Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’
with Aaron Mathie

Long before I started working for Battlefront I had been searching for a reason to build some Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps (RNZAC) vehicles in 1:100 scale. The release of Free Nations has provided me with the impetus to do more than toy with the idea and use the ANZAC Brigade contained therein as my jump off point for this project.

Apart from the Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles (QAMR - The NZ Army’s cavalry unit) Scorpion Light Tanks, the section of Free Nations’ that deals with the ANZACs concentrates on units of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). However the fluff text makes mention that not only elements of QAMR part of the ANZAC Brigade. The force also contains a Battalion of infantry provided by the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (RNZIR). Armed with this fluff text, I decided to model my infantry as a company from 2/1 RNZIR and the vehicles they move around in being provided by RNZAC. The Australian and New Zealand Armies of the period are close enough in training and doctrine, that simply using the Australian infantry as the rules template works out pretty well.

New Zealand never purchased weapon systems like the MILAN ATGM or Redeye MANPADs. So I decided that if I wanted to include these elements in my force, they should be included as ADF troops cross attached under New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) command. Therefore I determined that these portions of the formation will be painted as ADF troops (with their distinctive ‘Auscam’ uniform) mounted in ADF vehicles in order to fit that theme, which would have the added advantage of giving my ANZACs a unique hodge-podge look and feel.

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

To back up my infantry company, I decided that the punch of armoured forces would be an advantage. Sticking with the theme, I decided to build a truly ANZAC force by using a two formation structure of an infantry company provided by New Zealand and an Armoured Squadron consisting of Leopard AS1 Main Battle Tanks from the ADF’s 1st Armoured Regiment. This is what my current planned force will look like:

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’
M113 Mechanised Company  
M113 Mechanised Company HQ 1 Points

SLR rifle team (x 1)

 

M113 (x 1)

 

M113 Mechanised Platoon 7 Points
M60 team (x 4)   
Carl Gustav anti-tank team (x 3)  
M113 (x 4)  
M113 Mechanised Platoon 7 Points
M60 team (x 4)   
Carl Gustav anti-tank team (x 3)  
M113 (x 4)  
M125 Mortar Platoon 5 Points
M125 (x 6)   
M113 Cavalry Troop 4 Points
M113 LRV (x 4)   
Leopard AS1 Armoured Squadron  
Leopard AS1 Armoured Squadron HQ 7 Points

Leopard AS1 (x 2)

 

Leopard AS1 Armoured Troop 12 Points
Leopard AS1 (x 4)  
Leopard AS1 Armoured Troop 12 Points
Leopard AS1 (x 4)  
M113 Cavalry Troop 4 Points
M113 LRV (x 3)  
M113 MRV (x 1)  
M113 Cavalry Troop 4 Points
M113 LRV (x 3)  
M113 MRV (x 1)  
Brigade Support  
Anti-tank Land Rover Section 4 Points

Anti-tank Land Rover (x 4)

 

M113 Redeye SAM Section 2 Points
M113 Redeye (x 2)   
Scorpion Armoured Troop 4 Points
Scorpion (x 4)   

As you can see, the force packs a lot of units, but the astute will recognise that it is vulnerable to air threats and needs to deal with heavy armour thoughtfully. While a rearrangement of points could net me some support from the Brits, I decided the flavour of an all ANZAC force was far more appealing to me for this project.

Never one to take the path of least resistance I decided that my ANZACs would need to look a little more unique that they already do in the book, so I did a bit of research on Australian and New Zealand Army operated M113 type vehicles.

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Finding that both armies adopted a larger ventilation system than the standard item for their vehicles and placed it in an oblong box atop the rear cargo hatch. This is the next most distinctive feature after the Cadillac Gauge T50 turret. As this was the case, I felt my M113s needed this.

Left: New Zealand M113 with ventilator box, stowage and shaved track guards highlighted

As part of this research, I also found out that the crews would mount an old 3.7in AA gun ammunition box on the top of the hull next to the left of the turret in order to store the pioneer tools that had been displaced from the back of the hull top (due to stops that have been added for the different cargo hatch), and a .50cal ammunition box to hold the brew kit for the crew. The track guards were also shaved down, and a spare road wheel was generally carried on the trim vane at the front of the vehicle.

