Finally I have some photos of the Carro Celere Sahariano (M16/43 or M18/43) in 1/300 scale, based and ready for their hypothetical battles in North Africa. I also made some photos of them, side by side with the British Crusader Tank, the Italian M13/40 Medium Tank and with 6mm Bersaglieri infantry.
The Carro Celere Sahariano (available from Dragonman) compared to some A15 Crusaders (Heroics & Ros).
A comparison with some M13/40 Medium Tanks (Heroics and Ros)
Side by side with Bersaglieri Infantry (Irregular Miniatures).
Here is some more work in progress on my new Carro Celere Sahariano experimental battalion (see previous post). After washing the models, I glued the turrets in place with cyanoacrilate glue, then I glued the guns, made from 5mm sections cut from a thin iron wire. This step was rather fiddly, but the material of the models takes well the cyanoacrilate glue (I used the gel type) and with a pair of tweezers, and some patience, the result is passable and not too much fragile. I then glued the unpainted models on mdf bases; I always do this with 1/300 and smaller vehicles, because it gives me something to hold during painting.
I am not Michelangelo or Rembrandt, I must admit, and my painting technique is rather basic. First I paint overall the basic colour (in this case a sand khaki; I am not a purist and I tend to use the first pot I find in the box... in this case, GW Bubonic Brown looked adequate).
Next step was painting the tracks with gun metal, then I washed the whole model with a black ink wash. My personal recipe is 1 drop of ink / 20 drops of water, carefully try on one model and if it is too dark, add some water drops.
Last step is a drybrush with a very light sand colour (almost white...); I use this over every colour and in all theatres, with the double effect of weathering the model and helping the details to stand out.
After that I let everything to dry very well, and apply a protective hand of clear varnish. Stay tuned for the final part of the article... texturing the bases.
After the first disasters in North Africa, the Italian FIAT planned a new tank called "Carro Celere Sahariano" (Saharan Fast Tank) or M16/43 or M18/43, that was heavily inspired by the British Cruiser tanks design. Like the M14/41, it was armed with a 47mm gun, but was provided with a Christie suspension system and sloped armor. Only one prototype was made, with a weight of 14 tons and a road speed of about 60 km/h. The project was abandoned after the withdrawal from North Africa and the surrender of Italy... but what if the "Sahariano" would have been produced and used in battle, against the 8th Army?
A colour plate of the Carro Celere Sahariano from the excellent website WW2 Drawings.
Fascinated by this obscure and never made tank, I started investigating if I could add it to my 1/300 Italian army. At first I contemplated a conversion or even to make it by myself, but luckily a member of the 6mm_Miniatures Yahoogroup kindly offered to produce the model.
Karl Heinz Ranitzsch runs a shop in Shapeways, that is a website where you can create and sell models with rapid prototyping from a 3D file that you make, or something like that (I think). In just some weeks the Carro Celere Sahariano was ready to ship... oh joy! If you give a look to the Dragonman's Depot you can see other interesting models in 1/300 scale, and you can ask to the designer to make wargaming models that are not commercially suitable.
I must say that these models from Shapeways are not cheap. I ordered ten of them (enough for one hypothetical battalion with 1 model = one platoon) in a material called "White Detail" and the total cost, including shipping was $ 36,63 ( 29,54 euros). Anyway I really wanted these unique toys and when they arrived, I was not disappointed.
The models in their envelope. Shipping is made by courier, in a very well protected package.
The models out from the envelope. Manufacturing is 100% perfect, details are very fine (maybe too much fine... I will see after painting). Turrets are separated and come attached to a sprue, but snap off just with fingers. You are supposed to add the gun by yourself, using a fine metal or plastic wire.
The material used is rather greasy, so I decided to wash the models in warm water
with some drops of dish detergent.
(to be continued...)
From Wikipedia: "At 09:00 on 27 May, at 09:00, Rommel gave the order to General De Stefanis—commanding the Ariete Armoured Division—to attack Bir Hakeim from the southeast. This division—formed of the 132nd Armoured Regiment, equipped with M13/40s, of the 8th Reggimento Bersaglieri and of the 132nd Artillery Regiment—attacked the French position at 09:30 from the rear in two successive waves. The bersaglieri had tried to get out of their trucks to support the armored advance, but a heavy barrage from the French artillery forced them to retreat. The armored vehicles, charging courageously without infantry support—tried to cross the minefield and six tanks managed to infiltrate the French lines, avoiding mines and anti-tank fire. They were eventually destroyed by very close range 75 mm fire, and the crews were captured. Captain Morel—leading the 5th company—thought the situation was desperate and set fire to the company flag and confidential documents.The Ariete Division—reduced to only 33 tanks in 45 minutes—had to retreat. The remaining tanks then tried to outflank this resistance by attacking the north, but made contact with the V zone minefield protecting that face. They eventually regrouped and retreated, leaving behind 32 destroyed tanks and 91 prisoners, including Lieutenant Colonel Pasquale Prestisimone, commander of the 132nd Italian Armoured Regiment. Only two French soldiers were wounded and a truck and a cannon were destroyed. Most of the antitank artillery fire took place only 400 or 200 meters away from the French lines, but the legionnaires did not step back."
