Friday, 19 September 2014

More Luftwaffe planes ...

Just before I moved onto the Battle of Britain Spitfires a chance conversation with a fellow wargamer resulted in the dispatch of some unfinished Luftwaffe kits to my door as part of a communal "build" for a larger game. This will represent 1940 German "air assets". In total three Stukas and a Ju88 destined to bomb the French. A dibble and dabble of glue completed the part-assembly of a Stuka and Ju88 (see below):  

So two more Stukas to go before the RAF gets its second turn!

Note: There are a lot of bare plastic kits waiting at the end of the production ready for a mass paint.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Birthday presents ...

Trying to keep my mind off the Scottish Independence vote, so I decided to look back at my recent birthday presents (see below):

Some nice catches:
  • Three 1/144 Pacific planes, I can now make up a flight of Wildcats (3) and Dive Bomber Dauntlesses (3) with the above acquisitions
  • A must buy when I saw it Zvezda 1/72 or 20mm BEF 2pdr (I now have a troop of three)
  • The old Matchbox (now Revell) 1/76 ANZACS, full of character, spot on! 
Dare I turn on the telly/radio today?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Lt Pringle's "Bloody Battle for Maltot" (Chain of Command): Part 4

With the center lane of advance effectively blocked by deadly MG42 fire, it fell to Second Squad to "right flank" the German strong-point in the church. Sensing the danger the 'last German MG42 team' moved into a blocking position. Looking for an opportunity to counterattack the Germans gambled in trying to take out Second Squad before they had fully formed up. Unfortunately for them their bullets went high, producing only minor amounts of 'shock'. The British player then had a stroke of luck just when he (I) needed it, a "continuation"(another go) courtesy of good (lucky) command dice. Knowing they had two back-to-back goes, Second Squad confidently formed up for the attack (see below):

Second Squad first laid down some (moving) suppressing fire, getting very, very lucky with a KIA and NCO wound (see below):

Meanwhile Lt Pringle was calming the remnants of First Squad by removing their 'shock' markers (see below):

Second Squad got down to business. The Bren team stay eyed behind to provide covering fire but Sergeant Walker led his boys in screaming like a banshee, bayonetes fixed! Only to find "dead" Germans. The Bren team had popped the lot off rolling an incredible three kills (see below):

Smiling at his good fortune, Sergeant Walker regroups Second Squad as Lt Pringle leads his First Squad men lush Second Squads Bren team "left flank" under cover of the ubiquitous "two inch" mortar's smoke barrage in the good old fashioned, traditional British Army way (see below):

Faced with a developing pincer movement the Germans called it a night. The German Commander was resigned to a life of captivity, however a young Landser pointed to the church crypt and explained it led through to the adjacent graveyard by means of a collapsed culvert. The position was thus abandoned to the Tommies.

Maltot fell a day ahead of schedule. 16 Platoon was recognised as a major factor in contributing to the success of the operation. Lt Pringle was mentioned in dispatches. There was some talk of a medal but the paperwork was lost in the hubbub created as the battalion moved on. His German counterpart was interviewed by Signal as a 'fanatical defender of the Reich' and was recommended for an Iron Cross. The rigours of the Normandy campaign meant that the cauldron was likely to consume him in the very near future.

A damn fine game!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Lt Pringle's "Bloody Battle for Maltot" (Chain of Command): Part 3

Fearing they were in danger of losing the fire-fight the German commander deployed another MG42 team to "suppress the British suppressing fire-team!" (If that makes sense) They took position in the church courtyard. The satuatory British response of smoke failed to cover its objective (see below):

Where smoke failed a Bren team succeeded. The total steadily rose to seven German dead. The Germans were now down to half effectives and with a wounded NCO to boot, things were looking rather bleak (see below):

At this critical moment the German Commander seeing his wounded comrade cradling a MG42 in his arms, but unlikely to make it back through the church door, plunged out into the maelstrom. Braving the incoming Bren fire he ran to his friend, tugging and heaving him to safety (see below):

Rather than admiring the bold courage of the heroic act the British Commander (me) coldly lamented a lost opportunity of finishing off the German "higher command" (war changes people I guess). The sense of this cold hearted logic was reinforced when together with two Landser reinforcements, the German officers re-manned the church steeple and pored deadly fire down on the British First Squad (see below):

