Thursday, 27 June 2013

A "hand delivered" Parcel of Ancients

I didn't "go to the show" (Sheffield Triples) but I did manage to get some toys courtesy of a 'personal courier' who was attending the event for the Impetus games, so ...

In preparation for the forth coming staging of Peloponnesian War battle [418 BC] 'The First Battle of Mantinea' (scheduled for this autumn [2013]- where the Athenians have a last chance to pick up a long sought after victory, 2-0 against them in the 'Greek' campaign) I have acquired some more Irregular Miniatures 15mm hoplites - 32 figures all told. As well as being needed to flesh out the hoplite count for Mantinea it also nicely finishes of a DBA/DBM/FoD/Impetus 'Greek hoplite army' contingent (well the metal is amassed it is only a matter of painting and basing them now, see below):

Plenty of filing of "flash2 to be done here! In addition to these lead warriors my long running Circus Maximus project (to add miniature figures to the classic Avalon game) got a surge of six extra chariot combinations [running/wrecked]. Here stand another six 'running' chariots next to the original fifteen year old painted Ben Hurr lookalike (see below): 

Naturally those six magnificent chariots and charioteers plus their steeds (the most important, nay intelligent, part of the team IMHO) could be reduced to mere Colosseum 'churn' (see below, again alongside a fifteen year old seventh "wreck" counter)

These "ancients" are rather a stark contrast to my current WWII 20mm projects, but it always good to have a "Plan B" to keep things ticking over.

Note: Seeing that this is !post number 617" to this blog I have to make some passing reference to 617 Squadron "The Dambusters" especially since it is the '70th Anniversary' of the raid. Lest we forget!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Fathers Day Book Present: D-Day "Then and Now" (Vol.1)

One of the great things about this strange old hobby is that one thing leads to another in a leteral fashion. It's more of a network than a linear path. So the CrossFire game leads to a Pegasus Bridge scenario which leads me to go back pick up and read an old Ambrose book of the same name that had been lurking on my shelves for what seems to have been a decade (literally). Which makes for an enjoyable read (see below).

My one comment is that it seems to be of great insight from an Allied perspective but is more of a 'best guess/speculative" on the German OoB, heavily influenced methinks by Von Luck's memoirs IMHO (coincidently another book I have on my shelf but unusually already across in the "read section" and I returned to read the D-Day section again).

So the connection back to Father's Day in the title came from is a self-requested present "along the D-Day theme" that got readily agreed by the 'household commissariat' as my perfect Father's Day "hobby" gift which distracted me while the kids ate all my chocolate Celebrations (I kid you not).


Seeing as I already have the D-Day part 2 book, I can now boast have the complete set ready for more CrossFire scenario redaction :)

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Note to Self: Blogger Posting Settings

I recently experimented with "Blog Comments" settings.

I made two changes:
  • The first was allowing "anon" users to post
  • The second was to drop word verification off the postings
The former was a disaster as "Spam Gate" ensued, thankfully they came to my email account first for approval still so I could spot them and mark them as 'spam'. The second does not seem to have caused any issues yet. Comments from fellow bloggers experienced appreciated as it is nice to try and improve the user experience.

It just seems so much of a pity that there is so much mindless spam on the Internet :(

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

"69th Anniversary of D-Day": CrossFire Game (Pegasus Bridge Scenario) : Part II

The "Bitter-Sweet" Action at the crossroads: 

The German infantry company pushes towards the British Paratrooper held crossroads with renewed vigour. British reactive fire stops them in their tracks and the initiative passes. The British defensive fire is telling.

Soon the battlefield is in a state of utter and complete chaos: 
  • There is a pinned Germans Squad and Platoon Leader out in the Street (from the German "Orange" Platoon)
  • There are pinned German Squads on "their" baseline (the German "Yellow" Platoon, see below and the "hand of god")
  • But there are attacking Germans Squads intent on storming a house containing a squad from British Para "Orange" Platoon (the attackers being from the German "Blue" Platoon)
  • Meanwhile the supporting German MG Platoon and Company Commander are intent on establishing a "fire base" tosuppress British Para "Orange" Platoon (consisting of Two British Para Squads and their Platoon Commander the other side of the crossroads) 
The vicious hand-to-hand fighting is shown below:

A "desperate" close combat dice roll is called for, argh the tension (this is what I like and hate about CrossFire) as it is seat of the pants stuff.  

