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Category Archives: Bolt Action Miniatures [BAM]

British WWII Paras

British WWII Paras

Part of the reason things were this quiet lately are these minis. Earlier this year we decided to do the “counterattack” at Pegasus Bridge for Crisis in Antwerp. Everything seemed quite fine. I had done the bridge earlier this year (pictures to follow when I finish the banks of the canal after my holidays), we had vitally all the Normandy terrain we would need and I had enough minis. So it was all easy-going. Well that was until we did a test set-up late August and I realised that I only had support weapons, heavy weapons and officers done for the Paras, but virtually no grunts. So that had to be remedied and here they are.

All the miniatures are from Bolt Action, sculpted by Paul Hicks. And I have to say I really love them. Amongst all the great minis he has been doing in recent years these have always been my absolute favourites since they have so much character. So it was a pure joy to paint them.

British WWII Paras

British WWII Paras

British WWII Paras

British WWII Paras

British WWII Paras

British WWII Paras

British WWII Paras

British WWII Paras

British WWII Paras

British WWII Paras

British WWII Paras

British WWII Paras

This last guy is no Para, but a commando. Due to the similar clothing on the mini I decided to paint him up while I was on it anyway.

British WWII Commando

British WWII Commando

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Our game at Crisis 2015: Battle of Berlin

Our game at Crisis 2015: Battle of Berlin

So, after keeping you all excited for days now, here are the game shots from our Battlegroup: Fall of the Reich  demogame at Crisis this year.

To be honest, it is hard to make a coherent game report out of the game, due to all the chatting with people, explaining the mechanics, answering where the vehicles and models came from and so on. But I will at least try for a very short synopsis:

The Germans were a mixed Battlegroup formed around a nucleus of a Volkssturm platoon, beefed up, by a squad of Hitlerjugend tank hunters, a squad of SS Panzergrenadiere in a halftrack, some Wehrmacht Pioniere, a SS sniper team, a Pantherturm, 8.8cm Pak “Scheunentor”, a Borgward Wanze, a Panther and a Tiger II (Commander).

The Russians had a Platoon of rifles, with Maxim, Ratsch-Boom AT-gun and AT-gun team, an artillery spotter team for their onboard mortars and heavy artillery, a squad of Assault Pioneers, one of Scouts, three T34/85, two JS-II tanks and a lone T-34/76 (Commander).

Julian and I started the game in quite classic fashion. The Germans waiting for the Russians to run into the traps they had laid and the Russian tanks trading were shots with the Tiger and Pantherturm at long-range, while waiting for the infantry to catch up and protect them from the pesky Panzerfäuste.

During this time not much happened. Much like the Demo last year, both of us managed to alternate at rolling bad so we did not take out much with our long-range shots. (The funniest exchange was between the Pantherturm and JS-II who had problems spotting each other and one of the JS finally did and hit, he got a snake eyes for the penetration roll [he would have needed a three on two D6] only to roll a twelve the next round.) The most impressive exchange was the Russian sniper and one of the SS snipers killing each other, which left the lone German sniper to kill one the artillery spotters, pinning the other. When the Russina infantry command was also pinned, this effectively rendered the Russian mortars and Artillery useless (especially since the the participation gamers would continuously forget to unpin them). We also found out that a fanatic squad of Hitlerjugend can well take out a squad of Soviet elite scouts at short-range with their SMGs and a little help from the Panzergrenadiere. And that even with our gods eye view of the battlefield, it is easy to drive a T34 around a corner only to find the road blocked with Czech Hedgehogs and becoming a prime target for a PaK as a result.

Obviously things really picked up once the first participants came and played along, driving their tanks and infantry on without regard for losses. At that time tanks started blowing up all around the table and infantry perished left and right. This was also the first time I saw man-pack flamethrowers in use in the game and boy are they deadly assaulting buildings, especially on a squad sporting a fair amount of SMGs! All in all we had a cracking day and I hope the players had one, too. I will leave you with the pictures!

Der Russe kommt!

Der Russe kommt!

Hitlerjugend tankhunter squad besides destroyed Tiger I

Hitlerjugend tankhunter squad besides destroyed Tiger I

Pantherturm and Volkssturm MG-08 team in the front, Tiger II in the rear

Pantherturm and Volkssturm MG-08 team in the front, Tiger II in the rear

AT-gun position with the Volkssturm command looking on

AT-gun position with the Volkssturm command looking on

SS sniper in one of the tall buildings

SS sniper in one of the tall buildings

The Panterturm again

The Panterturm again

LMG position

LMG position

JS-II advancing

JS-II advancing

T-34s advancing

T-34s advancing

Hiding behind the rubble

Hiding behind the rubble

Hitlerjugend about to take out the Soviet scouts

Hitlerjugend about to take out the Soviet scouts

Russian Pioniere about to assault

Russian Pioniere about to assault

Enemy at the doors

Enemy at the doors

Volkssturm advancing

Volkssturm advancing

The 8.8cm PaK

The 8.8cm PaK

T34-85 taken out by the PaK

T34-85 taken out by the PaK

The end of the Pantherturm

The end of the Pantherturm

Tiger II waiting behind the barricades

Tiger II waiting behind the barricades

 

Battle of Berlin infantry… scraping the barrel

Battle of Berlin infantry… scraping the barrel

So in the effort to catch up with all the stuff done in recent weeks for the battle of Berlin game, here is the first step… the last additions to the German infantry.

After having played WWII for well over a decade now, I have been in the comfortable position not to need too many new miniatures for this years game. Having nearly 300 Russians and more again when it comes to Germans (regular Wehrmacht and SS), there was not much to do there. Except for some of the more uncommon troops that were sadly thrown into the meat grinder during the last weeks of the war.

