Category: WWII

Biggles in the Desert

If there wasn’t a Biggles book titled this, there certainly should have been.

Over the Desert Rats, 1940 style

Over the Desert Rats, 1940 style. Lyslanders and escort

I painted up some 1/285 aircraft for Check Your 6, and it took an unconscionable length of time. Some are Raiden, some Heroics and Ross, I think. Its been so long since I bought them, I’m not sure.

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A flight of Gladiators

And then the matte sealer went all funny on me, causing much heartache. I managed to pull the worst of the damage back, though.

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6 Gladiators and 2 Lyslanders, probably 7 more aircraft than a rational person needs

I also spent a while browsing websites to try and find the right colors. Then I gave up, because in this scale, who is to know?

Now to find some Italians.

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Somewhere over the Mediterranean

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Short Sunderland with two flights of Fulmars as escort. It might be safer on it’s own

It took me much longer than it should to paint these, but I finally finished. Something terrible going on with my dullcote though (probably because it is an antique at this stage). In any case, some 1/285 aircraft for Check your 6 (CY6).

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One of the flights of Fulmars. Apparently the yellow tails were for recognition. Like there were all that many two seat fighters floating around the Mediterranean

Embarrassingly I don’t have a very good idea where these came from. The Fulmars are for a Friend, the Sunderland is because.. I dunno. it’s big? I’m pretty sure that some of the Fulmars are Raiden. Others are not; there is pretty clearly two manufacturers here.

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Orange and red on the front of the wings too. More ‘recognition’. I think the FAA ran out of paint.

For the Sunderland, I’ve had it a while, and no idea where it came from.

In any case, looking forward to dome desert-y action eventually.

Avanti Savoia or whatever

The local crowd, or some of them, at least, have become enamored of the Chain of Command rules from Two Fat Lardies. I will refrain from any comment about out physiognomy matching that of the rules authors (mostly because I am a major offender myself) and say that I do enjoy the rules, with some reservations about the amount of luck that can occur in one game. Having said that, I must admit that all the games I have participated in, or even watched, have been a bunch of fun.
So coming late to the game (ha, beware weak pun) and lagging much behind such skilled painters as this guy (I do love his stuff, no idea how he turns out so much in such a high quality) I decided to paint some Italians, on the grounds that no-one had any, and I could avoid invidious comparisons.
And the PDF with the army list was free online……

The first squad. Endless chaps with rifles, and 2 LMGs

The first squad. Endless chaps with rifles, and 2 LMGs

So, off I went, trying to build up a reasonable force, without the traditional wargamer “overbuy”, of which I am usually terribly culpable.
So I got 2 full squads, at squad having a rifle team and 2 LMG teams,

The other squad. Notice that the Italians have carefully applied bullseyes to their hats

The other squad. Notice that the Italians have carefully applied bullseyes to their hats

a scout squad of 12 guys and an NCO, 47mm and 20mm Antitank guns, a 65mm I dunno what sort of gun, it looks like it should have been on the Northwest Frontier or whatever the Italian equivalent is, an mug and 2 small mortars.
Yeah, I didn’t overbuy….  at least did not have many figures left over.

The support. Scouts squad, some mortars, MMG, and light ATG.

The support. Scouts squad, some mortars, MMG, and light ATG.

The figures are a core of the Perry ones, with some Artizan ones mixed in. The mortars and the 20mm atg came from Warlord games (to be honest, my least favorite figures of the bunch). The 47mm is a Perry piece but some of the gun crew are Battle Honors and some Askari Miniatures, who supplied all the Libyan type chaps in skullcaps, used for artillery fill ins and the scout squad. The 65mm gun took some getting, finally turning up as a Battle Honors model, which came also with the guys in helmets, which I ended up rather liking.

The artillery, such as it is.

The artillery, such as it is.

One of the advantages of sourcing figures from all over the place was that it gave the bunch a kind of “assorted” look. anything I read on the Italian army in North Africa indicated that the equipment was very mixed; people standing around in pictures with different type of webbing equipment, with different rifles, with grey-green stuff mixed in with the desert yellow. I tried to make them look like the photos, a bit. Added to this was the idea that the officers wandered around in paler coats, bleached by the sun, making them that much easier to distinguish from the regular troopers. I cannot think that this was a good idea, but what do I know…..

Some tanks were purchased also, being the subject of a later (much later, knowing me) post.