The British Paras 'win' the house-to-house combat (their Veteran Status helped - in "real life" the Paras had trained, courtesy of Major Howard's foresight and planning, in bombed out areas of the UK> As a result on D-Day they were far "too tough" for the standard of German infantry they met that day [fortress troops]). In CrossFire close combat it is "winner take all" so effectively scratch another German Platoon from the orbat (German "Blue" Platoon goes down).

On the German next initiative their "Yellow" Platoon successfully rallies and German Armour appears. This is the British Paratroopers worst nightmare, an AFV, albeit a Marder I (not the Pz IV as per Ambrose's account) but it is still armour. The German "Yellow" Platoon now attacks the "Orange" Para squad "again"!The house-to-house fighting goes to the Germans this time and the first British Unit is eliminated. A concerned look from Major Howard as a "house" falls into enemy hands (see below [middle right], note it needs three more lost in CrossFire before the British reinforcements get triggered).

Major Howard does certainly not like the look of this development. The Germans have the potential infiltrate straight to the river and endanger the 'hard won' bridgehead. He chooses to send two squads and a platoon leader from his "counter-attack" force [Blue Platoon] to take back the house before the Germans can establish devastating fire lanes

The "Blue" Paratroopers show their zeal and élan and storm the building, wiping out the German "Yellow" Platoon. The German infantry are now just a few 'leftover stragglers' from the infantry platoons and the as yet deploying MG & Company HQ Platoons. However the Marder I is "an issue" as it is slap bang outside the newly won back house and about to train its dirty great big main armament on it (like shooting fish in a barrel). The Paratroopers have no PIAT either so ranged fire is out of the question, so desperate times demand desperate measures and the "Blue Para" Platoon Leader takes one squad to close assault the "Beast" (see beklow).

But ... the German AFV MG and main armament evaporate the attack before it even starts. Major Howard back at his command post hears the devastating "crump" of the 755mm cannon and surmises the worst.

The German MG "fire base" starts taking its toll (pinning) on the British Para Orange squad at the crossroads. The British position again looks tenuous as more German reinforcements are expected at any moment. When the initiative passes back to the Paras Major Howard takes personal command of the remaining "Blue Squad" and counter attacks leading from the front. The attack is devastating (I seem to be using that word a lot).

This time the British Para squads takes out the Marder I and the 'dribs and drabs' of the three German infantry platoons that were scattered, pinned and leaderless near the "close combat house of death" (see below). Major Howard also spots the opportunity to use a blind spot and take out one of the two MG's before it can seal off the road crossing As an "added bonus" the close combat takes out the German Company commander too. That leaves only an MG and the Mortar spotter (yet to come on table) "left in play" for the Germans.  

The British right flank is deemed safe but the Germans appear with new troops on the far left of the table. It turns out to be another German Infantry Company (this time 'Green', as in poorly trained) but without its heavy weapons (sigh of relief from Major Howard). In the ensuing fire-fight one of the three German Platoon is pinned and suppressed in the open. The two other German platoons are hunkering far back in ruined buildings. At this point it is deemed that the remaining German infantry lack the "umpf" and "willpower" to be able to make an impression on the bridgehead.

Historical Footnote(s):

As the first British Paratrooper reinforcements from 7th Paratrooper Battalion troop across the bridge, Lt Richard Todd makes an appearance (yes the later world famous actor was a D-Day British Paratrooper). In the classic film "The Longest Day" he plays the role of Major Howard, but interestingly there is one scene in the film where he finds himself (as Major Howard) talking to a junior British officer who (as he remembered it) would have been himself (then as Lt Todd of the 7th Para Battalion) linking up with the Ox and Bucks as they pushed on through Benouville to 'expand the bridgehead'. It would be several long hours later (at about 13:00'ish) before the bagpipes of Lord Lovat's Royal Marine Commandos were heard advancing with friendly Churchill armour in support (a sight for very, very sore British eyes).   

