Got some pre-loved units!

October 8, 2014

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Pz IV’s, 234/4’s, SP 37mm AA’s, SP 20mm quad AA, FlaK 88mm, SdKfz 8’s…

Mixture of scales, but – well, I guess it had to happen…

Owner was moving overseas. What those of us who were told didn’t buy went to his relatives, in order to try to pass the Wargaming gene on…

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I got there later than I normally would, 9.30am. Already 80 people in front of me:   . I joined the queue, but after five minutes spotted fellow NWA’er, raconteur and all-round good bloke Sean 6 people behind me, so I gave up my spot to drop back a few spots and hang out with him, passing the time shooting the breeze. Here’s the queue ahead of us:  . Now, in previous years I think there would have been more people ahead of us at that time of the morning, but this morning was very chilly…just 5 degrees C, and it  was only 7 degrees by the time I got home at midday. (The warmest it got today was 10 degrees, at 4pm…the sun only broke through the heavy fog at 1.30pm…)

The doors were opened spot on time and the queue moved well, no jumpers from where we were. I said hello to Neil, Jon and Michael as we moved around inside, also from NWA.

Inside was arranged as per normal except there was only one side of tables in the middle of the room, instead of two. This meant that there was actually more elbow room and it didn’t feel so claustrophobic. I must remember to take my glasses next time, as the lighting wasn’t good for me and I was squinting a lot trying to spot desired kits.

This time, there was plenty of 1/72 – but much of it I already had. I did come home with lots of loot, though – here’s a photo of the treasure:  . The first three columns of kits were all from the one vendor. 12 kits for $160.

The Nashorn was only $7 – an absolute steal for an unopened kit, so I bought it even though I currently don’t need it. I was stoked to find another Academy set of US vehicles. As I said before, the Russians loved those amphibious jeeps – see this link.

The little Renault FT17s with 37mm guns are fast-build kits, 2 in the box. They are the beginnings of my Romanian forces!

What was really good about today was to get the 8 Panthers. I need one more of each of those kits to make full-sterngth platoons of each. Then, when complete, they join my already completed full-strength platoon and company HQ vehicles, to make an entire company of Panthers. Grrrrrrraarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

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PS: For Ben and Stephen, here are the promised ‘drool’ photos in their original 2304×1728 format:

           …and that’s a snapshot (pardon the pun) of what was there…there was lots more…

 

Here are photos of the assembled and painted crew for the first of the two Caesar miniatures sIG 33 infantry howitzers I bought – this post is so you can see the poses I chose to assemble my crews into:

– this gunner is actually lifting the handle on the back of the gun, to help move it into position. – I’m not sure if this gunner is turning a crank wheel to elevate the gun, or doing something else…I’m going to have him touching the gun or a crank wheel, so that he is useful. – I’ve assembled him so that he looks like he’s aiming the gun.  – a loader, about to be given a shell.  – a commander. I deliberately gave him the head with the only open mouth. His pose is copied directly from the box art.  – the other loader. He’s on quite an angle and I’m not sure you are actually meant to assemble him actually holding a shell…as you can see, I chose to have him holding one.

Here’s the gun that these six are crewing: .

With the second crew of six – oh, I should clarify something here. You get eight crew with the gun in the box. The Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist rules class this as a C-size gun, and C-size guns require 6 crew on accompanying the gun on its base. So, I don’t need all 8 from the box.

So, with the second crew of six, I did not have a commander. Here’s the second crew, and I photographed them on different angles to the first six so you can see a bit more of how I chose to assemble them and what the poses I chose look like: – I think this one’s turning a crank wheel to elevate the gun. Why is he resting his left arm on his left leg? – aiming. But why he has his left hand up like that, I’m not sure. If he’s fine-aiming by twiddling a snall knob, his fingers shouldn’t look like that.

– you didn’t see this bloke in the first crew. I’ve glued his arms in a higher position here, so he could be doing something to the gun itself, or helping with shells, or something else useful. – lifting and repositioning the gun, except I’ve glued his arms at a higher angle. Makes his pose more generic, different to the first crew, and able to be doing something else, like touching the gun, in a pinch. – loader, same as the first crew. – loader with shell, same as the first crew. You can see how far he’s leaning over in this photo. I’m not sure why he’s leaning so much, but it does make him look a bit different to so many loaders holding shells from other manufacturers. Lastly, here’s the second gun: .

So, there you go! The options for assembly of the gun crew figures are many.

I’ve kept the surplus two figures from each kit because I am, at some stage in the future, going to need to base some size-D guns, and they require 8 crew figures per gun base. Here are the four surplus figures from the two boxes: – not sure what he’s doing, but he does look animated, which is better than standing straight and being boring. – I realised one of my kits was missing a left arm after I’d opened them. This bloke’s left arm comes from one of Hasegawa’s kits. This gunner is either about to be handed a shell, or is about to remove an empty cartridge. – another commander. I made his right arm vertical. I photographed him from behind so that you could see his binoculars. Yes, this Caesar kit gives you binoculars and matching binocular cases (you can see it on his right hip)!  – horizontal arms. Looks bit like a zombie, but he’s going to be crewing a bigger gun, so his arms should be in an OK position.

