Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Helping Out a Buddy

    The other day I received an e-mail from one of the few people that actually read this raggedy-ass blog, asking me if I could compare some Minifigs and Pendraken.  So I took some photos and posted them here, and I hope they help.  These are for JChaos:

 On left is Pendraken Falklands Range Brit Leader, on right, Pendraken Vietnam Range US leader.  I saw in your gallery you have some of the Pendraken Vietnam range, so I figured this would help.  The Falklands range is shorter (though this is offset by the thickness of the base), and thinner than the Vietnam range.

 Falklands range Argentinian Leader and Brit Leader.

 Vietnam NVA riflemen and Argentinian leader.

 NVA officer and Brit leader.  You can really see how much taller and thicker the NVA officer is, and Pendraken WWII are the same size as the NVA officer.

 Here's some WWII: Pendraken German Officer (left), Minifigs German rifleman.  Pendraken is taller and thicker.

 Another view.

 Again, with Brit leader at far right.  The camera is canted, but all three are on basing of the same height.  The Brit leader looks taller, but this is due to the thickness of the base, not how tall he actually is.

 Left, Minifigs modern Warsaw Pact, right, Pendraken Argentine rifleman.

 Left, Minifigs modern Warsaw Pact, right, Pendraken Argentine.

 Left, Pendraken Falklands Brit, right, Minifigs Special Operations.

Left, Minifigs Spec Ops, right, Pendraken Falklands Brit.

To sum up, I mix both (WWII and Modern), but I think the Modern mixes better than the WWII.  I hope this helps you, Jorge!


German and Soviet Companies, WWII

    Fellow TMPer John (AKA Grey Panda) have been discussing company-level Chain of Command.  I love the rules as written, but remain committed to my KR-16 adaptation for platoon-level rules, so I decided to finish up a rifle company each of mid-war Germans and Russkies.  These are about 90% Minifigs, with a bit of Pendraken and Takara pre-paints thrown in.  I based them like Flames of War, i.e., a rifle squad is on two bases (rifle team and LMG team).
    The guys were mostly painted, but I needed to rebase them, give them a wash, add some foliage, then pretty up the bases (label and edge).  Here are the fruits of my labor:

 Here's my Soviets (so far, and enough to play with).  Three rifle platoons, each with Plt Cdr, Plt Sgt, 50mm mortar team, three squad leaders, and three rifle squads, each consisting of a rifle team and an LMG team.  One Weapons Platoon, consisting of a PC, Plt Sgt, 120mm mortar team, 82mm mortar team, Dshk 12.7mm HMG team, Maxim 7.62mm MMG team, 82mm mortar team, two AT rifle teams, and an engineer team.  I've also got 3 76.2mm AT guns, four BA-64s, six T-34/76s, 3 SU-122s, and 3 SU-76s.

 The German force.  The rifle platoons are the same, except the German platoons each have a PzSchreck instead of a 50mm mortar.  The Weapons Plt has two MG-42 teams, two 80mm mortar teams, and two engineer squads (two bases each).

 The Russian 1st Platoon (rifle).  Again, PC, Plt Sgt, 50mm mortar, and three squads with squad leaders out front.
 Rifle Plt HQ element: PC, Plt Sgt, 50mm mortars.

 A rifle squad, with LMG team (front), rifle team (rear), and Squad Leader.

 Dshk HMG team and 82mm mortar team.

 ATR team and engineer team.

 BA-64, Zis-3, and SU-76.

 SU-122 and T-34 (I used Pendraken Soviet vehicle crew).

 German rifle platoon.

 German rifle squad.

 German rifle platoon HQ element.

 Engineer team, 80mm mortar team, and MG-42 team.

PaK-38 ATG.  I also have three PaK-40 ATGs, 6 Pz IIIJs, 3 Panthers, 2 Tigers, 3 JgPz IVs, 3 Pz IVDs, 1 Marder II, 1 Sdkfz 251/9, a couple Kubelwagens, 4 Sdkfz 222s, 11 Sdkfz 251/1s, and a bunch of trucks.

