Showing posts from December, 2018

Strategy and Tactics Magazine Variant for Avalon Hill's Battle of the Bulge Game

Screenshot from Strategy & Tactics' first magazine. The table below is from a variant of Avalon Hill's Battle of the Bulge game.  Even at the dawn of the hobby, folks were modding and striving for greater realism.

Of interest to this current series of posts are the factors given to the units:

Each unit is the division (e.g. 106th Infantry Division).The unit is divided by regiments (i.e. the playing pieces). Each playing piece is assigned a combat and movement factor (e.g. 293 VG Regiment 3-3). The 18th VG Division's three regiments are rated  3-3 (3 combat / 3 movement factors). The 62nd VG Division's three regiments are rated  3-3. The Führerbegleitbrigade or Fuh. Es. Brigade rated 12-5.
The 106th Infantry Division three regiments are rated  5-4. The 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment rated 6-6.

My guess is that the ill fated 442 and 443 Infantry Regiments have higher combat factors than the VG regiments that decimated them is due to difference in artillery support avai…

Battle of the Bulge: OOBs for the Battle of the Bulge

Below are copies from two of George Nafziger's OOBs which I will reference in the upcoming update of the Bulge scenario series over at the Castalia House blog.

The German OOB can be found under file  # 944GLAA and the American under 944ULAA:

German LXVI Corps

Notes from the original:
2 - The 18th VG Division was formed during 9/44 in Denmark from the cadre of a Luftwaffe field division and drafts from the Luftwaffe and Navy. At full strength and two months experience on the defensive in the Eifel.
3 - Numbers date from 12/1/44 and are "ist starke" (total), "Gefecht stärke" (action), and "Kampfstärke" (battle strength).
4 - 62nd VG Division rebuilt after being destroyed in Russia. Heavily composed of Polish and Czech conscripts who spoke no German.

And a couple of additional notes at the end of the document:

Jung provides a statement at the bottom of his return for 12/1/44 that indicates the "Ist staäke" (total strength) of a Type 44 infantry…

Finding Aid for Nafziger's OOBs

Today I'm researching OOBs for this Wednesday's Battle of the Bulge post and found a useful tool for those referencing George Nafziger's extensive collection of OOB files.

More information and an interview I conducted with Nafziger can be found over at the Castalia House blog. In that post you can find an alternate hosting site for the OOB files which is usually easier to access than the Army hosted server. At the alternate hosting site link you can also find Nafziger's explanation on why he made his OOBs publicly available.

Link here to the Army's Combined Arms Research page with follow on links to the OOBs and the Finding Aid.

By the way, George Nafziger is still translating, producing and selling military history books here.

Project 1944

While looking for information on Volksgrenadiers I came across Project 1944

They can be categorized as reenactors but what strikes me is that they have taken the diorama aspect of military modeling and brought it into real life ("living history"). 

Take a look at this series on German horse drawn artillery and the minute attention to historical detail. On the first page there is a discussion on keeping the horses warm during winter: "When standing outside, the "Woilach" (this is the German Army saddle blanket) was used to cover the horses back and fixed with the "Deckengurt" (blanket strap)." 

The post then goes on to highlight"freiwillig-gezogener-Hilfswilliger (HiWi)" troops. We are told that since many of them came from rural backgrounds they were often assigned to horse drawn units.

Other projects include refugees fleeing the German advance in 1940, deploying a Vickers machine gun in WW1, and even one on Russian partisans.

Too much …

Battle of the Bulge: 18th and 62nd VG Divisions Day 1

Intro This post is the second in a series covering the advance on St. Vith during the Battle of the Bulge.  This post will discuss the starting positions of the opposing forces and the terrain.

Start Map and Terrain I have created the map below using satellite imagery. No doubt, there are differences from the 1944 battlefield but the hilly and wooded terrain remains relevant if you choose to drive, hike, or decide to invade Belgium with an mechanized force.

