Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Battle For Carenvan Part 3; Another Bolt Action batrep

Banging Heads In Carenvan

     Well, with all the fun we had in the last game and an inconclusive result, the battle for Carenvan rages on. I make no apology for a third battle set in Carenvan, the fact was we had built and painted more buildings from Dave's Wargames excellent range and one from Sarissa (Rich had built and painted four in one mega, never to be repeated session...Never ever ever, to quote him, to my measely one. I know; where's my commitment?)  This time we upped the ante. Both sides are determined to take the town and are throwing in more armour to help the troops on the ground. To represent this we decided on a 2000 point battle and each side must field an armoured platoon as per Tank Wars.
     I needed no second bidding but I dithered between two Panthers and a Puma or two Panzer IVs and a Stug IV. We tend too ignore the Tiger Fear rule whne it comes to Panzer IVs which makes little odds as we often forget it even with Panthers and Tigers and my conscience wouldn't allow me to capitalise on that rule if I had Panthers in the game. So eventually I settled on the Panzer IV/Stug IV combo. I then attached these to my Fallschirmjager platoon with it's supporting Lorraine Schlepper which I thought would be a pretty decent combination of armour and infantry.
      Curious though, isn't it, how folk interperate a sentence differently as Rich went for a complete 2000 point armoured force with everyone in vehicles with two Shermans, an M4 and an M4A3 supporting two M3 Half Tracks full of infantry, a truck with an engineer squad and a Dodge Weapons Carrier carrying a mortar team and a bazooka team.Whereas I thought he meant add an armoured platoon to our existing platoons! C'est la guerre. Send three and sixpence, eh?
       Lastly, fiend Richard had brought his meat chopper (don't panic, matron, its the name those rough former colonials, the Americans, have given to a half tracked vehicle with lots of guns on it!) M3 Half Track with it's quad mounted .50 cals as he hadn't used it yet and he deduced that my chaps looked like just the sort of enemy force that might need trimming! 
       We decided to play the Key Points scenario yet again though this time we had a total of three objectives; two German and one US. With an even more densely populated board, fewer objectives to focus on and more tanks to focus with this looked to have all the makings of a ding dong battle. Let's see how it played out.... 
Carenvan town centre before the battle
     M. Louis Moreau, mayor of Carenvan, was in a state of high, nervous tension. Word had spread quickly that the Allies had landed. Not that the word needed spreading, the shelling and shooting, the discarded parachutes hanging from trees and telegraph wires told their own tale and the sudden activity of the hated Boche underlined it.
       In Carenvan, as in other small towns dotted along the French seaboard, the Germans had had a small garrison, mostly Poles, Russians and other oddities from the East, and these had disappeared from the town along with their German officers and NCOs with the coming of the dawn. Where they had gone, M. Moreau did not know, all he knew was that the Allies were coming. 
      Already he had seen and spoken with some of the tall, lean, gum chewing and frankly frightening looking paratroopers. One had even given him a cigar; magnifique!! It had seemed at last the little town of Carenvan was liberated from the hated Boche. But he had thought too soon. 
      In the western and eastern parts of the town there  were already battles taking place between the Americans and Germans and now it looked like the centre of the town was going to become a battle ground too and M. Moraeu, aware of his civic duty, was attempting to get the local inhabitants to stay indoors to avoid becoming casualties in the coming battle. So, with his mayoral red, white and blue sash around his shoulder and a white flag in his hand he was hurrying from house to cafe to church to house again urging his neighbours not to stray outdoors but too little avail. 
     As he dashed across the small town square towards the Cafe Normandy he became aware of the sound of engines and the squeal of tracks on cobbles from both sides of the square. To his right he saw with joy an American half track rumbling into view and he started to slow down when, glancing to his left he saw trundling towards him the squat, ugly shape of a German tank crash through the garden of Rene Boucher......

The quaint streets of central Carenvan

A liberated people?

Signs of a hasty German departure

The view from the US side of the table

Abandoned Luftwaffe car

German objective 1. 

