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Archive for the ‘Paratroopers’ Category

OK … a number of things –

I’m still experimenting with decals … how to use them and which ones … I’ve got this winter thing going on (appropriate, you might think, to the Summer of 2017) … and, well, I had to buy something at Partizan

I have a little rule … I try to spend a little at every show (whether I need anything or not): spending helps the world go around – and whatever I buy I have to paint (so as not to let the pile called ‘dormant projects’ get any higher) …

For all its many merits as a show, Partizan doesn’t have much for me but (in addition to books and scenics) I did find a 1:100 Zvezda T60 which I haven’t built or reviewed yet so why not …

Well it turns out I have already done that (here … ) and the appropriate slot in the divisional box is already filled.  I am sure all enthusiasts will occasionally forget they have bought something and get one again …

So, to fufill the second directive (to build and paint) I decided those airborne troops in Winter garb might possible deserve their own, Winter camo, support.  A T60 with whitwash swaths and snow-suited tank riders:

(Zvezda’s 1:100 T60 given a P.B.Eye-Candy makeover)

Brushes up nicely, of course.

I put a little red star on the glacis … occasionally you see them on Soviet armour – but less is definitely more.  The Russian for star is zvezda, as I’m sure you all know.   And that’s what inspired an interlude of tinkering.

The decal sets are the I-94 ones.  I had good results with the aviation symbols and vehicle plates but had also bought a Red Army slogans one which I hadn’t tried.  The lettering looked a little thin to me (not exagerated to the extent that you might need on 15mm/1:100 vehicles).

So I tried to liven up my aerosans …

The ‘guards’ slogan is 15mm … it’s kind of nice but you struggle to see it if you don’t get close up.  Thank heavens for the wonders of modern digital technology.

So I tried a 20mm slogan on a PSC T34

It’s the later, big turret 85, otherwise I’d not have got the decal on – but I do think the 20mm lettering is better for these models …*

But really what these pictures show is where mobile phones are, these days … the pictures are taken with my Samsung Galaxy  … now I did try to set the focus up properly as I wanted you to be able to see the decals – even so, when I reviewed the results I was quite surprised.

It made me remember when I did a magazine shoot back in the 80s with my (then) 35mm SLR … I got passably professional results but only after quite a bit of setting up.  How things have moved on.  And I guess what we do on our blogs today will look primitive tomorrow.

Here’s a T60 beauty contest.

A Zvezda win in my book … and they win on price, hands down.

*******

*the PSC has Zvezda running gear … something I did for variety and compatibility … I also think, on reflection, that I’ve probably got the front tactical symbol turned through 90°, thus, perhaps, a talking point.

**the aerosans are from QRF … they’ve used one of mine on the website 😉 …

You can find I-94 on the internet or you can get them at UK shows from minibits

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Snow troops 01

Just a quick experiment really … I swapped on a few ushanka heads and painted some of the new Piggie scouts in snow camo …

Now mostly the Red Army’s snow suits were one-piece coveralls with the equipment under the suit (2-piece suits on the Eastern Front seem generally Finnish or German ..) … but these paras show there were variants …

GroundParatroopers(Soviet Paratroops ready for wintry conditions)

So here’s the result of the experiment, ready for Chris’s next NQM retreat from Moscow.

Snow troops 02(Peter Pig 15mm Red Army Scouts with head swaps and white suits)

I think it works quite well and expands upon my ski troops.  Hopefully, in time, Martin will make some new packs in the more familiar voluminous coverall.  I would buy some.

The truck in the background is one of the new Piggie resin models.  Looks good I think.

Snow troops 03

I’m happy with that experiment.  The force expands.

snow-drop-01a

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Tiger 01

This game mirrored some real events that took place in the Winter War … but for our purposes, the mission takes place in North Africa, just after the Vichy French forces joined the Allied cause.

Tiger 02

Some isolated German paratroops have taken possession of a broken down Tiger tank.  A French armoured car patrol has run into them and called up support.

The game is PBI and support for the Germans will come in the form of 2 ‘platoons’ of Saharianas … for the French, infantry is arriving and there will be an airstrike.

As you can see on the picture, the French player has been allowed to place a small platoon in ambush.

Objectives:

Tiger 03

The main objective is the broken down Tiger in the middle of the table.  It is not manned and has no function other than as a marker.

