Tuesday, September 29, 2015

OMOG and Our Other Games

OMOG and Other Games all at Once!
Here are two places from which you can download OMOG and our other toy soldier games
Jersey Shore Battle Games - easy games for kids and newcomers
Originally designed to play in the sand at the beach!
Operation Sandtrap War 2 to Present
Sandtrap Showdown Wild West and Civil War Game
Castle Cracker Medieval and Ancient game
Sandarticus Roman-era supplement to Castle Cracker
Muskets and Sandpiles revolutionary War and Alamo Game
Planetary Sand and Supplement for Space Games
Treasure of Sandheap Pirate Adventure game
Tanegashima Sandman rules for Samural Games
Sahara Sandstorm Foreign Legion and Colonial Era Game
OMOG - One Man One Gun Skirmish Games
OMOG Advanced 20th & 21st Century
OMOG 19C 19th century 1850-1900
OMOG Muskets 7101 - 1849
OMOK - One man One Knight Medieval Game
OMOG Oldstyle - Little Wars type game
This site also has other rules for Medieval, Franco-Prussian War, 20th century and Toy Soldier games.
Here is another place from which you can download OMOG and our other toy soldier games
Metalsmashing Medieval Wargame
Bucket O’ Muzzleblast Horse & Musket era Wargame
Hans und Panzer WW2 Armor / infantry Wargame
Hans und Panzer Afrika Korps Armor / infantry Wargame
Tankplank - armor-infantry wargame
Tankplank Advanced supplement (with Tankette Waltz)
OMOG - One Man One Gun Skirmish Games
OMOG Advanced 20th & 21st Century
OMOG 19C 19th century 1850-1900
OMOG Muskets 7101 - 1849
OMOK - One man One Knight Medieval Game
OMOG Oldstyle - Little Wars type game

Monday, September 28, 2015

Bucket O’ Muzzleblast - Miniature Wargame for 18th and 19th Century Battles

Among toy soldier collectors and wargamers, the era from 1740 to 1871 holds great fascination. More miniatures and game rules are sold for that era than for any other. Indeed, several of the most interesting conflicts in human history happened at that time. These include the Seven Years War, American Revolution, French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, Crimean War and the American Civil War,
Back in 2005, I had the idea of making small, easy to learn wargames that we fun and fast paced. Bucket O’ Muzzleblast evolved from several old sets of wargame rules including one by Bob Bard for the Battle of Gettysburg. The goal was to make a set that could fit everything from that era conveniently and have a good degree of realism and playability.
The other factor is adaptability. Players can adjust the rules for specific things that apply to their articular armies of conflicts. Bucket O’ Muzzleblast is easily altered to fit those specifics. It can also serve as a basis from which to develop more complex games.
Bucket O’ Muzzleblast does not require much. You need two armies of at least 20 pieces each and dice and a ruler. The artillery stick is easy to make with things found around the home or office.
Unlike our OMOG Games, Bucket O’Muzzleblast is not a skirmish game. This is a battle game where troops represent larger forces. Also, unless you have a lot of room, it is best used with smaller figures. The best would be 15mm to 30mm figures, metal or plastic. You can build an army cheaply and quickly with plastic figures. There are plastic 20mm and 25mm figures from almost any conflict from the 7 Years War to the Franco-Prussian War. They make infantry, artillery and cavalry for most armies.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Useful Resource for Metal Casters / Home Casters

For those who like to cast their own soldiers, we have a group on FaceBook. This is a place to discuss casting with metals and other substances, show your work, share tips & ideas, get help, find resources, etc.  Here is the link:
I also have a small site that explains home casting with metal. I am hoping to expand it in the near future:
Happy soldiering!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

OMOG Muskets: Game for Toy Soldier Skirmishes 1701 - 1849

The era of musket-based warfare stretched from about 1700 to the 1840s. It included the 7 Years War, American Revolution, French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, War of 1812, the Alamo and the Mexican-American War. For those of us growing up in America, the American Revolution was one of the first things we learned in our history classes. We learned of leaders like George Washington, Nathaniel Greene, and enemies such has Burgoyne and Cornwallis. Our lessons covered battles, too: Trenton, Brandywine, Monmouth ( less than two miles from where I sit) and Yorktown. A few companies produced figures for the Revolution. Lido, MPC and Marx made sets of Revolutionary War soldiers. The Louis Marx Company also made playsets based on a popular show about that era.

