Mustering the Troops
The club is again buzzing with discussions about Chain of Command, and both terrain and miniatures are being painted up for a North Africa campaign. But what would be our first stop in North Africa?
Any discussion about a campaign should start with what forces you have, and what forces you want (and have the time!) to add to them. In our case, we have a few suitable platoons ready, and some that are more or less finished:
On the support side it's also looking good for both sides, with several players working on new tanks and guns painted suitably for North Africa.
With all these different platoons available, we're looking at various campaigns that would be fun to play. While I'm planning to eventually have the troops to span all the way up to the invasion of Italy, we're initially looking at something earlier to have an excuse to move out some early and mid war toys.
The Battle of Gazala - 1942
One solid candidate would be the Battle of Gazala. This month-long battle, from May to June, saw Rommel lead his German and Italian Panzerarmee Afrika against British, Indian, South African and Free French forces. An interesting line-up, isn't it? The battle saw a lot of high-stakes attacks through the desert, both with infantry and tanks, and both sides gained the initiative at different times, but ended in Rommel pushing the Allies back and overrunning Tobruk.
Basically, all our forces except the Fallschirmjäger and Airborne platoons would be covered by the historical forces of the campaign. There was even Fallschirmjägers who were technically attached to the force but weren't committed, so a simple "what-if" scenario could take care of that. However, there are a few things we would like to add if we're refighting it, such as a M3 Grant (which we lack), and some more transportation since the fighting was conducted over large stretches of desert. Personally, I'm looking at adding some captured Allied vehicles, as DAK was relying heavily on captured trucks due to the difficulty of getting supplies across the sea. In this battle, the Axis fielded both Stuart and Crusader tanks, which would make an interesting addition.
Anyway, we haven't decided yet, but it's always good to have a starting point when planning what new to buy and what terrain to build.
As mentioned, the DAK is being reinforced. I built a full squad with a single LMG and riflemen. I noticed that our first platoon had a bit too few ammo carriers for the LMG teams, so I added a few as well. Finally, there are some more SMG troops (in case you buy extra SMG with support points) and some extra crew for the PaK teams.
This is showing how they look after my initial painting step, where I just add flat coats of the basic paints. After this I'll wash them, and then go over them again with the same paints, and finally highlight them.
While Gazala would be too early for these, I'm making a (probably highly incorrect) tank for the French Foreign Legion platoon. It's a Warlord Games Sherman with crew converted to wear FFL headgear. I'm not even sure if they ever drove Shermans, but this picture is close enough for me to make this "fantasy" style tank:
Anyway, I got a nice decal sheet with a Rubicon M10 tank destroyer (that I'll paint up later, 1942 is much too early! It saw combat in North Africa from March '43), and I took some French and generic Allied decals from it. I then based the layout of the decals roughly on pictures I could find of Free French Shermans, a lot of them from 1944. So, frankentank it is!
Once the decals are dried I'll give them a coat of Micro Sol, and then I'll give the entire tank a coat of gloss varnish, and get to work with weathering it. Even if it doesn't find it's way to the first campaign, it's a fun little project, and suitable for one-off games for now.