I know this is an "old" unit and has been out for awhile, but with the Market Garden compliation coming out soon and me just finishing up the jeeps for my Flames of War British Para Recce Platoon now seems as good a time as any to talk about these guys. I finished the jeeps proper during a break in Steve’s commission work (work on Luke’s stuff kept on rolling…no rest in the Mines of Melia)…but I had to recently stop production on both of Steve and Luke’s stuff for about 2 days so I could finish the crews for a local tourney. Don’t tell anybody alright ;-)
I fell in love with Major Freddie Gough and his 1st Airborne Recce ever since I first saw A Bridge Too Far and then read about the Battle of Arnhem and their rush to the bridge. About a year ago I was very fortunate to find a copy of Remember Arnhem, by John Fairley, which details the unit’s exploits....they did a lot more than just their "failed" attempt to rush the bridge in a coup de' main. More on that later. On to the models…
These are Battlefront's Box Set BBX17 (sadly, this is one of the box sets that were discontinued). They do still have the BR413 Blister which has the same everything you will need to make the vehicles for the Recce platoon or for a transport jeep in the Airborne Divisions.
Bottom line.....I LOVE them…and that’s not just the Fan Boy in me. This was a great set and is a great blister. As a disclaimer, the Boxed Set and Blisters were bought and paid for by myself and no compensation from Battlefront was received for this review.
On to my patent pending figure review methodology….
Accuracy: Comparing a picture of a period SAS jeep with the Battlefront model shows that the vehicles and equipment are spot on with Battlefront’s unique “chunky” style (which I am partial too).
The vehicle length/width/height appear to be very close to proportional for this model as well as well as the proportionality between the figures and the model are a good match. You do have certain elements being a little larger to allow for paintability. The bits and bobs (a little English slang there) you get are spot on. You get a single Vickers MG and not the Twin Vickers you get in the SAS Jeeps box/blister. The movie A Bridge Too Far says the jeeps had Twin Vickers, but MG Urquhart’s request for Twin Vickers was denied. They felt that they would burn up too much ammo and that future supply drops could not keep up with the ammo demand. The ammo crates that go on the Jeep’s bonnet (more Brit slang) are spot on size wise as well and look good. Will cover this configuration later when I paint up the transports for my 6 pounders and 75mm guns. The front bumper pieces are spot on to actual photos. Overall 9/10 for both the Jeeps and the passengers.
Quality: The casting of the resin jeeps was perfect. No problems…nice clean sculps…no flash. The bases did have a few rough edges that required filing to make smooth. There was no “extra” resin in the wheel wells either that I have seen in other Jeeps. The metal pieces did have some flash, but nothing a novice could not remove. The Tow Bars had the worst of the flash and a few I did have to trash, but you only need one for a Platoon of 7 vehicles (the Platoon Commanders Jeep). Just save the extra good ones as spares. I did have to do some filing to make sure the figures in the front seats had smooth butts so that they would sit correctly in their seats. But again, nothing a novice couldn’t do and is not something I don’t do to every seated figure anyways. Overall: 9/10 for the Jeeps and 8/10 for the metal parts and figures.
Versatility: Here is where I measure how easy it is to convert/model the figures. The boxed set includes 7 resin jeeps in 1 body styles and the blister has 2 jeeps of the single body style. You get enough Paras to put 4 of them in each jeep and for each jeep you get 1 ea Single Vickers MG, 1 ea Tow Bar (the V shaped piece of metal), and an ammo box to mount on the hood (for Cargo / Transport Jeeps). You also get a choice between 3 different style front bumpers…with spare tire with shovel, plain spare tire or with a box. Right there I give high marks for versatility. I have everything I need to model any of the jeeps the Airborne Divisions had. I can use the MG to make a Recce Jeep…drop the MG and use the Cargo boxes on the hood for a cargo jeep (one towing AT guns of 75mm howitzers per chance?)…leave everything off to make it a Command Jeep or an FO Jeep. I can add the Tow Bar to mark the Platoon Commanders. The figures are the standard BF figures and the poses are such that headswaps can be made pretty easy (i.e. no figure has its hands on their helmet, etc…). You get 1 pose for the Driver, 2 poses for the front seat passenger, 3 poses for the backseaters. You CAN with a LITTLE wiggling and slight bending of legs and heads, swap the left and right rear passengers. Add to this a few headswaps and each jeep can look unique. Overall: 10/10 for both the Jeeps and passengers.
Paintability: Very high again. Again we have lots of detail on the vehicles to make them stand out. Everything has good crisp detail…the spare tires…the wheel lug nuts…the seams around the hood and other details on the jeep…everything is there with enough depth to easily take a shade and highlight. The driver and passenger are standard Battlefront and have the typical nice detail as well. Overall: 10/10 for both Jeeps and passengers.
