Friday, 15 June 2018

Battlegroup Nordwind

Will and I played out a game of Battlegroup at the club last night, using stats from the Overlord book.  Will had devised a scenario based on a Rapid-Fire game based on an action during Operation Nordwind in Alsace during very late 1944/early 1945.

I took the German side with an on-table SS panzergrenadier platoon, plus an additional squad, tripod MG34, 20mm AA, 2 artillery spotters and an FHQ.  Crucially, AT support came from a Stug IIIG, Jagdpanzer IV 70 and a PAK 40 AT gun.  I had to deploy half the platoon in woods on the German left and half in buildings in the village of Herrlisheim on the right, with a broad open snowscape between them.  The Stug hid behind the woods on the left (one objective), while the PAK40 was dug in at the back of the village (two objectives) and the Jagdpanzer IV was concealed in trees on the forward edge of the village.  In reserve, I had a platoon of Panthers, plus a Gepanzert Panzergrenadier platoon, which would be activated if an objective was taken by the Yanks.

Will's yankies included a Sherman FHQ and three Sherman platoons, plus 2 platoons of mechanised infantry, 2 mortar half tracks, a towed 57mm AT gun, an op in Sherman and 3 gun Priest battery.

Will started with a bunch of Shermans coming on table, although his reserves rolls were generally low and force build-up took a while.  My Stug initially on reserve move waited his time, while the PAK40 and Jagdpanzer IV traded shots with the Amis.  Both the PAK40 and Jagdpanzer IV quite quickly got put out of action by poor morale rolls.  Galling to say the least as the Jagdpanzer was forced to abandon when hit by a Sherman 76mm round.  At the range, the Sherman couldn't penetrate, but need a 12 to pin.  Having rolled double six and pinning it, the Jgdpzr rolled a 1 for morale so abandoned the vehicle (a 1:36 chance of the pin and a 1 in 6 chance of the abandoning result, so 1 in 216 chance of the outcome).  Fortunately, my veteran Stug saved the day.  It swung to the edge of the woods, unsighting half the yankee tanks and then took pot shots at the other half.  First a Sherman brewed up.  Then the Stug was pinned, but follow up fire hitting the Stug called a morale test and beyond the call of duty test, which passed and so another Sherman brewed up.  In his own turn, the Stug brewed up another Sherman, and was again pinned by return fire before taking a non-penetrating hit, another beyond the call of duty test passed and another burning Sherman.  The shot below shows the highlight of the Stugs activity with burning Shermans scattered downrange. 

Sadly, all too soon, a lucky shot from a Sherman did for the Stug, by which time Ami half tracks were disgorging a platoon of infantry in front of the woods.  Two Ami sections and a .30 call were KO'd, a third section and .30cal reduced to one man each, but neither were pinned so they skulked back into their half tracks for protection. 

A larger view of the table top.  Pintle MG fire from halftracks and 3 gun Priest battery strikes have done for the infantry in the woods and the Amis have secured the objective there, triggering the German reserves to stabilise the front.  Panzergrenadiers have rushed across the railway line in 251s, trying to close with the US infantry in the woods.  Off screen to the right, Panthers trade long range shots with Shermans trying for suppression.  On the right, Ami half tracks close with the village.

One of the Panthers is KO'd at the level crossing by a Priest artillery strike.  More 251s with infantry rush towards the village.

The village, looking deceptively tranquil, but each house is manned by panzergrenadiers armed to the teeth.

Oh for another Stug!!!

The battlefield littered with burning Shermans.

We played from c. 6pm until 11:30, but had to finish just short of a conclusion.  The plucky Jerries were 2 points off breaking, while the Amis had oodles of points left (around 30), so the Germans hadn't done too well.  The Germans had poor luck with their two timed Nebelwerfer strikes, which completely missed anything owing to Ami reluctance to get stuck in and close with the enemy.  Fortunately, the two pre-planned artillery points were much better placed, allowing off table 120mm mortars to pin lots of vehicles at crucial moments.  The poor morale rolls for the PAK40 and Jgdpnzr IV were also a blow as some flank shots would have kept the Amis more bottled up.  Historically, the Americans left the infantry to mop up the woods and drove the tanks into the village, with disastrous results from Panzerfausts at close range.  Afterwards, we discussed whether there needed to be a scenario rule requiring the Americans to split their force, or maybe the Germans get reserves from a particular turn (rather than when an objective s taken) and whether some form of hidden deployment should be used.

