Sunday 31 October 2021

Fredrick the Great ? a disaster at Kolin in 10mm

 After the Battle of Prague where I might argue Fredrick was a little lucky to beat the Austrians. The main Austrian army was stuck in the city. A relief force under Field Marshall Daun of about 50,000 marched towards the city in June. Frederick sent a blocking force under Bevern of only about 30,000 which he later joined. The two armies closed on each other in mid June. The Austrians initially deployed on a series of low hills partially protected by the small River Beczvarks-Bach ?

Fredrick sought to out flank the Austrians as he has done at Prague, was he over confident ? Gradually the Austrians seeing the attempted moved and reinforced the hills to their right (East). The details of the battle are well known, as the Prussians marched down the Kaiser-strasse they failed to get around the flank before embarking on a series of fruitless frontal assaults. The fighting was hard but Daun had the high ground, had numerical superiority and had more artillery in place ! Hard then perhaps to make this into a balanced wargame ?

I have used a number of sources once again Frank Chadwick’s battles of the SYW needs a shout out.

This is a useful map of the battle with our table roughly covering the highlighted area. We were playing this game indoors it obviously being too cold and very wet to be in the shed so we had a smaller playing area, I toyed with the idea of reducing the Regiments down to one base to give a bit more space but in the end we stuck with the 2 battalion model which looks more pleasing
The map converted onto the table, 8 feet by 5 at the wider section. Kaiser Strasse running down the left. Having looked at a couple of source there is some judgment about the positions of some troops and of course this is my usual massive simplification. I feel we managed the key elements though. The battle starts at the point the Prussian make their foolish early swing south. Effective there is little chance the Prussians can win this so we can them some small help. The Saxon and reserve Cavalry of which there is absolutely masses would only come on after turn two on a roll of a dice (Sod’s law they came on immediately on a six !) and Starhemberg’s Division is only just arriving behind Przerovsky Hill. We were using Honours of War and foolishly agreed that both Prussian and Austrians would require tests to activate. I lost count of the times the Prussians failed which given the uphill struggle they face didn’t help one bit 🙁 

Anyway war is not an equal sided thing in most cases and it was fully accepted that the Prussians would struggle, the battle provided no less fun for this fact. So onto the action
Austrian Hussars sent to hold the right flank around the Oak wood, already occupied by Grenzers and some medium artillery
Starhemberg’s 2nd Division marching on, they rolled a 6 first turn so were easily able to deploy into position
Prussian cavalry under Zieten tasked with taking the lead in turn the Austrian flank
Behind them other elements of the 2nd Cavalry Division and the Prussian infantry stretched out beyond them
Austrian left wing infantry under Puebla close to the village of Poborz
Austrian Cavalry and more Austrian cavalry oh look and more Austrian cavalry !
Andlau’s Division rooted to the top of Przerovsky Hill, this was the position Fredrick initially told his officers not to attack !
Prussians under Bevern near Brezan
So the action starts, the Austrians look weak on their right so Zieten as he did historically charges forward, but comes under attack form the Oak wood 
Massed Austrian infantry fire immediate shakes the advancing Prussians
The Prussian cavalry which had been travelling along the kaiser strasse turn off the road, there is obviously going to be. Big cavalry battle around the village of Brezan
Zieten is having some success and pushes back the Austrian cavalry
and he has support advancing behind him
Possibly futile but we have to try and clear the hill, Prussian infantry March up hill towards a solid mass of Austrian infantry who are supported by artillery ! It doesn’t go well
The Prussians fail some activations early on which as I mentioned above doesn’t help
Oh look more Austrian cavalry, Daun is commanding their advance and they are immediately sent to sure up the right flank, they get another six for activation and gallop right across the rear of the Austrian line
Austrian cavalry advance north towards Brezan
The same advance from a different view,
Puebla who initially advanced is pulling back in the face of massed Prussian cavalry
To the East Treskow’s Grenadiers have cleared Grenzers out of Krzeczhorz and have pushed up to try and take the Oak wood
The infantry are clearing the ground to allow the cavalry to get stuck in around Brezan
Much of the Prussian infantry has been forced back, it’s not looking good but we haven’t quite given up yet
The grenadiers have cleared the wood but then fail to activate to push forward
Behind the oak wood Austrian cavalry is looking menacing 
They are also generally heavier than the Hussars which Zieten is commanding 😬
Around Brezan the cavalry start to clash in a swirling melee
Prussian infantry open up with volleys where they can
Prussian Dragoons again try to take the Oak wood but make little progress
As both sides throw more cavalry into the maelstrom around Brezan it is still in the balance
Hulsen’s infantry division who were slow to start are now pushing up the hill
For a brief period the artillery is isolated and there is a chance
More cavalry clashing around the Oak Wood, the woods is finally cleared of Austrians but the Prussians have no infantry to take advantage 
The Austrians infantry of Andlau having had little to do are ordered off the hill and advance towards Brezan
The Austrian line is now stabilised although the Prussians have one more throw of the die
The Prussian cavalry on their left has been forced back
The battle around Brezan has also gone the way of the Austrians
There are just too many of them
A final shot from the west down the battlefield, to add insult the Austrian reserve cavalry didn’t even arrive in time for the battle !
Daun survey’s a famous victory
On the Kaiser-Strasse Fredrick jumps into his carriage to escape the field, Prussian infantry and Dragoons can be seen fleeing away from the battlefield.

Despite the obvious challenges for the Prussians which wasn’t helped by the 5 or 6 failed activations, a very enjoyable battle. With a historical set up it perhaps wasn’t surprising that things went the way of the Austrians. I was particularly pleased that the battle around the Oak wood almost followed the historical battle. I don’t think the failed activations made a huge difference but had the failed activations been the other way round that might have made it more challenging for the Austrians. I think at some point we will come back and refight but allow a non historical set up to see if given the position Frederick had a chance ?

