Friday, March 15, 2019

What a Tanker - Wrecks

I bought several bags of Gaming Models blowouts a long time ago. I started looking at these for wrecks to use with my WAT campaign. What I have are two T-34 hulls with tracks and three different turrets (M1942, M1943 and T-34/85). None are particularly useful for the earlier models that would have fought at Kharkov but the M1942 should be close enough. I need to figure out where to place the damage and then base and paint it up.

The next bag is a T-25 pack with two hulls and Six turrets. Two are conical turrets. Another is the KT turret and the other two are what I think is the 1938 model.

Next I have two BT-7's. These have only two turrets but they are nice sculpts.

The Germans are next. I have Panzer IIs with four turrets and three hulls. Some of the turrets have broken pieces. Still to use for wrecks, they are ideal.

The Panzer IIIs are interesting. There are two late war variants with side skirts. Only two turrets so these are not useful for Kharkov. But will be for late war actions.

Panzer IVs are two hulls with four turrets. Of the turrets, two are short barreled F1 or earlier versions. Then there are two long barreled versions (F2s). These will be perfect for Kharkov as the short barreled versions were used by the 3rd Panzer Division. The 23rd Panzer Division had both short barreled version and the F2 variant. A company of tanks were lent to the 3rd Panzer Division from the 23rd.

The tanks all have one noticeable defect, the pins on the bottom of the turrets are missing. There are plenty of blemishes and bits that need to be trimmed off. Still, these are great models to use as wrecks. The plan is to paint these up as burned up wrecks. They can be used as markers or terrain pieces for Chain of Command too. Or to replace destroyed tanks.

Too sick to work on anything today but it should be a simple and quick project.

On another item, I bought two sets of wooden dice for What a Tanker. These are really nice dice but I question some of the images used on the dice. But they are the cheapest option for custom dice for WAT. A Sandwich for the wild results seems odd. The fire side is perfect, it just says Fire. Reload has two shells on it. Spotting has a pair of binoculars and Aim is a crosshair. Move is another strange one as it is a lightning bolt.

That is it for today.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Messing About with Terrain again

I had a free day this past weekend and grabbed some brushes and went to work getting some terrain finished. I didn't finish much but got started on plenty.

I got an outhouse and a metal roofed barn completed. I didn't undercoat either of these. I am not sure I like them but I don't dislike them enough to do it over.

Then some of the work I started on but didn't come close to finishing. There are some large swampy sections and a bunch more rural Ukrainian buildings.

One of the images shows an attempt at making a thatched roof. I am close to abandoning this effort. Not sure it is achieving the effect I am looking for. Worse, the think dried clear instead of white making it harder for me to tell what it looks like.

These last two I finished earlier and forgot to post about them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Second Kharkov Supplement

Another quick update on this. I'm making decent progress. The supplement will have 3 campaigns. The first campaign covers the first day of the battle with the Soviet advance against Kampfgruppe Winkler's positions. The second campaign covers the German counter attack by Kampfgruppe Schmidt-Ott. Both of these are Chain of Command campaigns. The first has seven scenarios and the second has six. I have completed the first campaign and have done one of six of the second.

The third campaign is something a bit different. It is a What a Tanker campaign. I am currently play testing this to see if it will work. The campaign takes place as a map campaign using a period Soviet 1:50,000 scale map. Each player commands a company of armor. They move their platoons across the map until they encounter an enemy unit. Think of it as kriegspiel light up until a tabletop game occurs.

If anyone is interested in trying this out, please let me know. I can add you to the virtual campaign. I am interested to see if this can work as a play by email campaign. I just need a player or two to try this out. You can find one variant of this on RPOL.net. Look for Second Kharkov Campaign by cstoesen. You should be able to find me there. Or just send me a message via the blog here.

Now this could completely fail and I will have to strip it out of the supplement. But who knows, it could be great fun.

