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Archive for the ‘Gebirgsjaeger’ Category

Snow Drop 01

This was the third in a little run of games, and pulled a number of threads together.

I had thought some more about the use of air assault in winter (TMP discussion), and it makes sense for a number of reasons…

Air assault offers deep penetration.  Deep penetration would be the standard Soviet offensive intention, and it may be that only airborne operations do offer this option during a Russian winter – put another way … there are safer/better ways of doing it when the roads are in good condition, so the resources don’t go to the parachute units (who are then used as infantry).

Red Army ski troops (Peter Pig conversions)(PBI Russian ski troops … converted Peter Pig figures with some QRF aerosans)

Despite my toying with Antonov’s flying tank, the standard way of delivering heavier equipment (before airstrips were secured) was to ‘free’ drop the kit from a low slow overflight.

Now, the TB-3 for example was able to fly very slow, and the tactic undoubtedly worked … but there may be advantages in dropping light tanks this way into fields of snow rather than a hard summer landscape (the equipment missions are probably the airborne drops ‘without parachute’ into deep snow of red Army legend …) …

Soviet Airborne caps 03

It might also be worth looking at the operational availability of a plane like the TB-3 which had made Arctic exploration missions … I’m tempted to wonder if it was able to operate at times of year that notoriously kept the Luftwaffe grounded.   Certainly, the very possibility that German fighters might be frozen up would make such a mission more attractive if the transports were less affected.

Generally, although we make next to nothing of it in our wargames, the Russians do comment at times of their preference for fighting ‘winter Germans’ as opposed to ‘summer Germans’ – another reason for mounting such missions as were viable during the winter months rather than just sitting out the cold.

**************

The PBI Game

Snow Drop 02(the Germans were clustered around the airfield, which was the Soviet objective; the ski troops would arrive from this end; the airborne fly in from the left, and the Partizans were hiding around the church)

So, with players voting for another go at the parachute insertion variant, I thought it about time I combined the winter warfare game with the parachute drop.  The game and the forces would be quite similar – just the board would be white not green (so I swapped the undamaged terminal for some Warbases ruins, and swapped an off table Russian platoon for some Partisans).

The winter parachute assault game … Forces …

(as usual figures are mostly Peter Pig, vehicles PP, Battlefront, QRF, Quality Castings and Skytrex/CD)

GERMANS

Snow Drop 02aThe Germans had a platoon of Gebirgsjaeger, some dug-in guns, a StuG and the Company Command holding the airfield.  2 snipers were available in the usual way, plus a motorised platoon and a detachment of armoured cars were available as reinforcements.    This was very much a repeat of previous games, and having learned better ways to deploy them, this force was easily enough to hold the position (if running it again, I would probably remove one of the guns and the StuG and maybe a mortar …)

RUSSIANS

Snow Drop 02b

(the TB-3 delivery system … this time showing the technique of carrying the light tank attached to the underbelly …)

Snow Drop 02c

The tanks would enter the table by the road, the ski troops and aerosans in the adjacent fields.   The partisans were deployable in the vicinity of the church (the blue truck was a marker for them, not just a scenic piece) … and the parachute assault platoon would drop as previously (the drop included a 45mm gun and a T-60 tank, both of which, like the aerosans, were independently motivating as normal although they deployed with their notional ‘unit’)

Linking up with Partisans is, of course, a common theme in Soviet deep operation plans at this stage of the war.

Special rules …

Parachute drop: we used the same system as last time (here) including crash landing the light tank.   All German squares count as pinned at the start of their turn to represent their being ‘stood down’.

Snow: Ski Troops and aerosans get 2 free APs of movement in addition to their diced APs on the turn they enter the table.  Wheeled vehicles pay double APs off road for open and partial squares, aerosans can’t use road movement benefits but otherwise move as unpenalised vehicles.  In combat they are Gun:LMG/Armour:4 …

Partisans: the Partisans were diced for as normal, and (as usual with reinforcements) could enter when the Russian player chose but from the secret position … if the enemy entered or shot at the square before such deployment, the  Russian player would have to chose whether to vacate the square (deploying whatever was ‘ready’ immediately in adjacent squares) or whether to try to hold the position (in which case the Germans entering the square would have to make an impromptu assault – it would cost no APs, and would effectively be a sort of random ambush) …

What actually happened …

The game started badly for the Russians and didn’t get much better.

