Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Joy of Six 2018

Last Sunday,15th July, saw Ian and I cross the Pennines, bright and early to get to Sheffield for 9am for the Joy of 6 show.  If you've never heard of it or not been, it is a fantastic show dedicated to all things 6mm.  It's organised by Sheffield-based Baccus and Wargames Emporium and frequented by traders such as Heroics and Ros, Leven Miniatures, Brigade Games, etc.  It's a relatively small, but friendly show held at the Sheffield Hallam University in Hallam Hall.

The Cold War Commanders had got together to set up a big modern game in 6mm, but this time, we decided to make it difficult for ourselves by putting on the same game with the same scenario, but set in three different time periods.  Our scenario was set several days into a Soviet incursion across the inner German border, with Soviet forces attempting to seize control of the town of Wesel in northern Germany, close to the Dutch border.  We decided on a Soviet Motor Rifle Regiment taking on a British battalion of cross-attached mechanized infantry and armour.  The games were to be set in 1959 (ATGMs in their infancy), 1973 (the death of the tank from ATGM, based on experience in the Middle East) and 1989 (new ERA and Chobham armour to defeat ATGMs).

This was to be my table for the game set in 1989.  The outskirts of Wesel to be defended by the Brits and the Soviets coming on from the right.

Looking into the past, 1989 in the foreground, 1973 in the middle and 1959 in the far distance - the pink ribbons mark the game boundaries.

The passage of time, Wesel suburbs in 1989.

The urban sprawl from Wesel just beginning to extend into the playing area in 1973.

1959, an urban planners dream, undeveloped land around Wesel.

Even in 1989 it's still safe to say "Well, they came on in the same old way, so we beat them in the same old way".  Here Ian's T-80s try to look menacing as they approach the river, which Soviet planners believed to be a track.

The Brits dropped smoke on the Soviet air defences and then called in fast air.  The first available Jaguar, with iron bombs, was lucky to get some minor hits on the T-80s.

The Soviets were badly mauled by a troop of Challengers in the woods just visible on the extreme right of the view.  They were also hit by long range ATGMs called in from the woods in the foreground, until the CO made two blunders, both resulting in cross-fire in 2 successive turns.  The first caused hits, but the second caused both FV438s and the Striker to brew up.  The Challengers would have to do the job on their own.

Wesel had been selected as the site for a forward medical post and REME unit, as well as being garrisoned by 2 companies of infantry and their Warrior IFVs.

A pair of Jaguars streak across the battlefield in search of the last vestiges of Soviet resistance.

In the end, a single Challenger 1 squadron in the centre of the table was able to bring the Soviet advance to a halt.  With two troops engaging the T-80s on the British left, supported by the ATGM units while they were still around, and a pair of Lynx Milan armed helicopters was enough to halt the Soviet tanks.  Another two troops of Challengers firing into the Soviet centre effectively wiped out the Soviet anti-air assets and one of the BTR-80 battalions.  Over on the right, another BTR-80 battalion was decimated by NATO artillery (3 Abbotts and 3 155mms) and, when they got in range, direct fire from Warriors on the end of Wesel.

Apart from the 3 ATGM launchers destroyed by blunders, the Brits lost a single Warrior IFV.  The Soviets lost over half their starting force.  Challenger Is with 6 attacks out to 100cm, 6 hits and a save on 3 are really hard to deal with - as I found out in the Landjut game at Slimbridge when my Polish marines were on the receiving end of some punishment until they got within RPG range.

On the other tables, the heavy tanks in action in 1959 allowed the Conquerors and Centurions of the British to effectively deal with the Soviets, while in 1973, the British Chieftains were being badly used by the Soviets and destroyed by the end of play.

We concluded that CWC appears to reflect many of the changes in weapons and tactics that came about during the 45 years or so of the Cold War and appear to suggest that the Soviets had a "window of opportunity" in the mid- to late 70's to deal with NATO effectively using conventional forces.  Whether this is a true representation is, fortunately, something we will never know.

There were loads of great looking games on display, but this one of the Zeebrugge raid in 1918 really grabbed our attention.  1/300 scale ships - what's not to like.  The modelling of the canal entrance and mole were superb.

A fun day out.  Not too much retail therapy.  I picked up some odds and ends from Leven and some 15mm Stugs and a 1/72 Bristol Fighter from the Bring and Buy.  Heroics and Ros were busy all day, so I'll order on-line and pay the postage - I can feel a revamp of my WW2 British airborne coming on, especially as H&R now do some lovely jeeps and variants, plus the Morris airborne gun tractor.