The blue line is the Google Maps direction feature for a vehicle between the key villages of Krewinkel, Weckerath,Manderfeld, Schönberg (and its vital bridge), then St. Vith. This is not necessarily the main axis of my intended advance but serves to give the reader an idea of the distance to be covered to the main victory point hexes at St. Vith.

The 18th Volksgrenadier (VG) Division is in the northeast corner of the map and scenario starting positions are show for its three regiments. The 62nd VG Division is concentrated just wes…

Liechtenstein: Part III

Link to Part I, Part II and the first Castalia House WW post here.

Uniforms of the 1866 Campaign The following are from a 1991 series of stamps: The Last Action of the Royal Military Contingents of Liechtenstein 1866. 

Route of March from Liechtenstein to Italy In this German language article, historian Peter Geiger describes the campaign and details the route of march:
"It took six weeks to complete the mission. But the walk over the Arlbergpass, the Reschenpass, the Stelvio over the Wormserjoch to Santa Maria was exhausting. The cold, wet and snow hindered the soldiers."
The article continues: "In Bormio, the Liechtensteiners faced the enemy: "Despite the troops in sight, it was unexpectedly not to fight," said Geiger. Without losses, the soldiers returned. But there were still one or two injured: a horse had missed a hoof stroke. "
The troops initially head east, into Austria and do not take the shorter route south then south east through Switzerland. G…

Massive Battle of the Bulge Scenario

As discussed in the CH Wargame Wednesday post play testing for the scenario was hampered by the lack of German mobility.  Something needed to be done as during game play the American side would always fall back in good order after inflicting heavy German casualties.  Eventually, the front line American regiments would succumb but they held their ground until American reinforcements arrived with the front stabilizing well to the east of Bastogne. 

The game engine and scenario conditions would not allow the German player a chance to repeat the historical outcome of two surrounded American regiments. I was able to find a U.S. Army Atmospheric Sciences Laboratory report titled Weather Effects During the Battle of the Bulge and Normandy Invasion by Marvin D. Kays.

Table 1 is copied below and allowed the scenario designer to adjust the weather conditions.  First day (6 turns) is foggy with limited visibility while the weather clears a little the 2nd day.

The amount of work needed to create …

Wargame Wednesday: Liechtenstein Part II

This post to supplement my CH post.

French advance into Liechtenstein on 6 March, 1799.

The main areas of battle in Liechtenstein in 1799.  Top arrow is the path to Feldkirch and bottom arrow is the direction the French took after crossing the Rhine to take a vital mountain pass.

The map is an excerpt taken from the 2nd Military Survey of the Austrian Hungarian Empire, 1816 - 1821.  Per General Thomas Graham in his A Contemporary Account of the 1799 Campaign in Germany and Switzerland, "Masséna caused a bridge to be thrown over the river at Azmooz, opposite the narrow pass of Luciensteig, and marched to that point with 5,000 or 6,000 men".

If I had to guess the bridge was probably built to the left of the arrow and place name of Trubbach.

Graham continues: "The Austrians, though not surprised, yet not having sufficient time to make every preparation for their defense, stood firm. They checked the enemy by a well continued cannonade at Balzers (located east of the top ar…

Wargame Wednesday: Liechtenstein

The pictures from a recent trip to Liechtenstein are related to my CH post here.

Update: When researching the War of the Second Coalition for a Wargame Wednesday post (will link to in on 12 DEC) I found that this narrow pass was strategically important one of the main north / south roads passed through it. The French under Masséna crossed the Rhine at Azmooz and then rushed to take this pass.

After the French defeat at the 2nd Battle of Feldkirch the Austrians soon retook this position.  I have come across references to a fort in this location and the two gates mentioned below may be part of the old fort.

Imagine the continuous ringing of cow bells while viewing this picture. Imagine loud cow bells as a lot more are grazing off camera.

The gate and facilities are about 1.5 km inside of Switzerland but the military aspect of this picture is too good to pass up.

Notice the old gate house purposefully left guarding the road, narrowing two lanes to one.  Further on, there is another small…