September 1939 – the models in detail.

In my previous post I gave the orders of battle for the first battle of my Second World War Campaign.
Here is some information on how the models were prepared.
I paint the models with acrylic paints from Coat d’Arms and Vallejo, after attaching them individually with PVA adhesive to plastic bottle tops for ease of handling. It is a simple matter to remove the models later by slipping a sharp knife beneath the layer of glue.
My game bases are made from 1mm thick MDF sheet, cut into 2cm squares (or multiples thereof for horse teams and other longer models). I round off the corners with an old pair of nail clippers to prevent bending or fraying at the edge.

1mm MDF sheet cut into 2cm x 2cm squares.
1mm MDF sheet cut into 2cm x 2cm squares.

I label all my bases with a Bother P-touch label maker, colour coded by army, but not always in a consistent style. For example the Polish tank label has a catalogue reference which the other examples do not. Something to rectify when time allows. I must create and stick to a standard!

A selection of Polish and German bases.
A selection of Polish and German bases.

Working with about half a dozen bases at a time I cover each base with PVA adhesive and attach the models. I try to randomise the positions of infantry on the base, but it’s amazing how many come out almost one to each corner. When the glue is completely dry I start to work one base at a time. For infantry and artillery crews with moulded bases I carefully add a coat of green “basetex” textured paint and immediately scatter some model railway “grass” flock over the base, sieving it through a redundant fine mesh flour sifter. Any stray flock that clings to the tiny men is blown or brushed off after the assembly is dry.  The flock colour is almost identical to the Kallistra pre-flocked hexagon tiles that I use.

Rifle squads. An error in the focus for the Poles. They were supposed to be the "in focus" group for this shot. Must revisit the tips from Henry Hyde!
Rifle squads. An error in the focus for the Poles. They were supposed to be the “in focus” group for this shot. Must revisit the tips from Henry Hyde!

For vehicles that have no moulded base I more often use a pinch of fine builders sand, also sieved or rubbed between finger and thumb to remove the larger lumps. I don’t mind a few large bits which can represent small rocks. I am still trying to get the timing and mix correct, but I tend to use more sand on vehicles that are likely to spend most of the time on roads because I use the same sand for my road surfaces. For example:

Vehicles with a sandy base. The raw MDF edges will need a touch up, and I am not happy with some of those white crosses.
Vehicles with a sandy base. The raw MDF edges will need a touch up, and I am not happy with some of those white crosses.

Here is a selection of Polish and German armour with generally less sand applied. Most of these were based in an earlier session and have plain green paint rather than basetex. You will see that I have chosen to use the disputed grey and brown camouflage scheme on some of my German tanks. That probably means that they will need a repaint if they are to fight beyond June 1940.

Representative Polish and German armoured vehicles for the 1939 campaign.  Not all are included in my first battle.
Representative Polish and German armoured vehicles for the 1939 campaign. Not all are included in my first battle.

Finally everything is taken to the garden on the next fine day and given a coat of matt spray varnish.  I have learned never to apply this if there is any dampness in the air.  The varnish turns white and ruins all the hard work.

Next: The game map selected and transferred to the table.

Poland, 1st September 1939, forces ready (or are they?)

Poland, 1st September 1939
The opposing forces are ready.  Well, when I started this post I thought they were!

In a previous post I showed the situation in Poland on 1st September.  Here is how the forces available for the local battle were decided.  I am using “Axis and Allies” (A&A) for the overall strategic campaign and “Memoir 44” (M44) with local adjustments for the tabletop battles using appropriate 1/300 or 1/285 scale miniatures and Kallistra terrain tiles.  This is very much a game based on history rather than a historical game.

Rule: only forces orthogonally adjacent on the map may participate in battle. The attacker (current active country in the Strategic game) selects a target map square and a primary attacking unit.  Any other uncommitted unit adjacent to the target square may be included as reinforcements.  The defender must fight with whatever unit is in the target square but may also be reinforced from neighbouring squares.

For this battle Germany is attacking with 2nd Panzer supported by 1st Infantry against the Polish 1st Infantry.  All other forces are pinned or not directly adjacent to an enemy.  Note that I am not calling these strategic units Divisions, Corps, Armies or anything else.  The entire Polish national defence is represented by four units, so maybe they could be called “Armies”.  We shall see as the war progresses.

To determine the forces available to each commander the appropriate number of Memoir 44 dice are rolled.  This process will be carried out at the start of each battle, so the commander on the spot will have a variable force available from battle to battle.  This will make it more interesting and I can rationalise it by claiming that this was the key point in the bigger picture.

All forces for this battle are fresh and complete, so 8 dice are rolled for each A&A unit.  Why 8 dice? Mainly because that’s how many are in the box but also because it gives a reasonable sized force for a 4ft x 3ft table, which with 10cm hexagons neatly replicates the 13 x 9 hexagon board in M44.
The dice are cubic, with the faces marked as infantry, infantry, tank, grenade, flag and star.  For those unfamiliar with the game system the relevance of these symbols in play will become clear in the battle reports.

