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Another great documentary series

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Heya guys, I have been watching documentaries again while painting up my miniatures, and I thought I’d share another great series with you all. This one is a 6 part series entirely devoted to telling the story of the basic German soldiers in the Wehrmacht. Its called, “The Wehrmacht Series” (big surprise there). If you’re interested in watching historical documentaries, and need something to watch while you paint, I recommend this. Anyway, here you go:

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Where I got the shirt

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A couple of people asked me during this last FoW gaming day at the shop where I got my StugIII t-shirt that I was wearing.  I thought I’d share with you guys the website.  I ordered it from: http://achtungtshirt.com/Default.aspx

I ordered them through their website and they press their own shirts, so you can order them in lots of different colors and sizes.  They have WWII tank and plane t-shirts for both axis and allies and they’re pretty reasonably priced.  Anyway, there you go, if you’re interested. 

Reminder: next game day on thanksgiving weekend

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Heya guys, its been a while since I was actively posting here. I am just reminding everyone that we have a game day coming up on November 24th at The Panzer Depot from 3:30pm-9:30pm. I’ve been building and painting like a madman to be ready for this next game day. I finally have 99% of the models I need now to run my full Hungarian armored company without borrowing miniatures from the store 🙂 Now just to finish getting them painted…

Anyway, see you all there on saturday afternoon/evening.

ps- Hopefully one of you allied players is up for a 2k point game… I am itching to play a large tank battle with my new models…

pps – oh yea and everyone have a great Turkey Day!

-Walter

Tanks of Bagration: Konigstiger (King Tiger aka Tiger II)

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German heavy tank development began as early as 1937 with the German Armaments Ministry issuing a specification for a new heavy tank to Daimler-Benz, Henschel, MAN and Porsche. The project however was ignored as the Panzer III and IV had so far proved effective tanks and served well in combat. It was not until spring 1941 that the project was revived after Hitler was impressed with heavy allied tanks, such as the French Char B1 and British Matilda 1 during the campaign in the west.

At a meeting with Hitler on 26th May, 1941, the planning for the development of a new heavy tank begun. During that meeting, Hitler ordered for the creation of heavy Panzers which were to have an increased effectiveness to penetrate enemy tanks; possess heavier armor than was previously achieved; and attain a maximum speed of at least 40km/h. These key decisions led to the development of a new heavy tank, the Tiger 1 tank and ultimately the King Tiger. However, no clearly defined objectives or action plans were laid out for the succession of the Tiger 1 tank until January 1943 when the order was given for a new design which was to replace the existing Tiger 1.

Although the designation implies that the Tiger II is a succession of the Tiger 1, it is in effect a completely different tank. The first design consideration for the new tank was the selection of a more effective main gun. As with the Tiger tank, it was to mount an 88mm anti tank gun but the main gun on the Tiger II was far more powerful than that on the Tiger 1. For the development of the chassis, two firms were contracted to come up with the designs namely Henschel and Sohn of Kassel and Porsche of Stuttgart. Both firms Henschel and Porsche were responsible for only the chassis and automotive designs. Turret design was awarded to another firm Krupp of Essen.

The main gun specification of the King Tiger was to be a variation of the 88mm anti-aircraft gun. Although the 88mm was initially designed for an anti aircraft role, it proved to be an excellent tank killer. Originally, the intention was to mount an 88mm Flak 41 into a turret for the Porsche VK4501 (P) chassis. The turret had been originally designed by Krupp to hold the 56 caliber 88mm KwK 36 gun of the Tiger 1. After much experimentation and debate, it was decided in early 1943 that it was not possible to mount the 88mm Flak 41. Krupp had then been contracted to design a new turret that could mount their own version of a 71 caliber 88mm Kwk 43 gun that could fit in both the chassis for Henschel and Porsche.

