Surfing in Munich

A quick break to visit the Munich Weinachtsmarkt led to the surprising discovery of two surf waves. IMG_7412The signs warn onlookers that the dog bites (biβiger Hund), and that if you surf or swim here, you will die (Lebensgefähr). The local surfers sensibly ignore both!

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The waves run through the Englischer Garten on the river Eisbach and are host to a thriving community of surfers – all of them completely mad of course! The young lady on the more popular of the two waves burned off everyone else in fine style.

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When not watching (from the comfort of the bank) surfers strutt their stuff, we did the usual touristy things involving beer, Schweinshaxe, Glühwein and Wurst. Here is Suzanne in full battle gear, getting stuck into a Rotwurstl to bridge the gap between a huge breakfast and an enormous supper. Bavarians have heard of nouveau cuisine, but are rightly suspicious of it!

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The eleven Christmas Markets come to life as soon as dusk falls, then party on until 9pm, when everything closes. We deliberately went during the week, when it was quieter, but still had to fight to get near the stalls after dark. It is much busier at the weekends!

IMG_7425Even the graffiti is posh!

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MMModels.uk

A nice fellow called Stewart up in Scotland produces some j0lly useful models for operational wargamers – Radio vehicles, staff cars, fire tenders, cranes, tank transporters and what-not. He is quite open about the fact that he primarily produces these for his own use, with excess for sale, and that they are wargames quality.

HQ DAKThe  barely undercoated staff car and Opel radio truck are MMModels. They look the part even with my perfunctory modelling skills. The crew are Piggies and Forged in Battle. So is the SdKfz 10/4 2cm 30

The prices reflect this and give reasonable value in terms of quality, which is patchy, but excellent value if the models are on your bucket list. You will have to do a fair amount of work in terms of filing, shimming and filling, but nothing that should daunt a moderately competent modeller*, and I applaud Stewart in running a garage kit operation to make these models available.

DAK 606 Flak Abteilung

It is obvious from the castings that  components from model railway cars form the basis of some of the kits, but they are none the worse for that. If this review seems like faint praise, it isn’t. I am genuinely impressed that someone is offering kits of niche interest in 15mm and plan to order more as soon as I have this lot in service. He even has a proper Anhänger 116 – how cool is that?

Although models are made to order, my batch of 10 or so pieces was all in stock and came impressively quickly. Be prepared to wait though if you decide perhaps that you need enough landing craft to fill a display table. However, with this blog’s small but *ahem* discerning band of followers, I don’t expect there to be a sudden rush of orders. As usual, these new acquisitions have just enough factory paint to reach service. Allied stuff to follow.

 * I wish I was one such *sigh*

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Really Useful Boxes

The 20mm collection was stored in box files like these. See Tim Gow's Megablitz and more to see inside his boxes.

It had to happen sooner or later: The Really Useful Box Bug has bitten. My much-loved box files are showing their age, mostly because their contents are forever  changing ahead of any attempts to label them. The new transparent A4 boxes are easier to see into without opening as my Soviet and German generals regroup their forces. My Billy Boxes are still in use, so here are a couple – boxes one and thirteen as it happens.

My "Billy Boxes" fit onto an Ikea "Billy" bookshelf (not without bowing the shelves). Note the chalked contents panel and the massive supergun waiting to be converted for AK47 some day.

My “Billy Boxes” fit onto an Ikea “Billy” bookshelf (not without bowing the shelves). Note the chalked contents panels.

box001

Box 001 contains an Italian Western Desert Metropolitan Infantry Division, with some Army level reconnaissance . Note the rather grand overscale staff car in the top right corner of the box. Italian generals have style! The divisional artillery is far less impressive by comparison.

box013Box 013 contains a composite Bersagliari regiment and a Blackshirt legion. What they lack in equipment, they make up in elan and political zeal respectively,

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Italian Army, Modelling

Prelude To Winter – Leningrad

This game was run as a solo battle over two evenings to cover action on the Northern Front in winter 1942/3. As soon as the ground hardened, two Soviet armies (8 and 25) moved against the German forces covering the western approaches to LENINGRAD.For this battle, each division was represented by an NQM battalion.

Soviet offensive against TIKHVIG

Soviet Forces

8 Army :  4 Guard Rifle Division, 27 and 28 Rifle Divisions. Army Artillery.

25 Army :  9 Cavalry Division, 13 Motor Rifle Division, 26 Division. Army Artillery. Army Anti-tank Regiment.

German Forces in LENINGRAD

18 Infantry Korps :  122, 123 and 253 Infantry Divisions. Korps Artillery.

German Forces West of LENINGRAD

1 Infantry Korps :  1, 11 and 28 and 58 Infantry Divisions. Korps Artillery.

Tikhvit Advance to Contact

The attack was conducted in a series of phases against the defended positions occupied by 11 Infantry Division and 28 Infantry Division  before attacking the town of TIKHVIG, occupied by 58 Infantry Division.

