Posted by: T.A.G. | 13/08/2017

Introducing B Company…

Well, after 8 days of splashing paint around, my first 10mm WW2 infantry company is varnished and in the box, where it awaits the completion of a German company to oppose it.

My “new” 1944-45 North West Europe WW2 project has been “slow burning”. I am amazed to realise that I’ve been at it for almost two years. Now, after a couple of false starts, it is properly underway.

This company is organised and based for the Crossfire rules which I’ve played a few times and think are superb. The company has a HQ, comprising the company commander, a 2” mortar and a Jeep, as well as three rifle platoons, each comprising a platoon commander, 2” mortar, PIAT, three rifle sections and a 15cwt truck. Each section is represented by three figures giving nine in total of which one is a Sten SMG and one a Bren LMG. Having seen the technique used elsewhere, I’ve trialled putting labels on the bases to avoid having to pick up bases to find out where, organisationally, they belong. I have to say I’m quite pleased with the look of them.

The trucks featured in my previous post have now gained their unit serial numbers, in this case “green 62” which indicates the second battalion within the infantry brigade attached to an armoured division or the third battalion of the second brigade (of three) in an infantry division.

Some photos of the finished company are below.

T.A.G.

Posted by: T.A.G. | 06/08/2017

New World War 2 Project in 10mm Scale

Some years ago, World War 2 was a popular period within my group of wargamers but more recently the old 20mm equipment has not seen many outings. I recently had the opportunity to play a 10mm WW2 game using the Crossfire rules. These rules are amazing (at least compared to what we used to do in 20mm) and I have acquired a set. I have also been acquiring a collection of (thus far unpainted) figures and models from Pithead Miniatures and Pendraken Miniatures but with some embellishments from the ranges of Magister Militum and Minifigs. Having sought and failed to commission someone to paint the evolving collection for me (time is precious these days and my eyes are not what they used to be), I have bowed to the inevitable and begun to paint.

The images below are of a Morris 15cwt truck, which is the trailblazer for my 10mm WW2 collection. This model is the “experiment” that I’ve used to decide what painting style I shall use and what my bases will look like. It won’t win any painting competitions but should work okay on the table top. It still needs some transfers for various vehicle markings but otherwise it’s complete and two more trucks and a Jeep are not far behind. I hope you like the photos of my efforts.

T.A.G.

Recently, I was invited to join an aerial campaign based around the Battle of Britain in 1940. Each of the participating players has been asked to select an RAF fighter squadron and the premise is that, chronologically, the air battles of the selected squadrons will be played out using the Wings of Glory WW2 gaming system. I have selected 43 Squadron RAF which was equipped with Hurricanes and based at Tangmere. Tangmere is located between Portsmouth and Brighton on the South coast of England.

43 Squadron’s first action was against a group of bombers escorted by fighters. The bombers were of two types, Messerschmitt Me110s and Heinkel He 111s (but due to no He 111 models being available, these were substituted for Dornier Do 17 models). The German fighters were Messerschmitt Me 109s.

As four Hurricanes from 43 squadron vectored in to engage the enemy aircraft from a higher altitude, they saw four Me 109s in finger four formation slightly ahead of and above the bombers, two Do 17s astern of the fighters and 4 Me110s loaded with bombs flying also in finger four formation in between the other two formations and flying at a slightly lower altitude.

43 Squadron matched the altitude of the Do 17s, attacking the rear right quarter of that German formation. The leading pair of Hurricanes engaged the trailing Do 17 and shot it down with a critical hit that caused the bomber to explode in mid-air.

The Hurricanes then closed in on the second Do 17, now supported by a third Hurricane and engaged it but were in turn engaged by the Me109s that had turned and closed the distance to 43 Squadron mush quicker than anticipated. The second Do 17 was shot down but the combined fire of the German aircraft critically damaged the leading Hurricane causing the pilot to bail out into the English Channel and also badly damaged the wing man’s machine.

However, the other two Hurricane’s now closed in and the in the ensuing dogfight three Me109s were lost in exchange for another Hurricane down and the remaining two heavily damaged.

The flight of Me 110s continued on its way but without fighter cover as the surviving Me 109 was forced to return to base for repairs. The two surviving Hurricanes broke off the engagement and returned to Tangmere for repairs. 43 Squadron will fly again…

The pilot that bailed out was my own personality figure so his fate was determined as being picked up from the Channel by a rescue boat. His injuries were minor and so would not prevent him from rejoining 43 Squadron and continuing to fly sorties.

T.A.G.