The 88mm gun with the designation KwK 36 and KwK 43 indicated the model number year 36 and 43. The Tiger II with the model 43 has a length of 71 calibers (71 times 88mm) as compared with 56 calibers of the Tiger 1 with model 36. The length of the barrel itself is over 20 feet long while the rounds weighed almost 20kgs. It is in effect a much more powerful gun than the Tiger 1.
The King Tiger’s 88mm main gun has a muzzle velocity of 1000m per second when firing armor piercing rounds. It was highly accurate and able to penetrate 150mm of armor at distances exceeding 2200m. Since the flight time of an armor piercing round at a range of 2200m is about 2.2 seconds or less, accuracy and correction of fire against moving targets is more important than with older anti tank guns. This made this heavy predator ideally suited to open terrain where it could engage enemy tanks at long range before the opponent’s weapons were even in range.

For the chassis, much has been learnt from the sloped armor design of the Russian T-34. As with the Panther, the King Tiger was to have sloped and interlocked front and side armor. The front armor was 150mm thick and the side was 80mm thick. Both firms Henschel and Porsche submitted their own designs.

Porsche designed the VK4502 (P) chassis which was built on the previous VK4501 (P) design of the Tiger 1. The codename VK was for Volkettenfahrzeuge or “fully tracked experimental vehicle”, 45 means a 45 ton class and 01 represents the first model. The VK4502 (P) chassis had a similar outlook with the Tiger 1, sharing many similarities such as the suspension and automotive parts. Two designs were submitted, the first one having its turret mounted centrally and the second had the turret mounted towards the rear with the engine in front. However, it used copper for the electric transmission which Germany was in shortage of. This design was rejected and did not enter production.
Officially designated Panzerkampfwagen VI Sd.Kfz 182, the King Tiger was placed into service early 1944. It served in the western and eastern front notably in the battle of Normandy, operation “Market Garden” in Holland, and the offensive in Ardennes. It also served in various other operations in Poland, Hungary, Minsk and a small number also defended Berlin in April and May 1945. With its great firepower and thick armor, it proved to be more than an opponent for any tank the allied forces could field. However, the size and weight of the King Tiger had its share of problems. It suffered mechanically with many breakdowns and had poor maneuverability. Many roads and especially bridges were not suitable for a tank this size and the fuel requirements was enormous. Many were abandoned due to lack of fuel rather then being destroyed during the offensive in the Ardennes. Production also suffered with the bombing of the Henschel factory and there simply weren’t enough of these around. The King Tiger was a case of too late and too few in number to make a difference in the outcome of the war.

The Porche designed turret.

The Henschel designed turret.

However, the great firepower and armor of the King Tiger created the impression of a powerful armored force with almost invulnerable tanks. Able to destroy enemy tanks at extreme ranges and impervious to those same tanks made the King Tiger more than a match for any allied tank. Indeed for the allied forces, the sight of a King Tiger on the battlefield was terrifying and did great physical and morale damage to the enemy. This fame and almost mystical fascination helped it earn its reputation as the most feared weapon of world war 2. For the German forces, it was the hallmark of German armored might and restored morale even in the last days of the war. Due to the havoc it wreaked during the Ardennes offensive, the allies advancing into Berlin would fear the King Tiger up to the very last day of the war.

The 503. Shwerepanzer at full strength on the Russian front.

Operation Bagration : Zhlobin : June 22, 1944

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Did you ever paint something up nice and shiny with lots of special rules to bring to a game, just to watch it just become inneffectual and shot up?  Well, that’s what happened to my new Engineer Sapper Platoon.  I wanted badly to see a Russian shoot a panzerfaust, and ended up with a comically tragic game ender for all my expectations.  See below..

Starshiy Serzhant Detroteev could not stand to be around Komissar Anathemski.  The boor readily shipped off  rescued ex-POWs to gulags as he sentenced good soldiers to into shtraft battalions.  Now, he attached himself to the troops of the engineer sapper platoon in hopes of earning glory for his part of the offensive.  He strutted back and forth, pointing a swagger stick over to the other side of the river.  “The enemy is reportedly trying to secure this bridge before we use it, comrade.”  He emphasized the last word with a sneer.  “You will make sure we keep it by taking the fight to the other side.”

