Category Archives: 15mm Miniatures Wargames

On the Workbench – Steroidal Scale Creep

I was looking forward to the PSC 15mm Fallschirmjäger pack and first impressions were favourable – it includes four of the 7.5 cm Leichtgeschütz 40. with  crew ….. Animation of the kneeling figures is a bit flat, but nothing that grouping them around the guns won’t hide.

The standing figures are nicely proportioned, but hang on … 20mm figures are creeping back into my collection by the back door .  Imagine my surprise when a kneeling PSC Jäger proved to be nearly as tall (13mm ground to eye when kneeling!) as a Standing Piggie. The oversized little scamps are creeping in on their knees, because the standing figures on the same PSC sprue measure in between 14 and 15mm ground to eye. It is very poor, and simply won’t do!

A stand of three strength pointsThis is not an optical illusion. The kneeling PSC chaps are only two millimetres shorter than the correctly sized standing Piggie.

That’s not all; the 6 pounder is not much smaller than the Airfix 1/76 version, both of which I have in my collection. The  barreI should be 2.54m long or 25.4mm. It actually measures 33mm, making the gun about 1/76 by my calcs. The situation is the same with the German early war heavy weapons – they look noticibly overscale compared to Piggies, Command Decision and Zvezda.

I already knew that the PSC SdKfz 251 is over scale compared to everyone else’s. It must be to fit the new oversized  grenadiers into. That’s a shame because the PSC boxes are otherwise excellent, but I probably won’t be buying many more now unless they are offering something that is unavailable elsewhere. If I had wanted 1/76 scale, I would have kept my original collection. Sigh, I wonder how overscale the medium trucks will be, and if anyone does scalecrept 12mm that will fit in with my 15s!

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, German Airforce, Modelling, Wehrmacht, WWII

Peter Pig Custom Packs

Operational wargamers know that packs of troops based on tactical company level games do not fill all the gaps in the orbats. Martin Goddard (who is a very nice chap) is besieged by requests from wargamers for items such as Goumiers or late war Waffen SS with captured Russian SMGs, so he is not going to sell many packs of Soviet pioneers or road mending gangs. This need not be an obstacle for an enterprising modeller with an eye for the main chance. I have bought enough packs over the years to fill my gaps from within the ranges, but if I were the pestering sort, this is what I would be asking for:

Soviet Infantry Division Pioneer BattalionThese Russian Pioneers are from the WW1 Range

Sappershttp://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/154:stanley-herbert-williams/

Range 8 – Custom Pack 1 :  Men Standing About, Waiting for Something to Happen.

Every Army has them, hanging around bridges, cook houses and headquarters.

Range 8 – Custom Pack 2 :  Chaps  in Shirtsleeves or Bare Chests and Wellies.

This pack has just shifted a ton of artillery ammunition. A few head packs will convert them to the nationality of your choice. Most often found hanging around big artillery pieces. If your preference is for Gunners Waving Gaily, then Martin is your man – his figures are full of animation, so far too exitable for big guns. To be fair though, he does have bare chested 8th Army Gunners. Some even have shells – Hurrah!

chest

This lucky infantry RHQ has the Army's only Nimrod AA attached for an important rearguard action

This lucky infantry RHQ has the Army’s only Nimrod AA attached for an important rearguard action

Range 8 – Custom Pack 3 :  Officers Pointing Importantly.

Fortunately, Martin already spreads these chaps liberally around his ranges. Sadly, the pack that he should have made – British Officers Looking Lost – never made it out of the moulds.

Range 8 – Custom Pack 3 : Trudging Infantry.

Trudging in SnowTrudging in snow.

Marching is what infantry do in front of the camera, especially Mussolini’s boys. The rest of the time, they trudge; occasionally they shamble. Usually, they do it with heavy loads of ammunition, or looted chickens. The early packs of PSC infantry were very good in this respect, the later packs have stumpier legs and are forced into more dramatic, but flatter, poses to compensate.

shamblingA bit more shambling going on here.

