Now that the Gebirgsjäger platoon is starting to take shape, I can't let them be ordered around by an ordinary Heer officer. So I converted up a Platoon commander (am I right that it would be a Hauptfeldwebel? Army command systems confuse me) with pistol to bark orders at them.
I squeezed in something extra this painting session, and added an intrepid cameraman to follow him around as well! We have been mucking around with ideas about secondary objectives for the campaign games, and extras such as war correspondents, downed pilots and spies is a terrific way to get the creative juices flowing.
The commander is simply a conversion from the Perry Miniatures DAK box, with puttees and Gebirgsjäger insignia added with green stuff. The cameraman is from Warlord Games.
In our test version of the Gebirgsjäger platoon for 1941 we decided to add a mandatory AT rifle team. This is to represent the vast amount of Panzerbüchse 38/39 rifles that were available to every rifle company at the time. These would gradually be more and more likely to be left behind, as they were heavy, cumbersome, and increasingly useless as lighter pre-war Soviet tanks were replaced by better armoured ones such as the T-34..
The miniatures are again converted plastic Perry DAK, and the cover is built out of sculpey. I really didn't know much about the Panzerbüchse 39 until I saw this demonstration video from a US auction house. Far from necessary to grasp its use on the tabletop, but could be interesting if you are into how the firearms functioned mechanically:
The Axis forces started the campaign strong: they won the patrols on both flanks, while the centre saw a stalemate with neither side gaining the upper hand. However, they have also taken slightly more casualties if I'm not mistaken, and those are costly in this campaign ruleset.
Will the Soviet forces manage to turn the tide in the next campaign turn, or will their hold over Stalino start to slip? Rumour has it that we'll see both new players on both sides as well as new in-game officers enter the fray. And for those who prefer to look at conversions, painted miniatures and terrain, let's just say that there'll definitely be more of those as well!
On the left flank, orders were handed down from Kapitan Koltjugin to his subordinate, the popular Leytenant Gapanovich. The platoon waited attentively in an cherry orchard, as everyone knew that the Germans were approaching from the south. "Carry out reconnaissance down the roads east of the railway. Overcome any enemy resistance and then report instantly back to me, and the rest of the company and armor will follow. Ponomarenko in his Broneavtomobil will follow you and take on any armor you encounter until the tanks move up".
Gapanovich had a quick chat with the smiling, black-leather clad figure of Ponomarenko. He knew Ponomarenko was a reckless driver with a crew that was well-oiled, both as a fighting machine and in their personal appearances. The harshness of war had yet not done anything to Ponomarenko's high spirits.
Men and machine went off down the yards between the southbound roads. The Broneavtomobil was taking the left-hand road and the men were climbing hedges and fences between the yards. The squads of Nemtsevitch and Melesjko covered each other as they moved forward, with Sezhant Tjikurin and his men with their home-made anti-tank device in reserve. Gapanovich swore over the fact that he had not gotten any more of the factory-new sub-maching guns that had arrived to the brigade a couple of days ago. As a factory worker supervisor he new good steel when he saw it.
All of a sudden Melesjenko's machinegunner opened fire to the right. If he did not mistake himself he saw two Fritzes, one with the chevrons of an NCO dissapering behind a corner when hit by the short burst of fire. This was a good start!
To get two kills, including an Junoíor Leader when firering six dice at veterans in hard cover at long (effective) range, is certainly good luck!
To the left Nemtsevitch's squad rushed to take up position in a house. Gapanovich went over to the road, yelling to Ponomarenko, who's head was looking up behind the turret hatches - "Grisha (Ponomarenkos first name was Grigory), into the yard, the Germans are in front of us. Kill them all!". The massive armored car worked up its speed and crushed the high fence separating the road from the yard. Gapanovich hoped his men was out of the way.
By now the Germans had showed up at the left flank as well, Ponomarenko's machine and the squads in the yards started to spray the German positions with fire. Then something hit the armored car with a bang: apparently an anti tank rifle had taken up position in a house at the far right, and was now engaging the Broneavtomobil. All guns blazing, the deployed squads and the armored car opened up on the anti-tank team, which disappeared under the hail of fire. The Leytenat took position in the house Nemtsevich's men just left, and then called up the remaining squad to make a flanking move to the right, now that the Fritzes were engaged frontally.