Destruction of 28 Inf Div

The Soviets then reorganised for a night river crossing. Remnants of  11 Inf and 28 Inf  had managed to withdraw and reorganise on the west bank, but their hastily-scraped positions did not hold.

Leningrad Reserve Demolition

A last ditch attempt at a controlled demolition, by the Pioneers of 1 Infantry Division, who were guarding the bridge, failed.

Leningrad river crossing

The offensive ran out of ordnance at this point, so had to stop, but the road to LENINGRAD had been opened.

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Artillery Regiment 33, 15th Panzer Division, North Africa, 1942

saurer Sdkfz254_01

I did not realise quite how small the Saurer Sd Kfz 254 was in relation to the SiG 33 auf Pz II until I bought them both to fill in the orbat gaps for  Motor Artillerie Regiment 33, 15th Panzer Division, and Schwere Schützen-Regiment 155 /200 North Africa, 1942. I should have done – the 254 is essentially a 4-wheeled armoured car with the extra weight of a set of tracks, so it would have to be pretty small not to burst the tyres …. Oops, see the photo below for a vehicle living on the limits of evolution before it became extinct!

SdKfz_254_02

We are still talking about signature equipment here, but it brings some modelling variety into DAK, and highlights the rag-tag nature of the forces that the Axis deployed into Nord Afrika.

Sd Kfz 254 Saurer compared

So here is the orbat for:

  • 33rd Artillery Regiment  {Comd Saurer Sd Kfz 254 or Sd Kfz 253* (C3)}, FOO (R1), {Sdkfz 11 (or 6) Limber (L3) + 10.5cm Gun (S3)}, {PaK 38 (r) 7.62cm or PaK 38 5cm (S3) + Sdkfz 11 (or 10) Limber (L3)}.
  • Schwere Schützen-Regiment 155 /200   SiG 33 (S1) + Limber (L1) [you could, of course, just use the SiG as an S2 stand]

*Thanks to Andreas for pointing me to a very useful forum for this orbat.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Artillery, DAK, Land Battles, Modelling, Orbats, Wehrmacht, Western Desert, WWII

The Battle of Bir Bar ‘el – Breaking into the Position

0600hrs – Crossing the Start Line

Bersagliari under Artillery Fire

  1. 14th Infantry  Brigade Artillery (14ARTY) laid a barrage onto the northernmost enemy strongpoint of 1 medium CU scoring 5 against the medium strongpoint, scoring 1 red pin or pip (1M=5>M=1). Bersagliari tested for morale for coming under fire for the first time, scoring 4, which was OK
  2. 1st Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment (1BEDS&HERTS) advanced to contact with the enemy and each stand of 3 bases opened fire scoring 2 pins (2L=5+6>M=2).
  3. V Bersagliari Motorised Battalion (5BERGn) returned fire with 1 light die scoring 1 pin (1L=4>L=1)
  4. In the first move, 1BEDS&HERTS have inflicted three pins on 5BERGn and received only one in return, so in the next move they can close assault the strongpoint.

Winning the Firefight

0700hrs – Close Assaulting the Northern Strongpoint

  1.  There were no unwounded stands left in the northern strongpoint, so if 1BEDS&HERTS close assaulted, they would just walk over the position, capturing anyone who was in there.  5BERGn were veteran troops however, and passed a morale test for 50% or over casualties scoring a 6! so the Battalion Commander decided that a fighting withdrawal was in order. 1BEDS&HERTS occupied the position. Their supporting Valentine tanks from 4th Royal Tank Regiment (4RTR) declined to pursue the fleeing enemy until the infantry had reorganised, on the grounds that the enemy had probably covered his lines of retreat with anti-tank fire.
  2. The 1st Black Watch Regiment (1BW) advanced to contact in a co-ordinated brigade attack against the southernmost enemy strongpoint and began the firefight (2L=5+3>M=0).The attack stalled as the defenders returned fire (1L=6>L=2)
  3. 14ARTY laid a barrage  of 1 medium CU scoring 2 against the medium strongpoint to the south, to no effect. The attack remained stalled.
  4. The supporting Matilda battalion of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment (1RTR) began a duel with the DAK 50mm anti tank detachment to their north (DAK PaK). 1RTR (1L=3>M*=0). DAK PaK (1M=6>H=1).