Thanks for looking.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

All Americans, non-battle period, 24-26 July 1943

    For the next few days, Dog Company sat in blocking positions waiting for German/Italian counterattacks that never came.  During this period the company was reorganized, with 2nd Platoon being disbanded to provide replacements for 1st and 3rd Platoons.
    Lt Shepherd and SSgt Ford rearranged the platoon, promoting several members of the platoon and rearranging the men to accommodate the new members from 2nd Platoon.  Shepherd and Ford were intent on keeping the .30 cal. MMG, and thus didn't report the Wpns Plt gun being in their possession.
-Sgt Gamble, 2nd Platoon's acting Plt Sgt, was made the Lt's RTO as Shepherd was tired of carrying it himself.  
-Ignacio (bazooka gunner) was promoted to Corporal.
-Cpl Locke (1B) became a Tier II leader.
-Fox (1B) was promoted to Corporal.
-Cpl Keepers was made 2nd Squad SL.
-Welcomed Sgt Bettis from 2nd Plt to become 1st Squad's SL.

The platoon is back at full strength, plus having a .30 cal MMG in 2nd Squad's 2B (their BAR was moved to 2A).  The platoon is ready for whatever may come...


Monday, October 14, 2013

All Americans, Non-Battle Period (14-20 July 1943)


1st Platoon performed admirably in the first phase of the invasion of Sicily and was rewarded with six days out of the line to rest, refit, and  bring in replacements.  The platoon dropped onto an alien land in the dark of night, formed itself in the face of the enemy, and fought its way to the battalion staging area before moving out smartly to eliminate enemy AAA nearby.  Following this the platoon led the assault on the German "Objective Y" defenses, taking Olive Tree Hill then turning it over to 2nd Platoon, which was badly mauled when elements of the German FallschirmPanzer Division Hermann Goering counterattacked Olive Tree Hill in its bid to reach the 1st Infantry Division's landing beaches.  1st Platoon immediately mounted a counterattack and ejected the Germans from the hill; however, the HGD soon returned, this time with Tiger tanks, but the platoon held fast.  Again the Germans attacked, with the platoon first holding its ground but then being forced to abandon the position.  2Lt Shepherd and SFC Ford immediately reorganized the platoon and led them back up Olive Tree Hill, evicting the Germans, who fell back in disarray.

The next morning advanced elements of the 1st Inf Divsion arrived to relieve the hard-pressed paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division.  Shepherd and Ford happily led their troops to the rear for some R&R, having no idea it would be almost a full week before their number would again be called.  All of the platoon's walking wounded are healed up, and all the locally evacuated men returned.  All replacements save one (a tough little Corporal named Keepers from 3rd Battalion) were 'boots' straight off the landing ships.  Shepherd promoted several of the 'old hand' Privates were promoted to PFC (though not anyone that ran!).

-I finally rolled up Sgt Glenn's attributes: conformist, religion, and bold.  He's a quiet, humble man, devoted to the Lord, family, and his country.  He believes in being a part of something larger than himself, and, while he doesn't desire to die, his devoutness makes him unafraid of it and thus aggressive on the battlefield.

-Due to his personal valor, the performance of his squad and the platoon as a whole, and the friendship of Sgt Hume, Sgt Hurley has broken free of the depression that gripped him early on.

-SFC Ford (if you've forgotten, he's hedonistic, a drunk, reckless, but a helluva guy under fire) took the Squad Leaders out on the town (strictly against US Army standing orders), where they all became quite drunk and Ford gave his best attempt at causing an international incident when he was caught 'getting to know' the local mayor's significant other.  This got all the way to the Bn Cmdr, who was none to pleased.  Heads didn't roll, but stern warnings were dispensed.

-Two days later Ford again found himself drunk and this time, instead of mixing it up with a local female he decided on an altercation that got physical with a logistics officer from the 45th Infantry Division.  Despite getting the better of the rear-echelon Captain, the BC was not impressed, and Ford finds himself once again occupying the rank of Staff Sergeant.  BC has a neutral opinion of Ford.

-Due to increases in experience and performance in battle, the following progressions were made:
Lt Shepherd becomes a Level III leader
SSgt Ford becomes a Level III leader
Sgt Carlyle becomes a Level I leader
Sgt Hume becomes a Level II leader
Cpl Locke becomes a Level I leader
Sgt Hurley becomes a Level II leader
Cpl Keepers becomes a Level I leader
Sgt Glenn becomes a Level II leader
Cpl Pace becomes a Level I leader

The next phase of the battle sees the 82nd Airborne moving west along the coastal road towards Marsala, largely against inferior opposition, while the German frontline units pull back towards Messina at the northeast tip of the island.  1st Platoon is being brought back into the line to face off against flagging German and Italian opposition.  Up next for the platoon: Card H, "Screen."  Engineers will be off-board checking a substantial portion of road to determine if it can support an armored column.  The platoon will have battalion 81mm mortars in support, an M-3 Stuart in support, and Sgt Lapidus' MMG in support, covering Sgt Austen's engineers.  Also, the Lt has put it off a couple fights already, but his college chum, 1Lt Nickelson, has been begging to accompany Shepherd on a mission, and this seems to be as good as any.


