Monday, 21 July 2014

Ze Germans....

As I said last week's game may have been short on support points but it did give me the incentive to finish up a couple of loose end projects. The minefields and wire were in the last post but it also pushed me to finish my first platoon of panzergrenadiers along with enough extras to fill quite a few of their support options too.
All these were from the plastics in the Flames of War starter set "Open Fire" with a few from the plastic panzergrenadier box set I picked up for a song on eBay. I never thought I'd say it, but those little BF plastics are lovely figures. Sure there's the odd turkey amongst them, but on the whole there are some lovely details and posing.
A full Panzergrenadier Platoon. Three sections plus command.

This chap & his radio man would provide my second "Senior Leader" option in Chain of Command or another level 3 or 4 "big man" in IABSM.
Forward Observer & radio- again for either system.
A second Panzerschrek (as if one wasn't enough!)

These unlikely lads are back-up in case that panzerschrek doesn't come off. "Tank Killer" team.
Singles and spares for casualty replacements. There's a spare Junior Leader (or level 1 or 2 BM) in here too.
A better shot of those shock markers. All-in-all I've now got enough for all my games of both CoC & IABSM. These are available from Peter Pig in packs of eight.
And finally some dead markers for crewed weapons on multiple bases etc. Again Peter Pig.
I've also made good headway on both PaK 40(x2) and PaK41/43(x2) anti-tank guns for support. They'll be heading round to Paul Next Door later hopefully to get some camo applied along with the last few kits I needed to complete the 21st Panzer options for Chain of Command and another 3x 251's & 3x Panzer IV H's.
The allies have had a boost as well. I Finally put together some of the "funnies" I've got. I think they'll make for some interesting games in their own right. While I await the return of my newly camouflaged German kit, I'll set to work on the British anti-tank guns. I've got 6Lb & 17Lb. variants for both Infantry and Airborne to finish up. I had another little win on eBay too. There are 10 more Shermans winging their way to sunny Borsetshire as I type.
Paul and me have another game scheduled for this Thursday. Details will be finalised tomorrow. You never know, I might actually be able to stay focussed enough to do an AAR on this one! 

Friday, 18 July 2014

The Changing Face of (Our) Warfare

When Paul Next Door and I arranged a game of Chain of Command for Thursday (last night) Paul rolled randomly for a scenario coming up with the probe. Then only rolling a "1" on his support choices dice and taking into account the differences in our force ratings (his US Armoured Infantry +4 and my Panzergrenadiers +1) it left us with him only having 1 support point while I only had 3. Bummer. To make matters worse he declined my offer of re-rolling!

I cannot lie. I was a bit miffed, especially as I'd got quite a bundle of new kit to try out for the first time.

I'd resolved to paint up the three MG42's I needed to turn my grenadiers into panzergrenadiers in time for the game, but also fancied maybe fielding a newly painted PaK 40 A/T Gun or some such (I was the defender).

Ho-hum. So I got thinking about what I could best spend my three points on. The scenario victory conditions dictate I would have to prevent Paul getting one team off my base table edge, so I turned my mind to how best to hold him up. The week previous he'd played basic US Infantry, but this time he would be packing a HUGE amount more firepower.

Well, only one thing for it. I'd change tack and finally make those mine-field markers and some wire. Nothing like fieldworks to slow up an opponent! What's more, it was unlikely he'd expect it given that we'd not used much other than trenches in previous games.

This should slow him!
 The minefield markers were likely to be the cheapest support option monetarily that I was EVER likely to deploy. All-in they cost me about ten pence for two sets! The bases are 1p pieces (8), the uprights are chopped up matchsticks (four from a stick) and the boards were clipped from a coffee stirrer. Signage was done with a graphics pen I already had. OK, I accept they're a bit basic, but there's not a lot more needed to be honest.

Mine markers flanked by new wire.
I cheated a little with the wire. I'd picked up a couple of these from Products for Wargamers stand at the Overlord show in Abingdon earlier this year for £2 each. The bases were about 6"x 2" (the right size for CoC) so I "tarted" them up a bit with flock to match my other stuff and added some tufts & flowers. They'll get some rust in the coming days.