Militia from Castings Inc Series 1 metal molds
One of the big things back then was the Battle of the Alamo and the War for Texas Independence. Disney produced a series about Davy Crockett starring Fess Parker. Sterling Hayden played Jim Bowie in "The Last Command." John Wayne starred in another Alamo movie in 1960. Of course, some toymakers did their part to meet the enthusiasm of the boys. The Louis Marx Company made several Alamo playsets, which included frontiersmen, a tin-litho Alamo fort and Mexican soldiers. Marx also re-arranged these things to make Zorro playsets.

Boys in Britian and Europe had their Napoleonic Soldiers and 7 Years War troops. While we in the States played our games of the Revolution and the Alamo, they fought Waterloo and the Silesian Wars. Only in the last generation or so have plastic toy Napoleonic soldiers made their way to America. Once solely the province of metal figure collectors in the US, plastic Napoleonic troops became available to wargamers here in the States. As for American companies in recent years, BMC produced affordable playsets and figures for the Revolution and The Alamo. Barszo made several of its more expensive sets for the French & Indian War and the American Revolution.

American officer figure from Dutkins mold
The style of warfare in this period was mainly a set-piece battle. Closely-formed units of infantry and cavalry were supported by artillery. Soldiers fought in tight formations. Uniforms were bright and colorful. This was a way for governments to show their wealth and power. As men fired weapons at close ranges, there was no need for concealment.

Though the larger battles were rigidly organized, there were skirmishes between small units. This was the job of light troops such as German jager and French Voltigeurs and Tirailleurs. Light troops went ahead and skirmished with the enemy. Captain Ewald, a Hessian Jager commander and light infantry expert, detailed some of these in his books.

Ewald’s Treatise on partisan warfare

His later work on light infantry (hard to read - old version from 1803)

ewald’s diary http://www.jaegerkorps.org/reference/Ewalds%20DIARY%20OF%20THE%20AMERICAN%20WAR.pdf

Emmerich was another German who fought in the Revolution as a leader of light infantry. Here is his treatise. this one is an easy read:

Emmerich’s Treatise on Partisan warfare http://www.loyalamericanregiment.org/The%20Partisan%20in%20War.pdf

Foraging parties, Indian raiders and scouts might get info skirmishes when encountering each other or coming across small posts guarded by enemy troops. These battles are very different from the set-piece combat of conventional warfare of the time.

OMOG Musket is a game of small unit action of the period from 1700 to 1849. The movement and terrain are like the other OMOG games. However, the game play of OMOG Muskets has been designed to reflect combat in the Musket Era. The game is easy to learn, easy to play and lots of fun. Designed to be played anywhere with whatever is at hand. You can play the conflicts of Europe, the Americas and in colonies of the time.

Download a copy here:



There are several companies making troops for the Musket era. A couple of very affordable brands are the Revolutionary War troops by BMC and the Frontiersman by Tim Mee (Victory Buy) These sets are in the 60mm to 65mm range. The BMC figures are a bit crude, but have a variety of poses and come in different colors and types.

Tim Mee frontiersmen from Victory Buy
Recasts of Revolutionary War figures from MPC and Marx are out there. You can also find recasts of Marx frontiersmen. There are a few hobby makers who produce Revolutionary War Figures, among the Barszo and Call to Arms / Accurate

Frontiersmen from Victory Buy - Click here

For BMC, Call to Arms MPC and recast, see Toy Soldiers depot - click here

Recasts of Timpo and Airfix Napoleonic soldiers are out there. Sets are also available from Call to Arms.

