With the two mid-war books hitting Forces of War recently, the Breakthrough Assault crew (plus some guests) have put the Pershing, Comets and King Tigers down and gone back to where Flames of War all started – the burning heat of the North Africa desert and the wide spaces of the Russian Steppes. This series sees the authors discuss their favorite list from the period; its strengths; it weaknesses; and why you should try it.
British Light Armoured Squadron (Honey Stuarts)
In 2005 I decided that I had finally had enough of Games Workshop and needed to find a new game of choice. It so happened that a few others in my local gaming scene had the same thought and a WWII game called “Flames of War” was mentioned. According to g-mail, in December 2005 I ordered my first FoW purchase “Desert Rats”. The rest is, as they say, history.
The army has morphed in focus over the years. It started off very much as an El Alamein era Heavy Armoured Squadron based around 3RTR (for family reasons – FoW actually taught me that it actually had a fairly illustrious history rather than just being just another non-cavalry Chieftain battalion) so was mainly Grants (of C Sqdn) with a few Crusader III (from A Sqdn) for flanking, backed up with 25pdr.
It then took a detour with the Grants and 25pdr (now under normal Royal Artillery control) becoming support for a New Zealand Infantry list. I acquired a platoon of Stuarts just for NZ Div Cav support but fell in love with the little tanks straight away.
The Light Armoured Squadron is a relatively recent variant of the list, driven mainly by the fact that I purchased a bunch of the remastered Stuarts to join the first three for doing EW 3RTR in Operations Battleaxe and Crusader. Whilst we at the Brighton Warlords play Early War Desert more often than the other early war theatres (in so far as we play it at all, once in a blue moon), the focus on mid war desert because of DAK! DAK! GO! and my love of the Honey Stuart saw it become the core of a mid-war Light Armoured Squadron built around a Gazala era 3RTR (one squadron of Honeys, Two of Grants). It started as a bit of a ‘joke’ list to get as many Stuarts in as I owned, but I found that it actually handled itself fairly well so long as its limitations were understood. I doubt it’d break out of the mid-table at a tournament but I could probably stay off the wooden spoon shortlist!
Playstyle – It doesn’t pay to be indecisive with a Stuart company so it’s best categorised as “ball’s deep”. Pick the objective, categorise the main threats, plan the route of advance then go hell fore leather and try to ignore the rapidly dwindling supply of “burning wreck” markers…
The main assets of the Stuart are its mobility and the fact it is dripping in machine guns. On the attack, I try to utilise that by setting my Stuarts up on the flank I *don’t* intend to attack, with my slower assets like the Grants either central or mimicking a flank guard on the flank I do intend to hit. In the first turn, I can cover 32” in a double move from one flank to the other, hopefully ending behind some terrain to shield me front shots whilst the carriers make a bee line with their recce move and first turn move to cover any obvious ambush spots. When it works, it can catch the enemy flat footed but its still usually a hard fight to retain my gains and seize the objective. When it doesn’t work, it’s at least over quickly!
The list was really built just for maximising the number of Honeys so there is only a single 25pdr Gun Troop (RHA don’t really get the benefit from 8 guns anyway, lacking Mike Target and Combined Bombardment) for smoke and pinning, and no Infantry. Effectively, the AA gun equipped Stuarts are my Infantry! The Grants provide long range support against AT guns (either HE or Smoke) whilst the Carriers sniff around for targets. At 1650pts I have enough points to be fairly liberal with the AA MG and even some .50’s for the Carriers.
Strong against – Italian Armour is a pretty good match for the Honey squadron but most Italian players will leave the Tank squadron lists at home. It can be effective versus German Schutzen lists where the German player is struggling with the points to cover off Churchills or Shermans with paK-40, PzIV specials or Tigers, but the integrated anti-tank guns can really chew up a Honey. The 2.8 squeeze bore can really be a nasty surprise here!
Come on! Give it your be…well, I’m dead.
Weak against – Pretty much everything else. Italian and German infantry lists can pack a lot of high RoF, low AT anti tanks that will kill a Stuart platoon fairly quickly. As mentioned, the one saving grace is that the Germans will often go for the big guns to cover off the heavier allied tanks which can still kill me really well but have a much lower RoF and much higher cost! Most German armour lists will prove difficult. The Stuart lacks “Tally Ho” so side armour shots are difficult to exploit.
But not impossible! Sadly losing the successful Stuart to a 2cm pop gun on the 8Rad somewhat dampened the celebrations!
Why someone should play it – The Honey Stuart is really the star attraction here. It both forces a very ‘cavalry’ playstyle and it makes for a visually interesting army. The remastered model released with Hellfire and Back really rounded the little tank out nicely. It looks great painted up in Caunter ‘dazzle’ camo.
Given these were painted in 2012 you can trust that none of those AA MG are still on the bloody tanks…
Note – these are in standard three colour Caunter. There is some conjecture whether 3RTR were actually using a simpler version of the scheme with only Portland Sand (Deck Tan) and then either Silver Grey (Grey Green) or Slate Grey(German Fieldgrey) as the second colour. That would certainly cut down painting time…
That said, I’m ashamed to say those are the only three painted up like that so far with the rest still in ‘resin/pewter grey’. Given the shift in my interest back to MW, I may use a similar scheme to my Grants that has Olive Drab* upper surfaces, desert sand lower surfaces and sides, with irregular red/brown patches. . This appears to be called “Allysloper” camo on some forums on the basis of the name on the side of the photographed tank that appears to be the sole source of information for it.
I’m not sure what it blends in with, but we painted a whole lot of Grants like this!
One of the other Brighton Warlord regulars, Skip, found a photo of a 3RTR Stuart that certainly confirms the blotches was present (the green surfaces less so) and Bovington Tank Museum seem to have embraced the scheme too. Its main advantage beyond cohesion with the Grants is that it’s fairly quick to paint with an airbrush!
*no-one quite knows what green this is. There is some argument that the original olive drab was completely painted over and so a new green was applied on top of that. Olive Drab keeps it simple though.
Come back this time next week for some more Mid-War list chat from two tournament regulars, Bill Wilcox and James “Hammy” Hamilton.