SAS Jeeps

SAS Jeeps: by Russell Eden

The SAS jeeps were used in WWII for long distance reconnaissance and raiding behind German lines. They had to carry enough fuel, food, and water and of course weapons for these missions so every available surface was used for stowage, which is great for a modeller, like me, who likes vehicles covered in weapons and stowage.

I thought about 1/35 scale but decided to carry on with my 1/48 scale collection. I got a Tamiya jeep, which comes with the US Army Troops “At Rest” set, expensive just for a jeep but you get loads of bits for stowage and a few weapons, so not all bad.

The jeep goes together very nicely, which is no surprise being Tamiya. I assembled a basic jeep very quickly – no windshield or spare wheels, etc. You have to cut the grill for the conversion. The instructions aren’t too clear but as usual I made sure I had plenty of photographic reference material. This info would also be handy for all the stowage and weathering. Once the jeep was assembled it was time for the fun bit, honest!
The SAS conversion is made by Hauler and consists mainly of a lot of jerry cans with etch straps and a multitude of machine guns.

This was going to test my patience, all the jerry can handles had to be fitted and being flimsy resin were a nightmare to attach, most wanted to stick to my tweezers and several were broken in transit. I gave up in the end and used plastic jerry cans from the jeep set where I could. This set also comes with several German jerry cans, great for a bit of variety. The etch straps were a pain to fit too – you really need 3 hands, or as Dale keeps telling an etch mate like a ‘bug’ or similar. One day, when I have the spare cash, it’s on my list along with an airbrush!

After several evenings with etch, superglue and resin all over my worktable the jerry can racks were assembled, now to attach them to the jeep. This was harder that you think. I use slow setting superglue but even this can set too quick at times, the German jerry can on the bonnet will attest to this, it dried to the strap crooked but who says they wouldn’t have moved in transit? The rear jerry cans, I fitted too far forward looking at my reference, but I wasn’t going to worry too much, I’ll just have to juggle the stowage. After looking at photos I decided to add a water bottle on the r/hand jerry can and I even added a strap out of spare etch, this little detail highlight made up for my gun nightmare. It’s the little things in life that can give great pleasure, or at least that’s what I tell my girlfriend!

Once the jerry cans were in place it was time for the machine guns. I was going to mount 2 on the front and possibly one or two on the sides, the SAS didn’t follow any specific plans and each jeep was different. These were the biggest nightmare of the build, the guns are mounted in etch ‘u’ brackets, easy, ish so far. Then the u brackets are mounted on the resin t-piece, again easy, ish. Once in place there are 2 etch braces between them – not so good – the instructions are vague and I glued the guns too close together. I broke one off and started again, after a very frustrating 30mins I had everything in place, albeit slightly crooked. I don’t want to re-break the assembly, as I doubt it’ll survive. Best leave it as is and hope no one notices, of which everyone will now I’ve written about it!

The spare wheels on the back of the jeep are resin and do not come with accurate mounting instructions so they were attached to where I thought they went. The sand channel was fun to bend without an etch-mate but I managed it, this is held in place by two very, very small etch pins which surprisingly the carpet monster didn’t eat.
I used lots of bags and canvas rolls from my spares collection to complete the look. I have left the back of the jeep empty for the moment but it will be filled with all sorts of stowage later.


Once the Jeep was assembled and I was happy with it I gave it an undercoat of Humbrol primer and left it over night to dry. It was then given a couple of coats of Humbrol Sand, I couldn’t get hold of my usual Tamiya spray cans so used Humbrol , which were very impressive and readily available.

Once dried it was time for a light wash of GW Snakebite Leather ( don’t ask – I didn’t name it but it’s a dark tan colour). Heavily thinned down, this bought out the detail in the jerry cans nicely. I mixed Vallejo Sand with some GW white and gave the Jeep a light dry brush for further highlighting. I wanted to be subtle with my highlights to make the jeeps look as realistic as possible (after painting fantasy figures for many years this can be difficult), too much highlighting and they look unrealistic, too little and they look like toys.

With the basic painting done it was into the detailing, this is where building it complete with stowage showed it’s problems. Painting individual bits was proving fiddly, we all live and learn, the next jeep has resin stowage in blocks so these will be painted before main assembly.

The tyres, radiator and German jerry can got a coat of black and the jerry can a white cross, this showed it carried water and not fuel. The guns were also painted black and then got a coat of GW Chainmail dry brushed over them. I painted some jerry cans Olive Drab, as my reference photos show not everything got repainted sand colour once it got to Africa. The stowage bags were painted either Khaki or Olive Drab. Most bits once they had a base coat were given a wash of my MIG dark wash and then a dry brush of the base coat with extra white.

I added pre-painted extra stowage to the back of the jeep at this point, a crate, boxes, ammo tins, a Bren gun and shovel etc. The fun will be having people spot everything I added. I also used German equipment, water bottles, mess tins, and an MP40 with ammo pouch. It was around this time that I realised the driver wouldn’t fit with the steering wheel in place – oops. I’ll leave it off the next jeep until ready. I painted and glued half the Dartmoor driver in place and worked around him. I got carried away with the painting so have no in-progress painting shots unfortunately.

Once everything was in place and painted I went mad with my new graphite pencil for stone chips and general wear and tear. The desert is harsh and paint never stays on for long. I tried to keep the chips to realistic places , more heavily at the front and where the crews would put their boots. Less so where general stone chips would appear on the sides and on jerry cans.

