Sunday, 20 August 2017

15mm Late War Germans based for Battlegroup

I've put together a German armoured recce platoon from the Wacht am Rhein book, to form the core of a mobile armoured division battlegroup.  Vehicles are, from left to right, an optional support Sdkfz 251/1 transport for a tripod mounted MG34 or MG42, an Sdkfz 250/1 transport for a bipod mounted MG34 or 42, an Sdkfz 250/10 command vehicle with 37mm AT gun, an optional Sdkfz 250/9 20mm armoured car and finally another Sdkfz 250/1 transport for a bipod mounted MG34 or 42.  Dismounts in front are, again left to right, an optional tripod mounted MG34 team, two 4-man bipod mounted MG34 teams, a two man command team and optional 2-man Panzershreck team, an optional support PAK40 AT gun and two more 4-man bipod mounted MG34 teams.

I still need two Sdkfz 250/1s to mount two of the MG34 teams and I'll use an Opel Blitz Maultier as a tow for the optional PAK 40.  Other support options include an Sdkfz 250/7 with 81mm mortar, an Sdkfz 250/8 Stummel 75mm infantry gun and, as an alternative command vehicle, an Sdkfz 250/11 with Panzerbuche.

This platoon organisation has a lot of firepower.  Dismounts provide 4 MG34 teams with another 4 MG34s available from the vehicles themselves and the command half track mounts a 37mm AT gun.  Then support options I'm most likely to include are an MG34 in sustained fire mode, the PAK 40 AT gun, 20mm autocanon on the A/C and a Panzershreck team.  I might even indulge the command team with some off board mortars as they can spot for them too.  On the downside, the teams are small and they are likely to be quite brittle, needing some back up from other infantry and armour.

Sdkfz 250s are Plastic Soldier, 251 and PAK 40 are Peter Pig, infantry is a mix of Battlefront and Peter Pig.

The armoured recce infantry platoon provides the core of the battlegroup.  To this, I've added a Gepanzert infantry platoon in Sdkfz 251/1s.  In the photo below, the rear row shows, left to right, an optional Sdkfz 251/9 Stummel with 75mm infantry gun, an optional Sdkfz 251/1 transport for a tripod mounted MG34, an optional PAK 40 with Sdkfz 251/1 tow (I might replace this with a Maultier), and a quad 20mm AA gun with Sdkfz 11 tow.  The middle row comprises three Sdkfz 251/1s, which provide transport for three 5-man rifle squads and three 3-man bipod MG34 teams.  In front is a command Sdkfz 251/10 with 37mm AT gun, a 6-man command team and an optional 2-man Panzershreck team.  Sdkfz 251s and PAK 40 are all by Peter Pig, the AA gun and Sdkfz 11 are by Battlefront.  Figures are a mix of Battlefront and Peter Pig.

One of the Sdkfz 251/1s with dismounts, a 5-man rifle squad and 3-man MG34 team.

The Sdkfz 251/9 Stummel and Sdkfz 251/1 with tripod mounted MG34.

PAK 40 with Sdkfz 251/1 tow.

The quad 20mm AA gun with Sdkfz 11 tow.

Command Sdkfz 251/10 with 6-man command team and 2-man Panzershreck team.

As an option to give the battlegroup some real strength, here is a Panther platoon.  These are from  Plastic Soldier Company and are excellent models, although the long barrels are a little brittle - I notice the command vehicle has a broken barrel already.

And finally, for now, some additional firepower in the form of a battery of Stug IIIs.  These can provide some less expensive (compared with the Panthers) teeth for the battlegroup in smaller games or some additional firepower in larger games.  Models are, I think, all Battlefront.

So, in addition to the missing vehicles for the recce platoon, I plan to create a lorried Panzergrenadier platoon mounted in Opel Blitz trucks and a Panzer IV platoon.  I'll also add some heavy mobile AT guns in the form of some Jagdpanthers and at least one Jagdpanzer IV.  Some Volksgrenadier infantry are also on the cards.  Most of the infantry will come from cannibalising some of my Flames of War infantry, as we are playing this a lot less at the club these days.  I've also just invested in a better airbrush, so hope to get some vehicles painted up using it shortly.

Thanks for looking.

Friday, 4 August 2017

A couple of random games

Two weeks back I played in a Napoleonic Black Powder game in 28mm.  Two British infantry brigades and a cavalry brigade took on two French infantry and one cavalry brigade for ownership of a pub in the centre of the table.  I commanded one infantry brigade and some Dragoons, while Mike took the other brigade and some heavy cavalry.  Ben and Owain took command of the French.

