Tanker Rollout

Heartened by previous favourable comments, the tankers have moved through the paintshop in Tripoli faster than a fat girl racing for the last pie on the plate. Having said that, the tankers look a bit Morris-ey now.

A simple khaki undercoat was followed by desert sand (Humbrol 63), a bit of grey for the tyres and windows, followed by some black lining .That’s it now until they have been played with for a few times and picked up some character. My detail brush is in the foreground. The black lining is done with a superdetail ’0′.
The train-into-tanker conversion isn’t looking promising yet, but it’s early days. The Barbie pink will have to go!

Not Quite Two-Star

Inspired by Phil Steele’s Zis-5 (BZ)  Tanker  conversion, I did some enthusiastic rummaging around in my bits boxes (Suzanne calls it “the garage”) to drum up enough wheels for 3 trucks. These tankers will fill some of the holes in divisional orbats. The thought and planning phase has occupied two months, but all three models were built in an afternoon.

The models are deliberately “Not Quite” anything so that they can stand in for whoever happens to need tankers. My fleet now stands at five, but I think that I will probably need around a dozen eventually. The Zvezda The Zis-5 And Junior General Truck Chit were kept handy to prevent scale creep, which can happen all too easily. As I was building, a pernicious thought crept into my head;
“That train boiler looks a bit like a tanker body”. Hmmm.

Unlike Phil, I went for the “as cluttered as I can get” look to draw attention away from the fact that these scratchbuilds are essentially the parents of scrapwood, paper and cake decoration wheels with a bit of plastic girder thrown in. The advantage of using paper for the mudguards is that they are close to scale thin-ness, (not that I actually care, given the liberties that I have taken everywhere else!)
Pictures of the painted tankers to follow.

Oktoberfest: Artillery Forts and Xanten (Colonia Ulpia Traiana )

As any seasoned drinker knows, the Germans celebrate their Oktoberfests mainly in September.
Suzanne and I visited Xanten (Colonia Ulpia Traiana), a rather good part-reconstruction of a Roman colonial walled city, as part of a tour of Germany. Of more relevance to this blog was a chance find at the Hook of Holland of a Maginot-style artillery fort guarding the estuary. It is the way of these things that Suzanne saw it with 30 minutes to go before we were due to board, so a few hurried shots were all that I managed as I jogged around the perimeter.
In case anyone is anxious that we missed the beer, there was plenty left in October.

1st Free French Brigade Group at BIR HAKIEM

Converted Peter Pigs from Phil Steele’s collection. 
Copyright Phil Steele.
Crucial to any GAZALA Battle is the contribution of General Koenig’s Free French Brigade (1FF) at BIR HAKIEM. Fortunately, I don’t have to model them as Phil Steel has already made an excellent job of it in 15mm, allbeit he painted them originally as Vichy French. . 1FF seemed to be plentifully supplied with 75mm artillery of one sort or another, which I have amalgamated into the 1st Flying Column portee.

1st Free French Brigade (1FF) (Gen Koenig) – 1 Command Jeep (s3), 1 Signals Vehicle (s3)
1st Free French Tank Coy1 Crusader I,II OR III (s2) (But I own a Char 2C, so see my stand-in on the blog wallpaper!)
1st Free French Flying Column1 Automitraillaise Dodge (s2), 1 portee 75mm M1897 or ‘Conus gun’ SPG (s3)
1st Fusiliers MarineComd (s3), 3 Rifle Stands (s3), Hotchkiss MMG (s3), 81mm Mortar (s3), ATkRifle (s3) (Boyes)
2nd Bn French Foreign LegionAs 1FM above.
3rd Bn Infanterie Marine PacifiqueAs 1FM above.
1st Moroccan SpahisAs 1FM above.
Engineer1 Engineer Stand (s3)
Anti-tank1 Fordson WOt2 25mm CLA portee (s3)
Anti-aircraft1 25 mm CA mle 39 towed/portee (s2)
Logistic1 Ammo Truck (s3), 1 Workshop Truck (s3), 1 Fuel Tanker (s3), 1 Ambulance (s3)

Later on, at ALAMEIN :

