Sunday, 8 December 2013

Racing the Raspititsa - Part 2

This game was played over an evening from 8 to 11 o'clock including setup and strip down, with Trebian taking the Soviets and Yesthatphil taking the Axis . I scaled the game at one NQM battalion representing a division. This gave me some problems midway through the game, but more of that later.


The 2 Panzer Armee advance was limited to  the rail line from TAMBOV to BORISOGLEBSK due to deteriorating weather. Soviet resistance was less hampered, but 57 Army comprising 99, 150, 317 and 351 Rifle and 14 Guard Rifle divisions  had left most of their their divisional artillery behind in order to advance to contact with  48 MotKorps, comprising 17 and 18 Panzer divisions with 29 Motorised and 167 Infantry divisions.
Soviet South Front had managed to reinforce BORISOGLEBSK with 335 Rifle division from 9 Army in time to fend off assaults from 2nd SS Panzer and then 10 Panzer  divisions from 46 Mot Korps as they arrived on the outskirts of the rail junction.


Things were looking good for 9 Army, as Strategic RKG reserves in the shape of 3 Guards Cavalry and 24 Tank divisions were able to catch 2nd SS Panzer.


Then disaster struck ...

I applied a Tank Terror ruling  to the reinforced 10 Panzer and 18 Panzer assault on BORISOGLEBSK. The look of horror in Trebian's eyes told me that I had failed to carry the players with me in the narrative. The story running in his head told him that the heroic 335 Rifle division, fortified* in a city, on the point of achieving guards status , had had victory snatched from them by a dodgy umpire ruling and one die roll. It took a bit of smoothing over as Phil marched the division off into captivity**.


Elsewhere things were going badly for the Germans. An apparently unending wave of attacking infantry was tearing into 48 Mot Korps as it advanced along the rail lines. Any semblance of an attack dissolved as logistic echelons found themselves defending against close assaults.


A fierce cavalry-armour battle developed around the outskirts of BORISOGLEBSK. what became apparent was that the panzers were not going to reach STALINGRAD this year and were not going to hold on to the TAMBOV-BORISOGLEBSK railway.  The assault ended with scattered remnants of  48 Mot Korps straggling in to BORISOGLEBSK in order to fall back to VOROZHNEV to regroup.

* I keep having this problem with the open, single storey, wooden built-up areas in 1940s Russia. Everyone equates them to the high-rise city centre scenes in 'Enemy at the Gates' rather than the more open suburbs of Stalingrad that burned down leaving only chimmney stacks. I count these troops as Medium in defence, and only count  fortified troops in concrete bunkers as Heavy.
** On reflection, a rule that works well at battalion level is too abrupt to apply to an entire infantry division, even if it has left its heavier equipment behind  to reach close terrain. On reflection, I should have made the panzers fight through the rail junction. The result would probably have been the same, looking at the red pips on the infantry stands, but the players would have been happier, and that's important.

In the dying days of Summer 1942. German armoured forces fanned southeast to STALINGRAD towards the banks of the river VOLGA. Spearheading the 2 Panzer Armee advance against minimal opposition were 10 Panzer and  2nd SS Panzer divisions from 46 Mot Korps less Gross Deutchland, which had been engaged at TAMBOV junction.

48 MotKorps, comprising 17 and 18 Panzer divisions with 29 Motorised and 167 Infantry divisions, were echeloned northwards behind them. These formations were all well understrength and although coming to the end of their logistical chains, were benefitting from the opening of TAMBOV junction to rail traffic.

Opposing them was South Front comprising 2 Armies :

57 Army comprising 99, 150, 317 and 351 Rifle and 14 Guard Rifle division
9 Army comprising 51, 106, 333, 335, 341 and  349 Rifle  divisions
and South Front troops comprising 3 Guards Cavalry division and 24 Tank division. Unusually fo rthis stage of the campaign, the operation had the characteristic of a meeting engagement.

M3 Honey Finished


The M3 Honey conversion has had the last few splashes of paint aimed at it. My photography skills do no favours to the details: Brigade flashes, Recognition flashes, graphite and rust on the tracks etc. In the end, the mantle was carved from the cork at the front of the turret. Here it is.

M3 Honey converted from PSC M5 Stuart. Photos copyright Chris Kemp

M3 Honey Conversion - Losing the Fat Head

Photo copyright Phil Steele. Old Glory M3 with the PSC conversion
After letting the paint dry on my M3 and staring at it on the workbench, I came to the conclusion that the turret was too big, wide and just generally fat. Finding an old 20mm turret confirmed that it was also too chubby at the front. The deal breaker for me was that the turret angles were not sharp enough making "the look" unconvincing. I trimmed it and although it is still too long in the front (The commander's hatch should cover the roof when open, just about), it looks about right now. I could have just measured it, but hey?
After trimming  the turret, the model was airlifted  round to Trebian's Shedquarters, as  he has one tricked out for Burma (Skinner's Horse?). Cripes, I thought, the whole thing is massive compared to the Old Glory offering! A quick impromptu meet of the Greek Philosopher's scale debating club convened over tea and cake after the game, before Phil and I separately went off to count the camel's teeth!
It turns out that the PSC is accurate, and that by skill or luck, my M3 is bang on the nail for height and width, but short at the back. The OG model is undernourished, although it looks fine on it's own. I love 1:100 as a scale. Even I can do the sums!
A quick paint to get it "table ready", then it's into the box to await a game or bulk weathering session. As ever, I fudged the Caunter scheme - My M3 doesn't have sand sheilds, so I went with Tamiya Mid Blue on the turret roof, Olive Drab lightened and desaturated with Light Blue, and Desert yellow, all over a khaki undercoat. It's not as garish as my first attempt with the Massive Moritz.