The Axis player used his "Counterattack" for this column, to halt the recent Soviet progress. The counter-attack re-takes the initiative and let the Germans be attackers against the enemy platoon that won the last game. That means that the Soviet platoon didn´t get their "miss one turn" casualties from Campaign Turn 3 back until after this game was resolved. The counterattacking player also may choose the outcome of the "armour dice" that we use to decide which types of armoured vehicles (if any) are available. The Axis player decided to go for "light armour", which means that heavier tanks would not be allowed as support options. This flank has seen lots of back-and-forth attacks, and the Soviets used up their counterattack on this column to win with the KV-1 in Campaign Turn 2.
Like many of the games we have played on these boards, this started out with a MMG vs. MMG shoot-out in the centre. This time the Germans brought 2 MMGs and prevailed in the fight. But when a German heavy armoured car showed up, the Soviets deployed an 45mm ATG section and knocked it out. The ATGs then had to retire because of incoming MMG fire. We treat the gardens as orchards with 18" sight range so the fire-fights starts at longer distances than in a wood.
At the eastern road a Panzer II began a duel with a BT-5. The Soviet tank took a hit and promptly withdrew (the dreaded 5-6 result on List Zero for a newly arrived tank! We show no mercy as this sometimes is more or less the only way to get rid of enemy armor - for example with MG fire).
The cornerstone in the Soviet defense. A anti-tank gun section has deployed and taken out a German armoured car, but are met by a hailstorm of bullets from the german MG-34s, seen in the top left corner of the picture. The infantry in the house have some distance to the windows to not engage in this fire-fight.
But time ran out for the German attack to fully develop and the fight ended a Soviet victory. After this game we adjusted our time-limit for winning as defender (from three Turn Ends to five Turn Ends) so we must admit it was some kind of a trial and that the Germans got the worst of it. More time could have let the Germans to use their MMG section and Panzer II against the defenders (or maybe move up a JOP at their right flank) but we were not to see this happen.
Capitan Kolomiets was back into the fray after spending a short time at the first aid station getting a new, non-sooty uniform and attention from the companies combat medic Vera. Lightly burned from his encounter with a German flame-thrower in the station house, he was set for revenge. In the shadow of a stable he had an inquiry with Lieutenant Fadeevich, who just came back from fighting. Fadeevich´s platoon had driven back the Germans from the station with the help of the reckless Gorodniansky, commander of a BT tank. Gorodniansky had then pursued the Germans down the railroad tracks but swiftly retired when they came under fire from an anti-tank rifle, which fortunately had failed to do any harm.
Captain Kolomiets promptly set out to organize an attack to exploit Fadeevich´s success. He called up the infantry gun assigned to his command and two Maxim machine guns led by sergeants Parkhomenko and Kriuchenkin. The were called "The Volodyas" for the sake of simplicity, or Vovo and Volodya when referring to them one by one, as both were named Vladimir. Along with these heavy weapons he took with him Vera, as always, as he liked her company and needed someone to look after his burns if the battle would be a long one.
Jonas (German player) here. The patrol phase made it quite clear that my job as defender would be tricky. I expected the Soviets to take in several heavy weapon teams, as their low force rating gives them a lot of support. Maxim's and infantry guns have taken their toll on my German platoons before, and there was no doubt they'd be used again.
The houses and woods meant that there would be several safe places for them to operate in cover, and there was a definite possibility that there would be tanks coming in as well. So I settled on buying a Pak36 and hope that I could cause some damage before pulling out, with as few losses as possible. Fingers crossed!
Kolomiets set up all the heavy weapons and Vera in position in a big blue house inside no mans land south of the railroad warehouse. He then called up the infantry squad under Olegovich to lead the way deeper into Fascist occupied territory. That move should suffice to make the Germans retreat. To guard his left flank he had positioned Leytenat Yakovlevich with two squads in the wood that dominated the area between the railyard and the quarters at his right. He knew that the Red Cavalry should attack on his right hand and therefore left that flank practically unguarded. The patrols he sent out confirmed his suspicion that most German activity was happening on his left flank. They may call him at hot-spur, but he was an calculating hot-spur!
