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Builds Group build - Desert Build; Smeggers' Khoufra Oasis.

Smeggers

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Situated close to the borders of Sudan, Egypt and Chad; Khoufra was one of Libya's key positions in WW2 and consequently had a permanent Italian Guard throughout the early stages of the war, as they did with other oases in the area. The Fort of El Tadj protects the vitally important town of El Djof and it's airfield. The permanent garrison was 400 strong, backed up with a flight of fighter/bombers.
On the 26th January 1941, with a small detachment, Colonel Leclerc left Faya (Chad) and marched on the oasis; 800 kms to the North! He repulsed an Italian Saharian company which had come over to investigate his column, and succeeded in isolating the Fort of El Tadj by skirting around it. For six days the Fort was bombarded by the single 75mm gun carried by the Leclerc Column until finally, on the 1st March the white flag was hoisted above the citadel.
The Flag of the Free French Forces was hoisted above the fort. Leclerc had captured nearly 400 men, 53 machine guns and four cannon. On the 2nd March at the official flag hoisting ceremony, Leclerc took an oath not to cease combat until the French flag flew over Strasbourg and Metz. He kept that oath.

My build will encompass several of the "colonial" soldiers from the French Territories of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and La Legion Etrangere also have a couple of camels and a Donkey or two just to add something different. Researching some of the uniforms produced some interesting results with a good mix of colours. The first few pictures are the first weekend's work on the build. Oh, by the way, there will be a motorbike in the build, probably a Gnome-Rhone.
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Some camels, a donkey, a Legionnaire and some locals.

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On this occasion, two of the Goumiers (Moroccan Berbers), one headless the other ok. The striped robe they wore was there tribal identity. Apparently they were vicious litt!s buggers!

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BMW and a Zundapp in Afrika Korps livery. They may or may not feature.
 

Smeggers

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Smeggers

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"He's not the Messiah, he's been a very naughty Legionnaire"
 
You mention
French Territories of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and La Legion Etrangere. Surely the Free French column would consist of volunteers from colonies further south. Or was it a polyglot of units.
 
@Smeggers, have you actually built anything for this one or have you just stolen it?
 

Smeggers

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Smeggers

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You mention
French Territories of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and La Legion Etrangere. Surely the Free French column would consist of volunteers from colonies further south. Or was it a polyglot of units.
It mainly comprised 5000 tirailler (riflemen) of the Senegalese Light Infantry Regiment of Chad plus 3 detachment of Meharisti Camel Cavalry. The newly raised Compagnies méharistes were originally recruited mainly from the Chaamba nomadic tribe and commanded by officers of the French Affaires Indigènes (Native Affairs Bureau). Each company of Méharistes comprised six officers, 36 French non-commissioned officers and troopers, and 300 Chaamba troopers. From the 1930s onwards, the Méharistes formed part of the Compagnies Sahariennes which also included motorised French and (from 1940) Foreign Legion units.)I
This Free French column was led by Lt-Col Jean Colonne d'Oranans until his death fighting with the LRDG against a Saharian patrol of Italians on 11 January. Colonel Phillipe LeClerc assumed command.
An LRDG Detachment, led by Major Pat Clayton and comprising 76 men from G Guard (Brigade of Guards) and T patrol (New Zealanders) joined the column on 6 January. Clayton was captured by the same patrol on which d'Oranans was killed.
There were approximately 32 NCOs and Legionaires under Lt Charles LePatre in the column as well as about 100 Moroccan Goumiers (Berbers) plus donkeys.
 

