OK, having worked out how to do the gun and the emplacement it's time to think about the crew. Long story short - I will have to make my own Finns.
Above: A starting point. From left to right - Revell WW1 officer, HaT Austrian officer, Starlet's Finnish officer and PSC Soviet officer. You can see just how much 1/72 figures vary in stature. The PSC figures are the most chunky but - importantly - unike the other three makes they are made of hard plastic.
After a lot of head scratching - and a couple of false starts - I have plumped for the Plastic Soldier Company's 1/72 Soviet Infantry in Summer Unifoms as the base for my mock Finns. The three most important criteria that made me chose these PSC figures as a starting point were:
- The Finns relied heavily of Soviet type small arms - such as their version of the Mosin-Nagant rifle as well as lots of captured arms like the Degtyarev DP LMG and the famous Finnish Soumi SMG looks reasonably similar to the Soviet PPSh41. An important consideration for the infantry contingent of my army.
- The Finns summer uniform is similar to the early war German Army uniform (but in grey) BUT the Finns - like the Soviet infantry - seemed to prefer a spartan webbing arrangement which is at odds with the complicated German webbing patterns (and I didn't want to do too much trimming of small items).
- The PSC figures are made in hard plastic. This point is quite important if you intend to be doing a lot of 'cutting and shutting' to make hybrid figures.
Above: A work in progress as my PSC Soviets slowly mutate into Finnish artillery crew. There is also a couple of hybrids here where PSC heads and legs have been mated to HaT artillery crew bodies. Figure 2 still has his Soviet M40 helmet.
Modifying - shaving and sanding!
The principal item I have to modify is the Soviet M40 helmets of the PSC figures. The Finns used quite a variety of helmets - ranging from Czech, Italian and Swedish tin lids - but perhaps the most recognisable and widely issued helmet was the WW1 vintage German M1918 'coal scuttle' Stahlhelm.
Tip: If you don't fancy trying to do the German M1918 then just round off the Soviet M40 to make a simple Czech M34 helmet - another type used by the Finns. <Link>
The hard plastic of the PSC models lended itself well to being remoulded to a different shape and I had soon sanded the rounded dome of the M40 into a more squarish shape. All I had to do then was add a tiny bit of Milliput putty to give the back of the new helmet it's distinctive protective shroud.
There was some other modifiying to do, mainly the removal of the unique Soviet back sack. The Finns seemed to like to travel light and apparently didn't have use for backpacks with their summer uniform.
There were a few figures with the distinctive Soviet blanket wrapped around the torso which would have been too difficult to remove, so I used some of these figures for spare heads, arms or legs!
Next: The painting.
Edit: I should note that another big consideration here is the main infantry section of my little army! I chose the PSC figures for my arty crew as they would then match my foot-sloggers!