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Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Scottish Corridor - Crossfire Battle Report

I needed an opportunity to try out my new FiB Brits so we decided to game the Scottish Corridor - Grava, France scenario from 'Hit the Dirt'. The actual scenario calls for a 4 x 4' table, but as we only had 3 x 3' available to us, we opted to fight out the top left section of the battlefield with reduced orders of battle.
The battlefield looking West to East
The scenario is set on 27th June 1944 during Operation Epsom and sees a Company of the 2nd Argyle Highlanders defending against a  counter-attack from the 10th SS Panzer Division.

The British forces consisted of 2 Platoons + HMG, 3 snipers, 3" Mortar battery & 6 Pounder in support. Their objective was to hold on to the three orchards (Marked with a 'C') until nightfall - 4 hours - using the HtD variable clock mechanism.
The Germans had 3 platoons, HMGs & Mortars as well as a Panther and two Panzer IV's in support. They simply had to capture the orchards before 7pm.
The German infantry deployed across the start line and advanced forwards. A sniper in the first building they came to, caused a suppression, but failed to significantly slow them down.
Soon their armour appeared. The Panther going straight up the axis of advance, the Panzers going right flanking.

Initial German deployment in sunken lane top right.
The Brits engaged the German infantry with the four squads and the HMG, leaving their two pronged attack pinned in the centre woods and the crops to the British front.
The Germans now relied on their armour to flush out the British resistance.
The 6 Pounder getting ready to hit the first AFV to appear
The Panther exposed it's right flank to the 6 Pounder and received a pin for it's trouble.

The Panzer IV's were more canny and remained out of line of sight.
Using the cover of the crops, the Panzers wait their chance to assault the 6 Pounder.
The weight of the German assault on the right caused the British to fall back, not before they lost their 6 Pounder. At the same time the German left flank attack on the orchards, commenced.
6 Pounder falls to the Panzer IV's
Uncertain of their level of cover, the Brits withdrew to the second orchard. The squads on the British left continued to keep the German infantry at bay, but it would only be a matter of time before they were over-run by the armour as they had no anti-tank weapons.
British Platoon awaits the attack on their orchard
The Brits were pushed back, taking refuge in and around the church.
Pinned down, the covering squad eventually rallied and escaped to the church
Withdrawing under covering fire towards the church.
Now at this point, the British still had their force intact - less the 6 Pounder- however they no longer held any of the orchards. With no anti-armour capability it was unlikely they would be able to retake the orchards by force and would most likely have continued their fighting withdrawal, so it was decided that the game was over - a victory to the German forces.

In 1944, Maj McElwie and his force of Highlanders succeeded in holding off the German counter attacks until they were able to withdraw at nightfall, not before they had destroyed a Panther with a PIAT!

All-in-all a very enjoyable game - well done Si....one to you!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Vacuum Formed Wargames Terrain - Finished Article

I've finally got around to finishing off my first attempt at a Vacuum Formed Building. My Middle East House with compound walls.
Trees by GW, USMC& Arabs by Peter Pig, Armoured Humvees by IrishSerb & Building by TIMSTANKS!
It's early days yet and I'm learning all the time. On the back of this first moulding I've modified the master and will try some more when Colette lets me buy more plastic sheet (i.e. Pay Day!)
On the original mould I used sand covered cardboard sheet for the compound base. Naively this came from a takeaway lid which was wax coated! So guess what, the sand fell off!
Now I've replaced that with 3mm mdf. This should also give the compound a little more rigidity when moulded. You will note from the pictures that I have mounted my prototype moulding on 3mm mdf to give it a bit of weight and ensure it lies flat on the table. A sheet of 3mm mdf 60mm x 1200mm was only £6.70 from Wickes....enough for a lot of bases!
As Colette pointed out, I could probably have created this model in just two parts (rather than 7) - simply the building + the compound base. This is indeed true, but what I was trying to achieve was the start of a series of mouldings that provide a selection of modular parts that allow a number of different buildings to be assembled.
Another mould will contain parts to create an upper storey with a balcony and (if there's room) a dome to create a mosque. I'd also like to make a set of separate compound walling to allow you to make the extensive compounds seen in Afghanistan.
But before all that my next master is nearly finished - A selection of modular streams/tracks - 6 pieces, stream/track 15mm wide and (in all) just over 1metre in length. These could be used as rivers in 6/10mm and streams in any other scale up to 28mm. Depending on how they are painted they could just as easily be tracks as streams! Keep checking back on the Blog - these should be ready by early November.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

