by: John Murcutt [ ]
Since the earliest days, modellers have sought to add greater detail and accuracy to their projects. Before the days of the major manufacturers, what are colloquially known as “Cottage Industries” strove to fill these gaps in the market. Often driven by modellers themselves, these small specialist innovators worked to design, master and produce update sets to correct inaccuracies or omissions, and to add greater refinement to the parts that are supplied in a basic kit.
It would be fair to say that some of these companies have grown to become major players in their own right. However, there are still those who recognise that as kits evolve, there are still areas that are overlooked by larger producers. One of the newer companies developing products for newer Allied Armour kits is Inside the Armour, whose initial releases of interior detail sets and a complete set of British maintenance tools, have been welcomed by those who build British armour.
Following on from their most recent release of photo-etched “Pyrene” placards for fire extinguishers, this set (#35024, “British Armoured Regiment Cap Badges”) is the first in a series of photo-etched regimental cap badges that will encompass not only British units, but also those of the other Empire forces: Australian, Canadian, Indian, as well as from the other colonies whose soldiers supported the Allies in their endeavour to defeat Nazi Germany and her Axis partners
Regiments and their identification
Historically in Europe, the French coined term regiment at the end of the 16th Century when armies evolved from retinues who followed knights into organised, permanent military forces. However, at that time, it was normal to name regiments after their commanding Colonel, and to disband them after the campaign or war came to an end.
The oldest regiments which still exist include the 1521 Swedish Life Guards, and the French premier régiment d'infanterie de ligne (“first infantry line regiments”) created from the ancient bandes de Picardie first established in 1479. In the regimental system, each regiment is responsible for recruiting, training and administration; each regiment is permanently maintained, and therefore the regiment will develop its unique esprit de corps because of its history, customs and traditions, recruitment, and function. Usually, the regiment is responsible for recruiting and administrating the whole of a soldier's military career. Beyond a soldier’s service, this will include Regimental Associations (old comrades) which offer continued links to the regiment, comradeship and benevolence, as ex-members face the issues of becoming older or are in distress. The associations survive when regiments are disbanded, or become part of a new one when regiments amalgamate.
In the British Army, for most purposes, the largest "permanent" organisational unit is the regiment. Levels above this are organised to meet operational tasks. As permanent structures, regiments tend to have long histories, often being measured in centuries. The Honourable Artillery Company is the oldest British regiment in existence, having been established in 1537. The oldest infantry regiment was the Royal Scots, formed in 1633. It is now encompassed in the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
The British regimental system has the tactical regiment or battalion as the basic functional unit; its Commanding Officer has substantial autonomy, as the divisional or brigade commanders do not normally have any day-to-day management responsibility other than when the regiment is working as part of other larger formations.
The long regimental history creates great esprit de corps in its members, but this can also create competition, where great pride can lead to inter-regimental conflict, particularly amongst the lower ranks. In the British system, a regiment can foster great pride that will lead to long family affiliations with sons and grandsons joining the same regiment over many generations. Alongside this are associations and affiliations of territorial units and the cadet forces. These links generally are maintained by a regiment recruiting within the same county from these other units, directly as well as by publicity from public events where displays include such things as the regimental band. All of it is to foster links within the wider community. Many such events will be held around the date of a famous battle where the regiment won honour, and in the main county town that has played an active part in regimental recruitment for many hundreds of years, or which has the main regimental depot within the bounds of the town. This is more than just recruitment, as it offers employment, either directly or in the myriad of supplies and stores that would have supported local economies.
Originally regiments would be easily recognisable by their brightly-coloured and highly-individual uniforms, as well as by the flags and standards that were regularly “trooped” before the men. But as uniforms developed to provide camouflage, the main identifying feature of a soldier was his cap badge, worn on all forms of headwear. Whilst cap badges were visible on all the forms of uniform hats and caps, it is with the issue of the “beret” that the greatest change to the visibility of the cap badge occurred, with it normally being worn over the left eye and the beret dressed to the right— although even here, there are certain customs maintained by individual regiments, both for style and practicality.
Relevant in this review is the fact that in the Royal Tank Regiment, their berets are dressed-down over both sides of the head, with the cap badge over the bridge of the nose, so that wearing headphones is more comfortable. As in life, there are quirks and not all cap badges are cap badges. As an interest point, I was a member of the 17/21st Lancers, and one of the greatest sins that could be committed was to call the “Skull and Crossed Bones” a badge. As those who have joined the regiment are instructed, it is a “motto,” with that motto being “Death or Glory.” Calling it a badge meant a very expensive round of drinks and/or some horrible task on the tank park.
In this point, it is easy to understand that in wearing a regimental insignia, you are a part of the regimental history. It is with this in mind that Inside the Armour has produced the first in a planned series of British Armoured Regiment cap badges in 1/35th scale.
The placards arrive sealed inside a small Ziploc bag, with a printed label. On opening the bag and removing the contents, you are provided with a single brass fret containing 8 rows of 12 individual cap badges in 1/35th scale for eight different regiments (in total this gives you 96 individual badges). Also enclosed within the bag is a paper key to enable location of the badge sets. No instructions are supplied, or are necessary. Simple research will provide many pictures of soldiers wearing the cap badges to assist with correct placement.
The individual etched badges are some of the smallest parts that I have ever seen produced, and it is only when looking under magnification that you can truly appreciate the work that has been undertaken by Inside the Armour in the production of this first set. Each individual cap badge is a marvellous representation of the real thing, and whilst there is some simplification of detail, it in no way detracts from the shape and form of the different badges.
The 8 regiments included are:
Royal Marines (RMASG)
Royal Tank Regiment
3/4 County of London Yeomanry (The Sharpshooters)
North Irish Horse
This small set offers the chance of adding a very important detail to British tank crewmen without having to try and guide a loaded paintbrush into representing such a tiny detail in this scale. The badge, when placed onto the beret, will look like the real thing, having the proper shape and importantly real form, not just a hint when replicated with paint.
I have been advised that when cutting badges from the fret, place the fret on a wide piece of masking tape and lightly stick it down. This will stop the annoying “ping” when a part flies away, never to be seen again! I would also suggest that it will be appropriate to use something like white glue to apply the cap badges so as to allow precise positioning, rather than cyanoacrylate instant adhesives, especially due to their very small size in this scale.
As the other planned sets are released, we will be able to refine the detail and sense of scale which figures add to the latest British and Allied armour kits now being produced in far greater variation than ever. A set like this also offers exceptional value with its ability to complete up to 96 figures. Obviously, Chris of Inside the Armour cannot possibly fill the wishes of each and every modeller in releasing all possible unit cap badge sets, but this is one case where communication may assist his future production plans. His intention to add sets of badges for Commonwealth regiments/units to compliment further British badges will be very welcome, I’m sure.