From The Halls Of Montezuma

Stephen goes all John Wayne on us.

I’ve toyed with the idea of doing some WW2 games for a while but never really knew what I wanted to do. I had a false start with Flames Of War some time ago but I found the rules so dire that it soon fell by the wayside.

But then a recent issue of Wargames Illustrated had some plastic 28mm US infantry as a freebie. I bought an issue, put them together and then slapped some paint on them. I enjoyed it so much that I decided that 28mm WW2 was the way I was going to go. I also decided that I would focus on small-scale infantry actions rather than huge set-piece battles – Chain Of Command has been played at the club and it seemed like the scale of game I was interested in.

I then bought another copy of WI so I could get some more. Realising this could be an expensive way to go about it I then asked if anyone at the club had an unwanted sprue from the magazine. Phil and Marcus both stepped up (cheers, chaps).

When it came to painting them I made a snap decision.

I was going to paint them in standard European theatre colours and do late war games. Then I thought about the scenery. Woods, roads, hills, etc would be no problem – I have plenty already. It was the houses though, that made me pause. I wanted to do this on the cheap because WW2 would never be a ‘main’ period for me, so it had to pay its way in terms of money and storage space. Piles of European houses, that would not be used for anything else I do, would take a lot of space and money.

So I suddenly thought, ‘Pacific war!’

Trees, trees, and more trees.

I know there’ll be some out there who will object and say the figures aren’t wearing Marine issue equipment. Quite frankly, I couldn’t give a monkey’s. Once painted, especially in that duck-hunter camouflage the Marines wore, I reckoned no one would be able to tell.

So I went for it.

They were given an all-over spray of khaki. Flesh and weapons were given a base-coat of a chocolate brown colour. I then washed all webbing and weapons with GW’s agrax earthshade. I use VMJ medium flesh for…er…flesh. The wooden bits on the guns were picked out with GW’s Bestial Brown (or whatever they now call it). The webbing was given a base-coat made from a mix of khaki and mid green, and a bit of white was added for highlights.

For the uniforms I decided to mix it up a bit to create a rag-tag look. Some would be in green, some in duck-hunter, some in a mix of the two. For the green just choose your favourite olive drab colour. For the camouflage the base colour was a 50/50 mix of khaki and white. And then blobs of chocolate brown and mid-green were randomly dotted all over.

The sprues themselves give a good mix of poses. I managed to get a good variety, even better with a slight bit of chopping up. I’ve given each squad a sergeant (armed with a Thompson), two BARs, and nine M1-armed infantry.

I also scratch-built a flamethrower using bits from the sprue.

The motivation is still there so I’m making head-way in painting these whilst I can. I will need a few more to complete a platoon. And I will also have to get some Japanese. So an order to Warlord will be made later in the year.

By the time it’s all done and ready it will likely be 2020, so for next year some WW2 games will be in the offing.

Air War Germany 1944

Our new Society campaign for 2019 kicked off with the first day of gaming yesterday.

The campaign uses GMT Games “Bomber Command” board game (see https://www.gmtgames.com/p-302-bomber-command.aspx) to set up tactical actions, which are then played out using 1/600 aircraft from the Tumbling Dice range (see http://www.tumblingdiceuk.com/product-category/1600) and GMT Games “Nightfighter” rules (see https://www.gmtgames.com/p-233-nightfighter.aspx).  The action is set in early 1944 and the Bomber Command Force is controlled by the Umpire.

The Bomber Command Force. Lancaster MkI/IIIs of A and B Flights, 460 Squadron RAAF and 4 De Havilland Mosquito Mk IV bombers of 692 Squadron

In our first session the five German players each commanded their own JagdDivision of Night Fighters, aiming to intercept the incoming bomber Command raids that night.

The NachtJagd force. From left to right – Bottom: five Messerschmitt Bf-109 G6s of JagdGeschwader 300, 301 and 302 and one 262 B-1a/U1 of NachtJagdGeschwader 11.  Middle Messerschmitt Bf110s – four G4 and one F4.  Top: five Junkers Ju88 C6s of NachtJagdGeschwader 1-5

The Germans were lulled into a bit of a false sense of security as they did not spot any incoming raids until turn 3.  The air picture then clarified and the main force raid was identified using a northern route, with a mosquito raid to the south and two other diversionary raids emerging from the main force attack.

