Tag Archives: World War II

Big Numbers on the Ostfront

German Panzer Battalion from the author's collection. Each model represents approximately 30 tanks

German Panzer Battalion from the author’s collection. Each model represents approximately 30 tanks

One of the pleasures of operational gaming is ruminating on the relative numbers overall of various equipments. Authors are fond of telling histories in terms of events, with the odd number thrown in here and there for key equipments, but they rarely give information in a consistent form.

Wargamers love using the best kit, so sometimes you are left wondering if the Premier Division team that they have picked for the club night is really a good representation of what went on. I enjoy the battles in the corners: The ones that happen when a panzerarmee is nowhere to be seen, but a divisional staff officer is left scraping cooks and drivers together to prevent a breakthrough that may be on its last legs.

2nd Tank Corps Break Into the Northern Advanced Line

Consequently, I am often left wondering if I have the proportions of tanks to antitank guns, or to aircraft to anti-aircraft correct. John Ellis is usually reliable in this respect, so his orbats and ToEs (Tables of Equipment), scaled by the odd figure that is thrown in by a unit history and rounded for NQM, work well.

Here is a previous guess-timet of equipment at GAZALA. When I applied the same reasoning to the eastern front for the 1943 Soviet summer offensive, Ziemke (1968) gives us on page 144:

German troop strength = 3,064,000 + 150-200,000 allies

German Tanks = 2,088

German Anti-tank guns = 8,063

Soviet troop strength = 5,755,000

Soviet Tanks = 7,855

Soviet Anti-tank guns = 21,050

These admitted German estimates give the Germans a 1:4 Tank Anti-tank ratio (actually 3.86) , and the Soviets nearly a nearly 1:3 ratio (actually 2.68).

Comparatively this gives a Soviet vs Axis superiority of:

Troops = 2:1 (actually 1.79:1)

Tanks = 4:1 (actually 3.76:1)

Anti-tank = 3:1 (actually 2.61:1)

This compares well with Zaloga and Grandsen’s (1984) table on page 223 of Stalingrad to Berlin of 9,200 Soviet AFVs vs 2,374 German AFVs in March 1943 on the Ostfront, a ratio of 3.88 :1. The same source tells us on page 222 that the German proportions of tanks to self-propelled guns to troop carriers was in roughly even proportions (1:1:1). By contrast, the Soviet production was 2 tanks to every assault gun and no significant production of armoured troop carriers.

Even allowing for all the usual provisios of servicibility, tactics and quality, this tells me that I should be allowing the Soviets 3+ tanks for every German AFV.

A seperate, and interesting question, is “do all the anti tank weapon totals include anti tank rifles?” I suspect not, as the German ratio is higher, and the Soviets hung onto their anti-tank rifles for much longer. A quick NQM ToE check gives the following numbers:

German panzer division5 Tanks, 2 Anti-tank guns (numbers fluctuated)

German infantry division = 0 Tanks, 3 Anti-tank guns

Soviet tank corps6 Tanks, 2 Anti-tank guns (for 1943, the numbers fluctuated)

Soviet infantry division0 Tanks,  3 Anti-tank guns (allowing the 76mm divisional gun an antitank role and counting the 3 regimental 47mm guns as one Sp3 gun.

If we estimate the tank to infantry division ratio on the Ostfront as:

German = 67 panzer and panzergrenadier divisions versus 331 infantry divisions, (Just under 1:5). (I have taken the German army as a whole but ignored allies giving 335 NQM tanks to 1127 anti-tank guns, or 1 to 3.4.

Soviet = 60 tank and mechanised corps vs 413 rifle divisions (just under 1:7 giving 1 NQM tank to 3.8 anti-tank) from Ellis (1993)38, then these ratios seem reasonable without having to count anti-tank rifles. I do however, need to make sure that the Soviet armour is fielded at full strength or tone down the anti-tank to keep the ratio about right at 3:1. Likewise, the German tank strength needs a lid keeping on it to prevent it creeping too high.

Here is a picture of a Ratte to console the German players :


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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Artillery, Eastern Front, Land Battles, tank, Trucks, WWII

Racing the Rasputitsa

In the dying days of Summer 1942. German armoured forces fanned southeast to STALINGRAD towards the banks of the river VOLGA. Spearheading the 2 Panzer Armee advance against minimal opposition were 10 Panzer and  2nd SS Panzer divisions from 46 Mot Korps less Gross Deutchland, which had been engaged at TAMBOV junction.

