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NQM Soviet Spring Offensive 1943 (Part 16) – 2nd OREL

P&GM STZ-5 with PP crew and metal 122mm M1931-37

 As he pondered his operational maps,  XXXV Korps commander had an insurmountable problem to solve. To both north and south, the Soviets had established bridge crossings and was holding them in strength. His only armoured reserve was heading south to try to stem the flood of Soviet armour heading east. Even if this succeeded, he had the depleted remains of two divisions to hold off six, with half the city of OREL lost already. If he delayed ordering an evacuation, his divisions would be cut off, with Soviet air superiority dashing any hopes that his garrison might be supplied by air. If he withdrew, he would be falling back on his lines of communication and might hope to counterattack when the Soviets reached the limit of their supply chain.

2 Tank Army heavy armour moving forward

2 Tank Army heavy armour moving forward

 17 Panzer fortuitously failed to intercept 16 Tank Corps, with its T-34s, and hit instead  19 tank Corps, still equipped with T-70s. The lighter tanks were no match for 17 Panzers‘ Pz IIIs and attached StuG IIIs,  and suffered heavily. The stream of Soviet armour  heading west lost momentum and stalled as it reached the limits of its fuel.

Retreat Begins

The order to withdraw had been issued by XXXV Korps Commander, knowing that it would probably cost him his career, but judging it better to save his troops. Headquarters and artillery began to crowd westward as pioneers and infantry began a systematic destruction of anything that could not be carried with them. As 1 Guards Artillery Division arrived at the front and began to pound the west bank, it was already clear that the Austrians in front of them were withdrawing.

Being short of engineers, it took the Soviets some time before bridges in the city centre were able to take heavy enough traffic for supplies and vehicles to cross. As they pursued the fleeing Fascists, a cat and mouse game of rearguard ambush and retreat developed, with the Wehrmacht strewing booby traps and mines in the path of the advancing Soviet tanks. This timely account of the Battle of OREL makes interesting reading

It can be seen that far fewer forces were involved in my battle than the real operation.

Game notes:

  1. Nowadays, OREL or ORYOL (Орёл) appears on Google map as RAZGRAD.
  2.  I set the morale of the two Wehrmacht divisions to 4, and the Soviets to 2, meaning that each Soviet Division would be able to conduct two attacks and each Wehrmacht division four defences before becoming exhausted and disorganised. The early successes of the Soviets meant that these limits were not tested, and OREL fell without much of a struggle.
  3. Another solo game, with the dice deciding a number of things:
    • Would the Soviets reinforce the north (1,2) or south (3-6) crossing site?
    • Would the breakthrough armour swing north around the west of OREL (1-3) or make a deeper breakthrough (4-6)?
    • How much air support would both sides get, one, two or three sorties (1d3)?
    • Will the garrison be surrounded (1-3) or escape (4-6)?
  4.  With an active pair of players, most of these actions would have been decided or gamed by the participants themselves. I could have Skyped or Zoomed the game, but as previously mentioned, I’m pretty much all screened out by work at the moment.

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

NQM Soviet Spring Offensive 1943 (Part 15) – 2nd OREL

102 and 106 Rifle Divs assault 262 Inf Div

262  Infantry Division was raised in Austria, having fought through the Ukraine. As Soviet 102 and 106 Rifle Divisions attacked the eastern approaches to the city, with heavy artillery and Sturmovik support, 486 Infantry Regiment and the divisional HQ on the southern edge of the suburbs caved in under pressure, letting 106 Rifle Division into the outskirts.

106 and 140 Rifle Divs assault 262 Inf Div

A fierce counterattack from 482 Infantry Regiment restored the situation for long enough for the division to withdraw to the west bank, but  with four Soviet divisions curling around the flanks, holding the east bank was out of the question.

262 Div counterattack and withdrawal

262 Pioneer Battalion conducted an exemplary bridge demolition. Nevertheless, the east bank had been lost relatively easily.

Bridge Demolition

Further north, ariel recce had observed activity on the river OKA. A substantial pontoon bridge was being thrown across, with a tank corps and infantry massing behind it.

3 Tk Corps 132 211 Rifle Divs on the E bank of the OKA

17 Panzer Division was despatched north to attack the bridgehead without delay from its staging area just west of OREL. Whatever the failings of their infantry brethren, the panzers fell upon the bridgehead, scattering armour and motor rifle troops, and destroying the bridge.

3 Tk Corps is caught at the N bridge by 17 Pz div

Undaunted, the Soviets were also bridging to the south of OREL. The first inkling that XXXV Korps Commander had that the river line had been bridged, was when infantry from 175 Rifle Division were sighted on the west bank, to the south of OREL. 17 Panzer had been recalled to their original staging area in a central position against just such an eventuality, but the Soviet attack began before they had reorganised and refuelled.