Three men down in as many seconds. Lt Pringle was agog. From the cusp of victory the situation had spiralled out of control. Three dead and a squad nearly broken, the situation required desparate action (see below):

Lt Pringle raced forward and took control from Sergeant Hoops. The poor man was frozen in shock, half his men were already dead. As Pringle barked the order to retire, the MG42 spoke again, another British PBI fell and Pringle felt a sharp stinging sensation in his lower arm, his hand going numb with a curious tingling sensation that started to burn and hurt like hell. Swearing like a man possessed somehow Pringle extracted his men despite the zipping hornets of death zipping through the underbrush (see below):

How he had not been killed Pringle simply did not know, but the burst of Bren from the fire-base house brought him to his senses. There was still a job to be done. "Route one" was closed but Second Squad still stood a fighting chance to be able to 'flank right'. However yet another German squad armed with a MG42 barred the way.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Lt Pringle's "Bloody Battle for Maltot" (Chain of Command): Part 2

The FOO, Bombs, was quickly 'on net' and active, humming quietly to himself. The incoming rounds of MG42 were of little real interest. Jerry's shooting was off today, the bullets mostly passing harmlessly overhead. "How soon do you want it in Pringle old boy? You know we are technically danger close!" queried Bombs. "No point making a mess of it Bombs, take your time and bring it in steady, it's going to be a long, long day by the looks of it" answered Lt Pringle. The battery duly sent in a ranging round which landed spectacularly smack on target. "Corker and a bit of a pity" thought Bombs, "A 'fire for effect' would have beautiful!" Still smirking with satisfaction Bombs raised the receiver to his lips, but just before calling in the barrage he took one last peak through the binoculars for any last minute adjustments. He caught sight of the muzzle flash, but the bullet had already smashed through his brains before Bombs registered the danger. Barker Tango Five was off air, Lt Pringle witnessed the body's bloody recoil and flying bits of wireless set. He was alone, feeling a bloody fool for letting Bombs set up in a hot position, despite his initial foreboding, Bombs had thought it better to get in sooner rather than later. Never underestimate Jerry (see below, Bombs RIP skull counter):

The 'fire-base' kept up a constant dual with the MG42 team in the church steeple. The Brens were getting the better of it but a cry from a British rifleman confirmed that the traffic was not all one way (see below):

However "trade" had been far heavier back to the church, the MG42 fell silent with all the team dead, the floor slippery with the wet blood. The baseline Bren team turned its attention to the courtyard MG42 team taking up position (see below):

The British infantry pushed forward taking advantage of the lull in harassing fire (see below):

Lt Pringle had managed to return to the point where he had reached the day before. He knew he had to keep the pressure up on the Germans. Movement was the key (see below):  

So far the British had the best of it, however the potential of the MG42 to inflict devastating casualties always distilled caution into Lt Pringle. Already too many of 16 Platoon won't be returning home (other than in a box) because of this "disrespect".

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Lt Pringle's "Bloody Battle for Maltot" (Chain of Command): Part 1

The familiarity of the Maltot tabletop was depressing. A sanguine Lt Pringle fumbled with the map. The smell of death lingered in the air. Lack of sleep and a nagging, hacking cough made the simplest of actions painfully slow. He couldn't help but stare at the big red brick building Sgt McCoy had died in, the news still seemed surreal. 16 Platoon's blood was up. The thought of the previous day's fumbled advance stung, but not as much as sight of the line of white crosses marking shallow graves. Already 16 Platoon's patrols were pushing forward towards the imposing Maltot church steeple, which in its battle scarred state looked more like a "bunker" than a place of worship (see below):

Lt Pringle's map reading had let him down badly so the jump-off positions were much further away from the church than he had hoped for. First squad deployed into a ruined French cottage giving them at least "hard cover" protection. Lt Pringle had agonized over his support decision, armour seemed a bad choice in the Maltot suburb, too many ambush points. A Vickers HMG was a tempting choice but as luck would have it Lt Pringle bumped into "Bombs" a FOO, the very one who had saved his bacon in his first real battle. Pringle had passed "Bombs" a bottle of liberated brandy and the two had finished it off last night. "Bombs" was in fine mood this morning, conscienciously running through his final equipment checks before joining 16 Platoon with a "three inch mortar battery in his back pack" (see below):

