An Exhausted 50th Division is Fought to a Standstill on D+5
By now the cauldron had been renamed “Plum Pudding Hill” by the Umpire, as it had turned into a big pile of infantry with tanks poured over them like custard. I should have imposed some order earlier, but Gary R and Tim G were passing all their morale tests, and having fun, so it seemed simpler top go with the flow.
Plum Pudding Hill
When the combat finally resolved, both 50th Infantry Division and 22nd Armoured Brigade were shattered. 21 Panzer was in little better shape, so when leading elements of 10th Armoured Division appeared to their rear, they were foced to turn about and fight them off.
Ariete in Position to prevent the Inevitable Breakthrough
Pavia was confident in the deep south that having Ariete supporting them for a counterattack would stave off any threatened breakthrough from 4th Light Armoured Brigade. The earlier failure to stem the northern breakthrough was having consequences though, as Ariete was called north to bolster the Italian withdrawal. There seemed to be a callous lack of sympathy from the German High Command as they efficiently regrouped prior to withdrawing, and Pavia broadcast their betrayal to anyone who would listen.
Ramke had known this for a few hours already, through Luftwaffe channels, but when the order came to pull back, they were still heavily engaged and had to wait until 50th Division and the dashing “Pip” Roberts had immolated themselves on “Plum Pudding Hill” before sloping off in the gathering dusk of D+5.
Pavia Abandoned to their Fate
Finally, 1st Free French had driven off the remains of Kampfgruppe Kiel, and threaded a way through the minefields to the south of Pavia, paving the way for 4th Light Armoured Brigade to break out into the open desert.
Free French – Bon Alors!
Allied 9 AUS – 51 HD – 1SA looking North
Before committing too heavily to squares, I set up this scenario as a TaGWiT (Tactical Game With Toys), to see what the real estate looked like, and to see if 2nd Alamein fitting into 22 squares from top to bottom was a realistic proposition.
The top third of the battlefield (7 squares) fits three Commonwealth divisions – 9 AUS, 51 HD and 1SA, and a third to half of MITEIYIRA RIDGE. This gives two squares or 6Km per division, which is fine, as the frontage of 51HD started at just over a mile wide and spread to about 2.5 miles.
el Alamein 51HD advance
Axis North Front Line at 2nd ALAMEIN
It all looks very crowded on the tabletop, but like KURSK, this was a head-on WWI-style frontal attack with little room for manoeuvre.
2nd Battle of El Alamein – 001
An Allied division fits nicely into 4-5 squares. I have some work to do on the look of contours, they are too high-rise at the moment and Iwould like to avoid the square platform with cliff-edge look. There is nothing wrong with that approach – I’m just not fond of it. My first attempt was to just take a band saw to some of the squared cowboy terrain pieces that seen little real wargame use over the past five years.
7 Bersaglieri in Thompsons Post Looking East
Thompsons Post and Breakout
This casting simultaneously displays all that is good and bad about QRF models:
GSV07 SdKfz 7, 8 tonne tractor with 8 man crew
For £4.50, you buy a huge hunk of metal that sits solidly on the table with square tracks and wheels, in contrast to some of the other models that I bought.
Headlamps are absent. The detail around the back of the body is awful, with simultaneous excess flash, and shrinkage of the mould. the right rear side of the body is narrower than the middle seat. The front mudguards are not square to the body.
After much filing, all the original detail had been filed flat and there were still shrinkage pits and mould lines in the body. Cam nets – every bodger’s friend – may be needed to rescue this casting. One of my tracks should not have passed quality control, but then neither should the body. I have given the model a rubbish undercoat-quality paint job just to get it onto the wargames table.
The eight crew are a nice bonus; they sit properly on the bench seats without extensive podiatric surgery to make them fit. Although nicely detailed and proportioned, they are too narrow across the shoulders. I can live with that.
Unlike previous reviews, other firms make better ‘7s. My favourite is the Forged in Battle resin ‘K Seven, which exhibits superior detail in every respect. Go with Skytrex if you want a better metal model, albeit at nearly twice the price. It does not demand two hours of fiddling about to produce an acceptable sculpt ready for painting. The Flames of War cast is disqualified as it is actually an SdKfz 6. I would still buy it in preference to the QRF one if I wanted another ‘six’.