Molds for those good souls who cast their own are available from several sources. Nurnberger Meisterzinn makes a set of Seven Years War Molds that can also be used for the American Revolution. A few can even produce Napoleonic. There are in the 40-42mm scale and some are more like semi-rounds.

From Castings Inc Series 1 single cavity metal mold.
Castings Inc / REB toys had a series of metal molds that make Revolutionary War and Civil War Figures. These are the Series I single cavity molds. They make a Revolutionary War militiaman in hinting shirt, #1., British rifelman #3,.Black Watch Scotsman #5 , Pennsy Rifleman #6, Marine #8, Jersey Blues #10, Continental soldier #11, and Spanish Grenadier #12. A change in paint could turn #3, #10 and #11 into other armies. I have a lot of fun painting and casting these, by the way.



Download their catalog here: http://www.miniaturemolds.com/media/Catalog0225.pdf

American Officers from Dutkins Molds
Dutkins makes a handful of Revolutionary War and French & Indian War molds. The Indians can be used for the Revolution, too. Among the figures are Rogers Rangers, Eastern Indians, Americans and British. They run a bit bigger than 54mm and the details are thick, but they paint up nice. There are infantry and cavalry figures. Dutkins also makes Napoleonic molds.

54mm molds http://www.dutkins.com/catalog/index.cfm?companyid=22

Castings Inc Revolutionary War solders from Series 1 molds
Complete catalog - http://www.dutkins.com/

Dunken makes its own molds and also carries the Irish-made Prince August Line for the US. They have a line for Alamo, and Prince August makes 7 Year War and Napoleonic 54mm. http://dunken.com/

For people in Britain and Europe, Prince August of County Cork, Ireland makes the 54mm 7 Years War and Napoleonic line as well as 40mm scale semi-round circa 1750 http://www.princeaugust.ie/
NJ soldiers from Castings Inc Series 1 mold

Monday, September 14, 2015

OMOG - Supplements in the Works

Three additional projects have been launched to add to the OMOG games. OMOG and OMOK are very basic skirmish games for toy soldiers. The OMOG games cover the standing armies of their times. They work because the armies of an given era tend to arm small units with comparable equipment. For instance, a squad of solders in World War II was usually 10 to 15 men, including a commander, riflemen and a three-man automatic rifle or light machine gun section. In the 19th Century, the small unit normally had the same number of men led by an officer with sword and pistol. This is all basic and allows for a simple, fast and fun game. I have purposely avoided complexities to keep OMOG and OMOK playable according to their original purpose:

Easy to play toy soldier games that can be played anywhere with a minimum of special equipment. A 6" measuring stick (any ruler will do), common 6 sided dice or home–made spinner, and a bag of army men for the game you are playing. The basic system of movement remains pretty much the same for all OMOG and OMOK games. In fact, most of the differences in each version take into account the weapons and tactics available to small units in a given era.

I already have OMOG Muskets for 1701-1849 style wars and OMOG Oldstyle for a game like Little Wars getting ready for upload.

Three things came up. Since last year, I have been working on a Space version of OMOG. I was recently asked about a Samurai and Ninja version. Then there is the matter of using OMOG 19C for colonial wars. It does not cover the native armies that were short on firearms very well. I had toyed with the idea of making entirely new games but now feel that a supplement to existing rules would be best.

