Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Recently acquired Russians with their new flags:
Pavlov and Archangelsk Grenadiers
My definition of 'multitasking' is, as you might imagine, 'leaving things undone'.  This is not mere sarcasm by any means.  It is just that for this or that reason one feels the urge, desire or compulsion to move onto other things before the thing one is actually doing is quite complete.  Let the following explain...
General and staffs.  The unpainted fellow in the bicorne hat
is an Italieri plastic Russian general figure, and mounted
on one of the hardwood bases that formerly accommodated
4 infantrymen.
Last weekend I bought from Paul ('Jacko') his Napoleonic Russian Army (at a price rather less than I had been prepared to pay).  I believe Paul is going through a gradual process of rationalising his armies.  Now, I had from him a few years ago a force of 4 x 24-figure (I think Old Glory) units, in bicornes and 'bushy' plumed shakos, added to which was a small 15-figure group of Minifigs jagers. I subsequently bought from elsewhere a Minifigs howitzer with 4 crew figures.  The two musketeer units I took an historical liberty with by eking out their numbers with 4 mitre-hatted grenadiers. Clearly these units dated from before the sartorial and millinery reforms of Tsar Alexander I.
Russian horse artillerymen with a bigger gun than that
with which they arrived.  The trunnions and cap-
squares were added after the gun barrel was glued down.
See infra

To this corps, last weekend's purchase added post-reform units as follows:
1 x 24 figures Pavlov Grenadiers (of course!);
1 x 24 figures Line Grenadiers with kiwer shako and the tall, thin plume:
2 x 24 figures Line Musketeers with kiwer shako;
1 x 20 figures Ditto
1 x 20 figures Jager
1 x 12 figures Cuirassiers
1 x 12 figures Dragoons
12 (horse) gunners with I'm not sure how many guns - at least three;
1 General with his ADC
1 light cavalry officer to command the Horse
An extra foot officer and flag bearer, who may find themselves drafted into the artillery!   The flag-staff, reduced in length, would look much like a trail spike...

Three units of line infantry.  Only the centre
one needed a new flag.  It isn't easy to distinguish
its pale grey (silver) Maltese cross from the
white on white of the near unit.
The inventory I already possessed and these purchases were still works in progress, as you will see from these pictures.  But in the last few days I have added flags to the units lacking them, painting the staffs white or black.  Some flags I had already prepared a long time back, but one more was needed for an infantry unit, and two for the cavalry.  The images for the cavalry flags were copied from a source found in an internet search, and the Archangelsk infantry flag from a file I already had downloaded.  The latter I forgot to skew before printing, but as the flagstaff is nearly upright, I let it pass..

Flags from various sources copied to a single picture file for
copying and flipping, resizing and reshaping, previewing
... and printing.

Among the new additions were 6 four-figure stands on commercial bases made from hardboard or customwood, or some such material.  Paul allowed it was one of those 'seemed like a good idea at the time' things that he rather regretted. Fortunately their removal was a whole deal easier than it seemed like to go before I started.  Those bases will come in handy for something else, I dare say.
Still work to do, enough to make them 'mine'.  But I doubt
that now I can match Paul's paint work.

Now,  I like to fasten my metal figures to cardboard bases with PVA.  But before PVA dries, the figures are likely, whilst you're not looking, to slide around, especially on a glossy surface, and fetch up half overhanging one side.  To prevent that - or at least to reduce that effect - I etch the surface, cross-hatching with a sharp object.  The point of a scissors blade is ideal.  It needs to be sharp enough to scratch, but not so sharp as to cut.  A few other figures - not many - needed rebasing or relocating on their bases.


Most of this unit got new bases.
Some of the cannon also needed their gun barrels fastened.  One cannon's barrel was wanting trunnions.  These I fashioned from toothpick, and fixed them in position after gluing down the gun barrel.  At maybe 3mm they are overlong, but even then they were fiddly to place.  Then capsquares, fashioned from cotton bud tubing went over the top.
These are from my existing inventory, that I received in
mint condition (from Paul) years ago.... 
 As you can see from this group of four pictures (1 above and 3 below), I hadn't really finished the guys I already had.  But the incentive of a complete - or near as dammit complete - army it apt to alter priorities!
... as are these jager...

... and these fellows.  

Minifigs Russian gunners and howitzer.  That bull really needs
to be yoked to a cart.  I'll let him keep his horns...

