Force on Force - Chaco War

A placeholder for now that contains info from Robert Burke from a post on The Miniatures Page along with additional information.

The Gran Chaco War in 15mm


Irregular Miniatures make a dozen codes for each side, which includes infantry, machine guns, cavalry, mortars, and artillery
CHAP1 Paraguayan Infantry Rifleman Advancing
CHAP2 Paraguayan Infantry SMG Advancing
CHAP3 Paraguayan Infantry LMG Advancing
CHAP4 Paraguayan Infantry Engineer/Standard Bearer
CHAP5 Paraguayan Infantry Officer with Pistol
CHAP6 Paraguayan HMG and Two Crew
CHAP7 Paraguayan Cavalryman
CHAP8 Paraguayan Horse Holder and Horse
CHAP9 Paraguayan Mortar and Two Crew
CHAP10 Paraguayan Mountain Gun and Four Crew
CHAP11 Paraguayan Field Gun and Four Crew
CHAP12 Paraguayan Howitzer and Four Crew
CHAB1 Bolivian Infantry Rifleman Advancing
CHAB2 Bolivian Infantry SMG Advancing
CHAB3 Bolivian Infantry LMG Advancing
CHAB4 Bolivian Infantry Engineer/Standard Bearer
CHAB5 Bolivian Infantry Officer with Binoculars
CHAB6 Bolivian HMG and Two Crew
CHAB7 Bolivian Cavalryman
CHAB8 Bolivian Horse Holder and Horse
CHAB9 Bolivian Mortar and Two Crew
CHAB10 Bolivian Mountain Gun and Four Crew
CHAB11 Bolivian Field Gun and Four Crew
CHAB12 Bolivian Howitzer and Four Crew

Khurasan Miniatures makes infantry, machine guns, and mortars
KM-2800 Bolivian Infantry Squad
KM-2801 Paraguayan Infantry Squad
KM-2802 Bolivian MG Teams
KM-2803 Paraguayan MG Teams
KM-2804 Bolivian Mortar Teams
KM-2805 Paraguayan Mortar Teams

For variety, Peter Pig's Spanish Civil War Assault Guards (SCW 15, 16, and 17) could work for Bolivians

Eureka's 1941 Filipinos could pass as Paraguayans


Peter Pig's CV33 tank (suitable as a Bolivian tankette) (received after fighting was over)
Old Glory 25s Carden Lloyd Mk. VI Tankettes (suitable as Bolivian tankette)
Old Glory 15s Carden Lloyd Carrier 
QRF's T-26 and T-26TU Bolivian Vickers tanks
QRF's Vickers E, 6 tonne Type B (short 47mm gun) and Vickers E, 6 tonne Type A (twin MG turrets)
True North's 7TPjw (short 47mm gun) and 7TPdw (twin MG turrets)
Gaming Models' 7TPjw and 7TPdw
Minairon's T-26 A and B - quick to assemble and a good cost when just buying the individual sprues

The Bolivians had one Type A and two Type B Vickers and at least two Carden Lloyd tankettes.  It appears that the Paraguayans did not have any armor.


Old Glory 15s 2.5-ton truck (without the top)
Zvezda ZIS-5 Soviet Truck


Shapeways has several interwar airplanes suitable for use in the Chaco War in 1/100th (15mm) scale. The Bolivians used the Curtiss Hawk II and the Curtiss-Wright Osprey. The Paraguayans used the Potez 25 and the Fiat CR20.  Sadly, no on seems to make a Curtiss Falcon in 1/100th scale.

Many gamers use 1/144th scale aircraft with their 15mm figures, and Shapeways does have many of the same types mentioned above along with several others.  Breguet 19A2, Wibault 73C, Vickers 143 Scout, Curtiss Cyclone Falcon, Junkers K43, Curtiss Hawk II, Potez 25, Fiat CR20, and the Curtiss Wright Osprey are all available.