OMOG Advanced covers modern combat. With a little work, the weapons firing could be converted to the use of energy weapons common to science fiction stories. Other weapons would also take a little tweaking, as would be the addition of armor for space. Things like low gravity and toxic atmosphere could also be added. The big problem is keeping it simple. I have been watching science fiction since I was a child. There were Flash Gordon and th Century, the original Battlestar Galactica, Space 1999, Starship Troopers, Space Above and Beyond, and Farscape. There is a lot and it has to be sorted out and reconciled into a single simple system. Unlike other games like Laserblade, OMOG is a squad-level battle that follows military lines. The space supplement may take a while longer.
Buck Rogers serials rerun on Saturday morning TV, Star Trek (Original, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise), Star Wars, Buck Rogers in the 25

I was asked about a Samurai Game. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the easiest and most practical route be to would make a supplement for the OMOK Medieval Game. A Samurai Game would have to be a separate thing with a few rules unique to it to capture the flavor of the Samurai genre. The supplement would have to take into account the specialized weaponry and ways for fighting. Progress is being made..

Next comes the Colonial era of the later 19th Century There’s the Sudan, Egypt., Zulu Wars, French in North Africa, American West, India’s Northwest Frontier, Deutsche Sudwest Afrika and the Boxer Rebellion, to name a few. The OMOG 19C rules covers most of it. The trick here is to arrange numbers so that native units that are largely armed with close combat weapons can strike a balance with well-armed colonial forces. Also, working up a chart to take into account some of the unusual native weapons.

There are a few things to work up. For instance, natives would have old matchlocks or flintlock muskets to confront troops with rolling block or breech loading rifles. Some natives may also have captured rifles with very limited ammo. How to account for muskets against cartridge rifles? There are ideas, but the trick is in seeing how they work into good rules. These are games and playability is an essential consideration.

To put it bluntly, I believe that basic OMOG is a winning formula for quick, easy-to-play squad level toy soldier games. The movement system is easy to use. Shooting and resolving combat is reasonable, with various adjustments for the different eras: 1701- 1849, 1850-1901, 1901 - 2015+. and 1000 BCE to 1600 CE. There is also Old Style, which is like Little wars without actually shooting metal slugs at your costly miniatures. We can adjust it further for specific eras and conflicts. Play can be done with figures of any size. My original idea back in 2010 was to use troops from a bag of toy soldiers. They ranged from about 45mm to 60mm. Most of the common Army men were clones or copies of Tim Mee Vietnam troops, Imperial Desert Storm types and Matchbox figures/ You could also find bags of BMC and Americana Civil War, Alamo, American Revolution and World War II guys. The game can also be played with 20mm, 25mm and 30mm figures as well as 1.48 and 40mm troops.

These are infantry and horse cavalry games, so I have not included vehicles. Were I to do so, I would probably limit it to small vehicles such as Jeeps, kubelwagens, light trucks, tankettes and light tanks. The biggest of them might be an M3 Stuart, Panzer II, BT7 and Japanese Type 95. Of course, this would be a long time in coming and use of vehicles would be very limited. (If you want vehicle combat, try Tankplank and Tankplank Advanced Supplement.)

 You can find all of the current OMOG games here:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

OMOG 19C - Toy Soldier Skirmish Game for the 19th Century (American Civil War, Colonial Wars, etc.)

For those of us of a certain age, 19th Century toy soldiering was a lot of fun. Around the one Hundredth Anniversary of the Civil War, there was great interest in the War Between the States. The toy makers responded by making Civil War soldiers and playsets. As for school, there was extra attention on the history of the war and its heroes. We learned about people such as General Grant, "Uncle Billy" Sherman, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. Our lessons taught us about places like Bull Run, Vicksburg, Antietam and Gettysburg. Boys our age could play out the battles with bags of blue and grey soldiers. Fifty-plus years ago, we all had them.

Civil War toy soldiers could be an icebreaker. I remember when a family from North Carolina moved into our neighborhood. The boys were walking about the block when they came upon us playing with Civil War soldiers. "We have then too! If we get ours, can we play?" asked one of the boys. Soon our new friends were on the porch with us, setting up Civil War soldiers. The irony is that the same War that had our ancestors shooting at their ancestors was the thing that turned strangers to friends.

