SEVASTOPOL

SEVASTOPOL looking north

SEVASTOPOL looking north with German air assets

This Week’s post is just a quick picture dump of my mocked-up SEVASTOPOL board. The idea is to have a multiplayer game outdoors, providing that the Delta Variant of Covid levels off over the next few weeks in the UK.

SEVASTOLOL looking east

SEVASTOPOL looking east with fleet and assault boats.

The plan is to play the game at Front Scale Orbat (FSO) with three or four stands representing a division, and one stand representing a regiment or brigade. My band-saw is up and running again; it took six months to source a replacement blade due to lockdown shenanigans. I have cut a few more river sections and painted them a lurid icy blue, the better to stand out in pictures.

SEVASTOPOL looking south. The central hill represents the Maxim Gorky naval gun batteries.

SEVASTOPOL looking south. The central hill represents the Maxim Gorky naval gun batteries.

The 14 x 8 squared board is being used for convenience, but the game should play better on a non-squared board. Squares distort the terrain too much, making everything more rectilinear than it should be. For mocking up a game though, squares are unrivaled.

Airfields to south of SEVASTOPOL looking east

Airfields to south of SEVASTOPOL looking east

 

BALAKLAVA looking east

BALAKLAVA looking east

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

Graham Fordham – In Memoriam 1957-July 2021

Graham Fordham

Graham en Famille, Christmas 2017

Graham Fordham was a passionate Husband, Father, Chef  and Wargamer. You never really know the whole of a person, so at funerals you discover things about their life that you never knew, and perhaps wished you had. I first met Graham as a wargamer, with his then-wife-to-be, Alison.  I remember thinking at the time “He’s interesting, I bet he’s worth getting to know.” It proved to be just so.  Graham didn’t do things by halves; he was an excellent host and Chef, and had strong opinions on history, but also a dry sense of humour. If he fixed you with his intense stare, you knew that you were in for an interesting ride, with no guarantee of where it might end up.

He was well known in Society of Ancients circles, collecting more than his fair share of competition trophies, and he passed his love of wargaming on to his wife, Alison and Daughter, Tamara.

Graham Fordham 28mm

Graham Fordham’s 28mm alter ego

He joined the Royal Navy as a Chef, declining an offer for an Officer’s commission to do so. In time, he made his way onto the Royal Tournament Display Team (as a chef, but becoming very fit in the process as he trained with the team)

It is the measure of the man that as Head Chef at Kettering General Hospital providing meals for patients with particular diets, he had observed that the pureed foods were often being returned uneaten. He instituted serving molds that represented the foods, from which the purees were constituted. Wastage decreased significantly as a result. Likewise, when he could not find the quality of flags that he needed for wargaming, he founded his own company,  Fluttering Flags, to print designs onto fabric flags, with his products making it into Kettering Museum, and worldwide.

Graham Fordham 1

Graham is not impressed by “The Cunning Plan”

Physically, Graham could have been cast as a ship’s Captain.  With his fiery red hair and beard, he would have been too edgy for Captain Birdseye, too focused for Captain Pugwash, and with too much of a twinkle in his eye for Barbarossa. Graham sailed his own ship, and the world is a sadder place for his leaving of it. He is survived by his wife, Alison, and his daughter, Tamara.

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Clive Lane, Man of the Future 1989

Clive Lane

The past is another country, as evidenced by the Winter 1989 cover of Practical Wargamer. Prominent is Clive Lane, pondering sagely over his hex terrain board with its stylised terrain and neatly arrayed Redcoats. With Polo-necked sweater, trimmed goatee and pipe clenched masterfully in his jaw, he holds a copy of Napoleonic Battlegaming with Hexes & Miniatures, artfully displayed to reinforce the image of thoughtful authority.

StuG Abteilung at Alberto's

No Hexes, but an excellent Café

His article did, and does, strike a chord with Wargamers who like order and lack of ambiguity. His ‘handicraft work’ as he describes it, cannot be faulted, and gave a distinct ‘Old School’ look to his game using 20mm?  Napoleonics, and with a scale of what may be two bases to a battalion, it appears to draw on Charlie Wesencraft’s earlier work in 1983. I confess though to giving the article less consideration than it was probably due, initially due to the aforementioned portrait of the author, but mainly due to the overall tone of the article and the judicious employment of a number of classic bad arguments.