Smeggers

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Had a full afternoon and evening today at the table and can say I'm pleased with results so far. I've managed to complete several of the figures. I have also made a start on the diorama base, more on that later.
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To the rear, a Beduin followed by one of the Meharisti cavalry. Beside him is a locally made refuelling point.
In the foreground is one of the Senegalese Light Infantrymen followed by Foreign Legion Cavalry Officer. He wears the service Kepi with White cover to protect the crown of the hat. The final duo are Berber tribesmen from Morocco, part of the 48,000 Goumier troops fighting for France. These guys were savage fighters, not always staying on the right side of the rules of war and often leaving controversy wherever they went! The odd-shaped helmets were a hallmark of the Goumiers as was the striped coat; Nearly always dark red with black and white stripes, the colours only varied with the amount of time the coat was worn!
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The footwear of the troops was as important as the rest of the uniforms. The light infantryman wears boots for marching long distances as do the Goumiers. The cavalrymen wear soft sandals to avoid injuring the soft skin of their camels.
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While principally an Infantry unit, the Goumiers often used Mules or Asses as their beasts of burden often using them to carry loads over 500kg!
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The diorama base is a vac-u-formed plastic board, stylized as part of the original oasis. The first thing I had to do was add a couple of strengthen strips of ply under the plastic. The act of vac-u-forming involves drawing a piece of plastic over a pre-moulded shape. That works ok but the plastic is quite flimsy in places so need some support. After priming the whole base, I gave it a coat of pva glue and then sprinkled it with two grades of grit plus a few pebbles. Once dried, this was sprayed with various mixes of yellow, browns and creams. The ruined walls will get a couple of coats of ivory on the outside and grey and blue sand on the inners.
The tiled area of the well will be done in various shares of stone and desert sand. I'm thinking about chucking in a palm tree or two, but we'll have to wait and see.
 

Smeggers

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Looking very nice, nicely done group of figures very exotic
That was what I was looking for. Sometimes you get fed up with Desert Yellow or Olive Drab. This was a good exercise for introducing other colours while keeping true to uniforms of the time.
 
If you're going to have colonial soldiers I assume that you will be 'blacking up' some whiteys. This causes racial offence by proxy. You must scour the internet for models of BAME soldiers. Additionally, you must include several LGBGTQA+ soldiers.
 

Smeggers

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If you're going to have colonial soldiers I assume that you will be 'blacking up' some whiteys. This causes racial offence by proxy. You must scour the internet for models of BAME soldiers. Additionally, you must include several LGBGTQA+ soldiers.
Why? Hornet models do some fairly good "african" heads.
 

Smeggers

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A little light-hearted look at Khoufra..
 

Smeggers

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Afternoon spent painting up a few more figures for the diorama. I've added in an artillery piece and an 8mm Hotchkiss HMG mit tripod. There is also another camel plus a donkey, although I'm not sure whether I'll use them or not. Anyway, the second of the Senegalese Light Infantry has been completed. I decided to make this one an NCO, a Corporal to be exact. I've added a Lieutenant plus the original colonial private.
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As stated previously, I may or may not add a tree or two, depends on room and balance. The two I've prepped come from an American desert diorama set. Most of it was a bit naff, but the trees, after priming and painting came out looking ok. The only problem is that all six trees in the set are the same height. Problem overcome by sawing half an inch off the bottom of one and carving a spigot to attach it to its base.
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By the way, the way the troops wore their scarves was dictated by the Regimental Commanding Officer. There are pictures of troops wearing them crossed at the front or cravat-like, tucked into the jacket etc.
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The extra Camel and Donkey will be left unladen and either be led by one of it's fellows or as stated, may be left off completely. Both animals needed a fair bit of sanding down to remove moulded belts and harnesses. I've left the head harnesses as something for the tow reins to be attached to.

That's it for tonight, more later.
 

