On the Workbench – More Maultiers

PSC German Medium Trucks

The new Plastic Soldier Company German Medium Trucks box is an excellent offering – Five easy to build trucks straight out of the box, with options for an Opel Blitz, Mercedes L3000, or Maultier version of either. Five trucks for £17 pounds or so, roughly £3.40 a truck.

Why do I like plastic kits better than resin or metal? They build up into square models, and they are easy to convert. So looking at the sprues more carefully, there are not five trucks in the box, but ten! All that is absent, are five cab backs that cannot easily be seen, five sets of front wheels and five chasses. Any self-respecting bodger will have spare wheels in the spares box. The card from the box itself, with judicious use of cork or plasticard will do the rest. Call it £1.70 per truck – excellent!

PSC German Medium Trucks and Maultiers

Even after giving a sprue away, I rapidly assembled four Blitzes and four L3000s, making half of them into Maultiers. I was looking for photographic evidence of Maultiers in North Africa, but could only find them in Italy. Each sprue comes with a spare tyre, so these were made up into two sets of wheels for two of the trucks. En masse, any slight inaccuracies in the wheels should disappear.

In case anyone is wondering, The four trucks furthest away are complete kit builds and the Maultiers closest to the camera are the bodges. Soaring off into speculation, I think that PSC missed a trick by not offering the Chevrolet and Mercedes cabs on the box art; after all, everyone does a model of a Blitz.

I would have preferred the office body, rather than another cargo body version, but I suspect most wargamers don’t want as many logistic or HQ vehicles as me. Either way, the box is excellent value.

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QRF Sale Review – GSV13 Mercedes Benz L4500R Maultier

LR 4500 MaultierL 4500R Maultier, courtesy of YesthatPhil

GSV13 Mercedes Benz L4500R Maultier

This is one of the better models that arrived in my sale order. It is an impressive chunk of metal for £4.50 and all the castings are clean, relatively square and free of miscasts. The late war Einheitsfahrerhaus version is modelled. Some 1,500 of these were built, in response to delays in the Schwere Wermachts Schlepper programme; most were used as artillery tractors or platforms for Flak. As is usual with QRF; the track casting is double sided with no lugs to give a positive fit to the vehicle.

The front wheel axle is a vague approximation of the real thing – I had a look at a few online images of L4500R chasses and still was not entirely sure  which way the casting should be stuck on. I’m not complaining as you can hardly see it on the finished article. All in all, a nice wargames model that I haven’t been able to find elsewhere.

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Ride of the Valkyries – Moscow Retaken.

I had really, really wanted Trebian to be able to be present at this, the third of three closely grouped evenings in The Den,  but alas, he was unable to be present. Why? Because for the last twenty years he has bourne the vicissitudes and misfortunes of the Red Army with equal amounts of good grace and grumpiness; fighting off the Fascist hordes with little more than rifle ammunition and a pistol to the back of the neck.

Tonight was to have been your night, but YesthatPhil stole the glory that was rightfully yours: Trebian, this battle report is for you!

!st Shock Army Attacks

1st Shock Army crashed over the hastily assembled defences around the rail junction west of MOSCOW. The battle was brief, bloody, and it resulted in the line breaking and falling back after three days of fighting.

!st Schock Army Breaks in to the German Defences

The remnants of 20 Panzer Grenadier Division, although not properly reorganised , were thrown into the battle in the hope that they would plug the gap. They did not.

20 Panzer Division Fails to Stem the Red Tide

As the siege of MOSCOW closed it’s iron grip around the beleaguered Wehrmacht defenders, a weary resolve manifested itself inside the city. Herman Goering had boasted of his ability to supply the encircled defenders until spring, but had not reckoned on losing the airport. Parachuted supplies gave only the basics of ammunition and some essential medical supplies; the garrison was running on empty.

Supplies Airdropped into MOSCOW

Gorky Park

18 Guards Rifle Division spearheaded the assault on the Kremlin….

18 Guards Rifle Division Attack MOSCOW

18 Guards Rifle Division Attack the Kremlin

but as the perimeter shrank under heavy bombardment*, it was 102 Rifle Division that led a final futile counter attack  out of GORKY PARK**

102 Inf Div's Final Counterattack  out of GORKY PARK

Peace of sorts descended over the shattered ruins of MOSCOW as long lines of prisoners trudged east to an uncertain future.

