Thursday 22 June 2017

Too good...

Whilst clearing out some old files from my even older harddrive I came across these 5 images. They were taken years ago, but they reminded me how good this 1/35th diorama was (is). Made by my friend Phil, the single best miniature painter I have ever met... this is all his work. Genius.

It's the Battle of the Bulge, 1st SS at Stoumont. It depicts the moment Hauptscharfuhrer Knappich's Panther returned up the hill to Stoumont after an engagement at Stoumont Station, where Oberscharfuhrer Ropeter's Panther was hit and set alight by a US 90mm anti-aircraft gun. Ropeter was transported back to the aid post on Knappich's engine-deck after bailing out from his tank, his other crewmen died. Badly burnt, Ropeter's life was only saved because he was wearing U-boat crew oilskin leathers rather than standard-issue Panzer crew uniform.

Phil did all the research to get it all spot on... right camo colours, right people, visited the right building, etc... the build's skill and patients boggles me, but I was fortunate enough to have a private viewing and close inspection and take some pictures - and I just re-found them.

I'm not a military modeller myself, except building and painting what I need for gaming... but I have dabbled in 1/35th stuff though (inspired by Phil) and somewhere I still have the kits and extra parts to build my grandfather's Churchill tank in Italy... one day.  I see the two as different, if related (just) hobbies.

Anyway, this is just pure, shameless eye-candy... check out the ground work, it's brilliant. Love the subtle colour tones, the winter atmosphere and those trees, which are hand-made!! Almost unbelievable, this isn't his best (imho), that still goes to his Euro-Militaire 'best of show' winning Panzer IV and SS grenadiers during Operation Konrad.  Enjoy.


 1st SS commanders Pieper, Poetsche and Diefenthal watch on

 ?? and crew watch over the stricken Ropeter

In the Ardennes, trees had white stripes painted on them, for nighttime driving aid, great detail

Thursday 15 June 2017

DAK, On Review

In a couple of weekend's time, I’ll be down at Battlegroup South at Bovington Tank Museum to take part in the Battlegroup Tobruk campaign weekend. This weekend will see each player play three games for his side, Axis or Allies, to earn campaign victory points towards the overall winner. They are great fun days, always a big highlight of my wargaming year and getting to play, rather than run the event, is a treat and worth the five hour drive to Dorset. (I’m at Tankfest the weekend before too, so I get do it all twice!).

This year, we’ll be using the new Battlegroup Tobruk book, so lots of sand… with German and Italian forces taking on the Brits, somewhere in Libya, in late 1941.

For a change, I’ll be playing on the German’s side, so I thought it was time to get my DAK forces out, review them, mend any damage, touch up paintwork and see if their was anything new I’d need for the upcoming battles. I still have 2 weeks to get any last minute units finished.

Whilst the army was all out of it storage boxes, I took some pics… so here is my full DAK force in detail, as an example of a Battlegroup collection. Quite what I’ll use at at the weekend I’m not yet sure, I’ll probably change my force for each battle and try to get everything some table time. Time for list building later, first get the models sorted.

Here they are, ready for Rommel’s inspection, before storming off to smash the British… I hope! Can’t wait.
HQ Assets: Forward HQ SdKfz 265 (First to Fight kit), Forward Signals Unit, SdKfz 263 (Roden), Luftwaffe Air Liaison Officer (Ace car, Brittannia miniatures)

Infantry Assets: Schurzen Platoon Headquarters and 1st Zug  
(mixed SHQ, Britannia, Foundry and a few Caesar plastics)

2nd and 3rd Zugs (same manufacturers) 

Platoon Support Weapons, 80m mortar, HMG, 50mm mortar and AT rifle team (all Britannia)

The infantry's soft-skin transports (mostly pinched Italian trucks)  
(Britannia Dovunques and a converted diecast SdKfz 7 with AB passengers)

Tank Assets: 1st Panzer III Zug (PSC kits with extra Valuegear stowage)

2nd Panzer III Zug (as above)

Panzer II Zug (Revel kits)

Other tanks, a Pz IV and captured Matilda (PSC Pz IV and Lancer Miniatures Matilda)

Artillery Assets: Observer Teams, guns off-table (Britannia and SHQ)

Recon Assets: The armoured cars, gone a bit mad on 222s (Airfix kits) 
 and a SdKfz 232 (Altaya diecast)

Kradschurtzen Zug and 2 x snipers (all Britannia) 

Logistics Assets: Two supply trucks (Fujimi and PSC kit)
 Special Support Assets: Pak-38 battery (PSC guns, SHQ crew and Altaya diecast tow)
I'm missing the other tow... which I have, must find it. (I did, in another box, SdKfz 10 mis-stored)

Panzerjaeger I (old Esci kit with AB crew) and Flak 38 with captured British tow 
(Altaya diecast gun, SHQ crew and Airfix tow - gun went to the Brits).

88, must have, it's the law. (Revel kit, AB crew and Airfix kit for the on-tow version)

Converted Flak Vierling, not for this time, but it'll come in useful in my planned 1943 Tunisia games. (Converted PSC truck, diecast gun and AB crew)

 Additional Fire Support Assets: Stuka, what else? (Hobbyboss kit)

Tuesday 6 June 2017


The final installment of the Konigsberg campaign… it’s game 7, and the last Germans in the city are dug-in in hedgehog defence around the Konigsgarten, under which (actually the Opera House I believe) was General Lasch's command bunker. It would be a mini pre-run of Berlin and the Reichstadt.

