Category Archives: Artillery

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 28

Cauldron Between the Minefields on Trento's Position

Cauldron Between the Minefields on Trento’s Position

Some of the WHELKS convened in the Den on Tuesday to bed in some new ALAMEIN house rules for NQM Squared (NQM² or NQMsq). Present were YesthatPhil, Will (Hero of Kursk), and Richard. With each player controlling a division apiece, we were hitting slightly less than 30mins, but more than my planned 20 minutes per move, across the evening from 8 until 1030, when weekday night fatigue took its toll. Port, cheese and olives restored flagging energy.

The game was hectic, with 2nd New Zealand Division breaking into Trento‘s position and evicting them before the regimental HQ put in a spirited counterattack to restore the position. 9th Armoured Brigade then cleared the position again until Littorio counterattacked, leaving the position littered with burning allied and Italian tanks alike.

Littorio Counterattacks

Littorio Counterattacks

Phil managed to take some photos. I only managed some after-action shots. The low-vis pins look much less obtrusive. Taking them off works better than trying to add them.

The elephant in the room though, is scale: Three players managed three divisions, so six will only be able to manage six divisions or so. That means modelling the south, as the action was a little more open and fluid, and Trebian and Phil have already committed to  modelling divisions each. The north was more of a head-on slugging match, so is a little less interesting. Otherwise all the house-rule time and space management parameters seem to work.

Trento and Littorio's Admin Boxes and Artillery Positions

Trento and Littorio’s Admin Boxes and Artillery Positions

NQM Squared Supplement

For ALAMEIN² a unit may expend 2-5 action points (AP)s per turn according to status:

Elite or Veteran, 5. Regular, 4. Conscript, 3. Green 2.

Each stand may shoot once per turn expending no APs. Only indirect artillery is subject to ammunition rules for barrages.

An AP may be moving 1 square (2 squares for Recce, LOG, or Divisional/Corps/Army Commanders) or attacking (close assaulting) once.

The following are the maximum moves permitted to:

Infantry in contact, 1. Infantry out of contact, 2.

Armour in contact, 2. Armour out of contact, 4.

Recce, LOG, and commanders, 6, stopped by coming into contact, but use remainder to “shoot and scoot”.

Example: veteran LOG has 5 actions of which 3 may be double moves totalling 6 squares. Green log has 2 double moves totalling 4 squares.

Defending or attacking units may choose to break off close combat at any stage, subject to having a remaining AP or more to move back one or more squares. They may be pursued and attacked subject to the attacker having enough remaining APs to do so (one to move to remain in combat and one more to continue the attack). Usually the attacker runs out of APs first and the defender escapes.

Reorgnisation takes a whole move out of contact with the enemy. Units receiving fire cannot reorganise.

Supporting units may counterattack into their own squares, or ones that they have just lost, without first winning the firefight.

A maximum of 4 bases can pass through a single minefield gap in a move, subject to their own maximum move. As an example, suppose that a brigade attacking with two battalions up engages in a firefight with a defending battalion, and wins it (does not count as an action). One battalion passes through the gap and close assaults, winning the assault (first action). On the second close assault, another battalion passes through the gap to work round the enemy position (second action), this one is drawn (if the assault had been lost, the attacking battalion would have been pushed back, and the second battalion would continue the assault on the third action). The attack continues (third action) and the defenders are pushed out of the position as a third battalion passes through the gap. Finally the RHQ passes through the gap as its own 4th action leaving the brigade in the enemy square.

Nothing would be different if there had been two or more enemy battalions in the square, except that the close assault would have ground on for longer as the attacker strove to reduce 6 or more SP instead of 3 SP.

A bold attacker may have chosen to ignore the minefield gap and assault through the minefield, taking casualties as he went.

Vehicles passing through unswept ALAMEIN minefields roll a heavy die against themselves to determine casualties. Infantry roll a very light die against themselves. This reflects the preponderance of anti-tank mines in the minefields.

Full marks to anyone who spotted the Pz 38t pretending to be an M13.

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Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, Infantry, Italian Army, Italian Army, Land Battles, NQM Squared, tank, Western Desert, WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 43

1941 MARMON HERRINGTON GUN TRACTOR

1941 MARMON HERRINGTON GUN TRACTOR

More artillery prime movers have appeared at SUEZ. This time they are stand-ins for Marmon Herrington Field Artillery Tractors. 9th Australian Division and 1st South African Division used them, and of course no-one makes a model of what is essentially a short-bodied Ford Chevrolet Truck.

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr rear

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr rear

Fortunately, QRF have a close-enough substitute in their Chevrolet truck. They actually sell two versions, a FSV02 30cwt Chevrolet truck for £6.00 in their French WW2 softskin range, and a PV05 Chevrolet 3 ton truck for £4.50 hidden in their Polish softskin range. Perhaps the ASV02 Chevrolet 1.5 ton GS in their American softskin range would also make a good substitute, but the front of the grille is too square.

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr

Although the Cargo bed appears too long, I made the models up as-is. Adding the spare wheel and shortening the backs can always be done later. The kits made up easily, but were the usual tired molds that needed filing to get a good fit. The cabs need shimming up at the back to allow them to sit level. A quick paint job and they were ready to go. Later I will put the soft-top cab roofs on, but time is pressing and there are more important things to do.

CMP FAT Stage 3

CMP FAT Stage 3

The masquerade CMP FATs and 25pdrs are coming on nicely. They now have the limbers covered in hessian, and one has the final camouflage net thrown over everything.  You can just see enough detatil to persuade you that there is more to the model than there really is! A bit of black painted-on detail is bringing the 25pdrs to life. I spent the best part of a day starting to paint divisional flashes onto vehicles, as organising them will be a major part of the forthcoming game.

