a WW2 Marder tank destroyer to it, so we stretched the analogy further and took the idea of the Sdkfz 140/1 Aufklärungspanzer, creating the Kopis.

There are three variants of the Kopis; the basic recce version has a hexagonal open-topped, twin laser turret with a pintel tri-barrel powergun for the commander. A heavier recce version has an asymmetrical turret with an autocannon and light missile pod. Finally, there is the Astrapi AA version with twin lasers in a ball-like turret.

The arrival of the Kopis allows us to create a new detachment pack for Ander’s Legion, a variant of the existing Recce detachment but with one of the Viking half-tracks replaced by the new vehicle.

HS15-3613 – Kopis Recce Vehicle – £7.50
HS15-3613a – Astrapi AA Vehicle – £7.50
HS15-3613b – Kopis with gun/missile turret – £7.50

HSD15-3602a – Ander’s Legion Recce Detachment

If you’re waiting for the 6mm versions, I’m afraid they won’t be out until the New Year – but as you can see, they’re almost done.

Astronauts and Heretics

New this week are these rather lovely, tiny astronauts. Sculpted by Martin Baker, these wee spacemen are the perfect occupants of our 6mm Moonbase.

I had a bit of fun painting up some samples in various styles. Left to right, we have conventional NASA spacesuits in plain white with a tiny dot of red on the sleeve representing the US flag; then we have some bright orange suits with yellow helmets, as seen in Space 1999; and finally, white with orange and black flashes and gold visors, à la The Martian.

The pack contains six identical sprues, each with four different figures, all cast in lead-free pewter. We’ll have stock of these at SELWG next weekend.

SF300-005 – Astronauts (x24) – £2.75

Guardforce O’Higgins

Guardforce O’Higgins are, as their name might suggest, a mercenary unit that specialises in security and enforcement assignments.

Most of the Regiment-sized formation is made up of mechanised units trained in police actions or defensive scenarios. Because they are generally not deployed directly to the front line, the pay rates are commensurately lower than in other outfits who are often at the sharp end of a conflict. The quality of GFOH troops is, in the main, fairly average – in The Crucible they are rated merely as Trained. Behaviour has been an issue in the past – one company had to be completely disbanded at the orders of the Bonding Authority following a breakdown of discipline while on furlough.

Line units are split into Infantry and Armoured companies. The infantry ride in Brollachan tracked APCs – these are cheap and cheerful ‘battle-taxi’ types built on the drive train and powerplant of a commercial all-terrain explorer vehicle. The basic model carries a twin MG turret or a hatch with a pintle-mounted flechette gun, support versions have light missile systems.

The Armoured companies are mainly equipped with Fragarach light tanks carrying a wide variety of turret mounted weapons. The anti-tank vehicles have a pair of railguns, while an infantry support version has twin heavy gatlings instead. There are also light artillery, air defence and scout variants. The Fragarach has the same track units as the Brollachan but with uprated transmission and power plant.

The one exception is the Fianóglach. This is a Veteran, rapid reaction force equipped with HU-1 Perseus VTOLs, used as troubleshooters or to reinforce line companies at short notice. They are drawn from the best troops in the other line companies – which does nothing to help the standards in those units, but the increased pay and bragging rights does give the ordinary Guardforce grunt something to aim for.

The unusual blue-grey scheme of the vehicles pictured is used on assignments where the Guardforce is stationed in or near active civilian populations. It is felt that the non-military colour makes the vehicles less threatening and can help to quiet dissident elements amongst populations that may otherwise react badly to having foreign mercenaries patrolling their streets.

Both the Fragarach and Brollachan are available now from our website. Both are available with a number of different turret options beyond those shown here, which are illustrated on their respective pages.

HS15-3701 – Fragarach Light Tank – £8.00
HS15-3702 – Brollachan APC – £8.00

A Celtic SAGA

One of the wargaming phenomenons of recent years has been the SAGA range of rulebooks and supplements. SAGA is a skirmish game system, initially aimed at Dark Age warbands but more recently expanded to cover Vikings, Crusades and now fantasy games with the new Age of Magic sourcebook.

With the very kind permission of Studio Tomahawk and Gripping Beast, we’ve created a series of army packs suitable for use with the SAGA:Age of Magic ruleset. Under the rules these make up eight-point armies including a warlord and sorcerer. The packs have selectable options for the warlord and sorceror or champion, allowing you to customise your army. They represent great value, saving around 10% off the normal prices if bought separately.

SAGA-100 – Sidhe Army (Great Kingdoms) – £80.00
SAGA-300 – Gael Army (Lords of the Wild) – £80.00
SAGA-400 – Fomorian Army (The Horde) – £85.00
SAGA-500 – Fir Bolg Army (Undead Legions) – £75.00

A Mixed Bag

We have a new set of buildings in the Small Scale Scenery range today. We weren’t entirely sure what to call them – originally I had them down as ‘Commercial Buildings’, but not all of them are. So they’ve ended up with the rather unwieldy title of ‘Commercial and Utility Buildings’ – even that isn’t a perfect description, but anything longer won’t fit on the website!

