Saturday 27 February 2016

Grudge Match

After the exciting outing a couple of weeks ago, I fancied another trip to the Central Front in 1981. Away from poor old 4th Armoured Divs vain attempts to hold up 3rd Shock Army, the action switched back to the Braunchsweig area as 34th Panzer Brigade, fresh from its shattering victory as reported here on Megablitz and More: Counterattack pressed on to relieve the defenders of the city.

General scheme here:

General Briefing
As night draws close, 3rd Shock Army is pressing on west towards the Wesel driving 4th AD before it, but south of Braunschweig, 34th Panzer Brigade has overrun an NVA Motor Rifle regiment and is poised to both open up a corridor to the defenders of the city and cut off 12th and 47th GTD.

German briefing
34th Panzer Brigade has succeeded in breaking through the enemy defensive crust towards Braunschweig. We need to hold a corridor open to the city up the plain between Wolfenbuttel and the Mitelland canal extension.  

The brigade has not stopped to rearm as speed is vital, damaged vehicles have been abandoned and losses have been absorbed by reorganising the brigade on the march into three full battalions. The troops encountered earlier today were NVA, who put up a reasonable fight but were equipped with outdated equipment.

The enemy is likely to respond vigorously to this threat with reserve forces.

The Luftwaffe has laid on as much air support as possible, but given the strength of enemy air forces, ground support is likely to be intermittant at best.

Open up and hold a corridor open to Braunchsweig.

Warpac briefing
14th Motor Schutzen Regiment to the southwest was overrun by enemy tanks this afternoon, it is vital that the enemy does not link up with the defenders in Braunchsweig as this will both enable them to resupply  and risks cutting off our forces to the west.

Division has committed all our armoured reserves to stop this enemy attack, they will jump off from their current assembly area SE of Braunchsweig. The enemy panzer forces have not stopped to reorganise after their attack, so our move will catch them in a depleted state. No air support is available as our main effort is further west.

Prevent the enemy opening up and holding a corridor to Braunchsweig.
Neutralise the enemy panzer force.

John A and Tim C took on the forces of righteous capitalism while Tim G and Jerry A were once more the steely eyed defenders of socialism. As ever, played with my 2mm toys on Hexon terrain and using NATO Brigade Commander.

The Bundeswehr looking eager.Never before had they had so many tanks to play with! Two panzer battalions with Leopards and a mechanised battalion in Marders.

The wicked National Volksarmee, looking determined, which really is the only thing you can do when commanding a Cat III Tank Regiment equipped wiith T55s....

The battlefield from the northeast. Braunschweig is off to the right, Wolfenbubuttel to the left and in the far distance the Mitelland Canal extension and autobahn bridge guarded by some Soviet engineers who have just spend all afternoon repairing it..

The NVA Tank Regiment in its assembly area. Although most of the regiment had T55s, the divisional Independant Tank Battalion had some shiny new T-72s. The vehicles visible on the Autobahn are abandoned civilian transport.

On come the West Germans, two panzer battalions in road column. This juicy target was promptly shot  up a battalion of T55s who managed to hit some Luchs leading the central column.

Sadly things didn't improve for the Bundeswehr. The T55s managed to hit some of the Leopards and a storm of artillery fire from the NVA towed 122mm battalion firing over open sights drove back first the panzer battalion in the centre, and then the leading elements of the panzergrenadier battalion. The disorganised panzer battalion was engaged with RPGs by the bridge engineers, while the other battalion sorted itself out in Wolfenbuttel.

Meanwhile the NVA had pushed forward to occupy woods and villages across the line of advance. NATO artillery and airstrikes inflicted some losses, but the NVA held their ground. The deadly artillery battalion is in the centre of the picture.

Sadly the NATO misfortunes continued as the panzer battalion in the woods was comprehensively shelled and attacked by Soviet engineers, and the panzer grenadiers broke under close range fire from the T72s. At this point, having lost over a battalion and with their forces in disarray, the Bundeswehr gave up and pulled back. 'Foward defence' had proved to be an extremely costly doctrine indeed. 

After their stellar performance in the breakthrough, it was surprising how quickly the attack collapsed. I fully expected the NVA tank regiment to go the way of its predecessor and be completely destroyed, but the BW were appallingly unlucky. I'm never seen so many morale throws failed, while at the same time they were unfortunate in the card draws so it became much more an attack-defence and less the encounter battle I'd hoped. The NVA ran a very solid defence, their key tactical choice being to deploy their artillery for direct fire, and while NATO artillery and air did eventually arrive to quell the threat, the damage was already done.

Saturday 20 February 2016

Baltic Bolsheviks

John brought a revised version of his Neil Thomas style RCW rules down to try at the club. This scenario featured a White army operating in the Baltic states trying to break through to Petrograd,opposed by a horde of Bolsheviks, under the somewhat tenuous command of one Joseph Stalin. Myself and Tim C took the forces of regressive authoritarianism, whilst Tim G and Jerry took the progressive forces of socialism.

Our chaps come bravely plodding on.  Most of the White infantry were poor quality, apart from a special 'tank shock' battalion and a company of dodgy looking Swedes. Keen eyed readers will notice that the Whites have some tanks. IRL these were provided by a helpful British government, along with crews and logistic support.

Hordes of Reds lurking amongst the woods, villages and swamps. In the far distance are some ex-Imperial palaces. The Reds are all dug in, but fortunately only have a single artillery battery with which to worry the tanks.

Our chaps walk into a hail of lead. While the tanks were largely immune, their effects were principally moral and they had very little actual firepower as they represented tiny numbers of vehicles. Our mission was to get some infantry off the far edge, so the tanks had to shepherd them forwards. Tanks cannot enter broken terrain except on a road, hence them having to manouvre around all the terrain.

