Wednesday, 20 May 2020

More for the Far East

More has been completed on my project for the 20mm early war British/Commonwealth forces for the Far East (you can see some of the earlier work in this post). As most of these are based on figure ranges for the Western Desert and 8th Army it's required a bit of searching around to fill in some of the gaps, but I'm pleased to say I've managed to track down most of what I need.

The core platoon is based on AB Figures Western Desert Force range but I've needed to find some additional figures for some of the leaders. AB don't have a leader with a pistol. I also needed figures with rifles for the section corporals and a platoon sergeant. While I could have added some of the existing poses from the AB range I preferred to have some variety and something that helps differentiate the leaders from the men (the leaders are on different sized bases but some variety in poses always helps). I opted to use the Wargames Foundry 20mm 8th Army figures. They come as a set of ten and while there is not a great variety of poses they have a leader with a pistol and the riflemen would make for suitable leaders. This gives me a senior leader with pistol; senior leader with rifle and four junior leaders with rifles.

The search for figures has a bad habit of taking you down rabbit holes you never intended exploring. This was the case when I discovered that Early War Miniatures had a range of tropical British in topees. It all started out so innocently. I was trying to find some figures in tropical dress with helmets manning Lewis guns and while these are easy enough to find for the BEF in France, it's not the case when it comes to finding figures kitted out in tropical uniforms.

I now have a painted and based platoon in topees with Lewis gun teams. I still don't have a Lewis gun team in helmets, that might require some conversion work. So, having set out to add an early war platoon to my later war Far East platoon I now have an early early-war platoon as well. As usual I've justified it in numerous ways, none of which is particularly convincing.

I haven't needed to add too many support units. I already have a Lanchester armoured car that I made when we played the Chain of Command Malaya 1942 Campaign. So not too many gaps to fill. One is a 2 pounder and crew, this one from Zvezda with an AB crew.

And work is progressing on a Universal Carrier, again with a crew from AB. As you can see, enough figures for two fully loaded carriers, but only one carrier at the moment. This one is from PSC and was originally bought to be a lend lease carrier for my Soviets, but will now find its way to the other side of the world.

I've also added some armour not only for the British, but also the Japanese. These are all at various stages of painting. For Burma there are a couple of Stuarts, both from the PSC set.

While I'm doing the Far East I was also thinking further ahead for later in the war and added a Valentine MkIII and a Sherman M4A4 both left over from sets from PSC.

A few Valentines were used in the Arakan campaign in Burma in 1943 (very unsuccessfully I might add); the New Zealanders used some in the Solomons in 1944, and I've only recently discovered that six were used in Operation Ironclad in Madagascar in 1942 as part of B Special Service Squadron (an armoured special service unit for want of a better description. They also had six Tetrarchs). Madagascar was not a theatre I had in mind, but the British infantry were in tropical uniforms, so one more place to send the platoon if I want to, although I would need to create some French opponents (oh dear, better not go there....).

I picked up this very useful booklet a few years ago. For only 32 pages of A4 it packs a lot of information, photographs and colour illustrations and it's provided plenty of inspiration for Shermans in Burma.

The Japanese are not forgotten and there are two Type 89 (from IBG), one Chi Ha Type 97 (the venerable Airfix kit) and three Te-Ke Type 97 light tanks (from Milicast).

Those latter diminutive tanks were used a lot in China. Most Chinese towns and cities were walled and so the Japanese always had to find a way to blow open the city gates or breach the walls. As the Chinese had few anti tank weapons the Japanese developed a tactic where a swarm of light tanks would pepper the walls surrounding the city gates with MG fire. That would often be enough to suppress any defenders, thereby allowing Japanese engineers to place charges against the gates and blow them open. I guess when you don't have a decent anti tank gun on hand even a small tankette like the Te-Ke becomes a major threat. The picture below tells the story well.

I've started with the main colours on the larger tanks but as you can see there is still much to do.

The Type 89s are also tanks that I intend to use for the Japanese in China. As I mentioned in an earlier post I have a Chinese force that I based for Crossfire many years ago and I've been meaning to re-base them individually to make up some platoons for Chain of Command. It's a miserable and laborious task, but one that I have finally got around to.

When I painted these I was still using the Army Painter dip method. While I'm not using that technique any longer it may not have been such a bad idea back then, mainly because these figures are all plastic, the softer variety, and the thick polyurethane varnish that makes up the AP dip provides a very good coating to prevent paint peeling off. Apart from the odd bit of detailing here and there I intend leaving the figures as they are. The dip/wash effect has worked just fine for this type of uniform so I'm content to do no more work on them. At least they are all based individually now. In the mix are the recent batch of the Perry-sculpted Chinese figures from Wargames Foundry. They seem to blend in quite well and have helped make up the numbers.

It's been a fairly productive period and I must confess that I was not one of those people in anguish about how they could possibly fill their time while stuck at home in a lock down.

With the social distancing restrictions lifting I'm looking forward to returning to some face-to-face gaming. Prior to the lock down we had started the 29, Let's Go! campaign for Chain of Command, but only managed to progress as far as the the first scenario 'Probe at La Cambe' before everything came to a grinding halt. I hope to be able to post the AAR for the next scenario in the not too distant future.


  1. Splendid and most productive Mark, look forward to seeing them in future AARs. Getting new stuff is justification in itself🙂 I am a serial rebaser, easiest way to get stuff off I found is to immerse the base in water over night, works a treat, if somewhat messy pending the basing material used.

  2. Impressive. Looking forward to seeing these in some AARs.

  3. A lot of work but its paid off handsomely!

  4. Great looking figures and excellent progress on these projects. Very productive! I really like the dip method and still use it, mainly bc I’m lazy like that. 😀
    Glad that the distancing is lifting and maybe soon back to gaming.