Operation Banquet

de Havilland Tiger Moth
RAF Tiger Moth at RAF Cosford

In addition to the Tiger Moth’s principal use for initial training, the Second World War had RAF Tiger Moths operating in some other capacities and roles. These roles included maritime surveillance and defensive anti-invasion preparations; some aircraft were even outfitted to function as armed light bombers.

This got me thinking about how the RAF might have used Tiger Moths during a successful Operation Sealion. The usual factor for a successful invasion of England by Germany in 1940 was the destruction of the RAF during the Battle of Britain. Of course there are all the naval challenges as well in crossing the channel, but for the sake of argument, let’s say that they were resolved. So would the RAF use them in the defensive anti-invasion role?

Then I did some research and found that the Air Ministry back in 1940 had similar thinking and came up with Operation Banquet.

Operation Banquet was a British Second World War plan to use every available aircraft against the planned German invasion in 1940, the German code name was Operation Sealion.

Operation Banquet was planned, as after the Fall of France in June 1940. The British Government needed to make urgent anti-invasion preparations, as the Royal Air Force engaged the German Luftwaffe in a struggle for air superiority in the Battle of Britain. This included building defences, bunkers, setting up auxiliary units and training the Home Guard.

At the time the threat of invasion was very real and having lost a significant amount of military hardware in the fall of France, the British military were rightly concerned about defending the country against a German invasion. A successful German invasion was dependent on destroying much of the RAF capability, hence the , by the British, to utilise all available aircraft in the event of German troops landing on the beaches on the South coast.

In May 1940, the Air Ministry had started to realise that beyond the normal fighter aircraft reserves of the RAF, it may be necessary to throw every serviceable aircraft into the battle. On 17 May, an Air Ministry meeting outlined ambitious plans to make use of various aircraft in the event of an invasion. This would include transport and training aircraft. Early in July 1940, about 1,000 aircraft, from Tiger Moths to Wellington bombers, at training schools, were ready for anti-invasion operations, with hope of another 1,000 aircraft when the scheme was complete.

Among the Banquet plans was Banquet Light which would see the formation of striking forces composed of De Havilland Tiger Moth biplanes and other light aircraft of Elementary Flying Training Schools. De Havilland put forward plans for converting the Tiger Moth into a bomber by equipping it with eight 20lb bomb racks beneath the rear cockpit. The Banquet Light strike force would be used for Army co-operation, bombing concentrations of airborne troops or soldiers landing on the beaches. If the Germans had adequate air defences, then the plan wouldn’t work, but the thinking was that in the confusion of an amphibious landing they would not have the time or the capability to set up effective air defences.

The use of slow aircraft for ground attack operations was not new and not without precedent, Netherlands Fokker C.Xs, German Henschel Hs 123 and British Hawker Hector biplanes had operated on the continent without unsustainable losses; against advanced troops without time to establish adequate air defences. Slow, highly manoeuvrable aircraft could make accurate ground attacks and escape destruction. This would be a military need in the event of Operation Sealion.

This could make for some interesting scenarios and games.

54mm D-Day on display at the Nothe Fort

It was seventy-eight years ago that the liberation of Europe began with Operation Overlord and the Normandy landings on the 6th June 1944.

In the depths of the Nothe Fort in Weymouth (as well as a civillian nuclear bunker (now abandoned)) there is a really beautiful 54mm scale model of the D-Day landings. Lots of different models in there including an Horsa glider.

Landing on the beaches

Landings

Horsa Glider

It is a representative model and does not reflect an actual beachhead.

Landing on the beaches

Churchill Tank

D-Day

More photographs of the evocative 54mm scale D-Day model at the Nothe Fort in Weymouth.

Landing Craft at D-Day

Beachead

Landing...

Painting the Rolls Royce Armoured Car

The Rolls-Royce armoured car was a British armoured car developed in 1914 and used in World War I and in the early part of World War II. At the outbreak of World War II, 76 vehicles were in service. They were used in operations in the Western Desert, in Iraq, and in Syria. By the end of 1941, they were withdrawn from the frontline service as modern armoured car designs became available.

This mode, which I bought about twenty five years ago now, was originally designed and manufactured by the Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company (HLBSCo) they were then small and relatively new. 

A version of the model is still available today and the other HLBSCo models are available from Empress Miniatures. The newer version consists of more resin and less white metal.

I bought the model for Tally Ho! but also intend to use it with my Bolt Action Home Guard forces.

I gave the model a base coat of Cruiser Tank Green (700), which I am not sure is the right colour for a 1940s Rolls Royce Armoured Car.

I think though looking at other models, that it’s probably okay, and  fine.

I wasn’t too happy with it, so after a while I decided to give the model another basecoat of Army Green Spray from the Army Painter range.

Once dry I masked the model with blu-tak. 

I then used a Humbrol Tank Grey 67 spray for the dark colour.

The next stage will be painting the tyres and detailing.

