Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Panzer IV

28mm, 1/56th. 1:56, PzKpfw IV Aufs. H with schurzen, Herman Goering Division, 1944, Italy, Warlord Games, Company B, Westwind Miniatures
Here are some images of my latest addition to my German armour - a PzKpfw IV Aufs. H with schurzen. I tried to depict a vehicle of the Herman Goering division in Italy 1944, which explains the commander's choice of headgear. The fallschirmjager helmet might not be particularly plausible for a tank commander, but I like to think it imparts a touch of the unit's flavour to an otherwise "vanilla" vehicle.

I have to admit it was a rather unsatisfying project. Maybe because the Panzer IV isnt a vehicle that appeals much to me - but which I chose to build only because its practically an obligatory addition if you hope to represent a German army in WW2. And maybe because I wasnt very happy with the job Warlord did with the kit - the overly-thick schurzen and their clunky rail assemblies, the crude detail and lack of depth in the running gear, and the poor fit of the parts. I keep looking at it and seeing things I would do differently if I could start again.

That said, I am happy to have built it. It has already proved its worth in my collection, being used a number of times in scenario-driven games which call for a German medium tank.

Its very much an out-of-the-box build - the only modifications were the replacement of most of the schurzen brackets, and the only addition was the aerial. Decals by Company B. The commander has a Westwind SHS fallschirmjager on a Warlord tank crewman torso.

28mm, 1/56th. 1:56, PzKpfw IV Aufs. H with schurzen, Herman Goering Division, 1944, Italy, Warlord Games, Company B, Westwind Miniatures

28mm, 1/56th. 1:56, PzKpfw IV Aufs. H with schurzen, Herman Goering Division, 1944, Italy, Warlord Games, Company B, Westwind Miniatures

28mm, 1/56th. 1:56, PzKpfw IV Aufs. H with schurzen, Herman Goering Division, 1944, Italy, Warlord Games, Company B, Westwind Miniatures

28mm, 1/56th. 1:56, PzKpfw IV Aufs. H with schurzen, Herman Goering Division, 1944, Italy, Warlord Games, Company B, Westwind Miniatures

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Walking tour: Battle of Blaauwberg

Battlefield Walk & Talk - Battle of Blaauwberg 1806

The Friends of Blaauwberg Conservation Area invites you to join us on a guided Battlefield Walk and Talk on Saturday 27th July.

After months of painstaking research and analysis Ian and Roy will be conducting for the first time in 207 years a walking tour of the Battle of Blaauwberg 1806.

The 4km hike is an easy walk on a sand track. On the hike you will see:
  • Where the English manhandled their artillery into position under the blistering sun
  • Walk in the footsteps of the Scottish Brigade as they charged the Batavian line. Visit the place of Pelegrini’s stand where 19 gunners stood firm long enough to allow the retreating Batavian forces time to escape.
  • Walk the Batavian line where the crash of thunder was mixed with the flash of bayonets, where the casualties fell.
  • Walk across to the high dune where the Batavian artillery tried to stem the red tide.

The hike will start at 9h00 on Saturday 27 July 2013 and finish by 13h00.
Meet at Zonnekus Resort, Morningstar at 8h30

Bring a sun hat, sun cream, a bite to eat and something to drink, wear comfortable clothes and shoes. The event is free for Friends of BCA members. Cost is R20 for non-members. New Family Members may join on the day R60 per family per annum. For more information call FoBCA Chairman Roy on 071 671 9552 or Ian on 076 315 7713 and to book e-mail Ian at built2scale@iburst.co.za

Reblogged from http://gosouthonline.co.za/59046/whats-up-down-south/

Monday, 22 July 2013

28mm Heer Infantry

Of the 28mm vehicles currently on my painting bench, more seem to be German vehicles than any other nation. Which is a curious thing, as I didnt set out to collect a German force - I just needed a few representative troops to provide ready-to-play opponents for my South African 6th Armoured Division forces. The army started as a single squad of mid-war Germans, and over time I have added figures from a variety of ranges, in a variety of uniforms, selected simply because I liked the sculpts. Despite developing without plan or list, they form, together with the armour, support and transport I have since added, a viable and fairly balanced Bolt Action force. And the collection now has a bit of its momentum, and I find myself wanting to add particular weapons teams and vehicles to allow more diverse list lists to be fielded.

The figures dont represent any particular unit. Purists might shudder at the mix of uniforms and equipment, but I enjoy the somewhat ragtag appearance. My rationalisation for their appearance - if asked - is that towards end of the war the German forces were suffering from massive supply and manpower problems, and looked anything but uniform. And besides, the SA 6th Armoured Division fought such a mix of German forces (ranging from elites like the Fallschirmjager Divisions, the Herman Goering Division, and the 5th Mountain Division, through veteran Panzer and SS divisions, and Lehr Battalions, to reluctant Osttruppen and garrison divisions) that there is no way to represent them all. So I would rather build a "generic" force that could be used to proxy any of them.

