Friday 26 May 2017

Von Luck campaign Scenario 2 'Probe among the hedgerows'

Things had not gone well for the Paras in Scenario 1 Patrol along the ring contour and the Germans had come away with barely a scratch. The Para platoon has been scattered in the parachute drop and various elements are not guaranteed to turn up. The #3 section has been missing in its entirety and Platoon HQ is missing the PIAT team and the Sergeant. With only four support points available for this next scenario I really needed some more of the lads to show.

The plan was to use all four support points to bring in an extra section, with the thinking that boots on the ground are what I need most. However, that couldn't be my only consideration, as the Germans have a very generous 13 points of support, which could well mean I'd be seeing the Lorraine Schlepper with its 150mm gun, or the Pak 40 in the half track. Would the PIAT team stop wandering around the Normandy countryside and turn up? I desperately hoped they would for this scenario so that I would have better options for support.

Well, I rolled for the missing teams and got.... no one. Meaning I was still short the Platoon Sergeant and the PIAT team from HQ and the entire #3 Section (that's two bren teams and a sniper, all of whom will be sorely missed). I was already down three men, with two killed and one wounded. What I did know was that my single full strength section and the accompanying depleted section would have to face, at the very least, a fresh panzer grenadier platoon. That's not even factoring what Dave would chose with his support points. Not very promising.

I used two of my four support points to bring in a PIAT team, as this would be my sole defence against any AFVs. The remaining two points were used for a bren team to make up numbers in #2 section. Not enough to do the job, I feared.

The Germans started well, gaining four free patrol marker moves before the Paras even started. Choosing to use only three markers Dave moved aggressively forward and had soon locked down all his markers where he wanted them before I was totally happy with mine. So the JoPs looked like this:

I had options to cover both flanks, but the big questions was, with what? Two sections just can't cover this much terrain. This was going to be a short game, I was sure.

The Germans deployed a squad to each flank and an MMG support choice went into the woods from the central JoP. Until then I had elected to remain hidden waiting to gauge where he was coming from, but the arrival of the MMG team in the woods and so close to one of my JoPs could not be ignored.

The most advanced German JoP covered by an MMG

Fearing a bold move by the Germans down the middle I decided I would deploy #1 section outside the wall surrounding the farm and put them on overwatch. From there they could cover the centre and turn to cover my left flank if needed.

With the MMG over 12" away, we don't have line of sight to each other.....yet.

Next phase I roll a double phase. Is this my brief moment of glory? I'm not sure, but decide to move the section forward and see if we can shoot up the MMG team. They are not on Overwatch and the Germans don't have a CoC dice available to interrupt. I roll for a normal move hoping for an average roll that would get me somewhere within Sten range, but the dice over-cook this a bit and I roll a 12. That takes us charging forward and to within 4" of the MMG team.

Para aggression carries them too far forward, too fast.

I didn't really want to charge an MMG with a full crew and no shock, but so be it. It could have gone terribly wrong, but in the end I wipe out the entire MMG team, but take three dead and three shock in the process. With my low number of men, these three losses are painful indeed. Dave rolls for his Force Morale, but the Germans are hardened to combat and the death of five men leaves them unmoved. Now, what I should have done was use the next phase to withdraw, but I was feeling a bit over confident and decided to sit near his JoP and deny it to him. Who knows, the turn may end soon?

I pay for this overconfidence when Dave rolls a double phase himself and a German squad deploys from across the sunken road and hits me with a hail of MG42 fire. I take two more casualties before belatedly deciding to retire back towards the farmhouse. That was all very exciting, but costly.

Meanwhile, on my right flank, another German squad that had deployed into the orchard has also taken advantage of the double phase to move quickly up to the stone wall.

Now this is a problem, as they are about 16" from the table edge and a scenario victory. They cannot be ignored. In my next phase, while the remnants of #1 section pull back to the farm, I use a roll of 2 to deploy #2 section into the farm house and farm yard. A bren team goes upstairs in the farm house and the other bren team into the farmyard covering the open ground to my right. Unfortunately I don't have a 3 so they won't be on overwatch, but I do have a CoC dice available for an interrupt.

#2 section bren team guard the flank.

That seems to give the Germans grounds for some hesitation on my right. However things haven't been quiet on my left flank. Despite the large amount of open ground the Germans are moving in some strength and with four German squads now deployed I can see that Dave hasn't bothered with any AFVs and has gone for boots on the ground instead. That PIAT support is wasted. So that means we have four panzer grenadier squads against my two Para sections. I just don't think I can be effective on all flanks, so at best I hope that I can inflict some casualties and retire from the table.

That's a lot of firepower!

As if that doesn't look ominous enough, there are a few more new arrivals on this flank in the form of a forward observer and the German senior leader, both position themselves behind the hedgerow ready to give support and leadership. It's not looking good.

Dave doesn't know quite how thin on the ground I am (one of the great ways CoC creates fog of war, don't you love it?), but I can't see how I can stop this lot. My battered #1 section lurks behind the hedgerow, contemplating wisely that a move up to the hedgerow itself can only mean being on the wrong end of a fire fight.

"I think we'll stay where we are for now boys"

So while Dave was moving cautiously down that left flank, he took advantage of a double phase to have the German squad on my right flank make a bold move for the table edge. His first move leaves him right in the open, in sight of the bren team, but within a possible normal move off the table edge in his second phase. It was time to use my CoC dice to interrupt and the bren in the farm yard opened up.