Snow Drop 03Soviet Airborne caps 02Snow Drop 04

Despite the best efforts of the umpire, the Russian commander insisted, this time, in dropping right on top of the objective.   Unlike previous games, the Germans were well positioned from a command perspective and rolled well enough to overcome the effects of being pinned at the start of the turn.   MG42s were quickly hosing into the air in a scene reminiscent of Market Garden

As the parachutists drifted to earth, those that were not killed in the air were lost on landing or to opportunity fire.   Or such was the fate of those on the airfield.

Snow Drop 05

(the airdrop sequentially … red markers being hits during the drop … to which landing and op fire was added before saving rolls made … in pic 2 the combat stands or casualties are placed … and during the turn, the tank crashes in, and the platoon remnants gather in the trees)

Half the platoon was lost (including everyone who came down on the airstrip).  The platoon commander spent all his motivations getting the survivors into cover and managing casualties.

Snow Drop 06

The ski troops swept onto the battlefield with their usual rapid advance, but were only able to secure a perimeter around the airfield … there wasn’t really an assault to support at this stage.

Snow Drop 08

(a couple of QRF aerosans provided mobile fire support for the ski troops)

The T-60 had already been lost in an attempt to rush beyond the StuG’s position (and gain a position from which to support any attempt to rush the open field of fire around the objective) …  And things were getting desperate in a firefight that was going the way of the Germans – and which was pinning the Russians to the cover line.

Snow Drop 07

With no assault in prospect at the other end of the position, the only real prospect was for the Partisans to emerge and hope they would find the Germans less determined at their part of the perimeter …

Snow Drop 09

(Partisans enter the fight … a mix of PP WWII and SCW  types)

… however, when a player is having a bad day, very little will go right … The dice attempts were poor and by the time enough APs were available to make the rush for the buildings, the German MG42s were ready, and the close assault proved disastrous …

Snow Drop 10

(nobody could doubt the bravery of the Partisans … none returned from this final attempt on the airfield buildings)

To cap it off, in the attempt to extricate the aerosans, the Russian player had to concede an opportunity shot to the StuG … one shot, which was all that was needed (the StuG needs a 5 or 6 to op fire, and an 8 on 2 D6 to hit, but when the game is going your way those shots come off all the time – the consequences of a 75mm hitting an aerosan are pretty much inevitable).

Snow Drop 11

Meanwhile, in the firefights, the ski troops had lost sufficient men to require a break test, the airdropped platoon had lost their commander (then the replacement roll had failed) and the Partisan leader had died in the airfield assault … At the start of the next Russian turn the ski troops broke, leaving the player just with some light armour and some leaderless fragments.  The battle was over.

Debrief

So a game which yielded almost nothing for the Russian player.   In retrospect, I think that is probably about right … assault by parachute was a very risky mission with the potential to go horribly wrong.   In the first couple of tests, it went better for the attackers than I would have expected (although they failed to follow up aggressively on a successful insertion, so nevertheless did not achieve the mission).

This time, with the Germans fully aware as to what was going to happen (no way could I rewrap this again), the Russians went for an even more risky plan (right on the objective) which pretty much relied on the Germans not reacting (possible, given that they were pinned, but not actually likely), and, indeed, ignored the umpire’s offer of a pause for a rethink.

So I think in this game we tested what could happen if you try a parachute assault without taking full account of what the enemy might do.

In terms of player response, the tests seem to have been successful … allowing some variations on the standard PBI game, and allowing us to use some of the other kit characteristic of battle on the eastern front, but less regularly wargamed (ski troops, parachute drops, aerosans, partisan attacks etc.) …

Chris K has promised an Eastern Front NQM game, soon,  however – so I suspect I should be painting trucks by now …

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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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A Laager of admin and HQ stands belonging to Von Kleist’s First Panzer Army …

I completed the BMW motorcycle combo that has been on my table for weeks, and made a Staff car out of a Field Car I picked up from Skytrex at Salute.

