Armor Color Gallery #7 “Camouflage & Markings of the Stuarts in New Zealand Service” by Jeffrey Plowman
- Published on Sunday, 17 October 2010 11:03 Nick Mayhew
Armor Color Gallery #7
“Camouflage & Markings of the Stuarts in New Zealand Service”
by Jeffrey Plowman
The Armor Color Gallery series provides a detailed account of camouflage and markings of various armoured vehicles in WWII. The subject matter includes specific vehicle types, often with a focus on particular divisions or regiments, and sometimes countries as a whole. In all of the seven volumes so far, the subjects are from the Commonwealth Allies of Great Britain in WWII.
This particular volume provides us with, as the title implies, a guide to New Zealand’s Stuart tanks and their camouflage and markings. The timeframe covered extends from 1940 to 1955; the locations and theatres from training in New Zealand, combat operations in North Africa, The Middle East and Italy, through to post-war use.
The book is soft-back, standard A4 format, and in 48 pages contains a number of previously unpublished photos with often highly detailed captions. In all, there are some 83 black & white photos, and six pages of colour plates, showing 17 different vehicles (all shown rather conveniently in 1/35 scale. The vehicles types covered are as follows: Stuart I, Stuart I Hybrid, Stuart III, Stuart V Reconnaissance (“Recce”) , Stuart Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC).
Here is a breakdown of the chapters and their contents:
- Introduction p4 – a synopsis of the use of the Stuart by New Zealand, whose combat use began with “3rd hand” vehicles captured from the Afrika Korps during Operation Crusader, the relief of Tobruk in November 1941.
- The NZAFV School p5 – although the school was established in New Zealand, the training took place rather in Abbassia, Egypt.
- The Mounted Rifle Regiments pp6-18 – at the outbreak of WWII New Zealand possessed just six Bren carriers (this was the sum total of their armoured force in 1939) , and training with horses was still going on into 1941; this chapter details the struggle for up to date equipment, and especially the problems with the late model Stuart I, or Stuart Hybrid; extensive pictures of this vehicle type on exercise, all based in New Zealand.
- 1st New Zealand Army Tank Brigade pp19-21 – originally intended for deployment in North Africa, Japan’s entrance into the war delayed this, and the units did not see action; again a number of Stuart Hybrids are shown in New Zealand on exercises etc.
- The Divisional Cavalry Regiment pp22-27 – raised in 1940 and initially placed at the disposal of the British, it saw service in Greece, Crete, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and finally Italy; anyone with an interest in North Africa campaign armour will be especially drawn to this chapter; numerous detailed pictures of Stuart Is in the desert, many of them with engaging names such as “Happy” and “Pluto”; a nice picture of a Stuart being made ready for tow by an enormous Scammell wrecker (what a diorama that would make).
- Divisional Protective Troop pp28-29 – detailed pictures of General Freyberg’s command vehicle “Polly III”, complete with dummy gun, along with other vehicles in his headquarters troop; the conversion to this version should be relatively simple for the average modeller by the way.
- 4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade pp30-34 – formed in 1942, this Brigade was equipped with Stuarts because of the inability of the Lynx Scout Car to cope with the terrain and conditions in Italy; although both tanks with and without were used here, the pictures document vehicles specially adapted for the Brigade and their light reconnaissance role (turrets removed).
- Armour of the Artillery Regiments pp35-36 – replacing the Universal Carrier, Stuarts were used as personal vehicles for Battery and Troop Commanders; pictures from both Tunisia and Italy.
- Post-War Use of the Stuart pp37-40 – because of the decision in 1950 by the New Zealand Government to raise a division for potential overseas service, and the lack of any new equipment since the War, the Stuart was once again called upon, and continued in use until 1955; this chapter shows the Stuart in various guises, including regular tank, armoured personnel carrier, maintenance and repair vehicle, towing artillery and as armoured recovery vehicle.
- Colour Plates pp41-48 – 16 colour plates in 1/35 scale, with detailed captions; identifying features and insignia are called out for each tank, including any divisional markings etc which would have appeared on the front of the tank (even though the profiles are side-on view only). The vehicles featured are:
- Stuart I Hybrid (NZ14815; -38844), B Sqn 5th Otago Mounted Rifles, Southland 1942
- Stuart I Hybrid, C Sqn, 3rd Auckland East Coast Mounted Rifles, Northland 1942
- Stuart I Hybrid (NZ19762), A Sqn, 2 Tanks Battalion Group, Waiouru, 1943
- Stuart I Hybrid (NZ19786), RHQ, 2 Tanks Battalion Group, Waiouru, 1943
- Stuart I Hybrid (NZ14182), A Sqn, 2nd Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles, Manawatu 1943
- Stuart I Hybrid, B Sqn, 9th Wellington East Coast Mounted Rifles, Manawatu 1943
- Stuart I “ Colorado” (T-37385), formerly 3rd RTR, Deutsches Afrika Korps, and finally C Sqn, 2nd New Zealand Divisional Cavalry Regiment, Sidi Rezegh, Libya November 1941
- Stuart I (T-37781), 2nd NZ Divisional Cavalry Regiment, Egypt August 1942
- Stuart I “Happy”, Divisional Cavalry, July 1942
- Stuart I Command Tank “Polly III” (T-37832), Egypt December 1942
- Stuart I (T-37780), A Troop, 25 battery, 4th Field Regiment, Medenine 1943
- Stuart III (T-155201), Battery Commander, 46th Battery, 4th Field Regiment, Sangro Front, December 1943
- Stuart V Recce (T-213535), Reconnaissance Troop, 18th Artillery Regiment, Po Valley, April 1945
- Stuart V Recce, Reconnaissance Troop, HQ Sqn, 18th Armored Regiment, Po Valley, April 1945
- Stuart III, Armour School, Waiouru, 1949
- Stuart ARV, Waiouru, 1960s
What we think:
Prior to this review, I had not heard of the Armor Color Gallery series. And yet after reading it I am already planning a future modelling project involving the Stuart tank, and will definitely look out for further titles for other projects I already have in mind. And if a book draws you into a subject you had previously ignored, I think that in itself speaks volumes.
The one downside of this book, for me at least, is the amount of coverage devoted to non-combat operations in New Zealand and post-War use. I would have preferred a greater emphasis on the Stuart’s role at the front, and specifically in the North African Campaign. Still, this book is recommended because it can provide you with detailed reference material covering a large number of specific vehicles in a variety of locations, for what has otherwise been a relatively ignored armoured vehicle.
With thanks to Ian Allen Plus for the review sample.