Category Archives: tank

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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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Artillery, Modelling, tank, WWII

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

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

Pointless Conversion – M3 Honey Epilogue

IMG_7752 (2)

Both fans of my previous M5 to M3 Honey conversion* may be wondering how well it stands up. It is even more of a pointless conversion now that the kit it represents is available straight out of the box. At the  time I built it, I thought it was too bulky in the front glacis plate. I turns out that I was right, as the comparison shots show.

IMG_7751 (2)

My mid-production round-turreted M3s that are tricked out in olive paint can head off to the Soviet army now that their slots in the orbat are filled with PSC kits. The M5s are still waiting for me to sort out American troops for Tunisia.

Stuart M3s

Originally, about 170 M3s were sent to 7th Armoured Division, 4th Armoured Brigade in March – mid November 1941.  My 5 out of the box represent 150 scaled at 30:1 ….sorted. The PSC box gives enough spare parts to make another full kit from each sprue with a bit of bodging missing bits. It is worth noting that on the instruction sheet, the green and red coloured hulls have been marked the wrong way round. Do a trial fit first to see what I mean.

I think that the spare M4 Sherman forward hull casings might stand in with a bit of trimming. I shall have to check that.

Stuart M3s and an M5 face into the setting sun

*YesthatPhil, and me!

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

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

Things to do in a Tank

rommeling-in-a-tankRommel – obviously.

Of all the things to do in a tank, the top thing must surely be to stand in the turret , like Rommel. This is known as Rommelling or “doing a Rommel”. The size of your tank matters. A King Tiger is a suitable mount in which to do a Rommel; a CV33 is not.

Romelling in a CV33Note the ironic grin of the driver on the right of the picture. He knows that his commander is not cutting the mustard.

Coming in as a close second, is Holding Binos in a Tank – if you are half out of the turret, it counts as a half-Monty*. here is Monty doing it:

bernard_law_montgomery_1942

Pay attention to the chap behind him (probably the actual tank commander), who scores extra cool points for Wearing Tank Goggles. He has wisely opted for slinging them around his neck, as wearing them like shades is a bit Italian or girly. Being girly in a tank is only cool if you are Tank Girl:

tank-girl

Russians are encouraged to lounge on the outside of the tank.

WallmanskiHere are some wargamers pretending to be Russians.

This has the added benefit of being suicidal if the tank is moving. Russians seem to prefer this, and have nailed the Heroic Advance Look, especially after consuming toxic quantities of vodka that would pickle a frog, or a normal liver.

desantny

Germans always look as if they are retreating, and Brits just look as if they are picnicking or having a smoke break.

german-grenadiers-on-sturmgeschutz

british_tank-riders_on_a_comet_in_early_1945

Aiming a machine gun is another top activity for commanders. WH4oK Commisars take this to a whole new level by waving chainswords and pistols from the commander’s hatch.

Baneblade CommanderHere is a wargamer pretending to be a Commisar.

Finally, we come to pointing. This is a difficult look to pull off and the two examples below illustrate this perfectly:

rommel-pointingHere is Rommel pretending to be a wargamer

presidents-new-tankRelease the chimps!

As a rule, only officers point. NCOs realise that pointing attracts Enemy Interest in a way that shouting does not. For the record, pointing the way that you are going is generally held to be better for morale than pointing back the way that you came from.

*A full Monty is completely different

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Filed under Off Topic, tank

Midwinter Reflection

2 Guards Mechanised Form Upo For the Attack in three columns2 Guards Mechanised form up for the attack in three columns of march

The fall of MOSCOW airfield marked the end of Phil’s visit to the games table. He left his Boxfiles behind as he plans to come back before New Year’s Eve. Naturally, I took the opportunity to photograph some of the contents and slot pictures into the orbats in place of some of my dodgier place-markers. A bit of rounding off happened too, during which the northern thrust around Moscow finally broke through the exhausted defenders. A hasty counterattack took back the airfield and southern defences, though not the eastern side of the riverbank. Flying into MOSCOW was going to be a precarious enterprise from now on, as the eastern end of the field would be under fire from across the River MOSKVA.

