Category Archives: Artillery

Sturmgeschutz IV PSC Conversion

PSC StuG III Superstructure and PzIV hull

PSC StuG III Superstructure and Pz IV hull

 

The success of the Sturmgeschutz III led to a demand for more hulls than could be produced from Alkett, the existing manufacturer of the Pz III chassis. The G variant was by far the commonest, in excess of 8,000 being produced from December 1942 until the end of the war.¹

Krupp were called in, as manufacturers of the Pz IV chassis, and the simple expedient of adding the StuG III superstructure to the Pz IV was adopted. An extended box was necessary to accomodate the drivers position on the PzIV hull, but little else needed to be done. Production only started in November 1943, when the Alkett factory suffered severe bomb damage.

Second Cut to Mate Superstructure to Hull

Second Cut to Mate Superstructure to Hull

The StuG IV did not suffer from the nose heaviness of the Jagdpanzer IV, an ostensibly better design on paper that earned the nickname of “Guderian’s Duck”² from its habit of nosediving into anything soft or wet. Roughly equal numbers were produced of each design: 1,141 StuG IVs compared to 1,208 Jagdpanzer IVs.

Add Driver's Armoured Box

Add Driver’s Armoured Box

My conversion was a simple cut-and-shunt of a PSC StuG III top onto a Pz IV hull. The driver’s box came from scrap plastic and card. Nothing much to it really.

With the old 2-part PSC tracks, the method of assembly that works for me is to stick the top half of the track to the idler assembly, then stick it to the tank hull. Once everything is dry, the bottom half goes on fairly easily. Finally the front and back wheels go on.

Doh! - Loaders Hatches Should be Fore and Aft

Doh! – Loaders Hatches Should be Fore and Aft

Full marks to PSC for doing a StuG III rather than a JgdPz IV, and for adding the new one-piece tracks in retrospect to existing boxes of (PzIV) kits. I’ve remarked before on PSC’s generosity of spirit in this respect, after all, the costs of doing it are relatively small.. Now I’m waiting eagerly for the SU-76.

Correctly Assembled StuG IV

Correctly Assembled StuG IV

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_armored_fighting_vehicle_production_during_World_War_II gives total war production of Stug III A-E of 825 and F-G 8,593; of which only 366 were Fs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturmgesch%C3%BCtz_III). Aditionally 1,217 StuH 42s were produced with the 10.5cm Howitzer.
  2. This was rather unfair, as Guderian had opposed their production in the first place – but Hitler liked them, so they went ahead.
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Filed under Artillery, Modelling, tank, Wehrmacht, WWII

LENINGRAD Counteroffensive (3)

The LENINGRAD Front Artillery Masses

The LENINGRAD Front Artillery Masses

As the third day of the counterofensive dawned, leading squadrons of 9 Cavalry Division probed the minefields fronting the 58 Infantry Division position. Early attacks were repulsed easily, but these masked Soviet pioneer companies  moving up to breach safe lanes for 13 Motor Rifle Division.

Short Daylight Hours do not Halt the Offensive

Short Daylight Hours do not Halt the Offensive

A second wave of cavalry, supported by artillery and airstrikes was on the brink of succeeding, but morale failed at a critical point in the assault under a well-timed counterattack from 58 Division’s reserve regiment.

9 Cav Retreats as 13 MR Advances

9 Cavalry Retreats as 13 MR Advances

To the north, the southern defenders of LENINGRAD  were firing onto 13 Motor Rifle Division, in the hope of inflicting significant casualties, but the division maintained its own advance westwards and ignored the pinpricks to its flank.

13 MR Assaults 58 Inf

13 MR Assaults 58 Inf

As the remnants of 9 Cavalry withdrew to the east, more airstrikes paved the way for 13 Motor Rifle to breach 58 Infantry’s northern flank.

Another Wave of Bombers Pound 58 Inf

Another Wave of Bombers Pound 58 Inf

Airstrike Hits 58 Inf with Devastating Results

Airstrike Hits 58 Inf with Devastating Results

Under pressure, the division made its way back  to the airfield at ORIENBAUM. Ju-52s had been ferrying supplies in to LENINGRAD, and casualties out, until the very last moment; but now the last Tante Jus lumbered off westwards, escorted by Fw-190s. After reorganisation, the fighting strength of 9 Cavalry was down to 50%

Overworked Luftwaffe at Flugplatz ORANIENBAUM

Overworked Luftwaffe at Flugplatz ORANIENBAUM

4 Guards Rifle Division and 27 Rifle Division continued to press forward into the eastern defences, gaining ground, then losing it, before subjecting the area to such a fierce combined air and artillery bombardment that the area was left an uninhabitable ruin to defender and attacker alike. ¹