All in all, a great evenings entertainment.  Lots of heart in the mouth moments.  The commander of the Stug would have deserved an Iron Cross had he survived.

Thanks for looking.

Friday, 8 June 2018

15mm Early English Civil War - somewhere in the southwest of England

Steve H and I played out a game of Pike and Shotte at the club last night.  All the troops are from Steve's most excellent collection of 15mm miniatures.  I took command of a gallant Parliamentary contingent, consisting of two battalia, each of two pike blocks and four sleeves of muskets, one with a medium gun and the other with both a medium gun and a small gun.  There was also a battalia with a unit of dragoons and two commanded shot, one large, and two wings of cavalry, one armed with carbines, the other with pistols, each of three companies.  Steve took command of the Royalists, with a battalia of two pike blocks and four musket sleeves plus a unit of commanded shot, and another battalia of four pike blocks with two musket sleeves, recruited from Cornwall.  Steve also took command of two wings of cavalry, each of three companies.

The disposition of our forces just as we got to grips is shown below, viewed from the rear of the Parliamentarian lines.  We went with a classic deployment with cavalry wings to our flanks.  I placed the commanded shot in the centre, flanked to either side by the pike and musket battalia.  I placed the unit of dragoons to the rear of the woods on the left so they could advance and dismount on the front edge of the woods and harass the cavalry on that flank.  Steve's Cornishmen form the pike block on the right of the photo, while his musket heavy battalia with a unit of commanded shot is in the centre.

View looking along the "deadly field" between the two armies.  Parliament on the left, Royalists on the right.

The dragoons have been doing their stuff and attempting to disrupt the Royalist cavalry on Parliaments left, making them reluctant to charge home with only two of their three units.

This tactic worked as long as I could keep rolling at least one 6 for firing.  So far so good.

Initial musketry on Parliaments right were largely ineffective, but the Cornish pike blocks were getting closer.

An early success for Parliament saw a unit of Cornish muskets break and flee the field.

On Parliaments right, the cavalry watch each other with suspicion, while there is much push of pike and wielding of muskets like clubs in the infantry ranks.

In the centre, Royalist infantry had caused some nuisance hits on the numerically superior Parliamentarians, but in response, the Parliamentarians much regretted allowing their powder to get damp as their fire was ineffective more or less all the way down the line.

Alas for democracy, on the left, the Royalist horse managed to charge and broke the Parliamentarian cavalry on that wing.

By the close of the game, on the right, and much against the odds, the Parliament horse managed to break the Royalist horse, although there would need to be a significant amount of rallying before they would be any use again.  One of the Parliament commanded shot units has wheeled right and taken the Cornishmen under fire from the flank.

In the centre, Royalist horse from the left flank charged in and broke the light gun and a unit of muskets, but pulled up short of the pikes, which had broken a sleeve of muskets in the Royalist line.  Another Royalist pike block had charged the commanded shot, but they were holding their own at least initially.

On the left, two units of horse were waiting their opportunity, while the third was resting shaken.

We agreed to call it a draw, although things were beginning to go the Royalists way.  We agreed that both commanders could report back to King and Parliament that there had been a bloody struggle with great loss of life and maiming, but with little to show for it.  Both sides could lick their wounds and enter another round of recruiting, ready to meet again on another field somewhere in the southwest of England.

This game was great fun to play.  For the first time I got to grips with the proximity rule which restricts what units can do when there is enemy close to their front.  Several other players stopped to say what a great looking table and Steve's troops did indeed look the business.  Thanks to Steve for laying this game on, I really must get on with my 10mm ECW army.

Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

15mm Kubelwagens

These are a pair of Forged in Battle Kubelwagens.  There are 4 in a pack and the other two are going to join an early war force decked out in Panzer grey.  These vehicles are for a late war force in dunkelgelb.  One crew is wearing a camo smock, the other a medium grey uniform.  They can provide transport for an infantry FHQ or an artillery observer team.