Over the past 30 years, head-on armoured battles have been a bit of a rarity (as you might expect from rules titled Not Quite Mechanised). During the course of the day I had been reflecting on the last time that armoured forces clashed at GAZALA. The comment then had been that something more formal was needed to cover the gaps. Phil is developing NQMsquared (or Megablitzsquared) and I’m happy that he is troubling to do the work on a system of squares that I enjoy playing, but don’t want to develop myself.

1 Shock Army is about to run head on into 7 Panzer Division in a mini PROKHOROVKA, so the battle rules will run like this:

As the lead elements of mobile forces run into each other, there will be an initial point contact as one or more bases touch each other at the head or front rank of the column. Resolve each combat in the normal way for winning the firefight.

When mobile stands fight enemy stands of different armour value in this way, everyone at the point of contact may choose which stand to direct their fire onto.*

The winner may:

  • Advance in contact (if mobility = or better than enemy mobility).
  • Hold fast.
  • Break off combat (if mobility is better than enemy mobility, or the enemy does not wish to remain in combat) to make contact with a command or logistic stand, where they can reorganise pins away as long as they are out of contact with enemy bases and not under fire from artillery. This takes a whole move.
  • Reinforce the combat with any other troops that are mobile enough to enter the combat.

The loser may:

  • Fall back in contact with the winner, if the loser is mobile enough (otherwise the loser can be bypassed if the winner chooses, and be engaged by follow-on forces who so choose).
    • If the enemy does not wish to advance, the loser may remain in combat for another round, morale permitting.
    • If the enemy wishes to remain in contact with the loser, and is mobile enough, he may do so.
  • Break off contact (if loser’s mobility is better than enemy mobility).
  • Fall back behind unengaged friendly troops, who will halt the enemy and engage him.
  • Mobile logistic stands can fight, but must fall back to their maximum limit in the face of the enemy as they attempt to fight.
  • If logistic stands are in prepared defences, they can halt a mobile enemy and fight, but can only halt non-armoured troops.
    • This means that armoured troops can choose to pass through logistic units without fighting them.
    • If logistic troops lose a combat from a defensive position, they must fall back in the normal way.
    • If they are passed through as described they may remain in position.
  • Fall back out of combat, into contact with a command or logistic stand, where they can reorganise pins away as long as they are out of contact with enemy bases and not under fire from artillery. This takes a whole move.

Example 1:

  • A PzIII stand (M armour, M gun) contacts a T-70 (L armour, L gun). The PzIII puts a pin onto the T-70 which elects to fall back.
  • The PzIII is joined by a SdKfz stand (L armour, L gun) from the second rank of the advancing column, as it advances to maintain contact. On the second round of combat the T-70 takes two pins and chooses to fire at the (L) Sdkfz causing one pin.
  • The T-70 falls back again to find a logistic stand but the Fascists advance to keep it in contact and are joined in the front rank by a command stand. On the third round of combat the T-70 takes no pins and chooses to fire at the unarmoured command stand, treating it as a (M) gun firing at a (L) target** causing one pin.

It can be seen in the picture at the top of the page that 2 Guards Mechanised Division is formed up in three columns of attack. Each column has armour at the head, followed by supporting infantry, then support (S), command (C) and logistic (L) stands.

*British commanders in the Western Desert complained on occasion that their anti-tank gunners shot up softskins in preference to armour, as it was easier to ‘brew them up’

** Remember that all armour and gun values are relative to each other. We reason that 45mm guns firing armour piercing (AP) at medium tanks would have a light effect, but the same guns firing AP or HE at unarmoured targets would have a medium effect.

