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The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

A place for members to share modelling tips and tricks, as well as pics of miniatures, terrain, table set-ups.

The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

Postby L. Sabia Byrne » Tue Mar 22, 2016 3:33 pm

Well, I have been away for quite a while on account of unexpectedly plunging into a huge Polish army for Flames of War BUT Im back... and I thought I would mark the occasion by showing you all the first project of my Indochina collection.

I decided to start the ball rolling with Commando Francois as it was at the battle of Ninh Binh in 1951.

Modelling the Marine Commandos of the Indochina war was problematic to say the least! As you all know there is very little written in the English language at all, and certainly nothing that relates to organisational breakdowns from a war that has been, for all intents and purposes, brushed under the carpet by the French. My French is passable but sadly nowhere near competent enough to be able to competently translate military acronyms and such like.

However, this is where Google came to the rescue... and by that I mean Google Translate. I found a photo library dedicated to all of the Marine Commandos and there was so much photographic record in there that I was able to piece together an accurate OrBat for the Commando on the day of the battle which I have already shared on here under the incorrect title of Commando Montfort.

Commando Francois001.jpg


Commando Francois002.jpg


Commando Francois003.jpg



So that was the organisation, now what about uniforms and weapons? There are no miniature manufacturers anywhere in the world that produce Marine Commandos from the Indochina conflict so I had to rig them myself.

After much searching around I decided to settle on using Battlefronts British Commando figures with a serious amount of adjusting.

In my favour was the fact that the smock that was designed for the Marine Commandos was pretty close to the design of the British Commando Smock and they also wore British style berets and trousers... and at this scale the boots, puttees and packs would barely register a difference.

Alternate headwear such as a naval beret and the French Chapeau needed headswaps... to which I went to Peter Pig and ordered some heads for Scottish Tam O'Shanter berets and Chindit heads.

Weapons were a ball ache with this project. The majority of Marine Commandos were armed with ex-German MP40 Schmeissers, well there just isnt anybody who manufactures these in 15mm. I did however find a company that makes 15mm US M3 Grease Guns which, if the sides were filed down would make pretty good approximations of both the MP40 and/or the Mat49 depending on how the paint scheme was done. The Mortars were perfect and the Brens needed only the slightest modifications to appear to be FM 24/29's

There were a lot of Commandos armed with the Thompson Sub Machine Gun on the Battlefront figures so I decided to get rid of most of them although I did carve away the foregrip on some of them so that they appeared to be Mas 38 Machine pistol... and of course I actually left a few holding the Thompson as well. I figured that there will come a time when I want to use Francois as Jaubert or Montfort so a bit of diversity wouldn't hurt.

The French Marine Commando's of this era were one of the first armed forces in Indochina to receive bespoke uniform elements and in their case this took the form of jackets. These required some painting techniques that were a little unorthodox.

Because of the painting technique that was used the jackets had all of the base colours painted first.
A Vallejo Khaki (988) base coat was applied followed by Vallejo Luftwaffe Camo Green (823) and Beige Brown (875) was stippled over the khaki using small lumps of sponge.

The trousers were painted a Khaki Drab (Tamiya XF51) and then highlighted with Vallejo Khaki (988) mixed with the Khaki Drab.

The entire figure was then washed with an AK Interactive Filter (AK075) Filter for Nato Camo Vehicles.

The remaining elements were painted as follows:

Element Basecoat Highlight Extra

Jacket Khaki (V988) Filter for Nato Camo Veh. (AK075)
Luft Cam Green (V823)
Beige Brown (V875)

Trousers Khaki Drab (Tam XF51) +Khaki (V988) Filter for Nato Camo Veh. (AK075)

Puttees Graveyard Earth (GW) +Khaki (V988)
Boots German Camo Black (V822)
Packs&Webb: English Uniform (V921) Green Grey (V886)
Rifle Body: German Camo Med Brown Beige Brown (V875)
Frapeau Hat: Khaki (V988) Dark Sand (V847) Filter for Nato Camo Veh. (AK075)
Beret: Black Green (V980) Medium Olive (V850)
Beret Badge: White (V951)
Skin: Snakebite Leather (GW) Elf Flesh (GW) +White (V951)
Lips: Red (V957)
Metal: Gunmetal Grey (V863)


So there you have it! That is how I painted the first of my first Indochina troops.

The bases were a complex procedure that took me a while to arrive at and took enough work that they will warrant their own post about...

