Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Battle for Dover Begins.... Operation Sealion

The Battle for Dover begins.......... having focussed so far on the invasion in and around Folkestone and Hythe (there is more to come) we are expanding to the separate battles in an around Dover on S day. The town itself sits in a valley dominated by the impressive Castle. For the Germans the Town is a key objective not only as a command centre for operations protecting the channel but also a significant Harbour facility which if captured will enable the rapid development of the invasion. As would be expected the Harbour and town is well defended.
The prize awaits !
The Sealowe planners have allocated the task to a combination of the 6th Mountain Division, reflecting the complex and often steep nature of the ground to be fought over, and Fallschirmjager from the 19th Regiment. The Paratroopers have landed both west and East of the town by Glider and Parachutes, all forces will attempt over the next few days to advance into the town and capture the Harbour. (I have realised in my over ambitious way that the battle for Dover could take about five years to actually game as there are so many interesting potential scenarios and games we could play, sadly even I will have to limit my ambition, but I am definitely going to be playing some games around the Harbour and at least one in the castle itself)

The map below outlines the broad situation at the start of the campaign, the 143rd Mountain Regiment is moving inland whilst the 141st has the more onerous task of assaulting the heavily defended Western Heights or Citadel complex. There are three key objectives for the Germans to control the Harbour, the Citadel at the Western Heights, the Castle and the Langdon Battery to the east (the big red dots) there are also numerous smaller gun battery's protecting the Harbour (small red dots). There are a mix of troops in the vicinity, some experienced others less so and plenty of Home Guard. A protective ring of defences including pillboxes is in place (blue dots).
But for our first battle we are not even at Dover the 143rd Mtn Rgt have scaled the low cliffs and bluffs around Lydden Spout cutting the A20 just south of Hougham. Here they have met up with the first wave of Fallschirmjager, but attempting to move East towards to open a route along the A20 into Dover they have been met by troops hurriedly deployed from the 50th Royal West Kent, not expecting a direct assault from the cliffs, they have rushed west and called for reserves from the Citadel. Some armoured support is on the way but if it is delayed they will be in trouble.
Gebirgsjager from the 143rd Mtn Rgt deploy along the A20 their hearts are pounding having climbed up from the beach, of course at this stage they have no heavy support so will have to fight with only the weapons they have carried with them.
Infantry and an MG34 run down the road, which looks open all the way to Dover ? The ground rises uphill to their left to the village of Hougham itself.
Closer to the village Fallschirmjager have deployed again aware that speed is everything they have little in the way of heavy support only mortars which they have been able to carry with them and a single antitank rifle.
Awaiting the word to go ! The Germans can see British troops in the distance, the mortars start firing smoke to provide cover. (we are playing a fairly straightforward envelopment scenario, so the Germans just need to get across the table and into the British deployment zone)
Overview of the battlefield, the A20 running east to west across the table the ground then rises upto the village of Hougham in the distance, all British troops have to enter along one of the two roads
As veterans the Gebirgsjager know they need cover so advance through the scrap yard behind the houses.
The British are not content to sit back and let the Germans advance, one unit has moved upto the corn field whilst another has run into the Church and is now able to fire down on the attackers......the Veteran Germans buoyed by propaganda weren't expecting such a spirited defence!
Both MG34's have deployed and fire on the troops by the corn field ......but this immediately feels too static and the infantry is ordered forward at the run
At this time of dire need the the British defenders have deployed everything they could find including a old Lanchester Armoured car from the training camp, needless to say it breaks down pouring steam from a gasket (this was one of those times when a special event was just perfect😀)
All the Gebirgsjager are moving forward at the double, those on the road have just assaulted the Bren Gun Carrier with grenades but somehow failed to knock it out ?
In the village itself the Fallschirmjager have also been ordered forward, but to their dismay another Bren Carrier trundles onto the road a few hundred yards ahead, the smoke screen which their mortar teams have laid down is not protecting them from the front and they immediately start to get pinned down !
Bravely or foolishly they charge forward but come under heavy fire form all directions, veterans or not they can only take so much punishment, pinned down they try to take cover but are knocked out of the battle outside the church. (Oh if only they hadn't failed a leadership test😩)
The Lanchester is moving again and bravely trying to block the road, behind the swirling smoke the Gebirgsjager are desperately trying to get forward.
Looking up the hill towards the village you can see all the smoke drifting about but it isn't stopping all the bullets getting through.
Gebirgsjager on the main road are still unable to get themselves moving despite the urgent shouts from their commanding officer, perhaps it is the smoke causing communication problems ?
Back in the village the mortars have run out of smoke bombs and realise they should have been targeting the infantry in the church. With perfect accuracy a mortar shell lands on the church tower causing momentary panic (ok I did have to cheer at this point when I rolled an unlikely 6.....but so did the British commander 😀)
But too little too late the Bren Gun Carriers have pushed forward into the village itself, not sufficient for them to hold their defensive position, they want to chase the Germans back into the sea, even at this range the antitank rifle struggles to cause any damage
At this point with all chance of a break through eliminated the Germans chose to withdraw. A resounding victory for the British defenders Hougham will remain under British control for a few more hours at least.....let's just hope these guys realise that behind them the 141st Mountian Regiment is moving in to attack defensive positions behind them, they may even be cut off ?