During a recent weekend break, I visited the museum of The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) regiment in Winchester. The museum is excellent, being very well laid out and highly informative. The museum has a current operations section for the modern and recently amalgamated regiment nowadays titled The Rifles but its other galleries tell the story of the modern unit’s antecedent regiments: the 43rd  (Monmouthshire), 52nd (Oxfordshire), 60th (Royal American) and 95th (Rifles) Regiments of Foot as well as their successor units: the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, the Rifle Brigade, King’s Royal Rifle Corps and the Royal Green Jackets.

This post is going to focus on the recently refurbished diorama of the Battle of Waterloo that forms the centre piece of the Napoleonic gallery. Laid out on 25 square metres of table, the diorama comprises over 30,000 20mm soldiers and horses at an approximate ratio of 1 figure to 9 real men and represents all of the key events of the battle rather than just a single moment.

Originally created over 50 years ago, it was recently restored,, reopening in time for the 200th anniversary of the battle. A son-et-lumiere show, narrated by Kate Adie, takes the museum’s visitors through the battle, highlighting step-by-step the key events and bringing the diorama to life in a way that conveys a lot of information in an engaging, entertaining and very impressive manner.

Perhaps the best thing about the diorama is that it is a three dimensional model of the battlefield as it was, which means that it shows the landscape before it was altered by the creation of the Lion Mound near the crossroads of the Brussels and Ohain roads. Having stood on the battlefield and ascended the Lion Mound, I was startled by how very different the battlefield looked in 1815.

The photos below show various parts of the diorama. Please accept my apologies for the poor quality of some images – using a new camera to take zoom pictures through glass in low light at high is my only excuse.

Grateful thanks to Mrs T.A.G. for use of her photos from the visit.

T.A.G.

Posted by: T.A.G. | 01/02/2016

Peninsular Game

Despite owning the army for three or four years, I had never fought with my Spanish troops only against them. This has now changed.

A one-off game took place where a Spanish division of two infantry brigades and a cavalry brigade took on the German division of three infantry brigades and a cavalry brigade in an 1809 Peninsular setting. The objective was a crossroads which neither side controlled at the start of the game. The crossroads was in a village.

The Spanish deployed in line behind the crossroads whilst the Germans deployed in column and advanced towards the crossroads. I have obtained some movement trays from Battlezone Miniatures and these, in their first outing, made moving units much easier than ever before.

The Spanish cavalry moved quickly to intercept the German infantry but the nature of the terrain meant that the move was badly mistimed and the Germans were able to neutralise the Spanish cavalry for minimal losses. The Germans concentrated their advance through the fairly closed terrain of the board’s centre whilst the Spanish had deployed one brigade to cover the more open terrain of one flank. So it was that the single Spanish brigade in the centre faced opposition from two enemy brigades (comprised of Hesse-Darmstadt, Frankfurt and Dutch units) and the cavalry brigade (Vistula Lancers). The Spanish brigade was quickly and easily forced back.

Meanwhile the third German brigade (Nassau and Baden units) closed in on the village and, within it, the all-important crossroads. Here though, the Germans were surprised by the firepower of the Spanish defenders and struggled to make headway whilst taking concerning levels of casualties. The Spanish fought well and showed that, as a wargames army, they have some bite. However, the collapse of the other Spanish formations meant that, now outnumbered by 2:1, they could not survive and a concerted and coordinated series of charges ended the battle with a decisive victory for the German player.

This game was an interesting challenge because the Spanish army is designed to be difficult to use and, given that Spanish doctrine was to fight in linear formations, it was unfamiliar. The learning experience was good and I’ll deploy and use the Spanish in different ways next time.

The pictures below are from the game.

Next post: TBA

T.A.G.

In this post about the Napoleonic Peninsular campaign, I shall discuss some of the lighter moments of the campaign.

In my orders to the umpire, I always include a section for messages and letters that need to pass outside of my immediate chain of command. During the earliest stages of the campaign, my general journeyed through the French town of Carcassonne, spending a night or two there on his way to the Spanish border to join the Corps. This was not long after Mrs T.A.G. and I had holidayed in Carcassonne so I decided that “General T.A.G.” would write to “Madame T.A.G.” about being at a place (within the wargame context) we both knew and had enjoyed in real life. Included in my next turn’s orders was a response that Madame T.A.G. (aka the real life Mrs T.A.G.) wrote back. The astonished umpire phoned and set about explaining that Madame T.A.G. should not have written that letter because, for campaign purposes, he was Madame T.A.G…  Fortunately, Mrs T.A.G. overruled him!

