Sd Kfz 250 “Alte Art” replaces “Neu”

SdKfz 250/3 Afrika Korps DAK

PSC Sd Kfz 250 AlteIn common with the entire WW2 wargaming world, I too am sticking “250 Alte” together and enjoying the plethora of extra bits. The five mortars were chopped down and went straight into Gebirgsjäjer and Landser battalions. Adding deployed trails for the SdKfz 250/11 sporting a sPzB 41 was an inspired touch by PSC, as are the total of 8 crew. No complaints there*. The ’41s should really go into Gross Deutschland, but for the time being the example I have flung together can sit in DAK

PSC Sd KFZ Alte Mortar

The lack of a radio frame antennae on the sprue was expected, as they have no use in FoW and other Taccie games, so I made my own. It has been bent a bit by the crew using it as a handrail for jumping in and out  when they are in too much of a hurry to use the back door. A few extra crew crowded in, which is just as well because it hides their unnaturally proportioned lower bodies. As usual, they are in too much of a hurry to go to war, and are tearing off to DAK in their undercoats. Another box may well come in handy for ambulances and limbers, as I only  need a couple more 250s for the grenadier battalions.

Russland, Schützenpanzer »Div. Großdeutschland«

The two displaced 250 Neue will continue to do sterling service in one of my Eastern Front divisions. They will be in plenty of time to put their “retreat gaiters” on.

PSC Sd Kfz 250 Alte

*My only complaint is that the front axle cannot fit into its socket if the wheels are to fit under the mudguards. Oops PSC, someone measured that one badly.

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8th Army Tanks at Alamein

Pay attention meglomaniacs! I wondered how many 8th Army tanks I would need to fight the whole of 2nd ALAMEIN in NQM 1:30 scale if they were all on the table at once. Not as many as I thought as it turns out. As the oddly formatted table below (thanks WordPress) shows, about 36.

I know a nice man with a big table, and who doesn’t have  this many tanks when he pools them with his chums,  so this seems do-able? There are a few gaps in the table below, but it seems about right.

Trebian at GAZALAGeneralissimo Trebian lines up his brave troops to give BIR HAKIEM a good kicking

Sherman Crusader Lee/Grant Stuart M3 Matilda Valentine Scorpion
  8 8 6 3 1 8
8th Army  
1 Army Tk Bde 4 (2)
XXX Corps   6
9 Armd Bde 1 2 1
XIII Corps   1 2
7 Armd Div
4 Lt Armd Bde 1 2
22 Armd Bde 2 2 1
X Corps  
1 Armd Div
2 Armd Bde 3 2
10 Armd Div
8 Armd Bde 1 1 2
24 Armd Bde 3 1

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The One True Scale – Garden Wargaming

Shed du Soleil

15mm is my preferred gaming scale, but I have always hankered after Garden Wargaming in the One True Scale. For a couple of weeks, I have been painting a 1:1 terrain piece in my garden, built with spares from my bits box*. The pros and cons of wargaming in the One True Scale are briefly as follows:

Pros

  •  Any DIY shop stocks authentic colours . They have nicer names: Misty Dawn replaces Rotting Flesh.
  • Any figure that you put in your buildings will be correctly anatomically proportioned and have realistic flesh tones.
  • Buildings weather naturally without the need for filters or washes.

Cons

  • I only have space for one garage and one shed in my collection.
  • Figures in your collection demand to be fed and taken shopping at regular intervals.
  • Collecting sword-wielding scantily-clad fantasy babes in this scale will almost certainly cause domestic strife!

Heavy Lifting Stuff

Here we see the lovely Mrs K doing some heavy work on the fascia boards. The colour scheme internally was dictated by my spare tester pots and was declared to be Magic Roundabout meets Cirque du Soleil. The shed also sports a posh designer chandelier, generously donated by a friend, and an oak door recycled from the house front door. Drinks cabinet to follow :-)

Cirque du Soleil

Meets Magic Roundabout

* The roof was made from 3 old internal doors. Internal panelling came from a salvaged sauna and floor tiles picked up from display boards from the DIY shop next door to my old business.

