Category Archives: WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 6

Hurricanes Blenheim MitchellG50

Hurricanes Blenheim Mitchell G50

The Desert Airforce has been languishing on my “to do” list for some time, so with 6 days to go, I had a roundel party. My dislike of decals is well known, so freestyle it was. Sixty roundels later the job was done.

Hurricane Wing

Hurricane Wings

They are by no means perfect, but they pass the three foot test. The camera is never as kind, but it means that the Hurricane wings will not fly into action naked. The picture was taken midway between painting fuselage letters on. I’m going with the accepted convention of spinner discs for most of them, being more robust than props. The G 50 is not lost, it needed markings too.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Air Forces, Modelling, RAF and Commonwealth AFs, Regia Aeronautica, Western Desert, WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 19

Folgore 187 Parachute Brigade with Divisional Support

Folgore 187 Parachute Brigade with Divisional Support

Folgore landed yesterday morning. I have never owned or seen Eureka Miniatures in the flesh before, and they are more impressive in the round than photos suggest. They scale well with early Peter Pig and PSC figures, contrasting favourably with  the current trend for “heroic” 15mm, (or Fatboy 15s™ as I think of them) The bulk on the Folgore figures correctly comes from the clothing, not the heads.

I only bought enough for 187 Brigade Two packets of eight with a mortar and commander to give four battalion stands, a mortar battery and a regimental HQ (with a light japanese gun standing in as a 47mm gun). Also in the order were a couple of Bersagliari on motorcycles, and some Gurkhas.

They have reached this stage of painting in Lightning-quick time, rather appropriately. Pictured also are the cork tiles painted in desert colours. Super-secret no more!

Desert Tiles

Desert Tiles

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, DAK, Italian Army, Italian Army, Modelling, WWII

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 23

Rommel's map of alamein

I found this map attributed to Rommel on the web, about which, I have a number of doubts, (the grid is mine) but it makes a nice basis for a gridded approximation. Other super-secret stuff has been going on with terrain (don’t hold your breath – it’s desert yellow!).

Elsewhere, those mischevious Russians have not, repeat not, been hacking into anybody’s medical records or super-secret HQs in The USA, GB or the Netherlands. It’s a conspiracy, someone just ate dodgy tea cakes, or something. Methinks the Kremlin doth protest too much!

A serious amount of painting is going on, for me anyway, and I almost met Paul Wisken aka General Whiskers, who kindly relieved me of some display shelving that was too good to take to the tip and too much hassle to ebay. Even more welcome, for being unexpected, were the two books that he left in exchange:

Chris Bishop’s Order Of Battle: German Panzers in WWII and George Nafziger’s The German Order of Battle: Infantry in World War II. Between the two books, they provide a staggering amount of organisational detail.

Printing off the player sheets for ALAMEIN  is the next job.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Land Battles, Western Desert, WWII

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

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 43

1941 MARMON HERRINGTON GUN TRACTOR

1941 MARMON HERRINGTON GUN TRACTOR

More artillery prime movers have appeared at SUEZ. This time they are stand-ins for Marmon Herrington Field Artillery Tractors. 9th Australian Division and 1st South African Division used them, and of course no-one makes a model of what is essentially a short-bodied Ford Chevrolet Truck.

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr rear

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr rear

Fortunately, QRF have a close-enough substitute in their Chevrolet truck. They actually sell two versions, a FSV02 30cwt Chevrolet truck for £6.00 in their French WW2 softskin range, and a PV05 Chevrolet 3 ton truck for £4.50 hidden in their Polish softskin range. Perhaps the ASV02 Chevrolet 1.5 ton GS in their American softskin range would also make a good substitute, but the front of the grille is too square.

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr

Marmon Herrington FAT and 25pdr

Although the Cargo bed appears too long, I made the models up as-is. Adding the spare wheel and shortening the backs can always be done later. The kits made up easily, but were the usual tired molds that needed filing to get a good fit. The cabs need shimming up at the back to allow them to sit level. A quick paint job and they were ready to go. Later I will put the soft-top cab roofs on, but time is pressing and there are more important things to do.

CMP FAT Stage 3

CMP FAT Stage 3

The masquerade CMP FATs and 25pdrs are coming on nicely. They now have the limbers covered in hessian, and one has the final camouflage net thrown over everything.  You can just see enough detatil to persuade you that there is more to the model than there really is! A bit of black painted-on detail is bringing the 25pdrs to life. I spent the best part of a day starting to paint divisional flashes onto vehicles, as organising them will be a major part of the forthcoming game.