Soviet Advance Dressing Station

Soviet advance dressing stations collected casualties. Alas there were no such luxuries for the defenders.

The Perimeter Closes Around the Kremlin

* The plant pots decked out in Bundes Republic Deutschland colours are the new replacements for my party balloons (Pins).

**At this point, I put Ride of the Valkyries on to the record player. Enjoy the war whilst you can … the peace will be terrible!

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Retreat from MOSCOW – Jan 1943

MOSCOW Encircled from the West

This three-part game followed directly on from the last MOSCOW scenario. YesthatPhil was at all three evenings, and Trebian turned up for the middle session.

A brief unseasonal warm spell gave trouble alike to the advancing Red Army and retreating Wehrmacht as the pincer movement closed around MOSCOW. The Soviets, with their lighter logistic requirements still managed to continue the advance, but the Wehrmacht was forced to abandon much of its heavy equipment in the retreat.

Confusion reigned on the Axis side as orders and counter orders flew around. Little flying took place, as both sides found their aircraft mostly unable to take off from airfields surrounded by fog and low cloud; the Soviets fared better in this respect.

Infantry from the broken front lines struggled to maintain coherence. Soviet armour appeared to be more mobile away from roads than the Axis, but in any case long lines of infantry poured west, attempting to link with adjacent units and form a defensible line, racing to stay ahead of the advancing Soviet armour*.

IMG_7779

Axis Forces are Thrown Back into MOSCOW

Inside MOSCOW, disorder was everywhere. Logistic and Luftwaffe units fled into the city as the airport was overrun. A frozen river MOSKVA proved to be no obstacle to men and horses, although bridges were thrown across the river to allow passage for armour.

20th Panzer Grenadier Division is Attacked

The spell of mild weather was brief as the temperature plummeted and hard snow covered the ground once more.

20 Panzer Grenadier division Surrounded

20 Panzer Grenadier Division found itself surrounded and destroyed in detail as the reorganised  1 Guards Tank and 2 Guards Mechanised Corp lapped around the defences.

18 Guards Rifle Division Overrun the Airport

Fierce dogfights erupted over MOSCOW with the Soviet pilots gaining ascendency. A Bf 109 can be seen crashing into the rail tracks in the picture above.

18 Guards Rifle Division Overrunning the Airfield

18 Guards Rifle Division  continued to push north over the airfield and into the outlying southern districts of the city. They met 258 Infantry Division head on, driving them back with heavy casualties on both sides. Katyushas provided close support from the airfield, with devastating effect. Such Luftwaffe support that did reach the front line was fully occupied attempting to support infantry dug in to the river line, with nothing to spare for counter-battery work.

Desperate German Counterattacks fail to Dislodge the Attacking Soviet Infantry

Desperate counterattacks by the defenders failed to dislodge the attackers. At this stage of the battle, both commanders were wondering if they had enough forces to hold/take MOSCOW. This is one of the features of the game, of which I am proudest. I tend to think that I have the balance right when both players are wondering if the battle is winnable from their own perspective.

MOSCOW Encircled from the West Limited Reserves are Redeployed to Plug Breaches in the Defencess to

38 and 39 Rifle Divisions turned east to attack into the city, having encircled it from the north. After cutting the main railway lines to the west , they made little headway at first against the outer defences, but eventually managed to gain a foothold as the defenders retreated deeper into MOSCOW.

Soviet Infantry takes the Outer Defences of Western Moscow

Having done this, they paused to reorganise and conserve their strength, consolidating their gains against any Fascist breakout down the rail lines. 2 Guards Mechanised Corps can be seen advancing west  in the top left of the picture above, with 1 Guards Tank Corps in the picture below .

Retreating Wehrmacht InfantryForm a Hasty Defensive Line

To the east, remnants of Axis infantry divisions began to reorganise on the rail junction and railhead, throwing up a hasty defensive line in the face of the advancing 1 Guards Tank Corp, with the surviving mobile remnants of 20 Panzer Grenadier Division regrouping behind.