Eastern LENINGRAD in Flames

Eastern LENINGRAD in Flames

28 Rifle Div Breaches East LENINGRAD

28 Rifle Div Breaches East LENINGRAD

4 GR Assaults from the North

4 GR Assaults from the North

4 GR Breaches LENINGRAD from the North

4 GR Breaches LENINGRAD from the North

As the attacks bore in on the outskirts of LENINGRAD, army and front-level artillery added their weight to the assault, exacting a severe toll on the defenders.² The centre of LENINGRAD  began to fill with displaced units and the first bridges over the NEVA were demolished by the rearguard³

LENINGRAD Breached from the North and East

LENINGRAD Breached from the North and East

To be continued …

Game notes:

  1. The first time we ran this sequence, the defender’s reserve regiment managed to evict the attackers. Phil pointed out, quite reasonably, that the bombardment should have fallen on the reserves as well. We re-ran it and this time the defenders were wiped out but the attackers failed their morale due to casualties and withdrew disorganised.
  2. I have been waiting for some years to use my Long Tom masquerading as a 203mm B-4M. We graded it as extra-heavy and  used a red die, which rolled a gratifying number of ones! It can be seen that a Long Tom looks nothing like a B-4M, but I didn’t know that in pre-internet days.B-4M in its firing position.
  3. Shortage of real estate will become critical for the defenders in this game. If there is no space for units, it will force them to reorganise and consolidate stands in order to fit into the space available. It should also be noted that the logistic units can defend, but not counterattack.
  4. The outskirts an roads of LENINGRAD were counted as medium defences. We counted the centre as heavy.
  5. The airstrike on 58 Inf was the most devastating use of heavy dice that anyone can recall. The VVS regiments involved have all been promoted to Guards status!

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

11th Honourable Artillery Company RHA

These splendid chaps fought through the GAZALA battles with 25 pdrs in the KNIGHTSBRIDGE box with the Guards Brigade, before being re-equipped with Priest self-propelled guns for 2nd Alamein and fighting with 1st Armoured Division. I have chosen to model the company with a priest, because A, I have one, and B, it provides some variety from the hordes of 25 pdrs that I need to model. PSC carrier crews provided the gunners, with a Peter Pig seated driver furnishing the obligatory “Officer with Map”

I’m currently trying to build extra limbers and to find out if the priests towed them, or used Kangaroos as limbers, or trucks, as I have modelled.

After munching through a PSC box of nine Universal Carriers, and adding five Loyd Carriers* to the eight or so Piggie carriers that I already own, it is clear that I still need more; in particular, FOOs to bulk out my artillery regiments. There is photographic evidence of FOOs in Morris and CMP trucks, and Dingos, but the carriers are such good value, and perfect for the job. More Quads are on the cards too.

* As far as I know, no Loyd carriers made it to North Africa, but they will do as placeholders. (The temptation to write Lloyd is overwhelming)

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1st Armoured Division at ALAMEIN

1st Armoured Division in Box 37 has been getting a bit of work done to it over the weekend. They had a reorganisation and all their divisional tactical signs added, as best I can judge. For amusement, have a close look at the divisional Rhinos. With a bit of imagination, you can see pigs, poodles and sheep pretending to be rhinos. It’s why I dont usually bother in this scale (I’m not fond of transfers either!). The whole exercise took longer than I thought, but was fun.

I came across this photo of 11th Honourable Artillery Company, and was surprised to see that the Div flash is on the wrong side – so I have reproduced it as seen.

The odd-looking 6pdr on a plastic hotwheels truck that is lurking in the top right of the photo above, is a placeholder for a Deacon.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, Infantry, Modelling, tank, Trucks, Western Desert, WWII

PSC Universal Carriers, and FoW India Pattern Carrier – WIP

 

The Universal Carrier was the workhorse that grew out of the pre-war tankette programmes, and which survived when the tankettes became outclassed by heavier tanks. It found its niche as a light-armoured personel carrier, being superceded in the British army by the US-produced M3 half track, and eventually by the FV432; but not before some 113,000 had been built according to Wickipedia.

PSC have produced a game-changer with their 15mm box of 9 carriers. The variations available have cracked open the market, with a plethora of spare crew and accessories to use after your preferred choice of model has been built.

I doubt if many gamers will be building seven FOO versions straight out of the box – but you can if you want to, and that is the strength of this offering. In price and flexibility they knock the spots of everyone’s resin offerings; okay, so you have to stick them together. Grow a spine youngsters, you are living in the Golden Age of 15mm kit offerings!

My motley crew are undercoated, tarted up with a few extra FOOs and heading off to their artillery regiments for active service. A couple are left for a Soviet lendlease example used by the divisional scout company,  and a spare carrier for a motor rifle battalion.

That just leaves the India Pattern Carrier, a FoW resin offering that has been waiting for some Sikh crew. Spare PSC bodies from the carrier set and a couple of Peter Pig heads completed the job. Here they are in all their silver-headed glory, waiting for some paint – Raman Singh and Jamansing*. The Soviet crew in the carrier behind are from the Command Decision tank Riders, and a PP Scout Commisar.