Range 8 – Custom Pack 5 : Squaddies Getting Pished.

This pack is a simple combination of a piano, seated driver and Brit drinking tea. Martin already makes dancing Cossacks; and for Dead Drunk Russians, a casualty pack is totally accurate. Look to the morale markers in other ranges. I successfully made a militiaman giving the middle finger out of the medieval Men Being Rude pack.

beutewagen

In 15mm, usually all that is needed to fool the eye is a thick coat of paint. Tim Gow is a firm believer in the idea that the dodgier the conversion, the bigger the Balkankreuz needs to be. I have looted figures from the Peter Pig WW1, AK47 and ACW ranges, slipping them in here and there like little Easter eggs for the discerning operational wargamer..

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More Midwinter Reflection

Phil's Soviets all fit in their boxfilePhil’s Soviet infantry all fit in their box file.

After any large NQM game, the armies involved undergo a period of rearming, refuelling and reorganisation. Simply putting everything back into its box took the best part of a lazy midwinter day.

I make notes as I do this to help with the building and painting plan. Units that fought well may advance up the painting pile. Poorly performing units may find themselves disbanded to reinforce other units.

Lost troops eventually find their way home (this happens quicker now that the boxes are catalogued online). New units are built – sometimes with a seeding of veteran troops from other units (read … rebasing!) Importantly, ersatztruppen are replaced with proper models as they become available, and are moved further down the orbats to re-equip second line units – more of that in later posts.

Points to ponder from the latest game:

  • The Pot Plant pin markers work nicely; they don’t stick in your fingers and are large enough to handle. I shall still use Party Balloon pin markers when occasion demands.

KV1 of 16 Motor Rifle Corps Breaks in

  • The First Aid Post pin markers failed the “are they actually used in a big game” test. It is easier to use pot plants or party balloons. The bases will be recycled as first aid posts for divisional headquarters.
  • I need markers for gapped minefields. A square of ply with some panel pins in ought to do it, with perhaps some cotton tape to mark the gap. Pontoon bridges should likewise be easy to fabricate from cork
  • YesThatPhil commented some time ago that there are too many infantry bases in NQM, which is fair enough. Whilst I like the flexibility that this brings, I don’t like the logistic embuggerance of moving them around – hence the sabot tinplate stand for a six base battalion.

Wehrmacht Fusileer BattalionOriginal battalion 75 x 50mm tin sabot fitting 6 strength points is the same as …

Battalion of two stands, each of three strength pointsA split battalion of 75 x two 25mm tin sabots totalling 6 strength points

  • There is no reason why an infantry battalion should not be modelled as two half battalion stands of 3 strength points each, to come into line with tanks and halftracks*. It speeds up combat as there is less moving around of individual bases.

Infantry Battalion of two Stands, each of three Strength PointsInfantry battalion of two 25 x 50mm stands, each of three strength points. One can no longer count the bases, as the battalion is equivalent to two FoW medium stands …

A stand of three strength points… Without the coins, the stand of three strength points looks like this.

  • As most WW2 gamers seem to use Flames of War (FoW, 64 by 50mm or 32 by 50mm) bases or Peter Pig 30mm bases, there is no reason these could not see service. A 30 x 60-75mm stand could replace  three round 25mm NQM coin bases or a couple of PBI bases. I don’t plan to rebase any of my old stuff, just snip out a few 25-30mm by 60mm tin sabot bases to accomodate them.** Happily, NQM does not care much about base sizes.
  • I am also coming to the view that, as the war progressed, the distinction at battalion level between fighting and support bases is irrelevant. Machine and anti-tank guns would be parcelled out to companies as required. Mortars would be sited to cover companies within the battalion, so I can ditch that distinction and model a battalion as two half-company stands of three strength points, with support weapons on the stand in representative quantities, and light anti-tank weapons integral to the stand, if the battalion has an anti-tank capability. This should make it easier for non-regular NQM players to use whatever they own to model infantry battalions***.

