A Small Success

Today I finally managed to find a box in the attic that has been hidden for four years, despite numerous attempts to locate it.

When I retired in 2014 I determined to acquire a lot of the stuff from my 1960s and 1970s wargaming years.

One thing tbat I saw in several books (mainly those written by Charles Grant Snr.) was the Merit Alder Tree.  This was at the time both normally outside my pocket money and also never actually seen in our local model store.  I did manage to buy a few Merit poplar trees and a few Roco fir trees as substitutes, but I never owned an alder tree.

So, when I retired I scoured eBay for Merit trees and other stuff of the period.  I managed to get a decent number of these trees together, based them on MDF and boxed them up for future use, then stuck them in a corner of the loft and lost them.

This is at least the fourth search, but the Holy Grail has at last been found.

After some re-glueing, the forest amounts to 27 trees:

A storage challenge

I am struggling with a mathematical problem that takes me back to my work in the late 1970s.  In those days the problem was: “How many chest freezers measuring X x Y x Z can you fit in a shipping container measuring A x B x C?”

Now it is:  My toy soldiers are in boxes measuring 60mm x 95mm.  The storage containers are 345mm x 220mm internal.  Is there any way to fit 11 boxes into one container?

imageA suitable wargaming prize will be awarded to anyone who can supply a solution before I do.

A poor game…

As part of my somewhat OCD lifestyle my daily tasks are dictated by what emerges from the in-tray.

Today we started with: “Trim back lawn edges”:  No thank you, it is raining.  Task is replaced in the interim tray.

Next: “Trim front lawn edges”:  No, it is still raining.  Similar destination.

“Update blog”:   I have nothing to report since yesterday.

“ASL Napoleonic wargame”.:  Ah!  Now we are talking.  Up to the loft to retrieve the two boxes of stuff – and to get out all the Christmas decorations while I am there.

This game was developed during a week-long solo caravan trip in Spain, between two re-enactment events set in 1710 (Zaragoza) and 1811 (Albuera).

With the boxes of Squad Leader game boards and home-made gaming tokens retrieved, I began to roll the dice.  5, 2, 6 means take the 5th board from the stack, then the 2nd below that and the 6th below that.  I ended up with boards 15, 12 and 12.

Next, each board must be orientated.  Dice again. Odd, Even, Odd.  With an odd number the printed board number is to the right, with an even number, to the left.

Result:

Now to the forces.

Blue and Red dice rolled.  Blue has 2 units, red has 5.Opening the playing tile boxes (note 1), Red’s units are (from top left) :  95th Rifles, Royal Horse Artillery 6pr Battery, Royal Artillery 6pr Battery, King’s German Legion 6pr Battery, 52nd Line.

 Blue has:  3eme Regiment de Ligne, 5eme Regiment de Ligne.

Note 1.  The playing pieces are made by attaching printed sticky labels, designed in Microsoft Excel, onto 13mm x 13mm x 5mm plastic tokens bought from Plastics for Games

Next, dice for sides: higher comes from ‘north”.  Blue.

Both sides now make a plan, assuming they have not yet made contact.

Red is clearly an artillery column being escorted by light troops moving from south to north.  They will take the quickest route on road, with scouts from the 95th to the front and the 52nd battalion to the rear.

Blue is an understrength brigade, moving from the north. A die roll decides that they are deployed, looking for the enemy.

Thus we start the game.

It turns out that the game was most disappointing and not worth reporting,  but I thought that my methodology may be of interest.

Operation Dab-It-Off

Looking back on my blog it appears that I never got around to reporting the results of Operation Dab-It-Off from 27th December 2016.  Unfortunately all photographs are also untraceable.

The game was based on Len Deighton’s book “Bomber”, and I was lucky enough to obtain a flight manual for the Lancaster Bomber to help with the detail.

The operation was so named because it was the fun game played at Chris Scott’s place on the Day After Boxing-day.  For non-UK readers, Dab-It-Off is a form of home dry-cleaning fluid.  It erases unwanted stains, including the town of Irgendwo (somewhere) in 1943 Germany.

Unfortunately the pictures have disappeared into the mists of time, but the idea of the game was that each player was issued with three 1/600 scale Lancaster bombers to fly the length of a 16 foot table, bomb strategic sites in an enemy town (using tiddly-winks) and return safely home.  Each player also had control of a JU88 night fighter to shoot down the opposition.  Every aircraft had randomised skill ratings for each crew member, adding to the same total for every bomber or fighter.  During the flight damage and equipment failures* would be rolled for against the relevant personal skill of the person responsible.