In summary, I cannot recommend this model at all until QRF renew the master and bring it to the same standard as their postwar stuff. If, however, you are planning to convert an SdKfz 7 Flak Mess Truppen Kraftwagen (Flak rangefinding tractor), which is the one with the big box body at the back, then this is a good cheap chassis to start with.
These are actually my two favourite models, even though they display all the usual QRF faults, namely miscasted locating pins, excess flash and nothing quite fitting or square. It seems to matter less on these lively sculpts as they lurch across the wargames table, festooned with three crew, an MG and four panzerfausts! I can just live with the stupidly wide handlebars and too-short wheelbase. Peter Pig does it better on this one, in my opinion, but QRF just pips it for composition. See also YesthatPhil’s review on his blog.
QRF don’t specify the motorcycle. That’s fine, as I can’t tell from the sculpts, but £3.50 gives me two models for my recce and motorcycle battalions.
I’m going with it being the BMW R75 on balance rather than the Zundapp KS750, as the Z’s distinctive ‘A’ frame is absent, even though the distinctive Beemers twin horizontally opposed cylinders are modelled as a single vague lump. I have fond memories of my old Beemer R75 tourer, and less fond ones of my Cossack Dnieper (I managed to burn holes in both piston heads, the metal was so poor!)
With this amount of detail (accurate or not) hitting the eye, the model hides its faults well, so I reserve my right to be inconsistent and to recommend this model, despite its flaws.
It is some time since 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions shook out into march formation on the desert sands. Here is progress to date as they form up ready to attack:
New additions to 15th Panzer Division include a new SdKfz 10/4 at bottom right protecting the divisional headquarters and an SdKfz 11 towing the 7.62cm PaK 38 (r) at top left. My SdKfz 250/10 is now in the gepanzert grenadier battalion at middle left.
Similarly, 21st Panzer Division sports a new SdKfz 10/4 at bottom right and an SdKfz 11 towing the 7.62cm PaK 38 (r) at top left. The gepanzert grenadier battalion at middle left has a new SdKfz 250/11, with a 250/3 for the regimental commander.
3 Chenillettes are still standing in for limbers and an ambulance.
I have painted enough Fallschirmjäger to begin to put the Ramke Parachute Brigade together.
Regimental Headquarters with Recce and an Airfield Security Detachment
Artillery and Anti-tank Batteries
Fallschirmjäger Abteilung x 3
Ramke is having to borrow equipment from wherever he finds it at the moment, but I am sure that it is not going to daunt a dynamic chap like him. Troops in boxes close to him are doubling the pickets on their vehicle parks, just in case!
A nice fellow called Stewart up in Scotland produces some j0lly useful models for operational wargamers – Radio vehicles, staff cars, fire tenders, cranes, tank transporters and what-not. He is quite open about the fact that he primarily produces these for his own use, with excess for sale, and that they are wargames quality.
The barely undercoated Mercedes Benz staff car and Opel Blitz Radio Truck are MMModels. They look the part even with my perfunctory modelling skills. The crew are Piggies and Forged in Battle. So is the SdKfz 10/4 2cm 30
The prices reflect this and give reasonable value in terms of quality, which is patchy, but excellent value if the models are on your bucket list. You will have to do a fair amount of work in terms of filing, shimming and filling, but nothing that should daunt a moderately competent modeller*, and I applaud Stewart in running a garage kit operation to make these models available.
It is obvious from the castings that components from model railway cars form the basis of some of the kits, but they are none the worse for that. If this review seems like faint praise, it isn’t. I am genuinely impressed that someone is offering kits of niche interest in 15mm and plan to order more as soon as I have this lot in service. He even has a proper Anhänger 116 – how cool is that?
Although models are made to order, my batch of 10 or so pieces was all in stock and came impressively quickly. Be prepared to wait though if you decide perhaps that you need enough landing craft to fill a display table. However, with this blog’s small but *ahem* discerning band of followers, I don’t expect there to be a sudden rush of orders. As usual, these new acquisitions have just enough factory paint to reach service. Allied stuff to follow.
