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Thursday, 25 August 2011

Assault on Tula - Crossfire Battle Report

Well it was finally time to give my Panzer Grenadiers their baptism of fire. Their order of battle is shown in the previous blog entry - the only difference was (due to the board being slightly smaller than the Hit The Dirt book specified) all the platoons were dropped down to 2 squads + PC, and three Panzer IIIs were substituted for my Stugs.
The opposition were a mixed bunch of my Soviet PSC Infantry - making their first outing too. The troop types and their positions are indicated on Map 1. below.
Map 1.
I opted to command the Russian forces whose objective was to hold on to the buildings at all cost! Si's German Forces had simply to capture them!
The Panzer Grenadiers deployed mainly to the Eastern side of the wooded area at the base of the map, whilst the Soviets were afforded hidden deployment and marked on a map.
I had planned what I hoped would be a classic defence in depth to wear the German advance down and hopefully lead to victory through attrition! (Yeh right...)
Map 2.
As shown in Map 2. the German's started with the initiative and advanced across the sunken road dealing with my first rifle platoon on the way.
German armour South of the sunken road and the remnants of the Soviet Rifle Platoon defending the wood
Map 3.
My next stalling action was the second rifle platoon hidden in woods behind the log pile. These succeeded in slowing the German advance with the PIN result, but did little in the way of damage until an attempted close assault by German forces brought an unexpected KILL result for the Soviets.
Map 4.
This was only a temporary setback for the German advance. The wood was cleared and the advance continued with only an occasional PIN result inflicted by a hidden Soviet sniper.
Having cleared the woods the Germans pursue the Soviets as they withdraw

German forces flanking right through wooded cover
Map 5.
The Germans now assaulted the first two buildings which both housed HMG teams. These had caused nothing more than PINs as the enemy advanced towards them ..... I really must practice rolling higher scores.
Map 6.
The only Soviet survivor from the house assault was a single 14.5 ATR team who legged it to the house behind. Now Si brought up the supporting armour ready for the final assault on the second line of houses.
The German Infantry consolidate in the captured houses whilst the MkIIIs manoeuvre up for the attack
Map 7.
Now it was Si's time to put in a right flanking attack and start rolling up the Soviets building by building with support from the troops now in the captured buildings and the MkIIIs.
Under cover of smoke, the assault went in.
 What the Germans weren't expecting was a three base SMG Platoon and me finally rolling a couple of decent dice. Up close the SMG fire was murderous, successfully breaking up the attack. See Map 8.
Soviet SMG squads safe in their defended ruin.
Map 8.
All this time the two 85mm AA guns I'd sited to cover the road approach and the open area to the front of the AT Ditch had seen no action other than some ineffective German mortar fire. The snipers continued to harass the German HMG platoon, but no-one else on the West of the board saw any action.
Map 9.
By this point the Germans were running out of both options and time (it was way past my bedtime). They had withdrawn to the other side of the West/East road to rally (see Green Line Map 9.). It was hard to see how the Germans were going to prise the Soviet SMG teams out of their fortresses.  So at that point we decided to call it a draw.

This had been a very enjoyable evening's wargaming. Surprisingly for a defensive/offensive game the Soviets were busier than you'd think. I never felt out of the game and drew strength from the fact that by using real life tactics (i.e. defence in depth) I was producing results even through I suffered my usual appalling dice rolls.

So now I've had a go at Infantry actions.....FIBUA (or FISH - fighting in someone's house!) and seen the deployment of some armour.

Time to get on and finish those PSC Russians so I'm not so out numbered next time........

Monday, 22 August 2011

Crossfire Preparation for Next Game

The next game planned is another scenario from the excellent "Hit the Dirt" book - Assault on Tula, on the road to Moscow.
Set in October 1941, this will pitch a 2 company battalion (supported by 3 STUG IIIGs) of the Grossdeutschland Infantry Regiment against a scratch Soviet company with support elements dug-in around the outskirts of Tula.
The Germans start from the bottom edge of the map
In preparation I've been painting like a mad thing to get my German force ready so I can give them an outing.
Elements of 1st Battalion, Grossdeutschland Infantry Regiment
The core of this army was the Forged in Battle Waffen SS infantry I'd originally intended for BKC. I simply rebased the NCO figures as PCs and split the HQ base into a CC base and a 50mm mortar base.
In my lead mountain I had the FiB 81mm Mortar and HMG sets, so I set about painting them as soon as I could to give the army some fire support.
Battalion Command Group
The BC base was simply the HQ base I'd made already for BKC with a FiB Kubelwagon and some Peter Pig figures I'd had stored away for years.

