Category Archives: WWII

PSC Universal Carriers, and FoW India Pattern Carrier – WIP

 

The Universal Carrier was the workhorse that grew out of the pre-war tankette programmes, and which survived when the tankettes became outclassed by heavier tanks. It found its niche as a light-armoured personel carrier, being superceded in the British army by the US-produced M3 half track, and eventually by the FV432; but not before some 113,000 had been built according to Wickipedia.

PSC have produced a game-changer with their 15mm box of 9 carriers. The variations available have cracked open the market, with a plethora of spare crew and accessories to use after your preferred choice of model has been built.

I doubt if many gamers will be building seven FOO versions straight out of the box – but you can if you want to, and that is the strength of this offering. In price and flexibility they knock the spots of everyone’s resin offerings; okay, so you have to stick them together. Grow a spine youngsters, you are living in the Golden Age of 15mm kit offerings!

My motley crew are undercoated, tarted up with a few extra FOOs and heading off to their artillery regiments for active service. A couple are left for a Soviet lendlease example used by the divisional scout company,  and a spare carrier for a motor rifle battalion.

That just leaves the India Pattern Carrier, a FoW resin offering that has been waiting for some Sikh crew. Spare PSC bodies from the carrier set and a couple of Peter Pig heads completed the job. Here they are in all their silver-headed glory, waiting for some paint – Raman Singh and Jamansing*. The Soviet crew in the carrier behind are from the Command Decision tank Riders, and a PP Scout Commisar.

*Jamansing is a Gurung. I’m not quite sure how he ended up in a Punjabi regiment.

Advertisements

2 Comments

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

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.

2 Comments

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

Summer of Fun Concludes – on the Workbench

Having enjoyed myself determinedly over summer, this is what the fruit of a Summer of Fun looks like when autumn finally comes:

On the Workbench - summer of Fun Concludes

Just visible on the CMP Quads are some buttons standing in as spare wheels, as they went onto the extra 25pdrs that were made up from the spares on the sprues. The buttons will be covered by cam nets – every bodger’s friend! It turned out that the Sherman front casings did work on my Stuart bodges, with a bit of judicious trimming, and metal exhaust cylinders can be seen on some of the Stuart hulls.

There are more unmade kits in the pile, but I’m concentrating on gaps in my orbats before I go making stuff up speculatively. The  vehicles haven’t loaded up with their crews yet, as they are being painted separately.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Modelling, WWII

Concrete Sniffing in Vienna

Vienna was not intended to be concrete-sniffing holiday, but the  Die of Fate rolled and came up with a six. The lovely Mrs K (Suzanne) had booked us an apartment in a residential area between the Danube and the “Donau Kanal“, which meant that we were on a rather large island outside the old city walls, but near to the Augarten park and railway station. Our morning walk took us through the park and cafés into the city centre. We could have taken the tram, but then we would have missed this:

The Leittürme were smaller than the G-Türme!

Even Suzanne was impressed. We have both seen Flaktürme before in the Ruhr, and to find one looming unexpectedly over the trees in a park was a surprise. Then we walked around the corner and saw this:

It reminded me a little of the Emperor Dalek from the ’60s as it sat there with a squat malevolence that time had done nothing to diminish. Naturally, the locals had dialled it out of their mental landscape and only tourist such as ourselves gawked and photographed it.

 

This larger GefechtsTurm had come off second-best with time*, so part of the lower balcony had been removed post millenium, and steel cables girdled the structure, having pulled  the upper platform a good  metre or so out of alignment. The towers operated as a pair, with the L-Turm controlling fire for the G-Turm. Three such pairs protected Vienna in a triangle.

The Viennese, being pragmatic folk, have turned one Turm into a climbing wall, and another that sits rather inconveniently in the centre, into a Sealife Centre.

The rest of the holiday was filled with excellent Age of Enlightenment sights, food, and a concert in the Anna Kirche that need not concern us here, other than to say that Vienna is well worth a visit even without the concrete.

*And the attention of mischievous children,  who set fire to 2,000 flak rounds that still remained in the tower in 1946, the little scamps!

6 Comments

Filed under Off Topic, 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!

2 Comments

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

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

1 Comment

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

51st Highland Division on Parade

51st-infdiv

51st Highland Division

Sometimes, the only way to check that everyone is in Barracks is to put them on Parade. 51st Highland Division looks as if it is ready for a fight … “see Youse Jimmy“*. 40th Light Anti-aircraft Regiment is further back down the line of communications in the photo above.

51st HD infantry Battalions

In Real Life®, my portfolio is in and marked – a pass! My Viva Voce and Ethical paper have both been taken and the final paper is tomorrow. Too soon to celebrate, but I need some playtime!

*A bored colleague of mine, who worked at the Ministry of Defence, used to pick up the phone on  a Friday and announce “War Office … want a fight?

6 Comments

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

On the Workbench – PSC StugIII Part 2

PSC Stug IIIs with Stowage

With a face that only a mother could love, the StugIII is ugliness personified, yet it extended the use of the PzIII chassis to the end of the war in four ways:

  1. It was cheaper to build (82,500 Reichsmarks (RM) compared to 103,163 RM for a Pz III, and faster too – no turret.
  2. The profile was lower, making it harder to hit – did I mention the turret?
  3. By employing artillery crews, it put more guns and troops under armour at a time when the panzer arm was struggling to keep its strength up.
  4.  By limiting the traverse of the long 75mm gun, it enabled it to be mounted on a lighter, existing chassis without shaking it, or the crew, to bits with the recoil.

So throwing a heap of stowage onto the back of mine only enhanced the brutalist Corbusier look that was going on. PSC is very generous in the amount of stowage that it adds to its sprues*, so a pile has been added to the back decks.

IMG_7752 (3)

All the photo tutorials argue that natural lighting is a bad thing, casting shadows. But hang on, isn’t that how we view objects in true-scale?

*Customer feedback – throwing extras into a kit increases sales, it does not diminish them. I get two models out of some of PSC’s sprues, but it does not mean that I buy half as many kits as a result.

Leave a comment

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

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Artillery, Modelling, Wehrmacht, 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.

Leave a comment

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