Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Battle of the Bulge: 18th VG Division

A continuation on research into the Volks-grenadiers during the Ardennes Offensive.

I found reference to "Manuscripts of German Commanders" which were prepared for the Historical Division, U.S. Army Europe. The data gathered was taken from interviews held immediately after the war or from interrogations of prisoners.

In all, there were around 2,500 studies (not all translated into English) written between 1945 and 1959.  The studies were organized into nine series and I was able to locate two "B-Series" manuscripts (narrative histories of units on the Western Front) of the two VG Divisions in the St. Vith area of operations:

18th Volks Grenadier Division (1 SEP 1944 - 25 JAN 1945) by Oberstleutnant Dietrich Moll (MS# B-688)

and

462nd Volks Grenadier Division (12 NOV - 13 DEC 1944) questions presented to Generalleutnant Heinrich Kittel (MS# B-079).

The 462nd VG manuscript concerns the Germans defense of Metz but I will look into it for any insight on the VG formations.

MS#B-028 which is General Frierich Kittel's 62nd Volks Grenadier Division, 16 DEC 1944 to 27 JAN 1945 is on order and I'll post on the 62nd VG after receipt.

Credit for access to the 18th VG manuscript goes to the Sturmpanzer web site which is filled with excellent resources and I only wish I could find the equivalent for the Red Army.


Notes for the 18th VG Division

Oberstleutnant Dietrich Moll (rank equivalent to Lt. Colonel) was the 18th VG's Operations Officer. General Brandenberger (commander of the German Seventh Army) reviewed the report and an appendix is dedicated to his perspective on the narrative and issues raised by Dietrich Moll.

Activated 19 December 1944 near Kolding, Denmark the division was allocated a cadre of 2,500 from the 18th Luftwaffe Field Division and 3,000 men from other Luftwaffe and Navy sources. The manuscript describes how another 5,000 mean were drafted from the "indispensables" or men that had occupied positions vital to the war industry.  At least for the 18th VG, their cadre did not include many recent draftees so the age of the average Volks-grenadier was older than other field units. Despite the older age many of the officers and men had not seen much action (the exception being the veterans from the 18th Luftwaffe Field Division) and few men "had campaign ribbons or decorations". Most tellingly, the manuscript states that he original Luftwaffe officers and NCOs "seem to lack concern for their men" and "nearly all of the originally assigned Luftwaffe officers proved unreliable and had to be replaced".

It seems that the better weapons available to the 18th, to include infantry assault rifles, did not fully compensate for a reduced numerical strength (e.g. regiments reduced to two, vice three infantry battalions).

The division's anti-tank capability was lacking, due to a paucity of AT guns and panzerfausts issued.

Tactics


  • ..."higher headquarters should be reminded that the mobility of a unit is wholly determined by the rate of march of its infantry". Some units were provided with bicycles, but lack of spare parts and sever weather and terrain denied any appreciable increase in the unit's mobility rate.
  • "Unceasing combat reconnaissance" to make up for the German inferiority in the air.  This paid dividends at the start of the offensive as the 18th had located gaps in the lines of the 106th Infantry Division.
  • Artillery would constantly charge firing positions and fired single rounds from roving guns to prevent enemy counter-battery fire.
  • The Model 44 automatic rifle "proved an excellent weapons" and the telescopic sight rifle was also classified as good but "not used enough owing to the lack of trained marksmen".
  • The panzerfaust "proved an ideal weapon" for patrols and in close combat but the "bazooka" was not used in defense as it was "susceptible to damage from rust and sand".  My sense (later confirmed) is that the manuscript uses bazooka and panzerfaust interchangeably and does not refer to using captured American bazookas in defense. I have to wonder why rust and sand didn't impact offensive use but defensive use only.  My guess it that defensive use refers to strategic defense and not tactical defense situations, that is, the panzerfaust was good for combat operations but only for a limited amount of time and if kept in the field long, would become unreliable.
  • Medium and heavy mortars were good for defense, but were used sparingly due to lack of ammunition.