Nice models, one piece resin castings with a base.  No real assembly, other than fitting the crew, which was a bit of an issue as the rear passengers are too broad shoulders to fit in the rear seats side by side.

I paid close to full price for these at the Recon Show, back in December, but they filled a niche in the 15mm German forces for Battlegroup.

Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

15mm WW2 Elephant/Ferdinand

Yet another of the bargain Battlefront WW2 vehicles, this time an Elephant or Ferdinand; I think it all depends whether it has a bow machine gun or not.

I've painted this one as suitable for mid- to late-war eastern, and possibly western front in a base of dunkelgelb (Vallejo Middlestone) with a reticulated pattern of grey/green (Reflective green and Field Grey).  Tracks are a mix of orange-brown and flat brown.  The whole lot was washed with dilute Agrax Earthshade.  Vehicle was dry brushed Iraqi sand to give it a dusty look.

Decals are I-95 from Pendraken.  Aerial is a length of nylon fishing line.

Air intake grills were washed with Nuln oil.

Quite a nice model of the vehicle, should add a bit of Ooomph to my 15mm Germans when needed.  I recently purchased a pair in 20mm from Will, so wonder how long it will take me to a) build them and b) paint them.

Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Battlegroup Market Garden weekend part 2

Sunday (Day 2) saw us playing only one game, for most of us a basic attack-defence scenario, although the top German player (Steve Hann) and British player (Ian Shaw) were assigned the Hard Road scenario on the table with roads lined by marshy areas, probably typical of the terrain around Elst on "the |Island" between Nijmegen and Arnhem, representing the final Allied effort to reach the bridge at Arnhem.  Again 500 points a side.  I was drawn to play Andy, who was fielding a battlegroup from 30 Corps, which seemed to consist of a motorised infantry platoon in half tracks, supported by a pair of Achilles tank destroyers, a Vickers MMG and some engineers, backed up by a battery of 25 lbrs.  For this game, I rested the SS armoured recce platoon, severely mauled by Warwick's US glider infantry the previous day, and turned instead to a platoon of sailors, which I upgraded to regulars.  These were supported by a sniper, 4 Stug IIIGs, an armoured assault pioneer squad in an Sdkfz 251/1 and an Sdkfz 251/16, backed up with a dedicated 120mm mortar battery, plus a times strike from a battery of 105mm howitzers.

Our table was at the Eindhoven end of Hells Highway and comprised the road (Hells Highway), lined by buildings just to the rear of 30 Corps defence line and a canal on the German right (top of photo).  Andy rolled a 7 for on board deployment and put two Achilles between buildings facing the German table edge, the Vickers in a building on the extreme German left and assorted engineers and command elements in various buildings along the road and around the bridge.  On turn 1, my timed howitzer strike and mortars hit and pinned everything on the board bar the Vickers and some HQ units.  Unfortunately, my Stugs couldn't hit a thing.  Andy couldn't do a great deal, so lifted pin markers for two chits, although his pre-registered target in the woods pinned my sniper - he was to stay effectively pinned for most of the game.   Ambush fire from the other Achilles immobilised a Stug, but then the two Stugs replied and dealt with the Achilles, which burned, the other was pinned again.
Turn 3 saw German reserves rushing on in the form of the assault engineers and 251/16, as well as an arty spotter and some sailors.  The sailors advanced through the woods on the German right, while 120mm mortars pinned the remaining Achilles.  The assault engineers pushed their half tracks down the left flank, closing with the Vickers team.  The Stugs advanced to close the range with the other Achilles, while the heavy mortars pinned it.  The British replied with more 25lbr fire and a battery of 4.5" guns (I think that's what he rolled up), plus a timed Typhoon strike, but these only pinned the FHQ and sniper, again.  By turn 4, the 251 carrying the assault engineers was able to hose the Vickers team with MG fire, causing enough casualties for them to flee.  The Stugs opened up on the Achilles, which tried to reply with ineffective AP shots at the Stug using ambush fire - the British commander had to take a chit to unpin for the Achilles to fire.  German reserves came on including 2 Stugs with sailor tank riders, plus some supply train trucks.  Finally, in Turn 5, the Stugs were able to deal with the last Achilles, which left very little AT capability for the Brits.  The two assault pioneers Hannomags went on reserve move, while the 120mm mortars pounded the engineers in the buidlings around the bridge.  The British reserve half tracks also came on but there weren't enough orders to get them moving.  Next turn, the Germans issued a general advance with Stugs and sailors moving out on the right and the assault pioneers half tracks reserve moving up to within range of the remaining British engineers by the bridge.  The German artillery spotters moved the heavy mortars onto the reserve half tracks, pinning 1 and KO'ing another of them, while the 251/16 jetted flame to left and right, incinerating engineers in both buildings.  The British moved the last mobile half track forward and debussed a PIAT team and section, which occupied the nearest building, but only to have them incinerated by the 251/16, along with a handful of surviving British engineers, forcing enough chits to break the 30 Corps battlegroup.  Again, it was a hectic battle and I took very few pictures.

