Category Archives: Soviet Army

Zvezda 1:100 (15mm) T-60

Aww Idda Lidduw Cyoote Tankie

This finely-modelled offering makes its successor, the T-70, look like a hunky, over-engineered brute! It falls under Kemp’s law: If you can see over the top of a tank, standing up – it doesn’t count; so not a suitable tank to go Rommelling in.

The model can be seen next to a T-70 in the pictures below, and  the chap standing next to it is one of the PSC 25pdr gun crew. He would be able to see over the top if the sculptor had put the correct anatomical length into the knees and abdomen, but as it is, he is the same height as the crouching loader, who is standing next to him on his left.

Three years ago, I would have needed lots more of these little tanks, but as the campaign is now entering 1943, the T-70 is more prevalent. You don’t last very long if you go to war in a biscuit tin.

The plan view shows the tiny size of the T-60. The lovely Mrs K. wandered past and made noises to the effect of “Awww look adda cyuute lidduw tank”. She has a point.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Eastern Front, Modelling, Soviet Army, tank, WWII

MOSCOW Surrounded

20 Motorised Division Stops 2 Guards Mechanised Corps in its Tracks 20 Motorised Infantry Division halts the advance of 2 Guards Mechanised Corps

Depleted as they were from the previous Summer’s Drive on MOSCOW, 7 Panzer and 20 Motorised Infantry Divisions still managed to blunt the breakthrough by 1st Shock Army on the city’s southern flank. No less dangerous though, was the northern flank breach.

Soviet Infantry Break Through on the Northern Flank of MOSCOW

The initial bridgehead was widened until it burst through the reserve line and soon, long columns of Soviet infantry could be seen trudging through the snow on their way west.

Soviet Infantry approaching MOSCOW to Outflank it by the North

Dislodged from their prepared defences on the canal line, all the disorganised infantry defenders could do was fall back to the east or south into MOSCOW.

Attempts by 20 Motorised Infantry to halt the Soviet advance lacked vigour as they had yet to recover from halting 2 Guards Mechanised Corps. 7 Panzer Division  was in no shape to assist, having had its own battle with 1 Guards Tank Corps, so retired west to refuel and reorganise. As part of its reorganisation,  20 Motorised Infantry was redesignated 20 Panzer Grenadier Division.

The defenders in MOSCOW were in crisis, with continued enemy infantry attacks from the east and south, and the rail line of communication to the west in Soviet hands. LittleHitler formally declared MOSCOW to be a fortress even as a relief  by 3 Panzer Korps was prepared.

Retreating Fascist Forces see MOSCOW Dwindle in the Gathering Gloom Retreating Fascist Forces see MOSCOW Dwindle in the Gathering Gloom

Festung Moskau from Phil's Pb-eye Candy BlogSee More Frontline Soviet News Footage on P.B.Eye-Candy

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Axis War Diary, Eastern Front, Land Battles, Soviet Army, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, Wehrmacht

KALININ Falls!

As the commander of Army Group Centre watched the Soviet offensive open in front of him, It became clear that the weight of the attack was falling, not on MOSCOW, but on KALININ.

8th Jaeger Withdraws North of KALININ

The already reduced 8 Jäger Division bore the brunt of the opening attack, situated as it was to the north of the VOLGA river along the railway line to the vital rail junction of VELIKIYE LUKI. The Jägers fell back steadily over two days to the west of KALININ, extracting a price, but taking heavy casualties as they did so.

8 Jaeger Withdraws North of KALININ

 27 Army was identified as the controlling enemy formation HQ. As it drew level with KALININ, the leading divisions swung south to attack the city, with Sturmovik and army level artillery support. Already, Wehrmacht reserve divisions were moving to cover the rail bridge crossing the VOLGA, but the main line from VELIKIYE LUKI to MOSCOW was now in Soviet hands.

37 Rifle Division Attacks South into KALININ

The defenders of KALININ, 161 Infantry Division, were unprepared for the ferocity of the attack by 37 Rifle Division. Despite losses to the minefields and prepared defences, and spirited counterattacks by the defenders, first the outskirts, then the centre of the city fell. 

36 Rifle Division Seizes a VOLGA Bridge

A seesaw battle for the river crossing commenced as the leading elements of 36 Rifle Division seized the southern bank in the face of elements of 256 Infantry Division that were rushing to secure the bridge. 8 Jäger Division, reduced to a regimental headquarters and company of infantry, managed to throw the Soviets back to the northern edge of the bridge just long enough to allow 256 Infantry to open a route to KALININ. Through this, the survivors of the city poured, leaving their heavy weapons behind. The bridge was blown in the face of the leading Soviet assault parties.

Back in his FührerBoxfile, LittleHitler was foaming at the mouth with fury at the loss of KALININ and the commander of 161 Infantry was summoned to explain himself. A professional withdrawal under fire, over a bridge being attacked by the enemy, did nothing to save him. The division was ordered to be shipped to France to refit, but its commander and senior staff found themselves stripped of their rank and sent to a penal battalion.

