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Category Archives: American

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich Christmas game

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich Christmas game

“Wait?” you will shout… “Christmas game… it is only October!” And rightly so! But, as I have had to say so many times this year, I seem to have huge problems keeping this blog up to date. So, here it is, almost 10 months late:

Between Christmas and New Years last year Julian, Martin and I met up for a little game of Battlegroup Fall of the Reich. Please do not ask for the exact composition of the forces… it has been a while. But if I remember correctly, the Americans had a mix of truck and jeep mounted infantry, M10´s, Shermans and Greyhounds (the burning Stuart was scenery). The Germans were a rag-tag bunch of Panzergrenadiere, a Volkssturm platoon, two Hetzer, a Hornisse, a Luchs, a SdKfz. 251/22 and a SdKfz. 250/9. Both sides had some off-board artillery.

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the American side

Table seen from the American side

We rolled to see who would play which side and Martin got the Americans and Julian and I the Germans. We were playing the Road Block scenario and the Americans were allowed to set up the majority of their forces as far as the river. Martin put the armoured command car on he bridge with the M10s, some of the truck mounted infantry and a Dozer Sherman behind them. The Greyhounds were allowed to deploy on the German side of the bridge.

The German Volkssturm was dispersed throughout the village and one of the fields on the flank. The Panzergrenadiere and Hetzer were hiding inside the village, while the Hornisse was waiting at the edge of the village with the bridge in sight. We took a slight risk as the German players, by not putting any scout units on the table, which meant we would start the game by drawing a chit. In retrospect this was the best decision we could make, since we drew a breakdown counter, which we played on the armoured command car on the bridge, which got an immobilized result. So Martin had to start shuffling vehicles around to get the Dozer in position.

Things are about to get tough

Things are about to get tough

But while he was doing so, the Germans called in some artillery on the bridge, which took out the command car for good and set the M10 ablaze. So when the Dozer arrived, it had to start by pushing the tank destroyer aside.

American starting positions

Getting the other vehicles out of the way for the dozer

Getting the M10 out of the way

Getting the M10 out of the way

But this was not the only problem for the Americans. when it was clear, that the bridge would be blocked for the foreseeable future, the Greyhounds chose to dash into the village to hide. Which proved to be a bad decision, since the lead Greyhound drove past one of the buildings where the Volkssturm was hiding. A Panzerfaust into the rear was a reward, after which it blew up.

American armour burning

American armour burning

First moves inside the village

First moves inside the village

All in all it took the dozer three turns to even get into position to try to clear the command car off the bridge. During that time the came under constant German artillery fire. To minimise their losses, the American infantry dismounted to disperse and get across the bridge.

Sherman Dozer about to clear the bridge

Sherman Dozer about to clear the bridge

American Infantry pushing across the bridge

American Infantry pushing across the bridge

But while doing so, the American infantry became pinned by fire from the Volkssturm in the fields.

Volkssturm firing at the American infantry across the river

Volkssturm firing at the American infantry across the river

And to make matters worse, by now the remaining German armour had arrived on the table and were taking up positions to counter any American moves off the bridge.

German halftracks staging inside the village

German halftracks staging inside the village

Getting into position

Getting into position

Luchs and Hetzer securing the flank

Luchs and Hetzer securing the flank

With the bridge cleared, the Americans finally managed to get their own spotters to a place where they could actually call in effective artillery fire on the German spotters killing them, but it was too little, too late. By now the Germans were in positions where they could target anything moving across the bridge from three sides.

Hetzer moving to the front

Hetzer moving to the front

By now the American force was close to breaking to breaking anyway. And when the Dozer started to push the command car, i was hit by an eighty-eight shell from the Hornisse.

Turkey shoot

Turkey shoot

At this point no coordinated push would have been possible anymore and the Americans withdrew.

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Two games of Battlegroup Overlord (part 2)

Two games of Battlegroup Overlord (part 2)

So here is the second game we played this weekend. This was to be the game where I wanted to test an infantry heavy game with few armour and no AT-guns.

Again I need to apologize for the picture quality. While the picture quality was slightly better than from Fridays game, it is still far below par.

Game 2

We set this fictional game somewhere on the Cotentin Peninsular in the days after the D-Day landings using the “Take the Hill” scenario from the main rules. Fitting enough, there was a hill in one corner of the table with a small village. The rest of the table featured some corn and wheat fields, grazing cows, roads, hedges and small woods.

The Americans (played by Martin) consisted of a forward infantry HQ, a regular quality infantry platoon (HQ, three fire teams, three BAR teams), a medic, a .50cal HMG team, an artillery spotter team mounted in a jeep catering for a battery of off-board 105mm howitzers, a Greyhound scout car and two M10 Wolverine tank destroyers.

The Germans (played by me) was made up of a  Veteran Panzergrenadier platoon (HQ, three infantry sections, three MG-42 LMG teams), a medic, a tripod mounted MG-42 HMG with extra loader team, a Panzergrenadier foot scout patrol, an on-board 8cm mortar team, an artillery spotter team catering for another two 8cm mortars off-board and a StuG IIIG.

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the German side

Both sides were able to deploy 50% of their forces at the beginning of the game, with the rest arriving as reinforcements at the beginning of turn 4. The German defenders deployed the StuG behind the village on the hill road, the HMG team on the their left flank in the corn field, the Panzergrenadier scout team in the bombed out semi-building with the spotter team in front of them in the garden. One of the LMG teams deployed on the upper floor of the detached building, with the HQ on the lower floor and the 8cm mortar behind. Four of these units started in ambush positions, but I completely forgot to make use of that (which cost me dearly), so I will not even mention which ones.

The Americans deployed three vehicles on the road leading onto the table, with the M10 being front, the spotter jeep bringing up the rear and the Greyhound sandwiched between them. One of the infantry teams was in the field to their right one on the road on their left. In the field to the left there was also the Forward HQ and a BAR team.

