Saturday, 28 January 2012


This was a company-sized Escalation game, giving my Tank Corps a run out against a Panzer Division battle group and it turned out be to a very close run thing. There were objectives: a. the hilltop (marked by burning T-34), b. a village hut, c. road junction.

My forces where:
Battle Group HQ in Jeep
BA-63 armoured car
Motorised Rifle platoon in trucks
Motorised Rifle platoon tank riding
Maxim MG team
AT Rifle team
76.2mm Infantry Gun
T-34 squadron (3)
SU-76M Battery (3)
FAO Team
2 High Priority Artillery Requests

They would be facing:
Battle Group HQ in SdKfz 251/3
SdKfz 223 radio armoured car
SdKfz 232 armoured car
Armoured Panzer Grenadier Platoon in half tracks
80mm mortar team
Pz IVH squadron (3)
FAO Team
Off-table 2 x 120mm mortars
Timed 105mm howitzer barrage

The battle began slowly, with the BA-64 claiming the hut objective, and half the panzer grenadier platoon racing forward to occupy the woods on the German left, trading fire with the BA-64. 

Meanwhile, the Tiger arrived and it moved to the right of the hill, using the wooden hut as cover, and traded the first long range shots with the SU-152  behind the railway line, but to no effect. In the centre the T-34s raced onto the board, each loaded down with riflemen, and heading straight for the hilltop objective. 

The Tiger's advance.

T-34s heading for Point 172 

The SU-76Ms slip left and right, two moving to engage the arriving Panzer IV squadron from the railway embankment. The third went left, and ran smack into a barrage of 105mm shells landing on turn 3, a direct hit destroying the Suka. 

The Panzer IV platoon, note the panzer grenadiers holding the wood beyond.

The focus of the battle flared in the centre as the T-34 crested the high ground, disembarking their infantry to claim the hill top objective, and a T-34 suppressed the Tiger - mercifully protecting them  from incoming 88 fire. But the Panzer IVs broke off their long range engagement with the Sukas to destroy two of the three T-34s on the hill, and the hill drew mortar and machine gun fire, which suppressed all 5 infantry units . The centre was now cauldron for fire for two or three turns, but the Russians endured it, to hold the objective despite the 120mm mortar fire sweeping the hilltop for most of the rest of the game.

The tanks crest the hill (burning one marks an objective)

Scratch two T-34s as the infantry dismount. Note, the T-70 is off to grab the last objective, the junction by the hut. 

Objective seized! Then lost, as the Tiger tank destroyed the T-70.

The T-70 made a sneaky break to win the game, moving to grab the last objective, but the Tiger, now unsuppressed, responded and destroyed it just in time to prevent a sudden defeat for losing all the objectives. 

On the Russian right the second motor rifle platoon deployed into the village and began to push forwards on foot, to clear the woods, which were well-held by 2 squads, 2 MG teams and their 2 251s. The focus of the battle now shifted to here, as the panzer IVs, now reloaded, rejoined the battle with their MGs and HE shells. 

 The trucks bring in the second platoon. Sukas ahead.
Infantry attacking the woods, with support from the BA-64 and Suka

Grenadiers, Hanomags and 232 engaging the hilltop.

Aware that the Germans were behind on the morale count, the Panzer IVs switch targets from the infantry to their parked trucks, and their machineguns raked them, destroy three, and cost me 9 morale! I should have hidden them behind the railway embankment. 
Still, I tried a second time a steal the last objective, with my maxim mg team moving to claim it, and the now reloaded SU-152 rumbling up behind. At which point the Tiger broke down and was immobilised. This move elicited a desperate German response, and all that could react was their radio armoured car and its single MG. It was SdKfz 223 vs SU-152! The armoured car’s fire saved the day by destroying the MG team, before taking a 152mm shell at close range.

The SU-152 making for the objective

Mismatch, SU-152 vs 223 radio vehicle at point blank range.
The German’s were desperate to break me, knowing the objective would fall to the SU-152 next turn, with a hail of MG fire against my infantry on the right who took the brunt of it, and two squads were wiped out. The resulting 5 morale loss broke the Russians by 1 point. Harsh! The Germans hrevealed they had 1 point left! 

Drat! (not the word I used at the time). The narrowest of defeats, and when I had twice been so close to winning by holding all three objectives. It was a memorable battle, especially the look on my opponent’s face when, with the SU-152 closing in, his Tiger broke down! The heavy casualties inflicted by German machine guns cost me the game, and the loss of the trucks. It was my error to leave them exposed, and interesting to find out that the best way to destroy them was 4 shots per turn from the tank MGs.  I should have withdrawn them, but I never felt I had enough activations. Many things never got done, my SU-76Ms ran out of ammo, withdrew and never got re-supplied.  My artillery did almost nothing. 

