British Jeep Crew - 35051


I Khaki Drill (KD) Service Dress (SD) was introduced into the British Army in 1932 for units posted to tropical climates. The shorts and shirts that are often associated with KD were only introduced in 1935, initially one pair of shorts per person were issued only on authority from commanding officers, as a replacement for a pair SD long trousers.  Eventually (by about 1941) the service dress was replaced completely by KD.

Early pattern shorts were cut shorter and tighter than later patterns (from about 1942) which were voluminous and were often supplied from India along with the hated ‘Bombay Bloomers’; all were made from cotton drill material.  KD long trousers were provided too and usually worn at night to ward off the cold and insects.

Shirts were produced in Aertex and were of the pullover type with stand and fall collars, with four buttons reaching down to chest level, two chest pockets and epaulettes.   Although produced with long sleeves which were usually worn rolled up, many were tailored in short sleeves by local labour. A drill bush shirt was also available and many soldiers wore their temperate issue wool Angola undershirts; a pullover type with three chest buttons, no pockets and long sleeves…it was collarless with a neckband of light khaki material.  Officers had access to a smarter bush jacket with chest and side pockets and waist belt.

A variety of producers from many countries, and local tailoring meant a great degree of variation was seen between uniforms.

In combat headdress was initially the Mark I steel helmet and later the Mark II version.  Out of combat the soldier wore his Cap Field Service (FS) or and the officer a peaked SD cap and both could wear the Coloured FS Cap depending on the dress regulations…although evidence suggests the Coloured FS Cap was worn in action especially by Cavalry regiments, instead of their black Royal Armoured Corps berets.  Instead of the FS Cap Scottish regiments would wear the Tam O Shanter (AKA Balmoral Bonnet) a large beret shaped hat with a ‘Toorie’ or pom-pon on the top (similar in shape to the GS Cap although this didn’t arrive in tropical climes until 1944 well after issue in the European Theatre).

Footwear was the ubiquitous ‘ammo boots’ in black for OR’s (Other Ranks) and brown ankle boots for officers; theses were worn with socks, hose tops (a footless stocking) for lower leg protection, and puttees or gaiters.  Scottish regiments often wore garter flashes in the colours of their particular companies or battalions at the top of the hose tops.

Note; during the colder months of the year, regardless of the theatre of operations, it was common to see the soldier dressed in their temperate dress i.e. battledress (BD), leather jerkins etc.  Often a mix of both KD and BD was seen.  Insignia was rarely attached to the KD shirt. Removable Divisional badges were usually slipped over the shoulder straps, as were officer’s rank badges. NCOs’ chevrons were sewn or attached to press-studs on the upper right arm only.

 

First look:

The first thing that struck me was the quality of the box art...enough to inspire me to buy the kit.  The artwork by Andrey Karaschuk is, as usual, excellent and provides a good indication of what you can do with the kit.  The construction and painting instructions are on the back, with a comprehensive list of paints needed from 6 suppliers including Vallejo, Tamiya and Humbrol…more about painting below.

Upon opening the box I found two small sprues in a plastic bag with 49 parts of injection moulded plastic to make five figures with accessories.  The sprues rattled about a bit inside due the box being about 70% larger than it needs to be but nothing was damaged.  The sprues aren’t numbered; a separate drawing is supplied with these, but this is no detriment due to the small number of parts presented.


The figures:

These are taken from two of MiniArt’s existing vehicle kits hence the sprue layouts.  These are; kit 35050 British Staff Car (Bantam) with crew, which supplies three seated figures and kit 35087 Scout Car Dingo MK.1a with crew, which supplies the two standing figures.

The figures are all wearing various forms of KD uniforms as discussed above making them suitable for North Africa, The Middle East and The Mediterranean Theatre of Operations (Italy and Sicily) during the summer months.

Parts breakdown is the usual multipose arrangement of two separate legs, torso, two arms and head, finished off with separate headgear and small items of personal equipment.  Noticeable is a fair amount of flash, more so than the Soviet Soldiers at Rest I reviewed a little while ago, though this will be fairly easy to remove…care will be need in the area of the hose tops to ensure the details isn’t removed in the process. 

Generally the clothing is well depicted (creases, folds etc) however gaiters on two of the figures are a little vague in detail.  The heads are very well done, as are the bare legs…unfortunately most of the hands seem be suffering from a severe case of ‘sausage fingers’; short and stubby.

The five figures in detail are…

·           Figure A; this is the seated driver figure with his left hand on a steering wheel looking over his right shoulder; he’s depicted wearing KD shorts and shirt with the sleeves rolled up.  He is wearing ammo boots with hose tops and puttees, with a FS cap for headdress and sand goggles.  He is wearing basic webbing of belt and braces with a nicely portrayed ’37 pattern pistol case (holster)...the small pouch which is probably a ammunition pouch (the compass pouch is externally identical) is also good for this scale if a little simplified ( although that is really being picky)... together this set up is known as ‘accoutrements or skeleton order’. The water bottle shown on the box top is missing this will have to be sourced elsewhere. 

 

This character is intended to be looking towards to the co- driver (figure B) but he could be placed in a right hand drive vehicle looking out of the window quite easily.  The box art shows him to be wearing battle insignia of the 8th Army though any unit can be portrayed.