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NQM Soviet Air Army Order of Battle circa 1943

It seems reasonable that the air army and army headquarters would probably be co-located or close by each other (I have no evidence for this yet).

Soviet VVS Air Corps (Box 007 May 2015)

Air Army HQ

Night bomber division: 5 regiments = 5 Po-2

Fighter division: 3 regiments = 3 Yak-7B

Sturmovik division: 3 regiments = 3 IL-2

Sturmovik division (from GKO Reserve) : 2 regiments = 2 IL-2

Fighter Corps (from GKO Reserve)

Fighter division: 3 regiments = 3 Yak-9

Fighter division: 2 regiments = 2 LaGG-5

Bomber Corps (from GKO Reserve)

Bomber division: 3 regiments = 3 Pe-2

Bomber division: 2 regiments = 2 Pe-2

Air Elements at Sub-divisional Level

Transport regiment = Li-2?

Recce regiment = R-10? (I am using a lend-lease Kittyhawk)

Artillery spotting regiment = Po-2?

HQ elements including communication, training and ambulance

 Quoted from table on p. 185 with author’s guesses marked by “?”

Boyd, A., (1977), The Soviet Airforce Since 1918. Macdonald and James, London.

 

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Cataloguing the NQM Collection

Regular, and even casual perusers of this blog, will have worked out that there is a huge gulf between the orbat pages and the reality of the toyboxes, seen here on the Queen’s unofficial  birthday parade.

Parade 012

Trebian is fond of remarking that if you do not have a catalogue for your collection, then it is just a heap of stuff. The ever-changing catalogue for my famously disorganised heap of wargames toys is now visible on the sidebar. The sole purpose of the page is to be a photo archive of my NQM boxes. You have been warned :-)

Showing an interest may earn you your Crossed Palms d’Or to the  Meritorious Order of the Anorak. To be an Ordinary Member, all you have to do is be an Anorak. Reading this page, for example, would qualify you as an Anorak by default. To be a Meritorious Member, you do actually have to own an anorak*.

Whilst worthy garments in their own right , furry parkas are for Junior Acolytes only and waterproof walking coats are the proud dress for smart occasions of an English Ordinary Member.

* Anyone who has met John Armatys knows that a DPM combat jacket counts too!

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More Big Numbers on the Ostfront Nov 42- Jul 43

1943 was an increasingly desperate year for Axis forces on the Ostfront. STALINGRAD and KURSK spring readily to mind as examples. Some of the numbers tell their own story*.

The Key Rail Junction

The quality of Soviet infantry had been steadily dropping as the most able recruits were drafted into the technical arms and services (Keimke, 1968, p147), compared to the 5 Soviet Tank armies, each of 2 tank and 1 mechanised corps; the best troops generally being found in guards units. German infantry had fought without pause for well over a year, and their generals had commented on the lack of staying power that some divisions were now exhibiting.

The Soviets had been ruthlessly concentrating on production, only innovating if it did not cut volume, or if there was a clear need, so the quantity of tanks available to them does not tell the whole story. This excellent summary gives almost half of the Soviet inventory available at the front as light tanks in November 1942 and roughly a third  in Jul 1943. The numbers are almost constant at about 3,500 tanks, What changed in 1943 is that an influx of nearly 3,000 medium tanks reached the front. In other words, the battles in ’42/3 were as likely to be between Pz IIIs and T-60/70s as T-34s.

In the air, by summer 1943, the PVO outnumbered the Luftwaffe by 2.5:1, so that in November 1942 the Germans, facing some 3,200 aircraft with 4,000 or so machines of their own, found the numbers against them swelling to 8,300 by July. This was triple the size of the PVO in May 1942, and moreover, the new aircraft coming off the production lines were of the latest types.

