Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sharpe Practice Carts

I have had a couple of carts sitting finished on my painting table for the last couple of months now. Yesterday I thought I'd take an hour or so and finally get them based up.

I purchased the carts and horses from Warbases in the UK months ago. They arrived in a very timely manner and were very easy to put together. I spent less than half an hour painting up the wagons and horses and ... then pushed them aside to work on other projects! In part was because my Mexican-American War II force does not have any carts. I had purchased them for the upcoming AWI campaign, and as we have been firming up the parameters of the campaign, I now thought it was time I finished them.

I chose to do them on circular bases instead of rectangular, mostly because I don't like the look of square/rectangular bases. And I suspect that the carts are not going to move about the gaming table very much. This led me to do the bases up with the heavy diorama look.

First up was the Water Cart ... I know this cart will be useful as the "thirsty" event has already afflicted many units in our MAWII games already.
The figure is a very, very old and of an unknown manufacture (Front Rank maybe). I believe it came from an artillery set for the French Indian war, but this figure has been re-tasked to supply water to thirsty troops!
The large water barrel is resin cast (the carts are laser cut wood) and it fit very well onto the cart. I also added a water bucket, a get "un-stuck" rod and a pile of backpacks to the base to give the diorama some flavour. I know the backpacks are more of a Napoleonic French 1812 style but it looks good and don't think anyone is going to complain about the "future" tech on the base :)

Next up was the Ammo Cart ... Not even sure if my force will have this cart, as the few times I have run low on ammo my troops were already within 12" of the enemy, but hey you never know :) The cover on the cart is a supplied piece of thick paper, which you score to fold across the opening of the cart. Hard to tell in the photos, but I applied a very light wash to it to knock down the brightness of it.
I used 4" circular bases which I had on hand. These were large enough to have the cart, horse and figure on them comfortable, as well as some open space to diorama up.
I applied my usual three layers of "rocks", followed by my grass mix. It was immediately clear that this was inadequate for the size of the base. So I added a bunch of tuffs and then packed in some "thick" flocking next to them to give a "bush" look to a few areas on the base. Applied a second layer of grass mix to thicken the remaining sections of grass.
Again the figure is of an unknown manufacture, perhaps from the same set. I think he looks generic enough, with his shovel and water bucket, that he'll fit in most black powder periods.

Quick and easy and both look good on the gaming table. My only worry is that they are difficult to pick up and move about, so I might have to pin the carts to the horse to make them more "game sturdy" in the future. Again though suspect they won't be moving that much in the first place.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Team Yankee - East German Kampfgruppe, part 2

I have been working on more East German vehicles (part one) and now have most of the vehicles done (I am procrastinating on the 15x BTR's, as I am not keen on putting together so much plastic!).

BTR Battalion sans the BTR's :)
All the above vehicles are painted and washed. I am going to add the East German shield decal to them and call them temporarily done. Mostly because I am not sure how I'll number the vehicles of the BTR battalion. Battlefront has a very limited number system with their decals, so I'll have to take a look at other companies.

But before I do the shields, I received a box this week with the two SU-22 Fitters I ordered! As was pointed out to me by Tom and a little research confirmed, the East Germans did not use the SU-25's, instead they used Mig-25 and SU-22 for ground support. Academy had both but went for the more "traditional" ground support SU-22.
So got my tube of $1 plastic glue and went to work ... and it they turned out to be kind of a pain in the %#$ putting together! It is not the best kit, and had several very small parts with no markings on where they fit on the model. But powered through it and got both of them done, though if I was a modeler I'd have a lot of putting and scratch building left to do!
The thing I was most disappointed with is that they are not loaded for ground support but air supremacy (two missiles and drop tanks). Not being an "air guy" it is possible that there is a ground attack version of the su-22 though academy just had this one version.
It gives you the hard points for the cannon/rocket pods, but no pods. Perhaps some you crafty types could make up four gun pods for me in 1/144th scale!
Gund pod circled in red
I am going to paint them similar to the above photo, but might be a bit as the 15 BTR's have priority (I'll post pictures when finished). Also I might have to hand paint the East German shield as well ... though might be able to use a Battlefront shield as the core and just paint the diamond around it.
I'll also need to make different flight stands than the WW2 ones I already had done. First off the angle is to steep for the jets and second, that even though the Moderna and WW2 models are the same scale, the SU-22's are much bigger and in turn makes the base very unstable.

