Churchill Tanks in NW Europe 1944-45 (Part 1)

In my (unpaid) role as historical consultant for Dave Brown Esq, I was this week discussing with him the various marks of Churchill tank used by the British 21st Army Group (i.e. NW Europe from 1944 (Normandy) to 1945 (Germany)) , how they were organised, who used them and when.  It occurred to me that this is a perennial internet forum question and one I must have discussed a hundred times or more, so a blog-post is probably long overdue…

Marks of Churchill Tank in 21st Army Group 1944-45

Churchill Mk III

Churchill Mk III with Mk 3 gun without counterweight.

The Churchill Mk III had a very squarish, welded turret and was armed with a 6pdr (57mm) gun.  It retained the hull-design of the Mk II, with rectangular side-doors and MG-port.

Early production Churchill Mk III (and Mk IV) tanks had the shorter (L43) 6pdr Mk 3 gun, while later production tanks had the slightly longer (L50) 6pdr Mk 5 gun.  The Mk 5 gun used the same ammunition as the Mk 3, but had slightly improved muzzle-velocity and therefore slightly improved range and armour-penetration.  Those tanks fitted with Mk 3 guns were eventually upgraded to Mk 5 guns and there were probably no Mk 3 guns remaining on tanks sent to NW Europe.  However, as there was no special mark-number for tanks fitted with Mk 5 guns, they are not differentiated in unit strength-returns and it is therefore very difficult to be certain, so never say never!

Unlike their towed cousins, 6pdr guns fitted to tanks did not have a muzzle-brake.  There was normally just a slightly thicker collar around the muzzle (as shown on my model and the photo above). Depending on the elevation-system used, some 6pdr guns could also have a muzzle counterweight-collar fitted, which can look like a muzzle-brake at a distance, but lacks the holes at the sides.

Churchill Mk III with Mk 3 gun and muzzle-counterweight

Further improvements to armour-penetration were gained when the revolutionary 6pdr Armour-Piercing Discarding Sabot (APDS) was introduced in June 1944.  Although this ammunition was unstable at longer ranges, it gave 6pdrs a significant advantage at closer engagement-ranges.  The 6pdr Mk 5 gun already had a very slight advantage over the 75mm gun in terms of armour-penetration, but the APDS round was a game-changer.

Although 6pdr APDS was prioritised for those Royal Artillery Anti-Tank units still equipped with 6pdr, some supply was made available to Infantry Battalion Anti-Tank Platoons and Tank Regiments.  Consequently, Tank Regiments suddenly halted their 75mm upgrade programmes and where possible, started to retain a 6pdr tank in each Troop of three tanks.  However, as their primary role was infantry support, the superb HE effect of the 75mm was still the primary gun-type (no matter how much us wargamers want the better anti-tank capability!).

Churchill Mk III with Mk 5 gun and counterweight, plus applique armour on hull-sides and turret-front.

A number of Churchill Mk III were up-gunned with 75mm guns, creating the Churchill Mk III* (‘Mark Three-Star’).  This upgrade also included an additional 37mm of applique armour on the turret-front and hull-sides.  Roughly half of the Churchill Mk III in the 31st and 34th Tank Brigades (around 30 in the 31st and 50 in the 34th) had been upgraded to Mk III* before June 1944.  Some 6pdr tanks also received the applique armour upgrade, as shown above.

Churchill Mk III*. Note the muzzle-brake of the 75mm gun.

Being rather long in the tooth, the Mk III gradually disappeared from the order of battle throughout 1944 & 1945, being replaced by Mk IV, Mk VI and Mk VII.  They were virtually all gone by the time the Rhine was crossed in 1945.

Churchill Mk IV

The Churchill Mk IV had exactly the same armament and the same hull as the Mk III, though had a cheaper, cast turret with a distinctive rounded profile.  This turret would also go on to be used in the Mk V and Mk VI (as well as Mks IX-XI, which were up-armoured Mks IV-VI but never saw active service during WW2).

As with the Mk III, early-production Mk IVs had the Mk 3 gun and later models had the Mk 5 gun.  Again, these could be fitted with muzzle-counterweights, depending on the type of elevation system fitted.  It is highly unlikely that any tanks fitted with Mk 3 guns saw service in NW Europe.

A column of Churchills is led by a Mk IV (Mk 5 gun with counterweight)

As with the Mk III, many Churchill Mk IV were upgraded with 75mm guns, though there was no applique armour upgrade and no special mark-designation.  These upgraded tanks were absolutely identical to the Churchill Mk VI and were either known as ‘Mk IV (75mm)’ or as ‘Mk VI’, although strictly-speaking the designation ‘Mk VI’ indicates a factory-built 75mm tank.

Some Mk IV tanks (typically 8 per brigade – 2 in each Tank Regt HQ and Tank Bde HQ) were designated as ‘Mk IV OP’.  In this instance ‘OP’ means ‘Observation Post’.  These were fitted with a second radio set and the loader would double as a second radio-operator (the co-driver being the primary radio-operator).  These would be made available to attached artillery Forward Observation Officers (FOOs), who would replace the tank commander, while their radio operator would replace the loader.  Contrary to popular wargames-lore, these DID NOT have dummy-guns and were fully armed, though ammunition stowage was reduced in order to accommodate the extra radio.  If ‘proof of armament’ is needed, 6th Guards Tank Brigade recorded upgrading its Mk IV OP tanks to 75mm guns (I’ll discuss OP tanks more fully in another article).

The 6th Guards Tank Brigade had 164x Churchill Mk IV in June 1944 and all had been upgraded to 75mm guns.  However, around one tank per Troop of three had been converted back to 6pdr by the time they deployed to Normandy in mid-July 1944.  I’ve no idea if this was by physical re-conversion or was done by swapping them with 6pdr-armed tanks from depots.  31st and 34th Tank Brigades each had around 20-30 Mk IVs in June 1944, some of them converted to 75mm guns.  However, the numbers of 6pdr-equipped Mk IVs increased markedly as the campaign went on as they replaced lost obsolete 6pdr-armed Mk IIIs.

Churchill Mk V

The Churchill Mk V was essentially the same tank as the Mk IV, though had a 95mm Close Support Howitzer as its main armament.  Each Tank Squadron HQ had a pair of these and this remained essentially unchanged throughout the campaign.

The role of Close Support tanks was to provide heavy HE and smoke support to the tanks, primarily providing overwatch to suppress and destroy enemy anti-tank guns.  There are many misunderstandings and myths regarding British Close Support tanks and it’s important to understand that they are there to support their fellow TANKS, not the infantry; the other tanks in the squadron are supporting the infantry… I hope that’s clear! 🙂

A restored Churchill Mk V at Overloon War Museum in the Netherlands. Marked as ‘B’ Sqn, 4th Coldstream Guards, 6th Guards Tank Bde.

Another myth that often pops up in wargames literature and discussion is that ‘they were only armed with smoke’.  This is completely untrue and is also untrue of the 3-inch Close Support Howitzer that came before the 95mm (as fitted to Churchill Mk I/II, Matilda, Crusader, Valentine and Tetrarch CS tanks).  It’s also untrue to a certain extent of the early-war 3.7-inch Close Support Howitzer fitted to A9 & A10 Cruiser Tanks.

The myth stems from the early days of the war and the fact that the standard ammunition load-out for A9 & A10 CS tanks only included two rounds of HE – the rest being smoke.  To add further insult, the A9s & A10s arrived in France without any 3.7-inch HE rounds whatsoever!  The 3-inch CS Howitzer that followed proved to be a decent enough weapon and proved invaluable when supporting 2pdr and 6pdr-armed tanks with little or no HE capability.  However, it was made obsolete by the advent of 75mm main tank guns and superb US 75mm HE ammunition, hence the move to a more powerful 95mm weapon.

Churchill Mk VI

The Churchill Mk VI, as mentioned above, was the 75mm-armed variant of the Churchill Mk IV.  Many Mk IVs were upgraded with 75mm guns and are commonly referred to as ‘Mk VI’, but proper Churchill Mk VI tanks were factory-built as such.  Factory-built Mk VI tanks eventually became the majority Churchill type in NW Europe as they replaced Mk III* and Mk IV (75mm) combat-losses.

Churchill Mk VI (or possibly a Mk IV (75mm)) of 31st Tank Brigade, Operation EPSOM, June 1944.

Churchill Mk VII

The Churchill Mk VII was a significant improvement on earlier Churchill marks, with a completely redesigned composite (part-cast, part-welded) turret and an improved hull.  The turret looked somewhat similar to that of the Mk III, but had a thick ‘rim’ around the bottom edge and ‘cheeks’ either side of the gun-mantlet.  The hull’s rectangular side-hatches and MG port were now replaced by circular versions.  The biggest improvement was in terms of armour-protection, which exceeded that of the Tiger I.  However, the main gun was still the standard 75mm, which meant that if two Churchill Mk VIIs squared off against one-another, they would struggle to knock the other out…

While this considerable improvement in armour-protection was welcome, the Mk VII remained rare as a battle-tank.  The primary reason for this was that Mk VIIs were prioritised to Crocodile units, which (aside from a few older types used as Regt HQ, Sqn HQ and CS tanks) were completely equipped with Mk VII Crocodiles and used up a large chunk of the production capacity.  For example, 9 RTR (31st Tank Brigade) only received its first ten Mk VIIs on 12th July 1944, as part of the replacements for the horrific losses suffered by the regiment on Hill 112 during Operation JUPITER (10-11 July).  When Mk VIIs were delivered they almost always went primarily to the Regt HQ, Sqn HQs and occasionally filtered down to Troop Commanders.  I’ve never come across one in NW Europe that wasn’t an officer’s mount.  By contrast in Italy, they did try to form complete Troops of Mk VIIs to act as a spearhead.

