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A mythical beast - a female wargamer! I got back into wargaming in the summer of 2011 after a very, very long break. My current interests are Ancients, ACW, 30YW and SciFi gaming.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Musing on Australian Expansion

I've been thinking a bit about expanding the Australians and looking at what figures I'd need and what is available.


Papuans

At the moment I've got six riflemen, a 2 man Bren team and three with Owen guns. As the Owen guns weren't issued until 1943, that leaves me with a short section for 1942 actions.

The obvious solution is to buy the Warlord section pack (9 rifles and 1 Owen gun). I expect Eureka will be adding to the range, so I might be able to get some more from them at some point. I should also add an officer and senior NCO (who would be Aussies) - I'll probably buy some Eureka figures for these.


Kokoda Trail Campaign

The main units involved in the fighting withdrawal were the 39th Battalion (Militia) and the 21st Brigade of AIF 7th Division. They were later joined and/or relieved by 25th Brigade. 53rd Militia Battalion were also sent forward as reinforcements.

Militia

In 1942 the Militia would mostly have been in shorts and socks, so the obvious choice is to use 8th Army figures. Strangely, there don't seem to be many 28mm metal figures available - just some from Artizan and Perry (Vickers and 3" mortar teams). Warlord's Militia section looks much more suitable for the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles, which would be an interesting unit to have anyway.

That probably means going with the Perry plastics (with their metal Aussie slouch hat heads) for the Militia, plus a few Artizan and the Perry support weapons. Unless anyone can point me in the direction of some other 28mm metal 8th Army I haven't spotted.

Weapons-wise they were rather poorly equipped at the start of the campaign - mostly rifles, a few Tommy guns and a few Brens. I'm not sure if they had anything heavier than that (the 53rd certainly don't seem to have had anything more than Brens, which were only issued with some minimal training after they had moved up the trail). I guess I can do without the heavier stuff for them.

21st Brigade

The 21st arrived at Port Moresby in khaki drill and headed straight up the trail to reinforce the 39th. They would have been in long trousers (although some switched to shorts during the campaign) and would likely have been in a mix of helmets and slouch hats during the fighting.

I've got more options for these - Artizan's 8th Army rifle, Bren and command packs have figures in long trousers. The Perry metal range has rifle, command and Bren teams in battle dress trousers. There are also the Eureka figures (which come as helmet or slough hat). I'll probably go with a mix and could also use any left over plastics for some men in shorts.

25th Brigade

The 25th arrived at Port Moresby slightly later and had been issued with (hastily dyed) jungle green uniforms. That's a relief - I can use the figures I'm currently painting for them. Minus the Owen guns as they wouldn't be issued until the next year. That does leave them a little short on SMGs though - just two figures with Tommy guns.(one Warlord, one Artizan). I suppose the solution to that is to get a pack of Chindits with Tommy guns from Wargames Foundry. Hmmm, they're at Broadside in a few weeks time...


Independent Companies

These chaps had some rather interesting campaigns, which would be fun to fight out. In Timor, one of the companies (and I should note that they were large companies - nearly 300 officers and men) occupied the attention of an entire Japanese division for a year (having been thought missing in action for three months until a signaler rigged together a working radio from various other sets).

I've just finished painting the Warlord section, so that's a start. I could sub in some of the jungle division troops to make up numbers (and maybe some of the Warlord Militia section?), but it would be nice to bulk the force out with some other figures. Some of Artizan's North Africa/Mediterranean commandos might fit, but I'd need to do head swaps, although the lack of any swap heads with berets could be an issue. This may need some more thought.


Vehicles and Artillery

Vehicles

Obviously not for the Kokoda Trail campaign, but in later campaigns there were various vehicles involved - the ubiquitous Jeep, Universal Carriers, Stuart light tanks, Matilda II infantry tanks, Grant tanks and the LVT4 Buffalo.

It might be nice to add a couple of tanks - a Stuart and a Matilda - for bunker clearing scenarios.

Artillery

This would normally be off table for Chain of Command, but it could form an objective for a Japanese raid or counter attack. The Aussies used a short 25lb field gun in New Guinea, which I think Warlord do. Maybe I'll get one at some point.


Phew, that sounds like quite a lot of stuff to expand the force. I guess this will be a rather long term project. Don't forget - I've still got all the terrain to produce, so extra figures (except perhaps the Foundry Chindits with Tommy guns) will just have to wait.

10 comments:

  1. Eureka at https://www.fighting15sshop.co.uk/wwii-australians-1121-c.asp
    also company b https://company-b-models-and-miniatures.myshopify.com/collections/miniatures-and-crew/products/aussie-atg-pack-howitzer-and-crew-3
    also the assault group do brits in far east but gurkhas and chindits only - may be a use though.

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  2. Hi Tamsin,
    Wartime Miniatures does a complete range of Australian WWII figures including the much needed militia types. At least they did. However, they do a "late war" range now which features Aussie commandoes with SMGs who might be painted up as earlier war types. Your early war Aussies will all be wearing helmets and soft hats in a random mix. However, very quickly the Aussies began to spurn the helmet for jungle use because the sound it made when hitting a bush or tree could give away a position. While the Aussies did initially wear shorts many men gave up on this because of the attraction a bare leg had for leeches and dangerous biting insects.
    Excellent work as usual.
    Jerry

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  3. This sounds like the best shopping list ever! Looking forward to the tanks myself.

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  4. A fun little expansion project!

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  5. There is an Australian film about the Kokoda trail. I cannot think what it’s was called. It was about the militia units.

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    Replies
    1. Just did a Google search - it's called "Kokoda"

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  6. @ Martin - I wasn't aware of the Company B range, but looking at the Bardia '41 sets they appear to be in battle dress so wouldn't be suitable for '42 Australian Militia. A similar problem with the Eureka as they are in trousers and US gaiters so not right for the Militia. I had looked at the TAG Burma range - nice figures, but only suitable for the late '42 AIF and '43 onwards Militia. I might get a few of the weapons/accessories though :)

    @ Lee - and far too many of them. How to prioritise? ;)

    @ Jerry - I did look at the Wartime Miniatures range but it has switched to just late war and Independent Companies. Whilst they do have some nice figures with Tommy guns, the shipping and customs/admin fees make them a bit too expensive for the number I'd need to order. It might be worth it if I also bought some commandos to expand the Independent Company force though :)

    @ Michael - the tanks will be a long way off I'm afraid! :)

    @ Swelter - indeed, indeed ;)

    @ Simon - I'll have to look up that film; thanks for the heads up :)

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    Replies
    1. @ Jerry - I just checked the Wartime range and I was wrong about their being a pack with Tommy guns. I definitely saw one somewhere, but it wasn't them or Eureka (at least not in 28mm). Maybe it will just be the commandos I order from them in that case?
      Also checked - the early war ones might have been 20mm and those are still available.

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  7. Hi Tamsin,
    Back in the day I actually bought some militia and early war Aussies. They were definitely 28 mm in scale and had very few SMGs of any sort. It took about 6-9 months for the Aussie military to assimilate lessons learned in Malaya and Indonesia and create the doctrine which led to the creation of the three divisions especially created for jungle fighting.
    Jerry

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