CMP FAT Stage 4

CMP FAT Stage 4

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ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 52

A muster of Opposing Forces has revealed a number of gaps. Orders have gone out to factories in Germany and Great Britain.

Arriving at the Docks in SUEZ and ALEXANDRIA are:

Four Semi scratchbuilt 25Pdrs and CMP Quads (PSC are showing out of stock, so dredging the spares box delivered 4 metal barrels and 3 spare CMP roofs. Cam nets to the rescue!)

 

Camouflaged CMP FAT and 25pdr Stage 1

Camouflaged CMP FAT and 25pdr Stage 1

CMP FAT and 25 pdr side view Stage 1

CMP FAT and 25 pdr side view Stage 1

CMP FAT Stage 2

CMP FAT Stage 2

25pdr Stage 1 with FoW barrels and PSC Crew

25pdr Stage 1 with FoW barrels and PSC Crew

PSC CMP FAT vs dodgy scratchbuild

PSC CMP FAT vs dodgy scratchbuild

Four M3 Grants from a Forged In Battle (FiB) 20% sale (PSC have yet to release their kit).

Matador, 5.5" medium gun with 25pdr, Grant and CMP FATs

Zvezda Matador, FiB 5.5″ medium gun with 25pdr, FiB Grant and CMP FATs

Two FiB 5.5″ guns for:

 

  • 7th Medium Regt, RA Matador Limber (L3), 5.5″  gun (S3)

  • 64th Med Regt, RA Matador Limber (L3), 5.5″  gun (S3)

 

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15cm sIG 33s

Astute readers may have noticed that 707 and 708 Heavy Infantry Gun Companies‘ first appearance on the table was in the form of card markers.

164th Light Afrika Division

164th Light (Afrika) Division

I now have models to represent them, together with two more that will make their way into other divisions, but which for now, are painted up as Luftwaffe ground troops.

s.IG 33 15cm

sIG 33 15cm

It was news to me that the sIG 33 also had a high-explosive Stielgranate round that was used for bunker busting and minefield clearance. I have not found a record yet that indicates if any of these rounds made it out to North Africa.

s.IG 33 15cm threequarter view

sIG 33 15cm threequarter view

90th Light ‘Afrika’ Division – Corps Scale Orbat

  • 155th Panzergrenadier Regiment (with 707th Heavy Infantry Gun Company)  Comd Sdkfz 250, 251 or 263  + 37mm Pak (C3), Sdkfz 251 (F3), Truck (F3) + 15cm sIG 33 Inf How (S3)

  • 200th Panzergrenadier Regiment (with 708th Heavy Infantry Gun Company) Comd car + 3.7cm Pak (C3), 2 Truck (F3), + 15cm sIG 33 Inf How (S3)

 

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Filed under Artillery, DAK, Modelling, Western Desert, WWII

2nd Alamein – NQM Squared – The South

44 Inf Div and 7Armd Div

44 Inf Div and 7Armd Div

Having walked through the northern third of 2nd Alamein to see if the real estate fitted (it did), I worked through the head-to-head infantry attack of 44th Infantry Division against Folgore.

Folgore Defence in Depth

Folgore Defence in Depth

The battle commenced with a divisional barrage that put serious disorganisation of 1/3 onto the dug in division (25pdrs M against dug-in infantry M). The infantry then followed this in, winning the firefight and evicting the first line of defences with 100% disorganisation in the close assault.

Ramke Falschirmjaeger Brigade

Ramke Falschirmjäger Brigade

 

I ruled that, being veteran, Folgore could immediately counterattack with its second line of defence, during the second close assault phase and pull its first line of defence out to reorganise. 44 Div were allowed to do the same in the third close assault phase, ending the turn. In future though, I shall restrict immediate counter attacks in the enemy’s turn to veteran troops.

Pavia and Folgore

Pavia and Folgore

This produced a very satisfying to-and-fro battle that left both sides’ infantry at about 50% casualties, with all artillery ammunition exhausted by the end of 4 rounds of fighting.

Folgore and Ramke from Allied Lines

Folgore and Ramke from Allied Lines

Other rulings were that:

Infantry could not pursue beyond their one square range.

Infantry could attack a diagonal square, but only if they were able to attack it orthogonally from the front or flank without interference from enemy on their own front or flank.

In other words, they could not ignore an enemy to their front in order to concentrate an attack on an enemy to their diagonal front, and they can only do this because the one free diagonal move per game turn that they are allowed places the square they wish to attack in reach.

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Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, DAK, Infantry, Italian Army, Italian Army, Land Battles, NQM Squared, The "Rules", Wargames, Western Desert, WWII

StuG Comparison

StuG IV Conversion from 15mm PSC StuG III

StuG IV Conversion from 15mm PSC StuG III

I showed my Stug IV to YesthatPhil, who commented that it looked rather lower than the III. That was my impression too. Wickipedia gives actual heights as 2.2m for the IV and 2.16 for the III.

Lining them up showed that the IV was the same height as the III, but the visual impression comes from the extra length of the IV hull. Surprisingly, the IV weighed in at 900kg less that the III. I threw in a Pz IV for good measure. Although lower than a tank, both designs failed the specification that they should be no taller than a standing infantryman.

L>R - PzIV - StuG IV - StuG III - StuH III

L>R – PzIV – StuG IV – StuG III – StuH III

Do I hear “scale creep!” being muttered on the back row?

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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