New Rules - GWH 50% off Sale

Well as a committed tight arse, I can never resist a bargain. So when I stumbled on Warhammer Historical’s 50% off Sale I couldn’t resist!

My feelings towards GW are probably similar to many others in that I’m torn between disliking the extortionate prices and the manipulation of customers, to admiring the production values of their products. As a result of the latter, I must confess to actually owning more than my fair share of their historical rule sets, Warmaster Ancients, WAB,WH ECW, Trafalgar & The Great War.
 I’ve only got experience of playing Warmaster and Trafalgar……both of which are great fun. The others I’ve bought intending playing but only got as far as reading so far.

When I saw the various forum entries advertising the 50% off sale and at the same time forecasting the iminent demise of Warhammer Historical, I thought I’d better get in there quick.
 I was amazed when earlier in the Summer they published three new rule sets in quick succession + the long promised follow up to The Great War and have been following some of the early on-line reviews with interest.
So on the back of these I took the plunge, and I am now the proud owner of the following, Waterloo, Kampfgruppe Normandy,   Over the Top & Gladiator.
Three working days late they arrived, and I finally got to sit down with them last night. It took the whole evening just to look through them all! First impressions are…..well Wow! I’ll expand on this when I’ve had time to read them through.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

15mm Zvezda SDKFZ 251/1 Ausf B Half-Track

When I bought the Panzer IIIs I couldn't resist buying just one half-track to go with them! I've always loved the look of the German armoured half-tracks - my favourite scene in "Saving Private Ryan" is when the US Paras knock-out the rather rattly Sdkfz 250 in the field of crops just before they find Ryan for the first time.
I've been patiently waiting for the PSC kits of the Sdkfz 251 Ausf D's to go with the Battlefront example I already own, but as I'll be painting them up in Dark Yellow for late war scenarios, I thought I could treat myself to an early example to be finished in Dark Grey to go with my Panzer IIIs.
The box has the usual exploded assembly diagram on the back together with three views of the finished article.
Inside the box there's the single sprue (moulded in the same flexible grey plastic the Panzer III's were made from), the "Art of Tactics" data card and a sheet of paper with H&S advice like don't eat the model etc....
The sprue is nice and clean with little if any flash. The kit comprises 9 parts including the little MG34 + the usual flag. The sprue is quite busy and, as with some parts of the Panzer III,  there are a large number of runners that all have to be cut through to release the parts. With this being a small model, there is little room to do this with side cutters, so I had to get in there with the knife.....if you find the same problem take care!

