Sunday 7 July 2024

Rapid Fire! rules - Bir Hakeim 1942 (part 2) - The infantry for the Free French 1st Brigade

Did you ever think why the Free French didn´t have any tanks at Bir Hakeim? I mean, the position was avoiding the encirclement of the full 8th army from the south and having no tanks looks strange. Well, I will tell you the story I found: 

In fact there was a M-3 Lee tank attached to the Free French. With its two guns and reasonable protection it woud have been a formidable opponent to the Axis armour at Bir Hakeim. The problem is that it was spotted by an old Italian Breda BA-65 on its way to the Italian Aviation Museum in Rome. It was still carrying some of its bombs and one fell just on top of the Lee blowing it to bits. Fortunately, the crew was out of the tanks as they had eaten a full meal of Couscous that somehow made them feel bad (some say it was the water...) and they were all behind a wadi discharging their intestinal content. 

Of course all this story is rubbish. I found last week the Altaya Lee and the Rare Plane Vacuform (older than me) at the nice Leirimodel exhibition in Leiria some 60km from Coimbra. After finishing them I decided to go to round two of my Free French making the necessary infantry. Round one can be seen here:

My idea is to have the full Free French  for RF!  and all the defensive positions as I have already the Ariete Division and the DAK so there will be a few more posts on the subject. 

I was eager to get to the white kepis of the FFL as the two Strelets boxes - infantry and support weapons - makes them justice. The 13e demi-brigade had two battalions that can be seen here. A big thanks to Don McHugh for showing me the OB of the Free French for Rapid Fire!

Clearly taken in the fog-of-war this picture shows the support weapons box that gives you what you need for the entire two demi-brigades and still some figures that can be used elsewhere. 

The battaillon de marche No2, coming from nowadays Central African Republique, was made from converted Strelets leftovers and a few Airfix and Revell. The Strelets figures had its kepi peak taken out in order to look like the Chechia and the British helmets of the other figures were cut out until looking like a Chechia.


The pith helmets of the Strelets figures went all to the BM2 as I saw pictures of this unit using this headgear. For the Bataillon du Pacifique I will use British figures already made as this battalion has many pictures with the Brodie helmet. 

The Command stand can be for Brigade or for any of the demi-brigades. The 75mm is Minigeneral coupled with some ugly printed wheels I had around as the originals were spoked. 

The Altaya Lee got extra stowage and the usual black wash followed by some sand drybrushing. Now I have 10 of these (Lee/Grant)in British desert camouflage and this is the number I wanted acording to my calculations for the maximum number of models in a British armoured division in a 1 to 5 ratio.  

This old Vacuform Rare Plane BA-65 got new wing MGs made of plastic and a carved bay where an Airfix gunner and MG was inserted as this model didn´t have this option that is far more interesting. This plastic is easily cut but becomes extremely light in the end. The model had already lost the windshield and only the fuselage support was left to be painted. 

Next: Bir Hakeim fortifications. 


  1. Nice work as usual Joao. Don't forget the sailors in the sailor hats manning a Bofors AA...

    1. Thanks Neil. The fusiliers marins are mandatory as they will give some color in the middle of all that sand.

  2. So
    Joao. Very much like your postings. Now the colonial troops are surely Senegalese and not from Cen Af Rep? None the less, I have just acquired 2 bags (24 figures) of Senegalese in tropical kit from Early War Minis.
    Plus support weapons and colonial officers.
    I want to use them in my Somali, Syria and Madagascar games.
    WIP at the moment.

    1. Thanks Richard. The term Senegalese given by the French comes from the XIX century first unit of african tirailleurs being recruited in Senegal. This BM2 in particular had surely senegalese but also from other parts of Africa and its recruitment centre was in Bangui, nowadays capital of the Central African Republique.