Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Battle of Gumbinnen_2

The pictures below were taken at the second planned game of the Battle of Gumbinnen in 1914 in East Prussia that we are recreating on the tabletop. The first entry and explanation for the rules and how the first game went can be found here...Battle of Gumbinnen_1

Inspiration and organization for the battle came from John Tiller's PC game titled East Prussia, 1914. 

I divided Tiller's Battle of Gumbinnen scenario into roughly 3 or 4 equal parts with the intent of playing them out from north to south.

Each individual game would contribute to an overall victory score for the 3-4 battle campaign.

Historically the Germans were attempting a double envelopment. It failed, but in some ways served as a dress rehearsal for the amazing victory at Tannenberg a short time later..

In this scenario there are two main objectives that the German player was ordered to take. Victory  medals would be awarded for the Russians holding the objectives or for the Germans taking them. Other medals would be awarded for attrition.

One objective was the village of Brauponnen on the German left. The other objective was a slight rise on the Russian center left. 

I will attempt to explain how the game went via the pictures below. Note that they are not in an exact order and that I really did not take enough pictures.

This vignette is the division commander and his staff of the Russian 28th Infantry Division. One regiment from the 28th was tasked with the job of holding Brauponnen at all costs. The figures are all from HAT. Note that the Russian officer in the upper center is holding a pistol to the figure holding his head. He is being told to hold the village or else. Retribution for failure was swift in the Czar's army!

The above picture gives a good view of the German left and center left. The bulk of the elite 1st East Prussian Infantry Division has been concentrated to take Brauponnen. Two regiments of field artillery would support the landsers. The small white papers you see are regimental ids. In our games regimental morale and integrity are important and when you play on a corps level it's hard to keep them straight without good markers! The figures in the picture are plastic Airfix (furthest away) and Irregular and IT metal miniatures from England are closer. The artillery is HAT.

A nice shot of Brauponnen defended by 4 battalions of the Russian 112th Infantry Regiment of the 28th ID. Two battalions are deployed in the town with a brigade of artillery that represents 24 actual guns. Another battalion is to the rear of the town and one is deployed on the far Russian right flank. Period pictures show some Russian units continuing to wear the earlier white\gray uniforms that were in vogue ten years prior to 1914.  The unit in the field adjacent to the town is clothed in white\gray. Details like that provide a great visual and certainly break the monotony of earth brown!

Close up of the German left\center. Three 8 fig units are a regiment of three battalions in the scale we use. The command figures in the center represent regimental and brigade commanders who do play a major role in the game. The center figure(s) are from the old Airfix set. The one with his hands in his pocket was affectionately known as "Hindenburg" during the game.

This view looks across the board from the German left\center. Te defenders are from the Russian 29th ID. They are spread thin and most would be called upon to reinforce their comrades in Brauponnen. The figures are HAT and Streletz.

This view looks across the field of battle toward the Russian left\center. A regiment from the 29th ID holds the high ground with a brigade of artillery. They would still be there at the end of the game!

A close up of the Russians from the 112th IR in their white\gray uniforms. I like that unit, hence the close up. Figures are HAT and painted by my friend JZ who contributes to this blog.

This pic shows the German battle line from the German left to the far right. The figures are Airfix. The Koenigsberg Landwehr consisted of the German right. Ordinarily, the Germans would not have fielded Landwehr or Ersatz units but they were hard pressed by the early Russian offensive into East Prussia. On the other hand the 1st East Prussian ID pictured here was considered one of the top German divisions in the entire army. It was quite a contrast in the game. The German player was my son JR. I served as judge and combat photographer with my iPad so please excuse the the clunky thumb print!

Both sides had access to "off board" heavy artillery represented on the board with displays like this one. The gun is from Irregular Miniatures and their Really Useful Guns range. It's a 150mm howitzer. The crew members are HAT. Two wear the 1916 helmet but I was not that picky in putting the display together, Besides, eventually we'll get to 1916 and beyond! The earthwork is from an unknown manufacturer and is made of plaster.

Russian artillery brigade deployed on the high ground. This unit would get into a counter battery duel with the Landwehr artillery opposite it. The Russians would get the better of the Landwehr and the Landwehr infantry would not advance without artillery support. Smart I think.