Splendid fellows.  I was planning a flag with a green field, but
I think I prefer the white after all.
At last my Russians have cavalry support: dragoons and cuirassiers. They were awarded their colours last night.

Cuirassiers.  The godawful seat of the rear rank
trumpeter reminds me: these figures have yet to be glued on
that'll have to wait fo the horse furniture to be painted up...

'Big men on big horses'  Hinchliffe cuirassiers and
a Prince of August dragoon.

Some strays - nothing to do with the Russian army purchase. A couple of Hinchliffe cuirassiers that seem to be AWOL from their parent squadron. Beside them a Prince of August dragoon, souvenir of a home casting session with Jacko. He tells me his home casting is going well now - when it is going at all.  It is a very nice figure.

Red lancers.  Minifigs.
I am reminded of a small shipment of Napoleonics and assorted stuff Brian O'Sullivan sent to me earlier in the year.  Just oddments he didn't need, and which he thought might find a home in my own collection.  The pick of the lot was this little group - these 8 lancers.

They didn't look like that when I got them, and I already had two 12-figure lancer units.  But why not...?  No reason indeed...  So: there they are, the Red Lancers of the Imperial Guard.   You should have seen them when I mistakenly gave them red shabraques.  Man, they looked spectacular.  

The four or five Minifigs infantry that came with them might go towards bringing the 11th Division (a.k.a. 15th Light Infantry) up to strength. The 11th Division is becoming something of an eclectic unit, with 1st and 3rd generation Minifigs and figures from other provenances as well.  There were a couple of dragoons in addition, which, having no unit to attach to for the moment, might wait on staffs, or be added to logistic elements as escorts, say. Unfortunately, three or four of items needed a bit of remedial work. That's fine: figures so resurrected add to the numbers.  But a couple of them were so resistant to surgery they had to be deep sixed, or set aside for some other purpose - such as casualty markers, say.  Pity: I hate having to do that. One of the lancers Brian sent me had to be given a horse that fortunately I had going spare.  The one he was riding simply had to be put down, poor thing...

Russian WIP.  I bought the overflying German FW190s
years and years ago.  Only recently did even this much work on them.
All this has come in the middle of doing work on my WW2 Russians and Germans for 'Big Battles' - operations types of games.  First thing to do is to discover what I have in my inventories.  I'm none too sure!  What you see in these pictures is but a small proportion - especially of my German army.
Germans used in recent One Hour War Games.

British 8th Army figures.  2" mortars and Boys ATR
scratchbuilt and using 1st generation Airfix figures.
About a week ago I was asked about my 8th Army inventory.    I have to admit, it doesn't amount to all that much - a rather neglected project on one of my favourite campaigns of the war.  On the right is just about my whole collection of Matchbox and 2nd generation Airfix figures.  On the closer box most of the figures are painted, and some even have their bases flocked sanded landscaped ... done.

A couple of the Vickers MMGs have been placed in the 'down' position, which is much better if you want seated figures for gunners. The very observant reader might espy a couple of Boys anti-tank riflemen on the near box as well.  A have made five, four of them using the 1st generation Airfix bren gunner.  He makes a pretty poor bren gunner, but a superb ATR man.

A few 8th army vehicles...

In this box a few vehicles, in paticular a couple of kit-bashed light trucks, and two Grant tanks. The farther one of the pair is Airfix, missing its commander's cupola and hatch.  Not sure how I'm going to fix that.

Meanwhile, the two 25pr artillery pieces above will likely get a new paint job in some desert color, and added to another already painted and a fourth yet to be assembled to form a troop (or higher level unit) of field artillery.

I sure have plenty to keep me occupied for the time being!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Getting the hang of it.

Objective:  Operation Saturn on 3rd Romanian Army Front;
November, 1942.  'Jacko' has the eight infantry and 1 armoured
Division, but has just begun assembling his cavalry.
Over the last three weeks, Jacko (real name, Paul) and I have been meeting once a week to get on with painting, basing, modelling our WW2 armies.  I am building up my Russians; Jacko has been putting together a Romanian army.  Or should I say 'Army' - specifically the Third.

In this connection we have been investigating the 'Not Quite Mechanised' system (?) pioneered by Chris Kemp.  I down loaded and printed a copy of his rules  umpire's guidelines some time ago, but last night we thought to have a go at some of its mechanics.