175 and 162 Rifle Divs on the E bank of the OKA

Now it was the turn of 293 Infantry Division to feel the weight of the assault as 175 and 162 Rifle Divisions attacked the southern edge of the city. Raised in Berlin, the “Bear” division fared no better than their Austrian Cousins. 175 Rifles drove the infantry back onto their artillery line before counterattacks from the reformed Austrians restored the situation.

293 Div Counterattacks

At this point, casualties had been heavy on both sides, with both Wehrmacht divisions down below half strength. Although they could not know it, the Soviets were fast outrunning their supply lines and needed more river crossings.

262 and 293 Div HQ and Signals

17 Panzer set off again in a wide sweep to the south, the plan being to catch the Soviet infantry in the rear. As they did so, fresh ariel reconnaissance intelligence was coming in: The second crossing had been located, and at least two tank corps were streaming west. To add to XXXV Korps commander’s troubles, the northern bridge crossing had been rebuilt and was being held by at least two rifle divisions with armoured support.

3 Tk Corps Rebuilds the N Bridge

Orders were hurriedly amended on the move, and 17 Panzer had a new target; the stream of Soviet armour  heading west.

to be continued …

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

NQM Soviet Spring Offensive 1943 (Part 14) – 2nd OREL

70 Army and 2 Tank Army Advance to OREL

The first battle for OREL was fleeting as the Wehrmacht swept east. This time the Soviets were on the offensive heading west. The land around OREL is largely flat,  fertile, grain-producing country, with OREL itself sitting astride the OKA river running north-south. The picture above shows the OKA running through OREL with north at the top of the picture.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking West into the Centre of OREL

For this game I used the Front Scale Orbat, with a stand representing a single regiment of two or three battalions. Below, we see Soviet 211 Division, with the divisional HQ front left, two regiments behind, and an artillery regiment to the right. The squares on my board are 150mm (6″) to a side.

211 Rifle Division

262 and 293 Infantry Divisions backed by 17 Panzer Division were facing 2 Tank Army less 9 Tank Corps, comprising 3, 16,19 Tank Corps, and 70 Army, comprising 28 Corps (132, 211, 280, 102, 106, 140, 162 175 Rifle Divisions, 1 Guards Artillery Division). Additional Support included 16 VVS.

70 Army was ordered to advance on a broad front to pin the German Defenders whilst 2 Tank Army bridged the OKA and cut it off. Engineer crossings were planned for the north and south of OREL.

OREL West Bank looking North

 

28 Corps HQ and 162 Rifle Division

As Soviet Army level recce advanced, the shape of the defence became clearer.

70 Army Recce advances

To be continued …

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

New Uniforms for the Jägers

For Barbarossa, the Wehrmacht raised mountain, light and Jäger divisions. By 1943 all light divisions had been renamed as Jäger divisions, in the same way that motor rifle divisions had been renamed as Panzergrenadier divisions. Much sexier! My light division has always been at the back of the queue for toys, fighting with my Gebirgsjägers and Fallschirmjägers for the limited number of Kettenkrad Sdkfz 2s that I had. Reinforcements of 6 Krads from Syborg 3d Printing have allowed me to swap out Raupenschleppers that had been standing in with the 7.5cm mountain guns in all 3 divisions, with spares for the Luftwaffe ground crews.

The original intention of the light divisions was that they would be the link between mountain divisions and more ponderous standard infantry divisions, fighting nimbly in wooded and built up terrain. Barbarossa, and the Soviets did not oblige in that respect, and they often found themselves thrown into the line, where the terrain did not cooperate, and where they needed as much artillery as their line infantry brethren.

My light division is a mix of troops of varying levels of painting and vintage. Nowadays, my painting style wavers between minimal1 and comic book2, depending on mood and energy levels. The light Division got the Comic Book treatment.

pioneer

Given that Waffenfarben can be almost invisible in the field, even close-up, it didn’t stop me putting meadow green/grass green (grün) splotches onto the shoulders of the figures.

… and if camouflage makes everything the same colour at a distance3 , anything that gives the viewer the sense that “wow, he’s put a lot of detail into those figures” is a toy soldier conceit. If I’m only doing it to pass the time, and for pleasure, then it makes sense to exaggerate the colour differences of different bits of equipment, to separate them out on the figure. You can blame Old School or the Sci-fi and fantasy painters for leading me down this route. Take your pick 🙂

NQM Jaeger Regiment CSO

… so here are the Jägers, resplendent in their new box, and with very little paint chipped off them. I’ve also updated the Orbat page.