A further development of the Churchill Mk VII was the Churchill Mk VIII, which used exactly the same turret and hull, though like the Mk V was armed with a 95mm Close Support Howitzer.  These were certainly in production during 1944 and 1945, but I’ve been able to find no evidence whatsoever for their combat use or even deployment in NW Europe.  The same goes for the upgraded Mks IX-XI.

Churchill Mk VII Crocodile

The Churchill Mk VII Crocodile was a further development of the Mk VII to create a formidable flamethrower tank.  The most obvious difference between a standard Mk VII and a Crocodile was that the Crocodile was equipped with an articulated armoured trailer to keep the flamethrower-fuel and propellant gas safely OUTSIDE the tank… The other difference was that the hull machine gun was replaced by the superlative flame-projector.  This meant that the Crocodile, unlike most other flamethrower tanks, retained a turreted main gun that could be used for long-ranged engagements.

The fuel and gas was fed from the trailer to the projector via an armoured pipe that ran beneath the hull, thus keeping the dangerous materials firmly outside of the crew compartment.  The trailer’s armour was proof against small-arms fire and fragments, but vulnerable to fire from anything heavier.  The crew therefore had to use the heavy armour of their tank to shield the trailer as best they could.  Things were complicated further by the fact that the trailer made reversing out of trouble somewhat awkward!  The trailer could therefore be ejected and abandoned at the press of a button.

Late production runs of Churchill Mk VIIs were all fitted with the fittings (trailer coupling, fuel-pipe, etc) for Crocodile equipment, so that any Mk VII could be quickly and easily turned into a Crocodile simply by replacing the hull MG with the flame-projector.  This does NOT mean that ordinary tank regiments could refit their Mk VIIs – it just means that combat losses of Crocodiles in Crocodile units could easily make good their losses from a generic pool of Mk VII replacement tanks.

One regiment of 31st Tank Brigade (141st Royal Armoured Corps or ‘141 RAC’) was equipped with Crocodile in time for the D-Day Landings, though only two Crocodile Troops were landed on 6th June and they only fired some 75mm and MG ammunition – no flames!  141 RAC spent the entire Normandy Campaign largely divorced from their parent brigade, being split up into Squadron, Half-Squadron and Troop-sized detachments, supporting various units.  On one occasion they even supported the Americans in assaulting a Napoleonic fortress at Brest.  This meant that 31st Tank Brigade had to soldier on with only two Tank Regiments (7 RTR and 9 RTR).  Note that 141 RAC was NOT a part of 79th Armoured Division at this time, although it would often work alongside the ‘Funnies’.

However, in September 1944 the 31st Tank Brigade was formally absorbed into 79th Armoured Division as an ‘All-Crocodile’ Brigade.  7 RTR was also now converted to a Crocodile regiment and both they and 141 RAC now wore the triangular yellow badge with the bull’s head of ‘Hobart’s Funnies’.  9 RTR had transferred out to 34th Tank Brigade, but 31st Tank Brigade was finally brought up to strength in November 1944 with the addition of 1st Fife & Forfar Yeomanry as its third Crocodile regiment.

Crocodiles of ‘A’ Sqn, 7 RTR

Models and Painting

All the models here are Flames of War models (Battlefront Miniatures) from my own collection, painted by me.  I’ll cover painting and marking in more detail later.

I’ve suddenly realised that what was going to be a short blog-post has turned into a mahoosive one (again), so I’ll talk about organisations next time!

‘C’ Sqn, 9 RTR (31st Tank Brigade) in Normandy

 

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: WW2, Painted Units, World War 2, World War 2 - British Commonwealth Armies, World War 2 - Netherlands & Germany Campaign 1944-45, World War 2 - Normandy 1944 | 6 Comments

Happy 2nd Birthday Jemima Fawr!

Yes, it’s that time of year again!  Where does the time go when you’re having… OK, a mildly acceptable time…?

This time a year ago we’d had just over 20,000 hits on the blog after the first year and now we have had nearly 60,000!  So our hits have almost doubled in the last year!  🙂 OK, a considerable amount of that is probably me clicking from the work computer in a vain attempt to improve my stats and make it look like I have followers, but it is truly wonderful to see that long-term sufferers of insomnia have really got behind this site to cure their affliction.

We’re probably still not enough to count as ‘Viral’, but who wants one of those nowadays…?  Last year we were probably popular enough to class as ‘Fungal’, but now I’m confident that we’re firmly established as a ‘Persistent Yeast Infection’.

I’m also extremely proud of all the e-mails and messages I’ve received to say that this site is being blocked by their work computer or by their child-access settings on their home computer.  I think you’ll agree that this is quite an achievement for a website about toy soldiers.

So for those who haven’t been keeping up, my main ‘thing’ in the last year has been my demo game of the Cassinga Raid (Angola 1976), which won Best of Show at ‘Warfare 2019’ in Reading (definitely the world’s greatest wargames show and I won’t hear another word).  I also took it to ‘Crusade 2020’ in Penarth this year, but ‘Partizan 2020’ has sadly been cancelled for obvious reasons, so perhaps next year…

I’ve also managed to do some American Civil War, Napoleonic, World War Two, Very British Civil War, X-Wing and other Cold War games, but nowhere near as many as I’d like.  Sadly, that’s the trouble with being a shift-worker…  The plus-side being that they let me paint in work, so don’t feel too sorry for me…

My main objective at the moment is to play a couple of epic Napoleonic games when we finally get out of isolation from the Flu-Manchu.  My new wargaming-buddy Rhys asked to play ‘something with Russians’, so I thought perhaps the epic multi-national cavalry clash at Liebertwolkwitz in 1813.  It’s a fun scenario that I’ve played before and it also gives me the spur to refresh my knackered old Napoleonic Russian collection with some new flags, new units and a lot of rebasing.  It also gives me the mojo to finish off my AB Figures Army of the Duchy of Warsaw and a corps of Austrians wearing shako.  Once those Austrians are done, I’ll have enough Whitecoats finished at long last to do Aspern-Essling. 🙂

If we’re spared… 🙁

As for the blog, despite my best efforts there are still stacks and stacks of models, collections and scenarios that have still got to see the light of day.  People also seem to like my half-arsed painting guides, so I’ll try to do more of those and make a bit more of an effort to get them accurate…

Thanks for reading and stay safe out there, people… People…?  Where did you go?  Oi!  Wake up at the back!

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“La Garde au Feu!”: My 15mm French Imperial Guard (Part 7: The Heavy Cavalry)

As discussed last time, I’m finally done with the Imperial Guard!  So here’s the last part – the heavy cavalry regiments of the French Imperial Guard:

Gendarmes d’Élite de la Garde

Again, I’m starting with something of an oddball unit, as the Gendarmes d’Élite were more of a military police unit than a cavalry regiment and for the first half of their existence included an infantry element.  They were nicknamed ‘The Immortals’ by the rest of the Guard, as they would very rarely be committed to battle.  However, they did occasionally fight en masse, particularly from 1812 onward, and did well in battle.

I must admit that these figures, like the Mamelukes, are fairly redundant for me as the Gendarmes were rarely present in sufficient strength to be fielded on table as a separate unit and they’re NEVER going to appear as a 12-figure unit!  The highest battlefield strength I can find for them is in September 1813, when they had 536 men present and on-strength.  That equates to around 7 figures for Napoleon’s Battles! 🙂  So they might turn up as a small unit at Bautzen, Dresden or Leipzig, otherwise they might be adding an extra base to one of the other Guard cavalry regiments.  However, I just HAD to have these when they came out (ironically at the same time as the Mamelukes, about two years ago).

The Gendarmes wore a uniform that was almost identical to that worn by the two Carabinier regiments prior to 1810, namely a dark blue habit coat, with scarlet lapels, cuffs and tail-turnbacks and plain blue collar.  Buttons were silver and a white aiguillette was worn on the left shoulder, while a trefoil-shaped contre-epaulette was worn on the right shoulder.  On campaign a much plainer surtout coat was worn; this was single-breasted and lacked the scarlet lapels and cuffs of the full-dress habit, though the aiguillette and contre-epaulette were still worn (some sources show plain scarlet cuffs on the surtout).  Waistcoat and breeches were a deep yellow-buff buckskin and all belts and gauntlets matched this colour.  Most (but not all) sources show the belts as having white edging.  The sabre-scabbard was brass.

The bearskin cap had white metal chinscales and a black leather visor, edged in white metal.  On the back was a scarlet patch, decorated with a white grenade badge.  On the left side was the national cockade with a white plume above and hung with white flounders.  Hair was worn in a queue and was powdered when in full dress.  In 1814 and while I Royal service, the Gendarmes d’Élite replaced their helmets with ornate steel helmets, decorated with brass fittings and a high, black woollen crest.  The regiment wore these helmets during the 1815 Campaign.

Shabraque and square valise were dark blue, edged with a double row of white lace and an Imperial Crown badge at the rear corners.  Like the Empress’ Dragoons, the Gendarmes d’Élite had three holster-covers on each side of the saffle, again heavily decorated with lace.  Like other heavy cavalry regiments, the (dark blue) cloak was normally stowed on top of the valise with the (scarlet) lining exposed.  Horses were (ideally) very dark bays.

Officers had the same uniform, except that all lace decoration was silver lace and the aiguillette was moved to the right shoulder.  They also had full, fringed epaulettes in silver.

Trumpeters wore ‘reversed colours’ of a scarlet habit with dark blue lapels, cuffs, tail-turnbacks and scarlet collar, all edged in white lace and with white buttonhole-lace on the lapels.  Some sources show a blue collar.  The aiguillette, contre-epaulette and trumpet-cord were of mixed crimson & white threads.  Some sources show the positions of aiguillette and contre-epaulette as being the same as the rank-and-file, while others show them reversed, as for officers (the figure has them reversed, with the aiguillette on the right shoulder).  Plume was scarlet with a white tip.  Equipment and horse-furniture was the same as for the rank-and-file.  On campaign a surtout could again be worn in lieu of the habit.  This seems to have initially been sky-blue with crimson facings and white lace, but changed to match the habit colour of scarlet with blue facings and white lace.