     Leutnant Willi Schmelling took a long draw on the Lucky Strike cigarette in his hand. Sheer bliss, he thought, the Amis make good cigarettes. Flicking the very small butt of the cigarette into a nearby garden he turned to the men behind him, crouching along the fence and wall that lined the street and waved them forward . 
     He let two squads go past before nudging the man beside him. "Let's go" he said, standing up. Further down the street he could see the Panzer IV approaching. Higher command obviously wanted the Amis in Carenvan destroyed and the town retaken. They had ordered up a Panzer regiemnt in support of the Fallschirmjager already engaged in the town. 
      Schmelling waited till the tank drew level with him and flagged it down. It came to a halt and the commander leaned down from his cupola towards Schmelling, lifting one earphone as he did so. 
    "As best we know, the Amis are just up ahead" Schmelling shouted, making himself heard above the noise of the idling engine. The commander nodded "Tanks?" he shouted in reply ." We think so; certainly vehicles. Hard to tell in such a built up area". The tank commander gave a thumbs up and shouted "We'll lead from here but tel your men to stay near, we can;t see everything" 
     It was Schmelling's turn to give the thumbs up sign. He knew his men would stay near the Panzers without being told to. Too many years of fighting in co operation with tanks had taught them well. The commander disappeared into his cupola and, engine revving, the tank moved forward... 

Leutnant Schmelling orders his men forward 
as the Panzer IV joins them,
On their flank a Stug IV smashes through Rene Boucher's garden

An American half track makes it way forward warily. Spotting a
German light mortar team, it opens fire, but misses 
The light mortar retaliates and, two rounds later, the M3 is burning.
 It's passengers have dismounted and are hell bent on revenge
...with the assistance of some US Armour
The German mortar wasn't the only ones blessed with an efficient crew. After killing
  an American sniper, the Lorraine Schlepper is hit by a medium mortar and catches fire .
A Panzer IV moves up to bolster the Fallschirmjager position on that flank

     The two Shermans advanced along the cobbled street. The lead one, commanded by Sgt Denzil Q. Cumberpatch stopped before a junction  Peering out of the top of his Sherman M4A3, Cumberpatch spoke into his radio mike "Okay Slim, you follow those foot sloggers in front, we'll cut around the other side of this block and meet you on the far side"  Without awaiting the acknowledgement from the other Sherman commander he ordered the driver to turn down the small side street. The huge tank's tracks ground on the cobbles as it turned on its axis and started to head down the street. As they did, Cumberpatch spotted the Germans behind the building and ordered the turret swung to engage them with the coaxial machine gun.
     As he did so, pandemonium erupted. His driver screamed out "Tiger!!" as an anti tank shell slammed into the wall behind the turret. Cumberpatch turned to see a Panzer IV at the end of the street "Driver! Reverse! Gunner, target front! Get that son of a bitch turret turned!!" Up ahead the German tank shuddered as a shot hit it from somewhere out of the blue. Suddenly, it began reversing out of sight just as the Shermnas turret swung slowly, incredibly slowly it seemed to Cumberpatch to face the direction the Panzer had gone "Stop!! Stop!! Stop!!" He yelled at his driver as he realised the other Sherman was behind him. "We..erm...we ain't moving, Sarge" came the meek reply from the driver " I...erm...I guess I got kindoff a shock when I saw that tank..." 

A squad of engineers spill from their truck and take shelter behind a nearby house.
The .50 cal gun on their truck fires on the Germans holding the second objective;
the ruins by the exit road from the town. 
Meanwhile a squad of Fallschirmjager crouch on the other side of the building.
In the ruin, the Germans holding the objective lost two men to the .50cal 

     As much as he disliked taking his tank into built up areas Leutnant Berntzner and his crew were running riot. In support of the Fallschirmjager they had destroyed the American truck with it's heavy machine gun on it's roof. Turning yet another corner, Berntzner saw a group of Americans cringing by a nearby house and just as he was about to order his gunner to fire on them he saw an American tank through a gap in the buildings ahead. "Krappe, target ahead! Between the buildings; engage!!"        His gunner swiftly drew a bead on the Sherman sitting side onto them. "On!!" Krappe shouted. "Fire" cred Berntzner and watched as the shot slammed into the Sherman's exposed side and the enemy vehicle shook with the secondary explosion; thick, black, oily smoke poured from the tank.
       As they prepared to advance, the Panzer shook, heavy calibre bullets tore into the engine compartment and it's engine stopped. "Rotate the turret!" cried Berntzner, realising they where being shot at from behind...
On target. 