Some weeks ago we tried a Soviet battalion storming a dug in Romanian one.  The Russians inflicted one hit in the first round of the firefight - and received nine in return (two of the defenders' hit dice were sixes).  We figured that was a handy repulse resulting in the complete destruction of the Soviet battalion.

Well, last night, it was not easy going.  To begin with, we (I) wanted to test out the combat mechanics to get a feel for how the action went.  So, we set up a set piece attack.  Now, as we are aiming towards Army level action, we have followed Mr Kemp's alternate system in which the NQM units count as Divisions, rather than battalions.
Soviet Army Corps with tanks and heavy mortars in support
attacks a single Romanian battalion with medium mortars in support.
Sorry about the mediocre photography.  
However, the first pass assumed the standard NQM scales.  A Russian Rifle Brigade of 3 battalions attacked a single Romanian battalion dug in .  The Russian Divisions were supported at Corps level by a couple of units of heavy mortars (120mm); the Romanians by a single unit of mediums (8cm). We assumed for the purpose of this exercise that (a) all the preliminary approach marches and reconnaissance had been carried out, and (b) the Soviet prepared mortar bombardment would go for the one approach move, and one move of firefight, and then stop.  The Romanian mortar would begin at the same time as the Russian, and throughout the firefight.  Maybe counter-battery by the Russians would have been legitimate, but after a brief discussion, let that pass by.
'Ourrah!  Ourrah pobieda!'
For a view from the other side of the fence, see

We certainly did a few things wrong, judging by a reread of page 5!  The Soviets never did succeed in pressing home the attack to a close assault!  They equalled the Romanian shooting in both rounds, and ended up taking twelve hits all up, whilst the Romanians were destroyed.  We knew something wasn't quite right.  But I find that it the way to get the hang of a rule set.  Suck it and see.  Then read over at leisure to see what you did wrong.
Soviet Rifle Divisions have taken losses serious enough to
disorganize them and stop them pressing home their attack.  The
armour, nothing loth, surges on.

Finally we tried an 'Army Level' game.  The battalions became Divisions.  The Soviets also got a Tank Brigade.  The Orbats were;

Red Army Corps (all Regular)

1 Tank Brigade (1xT34 CF3)
3 Rifle Divisions each with:
       [3 rifle bases (F3), 1 command/SMG base (CF1), 1 MMG base (S1), 1 PTRD base (S1)]
2 Mortar Regiments in direct support each with:
Having successfully driven in to the Rumanian position,
the Soviet armour is summarily thrown back out again. 
       1x120mm mortar (S3) (there ought to have been at least one FOO as well)

 Romanians (Regular)

1 Rifle Division with:
       3 rifle bases (F3), 1 command rifle base (CF1), 2 support bases (1xMMG 1x ATR = S2).
1 Mortar regiment in direct support (S3).

The Romanians have seen off two Rifle Divisions and a Tank
Brigade.  Maybe the 3rd Soviet Rifle Division can
carry the position.

Now, given the scale of the game, I assumed (rightly or wrongly) that the ground scale is correspondingly reduced, from 40cm to the kilometer to 4 cm to the kilometre.  I suggested that the firefight 'zone' be placed at 3cm - overscale, to be sure, but with a clear separation between forces. The time scale would be correspondingly changed as well, leaving the 'on table' movement rates the same. 

The Soviets went in with a leading wave of two Rifle Divisions, 1st Div on the right, 2nd Div on the left, and the Tank Brigade in the centre.  Second Division at once took 3 hits from the Romanian supporting mortars (ouch) as they entered the 'firefight' range.  I assigned the hits to 2 'F' bases and 1 'S' base
The repulsed units fall back to reorganize.  Each of the three
units loses a base or strength point.  If you prefer:
the infantry have been reduced to about 80% strength;
the tanks to less than 70%
Now, here is where we made certain assumptions that appear to be wrong.  Having taken 50% hits, 2nd Div became disorganized, and probably ought at once to have bugged out.  I supposed that, though it could not press home an attack, it could at least carry on a firefight in support of the remaining units. On top of that it seems a morale check might have been in order. In the firefight zone, all Russian units fired.  We weren't sure whether the tank represented just one 'CU - combat unit' for the vehicle, or 3 - one for each strength point (SP).  That question cropped up in the close assault phase as well.  I supposed that as a 'base' represented a single SP on an infantry stand, then 1 SP represented a base.  But we had been rolling a single die for each of the SP3 mortars.  Which was it to be?