The trumpeter’s uniform changed during Royal service in 1814/15 to a sky-blue habit with crimson facings, laced as before.  This was worn with a bicorne hat that was edged in white lace and a fringe of alternating crimson & white ostrich-feathers.  This was topped off with a tall white plume.  Horse furniture was now sky-blue with white lace as before.  This uniform was worn during the 1815 Campaign.

The Gendarmes d’Élite had an Eagle and drapeau, but AB sadly didn’t include such a figure.  I suppose I could have included a Grenadier à Cheval Eaglebearer (and ignore the lack of a peak on the bearskin), but at the time I could only buy figures in packs from Fighting 15s rather than single figures.

Dragons de l’Impératrice de la Garde (Empress’ Dragoons)

This regiment was formed in 1806 from selected cavalry troopers of the Line and officers from the Chasseurs & Grenadiers à Cheval de la Garde.  Initially comprising three squadrons, with a total strength of just over 800 men, the regiment was presented by Napoleon to his wife and titled La Régiment de Dragons de l’Impératrice (The Empress’ Dragoon Regiment).  Following its baptism of fire during the Battles of Eylau and Friedland in 1807, the regiment was expanded to five squadrons, with a little over 1,250 men.  The regiment was rapidly reformed in 1813 following massive losses in Russia and was increased to six squadrons, though the 5th and 6th Squadrons were designated as Young Guard.  Following Napoleon’s abdication in 1814, the regiment was incorporated into the restored Royal Guard.  In 1815 they returned to the Eagles and fought at Ligny and Waterloo.

The uniform consisted of a dark green habit, with white lapels, green collar, scarlet tail-turnbacks and scarlet cuffs, white cuff-flaps and brass buttons.  An aurore aiguillette was worn on the right shoulder and an aurore contre-epaulette was worn on the left shoulder.  The tail-turnbacks were decorated with aurore grenade badges, outlined in white.  The habit could be replaced on campaign with a simpler single-breasted surtout, which was coloured the same as the habit, except that it lacked lapels and cuffs.

The helmet was all brass, with a black horsehair mane and a small black horsehair tuft on top of the brass aigrette (in the case of line Dragoons, the aigrette was all black horsehair).  In place of the brown sealskin ‘turban’ worn by line Dragoons, the rank-and-file of the Empress’ Dragoons had a faux-leopardskin turban (painted canvas), which extended forward to cover the visor and was held in place by a brass lip to the visor.  In full dress a scarlet plume was worn on the left side.  Belts and gauntlets were white and the sabre-scabbard was brass.

Trumpeter, Full Dress

The waistcoat was white and breeches were whitened buckskin (a very pale buff).  On campaign white cloth breeches would be worn, but these had been replaced by 1812 with grey cloth breeches.  The shabraque was of exactly the same style as that described above for the Gendarmes d’Élite, though was dark green with aurore lace and crown.  Note that the saddle had THREE holster-covers on each side, not two as incorrectly shown in the illustration above.  Horses were chestnuts, although with my rubbish horse-painting, I’d describe them more as conkers…

Officers had the same basic uniform as described above, though had gold lace, buttons and aiguillette, as well as gold fringed epaulettes.  They also had real leopardskin turbans on their helmets and the helmet decoration was generally richer.

Young Guard Squadrons 1813

Trumpeters had a full dress uniform of a white habit, with sky-blue lapels, cuffs, tail-turnbacks and white collar, all laced with gold lace, including the buttonholes on the lapels.  The aiguillette, contre-epaulette and trumpet-cord were made with mixed gold and sky-blue threads.  The helmet had a white horsehair mane and crest-tuft, as well as a sky-blue plume in full dress.  Horse furniture was sky-blue with gold lace.  On campaign trumpeters could wear a sky-blue surtout, with crimson collar and tail-turnbacks.

As mentioned above, in 1813 the 5th & 6th Squadrons of the regiment were designated as Young Guard.  Unlike some other Young Guard contingents, these troops were actually dressed very similar to their Old Guard comrades.  The only significant difference was that they lacked the aiguillette; instead having just two aurore contre-epaulettes.

2ème Éclaireurs 1813-1814

In December 1813 the regiment was reinforced by the newly-raised 2ème Éclaireurs de la Garde (also known as the Éclaireurs-Dragons), who provided light cavalry and reconnaissance support for the Empress’ Dragoons, being primarily tasked with the aim of keeping the Cossacks at bay.

The 2ème Éclaireurs were dressed very similarly to line Chasseurs à Cheval of the period, in green uniforms with scarlet facings and tall scarlet rouleau-style shako.  However, they were equipped as light lancers.  AB Figures sadly don’t produce anything similar, but Sho Boki Miniatures do some very nice figures for the 2ème Éclaireurs.

Grenadiers à Cheval de la Garde

And so to the last one: Although originally raised as light cavalry in 1799, the Grenadiers à Cheval ‘properly’ started life in 1800 as the junior regiment of the Consular Guard, with the Chasseurs à Cheval being the senior regiment.  Within  few months, the regiment distinguished itself at the Battle of Marengo.  In 1804 the Grenadiers à Cheval, along with the Chasseurs à Cheval and the Mamelukes, became the cavalry arm of the Imperial Guard.  By 1812 the regiment had expanded to five squadrons and over 1,000 men, but the terrible Russian Campaign reduced that number to fewer than 200. Rapidly reconstituted in 1813, the regiment took to the field again with four Old Guard squadrons and two Young Guard Squadrons.  With the abdication of Napoleon in 1814, they became part of the restored Royal Guard, but returned to Napoleon’s side in 1815 for their final campaign in Belgium.

The Grenadiers à Cheval were uniformed and equipped very similarly to the Empress’ Dragoons described above, except that the habits, surtouts and shabraques were dark blue instead of green.  Details of facing colours, lace, aiguillettes, epaulettes, equipment and officers’ distinctions were all exactly the same as the Empress’ Dragoons.  The obvious difference is the headgear: the Grenadiers à Cheval wore a tall black bearskin cap, which was fitted with brass chinscales.  On the back of the cap was a red patch, decorated with a cross of aurore lace (gold for officers) and on the left was the national cockade.  In full dress a scarlet plume was fitted just above the cockade and aurore flounders were suspended on the right.  Aurore cap-lines were also sometimes worn in full dress.  Unlike the Empress’ Dragoons, the saddle had only two holster-covers on each side and horses were blacks or very dark bays.

Young Guard Squadrons 1813

Trumpeters had a sky-blue habit with lapels, cuffs and tail-turnbacks in light crimson and collar in sky-blue, all edged with gold lace.  As usual, they had the option of wearing a simpler surtout in the same colours.  Aiguillette, contre-epaulette, trumpet-cord, flounders and cap-lines were made of mixed crimson and gold cords.  Horse furniture was sky-blue, laced gold.  The bearskin had a sky-blue plume.

Some sources suggest that Grenadier à Cheval trumpeters’ bearskins were made of white fur, but again this seems to have been a Victorian embellishment.  Billions of pixels have gone to their meaningless death during internet flame-wars on this very subject… Thankfully I didn’t know this when I painted these some 25 years ago, so my trumpeter has a lovely white bearskin! 🙂

The two Young Guard Squadrons formed in 1813 seem to have worn the ‘undress’ version of the standard Grenadiers à Cheval uniform, namely the plain blue campaign surtout, which had plain collar and cuffs, no lapels and scarlet tail-turnbacks.  They didn’t wear the Old Guard aiguillette, but they did have an aurore contre-epaulette on each shoulder.  All other aspects of uniform and equipment seem to have been the same as the Old Guard squadrons.

1er Éclaireurs (Old Guard Squadron) 1813-1814

In 1814 the regiment was reinforced by the 1er Éclaireurs de la Garde (also known as the Éclaireurs-Grenadiers), who like the 2ème Éclaireurs described above, were there to provide the heavies with a light reconnaissance and anti-Cossack capability.  The 1st Squadron of this regiment was classed as Old Guard and was uniformed very similarly to the Gardes d’Honneur in hussar style, albeit equipped with a lance.  The regiment’s remaining three squadrons were dressed in line Chasseur à Cheval style, much like the 2ème Éclaireurs, though with black, bell-topped shakos, laced red.

Anyway, that’s it for the Imperial Guard… Until the next unit, of course…

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic French Army, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units | 4 Comments

“La Garde au Feu!”: My 15mm French Imperial Guard (Part 6 – The Light Cavalry)

At long last, with the completion of the Mameluke Squadron of the Guard, I’ve finally ‘finished’ my French Imperial Guard… OK, perhaps I might eventually get some greatcoated Old Guard infantry for 1815… and I should probably spruce up those Berg Lancers I’ve got here somewhere… and perhaps add some Young Guard cavalry for 1813… and perhaps some Eclaireurs for 1814… and perhaps the 3rd ‘ex-Hollandais’ Grenadiers for the hell of it… oh and the Neapolitan Guard Horse Artillery were in the Guard for a while… and… oh bugger…

Anyway, until I start adding more, here are the cavalry of my ‘completed’ Imperial Guard.  As usual, all models are by AB Figures:

Gardes d’Honneur

I’ll start with an oddball unit: the 2ème Gardes d’Honneur.  Following the disastrous Russian Campaign of 1812, Napoleon wanted to rapidly expand the cavalry arm, so placed a levy on the nobility and wealthy bourgeoisie of the Empire (including the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy) requiring them to send one of their sons, equipped and mounted, to become a member of his personal bodyguard (a cash levy was imposed on those without sons to send).  As an incentive, these new recruits would form part of the Emperor’s ‘personal bodyguard’, would be paid the same as Chasseurs à Cheval of the Guard and after a year would be commissioned as Sous-Lieutenants.

