Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Elements of the brigade are represented in the game, including the armoured panzer grenadier battalion pictured here. Each of the three companies (15 figures) are carried in two hanomags and are supported by a mortar platoon and HQ group with a "Drilling" AAA hanomag providing air cover - quite a powerful force. The battalion will be supported in its attack down the northern road by 2 companies of assault guns. The figures are mainly Chiltern with a few Raventhorpe infantry in winter camo thrown in.
The vehicles and figures for the game are now all finished, save for a group of civilian "refugees". I am currently working on the remaining wood bases and buildings that are needed to complete the terrain. A tight schedule, but I should get there!!
Friday, 19 August 2011
Volksgrenadier divisions were an attempt to replace many of the formations lost during the summer of 1944. These hastily created divisions were generally understrength and lacking in equipment. Many of the men were drawn from redundant air and naval units and were largely untrained in infantry skills. Nonetheless, some of these divisions, which made up the majority of the German infantry in the Ardennes, fought surprisingly well. One such was the 18th, which operated with great skill in the fighting around St Vith. This battalion would be classed as "regular", rather than "militia" using Rapid Fire! rules.
Next to be completed are the FBB panzer grenadiers. The figures are done, but the various vehicles still need a little work. Hopefully I will be able to post the results soon.
Friday, 12 August 2011
Both sides will find it difficult in this game I think. The Americans are rather thin on the ground to begin with and have little in the way of armoured support. The task force from 7th Armoured will have to negotiate the refugee choked town of Rodt before they can offer any assistance. The Germans, whilst having better armour, will find their infantry very exposed as they attempt to cross the open ground. Hopefully it will offer a close game.
As things stand the majority of the American force is ready. I still have most of the German vehicles and maybe 25% of the figures still to do. I also need to make a few more wood modules and the whole of Rodt still needs building. A busy 3 weeks ahead I think!
Thursday, 11 August 2011
I thought that a little information on the forces involved might be of interest at this stage. It is a fairly small game, involving the equivalent of a couple of battalions a side. The American defenders at the start represent the kind of scratch force hastily put together all along the Ardennes front. The advance force around Ober Emmels consists of a company of engineers with a Sherman dozer in support and a second engineer company dug in on the high ground overlooking the village. Also on the hill is an OP for an armoured artillery battalion of 3 x SP 105mm howitzers which is deployed close by. Another, slightly larger force, is deployed in and around the town of Rodt and consists of a 3rd engineer company, supported by an armoured infantry company, with MMG and mortar platoons attached; a recce group of a Stuart light tank, an M8 Greyhound armoured car and a couple of jeeps loaded with infantry. There is also a 3" anti-tank gun. The company sizes are a bit larger than normal for Rapid Fire! as we find that infantry tend to wither away fairly quickly. The engineer companies are all 12 figures each, whilst the armoured infantry are in 16s.
As the German attack opens, a task force from 7th Armoured Division arrives on the outskirts of Rodt to bolster the defence. This comprises two more armoured infantry companies in M3 half-tracks, supported by a couple of tank companies. Before they can intervene however, they will have to make their way through the town, which is choked with refugees fleeing the fighting.
The next post will detail the German attackers.
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
The Game is based on German attempts to envelop and capture the important town of St Vith, early in the Ardennes operation. In reality there had been little in the way of snowfall at this time, but I really did want to make this a "snow terrain" game. I also wanted to represent the Fuhrer Begleit Brigade (FBB); a curious formation, based on one of the units responsible for guarding Hitler and repeatedly expanded to a powerful brigade sized armoured formation. One of its main weapons was the Jagdpanzer IV L70(a), a high-sided and relatively rare variant (only 278 were produced) of the Jagdpanzer IV L70 tank destroyer. This "Alkett" version mainly saw service on the Eastern front, but a battalion of them formed part of the FBB's panzer regiment in the Ardennes campaign. Raventhorpe's Ready to Roll range had recently released a lovely model and I fancied painting up a few!
The buildings are made from 2mm plasticard with internal floors and removable roofs. The construction style owes almost everything to that doyen of scratch building, Mick Sewell. The terrain boards are constructed from some old TSS modules that I had from years back (I normally use the much denser blueboard, but it seemed a shame to waste them). These are based on 3mm mdf, with card strips to protect the vulnerable edges, before covering with several coats of textured paint and a layer of artificial snow, which gives a nice "glistening" effect. The roads are powdered Tetrion, suitably weathered and painted.
The next few posts will show some of the figures and vehicles, with more shots of the battlefield as it develops.