Sunday, 11 September 2016

PWG: somewhere in Afghanistan, sometime in the 1980s...

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2016
These are some pix of a recent Peninsula Wargames Group game - using the fanmade Bolt Action "Modern Wars" rules (available here). The rules, as we used them, worked well, and the scenario - the Russian objective was to get a convoy of soft skin vehicles through the valley - was a lot of fun.

All appears peaceful...

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2016
© Golf Alpha Zulu 2016But the Russians are taking no chances, and send in some infantry and supports to sweep the village...

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2016

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2016
© Golf Alpha Zulu 2016
 Afghani regulars keep watch from a hilltop position.

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2016

First signs of trouble... an armoured car is knocked out, before having an opportunity to report on any hostile forces...

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2016

Heavy air support arrives to help to identify Muhajideen positions, but falls foul of American-supplied anti-aircraft tech... "How do you say Black Hawk Down in Russian?"...

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2016




© Golf Alpha Zulu 2016

Realising they are in a fight, the Russians respond with a slow and steady approach - using air cover and heavy weapons to destroy the village, building by building... while cautiously advancing their infantry...

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2016

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2016


However, the Russians keep taking casualties, and the convoy halts as the advance falters....

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2016

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2016
 And the locals begin a counter-attack...

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2016






The game was conceded by the Russian players after 7 turns. Their tactic of destroying buildings to deny cover hadn't done enough to degrade the Muhajideen forces to a point that the soft skins could enter the village safely.

Many thanks to those PWG members who supplied all the figures, vehicles and terrain for the game.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Paint your wagon...

© Copyright Golf Alpha Zulu 2016
Nothing is easy for a landser. Just when they get a nice new wagon to carry their kit, the military police throw red tape across their every path...

© Copyright Golf Alpha Zulu 2016


© Copyright Golf Alpha Zulu 2016

© Copyright Golf Alpha Zulu 2016


Just off the painting table, the HF2 field wagon is from Warlord games, and the MPs from Black Tree and Warlord. Apologies for the grim little vignette of the firing squad - I debated whether I should paint these figures. In the end I figured they didn't have to be seen to depict a summary execution of, say, a partisan. Completely plausible that they could depict a post-court-martial execution of a deserter. No less grim, but at least not a depiction of a war crime...

© Copyright Golf Alpha Zulu 2016



© Copyright Golf Alpha Zulu 2016



Monday, 18 July 2016

A couple of Crusaders

© Copyright Golf Alpha Zulu 2016. All rights reserved.This is my attempt at the 1/56th scale Rubicon Crusader Mk II/III- a kit I reviewed earlier in the year.

The kit was a pleasure to paint - plenty of crisp details to pick up with washes and dry brushing. Also, the way the kit goes together allows sub-assemblies (running gear, turret, hull) to be painted separately and then assembled.

As I mentioned in the previous post on this kit, I was set on painting the vehicle in a Desert-Sand/Blue-Black pattern used by some vehicles in the Tunisian campaign. I wanted a change from painting a series of Light Mud/Blue-Black vehicles for my Italian campaign force.

So I knew that would mean I would have to represent a vehicle in the 8th Army at around the time of the assault on the Mareth line, (as opposed to one of the 1st Army, in the north of Tunisia).

But I didn't ever get to grips with the insignia and markings of the various units that made up the Desert Rats, and when they had Crusaders, and when they applied various camo patterns. So I must confess, the markings are a bit of conjecture. I think I have represented a vehicle from A Squadron 3rd RTR, brigaded in the 7th Armoured Division. Maybe. Or maybe not at all. Rivet counters can look away, or better still, point me to some clear and comprehensive references.
© Copyright Golf Alpha Zulu 2016. All rights reserved.© Copyright Golf Alpha Zulu 2016. All rights reserved.

And below, pix of the same hull with the Mk II turret.

© Copyright Golf Alpha Zulu 2016. All rights reserved.

