Wednesday, 27 February 2019

20mm WW2 British recce vehicles

I'm finally getting back to putting some paint on things.  These are British recce vehicles from Early War Miniatures and Ready to Roll vehicles.  Almost complete, just need tidying up and basing.

First up are three Humber A/Cs.  I picked these up for £1 each in the bargain bin from EWM at a show.  They had some big bubble casting flaws, mainly underneath and around the wheels.  I repaired these with some Milliput for the larger holes and an acrylic smooth artists modelling paste for the smaller bubbles.  The vehicle on the right is painted in Humbrol enamel paint for the base colour, while the other two are in Vallejo acrylics (Russian Uniform).  The crew are tankers from the Hat British tank riders set.  On the right hand vehicle, the pair of K guns are from an Airfix Willy's Jeep kit, mounted on a Sgts Mess mount.  Other K guns and Bren are from Sgts Mess, as are the stowage boxes.  The camo net on the right hand model was sculpted in Milliput left over from filling in the holes.

From the back, the various stowage items make each vehicle individual, so I can identify them on the tabletop.

A Ready to Roll Humber Light Recce Car (LRC).  Not a particularly potent vehicle, armed with a single bren, and it was mainly used, so I understand, by the RAF Regiment for airfield defence.

Another Ready to Roll vehicle, the Humber MkIV AC.  Widely used in NW Europe in the recce role and for many years post-war in a variety of countries.

Another EWM bargain bin rescue, a Dingo A/C.  This chap will also add to my NW Europe recce force and I may use this one as a recce command vehicle.  This model came with added stowage on the resin casting.

All six vehicles.  They need a light wash on the crewmen's flesh, a couple of leather goggles picked out, and maybe a 'tash or two, decaling and varnishing.  I think also a dry brush of Iraqi sand to help the details pop.  I think I will probably add bases to the EWM vehicles, to make them easier to stow for travelling and keep them in line with the Ready to Roll vehicles.  I'm also not sure about beret colours as to whether recce vehicle crew would wear the black tankers beret or the khaki beret, or might it depend on whether they are from armoured or infantry divisions?

Nice little castings to work with.  I do need to work out how to fix the turret to the body of the Humber MkIV as I don't want to just glue it down and it doesn't come with locating pins or lugs, so will have to drill out recesses for rare earth magnets to sit inside.

As ever, thanks for looking.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich club night

Last evening we played the Hard Road scenario from BFotR.  1050 points of Russians taking on a similar points value of Germans.  The German battlegroup was divided into 3 groups of 350 point forces, one of a Volksturm platoon fully loaded with Panzerfausts, supported by a PAK38 in AT emplacement, an MG34 nest, an MG34 and loader team and an artillery spotter with off table 80mm mortar battery.  The other battlegroups were again Volksturm platoons, but not dug in, one supported by a Stug IIIG battery and the other by 3 Pz IVs.

We drew the hard road scenario and the Russian players drew the table edge with the bigger built up area.  Germans placed the road block as far forward as possible and I deployed my trenches across the table with the PAK 38 facing towards the upper right table edge.  I also deployed an MG emplacement in the woods to the right of the road block.  Will deployed a PAK 38 in the town to the right of the road and I placed an MG34 team with loaders in the building to the left of the road.  Ian had three Stugs deployed in the village and in woods on both flanks.  Steve and Mike had T-34s, ISU-152 and what looked like SU-85s or similar, plus loads of infantry and some timed artillery.  1050 points per side.

The Russians pushed forward into the town and sent T-34s down both flanks, those on the right deploying tank riders to get into the woods in the foreground.  These guys killed one of my snipers, for the loss of 2 men.

Taking the woods on the German left meant the Stug had to bug out or face close assault with AT grenades.

Russian tank riders move into the woods.

More Russian infantry push past the town while T-34s and animal killers carry on a long range duel with Stugs and AT guns.

On the right, the MG dug out, sniper and Stug await the coming storm.