*Jamansing is a Gurung. I’m not quite sure how he ended up in a Punjabi regiment.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, Modelling, Western Desert, WWII

On the Workbench – PSC StugIII Part 2

PSC Stug IIIs with Stowage

With a face that only a mother could love, the StugIII is ugliness personified, yet it extended the use of the PzIII chassis to the end of the war in four ways:

  1. It was cheaper to build (82,500 Reichsmarks (RM) compared to 103,163 RM for a Pz III, and faster too – no turret.
  2. The profile was lower, making it harder to hit – did I mention the turret?
  3. By employing artillery crews, it put more guns and troops under armour at a time when the panzer arm was struggling to keep its strength up.
  4.  By limiting the traverse of the long 75mm gun, it enabled it to be mounted on a lighter, existing chassis without shaking it, or the crew, to bits with the recoil.

So throwing a heap of stowage onto the back of mine only enhanced the brutalist Corbusier look that was going on. PSC is very generous in the amount of stowage that it adds to its sprues*, so a pile has been added to the back decks.

IMG_7752 (3)

All the photo tutorials argue that natural lighting is a bad thing, casting shadows. But hang on, isn’t that how we view objects in true-scale?

*Customer feedback – throwing extras into a kit increases sales, it does not diminish them. I get two models out of some of PSC’s sprues, but it does not mean that I buy half as many kits as a result.

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On the Workbench – PSC 15mm Sturmgeschütze

IMG_7770 (2)

The Sturmgeschütz sprue gives the option to make up later variants of the gun from G onwards with the earlier box mantlet or the Saukopf. With a bit of creative bodging, two models will come out of this sprue, as long as you are happy to have an early and a late G model respectively.

I’m fairly relaxed about mocking up close approximates of tracks from dowel and card, but it struck me that I had a redundant old RoCoPz IV in 1/87 scale, so the tracks were cut down to make a “close enough” match. Having accused German production of being ramshackle in my last post, in the picture above, I have exceeded anything they could have cobbled together.

Repurposed RoCo Pz IV tracks on the Stug III on the right

The profile at the back doesn’t look quite right from the side, but the Schurtzen plates will hide most of it.

StuG IIIGs, early and late models

And from the front, I’m not going to notice unless I’m really bored enough to count rivets.

Count the rivets on the front glacis plate

So … two models for the price of one. I shall stick some stowage and camouflage on to hide the odd missing bits, and probably a few tank riders for good measure.

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PSC Kickstarter 2 – CMP Tractors and 25 Pounders

4 Regiments of 25-pounders forming

The new CMP tractor sits nicely in size in between the Fow 1:120 and the Denzil Skinner 1:100 scale Morris Quads, so a crafty wargamer will place the Skinners closest, the CMPs in the table centre and the FoWs at the far end to give a false sense of perspective. John Sandars was a past master of this wheeze, except that he used 1/35th and 1/72nd models in his dioramas.

Manning the Guns

Here are the WIP photos. I was delighted to see that the British gunners look like people, and not Orkses. They are still a little short in the leg, but they fit in nicely with everyone elses’ caricatures. I should have gone in for fantasy gaming *sigh*

The Gun Line

I thought it would be fun to see if the kit could produce one of the cut-down narrow-wheelbase 25pdrs used in Burma. The nearest unfinished gun is a reasonable enough approximation. The cam net on the back of the CMP hides the fact that I struggled to get a close fit at the back of the tractor. It also frees up a spare wheel. I am going to need a total of 8 for the extra four 25 Pdrs that can be part assembled from the kit sprue, and will have to find four spare limbers from somewhere.

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More Tilting

Flatbeds are much more useful on the wargames table than trucks with covered canopies, but having overdosed on PSC 15mm Raupenschleppers the tinkerer in me thought,

“what would a tilt frame look like?”

Raupenschlepper Ost with Brass Wire Tilt

Here is the answer: For good measure, I added some canopy struts to one of the QRF  Bedford QLBs that had been assembled earlier. Now it is just crying out for a couple of scruffy gunners lounging in the back.

Bedford QLB with Brass Wire Tilt

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Raupenschlepper Progress

I took a break from the massive heap of nowhere-near-finished British Desert Infantry to complete something achievable. It turned out to be a true-scale door (don’t ask) and this practically free Raupenschlepper Ost with the scratchbuilt tracks.

img_7752

It turns out that a creative bit of paintwork on the wheels can fool the eye into thinking that it is a proper model. I’ve grouped it with a Peter Pig Pak 38 to lend it some credibility, and because it is heading straight to one of my Neu Art German infantry divisions. Note the over-the-top superdetailing on the grenadier’s collar tabs. He is very proud of his new Waffenfarben.

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Filed under Artillery, Modelling, Wehrmacht, WWII