In the Broneavtomobil, the gunner Nosov reported to his commander - "Grisha, something hit the gun-sight, it´s damaged". Ponomarenko responded - "fire without it, set the gun on overwatch covering the yards. Sasha (who's birthname was Alexander Korol, and who was the bow machine-gunner), continue fire on the Fritzes".
A moment later something big and dark slowly emerged from behind the house were the anti-tank rifle had been. A German armored car, the size of a house! Nosov took aim and fired, but the shell hit the house corner in front of the car, a very close call. Nosov and his commander cursed simultaneously. The German car returned fire, missing its target as well. Nosov let off another round, but this also missed the taget. Nosov and his commander cursed yet again. Another set of shells hit their vehicle, in the front of the turret. Nosov was hit in his head and chest by rivets and splinters and collapsed in his position with a moan. There he blocked the gun, and his heavy body would not be easy to get out of the away.
As the battle would be a little one-sided without his main gun operational, Ponomarenko ordered Utkin, the driver, to reverse into the cover of the house so that they could get Nosov's limp limbs out of the way and continue the fight.
One of the things I like with CoC is that I think it has an entertaining level of detail without being too complex. Here the German antitank rifle hit the main gun sight. This gave further shots -1 to hit, and the free round I let off due to being on overwatch missed when I rolled 7 instead of 8 (on 2D6)! So even if I took out the anti-tank rifle, that engagement maybe made me loose the battle with the German armored car later on.
In the same moment an extremely unlucky burst of bullets hit Melesenko's squad, leaving five killed and wounded. They crept into cover behind the well on their yard to take care of the wounded and put themselves into order until the Broneavtomobil had sorted out the problem in front of them. Private Petrov took the orders to literally and took refuge inside the well.
Now Melesjenko's squad opted for a safer place, knowing that the cannon of the German armored car would be a tough match for their wooden shelter. They tried to follow Tjikurin's squad in their flank move, but were caught in the open by cannon and machine-gun fire and firmly pinned to the ground, losing even more men in the process.
The German armored car then turned its attention to the house where Gapanovich was positioned and showered it with cannon fire. Behind the unfortunate Leytenant a shell exploded close to a samovar and sent the tea-brewing device into his buttocks. Gapanovich did not feel the pain but fell paralyzed to the floor. He then screamed for assistance, and Nemtsevich showed up. Gapanovish had to give an direct order to have the devout communist initiate the retreat. He could have continued to give orders laying on the stomach at the floor, but with so many men killed, wounded or pinned down, and the Broneavtomobil withdrawing, he saw no other reasonable action than to break off.
The men carried their wounded comrades and commander away but were forced to leave the dead behind. Private Petrov, who was still hiding in the well, was later found by the Fritzes and captured, probably having an cruel fate bestowed upon him. Kapitan Koltjugin would not be pleased by the report.
This was a fun and action-packed game. We should really have more terrain in our yards - now everyone had hard cover (three light covers inbetween units counts as hard cover), and then the shooting began like an "stonewall vs. stonewall" type of game. The roads should maybe have some lower fences to more easily allow for flanking maneuvers as well.
Once you start playing a campaign, it can be a bit tricky to keep track of everything. Especially for a campaign like this, where there are multiple players, platoons, support weaponry and such involved. Writing things down on a piece of paper could be enough, but pads of paper has a habit of disappearing, and can you even be sure that everyone keep their platoons updated? Were those German troops really in that spot on the campaign map?
It's likely that you will find yourself needing some tools to help you keep everything in order. Here is how we're going to use a simple homebuilt system to track multiple platoons played by multiple players in the Stalino campaign.
First of all, we want a campaign map that we can leave in a club area that are used by several other people. So we don't want just chits on a map, as a simple bumb can send the troops flying. We also want it to be easily accessible by several people, while still leaving a "fog of war", where players can move platoons around without the opponent knowing exactly where they are. So we're going to build a boxed map, some thick chips, and some reference cards. There are probably much better ways to do these, but I used the materials that I had readily available.