Balkankreuze2

13th Air Army faced Luftflotte I on the VOLKHOV front with 40-50% extra allocated to the air army as occasion demanded from GKO reserves. In addition the air army had a regiment each of transport (GVF), recce and artillery spotting aircraft:

13th Air Army (formed on 25 November 1942)

  • 275th Fighter Aviation Division “Pushkinskaya Krasnoznamennaya
  • 276th Bomber Aviation Division “Gatchinskaya twice Red Banner orders of Suvurov and Kutuzov
    • 3 Pe-2? (@s3)
  • 277th Assault Aviation Div “Krasnoselskaya Red Banner orders of Suvurov and Kutuzov
      • 15th Guards Assault Aviation Regiment – Il-2 Sturmovik (s3)
      • 566th Assault Aviation Regiment – Il-2 Sturmovik (s3)
      • 943rd Assault Aviation Regiment – Il-2 Sturmovik (s3)
      • 999th Assault Aviation Regiment – Il-2 Sturmovik (s3)

Luftflotte I

  • Kampfgeschwader 1 –  2 Bombers (@s3)  [Ju 88A]
  •  KG1-2“Hindenburg”
  • Kampfgeschwader 76 –  3 Bombers (@s3) [Ju 88A]
  • KG76
  • Kampfgeschwader 77 –  3 Bombers (@s3) [Ju 88A]
  • KG77-1
  • Jagdgeschwader 54 – 3 Fighters (@s3) [Bf 109F]
  • JG54-1 “Grunherz”
  • Jagdeschwader 53 (-) – 1 Fighter (@s3) [Bf 109F]
  • JG53-1 “Pik As”

Subordinated/Attached Units

  • Transport squadron (Ju 52) – Ju 52 transport (L1)
  • five liaison squadrons (Fi 156) – 5 Fi 156 recce (@R1)
  • IV.Flakkorps (anti-aircraft artillery)
    • 2. Flak-Division (Mot)** – Commander (C3) [in Radio truck]
      • Stab/Flak-Regiment 41 – 8.8cm Flak (S3) + Limber (L3) Sdkfz 7
        Stab/Flak-Regiment 151 – 2.0cm Flak (S3) + Limber (L3) Sdkfz 10Stab/Flak-Regiment 164 – 2.0cm Flak (S3) + Limber (L3) Sdkfz 7
      • Flak-Abteilung 517
    • 6. Flak-Division – Commander (C3) [in Radio truck]
      • Stab/Flak-Regiment 43 – 8.8cm Flak (S3) + Limber (L3) Sdkfz 7Stab/Flak-Regiment 164 – 2.0cm Flak (S3) + Limber (L3) Sdkfz 7

leichte Heimat-Batterie 6./I – accounted for in the numbers above

* I have drawn confidence from my last post on numbers that  followers have not just halved. It couldn’t have been the picture of the Ratte could it?

** All the 8.8cm Flak is separated into Regiments 41 and 43. In reality there were approximately 12 guns per regiment.

Sources:

  1. http://chris-intel-corner.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/tank-strength-and-losses-eastern-front.html
  2. Stalingrad to Berlin by Ziemke (1968)
  3. Boyd A. (1977) The Soviet Airforce since 1918. Macdonald and Jame’s – London.
  4. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luftflotte_1
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_army_%28Soviet_Union%29
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/76th_Air_Army
  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Air_Forces_Order_of_Battle_1_May_1945
  8. http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/inhaltsverzeichnisgliederungLw.htm

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Highland Fling

Wild Camp near Sanquahar

More frolicking around when I should really be putting paint onto the little wee chaps. A week in Scotland around the western highlands took in the site of the Glen Coe massacre and the Commando memorial. The rest of the time was spent being wild and disreputable in kayaks, with no discernible wargames content, as the following pictures evidence.

Rivers paddled:

Sunday. The Nith, followed by carousing in “a mens’ pub” in Sanquahar and a wild camp in the glens. The picture is of the climber’s bar in the King’s House, a fortified inn built to provide succour to decent folk venturing into the wild west. The Hobbit thrones are much later additions.

The King's House Cairn Gorm

Monday. The Tay at Grandtully rapids. The England slalom kayak squad were there making it look easy. One of them thought the river was “stonking”. I was delighted to be able to tell them that it was much higher three weeks earlier, but omitted to mention that I had been in a raft at the time.

Upper Spean on two pipes

Tuesday. The Upper Spean, on which I had a massive swim down the final gorge section, followed by the Middle Roy in glorious sunshine. Because of the time of day, the last section was done almost blind as the sun shone directly into our faces along the line of the river.