I will put a layer of MIG pigment on the jeep once it’s on its base. The rest of the driver was positioned in place and his arms attached, he’s not a bad fit however his right hand missed the gear level by several mm, so I removed the original gear stick and using a bit of bent wire made one the that goes all the way to his hand. This doesn’t look too bad and luckily is hidden by the figure and stowage. His left hand is resting on the steering wheel, sort of.

The second jeep is a Hasegawa one I picked up at the Hendon show. The basic build went very quickly. Although not as detailed as the Tamiya one, it has a detailed engine bay, if you wish to use it. I didn’t as the bonnet was going to be firmly shut. I shaved all the handles off the body and I added the front stowage to the bonnet. The rear stowage was already painted as it arrived the month before and was to be added after basic painting.

With the basic build complete, in about an hour, I got carried away and primered it. Half an hour later, (‘What!?’ I hear you cry. No, I didn’t leave it over night to dry, as I said, I got carried away) I sprayed it with Humbrol Sand. This came out fine and a couple of hours later I added the rear stowage – uh oh, first problem, the Blackdog stowage is designed for the Tamiya Jeep which must be slightly bigger on the inside as I had to shave the sides off the stowage and trim parts of the jerry cans to make it all fit. Once in place I added the spare wheels and tarpaulin block to the rear end ,this fitted at an angle as it slots in place with the other parts, possibly as it’s a smaller Jeep compared to the Tamiya one. Although the wheels are at an angle it looks very impressive, one over loaded Jeep! Just to overload it some more I added all the side bags and the gun mounts. The passenger seat back would not fit properly either with the stowage in place. Luckily I had a figure to sit in this seat so I cut a part of the seat out and glued it firmly in place. The hole isn’t visible (luckily), it’s amazing what a load of stowage will hide! I then added a few more bits of stowage including a jack and holstered pistols that I liberated from the Tamiya German tank crew set.

It was then onto washing and dry brushing followed by a liberal smattering of paint chips as per the previous Jeep. The crew were painted whilst I was building and painting the jeeps. If one bit was drying I painted the crew. The two crewmen in the Hasegawa Jeep are resin ones from Gasoline and very impressive they are too – I painted these with German red/brown shorts, sand coloured shirts with differing neckties. The flesh was GW Dwarf flesh darkened with a bit of khaki. Again these were given darker washes and a light dry brushing to bring out the detail. The other crewmen are from Dartmoor Models and cast in white metal – nice figures if not as crisply detailed as the resin ones. I painted these in slightly differing colours to the others – the SAS never paid much attention to regulation uniforms so this makes sense. They all have non-regulation beards too!

I haven’t had much experience with building bases so this was a bit of a learning curve for me. I have built three similar bases previously , two using Miliput and one using PVA glue and sand. I cheated with the Mongoose base as it was cast resin! The Miliput ones went well although it is expensive and quite hard to work with. The PVA glue base was interesting, I squeezed a load onto a wooden base in the shape I wanted and carefully evened it out (which is quite a hard job as it sticks to whatever you use as a spreader/flattener). Then I sprinkled sand onto the base and left to dry, for nowhere near long enough as it turned out ( a thick layer of PVA glue can take days to dry). I mistakenly thought it had dried and tilted the base to remove the excess sand and the whole lot slid off! DOH! I had to redo the base and LEAVE it well alone for several days. Very hard for me – patience is not one of my virtues!

OK, enough of my previous mishaps and onto this one! I wanted to make this base a bit more 3 dimensional so Dale kindly lent me his filler (Poly Filler). I tend to use the same size cases for my 1/48 scale vehicles, as supplied by These are the perfect size, cheap and usually supplied with a MDF base. One of the guys at work made me a load of wooden bases for them from a bit of mahogany supplied by new member Malcolm. Cheers.

Mixing the filler as per the instructions I arrived at a nice gloopy mixture. I layered this on the base and sculpted it into vague sand dunes. I then inserted the signpost and half buried it. All good, so far. I waited about half an hour for it to start to solidify and placed the jeeps into position to get the vehicle width. Carefully removing them I used a round needle file to mark where the tyres would run in the sand and after a suggestion from Malc to use the spare jeep wheels I lightly ran one in the grooves to leave a tread mark , cheers Malc ( I did have a bit of a blank moment over this!).

I then placed the jeeps back into position to make sure all the wheels were in the sand. It was at this point I think I got distracted briefly, and one of the jeeps stuck in the filler – oops. I’ll just have to paint round it!

The base was then left to dry. Unfortunately I think my flat got a bit warm and the filler shrunk and cracked as it dried (Bugger). I filled the cracks with superglue and a bit of Mr. Surfacer and left it to dry, again. This I assumed had worked and went onto paint the base using an old Humbrol Sand paint. It was the given a very thin wash Snakebite Leather and a light dry brush. I glued the second jeep in position and set about dusting the whole thing with my MIG pigments. The wheels on the Jeep were heavily dusted, as were the radiators. It was then I noticed the base had cracked again – bloody filler! Next time it goes in the fridge for a week to dry out gradually! I re-painted parts of the base, outlined it in black and glued some foliage in various places. Hopefully this doesn’t look too bad , we’ll find out on competition night, if anyone notices!

Not forgetting the last crewman – I glued him in place with his eyes meeting the crewman he’s chatting to in the second jeep. I did forget to put footprints on the base though – DOH! This is a bit of mishap as the Jeeps are quite low in the sand – oh well, will anybody notice…?

Overall the project went very well with, as usual, a few mishaps and lessons learned.

Completed Diorama

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