AT Commander's

SAS Jeep (Part Deux)

Here are our SAS and LRDG jeeps, affectionately known around here as Jeep 1 and Jeep 2 (in honor of Dr. Suess). Maybe jeep 2 is an SAS jeeps, too... we haven't decided. The line between the two organizations was pretty thin anyway. Jeep 1 (on the left) shows the SAS guys in raghead garb for sun protection. In Jeep 2, they're wearing black berets, like the British Tank Corps. In actual photos, you'll run across both SAS and LRDG guys wearing black berets, so I'm not convinced they had a real "standard" headdress. The first jeep we made was capable, but some operations need more manpower and firepower, thus the second jeep came to be.

The SAS wasn't the only organization to use the Jeep in the desert. The LRDG (Long Range Desert Group) used them, too! It doesn't take much research to discover that images of the SAS jeeps and LRDG jeeps are practically indistinguishable. Here's an image of an LRDG patrol. Note the jeeps don't seem to pack as much firepower as the SAS jeeps. These appear to have only two K-guns per jeep. (Late ETO SAS jeeps were equipped pretty much the same way.) This could have been the model for the Hasbro SAS jeep, since it came with only a forward-firing twin K arrangement. Note also that the LRDG jeeps don't seem to carry as much equipment along - presumably because they were resupplied by the larger LRDG trucks and didn't stray as far from support as the SAS did. (See The LRDG Long Range Desert Group site for more info - it's a great site! You can find it at

At right is an image of another LRDG jeep in a wadi. The crew has taken a few moments to "brew up" in the desert, probably with a stove made from a can, sand, and some petrol. Note the jeep only has a single, lonely Vickers K-gun on board. Note also the pedestal to the immediate rear of the seats. This could have been for the same gun ("Hey! There's an airplane comin', fix the bloomin' K gun to the pedestal, mate!") or it could be for another weapon (like a .50, .30, Boys Rifle, Bren, Lewis, or who knows what).

The Brits liked their water-cooled, tripod mounted Vickers MG. The Vickers Machine Gun was the standard medium/heavy machine gun of the British army in WWII. Despite the weight of the water-cooled Vickers, it was known for its reliability.
Ammunition: .303 SAA Ball
Length: 45.5 inches
Weight, Unloaded: 40 lb (not including tripod)
Barrel: 28.5 inches
Magazine: 250 round canvas belt
Cyclic Rate of Fire: 450 RPM

(The source for the above info on the Vickers MG can be found on The LRDG, Long Range Desert Group at

SAS Jeep Redux: Jeep 2

After making the mods to my first jeep, I was left with a gunless second clearance Hasbro desert jeep. It kicked around and became the kids' rough and tumble "beater jeep" for a while, until I ran across a water-cooled .30 Vickers from another JoeHead in and picked up a loose K-gun at a San Antonio GIJOE Club meeting (thanks, Johnnie!). Now I could make that second hull into another desert jeep! You can see the finished result in the image above. This represents, in a microcosm, the scrounging that the poor SAS guys had to do in the early days. The Vickers MG is mounted for the passenger to use from the seated position, while the single K-gun is mounted on a sponson so the driver can join in the "fun."

Since the Brits liked their water-cooled Vickers MG and it saw use in the desert, I figured that it COULD have reasonably made its way onto an SAS jeep. The Vickers MG was mounted simply enough... all I did was remove the legs from the tripod it came with, and put a screw through the underside of the hood and into the bottom of the MG mount. A single screw holds it all! Pretty easy, huh? I had to take the jeep apart to get in there, but at least Hasbro made it easy to disassemble the vehicle for mods like these! I had to remove a cam lock handle and trim the post to give the MG an unimpeded traverse, but otherwise it's stock. BTW, all of the mods were done while the jeep was apart - it was much easier that way.

Here's Mario manning the Vickers MG. This is a 21C Mario head on a Hasbro SA body. This sculpt is one of the coolest in a while. It lacks the classic Joe character, but has Italian character all it's own. I can just HEAR this guy saying "Mama Mia!" Plus, he looks cool behind the water cooled Vickers. Yeah, I have yet to mount the ammo box on the MG cradle and string a belt of ammo through, but until I get around to it, the kids won't mind - it still has a lot of play value! I haven't got any idea what the bulbous thing is near the muzzle of this MG. Anybody got a guess? I was tempted to cut it off with an X-acto and replace it with a stub of a "normal" barrel using brass tubing, but decided against it at the last minute. (I'd better figure out what it is before hacking at it with a razor knife.) If you know what it is, LMK!
I don't know who made this toy MG either. I suspect it must be an Ultra Corps MG. I picked it up loose from another Sandboxer, so I dunno what set it came out of. It's a groovy twin-handled (rather than pistol grip) .30, that's all I know. It's just a baby compared to a Ma Duce, but looks groovy on this jeep. I painted the barrel jacket desert yellow, to match the grips and seat covers. Mama Mia! It's a-Groovy! (Mario is going to remain a SAS/LRDG asset until someone makes an affordable Italian uniform.)

