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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Afrika Korps 88mm Gun

NOTE: This is a repost from 8/29/15 with 895 views.

The 88 mm gun was used by the Germans as an anti-tank, anti-aircraft, and artillery gun during World War II. Although the 88mm gun was not the largest or most powerful of the German guns, it was more mobile, had a more rapid rate of fire, could be accurately aimed, and there were no Allied tanks that could withstand a direct hit from its shell.

Afrika Korps 88mm Gun

Battlefront Miniatures German 88mm.  Kfz 15 field car in the foreground and Sd Kfz 7 tractor in the background.

The 88 came to be feared by the Allied forces after suffering unacceptably high lessees such as happened during Operation Battleaxe. During the operation (in Egypt near the border of Libya), the Germans used 88mm guns as tank weapons against the British at Halfaya Pass.

Due in large part to the effectiveness of the German 88mm gun, "Operation Battleaxe" cost the British about 90 tanks...almost 1,000 men and the chance to restore morale through a desert victory," (Richard Collier, The War in the Desert, pp.71). These German guns were produced in large numbers. Over 18,000 (including all variants) were built during World War II.

Sd Kfz 7 tractor pulling an 88mm.

Battlefront's 8.8cm FlaK36 Battery box contains: Two 8.8cm FlaK 36 guns, 2 scenic gun bases, 2 scenic extra crew bases, 16 gun crew, command team, 1 Kfz 15 field car, 2 Sd Kfz 7 tractors, 2 sets of bogies on medium bases.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Field Marshal Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel

Note: Repost from 8/24/15 with 1,199 views.

"Rommel! Rommel! Rommel! What else matters but beating him!", British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Cairo Conference, August 8th, 1942.

Popularly known as the "Desert Fox" Field Marshal Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel is a favorite for war gaming. Rommel is regarded as having been a humane and professional officer.   His Afrika Korps was never accused of war crimes, and Allied soldiers captured during his Africa campaign were reported to have been treated humanely.  Orders to kill Jewish soldiers, civilians and captured commandos were ignored.  Battle Front has an outstanding version of him from their Flames of War range in 15 mm.

The Rommel blister pack comes contains Rommel, his Sd Kfz 250/5 half-track named Greif, 2 crew, table, stool, and 1 Large base.

 A photo of Rommel in his Sd Kfz 250/5 half-track named Greif.  Greif can mean "Griffin" or "Attack" in German.

For the vignette I have added a couple of Panzer III tanks to protect the Field Marshal while he is receiving his briefing on the current situation.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Afrika Korps Panzergrenadiers

 A view from above

As you have probably guessed, I have not done a lot of painting or gaming this quarter. I am the Security Manager for a hospital and we have been busy preparing for the Coronavirus outbreak. I usually do my blog entries 2 to 4 weeks in advance and with work that has been a challenge. (Don't you hate it when work interferes with your hobby?) As far as the Coronavirus - stay calm, wash your hands, if you have flu like symptoms get checked and STAY CALM!

Amazingly this post from 9/5/15 had 2290 views! I guess it just goes to show that Infantry is sexier than tanks! World War II as a gaming genre is as popular as ever and their is the mystique of the "clean war" that was fought in North Africa from 1941 to 1943. On with the blast from the past:

I'm a retired Infantry officer that has served in both light and heavy units. (Side note, according to an acquaintance who is a C5 pilot in the Air Force: "The Army does not have light divisions; they have heavy divisions and heavier divisions") When I first saw the Flames of War rules I thought to myself, "Self, this looks really cool." Being an army combat kind of guy and military historian, it had appeal - lots of appeal.

As a longtime fan of Avalon Hill's classic board game Panzer Blitz, I have always wanted to recreate warfare on the Eastern Front in miniature. I had visions of T-34's and Panther tanks blasting away at each other at Kursk. So when I approached my geeks in training (my 5 sons) about World War II gaming they said:

"Great Dad!"

I said, "Cool! What armies do you want to do?"

They said, "Australians and British!"

"Hmmmmm. . .", I said.