Consequently, four regiments of Gardes d’Honneur were raised from this levy in 1813.  However, the existing Imperial Guard resented these ‘entryists’ and resisted their inclusion into the Guard.  So while the Gardes d’Honneur served with Guard, they were never of the Guard.

Despite their high pay and status, discipline among the Gardes d’Honneur proved to be extremely poor and members of the 3e Gardes d’Honneur even attempted a mutiny.  When sent to war in Germany in 1813, the four regiments were split up between the brigades of the Guard Cavalry, in the hope that they might be steadied by the presence of veteran Guard units.  In the event, the Gardes d’Honneur performed well enough on the battlefield at Leipzig and Hanau, though desertion continued to be a large problem, especially among the Dutch contingent.

I painted these chaps about 20 years ago and used French Hussar figures, which fit the bill perfectly except for the very minor detail of the shako-badge.  These figures have the lozenge-shaped badge of the Hussars, while the Gardes d’Honneur had an eagle & crescent badge.  All four regiments wore the same uniform of green dolman with scarlet facings, green pelisse with black fur edging, scarlet breeches and scarlet shako, with all lace and cords white and metalwork silver.  Green overall trousers with a red (or white) stripe were worn on campaign.  Shako-plumes were green, with pompoms coloured by company (there was no élite company).  Shabraques were simple white sheepskins with green vandycked edging, with a green valise, laced white.  Belts were white and sabretaches were plain black leather with a silver eagle badge.

Regiments were identified by the regimental number, which was embroidered on the ends of the valise, shown as a metal numeral on the sabretache and was pierced into the crescent part of the shako badge.  The shako-plume was also coloured by regiment: 1st Regiment – red, 2nd Regiment – sky-blue, 3rd Regiment – yellow & 4th Regiment – white.

Officers’ lace was silver and they had a green pointed shabraque with silver lace edging.  Trumpeters had ‘reversed colours’ of a scarlet dolman with green facings, scarlet pelisse with black fur edging, white lace, black sheepskin shabraque and plumes of the regimental colour tipped with green.  However, some sources show other variations, such as a sky-blue pelisse worn over a scarlet dolman, a scarlet pelisse worn over a sky-blue dolman with scarlet facings, sky-blue pelisse AND dolman, sky blue dolman with green facings, green dolman and pelisse with ‘Imperial Livery’, fur colpacks and various colours of overall trousers and full shabraques…  In other words, as with line Hussars, you can’t go far wrong if you just make up your own trumpeter’s uniform…  The Gardes d’Honneur were not issued with Eagles or standards.

1er Chevaulégers-Lanciers de la Garde (Polish Lancers)

The Chevaulégers Polonais de la Garde were initially raised in 1807, though at that time were not equipped with lances.  Then in 1809, at the Battle of Wagram, the Chevaulégers Polonais distinguished themselves while in combat against the Austrian 2nd (Schwarzenberg) Regiment of Uhlans, using captured Austrian lances against their former owners with great effect (the lance being the traditional weapon of Polish light horse).  Consequently, Napoleon ordered that the regiment be equipped with lances and re-named as the Chevauléger-Lanciers Polonais de la Garde.

In 1810 the creation of the 2nd Regiment of Guard Lancers (see below) meant that the Polish Lancers of the Guard were now designated as the 1er Chevauléger-Lanciers (Polonais) de la Garde.  A 3rd Regiment of (Lithuanian) Guard Lancers was briefly raised in 1812, but ceased to exist at the end of the Russian Campaign.

The Polish Lancers were reconstituted in 1813 following catastrophic losses in Russia, with Young Guard squadrons also being added to the ranks.  In 1814 a single squadron of Polish Lancers accompanied Napoleon in exile to Elba and returned with him to fight at Waterloo (as a single squadron, attached to the much larger 2nd (‘Red’) Regiment of Guard Lancers).

General de Brigade Krasinksi

The uniform of the Polish Lancers was as shown; being mainly dark blue with crimson facings, white epaulette and aiguillette, white lace and silver metalwork, topped off with crimson-over-white lance-pennants.  In full dress they could also add white plumes and cords.  A simpler jacket in sky-blue cloth was also worn as an ‘undress’ or campaign garment.

Trumpeters had a white kurtka coat with crimson facings, trousers and shabraque for parade dress.  However, they often wore a much simpler sky-blue jacket on campaign.  Officers of the regiment also had the option of crimson full-dress trousers and a white ‘gala dress’ kurtka, as modelled by Général de Brigade Krasinski here (right).

The AB Figures Guard Lancers sadly don’t include an Eagle-bearer figure.  I had one lancer with a mis-moulded lance, so I converted him into an Eagle-bearer using an Eagle cut from a spare infantry Eagle-bearer, drilled out and glued onto the existing lance-shaft.  The flag is by Fighting 15s.  I really like the look of having an Eagle in the unit and wish I’d also done it with the Red Lancers (below), which I painted first.

A single Young Guard Squadron was added to the regiment in 1813, but I’m struggling to dig out the uniform details.

3rd Éclaireurs in 1814

In 1814 the regiment was brigaded together with the 3ème Régiment d’Éclaireurs (3rd Scout Regiment – also known as the Éclaireurs-Lanciers, as they were attached to the Lancers).  This regiment was raised from the remnants of the Duchy of Warsaw Uhlan Regiments and wore a much-simplified version of the Polish Lancer uniform, as shown on the right.

The idea figures for making either the Young Guard Lancers or the 3rd Éclaireurs would be AB Figures’ Vistula Legion Lancer figures, which have covered czapkas, full shabraques and simple shoulder-straps.  I might do them one day…

2ème Chevauléger-Lanciers de la Garde (Dutch or Red Lancers)

As mentioned above, the 2ème Chevauléger-Lanciers de la Garde were created in 1810, being raised from the Dutch Royal Guard Hussar Regiment.  Additional officers were drawn from other Dutch cavalry regiments and further drafts of men were drawn from Dutch hussars serving in Spain.  Consequently, this regiment was often known as the ‘Dutch Lancers’.  By the time they went into Russia in 1812 the regiment had grown to a colossal 1,400 men.

After being almost wiped out in Russia, the regiment was rapidly reformed in 1813, with five Old Guard Squadrons and five Young Guard Squadrons being raised, for a total possible strength of 2,500 men.  However, the majority of the regiment were now Frenchmen, rather than Dutch.  Following Napoleon’s abdication in 1814, the regiment became part of the French Royal Guard, before returning to the Imperial Guard again with the Emperor’s return in 1815.

The uniform of the 2ème Chevauléger-Lanciers de la Garde was arguably one of the most spectacular uniforms of the period, being a scarlet kurtka jacket with dark blue facings, yellow epaulette with blue crescent, yellow aiguillette and yellow metalwork, worn with scarlet trousers with a double blue stripe.  This was topped off with a scarlet czapka cap, adorned with yellow lace and the same ‘sunburst’ plate as the Polish Lancers.  White plumes and yellow cords were worn in full dress.  Lance-pennants were white-over-scarlet and shabraques were dark blue, edged yellow with a scarlet valise, also edged in yellow lace.  Dark blue overall trousers with a red stripe were worn on campaign and a simplified ‘undress’ jacket in sky-blue cloth could also be worn as campaign dress.  Trumpeters again had a white version of the uniform, but would often wear a simple sky-blue jacket on campaign.

2nd Lancers Young Guard Trooper 1813

The five Young Guard Squadrons of the 2ème Chevauléger-Lanciers de la Garde wore a uniform in ‘reversed colours’; namely a dark blue kurtka jacket, with scarlet facings and scarlet trousers with blue stripes.  The kurtka did not have the epaulette and aiguilette and instead had simple shoulder-straps.  Horse furniture was the same as for the Old Guard Squadrons.  Some sources (such as Knötel’s print on the right) show the czapka as being of the same pattern as the Old Guard Squadrons.  However, other sources show a simplified version, with a simple brass ‘N’ badge on the black body of the czapka instead of the ornate sunburst-plate.  At least one such simplified Young Guard czapka still survives.

Again, AB Figures’ Vistula Legion Lancer figures are perfect for these troops, albeit with covered czapkas.  I’ll eventually need to do these for Leipzig, as there were an awful lot of Young Guard cavalry at that battle!

Chasseurs à Cheval de la Garde

The Chasseurs à Cheval were the oldest regiment of the Imperial Guard, having originally started life in 1796 as General Buonaparte’s Squadron of Guides de l’Armée d’Italie.   After becoming part of Napoleon’s Consular Guard in 1800, the Chasseurs were expanded to a regiment of two squadrons in 1801, then to four squadrons in 1802.  In 1804 the Consular Guard became the Imperial Guard and the regiment was expanded again t0 five squadrons.

After suffering huge losses during the Russian Campaign of 1812, the regiment was rapidly re-formed in early 1813, this time consisting of eight squadrons (five designated Old Guard and three Young Guard).  With Napoleon’s abdication in 1814 the regiment (now reduced to four squadrons) was absorbed into the Royal Guard, though returned to the Eagles with Napoleon’s return in 1815.