CMP FAT Stage 4

CMP FAT Stage 4

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

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 52

A muster of Opposing Forces has revealed a number of gaps. Orders have gone out to factories in Germany and Great Britain.

Arriving at the Docks in SUEZ and ALEXANDRIA are:

Four Semi scratchbuilt 25Pdrs and CMP Quads (PSC are showing out of stock, so dredging the spares box delivered 4 metal barrels and 3 spare CMP roofs. Cam nets to the rescue!)

 

Camouflaged CMP FAT and 25pdr Stage 1

Camouflaged CMP FAT and 25pdr Stage 1

CMP FAT and 25 pdr side view Stage 1

CMP FAT and 25 pdr side view Stage 1

CMP FAT Stage 2

CMP FAT Stage 2

25pdr Stage 1 with FoW barrels and PSC Crew

25pdr Stage 1 with FoW barrels and PSC Crew

PSC CMP FAT vs dodgy scratchbuild

PSC CMP FAT vs dodgy scratchbuild

Four M3 Grants from a Forged In Battle (FiB) 20% sale (PSC have yet to release their kit).

Matador, 5.5" medium gun with 25pdr, Grant and CMP FATs

Zvezda Matador, FiB 5.5″ medium gun with 25pdr, FiB Grant and CMP FATs

Two FiB 5.5″ guns for:

 

  • 7th Medium Regt, RA Matador Limber (L3), 5.5″  gun (S3)

  • 64th Med Regt, RA Matador Limber (L3), 5.5″  gun (S3)

 

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

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 55

Alamein First Layout

Alamein First Layout

The Date is set for Operation Lightfoot as 27 October 2018, and should absorb 6-7 Players per side using NQM Squared rules (T0 be finalised by end Sep). I have spent a full day laying out the troops to see where the holes are in my Orbat.

I’m going to be relying heavily on Trebian, YesthatPhil and possibly Chris Ager if he is around  to fill holes: Two British Divisions, two Italian and the Greeks and Free French

It is quite obvious with the CSO Orbat that the logistic side is padded too much at the front. By halving battalion strengths from 6SP to 3SP, the command and logistic support for a division needs to shrink from from:

Comd (C3), Ammo (L3), POL (L3), Ambulance (L3), Workshop (L3) Signals (C3)

to:

Comd (C3), Log/POL (L3), Ambulance (L3), Workshop (L3) Signals (C3)

This is only a drop of L3, But artillery battalions are also shrinking from:

Limber/Tow  (L3), Gun (S3)

to:

Limber/Tow + Gun (S3)

so some of the headquarters and logistic function has moved to division.

The picture at the top shows just how much kit is going to squeeze onto an 11 x 5 foot table (22 x 10 squares), and I haven’t laid out the air power yet.

The next task is fitting the Operation into 6 hours of gaming with an hour to set up and break down. More trimming may follow!

Alamein First Layout - 2

Alamein First Layout – 2

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

15cm sIG 33s

Astute readers may have noticed that 707 and 708 Heavy Infantry Gun Companies‘ first appearance on the table was in the form of card markers.

164th Light Afrika Division

164th Light (Afrika) Division

I now have models to represent them, together with two more that will make their way into other divisions, but which for now, are painted up as Luftwaffe ground troops.

s.IG 33 15cm

sIG 33 15cm

It was news to me that the sIG 33 also had a high-explosive Stielgranate round that was used for bunker busting and minefield clearance. I have not found a record yet that indicates if any of these rounds made it out to North Africa.

s.IG 33 15cm threequarter view

sIG 33 15cm threequarter view

90th Light ‘Afrika’ Division – Corps Scale Orbat

  • 155th Panzergrenadier Regiment (with 707th Heavy Infantry Gun Company)  Comd Sdkfz 250, 251 or 263  + 37mm Pak (C3), Sdkfz 251 (F3), Truck (F3) + 15cm sIG 33 Inf How (S3)

  • 200th Panzergrenadier Regiment (with 708th Heavy Infantry Gun Company) Comd car + 3.7cm Pak (C3), 2 Truck (F3), + 15cm sIG 33 Inf How (S3)

 

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Filed under Artillery, DAK, Modelling, Western Desert, WWII

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