The Offensive

  • Based on the lack of response from the American artillery (no barrage fire and only scattered fire starting after 08300, the 18th had caught the defenders by surprise.
  • The first break through of American lines was reported by noon. Initial fight was conducted mostly by infantry and assault guns as the German's own anti-tank defenses prevented vehicles from crossing the bring and heavy support weapons had to be carried by hand.
  • By nightfall the number of casualties "was reasonable" and the number of American prisoners was low.
The initial American defense and eventual surrender of the 422nd and 423rd Regiments can be summed up by this passage:

"The behavior of the enemy on the second day of the attack was wholly incomprehensible. In the main, he did nothing. However, localized resistance was stubborn and eliminated only with difficulty. That is to say, the Americans fought bravely wherever fighting actually occurred. But their tactics were unsystematic."

Supply

  • Lack of trucks.
  • Ammunition supply "generally fair", with expenditure controlled by higher headquarters (such control judges as "hardly compatible with a conduct of battle..").
  • Serious shortages of mines, signal and tracer ammunition, and radio equipment.
  • Food, with few exceptions, was plentiful.
  • Supply of rough fodder for horses, "was wholly inadequate".
  • During the battle "no reissue of weapons or equipment".

Outcome

The smashing of the 106th Infantry Division by the 18th VG* was a terrible defeat but the American defense of St. Vith and the denial of the vital road junction for over 5 days contributed to the ultimate failure of the Ardennes Offensive. 

This passage from the manuscript provides some insight:

"The division's objectives were too distant. With an attack zone 19 kilometers wide and with only six available battalions, the destruction of an enemy at least equally strong was a task requiring the utmost skill. 

Perhaps, St.Vith would have been captured sooner if a motorized division, ably led and able to cling to the heels of the retreating enemy, had been moved forward through the gap which the division first opened. Whether the Fuehrer Escort Brigade had the march discipline, the drive, and the flexible system of command needed to execute this mission is a moot question".

Looks like I'll need to look into the Fuehrer Escort Brigade in a future post...

* The 424th Regiment stayed in the fight and acquitted itself well..

By 6 January, the 18th VG was depleted.  On 29 January Moll states there were only 138 men assigned as infantry holding a 9 kilometers wide sector.

The Americans


The manuscript not only gives insight into a VG regiment but also their American foes. American prisoner's physical stamina is compared favorably "with the Germans as they were prior to 1941".

American reliance on artillery, tactical excellence but also predictability is discussed:

  • Prior to the offensive - "The American defense consisted largely in laying down more or less constant artillery fire".
  • A set pattern of targets were taken under fire but any deviation from this patter indicated a change of units.
  • The accuracy of unobserved fire on the 18th's supply installations and road junctions "indicated that the enemy had skilled computors (not computers) and a method of accurate ballistic correction" which was "ofent adjusted by artillery observation planes".
  • Fire began every day at 0800 and ceased at 1700, with only a few rounds fired during the night.
More predictability:

"Artillery reconnaissance planes were active after 0900, disappearing for one hour at noon, and then building up to highest activity in the late afternoon, to disappear finally at 1700.".  To be fair, these were probably the only reliable daylight hours during the winter months.


From the manuscript











Venezuela: Juan Guaido Makes a Move 30 April 2019

Early Monday morning:


Translation:

The armed forces have made the correct decision, with the support of the people of Venezueal, endorsed by the constituion, with the guarantee of being on the right side of history. Deploying their forces to end the usurpation.

And:

People of Venezuela, it is necessary that we go out together to the street, to support the democratic forces and to recover our freedom. Organized and together mobilize the main military units. People of Caracas, all to la Carlota.



https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-48103858

Either Juan Guaido has found significant support in the military or the pressure was too much and he's risking it all on a long shot.  No clue how this will turn out.

If this turns out to be a small coup then the main arena will be around the airport itself.  Looks like the airfield is overlooked by neighbourhoods on hillsides to the south with a commerical area to the east.

By calling on supporters to rally at Carlota seems like Guaido is trying for a "people power" revolt with the help of the military elements instead of a full military coup / confrontation.

A lot of the video and photos are taken from the Altamira bridge which is located on the NW end of the airfield.


National guardsmen confronting and arresting others. Comments state that pro-Guaido guardsmen are the ones making the arrest.


Update: 1030 Caracas time - I'm wondering if Guaido's plan is to focus Maduro's attention and resources on the air base, wait and then have pre-planned military defections from around the country?  If not, not sure how long he can support crowds in an exposed area.

