Friday, 17 March 2017

Kursk: Part Six - A Bird in the hand...

...is worth two ZIS 3's in the bush. We did a tidy up move last night. Ross brought down his new and improved burn markers...I'll have to get him to do a 'How to' set of pics.
Meanwhile the StuG's are burning nicely thanks.
 ...and from another angle
 The Light Flak Battalions feel confident to leapfrog forward...
 ...and some of the artillery are moving through the clear ways of the minfields
Gently does it!
 The 150's prepare to follow
 The horse drawn stuff is just as quick cross country as the motorised in Rapid Fire!
 Working off recce photos, FGA is sent out to hit known targets in preparation for the next push
 ...but the place
 ...is covered
 ...with a phalanx
 ...of Russian Flak
 It quickly sees of the Hs 129 with a withering deluge of anti-aircraft fire
 For now, the dug in T34's are safe from above
 Along the embankment, and from concealed positions, the ZIS 3 76.2 anti-tank guns pour fire onto the reorganising German armour
'I think there's something wrong with our sights today comrade'
 ...but they get little joy
 ...the riposte is swift and devastating
 Guns bark...
 ...and are silenced
 ...by the lead Tigers. Wittmann, the humourless automaton Tiger ace killed by the British in Normandy, said he was more pleased by knocking out A/T guns than tanks as they were the harder to spot and hit
 The dismounted OP team get onto the tracks of the Orel-Kursk railway line
'Hey Hans, why are we doing recce's job for them'
 ...and accidentally spring the anti-tank rifle ambush prematurely
 The Pz III N's get some shots in to deal with the problem
 Initially, at least, the Pz II N was allocated to the Tiger battalions for just such circumstances a this but were withdrawn once the battalions were fully up to strength
 Damaged vehicles come into HQ at this point for repair
 86 Infantry Division has received orders to consolidate the trench system along with the cover afforded by their attached StuG battalion
 They explore the labyrinth while awaiting the artillery and heavy Flak Battalion to come forward and beef up the defence
 18 Pz Div is still pretty intact and begins to realign to the railway
 ...once it is safely across the trench system on their flank
 Tigers get to hull down positions while 9 Pz carries out a tricky manoeuvre transferring lorried infantry to half-tracks while under observation

...and the Russians just wait, keeping their powder dry and soaking up the Germans fury.

Next: Panzer marsch!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Kursk Intermission - Fraternity of Wargamers

Is it impossible to do it all yourself? No. But much wouldn't be attempted, reduced by the input of one mind, one set of hands and skills. It would be much less fun, less surprising and lonelier in my opinion. I've nothing against lone players at all and would be one myself if I had no alternative. The following happened in the midst of starting up the current Kursk game and demonstrates to me how much richer my experience is for friends.
Mark sent me a set of Russian 122mm howitzers knowing my shortage (I'm only 4'3") after a discussion of the current and prospective projects we all have on the go towards future games
 Used to plastics, and when I get it wrong with metals used to gluing my palm to my forehead, I swore, stamped, whined, dribbled and finally wept my frustration in not being able to get any results.
 Entre Alan, closely followed by Colin, to wipe my nose and change my nappy.
"Schmatta!?" they cried in unison. It's a word used to truncate the question of what was generally ailing one and causing such frustration.
"Can't make it stick" says I, using a screwdriver to prize my palm off my forehead. Before I knew it the lads were filing, cutting, clamping and generally using their brains and knowledge rather than my method of two buckets of superglue and a paint roller.
 Once the assemblages were dry I painted them up...the easy bit
 Next problem was crew. I need lots of crew so I asked for any ideas on our Whatsapp circle. Mark said to use WW1 Russian artillery crew and Colin said he would put WW2 heads on them. So Mark posted Colin the figures he had and Colin decapitated them and attached aforementioned heads he had in his usual Dr Colinstein manner...
 ...then forwarded them to me for painting and basing. I think you'll agree that the results are really very WW2 ish.
 It's not an isolated occurrence by any means but it has shown me the value, or one of the values, of group thinking and action among friends of the same mindset.