Lessons to learn, but a fun evening, and as I write Liverpool have beaten Utd, happy days!

1. T-34s and tank riders capture the hill.
2. Truck-borne infantry advance, dismount and attack on foot.
3. 2 Panzer Grenadier squads hold the woods, supported by 3 Panzer IVs.
4. Tiger advances and breaks down!
5. Deployed Panzer Grenadiers engaging the hilltop.
6. SU-152’s advance.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Kursk Russians - At Last

About a year ago (or more) I set myself the task of re-vamping my Russian army. It was originally collected for the late war, and was built to play a long 1944  'Operation Bagration' map-campaign for the advance and capture of Bobruisk in White Russia. That campaign complete (after about 2 years and 14 games), the army was looking a bit well-worn, having been carted back and forth, dropped several times, chipped, bent and with a few missing barrels. All part of the life of hard-working wargaming army.

It had also taken a bit of drubbing in the games... so I decided to invest some time and effort in making it battleworthy again, this time for battles in the summer of 1943 as a Guards Tank Corps.

So, gone were the T-34/85s, my two ISU-122 (my babies!), and the first outing of the JS-2s, to be replaced by lend-lease M3 Grants and T-70s. Not much of a trade, but it seemed to make sense at the time. I also needed some extra infantry and more T34 shell-stoppers.

It has been been a slow burner of a project, over a year of new models and re-painting, but it is now complete (well as much as you are ever actually finished). Here is whole bunch of snaps of them, ready to see battle in the wheat fields of the southern Russian steppes.


The battle group's commander and signals trucks (with fuel dump).
Is that NKVD officer drunk? Must fix broken model!

Observer teams and supply trucks

Company Command tank

Two T34 platoons...

... and two more.

Two T-70 platoons

 The Suka battery

  Graves for Seven Brothers

 That's my Zvierboi...

... and the other one.

First motor rifle platoon, HQ and 4 squads of 8.

Their transports.

Second platoon. They will have to tank ride.

Third platoon. They will have to walk.

Infantry support, the machine guns.

Anti-tank rifle teams, light mortars and a medic.

Zis3 crash-boom battery and tow trucks.

82mm mortar battery.

120mm mortar.

Artillery, Guards Mortar battery and a 152mm howitzer.

and the VVS

 PO-2 aerial recce

 IL2-m3 - the beast

Peggy 2

 A venerable LaG fighter, about to upgraded to a lend-lease Air Cobra.

Well, I said it's done, but I am tempted to add a lend-lease Churchill squadron, a Sapper squad, maybe a fourth infantry platoon, oh and a 85mm anti-aircraft gun...

... but it will have to wait. The Germans are my next project, Fallschirmjager and a few extras.

Saturday, 14 January 2012


Thursday evening saw the first gathering of the Nottingham White Hart gaming club for 2012, and a chance to fight out a company-sized 400 pts action between an attacking British Armoured Division battle group against my own Fallschirmjäger battle group, defending the village of St Gerarde.

A few others joined the game, as well as several spectators as the battle escalated into an intense struggle. From a slow initial start and exchange of mortar and artillery fire, the battle built until by turns 7, 8 and 9 the British where throwing the kitchen sink at the stoic but outnumbered defenders.

Here is the board laid out, Brits being deployed.

The first casualty of the battle was the lead Cromwell, sniped by a STuG as it advanced up the road. The main British attack game from their far right, across a large crop field and through the woods on the edge of town, which were defended by a single HMG dug-out (the crew abandoned this and ran back into town). Also the main British advance was preceded by the (lucky) arrival of a Typhoon, which rocketed my STuG into a hulk before being rather successfully engaged by 20mm flak, which kept it suppressed for most of the game. 

 The game begins with most of the defenders going onto Covering Fire.

The STuG becomes a Typhoon kill.

A Cromwell pushes ahead on the British right to engage the 120mm mortar team, before being destroyed by a newly arriving STuG.

 The British attack on their right advances under mortar and artillery fire.

British infantry in marching order.

 The woods under heavy artillery fire, the knocked out Cromwell marks an objective (in British hands).
At the front of the village the Fallschirmjäger occupied a row of pre-fortified buildings (and that 3+ save was a star of the game), making a frontal attack difficult, with the German FAO and MG teams hunkered inside and keeping up a steady barrage of 105mm, 120mm mortar fire and suppressing fire whilst Sexton 25pdr shells hit the outside to little effect.

