Planning my New Zealand Carriers In Italy for Crossfire

My Kiwis in Italy Project isn’t going well. I still haven’t started painting my the New Zealand infantry of 2 (NZ) Division in Italy. Sigh. But I do continue to make plans. I know I’ve got to do at least one carrier platoon when I finally get around to this. So I want to get my thinking straight about carriers in British / Commonwealth Leg Infantry Battalions and Motor Infantry Battalions. And Crossfire has that silly single APC carries a platoon thing, which is doubly silly for a 4-man universal carrier.

New Zealand Universal Carrier - Rimini, Italy - September 1944

Universal Carrier – 21 (New Zealand) Battalion – Rimini, Italy – September 1944


Standard Crossfire

Crossfire says (p. 26) …

Excerpt from CF on British Organisation

  • Leg Infantry battalion (1939-45)
    • Battalion Support Company
      • 1-Carrier Platoon (carried in 1-Bren Carrier but organised like Rifle Platoons; see below1)
    • 3-Rifle Platoons; each with1:
      • 1-PC(+1)
      • 3-Rifle Squads

Note:
(1) Both the carrier platoon and rifle Platoon have 1 x PC (+1) and 3 x Rifle Squads.

So, just to be clear, that means a Leg infantry battalion has:

CF British Carrier Platoon

  • 1 x Carrier Platoon
    • 1 x PC (+1)
    • 3 x Rifle Squads
    • 1 x Carrier2

Note:
(2) I assume the carrier is either bren carrier or universal carrier depending period. Which ever it is, it carries the whole platoon, as per normal Crossfire APC rules.

A Motor Infantry Battalion three of these carrier platoons, one per Infantry Company.


Lloyd’s View on Carriers

Nikolas Lloyd has a great page on British Carriers in WW2. He concludes with his view on Carriers in Crossfire:

The Carrier platoons as published in the Crossfire rules are in ONE carrier! Given the Crossfire official scale, and the inseparable nature of the carrier sections, I would use one carrier per section, perhaps plus one for command, per platoon, so the platoon of 13 vehicles would be represented by four or five models, each section having 2″ mortar, and PIAT. The section in reality would have three Bren gun teams, and would have few men to defend these in close combat. Accordingly, I would treat the dismounted crew as equivalent to an “HMG” in the Crossfire rules, so it would fire 4 dice, but be -2 in close combat, counting as a crew-served weapon. In 1:1 figure scale games, a carrier might dismount a single three-man stand.

I think that translates to the following in standard CF:

Lloydian British Carrier Platoon

  • 1 x Carrier Platoon
    • 1 x PC (+1)
    • 3 x HMG with Piat
    • 1 x 2″ Mortar3
    • 4 or 5 x Carriers

Note:
(3) Lloyd doesn’t specify but I assume the three 2″ mortars of the platoon are grouped at platoon level, in a similar way to 2″ mortars from the rifle platoons being grouped at company level in Crossfire.


Steven’s View on Carriers

I want to avoid the silly carrier carries a platoon thing. I’m thinking to follow Lloyd’s lead with a couple of tweaks:

Balagan New Zealand Carrier Platoon

  • 1 x Carrier Platoon
    • 1 x PC (+1)4
    • 0 or 1 x Command Carrier4
    • 3 x HMG with Piat5
    • 3 x Heavily armed carriers5
    • 1 x Carrier with onboard 2″ Mortar (24 FM)6
    • 0 or 1 x Carrier with flamethrower “Wasp Mk IIC”7

Notes:
(4) The PC can ride in any of the carriers or have a dedicated one. If the PC has a dedicated carrier it cannot fire as it only represents a single vehicle with less fire power than the other models in the platoon.
(5) The Kiwi carriers were heavily armed. The New Zealanders added any extra weapons they could find. Browning machine guns, probably commandeered from knocked out Shermans, were a favourite, preferably two of them to a carrier. But they also added vickers machine guns, besa machine guns, and additional brens. One carrier model is allocated per section (although there were four real vehicles). Given the Kiwis picked up as many machine guns as they could I would literally represent the dismounted crews as a HMG stand. If the crew is dismounted, the dismounted stand shoots as an HMG and the carrier cannot shoot. If the crew is mounted then the carrier can shoot as an HMG and there is no dismounted stand. The dismounted stand is equipped with a piat.
(6) This is the combined 2” mortars from the sections. It seems simpler to gloss over the fact that all sections had a 2″ mortar and aggregated them at the platoon level. I give that model masses of FM (24) because they carried three times as much ammo than the foot sloggers. Like all my small mortars the simplest way to hand this model is to treat it like an FO. I guess, if you were being fair, you’d make it an armoured FO.
(7) Wasp Mk IIC carriers were issued to the New Zealand carrier platoons in April 1945. The Mk IIC – C for Canadian – had a single 75 gallon fuel tank on the rear of the vehicle outside the armour protection, allowing a third crew member to be carried.