Upper Spean Swimming the GorgeI am told that the gorge is much easier if you are still actually in your boat.

Triple Falls on the River Etive, shooting the first drop

Wednesday. The Etive, shooting Triple Falls. We gathered quite a crowd, as apparently, sensible kayakers mostly walk round this bit.

River Etive Triple Falls Nailing the Line on the Second Drop

As I soared off the final 20 foot drop, feeling like a celebrity paddler, I discovered why! My previous pasting on the Spean had prepared me for the thirty seconds or so of being recirculated upside down in the huge boily plunge pool at the bottom of the drop. Us star athletes are used to that sort of thing!

River Etive Triple Falls Final Drop

Friday. The Garry.Reputed to be the best grade 3 river in Scotland. I’m just passing a bit of time surfing over to the left of the river , where it isn’t quite so lumpy. This time, I am still in my boat.

River Garry Final Surf Wave

No shipwrecks and nobody drownded, there were nuthin’ to laff at at all.

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Spring Frolics

In spring, young mens’ fancies turn to thoughts of  … white water rafting and kayaking. Blame the recent blogging drought on a trip to Grand Tully (near KillieKrankie) for the annual Nene Raft Guides Junket (a.k.a. refresher training),  in which the younger guides see real rivers and get to watch the senior guides getting pinned on boulders. Mercifully, this year I did not make a fool of myself. The rivers were in spate and had we wanted to, we could have taken a short cut across a golf course!

At Easter, I am off back to Scotland with my kayak and a couple of friends. For the last week, the garage has ben tidied out to make space for all the junk (my rafting and kayaking kit!) in the shed, which has now had its official opening as “The Summer House”. We are thinking of calling it Bonnydoon, after that seminal Australian film, The Castle.

In the course of tidying up, I came across this little ditty, composed late one night at the Conference of Wargamers.

Sung to the tune of Monty Python’s I’m a Lumberjack.

bicycle-troops

Oh, I’m a Panzerkorps, and I’m OK,

I drive all night and I sleep all day.

I cut down trees for camouflage,

And daily ride my bike.

I wish we all had Panthers,

With petrol, like “Das Reich”.

Frankreich, Panzer V "Panther" im Gelände

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Big Numbers on the Ostfront

German Panzer Battalion from the author's collection. Each model represents approximately 30 tanks

German Panzer Battalion from the author’s collection. Each model represents about 30 tanks

One of the pleasures of operational gaming is ruminating on the relative numbers overall of various equipment. Authors are fond of telling histories in terms of events, with the odd number thrown in here and there for key equipment, but they rarely give information in a consistent form.

Wargamers love using the best kit, so sometimes you are left wondering if the Premier Division team that they have picked for the club night is really a good representation of what went on. I enjoy the battles in the corners: The ones that happen when a Panzerarmee is nowhere to be seen, but a divisional staff officer is left scraping cooks and drivers together to prevent a breakthrough that may be on its last legs.

2nd Tank Corps Break Into the Northern Advanced Line

Consequently, I am often left wondering if I have the proportions of tanks to antitank guns, or of aircraft to anti-aircraft correct. John Ellis is usually reliable in this respect, so his orbats and ToEs (Tables of Equipment), scaled by the odd figure that is thrown in by a unit history and rounded for NQM, work well.

Here is a previous guesstimate of equipment at GAZALA. When I applied the same reasoning to the eastern front for the 1943 Soviet summer offensive, Ziemke (1968) gives us on page 144:

German troop strength = 3,064,000 + 150-200,000 allies

German Tanks = 2,088

German Anti-tank guns = 8,063

Soviet troop strength = 5,755,000

Soviet Tanks = 7,855

Soviet Anti-tank guns = 21,050

These admitted German estimates give the Germans a 1:4 Tank Anti-tank ratio (actually 3.86) , and the Soviets nearly a nearly 1:3 ratio (actually 2.68).