*Trebian, who was present for the second evening, had more armour on the table than he has seen for the previous twenty (real life™) years. He didn’t squander it attacking MOSCOW either, just let it scamper off to frighten the bejazus out of the Axis lines of communication.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Axis War Diary, Eastern Front, Land Battles, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, WWII

QRF 15mm Sale Review – GSV07 Sd Kfz 7

This  casting simultaneously displays all that is good and bad about QRF models:

SdKfz 7

GSV07 Sd Kfz 7, 8 tonne tractor with 8 man crew

For £4.50, you buy a huge hunk of metal that sits solidly on the table with square tracks and wheels, in contrast to some of the other models that I bought.

Headlamps are absent. The detail around the back of the body is awful, with simultaneous excess flash, and shrinkage of the mould. the right rear side of the body is narrower than the middle seat. The front mudguards are not square to the body.

QRF Sd Kfz 7 with Crew

After much filing, all the original detail had been filed flat and there were still shrinkage pits and mould lines in the body.  Cam nets – every bodger’s friend – may be needed to rescue this casting. One of my tracks should not have passed quality control, but then neither should the body. I have given the model a rubbish undercoat-quality paint job just to get it onto the wargames table.

The eight crew are a nice bonus; they sit properly on the bench seats without extensive podiatric surgery to make them fit. Although nicely detailed and proportioned, they are too narrow across the shoulders. I can live with that.

QRF Sd Kfz 7

Unlike previous reviews, other firms make better ‘7s. My favourite is the Forged in Battle resin ‘K Seven, which exhibits superior detail in every respect. Go with Skytrex if you want a better metal model, albeit at nearly twice the price. It does not demand two hours of fiddling about to produce an acceptable sculpt ready for painting. The Flames of War cast is disqualified as it is actually an Sd Kfz 6. I would still buy it in preference to the QRF one if I wanted another ‘six’.

Sd Kfz7 Flak Rangefinder

In summary, I cannot recommend this model at all until QRF renew the master and bring it to the same standard as their postwar stuff. If, however, you are planning to convert an Sd Kfz 7 Flak Mess Truppen Kraftwagen (Flak rangefinding tractor), which is the one with the big box body at the back, then this is a good cheap chassis to start with.

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33 and 3 Motorcycle Battalions DAK

33 Kradshutz Abteilung

Thirty third and third motorcycle battalions, belonging to 15 and 21 panzer divisions respectively, were attached to Panzer Armee Afrika. In NQM terms, each battalion should comprise 6 strength points as shown above.

They are most usefully employed as recce, in single strength point elements to cover the front on the move; but there is no reason why they should not be amalgamated into two 3R elements per battalion to fight with more endurance if desired. There is also no reason why they should all be mounted on motorcycles; the orbat included Zfz 11s and 18s.

Most troops were mounted in sidecar combos,  single motorcycles appearing at headquarters. A company had about 11 motorcycles and 60 M/C combos at full strength, and they did not stay at full strength for long.

 

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QRF 15mm Review – Motorcycle Combos

IMG_7777

These are actually my two favourite models, even though they display all the usual QRF faults, namely miscasted locating pins, excess flash and nothing quite fitting or square. It seems to matter less on these lively sculpts as they lurch across the wargames table, festooned with three crew, an MG and four panzerfausts! I can just live with the stupidly wide handlebars and too-short wheelbase. Peter Pig does it  better on this one, in my opinion, but QRF just pips it for composition. See also YesthatPhil’s review on his blog.

German Motorcycle Combos

QRF don’t specify the motorcycle. That’s fine, as I can’t tell from the sculpts, but £3.50 gives me two models for my recce and motorcycle battalions.

Zundapp KS750Zundapp KS750

I’m going with it being the BMW R75 on balance rather than the Zundapp KS750, as the Z’s distinctive ‘A’ frame is absent, even though the distinctive Beemers twin horizontally opposed cylinders are modelled as a single vague lump. I have fond memories of my old Beemer R75 tourer, and less fond ones of my Cossack Dnieper (I managed to burn holes in both piston heads, the metal was so poor!)

