Saturday 28 December 2013

St Chamond

My WW1 Frenchies were in need of some armoured support a bit heavier than FT-17s, but affordable 20mm WW1 French tanks are as rare as hens teeth as most come  into the 'modelling' bracket, all etched brass and very large price tags.

Along came Lancer models to the rescue with this very affordable resin model of a St Chamond, probably one of the worst tanks ever built (although there are other rivals for that particular crown). It was slow, thinly armoured  and unreliable (nothing new there for WW1) but its short track length and long chassis overhang meant its trench crossing ability was even worse than that of the A7V, and it had the unfortunate habit of getting stuck in even the smallest depression. Ideal for crossing shell torn ground! It did at least have a 75mm gun and bristled with MGs.

The finishing model, it is fairly gigantic although not as big as a Mark V.

The model has a crisply cast resin body with metal accessories (guns, tracks, exhaust) and goes together easily, although I assisted the tracks into place with some blu-tak as well as glue.

The cumbersome overhang to accommodate the long 75 is very evident here. The gun was fitted largely due to the political machinations of St-Chamonds technical director, who also owned the company which manufactured the guns.

Lots of rivets and hard lines to pick up the drybrushing.
The model was finished in ochre and a disruptive olive green scheme applied as per the illustrations in BT Whites 'Armoured Fighting Vehicles 1914-18', then inkwashed and a liberal coat of mud and dust applied. It has yet to fire a shot in anger, but will no doubt appear in a game to provide a German artillery target at some point in the future.

Monday 23 December 2013

Iron Wedge

This was the third instalment of the Skirmish Campaigns ,Red Guards, at Kursk scenarios, like the last one I modified it to more of a grand tactical level. It was yet another overwhelming Soviet attack so I put all the players on one side again. Readers may recall that the Soviets broke through the German main line of resistance last time and are now poised to push into the reserve position. This scenario pits the 24th tank brigade against a portion of the German divisional engineer battalion in a partially entrenched position.

The Russians have most of a tank brigade, a light tank battalion with T70s, a medium battalion with T34s and a motor rifle battalion whereas the Germans had two companies of hastily dug in combat engineers, a battery of 37mm anti-tankguns and a few hastily emplaced minefields. The Germans deployed quite dispersed but in depth, with minefields deployed to channel the enemy into the natural killing ground in the centre. The AT guns were deployed behind the northeastern ridge facing due west, hoping to catch the Soviet tanks in the flank and rear.

The Russians had plenty of time to break through and their initial briefing urged caution, however give the Russians some tanks....

The battlefield from the south. Soviet recce had revealed the wooded ridge in the top left was occupied and mined. The enticing gap in the centre seemed to be clear.

The Russians pour on, T70s in the lead. Reconnaissance in force was the order of the day.

Unfortunately the enticing gap proved to be an anti tank sack. The lead tanks are pinned or knocked out by withering defensive fire.

The T34s are also shot up, tank riders stripped from the tanks by small arms fire. Luckily the ambushing AT battery doesn't do huge damage.

The T70s fall back to reform, while the unpinned T34s shoot up the German AT positions.

The German AT guns are knocked out, but many of the Soviets are left milling around disorganised back on their start line. The intervention of the brigade commander soon sorted them out again and tanks at least once more rolled forwards.

One T34 company shoots up the Germans in the left hand flanking wood.

But on the other flank German assault engineers rush forward to close assault the T34s. This tricky manouvre required the Germans to win the initiative twice in a row (or the tanks would just drive away unscathed). In the event the engineers only managed to knock out one platoon of T34s, but it looked fairly scary.

A wedge of T34s heads for the German baseline.

Followed up by the rest of the surviving tanks in the brigade.

In the end (unsurprisingly) the Russians won a tactical victory, but having their infantry stripped from the tanks denied them a major victory as that required four infantry platoons to exit the table as well. Taking a bit more time to probe and expose the German positions would have let them suppress the defenders and shoot their way forward using fire and movement. As it was, the initial rush was fairly severely shot up in the first ambush, but the Soviets were able to recover and try again, a bit more cautiously this time.

So, it looks like the Russians have  broken through, what will the Germans do now?

Wednesday 18 December 2013


Although some of these have been seen in game reports, here are a few 2mm BAOR units. These are the first batch I did. Some units (the infantry battalions) have extra 'bits' so they can be formed into different configurations. It was fairly rare for such units to actually have four infantry companies plus a support company, more generally it was four comapnies with the heavy weapons parcelled out or three companies plus a support company.

Type 74 Chieftan Regiment, four armoured squadrons, HQ, recce troop and guided weapons troop. The Scimitars and Scorpions are cut down Warriors. The FV438s (Swingfire) are lightly modified generic APCs with launcher units in top.

Mechanised Infantry Battalion, four mech companies, HQ, recce troop and support company with mortar battery and Milan troop.

Motorised battalion (TA?). Four infantry companies, recce troop, HQ, support company with milan and mortar batteries plus a battery of 105mm light guns. The infantry transports should probably be Saxons, but life was to short to figure out how to convert those from the Irregular offerings. These are also decent standins for Bundeswehr Jager battalions.

Configured as late a 1970s armoured division at Megablitz scale. Two armoured regiments, three mech infantry regiments plus div assets. Compared to other countries divisions, this is very weak, not much stronger than  bundeswehr panzer brigade, although each Type 74 armoured regiment has almost as many tanks as an entire Soviet tank regiment. 
The units above are enough to form a Task Force (late 70s equivalent of a brigade) and I've subsequently added more mech and tank battalions to allow for various TF permutations as well as an airmobile battalion.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Something funny happened on the way to the forum

Been a bit quiet on the blog front recently, pressure of real life. We did however recently have a break in Rome, and it was very good to get away from the hurly burly here. I have found visiting major cities in the winter works well as often the main attractions are fairly deserted, although you are always taking a chance with the weather. In this case we managed to miss the storms going out, the air traffic control outage while we were there and the fog coming home. Not hugely wargamery, but a few items of wargames interest below.

St Peters Basilica at sunset

Coliseum from the outside

and the inside. I thought those trapodoors in 'Gladiator' were made up, but evidently not. The remains of the lift shafts can be seen in the underfloor galleries.

Palatine Hill, it looks just like rural Italy

View from the Palatine across the forum

Julius Caeser. The Curia is just to the left and the Capitol up the hill to the right..

King Victor Emmanuel IIs monument, some people think this a bit over the top!

Trajans column. The source of so many shield and armour designs.

The pedestal of the column, legionary shield designs relatively evident.

JC again. This time the propoganda version with a full head of hair, in front of Caesers forum. Mussolini helpfully built a huge elevated road right through the middle of it.

Walls around the Vatican.

St Peters from inside the Vatican gardens.

The double spiral staircase in the Vatican museum.

Marcus Agrippas frontage to the Pantheon.

Ignatius Loyolas church. The leader of the counter-reformation can be seen in the tryptich in the foreground.

Marcus Aurelius's column

The inscription mentions both Marcus Aurelius and Maximus. Why do the common people care what happens in Germania?

The sun at mid-day shining through the oculos of the Pantheon.