Sunday, 26 April 2020

On the Workbench British Anti Tank Battery and M5 tows Tunisia 1943

These PSC M5 half tracks where bought for the big Market Garden weekend in 2018 (see a paint job to far). I have too many for  my small NW Europe  Irish Guards. So these I have found a use for in my main period - Italy and Tunisia in 1943.  The main use for the lend-lease half track in this theatre was in Royal Artillery particularly Anti-tank battalions. I will use these in Tunisia and Italy in 1943-1944 as tows for 17 pounder and 6 pounder anti tank guns as well as forward observers and resupply vehicles and, eventually, as a ride for my Royal Engineers.
 This anthe M5 towing my 17/25 pounder Pheasant. I added the canvas tilts using PVA soaked tissue and brass rod.

 Deployed 17/25 pounder with AB crew
 Really enjoyed painting these as First Army crew
 Crew from a different angle
 Clse up of the 6 pounder gun battery on the move
 A good view of the tilts cheap to do and quick I really like the effect/ The guns are the early version of the six pounder without muzzle suppressor from Grubby.
 The six pounder deployed with AB crew for this crew the NW Europe  but painted to look a little more mediterranean.
 Loader team for Battlegroup using spare figures from the six and seventeen pounder crew Camouflage in desert pink and green

The six pounder has the AB western desert crew - more of an Eigth Army feel!

 The Western Desert AB miniatures loader team for Battlegroup These loader teams will get heavy use also be useful with my twenty-five pounder artillery battery

 Deatail of the crew in this ruined Tunisia building

My Antitank battery takes on three Early War Miniatures Panzer III's,
Let see how Column Bari like a wall of six pounders between them and Medenine. See my campaign reports and ARR for our Battle of Medenine campaign.

Finaly my two pounder with its Morris tow. All three guns in use by the end in North Africa .
 The two pounder deployed
 AB crew and toothbrouch thorn bush.

 With the wheels on for towing.

Monday, 13 April 2020

On the workbench - Churchill tanks 51 RTR

Just been upgrading and finishing my Churchill tanks mostly of 51 RTR 25 Tank brigade. This unit fought in Tunisia and Italy.
Three gun tanks from A squadron Audacious, Agile and Achilles.  Two of these are Mk IV's from the PSC kit I added the Black Dog stowage to one and added Lancer British stowage to the other. The third is a Mk III mark up as the HQ is the Dragon kit. They're good for scale (unlike the diabolical Airfix Crocodile which is 1/76 not 1/72 as advertised just for a starter.)

Churchill tanks of 51 RTR lined up below a crest near the River Foglia, 30 August 1944. The tanks were supporting infantry attacking across the river. Wikipedia accessed 2020. 

 I have just completed two conversions the first is A Churchill Mk I Close Support Tank from North Irish horse the senior regiment tom 51 RTR in 25 Tank Brigade. Each regiment had 6 of these Close support tanks in 51 RTR they where held with HQ squadron. The North Irish Horse had them in B squadron. The standard MK 1 had a 3" howitzer in the hull and a two pounder in the turret with a co axial BESA  machine gun. In the field NIH had replaced the two pounder with a second 3 inch howitzer in the turret. They also added a Panzer III commander cupola - presumable to improve commander viability. This is the Hasegawa kit of MKI / MkII Churchill with a 3" barrel from the bits box and a Panzer cupola from a PSC kit. The commander is also from PSC 25 pounder gun  kit. NIH used Irish towns to name most tanks so this is Bushmills. I marked it up for 21 Tank Brigade after 25th Tank Brigade was broken up in late 1944.

 The last of the my Churchill tank projects. I have had this planned for a while a Churchill Crocodile. This one is Cyclops of 25 Armoured Assault Brigade 1945. The formation 51 RTR moved  to after 25 Tank Brigade was disbanded. Two companies of these Crocodile A and C compnaies. B company was flail tanks as well as  ARK bridging tanks - a project yet to come.

 Lots of kit bashing to get a decent crocodile model. This one is a made from the Airfix wee kit and the PSC Churchill ( a mark VI).  All crocodiles where on Mk VII so extensive conversion of the PSC Kit was needed. A MKVII / Crocodile conversion kit from PSC would certainly fill a gaping hole in the 1/72 plastic market for the later model churchill. Crocodile trailer and top of the turret from the Airfix kit  as well as flame thrower mantlet and sponson and drivers hatchets. The hull and gun from the PSC kit. I am very happy with the result

These are two extra turrets I have prepped to give more flexibility to the list making a Churchill NA75 (North Africa 75 added a Sherman 75mm gun to the Churchill turret) and the 95mm close support tank

Appendix 1 Names of Churchills in 51 RTR

HQ squadron
A squadron
B squadron
C squadron

AMAZON - Daimler AC
BLACKFOOT  M3 recce troop
LONDON - Mk V Sherman

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Scenario and AAR Operation Capri Campaign 3 The Hard Road to Hir Ksar Koutine

The Hard Road to Hir Ksar Koutine

Our campaign map showing the progress of the Italian probe into the British position 

Column Bari of the Italian Spezia Division advances toward the town Medenine after breaking through the pass at Kef Ahbdala. Historically the column was held  at Kef Abdala now however in our alternative history they are threatening 131 brigade HQ. The Italien player as winner chose the next scenario The Hard Road East.
The Italians have now done better than they manage historically. We elected to fight the next battle for the small village at Hir Ksar Koutine on the main coastal highway where it crosses a deep wadi. The hastily assembled blocking force was from 131 Brigade with motorised infantry from the The Queens Regiment and Valentine tanks from the army reserve.

