Wednesday, June 23, 2021

15mm WWII British for NW Europe


Alright, alright, alright, here we go, now we're getting to the big stuff!  Sure the WWII Marines and Vietnam gear were cool, but those were small potatoes, this is where we really get dug in!  So, I've been building up this force of British for Northwest Europe for about a year now, and I think I'm about finally ready to get some stuff on the table.  I figure I painted about 35% of this stuff, and the rest was bought from various locations, a lot of which I had to put some serious work into in order to get it to match the rest of what I had going on.  

I've been wanting to play some larger sized games, some games where I'm throwing down a brigade vs a brigade on the table, so I organized these forces along the lines of the Rapid Fire Reloaded tables of organization.  I haven't actually played the rules yet so I have no idea if this was a great plan or not, and even then I didn't follow it exactly as they want you to individually base, or base in 2s, your riflemen, and I was already basing them FOW-style in 4s  ;)  Rapid Fire has it set up that a rifle company is eight figures, so that's two 4-man bases per company for me, and eight bases per four rifle company battalion (like the British), or six bases per three rifle company battalion (like the Germans).  At the battalion level you add in the support weapons like 2" mortars, 3" mortars, PIATs, 6-pdr Anti-Tank Guns (ATGs), and Vickers MGs (it assumes you would break up an ATG or MG Company into platoon-sized elements and directly attach them to the rifle battalions).  

So let's take a look at where we're at.

Here's the whole mess, a brigade's worth of infantry (three rifle battalions), enough Shermans, Cromwells, and Churchills to make up a Regiment, and various other support vehicles, artillery, and air support.

A look at the infantry brigade, which consists of three battalions.

First up, I've got a couple high level (probably Brigade) command stands, which I painted myself.

The stand with the halftrack.  The figures are Battlefront's new plastic figures and painted up pretty easily, right on the sprue.

And without halftrack.

A rifle battalion.  Each rifle battalion consists of a command stand (which I don't think I need for Rapid Fire), eight 4-man rifle stands, a 2" mortar, a 3" mortar, two PIAT teams, a Vickers .303-caliber machine gun team, a 6-pounder ATG, and a Bren (Universal) Carrier.

Some closeups of the rifle stands.  When we look at the infantry stands, I painted a little more than half of them, and I bought the rest fully painted from my buddies at Gajo Minis (though I had to base them myself).

More PBI.

More Tommy riflemen.

And one more shot of the rifle stands.

The three-man battalion command stand.

PIAT teams, with 2" mortars behind them.

The 2" mortars.

The 3" mortar stand.


The Vickers MG team.


The 6-pdr ATG.  These figures were painted by Gajo Minis, the guns were painted by me, and they were based by me.

A Bren carrier.  I bought all these Bren Carriers online, already painted, though I had to touch them up and redo the bases.


A look at the a bunch of softskins and support vehicles.

We've got five jeeps (even thought the righthand two look to have Airborne-style helmets and the bottom one needs some touching up on bare metal showing).

Some armored cars, and I'm embarrassed to say I don't even know what type they are (online searches seem to indicate they are Humber LRC Scout Cars).

A trio of Humber armored cars.

A whole bevy of Universal Carriers.

Some painted up as Canadian.  All the stuff with Canadian paintjobs/decals were painted by a gentlemen on Ebay from Canada.

Some with Boyes Anti-Tank Rifles.

And actually I did paint one of them, this one, a flamethrower-equipped Wasp!

A couple 3-ton trucks.

Four of the armored CMP 15-cwt trucks.

A couple Kangaroos.  Not sure what to do with these, use to transport FOs maybe?

A couple de-frocked Priests.

A pair of Sextons, painted by my Canadian benefactor.

And four 25-pdr artillery pieces.

A pair of 17-pdr ATGs from Gajo Minis (based by me).

A pair of FOOs/FACs.

Then we get to the heavy metal!  I've got seven Churchills and two Crocodiles from my buddy AJ (he's a professional painter that has done, and continues to do, a lot of work for me now that I've moved to 15mm WWII).

The Crocodiles, with trailers.

And the 'normal' Churchills, which are a mix of 6-pdr and 75mm armed vehicles.

