Saturday, 23 November 2019

Thursday night game of BG Wacht am Rhine

Well, it turned out to be an interesting game last night.  Playing US infantry task force vs German Panzer Division kamfgruppe.  Germans went with heavy armour - 3 Panthers, a Jagdpanther and a Tiger 1, plus a Puma and sniper recce and an infantry platoon and off board 120mm mortars.  US went with 2 Sherman platoons, each including a single 76mm version, one M10, an infantry platoon, recce in the form of an M20, jeep recce team and two snipers.  Crucially, the US also took two on board 105mm guns and an offboard medium mortar battery.  German BP 30, US BP 42, US tanks were weak and pitted against German behemoths, but the German force was brittle - who would hold out.

The battlefield was laid out as below and the scenario was flank attack.  German random deployment was top left, so US took the lower right and opted for their recce to come on lower left, leaving German recce top right.  German deployment only allowed a single main force unit (a Jagdpanther) and the two recce.  US troops got 3 mainforce units, a 105mm howitzer, spotter team and M10 tank destroyer, as well as their 4 recce units.  Germans were outscouted, so took a chit and there were 4 on table objectives at the crossroads, one of the village buildings on the left, the left side of the woods left of the village and left side of the woods in the foreground.

The M10 quickly took up overwatch in the woods lower right, covering the road and village while the observer team pushed down the right flank.  Recce pushed down the left, using available cover, with a sniper rushing across the road to join the M10 and eventually try and enter the village.  Crucially, my 105mm fired on a programmed target, right in front of the Jagdpanther.  A lucky 6, followed by a double figure score on 2d6 scratched the Jagdpanther (see below).  Suddenly, things were looking better for the Americans.  Jerry pushed his Puma forward to the crossroads and sniper forward towards the village.

The Americans just about won the race for reinforcements, but only just.  Jerry pushed forward with his Tiger 1, but couldn't advance out of the beaten zone of the programmed artillery point.  Repeated 105mm strikes pinned it turn after turn, soaking up chits each turn for the German to unpin.  In the meanwhile, the US Shermans quickly dealt with the Puma, and offtable mortar fire slowed the German infantry, causing casualties on the way.  Crucially, the German Panthers, once they turned up, were able to advance without serious trouble, down the centre and into the US right flank, and once a hit was scored, that was it for the Shermans.

US infantry cautiously advance into the woods, attempting to infiltrate the edge of the village.

US 105mm howitzers, hoping for lucky KOs on the German armour.  Alas, after the Jagdpanther, the other German tanks led a charmed life.

We had to close the game at the end of the evening just short of a conclusion.  The Americans had just 2 Shermans running and were losing the attrition with the Germans.  However, the US artillery, especially mortars which were specifically targeting the German infantry, were whittling them down and the Americans still held three of the four objectives.  When we totted up the chits, the Germans were on 29 and just one short of their BP of 30, whereas the US were on 19 out of 42.  So, somewhat bloody, but likely to be a reasonably comfortable win for the Americans.  The Detroit factories would have to run some overtime to replace the lost armour (well, perhaps release some from the massive stockpiles) and levy the surviving crew members with some replacement personnel and some replacements drafted into the infantry as well, having lost an entire section to Panther MG fire, but the units would soon be back in the fight.  Meanwhile, Jerry had lost a powerful tank destroyer and quite a few irreplaceable infantry and gun crews, as well as the tactical loss of the village.

All in all a fun game - I've decided I like the American firepower, although I'm less impressed with the performance of their Shermans - at least a Firefly or Achilles means the Germans have to be more canny about how they push forwards.

As ever, thanks for looking.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

15mm US Shermans and tank destroyers

Getting ready for a 700 point Wacht am Rhine game tonight, so dusted off these models that I finished over the summer, but never got around to photographing.

Two troops of three 76mm Shermans - all from Battlefront I think.

A troop/battery of M10s.  Cheap, gun no better than a regular Sherman and open topped, so no match for German armour in a stand up fight and really vulnerable to artillery.  Did I mention they were cheap though.

Two of these were from the Battlefront tank destroyer box set, which came with 2 jeeps and an M20.

An M18 Hellcat.  Cheap, open topped and still not much better gun than a Sherman - again, not much use in a stand up fight.

An M36 Jackson - 90mm gun so at least a bit more oomph.  Still open topped and again not much good in a stand up fight.

M20 utility car with .50 cal.  Just realised - this one needs some decals.

