Archive for the ‘Operational Games’ Category

Zis-12 searchlight 01

Again, this will be of more interest to operational wargamers …and will enhance air defence assets.

I’m just going to do a post here rather than a feature on the modelling page as this is a one off … a Zvezda truck plus a lamp from a naval parts range (picked up in the model shop) – everything else is scrap/scratch-built.

Zis-12 searchlight 02(1:100 Zvezda truck with searchlight)

I replaced the Zis bed with the slightly longer one from the Opel Blitz and cut and lowered it but I declined to do a full Zis-12 conversion as it didn’t seem essential to model all features exactly.

I then fabricated a chassis and cradle to carry the light.  As the assembled components are differently coloured it is pretty easy to see how the bits have come together in the WIP photo …

Zis-12 searchlight 03

The lamp I had picked up looks a little smaller than the standard Russian air defence searchlight – but as the example bottom right in the picture below shows, some variations are possible …

I decided to leave the lamp’s plastic lens clear and the interior white – and it seems to have worked … in the photos it picks up the camera flash quite strikingly I think.

Zis-12 searchlight 07

Zis-12 searchlight 04

Zis-12 searchlight 05

I picked up the bits for this quite some time back so this ‘Zis-12’ is another outstanding project ticked-off and delivered.   Although a bit fiddly at times it was pretty straightforward, really and I am pleased with the results.

Zis-12 searchlight 06

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Soviet Artillery

Sov Art 01b(15mm Red Army guns – various makers)

So this week’s tidy up has been basing and painting up gun crews …

A 57mm Zis-2 anti-tank gun,  a 76mm M1902/30 divisional gun, a couple of F-22s, a M1909/30 152mm howitzer, and some big howitzers …

Respectively Battlefront/FoW, Quality Castings and Old Glory/True North.

Sov Art 01ci

The crews are a mix of (mostly) Peter Pig plus some Skytrex and Battlefront.

That QC old model 152mm howitzer has been waiting for its full crew for some time …

Undoubted stars are the 203mm Howitzers, however – Stalin’s famous Breakthrough Artillery …

Sov Art 03(True North 203mm B4 Howitzer from Old Glory)

I’ve done my best to assemble crews … mostly artillery men just stand around waiting to serve the guns.  Not a problem if you are modelling, say, a/t crews for a tactical game – but we need lots of bods standing around for operational games …

Sov Art 04a

Next up, I need to complete the supply wagons for the rifle corps …

Sov Art 02

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CKB 05

All the best to NQM Chris on his birthday.

We popped over for a splendid meal and I took with me 3 15mm Soviet 85mm AA guns which I had liberated at a good price from the B&B table at Colours the other day.   I thought a couple of them would make a good battery at Chris’s chosen scale so gave him a pair which I had assembled up deployed … and I made up one in ‘semi’- transit for my own collection.

CKB 01(Flames of War 85mm Soviet AA guns ready to paint and finish)

So Chris gets to paint 2 of them for the NQM collection, and I get the other one.

True to my ‘new deal’ I have done mine (can’t paint the lead pile overnight but accept it can’t be added to – so anything bought now gets painted straight away and put into service.   Hopefully stuff can be promoted from reserves too, doubling the virtuous consequences ;) … ) …

CKB 02(completed FoW 85mm AA gun with Zvezda Zis-5 truck)

The ‘semi’ notation is because I’ve opted for an incongruous compromise … the gun is secured in transit mode, but I’ve decided to put some crew around it as if it was ready to fire.  I think it’ll look fine on the wargame table even though I suspect you’d never really see one clamped down but with a loader lining up a shell.

CKB 03

I still do like these all metal models and this one goes together OK.   It has the usual inadequate single drawing Battlefront supply in lieu of instructions, but a quick look at some photos of the real thing allows relatively pain free assembly.

So, for the technically minded: I assembled it with ‘Power Flex’ Superglue and mounted it on MDF (with some card shims under the wheels so I could landscape it is without burying the tyres; the gun is undercoated in Humbrol black enamel, dry-brushed in Vallejo acrylic, then blushed with Humbrol and finally dry-brushed.  The crew are mostly enamel with a tinted varnish …

CKB 06

CKB 04

Zaloga tells me that in 1943 brigades of these guns were formed as Tank Destroyer units specially to deal with the new German heavy tanks.   Otherwise they were reserved for air defence.