There are two secondary objectives …

Tiger 04

The Paras transport assets …

Tiger 05

… and the field kitchen and its essential victualing resources.  Because you just have to have one.

The Game:

At the start of the mission, some Laffly armoured cars are in a firefight around the gates to the old Casbah …

Tiger 06

The German AA truck was actually taken out by an anti-tank rifle from some of the Legionaires approaching from the East.

Tiger 07

But there was also a MG42 crew on the roof.

Tiger 08

… which effectivel pinned the Laffly’s down … and ultimately took them out.

Tiger 09

(one of these is destroyed, the little dice means the other is immoblised but might be recovered – unfortunately it got hit again … )

Meanwhile, the Arabs burst out in the buildings and close assaulted the Paras.

Tiger 10

Actually the placing player forgot they were in the square and machinegunned it.  So the first action was resolution of those hits … one of which went on the old jaloppy … and, on a saving roll of 1, turned out to be the group leader (PC equivalent and a Regular French Officer as it happens) …

If only you could plan these things.

In a bloody melee, the Arabs were thrown out …

Tiger 11

(PBI-style … the French airstrike lands in 3 empty squares)

Equally frustrating, the Hawk fighter missed its target (the required die roll allowing the defender to define the ‘off target’ drift).

Reinforcements:

We diced for these in traditional PBI style (which caused some predictable consternation as not everyone likes the mechanism) … I usually build arrivals into the scenario, but for this gathering I wanted to retain some flavour of the basic game.

Tiger 12

The Axis did rather well, getting their Company Commander and his jeep on early …

A fresh patrol …

Tiger 14

… and my newly painted Semovente – bought at Campaign, painted during the week – and straight onto the wargame table.  It had to be done.

Tiger 13

Amongst the French arrivals were these truck mounted Hotchkiss AA guns … quite vulnerable but about the best support weapons available to the French commander.

Tiger 15

But by this time the game (and real) clock was running it – and the intitial ‘coup de main’ had failed.

Although a bigger engagement could go either way, at this stage the French held none of the objectives and had lost a number of key vehicles (indeed all of the Lafflys … ) …

Fortune had allowed the Axis build to be more immediate and, as the picture shows, a strong grip was closing around the French footholds.

Tiger 16

Many thanks to the players for entertaining me for a coupe of hours – I really enjoyed seeing it play out.

This game still works for me.

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Dec 2015 01

Back to the Rostov project and some tidying up in the German boxes …

I’m publishing some pictures despite the basing not being fully brushed and tufted because I may not get much more done now before Christmas other than playing some games and sharing good cheer.

There have been some Zvezda Opel Blitz trucks waiting to fill the services role … so we have an ambulance for 22PZ and a repair truck for 5th SS Motorised

Dec 2015 02

(we can add these in the fullness of time to that open-ended topic: what can you do with Zvezda trucks?)

It is also about time that I crewed up 22PD’s integral artillery (Panzer Artillery Regiment 140) which is represented by the 15cm FH18 model ..

Dec 2015 03

Dec 2015 05

The gun is Skytrex and the crew figures are by Peter Pig

Dec 2015 04

Oh – and I bought a Zvezda Panzer III whilst making my first visit to Battlefield Hobbies so I had to make that up (as is the rule with any new purchases – plus, there seem to have been a lot of Panzer II’s at Rostov and I was doing Germans … ) …

Whilst I was fiddling around I also added a couple of Russian air drop markers .. the parachutes are from an old Airfix set and have been pending for a while – so I tidied them up.

The parachutists are from PP‘s AK47 French FFL with headswaps and the weapons removed so they can drag in their chutes.  I think the marriage is a good one.

Dec 2015 06(Russian generic parachutists)

The FFL have webbing like parachute harness and little in the way of identifying kit other than their weapons so make good generic paras.  I chose to swap ushankas onto them rather than flying caps as it makes them less period specific (NB my Ice Station cold war game) and, anyway, most Russian WWII airborne ops seem to have been Winter missions.

Dec 2015 07

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Being a Cold War seasonal entertainment staged for the MondayNight group …

BGD ISCF 01

The game combined some elements of the celebrated Operation Cold Feet and some real and fictional mayhem from Ice Station Zebra.    The rules were AK-47 classic with a few scenario tweaks  (plus a personal EDNA die roll which was set too easy so allowed a fair degree of role play to direct the narratives*).