Infantry Regiment of two Battalions and an RHQInfantry regiment of two strength six battalions and a strength two RHQ using FoW medium sized stands.

Soviet regiment with two strength five battalions and an RHQSoviet regiment with two strength five battalions and a strength two RHQ using coins on a tin sabot.

That’s January sorted then!

*Megablitz has always had battalion stands from the very start.

**LittleHitler’s siren voice is wheedling that he could stretch three coin bases on a twenty five by seventy five millimetre stand to two bases on a thirty by sixty. It would eke limited German manpower out even further; you can’t fault him for trying. Reducing the density of lead in some of the infantry divisional boxes might be beneficial too. It would give Phil’s Gebirgsjäger division of nine Jäger bases, four and a half full-strength battalions instead of three half-strength ones. Roll on 1945!

***SmallStalin thinks this is a good idea too; his infantry strength is growing even as the German strength shrinks. Urrah!

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Logistics, Modelling, Orbats

MOSCOW Surrounded

20 Motorised Division Stops 2 Guards Mechanised Corps in its Tracks 20 Motorised Infantry Division halts the advance of 2 Guards Mechanised Corps

Depleted as they were from the previous Summer’s Drive on MOSCOW, 7 Panzer and 20 Motorised Infantry Divisions still managed to blunt the breakthrough by 1st Shock Army on the city’s southern flank. No less dangerous though, was the northern flank breach.

Soviet Infantry Break Through on the Northern Flank of MOSCOW

The initial bridgehead was widened until it burst through the reserve line and soon, long columns of Soviet infantry could be seen trudging through the snow on their way west.

Soviet Infantry approaching MOSCOW to Outflank it by the North

Dislodged from their prepared defences on the canal line, all the disorganised infantry defenders could do was fall back to the east or south into MOSCOW.

Attempts by 20 Motorised Infantry to halt the Soviet advance lacked vigour as they had yet to recover from halting 2 Guards Mechanised Corps. 7 Panzer Division  was in no shape to assist, having had its own battle with 1 Guards Tank Corps, so retired west to refuel and reorganise. As part of its reorganisation,  20 Motorised Infantry was redesignated 20 Panzer Grenadier Division.

The defenders in MOSCOW were in crisis, with continued enemy infantry attacks from the east and south, and the rail line of communication to the west in Soviet hands. LittleHitler formally declared MOSCOW to be a fortress even as a relief  by 3 Panzer Korps was prepared.

Retreating Fascist Forces see MOSCOW Dwindle in the Gathering Gloom Retreating Fascist Forces see MOSCOW Dwindle in the Gathering Gloom

Festung Moskau from Phil's Pb-eye Candy BlogSee More Frontline Soviet News Footage on P.B.Eye-Candy

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

Midwinter Reflection

2 Guards Mechanised Form Upo For the Attack in three columns2 Guards Mechanised form up for the attack in three columns of march

The fall of MOSCOW airfield marked the end of Phil’s visit to the games table. He left his Boxfiles behind as he plans to come back before New Year’s Eve. Naturally, I took the opportunity to photograph some of the contents and slot pictures into the orbats in place of some of my dodgier place-markers. A bit of rounding off happened too, during which the northern thrust around Moscow finally broke through the exhausted defenders. A hasty counterattack took back the airfield and southern defences, though not the eastern side of the riverbank. Flying into MOSCOW was going to be a precarious enterprise from now on, as the eastern end of the field would be under fire from across the River MOSKVA.

Over the past 30 years, head-on armoured battles have been a bit of a rarity (as you might expect from rules titled Not Quite Mechanised). During the course of the day I had been reflecting on the last time that armoured forces clashed at GAZALA. The comment then had been that something more formal was needed to cover the gaps. Phil is developing NQMsquared (or Megablitzsquared) and I’m happy that he is troubling to do the work on a system of squares that I enjoy playing, but don’t want to develop myself.

