Vickers Medium Mark II*

This is the Vickers Medium Mark II* at the Bovington Tank Museum.

It was the main British tank from 1923 until 1935.

Introduced in 1923 the Vickers Mediums were the first British tanks to see service fitted with a sprung suspension and a rotating turret. Designed to fight on the move, their high speed of 30 mph restored mobility to the battlefield. The hull was riveted. The engine, an air cooled Armstrong Siddeley, was mounted in the front of the tank, alongside the driver. Originally described as a light tank, the advent of even smaller tanks weighing about five tons, resulted in the Vickers’ design being reclassified as a medium tank.

The Medium Mark II was completely obsolete by the beginning of World War II. The survivors were used for training during the first few years of the War. Some were issued to combat forces to make up their strength after the loss of most British first line tanks during the retreat from France in 1940. Others were sent to Egypt as training vehicles and were pressed into service with the Western Desert Force. They were buried as fixed defences at Mersa Matruh and Tobruk.

Vickers sold 15 Medium Tanks to the Soviet Union in 1930, they were used for training. Rather surprisingly, the Finns captured half a dozen of these relics from the Russians in the autumn of 1941. At least one other went to Australia, while a single example of a developed version, the Mark C, was sold to Japan. This vehicle formed the basis of the Japanese Type 89 tank design. A single example of the final version, the Medium Mark D, was sold to Eire where it remained in service until 1940.

These would be the mainstay tanks of any A Very British Civil War scenarios. Difficult to get hold of relevant models though, but you can find 3D printed versions online.

Vickers Crossley Armoured Car Chevrolet (Indian Pattern)

In 1915 the British Army started to use armoured cars in India, particularly on the North West Frontier, to relieve troops needed elsewhere. They proved so successful that this soon became standard policy. Shortly after the war the Indian Government purchased 16 Rolls-Royce cars to a new design but these proved so expensive that subsequent orders were placed with Crossley Motors in Manchester who made a tough but cheap 50hp IAG1 chassis. Substantial numbers of these cars were supplied between 1923 and 1925.

Armoured Car, Crossley Chevrolet (Indian Pattern)

The body design, which was very similar to the Rolls-Royce version and built by Vickers at Crayford, had a number of interesting features. These included a dome-shaped turret, with four machine-gun mounts, which was designed to deflect rifle shots from snipers in ambush positions in the high passes. A clamshell cupola surmounted the turret for the commander, while side doors opened opposite ways on either side so that a crew member could dismount safely under fire. The crew area was lined with asbestos to keep the temperature down and the entire body could be electrified to keep large crowds at bay.

By 1939, when the Royal Tank Corps in India had handed most of its equipment over to the Indian Army, the Crossleys were worn out. The bodies were then transferred to imported Canadian Chevrolet chassis, with pneumatic tyres, and in this form served with Indian forces in the Middle East in the early years of the war.

You can imagine in an early Very British Civil War scenario in the early 1920s, the Vickers factory making these armoured cars available to one of the armies for fighting the civil war. You would have to think about some rules for allowing the entire body could be electrified and the impact that this would have in games.

The Vickers Crossley Armoured Car was also exported to Japan who made use of them in China.

Mainichi Shimbun [Public domain]
Company B make a 1/56th scale metal and resin version which is available.

Whilst you can get a 3D printed version in 15mm from Shapeways.

Peerless Armoured Car

A rather dark photograph of mine of the Peerless Armoured Car at the Bovington Tank Museum.

Peerless Armoured Car

During the First World War, sixteen American Peerless trucks were modified by the British to serve as armoured cars. These were relatively primitive designs with open backs, armed with a Pom-pom gun and a machine gun, and were delivered to the British army in 1915.

After the war, a new design was needed to replace armoured cars that had been worn out. As a result, the Peerless Armoured Car design was developed in 1919. It was based on the chassis of the Peerless three ton lorry, with an armoured body built by the Austin Motor Company.

Here is a better lit photograph of the Peerless Armoured Car at Bovington from Wikimedia.

Peerless Armoured Car
Simon Q from United Kingdom [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
Poor off-road performance hampered the vehicle but it still saw considerable service, notably in Ireland. A few were still in service with the British at the start of the Second World War. Seven were in service with the Irish National Army during the Irish Civil War and used by the Irish Defence Forces up until 1932.