Table seen from the American side

Table seen from the American side

The Americans went first and there was a general advance of the infantry. Then the artillery spotter called in fire and that one really hurt. Both barrages were aimed at the bombed out semi and were virtually spot on target. This resulted in the loss of two Grenadiere from the scout team, the spotter teams Kübelwagen went up in flames and both the recon section and the spotter team were pinned down by the fire. No idea why I did no pre-empt this with a mortar strike of my own using the ambush option! Both the Wolverine and Greyhound moved forward with the intention of adding their own firepower to the carnage, but the M10 failed to spot the target house amidst all the explosions and the Greyhounds HE shot missed.

In general the Germans decided to let the Americans get closer so their only action for this turn was for the pinned troops to stick their heads out again.

Armored firepower

Armored firepower

The Americans went first on the second round again. And once more the artillery was spot on. And this time the tank destroyer and scout car added to the carnage. While the Grenadiere lost no man, they withdrew deeper into the ruins for protection. Far worse off was the spotter team, which was wiped out. Otherwise there was only a further advance by the infantry. The StuG decided to interrupt the move of the infantry advancing towards the village with its only round of HE ammo, but that one missed wild.

Now the Germans got into action. I finally remembered, that my mortars could also be directed in by the Grenadier HQ, which they promptly did. While the first salvo scattered a good deal this was actually quiet good, for one round went straight into the open-topped tank destroyer (I rolled double sixes for my anti armour roll) setting it aflame.

Death at the crossroads

Death at the crossroads

The second salvo scattered too, but it came down amidst the infantry, causing little physical damage, but pinning them down. In the end the salvo pinned the artillery spotters, the forward and platoon HQ´s as well as the BAR section. Now the StuG rumbled through the village and fired its roof mounted MG at the infantry advancing towards the village, sending them for cover as well. So essentially, Martin was down to two un-pinned units!

StuG in the village

StuG in the village

As a result the Americans did virtually nothing but get up again after the mortar barrage, which Martin did exceptionally well, rolling for 5 unpinned units! The only real action was a further advance of the infantry fire team on their left flank. At this point the HMG team in the corn field decided to take them under fire, only to find them out of range.

With initiative passing back to the Germans, they decided to fire their off-board mortars once more. And again the results were horrible for the Americans. The Greyhound took a round trough its open turret, too (I rolled another double six!). The fire team, forward HQ and spotter team all went to ground again, the HQ and spotter team each taking a casualty for good measure, too.

US Infantry in the open pinned by mortar fire

US Infantry in the open pinned by mortar fire

The StuG shifted its MG fire to the BAR section in the fields, but failed to make an impression. At the same time the on-board mortar team relocated  out of the shadow of the house to fire at the American infantry advancing on th village, but failed to spot them in the hurry.

MG 42 HMG team lying in ambush in the corn field

MG 42 HMG team lying in ambush in the corn field

The next round saw the arrival of the reserves. The American reinforcements arrived on the table and began to move forward. The most interesting was the second M10 now present, which took a shot at the StuG at once. Fortunately for the assault gun, it was only a glancing hit and did no damage. Otherwise there was not much going on, except for the American fire team advancing on their left flank which decided to try their luck with the HMG team. But before they could fire, they failed to spot them. HMG team, seeing this decided to spring their trap and fire at their adversaries, but they too had problems spotting them behind the hedge with all the smoke drifting over the battlefield.

I rolled well for the Germans and all the remaining troops made it onto the table at once, beginning their track from the table edge. The on-board mortars opened up once again, this time wiping out the spotter team, ending the threat of American artillery for good. In addition they also wiped out the forward HQ and the BAR team. Now the StuG decided to fire back at the Wolverine, it turned, fired and missed. In desperation, the on-board mortar team fired at the M10 and now they got lucky, too. They too scored a direct hit and destroyed the tank destroyer (this time I rolled a five and six… not bad for one day!).

But there was one more thing. With all the American losses they had to draw a lot of chits, one of them being an air support counter, meaning that next round the Americans would get support by P-47 Thunderbolt.

German on-board mortars

German on-board mortars

And the fighter made quite an impression the next round firing its rockets at the StuG and blowing it to smithereens. Once more the American infantry wanted to fire at the HMG team and once more they failed to spot them. The .50cal opened up on the Grenadier scout team in the house and caused them one more casualty. But this was about it for the Americans.

https://dhcwargamesblog.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=8687&action=edit

American .50 cal team

Now the Germans picked up their attack again. With the majority of the American troops now on their left flank, the German HQ moved out of the building into the yard to get a visual on them and started to direct the off-board mortars in. The attack pinned the American infantry en route to the village and the HMG team, but most importantly killed off two of the .50cal crew sending the last man fleeing and this also brought the whole American battlegroup to its breaking point, ending the game.

German Platoon HQ

German Platoon HQ

All in all, we had an extremely entertaining game, dominated by artillery and mortars. This definitely showed us the need for some counter-battery options.

Otherwise we talked long and hard about ranges. With the Battlegroup rules being written with 20mm in mind, we have constantly been thinking about whether to adjust ranges or not. The more we play, we feel that the ranges are fine as they are. They could be a bit longer to be realistic, but then again not so much that they would warrant a multiplication by even by 1,5. Why? Well the way ranges are right now, it allows for nice maneuver warfare, which in turns results in nice games. Once we were to multiply ranges by more than 1,3 this would be lost, even on a large table. Anything below, would make the change virtually cosmetic. So for now we will keep things the way they are. And this is not just the perception Martin and I had, but also something Julian, who has only had experience with 20mm so far, voiced. So we cannot be too wrong! 😉

German reinforcements advancing

German reinforcements advancing

 

 

Two games of Battlegroup Overlord (part 1)

Two games of Battlegroup Overlord (part 1)

As virtually anyone with a little knowledge of military history will know, last Friday saw the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings (aka. D-Day). We decided to take the opportunity to play some games set during the Normandy invasion. The first game was played on Friday with Julian and the second one on Sunday with Martin.

I also wanted to take the chance to put the rules through its paces. All the previous games we played featured a realistic amount of armour compared to the number of infantry, but I wanted to see how they felt with no or very little armour. I also wanted to see how it played out when not using the Battlegroup force lists to create the forces for the game, but using a scenario from a third source.