I know many people have reservations about using these units in their games and for some time I contemplated this as well. But as sad as the use of children and the elderly in fighting units may have been, it is still a part of history. And at the same time, very few of us (as long as we play ancients) have reservations playing Spartans, who were taken for training as soldiers at a far younger age, or Romans, who would eventually sell their vanquished foes as slaves. So I made the decision to use units of Volkssturm and Hitlerjugend in the game as well.

Before I start with the pictures, please note, that some of them have been edited (blue dots) to be in line with German law. Here it is a criminal offense to show certain symbols in public on models and such.

Up first are a few Volkssturm I did about a decade ago, which formed the nucleus for the force (and which I wanted to show for completeness sake). These are all Victory Force miniatures. The NCO wears the uniform of an Allgemeine SS NCO. Probably someone who managed to evade being send to the front all war long and now finds himself leading a squad of Volkssturm during the final days. And who will probably disappear to “get some orders at HQ” when the bullets start to fly. This model is a Wehrmacht mortar operator with his uniform repainted. All the rest of this squad are from the French Resistance line. Some had their headgear converted to make them look less French and more German and all have had the Volkssturm armbands sculpted on.

Volkssturm

Volkssturm

Up next are a bunch of vintage Bolt Action Volkssturm miniatures. Always loved the guy with the old WWI Bavarian helmet and was very pleased to finally paint them up, after they collected dust for ages. The guy with the Greatcoat came unarmed, but I felt he did not look like a medic, so he got a Panzerfaust from Victory Force.

It was actually pretty funny when Paul hicks passed by the table at Crisis and actually spotted some of his old Volkssturm and Russian minis.

Volkssturm

Volkssturm

Now I needed some numbers to field them as a complete Volkssturm platoon under the Battlegroup rules, so more minis were needed. These days this is easy, with the set from Warlord, although I still needed a Wehrmacht LMG team. So all the minis in the following pictures are by Warlord. Some of these are regular SS or Wehrmacht soldiers, but those either served as NCOs for the platoon or as part of the Panzergrenadier squad also used in the game.

And these later minis are up first. I had some bad luck with the fat SA officer, since the mini was slightly miscast, but Warlord send me a replacement in time. The battle never got close to him on Saturday, but if it had, I bet he would have joined the Allgemeine SS NCO from above to get some new orders at HQ. The NCO in the middle and the soldier with the Luftfaust to his right feature heads from West Wind productions. At one point I had used up all the not-so-cartoonish heads from the Warlord set and had to find something proper. The gas mask on the Luftfaust seemed proper. I know some soldiers operating the Panzerschreck without the blast-shield would wear gas masks to protect against the backblast, so it seemed sensible for this mini as well.

Volkssturm (leaders and NCO)

Volkssturm (leaders and NCO)

SS Grenadier with curved barrel attachment on his StG-44

SS Grenadier with curved barrel attachment on his StG-44

SS Grenadier with curved barrel attachment on his StG-44

SS Grenadier with curved barrel attachment on his StG-44

And now the regular Volkssturm.

Volkssturm

Volkssturm

The guys on the left and right got field cap heads from Victory Force. Again, I had only the cartoonish faces left for the set, so this seemed sensible. Plus if you look at the guy on the right, he is sculpted in a way, not a single helmeted head would have fit him. Even with this one, he still looks a bit like Quasimodo. Anyway, between these three, the one in the greatcoat for the vintage Bolt Action set and the one from Great Escape games (see below), there is almost a whole squad in greatcoats, which is nice, too.

Volkssturm

Volkssturm

The platoon also needed a HMG and I loved the option to give them a MG-08. Rummaging through my boxes of minis, I found a WWI HMG team from Renegade Miniatures. The size of the minis was right and since they were lying on their bellies, no huge difference in their uniforms could be seen. So I just took their heads off and replaced them with ones from Victory Force. At first I had decided to just paint them in the brownish Feldgrau uniform, to represent the cheap uniforms made with cheap dyes late in the war and given to the Volkssturm. But with their regular headgear and a lack of rank insignia (the lowest Volkssturmmann would not get any) I felt they could still be mistaken for regulars, so the armbands were a late addition.

Vollkssturm MG-08 team

Vollkssturm MG-08 team

Vollkssturm MG-08 team

Vollkssturm MG-08 team

And last, some Hilterjugend (and Flakhelferinnnen). 6 of the boys and girls would form a tank hunter squad, with the rest of them (and the Volkssturmmann) beefing up the numbers of the Volkssturm.

Up first is the set from Great Escape Games, which was easily my favorite from all these minis, for all the character put into the youngsters.

Hitlerjugend and Flakhelferin

Hitlerjugend and Flakhelferin

And the remaining minis come from the Warlord set once more.

Hitlerjugend and Flakhelferinen

Hitlerjugend and Flakhelferinen

 

Crisis 2014 – Our game

Crisis 2014 – Our game

OK, now that things have settled in a little bit more, here are some pictures from our very own game at Crisis too.

We did run a demo for Battlegroup: Overlord. All in all the game was quite uneventful. A British unit consisting of two Troops of Shermans, a Troop of Honeys, three sections of Motorized Infantry and the usual support up against German ad hoc defenders from a Wehmacht unit with a few Panzer IV, a Panzer V, a 5cm and 8,8cm PaK each, Infantry and Panzerwerfer. The Brits had to expel the Germans and if possible destroy them. In the end both sides traded shots over the river. The Germans seemed unable to hit the broad side of a barn and the Brits were able to hit, but their shots simply bounced off the German armour (and not just the Panthers armour). All the while the British off-board artillery did a good job at pinning German troops, which in turn did a good job at recovering. In the end the only casualties were a Firefly (which took a direct hit from a Panzerwerfer rocket) and a Sherman taken out on the bridge by a Panzer IV.

Before I give you the pictures, I would like to say thank you, to the Tin Soldiers of Antwerp for running another fabulous show. As usual I am really looking forward to next year. I would also like to thank Julian for being my partner in crime this weekend. Also thanks to all those who stopped by to ask about the game and the nice comments! Also all the friends (not going to mention any names, since there would be more than two dozen and I would not want to miss anyone) who came by or into whom I ran at the show. It was just great chatting to you guys!!!