This episode inspired me to put toghether a simple scenario for the Pz8 WW2 two-pages rules, ideal for solo games.
Italians (all Regular)
1 x M13/40 (HQ)
10 x M13/40
10 x M13/40
2 x 75mm Field Gun (OT)
French (Regular except FFL = Elite)
1 x HQ + Truck
9 x Infantry (FFL)
3 x 25mm AT
2 x 47mm AT
2 x Bofors 40mm
4 x 75mm Field Gun (OT)
16 x Field Defences
24 x Minefields (12 are “dummy”)
French Field guns (out of table in the fortress at Bir Hakeim) are plently of shells, so ignore the rule 1,2 = “out of ammo”
French win if they destroy at least 10 Italian units.
Italians win if they destroy at least 10 French units, losing less then 10 of their units.
The Italian Armoured Regiment advanced under heavy French artillery fired, that caused the destruction of 2 tank units and the suppression of another one. Then they met the minefield, but were lucky enough to open a wide hole loosing only another one tank unit. The whole attacking force penetrated the French area and closed to the enemy field defences, already weakened by the Italian artillery fire in support.
Italian tanks divided into groups of 2-3 units, each attacking a different French position., while the artillery firing from the Bir Hakeim fortress fired their shells over the Italian rearguard (at the risk of hitting their own Legionaries!) still causing many casualties. French AT guns and infantry with Boys AT rifle were a good match for the thin armour of the M13/40s and the losses were high for both.
One artillery round hits the Italian HQ and kills the Colonel! The Italians can not rally anymore if disorganized or suppressed, but they still fight to the end. With 10 Italian units burning in the desert and 11 French position destroyed, the tactical result is a French victory.
As I told in the previous posting, this solo scenario can be done with many variations. This night I added 3 Japanese snipers in foxholes. They were Veteran and could aim to individual figures (most likely flamethrowers and bazooka...). Sniper fire results only in Casualty (no Suppression). Each sniper was activated as one unit, with max. 1 Suppression (after that, the sniper is considered killed).
This game went much differently; the snipers killed 2 US flamethrowers, their squads were compelled to attack the bunkers with hand grenades... and got several unlucky rolls (or lucky saving rolls for the Japanese). The bazooka team was not able to destroy a bunker at distance and even if the snipers were wiped out by BAR and M1 fire, aimed shooting from the bunkers caused heavy casualties to the US. With 12 men killed the platoon retired, after being able to destroy only one enemy bunker.
Now I must get a Sherman tank and see how it goes!
I eventually found time to paint one box Airfix US Marines, supplemented by some ESCI US Figures... the uniforms are not representative of USMC so I painted them as US Army (olive drab and some helmets with brown camouflage).
This afternoon I arranged a quick solo game with FUBAR one-page rules (that I adopted as my favourite all-purposes skirmish set). Three US squads, each with one flamethrower attached, and one HQ with a bazooka team, are assaulting 3 Japanese bunkers.
I made these simple rules for this game:
- Bunkers are activated like single Units, but can take only two actions: On Guard & Aimed Fire.
- they are armed with one HMG, and have “Heavy” armour (save 4+)
- can be attacked by Bazooka and Flamethrower; or by one Infantry man within 1” from the embrasure, launching Grenades inside.
- For each unsaved hit, roll 1D6:
1-3 = Crew Stunned, - 2 to the next activation
4-6 = Bunker destroyed, crew killed
US infantry came near the bunkers using a "Duck" action. Japanese fire caused some Suppression and the US advance was halted. The HQ squad walked into fire range and destroyed one bunker with a bazooka shot.
In FUBAR you can trade Suppression for Casualties, in order to avoid to a unit to be penalized in the following activation. So did I and one US squad was activated and fired with its flamethrower, even if loosing two men. Another Bunker is burning...
... and another squad uses the same tactic, loosing 3 men but avoiding Suppression and coming at close distance. One man is ready to throw a grenade inside the embrasure, in case the flamethrower misses.. but it will be not necessary.
The game was very fast and can be repeated two or three times in one session, with variations. For example add some Japanese snipers, aiming to the flamethrowers and the bazooka; or other Japanese forces.