Well, the first round of the firefight did not go well for the Russians.  First Division took 3 hits incoming, disorganizing that unit, but the Tank brigade remained unscathed.  But the Romanians were taking some knocks as well.  In the next round of firefight, the Russians did a little better, but only the tank could close assault.
During the firefight phases, the Russians inflict 4 hits - enough
to destroy the defenders outright.  But their losses are enough
also to disorganize the Russians.

Tank terror having been shrugged off successfully (I think we ignored it for the purposes of this 'play test') the Romanians were pushed back by the Soviet armour, but remained in the fight.  One problem we encountered at this point was what constitutes a 'win' for the attackers. Possibly now was a good time for the Romanians to take a morale roll (maybe they did at that, I don't positively recall, now).  Be that as it may, the battle continued.  Again I gave the tank 3 dice for its 3 strength points, and the Romanians had enough still in hand for their two dice.  And I rolled diddly squat, and he rolled 2 hits.

Back went the armour, and the rest of the first wave, to reorganize and generally feel sorry for themselves.  In went the reserve Division, the 3rd.  Well, that didn't go so well, neither.  The delay between the repulse of the first wave and the advance of the second gave time (we supposed) for the Romanians to spend a move themselves reorganizing.  The 'black' pins we substituted simply by removing stands.  Having taken some knocks in the earlier fighting, the Romanians had just 2 stands remaining.  

Ample, of course.  The Soviets were fortunate in entering the firefight zone with just the one hit, but they never got any further.  They might have progressed, for they won the firefight, inflicting 4 hits against 3.  The Romanian defence was thus eliminated (but for the mortar regiment some kilometers to the rear.  But the three hits were enough to disorganise the Russians.  Could they occupy the position now bereft of defenders?  

End of the battle: mutual exhaustion.  The Romanians
have been worn down to nothing; the last Soviet
Division in a state of disorganization.
Considering the odds, and the defenders were only dug in, not fortified, they inflicted almost as many hits upon the Russians as they took themselves.  But there seems to be no 'reorganization for a destroyed unit, and the Russians ended up losing a base from each of the 1st and 2nd Divisions, and two from the third.  The two  hits (red counters) on the Tank Brigade became one (blue counter) representing its reduction to 2 strength points.  

Several questions were raised by this simple 'play test'.
1.  Do morale tests take place only in the context of close assaults?
1A.  Are morale tests applicable in fire fights?
2.  Can attacking units continue a firefight whilst disorganized, or must they at once retire to reorganize?
2A. Must attacking units break off a firefight once disorganized? (Note: it is clear they must break off a close assault).
3.  What constitutes 'contact (with the enemy)'?  I have assumed it to be 'within infantry firefight range', but can think of a whole swodge of other possibilities ranging from reaching harassing fire range to close assault.
What I am proposing to do it formalise Chris Kemp's 'guidelines' into something a little easier to use without unpire mediation.  That is why, in terms of the 'standard' NQM system, I have translated nominal distances and speeds into table-top terms.  For instance, taking the ground scale at 1:2500, that means 40cm represents a kilometre, and I have taken 1 turn to represent 1 hour.  Using my own conversion method (described in this blog some years ago), 1 kph is (approximately) represented by a 50mm game move.

I've done the same by tabulating weapons ranges as follows:
Maximum Effective Range
Maximum Harassing Range
Infantry small arms
300m -> 120mm
1 km -> 400mm
Infantry anti-tank
200m -> 80mm
Light anti-tank guns
500m -> 200mm
1 km -> 400mm
Medium anti-tank guns
1000m -> 400mm
2 km -> 800mm
Heavy any-tank guns
2000m -> 800mm
3 km -> 1200mm (1.2m)
Up to 47mm tank guns
300m -> 120mm
600m -> 240mm
48-76.2mm tank guns
500m -> 200mm
1 km -> 400mm

3-inch mortar
1.5 km -> 600mm
80-82 mm mortar
3 km -> 1200mm
120mm mortar
5 km -> 2000mm
Infantry guns (75-76.2 mm)

Field artillery

Light (105mm- 120mm} artillery
15km -> 6000mm
Medium (150+mm) artillery
18km -> 7200mm
Heavy (200+mm) artillery
20km -> 8000mm