Back these up with some on table 105s with a spotter team and pre-reg target, off table 3" mortars and a platoon of infantry and they should be able to put out some fire power.  Even 105mm howitzers can give a Kingtiger a bad day with a killing hit and a good dice roll.  Probably needed as I'm up against Tiger Phil tonight!!!!

Friday, 25 October 2019

15mm Battlefront Sdfkz 234s

Another purchase from a couple of years ago, this time the Battlefront Sdkfz 234 pack.  Six vehicles and able to be built as the 1, 2, 3 and 4 marks.  I decided on 3 234/1s, and one each of the 234/2 (Puma), 234/3 and 234/4.  Enough for a heavy recce platoon with some late war AT ooomph!

The 234/3 Stummel mounting a short barreled 75mm howitzer.

One of the 3 234/1s mounting a 20mm autocannon and coaxial MG.

The 234/2 Puma with platoon commander exposed in the turret hatch.

The 234/4 mounting a 75mm PAK40, only available during the later stages of the war, but should be able to give the Allied armoured cars and light tanks a shock or two.

The whole group from the rear.

A great set -  a shame the new "improved" packs from Battlefront don't appear to have the same versatility - their loss, my gain I guess.  Even more versatility in this pack is that there are enough turrets to reconfigure each Puma as a 234/1 and vice versa, so lots of options!  Now to find some suitable Humber armoured cars in 15mm, both for my plucky Brits and to have one as a beute version for Graebner in an Arnhem scenario.

Thanks for looking.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Battlegroup Kursk 15mm club game

Last Thursday night saw Pete and I slugging it out between two 650 point evenly matched battlegroups.

My German Panzer Division battlegroup was spearheaded by two Tiger Is, supported by a platoon of Pz IVGs and a panzergrenadier platoon with PAK40 and HMG team.  Recce comprised a 250/1 with 4 man recce team and a 222, with off table support from 80mm mortars with an on table observer team.

Pete's Russian Infantry Division battlegroup included 2 T-34 platoons, plus a platoon of KV-1s, an infantry platoon, recce foot patrol and sniper team, plus numerous observers and an off table Katyusha battery,

We decided on a simple meeting engagement between the spearheads two thrusts, no objectives, d6 units plus scouts on table and 1d6 reinforcements from turn 2.  With equal scouts, I was lucky to win the initiative as well as having a slight edge with three units plus scouts on table vs two plus scouts for Pete.  I opted for a Tiger, Pz IV and HMG team to supplement the 222 and 250/1 team.  All moved to hull down positions on the subtle crestlines of the low hills in fromt of me, except the PzIV, which advanced into the woods on the right.  Pete brought on a KV-1 and a T-34, while his sniper team unsuccessfully tried to draw a bead on the HMG team.

In the next couple of turns, the Germans won the reinforcement race and soon had quite a gun line hull down along the line of hills and were trading shots with the Russian T-34s and KV-1s as they appeared on the left flank.  By the stage in the photo below, I was coming off pretty poorly, as I lost a Tiger to rocket artillery and two Pz IVs to T-34 fire, although I had KO'd a KV-1, 2 T-34s and immobilised a third.  My sole surviving Tiger was getting the range and starting to hurt the enemy.

On the right flank, my Pz IV on reserve move in the woods was in a stand off with Petes KV-1 on ambush fire.

Not long after, a lucky double 1 immobilised my last Tiger, leaving me one running tank.  However, the Tiger could still shoot and, in a rush of blood, Pete tried to KO the Tiger by rushing it with his remaining T-34s and a KV-1.  Sadly, I had a PAK 40 in defilade behind a hill in front of my main line of defence, which took flank shots at Pete's armour, while the Tiger, receiving multiple non-penetrating hits, managed to roll beyond the call of duty tests successfully and fired back out of turn, KO'ing all the remaining running tanks. 

This left just the single KV-1 on the German right in the stand off with the Pz IV.  I reserve moved the PzIV to the edge of the woods, but out of sight of the KV-1 behind the hill, which forced Pete to move onto the hill and, in the trade off of shots, the KV-1 came off worst.

Meanwhile, on the German left, infantry scurried forward past the burning Russian tanks and whittled away the Russian infantry and command.