For boys in the early 1960s, all we knew of the Civil War was Blue and Gray. We did not have Zouaves or troops in Sharpshooter Green and Butternut. Most manufacturers had one set of poses that they would cast in two different colors. Lido, Tim Mee and MPC soldiers were like that. Most companies also made wagons and cannons with spoked wheels. Tim Mee merely took their green 20th Century type howitzer and fitted it with red spoked wheels., We were not all that concerned over such things. We just wanted to have fun.

Another genre we enjoyed was the Wild West. We had Cowboys, Indians and Cavalrymen. These were based more on television shows and movies about the West than the actual history of the West itself. Back when we were boys, the Wild West was very popular. Every little boy had a six-gun cap pistol and little cowboy hat.

Over the years, I had learned of other conflicts in that era from 1850 to 1900. The Crimean War pitted England, France, Turkey and Sardinia against Russia. The reality is that the war was a dark comedy of errors leading to combat casualties and even greater numbers of dead from diseases.

There were wars between Prussia and Austria, France and Austria, and Prussia versus Denmark in the years immediately following our Civil War. France and England were also involved in wars in their colonies and abroad. Among these were French adventures in North Africa and Indochina, British campaigns in Egypt, Sudan, South African and India, and joint forays into China. For boys in the United States, the one small part of all these conflicts was represented by toy Foreign Legionnaires ane Arabs. Lido and Marx made toy soldiers for the US Market, spurred on by a popular children’s television series about Captain Gallant of the French Foreign Legion.

For the US, the era ended with a war against Spain and combat in the Philippines. Britain had its Boer Wars and Germany clashed with its colonial subjects in its Sudwest Afrika territory (Today’s Namibia) Japan had its first modern war against China from 1894 to 1895. France faced troubles in its North African territories. Russia and Turkey continued to spar over the Balkans.

I took the basic OMOG combat system and tried to adapt it to the kind of warfare prevalent from 1850 to 1900. This was the era when rifles supplanted muskets. It was also a time of colonial-type conflict in Asia, Africa and the American West. Crude, early machine-guns were making their way into the battlefield as was better artillery. This is ideal for the skirmish gamer. He has a wide variety of armies from which to choose. OMOG can be used for many of them. It would work well for American, European, British, Egyptian and Indian forces. I hope to develop a more comprehensive Colonial Supplement one day to address such armies as the Zulu, Chinese Boxers, Sudanese dervishes, and so forth.

Right now, OMOG 19c Basic is ready to go. Give it a try. Tell me how you like it and what corrections you think need to be made. You can get your copies here:



For Civil War and most other soldiers of the era 1850 to 1900, click here for Toy Soldiers Depot

For Cowboys and Indians, a nice set for skirmish games can be found here: Victory Buy

Sunday, September 6, 2015

OMOG Advanced Corrections and Addition

OMOG Advanced corrections and update: I just got through fixing a few errors in the OMOG Advanced rules. These involved grenade, bazookas and recoilless rifles. Also added a rule for rifle grenades and grenade launchers like the M79 / M203. The updated game is at the links below.



Friday, September 4, 2015

OMOK Medieval Game for Toy Knights - for info and link, go here!

OMOK Medieval Game

The common image of Medieval Warfare is a battle between heavily-armed hordes of armored knights. The knights we imagine wore highly-polished armor and wore bright liveries. Book illustrations, movies and television shows have reinforced that image. The reality is different. The bulk of Medieval armies were footsoldiers with pole weapon: spears, bills and halberds.
Medieval figures are a big part of the toy soldier hobby. From toy figures by Johillco and Marx to exquisite, highly-accurate heraldic knights by Courtenay, they are many a collectors delight. Wargamers love them, too. Many a model of a castle has been host to a siege game complete with scaling ladders and trebuchets.

