Final Sd.Kfz. 251/9

May 14, 2012

On saturday, I completed a Hasegawa Sd. Kfz. 251/9 that I was doing on the side:     . I know have two sections of two vehicles each, or one platoon of four vehicles. I actually only need two (a section of two vehicles) but at the time I did the first two I had a third, and did it up at the same time. I got this fourth back in January via a private sale and the price was fantastic, hence why I bought it.

(Plus, a platoon of fire support that can also transport some footsloggers…worth trying even if I sell the second section off later).

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Weather was pretty horrible for the rest of saturday and all yesterday, so I wasn’t able to Dullcote and photo some buildings I’m working on…

 

 

Two fridays back Peter and I had our second game for the year. Last year so many events worked against us playing – we only had three games for the year…and so far it’s been a game a month (effectively). Yay!

Since we had an armoured slugfest last time, we decided to revisit the infantry-vs-infantry style of game that we had enjoyed last year.  In fact, it even ended up being infantry and artillery only – no armour or SPGs at all (although if fellow club members could’ve loaned me six Wespes, I woulda gone for some mobile artillery too). I had a few vehicles – some Opel Blitzes and two 251/1Cs, but none were meant to be used in the attack. It was just going to be my Infantry company with some Offboard Artillery against whatever Peter had points for.

Let me detail the agreements made pre-game. This was to be a Quality German Attack – so whatever Point Value (PV) total I had, Peter would have half that for his forces. We agreed on No Vehicles (meaning no tanks or SPGs that were also tank destroyers). We agreed on each having Offboard Artillery. I ended up with approximately 2200 PV, so Peter had to take half that. In Panzerfaust: Iron Fist, German forces are expensive because most troops have good experience and Morale by default. Peter may have had only 1100 points to build his army with, but I knew he would end up with at least an Infantry Company plus some Offboard Artillery because Soviet troops are so cheap. Whatever else he was able to afford would prove interesting and challenging.

Here’s the map/board for the night: map-for-april-2009

The idea was for the terrain to represent a village or hamlet in a valley. Thusly I placed as many hills and elevated ground around the edges of the board as I could. The village was just four buildings, with a pond in between two of them…it represented a clean source of drinking water (maybe a large well or natural spring). Some good-sized fields of crops and an obligatory apple orchard on the edge of town…apples were a popular crop back in Russia and the Eastern Front in general…and it’s easier to buy the pre-made trees or components to make apple trees than to try and do something more exotic like cherry trees (and not Japanese cherry trees, or poor old Anton Chekhov would really be rolling in his grave). Some copses of trees on the town outskirts and some trees on the hills too.

Preparation: a Light, Westerly wind was rolled. My troops were coming in from the Western side of the board. The Objective that I had to reach in 10 turns was the road in between the four buildings.

Turn One – my forces came on board safely, in the Northwest, travelling Southeast. My 150mm Offboard Artillery was aimed at the nearest edge of the nearest house to my forces. Before I began rolling, Peter said he had deployed badly – but when he heard I had 150mm artillery, he said it would be a quick game! (He even suggested post-game that if I had selected only 105mm artillery, then I would’ve had much more trouble breaking his troops’ Morale).

I had two pairs of 15omm guns. I rolled two hits and two misses – killing a Soviet platoon HQ base and squad straight off. A good opening for me!

Turn Two:  Now I could see some of the defenders, russians-now-in-sight right in the outer edges of the fields, closest to me. Peter had opted for an aggressive defence and deployed accordingly.  He had mortars – they rained down fire on my Company HQ as it was moving down to its intended position. The Russians opened up on my infantry with MMGs, LMGs and rifles russian-mmg-lmg-fire for a fierce 46 Fire Factors at 25cm range. He rolled a 6 to get +1, but then suffered -2 for being Conscript troops. So, in conclusion he was -1 at 40cm…I lost 7 bases, which I spread out amongst the squads. I had to test Morale for 4 squads…the overall platoon was fine but some squads were Shaken, so they hit the deck and were just going to fire back.

My 3rd Platoon also came under heavy fire, losing the Platoon HQ. I rolled a 6…-5 left me with a final result of 1…that platoon was Shaken. They also were going to stay still and just shoot back, too.