A little discouraged

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The above is my Goum army at LW nationals in Chicago this year. Why this? Read on.
Ages since I did anything here. I must admit I have not been enthusiastically gaming for a while, and that the horror of real live events has overtaken me again. I do still play some though, so this week’s kerfuffle over at Battlefront did provoke a certain interest.
For those of you who are not Flame of war junkies, the issue is this: Battlefront (the people who issues the rules) put out a schedule of tournament events for next year, indicating that participation in Battlefront events would be limited to armies made up of Battlefront product. Rather like the whole Games Workshop/Warhammer/Warhammer 40K thing. This caused some consternation among the assembled gamers on the forum. You know the sort of thing, running around with their hair on fire, threats to sue, the usual reaction of people on the internet to something they do not like. Or, indeed, of Gamers to something they do not like. Possibly the combination of Gamers on the Internet is one leading to massive instability and should be banned, something someone with more statistics, time and interest than me would have to research.
In any case, it did seem that I should take a serious look, as I am someone who really only plays Flames of war as a tournament activity. Even the games I play at home are usually in preparation for some tournament, so if this ruling from Battlefront comes to fruition, I would certainly be effected.
Let me first say that I understand their motivation here; they do spend money on promoting these events, so I am sure they would prefer their product to be used. Having said that, as a tournament participant (note that this applies to Battlefront run tournaments; the majority of them are not Battlefront run, but I would expect some form of knock on) I would certainly be less likely to trundle along than I am now. On short analysis I have 12 Flames of war armies available. There may be
more, I do have quite a lot of stuff. I would be able to play precisely none of these if a “Battlefront only” miniatures rule was applied. If some level of exception were made, say 95%, I could play two.
In case you are wondering, upon survey, I would say my stuff is about 50% Battlefront or more. I have some armies where virtually none is Battlefront, and some where the majority is. A matter of price, in some cases, choice in others, and availability in some. I am probably not that huge a purchaser at the moment, but the doubt about being able to use the stuff would certainly stop me in my tracks. I will note that I do not regard myself as being a great player, but that I have qualified for the Nationals in the USA for the past 3 or 4 years. In which, if this ruling applied, I would be unable to participate. More than a little offputting for me.
Clearly the motivation for this is the GW ruling of the same nature. I would point out, however, that 15mm WWII stuff was certainly around before Flames of War started, and certainly has been available longer. With the rather high price-point of Battlefront products I am not sure the level of participation I had in the Flames of war tournament scene would be supportable (I am going to leave discussion of size, accuracy, sculpting and quality aside as they do seem to be very subjective). I would link to to the discussion on the website, but one has to be a member, and I assume that the BF forum members are already aware of the vitriol that is flowing.
It does seem that there is going to be some form of revision of the rule, and I am looking forward to the apocalyptic storm that causes.

Off we go to Cold Wars (part one)

In desperate need of some vacation, and deciding that we would take a shot at the Flames of War doubles competition, even though we were sadly out of practice, my friend Mark and I decided to take a trip out to the Cold Wars convention in Lancaster PA. Quite a hike for us Midwesterners but we had done it often enough before, so we had no particular reservations. And indeed the travel and the meals in Lancaster were very pleasant; the gaming was good fun also.
Deciding that two days of FoW tourney madness would be to much for our aged psyches, we decided to play the I95 doubles on Friday, and to indulge ourselves in in the Fields of Glory Renaissance games in 25mm on Saturday. Too much of a good thing is still too much, we felt.
Neither of us are particularly gifted list builders; we decided to build a Soviet list, with Mark running a bunch of lend-lease Sherman’s, and me running something else. The lists were limited to the Red Bear/Grey wolf combination, at least limiting the opposition ‘s options somewhat. Not enough, as it turned out, it we shall get to that.
The prototype list pair was Lend lease Shermans and a light self propelled gun company, but it did not work well in concert so it was promptly abandoned. The assault guns did not add anything to the whole. It was clear that some infantry was needed. Actual though showed that mobs of panzerfaust armed infantry was going to pose a large problem for the tanks, given that an assault would fail if two tanks were bailed. So we decided some mob of infantry needed to go with the Shermans. As Mark had glommed (not sure that is a word) 1200 points, it just left me with 800.
Looking at lists, there was a number of choices. Strelkovy, Motoostrelkovy, Rota and the rest. In my ignorance I could not make the Strelk or Moto strelk points work out; the Rota did not seem to add the infantry we needed (and we would have had to paint the rides) so we ended up with Stalin’s happy Penal battalion. This choice was also informed by the zinc bust of Comrade Lenin we were bringing with us. Mark’s list were always attack anyway, so that was not an issue. So the final list looked something like :
Immochiky Tank batalion
Battalion Co Sherman 75 Nevski
Company 1 7 x Sherman 76 & Loza
Company 2 5 x Sherman 75
Company 3 3 x BA64
Stalin’s happy Penal battalion Shraf battalion
Battalion HQ 2 SMG Kommisar, 2 x 45mm
Company 1 23 psychotic SMG guys, and Pyl’cyn
Company 2 7 equally psychotic SMG guys
Company 3 6 x 81mm mortars
The idea was to infiltrate the 76mm shermans, and my guys would trot across the board to whatever it was that needed to be assaulted. As ever with us, we didn’t seem to get to play a game before we went; this, for me at least was a problem as I underestimated quite how resilient a bunch of guys who pass morale on a “2” with a komissar was. I was too cautious in the first game, hiding behind things when I should have been charging across the board for mother Russia.
The scenario was Domination, one of our favourites. However, the board did not favour us at all, leaving Mark’s bunch of shermans with nowhere to hide in the face of 6 panthers. Sight lines were 30 inches long, and he did well to dispose of a platoon of 3 panthers before his armoured force became one with the socialist dialectic.
Me, on the left of the board, confronted with German Paznergrenadiers backed by their machine gunning halftracks failed even to hit an enemy element in the course of the game. How cheery. We ended up with a disappointing 2-5. Given the bareness of the terrain there was some muttering about “infantry friendly”, however our opponents were charming, and we enjoyed their company.
The second game was, I think “Hold the Line”. played longways on a village table. While at least here there was more terrain, there were still long sightlines, which once more caused Mark trouble with the oppositions obligatory Panthers (CV this time, as opposed to the Wiking ones). We were playing some form of a Hungarian infantry/ german armour combination, which was well managed by our amusing opponents.
I did manage to drive the shraf platoon into the enemy in this one, while Mark was playing ring-around-the village with the panthers.

