Tuesday 28 November 2017

Thursday 23 November 2017

A Soviet Steamroller? The Soviet 9th Guards Mechanised

The release of documents to historians after the fall of the Soviet Union has given a new insight into The Eastern Front in WWII. It turns out that German General's memoirs written after the war for their new NATO allies were about as reliable as official publications of the Russian Communist Party.

The image given by said general is of supremely capable German Divisions of √úbermensch slaying all around them but being swamped by a sea of Untermenschen, like hosts of mice bringing down elephants. But how real was this?

Well, the Soviet 9th Guards Mechanised Corps was ordered to concentrate on the 4th January, 1945, to break through the German Hungarian defences in a night attack in the fighting around Budapest and then to exploit deeper in axis territory to capture key points.

The heart of a Red Army Mechanised Corps were its three mechanised brigades, and its single tank brigade – note that a Soviet Corps is closer in strength to a western division.  The paper strength of a mechanised Corps in 44/45 was:
246 Armoured Fighting Vehicles (183 T-34, 21 SU-76, 21 ISU-122, 21 ISU-152)
16,438 personnel: about 6,500 infantry in nine motorised rifle battalions and a single tank rider battalion
3 Tank Regiments and 3 Tank Battalions
9 Motorised Rifle Battalions and 1 Motorised Submachine Gun Battalion
3 Motorised Artillery Battalions

Given that Budapest was a key theatre of war, and the 9th was to spearhead this attack, one might expect the Corps to be close to paper strength, and possibly even reinforced above paper strength – yes?

Well this was its actual tank/infantry composition for the battle:
18th Guards Mechanised Brigade: 3 Shermans, 6 Valentines, 3 SU76 SPGs and 620 infantry
30th Guards Mechanised Brigade: 2 Shermans, 2 Valentines and 45 infantry
31st Guards Mechanised Brigade with: 14 Shermans, 4 Valentines, 2 SU76 SPGS and 420 infantry
46th Guards Tank Brigade: with 29 Shermans and 91 infantry
14th Guards Motorcycle Battalion: 3 Shermans, 1 SU76 SPG, and 118 infantry
31st Guards Engineers Battalion: 260 infantry
15th Guards Signals: 2 Shermans
Grand Total: 63 tanks, 6 SPGs, and 1554 infantry
And this was a reinforced break-through unit.

Saturday 18 November 2017

Warlord Games African Warriors

I needed some general-purpose, late nineteenth century African Warriors to test a scenario for the new Skirmish book  am currently writing for Pen & Sword so I bought one sprue each from Warlord Games' Natal, Zulu-married and Zulu-unmarried ranges to get a nice mix.

They sell these as one offs without bases at shows and on eBay for the princely sum of £2 a piece - which is a great deal by anyone's reckoning.

The photo above shows spear and shield armed warriors.

Another photo showing warriors with various firearms.

Wargamers for both artistic and entirely practical reasons do like any army/regiment to have a unified style that defines it as distinct from other armies/regiments on the table: GW are masters at this. But photos of African warriors from various armies in the field, as opposed to in dress regalia, suggest they were neither uniform nor necessarily particularly distinct so it is not entirely unrealistic to use a mixed appearance, general purpose force as a money-saving fudge.

Except for artistic and practical purposes of course.

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Adeptus Mechanicus Galvanic Servohauler 2 - Mobile Crane

This is a a great model of a crane on a rotating platform attached to what looks like a railway wagon low loader. I chose to attach the claw to the end of the chain as being more 'Grimdark' but a standard hook is also supplied.

The Techpriest is there purely to show scale but the fire extinguisher and toolbox come with the kit.

I glued the fire extinguisher onto a corner of the bogie.

I can see this looking good in a Steampunk or Weird World War II setting.

This whole kit set is great value for £25.

Highly recommended.

Saturday 11 November 2017

Adeptus Mechanicus Tractors - err - Galvanic Servohaulers

Adeptus Mechanicus Tractors from the Galvanic Servohauler Box.

These are great kits with a limited degree of exchangeable bits, although I have to say they look best the way you are supposed to construct them according to the plan.

They are easy to put together and chunky and tough so very robust to play usage.

The back of the small tractor cries out for a rear platform and enginseer or servitor to be added as a controller.

The full boxed set is great value at about Twenty Five of our Brexit Pounds.

Thursday 9 November 2017

Dark Ages and Britain's Rivers

I have just had accepted a Dark Age Hail Caeser supplement by those delightful if somewhat crazed chaps at Warlord Games.

It struck me when I wrote the book how important the waterways were in Dark Age Britain. One is struck by how many battles took place near rivers, probably for reasons of logistics and navigation.

But it goes deeper; the kingdoms formed in river basins and of you ignore the rivers and draw imaginary lines between them from coast to coast then you start to see the shadowy outlines of the kingdoms themselves.