The Westwind Konigsberg campaign for Chain of Command featured in the TFL Summer Special 2014 and is set in East Prussia during the early months of 1945. Two German columns are attempting to break out of the Russian encirclement of the city of Konigsberg and meet up with forces advancing from the coast and in so doing open up a corridor for the evacuation of up to 100,000 civilians.
For this particular pint-sized campaign the Germans represent an infantry platoon from the southern column and my regular opponent Dave will command these. In their path I will take charge of the Russians and try my hand at using an SMG platoon, as the campaign offers the Russians the option to select either that or a rifle platoon. I've never played using an SMG platoon before and having painted up some of the exquisite new, SMG-toting Russians from AB Figures it only seemed right I should let them see action. However that it is to speak from my heart, my head is telling me this might not be the wisest of choices. Why? Because this platoon must fight through the entire campaign with only one opportunity to call for replacements. With squads of seven men, as opposed to the rifle platoon with ten men, I might find myself running short of men. That said, those men are well armed, if somewhat short on range, so I will need to find a different tactical approach if they are to last the distance. To be honest I like the challenge, but only time will tell whether I should have listened to my head instead of my heart.
As I have done for other platoons I will need to create a platoon board for the SMG platoon. For little effort these create a very handy way to sort out my miniatures and know what I have to deploy onto the table. I already have one made up for the German platoon.
I have made a simple version for the SMG platoon for now, but will eventually get around to creating one with slots for the Russians. Given the changing number of men in each squad as the SMG platoon evolved as the war progressed I'm going to try and come up with something versatile enough to serve all the various configurations of manpower in a single board. For now this will suffice.
The campaign starts with both CO's Opinions at zero and the same with the respective Men's Opinions. The Russian platoon commander's outlook is Cheerful while the German's is Content.
This is the cheerful chap who will be leading my SMG platoon:
And these are some of the Serzhants and other junior leaders that will be under his command:
Talking of commanders the Russians have the support option of a Commissar, but this is not the old-school Commissar of 1941, this 1945 version can act as an Adjutant as well as deploy onto the table and activate on a 5. The latter bonus is that he counts for two men for the purposes of calculating shock to any unit to which he is attached, which may really help with the smaller SMG squads. At two support points he is not a cheap choice, but I have one ready just in case.
As with all campaigns this is a good excuse to add to my collection or simply finish off projects that I had started. For my Russian supports I needed to add an SU-122, this one from UM Models.
I also wanted to add some weathering and upgrades to my T34 collection, as I will be able to call on both a T34/76 or a T34/85 should I require.
I may also get the opportunity to use this BA64 armoured car from Milicast which I painted some months ago with this campaign in mind.
As the campaign is set in 1945 the Russians will have access to panzerfausts and it was very timely that AB Figures released some Russian anti-tank teams that include two figures with panzerfausts, as well as some figures with RPG43 anti tank grenades.
The Germans have a captured T34/76 as a support option and as I had an already assembled T34 just waiting to be painted I created this one in German tri-colour camouflage with large balkenkrauz decals from a 1/48 scale aircraft kit. I must confess that this is a bit of a fudged job as I have never seen a picture of a captured T34 with the spare fuel drums attached. The Germans also added commander's cupolas to many of them, so my attempt will have to represent a bit of a hybrid.
One thing I do like about the campaign is the prospect of Russians with panzerfausts stalking Germans in T34s. I think it's this sort of twist on events that makes playing games set in the twilight of the Third Reich so appealing.
The Germans can call on a wide range of their own armour and with this campaign in mind I made and painted this Jagdpanzer IV/70 - a venerable old kit from Hasegawa that comes up very well for its age. Also my first attempt at painting the late-war ambush pattern camouflage scheme.
They can also call on a StuG III F, this one from the Plastic Soldier Company.
It wouldn't be 1945 if the Germans couldn't call on a few of the big cats and so there's a Panther and a Tiger in the support lists. The Panther comes from the Plastic Soldier Company and the Tiger from Revell.
Last, but not least the Germans can call on an armoured car in the form of either an Sdkfz221 or Sdkfz222. I don't have a 221 but given the main difference is only a machine gun I think I can fudge the 222 to serve as either.
Not everything we need is complete, but I have time given we will take several weeks to play through the campaign, so on the work bench is this Pak43 88mm AT gun from Early War Miniatures, which will also be needing a crew.
And I'm upgrading my Russian AT rifle teams with some more of the great new figures from AB. These are just in need of some final flocking on their bases.
They will join two new LMG teams, also from AB.
I've also been adding more AB Germans to my collection and slowly replacing the Plastic Soldier Company figures that were the start of my WWII German infantry units. One reason was to add some variety in poses. I have found with a Panzergrenadier platoon that having six MG42 teams all in the same pose is very unimaginative, but let's be honest, who of us needs much of an excuse to buy more miniatures?
Talking of LMG teams here are some of the new recruits from AB:
These teams join a new squad of marching Germans:
I have been meaning to add wire fences to my terrain for some time as they will feature in scenarios set in numerous places including Holland (thinking Market Garden here, as I'm sure the Lardies have plenty of campaign ideas up their sleeves after their recent road trip), in Belgium, the Ardennes and in Germany. This campaign has finally nudged me into action and I've created several feet worth of wire fencing which should cover most of my needs. These were simple to make, just matchsticks on MDF strips with some thin wire from a hardware store strung between them. I made them in varying lengths but included several 24" lengths as in most cases I find that fences are in long straight lines and I'm not a fan of lots of small lengths strung together. Here are a few samples.
The fourth scenario in the campaign features a rail line and a signal box near the station at Seerappen. Given how popular HO is as a railway scale I would have thought I'd have no difficulty finding something suitable for the signal box but trying to find the balance between the right look and something sturdy and playable has not been so easy. Surprisingly I've found nothing in any of the MDF 20mm building ranges. Finally I came across this from MiniArt out of Ukraine, which is certainly a signal box but their translator clearly had a problem finding the correct words in English.
This, as you can see, is still a work in progress. It's not ideal for gaming, but I think I can make it work. As you can also see it comes in pre-coloured plastic, which is fairly hideous. No matter really, as I fully intend to paint it.
The third scenario in the campaign is set in the town of Metgethen and features a fairly prominent square with a war memorial. Given it's location it could be a bit of terrain that is central to the scenario and so I didn't want it to look like it was just an afterthought.
I have a war memorial that I scratch built several years ago for a Crossfire scenario and I plan to create a bigger base for this to feature the park and trees that are represented in the scenario map. The statue on the memorial was a cheap plastic fantasy figure that I picked up at a local gaming store. What caught my attention was her pose, as she appears to be grieving, which I thought was quite poignant. Equally significantly I thought a statue of an angel meant it didn't tie the memorial to any specific nationality.
While I've often focussed on the bigger pieces of terrain I've always loved the attention to detail that others create using scatter terrain and this is something I want to work on more. With this campaign in mind I'm creating a range of items from street lighting and supply stores through to abandoned vehicles and farm carts.
So we kick off the campaign with Scenario 1 Probe at Moditten. The fairly open terrain means I will need to think carefully about how to defend it given the short range of my SMGs. Like playing the Japanese in the Malaya 1942 campaign there is bound to be a bit of a learning curve as I find out how best to make use of the SMG platoon.
I will be posting regular AARs as the campaign plays out and links to all of these will gradually join all the other campaign AARs on the Chain of Command Campaign AARs page.