The gap I have left to be filled by heavier anti-tank weapons - differentiating between short, medium, long and extra long 75/76/77mm guns: the long 85/88/90mm guns and extra-long 88: and the 100mm, 122mm and 128mm tank guns.  I have also added rows for infantry guns and field artillery. Though I am conscious that infantry guns were battalion inventories as a rule, heavier infantry guns (15cm) were more regimental, but in small numbers.  To represent the 6x15cm infantry guns of the 352nd Division (two per rifle battalion) at Normandy, for example, you would have to treat them as a Divisional asset (S1).  I'd consider doing the same with the infantry guns (total 14 for the Division, so S1 again - or group all the infantry guns into S2).  That would leave the battalions with something like this: 3 rifle bases (F1), 1 MMG base (S1), 1 mortar base (S1) and 1 panzerfaust base (F1). I'm not sure which of the latter 3 ought to incorporate the command base.

What about the ranges for these weapons in the 'Army level' game?  Chris Kemp calls this a scaling 'by three' but it's really a scaling by nine, or ten, where 1 battalion under 'standard' NQM becomes a Division of nine battalions (say) under the Army level game.  In the above article, the ground scale was reduced by a factor of ten, which meat a reduction in time scale by a factor of 3.  Of course a 12mm range for small arms (We are using your old school plastic kit armies, here) is much too finicky, so I have suggested a 3cm 'fire-fight range' or 'zone'  to the front at least of a given unit, and possibly all round.  I'll have a look at how the other weapons work with this Army level ground scale. We may have to look at 'scale by three' after all!

Quite a bit of work in progress here - much to think about.  Meanwhile, the other day I got a call from Tony concerning a 75th anniversary El Alamein war game.  What have I in my 8th Army inventory? Not a huge amount, as it happens... just bits and pieces.  I do have 8 Airfix Vickers MMGs though .

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Frivolous Fellows... (Interlude)

In a previous posting, much earlier in the year. I received a comment that seemed to cast aspersions upon the brigade commanded by Brigadier-General Daniel P. Tyler - the IVth of that name.

Frivolous Union  fellows giving the Army of
the Valley (CSA) a hard time.
My reply:
"I have to admit that the figures in Tyler's brigade were never my favourites.  'Frivolous fellows for serious work,' General T.J. Jackson might have said.  I find them surprisingly photogenic, though. They were also a useful source of subaltern command figures and flag bearers..."

I have another Union brigade of 'stabbing down' guys.  Haven't a clue what they are supposed to be doing, actually.  I suppose one could not fault them for lacking a determined look.  In fact, so unappealing are those guys, that I still haven't given them a 'finished' look.  But, waste not, want not; one can not allow a whole brigade to go to waste!

Have you ever noticed, though, that you kinda despise your unfavourite units, and make them into the most brittle types of conscripts, militia, and assorted military, just to drive the point home.  And then these guys stick a finger up the nose of your prejudice, fight like demons, break and run only after extreme provocation, and, if and when they do, rally in a trice like a box of birds?  Meanwhile your pets run into a little hot stuff, squawk, vanish, and if after a long while you do manage to drag them back into the fray, like as not, it will be 'Ho, for the tall timber!' at the slightest hint of incoming (Reason for reaction test: first casualties after rallying from rout).
Regiment of Airfix figures.
(Posted in Archduke Piccolo, January 2010)
I'd probably be inclined to 'hide' the wonky poses among others by mixing the figures in each unit. Here's a thing, though.  Consider the old ESCI or Revell figures.  Individually fairly characterless,  the different poses in single unit give the whole a dynamic look.  The regiment or battalion becomes full of character.  Apart from the standing and kneeling firing, you can't really do that with the Airfix figures.  Individually loaded with character (even the frivolous guys and the 'stabbing down' dudes), a 'mixed pose' Airfix  unit looks simply a mess - in my view.  Even the shooting guys have to stand formally with the kneeling guys in the front rank, and the standing in the second.
Regiments of ESCI figures.
(Posted in Archduke Piccolo, January 2010)
Note that this applies to the infantry only: the Airfix 'Seventh Cavalry' used as the major source of horsemen look fine in mixed units.  Just as well: otherwise one would be buying a heck of a lot of boxes of ten figures apiece!  Mind you, I have at least sixteen boxes of Airfix represented, augmented by one box of Atlantic

Later in the Stonewall in the Valley campaign , if and when General Fremont's Division puts in an appearance, we might see some of my 'mixed' figure ESCI units

Convivial evening.

