Sunday, 3 January 2016

A side project - WW2 SA 6th Armoured Division

Got diverted by another hobby horse of mine - the 6th (South African) Armoured Division that fought in Italy 1944/5. I had wanted to do a small Bolt Action 28mm force and decided to get it done over the Xmas break (One can only paint so much 7YW lace before simple khaki is required for a break... )

Why the 6th SA? Well, I had built it as my "main" Allied WW2 force in 20mm quite a few years ago for Rapid Fire gaming, to fight my son's Germans. There were a bunch of reasons for that:

(i)  I'm South African....
(ii) The Allies and especially the Axis powers in Italy used a huge range of equipment (ie whatever they could get their hands on), so we (especially my son) could use a wide range of toys in our games if we played Italy
(iii) The 6th is a fascinating unit in its own right for gaming with, as it is quite a mix of interesting things - consider that:
- It fought under both the British 8th and US 5th Armies, no other Commonwealth force did that.
- It used an interesting mix of Commonwealth, US and SA equipment, for e.g. combining 76mm and 17pdr Shermans, Dodge 3/4 tonners ("Beeps") not British gun-tows, and their own armoured cars and trucks
 - At various times British, Indian and US troops fought under its command, so you can "legally" mix Commonwealth and US forces on a tabletop.
- "Uniform" was at best a style guide, they mixed British battledress, SA summer gear, US gear (and anything they could find on campaign) so mixing British 8th army and later figures with a few bush hats, US helmets etc is de rigeur
- It had a fairly unique camo scheme well into its time in Italy, blue/black splodges on a light mud brown hull.
- Finally, its final battle in the campaign was the battle of Finale!
(BTW the Flames of War website has a decent writeup on the 6th)

Anyway, I decided to do it in 28mm as well for Bolt Action et al , so built a platoon of the Imperial Light Horse/Kimberly Regiment, the Motorised Battalion that was part of 11th Armoured Brigade. This unit had halftracks, not trucks (The 6th used SA made trucks that you can't get models of in 28mm/1:48 in its Motorised Brigades, so a halftrack unit it had to be ) .

Of course, the infantry was often operating in conjunction with its tanks so a Sherman was an essential addition. I also read they used their M10s (called the "Grouse" ) in close support too for bunker busting and battlefield artillery as well as TD duties so I added one of those too.

The project so far has completed:
- two infantry sections, (last one on the way)
- halftracks for all 3 sections
- the armour
- 2 jeeps, to be allocated to various ancillaries as required

Still to be built are a 2" Mortar section, 3" Mortar section, PIAT team, Sniper Team and the impedimenta of the platoon HQ.