On the left flank, the Americans had all but over run the German objective. 
However, one stubborn Fallschirmjager held on, firing short bursts at the
US Paratroopers, keeping their heads down. Behind him, lies the now 
wrecked Panzer IV, destroyed by Sgt Cumberpatch's Sherman.

        Oberfdwebel Dittmar, seeing the US push on left flank, shouted to a squad of Fallschirmjager near him. "Gefrieter Schnabel!!" The NCO in charge of the squad ran to Dittmar. "Yes sir" he gasped".
       "Have you any panzerfausts?" inquired Dittmar. "Yes sir" replied Schnabel. "Right, get your men   around the other side of this inn. The Amis have a tank around there; I want it knocked out. Be aware though, they have infantry with them"
      The JNCO nodded then, collecting his men, led them across the front of the inn, the two men with the panzerfausts at the front.  

Gefrietr Schnabel's squad head to take on the US Armour

View of the right  flank at the end of the battle

Lt Schmelling takes control of the right flank

Another view of the destruction on the German right flank

      That was fun. Plenty of action and some incredibly bad shooting. Yet again the dice gods bared their bottoms at me. My Panzer IV was less than six inches from the M4A3 and I rolled a 1!! Then the American mortar dropped a mortar on my Panzer IV and it gained 3 pins. A failed orders test in the next turn saw it pulling back and going Down!! Come on!
       Fortunately my commanders Panzer IV had better luck. But before that Sgt Cumberpatch's M4A3 had destroyed the panicked Panzer IV. With another Sherman and a squad from the 82nd bearing down on the objective, all looked lost and sure enough the Fallschirmjager squad there was almost wiped out, with only the NCO hanging on and denying the American's the objective thereby turning an American victory into a draw and I'll take that over a defeat,

Right, I need a stiff drink after all that fighting,
pip pip!!

Monday, 24 September 2018

Update No1; What We Did On Our Holidays

     Well what we did or rather I did on our summer holidays was prepare for Sharp Practice at Britcon which including building forces and characters which I did blog (see my earlier posts...not quite figured out how to put in links to the pages yet so you may have to rummage around in the blog for those posts) and, on top of that, put together a tables worth of terrain which is what this blog post will cover. 

     Now your average, organised, polished blogger would have done this as he went along but, even though I mentioned it briefly in an earlier post, I got carried away and then forget to update stuff so, luckily for you, you will only get an overview here.

     To start with I had a few buildings produced by Warbases.co.uk from their modular series set that I had bought, built and hadn't quite gotten around to finishing. One was still in a fairly raw state and another I had painted and based but it looked, to be honest, a bit meh!

First set of the Warbases modular buildings that I planned to use. Eventually this would be a small farm I had fitted on doors, window frames and laser cut roof tiles from Warbases. As you can see the windows and doors stand proud of the walls in a somewhat unconvincing manner 
This received a coating of Das Clay, to give it a nice, rustic look. This also made the windows look like they were built into the wall, noyt plopped on the eoutside

Here's one I prepared earlier...An earlier build, literally thrown together for a game of Black Powder. I have started adding the window and door lintels from Das Clay.  

The Signal Tower. The tower itself is a Pringles tube that has been coated in Das Clay with doors and windows from the aforementioned Warbases. The signal arms on the top are also from Warbases. 

Signal tower with figure for scale
I had recently enjoyed a game of Warhammer's Legends of the High Seas at my mate Danny's place, the Dan-Cave. And there I was able to see in the flesh, so to speak, some of the lovely Mediterranean style buildings that Charlie Foxtrot produce. So imressed was I that I ordered their Small Hermitage building which duly turned up and turned out to be....a stable

A small mix up had led to the stable being mis-labelled and sent to me instead. Rather than faff about or get all hot and bothered about this I contacted Colin at Charlie Foxtrot, explained the error, kept the stable and re-ordered the Small Hermitage so that my small, Peninsular town now had a stable as well as a church. Curiously enough, this led me to buy yet another building from Charlie Foxtrot, their carthouse, as a stable on it's own would look silly, right? 