The arrival of German reinforcements (2 more STuGs and a squad in a truck) made it seem to all that the village would not fall, with the British enduring heavy artillery (for one turn it was 210mm howitzers!) and MG fire on the woods. Still their own pioneers got into range and successfully flamed the nearest building, torching the squad within.

In the later turns, after no action from the British left, suddenly they rushed forward, hoping to close the distance at speed, but a second HMG dug-out cut through the infantry in the open (inflicting 18 casualties in 2 turns) to no reply. In front of the town the British motorised infantry platoon also raced boldy forward to close assault range, one half-track was vaporised by a STuG and the dismounting squad wiped out by MG fire, the infantry casualties were mounting like the Somme, and it seemed the Brits must withdraw.

Then it changed. The Brits fought suddenly back, and the frontline situation turned on its head. The well concealed Fallschirmjäger on the front took so much return fire they were wiped out - FAO team, MG teams and squad, even their truck was hit by a 25 pdr shell from supporting Sexton fire (this cost me 4 morale alone). The 95mm Centaur engaged two more MG teams with its fire, suppressing them, and suddenly the Fallschirmjäger’s solid defence seemed to be crumbling. In one turn 14 morale piled on. The Fallschirmjägers command and control deserted them, leaving them struggling to respond and without their artillery...

...and then we ran out of time! It was gone ten and time to clear away. Adding up morale loss the Brits had suffered 32 from a total of 37. The Fallschirmjäger had suffered 26 from a total of 29. A very narrow win for the Brits, helped by their veteran infantry who, despite the casualties, just wanted that village. 

A late rally by the Brits saved the day, but it was really their far higher starting morale total, which was gained by including veteran infantry squads, which told. My Fallschirmjäger (also veterans) spent too many points on off-table artillery, which whilst effective kept my morale total down. Then again it might have been worth it for the two direct hits the 210mm battery inflicted – messy! 

 Reinforcements arrive in the village square.

The British frontal assault, a bold move that cost heavy casualties, but probably won the game at the death!

As a post-script, whilst organising my force for this game I realised my Fallschirmjäger where not a finished forced. Finding myself short of 6 MMG teams, 5 panzerfausts and having no recce units at all. So, this has become my next painting project, to upgrade my Fallschirmjäger into a fully functional battle group. Orders for MMGs dispatched to SHQ, Panhard 178 armoured car and Schwimmwagens to Model Hobbies and various other bits and pieces I’m missing. These will now follow my Russians – still to be completed.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


Post-Christmas and New Year festivities it is time to get back to few wargaming projects. Santa brought me a Total Battle Miniatures church, which is fine model for my first project of the year. The casting was clean, very little trimming required, and the resin itself was less brittle than most. I already have a church (an old Hornby railway kit), which has seen many battles, but it is now well worn, rather damaged and this year I plan to re-vamp and upgrade most of my resin buildings (of which I have about 40!). 

Having given all the parts a thorough wash in warm water I set to with the black spray for an equally thorough undercoat, and then had a couple of evenings merrily dry-brushing greys in front of the tele, from mid-tones to lighter, over the entire model. The basic grey was a mix of Vallejo paints, black, white and  including some yellow with light earth weathering powders added, to give it the yellow/brown hue, rather than a steely blue-grey which looks more like slate (Ok for roofs). The roof tiles were repainted black then dry brushed with a black and blue mix, gradually adding more blue. 

Once the building was all greyish-brown I added detail by picking out a few stone blocks with other grey-ish hues, adding a bit more yellow, white or brown and randomly painting in a few stones on each side. This breaks up the rather solid grey of the larger areas and a few brown weathering powders careful rubbed into the stone work also helps.  Details such as the door and the copper spire point had to be painted, and finally the stone surrounding flagstones in yet another grey tone.

Now came the final details, the transfers. Credit here must go to the decals, the stain glass transfers are superb little renders, and after some careful trimming fit very well into the window recesses. In all it took about an hour to get all the transfers in place.

Finally I added a few bits of clump foliage to the base, as bushes or ivy. Now it’s ready to see battle, hopefully soon - I have a KGN game planned for next week, AAR to follow no doubt.

Next, I’ll be back on my 1943 Russian Tank Corps, which is almost complete, but still short some infantry and a couple of SU-152s. I’ll try to get some photos posted when it’s all complete.