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Archive for the ‘WW2’ Category

So the big El Alamein game came and went over the Summer …

FFDD 000

It was indeed big, although, in the end, I’m not convinced the squares made as much of a contribution to managing the sprawling engagement as I had hoped they would.

An upside of the venture was that I got to fit out my Vichy French as Free French (or Fighting French, if you prefer) … the stalwarts who joined Montgomery’s army in the desert … heroes of Bir Hakeim and El Alamein.

FFDD 00(some new kit to give a Libyan configuration to my Moroccan French)

The French forces retained some of their original weapons though had much Anglo-American gear too.  They had little bespoke armour, using British tanks and theatre converted vehicles.  Yay … real world conversions – a lot down to the inventive mind of Adrien Conus …

FFDD 10(hard fighting at Alamein: FFL go in, supported by a Tanake unit, carrier conversion and Conus gun)

The Crusader tank is a lovely QRF model … the rest I had to build.  The Tanake had to built from the chassis up.  The carrier and Marmon-Herrington are what I have previously termed ‘pointless conversions’ (you can get them – or the basic vehicle anyway – just I had something nearly suitable so went about it the hard way!)

Tanake

FFDD 01

This is an armoured car built on a Dodge truck … so my work began with making some cosmetic changes to a QRF (nearly right) Chevrolet … (basically the bonnet/hood) and then painting the inside before assembly …

FFDD 03

The back end is all thin card … (recycling the backing card of the superglue with which it was assembled) … meanwhile fabricate an armoured shield with light gun and MG on a pintle, ready to drop in (this just makes painting and assembly easier) …

FFDD 04(we should end up with something that looks like this)

I’ve then made up wheel arches,  finished and sanded in the surfaces and detailing with Miliiput and made ready to paint.

FFDD 05

I was very pleased … it’s a great vehicle to have to do … (it’s like Indiana Jones meets Lawrence of Arabia – or is that just me?) … and it turned out easier than expected …

FFDD 06(Yesthatphil’s 15mm Dodge Tanake built on the QRF Chevrolet truck)

OK I got the height of the unusual back end wrong: I’ll have to find an example (they were all hand built so do differ) that matches or, at some point, I will need to go back and alter it – but indulge me for now: it was made to a deadline.

FFDD 07(top view and speedy insert)

As with the other vehicles, insignia was added in the less hurried hours after the game.

FFDD 10a

Hotchkiss Carrier and Marmon-Herrington

The ‘pointless’ conversions:  once upon a time I had bought too many Skytrex Humber light armoured cars, and have been grateful for chances to use them.  It’s completely unsuitable for a Marmon-Herrington but with the size and shape changed and bigger wheels … well it’s almost convincing …

FFDD 11(so … reshape, add big wheels, restyle the front, add those tell-tale ribs on the bonnet …) 

Of course the real ‘conversion’ here is adding a French crew, Breda gun mount (rather than a turret) and coal scuttle gun shield.

FFDD 12(again the basics are card, the finishing details are Milliput epoxy … and paint …)

FFDD 12a(Yesthatphil’s French Marmon-Herrington/Breda)

The Hotchkiss Carrier

In this case the unnecessary work was the result of Chris giving me a PSC Loyd Carrier which I didn’t have a particular use for (so it sat on the bench unassembled for a while) … the the French requirements came up and (actually looking for a portee), I found pictures of the carrier SP … Great, I said … I could use that carrier.

Chris agreed, and pointed out that it would almost right (‘good enough’) as there was little difference between the carriers other than the Loyd’s having more wheels.  Well, that’s not good enough then … is it …

FFDD 13

… so in addition to the ‘main job’ of creating a suitable fighting compartment and adding the big (well, relatively speaking, big) gun and shield … I had to shorten the whole thing …  You’d never know, though … right?

FFDD 14(… and just add paint)

Again, I think it turned out fine.  From the contemporary photos it looks like the gun isn’t long enough … I think they mostly used a ‘long’ version.

FFDD 15(French Universal Carrier with Hotchkiss 25mm AT … 15mm conversion from PSC parts)

Both of these pointless exercises have added a lot of value for me … there was going to be work involved in assembling these unusual vehicles anyway … but doing it the hard way has cleared a number of odds and ends from my desk (things have found a home) and the models have already seen action in the big game.

Nevertheless, the Tanake has to be my favourite.  A true ship of the desert.

