Friday, 27 June 2014

Capturing the crossing

The second scenario in the Operation Epsom sub-campaign of the Memoir 44 Normandy Campaign. This features a battle we've been to a few times before, Cheux on the front of 15th Scottish Div.  In this intsance a fair portion of the front encompassing 15th Div, 34th Tank Brigade and bits of 11th Armoured Div on the British side against the left flank of 12th SS Panzer Div supported by elements of 21st Panzer and Tigers from the 101st SS Tiger Bn. The German artillery is still located on the heights around Rauray after the last battle.

Tim and Mark took the Germans, John and Kayte the British. All photos taken from the German left/British right.

As a continuing campaign battle, both sides had the opportunity to inflict minor losses on the enemy (throw two battle dice plus one for each previous battle won for losses), and both sides rolled a reserve unit too, which they elected to keep in a staging area offtable.

The German left, guns on the heights covered by infantry and tanks, Cheux in the distance with Tigers and Panthers across the Odon.

Infantry defences around Cheux, some of these were equipped with mortars.

Churchills of 34th Tank Brigade and 15th Div infantry. Infantry tanks can only move 2 hexes but take four hits.

More British infantry and some Shermans from 11th AD.

The British left flank comes under artillery fire from Rauray.

The Panther suffered a hit during the game setup sequence and moved up to support the German left.

Tanks and infantry exchange fire in the centre as the Tigers cross the Odon.

The Tiger takes numerous hits and is driven back by massed gunfire as British infantry overrun the outskirts of Cheux.

They press on to impudently threaten the river crossing (a British objective).

On the left the Luftwaffe makes a suprise appearance, damaging both the Shermans and Achilles.

On the German right the Churchills and British infantry are thinned out as Stugs counterattack.

12th SS Panzer IVs make a foray towards the British left, supported by artillery.

Churchills press foward behind artillery fire as the Panthers move up.

The Panthers make a death ride against the weakened British centre.

Another British infantry unit makes a dash for the bridge and makes it this time.

The SS Mark IVs crush a British infantry unit under their tracks, ending the game.
This was a much closer battle than last time, the scores being four: six (Allied: Axis). Overall campaign totals now being nine:seven with the Allies still ahead and importanly having captured the bridge at Cheux which affects the next scenario. The game mechanisms worked better in this, with combat being more attritional as I had hoped and both players making considered moves with good use of combined arms, the German artillery at Rauray was particularly effective.

So, on to the next one, Hill 112!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014


Like everyone else in the blogosphere recently I seem to have acquired some PSC 15mm IS-IIs. These did turn up fairly frequently in battles from 1944 onwards, so I expect them see a considerable amount of action, and I already have some scenarios which feature them.

I picked these up at Triples, and only built four as that is all I need for a Regiment at one base to 5/6 vehicles. The fifth I may have a go at converting into an ISU-122 to join one I already have.

The finished regiment advances over the dining table.
Nice simple models to assemble, the one piece tracks are great. I built them all as IS-IIm, and I expect the spare guns will come in handy for something.

Nice view of the tracks from the side.

Good detailing on the engine deck.

Yes, the turrets turn.
I just finished all these in plain Russian Green and avoided the popular air recognition markings as the real life ones were quite well marked anyway. All the markings are taken from examples in the Concord book 'Stalins Heavy Tanks' and I deliberately made each vehicle different both in terms of markings and combinations of exposed crew and turret MGs so they could be distinguished for game purposes.

I experimented with a new technique for painting the tracks on these, doing the tracks metal all over, then a heavy application of mud, a brown inkwash and highlighted metal again. It is a bit more subtle than my earlier approach of highlighted rust brown but hard to see on these models.

Saturday, 14 June 2014


As a keen cyclist, I have occasionally toyed with the idea of getting a period bicycle for dressing up purposes, but the idea of restoring a rusty old wreck has always seemed like too much work. eBay however came to the rescue with a a supply of modern Indian made bicycles with many of the features of their 1940s counterparts. Even putting the Indian bike together was an 'interesting' exercise, so I've very glad I didn't go down the restoration route. So, on with turning a modern bike into a 1940s troop carrying bicycle, or 'Truppenfahrrad'.

The Indian bike assembled. It has rod brakes, single speed rear gear and required the application of considerable brute force as it appears to be largely made of cast iron... it does  however have a fabulous early pattern Brooks style saddle, ready painted convoy markings and a heavy duty carrier supplied.

In the process of repainting, undercoat, particularly on the chromed parts. The originals were finished in matt or satin black all over (although many were later repainted in panzegrau, dunkelgelb or whatever too).

Early pattern leather saddle springs.

Front rod brakes. These were an absolute pig to assemble and adjust,  not helped by the brake guide clips being missing. eBay rode to the rescue with spares and a whole fascinating world of vintage bike restoration.

The finished thing, suitably draped with gear.

Not sure how correct these stowage options are, but the breadbag does make an excellent pannier and I've seen the odd photo with bikes set up like this.

This is modern pump in the same pattern as the originals, fitted for the Woods valve (more on those later).

