So how is all this reflected on the table top?
So What Came Before?The uniforms that many of the armies went to war with in the Twilight War were a reflection that many armies in the 1990s were in transition (even if the Cold War did not end in 1991, many armies had decided to update their uniforms, and these modernization plans would have proceeded).
So, what did these uniforms look like?
Camopedia is a great resource for this, if you aren't using it, you should. It is simply an exhaustive and amazing resource. Internet searches will often find the rest you happen to be looking for.
The United States of America: The United States was soldering on into the Twilight War with the ubiquitous M81 Woodland Camouflage Uniform (affectionately known as the BDU, short for Battle Dress Uniform). It was copied by a number of nations, but the United States was the most prolific wearer of the uniform.
M81 Woodland Pattern Camouflage
As the war ground on, and supplies of M81 uniforms began to run short, other, older uniforms began to be issued to later mobilizing formations, this was especially true of units being formed after the nuclear exchange. A mix of OG-107 Uniforms and in some cases, the Tropical Combat Uniforms from Vietnam were issued or used as replacement uniforms.
OG-107 Uniform (taken from Soldier of Fortune webshop)
Tropical Combat Uniform (taken from Soldier of Fortune webshop)
Though these uniforms were issued "as is" it was often the case, especially during the long winters of the war, that they were modified by soldiers in cantonment, common modifications were the addition of the US Flag patches, the addition of thigh cargo pockets to the OG-107 trousers, and darkening of the brass belt buckle of the OG-107 belts.
Desert uniforms were in the three color pattern, which had begun issue in 1991, and by 1995, had reached all of the units slated for deployment to the Middle East (in some cases, being issued right on the tarmac or pier side as units departed for Iran).
Three Color Desert BDUs
The huge stocks of the original six-color "chocolate chip" pattern were distributed to a variety of American allies, especially Iran, but as the war ground on, some wound up with American units as replacement issue due to the fact no new three color uniforms were arriving from the United States.
Six Color Desert BDUs
The United Kingdom: The British Army was going through a transition from the Pattern 1984 and the Pattern 1994 (which had seen limited issue) to the Soldier 95 uniform system, which was meant to function in any environment. Soldier 95 did see issue to most of the Regular formations, as well as to the Royal Marines, but many of the TA (Territorial Army) formations, as well as conscripts, went to war before the nuclear exchange in a mix of Pattern 1984 and Pattern 1994 uniforms. Incidentally, many regulars wore the tropical pattern of DPM pre-war. It is distinguished by a slightly lighter shade of colors involved in the pattern, but it is hard to tell unless you know what you are looking for.
Soldier 95 Pattern
Pattern 1994 DPM
Pattern 1984 DPM
After the nuclear exchange, the issue of uniforms got a bit more confused, and stocks of all three uniforms ran low. While a wartime economy uniform in olive green known as the "98 Pattern" was issued, supplies of it were often low as the British textile industry (like much of the economy) was in shambles. Thus, a mix of uniforms was often issued, such as tropical DPM, desert DPM, and in at least one case, Korean-war issue Battledress that had been found in a warehouse, complete with Denison smocks.
The Federal Republic of Germany: Germany was in a transitional phase with it's uniforms when war came. While about a third of the Bundeswehr had converted over to the new Flektarn uniform (this was mostly concentrated in the airborne units, and some of the Panzergrenadier battalions attached to the Panzer divisions), most were still soldiering on with the old Olivgrun uniform, this was especially true in the reserves.
Flecktarn Camo Pattern
Olivgrun Combat Uniform
As the war went nuclear, and the supply lines broke down, later arriving replacements, as well as uniform replacements became a mix of sources, mostly consisting of the Splitternmunster pattern uniforms which had been retired in the 1960s. Not many of these were issued, as there were ample stocks of the Olivgrun uniforms, and due to it's simplicity, it was easy to produce new Olivgrun uniforms from cottage industries.
As for the East Germans, their army's integration with the West German one was to say the least, a thorny issue that was decided, best left for after the war. Thus, the East Germans went to war with what they had and wore their distinctive Strichmunster, or "rain" camouflage for the entire war, with ample stocks available as replacement issue as needed.
Canada: The Canadian Army was in the midst of a planned transition from the Olive Green Combat Uniform which had been around since the 1960s to the planned issue of CADPAT (which wound up never actually being issued until well after the Twilight War). Thus, the Army continued to soldier on with the Combat Dress for the entire war, even after the nuclear exchange, as with the German Olivgrun uniform, it was easy to produce in many cottage industries.
Canadian Army Combat Dress (taken from Canadian Army.com)
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: The Soviets at the beginning of hostilities had a dizzying array of uniforms they issued their forces, including the ubiquitous khaki uniform (which had been modernized in 1985 and now had cargo pockets and a field cap and was affectionately known as the "afghanska" ). Most camo patterns were issued as either a one piece or two piece pullover.
This however, began to change in 1981, with the issue of the tritsvetnaia kamuflirovannaia odezhda
(TTsKO) pattern. TTsKO was at first, issued as a six-pocket uniform meant for VDV and SF personnel, but it rapidly was developed into a variety of other patterns and uniforms.(It was by no means, general issue, however).