Here, towards the end of the game, sailors on foot and riding on Stugs advance towards the buildings around the canal bridge.

This view shows the 251/16 just in front of the bridge, which has sprayed fire to left and right, effectively neutralising the occupants of both the grey and red buildings.  The 251/1 with assault engineers waits slightly behind in case they are needed.  In the foreground a Stug waits on reserve move, to swing around and line up on the half tracks in the British rear (far left).

The engineers half tracks in more detail.

On other tables:

Mike was issued a King Tiger to augment his battlegroup.  It rolled forwards and destroyed a sniper team, before being brewed up by a 17pdr AT gun.

British paratroopers dug in with the blown up King Tiger in the foreground.

The hard road scenario saw bitter fighting between Ian's Shermans of 30 Corps and Steve's SS Stugs, with the Germans doing just enough to claim victory when time was called.

Will's US paratrooper forces very generously allocated the area on the right in this view for German deployment on the Veghel table.  The limited crossing points were never going to be easy.

Will's US paratroopers dug in in the open spaces within Veghel.

Germans advancing on another dug in Allied defence line, here supported by an FW 190.

Dug in 30 Corps infantry supported by Shermans, being dealt with by a mixed German battlegroup.

Sadly, I didn't take anywhere near enough shots of either the games I was involved in or some of the epic encounters on other tables.  The final tally saw the Germans secure enough points to call a victory, effectively cutting Hells Highway and putting the armoured spearhead of 30 Corps at risk of being surrounded and out of supplies.

It was a great weekend, all the players approached the game in a great spirit and took reversals of fate with a philosophical attitude.  There was very little gloating except when Mr Shaw suffered any reversal of fortune, and that was just the Allied players.  Roll on the next one.

Thanks for looking.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Battlegroup Market Garden weekend part 1

This weekend just gone, 18 keen Battlegroup players assembled for a linked series of games based around attempts by German battlegroups to cut Hells Highway during the Market Garden operation, coming up against determined opposition including British and US airborne and 30 Corps British armour and infantry.  Each game was based on 500 point forces and started with the recce screen scenario, followed by flank attack and ending with an attack-defence game for most, although the top German and British players for the weekend played each other using the hard road scenario.

So, here are the tables on Saturday morning as we laid them out the previous afternoon.  There were 10 in total and they run from just outside Eindhoven (Table 1 below), through to Arnhem (Table 10).

Hells Highway crossing one of the many canals in its path.

Hells Highway with a bridge crossing approached via a ribbon built up area amidst open farmland with woods in the distance.

Another fairly open table, broken up by fields, with road causeway flanked by ditches.

Hells Highway running on a ditched causeway, crossing a river.

The town of Veghel, surrounded by canals.

One of the US Airborne landing zones, with wrecked Waco glider.

Detail of the glider wreck.

The hard road.  A crossroads set in marshland - not much opportunity to swing off the road here.

The Waal river and canal.

Downtown Arnhem.

A wrecked tram on the deserted streets of Arnhem.

Somewhere outside Oosterbeek.