The uniform of the Chasseurs à Cheval de la Garde was of hussar style.  The dolman was dark green, with green collar, scarlet cuffs and aurore lace.  The pelisse was scarlet with aurore lace and black fur edging.  All buttons were brass.  Breeches were pale yellow buckskin, but green cloth breeches, laced in aurore could also be worn in some orders of dress.  Dark green overall trousers with a red stripe could also be worn on campaign.  The black fur colpack had a red bag, piped aurore and had a cockade on the left-side, from which sprouted a green plume with a red tip and a pair of aurore ‘flounders’.  Belts were white and the sabre-scabbard was steel and worn with a heavily-embroidered sabretache (which could be replaced on campaign with a black leather version, decorated with a brass eagle badge).  Shabraque and valise were dark green and edged in strips of aurore and scarlet lace.

A green habit coat could also be worn in some orders of dress and this item was typically worn by Napoleon and by Marshal Bessières (below).  The habit was faced scarlet, with scarlet piping on the lapels and was worn with a scarlet, braided waistcoat.  A bicorne hat was also often worn in this order of dress, which was typically limited to walking-out and to officers acting in staff roles.

The AB Figures Chasseurs shown at the top are modelled on the appearance of the Chasseurs at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 (as shown in the painting above), where the order of dress was to wear their pelisse as a jacket, with the green cloak rolled and worn en bandolier, to provide partial protection from sword-cuts.

Trumpeters had sky-blue dolmans, faced in a pinkish-crimson shade and laced in mixed crimson and gold.  These colours were repeated on the bag of the colpack, overall campaign trousers, sabretache and shabraque.  The pelisse was pinkish-crimson with black fur edging and mixed crimson & gold lace.  Plume was sky blue with a pinkish-crimson tip and flounders were mixed crimson & gold.  Some sources have suggested white fur colpacks, but that seems to have been a red-herring, traced back to one Victorian artist (of course, I didn’t find this out before I painted mine…).

Officers had uniforms in the same colours as the rank and file, except all lace was gold and the fur edging to the pelisse was white.  Scarlet breeches could be worn in some orders of dress.  Leopard-skin shabraques were also de rigeur among the beau sabreurs of the Chasseurs á Cheval de la Garde!  Senior officers might also have white egret plumes.

The Young Guard Squadrons raised in 1813 had a significantly different uniform to the Old Guard Squadrons, as illustrated below.  However, I’ve not painted any of these yet, as AB Figures don’t do a suitable hussar-type figure with full shabraque and no pelisse.

The Young Guard Squadrons wore the same dolman jacket as the Old Guard Chasseurs, though they were not issued with a pelisse.  Dark green cloaks were again commonly worn en bandolier, as shown here.  Trousers were dark green with a double aurore stripe.  Instead of the fur colpack, the headgear was a scarlet shako, decorated with a brass eagle badge, edged in aurore lace and topped off with an aurore pompom.  The tall rouleau style of shako was also worn.  Equipment was the same as the Old Guard Squadrons, though the sabretache was of the plain black campaign style.  The shabraque and valise were scarlet, edged dark green and the saddle was covered by a white sheepskin, edged in dark green cloth.

[Edited to add: The closest figures are AB’s Dutch-Belgian Hussars, which have full shabraques, dolman without pelisse and even have rolled cloaks worn en bandolier, but sadly have covered shakos, so you won’t get to see those lovely scarlet shakos. One suggestion is to use a late French Hussar officer, so that at least he has a visible scarlet shako. That’s certainly a good idea…]

Mameloucks de la Garde (Mamelukes)

This last unit of light cavalry is something of an indulgence on my part and will never see action in a game, other than as an additional stand or two of figures to beef up the strength of the Chasseurs à Cheval de la Garde in some scenarios.  Even at their absolute maximum strength, the Mamelukes in game terms would only be represented by 3 figures at the 1:80 ratio I normally game in (using Napoleon’s Battles rules)!  In most scenarios, the Mamelukes would only add a single figure (maybe two) to the strength of the Guard Cavalry!  However, once I saw these figures, I just HAD to paint them…

The Mamelukes originally started life in 1799 as a company (i.e. half-squadron) of mounted Syrian Janissaries attached to the headquarters of General Kléber.  By 1800 they had been reinforced by Mamelukes and increased to a squadron of three companies, totalling 300 men, now titled the Mamluks de la République.  Many of these men were then brought back to France a new squadron of Mamelukes was created at Marseille.  However, difficulties in obtaining recruits meant that this unit was soon downgraded to a single company.  In 1803 the Mamelukes were permanently attached to the Chasseurs à Cheval de la Garde; an association that would last throughout the Napoleonic Wars.  In 1813 a second (Young Guard) company was formed from Frenchmen and the Mamelukes were once again designated as a full squadron.

With Napoleon’s abdication in 1814, seven Mamelukes accompanied the Emperor into exile, while the remainder (now reduced to a company again) joined the Royal Guard.  By this date, only eighteen ‘true’ Mamelukes were still with the unit and these men were massacred by the population of Marseilles!  However, the squadron was formed again in 1815 and 94 former Mamelukes rejoined the unit, which was once again attached to the Chasseurs.

The ‘uniform’ of the Mamelukes was initially a hotch-potch of native Middle Eastern dress, but some uniformity started to appear in the early days in the form of the cahouk cap, which was initially green with a  white turban.  In 1805 the cahouk had become red as standard and was decorated with a white turban, black aigrette plume and brass crescent and star badges.  The baggy trousers were universally coloured dark crimson.  Dark green shabraques and crimson valises were issued; these were edged in crimson & white lace, with a fringe of alternating crimson and white threads.  All Mamelukes wore a high-collared shirt, collarless waistcoat and sash, though the colours varied wildly and these were typically heavily laced in gold.  Belts were traditionally green or red leather, though issued white or black belts also appeared.

Anyway, that’s it for now.  The Guard Heavies are next and that should finally finish off my Guard.

 

 

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic French Army, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units | 8 Comments

“La Garde au Feu!”: My 15mm French Imperial Guard (Part 5 – The Artillery)

Just a short post this time, covering the Foot and Horse Artillery of the French Imperial Guard.  I’ve finally finished the Guard Cavalry, so will save them for the next post!

I painted the Imperial Guard Foot Artillery a very long time ago, right back when AB Figures first made them (1994, I think?).  At the time we did a couple of large show-games of the Battles of Lützen and Bautzen (both fought in May 1813) and they’ve since been incredibly battered by innumerable games.  I’m pretty sure that they were also painted as a rush-job on the day before one of the games!  They were also originally gloss-varnished (as was all of my stuff back in the day…).  However, I recently gave them a little spruce-up and a spray of matt varnish (although they still look very shiny).

The Guard Horse Artillery were painted much more recently, in 2015, for our Waterloo Bicentennial games.  Again, these are by AB Figures and at the time they replaced some 1980s-vintage Battle Honours Guard Horse Artillery, which were also sculpted by Tony Barton and were very nice in their day, but had been battered to hell and back during the intervening 30 years…

Speaking of Napoleonic French artillery… The subject of French Artillery Green is a perennial topic of discussion on wargames fora and Humbrol once did such a colour in their ‘Authentic Colour’ range of enamels*.  The actual recipe for French Artillery paint of the period was a hundred parts ochre to one part lamp-black.  By a spooky coincidence, this is EXACTLY the same basic recipe as WW2 US Army Olive Drab paint, which is quite a brownish-greyish-green, akin to cow-pats and represented very well by Humbrol Enamel 155 and demonstrated by my Cold War tanks.  However, I prefer it to look a little greener, so instead use Humbrol 159 Khaki Drab, which is the colour I use for Late War WW2 British Army vehicles.

I’m pleased to say that the painting on these is MUCH better than that on the Foot Artillery! 🙂

As part of the Waterloo Bicentennial project I painted the AB Figures Guard Horse Artillery mounted officer figure to represent Général de Division Jean-Jacques Desvaux de Saint-Maurice.  St Maurice was an aristocrat of the Ancien Régime and graduate of the Artillery School of Châlons, who somehow survived The Terror and served very successfully as an artillery officer, eventually rising in 1809 to Général de Brigade and command of the Horse Artillery of the Imperial Guard.  In November 1813 he was promoted to Général de Division and in 1815 he was appointed as General Commanding the Artillery of the Imperial Guard.  As a general of the Imperial Guard, he may well have worn the typical general’s uniform with Imperial Guard aiguillettes on the right shoulder (as shown in the Wiki page linked above), but as honorary Colonel of the Guard Horse Artillery, he was entitled to wear the uniform of that corps, as shown in the portrait here.  In full dress, St Maurice’s colpack (busby) would have a white egret-feather plume, but the figure’s plume broke off long before I painted it… 🙁 But no worries, as the portrait above shows the plume removed for campaign order.

That’s it for the Artillery of the Guard.  It’s the Cavalry of the Guard next time…

* Humbrol Authentic Colours was a range of paints where they charged you an extra 10p for a black & gold label and tin-contents that were most likely already in the main range under a different name…  Adherents will pay a king’s ransom on eBay for old tins of ‘Authentic Colour German Camouflage Yellow’, even though the exact same paint is still available as Humbrol Enamel 83 Ochre.  If you’re interested, ‘German Camouflage Olive Green’ is Humbrol Enamel 86, ‘German Camouflage Red Brown’ is Humbrol Enamel 160 and ‘Polish Crimson’ is Humbrol Enamel 153.  The only Authentic Colour that I want but have never seen in the main range is Imperial Purple – a constant source of frustration…

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic French Army, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units | 2 Comments

The Forgotten Wargames Army: XIVth Army in Burma (Part 4)

Here’s the last of my Burma stuff for the time being; namely some elements of the Royal Artillery.

You might be wondering why I need to have model artillery, as the artillery will ordinarily be flippin’ miles away and only represented on table by Forward Observation Officers (FOOs) and by the effects of fire (unless you’re playing the frankly odd Flames of War, of course).  That’s certainly the case with my usual rules, Battlefront: WWII, though I must confess to having built up quite a large collection of artillery pieces, due in part to having inherited a large number of such models from a friend’s collection, but also due to us putting on some bloody enormous games that encompassed the artillery gun positions on table!

