Sunday, 4 June 2023

Italian Armour

 Now that I've started an Italian force, I need to consider providing them some support.  Fortunately, I already had a few Italian vehicles!  

The AB41 Armoured Car and Semovente M41 da 75/18 were previously in the collection as German beutepanzer.  I have repainted/reflagged them to their original owners.

In addition, Doug gave me a Renault R-35 that he carefully researched based on the Italian counter-attack against the American landing at Gela during Operation Husky.  It's a beautiful model, and Doug went full on into it, with a commander who can be removed, with a door on a hinge that can be closed.

And as a final bonus, Doug also gave me a turret of a M14/41 medium thank that has been dug into the ground as a 'Tobruk' gun emplacement.

Sunday, 28 May 2023

WWII Italians

 Here is the start of an Italian force to participate in WWII battles.  I am basing them to match the terrain I've prepared for Op Husky, the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily, but they should be flexible enough to allow me to deploy them to other theatres, such as the Italian participation in the invasion of France in 1940 or the Italian soldiers who were deployed to the Soviet Union.

These are from the Wargames Atlantic Italian Infantry plastic box.  As with other WGA products, the box includes an incredible variety of options for assembling the soldiers.  However, there are also some frustrating aspects with the selection of items.  On the positive side of things, each frame includes four different headwear options, including steel helmets, sun helmets (for North Africa or Ethiopia), Bustina field caps and Alpini 'capello alpino', as well as Bersagliari feathers that can be added to any of the other headgear.  Each sprue includes 7 of each head, providing loads of options to personalise figures, especially considering there are 6 figures per sprue.  As for weapons, there is a great selection of rifles (with and without bayonets), carbines, Beretta SMG, and Breda light machine gun, plus several of the uniquely Italian 'red devil' grenades..  The command sprue includes a tripod-mounted Breda M37 MMG.   The box also includes a great selection of axes and shovels, and 7 backpacks (for 6 figures).  On the other hand, there are only 5 haversacks (the soft sack that sits on the left hip), and only 3 bayonets (or possibly these are some other sort of knife - I am definitely NOT well versed in Italian kit).  

My initial plan was to simply paint these figures in Italian grey-green (grigio-verde), and dived into some research to come up with as close a match to that shade as possible. These are the troops in green-grey, including the officer on a square base to help make him stand out from the rank and file. 

As I was reading up on Italian uniforms, however, I found that many soldiers, especially the Coastal Divisions in Sicily, were never even issued this uniform, and instead were issued the light grey fatigue uniform.  I have had great difficulty finding out much about this uniform, but as best I can tell, it is of the same cut as the grey-green uniform, and of a pretty light shade of grey.  So I painted roughly half the troops in each colour.  If you have more info on either uniform I'd love to hear about how I can improve the presentation! The grenadier is throwing a red Italian hand grenade!

Here is the LMG gunner, plus a loader to support him.  I sort of made up the spare magazine in the loader's hand, as I understand that the magazine cannot be removed from the Breda M30, instead requiring a stripper clip of ammo to be fed into it for reloading.  The loader also has a spare barrel and parts kit over his shoulder.  Both gunner and loader are on larger bases to help distinguish them from the riflemen.

This is the tripod-mounted M37 Breda MMG.  It is also fed by stripper clips, which greatly reduced its rate of fire compared to belt-fed MMG used by other powers.  Loader is on a square base to keep him distinct from other riflemen.

Doug recently gave me another 25 shock or pin markers. I suspect that this is part of a subtle campaign on his part to shift me away from using livestock as pin markers!  He assembled these himself from spare rifles and a bunch of sun helmets.  Amusingly, the rifles are a mix of mid-20th century bolt action rifles, with some 19th century (or earlier) flintlock muskets!  The older weapons will only be noticed by someone who looks at the markers very closely.  Thanks for the gift, Doug!  (Doug also gave me an R35 Renault tank, painted up as part of the troop of Italian armour that attacked the American landing at Gela at the start of Op Husky - that tank will be a subject for a future blog post).

Monday, 22 May 2023

Chain of Command - A Delaying Action

This afternoon, I had a few friends over for a game of Chain of Command, my first in many months.  This was the first game of CoC for Sam, a new member of the Trumpeter wargaming club.  Gord and Doug also participated. Of the gaming theatres I was able to offer, Sam chose Op Husky, so I set up the board accordingly.