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Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Rules Examples, tank, Wargames, WWII

Bergepanzer III and IV

Enough Sheddery, and trucking about; here are some proper tanks! The Bergepanzer III is a conversion of an overscale Austrian 1/87 jobbie that has been in my collection for ever, but will look fine next to some of my big trucks. The Bergepanzer IV is an old RoCo that did brief service in my AK47 collection. They bring some much-needed endurance to the Wehrmacht.

Bergepanzer III and IV WIPA simple card box on the III, a card plate on the IV, some bits, and that’s about it.

Bergepanzer II and IV undercoatTrue-scale undercoat on the unpainted bits, including the commander of the III.

Bergepanzer III and IV frontView from the front.

Bergepanzer III and IV threequarter view… and the side. Ready to roll.

Apparently, Inland Revenue has an app now, for scouring the internet to expose hidden income. For the books, here is an example of my rock-and-roll lifestyle:

Waking up after a night on the tilesThe morning after a night on the tiles!

Power Tools and BeerPower tools and beer – ideal companions!

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Logistics, Modelling, Off Topic, tank, The Den, Wehrmacht, WWII

The Thingy

Karma has patted me gently on the back – I pontificate about rubbish Munchkin tanks and get one as a birthday present! The only way to respond to such gentle winds of fate is to superdetail my splendid gift, so that I have another Munchkin to annoy Trebian with*.

Pointing With StyleThe Titan Terror Tank MkII runs out of fuel outside the gates of an oil refinery.

The development history of the “Mammut” super heavy tank built for the Bokassan Navy is short, fictitious and complex: Originally built in 1936 as a failed prototype for a wheel- track convertible super heavy tank by Vickers, the “Jumbo” was taken into service by the Bokassan Navy to provide inland fire support beyond the range of the navy’s two monitors. the Navy hoped that this step-jump in size from the “Titan Terror Tank Mk1” would give it a clear lead against the Army of Dog.

Early attempts to use the tank “as is” (see picture above) convinced the Admiralty Board that a wheel-track 300 ton convertible tank with a pull cord for motive power had no future in a country with few all-weather roads. It was sent to the Munchkin workshops, where such defects as no frontal hull or rear armour were rectified. The dummy wooden prototype gun was replaced by an 8″ naval gun and a 105mm anti aircraft gun in the main turret. A further 40mm Bofors was added to the turret roof, and two Rheinmetall 20mm AA guns and machine guns were set into flying bridge wings on the turret. Because of this, Bokassan infantry are wont to call the tank “Dumbo” on the basis that it will never fly.

Titan Terror Tank Mk IIATowering against the evening sky of the Velt, the Titan Terror Tank Mk IIA’s sky camouflage is fooling no-one.

Two panzer III engines powering electric drive trains ensured that the tank would struggle with all but the gentlest of inclines. Each tank has a crew of 30** and a supporting battalion of mechanics, protecting infantry, and logisticians to keep it running. Cooling louvres were added to the formerly excellent side armour of the hull, in order to reduce the excess heat generated by the motors to merely paint-blistering.

At the time of writing, the tank has yet to cover more than 1km without overheating or bogging in, and has never made it to a battlefield before the action has ended on move six.

AK47munchkinWith a side profile that only a mother could love, the square Munchkin fits the minimum legal base profile for Old School AK47

*He described the 40mm square Munchkin as an “abomination”; he’s going to love this one 🙂

** Including the Commadore’s batman.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, AK47, Modelling, Off Topic, tank

On the Workbench – Stuart M5 Tanks

On the Workbench - 4

The Plastic Soldier Company M5 Stuart box is excellent value, as it comes with not just 5 tanks, but also 5 free hulls and sets of tracks to make artillery tractors, and recce Stuarts with the turrets removed. The card to fabricate the hulls is even provided by the box. I won’t need the tractors until the Italian campaign starts, but they can stand in for T-70 limbers until then.

Left-handed scissor work is getting easier after 3 days practice, even if it is half speed.

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Filed under Modelling, tank