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Monday, July 30, 2012

Raiding Forces - Long Range Desert Group

What better raiding force to talk about next than the main opponent of the Autosahariana....the British Long Range Desert Group (LRDG).  The article on the Autosahariana can be found HERE

Who were the LRDG you ask?  First shame on you for not knowing this already.. I can understand not be familiar with the Autosahariana…but knowing about the LRDG!!   ;-)  But a quick look at Wikipedia ( for a summary of this elite unit:
The Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) was a reconnaissance and raiding unit of the British Army during the Second World War.

The LRDG was formed specifically to carry out deep penetration, covert reconnaissance patrols and intelligence missions from behind Italian lines, although they sometimes engaged in combat operations. Because the LRDG were experts in desert navigation they were sometimes assigned to guide other units, including the Special Air Service and secret agents across the desert. During the Desert Campaign between December 1940 and April 1943, the vehicles of the LRDG operated constantly behind the Axis lines, missing a total of only 15 days during the entire period. Possibly their most notable offensive action was during Operation Caravan, an attack on the town of Barce and its associated airfield, on the night of 13 September 1942. However, their most vital role was the 'Road Watch', during which they clandestinely monitored traffic on the main road from Tripoli to Benghazi, transmitting the intelligence to the British Army Headquarters.
Much like the Autosahariana, they were famous for their vehicles and equipment, most notably the Chevrolet 30cwt truck.  Again from Wikipedia:
LRDG Headquarters Section (note markings on "Louise") of Chevrolet 30 cwt. The first two vehicles are armed with Vickers guns, and have canvas sand mats rolled up and stored on the front wheel arches.

The LRDG vehicles were mainly two wheel drive, chosen because they were lighter and used less fuel than four wheel drive. They were stripped of all non-essentials, including doors, windscreens and roofs. They were fitted with a bigger radiator, a condenser system, built up leaf springs for the harsh terrain, wide, low pressure desert tyres, sand mats and channels, plus map containers and a sun compass devised by Bagnold. Wireless trucks had special compartments built into the bodywork to house wireless equipment. Initially the LRDG patrols were equipped with one CMP Ford 15 cwt F15 truck for the commander, while the rest of the patrol used up to 10 Chevrolet 30 cwt WB trucks. From March 1941 the Chevrolets were replaced by the CMP Ford 30 cwt F30, which, because they were four wheel drive and heavier than the Chevrolets, used twice as much fuel, which in turn reduced the range of a patrol. These were replaced from March 1942 with 200 Canadian Chevrolet 1533 X2 30 cwts which had been specially ordered for the LRDG. From July 1942 Willys Jeeps began to be issued for the patrol commander and patrol sergeant.

Since the LRDG operated deep behind enemy lines for extended periods they had to be prepared for any contingency…or force…they faced.  They loaded these vehicles out!  Again from Wikipedia:

The patrol vehicles were initially armed with 11 Lewis machine guns, four Boys anti-tank rifles and a Bofors 37 mm anti-tank gun distributed amongst their vehicles. By December 1940, the vehicle armaments had been improved and 'T' Patrol, for example, had five .303 Vickers Medium Mk. I machine guns, five Lewis guns, four Boys anti-tank guns and the Bofors 37 mm. Another Vickers gun used was the heavy Vickers .50 machine gun, which would be mounted at the rear of the vehicle. All of the unit's vehicles were armed with at least one gun; each vehicle was fitted with six to eight gun mountings, but normally only two or three of them would be in use.

Supplementing their army-supplied weapons, the LRDG was equipped with surplus Royal Air Force (RAF) weapons. The most widely used of these was the Vickers K machine gun, which was sometimes used mounted in pairs. From mid-1941 the LRDG acquired .303 Browning Mk II's from RAF stocks; these weapons were usually mounted in pairs, with a combined rate of fire of 2,400 rounds per minute. When new vehicles were issued in March 1942, several were converted to carry captured dual-purpose 20 mm Breda Model 35s, which replaced the Bofors 37 mm, and each half-patrol was equipped with one Breda "Gun truck". In September 1942 the .50 Browning AN/M2 heavy machine gun began to replace the Vickers medium and heavy machine guns, and the Boys anti-tank rifle.