Part of the Bishenpur ‘Gun Box’ at our Bovington 2011 game

For Burma I have the perfect excuse to collect artillery, as it was often the case during that campaign that artillery units would find themselves directly in the front line, defending fortified ‘boxes’ against enemy attack.  One such example was the ‘Gun Box’ at Bishenpur, during the Battle of Imphal.  This contained a 25pdr Field Regiment, a 3.7-inch Mountain Battery, a 40mm Light AA Battery, a 6pdr Anti-Tank Battery, a 5.5-inch Medium Artillery Section and a 3.7-inch Heavy AA Section and came under repeated close infantry attack during the battle.  Part of this featured in our 1st Battle of Bishenpur game at The Tank Museum, Bovington in 2011 and there are numerous other examples of Gunners having to directly defend their guns during the war against Japan, so the models do come in handy.

Although it’s not remotely my cup of tea, the fact that the Flames of War game-system requires you to have artillery on table does mean that they produce a lot of interesting artillery and gun-tractor models that might not otherwise be available.  Bless ’em…

Above:  A Field Battery of 25pdr guns deployed and ready to fire.  At full-scale, a Field Battery would consist of eight guns, divided into two Troops of four guns.  However, I wargame at a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio, so each gun model here represents 2 real guns and the battery therefore consists of four gun models.

Each Troop Commander would typically deploy forward as a Forward Observation Officer (FOO), leaving a Troop Gun Position Officer (GPO) behind to command the Troop’s gun detachments.  Similarly, the Battery Commander would typically deploy forward to liaise with the CO of the infantry battalion they were supporting, leaving a Battery GPO behind to command the Battery.

Units with a full scale of motor transport would typically use Universal Carriers as Observation Post (OP) vehicles for the FOOs, but units on a light scale of transport might use Jeeps or even mules to carry the necessary radios, batteries, field-telephones and cable-spools.  Many Field Regiments became ‘Jungle Field’ Regiments (consisting of 3.7-inch Mountain Howitzers and 3-inch Mortars) while the campaign was fought in the dense, mountainous jungle of the Burma-India border.  However, they transitioned back to a heavier scale of motor transport following the defeat of the Japanese offensive at the Battle of Imphal in 1944, in anticipation for the Operation CAPITAL counter-offensive into central Burma, where the road network was far more extensive and where the terrain was far more suited to mechanised warfare.

The vehicles here are marked for the 136th (1st West Lancashire) Field Regiment RA, which was the senior Field Artillery Regiment of the 7th Indian Infantry Division (‘Golden Arrow’), as indicated by the ’42’ serial on the red-over-blue RA Arm-of-Service Sign.  The divisional badge for 7th Indian Division was a golden arrow on a black disc.  Note that Field Artillery and Anti-Tank units did not apply markings to their guns.  The reason you see marked guns in museums is because this did become common practice AFTER the war.  AA units by contrast, commonly applied the full array of markings to their guns.

The battery is indicated by the smaller blue square marking, which has one quadrant (here the lower-left quadrant) coloured red.  The position of the red quadrant shows the seniority of the battery within the regiment – 1st Bty top-right, 2nd Bty bottom-right, 3rd Bty bottom-left and 4th Bty top-left, so this is the regiment’s 3rd Battery.  The white letter indicates the Troop (in this case ‘F’ Troop – the 3rd battery of a Field Regiment would have ‘E’ & ‘F’ Troops, so the other Troop will have the same marking with ‘E’ instead of ‘F’).  The Carrier has ‘RF’, which indicates the Troop Commander’s OP Vehicle for ‘F’ Troop.

The chaps at the back, huddled around a map-table and signaller, wearing red cap-bands and collar-tabs came with the Flames of War 25pdr Battery set as an ‘Artillery Staff Group’.  I’ve actually painted them as an infantry brigade tactical headquarters, hence the red staff officer bands and tabs.

An OP Carrier of an unknown Field Artillery unit in Burma, 1945. Note the radio antenna bracket and the cable-spool mounted at the rear. Note also the very large Allied Star that was applied to XIVth Army vehicles in 1945.

These models are all by Flames of War and the Carriers are lovely little models of the OP Carrier variant, with a radio in the back, radio-antenna mount on the side and a telephone cable-spool on the front (my apologies for being lazy and not sticking an antenna on them!).  Note that the Flames of War come usefully supplied with two gun-barrels, enabling them to be modelled either as the Mk I without muzzle-brake or the Mk II with muzzle-brake.  The vast majority of 25pdrs in Burma had the Mk I barrel, so I’ve used these here.  Note also that the Quad tractors in Burma were far more likely to be Canadian-built CMP types, rather than the Morris C8 Quads shown here, but I’m not aware of anyone making a CMP Quad in 15mm.

Some more Royal Artillery for Burma, but this time it’s a Troop of 40mm Bofors Guns from the 7th Indian Infantry Division.  In reality a Troop consisted of six guns and there were three Troops per LAA Battery, for a total of 18 guns per Battery and 54 guns per Regiment.  However, many batteries were reduced in strength to 12 guns; either by removing a Troop from each Battery or by reducing each Troop in the Battery to four guns.  My two models here represent a reduced-strength Troop of 4 guns at 2:1 ratio.

I should also mention that many AA guns in Burma were 20mm Hispano, Polsten or Oerlikon types, rather than 40mm Bofors.

As with most things in XIVth Army, the organisation of Light AA and Anti-Tank units changed quite dramatically as the war progressed, based on the nature of the terrain, enemy tactics and the ability of XIVth Army’s strained logistical system to supply units in the field.  At the start of the war, the 7th Indian Division had the standard organisation of separate LAA and AT Regiments; namely the 122nd LAA Regt RA (with three LAA Batteries) and the 6th Indian AT Regt IA (with four AT Batteries).  In August 1943 these units were replaced by the combined 24th LAA/AT Regt RA, which had two batteries each of LAA and AT.

This move to condensed and combined LAA/AT Regts was repeated right across XIVth Army.  Their flexibility was increased even further by the AT gun detachments adding a 3-inch mortar to their weapon-load on a semi-official/unofficial basis, thus turning them into AT/Mortar Batteries.  In most cases these regiments were split into separate units again in preparation for the advance into Burma and 24th LAA/AT Regt RA therefore became 24th AT Regt RA in September 1944 (being replaced in May 1945 by 8th Indian AT Regt IA) and was joined by 3rd Indian LAA Regt IA.

In terms of markings, note that unlike Field Artillery and AT units, LAA units tended to paint the markings on their guns.  I’ve absolutely no idea what the Arm-of-Service serial was for an LAA/AT Regt, so I’ve simply given them ’47’, which was the serial for an infantry division’s LAA Regt (the AT Regt used ’46’).  The Battery markings were much the same as the Field Battery markings mentioned above (note that the upper-right quadrant here is red, indicating the 1st Battery of a regiment), except that they had three Troops per battery, so the 1st Battery would have A, B & C, the 2nd Battery D, E & F and so on.  AT Batteries also had three Troops (of four guns each).

The Troop is served by a pair of Morris CDSW 6×4 Field Artillery Tractors.  These vehicles were introduced during the 1930s to tow the 18pdr Mk IV Field Gun and 4.5-inch Howitzer then standard in the British Army.  However, they were steadily replaced by the Morris C8 Quad in the Field Artillery role and were then relegated to tow the 40mm Bofors Gun, before being replaced by the Bedford QLB or CMP 3-Ton Trucks.  In Burma they tended to be replaced by lighter CMP 4×4 15cwt Trucks or Dodge Weapons Carriers, but I’ve stuck with the CDSW here, simply because I like the models.

Markings are the same as the guns, except for the yellow weight-class disc.  The split number indicates a tractor (either towing a gun or a trailer) – the top number (10) is the weight class when towing and the lower number (6) is the weight class when ‘travelling light’.  Engineers would place a similar disc on the approach to a bridge.  A vehicle could only then cross the bridge if the weight class displayed on their disc was equal to or lower than that of the bridge.  This simple system is still used by NATO today.

The Bofors Guns and tractors are again by Flames of War.

Anyway, that’s enough Burma for now!

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: WW2, Painted Units, World War 2, World War 2 - British Commonwealth Armies, World War 2 - Burma Campaign | 2 Comments

The Forgotten Wargames Army: XIVth Army in Burma (Part 3)

A Jeep patrol of the British 2nd Recce Regiment in Burma, 1945

Some more Burma stuff today, namely a reconnaissance patrol from the Indian 16th Light Cavalry Regiment.  When we did our game of the Battle of Wetlet late last year, we needed a recce group from that regiment and rather than use some of my NW European collection, I decided to paint some specific vehicles for Burma.

Wheeled armoured recce isn’t exactly what you might imagine as being suitable for the Burma Campaign, as in the main they were limited to the extremely sparse (bordering on non-existent) motorable road network.  As a consequence, a lot of recce units, such as the 2nd Recce Regt, 11th (East African) Recce Regt, 81st & 82nd (West African) Recce Regts replaced their armoured cars and scout cars with Jeeps and just retained a few tracked Universal Carriers, while 45th Recce Regiment was completely converted to Chindits.  The Indian 7th Cavalry Regt traded in its armoured cars, scout cars and Carriers in 1943 for Stuart light tanks.  The 3rd Gwalior Lancers (XV Corps Recce Regt) did things a bit differently and instead had a 50/50 split of Carriers and horsed cavalry.  The West African Recce Regiments even converted in late 1944 to waterborne recce, using native Arakanese small water-craft called khistis.  The recce element of most infantry divisions meanwhile, was a ‘Scout Battalion’ consisting simply of light infantry with no weapons heavier than Brens.