Zhlobin, Turn 1

This setup shows the a Free-for-All across a river with Russians on the left with a firestorm howitzer battery and trio of T-34/85s, a rifle company in the woods on the far side with some t-34/76s, heavy mortars, a group of sappers and sapper engineers in the center facing the bridge, scouts on the near side.  No recce moves this game.  Bob has Mk IVs, Panthers, an armored anti-aircraft platoon, some infantry and Hummels on the other side.

A soldier reluctantly lugged flamethrower tanks over his shoulder as Detroteev attempted to reason with the Kommissar to hold the line on this side of the river rather than get isolated on the far bank without armored support.  “They are moving tanks up for a counterattack.  We should wait for the rest of the regiment before we cross.”

The Komissar sneered.  “Have you no faith in the tools our workers have armed you with?  Explosives, body armor!  Why even the workers of Germany are userful!”  He patted a requisitioned case of panzerfausts that went by on the backs of a sapper team.  “You will send our men forward, comrade.  Or else.”  He punctuated his threat with a point of his finger.  “Remember, your new body armor only protects from the front…for a reason.”

The T-34/76s crossed the river decently with wide tracks, while the tanks on the other side generally bogged, but were able to burn two Mk IVs at distance.  The Soviet line moved over the river and all that extra artillery was generally inneffectual due to pinning for most of the game.

Turn 2, “Engineer Sappers forward!”

Eventually, the T-34/76s were able to get close enough to threaten the back rows of Hummels and sdkfz/7 quads, with the strekolvy following behind.  The other sappers dug in to protect to objective while the engineer sappers crossed river and bridge, risking exposure to make use of their toys.

Turn 3, T-34/76s sneak around to get at artillery

They had crossed the river now, and the roar of panzers in front was almost as loud as the political officer haranguing them further to the building up ahead.  Detroteev had drilled them on how to take down bunkers and emplacements, just like the ones that stopped  the tank brigade crossing earlier this day (see earlier battle report.)  But how would they fare against tanks?   “Flamethrowers and faustnikas to the front,” he ordered to protect his troops.  At his back, he could almost feel the muzzle of the machinegun  carried by the hulking Khazak that shadowed the Kommissar.  As the German tanks opened up machine gun fire to rake his men, he saw the fear in their eyes. A few faltered.  Anathemski ordered them to stand their ground, and for the Khazak to ready his weapon.

Turn 3, Close enough to assault!

And here it gets ugly.  The engineers manage to close the distance to assault Mk. IVs and anti-aircraft quads, and fail both tank terror tests!  Then the kommissar eliminates a stand, and they still fail!  They begin to get chopped up by mg fire and the Panthers come into play and the Hummels direct fire.  The strekolvy company also tries to win with numbers on and assault, and gets repulsed by the required eleven hits!

The smoking barrel of the Khazak’s machine gun answered what happens when engineers ran back to the river.  Detroteev stared in disbelief as the kommissar ordered to continue  fire, gunning down even those who dared to look over their shoulder.   A private spat and dared to raise his submachine gun towards Anathemski, but he was too slow for the Kommissar and his pistol. 

Between the tanks spitting hell at them and the bloodthirsty kommissar who had all but eliminated the third squad for cowardice, the battered remains of the platoon made it to the building and easily rooted out a couple of German observers.  “We cannot continue!” he argued with Androteev as they watched self-propelled howitzers lowering their guns to shell them directly.  Out of the other window, he could see second squad getting pinned and gunned down in the open by the quads opening up. 

“Nonsense!” replied Androteev.  “We will win this battle,  these fascist invaders will drown…in lakes of our own proletariat blood!”  The Khazak wheeled his machinegun around and pulled the trigger when the men refused to obey the Kommissar’s order to assault the surrounding tanks again.  Those who were trained to use the panzerfausts and the flamethrower were no longer alive.