In the end I opted to just take the two minefields and an adjutant for the game, but I was glad to have added a couple more options to the support pool for future games. They were a cracking choice! I completely filled a small wood with both minfields, denying them as a fire base and meaning that to advance on that side Paul would have to cross a wide expanse of open ground in front of up to 4 MG42's. It completely closed down half the battlefield It would also mean that in future VERY careful consideration would need to be given to taking those engineer teams or risk being severely hampered by a cheap trick.

Food for thought.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Rising to the CoC Challenge!

Last Saturday on the Too Fat Lardies Forum & Yahoo Group, member PatG issued the CoC Challenge for folks to step forward with their own lists for Chain of Command from any period & theatre, preferably using the official Coculator and quoting references to alleviate some of the workload from Rich Clarke & make the whole thing more of a community effort.

I'd already compiled my version of a list covering 21st Panzer Division covering it's first reactions to the Normandy invasion on June 6th 1944, so ideal for fighting either side of the Orne in the early days of the landings. The information is quite well documented and shows a great example of just how versatile the Germans were at forming purpose-tailored fighting units from larger organisations.

The division split into three main kampfgruppe. One under Rauch, another under Oppeln-Bronikowski and probably the most famous under the command of Hans von Luck. With a divisional reserve of anti-tank & anti-aircraft elements to be distributed as required.

Oppeln's force composed mainly of his tank command along with panzergrenadier elements  swapped with von Luck for his 4th Company of Panzer IV's. His specific purpose was to form a thrust to the coast and split the British and Canadian forces at Lion-sur-Mer.

Rauch's force consisted of predominantly infantry & the best anti-tank units. He was tasked with the dual role of exploiting any gaps forged by Oppeln while simultaneously defending the Lebisey Ridge, high ground lying between the beaches and the city of Caen.

Both of the above operated west of the Orne mainly against the forces landed via Sword and Gold beaches.

Von Luck's command was a more "combined arms" affair. It needed to be reasonably self-sufficient as it was separated from the rest of the division by the terrain. To support his own panzergrenadiers he had the previously mentioned 4th tank company from Oppeln also the entirety of StuG-Abteilung 200 and Panzer-Aufklarungs-Abteilung 21. He was initially engaged against the combined British and Canadian parachute forces and would spend the whole Normandy campaign in the east, fighting later to defend the Bourgébus Ridge during Operation Goodwood.

This list was compiled by extrapolating information from existing lists or using comparative values on armour and/or gun calibres

This list was compiled using the official Coculator. I can't help feeling there are some anomalies with regards to the half-tracks. All comments on any corrections are most welcome.
 Select Bibliography
The Combat History of 21. Panzer Division - Werner Kortenhaus
21. Panzer Division - Jean-Claude Perrigault
Panzer Commander - Hans von Luck
Panzers and the Battle for Normandy - Geaorges Bernage
Panzers in Normandy Then and Now -  Eric Lefevre
as well as various on-line sources.
Next I might do a 6th Airborne or have a shot at commandos.......

Thursday, 10 July 2014

I love a challenge me...

When chum Jamie sold me his "Open Fire" starter box set for £15 his comments of "I've taken the Stugs but everything else is there. Good luck with those Shermans though. they're absolutely awful. I couldn't face doing them" were as a red rag to a bull.
I've already painted and used most of the German Infantry in the Bénouville game (more of them at a later date). I've also added a second US Paras platoon of eBay for a fiver. That should provide enough variation for a CoC force for another project. I must say, the infantry are very nice.
So, on to those Shermans. You get eight in total. Two Firefly's & six bog standard mark V's for two troops. 