48 MotKorps, comprising 17 and 18 Panzer divisions with 29 Motorised and 167 Infantry divisions, were echeloned northwards behind them. These formations were all well understrength and although coming to the end of their logistical chains, were benefitting from the opening of TAMBOV junction to rail traffic.

Opposing them was South Front comprising 2 Armies :

57 Army comprising 99, 150, 317 and 351 Rifle and 14 Guard Rifle division

9 Army comprising 51, 106, 333, 335, 341 and  349 Rifle  divisions

and South Front troops comprising 3 Guards Cavalry division and 24 Tank division. Unusually fo rthis stage of the campaign, the operation had the characteristic of a meeting engagement.


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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Eastern Front, Land Battles, Wargames, WWII

More on Infantry Orbats

Since bringing the infantry orbats in line with armour and artillery, I have received a few questions about how they should appear, and the difference between bases and stands. Bases are the individual components of a stand. There are usually 3 bases to a stand, but there can be more, or fewer.

Inf1inf2For an all- infantry battalion it is fairly straightforward. Here is 4th Battalion, 6th Rajputana Rifles , comprising a command and support stand (CS3), and a fighting stand (F3). They are tooled up for a fight , with 6 combat units (CUs) represented by the little airgun pellets on the spanking brand-new tinplate movement tray next to them, and the two stands can put out 2CUs per turn between them, for 3 turns, by which time they will have run out of ammunition.

Brit Mot Rfl Bn Truck

Next, comes a motor battalion, 1st Battalion the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. They can be organised as previously shown, with a vehicle base and 2 infantry bases making one stand, and three stands in the battalion, or you could dispense with the infantry, and just have 3 vehicles with infantry glued into them to show that it is not just a logistic vehicle. Either way, it does not matter how you model the stands as long as both you and your opponent know what is happening.



Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames

15th Panzer Division

Usually, I don’t add national insignia or serials to models, but for the Western Desert campaign I have been doing so as the toys look a bit plain without, and because the numbers of AFVs are so low. Of course, because of the operational scale, platoon markings are a bit superfluous. Happily, 15th Panzer Division only put company numbers on its tanks, so mine are numbered 1-5; a bit of a no-brainer really:


The Divisional HQ is using an SdKfz 251/10 platoon command vehicle, which is standing in as an SdKfz/3 radio vehicle. GeneralMajor Neuman-Silkow is in a car for comfort, but could be in a ‘251 or ‘250. If he is lucky enough to get a bit of armour later, he will probably pass his car on to someone else!


The Divisional Anti-tank Battalion has a Marder III SdKfz 138 and Recce elements represented by an SdKfz 222, which will doubtless soon be off to another division, or corps recce.


The Divisional Engineer Battalion has teamed up with an ersatz ROCO 1/87  model representing the the Divisional FLAK Kompanie for this shot. It will be back off to grassier climes soon!


8th Panzer Regiment is equipped with Pz III Hs.


115th Infantry Regimental HQ  is followed by the armoured battalion and motorised battalion. They would really like a heavier car than a Kubelwagen to tow that 37mm.


Once painted, these PSC plastic late-war Germans should be a good match for my older Peter Pig Afrika Korps infantry.


The Flames of War resin Opel Blitz 3-tonners look a bit stubby next to the Zvezda models, but they still paint up nicely and have a certain raffish charm.


33rd Artillery Regiment is still borrowing limbers and command cars (a stand-in Kettenrad that is destined eventually for the  Ramke parachute brigade) until it can find an SdKfz 11 and perhaps a Saurer SdKfz 254.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Modelling, Orbats, Trucks, Western Desert, WWII

More Festive Oddness – Things I like about Other Nations

Suzanne opened the Blog yesterday, came across “Manly Men in Desert Shorts” and professed herself quite taken by it. Continuing in the Festive off-topic Spirit, I give you things I like about … (feel free to add your own nations as an andidote to all these “ten Best” polls that are going around). It shows how far things have come since WWII.



Dolly probably owns the copyright to this one!

Unembarrassable (see above), Generous to a fault (prepared to offer us an Aircraft carrier in ’82) and good at Moon missions. Currently world’s Top Nation :

“Don’t run Sir, it worries the men!”


They spend more time thinking about Beer chocolate and cakes than their Army or Navy. Any nation that could produce Tin Tin is fine by me.




I love their robust approach to health and safety, and also the idea that their treasure fleets in the 13th to 15th centuries did not set out to conquor, but to explore and trade. They used to be the world’s Top Nation and may be again:


We used to tit about on ladders when we were the world’s Top Nation. Now we devise safety posters to prevent it happening!



