Category Archives: tank

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 31

7th Armoured Division Armoured Brigades

7th Armoured Division Armoured Brigades

If you want a non work-or-alcohol induced headache, try assembling the armour, colour schemes and divisional insignia of the British Armoured divisions at 2nd ALAMEIN into some sort of coherent order! Individual schemes and contempory photographs are there a-plenty, but enough exceptions exist to demonstrate that any attempt to show realism with one tank representing a battalion is doomed to failure. Look closely at some of the artwork online to see that the camo patterns don’t line up, or make no sense. No-one can agree on the colours used, were they thinned black, or chestnut brown, or both?

51st Highland Division Forming up

51st Highland Division Forming up

Tanks were shot at, they broke down mechanically, were recovered, and then were shipped back to whoever needed them, in their old markings until they could be repainted. When they were, it was with whatever was to hand, with local interpretations of the regulations, so I’ve gone with loose adherence to patterns and optimistically painted, impressionistic divisional flashes¹. As time goes on I can always rework them in the light of more considered research.

Ist Armoured Division Armoured Brigades

1st Armoured Division Armoured Brigades

For this reason, my vehicles rattle over the cork desert in multiple shades of sand, olive and brown.  I applaud people that are able to paint a uniform shade of yellow for the allies and another for the Axis: the results are spectacular. War though, is a thoroughly shambolic, scruffy affair suggesting that adding detail in layers over the years will give a more authentic military appearance, so shiny new tanks appear next to beat-up tinkers carts in my collection, with very little uniformity in evidence.

9th Armoured Brigade with 2nd New Zealand Division

9th Armoured Brigade with 2nd New Zealand Division

All the shots above show the armour assembling for the attack, ready to pour through the minefield gaps. The newer tanks are positively glowing in their factory-fresh paint schemes.

 

  1. Still not sold on decals.

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