A Daimler Scout Car of 116th RAC’s Recce Troop (255th Indian Tank Brigade) leads a Sherman and a Dodge Weapons Carrier in crossing the Irrawaddy, February 1945

However, the British and Indian armoured regts in the theatre did retain a Recce Troop of either Daimler Scout Cars or Universal Carriers and three Indian cavalry regiments; the 8th (King George V’s Own) Cavalry, 11th (Prince Albert Victor’s Own) Cavalry and 16th Light Cavalry were retained as armoured car regts.  Given the nature and terrain of the campaign from 1942 to 1944 they had precious little chance to operate in their dedicated role.  However, that all changed with the defeat of the Japanese 15th Army at the Battle of Imphal and Operation CAPITAL which followed (and which then became EXTENDED CAPITAL).  As the XIVth Army crossed the Chindwin and broke out of the jungle onto the ‘Dry Belt’ of central Burma, they were finally able to act in their traditional role and provided invaluable intelligence on the position, strength and movements of Japanese units.

Armoured Car Regiments were typically organised with four squadrons, each with five Armoured Car Troops of 2-3 armoured cars and 2-3 scout cars, a Heavy Troop with heavy armoured cars, SP guns or mortars and a Support Troop of two motorised infantry sections, equipped to conduct limited sapper tasks such as detecting and lifting mines.  However, this basic organisation was modified quite extensively due to the tactical, environmental and logistical limitations of the Burma Campaign; I’ve got very little specific information on the organisation of the 8th KGVO and 11th PAVO Cavalry, but the squadrons of 16th Light Cavalry each had two Armoured Car Troops, three ‘Jeep Troops’ (i.e. Jeep-motorised infantry) and a Heavy (Mortar) Troop.

In terms of scout car types, all three regiments used Daimler Dingo Scout Cars (some may actually have been near identical Canadian-built Lynx Scout Cars).  For armoured cars, the 11th PAVO used exclusively Daimler Armoured Cars, but the 8th KGVO and 16th Light Cavalry used a mix of Daimlers and Humber Mk IV Armoured Cars (probably two squadrons of each type).  The 7th Cavalry had been equipped with Fox Armoured Cars (Canadian-built Humber Mk III, armed with Browning .50 Cal) until conversion to Stuart and some of these may well have been used in lieu of Humbers.

In other theatres of war, the Heavy Troops were equipped with AEC Armoured Cars or Staghound Armoured Cars, or with M3 GMCs, but by 1944 the Heavy Troops of all three regiments in XIVth Army were equipped with two Wheeled Armoured Carriers (India Pattern) Mk II, refitted as self-propelled 3-inch mortars.  Other Wheeled Carriers were apparently used as command vehicles.

The Daimler Armoured Car, Dingo, Jeeps and Dodge Weapons Carrier models are by Skytrex.  The India Pattern Carrier and infantry are by Flames of War.  The India Pattern Carrier has a spare plastic mortar added from a Team Yankee M113 APC kit.

In terms of markings, I’ve given these the circular version of the XIVth Army badge, which was the standard form of the badge when painted on vehicles.  I’ve given them square squadron signs (signifying ‘B’ Squadron) in white, which indicates an un-brigaded regiment.  I’ve seen a photo of a 16th Light Cavalry Daimler Armoured Car with just the troop number (2) on the turret side and no squadron sign, though a photo of a column of 11th PAVO Daimlers shows them all painted with squadron signs and troop numbers painted within the signs.  Going into 1945 they would have large white Allied Stars painted on the sides, but apart from the India Pattern Carrier, there are no suitable flat surfaces on which to apply the decals, so I’ve left them off.

That’s it for now.  Artillery next time…

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: WW2, Painted Units, World War 2, World War 2 - British Commonwealth Armies, World War 2 - Burma Campaign | 2 Comments

The Forgotten Wargames Army: XIVth Army in Burma (Part 2)

As discussed in Part 1, I’ve been photographing a lot of my old stuff during the recent spell of sunny weather amid Plague Lockdown.  It’s occurred to me that I’ve got nowhere near enough WW2 stuff on this blog, even though my 15mm WW2 collection is rather huge, so it’s time to rectify that omission.  One of my favourite WW2 campaigns is Burma and we put on a huge Burma demo game at Bovington in 2011.  However, that rather killed the bug for a while and the Burma stuff then sat in its boxes until last December, when I renewed my love for the period with a refight of the Battle of Wetlet.  So expect to see a lot more WW2 games once the current crisis has eased, but in the meantime, here are some more troops:

Above:  A Field Company of Indian Engineers.  I painted these for our Bovington demo game, as the scenario required a Field Company of the Bombay Sappers & Miners, who were tasked with supporting the assault by bridging nullahs (ravines), clearing minefields and destroying enemy fortifications.  These are a mixture of Flames of War ‘Italy British’ Sappers, Peter Pig XIVth Army Infantry in Bush-Hat and Peter Pig XIVth Army Sappers.

They’re painted in exactly the same manner as the Sikh infantry in Part 1, except for the helmets and bush-hats.  Helmets and vehicles in this theatre were normally painted in British Army Standard Camouflage Colour (SCC) 13 Jungle Green, which was introduced in 1943 (replacing the brighter ‘No.3 Green’ shade) and was a very similar, though slightly darker shade to the later SCC 15 Olive Drab or US Olive Drab.  To be honest, the differences in shade are so miniscule and when subjected to the effects of damp, weathering, strong sunlight, deep shade, mud and dust, are completely non-existent.  I therefore simply paint them the same colour as my NW European British kit: namely SCC 15 Olive Drab, for which I use a base of Humbrol 75 Bronze Green and a top-coat of Humbrol 159 Khaki Drab and a final dry brush of Humbrol 72 Khaki Drill, all over a black enamel undercoat.  The bush-hats were very much the same shade of khaki-brown as temperate Battledress uniform, so I use the same shade – Humbrol 26 Khaki, with the puggri band in lightened Humbrol 72 Khaki Drill.

Engineer Field Companies were roughly double the strength of Infantry Companies.  Like the infantry they had three platoons, but each platoon had six sections instead of three (this is essentially the same basic organisation as that used in Europe).  In game terms, there’s one Commander stand and eighteen Sapper Section stands (three platoons of six), three of them armed with flamethrowers (one per platoon).

Unlike Indian infantry, Indian Engineer platoons were commanded by a King’s Commissioned Officer (KCO – either British or increasingly, Indian), with a Viceroy’s Commissioned Officer (VCO) as second-in-command.  In the infantry, platoons were normally commanded by a VCO.  Field Companies were normally assigned to a brigade and platoons would then be split off to provide engineering support to the constituent infantry battalions of the brigade. They could be brought back together as full companies for specific Sapper tasks.

A Sapper of the Madras Sappers & Miners, drinks water from a Chaggal (water-skin) that was widely used by Indian and British troops alike

Another curious organisational feature of Indian Engineers is that they were segregated by race/religion on a platoon-by-platoon basis, whereas in the other combat arms, segregation was normally by company/squadron/battery. In his superb memoir ‘Sunset in the East‘, John Hudson describes how he commanded a platoon of Sikh Sappers, while the rest of the Field Company (of the Bombay Sappers & Miners) consisted of a platoon of Muslims and a platoon of Hindus. They were then assigned to the all-Gurkha 48 Infantry Brigade of 23rd Indian Infantry Division.  Nobody makes any Sikh Sapper figures at present, but it would be a relatively straightforward job to swap heads… If I wasn’t terminally lazy…

The vehicles are marked up for 62 Field Coy Indian Engineers (Queen Victoria’s Own Madras Sappers & Miners), 7th Indian Infantry Division (‘Golden Arrow’).  The unit arm-of-service marking is the usual engineers’ cobalt-blue square, with ’51’ serial.  The divisional sign was a golden arrow (pointing roughly to 10 o’clock) on a black disc.

Units in Burma frequently had little access to motor transport, so there are only enough CMP 15cwt trucks here to lift one platoon or heavy engineering stores, plus a Dodge WC-51 Weapons Carrier for the Company HQ.  Jeeps, CMP 15cwt, Dodge and Chevrolet light trucks were ubiquitous in this theatre and performed magnificently in the extreme terrain.

The Wheeled Armoured Carrier India Pattern Mk II (hereafter referred to as an ‘India Pattern Carrier’) represents the Field Company HQ’s Recce Section, whose task was to seek out and survey routes, assess weight-loading of roads and bridges, seek out bridging points, etc.  These vehicles were fairly uncommon in Burma, but Bill Slim mentioned having a ride in one belonging to 7th Division Engineers, so it HAD to be included in my XIVth Army.  Most Engineer units in Burma would have made do with Jeeps for this task.  India Pattern Carriers were generally not used by recce units in Burma, except as command vehicles and as 3-inch mortar-carriers.  Some Brigade and Divisional Tactical Headquarters also used them as armoured liaison vehicles (General Cowan of 17th Indian Division is known to have used one as his personal transport).

The Valentine Armoured Bridgelayer isn’t actually an Engineer vehicle.  They were operated by Independent Bridging Troops of the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC), with one such troop being assigned to each Indian Tank Brigade Headquarters (50, 254 & 255 Indian Tank Brigades).  The supremely talented Martin Small converted this for me from a standard (and very ancient) Valentine Mk III model by pre-Flames of War Battlefront Miniatures.  In reality the bridgelayers lacked sand-skirts, but the only available model at the time had cast-on sand-skirts, so we were stuck with them.  Although difficult to see, this one carries the markings of Brigade HQ, 254 Indian Tank Brigade.