Scratch built Russian sappers. Russian pioneer units were in reserve and these arrived to support the infantry regiment in Brauponnen. Note the flag and skull and crossbones-quite common for pioneer units! The figures toward the top of the picture are a flame thrower team! Figures by JZ.

Close-up of the flame thrower team-scratch built by JZ.

The German center-mostly Landwehr and Landwehr Uhlans. They did not advance because the German artillery was defeated by the Russian artillery opposite this force. The Uhlans are metal Irregular Miniatures and the infantry close up are Emhar figures from their Franco-Prussian range. I wanted a landwehr or landstrum look to the regiment so what better way than to paint up figures from the previous conflict!

Two segments of the East Prussian 1st ID again. The muddy field bogged them down just enough so they could not support the third regiment just to their left who assaulted Brauponnen directly. The Russian player (JZ) commented that he thought if the Germans had one more turn Brauponnen would have fallen. Time was called however. It was a close game none-the-less with the Russians gaining 6 medals while the Germans gained 5.

One battalion of the 1st ID did penetrate Brauponnen. The German artillery consisting of two full regiments had devastated the defenders prior to the assault making it possible for the battalion to enter the town. This unit should have received a medal even though they were destroyed in a Russian counter attack. The MG Co is taking cover behind a hay bale on the unit's right!

This neat swampy terrain feature was on the far right of the Russian front. There is no way the Ersatz units opposite it would ever cross in time! The river was the board boundary.

The Russian battle line on the Russian left. They are also from the 29th ID. The figures are HAT.

This is the leading regiment of Russian reinforcements from the 25th Livonia ID. The Russian commander wanted to advance against the landwehr opposite them but had to play his activation cards to defend Brauponnen instead. Historically, the Russians reacted well to the German attack and effectively checked the German offensive.

This shot was taken from the Russian center opposite the Landwehr. To the left of the picture is the remnant of the Landwehr Artillery Regiment that lost the counter battery duel with the Russian guns on the high ground.

So far in the campaign the Russians lead the Germans 11 medals to 8. I plan 2 more games in the Gumbinnen Campaign but that is subject to change. We play for fun and the history of it all so winning the campaign is secondary to those objectives.

This means that if the mood strikes me we could go beyond the 2 planned games and feature a few what if type scenarios. All this will preparatory work for the Tannenberg Campaign in the future.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Southern Russia, June, 1942_1

This game was part of a three part series played out be contributors MS and JZ. Report and pictures by MS.

Southern Russia, June 1942

Following the failed Russian May Offensive to retake Kharkov, the German Army is again pushing east, taking advantage of weakened Russian forces. 

The (10 turn) game, is the spear head of a German Panzer Division pushing hard to take a bridge, secure a foothold across the river and to cut off retreating Russian forces.


Defending the bridge itself,  dug-in,  are a Hvy Mg and a 45mm Atg. In a light woods north of the bridge is an 82mm mortar.   Further west, defending a three-way crossroads, also dug-in, is a company of Russian infantry, consisting of 8 Rifles ,2 Lt MG’s and an ATR, and another 45mm ATG.

Leading the German forces to the bridge is their recon force which is divided into a Hvy and Lt Section.  

The Lt Section is made up of a Sdkfz 222 and 250 radio halftrack.

The Hvy Section  has a Pz II, a Sdkfz 123 Radio, a 37mm and 50mm ATG, a 75mm IG, and an infantry company of 4 Rifles 3 Smg’s and 1 Mg.


For the 1st two turns the recon unit is the only German troops on the board.  The Lt Section follows the road and on turn 2, contacts the Russian infantry blocking the crossroads.  The Hvy section 75mm IG sets up and begins engaging the blocking forces 45mm Atg, while the rest head cross-country directly for the bridge.

Turn 3,  two Stug’s , an Ausf D and an F, arrived and engage the roadblock while the Sdkfz 250 races for the bridge and encounters the Russian HVY MG and 45mm ATG.  The HVY MG fire kills one of the crew and pins the vehicle.  The Recon Hvy Section now engages the Russians at the bridge inflicting casualties on the gun crew and killing the HVY MG crew

On the far NW corner of the board 4 BT-7's come on.  They are the lead elements of a retreating Russian Armor Force.

