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.

Still 4 weeks of Spring left, but today is the second day of over 30 degrees…in fact, looking at the MelbinYewni real time temperature graph, today got to just over 34! This means it’s time to think about doing lots of wargames terrain / wargames scenery, as there will be the heat to cure and dry everything thoroughly and promptly.

I’ve made a start: the three telegraph posts from an old ESCI Diorama Accessories set have been assembled, based and given some lumpy earth around their bases…ready now for painting.

I finished off a platoon of PaK 36 anti-tank guns with crews, plus that ICM Krupp truck, so that they wouldn’t bother me and so that “Operation Barbarossa” next year will be a reality. The PaK 36s are from Fujimi, the crews are the one worthwhile figure from the Fujimi set the gun comes in, a chap from the  Revell  Fallschirmjägers and one of the two ESCI / Italeri Sd. Kfz. 251/1 crew. Photos: PaK 36 teams & truck PaK 36 gun & truck .

Some more comments about the ICM Krupp L2H143 Kfz 70 kit…it turns out pretty well and looks great painted. I opted to have the MG 34 on a pintle mount in the rear tray option, to fit in with the Kubelwagen Type 82 which also had pintle-mounted MG34. I don’t like the decals that ICM provided for this kit, though. There is too much excess clear decal surrounding the rear number plate, and even drybrushing with Kommando Khaki as a coat of dust didn’t help…in fact it made it worse and drew attention to the excess. There was also far too much excess on the front number plate – which is meant to wrap around a front bumper bar which is probably only a milimetre wide. Stupid! It wrapped but wouldn’t glue. I know some modellers add a special glue under any decal they apply, but I don’t have that glue and don’t think it should be necessary. The front number plate decal’s glue didn’t hold and so the whole thing popped off during drybrushing. A shame. Sorry ICM, sorry Roden, but I’m not having much luck with your decals.

Now, Fujimi’s product is meant to be 1/76 scale, but it isn’t. Let me clarify…the house probably is, but the figures and PaK gun supplied with it are definitely 1/72 scale or even larger…possibly even 1/70 scale! Anyway, only one figure from that product is worth using with the anti-tank gun because the others are even worsely sculpted and moulded than the figures Hasegawa provide with their WWII AFVs. Hence why each PaK 36 base I’ve done has figures from other manufacturers to make up the two-man crews that Panzerfaust: Armored Fist requires.

Lastly – a couple of Battlefield Accessories wall sections (enough to make two simple houses) have been assembled and are being painted, along with a Faller German, Austrian or Swiss log cabin that I bought at a model railroad shop.

Oh, and there’s a Wespe and that other Kubelwagen still in Tankoberg…but I’m feeling the time is nigh to make a caulk creek / stream following the laws laid down by Nikolas Lloyd.

 

 

Tankograd had four more come off the production line. Here they are:

251 234 263 and Kubel

From left to right: a Hasegawa Sd. Kfz. 251/22, a Hasegawa Sd. Kfz. 234/3, a Hasegawa Kubelwagen and lastly a Roden Sd. Kfz. 263. The Kubelwagen comes from the Hasegawa ‘Kubelwagen & BMW Side-car’ kit (MT-12) – the rest are stand-alone kits.

The 251/22 was a great kit to complete. The only trouble I had was with assembling the mount for the PaK 40 anti-tank gun. I included a loader holding a PaK 40 shell – he comes from the Italeri “PaK 40 AT gun with servants” kit. The PaK 40 shell is tipped in black – designating it as an AP shell.

The 234/3 was straightforward and lots of fun. Nearly all my comments about the Hasegawa 234/2 apply to it. I included a loader for it too, another figure from the Italeri “PaK 40 AT gun with servants” kit. That particular figure is sitting down andjusting the gun elevation, so he is molded with an elevation wheel in his left hand. I cut it out and glued a PaK 38 shell there in its place – the shell being surplus from the Roden PaK 38 kits I did some time ago. That shell was tipped with white, designating it as HE.

The Kubelwagen was problematic. I painted up the driver seperate to the rest of the vehicle – and then couldn’t fit him into place once he was finished. The steering wheel had to be removed; the machine gun mount and machine gun mount supports had to be re-done (and new supports kitbashed from leftover parts from old sprues). I learned my lesson – glue any drivers into place first and then paint, which is what I’m doing with the ICM Krupp truck.

The Roden 263 wasn’t too hard. I think their decals didn’t work so well for this kit. The large aerial overhead frame was fiddly but turned out OK. There was also a bit of flash on the sprues that needed some careful scalpel-work.

