09 March 2017
Flames of War V4 - Review: Desert Rats
The second release for intel briefings for the new MW rules covers the British forces in Africa looking closely at some of the units which took part in both Gazala and both battles of El Alamein. The volume also provides you with some of the background information on the formation of the Desert Rats and the battles themselves.
(For the record, yes I'm well aware there are no Sherman's in the book and no, I don't know why there aren't given the German's have access to Tigers.)
Featured in Desert Rats you're going to have the opportunity to field a few different formations drawn from the ranks of the 8th Army eventually under the commander of Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery (I still hear Gene Hackman's Polish accent from A Bridge Too Far every time I type that).
Let's take a quick look at them.
The Royal Scots Greys - Grant Armoured Squadron
The heavy Grant tank (called the General Lee by the US Forces) was eagerly received by the British troops. The hull-mounted 75mm gun was more than a match for the German armour as well as protection in the form of its own heavy armour.
To field your Grant Squadron, you must take your Squadron HQ comprising either 2 or 3 Grants. From there, you must have a least 1 Grant Troop with 3 Grants and you also must make a second compulsory choice of either another Grant Troop or either a Crusader or Honey Troop. There is also a 3rd optional slot for yet another Grant Troop meaning that if you fill out the formation, you're strolling into battle with 12 Grants....something not to be sniffed at by any German opponent!
The County of London Yeomanry - Crusader Armoured Squadron
The British Cruiser tanks were a mainstay of the British armoured forces. In the desert, three different versions of the Crusader tank were available for use. The Crusader II came armed with a 2 Pdr gun which, while great for knocking out armoured targets struggled with taking out infantry. The Crusader CS mounted a 3" gun which could dig out any infantry allowing the other tanks to run over them. The Crusader III mounted an even more powerful 6 Pdr gun but again carried very limited HE ammunition.
To field your Crusader Armoured Squadron, you again must take a Crusader HQ. This can consist of either 2 Crusader II and 2 Crusader CS tanks or you have the option of taking 1 Crusader II for a couple less points.
Again, you have a couple of compulsory choices you need to make. You must field at least 1 Crusader Troop and this can be either a Crusader II Troop with 3 Crusader II tanks or you can field a mixed Troop with both Crusader II and Crusader III tanks in combination. From there, you must take either another Crusader Troop or a Grant Troop to round out your compulsory choices. From there, you have 3 further slots which can be filled by another Crusader Troop each.
The 8th Hussars - Honey Armoured Squadron
As well as receiving the American Grant, the British also got the lighter Stuart which the re-monickered the Honey. This light tank was excellent a getting into the German flanks and wreaking havoc with its 37mm main gun.
Your HQ Troop will consist of either 3 or 4 Honeys depending on how many points you want to spend. From there, as always, your compulsory choices are made as follows.
You must take at least 1 Honey Troop of 3 Honeys. Your second choice can again be another Honey Troop or you can give them some heavy support in the form of some Grants. There are then 2 further slots for 2 more Honey Troops should you want them. With this formation and no support options, you could have access to 15 Honey tanks to really mess with the German lines!
The Rifle Brigade - Motor Platoon
And finally, we have the good old infantry! Motor Company's can really pack in quite a lot of kit if you decide to add one of the to your formation choices.
HQ here consists of 2 SMLE Rifle teams. No mess, no fuss.
From there, you've got to get the core. So, you must have at least 1 Motor Platoon which can be fielded at full strength with 4 Bren Gun teams, a Boys Anti-tank Rifle team and a 2" Mortar team or you can field it with only 3 Bren teams.
You must also field at least one Universal Carrier Patrol with 3 Carriers in it. You do have the option of upgrading them to carry a Boys AT Rifle as well. These guys are perfect for adding fire to your motor platoon or even protecting their flanks.
Your last compulsory choice is then either another Motor Platoon or you can take a 6 Pdr Anti Tank platoon with between 2 and 4 6 Pdr guns. While these aren't so good for hitting charging infantry if any enemy tanks stray too close, you can really mess up their advance.
Now, moving to your optional slots you can choose to field up to 2 more Carrier Patrols or another 6 Pdr Platoon. You also have slots for both a Vickers MMG Platoon or a 3" Mortar Section.
The Vickers comes with either 2 or 4 MMG teams and while they can lay down a wall of fire to cover your infantry, they can also bombard enemy positions to allow the Motor Platoons the chance to get stuck in. An excellent dual-purpose choice.
The 3" Mortar section allows you a little more firepower to hit enemy positions with as well as the ability to lay down a concealing smoke screen for your advance.
Lets take a look at your support options now.
25 Pdr Field Troop: The good old QF 25 Pdr is still here to offer the big bangs for the British advance. You can choose to have either 2 or 4 guns in your battery. With a reasonable AT value they also can serve a dual-purpose role if required.
17 Prd Anti-tank Troop: Dubbed the 'Pheasant', the massive 17 Pdr AT gun was mounted on the 25 Pdr chassis to get them into action. With its massive AT, it can take out even the heaviest German tank!
Humber Armoured Car Troop: Scouting ahead of the advance, the quick and nimble Humber was well armed and able to deal with enemy scouts as well as the 15mm Besa MG can cut through lightly armoured enemies.
Bofors Light AA Troop: To protect the force from the harassment of the Stuka, the British employed the 40mm Bofors AA Gun to distract the Luftwaffe from their task. You'll be able to get either 3 or 6 guns here.
Hurricane Tank-Busting Flight: Mounting a pair of Vickers S Guns in the wings, the 40mm shell they fired would rip through the side armour of the German panzers.
Right guys, well there you have it! There is a lot of variety to be had here and by taking a couple of formations you really get a complete combined arms force to take the Germans on with. As I already have a German force, I'm really considering getting a British force under way to use as I venture back into MW!
Thanks for reading team!