Thursday, September 28, 2023

Reconnaissance Unit

 In the 1960s Roco Minitanks made a catalog of all their vehicles.  It came in several versions but the first one I got was about 4x6 inches and in all black and white.  At the beginning of the catalog was a series of unit organizational charts of American, German and other military units.  


One thing that ruined me for life is they misspelled reconnaissance, it should have two "n"s not just one according to about five online places I checked to write this article.

I always liked this one because it is a well rounded task force.  It has a medium tank to handle enemy tanks, four scout vehicles to perform the actual reconnaissance duties, an armored personnel carrier for troops who can scout dismounted, two light tanks for fast scouting and support, and finally a mortar carrier.  The mortar carrier can clear enemy infantry away so the reconnaissance can continue forward, or so they can drop smoke quickly and retreat if they find more than they bargained for!


I decided to do this unit in about 1968 and now in 2023 I am actually working on it.  My plan is to make several versions, starting at about 1955 until about 1984, using the M47, M48, and M60 series tanks as the main battle tank.  The tank in the photo I believe is an M48 medium tank.  I think this because the turret looks round, the tank is larger than that obvious M41 tanks at the bottom, and the gun seems to have a muzzle break.  That rules out M60 (no muzzle break), and the M47, which looks like a big M41 light tank.  Also the chart is dated 1967 when the M48 was common in US Army service.


So my first version will be:

Platoon commander:     1 x M47 tank

Scout Platoon:               4 x M38 Jeeps

APC:                             1 x M59

Tank Platoon:                2 x M41

Mortar Platoon:            1 x M84


It will all be Roco Minitanks except for the M59 which will be Roskopf, and the M84 which will be a conversion of the Roskopf M59 into the mortar carrier.  Except I will be using an 81mm mortar rather than the 4.2 inch standardized in the M84.  There was a proposal to use the 81mm mortar but it was decided an M59 was large enough that would be a waste to carry such a small mortar in such a large vehicle.  I think an 81mm mortar would be perfect in this role since it would deliver a higher volume of fire in a shorter period of time and for a reconnaissance unit that is more important than heavy fire, delivered slowly.  I have extra Roco Minitanks 81mm mortars from the Roco M3 halftrack.

I also plan to do two identical reconnaissance units like this one in olive drab.  The other one in all white Arctic camouflage as published in TC5-200 Camouflage.  Although TC5-200 did not come out until after the M47 was out of service I suspect it simply codified a white paint job already in service or from a previous manual.

Other iterations as they develop.


banzai55 said...

It would be fun to make a West German version of this unit, as the early Bundeswehr had some really cool vehicles - the Hotchkiss SPZ 11-3 Kurz, with 20mm gun; the 81mm mortar version, command versions, M41 light tanks, a Hotchkiss surveillance vehicle with mast mounted radar, motorcycles - and the postwar version of the kubelwagon

Mike Bunkermeister Creek said...

Roco made many of those vehicles and they are still around. My friend Randy at Fidelis Models probably has some of them in stock. I like the 1950s gear it has improvements over the WWII stuff but is not the high tech gear we got a few years later as technology continued to improve.

Thanks for reading banzai55.


jeigheff said...

Did Roco ever offer World War II organizational charts?

Mike Bunkermeister Creek said...

Good question. They did three in the catalog that I have. One a Panzer IV company.
The Roco Z-106/7/8 Panzer IV being perhaps the worst vehicle Roco ever made.

The second was a German Light Reconnaissance Company (spelled correctly this time) Showing SdKfz 250 halftracks which Roco never made.

They also did a Churchill Company. They did not make the Churchill until about 10 years after they published this catalog.

So their organizational charts were sometimes of limited value. Perhaps their marketing department was not aware of what products Roco actually sold.

Thanks for reading.


jeigheff said...

Thanks for the info. Providing TOEs to customers is a shrewd idea if the models needed are actually available, that is.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek said...

Back in olden times Roco mostly made military vehicles for late WWII German trains and Cold War era German trains. So most of what they made was WWII late war German and Cold War US and West German Army. I think they really missed out on a lot of sales by ignoring the miniature wargame market. In the 1960s there was no 15mm and no 1/300 scale stuff to complete with them. They should have done more figures and more US WWII and Soviet Union WWII and Cold War stuff. Even just two or three new vehicles for US and USSR per year would have made a huge difference.

Thanks for reading and commenting.