Thursday, February 4, 2016

15mm impudent Mortal House finished.

I finally finished the first of the seven buildings from the kickstarter. The raw product looked like this:

A little spackle, some roof details and some window dressing combined with paint, and I ended up with this:

All and all, I am happy with how it turned out. I am trying to figure out how to do the next building.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Terrain update

Well I started some more work on the first of the impudent Mortal buildings over the weekend. Honestly, I got very little accomplished other than smearing the thing with spackle.

Its a crummy picture but it shows a little of what I have done so far. After suggestions from friends, I will be making some chimneys for it and mounting them sometime soon and base coating it.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Working on Terrain

I did some more work on my Impudent Mortal buildings. They are starting to come together. I bought some styrene to use for window sills (1.5mm x 2.0mm strips). I am cutting these down to a centimeter in length for the window sills. It looks about right to my eyes. Once the sills are applied, I am going to spackle the building. We will see how that turns out. I am nervous about it.

I also bought some more styrene to use on the top of the 3 story Game Craft building. I need some sort of roof access item or chimney up there to use to remove the roof. Have not figured that part out yet. TheScene.co.uk has some interesting looking stuff. These look ideal if they were not out of stock. (http://thesceneuk.com/shop/building-accessories/mv001/)

I am debating on balconies to add to the back of the 3 story one. We shall see what happens.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Messing About with Terrain

I have not managed to do much. But I am happy with what I have done.

First off is the first of the Impudent Mortal buildings. I managed to glue one together. It is fairly basic at this point but that is OK. I am liking it so far. I also purchased one of the two packs of windows and doors from Game Craft Miniatures. In the picture below you can see where I have placed the door and window against the house to figure out sizing.

I am not sure I like the doors. The pack also comes with shutters for the windows. I may experiment with adding some shutters to the thing to see if that looks any better. As it stands right now, I think I will be making my own.

Next up was a three story building from Game Craft Miniatures. Overall, I like the building. You have to buy each floor separately and that allows you to make as large or small of a building as you would like. Thus far, It is good. I have glued together everything but the roof.

Each floor is not glued together so I can lift it apart and put figures inside. Now since the windows and doors did not fit the Impudent Mortal building, surely they will fit a Game Craft model, right? Nope. They don't fit. I wrote Allen at Game Craft and he said they have a pack just for this building but it is not yet on the website. While disappointing, it is what it is. My main complaint about it is that it looks rather plain.

So I have to work on it.
Idea 1: Add a strip of wood around the entire perimeter of each floor. This will give the building some definition and start to look like an urban building.
Idea 2: Add doors and windows to it. I will buy the Game Craft ones when they come out.
Idea 3: Add a cornice to the top of the building. As to how, I have no idea. May have to run over to hobby lobby and check out the doll house wood cuts. Idea 4: Do something on the corners of the building to make it stand out. (just found out they are called Quoins. I know didly about architecture but I found this site on Google which is helpful.
Idea 5: Add a small structure on the roof that I can use to remove the roof and gain access to the floor underneath.

Anyway, that is the plan for it. I am trying to figure out how to successfully create a board that is non-ruined urban terrain. Also, I am trying to figure out how to make a workable train station for one of my scenarios. The station that I currently have is not up to the task. It is more of a rural station and not something that would be used for a large metropolitan area like Kharkov. I am starting to look into N scale and HO scale buildings and see if I can find something suitable that won't break the bank. TT Scale buildings seem to be very expensive.

I found rail cars that I can get of a Soviet engine and a couple of train cars on Shapeways that are 15mm. They are a much further future purchase.

One last item, I figured out how to "fix" the warehouse that I have. I will experiment over the weekend provided that my honey-do list does not prevent me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Need some help Identifying tanks

I have been working on my tanks that I received from my Santa Clause. They are five really nice M4A2 tanks from Plastic Soldier Company. They are proving to be a bit fiddly to assemble. But they seem OK.

I assembled and put a base coat on one so far. I am going to do two of them as US vehicles and three as lend lease Soviet tanks for late war.

With the one I was working on, I got curious and wondered what the rest of my US armor looked like. Well, I have no idea of what I have. A bunch of shermans and two other types. Can y'all help me figure out what I have?

First picture:

And the next Set:

Thanks for your help.

Now, i did get in my brand new Khtz-16 self propelled guns. Craig over at Gaming Models did a terrific job on these.

I really like these and hope to have them on a table pretty soon.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone. And good riddance to 2015. I am looking forward to this year. I have already painted a tank to 80%. It is one of my new M4A2s that I got from my Secret Santa. Thank you, by the way. I plan on painting two as US tanks and three as Soviet tanks. I will use the 76mm barrel for all of them.