Turn 4,  Stuka(s) 

The Germans lose the 222 to the blocking force's 45mm before it takes a direct hit from the Stug  Ausf D.  Not knowing how many Russians are defending the bridge the Stuka is directed to attack the 45mm defending the bridge.  The already wounded gun is destroyed.   

Turn 4 also saw the arrival of the lead PZ company of three Pz 4’s,  one F1 and two F2’s.

The two F2’s and Stug F, engage the BT’s.  Three shots, three kills.  The fourth turns to run.

Turn 5,  “Stuka!”  

Two T26’s pass the retreating BT7 and turn south towards a small village trying to avoid the Pz 4’s.

 The BT never reaches the edge of the table but the the Pz 4’s miss the T26’s.  They also survive a Stuka attack and will reach the village and take cover there for the rest of the game.  Can you blame them???

Turn 6,    The Hvy company is the first of three motorized infantry companies to arrive.  Due to the appearance of the Russian tanks and infantry riders. the main German force delays it’s advance on the bridge and deploys in defensive while the Recon Hvy Section continues on.

Turn 7, Three T34- 76’s enter the board and engage the two Stug’s destroying them both. ( with a 30% chance to hit the first shot hit with a 02% and the second hit with a 06% )

The Pz 4’s moved out of cover for a better shot at the T34’s and again two shots, two kills. the third turned to run but latter met the same fate as the BT7.

Turn 8,  The blocking force, which had been slowly reduced in strength decided it was time to leave.  The Germans, still covered by the Pz 4’s , began to pack up their paks , ( Ha Ha ! ) and push for the bridge .

Turn 9,  The Recon’s Hvy Section had crossed the bridge except for the Horch Kfz 69 and 37mm, which took a direct hit from the mortar, destroying both the vehicle. and gun and damaging the bridge.  ( The only time in the game that the mortar hit anything. )

The bridge is passable by infantry but will require the first two turns of the next game to repair before it can be used by Veh.’s

Turn 10, The recon infantry advance on the woods and the mortar crew decides to leave.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

35th VA Cavalry Battalion

Although my ACW units can be generic for game purposes I do like to paint them up with a particular unit in mind.

In this case I painted up 22mm ACW Musket Miniatures as the 35th Virginia Cavalry Battalion.

The inspiration for the unit came from my reading of ACW Quarterly and the 35th's participation in a raid on a railroad bridge in Pennsylvania during the Gettysburg Campaign.

The 35th became the first CSA unit to enter Gettysburg prior to the battle. The 35th was on and off part of the famed Laurel Brigade and did service through the the end of the war.

We use both mounted and dismounted elements for an ACW cavalry unit.

Sadly, Musket Miniatures went out of business and the new owner has yet to advertise his intentions.

Although I work primarily with 1\72 (21mm-24mm) plastic figures I do have a number of metal figures that I enjoy as well.

One of advantages of Musket Miniatures was the variety of poses in a metal line.

The 35th ready for dismounted action.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

San Pietro, Italy 1943, German 15th PzGr vs U.S. 1st Armor

This game was fought out by MS and JZ both contributors to this blog. All models pictured are from their collections. Battle Report, pictures and map by MS.

Map of the Battle

Game Summary as the reader views the map: 

The center was engaged first and destroyed, and then both flanks enjoyed some minor success but then they too were stopped by the superior German marksmanship of the day.

Game Details:

Three Co.’s, (3 M4’s each) of the U.S. 753 Armor Bn, reinforced by two Co.’s ( 2 TD’s each) of the 800th TD Bn, supported by three Co’s of the 143d Inf Bn made a frontal assault on the German lines in an attempt to reach San Pietro before the Germans could dig in.

The terrain was covered with hills and valleys dotted with small woods and farms with a dirt road down the middle. Two large, tree topped ridges dominated and marked the front lines, both under U.S. control.