Painting the Morris CS9 Armoured Car

The Morris CS9/Light Armoured Car was a British armoured car used by the British Army in the World War II. The vehicle was based on a Morris Commercial C9 4×2 15-cwt truck chassis. On this chassis a rivetted hull was mounted with an open-topped two-man turret. The armament consisted of either Boys anti-tank rifle and Bren light machine gun or Vickers machine gun. 

I have the Bolt Action Morris CS9 Armoured Car resin kit. Having constructed the model and given it a white undercoat. I then gave the model a base coat of Cruiser Tank Green (700).

Another view.

I wasn’t too happy with it, so after a while I decided to give the model another basecoat of Army Green Spray from the Army Painter range.

The green is very similar. Then spray gave the model a smoother finish.

Once dry I masked the model with blu-tak. 

I tried to copy the camouflage pattern as shown in the 1940 photograph.

Morris CS9/Light Armoured Car

I then used a Humbrol Tank Grey 67 spray for the dark colour.

The other side.

The next stage will be painting the tyres and detailing.

A Bridge Too Far

I have been meaning to watch this film again for a while after reading Antony Beevor’s The Battle of Arnhem: The Deadliest Airborne Operation of World War II.

In the book, Antony Beevor, using often overlooked sources from Dutch, American, British, Polish, and German archives, has reconstructed the terrible reality of the fighting.

On September 17, 1944, General Kurt Student, the founder of Nazi Germany’s parachute forces, heard the groaning roar of airplane engines. He went out onto his balcony above the flat landscape of southern Holland to watch the air armada of Dakotas and gliders, carrying the legendary American 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions and the British 1st Airborne Division. Operation Market Garden, the plan to end the war by capturing the bridges leading to the Lower Rhine and beyond, was a bold concept, but could it have ever worked? The cost of failure was horrendous, above all for the Dutch who risked everything to help. German reprisals were pitiless and cruel, and lasted until the end of the war.

The film, A Bridge Too Far, was shot on-location in the Netherlands, in many of the real locations where the historical events took place. At the time of its release, it was the most expensive film ever produced.

Richard Attenborough directs this star-studded account of the failed 1944 Arnhem assault. The story follows the events of Operation Market Garden, a plot that was intended to allow the Allies access to the German lines to seize control of bridges in the occupied Netherlands. The cast includes Dirk Bogarde as Lieutenant-General Frederick Browning, James Caan as Staff Sergeant Eddie Dohun, Robert Redford as Major Julian Cook and Sean Connery as Major General Roy Urquart.

I have watched it many times, but still find it a fascinating and enjoyable film.

It’s a long film at nearly three hours long, but it covers the preparation the three air drops, the ground assault and much of the fighting across the bridges and other objectives.

Yes you can quibble about some of the vehicles used, the floating Sherman tank for example, or the use of the Leopard post-war tank as a German Panther. However there are many other accurate period vehicles used (which were being decommissioned at the time from various European armies).

Lots of gaming ideas in the film as well.

Get A Bridge Too Far on Blur-Ray.

V1 and Launcher Ramp

The V-1 was the first of the so-called “Vengeance weapons” series  deployed for the terror bombing of London. It was developed at Peenemünde Army Research Center in 1939 by the Luftwaffe. Because of its limited range, the thousands of V-1 missiles launched into England were fired from launch facilities along the French (Pas-de-Calais) and Dutch coasts. The Wehrmacht first launched the V-1s against London on 13 June 1944, one week after (and prompted by) the successful Allied landings in France.

This V1 flying bomb and ramp was on display at The Imperial War Museum at Duxford.

V1

The V1 flying bomb was powered by an Argus 109-014 pulse-jet engine, carried a warhead of approximately 850kg, and was guided to its target by an autopilot. The maximum range was typically 149 miles, with a maximum speed of 400mph.

Although some V1s were air-launched, most were catapulted from specially constructed ramps.

V1 Ramp

I’ve always thought that either a Dutch or French Resistance or UK Commando raid on a V1 base to stop them launching would make for an interesting game. Why send in ground troops when a bombing raid would work just as well? Then I was thinking about adding in the complication of a chemical or biological armed V1 that would need to be taken care of on the ground. There were some real raids on V1 bases as part of Operation Crossbow., which was the code name in World War II for Anglo-American operations against the German long range reprisal weapons (V-weapons) programme. In 1965 a film Operation Crossbow, based on these raids, was released.

Battlefront released a 15mm version in their Hit the Beach Boxed set.

For 20mm gamers there is a 1/72nd model kit of the V1 and launch ramp available.

If you are playing Bolt Action, then Charlie Foxtrot Models do a MDF kit of the ramp for 28mm gamers, but you probably need to buy the Tamiya 1/48th scale plastic kit for the V1 itself. That kit does come with a trolley as well.

V1

There was a V1 at the Imperial War Museum in London.