There are 1/72 Airplane decals on ebay for the Bolivian and Paraguayan air forces, which could be photocopied at a reduced scale to fit 1/100th or 1/144th airplanes.  They are made by Blue Rider Publishing.



The Conduct of the Chaco War by David H Zook, 1960.


Wargaming (rules, blogs, and boardgames):

A World Aflame (rules for wargaming the interwar period)
A Wargaming Odyssey blog
Battle Phlox blog
Chaco War rules (from Bob Cordery)
Command Magazine #12 had an article and a boardgame on The Chaco War
Khurasan Miniatures blog
Micromark army lists
My Blog blog
Nanawa Verdun in the Chaco War (Firefight Games)
GDW had a boardgame on the Chaco War
Wargaming Miscellany blog


Taken from the Khurasan site:

The Chaco War was a conflict between two small South American nations, Bolivia and Paraguay, over what many see as a worthless piece of land -- the Gran Chaco, a hot and semi-arid place virtually devoid of water or useful resources, a place so awful that it is sometimes referred to as the "Green Hell." Neither country saw it that way, however -- the Bolivians had been made landlocked in previous wars and desperately sought access to the sea, which occupation of the Chaco would afford them, as it bordered the Paraguay River, which empties into the Atlantic. As the Paraguay River runs right through Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, the Paraguayans saw Bolivian access to this river as a deadly threat to the small, desperately poor nation's very survival. Further complicating matters were rumors of oil deposits in the Gran Chaco. So this was not the "pointless war" that it is so often dismissed as being, but rather two small countries fighting over something both needed and could not find a way to share with the other.

Much to the surprise of the world, Paraguay emerged with a splendid though costly victory in the war, despite its much smaller population and more meager resources, due to greatly shorter supply lines, good leadership and government/military cooperation, better infantry tactics, and the early use of infantry mortars (a much more practical weapon in the Chaco than heavy guns). But perhaps the most important advantage was the high fighting spirit of the Paraguayan infantryman, who might have looked most unimpressive in his unmartial uniform (and, not infrequently, his bare feet), but is nonetheless often seen as the best infantry fighter in all of South America. Tenacious on the defense, in the attack he used infiltration tactics as had the Stosstruppen in the First World War, encircling the enemy with his machete in one hand, his Mauser in the other. The Bolivian infantry on the other hand were greatly hampered by many obstacles, such as a rigid class system, an enormous trek to get to the battle zone, and the incompatibility of peoples from high altitudes to fighting on a hellish, flat terrain. It is a testament to their tenacity that they fought as hard as they did on numerous occasions.

Despite the fact that it was overwhelmingly an infantry war, and fought with the weaponry of the late First World War, campaigns were often quite fluid rather than being bogged down in trench warfare. (That said, there were several epic sieges and point-defense battles, such as that mini-Verdun of the New World, the Battle of Nanawa.) In some ways it resembles what the Spring 1918 Offensive might have been had it been extended into an entire war. One additional dimension was the difficulty in finding drinking water in the Chaco, and the extent to which a small force with adequate water could roll up vastly superior enemy formations that were cut off from their water supplies, making for very interesting scenarios.

This line can be used to wargame the Chaco War with any of the popular rules sets currently available for either World War 1 or World War 2, including very popular WWII rules sets that use multiple basing. Infantry squads of about eight men were normal, and this is the basic pack in the line. The Bolivians have largely Vickers-supplied weapons, the Paraguayans have weapons from various countries.


  1. Great collection of resources - interesting to see you involved in the air war as well. This one has been on the back burner for me for a while - this might kick start it! Cheers.

    1. Indeed, the air war seems to be the direction I am heading:

  2. Hi, what colours would you recommend for painting Paraguay and Bolivia uniforms?

    1. To be honest, I never got around to painting the figures. My gaming has been reduced greatly, and mostly focusing on naval and air. But I would use the Khurasan website as my guide if I were.


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