Mrs T.A.G. is a regular blogger and published a blog post about the above exchange. In response to her post, one of her blog followers, who lives in the very same part of the Pyrenees as the campaign was set, posted a reply that offered me some really good advice on the best routes from France into Spain. Once again, the umpire was astonished!

After the battle at Riudellots de la Selva, a Spanish division surrendered and had to be disarmed by my forces. I instructed the umpire to ensure that all Spanish officers and men gave an oath never again to take up arms against France before they would be released. I gave instructions that all soldiers (not officers) giving their word should be tattooed so that any found fighting against France in future could be easily identified and dealt with as oath breakers. In a later situation report, the umpire advised that ink for tattooing had run out and that Spaniards were instead being branded. Not at all what I had intended but being some distance away by this time, there was no opportunity to send a rider to rescind the practice and so some of the Spaniards were cruelly treated.

By the time of the battle of Montcada i Reixac, my enemies’ perceptions of the French army’s quality and superiority had taken root. The Spanish commander, having fought and lost a couple of open battles, lost confidence in his army’s capability to execute the actions necessary to defeat his seemingly invincible foe. This led him to build a series of defensive earthworks that were so extensive he was given a new nickname, El Topo, which translates into English as The Mole. Apparently an area of Catalonia, just north of Barcelona was scoured for picks, spades and shovels…

The game that simulated a French supply column marching through hostile Spanish territory had its light moments. The concept was that the supply column would march the length of the table and back whilst being harried by small bands of guerrillas who would pop up at random intervals to take pot shots before melting away into the countryside. The umpire briefed the players but advised the guerrilla commander that the convoy included the French pay chest, and that it would be good for Spain if it was captured. The pay chest became the entire focus of the Spanish commander and instead of small bands of guerrillas – 8 or 10 figures – popping up and harrying the column, battalion sized groups of 20 figures would suddenly appear and charge for the wagons. This peculiar situation persisted for the remainder of the game despite the umpire’s best efforts to refocus the guerrillas’ tactics. Although they came exceedingly close on more than one occasion, the guerrillas ultimately failed to capture the French gold but slipped away to try again another day….

The pictures below are from the campaign.

T. A. G.

Next post: Battle Report of a One-off Peninsula Battle

 

In this post, I shall consider the things that I learned whilst participating in this campaign.

I suppose a good place to start is with the campaign scenario because this underpins everything else about the campaign. I have never been to Spain so I don’t know that much about its people, culture, geography or history. The campaign has been an excellent vehicle to learn more about Spain and especially Catalonia. I now have a much better appreciation of that region of Spain and am minded to visit at some future point.

I knew some things about the army of Spain as it was in 1808/1809, having planned and acquired the army that opposed me. However, I did not know all that much about the political constraints that Spanish armies would have been operating under in 1808/1809 so hats off to the umpire whose research was impeccable and for grasping the diverse goals and objectives of the ruling Junta and playing them into the campaign in a meaningful and relevant way.

The military aspects of the campaign are where I feel I have learned much, indeed much more than I ever expected at the start of the campaign. The escalade of Girona was as unpleasant a wargame as it was fascinating and I still shudder at the memory of my superb army being shattered against that city’s walls. At the end of the game, I looked the umpire in the eye and said, “Let them rampage”. The practice of punishing a city after a siege or storming was rooted in history but to have experienced the feelings of anger at the waste of life (aka casualties measured in figures) was very illuminating. I felt no pity for the occupants of Girona and my victorious soldiers had earned the right to “party”…

Still on Girona, the umpire’s mechanism for an escalade, whereby, the number and combinations of dice varied depending on pre-determined criteria was extraordinarily clever. There is always room for creativity and this was an excellent example of a house rule coming up trumps.

It was interesting to measure the perceptions of others as my French army, with its allied contingents, progressed to Barcelona and beyond. It was perceived as being superfast, of superb quality (in fact, there was much talk of the French being almost entirely elite troops) and having large amounts of cavalry. Why was this, I often wondered? Some of the perceptions were as a result of comparison to the Spanish forces who were considered ineffective and of very poor quality. This in turn is a reflection of the excellence of the General de Brigade rules, which level out troop quality (so that the quality advantage for better quality troops in a like-for-like situation is usually only +1 and almost never more than +2) but which rewards using troops to reflect the capability levels implied by troop quality (the rules usually sting you if you use Conscript or 2nd Line troops as though they were Veteran or Elite quality). Very few of my forces were elite and about a third of my infantry was 2nd Line quality or worse, including a brigade composed entirely of conscript infantry.

The photos below are from the campaign.

T. A. G.

Next post: Campaign Thoughts: Looking Back at Three Years of Gaming – Part 3

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