Category Archives: Air Forces

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 6

Hurricanes Blenheim MitchellG50

Hurricanes Blenheim Mitchell G50

The Desert Airforce has been languishing on my “to do” list for some time, so with 6 days to go, I had a roundel party. My dislike of decals is well known, so freestyle it was. Sixty roundels later the job was done.

Hurricane Wing

Hurricane Wings

They are by no means perfect, but they pass the three foot test. The camera is never as kind, but it means that the Hurricane wings will not fly into action naked. The picture was taken midway between painting fuselage letters on. I’m going with the accepted convention of spinner discs for most of them, being more robust than props. The G 50 is not lost, it needed markings too.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Air Forces, Modelling, RAF and Commonwealth AFs, Regia Aeronautica, Western Desert, WWII

Rebasing

The very mention of the word sends a shudder through us. We vow that we will never do it (again), so I haven’t been rebasing anything: just reorganising a few Eastern Front divisions to reflect mid war orbats … I’m not fooling anyone, am I?

You may remember the changes that began back on the 8th of January, 2016 to speed up moving the toys around? No? The essence is that you can use whatever you want to depict stands of 3 Strength Points. My current standard is using Flames of War sized bases because they are roughly the size of a 3SP vehicle base. Failing that, a couple of 30mm bases butted together  achieves the same objective. This is a WIP Soviet support base of 3SP, and the reorganised division that it lives in

Soviet NQM Mid War Reduced ORBAT

I still have older orbats around, but they have gradually been reorganising to the new leaner orbats. Here is a Fallschirmjäger Division.

The four bases on the right are Luftwaffe ground crew. Kudos to Will McNally, who has rebased squillions of Renaissance figures. I have managed about 420!

 

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Filed under German Airforce, Modelling, Soviet Army, WWII

Soviet Winter Offensive Jan 1943 Desantny

The Soviet Winter Offensive taxed the Luftwaffe to the limit, with servicability dropping as ground crews struggled in atrocious conditions to keep airframes ready for operations, and airstrips clear for flying.

Tante Ju

One such airfield (Flugplatz Lotti) near VELIKIE LUKIE, was thought to be safely beyond the reach of the enemy. It contained four Geschwäder : JG 54 (Bf 109), KG76 (Ju 88), StG 1 (Ju 87), KG zbV 102 (Ju 52) and a NaGruppe with Uhus.

Flugplatz Lotti

See Phil’s blog for his thoughts on the use of Soviet desantny forces. The two regiments that he deployed brought with them T-60 tanks and the spearhead of the tank and mechanised corps that had broken through from VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK.

The Outer Defences of Lotti are Assailed

Although the Airfield was defended by two reduced regiments of well-armed Luftwaffe ground troops, their morale was simply not up to the task of holding the airfield. An undignified scramble of aircraft and logistic units exiting the base was observed as the unlucky defenders desperately hung on to the perimeter

Logistic Units Scramble for Safety

Before long, Soviets were swarming over the airfield. They have been doing that a lot of late. Casualties were heavy

Game Notes

YesThatPhil got the chance to showcase his new Peter Pig Soviet Scouts. I gave my rebased Luftwaffe field division its second airing. It behaved commendably badly, as one might epect. The air base was laid out in advance and Phil’s brief was:

“commit what you think that you need to take the airfield.”

He finished the job in about an hour of playing, which enabled the whole scenario to be finished from start to finish in about two hours. Coffee, chocolate, cheese and biscuits stopped anyone from starving.

I rated the Luftwaffe division as conscript and the Soviets as veteran.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Air Forces, Axis War Diary, German Airforce, Land Battles, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, WWII

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  barrel should be 2.54m long or 25.4mm. It actually measures 33mm, making the gun about 1/76 by my calculations. 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

On the Workbench – Ground Crews

As aircraft fly in to the NQM boxes, they need ground crew to keep them in the air. My last purchase of Skytrex Italians left me with a fair number of spare figures, even after building a couple of infantry divisions. I could find very little by way of original pictures of Italian or Soviet ground support equipment- generator trailers and the like – so it left me a free hand to improvise with the central part of an Airfix 8.8cm Flak bogie in 20mm scale. A couple of spare wheels glued on was all it took.

Soviet Ground Crews with generator trailers

The Italians fared better with a couple of bicycles and some 1/300th scale signal bodies doubling as generators.

Italian Ground Crew

Finally, a couple of figures chopped off at the legs provided a dug-in security detachment.

Italian Airfield Security Detachments

Here they are with slightly more than an undercoat on them.

Signals Truck Painted

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Air Forces, Modelling

PSC Fallschirmjägers Announced

PSC FallschirmJaegers

I had been looking forward to the release of the Plastic Soldier Company Fallschirmjägers, and particularly their heavy weapons, so it is  disappointing to see that they have continued the 15mm trend set by Flames of War to produce stumpy figures with no abdomens. These figures have been “Warhammered” to scale a 20mm figure down to 15mm size.

*Sigh* Folk will love them; sales will boom and it is the sensible commercial choice, but my choice of true-scale figure packs is limited to the original two that PSC brought out. On the bright side, if I paint the faces green, they will be perfect for Orkschirmjäger ’45K™. Moving swiftly on …

It goes without saying that every time I get pompous about unrealistic, pumped-up sculpting, the net proves me wrong!