The above seemed like a good list of modifications to make to the already excellent M113 models fit the theme with some extra detail. So I created some basic shapes to represent the Ventilator Housing, spare wheel and hull top stowage in a 3D design programme and had them printed off at Shapeways (not a cheap way to make these mods). I then shaved down spare track guards I had left over from my Chaparrals, since I chose to model them sans guards. Thus modified I was stuck with the pioneer tools and original small ventilator on the back of the hull top on my models. I considered shaving these details off with a sharp hobby knife, but in the end I decided that covering them up with semi-rolled up camouflage netting would be an easier option. So I constructed these ‘nets’ with my usual modelling putty, model railway scatter and white glue technique. 

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

"How Did he do it?" You might already be asking this after looking at the camo netting on these close ups of Aaron's M113s and Scorpions. Lucky for us he's decided to share a step by step guide of how he created these camo nets so that you can make your own. 

Click here to see how Aaron made his camo netting...

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

With the APCs looking suitably antipodean I decided to add ALICE Packs strapped to the side with thin ‘metal’ (cotton thread) cables, as a picture I came across during my research was configured that way and looked quite neat. Now with all those elements pulled together I decided to paint up a test model. I got paints together and painted up a suitably enhanced M113/T50 in the modified Red Desert MERDC that was used by RNZAC vehicles during the era. I was pretty happy with the end result, so I have a look and feel for the M113 family of vehicles in the list above.

Next I focussed my attention the QAMR Scorpion light tanks. Two things really set the kiwi Scorps apart from their British cousins. These are an extra stowage box on the side of the turret, and the Thermal Sight housing on the right hand side of the Mantlet next to the main gun not being present and the area where it would be plated over. So I took some measurements and built a near copy of the turret side stowage box in the same 3D software that I used to create the M113 modifications, and had them printed out. Either by luck or good management I got the stowage boxes pretty much perfect for fit and shape …. winning!

Right: The NZ Scorpion with the stowage box and the plated over thermal sight mount highlighted

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Next up I removed the thermal sight housing next to the main armament with a sharp hobby saw. Then I made some plates to position over the front with some thin plastic card trimmed to a close approximation of the shape that I noticed in research photos. The final stage before painting them was to add some partially rolled up camouflage nets around the turrets as seen in some photos of NZ Scorpions in the field.

Left: A painted Scorpion with camo nets added and thermal sight removed

Once I complete New Zealand themed part of the force, I’ll move on to the Australian troops in their ‘jelly bean’ camouflage fatigues, and their associated M113 type vehicles. Despite the ADF still having olive drab painted vehicles in the 1980s, I have opted to use the three colour camouflage scheme that was adopted in the 1990s. We also used this colour scheme to differentiate the ‘Aussies’ from other forces in the Free Nations book photography, as it looks iconic and uniquely Australian.

Once I’ve completed all the infantry and M113 type vehicles I will move on to the Leopard AS1 tanks. These will also be finished in three colour camouflage, and have camouflage nets. I am in the process of gathering together reference pictures to see if there are any other obvious external modifications that are peculiar to the AS1 that I can model … time will tell.

The final piece to this puzzle will be the Anti-Tank Landrovers. Initially I considered adding some extra machine guns as well as netting and painting these up in the same camouflage scheme as the other NZ portions of this list in order replicate an NZSAS patrol. But I have reconsidered this idea and will almost certainly add some rolled up nets and finish them as Australian vehicles. Time will tell if I flip over on this idea again, however I figure I have a lot of work ahead of me before I have to make the final decision yet.

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

If you have had the mental fortitude to stick with me this far you will have seen that this project is both close to my heart, and rather extensive. I have given myself twelve months to complete it, so that it is ready to take to a local gaming event in mid-2019. Hopefully the editors will allow me to post occasional updates on the progress of this army as I move it toward completion (Editors note: We will be allowing this). Thank you for bearing with me.
~Aaron

If you like what Aaron has created with the stowage boxes, ventilator housing, and cut down track guards, we've asked him to create a set to send to our production team.

Update: The M113 stowage and side skirts are now available for direct order on the website

TASO01 Australian M113 Accessories...

 

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Click on the photos for a larger image.  

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

Battlegroup ‘ONWARD’

 
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