Monday 26 March 2012

Preparing for the front

This week has seen me rushing to get everything ready for the forthcoming big game, to be fought out this weekend in Ireland. I had a few models to get finished and the rest needed re-touching, as most of my models have seen long, hard service since they were originally painted. The infantry had a few bent guns and ugly chips which have now all been sorted - got to look their best for the forthcoming battle! The standard looks rather high.

Here are a few shots of the stuff I'll be packing up for Ireland, ready to meet the British at Tilly. Still got a few bits to re-rouch, but the bulk of it is complete. It is building up to be a top game, and I'll definately post some photos here (if we win!).

 The Battlegroup HQ in discussion over who will be making the ersatz coffee
 STuG. A new set of shurzen is in prepartion before heading into combat.
The radio van

The big cat

 The mighty FAMO.

HMG team in a bush!

Panzerschreck team

MMG team, part of my grenadier platoon

Rifle section and panzerfaust

A second MMG team

Second rifle section

The Platoon HQ section

Friday 23 March 2012


Played an intro-game of my forthcoming 'Normandy Firefight' rules for a friend, and a cracking evening’s entertainment it turned out to be at the White Hart in Nottingham (not the drinking, the gaming!). 

I played the Germans, controlling 4 lowly Landsers, armed with Kar98Ks and a single MP40. My opponent controlled a 5-man American patrol sporting M1 Garands, a Thompson and a M1 carbine. His mission was to locate and search a White Scout Car that had hit a mine and been knocked out whilst carrying an intel-officer. He had to clear it out of any sensitive maps, etc. So he had to get there, search it (we called that a D6 actions) and get away off his table edge again, whilst the German patrol fought to stop him.

The game played out really well, with the Americans advancing by bounds, one on the move with one covering, whilst the Germans fanned out and took a few pot shots to keep their heads down. Braving the fire two GIs pushed through a hedge and rushed the exposed scout car, bullets zinging passed they made it, and, hiding behind it, set too searching inside. Meanwhile, their sergeant kept the Germans pinned with his M1 carbine, trading with the German sergenat's MP40.

In the bocage-lined lane the US officer blazed away with his Thompson and had my single landser pinned in the ditch. When he did try to advance a grenade came winging his way, which sent him diving back into the ditch! That explosion bought the search-team time to fallback (run away!). I managed to hit one, but just nicked him, and he kept running. 

The retreat was a bit fraught, a second GI was hit in the chest, but didn’t go down, bravely fighting on with his M1 Garand hammering away up the lane. I tried to throw a stick grenade after the retreating Americans, but it missed wildly and the US troops were last seen sprinting away up the lane, rescued maps in hand.

In the course of the fire fight I lost 1 man killed in action, another wounded and captured (after being treated by the US combat medic who showed up at the end), a third man was lightly wounded but able to withdraw, with just one man surviving unscathed. The US had two wounded: one scratched and one badly with a sucking chest wound!

The rules played well and it was an exciting engagement. The book is back from the printers next week, and should be available through North Star figures soon after that. Also look out for an example-of-play/battle report in WI this month. I’ll be running a Firefight Normandy game at Partizan in May, so do drop by, say hello and take a look.

Here are some shots of the game in progress.

 A US GI covering the lane

On patrol. A German Landser watches across the fields after deployment.

An abandoned Sherman provided good cover on the German's right, but this Landser got pinned there and refused to come out!

The German Feldwebel sneaks into the orchard, covered from far behind. 

The US Officer cautious covering the bocage-lined lane. Beyond the farm cart is a camouflaged German!

 A GI keeps low during the fire fight along the lane, when he knelt up he got shot through the chest!

Monday 12 March 2012


Well, it’s taken a few weeks, but I have finally been able to get a move on with my latest German armour (see February). Here are some photos of the work as it stands - almost complete. I have to add a few extra crew (especially to the FAMO), and some final highlights and details need picking out, but I’m pretty happy with the results so far.

All were base-coated in Tamiya dark yellow, and the camouflage was added by dry-brushing with Vallejo German Uniform and German Camo Medium Brown. The whole model was then given a very light dry-brush dusting with Vallejo Khaki Grey and Dark Sand mixed to lighten at the edges. Once this was complete, I over-painted tyres, tracks, weapons etc in black, and highlighted with Vallejo Black Grey (a very dark grey).

After decals, all have had generous amounts of Woodland Scenics clump foliage added, which hides a lot of errors ;-).

The final models have been given a bit of dusting in weathering powders, and a light spray of matt varnish (risky!), to help seal it. The weathering powder really helps matt down the final model, but too much will obliterate your careful highlighting. It will wear in time, but can always be touched up again.

Captured Panhard 178

FAMO and detail of stowage (crew to follow).

Armourfast STuH 42

Schwimmwagen and Fallshirmjäger crew (SHQ Kettenkrad crew actually, pinched from a surplus Kettenkrad)

Kfz 19 Radio Van (build problems hidden under foliage).