My Artillery now came down. Even though I rolled shockingly, I still wiped out all the troops concealed inside the building, forcing Peter to test Morale.

The Germans returned rifle & LMG fire, killing a Russian MMG and some grunts. The killing of the MMG was due to Peter determining that my German LMGs could target the MMG, with leftover factors carrying over onto the surrounding bases as “splash damage”. This is an unofficial decision that worked well and will need codifying somewhere…stay tuned.

The nearest platoon of Russians have had enough and began to Retreat – the first time I’ve ever got Peter to retreat! Still, the Russian Company as a whole rolls 3 Morale, so they are OK…just.

The Russian mortars come down again on my Company HQ and softskins – killing my Company HQ. For once, I roll well in testing the Company Morale in a crisis – and get 8, leading to a final result of 1. We are Shaken for a turn but still in the game.

Turn Three – No more advancing for me – I’m Shaken so can only stay still and fire back. I disembark the four 120mm Battalian Support mortars out of the surving Opel Blitzes – they can fire on Turn Five. The 251/1C in front of the Opel Blitzes that I was using to make a FAO mobile  kills off some Russians with its LMG, so the other Russian bases near it surrender to me.

One of Peter’s platoons continued its retreat fleeing-russians but sadly for them they ran into my 150mm Artillery Barrage and were all killed.

Turn Four – I can move again! I had set up my company 81mm support mortars last turn and they could now fire. They missed. His mortars killed off a LMG base attached to my Company HQ teams.

Turn Five – I decided to change my Offboard Artillery fire from Pre-determined as I wanted to silence his mortars and so I had to roll to Call Down my Artillery onto a new target. I succeeded and silenced one of the Russian mortars, but his Mortars hit my 120mm Mortars whom are forced to flee off the table (they were right next to it).

I roll my Company Morale again – a 3 – leading to a Retreat. Game Over. I was so close this time to forcing him into a Retreat and winning…arghhhhh.

Here’s a photo of the FAO in the 251/1C directly fighting Russian infantry: fao-and-softskins-advancing

This time I had remembered everything.  Smokescreens, the lot.  It was him hitting my Company HQ so early on that prevented me winning…I must place them somewhere safer, not on a wing, and certainly not let them start high on a hill where they can be seen and mortared!

On thursday night, Peter was hosting Jason M. from Far North Queensland and a longtime player (and playtester) of Panzerfaust: Iron Fist. Naturally, a game was going to be played. Jason and I agreed to lead a company of Germans in an Encounter scenario against two companies of Russians. The German forces were as follows:

  1. Platoon (4 vehicles) StuG III G
  2. Platoon (4) Marder III(h)
  3. Platoon of Panzer Grenadiers with early Panzerfausts, in 4 Steyr 1500A heavy cars
  4. Single Sd.Kfz 251/17 AA vehicle

The Russians had:

  • Company (5 vehicles) KV 1, 1942 edition
  • Company (7) T-34/76, 1941 edition with 2 platoons of Infantry with SMGs and a MG Platoon in GAZ-AAAs.

The year was 1943 and the objective was to take the small ridge on the big hill in the centre of the table. Here’s the table:

Adding in some weather effects, Gale force winds were rolled for, heading South East. Those two rolls for winds wiped out the possibility of Germans relying on smoke shells and smoke launchers!

TURN 1: Both armies advanced toward the objective, the Germans trying to get the Marders there first, as their guns would tear apart any Russian armour. Peter’s KV1 company was placed in a corner and could see the Steyr 1500As through a thin firing alley. Those that could let fly with direct area fire. The direction of travel for the Steyrs was my decision and already my tactics were looking poorly conceived. Miraculously, none of the Steyrs was hit.

TURN 2: Stupidly I decided to abandon my plan of directing the Steyrs and the 251/17 forward to cover one end of the hill, and instead turned them left toward the security of the nearby forest. I also decided to have the StuGs turn right and deal with the KVs, while Jason would best place the Marders forward. The KVs could still see the Steyrs and 251/17 and chose to keep firing at them, even though they could now also see Marders. Out came all the measuring tapes to judge ranges and lines-of-sight.