This photo appeared in the Sunday Independent on 13 August 1922, with the caption: “A Dangerous Corner – This photograph was taken in one of the towns captured during the past week by the National Army. It shows an amoured car “manoeuvring for position” at the end of a street facing the post office. Irregulars occupy the further end of the street, and are being quickly dislodged by infantry supported by the armoured car.”

Peerless Armoured Car in Cork in 1922
Peerless Armoured Car in Cork in 1922 – National Library of Ireland on The Commons [No restrictions]
These armoured cars would have been used in the world of A Very British Civil War. They would also make ideal vehicles for the concept of the 1919 British Revolution I talked about in this blog post.

Tally Ho 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.

Tally Ho Rolls Royce Armoured Car

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 model was the first one I bought for Tally Ho! It has been stuck in a box for about twenty years.

Tally Ho Rolls Royce Armoured Car

It was originally designed and manufactured by the Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company (HLBSCo) they were small and relatively new. I even remember discussing licensing the models for a commercial version of Tally Ho! However that didn’t go any further and the model went into a box.

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.

As well as Tally Ho! I am also going to use it with Bolt Action with my Home Guard Unit, and possibly A Very British Civil War.

This is a 1920s version of the Armoured Car. The model consists of a resin armoured hull, metal chassis, wheels, turrets and fiddly headlights.

Tally Ho Rolls Royce Armoured Car

Despite the age of the model, this is a well crafted sculpture and has captured the rather unique look of the original.

Next stage will be putting it altogether, though the headlamps look rather fiddly.

Vickers A1E1 Independent Tank

This is the Vickers A1E1 Independent a the Tank Museum which alas wasn’t very well lit, but I have added a further official photograph below.

Vickers A1E1 Independent Tank

The Independent A1E1 is a multi-turreted tank that was designed by the British armaments manufacturer Vickers between the First and Second World Wars. Although it only ever reached the prototype stage and only a single example was built, it influenced many other tank designs.

The A1E1 design can be seen as a possible influence on the Soviet T-100 and T-28 tanks, the German Neubaufahrzeug tanks, and the British Medium Mk III and Cruiser Mk I (triple turret) tank designs. The Soviet T-35 tank was heavily influenced by its design.

Vickers A1E1 Independent
Photograph KID 109 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums (collection no. 6000-02)

Though never developed beyond the prototype stage, you can imagine that it might have entered production if the Second World War had started earlier, or we had the potential scenario of A Very British Civil War.

The tank was the subject of industrial and political espionage, the plans ending up in the Soviet Union, where they may have influenced the design of the T-28 and T-35 tanks.

There are lots of skirmish games or role playing scenarios that could be inspired by this. Soviet agents, aided by communist sympathisers, attempt to break into the Vickers factory to steal the plans (or even the prototype) and British police, the Security Services and even troops attempt to stop them.

Call out the Home Guard

As I start to reflect on possible forces for Operation Sea Lion games I have been looking around to see what is available, there have been some useful articles in the mainstream wargaming press on this subject too.
In a previous blog post I discussed my new Royal Navy Section which I will be using for Operation Sealion games. I already have on the workbench some Bolt Action partisans, which though designed for the Eastern Front will work just as well for games of Operation Sea Lion. I also have the Dad’s Army boxed set, which means I have some Home Guard already and extra civilians.

I had expressed how I liked the British LDV Section from Warlord Games and was pleased to pick up a box on discount from Firestorm Games on a recent visit.
British LDV Section from Warlord Games

On 14 May 1940, Britain’s Secretary of State for War Anthony Eden made a broadcast calling for men between the ages of 17 and 65 to enrol in a new force, the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) to defend the country against the expected German invasion of Britain. By July, nearly 1.5 million men had enrolled – far outreaching the 150,000 the Government expected to volunteer.

Beginning life as a rag-tag militia, the LDV initially had to make do without uniforms, wearing a simple armband bearing the organisations initials. The LDV similarly struggled for modern weaponry – shotguns and improvised weapons such as golf clubs, crowbars and industrial tools were not uncommon. The LDV evolved into the Home Guard, becoming a well-equipped and well-drilled force.

Disparagingly referred to as ‘Look, Duck & Vanish’, the LDV were renamed to the more inspiring Home Guard. Although the German invasion of their country didn’t materialise this proud people’s army – the original ‘Dad’s Army’ continued to stand until it was disbanded in late 1945.