They are mostly mad, paid off their war reparations in full, produced Tove Jannsen and Poets of the Fall. You can wear a bowler hat and feather boa if you are hard enough, no-one will laugh at you. World’s most phlegmatic nation.


German stuff does what it says on the tin, but they rarely put their beer in tins, preferring it fresh, local and on tap – Prost!. I love Oktoberfeste,  family Gastttaette that are still there 30 years after you last visited them, and knowing that if a restaurant looks good, the food will still be good. We will pass swiftly over the German’s attempt to be the world’s Top Nation: Epic Fail!


Gotta love pasta, those uniforms, family meals and their sculpture (Suzanne reminds me; cheeky girl!) What did the Romans ever do for us when they were the world’s Top Nation?



Polite and cultured, the Japanese still managed to produce cringeworthy excesses of bad taste and hilariously funny Youtube moments:


Tyey discovered the New World again after the Vikings and the Chinese lost it. Invented Madeira (wine), Port and caramel cakes!


Russians know a thing or two about trucks, river crossings, spaceships and Vodka. They are almost, but not quite as mad as the Finns, and they still think that they are the world’s top Nation.

“…not so impressive, is driven by my daughter! or:

titting about in trucks”

Aussies, Austrians, Brits, Bulgarians, Czechs, French, Hungarians, Kiwis and Poles are all up for grabs. You are not allowed to do your own nation, and the Americans and French are not allowed to do each other :)

Happy New Year!


Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Off Topic

Gazala – Axis Forces

German and Italian forces

balconySupreme Commander North Africa: General Ettore Bastico
Model of a a comfortable hotel somewhere in TRIPOLI with a grand balcony for reviewing parades.

Italian Mobile Army (XX) Corps

Lieutenant-General Gastone Gambara  Comd car (C3), Signals Truck (C3), 20mm Flak Truck (S3), Ambulance Truck (L3), 

Signature Corps Troops
(from amalgamating troops that appear in divisions in small numbers)
Mixed AA Battalion1 Cannone da 90/53 (S3) + limber (L3), 1 20/65 modello 35(S3) + limber (L3) (both may be self-propelled)
Artillery Battalion1 Comd (C3),  FOO (R1), 100mm Howitzer (S3) + limber (L3)
Anti-tank Battalion1 Semovente 75/18 (S3), 1 Semovente 47/32 (S3) [these may each have an SP L6 or M40 limber (L3)]
Armoured Bersaglieri Recce BattalionAutoblinda AB 41 (R3)
  • 132 Armoured Division Ariete (General Mario Balotta) 1 Comd car (C3), 1 Signal van (C3), 1 20mm Flak Truck (S3), 1 Ammo Truck (L3), 1 POL Truck (L3), 1 Engineer Truck (L3), 2 Engineer (F3), 1 Autoblinda 41 (R3)
  • 132nd Armoured Regiment –  1 Comd car (C3)
    • VII Tank Battalion1 M13/41 (F3)
    • VIII Tank Battalion1 M13/41 (F3)
    • IX Tank Battalion1 M11/39 (F3)
    • 32nd Light Armoured Regiment1 L6/39 (F3)
    • 8th Bersaglieri Regiment (Motorised)1 Comd car + 1 Mortar + 1 47mm Atk (CS3)
    • III Motorcycle Battalion (Later II Motorised) Comd m/c or Car + (C3), 2 m/c + MG m/c (FS3)
    • V and XII Motorised Battalions 4 Truck (L3), 2x[ Bn Comd + MG + 45mm Mortar (CS3)], 2x[ 3Rifles (F3)]
    • 132nd Artillery Regiment1 Comd Car (C3), 1 FOO (R1), 1 75/25 Gun (S3) + Limber (L3)
  • littorio
  • 133 Armoured Division Littorio, Major General Gervasio BitossiAs 132 Armd Div Ariete.
    • 133rd Tank Regiment1 Comd Car (C3), 1 M13/41 (F3), 1 M11/39 (F3)
    • 12th Bersaglieri Infantry RegimentAs V and XII Motorised Battalions.
    • 3rd Artillery Regiment – As 132nd Artillery Regiment above.
    • 133rd Artillery Regiment (part)(see corps troops)
    • 3rd Tank Group Lancieri di Novara1 L6/39 (F3)
  • trieste

  • 65th Infantry Regiment  As V and XII Motorised Battalions.
  • 66th Infantry Regiment  As V and XII Motorised Battalions.
  • 9th Bersaglieri Regiment As V and XII Motorised Battalions.
  • 21st Artillery Regiment  1 Comd car (C3), 1 FOO (R1), 1 Truck Limber (L3), 1 105mm Gun (S3), 1 Light Truck Limber (L3), 1 47mm PaK [may be Semovente L/40 da 47/32] (s3), 1 Limber (L3)
  • RECAM (Reconnaissance Unit of the Mobile Army Corps)  1 Saharina (R3)