If anybody is interested the full blog post is in two parts, with the second one detailing the actual modelling with another 30 or so photos and Ill be doing a third one outlining how I did the Jungle bases

I look forwards to hearing what you guys think. :cheers
Last edited by L. Sabia Byrne on Thu Mar 24, 2016 2:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

Postby L. Sabia Byrne » Tue Mar 22, 2016 3:37 pm

I took one look at the post and thought that it might be a good idea to post some images from a bit closer up so you can actually see what Ive done! :really

Commando Francois021.jpg


Commando Francois012.jpg


Commando Francois026.jpg


...and there you have it... a bit more detail! :whistle
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Re: The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

Postby GARRYOWEN » Tue Mar 22, 2016 4:14 pm

Fantastic work on the figures and the bases. They are like mini-dioramas. You have really done a thorough job on your project and on the report. Thanks a lot for the report. I look forward to more. Although I do not have figures for this earlier period, I do enjoy seeing it and playing it when I have the opportunity.

Tom
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Re: The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

Postby L. Sabia Byrne » Tue Mar 22, 2016 4:20 pm

Hey Tom,

Thanks mate, glad you likethem. If Im to be honest I think i may have gone a bit overboard on the bases. They were a real ball ache to get finished and seemed to go on forever... and now I need to keep it up on everything else that I do! LOL

I think perhaps it may have been more down to gluing down all of the foliage before I painted the bases though, it may be smarter to do that once the main base is painted and litter is applied... should streamline the operation a bit better I think!

Im working on a Groupement Amphibie now... so off I go back to the grind! :coffee
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Re: The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

Postby Smitty14 » Tue Mar 22, 2016 5:13 pm

Sounds like you had a lot of conversions on your hands but the end result looks awesome! Good job! :good
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Re: The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

Postby GARRYOWEN » Tue Mar 22, 2016 5:19 pm

I understand completely about starting something that may have been something like grabbing a tiger by the tail. You feel you have to hang on and stick with it.

They sure look great. But a lot of work for a large ongoing project. When finished, you will be glad you did it.

Tom
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Re: The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

Postby sunihanble » Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:10 am

Really nice job :bravo .
If you want some scenarios and orbat for Indochina I've got some ( in french... :oops )
Like this one .
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Re: The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

Postby L. Sabia Byrne » Wed Mar 23, 2016 1:18 pm

Hey guys,

thanks for the comments. It will be a long ongoing project garry, and as nobody around my way has any interest in French Indochina I have the luxury of being able to dip in and out of it when I need a break from other things! :umm

There were loads of conversions in there Smitty but no more than I will need to do on all but my Eureka miniatures paras, so Im prepared for it... at least I dont have to properly sculpt on them as that would take forever. Im going to be doing a company of Polish Mountain Infantry as they are who my girlfriends grandfather fought with and the Polish 21st Mountain Brigade in 1939 all wore shoulder slung overcoats, perhaps not in combat BUT it would be a shame not to have any at all with the overcoat on.... and True Norths mountain troops sadly dont! Thats my next big sculpt I think...

Sunihable, thanks for the scenario.. Ive actually seen it online before and read it. I would love to actually get out to Ninh binh and find the church to see waht the ground around it actually looked like!

Still... one thing at a time eh? :bang
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Re: The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

Postby Smitty14 » Wed Mar 23, 2016 6:21 pm

The Polish 21st Mountain Brigade project sounds cool. I'd be interested in seeing pictures of them when you get to it.
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Re: The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

Postby L. Sabia Byrne » Thu Mar 24, 2016 9:48 am

No problem Smitty, Id be happy to share. Ive spent the last 7 months painting a Polish flames of War army. If you are interested there are loads of posts on my blog page about each of the projects that I did including all of the conversion work that I did and a sculpt for a Vickers E tank that Im aiming to cast up.

Feel free to head over and have a mosey around, and Ill make sure I let you know when I get around to doing the 21st MB

cheers :cheers
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Re: The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

Postby whoa Mohamed » Thu Mar 24, 2016 12:00 pm

WOW Lee those are superb..
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Re: The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

Postby Gamesman15 » Thu Mar 24, 2016 2:35 pm

My self and another couple of my Nam gaming buddies have always been interested in the French phases... will follow with this with interest.. looks great so far...
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Re: The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

Postby L. Sabia Byrne » Thu Mar 24, 2016 11:50 pm

Thanks guys, Im glad you like them. For some reason I just cant seem to nail how to photograph my miniatures effectively. They always look a lot better to the naked eye! But you get the idea... :good
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Re: The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

Postby Smitty14 » Fri Mar 25, 2016 3:50 pm

I have the same issue with taking photos. Going to head over to your blog and bookmark it so I can check it out more this weekend.
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Re: The beginning of Lee's French Indochina Odyssey

Postby predhead » Fri Mar 25, 2016 4:51 pm

I am REALLY looking forward to the post about the bases...where did you find those little fronds and ferns?

GREAT work on your figures...really inspiring!

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