The scenario was the Delaying Action from the basic rulebook.  Sam took German infantry, and the dice dictated that he would be the defender, to Doug's Canadian infantry attackers.  Based on my own frustration taking on German Panzergrendiers in my own games, I downgraded them to ordinary infantry with just one LMG per squad.  Plenty of time in future games to bring in the challenge of battling against the overwhelming firepower the Germans get with 2 LMG per squad!  

The Canadians, as attackers, had the objective of capturing the rearmost of the German jump-off points, on the right side of the photo below.  The Germans would win by preventing this.

At the end of the Patrol Phase, the two sides had met more or less in the centre of the board.  The Germans placed one of their JoP in the orchard, a second up against the farm building on the right, and the third (the objective of the scenario) just behind the small grain storage tower at the rear of the farm.  The Canadians had one JoP at the board edge where the road crossed off the board, and two more within the small farmyard on the left.

Although he was nominally the defender, Sam determined that the best defence was a good offence, and moved his forces forward to take the prime terrain in the centre of the board.  He deployed a squad in the orchard and left them on overwatch, so that anyone who entered the orchard would receive fire at full effect, but were well placed far enough back that they could not be targetted by anyone outside the orchard.  On his right, he moved squads out of the farmyard to occupy the treeline across the paved road.

Superior German firepower pushed the Canadians back into the left farmyard, despite the effort to use smoke to block the German line of sight.

Germans advancing across the road. Sam was fortunate to roll a number of double phases (two sixes on the command roll) which made this crossing easier as it limited his exposure to flanking fire from Doug's section up the road!

Canadians had set up a good base in their own farmyard, but could not easily move past the stone wall without being exposed to heavy fire from the German MG42s.  

Sam brought up his SdKfz 221 armoured car.  This AC had replaced the MG with a Panzerbusch anti-tank rifle, which was a threat to Doug's universal carriers, but only posed a limited threat to the infantry.

With his infantry bottled up in the farmyard, Doug brought his carriers out to flank the German infantry.  Sam was able to damage one of the carriers, but did not take it out of action, so it was able to continue the advance.

Carrier busts through the rough ground to threaten the German infantry behind!  The Germans managed to throw a grenade into the carrier, but it did not cause any significant damage.

The first carrier charges to the German JoP behind the tower.  Anti-tank rifle tries to take it out, but the small, low profile carrier behind the cover of the wall ends up being a difficult target!

There was actually a bit of back and forth before the next photo.  The carrier was hit but not destroyed, and forced to fall back.  The carrier opened fire on the German 5cm mortar team and drove them off, then dismounted and captured the JoP.  Doug then played a Chain of Command die to end the turn, and thus the game as he had uncontested control of the JoP!

Overall, it was a fun game and a good introduction to CoC for Sam.  For most of the game, it looked like the Canadians were on the back foot, but the flanking move by the carriers ended up turning the tables and gave a surprise win to the Canucks.

I still feel that the carriers are not quite represented correctly in Chain of Command - their invulnerability to infantry fire feels a bit wrong.  The carriers were open-topped, so should be more susceptible to fire.  We are all looking forward to trying another game soon!

Saturday, 13 May 2023

Morris CS9 Armoured Car

 From Jeff Trnka's JTFM, this is the Morris CS9 armoured car.  There were a few of these in the BEF in 1940, serving with the 12th Royal Lancers.

Although it's barely visible, I've given the vehicle commander a scarf in the yellow and red stripes of the 12th Lancers.

As always, a lovely vehicle from Die Waffenkammer!

Sunday, 7 May 2023

Bolt Action Sea Lion - Airfield Defence

 On Friday I brought my 1940 Highlanders to participate in Lisa's Bolt Action Sea Lion campaign.  Fortunately I also brought my 1940 Germans, which stood in as fallschirmjagers under John's control. The scenario had my Highlanders organised as an airfield defence platoon who were required to protect RAF Lympne from a raid by German paras.

This was my first proper game of Bolt Action:  I'd had a playthrough a few years ago with my Jhamjar armies, but this was the first time with 'proper' forces and some guidance from experienced players.

The game started with most of my platoon dispersed around the airstrip, using a few bunkers for defence, waiting for an attack which could come from any direction.  I had a Rolls Royce armoured car and a section of Royal Navy armed sailors off table in reserve.  The Germans rallied their paras off table, and came on to the table from the southwest.

