Warlord staffers have been scrambling of late to assemble and build tanks for an Achtung Panzer! multiplayer game. Our final participant is Marketing’s own Melissa, who you may have encountered if you’re ever on a jaunt around Warlord’s social media pages. As a complete newcomer to miniature painting and wargaming, Melissa brings an entirely fresh perspective to the process. Over to you Melissa!

Melissa: Being that this was my first time ever painting a tank, and to be honest, a tabletop wargaming miniature of any kind, I decided that I wanted it to have some meaning, so I did some research beforehand and decided to take inspiration from the story of Mariya Oktyabrskaya, and chose to build and paint a Soviet T-34/76.

Mariya Vasilyevna Oktyabrskaya
Mariya Vasilyevna Oktyabrskaya

Mariya was a Soviet Ukrainian tank driver and mechanic who served on the Eastern Front against Nazi Germany during World War II. After her husband was killed in combat in 1941, Oktyabrskaya sold her possessions to fund a tank for the war effort and requested that she drive it herself. She received a T-34 medium tank, which she named “Fighting Girlfriend” (Боевая подруга) and was trained to operate and repair it. Oktyabrskaya demonstrated exceptional skill and courage in battle, earning a promotion to the rank of sergeant. She succumbed to her battle wounds in 1944 and was posthumously awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation’s highest honour for bravery in combat, becoming the first female tank driver to receive this distinction. Pretty badass, in my opinion!

The “Fighting Girlfriend”


I started by clipping off all the tank bits from the sprue. When this was discovered by my colleagues, it was met with shock and horror! According to them, I should have only clipped the bits as I needed them. Oops! Thankfully, the T-34 was pretty easy to build, so I was able to find the correct pieces from my pile and get them together properly with a little help from my friends. The guys in marketing come in handy… sometimes!

I found the tracks to be the most finickity but with a bit of concentration, I was able to get them together, and the rest was quite straightforward until I got to the turret. It turns out that I’d built the wrong option and ended up having to go to the HQ store and rummage through their spare parts box, but I was lucky enough to find a spare sprue with enough parts to make the turret variant that I wanted! Phew!

I also went to see the ever-friendly Pete Hely in metal casting and asked him (ever so sweetly!) if he could cast me up a female Soviet soldier that I could use to crew my tank. He kindly obliged, going above and beyond casting up a whole array of options. After having a look through them, I chose a miniature with the ushanka hat and a flag in each hand (available in the Soviet Army FOO pack -ed.).


I was then off to the HQ store, to get myself a can of Army Painter Army Green Primer Spray to prime my tank ready for painting. Once this was dry, I set up shop at one of the painting stations in the HQ store, and, using a photo that I found online for inspiration, I began choosing colours that I thought best resembled the look I was going for. I know that there were not many Soviet tanks that used camouflage in WWII, but I really wanted to make this tank unique. I was pretty happy with the overall results, but the green that I chose was not quite the colour I wanted, I would have liked it to be a bit more yellowish. I decided to visit our resident miniature vehicular expert Darek up in the studio to see if he could help me out. He suggested that I try a yellow “filter”. Once I applied the filter, I was much happier with the colour!

Being new to miniature assembly and painting I also asked Darek if he would neatly snip my chosen crewwoman miniature in half, and remove the flag in her left hand, feeling this would be a step too far for a newbie so that she could fit snugly into her cupola. From that point on, I began painting Mariya. I was nervous about painting such small details, it took me a while to get the hang of it and get my eyes to focus, but in the end, I was proud of how she turned out!

It was then time to paint up some stowage. I found it quite difficult to get the contents of the baskets to look authentic and ended up being only mildly happy with the outcome. I then attempted to paint the bicycle, and let’s just say that it went terribly! I decided not to use it and just go with the baskets and the crate of vodka bottles… it might be a stereotype, but hey!

The reference image that I was working from had “Fighting Girlfriend” written in Russian on the side of the turret and the tank. I assumed (stupidly!) that we did not have that exact phrase in our decal selection, and so I decided to try free-handing it. To my surprise, it did not turn out half bad! The next day, Darek brought me a selection of decals to use, including, of course, the phrase Боевая подруга! Taking it all as a learning experience, I decided to use the decals on one side of the tank and leave my free-handed attempt on the other!


I also wanted to try my hand at some weathering, taking inspiration from some of the others taking part in this A Tale of More Gamers series. For this, I took some rust-coloured paint and began drybrushing it on the areas that I thought might get the most worn when exposed to battles and the elements. I really like how it turned out and it just proves how very little effort can make a huge difference when going for this kind of effect.

After all is said and done, I am really proud of how my Fighting Girlfriend turned out and amazed at how much I enjoyed the whole process. I am so very grateful to everyone who took the time to help me during this endeavour and gave me advice and assistance when I asked for it.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story!

Hailing from the far-off land of Ontario, Canada, Melissa is the Warlord Games Social Media Coordinator, handling all manner of online interactions on various platforms. If you’ve messaged us on socials, there’s a good chance it was Melissa who answered! It’s ‘aboot’ time you got to see the face behind all those awesome posts! 

T-34/76 Medium Tank Plastic Boxed Set

The T-34 tank design is arguably the most important tank of all time; with over 84,000 examples produced. First seeing action in late 1941, it was a significant leap forward in tank design – a rugged, no-nonsense anatomy and wide tracks enabled it to cope with the mud and snow of the Eastern Front. It married the perfect combination of thick, sloped armour and an efficient gun, along with extreme sturdiness, reliability, ease of manufacturing and maintenance.

This plastic kit allows you the option of assembling the tank as either the 1941, 1942, or 1943 pattern T-34/76 – complete with their distinctive turrets.

Achtung Panzer! Soviet Tank Force

The Achtung Panzer! Soviet Army Tank Force allows you to deploy five iconic Soviet tanks to take on the enemies of the Motherland. The trio of no-nonsense T-34/76 medium tanks with their great balance of mobility, firepower, and protection are more than ably supported by the monstrous KV-1/KV-2 and IS-2 heavy tanks which pack a serious punch and bring massively thick armour to the table, giving your platoon a great ‘breakthrough’ capability for your T-34s to exploit.

In addition to these five awesome plastic vehicles (and a fantastic set of characterful stowage items), the included Soviet-specific Asset cards, plus Datacards for 20 different tanks (allowing you to field an even greater range of Soviet armour!), Tank Ace and Ace Skill cards, game tokens and markers along with mounted and dismounted tank crew figures give you everything you need to tackle the foes of the Soviet Union. Za rodinu! Za Stalina!

Also Available

The perfect way to jump into Achtung Panzer! on the side of the Soviet Union, the Achtung Panzer! Soviet Collection nets you both the Blood & Steel starter set and the above Soviet tank force, along with a set of Soviet tank crew included for free! The crew are also available separately, for added customisation whether it be for Achtung Panzer! or Bolt Action.

  1. What an incredible result for a ‘first timer’! It looks amazing, and that you took the time to research the tank and make the model unique is just next level. 🙂

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