In Flames of War an LRDG force can be modeled in several ways.  The basic unit is the “Half Patrol” which consists of 6 Chevy trucks.  These used to be offered by Battlefront in the BBX06 LRDG Half Patrol boxed set.

Battlefront has said that they will no longer be offering this as a boxed set.  Until they offer them as individual blisters you can still get the boxed while supplies last at different vendors.  The dismounts can be found in the BR756 LRDG Patrols, BR757 SAS Patrols, or BR758 LRDG/SAS Patrols blisters which are still available on the Battlefront site.  The LRDG/SAS Patrol has one set from each of the figures in the LRDG and SAS separate Blisters which have 2 sets for each figure.  This review will focus on the LRDG Boxed Set and the BR758 LRDG/SAS Patrol blister from Battlefront as that is what was used in the Raiding Aces campaign we ran at my Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS).
The Half Patrol has the following stats…lots options for your to mix and match:
Easy Army
The Battlefront BBX06 boxed set has 6 Chevy trucks and enough bits for the 37mm gun, the 20mm Breda, Twin Vickers, Lewis MGs….oh my!  It is enough to make any allowable combination in the force list.  The Dismount blisters have enough figures to make 10 stands of dismounts each….and you only need 6 stands for a Half Patrol.

In our Raiding Aces campaign, the LRDG were skillfully led by Adrien Broussard (The_Foundry on the WWPD Forums).  Just so happens he is also the proprietor of “The Foundry” our FLGS in Huntsville, Alabama.  His LRDG not only look pretty, but can fight as well (as my poor Autosahariana can attest).

Accuracy:  Comparing the Wikipedia picture of the Chevy truck to the Battlefront models shows that the vehicle bodies are spot on with Battlefront’s unique style.  

The vehicle length/width/height are very close to proportional but with the Battlefront signature “chunky” feel…more so than the Autosahariana were.  The dismounts are spot on as well with the “chunky” feel and not the anorexic zombie of a few of their later sculps.  The chunky feel allows vehicle’s details to be a touch bigger than true 1:1 proportion, but it allows for better paintability…and that is just the BF style.  Overall 9/10 for both the vehicles and the dismounts.

Quality:  For the vehicle boxed set Adrien had some issues.  The metal components had a “normal” amount of flash that one usually sees with Battlefront…nothing TOO severe, but just enough to be annoying.  The real issue was with the resin vehicles themselves.  Several of the vehicles had significant resin “chunks” in the wheel wells that had to be removed.  Also several of the bases on the vehicles also had broken corners.  Battlefront Customer Service would have been able to fix the issue, but Adrien is an accomplished painter and modeler, so this was not too much of an effort for him and he didn’t want to wait the 3-7 days for replacement items.  Had he been a novice, this could have been a significant problem on those vehicles and Customer Service would have been the only recourse.  The Dismounts blister had some flash, but nothing that a novice could not remove.  Overall 6/10 for the vehicles and 9/10 for the Dismounts.
Versatility:  I use this term to talk about how easy it is to convert/model the figures.  Three different vehicle body styles and all the components you needed for every option in the list were included.  Again BF hits a homerun in this regard.  For the Dismounts, the blisters are pretty basic.  Adrien used the BR758 LRDG/SAS Blister.  You have 20 total figures...10 with Arab head dress and 10 with knit caps, but more importantly 8 with Rifle and 11 with SMGs and 2 “officers” (I know this adds up to 21 but that’s what was in the blister Adrien got).  So, if you want to make 6 stands of just Arab head dress or knit cap you will have to have a second blister.  This is even more important in that the LRDG dismount as Rifle teams and the SAS dismount as SMG teams.  There just aren’t enough rifle or SMG teams to make 6 pure teams which drives you to having to have a second blister.   Also all the Arab head dress figures are in short pants.  If you want to show a head dress in long pants you have some serious crafting to do as the head dresses are molded into the neck and back of the figure.  You really need your modeling big boy pants for that.  If you get the BR756 LRDG Patrol blister for the Dismounts this avoids these problems.  You get mostly riflemen in the watch caps with a few SMGs and Arab headdresses thrown in for variety.  More than enough to make your dismounts for your Half Patrol.  Overall:  10/10 for the vehicles and 6/10 for the BR758 LRDG/SAS Blister, but a 9/10 for either the BR756 LRDG Patrol or BR757 SAS Patrol Blisters.
Paintability:  Very high for both sets.  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.  As you will see in a moment, these guys make a statement.  Adrien said he enjoyed painting both the vehicles and dismounts and looks forward to expanding his force and trying some of the other LRDG paint schemes …Pink Panthers on the way!   Overall:  10/10 for both the vehicles and the dismounts.
Adrien did his LRDG up with a stone grey camo scheme.  He started with a Battlefront British Desert Primer and then did a dark ink pinwash to make the detail pop.  Then, using a stippling technique he applied GW Shadow Grey for the camo stripes.  The headlights were “jeweled” using GW Iyaden Yellow as a basecoat, GW Golden yellow as a “fade” into edges, then a little swish of GW Skull White on the bottom and dot on the top in the opposite corner.  He then just picked out the details using a mix of GW paints and inks.   The dismounts were basecoated in GW Tallarn Flesh for the skin and GW Kommando Khaki for the uniform.  These were then washed with GW Devlan Mud and the details picked out in various GW colors.  The headdresses were hand painted with thinned paint to get the crosshatch pattern.