1 “… over the next few years you’ll see the hobby gradually moving towards the hexed terrain system. so you might as well “get cracking”if you don’t want to be left using yesterday’s system.”

This is a classic case of starting with an unsupported claim, posing a false dilemma, appealing to fear (of being left with an outdated system) rounded out with an appeal to the Bandwagon. I’m pretty sure that there is also an appeal to historical inevitability in there somewhere.

2. “The introduction of the steel rule and protractor led only to more borderline cases which … brought the game to a standstill.”

Here, the author sets up a straw man to knock down and poses another false dilemma. All games without hexes grind to a halt whilst players argue :  My system solves this. Dodgy logic aside, the author is on surer ground now; hexes do remove ambiguity in movement. If you do not regularly play with an umpire, or can’t agree amicably with your friends, then hexes have a lot going for them. Kallistra sales, I am assured, are brisk.

70 Army and 2 Tank Army Advance to OREL

In 2021 we see a lot of games using hexes, squares and even diamonds¹. So in that respect Clive Lane was indeed an early adopter. His overstated claims that there would be one system, making obsolete all else was clearly wide of the mark. Many classic rule systems have stood the test of time, In the Grand Manner springing to mind without much thought, and rules continue to be written and abandoned at an undiminished pace. So if the past was another country, we find that when we  arrive at the future, it is never quite as we imagine it to be. Clive Lane, I salute your forward vision and wildly overstated claims in equal measure.

  1. NQM doesn’t care :  It is happy with squares, or hexes, or without.

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Parade Season (Part 2) – The Germans

Germans on Parade

Germans on Parade

Little Hitler wanted this parade to be by torchlight, he loves that sort of stuff, but I mustered the troops by daylight and kept him in his bunker.

Infantrie Armeekorps with Three Divisions

Infantrie Armeekorps with three Divisions to CSO Orbat

The infantry divisions are starting to look quite intimidating now that they have more-or-less their full compliment of artillery. I can show a division with horse drawn, or motorised, or self-propelled artillery, depending on which stage of the war is being portrayed.

Two Infantry Divisions with a reduced Corps Headquarters

Two Earlier-war Infantry Divisions with a reduced Corps Headquarters but motorised Artillery

One of my three line infantry corps has three divisions, the other two have only one corps headquarters, as the third pair of divisions usually supports a Panzer division, to make a Panzer Armeekorps.

These Two Infantry Divisions have no Corps HQ

These two Late War Infantry Divisions have no Corps HQ as they usually support a Panzer Armeekorps. Note that horse-drawn Artillery is creeping back into the Orbat

By 1943 even panzer korps usually only had one panzer division supported by a couple of line infantry divisions, or if they were really lucky, a panzer grenadier division. The Germans made up for it by titling their infantry regiments as “Grenadier Regiments”, which fooled no-one!

 

Panzer Division with Early War through to Mid War Tank Options

Panzer Division with early-war through to mid-war Tank Options. The rather overscale signals Truck is an ersatz Stand-in

 

Panzer and Panzergrenadier elements to make up Midwar Panzer Armeekorps

Panzer and Panzergrenadier Elements to make up mid-war Panzer Armeekorps

 

Panzergrenadier Division

Panzergrenadier and Panzer Division Elements

There was the inevitable shifting around of units that had strayed into the wrong boxes, and patching of broken barrels etc. I finished the Magna-basing of the Germans and stuck them back into their boxes. Organising German tanks is a bit trickier than organising Russians, as there are more variants. Anyone puzzling over the pictures and trying to make them fit the orbats just has to remember that there are extras in there, and not everyone will pour out of the box to fight in any given battle.

Jaeger Division

Jäger Division

The Gebirgsjäger and Jäger Divisions have simpler orbats

Gebirgsjaeger Division with field Security Elements

Gebirgsjäger Division with field Security Elements

After every parade, I end up with a list of things to do, and reserves moving into the reserves boxes as older models are replaced by things approximating more closely to reality. They can always be thrown back into battle if things become desperate!

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Eastern Front, Modelling, Theatres of War, WWII

If in Doubt, Have a Parade

Chris Kemp's Not Quite Mechanised - Corps Scale Orbat. Soviet Army 01
NQM CSO Soviet Army

Parades fulfill a sort of military Haebeus Corpus function. It is much easier to sort everyone out if they are all lined up, and it’s handy  if there is finishing off to do across a number of boxes. In this case, the job was sticking magnetic tape onto the bases, to stop them sliding around in their boxes. The pictures can be referred back to as a memory aid to see what still needs to be done, and if I’m particularly bored, I can play “Где Уолли? [Gde Uolli?]” (Where’s Wally?). For years now, Comrad Commisar Walter has been making himself scarce around the boxes, trying not to be shot by the enemy or his own side.