Fat para 2

Above: Realistic sculpt.

Fat Fallschirmjaeger

… The life model class that it was taken from.

The mystery of why the Luftwaffe felt obliged to develop the Me-323 Gigant transporter is solved at last; it was nothing to do with airlifting tanks at all.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, German Airforce, Infantry, Modelling, Off Topic, WWII

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 July 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 Division “Krasnoselskaya Red Banner orders of Suvurov and Kutuzov
      • 15th Guards Assault Aviation Regiment – Il-2 Stormovik (s3)
      • 566th Assault Aviation Regiment – Il-2 Stormovik (s3)
      • 943rd Assault Aviation Regiment – Il-2 Stormovik (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 (Motorised)** – 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 10
      • Stab/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 7
      • Stab/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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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Air Forces, Eastern Front, Orbats, WWII

Ramke Arrives in Nord Afrika

I have painted enough Fallschirmjäger to begin to put the Ramke Parachute Brigade together.

Fallschirmjaeger RHQ with TransportRegimental Headquarters with Recce and an Airfield Security Detachment

FallschirmJaeger RHQArtillery and Anti-tank Batteries

Fallschirmjaeger AbteilungFallschirmjäger Abteilung x 3

Ramke is having to borrow  equipment from wherever he finds it at the moment, but I am sure that it is not going to daunt a dynamic chap like him. Troops in boxes close to him are doubling the pickets on their vehicle parks, just in case!

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

Megablitz – France 1940 – Part 1

Tim Gow’s latest Megablitz game was held at the Defence Academy’s Tank Sheds again. He offered me the role of Air Umpire once more, in the mistaken belief that it would “keep me out of mischief”. Unsupervised with Luftflotte 2 and l’Armée de l’Air! What could possibly go wrong? This time, after pre-game pestering, Tim brought ground crew along, but I added a few 20mm trucks of my own and left them with Tim afterwards (‘cos he clearly does not have enough!).

air04 A sleepy day on an aerodrome somewhere in France ‘NICOLE‘ SE

The French Général de Corps Aérien Bout de Souffle got off to a splendid start by deciding to name all 6 airstrips under his command after wives and mistresses. Unfortunately no-one else understood this, so referred to them by their locations of  north (east, centre, west) and south (east, centre, west). In general fighters were staged to the east and bombers to the west. The command structure, which proved key, imposed an extra level of command on the French compared to the Luftwaffe.

air00

A plan for air patrols was agreed in principal, and business of the day was concluded. Bout de Souffle had people who could handle that level of detail and headed  to PARIS for some well-earned leave. Mon General Bassett was astute enough to realise that orders issued one day in advance would be useful and two days even better. So when the first Luftwaffe airstrikes came in, the impotent French pilots could only watch from their deckchairs, with no orders to intercept!

IMG_1051The first heavy Luftwaffe strike of the day onto 53rd Infantry Division. NICOLE can just be seen to the top left of the picture

air03Home for beer, bratwurst and medals!

The Germans were dogged by the need to channel all requests for air support through HQ West and had decided early on to concentrate air assets rather than penny-packeting. This meant that when the Luftflotte turned up, it at least had some effect, but was limited to one sortie a day per unit. It wasn’t long before cries of  ‘wo is die Luftwaffe?‘ were heard across the advancing German panzer park as it rolled over the northern French plains at a brisk tempo previously unseen in modern warfare.

air14In the top left of the picture on day two, a Fieseler Storch recce flight struggles to keep up with the advance. In the lower centre, ground crew at CLAIRE (N Centre) destroy fighters prior to retreating.

This caused the Germans some problems, as the Luftwaffe recce reports sometimes ran along the lines of  ‘The town and bridge are full of panzers heading west!‘  The air traffic was not all one-sided on the second day, as a lone squadron of Bloch MB 210 bombers with fighter support caused havoc and delay amongst the supporting Wehrmacht infantry korps, if not actual casualties.

air07The ‘Landser’ scatter under air attack as bombers lumber overhead and air aces duel for possession of the sky.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Air Forces, German Airforce, Wargames, WWII

Vorsprung Durch Plastik

The divisional workshop of 21st Panzer Division put this captured Dodge fuel bowser to immediate use, but threw their hands up in despair when they saw the hotwheels!

beutewagen

A little spanner work saw 4 shiny new tyres from a 1/87 Roco set replacing the, frankly alarming, originals. With a proper set of desert tyres, this will be a welcome addition to 21st Panzer. The divisional quartermaster has painted Balkenkreutze onto the cab doors before the Desert Air Force gets any ideas about claiming it back!

faunZR

This intriguing photograph looks like a Faun ZR Tank tractor and trailer with three fuel tanks on the trailer (Update: Confirmed as a Hanomag SS-100 by YesthatPhil),  but other than that, I know nothing about it at all.

Famo-1

The  trailer appears to be this one above.  A Sonder Anhänger 116. Any ideas on unit anyone?

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Filed under Air Forces, Modelling, Trucks, Western Desert, WWII