Minefields and Strongpoints
The Devils Gardens sown around ALAMEIN were complex and wide ranging. Even today, tourist guides advise not straying off tracks, and this despite massive postwar clearance efforts. I should state that I don’t like mine warfare, possibly because part of my job involved training to lay them and actually digging up other peoples mines.
They are however, a major part of the ALAMEIN battlefield, and they need to be modeled. Tradition dictates that a roll of wire wrapped around a Biro and stuck to a lollipop stick is the way to do it and Trebian takes this approach. I went for thin marine ply with sand PVA glued on top and sealed with acrylic paint in suitable shades. Some have mines and other items of interest on them. I went with 150mm (6″) strips to match the square sizes.
I also did a bit more work on the hills and strongpoints to help them blend in. the shot above is a work in progress. You can see that the top right strongpoint has had its top sliced off like a soft-boiled egg, and had an emplacement dropped into it
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
Do I hear “scale creep!” being muttered on the back row?
MOSCOW looking south east
My MOSCOW model doubled as LENINGRAD with no alteration, but I am unlikely to need to model either city again in this campaign.
LENINGRAD looking north
Time for a makeover. I chopped the base up into smaller pieces, so that it can be used for smaller built-up areas, or even STALINGRAD, if I do it again as a set piece. For terrain pieces, I have nominally used 75mm and 150mm as sizes (3″ and 6″). This should make life simple when playing NQM Squared.
MostaLeninograd in Stalingrad Mode
Predictably, the buildings didn’t quite fit this grid. Late last night I was wandering around the back streets of modern VOLGOGRAD, and was struck by how little had changed. The factories are in largely the same places, and residents’ houses are crowded into rectilinear grids in much the same style as 7o years ago. I was also struck by how much open space there is around the city, and relatively speaking, how low-rise the city appears because of the wide boulevards between buildings. How much of this is post war remodelling, I don’t know.
These splendid chaps fought through the GAZALA battles with 25 pdrs in the KNIGHTSBRIDGE box with the Guards Brigade, before being re-equipped with Priest self-propelled guns for 2nd Alamein and fighting with 1st Armoured Division. I have chosen to model the company with a priest, because A, I have one, and B, it provides some variety from the hordes of 25 pdrs that I need to model. PSC carrier crews provided the gunners, with a Peter Pig seated driver furnishing the obligatory “Officer with Map”
I’m currently trying to build extra limbers and to find out if the priests towed them, or used Kangaroos as limbers, or trucks, as I have modelled.
After munching through a PSC box of nine Universal Carriers, and adding five Loyd Carriers* to the eight or so Piggie carriers that I already own, it is clear that I still need more; in particular, FOOs to bulk out my artillery regiments. There is photographic evidence of FOOs in Morris and CMP trucks, and Dingos, but the carriers are such good value, and perfect for the job. More Quads are on the cards too.
* As far as I know, no Loyd carriers made it to North Africa, but they will do as placeholders. (The temptation to write Lloyd is overwhelming)
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.
The very mention of the word sends a shudder through us. We vow that we will never do it (again), so I haven’t been rebasing anything: just reorganising a few Eastern Front divisions to reflect mid war orbats … I’m not fooling anyone, am I?
You may remember the changes that began back on the 8th of January, 2016 to speed up moving the toys around? No? The essence is that you can use whatever you want to depict stands of 3 Strength Points. My current standard is using Flames of War sized bases because they are roughly the size of a 3SP vehicle base. Failing that, a couple of 30mm bases butted together achieves the same objective. This is a WIP Soviet support base of 3SP, and the reorganised division that it lives in
I still have older orbats around, but they have gradually been reorganising to the new leaner orbats. Here is a Fallschirmjäger Division.
The four bases on the right are Luftwaffe ground crew. Kudos to Will McNally, who has rebased squillions of Renaissance figures. I have managed about 420!
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.
Apparently, Space Hulk is amongst the evil empire’s best-selling games. The attraction is clear; heavily armoured Terminators clunking down claustrophobic corridors, using their chainswords to cut through bulkheads. Why, it was even popular with the WHELKS* when we were all in our thirties. Terminators were smaller in those days and could fit into corridors without getting stuck in the doors.
So, one frosty morning, I thought that I would give it a go in true-scale ….
There is only one man to go to in Wellingborough for over-engineered power tools , and he is known as Sarge. Suzanne came back saying,
“Can you lift it out of the boot for me? It’s too heavy.”
Outstanding! This sounded promising….
It took me ten minutes to start the two-stroke engine, and an hour to cut through the bulkhead. Gratifyingly large quantities of toxic fumes and dust billowed everywhere. It was VERY NOISY! By the time I had finished, the garden was covered in a thin layer of brick coloured space-dust, and any gribblies lurking in the hulk must have fled in terror at the noise. Best game ever!
This dude ….
…should not be confused with this one below. (Note the puny arms and freakishly long torso of the sculpt above).
Uniform afficionados will note the safety glasses and armoured boiler suit. I have swapped out my customary builder’s cowboy hat for a Teeside-pattern safety helmet.
As an antidote to all the fun that I had just had, Suzanne gave me a window to block the new hole. Happily, it fitted.
If you want to know what a Golden Demon quality true-scale Chainsword looks like, then go here.
*Wellingborough Historical and Ever-so Loosely Kultural Society
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?”
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.
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.
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.