Second Squad with its still wounded NCO was deployed further back as the designated support group in the "fire base" house on the left side of the battlefield. The idea being to keep the church tower under constant harassing fire from a well aimed Bren gun bursts (see below):

"Bombs" was straight into the fray. The plan was to smoother the Church under a constant barrage of 3" mortars as the troops pushed forwards (three squadies had already rushed ahead to try and get to the next ruined house). So an inconspicuous figure with a pair of binoculars crouched in amongst with First Squad, nipping up the stairs to "get a better look at Jerry". He fiddled  with a mysterious black box and the air hissed with the crackle of static as he signed into the mortar battery (see below):

A small, but subtle movement in the Church Tower caught the attention of 16 Platoon's Bren guns. A burst of Bren fire from the fire-base drew first blood as a Landser fell, so far all was going to plan. The "Bloody Battle of Maltot" had resumed and the church steeped again was becoming a bullet magnet (see below):

"Bombs" brought a ranging shot smack down on the church, as third squad queued up behind the hard cover. It's Bren team was pushed forward into a firing position. With thre British Bren teams in place and only one dreaded MG42 firing back the fire equation seemed heavily stacked in the British favour. If the three inch mortars could be brought in, then this could turn into a "walk in the park" (see below):

The German Commander however had no intention of giving up so easily, his grim faced determination betrayed no fear, although they were aware of the enormity of the defensive task. All told there were only fourteen German ranks at the start of the game. Now they were down to thirteen with the prospect of a mortar barrage. Desperately he scanned for the tell-tale glint from a pair of spying binoculars. Nothing. The best the Germans could do was shoot up a house exchanging fire with them and hope for the best.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Impetus: Renaissance versus Medieval

My 350 points Italian Wars Renaissance army deployed in a compact formation. My newest unit (of Mounted Arquebusiers) had reached the 'minimum painting' threshold to be allowed in my eyes to take to the field (see below):

I was facing a Burgundian Ordinance (packed with Wars of the Roses English Long-bowmen) medieval army, the nearest historical opponent I could find on the Impetus battle club night. It was a long, long, long line of Men-At-Arms/Spears backed by a rear rank of Longbows for the most part, with no cavalry (see below):

The battlefield was constrained by impassable and rough terrain, leaving a Central Valley for my invading Pike Blocks to concentrate on. As my army (quite unusually) was devoid of artillery and I was facing an army of massed bows, there was no point waiting so I advanced. The only subtle thing I did was to swing my left wing of cavalry to the left to get them out of arc from the dreaded English Longbowmen (see below):

Onwards came the colourful Italians, engaging the Burgundian skirmish line and having the better of the affair. Through a hail of arrows the Pike advanced into contact. After an initial in stately Italian recoil the momentum of the huge mass of infantry was the deciding factor and the Burgundian line stated to buckle (see below):

The embarrassing buckle turned into dangerous bulb and although losing the supporting smaller Italian Pike Block, the main (three layers thick and with the C-in-C General in it) Italian Pike Block swept the Burgundian/English infantry away. On the flanks both Burgundian Knights and Germanic Mounted  Men-At-Arms were waiting their chance to test the mettle of the remaining Burgundian/English infantry. However they were not needed as the Burgundian/English had to their dismay also lost both of their leaders to the sharp "pointy points" of the victorious Italian Pikemen. The contest was therefore effectively over (see below):

I sat dazed an befuddled at the result. I had not played Impetus in such a long while and had forgotten how literally bursting with surprises it can be. The combat is quite brutal and the fact that the Pike Blocks could rasp their way through the English infantry came as a complete shock to me. Equally stunned was the Burgundian/English commander's disbelief in his longbow backed infantry had failed to stop the Pike, the multi-armed phalanx being less successful that perhaps "blocks" of pure bow would have been. Still it (Impetus) had something which will bring me back to the well again and again!

My goal is to raise a 600 Italian Renaissance point army, which means at least another Pike Block is needed. The bigger the armies the more the 'feel' of the battle changes. The test to me will be two wings (mounted) and a center (infantry) command. First up I must finish off the painting on my Mounted Harquebusiers before I move onto more Pike!