Turn 3 and German reserves arrive - three Pz IVs to contest the right wing with two T-34s in the far distance.

At the end of the game - we ran out of time - Mike decided to recon in force with a T-34, which ran into Faust fire from infantry in trenches on the left - scratch one T-34.  The Stug, relocated from the woods on the German left has been brewed up in the centre, as has the Sdkfz 222 recce.  The PAK 38 in the village has been swept away, although the dug in PAK 38 is still in the game.

The red horde advancing into Germany.

So far so good on the German left.

When we had to call a halt, the Germans were over half their break point while the Russians were significantly less than half.  Both sides could have done with more artillery support.  The Russians played the waiting game, keeping at extreme range, so both sides shooting was spectacularly unsuccessful, although the Russians were getting the best of it.  It was only when the Russian commander had a rush of blood and charged unpinned infantry with a T-34 that they suffered any serious armour casualties.

All in all, too big a game for an evening, but fun and some interesting lessons about tactics and troop selection.  Next time …..!

Thanks for looking.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Vapnartak 2019 - additions to the stash.

Will and I headed out for Manchester extra early in the morning, expecting a clear run, only to find the motorway blocked with quite a bad RTC.  Added 20 minutes to our journey, so not too bad for us, but a bit of a disaster for those caught up in it.  We transferred to Steve motor and, along with Dave, headed off to the show in York.

Dave, Steve and Will, along with Dave of Dave Lanchester books, make up the acceptable faces of the Lance & Longbow Society.  In no time, we had set up the L&L stand, selling an assortment of books and pamphlets concentrating on the medieval period, chiefly the Wars of the Roses, and a participation game "The Battle of Stamford Bridge?", a fictional engagement between Neville and Percy during the Wars of the Roses (pictured below).  Steve and Dave ran this game at least three times during the show, which was great to see as there were quite a few eager participants, including some youngsters.  Will was kept busy running the stall with my willing, but largely ineffective assistance.

We did manage to do some shopping, which for me included picking up a pre-order from Peter Pig and another from Early War Miniatures.  I also managed to get in to the Rapid-Fire stall early on and snaffled some nice Ready-to-Roll vehicles and also visited Grubby for some Britannia vehicles and figures.

The 20mm haul includes 3 Pz IVF2s for Torch, a pair of CV-35s and a pair of Semovente-75s, plus 2 MkVIs for an Operation Hercules scenario.  There are two Sherman dozers to provide some engineering support to a US boat team for a D-day game, plus assorted US and British recce, including 2 Daimler ACs, a Humber AC, 2 Staghound ACs, a Humber light recce car, an M20 and an M, a Dodge command car and a comms jeep.  Then for late war, there are 2 Hetzers and an Sdkfz 140/1, plus some assorted guns including 2 MG tobruks and 2 tank turret tobruks, a redestal Pak 38, a 120mm mortar and a 37mm Flak, as well as a couple of crews for Airfix 75mm Pack Howitzers.  There are also some repaired vehicles from the £1 miscast EWM stand, including 3 Fiat trucks and 2 Fiat Breda AA portees, 2 Humber SCs and 2 Kubelwagens, plus a Dingo SC.  These weren't all from Vapa, but I've worked on them as a batch to get them ready for painting.  In the bags are some assorted Britannia British paratroopers and EWM British drivers and their new and most excellent Germans in winter smocks.  I only bought a couple of packs of the new Germans, but they are lovely and I can see me getting more as well as their new US infantry figures if they are anything like as good.  Crews are all Hat plastics from the US and British tank riders sets that I bought in Sheffield back in October.  Will very kindly gave me some US tank crewmen, and I need to find the last pair of these to crew the M20 and M8.  The Semoventes will need some crew too as they are modelled open hatched.

All in all, a good haul.  I'd missed getting to Warfare and Recon this year, so had saved up a bit of goodwill with the boss and so put that to good use by rounding out a few projects that I've had on the go for a while now.