Panzer Gruppe Afrika

HQ Panzergruppe Afrika
General der Panzertruppe Erwin Rommel
Comd car or SdKfz 250 [Greif] (C3), Signals Truck [or captured Dorchester] (C3), 20mm Flak Truck (S3) Ambulance Truck (L3), Armd Car (L3)

Deutches Afrika Korps DAKpalm

Generalleutnant Ludwig Crüwell
Comd car (C3), Signals Truck [or captured Dorchester] (C3), 20mm Flak Truck (S3) Ambulance Truck (L3), Armd Car (R3)
  • DAK Artillery –  Comd car or SdKfz (C3), FOO (R1), Sdkfz 7 Limber (L3), 210mm Gun (S2)

DAK Artillery. 21cm Gun

  • DAK 605 Panzerjaeger Abteilung(Battalion)* [To 90 Lt Div] – Panzerjaeger 1b 4.7cm (S3)[1941 onwards] or Diane Sdkfz6 [1942], limber (L3), Pak 36(r) (S2), Limber (L2)

DAK 605 Panzerjaeger Abteilung

DAK 606 Flak Abteilung

  • 33rd/II Luftwaffe Flak Abteilung –  Flak 8.8cm (s2), SdKfz 7 limber (L2), 20mm Flak 38 L/113 (S2), SdKfz 10 limber (L2)

DAK Artillery. 33rd/II and 606 Flak Abteilung

  • Grosstransportraum – Famo SdKfz 9 limber (L3), Sonder Anhänger 116 (L3),  a variable number of trucks, Axis and captured

DAK Grosstransportraum



  • 8th Panzer Regiment Comd PzII (CF3), 4 PzIII** (F3)


  • 115th Infantry Regiment Comd Sdkfz 250, 251 or 263 (CF3), 2 Comd car (1 may be an Sdkfz 250 or 251) (CF3), 37mm Pak (S3) + Limber (L3), 2 Sdkfz 251 (F3), 2 Truck (F3).


  • 33rd Artillery Regiment {Comd Saurer Sdkfz 254 or Sdkfz 253 (C3)}, FOO (R1), {Sdkfz 11 (or 6) Limber (L3) + 10.5cm Gun (S3)}, {PaK 38 (r) 7.62cm or PaK 38 5cm (S3) + Sdkfz 11 (or 10) Limber (L3)}.

15 Pz Div 33 Art Regt


  • 21st Panzer Division (Generalmajor Johann von Ravenstein until 29 November (prisoner of war), then Generalmajor Karl BöttcherComd 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  As 115th Infantry Regiment Above.
  • 155th Artillery Regiment As 33rd Artillery Regiment Above. 1 Lorraine Schlepper  15cm (S3) may be substituted for the 10.5cm



(Renamed 90th Light Africa Division from 28 November 1941) (Generalmajor Max Sümmermann until 10 December (killed in action), then Generalmajor Richard Veith)

Comd car (C3), Signals Truck (C3), 20mm Flak Truck (S3), Ammo Truck (L3), POL Truck (L3), Engineer Truck (L3), 2 Engineer (F2)

  • 155th Infantry Regiment 3 Comd car (C3), 37mm Pak (S3), 2 81mm Mortar (s3), 2 Truck (F3), 2 Truck (S3)
  • 361st Infantry Regiment  As 115th Infantry Regiment Above.
  • *Panzerjaeger Abteilung 605 {Panzerjäger Ib 4.7cm[1941 onwards] or Diane Sdkfz6 [1942](S3)}, limber (L3), Pak 36(r) (S2), Limber (L2)

Dak Artillery. Panzerjaeger Abteilung 605, 1942 onwards

  • Schwere Schützen-Regiment 155 /200   SiG 33 (S1) + Limber (L1)

90th Light Division, Schwere Shutzen-Regiment 155/200

** For variety, instead of 4 PzIIIs, 1 PzII, 2 PzIIIs and 1 Pz 4 could be modelled, counting them all as medium tanks.


  • 55th North African Infantry Division ‘Savona’ (General Fedele de Giorgis) As 132 Armd Div Ariete, less Flak assets.
  • 15th Infantry Regiment As V and XII Motorised Battalions.
  • 16th Infantry Regiment  As V and XII Motorised Battalions.
  • 12th Artillery Regiment Comd car (C3), FOO (R1), Truck Limber (L3), 105mm Gun (S3), Light Truck Limber (L3), 47mm Pak (S3)