We have changed the attack/defense-scenario so that the attacker can either win on depleting the defender's morale, or by moving a JOP within 12" of the enemy baseline. This makes a "sudden death" possible and hopefully encourage the attacker to actually move his troops forward! This was my plan as I had a JOP very far forward on the right flank after the patrol phase.
Soon some Germans showed themselves and all the Soviet guns opened up. The Fritzes immediately withdrew in face of this impressive firepower! All went silent for a moment. Kolomiets, according to his plan, ordered Olegovich to outflank the enemy. Olegovich moved up behind the blue house and sent forward two scouts to find a secure position ahead of them.
After a short lull in the fighting he heard a lot of gunfire from the wood occupied by Yakovlevich. At first he felt secure: the two full squads in the woods would stop any attack for the time it should take to secure the forward position. After that it would be simple to push in Yezhov's platoon, and the Germans would be forced to withdraw - or face destruction!
But he did not get any word from Olegovich and the furious firefight in the woods continued. He could hear that the most of the gunfire came from MG-34s and he started to get a little worried. Shortly after this he saw Yakovlevichs men retreating over a road behind him. He repositioned his Maxim guns to cover their perilous withdrawal, but all he saw were wounded and falling men.
As expected, the Soviet position in the building was incredibly strong: infantry, even in cover, can't expect to have a chance in a prolonged firefight against two medium machine gun teams and an infantry gun, especially when it is backed up by infantrymen that can pile in fire as well as soak up hits! It was simply a battle that I would lose, and quickly. It was also an open road to the alternative victory condition of moving a JOP, which meant that I started turn 1 feeling like this game was a given loss already.
However, Shirty had left his flank quite open, as he quickly deployed two relatively small sections and angled the first one towards my table edge. Since I had a JOP in the house on that flank, I drew up a new plan: deploy two sections on that side, protected from line of sight from their heavy guns, and have everyone else run as fast as they can to support them. Ideally this would mean that none of my men could be mowed down by the Soviet heavy support, and I could make the victory cost them a lot!
It worked out well, and you can see that I got two sections into the woods Before Shirty could get more than one of his sections into a fire line, and my superior firepower could damage them heavily. Then, I could pile in on the other section afterwards. The only thing that halted my assault for a while was that I had to cross a road, which the heavy Soviet guns could cover with overwatch. In the end I spent a turn or two, agonizing about the casualties I would take while crossing, Before eventually doing it. In hindsight, I should have just kept charging in, as I might have been able to rout them completely!
Here comes a few great photos of the counterattack. The Gebirgsjägers really used the mobility that JOPs and 3D6 moves may give you (they had a JOP in the warehouse, as we "traded" flanks in the patrol phase) to mount a very serious attack on my left flank. I thought I would have no problem delaying him and moving my JOP, thus ending the game in my favor. However, I ended up having problems with that...
Damn! Kolomiets ordered Olegovich back to help shore up the situation. As the deadly struggle continued down the road (behind him!) a light AT-gun began shelling the house.
The infantry gun could not see this new adversary so he, Vera and the Volodyas had to endure (he was very content to have Vera there, as always, if he should be hit by a splinter or two). Several of the machine-gunners were wounded. At that critical moment Gena, one of Olegovichs scouts, showed up (the other scout was Cheburashk, now left alone in the most forward position of the attack). Gena spoke without permission "The advance is secure, no enemies in front". Kolomiets looked down the road. The Maxims were playing, but so were the German guns, and in this deadly crossfire, Yakovlevich's decimated platoon got the worst of it. With Yakovlevich's platoon almost routed he had no other choice but to evacuate his heavy weapons instead of inserting Yezhov into the breach. In a flood of curses they got to work.
