Thursday, March 29, 2012

Anti-Tank Pillbox Bunker - 15mm FoW - WIP

After several enjoyable games now of FoW, including the transition from V2 to V3, my gaming pals and I are looking to start a Normandy based campaign, or at least a series of linked battles, from the D-Day book. 'Cutting the Cotentin' for the Yanks and 'Breville Gap' for the Brits. The scenarios are also available for download from the FoW website.

We also considered that if we are going to do a Normandy campaign we should at least start properly with the beach assaults, and again a Utah beach, and a Sword beach mission scenario are available for download too. D-Day scenarios here.

So I need to make a beach and defenses for my plucky German FestungsKompanie to defend!

In an earlier blog post I showed some simple Minefields and Barbed Wire Entanglements. I have pressed on and made several more of these now. I have also made a bunch of trench lines too, I'll show these in another post.

But the heart of the defence, has to be the bunkers, and whilst my boxed set FestungKompanie came with simple Tobruk style MG bunkers and also Tank Turret bunkers made from captured French tanks, I needed something a little bigger, so..

I've had my eye on the boxed set of Pillbox's from Battlefront. But I couldn't help think, I could make those, if only I could source the gun barrels.

Well I have to say I have found Battlefronts Customers services exceptionally helpful, and they were able to sort me out a set of gun barrels. So with that motivation I set to, to make the bunkers. I used the image from the boxed set on BF website for scale, plus the gun barrels themselves gave me a good reference point.

I also enjoyed going through the article series on the FoW website called "Pimp my Bunker", which inspired me to have a go at making them at little more than the basic plain bunker.

So here's what I have managed so far.

Pillbox with defilade walls

They are made from dense insulation foam, cut to shape. The inwardly layered gun embrasure caused some difficulty.  I initially tried etching it out with a dremel rotary tool but this left an annoying burr in the foam I couldn't get rid of. I then tried cutting it out but I struggled to get the correct angle with the knife. I tossed the whole lot in the bin at that point and gave up...

An hour later I had a thought and fished them back out of the bin. I rummaged about in my store of modelling bits and came up with some 2mm plasticard sheet I had. This I cut out into squares and cut a central square out of two, sequentially smaller and stuck them together. I then drilled out the central hole to take the magnet, and stuck another piece on the back to hold the magnet in place. This whole piece was then recessed into the front of the pillbox.

Rear defilade wall for entry door

So that would give me the basic pillbox bunker shape, and embrasure. I then based them on more of the 2mm plasticard, and allowed space at the back to add a small defilade wall for the bunker rear door, made from 3mm MDF. The whole thing was then skimmed coated in Polyfilla. 

Stug shown for scale

Then going from the Pimp my Bunker article, I grabbed a crepe bandage from work and started teasing it out to see how it will work as a camo net. I used the Dremel again to add the blasted out battle damage areas. The exposed rebar hooks are 15amp fuse wire. I found this wire to be just the right thickness. Sadly I ran out after doing what you see below:

The 88mm gun barrel, awaiting its own magnet for attachment

So that's where I am up to now. Once I get more fuse wire I can press on with the rest of the hooks and add more rebar in the damaged areas.

The various guns available - Ive prep'ed the big ones ;-)
Looking forward to blasting some allied armour with them...

Special thanks to Mike Haycock, at Battlefront Customer Service.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Flames of War - Battle Report

Well the Analogue Hobbies Winter Painting Challenge has drawn to a close and I found myself mid-placed which I am more than happy with. It has motivated me to keep painting, and in the 3 month period I managed to assemble and paint up a whole new set of troops for my FoW Wehrmacht forces:
  • 23 x Sd Kfz 251/1 D half tracks including the HQ command group and infantry teams
  • MG42 HMG platoon.
  • PaK 40 platoon
  • NW41 15cm Nebelwerfer platoon.
I'm just now putting finishing touches to my 8cm Mortar platoon which sadly just failed to meet the deadline for the end of the challenge, but no matter.

So a couple of my FoW gaming pals and I had Friday night pencilled in for a game, and I was looking forward to trying out some of this new equipment.

Brett has his Yank Armoured Infantry forces, and Paul was looking to try out his Russian forces. So I came up with the idea of playing the Surrounded mission from V3 FoW rules.

The theme of the game was that the German late war forces are being pushed back on both fronts and squeezed between the two opposing enemies forces.