On the US right was A Co. 753 and Co’s B & C of the 143d infantry. To their left, on the road, were both TD Co’s and next to them was B Co 753. On the far left flank was C Co 753 and A Co 147.

German forces were elements of the 15th PzGr Div. Three Ko’s of the 71st Inf Reg , one Schwere Ko of two mg 42’s and two 81mm mortars, a PzJg Ko of three Pak 40’s and two Ko of StuG’s ( 2 StuG’s each).

Following the front line, on the far left was 71st Ko A in a small woods on the reverse slope of a large hill. 200m behind was #8 Pak 40 in a hull down position behind a small rise, but in the open. The only other cover in the German held area was a hill with sever small woods that was traversed by the dirt road, there on each side of the road, in the woods, were the other two Pak 40’s, #’s 6 & 7. #6 was the center gun and the only one dug-in. Behind #6 were the two Ko’s of StuG, behind #7 was the Schwere Ko’s two ‘42s. In a small woods at the far end of the hill behind #7 were Ko’s 2 & 3 of the 71st.

The Americans attacked across the whole front. Both of their flanks were hidden/blocked by the hills and ridges leaving B Co 753 driving up the valley alone and in the open. At just over 500m range Pak guns #6 & #8 opened fire and after a short exchange of fire all three of B Co’s tanks were KOed. 1st Co. TD’s came up on their right to support but also lost an M10. At a score of 4 to 0, 1st Co’s M18 fell back out of the line of fire. (The crew decided it was time to leave. )

A Co 753 advanced to the top of the ridge. Two of the M4’s turned to face the Pak guns while the 3d M4 and A Co 143d continued North. TD Co 2, also advanced along the road to engage the Pak guns and on the US right all three Co’s had crested the ridge. C Co 143 was sent forward to secure the hill and were surprised by A Ko. After a short exchange of fire C Co was lost when a panzerfaust took out the halftrack. A Ko’s success was short lived when A Co 753’s M4’s and B Co 143 overran the understrength A Ko.

While the battle on the hill was taking place the M4’s of C Co 753 found their range and took out Pak guns #7 & #8 with direct hits on the guns. However the M10s of TD Co 2 were lost in the exchange as was an M4 from A Co 753 who fell prey to Pak gun #6 once it had crested the hill, overrunning A Ko.

The two StuG’s of 2d Ko now engaged the lone M4 of C Co. taking it out followed by another M4 of C Co who had been engaging the Paks.

A Co 143d tried for an end around but was first suppressed by mortar fire and then by Ko’s 2 & 3 who were later joined by the StugIII's of Ko 2.

While this was going on on the American left, the success of A Co 753 on the right drew the attention of 1st Ko Stug. and again a brief exchange of fire eliminated A Co 753.

Surviving Americans withdrew.

After regrouping the Germans celebrated their victory, buried their dead, and then withdrew several kilometers, to do it all over again, before the inevitable rain of HE from the skies, which always follows a German victory.

Order of Battle

American forces:
753 Armor 9- M4’s, Lost: 8- M4’s
800 TD Bn 3- M10’s, 1- M18, Lost: 3- M10’s
143 Inf 3- Companies 11 men, 1 Halftrack each, 2-Companies, 1 Ht.

German Forces
71 inf 3- Kompanie 7 men, Lost 1- Komp.
1- Schwere Komp 2 men
J PzJg 3- Pak 40’s, Lost: 2-Pak 40’s
StuG 4- StuG’s

Battle Pictures

 C Co 753 start

From German Observation balloon A Co 753  on left B Co in the middle.

A Co 753 start

B Co 753 and 2d Co TDs

B Co and Pak #6

B Co and Pak #8

B Co and Pak #8

B Co and Pak #8

 B Co and TD’s 1 & 2

Ground level view of B Co

A Co 143  End-Around

C Co’s 753 lone M4 turns to face Pak guns

 Smoke from burning tanks  C Co 753 lower left on Ridge,  B Co and TDs burning in the valley,  A Co on top of hill upper right. Tw o Paks KOed Road on left and upper left

A Co 753 and B & C Co 143 on top of hill.

 B Co

C Co 753

C Co 753

C Co sole survivor. The last M4.