I started out with a cardboard box that is roughly A4 sized. I made the campaign map in Adobe Indesign, with a circle for each "position" on the campaign map. Once printed out, I cut the paper sheet to fit snugly in the box. If you don't glue it in place you can easily replace it if you want to re-use it for future campaigns.
I then took some normal corrugated cardboard for the inner walls of the box, and took some measurements: you want the inner dividing walls to be slightly lower than the box is deep. I started out with measuring the long walls, and cut them out. In this case, you only need two of them.
I cut out the long walls, and cut it until the fit into the box. Measure where you want to have the shorter walls, You don't need to be exact, just put down the wall and make some marks with a pen. The important thing is that you then use the marks on your first wall to make the cuts in the second wall match the first wall..
After this it's time to make the short walls. Measure the length of the short side inside the box, and cut out the walls. Then make two cuts to divide them to make three sections that are exactly the same length.
Once you have made all the walls, all that's left is to lay down the long sides, and then attach the short walls. There's no need to glue them in place, and if some piece doesn't fit, you can usually just cut it down in size with a pair of scissors. Voilá! A box with clearly divided slots, that you can close and put away inbetwen games, safe from most accidents.
Next up, I'll make the chits to put on the map. Each chit will represent a platoon or a support option, as we will be able to move these around inbetween campaign rounds. So each chit will have a number which will show which platoon, weapon team etc. that it represents, and casualties and other important notes will be kept on a reference card.
I was out of colour for the printer, so I will temporary use black and white face pictures until I can replace them. It would probably be enough to just glue them on a piece of cardboard, but since I wanted the chits to have some heft, I decided to glue the paper to plasticard first, and then glue on the cardboard. The coloured cardboard is mostly there to make sure that we don't mix up chits from the two sides: you could just as well simply paint the backsides of the chits if you decide to use plasticard.
I cut out the unit symbols, and cut out squares of plasticard in the same size (2cm x 2cm). I then glued on a similar sized cardboard square on the back. As you can see, we can put the chits face down to hide the units. Even if your opponent would get a peek, they would only see a number, which doesn't really tell them that much unless they have access to the platoon reference cards.
Next time we'll make the reference cards, and we're all set to keep track of the forces involved in the campaign.
Yesterday I finished my 8.8cm Flak 36. It's an Italeri kit in 1/48, and it was both quick and pretty simple to build. The cannon can even rotate and you can change the elevation of the barrel, as well as move it back and forth.
It's built to be an objective or terrain piece, and I just put it on an old bit of MDF board that I had left from an old project. If you wanted to base it to look like it has been hastily deployed, the wheel pairs would most likely disconnected with one on each side of the cannon, not rolled together like this. That way it would be quicker to load it up again and tow it away.
The paint job was simple, I just covered everything with Panzer grey, and gave it a dark wash. Then I did a rough highlighting job with grey pigments. The chipping was done with a torn off piece of "blister sponge", first dabbing reddish brown and then a bright metal over it. I added some tiny specks of bright orange in the middle of some of the brown parts, to create a little bit of rust. Then I went over parts of the gun that would have seen the most dirt, such as the gunshield and the wheel pairs, with some mud-colored pigment and then some sand-colored pigments.
Finally I put some static grass and a few bits of grass tufts on the base, and called it a day.
I was a bit distracted since I was following the Sweden-Denmark European Championship qualifier, so the weathering is not always in the most realistic spots, but rather according to whim. If you are more careful with the application you can get a better result, but I like this way of weathering for wargaming models, as it takes very little time. Maybe just an hour or two of painting once the panzer grey was done and dry. But watching this movie, it's clear that the guns could get quite banged up with use, so you can add quite a bit of scratched in the paint without feeling guilty of overindulging:
If you want to build your own Flak 8.8cm artillery, this movie shows some good examples of the variety in deployment: on wheels, on the ground, with or without gunshield, and sometimes covered with camouflage. The Italeri kit is great in that you can build it in all these variations.