The withdrawal of the heavy weapons went surprisingly smooth. Afterwards, they discovered that the Germans had withdrew themselves, probably out of fear of being cut of… damn! Kolomiets swore and cursed until his voice disappeared. Then Vera gave him at bottle of water and a "shut up and do something instead of this not-so constructive swearing"-glance. Kolomiets wheezed "Yezhov, take your platoon, the second machine gun squad and the sub-machine gunners, and go secure the area before the Germans do. Move now". The battle of the Stalino Station was about to continue, but Kapitan Kolomiets needed a short rest, more because of his hurt pride than he would ever confess.
The last phases were a terrible nail-biter, as the Soviet moral pummeled down due to what turned out as a small massacre in the central wood. At the same time I only needed a few 5s on my command dice to get the CoC-dice that would move a JOP and win the game for me. I lost another morale... gained another 5´... phase after phase! At the end I got my last 5 and then lost a JOP. So I "won" the game and lost my last morale in the same phase! We decided that it was a draw, anyhow it was an incredible tight game! Jonas put up an really nice counter-attack through the woods that defied our gaming groups consensus about what can be done in CoC! Thats very fun to see!
This was a great game, and it was one of my most tense CoC games ever. I think I have a reputation at the club of being a bit of a cautious player, and one of my weak sides is definitely that I often play a static defence and don't do so much movements. That might have been a reason why Shirty didn't expect me to just pile in my troops on the flank, run across the field, and fighting in spitting distance within the woods! You never know what to expect.
And even though Shirty got his JOP across the table, I managed to get his morale to 0 on the last turn while losing almost none myself, I consider this a bit of a moral victory for the battered Gebirgsjägers.
As I worked on the second section for my Gebirgsjäger platoon, I wanted to make it a little bit different from the first section. One aspect of the wargaming hobby that I like is that you can always push yourself toward the next level, and add new things to your modeling or painting style. While the models themselves were converted in the same style as the previous section (available here), I decided to add the following:
Now this might not sound so spectacular, I wanted to mix in some helmet-wearing Jäger troops into my force. They seemed to have really loved their Mütze, and in a lot of pictures I've seen they wear the caps even in combat. But this group would have a mix of helmets and caps, and that would give me a reason to bring out the water slide transfers of German helmet insignia that I recently got from Warlord Games! What's more fun than playing with decals?
When I was about to add decals, I also decided to add the sleeve insignia indicating the rank of Gefreiter and Obergefreiter. These were ranks for enlisted men, Finally I wanted to add the white collar patch. All in all I was hoping that these added details would make a solid impact on the final look.
More visible facial features
I'm a big fan of Perry Miniatures, but when I painted up my first batch of the plastic troops, I noticed that the faces had quite shallow details. The facial features are very realistically modelled, but since we're painting miniatures, it means that the face becomes quite "flat" if you paint it the same way as more exaggerated models, including Perry's own metal miniatures.
To avoid this problem, I tried three things:
6 riflemen and a machine gun plus crew.
The junior leader with SMG and the obligatory light mortar. I ended up improvising some random trash for the mortar team to hide beside, but it didn't turn out quite as well as I hoped. I am, however, very happy with the pose for the section leader. Combined with the stubble I think he looks tough as nails. I bet the Soviet players can't wait to hunt him with their snipers! ;)
The Opel Blitz served in every theater of the war as a workhorse for German logistics, On a tactical level it was both used as an infantry carrier and as a platform for heavy weapons such as flak guns, which could be fitted to the truck bed. As I painted up my Italeri 1/48 scale kit, I thought it was time to dirty it up to represent the harsh conditions of the Russian roads. What better way than to try to weather a windshield?
Again, I did the mud and sand with Tamiya's weathering powders. I wanted to try to dirty up the windshield to look like mud and dirt had kicked up all over it.
For starters, I gave the windshields a coat of matte varnish. Then I cut out a bit of Tamiya's masking tape, to fit where the windshield wipers would have kept the windshield clear. Then, I took the darker mud-coloured pigments, and painted the windshield with a wet brush. The masking tape kept the pigment from covering the entire windshield. Before the pigments had time to completely dry, I pulled off the masking tape with a pair of pincers, and used a brush with just water to tidy up the windshield, and even out the pigments a bit.