© Copyright Golf Alpha Zulu 2016. All rights reserved.
© Copyright Golf Alpha Zulu 2016. All rights reserved.

At the same time, I painted up a second Mk II Crusader, this one from Blitzkrieg Miniatures. In this case, decals were spares from the Rubicon kit (and I am not sure if the Blitzkrieg kit includes decals, as this one came to me secondhand), and I was hoping to represent a vehicle from the same unit as the model above, but a bit earlier in the campaign. While the detail on the Blitzkrieg kit is not a patch on the Rubicon offering, it produces a very neat wargaming model once painted up. Standing alone, it looks the part. Its only when you put it alongside the plastic kit that you notice the difference in detail.   I am sure there are wargamers who would choose the ease of assembly of the Blitzkrieg kit over the particularly detailed but slower build of the Rubicon kit...

© Copyright Golf Alpha Zulu 2016. All rights reserved.
© Copyright Golf Alpha Zulu 2016. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Peninsula Wargames Group: Bolt Action @ Tarawa

@ Lindsay Hall 2016
Photograph courtesy and copyright of Lindsay Hall









The Cape Town-based Peninsula Wargames Group recently played a large Bolt Action game based on the landings on Tarawa. The event was organised and umpired by David Davidson, who compiled the following After Action Report:


Historical background

Following the final US victory at Guadalcanal, both sides targeted Tarawa in the Gilbert Island as the next battle, due to its strategic location en route to the Marianas and the Philippines. The Japanese spent almost a year fortifying the island, which the US attacked on 20 Nov 1943. The battle raged for four days, during which time almost the entire Japanese garrison of around 4 700 were killed, with US force suffering almost 3 800 casualties (almost half killed). These figures caused shock in the USA, and led to the development of new equipment and different tactics.


Map of Betio Island (USMC, Wikepedia)



The Game

Based on Scenario 8, Bloody Tarawa, in the Bolt Action Empires in Flames supplement, we simply placed two tables in close proximity, representing two of the three Red beaches (on the northern side of the island). Each table had around 4000 points of US forces, and 2000 points of Japanese. As in the scenario, the Japanese got 5 bunkers, 9 linear obstacles and a minefield for each (free) landing craft taken by the US players. The US forces on each table comprised three platoons, each of around 1300-1400 points, and the Japanese, two platoons, each of around 1000 points.

The game started with an umpire-specified reef modifier of -1, representing the neap tide, with a number of US landing craft being delayed on the reef. (This reduced to 0 and then +1 in turns 2 and 3).  The US forces were fortunate that none became permanently stuck on the reef. The Japanese forces on both tables had a field day on the first two bounds, destroying a number of landing craft and unarmoured[1] LVT-1 “amtracs” as they struggled to make the beach. Bounds three and four saw further pain for the US as the infantry struggled ashore under heavy fire from bunkers and trenches. However, by bound five the US forces were started to move off the beaches (the scenario did not include the sea wall which historically trapped the amtracs on the beach, but also provide the Marines with some cover) and the US flamethrowers were making their presence felt – each table had 6 manpack flamethrowers and 2 flame throwing tanks/amtracs. The players on Red Beach 3 completed 7 (of a planned 9) bounds before we called time after about 8 hours of playing (including a lunch break), with the Japanese really starting to take strain, and the Red Beach 2 table finished on bound 6. Interestingly, the Japanese minefields proved relatively easy for the US forces to avoid, other than one amtrac which executed a rather over-enthusiastic turn  (but then survived the ensuing blast in any case).  

Copyright David Davidson 2016 All rights reserved
Red Beach 2. Photograph courtesy and copyright of David Davidson

Copyright David Davidson 2016 All rights reserved
Red Beach 3. Photograph courtesy and copyright of David Davidson


As noted below, the Umpire made a call (due to the shortened game) to increase the US victory points for getting units off the beaches, which resulted in a US victory on one beach, and a draw on the other. Overall, it was the most marginal of US victories however, with 75 points for the combined US forces vs 70 for the Japanese, and really captured the feel of this terrible battle.

