Category Archives: Wehrmacht

Hexblitz First Game

Hexblitz 55 Rifle Div Closes on 4 Pz Div

Hexblitz 55 Rifle Div Closes on 4 Pz

With a couple of hours to set up and play Hexblitz, I wanted a simple set-up to get to grips with the rules. Trebian and YesthatPhil took the Soviet 5th Army and 4th Panzer Division respectively. 4Pz has been facing of against 5th Army for the last 2 months of winter as the Germans concentrate on their problems around MOSCOW, and the Soviets build up the necessary offensive power in the region.

The game set up is as above. In order to progress things, we adopted Ugo-Igo early on, until it became apparent that the card activated system was important.

LIPETSK

LIPETSK

I had underestimated the importance of  the defensive, static and moving state, which is why the game suddenly sprouted markers (and trees¹). Phil is very keen on markers being hidden, bringing his experience of Megablitz to bear. I am not keen on markers at all. Treb loves markers and cards, owning an impressive collection suitable for all occasions. For this game the red party balloons represented strength points and were removed when lost. White ones represented LOG points.

By this time, we were using all the game systems, and had identified a few questions regarding who fights whom in a free-for all brawl. I suspect that Bob organizes attacks so that anyone who is going to do so attacks a target at the same time, commanded by an HQ in command radius.

Hexblitz 20GR approaches the Outpost Line

Hexblitz 20GR approaches the Outpost Line

We were not quite as well coordinated as that, so had a few attacks going in piecemeal. That was the point where we learned that if you are going to be hit by several wavelets of the enemy, don’t be caught in flank or rear if you are not in a defensive position.

At the close of the battle, the Germans had taken a heavy beating, but the Soviets had not captured LIPETSK (Липецк). The game probably only ran at half speed, so any comments about it being faster or slower than other systems are really not valid at this stage. There is more structure to Hexblitz than NQM, so gamers who like proper rules will really like Hexblitz and Megablitz. Players who want flexibility or a framework to hang house rules on will probably prefer NQM.

Hexblitz 55 and 56 Rifle Divs attack 4Pz

Hexblitz 55 and 56 Rifle Divs attack 4Pz

I’m greatly encouraged by the run-through and will try it again, but we need to use fewer SPs next time (40 and 80 for defender and attacker was too ambitious for a first game).

My first thought is that the rules are perfect for solo play, so I will solo a game next before inflicting my imperfect umpiring of someone else’s rules on other players.

  1. Everyone knows that Russia in winter is full of fir trees
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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Axis War Diary, Eastern Front, Land Battles, Soviet Army, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, Wehrmacht, 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

NOVOGOROD Mar ’43 – NQM Squared

 

31 Rifle Div in the Attack on a 9 km Frontage

31 Rifle Div in the Attack on a 9 km Frontage

VELIKY NOVOGOROD sits  astride the River Volkhov, at the northern tip of Lake Ilman. The Command decision Hex Grid Europa map runs a straight rail line between LENINGRAD and MOSCOW, and ignores this inconvenient piece of geography to put NOVOGOROD on the rail line.

33 Rifle Div Assaults 126 Inf Div in NOVOGOROD

33 Rifle Div Assaults 126 Inf Div in NOVOGOROD

For this game, finishing the Soviet winter offensive, I put the city and rail lines back where They should be. It was also the first outing of the new squared board, and a chance to see how a Wehrmacht Korps defence in depth fared against a Soviet army of 3 divisions.

30 Inf Div Defend the River Volkhov

30 Inf Div Defend the River Volkhov

To the south, 126 Infantry Division held NOVOGOROD, and to the north, 30 Infantry Division held a line 9 km deep.

 

33 Rifle Div advances on NOVOGOROD

33 Rifle Div advances on NOVOGOROD

32 Rifle Div Moves up to the VolKhov

32 Rifle Div Moves up to the Volkhov

Facing them was 34th Army with 31, 32 and 33 Rifle Divisions. As in Phil’s original game, we used Tim Gow’s Megablitz SMART counters to codify the tactical stance of the two sides, but we retained the NQM table 12 winning the firefight for resolving combat. Phil’s movement table was used.

First Bridgehead over the Volkhov

First Bridgehead over the Volkhov

During the course of the game, 33 Rifle made no progress attempting to break into NOVOGOROD, contenting itself with demonstrating outside. 32 Rifle forced a crossing over the River Volkhov, and broke into the main line of 30 Inf, but was forced to withdraw as a spent force. 31 Rifle was more successful, with one of its regiments finding the northern flank of 30 Inf, and bypassing it.