If you are interested in the map for the campaign, you can check it out here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Second Kharkov Campaign - Part 1 Complete

I just finished with the first of two Pint Sized Campaigns for Chain of Command for the Second Battle of Kharkov. There are seven scenarios based around the Soviet assault on the positions of Kampfgruppe Winkler in May 1942. The follow the account from Federovka through Nepokrytaya. The campaign puts the Germans on the defensive and have a tough fight to hold the line as the Soviets attack with veteran infantry and green armored troops.

Unlike the first battle of Kharkov supplement, this supplement takes place in rural areas and in open terrain. The maps are based on period maps of the area supplemented by Google Earth views of the terrain today. I have included snippets of the historical maps for players to choose their own interesting location for the battles if their terrain availible would better match other areas. The game maps are done in Campaign Cartographer and are labeled as to what types of buildings and structures are on the table.

One of my favorite scenarios from the batch involves a 10.5cm gun that is fired over open sights at lend lease armor. The scenario features a hastily assembles German platoon brought forward from a rear collection point and the gun attempting to stave off a Soviet armored advance.

Why seven scenarios instead of a six half ladder campaign? Well, it fit with the flow of the battle. I began with the initial defensive line and ended with the fall back position in the woods to the rear of Nepokrytaya.

What else will be in it? I am working on the second pint sized campaign now. This one covers the counter attack of Gruppe Schmidt-Ott of the 3rd Panzer Division that was called out of reserves on the second day of the battle and moved from the south of Kharkov up to the northeast to retake Nepokrytaya and push beyond.

This action involved both armor and infantry from the German side and the accounts of the battle have the Germans engaging a wide variety of Soviet vehicles including T-34s, KV-1s and older tanks. What makes this interesting, is it opens up for the possibility of a What A Tanker campaign. Once the Chain of Command scenario set is complete, I am looking to have modifications to run it as a What A Tanker campaign as well.

I am still working on a number of East Front Terrain pieces to complete out my collection for these campaigns. I am currently working on my Wild Lands store terrain. I am close to completing the first of the set that I had purchased from them last year. It turned out rather well and I am really happy with the purchase. They sell off of Facebook and are based in the Ukraine. The purchase process is a bit different than most of the online stores I have dealt with but the product is outstanding.

What I really hope to build up is the scatter terrain to make the rural houses look like places people actually live in. This will include chicken coops, sheds, barns, storage huts and the like. I also need more garden plots as well.

I hope to run a few play tests soon and post some pictures. I am also waiting on some friends to finish reviewing it and letting me know what they think. Hopefully, I will be able to release this in the spring this year. (I may be a bit optimistic.)

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Recovery Time

Well back in the hospital again. But I am finally feeling well enough to do a little more research for the Second Kharkov campaign. I am searching for terrain ideas. One rabbit hole led to another and I found a site on the history of vodka in Russia. Through that there were some interesting stats and a picture of an Ukrainian vodka still. Seems that home brewed vodka operations out number legit ones in Russia by 14,000 to 121 or something like that. So a still will be a terrain feature for my East Front terrain.

In the article it mentioned that in rural areas vodka was a common method of payment for goods and services. In the Ukraine in 1941, following the Stalin famine survivors would probably have used a similar medium of payment. So there is decent choice.

I also have been scanning area German aerial photos of the area around Kharkov. I have some ideas on the layouts for the villages. Some progress made despite everything else.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Newest Old Distraction

Once again I have lost focus. Instead of finishing a project that is really close, I have jumped over to something completely different. I am back looking at the Seven Years War again.

Researching this particular rabbit hole has been really interesting. First, I have to give a huge thanks to the fine folks at Kronoskaf. Their site on the Seven Years War has been so much fun to go through. I have previously noted that I wanted to model a force based off of Frei-Infantrie Von Mayr. The campaign I am most interested in is the Prussian push into Bohemia. During this campaign, Von Mayr is given a larger command of close to 2000 men including 400 cavalry to destroy some Austrian magazines in Bohemia and then raid into the German Austrian Allies and prevent them from raising forces to aid the Austrian War effort.

