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Friday, July 20, 2012

Raiding Forces - Autosahariana AS42 Platoon

Editor's note: We'd like to welcome Jeff "Sonbae" to the list of excellent chaps contributing to WWPD! -S

First of all I just, wanted to thank the WWPD crew on giving me a chance to do reviews for them.  Glad to be part of the team. 

Over on the WWPD forums in the Operation Sea Lion section, there is a poll about what campaign we would like to see next.  As of this writing, North Africa/Raiding Aces is leading by a good margin with 34% of the vote.  This got me to looking back at my Autosahariana Force I built a year ago for our local Raiding Aces campaign in hopes that North Africa will be the next campaign location.  On my blog, I just sort of showed off my paint job, but didn’t get into a proper review of the box set.    

Well… in hopes that we move from the damp environs of England to the heat of the desert for the next campaign, I intend to rectify that previous error and provide a proper review of the Autosahariana…namely the AS42 platoon. 

Who were the Autosahariana you ask?  According to 

“The Saharan companies were first formed in 1923 with the purpose of patrolling the space among the Italian forts in the Libyan Sahara desert. In 1938 the five existent companies were reorganized as motorized units with their own aerial support. The companies received new off-road vehicles and a light aircraft section (manned by Regia Aeronautica personnel). In March 1941 five new Compagnie Sahariane were formed.

In concept, the Auto-Saharan Company was similar to the British
Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) which was created (as a partial copy) in 1940, except that the Company also had the support of its own air arm to assist in long range reconnaissance and ground attack.

They were engaged in actions in near Kufra southeastern Italian Libya. …After El Alamein they lost their Libyan troops, but they were enlarged to 5000 men (all Italians) in Tunisia as "Raggruppamento Sahariano" were they fought hard in the area of Mareth and Sfax Operation Pugilist), till the final Italian surrender in Africa in May 1943. “
They are most recognizable for 2 of their vehicles...the AS37 and the much improved AS42.  The details on the AS42, again from Wikipedia:. 

“Camionetta Desertica SPA-Viberti AS.42, this vehicle, specifically designed to operate in the desert, was a four-wheel-drive car that entered into service with Saharan units in November 1942. It was built on the same chassis as the AB.40/41 armoured car but it was not armoured. It was powered with a 100 hp gasoline engine and reached a maximum speed of 85 km/h. This easily recognizable vehicle had racks on the sides to carry 24 jerrycans (mostly fuel) and carried a spare tire on the front hood. It could accommodate a crew of six and weapons such as the 20mm Breda cannon, the Cannone da 47/32 M35, the 20mm Solothurn S-18/100 anti-tank rifle, and up to three Breda mod. 37 machineguns. The AS.42 was 1.49 meters high, 5.20 meters long and 1.80 meters wide."

To model my Autosahariana Force I went with the AS42.  You can mix and match MGs, .5 in MG, 20mm Solothurn AT rifle, 20mm Breda AA and a 47mm AT Gun and get some very versatile platoons. In Flames of War the AS42 has the following stats:

Battlefront made it easy for us with the IBX11 Box set, but with their recent move trimming the number of box sets, the AS42 Platoon will no longer be offered as a boxed set, but should be able to be bought separately.  If you are lucky you might be able to still get a boxed set while supplies last.

A platoon of AS42s

The boxed set comes with everything you need for 5 each AS42s. So you will need 2 each boxed sets to make the required 2 platoons of 4 vehicles as well as the Command element of CiC and “Bodyguard” AS42. All the components were metal, except for the resin vehicles.  This review is based on a set that I personally purchased at my FLGS.  Each set has:
- 5 each AS42 (3 different body styles)
- 3 Crew for each vehicle (driver, gunner, extra crewmember)
- 1 set each of .5 in MG, 20mm Solothurn AT rifle, 20mm Breda AA and a 47mm AT Gun
- 10 Breda MGs to allow you to run 2 each Bredas for each AS42   

Accuracy:  Looking at pictures of the AS42s, the vehicle bodies are spot on with Battlefront’s unique style.   