Friday, October 4, 2013

French for Dien Bien Phu


So, I'm patiently waiting for my order of French and Vietminh for Dien Bien Phu and, as I'd previously ordered some odds and ends to be used with them, I decided to paint them up.  Here's some pics; I have yet to give them a wash, which is now customary after being talked into it by the good folks on the Pendraken forum.  I must say, though, that I still cringe as I'm doing it, thinking, "Good Lord, I'm ruining that camouflage that took so long to paint."  But, it keeps turning out pretty doggone well, so I will keep doing it.  I'll get photos of them up once they're washed and based, but I need the whole force before I can base them as I believe this will be multi-based.

So, below is what I intend to use for my French paratroopers, plus the actual French paratroopers and some US Marines, once I receive them.

 These are Pendraken WWII Brit Sten Guns with slouch hats.

Regarding uniforms, you'll see I'm going with a hodge-podge of faded OD, French camo, and USMC WWII "duckhunter" (brown-side out) camo.  And it will be mixed and matched.  As you see in the bottom row, at left is French camo top and bottoms w/yellow bush hat, next guy is Fr camo top and bottoms w/USMC camo hat, next guy is OD top and bottom w/USMC camo hat, next guy is OD bottoms, Fr camo top, and yellow hat, next guy is OD bottoms, USMC top, Fr Camo hat, and last guy is OD bottoms w/Fr camo top and hat.  All the guys in the bottom row have leather boots while all the guys in the top row have the French green jungle boots (can't really see them in this pic).

 This group is WWII Brit rifles in slouch hat.

 Far left is WWII Brit Airborne radio, while four on right are WWII Brit AB officers.


 The 1st and 3-5 guys are from WWII US AB Ardennes Forward Observers pack, while 2 and 3 are WWII US AB Ardennes carbines.


 These are the only actual French paratroopers I currently have in my possession.  These guys are crew members for three recoilless rifles.

 Reverse.  I like the poses, but the folding-stock M-1 carbines on the three guys on the right are really tiny!

 Two of the recoiless rifles, with two flamethrowers from the WWII US AB engineers pack.

 Reverse.  The flame tanks are bit dark for my taste, but I wanted them to stand out from the colors I used in the uniforms.

A closeup to show some camo and the French jungle boots.  The green is too bright but looks good once there's a wash on it.  Sorry I didn't think to get a closeup of the USMC camo.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

WWI US Infantry


No, this isn't a new project.  Actually, it's a very old, un-completed project.  In any case, over on the Pendraken forum there were some questions about US WWI infantry, so I said I'd post some pics, and here they are.  I beg you to please ignore the unfinished bases.

 US Infantry pack (minus the excellent Officer figure) and US LMG (Chauchat)  pack.
 The two poses of the US officer pack.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

And Now, for Something a Little Different


For all of you bored with my WWII battle reports, today I managed to get into something different.  Off we go to the stinking jungles of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, October 1943.  Coastwatchers report a couple Betty's with 4 Zeros in escort coming down the Slot, so the raggedy-a$$ Marine aviators scramble six of the rugged F4F Wildcats to intercept them and keep them off their ground-pounding brethren.

 The opposing forces: The Japanese have two G4M "Betty" Bombers (callsigns G1 and G2), and four A6M "Zeroes" (callsigns JR1, JR2, JR3, and JR4).  The Marines put up six Wildcats against them: AB 1 through 3 and AR1 through 3.  Don't ask me why I have the Japanese operating in pairs and the Marines operating in threes; I was in a hurry and just wanted to test out the rules.

 A closer look at the Marine Wildcats.  All callsigns are based on the base color and, if you look closely on the back edge of the base, you can see a number.  It works for me.

 The Japanese Zeroes.  I did not listen to Mr. Dom (of Dom's Decals) and paid for it.  He says in his directions that you need to put a sealant on the models after putting on the decals; I didn't, and not being careful, I rubbed one of the danged meatballs off (not pictured).