Turn 4, The remains of the e.s. platoon are huddled in the little house. The strekolvy are out in the open.

“Look what you’ve done!”  Detroteev shouted above the chatter of bullets striking the walls.  “There is no one left to fight!”  The dead and wounded were piling up around them by the minute, by both German and Soviet bullets.

“You are still alive, so pick up a weapon,” the kommissar menaced, using his pistol to point to the dropped panzerfaust.  His eyes were bloodshot orbs of madness, piercing into the sergeant to obey.  But over the kommissar’s shoulder, he could see through a hole in the wall a panzer turret directly aimed at them rocking from recoil.  Then, the whole room exploded in a wash in fire and blood, abruptly ending the argument forever.

Turn 4, Strekolvy repulsed, now about to eat it.

That’s pretty much how effective the new unit was.  And the three Panthers and direct firing Hummels took out the t-34/76s and started to chew up the strekolvy.  The right flank still had Soviet artillery trying to unpin and T-34/85s still mired in the banks of the Dneiper.  I called it when the Panthers successfully  passed bogging checks over the river and started to roll into my mortar batteries.  German MVP is the Kommissar for taking out enough of the engineer sapper platoon himself (3 stands) so that there was no way I was going to survive assaulting the tanks.  If I made some tank terror tests, I think there would have been a chance to take out one or two German armored platoons.  I want to thank Bob for coming aboard the campaign and playing a great game as we newbies both fumbled through the rules and numbers.  He has great looking Mk IVs.

Turn 6, Panthers about to cross the Dnieper

Postscript : After a couple days, I re-read my army list and forgot that I bought a special warrior that gave the engineer-sappers a !#@ Motivation of “2+” in the first place, meaning some of these tank assaults would have happened if I had remembered my numbers!  And so…

Leytenant Zabolotnov, medal-winner and a rising red star among the ranks of the engineering battalion, sat sidelined, reassigned  temporarily to supervise the regimental field kitchen by his hated rival, Kommissar Anathemski, who then took “supervisory command” of his platoon.  He stood helpless amid piles of peeled potatoes, overhearing the distress reports from the radios in the command bunker about a German panzer counterattack.  He itched to get back to the front and lead his men, and to save them from the raving glory-hound who now led them.

Another rookie mistake, so note-to-self, “write your motivation, skill and to hit numbers right on your arm while playing…and don’t have too high expectations about unit’s performance if you can’t remember what they do.”  Maybe the Kommissar should’ve also shot the player!

Operation Bagration : Battle of Vibetsk, June 22, 1944

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  •   2nd Company waited in the still darkness of a Vibetsk school building, having followed an excruciating midnight prowl through the outskirts of town. The scouts who led them there in their camo smocks skulked under windowsills, hushing the riflemen crouching behind them as they spied the Hungarian crosses on the tanks commanding the rise beyond the schoolgrounds. Major Depritstoy held his flare pistol tightly, awaiting for the appointed hour to begin the assault while his adjutant on the other side of town brought up the 1st Company and the remaining elements of the sapper battalion through the shelled ruins.  Not many sappers survived securing the Kirov Bridge, many of their comrades lay dead on the banks the Dzvina. Depritstoy measured the cost, steeling his Siberians after passing through the ghetto whose doors were spraypainted with yellow stars and streets were covered with bloodstains and broken glass. This was the purpose, to break the hold of the fascists and their royalist lapdogs on this city. They have utterly changed it from the country bliss that inspired Chagall  to another frontier bastion of the Hitlerites. He checked his watch and held up the flare gun. The tanks would be arriving across the bridge soon, carrying the condemned of the shtraft platoon….
      Junior Sergeant Nicoline peered through the scope at the head of a Hungarian signalman, who seemed to be tracking a line that ran from the battery upon a hill into the town.  She and her spotter had painstakingly crawled across a field skirting the town into sniping range over the night, hoping to create  mayhem and confusion among the enemy.  Through the crosshairs, she watched the signaller stoop down to fix a length of severed line, unaware that he had only moments of life left.  Unexpectedly, a flare ascended across town in the morning sky and the man looked up, startled.  She pulled the trigger…
  • The recon platoon dragged along a company with it.  The sniper pinned the nebelwerfers through the whole game.  This shows Turn 1 after recce moves, notice how close we are at the top of the pic.