I took these pictures to highlight the English Riflemen on the left flank (a small 6 figure unit) who took on the best part of a brigade of French infantry, including a large unit of Voltigeurs - and won.  They advanced to take up positions on the edge of the wood, shooting up an infantry column in flank.  In response, the French general decided to sweep them aside, but although shaken, the riflemen kept holding on or retiring, before rallying again.  Eventually, they shook and routed the Voltigeurs, which broke the French brigade due to losses elsewhere as well.  This shows the situation near the end of the game where they were swinging around to take another infantry battalion from the flank - tough guys these Riflemen.

Then last week I played a game of Battlegroup Blitzkrieg at a new venue for me, the Wargamestore at Brimstage on the Wirral (  They have a late gaming night on a Wednesday.

This game, set in 1940, saw the Germans deploy 2 motorized infantry platoons, 2 platoons of Pz 38ts, 1 platoon of Pz IIs and some recce against dug in British infantry supported by cruiser tanks and some Vickers light tanks.

The Germans advance - my infantry and Pz IIs advance on the left, Phils Pz 38ts and infantry advance on the right and centre.

The British tried to use their Vickers tankettes to catch my PzIIs and infantry.  Using a reserve move and their 24 inch speed, they swept through the defences and around the trees, destroying a Panzer II.  The surviving PzIIs tried to take the Brits in the flank and failed to penetrate at all.  The infantry debussed and close assaulted the Vickers tankettes with ATMs, knocking onhe out for no loss.  In the following activation, the Vickers shot up the remaining Pz II and pulled back behind the wood.

By the end of the evening, both sides had taken losses bringing them close to their break limits.  We called it a draw, which was pretty much a victory for the plucky Brits holding the line.

Two very good, fun games, with lots going on.  Sorry the pictures are a bit disjointed and sparse.

Thanks for looking.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Cold War Commanders Joy of 6 2017

It's been a couple of weeks since Joy of Six, but better late than never.  The Cold War Commanders laid on one of the centrepiece demo/participation games at the show, using the Cold War Commander rule set (what else?).  The game highlighted scenarios from our recent campaign games based around a Warsaw Pact invasion of the Landjut area of Northwestern Germany and Denmark.  There wasn't enough play in the day to really write up an AAR, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The entire table with some of the Commanders planning.

The airport, defended by a West German territorial unit and about to be attacked by Soviet VDV.

My Polish marines preparing to land in an enveloping attack from the Baltic.

The Kiel canal.

The main landings on the Baltic coast.

The built up area, garrisoned by some unfeasible number of British Milan firing posts.

A NATO corvette scenic item meanders along the Kiel canal.

My Polish marine engineers preparing to cross the Kiel canal.  Skots are swimming the canal, a vehicle ferry is assembled and ready to carry troops, a floating bridge is ready to start deploying and a second ferry is about to deploy.

T-55s waiting for the bridges to be completed.

Dutch armour and US paratroopers deploying opposite the Polish marines, getting some artillery raining down on them.

Soviet T-72s come under intense fire from British Milan teams in the BUA.

View from the NATO side of the table.

Dutch armour moving up to take the Polish marines under fire.

The Poles get lucky with their air support, as well as some artillery.

NATO waiting for the enemy.

Polish engineers, flatly refusing to move.

VDV visit the airport.

The Dutch and US paratroopers.

The main Polish beachhead.

A great day out.  Lots of fantastic games, all in 6mm.  Unfortunately, between playing, chatting and shopping, I just didn't get a chance to take photos of the other games.  A great opportunity to see most of the 6mm companies all under one roof this side of the pond.

Thanks for looking.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

A couple of games of Battlegroup Tobruk

Will and I played out a couple of games of Battlegroup Tobruk over the last couple of club evenings.

First up, to ease us into the game, we tried one of the scenarios from the book, "The Buffs Last Stand".  The scenario sees a platoon of British infantry, supported by 2pdrs and 25lbrs (both on and off table), dug in on a slight rise in the desert.  They face off against a DAK force with 2 PzIII platoons with PzIV support, an infantry platoon and off table medium and heavy artillery.

We drew lots and I finished up taking on the British.  There are no objectives as such, this is a battle for survival, with the Brits winning simply by holding on.  I chose to concentrate forming a defensive perimeter around the highest point of the rise.  I traded off the threat of artillery against spreading out the defence and risking being defeated piecemeal.

This shows the situation at the end of the DAK activation on the first turn.  To the Brits, small clusters of infantry begin to appear out of the heat haze.

By the third turn, the DAK are moving forward lots of armour.  My off board artillery managed to knock out a DAK MG team, but the DAK artillery have broken the crews of a 2pdr and a 25lbr.  Fortunately, the Quad has moved up and hitched up the gun, towing it away to relative safety.  I thought I was doing all right when I used the guns ambush fire at long range (with the DAK artillery raining down it was use it or lose it) and was astonished to KO 2 of the PzIIIs on my right, while an offboard artillery strike had pinned the PzIIIs on the left (I also drew an immobilised chit when rallying pinned markers and played it on the command PzIII on my left.

