Saturday, 22 June 2013


Here are some images of a recently-completed Hetzer, or more correctly, a Jagdpanzer 38(t) (Sd.Kfz. 138/2). Ever since I started WW2 skirmish gaming, I have been slowly adding to my Heer force, which acts as a ready-built OPFOR for my Partisans, Soviets and South Africans. Given that using 28mm figures to game WW2 encounters is fairly new to the local gaming groups, the German force has seen plenty of action. This models was rushed into a game a month or so ago with just primer and a Dunkelgelb basecoat, and then withdrawn from service to get its camo finish.

I enjoyed the challenge of trying to replicate the early factory-finished scheme, which stands in contrast to the more common sprayed redbrown/olivegreen armour patterns.

The kit is from Warlord games: Its built pretty much out of the box: I only added the skirts, periscope, antenna and a one piece of baggage.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

On the road to Monte Sole: a Bolt Action game

For the most recent Saturday meet of the Peninsula Wargames Group, I was involved in a 1500pt Bolt Action game, depicting a typical encounter between advanced elements of the SA 6th Armoured Division and a mixed force of Heer and SS defenders in the foothills of the Apennines in late 1944/early 1945.

I was looking forward to the game, as it was the first time I could field most of my South African force, the first time I had 1500pts under my command, and the first time both forces on the table had been drawn from the appropriate theatre selectors in the "Armies of..." books, as opposed to the abbreviated rulebook lists.

The official history of the Natal Mounted Rifles includes the full text of a 1944 report to divisional HQ, describing the methods of, and challenges facing, the dedicated reconnaissance unit as they picked their way carefully through successive layers of German defences. Based on the report, I put together a representative force: two reinforced platoons of 2 sections plus command each; medics; the ubiquitous FO; support weapons (2 mortars, 2 sniper teams, a Vickers MG, a PIAT and a towed QF 6-pdr) and transports (a 15-cwt truck and a Jeep). Armoured elements consisted of a Stuart Recce tank, a Sherman V 75mm and two Universal carriers in the recce role. With all selected as regulars, the list generated 21 order dice.

Facing the South Africans was a mix of Heer regulars and Waffen SS veterans (with the fanatic upgrade and all the relevant toys - a flamethrower, an MG42 in sustained fire mode, assault rifles, panzerfausts, panzerschreks etc) and supported by a PzKPfw IV, an Sd.Kfz 251/1 and a 120mm mortar team. Being expensive units, they generated 16 order dice.

Looking East. Objective top centre.
Looking West. Objective center of frame. In foreground is the village, through which the South African planned to attack.

The scenario was "Hold Until Relieved", with Germans set as the defenders and the objective set as a pair of ruined buildings on the crest of a hill, overlooking a village to the east and an road intersection to the west. A hedged-lined road ran parallel to the North (German) table edge.

The German commander deployed a Veteran SS section and an MMG into the objective. Assuming an armoured counter-attack, I deployed a platoon on the west flank of the table to act as a stopper group and firebase, and another platoon in the village, tasked to attack the objective through the village. The scenario dictates that all the attacker's armour is kept in reserve, and I specified that a Stuart recce and a Carrier would enter from the South (Allied table edge), the A/T gun from the West, and a Sherman and the second carrier from the East, supporting the main attack.

A PIAT team keeps an eye out for Gerry armour, while the rest of the platoon advances eastwards.

Bolt Action has its detractors, but once again the rule set produced a tense and enjoyable game, with lots of ebb and flow of fortune as the game unfolded.

Initial successes by the South Africans in pinning and reducing the defenders on the objective were matched by successful counter-battery fire by the German mortar team. The South African HQ called for an artillery strike to support their attack, and disaster struck - a miscalculation by the FO brought the strike down on his own troops in the village - killing the platoon HQ and pinning the advancing sections. Exploiting the opportunity, the German commander called in his SS Panzergrenadiers and Panzer IV from reserve, and the shellshocked and leaderless South Africans in the village collapsed in the face of determined German attacks.

Heer regulars call for support as they advance to contest the village...
... which arrives in the form of a Panzer IV Special.

Despite coming under small-arms fire, Heer mortarmen stick to their task, while their armour is pinned by accurate but ineffective a/t fire.

