From the Shed: Dug in E100.

The Entwicklung series of tanks was an attempted rationalisation of the German tank production towards the end of WW2. You can read more about it here and here.

The E100 was a heavy tank,  comparable to the better know Maus, armed with a 128mm gun and a coaxial 75mm L48 gun.

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I bought this 1/72nd Dragon kit many years ago to use the running gear for resin conversion (into an even sillier 150mm armed jagdpanzer version) as such I’ve had the spare hull and turret sitting around planning to do it as a dug in version. A group build on the Wargamers Forum link gave me the impetus.

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Next job is to come up with a scenario to use it in… I’m thinking Russian Engineers or Commandos sneaking up at night to blow it up….

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

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Film Review: The Captain/ Der Hauptmann. 2017. Directed by Robert Schwentke.

Inspired by Hannie’s blog link I’ve decided to review the last film I watched… The Captain It was released last year so it is a fairly recent one too.

 

The film is based on a true story; the titular Captain is Willi Herold, a young German Landser who deserted then adopted the role of a Luftwaffe Captain and carried out some pretty horrendous crimes in the last months of WW2.

The film opens up with a young man, Willi Herold, in scraps of uniform being pursued by German Soldiers as a deserter who are intent on killing him. After hiding in a wood and making his escape he stumbles upon a abandoned staff car, whilst rifling through the car looking for food and warm clothing he finds the full uniform of a Luftwaffe Captain. Being better than the rags he is in he gets changed and smartens up his appearance. Shortly after doing this another soldier/ straggler approaches him and ask for permission to be under the Captain’s command.

At this point Herold realises if he is dressed as a Captain and is being taken as an Officer as in this situation, he has to act out the role lest he is rumbled. He needs to quickly adopt the manner and authority that befits his new persona. So, he takes on the straggler as his driver. However, being an officer behind the lines without any papers means that questions are asked as to his purpose, Herold bluffs his way through this, basically inventing a story that he is on a special mission from Hitler himself to investigate the state of morale in the rear. This is a confidence trick with his survival being staked on it.

With the rear areas being infiltrated by looting deserters, violent and rapacious to the point of brigandage (just like Herold Was himself at the start of the film) he finds he has to adopt the brutal, violent manner that is expected of a German Officer at this stage of the war, the situation forcing Herold to dispense summary justice to maintain his fake persona. This leads him ultimately, and to not give too much of the remainder of the film away, to a prison camp for German soldiers run by the SS where he instigates and perpetrates the mass murders of fellow Germans by the rabble of men he has collected around himself.

The film is wonderfully shot with a very subdued colour palette, the landscapes look rather bleak and minimal lending a post- apocalyptic feel to the whole proceedings. The acting is good, Willi Herold being played by a young Swiss actor Max Hubacher, with a cast of grizzled looking soldiers being contrasted with Herold’s / Hubacher’s fresh faced good looks.

Parts of the film are incredibly dark, not just in terms of what they portray which, whilst violent, aren’t particularly graphic but also in the obvious disintegration of the psyche of Herold as he turns from the oppressed to the oppressor carrying out the very acts that he started the film fleeing from. It is never made clear whether this is due to a latent psychopathy within him of an insane end that keeping up his charade drives him to. This ambiguity is a good thing as it forces the view to consider both positions themselves. It would be too easy to explain the action of Herold away as that of a mad man but what about everybody else involved? With the exception of his driver who he forces to participate against his will in the killings. In this way you could extrapolate question to the whole phenomena of the Holocaust and other crimes of the Nazi regime, the film being a slice of or microcosm of the larger events. Taking the lead from Browning’s excellent book Ordinary Men one could turn to social psychology for an explanation and look at the experiments of Milgram and Zimbardo for how behaviour is governed by the role adopted and submission to authority.

I think one of the best things I can say of the film is that it evokes the feeling of the 1985 Russian film Come and See but not in a derivative way (Come and See is, I think, one of the best and most important films about WW2 and you should really watch it if you haven’t already). The normalisation of violence and the wanton nihilistic violence that often accompanies war but was especially prevalent within the Third Reich is very well realised, the almost surrealist scenes that are shown whilst the credits roll raises more questions than it answers.

The real-life Willi Herold was only 20 when he committed his crimes. After the war he and his accomplices were tried and executed 6, including Herold were executed as war criminals. There is a short Wikipedia page on him here .

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

From the shed: some 20mm scatter terrain.

Yet more comes from the shed, this time for my 20mm/  1/72nd collections.

Bill gave a plastic shed that he didn’t want- he had bought it as a partof a job lot of second- hand railway bits. I quick coat of paint and a bit of weathering resulted in this:

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I think it turned out quite nicely, will be nice tucked into the edge of a field in a rural setting or possibly at the end of a garden.

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The telegraph poles were designed and laser cut by  friend, based on a picture from a book on the fighting in Sicily in WW2. Not the most exciting of items but they’ll look good lining a road.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

From the Shed: 20mm WW2 AB Brits.

I’ve just finished up these figures from AB (now sold by Euerka in Australia and available in the UK from Fighting 15s).

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They are wonderful sculpts; lots of character has been put into the faces. They were fast painted with my usual Vallejo acrylic paints.

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I’m not a big collector of WW2 Brits as both Evan and Bill have extensive collections, still it is nice to have a few about here and there.

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There is a Bren, a 3″ and a 2″ mortar as well as lots of SMGs. It should add to my modest collection well.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

From the shed: A selection of kits from Anyscale Models

Anyscale Models are a relatively new resin manufacturer who make kits in either 1/72nd or one 1:56, whilst a lot of the range is geared towards railway modellers there is plenty aim at the wargamer. I put in a small order a bit back and have just got round to finishing them all off.