1314 Caracas time - My thought was that the "coup" was contained at the air field so this video is interesting with protesters and some troops headed west towards the palace. 

If the below is true then explains a lot:

1600 Caracas time - not looking for for Guaido.



Also, I think Guaido's cards at start were not as good as it initially seemed. I thought he had support within the airbase and his revolt started with a secure base but apparently he announced his "Final Operation" from outside the base and relied on crowds to break in.  Not sure if his forces ever had complete control of that base and probably did not have much support within. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Battle of the Bulge: 424th Infantry Regiment



St. Vith Lion in the Way

This book contains the best maps on the fighting around St. Vith I have seen so far and also gives a good account of the 424th Infantry Regiment's battle, to include the counter attack, late war missions and post war duties.

If you search on Amazon for an e-book copy there is a version on sale for .99c but it does not contain photos or, more importantly, the maps. I purchased this version which contains the maps.

The overall index for this series continues to grow and is located here.

Retreat and Counterattack

The maps below highlight the 424th's area of operations around St. Vith.  After the surrender of the 422nd and 423rd regiments, the 424th was effectively the 106th Division until they were sent to the rear for replacements and reorganization.


The above screen shot's taken fom the Campaign Series West Front scenario V Panzer Army The Campaign at start in the northern sector. Ignore the German units highlighted in red on the east side of the map as prior posts have discussed the scenario's starting positions are different than the historical ones (e.g. the initial German assault was not just to the west of Prum but fell right on Bleialf, in the perfect place to split the 424th and 423rd). 

- The approximate positions of the 424th taken from Lion in the Way
- Rectangles are companies.
- Small ovals are platoons.  The book's map has a platoon at Eigelscheid and a divisional
- Reconnaissance Unit at Grosslangenfeld. 
- This post discusses the German attack on Bleialf. The Germans smashed through the almost open space between the two American regiments. Troops from the 423rd were deployed further east and if you look at the grey arrow their right flank / southernmost troops were positioned in a straight line from the heights overlooking Bleialf to Buchet and even further east. The morning assault began the process of cutting off the northern American regiments but did allow the 424th to pull back towards St. Vith. 




Defense on the Our River at Auel on the night of 17 - 18 December. 

The 424th is positioned on the Our River but is having trouble linking up with the CCB, 9th Armored, who were defending the roads to St. Vith (just north of the icon) and were beginning to feel pressure from the Germans to the southwest. 

By 21st December the 424th reported it was at 50% efficiency after fighting for 5 days. 

21 to 22 December the 424th withdrew to hold the line at Beho. 

Here is a  first hand account of the 424th's actions from 23 to 30 December as the 424th was ordered to withdraw to the north west with the enemy on their heels. 

During the general counter attack, the 424th was assigned the Losheim Gap, just north of the starting positions of the 424th ill fated sister regiments.

After the Bulge and War's End

After participating in the counterattack at the Losheim Gap, the last combat assignment for the 424th was supporting the assault on the Roer dams (what the Americans were preparing for before the German Ardennes Offensive).  Eighty-one days after the start of the Battle of the Bulge, the 424th completed their final combat mission seven miles to the north-east of the ill fated 422nd Regiment's starting positions 

The 106th Infantry Division was removed from the front lines on 14 March and sent to St. Quentin, then onward to Rennes, arriving around 7 April. The mission at Rennes was to reorganize, training and serve as a tactical reserve for the 66th Division, which was still fighting the German pockets at Lorient and St. Nazaire.  

It was at Rennes that both the 422nd and 423rd Regiments were officially returned to service and Col. Tom Riggs of the 81st Engineers returned to his unit. Lion in the Way has extensive coverage of the stalwart defense of the approaches to St. Vith by Riggs and the 81st  but only mentions in passing his adventures after being captured. The book mentions that he escaped and went on to "fight with Russians".  This obituary for Riggs adds more detail but I'm not sure he saw much, if any combat with the Red Army. Maybe initally, after being taken in by the Russian tank commander. Combat with Russians or not, his adventures and persistence were admirable. 

By searching for Col. Riggs I came across this web page dedicated to touring the St. Vith battlefield, which includes the Prumerberg heights, where Col. Riggs and the 81st Engineers made their stand. 