 Black Watch Advance to Contact

0800hrs – Black Watch Continue the Firefight Against the Southern Strongpoint

  1. The tank/anti tank duel continued in the south with more sound and fury than actual damage: 1RTR (1L=3>M*=0). DAK PaK (1M=3>H=0), the PaK was now out of ammunition and could only withdraw next move, or sit tight awaiting a close assault.
  2. 14ARTY laid a barrage onto the southernmost enemy strongpoint (1M=4>M=1). 5BERGs had now received 50% casualties and failed a morale test on 2.
  3. 132ARTY fired on 1BW (1L=4>L=1). 1BW had received 50% casualties and failed a morale test on a 2, becoming disorganised.
  4. 1BW settled into a firefight with 5BERGs causing a permanent (black) casualty (2L=4+5>M*=1) and receiving . 5BERGs failed their 50% morale check on a 1, also becoming disorganised**

0900hrs – Black Watch Win the Firefight Against the Southern Strongpoint

  1. 14ARTY continued to bombard the southernmost enemy strongpoint to no effect (1M=3>M=0).
  2. 132ARTY switched fire onto 1BEDS&HERTS (1L4>L=1).
  3. 1BEDS&HERTS closed to effective fire range against the Southern Strongpoint (2L=3+5>M=1). At this stage the combined attack of two battalions had won the firefight and could advance to contact in the next move. [In the picture below, the 3 stands could have black pins stuck into the bases, or be depicted by casualty markers as shown here]

Black Watch Win the Firefight

1000hrs – Beds & Herts Follow Through to the Defenders Gun Line

  1. 14ARTY continued the barrage on the southernmost enemy strongpoint 5BERGs. The fall of shot was doing more damage now (1M=4>M=1).
  2. 132ARTY continued their barrage on 1BEDS&HERTS (1L=5>L=1).
  3. 1BW mounted a disorganised close assault with only one effective fighting base (F1) against the zero strength 5BERGs, which was automatically overrun. RHQ was unable to offer supporting fire to 5BERGs, as they were disorganised.
  4. The Valentines of 4RTR supporting 1BEDS&HERTS brought 132ARTY under direct fire (1L=6>M=1) causing 1 pin.

Valentines Charging the Guns!

1100hrs – The Enemy is Defeated

  1. In a bold move, the Matilda battalion 1RTR  passed through the Southern Strongpoint and broke into the RHQ position in fine style but caused no enemy casualties (1L=2>L=0) and received none in return*** (1L=4>H=0). The Tank Terror rule was not appropriate here as RHQ had organic anti tank assets. By doing this, 1RTR prevented RHQ from putting in a potentially devastating counter attack. [See picture below]
  2. 4RTR‘s Valentines closed with 132ARTY causing another pin (1L=6>M=1) and receiving no casualties in return (1L=4>M=0) – I really was not making these die rolls up!
  3. 1BEDS&HERTS mounted a well-coordinated close assault with two effective fighting bases (F2) against the single strength point remaining of  132ARTY (S1), which was  overrun as this strength point was defeated in close assault by the attacking infantry (F3= 6,5>S1=5). [See picture above]

Black Watch Close Assault

This battle would conclude with 14BDE consolidating on the positions that it had won and reorganising. The supporting tanks would reorganise, following British doctrine, behind the defending infantry. Logistic elements would move forward to resupply the infantry and tanks

It is worth noting that throughout, I have tried to describe as much of the ‘battle’ as possible using language that would be familiar to the commanders of the day. I find battles personally more satisfying doing this than if the language of wargaming is used, as I use games to try and understand the history of the period, as well as being an enjoyable pastime.

This worked example supercedes the earlier Battle of WASHBOARD RIDGE.

Footnotes:

The notation used here is a sort of Chess-style notation that allows me to record the salient points of solo games for future reference, and to keep track in campaigns. For this game I decided that the first people to come under fire would take a morale check, and everyone would at 50%.

* I count most Atk guns as Medium in defence when tanks are firing against them, to reflect the anti-tank guns’ low profile and camouflage, as here.

** disorganised units cannot take advantage of supporting fire, and are automatically overrun if close assaulted.

*** Tanks do not close assault. They drive into an enemy infantry position as they please, but if the infantry do not surrender or run away, then the tanks are treated as light targets in the next move when close assaulted by the defending infantry  if they are unwise enough to stay on the position. See Männer Gegen Panzer to get a feel for what is going on tactically.

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Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, DAK, Italian Army, Rules Examples, The "Rules", Western Desert, WWII