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Op14 is an operational style game of WWI and interwar conflicts by Richard Brooks … it uses a grid (each square representing 2 Kms) and playing card activation/control.

Here are some pictures from this week’s game hosted at Trebian’s shedquarters …






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Of course the next most important thing to completing a reorganisation is getting the troops into action: and the opportunity came very rapidly in an important Winter Offensive in the Northern sector (in Chris Kemp’s ongoing NQM Barbarossa campaign).

Chris had set up a shallow defensive line of dug-in (hopefully ‘winter’) Germans and put me in charge of several divisional waves of freshly rebuilt heroes of the Motherland (not that we’re taking sides, of course ;) ) …

NQMWO 02(my guys are organised 6 half-battalion sized bases per regiment – and 3 regiments per division)

NQMWO 03(Chris has his as 5 or 6 bases per battalion, but misses a level and represents a division with 3 such battalions)

Which is all quite fascinating as it means we have 3 blocks of about the same footprint with the same number of figures in a Division.   Perfect … just the scale logic getting there is not the same.

So in we went in great force, rolling reasonable dice … and mostly the German’s folded … To be fair to them, there were as many overloads as morale failures (on an Eastern Front Winter there really isn’t anywhere to run to anyway).

NQMWO 04(Classic NQM … soldiers everywhere!!! ) …

I have some tank forces in reserve to boost up this attack but opted to put the rifle men in first, to see if the Germans were up for it.   This was a quick ‘working week’ session – and concluded that there is enough left in the game to give another session (so we get all the toys on the table) …

Meanwhile, we had rattled through about a dozen or so firefights, most of which were followed by an assault, and the Russians had pretty much carried the first line and were engaging the second.

In traditional fashion, I did try an impromptu attack, against to see if the next line of Germans were really committed to hold onto this patch of someone-else’s country.  They were, so the next wave of attacks will, indeed, need to be prepared properly.

Late evening, the Vodka was passed out amongst the men who took the key positions …


Whilst I was posting these pictures, Chris put up the annotated story (so for who was who etc. go to NQM blog/storm forecast )

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Rifle Divisions 01

Almost done, now …

I’m waiting for some parts to arrive to add tows/carts for the big mortars but otherwise the infantry guns and limbers are complete and, for Operational Games, 3 divisions of infantry are rolling.

Rifle Divisions 02(I have given a horsed limber to each infantry gun and – somewhat generously – a Komsomolets to each anti-tank gun)

Rifle Divisions 03(each gun is mounted on a shim base which will mate with a magnetic patch either on the tow or the deployed base)

Rifle Divisions 04(I had some walking gunners liberated in the rebasing so these now are loose and can accompany the guns as appropriate)

Rifle Divisions 04a(AT guns hitched up … there is some scope for me to add some riders to the tractor when time permits)

Each rifle battalion has a stand of small arms and a stand of support weapons … one representing the machine gun platoons, one HE type support and one anti-tank.  They all count as infantry in operational games but it gives a nice spread of types and functions.

Rifle Divisions 05(Rifle Regiment in half battalion stands)

Rifle Divisions 06(Rifle Regiment on the road)

Each division has three of these regiments …

Rifle Divisions 07a(Red Army Rifle Division)

And the Corps has three of these divisions

Rifle Divisions 08(Red Army Corps … the Rifle Divisions)

Being for operational games … all these go into a bespoke file box …

Rifle Divisions 09(an exact fit – give or take some space for padding … at right there are some spare wagons but the space will be for mortar carts)

Of course, each Division has its Headquarters, services and Artillery, and the Corps has more of the same … these are all in the next file box (which we will look at in a future episode) …

The figures are mostly Peter Pig Russians, the Komsomolets are either Battlefront or Quality Castings.  The AT guns are piggies, the IGs BF and the big mortars Skytrex.   They all blend together nicely I think.

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Lodz 01

The Battle of Lodz, seen here from the Southern aspect, was fought in 1914 on the Eastern Front … or refought in London (just about) on the 100th anniversary using the Op 14 operational level rules by Richard Brooks.

It was fought in ever harsher conditions as the Germans attempted to destroy the Russian 2nd Army and headquarters in Lodz (while the Russians attempted to encircle the Germans and trap them in a freezing vice).

