Laser Destroyer Conversion

One of the Flakwagens that got
past the drawing board
UPDATE:  See the painted version here

Hi all!  As promised at the end of my last post, here's an update on my latest project - a Laser Destroyer!  This is not intended to be an everyday part of my army, instead it's just an idea which struck me and I decided to try and model it up.  The seeds were first sown playing the excellent Eastern Front mod for Company of Heroes.  I often play as the Luftwaffe faction, and their reward unit is the Nashorn Tank Destroyer bearing the dreaded 'eighty-eight' FlaK gun.  I love this gun, on the game and in history.  In the game, it's a basic necessity to stop waves of T-34s and KV-1s overunning you.  Its long range, enormous power and freakish accuracy make it a truly game-dominating artillery piece.

The Nashorn on the CoH EF mod
(piccy from the CoH Wiki)
Recently I finished an excellent book by Terry Gander on the 88.  As well as covering the famous FlaK 36 AA version everybody knows, it had a section on variants of the Flakwagen - a series of proposed designs which basically took 88s and put them on tank chassis, making them mobile.  (As opposed to making them part of an armoured casemate, like the Jagdpanther, these really are just a set of tracks with a gun balanced on top, little to no armour)  Really, the only feasible version of this was the Nashorn, but there were other designs like the one pictured, which featured a traversable turret (unlike the Nashorn) and deployable side platforms for the crew.  Why am I telling you all this?  Well, this was the picture I had in my head when I bought a Basilisk and thought, I can make a 40K Flakwagen.

I like the idea of powerful, long-ranged guns that are weak and underpowered up close - and good for 40K as it gives the enemy a bit of a chance with Deep Strikers and fast troops if I ever use it in a game. I decided to use a Basilisk as a base, so I had things like the weapon mounts, dampers, gun itself and a metal grill platform to start with.  I wanted a low-set gun, without a shield - a real 'rear line' weapon.  I'll talk you through the pics.

The publicity shot

Side on view - you can see the big gap I had to plug with Green Stuff sandbags and matchsticks.
Incidentally, I bought a huge bag of matchsticks from a craft shop
and they've lasted me ages.  Very cheap and very useful.

The crew area.  You can see the FW artillery trail at the top which the gun turns on.

Close up of sandbags, wooden beams, and the gun itself.
Liquid GS is perfect for sealing little gaps when kitbashing.

The upside down Earthshaker.  There's still some ugly glue lines that I'll probably paint as rust.

The whole thing again.  The hardest thing when scratch building is making the 'balance' of the whole
thing look just right, not too far forward or back.

The back has a movable platform which folds down ...

... like that!  It's not actually hinged or attached, so I can take it off.

The whole gun is mounted on an ordinary black base, which pivots
on this penny.  Agh!  I superglued it Queen's head down!  The shame!

The whole thing.

The hardest part was building up the gun to have all the sighting arrangements, wheels
and levers that it lost, and generally bulking it out without making it over-the-top.
Real-world reference photos are absolutely essential - I used some books on artillery
but to be honest a Google search of 'breech block assembly' will give you all the info you need.

Late into the night I added this etch piece - you won't see the gun like this but it
helps maintain the illusion a bit when the gun  isn't on.
My dilemma with this gun was recorded in the last post.  Am I being too beardy, making all sorts of big guns with which to smash my patient opponents?  Using VDR, I've toned it down to be a 10/10/10 vehicle, sporting an ordinary Laser Destroyer, minus the 'Blast' characteristic - basically a R 72", S 10 AP 2 Heavy 1 weapon.  Mean, but not too much worse than a lascannon?  What are your thoughts on beardiness in this regard?  I haven't build it specifically to power game my foes, but I can't deny that it's a formidable weapon (and poor old Headologist - this was originally supposed to have been an all-infantry army).

Anyway, thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts.  I have a whole host of projects in the works over the next few weeks, as well as long-overdue updates on others.  A list (mainly to remind myself):
Plenty to keep you going, so stay tuned!

The Colonel


  1. As your patient opponent I don't care how beardy it is, it's an absolutely stunning conversion

  2. If beardiness is your worry, you could field it as a Medusa with bastion breacher shells. 48" range, str 10 ap1 small blast, 2d6 armor pen. I always run Medusas with bastion breacher shells and I view them as a tank hunter, in my mind.

  3. That is a really neat looking conversion.

  4. Very nice! I really dig how that's turned out, and I definitely look forward to see it painted up!

  5. OMG That is so cool! wow Colonel Scipio! The overall look is amazing. Top stuff.

    I have three of the FW tank destroyers. They are not over the top at all, and usually achieve very little in games. My pick for rules would have to agree with BoxerSaint, and say the bastion breacher Medusa. I think it would fit well (except for the short range on the gun).

  6. okay, where'd you find that mod for CoH? (Can't wait for CoH2 next year!)

    This looks rather vicious! Really nasty, though wouldn't a cheeky easy krak missile would take it out with armour 10 all round?

  7. Medusae as tank hunters ?!?! Hummm, I think the game is broken, rather than our lists.

    OBTW, beautiful piece, looking forward to seeing more of it with all its twirly AA Laser destroyer goodness. Look out Duncan the Dragon, the Palladians are after you !

    1. You are all good and decent folk. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      @Headologist: Good of you to say so. The Force Organisation Charts prevent me being too beardy, I will have to drop the tank squadron to include this beast.

      @BoxerSaint: Well done that man! That's a great idea. I like the 2D6 Armour Penetration - mostly because I want a 'real-life' AT weapon, that is, one that's a waste if you fire it at infantry. The bonus for killing tanks could be the answer (coupled with quietly ignoring the blast maybe?) A great idea!