Now before I start with the game reports, please let me excuse the more than poor picture quality. My camera is acting up these days (which also caused huge problems during our trip to Scotland). Amongst other things I cannot use the lens best suited for close-ups, I cannot use the program that allows me long exposure times (essential for close-ups) and most pictures are overexposed. In other words, I simply cannot take any pictures on the usual level of quality.

Game 1

This was the game without any armour using a ready-made scenario. In this case “Purple Heart Hill” from the SkirmishCampaigns book “Normandy ´44 – Heroes of Omaha and Panzer Lehr”. The scenario features the defense of Hill 108 (rather a slight slope, which is why you the board shows no real rise) by the American 175th Infantry Regiment against Elements of Kampfgruppe Bohm on June 18th.

The table featured fields, an orchard, two light woods, a little low bocage and most importantly a ravine running most of the western edge of the board. The Americans would deploy in a trench on the northern half go the table which the Germans had to take to win the game. They would also deploy in foxholes and were allowed to place two minefields.

The German force (played by me) featured a 4 man infantry Platoon HQ, two infantry squads, a two men recon team (which we played as a spotter team), 8cm Mortar team, HMG team and 7,5cm infantry gun. Julians Americans featured an infantry platoon HQ, two Infantry fire teams, one 60cm mortar team and a .30cal team.

Purple Heart Hill table

Purple Heart Hill table

The American infantry would deploy in the trench, while the other troops were to deploy in the foxholes placed on the edge of the eastern small wood.

The Germans would start one infantry squad on each flank (one of them starting at the mouth of the ravine), the infantry gun on the western flank and the rest of the troops in the corner.

Now one thing I need to mention before we start the report. With the exception of the first and last rounds I managed to roll low for the number of orders for my Germans every round. So while Julians Americans virtually had more orders than units all the time, the Germans usually could only activate two or three units. In general my dice rolling was quiet poor, while Julians was good.

At the beginning of the game the Americans decided to lie in ambush and wait for the Germans. Both German infantry squads started their advance towards the enemy. For the one on the eastern flank this would be their only move until the last round for lack of orders. The one on the western flank came under fire from both the American infantry squads and the mortar team which resulted in both the main squad and the LMG team becoming pinned under fire. The German HMG and recon teams advanced into the orchard and the infantry gun opened fire the American mortar team, missing twice. Ending my first round, I decided to un-pin my pinned troops.

American trench

American trench

Not that it proved much use. On the next American turn they came under fire from the American infantry and mortar teams once more, which pinned them again. So as a result they could do nothing and the next German activation just saw the infantry gun fire and miss again. The HMG team joined in as well and while scoring a few hits, the foxhole kept the American mortar team safe. And again I decided to un-pin my troops again.

US Mortar team

US Mortar team

At least the Germans managed to gain initiative for once. This time the Infantry gun managed to hit once, but again, the foxhole kept the mortar team safe. The LMG team on the western flank opened fire and managed to pin one of the American  infantry squads. Under their cover the rest of the infantry squad advanced towards the trench. The Americans fired their mortar at the German infantry and the .30cal opened up on the recon team, but both failed to do any harm. To finish things off  the American infantry managed un-pinned themselves. The next round the American infantry teams pinned both their German counterparts and the LMG team in the ravine. To end the circle of pinning and un-pinning, the 6cm mortar team fired at the LMG team for effect killing their NCO. This enraged the machine gunner so much, that he rose in spite of the incoming fire and in turn pinned one of the American infantry teams.

On their own activation, the infantry gun switched its fire to the American infantry in the trench idling one of them. At the same time the German HMG team advanced further through the orchard, but failed to spot any enemy. And once more, the round ended with me un-pinning my infantry team.

MG-42 team in the orchard

MG-42 team in the orchard

Now the Landser stormed into the trench and annihilated the Americans pinned by the LMG and Infantry gun fire. The infantry gun tried to shift their fire to the other American fire team, but found them out of range. Now the Americans tried to evict the Germans from their trench. But their infantry lost their nerve and would not assault them. So they brought the mortar to bear on the trench, but that one failed to hit.

Storming the trench

Storming the trench

The next round the American infantry chose not to assault the Germans in the trench, but cleared them out with gunfire. The rest their mortar and .30cal tried to kill both the German LMG team and recon team to lower the Germans moral, but failed to make an impression.

Now it became clear that the Germans might not get the chance to take the trench and they too did everything to kill off American teams. And for a chance they did that well. The infantry gun scored a direct hit on the foxhole housing the mortar team, killing them all. The MG-42 on tripod opened up on the .30cal wiping it up and the mortar team fired their only rounds this  game, but only managed to kill part of the HQ team.

At this point we had reached the end of the 8th round and had to roll to see if gameplay would continue, which it did not. But the game ended with a close call. Counting our counters we found that the Americans were just one point shy of their breaking point, while the Germans were only two points away from doing so themselves.

So how did it go with an eye towards trying out the rules some more? We found that the Battlegroup rules actually played out quiet well with a third-party scenario. While not all the troops in the scenario had exact counterparts in the Battlegroup force rosters it was easy enough to find close options, use their Battlegroup rating and translate quality rating to Battlegroup. The game was still balanced and was great fun (even with my horrible dice rolling).

Playing an infantry only game was fun, too. I was afraid, that this would lead to an all too quick end, but this was not the case. The only annoying thing was the constant pinning and resulting un-pinning, but this was mostly due to Julian rolling extremely well and me rolling extremely poor. In a game with average dice rolling this should not be the case. So all in all it was not only fun, but proved well for my general trials of what the rules can do well and what not.

I will try to post a report of Sundays game tomorrow, so stay tuned!

 

Battelgroup Overlord AAR

It has now been over week since Martin and met to have another game of Battlegroup, this time set in Normandy. Now since the past two weeks have been quite hectic, I hope I remember everything correctly.

