Category Archives: Artillery

Butler Printed Models

These printed 1:100 models arrived in the post today. Review to follow. First impressions are very good. The pictures highlight any printing imperfections, and I suspect that paint will smooth out the lines. Everything is finely printed and spot-on square. The supporting web peels off easily with pliers.

The nylon printing material looks tough , so I am not expecting fine detail to break off in play.

There are some printing flaws, but if they don’t buff out, they already pass the three foot test.

Lines are most obvious on circular and sloping surfaces. Intricate detail can be printed in one piece.

The support webs are well designed and peel away quickly. To be continued …

 

 

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ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D+1to2: 24 to 25 Oct 1942

Alamein 50 Division Attack Engaging the MDL on D+1-2

Alamein 50 Division Attack Engaging the MDL on D+1-2

On the second night of the battle, the two British infantry divisions, 50th and 44th continued to fight their way methodically through the Axis Outposts and Main Defensive lines (MDLs). This was by no means a straightforward process, as on a number of occasions, local counterattacks regained positions that had been won at some cost.

44th and 50th Divisions Break into the MDL on D+2

44th and 50th Divisions Break into the MDL on D+2

The net result was to turn the whole front line into a meat grinder as 1st Greek Infantry Brigade and 1st Free French joined the battle on the northern and southern flanks of the attack .

There was a good deal of to-ing and fro-ing as casualties mounted on both sides. Players were fired up and passing theirmorale tests, which made for a large casualy pile at the end of the battle.

Behind the advancing front, the aggressively-handled divisional field artillery regiments had closed up to the forward edge of the enemy minefields in order to reach the enemy’s reserve line. The armoured brigades were beginning to nose forward through the cleared lanes, impatiently waiting for a gap to be made to allow them to break out.

The Sappers had some eight kilometers of minefields to clear. The game gave each squadron or company a 50% chance of clearing a minefield lane on the first night, then 66.66% on the next night, then 82%, then 100% on the final night. Inspection of the orbats shows that  each division had enough strength to clear 3 lanes in a reasonable time.

Air Battle over Ramke and Pavia

Air Battle over Ramke and Pavia – Bf 109 and 110 attack DAF Boston and Hurricane that are bombing Ramke

20 Corps was calling for reinforcements at an early stage in the battle, but Rommel was flying back from Rome, and von Stumme was dead from a heart attack as he leapt onto the running board of his staff car during an air attack on the morning of the 24th. Panzer Armee Afrika was effectively leaderless until Rommel returned on the 25th. Heavy attacks were occurring in the northern half of the battlefield, relegating the concerns of 20 Corps to that of “a little local difficulty”.

Folgore and Ramke were holding up well, with pressure falling onto Brescia and Pavia. Rommel’s policy of corsetting conscript troops with veterans was working well. Artillery and airstrikes were causing casualties on both sides, but the axis forces were beginning to run short of artillery ammunition.

The allies were allowed to put all their air assets into the air each day – about 10 wings, of which 7 were fighters, which was a little light on bombers. The Axis was allowed 1d6 per day, limited by only being able to use each model once.  I had severely underestimated the number of beautifully-painted Italian  aircraft that von Gow was able to pull out of his toy boxes, and it would have been rude not to let him use them. I expected more complaints from the Allies, but being gentlemen, they never murmured.

S 79 over 50th Infantry Division

S 79 over 50th Infantry Division

 

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, DAK, Infantry, Italian Army, Italian Army, NQM Squared, Wargames, Western Desert, WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Day

Alamein 50th Division Attacks

Alamein 50th Division Attacks

D Day dawned crisp and cold, with troops arriving at Shedquarters well-muffled against the cold. The final command team looked like this:

Axis:

Tim “von” Gow as 20 Corps, 21 Pz and Ariete,  Richard Lindley as Brescia, Steve Churchus as Ramke, and Trabian as Folgore and Pavia.

Allied:

Phil Steele as XIII Corps, 7th Armoured Division and 1st Free French. Gary Roberts as 50th Infantry Division and the Greek Brigade, and Tim Merry as 44th Infantry Division.

Moves ran every 30 minutes, with one night and one day. Fighting took place mostly at night, with the day being reserved for airstrikes and the French, who elected to fight during daylight, for reasons never fully explained. Nobody minded as Phil had brought his own French, with an impressive scratchbuilt Tanaka and Conus gun. To be continued …

 

 

 

 

Alamein 1st Free french Brigade

Alamein 1st Free French Brigade

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Air Forces, Artillery, DAK, German Airforce, Infantry, Italian Army, Italian Army, Land Battles, NQM Squared, RAF and Commonwealth AFs, Regia Aeronautica, Western Desert, WWII

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

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