AK-47, of course, is designed for Post War semi-historical African Warlord battles … but in its earlier format (sometimes referred to as classic) has a simple and swashbuckling style that translated comfortably from the savannah to ice flow.   3 of the 4 players were new to it but picked it pretty quickly.

BGD ISCF 05(Ice Station Cold Feet)

Briefly, something has fallen out of the sky somewhere on the ice flow, and a Soviet Ice Station has gone off line.   Nato has sent a mission to find out what is going on – and maybe gather some goodies.

ice station zebra poster

The Nato mission is … parachute in – find and check out the Ice Station – skyhook out any sensitive gear** – RV with the submarine for extraction …

There is a Soviet mission which is after the same materials and is charged with denying the Nato mission.

BGD ISCF 04(the Nato troops dropped successfully close to the station and only lost one member on the ice)

BGD ISCF 06

BGD ISCF 07(Nato operatives secure the Ice Station and search for clues)

Soviets at Zebra

There then followed a preposterous aside where they find a dead Soviet astronaut who has crawled in for shelter … In the ‘real’ narrative, it is a spy satellite, but Ian, on his departure, passed me some old Airfix astronauts which he not found a use for for years, so I painted one up and got him straight into a game (however circuitously).

BGD ISCF 08

(Space debris found at Ice Station Cold Feet)

By this stage the Russians were aware they were coming second in the race and had begun to mortar the Station and called up reinforcements …

BGD ISCF 09(the Soviet team were quickly reinforced by a 1940s style detachment of ski troops and aerosans)

And everyone was surprised when some light tanks turned up to support the Nato contingent.   A miniature battle on the ice broke out and a couple of airstrikes caused havoc (the professional Soviet special force had few heavy weapons, but proved good at rolling the ‘Double Four’ with their small arms fire – which in AK-47 wins then an airstrike special effect: very handy when you have some tanks to quieten down!***)

BGD ISCF 10

(Cold War: battle on the ice)

By this stage the Nato force was having problems … the skyhook mission had been aborted due to the presence of enemy Ground Attack fighters over the RV so everything would have to go out by submarine …

BGD ISCF 12(Cold War getting hotter … Flogger strike coming in on the Nato tank support)

But, thinly disguised as Soviet, the extraction team shows up in the nick of time (and the random roll put it very nearly adjacent to the the Nato team which was all but pushed off the end of the ice) …

BGD ISCF 11a

I won’t include full details of the debrief (as we may run the game again, so reserve the right to recycle some of the twists) but we ended up with a clear outcome for the mission and a thumbs up from the players who seemed to have got into the swing of things.

Of course both sides subsequently denied everything and such is the nature of the pack ice that eventually it will all have disappeared without a trace …

BGD ISCF 13(Ice Station Cold Feet: a last man seen leaving the chaos)

AK-47 ‘classic’ seemed to work very well for this freewheeling evening game … and has a ‘cope with anything’ simplicity that enables the game to bundle along …

*******

*purely to avoid those catastrophes where players get killed early on, everyone was allowed a ‘get out of jail’ argument plus an edna roll – as nobody failed the rolls, that aspect morphed harmlessly into a more ‘matrix’ style mechanism and allowed players a little role play.

** the Fulton Skyhook … it was real but had to be aborted due to the crowded skies ..

***basically we played all the bits of AK’s main rules bar we ignored the ‘choice’ morale test (so as to keep the small number of units we were using all in the game – for a good while at least) …

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Southern Russia 1942/Northamptonshire 2013

Road Block PBI 01

This was an Umpire driven PBI scenario game based on accounts of Army Group South pushing beyond the Don in 1942.   It didn’t go entirely to plan!

The basic narrative is that rather than being encircled as the previous summer, Soviet forces are now falling back in front of the German spearheads.   The game starts with German light armour and recce rolling onto the table chasing fleeing Russian vehicles (armoured cars and T70 tanks) …

Road Block PBI 02(Achtung Panzer!  … and ‘ammo’ in the background)

Unknown to the Germans, the Russians have been allowed to dig in some anti-tank guns to deny the road and have some paras in the woods.   The scenario evolves: the Germans shoot up the fleeing Soviet armour but run into the concealed guns … they therefore call up their mechanised infantry.   The remaining Soviet armour is therefore able to get away, leaving an infantry game where the Germans may have some vehicle support if it has survived the ambush – and where the Russians will be able to deploy a couple of conscript platoons in the town once the German infantry turns up.