These are mainly for games at Operational level, adding a Kradschutzen stand, and some transport for the higher command.

Kfz 21 Staff Car

The KFZ 21 is converted from Skytrex’s KFZ 16 model.  There are more details on the modelling page, but note the ‘real’ windscreen.

The BMW is PP‘s recently remodelled German Motorcycle combination.  I have done it straight from the pack (pretty much), and in a radically modified ‘parked’ version.  This is partly for ‘mounted/dismounted‘ use at the more detailed level of PBI, but mostly because I wanted to have a crack at the extreme conversion challenge of stripping the model down to basics.

BMW combination – crewed and uncrewed …

All I need now is to complete 1 GBJ Div. which is short of a motorised anti-tank abteilung – a towed 50mm (although for the Operational game, the precise size of the tubes isn’t that significant, of course).

I think the bikes came out very nicely – there are a few more comments on the reviews page

Things are coming together for a more detailed approach to the Battle for Rostov scenario, maybe in the summer.

(Peter Pig and Skytrex vehicles, Peter Pig figures and a ‘shrunk’ minitanks AA gun dismounted from its PP truck)

Somewhere in the Ukraine, Summer 1942 …

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In amongst all the other stuff, we managed to get a game of PBI in …

PBI: holding objectives

A Company Level unrecorded engagement in which a skeleton force of Gebirgsjaeger were tasked to hang on to some meaningless objectives long enough to be reinforced … in this case the eminently recoverable wreck of a Tiger I and a recce unit with Storch holed up in a nearby farmstead … (backstory on a postcard, please) …

It was a useful refresher for the players who built the game around the narrative meticulously enough for daylight to fail before the reinforcements arrived – with the Gebirgsjaeger all but wiped out, but the Red Army still short of the objectives.

seize the broken ground

(Gebirgsjaeger: adapted 15mm Peter Pig figures)

I also fiddled around with some toys …

New Peter Pig German Motorcycle Combo

Martin has remodelled the German motorcycles, so I got a pack and will post some nicely finished models shortly.  The big change is putting a proper (infantry style) base under the bike.  This is great – allowing it to free-stand easily and bumping it up visually to the same elevation as the similarly based foot figures.  If only all vehicles came with cast on bases under the wheels!

As a downside, the model still has the lump under the engine that was the only reason it stood up before.  Now, what does that lump do?  I have to hack it out and it is a bit awkward to get at.  And the space between the riders arms and fuel tank is filled in (as it always was) – again something that could have been improved in a rework, but remains challenging for the superdetailer instead :o) …

You have to like BMW combos, though.

Chris Kemp’s NQM

(a seemingly satisfied designer surveys his handiwork)

And we enjoyed a rare game of NQM.  Operational Games can be quite a challenge for a weekday evening as there is usually quite a lot of set up, rear echelon  kit  and player briefing to fit into an unforgiving window – so well done Chris for getting a good balance combining the big game flavour with enough action to make it feel like a worthwhile episode of the Eastern Front was played.

The Girovka pocket

(the front line is marked in red in this overview of the Southern end of February’s NQM Eastern front game)

Chris has blogged a lot more on this on his NQM blog ( Battle of the Girovka Bend ) … so I’ll just add a few pictures to give a flavour of the game.  NB yes – I have dropped in some rather synthetic blue to highlight the river …

I was commanding the Hungarians and Germans at the Southern end of the operation (which was destined to become a gruesome meatgrinder in which I sent forward division after division in a futile attempt to dislodge Trebian’s Soviets from the pocket around Girovka and Stalino)(I include this view of the Girovka pocket because once you appreciate that each map pin is a hit – exceed 2 or 3 pins and a stand is wiped out – it gives a scary impression of how intense the combat has been)

The whole game was orchestrated by Chris almost entirely with his collection, but he had asked me to blood the Gebirgsjaeger in this game (their first NQM) and if you’ve read his blog you will know my Sturmovik replaced his for the news cameras in true Soviet fashion – so … like the blog title implies … some eyecandy …

(that sturmovk lining up the vital bridge)

(1 GBJ about to walk into a Russian brick wall: welcome to NQM!)