Italian XXI Corps

Lieutenant-General Enea Navarrini   1 Comd car (C3), 1 Signal van (C3), 1 Ambulance (L3), 1 Armd Car (R3)
Signature Corps Troops
(from amalgamating troops that appear in divisions in small numbers)
Mixed AA Battalion1 Cannone da 90/53 (S3) + limber (L3), 1 20/65 modello 35(S3) + limber (L3) 
Artillery Battalion1 Comd (C3),  1 FOO (R1), 1 100mm Howitzer (S3) + limber (L3)
Anti-tank Batalion1 Semovente 75/18 (S3), 1 Semovente 47/32 (S3), 2 Limbers (L3) (both may be towed guns with limber)
This 20mm CV33 is standing in as an L6 or M40 limber for the 15mm Semovente until a better one comes along.
  • 27th Infantry Regiment  As V and XII   Motorised Battalions less transport.
  • 28th Infantry Regiment  As V and XII   Motorised Battalions less transport.
  • 26th Artillery Regiment  As 132nd Artillery Regiment above.


  • 39th Infantry Regiment As V and XII   Motorised Battalions less transport.

  • 40th Infantry Regiment  As V and XII   Motorised Battalions less transport.
  • 205th Artillery Regiment As 132nd Artillery Regiment above.


  • 19th Infantry Regiment  As V and XII   Motorised Battalions less transport.
  • 20th Infantry Regiment  As V and XII   Motorised Battalions less transport.
  • 55th Artillery Regiment  As 132nd Artillery Regiment above.


  • 61st Infantry Regiment  As V and XII   Motorised Battalions.
  • 62nd Infantry Regiment  As V and XII   Motorised Battalions
  • 46th Artillery Regiment  1 Comd car (C3), 1 FOO (R1), 1 Truck Limber (L3), 1 105mm Gun (S3), 1 Light Truck Limber (L3), 1 47mm PaK [may be Semovente L/40 da 47/32] (S3)

*Trucks: 4 small trucks each carrying 2 stands, or 2 large trucks each carrying 4 stands. APCs carry the same as a small truck – 2 stands and have an integral MG stand that can dismount in defence if the APC is not destroyed. The non-motorised battalions would draw transport from a limited army pool.



 2. Greene, J. and Massignani, A. (1999). Rommel’s North Africa Campaign: September 1940-November 1942. Da Capo Press

3. This truck showcased on the Duchy of Alzheim Blog belonged to General Bergonzoli of the Centauro division and was not present at GAZALA. Even so, it would make an excellent signals truck for one of the armoured divisions.

4. by Hunter, B. (2006) Axis History forum. http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=104408

5. Thanks to Andreas from The Crusader Project (ibid) for amendments to the orbat for 33rd Artillerie Regiment


Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, DAK, Italian Army, Orbats, Western Desert, WWII

Table 12 – Worked Example

Thanks to Mike and others who have reminded me  that if you haven’t seen Table 12 in use, then it is not  immediately obvious how it works. So here goes :

An Italian 47mm Anti tank stand takes on a Soviet T-34

Example 1 – A 47mm Italian anti tank company takes on a tank company from 1st Guards Armoured Tank Corps near Stalingrad. First point – the Light medium or heavy value of the two sides are flexible, depending on the scenario that the Umpire sets. It seems reasonable to assume Light for the 47mm anti tank gun attack and MEDIUM for it’s defence (Horrid little low profile company dug in on a reverse slope ) MEDIUM attack and defence for the tank company (driving forward in the open with 75mm guns and  proper medium armour).  Each company rolls one die per stand, so one light die rolls a 5 for the Anti tank and one medium die rolls a 6 for the recce. On table 12 light 5 against medium scores one pip, so a red pin goes onto the tank company and medium 6 against light scores 2 pips, so 2 red pins go onto the 47mm.

Brave Bersagliari see off a Greyhound!

Example 2 – Three Light infantry companies attack a light armoured recce company. They roll 3 light dice scoring 1,4,6. The 4 scores 0ne pip and the 6 scores two pips so a total of 3 pips go onto the Greyhound. In return the Greyhound rolls a 6 scoring 2 pips. The Italian player allocates them evenly on his troops putting one on each of two stands of his choice. Next move, if the Greyhound does not retire, it will be assaulted by the Bersagliari, who have won the firefight. As it has no effective fighting strength left it will be overrun. Time to pull out and reorganise!

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