British 8th Army 22nd Armour Brigade

1 platoon Motorised Infantry with 3" mortar from  A Company The Queen's Regiment
1 6 pounder AT gun
1 squadron Valantine  Mk III Tanks
1 additional Valentine Mk VIII  from (8th Army reserve)
I foot patrol 4/10 Rajput Infantry (8th Army reserve)
1 Daimler AC
1 OP in BREN carrier
1 battery Self Propelled M3 GMC 75mm
1 battery 25 pounder guns (off table)
1 timed artillery barrage 4.5" guns (off table)
1 timed 3" mortar barrage

Column Bari

Forward Headquater M41 SPG
1 Infantry Platoon  with AT gun Mountain gun and HMG  from Spezia Division
1 M13/40 tank platoon from Spezia Division
1 M41 SPG platoon from Spezia Division
1 Bersagleri motorised patrol
1 Autoblinda AC
1 Auto sahara light truck with 28mm Autocanon
1 transport column with 2 medium trucks
1 supply truck
1 AA truck
1 stretcher party
1 timed airstrike  C242
FO in light car
1 priority artilery request
1 48mm AT gun

After Action Report

La Spezia  of Column Bari attacked with Bersagleri and a mix of tanks and assault guns.Hoping to clear the road toward Medenine.

The British attacked first and used their lorries to quickly occupy the village and surrounding orchards,
Queens deploy from there lorries seizing their only objective of the game 

British Infantry deply to hold the village

Infantry section make use of the roof tops 

Infantry advance out of town 

Platoon HQ get onto the 3" motar 
Indian Army recce patrol on the barren hills beyond the town . They wages a lonely game of cat and mouse with Italian foot patrol 

The Recce patrol use there radio to contact the mortar battery

The Italians probe forward with there best infantry the Bersagleiri. A battle ensues with he men of the Queens Regiment. The British making their own probe toward the cluster of buildings occupied by La Spezia infantry.  The men of the Queen;s regiment retire in some haste toward the village after the firefight  making a hasty line in the orchards near the town.
Infantry from the Queen's occupy the orchards near the town 

BREN team takes up position

BREN team engages the advancing Itallien infantry in the field beyond 

Artillery pounds Ksar Koutine. Direct fire from an Italien infantry gun and supporting fire from off table Italian big guns begins to pound the pre-registered targets in a timed strike. The pounding means that most of the British infantry are pinned in their cover.

Mortars under fire in Ksar Koutine 

Infantry mortar pinned by weight of Italien artillery and air attacks 

Semovente Assault guns west  of the town take up positions and await the British main force.

A couple of probe the road towards Ksar Koutine. Italien M13/40 tanks on road to east with most of the advanced force pinned down the Daimler AC uses its 2 pounder gun challenge the advancing Italien tanks . One tank is hit and the other withdraws for now. 
Under the cover of the artillery support the Queens are forced back out of the orchards into the cover of the buildings
Not many casualties but lots of pinned sections 

The mainforce of British armour arrives . The 3 Valentine Mk III tanks  shake out of column and begin to advance line abreast across the cactus field toward the farm which is the Column Bari base of fire and a  Valentine MkVIII cover with 6 pounder gun  whilst  rest advance to west of Ksar Koutine.
Valentine tanls arriving from 8th Army reserves. This six pounder armed tank takes up covering position 

Valentines advance into withering fire 

Royal Artillery FOO watches the tanks advance  into the fields 

A Valentine Tank mk III The two pounder guns proved no match for the best Italien self propelled guns 

They quickly run into heavy fire from  the Semovente who stay back out of range of the  six pounder gun on the MkVIII and the two pounder guns on the other Valentines are no match for the Italien's assaults guns.

Over the course of the advance two Valentines are Ko'ed  as run in to  heavy fire from assault guns
 Valentines also forced to retreat.

Valentines under heavy fire in the fields beyond Kef Koutine 

The extent of the advance 

Town continues to be pounded pinning The Queen's into  the buildings  the Regia Aeronautica  dive bombing adds to the woes. The  heavy air attack is costing men of Queen's regiment dear in Battle rating and the entire British position is close to collapse.

Only one thing for it hope the Italians are in an equally parlous state.  The Daimler Armoured Car guns his engine and tries to attempts to seize road junction But the ambush fire from destroyed by M13/40 Italian tank. No natch the Daimler careers fro the road knocked out as the crew bailout.
Daimler Armoured car and the dismounted crew

The British realise the situation is hopeless and  their withdrawal toward Medenine.
 The 8th Armies reserve will have one final chance to stop Column Bari before it forces the Gun lines of the Guards and New Zealanders to withdraw

Scenario and AAR El Aroussa -The Race to the Spot, 26 February 1943 Tunisia.

  Battle for "The Spot", El Aroussa, Tunisia 26th February 1943 The History Three days after the end of the battles at Kasserine t...