Friday, 19 June 2015

Infantry Regiment Großdeutschland - Operation Barbarossa

The first  Zug is finished.
15mm "Blitzkrieg" minis from Skytrex.

As everyone is talking Waterloo these days, I thought I’d use this, my 100th by the way, blog post to highlight another, perhaps less known, anniversary in military history. At 3:15 am on Monday the 22nd June its exactly 74 years since the greatest land battle of all times started – the Nazi invasion of Communist Russia, codenamed “Operation Barbarossa”.

Operation Barbarossa, with its three main thrusts 
consisting of Army Groups North, Center and South)

It marked the end of the so-called “Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact” of Non-Aggression, signed in 1939, and would prove the beginning of the end for Nazi rule in Germany. It would have a fatal outcome for hundred thousands of soldiers and civilians, and it would be the stage on which some of histories most gruesome war crimes were committed. 

The six man rifle team - according to  the Chain of Command rules.
Casualties will be removed with markers, and full bases when possible.

With the aim of building a 15mm collection for the period of Barbarossa (41-42), I was first of all looking for suitable German Blitzkrieg infantry miniatures. While many producers out there offer good products for the Early War period, I decided to go with Skytrex for the infantry. They really are wonderful sculpts, and I like the weight compared to plastic, when I’m basing this small scale.

Cuff insignia for Infanterie-Regiment Großdeutschland.
Tried to add these on the 15mm minis, with varied success.

Next question was what unit to paint up. I wanted a unit that had participated in the initial stages of Barbarossa, but also one, which was later involved in Fall Blau and Wintergewitter. After some advice from co-club members Ulf and Jesper, I decided to go with the Großdeutschland regiment. It’s history really runs deep on the Eastern Front, and it offers versatility of deployment, as it later became upgrade to a panzer reg. 

MG34 and Obergefreiter with MP40.

As a further bonus for me, Großdeutschland was part of XLVI Panzer Corps,
 of Panzer Group 2 commanded by Heinz Guderian, somewhat a personal favorite among the many capable German army commanders. 

Großdeutschland MG gunner.

Großdeutschland have a fascinating history, including dark as well as bright chapters.
My plan is to touch on all aspects, and post for post follow the unit in a chronological way, from the kick off of Barbarossa on the 22nd June 41, until the last remains staggered up towards the Danish border to surrender to the much preferred Brits in 45. 

Großdeutschland trooper having a pensive moment at the Eastern Front.

It will be a dramatic journey, including war crimes, near annihilation and heroic counter charges. In other words; to be continued.

Thank you very much for reading!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Russian Dragoons and a Great Northern War Club Campaign

Russian Great Northern War Dragoons.
Minis from Warfare Miniatures.

After the engaging attendance of our Great Northern War Holowczyn participation game at this year’s Lincon Gaming Convention, Jesper and I decided to prolong the GNW project to accommodate for a GNW Campaign for our local gaming club, Little Wars, here in Stockholm.

The Campaign Overview. Our scenarios will follow the historic march
of the Swedish army into Russia and Ukraine.

The general idea is that each player will take control of a regiment; much like one would take control of a character figure in a roleplaying scenario based board game.

Wonderful GNW artwork by Marc Grieves.
The Swedish Guard at Narva.

We then string together 6 scenarios, based on the Swedish army’s historic march 1708-1709 through western Russia, via the battles of Holowczyn, Lesnaya and ending up at the fateful battle of Poltava in the Ukraine. 

A view of the Dragoon officer. Tsar Peter greatly expanded the number of Dragoon
units in his army, 
as they could cover the huge Russian theatre, but at the same time dismount in and fight on foot in battle.

A game master will play the Russians in all games, while each player then controls his/hers regiment through the historic battles, hopefully gathering some victory points along the way, enabling the purchase of new skills after each game has ended.

An example of our unit cards.
Here the units points and performance will be recorded for each scenario, along with any special abilities purchased for the victory points. Mind you, if a unit is slain in battle, it looses all abilities, and has to be raised from scratch with new recruits from the Swedish homeland.

We’ll be basing the rules on Black Powder, and the skills up for purchase will be taken from the BP tool box of extra abilities, like Brave, Elite, Stubborn etc. It’s really an experiment in combining historic wargaming with some of the elements from well-produced board games like Imperial Assault from Fantasy Flight. 