In the end I like that the truck look dirtied up, and I prefer this to just leaving the windshields all clear.
After that I cleaned up the grey parts of the truck a bit, and now it's ready to deliver some Gebirgsjäger or Panzergrenadier squads to the battlefields of Stalino.
The German armoured cars were often used for recon duty, and the schwerer Panzerspähwagen (Fu) Sonderkraftfahrzeug 232 (8-rad) (quite a mouthful), was equipped with a medium range radio with a large unusually shaped antennae to report their findings. It had a driver seat in both directions, and each pair of wheels could be steered independently. This was a development of the previous design with six wheels, and the extra wheels were added to improve off-road capabilities. The turret was armed with a 2cm automatic cannon and a MG 34 machine gun, to deter infantry and to defeat weaker enemy recon troops that it might run into. The "plow" in the front was a later addition to increase front armour.
The German Aufklärungsabteilung, or recon detachment, often included armoured cars. Panzer divisions would field heavy armoured car companies that consisted of a mix of these 232 as well as the 231 (which didn't have the radio antennae), and the smaller 222 armoured cars. Since we'll be fielding panzergrenadiers in the Stalino campaign, it's only fitting that these recon vehicles get stuck in at some point.
The kit is a 1/48 scale Tamiya plastic model kit. The build was pretty fun, and the vehicle itself is unusual enough to just grab your attention. As you might notice, the decals included are representing the tank in the picture at the top, with the same name and everything! IAs usual, Tamiya included decals for other fronts and time periods as well.
Just like with the 251, I had troubles with the brush-on gloss varnish. I'm starting to think that it's just a plain bad idea to use brush-on varnish for such large, flat areas: no matter the brand, it tends to clog up and dry up into uneven blobs on the surface. But a second layer of matte varnish again managed to salvage the results a little bit.
The weathering was done with Tamiya pigments. I tried a new technique of adding water to the pigments afterwards, and then smudge the watery mix into crevices and such. It's not perfect, but it sure looks it's been through a bit of mud.
If I were to build another one I'd probably add some more stowage, as the pictures I've seen of the car in action has everything from helmets tied to the sides to bags of food, water buckets and tents. After all, these vehicles were moving out in front of the main forces, and would have to be more independent with their baggage as well.
Finally, here's a short documentary about the 231/232 if you want to see them on the move.
The Stalino campaign is approaching at a break-neck speed, at least that what it feels like. To be able to track all the platoons and support options that will move around, we're making a very basic map to place chits on. As the platoons go back and forth, we can just move the chits instead of writing everything down on paper.
I also got a list over the June-Dec 1941 ToE of the 4th Mountain Division from Micro Mark Army Lists through Wargame Vault. We plan for the division to be part of the Axis forces in the campaign, but there's no CoC list for Mountain Rifle Platoons as far as I know. So I used the books I bought and the ToE list to try to figure out a reasonable platoon list for CoC. In the end it seemed to be basically the same as the Barbarossa German Rifle Platoon, but with a seemingly obligatory anti-tank rifle (the PzB39).
I've never used anti-tank rifles in CoC, so I'm honestly not sure if it will be worth it. At least it gave me a reason to start converting up a Gebirgsjäger Panzerbüchse 39 team. Will it be finished in time?
The Stalino campaign is approaching rapidly, and we're all scrambling to put together terrain, soldiers and vehicles for it. I just finished my first squad of the converted Gebirgsjäger. I noticed that the Perry Miniatures plastic minis have a slightly shallower, less exaggerated details - especially for their faces. This means that with my normal way to paint, they ended up a bit flat. But overall I'm happy with them, and especially that they ended up looking distinctively different from our "normal" German infantry.
