Saturday, 13 January 2018

Crossing the Sambre-Oise Canal November 1918

As I have been away and busy with work over the last few weeks and will be busy with work as I go to St Kilda for a week next week, I have been unable to tackle any gaming things. However, I have been working on a Square Bashing scenario based on the November 4 1918 crossing of the Sambre-Oise Canal.

A recent photo of the Sambre-Oise Canal

The Battle of the Sambre was the last big action of the BEF in the First World War but is generally passed over in most histories. It is largely known (if at all) for being the place where the poet Wilfred Owen was killed whilst crossing the canal at Ors. However, further investigation into the action reveals that it was one of the most important, if not THE most important, battles on the Western Front. The German defenders were destroyed in most places and their structural integrity was in tatters. Although the German High Command had discussed surrender terms in the previous days, the crossing of the canal sealed the deal. An orderly withdrawal was impossible and within a week the Great War was over. 

Landrecies after the fighting

As research for this scenario, there isn't much to go on. The action is usually glossed over as part of the last 100 Days of the war. However, Niall Barr's excellent chapter on the battle in Changing War is a short but exciting account of the fighting, including descriptions of some of the seven VCs won during the assault. An even more in-depth account is John Derek Clayton's 2015 PhD thesis specifically on the battle. Read it HERE. Both were consulted as part of this scenario.

The scenario takes place where 96 Brigade & 14 Brigade (32nd Division) and 3 Brigade (1st Division) crossed the canal at Landrecies, Ors and Catillon, respectively. Below is the scenario map, north is the left of the map. The area around the canal is largely flat and open farmland, broken up by hedges, I've tried to simulate this with minimum amounts of forest. The light green squares are open, the dark green is forest, grey squares are urban areas and the blue lines are the canal itself. The canal can only be crossed at the broken sections.

The Germans can set up anywhere in the rows 1,2 or 3, the British begin in row 6. The German depletion rolls add an extra dice (7) per unit to simulate the poor state of the defence in places. Apart from depletions there is no pre-battle phase for this game.

The Germans have 450 points to spend, whilst the British have 620. No tanks were used in this action as only about forty were available for the entire operation and crossing the canal would have been problematic for them anyway, so the British can't choose them in their lists. However the BEF had fully integrated Lewis Guns into their platoons by 1918, so the British attackers get the LMG bonus (and extra cost) of an extra dice in the attack. The accounts speak of large amounts of German HMGs, so keep this in mind when buying German units!
Victory conditions for the British attackers are to capture all the canal crossings (use the canal rules in Square Bashing) and the village of La Folie. Canal crossings are only captured when the two squares above and below each crossing are clear of enemy. All four objectives have to be captured, if less than four but more than one are captured the game is a draw, any other result is a German victory.

When we get a chance to play this scenario, I will do a full AAR, but feel free to use the map for your own games!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Vienna, Christmas 2017/18

I have just returned from spending a two week Christmas break in Vienna with my wife. During the time there, I was able to visit a few military themed sites. The first was the Soviet memorial to the attackers of the city in 1945. These were in the Vienna Central Cemetery that was a short tram ride from the centre.

Then I had a look at the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum (the Austrian Military Museum). In their Napoleonic section there was Napoleon's saddle bag:

And the Russian artillery coat he also wore on campaign:

I really like this cutaway of a Manlicher rifle:

Then it was over to the excellent First World War exhibition. The car that the Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand and Sophie were travelling in on THAT day in Sarajevo.

The bullet hole that entered the car's body and killed Sophie.

The blood-stained uniform of the Arch-Duke.

The assassin's weapons.

The main exhibition was excellent, and had tons of things I have never seen before, like this listening device for incoming aircraft:

Austrian Stormtrooper kit:

The 38cm Seige Mortar took up most of the centre of the room.

A prototype Albatros BII:

And this interesting boardgame called 'Who Will Win?' Sales probably plummeted after November 1918...

