Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Battle of Gela in 1\72nd

Recently our little group did a tabletop recreation of the Battle of Gela during the Invasion of Sicily. The scenario was part of the action fought on the second day of the historical battle.

Operation Husky, July 10th 1943

504th PIR Sicily, July, 1943

Photographs of the actual terrain reveal a relatively flat, open type terrain with a few rises and hills. In the picture above the Germans would advance from the left side of the picture while the American units would hold positions on the right along the highway running the length of the 16’ by 4” war-game table. A village is pictured at the far end of the table.

The Sicilian village on the far end of the game board
Historically the village was occupied by retreating Italian troops from a Coastal Division. Late in the game the 41st Regimental Combat Team from the US 2nd Armored Division (Hell on Wheels) would advance into the town and the Italians would surrender. The German player was unaware of what they Italians might do but he could certainly guess.

Elements of the Herman Goering Division.
The German force attacked from the left side of the first picture. 

Most of the German Battlegroup was from the Herman Goering Division which had been badly mauled the previous day by fire from Cruisers and Destroyers. As a result their morale was a bit shaky and some units understrength.

Recruitment poster for the HG Division
Elements from the HG Division consisted of two companies of recon (far left in above pic); one heavy company and one light; two under strength companies of panzer grenadiers mounted in a halftracks (behind the recon elements); and four companies of tanks; two units of PZ IIILs L-60s, and two units of PZ IVs.

The PZ IV companies each consisted of a PZ IVf1 and a PZ IVf2 thus representing the correct ratio between the short barreled version and the upgraded long barreled version during this stage of the war.

Elements of the 15th Pz. Gren. Div 115th Pz. Green. Rest.  on the far left of the picture.

The German attacking force also  consisted of two under strength companies of panzer grenadiers from the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division; pictured to the far left. One company was mounted in a halftrack and the other in an Opel Blitz.

The Krupp Boxer to the rear of the panzer grenadiers towed a small 75mm infantry howitzer as an on board artillery asset element for the grenadiers.

Three of of the four panzer companies attacked on the American right flank. They were supported by one of the under strength panzer grenadier companies.

They attacked 3 dug in companies of the US 82 Airborne Division (All Americans). The AB companies were lightly armed. Two of the companies had a bazooka team asset and the third a .30 lmg asset.

They were supported by AB pack 75mm howitzer assets that were also dug in (picture below).

Off board 105mm artillery was available to support all the American forces but was utilized to support the lightly armed AB. 

The 105s were effective taking out a light flak unit, destroying or disabling two panzers and causing morale checks.

One company of the AB was eventually destroyed but the other two units held out until relieved by elements of the 2nd Armored Division.

The two surviving AB companies repulse the assault of a panzer grenadier company attempting an over run. The dug in AB units were elite, and rated "hard to kill" in the rules. This compensated for their lack of heavy equipment and they held the reverse slope of the small hill.

The rules were homegrown and called THAB (To Hell and Back).

Elements of the heavy recon company from HG entering the board backed by two companies of panzer grenadiers. The 20mm flak halftrack was knocked out early by a barrage from off board 105mm howitzers. The other elements of the company would out flank the American paratroop forces and thus were the most successful German unit of the game.

The AB 75mm pack howitzers were positioned to support the AB units as well as elements of the 1st US Infantry Division (The Big Red One). 

Two Companies of German tanks trying to turn the AB flank along the highway. At this point in the game they are dueling with a dug in 57mm ATG manned by a company of the 1st Infantry Division. The ATG was destroyed after disabling the tank in the background.

The above picture shows the two panzer grenadier companies from the 115th Panzer Grenadier Regiment from the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division. 

The two companies supported by the 75mm howitzer made a probing attack against elements of the American 1st Infantry Division-in particular a reinforced infantry company that was supported by 37mm ATG assets-assets that were sufficient to turn away the halftrack mounted grenadiers.

Pictured above is the light recon company from the HG division plus one company of panzer grenadiers and one company of PZ IIIL-60s.

This battlegroup would engage a company from the 1st Infantry Division that was supported by a 57mm ATG asset. The ATG destroyed one of the PZIIIs before it was destroyed. It's sacrifice was not on vain as the German battlegroup did not advance beyond the point shown.

The American center position-reinforced rifle company with the battalion 37mm ATG assets. Had the Germans attacked this point with the panzers it would have been difficult to stop them with the obsolete 37mm ATGs.

Pictured above another company of the Big Red One before the 57mm ATG asset was lost to the two PZIIIs. 

The German plan was to outflank the 1st Infantry Division elements by destroying the AB units to the left of this position. The AB units held out and the American center was never seriously threatened.

The 41st Regimental Combat Team from the 2nd Armored Division begins (above) to arrive from the direction of the village.

The panzer grenadier companies from the 115th Panzer Grenadier Regiment were without heavy weapons and so began to withdraw.

The halftrack did not make it and the game was called since it was clear the Germans would not succeed in their objective of reaching the vulnerable beach area.

A splendid time was had by all!

The tank and vehicle models were provided by contributors JZ and MS while the infantry are JZ's. JZ was also the host and scenario designer.

I, your humble administrator got to play as the Americans and be the war correspondent. (BR)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Classic Airfix ACW in 1/72 scale

My friends and I go way back, waaay back in the hobby of miniature wargaming. Because of this at least two of us collect old Airfix figures for nostalgia purposes but also to serve in our current wargame armies along side more recent productions.

