Monday, February 19, 2018

On to Wurzburg!

Just to show that merely because I am no longer painting LW BOTB Germans, my level of insanity hasn't decreased, I have started a new project.  I am jumping on the Team Yankee bandwagon only a few years behind the times.  Yes, I know it is not as shiny as it was when it first came out, but it has an undeniable attraction.  Massed Russian tank waves have a charm all of their own.  Growing up in the 1970s, I played my fair share of the SPI wargames, many of which were devoted to the theme of a Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe.  I remember getting the Modern Battles Quadrigame from the local hobby shop and playing it extensively over the years.  While all of the games were good, the one that I liked the best was Wurzburg, which examined the Soviet invasion of Western Germany.  In this game, a Soviet Combined Arms Army has to be fended off by one US Mechanized Infantry Division, later reinforced by an Armored Division.  Particularly stirring to me was the cover picture for the game, featuring a US M551 Sheridan tank in a threatening pose.

From the Modern Battles Quad, one of SPI's finest!
 Now, one can argue that a Sheridan was more a threat to its own crew than the enemy, but with that picture my fate was sealed.  In fact, when Battlefront came out with a Sheridan model for its Vietnam range, I felt compelled to buy it.  From Wurzburg it was only a hop, skip and a die roll to other addictive Cold War games, such as Fulda Gap, The Next War, Hof Gap, Seventh Corps, etc., all designed to play out the invasion.  While I am currently building a Soviet force, I am going to use the old Wurzburg game to set the stage and terrain for the ensuing skirmishes between the Soviet 27th Guards Motor Rifle Division (GMRD) and the US 3rd Mechanized Infantry Division, both units which were featured in the game.  It should be fun, and if nothing else, won't require any bizarre camouflage to paint on the vehicles.  The Soviet tanks and armored personnel carriers are green.  Not expecting their vehicles to last that long, green is good enough.

As for my force, I am working on BMP-2s and T-64s as the backbone of the army.  It is difficult to tell just what Soviet Division had what tanks and when they got them.  The 27th GMRD may have actually had T-80s by the 1985 (the nominal start of WWIII).  Right now, Battlefront only makes T-64s and T-72s, and the QRF T-80 pales by comparison, so I will use T-64s.  It looks neater as well, and that is important.  I am also using BMP-2s, as I think they look better than the BMP-1, and are also more powerful.  I think the 27th GMRD did have this vehicle, so proxying the tanks should be acceptable.  If I used the 1970s as my starting point, the T-64 would probably have been more likely, but the BMP would have been the APC of choice.  So, this is a decent trade off, even though the US force won't have Sheridans in their Armored Cavalry Squadron.

Culmination in the Ardennes

     One of the many reasons that the German offensive in the Ardennes in 1944 failed is that they literally ran out of gas.  Panzers don't get great gas mileage, and Volksgrenadiers need bread and ammunition to fight.  With scare stockpiles to begin with, any interruption in the logistics chain would cause the Wacht am Rhein surprise to fall apart.  And it did.  Allied air power was pretty good at interdicting the German supply lines, and the Panzer Divisions culminated before the German objectives could be reached.

    I believe I have culminated as well painting Late War Battle of the Bulge (LW BOTB) Germans.  I certainly never planned this to be a major project.  I figured I would just paint one (1!) panzergrenadier platoon in winter camouflage and use the various tanks I had for my Normandy endeavors to flesh out a BOTB German force.  Ha!  The figures proved to be very enticing as they painted up nicely, and the winter motif was particularly enticing.  There were many very interesting actions in the Bulge as well, far beyond the standard Bastogne siege and relief.  The battle at St. Vith caught my interest and so the lone panzergrenadier platoon expanded into separate forces to represent the Fuhrer Escort Brigade (a Confident Veteran force) and the less confident 18th Volksgreandier Division, (a Reluctant Trained mob), both of which saw fierce action around the city.  Any way, after almost two years of painting LW BOTB Germans, I have decided to take a rest for a bit on this front.  Instead of the one (1!) envisioned panzergrenadier platoon, I painted up:

