A bit of conversion

In one of my slowly progressing projects I am playing the board game “Axis & Allies”, starting in 1939, but each engagement is resolved using the “Memoir 44” game using 1/285 models on a Kallistra hexxon game board.
The Axis & Allies game board has been added as a background to an Excel spreadsheet and movement is not by terrain area but by grid square. Movement has been reduced to weekly time periods and resource gathering to monthly. I believe the original game works in approximately quarterly turns.

So when two forces meet in adjacent squares they, and any supports within one move, are converted as below. This means that strategically I may be moving the 3rd Tank Army, but the commander on the field has to work with whatever is available on the day.

Conversion from Axis & Allies to Memoir 44.

For each full strength Axis & Allies unit, roll all 8 battle dice.
Battle Dice have faces showing 1 tank, 2 infantry, 1 grenade, 1 star & 1 flag.  As the campaign progresses, units are weakened in battle and fewer dice are rolled.

Infantry piece
Infantry face = Rifle unit (4 Rifle bases)
Tank face = Tank unit (3 medium tanks)
Grenade face = Artillery Unit (2 towed guns)
Re-roll Flag and Star faces.
Infantry face = MG unit. (1 MG + 3 Rifle bases)
Tank face = Anti-Tank unit. (1 ATR + 3 Rifle bases)
Grenade face = Mortar unit. (1 Mortar + 3 Rifle bases)
Flag face = Cavalry unit. (4 Cavalry or 4 tankettes)
Star face = Supply trucks. (3 Trucks)

Tank piece
Tank face = Tank unit (3 medium tanks)
Grenade face = SP Artillery unit (2 SP guns)
Flag face = Armoured Car unit. (3 armoured cars*)
Star face = Half-tracks. (3 half-tracks)
Re-roll Infantry faces.
Infantry face = Infantry (4 Rifle bases)
Grenade face = towed artillery (2 towed guns)
Tank face = Light tank unit (2 tanks)
Flag face = Heavy tank (1 tank) (use Tiger rules)
Star face = Supply trucks (3 trucks)
* Armoured cars battle as patrol cars, target as armour.

Fighter piece
Star face = Fighter aircraft (1 ME109, Spitfire. etc)
Grenade face = Fighter-bomber aircraft (1 Stuka, Typhoon, etc)
Flag face = Reconnaissance aircraft (1 Storch, Lysander, etc)
All other faces ignored

Bomber piece
Grenade face = Bomber aircraft (1)
Star face = Transport aircraft (1)
Flag face = Glider (1)
Other faces ignored

Transport ship
Infantry face = troopship
Tank face = cargo ship
Grenade face = cargo ship – munitions
Star face = oil tanker
Flag face = convoy escort

Battleship
Flag face = Battleship
Star face = Cruiser
Tank face = Destroyer
Grenade face = Anti-Submarine Destroyer
Infantry face ignored

Aircraft carrier
Flag face = Carrier
Star face = Cruiser
Tank face = Destroyer
Grenade face = Anti-Submarine Destroyer
Infantry face ignored

Submarine
Infantry = submarine
Flag = supply ship
All other faces ignored.

Thus: for example, my next conflict (Polish counterattack 4th September 1939)  has these forces:
Polish forces:
2nd Infantry Army (8)
5 Infantry = 5 x rifle units of 4 rifle bases
1 Tank = 3 medium tanks 7TP 37mm
1 Grenade = 2 x horse-towed 75mm guns
1 Star re-rolled as tank = 1 AT Rifle base +3 rifle base.

Support (1st Tank Army) (4) (May arrive Polish left flank when left flank cards are played. Units as card)
1 Tank = 3 medium tanks 7TP with 2MG
1 Grenade = 2 towed 105mm guns with half tracks
1 Flag = 3 Armoured cars
1 Infantry rerolled as infantry = 4 rifle bases

German forces:
1st Tank Army (5)
1 Tank = 3 medium tanks (PzII)
1 Flag = 3 armoured cars (SdKfz222)
3 Infantry rerolled as Flag, Grenade, Tank
Flag = 1 Heavy Tank (PzIV)
Grenade = 2 Towed guns (105mm) with half-tracks
Tank face = 1 AT Rifle base + 3 rifle bases

Support (2nd Infantry Army) (8) May arrive German left flank if “Direct from HQ” card played.
1 Infantry = 1 Rifle unit of 4 rifle bases
2 Grenades = 2 units of 2 towed 105mm guns
2 Stars = 2 units of 3 Supply trucks
3 Flags = 3 units of 4 cavalry bases or 4 Pz1 tanks

Support (1st Infantry Army) (6) may arrive in German rear if “Direct from HQ” card played.
5 Infantry = 5 units of 4 rifle bases
1 star = 1 unit of 3 supply trucks

Support (1st Jagd Luftflotte) (8) – fighter – may arrive from German rear if “Air Power” card played.
4 Grenades = 4 JU87 Stukas
1 Star = 1 ME109
1 Flag = 1 Fiesler Storch
2 Tanks ignored

Support (1st Bomber Luftflotte) (8) – bomber – may arrive from German left if “Air Power” card played.
1 Grenade = 1 HE111 Bomber
5 Infantry ignored
2 Tanks ignored

NOTE that it is no relevance which elements were engaged previously. For each battle the dice are rolled anew.