I am planning on knocking out my worker housing for my industrial area next. A friend pointed out some nice bits from Game Craft miniatures to tart them up. If I can swing it, I am planning on picking up the City Hall building they have with the removable roof and internal floors and stairs. I think it would make a fantastic centerpiece to an urban table. I need to sneak online and see what I can do.

Then there is my Kharkov Pint size campaign I am working on. I just got in John Erickson's The Road to Stalingrad today. I am looking forward to see what treasures it has for me. Got a great deal on it. $0.73 on Amazon. I love Amazon.

Anyway, it's a new year with lots of promise.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas - Project for the new year

Merry Christmas everyone. I hopy you have a marvelous day.

It's been a quiet year here but things are starting to look up. I have my project for January well underway. I am looking at doing a Chain of Command campaign for the Battle of Kharkov in 1941. In the research for it, I discovered a clever little improvised vehicle that the Soviets fielded - the KhTZ-16. Basically an armored tractor with a 45mm anti-tank gun mounted on it. There were pictures of it littering the internet and a little data about it but not much to go on. It was basically a vehicle that no one made in 15mm.

Enter Gaming Models. Sending Craig an e-mail with some pictures and why I would like one, he got excited about the project and started work on them. I just got a mail this week with the initial snaps of what he had done. I am very happy.

I am getting five of these from him. More than I really need but who cares. These are cool. They were used in the approaches to Kharkov and in the streets of the city. Given that most were captured or destroyed, they were not that great of a vehicle. Still, I like it. As I get to the playtesting of the scenarios, I can't wait to have these in my clutches.

I am so impressed with how Gaming Models jumped behind what is probably a marginal vehicle for him. Awesome service and he makes nice toys.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Chain of Command Campaign: Drive to Kharkov 1941

I recently started looking for an East Front Campaign that I would like to do. Mark had me nearly sold on the Ponyri Station actions that were part of the Kursk battle. I however stumbled across something from earlier towards the tail end of 1941. This one does not feature any Italians for once.

I started looking at the drive from Poltava to Kharkov that happened in September and October 1941. This is a very interesting action. The German armor is very limited. The Soviets were using significant numbers of T-34 tanks while the Germans had a rather battle worn battalion of STuG IIIs. The Germans were led by the 101st Light Division and the 57th Infantry Division. They were supported by Sturmgeschutz Abteilung 197. These troops had taken terrible casualties during the invasion and push through the Ukraine. The 57th Infantry Division had taken 3,893 casualties from June 22nd to the end of September. Of these there were 888 killed, 2937 wounded and another 68 missing. Yet they still drove forward. The STuG Battalion was not much better with several of the companies were reduced to a point of being combat ineffective due to casualties and broken or destroyed vehicles. The 197th used some captured T-34 tanks as spare vehicles during the advance on Kharkov to supplement their losses.

The Soviets were still reeling from the initial blows of Operation Barbarossa. They had begun to modify their orders of battle to account for the loss of personnel and equipment. The armor was initially based in large Mechanized Corps. Due to losses, armor was now placed into Brigades that consisted of an Armored Regiment and a Motorized Infantry Brigade. These brigades were formed around battalions that had a single company of seven T-34 medium tanks and two additional companies of whatever light tanks happened to be available. There were few if any of the heavier KV models available. In addition, industrial centers such as Kharkov and Stalingrad were producing makeshift armor to fill in the vacancies. Notably were the KhTZ-16 self propelled guns. These were tractors that were fitted with armor and a cannon that were sent out to engage the Germans. They were nearly all destroyed quickly when encountered in the field.

Armor was not the only arm of the Soviet military that was changed. The Infantry division also underwent change at this time. The rifle platoon was reduced from four squads to three. The platoon 50mm mortar was removed and a small two gun battery was held at the company level. Manpower shortages were overcome by pressing civilians into service. German reports of facing battalions of men in their forties and fifties are found in the engagements of both the 101st Light and 57th Infantry Divisions. To some degree, the formations became easier to manage. But with poorly trained troops and an officer corps still under the thumb of the Commissars, they proved to be brittle.

What really captured my attention was the description of a Soviet probe into the town of Poltawa (or Poltava depending on whose site you are looking at). The Soviets sent a platoon of T-34 tanks to investigate the defenses of the city. Elements of the 101st Light Division were holding the town at the time. The Third battalion of the 229th Infantry Regiment was reinforced with a Sanitation company (medics) and two platoons of 37mm Anti-Tank Guns (6 guns in total). At 1400 hours, two tanks approached from the east. At a distance of 500 meters, three Anti-Tank guns opened fire. The rounds bounced off the armor of the Soviet tanks. The tanks advanced to within 200 meters of the of the first houses of the city. They split up and entered the city. What ensued was a nearly comical pursuit of the tanks through the streets of the town. It involved the tanks stumbling across the medics, engineer teams attempting to plant explosives on the tanks and the 37mm guns ineffectively attacking them. One of the tanks even spent time stuck in a ditch in the town. The Germans were able to bring forward a 50mm Anti-Tank gun. Each of the two tanks needed multiple hits from the 50mm gun before they were disabled or destroyed. One of the crews was captured and the other was killed in their vehicles. The fight lasted for an hour and a half.