I will try to improve with the next squad. Maybe stronger highlights on the skin areas? Either way, rumours has it that one of the Axis forces in the terrain will be Panzergrenadiers, so it's suitable to add some more transportation options. Here's a Tamiya 1/48 kit, a Sd. Kfz. 251/1 Ausf. D. This version is way too early for 1941, but frankly, I'm not the person that can spot different versions of Hanomags at an arm's length, so I'm ok with it.
I'm trying to learn to use pigment powders to get a better mud effect on the tracks and wheels. Looking at color reference photos, it seems quite common for the mud to dry around the wheels in a very light, almost sandy brown. I was trying to recreate that, and thought I don't think it was a complete success, I learned something from the process.
The kit itself was quite simple, and it comes with a bit of extra stuff to put on where you like. It does look a little bit strange to have it without crew at all, so if we're talking about future unneccessary vanity projects, I can imagine getting a second Hanomag with seated passengers. But for now, it will do just fine.
I still have a half painted Opel Blitz truck and a Sd. Kfz. 232 waiting to be finished, so there'll be plenty of opportunity to practice!
Just a quick update after conversion test of the first Gebirgsjäger, using the Perry Miniatures Afrikakorps box.
Left picture: I shaved off the botton of the legs with a hobby knife. I rolled two tiny "snakes" of green stuff, and attached one around each ankle. Then I took a dentist tool and flattened the green stuff a bit, and finally made a small score in the green stuff to make it look like puttees rolled around the legs.
For the hat, I first shaved off a millimeter or so of the bill. I took a very tiny ball of green stuff and flattened it on left side of the cap, which is as close as I can get to model an Edelweiss in this scale.
Finally, you can see that I went with just a gas mask container. In a lot of the pictures in the reference photo book I got, the Gebirgsjäger would carry a very light load, both when marching and in combat. Othen they are seen like this, with just the gas mask. The Perry box doesn't come with a bit of just the container, so I took one from a Warlord Games Blitzkrieg Germans sprue.
Funny fact about how clueless I am about WW2: I used to think that this round container was some kind of thermos for food!
Middle picture: again I took a extremely tiny speck of green stuff, rolled it to a ball, and flattened it against the right arm. This is for the Edelweiss emblem worn by the Gebirgsjäger.
Right picture: comparison with a Warlord Games miniature. It's becoming clear just how much these will stand out from the other Germans. The stances are very different, with the Perry's having a much straighter stance than WG's, and I like the more realistic proportions of the Perry miniature. On the other hand, the Perry Kar 98 rifle is a bit too stocky, and I think I prefer WG's rifle actually. Finally, the Perry kit comes with what I assume is 20mm round bases, and we have 25mm round bases for all our WW2 troops this far, so they will definitely be different if not only because of this.
Overall, I'm kind of happy with how it turned out, and the work involved has definitely not been so much that I'd reconsider doing a whole platoon. My big concern is whether the puttees will look good painted, or if it will look like a bunch of Germans with ankle monitors. I also think that maybe it would be enough to paint on the arm badges, but it will probably be nicer to have a bit of 3D feeling to them.
In my first encounter with squad-level WW2 gaming I was impressed by how beginner friendly it was. After all, the miniature requirement is much lower than for the kind of army level games that I was used to. Even when you add a lot of support points to a Chain of Command game, you're still looking at 30-40 guys and about two or three choices of guns, vehicles or small teams of engineers or a lone medic. Not exactly enough to fill an entire wardrobe.
However, if there's anything stronger than the power of love, it's the power of wargamers to find excuses to add to our lead mountains. Now that we reached the point where we can field two (or even three!) platoons of ordinary riflemen for both Soviets, Germans and Italians, it's not enough for us to just get more troops. Instead there are fierce Cossack raiding parties forming in the Soviet camp, and spectacular Bersaglieri plumes are spotted among the light Italian tank, so can I be faulted for starting to feel left out with my bog-standard German infantrymen? Something had to be done.
The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Fascists
I considered my expansion options carefully. I wanted to do a smaller force, just a single platoon, that I could invest some effort into now that we have enough minis to easily play even a four-player game. So having to do some simple conversion jobs was not a hindrance, but rather something appealing. I also wanted it to something slightly unusual as far as WW2 wargaming goes.