Hier ist die Luftwaffe!

Hier ist die Luftwaffe!

The Luftwaffe  was more active than over LENINGRAD, and succeeded in driving off Sturmovik regiments and inflicting some damage on one of the river crossings, but failing to destroy either.

They Couldn't Hit a Barn Door at this Dist....

They Couldn’t Hit a Barn Door at this Dist….

The month ended with NOVOGOROD surrounded but the Wehrmacht falling back in relatively good order until the Rasputitsa halted all movement in the north for a month.

High Water Mark

High Water Mark

Post Game Ideas that were Discussed:

  1. Allow attacks from troops that share a square edge in common, but not corners.
  2. Ranged support troops (artillery, AA) can be further back.
  3. Air assets can be placed on airfields or baseline at the start of the game. They must roll an appropriate number to activate a sortie (or perhaps get the first one free), then return to base and reactivate when they reach an appropriate score – perhaps reducing the number by one on each subsequent attempt, perhaps not..
  4. Recce and Engineers show hits on their main (E3) or (R3) stand, but the markers can show where the actual effort is going in.
  5. Defences need to be shown in a fairly abstract manner

 

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

Leningrad Counteroffensive (4)

LENINGRAD 4 Guards Rifles North 1

LENINGRAD  – 4 Guards Rifles Assault from the North

As the battle for LENINGRAD moved into the centre of the city, heavy guns from the captured icebound Soviet Fleet came into play.

 

Not Your Run-of-the-Mill Wargame

Not Your Run-of-the-Mill Wargame

LENINGRAD SE

LENINGRAD SE

On the Soviet side, no fewer than three B-4 and B-2 regiments laid down a sustained bombardment of the shrinking German lines. This was the largest concentration of heavy artillery seen since the siege of MOSCOW.

Engineers came into their own, with two bridges proving harder to demolish than their size would suggest. Rolling two successive ones didn’t help either!

LENINGRAD Failed Demolition

Anything but a one!

Second Bridge Demolished in the Nick of Time

Second Bridge Demolished in the Nick of Time

The LENINGRAD garrison continued to be pressed from the north, east and south.  Soviet siege artillery pounded the centre of  the  City into rubble with no respite.

13 MR Assault

13 Motor Rifle Assault

Retreat at the Pace of the Slowest

Retreat at the Pace of the Slowest

The survivors that streamed out of the city were shell-shocked and reduced in numbers by 30-60%, And the attackers fared little better as General Zhukov fed more divisions into the meat grinder.

LENINGRAD City Centre

LENINGRAD City Centre

LENINGRAD City Centre is Retaken

LENINGRAD City Centre is Retaken

The Commander of I Infantry Corps received a LittleFuhrer directive ordering LENINGRAD to be held to the last man. It was already far too late for that, so after ordering a breakout and fallback onto the Oranienbaum position, The Corps Commander joined the final few survivors clinging to the Docks area.

I Corps Commander's Final Stand

I Corps Commander’s Final Stand

He was last seen ordering the destruction of fuel oil and ammunition on the jettys, before being overwhelmed.

I Corps Commander's Final Stand

I Corps Commander’s Final Stand

The Soviets, too, were at the end of their resources, so consolidated their position against counterattacks. A final assault on ORANIENBAUM was repulsed. As the Rasputitsa began its thaw and ice on the NEVA broke up, an uneasy peace settled over the  ruined city of LENINGRAD.

 

Nose to Tail on the ORANIENBAUM Road

Nose to Tail on the ORANIENBAUM Road

Game notes:

The new bases speed things up by making it clearer which battalions belong where in attack and defence. I don’t quite know if I approve of the tidiness, but it makes things faster for the players, so that’s good.

Engineers were vital in this game. Neither side had enough. Normally an engineer base is 1SP; I tripled this to 3SP and things were still tight. I ruled that breaching minefields under fire needed a 4-6 on 1d6 in the first turn, with an accumulating one reduction in second and third turns to 2-6 as a minimum die roll on subsequent rurns.

We started by recording hits by placing a die next to the unit affected, then by placing pin markers at the end of a move. It helped to show the situation during attacks. It is easier to place pins on the new larger bases.

The total playing time worked out at about 8 hours, with an hour at each end setting up and packing down. You are not imagining it if you think that the paint jobs on some of the units became more complete during the game. I took advantage of the layout to touch up a few of my own units during the intervals between games.

I need more ambulances and radio trucks for both sides.