I found several pictures similar to the one above and I added regimental and divisional symbols on the bumpers using decals I made. Still trying to figure out how to create the weight classification marker (Should be a Black “2” in a yellow circle over the passenger headlight) and a white “9” inside a white diamond on a black rectangle that sits in the spare tire. Just can't find the right thing to mount those on and then glue them to the model. Have to keep looking for a solution on that.
Overall: 9.5/10 for the Jeeps and 9.25 for the Passengers. This is another great boxed set and blister. The unit was very fun to put together and the versatility allowed me to do mixing and matching so that no 2 jeeps were the same. Love them to death.
Rules & List Discussion: These guys are stuck between version 2 and version 3 of the rules and there is a little historical “accuracy” issue. The new Market Garden Compilation due out around Christmas 2012 hopefully will solve these…and in the right way. What am I talking about you say? Well…let me share my thoughts. (I know BF has already done what they are going to do, but this is a wish list ...and who knows....we might get a special PDF out of it. NudgeNudge...winkwink. saynomore saynomore)
Battlefront’s A Bridge Too Far book does not give these guys the “Recce” special ability. They only get a hybrid that allows them just the Reconnaissance Deployment ability. While useful, this creates 2 problems for me. The first is that this unit did PLENTY of Recce work at Arnhem. I know they are most famous for the failed rush to and assault on the bridge which didn’t make use of their FoW Recce abilities, but they conducted numerous scouting missions to the West of the drop & landing zones and to the North of the bridge. John Fairley’s Remember Arnhem describes many of these accounts and they employed tactics and techniques typical of FoW Recce special ability in each instance. Add to this the Airborne Recce Platoon in Italy (Battlefront’s North Africa book) has the Recce special ability as a part of the base unit and you have to pay +5 points/jeep for the Vickers MG. In North Africa the dismounts are MG teams and in ABTF they are Rifle/MG (which I think is perfectly fine). So, the reason to not give them the Recce special ability at Arnhem appears to be simply for aesthetics …and gives in to a popular misconception….that the unit only made the mad dash to the bridge. The second issue is that in Version 3 the Jeeps would be treated as an unarmored transport and the vehicle would make a save and then the passengers would also have to make a save. You could end up with a situation where the vehicle passed, but the passenger failed and then the Jeep would have to be removed because it didn’t have any passengers.
So what do I propose for the A Bridge Too Far redux Airborne Recce Platoon?
Actually I have a couple of potential options. The unit has to have some form of the Recce ability (which includes the “Recce Vehicle Save” where unarmored vehicles get a 3+ save, “Cautious Movement”, “Reveal Ambushes”, “Reconnaissance Deployment”, “Disengage”, and “Eyes and Ears”) and more than just the Reconnaissance Deployment ability it currently has.
- Add the full Recce ability to all the Recce platoons as part of the base cost to the unit and adjust the cost appropriately.
- or -
- Add the option to add the full Recce ability for an additional ## points per platoon. The base unit would get the “Reconnaissance Deployment” ability it currently has as well as the “Recce Vehicle Save”. This way you get a happy medium. You can simulate the mad dash or the Recce missions. You can even put a cap on the number of platoons that can get the Recce ability. This is my recommended solution.
- or -
- Create a hybrid. The unit gets certain Recce skills depending when whether it is mounted or not. Since many of the scouting accounts in Remember Arnhem occurred when the troops were dismounted, they would only get the “Recce Vehicle Save”, “Reveal Ambushes”, “Reconnaissance Deployment”, and “Disengage” when mounted. While dismounted, they would get “Cautious Movement” and “Eyes and Ears” in addition to the other abilities. Remember Arnhem described accounts where both mounted and dismounted troop exhibited these abilities mentioned above routinely. This gives you a more historically realistic feel, but is a little cumbersome form a game play situation.
Those are what I came up with…would love to hear what you think about this…am I off base? Is there another way to “get it right?”…get it closer maybe? Jump on over to the WWPD and lets discuss it!
<Stepping off of my soapbox>
Phew…ok, I feel better. I really look forward to see how they are addressed in the compilation.
Again this boxset simply rocks. I loved it enough that I have enough so that I can run a 3 platoon Airborne Recce Company and have the transport Jeeps for all my guns. Just have to get the rest of the Jeeps painted now….
SonBae (AKA Jeff Flint) is a long time gamer and painter and runs a blog at Journey Back To The Table where he posts photos of his work, reviews, BatReps and the “Painting Miniatures Declassified” modeling and painting tutorials.