What guns will these blokes be crewing? Oh, just some of these: .

Now I’ve done all the searches I can. Exhausted all combinations. There are only three useful titles left worth looking at for wargaming the Eastern Front and they are:

THE HUN ON THE RUN video newsreel film  Film ID: 1350.11.  A German 2cm flak machinegun in rapid-firing action against Soviet planes, as well as 88mm guns firing against the same; Stukas in ground-attack roles.

UNTERNEHMEN KRETA ( GERMAN INVASION OF CRETE ) video newsreel film  Film ID: 2753.01.  Good shots of Paratroops getting ready for the drop and then in combat on Crete. (Okay, so this isn’t really Eastern Front. But it was the only vid I could recall finding that involved the Fallschirmjäger).

GERMANY INVADED video newsreel film Film ID: 1125.10.   Some US AFVs and softskins advancing into Germany. Good shots of German towns, railway stations and various buildings – very useful so that you can select the right terrain and lay out gaming boards appropriately. Or even better, purchase or build and then paint up the right terrain!

So, that’s it from British Pathe for now. If they digitise more content like those I’ve pointed you to in the future, then that will be great. What I might do is check in every year or so to see if they have added new content to the collection.

They do have films showing the liberations of concentration camps and death camps, all of it extremely graphic stuff. I am glad that this is available for the public to see. May no-one say it didn’t happen.

The setting for the second Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist game of 2010 was reasonable enough – somewhere in the Leningrad oblast during Spring 1942. The Germans had to cross a small stream and capture a major village, the Russians defend it.

As Peter and I had agreed via email prior to the game, this was to be an infantry clash. The force I chose weighed in at about 2300 PV, Peter’s force coming in at around 1500 PV.

My force was comprised of two companies; an infantry company and an infantry gun company. The infantry gun company allowed me to use the IG-18s that I worked on earlier this year on the table (onboard) while keeping a battery of 150mm FlaK 18/36s  offboard. It was a learning experience to select and account for it, as I realised in previous games I had purchased Forward Artillery Observers (FAOs) but no Battery Fire Control unit to actually follow their orders and make sure the shells were fired! This oversight was rectified and I learned something at the same time…as well as realising I have a lot of extra little modelling things to work on in the months to come, like bases to represent the Battery Fire Control staff, some more FAOs and the like.

I elected to give the gun company FAOs some wheels, so the three of them ended up in my two kubelwagens and solitary schwimmwagen. This has given me some impetus to paint up the remaining BMW R35 motorcycles and their accompanying figures from Italeri so that I can have FAOs on motorbikes, which is the cheapest motorised option for them. Anyway, hopefully the FAOs riding in cars would let them go forward and into good positions quickly so that my artillery could rain death and ensure success for my brave footsloggers.

The infantry company was the standard maximised option I’ve used before, except this time I elected to buy two FAOs on horseback to assist the 120mm mortars that I took as Support from the Battalion. The 120mm mortars were towed on the back of Opel Blitz 4X4 trucks – they had to be, they couldn’t be moved forward by hand like the IG-18s! The infantry company 81mm mortars could fire smoke shells as could my whole infantry gun company. My plan of attack was thus to use smoke where possible to blind the Russians and allow my infantry to get as far forward as possible before they might take serious losses. A rolling barrage of smoke shells with infantry advancing behind would be a textbook and perfectly historically accurate plan of attack.

All this looked great on paper. We set the board up and it looked great – see these three photos:

As Peter needed a little more time to decide how to deploy his forces, I opted to roll for the Weather.

I rolled a 3. This meant that the ground was muddy and the sky was overcast. Not great, but not terrible. I then rolled for Wind. Gale force winds heading South.

That was the end of my textbook attack. No smoke during gale force winds! Also, the mud was going to slow my kubelwagens and schwimmwagen down to the same speed as my infantry, so their benefit was nullified. They may as well have been on foot! Even my FAOs on horseback would move quicker.

Thus,the die was cast (pardon the pun). Here’s the ‘history book’ setting: after the heavy gale the previous day, a German force in the Leningrad oblast had to try to continue a somewhat stalled advance and take an important village. While the rain had stopped, the ground was still very muddy and gale-force winds continued to scour the battlefield.

Turn One – As the Germans entered from their own board edge, they immediately came under fire from 76mm artillery and from more devastating 122mm artillery. You can see this in this photo –  – that blue die of Peter’s is functioning as the centre for the 76mm artillery barrage; the radius projecting from it already chews into my ranks.

1st Platoon lost a section and it’s Platoon HQ, but I roll 10 for Morale and the rest of the infantry company are fine. All my troops do is advance. My 150mm artillery perform map fire but to no effect. As it is only firing for one round, I then have to wait three turns for it to fire on a new map reference.

Turn Two – I continue to advance. This time, the Soviet artillery causes no harm to my troops, some of whom have side-stepped out of the Beaten Zone Radius or simply kept low as they went forward  .