The sprues are in a softish plastic & don't exactly inspire.
They don't go together all that well. There's a little 'doctoring' needed on both sides of the hull and in the end, I decided to use superglue on the hull assembly to ensure the gaps didn't re-open.
First hull assembled and it's natty little magnet added (in the box!) for the turret.
The hull sides still left a bit of an unsightly gap that's when I had one of those 'lightbulb' moments. I decided to fill the gaps and wondered just what I hafd for the job?
The most disappointing substance known to man. Or is it?
Having bought a pot of Liquid Green stuff only to be very underwhelmed (how can a product really come about from the need to correct a known failing?), I thought I'd give it a go to see if there actually was ANYTHING it was good for before it went on a final journey.
looking a little rough. But I began to believe this plan might just work!

I added another and gave them both an undercoat with my fave trusted Halford's grey primer

Now it was beginning to take shape I decided it was worth pressing on with the others and not consigning them to eBay.

The rest of the troop with a coat of PSC's British armour Spray.
If I did all eight it would take my Sherman count to an unnecessary 22. So I could afford to go against previous thinking and give them decals to make them unit specific. I will be getting some DD's and marking them up as 13/18th Hussars to support the paras in their early battles so for these mark V's I wanted something for the follow on battles east of the Orne. BINGO! Operation Goodwood featured 11th Armoured Division and a quick check yielded that the same tanks could be used for part of Epsom too.
Full troop
I decaled them up as the senior regiment 23rd Hussars and will be adding the second troop very shortly. Considering That I got a German company, an American Airborne platoon, a rulebook (for eBay) & these eight tanks all for £15 I reckon I made off like a bandit!

The decals were 11th Armoured from with the remainder from the excellent Dom's Decals considering you can pick these tanks up for 99p each I reckon I might be back for more.

Next, back to those A/T guns ;^)

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

They said I should be committed..... I decided to show some commitment!

After OML2 I took a little time to reflect on where I was hobby-wise & decide which direction I wanted to head off into next. Like all wargamers I have too many periods of interest, scales, books to read and dreams of new shiny projects.

I actually concluded that I am enjoying Chain of Command so much at the moment that I'm staying with it for the foreseeable future (accompanied of course, where the megalomania takes hold, with a bit of IABSM!). While I accept that this may not thrill anyone who doesn't share my love for all things WW2, I do want to "ride the wave" of current enthusiasm and take advantage of making at least a small dent in my lead-pile. I'm sure it won't stay exclusive for too long and I'll endeavour to at least post some game reports on other topics, but for now at least, it's going to be a bit WW2tastic so hold onto your (tin)hats!

Not wanting to "let the cat out of the bag" I couldn't post these two photos prior to OML2. Above is the 20mm Flak auf P107(f) And below are the two 75mm PaK on S307(f) which were two of the supports for the panzergrenadiers.

In the right hand of these two vehicles is the figure representing Hans Holler who commanded the 75 platoon at Bénouville.

First project in line will be reading up, compiling and painting all the necessary items for both sides of my long awaited "East of the Orne" campaign for At the Sharp End. This is actually a bit of a cheat as I spent a lot of time last year painting Normandy buildings and also painted over a company's worth of British paras. Along with the newly made stuff for OML2 I'm already into a healthy start with just a few more panzergrenadier machine gun teams and some A/T guns to add for the Germans and paras to have enough kit to get a Chain of Command campaign up & running very soon. I'm sticking with 15mm as my scale for all things CoC and IABSM. The availability of kits and price are something that just can't be matched in 28mm as pretty as it is. CoC also plays quite differently (in a good way) in 15mm. The ground scale being correct, there's a definite feeling of more space and in my opinion you get a better appreciation of the tactics, especially covering fire and flanking manoeuvres. As you can see by these photos, you just couldn't do this in 28mm.

As part of the preparation it's my intention to compile a fairly comprehensive list of 21st Panzer Division support choices using the official "CoCulator". I'll hopefully be pinging the end product over to Rich for approval. This is something I'm really looking forward to, especially as my copy of The Combat History of 21st Panzer Division by Werner Kortenhaus arrived only days after OML2 after an 18 month wait! It really is a superb book and surprisingly has it's very own little map book as an attached purchase.

