I’m not unique in being a World War II gamer and a big fan of HBO’s Band of Brothers miniseries from 2001. I also finally got around to reading Stephen Ambrose’s same-titled book on which the series was based. Both works follow the exploits of “Easy” Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division from training to D-Day to the end of the war. The story is absolutely riveting and presents a dramatic account of how the collective action of individuals contributed to the Allied victory.
I’ve been working away recently at finishing my long-overdue modelling of Easy Company and a large US Airborne force. Nearly two years ago I purchased and painted up an entire company of Command Decision Paratroopers from Old Glory Miniatures, including command, machine guns, mortars, bazookas and parachute artillery support teams. This past week I’ve wrapped-up the small plastic parachute rifle company from the Flames of War Open Fire! starter box set I received this past Christmas. To this collection of troops, I’ve added the excellent Easy Company set from FOW containing a number of the real historic US servicemen portrayed in Band of Brothers.
While the casting is a bit skinnier and lacking in the detail of the official FOW miniatures, the value of the Command Decision models can’t be beaten at the low price of $15 for a hefty bag of 50 solidly serviceable figures. At under $70 online, the big Open Fire! box is a real deal for all the troops, tanks, artillery and other stuff included. The FOW Easy Company set itself runs about $12 for the few specific personality figures, and fielding these models is going to add significantly both to the look and effectiveness of my force on the tabletop battlefield.
With a good mix of FOW and Command Decision models painted-up, I turned to the “Nuts!” campaign book to put-together my order of battle for Easy Company. The book focuses on the 101st Airborne’s involvement in late 1944’s siege of Bastogne and other Battle of the Bulge engagements and then on to the German border and the eventual Allied victory in 1945.
In creating my list I wanted a highly-mobile and playable 1500 point force heavy on infantry with just a bit of tank support. In the FOW rules, the parachute rifle company is rated Fearless/Veterans, making them hard-hitting and tough to chase from the field. Their special use of Gammon bombs enhances their impact in risky infantry assaults on otherwise-intimidating German tanks. Adding the special characters from Easy Company makes for an even more resilient and daunting force, reflecting the historic bravery these men brought to the late war European campaigns.
I’ve modeled my infantry pretty simply with a quick coat of flat green primer, lighter brown on backpacks and equipment bags, a contrasting watered-down brown wash and some equipment details picked-out. Finally, the shoulders get a dot of black and a dab of white to mimic the famed Airborne eagle insignia (shown at the top of the page).
The first photo below shows the specific men of East Company which come packed with a lot of individual personality. Leading the platoon is Capt. Richard Winters and Capt. Lewis Dixon (front row, center) with the Nixon model taking a swig from a bottle as he was known to do. Pvt. Eugene Roe (middle row, far left) is shown patching-up an injured comrade. Corp. Darrell “Shifty” Powers (top row, far left) is hunched aiming on a barrel and ready to take out his German target. With so many generic models in my force, these guys are all a real treat.
And below is a look at the plastic Airborne platoon included in the Open Fire! box set:
In July, I’m organizing a big FOW day at Metropolitan Wargamers with two simultaneous 2500-point games of Soviets vs. Germans and US Airborne vs. Germans. To the above list I’ll be adding some significant artillery muscle and I also hope to have a new P-47 Thunderbolt air support model ready to go. With Easy Company ready to lead on the tabletop, I can’t wait to get my new Airborne force into action.