And then there's this.  Part of the problem with buying a bunch of stuff online is that you get some odd ducks, and/or stuff you don't need (because it was part of a lot that had some stuff you did need).  Don't misunderstand, it's a great model and I'm not knocking the paintjob or anything, I just mean it's much different in size, paintjob, and type from the other nine Churchills I have.

A group of seven Cromwells, also from AJ.

A close up.

And then, to prove my point about the odd ducks that don't match, we get to my Shermans...  I've got more Shermans and Fireflies than I'll ever put on the table at once, but it's still a bit of a sticky situation.

I didn't paint a single one of the Shermans/Fireflies.

In this group I've got eight 75mm-armed Shermans and six 17-pdr-armed Fireflies.  This gives me enough to field a regiment of three companies of two Shermans and one Firefly with two Shermans as a regimental HQ, but while all these have the same paintjob, they are actually different sizes because some of them are plastic and some are resin.

They are nicely done, and all painted the same colors.

One question I do have, and please forgive my ignorance: I've never seen Commonwealth tankers wearing red berets.  Is this correct?  Which Commonwealth armored unit(s) wore red berets?

Then I have this group of six Shermans and two Fireflies, but I need another two Shermans and one Firefly.  The issue is that I like this group the best, and I know they are all the new Battlefront plastics, but I can't figure out how to paint them to match (and I can't find the contact info of the guy I bought them from to ask); it's not really showing up here, but this batch of tanks is actually kind of a peculiar, brightish green color that I really like.

And they're wearing the 'normal' black berets I'm used to.

I've got a group of three Shermans and a Firefly that are nicels done, but they don't fit in with the other Shermans/Fireflies I have.

I even have a Sherman with 105mm gun, painted up by the Canadian fella.

I've got some tank destroyers as well.

These three beauties are Achilles (with 17-pdr gun) painted up by the Canadian fella.

Then he took a plastic Axis and Allies M-10 Wolverine and painted up rather nicely (top).  At bottom is another Achilles, but it's much, much smaller than the other vehicles.

Somewhere along the way I picked up these two baled out tank crew stands, which came painted.

Hopefully we don't see this too often...

And then I bought and painted up a bunch of Old Glory casualty figures.  I'm not sure why I painted up so many, other than that's how many were in the bag, I probably only really need three or four at most, but c'est la guerre...

Here's a look at two of the stands I'll use to show units that are surrendering.

Another look.  I have three of this type of stand.

And yes, it looks goofy, but sprayed the bases dark brown, dry-brushed gray, and put dead grass on them.  It looks goofy as hell, but my thinking was 1) I want them to stand out from the 'live' stands, and 2) I wanted to be able to use them for both summer and winter battlefields.  Sure, not as applicable to the Brits, per se, but definitely for the Soviets, Germans, and Americans.

Some closeups of the casualty stands.

They're nice sculpts, but much smaller than the Battlefront troops.


And one more.

Now how 'bout some close air support.  I know they're not beautiful, and I know I shouldn't be, but I'm actually pretty damn proud of these two aircraft.  I'd never tried masking before, but I simply threw on some Scotch tape and went to town with the spray paints, and I'll be damned if my invasion stripes didn't turn out pretty okay.

From the other side,  I'm not very good with decals, and I was really worried about those long strings of letters/numbers/national insignia that goes on the fuselage, but they're pretty thick and actually didn't give me any problems.

Coming and going.

And then I worked up some terrain, as well.  I bought the long MDF bridge off a British guy on Ebay, I bought the short MDF bridge from Nobleknight Games, and I bought the 3D Printed Chateau off a British guy on Ebay.

I think the chateau/farm turned out pretty well.  The buildings and walls were all 3D printed and came painted, I just had to find a base, terrain and flock it, and stick the buildings on.  I think it turned out okay, but the base is warping a bit...

Another look at the farm, perfect for Normandy.  At top right you can see I bought one of Battlefront's desert forts, too.

Another look at the farm.

From the rear.

And a bit higher.

I've actually had this for awhile, you've seen it in various batreps, I just hadn't painted it...

This just screams "A Bridge Too Far," right?  It can be two one-span bridges, or one two-span bridge (as shown).

Well, there it is, my Commonwealth (and Polish, I suppose?) force for NW Europe, ready push into Caen and then into Holland.  Lots of work went into it, but I couldn't be more happy with how everything has turned out, and I'd love to hear what you think.



  1. The infantry basing should work for all sorts of rules, and having the extra support weapons means they can go up or down command levels too.