From Wikipedia: "The objective of Force Z which consisted of one battleship, one battlecruiser and four destroyers, was to intercept the Japanese invasion fleet north of Malaya. However, the fleet was without any air support, which had been declined by Admiral Sir Tom Philips, the commander of Force Z. Although the British had a close encounter with Japanese heavy surface units, they failed to find and destroy the main convoy. They were then attacked and sunk by long-range medium bombers while attempting to return to Singapore"
In this hypothetical scenario, played with the Pz8 1939-41 Naval Rules, Force Z (HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse) intercept a Japanese fleet (Haruna and Kongo battlecruisers, Atago and Takao cruisers) with a limited and disorganized air support.
Here are the data for the ships involved.
Def Att Range
HMS Prince of Wales 5 5 4
HMS Repulse 3 3 4
(6 x 15”)
Haruna, Kongo 3 4 4
(8 x 14”)
Atago, Takao 1 2 3
(10 x 8”)
I played solo picking the British, with the Japanese managed by a D6 roll. The Japanese also had 1D3 Bombers and 1D3 Torpedo Bombers (all land based). At the start of each turn I rolled one 1D6 for the B. and one for the TB. = 5,6 = one air attack was conducted (rolled 1D6 to determinate the target).
The playing surface (100 cm x 50cm) is divided in 8 zones. Ships can move from one zone to another or stay and manouvre broadside. The two opposing fleets can not cross the central line. This abstract system allows a simple game on a small table.
The Japanese sporadic air attacks caused only limited damages to the HMS Prince of Wales and the HMS Repulse, that were repaired in the following turns. The two fleets came at short range but even if Force Z was able to hit several times the Kongo and Haruna, damages were again limited and soon repaired.
The British had a superior firepower, but they wer not able to achieve a decisive "critical hit" or to cripple the Japanese ships. After some turns the Japanese progressively withdrew, under smoke curtains, making more and more difficult to hit them. When the Japanese fleet leaving the table, the battle ended... a strategical victory for the Force Z, that now controls the South China Sea!
I painted some resin earthworks and made a road for my WW2 jungle skirmish games. This is an after action report with FUBAR one-page rules... a Japanese force is advancing towards a fortified British position. The whole table is considered "jungle" = cover, except the area delimited by the green thread (= open) and of course, the road.
1 HQ Squad = Officer, 2 x 50mm "knee" mortars, 1 LMG & 5 men with rifle
2 x Squad = 1 LMG & 11 men with rifle
1 HQ Squad = Officer, 4 x SMG
HMG team (3 men) in earthworks; attached to one Squad (1 LMG, 1 SMG and 9 men with rifle) partly in earthworks with some men in reserve
I hope that the photos I made with my cell phone will give you an idea about the initial deployment of the forces...
My son picked the British and the game started... one Japanese squad reached the edge of the Jungle area and attacked the trenches with hand grenades, blowing up half of the soldiers inside, including the HMG! Looking at the facial expression of my boy, I declared that the dead soldiers would had become "reinforcements" and they entered again the table from their side of the road...
In the meantime the Japanese HQ squad advanced along the road and encountered fire from the British HQ squad, and from the surviving British rifles in the earthworks... after 50% casualties and a failed activation, the Japanese officer withdrew... instead of committing harakiri!
In the meantime one Japanese squad moved in close combat with the British in the fortifications, that resisted to the assault and were joined by the "reinforcements" in the following turns. A third Japanese squad reached the edge of the Jungle and killed the British HQ squad with hand grenades. But with the poor Japanese officer still fleeing away and the trenches firmly hold by the defenders, we gave the victory to the British.
All at all, a fun game and my boy learned the simple rules almost immediately. I still think that the close combat rules need some fixing (see my previous post)... will see in the next games. I ordered a box of Airfix US Marines for further skirmish games!
In the last weeks I have been busy, painting some good old HO/00 Airfix (8th Army & Japanese) and making some jungle terrain features. I was starting to write down a simple set of skirmish rules for these, but then I found an excellent one-page ruleset called FUBAR for WW2/Modern/Sci-Fi skirmish, that can be downloaded here.
- The old 1/72 Airfix Japanese are still nice figures, but they have only one LMG and lack the famous 50mm "knee" mortars. I converted two prone riflemen just adding a bipod made from wire, one ammo box from card and painting gun metal overall. The mortar men are conversions from Airfix WW1 US soldiers with grenade launcher, heads from the Airfix Japanese wounded figures. -
I tried the FUBAR rules in a first solo battle and the result was a fun, quick and simple game. To represent jungle warfare, I considered the table (120x80 cm) completely "soft cover", inside and out the palms and trees terrain feature. This meant that visibility and ranges were very short (6") and target always difficult to hit, unless with aimed fire or with SMG, LMG and grenades. I also did not allow "Run" (= 12") actions - the faster movements being Duck&Weave (=8") and Assault (=8").