After careful research, I could find not references to the British Expeditionary Force that assisted the Soviets, nor any mention of the heroics of the ANZAC Corps during Operation Bagration in June of 1944. As a result, my first Flames of War Army: The AfriKa Korps.

(Side note: Later Honorable Son #3 went to the top of my list when he decided to do a Soviet Force - bless you Comrade!)

Fighting in an area with little terrain is like fighting in an area with little terrain. Talk about your challenges! Do the terms maneuver, maneuver and maneuver mean anything? No? Well plan on having your butt handed to you in North Africa. And by the way, the Australian infantry is tough. In North Africa, the great killer of tanks were anti-tank guns, and this game accurately reflects that; I have my 88's and Honorable Son #2 has his 17lb AT guns. But tanks are tanks and you can unhinge an open flank if you move fast; but if you want to hold that objective, you better have your infantry along for the ride!  For my Panzergrenadier infantry force I based it on the 4 Co., 2nd Battalion, 104th Panzergrenadiers of the 21st Panzer Division.

This is the stand that represents me: The mighty Hauptmann (Captain - and note the commanding pose) of 4.Kompanie, 2nd Bn, 104th Panzergrenadiers, 21st Panzer Division. That's my snazzy car behind me, a Kfz field car.

Panzergrenadier platoon with Kfz 70 trucks for transportation. I currently have 2 Panzergrenadier platoons plus a machine gun platoon in my company.

Here are some captured British trucks being used. Note the over sized cross and flags for recognition to avoid friendly fire.

 The 2nd Panzergrenadier platoon.

 Part of the German Heavy Machinegun Platoon.

PaK36 3.7 cm light anti-tank gun platoon. 

 The mighty XO leads the rear platoon to support the contact to the front.
 1st Platoon supported by tanks prepare to defend against the enemy.

All in all a good force to game with and game against.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Call of Cthulhu

Well this is not good.

After his classic defeat at an Oyster-Eating Contest in Fogburyport by the great Homer Simpson, Cthulhu decided to stick to the pulp era and now limits his inter dimensional evilness strictly to the time frame of 1895 to 1950. The H.P. Lovecraft Mythos are going to start playing peripheral and primary roles in our upcoming games.

The Star Spawn of Cthulhu is another Wizkids primed resin figure from their Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures Dungeons and Dragon range of figures. I've placed a 28mm Copplestone Miniature (Sam) next to Cthulhu to give an idea of the scale of the figure which was approximately $13 US. For the base coat I watered down some Vallejo Flat Yellow and applied it to all of the body area though a little dripped onto the "portal" area of this evil inter dimensional being. All paints used are Vallejo.

I then took US Dark Green, and you guessed it, I watered it down to create a wash and went over the yellow as I wanted to give my Cthulhu a putrid like effect.

Next up was to paint the claws (which are desperately in need of a manicure) Buff.

The back of the model. I wasn't quite sure at this stage what I wanted to do with the base so I painted it Dark Prussian Blue and of course I super glued it to the figure crookedly.

I repainted the eyes with Yellow and used some Leather Brown which I watered down to apply as a wash to the claws. I added just a touch of Flat Red to the "ears". At this stage I was still concerned with how the overall figure would look because frankly, in my opinion, the base looks awful. A good base can hide a multitude of sins and for once I did a great job on the monster only to screw up the base!

Another view of The Star Spawn of Cthulhu manifesting.

I did some highlighting by dry brushing with Olive Green and a little touch up with Buff to make the claws look really menacing (BWAH HAH HAH!). I still don't like the base.

Suddenly it dawned on me since Cthulhu was manifesting, why don't I put some cotton around the entire figure to hide the botched job on the base?

Now that looks like an evil inter dimensional creature showing up to do some bad stuff to good ole humanity!

The view from the other side . . .

. . . and from the back.

"My name is Randolph Carter, Keeper of the Silver Key and you shall not pass!"

"You know Randolph. Not only do I like punching Nazis, but I like messing up evil inter dimensional beings too."