The Medieval Era for toy soldier hobbyists extends from the Viking Age to the passing of Henry VIII and the rise of national armies. In that time, the warriors went from unarmored Saxons with sword and shields to heavily-armored knights. Armies included knights in fine armor, sturdy men-at-arms and peasant levees. There were also brigands like the legendary Robin Hood and his "Merry Men". Of course, many have been replicated in miniature.

To get more enjoyment from Medieval figures, I worked on my basic OMOG rules. I felt that if the rules had merit, they would be suitable for Medieval skirmishes. The result was OMOK: One Man, One Knight. OMOK is a game that can accommodate small battles with Medieval and Ancient model soldiers. It is easy to learn, easy to play, and FUN!

The basic OMOK game is available for download right now.





Thursday, September 3, 2015

The German Army of World War II Part III 1943-1945

Panther Tank in Italy
The German Army was hit with three massive defeats in 1943. Stalingrad fell with the loss of an entire German Army. German allies Romania, Hungary and Italy also suffered tremendous losses during the battle. Romania claimed to have lost 400,000 men. The fall of North Africa meant the loss of 175,000 men and access to Libyan oil. The Battle of Kursk in August was a shattering blow to German armored might. An Allied invasion of Sicily and Italy served to drive Italy out of the Axis in September. Germany lost its largest ally and at the same time was solely responsible for slowing the Allied drive north toward Rome.

With this came increasing shortages in key materials. The Germans had already used one method to ease oil use. Long before war started, they opted to sue horse-drawn equipment as much as possible for the slow-moving infantry divisions. Everything from supply carts to massive 210mm artillery pieces were towed by horse. Seeing horse carts in Normandy, American GIs thought the Germans had been reduced to using horses by their losses. The truth is that Germany had been using horses all along.

One way shortages were reduced was in making uniforms. Pleats and rounded pocket flaps disappeared. The cut of clothing was simpler, using less time and material. Older troops told new recruits to hold onto their gear, as the new equipment was not as good. Cheaper cloth and cheaper leather were met with cheaper labor. Germany used forced labor, which meant an immediate drop in quality plus many instances of sabotage. High jackboots were replaced by short boots with canvas leggings. The troops called them "retreat puttees." Indeed, 1943 saw the German ground forces retreating on all fronts.

Another change in the Army was the increasing use of camouflage. Soldiers often wore their shelter halves as ponchos. Camouflage helmet covers were issued to some units. Others painted their helmets in camouflage colors. Officers and some troops had their tunics made in camouflage material. The camouflage smock, a cut of jacket used by the Waffen SS, was adopted by Army units. The difference was that the Army used its own camouflage patterns rather than those employed by the SS. Army and Luftwaffe camouflage were similar, for the most part.
Forced labor had a telling effect on German ordnance. American officers in Normandy noticed that German artillery were firing a lot of "dud" rounds. Less visible side effects were clothes and equipment whose thread unraveled. There were dud panzerfausts whose charges failed to explode because someone pout a handful of hand in it at the factory. America never had this problem because it used free labor who had an interest in a successful outcome of the war. As Germany manufacture suffered from shortages and forced labor, American equipment kept improving.

The German soldier in 1943 to 1945 was not only facing an ever more powerful and numerous enemy. He had to do it while his own equipment was getting progressively worse.
Most of the toy soldiers made representing German troops were of the early-war type. Late-war troops are a more recent thing. Though not well-reflected in toy soldiers or movies, the change in the appearance of German troops marks the course of the war.

Another of the ironies of the Wehrmacht is that their best weapon systems showed up on the battlefield while they were retreating. The supertanks such as the Tiger and Panther series came into use in 1943. Better rifles such as the MP44 Assault Rifle began to be issued in 1944. By then, Germany was losing. The super tanks proved no match for Allied air power. The Panthers and Tigers were great for tank-to-tank fights, but came up far too short when ground-attack aircraft entered the picture.