Thanks as always for popping by 😀

Thursday 28 October 2021

Early War British Tanks and some work in progress

About a year ago I was looking to balance my British early war armour with the ever expanding German forces. Ever one for a bargain I found a company on eBay selling 3D prints, I know we are all slightly cautious as this new technology develops and we have all seen some pretty ropy prints floating about. 

The company is and in this case the photos looked very good if slightly odd due to the translucent nature of the material used in the print. Initially I was looking to by one just to check but they were offering four early British tanks at a very reasonable price.

When they arrived I was hugely impressed with the detail and quality of the print, here they are straight form the box.
And a bit more of a close up of the MkIV. As computer generated prints they are quite clean, the detail in terms of rivets etc is amazing and include details like the coaxial machine guns in the print. They do appear fairly robust. It then took me ages to get them painted up but two of them appeared in the recent Sealion game (albeit I have improved the markings on them since then)
A simple paint job with big brush over a spray undercoat, some minor prep work around the wheels but taking no more than a minute or so on each tank. Now as a Wargamer rather than modeller these seem pretty ideal. Scale wise they are great perhaps fractionally smaller than for example Warlord but only noticeable if you stand then right next to each other. Cost with postage these were about £14 each, way cheaper than other manufacturers. At the moment I’m finding it hard to find fault ?
I’ve also been painting up a bit more 10 mm scenery 
And have been spending some time prepping, quite therapeutic on occasions to stick and glue stuff, this just shows the broad range of periods I am currently dabbling in 😀

Should be another SYW battle this weekend if it ever stops raining in Cumbria ?

Thanks for looking Matt

Monday 25 October 2021

Norway 1940 : Battle at Midtskogen

Having dipped my toes into the Norway campaign WW2 a couple of months ago I purchased some more Norwegian troops. This Sunday they saw their first action. Now before we start I’m not sure whether this is a long term involvement in the Norway Campaign as that will require additional purchases and I wasn’t really looking for another project honest. However, it seems a nice idea to work through the campaign in some form.

Midtskogen is really only a small skirmish but very famous as the first proper land engagement  during the invasion, I think upto that point the majority of defenders had simply capitulated. (It is also a centre piece of The King’s Choice film) As usual if you want to read the details of the battle check out wiki but in essence The Germans had sent a small force of Paratroopers to attempt to capture the king. On the road north a mixed bag of Norwegians, infantry Regiment No 5, the 1st Royal Norwegian Guards and some local shooting club members/militia set an ambush. With the road blocked the paratroopers jumped from their bus and engaged in the battle. Until their commanding officer Spiller was killed at which point and having taken heavy losses they called it a day and turned back south.

As a small infantry only battle it is a great small battle for a virtual game. 

The scene is set, the Road is blocked south of the bridge, the Germans can cross at the stone bridge or at the railway bridge just to the east. As an ambush it is always hard to get that element of surprise. To achieve this the Norwegians who had 9 units including their commanding officer would randomly arrive in 2 waves at 12 random locations spread around the edge of the table. The Norwegians are a mixed bag of regulars and lower quality troops. The rifle club are irregulars but with improved shooting skills (of course) the Germans are all veterans and armed to the teeth as befits paratroopers. They also have a single mortar for variety.
The Germans move out first turn
Across both bridges, they immediately come under fire from the left and the leading unit is pinned
Norwegian Royal Guards arrive along the railway
One of the two Norwegian Madsen Machine guns luckily arrives on the road with a good view down the road
Some irregular units slightly further forward
In the initial phases the Leading german units are battered with pins but with their superior quality means they lose few men
More Norwegian Guardsmen in the woods to the right
Clear line of sight down the road
The second Madsen has a good vantage point from Midtskogen Farm but as light machine guns they are not proving effective
The Germans rush into combat and wipe out the guardsmen
German MG34 machine guns stay behind the river and give covering fire.
At this point the Germans were definitely on the back foot, the two units which attacked across the road bridge have been seriously reduced and pinned down
Better progress on the right though as they work down the flank 
Supported by Hauptmann Spiller the remnants of the two units on the road rally and push on
Slow progress along the railway
Keeping the Norwegians heads down
Suddenly the tide starts to turn and one of the final Norwegian units is struggling to hold its position
And suddenly they are caught on the flank
The Rifle club and the final Norwegian troops make a valiant attempt to push forward to the road but too late
The paratroopers are now in the woods
By some twist of fate Hauptmann Spiller gets caught in the open and is gunned down (history repeating itself at least in this respect)
The final small units of Norwegians are mopped up but the Germans have run out of time to make it a complete victory
Their objective had been to clear the woods and the farm and the solitary Machine gun unit is still in the farm when the battle ends
Final shot , an extra turn would have completed the victory for the Germans, but there is no way the Norwegians can claim victory even if we were still technically holding mthe farm. The Germans have lost a lot of troops clearing the field. So we agreed on a minor German victory , the King perhaps getting away in the nick of time. But the Germans can continue to pursue further north !

Splendid game and great to get the new Norwegians on the table. The scenario felt balance when I wrote it ht the Norwegians would struggle, they hammered the Germans early on and I thought it unbalanced but then the better quality of the Germans came through to give a close game. Photos were a challenge with the snow so I have had to filter the a little which seems to have worked. The nice thing is it felt appropriate and in some sense true to the historical events. I now need to work out our next battle ? Which might require some more Norwegians ! And possibly a couple of extra terrains pieces. If anybody can find photos of Norwegian Road signs in 1940 let me know 

KBO Matt