Camouflage nets 3

Camouflaged Raupenschlepper 7.5cm PaKs

Camouflage nets come to the rescue on my Raupenschlepper bodges. Even though the Germans don’t need them for a (game) year or so, I dressed them and put the crews in place, because they were fun to do.

Raupenschlepper Scratchbuilt Tracks

One more ‘Schlepper was eked out of an einheits cab, tilt and side panels, with the track coming from a 1/200th approximately set of Panther tracks. These came from some models that (I think) Bob Cordery gave me some years ago. Another was built with a scratchbuilt set of tracks.

RSO Ost

This brings the theoretical number of models that can be made from the PSC box to twelve; not bad at all! This assumes that you are prepared to fill in the gaps with a lot of card and paper. Raupenschlepper from Rubbish

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On The Workbench – Scratchbuilt Tracks

Maultiers with Scratchbuilt TrakcsAs the Maultiers came rolling out of the box, it was clear that eight chassis could be assembled from all the extra options in the box. All that was absent were four sets of tracks. An hour with some Evostick resolved that, and the production line continued to roll in an ersatz German WW2 sort of way: Close enough for wargaming work!

Raupenschlepper with Crew and CamoThe work of dressing the bare chassis has begun with cam nets and crew. PSC provide plenty of figures and happily, most of these are closer to 15mm than 20mm.

Raupenschlepper with Einheits BodyIt is possible to score the sides of the late war anti tank mount, fold them up and make extra cargo bodies using the late war cab, if you do not want self-propelled guns.

 

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QRF Fiat Spider

QRF Fiat Spider

This car comes from their postwar range. I was unable to find any online pictures of it so cannot comment on scale, other than to say that it looks a bit thin, It is a single piece casting, which saves a good deal of faff assembling wheels, but gives a fair amount of work to clean up the casting.

Although this model is in the postwar section, I shall use it in the Western Desert until somone produces a Fiat 500 Topolino or the French licence-built equivalent, the Simca 5.

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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  cab and the office body 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 and is recommended.

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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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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, DAK, Modelling, Wehrmacht, Western Desert, WWII