It was time for the 30th Cavalry Division's 138th Regiment to probe down the outskirts of Stalino's West rail station. The mission was given to Lieutenant Morduchivitch and his platoon, as they had shown themselves to be the best scouts in the the Squadron on many occasions during the fighting retreat from the Black Sea coast. Now it was time to counterattack, and the Fascists should be driven out of Stalino!
Morduchivitch took with him a squad from Sjljapin's platoon to guard his left flank and the Maxim that was often attached to his platoon. He also wrangled a couple of SMGs from his comrades in the squadron, who were happy enough to not be sent on the reconnaissance and knew that Morduvitch's men would take down more Fascists by wielding them.
'Embarking on their mission, Sjljapins squad was stationed to the left as Morduchivitch surveyed the scene. To his utmost amazement the gardens in front of him were already overcrowded with enemies, aligned in firing position in houses and behind hedges. The few words he caught from the enemy were not German - this must be the Italians!
A short thought flew through his head - if the Fascists could show international solidarity in their wars and mass murders they should know that in his platoon there were Belarussians, Ukrainians, a Tzadijk, a Chechen, a Jew from Smolensk and even a Karelian! A true solidarity between the peoples of the Soviet Union, united in the struggle for peace and Socialism!
A engine roar abruply ended his speculations. What was this? Did the Italians field tanks? He went over to the left flank to observe, and yes, a T-26 painted with a italian flag came rumbling down the street. Morduchivitch swore, what kind of patrol was this? The gardens full of Italians, and tanks captured from his own land being used against him! Having no AT gun to back up the mission or even a couple of molotovs, this was going to be a patrol from Hell!
If you have played CoC before, this probably looks like some kind of rule abuse. A T-26, which is on Support List 4, in the "Patrol" scenario? You can´t normally take anything more than from Support List 3 if you have a higher platoon force rating than your opponent in the patrol scenario.
Now, Morduchivitch had to think fast and not about international solidarity. He detached one of the men of Sjljapins squad to peek around to corner and badly conceal a firewood log that could be mistaken for a couple of stick grenades. This ruse worked for a while, as the T-26 lowered its speed as it drove down the street. He then deployed Serzhant Borisov's Maxim to take the house with Italians under fire. The Italians withdrew into the building and, at least according to Borisov, several of them were hit by his well-aimed hail of bullets.
Morduchivitch went on to execute the second part of his (quite hastily made up) plan. Now, with the Italians in the house silenced, he sent in Serzhant Akselrod and his squad to take the grove at the right side of the built up area. Akselrods squad sprinted for the grove, and as they went forward they saw some Italians withdrawing into the gardens, unwilling to fight the cavalrymen. When Akselrods squad had established themselves in the grove, Morduchvitchs himself and the second squad under the command of Serzhant Jezijev (the Chechen) quickly followed.
With the Lieutenat in position, the flank attack enveloped. Morduchivitch's men pressed the Italians who fell back from both their positions after at hot but brief firefight. The men were reorganized for the final push aimed to force the Italians from their hidings. At this moment the platoon heard the characteristic sounds of 45mm shells hitting a house from a short distance. It was obvious that Sjljapin, Borisov and their men had come under fire from the Italian T-26. As they had no anti-tank weapons they could not hold out for long.
Morduchivitch had to make the bitter decision to call off the attack and retire, as the gardens still were full of Italians and it would take some time to dislodge them from there despite his platoon's favorable flank position.
The men withdrew from their positions. After a brief meeting with Sjljapin and Borisov they could determine that the decision was right, as the situation was untenable and Sjljapin himself was lightly wounded in the left thigh from an shell frament. The only wounded soldier in Morduchivitchs platoon was the quite bloodstained cavalryman Ivanovitj, who had been hit by an falling branch in the firefight in the grove (presumable the Italians had aimed high and shot it down). The wound was superficial and he should be back in the ranks as soon as he had a new uniform tunic. Then it was certainly time to find Kapitan Jegorov to call in some anti-tank support on their flank.
WW2 Campaign Blog
This blog follows the second Chain of Command club campaign, set in the intense fighting over Stalino in October 1941.