Following the Easter Front 2022 tournament (read about it here) at Conquest in Australia, we caught up with Mike Constantinou to chat about the genesis and evolution of his US Airborne army which won a ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’ for painting and theming.
Mike – I came into Bolt Action having always loved WWII movies as a kid, and I’ve really enjoyed learning more about the period through the process of researching my US army – it’s one of the best bits about historical wargaming!
My little force has changed quite a bit over time, having begun with the Band of Brothers starter set. As these were my first Bolt Action figures, I assembled them simply as directed by the quick start guide in the box. After playing a few introductory games, the US Armoured fist set was added to get some mobility into the army. From there, I left the regular US Infantry alone but borrowed the Bazooka and Sniper Rifle from the weapons sprue to build some spare paratrooper bodies into two small weapons teams. This gave me even more options for the force, as well as some more Order Dice – always useful! The addition of the M3 Halftracks added a totally new dimension to my games and inspired my curiosity for adding more armour to my fledgling force.
The next addition came as an amazing birthday gift in the shape of the US Tank War starter set, providing some armoured punch. Painting the M18s and Shermans was a ton of fun, and I really enjoyed getting to add the little details and having fun with the weathering – the hardest part was deciding which tank to use!
With the core of my army built up, I played a few friendly games to get a handle on the rules and got ready for my first event – Operation Bear in Melbourne.
It was a fantastic experience to play against such a wide variety of armies and players, all with their own tactics and quirks. After a great day of gaming, I managed to win myself another sprue of paratroopers, and a jeep, perfect for the continuing expansion.
With my first force painted up quite quickly, I went back and repainted some of my existing favourite pieces using the lessons I’d learned over the course of building the army. I also used the paratroopers I’d won to try out some new painting ideas and schemes, one of which became the basis for my latest army.
My US Airborne army is loosely based around the Filthy Thirteen (more formally 1st Demolition Section, HQ Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division – what a mouthful!). Looking through lots of old pictures and reading the stories of their exploits, I wanted to capture the spirit of this infamous unit on the tabletop. I added some new paratroopers, utilising the awesome mohawk heads, demoted my old commanders to unit sergeants, and added in some SMG-wielding troopers to use as Pathfinders. I also painted up my new jeep to add a bit of mobile firepower, and I think the result really captures the ‘feel’ of the Filthy Thirteen.
Using a mixture of the different US kits available, I’ve been able to kit-bash my army exactly how I want it and set myself up nicely for future expansion (looking at the 30 regular GIs awaiting an undercoat!). It’s a super fun and compact little force – like the real paratroopers of WWII, always outnumbered but still able to pack a punch!
The US Airborne put in a tremendous effort at Conquest’s ‘Easter Front 2022’ event, where they played out six solid games. It was a fantastic experience, and I even managed to come away with some more swag ready to be added to my next army!
The US Airborne in Bolt Action
Get started with a US Airborne force of your own. From their role in the ill-fated Operation Market Garden to the crossing of the River Rhine and the push into the German homeland these battle-hardened fighting men have been immortalised in film and television.
Whether you plan to field them as the 101st ‘Screaming Eagles’, 82nd ‘All American’, 17th ‘Thunder from Heaven’ or 13th ‘Golden Unicorns’ Airborne Divisions this starter force is built around a strong core of battle-hardened paratroopers and vital support teams the US Airborne are a match for all but the most heavily equipped opponents. The Starter Army Box contains:
- 36x US Airborne infantry (plastic)
- 4x US Airborne HQ figures (metal)
- 1x US Airborne .50 Cal HMG team (metal)
- 1x US Airborne medium mortar team (metal)
- 1x US Airborne 57mm anti-tank gun (metal)