One of our Regiments advances through the marshes. The enemy fire is quite impressive!

The Whites finally got the hang of infantry-tank cooperation and managed to push quite a big hole in the Red lines. Our green infantry kept running away and hiding ,and by now the ranks were looking a bit thin. After many shots, the Red artillery actually managed to hit a tank unit.

It was all too little, too late, and over on the left a tank unit, accompanied by the remains of the 'tank shock' battalion managed to rout the final line of defenders and push on to glory in the very last turn. Historically the tanks aided a White breakthrough, but eventually the Whites were stopped and forced to retreat by overwhelming numbers and the tanks were withdrawn by train.

This was an excellent little game, the mechanisms worked very well (particularly the tank rules) and we managed to get through 12 turns and to a final result in an hour and a half.

Saturday 13 February 2016


No, not the WW1 battle of Megiddo, but a scrap several thousand years earlier. Like Magenta in Italy, it seems to be one of those places which attracts an unhealthy amount of warfare.

This was a Command and Colours outing to around 1400BC, where some Canaanites were revolting against their Egyptian overlords, the latter led by a chap called Tutmose III (who I gather was later nicknamed 'The Napoleon of Egypt).

Clever Tutmose had wrongfooted the Canaanites and caught their army in some confusion at the very gates of the city of Megiddo.

This was played with Tim Gs very nice 25mm toys on hexon terrain (as usual). Tim C and myself took on the revolting Canaanites, while John A and Jerry E took the mighty Egyptians.

 The view from the gates of Megiddo (some rather nice resin wall and tower sections). The Canaanite army is a ragtag of light infantry and auxilia, with a couple of light cavalry units but an imposing array of heavy chariots in the centre. As befits our befuddled state, we only had four command cards... Over in the distance is the mighty Egyptian horde, in a sort buffalo horn formation, such as that later used by Scipio Africanus against the Carthaginians. All very worrying.

Tutmose himself, accompanied by a horde of other chariots and suported by some rathe scarily compenent infantry. Egyptian chariots have all sorts of special rules, which turn them into essentially pre-Biblical attack helicopters.

The Egyptians led their attack with their left, auxilia, warband, light infantry and cavalry. They were countered by the Canaanite right, all huddled together for mutual support. The Egyptians seemed to favour standing off and conducting missile fire, whilst our chaps got stuck in very heroically with the pointy stick. The Egyptians didn't seem to like this very much and were forced back. Presumably they don't like it up 'em.

Tutmose then sent his chariot wave forward in the centre. Again, mainly indulging in missile fire rather than closing to contact. Having strayed within two hexes of our lines, it was the ideal opportunity for our heavy chariots to lumber forward. The Egyptian chariots may have been able to move and shoot and inflict extra hits in combat and ignore hits back, but they could still only take two hits each, and after a bloody scrap all the Egyptian chariots were destroyed, Tutmose escaping by the skin of his teeth. Coupled with their earlier victory on the right, this clinched it for the Canaanites and 'The Napoleon of Egypt' was sent packing.

Hard to see where it went wrong for the Egyptians, with their command, numerical and quality advantages they should have wiped the floor with the Canaanites, but an over-reliance on missile fire and piecemeal force commitment (so easy to inadvertantly do in Command and Colours) meant they fed themselves to the Canaanites in nice, easily digestible chunks. The more I play CnC Ancients, the more impressed I am with it as a simulation as well as a game. While I think it has some serious problems in its later incarnations (Napoleonic and WW2) from a simulation pov, the Ancients game does actually work as a command and resource management simulation. Occasionally derailed by the outrageous arrows and slingshots of fortune.

Tim also has a report of this game in his blog:

Saturday 6 February 2016

Jagdpanzer IV conversion

We haven't seen any of my 20mm toys for a bit, so here is another one. This old veteran was converted from an Airfix Panzer IV some time in the mid 1970s. I used to have two but only one seems to have survived. I've always had a soft spot for the Jagdpanzer IV, and I've still got the Bellona print on it, but I think the conversion was based on one of Gerald Scarboroughs never ending series of articles on how to cut up your Airfix kits.

The hull is all made up from plasticard, the gun mounting was carved from balsa and filled with milliput, while the gun is re-used from the original model to make up the L48 version of the Jadgpanzer IV. When I retrieved it a few years ago for a repaint before assigning it to one of my Megablitz divisions, I noticed one of the road wheels was missing. Battle damage no doubt. I'd not done a massively good job converting the ball mount for the MG, but hey, I was only 13 and no doubt in a hurry.

The Airfix Panzer IV always suffered from overlong tracks, these have been cut down and stapled together. They are still fractionally too long, but fit much better than the originals. I was always very pleased with these conversions, and from the side they sit quite like their real life counterparts. A slight gap in the hull is evident here, again no doubt youthful haste (and cutting all those angle shapes was really had), or maybe poor quality welding.

Rear view, nothing very exciting here. The original paint job was just green and brown disruptive over dunkelgelb, but the Bellona had some pictures of them in ambush, so when I repainted this model I had a go at the ambush scheme. Again, just green and brown over dunkelgelb, but with contrasting dots of green, brown and dunkelgelb. I went heavy on the green as one of the colour plates was an interesting scheme from the Reichswald battles with almost entirely green and dunkelgelb (but still ambush pattern).

I went with very plain markings (just three balkan crosses) as by 1944/45 the massive production and consumption of German AFVs meant much of the early war heraldry had gone .

I'm glad to have resurrected this model, but I do wonder what happened to its partner. Oh well, lost along the way somewhere I guess.