Another of Marc Grieves fantastic paintings.
This is Värmlands Regemente at Narva.

After a test game (Here is an AAR from Jesper’s blog) co-player Pål suggested a fun addition to our initial idea. One of the players on the Swedish side, will take permanent control of the C-in-C role for the Swedes, and dish our orders for each regiment/player before the start of the game.

The ensign. I mounted him with a rather inconspicuous infantry sized flag,
in support of their dismounted abilities. 

This proved really fun and smooth playing, so it was added to the concept, as we now draw closer to kick off. I will be documenting each game in the campaign via our club blog, and for anyone remotely familiar with the Great Northern War, the storyline in our games is evident when viewing the scenario names below:

1) Holowczyn: Surprise attack in the dawn

2) Holowczyn: Russian reinforcements

3) Lesnaya: A Russian snare

4) Lesnaya: “Defend the train at all cost”

5) Poltava: Men, storm that redoubt!

6) Poltava: The final charge; “Gå På”.

Thank you very much for reading.
Any comments are welcome!

Monday, 8 June 2015

SdKfz 222 – Operation Barbarossa

The SdKfz 222 as I imagine it during Barbarossa.
Model is from Skytrex, but the crew is PSC.

As my 15mm SS-Panzer Division blasts eastward from my painting desk, its eyes and ears will be supplied by some good reconnaissance for the panzers and Stukas to rely on. The backbone of my Recce force (Aufklärungs-Abteilung) will consist of this quintessential WW2 vehicle, the SdKfz 222. 

The Nazi flag was used for easy aerial recognition.

As this blog is stripped from any political or religious views, I find it important to underline that the depiction of a Nazi flag on the model, is merely a historical reference with a purpose. Many vehicles were actually fitted like this during Barbarossa, as the red flags with the white centre circle helped the Stukas tell friend from foe, in the heat of battle and avoid unfortunate mistakes.

Life on the road can be hard.

The SdKfz 222 was designed by the Eisenwerk Weserhütte, and built by the Auto Union (Better known as Audi). Supplied by a powerful V8 engine, this four-wheel drive sported armor plating up to 14,5 mm thick, but still ran up to 80 km (50 Mph) on open roads. Fuel economy and Global Warming was not something that would keep engineers up at night in the 30ies, and the SdKfz only had an operational radius of 300 km (186 Miles), before refueling was needed. 

A view of the rust effects added.
Decals used are from PSC. Unit insignia is SS Panzer Div. Liebstandarte A.H,
part of Von Rundstedt's Army Group South.

To help the SdKfz 222 “clear the way”, it was armed with a L/55 Auto-cannon plus supporting MG of different calibers as the models approved over the years. Another improvement that was added, probably by way of bitterly earned learning points, was the wire mesh across to the open-top turret, to avoid any unwelcome visits of grenades into the armored vehicle’s cabin. 

A view of the metal mesh,
added to protect against grenades thrown into the turret.

With almost 1.000 SdKfz 222’s produced from 1937 – 43, this recce vehicle was one of the most important in the fast moving and mobile Blitzkrieg engine.

Thank you very much for reading.
Any comments are welcome! 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Robotech - a faiblesse for Mecha!

Dear readers, just a short message to give a heads-up to any fans of the classic 80ies Robotech series. I'm starting a collection in conjuncture with the release of the Robotech RPG Tactics 6mm miniatures game from Palladium.

A "Veritech Valkyrie" fighter defending Earth.

For anyone who grew up in the 80ies, like yours truly, Robotech represented something completely new. This show WAS my Saturday and Sunday mornings, as it was lovingly broadcasted to Denmark via SKY-TV and the DJ-Kat Show from the UK. I was dutifully up at 07.00 am awaiting the inferno of Mechas fighting of aliens in the struggle for domination over our planet.

Some of the Miniatures for the game.
Palladium have really done a nice job on these!

Of course getting this game and painting up these minis is just one big cool trip down a nostalgic memory lane, but I would also highlight the very high quality of the minis produced by Palladium. They've done a great job, and from what I've painted so far, I've really had a great experience.

The Robotech RPG Tactics game box.

I will not be posting this collection on the Black Powder Games history blog, as I like to keep a tight format in respect for my followers. So, if you're like me, and have a sore spot for cool Mecha, then drop over to my second blog and list up as follower.