A new look at the Battle of Kursk.

A bit back Bill of Under Fire sent me this news article that he had found:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-48963295

I looked for the journal article that it mentioned, and at the time of writting, it is available for free here:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/16161262.2019.1606545 (just click on the PDF tab) which is always nice to see as so much academic work is hidden behind rather expensive paywalls most of the time.

It is definately worth taking the time to download and read if you have the slightest interest in the Eastern Front of WW2. I will flag up a few quick points though…

Although the Germans are now believed to have lost signaficantly less tanks than previously, although I don’t think the attritional strategy suggested by the author would have worked in the slightest: the economic output of the Germans was dwarfed by that of the allies. Even for the duration of the summer I don’t think it could have forestalled the Soviet offensive, leaving aside the human cost the Soviet materiel losses were replaceable.*

The battle was still an operational defeat (the salient was not reduced) and a strategic defeat as the Nazi forces never regained the initiative on the eastern front for the rest of the war.

For those of us who like to play wargaming campaigns with our tanks it does seem that retaining possession of the battlefield at the end of an encounter, thus allowing you to recover/repair as many tanks as possible, mitigates the majority of losses as relatively few tanks that are knocked out in combat are reduced to flaming wrecks. That is definately something to factor into future games.

The strength of the SS divisions vis a vie the Whermacht ones, far stronger, nearly twice as big in some cases. Whilst the early SS formations suffered from a paucity of equipment by this stage it seems clear that that trend had been reversed.

I hope you have found that of interest and if you read the articles and have any comments I’d love to hear them.

Cheers,

Pete.

* Some rough numbers to argue my case. The Panze IV, Sherman and T34 are roughly comparable. Between 1939-45 the Nazis made 9000 Pz IVs, between 1940- 45 about 50,000 T34s were made, in slightly less time (1942-45) about 50,000 Shermans were made.

Advertisements

From the Shed: Russian Airborne Armour.

Following on from my post on VDV Air Assault Brigades I’ve done some light armour to give them some support.

asu85

First up we have the ASU85: a light self propelled gun on the PT76 chassis, designed to give the VDV some anti- tank support. It was a replacement for the much earlier ASU57. At the time of its introduction its 85mm gun (based on the WW2 tank gun) was barely adequate for the task by the 1980s when it was still in service it would have been useless at its intended role. Still any soft skins or light armoured cars would be vulnerable to its gun.

sprut

Next we have the little known 2S25 Sprut SD, the replacement to the ASU85. Mounting the usual Russian 125mm smoothbore gun it can fire all the same ammo as an MBT but from a lightly armoured chassis based on the BMD3. Given the ammo types it can fire it makes up a pretty potent support vehicle for the modern day VDV.

Pt76

Although not an airborne vehicle I painted up a few PT76 amphibious tanks. Developed after WW2 as a recce vehicle it is fully amphibious, accordingly it means it is not very well armed or armoured. Kept in service untill surprisingly recently in has seen combat in the Middle East, Vietnam, India, Africa and even Chechnya.

light armour

All models are 1/300th (6mm) scale and are from Heroics and Ros.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

VDV Air Assault Brigade in 5core: Brigade Commander.

During the Cold War the Soviet Union raised extensive parachute forces: the Vozdushno-Desantnya Voyska (VDV). Whilst the Airborne Division were under the command of high level HQs and would have been used for strategic and operational missions their smaller cousins the Air Assault Brigades were under the command of the Ground Forces so would get more tactical missions to undertake; because of this I thought they’d be an interesting force to field in our 6mm games of Nordic Weasel’s 5core: Brigade Commander.

vdv 1

Three- quarters of the Brigade lined up. 50mm square bases for companies, 30mm square bases for platoon sized attachments.

One of the things that would have hampered the Soviet Union’s deployment of its VDV was the lack of sufficient lift capacity, especially at the strategic/ operational level. At the tactical level insertion by helicopter would have been more common but even so the number of heavy- lift helicopters to move vehicles was limited. The non- mechanised companies could be para dropped of they could be flown in by helicopter. The engineers in the brigade were trained to make landing strips for aircraft out of West German roads (doubtless these would have been recce’d in advance) to bring in heavier vehicles.

vdv 2

The HQ company stand, three Heavy Companies and two recce  attachments in close up. All vehicles and figures are from Heroics and Ros.