Pete's battlegroup eventually broke under the sustained losses.  Due to some really fortunate chit pulls, my chits weren't even at the 50% level, so a German victory.  It all seemed a bit pyrrhic though as I was left with only one running Pz IV, although I'm sure the Tiger could be patched up and got back into service once the Russian force broke.  All in all a great game, rather attritional and some interesting swings in fortune.  Those 12 dice from a Katyusha battery can cause havoc, thank goodness they only arrive every third turn.  This was the second outing for my early war German infantry, although the Pz IVs and Tigers were on their first tabletop appearance, so have broken their beginners curse.

As ever, thanks for looking.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

15mm Winter Stug IIIGs

I picked up two boxes of Battlefront Stug IIIGs at the bring and buy at Joy of Six 2018 - total cost a tenner.  During a major tidy up of the stash, I assembled them over the summer and painted them up in a late war 3-tone scheme.  Once varnished, I set them aside to fully dry out, before applying a snow/frost effect, using a paste mix of Vallejo off-white, PVA glue and baking soda.

Both sets, one from each buttoned up and the other with hatch open and commander exposed.

Earlier version with MG34 pintle mount, from the front.

And rear.

Later versions with automated MG42, front view.

And from the rear.

The whole group again.

Detail of the later version commander with tin hat, wearing a white snow smock, gloves and face obscured by a woollen scarf, all heavily frosted.

Earlier version with detail of commander, similarly attired although he isn't feeling the cold as much as his face is more exposed.

So, with the Panthers and these Stugs, I've got enough winter armour to fight scenarios set in the last two winters of WW2, especially the Bulge offensive.

I've not posted much recently as I've been working on an early war 15mm German army.  During the stash sort out, I rediscovered various kits for Pz IIs, IIIs, IVs and Stug Bs, as well as boxes of Plastic Soldier early war German infantry and support weapons.  More of these in a later post.

Thanks for looking.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

15mm Zvezda Stuka zu Fuss

I was at a loose end in Chester today while my lad was enjoying a 3d virtual reality experience as part of his birthday gifts (belated from last month so his school mates could come along).  So, with an hour to myself, the obvious hang outs were Waterstones and Chester Model Centre.  While in the model shop, I noticed they had the relatively new Zvezda Stuka zu Fuss, so thought I'd pick one up to see how it looks.  I've never really thought about using rocket artillery in games, lots of punch, but long load times and wildly inaccurate.

So, having got home, I assembled it in about 10 minutes, the body taking just a couple of minutes, but the rocket launchers taking up the rest of the time - quite fiddly consisting of the rocket and two halves for each launcher.  The whole lot snaps together quite robustly, with no need for glue.

Quite a good looking model once assembled, so another vehicle to add to the assembled, but unpainted, stash.  Thanks for looking.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

15mm Winter Panthers

After a bit of a summer break - one with very little sunshine this year, unfortunately - it's back to the painting table.  I had a box of Battlefront Panthers some time ago and assembled two of them as Jagdpanthers.  Recently, I converted the spare turrets into Pantherturms.  I'd always intended to use the three remaining kits as winter Panthers, as I have plenty of regular version.  I also found a free to download 3d model of the Jagdpanther, so decided to have a go at 3d printing using the new 3d printer at our company - I won't mention the source of the file as I don't think my printing abilities come close to doing it justice.

I painted these as normal and then winterised them with some snow made from PVA glue, Vallejo off-white and baking soda mixed into a damp paste and liberally daubed over the models.  Applied as a paste it looks quite good as snow and with more dry brushing it resembles frost, especially as the baking soda starts to crystallise as it dries.  The Jagdpanther also had a dilute wash of off-white before the snow effect was added to simulate whitewash.

The complete group.

The three Panthers.

Platoon leader with commander in the hatch.

Close-up of the leader in a snow smock and frosted helmet.

The whitewashed Jagdpanther.  I printed this one with the model standing on the rear end, resulting in the scan lines running vertically across the model when it stands on the tracks.  This wouldn't have looked good without the snow effects, which mask a lot of the printing lines.  Experimentation appears to be resulting in quite a bit of improvement in the final finish of 3d prints.

The whole group from the rear.

Detail of the snow effect on the Panther rear decks.

I have 4 StugIIIGs on the painting table, ready to winterise, so should soon be able to field the Recce infantry platoon from BG Wacht am Rhine, supported by a battery of Stugs, and/or a platoon of Panthers and a Jagdpanther, all suitably winterised.  They should also do for any late war eastern front winter scenarios.  I'm starting to feel chilly already.
More on the winter Stugs and some early war German kit, suitable for BG Blitzkrieg to Kursk to follow.  As ever, thanks for looking.