Crisis 2014 - The whole of the table

Crisis 2014 – The whole of the table

Crisis 2014 - Sherman troop on the move

Crisis 2014 – Sherman troop on the move

Crisis 2014 - Panzerwerfer firing

Crisis 2014 – Panzerwerfer firing

Crisis 2014 - Firefly taken out be a direct hit from a Panzerwerfer

Crisis 2014 – Firefly taken out be a direct hit from a Panzerwerfer

Crisis 2014 - Panzer in defensive positions

Crisis 2014 – Panzer in defensive positions

Crisis 2014 - British Shermans driving up to the bridge passing the burning Firefly

Crisis 2014 – British Shermans driving up to the bridge passing the burning Firefly

Crisis 2014 - Moving up to engage

Crisis 2014 – Moving up to engage

Crisis 2014 - A bridge too far for this Sherman

Crisis 2014 – A bridge too far for this Sherman

 

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich AAR (somewhere in Germany)

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich AAR (somewhere in Germany)

Friday I finally wanted to give my newly painted British an outing, so Julian, Martin, his son Max and I met for a game of Battlegroup: Fall of the Reich.

Martin and Max played the British (decided by the roll of a die). Their troops consisted of a forward headquarters on foot, a forward observer team and a scout team, each in a Bren Carrier, a veteran infantry platoon on foot (consisting of a command squad, three rifle sections, a 2″ mortar team and a combat medic) as well a troop of Shermans (two regular ones and two Fireflys) and a supply truck. The forward observers had access to a two-gun battery of 25pdr. guns and a medium priority artillery request up the chain of command.

Julian and I played the German defenders. They had a forward headquarters team and a forward observer team in a Kübelwagen each, a sniper, a grenadier platoon on foot (consisting of a command squad, three grenadiers squads, a combat medic, an HMG team with extra ammo carriers and a 7,5cm PaK40 with extra ammo carriers) and a PzKw IV H platoon with three tanks and a supply truck. The forward observers had access to a two-gun battery of 8.8cm guns and the whole force  benefitted from two special abilities which raided their battle group rating (for those not familiar with the rules… the point where the whole battle group breaks).

The Germans were defending a small village somewhere in the west of Germany. The village was overlooked by a large hillside on the British table edge and surrounded by woods, an orchard and some yet unplowed fields. There was also the wreck of a Tiger tank left from previous fighting. We played the delaying action scenario, which meant that either side had to bring the others battle group rating down to zero to win. If neither side had managed to do so by the end of round 9, it would be a German win, since they had managed to hold up the allies long enough. For those not familiar with the rules: each time one side looses a unit (or something just as traumatic happens) or if the other side takes an objective, it has to draw a random chit. While some indicate random events, most carry a value used to reduce the battle group rating. For completeness sake, we had four objectives on the table, but these had little importance on the game since each side took the two closest ones.

The British started with just their scout team deployed on the road leading down the hill, but would get continuous reinforcements every turn. The Germans had to roll for starting forces and did badly. So the only troops on the table were a squad of infantry, minus their LMG element hiding in one of the ruins with and objective marker, the observer team hiding in the upper floor of one of the intact houses (leaving their Kübelwagen in the front garden) and the sniper hiding under the roof of yet another house. One of the PzKw IV started on the table as well, but kept behind the row of houses not wanting to present a good target to the tons of British tanks that might come onto the table in the first round.

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the German side

The British automatically got initiative on the first round, but rolled badly for their reinforcements (just two units and they picked one of the Fireflys and the forward observer team). So the scouts just raced forward to the woods on their right flank, while the observers in the other Bren carrier raced forward to a hedge to hide there and claim their first objective marker. The Sherman just rumbled forward on the road. There was not much for the Germans to do, except for the infantry to claim to objective marker by their ruins and for the Panzer to drive towards the left flank, to get a bearing on the Firefly, while hopefully being in a position where other British tanks would not be able to get a shot at it once they arrived on table. The forward observers though called for an artillery strike on their British counterparts which was not right on spot, but close enough to pin the British observers and rattle the crew of the Firefly.

PzKw IV in firing position

PzKw IV in firing position

The next round the Brits had the initiative (actually we just forgot to roll for it and just handed it to them). Again they rolled poorly for reinforcements and only got the forward HQ on table (with the intention of quickly unpinning the observers) and some infantry. All the British units advanced, with the exception of the scout, who just stayed put. The observers were unpinned. Now things were handed over to the Germans. They only had a 33% chance for reinforcements every turn from this the second onwards, but they got some on the first try and even 5 units at that. So onto the table came the other two PzKw IV with the supply truck as well as the PaK and HMG teams. All these advanced towards the front, with the Panzer that had already been on the table loosening off a shot at the Firefly, but missing it. Again the German observers called in their artillery and this time it was true on target blowing the Bren carrier with the observer team up and killing two of the soldiers in the British forward HQ. This meant that the British would be unable to call for artillery of their own for the rest of the game.

PzKW IV

PzKW IV

The next round was actually quiet uneventful. The Germans just kept on advancing and the Panzer on the left flank and inside the village fired at the Sherman but found their shots just bouncing off or missing. For once during the whole game the German observers were unable to contact their off-board artillery which gave the British some respite. The German HMG team took the other objective while moving forward and that was about it. The British rolled good for reinforcements and got another infantry squad, the two regular Shermans and the supply truck on the table. The forward Firefly shot back at its assailants, but missed both its shots. Otherwise the rest of the troops just advanced.

Sherman firefly

Sherman firefly

Holy cow... the British are advancing

Holy cow… the British are advancing

The next round was actually quiet with the two PzKw IV trading shots once more with the Firefly with similar results. The Panzer on the right flank advanced and began to fire at the scout team. The German artillery tried to take out the supply truck, but only managed to kick up some dirt. Again, the troops on both sides just kept advancing, with the British infantry taking another objective as well. Also the Germans moved the supply truck forward (they had previously parked it outside of view behind a row of houses) in anticipation of ammo running low on the two tanks that had seen firing for some time now.