More to come but were getting close to starting the Red Thunder campaign!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Team Yankee - East German Kampfgruppe

As the Frostgrave and Sharps Practice campaigns are heading into their last couple of games, I thought it would be a good time to look at starting up another campaign at the store. With the release of Red Thunder for Team Yankee last month I decided that perhaps a modern campaign would be a good choice and change of pace. The decision was made easier as Battlefront has released a Red Thunder campaign kit!

It has been a long time since I painted up a 15mm army, so thought I should do up a store army to kick off the Campaign. As I had not many sales for the East Germans I thought I would do up a list for them so that all the factions were present (turns out there will be three EG armies!).

Here is the 100pt list I came up with for the store:

9th Panzer Division Kampfgruppe 100
Panzer Battalion 47
Bn Hq 1x T-55 1
Tnk Co 6x T-55 8
Tnk Co 6x T-55 8
Tnk Co 6x T-72 19
Recon Plt 2x BRDM-2 1
SAM Plt 2x SA-13 2
AA Sec 2x ZSU-23 2
ART 3x Carnation 6
BTR Mot-Schutzen Battalion 39
Bn Hq 1x BTR-60, 1x Cmd Team 1
BTR-60 Co 9x BTR-60, 1x PKLMG, 6x RPG7, 7x MG, 1x AT-4 12
BTR-60 Co 5x BTR-60, 3x RPG7, 4x MG, 1xAG-17 6
Tnk Co 7x T-55 10
AT Plt 3x Spandrel Zug 2
Recon Plt 2x BRDM-2 1
ART 3x Carnation 6
AA 2x SA-9 1
Division Support 14
AT Plt 3x Spandrel 2
Rocket 3x BM-21 Hail 5
Air 2x SU-25 7

The first thing I noticed about this list is that it has a ton of vehicles, 66 in total! I am actually not sure this will even be playable on a 6'x4' table. With generous help from Battlefront, I began getting the models and assembling them ... and by "I", I really mean Steve, who did most of the assembling. This left me able to turn my attention to painting them all up.

The easy solution was to just use Battlefront's Soviet Green and spray the whole lot, a little dark grey on the tires, tracks and HMG's, rust up the tracks, wash the whole vehicle and call it good! I'd easily have all sixty six done in a single day. But that would just be plain boring!

As this is a fictitious war, I went with the idea that the NVA authorized camouflaged for their vehicles a few years earlier than 1988. The Volks Armee book from Battlefront has steps on how to do this camo scheme. But when looking at the colors needed, plus my decades of painting experience, I started having reservations about how the scheme would look on the 15mm vehicles, especially the "white".

So I started searching online for color suggestions and came across a website in german that had images from the army manual for painting the camo scheme. But more importantly I read that the white/black camo scheme was an amendment issued in April of '88 . The original order was for beige and brown (see translation below).

The Ministry of National Defense of the GDR introduced a new camouflage for the NVA in the late 1980s with the instruction "Distortions on combat technology, armament and equipment" . The prescription differentiated a three-color summer and a two-color winter coat, which should be applied to all combat and combat support vehicles. Olive green was the basic color for summer as well as for winter. The summer camouflage initially saw an additional blotch from the two supplementary colors brown and beige.

I thought this scheme would look better than the black and white, and while it is possible no actual vehicles were ever painted in these colors ... mine were going to be! I had intended to just do the tanks in the camo, but it seems that all vehicles were camo'd so I resigned myself to painting camo on sixty six vehicles ...

The camo is more of hard edge, but as I was not going to mask out all those vehicles, nor hand paint the edges so I ended up with feathered edges when using my Airbrush. Interestingly I also found out that each Warsaw Pact nation had its own "green", so all the research on what would work for soviet green was moot as the East Germans green was much brighter.

The Tank Battalion sans SP Artillery
After a a little experimenting I settled on the following steps:

 1) Green rattle can primer (Battlefront TYP292 NATO Green).
 2) Overspray of brighter green with the airbrush (Model Air 71094 Green Zinc Chrome)
 3) Airbrushed on brown patches (Model Air 71043 Olive Drab)
 4) Airbrushed beige patches (Model Air 71023 Hemp)
 5) Painted the tires and mg's in dark grey (Model Color 70994 Dark Grey)
 6) Painted the "get unstuck log" random color of brown (Model Color ???)
 7) Washed the whole vehicle (Army Painter WP1134 Soft Tone)
 8) At the same time muddy up the tracks (Secret Weapon Pigment WP1003 Clay Brown)
 9) Apply Decals and Clear Coat

Not 100% sure I'll decal all the vehicles, but will do a lot of the East German shields ... Now onto the 32 vehicles for the Motor Battalion!