Fallschirmjägers is a popular force with lots of miniature support, but also kind of out of place on the east front at the time. SS units are also notoriously popular among certain wargamers, but not really my cup of tea. Ragtag squads of naval troops would be very cool, but a bit limited in scope and availability as minis. But Gebirgsjägers started to make more and more sense, the more I looked at them.
Once decided, I did some web-based resarch to figure out what I needed to represent these alpine Teutons and what to use to convert them. Visually, the Gebirgsjäger are distinguished by their different headwear (Bergsmütze), Edelweiss emblems on caps and arms, mountain trousers with extra reinforced seats and crotches, and wool puttees (leggings). They also had a special anorak to wear in snow or cold mountains.
Looking at my available options, it dawned on me that the Perry Miniatures Afrikakorps box could be the way to go. First of all, it includes several of the M43 field cap, which was closely modeled after the Bergmütze. If I could just shave off some of the bill it would be close enough. The trousers are not that big a deal, and just painting them stone grey instead of field grey is good enough for me. The puttees will have to be converted with some cutting/filing and green stuff.
As a bonus, the kit comes with a light mortar team, so I wouldn't have to get any extra metal minis to convert these. However, the kit also only covers three squads, so I would have to get two boxes to field a full platoon. On the other hand, this would leave me with enough extra men to convert up some Gebirgsjäger crew for the guns we already have.
Rules-wise there are not that much to adjust compared to a normal German riflemen platoon at the time. The Gebirgsjäger would generally use lighter weapons suitable for cramped urban fighting or that could be dragged along by pack animals in difficult terrain. This can easily be represented by choosing anti-tank guns or Flak 30/38 guns instead of tanks and heavy artillery when deploying for battle.
Speaking of pack animals, they used a ton of them (around 6000 per division, including everyhing from donkeys and mules to camels!) to carry their stuff. They would also have a designated animal caretaker in each squad. This is a great source of ideas for Jump Off Point markers and I won't settle until I have a small Wehrmacht zoo to accompany these men.
So here's where we stand: two boxes of Afrikakorps, the obligatory Osprey book for a cursory grasp at the subject, and an old reference picture book liberated from the Buckinghamshire County Library via Amazon. It has tons of great pictures, both staged propaganda ones and from real actions, so I am ready to give this a shot.
It was time to get the Kübelwagen painted. As with all the previous 1940-41 German vehicles, it was a straight forward job: pretty much the entire kit was painted with cLifecolor's Panzergrau. I got some pots from Lifecolor when we bought an airbrush for the club, and I've grown to like them more and more. The seats and the rolled up canvas roof were painted khaki green (Dunkelbraun). Finally I did some highlights with Tamiya's grey pigment powder.
The driver included in the kit was dressed up for Africa, so I used kneadatite ("green stuff") to add some sleeves. I assumed that the short pants would not be visible once seated, and ended up just painting the legs Feldgrau. You can kind of see it if you hold up the model and peek in, but then I would like to know why you're peeking at miniature legs in the first place.
Once I painted the Kübelwagen, I put on the decals. In this case the kit only came with Luftwaffe decals, so I did some googling to see how an army version would look. It turned out that there were all kinds of versions, but I found several examples with the Balkenkreuz on the rearmost right side door, so I went with that. Again, the kit didn't come with the cross, but I had some left from when I built a Panzer II, so I used that one. This time I remembered to put on micro sol on the decal before painting gloss varnish over it, which was a big improvement over last time.
Finally, I weathered the kit with some yellow, sand, and mud pigments. This is the part that I feel the least comfortable with, and I think I put on a bit too much this time. I really should take the time to learn how to use these pigments properly. But in the end it's good enough for tabletop standard in my opinion, so it's off to Stalino with this little driver, along with the Pz.Kpfw. 38(t).
WW2 Campaign Blog
This blog follows the second Chain of Command club campaign, set in the intense fighting over Stalino in October 1941.