NEW – Western Desert British forces released

This release sees the introduction of a raft of models to expand our range of Brits in the desert. First of all, there are some additions and tweaks to existing models; the LRDG gun truck and LRDG support truck have new crew and an improved Breda 35, the 17pdr AT gun and Bofors 40mm AA now have options to take 8th Army crew members. There are also now officers for the SAS/LRDG and 8th Army available. Additionally, the new 25 pdr and 3″ mortar models are also available with crew in standard battle dress.

The completely new models are detailed below and in addition, we now offer a Britsh Desert platoon bundle. This features a range of infantry, mortar and artillery support, and a Matilda tank! This is available at a very reasonable discounted price and free UK shipping. This is the sixth of our platoon bundles, in addition to the Japanese, Italian, British, German and Soviet platoons already released.

As always, here’s a little background on the various new units…..

8th Army Forward Observer team – *****MarDav exclusive models!*****

Trained in liaising with artillery batteries or RAF squadrons, forward observer teams can coordinate devastating barrages of fire or close air support to cover the advance of troops or soften an enemy position before an assault.  

8th Army and SAS / LRDG Infantry Sections with rifles or SMGs

Active from 1941-45, the 8th Army has become synonymous with the Allied fight in the Western Desert. Seeing action in the Tunisian, Sciliian and Italian campaigns, the soldiers of the 8th Army fought a very different battle to the forces in Normandy and the Far East. Large expanses of desert and the often close fought clashes that evolved around what few objectives there may be, created a different soldier to the battles of Burma or Western Europe. 

However, still at the core of the 8th was the stalwart of all armies – the rifleman. Even if his uniform may differ from those of his fellows in other theatres, the trust .303 Lee Enfield did as well in the desert as anywhere else, and were it not for the khaki shorts clad Tommy, there would have been no victory in the desert.

The SAS were founded in 1941 by Lt David Stirling and originally was seen as a raiding force designed to disrupt the enemy through sabotage, intelligence gathering and outright attacks. 

Initially, the new force failed to impress the higher command, as Operation Squatter, their first mission, was an unmitigated disaster. However, given a second chance, and transported by the LRDG, the SAS proved themselves by destroying 60 aircraft across 3 airfields with no losses.

Further missions in the desert, often teamed with the LRDG, saw them sowing mayhem across German occupied airfields and harbours. Later in the war, they engaged in amphibious landings, parachute rescue drops and more of their hit and run attacks

8th Army 3″ Mortar

The 3” mortar was the standard mortar of the British army for over 30 years, including over WWII. Initially inferior to the similar calibre German GW34, improvements to the propellant, barrel, sights and baseplate dramatically improved its performance and it was a reliable and effective weapon through the war.

This model is also available with standard battle dress crew.

8th Army 25 pdr howitzer

The 25pdr or “Ordnance Quick Fire (OQF) 25 pounder” was the standard British field gun during WWII. Combining a high rate of fire, good mobility, a good shell, and capability for both direct and high angle fire, it was a popular artillery piece that stayed in service with the British army until the 1960s. 

The primary armament of the 25pdr was a HE round, but AP, smoke, chemical and star shells were also available. 

From its introduction in 1940, the 25pdr saw service in all theatres of war that the Commonwealth forces were present. This meant it had to cope with everything from hot, dry desert conditions to the wet, steamy humidity of the Burmese jungle.

In addition to its role as a field gun, the 25pdr was also adapted for use in vehicles. Starting initially with the unsuccessful Bishop and finishing with the Sexton, they gave the army much needed mobile artillery support.

This model is also available with standard battle dress crew.

Matilda infantry tank

Developed as a more heavily armed counterpart to the A11 (“Matilda I”), the A12 Matilda II (or just “Matilda”) was the first of the British infantry tanks to see serious combat as the Matilda I only seeing action in the Battle of France. 

A heavily armoured infantry support tank, the Matilda was equipped with a 2pdt AT gun for engaging enemy vehicles and an MG for against infantry. While the 2pdr was an excellent AT weapon, outperforming contemporary and comparable weapons, it was distinctly lacking a suitable HE round that would allow the Matilda to be truly versatile. 

The Matilda was the only British tank to see service throughout the war; first being introduced in 1940 during the Battle of France. In the North Africa campaign, the Matilda proved itself against the lighter Italian tanks, with them often unable to penetrate its thick armour, while in turn the 2psr was highly effective against the much lighter Italian armour. It was during the NA campaign that the Matilda earned the nickname “Queen of the Desert”.

As the war progressed and Axis anti-tank weapons improved, the Matilda was phased out of British forces simply through lack of replacement when they were destroyed. However, many were supplied to Australian forces in the Pacific theatre where it found a new lease of life as the Japanese tanks it faced were not dissimilar to the Italian tanks of the Desert War and so the 2pdr was once more effective, and the heavier armour again proved impervious to many enemy shots. 

Variants of the Matilda included mine flails (Scorpion), flamethrowers (Frog), rocket launchers (Hedgehog), CDL and bulldozer equipped tanks

SAS Jeep

Stripped down to keep unnecessary weight to a minimum, then loaded up with fuel cans, ammo and as many guns as they could muster, the roving jeeps of the SAS were raiding terrors of the desert. On the night of 26-27th July 1942, 18 jeeps of the SAS tore through the Sidi Haneish airfield and destroyed around 40 aircraft for the loss of only a single jeep and a single soldier – Lance Bombardier John Robson.

Future attacks, either on their own or in conjunction with the LRDG, earned the SAS a deadly reputation, and one that would not have been possible without their dangerously overloaded jeeps!

This model is supplied with multiple crew for different options including single and twin Vickers K guns, Lewis gun and a .50 cal. Un-crewed vehicles are also available as 1 crew set is sufficient for two jeeps.

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Hopefully you found this bit of background history interesting and our models will be reinforcing your British armies of the Western Desert.

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