I’ll leave you with some more photos of Martin’s lovely model bridgelayer:

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: WW2, Painted Units, World War 2, World War 2 - British Commonwealth Armies, World War 2 - Burma Campaign | Leave a comment

The Forgotten Wargames Army: XIVth Army in Burma (Part 1)

Lieutenant General (later Field Marshal) Bill Slim, GOC XIVth Army

It’s been gloriously sunny here this week while on lock-down from the ‘Flu Manchu’, so I decided a photograph a stack of models.  At the top of the stack were some boxes of XIVth Army British and Indian troops for Burma, so let’s start with those…

I’ll start with an Indian Army battalion of Sikhs.  These were originally painted to represent the 4th (Sikh) Battalion of the 12th Frontier Force Regiment, for our 1st Battle of Bishenpur game at Battlegroup South 2011, in The Tank Museum, Bovington.  However, they could represent any all-Sikh battalion in the Indian Army.  The beards and turbans mark them out as Sikh, as they are a requirement of their faith.  Other races/religions would wear turbans of a different style in full dress uniform, but these were not worn in the field (except in the case of a few garrison units caught up in the Japanese invasion early in the war and by Military Policemen).  Instead they would wear standard British headgear of helmets, bush-hats, cap-comforters (cloth tubes – similar to a balaclava) or GS Caps (large floppy beret-type-things).

 

Indian Infantry (non-Sikh) of XIVth Army

After the Indian Mutiny of 1857-59 all Indian Army units were segregated by race/religion.  In the case of infantry battalions, these would either be 100% from one race/religion or they would be segregated by company.  For example, the 1st to 4th Battalions of the 12th Frontier Force Regiment were 100% Sikh, as were all battalions of the 11th Sikh Regiment.  Battalions of some other regiments (particularly the 1st, 2nd, 8th, 14th, 15th & 16th Punjab Regiments and 13th Frontier Force Rifles Regiment) would also often have one or two, maybe more Sikh companies.  For example, the 7th Battalion 16th Punjab Regiment had A (Dogra) Company, B (Sikh) Company, C (‘Punjabi Mussulmen’ or ‘PM’ – i.e. Muslim) Company and D (Mahratta – i.e. Hindu) Company.

Sikh signallers with scrim-covered turbans

These are painted for the latter half of the Burma Campaign (late 1943 to 1945), so are all painted in Jungle Green, often known as ‘JG’.  Earlier in the war the standard tropical uniform was Khaki Drill, known as ‘KD’ and these Sikhs still have their turbans in KD.  They would often cover their turbans with helmet scrim-net and later in the war they were often supplied with JG turbans.  From late 1942 onwards units started dying their own uniforms in various shades of green, leading to a very patchwork appearance until factory-produced JG items started being delivered.  Units newly-arrived in Burma often had to wait a while for JG uniforms to be delivered.  for example, the 81st (West African) Division didn’t get its first JG uniform until they were delivered by air-drop halfway through their first campaign in Dec 1943/Jan 1944.

Sikh Infantry of 7th Division in the Arakan 1944

For JG I use Humbrol 116 (US Dark Green), highlighted with quite a lot of white mixed in.  Factory-supplied JG usually faced to a light blueish-greyish-green, but would look very dark when wet.  For the KD turbans I use Humbrol 72 (Khaki Drill).

Webbing was a light ochre-khaki colour in its natural state that tended to fade to a very pale shade when exposed to sun for long periods.  It was meant to be covered with Blanco (a boot-polish-type substance that came in various colours) to provide camouflage and waterproofing, but supplies were often not available at the front line and it and in any case, Blancoing was a detested activity that was normally abandoned immediately upon contact with the enemy!  Later in the war, webbing was dyed JG at the factory.  According to my mate Skippy’s father (a veteran of 7th Indian Division and the ‘Admin Box’), they would often paint their webbing with green or black vehicle paint.  However, photos of Indian infantry often show very pale webbing (see above), suggesting scrubbed and sun-bleached bare canvas.  For ‘scrubbed’ webbing I use Humbrol 83 (Ochre), again highlighted with quite a lot of white mixed in.  This unit has mostly ‘scrubbed’ webbing, with occasional soldiers wearing JG webbing.

In terms of organisation, Infantry Battalions by this stage of the war in Burma typically had four rifle companies, each of three rifle platoons.  There was no Support Company organisation, but there was always a Mortar Platoon of six 3-inch Mortars and a Carrier Platoon of four sections.  In many cases, the Carrier Platoon lost its Carriers and either got Jeeps or went on foot as a very strong infantry platoon with 12x Bren Guns, used as recce and/or fire support.  There was also usually a Sniper Section and an Assault Pioneer Platoon.  Anti-Tank Platoons were universally disbanded and turned into other uses such as additional Jeep or Mule Transport Platoons.  Battalions might also get a Vickers MG Platoon of four guns if the division had no MG Battalion.

Some uniquely Burma oddities were ‘Commando Platoons’ and ‘Assault Platoons’.  Details are scant, but these seem to have often been re-purposed Carrier or Assault Pioneer Platoons, plus Sniper Section and these terms could either mean a long-range patrol unit or a unit equipped for assaulting bunkers and other fortifications.

Above:  Here’s the battalion ‘on parade’ and organised for Battlefront: WWII rules: At the back are four Rifle Companies, each consisting of a Company Commander stand, a 2-inch Mortar stand and 9x Infantry stands (one of them equipped with PIAT).  At the front is the Battalion HQ, Mortar Platoon of three sections and Bren-heavy Carrier Platoon of four sections.  The sharp-eyed will spot that there are a couple of British officers in there.  It was typical for Battalion COs and Company OCs to be British King’s Commissioned Officers (KCOs), backed up by Indian Viceroy’s Commissioned Officers (VCOs – a sort of Indian liaison officer between the British KCOs and Indian NCOs).  Platoons were typically commanded by VCOs (as were companies on occasion, where the KCO had become a casualty).  However, the process of ‘Indianisation’ had begun before the start of the war, with many company commanders being Indian KCOs and a handful of battalions having 100% Indian KCOs.  This process accelerated as the war went on.

I’ve not added any transport to these, as I’ve already got quite a lot of generic Carrier, motor and mule transport and the scenario didn’t require any.

The figures are all by Flames of War.  These were originally produced for their North Africa/Italy range, but are perfect for Burma.  However, I don’t think they’re in production any more.  I’ve also got another (unpainted) battalion that I intend to paint in KD uniforms.  This will do double-duty as an Early War (1941-1943) unit, with the option to use it as a Late-War Indian National Army (INA) unit, fighting alongside the Japanese (known to the Allies as ‘JIFs’ – Japanese-Indian Forces).

More later…

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: WW2, Painted Units, World War 2, World War 2 - British Commonwealth Armies, World War 2 - Burma Campaign | 8 Comments

‘Going Dutch’: Building a Cold War Dutch Battlegroup (Part 4)

I’ve been side-tracked on other projects just lately and haven’t really progressed with my 15mm Cold War Cloggy army.  However, I recently found some spare models cluttering up space in my locker, so decided to paint them up as 1980s Dutch vehicles.  They don’t really fit with my battlegroup at the moment, but might at some point in the future if I decided to expand it.

First is an M106A1 107mm Mortar Carrier.  This vehicle was based on the ubiquitous M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier and was widely used by a number of NATO and other nations’ armies.  However, the Royal Netherlands Army only used a small number of them, as their standard mortar was the French towed 120mm MO-120-RT, which was towed by the YPR-765 PRMR variant.  M106A1 were only used by the Recce Battalions.

There were three Squadrons per Recce Battalion.  Squadrons had a headquarters consisting of 1x M113 C&V 25 recce vehicle, 1x M557 command vehicle and a pair of M113A1 APCs carrying ground-surveillance radar.  The Squadron then had three Platoons, each with a headquarters of 1x M113 C&V 25, another 4x M113 C&V 25 divided into two sections of two vehicles, a tank section of 2x MBTs, an infantry section (armed with an 84mm Carl Gustav) mounted in 1x M113A1 and a mortar section with 1x M106A1.  In total the Squadron therefore had 16x M113 C&V 25, 1x M577, 6x MBT, 5x M113A1 (two with GSR) and 3x M106A1.

I do my games at a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio, so in game terms, my Recce Squadron (when complete) will have 7x M113 C&V 25, 2x M113A1 (one with GSR), 3x MBT, 3x infantry stands and 1x M106A1.  I just need to paint another 5x M113 C&V 25.  The models above are all by Team Yankee/Flames of War/Battlefront Miniatures.

Next up is a quartet of Centurion Mk 5/2 tanks.  These venerable old beasts of war were still being used in front-line service by the Royal Netherlands Army  right up until 1987, thanks largely to the delays in delivery of the Leopard 1-V:

42 Armoured Infantry Brigade was equipped with Centurion until 1986, when they were replaced by Leopard 2A4.  This brigade initially used YP-408 wheeled APCs as its main infantry carrier until 1987, when they were replaced by the YPR-765 Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle.

52 Armoured Infantry Brigade was equipped with Centurion until 1987, when they were replaced with Leopard 1-V.  The brigade’s YP-408 APCs were replaced with YPR-765 AIFVs at the same time.

53 Armoured Brigade was equipped with Centurion until 1985, when they were replaced with Leopard 2A4.  The brigade had the YPR-765 AIFV throughout the 1980s, so it does present a fun opportunity to mix old with new during the early 1980s.

These models are by QRF Models.  I must however own up here and say that to be true Dutch Centurion Mk 5/2 NLs of the 1980s they should really have a Leopard 1-type IR searchlight box to the left of the main gun and they usually stowed a road-wheel or two on the glacis plate, so these are rather ‘clean’.

For painting, I’ve used Humbrol Enamel 155 US Olive Drab.  The strong sunlight (and my new camera) has made these look rather brown, but it is exactly the same shade as that used on my previous Dutch models.

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Cold War, Cold War - NATO Armies, Painted Units | 3 Comments