Some interesting 20th Century at a time of year when there are a lot of ancients events all around.  Armati by the Sea beckons – which promises a visit to Fort Nelson … the Palmerston Folly that allegedly has some big guns in it …

There will be more.

 

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Overdue delivery from the Panto-Pak arms emporium

Courtesy of some foreign aid, a long time ago, PANTO’s finance minister acquired some artillery from an arms bazaar somewhere beyond the Khyber Pass … you know the story (well you do if you played the old AK47).  As the photo shows, they finally got delivered.

January is a month for completing bits and pieces, and those who enjoyed the Christmas AK47 game might have noticed a still glossy toy shop truck and some bare MDF showing as the Afghan lorries rolled into treaty organisation territory …

Not any more.

(click on the image to enlarge)

The guns are PP 105s, and the crews a mix of PP AK figures and Pirates with appropriate heads (there are some ‘shirts off’ figures in the pirate range, so good to adapt as artillerymen).

The guns and bases are my usual metal shimmed with magnabase on the crew-base and tows arrangement, and have been done for some time.   Finishing the tows has been overdue (long overdue).

The truck is a toy shop job of that indeterminate size, which has finally had a proper strip, prime and dry brushing applied and now looks a lot better.

The armoured tow with crane has been pressed into service by Panto-Pak (the arms procurement and delivery NGO).   They got it in some dodgy surplus deal after it was withdrawn from its original role as a missile unit carrier/reloader.  They found it much more useful as an armoured crane.

It has a chequered history … Panto-Pak got it from this guy (link), who got it from this guy (link), who might be related to this guy (link), and it probably all goes back to this man (link) …   Not sure I’d buy second-hand cars from the last two.  It went into action on the President’s Birthday – and immediately got commandeered by a local warlord.  Well, it was Christmas …

It is a slimmed-down mintanks model (M113 variant) with some adaptation.  There is more coming on the modelling page (here …).

Also just delivered …

The Gebirgsjaeger got their flak battalion kitted out …

Motorised FlakArtillerie

This is a porteed 20mm on the back of a PP Steyr truck.   Although I see the main function being in operational games, I am an inveterate fiddler, so have provided the option of dismounting the gun. The gun is cobbled together from parts of a minitanks flak gun and a (I think) QRF and PP figure, all from the junk boxes.   Looks good enough to my eyes for all that …

And I’ve also added a 1-tonne Landy and an Alvis Stalwart from QRF to the AK47 motor pool.   

Both of these were bought some years ago on a whim (the ‘Stolly’ is one of those favourites from all the way back when I had one of the BP Exploration Matchbox ones as a child …)… but turned out to be a bit fiddly (so got set to one side … you know that story, too, I expect).

The Stalwart is due for UN livery (but I’ll leave the badging until the next game just in case I end up using it for something else).

(Review and a couple more pics about to go up on the Reviews page)

QRF Alvis Stalwart

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Another winter flurry …

Troika

This is just an addition to the seasonal snowy stuff …

I can’t be the only one to have had the old Atlantic Revolutions Lenin/Stalin set and to have been bemused by the sleigh.   Plastic Soldier Review link.  Well, whilst building the rest of my Aerosans and ski troops, I discovered that rather than cannibalize it for bits (more of which might follow …), 3 spare 15mm Museum Miniatures horses would make it up nicely into a pretty convincing Troika.   Ideal for the Russian winter.

Of course, there’s a scale shift there … the original is 20mm – but as owners of the set will know it’s a very HO 20mm set, and I think it works fine with modern 15mm components.

I’ve modelled the central horse out-of-step with the outers, in traditional troika fashion (despite not really understanding how that really works).

I decided to leave the model empty at the moment, as it can serve as transport for goods or Staff for either side (though I might make some removable contents when the scenario demands), and to base it up using the plastic ice basing.