Road Block PBI 03(burning and immobilised armoured cars in a ploughed field around a dug in 45mm gun)

Road Block PBI 05(a couple of T70s attempt to get their front armour facing the enemy)

What actually happened?   The German shooting at the Russian rear armour was less effective than the A/T guns firing at the German front armour.  The ambush worked.  The German lead platoon then attempted to stay in its 250 half tracks as it drove up to tackle the gunners: cue lots of black and red cotton wool and some lousy saving rolls from the soldiers caught inside.

Road Block PBI 04(the highway from the Russian end: raw rifle platoons deploying)

Unfortunately before the armoured infantry could do much reorganising, the parachute assault troops broke cover and scrambled over the positions, hitting with everything from PTRDs to Flamethrowers.   The Germans would face a Break Test at the start of the next turn.  That was the last we saw of them.

Road Block PBI 06(Road Block PBI: Red Army Paras break cover)

This was below par from the Germans and above par from the Russians, pretty much consistently across three game turns.   It left the second German platoon over-tasked but pluckily trying to work its way around the left of the position.

Road Block PBI 08a

Road Block PBI 09(the German thrust around the left of the position is temporarily disrupted by a prowling Airacobra)

Actually they did quite well and mopped up much of the remaining Russian armour, and, despite the temporary attention of a marauding Russian fighter, had moved up to threaten the wooden buildings around the road junction.

By this stage, and after a few clumsy attempts to get themselves sorted out, the Russian reinforcements were starting to move up.

Road Block PBI 07(after some trouble finding the doors and gates, newly formed rifle units move up – some have SVT rifles)

Road Block PBI 10

Road Block PBI 11

Unfortunately the Russians managed a round of good motivations and APs with their reinforcements and were able to saturate the square next to the buildings and although a number of saves were made, 3 were not.  This prompted the Company commander to call up more support and ended the attempt by the initial two platoons to do the job on their own.

Road Block PBI 12

Game over.   At this stage, the Russians had lost 2 light and 2 medium armoured cars plus 2 of the 3 anti-tanks guns.  The other vehicles had driven off table.    The Germans had lost 2 armoured cars a half track and a Panzer IV in the process.   But they had also had a platoon break and taken significant damage on the other … without clearing the position.

Returning to the narrative, this will end up another victory for the Germans … just not on the first morning.   They will reinforce the  thrust with heavier assets and the Russians will realise this and take advantage of the lull to fall back again.  The Germans will probably be left that third gun.

If you were to score it as a PBI game, the lost hardware on each side actually favours the Germans … but their troop losses and the fact that they have not taken any objectives would swing the score against them.

*****

This may have been Ian’s last PBI in the Shedquarters before he emigrates to Cornwall, so herewith picture file 8, full height – with best wishes …  I have wargamed regularly with Ian for more than 25 years but it will now be much harder to set up and involve some serious travelling …

Road Block PBI 08(finally winning a WWII wargame?    After how long?)

 Road Block PBI 05b

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3 9 Ski Attack game 01B

We cooled off a very warm September evening with some further adventures on the Eastern Front.

The game was a dawn variant of the airborne scenario I have run a couple of times previously

3 9 Ski Attack game 05

(Battlefront Quad AA, PP Russians with a minitanks cannon, converted toy shop plane)

Background: research shows that the Red Army’s main use of parachute troops in airborne operations was as a way of achieving deeper penetration during the Winter months, when other offensives were severely limited by weather.    The insertions were often planned to be met by ground troops and Partisans, and it does seem that the dropping could be haphazard.

Here, as part of a wider operation, the paras attempt to link with a detachment of Ski Troops who are engaging a supply dump in the forest.

3 9 Ski Attack game 01A

The Ski Troops come on at the bottom, the paras dropping within the ringed DZ.

The three objectives they were given are marked with red stars.  

The Germans opted to defend a compact perimeter (ringed in black) and let the Russians come on to them – presumably planning to deny the other objectives by counterattacks.   They had two scary Quad 20 AA guns dug in defending the dump.