I decided, that we would play a scenario for the new Battlegroup Barbarossa book where the attacker has to take a bridge and just transfer it to Normandy. So the table was roughly cut in half by a river (I wanted to put that new large bridge to use). I had decided to cover the table only with limited amounts of bocage to create some more open ground and added two orchards and a few light woods. There was also a railway line, but given, that the was almost on the allied table edge, this was more cosmetic than game changing.

We played Germans (Martin) vs. Americans (me). The Germans had a Panzergrenadier command mounted in a SdKfz. 251 (with Pänzerfäuste), a medic, a wire team, three dismounted Panzergrenadier Trupps (each maxed out with Panzerfäuste and with an additional MG-42 LMG), a 8cm mortar team, a Panzerschreck team, a sniper team, a Panther (Ace commander) and a Flakpanzer Wirbelwind. They also had a timed Nebelwerfer strike.

The Americans had an Armored Infantry commander in a M20, a Sherman platoon (two 75mm models one 76mm model), two M10 Wolverine tank destroyers, two squads of armored Infantry mounted on M3´s, two medium mortar teams a jeep scout team and an off-table artillery fire mission as well as a timed P-51 strike.

Table as seen from the American side

Table as seen from the American side

The Germans deployed their Panther on the heights on their table edge behind the last row of hedgerows. The sniper team occupied the top-level of the large house while the command and wire team hid behind the houses. One of the Grenadier Trupps was in the woods close to the bridge on the German side, while the other was in the orchards close to the bridge on the American side together with the Panzerschreck team. The rest of the units would only arrive on table during rounds three and four.

The Americans deployed their jeep scout team on the diagonal dirt road, the two halftracks either side of the railway embankment, one of the M10s and the M20 near the railroad crossing and the mortar teams on their left flank. their remaining units would arrive slowly over the next couple of rounds (my dice rolling that day was horrible at best, which resulted in very low reenforcement and “number of orders”-rolls each round).

Recce jeep moving forward

Recce jeep moving forward

Now the first round saw no real action. The Americans would slowly advance, while the Germans would mostly take up ambush positions.

On the second round things already started going down the drain for me. The Germans had won the initiative, but only chose to consolidate. The P-51 arrived on the table and attempted to attack one of the Panzergrenadier units but failed to spot them. At the same time the lead M10 (the second one had arrived this round, and had surpassed the M20 due to lack of orders) moved forward to get into engagement range of the Panther. The Panzerschreck team use their ambush action right before the Wolverine was to fire and blew it up, smack at the exit of the crossroads, effectively blocking it for all further vehicular traffic.

29,6 tonnes improvised road block

29,6 tonnes improvised road block
(aka. a burning M10 Wolverine)

The jeep scout team moved up, dismounted their jeep and managed to kill the Panzerschreck team, but by this time, the damage had been done and this was to be the only American success during the whole game!

Taking out the Panzerschreck team

Taking out the Panzerschreck team

During the next round things went worse. The Germans won initiative and their first reinforcements showed up, monist them the Wirbelwind, which promptly took the Mustang under fire and managed to pin it. (To those who know the rules… yes we played that wrong in that the Mustang would have left after its timed airstrike round and would not have loitered around.)

Waiting for those pesky American Jabos

Waiting for those pesky American Jabos

But this was not the worst thing to happen. At this point the timed Nebelwerfer strike also hit. Now Martin had to find, that his pre-registred target point had been a bit optimistic and no targets were in range. So he opted for an interdiction fire mission which put both halftracks and the remaining M10 in striking range. All in all he managed to score a massive 52 pinning hits, leaving all three vehicles soundly pinned.

Receiving end of the Nebelwerfer barrage

Receiving end of the Nebelwerfer barrage

And to add insult to injury, the Grenadiere on the far side of the river annihilated the now dismounted jeep scout team. All I could do was move units up (including the newly arrived Shermans) and un-pin the Mustang, M10 and one of the M3s.

Next round the Germans won the initiative again. The Wirbelwind tried once more to shoot the Mustang down although without success. Otherwise the units just shuffled around or went into ambush positions again.

Germans lying in ambush

Germans lying in ambush

For a change I rolled well for the American orders, but my main problem was still the burning M10 blocking the way for the  other tanks. So the 76mm Sherman together with the M10 got into position to breach the bocage closest to the river in unison and together with the infantry. The other two Shermans prepared to breach a hedgerow further back to get to the left flank. The previous round the command team raced into the fields on the right and dismounted to get into a position where they could spot for artillery and the still idle mortars. This round they decided to call for artillery, but did not manage to get a connection to higher command, no artillery support for the Americans.

American Mortar position

American Mortar position

My biggest coup this round was the P-51 finally spotting something (the Wirbelwind… not surprising with all the tracers flying up from it) ad tried to bomb it, only that the bombs went wide. I was happy that since this had been the first air attack, Martin has to draw his second morale chit, but what did he draw? An air attack counter and he managed to actually roll some Luftwaffe support in the guise of a BF-109. I guess this was Murphy’s law!

Run Kraut, run!

Run Kraut, run!

Again, the Germans mostly consolidated on their next activation. The Luftwaffe made a strafing run at the infantry about to cross the bocage, but only killed one GI. The Grenadiere on the far side of the river (who had already taken out the scouts) managed to kill two men in the American command team, sending the last man running for the rear.

The next round saw the Americans main attack. First the Infantry scaled the bocage to attack the Germans in the Orchard and secure a safe passage for the tanks. But this was not to happen. Hit by a wall of carbine an MG fire from the Grenadiere lying in ambush they were all wiped out with the exception of one man, who decided to retreat. Knowing that at least the German infantry was occupied, the 76mm Sherman and M10 pushed through the bocage. The Sherman was about to use its MGs on the enemy infantry, when it was hit by a round from the Panther on the other side of the river and burst into flames.

Panther lying in ambush

Panther lying in ambush

The next round saw initiative go to the Germans once more and upon activation, the Trupp in the orchard fired a Panzerfaust at the M10 that had broken through the previous round taking it out instantly. Now the Germans decided to re-enforce the American side of the river by moving troops forward.