Peter rolled to hit. The results of his rolling technically ended the game there, as the direct area fire of the KVs blew up my Company HQ in their fleeing Steyr, even though the other vehicles were unscathed. For Jason’s benefit, this outcome was changed – another Steyr was destroyed instead. They passed their Morale check but the only way for them to be safe was to continue to retreat into the forest – a retreat without a Retreat from a failed Morale test. *Sigh*.

TURN 3:Jason’s tactical synapses were busily snatching back victory while my synapses floundered. With 6 pips to use for actions this turn, we could reposition all our armour as we wished. Still, the Russians destroyed the final infantry Steyr causing a further Morale check. Jason ‘tracked’ a KV and got it out of the game but lost a Marder in the process. The StuGs hit the KVs but didn’t penetrate the heavy front armour of the KVs.

TURN 4: The T-34s and the infantry had gained a toehold on the hill and now moved to secure the objective. Jason and I elected not to move our forces much and concentrate on knocking out the KVs. Fire was exchanged but to no effect.

TURN 5: It was now past midnight and effectively the end of the game, so Peter sent his Russians over the hill and a few around its side. My StuGs ‘tracked’ two KVs, one being a Platoon Commander. Jason’s Marder that had reached the objective was in trouble. Red infantry was almost on it and so they let rip. Now, the Marder III(h) had an open rear, so it’s crew only gets Soft cover versus infantry fire, the infantry also gaining +4 for shotting from behind. That Marder died and another two ended up Stunned for 5 turns. The last one, whom had been in support of the others, used direct area fire to kill four infantry bases – the other two infantry bases now surrendered to that Marder. The flanking T-34s and my flanking StuG had no real effect on each other. End of game – the Russian T-34’s held the objective and far outnumbered the Germans.

Only a five turn game? Many of the games I’ve played with Peter have gone to twelve, and most games should go for at least ten. On reflection, I should have kept pushing the Steyrs to their original destination. My decision, made during panic, to instead hide in the forest got a lot of men killed and prematurely ended the game. Nothing kills like bad decisions.

The extremely useful On the Way! website is back, hopefully for good. Supported by it’s creator Doug Chaltry (he of the Doug Chaltry technique, if you’ve read my earlier posts) as well as plenty of wonderful helpers.

If you’re doing wargaming in 1/72 or 1/76 and you’re buying model kits to do it,  On the Way! should be immediately added to your Bookmarks or Favourites.

This is a report of a game of Panzerfaust: Iron Fist played between myself and Peter on Friday night.

The game type was decided before we met, as Attack/Defence, with Peter’s Russians as the Attackers. Point values for this scenario weren’t strictly followed – my Germans were worth about 2000 PV and Peter had approximately 3000 PV. Although we had decided to base the game in 1943, this was revised to 1942.

Upon meeting, the “map”/game board was laid out. A medium-sized village at a T-intersection inside the Soviet border was going to re-taken by the Reds, reaching the town centre being their only objective (not having to hold it). There were some good stands of trees surrounding the village, but also some open areas too – making both attack and defence a challenge. The main road ran North-South, with the intersecting road going East. It was determined by dice-roll that there was a Light, Southerly breeze.

Three companies of Soviet troops were to face one supported German company whom were already dug in. This supported company were trialling a new addendum, that all German forces post-1941 could receive regiment support units even if they were an ad-hoc battlegroup (the regiment support units were my recently-completed PaK 38s).

Once secret maps were drawn and troop movements decided by the players, the game began.

Turn One T-34s came on directly opposite my PaK 38s, who were concealed in the big Oak trees to the northwest of the village. A mixed force of T-26s and BT-7s came on next to the East road. The Panzer III J (early) platoon hidden in the orchard behind the village immediately moved out to try to intercept the T-26’s.

The PaK 38s took aim at what was hoped to be platoon or company command tanks and fired. A spigot grenade destroyed one T-34 and an APCR shell immobilised another.

German Platoon 1’s mortars dropped smoke in front of the T-26s. This action ended up disadvantaging both sides…

The T-34s avenged their fallen comrade by opening up with all their machineguns, killing one PaK crew. Morale was tested for the other PaK crews – they held firm, determined to make the most of their advantageous position.