Comparatively this gives a Soviet vs Axis superiority of:

Troops = 2:1 (actually 1.79:1)

Tanks = 4:1 (actually 3.76:1)

Anti-tank = 3:1 (actually 2.61:1)

This compares well with Zaloga and Grandsen’s (1984) table on page 223 of Stalingrad to Berlin of 9,200 Soviet AFVs vs 2,374 German AFVs in March 1943 on the Ostfront, a ratio of 3.88 :1. The same source tells us on page 222 that the German proportions of tanks to self-propelled guns to troop carriers was in roughly even proportions (1:1:1). By contrast, the Soviet production was 2 tanks to every assault gun and no significant production of armoured troop carriers.

Even allowing for all the usual provisos of serviceability, tactics and quality, this tells me that I should be allowing the Soviets 3+ tanks for every German AFV.

A separate, and interesting question, is “do all the anti tank weapon totals include anti tank rifles?” I suspect not, as the German ratio is higher, and the Soviets hung onto their anti-tank rifles for longer. A quick NQM ToE check gives the following numbers:

German panzer division5 Tanks, 2 Anti-tank guns (numbers fluctuated)

German infantry division = 0 Tanks, 3 Anti-tank guns

Soviet tank corps6 Tanks, 2 Anti-tank guns (for 1943, the numbers fluctuated)

Soviet infantry division0 Tanks,  3 Anti-tank guns (allowing the 76mm divisional gun an antitank role and counting the 3 regimental 47mm guns as one Sp3 gun.

If we estimate the tank to infantry division ratio on the Ostfront as:

German = 67 Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions versus 331 infantry divisions, (Just under 1:5). (I have taken the German army as a whole but ignored allies giving 335 NQM tanks to 1127 anti-tank guns, or 1 to 3.4.

Soviet = 60 tank and mechanised corps vs 413 rifle divisions (just under 1:7 giving 1 NQM tank to 3.8 anti-tank) from Ellis (1993)38, then these ratios seem reasonable without having to count anti-tank rifles. I do however, need to make sure that the Soviet armour is fielded at full strength or tone down the anti-tank to keep the ratio about right at 3:1. Likewise, the German tank strength needs a lid keeping on it to prevent it creeping too high.

Here is a picture of a Ratte to console the German players :

ratte

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Storm from the Northwest – Days 4 and 5

The Key Rail Junction

Day four of the offensive saw pressure intensify along the north of the line, giving X Korps little time to reorganise. Successive waves of Soviet infantry crashed into the main and reserve lines in numbers that made a breach somewhere in the line inevitable.

2nd Tank Corps Break Into the Northern Advanced Line

Heavy artillery support added to the defenders’ misery.

Army Level Artillery Close Up to the Front Line

When the breach came, it was from a stream of Soviet armour “swarming across the Steppe like rats” with tank riders dropping from the hulls to engage the hard-pressed Axis infantry, and keeping them away from the tanks that rumbled through the positions.

4th Tank Corps is Unstoppable4th Tank Corps Break Through the Main Line 2nd Corps break into the Northern Reserve Line

This mass of men and vehicles heading west needed some co-ordination. Phil’s modelling skills were up to the task, ensuring priority for a steady stream of heavy metal heading into the enemy rear.

Traffic Police Maintain OrderNight Draws in as 4th tank Corps Follows the Setting Sun

A stream of Landser began to head for VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK to reorganise in the security of the town.

Streams of Landser Fleeing SouthIn one of those serendipitous wargaming moments, Phil remarked that this was rather like the scene in Cross of Iron, where Sergeant Steiner waits a whole day to lead his platoon across a road being heavily trafficked by enemy troops. Twelve bases were involved, so I rolled 2D6 to see how many made it across. The score was 11, so the last lonely base will for ever more be known as “Steiner“!

4th Tank Corps Stream West

Link to the map

Some Game Reflections.

Despite the massively compressed ground scale that made this look more like a Hollywood Star Wars re-run, the narrative flowed in a coherent manner.

The decision reached on use of tank riders was that defending infantry small arms could selectively choose to attack tank riders as the attackers closed to win the firefight.

Tanks could ignore losses to riders and still break into a position, even if their losses to riders was higher than losses to defenders (normally this would cause the attackers to go to ground until reinforced).

Once on the position, tank riders could prevent defending infantry attacking tanks that remained on the position as light targets.

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