Saturday, August 29, 2015

Heroes of the Revolution Don't Surf - Reinforcements

Some reinforcements have arrived for the valiant defenders of the Motherland.

Battery of ZiS-3 Field Guns 

Field guns ready to repel the enemy
 I did a full battery of 4 guns from Battlefront. These were designed as divisional artillery but also deliberately designed to be fully usable as AT guns and used in massive numbers all through the war and beyond.
Most Soviet divisional artillery were equipped with the ZiS-3, as were many dedicated anti-tank units.

Battery of 82 BM-37 82mm Mortars

The battalion's mortar battery deployed for action. The forward observer is relaying the fire order....

I also painted a battery of 4 82mm mortars from Plastic Soldier and added a forward observer from Battlefront. These mortars were also used during the entire war, and beyond. Mortars that are almost identical are still in service all over the world.


 I painted the 3 T34s from Battlefront's box of plastic early T34s. They come with several turrets, guns and various options, not just the early obr40 and obr 41 models mentioned on the box, but mid- and late war versions too..
I chose to do 3 different turrets for each tank. One corresponds to the T34/76 obr 40 model, one represents the T34/76 obr 42, and one the T34/85 obr 43. Quite good value with, in effect, 3 different tanks at the same time.
This allows me to represent almost any T34-equipped platoon from Barbarossa all the way to '45.

T-34/76 obr 40.
T-34/76 obr 42.
T-34/85 obr 43

Next on the production line: Some more Maxim HMGs, PTRD Antitank Rifles and a few GAZ trucks

Friday, August 21, 2015

Winter Stalemate in Karelia

Earlier this week we had another game of Big Chain of Command set in Karelia during first winter of the Continuation War.
Myself and Jeppan were joined by fellow club member Nils who wanted to try the CoC rules. As ever, Jeppan was running the Finns while I commanded the Soviets. Nils joined the Finns and took command of their tank platoon.


The terrain was mixed woodlands with a sprawling village in the centre of the table. Roads were running from all four sides of the table with a crossroads in the centre village.  There were a few low hills and plenty of snow drifts and some plowed fields close to the village.

Mission & Deployment

We decided to keep it simple and do an encounter scenario with the added twist that the tank platoons on both sides could choose to enter from the roads on the short table edges.

Other than that we simply entered our Patrol Markers from our respective long table edges. There were no actual terrain objectives this time and both sides had the same objective; to force the enemy to withdraw. This would give the victor control of the village and the crossroads. This seemed a reasonable mission in a sparsely populated area with limited infrastructure and terrain that limits movement of mechanised forces (lots of forests and swamps). Not to mention it's in the middle of one of our north Scandinavian winters. You really, really want some proper shelter in one of those......


Both sides had one infantry platoon and one tank platoon. We both used platoons of 5 x T-26s as this was the most common tank at this date and we did not want the game to become too centered on the tanks.
We did not roll very high for Force Support, so neither side could add that much extra stuff.The Finn tank platoon added a light armoured car (plus something else that I can't remember), while the Soviets added a Recce squad attached to the tank platoon and some AT hand grenades for the infantry platoon.

Early Game

The Soviets gained initiative and started deploying a couple of squads from the infantry platoon close to the centre village.
Soviet infantry move up to defend the village from counter-revolutionary Finns.

Meanwhile the Soviet tanks started to trundle onto the table from the Soviet right flank.
Soviet T-26s roll into action from the flank
The Finns deployed their infantry platoon opposite the Soviet infantry, and started to bring on their tanks from the centre of their long table edge. This would allow them to both support their infantry in the centre and to counter the  threat from the Soviet tanks approaching from the flank. Unortunately for the Finns, their tank platoon's command dice were not very good and their T-26s only entered very slowly and one at a time. The Soviets could use all their tanks (and their supporting infantry squad) en masse thanks to some good command dice. The Soviet tankers were also lucky to get a double-move at the right time.
Finn infantry squad and the tank platoon command vehicle advance down the centre