In fact to make up the battalion I repainted a further 35+ PP figures and rebased them on mdf as the second company. I had originally based and painted these for PBI some years ago - but to be honest my painting skills (and particularly my basing skills) have moved on such that I couldn't live with them any more! In front of the BC base are two FO's for the 81mm & 50mm mortars and to the left a SMG squad for protection.
The Peter Pig company is made up of 3 x 2 squad platoons with PCs. The CC has a HMG in support.
Additional HMG support - the PC is a Peter Pig figure
The FiB HMG teams are very well sculpted. The MG42 is slightly inaccurate with holes in the barrel jacket down both sides, but isn't the end of the world. The loader figures are really sculpted to feed from the right which is the wrong side. If you look on FiB's website they've assembled their painted samples incorrectly. However you can reposition him to the right quite successfully instead. The third figure in each team, is either an NCO directing fire or a figure pulling a spare barrel out of it's case - nice touch!
The Fib 81mm Mortar teams are also very well sculpted. Each team has a mortar and three crew figures to serve it.
The FiB based company has the rather animated Officer figure as their CC, a 50mm mortar team  and HMG team making up the company command group.
Strictly speaking the army list states the armour support should be Panzer III's - but as I don't have any this is the best I can do. Let's hope Si's OK with this!
FiB Infantry squads
Well that's it. They're all in the Really Useful Box ready to Rock-'n-roll - let's hope my dice rolls are a bit better than last time and I can get my head around commanding this many figures? Battle report to follow.........

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Crossfire! First Game

Well I am no longer a Crossfire virgin!

I bought these rules a couple of years ago for just £1 at a Reveille event in Bristol and whilst I tried to read them through, I found the layout difficult to follow (the pleasures of Dyslexia).
Green Hell Scenario from "Hit the Dirt"
This was frustrating because I’d seen them played at a WMMS Show some years earlier and was impressed with the fluidity of the game and really wanted to try them out.

Now thanks to Si I’ve finally tried them out and now have a fairly clear understanding of the basic infantry mechanics – just the built up area and AFV rules to go!

I’m very impressed with the game and somewhat hooked already (I even ordered the “Hit the Dirt”  Scenarios book before bed last night)…….I can see a new wave of 15mm figure basing and painting coming on.

Looking forwards to the next outing.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

PSC 15mm Panzer IV Part Two

On with the build.....
The turret goes together simply. There is a turret top and bottom, rear box, Schurzen plates and gun barrel to glue together. You then have the choice of open/closed commander's cupola and a choice of two commander half figures. One figure wears a side cap and is head and shoulders out of the hatch. The other wears an officers cap and is proud of the turret holding the two hatch halves with outstretched hands - a classic tanker pose!
The gun barrel can be drilled out with a 1.5mm bit to give a little more realism.
Now with the three sub-assemblies complete I could put the vehicle together to check the build so far.
The fit of the upper and lower hull parts looks perfect and the turret is a good tight fit.
The three sub-assemblies plus the tracks and side schurzen still on their sprues.
Next to the painting process. First everything was primed white.
The tracks were painted on the sprue - dark grey followed by sepia wash and finally dry brushed light grey. This include the short length of spare track for the front of the vehicle.
The hull parts were first sprayed desert yellow before spraying sepia wash. When all dry the parts were dry brushed a desert yellow+white mix.
Now they're all dry the final assembly can begin.
The track links have moulded guides on the inner faces to help locate them between the two halves of the Drive Sprockets and Idlers. There is a top run of track for each side which undulates between the return rollers and a straighter length to go on the road wheels. With the addition of the paint (3 coats including primer!) I've made fitting these a bit more difficult for myself. At first it didn't look like they'd actually meet! However, with a little care they soon fitted correctly but needed clamps to hold them in place while the glue went off! See Above.
Once the track links were fitted the upper hull can be glued to the lower and the Schurzen plates attached. The plates are cleverly grooved to allow them to be glued to the edge of the mudguards. This means that they are quite strongly attached and not just dependent on the four brackets! These incidentally, glue to the top of the hull.

The camouflage pattern I chose is just lightly sprayed panzer green random lines. More than ample on such a boxy vehicle. You can just see the spare track links on the front. I had to trim them slightly to get them to fit between the tow brackets, but this is more likely the three coats of paint than it being moulded too big!
The vehicle was based on mdf from Warbases with a coating of PVA and sand. The commander painted dark grey and washed black to simulate his black uniform.