I attempted to reorganise the attack from the west flank, and the South Africans succeeded in briefly occupying one of the buildings on the objective, but the SS veterans immediately counter-attacked from the village to reclaim the hill. Despite sustained suppressive fire from the SA armour, and the loss of the Panzer IV to the Springbok 6-pdr, the fanatical Waffen SS held their ground and beat off all the South African assaults. With the game going into the 7th turn, the South Africans were lacking viable infantry units to contest, and the game was conceded. By my reckoning it had taken between 4 and 5 hours to play out.

Regimental HQ co-ordinating the ill-fated attack on the objective.

Too late... the Sprinkbok armour arrives after the primary infantry attack had already failed and the village had been lost.
An NMR Stuart Recce brews up, hit by a panzerscheck round at maximum range...

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Peninsula Wargames Group Gamesday

Bolt Action 28mm South African 6th Division vs Waffen SS 16 Panzergrenadier Division and 362 Infantry Division, Italy 1945
The Cape-based Peninsula Wargames Group recently held their June monthly meet at the Chavonne Battery Museum at the V&A waterfront. The museum preserves the site of a 18th century coastal battery that was discovered during construction of an office building. Despite having sunken to below the current sea level, the battery was remarkably well preserved, and the archeological structures and the museum elements were sensitively integrated into the basement and ground floor of the modern building.

Its not the first time the museum has offered its facilities to the club - it was the venue for the PWG "big game" in December last year - a 3-day marathon recreation of Operation Market Garden (see pix here).

28mm Black Powder Battle of Quatre Bras

This time three games were played - a recreation of Quatre Bras in 28mm with something in the region of 30 battalions on each side (using the Black Powder rules and the Albion Triumphant supplements to guide scenario development), a 20mm WW2 Eastern Front encounter using the Rapid Fire 2.0 rules, and a 28mm skirmish (using the Bolt Action rules) based in Italy 1944/5 between German defenders and recce elements of the South African 6th Armoured Division.

Additional images can be found in the PWG Gaming Gallery.

Its a great venue for playing wargames  "in the public eye" - plenty of space, comfortable, a sense of history; and with passing "traffic" who have some interest in military history. Unfortunately, the lighting makes for tricky photography  - the gallery-style spotlights create deep shadows on the tables, so the games held there are not as well documented as they ought to be.

More info about the museum can also be found on their Facebook page.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

28mm South African Infantry: Italy 1944, Part 2

Regimental HQ carrier and HQ transport.

My painting has slowed down to crawl, but I eventually managed to get these off the workbench a few weeks back, and finally got a moment to photograph them earlier today.

They are some reinforcements for my South African 6th Armoured Division forces, representing some HQ elements and supports.

Primarily representing First City/Cape Town Highlanders in Italy 1944, with a smattering of attached troops from other units.
3" Mortar team. Could be either from the First City/Cape Town Highlanders support platoon, or an attached team from the Royal Durban Light Infantry.
HQ Bren Team - the attached rifle section "liberated" a Bren from one the regimental carriers to supplement their firepower.

The regiment's patrol specialists - Willem Schutte and Jim "Lefty" Hendriks. While briefed to spend their time "listening" for Tedesci movement and not engaging, both were known to use their 303's to good effect if they spotted a high-value target.

The staff. The two officers were painted a while back, but this is the first time they have been seen together with their staff sergeant, the regimental piper, and a runner

Signallers - a cable runner and a command radio/telephone operator.

NMC stretcher bearers/orderlies.


Figures are from Artizan and Warlord. Piper is from the Warlord Commando character pack, with standard battledress legs from the plastic infantry, and greenstuff bonnet. The Native Military Contingent stretcher bearer is a Warlord figure with an Empress Zulu head, and medical orderly is a converted Artisan officer with greenstuff bag and Empress Zulu head (the Union Defence Force was racially segregated, and black troops could only serve in non-combatant roles).

Seen here with my Artillery HQ jeep for reference, the Morris 15cwt I built to add flavour to the force. I am not sure if the 6th Division still used Morris trucks in Italy (have seen one pic of a Morris radio truck but nothing besides that) but the wonderful little Company B kit is too neat to not include as a light transport.

The HQ carrier is the standard Warlord Mk2 kit with radio, antenna, toolbox and stowage added. Seen here with a First City/Cape Town Highlanders carrier platoon vehicle.