I completed my Soviet Armoured Car Company, bringing it to the recommended strength of five vehicles thanks to finishing the final three earlier this week. The final three are a BA-I (БА-И), BA-6 (БА-6) and BA-10 (БА-10). You’ll recall the first two vehicles of this company, finished back in February, were a BA-9 (БА-9) and a BA-6M. Here’s the whole company:  and from the air:  .

Here are the three recently completed vehicles together:   .

Here’s the  BA-I (БА-И) by itself:  . Now the BA-10 (БА-10):  . Lastly the funky-looking BA-6 (БА-6), first from the side  and then three quarter profile:  …great idea, just to whack the tank turret from the T-26 onto the armoured car body…

I really like this camouflage (камуфляж) scheme, that I got from this link: “BA-6 from the Separate Recon Battalion /1st Tank Division/1st Mechcorps, The North-western Front, Krasnogvardeysk (Gatchina) region, August 1941″ – it’s lots of fun to paint.

If you look closely at those trees in the background, you might recognise some of them from this earlier post of mine.

So, in the space of a few months I’ve added two more companies to my Soviet forces. That’s enough for now, as they are not my primary army. It’d be good to pick up a couple of Airfix T-34s (as kits or assembled) so I could complete my company of T-34/76s, but I’ve not seen any at the swap & sells this year…funny, as there were plenty of them around in the previous few years.

Now, strictly speaking the rules state that all vehicles in a company must look the same so they cannot be confused as others. I’m going to argue that they all have the same basic body and will play all as the same type, even if they actually are different models that I have. A whole company for $50 as opposed to having to pay full price for the same UM kit new…$225 for a company?! Sorry. I’m on a budget,these trainees aren’t cheap to train.

I’ll reiterate what I said about rubber tyres from the SU-85 kits (those were UM kits; these BA’s are UM kits too and they have real rubber tyres) – great if you can do them perfectly, but I cannot and so I have to paint over them, sometimes numerous times…and the effort to get them onto the hubcabs is a nuisance too. I’m happy with plastic tyres.

 

 

 

2 weeks back Peter and I met for our third game of the year. The period was Autumn, 1942. The scenario was Breakthrough, with Peter’s Russians attacking (breaking through) my defending Germans. The sky was clear and there were light winds. Here’s the map: … a crossroads with hamlets and houses nearby.

No-one had any aerial forces, so we got straight into it.

Turn 1: The Russians call down a smoke barrage on the wrecked T-34 at the crossroads, neatly obscuring the vision of the PaK-40 I had dug-in behind it. Some recon forces came on to the table:  – T-34s were proxying T-70’s.

Turn 2: The T-70’s continued to probe forward: .

Turn 3: Now all the Russians came on to the table. T-34/76’s and KV-1’s. The smoke barrage was continuing: so my central PaK-40 couldn’t see them. They rumbled down the main road but also through the fields and trees beside it: – my PaK on the left flank found a T-34/76 going right into his bore-sighted path, so it fired and knocked it out of action .

Turn 4: The scouting T-70 on the far right sights the PaK-40 I placed over there. As the KV-1’s on that side break through the treeline, that PaK-40 knocks out a KV-1, which happened to be a Platoon Commander’s vehicle! Good! But over on the left, the T-34/76’s let rip with their hull MGs and my PaK-40 there is out of action. My mortar section try to rain death onto any tank riders, but their aim is off.

Turn 5: The Russians have to grind on if they are going to break through. One body of vehicles pushes past my dead PaK: .

Since I wanted to get my central PaK into action, we had a look at the rules about traversing infantry guns during a game. We were surprised to see some infantry guns could be fired whilst their crews were trying to shift them into new positions! We had to clarify the rules there and then for traversing mid-game: for a size B gun, the first 30 degrees of traversing is free…you can movie it and fire it without penalty. If you traverse it between 31-45 degrees from the original position, you can fire it but you suffer -2 penalty to hit. If you are trying to move the gun more than 45 degrees from it’s original  position you can do so but cannot fire it that turn.