After washing the sprue in washing up liquid to remove the mould  release agents and leaving it to dry overnight, I decided to pre-paint the hull interior as it would be impossible to do so after assembly. The lower hull is well detailed with driver & co-driver seats, side-mounted bench seats and behind them, stowage bins for the crew's kit.
Assembly starts with the hull top and bottoms being removed from the sprue. The runners join the parts on the very edges of the side armour plates, so you need to take care cleaning them up to ensure you still have that nice straight edge on the angled joints. I tried filing them off with emery boards, but the soft plastic doesn't sand effectively. In the end I trimmed them very carefully with a sharp knife.
The next stage I found somewhat fiddly. This may just be my big fingers, but all the same it needs care. The front & side mudguards are moulded as one piece. To assemble them on the model it is necessary to feed the front of the lower hull underneath the bar separating the two front mudguards (see arrowed above) and the clip the hull into place.
To do this you need to locate a pin moulded in the lower hull (see arrowed above) through a hole moulded in the mudguard assembly. This wasn't easy as the plastic was too flexible and deformed as I tried to get it through the hole. I got there in the end, but as before, take care!
Next assemble the rear track units onto the chassis. I painted the inside black because I thought it might be visible through the floor.
The finished chassis was then attached to the lower hull. The front wheels were left off and only attached after completion of the painting process. They were painted, seperately, while still on the sprue.
Finally the upper hull was attached and the model is now ready to paint.
Once painted (as per the Panzer III see previous blog entry) the MG34 was fitted together with the front wheels. You'll see from the sprue, that this is the only armament supplied with the kit.
I've seen only one picture with this type of MG bracket mounted on the front rather than the rear - this was captioned as an Ausf A (see above) - so I'm not certain how accurate the kit really is. If you buy a FoW crew you'll get a gunner so it doesn't realy matter - but if you don't you're stuck with this! The Jerrycan came from a PSC Panzer IV.
The model was based on mdf in the same way as described for the Panzer III. The decals came from Dragon 1/144 kits once again. I think that the only difference between the Ausf B and more common C is the access hatch on the nose plate (see above). I guess this could be easily removed with a knife to make the model an Ausf C instead?

There are no crew figures or external stowage items for this vehicle as you'd get with PSC, so if you want the half-track populated you'll need to source some figures. I know you can buy a four man crew (including one figure manning the gun) from battlefront - I've bought them for my FoW model. Another source might be the FiB Kubel or Schwimwagen kits which have more seated figures than you can fit in the cabs.
In conclusion
The Pro's
  • Nice looking finished article
  • Very good value for money
 The Con's
  • Quite fiddly to assemble
  • Plastic doesn't sand easily
  • No crew figures or stowage
  • Not sure about the lack of armament?
  • No Decals
Ok so there are a few picky "Con's" to consider? But what's not to like? The model only costs £2.75 and you can buy as many or as few as you want rather than being committed to buy in multiples of 5. At this price the models cost about the same as the 1/144 versions from Minifigs or Dragon so has to be excellent value for money. Thoroughly recommended.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

15mm Zvezda Panzer III - Part Two

To finish the models I painted them using my usual technique.
Airbrushed Dark Grey
  1. Vallejo white primer from a spray can
  2. Airbrushed Vallejo Panzer Grey
  3. Airbrushed Vallejo Sepia Wash
  4. Heavy dry-brush of Panzer Dark Grey + a little White
  5. Light dry-brush of Light Grey to pick out highlights
  6. The tracks were coated in Vallejo Flesh Wash followed by dry-brushed silver to simulate rusty tracks with worn contact areas
  7. Finally things like the tools, exhausts, lights etc were painted as appropriate.
Airbrushed Sepia Wash
 The models were then mounted on mdf bases from Warbases. These were coated with sand and PVA, painted Earth Brown and dry-brushed Sand. Then some spare decals from some old Dragon 1/144 kits were applied.
Finally, after a coat of GW Purity Seal followed by Army Painter Matt Spray, the bases have static grass applied with PVA - Job Done.
In Conclusion.
The Pro's
  • Lovely, crisply detailed little models
  • Quick & easy assembly (dependant on which sprue type you get!)
  • Value for money
  • Widespread availability
The Con's
  • The tracks can be a bit fiddly to clean up
  • The accuracy of the running gear may be questionable to "Rivet counters"
  • The softer plastic is a little more difficult to clean up than hard polystyrene
  • The turret assembly method would make adding a crew figure challenging
  • Shame there's no decals
OK so there's a few "Con's" listed this time....but do they really matter? Well for the market the model's are aimed at (i.e. Wargamers) they're perfectly acceptable. And for me, the most significant thing I realised the other day was that these models actually cost less that their 1/144 equivalents from Minifigs!...What a Bargain! Now let's get on with the Sdkfz 251 Half-track........