German soldiers were more dangerous in retreat then when attacking. They fought until their situation became untenable. Those who remained would retreat to fight the same way again and again. They were tough and steadfast, and in the end died needlessly. Their leader would rather let them fight to the death than save those he could be ending an already lost cause. The German soldier was a more a victim of his own political leaders than the allied forces who came to defeat him. Had it not been so, a lot of the men who were lost at Stalingrad, Tunisia and Kursk would have had a chance to fight another day.

In the end, the German Army had suffered greatly. While Hitler looked for a miracle weapon to save the day, German troops were being overwhelmed. Hitler’s insistence on fighting to the last man caused more needless death. At the war’s end, the most rare thing in Germany was a 23-year-old man. Most had been killed in action.

At the Yalta conference, the Allied leaders agreed not to assassinate Hitler. They did this because they realized that Hitler’s blunders were contributing to the Army’s defeats.

There is plenty more information on the German Army here. Scroll down to the Historical section


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The German Army of World War II: Part II The Afrika Korps

The Wehrmacht made few preparations for operating in foreign environments. It did not prepare well for Russia and its winter. That was one of its biggest failures. On the other hand, there were some steps made toward operating in the tropics. Germany had at one time maintained colonies and bases in Africa and the Pacific. Cameroon, German Southwest Africa (Namibia) and German East Africa (Tanzania) were German possessions until World War I. Germany also had a presence in Samoa, the international communities at Peking and Shanghai, and the Chinese port of Tsingtao.* The old German Army maintained a colonial contingent that garrisoned these tropical possessions. All were lost by the end of the First World War.

Perhaps the German Army never lost its feeling for its tropical adventures. The Wehrmacht eventually devised a tropical uniform loosely based on the Italian model. That is the only thing that was loose. It had a snug fit for a sharper appearance. For the desert, a looser fit is more comfortable. The Italians had operated in Africa for a very long time and understood the necessities posed by tropical conditions. They were especially good with the North African deserts. Italian troops were issued loose clothing. Many chose to wear short pants and sandals.

In military terms, the German Army was far superior to its Italian counterpart. Germany had better leadership at al levels and better training. Its equipment was more modern and robust. When Italy tried to invade Greece in 1940, it was repulsed. Germany had to come in to force the issue for the Italians. When Italy attacked the British in North Africa, they thought they were chasing a whipped enemy who had suffered irreparably at Dunkirk. The British retreated at first. They then counterattacked and drove the Italians all the way to Tunisia. Because British forces needed reinforcements in Greece, their desert army shrunk so much that it had to halt its counteroffensive. That gave Italy enough time to get help from Germany again. No doubt the Germans did not want to lose access to Libyan oil. They arrived and began operations, Their leader, Erwin Rommel ,was a dynamic commander who knew how to create opportunities and to exploit enemy mistakes when they occurred. He sent the British reeling back towards Egypt. So began the North African campaign, a back-and-forth series of battles wherein Rommel humiliated several British commanders.

Field Marshall Erwin Rommel
The Afrika Korps soon rid themselves of those tight uniforms and acquired more comfortable gear. Italian "sahariana" jackets were very popular with the Germans. And amazing as it sounds, the German army that was trained for Central Europe adapted themselves, their equipment and vehicles to war in the desert.

To his credit, Rommel was a man of honor. His campaign was devoid of Nazi atrocities and other shenanigans. He tried to keep the war as gentlemanly as possible. Of course, he was also brilliant. Rommel trained his staff officers to take command when necessary. He prepared his troops well and expected the most from them. Rommel also trained two Italian divisions. One operated so well afterward that the British mistook it for a German unit.

Indeed, two thirds of the Axis troops in North Africa were Italian. Though poorly trained and poorly led, they were numerous enough to make a difference. People tend to neglect mentioning them, focusing instead on the German Afrika Korps. In truth, Rommel could never have succeeded without his Italian allies.