The Russians chose to drop at dawn, giving one turn of reduced visibility, hoping this would mean the paras wouldn’t be cut to shreds, ‘Arnhem-style’, as they drifted down (which had been their fate, last time, when the dropped too near the objective).   On turn one, visibility was limited to one square.

TERRAIN FOR THE GAME

I’m still working on terrain ideas …  for this game I tried laying the snow tiles out on a blue cloth (which saves them rocking and sliding) with a river edge cut back so the blue shows.    Then the river is cluttered up with chopped shards of laminated paper to suggest broken ice.   I’ve pinched the idea from something I saw on the Perfect Captain‘s site (I think).   Anyway,  we all thought it worked quite well.

Winter Warfare: Ski Troops approach an icy river ...

Winter Warfare: Ski Troops approach an icy river …

(QRF Aerosans, converted PP Skiers)

I also played about with sculpting a hill that I could drop some 6″ area tiles into (so it would be part terrain piece, part tiling system).   So far so good.  Hills are rarely seen on PBI boards although they are covered in the rules.    You need to shape them and place them so how they block line of sight is intuitive and feels right.

Tile/hill: on the desk and on the table)

Tile/hill: on the desk and on the table)

BACK TO THE GAME

The game started in partial darkness and the TB-3s came in …

archive cap a

3 9 Ski Attack game 02

Dropping parachute infantry in the first wave …

archive cap b

… and a T-60 tank by glider in the second wave …

3 9 Ski Attack game 03

The paras hit the drop zone bang on, and – for the first time, ever – the tank safely crash-landed without any dramas (they appear to be getting the hang of it).

Due to the limited visibility, the paras took no incoming fire during the descent and took few casualties hitting the ground (three of the 4 squares had minor issues – which gives them a ‘pin’ result) but one soldier was fatally injured … which was inconvenient as it was the Platoon Commander.

The attempt to bump up a successor failed (which is annoying), and I overruled a subsequent failure which was excessive (Russian rolls: 1 saving on the drop; 2 on the attempt to replace; 2 on the next attempt to replace).

There were a couple of sections of leaderless infantry in the woods, and the Russian players now attempted to  replace their Platoon Commander – but failed (and again, I overruled a second failure – Russian rolls for this platoon 2; second attempt 1)

3 9 Ski Attack game 06

(German AA gun position comes under mortar attack)

Meanwhile the Ski Troops moved up using their first turn movement advantage to attempt to jump the German perimeter.

Unfortunately, the Aerosans, which could have helped give cover, had whizzed off towards the river, and the Germans proved to be surprisingly alert.   They got off some accurate Opportunity Fire and the Russians failed their saving rolls.  

Unlucky Ivan!

Day had broken, and under normal visibility the Germans were getting worn down, but although his comrades were still sorting out leadership issues, one of the Aerosan commanders decided to try out the enemy defences (and test the ‘armour’ of his sled).

Rather than use the rail embankment as partial cover, he decided to whizz along it, going for the bridge and attempting to shoot up the enemy command post.  That meant going at close range and fully exposed, into the fire of a Quad 20mm AA autocannon (and, contemptuously – bravely or foolishly – he did not even shoot at it in self defence …) …

Aerosan vs multiple autocannon at point blank

Aerosan vs multiple autocannon at point blank

The hamster-bedding probably fails adequately to capture what really happened to the aerosan.

This phase of the battle was stalemated … the Russians were in a mess but had two of the objectives … the Germans were taking losses but still firmly in control of their main position.    Both sides were looking to reinforcements for some extra impetus.

To be continued …

********

Replacing Commanders … we will change this to a ‘dice again’ alternative if you fail (so the platoon will upgrade, but the new leader might not be where the player would like).    I also think I will use the same process for saves on the parachute landing so the PC is never lost – I am convinced by the various arguments that airborne troops were expressly trained to cope with this, given the variables of their particular mode of warfare.

Darkness: the simplistic dawn mechanism gave one square of visiblity … this was a great help to the paras, but the ground troops quickly discovered that it meant holding back for a turn or coming into the (PBI) Op Fire zone in order to see sufficiently to be able to lay down their own fire.   In the game they were unlucky with the dice that followed.   I’m not sure I am unhappy with this but will give it some thought.

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