When interrogating the tank crew, they found that they were raw crews that were dispatched to probe the town. They were told that the Germans lacked guns that would be able to penetrate the armor of the T-34. They remained buttoned up in their vehicles throughout their engagement and as such caused fewer casualties because they could not see the infantry running between the houses. In a separate story about the T-34, the Germans reported that the Soviet drivers carried a large hammer next to them to address the transmission when the vehicle had issues changing gears.

The campaign has lots of interesting elements. Urban terrain, good armor (Stug III & T-34), improvised armor (KhTZ-16) and lots of infantry. It has its problems as well. It is hard to sort out who was fighting on the Soviet side. There are at least three armored brigades in the same relative area. There are multiple Soviet infantry divisions in the area. The unit histories only list the 216th Infantry Division as the opponent in Kharkov on the Soviet side. But the German situation maps (http://www.wwii-photos-maps.com/) from September 18th to October 25th, do not show them there. There are infantry divisions listed on the Soviet side of the same situation maps that Charles Sharp (Red Legions: Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed Before June 1941) claims were disbanded or destroyed elsewhere. In short, it is difficult to determine who is where. The book on the 197th Stug Battalion (Munch's The Combat History of German Heavy Anti-Tank Unit 653 in World War II), has dates that do not match up with the dates that I see in the 57th ID and the 101st Light Division's histories. From the Stug claims, they led the way without the infantry for most of these actions.

The other problem is the lack of quality maps for the battles. Http://www.wwii-photos-maps.com/ has the most complete set that I could locate anywhere. They are only 1:50000 scale and not 1:25000 scale that Rich, of TooFatLardies, recommends using. But there are some excellent photos to be found of the cities mentioned. Several of them show the streets of Kharkov. It seems only the outlying parts of the city were shelled heavily and the bulk of the city remained in tact. Fill this in with the eyewitness descriptions of the street fighting and we can fill in the blanks with our imagination.

So I will be creating some new Force Lists to match the Soviet ORBAT changes. My thought it to play the campaign using the Big Chain of Command supplement. Each of the actions seem to lend themselves to larger forces than a single platoon. Granted for a T-34 platoon, you are only dealing with two vehicles.

The campaign will begin after the action I mentioned above. However, I am thinking of some stand alone scenarios to go along with it that would use some specialty rules. Specifically the tank hunt through Poltava. Anyway, that is my current idea. Anyone have any recommendations on where I can get accounts of the Soviet side of the battle? I am fresh out of ideas.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Making the Most of an Oops

I goofed a while back. I have a collection of JR Miniatures rivers in 15mm. I have close to five or six feet of river pieces for my table top. Periodically, I like to jump on EBay and add to the collection when I have some spare cash. Well over a year ago, I did not read the auction closely enough. I ended up with a section of 28mm river. It sat unloved in my terrain drawer and did not even come out of the wrapping.

Last week, I decided to try something. I bought the JR 15mm to 28mm connector. It is a slightly strange piece of terrain that has the join for both their 15mm rivers and 28mm rivers on it with a big pooled out area in the middle. I also bought another 9" section of river as well. I decided that keeping the rogue piece of river is a good thing. I will add it on as an edge piece for the board.

Eventually I will run out and buy the 15mm to 6mm connector and get some 6mm river sections as creeks to run across the table. If I like the look, I may get some more 28mm river sections just to have varying widths of rivers on the table. It should work out rather nicely.

Monday, December 7, 2015

It is Time for a Christmas Sale

As December rapidly approaches, let's go ahead and do a sale.

From 12/7/2015 through 1/3/2016 I will be running the following sale on my scenario books:
In the Name of Roma - $5.50 (normally $11)
The Coming Thunder - $5 (Normally $10)
The Falcon and the Gladiator - $5 (Normally $10)
Western Desert Campaign - Free with any other purchase

PLEASE NOTE: Do not use the quick buy links for this sale! Paypal the money directly to cstoesen@corecard.com. I have not updated the links.

You can take an additional $1 off the price if you join the mailing list for my fiction books. Folks who join the mailing list will also receive a free copy of Sharpsburg Sunrise, the prequel to my first novel, CSS Appomattox.

Merry Christmas Everyone.