FFDD 00a

Postscript … I’ve titled this part ‘1’ … the keen-eyed will have spotted the Conus gun in the Alamein pictures.  It was very much a quick stand in … and I need to go back and do the job properly.  And I mentioned portees.  So there will be a part 2.

And there were some soldiers too.

Plus I think the French vs Italian engagement on the Southern flank will make a good PBI game – and that will be a good reason to complete those last details.  It all comes together sometimes.

In due course I will transfer the Tanake build to the modelling section.

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Engineers come in all shapes and sizes, militarily.   We often use the term for assault troops armed with specialist weapons such as flame throwers or who are equipped to break through hardened defences or clear mines … or built positions and/or lay mines.

Engineers build bridges, fix things (and break things) manage decontaminations and of course deal with wire … emplacing or removing …

Not all of these are strictly engineering … but are all part of a range of technical support services that expand or enhance what the basic soldiers can do.

For operational games it is useful to have markers or distinctive figure groups that show which troops can employ these extra technical skills and perhaps have access to special equipment.

My ‘go to’ figure for engineer capabilities in 15mm is a stormtrooper carrying wire from Peter Pig’s WWI German range.  With a suitable head swap.

Sov Eng 03

(Red Army engineers on a stick for painting … and finished: the men with wire are bottom left and 4th from the right)

The other figures are adapted to be carrying tools … axes, spades etc.

These figures are mostly to make up 4-figure ‘work parties’ …

Additionally, I want some motorised engineer battalions to add into mechanised divisions and I decided to represent these the same as I have represented similar German formations … in a truck with an extra base available if necessary to represent them deployed as fighting troops.

Sov Eng 02(work parties and trucks)

I decided to make the engineer’s trucks distinguishable from other generic trucks by adding the frequently seen A-frame hoist on the back of the vehicles …

Sov Eng 04(hoists made from alloy tubing and brass wire being added to Peter Pig resin Gaz AAA trucks)

This simple bit of modelling was finished by using modelling putty to indicate the brackets and rollers etc.

Sov Eng 05(finishing details and adding figures)

Sov Eng 06(trucks, work parties and combat-deployed bases textured in and ready for the vehicles etc. to be painted)

Prominent amongst the figures are some of Peter Pig‘s new Assault Troops in body armour – a very welcome addition.

LMGs in body armourflame thrower team in body armour(Soviet Assault Troops in body armour)

20180810_111915_resized(Peter Pig Assault Troops in body armour)

I think they look the part.

Anyway, here are some photos of the finished figures and trucks

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The final batch of work parties:

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The guys at the front are a work party for a trains unit (hence carrying a section of rail) and the chaps with blue trousers are to go in the cavalry division.

I either made the added tools or raided them from a pack Donnington do as part of a Medieval camp.  Whether you can get the pack of tools separately I don’t know (maybe try having a nice word with Damien).

 

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Refuelling …

Just thought I’d share this picture I just stumbled on … you don’t always see this (and when you do, as often as not it is from drums) …

Capture(Red Army T26s refuelling from a tanker)

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NQM Squared (1)

I put (1) after the title as I’m sure there is going to be more to come (however this post ‘is it’ for now) ..

This was a trial game set up by NQM Chris to see how squares (similarly to my ideas in Megablitz Squared) would help simplify the movement and real estate issues of large operational games.

My project was a mix of Megablitz and NQM methodology applied to gridded battle space.  Necessarily Chris’s experiment was significantly closer to NQM.

(over the battleground: a Soviet ground attack mission is driven off by German fighters)

Scales apart (because scales can always be adjusted) the key difference between the two related operational games is in orders/status and combat.  NQM uses die rolls that are varied in value by the weight of attack and defence values.  Megablitz uses strength points (which give you the number of dice in combat and hits that can be taken) varied in effect by the order status of the units.  I like both approaches.

(NQM Squared: a Soviet assault bridge aids a river crossing)

You can have a look at the ideas Chris was resolving here: Novgorod: NQM Squared

How the squares actually work is clearly a key aspect of the approach … how do you treat diagonals?  How do you handle ‘corner to corner’ contacts.  Using orthogonal squares, how do you do ‘2 up/1 back’ deployments (and, then, who supports whom?) …

(NQM Squared: 3 Red Army battalions plus some Brigade HQ assets advance through an area)

Then again, these are questions that come up without squares – just squares make you answer them and give some structured definition.