Truck moving into position to resupply one of the PzKw IV [photo had to be edited to conform with German law]

Truck moving into position to resupply one of the PzKw IV
[photo had to be edited to comply with German law]

British lines

British lines

As usual, the next round began with the Germans taking initiative and again the Panzer traded shots with their targets, with the usual nonexistent results. The one on the left flank, which had started the game on table revered to take up ammo at the supply truck. The HMG team set up position in the middle of the village and the PaK moved forward for the final time on the right flank. And again the German forward observers called in artillery to take out the British supply truck. The fire only managed to shower the supply truck and the forward Firefly with dirt, but one shell landed directly on the rear Firefly, setting it on fire. The British also got their final reinforcements on table.

View from the village towards the British

View from the village towards the British

That is why the Germans called it the "Tommie Toaster"

That is why the Germans called it the “Tommie Toaster”

On the British side the infantry and regular Shermans advanced, the later to finally get within firing range. The remaining Firefly got off one shot before it ran out of ammo. And this shot hit the freshly reloaded Panzer, punched through and exploded it, too. The British were happy that they finally had been able to destroy a German target, but it was short-lived, when we drew an Air Attack counter instead of one that would reduce the German battle group rating. But no German plane showed up, so at least no insult was added to injury.

British advance

British advance

The next round saw the Brits actually win initiative the only time during this game. They rolled poor on orders and so there was only a limited advance. The Firefly was resupplied, while the lead Sherman fired at the PzKw IV in the village and set it on fire, too. Again Martin and Max rejoiced the fact that the Germans had to draw a chit, but this time insult was indeed added to injure, since Julian drew a Breakdown counter, which resulted in the remaining Firefly to run out of fuel, being immobilized for the rest of the game.

Shermans advancing on the village

Shermans advancing on the village

With initiative shifting over to the Germans, the artillery now started concentrating on the poor bloody infantry, wiping out half a squad on the British left in the process. The PaK finally opened up as well, but missed all three shots directed at the lead Sherman. The remaining Panzer fired at the Sherman as well, but failed to hit. But as an icing on the cake, the Germans finally got further reinforcements, too. So now the forwards HQ, one more infantry section and all three infantry sections LMG teams entered the table as well.

PaK 40

PaK 40

During the eighth round we saw more of what we had seen before… tanks and AT guns fringe at one another, but hitting nothing. Again the German artillery shifted targets to the scout team still hiding in the woods. This time their fire scattered badly, but landed virtually directly on the 2″ mortar team which had been sneaking up through the woods, wiping it out. With only one round to go and hardly any chance to bring the Germans to breaking point, the British decided to call it a day. Which was probably a good idea, since the German battle group rating was only down to 31 (from 37), while the British was down to 8 (from 32).

Shermans in the orchard

Shermans in the orchard

It was a bit sad, that on the German side the only damage was dealt out by the artillery and on the British side only by the tanks. But this was mostly down to the dice luck. Another deficit (and this was entirely my fault), was to give the British infantry no transports, which kept them out of firing range for the game, once we Germans were happy to stay inside the village. I guess i must really tackle some Kangaroo models or another M5 soon so we can use a whole mobile platoon for late war games soon.

PzKw IV in the village

PzKw IV in the village

But I think, that it still was a fun and taxing game. Had the British managed to keep their observers in the game (or even fired at ours), this could have turned around easily and Julian and I certainly felt that spectre hanging over heads.

 

 

 

 

The thin red… err brown line

The thin red… err brown line

As some might remember, I decided to build my WWII British forces this year. Essentially this meant starting from nothing and ending the year with at least the Infantry platoon, two Sherman and a Churchill troop, Bren carriers, AT guns and some Recce elements. If everything went fine also some Funnies and Cromwells, but I do not want to push things too far.

With the armour progressing well (only the Churchills and Recce tanks missing) it was time to finish off the infantry. Having finished all the support, command, NCO and squad based heavy weapons already, it was time for the riflemen now. And that was not the most entertaining work, so doing 40 poor bloody infantry in one go proved a stupid idea. Even though I decided them into two batches, I still felt my interest drifting to other topics all the time. So essentially while these were started in April before our holiday, I only finished them this week. But I am happy I am done with them, since the only things missing now are the bicycle messenger, some extra AT crews and a three men having a brew diorama.

But now on to the minis. They are a wild mix of Victory Force Miniatures, vintage (=pre-Warlord) Bolt Action Miniatures and Artizan Miniatures. Again all painted to represent the South Lancs. Here are the infantry sections. The SGTs and Bren teams were painted earlier on, but I felt it would be stupid to show them without. Please note that the squad composition is not definitive, I just assembled them at random yesterday.

British Infantry (1st Section)

British Infantry (1st Section)

British Infantry (2nd Section)

British Infantry (2nd Section)

British Infantry (3rd Section)

British Infantry (3rd Section)

British Infantry (4th Section)

British Infantry (4th Section)

British Infantry (5th Section)

British Infantry (5th Section)

There are also more riflemen and the 2″ mortar (one was still on the TO&E late war and usually attached to platoon HQ). I have to say, that I am not sure what I painted all these extra riflemen for, since they sure cannot all be part of the HQ element. A couple of years ago I spend an afternoon in the Imperial War Museums library researching this and I am sure these are needed to bring the platoon to strength, but the information is safely written down in a notebook that my better half safely put away over the winter… but cannot remember where. :-/ So until I find that notebook or can remember what I painted these for, these are just the extras.

British Infantry (the extras)

British Infantry (the extras)

And then there are also a few Sappers to round things off. These minis are all from Warlord Games and I have to say, I am happy they do without those stupid cartoon faces they use for the German with the metal Brits!

