Tag Archives: World War II

MostaLeninograd Makeover

Moscow looking south east

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

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

MoStaLeninograd

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.

 

 

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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

How is ALAMEIN Shaping up?

7 Armd Div before being slimmed down

The collection of models for ALAMEIN (and later, Tunisia and Italy) is coming on nicely, but I’m hitting some hard limits on (a) storage space,  (b) how much board space I need to lay ALAMEIN out, and (c) the sheer numbers of infantry needed . YesthatPhil previously posited that the players would be happier with a more formal game sequence and squares to help with directions (I believe the original armies had similar problems with maps and compasses), so there may be some mileage in going to NQM Squared.I’m still not a fan of rectilinear military thinking, but if it gets the job done, it’s a compromise that I’m willing to make.

Phil has paved the way there with Megablitz Squared in an elegant blend of NQM and Megablitz, using PBI 6″ squares. In addition, the work that Bob Cordery has put in with The Portable Wargame concept has made squares much more acceptable to players.

My initial sums on the back-of-a-fag-packet led me to believe that the ALAMEIN front of 40miles (65Km) could fit onto a 6.5m tabletop at 10cm per Km (1:10,000). Trebian’s Shedquarter table is 11 feet, or 22 x 6″ (150mm) squares. If the scale is halved to 1:20,000 then that makes a square about 3Km across. A battalion normally holds a frontage of about 1Km or 50mm.

Megablitz divisions are roughly half the size or smaller than those in NQM, but I have been fighting the Eastern Front at between half and 1/3 scale anyway. It would make sense to write orbats for  these army-level games that more accurately reflect what we are actually doing. This makes a lot of sense for 1943 onwards, where on the Eastern Front, the numbers of units increased along with their firepower, but the manpower shrank as the battlefield emptied in response to the increasing lethality of the weapons employed.

This halves my problem for ALAMEIN. It means some sacrifices in orbat chrome to achieve game room for higher level functions, but the die-rolling grind should be halved:

The first simplification is to remove the distinction between support and fighting stands within the infantry battalion. If a battalion is now S3 instead of S6, this no longer matters. The support will sit at regimental level, and headquarters will sit at divisional level.

I will need to make explicit the defence tactic of dispersed defence in depth to reduce the lethality of artillery barrages, whose main effect seemed to be to impose disorganisation on defenders, and disruption/delay on attackers with casualties as a by product. The German defenders at ALAMEIN do not seem to have suffered excessive  casualties from a heavy set piece bombardment conducted to WWI standards of planning by a highly professional artillery arm, but it did stop thenm from interfering with minesweeping and the initial advance.

Divisional supporting battalions such as Anti-aircraft Anti-tank and artillery will have to express their effect over the area of the division. squares should make this easier. This should free up time for logistic matters that are usually ignored when the combat becomes heavy. I have felt for a while now that I only need to track artillery ammunition and fuel for armoured divisions: no-one else ever really reported running out of stuff down at battalion level.

Small markers that don’t really play a part in the came or occupy real estate can be subsumed into units – namely RMP and FOOs. Single figure markers may be useful here.

7 Armd Div Corps Scale Orbat

7 Armoured Division. Corps-Scale Orbat (March 2018)

The first stage is to play a trial game to make sure that the balance between infantry, armour and artillery is still intact.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, The "Rules", Wargames, WWII

11th Honourable Artillery Company RHA

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)

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

Rebasing

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

Soviet NQM Mid War Reduced ORBAT

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!

 

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Soviet Winter Offensive Jan 1943 Desantny

The Soviet Winter Offensive taxed the Luftwaffe to the limit, with servicability dropping as ground crews struggled in atrocious conditions to keep airframes ready for operations, and airstrips clear for flying.

Tante Ju

One such airfield (Flugplatz Lotti) near VELIKIE LUKIE, was thought to be safely beyond the reach of the enemy. It contained four Geschwäder : JG 54 (Bf 109), KG76 (Ju 88), StG 1 (Ju 87), KG zbV 102 (Ju 52) and a NaGruppe with Uhus.

Flugplatz Lotti

See Phil’s blog for his thoughts on the use of Soviet desantny forces. The two regiments that he deployed brought with them T-60 tanks and the spearhead of the tank and mechanised corps that had broken through from VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK.

The Outer Defences of Lotti are Assailed

Although the Airfield was defended by two reduced regiments of well-armed Luftwaffe ground troops, their morale was simply not up to the task of holding the airfield. An undignified scramble of aircraft and logistic units exiting the base was observed as the unlucky defenders desperately hung on to the perimeter

Logistic Units Scramble for Safety

Before long, Soviets were swarming over the airfield. They have been doing that a lot of late. Casualties were heavy

Game Notes

YesThatPhil got the chance to showcase his new Peter Pig Soviet Scouts. I gave my rebased Luftwaffe field division its second airing. It behaved commendably badly, as one might epect. The air base was laid out in advance and Phil’s brief was:

“commit what you think that you need to take the airfield.”

He finished the job in about an hour of playing, which enabled the whole scenario to be finished from start to finish in about two hours. Coffee, chocolate, cheese and biscuits stopped anyone from starving.

I rated the Luftwaffe division as conscript and the Soviets as veteran.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Air Forces, Axis War Diary, German Airforce, Land Battles, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, 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!

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

PSC Kickstarter 2 – CMP Tractors and 25 Pounders

4 Regiments of 25-pounders forming

The new CMP tractor sits nicely in size in between the Fow 1:120 and the Denzil Skinner 1:100 scale Morris Quads, so a crafty wargamer will place the Skinners closest, the CMPs in the table centre and the FoWs at the far end to give a false sense of perspective. John Sandars was a past master of this wheeze, except that he used 1/35th and 1/72nd models in his dioramas.

Manning the Guns

Here are the WIP photos. I was delighted to see that the British gunners look like people, and not Orkses. They are still a little short in the leg, but they fit in nicely with everyone elses’ caricatures. I should have gone in for fantasy gaming *sigh*

The Gun Line

I thought it would be fun to see if the kit could produce one of the cut-down narrow-wheelbase 25pdrs used in Burma. The nearest unfinished gun is a reasonable enough approximation. The cam net on the back of the CMP hides the fact that I struggled to get a close fit at the back of the tractor. It also frees up a spare wheel. I am going to need a total of 8 for the extra four 25 Pdrs that can be part assembled from the kit sprue, and will have to find four spare limbers from somewhere.

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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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