BMW R75 MotorcycleBMW R75

With this amount of detail (accurate or not) hitting the eye, the model hides its faults well, so I reserve my right to be inconsistent and to recommend this model, despite its flaws.

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QRF 15mm WWII Sale Review – British Artillery Limbers 2

BSV02 Quad Artillery Tractor

I received two surprises on opening the packet: The casting is much larger that the FoW offering, and it has this cast into the base …

Quad Model Made by Denzil Skinner & Co Ltd

… so given that it appears to be a faithful cast of the old Denzil Skinner diecast, is it the right size? Wickepedia gives 4.489m long for the Quad, and the casting is 45mm … spot on, which makes the FoW resin cast too small at 38mm.

Fow and QRF Morris C8 QuadsThe visual difference is bigger than the dimensions suggest. We have seen this sort of thing before, with the FoW SdKfz7 actually being a 6, and being just short enough to  fit onto one of their standard bases.

Two Men Say they're Jesus, One of Them Must be Wrong!Either way, It is jolly annoying. I assume that TSS bought the rights to the old Denzil Skinner moulds. If so then I can recommend this excellent, clean, square old casting with minimal flash at £3 as the best of the bunch; except that if you already have a fleet of smaller Quads, they won’t fit in. This kit would work well with a 25 pdr and limber, as it has no limber of its own. I was not aware that Quads were used to tow 6pdrs, but the photo below shows that this was the case.

6-pdr anti-tank guns towed by 'Quad' artillery tractors, 5 December 1942. NA 229 Part of WAR OFFICE SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION Bowman (Sgt) No 2 Army Film & Photographic Unit

6-pdr anti-tank guns towed by ‘Quad’ artillery tractors, 5 December 1942.
NA 229
Part of
WAR OFFICE SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION
Bowman (Sgt)
No 2 Army Film & Photographic Unit

Will McNally over at Will’s Wargaming Blog has found another anonymous Quad casting that at first sight appears to be a chop job from the Denzil Skinner casting; it is always hard to tell from photos.

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Eddie Lizzard

Summer is HereSummer is here

One of the things that I have done on all my homebuild projects over the years, is to add a topping out piece. For The Den, I recycled a carving that I picked up on tour somewhere abroad. For years it has made a nuisance of itself on window ledges and cupboard tops, providing a home for spiders, and terrifying Orcses with its smile.

The Cunningly Prepared Corner

Its final resting place is a corner cunningly prepared for it in advance* There only remains to finish of the soffit boards outside and a few other bits of touching up until the electrician calls.

Eddie Lizzard

Why Eddie Lizzard? Just look at the eye makeup!

Eddie's Eye Makeup

*Though not as cunningly as the floor.

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QRF Review – BSV10 Bedford QLR Radio vehicle

BSV10 Bedford QLR Radio vehicle

QRF Bedford QLR Radio Truck

I made this model some time ago, was happy with it, and ordered another one. £4.50 buys you a large chunk of metal that looks like what it is supposed to be. My usual quibbles include wobbly wheels and nothing quite square, but they are part of the furniture for small batch metal castings that were hand-whittled by the sculptor . I’m pretty happy that someone makes a QLR, and at a very reasonable price too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

See what I mean about nothing quite square?

Trawling through pictures on the net produced lots of QLRs in Micky Mouse camouflage from France, post D-Day, but nothing to indicate they made it out to 8th Army, unlike the QLBs and Ds. The only photo that I have found to date is a restoration project with no provenance from the site.

Bedford QLR

Morris CS8s are more in evidence, but I find it surprising that there are almost no pictures of signallers posing in front of office or radio bodied trucks. You cannot move on the net for pictures of tankies lounging around their mounts. Allied Signallers are obviously a shyer breed.

morris-cs8-15cwt-wireless-house

Other likely vehicles are Austin K2, K3s, and Fordson WOT-2Ds, but again, photos of them are rare to non-existent. As ever, in the absence of evidence, I am making it up as I go along, based on what I can get. If you have a TO&E lying around for HQs in the Western Desert, or if you know of any contempory photographs, I would be very grateful for pointers.

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