Turn Three –The Russians now try to call down artillery fire, shifting its position, but to no success.

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Turn Four – The Ivans successfully call down fire but only kill one German team. The Germans continue to advance, many now approaching copses which would provide some shelter  .

Turn Five – Everything happens at once!

Those in the front of the advancing German infantry forces sight onboard Russian artillery and infantry . His infantry includes some sections of PM M1910 (Пулемёт Максима на станке Соколова, Pulemyot Maxima na stanke Sokolova or “Maxim’s machine gun model 1910 on Sokolov’s mount”) which are classed as Medium Machine Guns (MMGs) in Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist. Lead sang and the Germans lost 6 teams to them, but the Germans gallantry replied with their own MG-34s (LMGs in Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist unless tripod-mounted) and manage to silence two guns . The Soviet onboard artillery tried to wipe out my 120mm mortar teams who were still setting up, but fail.

On the left, my IG-18s are still out of the battle so far but have not suffered any inbound fire . My 150mm map fire artillery have their order cancelled (otherwise I was going to hit my own troops) so they begin setting up to fire on map reference number 3.

Turn 6 – It was obvious I wasn’t going to reach either objective in time. This turned out to be both Peter & I’s fault – more about this in a moment.

Three of my four 120mm mortars are silenced by 122mm artillery. More Soviet infantry are revealed . There was small arms fire between the two infantry forces  and that resulted in the last surviving team from my 1st Platoon dying. I make a Morale test for the rest of the Company…and get a 3. Retreat.

This was pretty disappointing as the two previous Morale Tests I made were 12’s (the maximum) and I’d started off Morale Tests so well with that solid 10. Still, it was 11pm and it was logical to end the game – my IG-18s weren’t going to win the game for me, not against all that Soviet might.

What did I do wrongly?

Firstly, I purchased Smoke Grenades for each and every infantry team/base I fielded, adding some 206.25 PV to my force. Upon discovery of this (ie. when I told him that the Gale had ruined my ‘advance behind smoke’ plan), Peter pointed me to p. 13 of the rules, where it states that only assault engineers/pioneers may use smoke grenades. This was some PV that I had thought of using to instead buy some AA vehicles to add to the game…I was keen to use 20mm cannons to chew up his infantry. So, in a way I partially handicapped myself with this as I later realized didn’t really have a big enough force for the night. (I have just read that I should have 2-3 times what Peter fielded…I should have had 3000 to 4500 PV. What an addition to this PV handicap! I should have bought more offboard artillery and put troops in trucks or halftracks as well as field all 3 AA vehicles I have).

Secondly, I didn’t have a backup plan. I didn’t think I wouldn’t be able to have my smokescreen.

Thirdly, I once again deployed right into his artillery fire. However, you can never predict this, can you?

Fourthly, both Peter and I had neglected to check that the Objectives I set were reasonable. For an Attack/Defense scenario, objectives should be anywhere in the middle 40% of the board – I went and set them in the last 20% of the board. There was no way I could reach that in 10-12 turns on foot, even if not a single solitary Russian tried to stop me. A second handicap.

With all this in mind, I’m not so worried about this loss. It was effectively an impossible scenario.

Still, not having a backup plan was foolish.

On a different note, all that new scenery was displayed and garnered praise from viewers.

Here is a new thicket with an old thicket:  .

Here’s a new thicket with the river sections:  .

Here are the final two new thickets:  .

Hopefully the next game will be as soon as August, and will be an action from Kursk.

While doing various searches for information to recreate scenarios for games of Panzerfaust: Armoured Fist, I’ve been extremely fortunate to stumble across British Pathe’s film archives.

Four films of footage recorded by German cameramen during Operation Barbarossa have lots of great material for both wargamers and modellers. Here they are, with my notes:

GERMAN INVASION OF RUSSIA Film ID: 1669.02 –  Great footage of towns, bridges, rivers as the Germans fight forward or advance forward. Plenty of town shots, both of outskirts and inside them too. The Horch heavy car! Panzer IIIs and a Panzer IV short-barrel.

GERMAN INVASION OF RUSSIA Film ID: 1669.03 – towards the end you can see PaK 36’s, IG-18’s and Flak 88’s all being used against ground targets.

GERMAN INVASION OF RUSSIA Film ID: 1669.04 – StuG IIICs or some other early models in action! Converted AA flak trucks engaging ground targets! Infantry flamethrowers! German psychological warfare infantry team with portable AV equipment calling for Russians to surrender from the buildings they are defending!

GERMAN INVASION OF RUSSIA Film ID:  3259.07 – Camouflaged 88mms in action; 50mm infantry mortars in action; field artillery (not sure of what they are) ,  SdKfz 11 towing Leichte Feldhaubitze Mundungbremse 18 artillery piece (105mm artillery piece).

Some have sound, some don’t.

In the words of Fred Moriarity from “The Goon Show”, “There’s more where that came from!”

So this post is the first of a series.