For this first game I picked up my whole Japanese force (1 command squad, with one officer, 4 rifle and 2 x 50mm knee mortars; 3 squads with 11 rifle + 1 LMG), opposed by a weak British platoon (1 command squad made up of one officer and 3 x SMG, and two squads each of 1 SMG, 1 LMG and 8 rifles).
The two forces deployed on the opposite short sides of the table and moved through the jungle, with the British arranging a defensive line and the Japanese attacking it... the most basic form of scenario.
FUBAR activation system is good and works well for solo game. For example, one of the Japanese squad failed to activate for two or three turns and was left back, with the Japanese HQ being compelled to spearhead the attack. This kind of things make more interesting and challenging games, solo or with one opponent.
Another thing that I liked is the Suppression system. Basically a number of figures in each squad (1-4 depending on status) when hit are Suppressed (lean on one side) instead of become casualties. They can't fire and subtract a -1 to the next activation roll of that unit. I experimented that one unit with 2 suppressed figures become very difficult to activate (you need a "6").
For this first game, I found a bit difficult to make use of Grenades. Single figures should have a limited number of these, but how can you keep track of the number of Grenades for each one, avoiding dozens of counters or a roster sheet? I think one solutions is avoiding one or two "Throw Grenades" action for each squad during the game, as alternative to firing.
A more major issue aroused with close combat. Rules says that combat continues at the beginning of each subsequent turns; units involved automatically activate; and cannot subsequently activate in that turn. I did not understood how long the combat goes on (until one unit reaches 50% casualties? but it is not written); if a unit can withdraw from close combat (seems not possible since cannot activate during that turn); if suppressed figures have some penalty. Maybe it is just me (I am not native speaking English) but it looks the less clear section, of one otherwise clear and concise set of rules.
The game was a British defeat, with the whole command squad slaughtered in close combat, one squad fleeing away, reduced to only 3 men, and another squad near to 50% casualties. But the Japanese casualties were also heavy... I will do other FUBAR games and expand my terrain scenics with field fortifications, road etc, to make other scenarios.
The Battle of Nibeiwa was fought on the morning of 9 December 1940, during the initial phase of Operation Compass. Fort Nibeiwa was defended by the Raggruppamento Maletti, a motorized Italo-Lybian unit commanded by General Pietro Maletti, a veteran of the desert. The British noticed that there was a large gap in the minefields and barbed wire behind the camp, and decided a surprise attack from this side. After an artillery bombardment from the East (to hide the direction of the attack) , at 7:45 AM, 47 Matilda MkII of the 7th RTR, supported by British and Indian infantry, advanced from the North trough the gap. The Italians were completely unprepared, and all the M11/39 tanks (probably the worst medium tank in human history...) were destroyed or captured. Italian artillerymen resisted fiercely but at 8:30 AM all resistance ceased. The Raggruppamento Maletti was wiped out, with 800 killed (including General Pietro Maletti), 1.300 wounded and 2.000 prisoners, while the British lost only 56 men.
- The Italian fort is made with some scratch-build ruins and four resin Middle East buildings (Simply 6)
8 x Matilda MkII (1 is HQ)
8 x Infantry
6 x M11/39
2 x 75mm Field Gun (in Field Defences)
4 x 47mm AT Gun (in Field Defences)
20 x Minefield (10 are "fake")
10 x Barbed Wire
The situation at Fort Nibeiwa make this battle an ideal solo scenario. To give the Italians some more chances, the minefields extend all over the rear perimeter of the camp.
To represent surprise, disorganization and lack of radios of M11/39, roll 1 D6 = nr. of tanks that can move in that turn (all can shoot anyway).
To win the game, the British must Destroy all M11/39 and at least 3 artillery units, loosing no more than 3 Matilda Mk II. Otherwise the attack fails. If the Italian M11/39 withdraw behind the defensive artillery line, the garrison surrenders.
- Italian M11/39 and artillery are from Heroics & Ros
The Matildas advanced and met the minefield, but only 1 unit was Suppressed (and was not Rallied throughout the game). In the meantime, Italian field artillery started firing at long range, with no results. M11/39 withdrew progressively, exchanging fire with Matildas and loosing 1 unit. The Italians were confident that the minefield could have stopped the British, but now they see that their AT guns can not harm the enemy tanks! British armour reach the defensive line, and the Italians are only able to kill 2 British infantry units with field artillery shells. M11/39 are made to pieces and even General Maletti is steamrolled to the ground by one Matilda... just at the end of the battle, one British armoured unit is destroyed by one battery of 47mm AT at point blank, but the battle is over.
Losses are: Italians 1 x HQ, 6 x M11/39, 3 x AT guns; British 1 x Matilda, 2 x Infantry
Not a balanced game (Italians have simply no hope to survive) but a good solo exercise... and a way of remember our fathers and grandfathers.
- British infantry by Irregular Miniatures, Matilda Mk 2 by Heroics & Ros.