Junkers Ju88 C6 radar equipped night fighters of the NachtJagdGeschwader

The first unit to strike were the Ju-88 C-6 of Mike’s II Gruppe, NJG3, which had been placed on overwatch under control of the defensive radar chain in Northern Germany.  They attacked as the Main Force Raid Lancasters passed over the radar line.  However, this unit had been dispersed by the poor weather on take off, reducing its impact.

Lancaster MkI/IIIs of A Flight, 460 Squadron RAAF. The Lancaster had become the main type of heavy bomber in Bomber Command by 1944. “D Dog” was crewed as a Mid-Upper Air Gunner by the Society Treasurer’s father, then RAF Sergeant Ray Harris in 1945

Fighters were given only a very general indication of where the bombers were by their heavily jammed ground radar and mainly relied on their own airborne radar to find targets.  However, only 2 of the players had the new sets that were free from British jamming.

In the action that followed, it was Chris that got in the first attack, badly damaging Lancaster C for Charlie in a hasty attack.  However, he’d picked the wrong plane to mess with and his Ju88 was shot down by return fire from the defending gunners.

The first air to air attack. Lancaster ‘C for Charlie’ is winged, but shoots down the attacking Ju88 C6 of Chris

Next up was Bob, who homed in on Lancaster E for Easy.  However, this plane’s gunners were really on alert and they opened fire first and shot the Ju88 down before it had a chance to land any hits.

The second air to air attack. Lancaster ‘E for Easy’ plays a blinder and shoots down the attacking Ju88 C6 of ‘Experten’ rated Bob

However, at last the NachtJagd managed to get off the scoreboard as John locked on to Lancaster H for How, damaging the target on his first pass.  A second pass shot the Lancaster down.  The gunners never saw what hit them.

The first score for the NachtJagd as ‘H for How’ is shot down by the attacking Ju88 C6 of John

With the first attack completed the players returned to the raid map.  Here diversionary Mosquito raids were beginning to hit their targets in Duisburg, Witten and Hamburg.    The Duisburg raiders got clean away without being intercepted.  However, the only unit equipped with high-speed specialised He-219 A-2 Night Fighters, Chairman John’s  I Gruppe NJG1, was now placed on overwatch in the radar line astride their return route and were vectored in to attack the Mosquitos that had raided Witten.  The Ju-88s and Me-110s in the air in the area were too slow to catch the Mosquitos.

De Havilland Mosquito Mk IV bombers of 692 Squadron, part of the Light Night Striking Force. These delivered small high level raids as diversions from Main Force raids. They were unarmed and relied on their speed to escape interception.

In this second action the unarmed Mosquito Mk IVs played a cat and mouse game as the Heinkels tried to home in on their targets, relying on their speed for protection.  Mike managed to get into position to make a power dive to pounce on one of the raiders, but his approach was spotted and the Mosquito attempted to shake him off with a corkscrew turn.  Mike second guessed this and followed the Mosquito through the turn, then shot it down with a well-aimed burst, as it began a second corkscrew evasion.

The raid will continue at the next session in April.

At the end of session 1 the league table points scored are as follows (it is worth noting that the Germans were stupendously unlucky in their dice rolls to lose 2 Night Fighters in air to air combat):

Mike (2JD)                       3            +2 for Mosquito shot down, +1 for GCI attack

Chairman John (3JD)  2             +1 for Lancaster shot down, +1 for GCI attack

Dave (1JD)                        0             no gains, no losses

Chris (7JD)                     -1.5       +.5 for Lancaster damaged, -2 for Ju88 shot down

Bob (4JD)                         -2         -2 for Ju88 shot down

 

Chain of Command – and no Chain of Command

 

We had two games running at our last meeting.
The first was 15mm refight of the opening clash of the American Civil War, the First Battle of Bull Run. The second was a 25mm action using Chain of Command.
In the first game Andy and Jon led the Federal Army against Steve and Mark with the combined Confederate Armies of Beauregard and Johnston.
This used Steve’s 15mm figures and was a third playtest for his home grown, Brigade level rules.  One of the features of this action was the fairly chaotic command arrangements of the newly raised, largely volunteer armies, which arrived over the course of the action.  This means that units from the same command were set up to appear at different points on the battlefield, meaning that many brigades were hard to co-ordinate as they were out of their command radius.