British Sappers

British Sappers

And last here is a group shot of all the infantry (minus the Mortar and AT teams).

British Infantry group shot

British Infantry group shot

So this is it for today. I started work on the prize minis yesterday and hope to have them done by the end of this weekend or early next week when I will post pictures of them before they go in the mail. After that it is going to be those Murawski Poles and after that… well no idea yet! 😀

 

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich AAR

We have lately been looking around at some other sets of WWII rules and I fell in love with the Battlegroup series. Martin and I had been trying to find a suitable date for a game for almost two weeks now and over the weekend we both realised that we would be available on Monday, so we met up yesterday morning for a game. What a way to start a week, right? And to make things even better, the weather had turned fabulous here in Germany over the weekend, so we spontaneously decided to have he game outside (this resulted in a board set up, which is a little more basic… Sorry for that!).

I had been in the mood for a late war game when creating the forces on Sunday, we went for the Fall of the Reich supplement and these are the forces (those marked with an asterisk were randomly determined to be reserves and arrived on turn 1 for the Russians and turn 2 for the Germans).

The German defenders had a Tiger II* as their forward headquarters unit, a PzKw II l Luchs reconnaissance and PaK 43 as support. The main force consisted of a squad of Volkssturm with two Panzerfäuste* and an armoured Panzergrenadier platoon. The later consisted of command squad in a SdKfz 251/10, a medic* and four eight-men Grenadier Squads (one started in reserve) in SdKfz 251/1. Their machine guns had been upgraded to MG-42s. They also had to special rules to raise their Battlegroup rating (more on that later).
The Soviets had a forward HQ, a VVS Air control officer* both in a GAZ jeep and a wire team*. There was also a T34/85 platoon* and a single JS-2 tank*. Their reconnaissance was provided by an infantry foot patrol. Oddly enough, I thought I had chosen a sniper and put a according mini on the able instead. (Good thing I actually put the sniper besides a bush that had virtually the same colour as his uniform and forgot about him all game long! :-P) There was also a rifle platoon, consisting of a command squad, four eight-men rifle squads (one would start in reserve), a Maxim HMG team*. They also had access to a two-gun off-board Zis-3 battery and two on board 82mm mortars*.

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the German side

Martin chose to play the Germans, so the Soviets went to me. Set up was fairly straight. The Soviets deployed virtually even spaced along their deployment zone (10″ into the table). The German PaK deployed to the rear and in the centre, the Luchs on the road running the length of the board, with one of the halftracks behind. The other Panzergrenadiere and their halftracks deployed in the shadow of the village and the village square itself.

Table from the Soviet side

Table from the Soviet side

The first round saw the initiative go to the Russians. Not much going on there. All units (including the tanks and infantry from reserves moved forward). Two rifle squads and the Maxim were driven forward by their commissar and made extra speed under constant cries of Ura, Ura, Ura. The air control officer tried to call in the artillery, but after he saw the spotter round go wide, decided to call it off. I would have loved to fire the JS-2 at the PaK, but thought twice. Ammo is a bit abstract under the rules, so the JS-2 carries precious few ammo for that. Since I had not bought a re-supply unit for either side I had to think twice when to shoot and when not.

JS-2 in the fields

JS-2 in the fields

The Germans still lacked their reserves, so their actions were limited to advances by a few units and by the PaK firing. Well rather failing to spot a target and when it had, to hit it! ;-).

T34´s on the roll

T34´s on the roll

Now the second round saw initiative go to the Soviets once more. Their officer tried to call in the artillery again, but once more their spotter round went wide and they were not ordered to fire for effect. The air control officer wanted the mortars to fire at the PaK, but had to find it was too far away, so the mortars just advanced. So did the other infantry and tanks. The JS-2 had now almost run into the Luchs and decided to take a shot at close range. It hit and ripped the small tank to shreds.

JS-2 vs the small cat

JS-2 vs the small cat

Now the German reinforcements arrived on table. Unfortunately Martin had rolled very few orders, so it was mostly about moving the reserves up. The Königstiger in the middle with the Volkssturm in its wake and the halftrack racing up to the village. The only shot fired was the PaK which took its chances on the JS-2. It scored a lucky hit and blew the big tank up. But this did not prove a happy occasion for the Germans either. Battlegroup works not just with unit moral, but also with a moral for your whole force. For every tank or unit lost you pick a random counter and it’s value gets deducted from your Battlegroup rating. So I had to take a counter for the loss of my behemoth and actually managed to pull a special out of fuel counter from the bag, which I then played on the Königstiger. We rolled for the result and lo and behold… It ran out of fuel and it’s crew chose to abandon it. This is a fate of war.

PaK 43, Königstiger and Volkssturm

PaK 43, Königstiger and Volkssturm

The next round saw initiative go to the Germans. But again a poor roll for orders meant that essentially not much happened. The Volkssturm advanced further, the reserve Panzergrenadiere still raced towards the village and the PaK was back to not hitting anything!

Advance of the mighty Volkssturm

Advance of the mighty Volkssturm
[Photo edited to comply with German law]


For the Russians it was still a general advance and again some of the troops were pushed forward by the commissar in charge. The most impressive event of this round was that the Russian artillery finally had run out of Vodka (or had they managed to fill up enough?) and were finally able to hit the village square. Most of the infantry and halftracks got away with a scare, but the Panzergrenadier command was mauled by the barrage, lost their nerve and ran off the table.

Panzergrenadier reenforcements debussing in the village square

Panzergrenadier reinforcements debussing in the village square

The next few rounds saw the fighting pick up, now that the Russians were in range of the village. This also meant that the Soviet artillery chose not to fire for effect, for fear of hitting their own troops with the exception of one very effective barrage on the newly arrived reserve Grenadiere.

Moving towards the German village

Moving towards the German village

To block some of the troops moving up on the German right flank one of the MG-42 teams moved out of the village and fired at the advancing Russians. They only managed to pin them down and as a reward were ripped apart by a high explosive round and machine gun fire from one of the T34’s.