Anyway, I just thought I'd pass it along. I'm sure most folk can recall such instances and it makes the hobby all the better for it.
 On another subject I was asked for a couple of full table shots by Stryker. These were about the best I could do given the extent of space and amount of gear. You really can't see an awful lot of what is going on.
 ...the objective end...
 And as I was wandering around the table this afternoon I took a couple of gratuitous pictures because they appealed to me.
I got a bulk lot of Altaya metal ready made stuff very, very reasonably for stuff that's tricky to build...mainly Flak (like this one) and some artillery about to go over an ASM resin pontoon bridge
 A use for old done kits that have already been ransacked for parts...
 Waiting behind coffee stir...er...reinforced hull down positions
PSC really do a lovely T34...I must try a Zvezda. I use mostly Armourfast T34's but still count on some Airfix and Matchbox types in the order of battle.


Next: Part Six - 'Birds of a feather flock together'...or, 'a stitch in time save nine'...or is it 'don't eat yellow snow'?

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Kursk - Part Five: Out of the Frying Pan...

As per the historical situation the Panzer Corps at the tip of 9th Army 's attack has just about punched through the first defensive belt and is half way to its first of two major objectives.
"Wait for it....wait for it..."
The PAK front is revealing itself and getting the lead tanks into a kill zone where the cross fire can be the more effective
"Sorry comrade. I do that when I'm nervous"
 Germans have their suspicions confirmed when a bunker lets rip. They concentrate fire to suppress it.
 It's taken out. There's more to come though
 Air support by the Luftwaffe is in the ascendent again...top cover....
 ...and a bomb run from medium height onto that Russian support line of katyushas and 122mm guns
 The Staffel get's a hit. Scratch one katyusha.
"No, no. It's up there!"
 85mm AA tries desperately to drive off the JU 88's...unsuccessfully
"Hey, come back! We've signed for that!"
 Time for some of the German artillery to relocate
 ...because it's all going so well...isn't it?
 Surprise! While clearing the trenches the Germans are close assaulted by Russians waiting in their bunkers for the enemy to pass them by. Suddenly the trench is all shouts, shots and struggling men.
 In an 'heroic action' (according to the rules) or a 'stupid action' according to everyone else, two Ivans' try to attach magnetic mines to a passing PzIV....
 After the bomb run the gunners are ordered to advance to the rear...
 The first action throws the Germans out of the trench with losses. A second SMG assault group appear from further down the trench. The Panzergrenadiers are in a desperate fight.
 Unaware of the enemy appearing in the area just cleared, the panzers advance continues
 Short and brutal the fight is done. The last Russian dies on the bayonet.
 Over go the FH18's and...
 ...the horses too
 On the left flank the German armour approaches the railway embankment with trepidation...
 Back in the trench line the mortar battery has nowhere to go and nothing to lose
 Some survivors try surrendering...
 ...while the Germans systematically clear up...
 The armour is cheered to see the back of the nearest artillery receding into the distance
 The 105mm OP team dismount and take to a former anti-tank position
 The mortars get a stay of execution when massive fire power from the 150mm FH's and 210mm morsers bracket them...
 Yet another OP team gets right forward to former Russian positions
 Panzer III N's mount the embankment to have a peak into Pandora's box...
 The final call of the 82mm battery is on their former infantry positions now occupied by the remnants of 86 Div.
 ...the armour is through...just about...
 ...but the clearing goes on mercilessly
 ...looking for more hidden bunkers...
 More Russians appear!
 The fight goes on. Another tank burns.
 Optimistic Russians
 Furious Germans (Collin's got this thing about shooting prisoners but he says he's just following orders...dice)
"What do you mean which-ones-are-the-Germans?"
 Just then a Pe2 sneaks in for an attack...but misidentifies the target!
 It appears the field is left to the Germans. Just the detritus of war left lying around.
"Hey, Hans. Can you smell burning?"
Now to reorganise for the next objective. Under their air cover POL, ammo and artillery can come forward.

The Germans found all through the battle that areas they had supposedly taken were reoccupied by the Russians. They were constantly sending forces back, or not getting the reinforcement they were expecting, because of this Russian tactic.

Next: Pushing on to the objective