First up is a CSO rifle corps with three rifle divisions, followed by a corps with two rifle divisions, and one with two rifle divisions and a tank brigade.

Chris Kemp's Not Quite Mechanised Soviet Rifle Corps 1941-43

Soviet Rifle Corps 1941-43

Then comes a breakthrough artillery division, with the army commander and army level artillery, logistics and bridging to the right.

Soviet Breakthrough Artillery Division
Soviet Breakthrough Artillery Division

Finally, a few variations on tank corps. In total, more than enough to fill even quite a large table. My tank units usually have more tanks than necessary, so that if I want, I can field the correct models for the period. As usual, I’ve spotted stuff that needs work on it.

Chris Kemp's Not Quite Mechanised CSO Soviet Tank Corps Winter 1941-43

CSO Soviet Tank Corps Winter 1941-43

Soviet Tank Corps 1943-44

Soviet Tank Corps 1943-44

Chris Kemp's Not Quite Mechanised CSO Soviet Tank Corps 1941-42

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Anti-Aircraft, Artillery, Halftracks, infantry, Land Forces, Logistics, Motorcycles, Orbats, Soviet Army, Tanks, WWII

NQM Soviet Spring Offensive 1943 (Part 18) – RYAZAN Falls

35 Infantry Division in RYAZAN

RYAZAN lies on the west bank of the River OKA, and by this stage of the spring offensive sat at the southeastern edge of what was beginning to look like a pocket, bounded north and east by the OKA and 13th Army.

8 Rifle Division 15 Corps 13 Army on the E Bank of the OKA

Attacking from the south-east was 42 Corps (16 Lithuanian, 202 and 399 Rifle Divisions) from 48th Army.

48 Army - 42 Corps 16 202 399 Rifle Divisions advance to contact

61st Army comprising 9 Guards Rifle Corps (12, 76 and 77 Guards Rifle Divisions) and five more rifle divisions (97, 110, 336, 356 and 415) marched rapidly to close the pocket along the southern border.  The sprawling town¹ boasted its own Kremlin but was otherwise undistinguished beyond being the birthplace of the famous psychologist Ivan Pavlov. Guarding RYAZAN, was 35 Infantry Division. This unit, comprising troops from Baden and Württemberg, had been in continuous action since 1940 on the west front, and then in the drive to MOSCOW, where it had suffered heavy casualties in the winter of ’41-42.

Further losses followed in the retreat from MOSCOW, and by now the division was burned out and Commanded by Major General Baron Rudolf von Roman.²

48 Army Recce meeting engagement

The opening round of the battle commenced with 48th Army scouts clashing with the forward defensive line south of RYAZAN. They were repulsed with significant casualties, forcing 16 Lithuanian Division to deploy and mount a formal attack.

16 Lithuanian Division Deploys for a formal attack

This eventually succeeded, as 202 and 399 Rifle Divisions worked their way around the west and north of the town to surround it.

16 Lithuanian Division drives in the German outpost line

The Commander of 42 Corps was in no hurry, waiting for his corps artillery to position itself before launching a heavy bombardment prior to a well-coordinated simultaneous assault from three sides of the town.

RYAZAN is surrounded and surrenders

The defenders, already low on ammunition, with failing morale, had been pushed beyond the limits of endurance and surrendered.³

Game Notes:

1. I rated RYAZAN as a medium defensive position.

2. The Germans were rated as Regular (3morale steps), the Soviets Conscript (two steps).

3. The Germans failed their first morale roll spectacularly, with a one!

4. I fought this as another solo game, thinking it would not hold much interest, other than as part of the campaign.

5. The Front Scale Orbat (FSO) was used for this game.

6. I shall take the opportunity whilst the toys are out on the table to do some more detailing and sticking magnetic tape onto bases.