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The Shraf boys storm across a village street, supported by Shermans (3rd game)

If they target platoon had not managed to score 10 hits on 10 dice on the onrushing horde, I think we would have had them, as it was we suffered a 1-6; but it was closer than the score indicates, being a bit of a nail biter.
I did learn that hiding in the village houses when there was a battery of 149mm howitzers in the open area nearby was a bad idea, though….
In the third game we played the new (to us, anyhow) “Dust up” scenario, which is posited as a replacement for Encounter, which was always a nightmare for infantry. I found this one much better for the leg guys; The placement of the original objectives in diagonally opposite quarters mean that it is much more feasible for infantry to get to an objective. The issue that the reinforcements come on in the “No-mans-land” quarters make protecting your flanks a must.
We played another great german armour/hungarian infantry combination, with the the Hungarians being Confident Trained, rather than Veteran as they were in the second game. This did mean that there was a LOT of them though, and their rather large amount of towed AT guns, along with more open areas around the village once more mean that Mark’s shermans were pinned in our deployment quarter, or behind the village. They 76s settled down behind some hills to wait for the arriving german stugs, and the 75mm shermans supported the Shraf as they ran through the village and assaulted the Hungarians out of it. Things were looking fairly good as my reinforcements worked away at his AT guns on the other side of the village. And then the stugs turned up.
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Sherman 76s wait for their Stuggy nemesis (3rd game)


With 7 sherman 76s Mark seemed well set for 7 stugs. It was not to be though, as a couple of disastrous turns of shooting found him struggling to hold our objective with a bunch of burning 76s for no visible losses in the stugs. He had to recall the 75mm shermans to stave off disaster, leaving the weakened shraf (4 assaults later) unable to make progress, in the face of, of all things, 3 police manned hungarian FIAT tankettes which had turned up as re-inforcements. We had a winning draw, when time was called, 3-1. Given the presence of another 149mm artillery battery, I managed to avoid entering any of the buildings this time. Good game though.
Very pleased the the caliber and nature of out opponents, less pleased with our list making skills, and a little down-heartened by our terrain struggles sums up the day, all in all.
We girded our loins for the FoGR stuff the next day by heading off to eat chinese food, and being amazed by the Pa. liquor laws…
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The TO was rather taken with the Lenin bust

Bad Russian Armour

It has been.. god knows how long since my last post. And revealing the remnants of catholic upbringing there, and I thought I had forgotten it all long ago.
For some reason I acquired a large quantity of ineffective Russian armour. Not because it was a bargain (all battlefront models, anything but); and I certainly have no idea at this stage what I will use it for.

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Look, antique pieces of junk

First we have 9 BA10 armoured cars. Yes, I said 9. What I wanted to do with them I cannot remember, but I must admit I am pleased how much better they got under Version 3 of the rules. Or at least I am told they got better, I have not convinced myself to read through the rulebook yet, but I have been told that wheeled stuff moves better and that Recce stuff no longer has to run away. All good for these guys, I suppose. I expect they can fit into a russian mid war armour list somehow. I seem to recall also that if i get creative they can be used as APCs for some Soviet infantry lists, so there is two things.
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Good Grief, why?