Smeggers

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Started something different today. The last time I built a tank was back in the 70's, but I thought as this was all about the Desert War, I'd knock out a Brit tank. So the Matilda Mk III/IV from Tamiya was my first choice. Started this on Friday evening and discovered that there are 26 wheels on either side! Fortunately, the majority of these were tiny track rollers.
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As I'm not allowed to use spray paints indoors, and it's fecking cold outside, I'm going to paint this vehicle by hand. I tend to paint all the parts that show, including any detail work and then finish the main coat prior to weathering. I'm using Tamiya Dark Yellow as an undercoat, but fully intend painting this lady in a Caunter Camouflage scheme.
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Most of this went together fairly well, with no obvious problems. This kit is a re-worked version of an older kit and gave the builder the choice of vinyl tracks or stiff, pieces of moulded strips. Being old school, I opted for the easier method, the vinyl tracks. Painted up, these can look just as good as moulded strips. The other point in favour of these vinyl tracks, especially on a Matilda, is the fact that most of the track won't be seen anyway!
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That's most of the lower hull completed now. I'll fit the tools and tow cables on after painting and prior to any weathering. I've got to say this is a tidy little model, with one fault - the crew figures! Absolutely 70's style moulding and lack of detail. They're gonna get binned and I'll use some others I have kicking around.
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Headlight mounts were made from plasticard as the kit supplied versions were badly distorted and broken and then broke some more while trying to fix them..

More later.
 

Smeggers

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Getting to the end of the Matilda build and I'm pretty chuffed with it. The paint job has proved to be the toughest part of this build. I would test a colour on a piece of defunct model, let it dry and then bin it. Eventually I settled on Life Colours Slate and Desert Pink from their Caunter colours set and mixed Vallejo Sky Grey Blue with a touch of Mid-Blue to give a colour resembling the box art Blue. I hand-painted the colour scheme to give a sort of home made paint job. Well that's my excuse anyway.
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The tools, tow-cables and other paraphernalia appropriate to tracked pill boxes are ready to be mounted once I've weathered the vehicle. The visible parts of the track will get a coat of Natural Steel (Vallejo) followed by a coat of Clear Grey (Tamiya). Detailing on the tracks will be done as required.
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The kit includes two rather gopping plastic tarpaulins. These were binned and two new ones made using the old tissue paper and PCS glue method. While waiting for these to dry, I've made a couple of pairs of leather straps, complete with buckles, from baking foil and fuse wire. These will be used to hold the tarps in position on the turret basket. Barracks and other sundries will also be hung around the turret.
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The Matilda will form part of a small diorama with a few figures. The Khufra Oasis diorama is awaiting a few items in the post, so until they arrive, the Queen of the Desert will take my attention.
 

LepetitCaporal

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@ Smiggers
Did some research and came across this from the, " defense.gouv.fr dated , 09/04/2013
(Hommage) le serment de Koufra
A photo
One star general Leclerc with a black long sleeved, carrying his walking stick and surrounded by 6 others, at least
One in shorts and short sleeves (defo a sous officer...N.C.O.)
One other with white pantalons
Another with a white vest... defo Officer's
The person saluting is also an officer, maybe the Commandant Hous?
The Senageleas were the majority of the troop and might be wearing red Fees
The véhicules were mostly civilian and adapted for the occasion...nick named (Cawadji)
1 in 5 of the force were Europeans (whites) and the majority Senageleas and probably wearing red Fees (to be confirmed)
I couldn't post the picture because it's a government site and all rights reserved
L.P.C.
 

Smeggers

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@ Smeggers
Did some research and came across this from the, " defense.gouv.fr dated , 09/04/2013
(Hommage) le serment de Koufra
A photo
One star general Leclerc with a black long sleeved, carrying his walking stick and surrounded by 6 others, at least
One in shorts and short sleeves (defo a sous officer...N.C.O.)
One other with white pantalons
Another with a white vest... defo Officer's
The person saluting is also an officer, maybe the Commandant Hous?
The Senageleas were the majority of the troop and might be wearing red Fees
The véhicules were mostly civilian and adapted for the occasion...nick named (Cawadji)
1 in 5 of the force were Europeans (whites) and the majority Senageleas and probably wearing red Fees (to be confirmed)
I couldn't post the picture because it's a government site and all rights reserved
L.P.C.
Thanks a lot my friend, that does include a lot of useful information. It also agrees with my original research. I've substituted the "i" for an "e" as I don't think there is a "Smiggers" on this site.
 

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