Germans going on the counterattack

Germans going on the counterattack

At this point we decided to call it a day. The Americans had lost more than half their tanks, tank destroyers and infantry. With the loss of their command team and the 76mm Sherman they had lost the ability to call for artillery or guide in their mortars. They had accumulated more than 2/3 or of their battle group rating in chits. At the same time the Germans had lost only 5 points to their battle group rating (with one chit) and the Panzerschreck team in return they now even had a fighter of their own circling above.

Even though the result was a bit one-sided (due to me moving up that first M10 too fast and my horrific dice rolling), it was still a great game. And we learned a lot about the use of aircraft and artillery as well. I am going to leave you with a shot of the Mustang that let me down as well on its first outing!

P-51 Mustang

P-51 Mustang

Please be aware, that this will be my last regular post for a while. My better half and I will be taking Sami to bonnie Scotland now. So about the only thing to expect from me for a couple of weeks might be reviews of the books I have taken along.

 

 

 

Operation “Tiny Serpent” (part 2)

Operation “Tiny Serpent” (part 2)

After all the technical difficulties of the past few days, I finally find the time to do part two of the after action report. For those interested in how things went so far… here you can find part one.

Anyway, if you thought there was a lot of action when we stopped playing the other friday, it got even hotter by the when we picked up last friday. In the middle the Lanzer who had just botched his Panzerfaust shot on the Jeep grabbed for his MP40 to finish things off that way. But just like he had done when the Jeep had been attacked the last time, the .30cal gunner swung around and riddled the attacker with bullets before he could get another shot out. Things seemed safe enough, still his Lieutenant felt the crossroads were not a good place to stay and kept his foot on the accelerator. But the vehicle was not fast enough yet and was an easy prey for the German sniper in the bell tower. A shot rang out and the machine gunner sank down in the back of the Jeep, badly wounded and out of the fight. Now the officer put the pedal to the metal just to get out of there.

At the same time the first two Americans on the left flank started scaling the bocage to get into the fields in the middle, only to find two Germans with SMG´s awaiting them between the cornstalks. The first ran into an immediate wall of fire . While unwounded his spirits were badly shaken and he was out of the fight as well. His comrade managed to get a shot off before his Garand jammed, but it only served to give the German Feldwebel a short scare. While he was still trying to clear his rifle, he was killed by German fire. With only one GI combat ready on that flank, the fight there was virtually over.

Panzerschreck

Panzerschreck

In the centre, the loader for the Panzerschreck would not let his comrade be killed in vain, picked up the AT weapon and took aim at the Sherman. Only the tank rumbled on relentlessly and was too close to fire. Cheered on by his Leutnant he moved further back into the graveyard. Would he still have enough time before the tank would crash through the bocage and try to run him over? Whose grave would it be? The Sherman reached the hedgerow and its tracks cut into the growth relentlessly. Suddenly the tank lurched to a halt… it had gotten stuck! The tank commander was well aware of his perilous situation. The soft belly of the tank was in plain view of the enemy and all the weapons could not be depressed enough to fire, so he shouted for the driver to get the tank moving again. Too late… the Panzerschreck fired. It found the weak bottom armour right at the bow machine gunners station, killing him instantly and setting the .30 cal ammo on fire. While the tank started cooking off, the crew tried its best to get out, but only th commander and gunner managed to.

Burning Sherman

Burning Sherman

At the same time the American infantry kept on advancing on the next bocage line, confident, that they had driven all the Germans from their positions there. But one man with an MP40 was still lying in wait patiently. The GI´s were almost on him when he started spraying them with well-aimed bursts from his SMG. The first two were killed instantly, one went to the ground and took cover while two more went down severely wounded. While shouts for their medic rang out, one of the remaining soldiers fired back, killing the German, but still the cost was horrendous.

Machine gun position

Machine gun position

At the same time the German riflemen who had earlier occupied this first line had arrived at the fall back position in the church ruins and were forming up around the HMG positioned there. Whoever was to make it this far would be in for a nasty surprise. After checking that none of his men that had been hit were still alive, the German Feldwebel on that flank went to follow them. But at that very moment the last two remaining Americans scaled the bocage. Not wanting to be caught in the open, he turned around and charged while firing his MP40 from the hip, killing one of them. This only left one soldier and the medic combat ready on the right flank… not rosy either.

German Feldwebel

German Feldwebel

In the centre the second Panzerschreck team had reloaded and moved out to get another shot into the Sherman’s flank, only to find the other Panzerschreck had been faster. The gunner from the Sherman saw them out on the dirt road and sprayed them with his Grease Gun, killing one and severely wounding the other. So at least one small piece of revenge had been exulted.

The Lieutenant was trying his best to get to the scene and sped up his Jeep to throw off the German snipers aim, but it was too little, too late. Another report from the bell tower and his brains were all over the place.

At this time the Americans decided to call it a day. Only two soldiers, the medic and the two tankers were still combat ready, the rest were either dead (which included the officer and all NCOs) or wounded and out of the fight. At the same time the Germans had superior numbers and consolidated their position in the church ruins. The fight was over!

Caring for the wounded

Caring for the wounded

All in all it became a fast and furious end to the game. It finally saw me rolling far better and therefore the Germans making the decisive shots when it counted. And I am already looking forward to the next game!

 

 

 

Operation “Tiny Serpent” (part 1)

Operation “Tiny Serpent” (part 1)

After all the remodelling done on my bocage lately, I was keen to put it on the table to see how it looked after the make-over. So we decided to play another WWII game last Friday. This was going to be a small one with only a few vehicles mixed in. While I have been playing these rules for over a decade now, this was only the second game for Martin, so I felt that this was the best way to get him used to them. [Authors note: Even though I played the Germans, all references to flanks are from the American point of view.]

The game was a fictional scenario set on the sidelines of “Operation Cobra” and aptly codenamed “Tiny Serpent” (yes I saw this as a real fun game). The American objective was a small Normandy village, or rather it´s churchtower which offered a good view of one of the main attack routes for Cobra. Being afraid that the Germans might place artillery spotters there the Navy had already bombarded the church. This had only been a partial success, since it was still standing, even though it was badly damaged. So it was decided to send a force there to see if the Germans had been driven off and if not, take it. Seeing that the village was named Hermanville sur Boche the American commander felt that this sounded hardly threatening and decided to dispatch only a small force under a young Lieutenant. He would ride into battle in a Jeep mounting a .30cal machine gun. At this disposal were two 8 men infantry squads, a medic and a Sherman tank.

