Historical BackgroundSAS stands for Special Air Service; it is a Special Forces unit of the British armed forces founded during WW2, Captain David Stirling was responsible for creating this elite fighting unit in 1941. The North African campaign was fought primarily in the desert, Stirling had become convinced of the concept of a desert raiding force, Its mission was to infiltrate the enemy and create disruption by blowing up airfields. Initial tactics involved small raiding teams inserted behind enemy lines by parachute drop, plant explosives and return to base via land extraction by the Long Range Desert Group. This plan proved disastrous on several missions. Undeterred, they modified their strategy. By refitting some newly acquired US made jeeps, they would be able to conduct their operations wherever they wanted and fight with whatever they needed. The field modifications enabled the jeep to better operate for long distances in the harsh desert climate. Numerous machine guns were also mounted turning them into lethal fighting vehicles. The result was an impressive 400 enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground in less than 2 years of operations. This remarkable piece of desert war machinery is the topic of this little modeling project.
Project BackgroundThe very first model I built 22 years ago was Tamiya's 1/35 scale SAS jeep. I was hooked on the hobby and a little obsessed with this vehicle ever since. 19 years later I've moved on to smaller scales and picked up a few new tricks to put up my modeling sleeves. I was itching to give the jeep another go, this time in 1/72 (braille) scale. I bought a set of the much talked about (in braille circles at least) Academy WW2 Ground Vehicle Set. It contained a nice new jeep complete with a pedestal mounted .50 cal browning M2 machine gun and a tiny little engine under the hood. The set also contained numerous jerricans and boxes which I had hoped were good enough, more on this later. In order to get started on this project, I scoured the web looking for war time photos of the real jeep. Every jeep had a different layout when it came to armament and stowage. I also looked at dozens of photos of other peoples models of the SAS jeep. These were mostly in 1/35 scale with a few 1/76 scale Matchbox or Milicast Models and the occasional Verlinden 1/15 scale version. There was also a rather rare 1/25 scale build from a Japanese modeler featured in Armour modeling magazine and a brilliant 1/6 scale mod by a local modeler/toy collector here in Singapore. With all these images flashing in my mind; it rekindled a modeling flame. I would build the best SAS jeep I could in 1/72 scale! The SAS jeep had 3 distinctive features which appealed to me. First, it was laden with numerous jerricans and varied stowage. Second, each jeep bristled with machine guns of Browning and Vickers make. And last but not the least - the crew wore Arabic desert head gear together with their army issue desert khaki shorts and shirts. I would not be satisfied until I managed to render a painstakingly detailed replica of this vehicle in miniature.
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