The Line is Breached North of KALINEN

Meanwhile, a serious breach in the front had opened between XX Korps at KALININ and X Korps to their north. With armoured forces concentrated in the South and around MOSCOW, little stood in the way of the advancing divisions, The Luftwaffe had little success in divining the extent of the breakthrough either, as the flanks of the attack were patrolled by large numbers of Soviet fighters.

To be continued …

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

Storm from the Northwest – Days 6 to 9

Six months of real time have elapsed since day five of this battle and its resumption on day six. To recreate a long narrow thrust along a railway line in hilly, forested country, the operation is now being prosecuted along the length of my pasting table, again with the lateral scale massively compressed. YesthatPhil took most of the photos for this battle as his camera skills exceed mine by a considerable margin.

The Key Rail JunctionLink to the map

Day six of the offensive began with 4th Tank Corps continuing the attack west along the line of the railway to VELIKIE LUKIE. The  Soviet infantry in the line regrouped and paused as 1st Guards Rifle Division passed through the forward positions and assembled for an assault. Heavy artillery support began to pound VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK.

vyshny volochyok 1942http://city.samondeo.com/vyshny-volochyok-russia.php

From the contemporary aerial photographs, note the relatively open nature of the suburbs and railway sidings even today, apart from the town centre.

Vyshny region today

Army Level Artillery Close Up to the Front Line

4th Tank Corps continued to press west, with 16th Motor Rifle Corps following on, poised to support either 1GR or 4Tk.

4TK Corps Advance

The regrouped Silesians of 8th Infantry Division in VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK braced themselves for a renewed infantry assault as 1st Guards Rifle Division shook out into attack formation, supported by Katyushas, Sturmoviks and KV-1s. Apparently the latter were more plentiful in the north.

1GDs Assault

Historically, 8th Inf were a good unit with a distinguished reputation. They suffered heavy casualties in the initial campaign and were returned to France to convert to a Jäger division; their model counterparts fared no less well. Despite spirited counterattacks that caused delays of a day, they were pushed out of the city with heavy losses by 1GR, reinforced by 16MR when the first assault showed signs of losing momentum.

KV1 of 16 MR Breaks in

Ideally, you would really like something heavier than 3.7cm anti-tank against KV-1s. Yes, those are Soviets behind the dug-in anti-tank position. No, those are not party balloons, they are pin markers*.

Meanwhile, 4Tk were stopping for nothing and no-one. They met the advanced positions of a defended belt and attacked it straight from the line of march … with not unexpected results. Plenty more light armour was available if it was needed. 4Tk‘s T-70s discovered the defending minefields in the traditional way. This is why the Desantny prefer to ride on the T-34s if anyone gives them a choice.

4TK Assault From Line of March

Some distance into difficult country astride the railway, 269 Infantry Division‘s main defensive line provided the defence in depth for the front.

269INF Reserve Defence

Katyushas and infantry deployed as the armour fought on down the railway. More Sturmoviks appeared overhead; “… wo ist die Luftwaffe?” The heavy and medium dice below are all falling on the German infantry!

4Tk Corps Hit Back

When all seemed lost, 8th Panzer Division appeared in a counter attack. The bulk of the division was strung across the frozen countryside, but enough appeared to persuade the Soviets that there would be no more progress on this axis of advance before further reinforcements arrived.

8PZ Div Counterattack

*Thanks to Jaap Boender for pointing out on Facebook that the pins look like party balloons.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Eastern Front, Land Battles, Soviet Army, Wehrmacht, WWII

On the Workbench – 3.7cm Pak 36s

45mm

These two Pak 36s surfaced from one of the bits boxes last night. They came with a Command Decision Sdkfz 251 pack, if I remember correctly. That just left me with wheels and a trail to find. A Soviet 85mm AA gun from Flames of War provided the wheels, and aluminium tube with scrap balsa did the rest.

As I need Soviet 45mm guns more than German 36s at the moment, I painted them green prior to sticking Soviet crews on the bases. They will probably join the Tank Corps as captured 3.7cm Pak 36s, as they are a little undersized for 1937 (53-K) sorokopyatka” (forty fivers). The PSC offerings, of which there are 5 in a pack, are noticeably larger but come with the cut-down vehicle shield.

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Filed under Artillery, Modelling, Soviet Army

Storm from the Northwest – Days 2 and 3

Day two of the Soviet Winter offensive in the Northwest saw X, II and VIII Korps under heavy pressure along the whole of the line. By this stage of the war, German defensive positions had formalised into an outlying belt of minefields studded with MG42 nests, then a main defensive line backed by a reserve line, all of some considerable depth such that they could not all be carried in the same attack.

II Korps Artillery II Korps artillery in the reserve line supports the failing defensive line of Lt Gen von Seydlitz-Kurzbach’s distinguished 12 Inf Div.