The first item that I needed was a period map to understand the places that were listed in the sketchy reports that I could find. What I found was the Muller Map of Bohemia that predates the Seven Years War and was printed in 1723. What is attractive about this map is that it looks like it belongs in a Sharp Practice Campaign. It was one of the first systematic mapping efforts taken of the area. Thus it has potential for use of earlier wars as well. There is a nice PDF that gives information about the history of the map and other background info that might be useful. Another good source would be the 1st Military Mapping by the Austro-Hungarians that occured between 1764 to 1767. This was done after the war but still is close enough to get a good lay of the land.

With this map in hand, I set out to map out where the campaign happened. I am still attempting to gather resources and have pulled down several nice histories on line. One account has Von Mayr leading his Frie-Infantrie with another battalion of similar troops (Frei-Infanterie von Kalben) plus about 200 Hussars (2 sqns of Szekely Hussars). These were supported by five artillery pieces, four of which were light one pound weapons and the fifth was twelve pounder. They moved with a minimum of baggage. In a history of Fredrick the Great, von Mayr's force was described as "swift wild fellows, sharp of stroke."

What they largely faced were garrison troops and training groups being gathered to supply troops to the Austrian field army. They begin the campaign in late April 1757 in Charwatetz. Just days prior to this, von Mayr, had gotten some good press by seizing a castle from the Austrians. He covered himself in glory and became visible enough to be given this independent command.

Now Johann von Mayr was a bit of a character. He reads as if he was a generated character from Sharp Practice. He was an illegitimate son of Count Stella. In a biography of Baron von Steuben, it describes his early life, "His boyhood was passed amid scenes of debauchery and profligacy." By eighteen he was expelled from Vienna and was destitute. He entered the military as a band boy in Hungary and fought in a war with Turkey to climb the ranks to become a sergeant. Eventually he became an officer then moved to Bavaria as a soldier of fortune. Then on to Saxony where he ended up leaving service due to a duel fought with a brother officer. This brings him to the attention of Frederick the Great. He hires him to for a Frei-Infantry Regiment to operate as an independent unit to fight the Austrian pandoors and grenzers.

Yet, he really didn't get a chance to shine until teh capture of the Castle of Tetschen. In this operation he was under the command of General Zastrow. On April 25th, the general was shot through the head by an Austrian Pandoor and killed instantly. Within days, von Mayr was given his chance to lead and assigned to destroy one or more Austrain magazines in Bohemia including the one in Pilsen. He makes it to Pilsen by May 2nd and destroyed the magazine beforw turning west towards Nurnberg. Other sources say that Pilsen was reached on May 8th.

Map from the same place as link above.

I have the figures for my von Mayr force. I haven't figured out my Austrians yet.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Chain of Command and What a Tanker - Russian Front 1941, scenarios and buildings

Terrain

When I try to set deadlines for myself in completing projects, I find myself trying to do anything else but what I need to do. For my Second Battle of Kharkov supplement, I have no need of a large urban church. So I worked on a large urban church yesterday. Actually, that was quite fun. I am using the Church of the Dormition in Kharkov as the inspiration for the church. What this church has is a number of Greek/Roman accents. There are false pillars along the walls and that triangular thing at the roof. This presented a problem as the angle of the roof was much steeper than what I want to model. I am solving this by creating a false front that will have the columns and the triangular top piece that will overlay the existing structure and cover the existing roof angle. This will provide enough additional height to allow the doors and the stained glass windows to be visible with the false front attached.

That is the plan for the bottom floor. Next will be the tower. I haven't figured out what I want to do. The church of the Dormition is a two story structure while my TTCombat building is a single story structure in a cruciform shape. The Dormition church is in more of a 'T' Shape. This does not bother me that much. The goal is to resemble and not duplicate.

The steeple structures are radically different. The base level of the steeple of the Dormition was a square shape which is good as that is the shape that I have for the TTCombat church. But again, the angle of the roof is wrong. This will have to be corrected with a false front again and a new roof structure. This will be from thick card or cardboard. The biggest change will be the top of the steeple. I have a small onion dome from a paper terrain church. It is a nifty wooden one. The only thing it lacks is a coptic cross to put on the top. It came silver but I will probably repaint it gold. The junction between the steeple roof and the onion dome is something I have not figured out yet.