The scenario was Das Hexenkessel, with the Germans almost surrounded. They were well dug-in, in trenches with barbed wire across the gardens, with 2 fortified buildings (the Opera House and the University building - both also objectives). These also had cellars, very good against IDF. There was only a single StuG III still rolling, and an 88 plus loader team dug-in too. The infantry were mostly Volksgrenadier with some auxiliary Volkssturm as well. Their rather feeble morale was backed by all three special rules to boost it, ‘To the Last Bullet’, ‘Backs to Berlin’ and a Field Gendarme team. They all gave the Germans +11 BR!! They were determined to fight to the very end.

Here was my strike force, something a bit different, very good assault pioneers infantry and my JS-II platoon, heavy tanks (there first ever roll out as a full platoon). I would use my on-table 122s for direct fire to bring down buildings. The infantry platoon's job was to pair-up with the pioneer squads, they would lead (ie take the hits and pins) and the pioneers would follow-up, use Reserve moves to get close and then unleash flame-thrower naughtiness! No off-table artillery, points did not allow anything but medium mortars, way too feeble in a city fighting and this was an experiment… to go in hard with the infantry supported by big-ol' 122mm HE from the howitzers and tanks. Mostly though, it's models that needed tabletop time.

Pioneer Assault Platoon    
JS-II Platoon - 5 tanks                  
1 Supply Truck                
122mm Artillery battery - 2 guns   
Inf Platoon       
IL-2 Timed Strike                
Totals  750 points    40 BR    4 off, 0 scouts

Time to finish this…

After deployment the game started badly, for me… first ambush fire killed 1 artillery man on the 122 gun facing the Opera house, (with the mission of making sure Wagner was never heard here again). The rest of the gunners ran! Cowards. Plan down the pan in about 5 seconds.

Then the other gun made up for it. 2 hits on the university building and then 3 sixes for structural damage brought it down! Boom!! 4 German squads were wiped out in the collapse, MG team, stretcher party, HJ AT team (all those Panzerfausts). Ouch! After just 2 orders, we both already had 4 counters each… this wasn’t going to last long.

In the end the game lasted about 3 hours. Hard fighting at close quarters, my flamethrowers did the business and wiped out 2 German rifle squads (the Volkssturm didn’t sign-up for that treatment). The JS-II arrived to support and I went for surrounding the enemy, rather than one strong attack, making the most of the scenario’s deployment rules. I lost one JS-II to a Panzerfaust strike, but the others all did good work. The first hit and destroyed the 88 after its frontal armour had survived the incoming ambush fire. Two others hammered a trench line and wiped out the men inside with 122 hits… the last man was pinned and fled. The final JS-II got into a prolonged duel with the StuG, which bounced 4 shell impacts off its frontal armour… get in… so nice to survive German AP shots for once. It’s return fire missed and it ran out of ammo, including using HE shells at the StuG. But when the re-supply truck arrived, it re-armed and the next shot vapourised the last AFV in Konigsberg… German counters were building fast…

My Sturmovik timed strike arrived, buzzed the gardens, but was driven off by small arms fire on ambush, drat! The pilot flew off to find an easier target. My infantry, on the roof tops, shot-up his supply wagon, killing all the horses and one squad moved up to grab the big pile of rubble which had been the university objective, and then my ZSU-37, in a very rare outing, finished the game, its 37mm cannon wiping out a Volkssturm machine gun team in a blaze of fire. The last Germans had had enough. The white flag was flying over the Opera House. General Lasch emerged from the cellar to find JS-IIs parked on his lawn, literally.

It had been short and brutal, merciless from the Red Army, but like two boxers slugging eachother in the face. Even so, my BR counter total (amazingly, I can find 4s with monotonous regularly) had reached 37 from 40, so it was close. The Germans had broken at 41 (with their +11).

It has been a top campaign, the 3 VPs for the Russian win makes the campaign victory points stand at Germans 8, Russians 7… close, but the German’s squeaked it… winning 4 from 7, with 3 Russian wins. We have glutted ourselves on FotR goodness, I really love the feel of these games over 1944.

Sturmovik's eye view of the Konigsgarten and Opera House before German deployment 

 Germans deploying, making a mess by digging up the park. 

The objective, command bunker/Opera House... bit wierd, but that's how it was. 

 122 howitzer abandoned after first ambush fire shot of the game. 

 StuG vs JS-II, the mismatch. 

JS-II wins... but it made hard work of that, mainly due to lack of ammo. 

 Not this one, roof top Panzerfaust... err, watch out for them. 

88 in the park. Dug-in with loader team, a tough nut. Unless it rolls a 1 for morale and auxiliary gunners all do-one!  

 The JS-II claiming that kill, having worn an 88 shell of the front armour... nice! 

German Senior Officer, co-ordinating the last stand from the Opera House, they're not playing Verdi tonight!

JS-II clearing the trench line (there's nobody left in it). 
Infantry have the building, a second objective. 

 Bit of battlefield wreckage...

Bringing the gardens under HE fire...

Endkampf... Herr General Lasch, the Red Army is parked outside, they'd like a word! 

Time for a change of scene now. Maybe away from WWII for a few games… I hear the bugles call for some Longstreet ACW action… or maybe my Romans are due a few battles in Solders of Rome (coming one-day).