The box set contains a ten man section equipped with various improvised weaponry, with additional firearms and Molotov cocktails.
British LDV Section from Warlord Games
This is the rear view of the models.
British LDV Section from Warlord Games
There has been lots of discussion about how effective the LDV would be against elite German Fallschirmjäger or even regular Wehrmacht forces. Trained soldiers generally will easily overcome irregulars in a straight firefight, one question though would British LDVs become the resistance?
These models could also be used as British Auxiliaries which were trained in irregular combat and were expected to fight on after invasion and occupation.

Of course, these models will also be suitable (as will my other Sea Lion British forces) for games set in the realm of the Very British Civil War.
So what units are you mustering to defeat the Germans as launch Operation Sea Lion?

It’s the Navy!

As I start to reflect on possible forces for Operation Sea Lion games I have been looking around to see what is available, there have been some useful articles in the mainstream wargaming press on this subject too.

I already have on the workbench some Bolt Action partisans, which though designed for the Eastern Front will work just as well for games of Operation Sea Lion. I also have the Dad’s Army boxed set, which means I have Home Guard and civilians.

I quite like the look of the new LDV from Warlord Games, but one unit that was recently released caught my attention. The Royal Navy section looked really interesting.

Warlord Games Bolt Action Royal Navy section

Armed primarily with the reliable Lee Enfield rifle and often supported by a Lewis machine gun, sections of highly disciplined and well-equipped naval ratings with considerable experience of close combat fighting are a fearsome opponent.

Warlord Games Bolt Action Royal Navy section

Clad in their dark blue uniforms and 1908 pattern webbing these Jack Tars will provide a dash of colour to an otherwise khaki British force.

Warlord Games Bolt Action Royal Navy section

As the war progressed, it was Royal Navy Commandos or Royal Marines who would lead shore parties rather than Navy sailors. However in the realms of Operation Sea Lion you can easily imagine German Fallschirmjäger attacking a British Navy base to secure it to defuse any opposition. The only thing they weren’t expecting was some sailors to fight back.

Another idea would be, following a German invasion and the establishment of a successful beachhead with troops moving inland, the British command send in a Royal Navy shore party secretly to rescue a key scientist who has been left behind the lines in a seaside resort. The shore party need to find the scientist, whilst avoiding Wehrmacht patrols. They may have the support of local defence volunteers, potentially even members of an Auxiliary Unit.

Of course these Naval forces will also be suitable (as will my other Sea Lion British forces) for games set in the ream of the Very British Civil War.

You can see how in the turmoil of a British internal conflict, local militia attempting to secure weapons from a naval base, find that it wasn’t going to be as easy as they thought. They did bring a hastily improvised armoured civilian truck, however then the Molotov cocktails started to rain down on them.

The rules for the Royal Navy section can be found in the Bolt Action Campaign Sea Lion expansion. When I first read this campaign book, I didn’t expect that Warlord Games would release “obscure” units such as this for the game, however I have been pleasantly surprised by the variety and number of releases for the expansion. I am probably thinking in the past of rule publications that “talk the talk” but due to a range of issues didn’t “walk the walk”. Part of this was probably down to the fact that there were companies who made miniatures and then there were companies who published rules. There were a few who did both, but not many. Warlord Games are one of those companies who do both, and do both well; you can tell their Games Workshop heritage in their business practices.

The boxed set contains ten models. A petty officer leading the squad armed with SMG. There is a two man Lewis Gun LMG team, which will provide much needed fire support against an Fallschirmjäger attack.

There are seven unique sailors all with rifles and three have Molotov cocktails. Well that Lee Enfield isn’t going to be much use against those Jerry Panzers!

So what units are you mustering to defeat the Germans as launch Operation Sea Lion?

Tally Ho Rolls Royce Armoured Car

Tally Ho Rolls Royce Armoured Car

This model was the first one I bought for Tally Ho! It has been stuck in a box for about twenty years..

I can’t recall the manufacturer, but they were small and relatively new, I even remember discussing licensing the models for a commercial version of Tally Ho! However that didn’t go any further and the model went into a box…

As well as Tally Ho! I am also going to use it with Bolt Action with my Home Guard Unit, and possibly A Very British Civil War.

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.

Tally Ho Rolls Royce Armoured Car

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 is a 1920s version of the Armoured Car. The model consists of a resin armoured hull, metal chassis, wheels, turrets and fiddly headlights.

Tally Ho Rolls Royce Armoured Car

Despite the age of the model, this is a well crafted sculpture and has captured the rather unique look of the original.

Next stage will be putting it altogether, though the headlamps look rather fiddly.