- Company HQ
- 2 panzergrenadier platoons each with a panzerschrek stand
- a heavy platoon for the panzergrenadiers with 4 HMGs and 4 81mm mortars, which could easily be broken down into separate HMG and mortar platoons.
- 3 volksgrenadier platoons (2 with assault rifles and one R/MG), each with an attached panzerschrek stand
- a 120mm mortar platoon
- a 4 gun 10.5 cm lefh 18/40 battery with 4 guns
- a hetzer platoon with 4 hetzers
- a stand alone 88mm flak gun for antitank purposes
- a lot of forward observers

A full storage container of LW BOTB Germans.  The top drawer has the HQ, panzergrenadiers and heavy platoon.  The Mobelwagons are from my son.

Drawer number two has the three volksgrenadier platoon and the 120mm mortar platoon.

Last but not least.  Drawer number three has heavy weapons for the Germans; the 10.5 cm battery, the hetzers and the 88.  Plus some supplies to fight over.  That's a lot of winter stuff.  

     That's a lot of Germans!  And there are a lot more to go.  One of the advantages of being ~2 years behind the latest "Oh shiney!" draw at Battlefront is that I picked most of these up at substantial savings (at least that's what I tell Frau PanzerCDR . . . ) so my lead pile is pretty big.  If I decided to go back to the Bulge I could easily pull out a pak 40 ATG platoon, or some pioneers, or maybe some LW Panthers, or something.  But these, and their American LW winter opponents will have to wait for a bit until I get motivated by the snow or Battlefront figures out just what Version 4.0 is supposed to be.  I am not sure which will come first, but either way I'll be ready!

Monday, December 11, 2017

NOT a Flames of War entry

Here ye, here ye.  A colleague of mine who has failed to see that the one true dimension is 15mm, has acquired a 54mm Stadden figure of, he believes, a British Lancer circa 1900.  He has a number of questions regarding this figure that I was not able to answer, so I am using this site to post a number of pictures of the casting, with the expectation that somewhere, in the internet of wargaming minds, someone will know the answer.  Specifically:

1.  Is the casting an enlisted man?  NCO?
2.  What colors should the trousers be?
3.  What insignia should this figure have, especially regarding any sleeve work?
4.  Any other websites or painting ideas for this figure?

Your enthusiasm and insight is much appreciated!

This should be easier to paint than pea dot camouflage on a 15mm miniature, but I could be wrong . . . 

Monday, September 4, 2017

LW BOTB German 10.5 cm lefh 18/40 Howitzer Battery

Eureka!  After over 6 months of work (well, mostly waiting for a LONG overdue back order to be filled), the Late War Battle of the Bulge (LW BOTB) German 10.5 cm lefh 18/40 Howitzer Battery is done!  I built four guns so I can use it as a Panzer Division 4 gun battery or a Volksgrenadier 3 gun section.  I also did a command stand and a staff stand as when I started building it Flames of War Version 3 was still the one in vogue.  Plus, the guys looked neat.  So, I started the crews and ordered the howitzers from Battlefront, thinking that the special order guns would be easier to get (and cheaper).  Wrong!  They didn't have them in stock and took five months to fill, which was annoying.  I eventually found three others on eBay and ordered them while waiting for Battlefront to get them in stock.  Of course, as soon as I ordered the others on eBay, guess what finally showed up in my mail box.  Goes to figure, I suppose.  So now, I have a full 4 gun battery, a staff stand, another Forward Observer, and a command stand.  Plus, three other unfinished howitzers that will go into my lead pile in the Battle of the Bulge Tupperware container.    I think this is a rare unit for table top use, and should help my Germans against the always nasty Americans.

A full battery readies to fire on American positions east of St. Vith.
A slightly better picture.  It is hard to get the lighting right with a snow covered table.

