Tobruk Besieged

In the crazy back and forth fighting across the Libyan coastal plain, one battle was more static, but no less brutal. The port of Tobruk, taken from the Italians in January 1941 was subsequently besieged by Axis forces from April until December. At over 240 days it is the longest ever siege endured by British forces.

The models are all 15mm from Battlefront; mostly metal although some of the vehicles are resin.

All three armed services were critical to the successful defense of Tobruk. The Navy, RN and RAN, kept the garrison reinforced and supplied and allowed the evacuation of wounded soldiers. The RAF and RAAF, some based inside the perimeter, kept the Luftwaffe at bay and supported the troops. The bulk of the defenders were made up of the 9 Div AIF, who relieved the by then veteran 6 Div just before the German advance out of Tripoli triggered the Torbruk Handicap that led to the Great Siege.

This is a selection of my Western Desert force. While it could be used to represent many of the battles in 1940-41, it is motivated mostly by the 9 Div and supporting elements from the British 3rd RTR, 3rd Hussars, 51 Field Regiment RA and 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers (a specialist machine gun unit).

A 25pdr of 51 Regiment RA in a stone sanger
Battalion HQ staff officers c0-ordinate the defense
2pdr a/t were outclassed later in the war, but at this stage were more than a match for Italian tanks and could even stop the Panzers of the 5 Leichte Division, although often at great cost to the gunners
Cruiser tanks from the 3rd Hussars; 7 RTR were also present (with Matilda tanks)
An aerial view

Not sure when these will reach the table, but it is bonza to be close to finishing this army after so many years incomplete. Now I’m thinking I need an Axis force to oppose them, but there is always another project.

Time for a big stonk

Apparently a stonk is a thing, and the way to get one delivered is to get your supporting artillery regiment on the telephone or radio. Before Montgomery made artillery essential to his battle plans, the Royal Artillery Regiment were honing their craft as part of the Western Desert Force. This battery of 8 guns from a field regiment will support my desert campaign Australians.

Field regiments were armed with 25 pounder guns, introduced early in the war and so successful they were used for many years after all around the world. I have included some some Italian guns. This is a nod to the bush artillery, a unit made up of support troops during the Tobruk siege in 1940-41 who used captured Italian guns. I suspect they provided more moral than actual support, given the highly technical game of arty, but it is a wonderful image and a terrific insight into the courage and tenacity of the garrison.

The RA regiments supporting the Australian divisions in North Africa were mostly British formations, pointing to the international nature of Western Desert Force (and later, the 8th Army). Australian artillery were mostly deployed for home defense and later in the Pacific.

It is a lot of models: 8 guns, with HQ, staff, FO and enough trucks and universal carriers to transport them all. This battery will make up a large part of any force they are included in, but they will also throw out a lot of firepower. Fun fact: the artillery were the largest component part of the British Army.

See you in the Bardia for lunch!

Motor pool

Holy Cow Batman! It has been six years since I have done any work on these little fellows, a 6 Division Australian force for the Western Desert. It is way past due to get some wheels for them. Weapon carriers for reconnaissance, trucks for troops, and Morris Quads for the artillery.

They look pretty rough up close, but they are only small, so look OK at “gaming distance”
Brm, brm

Transport is essential, so these trucks will be very handy for the troops (alas! still mostly sitting with undercoat) and the equally essential field artillery (also still sitting with undercoat- see a pattern?).

Still, progress on a long neglected project. I’m calling that a win.

D.

No! Smaller than that!

Looking for something else I found a squadron of Sherman tanks with a rattlecan base coat and nothing else. I can’t date them but I reckon they must be around 5 years old. Yep, well past due to get a little attention at the paint table.

They are 15mm from Plastic Soldier Company. My brother tells me they are early war because the hulls are rounded and not the riveted late war bodies. I thought the 1:72 one I completed recently was little. These are very cute. Here is one sitting next to a 1:56 version from Warlord Games.

The commander took about 45 seconds to paint, including shaking the paint pots.

I enjoyed painting these tanks. It seems some more 15mm may be in order and I happen to have a half finished British desert army. As you do.

Biggles Sweeps the Desert

Tally Ho!

After fresh water and somewhere to cool down a few tinnies, air support will be high on any desert survival list. So enter No. 3 Squadron RAAF, flying Kittyhawks that will provide much needed air cover for my mid-war Australians.

AfricaWWII_04

Can you hear something Blue?

AfricaWWII_01

No 3 Squadron RAAF flys over 2/9 Div positions

AfricaWWII_02 AfricaWWII_03The P-40, Kittyhawk to Commonwealth nations and Warhawk to the Americans, was one of the mainstays of the RAAF in the second world war. Out gunned by German machines in the fighter role, they proved reliable and capable in a bomber-support role in North Africa and in the Pacific. They also held their own against the Italian air force, that unlike the Italian navy or much of the army, was very professional and dedicated even as they flew rather outdated machines.

No markings yet as the box came with a US decal set, so on the lookout for suitable RAF/RAAF markings in 144th scale or thereabouts.

The company itself is not much larger than the models shown, a few more tanks plus some 25 pdrs, so there is not much to do now.¬† That will be nice as these were my first Flames of War models but I decided to do some German Tigers just to get a force table ready. An heavy panzer company is like 12 models, including infantry, so was very quick to paint. I’ve hesitated finishing as while¬†15mm tanks are really fast to paint, I find the little mens a bit daunting. Not totally rational as they really don’t take much to do, so it is time to get on with them, I think.

Hoo Roo.

D.