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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

British Reconnaissance Vehicles

Great Britain went reasonably well prepared for reconnaissance into the war. A few years before the war began they had already been working on vehicles for this purpose. They would prove very valuable during the long distances that they had to cover in the North African campaigns. The biography of Hans von Luck, a German officer who served in a reconnaissance unit in North Africa tells of the many challenges involved in patrolling such large expanses of terrain, and even though it is written from the perspective of the German side, it still sheds a good amount of light into why these vehicles were so important for the British side as well. In terms of models we have a couple of examples that we can draw from to outfit our units. Let's take a look.

Airfix Daimler Scout Car
Also known as Car, Scout, Mark I, or more affectuously as 'Dingo', this 4x4 reconnaissance vehicle was designed in the late 30s, so that it was ready by the time the war began. Despite carrying the Daimler name, this vehicle has nothing to do with the German car manufacturer. The Daimler Motor Company was a British firm. The Daimler's armament was a Bren gun or a .55 Anti Tank Rifle, as shown above. It had room for a driver and a gunner. It's top speed was 55mph. One interesting fact about it is that its tires were made of nearly solid rubber, so in theory it did not need a spare tire - Airfix's model comes with a spare, barely visible on the picture. Other than that, for a plastic model, it is a fairly nice and detailed vehicle. The one in the picture is a new production model, so evidently someone still has the molds and is casting new vehicles.

Britains Deetail Daimler Scout Car - Part I
This is another version of the Dingo. In this case, it comes equipped with a Bren gun instead of the .55 Anti Tank Rifle. In terms of its shape, I think this one might be closer to the actual model than the one from Airfix. For instance, notice the angles on the fenders. The detail on this one though is a bit shallow. In addition to dark green I have also seen it in tan, ready for the desert campaigns. As you can see, it has a two man crew. The officer in my case seems to have lost his hand. As is the case with the other Deetail vehicles, it is not a very common find and it certainly makes a good collectible from that standpoint.  

Britains Deetail Daimler Scout Car - Part II
The view from the back. Gives you a better idea of the many angles and sloping armor plates, presumably to help it deflect direct shots. The Dingo's front armor was 30mm, which was fairly decent for when it was introduced. For comparison, the German Panzer III only had 15mm of armor on its initial models, so considering that the Dingo was 'just' a scout car, it was well equipped for its task, and it did not come at the expense of speed, which is very important for a recon vehicle.

Lone Star Armored Car
This looks like it could also be a Daimler vehicle with some liberties in terms of the actual details. It is also not in 1/32 scale as you would expect based on Lone Star's figure sets. It is more along the lines of 1/40 or 1/43. If you are not too strcitc about scale it could mix in with the rest of your collection. 

Lone Star Armored Car towing Gun
This vehicle comes with a hook in the back to be able to tow a gun or some other equipment in the back. The gun is also smaller than  regular 1/32 scale. Together they go quite well though.

Crescent Toys Saladin
The Saladin is actually a post WWII vehicle that began service in the mid 60s. I did not know it at the time that I bought it though. I do find it quite interesting with its 6 wheels. And in terms of the rest of the design it would not look out of place in a WWII setting so I have decided to be a bit flexible and include it in the post. As you can see, there is a small lever on top of the turret which controls a spring that allows it to fire rounds through its main 76mm gun. 

Britians Deetail British Land Rover
This is a nice little set. The Rover comes with a driver and a Bren gunner in the back. I would have rather had the vehicle in a tan color scheme to use it for some long range patrols in the desert, but hey, we can still send this guy to scout the French countryside. The funny thing is that when I was researching the history of the Land Rover for this post, I discovered that it was initially designed in 1947, so it's actually a post-war model. Nonetheless, given the scarcity of scout cars, I think I am going to take some historic liberties and include it in some WWII scenes.

Britians Deetail British Land Rover - other side
From this angle you can see the Bren gunner better. Notice how his knee is resting on a little ledge behind the cabin so that he can lean forward and rest the gun on the top of the vehicle while he fires away. It's those touches of realism that make the set special. The Rover was initially built to help out on the fields. It was a 4x4 hybrid of a truck and a tractor, similar to a jeep. It was adopted by the military almost immediately thanks to its rugged off-road and on-road qualities.

Lone Star Willys Jeep
This is a Willys Jeep made by Lone Star. It is a bit on the smaller side of the 1/32 scale, but still acceptable. I believe it came with a crew of British Paras, so I am assuming that it could have been made available to the British through Lend Lease.

Lone Star Bren Gun Carrier - Part I
The only Bren Gun Carrier that I am aware of was produced by Lone Star. It's a fairly simple vehicle. The tracks are just decorative and instead it has little wheels underneath that allow it to roll. In terms of size it feel a bit undersized, but then again, the real Bren Gun Carrier was fairly small also.

Lone Star Bren Gun Carrier - Part II
Here is the view from the other side. My understanding is that the vehicle came with a crew of three originally. In their place I placed a British Para, but notice that he does not have a Bren Gun which is a bit of a bummer.

Lone Star Bren Gun Carrier - Part III
The view from the back. Notice that the back only has a seat behind the gunner.

Lone Star Bren Gun Carrier - Part IV
This view makes it clearer.

Timpo Bren Gun Carrier - Part I
Apparently Timpo also produced some vehicles to go with their figures. This is an all plastic model. The scale is adequate, but the level of realism is not quite the same as what you see from other manufacturers, but I suppose that has a lot to do with the plain plastic finish. Perhaps with a bit of paint it would look more real. 

Timpo Bren Gun Carrier - Part II
As far as the shape, it looks a bit different than other ones I have seen. This angle provides a better perspective to evaluate it. I am not sure if they just modeled a different variation of a real Bren Gun Carrier or whether they took some liberties in order to simplify the manufacturing process. The two figures that came with are in line with the style and quality of other Timpo figures.

Dinky Bren Gun Carrier - Part I
This is a metal model made by Dinky. It comes with two figures, a driver and a gunner. I should probably call them half-figures, because you only get from the waist up. Overall, the detail is superior -just look at the tracks-, and the proportions are much better. My favorite Bren carrier so far. 

Dinky Bren Gun Carrier - Part II
Here is the view from the back. I find it interesting that the above carriers all look very similar from the front, but from the back they all have different configurations. Did different manufacturers represent a different variation of the vehicle or did they just take some liberties in their designs?

Click here to see some German  Reconnaissance Vehicles
Click here to see a post about British Armor
Click here to see British Infantry in action



  2. :-) Thanks for letting me know... sometimes the formatting of the text gets messed up when it's viewed by the public, even though it looks fine when I am typing up the article.