The Second World War gallery also had some interesting kit, such as this Kubelwagon:


PAK 40:

2cm AA Gun:

A lovely 8.8cm AA gun:

Raupenschlepper Ost:

Zis-3, which I've never seen before in real life:

And a heavily corroded Borgward IV:

And to wrap up, we also visited the Belvedere gallery which housed the magnificent portrait of Napoleon on the San Bernadino Pass by David:

All in all a great visit and the HGM is well worth a visit if you're ever in the city. It was a good price, only 6 Euro entry with a 2 Euro photo ticket. The cheapest place we visited in the fortnight!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

More Romanians

With Sam Mustafa releasing the Romanian army OOBs for his game Rommel, I revisited the Romanian forces I had and worked out a 100 point mid war Rommel army. It consists of:

4 x Infantry Regiments, each of six infantry battalions and one 75mm field gun
1 x Cavalry Brigade of four Cavalry squadrons, three Jager Units and three Panzer 38(t)
1 x Guard Regiment of six elite infantry battalions and one 75mm field gun
1 x Armoured Regiment of three Panzer III, three Panzer IV and one 100mm field gun

This meant that I had just enough of the support weapons and cavalry, but was just shy of the infantry requirements by a couple of units. This prompted me to buy a pack of 24 figures from Command Decision, Old Glory sold them and their dispatch time was very quick.

I based them on bases the same size as my original figures and put three on a base:

Using a paint guide from the wargaming equivalent of Breitbart, they took no time to paint and I had eight more units ready for use in both Rommel and Rapid Fire!

And on Sunday, Ninjasaurus and I had our final game of the year. We had a quick bout of Wings of War, using some of the planes we'd never used before; three Morane-Saulnier versus three Halberstadt DIII. Slightly anachronistic, but never mind that. Here are some pictures from the game (I was the Germans):

The Germans lost 2-0. I am off to Vienna for two weeks over the festive period, so this blog will not be updated until I return, so have a merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, 16 December 2017

1/48th Fokker Dr1 WIP

A few months ago I bought myself an Eduard Fokker Dr1 1/48th model kit. It has been sat on my to do pile for a while, until last weekend, when I started work on it. 

As with all Eduard kits it comes with a nicely detailed cockpit and interior, including some nice straps for the pilot!

It will be painted as Lt Friedrich Kempf's crate from Jasta 2 in 1917, I am avoiding the clichéd red triplane... For this I need it to be streaky Olive Drab, so I experimented by painting thinned down OD over a Pale Blue basecoat. I did two layers of streaking and I am happy with the initial results. It will look much better when the entire plane is finished.

However, I will be spending Christmas in Vienna with my wife, so I won't finish this plane until the new year. But stay tune for further updates!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Spring chicken to shitehawk in one easy lesson

Over the last week or so, I painted the aircraft that came with the Plastic Soldier Company's new Battle of Britain game. it took longer than expected as I ordered some BoB decals from Dom's Decals over a month ago, but as Dom has been in absentia for a while, I waited as long as I could and found some on EBay instead. I already had a bunch of German crosses so that was a start, but all the numbers came from a set of Bf-109 specific decals. The numbers are all made up, but I like the look of them:

The British, on the other hand, are specific units. The Hurricanes are the 303 squadron, which was a Polish squadron (and amusingly, one of the 303 sqn Spitfires was mistakenly used as a advert for the Far-Right British National Party against immigration!). The Spitfires are from 19th Squadron. The decals are slightly too big as they seem to be 1/285th scale rather than 1/300th, but that just means you can see them better!

Unfortunately, I didn't have enough decals to do the extra three British aircraft, so they will have to wait a while longer. My painting was pretty rough and ready, as I did these quickly, but the decals bring everything together so it's not so noticeable. They certainly look a damn sight better than the horrible green and grey that they started in! As PSC are sending out a new set of aircraft as a lot of people complained about these, it means I'll have loads of 1/300th aircraft for BoB dogfighting! 

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Russian Huts

I bought these three Russian huts from Minibits at Fiasco a little while ago. They are actually 10mm, but at three quid each, I couldn't let them go. Anyway, huts come in all shapes and sizes in Russia. They look slightly small for my 15mm figures, but they work perfectly for the abstract nature of Rommel.

They were dead easy to paint. I base coated them in Green Grey, then inkwashed them with a dark brown to get the plank details

Finally, I drybrushed all the wood with Khaki to pick out the highlights.

The chimneys were painted in Buff then inkwashed with brown again and finally I added a splash of colour on two of them by painting the doors and window frames in green and white. It was just enough to add a little bit of detail.

As I said, they are lovely little pieces, really well detailed and sharp. The corners were snapped off, which is why, I presume, they were cheap, but with the addition of static grass this is not really noticeable.

Another lovely addition to my rural buildings for Russia and ones that didn't break the bank!

Thanks for reading!
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