Archive for May, 2013

Parachute Assault 00

Our latest PBI game was a chance to test out my air drop rules – and give a debut to my new Parachute markers.   The basic idea of the rules addendum is to allow troops to start from a plane overflying the objective.   I need markers to show where they drop (which may drift and may be exposed to Opportunity Fire by the time they hit the ground) …

For more on the simple markers, see the Modelling page

Parachute markers

Parachute markers

Courtesy some useful tips I gleaned on TMP (parachutist thread), it seems there were a number of tactical drops during the Great Patriotic War.   Typical would be an attempt to seize an airfield by coup de main.   I assume airfields were particularly attractive as it would enable the airborne troops to have reinforcements and supplies flown in .

These assaults seem mostly to have been winter operations (probably because they were the only deep attack options open at that time of year) … still for this exercise I chose the green table, assuming the snows had gone.

The objective was the airfield which was held by a platoon of Gebirgsjaeger who had the support of a StuG and a couple of quad AAs.

Parachute Assault 01

I have ringed the German sections.   They had a platoon of motorised infantry and a group of armoured cars they could call in for support (dice for as reinforcements)…

The Russians had a mixed column of motorised scouts and infantry set to come up the table from this end, and elected to fly onto the table as arrowed.    The airborne force landing here was a platoon of typical configuration … automatic weapons plus plenty of light mortars and flame-throwers.  They also had a 45mm gun in the drop, and hoped one of Antonov’s experimental tanks would land successfully (purists may prefer to assume this was free dropped rather than towed with glider wings attached*)

Parachute Assault 02(parachutes trail behind a TB-3 lumbering over the drop zone)

The AA guns fired at the TB but missed.   The drop happens at the start of the defender’s first turn.   The string of parachutes are placed along a line of squares chosen by the attacker.  The plane can deviate like an airstrike.   The paras drop down during the enemy turn.  These are scary moments as they can be shot at without LOS or cover issues as they float down.

Actually, the German motivations were very poor and just 3 hits carried forward to the Russian turn.

At the start of their own turn, the paras land, and resolve any casualties collected on the way down, in the landing, and from Op Fire.

The square they end up in is resolved, marker by marker, by rolling 2 D6 and deviating as follows …

Parachute Assault 04

This is what happened in the game …

Parachute Assault 03

Fortunately none of them drifted into the same square – which might have given worrying cluster problems (PBI: more than 3 bases in a square makes it ‘clustered’ and an easier target for machineguns) … The red markers are hits carried forward during the drop.

There is a die roll per square for landing injury and confusion, but again, the Russian diced well.  No casualties were taken.

The TB-3 was followed by a PE-2 towing the flying tank.   It crashed to the ground, but a little active umpiring meant it ended up in one piece (just a ‘minor damage’ to resolve at the end of the turn)

Parachute Assault 05(the StuG crew were just waking up and opted to drive away from the arrivals rather than turn their assault Gun round!)

Parachute Assault 06(the Krylya Tanka  detaches its wings and joins up with a typical assault section … in PBI, LMG, SMG and Flamethrower team)

The main danger at this end of the building was the AA gun but this was quickly blown apart by the hastily deployed 45mm.  Small arms similarly dealt with a dug-in mountain gun, and the paras took charge of the ground.

Although the StuG is a tough target, one of the 45mm, the ATR or the flamethrower hit it for a ‘minor damage’ each turn (keeping it out of the game) …

Parachute Assault 07(Platoon commander and AT rifle break into the perimeter near the burning quad AA half track)

But despite all this good progress, the main attack on the airfield buildings floundered: an assault team went in against just a platoon commander and mortar team.    The para’s combination of LMG,  SMG and flamethrower gave them 12 dice against the defenders’ 5 (and in PBI, effectively, whoever gets the most kills – 6s – wins the assault): 12 dice ought to do it.   Actually, a Signal photographer caught the critical action:

Parachute Assault 08(looking for 6s, the attackers get none with their 12 dice … the defenders get 3 with their 5 dice … killing all three attacking stands) 

A further assault, led by the PC, also bounced off the position, leaving the failed assaulters in the open.   Somewhat unsportingly, the Germans got a lot of action points with their one remaining Quad, and drove it out from behind the buildings … there is very little men in the open can do against multi-barreled autocanon ...

Parachute Assault 10(lethal firepower from a second 20mm quad which had been lurking in cover until this point)

The whole attack stalled, the paras losing their Platoon Commander in the failed assaults … But by now other forces were starting to arrive … the Soviet scout column was racing up the dirt road expecting the assault force to be on the objective …

Parachute Assault 09(soviet scouts scan the horizon for signs that the airfield is safe)

But actually, out of sight, the attack has been suppressed, and a motorised platoon has arrived to secure the perimeter.   The Germans are sufficiently confident they don’t even bother to spread out …

Parachute Assault 11

There are some isolated remnants of the parachute platoon scattered around the objective, but they have morale tests to come, a new leader, and are bogged down fending off the counter-attack (if they don’t just disperse) …

They have done a lot of damage, but the support column will have to take the airfield themselves …

A whole new action is about to begin …

Parachute Assault 12

*the glider method was not followed up after a trial programme that did include a successful mission … aerodynamic problems and a shortage of suitably powerful tows meant wartime practice was to drop them from very low altitude or fly them in strapped to the underside of their transports.

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Campaign 2013 16


I was at Campaign (The Centre, MK) over the weekend, busy representing the SoA and promoting the Naseby weekend on the side.  

When I did get a free moment or two, I had a walk round and was fascinated by Huntingdon’s Stalingrad game … Crossfire with 1:35 scale toys.   A game I like, a scale I like, and a battle that fascinates.

Also, this is not a fashionable solution (fashionable would be 28mm figures and Bolt Action) – so thanks for that, too.

Here are some stirring pictures …

Campaign 2013 13


Campaign 2013 14


Campaign 2013 15


Inevitably, I was too busy with the other commitments to play the game or watch any turns in process (pity, as it is a while since we last played any crossfire) , but I hope the photos give some impression of the table.

More on Campaign at Ancients on the Move

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