    The Kangaroos and defrocked Priests were used as armoured infantry carriers, assigned on a mission specific basis. Being a cheapskate, I'd use one model to lift a company. If you want to lift the whole brigade, just take the turrets off some of your Shermans (that is all I do).

    Not sure about the tanker in the red beret! One of the cavalry regiments might have worn red berets (maybe 11th Hussars? but I think they were in armoured cars). I'd paint it black.

    If you want to beef up the Churchill numbers, how about separating the Crocodile trailers? I based my Croc trailers separately. The Churchill with the exposed tracks could be simply converted into an engineer vehicle with maybe a big fascine on it, or just take off the turret and put a bridge section on it.

    Lovely stuff anyway! You have been busy.

    1. Martin,

      Yes, I always have an eye towards the ability to play different echelon fights with the same miniatures, so those 24 rifle stands can also be 3 companies at 1 stand=1 squad, or a company at 2 stands=1 squad.

      Thanks for the info on the Kangaroos and de-frocked Priests, and that’s quite a handy tip about simply removing turrets from Shermans to make more Kangaroos!

      Regarding the red berets, I bought some Vickers light tanks for the Western Desert, and they had some red berets, too.

      Yeah, I don’t love the fact the crocodile trailers are permanently affixed and was already thinking to take a look and see how feasible it would be to remove them, and that’s a great suggestion regarding that single Churchill with the exposed tracks.

      Thanks a bunch!


  2. Jack,
    Man, where to start here??? First of all, DONT EVER SELL THESE.

    Outstanding collection and they look good!!! I've never heard of a British armored unit wearing red berets but what do I know. The 'stashe on that guy is impressive, though, even if it itches his stiff upper lip.

    The chateau is super nice and I wish I had nice terrain like that to fight over.

    Finally - the rules. I have really, enjoyed my games of RFR. It's more streamlined than regular RF2. Some people dont like making the stretch in their imagination that 8 figs is a company. Personally I like this approach and you get a good story from the battle (and frankly it's just more fun to roll dice and shoot things so why omit that stuff). If I remember correctly I had one or two questions as I was playing that I couldn't answer from the book, but I cant remember those questions now. Suffice to say in their effort to really streamline the package, they may have went a bit too far. If I remember, I'll send you an email.

    Really beautiful and impressive looking army there!

    1. Steve,

      Yeah, I think I’ve finally passed my “buy 15mm stuff and sell it” phase ;) And you’re right, that cat’s got quite the flavor saver going there. And you’re not kidding anyone, your troops and terrain look fantastic. Oh, and I forgot to show it, but I finally got me a water tower, too!

      Thanks for the thoughts on RFR. I never played any of the previous versions (and haven’t yet played these), so I have nothing to compare them to, but I have no problem with the abstraction/bath-tubbing, that’s largely what’s drawing me to them. I’m tired if writing about squads and platoons, I want to write about companies and battalions! ;)

      Thanks buddy, glad you like them. I’ll post the Germans this evening.


  3. That's quite an impressive haul. I use pins stuck into the backs of FoW-sized bases to show step losses. It's fine as long as you don't lose them in the carpet and pad about in socks! :-)

    Regards, Chris.

    1. Thanks Chris, and that's a cool idea, even though I tend to game barefoot ;)


  4. Wow! That's quite a collection. Very impressive Jack.

  5. It is a very nice, and large, collection you have built up there. Good luck with your gaming with Rapid Fire reloaded.

    1. Yes Sir, it should get me where I'm trying to go ;)
      Now I just have to see if RFR is how I'm going to get there.

      Thanks Peter!


  6. You have more 15mm Brits there than my entire 20mm British that I have been collecting since 1979? Awesome stuff! You do know you need to play a game or two with them now don't you? If Rapid Fire Reloaded doesn't work for you, there are plenty of other rules for you to give a go.

    1. Shaun,

      Is that right? Just goes to show that Texas could take Australia, all by itself ;) But you are absolutely correct, I do need to play a game, don't I? And I'm not committed to RFR, I'm really leaning towards some sort of modification of Fistful of Lead. My favorite part of RFR is really the scale it's at, moving battalions around; in any case, I've got to get off my butt and then we'll see.

      But not this weekend... This weekend I need to try and get the Japanese finished.