Here's the driver's side K-gun mount. You probably saw the mount I did on the first jeep I made (it's on my site, here, too). This mount is slightly different. The sponson itself isn't nearly as large as the one I added to Jeep 1, and the pedestal is a slim brass rod rather than a large diameter brass tube. I just drilled through the MG from side to side and drove the brass rod through, then bent it to shape and cut it to the height I wanted to fit in the sponson. Fortunately, toy guns don't have any recoil, so stability and tensile strength aren't an issue here. This approach made mounting quicker and simpler, yet doesn't detract too much from the vehicle. For more detailed tips on making the sponson, see my original SAS jeep page (it's here on my site somewhere - go to my home page and click on it). This sponson was made the same way, just slimmer. Again, I left the rear view mirror on the jeep, as a place to rest the K-gun's grip. On the real SAS jeeps, the mirrors were usually removed as they presented a danger of reflecting the sun and giving away the vehicle's position out on the desert.

One job of the SAS and LRDG troops was to gather INTEL on enemy concentrations, logistics, supply, and troop movement. They would radio the information back to higher headquarters on small portable, or vehicle mounted, radio sets. The BBI figure Douglas Caldwell came with a cool portable radio. Now that he's the commander of the first jeep, we needed something for this vehicle. At a San Antonio JoeHead club meeting, I ran across a Pearl Harbor radio that would fit the bill perfectly (thanks, Rick!). No, it's not a model of the actual radio used or anything like that, but this is a toy not a museum replica for cryin' out loud! Maybe I'll build a scale crow's foot, Yagi, or dipole antenna at some point... that'd be easy (the web is full of references). I thought the old ceramic VW bug fuses (with the metal removed) would make great 1/6 antenna insulators: that's an idea I'll explore some other day. For now, the aerial for this radio exists clearly in my kid's imagination or else they plunk a little lego antenna on top of the radio and call it good. (OT: In this pic you can also see the small hex head screw I added to the SOTW Lewis to keep the circular magazine attached. It's a cool gun, but it's awfully hard for the kids to play with when the ammo can keeps falling off!)

As with the first jeep, I painted the radiator behind the grille. I thought it was a nice touch and looked more realistic. This one didn't get a coat of Engine Black like Jeep 1 got, though; this one just got a single coat of German Grey. I'm not sure the subtle difference and weathered look was noticable enough to be worth the effort, so I didn't bother on this one. Note the lack of a condenser on the grille of this jeep. The condenser had already been pirated by my kids and added to an SOTW desert jeep that our ANZAC and AT guys share.

If these guys need more firepower, it's easy to mount an additional MG in the rear, using the pedestal mount that Hasbro so thoughtfully provided. I used a dowel that fit in the floor socket and drilled a hole in the top to accommodate the mounting post for a 21C MG. I glued an ammo can onto the MG itself and strung a belt of ammo through the breech. No, it's not "authentic," and the MG doesn't have a vehicle-mount cradle for the pedestal and all that jazz, but it looks fine at a glance and has super play value... it's a thousand percent more attractive than the GI Joe 5-star's 50 cal! These guys don't normally keep the .50 in place, though, because it adds to the height of the vehicle making them more visible and also making it more difficult to cover the vehicle with netting and hide it in the scrub during the day.

The desert raiders (SAS as well as LRDG) used sand ramps to extricate stuck vehicles from the soft sand. When stuck, they would cram the sand ramps under the wheels to give them some traction and crawl from the hole. I made these sand ramps from computer refuse - they were shields over unused drive bays. I found them in my junkbox. I connected two drive bay shields end-to-end in order to create a single sand ramp. Thus, the image above right shows 2 deployed sand ramps made from 4 drive bay covers. Sorry, I couldn't come up with sand for a pic today, so you'll have to see my lawn and make believe it's sand. Look at the big sand hole the jeep at right just crawled out of! Just use your (Insert Sponge Bob's voice here) "Imaginaaaaation!"

Now the original LRDG jeep has a companion. Whether this jeep is cast in the role of an LRDG jeep or a companion SAS jeep, it promises a ton of fun playtime for me and my kids. Fortunately, we had a couple of extra SOTW desert uniforms in the junk box along with those two black berets and the other stuff necessary to pull this project off. Obviously, this jeep represents a "use what you've got" approach - as the SAS was known to do - and as I did on this project! :- ) We filled this jeep with gas cans, cargo crates, tarps, nets, and all sorts of stuff we thought might be helpful. Not shown very well in these pictures are the other odds and ends we added, like a crate of hand grenades, a compass, spare equipment, goggles, bug-out kits, maps, flare guns, and that sort of thing. I think it came out reasonably well, and at least plausably authentic - and it still has a boatload of groovy play value!

Here's a final pic of our Desert group ready to leave the oasis and head out on a mission deep behind enemy lines.

This customizing was easy, quick, and fun. If you've got a desert jeep kicking around, find some old pics of SAS and LRDG online and try your hand at customizing one for yourself! Each real jeep was pretty unique, and its equipment depended on what the crew could scrounge up, so it'd be difficult to mess this project up! The plastic that Hasbro used on these jeeps cuts and drills easily. Practically everything on the original jeep unsnaps easily and can be removed without destroying anything. The 1/6 scale is BIG, which equals BIG fun! It's especially fun when the kids get involved and Sunday afternoon projects like this become family projects. Things don't always end up as intended when the li'l' ones are "helping," but at least they're involved and we all have a good time!

LMK what you think of this project, or any other stuff you stumble across on my website!

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