As the Germans came on, my Vickers MG was able to lay on some fire, but it was rapidly flanked and wiped out.  A section of infantry lay down fire from across the airstrip, and kept the Germans occupied while the rest of the platoon moved down the airstrip to engage the enemy.  The reserves came on as well, the Roller being very effective at suppressing the Germans.

Here we see the Germans coming on around the Quonset huts while the Highlanders opposite lay down fire.  To the upper right, another section of Highlanders is starting to react - they waited to see if any more Germans were coming in elsewhere before leaving their position to take on the force coming in to their left.

The Highlanders in the foreground are bravely holding and laying down fire as their mates come along to help them out.  As inexperienced troops, they took casualties pretty every time the Germans fired on them, but they hung on!  Meanwhile, the Germans were veterans and very difficult to kill, but I just kept on piling on firepower so they were too busy rallying off the pins to break out of their positions.

The Rolls Royce has arrived, and is laying down fire on the Germans to its front.

The balance of the Highlanders advance, using the aircraft on the airstrip for cover.

The RN armed sailors have arrived, taking the pressure off the remnants of the Highlander section (now down to just the Bren gun and loader).

This was pretty much the end of the action.  The Germans are falling back, but still control one of the objectives, the Quonset with the green pawn.

  The Highlanders were pleased to have chased away the Germans, but unfortunately for the British forces, the Germans enjoyed greater success elsewhere.  Of the three Sea Lion campaign games on Friday, two went to the Germans, with the Highlanders' success at RAF Lympne being the exception.

What a Mountie!

What a Cowboy is a brand new set of rules from Too Fat Lardies for playing Hollywood-style, wild west shootouts.  I jumped on the pre-order, and when the game arrived, I summoned some of my What a Tanker gaming mates around for a test drive. Apologies in advance for the poor quality of the photos.  I was more focussed on playing the game!

Since I live in Canada, just for fun I decided that we'd play a scenario with Mounties in the Yukon, rather than the Hollywood staples of the dusty Southwest or flat prairie.  We tried scenario 3,  'The Rescue'.  The Mounties had arrested a trapper for DnD and were holding him in their outpost cabin, when his mates decided they needed to bust him out of the hoosegow.  Each side had two shootists and two greenhorns, two armed with six shooter pistols and two armed with rifles.  

Here is the basic layout.  Two Mounties were at the cabin, and two came on at the far end of the board.  The four trappers came in on from the bottom of the picture.

Obligatory moose shot (just be glad I didn't pull out the beavers!)

The trappers advance onto the table

Constable Fraser dives for cover behind the laundry as Sgt King moves up to support with his rifle.

Trapper Bob and Sven Olafson move up alongside the creek.  Constable Macleod is forced to seek cover in the woods.  The little clouds of smoke are pin markers, used when a character dives for cover or hits the dirt.

Sgt Fraser has suppressed trapper Beardy MacBeardface with rifle fire, while the crazy Scotsman has pinned Const Fraser (again).

Standoff between Const Fraser and Angus the crazy Scotsman.

Angus has been taken down, while Trapper Bob tries to make his way into the NWMP cabin.  Not visible, but Const Frobisher is inside the cabin with the prisoner.

Next, Trapper Bob was killed.  At the end of this turn, the two remaining trappers failed their 'Ride or Die Test' and fled the table.

We all enjoyed the game.  As always in a first playthrough, we had a few questions, but since we are already familiar with the What a Tanker engine, the game came to us quite quickly and we were confidently taking our turns.  The game is fast and cinematic.  With a bit more experience, we will be better at using the Bitcoins Bonanza tokens and remembering to check our Desperado cards.  We are also looking forward to getting a chance to use some more advanced characters (gunslingers and legends), adding in horses, getting some Brawlin' (hand to hand combat) and more.

Tuesday, 2 May 2023

Barbed Wire

 Here is a quick and dirty little terrain project.  I have a WWII Op Sealion game coming up on Friday at Bonsor, so I assembled a few barbed wire sections so I can have some obstacles to trip up the nasty invaders!  Bases are plastic, and the uprights are styrene.  Bit of grit, bit of flock, bit of wire and hopefully I'll be able to trip up those fallschirmjagers!

Sgt Schultz added for scale.