What you get is a set of five buildings which are vital to any small town – a police station, fire station, small supermarket, petrol station and an electricity substation. There is also a separate larger supermarket model. All are post war buildings except for the electricity substation which is based on an old Victorian structure in London. Although you’ll find them under English Buildings (we had to put them somewhere) on the website, they would be suitable for use across Europe. I don’t know if continental fire stations have the drill towers that UK ones do, but it’s a separate part so you can always leave it off.

All are metal castings except the larger supermarket which is resin. This is based on a German prototype from Munich, but we found a number of near-identical supermarkets across Europe built to pretty much the same design, as far apart as Ireland and Corfu.

SSS-8144 – Commercial and Utility Buildings – £4.00
SSS-8145 – Supermarket – £2.50

Utility Bird

Back in April, when we released the Demeter Attack VTOL at Salute, it should have been accompanied by a second model, a utility VTOL (think UH-1 Huey in terms of its rôle). However, we had several issues with the other prototype, it would never cast reliably enough to be able to release so we’ve ended up having to redesign and reprint parts of it. We think we’re there now, we’ve run enough test casts to be happy that all the bits now work.

The HU.1 Perseus is, as previously mentioned, a utility type that has a rear cabin for four fully equipped infantry (six over short distances as long as they don’t mind being squeezed in). It has the same chin turret as the Demeter with a 2cm tri-barrel powergun and can also carry a variety of underwing stores so can serve as a passable gunship.

The Perseus is used by three Hammer’s Slammers units as a fast APC flying nap-of-the-earth when in the combat zone, staying down among the weeds to avoid being shot out of the sky. Both the Eaglewing and the Texian 101st base their forces around VTOL transports and gunships, while Guardforce O’Higgins’ veteran Fianóglach company are equipped with a number of Perseus and act as a rapid-reaction unit. In the detachment lists for these three forces, the Perseus replaces the Black Crow VTOL.

The model is a four-part resin kit (body, tail and two wings) with five metal parts (turret, two tail fins, two cabin doors). The separate cabin doors allow for a door gunner (which we don’t yet make but will do).

HS15-2601 – Perseus Utility VTOL – £12.00

Waifs and Strays

Back in April, we upgraded the cruisers and escorts of the British Aeronef fleet when they were released at Salute. However, not all of our planned releases made the cut – two models, the replacement for the Agamemnon monitor and the brand new Orion class light cruiser, weren’t released at the time because of casting issues. It’s taken a while, but we’ve modified both and they’re finally available for release. It was the tails of both models which were causing the problem – an increase in thickness of just 0.25mm made all the difference, resulting in castings that are getting on for 100% reliable (or as close as we get) as opposed to around 10% previously.

The Orion is a light cruiser design which the British fleet has been sorely missing. It comes in two variants – the basic Orion gun cruiser, fitted with two single and two twin turrets, or the Sirius AA cruiser with four triple-AAA turrets. Both types also have two twin torpedo tubes.

The Agamemnon monitor has two inverted howitzer turrets on the bottom of the hull for surface bombardment, along with some conventional light armament for self defence.

VAN-106 – Agamemnon class monitor – £3.00
VAN-129 – Orion class Light Cruiser – £3.00
VAN-129a – Sirius class AA Cruiser – £3.00

At some point soon (probably after the end of the show season in November), we’ll update the contents of our British fleet packs to take account of the various new releases this year, and the Orion (and Medusa) will filter into these packs.

United in 6mm

Our recent 6mm Hammer’s Slammers releases have opened up a number of new detachments. One of the units that uses the GS-1000 series of GEVs is the United Defence Batteries, an specialised outfit equipped mainly with 8-barrel 2cm Calliopes for air defence. They appear in the story Counting the Cost, which can be found in volume 2 of the Complete Hammer’s Slammers.

I painted some 15mm calliopes last year and I’ve followed up with their 6mm equivalents recently. As an elite unit, the UDB have eight TUs per detachment – five calliopes, two mortar carriers for fire support and a command APC. Like the 15mm versions, I painted them in dark grey (Plastic Soldier Company Panzer Grey from a spray can), drybrushed light grey with a black wash. The skirts were painted light green, again with an appropriate wash. There is an access door on each flank – I painted these white, with a blue triangle as an approximation of the UDB logo. Other than picking out the gun barrels in silver, that was it – this was a very quick unit to get on the table.

The UDB have been added to the ever-growing list of pre-packed detachments we have available –

HSD6-3301 – United Defence Batteries Calliope Detachment – £9.00