* I wish I was one such *sigh*
A package was waiting on my doorstep upon my return from holiday. Of course, it was docked in TRIPOLI (the local post depot) and had to make its perilous way to the front, be sprayed in desert colours and find its way to the correct units. The reinforcements were mostly artillery and limbers for DAK, with a couple of India pattern carriers and a couple of Dovunque 35s. The Soviets even got an 85mm AA piece.
You just want to see the pictures don’t you? Apologies, they were taken in a hurry by a low-flying recce Spitfire.
I was surprised that the sIG 33 was such a large model compared to the Saurer .
The pair of Sd Kfz 7s* and the Diane that I bought look small. They have been shortened to fit a standard FoW base !!! This is my seldom-seen grumpy face 😦 *
These pictures and a few others have been put into the updated DAK orbat post for GAZALA. I should probably make it into a page so that it is easier to find.
* Since making this comment, I have realised that these are SdKfz 6s, which were shorter than the 7, and which were replaced by the 11, so I shall just place the two tiddlers into the orbat slots for Sd Kfz 11s and buy a couple of proper 7s for the 88s. Harmony is restored 🙂
I haven’t been entirely idle since the last post*. Here is the new sleek orbat for 21st Panzer division. Bright Blue items do not appear in the Corps Scale Orbat:
21st Panzer Division (Generalmajor Johann von Ravenstein until 29 November (prisoner of war), then Generalmajor Karl Böttcher) Comd car (C3), Signals Sdkfz 222 [or captured Dorchester or SdKfz 263](C3), 20mm Flak Truck (S3), Engineer truck (L3), 2 Engineer stands (F2), Ammo Truck (L3), POL Truck (L3), Ambulance Sdkfz 251 (L3).
5th Panzer Regiment Comd PzII or PzIII (F3), 3 PzIII** (F3), 1 PzIV (F3)
- 104th Infantry Regiment Comd SdKfz 250, 251 or 263 (C3), 2 Comd car (1 may be an Sdkfz 250 or 251) (C3), + 3.7cm Pak (S3) + Limber (L3), 2/1 Sdkfz 251 mounted Grenadiers (F3), 2/1 Truck mounted Grenadiers(F3).
- 155th Artillery Regiment Comd car (C3), FOO (C1), SdKfz 11 Limber (L3), 10.5cm Gun [or sIG 33 or Lorraine Schlepper 15cm] (S3), Sdkfz 10 Limber (L3), 5cm Pak 38 (S3).
Essentially, all that I have done is remove the infantry stands from the panzer grenadier companies, and made the SdKfz an (F3) stand in the same way that a tank model is. The orphaned infantry have all gone to swell the ranks of the infantry divisions. CSO Orbats lose some command stands, and battalion stands become one s3 instead of two s3
See Also 15th Panzer Division
*For those wondering what I fritter my spare time away with at work, “Advanced Podiatry” is not nearly as exciting as it sounds. It mostly involves learning which bits of the foot to poke, to find out where it hurts. A Surgeon will then chop bits out and fix the rest with screws until it doesn’t.
The Dorchester armoured command vehicle was a unique idea. Other nations converted tanks and armoured cars for this purpose, so when Rommel captured three? of these spacious vehicles he pressed them into immediate service.
Now that Zvezda make the Matador truck, on which it is based, the obvious thing to do would be to build one up from card using the chassis as a starting point. However, I own a hotwheels Dodge Ambulance that has been used only for the odd AK47 game. Never been raced or rallied and it looked ‘close enough’ for me to start glueing bits of card on to see if the concept had any legs.
Whether it did or not you can judge for yourself. The cam net hides most of the bits that don’t look like a Dorchester and I’m hoping that hiding it in DAK will disguise the overscale nature of the beast. The captured Dorchesters went through a number of overpaints. The original Caunter dazzle camouflage could have been a number of colours, but I went with slate green rather than blue. I’ve seen a number of model schemes and although the blue version is the sexiest, the green does actually look like camouflage and accords with newer research. I still like the blue though!