A very enjoyable game, the Germans just never got themselves moving and clever (underhand) playing from the British kept them pinned down till it was too late.

You wait for ages then two come along at once....

Bit of a hobby frenzy at the moment....but I have decided everybody needs a shopping buddy, so when you aren't able to get out there is somebody else out there looking for what you want. Luckily I have Steve 😀. Who found these two in a charity shop for the princely sum of £6 for the pair.
After a bit of searching I can just get away with Bedford OB buses according to wiki 70 or so were made before the war, but then Bedford production moved to military vehicles and they only started making these again in 1945 now apparently there is a slightly difference but I am not a bus specialist so I will live with it.
These are in the livery of Jersey I think, they are splendid models so I may or may not get round to giving them a Kentish feel ? Scale wise they are 1:50. Look great with the figures and my other vehicles. Slightly challenging next to my tanks which are mainly 1:56 at the end of the day whilst lovely little vehicles in their own right they are just terrain.
If you were wondering the terrain was from our battle last night which I will blog later after chores have been done 😩

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Gebirgsjager : Operation Sealion

After a few evenings watching Game of Thrones I have managed to get the Gebirgsjager pretty much finished. Initially these will be playing as the 143rd Mountain Regiment who have landed at the base of the cliffs between Folkestone and Dover. After a brief firefight they have made the top of the Cliffs where they can now link up with the 19th Fallschirmjager Regiment and push east towards Dover.
With two boxes of Warlord Gebirgsjager and a couple of spare figures I have managed to create two squads each with an NCO and a submachine gun, two MG34's which can play separately or in the units. A command figure with a spotter and a small mortar team.
I have been pretty flexible with uniforms as I didn't want them to look too regimented, I have also thrown in some headswops to give even more variety. After all these are effectively elite commando type troops. It would be nice to have a few more to make them up to a full force of say ten units but I'm not sure if this will happen....a small mountain gun would be nice perhaps. All being well they will see action this evening 😀

Friday, 21 April 2017

Invasion 1940 and Solway Moss ?

The last day of the Easter Holidays here in Cumbria so a day off work looking after my daughter. Another trip to Carlisle with limited expectation and yet I found some more stuff ! A slightly better 1 : 50 scale jaguar SS100' the one I got last time really was too big. It needs a bit of work but will look splendid in racing green.
Second yet another interesting book, focussed on Sealion....I have amassed so many books on Sealion now I am almost struggling to remember what I have but this is a new one to the collection.
Has just a few nice photos...one I particularly like showing german infantry attempting to unload horses during an invasion exercise. This reminds me german cavalry is on the list to purchase sometime later in the year.
Finally after an aborted attempt a couple of weeks ago we stopped in at longtown to visit the Battlefield at Solway Moss. 24th November 1542. One of the lesser known battles of the Scottish Wars. I really only found out about its existence as it is covered in an aerial photo battlefield book I picked up second hand a couple of years ago. The maps are really useful when you are on the ground.
Not surprisingly there isnt masses to see on the ground but it got us out of the car for 20 minutes walking 😀
A view to the SE where the English were drawn up
Looking North to Longtown the advance direction of the scots.
According to the map and other bits I have read on the web this is the direction the Scots took when they retreated/fled the field, the ground is very flat and drained now but would have been very difficult going at the time.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

This weeks random projects : Six Day War and Kubelwagon

Working away on a few different projects this week.