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Soviet Winter Offensive- Battle for VYAZMA March 1943

VYAZMA 35th Infantry Division Defensive Line

Winter deepened its grip on the approaches to SMOLENSK as Soviet forces ground slowly east. 35th Infantry Division Landsers shivered in their dugouts and shell scrapes on the approaches to VYAZMA in a more heavily wooded broadleaf landscape than the southern steppes. Although this afforded more timber for defences, it did little to provide overhead cover.*

VYAZMA Soviet First Wave Break Through

Sitting midway on the MINSK highway between MOSCOW and SMOLENSK, both sides saw VYAZMA as a vital regional hub.

35th Infantry Division Retreats to VYAZMA under Air Attack

“Where is my air support?” was the cry from both commanders. The Luftwaffe were frozen in to their meagre forward airstrips, but Soviet Sturmoviks were seen flying in regimented formations to attack the enemy.

Soviet Second Wave Passes Through the Enemy Defenses

The scouts of 38 and 40 Rifle Divisions were barely slowed by the German forward outposts, and with little by way of artillery to oppose them, soon overran the southern regiment in their main defensive line. In the absence of effective anti-tank guns, even T-60s provided armoured support.

Soviet First Wave Reaches VYAZMA

As the south of the main defensive line collapsed, the central and northern regiments fell back in good order without managing to delay the Soviet infantry to VYAZMA. Here, they at least had effective Flak, artillery and shelter. As the last troops entered the city, engineers sealed off the defensive minefields protecting the eastern approaches.

The Ring Closes Around VYAZMA

Soviet airstrikes pounded the town, answered by Flak that may have had a dissuasive effect, but did little damage. This prelude to the main infantry assault did nothing to dismay the defenders, and a robust defence held the first two waves of Soviet infantry.

Sturmoviks over VYAZMA

After a sustained firefight, 40th Rifle Division broke into the south of VYAZMA, unleashing armoured forces from 5th Shock Army, 4th Mechanised Corps through the minefields but stripping their motor rifle support from them.

5th Shock Army Tanks Break Through

These tanks, on finding themselves unsupported, turned north to attack VYAZMA linking back with 40th Rifle Division, but being engaged by a static and self-propelled antitank gun screen.

VYAZMA Southern Outskirts

Difficulties with snow and supplies had delayed the counterattack of 7th Panzer Division and 20th Panzer Grenadier Division, but it appeared from the southeast of VYAZMA, having conducted a wide outflanking march, but having failed to catch the head of the Soviet southern pincer that was burrowing into the suburbs of the city.

20th Panzergrenadiers Counterattack

Although the attack reached the main MINSK highway, by this stage the defenders in the city centre were collapsing or pulling out of the centre, with little left to oppose the enemy.**

7th Panzer Division Cuts the Minsk Highway

A northern pincer from the Soviet 7th Tank Corps crashed into the city defences at about this time, sealing the defender’s fate. Flurries of Little Führer directives  ordering a defence to the last man had no effect on the masses of Germans fleeing west, but sealed the fate of headquarters 35th Infantry Division and its accompanying divisional troops. Counterattacks by 9th Infantry Division failed to break back in to the city to relieve them.

VYAZMA Falls to 5th Shock Army

Game Notes

*I had put the fir trees out before I toured VYAZMA on Google Map. Yesthat Phil shrugged it off as an annoying fact that gets in the way of a good story. Everybody knows that Russia in Winter is full of nothing but snow, fir trees and wolves. You can’t argue with that.

** Morale was universally high throughout this game, with the exception the Soviet troops to the north of the city, who were content to let their countrymen to the south do the hard work. German shooting was mostly poor, with the exception of the defenders to the north, and the engineers. The two states were not unconnected.

The armoured troops that closed on VYAZMA were previously unknown to Oberkommando Heer but were eventually identified as being part of Lt. General Popov’s 5th Shock Army, previously thought to have been on the Stalingrad Front.

The game was fought over 2 evenings, fuelled by well-preserved Stollen, on a 5 x 3  foot table, hence the rather crowded area around VYAZMA, which would ideally have occupied four times the real estate.

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The Soviet Winter Offensive Takes the SERPUKHOV to MOSCOW Line – Winter 1942/3

Knots of German Resistance

As the front around MOSCOW collapsed, the landscape filled with large and small  groups of Germans retreating to the west. Lacking heavy equipment, knots and pockets of resistance caused just enough delay to the advancing Soviets to keep a semblance of order and a front line, albeit one with rents kilometers wide.

NQM Delaying Action Winter 1942/3

 

Some resistance was more resolute than others, 12th Infantry Division, in particular, fighting hard to buy enough time for the front to reform.  Advancing against them were 38 and 57 Rifle Divisions.