What about models?

I’m thinking of getting:

  • Dismounted Kiwi Carrier Platoon
    • 1 x PC
    • 3 x HMG with Piat
  • Mounted Kiwi Carrier Platoon
    • 1 x Carrier with bren gun
    • 3 x Carrier with browning .50 cal
    • 1 x Carrier with onboard 2″ Mortar
    • 1 x Carrier with flame thrower “Wasp Mk IIC” = Plastic Soldier Company “Wasp 1”
  • Spares
    • 1 x Carrier with AOP
    • 1 x Carrier with onboard 3″ Mortar
    • 1 x Carrier with vickers

I terms of figures – mounted or dismounted – I’m looking for a British uniform with a variety of headgear. American helmets, British helmets, berets, and cap comforters could do duty on a New Zealand carrier.

And I should also check for browning .30 cal machine guns. Great to have some carriers with these.

Because I want to be able to field both a leg infantry battalion (23 NZ Battalion) and a motor battalion (22 NZ Motor Battalion) I need at least three of these carrier platoons, four if I do it properly. Perhaps another time. Lets start with one.

Dismounted figures

For the dismounted HMG, I’ll check out who does a .50 cal machine gun and then add British crew. It will make them look different to normal British HMG with the vickers. Although some Kiwi carrier crews wore American helmets and berets – our lot weren’t so good on regulations – so I don’t necessarily need the British helmet.

Unfortunately most wargaming companies do combined machine gunner and machine gun. So to get an American machine gun, I’d also get an American uniform. The helmet is okay, but the uniform, not so much.

QRF seem to be the only range with the crew separate from the machine gun, whether .50 cal, .30 cal, or vickers. I’m not keen on QRF but beggars cannot be choosers.

Carriers

The Kiwi carriers were heavily armed. The New Zealanders added any extra weapons they could find. Browning machine guns, probably commandeered from knocked out Shermans, were a favourite, preferably two of them to a carrier. But they also added vickers machine guns, besa machine guns, and additional brens.

Somewhere along the line I picked up two packs of BR208 Bren gun carriers from Flames of War. It turns out I can’t use them for the Kiwis in Italy. These vehicles were the early war carriers (along with Scout carriers). I need universal carriers.

In terms of actual factual universal carriers the choices seem to be plastic:

  • Flames of War: Universal Carrier Patrol (BBX35). Nine universal carriers all the same: two crew with a bren
  • Flames of War: Universal Carrier Patrol (BBX55). Nine universal carriers, which can build: Universal Carrier Patrol, MMG Carrier Patrol, Wasp Carrier Patrol, Universal Carrier OP
  • Plastic Soldier Company: 15mm British Universal Carrier with variants (WW2V15032). Nine generic carriers with options for 2 inch mortar, 3 inch mortar, Vickers, Browning 50 cal, AOP and 2 Wasp flamethrower

The first FoW option is a bit dull with insufficient weaponry – all vehicles have two crew and bren gun out the front. Both the latter sets have variety. But the Plastic Soldier company wins out with options for a 2 inch mortar, the browning .50 cal, and the Wasp Mk IIC (their “Wasp 1”) – all models I need for the Kiwis. The pack gives me three extra carriers above my strict requirements, but more is always better, right.

The Plastic Solder Company “Carrier with browning .50 cal” seems to have just the browning and the machine gunner, with no other crew or weapons. My ideal model for the would have the browning .50 cal in the front, a bren gun or .30 cal browning above the engine, and four crew. The generic carrier has a driver and two men lounging in the back – they seem ideal to add to the browning kit.

The Plastic Soldier Company “Wasp 1” has two men in the front but the “Wasp Mk IIC” was explicitly to allow an extra crewman in the back. So again I think one of those lounging rear crewmen of the generic carrier can see duty here.

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