The Germans hurrying westward towards their own lines see that the Russians
have established a roadblock.
On Thursday evening, my war games buddy, Paul, a.k.a. 'Jacko' (Painting Little Soldiers) paid a visit. Usually we just have a war games chinwag, but on this occasion methought a small game was in order.  World War Two, using the simple rule set and a scenario from Neil Thomas's One-Hour Wargames.
Russian flank attack held by the Germans.  Third Rifle Platoon
has already taken a lot of stick, just 4 SPs of 15 remaining!
These games comprise (usually, though not always) six units the side  On this occasion, being WW2, they were chosen from 3-4 infantry, 0-2 Tanks, 0-2 'Mortars' and 0-2 Anti-tank guns.  The actual composition was decided by dice rolls. Wouldn't you know it we both rolled '2', which gave us 3 infantry, 2 anti-tank guns and 1 'mortar'.
Not that the Germans are getting off unscathed:
the infantry have taken a hit, the AT unit 6.
'Mortar' in Neil Thomas's rule set can stand for infantry guns equally well - the sort of weapon that might be ready to hand in a company level action.  The scale of action in these games is that of a reinforced company, each infantry unit representing a platoon of about 40 men, and each weapon representing a platoon or section of three. So both sides had an infantry company of three rifle platoons, plus support weapons.

The German anti-tank guns were represented by one towed and one half-track mounted PaK40 (treated identically); the Russians had two 45mm guns towed by light trucks. The Red Army 120mm mortar was matched by the German 7.5cm light infantry gun. We neither of us had a tank to bless ourselves with.

As I had rolled first, I did suggest that Paul might like to re-roll. But he was happy enough with the status quo. I discover that Mr Thomas recommended a re-roll in the event of identical forces being generated (I ought to have looked at the time, maybe), but the result was reasonably interesting as it transpired.

Excellent German shooting.  The shooting dice
for the AT guns have already received the -2
adjustment for shooting at infantry.
Paul got the Red Army (Russians. naturally), I got the Blue. Then we rolled for the scenario. Scenario 13: 'Escape'. Although this purports to be the Blue force 'returning from a raid'. I'm more inclined to think of it as a German force struggling to reestablish contact with the front line during the course of a Russian offensive that, having gained several miles of ground, is beginning to peter out.
As the Germans stagger westwards (southwards according to book, but that is simply map orientation), the Russians race to slam shut the doors to escape.  Already a Russian platoon sits astride the road west.
The sudden irruption of the Soviet AT guns deflects the
infantry gun and the infantry in the woods.
As the Germans approach this slight obstacle, there suddenly appears from the south a lot of infantry - two more rifle platoons, swarming over the rise.  At once, the half-track AT gun turns to engage.  As the rules allow 360-degree fire for all units, turning the unit on the spot seems appropriate, for the sake of appearances at any rate.  Now, anti-tank guns aren't generally the best weapons with which to engage infantry (or anything else but tanks), and the SP gun is momentarily on its own.  But the other gun and Nr. 3 Rifle Platoon, swing to the left to join the fight.

The next day I did a bit of maffs and found that under this rule set, a fire-fight between two infantry units against one infantry and two anti-tank is very nearly an even match - just the sliver of an edge in favour of the two infantry in terms of fire-power, but this being offset by the 15 extra SPs they have to eliminate.  But in the German favour here was the clincher - the infantry gun: lethal against infantry.
As it turns out, the SP anti-tank's shooting does a lot of damage to the Russian 3rd Rifle Platoon (Russians in Bold; Germans in Italics).  By the time the other three units join the action, the Russians on the rise are badly outmatched.   Meanwhile the 2nd Platoon and 1st Platoon are fighting their own private duel.  Here the Reds get the first shots, an advantage they never lose.  First Platoon enters the wood in the hope of outflanking the enemy road block.

Each unit begins with 15 'strength points' (SP), reduced by one for each pip on the dice representing shooting at it.  I represented this as a sequence of coloured dice, each representing 5SP in the holders illustrated (assembled from parts given me by Brian 'A Fist full of Plastic' O'Sullivan many, many moons ago).  The sequence was White/Red/Blue.  I place a SP holder only when a unit started taking hits (which is why you find the towed AT gun without a marker - it never took a hit).  Suppose an infantry unit has already taken 1 hit.  The SP indicator is a white die showing '4'.  Then it takes 6 more hits,  Then, having just 8 SPs remaining, the SP indicator is switched to a red die showing '3' (5+3).