38 and 57 Rifle Divisions Advance to Contact

For some of the hard-pressed Landser, it was easier to fight and die in position than to continue trudging through the snow. Iron-hard ground and lack of time to prepare reduced the effectiveness  of the German advanced defensive line.

12th Infantry Division Advance Defensive Line

Behind the forward troops, preparations proceeded as fast as the appalling conditions would allow.

Roads Provided Tenuous Lines of Communication

Anxious troops, with little time to rest, wearily awaited the Enemy. To their front, the forward defensive line is breached.

The Forward Line is Breached

Waves of advancing Soviets press forward to the main defensive line.

NQM Soviet Advance Winter 1942/3

The Divisional Railhead is a scene of frantic activity as the Enemy draws nearer.

NQM Divisional Railhead Winter 1942/3

Even a captured Soviet armoured train is pressed into service.

A Captured Soviet Armoured Train is Pressed into Service

But just as 12th Infantry Division, was at the limit of its endurance, the pressure began to ease. The Soviet advance had outpaced its own supply lines and come to a halt. at the end of this two-hour battle with YesthatPhil taking the Axis, and the Author playing the Soviets as a player-umpire (Plumpire). The Change in the map looked like this:

12 Inf Div holds the SERPUKHOV to MOSCOW line

12 Infantry Division holds the SERPUKHOV to MOSCOW line

The Soviet Winter Offensive Takes the SEPUKHOV to MOSCOW Line Winter 1942/3

The Soviet Winter Offensive Takes the SEPUKHOV to MOSCOW Line Winter 1942/3

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On the Workbench – PSC 15mm Sturmgeschütze

IMG_7770 (2)

The Sturmgeschütz sprue gives the option to make up later variants of the gun from G onwards with the earlier box mantlet or the Saukopf. With a bit of creative bodging, two models will come out of this sprue, as long as you are happy to have an early and a late G model respectively.

I’m fairly relaxed about mocking up close approximates of tracks from dowel and card, but it struck me that I had a redundant old RoCoPz IV in 1/87 scale, so the tracks were cut down to make a “close enough” match. Having accused German production of being ramshackle in my last post, in the picture above, I have exceeded anything they could have cobbled together.

Repurposed RoCo Pz IV tracks on the Stug III on the right

The profile at the back doesn’t look quite right from the side, but the Schurtzen plates will hide most of it.

StuG IIIGs, early and late models

And from the front, I’m not going to notice unless I’m really bored enough to count rivets.

Count the rivets on the front glacis plate

So … two models for the price of one. I shall stick some stowage and camouflage on to hide the odd missing bits, and probably a few tank riders for good measure.

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More Tilting

Flatbeds are much more useful on the wargames table than trucks with covered canopies, but having overdosed on PSC 15mm Raupenschleppers the tinkerer in me thought,

“what would a tilt frame look like?”

Raupenschlepper Ost with Brass Wire Tilt

Here is the answer: For good measure, I added some canopy struts to one of the QRF  Bedford QLBs that had been assembled earlier. Now it is just crying out for a couple of scruffy gunners lounging in the back.

Bedford QLB with Brass Wire Tilt

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

Raupenschlepper Progress

I took a break from the massive heap of nowhere-near-finished British Desert Infantry to complete something achievable. It turned out to be a true-scale door (don’t ask) and this practically free Raupenschlepper Ost with the scratchbuilt tracks.

img_7752

It turns out that a creative bit of paintwork on the wheels can fool the eye into thinking that it is a proper model. I’ve grouped it with a Peter Pig Pak 38 to lend it some credibility, and because it is heading straight to one of my Neu Art German infantry divisions. Note the over-the-top superdetailing on the grenadier’s collar tabs. He is very proud of his new Waffenfarben.

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Camouflage nets 3

Camouflaged Raupenschlepper 7.5cm PaKs

Camouflage nets come to the rescue on my Raupenschlepper bodges. Even though the Germans don’t need them for a (game) year or so, I dressed them and put the crews in place, because they were fun to do.

Raupenschlepper Scratchbuilt Tracks

One more ‘Schlepper was eked out of an einheits cab, tilt and side panels, with the track coming from a 1/200th approximately set of Panther tracks. These came from some models that (I think) Bob Cordery gave me some years ago. Another was built with a scratchbuilt set of tracks.

RSO Ost

This brings the theoretical number of models that can be made from the PSC box to twelve; not bad at all! This assumes that you are prepared to fill in the gaps with a lot of card and paper. Raupenschlepper from Rubbish

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