The vehicle length/width/height are close to proportional with the crew being a “little” bigger.  Making the vehicle a little bigger (or crew a little smaller…but that raises compatibility with their dismounts) would help solve an issue in Versatility.  Sure some of the vehicle’s details might be a little bigger but that allows for better paintability…and that is the BF style.  Overall:  8/10

Quality:  The metal components were pretty clean.  There was some minor flash and mold lines, but nothing too major. One of the AS42s had a little chip in the “wall” that went around the spare tire.  I could have called Battlefront Customer Service for a replacement, but decided to model it as battle damage instead.  The resin itself was very nice and needed no clean up, except for the traditional baptism in soapy water.  Overall 8/10.

Versatility:  I use this term to talk about how easy it is to convert/model the figures.  All the components you needed for every option in the list were included.  Couldn’t ask for more here in this regard.  The vehicles have a little depression where magnets (not included) could be used to allow you to swap the pedestal mounted weapons easily.  You need to be careful where the crewmembers are located when you do this though as getting everything and both crew and driver to fit inside the compartment can be difficult.  The bed of the AS42 is also very open, so you could use blister plastic and use that as a base to be placed in and out of the vehicle to show a base or weaponized AS42.  The 20mm AA gun was the only weapon system that really cramped the vehicle and makes it difficult to swap this one around. 

A Little Cramped in the 20mm AA

But you are allowed 4 of these in your army, so it only makes since to take one with every platoon, so swapping out isn’t a necessity here, but is still nice.  One other MINOR issue is that one of the body styles has a flag draped over the rear deck. It is very cool, but as a standard vehicle in every box, I will always have a vehicle with a flag over the rear in every platoon.  To me, this makes platoons a little too “Matchy-Matchy.”  If this body style was offered as a separate model I could plug it in where I wanted….like I said a very minor complaint.  Overall:  8/10…if that 20mm AA could be swapped easier it would have been a 9.8/10.

Paintability:  Again very high.  Lots of detail everywhere on the vehicles to make the models pop…I mean LOTS of detail.  The figures were a little more plain, but still enough detail in the face and folds in the clothing, etc… to make them stand out.  They were a joy to paint.  Overall:  10/10.

When I painted my AS42 platoon, I did them up as having been in the desert for a while...dirty and paint worn off the equipment in places.

Platoon Leader:

.5 in MG Team:

47mm Team:

20mm AA Team:

Overall: 8.5/10.  As a boxed set, this is one of my favorites.  I do have concerns for the future for this vehicle and platoon as BF moves it away from a boxed set and to blisters. How will the weapon options be distributed…will all the vehicle body styles be offered? Will body styles be random? Potential is there to make the move to blisters very beneficial…or very limiting as well.  Time will tell. I will revisit these questions when the re-releases actually come out.
Summary & Lessons Learned:  In our Raiding Aces campaign, the Autosahariana did quite well and were a lot of fun to play.  I hope to get to play them again.  When I built my AS42 Platoons, I glued all the weapon mounts in place.  If I had known of the glory of magnets back then, I would have magnetized everything to allow for some more platoon organization swaps…namely going with only one MG or with other weapons.  Early on in the Raiding Ace campaign I needed to go “Bare Bones” and had to proxy AS42s with only MGs with the weaponized platforms… glad my opponent was understanding.  Live and learn. 

In Raiding Aces, MGs dominate!  Keep moving and use your MGs to do your dirty work.  The Autosahariana also can reroll bog checks, so dont be afraid to get dirty and tackle rough terrain.

Here’s to hoping the next campaign heads to the Desert and I hope to see you in the sand….or at least on the gaming table!
SonBae (AKA Jeff Flint) is a long time gamer and painter and runs the "Journey Back To The Table" blog where he posts photos of his work, reviews, BatReps and the “Painting Miniatures Declassified” modeling and painting tutorials.

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