Copyright David Davidson 2016 All rights reserved
Photograph courtesy and copyright of David Davidson

Copyright David Davidson 2016 All rights reserved
Photograph courtesy and copyright of David Davidson

Copyright Lindsay Hall 2016 All rights reserved
Photograph courtesy and copyright of Lindsay Hall

Copyright Lindsay Hall 2016 All rights reserved
Photograph courtesy and copyright of Lindsay Hall




Players and results:

Red beach number 2 (western beach)

US: Mike, Tony, Greg, Henning
Japanese: Quinton and Chris
Played 6 bounds.

US VPs

Japanese VPs

Destroyed Japanese units
3x1
Destroyed US units (including landing craft)
15x2
US units in Japanese deployment zone
13x2



29

30
Result
Draw




Red beach number 3 (eastern beach)

US: Anthony (also overall US commander), Bobby, Dean
Japanese: Graham and Lindsay
Played 7 bounds.

US VPs

Japanese VPs

Destroyed Japanese units
12x1
Destroyed US units (including landing craft)
20x2
US units in Japanese deployment zone
17x2



46

40
Result
US victory




Overall result: US 75 vs Japanese 70 – a (very, very!) marginal US victory.

Copyright PWG 2016 All rights reserved
The usual suspects:  From left, back: Quinton, Greg, Mike, Lindsay, Anthony, Graham, Henning, Dean, David, Chris; front, Tony and Bobby



Tarawa – special rules

Japanese:

  • As per usual Japanese special rules, all hidden Japanese forces may start the game in ambush.
  •  Japanese FOOs, spotters and other indirect fire may fire when in ambush until the US forces hit the beach, after which the usual rules apply.  (This simulates the Japanese lying in wait, and should also speed up the the first few bounds).
  •  Bunkers (as in BA rules): confer -4 hard cover modifier. May only be close assaulted from entrance doors (usually at the back).
  • Japanese indirect fire weapons remain hidden even after firing. (Simulates excellent siting and camouflage, as usual with Japanese island defenses).
  • All Japanese units, even vehicles, may start hidden even if not dug in – but lose this as usual once they fire etc. (Simulates camouflage).
  • If a 1 is rolled for a Japanese artillery FOO, this is instead counted as the telephone wire having been destroyed by US naval fire, and the artillery strike is forfeited.


US:
  •  Until the first US forces hit the beach, no US forces may be given “down” orders until all “advance” and “run” orders have been issued. (This is to speed the first couple of bounds up).
  • US forces: may not re-allocate forces between tables until bound 5. 
  • Amtracs: they may continue to fire their weapons even after their loads disembark. (Historically, these were manned by US Navy personnel at this time. Landing craft however may not – these should be trying to re-float off the beaches, not engaging in running gun fights.)
  • Bazookas fired at bunkers: should they hit, count as a light mortar for effect on occupants.
  • US FOO – artillery and air – “friendly fire” may not be targeted at US units on the beach or in the water (there are no historical accounts of the Navy accidentally targeting such units, which would clearly by US in all probability). If a 1 is rolled, and there are no valid US targets inland, the strike is instead forfeited.


Umpire-eyes only:

  • Reef crossing modifiers: bound 1, -1; bound 2; 0; bound 3 and later, +1. (Simulates actual conditions).
  • Japanese HQ: from bound 3, any turn the US commander scores a 0 on a D10, the Japanese HQ is hit and destroyed. No further communication between Japanese forces on different tables, no re-allocation of forces between tables. (Historically, the Japanese HQ was hit and destroyed when re-locating).
  • US forces entering an bunker: on a 6, they trigger a booby trap.
  • Due to shortened game, US claimed 2 VPs per unit in Japanese deployment area








[1] After Tarawa, the LVTs were armoured.