1 Shock Army is about to run head on into 7 Panzer Division in a mini PROKHOROVKA, so the battle rules will run like this:

As the lead elements of mobile forces run into each other, there will be an initial point contact as one or more bases touch each other at the head or front rank of the column. Resolve each combat in the normal way for winning the firefight.

When mobile stands fight enemy stands of different armour value in this way, everyone at the point of contact may choose which stand to direct their fire onto.*

The winner may:

  • Advance in contact (if mobility = or better than enemy mobility).
  • Hold fast.
  • Break off combat (if mobility is better than enemy mobility, or the enemy does not wish to remain in combat) to make contact with a command or logistic stand, where they can reorganise pins away as long as they are out of contact with enemy bases and not under fire from artillery. This takes a whole move.
  • Reinforce the combat with any other troops that are mobile enough to enter the combat.

The loser may:

  • Fall back in contact with the winner, if the loser is mobile enough (otherwise the loser can be bypassed if the winner chooses, and be engaged by follow-on forces who so choose).
    • If the enemy does not wish to advance, the loser may remain in combat for another round, morale permitting.
    • If the enemy wishes to remain in contact with the loser, and is mobile enough, he may do so.
  • Break off contact (if loser’s mobility is better than enemy mobility).
  • Fall back behind unengaged friendly troops, who will halt the enemy and engage him.
  • Mobile logistic stands can fight, but must fall back to their maximum limit in the face of the enemy as they attempt to fight.
  • If logistic stands are in prepared defences, they can halt a mobile enemy and fight, but can only halt non-armoured troops.
    • This means that armoured troops can choose to pass through logistic units without fighting them.
    • If logistic troops lose a combat from a defensive position, they must fall back in the normal way.
    • If they are passed through as described they may remain in position.
  • Fall back out of combat, into contact with a command or logistic stand, where they can reorganise pins away as long as they are out of contact with enemy bases and not under fire from artillery. This takes a whole move.

Example 1:

  • A PzIII stand (M armour, M gun) contacts a T-70 (L armour, L gun). The PzIII puts a pin onto the T-70 which elects to fall back.
  • The PzIII is joined by a SdKfz stand (L armour, L gun) from the second rank of the advancing column, as it advances to maintain contact. On the second round of combat the T-70 takes two pins and chooses to fire at the (L) Sdkfz causing one pin.
  • The T-70 falls back again to find a logistic stand but the Fascists advance to keep it in contact and are joined in the front rank by a command stand. On the third round of combat the T-70 takes no pins and chooses to fire at the unarmoured command stand, treating it as a (M) gun firing at a (L) target** causing one pin.

It can be seen in the picture at the top of the page that 2 Guards Mechanised Division is formed up in three columns of attack. Each column has armour at the head, followed by supporting infantry, then support (S), command (C) and logistic (L) stands.

*British commanders in the Western Desert complained on occasion that their anti-tank gunners shot up softskins in preference to armour, as it was easier to ‘brew them up’

** Remember that all armour and gun values are relative to each other. We reason that 45mm guns firing armour piercing (AP) at medium tanks would have a light effect, but the same guns firing AP or HE at unarmoured targets would have a medium effect.

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Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Rules Examples, tank, Wargames, WWII

Winter Offensive Breaches the Walls of MOSCOW

No sooner had news of the breakthrough and loss of KALININ reached the commander of Army Group Centre, then reports of attacks along the line of the MOSKVA-VOLGA Canal began flooding in.*

MOSCOW from the SoutheastMOSCOW

Attacking the MOSCOW-VOLGA Canal Line looking SouthThe MOSKVA-VOLGA Canal looking south

Pressure mounted north of MOSCOW, with the canal line coming under heavy attack from successive waves of infantry, supported by Sturmoviks and Army level artillery.