Read part two

Monday, July 17, 2017

Russia 1943 - KGCII

Mark drove up from Olympia last Saturday to host a game of Kampfgruppe Commander II. He has an extensive collection of 15mm WWII Germans and Soviets so it was no surprise that the scenario pitted four battalions of Germans assaulting a russian fortified line. Well ok it was only one battalion of very good Germans and three battalions of not so good Hungarians attacking so so russian infantry regiments.

The axis force had to clear the center lane and capture the Village sitting astride the road. The Soviet main line of defense sat along an east west road, centered on a fortified hamlet at the crossroads, though they had refused their right flank.

The Axis plan was to have the German battalion sweep wide left and outflank the soviet line, they were to be supported by a battalion of Hungarian infantry. Two other Hungarian battalions would attack down the center to keep the Russians from reinforcing the flank. The Soviet plan was just to hold up in their field works and wait for the tanks to arrive.

Soviet strongpoint in the center. This proved to hard of a nut to crack for the Hungarians.

Two Hungarian battalions preparing to attack.

German Bn crossing its start line.

Supporting Hungarian infantry companies.

The Axis attack on the soviet right flank got off to a slow start. Terrain disrupted the movements and the Hungarians supporting attack stalled out quickly. However after massive artillery and mortar fire on the hilltop location, the Germans eventually got around the flank (covered by a woods) and forced the remnants of the defending Russian battalion to retire.

Hungarian infantry moving forward to attack.

The Germans were supported by a veteran StuG III company.

Hungarians finally move up and occupy the vacant hilltop fortifications.
By this time the Hungarian commander called off the attack on the hamlet. There were just too many russians to make an assault, and russians had moved down to flank them on the right. Soviet tanks also showed up at this time.
This small hamlet was bombarded extensively. The Soviet defends dug in and could not be dislodge.

Relief is coming!

T-34's finally show up.
 As it became clear there was no threat in the center, most of the Russian tank regiment moved to counter the Germans flanking the Russian line. While the Germans got the better of the Russians, and had completely turned the flank, they did not have enough troops to push the reformed flank back onto the village.
Most of the tank regiment moved to stem the Soviet right flank.

Though battered Soviet infantry holds on in the hamlet.

The Germans just about to turn right and attack the Soviet flank.

T-70's raced to cover the flank ... went into action and were knocked out quickly.

T-34's with infantry support cover the open area. They were later driven off from Stug and mortar fire.
We called the game after several hours of gaming. The axis side felt they did not have enough troops to effectively continue the attack, even though they had turned the flank and the German battalion was in relatively good shape.

We all thought it would be a cool idea to take this result, adjust the table somewhat and game out a follow up attack by the axis side. We'll see if that comes to fruition, as I suspect Ken will be hosting the next game and there was talk of British...

Thursday, July 6, 2017

1777 Saratoga Campaign - Sharps Practice 2

So our SP2 Mexican-American War II has been going pretty well ... we just finished round three and I am prepping for round four which will be our 1st "big" game where all six of us will be at the same table.

That said, most of us are already working on our forces for the next narrative campaign: 1777 Saratoga. I am no exception and have finished my first group for my Mixed British-Loyalist force ... British Grenadiers!

Eight Grenadiers from the 20th Regiment of Foot
The 20th Regiment of Foot has already had combat experience, assisting in the relief of Quebec in May 1776. The grenadiers will be the hard hitting unit of my force, ie my foot cavalry.

Lt. Whitham of the Flank Company, 20th Regiment of Foot
The Grenadier detachment is led by Lieutenant Whitham, who is familiar with the colonies due to his family having holdings in New York. An experienced officer serving with the 20th for several years; he is the senior lieutenant of the force.

1777 British Mixed Column 99 elements from Brig. Gen. Simon Fraser Advance Corps
Leader III 9 Major Stedman
Leader I 3 Ensign Bramley
British Regulars (8) 6 24th Rgt
British Regulars (8) 6 24th Rgt
British Regulars (8) 6 24th Rgt
3pdr (1+5) 6
Indians (12) 7
Leader II 6 Lieutenant Fraser
Loyalist (8) - Provincial Regulars 4 McAlpin’s Corps of Royalists
Loyalist (8) - Provincial Regulars 4 McAlpin’s Corps of Royalists
Loyalist (8) - Provincial Regulars 4 McAlpin’s Corps of Royalists
Leader I 3 Lieutenant Beaubien
Loyalist Ranger Skirmishers (6) - Canadians 7 3rd Company (quebec)
Leader I 3 Sargeant Trahan
Loyalist Ranger Skirmishers (6) - Canadians 7 3rd Company (quebec)
Leader I 3 Lieutenant Whitham
Grenadiers (8) 7 20th Rgt
Musician 1 24th Rgt
Exploring Officer or Scout 3 Ensign Adams of Adam's Rangers
Specialist - Marksman 2 from Captain Frasers Ranger Company
Water Cart 2