Not sure when I'll get to paint these, as I've not picked up a brush since before Christmas.  Hopefully soon.  As ever, thanks for looking.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Battlegroup Torch campaign game

Last night Will and I played out another of our Kasserine Pass campaign games, the final Axis turn 4 game for Khamouda.  This pitted 750 points selected from 10th Pz against 500 points of British (Gore) infantry and 250 points of US (Stark) infantry.  150 points of DAK reinforcements arrived on turn 6 and 300 points of Mixed Allies were due to arrive on turn 9.

Table size is c. 8x6ft as suggested for forces of this size and the particularly dense terrain was generated at random using the terrain generator in the Torch book.  The scenario was flank attack. 

The shots show the situation immediately before the arrival of the first wave of DAK reinforcements.  10th Panzer have battled their way to the centre of the table and are about to take control of 3 of the 4 objectives and contest the 4th.  However, this will be achieved at the cost of one destroyed Pz III and two immobilised Pz IV F2s.  The British have 5 Crusader IIIs upper right of centre, trading shots with the 10th Pz armour.  Both sides artillery is pinning tanks to prevent the expected flurry of AP shots if they don't pin.

Sadly for the Germans, who only have a beute Valentine coming on in turn 6, the Allies have a mixed force including Valentines coming on table in turn 9.  We had to call it a draw at the close of turn 7 as it was past 11pm.  The Germans had amassed serious BP chits, while the Allies were virtually unscathed, meaning yet another victory for the Allies, although we each thought we had a chance of victory if we could have progressed to a finish.

That means that out of five Torch campaign games, three decided by our map movements plus scenarios 1 and 2, the Allies have won 4 games by stunning margins and the Germans scraped one very narrow victory.  As these game represent the start of the campaign, when the Germans were historically still achieving victories and advancing, we felt this less than historical.  Even worse, the campaign is just getting tedious, certainly for the German player (me).  The main issues seem to centre on the points system, which allows lots of cheap, but superior, Allied armour, artillery and scouts, compared with expensive, and largely inferior, German versions.  In particular, it only takes one battery of 25lbrs or, even worse, one of 105mm guns to close down the entire German offensive.  Couple that with cheap and fast moving tanks, like the Crusader III, armed with an effective 6pdr, and the German advance stalls.  The campaign needs to be leavened with additional restrictions, which limit Allied artillery fire in the early stages of the campaign, and the points system, while they lead to an historical result (i.e. the Germans lose), does not allow any kind of German attack to develop.  It took the Allies (well the US mostly) until the final battle of the campaign to co-ordinate their artillery into an effective battlefield weapon, but in the campaign as written, they can use it from the off.  This leads to a lack of German success early on and their inability to contest the campaign.

It is interesting to note that the most popular periods of Battlegroup played at the club are Overlord and Fall of the Reich (including Wacht am Rhein and Market Garden), which always seem to offer very playable and nicely balanced games.  Blitzkrieg and Barbarossa seem to offer some nicely balanced games as well, although the scenario that pits German infantry and Pz Is assaulting fortified Polish positions, in the Blitzkrieg book, is unplayable for the Germans.  Sadly, Tobruk and Torch both seem to be so unbalanced that they appear to be neither playable nor fun.  At least one player at the club won't pick up the Tobruk book because they think the rules are so unbalanced.  They jar considerably when compared with, for example, a game of BG Market Garden that Will and I played last year (linky  This game last year was close run and I won it 2 points off my BP, but it was fun.  The recent game of BG Tobruk that I won by a couple of points was most definitely not fun.  Sadly, this must reflect scenario design and/or the points system and any fun game should be winnable by either side, depending on the tactical decisions and luck of the dice, not a foregone conclusion from the start.

I don't think we will turn our backs on Tobruk and Torch, but scenario design will need some significant work to make them fun to play.  Will probably has his own views on the games we have played so far and I am sure he has enjoyed smashing my 251s with his 105s as payback for what I did to his US paratroopers!

As ever, thanks for looking.