The table

The table

The German defenders were under the command of a Leutnant, too. He had a heavy machine gun team, a sniper, two Panzerschreck teams and two light infantry Trupps (with no machine guns but a Panzerfaust each).

The sniper deployed inside the bell tower and the HMG inside the rubble of the destroyed church, together with the Leutnant. The infantry Trupps deployed one on each flank and the Panzerschreck teams by a bend in the road close to the churchyard.

Are you sure we should go down this route?

Are you sure we should go down this route?

The Americans too deployed a squad on each flank with the medic attaching himself to the right flank. Both the Jeep and tank would start on the right road, with the Jeep in the lead.

Mustang flyover

Mustang flyover

The game began with the flyover from a USAAF (yes… during WWII it was the Army Air Force) P-51 Mustang. Just to check there were no Tiger or Acht-Achter around! None were spotted and the pilot was on his way back to base for a nice pint of beer. So the infantry moved off and the vehicles rumbled down the road at medium speed. It looked like a fine day so all the tankers were in their hatches looking out and the Lieutenant lit himself a Lucky Strike. The tank commander got the feeling that there was a shadow up in the bell tower so he ordered a 75mm shell put into it, which missed. But as a reward a bullet hit the roof of his Sherman right besides him. OK… this was not such a fine day after all and the crew decided that it was better to button up, if it started to rain lead. The American infantry started scaling the first bocage to get into the next fields on both flanks. No Krauts in sight! But on the left flank the Germans were moving out too. The riflemen from the squad moved into the open field to get a good view at the advancing Americans while, the men armed with SMGs moved along a field in the middle of the table to take the Yanks in the flank. The Germans on the right flank just stayed put, since they had cut firing positions into their hedgerow.

Vehicle starting postition

Vehicle starting position

By the time the Sherman was firing off his second shot at the bell tower (missing again), the German riflemen on both flanks opened up. Two GIs on the left were left dead while three men on the right flank went for cover, their morale badly shaken.

Down this road...

Down this road…

Since all the Sherman crew had now buttoned up, the German sniper tried to pick off the Lieutenant inside the Jeep, but only hit the windshield. Taking another pull from his cigarette he told the driver to pull over at the next intersection and the machine gunner to open fire on the sniper. Which served its purpose since the marksman took cover. At the same time the Americans on the left flank, took two more losses, one of them the Sergeant leading the squad. Now his men finally fired back, killing two Germans. But they also decided to move towards the centre and get out of the fire of the remaining German rifleman. The Americans on the right flank took their first loss and returned fire as well. One shot found and killed one of the Germans, but the others only riddled empty positions indie the bocage… the Germans were already pulling back to the second line.

Firing position

Firing position

While the Sherman rumbled past the Jeep, one of the Germans in the middle scaled the bocage unnoticed and sprayed the Jeep with his SMG, killing the driver and badly shaking the others. In the mad rush to push the dead driver out of the vehicle and take the wheel himself the officer almost lost his cigarette. At the same time the machine gunner swung around and killed the attacker. The Lieutenant hit the accelerator and started to move off, when the next German scaled the bocage and aimed his Panzerfaust at the Jeep… this was going to be messy! Except he missed his shot.

Achtung... Panzerfaust

Achtung… Panzerfaust!

At the same time the Sherman rumbled towards the bend in the road. Both the Panzerschreck teams got ready to fire and just for good measure a soldier with a Panzerfaust got out of the farm building by the road and took aim as well.

Cannons to the left of them, cannons to the right of them...

Cannons to the left of them, cannons to the right of them…

Oblivious to the danger in their flank and rear the Sherman crew began to fire the bow MG at the Panzerschreck team ahead. The first spray missed, but the second ripped into the Panzerschreck operator killing him instantly.

Enemy six o´clock

Enemy six o´clock

But both the other Panzerschreck and the Panzerfaust took their own sweet time to take aim. The Panzerfaust fired first, but by now the tank was out of optimum range and he missed. The remaining Panzerschreck took his chances as well, but he missed, too. Time to reload, but the Sherman was already moving out of sight.

Enemy three o´clock

Enemy three o´clock

At this time we had to call it a day, but the table remains set up and we will continue to play this coming Friday. Losses are five men on each side, which also includes a Sergeant with the Americans. So in this sense:

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

Point du Hoc in 28mm AAR

Point du Hoc in 28mm AAR

So yesterday we played our D-Day game. 1 1/2 weeks late, but we started in style at 1944h! 😉

The game itself depicts part of the assault by the US Army Rangers on the German battery atop the cliffs of Point du Hoc (or Point du Hue as it was originally called). On the American side we had E Company 2nd Ranger Btln., as well as the battalions HQ (led by Lt.-Col. Rudder), being landed on the beach by 4 LCA´s.

Table seen from the sea

Table seen from the sea
[Quiet an impressive view. This led Martin to comment that it was a daunting task to attack up the cliffs even in a game and how much more so it must have been in real life!]

On the German side we had roughly 1 1/2 Züge (platoons) from the 352. Infanteriedivision which was tasked with defending the battery. In Addition there was the company HQ, housed inside the firecontrol-bunker. Just part of the trenches directly on the cliffs was manned at the beginning of the game, since the German defenders had always assumed an attack would come from their land side… if at all.

Table at the start of the game

Table at the start of the game

Table at the start of the game

Table at the start of the game

The Allies  were tasked with taking the fire control bunker, the casemates destroying the guns within and to defend the position against an enemy counterattack afterwards (just like E Coy. was on the 6th of June 1944). The bunkers only housed “Quakerguns” (tree trunks painted black and mounted on tank barriers), but this did not change their historic mission. The Germans had to prevent this.

The battery

The battery

The battery

The battery

It is a long way to the top

It is a long way to the top

On the first round the initiative favoured the Americans somewhat, since they were able to move towards the ropes and climb them up before the Germans really knew what was happening.