These then, although painted a while back, are a selection the most recently completed Heer figures. Most of the infantry are Artizan, with a few additional specialists from Warlord.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Bolt Action: How big is big enough?

Pic courtesy of Richard Trevor

Saturday 13 July saw the biggest (at least in terms of the forces deployed, if not in terms of the number of players) Bolt Action game yet attempted by the Peninsula Wargames Group. We didnt tally up an exact points value on the day (we unpacked forces until it "looked about fair") but the Soviet general estimated about 4500-5000pts, and a rough calculation of the German list after the game reached 4000pts before I stopped counting.

Three Soviet players commanded a horde of Siberan regulars, supported by divisional artillery (Zis-3s), 120mm mortars, two T-34s and KV-1. They shared over 40 order dice between them. Two German players mustered a force comprising 8 squads of SS Veteran fanatic panzergrenadiers with all their toys: assault rifles, flamethrowers, panzerfausts and panzershrecks, MMGs, 81mm mortars; and supported by a Pz IV, two snubnosed StuG IIIs (proxied by Hetzers) and a Pak 40, totalling 30 order dice.

"That looks about fair" ... the quick and easy list-building approach. Pic courtesy of Richard Trevor

30 order dice worth of Waffen SS veterans. Pic courtesy of Richard Trevor

The scenario was an adaption of Mission 5: Top Secret. In addition to the movable objective (The unfortunate Captain Biggleson Esq, shot down while ferrying some rather important papers to Moscow) four other fixed objectives were placed on the 8 x 6 table: one in a farmhouse on the north edge of the table, one at each of the road intersections in the table centre, and one in an intact building in the town on the south edge. Deployment zones were set 12 inches into the table on the long edges (so instead of reserves arriving right on the table edge, they arrived 12 inches into the table) - an attempt to ensure the forces got to grips immediately from Turn 1. The movable objective was worth 2 victory points - the others 1pt each.

Looking south. Objective 1 in ruined farmhouse in foreground, Objectives 2 and 3 at road intersections, Objective 4 (Captain Biggleson) in white and red ruin at top right, and Objective 5 in left-hand apartment block. Pic courtesy of Richard Trevor

Each player was assigned a separate order dice colour, and in an attempt to speed up the game, there were always two dice kept in play. It worked well: on such a large table the near simultaneous activations seldom conflicted, and when they did we reverted to dice draw sequence and resolved activations one by one.

The Soviet High Command plotting their next move, while a German spy assesses the state of the order dice bag. Pic courtesy of Richard Trevor

The game took from about 10.30am to 4.30pm to play, with about a 30-45 minutes break for lunch. We managed to get 6 turns in, but the option to go to a seventh turn as allowed for in the scenario was never entertained - we were running out of time, so the players agreed at the start of the 6th turn that it was the last.

But six turns provided plenty of swings of fortune and swings of momentum. The Germans refused the north flank and conceded the farmhouse objective, preferring to castle up in the town. However, they managed to conceal their deployment plan (read, the dice favoured them) until after the Soviets had committed a healthy percentage of their force to the north flank, which meant the fierce Red Army attack through the town was blunted while the Soviet centre and northern force took a few turns to swing their axis of advance towards the German defensive line.

The centre of the Soviet advance, with the southern force just visible making good progress through the town. Pic courtesy of Richard Trevor

When the Soviets did get to assault the Germans, the attrition on the precious German squads looked unsustainable. The Tough Fighters rule of the Siberians meant that even if they lost an entire squad in each assault (and there were plenty of assaults as buildings were cleared room by room and floor by floor), they whittled down the SS troops very rapidly. The Red Army pegged the Germans back in a tiny quadrant of the table, but which happened to contain 2 out of 5 objectives, including the unfortunate British pilot. The deciding objective - the southernmost one in the intact apartment building - was contested by squad after squad, and changed hands several times.

A brutal street by street fight. The two intact apartment blocks each had 2 floors of 4 rooms: a lot of real estate to defend or attack. Pic courtesy of Richard Trevor

Wargames Tactics 101: "Always secure your flank with a table edge"... Pic courtesy of Richard Trevor

Panzer Grenadiers prepare for their next building assault. Pic courtesy of Richard Trevor

But by the end of Turn 6 the full force of the Russian northern force had yet to hit the main German positions (marching through forests is never fast). And Germans also held the contested objective, and thus sneaked the win. If the game had gone on one more turn, the result was likely to have been very different.

I have previously expressed some concerns about playing large games of Bolt Action, because played in the way the designers intended, there is an assumption that a single unit activation needs to be completed before the next order dice is drawn, resulting in a lot of "passive" time for all except the active player. However, this game seemed to flow fairly well, and undertaking more than one activation at a time seemed to make a significant difference to the speed of the game without compromising the order dice dynamic too badly. Can a Bolt Action game get any bigger and still stay managable? I dont know. But given the Peninsula Wargames Group preference for large multiplayer games, I would think it might just be tested to a new limit soon. 6000pts a side, anyone?