With the exception of the Space Wolves (which I no longer have), this is probably the oldest 40K army I painted and still have access to, somewhere? It may be buried deep in storage but it’s certainly not forgotten. By my current standard the paint palette is dreadfully flat, but I still like the theme of the force even if it’s somewhat dated now. This was my second attempt at a 40K Tournament and if I recall the Recon heavy nature of the force gave a number of my opponents more than a few headaches. If it had one big weakness it was a lack of elite and heavy weapon specialist which meant armour heavy opponents in particular were a tough nut for me to crack. The Scout ‘bike’ formation however is one I would probably like to forget! One of those ideas that sounds great on paper, but in reality…. Not so much. Enjoy.
Sooner or later many players get the urge to create their own Space Marine Chapter, me being no different. I made that decision leading up to the 2002 UK Grand Tournament and thought it would be good idea to set about fielding a force of my own making. Little did I know then what a huge task I would set myself over the coming months leading up to the event, and more interestingly in years to come.
The idea for the Chapter, like so many, came about entirely by accident. It was a couple of years earlier when a friend was trying to gather ideas for his own Space Marine force, but was stumped on a background he liked. After sketching out and discarding a dizzying array of suggestions, I came up with the idea of a desert based Chapter, one very nomadic in nature. I jotted down various designs and ideas for him and he mulled over them for months to come before eventually abandoning the project altogether. I had completely forgotten about it until I discovered my original notes while researching my own Chapter design for the tournament. Taking the original idea and penning a few more sketches I fleshed out the initial design for what was to eventually become the ‘Sand Jackals’
I have included the initial concept background in a link at the bottom of this page, but in short I followed a few basic themes. The first was that the entire Chapter would be based on a reconnaissance theme, highly mobile and featuring a great deal of lightly armoured scouts. One of the strong images I drew upon was that of the Egyptian Gods, specifically Anubis, which is where the black headed Jackal theme originated. This also to a degree set my palette of colours which would be sand beige and black, both which contrasted well together.
I also dispensed with any ideas of skimmers or jump packs in the army, instead opting for lightly armed and fast buggies instead (hence the Panther design). The bikes would be replaced by riding lizards. With the basics of the army worked out the rest kind of fell into place as I went along and began work on the four full Scout squads and two tactical squads, as well as sculpting up the Chapter iconography for the vehicle doors.
The Jackals had a very mixed result at the tournament gaming wise and although they were selected as a Best Army finalist in both the heats and final, their lack of heavy weapons found them wanting against more heavily armoured forces such as the ubiquitous three Leman Russ Guard armies and multiple War Walker Eldar forces. Against more balanced armies they fared a lot better making up for their lack of heavy weapons with weight in numbers of basic troops and a decent mobility. they are very much an army in development and one which has a lot of potential for future additions including some more sizeable transport and some Dreadnoughts to give them some flexibility against armoured targets and assault oriented elites.
out of all of the armies I have assembled to date, the Sand Jackals is the only one I have set no limit on, happy to simply keep adding more units and models to every once in a while until I run out of ideas.
The Scout Squads
Out of the three main scout squads, this is probably my favourite, for no other reason than it was the first one I made and painted (that coupled with the fact that it was the most successful during the tournament). Other than the various head swap conversions and the use of marine helmets on some of the models, the main change to this squad was the addition of scopes, fold out stocks and suppressors to the boltguns. This was done to make the weapons appear slightly different to the regular Godwyn pattern bolters as well as more appropriate for the kind of stealthy infiltration missions that the Sand Jackal scouts would likely perform.
The only slight downside of this was a number of players mistook the bolters for snipers rifles (the look of relief on their faces when I pointed out the fact they were bolters with suppressors was worth the effort).
As with squad two, the scout sergeant is from the old Space Wolf range and makes an interesting addition to the squad having slightly more armour as well as a completely different backpack, which is from an old Imperial Guard Storm Trooper I believe. Painting the wolf pelt on his chest in light brown also made an ideal Jackal Pelt helping to further develop the armies character and identity. reusing models in this way from other ranges is a great way of creating your own theme or identity for your chapter and is something I do quite often when working on various armies.
The second Scout Squad was put together to be purely for assaults having a full loadout of bolt pistols and close combat weapons. Again, similar to the first squad the models are drawn from a variety of scout ranges both old and new and have been converted to ensure no duplicates. Adding head coverings and helmets is also a good way to break up the uniformity of the squad and help create a themed look.
It is safe to say by the time that I got to doing this scout squad I was thoroughly tired of making and painting scouts! As I have already mentioned in the description of the second scout squad I don’t like duplicates of models in my army, luckily the release of more Wolf Scout models helped bolster the number of different models so these were added to this squad with a few weapons changes.
Again a number of models were given desert headgear sculpted with green stuff, the front three in particular being favourites. It is difficult to see from the photographs, but every model in the army was given blue eyes; the geneseed defect of the Sand Jackals being naturally photo chromatic eyes (natural sun shades if you like).
In gaming terms, the mix of close combat weapons and shotguns made them pretty versatile; the extra shots that the shotguns gave making them a good force for assaults with 14 shots compared to the usual 10 at close range before charging into assault. Along with the other scout squads in the Sand Jackals the sheer number of infiltrators I could deploy made more than one opponent nervous during the tournament. That said a few more heavy weapons wouldn’t have gone amiss as tanks proved to be a bit of a handful without the help of melta bombs. Definitely food for thought next time I field this army.
