Crossing The Rubicon Nostalgius Pt. 8- Startin’ Up The Motor Pool!

After my compatriot’s rather heartfelt (and heavily researched) post on the unfolding conflict in Ukraine, I kind of feel a bit sheepish popping this here, but here we are – the first vehicle for the 1991 Blood Angels!

Fittingly enough, it’s a Rhino – the ubiquitous M113-battle-taxi of the far future. This was (fanfare please) a DIY papercraft build, put together from a template downloaded from the now-shuttered (sadly) blog “In The Grim Cheapness” – I’d recommend downloading the hell out of everything on that site while it’s still up.

I actually built the basic hull and treads back in 2020 (!) and pretty much forgot about it, so hauled it back out and started applying details. Hatches and armour layers were cut from thin card, and the iconic four exhausts (borrowing from Wyloch.. praise be upon him) were made from drinking straws. I plugged up the holes with greenstuff and cut down thinner drinking straws for the very top of the exhaust.

You can see the rivets – dots of PVA glue, dabbed on with a cocktail stick. I also used Polyfilla (spackle, in American) to fill in some of the gaps, and then sanded it down before priming.

In white, naturally, as was the style of the time – and I decided to get clever, adding a thin chestnut/brown wash over the primer:

Before applying the basecoat, two thin coats (naturally) of Vallejo Hot Orange, washed with Vallejo Red Ink, drybrushed with Hot Orange and edge highlighted with thinned Cadmium Yellow craft paint.

Craft black for the bits that are going to be metallic and the campaign badge, and the vision slits because no bloody way was I going to cut out raised lips for them…

You might notice that although this is based on the classic Mk 1 Rhino from the Rogue Trader but I wimped out of doing the radiator grills – I did have a plan to use nylon tulle (which we used when we made Skalk Point) but after losing several layers of skin trying to superglue the bastard stuff I gave up and went for armour layers with cardboard. So we have a beast which is neither quite fish nor fowl, but after a lick of paint, we are left with….

My First Papercraft! With thanks to Jim for a bit of assistance 😉
Freehand shapes were drawn on in pencil and then Dulux Jasmine White house paint (thinned with Windsor & Newton medium) to fill in the shapes.. I actually measured the arrow to get it geometrically right, a first for me!

In situ on the terrain mat with some friends for scale

So there we are – it’s not quite done, I need to get a couple of bolters to mount on it but riding a wave of confidence I may even scratchbuild some to stick on there!

Not perfect and I very much doubt it would fool anyone into thinking it’s a legit GW product, but works nicely for us and looks pretty good – the army list calls for another two, so that’s me occupied for the next few weeks!

On another note, we decided that one thing we could do is cash out everything we’ve earned from selling Apocalypse: Earth to the DEC appeal to support Ukraine, so from now on until all this is over all proceeds will be going there. Not much, but better than nothing. As Jim mentioned in the last post, we did have some engagement with Russia (43 readers… out of 144 million people.. still) so if you ARE a young Russian chap of draftable age reading this and conscription season is right around the corner, maybe now is time to take that gap year abroad you’ve been promising yourself…..

Stay thrifty and safe out there, and may sanity prevail before too long. Slavia Ukraini, slavia heroyem

On The Historical Unity Of Russian And Ukrainian People

Yes, this is a clickbait title. But bear with me, there’s a reason.

It’s a week since the world lurched into terrifying insanity, and like everyone else we’ve been horrified and frankly terrified by what we’re seeing coming out of Ukraine, along with the vague threats of nuclear weapons being issued by a Russian president who seems to have lost his fucking mind. My way of kidding myself I can do anything constructive about the situation (because changing my Facebook status to a Ukrainian flag is comically useless) has been to research the ever-loving shit it of it, to try and understand what is happening and why, and how those in power might go about stopping it. This is something that mainstream media coverage, with it’s focus on “Explosion! How do you feel? Explosion!” – all data, no analysis – doesn’t really help with (not to knock the journalists, they’ve got a job to do), and there seem to be a number of factors at play here when you pull back and look at a wider picture.

These two YouTube videos provide an excellent context:

TLDW – basically, 3 factors at play.
1) Demographics – there is a looming crisis as the Russian population decreases, deaths have been outnumbering births since the fall of the Soviet Union. In a generation, there simply won’t be enough Russians to man a cohesive military.
2) Geography – Ukraine controls some of the access points to Russia along the North European Plain, a historic invasion route into Russia proper. This has been a pattern in Russian activity since the Georgia invasion of 2008, followed up in 2014 in Crimea. Crimea is also home to the port of Sevastapol, the only warm water port the Russian navy has access to.
3) Commercial/ Resources – Russia’s economy is largely based on exporting petrol, gas, and to a lesser extent, wheat. These are commodities that Ukraine also bases it’s economies around, and in 2012 had discovered a potentially vast untapped gas vein that it was licencing out to Western companies.