At the same time I wrecked this old STuG IV that has been lying in my bits box for years, as a piece of terrain or objective marker.

Just the infantry MG teams to follow by the end of March.

Sunday 4 March 2012


Friday night saw a chance for me to give my completed Russians a run out in a Kursk Attack/Defence scenario. It was a small-ish game (to have a hope of finishing), with the Russians dug-in to their trench-line and bunkers with the German blitzkrieg in full attack.

I used an infantry-based force of two rifle platoons (one on the right, one on the left), supported by 2 dug-in T-34s, a 45mm anti-tank gun, maxim MG, 18” of trenches, 2 bunkers a few stretches of barbed wire.
The German panzer attack would consist of a Pz III squadron, and panzer grenadier platoon in trucks supported by a light and medium mortar team and a tripod mounted MG34. The main threat would be the single Tiger tank (also the supreme commander), with a timed 105mm barrage due to impact on turn 3. 

Somewhere on the steppes of the central Russian uplands. Trenchline in the centre, anti-tank bunker on Point 70.2 in the right foreground.

Having deployed my defenders in my half of the table, the Germans began their attack moving through a small village, with the Panzer IIIs on their left, facing-off the two dug-in T-34s. The Tiger was in the centre, hanging back to uses its long range hitting power, whilst the full strength of the panzer grenadier platoon would advance on the right to attack my anti-tank gun in its bunker on top of Point 70.2 (an objective). 

I deployed first platoon on the left, 3 squads in the trenches and bunker and 1 hanging back in reserve, platoon HQ observing from the windmill on the hill. Second platoon were hunkered down in the cornfields on the right, protecting the dug-in T-34s, again 3 squads forwards and 1 held back as a reserve. 

The Germans began by launching a fusillade of HE at the T-34s to suppress them, not trusting their 50mm guns to penetrate my dug-in armour. This would continue throughout, as the PzIII unleashes all the HE they had to keep the T-34 crews shaken. 

In the centre the Tiger predictable moved into position in the village,  took careful aim, and its 88mm tore a T-34 apart. Little I had could touch that beast!

The Tiger takes aim at long range.

 The panzer grenadier platoon's trucks move up under MG fire.
Panzer III on the German right, dueling with the T-34s.

The crux of the battle would the infantry fight on my left, defending Point 70.2 and its bunker. The panzer grenadier’s trucks advanced under long-range Maxim MG fire into the safety of a ravine and disembarked all their squads, machineguns and mortars before they emerged over the ridgeline, two rifle squads pressing forwards supported by hails of fire from their 4 machine guns and 2 mortars. This kept the Russian heads down, although my bold anti-tank gun crew returned HE fire across the hillsides. I quickly moved both my reserve rifle squads to support my left, advancing to engage at close range, which stalled the German advance in the valley between both hills.

The focus of the German attack, my anti-tank bunker (and supporting rifle squad), the Tiger has just advanced to engage. The assaulting German squads are held up in the valley below.

The fight there developed into an attrition of suppressing fire, my squads being suppressed, then the Germans, and neither side getting anywhere fast.  Even the German’s timed 105mm barrage impact did little damage, and it seemed the objective wouldn’t fall. It was obvious the grenadiers needed some heavier HE support, so the Tiger swung around to aid them.

One of my reserve rifle squads heading towards to Point70.2 to assist the defenders.

The grenadiers and supporting MGs press out of the ravine towrads Point 70.2.
Most of the suppression was caused by my 45mm anti-tank's HE.
On my left I pushed my infantry forwards to threaten the Pz IIIs. One German tank then hit by T-34 fire and destroyed, and another survived 3 76.2mm impacts which all failed to penetrate (curse my dice). My infantry could have swarmed the Panzer IIIs, but had no anti-tank weaponry (magnetic mines required next time!). They contented themselves with throwing grenades and Molotov cocktails at close range and keeping the enemy tanks prowling the field well-suppressed for most of the game.

My infantry harrass the Panzer IIIs at close range, suppression at close range was their only option,
but it worked OK!

It was stalemate, and the defenders seemed to be holding, but then a few bad turns for me changed it. On the German left the panzer grenadiers support fire was gradually wearing me down, and the Tiger was hammering the bunker with 88mm HE shells, then the German’s two rifle squads braved a hail of Maxim fire to assault up the hill and into the bunker. In a bitter battle the anti-gun crew heroically fought off the first squad, but my defending infantry squad took heavy losses and broke, abandoning their position (somebody report them to the commissars!). Unluckily, I drew a 4 counter, and that just broke me!

With Point 70.2 about to fall to the Tiger and outflank the entire trench line the Russians turned tail and much for the motherland! Another narrow defeat. 

It had been a slow grind for the Germans, but even when it seemed like there was no way through they kept to their plan and their machine guns and mortars slowly had an effect over 3 or 4 turns -  sometimes you just need to persevere. My casualties totally just 13 infantry and 1 T-34. The German’s even less, 6 infantry and a Pz III, the vast majority of morale loss came from removing suppression, which goes to prove how important suppressing fire can be.