Lodz 02

Here’s the view from my end of the table – I took the Reserve Corps of XXV and III Guards, turfing the defenders out of the Northern villages and completing the encirclement while XX and XVII Corps annihilated the trapped Russians.

We did not know the Russian plans, and I  had the unenviable task of closing around the position … leaving all that empty space (the whole near, left quarter of the table – around which several unarrived Russian players would deliberately hover) to my rear.

In truth, there was nothing I could do about it: I did not have the resources to police it all, and we did have to crack the enemy position.   Whilst not being naive, I had to run a race against time and hope to get into the position before unseen enemies could trap me against it.  Or so it seemed.

Lodz 11(another depiction of the battle as temperatures drop)

Op 14 is played with 4 stand brigades in 2 Km squares organised around Divisional HQs and artillery support.   If all are in contact then command is a good as whatever is normal for your forces.  For effect, you roll =< than the number of figures in your brigade (so as you lose men your chances of hitting diminish).

Some of your losses are recovered overnight but otherwise accumulate and trigger morale issues at higher levels.

Lodz 03

Anatomy of XXV Res. Corps … 3 4-stand Brigades, a Field Gun support battery (3 figures) and a Divisional HQ with some cavalry attached for liaison duty.   All ‘in command’ (all in adjacent squares).

In the background some outlying Russian units fall back on the main position.

Lodz 04

XXV are gradually sucked into the cauldron … the force is now spread out, using the HQ and cavalry to maintain command integrity.   With just the one battery in support, the chances of these attacks prevailing against men in villages and/or dug in are low – but the actions are necessary to draw troops and support away from the main attacks in other sectors.

The troops activate in card order – so in this sector XXV will go first.  The cards limit what actions are possible.  Hearts are good, but those enemy on clubs would be stalled if they were out of command (and e.g. not dig in) …

I like the simplicity of Op 14 as it lets you get on with the ‘big picture’ … however the squares do allow tactical modifier such as flank and enfilade bonuses which are too often missing from operational level games.  So there is subtlety as well as the grand sweep.

Polen, Lodz nach deutscher Besetzung(Lodz in 1914)

Tape rivers form on the boundary between squares and e.g. affect artillery movement …  and toy town buildings create the convincing illusion of built up areas once you are inside the abstract bubble of the game.

Lodz 06(Traction engines and draught horses bring up the German siege artillery)

As the battle developed the Germans were able to bring up some typically massive siege guns.   They took rather a long time to set up (hence the counting down D8) … the shell holes in that corner square come from the howitzers … they will be resolved when someone assaults the position.

In the example above, the square is likely to be attacked from both directions, giving the attackers extra dice.  Up to 2 of the defenders might be removed when the attack goes in as a card will be turned for each bombardment marker (shell hole) – red is dead – but as the defenders are in permanent trenches (extra dice) the attacker will still probably need the pummelling to have paid off (the defenders still get their extra dice, but, 2 bases left, would need 2 or less for hits, rather than their establishment 4) …

Lodz 07(Spotter aircraft flying over Lodz)

Little by little (square by square) the defenders were squeezed into less and less of the city … Unless spotting is available, artillery is by support only and requires line of sight (so the guns were being pushed through the streets) …

Lodz 08

The game gave one of the better – fluid and dynamic – city battles I have participated in … it felt gritty and brutal but progress was made (though not without reverses and losses) … Meanwhile Russian 5th Army was closing around us …

Lodz 09(the battle for Lodz city centre)

Lodz 10(action to the South of Lodz)

By the end of a day’s wargaming we had pretty much taken Lodz (at least that was what was being said in the German HQ … ) and our flanks had held out … just about (actually a number of divisions were in a mess and my reserves were on the brink of heading home – but don’t tell the Russians that).

We had 8 players in the game running from map moves to table top, including resolving a multi divisional city fight in a single afternoon (whilst allowing a good amount of socialising and a buffet lunch as you go) – yet at no point did the game really feel either rushed or simplistic.  I think that speaks highly of Op 14 for games of this sort.

Op 14 was published in Nugget 236 (June 2010) – the journal of Wargame Developments.

The figures and components were mostly supplied by Ian Drury and include a number of veteran Minifigs plus anything else that suits.

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