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According to the PSR review, the newly released Strelets Union of South Africa troops are most appropriate for the early East African campaign against Italy. Of the WW2 plastic Italians available, which would make the best opponents for these men? Any info is much appreciated!
Thank you Pa, very helpful! I was really hoping that these troops could be used for North Africa. Maybe the upcoming set of New Zealand troops will be. I guess I could just use them for North Africa anyway and claim the supply train keeps missing these guys!
PSR have updated their review - it seems South Africans went to battle with those helmets at times. See the December 15 update:
Yes, I saw that too, so it does make them more useful. I'm also looking forward to the upcoming New Zealand troops, it's been a while since we had new WW2 Commonwealth forces in the hobby.
The South African "Polo Pattern" sun helmet was a distinctive shape and not at all alike the Wolsely style sun helmet.
Some of the South African top brass such as Sir Pierre van Reineveld and Jan Smuts can be seen wearing Wolsely pattern sun helmets. Top brass officers in any army tended to do their own thing as regards headgear (IE - Montgomer and his beret). I came across a picture of some Union of South African artillerymen in a dug in forward observation post wearing "wolseley Pattern" sun helmets but could not distinguish whether they wear South African officers or what(previous IE- comment applies as well).
With a "Polo Pattern" sun helmet I don't think that it would be appropiate to use the "Polo Pattern sun helmets for Italian,German,French or Dutch sun helmets as they are totally different. Once seen one can not ever mistake a "Polo Pattern" sun helmet for any other sun helmets.The South African soldiers even in the desert when out of the front line tended to remove their steel helmets and wear their "Polo Pattern" sun helmets along with the brown boots and orange/red volunteer strip on their epaulettes tended to proudly mark them out as Union of South Africa soldiers. Union of South Africa airmen also did the same.The closest one can get to a genuinly purpose moulded Union of South African "Polo Pattern" sun helmet in shape is the French Adrian pattern steel hemet with the ridge on the top ttrimmed off. Now that Strelets R have provided us with this superb box of figures one need not look any further in plastic.
I came across a comment on the forum that on one of the Srelets R pictures it appeared that one of the South African soldiers has got his "Polo pattern" helmet on back to front.This could very well be correct as the front brim of any sun helmet worn the proper way is smaller than the larger and longer back peak that shades the neck. What soldiers would do is wear the sun helmet back to front so that the long back peak would shade the eyes much better. There is a photograph of a British infantry firing line during the South African War(1899-1902)(IE- 2nd Boer war) where this is being done.
I see that the figures come with a Lewis light machine gun and this would be correct as of the early part of the war in Abyssinia as there were very few Bren Guns in South Africa at the beginning of the war. As regards the sub machine gun I am as puzzled as anyone else. It looks like a Sten SMG but the Sten only came out in 1941 and it is a moot point whether any would have reached the South African forces in Abyssinia by the close of the campaign.
I was interested to find out on the Forum about the South African adaption of a Lee Enfield.303 rifle to a semi automatic self loading rile(not SMG - a bit too long for a SMG). I will endeavour to do some more research and try a determine if it is a yet unknown SMG used by the South Africans during the Abyssinian campaign.
World War I and World War II were the Union of South Africa's proudest moments as both wars wre fought with volunteers who volunteered to serve outside the Union's national borders/frontiers.
I wlii also endaevour to see what other figures I can find that can be used for Kings African Rifles, West African troops and for the Italian askaris and soldiers in the Abyssinian campaign and advise later as to which figures can be used.
I hope that the rumblings from down South in the now Republic of South Africa(A pity it is that we can't go back to the Union of South Africa as all the seperate provinces within the Republic do actualy form a Union withis South Africa - also South Africa after 1994 elections was readmitted into the Commomwealth of Nations). Perhaps I am a hopeless nostalgic.
If the ramblings from down South are inapropriate or not welcome please let me know and I shall decline to comment further.
Neil, I was actually hoping you'd chime in, given the extensive information you kindly provided last time South African troops were discussed here.
So do I get this right that the particular South African sun helmet is modelled correctly by Strelets?
Looking forward to any news about the submachine guns. Regards, Pa
I have just received two(2) sets of Srelets World War II Union of South African infantry. Very happy and blessed am I. They are everything I expected and more. The plastic soldier review photographs do not do full credit to the figures in hand being examined by one's Mk.I human eyeball. Don't get me wrong the review photographs are exceptionally good but any camera compared to the human eyeball pales into second spot.
Yes, to answer the question as regards the Union of South Africa infantry figures, Strelets have got the South African "Polo Pattern" sun helmet absolutely correct . There is no further work, redesign or anything needed to produce a better South African "Polo Pattern" sun helmet. As modelled by Strelets in their World War II Union of South Africa box they are perfect. This set "is not broke so don't fix it".
As regards the sub machine gun I have identified it as definitely a Mk. V Sten gun. The Lee Enfield MK.IV rifle foresight gives it away as well as the butt(wooden) and wooden furniture under the Sten gun. The side mounted magazine alsobrands it as a Sten gun. The Mark V Sten gun was a better produced, much better finished Sten gun than all the others. It was usually issued to the paratroopers and was produced in 1944. I am not sure when they were issued but would hazard a guess that they would have been issued to the paratroopers before the D-day invasion on the 5/6th June 1944.
As regards the Sten gun armed figures in the Strelets Union of South Africa infantry set, due to the Lee Enfield MK. IV foresight I would have no hesitation myself in removing the side magazine from the Sten gun and using them as ordinary riflemen. I can hear the utter shock from the "purists" as regards this sacrilege, burn him at the stake. Too bad I am a wargamer first and I wargame for fun and I am not one of those rivet counters or people who walk around with micrometres.
However as regards the South Africans and Sten Guns in Ayssinian campaign I have noticed that the campaign in Italian East Africa(Abyssinia) lasted from the 10th June 1940 - 27th November 1941(1 year, 5 months, 2 weeks and 3 days). Ist pattern of the MK I Sten gun was made in December 1940/January 1941. Could the South Africans have received MK I Sten guns before the end of the Abyssinian campaign ??? After all the Sten gun was so simple a design that it verged on sheer brilliance and it would have not have been impossible to produce it in the gold mining machine shops if the blue-prints were sent out by air courier to the Union of South Africa. The Union of South Africa was given a manual on the Radar sets used in the United Kingdom and the South Africans very quickly produced their own sets in short order.
Definitely a moot point. Perhaps somebody out there can give us a definite answer.
Anyway perhaps we get too pedantic in our wargaming. Perhaps we can allow the South Africans Sten SMG's in Abyssinia or what if the South Africans were equipped with Lanchester SMG's and they didn't all go to the Royal Navy or Airforce. Wargaming is powered by our imaginations not batteries.
Please excuse me as I will have to sign off now as the "purist" gentleman from the local wargaming club have arrived in black hoods and cans of petrol for suggesting such sacrilege as using imagination.