German 2nd Panzer uses the “armour” conversion table.
Dice rolled were:
2 tanks = 2 units of 3 medium tanks (Pz II for 1939)
3 grenades = 3 units of 2 Self-Propelled guns (for 1939 replaced by howitzers towed by half-tracks)
2 flags = 2 units of 3 armoured cars
1 star = 1 unit of 3 half tracks.
Note that no infantry were rolled on this occasion.

German 2nd Panzer force September 1st 1939.  GHQ models on Kallistra hex tiles.
German 2nd Panzer force September 1st 1939. GHQ models on Kallistra hex tiles.

German 1st Infantry uses the “infantry” conversion table.
Dice rolled were:
3 infantry = 3 units of 4 rifle squads (4 figures per squad)
1 grenade = 1 unit of 2 horse towed artillery
1 flag and 3 stars: these dice are rerolled to obtain specialist units.
1 infantry = 1 unit of 3 rifle squads and a machine gun team (tripod mounted for sustained fire role)
2 tanks – 2 units of 3 rifle squads and an anti-tank rifle.
1 star = 1 unit of 3 trucks.
At this point I realised that I have only prepared one rifle/AT infantry unit.  Rather than delay this battle I rushed to the toy cupboard to dig out some replacements, so the second unit is Heroics & Ros figures on somewhat different bases, seen in the top left of the picture below. 

German 1st Infantry 1st September 1939. GHQ and Heroics models on Kallistra hexagon tiles.
German 1st Infantry 1st September 1939. GHQ and Heroics models on Kallistra hexagon tiles.

Polish 1st Infantry also uses the “infantry” conversion table.
Dice rolled were:
3 infantry = 3 units of 4 rifle squads
2 tanks = 2 units of 3 medium tanks (for a Polish infantry force I used the TKS and TK3 tankettes, one unit with 20mm cannon and one with machine guns)
1 grenade = 1 unit of 2 horse towed guns.
1 flag and 1 star re-rolled.
1 tank = 1 unit of 3 rifle squads and an anti-tank rifle team.
1 star = 1 unit of 3 trucks.

1st Polish Infantry September 1st 1939.  GHQ models on Kallistra hexagon tiles.
1st Polish Infantry September 1st 1939. GHQ models on Kallistra hexagon tiles.

In my next post I will show the forces in detail.

September 1939 – Getting there with the painting

I am slowly getting to my objective – to actually start gaming this campaign.
I find nowadays that I cannot stare through a magnifying glass for as many hours as I need to get these models painted. The problem with using a magnifying glass is that the figure gets bigger but you are painting it with a yard broom!
Painting webbing on 6mm high soldiers is a necessary chore, particularly for my Polish troops. If I paint it I can’t see it, but if I don’t paint it the uniform looks bland and incorrect. Catch 22.
My fine point brushes are beginning to fray from too much use with acrylic paint and when I look at the magnified photograph I realise just much I have strayed from the target areas and need to tidy up.

A close up of some of the Poles.  Still being equipped with some time before they are battlefield ready.
A close up of some of the Poles. Still being equipped with some time before they are battlefield ready.

Reconsidering a decision

Having spent what seems like my allotted time in purgatory just beginning to assemble the GHQ 1/285 scale horse teams and artillery, I may have to reconsider my decision to replay the whole of the Second World War using their models.

Sure, the detail is magnificent, but they are somewhat fragile and I may well die of frustration before May 1940 (for which I already have forces painted and based) reaches the table.  I will persevere with GHQ for the 1939 campaign, but afterwards it may be back to Heroics & Ros.  We shall see.

Watch this space…

1939, September 1st

Germany. Turn 1. 1st September 1939
Germany has 8 Industrial Points at the start of the game.  These are spent on 1 infantry unit (3 IP) and 1 armoured unit (5 IP), produced at the factory at map reference 5228.
The Czechoslavakian Protectorate also supplies 1 IP, but there is no factory. (Historically the Skoda works was very important for the Germans, but is too insignificant to be included at this scale).

Relevant Historical activity
Germany invades Poland.
Norway, Finland and Switzerland declare their neutrality.

German movement
(Note that this is more detailed than the standard “Axis and Allies” method.)
Armoured unit moves from 6027 to 6127
Infantry unit moves from 5926 to 6926
Armoured unit moves from 5825 to 5925
Fighter unit moves from 5927 to 6027

The situation after the German move on 1st September.
The situation after the German move on 1st September.

Germany declares an attack by the armoured unit in 6127, supported by the infantry unit in 6026, against the Polish infantry unit in 6126.
This attack will be resolved on the wargame table.

World War Two game: compromising

As expected, with early war games, there must be some compromises in the order of battle for my 1st September 1939 battle. I can find no reference to Poland having self-propelled guns or armoured half-tracks in 1939, so I have changed the Polish order of battle as follows:
Self-propelled guns are replaced by motorised towed artillery.
Other artillery are horse-drawn. I may need to dig out some Heroics gun teams for this.
Half-tracks are replaced by TKS tankettes with 2cm cannon.

World War Two. Getting started

I have finally made a start on the World war Two project.  I have written the basic rules for using the Axis & Allies game, the mapping and unit conversion to wargame forces.

The first engagement on the German-Polish border is set and now I have to get the required models ready for the tabletop. See the Second World War game page for more information.