Monday, 3 November 2008

SPW Battalion

The Dragon SPW btn

Next little bit of panzer porn is the German half track battalion, this has largely been built up this year and consists of 14 251's.

I'd had a number of 251's previously which had been acquired in dribs and drabs from shows and e-bay etc....a platoon of Britannia, another from Frontline, I already had about 15 or 16, but....they lacked commonality, different models, painted at different times. Didn't quite look right.

So, I flogged them on e-bay and with a healthy Paypal balance looked around for a replacement.. I wanted a unit where the vehicles would be similar, I checked out the various kits available but wasn't too keen on making that many AND then having to paint them...Milicast seemed the best bet, good, but expensive.. I was very impressed by the Dragon die-cast stuff but they were a bit pricey. A quick sum and a dozen plus 251's was going to cost getting on for £200, before crews and extras, and as you may have gathered by now I'm partial to plenty of crews and stowage:
Then I discovered a man called Craig at Realistic Wargames. He was knocking out Dragon stuff (I think they are seconds) at the ludicrous price of £5.95 a time, assembled, painted (better than I could). No Brainer as our American friends would say.A couple of e-mails and he informed me he could get what I wanted reasonably quickly.

Bingo!They duly arrived...9 251/1c's, 4x 251/10's and a mortar carrier. A bit of dry brushing and they were ready.

AB Crews, Fantassin dismounted grenadiers
Next up was an order to that nice Mr Michael at AB figures...if you cruise around their catologue they have dozens of figures suitable for crewing vehicles (ie no bases), a few more bits and bobs from the fabulous and underrated Lammercraft and Elhiem ranges and I had the 40 -odd figures to populate the half tracks. I bought a big bag of sage foliage, and a load of stowage from SHQ and Skytrex.

Knowing the vehicles were all there and ready to go made painting the crews a real pleasure, a bit of basing and we have the end result. I must say I'm pleased with them.

Huge variety in the AB crews
Now, I have come across some sentiments from wargamers who deride the notion of pre-painted stuff....come out with stuff like "Its cheating" or "I don't feel right, if I don't paint them". Now up to a point I agree with them. The idea of just opening the boxes and plonking a load of pre-paints on the table doesn't feel quite right to me either, but given that it allowed me the time and money to then personalise this unit to be something individual with relatively little effort (although, I reckon I probably put more work into these vehicles than a lot of gamers would into something they built from scratch), then I'm afraid I've no shame whatsoever about it. (as this blog continues it may become apparent theres quite a few things I have little shame over).
I probably could paint up 3 or 4 half-tracks and make a decent fist of it in a reasonable time, there are plenty out there who do, and who are better at it than me. The difference is that I don't want 3 or 4 vehicles, I want nearer 20(theres the armoured engineer coy too), and life's too short.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

1944 Russian game at the Whc

My SU152's get a day out at Wembley

Sorry I've not been active here (what percentage of blog posts begin with that sentence, I wonder?). Been a bit busy with Premiere stuff for the new Bond film, during which I managed to break a finger, which is not terribly condusive to typing. Although actually, seeing as it isn't either of the 2 fingers I use to type with its not really a problem. So I bring you this despite the pain.
Anyway, last weekend saw me going off to Scarboro for another try out of Gerry's WWII rules. It was a vaguely 1944 Russia scenario, as he wanted to see what a few later tanks would be like. All the games we have done previously have been 42/early 43 with mainly Panzer III's vT-34 76's so this was upping the ante to bring in T-34 85's against Panzer IV H's and Panthers.

I took up a few figures for a day out at "wembley"... A Infantry Regt for each side plus some Soviet armour and a load of pak 40's (Gerry didn't have enough!)The scenario was for Russians attacking a big town, and it was a big town, about 12 feet by 6 in the centre of the table, with plenty of room on the flanks for armoured action.
The Forces were 2 good quality but weakish Panzer divisions - (10 infantry battalions, 4 small tank battalions, plus Stugs and Marders. Up against 5 of what Gerry calls Tank corps but are way too weak in infantry, basically 15 T-34's plus a regt of infantry, should really have double the quantity of infantry, although the soviets did have quite a few extra units; a couple of RECONNAISANCE (for John)btns, 2 heavy assault gun regts, and some T-70 light tanks (not sure what they are still doing running around in 1944, but, hey). Gerry is basically a lazy bleeder and needs to get his Russians sorted out.
I ended up defending the town (thanks) with a single German infantry regt plus 5 Stugs while the others ponced about on the flanks with all the good stuff.

Whc infantry assault the first line of the city

As it turned out it was too tough for the Russkis. It was easy for them to take the first line of houses. I just sat and waited, gave them a volley when they got close and then pulled out to my second line. The problem was it was difficult to repeat this for them without getting the Su152's into the town, and I had the entrances well covered by Stugs and At guns in positions which enabled me to get flank fire. They tried a couple of armoured assaults into the larger gaps but these were repulsed.

My Grenadiers lurk in the second line of buildings

The Russians then ran out of ideas and milled about outside the town (hiding behind their own smoke screens, which sort of sums it up) when frankly the armour they had there would have been better off employed on the flanks, where they were getting mullahed by the Panthers. All in all the Russians seemed a bit timid, didn't get their act together combining artillery with their attacks (vital, in the rules) Meanwhile their infantry hid in the first line of houses. Because they made no headway on the flanks, they couldn't get anywhere in the town and vice-versa. More aggression needed. In the end, I guess my losses tell the story: None.

I had a single hit on one Stug and one of my infantry battalion commander's got mortared when he strayed into a garden for a fag and was spotted.

More Grenadiers and a whc Stug defend a town square
On the flanks the Russian got shot to bits, although it wasn't quite as one sided as it looked at the end of the game, as nearly all the German tanks were in pretty poor shape. One last push and the Russians would have got some joy (maybe the 15 T-34's that did FA around the town?)
Anyway a good weekend and a good tryout for the rules.
There was a good feel to the game, with the potential to keep and manouvre reserves, with the focus of the action shifting from different company sectors- it sort of read like a account, which is probably a good thing!