Suppose next turn it takes a further 3 hits.  Then the final indicator will be the blue die showing '5' for that number of SPs remaining to it.   
2 Platoon loses its battle, but their distant opponents
have taken a mauling.
Then arrives the pair of Soviet anti-tank guns from the north flank, on the German side of the woods.

I had half-expected that.  The infantry gun at once switches targets to these guns, whilst at the same time the 1st Platoon is recalled and lines the eastern wood edge.  Although the Russian guns inflict some damage, they are badly over-matched - and this without taking into account the superb German shooting throughout the whole action.
The Soviet AT guns under a cross fire - 9 hits on this move
being enough to destroy one unit and bring the other
almost to its demise as well.
Having seen off the flanking Russian infantry, 3rd Platoon and the AT guns swing westwards once more to resume their march.  But 2nd Platoon has lost its fight against the road block (the Russian platoon there helped by a section of AT guns that was close enough to engage the German infantry from the flank).  However, two AT units are no match for infantry backed by an infantry gun, and are soon overwhelmed.

The road block is still there.
A rare instance of poor shooting by the Germans
By the time the final Soviet reinforcement arrives, the 120mm mortar in rear of 1st Platoon, it is too late, as the Germans finally broke the resistance of the riflemen.  It is merely a matter of a concerted push that will knock out the mortar and the Germans can escape.

In retrospect it is hard to determine the balance of that scenario as played with the forces allocated. German shooting was superb all night.  The 'one' shown in the picture to the right for 3rd Platoon shooting was a rarity, and my AT guns seemed to shrug off their disadvantages in this type of fight.  One thing for sure, the Russians could well have used their 'mortar' much earlier in the fight, perhaps substituting for one of the platoons on the hill.

Thanks, Paul, for an enjoyable evening.

Post script:  I was going to include in this posting some comments on scaling WW2 miniatures games.  I'll leave that for another occasion.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Where to go from here?

The battlefield, looking east along to autobahn towards Kustrin.
Just off the table to the left is the river Oder.
I've been thinking a lot lately about my WW2 inventories, and what to do with them all.  Although I have a fondness for Command Decision, especially in its second incarnation, there are too few accessible like-minded gamers in this town.  The other drawback is that you really want a biggish table to play the game.
A small town that is the immediate objective of the German
right hand column.
This set-up has been cluttering up my back room for over a month now - I've visited my daughter and son-in-law in Brisbane, Australia, since laying out this table.  This is not good.  I haven't begun to play the game on it.  The intention was by way of an experiment: re-scaling the ground from 1:1800 (1 inch to 50 yards) to 1cm to 50 yards, a scale of 1:4500.  Seems an unlikely conversion, but may be worth a try.  But I also need to find my rule sets and  ORBATS, and to download and print the CD3 stat sheets before beginning the action.
The main German objective: this large town.  Possibly it
is Kustrin.
The scenario laid out here is based by a dim memory of something from the computer game Steel Panthers: World At War.  Set very late in the War, March 1945 - in fact there ought to be patches of snow here and there about - this is a German counter-attack to recapture the sizeable town and railway station in the northeastern corner of the board.  The defenders comprise a Soviet Rifle Brigade, hastily dug in and  reinforced with small groups of T34/76 tanks.  However,apart from the organic field artillery and mortar battalions they are supported by powerful heavy artillery and rocket batteries off table, with pre-programmed fire missions.
The Soviet rear areas, just west of Kustrin.
The Germans are to make a three-pronged attack with armour and infantry - panzer-grenadiers - with some artillery support, mostly again off table.   On both flanks, the armour comprises a mixed company of Tiger II and Panthers; in the centre Jagdpanther and Jagdpanzer IV with a StuGIV  to arrive from off-table.   The whole rather polyglot battlegroup is supported by Quad 20mm AA, towed anti-tank guns and assorted oddments.   The centre column is led by armoured reconnaissance.
Looking along the line of the stream and the Soviet
defences.  The rather orphaned infantry gun wants a base
and a crew.
The pictures you see here depict the battlefield, with the Russian Rifle Brigade in situ, awaiting the worst.  The Germans are just crossing their start lines.