To help with the project, I am photocopying the parts. Then drawing the facade over the top of the photo copies. I can then photocopy that as much as I need to and use it as a template to cut out the parts I need from the cardboard sheeting. Well, that is the thought at this stage of things.

Scenarios

And instead of writing new scenarios, I started to look at old ones. One thing that I intend to include in the SBoK Supplement is a guide for What a Tanker themed games for the battle. The 3rd Panzer Divisions counter attack on the Soviet columns had a number of encounters that would work in either Chain of Command or in What a Tanker. In some places, the rolling advance of the 3rd Panzer almost lends itself to What a Tanker even better than Chain of Command as there were a number of pure armor encounters.

The problem is that the Soviets were in trouble by this point. Short of fuel, ammo and food, the Soviet tanks could not be as aggressive as they had been just a few days earlier at the start of the campaign where they encountered no German tanks. That reminded me of a scenario that I had written for one of the first encounters by the Germans with Soviet T-34 tanks on June 23rd, 1941. Soviet T-34s of the 10th Tank Division ran into a patrol of five tanks from the 15th Panzer Regiment.

Anyway, I don't want to give up the story here. If anyone is interested in a copy of this scenario, please give me an email and I will mail it to you. Even better, if you want the scenario and one of my Chain of Command books (Campaign for Kharkov or In the Name of Roma), I will knock 50% off of the scenario book if you email me that you found this here. This will not work with the buy it now buttons here nor on Wargame Vault or Amazon. (Just too lazy to integrate them.) Just directly through me. You can reach out to me through the contact me on the "talk to Me" form on the left of this post.

Also, I would love to hear play tests of this scenario. I am planning to run a couple myself in the near future. I'd love to hear back from you on how they worked. The terrain is tricky since it is just one big hill with lots of undulations to hide tanks in.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Happy New Year

As 2019 starts to rumble forward, I have started to look at what it is I want to accomplish hobby wise. My Number 1 project by far is the Second Battle of Kharkov. I have the first of two pint sized campaigns ironed out. I am working on terrain for it and want to get it published by the end of first quarter of this year.

But implementation of this great plan is foundering. I managed to sit for a whole 5 minutes at my painting table yesterday. Didn't even pick up a brush. But I did have some ideas on how to improve the next building that I am going to work on. So that is something.

I really want to get my 3d printer back on-line. I have managed to break it and am not sure what to do. Finding anyone who can repair it in the wilds of Georgia is a challenge. I backed another kickstarter by 3d-Print-Terrain that has some really useful pieces. 1st and foremost is the east front train and engine shed. Each of his kickstarters is 40 euro to get the full deal. This one had over 24 line items in it. In some cases that is multiple models per line item. It is well worth the price. He also takes requests during the course of the kickstarter and adds similarly themed items in as you go. A great deal (if you can get your 3d printer working).

My Christmas present to myself was a book purchase on Amazon, the Kindle Edition of Dave Grossman's On Killing. This is very interesting and it covers the psychology of killing in combat. What intrigues me is his interviews with veterans and the tendency of the average soldier to not want to kill a fellow human. That the tendency is to fire high as aggressive posturing rather than eliminating the threat. The book has really captured my interest with the historical examples and application going back as far as the early 1700s. I'm most interested in how this plays out on the table top using Sharp Practice and Chain of Command. The weapons employed can easily do the job at the distances used in the games. It is the application of those weapons by soldiers that leads to the variability of hits. So far, I think both rule sets are handling this well. Some of the statistics he quotes on the number of rounds fired to hits on the enemy seem crazy high but are well documented. Anyway, it is a fascinating read so far.

Anyway, I wish you all a Happy New year full of cheer. Take care everyone.

Monday, December 17, 2018

A little bit of Painting

I sat down in front of my newly cleaned up work bench and decided to do something about the stacks of MDF terrain that is sitting on my desk for my upcoming 2nd Kharkov Campaign. The intent is to have all of the terrain and figures needed done by the time I finish the scenarios.