I was even more astonished when a 25lbr strike on the right knocked out the last PzIII on my right.  It began to look like things might be going my way.  However, battle chits were building through removing pinned markers and losing guns to artillery fire.

Will rallied the PzIIIs on my left and brought up the PzII and PzIV in support.

A combination of off board artillery and aimed HE fire from the panzers then knocked out another 25lbr and pinned the rest of my guns.  With my battle rating counter total equal to my initial battle rating, I couldn't lift any pins, so decided discretion was the better part of valour and withdrew the survivors.  There had been minor collateral damage from artillery strikes to the British infantry, but most losses were amongst the artillery crews.

The final scene from the British defences.  I suspect next time I will disperse the guns more, as the artillery was the big killer in this game.  Lots of fun though.

Then this week we decided to be more ambitious and set up a multiplayer game based on the Battleaxe scenario in the Rapid-Fire North Africa 1941 supplement.  This pitted a greatly scaled back attempt by 7th Armoured and 4th Indian Divisions to sweep aside the DAK and Italian strongpoints around the Libyan border area and relieve the siege of Tobruk.  The scenario involved the inland actions, with 22nd Guards (represented by a lorried infantry platoon and carrier section plus supports)and 4th Armoured (represented by two Matilda II troops) Brigades on the British right advancing on Fort Capuzzo.  In the centre, the Crusaders and A9/A13 cruisers of 7th Armoured Brigade (2 Crusader troops and 1 troop of A9/A13s) advanced on Point 208 on the eastern edge of Hafid Ridge.  On the British left, the 7th Armoured Division support group (lorried infantry platoon and carrier section, 2 batteries of on table 25lbr and 2 sections of 2pdr portees) advanced into the open flank west of Hafid Ridge.

The British initial table edge deployment, 7th Amd support group closest to camera, 7Amd in the middle and 22nd Guards and 4th Amd in the distance.  The Italian strongpoints are just visible in the far distance, Point 206 in the open, Fort Capuzzo beyond to the left and Musaid at the far table edge.  Point 208 on Hafid Ridge is just visible on the left hand edge of the photograph.

Historically, the British were taken by surprise by the appearance of a counter attack in the form of 15th Panzer division (in our game 2 PzIII platoons, a Panzer IV platoon and supports) arriving on turn 2, and 5th Light Division (1 PzIII, 1 mixed PzIV and PzII platoon and supports) arriving on Turn 3.

This view shows Point 208, with Point 206 beyond to the right, Fort Capuzzo beyond to the left under the giant hand, which hides the Musaid strongpoint.

Turn 3 and 5th Light panzers advance in the shelter of Hafid Ridge in the foreground.  In the distance, beyond Point 208, 15th Panzer are in a firefight with 7th Amd.

5th Light Panzers behind Hafid Ridge (I took this as I really like the way Will has arranged stowage on these vehicles).

The teeth arm of 5th Light.

Ian managed to pick an aircraft chit and rolled a 6 to call it in, so in came an MG armed Hurricane.  It attempted to deal with the 15th Panzer 88mm, which was a threat to 4th Amd's Matildas advancing in the open in the far distance - an 88 at that distance struggles to hit, but if it does, the Matilda is very likely to be wrecked.

Fortunately for 15th Panzer, AA fire pins the Hurricane.

5th Light panzers have advanced to take hull down positions on Hafid Ridge, while their lighter forces have moved out around the western end of the ridge.  The Pz IIIs of 5th Light have pinned the Support group 2pdr portees, but have taken losses from the 25lbrs of the support group.  In the centre, 15th Pz are trading shots with 7th Amd and seem to be winning the firefight.

Shots continue to be traded.  The 25lbrs are very potent, even across the table, causing a steady drain on 5th Light vehicles.

Unfortunately, time was against us and we ran out of time.  Although not over, the British were finding it difficult to make progress.  The 4th Amd and 22nd Guards were threatening Point 206, although the Matildas had been immobile for several turns.  The 7th Amd had lost almost all their Crusaders, although they did manage to get an A13 up to the perimeter of Point 208, overrunning an AT gun in the process.  The support group had not lost much but were being kept pinned down, except for the 25lbrs, which remained a thorn in the side of 5th Light.

All in all a fun game.  This would have made a great weekend game, which could have incorporated more of 4th Indian Divisions struggle around Hell Fire pass.  We shall see if there is any interest.

Thanks to Will for supplying most of the kit for both games and for attempting to match an already heavily "bath-tubbed" Rapid-Fire version to the Battlegroup Tobruk organisations, which weren't always simple conversions.  Overall, it worked really well.

Thanks for looking.