Below is my interpretation of the brigade. Sources differ as to whether there are 2 Heavy battalions or one either way there are four battalions.

 

HQ coy

AT company, BRDM3- can be fielded as 3 AT attachments.

2 or 3 Air Assault Battalions:3 companies of Infantry (limited AT).

1 or 2 Heavy Air Assault Battalion: 3 companies of Mechanised Infantry, BMDs (Advanced AT).

Attachments:

1 light Recce, BRDM or GAZ jeep.

2 AA, ZSU 23/2s on BTRDs

3 Engineers, GAZ jeeps.

3 Mortar, 120mm.

1 AT, 85mm ATG

 

For my collection I’ve got far more attachments than I actually need, this is primarily to have some variation in what I can field.

 

vdv 4

Three Engineer attachments.

vdv 5

Three SO120 mortars (a breech loading 120mm mortar on the BMD APC chassis).

vdv 6

AGS17 Plamya automatic grenade launcher attachments.

vdv 7

The BRDM based ATGMs which act as the anti- tank attachments.

vdv 8

A MMG attachment.

 

I’ve come up with a couple of scenarios to use with the unit that reflect the sort of tactical missions they’d have been given. The first is a landing to capture a bridge and then hold it against a counter attack until relieved, the second is to attack into NATO rear areas to take out a HQ. I’ll post some game reports when I’ve played them.

I may yet expand my collection to be able to field a regiment from a fully fledged Airborne Division later on.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

From the shed: IS 7 Heavy tank.

One of the silliest things a gamer can do is get stuck in an arms race… trying to get the biggest/ most powerful unit… it is even sillier when this is with yourself. Bearing that in mind I present my IS7: a Soviet prototype that should give the Germans with their dug in E100 pause for thought.

is7 1

This beast of a tank, aka Object 260, was design in December 1945 and weighted in at 68 tonnes. Armed with a massive 130mm gun fed by an autoloaded it also carried 8 assorted machine guns (2 in the hull, 2 in the turret rear 3 co axially and 1 on an anti- aircraft mount). The behemoth had up to 300mm of armour and was proof against the german 128mm PAK (the main armament of the Jagdtiger and the planned armament of the E100) from the front.

is7 2

Seven protypes were made but it was not, for many reasons, decided to put the type forward for full production. It remains the heaviest tank the Soviets/ Russia has ever made; a surviving example is in Kublinka museum. It was followed by the IS8 which eventually entered service as the T10 (the name being changed after Stalin’s death).

is7 3

This 1/72nd kit is by Trumpter and was a pleasure to put together. I painted it with the usual acrylics. It should hake a decent opponent to all of the silly German experimental stuff I’ve got if I could only find somewhere big enough to take advantage of its main gun. It will probably be used as an objective in a skirmish game…. it may even face the Western Allies in a very early Cold War game… why not I guess?

is7 4

Cheers,

 

Pete.

From the Shed: More Elhiem figures.

A couple of quick pics here…

 

First up I painted 4 USMC figures, enough to form a fireteam, to try out the colours to paint Woodland MARPAT pattern see here for an example. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. Although a full platoon of them would take a while…. Will try the desert scheme next.

marines woodland marpat

I also painted up some assorted Cold War Soviet figures for a couple of scenarios I’ve got planned, the guy with the white helmet is a Military Policeman on traffic duty:

assorted cold war soviets

Finally I got some of the insurgent gun crew to go with the improvised mortars I featured a bit ago:

insurgent gun crew

gun crews and mortars

https://www.elhiem.co.uk/

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

Film Review: Come and See. 1985. Directed by Elim Klimov.

Given I referenced Come and See in my last film review it makes sense to make it the subject of this next one.

When I heard that this film was the late J. G. Ballard’s favourite war film I knew I had to see it. Ballard has long been my favourite author and I knew that his recommendation would mean that this film would be something special… I wasn’t disappointed, but I wasn’t expecting such a powerful visceral gut- punch reaction to a film like the one I got from Come and See….