While I can imagine some use for the first lot, these second lot (5 x T26) have no conceivable use. there is really nothing good to say about these, save that they look ok. Anyone with any ideas what to do with them, please leave me a message. They can form a platoon in the legendary mixed Tankovy list, but I am fairly sure one would be better off with T60s. Or frankly boy scouts with balloons on a stick on bikes.
Off to Cold Wars next week. It appears that I am playing FoW and FoGR. Chances of me keeping the rules straight or winning any games is limited, but looking forward to it anyhow.
I’ll try and write something up about it when we get back.

Lions and Tigers and Shermans, oh my

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Oh gosh, there is a lot of them

Despite appearances, I do actually play a game every so often. So when Mark decided he needed to try out his latest Late War Flames of War army, a horde of Russian Sherman 76mm tanks, I volunteered my services.
Then he told me I had to play something Axis, with panthers.
I do not own any Axis armies.
I do not usually play veteran troops (this may be why I do not usually win games). The only tank forces I am accustomed to playing are hordes of valiant communists who die in droves. I did not regard this as good practice for playing some form of Axis finesse army.
And, more or less, I was right.
Looking for something that fit his criteria, I came up with hungarian tanks from the same book he was taking his guys from. I ended up with :-

HQ- Hungarian hero guy (ain’t even trying to pronounce his name) in a Tiger
Plt 1 – 2 Tiger I
Plt 2 – 3 Panthers
Plt 3 – 2 Panthers
Plt 4 – 4 of some sort of hungarian recce tank, apparently armed with a ballon on a stick

It is possible that if I had actually owned the lead, I might have looked at the 12 vehicles (4 of them clown cars) and wondered if a better list might be constructed. On the other hand, I might not have noticed the possible issues. The problem was brought home to me when Mark showed up with my entire army in a tiny cardboard box and his requiring a tool box, and possibly a porter that he paid off at the front door.
Oh well.

Marks list was..

HQ – Sherman 76
Co 1 – About 275 Sherman 76s, led by some sort of proletarian superman
Co 2 – Only 150 Sherman 76s
Co 3 – 4 Su-100
Co 4 – 3 BA64

Honestly, I think the platoons were 8 and 6 Shermans respectively, but I am not terribly sure, There was certainly a lot of them.

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HOW many tanks is that?


In the interest of playing something new, and noticing that “Dust up” was starting to show its face in tournaments, replacing “Encounter” and “Free for all” we decided to give it a go. And I must admit it was a pleasant change of pace.
It did mean that I started with 6 tanks on the board. Mark had 13.

I shall be honest. I did not have a clue what I was doing. I put my tigers where they could shoot; I relied on the hero guy making his stormtrooper roll.
Of course, he did not; having missed everything in my turn, the return fire killed my hero guy, and the enemy tanks closed in on my objective (and few tanks).
After the second turn, we called it, because I was going to lose. Completely due to my inability to run my army; always a reassuring feeling.

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Urp. We're done here

Reinforcements had turned up, in the form of Dan, Allan, and Ed, so we went again. I decided to let Dan run my guys, as he runs german Panzers all the time, and we started a game of “Encounter”, something that at least I was comfortable with the dynamics of.
We started with the two panther platoons on this time, a better choice with all the AT12 guns facing us, the three vehicle one on our leftmost objective, and the two vehicle one on the rightmost objective.

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Initial deployment

The Soviet opposition placed 4 SU-100 on our right, and 8 or 9 Sherman 76 on our left.
The game developed slowly, with the Shermans moving into a central position, being ineffectually sniped at by the 3 tank Panther platoon which was shuffling back and forth behind the housed of the central village.
On our right I pushed the two panthers toward the SU-100s, who were minding an objective behind a wood. My thought was that maybe I could use the reduced visibility of the wood to isolate one SU, and force the others to move to return fire, making myself hard to hit.
This plan was carried out. I managed to bail a SU (Yeah, fearless, that was gonna work) and then the Russian hero thundered over, unaffected by Hen and Chicks (old version) and got a side shot on a platoon commander, as well as a frontal shot from the SUs. of course he died, followed promptly by the other tank in the platoon.

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I guess not doing that would be a better plan

Due to my brainwave, we were now more or less stumped. the tiger platoon came on, taking up position around out right objective, dissuading the SU100s from anything dramatic. Marks second platoon of Shermans came on, on his right, but fire from the panthers in the village and bad bogging rolls reduced them to one tank, making it difficult for them to do anything. I pushed the recce tanks up the stream to Marks left objective, but there was a stay behind sherman which prevented us from achieving anything much.

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Canoeing in tanks

With the game basically bogged down, as it looked as if whichever side moved from cover was going to be destroyed, and 2.5 hours elapsed, we called it as a 1-2 losing draw.
I must say the Russian Sherman 76 was impressive, just hard to deal with all those reasonably powerful tanks. I wonder how it will fare in the upcoming book?