My first game on Saturday saw my 9th SS Armoured Recce platoon tasked with dealing with the British paratroopers believed to have landed in the area around Oosterbeek.  The game (recce screen) started with only a single Sdkfz 222 for the Germans and two British recce jeeps for a whole 5 turns.  The 222 headed down the road and swung around the farmhouse, keeping a watchful eye on one of the recce jeeps in the woods to the right of the picture below, while moving on the other recce jeep which had secured an objective in the farm orchard.  Bursts of 20mm autocannon did for the jeep and casualties on the crew caused them to break, heading for the rear.

As the SS reserves began to arrive, the FHQ advanced to the farm and dismounted from their transport, which pushed on down the road to try and engage the other recce jeep in the woods to the right of the road.

The British paratroopers, commanded by Ian, came on in the corner of the table behind the church and rapidly put troops into the church and woods behind, as well as pushing small units towards the wooded area to the left of the church.  Must importantly, he placed a 6pdr AT gun behind the wall to the right of the church and began to take pot shots at the Sdkfz 222.  The British AT gun failed to observe the 222 in several rounds of firing and when it did achieve a hit, managed to roll just about the only score that didn't pin, brew up or immobilise it, a 3 from 2d6.

Very quickly, the German Stugs and Sdkfz 250s began to fan out, hemming the paratroopers into their corner of the table.  On the right, MG fire from the Stugs and the 251 command transport dealt with the recce jeep.  On the left, Stugs and a 250 advanced and secured the Orchard.  The FHQ in the farmhouse called down accurate 80mm mortar fire on the 6pdr AT gun and the paratrooper infantry sections pushing through the woods behind.  The mortars and some vicious 20mm autocannon shots from the 222 did for the AT gun crew.

The loss of the second recce jeep and 6pdr, coupled with the need to unpin various units due to the German mortars, coupled with the loss of 2 objectives, meant that Ian's paratroopers were well on the way to their breakpoint when time was called.  For their part, the Germans had taken 2 chits, worth 5 points.  So, a decisive victory and the paratrooper defenders at the Arnhem bridge were not going to be reinforced today at least.

On other tables, the Germans managed to blow up one of the canal bridges just outside Eindhoven, thereby temporarily cutting Hells Highway.

My second outing of the day was against Warwick's US glider infantry in Veghel.  This game turned out to be a very intense affair, resulting in me getting so embroiled in the game that I completely forgot about photographs.  Warwick's recce, including 2 jeeps and a section of Dutch terror fighters, quickly pushed into the outskirts of the town, occupying some key buildings.  In response, the SS recce Sdkfz 222 took up a position on the flank of town, commanding the objective by the canal bridge there and covering the area that Warwick had to cross to reinforce much of Veghel itself.  The SS FHQ took up a good observation position in a building on the edge of town and began calling in 80mm mortar fire.  Warwick reciprocated in kind with some nasty 105mm artillery, but his on table 75mm battery was dealt with by the 222 and mortars.  The Germans quickly built up reinforcements and filtered a mix of Stugs and MG34 teams in 250/1s into the town and around the flanks.  Losses mounted on both sides, with chits taken and handed out.  The German firepower began to tell though and glider infantry, as well as very robust terror fighters, were blasted out of buildings by combined Stug MG and 250/1 MG fire, while mortars rained down on infantry reserves and 222 autocanon fire attempted to sweep away squads on the left flank.  With just 2 points from breaking for the SS battlegroup, Warwick announced he had exceeded his and withdrew.  Phew, it was a close run thing.  I really regret not taking more pictures, as this was a humdinger.

So, by the end of Saturday, my dice had enjoyed an unprecedented run of success, and my SS battlegroup had seen off Ian's British paratroopers and Warwick's US glider infantry (the latter at considerable cost).  For Sunday's game, which would involve a deliberate attack on Hells Highway, I decided to rest the SS and allow them to lick their wounds, while I called up the big guns.  Sailors, hastily drafted from available manpower in coastal naval bases, albeit better trained than most due to anti-partisan activities.  They would be supported by Stugs scraped together on an ad hoc basis, but they had been allocated a timed barrage from some 105mm howitzers as well as a battery of dedicated heavy mortars.  A single sniper was also acting as a recce screen for the German force.

More on this shortly.