I used the Late War Winter crew for these guns.  

These stands may be superfluous in V4 but still look neat.  
The RT Volksgrenadiers of the 18th Volksgrenadier Division need all the firepower they can get.

I used several light coatings of snow flock over a dead winter grass mixture.  

The Command stand looks cold.
Another view.  

The staff has many targets, but not enough ammunition!  Where are the ammunition trains?

The FO hides in the snow.
I liked how this unit came out, but not the time it took to get all the components to make it.  Luckily, my next units are mere VG sturm and infantry platoons and I have all of the needed figures.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Great Finds!

     I was cleaning and reorganizing the command bunker the past two weekends because things had gotten a bit out of control.  I found that even walking around the gaming table was hazardous to my health, and that a good purge/spring cleaning was in order.  I am not completely finished, but I have made yeoman's progress.  In the conduct of cleaning out old stuff for reorganization/repurposing/recycling, I came across a number of pretty neat things I had forgotten about or hadn't been able to find for years.  The easiest find was an old Pegasus bridge that I had purchased a number of years ago, placed on a shelf and immediately forgot about.  All the parts are there, so it seems a new SWORD Beach scenario is in the works.  Mme  GondrĂ©e
would be happy.
When/where did I get this?  

Not an overly complex kit, which is to my liking!
A more important find was a number of landing craft from Old Glory's Command Decision line.  They had a really good sale a long time ago (a decade?  perhaps . . . ) and I bought up 5 LCMs and 3 LCVPs.  After arrival they languished on a shelf and got put in another box on another shelf and . . .  well, you get the picture.  These also look like easy models to assemble and paint.  They should provide sufficient lift for any amphibious invasion.

Almost like Christmas!  I hope I have some battleship gray paint . . . 
My greatest find was another purchase from perhaps a decade (+) ago.  Brookhurst Hobby was having a sale to get rid of their SDD stock and I purchased the last two (2!) LCTs that they had.  Like many a project that sits on the shelf, I had lost interest and then track of these models.  When I tried to find them a while back I failed to locate them.  Subsequent attempts were also negative.  As such, they are somewhat my prodigal LCTs.  These also appear to be easy models to assemble, and since there are limited choices for LCTs in 15mm, they look quite nice.  I think SDD is out of business now so the last two (!) LCTs was quite a steal.  Because you know that the last one is the best one!  Let alone the last 2!

What the heck was in this box?  Could it be . . . a long lost LST?

Even better it was two of them!

I am somewhat surprised no one else picked up the molds for these.

This should be a nice transport for the 13/18th Hussars, at least the ones that aren't DD tanks.  

While getting new, shiny stuff is always fun, finding old, used to be shiny stuff is pretty good too.  Especially if you find it in the process of cleaning up the gaming area.  The area is no longer rough terrain, so that is a clear benefit to all players.  What else is out there?  Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Historicon 2017

I was able to attend Historicon 2017 down in Fredericksburg, VA, this year.  Despite being a trek in the mobilewagen, I got there on time and played in a number of games from Thursday to Sunday.  The flea market was decent, though the overall interest in FOW seemed lower in the vendor area.  Team Yankee seemed popular, and I was able to play in the MEGA TEAM YANKEE!!!! game on Saturday.  Here are a few shots on the games I played in.

On Thursday I played in the American Civil War Spotsylvania Courthouse Battle using the Big Bloody Battles rule set.  The Confederates were outnumbered, but better leaders and terrain allowed them to hold on despite repeated Union assaults.

The Union II Corp advances to assist the floundering Union northern assault.  

Good ground and entrenchments make sure the next Union attacks don't do much better.  

Attacking across open fields in not a good idea unless you have a lot of good troops.  

The Confederate center is threatened with more Union forces.

Lee is able to shift forces to prevent the Federals from holding the Spotsylvania Courthouse.