Overall: 8.75/10 for the LRDG Half Patrol Vehicle Boxed Set; 8.75/10 for the BR758 LRDG/SAS Patrol; and a 9.5 for the BR756 LRDG Patrol/BR757 SAS Patrol. This is another great boxed set. Everything you need for 6 vehicles with loads of options. Again, I have concerns for the future for this vehicle and platoon as BF moves it away from a boxed set and to blisters. The same questions I had with the AS42 Autosahariana remain….How will the weapon options be distributed in the blisters…will all the vehicle body styles be offered? Will body styles be random? Only time will tell whether or not the variability and versatility of this set will continue. The Dismount Blisters are a good buy but if you are just building one set of LRDG Dismounts, go with the BBR756 LRDG Patrol set vice BR758 LRDG/SAS Patrol set...that way you only have to buy one blister to make your patrol.
Summary & Lessons Learned: In our Raiding Aces campaign, the LRDG did quite well and were a challenge to play against. Adrien loved them and has plans to expand his force to 2 more half patrols! If you go with an LRDG force, Adrien wanted me to pass on a few tips:
- 1. Read “Sting of the Scoprion: Inside Story of the Long range Desert Group” by Mike Morgan (ISBN-13: 978-0750937047). The book is chocked full of action packed anecdotes that will put you in the right frame of mind.
- 2. LRDG need to be played incredibly aggressive:
     - Stay moving and use your MGs. You can get 4-5 ROF with the MGs alone and against infantry and other raiders that is all you need.  Add the Incendiary Ammo special rule that gives MGs a 5+ firepower versus objectives and you have a real killer for the Raid missions.

          - Don’t be afraid to go “offroad”. Be fearless of difficult terrain. Attack from the unseen route. LRDG get to reroll bog failures; take advantage of that. 

One other thing I noticed playing against them was to keep the LRDG in their trucks and use the SAS for dismounts.  They have SMGs and Tank Assault 4.  Use the LRDG trucks to support the SAS assaults.

That’s all for now. Hope this was helpful. I hope to bring at least two more entries on the Raiding forces…SAS and the OSS with pictures and tips from the gents who ran these units in our Raiding Aces campaign.
SonBae (AKA Jeff Flint) is a long time gamer and painter and runs a blog at where he posts photos of his work, reviews, BatReps and the “Painting Miniatures Declassified” modeling and painting tutorials.

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