 Gray 1 and Gray 2, the point of this whole endeavor.  The Japanese mission is to exit these two bad boys off the Marine baseline, and the Marines' mission is to stop them.

 Initial set up, with Japanese on the left and Marines on the right.  The bombers are starting off at altitude 4, while all the fighters are higher.

 The Japanese start positions.  The red dice show altitude.  Yes, my playing surface is nasty (a blue sheet with a Sharpie grid put on by yours truly).

 The US baseline.

Tally Ho!  Both sides are starting the fight as spotted.  The two bombers are in formation but still have the lowest initiative and so they have to move first.  They both decide to head for the deck to make it harder for the US fighters to get to them, as well as to pick up speed.  The overall plan is to have the Betty's haul butt for the exit and let the Zeroes try to hold the Wildcats off.

JR3, on the right, dives a level and sprints ahead.  His partner JR4 does the same, but holds at alt 4.  Opposite them, AR1 and AR3 dive a level, cut left, then turn back straight, jockeying for position on the Japanese fighters.  AR2, in the center, heads straight at the bombers, staying at alt 5 to keep up his initiative.  AB3, also in the center, does the same.  On the US right, AB1 and AB2 stay at alt 6, cutting out to the right a bit before squaring off.  On the Japanese left, JR1 and JR2 hold straight and level, looking to cut between AB1 and 2 (on the one hand) and AB3 and AR2 (on the other).

 Behind Japanese after Turn 1.

 Behind US after Turn 1.

A good time to explain a little bit about the rules.  The turn starts with an admin phase to add up each aircraft's initiative to see what order they will move.  Then all aircraft move; there is no pre-plotted movement, so the later you move the better as you get to see where the enemy went and go where you want to go.  Once all aircraft have moved, all aircraft that are eligible fire.  This is considered simultaneous, so that even aircraft that get destroyed in this phase get to fire before being removed.

The rules are home-made, borrowing mostly from the Lardies' "Bag the Hun."

 Here's how the initiative/admin phase works.  I use a wipeboard as it needs to be done each turn.  On the left you have the callsigned.  Then the following factors are taken into account: the pilot's skill (rookie, regular, veteran, Jr Ace, Top Ace), the type of aircraft (multi-engine, torp bomber, dive bomber, fighter), altitude (1-6), +3 if 'tailing' an enemy (0 if not), +3 if in a formation (0 if not), and -1 for each point of damage (each type of aircraft can take 'x' points of damage; the Zero 4, the Wildcat 5, the Betty 8).  You add all those up, then rack and stack them, with the lowest point total going first and the highest last.  What this means is the bomber with the regular pilot in formation at alt 4 will be force to move before the fighter with the regular pilot in formation at alt 4 (in this case, the fighter is worth 4 points for initiative while the bomber is worth 0).  A multi-engine bomber will find it almost impossible move after a fighter; maybe if the fighter is damaged and at low altitude.  However, between fighters the margin is razor thin.

This probably seems pretty complex/time consuming for the self-proclaimed King of Simple Rules, but it's really not that big a deal and only takes a minute.  The reason I like it is it seems to me the best way to model the characteristics that determine initiative in WWII fighter combat (as I understand them).  If you look, it's all the same concepts as Bag the Hun, just without the randomness (that so many people love, but I find a bit too random).

Turn 2: The Betty's are up first again (of course), and drop all the way to the deck, charging ahead.  JR3 cuts right, drops to alt 2 (the bombers are at 1 and the Wildcats will have be at the same alt to attack them), then darts back in to the center to set up to get on the tail of the Wildcats he knows will soon be coming for the bombers.  JR4 follows the same pattern, but only drops to alt 3 (and might get caught out of position.  Being higher helps with initiative, but will there be time/space to drop two levels to get at the US fighters?).  AR2 cuts left, drops from alt 5 to alt 1, then cuts right back towards the bombers.  It's setting him up for a long shot at G2, but also is exposing his tail to JR3 and 4 (though neither will be able to engage this turn because of the alt difference).  AB3 follows suit, also lining up a long shot, though a bit better than AR2's.

On the far left, AR3 pulls a great maneuver to get behind JR3, lining up for a shot.  JR1 drops down and tries to jockey in behind AR3 but can't get a shot lined up.  JR2 also drops down and crosses the nose of the bombers, but is unable to get lined up for a shot this turn.  AB1 drops to alt 2, looks to get on JR1's tail next turn.  AB2 stays to the right, holding a little higher to keep initiative in order to jump on G1 next turn.