(Russian Winter: troika being passed by PP German Ski Troops)

(Frosty options: the Atlantic/MM troika next to a QRF aerosan)

This theme will doubtless develop … but as we jingle into the new year I just wanted you to know the three-horse open sleighs are always an option.  Note I managed to avoid the ‘winter draws on …’ patter (oops! well nearly …)..

These options come into their own when everything else is too frozen to work.

One of those ‘bits box’ classics that has been turned into a (sort of) wargame model and promoted to ‘available’.

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They’ve been on Partisan duty in the Balkans for the last few weeks, but the Mountain Division was formed for its historical role as a supporting wave to 22nd Panzer‘s assault on Rostov in the opening phase of Fall Blau.

Although they had plenty of vehicles and supporting arms, the Gebirgs divisions were light divisions, and primary transport was by mule train – so I’ve chosen to make the formation up with mostly foot stands and horse or muled transport.By 1942 the third infantry regiment (Nr. 100) had been removed to form the core of a new division (5th Mountain Division) and 1st mountain Division only had 6 battalions (Regts. 98 and 99).  However, the extra bases from the earlier configuration will be useful in providing additional stands for the recce battalion in Megablitz and the like.

For PBI, the unit comes in at platoon strength with 3 sections plus light mortar and sniper – and the guns can take their place appropriately.

The teeth of the division: elite specialist infantrymen

(figures by Peter Pig)

Although not part of the official division, you will notice the Stug battalion in the picture which was attached to beef the division up for the city assault operation.

For variety, and for use when the stands get switched over for company scale use (PBI) I have given the artillery Regiment a mountain infantry gun and a mountain artillery gun.  Both were commonly transported broken down into mule loads.

7.5 cm le.GebIG 18

The le.GebIG 18 was the light, mountain gun version of the IG 18 with spoked wheels, no gun shield and a split trail … this one is converted from a Peter Pig model which they happily supplied with the spoked wheels (which was a start, then the knife came out) ..

7.5 cm Gebirgsgeschütz 36 (7.5 cm GebG 36)

The standard mountain artillery piece was the GebG 36 75mm.  This one is by Battlefront, and you can buy them individually from the Flames of War special orders list (the service is prompt and not too expensive).  I have assembled it without the gunshield  supplied as most of the ones I see in photos are without.   The crew is a FoW/Peter Pig mix.  The whole gun is pretty chunky for a small light 75 but looks the part.

Both guns can be seen in action towards the of the Wochenschau clip at the bottom of this post.

Admin stand … Signals unit

(I have added a couple of figures from PP’s Afrika Korps Command pack to the HQ transport)

As a nod to the Alpine traditions of the Gebirgsjaeger I have decorated the bases with rocks and model railway heather … the eidelweiss would be a bit too small to show in 15mm scale but the hardy plants I can do give the troops a distinctive look I quite like.  I have given a very loose indication of the eidelweiss emblem on the side of the soldiers’ caps (although I don’t really think it would be big enough to see) and where the epaulettes can be seen, I have used the light green mountain troops waffenfarbe.

Ski Troops markers (Peter Pig models)

There are just a handful of markers to designate the specialist skills of these troops.  I’ve half done them envisaging players deploying them in snowy conditions from unexpected directions (‘most people can’t move but these guys can!‘) – and half just because Mr Pig makes them so how can you resist?   Actually, I have removed some from their skis to use withing the foot bases (as they have nicely modelled windcheaters etc.) for a nice touch (e.g. the rearmost figure crewing the small mountain gun).

Here comes trouble…

I think these are some of only a very few ski troops available in 15mm.  Piggy’s range of separate heads means that enterprising enthusiasts can put then to a number of uses (and, just a thought, QRF do that aerosan … !) …

After battering their way into Rostov, the Gebirgsjaeger marched through the scorching Caucasus and into the mountains in the most southern thrust of Fall Blau22nd Panzer and its tanks, of course, got sent to Stalingrad.

GBJ art 01

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