New Early War Australian Army, 2AIF – September 2020.
I’m a fan of Peter Fitzsimmonds, an author of Australian military history books. His work on the “Rats of Tobruk” is outstanding and proved to be a great inspiration for this new range. Already excited and interested in the early war North African campaigns, discovering a lot more about the Australian 6th Division and the 2AIF (Second Australian Imperial Force), has proven to be most rewarding.
EWM purchased a number of models a few years ago from the former Sargent Major ranges in America. One of the ranges that came in that purchase was a range of early war Australian army models. I think they were previously marketed under the banner of “battle scape”, but i am not sure. It was always on my mind to rework these 20mm ranges and incorporate them into the wider EWM WW2 offerings. Listening again to the Rats of Tobruk, proved to be the spark that ignited the flame of interest.
The look of these early war Australians is quiet unique in that their uniform is a mixture of old and new. Old being the long, late WW1 army tunic, combined with 1937 or 1908 pattern webbing, WW1 leather armless jerkin, great coats, long bayonets, 303 rifles and a mix of helmet and Aussie bush hats, worn only as these magnificent troops would wear such a combination. As war progressed, the appearance of the “bush Artillery” during the siege also adds yet more interest. Fighting in Libya, Greece, Crete and even Syria, these troops got into some heavy fighting. Their “look” evolved during this time. I wanted to capture that look, for these early war battles and so to build a range suitable for such encounters was started.
The range features separate heads. New masters were made for heads with Bush hats (3 designs), helmets worn at a suitable angle, with goggles worn and hung on the helmets, with scrim netting. Separate heads offer the chance to make the figures all look slightly different, to add character and poise. Separate rear packs are both molded on some designs, but the majority are without. Separate castings mean you can quickly add them to all the figures or just some, as you desire. Adding rear packs is a easy and quick addition.
All the base figures from the old SGM range have been remastered. Heads removed and common sized sockets added. Details added and enhanced where I wanted them. New poses created. The range features poses with and without the early war gas mask case at the “alert position”. Some of the range feature figures in great coats for north Africa. Just look at the pictures of these men in action and you will see how common that is. Some even wear leather jerkins UNDER their long tunics. I wanted to allow the modeler to build a unit with character, that looked like they have been on campaign, lacking total uniformity, but still utilizing common equipment’s in service at the time. I wanted them to look like “Diggers”, each one a character and a pleasure to paint.
Pictures of the first models will follow shortly. In truth, this is the first time I have written about a new range BEFORE it becomes a reality. So often, all the hard work that goes into creating miniatures happens with out any of the “back story” or inspiration that is the driver for the creation of the models. As this new range takes shape, I hope to share those stages here with you, hoping it will be of interest.
2nd September update – as promised a number of pictures of the WIP on this new range. Today I cut the thrid mold and the figures from that were cast late today. I will show them after some photos are taken in the morning.
Here are a few from the first 2 molds.
Part 2 –
New Early War 2nd Australian Imperial Force range in development – part 2 Here are some pictures taken today of the castings from the 3rd mold finished Wednesday. I have tried to show what the miniatures look like by fitting both head options. Each figure in the new Australian range will come with both head options. A nice selection of infantry types advancing and attacking. Some of the figures boast the Gas mask case in the “alarm position”. Thats basically on the front of the chest ready to use. Some of the poses dont have the gas mask case. I wanted to show the figures like I see in the pictures Im researching. In the same group you can have men with and with out that gas mask case. When we sell them, they will be of a pose or unit and so the gas mask case may not be on all the figures. If you have a preference, we can pick with or without. I did not want to have a separate code for all of them, but there are some exceptions. these are coded with or with out the gas mask case.
The Morris platoon truck is from our “built & ready” range but has been updated. You can build it with windscreens up or down. The bars are for the folded canvas hood over the cab. You can order with screen fitted, or as shown and more commonly seen, with just the poles behind the cab. The final layout of the model will see some stowage included. The Bren on its AA mount with crew firing and the driver and officer observing will be in one version of the kit. The platoon truck was central to the unit and a common sight. This kit has come together better than I could have imagined. Support weapon and teams are also progressing well with Vickers MMG, 3 inch mortar and some other Anti-Aircraft versions with bren and lewis guns.
The field telephone set is a great addition for FOO’s or forward HQ.
I still have another 10 or so figures and designs to work on so Part 3 will follow as progress is made. I hope you enjoy seeing a range becoming a “reality”, from pictures, books and stories all creating a creative desire and passion to turn these into a new range depicting early war Australian Troops in north Africa, Greece and Syria. Cheers Paul [email protected]
Part 3 – 14th September 2020 update
Some new additions to the range include a Lea Enfield with grenade launcher attachment, 2 inch mortar with prone number 2 feeding rounds and more infantry poses including diggers with Thompson SMGs and kneeling infantry poses.
The original owner of the range has been really helpful in telling me about their history. Once the range is launched on the EWM webstore, I want to be able to credit the designer and sculptor properly. It has been a joy to remaster these models. The latest additions were molded only Sunday, so these are fresh out of the mold.
I plan one more mold and then will start to release the new range on the EWM webstore. I want to build up some stock before release, but as we are still behind on orders that process is a bit slower than I would like. The figures have all been coded and photographed, I’m working on support weapon and sets this week. I cant wait to paint a few myself, they really are very lovely.