Wehrmacht NQM Light Infantry Division  Corps scale Orbat

The drop off in my regular postings is entirely due to having to waste time learning the new block system, now that the default classic editor has been turned off. Still, it’s free. Oh, and two days in, I’ve just discovered where the classic editor has been hidden. Excellent!

  1. Basecoat, face, Ink shading, then perhaps guns and helmets. In 15mm this counts as “realistic”.
  2. Think four-colour Eagle or Judge Dredd comics, with brighter colours for visibility.
  3. Vallejo #0038 Really Hard to See 🙂

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, infantry, Wehrmacht, WWII

Slapping Paint onto Stuff – Poles and Steyr 1500A Kfz. 70

The Cloister

The painting and modelling plan has taken a bit of a hit this year and last, for reasons that are obvious to everyone. Work has taken priority, and still is, with overstretch and under manning taking its toll on my spare time. At the end of the day, I don’t feel like logging onto a Zoom or Skype wargame, even though there have been some good ones that I could avail myself of. So apologies to everyone whose invitations I have turned down, or not replied to.

Party Central

Weekends have been spent outdoors. There is nothing quite like spending 10 hours in a mask to help you appreciate just how good fresh air tastes. Shed 24 was completed this week, although I will probably continue tinkering with it for fun. The Cloister is now roofed and painted in Fairground-pattern dazzle camouflage, with party lights in anticipation of post-lockdown garden meets in our reliably inclement summer weather. Caunter had the right idea, but never carried it fully through IMHO.

Caunter Fairground Palttern Dazzle Camouflage

Indoors, I managed to slap more paint onto these Steyr 1500A Kfz. 70 heavy cars from PSC. The finish of the kits is lovely, the jigs horrible as you need to cut and shave the side panels to fit. If you don’t, they keep springing off before the solvent sets.

Aircraft modellers will be looking on, unimpressed.

“We do this all the time”, they say.

PSC Steyr heavy car sidecut assembled

” …. and this. It’s part of the fun”, they say¹.

So the end result was this handsome pair of kits. Was it worth it? Yes. Will I do it again now that resin printed models are available? No.

Plastic Soldier Company 15mm Steyr 1500A Kfz.70 with Peter Pig crew

  1. Don’t google anything with “clamps” and “fun” in the same sentence unless the family filter is on. Just saying.

 

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Filed under Modelling, Off Topic, Shed du Soleil, The Workshop, Trucks, Wehrmacht

Magnetic Storm

You have to be of a certain age to remember Roger and Martyn Dean’s Magnetic Storm, but youngsters will be familiar with Avatar, their phosphorescent Love Child.

Rare earth magnets

My personal magnetic storm is much less flamboyant: For the past since whenever, I have been sticking magnabase onto figures and models, and steel paper into boxes to stop stuff sliding around. It doesn’t hit the headlines , so this is a short post.

He 111

Neodymium (rare earth magnets) are starting to keep my aircraft in flight. Time will tell if contact adhesive is strong enough to hold them in place.

Macchi C200 Saetta conversion from a Zero

Roger Dean’s colour schemes will have to wait for a Dieselpunk project. Express your inner Hippy! Artistic link that you probably shouldn’t play at work!

 

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Sd Kfz 11 and 3.7cm Flak 36/37

Luftwaffe Sd Kfz 11 and 3.7 Flak 36/37 R

The Skytrex 3.7cm Flak 36/37 and Syborg 3D Sd Kfz 11 have been sitting around undercoated for a while now. I finally married them up on a single base and added a bit of colour. There is not much pictorial evidence around of prime movers for the Flak 36/37. I found pictures of an Opel Blitz and a captured French Citroen online, but have no idea whether they are representative  or not. Going to the Milicast site, suggests that heavy field cars, trucks both armoured and unarmoured, were pressed into service as self-propelled mounts. I generally reckon that Milicast are pretty accurate in their choice of models and information, having strong links to MAFVA.

At 1,550Kg combat weight, The Flak 36/37 is well within the limits for an ’11, as it also towed the zwillingen twin barrelled version of the Flak 43 (according to Wiki). Mine is painted up in a simple desert scheme of sand with grey showing through. I improved the texture of the canopy by the simple expedient of sticking tissue paper to it, to hide the contour lines that are endemic to FDM printed models.

Flakpanzer IV RoCo "Ostwind"

There is no shortage of pictures of self-propelled mounts on Sd Kfz 7/2s, (about a thousand produced) or Flakpanzer IVs (240 Möbelwagen 3.7cm and 43-46 Ostwind 3.7cm) etc., however I think that the majority of these guns would probably have been towed by wheeled transport in the Luftwaffe, with half-tracked tows reserved for the Luftwaffe field divisions.