Attacks Increase North of MOSCOW

 Corps commanders were initially confident, but as pressure mounted, it became clear that defensive lines were buckling to the north and south of MOSCOW.

The Canal Line North of MOSCOW is Breached

The Canal Line North of MOSCOW was Breached

The Airfield South of MOSCOW comes under Heavy PressureThe airfield came under heavy pressure

Elements of 10 Cavalry Corps and 1 Shock Army, comprising 1 Guards Tank Division, 2 Guards Mechanised Division were observed pouring through the breached defensive line south of MOSCOW, leaving the infantry of 18 Guards Rifle Division to roll up and protect the flank.

As successive waves of troops battered the airfield defences, first the entrenched Bavarians  of 17 Infantry Division, then the hastily pressed Luftwaffe ground crew, gave way, pulling back to the southern suburbs of MOSCOW. Soon, Soviet guards banners were seen fluttering over the eastern outskirts of the city as engineers hastily improved the river crossings that had allowed the leading waves of 1 Shock Army to cross the frozen river MOSKVA.**

The Walls of MOSCOW are BreachedThe walls of MOSCOW were breached and the airfield overrun

Hard-pressed Defenders fall back to the SuburbsHard-pressed defenders fell back to the suburbs under pressure from 1 Guards Rifle Division

Urgent signals were sent to Army Group Centre, and thence to 3 Panzer Korps. Would the counterattack prevent MOSCOW being encircled? To find out would require the table to be reconfigured again to place the long axis facing east-west.

*YesthatPhil turned up for this one, with much-needed Soviet reinforcements, and boar paté. It being Christmas, there was Port! The table had been reconfigured to place MOSCOW in the centre, allowing it to be outflanked to north and south, if required.

** Some serious paper, card and cork engineering was taking place as the Fascists dug into the tabletop with paper earthworks and the Soviets forged gaps through the minefields and flung pontoon bridges over the frozen river MOSKVA

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KALININ Falls!

As the commander of Army Group Centre watched the Soviet offensive open in front of him, It became clear that the weight of the attack was falling, not on MOSCOW, but on KALININ.

8th Jaeger Withdraws North of KALININ

The already reduced 8 Jäger Division bore the brunt of the opening attack, situated as it was to the north of the VOLGA river along the railway line to the vital rail junction of VELIKIYE LUKI. The Jägers fell back steadily over two days to the west of KALININ, extracting a price, but taking heavy casualties as they did so.

8 Jaeger Withdraws North of KALININ

 27 Army was identified as the controlling enemy formation HQ. As it drew level with KALININ, the leading divisions swung south to attack the city, with Sturmovik and army level artillery support. Already, Wehrmacht reserve divisions were moving to cover the rail bridge crossing the VOLGA, but the main line from VELIKIYE LUKI to MOSCOW was now in Soviet hands.

37 Rifle Division Attacks South into KALININ

The defenders of KALININ, 161 Infantry Division, were unprepared for the ferocity of the attack by 37 Rifle Division. Despite losses to the minefields and prepared defences, and spirited counterattacks by the defenders, first the outskirts, then the centre of the city fell. 

36 Rifle Division Seizes a VOLGA Bridge

A seesaw battle for the river crossing commenced as the leading elements of 36 Rifle Division seized the southern bank in the face of elements of 256 Infantry Division that were rushing to secure the bridge. 8 Jäger Division, reduced to a regimental headquarters and company of infantry, managed to throw the Soviets back to the northern edge of the bridge just long enough to allow 256 Infantry to open a route to KALININ. Through this, the survivors of the city poured, leaving their heavy weapons behind. The bridge was blown in the face of the leading Soviet assault parties.