The decals came from a Dragon 1/144 kit but look fine I think. The turret hole in the hull top was enlarged to make the turret turn freely. I had to do this because when it was a tighter fit, every time I turned the turret I broke the Schurzen brackets off the turret roof.
The exhaust was painted in Vallejo Smoke glaze which simulates rust beautifully.
The base was finished with the usual coat of dark earth followed by dry-brushed buff. Two coats of varnish are sprayed on to protect when handling and finally some static grass glued on with PVA.
PSC on the left : Battlefront on the right
I don't usually do the comparison thing (mainly because I don't have the vehicles to compare!) but this time you're in luck. The next few pics show the PSC Panzer IV alongside an old Panzer IV from Battlefront.
Battlefront on the left : PSC on the right
Without reaching for my steel rule, they look to be a good match and would easily sit well alongside one another on the table.
Battlefront on the left : PSC on the right
Battlefront on the left : PSC on the right
And there you are, all finished.

In Conclusion:
  • Great value for money at £3.30 a piece (or less if you shop around)
  • Well designed kit with good fit of parts
  • Flexible kit with good choice of options
  • If I had to be picky I'd have to cite the instructions which could do with a bit more detail
  • And I guess for those who really must have accurate details it's a shame the Aus H one piece Turret hatch wasn't spotted (Though if you fill the groove in the closed turret enclosed with the kit, this will do as a substitute)
The con's are just being picky to be honest. All in all another winner from PSC. Roll on the Sdkfz 251 aus D's...........

PSC 15mm Panzer IV Part One

Well I thought it about time I added something to the Blog. Just don't seem to have found time with this and that going on, real life etc etc. Anyway, I've been slowly but surely putting together a PSC 15mm Panzer IV with a view to reviewing it.......so here we go.
The packaging states that the model can be made up as a variety of different marks of the tank. This makes perfect sense when you think this is what the Germans were doing with the real thing throughout WW2.
It is stated that the kit makes up the Mk.F1, F2, G & H models of Panzer IV. I see on a number of Blogs there has already been some debate on this....so I don't plan to add to this other than to give a quick overview on what I know to be the differences between these marks of tank.
  • Difference between F1 and F2 - simply the new long barrelled 75mm gun instead of the old shorter one!
  • Difference between F2 & G - Vision ports eliminated from turret, new muzzle brake, means of swapping coolant between vehicles, possible smoke dischargers on turret and addition of Schurzen plates.
  • Difference between G & H - new external air filters and single piece commander's hatch.
This last fact is where the "Rivet Counters" have homed in on the PSC model as it only includes split hatches (open and closed). To be honest if that's all that's "wrong" who cares? I bet if you trawl through the archives at Bovington long enough you'll find a picture of an early Mk.H with a split hatch!
Once again, there's a single sheet set of instructions included - which I have to say are barely adequate without additional reference material. I guess it's all part of the "Simple to Assembe Wargame Vehicle" thing - i.e. make the instructions look as simple as possible so you don't put them off? But personally I'd have liked to see a bit more detail.
All the parts for each AFV are moulded on a single sprue in light green polystyrene. Detail is very good though there is a little flash on some of the finer parts.

There are five sprues plus one instruction sheet in each box.
The main areas of flash are the supports for the turret and hull Schurzen plates. Nothing that cannot be easily tackled with a sharp craft knife.

One thing with a simple exploded diagram as an assembly instruction is that you can choose your own building order. I decided I'd try and assembly the vehicle in three sub-assemblies to ease painting.
  1. Lower hull and running gear
  2. Upper hull
  3. Turret
I'd plan to paint the Hull Schurzen and tracks separately and then assembly everything before camouflaging at the end.

The lower hull comes complete and just needs the pre-moulded running gear gluing on each side. There are separate Rear Idler and Drive Sprocket outer wheels to be added. These glue in shaped holes so you cannot have them the wrong way round. The outer edge of the Drive Sprocket lacks teeth ready to accept the tracks. See Below.
Above are the upper hull parts separated from the sprue.
Now this is where the lack of detail on the instructions starts to bite..... What is the piece left over in the photo above?
Well it's the MkH's external air filters! and they go here. See above.

There are a number of extras you can add to individualise your model if you wish. These include two spare road wheels in a bracket (to fix on left hull side), two loose spare wheels (rear deck if you like ?), a tool box and two Jerry cans - the last three items should be positioned with care or you won't fit the Schurzen plates. Best added at the very end.

It's time for a break now.....Part Two to follow.