The 106th was ordered back east and was on the Rhine on 25 April. Here they received their final assignment, guarding all the prisoners taken by the 1st, 3rd, 7th and 9th armies.  The responsibility was to process and guard close to a million German prisoners up and down the West Front.  It quickly became apparent that this task was beyond the experience and numbers of personnel to properly tackle this mission and three Provisional Guard battalions were sent to augment the 106th.  

By the end of June the 106th was relieved of its guard role and were assigned regular occupation duties. Eventually, the 106th's turn came and they embarked for home in September. 


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Art of Sculpting Miniatures


While researching a Castalia House post on gnome themed games and fantasy miniatures I came across Old School Miniatures and found someone whose fascination with one of the least known and played fantasy races exceeds mine.


This post is not a review of Old School's gnomes (though I have an order en route) but a Q&A session with Byron Harmon, a miniature sculpture for Old School Miniatures and someone, though relatively new to miniature design and sculpting, produces great work (at least good enough for someone like me with a solid collection of fantasy figures, already including gnomes, to go ahead and order his Alpine Gnomes).

The Q&A below is lengthy but filled with good information and has a couple of links new artists will find useful. The topics not only include sculpting but also the art behind figure design. My tastes in fantasy figures are old school and agree with Byron's comment on "spectacle creep".

At very end Byron has provided a link to a survey soliciting input on Kickstarters stretch goals. If you like their line of figures, they also have other surveys on their blog.

Update: Figures arrived last week, quicker than expected. They look good and once they get painted I'll post about them. Most of the gnome figures are sold "slotta tabbed" meaning that instead of a small base (as seen in the photo on top), the figure has a small tab on the bottom, designed to fit into slots on standard square bases. The foxes come with small bases as well as a few of the individual gnome figures but best to check on the Old School site first before ordering.


                                                                          Q&A

Scott Cole: When did you start sculpting miniatures and what prompted you to give it a go?

Byron Harmon: There are two answers to this. I had generally used green stuff as part of my wargaming hobby for years, but never really got into it. I did a few beards and fur here and there. And, one time I converted some space marines to space frogs sculpting some simple frog heads, but nothing especially complicated. Then in the spring of 2016, by girlfriend broke up with me and I found myself with a lot of free time. So I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great to sculpt my own miniatures? And I just jumped into it. Like that. My first miniature was an attempt at an old Ruglud’s armoured orc, then I tried my hand at a druid. From there, I leapt into sculpting the unit of gnome halberdiers.

The best advice I could give for sculpting is that you shouldn’t think of it as sculpting the entire mini in one go. One doesn’t master mini sculpting. Instead think incrementally as a continuous process of learning, and mastering each texture. The easiest things to sculpt are fur, beards, and rudimentary chainmail.

For beginners, a good first step is doing basic conversion work applying simple textures. Often these textures are simply permutative, that is it’s usually just one or two simple motions, and then you repeat that motion many times. I also highly recommend the YouTube videos created by Tom Mason - he gives great tutorials on sculpting faces, hands,  and other useful skills. I sat down one afternoon and sculpted 4 or 5 faces until I felt comfortable with it.



SC: Please elaborate on mastering textures.

BH: I was referring to the physical texture of the mini itself. This link contains great examples of what I am referring to and has step by steps for achieving various textures.

A brief comment on textures. If you were to sculpt models realistically, most textures would disappear and be rendered smooth if the model were only 28mm big or profusely over-textured. I think this is boring and doesn't help our painting hobbyists one bit. So, when I sculpt I exaggerate textures so that they are easily identifiable. Wood grain becomes a surface of undulating, waving forms that flow in a single direction. Fur and beards get lots of swirling hairs. But with cloth  i usually just pick out a few folds that give the right overall impression and flow of the garment. I think having the textures easily identifiable makes them come to life for the player. There are shortcomings to this. Some painters like the ambiguity so they can choose whether something is metal or cloth for example.




SC:  Looking at your workbench posts I’m wondering about the skill set required for sculpting.  Do you have a sculpting or carving  background using other mediums or maybe experience as an illustrator?


BH: My background is relatively limited. Growing up I had always done crafty things. I’m poor at drawing, but I am great at doodling. The real experience I had going into it was using putty for gap filling and minor conversion work - beards ,fur, and the like. But, miniature painting informs a lot of my sculpting. I often try to anticipate how a model will be to paint and I try to model to make them easy to paint. Some model textures are nearly impossible to paint well I wanted to avoid that.