Soviet doctrine was evolving to cope, and although not as tactically proficient as they would become later in the war, the early desperate days of throwing waves of unsupported infantry in to the attack were giving way to more coordinated offensives with artillery and tank support. They would attack along a line, then ruthlessly reinforce success, leaving failing attacks to flounder. Thus it was that Lt Gen Wandel found pressure on his 121 Inf Div slackening as troops were diverted to support the break-in to 32 Inf Div‘s main defensive positions.

This attack had been preceded by violent assaults on two flanks against the distinguished 12 Inf Div veterans of Lt Gen von Seydlitz-Kurzbach. The division fell back in good order, having sustained intolerable casualties in the first day of the attack.

Northwest Front 05The vital rail junction on the divisional boundary of 32 and 121 Inf Divs, looking southwest, before  coming under heavy Soviet attack

This relief was, however, only temporary. Day three of the offensive saw renewed pressure on this sector of the defensive line to break open the main railway to VELIKIYE LUKI (Великие Луки)

121 Inf Div Main Defensive LineAll along the northern half of the line, German infantry were falling back to their reserve positions; most in good order but some in disarray. Soviet flags could be seen fluttering over the main line, and in the odd quiet moment balalaika and accordion music could be heard!

More to follow …

The Attack Develops on Day 3Link to the map

Game Notes:

1.More of this battle from the Soviet side can be seen on YesthatPhil’s P.B.Eye Candy Blog

2. This game was planned for Trebian’s 5×11 foot table at Shedquarters. My pasting table is a quarter of the size, so although the length is adequate, depth has been compressed by half.

3. The marked roads are also railways, which is why a Chibi armoured train is parked at the southern end of the track by VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK Вышний Волочек.

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

Storm Forecast from the Northeast

Northwest Front - Opening Stages

The miserable stalemate of the Rasputitsa on the NORTHWEST Front was broken with the first hard frosts of winter. This offensive had been expected for some time, but the ferocity of the assault caught the German line by surprise, and soon reports of heavy fighting were flooding in to X, II and VIII Korps Headquarters in volumes that told of an assault along the whole defensive line north of VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK Вышний Волочек.

Northwest Front 03

126* Infantry Division fought off attacks from militia troops identified as belonging to 30 Rifle Division supporting the northern flank of 31 Rifle Div. The Soviets had blocked the north-south railway from MOSCOW to LENINGRAD, and repeated counterattacks had failed to dislodge them in the previous month.

Northwest Front Rail Crossroad

12* and 32** Infantry Divs came under heavy pressure that the whole of X and VIII Korps Artillery could not relieve. These positions began to crumble as 34 Rifle Div  penetrated the forests in front of them.

Link to the map

To be continued …

Notes:

*126 Infantry Division was commanded by the newly promoted commander of its 422 Infantry Regiment – Maj Gen Hopper.

** 12th Infantry Division distinguished itself in Poland and France

*** 32nd Infantry Division was known as the Löwe (Lion) division and also had an excellent reputation.

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

Soviet Tank Riders

These Plastic Soldier Company machine-gun armed  infantry are ideal for tank riders. The tiny square magnetised bases that fit into trucks and onto the backs of tanks hark back to the early days of Command Decision and will probably be jolly annoying to play with … we will have to see.

Soviet Tank RidersLeading these PSC Soviet Tank Riders are a pair of pioneer bases. One of the pioneers is actually Japanese, but who cares in this scale?

Soviet Tank DesantnyThese nine bases of tank desantny are the infantry support component of a tank corps if no trucks are present. It is clear from contemporary photographs that not all troops were issued with SMGs and that many rifles were present.

Soviet Pioneer BattalionThe pioneers in their truck.

Soviet Motor Rifle Battalion… And a motorised infantry battalion.

Motor Rifle Troops 1… or you could just glue them in and have done with it!

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Katyusha BM-13s Upgraded

The Katyusha BM-13 on Zis truck or Guards Mortar as it was officially designated was as unpopular with Axis infantry as it was popular with Soviet troops. I am very fond of the two metal models that YesThatPhil gave me some time ago.

Katyusha BM13s (1)

Even though they are showing their age, and the newer Zvezda models are more accurate in almost every respect*, I am loathe to retire them. Consequently, when Phil also gifted me a couple of spare Zvezda launch rails, it was time to do an upgrade.

Katyusha BM13s (2)

Off came the original metal rails and on went the plastic ones. I’m happy!

 Katyusha BM13s (3)

 * The Zvezda kit only comes with enough M-13 rockets for one side of the rails.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Artillery, Eastern Front, Modelling, Soviet Army, Trucks, WWII

Men Looking Heroic in Trucks

More progress on the motor rifle infantry leaves them ready to play as Green troops in their first battle with a basecoat, ink wash and helmets painted. Faces and detail to follow.  Motor Rifle 3 My original Peter Pig trucks have had a drybrush of the Crafter’s Acrylic Cashmere that I have been using for the Soviets to produce the light stone colour that is sometimes seen on vehicles.

Motor Rifle 4Hopefully,  the authentic Soviet  ‘Posing Heroically in Trucks’ look has been nailed!

 

 

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Infantry, Modelling, Soviet Army, Trucks, WWII