We managed to reverse history with this one with the Federals seizing the high ground and seeing off all of the Confederate attempts to get it back.  Steve’s rules make for an enjoyable and fast paced game and after a few tweaks to fine tune things are ready for another outing!

In our second game fast forward to 1944 and Dave and Pete led their American paratroopers (with some help from an attached Sherman tank)against a position defended by German paratroopers under Alan and John.  Figures and terrain from Alan’s 25mm collection.  Alas the Sherman support was to no avail – picked off in an ambush by a Panzer killer team armed with Panzerschreck and Panzerfaust anti-tank weapons.  These rules can be the source of some nasty surprise if your opponents save up command points to deploy ambushes!

 

Open Day 2018

The club is holding its annual Open Day on Saturday June 23rd (11am to 4pm). This when we put on many games and open our doors for all to come and visit and get a much wider idea of what we do and the games we play. We try to put on a good variety of games across all the popular periods and scales, all of which are open to visitors to join in. We offer a special discounted membership rate for anyone who joins the club on the day. There’s also a prize draw sponsored by local manufacturer Brigade Models for all visitors.

This year there are seven games, including one put on by Milton Hundred Wargames Club, our nearby friends and neighbours. The six club games are as follows:

The Fall of the Ramas Echor – a 28mm Lord of the Rings game set just before the Battle of Pelennor Fields, TA3019.

The Second Battle Of Sluys AD1370 – 28mm Medieval action using Lion Rampant rules.

Fields of Glory – a 15mm ancients game using the FoG ruleset.

Sharp Practice – 28mm Napoleonic skirmish action in the Spanish Peninsula.

WW2 Naval – early war action between the French and Italian navies in the Mediterranean.

Gaslands – post-apocalyptic car racing.

Directions to the club’s venue in Linton, near Maidstone, can be found on our website.

Britain Will Not Last The Month

Obenstleutnant Heinze Siebenundfunfzig, Staffels 5.KG76 and 7.JG51

Aircraft: 9 JU88-1 and 8 ME109-3

Six ME109s stayed closely to the bombers for support while two fighters were allowed to roam. Three JU88s were assigned rail-yards as a target while six were assigned a group of oil storage tanks. The bombers and escorting fighters were to stay in a tight group until near their respective targets. Ten minutes before target we were met by a large number of Hurricanes who bore straight in on the bombers. Our fighters shot down one Hurricane in a head-on attack as they passed over the bombers. The British pilots bravely concentrated most of their effort on the bombers giving our fighters an advantage. The 20mm canons were especially effective since our pilots were shooting accurately. The bombers rear gunners were making steady hits with their 30 calibres, managing to down at least one British fighter. The bombers took numerous 30 calibre hits and all but one managed to return; three had serious damage and all had been hit at least several times. The fighter pilots claimed 18 kills.

A navigational problem caused the bombers to continue past their targets before turning for home. This error was caused by my failure to submit sufficiently detailed orders. Fortunately, it had little effect on the mission or the casualties. This will not happen again (if I still have a command). Heil Hitler!

Nine bombers completed their run on their targets; two failed to release because they were not aligned. The results from above looked promising, especially on the oil tanks.

With more raids like this one Britain will not last out the month.

A Very Bad Day

Squadron Leader Duncan MacDonald, CO 213 Sqn, Tangmere

Scrambled by sector in response to a German raid, the Hurricanes of 213 Sqn climbed to maximum altitude and spotted a formation of Ju88s escorted by Me109s below them, heading North. A similar formation of German Do17s and escorts to the East was engaged by 602 Sqn. In accordance with doctrine 213 Sqn pressed home the attack against the bombers, diving to engage the Ju88s head on; passing behind them and then turning to pursue them.