Russian infantry, armour and anti-tank
covering the autobahn.
But I am seriously looking in future to going the Not Quite Mechanised or possibly the Megablitz route.  Back in January I picked up some second-hand equipment - mostly German - and, after a rethink, grabbed a job lot of plastic Russian infantry.  I don't know the makers (observant readers might be able to tell me) but they are very nice figures.  Whoever had them before me picked out a few bits and pieces, and I got the rest.
Add caption
From them I was able to assemble 5 groups of 6 stands each comprising 3 'rifle' bases (one with LMG), 1 MMG base, 1 Mortar base and 1 Antitank Rifle (PTRS) base.  It seemed to me these groups would make fine battalions in the Not Quite Mechanised (NQM) style.  The complete sprues would have given me a sixth such group, but the absent support weapons can be supplies easily enough from my existing inventory.  You will observe that I haven't been over-consistent with the base sizes.  At that they will not fit on the 'standard' NQM 'stands' as I infer them. I'll probably go for stands 10cm wide by 5cm deep (ground 'footprint' 250m x 125m.  The temptation is to make them 12cm by 6cm, to match the 'real estate' of a battalion in defence, as per spec.  There remained some command and comms figures, and more SMG armed fellows that seemed to suggest SMG-armed fighting bases for Rifle Brigade SMG platoons/companies, or tank 'desantski'.
Grouped plastic infantry - see text.  The flagged command
stand is metal, the flag home made from paper.  The flag
was machine generated - I had to design the hammer and sickle
motif pixel by pixel.
Chris Kemp's own NQM ORBAT for Soviet Rifle divisions call for slightly smaller battalion groups, with 3 'fighting' rifle bases and 2 'support' bases, one of which is a command base. I think that my own battalion group 'fits' a rifle or mechanised brigade's battalions as well. I am very tempted to add a seventh 'base' as a separate 'command' ('C' with 1 strength point or possibly 0 SP) or maybe 'command/SMG platoon' (CF1).

A NQM  Rifle Battalion?  Figures undercoated black
and dry-brushed white over the top.  Up coming painting
My tentative Orbat for a Rifle or mechanised Brigade looks something like this:

Brigade Command*: 
  Commander, car/jeep or GAZ,
  Signals stand with appropriate comms vehicle
3 Rifle Battalions each with:
  1 command + support bases: 1 50mm or 82mm Mortar + 1 MMG + 1 PTRS/PTRD (SP=3)
  3 fighting bases (armed with rifles, SMG and LMG) (SP=3).
  Total battalion SP=6
1 Artillery Battalion:
  0-1 FO; 1x76.2 field artillery (SP=2, or SP=3 for Guards Brigade)
1 Mortar battalion:
  0-1 FO: 1x120mm or 82mm mortar (SP=2, or SP=3 for Guards)
1 Organic Anti-tank Guns
  1x37mm, 45L46, 45L66 or 57mm AT (SP=2, or SP=3 for Guards)
1 'Motorcycle/Recon' Battalion**
  1x recon Motorcycle (SP=2), 1x recon jeep with (opt) AAMG (SP=2), 1x armoured car (SP=2)
1 Tank Regiment (Mechanised Brigade only)***
  1xT34 or Sherman tank (SP=3); 1x command T34 or Sherman (SP=2)

* As I have more in the way of command and comms figures than vehicles for them, I'm as likely to filed them as personnel stands rather than vehicle stands, or, probably, both.

** The Motorcycle unit seems to have been a mixed bag, so much so that one can't really speak in terms of a 'typical' such unit.  Some even had tanks.  However, my own seems to be a reasonable example.  I suggest that one might whack in whatever takes your fancy up to a maximum SP of 6.  So the 76th M/C Battalion of 4th Guards Tank Corps might be depicted like this: 1 x m/c (SP=1), 1 x BA32 (SP=1), 1 x M3 halftrack (SP=1), 1 x light tank (SP=1), 1 x Anti-tank Gun (SP=1), 1 x Field gun (SP=1).  A rather special unit!

***In NQM terms the first tank would count as 'F3' the second as 'CS2', for the rest, I have left off the fighting, support and command designations for the time being.  I have not yet determined what the logistics (LOG) elements should be.
And NQM battalion in road column, marching past a
potential LOG element.
But in the picture above, I have offered some indication that infantry units might well include a pack horse stand with, say two horses, or a wagon or cart drawn by a single horse.

All of this is so far quite tentative, and something to think about in the cold winter months...