I also played a lot of legos as a young child and took a lot of engineering courses in high school. These aren’t so much artistic skills, but I think they certainly helped me think out the process for my miniatures. I often mentally map out all of the potential layers of putty and how they will interact, well in advance. If you do the layers out of order you can quickly get into trouble.




SC:  What are the differences in producing art in two dimensions (painting, drawing) versus three dimensions.


BH: A lot of my process starts in two dimensions. My law school notebooks are filled with marginal gnome doodles - poses, material culture (what types of objects populate the gnome’s world/culture), motifs, layering, expressions, lists of new ideas etc etc. Most of my poses are in a sense very 2 dimensional. In the sense that I think that every model needs  a clear line of motion. This is a great video that I routinely return to.

A line of motion is an abstract line that you can draw across an image that shows where the eye follows, the movement of the model’s mass, or the line that telegraphs the model’s action. So when I design my gnomes, most poses are the result of me studying the good poses from back in the day that worked well and stick figure poses, where I break down the essential elements of the pose (you can see examples of these doodles on many of the corks that I use for sculpting.) These 2D doodles of poses are often the basis for my armatures. As such most of my models tend to have a planar aspect to them… imagine drawing a fencer in a lunge. There is a clear line of action. It starts with the back left foot, follows up the outstretched leg, across the body, out the right arm and down to the tip of the rapier. When you translate this to sculpting, all of that is broadly going to fall on the same plane. … at least that’s how I imagine it in principle.




SC: Please give the readers a short summary of how the miniatures are produced?  I see you use a green putty and notice that even when you sculpted some swallows using sheet copper you add putty. I’m guessing the putty allows you to easily sculpt small details but does the putty have special properties needed when making a mold?


BH: All of the miniatures are sculpted using “Green Stuff” or Kneadatite. Some sculptors use milliput, prosculpt, or even oven hardening clays. My use of green stuff isn’t a principled stance or a wisened choice. There is a lot of discussion about which material is best. I use green stuff because it is what I am most familiar with and I haven’t tried other products.

What I like about the putty is that it cures on its own. So when I sculpted the feathers, I could sculpt one layer of feathers and then walk away. They would cure and then I could return and add another layer. As you saw with the pike gnomes workbench post, my models take many layers. I rarely do more than 2 layers in a day. The putty cures hard and allows me to take my time.

As for mold making, I am largely ignorant to that end of the process. I sculpt my doodads then mail them off to Jamie. I’ve seen a few videos about miniature casting, but I don’t know how the molding process works with any specificity.




SC:  I enjoyed your post on “What Makes Old School Miniatures So Good?”, especially the discussion of natural poses. You mention awkward poses occupying a box space making it difficult to paint.  Earlier you mentioned anticipating how a figure will be painted.  This question is coming from an “just OK” painter that finds my skill set limited when confronted by a “busy” figure, especially in the crowded space around the stomach area (belt, belt buckle,  dagger, sword scabbard, pouch, etc, etc.). How does anticipating how the figure will be painted translate into your designs?.


BH: I concentrate on how well a detail will respond to paint; will it be easy to dry brush or ink? So I generally try to avoid large open surfaces that invite freehanding. Sometimes my sculpted details are too tiny for me to paint well. I sculpted some shields with trees or deer on them, and they are a dickens to paint.

Regarding fiddly bits. I really don’t like fiddly bits on my miniatures. I am a bit of a lazy painter myself. I painted the gnome army that we use for our advertising, but I cut a lot of corners. And this influences my sculpting. I mostly try to avoid unnecessary pouches and nicknacks. I know that each thingamabob that a model has means more colors that you have to paint, and that bugs me too. I want my gnomes painted efficiently! I have battles to fight! But there are a few circumstances where I add bits. With the new mounted characters I mostly took the unmounted characters and sawed off their legs and plunked them atop rider legs. In a few instances I added bags to cover up where  things didn’t mesh up well. Or in the case of the Cantonal standard, I gave him a little bag on his belt since he didn’t have much else going on.