First up I have pretty much completed my Kubelwagon...very simple job, really I wanted to put some markings on it but there aren't any flat spaces ! The model is Warlord as are the figures planning the next stage of the invasion.
 Second up we are looking at a new project, bringing our 6 mm games forward in time to the Arab-Israeli war. So I dug into my unpainted box and found the following tanks. T34's these can play as T34/85's a couple of IS 2's and some IS 3 heavy tanks. A good start for an Arab force. I am now working up what else I might need. Starting with some T55's some infantry and support vehicles.
Also working on my Gebirgsjager but they aren't finished yet......😀

Sunday, 16 April 2017

The Town of MDF : Part 3

Have spent some time painting the first house today. Starting with a single coat all over of cream. Then the window sills and extra stonework in light green, white for the windows. A bit of touching up and some stain to make the green look darker. It looked far too clean to start with.
Front elevation
Rear view.....
Comparison with one of my warbases buildings.

In summary scale is pretty good and as a basic building they are good. Cost I would say about £4:00 which is the basic model, glue, free card and paint. The hardest thing to estimate is time required. Conservatively I would say about 6 hours in total for this one but I would hope to get quicker with the next few. What I do plan is to make each one unique in some way 🙂

Battle for Zolochev : Operation Rumyantsev

We played our second battle in the Operation Rumyantsev campaign this weekend. The Germans having been horribly mauled are looking to bring reinforcements up to hold back the Russian advance. The Russians have captured the towns of Bogodukhov and Zolochev. But as the 18th Tank Corps under Rotmistrov pushed south of the river Merla they encountered the 3rd Panzer Division under GL Westhoven. A rare but classic encounter battle with both forces fielding very limited infantry. A tank on tank battle with a chance for the germans to stem the tide fought over the 7/8 th August 1943.

We had equal points on each side with the Germans fielding elements of the 6th Panzer Regiment and the 543 Panzerjager Regiment. Facing these are the T34's of the 18th Tank corps. With different break points victory will go to the side who can hold the longest.
Looking from the east, the outskirts of Zolochev and in the distance the advance of the Russian armour, some poor leadership rolls for the Germans early on allow the Russians to surge forward, they know that they need to get closer to reduce the range differential with the german heavy tanks.
The Germans on the other hand are somewhat slow to get going !
Eventually though a strong company of Panther tanks enters the battlefield close to the railway line
As they gradually focus on their targets they open fire at long range, the Russians have no answer and bolt into the cover of nearby fields
A view from the SW looking towards Zolochev a separate company of Panzers is moving towards the small village with a view to outflanking the Russian advance
More terrible leadership from the Germans, no idea who is in command on this right flank ! After failing several rolls and doing nothing a 'blunder' and the tanks are sent backwards, luckily they can regroup later but they never quite get back into the heat of the battle.
The Russians have used the lull to dig in in the fields and low hedges south of the Town
Overview from the east, at least on of the panthers has made it into the woods and starts to exchange fire with the T34's ahead, but the benefit of their longer range guns has been eliminated 
The panthers push forward but are forced to avoid the cover of the woods instead relying on their heavy armour ?
Whilst some Panzers dig in around the village and the small farmstead others push right upto the Russians in an attempt to outflank them
The panthers in the open draw massive concentrated fire and eventually even with their superior armour one is blown to pieces
With a choice between fire or manoeuvre and the option to break from cover both sides dig in a pummel each other casualties mounting on both sides
Mobile artillery is brought over form the german right flank which is countered by Russian SU122's close to the railway crossing
The fierceness of the fighting is reflected in the number of smoke plumes on both sides. As both sides try to outflank each other they are both approaching their break point, in fact both are one unit away from breaking, but it is the Russians who get the vital next two kills.
An aerial reconnaissance photo taken during this latter part of the battle
The point at which the Germans failed their break test, and start to pull back. With the Russian holding the ground there is no hope of rescuing the damaged panthers whilst the Russians can get their engineers repairing the T34's which litter the battlefield. The Russian commander can be heard shouting down the radio on to Kharkov .......but it will not be that easy as the Germans bring more combat hardened units into the line.

A very close battle which ended up reflecting closely the historical outcome. The Germans having to give ground but making the Russians pay a heavy price. The Germans however can't afford the loss in material and will gradually weaken.....but not yet as SS units are moving into position around Kovyagi.