Poland – 2nd September 1939

Day two of my refight of the Second World War.  German First Tank Army attacks the Polish First Tank Army.

Forces and battlefield were randomised for Memoir 44 using the game’s dice and a pack of ordinary playing cards.  The units were modelled using GHQ miniatures in 1/285 scale and the map board transferred to a table-top using Kallistra hexagon terrain (some of which was remodelled for streams, marshes and roads), buildings from Total Battle Miniatures, and trees and other scenery from a variety of sources.

The battlefield, viewed from the West, is seen here:

The battlefield with forces deployed.
The battlefield with forces deployed.

German forces for Memoir 44, created by the dice rolls:
1 Heavy tank unit of 1 x PzIII.
3 Half-track units of 3 x SdKfz 251 each.
2 Motorised artillery units of 2 x 105mm gun and 2 half-track tractors each.
1 Infantry unit of 4 x 4 riflemen.
1 Supply truck unit of 3 lorries.

Polish forces are:
1 Tank unit of 2 x 7TP (37mm gun turret)
1 Tank unit of 2 x 7TP (two MG turrets)
1 Tankette unit of 3 x TK-3 (MG)
2 Motorised Artillery units of 2 x 105mm gun and 2 half-track tractors each.
1 Horse-drawn artillery unit of 2 x 75mm guns.
1 Infantry unit of 4 x 4 riflemen.
1 Supply truck unit of 3 lorries.

As an aside, I started to play this battle using Rapid Fire rules using centimetres in place of inches, but gave up because I had not modelled observers or HQ units needed for the artillery, so back to my original plan of playing with Memoir 44 rules.

To determine the number of command cards for each side I rolled one die per unit and added the number of stars rolled to a base of 3. This gave the Germans 5 cards and the Poles 4.
I applied the “Blitz” rules, which give a speed penalty to Polish tanks.
Other “house” modifications to the standard rules for this campaign are:
– PzIII behaves like a Tiger tank in 1944 scenarios (harder to kill).
– Polish tankettes behave like armoured half-tracks without the supply ability.
– Polish 7TP tanks with two MG turrets fight as two attacks with infantry MGs.
– Polish command cards referring to more than one sector are restricted to one sector, representing the lack of radios.
Victory would be achieved by the first player to win 5 medals. Each village occupied counted as one medal, as did the bridge. These were temporary medals, only held while the hexagon was occupied.  Thus the Germans started with 1 medal.

Turn 1.

Turn 1 action
Turn 1 action

The German infantry moved out of the village to the railway station (1). From there they opened fire on the Polish tankette unit and destroyed one of them (2). The PzIII moved onto the road (3), supported by a unit of armoured half-tracks (4). The tank fired at the 7TP unit on the Polish right flank and knocked out one tank (5).
The Poles responded by advancing the two 7TP(MG) tanks onto the bridge (6) and shooting at the PzIII, to no effect.  One of the 105mm artillery units also fired at the tank (7). It scored a hit, but no damage. One medal was taken for holding the bridge.

Turn 2.
(No picture)
On the German right flank one unit of half-tracks moved forwards and machine-gunned the infantry defending the line of the stream. One hit was scored.
A battery of 105mm guns fired at the 7TP tanks on the bridge. No damage was inflicted but the tanks withdrew from the bridge. The PzIII was also ordered to attack these tanks, and fired as they retreated, driving them further back beyond the village. The Poles lost their medal for holding the bridge, but it was not yet taken by the Germans.
On the Polish side the remaining 7TP (37mm) fired at the PzIII but missed.

Turn 3.

Turn 3 action
Turn 3 action

The German infantry moved forwards into the woods (1).   The PzIII moved onto the bridge (2) and fired at the remaining 7TP to his left (3).
The Polish called in an artillery barrage (4) and successfully brewed up the PzIII, blocking the only crossing point for vehicles (5)

Turn 4.

Turn 4 action
Turn 4 action

The German artillery started a bombardment. The first battery (1) attacked the Polish light artillery (2) with no effect, but the second battery (3) forced the Polish infantry (4) to fall back.
The Polish 75mm guns replied and drove one of the German batteries (5) from the battlefield. One medal to the Poles.

Turn 5.

Turn 5 action north
Turn 5 action north

In the north – the German left flank – the half-tracks attacked the Polish tankettes (1) but failed to cause any damage. The Polish tank counterattacked and the half-tracks fled back to the village (3), ironically claiming a medal for occupation. The tankettes opened fire on the German infantry in the woods (4) causing casualties.

Turn 5 action south
Turn 5 action south

In the centre a unit of half-tracks (1) advanced on the Polish 75mm guns (2), firing their machine guns.  The gunners limbered up and retreated, but were caught by artillery fire from the remaining 105mm battery (3) and one team was destroyed.

Turn 6.

