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.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Llanstephan Castle, South Wales

Another family holiday to Carmarthen saw us staying just outside Llanstephan, close to a lovely beach and this excellent Medieval castle.  There is an excellent free car park by the beach, but that leaves a really steep climb up lanes and eventually a stony footpath to get to the castle.  Although not too strenuous, it's a bit of a climb for the elderly or infirm, or those with really young children.

The new gateway, added in Tudor times, the main gate, originally to the right, was blocked to turn the old gatehouse into a high status residence. 

The outer walls are surrounded by steep slopes dipping seaward, covered in dense woodland, which hides the banks and ditches of an Iron Age promontory fort, which the castle is built within.

Within the inner ward, the large building on the left is the gateway between the outer and inner wards, but the inner ward wall has been demolished, probably during Tudor remodelling.

The view from the well at the highest point within the inner ward, looking out into the Bristol channel.  The hills in the distance are on the Gower peninsula, separated from the headland in the foreground by the Loughor estuary.  Llansteffan castle lies at the opening of the Towy estuary, close to where it merges with the Laugharne estuary, so sits in the heart of sea transport routes in the area, while lying on a rather isolated peninsula from the landward side.

The inner ward gatehouse on the left with the main gatehouse to the right in the distance - note the big difference in elevation between the much higher inner ward, compared to the outer.

Remnants of buildings within the inner ward.

The inner ward gatehouse.

View inland from the top of the old gatehouse - just about the only structure that could be entered.

The old gatehouse from outside - quite impressive ramparts.

The blocked up gateway from the main gatehouse.  Floor level of the doorway would have been above head height, presumably entered via a wooden ramp or drawbridge across to a wooden ramp and platform.

Not a bad little castle, free to visit and well worth 1-2 hours, depending on walking pace and level of interest in the ruins.  The link below is to the wiki page for the castle, which isn't comprehensive, but does suggest it was the scene of military activity several times between the Norman conquest and it's eventual partial conversion into a des res in Tudor times.

Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

15mm Pantherturms

I had a box of Battlefront's Panthers.  I made 3 as regular Panthers and 2 as Jagdpanthers.  This left 2 spare Panther turrets, which I assembled and mounted on MDF blocks to represent Panther turrets used as static pillboxes.  I'm quite pleased with the results.  Should come in handy as supports for my Volkssturm platoon.

As ever, thanks for looking.