MG-42 team firing from the village

MG-42 team firing from the village

The Russians un-pinned themselves and close assaulted one of the German unit in the village square, wiping them out for the loss of five of their own.

Close Assault in the village

Close Assault in the village

 

Together with one of the rifle squads, the Maxim managed to wipe out another one of the German grenadier units, while the wheat fields saved themselves from punishment. The PaK finally found its Mark,and managed to wipe out the two centre T34’s.

Russian advance

Russian advance

But not before that happened, one of them had killed the MG-42 team that had deployed together with the other Panzergrenadiere from their half track on the road.

Panzergrenadiere debussing

Panzergrenadiere dismounting

The mortars also found a good target at last and destroyed first the infantry in the fields and then the halftrack that had brought them there. Sad thing is, that the halftrack had previously led a blessed life with two shots from a T34 missing it.

Russian Mortars

Russian Mortars

On the last round, I was getting a bit worried. Unless I could the Germans to exceed their Battlegroup rating, it would be a loss for me. I knew Martin had pulled a huge number of counters already, but I did not know their value. And
I was running out of targets. My remaining T34 was behind the village and most German units were out of line of sight anyway. So my infantry started shooting at one of the halftracks and the command halftrack. While they never stood a chance to destroy either, they forced both crews to abandon them, which meant two more counters for Martin. And the last one pushed him two points over his Battlegroup rating which meant a last-minute Soviet win.

Russian Infantry advancing

Russian Infantry advancing

All in all, we were both very pleased with the game. It was fast paced with a good historic feel and we both felt that just a little more experience, would make it even more pleasant. So,we are looking forward to the next installment!

 

WWII British mortars and guns (Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge entry #11)

So now it is time to continue with my British Infantry platoon. Or in this case rather some ”very” heavy weapons for them.
Lets start off with the lightest of them all, a pair of 3” mortars. Medium mortars were a very essential of the lower level (company or handed down to platoons) support weapons, giving the soldiers on the ground limited artillery support without the need to go through higher level commands. I know many people just use only one in skirmish gaming, but my previous experience has taught me, that one simply does not make much of an impact on the game, while two do without becoming a game breaker. The minis are old vintage Bolt Action. Unfortunately this means that both crews are exactly the same, but maybe I will get me a Warlord Games team one day to give them more variety.
British 3" mortars [BA]

British 3″ mortars [BAM]

Now if 3” mortars are on the light end of the ”artillery” support a platoon can call upon, here is the heavy end… a 25pdr. artillery gun. I bought this well over half a decade ago, back when no one was producing any AT guns with the idea that this could give at least some heavy fire power to the poor bloody infantry. Not sure what I was thinking. I only ever read about the 25pdr. used for direct fire in North Africa and I only intend to war-game Europe. Anyway the whole set is by Artizan and actually quiet nice, even though it comes with their old style of faces, which I do not like too much. The only grief for me was that I found the limber to be missing one of the doors. Now after more than half a decade I did not want to approach the good people at Artizan for a replacement, so I scratch build one from plasticard and wire.
British 25pdr. [ART]

British 25pdr. [Art]

So do you care for some real AT guns? Well here we go. This is a 6pdr. gun. This time by Warlord games. Now you may find that this one (and the 17pdr. in the later pictures) have quiet a large crew. Now I bought the para version from Warlord some time ago but it arrived with a regular infantry crew. I got a proper replacement crew, but in the end it meant I had more crew than usual, which is nice. I had originally planned to do a cloud camo on the gun, but decided against it. The 6pdr.s were used by the US Army as well and I plan to use the gun for them, too. I know the Americans used it without the muzzle break and the green is wrong, but I guess most people will not notice. But I think everyone will notice a camo that was not used by the Armericans so I did without.
British 6pdr. [WG]

British 6pdr. [WG]
“Those skirts are not going to help you here!”

British 6pdr. [WG]

British 6pdr. [WG]

So now something heavier, a 17pdr.. Again the model is by Warlord Games with a little extra crew from their hic up. Not much to say, except that this one got the cloud camo since it was only used by the British. I was a bit afraid how this would come out with the weathering technique used on the British vehicles and guns (as described on the Universal Carrier post), but it really comes out well. I personally believe, that this is due to the fact that I did not use black for the camo, but a very dark slate grey.

British 17pdr. [WG]

British 17pdr. [WG]

British 17pdr. [WG]

British 17pdr. [WG]

So while I was busy painting guns, I decided to tackle some guns for the paras I had around as well. These are a 6pdr. (para version without the enfilade gun shield and collapsable legs) and a pack howitzer. Before anyone asks… the crews for these were painted some 3 ½ years ago and are just there as scenery and did not count for points in the Challenge. Those who have followed my painting adventures will notice that their eyes lack the black outlines I switched for in 2012, but with the the heavier shading of the skin I have used since 2010, so that is a good telltale sign of their age.
British Para pack howitzer [WG]

British Para pack howitzer [WG]

British Para 6pdr. [WG]

British Para 6pdr. [WG]

So this is it. As indicated before these were weathered the same way as my other British vehicles with a Modelmates weathering  washes and pigments from MIG. The crews all wear shoulder flashes from the 3rd Infantry Div, to make sure they match my other infantry. While painting these, I felt that a little more firepower might be due, especially one capable of taking on some big cats, so in due time these will see the addition of another 6pdr. and another 17pdr.. With this in mind I leave you with a group shot of this entry:
British Guns

British Guns

Coming up next… British M5 halftracks.

 

Großdeutschland at Kursk Game 9

Now after a very, very long hiatus we got back to our SkirmishCampaigns Grossdeutschland at Kursk campaign earlier this month. Now this was the 9th game over all or in other words the panultimate one in the book. It was named Steel Confrontation and honestly, it lived up to its name. The terrain was mostly open, with the a few hills and even fewer light woods. And that was it. there was the option for dust clouds to drift across the table, but only one materialized right at the beginning of the game and virtually lingered where it had started due to some very low dice rolling. If you see a row of dust markers on the table in some photos… that is it.