Union forces culminate on Day Two with the Rebs in possession of three of the five victory point positions.  On to North Anna!

I played a Stalingrad game on Thursday evening using version 4 FOW rules.  I had a Soviet infantry company (at first) attacking German positions in the city.  They were wiped out to the last stand.  Luckily my T-34s did some damage and reinforcements arriving in the sewers turned the tide.

Massed Soviet infantry prepares to assault the Tractor Factory.

The starving Germans are well entrenched.

Sewer born reinforcements turn the tide.

The Germans cannot resist the Soviet hordes!

Victory to the larger battalions!
Friday was the Vietnam day as I played two very different games set in the Vietnam War using two different rule sets.  In the first game, the US Marines attempted to dig out entrenched VC and NVA forces in Hue using FOW Version 4 rules.

My VC companies prepare to absorb the Marines' firepower.  Ouch!

The VC have lots of booby-traps, mines, snipers and ambush HMGs to slow down the Marines.

A VC RPG scores a lucky hit on a Marine tank, my best shot of the game!

The Marines make progress but are slowed down by the numerous VC booby-traps, snipers, ambushes and mortar fire, allowing the communist player to eek out a win.
The second Vietnam game of the day was "The Men of Company B" led by Martin Goddard of Peter Pig.  Here the US player is conducting search and destroy missions to root out nefarious VC supplies and local forces.  The game played very differently as one might imagine.  Martin was a great game master and very entertaining (the British accent is worth a couple of victory points alone!) and we ran two complete games.  Martin and his minions won one and the US player won the other.  Lots of fun!

A US squad searches for VC caches and slow running VC.  Rolling the Piggy dice is amusing in its own right.

VC local forces and US infantry exchange fire.  The US has a firepower advantage but the VC have a pesky ability to run away and regenerate.  Another great Peter Pig game!
My last game on Saturday was the TEAM YANKEE MEGAGAME.  I wanted to play this to get a feel for the game system, and the lust of running a full BMP battalion proved irresistible.  The game was well set up and knowledgeable players were a big help.  Still, a seven hour game is a bit long for me.  I need to be more disciplined in the future.  Still, a very impressive game.

Nothing says MEGA GAME!!!! like a full Soviet tank regiment!

A British artillery battery attempts to slow the horde.  Good luck!

The Soviets roll including the BMP-2 battalion on the flank.

Initial NATO defenders are brushed aside.

The British FO is killed as the BMPs roll west.

The British artillery park repositions to the rear (run away!) as the Soviet tank horde forces its way through the interchange.

The Soviet Commander is not interested in losses.  Move west!

A BMP company loses some mounts but the surviving infantry hops aboard the remaining vehicles.

Traffic jam on the Autobahn.

The BMPs keep moving. 

An RAF Harrier strike obliterates a BTR company!  Ouch!  Good thing the Soviets have two more in the battalion!

The advance continues.

NATO reinforcements from the US and West Germany try to slow the Soviet thrust.  Good luck.  

British reinforcements turn and set up a strong position to stop the Soviet thrust.

The BMP battalion has lost about half of its vehicles now.  One company is essentially combat ineffective but no force has failed a morale check and routed.

A reduced company pushes ahead while the strongest remaining one takes up position in the woods to engage the British forces.

British tank fire kills off most of the leading BMPs.  The surviving infantry forms up and continues the attack.

A HIND attack looks neat, though most are shot down by West German AA fire.

The attacking infantry manage to kill two British tanks with RPGs and force the Centurion ARV platoon to route.  Well done!

At games end, the Soviets are still not across the river despite ~50% casualties.  NATO forces are hanging on by a shoestring.
Everything in Team Yankee is deadly!  The game moves fast, but at this concentration it might be more than the game system is designed to accommodate.

Thanks to all of the game masters and players who did a great job at presenting their games and dragging me along the various systems and forces.  Well done!

Time to decompress and paint more LW BOTB Germans.