SC: I have mixed feelings about painting complexity versus historical accuracy. My intro to the hobby was with fabulous Napoleonic armies and the intense attention to historical detail those hobbyists paid right down to the correct number and placement of buttons and shades of color for regimental distinctions when painting collars, cuffs, plumes, etc.

BH: Right. I’ve never played a traditional historical game (though, a law school friend and I are taking a stab at designing our own Red Dawn themed Cold War skirmish game set in the 60’s) but I do have a certain curiosity for it. Obviously painting accuracy doesn’t directly apply to my gnomes (there is no best way to paint my gnomes), I love seeing how my fans interpret my work. But what I can say that relates to your comment is that I sometimes feel the opposite type of pressure from folks who comment on my work. The aesthetic that I have tried to create for the gnomes is a sort of low-fantasy semi-historical realism. I often seek comments from the community about what I should add to the range next, and there are often requests for steampunk, clockwork, and other high-fantasy tropes. I feel torn. On the one hand people want that content, but on the other it would disrupt the overall aesthetic I am aiming for. I don’t know exactly what balance to strike between the two.


SC:  What are your favorite old school miniature lines?


BH: My favorite line of miniatures from back in the day? I think it’s the old citadel miniature savage orcs from 1988.  I love how gangly and characterful they are. They look very opportunistic and scheming:




BH: One thing I would add, about my attitude about sculpting is that I want to push back on spectacle creep. Sometimes it feels that we have a sort of addiction to spectacle or epicness in the nerding community and this means we have to have ever increasing spectacle to get our fix. Things have to be grimmer and darker, pauldrons have to be bigger, etc., & etc. This is often reflected in gameplay and game rules where newer models have to be better in the rules so that players will buy them. In the original 1980’s  Warhammer, humans were essentially in the middle of the spectrum. They weren’t puny relative to all of their foes, nor were they overpowered. If you look at say 40k the men of the Imperium are nearly categorically outclassed by every opponent (perhaps this is to reinforce the narrative of nihilistic struggle against cosmic forces that dwarf individual humans). I see my gnomes as pushing back against this trend. They are the opposite of spectacle creep. They are smaller, diminutive and low-fantasy. They aren’t ruthless killers like the current orcs nor graceful efficient killers like the elves. They are frumpy little gnomes, with villagers, nappers, wagons, and tiny fox pals. Nearly the opposite of grimdark epicness.

I try to play this up in the flavor text that I use to describe their forces. This is an excerpt from my version of the WHFB 4th ed Bestiary entry for foxes:



Foxes are playful woodland predators. They resemble our real-world foxes in manner, including their diminutive size. They are a great menace to farmers, snotlings and small birds.  Foxes are wily and lithe in their forest homes, easily evading the commoner, avenging his murdered fowl. Consequently, they are often hunted by human nobles with great gusto and pomp.

Foxes are not ferocious predators like giant wolves. They are comparatively small, with paw-like claws and teeth as dangerous as the tines of a table fork.

Gnomes riding foxes have an advantage over a typical gnome in both speed, and the savage nibble of the fox. However, this valiant duo is still outclassed by common cavalry of most other races. For this reason, foxes and their gnomish riders prey on skirmishers and loners while keeping to the woods where they can easily escape.





SC: What are you working on now?



BH: I just finished up the figures for our next gnome kickstarter. It includes Pikegnomes, a baggage train pulled by goats, mounted characters, swallows, sappers, and a pair of little sleeping napping gnomes. I am very excited about it! Mostly because I want some Pikegnomes for my own gnomish army. Hahaha.

Right now I am finishing up our Medieval Marginalia project. We already had a successful kickstarter and I am sculpting up the stretch goals. The gnomes won’t get mailed to Jamie until I am done with the Marginalia.

In the meantime I sent some “evil gnomes” to Jamie. I believe these will be released soon with our line of Chaos  Thugs (not sculpted by me.)


SC: I like the sleeping gnomes.  Are they for use in a diorama or is a good nap an essential part a successful campaign?

BH: The old warhammer rules encouraged players to include baggage trains. It felt natural that a baggage train would include various camp accessories, and by corollary gnomes using those facilities. Sleeping gnomes felt appropriate and adorable for that purpose. I think having a little gnome with a teddy bear really helps to demystify the army and pull it out of the grimdark genre. Many oldhammer enthusiasts make elaborate baggage trains and set up dioramas when they play their battles.