Squares can make it imperative and advantageous to occupy ground and (for defenders) to hold a coherent line in a way that is sometimes lost in a more free roaming game system.

Whenever we use squares, of course, players will always ask about hexes, and their elegant relation, off-set squares.

This can be a thorny issue for some periods – but I think orthogonal squares are the obvious solution for a period where officers used gridded maps.  They thought, planned, and moved in a squared world so no harm will result if we model it that way.  The same cannot be said for hexes.

(NQM Squared: German Parachute units dug in)

A thought provoking session which I hope will bear fruit.

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Zis 10 01

This is another level back from the front and a little exercise to add some extra shunting capacity to my Russians.  The Zis-10 articulated truck …

Zis 10 02

I’ve made it from the Zvezda Zis-5 … it isn’t complex enough a ‘conversion’ to add to the modelling page – but I thought it make a nice little post for the front page.  Something different, it is another variation we can add to the list of things you can do with the excellent little truck models.

Zis 10 03(The Zis-10 articulated truck)

Here are a couple of tractors I made previously (for shifting boats) …

Zis 10 04

Zis 10 05(Bronekater being shifted by road – yes, this is how they did it)

Of course the gun crew is still on the deck as this model is generally deployed on a river.  You’ll have to use your imagination.

Here’s a quick assemby of a new Zis-10

Zis 10 06

I used the Katyusha kit because of the extra axles.   I could have have scratch-built the cargo bed but happened to have a spare one from a cheap die-cast toy that looked just about right.

Zis 10 07(P.B.Eye-Candy – a 1:100 Zis-10 model based on the Zvezda ‘Art of Tactic’ kit)

I’ll base it up properly when it gets issued to a unit – but here it is with some green paint on it.

Zis 10 08

I’m quite pleased with it.

The Red Army has a bigger truck.

 

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As we entered the main phase of the operation, Chris gave me a fairly open approach to reinforcements – so, concerned by the scale of the task, I called up more artillery, the Red God of War … indeed, I employed all the heavy artillery the front could muster.

(B3 Howitzers on the road up to Leningrad)

(Ski troops, supported by air, move around the frozen Northern flank)

The old front line gradually became a vast artillery park, ready to reduce the city.

(Gotterdammerung: the Red Army’s guns prepare to reduce Leningrad)

(a TB3 provides air support in the frozen North)

The Russians enjoyed almost complete air superiority for this campaign and it’s elderly supply fleet, reconaissance planes, as well as ground attack wings could operate virtually unchallenged.

Had the Germans put much into the air, they would have found daunting concentrations of ground AA …

(rail artillery defended by a light AA battery and searchlights)

Given these conditions it is perhaps unsurprising that the dive bombers were (finally) able to deliver a shattering attack on the Southern flank which had – until then – managed to hold up the advance on Oranienbaum.

(Heavy v Light dice for the dive bombers … n uncharacteristically hammer blow rich in sixes)

From the North East, the Ski troops were able to enter undefended areas evacuated under the heavy artillery bombardments …

… although stiffer resistance was maintained in the leafy Eastern suburbs and broken bridges slowed progress on the main line of advance.

(Leningrad NQM: Peter Pig Soviet Scouts making hard work of the garden suburbs)

Here’s a look at the situation as the Red Army retakes the city …

Despite stubborn success in some sectors, the German commander had recognised that the city had become untennable and began a pull out before getting cut off.  As the Germans raced for the roads, Russians flooded through the city and swept around the Southern flank …

(Motorised troops snake through Leningrad)

(Heavy resistance to the attempt to cut the road)

This was a race against time determined by local firefights.

(Trapped!  Or not?  … the fight for the line of retreat)

Tactically dominant, at the sharp end, the cavalry again proved unable to press their advantage (game note: bad dice, really ...) … and, beaten off by desperate firing, allowed too much to get away towards Oranienbaum and Kronstadt.

A doomed pocket had been left in the docks, and no more Germans were able to escape from Leningrad.

Final situation …

It was time to dismantle the game and put away the toys.

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This is the first part on a big WWII Operational Game being fought out over a number of evenings mostly between myself and NQM’s Chris … I’ve titled it the retaking of Leningrad because that is what we must do.

It’s a long way to the Front but these wastes will fill with men and materiel as the operation evolves.

There is a lot of kit being directed at this task.

(First contact …)

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