The saddle in all its glory.

One for bike nerds. The abominable Woods Valve, note the spacer collar to keep it off the rim.

Valve 'internals', basically just a brass tube with a bit of rubber to seal it. No screw valves, no internal springs, so has the merit of extreme simplicity. The downside is that they leak, if the rubber doesn't seat well or is perished, they leak a lot. The front valve was irretrievable so I replaced it with a modern Presta, but the back one is OK, and frankly I'd rather keep pumping it up than attempt to take the rear brake assembly to bits. 

So there we have it, a vaguely passable 1940s style troop carrying bicycle. It isn't a perfect repro as really it needs a fixed rear wheel rather than a single speed plus a dynamo front light, a fixed wheel would also remove the need for a rear brake, but is good enough for now and I've got a couple of events coming up later this year where it can hopefully have an outing.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Peter Pig Panther G

More old clunkers, this time my 15mm Peter Pig late model Panthers. Like the Tigers, these have seen a surprising amount of action in various games, but they were originally bought to provide the Panther component for the Battle of Brieux (sometimes known as Grimbosq, one of the various Orne crossing operations in Normandy).

Again, like the Tigers, these are nice crisp castings, capture the heft of the original and are very heavy models!

Three Panthers advance across the dining table.

'Guns like telegraph poles' as Heinz Altmann described them. You can see the chin under mantlet.

Side view of a version with zimmeritt and some moulded on externals including camo net on the barrel.

Side rear view, nice detail on the engine deck. The commanders are from the same pack of Peter Pig German tank commanders as the one in the Tigers. 
Like the Tigers, these are also fairly hefty models but nicely capture the look of the original. Finished in standard late war three colour camo and fairly light on markings.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Clearing the flanks

Once more I have recently returned to 'Memoir 45', my attempt to put a bit more meat on the basic Memoir 44 system. Essentially it bolts on lots of the rules from the supplements and adds some tweaks from other variants like Memoir 80, the mian aim being to produce similar depth to the later Command and Colours game. I also recently bought the first Memoir 44 campaign scenario book which is linked scenario campaigns covering Normandy, the Battle of France and Barbarossa. As a trial for Memoir 45, I am working though the Normandy campaign, which starts with one of my favourite battles, Operation Epsom. The outcome of each battle affects (to a greater or lesser extent) the next, and in some scenarios, specific objective flags affect the scenario setup in the next game.

The first scenario in this campaign is 49th Divs attempts to clear the flanks of Epsom, and in particular, the high ground around Rauray. Opposition comes from elements of 12th SS Panzer Div and Panzer Lehr.

Mark and I took the British, Kayte and John the Germans. All photos from the British side.

British centre and left. Rauray is visible on the German baseline to left, flanked by artillery and Panthers and Panzergrenadiers from KG Wunsche.

British right, Pz IVs and Stugs from Panzer Lehr in the distance.

First blood to the British, 8th Armoured Brigade handles KG Wunsche roughly, destroying the Panthers.

On the right Panzer Lehr counterattacks the advancing British infantry.

The panzers press on. John was hideously unlucky at the point and the Pz IVs were destroyed in close combat by the infantry.

Over on the left, 8th Armoured Brigade exploit their success and damage or destroy the German infantry covering Rauray.

On the right the British infantry press on.

Despite flanking fire from the German mortars in the centre, the Allies clinch a victory.

Much to everyones surprise, this game ended rather abruptly as the requisite casualty total was reached in no time, partly as both sides were so aggressive with their armour. The British were clearly ahead on points (five to one) which carry over for the duration of the campaign, but had failed to capture the high ground at Rauray, leaving the German artillery positions intact for the next battle. I was a little disheartened that despite the tweaks, the game seemed as random and bloody as ever and took considerably longer to set up than to play. Oh well, onto the next one to see what happens.

For anyone wishing to try these out, I've added Memoir 45 to the downloads page. You'll need a copy of Memoir 44 to play, and the style is somewhat terse as it is intended as an aide memoire.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Peter Pig Tiger 1

Some more venerable metal vehicles from the turn of the century. Everyone has to have a few Tigers, and these two have seen a surprising amount of action over the years, probably due to my obsession with the British in Normandy. They are very nice castings, but are thick pieces of metal so quite heavy.

Two Tigers rumbling over the dining table.

Really very imposing from the front. The crisp castings pick up a brown inkwash very well.

These are modelled with a missing front exterior roadwheel, a not uncommon configuration.

This one is modelled with more clutter on it, track links, unditching beam, spare wheels etc. The engine deck gratings are nice and deep so actually look like holes.

The same model from the side, missing trackgruards and applique turret armour.
Nice little models, they look and feel like Tigers. Most recently they have been out in the various 'Operation Epsom' scenarios from the Skirmish Campaigns book as well as various Memoir 44/45 as 'elite' tanks.

Finishes in standard dunkelgelb/borwn/green camo with minimal markings. The TC is from the Peter Pig tank commanders pack, moulded with legs on which need cutting off.