Anyway, I started work on one of the new Wild Lands Store miniatures. I took one of the one story more urbanish buildings to start with . I also grabbed a log building from another manufacturer, Things From the Basement and went with that as well.

One thing I have been doing is watching the wonderful posts that TooFatLardies has done on their blogs about terrain making. I agree with all of his concerns about MDF buildings. I wanted to add details to it to provide a more 3 dimensional look to the building. Because of the details on the model, I struggled to cut out anything that would match up with it and look decent. I probably needed a better cutting tool and I would have been fine. But instead, I just started to paint and see what happened.

The first item was to clean up the Wild Lands building.

After cleaning the dust off of the parts, I glued it together and wrapped it in a rubber band to stay together.

And then I fiddled with the roof and glued it together.

One thing I don't like about MDF buildings is the seam on the roof. It is always visible. It makes the building look like it will leak in a rain. and I think they are ugly that way. So I took a piece of paper that I had laying around and cut a strip and glued it over the top like a piece of roofing flashing(?). I am 90% sure I have the term wrong as can be.

I also tried to caulk the lugs where the roof fit to the roof support to mask them when painted. I am pretty sure I did a horrible job of that.. But while waiting for that mess to try, I Brought out one of the Things Under the Basement 15mm buildings and tried to help it along. It was way to small for me to fool with paper to try to fix the roof. Instead, like any general contractor, if there is a gap, caulk it. I caulked the roof line and around the chimney. The verdict is still out if this will work the way I want it to.

Next, I primed both of these black with gesso. Why my auto-correct wants to go with gestapo, I have no idea. I am sometimes impatient. I did the roof of the larger building first. I wanted to go with a tin roof. I mixed up some gray paint and slapped it on. it looks OK now but when I add some streaks of rust to stain it, it should look better.

I really wanted to get on with painting the building and finish something before my sinus infection took me out for the rest of the day. But the dang paint was not dry yet. Yet, there on the corner of my painting table was this big package from TT Combat. A large 15mm church! Now the church is designed to be more of a western cross shaped church. It is generic enough and with few details that it could be used in Normandy or Spain or possibly in the US. But, it lacks a bunch of details which is the cool part. I can modify it to be something else. And that is what I want to do.

In the campaign Action at Ustilug and in the First Kharkov Campaign, I have a large church present on the table. However, in 15mm, all of the east front churches are more like small chapels. They take up the same table space as a peasant hovel. How were they supposed to handle even a village worth of people? You could only fit 10 in there if it was one guy with multiple personalities. This building is significant and would make an excellent base for a structure like the Church of the Dormition in Kharkov.

The building will be loosely based on the above. I will add a stepple to it with an onion dome on top. Here is what I am working with.

In the second picture you can see the onion dome that I am looking to use. It came from a Paper Terrain kit that I purchased and never built. This is a longer term project that will see me redo the roof considerably. The pieces dry fit well. The kit had sat in a cupboard for so long that a corner of the base was cracked. But not so much that it messed up the kit.

Then I tried to paint to paint the building, I rushed it and the paint hadn't dried completely. But I have a mostly acceptable first coat.

By the time I got this far, I was worn out and needed to rest. I might try to paint some more this week but that is doubtful. Anyway, they are proving to be nicely made buildings. Note: I changed the pictures to instead of sharing from my google Drive to physically uploaded pictures. Hopefully this helps.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Wild Lands Store Update

I finally broke open the package I got from them and started to work on the buildings. I put together two of the similar ones. The first was a two story building and the second was a single story version of the same building (to my eyes at least). I dry fit them and they are very snug. These are well made and are simple to assemble. These is significant detail that is etched on to the building but that detail may be lost in how I intend to build them. The details do provide me with some ideas on making some card stock details to glue over the etched details. This should make them look less flat. The roofs are removable. There is room for figures in the buildings. There are two brick buildings as well that are assembled in a similar fashion. The assembly is simple.

These need to get some paint on them as soon as possible. They are too nice to leave alone.