As ever, thanks for looking.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

15mm Marder I

Another of the discounted Battlefront models, this time a Marder I.  Again, I've painted this one in colours suitable for the steppes or desert.  It's a base of middlestone, with swatches of medium brown mixed with orange brown and then dry brushed Iraqi sand.  It's a surprisingly small vehicle given that it carries a PAK 40.

Not particularly well armoured, but a useful mobile AT gun, ideal for popping out of cover, shooting off a couple of rounds and darting back out of sight again.

The PAK 40 packs a punch, at least in mid-War, until tank and armour improvements make it too much of a death trap.

A strangely top heavy look to the vehicle, although the armour is so light on the crew compartment it probably wasn't too ungainly.

Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

15mm Big Cats

At the weekend, we played a large game of Fall of the Reich, 4 players to each side and 1000 points to each player.  So, a good incentive to make sure I had some big cats that could come out and play.

This pair of Jagdpanthers are from the Battlefront Panther boxed set, which gives options to build Panther tanks or these Jagdpanthers, with 5 models in the box. These are plastic kits that need assembling, although the instructions are pretty comprehensive.

The vehicle at the front is the command tank, with the crew popping their heads out, the buttoned up version being a regular gun tank.

Next up is a Zvezda Jagdtiger.  A relatively easy plastic kit to assemble as a reasonable facsimile of the original.

Side on, that gun is big.

Finally, for now, the Zvezda Sturmtiger, with it's massive rocket assisted mortar.  These are great for flattening city blocks, but with very limited ammo, they need constant resupply.

While the Zvezda models are both excellent, I really liked the Battlefront boxed kit set.

Thanks for looking.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

20mm Atlantic Wall

Well, it's taken me over 6 months to finally match up the fortress 50mm AT guns, bunkers and crews to get a set of bunkers for the Atlantic wall.  All are from the Defence in Depth range from Grubby Tanks.  The resin castings were excellent, with no appreciable bubbles or casting flaws.  The fortress AT guns and crew are top drawer.

First up is a large beach Tobruk, mounted on a concrete personnel bunker.  The gunner comes with the bunker and I've mounted him on a card disc so I can spin him to face in any direction.

View from the seaward side.

From the landward side - large steel door for access to the Tobruk and personnel bunker.  I need to scratch build a section of trench behind the bunker that will link up with the Ironclad Miniatures trench system that I picked up recently in their sale.

Then this is the open beach emplacement for a fortress PAK38.  I've mounted the pedestal gun on a magnet, which attaches to another in the base, so the gun can swivel, although there isn't really enough room for the crew in most gun configurations.

Viewed from seaward.

And from the land side.

Last of the three is an R667 gun emplacement with another fortress PAK38.  The right enfilade wall is a little short to be fully effective at shielding the embrasure from direct naval gunfire support, but that can be remedied with a polystyrene block if needed.

The business end covered by the AT gun.

Rear aspect with steel door protected from direct fire by a concrete wall.

The interior with the roof removed.  I'm going to have to lower the gun a little as the gunner is scraping his helmet on the roof, taking the paint off.

So, with the Ironclad trench system and some assorted bunkers, I should have enough defences to play a 750 point beach assault scenario from Battlegroup Overlord.

Thanks for looking.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

15mm German tank hunters and flame tank

Yet more of my 15mm bargains.  First up a Jagdpanzer IV L70.  The striped camo scheme is based on one from a newsreel film, I think taken during the Battle of the Bulge.  This chap and another already in the collection should make an effective double act combining good front armour with a useful weapon penetration.  The model comes with mesh schurzen, but I have left it off as the fit is too fiddly and the vehicle looks pretty good without.

Next up, a Flammpanzer III.  Probably too lightly armoured to be really effective as it needs to survive long enough to get in close, but if it does … whoosh!  In Battlegroup the enemy take a chit just for coming under flame attack, plus the chance of infantry, even in reinforced cover, surviving is minimal.

Finally, for now, a Marder IIIH with PAK40.  Pretty poor survivability, but as a mobile AT gun using hit and run tactics, it can pack a punch and then scoot and hide.  A hit on it is pretty likely to be a kill though.

The Jagdpanzer is in a late war tri-colour camo scheme, whereas the Flammpanzer and Marder are in mid-war sand-yellow and brown, so more useful for Russia, but they can have a place as atypical vehicles even in very late war games.

Thanks for looking.

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.