Luftwaffe Sd Kfz 11 and 3.7 Flak 36/37

Crews should be painted as Luftwaffe, or army. If army, they may either have white infantry piping if Flabatallion with 2cm and 3.7cm guns, all on self-propelled ,mounts; or red piping if artillery in mechanised mixed Heeresflak Batallions in Corps orbats, with three 8.8cm Flak companies and two 2cm/3.7cm companies. the crews in black below are not Panzer troops, they are still in their undercoats!

Sd Kfz 10/4 mit 2cm FlaK 30 FiB

For NQM, I simplify orbats to show Heeresflak Batallions as artillery with SP 8.8cm and Flabatallions as infantry with SP 2cm and 3.7cm. If it’s self propelled, then it’s army, but if towed then Luftwaffe. Nierhorster confirms this, showing 135 Flak Regiment as having four Luftwaffe mixed battalions attached to DAK. Army Flak also had machine guns. YesthatPhil has a superb scratch-build of a horse-drawn version  here.

For anyone modelling below corps scale, searchlights were spread out amongst the Flak battalions.  Andrew Bruce’s blog in the sidebar to the right, is very helpful with this source: Special Series 10. German Antiaircraft artillery (1943) Military Intelligence Service, War Department [https://drive.google.com/file/d/11vE6fYDGCm1rCPyU9gBn1baCOW3MI-jv/view] Accessed 14/2/21

Lone Sentry also has this useful intelligence brief on tactical employment.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Artillery, Modelling, Trucks

Light Box

Seeing someone’s light box on their blog, prompted me to buy one online. For the princely sum of about £12, this neat little origami cube came with six coloured backdrops, a USB cable that powers an LED strip, and a carry bag.

203 mm howitzer M1931 (B-4) Finished

My indoor photos have suddenly improved. About time too! I can hear the relieved sighs of patient folk who have been putting up with my blurry badly lit photos for years. Judge for yourself.

B-4 203mm Howitzer and Komintern Tractor

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Paint and Glue Miniatures Kfz 21 Krupp Pkw

Krupp Kfz 21 Pkw FL

This post on the Kfz. 21 Krupp Pkw (Personenkraftwagen or people carrier) shows the superiority of a resin print over an FDM one (see my review of the Kfz. 19 last week).  The Krupp is a good model to highlight the differences, because of its long sloping bonnet.

Krupp Kfz 21 Pkw FR

As far as I can ascertain, the Kfz. 21 was used as a staff car for senior officers, or as a troop carrier for the Führer-Begleit-Bataillon. The motley crew are mostly Command Decision, with the rather fat general in the middle right hand seat coming from the Plastic Soldier Company Marder crew.

Krupp Kfz 21 Pkw RR

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Paint and Glue Miniatures Kfz 19 Krupp Protze

Kfz 19 Krupp Protze FL

This iconic vehicle featured heavily in the sort of photographs that were available in pre-internet days to a teenaged Panzer fancier.  I always fancied building one, but never got round to it. So I was delighted when PGM offered this model. It is a very nice print too. The usual comments about print lines apply , and when I get the review of the resin schwerer geländegängiger Personenkraftwagen (6rad) (Kfz. 21)
mit Fahrgestell des l. gl. Lkw. (o)
onto the blog, the differences can easily be seen, showcasing the superiority of  resin over FDM. As resin printers become more affordable, they are the way forward, I think.

Kfz 19 Krupp Protze FR

The PGM model can be used as a Fernsprech-Betriebskraftwagen (Kfz. 19)
mit Fahrgestell des l. gl. Lkw. (o)
(telephone vehicle ) or as a Funkkraftwagen (Kfz. 19) mit Fahrgestell des l. gl. Lkw. (o) (Radio vehicle). The latter , according to Holger Erdmann (see sidebar), was a rare variant, making up numbers for the commoner Kfz. 15.

Wikipedia gives 7000 chassis being built overall, but the radio and telephone bodies would have been a much smaller proportion of these. I believe that the Kfz. 19 and 21 were essentially early war vehicles, so I have painted mine grey. I haven’t seen any vehicles painted in mid war camouflage yet, although there are a couple of Kfz. 70s in the pre-war three tone pattern of dunkelgelb, green and brown. The vertical wooden panels on the doors and body are rendered nicely, but it would really take a resin print to take full advantage of this detail. the wheels are printed separately, needing to be stuck on. I’m very happy with my model, and can recommend it.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Modelling, Trucks, Wehrmacht