Motoring Along

Today Martin talks about bringing his Desert Rats Motor Company into v4..

I have a personal link to the Desert Rats and have always been a big fan of them in Flames of War.  For many years I played with formations drawn from these well equipped but somewhat reluctant troops.

7AD Cromwell rushing through the Normandy countryside in July 1944

Amongst the Breakthrough Assault team, there has been much speculation about the Motor Company and if it is really worth bothering with when the Rifle company is so flexible, as was evident on the recent Shoot & Scoot podcast. During v3 I played several tournaments using the old “Overlord” book Desert Rats Motor Company, so I thought it only appropriate to see how they translate into the new D-Day British book.
I dug out my old list which was 1750 points and set about recreating it from the new D-Day British book.

Now in its previous incarnation, I had loads of spare unarmed armoured transports but thanks to the new British Command Cards I could dispense with many of these which I would simply never use in a game and just take them for a few of my units. This would better allow me to construct a spearhead or counter attack (read reserves) element to my list and not inflate the costs to my more static units for things I wouldn’t use.

I also had to choose between a classic HMG platoon and Motor Machinegun Carrier patrol (the Motor company unlike the Rifle Company can’t have both). With their revised rules in v4 and the focus on mobility, I went with the carrier mounted guns. They have the same capability as the Heavy Weapons platoon but have the added bonus of armour making them hard to pin. The other thing that was interesting was that with the new 100 point system I was able to get in a couple of nice extras like the toasty Wasp Carriers and a Daimler Troop and thanks to the repointing of Self-Propelled Guns I could take my Sextons rather than basic 25pdr field gun adding to the theme of mobility.

My List

Desert Rats Motor HQ     2
Desert Rats Motor Platoon with M5 Command Card6
Desert Rats Motor Platoon with M5 Command Card 6
Desert Rats 3″ Motor Platoon5
Desert Rats Carrier Platoon2
Desert Rats Wasp Carrier Patrol3
Desert Rats Motor Anti-tank Platoon8
Desert Rats Motor Machine-gun Carrier Platoon3
Desert Rats 3″ Mortar Platoon3
Daimler Armoured Car Troop2
Desert Rats Armoured Squadron18
Anti-Tank Platoon (SP) Royal Artillery18
Sexton Battery14
Carrier Observer1
Typhoon Fighter Bomber Flight8
Cautious Not Stupid1
My complete Desert Rats Motor Company

So how does a list like this work?

Mobility is the key and I’ll most often choose the manoeuvre stance for this list. With lots of relatively cheap platoons (even the powerful ones are only comparatively low cost) I can tailor my force for almost any opponent sacrificing the less useful units to a long wait in reserves, when called upon, provides plenty of time for a brew or two! The other advantage is Manoeuvre can often result in both players having reserves which suits me with a very mobile army.

My Motor Platoons are the core of my force. I have one with my HQ on foot, usually used to protect my objectives, and two more mobile ones to rush forward and seize objectives making use of roads whenever possible and being protected from small arms by their M5 transports as they advance.

The foot group protect my mortars and are in turn protected by my 6pdr unit; with AT11 these will keep most medium armour at arms length and even a Tiger has to be careful when assaulting near these.

So for a mere 18 points, I have four units I can set up as a mutually supporting defensive line. Thanks to the faster movement of infantry in v4 these can also be used to advance and grab objectives, the 6pdr has enough range to cover you, whilst the mortars can put down some handy smoke to screen a slower advance.

My mobile group are supported by the Wasp carriers, the Motor Machinegun carriers, and are led forward by my Carrier and Daimler units, again all for a lowly 22 points.

The carriers suppress defensive fire and pin units whilst the Motor Platoons do the assaulting. The Daimlers will deal with covering halftrack mounted weapons and can even deal with a small/medium tank platoon, thanks to having FP4+, negating Bazooka skirt’s armour bonuses.

When defending, these units will be used aggressively to break up my opponent’s attacks, doing their best to slow their advance and generally funnelling their assault into my favoured field of fire. I’m not too bothered about platoon losses here as with such a large number of Formation platoons the odds on suffering a force break are really small and on the defensive its all about surviving for long enough to wear down your opponent’s force.

Finally, I have the Command Card “Cautious Not Stupid” for when I really need to make sure a platoon doesn’t get pinned down stalling my attack or weakening my defences.

For when you really have to rally

So my two infantry groups can be used to attack and defend across a wide area which also helps me by preventing my opponent from massing their strike force to overwhelm my small units.

Where have all the points gone?

First up there is a unit of M10 17pdrs with AT14 these can deal with any tank unit in the game. I’ll often use these to ambush with, to maximise their first-strike potential. Alternatively, they get used as a mobile AT screen when I am attacking to pick off any top armour 2 units or just to stop the enemies tanks redeploying to reinforce the objective I am attacking.

The Sexton unit allows me to conduct counter-battery fire and, whilst not quite as powerful as an M7 Priest in bombardments, the extra ROF in direct fire is more than helpful on a mobile gun platform when facing an Armoured Panzergrenadier force in particular.

OP with a ladder, handy for climbing trees to get a better view

Being armoured prevents them from getting pinned and allows them to move about. It also means they can sit under a repeat bombardment from even a 6+ tube mortar unit with only a slim chance of anything bad happening to them;  your opponent will have to target them with their heavy artillery to force you to move these and lift any ranged in bombardment on their gun batteries. This platoon is ably supported by a carrier mounted artillery observer so I can keep them well hidden.

The two-point saving makes these a flavourful option costing the same as the field troop

Next comes a Desert Rats Cromwell unit.  These are my fire brigade; with their high speed they can quickly cross the board to either reinforce an attack or reposition to plug a gap in my defensive line. With an integral Firefly, these are a seriously useful unit in the mobile warfare of the breakout formations, with the firefly sitting still to pick off the enemy tanks whilst the Cromwells dash to the flank to use their 75mm guns against side armour. These will form the core of my hitting power kept in reserve when it’s required.

Cromwells a bit expensive but oh so quick.

Lastly, I have a Typhoon Fighter Bomber Flight.  A bit of an unreliable unit, but when they appear they can be devastating against heavy tanks, armoured cars, half-track units and self-propelled guns of all types with their potent mix of guns and rockets. Generally, I don’t use these guys on infantry, gun teams and medium tanks unless there is nothing else, I have plenty of other weapons platforms to deal with those.

When you need to strike deep into the enemy posiution call up the RAF ground support


Overall you have a fast and highly flexible formation well suited to the attack and more than capable in defence. The addition of cheap armoured transports reduces the inherent risks of foot infantry platoons with a poor rally rating preventing your attacks from getting pinned down. Like all British lists, you have oodles of support and units to deal with everything that Jerry has in Normandy.

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas about building your own Desert Rats Motor Company and giving them a try.

3 thoughts on “Motoring Along

  1. I’ve actually got everything in this list already (stashed away from the days of v3) so I’m going to give this list a try the next time our local group gets together. One minor typo that confused me at first, you have “Desert Rats 3″ Motor Platoon” in your list. I assume this should just be your third Desert Rats Motor Platoon, and the 3″ is a typo?

    1. Hi Michael

      thanks for the read, yes you are correct that is platoon 3, seems our proof reading has failed us!

  2. Motor Coy is one of my favourites, used them in V3 with 2 sherman platoons instead of the Achilles’. The the higher AT and kind point cost makes me reconsider

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