The Germans (played by me) had two Marder III (I substituted one with a Marder II), PzKw III, PzKW IV and PzKw VI “Tiger” each. There was a 5cm Pak towed by truck and and a small infantry Platoon HQ in a Kübelwagen.

Tiger meet

Tiger meet

The Soviets (played by Alexander) on the other hand had three units of three T34´s, one unit of three T-70´s one lone command T34 and a motorized Rifle Squad to field.

T34´s on the prowl

T34´s on the prowl

The Panzer III and command T34 would enter on a randomly determined round between round one and four. In case of the Germans this meant right from the beginning of the game and in case of the Soviets round four.

Entry was also random as well. In case of the Germans this could either be the South-West corner or via a small section of the western board edge, in case of the Soviets either the North-West corner or a small patch on the eastern board edge. Now the Bolsheviks all rolled the eastern edge (how appropriate) which made that little stretch of the table look like a car park at the beginning of the game. With the Germans the Marder and PzKw III entered via the table edge and all the rest via the corner.

Victory conditions for the Germans were to have both Tiger tanks operational on the southern third of the table, the Russians either had to destroy, immobilize or push them of the table. The game would run for twelve turns at most, by which time either one of the sides would have had to accomplish their goal.

Now the battle turned into a swirling mass of tanks, just like some of the real tank battles during Kursk and writing this up, I felt it was nearly impossible to do a coherent report that would give a real good idea of the battle. So I am trying to do this by following the German units through the battle, because frankly… with all those T34´s I lost track of which of them did what and when.

So lets start with the PzKw III. They decided to push through the dust cloud and along the western board edge to try to outflank the Soviets. The Russians did their best to prevent them from doing so and dispatched three T34´s and two T70´s to intercept them. All their other units were heading towards the southern edge of  the table.

Red tide

Red tide

Since the Panzer saw their best chance for survival in speed, they chose not to fire at their interceptors, since they were going at high speeds as well and this would have made hits highly unlikely. The lead tank did manage to get a shot off into the rear of one of the T34s who were heading South but only caused minor damage. The other PzKW III hit one of the other T-34s heading South in the flank and set off its fuel. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards the lead Panzer III was taken out while moving through the woods. So his compatriot had to steer to the side not to crash into the wreck and had for a short moment to turn its rear towards its interceptors, two of which stopped and killed it with shots into his weak rear.

Hunt for the PzKw III´s

Hunt for the PzKw III´s

Now the PzKw IV lead quiet an uneventful life. One of them decided to take its chances and fired its main gun at the approaching T34´s even though both were going at full speed. Chances for a hit were extremely low, but still it struck gold on its first shot and managed to explode the ammo in the T34 it had fired upon.

The plains of Russia

The plains of Russia

But its next few shots all missed and in the end it was taken out by a similar chance shot from one of the T34´s while still advancing.  The other T34 managed to kill all of the crew, except for the bow machine gunner on one of the T34 (this man would move to the commanders position, but did only get to fire off a single shot before the game ended, which missed). Shortly afterwards it was taken out by a hit which exploded its ammo while scaling a hillside.

Panzer charging forward

Panzer charging forward

The German truck towing the AT gun and the Kübelwagen had charged forward and stopped behind the ridge of  a hill. The PaK with the intention to set up a firing position, the infantry trying to cover it. Before the AT crew could even unlimber the gun, they were taken under fire by the Soviet DP machine gun from the Rifle Squad which had sped forward in its own truck to the other side of the hill. None of them were injured, but the trucks engine took a number of hits. The German infantry had a hard time protecting their compatriots, since they were still getting out of their Kübelwagen and were coming under fire from the Russian riflemen. So one of the Tiger, lacking tank targets at the moment loaded HE ammo and fired at the Soviet infantry. Most of the squad went unharmed, but the DP gunner was ripped to pieces. So his mates withdrew into the cover of the hills lee side. The crew would then set up its PaK and after a short wait, managed to take out a T34 with a hit to its front. They waited patiently for further targets, but soon their field of fire was blocked by T34 wrecks and they chose not to relocate for fear of becoming a prominent target.

In the thick of it with a 5cm PaK

In the thick of it with a 5cm PaK

Now the Marder III moved forward a little bit before going into a hull down position behind a hill. From there it managed to score two hits on a T34, the first doing some damage, the other one setting it aflame. But soon after, its superstructure was hit and all of the crew but the driver were killed. After recovering his nerves, he climbed up to the gun compartment to man it, but until the end of the game, its view was blocked by burning tanks as well.

Battle in the centre

Battle in the centre

Now the other Marder led a rather eventful live. for lack of better positions, if crossed the battlefield from the West to the East, firing the odd shot without much success. One of the T34´s tried to ram it, but it evaded at the last moment. This brought it close to the Russian Infantry. So it charged into the foot soldiers dispersing them and killing two in the process.

Marder overrunning Soviet infantry

Marder overrunning Soviet infantry

And it was gone before the Soviets recovered and tried to throw hand grenades into its open top. It would then turn back north towards towards the centre and damage one of the T34s which was then taken out by one of the Tiger tanks. It would soon end up hiding between some Russian wrecks in the centre and actually managed to destroy one of the T-34´s which had turned around from their successful Panzer III hunt.

T34´s to the left of ´em, T34´s to the right of ´em

T34´s to the left of ´em, T34´s to the right of ´em

By this time the command T-34 had entered the table and seeming the Marder boxed in decided to ram it. Now that one did not turn out as the Russian commander had planned. While it did massive damage to the Marder tracks and wheels it did not render it in operational. On the other hand, it managed to smash its own main gun seriously damaging the commander. When the T34 reversed, the Marder turned and took it out, which actually was the last kill of the game.