First man on top

First man on top

But only four of them were fast enough to make it up the cliffs. The two on the far left attacked and took out the German machine gun nest build into the cliff, before it could even open fire. But all men who made it up in the first tiny wave paid a heavy price for it. The two who had just cleared the machine gun nest were killed outright by the rest of the German Trupp (Squad). The others all suffered severe injuries and were calling for their medics.

First blood

First blood

The Germans were moving into better positions in the trenches (as I said the majority were deployed to defend against an attack from land, not from the sea). The fire control bunker was a very strong position. The slit towards the sea was too small to be climbed through, the Tobruk in the roof could be closed with a hatch and the entrance was sealed with a heavy steel door and twin machineguns covering the approaches from behind embrasures. So they decided to go for a defend in-depth, wearing the Americans thin on the way to the casemates or attacking them when the reached the top of the cliff.

Inside the fire control bunker

Inside the fire control bunker

With the second wave of Rangers arriving on top the cliffs, the bunker started to look less impregnable. One of the rangers tossed a hand grenade through the slit, killing one of the radio operators inside the bunker and injuring the artillery spotter. Another Ranger climbed on top of the bunker and injured the Feldwebel firing from the Tobruk. When he tried to pull the body from the hole, one of the Germans boots became entangled in the steps and the Ranger was unable to clear the entry. This was seen by the men from the third Trupp and they started firing their MG42 at the American, forcing him to lie down.

Attacking the fire control bunker

Attacking the fire control bunker

3. Trupp postions

3. Trupp positions

On the other flank the Rangers started spilling into the trenches firing their rifles down into the Germans or spraying them with their Thompsons on the move. The Germans got back at them, clubbing them with the rifle butts or their Klappspaten (entrenching tools), very reminiscent of WWI and just as bloody!

Trench warfare

Trench warfare

In the middle of the cliff the first men from the Company HQ and those man scaling the spot where the Naval artillery had created an avalanche reached the top. The snipers from HQ took out two of the Germans hiding in the trench before them, only to suffer wounds of their own from their German counterparts. The spot above the avalanche was taken under fire from another MG42, forcing the men to go down on their bellies and not just a few of them taking hits as well.

Cliffline

The cliffs

Now the situation at the fire control bunker became even more heated. The remaining radioman in the bunker noticed was going on at the Tobruk and ran towards it to close the hatch. At the same time and in spite the machine gun rounds striking all around the roof another Ranger crawled up to help his mate drag the wounded German out, but still the boot was stuck and he would not move. They finally managed at about the same time the radioman reached for the hatch. One of the Rangers tossed a satchel charge down, blowing the German apart and both Rangers went inside. Seeing this the Feldwebel from the third Trupp took some men in a counter attack to help secure the bunker.

Counter attack

Counter attack

Alerted by the bang of the satchel charge one the MG crews tasked with securing the bunker entrance went to investigate. Realising that the enemy was inside they too counterattacked with hand grenades and their machine gun, killing both Rangers and closing the hatch before any more men could get in. At the same time the attack from the infantry had arrived as well. Throwing hand grenades and firing down the trenches, they were able to clear those Americans who were moving for the bunker entrance.

But by now every more men were coming up and the greater number and better quality of the Americans began to show. One by one the German infantry was taken out and the Rangers moved in for another attack.

Rangers climbing the cliffs

Rangers climbing the cliffs

To secure the bunker entrance the MG42 crew who had remained on their post started firing at the entrance area. But still two Rangers dared to assault and crawled through the fire. They were able to plant explosives and blast door out of its hinges. The machine gun team that had already cleared the first incursion, was able to make them pay the ultimate price, but with numbers in favour of the Americans, it was only a question of time till the bunker fell. So what was happening on the other flank and in the centre?

Lanzer and a Quaker gun

Lanzer and a Quaker gun

On the left flank things were turning in the Americans favour as well. Again the Rangers were better equipped and trained and slowly the numbers of defender decreased and the Rangers were able to secure their foothold and continuously move further to the rear. While still taking losses, the Germans suffered more.

Securing the foothold

Securing the foothold

Americans inside the trenches

Americans inside the trenches

In the middle the American medics had arrived on scene and patched up the snipers. These in turn were directed by Colonel Rudder himself. One by one they were able to take out the German snipers, rilfemen and even the machine gun molesting the men coming up the avalanche. With the medics moving of to care for the other American wounded and to put them back into the fight where possible, things were starting to look bleak for the Germans. And there were still more men on the beach waiting to climb up and take the fight to the Boche.

Queuing Ranger style

Queuing Ranger style

At this time we decided to call it a day (or rather a night since we were past midnight already). With the fight tilting ever more towards the Americans and still half the rounds to play we decided that this would have been an Allied victory in the end, with the Rangers securing the bunker and at least one casemate if we had played on. German losses were nearly 50% already, American losses about 20% (although there were many wounded men when we ended the game).

German defenders

German defenders

Table at the end of the game

Table at the end of the game

German positions

German positions

For those interested in the table itself:

The base table is 1,5m x 1,5m (roughly 5´ by 5´). It sports the three middle casemates from the battery, the crew bunker, the fire control bunker, two of the open concrete emplacements, as well as the connecting trenches. Attached to this are the cliffs (40cm / 16″ high) and on their lower end the shingle beach (0,6 m x 1,5 m / 2´ by 5´). I build this one for Crisis in Antwerp in 2007 where we were able to set it up on top the stairs which allowed the best use of the two levels. The layout of the trenches and bunkers was done using aerial reconnaissance photos I found in the Imperial War Museums archives in London, the layout of the bunkers according to German blueprints. Although in both cases I had to make some allowances for the basing of 28mm minis.

It is hard to set it up in my game room though since it leaves too little space in front of the beach section. So we set it up outside (luckily under a glass roof since it was raining yesterday). It was good to put the table to use once more after 5 years just seeing it stored away!

 

The game was played using the “The face of battle rules”.