The Kubelwagen and the 263 got standard Dark Grey with heavy dust coats, for the start of “Barbarossa”:  263 and Kubel front 263 & Kubel rear

The 251/22 got my first attempt at a ‘ambush’ paint scheme. I gave it the same paint scheme as per the notes in my Jagdpanzer 38 “Hetzer” book by MBI. Sure, it’s a little bit stylised, but I love it! The 234/3 got a simple disruptive pattern in Citadel’s Goblin Green. I went and added some foliage – Woodland Scenics’ lichen. 251 234 front 251 234 rear

So, just gotta get them bikers done and the Recon game can happen…

Working on the Hasegawa Kubelwagen required some research that went beyond my own personal library. Part of it had to do with the old chestnut of tarpaulins / canvases used by the Germans during the Second World War…in particular, what colours they were. I was also interested in some interior decoration – I wanted to see what the dashboard looked like and a few other small details.

I started off with Google, using the ‘image search’ option. The results quickly pointed to a better way of searching – using Flickr.

I’ve mentioned Flickr a few times on this blog. I’d forgotten its usefulness for a search like this. You see, Flickr has photos taken by enthusiasts whom take photos of exhibits at military museums; photos taken by participants at re-enactment events; photos taken by spectators at re-enactment events and so on and so forth. Some exhibit photos or re-enactor vehicle photos would do the job nicely – because they take the kinds of photos modellers want and need! Multiple angles, close-up on details, interiors.

It was as simple as typing ‘kubelwagen type 82’ and I was presented with a page of very useful results. I found what I needed pretty quickly!

The Kubelwagen has been a little less straightforward than the schwimmwagen as I’d chosen to assemble and paint the kubelwagen driver first before glueing  him and his seat into place. This was a good idea that turned out badly. I had not done a test fit prior to painting – his feet were too big and his left shoulder was hitting the door and preventing the seat from locking into place. These were things I had to remedy after the fact, requiring filing done, re-painting and re-glueing and also damaging the MG pintle (which ended up having to be completely redone with some added kitbashing too).  It looks fine now, but wasn’t worth the bother. I’ve undercoated another Kubelwagen and will be doing it with occupants in situ.

So far, ICM 1:72 kit #72411 has been very straightforward to assemble. Part fit has been very good. There’s been a little bit of flash on the mudguards but otherwise it’s needed nothing but glue and cleaning up where I’ve cut each piece from it’s sprue. Assembly instructions are pretty clear – there’s one stage where one action is meant to be done three more times…but you get the drift from the pictures.

Also rolling along the Tankoberg assembly lines have been a Hasegawa Kubelwagen and BMW motorbike w/ sidecar – kit #31112 which I picked up last weekend at an IPMS Swap & Sell.

I’ve been experimenting with something else, too. After researching and consulting a number of sources online and in person, I decided to go ahead and try to make star/umbrella aerials for my Pumas, as I am well aware that they were used on these vehicles. Consulting photos in books and from the Bundesarchiv (the picture archives of the Federal Archives of Germany) left me a little unsure of how many prongs such an aerial should have…some vehicles had 6 prongs, some had 5. I decided to go with 5 for my Pumas after seeing a 251 with a 5-prong aerial and two different Sd. Kfz 263s with 5-prong aerials.

They aren’t so hard to make. Here are the steps I took:

One: Collect these materials – brass wire of two different thicknesses; some superglue or, in my case, Flash Cyanoacrylate (dangerous stuff but powerful); needlenose piers; wire cutters and lastly clamps or a modeller’s mate like this one to hold things for you.Aerials 1.

Two: shape the thinner brass wire into a triangular shape. Aerials 2. Also cut yourself a reasonable length of the thicker brass wire – in my case, about 5 – 6 inches.

Three: bend the two ends so that they run parallel and can touch each other flatly. Lock the thick brass wire into one clamp of the modeller’s mate and lock the thin brass triangular bit into the other clamp – bring the flat ends of the triangular wire so that they touch flatly along the thick wire and superglue them into place: Aerials 3. Let everything dry.

Four: repeat Two and Three with another triangle, except it needs to be at an angle of about 75 degrees to the first triangle. You’ll need to cut off one side of the glued-on triangle to permit this. When all is dry, cut off the side of the second triangle – now you should have 4 prongs radiating off from the thick brass wire.

Five: make the last prong and glue it on to make 5 prongs – hopefully the two triangles you glued on and cut away result in 5 fairly evenly-spaced prongs. Aerials 4

Six: when everything’s dry, take out of the clamp and use a scalpel to cut away any excess lumps of glue.

Seven: use the wire cutters to cut the prongs to a suitable anduniform length: Aerials 5.

Eight: stickytape the aerial to something and undercoat it: Aerials 6

Nine: glue into place on the vehicle and paint when the glue’s dry. Aerials 7 It’s that easy!