I have had a strange obsession with the three Indian/Pakistani wars, perhaps because I was brought up glued to the TV in the 60s and 70s, grainy black and white film of tanks I recognized from my Airfix models, centurions, Shermans, half-tracks, etc and a mixture of old British battles dress…It seemed more real to me than the somewhat abstract Vietnam scenes of endless bombs dropping from enormous aircraft.
Until recently however it was not easy to find out too much about the two armies involved, the internet has come to our aid! I purchased a few good books online, starting with the splendid Osprey book of, Centurion versus Patton Tanks, a most interesting read where the author maintains that technically the Patton was the better tank, but was bested by the wily Indian centurion crews more often than not.
There were some BIG tank battles in the ’65 war, my favoured period with the Indians fielding centurions and Shermans backed by 25 pounders and 17 pounder anti-tank guns and lorried infantry; the Pakistani army was based around American kit so they fielded many of the latest Patton tanks. They also used lots of Shermans as well as some Chaffee light tanks and even some venerable Stuarts. They also used British artillery as well as USA material, and could also boast a unit of mechanized armoured infantry in American M113s.
You can find the first article detailing my first forays into building this collection here. Since then I have greatly expanded upon my collection, adding more infantry, vehicles – and notably jets and railways. I talk about this in-depth in this recent On the Table video:
Adding More Infantry
The infantry looked exactly like British and or American WW2 soldiers and their equipment identical. Both sides used bolt action rifles and could carry Thompsons or STENs. The bren was popular with the Indian troops as was the Vickers medium MG, whilst the Pakistani side used Brownings and MG42s!
The new British bolt action plastics give me the chance to go mad and assemble them to my satisfaction. My first section is Indian regulars, but my second and third will have turbanned heads to show either Sikhs or other martial units of the splendid Indian army, and I already have a company of johnny Ghurkas!
It’s plain from looking at film and photographs that the Indo/Pakistan war that units were often scrappy in appearance with mix and match khaki/jungle greens and a mix of headgear and scrounged weaponry. Some Pakistani tank crews even, against orders, adopted a German panzer-style black uniform! Using the warlord range of WW2 sprues we can add all manner of differing heads, packs from any of the British or American plastic sets.
Next up is a couple of command groups and then a 3-inch mortar for the Indians and an 81mm for the Pakistanis.
Let your imagination run riot, some Indian troops on the Chinese frontier were equipped with British SLR FN rifles!