  …The Major watched the whole column of T-34s explode with the penitent convicts tumbling off to lie still on the ground.  Their mad rush into the guns of the Panthers and Stugs, and subsequent death throes, quickened the hearts of the men of 2nd company.  Rather than recoiling from the destruction they just witnessed, a loud “Huzza” erupted in the ranks and they rushed the Hungarian tanks.  But what use was a submachine gun against tons of steel?  The Major brought his own few pioneers forward while the human wave of khaki grey faced the onslaught of machine guns.  There were not enough armed with the charges to take out the tanks.  Just then, riflemen began to improvise wicks and take out their precious rations of vodka….

  …Nicoline shot two more who tried to repair the wire, hoping to buy time for the assault across town.  She could see the ominous stovepipe barrels of the rocket launchers dug in on the hillside and knew they would slaughter her battalion comrades if they could range in.   Closer in ahead of her, she could see the rustling of soldiers, German pioneers this time, attempting to ferret her out.  She knew that they would soon set up an MG34 and rake the field she hid in, leaving her no sure escape.  Just then, behind her, she heard the rumble of tracks.  A loud boom issued and the roof collapsed on the building that the pioneers occupied.  The SU-122s had arrived, giving her a reprieve.

The Soviet tanks all got lit up by going too fast in front of Panthers (in an attempt to get side shots), and there was hardly anything remaining that could take them out on the Soviet side.  The game was going to the Hungarians until I found that riflemen actually have a puny Tank Assault 2, but there were a lot.   This is a view from the axis lines with the sniper barely perceptible on the table edge in front of the assault guns at about turn four.

…The hulks of Stugs, a Zrinyi and three Panthers littered the battlefield.  The tattered remains of the shtraft platoon,six shellshocked men, wondered how they survived and if they finally earned their commutation for their foolhardy ride into battle.  Depritstoy beheld the sight of his soldiers staggering among the wrecks that moments before had whittled their ranks down by half.  They had shoved satchel charges into turret rings and drive sprockets, smeared vision blocks with mud,  flooded exhausts grates with burning vodka,…and they had won the heights from the invaders.  The Major would have many recommendations this day for the Order of the Great Patriotic War.

It was a fun game that could have gone either way at the end, and my rookie mistakes were made up by the fact that quantity is a quality all its own.  The firestorm sapper battalion was lost in the taking of Vibetsk, though.  This last pic shows the objective (a Panzer III) surrounded by remnants of the strelkovy company.  Thanks, Walter, and don’t forget to bring more Hungarians to make goulash out of.

The Bagration Campaign Has Started! Turn 1: Soviet Assault, Vitebsk Captured.

So the long awaited Bagration Campaign kicked of this last Saturday. Will deserves special recognition for helping us in getting this started.

All of our games are going to be a minimum of 1500 points due to balance issues with the bonus units that can be taken by either side.

The captain for the Axis is Michael and the captain for the Allies is yours truly (Jeremie).

A summary of the first battles of the Bagration Campaign:

The city of Vitebsk was taken by Will’s Strelkovy army from Walter’s Romanian Armored Platoon. Both sides suffered heavy losses, but ultimately the Red Army prevailed.

The territory of Zhlobin was held by Michael’s Sturmdivision against my own Tankovy Kompanie. This territory was fortified and the Red Army has not been pushed back. The bloody fighting continues into the next round!

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The Soviets are prepared to overrun the German defenders.

The campaign will resume on October the 13th at the Panzer Depot @ 4PM to 9PM!