Britain sent in a new general named Bernard Montgomery. He had new weapons, including the "new" Sherman tank. Montgomery was able to beat Rommel at a place in Egypt called El Alamein. In Fall of 1942, Montgomery’s forces drove the Afrika Korps out of Egypt and pushed them toward Tunisia. Meanwhile, a combined US and British force landed in French North Africa. They pushed the German forces there into Tunisia. Unable to continue fighting, German and Italian forces capitulated in 1943. Rommel had already been called back to Germany. Hitler refused to try to evacuate the army, leaving 175,000 combat experienced veterans to fall into enemy hands. (The same thing happened at Stalingrad.)

As uniforms went, the Afrika Korps looked like a motley band of brigands. As for fighting effectiveness, they were excellent. Had they been evacuated, the survivors could have brought their experience to other units in Europe. Certainly, that many men might have made it nearly impossible to invade Sicily and southern Italy.

One thing the Afrika Korps did was replace as much leather gear as possible with webbed or cloth equipment. Their tropical boots were mostly canvas with a leather shoe. The webbed belt was better suited to the tropics. Equipment was also repainted for the desert. The olive drab mess kits and grey helmets were repainted mustard yellow. The symbol of the Afrika Korps was a stylized palm tree with a swastika in the middle of its trunk. This was painted on vehicles. It was also marked on the left side of the helmet, replacing the black shield with eagle. Luftwaffe troops in North Afrika did not replace their flying eagle & swastika, which was on the left side of their helmets. As far as I can tell, the Luftwaffe did not adopt the Afrika Korps palm tree.

Temperatures in the desert can drop to 40 degrees F at night. That is why many troops on both sides retained their overcoats.

German 88mm Flak gun
The one weapon which the Germans had that was superior was their 88mm dual purpose gun. It could penetrate any allied tank. The version Rommel used was actually an anti-aircraft gun. The crew was in the open and would have been vulnerable to mortars or artillery. Rommel designed tactics to draw the enemy within range of the 88s. Many fell for the bait. In the matter of tanks and other weapons, the Afrika Korps was not superior to the Allied equipment. Only when the Panzer IV F2 arrived could their tanks outgun anything the Allies had at the moment. As in the invasions of Poland and France, tactics rather than equipment made the difference.**

Here are reliable images form a US intelligence manual.

Most sets of toy German soldiers made from the war’s end into the 1970s show Rommel’s influence. Indeed, Rommel made that big of an impression on the wartime and Postwar British psyche. He personified the German forces, especially the leadership. Toy soldier sets by Crescent, Lone Star, Charbens, Airfix and Matchbox all have a figure in an officer cap, a la Rommel.

That brings me to homecasting. For years, the only World War II mold around was a three-cavity metal one by Rapaport - Castings inc -REB. It made copies of three Charbens soldiers. More recently, Dunken made molds that copied the Matchbox Afrika Korps figures. Their officer is undoubtedly meant to be Rommel.

Below is one of the figures I converted into Afrika Korps. I will show how it is done in future articles.

*My wife’s grandfather was a Norwegian merchant sailor. During World War I, he was on three ships that were torpedoed. Prior to the war, he was on a ship headed to China. Outside the Chinese port, they had a brief run-in with pirates. The port, probably Tsingtao, was under German control. On docking, the ship’s captain reported the pirates to the German port authority.

A German gunboat was sent out to find the pirates. It did, returning several hours later with Chinese pirates hung from the railings. The Germans were firm when dealing with piracy.

**A common myth of The Wehrmacht was that their tanks overwhelmed the enemy with superior armor and firepower. Up until the Panzer IV F2, that was not the case. The early Panzer IIIs and IVs were no better armed than the enemy. In fact, most French tanks had better firepower and armor. The same problem arose when Germany first encountered the Soviet T34 tanks. The Wehrmacht’s advantage was its tactics for using tanks. The much-improved Panzer IV H, Tiger and Panther tanks did not arrive until 1943