Now the Tiger tanks did what they were designed for. They went up a hill (killing some infantry in the process as mentioned before), pointed their thick armor towards the enemy and firing at targets.

Tiger overwatch

Tiger overwatch

In the beginning this was pretty few, since most were either out of view or had been dispatched by other vehicles already. But things got better, once the Russians who had been pursuing the PzKw III turned around.

Soviets swing around

Soviets swing around

In the end they had managed to take out all the T70s and whatever T34´s they could lay their Acht-Achter upon. At the same time all the Russian shots seemed to bounce off without doing much harm. There were a few interesting moments though. Since they had taken up positions close to the Russian infantry, said infantry chose to close assault them. And they actually managed to cause the only real damage, by placing grenades on the tracks, but only enough to slow one of them down. Seeing this the German infantry charged forward to defend the tanks, which they managed killing all but one, but at a high price since all but one riflemen perished while doing so. By the time they had done so, one of the T70s had charged up the hill to get into the Tigers rear. The remaining Soldat tried to close assault it as well, but failed to do any damage. But by the time the T70 was imposition to fire, the rear Tiger had turned its turret and took it out point blank.

Unequal battle

Unequal battle

In the end, the game ended with all but one Russian tank killed and that one only had one living crew member and was immobilized. Of the Soviet infantry only one soldier had survived.

On the German side the Marder II and both Tiger tanks were operational (although one slightly slower due to track damage) and the PaK team was there as well. The Marder III was badly damaged and only had one living crew me member as well.

In the end it was a German victory since they still had 6 ½ rounds to move the Tiger tanks forward and there was opposition left. But the price ha been high and the result had been bloody.

Tank graveyard

Tank graveyard

Aftermath

Aftermath

 

Ruperts on the way to the Rhine and other WWII British (Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge entry #5.1)

Today I finally get around to show what I did between the second and third fortnight goals for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, namely the beginnings of my WWII British Rifle company. Well not really, as those who have followed this blog since the beginning, since I already painted all but one of the NCO´s, three medics and two snipers in 2012 (you can find the post here). Again the Miniatures are a mix of Victory Force Miniatures [VFM], pre-Warlord Games Bolt Action [BAM], Warlord Games (metal only) [WG] and Artizan [Art]. These were painted as three batches, but I wanted to varnish and base them in one go, so it took me a while longer to post them to Curt.
Up first are the Officers (Ruperts as most British soldiers call them… hence the pun in the title). Left to right these are BAM, WG, VFM and two Art. I feel that usually all lines mix quiet well (if you discount the Warlord Games minis having slimmer faces). In this case the WG officer is noticeably smaller, but I liked that mini too much not to paint him. All officers are from the infantry, except the one to the far right, who is painted to come from an armored formation.
British Officers

British Officers

Next we have a radio operator [WG] and the remaining NCO [VFM].

British Radioman and NCO

British Radioman and NCO

While I will tackle the riflemen in another couple of batches soon, I already did the section firepower, namely the Bren teams. The one to the far right is BAM, all the others are VFM. What always irritates me about the old Bolt Action British are their faces. If you look at the other work from Paul Hicks, they are so immensely detailed when it comes to the faces. I could never understand why these are so featureless. Probably part of the reason, why Warlord replaced them with new sculpts (thank god without those cartoonish faces sported by some of their other WWII ranges).
British Bren teams

British Bren teams

To complete the rifle companies heavy fire power, here are the PIAT teams. The first one is from BAM.

British Piat Team on the move [BA]

British Piat Team on the move [BAM]

Up next the first in firing pose from VFM.
British PIAT team [VFM]

British PIAT team [VFM]

And last another one in firing pose from BAM. One of the few sets in the old range that had decent faces. The German Panzer in the photo was not painted as part of the Challenge and is just there for the atmosphere.
British PIAT team [BA]

British PIAT team [BAM]

Now we have some serious firepower. While not part of the company level assets, a scenario can always require you to have a Vickers or two and looks wise, this has always been one of my favorites machine guns of WWII, So I could not do without. The first one is BAM. The gunner does not look as nice as he could, but I still had it lying around and if you want two Vickers, more variety looks better on the table. The loader for this one gave me no joy. When I was doing the sand on the bases (always do that after painting and varnish) he slipped my fingers and dropped into the open can with brown paint. I pulled him out before he could go under and put him under running water,  but the damage had been done and I had to paint him once more. 😦
British Vickers team [BA]

British Vickers team [BAM]

The other Vickers is by WG. All around a lovely set and maybe my favorite from their whole British range.
British Vickers team [WG]

British Vickers team [WG]

British Vickers team [WG]

British Vickers team [WG]

Now some of you may have spotted some should flashes in the previous photos. All these men are meant to be from the 1st South Lancashires. 3rd (British) Infantry Division was an easy choice for me, since they landed on D-Day and saw action in many of the major operations of the war. So there is a lot of milage in them. The Regiments are distinguished by the bars under the flash (one in case of the 1st South Lancs) so they can easily pass as one of the other regiments on the tabletop. And I can live with patches for the wrong unit in case I want to replay something where troops from a different Division took part. The choice for the 1st South Lancs is actually a little more obscure. There are some things about the D-Day landings I absolutely want to replay and one of them is Sword Beach: Queen White (Brèche d´Hermanville) and this was their landing beach. If you want to know more about the Regiment, you can find a very good summary of their actions on the website of the Lancashire Infantry Museum

Anyway, here is a picture showing the unit flash. These were painted freehand on both the left and right arm of all the minis. Again this gave me some greif, since I managed to paint the colors of the triangle in reverse on both the 2nd and 3rd batch and I had to go back to these.
2nd South Lancs shoulder flash

1st South Lancs shoulder flash

So to give an idea of them all, here is a group shot. 28 minis in total.

British group shot

British group shot

Up in the next post there will be some German armor, although from the early war period. So stay tuned!