The collection of buildings (pre Cart House) The fountain is from Airfix's 1/72 scale terrain pieces.
During this process of putting together a town I had been watching quite a few terrain builds on Youtube, not least Mel Bose, the Terrain Tutor. I also stumbled across an easier way to stucco my MDF buildings. This was on the Knights Of Dice Youtube series called rubbish in, rubbish out, I think. Basically, you get some ready mixed plaster, stick it on a plate, add some water then dab it on to the building till it is covered in stucco! Much quicker than the Das Clay method. So I went to it with a will over the remaining buildings and here's the results. 

Stucco-ed and painted. The large building

and the Hermitage and stables

The small farm painted back...

...and front
I then based the farm buildings. I put various bits of grass around the buildings to tie them into the base. I felt there was something missing here and, after a beer, I realised that what was needed was dust and debris; the usual natural detritus that gathers around buildings in hot, dusty conditions so, some white glue and clean, crushed cat litter later I had finished.

Whilst I was happy with the farm, it appears this local farmer wasn't and had decided to pack up and leave, breaking both his missus' heart and mine, the cruel, thoughtless swine!! What's wrong with my lovely farm, you ingrate!! 

I did something similar with the signal tower, adding a small wall to give it some cover for any troops who might need to defend it

The Charlie Foxtrot buildings I left on their integral bases apart from the Small Hermitage as I wanted a bit more flexibility with them. Here they are in all their glory

The wagons are from Warbases and the barrels are from the Depot Battalion range produced by Colonel Bill's

The Small Hermitage. I fitted that onto a larger base as I wanted to attach a living quarter at the back for the local priest and to give a rear entry/exit to the building

The Casa Grande (or is that the Big Hoose?) I removed the roofs which I had originally, in my haste, glued down and fitted an removable upper floor in the main building with the balcony and a fixed one in the upper part of the tower. Turned out alright, methinks

So that was the actual buildings done for the small town but what of the surrounding areas. Well I had quite a few pieces of resin dry stone walls from a local railway model shop that decided to use. Most of this I mounted onto large lollipop sticks so that it would give it a little extra height and so that I could also texture the bases too.

Pre painted walls with 28mm figure for scale 

This was duly primed black then dry brushed progressively grey then white. You can see the results below as I added some of them to a couple of pieces of carpet that I used to make ploughed fields

Mel the Terrain Tutor has done a whole video on creating these. I added to the results as they looked a bit bare so besides adding small patches of green shoots I also glued on some cat litter, clean and unused of course, to represent the dry, rocky terrain that might be encountered in the hotter parts of the Peninsula. And I am mightily pleased with them, I must say.

Mel the Terrain Tutor also does a couple of videos on scatter terrain and these are my efforts, based on old CDs that I no longer needed, which is just as well. 

I bought some 4Ground Poplar trees too, and did the bases in a similar style to the scatter oieces
Lastly, I put together and painted up a couple of optional focal pieces for the village; a cross and a fountain. The cross is from HokaHey and was a gift from the very nice chap. Alan, who owns HokaHey. Admittedly it is a Saxon Cross but I figured that there is was a strong enough link between Ireland and Spain for such a cross to have, maybe been built by an ex-pat Irishman living in Spain. Anyway, it looks the part

The fountain is a 1/72 scale resin piece from Airfix that I picked up in Home Bargains here in UK for the princely sum of £2.99 sterling!!

The completed buildings awaiting careful and well thought out packing

In use at Britcon

the road is mine 

        And that was that. I really enjoyed putting all this terrain together. I do now, have to put together my Peninsular British and my Afrika Korps so that this stuff sees the light of day again. But thah'll be another blog post or ten from now, till then,

pip pip,
The General

Bolt Action Fortress Budapest Campaign. #1

In The Beginning There Was Scenario 8...      Well this month saw the actual, genuine, much anticipated release of the Bolt Actio...