 

British WWII landing craft

British WWII landing craft

In the run up to last weeks planned D-Day game (no new date set yet) I went and did some weathering on the landing craft. I have had these models since 2007, but the one thing that had always bothered me about them was that they looked too clean. So I went and did some weathering on them. Mostly rust-water stains. Anyone who has ever been on a metal ship or boat that is spending its days on the salt water seas will know that rust stains are almost inevitable. Obviously this will be less so on the big ships where constant maintenance is performed (like cuiseships or warships) and more so on those vessels where the crew is either unwilling or does not have the time to do constant maintenance. Since the landing craft for the D-Day invasion were in a lot of training use and had to undergo some rough handling as well (for larger transits or the channel crossing they were winched up the sides of warships) I decided to let them fall into the later category.

LCA 888

LCA 888

The LCA [Landing Craft Assault] was th most common landing craft used by the Commonwealth forces in WWII, filling the role for which the American mostly used the LCVP. It featured a hardboard hull, but was armoured against rifle bullets and shell splinters. It featured a 4 men crew and could carry up to 31 troops. Due to its armour, shallow draft and silenced engines it also became the landing craft of choice for the special forces… like the US Rangers who used four of them to land below the cliffs of Point du Hoc on D-Day.

LCAs 861, 722 & 862

LCAs 861, 722 & 862

Models are resin models from Grand Manner. I wanted them to carry the actual markings of the craft used by the Rangers (LCAs # 722, 861, 862 & 888), so I had the decals custom-made by Dom at Doms Decals.

LCA 862 (unloading)

LCA 862 (unloading)

The camo of a landing craft was actually dictated by the camo scheme used on the craft they would be attached to during the channel crossing. I could not find any info on these craft here or their “carrier” so I opted for a simple dark blue over grey camo.

LCA 862 (top view)

LCA 862 (top view)

Although none were used at Point du hoc, I also have a LCM. So while I was weathering away, I gave it a makeover as well.

LCM (front view)

LCM (front view)

LCM (rear view)

This is a LCM (rear view)

This is a LCM (3) [Landing Craft Mechanized] 1:48th scale model by Hobby Boss. It is not  waterline model so I had to cut the lower hull away and replace it with plasti-card, which turned out easier than I had thought. I build it to represent the Commonwealth version (although it is used by American troops on these photos), which differs from the US version in the placement of some minor items and lacks the machine guns on the rear deck. In real life these could carry a single 30-ton tank (e.g., a Sherman), 60 troops, or 60,000 lb (27,000 kg) of cargo.

LCM unloading

LCM unloading

LCM unloading (top view)

LCM unloading (top view)

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in American, Vehicles, WWII, WWII: British

 

US Army Armo(u)red Recon

I have been working long hours this week, so no further progress on the minis tha are on my table. So here is another blast from the past.

Now these were done six or seven years ago and looking at them today… I think I really need to go back and do some more weathering on these. When I do the next batch of vehicles, these will see the airbrush again. Another problem are the fogged up decals on some of the models

First up are a pair of M8 Greyhound Armo(u)red Cars with trailers. The models themselves are from Solido and came in the usual poor Solido quality… unpainted parts and the parts of the model that were painted contained large amounts of dust in the paint. So I sanded these and painted them anew. Stowage came from Tamiya and foam-core. Yes foam-core! I simply cut it into the shape of some boxes, covered it with tissue paper drenched in watered down PVA nd that is it. The commander is from Company B.

Solido M8 Greyhounds

Solido M8 Greyhounds

These M20´s are from Solido, too. They were just as bad as the Greyhounds, so they underwent the same treatment. Crews are from Victory Force.

Solido M20´s

Solido M20´s

And to add a little tracked element… a Stuart tank. Model is by Company B as are the tracks attached to front. Stowage is by Tamiya, too.

This is a real nice little model and I still have 3 of them lying around for my Brits. Really looking forward to doing those in due time.

Stuart tank by Company B

Stuart tank by Company B

So what do you think… should I add some more dust weathering or leave them as they are?

Group shot

Group shot

 

A new job & US halftracks

Many things have changed here in recent days. Except for the sad news in my last post, I have taken on a new job (which is good news). Well, this is not entirely correct. For the past 3 years I have been self-employed, so it is not really a new job, but a job. Back then it had been a necessity. When I was finished with university and my two years of mandatory internships, the market was flooded with people from my profession and it was bleeping hard to find a proper job. While those past 3 have not been bad, they sure were far from good. While there were month when I made good money, there was also a 5 month streak in 2009 when I made no money at all. And there were those times when I took on contracts that meant I was away from home for week after week. Not entirely what you are looking for. With the economy picking up and three 3 years of experience under my belt, I decided to try finding a proper job again. So as off last Monday I am working a proper job again. What else… I finally got to finish the next unit of Prussian Landwehr. Unfortunately the weather has turned bleeping poor here in Germany, so I have not had a chance to varnish them yet. So no photos. But I decided to give you something else instead. Now these were done about 2 years ago. The halftracks themselves are Corgi and I did not repaint those. While it would have made sense (after all one is Canadian and all three have slightly different colours and different camo), I found that removing the stowage that was on the models was hard to get off and the basic shape of them would have made re-marking them quite hard. Since the weathering on the these is actually nice by Corgi standards, I decided not to repaint them. Instead I added lots of stowage from Victory Force and some backpacks from a Hobby Boss Sherman kit. The crews and Infantry are Victory Force (with one exception). Getting the driver into the cab proved quite hard, since you have to dismantle the whole kit, which is not only screwed together, but also glued together. But in the end, this is the finished product.

3 Corgi M3 Halftracks

3 Corgi M3 Halftracks

Corgi Lim. Ed. American M3

Corgi Lim. Ed. American M3

Corgi unlimited American M3 (gunner by Brent Dietrich)

Corgi unlimited American M3 (gunner by Brent Dietrich)

Corgi Lim Ed Canadian M3 (now pressed into American service ;) )

Corgi Lim Ed Canadian M3 (now pressed into American service 😉 )

View of the inside

View of the inside

In the end, it was well worth the effort to add crews to these. It simply add so much life to a vehicle!