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This pair of FIAT armoured lorries were made by the Italians and then taken into service by the Germans after the 1943 armastice. They are ideal for partisan games in the north of Italy during the last few years of the war. I painted them in acrylics and gave them a heavy weathering with a sponge.

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A simple field kitchen, ostensibly British and WW2 will do duty everywhere for  those raid on a base camp style scenarios.

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This pipe is meant to be scaled for 1:56/ 28mm wargaming but it is generic enough to be used for either I think. Again painted with a sponge.

I highly recommend looking at Anyscale, a decent range and it is all very competitively priced. I will be certainly ordering from them again soon.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Megagame Report: Czech mate ’38.

Czechmate ’38 was an operational megagame put on by Paul Howarth in October.  As can be guess from the name it is a what if? Exploration of what could of happened had the Czechoslovaks militarily resisted the attended annexation of the Sudetenland.  It was designed to test out some mechanics before they were used in other, bigger, games; as such this game was run as a small affair through Paul’s Story Living Games.

I got the chance to be the overall commander of the Czechoslovak forces. I came up with a simple plan. A crust of defences that would be held doggedly and the reserves held centrally to respond to the inevitable breakthrough. With only one good mobile division I kept it near the capital as I figured that this would be the main target for the Germans on the day to try and force the Czechs out of the game. I did know that the Germans only had about a fortnight’s worth of supplies, so it was a question of just holding on and trying to not give up any more real estate than I could.

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The plan forms.

On the day because of the small numbers of players I would also be running the air forces for my side. I had helped Paul with playtesting this part of the game quite a bit, so I was confident that I could do both jobs easily.

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A close up view of the air game board.

What really made my day go so well was the sterling work gone by Nick who was my aide de camp who kept me up to date with what was happening on the map, relaying messages and generally keeping things going along.

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My reserves looked impressive stacked up until I saw all the German cubes….

The previous playtesting of the air game had given me a slight advantage even though the Czechoslovak Air Force was greatly outnumbered by the Luftwaffe: I knew I could go toe to toe so put very little up in the early turns conceding air superiority on the basis that I’d never be in a position to seriously contest it anyway. I fully expected a massive German offensive, so my plan was to only fly 50% of my force at any one time, keep stuff cycled through quickly and concentrate on targeting the command and control links of the Wehrmacht.

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General shot of the room: the two smaller tables are for the air game.

The main game was played on an open map with 5cm polystyrene blocks. Each block represented a regiment with the face uppermost indicating that regiment’s current status. The blocks also showed the combat value in each state. Players were given and then had to spend command points to activate their units. It was my responsibility to assign from my pool of points allocations to each player.

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See what I mean about all the red German cubes…? Good job they took so long to clear the border fortifications.

In the plenary briefing of the game I got a little worried when Paul said that if the Czechoslovaks got wiped out and defeated by half past 12 would could just reset, swap sides and go again… it got me expecting a whitewashing. Fortunately, the bunkers that most of my troops started in were pretty tough and the fact that the German Heer was trying to advance whole Corps along a single mountainous road in October meant that they struggled to get the command points to activate.

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Fall back positions were organised.

When the Germans made their first breakthrough I called a tea break to sort out the allocation of reserves and to speak to each commander to see how likely they were to hold out and for how long. At this point I assigned some fall-back positions trying to make the best use of natural obstacles. I was prepared to give up some areas rather than risk having any forces encircled.

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An army marches on its stomach so I brought tea lof to sustain my Czech team.

In the end the reserves, at least those that were rifle divisions, were parcelled out quite early. Hindsight has made me consider if a bolder strategy would have been to have released them to players at the start to make the initial crust of defences very strong indeed. It would have left me with only the Fast Division to act as a reserve which wouldn’t have been very much at all…

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Towards the end of the game the Germans did start breaking through.

I got the chance to do a little roleplaying/ politicking to try and appeal to the French to apply diplomatic pressure. I knew a full-scale invasion of Germany wouldn’t be possible (and outside the scope of the game) but when it was announced that the Poles were mobilizing to take advantage of our misfortunes I appealed to the French to call them off. I knew that this would be easier if we managed to put in a decent counter attack. I knew that I couldn’t turn back the German tide, but I could definitely put a dint into the main thrust. It is worth remembering that the German tanks at this stage were quite poor, mostly Panzer I and Panzer IIs with the better Panzer IIIs and IVs being quite rare. Easy prey for the LT 35 and LT 38 tanks with their 37mm guns I could field. The attack went in as I planned and managed to stall the main German thrust to Prague. It wasn’t a game winning manoeuvre, but it should that will still had fight left in us and saved the capital for a few more days. In the end the game ended after ten days/ turns; certainly, much of the country was occupied but we still had units in the field and a functional government. The Germans had paid a heavy cost to get this far, especially in materiel. So much that a further invasion of Poland the following year would have been doubtful.

The game system seemed pretty solid and I’m looking forward to it being used in next year’s Poland game. The only thing that needs to be added would be a better fog of war mechanism so the location of my reserves would of have to have been discovered in the game by the Germans but that is a minor thing. The only down side of the day is that I now want to raise a 20mm collection to fight out some of the battles the game generated with toy soldiers.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

A ruined Italian house.

I picked up one of the Airfix resin buildings cheap a while back. It was one of their Italian/ mediterranean styled building. I thought the basic building ( as seen here ) was a bit plain so I jazzed it up a bit. I added the remains of a ceiling/ attic and based it with some rubble. I remembered to paint the underside black before I stuck it down too.

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I painted it with some cheap acrylics and then added some static grass and tufts. I’m quite pleased with how it has turned out. It should be a nice addition to my scenery collection for that part of the world. Just need to get it into a game next, now where did I put my 20mm partisans….

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.