So I thought about what the local German commander might do in such a situation? The answer seemed obvious, find some high ground and defend it.

I set up the battlefield with a very large hill running the central narrow width of the board, upon which the Germans would make their last stand. I placed many roads crossing the hill and around it, themed one side of the hill as Western Europe with a small village, fields and hedges. The other side I themed a little more open with woods, a stream and marshy ground, as an Eastern Europe idea.

It would give the attackers some cover to hide behind but may also slow their advance towards me.

I picked a 2000 point German force in which I could use my horde of half tracks, Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers, but to give them a little edge, I chose Panzer Lehr, which would give them a load of AT assets; panzerfausts, panzershreks and tank hunter teams. Sadly the tank hunter teams were still not painted but they didn't detract too much from the game.

I added Panzer IVs to the force and also proxied my StuG's as Jagdpanzers (as they are exactly the same in points costs and stats, and Jagdpanzers are themed for Panzer Lehr). I obviously included my PaK40s and NW41's. I added a little fire power with a section of HMGs, and finally expecting to be getting buzzed by allied aircraft which are much improved in V3, included 2 Sd Kfz 7/2 (armoured) 3.7cm anti-aircraft guns (proxied by British M5 Half-tracks).

Brett took his own 'half track horde', backed by Stuarts, Priests and 57mm Anti-tank guns. Priority p47's were also the order of the day.

Paul took two platoons of Russian foot sloggers, backed up by a platoon of lend lease Churchills and 3 behemoth ISU 122mm Assault guns.

So that was a 1000 points each for the two allied commanders.

After objectives were placed as I expected, as far apart as possible, I deployed my troops on the hill defending the entire perimeter. Lets just say it was very cosy on that hill top, and I knew template artillery and and aircraft was going to hurt. I fully expected to get pounded and eventually overwhelmed.

There was much hushed 'Yalta' like muttering between the allied commanders and they finally came up with a plan, loading one side of the board (Western Europe) with most of the troops, and sitting the priests behind a wood, protected by the 57mm guns on the other.

And so the game set off. As expected the allied plan was to bombard me with artillery and air, and engage in a long range tank duel, to soften up the German defenders before committing their assault to capture the objectives...

Their plan started to unravel a little as my anti-aircraft guns repeated proved to be more than a match for the P47s, and over the course of the whole game, all aircraft were either shot down or failed to be called in.

The priests artillery proved annoying and I frantically tried moving things out of his ranged in guns, but the hedges on the hill top proved equally frustrating, as I repeatedly bogged down trying to cross them to get out from under the artillery.

I long pondered the idea of coming down off the hill, to deal with the Priests but the 57mm guns put me off. Whilst the 57mm could make a nasty mess of my half tracks, it has a 'No HE' limitation, which meant my infantry could have attacked them with impunity, but the then the Priests themselves had '50 cals' which could have made a mess of my infantry teams...

Meanwhile the the long range tank duel between my Panzers, StuGs and PaK 40s and the Churchills and ISU's continued and we each started knocking out opposing tanks. I lost half each of my Panzers and Stugs while I managed to knock out 3/4s of the Churchill platoon. The ISU's at long range were just too tough, I only managed to bail them a couple of times. I must say through this period, my PaK40's did excellent work and were well worth their points.

Eventually the allies, with time beginning to press launched their assaults. Russians moved up through the woods on one flank, while the Yanks with typically gusto called forward their half tracks, mounted up and charged forward ATD-ing toward the other objective, with Stuarts following in support.

I surveyed the scene and sat waiting to face the Russians whilst I tried to bring as much firepower as I could towards the charging half track column.

The half tracks took a heap of fire, but my dice failed me and I only managed to destroy one and bail a further 3... The Yanks had survived and next turn dismounted and charged up the hill...

The next couple of turns saw dramatic infantry charges go in on each flank of my hill, the Russians supported by the lone Churchill which was bailed by the 'Shreks, and thus captured. The Russian infantry followed but did badly in the assault and were beaten back. The German defenders managing to consolidate back into their flank wood.

The Yanks tore into my meagre defences that were left on the other flank and started to get a foot hold. I hung on tenaciously, and managed to whittle them down with MG fire from many differing teams and Rocket fire from the Nebs.

And that was where the game was called a draw, both sides still contesting both objectives, but midnight had been reached!

An excellent game full of suspense and drama which went down to the wire...

Here's a few pics of the game:

The priests bombard from cover of the woods, one of their number having been destroyed by counter fire from the NW41's

The Germans defending the hill.