 

 

The film opens with a young Byelorussian boy recovering a rifle from the site of an earlier battle, so he can take it to join the local Partisans who have a base in the forest. Leaving against his parents’ wishes he makes contact with the Partisans and their solemn but charismatic leader.

 

His age prevents them from taking him seriously as a fighter and much to his evident disappointment they decline to take him with them when they go on their next mission. As he is left alone in the camp he makes friends with a girl, also left behind, who is a few years older than him. They play in the forest, children having space within a respite from the horrors of the war to act as children.

 

This is cut short by the bombing of the camp by the Germans. With several near misses the boy is left disorientated and with a permanent ringing in his ears that renders the audio slightly garbled as the film is told from his perspective.

 

Making his way back to his village he arrives just as an SS unit is conducting a reprisal/ massacre of the village. For the next half hour or so the boy wanders through the scenes of near unimaginable horror as the SS men go about the atrocities that so characterised their behaviour throughout the war. Given that very little dialogue is said directly to camera and so no subtitles are present, and the audio is still distorted as a result of the effect of the bombing on the boy the part of the film has a hideous, near surreal tableaux that is more horrific than anything Bosch has come up with for the events and action perpetrated by the SS men and their locally raised auxiliaries are wholly representative of the reality of the time.

 

The senior SS Officer during the massacre is shown with a pet monkey, this is a very clear nod towards the SS men being from the infamous Dirlewanger Brigade led by Oskar Dirlewanger; it is with out hyperbole that he can be described as once of the nastiest and most abhorrent men in WW2. biography book link

 

The Partisans do return and ambush the SS men as they are leaving the destroyed village and take the boy with them, the boy is forever scarred and broken by what he has seen happen to himself, the young girl and the whole village. Finding a portrait of Hitler, the young boy shoots in repeatedly, the film at this point showing a montage of photos of Hitler’s life in reverse ending with him as a baby…

 

… the film concludes with the young boy, hardened and no doubt embittered as a fully-fledged Partisan.

 

Come and See is a difficult watch, it is hard to say you ‘enjoy’ the film in the same way you’d enjoy a normal film, but such is its power and vision you can’t help but engage with it on a deeper level. Well shot it draws you in to those terrible days and makes you confront the reality of it. A reality that is today being lost by it fading from living memory as people die, anodyne history books that fail to do justice to their subject matter and worst of all those deniers who try to say it never happened. It really deserves a wide audience in my opinion.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Speed paints and a fail from the shed.

I’ve been hit with the painting bug recently so have been trying to get stuff finished off in the shed.

I quickly knocked out these Pegasus Vietnam US marines see review here I really liked them. Good sculpts and a wide range of weaponary being fielded.

vietnam marines

With the recent games of 5core: Brigade Commander that we have all been enjoying I’ve bought some more 6mm/ 1/285th / 1/300th aircraft to add some variety. The most recent ones to be painted up are:

il 28 beagle

An IL28 ‘Beagle, model from Scotia Grendel.

su 7

A Su7 ‘Fitter’, again from Scotia Grendel.

skyraider

A Skyraider painted in Vietnam era US Navy colours. Model is from Raiden bought via Magistermilitum when they were getting rid of their stock.

Panther

A Korean War USN era Panther again from Raiden.

f100

Last of the aircraft was an early 1960s USAF F100 Super Sabre, also from Raiden.

 

When I bought the GW 40k Chaos Cultists that I blogged about a bit back I also bought some poxwalkers the Nurgle Zombie type things. In my minds eye I had an idea of what I wanted then to look like… rotting green appendages going into pale sickly looking skin. Accordingly I didn’t think that my usual speed painting methods were suitable so I tried to paint them ‘properly’ you know, washes, shading, highlights and so on. I spent ages on them and I don’t think the end results justify the time invested. I mean they look ok but still a long way from what I wanted to achieve. Still, it serves me right for being clever I guess.

pox walkers 1

pox walkers 2

pox walkers 3

So for my Van Saar Necromunda gang that I’ve currently got on the painting bench I’ve gone back to my tried and trusted methods….

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.