Soviet 152mm artillery began to fall onto the village, its centre of effect being close to a platoon of Infantry and the Company HQ. The Beaten Zone Radius (BZR) of this artillery was quite large, and meant that while that platoon remained dug in, they were always going to be affected by it – but if they moved out of it, they were likely to be killed by it!

Turn Two This turn, the PaK 3’s missed their targets and one was in turn destroyed by concentrated machinegun fire from four T-34s. The German mortars now began dropping shells onto the T-34s, whom happened to have “tank desant” – tank-riding infantry – onboard. A number of them were killed by shrapnel.

The T-26s and BT-7s had scooted out of the sight of the Panzers, whom were now left looking at a big smoke cloud dropped by their own troops. They split up and continued to move, hoping to stop the Reds reaching the town centre.

The heavy Soviet artillery now destroyed the small shed were the German Company HQ was commanding defence of the village. This meant an immediate Morale Test for the whole company. It passed, but now the defenders were going to be at a permanent disadvantage. The Panzers became the new company HQ.

Turn Three The remaining PaK 38 stunned a T-34 crew but then died at their gun as the remaining T-34s recommenced their advance.

Both German and Soviet infantry exchanged heavy fire.

Each side inflicted losses, but the infantry platoon, suffering a Shaken morale due to a poor Morale check, saw some troops begin to flee.

Turn Four This was a defining turn for the Germans. The infantry platoon fighting the advancing Red Infantry lost their Platoon HQ to T-26 machineguns. The T-26s had been cautiously advancing along the East Road and had now reached the outlying buildings. Their proximity to the German infantry caused those Germans near to the T-26s to surrender whilst others fled.

On the other side of the village, tank crews had sighted each other and an armoured battle had commenced. Four BT-7s destroyed a Panzer III whilst another Panzer was immobilised by the continued 152mm artillery barrage.

Turn Five More Germans surrendered to the T-26s and the T-34s whom were sweeping in quickly, trying to reach the village centre. One was a bit too quick, getting caught in his own side’s barrage (but unluckily for the Germans, not suffering enough penalties from it).

The two still-functional Panzers over on the southeast earned some credibility by knocking out a BT-7.

Turn Six Two more BT-7s were knocked out and there was a momentary glimmer of hope for the Germans – both were HQ vehicles. Soviet morale held and the BT-7s continued to move slowly advance, firing as they came.

The T-26s, close to their objective, knocked out the active Panzer III they found in their path.

From behind the buildings, the T-34s raced forward and took the objective. The remaining Germans, including a complete second infantry platoon whose only action had been to fire a few anti-tank grenades at the T-26s, surrendered. The game was over.

* * *

The German side expected to lose, but as the game unfolded, thought all was effectively lost by the start of Turn Three. As other games played have usually gone for ten to twelve rounds, this was shorter in rounds but the same three-hour duration due to intensity of fighting…other games have involved a lot of troop movement by both sides, where turns can be quickly resolved.

Lessons learned from this game?

  • Keep my mortars at the back or rear.
  • Keep my tanks in the middle or front – at the rear they are too late in arriving to do anything, especially since the Russian player will usually always have twice the number of tanks I do.
  • Don’t bunch my guys up too much – that heavy artillery has a big BZR.
  • Spigot grenades are a risky proposition – they fire after the T-34s, due to reloading slowness. On the other hand, APCR is awesome!
  • All tanks suffer Morale penalties when they enter built-up areas. Try not to do this unless it’s an objective. To steal an observation from “Kelly’s heroes”, “The Tiger is an open-country tank…”
  • In Peter’s own words – “In an attack/defence game, if you are defending you must think ‘ambush with everything’!” My tanks were not going to ambush anything. In fact, they were hiding. They should have been in the trees on the right flank.

Parcel opened

September 23, 2007

The parcel, gutted

After collecting the parcel off Aussie Post, I opened it and checked it for accuracy. All was present and correct!

This of course means that cold Spring evenings will be spent labouring over getting them assembled and painted ASAP…there’s also the pressure of Pete (co-author of Panzerfaust: Iron Fist) returing from his Japanese sojourn and being available for a game or two.