Turn 6 action
Turn 6 action

The Germans launched a mass charge of half-tracks across the whole field with machine guns blazing. It had a very limited effect.
On the left flank one unit (1) attacked the tankettes (2) once more with no effect except to lose the medal for holding the village.  In the centre (3) the Polish artillery battery (4) was eliminated, gaining one medal, and on the right (5) the retreating infantry (6) were targeted with no effect.
The Poles replied with both 105mm batteries (7) which hit nothing.  The Polish trucks (8) moved across the field towards the infantry to resupply them.

Turn 7.

Turn 7 action
Turn 7 action

The Germans renewed their attacks with the half-tracks.  On the left flank (1) they finally eliminated the Polish tankettes (2), claiming another victory medal.  On the right (3) the Polish infantry were driven back (out of shot).  The Polish artillery batteries (4) shelled the third German half-track unit (5), causing a lot of smoke and flames but no damage.

Turn 8.

Turn 8 action
Turn 8 action

The German supply trucks (1) moved forward to occupy the village and reclaim the medal for holding the village.  The infantry moved out of the woods onto the ground previously defended by the Polish tankettes (2) while the half-tracks attacked and eliminated the remaining 7TP tank (3) for another medal.
The Polish artillery (4) shelled the German half-tracks in the centre, destroying one (5) and sending the others (6) backwards.
The Polish trucks reached their infantry and resupplied them.  (The mechanism is that one truck is removed to replace one lost base from the unit supplied.)

The Poles were now in a precarious position.  All their units were at the back edge of the board.  The Germans needed one more victory medal which they could achieve by destroying a Polish unit, taking the second village or forcing any one unit to retreat.

Turn 9.

Turn 9 action
Turn 9 action

The Germans hitched up their 105mm guns (1) and advanced to bring them into effective range of the Polish forces.  As nothing on the left flank could cross the stream to reach the village, the remains of the half-track unit in the centre (2) moved across the field towards the target.  The Polish artillery (3) shelled the half-tracks with no effect. (apparently firing duds as there are no visible explosions!)

Turn 10.

Turn 10 action
Turn 10 action

The Germans continued their movement started in turn 9. The Poles on the other hand had far more success, hitting and destroying the German half-tracks (1) and gaining a Victory Medal.  They also moved the two MG armed 7TPs (2) into the village for another medal.

Turn 11.

Turn 11 action
Turn 11 action

The Germans unhitched the 105mm guns (1) and selected at extreme range the easiest target – the Polish supply trucks (2), but missed.   The Polish infantry advanced towards the woods (3).

Turn 12.

Turn 12 action
Turn 12 action

The German infantry continued to move forward on the left flank, entering the woods (1).  Their half-tracks (2) retired to a safe distance from the arriving Polish tanks.  In the centre the remaining half-tracks (3) advanced between the two woods.  The 105mm artillery (4) again missed the Polish trucks (5).   The Polish infantry, replenished to full strength, moved into the woods (6) to threaten the half-tracks.

Turn 13.

Turn 13 action
Turn 13 action

All the action was on the German left flank.  First the half-tracks (1) moved up to the woods and resupplied the infantry who then moved forwards at to speed towards the village (2).  The Polish tanks (3) swung round to attack them, but with no effect.

Turn 14.

Turn 14 action
Turn 14 action

Following their move in turn 13 the German infantry (1) unleashed their firepower at short range against the tanks in the village, causing them to retreat from the battlefield (2). The Germans had won.

The battlefield at the end of the game.
The battlefield at the end of the game.

The remains of Polish First Tank Army retreated east. The strategic map at the end of 2nd September looked like this.

German invasion of Poland.  End of day 2nd September
German invasion of Poland. End of day 2nd September

The next battle will be in the area 6329/6328 between two infantry armies.

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.

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.

Painting the Poles

18th October 2012

I just spent an hour working on my GHQ Polish infantry for the 1939 campaign. I had previously given them a black wash to fill the creases and hollows. This evening I dug out all the colour plates I could find and tried to mix up a match to the greenish khaki colour for the uniforms.

One day I may start to buy the Vallejo paints and follow the Flames of War painting guides, but while I have a large box of acrylic pots to get through There are enough other things to spend my cash on. I also tend to use a slightly lighter shade on small figures to compensate for the perceived distance from the eye.

After giving them all a basic coat of my patent khaki colour I sat back and regarded them critically, wondering how something that can be a near perfect match in the palette can dry on the models so much more like a Russian uniform green.

So although I painted them in the light of a daylight bulb I will make a decision what to do when I can see them in proper daylight.

Luckily GHQ have festooned the poor little fellows with so much equipment that there’s not much to be seen of the basic uniform.

Once I have made a bi more progress I hope to post some pictures.

25th October

Having repainted the little chaps with a browner shade of khaki, I left them overnight and found they were still decidedly green. As a further coat risked obscuring all the fine detail I decided to bash on.
They now have packs, haversacks, canteens and water bottles. Blanket rolls and gas mask cases to follow next, and then the multitude of straps. These little models are the epitome of the old joke:
“Daddy, what’s a soldier for?”
“To hang things on, son.”