While our aircraft attacked the bombers they were in turn attacked by the Me109s; the German cannon reaping havoc among the Hurricanes, with many of the squadron’s aircraft being shot down.
The Ju88s pressed on towards their targets, a railway marshalling yard and a fuel tank farm, with the remaining Hurricanes in pursuit. One Ju88 was brought down, but most of the rest unleashed their bombs on target.

As the Ju88s turned towards RAF Linton the last of the Hurricanes was brought down.
A very bad day for the squadron.

Achtung – Spitfire !

From officer commanding 9.KG76, Hauptmann Joachim Roth.

Two flights of bombers (6 x Do17) from 9. KG76 were designated to target the power station and one flight (3 x Do17) were assigned to the sidings; all escorted by 4 Bf109E from 8. JG51with another 4 Bf109E flying independently.

As we neared the targets two fighters broke off to get behind the approaching Spitfires. However, we were surprised that the Spitfires grouped up and attacked the fighters and not the bombers as expected.
Our fighters were soon losing numbers fast however this gave the bombers a clearer run at the targets. All of the bombers released their bombs over the assigned targets; however accuracy was not particularly good.

Our fighters took a number of wrong turns and were not as effective as they should have been especially against the tight turns of the Spitfires. Eventually 3 of our Do17s assigned to the power station attack and all our fighters were destroyed; the remaining bombers, one of which was severely damaged, broke off and headed for home.

Scramble Spitfires

Squadron Leader Hetherington – Smythe, CO 602 Sqn – Tangmere

The squadron was scrambled along with Hurricanes from 213 Sqn to intercept a raid into southern England. We were vectored onto the raiders numbering some 18 bombers with numerous escorting fighters.

We climbed to high altitude with two flights providing top cover. The Hurricanes were at lower altitude to the west. The raiders were in two more or less equal groups. The Hurricanes went for the western group, whilst 602 moved to engage the Eastern group. Initial contact with this group was on our 11:00 someway below us. The initial contact made interception tricky as we would approach nearly head on. Using our height and speed advantage the squadron moved to the SW with a view to engaging from the beam and stern of the group. However, the loose escorting fighters were going to be a problem. Therefore, the squadron was kept concentrated and focused on the escorting fighters. We managed to overwhelm them destroying seven and damaging one for two damaged Spitfires. This took time and the bombers were able to reach their target with minimal losses, one destroyed and one lightly damaged. The Hurricanes trying to concentrate on the bombers suffered at the hands of the escorting fighters.

It is suggested that the Duxford Big Wing concept is developed so that our fighters engage both the escorts and the bombers. I considered joining the Hurricanes in engaging the western group, at the time going for the closer group seemed the way ahead. On reflection the Spitfires concentrating on the western fighters would most likely have allowed the Hurricanes to deal with the bombers more effectively.

Paul had to leave early so Andy took over 602 Sqn.

The squadron continued to attack the Do17s and their escorting Me109s as they turned for home, eventually shooting down the last Me109 and three of the nine Do17’s. Part of the Squadron headed west to assist the Hurricanes of 213 Sqn. Only one plane from 602 Sqn was shot down, LO-J.

Vapour Trails Over Linton

A WW2 battle report from Andy King

Introduction

This game was staged a short notice to fill in for another game that had been postponed.

The scenario was a raid by two squadrons of German bombers with fighter escort, with two squadrons of British fighters opposing them.

We used Majestic 12 Games’ Spitting Fire rules with some additional home-grown rules for bombers and flak. Although, typically, I forgot to bring the scenario rules and the flak and target record sheets with me, so these had to be improvised.

Forces
Luftwaffe
Bob commanded two squadrons:
• 5.KG76 (F1+XN) consisting of 9 x JU88A-1s
• 7.JG51 (# + I) consisting of 8 x Bf109Es.
Kim commanded two squadrons:
• 9.KG76 (F1+XT) consisting of Do17Z-2s
• 8.JG51 (# + I) consisting of 8 x Bf109Es.

RAF
Paul commanded 602 squadron (Code LO) with 12 Spitfire Mk 1s.
Andy commanded 213 squadron (Code AK) with 12 Hurricane Mk 1s.