 It was a different story in the village, though. The Finn infantry is very good and also very flexible. The Soviets have reasonable quality too, but their platoon is not at all as flexible.
Finn infantry on the Soviet left flank on their way to try and outflank the Soviet infantry in the village

Mid Game

Around the village, the opposing infantry platoons engaged in a major firefight that saw both sides take serious losses. One of the Finn squads routed and another was severely weakened and pinned repeatedly. But at the same time, the Soviet platoon suffered just as badly and was less able to recover.
The Soviet and Finn infantry platoons engage each other in intense fire fight in and around the village

The tank fight on the Soviet right flank was very intense. The outnumbered Finn tankers managed to knock out one of the Soviet tanks, but lost one of their own (crew forced to bail out) and another lost its main armament. The Finns coninued to be unlucky in their attempts to bring all their tanks onto the table (maybe the engines had frozen solid in the winter night?), enabling the Soviets to concentrate fire on individual Finn tanks as they appeared.
The tank battle on the right flank in full swing.

Still, in CoC even light tanks can be quite resilient unless fired on by something truly awesome, like an '88'. So it took some time for the Soviets to actually destroy enough Finn tanks to make a real impact. Most often a tank has to be hit several times before it is actually destroyed. One by one, most Finn tanks were knocked out.

End Game

Eventually, the Soviet advantage in the tank fight proved overwhelming as the Finn platoon commander's tank finally fell to a storm of Soviet 45mm fire from both front and flank.
Soviet tankers surround the Finn tank commander
After that, the Finn tank platoon found it very difficult to fight as the platoon commander was no longer available and the platoon's morale had suffered badly.
The Finn tank platoon commander finally goes down after knocking out a Soviet opponent and damaging others
Finally, the armoured car was also hit and knocked out and the Finn tank platoon was forced to withdraw.
But at the same time, the Finn infantry had managed to grind down their Soviet counterparts (supported by the Finn tank that had lost its main gun, but could still fire the MG). The Finns had taken some serious losses too, but the Soviet platoon was very close to its breaking point, while the Finn infantry was still holding on.
At this point we decided to call it a draw. Both sides were very seriously weakened and we thought neither would be able to both defeat the remaining enemy and hold the village with the forces still available. It seemed reasonable for both sides to fall back to their start lines and try again another time.
So, another enjoyable game with some very tense moments.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

'Heroes of the Revolution Don't Surf' - Summer Soviets for the Karelian Campaign

No summer holiday for the heroic defenders of the revolution this year. Instead, they will all be putting their summer uniforms on and head to picturesque Karelia to take on the Finn counter-revolutionaries.

As Jeppan has already indicated on this blogg, we are painting up some Finns and Soviets to extend our Karelia Campaign for Chain of Command to summer. So we can now play Continuation War scenarios set in any season.
A couple of other club members are also doing summer Germans for the Eastern Front, so my new new summer Soviets won't be lacking opponents in other parts of the Motherland.

So far I've completed my Rifle Platoon, with a few options so it covers the entire period from Barbarossa to the end of the war. I've also finished a couple of Maxim MGs and a few T-26 tanks.

Infantry Squad with supporting 50mm Mortar and Maxim MG

Infantry squad and MG forming up behind the tanks....
The T-26 was used for quite some time on the Karelian and far North fronts, where one might run into these as late as '43.

Infantry squad and T-26s looking for some Fascists to fight.....
More tanks and support weapons will follow, and I will also add some engineers, a Recce squad or two (the extremely tough Razvedchiki) and a platoon of SMG-toting tank riding infantry.

You will be seeing more of these fellows as they make their way onto the wargames table.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Chain of Command - WWII Finns, Summer Campaign

A Finnish section from the Continuation War(1941-1944)

This sommer I have off an on been working on some more troops for our upcoming Chain of Command games. As some of you alredy Notes we are using 15mm mintures instead of the typical 28mm. We also use multi bases.  Thus far it has worked out quite well.

