Table Ready Feature: Support Players – Atlas and Argonaut Recovery Vehicles

[This post was originally posted to Otherverse Games & Hobbies as part of a series called Plastic to Painted, or P2P. You may see logos or references to this site and series]

Is there a AAA for tanks?

It’s a good time to be a treadhead, and an especially good time to be an Imperial Guard treadhead. Oh, the Imperial Guard? I know, it’s the Astra Mili-whatsit now, but I’ve been with the hobby for a hot minute and change is heresy… hard.

Nonetheless, with a shiny new codex in the wings, the Rogal Dorn Battle Tank plastic kit about to drop, and a slew of new Guard models (New sculpts! Gasp!) to add to my pile of shame this holiday season, it’s truly a time to be thankful!

With an army like the Armageddon Steel Legion that rolls out onto the barren ash wastes of the game board with more tanks than infantry models (sometimes literally), It’s easy to imagine that all those tanks need lots of fuel, supplies, and spare parts to keep moving in the field. That’s not mentioning when a tank gets disabled and needs to be recovered from the battlefield to continue serving the Emperor! The Guard, being regular old humans, often lend themselves to some additional 21st century realism bleeding into grimdark 40k. While Space Marines drop from orbit in the nick of time with their shiny armor, fancy genetics and additional organs, I imagine the Guard is often stuck in the mud, doing thankless tasks for years before the cavalry arrives.

(Photo Credit: Games Workshop)

True to its name, the Atlas Recovery Tank is designed to recover disabled or damaged tanks, or in some cases, repair them on the spot! Obviously inspired by real world Armored Recovery Vehicles or ARVs, it features a supercharged engine to pull stuck tanks out of the mud, and a crane with a winch to pull damaged tanks back onto their tracks or out of the combat zone for further repairs. 

Atlas ARV
Argonaut ARV

The Atlas Recovery Tank has long been seconded to Warhammer Legends, and its usefulness has waxed and waned with editions, but regardless of its tabletop utility it’s a great model to paint up to give a tank regiment some real-world flavor. Finding a model to paint up can be tricky however. The original Forgeworld resin kit is long out of production. Recasts of various quality occasionally pop up on Ebay, often for stupid $$$. Thankfully for mere mortals, the Atlas is one of the more fun models to kitbash on your own or try out a third-party kit. It’s unlikely that an Atlas will end up in a GW tournament game, so why not have some fun with it?

Per the lore (and the original FW kit) the Atlas is based on a Leman Russ chassis. So if you’re like me and swimming in tank bits, a Leman Russ hull sans-turret is an excellent base for an Atlas conversion. A good place to look for parts are 1:35 scale tank models. Most 1:35 scale ARV (Armored Recovery Vehicle) kits will have a crane and all the bits you need to make your turretless Russ start looking like a proper Atlas for surprisingly little money. Another bonus is that Tamiya and other reputable model kits have excellent detail, and tons of little plastic bits that you’ll find useful for 40k kitbashing for years to come!

The third-party kit that I went with to compliment my real GW Atlas is the “Argonaut ARV” from Models and Minis. This kit was a cinch to assemble, with crisp detail, minimal resin flash, and no warped parts (take that FW!). All I needed to complete the kit was a pair of Chimera Tracks, and — Voila — I have a “counts-as” Atlas that looks great!

Unlike assembling the Argonaut, the real Forgeworld Atlas was a royal PITA to assemble. All of the major panels were warped, most had significant flash and mold lines, and even after using copious heat application and green stuff to correct the most egregious gaps, the model is still slightly lopsided if you look closely. Le sigh. I gave up on perfection, added some model chain to the crane and painted it up. 

Thankfully my Steel Legion paint scheme is relatively straightforward, mostly consisting of Vallejo khaki, Citadel Agrax Earthshade wash and Vallejo pale sand highlights. I do like to add the little British-style battalion flashes in red and white to break up the monotony of the tan armor.

One of these days I’ll get around to building a proper display for these beasts of burden, but until then they’ll be waiting for the call. 

“Commissar Hayden sir? Lieutenant Mortis drove our Chimera into a ditch again…”

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Something of an expert on printing, kitbashing, and hunting for models to keep his beloved abandoned GW factions alive a little longer. Usually finds the bandwagon about 10 years after it left the station. Can usually be found repairing old cameras or rusty hoopties in his spare time. Voted most likely to ask “Can I use this soda-can carnifex?” at an official tournament.

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