By 1995, many Category A units were wearing some form of TTsKO "afghanska", or at least khaki "afghanska", with TTsKO pullover smocks and many other B and C units had at least been issued some version of the older KLMK one or two piece smocks, and also wore "afghanska". Many Mobilization Only units made do with a mix of World War II "leaf" pattern camo smocks and wore the M-1969 uniforms, this was especially true after the nuclear exchanges.
TTsKO Green/Brown Pattern, this was the most common Soviet camouflage pattern seen in Europe during the Twilight War.
M-1985 Summer Uniform, the most common uniform worn by Soviet forces during the Twilight War (taken from russianwarrrior.com)
The M-1969 Uniform, this began to become more common with Mobilization Only divisions called up after the nuclear exchange, or as replacement uniforms to other units. (taken from Russianwarrior.com)
A later pattern of KMLK pattern camouflage
Poland: The Polish Army had a number of uniforms it was transitioning into and out of when hostilities broke out in 1996. There was first, the wz89 "Zaba" pattern, which had seen general issue throughout the Polish military, but was being phased out in favor of the wz93 pattern, which bore a resemblance to the American M81 pattern. Alas, the only units that got wz93 uniforms were the 6th "Pomeranian" Air Assault Division, and the 7th Marine Division. As for called up reserve units, including the ORMO, they made do with varying versions of the wz68 "Moro" or "worm" uniform. Many of these latter uniforms were later issued as replacements as stocks of the Zaba uniform ran out and home made versions of the Moro (often without the "worms") were made in Krakow for the city's defense forces.
wz89 "Zaba" pattern of camouflage
wz93 pattern of camouflage
wz68 "Moro" pattern of camouflage
Czechoslovakia: The Czechs were transitioning from their long serving "needles" pattern of camouflage uniform, which was based on a Polish design, to a new "leaf" pattern that looked vaguely like the US M81 Woodland pattern.
Issue of the new uniform began on the eve of the Soviet invasion of China, and was limited to select Category A units in the Czech Army when the war began in Europe. All of the other elements of the army, along with the paramilitary organizations soldiered on with the older "needles" pattern.
After the nuclear exchange, many uniforms began to be replaced with local copies of the "needles" pattern (often without the needles, leading to a uniform that hued from slate to light grey, though such poor quality control was common even before the war, it just became more pronounced after the exchange, with one unit being dressed in "needles" pattern uniforms with the grey background being almost pink, the uniforms being made in a former dress factory). This continued for the rest of the Twilight era, as the uniform was easy to produce in local industry.
Vz95 "Leaf" camouflage pattern
"Needles" pattern camouflage
In the Field
In addition to the "war economy" versions of uniforms being issued, or the older ones being pulled from warstocks, there was a myriad of improvisation being carried out by the soldiers themselves in the field. The long winters of the war, especially after the exchange, gave soldiers long periods to modify their uniforms in a myriad of ways, and as discipline became more relaxed at the front with regards to dress and grooming standards, soon, the only standard became "make sure your own side knows who the hell you are."
Thus, creations like the US 8th Infantry Division's "Red OGs" as collectors call them, where captured Soviet uniforms, dyed crudely with Olive Drab dye (closer to olive than drab), and adorned with crude US flags were born. (Page 1, Uniforms in the Twilight War, Langham)
To give you an idea of what a single US infantryman looked like by the year 2000, take the example of this US Marine in Iran:
Steel helmet with old pattern desert cover (although this appears to be a Kevlar cover), Soviet paratrooper (“hooped”) T shirt under a Pakistani copy of the British “woolly pully” with added chest pockets (probably ex Iraqi Army), new pattern BDU trousers and French boots. Woodland pattern assault vest with British 90 pattern NBC pouch worn by waist strap. (Page 2, Uniforms in the Twilight War, Langham)
As time went on, many armies settled for simply "issuing" new soldiers a simple armband, this was especially common when those troops were to be used for internal security duties. These armbands came in many sizes and shapes, with the best well known being the New American "Blue Lone Star" armband.
In short, by the time the fighting ended due to the mutual exhaustion of the combatants, it could be said that no two soldiers on the same side, let alone the opposite side, looked alike.
On the Table
So, how best to do this on the table? There are a myriad of ways, putty, files, use of after market vehicle kits (which often have rucksacks). Many figure manufacturers sell separate heads, such as Ehliem, Ground Zero Games, Peter Pig, and Raventhorpe, to name a few. A simple head swap alone can make a lot of difference in making a figure look more "Twilight: 2000".
Armbands are a simple matter with putty, it doesn't take much to do so, and in fact, scale thickness is key, simply take a small pinch of putty, pull it around the arm, let settle, and then paint appropriately.
Never be afraid to raid a bit box, as there are a ton of things that can be found to modify figures, especially 20mm scale figures, but even 15mm figures can be changed if there is time and patience. Plastic figures, by and large, are easier to modify than metal, but with patience, putty, the right tools and time, metal figures can be easily modified.
Whatever changes you choose to make, keep in mind, plan your changes beforehand, and keep in mind, less is more. Making 8-10 changes in a figure risk all sorts of problems, whereas 2-3 changes keeps things manageable, and PLAN IT OUT BEFORE HAND. "Measure twice, cut once" isn't just a mantra, it's a good idea.
That concludes things here, next time, I will begin to talk more about my collection..and my slow and steady attempts to expand it.