The particular part of this campaign I'll be most concentrating my efforts on will be Kampfgruppe von Luck's assaults toward the allied bridgehead from the east. there are some fantastic battles, with as you'd expect from a kampfgruppe, plenty of mixed elements. Some armour (panzer IV's - covered), a lot of recce elements in the form of armoured cars (covered), half-tracks (covered) & soft skins (while not so applicable for CoC, still very much so for IABSM & in scenario ideas).

The intention is to run the campaign at the Wyvern Wargamers club (hopefully). Using the games as a testing bed to maybe compile a book of scenarios which maybe something I can tout to TFL once more for the specials like I did with Bénouville?

Over the coming weeks, at risk of being boring, I hope to post up progress of how the scenarios are shaping up, newly painted kit and of course some AAR's. These have all been painted, crewed, decalled & had stowage since OML2, representing (for me) quite an unusual feat. Hence keeping on at least for now.....

SdKfz250/9's from 1st company of Pz. Aufklrungs-Abteilung 21 (Armoured Reconnaissance

234/1's belonging to the 2nd (Heavy) Company of Pz-Aufklarungs-Abteilung 21

233's again from 2nd Company. Nifty HE support!



75mm PaK40 auf 39H(f) from Sturmgeschutz-Abteilung 200 (Assault Guns). I have a couple of the 10.5's to do later, but again more of an IABSM thing.

These are useful in CoC. Kubelwagens were EVERYWHERE and can offer a cheap (if fragile) option to speed troops across the table. These are Forged in Battle with crews from Battlefront and Peter Pig leftovers I had lying around. A little filing and they fitted a treat. I do think open-topped vehicles look much better for some crew.

75mm PaK auf Lorraine(f). Although strictly not belonging to 21st Panzer, a few of these turned up in the vicinity from 736 Division.

These are for later (when I start on the 12th SS & Panzer Lehr battles). They got caught up in my A/C enthusiasm.

These are some of Battlefront's new plastic panzergrenadier half-tracks. I'm really pleased how these went together (assembled by my 15 year old son). Crew are also Battlefront being a mixture from the plastic box set and the ones coming with their 250's
 Next up............anti-tank guns!

Getting back to it

......And I'm back!

After a month's hiatus it's time to get back to it. I'd decided that as all my posts had been about the Bénouville game and OML2 it had all reached a point where it could have become overkill. As the event got closer, I found that I was unable to post further info for fear of giving the scenario away too much for the players on the day. Then, after the event, it was so well covered everywhere on the net there wasn't much original material I could add. Suffice to say, unless you've been hiding under a rock you'll have seen or read or heard SOMETHING OML2 related. Just in case you didn't, you can catch up on most stuff here Also the scenario itself (with all needed to play it) actually made it into this year's Summer Special(!) along with your's truly's report of the day's proceedings. All available here for the absolute bargain snip price of only £6!

I enjoyed the day enormously. So much so that I actually forgot to take ANY photos! DOH!

I ran the Bénouville scenario in the morning for Geoff Bond (Brits) & Jason Ralls (21st Panzer) ending in a close run victory for the Paras courtesy, it must be said, of some outlandish dice-luck to recover from a couple of strange tactical decisions. I think they both enjoyed it. The play-testing certainly paid dividends ensuring the game ran well on the day.

In the afternoon I had probably one of the best games of CoC ever. Le Port run by Rich Clarke himself. Dave Luff and myself were given the Paras and had to hold off a counter-attack by panzergrenadiers played by Garry Shortland & Jamie Burrell. Everything went really well for us. Dave (experiencing CoC for the 1st time) and I formulated a bit of a plan after the patrol phase and with Dave rolling all the dice my usual appalling luck never reared it's head - confirming what I always knew.....

The evening was again a cracking time. The curry went down well (aided by some liquid gold), the stories & banter flowed and not even England's defeat to Italy late on could dampen the day's enjoyment.

I'd go so far as to say hat this year went even better than the last, so it looks fairly certain that it'll all happen again next June by popular demand.

I haven't been idle since the event despite my lack of blogging activity. I'll be putting up a post later today or tomorrow (with piccies) showing what I've been up to and sharing a few thoughts after my month of reflection.......