Tag Archives: wargaming the Franco-Thai War

Elhiem Thais

French test figure

Apart from the bread bag I’m quite pleased with how he turned out, and shall be doing the rest of the unit this weekend.

In other news I’ve got a few more Thai tanks lined up, as well as a couple of infantry guns. Here’s hoping nothing upsets my weekend plans.

Thai Machine Guns

Two “Type 66” (Browning M1917) teams from the wargaming world’s first ever range of WWII Thais. It was my intention to do up the battalion heavy weapons company in one go, but the late arrival of SHQ’s 37mm Bofors meant that these were done first.*

These were originally slated for completion on the heels of the staff officers, but an avalanche of work resulted in their being left to languish in a semi-finished state on the workbench for ages.

Don’t like the basing? Well neither do I! Not only was adding the tufts and clump foliage a right utter pain in the backside, but they ended up ruining the overall look. Basing is definitely a talent all on its own, and I shall henceforth stick to my static grass (I should also point out that some of the greats – Steve Dean, Andrew Taylor, and Kevin Dallimore – similarly eschew such extravagance).

One more reason I’m not too particularly chuffed with these is the fact that whilst Matt is a highly talented sculptor, the machine gunner is light years away from his usual (i.e. high) standards.

Note the unseemly short legs (the deformed shoes on the right figure is a miscast I noticed too late) . But as is the case with the Adrian helmet, when viewed from the side the defect is less glaring.

Well there you have it. Next up are a pair of battalion guns, to be followed by a bunch of tanks and the rest of the infantry. I’m saving the heavy artillery and trucks for last.

*While the Shell Hole Scenics version I first received is a beautiful little kit, I wanted a more curved gun shield and so ended up ordering another from SHQ.

Thai Command Group

Elhiem’s Thai higher-ups are absolutely stunning sculpts that effectively capture the debonair hauteur inherent to staff officers the world over.

Elhiem WWII Thai Infantry

The wargaming world’s first ever release of WWII Thais in any scale (yay!). Alas, my skills as a painter are far too inadequate to do Matt’s sculpting justice! You’ll note that in my haste to get these photographed I paid scant attention to the lighting.

Now I’ve always been a believer in the phrase “credit where credit’s due” and as such would like to mention those who’ve inspired me throughout the years: thanks to Matthew Hingley of Elhiem fame I discovered the 3-layer method of painting way before the “Kevin Dallimore” system became in vogue, while Steve over at the SOGG alerted me to the existence of ‘Cayman Green’ in the Vallejo Game Colour range, thereby putting an end to my extended hunt for a suitable green. The webbing was shamelessly copied from Dominic Goh‘s site. Finally there’s the insanely talented Chevalier de la Tierre, whose incredible painting guides not only taught me about the Non-Metallic Metal way of painting, er, metal, but also showed me the usefulness of VMC US Olive Drab, a colour I had hitherto ignored.

So that’s one company (in RF! terms, that is) done! Countless more to do! Stay tuned for more additions to the force.

WWII Thais

Most histories of WWII treat Thailand as being just another part of the Japanese empire, notable for its immediate surrender to the Japanese and for making up one half of the infamous Death Railway.

They are wrong. The South-east Asian kingdom not only managed to safeguard to a considerable degree its sovereignty as a member of the risible Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere (for example, the notorious Kempeitai could not operate as freely as it did elsewhere), but her armed forces also took to the field, fighting just about everyone in the neighbourhood – an impressive achievement for a nation which had so loudly trumpeted its commitment to strict neutrality at the start of the war.

As such a Thai wargaming force can be fielded against many opponents. Hysterical irredentism and a firm belief in France’s military weakness paved the way for a short border war with the Vichy French, which began with border skirmishes and culminated in a Thai invasion of Laos and Cambodia. The ground conflict featured  river raids, artillery duels, night-time assaults and even, in the case of Poipet, street-fighting.

Elhiem Thais beside a generic Frontline truck.

This forgotten affair was then followed by 8 December 1941, during which the Thais had the distinction of fighting both Axis and Allies on the same day: while the Japanese were landing at various points throughout the length of the country’s southern peninsular, a British column of Universal carriers and truck-borne sepoys crossed the Malayan frontier in a bid to pre-empt the Japanese capture of a strategically important position.

Infantry debussing from a Moonlite Modelwerks Ford.

The Thais were unable to repel either invader, however, and by the afternoon had agreed to a ceasefire with the Japanese, who then thundered on south to deal with the British. A few weeks later this armistice turned into an alliance with Imperial Japan, and in early 1942 the Thais, like Mussolini in 1940, thought they had found a winning horse and decided to join in the fun before it became too late. Three divisions proceeded to mount a unilateral invasion of Burma’s eastern Shan States against the nationalist Chinese, who they booted out.

Who’s supporting whom? Carden Loyd tankettes from Moonlite Modelwerks.

More imaginative gamers may also want to consider a hypothetical what-if scenario based on the planned uprising against the Japanese (a la the Slovaks and Romanians) which was shelved following the Emperor’s broadcast.

Doubtlessly the forthcoming range from Elhiem Figures will be ground-breaking, if only because no one has ever produced Thai figures in any scale before. Thankfully that isn’t the only reason to applaud Elhiem. The figures are well-animated and the sculpting excellent. But they aren’t without their flaws though: the helmet will  only look like an Adrian when viewed from the side, while on the accuracy front the figures lack bayonet scabbards. The biggest (no pun intended) drawback, however, are their oversized rifles. That being said, these flaws are only minor, and shouldn’t put people off from buying them.

Painting guide to follow.