Thursday, 20 April 2017
My small partisan force (take a look at the basic infantry and their light supports) is great fun to play using rules like Bolt Action - they are a classic horde force that tends to gain victories by sheer force of numbers. Well-equipped they are not, but they can generate a surprising amount of small-arms firepower. This is great for infantry-only conflicts, but as soon as my opponent fields armored vehicles, even lightly armored troop transports and armored cars, they really find themselves desperately short of heavier weapon options.
With these reinforcements I hope to plug that gap.
First up is a captured Italian Cannone da 75/27 howitzer. It is a bit of a beast for a partisan force - too heavy to be easily towed - and those that were captured in the Balkans were more likely to be destroyed than deployed. But in Bolt Action terms I will use it to represent a light howitzer, the only artillery available to partisan forces. It looks the part.
The kit is the fine offering from Empress Miniatures in their "Italian Conflicts" range, and the crew are from the Empress SCW range, some with headswaps. The Cannone da 75/27 kit is wonderfully detailed, but be warned, it comes without any form of construction diagram, or even a parts list, so a fair bit of sleuthing is required before and during assembly. This is not helped by there being plenty of variations of this artillery piece, and a basic internet search throws up a bewildering array of images that, for the most part, dont appear to share details represented by this kit. That said, I eventually got perfect construction advice from an Empress staff member, and managed to plot the one correct route through a horde of incorrect possibilities...
Next, another recruit from the Empress Miniatures SCW range, with a head swap or two, providing my partisans with a much-needed medium machine-gun option.
In an infantry battle, no-one likes facing an auto canon. And they tend to keep light armored vehicles honest. Light enough to be transported in the carts and mule trains that make up the transport options for my partisans, this is a really force multiplier. This 20mm Breda, or more correctly, Cannone-Mitragliera da 20/65 Modello 35 is from Company B. A tricky little kit to put together, mostly due to the very soft metal of the casting, it none-the-less produces a neat model. It represents the weapon without one of the more elaborate anti-aircraft sights, which I thought was an appropriate arrangement for my part-timers. The crew received headswaps from the Empress and Warlord Games ranges.
Monday, 6 March 2017
Of all the vehicles used by the South African 6th Armoured Division, the White scout car is probably the most anonymous. Very few photos of this vehicle appear in the various histories of the Division. In two volumes of William Marshall's Camouflage and Markings of the the 6th South African Division there are just three photographs of Whites, one of which is incorrectly captioned as a M5 halftrack, and one of which is included only because it is depicted being towed by a captured SdKfz 7. In fact, Marshall only allowed himself 3 lines of text regarding Whites, noting "a small number of these vehicles were issued to the Division."
In fact, they were the second most numerous armored vehicle in the division (170 in use), only being outnumbered by the Sherman tank variants (255 in use). They outnumbered Universal Carriers 2 to 1, and M5 halftrack variants 4 to 1.
Which is a roundabout way of saying that if you want to build a representative force of the SA 6th Armored Division, best you include a few (or more) White scout cars.
Depicted here along with the Whites, is another vehicle which is often overlooked - the common or garden Dispatch Rider's (Don R) motorbike. The division used a mix of bikes from Ariel, BSA, Matchless, Triumph and Harley Davidson, and together almost 500 motorcycles were issued to the division. After the ubiquitous 3-ton truck (about 2500 in use), they were the second most numerous type of soft-skin vehicle in use.
Ironically, given the broad range of bike manufacturers used, I believe this kit depicts a model not used but the division - the Norton 16H. The rider is a Perry figure, but the Perry bike itself appeared to my eyes to be far too small. Instead, I used the motorcycle from the Foundry "Home Guard" range.
Monday, 30 January 2017
At the end of World War 2, the South African 6th Armoured Division listed 15 Staghound T17E armoured cars amongst their equipment. It was not recorded how these were allocated within the Division, and according to Marshall's Camouflage and Markings of the 6th SA Armoured Division, there is only one (poor) photograph known to depict a South African Staghound, and unhelpfully, the AoS number is obscured. The logical allocation would either be to divisional and brigade HQ squadrons, or to the regimental HQ of the dedicated reconnaissance units - the Natal Mounted Rifles. Given that we know the divisional HQ used M8 Greyhounds, the idea that the Staghounds were then rather allocated to frontline regiments is not implausible. The photograph also doesn't provide any clues as to the colour or patterns used - as the vehicle is appears extremely dirty. So this is, again, a speculative representation, and I will be happy to be proved incorrect if anyone can bring to light more complete information on their use in the SA 6th.
The Staghound was a big beast of an armoured car - 14 tonnes worth - with armour as thick as a light tank, and with some innovative drivetrain features. They arrived on the frontline just in time for the Italian campaign, and saw service until the end of the war. In fact, they continued to serve with many commonwealth forces well after World War 2 - the Rhodesians, for example, kept their's going until 1976.
This miniature was built from the Die Waffenkamer resin kit - pretty much out of the box with the exception of the replacement of pintle-mounted .30 Browning with one that came from a Rubicon Models stowage set. One of the crew figures is the kit offering, the other is from Warlord Games. Stowage is either scratch built, or from Die Waffenkamer and Rubicon Models, and decals are from a variety of suppliers: Warlord, Dom's Decals, and Starmer.
I really enjoyed the process and the result of this build. While unashamedly a wargames miniature, it has piqued my interest in building a good scale model of one - who knows, the Staghound might end up being my first 1/35 build in decades...
Monday, 16 January 2017
Here is the first of the M10 variants I have been working on: a 17-pdr equipped Achilles operated by the South African 6th Armoured Division in Italy during the last months of the Second World War.
It depicts a vehicle in the second battery of the 1/11 Anti-Tank Regiment (an amalgamation of the 1st and 11th regiments, due to manpower shortages). The conversions from the 3-inch equipped vehicles were undertaken in April 1945, and it is unsure how many of them saw action before the war ended.
The model is based on the Rubicon Models kit, and I had ordered it with the intention of building a M10A. I wasn't even aware that the kit included the option of building the Achilles variant (and the M36 Jackson), so when presented with the opportunity to build one in plastic, I took it.
As with all the Rubicon offerings, the kit was extremely well presented, with clear instructions and comprehensive decals. The sprues were free of flash and significant split lines, and the fit of parts was absolutely first class. Proportions, scale and details look correct. As mentioned, above, the kit can be used to produce a comprehensive range of vehicle variations.
On the downside, the track detail leads a little to be desired, and the undersides of the track guards were omitted from the kit. This last point might not bother many builders as the tracks would obscure the omission, but for my build process (painting before fitting the track assemblies) it would have resulted in overspray into the interior spaces (visible through the open turret.) Also, the grouser racks proved to be a bother. First, they are supplied with grousers cast on, and it takes a fair bit of careful work to cut them off. Given that the majority of M10s were equipped with tracks that could not fit grousers, it means the building to the kit instructions will likely result in an incorrect depiction of the vehicle. Also the racks are fitted into a recess on the hull sides, meaning they cannot be positioned differently, or omitted altogether, without some tricky filling of the recesses, and replication of the rack mounting points.
Extended baggage racks and interior floor detail (only visible by peering into the turret) were added. No crew figures are supplied with the kit, so my crew were recruited from various Warlord Games kits. Baggage and stowage was sources from the Rubicon "Allied Stowage Kit 1", Die Waffenkamer, and scratchbuilt. Decals from Marshall/Starmer/Dom's Decals and Warlord.