      @Courtney Hollyoake: Thanks! Painted pics to follow soon...

      @Mordian7th: Cheers! I was inspired to do a (less ambitious) vehicle after seeing your Leviathan, I'll confess!

      @Colonel Ackland: You're very kind. Are they the proper Laser Destroyers? Ooooh you lucky man! Bastion Breachers seem to be the way forward.

      @Dai: Google CoH Eastern Front, it has its own site - best mod ever! (Me and Headologist are on every day, drop me an email with your relic ID if you fancy a smash!) And yes, the krak missile would smash it very easily - that's part of the theme of a waffentrager (weapon carrier), as opposed to a super-armoued Jadgpanther. I hopefully will be as magnanamous when it's blown up by such a cheeky missile.

      @Zzzzz: Good point! Bring back VDR, let us create proper vehicles rather than resorting to 'counts as' all the time. Stay tuned for updates, thanks!

      @Sixgun: Hmmm another good suggestion. I suppose I could trial both and see which works best (ie most fairly). Cheers!

  8. I play (and built) mine as a turretless Vanquisher with a hull lascannon. Seems to work well for anti-tank work but not much else so nobody minds since the loss of the turret hurts me rather than them.

  9. Some excellent conversion work, well done!

  10. Echoing the other lads - well done Colonel - I've always liked the look and idea of the Basilisk and this takes it that next step - great looking conversion.

    I love the sandbags, I know they're not meant to be hard to do but I've never had my attempts turn out well at all - so well done for getting well formed and realistic looking bags.

  11. @Ray: Cheers mate! Love kitbashing - I was sad when I finished it :(

    @Rogue Pom: Thanks a lot. It is a lovely kit, and a perfect starting point since most of the key components were there and ready to rock. The sandbags are dead easy, just get a 1/2cm strip of Green Stuff and press a wet scalpel directly down into it at 1cm intervals. The downward pressure pinches the ends together, hence the sandbaggy look. Press a piece of cloth lightly into the top for some texture and you're done. I might do a mini-tutorial one of these days.

  12. First I have to say that this gun is one hell of a good conversion. Great work on it all the way around. To the rules bit, I have a converted tank in my Renegade Guard army that I field as a Medusa with bastion breacher shells, it works well at killing tanks or the odd Space Marine or two. My conversion looks a bit like a Stug, and I use it in that role running it around as an infantry support tank and dedicated armor hunter. Your mini is worth building some scenarios around I think. 40K isn't the best at representing the roles of specialized equipment like high powered SPG's in game. Just something to consider.

  13. Great Conversion. I will jump on the Medusa bandwagon, as it's easy for anyone to relate those rules to that vehicle. Maybe soon forgeworld will give the guard som new-old vehicles instead of just rules updates.

    1. @Chris: Thankyou very much. I do like to use real world inspirations - the StuG is a brilliant example. Do you remember a Golden Daemon diorama, it had two Steel Legion tanks back-to-back in a ruble-strewn urban setting? I thought they looked a but like StuGs. That last point about trying to make it *too* specialised is well noted. I suppose I'm trying to shoehorn a bit of realism into a fantasy game; I may make it a bit more of an all-rounder.

      @Spyrle: Thanks for stopping by :) This is exactly why I post these thing - I never would have thought of the Medusa. I am waiting eagerly for ANY new Guard stuff, but you're dead right that would be the perfect place to start!

    2. I do remember that diorama, it was absolutely excellent. I'm still amazed when I look at it in the old White Dwarf I remember it from. I think realistic special situations is where 40K has some issues. On a general fun to smash units together while shouting crazy things about your chosen faction, I think that's the strong suit of 40K. Things get a bit hinky when you try to play a scenario where a small force tries to knockout an enemy artillery piece. Real life is a bit like hike for a day towards target, hide in ditch to avoid patrol, observe target for hours, infiltrate target under cover of darkness, set charges on target, engage enemy in short fire fight, fall back to avoid being killed or captured, run all night to get back to friendly territory. That can make for fun set of scenarios. The 40K equivalent tends to be more like deepstrike a tactical squad with a meltagun next to the target, BOOM! Back to the strike cruiser for tea and medals. Both can be fun, but one is a little more engaging in my opinion.

  14. Exactly. And I think that's the way, for better or worse, that it has to be. There are a lot of realistic wargames out there like Force on For e and NUTS which are made to try and replicate elements of real combat; 40K isn't one of them as you rightly point out with that perfect example. The reason I love the Guard is that I can bring in my historical interests into this setting - sometimes that involves straining the system with more realism than it can bear. But at the end of the day this can count as a laser destroyer, so it can take part in the games which is what counts I suppose.

  15. I could have sworn I had already replied here, but as you both say there are games out there for that more "realistic" appraoch. But then our spin on the fluff definitely leans towards the realistic. My Marines have never once just yelled and charged in fluff terms, similarly the original concept for them was sneaky, 13th-century Welsh Marines. Marines really shouldn't be doing sneaky, they're at least 7 foot tall for crying out loud (again I tend towards the less uber giant Marines) so I shifted the focus from sneaky to fast/hard-hitting (proper tactical terminology).

    "Real life is a bit like hike for a day towards target, hide in ditch to avoid patrol, observe target for hours..." - This was the idea behind my Scouts, they are supposed to be doing stuff like this, and one reason I gaven them all small packs and wild fowl/rabbits tied to said packs (mostly for the sake of coolness, but to show the idea that they're living off the land whilst deployed for however long that may be).


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