One of the house rules concerning bombers was to require them to stay at a set altitude until they had released their bombs; another was to require that some of the fighters remained as close escort to the bombers, rather than having all of them performing fighter sweeps ahead of the bomber force.

With the terrain laid out (a mixture of Irregular Miniatures, Navwar and Brigade Models) five potential targets were defined: an airfield (RAF Linton), a power station, a fuel tank farm, a railway marshalling yard and some railway sidings. Each of the German players were asked to make a note of their allocated target(s), but not to let the British side know which had been selected.

Victory points would be awarded as follows:
Fighter shot down: 2 VP
Bomber shot down: 4 VP
Each damage point inflicted on ground target: 1 VP

The players deployments left Paul (602 Sqn) facing Kim (9.KG76 and 8.JG51) and Andy (213 Sqn) facing Bob (5.KG76 and 7.JG51).

Individual reports from the players will follow, but in the end the game was a German Victory, 48 VP to 32 VP. All aircraft are from Tumbling Dice with decals from Dom’s Decals.

Sicilian Channel – June 1940

A game report by Paul French

Introduction

Following the successful bombardment on Tripoli and Benghazi, units of the Mediterranean Fleet have been detached to sweep the Sicilian Channel. Warned by air reconnaissance the Italians have sortied two strong cruiser and destroyer groups to intercept.

Order Of Battle

RN Forces

2nd Division, 7th Cruiser Squadron
HMS Gloucester, HMS Liverpool, Town Class (2nd Group) CL.

14th Destroyer Flotilla
HMS Mohawk, HMS Nubian, Tribal Class DDs; HMS Jervis, HMS Juno, J Class DDs

Italian Forces
3rd Cruiser Divison
Pola, Zara Class, CA Trento, Trento Class, CA Bolzano, Bolzano Class CA.

11th Destroyer Division
Artigliere, Camicia Nera, Aviere, Geniere
All Soldati Class, DD

12th Destroyer Division
Lanciere, Carabinieri, Corrazziere, Ascari
All Soldati Class, DD

Contact

Screening destroyers made contact at 02:03, NW of Benghazi, at a range of about 9000 yards, starshells were deployed copiously from both sides but failed to illuminate enemy ships. Closing at a combined speed of 40 knots though meant that the action was fought at close range.

By 02:09 the Britsih commander (Jon) was aware he was in contact with a significant and superior force.

Holding his course he was able to get into a good torpedo position. Whilst the Italians (Paul & Mark), tried to get the 12th Div ahead and bring the cruisers into action.

The initial exchange resulted in minor damage to Nubian, Corrazziere and Trento. The Italian 3rd Division was blocked for a short period by the 12th Division. It was all that the Liverpool and Gloucester needed. Heavy fire came down on Corriziere and Lanciere . Leaving them burning and stationary – in torpedo water.

A few minutes later two torpedoes hit each destroyer – putting the fires out….. Nubian came under concentrated from the 11th Div and was left with overwhelming fires and flooding. The 3rd Divison cruisers landed effective fire on Gloucester.

At this point Jon decided discretion was the better part of valour and withdrew to the SW under smoke. Nubian was finished off by the cruisers and immediate contact was lost.

Outcome

A winning draw for the RN, as the Italians lost one more destroyer. Both sides had a destroyer with light damage and a cruiser (Trento and Gloucester) with minor damage. The RN really needed to retire to the east to join the battlefleet by daylight as being close to Sicilian and North Africa airfield in daylight was likely to be trying.

Rules

The game was played using Command at Sea, Version 4. Which gave a good feel for a night action. The range was down to 5000 yards at one point and attacks were potentially devastating. In fact the bulk of the damage was inflicted in two, three minute bounds which correlates well with historical actions. The smaller RN force was really at less of a disadvantage as the very low visibility meant that the larger Italian force found it difficult to get to grip.

Historical Outcome

The RN force carried out a bombardment of Tobruk, later rejoining the battlefleet. Other units were engaged at Benghazi and units were detached on anti-shipping sweeps. Italian units sortied from Messina and Taranto, covering the Sicilian Channel and sweeping into the Aegean, but failed to make contact.