Thursday 20 June 2024

20mm - WW2 British 14th Army - Burma - AB Figures


A jump forward in time since posting my Spartans last time!  I have long had an interest in the war in Burma and the increase of books in my book case for this period has probably seen the largest growth on any shelf in recent years.  I think George Macdonald Fraser's book 'Quartered Safe Out Here' was the one greatest inspiration to wanting to learn a lot more.  

The publication of the 'Far East Handbook' by the Too Fat Lardies, was the final inspiration to really get this project underway. I had been holding on for it.  I like 'Chain of Command' a lot as a rule set.

Of course this leads to which figures to purchase for the project (unless one buys the figures first and then gets the books to find out more!).  

I think for me it was always going to be a skirmish game for this period. It just fits better with the short range actions which seem to be a frequent occurrence in the memoirs.  A platoon sized action or a company at maximum.  

I was looking to use 28mm figures at first but found few ranges which really interested me. I bought a section of Warlord Games Chindits, but found I needed to do work to make them look half decent. I might have been unlucky, but there were damaged guns, flashing issues, an absence of slings on rifles and LMG's etc.   I thought the figure range limited too.

Having operated in a jungle environment for 7 months on a deployment, I learned 3 things.  Moving through jungle is HARD.  You need both hands at times just to move - rifle slings are a must.  The other two things are: - jungle is frequently uphill or downhill (usually up!), and the other is the mud - it's everywhere, slippery, clingy, sticky mud.  I guess I could add other things, being constantly wet and exposed skin will be bitten, cut and bitten some more!

So I wanted to have figures who had a 'look' about them. Like they actually had been in that environment.  I saw these figures by AB Figures and realised they were the ones (they have slings too - the small details make me happy!).

I hadn't planned on going to 20mm. It's almost like it's the scale that wargamer grow out of when we move on from Airfix. Yet, as I am discovering, the scale has so much going for it.  Not least the perception of a lot more table space as the 20mm figures appear so much smaller than 28mm.   I can also use plastic kits for vehicles etc.

The AB Figures are fabulous.  I just wish the range was larger even though they really have a lot covered. The support weapons and choice between helmets and bush hats should really be sufficient for me.  There are no Japanese troops that I can see, but Eureka who stock the range in the UK have their own figures which are also very nice indeed.

One thing I really like about this scale is that washes can do a lot of the work. This is good as I am more 'time poor' these days than probably ever before  (I really must retire early!).  The sculpting really helps as it is well defined.  I was determined not to over-do work on these and ignore anything that did not need painting.  Washes and dry brushing did pretty well everything.  

I applied Vallejo Green Grey 70.886 as the basic colour for the uniform and webbing.  I later searched online (after painting the troops!) to see what other's use for the uniform and was pleased to see the same shade was chosen by others too.  I was keen to leave quite a lot of dark wash in the folds. Sweat will leave the shirts almost black green anyway. Webbing will lose colour and blend with wet and sweat. Dry brushing picked it out well enough.

I didn't darken the skin too much other than to apply a flesh wash over the basic Foundry Flesh 5 B.  I found in my own experience again, that troops go very tanned in rear echelon locations, but those who have been in the jungle for a while come out looking very pale indeed. Probably an effect of constantly wet skin too as well as lack of sunlight.  I read of the centre of Burma being largely open, with dusty plains too. It's easy to over think this stuff when putting paint on figures and picking the right shades!

I really like the support options.  The mortars and Vickers MG's have ammunition boxes etc on the bases or added to include.  This really adds interest and realism to it for me.

Below we have a 2" mortar team, A Bren team and a PIAT.

So when will I get these on the table? Well I will almost certainly be using Chain of Command so I won't need too many troops. I have followed my usual method of painting leaders with different coloured base edges for quicker identification during the game.  I have yet to formally organise these troops into sections yet but I will do. I just painted them up by the bag as I opened them!

I should start on the Japanese I purchased, though as the typical wargamer, now I have painted greens and bland colours, I really feel the need to paint redcoats and lace and all those good things!  


  1. Very nice work, they look great, nice figures too.

    1. Thanks Donnie, I'm glad you like them. Best wishes, Jason

  2. Superb minis and bases Jason, cracking job!

  3. Lovely stuff Jason. That Foundry Flesh B really is a nice base flesh colour. isn't it? Beautiful work.

    1. Thanks Lawrence, Yes, I really like a lot of those Foundry colours. The Flesh B works well.

  4. AB 20mm figures are superb Jason - I have a few and my mate Julian has LOTS! It is a great scale too - I went back to it after many years of 25/28mm (for both initial WW2 using CoC about 6 years ago) and then again for the SCW using the Minairons figures. The latter are as nice as AB and literally have all the detail that's present in 28mm - you just need better eyesight and painting skills to get them looking just as good as their larger cousins!
    I think the green you have done on these Far East theatre troops is spot on - great work!

    1. Thanks Keith, I shall definitely be getting more of the AB figures, my Burma campaign project is taking shape!