At present I have one unit USA and one unit CSA in the armies I’m painting for Black Powder ACW wargaming.

This first unit I painted is the infantry component of Hampton’s Legion. Wade Hampton of South Carolina raised a a combined arms command of infantry, cavalry and artillery at the start of the war. The practice was common in the South and these combined arms units were called “Legions."

Confederate Regiments usually carried a State Flag in addition to the Confederate National Flag as shown here.

Most did not last long as the components were usually broke up and distributed into larger formations of the same type. My intent is to paint each component of Hampton’s Legion before it was broken up following the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg). When I finish I’ll feature all three arms on this blog.

I took artistic license for the infantry uniform. I wanted a pre-war militia look and took some inspiration from Don Troaini’s series of ACW prints.

All the figures are Airfix with the exception of the officer and the standard bearer. They are both 20mm metal figures from Musket Miniatures (now out of business). The South Carolina State Flag was purchased from Musket Miniatures many years ago.

My other unit of old Airfix has been christened the 26th Wisconsin.

Once again the figures are all old Airfix with the exception of the standard bearer. I think the standard bearer is Revell or Accurate or possibly IMEX.

I cut the rifle from the figure and inserted a needle (dangerous) and attached a Musket Miniatures US flag.

This is what is left of the 26th Wisconsin's National Colors. Union regiments unlike their southern counterparts usually did not carry a state flag. Union regiments carried the National Flag with the name of the regiment sewn on. Union regiments also carried a regimental flag that was similar to the flag of US Regulars.

Each of my units has a specific designation as a specific unit even though they may serve generically in a game. I call this unit the 26th Wisconsin because I live in Wisconsin and have the 26th regimental history.

The 26th was a “Sigel” Regiment which means it was raised as one of Franz Sigel’s predominately “German” regiments. Sigel’s Germans were recruited from the 1st and 2nd generation of immigrants from the various German states in areas like St. Louis, Cincinnati and my home town of Milwaukee.

There were so many Germans in the 26th WI that it was called the 2nd German of the Wisconsin regiments to serve in the Civil War. I think the other was the 9th Wisconsin.

The 26th was in the hapless 11th Corp of the Army of the Potomac.

The 11th Corp had a high proportion of Germans and when some units were pushed back and some routed at Gettysburg they were disparaged in the eastern press for cowardice and "Dutchmen"-an unfair charge.

The Dutchmen label was a corruption of Deutsch which apparently many English speakers could not pronounce.

The 26th in particular distinguished itself at Gettysburg until both flanks collapsed and they were forced to retire with the rest of their brigade.

My two Airfix units face off.

Airfix had three sets of figures issued specifically for the American Civil War. The pictures below illustrate the box art from the sets in the 1970's-80s. The sets are no longer available from Airfix but can be found on Ebay. The sets are sought after by collectors and can command a high price in mint condition.

 Entry by BR site administrator and contributor

Friday, August 7, 2015

Scratch Built Russian Hut, Eastern Front WW2

This is entry is a bit different since it features a "how to." A "how to build a Russian hut for the Eastern Front in 1/72nd scale out of easy to get materials. The pictures and text are all from contributor MS.

The house is Balsa wood, Woodland scenic grass ( HO railroad ), Elmer’s waterproof wood glue and water base paints.
Before starting any project, RESEARCH,the subject. In this case study pictures of the real thing and then determine how accurate and detailed YOU want/need the the project to be. 
Is it for a highly detailed display or a game, or a good looking game? I like good looking games.
1)  Plan the shape of the building.
2)  Draw the building as if unfolded on the construction material. In this case a sheet of Balsa wood.
If you have never done this before practice by making a box out of a single sheet of paper. Draw it, cut it out and then fold it.
3) Outline the doors and windows and cut them out but save them for later.  The windows can be used for shutters or a piece can be trimmed off and used for the window trim. The door cut outs can be detailed and used as,  well, the doors, open closed or half opened.
4) If you want to make a log building determine the log thickness and mark it on opposite ends of the wall section with dots. Then using the straightedge  connect the dots.
The pencil will groove the wood.  The wood grain of the logs can be made with a pencil,  wire brush, or fine saw blade.(works great on plastic)
Offset the horizontal lines on opposite wall sections so the logs look like they overlap. 
 I also drew the small sidewalls 1/4” longer on each end, 1/2” total. Before gluing the walls together each end is then trimmed back that 1/4” and saved.  I then glued the short wall  1/4” recessed to the adjacent long wall and then glued the 1/4” strip to the outside of the long wall making it look like overlapping logs.
5) Cut out the wall sections and paint.
I like to use watered down paint and even get the wall section damp just before painting. I then use a hair dryer , right away, to dry it.  Balsa will bend when wet so I then paint the back side and dry it.
6) Using a 90 degree block I glue the walls together.
7) Once dry I turn the building upside down on my roof material and mark off the shape, cut it out and attach it to the building.
The thatch is Woodland Scenic grass.  I take a small pinch and cut it to length with a scissors, do not let go. I then spread glue on a small section of roof, starting at a bottom edge.  Then place the grass on it and spread it out.   Wash off any glue on your fingers and repeat.   It’s a very slow process but looks good. Trim the edges with the tip of the scissors.

Good luck and have fun.
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