Saturday, 15 June 2013

"69th Anniversary of D-Day": CrossFire Game (Pegasus Bridge Scenario) : Part I

On the night of the 6th June 2013 along with some other friends I played a D-Day scenario based on the remarkable historical events of the Pegasus Bridge "coup de main" operation exactly sixty nine years ago. The historical battle started "just to say" past midnight and in the very, very early hours of D-Day the 6th June 1944. Spearhead elements of the invasion were already in contact with the enemy (pathfinders and specialist teams) but this was the first 'full' Allied company (as per its order of battle) engaged in action with the enemy on D-Day. Their mission was to take two bridges, one across the Orne River (Ranville River Bridge) and the other across Canal de Caen (then Benouville, now Pegasus, Bridge) and "hold until relieved" by the leading seaborne forces, specifically Lord Lovat's Royal Marine Commandos from Sword Beach. The whole of the 6th Airborne Division would be landing to their rear (east of the rivers), the trouble was expected from the west. Why was this so important? Well these bridges were "route 1" for the 21st Panzer Division to the invasion beaches and "IT" (21st PZ Div) was the biggest threat to the left flank of the whole invasion.


Five British glider platoons from the 6th Airborne have landed after a spectacular feat of flying (carrying the 1st Company [reinforced from the usual four platoon to six for this operation] Ox and Bucks air landing infantry) under the command of Major John Howard (the sixth glider landed elsewhere and did not take part in the battle). The paratroopers (or rather air landing infantry, but they are equipped the same) have already taken the two bridges driving off the German bridge garrison and are now preparing themselves for the inevitable German 'counter-attack. Four British "Para" platoons are on the western 'bridge-head' table with the fifth platoon guarding the Ranville River Bridge until relieved by troops from the 6th Airborne (so it will eventually be available as a reinforcement).

The Orne river is at the bottom of the table (and is the British baseline) and the Para defensive line runs behind the mid-table line running right to left (see below):   

As "John Howard" (no pressure then!) I deployed three platoons forward, holding one back in reserve (but in play) at the buildings covering the bridge entrance (see above, one of which is probably the Gondree cafe). On the downside I have NO ranged anti-tank capability. That means the only way I can take an AFV out is by a rather risky close assault with a Gammon bomb!

The set-up situation is viewed looking down the front line of the road (Note: No Germans are 'as yet' on table), see below: 

One platoon covers each crossroads and the third front-line platoon covers the slanted road at the top of the picture (see above).

The Company HQ is set up in the Gondree Cafe supported by the reserve platoon. This is my "Alamo" position and my only 'immediate' counter attack force until the fifth platoon is released (see below, note all the kit is 15mm): 

The British Paratroopers didn't have long to wait for the Germans to arrive from a rather unexpected direction, the right had side of the road, "boldly" marching down the road! (see below).

The Red Devils ambushed the column, taking out three whole squads and trapping the platoon leader in a very "tight place" in the middle of the road (devastating CrossFire "ambush" fire). A spectacular start for the British but the bad news was that the Germans now knew where the Paratroopers were and the rest of the German Infantry Company could deploy out of their march formation.

The next German initiative was bound to bring more fresh troops and possibly armour on table (the umpire specifically stated at this point the distinctive "clank of tracks" could be heard, as we were not expecting Allied armour for another eleven hours we knew 'whose' armour this would be)!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

More 1/76 British Commandos (Matchbox re-issued by Revell)

My recent interest in the fate of the Airfix commandos was kindled by the acquisition of the old Matchbox (now Revell) 1/76 kit (see below):

These were figures I "never had" as a child". They notably come with a "surprised German sentry", something I previously thought was pure folklore.

The "collector" in me now naturally wants the Caesar and Italeri/Esci British Commando figures too!

Footnote: My eyes are also glued for the other Revell/Matchbox packs from WW2:
  • British Infantry
  • German Infantry
  • American Infantry
  • Anzac Infantry
  • Japanese Infantry
  • 8th Army
Not sure they did a DAK too? (Although for "balance" you thought they would!)

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The REAL Airfix 1/76 Commando set!

Well I will be d****d .... another mystery of "why" from Airfix. It's a bit like reading too much of the storyline behind the Dr Who episodes it just 'churns' the mind too much.

They DID take the big figures down to the 1/72 .. 1/76 .. HO/OO scale (see link below)

The glorious second edition figures!
But they are so "hard" to get and why use the inferior first edition figures?
What happened to them?
It does not make any sense to me at all!

Please can someone tell me the story?
Added notes:

PS: Honour the Miniature Zone for this masterclass in painting: