Friday, July 31, 2015

WWII Italians - a fini!

In anticipation of our Bolt Action el-Alamein games this weekend I was asked last week if I had any spare Italians - which I did - but all unpainted.  To come up with some Italians I've had to pull all stops out and paint up at least a full platoon's worth, with armour too!

The Italians finished on the workbench
I'm pleased to say that in under two weeks I've now painted and based an entire platoon of Royal Italian Army with HQ section & heavy weapons support, armour in the shape of a Semovente Assault Gun and an M13/40 medium tank; even artillery - a Krupps 75 & crew. Its the most productive I've been in years and I've quite enjoyed it - WWII stuff in general being much less fiddly to paint than the usual Napoleonics or my most recent project, the Napoleonic Mamelukes & Ottomans.

A standard platoon section: SMG armed NCO, LMG & loader, seven rifles
No 2 section of three - figures are a mix of Perrys and Battle Honours 
Hvy Weapons Support: Breda MG - the clip fed version probably classed as a medium MG (Battle Honours) 
Full three-section platoon 'Avanti Savoia!'
81mm mortar - one of the most effective of the war (Battle Honours with a Perry NCO). 
Sniper team - a conversion (just added a scope) of a Battle Honrs figure with a spotter from the Warlord Elefantino AT crew.
Warlord's Elefantino 47/32 AT gun with a BH NCO (in sun helmet) to replace the one I nicked for the sniper team

A Perrys tenente with his Battle Hons NCO - Perrys are the nicer figure but both mix in well I thought
A generous platoon Headquarters section - all BH figures save for the SMG armed NCO with the binoculars (a rather nice Perrys) - look at the size of that radio - imagine having to hump that around in the desert!
Sniper team again - armed with a Carcarno, same rifle used by Lee Harvey Oswald to kill Kennedy - so small calibre but effective in the right hands.
Light artillery - an Austrian Krupps 75mm - either WW1 booty or made under license. Despite its vintage it was nonetheless an effective rapid-fire (like the famous French 75) infantry support weapon. 
The gun and figures are actually my Greeks but as both the gun and uniforms were the same, they fit in well with the North African Italian, despite the greatcoats (hey - it gets really cold in the desert at night!)
The Italian light gun and crew were a bonus as I discovered I had them spare amongst the Greek figures I got for my earlier Crete campaign project. You'll note the lack of any sophisticated gun-sight on the piece - this was not a manufacturer's fault as most came without modern gunsights or indeed (as the Aussies on Crete found) none at all!  Typical of how badly equipped the Italian army was, the Aussies were amazed at just how well the Italians gunners used their antiquated guns. From what I've read of Australian accounts of North Africa, the Italian gunners were also respected as much as elite units like Bersaglieri or Parachustisti as they generally fought with their guns to the last man and shell. Interestingly Rommel's criticism was not of the Italian troops but of their senior officers and in particular the quality of their armour.

Semovente AG - note the open top that enabled the crew to get a nice, even tan in the sunshine!
Tanks are from Perrys' 'Blitzkrieg' resin range - quite nice but with a few imperfections to be aware of. I slightly modified one of the Perrys' Italian tank commander figures to fit as the driver.
Some 70% were tankettes - most little better than Bren carriers and quite useless against Allied tanks but of the rest two did match it until the advent of more and better Allied tanks at Alamein. The Semovente AG was as effective as the German STuG as its low silhouette and 75 gun meant it could knock out all but the heaviest Allied tanks although the lack of crew protection (earlier versions being open topped) was a serious drawback.

M13/40 from Perrys' Blitzkrieg' range with one of their tank crew figures

Likewise the M13/40 was a decent enough tank and had a 47mm gun which was better than the British 2 pdr but its plate rivet construction meant it was a nasty tank to be in when hit as the rivets had a bad habit of flying around inside the tank. Even if it wasn't disabled quite often the crew were - hence the Perrys surrendering and running away Italian tank crew figures which unfortunately I didn't have a chance to paint up!


Well that's it for my WWII Italians - the ones I did manage to paint up anyway.  I still have another M13/40 and a platoon of Parachustisti which I intend to do up as the famous Folgore Div. at Alamein but that together with my new Perrys Fallschirmjaeger - which I'll paint as Ramke Bde - currently winging their way from the UK will have to wait.  I'll try and get some photos of the game(s) this weekend for a future post as well. Ciao amici!