The sniper squad has to contain two of my favourite models from the army; those being the prone sniper and the scout sergeant. The prone sniper was made from a Catachan Sniper with a few modifications. To turn him into a scout I removed the boots and replaced them with ones from a spare Space marine Scout, likewise the addition of the marine shoulder armour.. To bulk the model out a bit more I used green stuck to build up the back and shoulders where his backpack would normally be and then used more green stuff to sculpt his desert coloured sheet which he is using to disguise his shape. For the final change I removed the barrel and muzzle of the sniper rifle which was a different design to those used by the Adeptus Astartes and scratch built a barrel and suppressor from plastic rod to match those in the rest of the squad.
For the Scout Sergeant I replaced his close combat weapon with an Auspex and scratch built the snipers rifle that is slung over his back from plastic card and green stuff. This helps tie him into the squad more as I always thought it strange that a Sergeant leading a sniper team could only have a bolt pistol. Even though he can’t actually use the weapon in gaming terms, he at least looks like he has swapped weapons from his usual rifle to deal with the enemy up close.
The Scout with the Autocannon is a straight forward conversion from the Heavy Bolter. The muzzle and extra cables were removed and the barrel replaced with a scratch built one to match the autocannon barrel found on the Dreadnought (Forge World’s version).
The scout bike squadron was one of those conversions that just seemed the right idea at the time and is one of those things you either love or hate. I like space marine bikes, but for my Sand Jackals I wanted to do something a bit different, so I mounted them on riding lizards instead as it was more in keeping with a nomadic force that specialised in desert warfare.
The mounts are unconverted and are simply Dark Elf Cold Ones. The flesh colours were a base colour of dark flesh and brown ink over which increasing amounts of bleached bone were applied for the folds and highlights in the skin. For the bony plating I started with scab red into which I mixed blood red for the edges and then blazing orange for the final highlights.
To make the scouts fit I carefully repositioned the legs and then cut the left arm at the elbow and wrist, repositioning it so that it brought the arm across their chest more as opposed to stuck straight out forward. I had hoped to add harnessing and reigns (hence the hand repositioning), but unfortunately ran out of time so this will be the first thing I do to finish them off properly.
Looking back at these now in retrospect, they are pure comedy gold! Decent enough idea, just badly executed and probably not one I’ll revisit.
Tactical and Devastator Squads
Other than adding suppressors to the boltguns to match the scouts, I changed virtually nothing on the Space Marine Tactical squads, pretty much assembling them straight out of the box as it were. the only choice I actively made was that each of the squad would have identical helmets, those being the ones with the targetter on the side. To help identify the sergeant I painted the helmet in a dark green, but still kept the black muzzle on all the helmets which was one of the primary colours of the Jackals and is a theme that I continued throughout the entire army.
Mounted in a Rhino this squad, along with the second tactical squad in their Razorback were used as my primary ‘take and hold’ force having the mobility to race ahead of the infiltrated scouts. With virtually all of the force either mechanised or infiltrators, the Sand Jackals gave me the ability to quickly grab table quarters and the numbers to hold onto them. Something a lot of my opponents were not prepared for.
I changed very little on the Devastators other than few pose changes and using some of the assault marine legs as they generally look fine just as they are. The only model that received any real treatment was the marine with the missile launcher. Although there is nothing wrong with the ‘shooting’ pose I liked the idea of a marine ‘reloading’ his weapon. With the help of the models that were running forward it gave the squad some movement, making them appear to be advancing on the enemy rather than their usual stationary pose.
To make the missile launcher I removed the attached right arm and shoulder pad, then carefully cleaned up the model and resculpted the launchers tube with a little green stuff. I then cut through the handle making a gap large enough to fit a closed fist through and repositioned the arms so that he appeared to be dropping a missile into the tube. The trigger grip was taken from a plastic bolter and the power connection drilled out to add a little more realism to the detail where the power cable had been removed.
For the heavy bolters the barrels and muzzle vents were simply drilled out with a pin vice before painting.
HQ and Recon
Without a doubt the squad I enjoyed making and painting by far the most, especially the Chaplain which was the inspiration behind making this army. The “Anubis” and Jackal headed imagery was at the centre of this armies background so it was fitting that I made the Chaplain and his ‘Jackal’ helmet the focus of the command squad. The Apothecary was also a model I wanted to spend some time on as I wanted to capture the mix of Imperial equipment and armour with the more traditional tribal “medicine man” background of the marine; hence his totem staff and Servo Skull.
Originally I had made a more stereotypical standard bearer with straight vertical banner, however whilst rooting around in some bits boxes I came across the Warhammer Empire standard which seemed a lot more interesting. Using that did present its own problems however, specifically in how to paint a design that followed the folded shape of the cloth.
At some stage in the future I will add to the Sand Jackals HQ characters to include a Chapter Master and Elite bodyguard. That however is for another time.
Out of all the models in the army I took to the tournament, the Panther probably received the most comments, which was a surprise to me as I had only added it as a minor afterthought. When I originally devised the background to the Sand Jackals I tried to avoid using any kind of skimmers or jump packs as much as possible (hence no assault squads) as the idea of all that desert sand and any kind of intake just seemed to be a disaster waiting to happen.
As I wanted to include a Land Speeder the obvious solution was to convert it into a kind of buggy instead. This is something of a classic conversion that has been done a number of times in the past by various players, the most notable (in my opinion at least)being Tony Carrusco’s Blood Angel 4×4. Using Tony’s original concept I developed it a bit further and added a chassis, engine, exhausts and a front suspension from various parts of an Ork Buggy and Land Raider. The missile launcher came from the plastic Space Marine Dreadnought which fitted beautifully onto the side. The other great thing about this design is that different weapon load out s can be made using the other dreadnought weapons such as the assault cannon or twin-linked lascannons. At some stage I will get around to finishing off some of the missed details such as the roof mounted spot lamps and company marking. Definitely one of my favourites this one.