Footnotes

  1. This didn’t stop me using the heavily industrialised IKEAGRAD on its first outing on the wargames table.
  2. Hence the regular rating, rather than veteran.
  3. The artillery rolled a one first time around! The town had no integral logistics to replenish losses, and the division could not trace a line of supply back to a railhead, due to being surrounded. I was surprised by how quickly the Germans folded, but they had already taken over 50% casualties from the preliminary bombardment.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Axis War Diary, Eastern Front, Soviet Army, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, Wehrmacht, WWII

Steyr 1500A Review

L To R S3D x 2 - FiB x 3 - FoW Front PP back

L To R – S3D x 2 – FiB x 2 – PSC – FoW Front PP back

I own a fair few Steyr heavy cars now – nine to be precise, and if you add in three Horch Heavy cars, there are enough for a comparative review between Peter Pig (PP), Forged in Battle (FiB), Flames of War (FoW), Plastic Soldier Company (PSC); and Syborg 3D Printing (S3D) (as representative of all three printers that I have bought from – Butlers Printed Models and Paint & Glue Miniatures being the other two).

Horch 108 PP and FoW the different bonnet shapes are evident.

Horch 108 PP and FoW. The different bonnet shapes are evident.

First up is the FoW Horch 108, (4.84m long x 2.00m wide and 2.04m high) so  at 46mm x 18mm x 12mm to the cab side, it is a fraction small, but not FoW’s usual 1:120-ish. Next to PP’s metal model at 47mm x 20mm x 15mm, which is pretty much spot-on (the missing mm of length comes from a poorly cast tow-hook and a front bumper that sits too close to the nose. The FoW Horch looks a little smaller but not worryingly so, and more rounded in the bonnet, which is a more accurate profile. The PP Horch is altogether squarer in the bonnet, with blockier detail, which is not accurate. It does however sit convincingly higher on its wheels.

Steyr 1500A FiB

Steyr 1500A FiB. The 37mm PaK 36 shows that this stand is an RHQ whereas the General (R) designates a divisional HQ

The dimensions of the 1500A measured 5.08 meters long, 2.03 meters wide, and 2.23 meters high (presumably with the canopy up). The FiB Steyr is similar to the FoB Horch in many ways. It sits low to the ground, and at 47mm x 21mm x 15mm, is 3mm too short and 1mm too wide. Nevertheless it is a convincing model. To my eyes, the 3mm has been stolen from the nose and boot, in order to give more space in the rear passenger compartment. This visual flaw is only evident when you compare it to the next two models, and is actually quite handy for squeezing fat generals in.

Steyr 1500A Cabriolet S3D and 1500A FiB

Steyr 1500A Cabriolet S3D and 1500A FiB

The S3D (50mmL x 19mmW x 16mmH) and PSC (51mmL x 20mmW x 16mmH) models are very close in dimensions. The missing mm of width on the S3D makes no difference until you compare it to the PSC model, which although it is a millimetre too long has the best-looking bonnet profile of all the models, has the finest detail and comes with crew as well.  Were it not for the mismatched angles of the cab sides, I would have no hesitation in recommending this as the best model on review.

Steyr 1500A FiB and PSC

Steyr 1500A FiB and PSC

Will over at Will’s Wargames Blog (see Sidebar) tells me that the 20mm version has no such flaw, and goes together perfectly. As usual, the print lines of the S3D are visible enough to need work to obscure them. It occurs to me that I have only made the early model 1500A up, whereas all of Will’s models look to be late. I will have to make up a late model in 15mm to see if the error is confined to the early model.

Steyr 1500A Cabriolet and 1500A AA both S3D

Steyr 1500A Cabriolet and 1500A AA both S3D

S3D also offer a Horch and Steyr AA version with twin MGs. I have twinned the Steyr AA with a Flak Trailer for ammo. Finally, S3D offer a Steyr 1500A Cabriolet for generals to ponce about in at corps Level. I have filled mine with rank and file for the time being until I buy some more PP officers to take over. In summary, all the offerings are well up to standard for wargaming. All have limitations or flaws. I’m just happy that there is so much choice.

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The Hobbit’s first Wargame

simple Arch

After the end of GB’s second lock-down, and a massive barrack-building session for tanks, the weather was just too nice for indoor pursuits. Consequently, cutting a very long story short, José (used to be junior but now senior) invited us round for oven baked pizzas with Nathan (Horticulturalist, IT guy and Blood Angels-used-to-be second-but-skipped-to-8th-edition-Warhamster player. Green T-Shirt) and José’s delightful 7 year old son (The Hobbit¹). We played Jenga and my impressive improvised bridge-building skills were deployed! Pinball Wizardry followed, then Carcassonne.