M3 Grant Medium Tank

This enormous tank presents an interesting contrast with contemporary British designs. American manufacturing techniques, using sophisticated machine tools, not only speeded up production but also ensured high reliability. Even so Britain insisted on modifications to the American design which resulted in a different turret but both types saw service with British forces. Those with the original turret were designated Lee, those with the British style turret were Grants.

The M3 Grant Medium Tank was on display at Bovington. In the background is a Light Tank M3A1 Stuart IV.

M3 Grant Medium Tank

The main asset of the tank, from the British point of view, was the 75mm gun which could fire high explosive and armour piercing ammunition. The former was the perfect answer to Rommel’s imaginative use of anti-tank guns and there is no doubt that Grant tanks were largely responsible for halting Rommel’s attack during the key battle of Alam Halfa.

For all that the Grant was a difficult tank to fight in. The low position of the main gun meant that it was impossible to conceal and the tank often had to swing round in order to bring this gun to bear. Riveted construction was also a serious liability by 1942 while the 37mm gun, in the turret, was all but useless.

Tanks of this type were first used in Western Desert in 1942. Mechanically reliable but soon superseded by Sherman.

Over at Duxford they have the one used by General Montgomery during the battle of El Alamein. The 37mm gun was replaced by a wooden dummy gun barrel to create more room in the turret for extra radio equipment.

M3A5 General Grant II (Monty's)

Notice the difference in track guards.

Undercoating the Morris CS9 Armoured Car

The Morris CS9/Light Armoured Car was a British armoured car used by the British Army in the World War II. The vehicle was based on a Morris Commercial C9 4×2 15-cwt truck chassis. On this chassis a rivetted hull was mounted with an open-topped two-man turret. The armament consisted of either Boys anti-tank rifle and Bren light machine gun or Vickers machine gun. The vehicle carried a No. 19 radio set.

The prototype was tested in 1936. A further 99 cars were ordered and were delivered in 1938. Thirty-eight of these cars were used by the 12th Royal Lancers in the Battle of France, where all of them were destroyed or abandoned. Another 30 served with the 11th Hussars in the North African Campaign. It was found that when fitted with desert tyres the vehicle had good performance on soft sand. However, its armour and armament were insufficient. The vehicle was retired halfway through the North African Campaign.

Morris CS9/Light Armoured Car

This is the finished version of the Bolt Action model, as seen on the Warlord Games website.

The pack contains a resin and metal kit. The hull and turret are resin, the wheels, guns and axels are whitemetal.

Having glued the axels and wheels to the main hull, I glued the weapons to the turret. I also managed to stick the headlamps into place, this was much harder than it looks and it took a couple of attempts.

Morris CS9 Armoured Car

Morris CS9 Armoured Car

I gave the underneath of the model a black undercoat followed by a white undercoat.

Morris CS9 Armoured Car

Morris CS9 Armoured Car

Morris CS9 Armoured Car

The next stage will be the base coat. I will be trying to replicate this paint scheme which shows a camouflage disruptive pattern.

Morris CS9/Light Armoured Car

See the full workbench feature on the Bolt Action Morris CS9 Armoured Car.

I also have a Flames of War blister of a 15mm Morris CS9 as well.

M3A5 General Grant II (Monty’s)

US WW2 medium tank, powered by twin General Motors 6-71 diesel engines, use by General Montgomery during the battle of El Alamein. The 37mm gun was replaced by a wooden dummy gun barrel to create more room in the turret for extra radio equipment.

M3A5 General Grant II (Monty's)

This Tank was used by General (later Field Marshal) Sir Bernard Law Montgomery in the Desert Campaign in 1942 – 1943, including the Battle of El Alamein in October 1942 in which the 8th Army defeated Rommel. It continued to be used by Monty during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, and for the remainder of that year as the 8th Army advanced into Italy. It was attached to 8th Army Headquarters and was used by Montgomery and subsequent Commanders for forward observation on the battlefield. It was “Monty’s wish” that the tank should be handed back to his old Regiment, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and in 1948 it was brought from Austria to England and became gate guardian at Budbrooke Barracks outside Warwick.

British Sexton Self-Propelled Artillery

The 25pdr SP, tracked, Sexton was a self-propelled artillery vehicle of the Second World War.

British Sexton Self-Propelled Artillery

It was based on Canadian-built derivatives of the American M3 Lee and M4 Sherman tank chassis, which entered production in Canada as the Ram and Grizzly. When Sherman production in the US expanded and supply was no longer a problem, in 1943 it was decided to switch the Canadian production lines to produce the Sexton to give the British Army a mobile artillery gun using their Ordnance QF 25 pounder gun-howitzer. It found use in the Canadian and British Army, as well as numerous other British Empire and associated forces. Just after the war, a number of Grizzly and Sextons were sold to Portugal, who used them into the 1980s.

British WW2 self-propelled artillery vehicle based on an American tank chassis, crew of 6, powered by Continental R-975 9-cylinder radial petrol engine, armed with a 25pdr gun and two Bren light machine guns.