 

·           Figure B; this is the co-driver officer, again seated…looking over his left shoulder right hand on knee.  He’s depicted wearing shorts and bush jacket with sleeves rolled up and a cravat (neckerchief/scarf), and officer pattern boots with long ‘stockings’ (socks).  He is wearing an officers SD cap and goggles although MiniArt provide sand goggles and not the ‘anti gas goggles’ shown on the box (it was common to wear anti-gas goggles against the dust and sand).  Again a nicely portrayed pistol case and ammunition pouch is provided although the box art shows two of these (one probably being a compass case).

 

This character is intended to be looking over his shoulder to the rear seated passenger (figure C) possibly debating a navigational issue…the box art shows him to be a Lieutenant Colonel in an infantry regiment…probably the OC (Officer Commanding) of an infantry battalion, typical of this rank. 

 

·           Figure C; the rear seated passenger, gesticulating towards a map board on his knees.  He is dressed as per figure A but has a regimental garter tucked into his hose tops…typical of Scottish regiments…and officers brown boots.  Again, he is provided with a ’37 pattern pistol case and ammunition pouch/compass case.

 

This character is obviously a Scottish officer as he is wearing a Tam O Shanter (Tam), or Balmoral Bonnet.  The Highland regiments usually wore this with a flat crown (top) and the Lowland regiments pulled the excess material to the side like a beret….the shape of the part supplied I think makes this the former which fits in with the box art…a Captain in the Seaforth Highlanders, of the 51st Highland Division, 8th Army.  Note however the Tam is missing its ‘toorie’ or pom-pon, a small ball of darker khaki yarn which sits in the top centre of the cap.  It’s easily reproduced by a small ball of epoxy putty or similar.  Although the Tam is similar in shape to the GS cap I don’t think it can be used to represent this item as the badged area is over the left ear as opposed to the GS cap which would be over the left eye in normal circumstances; also the use of the GS cap would date this figure post 1944.

 

·           Figure D; this is a standing figure leaning slightly forward with his hands on a hatch, or similar.  He is depicted wearing KD shorts and Angola shirt with the sleeves rolled up and top buttons undone, ammo boots, hose tops and gaiters ( the gaiters are a little short on detail…this could be sharper).  His headgear is the black Royal Armoured Corps beret of the Tank Regiment or Cavalry (see below), which is pushed back on the head…so typical of armoured vehicle crews. Like the others he is provided with a ’37 pattern pistol case and ammunition pouch.

 

While the box art shows the character to be a Corporal in the Cavalry (he is shown wearing a rank wristlet/wristband of a Kings Crown over two bar chevrons unique to The Cavalry) this isn’t depicted in the kit; though I would say the watch places him in the commander role.

 

·           Figure E; another standing figure depicted leaning on a shovel (provided) this character is dressed as per figure D apart from the headgear which is the MKI or II steel helmet.  The helmet is nicely portrayed, although the tiny but distinctive rivet on the top is missing.  Again he is provided with a ’37 pattern pistol case and ammunition pouch.

 

I would classify this figure as a dismounted member of an armoured crew; it was common to wear the issue steel helmet when away from the vehicle.

 

Painting:

 

There is a degree of latitude when painting KD uniforms.  Colours sometimes depended on the manufacturer, and the severe climate and cleaning/washing regime quickly led to the colours fading.  There was often a sharp contrast between newly issued clothing and older items.

 

The guide provided seems quite good but I think there may be errors so I would check your references.  A good guide can be found on SHQ Miniatures (under painting guide No11) website at http://www.shqminiatures.co.uk/Sitefiles/main.php...this quotes Humbrol and Vallejo colours.

Conclusion:

 

These are really good figures of a subject we’ve not seen in plastic…5 figures in typical tropical uniforms, seated, with a varied range of headgear.  The poses are not contrived and lend themselves with little or no surgery to other uses.  For example the seated figures could be placed out of a vehicle having a conference, or at rest; they could also be placed with a little work into other vehicles.  The standing figures can portray soldiers in a multitude of different scenarios…carrying out maintenance for example (I can just see them looking under a vehicle bonnet).  They are a great example of the multi-pose style of construction.

 

No surplus equipment is supplied but they are supposed to be a vehicle crew for some HQ so that’s not really a problem unless you’re doing a bit of figure bashing.

 

Good points; subject, uniforms/headgear, folds and crease in clothing, useful poses, detailed/individual looking faces.

 

Minus points; flash, seam lines and stubby fingers.


Highly recommended


Website Miniart

 

Marks: 80%


Review by Martyn Smith

 

References:

•British Army Uniforms and Insignia of World War Two; B Davis, Arms & Armour Press 1993

•The British Army, 1939-45: Middle East & Mediterranean; M Brayley & M Chappell, Osprey Publishing 2002

•British Battle Insignia (2) 1939–45; Mike Chappell, Osprey Publishing 1987

·  World Army Uniforms Since 1939; Mollo, McGregor, Smith and Chappell, Blandford Press 1981

·  Tropical Uniforms ‘The Desert War’; Pete Redman, http://afrikaaxisallied.blogspot.com/search/label/8th%20Army last accessed 12.07.2010