There’s obviously MUCH more to the situation that I can sum up there and I urge you to do your own research, but those videos are a fascinating start point (I’d also recommend Task & Purpose for an excellent ground level analysis of events from a combat infantryman’s perspective)

So having established some context as to why this might be happening, we come to the second point – what can we do about it? Well, nothing. Probably. But I checked our stats and we do have some engagement in Russia – nothing major, 43 views last year, 101 in 2020. But if those 43 people read this article, and share it with another 43 people, and then those 43.. you see where this is going.. it’s just faintly possible we might be able to accomplish something useful.

Everything I’ve read so far has focused on the hideous carnage and humanitarian disaster aspects of this crisis – and so they should. But this doesn’t seem to have helped stop it from happening. So I’m going to try and make an appeal to the common sense and self interest of the Russian people – if you’re Russian, or if you have friends and family in Russia, please share it with them and get them to share it with as many people as they can.

  1. How do you think this is going to end? Best case scenario (from Putin’s point of view) – you get to Kyiv, arrest/ kill Zelensky (or he flees), install a pro-Russian government.. and then what? There’s no way back at that point. You will have caused too much damage, killed too many people for there ever to be friendship and trust between Ukraine and Russia. IF (and a few days ago I would have said when) you make it to Kyiv, if you accomplish your goal, you will spend DECADES with a vicious, lethal (Western-backed, funded and armed) insurgency right on your doorstep. We learned about this in Iraq and Afghanistan – think back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, or more recently the slaughter in Chechenya. And if you escalate with the really big guns (I’ve seen footage of TOS thermobaric launchers rolling into Ukraine), the more desperate Ukraine will get, and with no way to respond symmetrically, I would expect an asymmetric response.

    Remember Beslan? 186 Russian children dead. That was overspill from Chechenya. Ukraine is a LOT bigger than Checehya. How many Beslans are going to come out of this? How many Russian children will die if/ when the Ukrainians get desperate and the gloves come off?

    Will it be your child?
  2. It’s not exactly going well so far for the Russian military, is it? Amazingly, despite the vast qualitative and quantitive difference (on paper) between the Russian and Ukrainian air force, Ukrainian planes and drones are still flying. NATO countries, even if they’re not publicly admitting this, are almost certainly assessing the tactics employed so far and coming out underwhelmed by Russian offensive capacity. But we’re not the ones you have to worry about – we never were. Our risk-averse society, brought back into focus by the Iraq and Afghanistan debacles (no disrespect to the soldiers doing the actual work, I more mean to call out the hubris and naivety of our leaders) would never countenance any offensive action toward Russia. And your 6200+ nuclear weapons mean there’s NO danger from us.

    But… look East. Look at your sole remaining “ally”. Population approximately 1.45 billion. Resource hungry. Geographically close to the sparsely populated area of Siberia – lots of lovely things under the ground in Siberia – nickel, silver, zinc amongst others.

    Let’s not forget China has a demographic crisis of it’s own, courtesy of the One Child policy in the 80s. That means LOTS of “spare men” – of military service age – who can’t marry or start families. The last time China had this issue was just after the Chinese Civil War in 1949, and a cynic might make the point that one of the reasons Mao intervened in the Korean War was to find something to do with these “spare men”.

    And it’s not like you haven’t got history.

    If I were Xi Jinping, quietly assessing the capabilities of the Russian military, I would be distinctly unimpressed. And the Chinese government is rather more laissez-faire about casualties than the West, traditionally. I don’t believe the Chinese would look for a war, but I believe Xi could be tempted by opportunity – and there are enough ethnic similarities between alot of the Eastern Russian population and the Chinese for him to play the same card of “protection ethnic Chinese minorities”… and nobody from the West would be coming to your aid.

    Maybe I’m talking garbage (after all, I don’t know what I don’t know) – but I would never have believed Russia could invade Ukraine last week. Sometimes a decade happens in a day. I would be looking over my shoulder at the rising power that outnumbers you 10-1, unified under a brutal, callous dictator rather than the demilitarised, risk-averse West hooked on your hydrocarbons and focused on domestic squabbles and largely led by virtue signalling, publicity seeking incompetent clowns.

    I would also be very wary should I be a young man of military age, or a father to any. There are going to be widespread conscriptions to make up the numbers here. I would encourage any Russian parents to get as much hard cash (ideally in dollars or euros) and get their sons out of the country before this happens.

  3. Numbers. As of writing on Day 8 of this insanity, the Ukranians are claiming 9000 Russians killed. Not wounded – killed. Given a conservative 3-1 wounded to killed ration, that’s 27,000 young Russian men wounded. In a WEEK.

    Now, these are Ukrainian numbers so there almost certainly inflated. So let’s halve that number – 4500 killed, 13,500 wounded, 18,000 casualties altogether. For ease of mathematics, let’s further reduce that to 16,000 – that still means that in a DAY, you’re looking at 500 killed, 1500 wounded. And wounded can mean a lost limb or two, blinded, deafened, paralysed.

    Think about that some more. On a conservative estimate, statistically, every hour of this conflict, 20 Russian soldiers die. One every three minutes. And every minute one is maimed for life.

    How long until it’s your son?

    Please, for the sake of your own country, never mind the rest of the world – stop this while it still can be stopped.

If you’ve got this far, congratulations – please spread it wherever Russians are likely to read it. Claim it as your own work, I don’t care, as long as it gets read by people who can do something about it