Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tyrannic War Veterans WIP, Part II: Sternguard Bolters

The box magazine protrudes slightly
from under the lower receiver
I guess I exaggerated when I said, "coming soon" with regards to Tyrannic War Veteran (TWV) updates; I ended up working on other models that I thought were more useful than Sternguard. On a whim, I played five Tactical Marines as a small Sternguard Squad during our recent Cabal tournament. The squad's special ammunition made short work of the Tau and did some major damage to the Orks. The next game night, when I played the same squad, I used their Vengeance rounds to wipe out Carl's Interceptors. When a group of only five Sternguard Marines proved to be an outstanding success, I decided to move up my plans for a ten man squad.

While the white helmet and shoulder pad trim show a Codex-compliant Marine to be a 1st Company Veteran, there is one simple detail that has become symbolic of the Sternguard: the large box magazine holding various types of special ammunition. While these magazines aren't absolutely necessary to show that a Marine is a member of the Sternguard (GW's site designates the Tyrannic War Veteran models as Sternguard, despite their seemingly standard equipment), the box magazine is a quick indicator that a Marine is carrying special ammunition.

The box magazine extends
up to the upper receiver
I had intended to forgo the special magazines when building a squad from plastic Marine parts since I didn't know where I could get the appropriate bits. However, I decided to attempt a conversion when I found that several modelers had built Sternguard bolters using standard bolters and box magazines taken from vehicle storm bolters. I wasn't entirely happy with some of the conversions since many modelers were simply cutting off the original curved magazines and gluing the box magazines directly below the lower receiver. Although this arrangement seems to match the line drawing of an Astartes Mk IIIsx bolter in the Space Marine codex, the result seems awkward to me.

The lower receiver extends
all the way to the forestock
Rather than replicate the Mk IIIsx bolter, I used the bolters on GW's Sternguard models themselves as a guide. The first thing I noticed is that the box magazine is roughly L-shaped. The right side of the magazine (i.e., the side that usually faces away from the Marine) covers the side of the bolter's lower receiver and extends all the way up to the bottom edge of the upper receiver. The bottom of the magazine (i.e., the portion that feeds ammunition into the bolter) runs under the lower receiver and protrudes slightly from the other side.

The easiest part of the conversion involved modifying a bolter by cutting off the curved magazine from the lower receiver. The switch on the side of the lower receiver had to be scraped or sliced off to avoid interfering with the new magazine. I usually removed the bolter's grip at this point, too.

Modified Space Marine bolter

Like the other modelers, I used the box magazines from the vehicle sprues. (When you realize that the storm bolter upgrade on a Land Raider costs as much as the multi-melta and that a storm bolter on a Razorback or a lascannon Predator is mostly a waste of points, you find that you have plenty of bits with which to do this conversion.) All Marine vehicles' storm bolters have two magazines, one on each half, but you have to watch out for the Land Raider Crusader's storm bolter. The Crusader's magazines are more ornate and only the right side magazine shows the bolts pointing the correct way.

Front and back ends of a vehicle storm bolter cut
away from the section with the magazine

After cutting the magazine free of the storm bolter, I made a horizontal slice parallel to the bottom of the magazine and immediately below the hole used to mount the storm bolter to the vehicle's pintle mount. (I apologize for the lack of photos here, I lost them in a computer crash a while back.) I had to be careful with the depth of this cut; the blade tended to accelerate once the cut got far enough. I frequently checked the depth of the cut against the width of the bolter's lower receiver.

Once the horizontal cut was made, I removed material to complete the L-shape with a series of vertical cuts. This was somewhat like slicing a loaf of bread. During this process, I frequently checked the fit of the magazine against the lower receiver. When I had removed the bulk of the plastic and had the shape I wanted, I scraped the vertical and horizontal surfaces to smooth and flatten them in order to get a close fit. When a dry fit showed that the magazine was correctly shaped, I glued it into place. The magazine had to be pushed up against the bolter's forestock to fit properly.

Front view of a modified bolter and magazine. The magazine
was carved into an L-shape to fit around the lower receiver.

Box magazine in place. Note that
the magazine contacts the forestock.

Box magazine in place. Note the slight protrusion
from under the lower receiver.

With the magazine in place, it's obvious that the lower receiver on a standard bolter is slightly different than that on GW's Sternguard bolters. Specifically, the plastic bolter has a small space between the lower receiver and the forestock. I filled the space with a small amount of Testors Contour Putty, which is easily scraped into the desired shape once dried.

I converted seven bolters using this method. The end result is close to GW's, although the magazines are a bit wider. Considering that GW shows Terminators using three different kinds of magazines within the same squad (mankind's ability to standardize equipment in the 41st Millennium is poor, apparently), I didn't feel too bad about not perfectly replicating their Sternguard bolters.

My other Sternguard members will be carrying either combi- or heavy weapons. Unfortunately, the combi-weapons that come with the Space Marine Commander box are not well suited to this conversion, so the Marines with the combi-melta and combi-plasma will have to settle for standard magazines.

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