There won't be a better shot than this.....

I only managed two hits, both of which had no effect. Hmmm, that didn't bode well. Instead of using the second phase to move his squad off the table, Dave decides this is too good a chance to inflict more pain on the paras. With a blast of MG42 fire he kills two of the bren team and inflicts three shock, pinning the remaining crew member and the attached junior leader. That's seven casualties so far for the paras and overwhelming German force still heading their way.

With the platoon lieutenant on the table trying to command the defence, it's clear to him, as it is to all the paras, that the day belongs to the Germans. A withdrawal into the town itself is in order and with that the paras use their next phase to slip away.

The platoon leader calls it a day.

Well, that was short and bloody. The Germans lost five casualties, all from the MMG team and so their 2nd Platoon remains at full strength. With the German 1st Platoon getting their wounded man back from Scenario 1 the Germans still have three full strength platoons to use. The Paras have lost four men killed from the core platoon and for the next scenario will have two wounded men unavailable. In the next scenario I have the option to bring in a fresh platoon, but that one will have to last the full distance, so I need to give this some careful thought. The Para CO is not impressed and his opinion is now at -3 which will cost me a support point in future. The men have taken the loss of their comrades reasonably well and still have some faith in their commanders, their opinion is at -1. Despite all this the platoon commander's outlook remains happy (quite why, I'm not sure!).

The Germans are feeling pretty good about themselves. The CO's opinion at at +2 and the men's opinion at +1.

So far it's going all the German's way, let's hope the Paras can put up stiffer resistance once we get into the confines of street fighting in Le Bas de Ranville. Despite taking a bit of a hammering so far, I'm really enjoying this, my first pint sized campaign.

So we progress to Scenario 3 Attacking the Corridor of Death.

Thursday 25 May 2017

More Japanese and Australians

Nearly there with the Pacific Australians and Japanese.  I've finished off another section of Japanese, this time in camouflaged helmets.  Once again these are from the Eureka 20mm Japanese range and they are a fine set of figures:

So now I have two completed rifle sections and one grenade discharger section, plus a Type 92 MMG and a Type 92 70mm battalion gun:

Two completed rifle sections
Two rifle sections, one grenade discharger section, 70mm battalion gun and MMG.

To fill out the Australian platoon I bought some of the Warmodelling 20mm Australians.  These would give me a 2" mortar,  Forward Observer, Boyes Anti tank rifle, a sniper and a junior leader with a rifle.  I wasn't overly impressed with the figures when they arrived, the moulding was not particularly sharp and there was a fair bit of excess metal to remove.  In some cases it felt like I was sculpting more than just cleaning up. As is so often the case, once figures are cleaned up, primed and painted they often turn out much better looking than first impressions would give.  While these aren't up to the Eureka standard, they are a good fit scale wise and will work well.

And making a comparison with the Eureka figures.  Eureka on the left, Warmodelling on the right.  I think you can see they fit well together.

Two riflemen and the bren team on the left are Eureka, the rest are Warmodelling

Warmodelling figure in the centre with Eureka left and right

Tuesday 23 May 2017

Sorting out some shelf queens

I've had a few too many half completed AFVs sitting on the shelf for far too long, so this week I've been finishing these off.  These are a diversion from the Pacific project but give me a bit of a break from that as well.  So first up, in any colour, as long as it's Russian green, here comes the Red Army:

Plastic Soldier Company T34/76

S-Models ISII

Milicast BA64 - unfortunately it suffered a broken MG barrel and needs a repair job.

Next up, in any colour as long as it's panzer grey, we have some early/mid war German armour:

Plastic Soldier Company PzIII

Trumpeter StuG III

Plastic Soldier Company Marder II

After a dose of dull monotones we now go to the opposite extreme for some German late war ambush scheme tri-colour camouflage.  Really enjoyed painting these two.

Hasegawa's venerable old PzIV/70

I think this is the UM Hetzer, I can't actually remember

Last, but not least and back to monotone again, this is the Airfix Churchill Crocodile.  I've made a few modifications to the original kit, but not that much:

Friday 12 May 2017

20mm Eureka Japanese platoon progress report

The first rifle/LMG section is now finished and based, as is the Grenade Discharger section.  These figures have a lot of dynamic poses and were easy to paint.  I need to do two more rifle/LMG sections and then I have the full platoon ready.  With a few more pieces of scenery to work on it won't be long before I have enough to get a game of Chain of Command on the table.

Here is the rifle section:

I wanted to do some more work on the leader (see my previous post).  On reflection his large helmet could just be one with a canvas cover, so on that basis I painted it differently and I think this works better and helps reduce the perceived size of his head (it is still bigger than the other figures, but now looks a little less so).  I also lightened his mouth and this makes it look less like a gaping black hole, so all up I'm feeling a little happier with this fella.

The flag has worked better than I expected so don't be surprised to see more of these!

So here is the grenade discharger section.  This is the full strength section according to pre and early war establishment.  As the war progressed this section was steadily depleted to fill the other sections with riflemen until finally it was often reduced to a single grenade discharger and a small crew.

Lastly this is a Type 92 battalion gun from the Waterloo/1815 plastic set.  I made this a few years ago for Crossfire and see no need to rebase it.  Some of the figure painting could do with brightening up and I'll get to that eventually, meantime it's ready for the table should I need it.