Below are some snips from the Warhammer Fantasy and some blogs where hobbyists have made wonderful baggage trains:







Also here is the link to our stretch goal survey. I have a lot of ideas for the gnomes, and I always like to hear which ideas resonate with our fans so I can start putting my mind to them. I already have lots of sketches and doodles in the works for ideas. More feedback lets me focus my ideas though or opens me up to new ideas.




SC: Thanks Byron, excellent information.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Battle of the Bulge: Approaching St. Vith Part II


Last post's screen shot was from turn 27.

Turn 34 (7 turns or around 24 - 32 hours later)




1: Kampfgruppe Telkamp initially attempted to reach Rodt and cut the highway to St. Vith.  The 7th Armored was there in force as can be seen by the many wrecks.  I destroyed a company of Shermans but at great cost and decided to head directly for St. Vith instead.

2: 7th Armored holding a line just north of the paved highway. I don't have enough force to attempt to cut the road and simultaneously advance towards the vital VP hexes in St. Vith

3: The surrounded remnants of what Intel is telling me is the 424th Infantry Regiment (playing "fog of war" I cannot access unit information on my opponent's troops but I believe this is the 424th as it starts the game in St. Vith along with a couple companies of engineers).

The enemy held a strong position on this ridge and was dug in but my troops were able to remain in LOS and call in heavy rocket fire, disrupting the enemy and allowing them to be encircled.

4: Steinbruck and the 500 vp hex is just south west of the numeral 4.  My 62nd VG Division is slowly approaching.

Remember that historically, the 424th Infantry Regiment was on the front line, south of its sister 422nd and 423rd infantry regiments which were quickly surrounded and destroyed. The 424th was able to pull back to St. Vith, and then forced back further west before taking part in the eventual counterattack.  They have an interesting history and will rate their own dedicated post.

Turn 38


St. Vith will not fall easily.  After overrunning the 424th I thought I may do the same to isolated defenders at St. Vith but the 7th Armored Division is here in force, along with quite a few engineers that cause havoc with my panzers at close quarters. They hold a continuous line and I hear armor behind their lines waiting to strike.

There is nothing to it but fight a battle of attrition: move forward, take the heavy op fire, try to force the defenders back so their artillery will not devastate my advance, and if I fail in that, lay smoke and hope I can hold on until my artillery takes effect.  Even the Tigers (on the right of the screen shot) are taking casualties from engineers fighting in the town hexes.



Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Battle of the Bulge: Approaching St. Vith


German Forces Approach St. Vith.


Newly captured Schönburg is on the far right of the screen shot below.  I recommend clicking on the picture below to see the detail. A clump of volks-grenadier stragglers, artillery and transport, clog the narrow Schönburg streets.

A mix of engineers, volks-grenadiers and the Führerbegleitbrigade have entered the first line of woods after capturing Setz.  I thought the enemy would make a stand but, so far, no opposition.

In the top left, north west of St. Vith, Kampfgruppe Telkamp approaches.  This battle group was part of the 9th SS Division and was involved with the action around St. Vith.  If you look closely you can see the wreck of a scout car that was hiding in the woods. The scouts were from the 7th Armored Division who stood in the way of the 9th SS Panzer Division, preventing it from surrounded St. Vith from the north and north west.




Historically, the 9th SS struck further to the west, (off the map above), around Poteau. In this scenario I just have Kampfgruppe Telkamp and by playing past versions of this scenario I found that despite packing a punch, attacking the 7th Armored Division alone is extremely costly, therefore, I head directly for St. Vith to join up with their comrades approaching from the east.


Kampfgruppe Telkamp Links

There's not much information online on Kampfgruppe Telkamp.  In fact, when searching I found that an old "during action report" relatively high up in the search results (click more results to find 1st Chronicles post).  The report was from a very early version of this scenario and I'm glad to say, the Germans may take St. Vith this time.

Not much but a book available online on the 9th SS Panzer Division and an article on the 9th at Globeatwar.com. Both the book and article focus on the war history of the 9th SS and there is not a lot of detail on the Bulge.


Battle of the Bulge: 62nd Volks-grenadier Division

A companion post to the 18th VG Division . Reference is MS # B-026 , Report on the Ardennes Offensive. The 62 VGD by Brigadier-General ...