Russians and Yanks mix it up ready to bring all to bear on the Germans

Russian infantry prepares to assault

The Churchills blaze after the exchanges of tank and anti-tank fire

The Yank half track charge up the flank. They were quite lucky not to be totally wiped out in this manoeuvre

Saturday, March 17, 2012

15cm Nebelwerfer NW41 Platoon - FoW

Another addition to my growing Wehrmacht forces; a 15cm nebelwefer Rocket platoon.

This is another of my entries for the AHWPC.

So finally I have some artillery support for my troops.

One section of 3 launchers. Its a start, I could add another pack to make the platoon two sections of three launchers each.

Close up of launcher team

Command SMG team

Observer team

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dusky maiden

A return to my Legends of the High Seas era, with a painted civilian 'Strumpet' figure.

The model is a 28mm scale Reaper miniature, part of a set.

I have seen the model painted several times on various blogs and wargames websites featuring Pirate gaming.

She was painted as part of my entries in to the AHWPC.

I thought I would give the model a different twist, in part due to the outburst on the domestic front, my prior 'strumpet' caused (as seen above in blog header picture!)

As you can see from the side bar picture of 'Scott & Tracey', my wife is a 'dusky maiden', who took a little umbridge at me painting a blonde temptress. To be honest I had never thought twice about it - just liking the combination of colours I put together for the model...

So amends needed to be made to earn back some 'brownie points' on the home front...

Therefore thinking laterally about my main inspiration for 'piratey action', I contemplated a certain Jack Sparrow's , ahem Captain Jack Sparrow's, voyages...
So if Jack had been as far from the Caribbean as Singapore, he and other pirate and merchant captains could well have stopped off in the Indian subcontinent on the way past, and thus we have the sorry tale of Prashanthi Maduralawa, who fled from the arranged marriage that was lined up for her, and fell in love, and off to sea, with her bonnie sailor boy... but her sad tale continues as her beau loses his life in ship to ship action fighting off a pirate vessel, who take the crew prisoner, and poor Prashanthi ends up in Tortuga, having to resort to the oldest profession to make ends meet...

So a brown skinned beauty, with very OTT make up, but it had to be this gaudy to stand out against the dark skin, and to attract her clientele!

So there we have her, a nice change of pace from my recent WWII 15mm activities, and a worthy entry I hope for the AHWPC, special category of  "Sarah's choice". Sarah being Curt's wife, who is hosting the challenge.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

German PaK40 7.5cm Anti-tank gun platoon - FoW

My latest submission to AHWPC, my German PaK40 7.5cm Anti-tank gun platoon, for Flames of War.

These 4 guns will hopefully spit death and destruction to the advancing allied armour. I will be able to field them alongside my regular Grenadier forces, Festungskompanie beach defenders and also my mobile Armoured Panzergrenadiers.

They may be fielded as a platoon of 3 or 4 guns depending on the options taken. If taken as a platoon of 3 guns then the 4th spare gun team can be added to the 15cm Nebelwerfer platoon that I have just completed.

I painted the poles on the sides of the gun trails in a striped fashion, after perusing many images on the internet. However it appears that these striped poles may only have been used by artillery gun teams to aid their range surveying, and thus not by anti-tank gun teams.

The poles may just have been used to clean the barrel of the anti-tank gun... but then why would they need three poles? There are clearly three poles, two on one side and one on the other. Wouldn't one pole be enough? Oh well, I'll see what sort of comments this post generates, and if it seems indeed that these should not be striped, I'll paint them over.

Pressing on now with 8cm Mortar platoon.

Monday, March 05, 2012

German HMG (MG42) platoon - FoW

Another entry finished for the the Painting Challenge; my German HMG platoon.

This comprises four MG42 teams and an SMG platoon command team

Painting Challenge

They will be useful for my Grenadier Company, and FestungsKompanie, and also Panzergrenadiers.

The recent V3 rule updates have made such platoon more useful now - when gone to ground they get a 3+ infantry save, rather than their more normal 5+ gun team save. And they can keep spitting out a healthy amount of lead when they are pinned...

I look forward to mowing Tommy and Yanks on the Normandy beaches!

Or hordes of Ivan, on the eastern front.

After my usual paintjob, I embellished the base with Silflor buffalo clumps, and static grass.

Now I must press on with final varnish of the PaK40 platoon...
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