Pinball Wizard

The afternoon passed very agreeably and José mentioned that he owned some plastic soldiers. Hong Kong rip-offs, Airfix, and some Britain’s Deetails, but also three spring firing cannons, one of which was a Dinky Toys No. 609 US 105mm Howitzer (centre stage in the picture below) that I had never seen before. Only one thing to do … cadge some matches and teach The Hobbit how to Wargame.

First Wargaming Victory

The game was very simple, line ten soldiers up and shoot at them with matches. I cheated, choosing fat soldiers with tiny bases for myself, and overlapping them like ten pin bowls. The Hobbit chose Deetails and Germans with wide bases (because he isn’t stupid). He won, but I shot the German Officer and Custard Cuthbert the Cowboy survived. Huzzah! we will have to see if I can subvert The Hobbit to historical games, or whether the Dark Side wins (José Senior is a confirmed Star Wars  fan) over the Evil Empire (They Want all Your Money and Your Kidneys).

Tie fighters view of X-wing Spam

So that’s the sum of it. I’ve been slacking over the last three weeks, having fun and neglecting my painting.

Dormouse 090621

  1. Name changed to protect his secret identity as a Spykid.

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Wot a Tanker in Four Moves – and Eurovision

 

The weather in Middle England is wet and blustery at the moment, so the pressure is on to to get the tanks that are currently parked in the middle of the allotment into a position where  they can be useful. This is effectively a four move game of Wot a Tanker.

  1. Prepare the ground and build a platform. This needs a spirit level, mattock, pallets and a bit of patience.
  2. Move the tanks into their new position. Done in phases with (3) See diagrams.
  3. Fill the new tanks up by emptying the existing tanks so that they can also be moved. This needs child labour to help fill the buckets. Expect water fights.
  4. Plumb in the new tanks with guttering and framework, taking time off to watch the Eurovision Song Contest. Full marks to Germany for giving everyone else the finger, and to the UK for choosing a random bloke from the local boozer to represent us. Encore nul points!  Italy won the glam rock-pretending-to-be-heavy metal contest, and the most-skin-eyeliner-and-tattoos-on-show prize in a heavily contested field – Kudos for winning the competition as well! Nobody singing from the tops of ladders this year. Disappointing!

Move Two. Sack trolleys will move a 50Kg Tank with ease, even if they won't fit into your blue hammerite toolbox.

Move Two. Sack trolleys will move a 50Kg Tank with ease, even if they won’t fit into your blue Hammerite toolbox.

Move Three. The child labour was useful at this point. Do you know how many watering cans it takes to move a ton of water? We are still finding out!

Move Three. The child labour was useful at this point. Do you know how many watering cans it takes to move a ton of water? We are still finding out!

Not Child Labour. The great thing about an allotment is that friends will help.

Not Child Labour. The great thing about an allotment is that friends will help.

Lockdown Ends. The wellingborough Temperance Society 2020 is back in session!

Lockdown Ends. The Wellingborough Temperance Society 2020 is back in session indoors!

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Earthworks and Tanks on the Lawn -Off Topic

Tanks on the Lawn

Back when we had an office for war, instead of a Ministry of Defence, Tanks were reckoned to be a good code word for Slow Armoured Trench Crossers. After arriving at the allotment to find that a troop of three one-thousand litre water tanks had beaten me to it, I can see why. They are going into the Tank Shed to increase our water capacity for the next inevitable dry summer, but at the moment they are parked on the lawn in front of the Presidential Palace, looming in a sort of “we’re here to stay” manner. In order to put them in place, we first had to move a ton or so of nicely rotted horse poo, which is not quite as bad as it sounds: After the first three months or so, it hardly smells at all!

Green Things

Green Things

In other true scale modelling news, our allotment looks like Stalag Luft 24 now, surrounded by wire mesh, and with individual rows of green things¹ covered in Nissen Hut-like hoops that support yet more mesh. Unlike a real prison, this is protecting the inmates² from critters trying to break in and eat them. Below we see Suzanne in one of her experimental dazzle-camouflage jackets, carrying a heap of boring-camouflage™ bags. Full marks if you spotted her blending into the photo above!

Dazzle Camouflage

  1. Suzanne is in charge of Green Things, I just do Brown Things, like sheds and horse poo.
  2. Kale, Japanese and English onions, Swiss Chard, peas, beans, potatoes and sweetcorn are all Green Things. Thank you for asking.

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