Now the shooting: AR2 took it's long shot with poor deflection angle (only two firing dice) and got no hits.  AB3 also fired on G2, but head-on (not a great shot, but better than AR2's being on the nose quarter) and racked up 3 hits on the bomber (these will effect initiative, slow movement, and negatively impact shooting).  AR3 had a short range shot from the rear quarter and got 3 hits on JR3, seriously damaging it (1 more will do it).
 Overview after Turn 2.

 G1 and G2 on left (the green dice is hits/damage received), with AB3 in the head-on position and JR2 maneuvering but unable to get a shot in this turn.

 Bottom right is AR3 firing up JR3.  JR4, at left, as predicted, couldn't engage as it got caught too high (alt 3 while AR2 is at alt 1).

Turn 3: G2 plowed straight ahead (not getting all that far with its damage), while G1 turns 45 deg left to try to get away from the furball.  The Zero JR3 is all shot up and so is next in the initiative line; it turns left as hard as it can, trying to make for home.  JR2 climbed and moved into position to try to cover JR3's escape.  AR2 slid easily over behind G1, while AB2 found itself overshooting the action and banking to come back around.  JR1 pulled around but could only manage to line up a very poor shot on AR2, while AR3 stuck with JR3, intent on finishing the job.

AB2 made a great move to kick around behind the bombers, but had to settle for a poorly lined up shot in order to not mask his buddy, AR2.  AB1 fell easily onto the tail of JR1, intent on putting him out of business, but JR4 managed to dive and pounce right on AR2's tail.  Lastly, AR1 managed only to line up a shot on G1's flank (bad deflection shot).

The shooting: Both bombers got their tail gunners into action, with G1 getting a hit on AB2 but G2 missing AR2.  Meanwhile, AR2 took it's bad deflection shot on G1 and got only one hit, though AB2 took a similar shot at G1 and got 4 hits.  JR1 looked to smite AR2 from the sky, but a twitchy trigger finger (bad dice rolling) meant only 2 hits.  This was particularly bad for the Japanese as immediately following this AR3 spit a long burst at JR3 that finished him off.  Splash one for the good guys.  AB1 then lined up JR1 and put three hits on him.  But the Japanese struck back when JR4 added 4 more hits to the 2 JR2 already had, splashing him.

 A look after Turn 3.  It seems we're missing a couple airplanes...  (1 each, so far)

Turn 4: The Japanese are down a fighter, another is badly damaged, and the bombers are racking up hits as well, but they had a good initiative roll (when the score is tied and all other factors are equal it's settled by die roll), which should help.

The bombers claw their way forward, both belching smoke.  The crippled JR1 turns right, trying to drag AB1 in front of his buddies guns.  AR2 nurses his damaged aircraft in behind G1, lining up for a pretty solid shot.  AR1 swings his plane around, looking to get back in the fight (but not helped by having to move so early in the round).  JR4 does too, and lines up a real long-range shot on AR2, while AR1 stays hot on JR1's tail to finish the job.  AB3 pulls around and tails G2, looking to put her out of business, while JR2 does the same to AB3.  There's no way AB1 can get there to save AB3, so he lines up a head-on (quarter) pass on JR4.

The shooting: Both bombers again open up on US fighters, but the damage they've taken really gives them almost no chance to hit anything.  So AR2 lights into G1, getting another 4 hits and sending it down into the swells of the Pacific.  JR4 takes its long shot on AR2, but only manages one hit.  Immediately following this the Marines clean their clocks, with AR3 finishing JR1 (with a whopping 5 more hits!) and AB3 getting five hits on the helpless G2, splashing it.  JR2 managed to put 4 hits on AB3, crippling it, but AB1 turned right around and put 3 hits on JR4.

Look at the action after Turn 4.  The Japanese have lost both bombers (the key to the fight) and two fighters, and have another one pretty beat up (JR4 at top right), while the Marines lost only 1 fighter, but AR2 (top right) has three hits and AB3 (bottom right) has 4 hits.

I don't have a Force Morale mechanism yet, but I figured this was a good spot for each side to decide to break off the action without further loss.

I'm pretty happy with the rules.  Still room to make a few tweaks, but it went good, it went quick, and could probably handle another 3 or 4 aircraft per side.