Back in his FührerBoxfile, LittleHitler was foaming at the mouth with fury at the loss of KALININ and the commander of 161 Infantry was summoned to explain himself. A professional withdrawal under fire, over a bridge being attacked by the enemy, did nothing to save him. The division was ordered to be shipped to France to refit, but its commander and senior staff found themselves stripped of their rank and sent to a penal battalion.

The Line is Breached North of KALINEN

Meanwhile, a serious breach in the front had opened between XX Korps at KALININ and X Korps to their north. With armoured forces concentrated in the South and around MOSCOW, little stood in the way of the advancing divisions, The Luftwaffe had little success in divining the extent of the breakthrough either, as the flanks of the attack were patrolled by large numbers of Soviet fighters.

To be continued …

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

Merry Christmas – Festive Games!

As the Season of Goodwill closes relentlessly upon us, it is time to celebrate with Festive Games. As anyone who works in the Media knows, the preparation work has to be done early, so suspend your disbelief at the realistic snow effects* and enjoy the first two inaugural games in the Rustic Lean-to.

Indoor Chariot Racing.

IMG_7731

Nuff said!

True Scale WH40K Baneblade Simulator.

Baneblade Imperial Guard, Super-heavy Tank

This one requires some rules:

Ork_Stikk_Bommas

Rule 1.

The Ork has to throw a Stikkbomm through the open commander’s hatch of the Baneblade.

Rule 2.

The Baneblade Commander retalliates by using his/her Chainsword to decapitate the Ork Stikkbommas.

How the Game Went.

The Baneblade Commander had a little trouble initially, finding a stepladder tall enough to peer out of the commander’s hatch.

Her chainsword proved too short to reach any of the attacking stikkbommas, but was useful for batting bomms back down onto the heads of the attacking boyz. Four bommas met their end in this fashion. A stikkbomm went through the hatch on the 5th attempt.

Baneblade Commander

The Commander seems unworried by her recent demise

Baneblade console

View from the Commander’s hatch – with added rivets!

Merry Christmas!

 

*only available in December

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Moscow Front Winter ’42 – Spring ’43

The Winter offensive of 1942 started with Soviet forces breaking through the Axis front lines North of  KALININ (Кали́нин). Once this offensive was underway, Forces in front of MOSCOW took up the offensive, denying the Wehrmacht the opportunity of counterattacking with reserve forces.

Soviet 27th Infantry Corps attacking West, viewed from the NorthThe Red Hordes Advance West

 

KALENIN looking SouthKALININ

 

Axis Main Defensive Line looking South to MOSCOWLooking South to MOSCOW

I shock Army attacking MOSCOW looking SouthIst Shock Army attacking MOSCOW looking South

 

MOSCOW looking NorthwestMOSCOW looking West

 

7 Panzer and 20 Motorised Divisions Regrouping West of MOSCOW7 Panzer and 20 Motorised Divisions

 

Soviet ariel reconnaisance reveals German Armoured Concentrations

 

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Bergepanzer III and IV

Enough Sheddery, and trucking about; here are some proper tanks! The Bergepanzer III is a conversion of an overscale Austrian 1/87 jobbie that has been in my collection for ever, but will look fine next to some of my big trucks. The Bergepanzer IV is an old RoCo that did brief service in my AK47 collection. They bring some much-needed endurance to the Wehrmacht.

Bergepanzer III and IV WIPA simple card box on the III, a card plate on the IV, some bits, and that’s about it.

Bergepanzer II and IV undercoatTrue-scale undercoat on the unpainted bits, including the commander of the III.

Bergepanzer III and IV frontView from the front.

Bergepanzer III and IV threequarter view… and the side. Ready to roll.

Apparently, Inland Revenue has an app now, for scouring the internet to expose hidden income. For the books, here is an example of my rock-and-roll lifestyle:

Waking up after a night on the tilesThe morning after a night on the tiles!

Power Tools and BeerPower tools and beer – ideal companions!

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Logistics, Modelling, tank, Wehrmacht, WWII