So, back to the game; my right flanking PaK-40 hits a KV-1 and Stuns it, but is LMG’d to death by the rest of the KV-1 company. My mortars on the left flank wipe out a squad of tank riders through some accurate aiming. My infantry kill a few more. My remaining PaK-40 – the middle one, who was trying to traverse so that they could be useful – have to check Morale due to the losses of my other AT guns and fail, so they surrender to the Russkies.

Turn 6: Soviet movement is strong . They push hard and run over the dug-in Germans. All the Germans can  do is try to kill tank riders and weaken Russian morale. For the central force of Germans, their AT Rifles are useless against these medium tanks’ side armour so all that they can do by is pick off Russian infantry riding on the passing tanks. The Russians lose another squad as the Germans do so, but their Morale holds and the tank MGs cut down German infantry.

Turn 7: A lucky German infantryman kills the Soviet infantry company commander who’s riding on a tank: . The Russian Infantry check their Morale and are affected -they are now Shaken. But they are on the backs of tanks, so Shaken effectively means nothing for them. The Russians grind on to their breakthrough point and begin to exit the table  – they’ve won . My infantry are unable to stop them. Another victory to Peter.

~~~~~

It was also scenery-making night at the club that night. Here’s a mate making terrain for Stalingrad and the Eastern Front…burnt-down Russian hovels, where only the chimneys remain… .

I’m not finding so many useful videos now, but thereare some searches I have not tried yet.

Here are three that I have found worth mentioning:

GERMAN PROPAGANDA video newsreel film Film ID:  1129.04 .    Much of it is footage that I’ve already pointed you to through earlier posts…but right at the end is some (so far unseen by me) footage of Russian light tanks and armoured cars in action.

TIME TO REMEMBER – OPERATION BARBAROSSA ( 1941 ) – reel 2 video newsreel film Film ID:  2247.02.    There are some snippets of film you’ve already seen, but also some interesting other segments.
A Panzer II accompanied by German bicycle troops (attention all recon force people!); a long pan across an attack on a small Russian village or small kolkhoz (letting you get an idea of how the main buildings are arranged in a kolkhoz).

RUSSIANS LIBERATE A VILLAGE – 1942 video newsreel film Film ID:  1625.01.   Russian BA-series armoured cars in winter camouflage; a KV-1 in winter camouflage; a T-34/76 in the winter camouflage used around Moscow (mostly white but with bands of cross-hatched green); Russian infantry with a M-1910 Maxim machine gun and its Sokolov mount that have been given winter camouflage by wrapping them in white cloth.

 

Here are four more useful-for-wargamers-and-modellers films that you can view directly for free on the British Pathe website, including my own notes about content:

ILLUSTRATED COMMUNIQUÉ FROM RUSSIA  Film ID:  1075.12 – It’s 1943. Lots of different Russian artillery in action! Lots of winter warfare footage – Russians in their white snowsuits. Footage was probably vetted by the Russians so nothing too ‘restricted’ could be seen by West.

ON THE DNIEPER  Film ID: 1350.24  – 1944. Lots of shots of Russians under heavy MG and artillery fire as they advance in actions around the Dnieper. Lots of Russian artillery in action. See combat engineers in action. A German tank knocked out comes under heavy small arms fire as its crew try to bail out.

ON THE MOSCOW FRONT  Film ID: 1314.15  – Early model T-34s and also a smaller tank going into action in the snow. Lots of different types of fortifications – barbed wire fences, anti-tank ditches, anti-tank gun emplacements in the city. For Soviet armoured train model enthusiasts…there’s plenty of footage here, close-ups and medium distance shots from multiple angles as well as the train’s guns firing as part of artillery barrages.

RED ARMY SUCCESSES  Film ID: 1085.10 – Like ILLUSTRATED COMMUNIQUÉ FROM RUSSIA above, lots of winter warfare footage. An SU-122 going past. Footage of Kursk after its liberation.

This is a question I’ve been pondering for the last fortnight and it arose because of the turret of one of the Tigers. To be more precise, it arose because I was painting up a crewman whose head is poking out the cupola of the platoon tank’s cupola.

The crewman is the crewman supplied with the Italeri StuG III kit, and he’s wearing a field cap (feldmutze).  The question was – should I paint on the cockade and national emblem onto the cap, or leave them off? Painting them on would certainly add more detail and realism, but it would be (for me) finicky and difficult…and if I stuffed it up, would require doing the whole cap again. My rule (discussed in a previous post) that near enough is good enough when painting small items of detail (like GrossDeutschland stahlhelms) would also have to apply if I got it to look OK, it would have to stay OK – trying to add to it and make it perfect would probably lead to me over-correcting or over-adding and so ruining the OK effort that I already had.