We will continue the ongoing winter campaign, but we are also preparing for a Summer campaign as well. Ulf( Tabletop gamer) is working on Summer Russians and I will paint up the Finns. Well some of them were already painted when I started, but I hade to rebase them. Some hade to be painted from scratch. Able you can see a section of a Finnish platoon from the Continuation war. A typical section would consist of 8 men and an NCO. The main difference from the Winter War(39-40) was that each section(there are 4 of them in each platoon) recieves a light machine gun. It was usually a Russian 
Degtvarvo(DP for short) machine gun, with it's typical drum magazine on top. However most 
minatures manufacturers prefer to depict a machine gunner with a Lathi Saloranta instead. That was the main weapon of the Winter war, but was gradually replaced during the Contunation War. The main reason was that the DP was a better machine gun, and that the Finns had loads of them taken as war booty during the Winter War.

Here we have the entire platoon - 4 sections and two senior leaders

The senior leaders are based with two miniatures on each base in order distinguish them from the Junior leaders.

Support weapons - Maxim medium machine Guns and Lathi L-39 anti-tank rifles. The later were probably not that useful during the later part of the war, but could knock out standard tanks of the early part of the war. They were also used as long range sniping rifles and  for bunker busting.

If a player really would like to get their Finn minis to knock out pesky Russian Tanks then I suggest a couple of 75mm Pak 40.  In the real war the Finns started to use these from 1942 and onwards.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Back to Karelia part 2 - Captain Castroulius striktes back

We have managed to run few more games using the Chain of Command rules as well as our campaign amendments. Things are working out quite well. The campaign is afoot.....

If one look at game board the latest scenario looks quite a bit like the last one. There is a main road as well as a bridge that divides the battlefield. There is also a ford that counts as good going. We used the dice to decide the number if fords and their relative position along the river. The dice said that there was only one. 

In this game the bridge was not a objective. It is however an obstacle on the battlefield and will force the two combatants to decide how to divide their forces in the comming battle.

The Battlefield

We decided to cut down on the heavy tanks. We are running big battle Chain of Command, but we do wish to have a game of combined arms, not a Tank duel. Thus only T-26 and BT-5 were used. Finally we decided that the Russian who had the avantgarde of the river Ford would have one disadvantage. The Russians tanks would enter the field from one of the edges of the main road. Konf of player knew which side. The exact entry point would be random(using a dice to decide). The Finns on the other hand would be able to enter their T-26 from any position on the Finnish edge of the battlefield. This is a deviation from the basic CoC rulebook.  There are two reason behind this scenario feature:

A) to simulate a lack of tank and infantry coordination on the Russian side
B) to simulate the diffrence in technical reliabilty between the T-26 and the BT-5

The Choakehold - the Russians must face the Finnish Ambush before being able tu support Russian units on the other side of the River

We may or may not have exagerated the diffrences in combat effectivness between the BT-5 and the T-26, but at least the Finnish side considered the BT-5 to be mechanically a less reliable tank. 

Finns hiding behind a barn...waiting for the right opportunists to jump forth

In this game the Finnish side brought the main body of their force to the right side of the river, while the Russian tanks entered on the road from the left side. There where however some Finish infantry with anti-tank Guns in the woods near the Russian entry point. There were also a sizeable Russian infantry presence on the left side of the river. So the at the beginning of the game both side faced tanks with their infantry and vice versa. That meant that both sides needed to break through the infantry obstacle before they could face the other sides tanks.

Russians waiting for their Tank support

The Finns eventually managed to send some T-26 to support their infantry on the left side of the board. That created a choakehold. The Russian tanks were stuck on the left side and their infantry and jump-off points on the right side of the battlefield were outnumbered. Gradually this tilted the scale in order to favor the Finnish side.

A Finnish tank is brewing up....this scenario took it's toll among the AFV

 This was the first victory for the Finnish commander - a character named Captain Pentii Castroulius. He gained a new ability after this battle. He will be given a free medic to his units. From the start he was given the ability " The General's Nephew" and thus given +1 when it came to force support. The Russian side also gained a fe more abilities, but I will have to return to you about that in comming battle report.

The Russians stuck in the choakehold.....this spellt  the doom of the Russian infantry