Back in the Good Old Days of the basement in Knox Road, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, my collection was mostly 1/72 or 20mm with 1/87 Roco and 1/76 stuff thrown in too. That I have any pictures at all of this era of non-digital photography is thanks to the good auspices of Tim Gow and others. Pictures date from Knuston Hall, The display hall at Tradewinds in Wellingborough, and the basement at Knox Road in Wellingborough. Most of them have already appeared on Tim Gow’s Megablitz and More Blog.
If you recognise yourself in any of these photos, please post a comment. The chap in the Nordic sweater looks like a young Rich Madder.
The Finger of Doom is pointing to the Soviet mechanised corps that was missed by recce initially, so which appeared in the flank of the Wehrmacht rear echelons as they poured down the road, and in the rear of the panzers as they swung back in to attack the city.
On this table XLVIII Panzer Corps is heading right to left (North) to hit the western edge of the first Soviet defensive lines. GERTSOVKA is the town centred in the foreground, with 3Pz, Grossdeutschland and 11Pz advancing to the west of the River VORSKLA towards 71 and 67 Guards Rifles. BUTOVO can be seen in the centre of the advance . Behind them, IISS Panzer Corps with three SS divisions – Liebstandarte, Das Reich and Totenkopf are getting off to a shaky start against 52 Guards Rifles. The rather splendid castle in the background is the city of BELGOROD, guarded by 375 Rifle Division. Marshall Wyler elected to defend a little further back than his real-life Soviet counterpart, perhaps hoping that the Hitlerite wonder tanks would all break down or burst into flames before any real fighting needed to be done.
Featuring rather too prominently in this shot is a cardboard marker issued in lieu of a truck. The use of 1/300th buildings is clear too.
Looking to the right of the picture (south) the Rivers PENA (foreground) and VORSKLA are guarded by 31 Tank Corps, 3 Mech Corps and 5 Guards Tank Corps. This second line of massed armour with lend-lease Shermans, and KV-1s in their assembly areas was not called on to fight as the Germans never succeeded in decisively breaking the first defensive line at CHERKASSKOYE.
I hadn’t appreciated how cheek by jowl the Kursk offensive was until we started laying toys onto the table, and I kept thinking “there is far too much stuff on the German side”. Checking afterwards though, the groundscale had been about right, there was indeed too much German armour with no room to manoevre, and no choice but to attack a well prepared Soviet defence head-on. IISS Panzer Corps was particularly affected by this as the photo shows above. The offensive is well under way now. 332 and 167 Infantry Divisions can be seen following the panzers. Hoth’s 4th Panzer Army is an impressive sight for the moment!
Looking west towards BELGOROD we can see the first Soviet defensive line being overrun with 52 Guards Rifles and 375 Rifle Division going down fighting. We started running out of casualty markers very early on in the game. Fortunately, Graham Evans had brought lots of curtain rings along, and I had tile spacers…. The overall Soviet commander, Will Whyler, held his nerve in typical style: “The weight of history is on our side comrades!”.
39 Rifle Division and 92 Guards Rifles hold their sector of the reserve line. With enough time, the Axis players may have eventually breached the reserve line, but at the cost of most of the fighting strength of the panzer army. It was noticeable that once the fighting started, the commanders tended to be sucked into the battle – “Just one more attack will see them break”. One unintended consequence of this game is that it may have shown Tim Gow the possibilities of an overstuffed table. He has developed the idea since way beyond anything that I could ever muster … :O)