Remembering to do my research first, I checked the Panzerworld website to check up on Heer Panzer crew headgear. The national emblem would be easy enough – a light grey (I chose Fortress Grey) but the cockade would be Skull White with a Blood Red centre. Still the question remained – to do it, or not? Would it be visible at a range greater than 50cm? Would it really add anything to the overall effect? Would it be worth extra lost time if I made an error? I didn’t do it with my Italeri StuG…should I do it here?

My memory also summoned up the efforts of two WW2 wargaming  colleagues from Nunawading Wargames Association. One turned out functional yet very realistic-looking troops and vehicles. The other turned out technically brilliant work, even perfectly painting on collar patches and shoulder strap rank insignia (no mean feat on 1:72 scale figures!) to his troops – but such tiny detail was lost if you were looking at the troops at any distance greater than half a metre. I had talked with the former at an in-house painting clinic, and he urged against such intricate work as being unnecessary and not as useful as proper shading, highlighting and basing.

Having given all this good consideration, I decided I would. After all, these are Tigers, the most notable German tank of the war and equalizer (for a short while – the T-34 lost all its threat). Also, if the detail on the feldmutze couldn’t be distinguished at range then I would know not to do it again in the future, especially if I didn’t botch painting the cockade and national emblem.

Luckily, I did a better than OK job and have glued the crewman into place. Now I can do all the final anoying details on these Tigers, then do the camouflage pattern, weather them and get them off my hobby table and onto the gaming table!

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.

Plastic or metal?

May 13, 2008

With a few heavy coats of my homemade Panzer Grey on it, the ACE PaK 38 is starting to look OK. In fact, it reminds me a little at the moment of diecast metal cannons from my childhood! The finished product will be the decider…last night I applied some watered black ink around moving parts for that “greasy” look. A camouflage pattern of Desert Yellow will be applied to it, then it’ll be drybrushed with Kommando Khaki for dust. Should have a “introduction of the thee colour scheme but we used the good paint on the vehicles” effect.

Peter and I had a game of Panzerfaust on friday night, where my Marder III h’s debutted. What a debut it was! I had them well placed from the beginning and they were able to tear across the battlefield and rip up four T-34’s, almost winning me the game. My infantry did pretty well too, slaughtering a good part of his “tank desant” motorised infantry.

The railway station is coming along well, too. Much of the heavy work is done – now it’s details.

Ready the men 2

September 25, 2007

Having spent parts of last week cleaning the excess moulding flash off the infantry, I was able to get a good handful of them undercoated on the weekend. For the undercoating, I used Citadel’s Chaos Black spraypaint and ended up doing two coats, to be sure…the ESCI German infantry are made in dark green plastic, so it was hard to be sure I’d coated them properly. Whole can expended, but well ovedr 60 figures done, so worth the $18 the spraycan costs.

Over the last couple of nights, I’ve done a light drybrush with Codex Grey and then a proper drybrushed coat of a mix of Catachan Green and Codex Grey. This mix is meant to represent the uniforms as they appeared in the second half of the war – not the same crisp grey as earlier used, due to shortages. I’ve chosen to use the Games Workshop “Warmaster” speed painting style (not it’s true name, but there is no true name for it!) as it’s done me very well for previous projects. Next step with them is to do a final drybrush using a lighter grey, to add highlights – where light is reflected on ridges and creases on the clothing – and also do boots in basic black.

While cleaning up all that moulding flash, I as finishing off a terrain piece – a ruined brick buiding with some Spring snow blown on it. You can see it here – over at Flickr. I’m pretty happy with it – and as you can see, it does look better when actually used (in the photos linked to, you’ll see half a squad of Russians defending it, with the aid of a T-34/76 as some armour support.