Swanning about the Blue: Part 1 – Making the transition to V4

Previously I looked at the new Desert Rats book and now its time to take the ball by the horns and start bashing out an army list.  In this article, I will look at my old V3 ‘goto’ the “Honey Light Armoured Squadron” and see how its 1650pt version translates to version 4’s 100pt threshold.

My Desert Force started taking shape at the London based Salute show in 2006 when I purchased a Motor Company box and a dozen or so blisters of Grant tanks.

Ah, the old Lorried force organisation…

I had a well thumbed copy of “Taming the Panzers” to help provide some guidance on creating an El Alamein era 3RTR with the Grants forming C squadron, a few Crusaders to form an attachment from A squadron and vague plans of getting Shermans later for B Squadron.

An early attempt at 3RTR’s interesting camo scheme.  Bronze Green used instead of Olive Drab and no blotches but not a bad start!

This organisation served me well into V2, when the release of “Hellfire and Back” suddenly started a new itch – Honey Stuarts.  I had a trio of the models that I had been kicking around planning to do something with as I preferred it, visually, over the Crusader and it seemed a good time to do an earlier incarnation of 3RTR in the desert – Operation Battleaxe.  At that point, all of 3RTR was equipped with the Stuart – indeed 3RTR may have given it the “Honey” nickname – so I set about collecting enough Stuarts for a full squadron of 16 Stuarts.

Although only one Troop ever got Caunter… the rest got a mid-war Sand with (presumed to match the Grants) brown blotch camo seen on some 3RTR photos.

That now left me with an interesting option for Midwar – a Gazala era 3RTR with one Company of Honeys and two of Grants.  I fielded this as a Light Squadron of Honey with two troops of Grants in support.

The 1500pt force on parade

Infantry?  The Honeys are the Infantry!

In practice, it was a very mobile force.  The speed of the Stuarts let me set up heavy on one flank with the Grants and 25pdr central then, switch flanks on the 1st turn with a 32″ double move to suddenly dive up the other, hopefully more exposed, flank.  The Stuarts wouldn’t take a lot of punishment but the Grants could sit back and use semi-indirect smoke to bolster the Royal Horse Artillery’s smoke bombardments before both switched to HE to try and kill anti-tanks guns and other threats to the Honeys.

Dropping that force straight into my handy V4 excel sheet, minimizing the number of formations shows that I have an 72pt force right off the bat.  I have to gain a Honey in the HQ to achieve the legal minimum for the Honey HQ but other than dropping the HQ teams from the 25pdr its not terribly different.


So, we have 28pts to hand!  At this point we could go in two directions:

  1. Maximise the formation. Maximise the support.  One strong formation must be better than two weak ones, right?  But at this point the Honey formation has each lot full so its going to mostly be about formation support.
    1. I use part of my points to get the Honey HQ to its max strength – a four tank HQ unit gives the CO plenty of alternative “horses”!
    2. Next I take an extra 25pdr platoon and an OP Stuart – the Brits special rules let me range in an extra battery immediately on the success of the first ranging in, letting me smother a target quickly. Alternatively its more smoke (always handy) and an extra pre-ranged marker.
    3. With ten points left, a full strength infantry platoon gives a handy objective holder for those rare instances I need to hold ground – the 25pdr can help back them up in mutual direct support if required.
    4. Finally, with 2 points to spare, I take an extra Universal Carrier patrol. The Spearhead can be occasionally handy, even if most missions don’t allow it to be fully exploited.
    5. Interestingly, this translates to a 1915pt force in old money!

  2. Minimise Support, maximize formations (plural). Ultimately support won’t keep you in the game.  Multiple formations may be individually weak but act strongly together.
    1. I group the Honeys from the V3 force into one formation (again, maximising the HQ troop),
      The Grants go into the other, gaining a 3 tank Grant HQ. That burns 92pts.
    2. At this point I could add a Motor Platoon. But I really want to get one more Honey Troop in for maximum DAKKA!
    3. That leaves 3pts.I add an OP to help the artillery out and use the last point to give the Universal Carriers a Boys AT rifle each (represented by a .50 on one of them seeming as I have that modelled but no Boys AT rifles).

Since writing that, I wonder if it would be better to have one of the Stuart platoons in the Grant formation to help it have some extra resilience.  Ultimately I think its fine as is- the Stuarts will be more casualty intense and in need of extra units to keep the formation staying.

Both options require some new units to be added but still keep the core tank force intact.  One thing I did note was that I hit the limits of my Stuart collection so, until I can get an OP Stuart, I need to drop one troop of Honeys.  I instead purchased a Bofors platoon of 3 guns for some anti-air in-case my opponents try bring Stuka into the fight.


The last of the old style Grants will need repainting though!  They stand out  a bit now!

There’s some other options that I want to explore in the future.  A Motor Company formation to support the Honeys may be a good defensive core and make use of some much neglected infantry figures in the army case; whilst replacing the Honeys with Crusaders for an “El-Alamein onwards” force that gives me an excuse to buy the tasty looking new plastic kits.

8 6pdr, 4 25dr and 12 Honeys doesn’t seem too shabby!

Right, that’s the force decided, now for a game!  Join me in the next part as I take on Nathan’s DAK in “Rearguard”





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