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Battle of Mark-Kleeberg - General d'Armee

Last saturday we had our second run through of the GdA rules ... I really did not get to play for several reasons, more people showed up to game than expected, had store customers and unbeknownst to me at the time, was coming down with a bad chest cold (still kicking my butt!)

The scenario had most of the Polish 26th Division defending Mark-Kleeberg, I decided to have the Vistula Legion rated as an elite unit, mostly to see how elite units fare in the game than any statement about the quality of the unit in question during 1813.
My latest scratch built building is on the far right.
I made the village three sectors, and was able to test out the "tall" 20mm idea I am leaning towards for villages. And in this case, think it work out very well. The other two polish battalions along with a battery held the French right anchored on a school house complex.

A polish battalion and artillery battery were in the open linking the school with the village, they supported the battalion in the school that ended up bearing the brunt of the allied attack.

Another French brigade (lower left), this one from the 51st Division was
tasked with keeping the Austrian's on the other side of the river.
Though hard to see the hill, two brigades of the 52nd French Division were on reserve behind the creek.

The French had to keep a brigade near the ford to keep the Austrians from arriving to the battle.

The calm before the storm ... Looking from the Western side of the Pleisse River where the Austrians are trying to force their way across. The Allied units will be arriving from the right side.

French Columns waiting to support the Polish troops occupying Mark-Kleeberg ... turned out they were not needed and instead turn and faced the russian troops arriving from the flank.

1st Bn, 8th Infantry Regiment (polish) 
The Polish battalions on average were a little over 225 men, so I decided to combine 1st and 2nd battalions of the regiment into a standard sized battalion for GdA.

The detachment comprise the fusilier bn from 12th Brigade and two reserve Bn's from 9th Brigade!
Col. Lobel detachment of fusiliers and reserves under assault orders advance quickly upon the school house. The tactic look good ... at least until the combat started :)

Initial actions of the battle
Along with their brigade skirmish screen, the Prussian detachment on the left were the first troops to engage the Polish. Two massed columns charged the polish defenders, both sides supported by infantry. The odds favoured the more numerous Prussians but not by much and the Polish held the initial round of combat.

Several Bn's from the 10th Landwehr Infantry Regiment 
The Prussian reserves arrive in the center with orders to take Mark-Kleeberg ...sadly this was as far as they would advance!

Both brigades of  GdD Semele 52nd Infantry Division
The French commander started releasing his brigades in reserve to respond to the multiple threats opposing him. Turns out he did not need most of these units.

French 6lb foot batteries from IX Corps
The batteries on the hill got into the action by engaging prussian units with long range fire.

The final round of combat had the Prussians with a 13 to 9 dice advantage ... they lost 1 to 6!
The Polish defenders held on but it looked grim for them as the combat continued ... But of course the stubborn polish troops threw the massed prussians back!

1st Landwehr Cavalry Regiment 
The Prussian landwehr cavalry pretty much just suffered under French bombardments during the battle...

The Russian had even less men per Bn than the Poles. The whole 14th Division was
 less than 1600 men and was represented by four small battalions and a large battery.
The Russian 14th Division moved on from the right flank, but soon became a mass of confused units, as it tried to face two directions and make room for the Russian cuirassier brigade to charge through them. It did not work out to well, especially when a unit of Polish cavalry charged that mass of men.

The attack stalled out so they called the game early. It was at that point a solid Polish victory but the bulk of the Allied troops had not been engaged. Ken in particular had some horrendous die rolls for activating brigades ... even with the attachment ADC he had multiple turns with hesitant brigades.

This game did not flow as well as our first game, though I think this was due in large part to a larger game, more people and everyone still new to the rules. We are also suffering relapses of Black Powder tactics, in that we are used to freely moving around battalions, which is not the case with GdA as the maneuvering of individual battalions is more restrictive.

We have another game scheduled for the end of the month and suspect it (and every additional game) will go smoother as more of us have the rules in hand and have forgotten our BP gaming foibles.