Saturday, 16 September 2017

Getting ready for Storming the Citadel

For a shift in theatre we have decided to play the Chain of Command pint-sized campaign Storming the Citadel, set during Operation Citadel (Kursk) on the eastern front in 1943. You can follow AARs for all of the scenarios in the campaign here.

The campaign is interesting, if nothing else because the battle at Kursk does not strike you as the subject for a platoon level skirmish game. That said, once I had downloaded the pdf from the Too Fat Lardies website and started to read through, it's clear this could give quite a good flavour for how that battle may have looked from the level of a platoon or company commander. Forget the big picture, this is about the infantryman's war, pushing through solid defences manned by resolute Russians. In that sense it seems perfect for Chain of Command.

Perusing the support lists and the scenarios, I could see I needed to add a few more units and vehicles, plus some additional terrain. But that's good, isn't it? We are wargamers after all, we like doing this stuff, in fact we can't help ourselves. It's a sickness, I tell you.

I have posted earlier about working on a few more Russian buildings. I wasn't totally happy with the Sarissa Church and it's rather strange dome, so I made a change.

Church with my effort at a dome.  
I found a suitable moulded shape in a hardware store - the finial for a curtain rail that looked about right (well, based on my very limited knowledge of Russian architecture).

With a bit of cutting to get it closer to the size and shape I wanted, I mounted it on the roof and added the cross that came with the original building.

When it came to painting I decided my attempt at a gold finish had failed and a quick surf of Google showed that blue was a more common colour. So blue it is.

That looks a lot better.

The terrain in the two early scenarios in the campaign include many patches of rough ground/scrub.  The painted teddy bear fur I had used for my Pacific Kunai grass would be an ideal solution so I set about creating about a dozen pieces of randomly cut rough ground. The key to all this is to use a comb to spread the paint through the fibres and so avoid clumping. It's so simple, yet very effective.

The rough ground as it looks on my gaming mat.

The first scenario in the campaign is a fight over some high ground containing a Russian observation post. If the Germans can win the scenario by driving the Russians off the table they secure the heights and benefit from a pre-game barrage in scenario 3. If the Russians win they get the barrage, but only as long as their OP is not destroyed. The Germans don't know the exact location of the OP.  The Russians have three markers to represent three possible spots and these must be placed in areas of rough ground. The Germans won't know which is the real one until they get within 6". I couldn't think of what to use for the markers, but thought why not make some small OPs, I'm sure I'll find future uses for them. Using a 40x40mm base I made a simple frame from toothpicks; sculpted some sand bags from milliput and then made a camouflage net out of gauze bandage. I did put some figures into one, but they can be removed and I think they will make good dug-in positions for my Pacific games, so time has not been wasted on these. The figures were random from the spares box - a Zvezda Russian scout with binoculars and the radio operator is actually a Japanese figure from Waterloo. I marked each OP with a number underneath so that the Russian player can record which is the 'real' OP and once that is discovered we will use the OP with the figures as the 'real' OP and remove the dummies from play.

Scenario two has the Germans trying to clear minefields. The Russians have eight of these, two of which will be dummies and the German objective is to clear four minefields. If they fail the Russians will get two free minefields in Scenario 3. Chain of Command normally allows a maximum of two minefields as supports and for that reason I only have two minefield terrain pieces. I saw that John Bond has some clever ideas for making minefields on his excellent John Bond's Wargaming Stuff blog. I haven't followed John's method using old sprues, but I've copied the general idea which will allow minefield terrain pieces to be placed over existing terrain. Simple, but very practical.

One of my existing minefields

Some more generic minefield markers I've used for other games

The 'Bond Method' of minefield.  Simple. Effective.

I create platoon boards for each force, it makes set up easy and helps with deploying. You can see how I make them by clicking Making Platoon boards. I have one for the Panzergrenadiers that recently saw good use in the Von Luck campaign.

So I made one up for the Soviet Guards Platoon.

And here's the base platoon with a range of supports - snipers, flamethrower team, L46 47mm AT gun, Maxim MMG, PTRD anti tank rifle, 50mm mortar and a commissar.

Not sure how useful the commissar is to the Russians as he is in list three for supports which puts him at the equivalent of the Maxim or the 47mm AT gun, which may prove more attractive choices. Anyhow here he is in all his glory, barking out commands to remind any waverers the right direction to the fascist hordes:

The sniper team are from Zvezda and I enjoyed painting these two up in their amoeba suits. Talking of which I have just bought some of the new AB Russian scouts figures and they are now in the paint queue, as they are a support option that may turn up later in the campaign.

As always there are some artillery pieces and AFVs to add. I've had several of these for a while, just waiting to be built and painted, so now is the perfect opportunity. It's also one reason why I like gaming in 20mm, the choice (and affordability) of 1/72  scale kits is excellent. It's not that I don't have a Panzer IV, you understand, it's just that I don't have a Panzer IV Ausf F in tri-colour camouflage. Like I said, it's a sickness. The same applies with the Tiger. I have two from Armourfast, but I don't really like them. This is the Revell Tiger, considered by many in the modelling community as the best 1/72 Tiger out there. I wouldn't totally agree, as this is an Ausf E and I would expect to see zimmerit, that aside it's a fine looking model. The Panzer II is from S-Models and it's a lovely kit, a quick build but with a brass barrel. You get two in the box, so this one will be in tri-colour but the other will be in early war grey (unbelievably Grossdeutschland still had a couple of these in the tank pool in 1943). The SU-122 is from UM and the two guns - the Russian 76.2mm infantry gun and a German 20mm flak gun are both from Zvezda.

For some reason I've found it hard to get my hands on a 20mm Russian 12.7mm heavy machine gun, it seems not many people make them. Fortunately I found one at MMS (just in time it turned out as they closed down for good a few weeks later). The MMS crew were on the rather small size for 20mm and so I've used a crew from a Plastic Soldier Company set. The gun is 1/76 and the MMS crew were on the small size of 1/76, while the PSC Russians are on the large size of 1/72. They were not going to mix, so PSC get the gig on this gun.

This lot will join my existing German and Russian arsenal, some of which are pictured below. All possible supports units for the campaign.

All PSC kits

All PSC except for the Sdkfz with the AA gun (which is from Caesar)

SU76 from UM; GAZ from S-Model and ZIS 76mm from PSC

sIG33 15cm infantry gun from S-Model with a crew from AB.

IeIG18 from Zveda with a PSC crew

Airfix Pak40 with a PSC crew

You can see more terrain and modelling work for this campaign in this post.

You can find all the AARs for the campaign in this post.


  1. Very impressive! I look forward to follow the campaign. /Mattias

  2. Very nicely done, I think you have convinced me to finally get some Teddy Bear Fur.


  3. Truly outstanding work . Great job .

  4. Great job and very informative content. As you mentioned MMS closed for good, but I still see that you can order in 2020, I am interested in getting the Russian 12.7mm heavy machine gun as well, I am wondering how their miniatures size compares with AB figures as you have plentty of them.

    1. Thanks Cem. That’s interesting, I was very sad to see MMS close, I’ll have to investigate and see what’s available. As for their figures, the only ones I have are the crew for the 12.7mm HMG and they are much smaller than the AB figures. As you can see I substituted PSC figures, although I’m not entirely happy with those either. At some stage I’d like to replace them. I still have the original MMS crew but I don’t think I’d ever use them. I might see what I can do with AB.