1st Free French Division : (Gen Koenig)
- Compagnie de QG51 : Lt Muracciole
- 2e Bataillon de la Légion Etrangère : Cl Amilakvary
- 1e Bataillon d’Infanterie de Marine et du Pacifique : Cdt Bouillon
- 22e Compagnie Nord Africaine : Cpt Lequesne
- 1e Regiment d’Artillerie : Cdt Laurent-Champrosay
- 1e Bataillon de Fusilliers- Marins (A.A.) : CC Amyot d’Inville
- Compagnie Anti-Chars (A.T.) : Cpt Jacquin
- 1e Compagnie de Sapeurs-Mineurs : Cpt Desmaisons
- 1e Compagnie Transmissions : Cpt Renard
- 101e Compagnie Auto (transport) : Cpt Dulau
- Atelier Lourd de Réparations Auto n°1 : Cpt Bell
- Intendance : Int Bouton
- Groupe d’exploitation n°1 : Lt Foussat
- Groupe Sanitaire Divisionnaire n°1 : Med-Cdt Vignes
- Ambulance Chirurgicale Légère : Med-Cdt Durbach
- Hôpital de Campagne Hadfied-Spears : Med Ch Vernier


  1. Corbonnois, D. (2004) L’odyssée de la Colonne Leclerc : Les Français Libres au combat sur le front du Tchad, 1940-43
  2. http://minitracks.forumpersos.com/t155-engins-francais-depuis-1941-a-1945
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13th_Demi-Brigade_of_the_Foreign_Legion
  4. Haugh, D. (2002) http://www.warwheels.net/images/AMDodgeTanakeDATASHEET.pdf
  5. Bishop, C. (1998) The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II. p.190. Sterling Publishing.
  6. Latimer, J. (2002) Alamein. p.329.
  7. Post by Reasoner, D. (2006) http://testofbattle.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2916&sid=2b9b5a228faeb353ef45af3326d173d3

Gazala Tank Strengths Cross Referenced

Michael Carver’s Tobruk (1964) breaks down tank strengths on the 27th  of May 1942 for the start of Rommel’s Operation Skorpion (p.167). comparing this with the chain of command from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Gazala#Allies  threw up some anomolies, which I had to resolve by working out the strengths for the whole of 8th Army. The task was complicated by the British habit of splitting tanks into cruiser/medium heavy tanks, and infantry tanks, as two separate groupings.

“Where’s my truck!”…. “Behind You!”*
8th Army [Lt Gen Ritchie] – 843 (28) tanks of which:
30 Corps [Norrie] – 167 (5) Grants, 149 (5) Stuarts**, 275 (9) Crusaders allocated as follow:
(2) Stuart, (2) Crusaders
1st Armd Div [Maj Gen Lumsden](1) Crusader
2nd Armd Bde [Brig Briggs](1) Grant, (3) Crusader.
22nd Armd Bde [Brig Carr](1) Grant, (3) Crusader.
201st Gds Mot Bde [Brig Marriott/Johnson] -
7th Armd Div [Maj Gen Messervey]- (1) Grant
4th Armd Bde [Brig Richards/Gatehouse](2) Grant,  (2) Stuart.
(British) 7th Mot Bde [Brig Renton]3 motor rifle battalions
(Indian) 3rd Mot Bde [Brig Filose] – 3 motor rifle battalions
(Indian) 29th Inf Bde [Brig Reid]3 infantry battalions
1st Free French Bde [Brig Koenig]4 infantry battalions with supporting arms
Plus 1 Armoured Brigade (from Army Reserve) -  75 (2) Grants (s3) and 75 (2) Stuarts (s3)
6 RASC companies and 4 light field ambulances, with a Divisional Workshop and Brigade Workshop for each brigade. This is roughly as many trucks as tanks, and gives an idea of how big the logistic tail was stretching across the desert. Even this monster was unable to sustain battle for more than a few days at a time before resupply was needed.
**Stuart tanks seemed to be popular with Artillery FOOs in armoured formations, which would easily swallow the “missing” Stuarts in the breakdown above

May 1942 GAZALA (Venezia)

- this was my original breakdown. The slight differences probably reflect Crusaders being replaced by Grants as battle losses occurred.


Tanks – 849 (28) broken down as :
Armoured cars :  (10) Marmon-Herrington, (3) Humber

Cruiser : (3) Honey, (10) Crusader
Medium : (1) Lee, (4) Grant
Infantry : (3) Matilda, (7) Valentine


Tanks – 330 (11) broken down as :
Light : (2) PzII
Medium : (8) PzIIIh
Heavy : (1)  PzIVe


Tanks – 228 ( 7)  broken down as :
Light: (2) L6/39
Medium : (2)  M11/39, (3) M13/41

The three pictures show that I have a long way to go until the orbats are complete, mostly on the British side, but everything needs more paint..