The general game scale was 1 hexagon (6cm) = 4 miles and 1 height level = 2,500 feet.  In air-air combat this was telescoped to about 1/5 of the above.

In summary, the bombers took off in three waves, starting at 21:00.  Each game turn was 10 minutes of real time.  Points were awarded for successful navigation, so there was considerable jostling to fly over or near the first beacon.

As the bomber stream flew over the North Sea a convoy escorted by a FLAK ship was passing*.  The umpire had fun engaging the bombers as they flew overhead, and three aircraft were downed before reaching Holland.  After the first Lancaster crossed the enemy coast the German night fighters were activated.  (D6=6 each turn to activate).  During the approach run one Lancaster was downed for the loss of one JU88.

The first two bombers to arrive at the target decided to ignore the Target Indicators and flew across the target at 90 degrees to the planned approach.  X-XRay was hit by FLAK immediately after bombing and crashed with all the crew lost.

The remaining aircraft followed the TIs (the last one was dropped in the wrong place by the pathfinders*).

Eventually 168 x 1000 pound bombs were dropped.  Of these:

10 hit factories, 6 hit the railway yard, 4 hit the town hall and 4 the army barracks.  10 hit other parts of the railway, 46 hit residential districts and 68 landed in open countryside.  The church and hospital were spared, much to the chagrin of the umpire.

2/3 of the bombers reached the target.  40% of the bombs were wasted, 15% hit valuable targets and 45% hit domestic infrastructure.

Individual aircraft performance:

D-Dog.  Did not bomb.  
E-Easy. FLAK ship hit starboard wing.  Crashed, no survivors.
H-How. 60 pts vital, 90 pts other targets.  "A milk run".
I-Item.  105pts other targets.  Navigator killed.
J-Jig. 120pts vital, 90pts other targets, flew home on 3 engines.
K-King. 120pts vital, 30pts other targets, shot down JU88. Beers all round.
M-Mike. 45pts vital targets. Navigator and bomb-aimer not on speaking terms.
N-Nan. 180pts vital, 75pts other targets. Point-blank hits.
O-Oboe. Engine Fire, Pilot and Navigator bailed out over North Sea, others lost.
P-Peter. 45pts vital, 120pts other targets. Bombed across the stream.
Q-Queen. Hit by FLAK, exploded, all crew lost.
R-Roger. First to cross enemy coast. Hit by FLAK, crashed with all crew lost.
S-Sugar. Engineer dealt with 3 engine failures, aircraft hit by FLAK at low level.
T-Tare. 105pts other targets. Flight Engineer on Elsan throughout flight*.
V-Victor. 60pts other targets. uneventful flight.
X-XRay. 90pts other targets. First to bomb, across stream, but hit by FLAK and crashed.
Y-Yoke. Shot down after unsuccessful bombing run by JU88. Tail Gunner bailed out.
Z-Zebra. 75pts other targets. Last to reach target. Front Gunner killed.
-------
B-Bruno. No combat contacts.
D-Dora. Shot down in combat.
E-Emil. Destroyed 1 Lancaster.
F-Friedrich. No combat contacts.
H-Heinrich. No combat contacts.
I-Ida. No combat contacts.




The game ended due to time restrictions before the bombers could return to their now fogged-in airfield, but all agreed it had been a jolly good game.

Maybe other raids – Brest submarine pens, the Tirpitz, the Dambusters raid, etc. will be created for the future, but meanwhile I rest upon my laurels.

*Each turn I, as umpire, drew a “Gremlin” card to randomise damage, change of wind direction or strength, enemy shipping, and other similar effects.

Serendipity and repurposing

It is a well known fact that in our household very few purchases (except food) are used for their intended pupose.  So it was no surprise that when I spotted in the centre aisle of our local Lidl a pack of brown felt pads for the protection of shiny floors against furniture legs for less than 2 pounds/dollars/euros that I snapped them up for potential wargames use.

(I since bought a supplementary pack of beige ones, which have vanished after arriving home.)

The pack has circular pads of 32x10mm, 36x15mm and 48x20mm; square pads of 20x20mm and one sheet 200x200mm.  All are about 2mm thick.

Felt pads. 15mm versions used up.

Coincidentally, within a week I needed to create for the Market Garden campaign a wargaming area of heathland in 6mm.

Some time ago I bought from eBay some Chinese model trees as an alternative to the “flocked bottle brush” type of which I already have plenty.  Examples below.

In the pack were lots of tiny trees which remained in the box for potential future use.

“Aha!” thinks I, “This is my serendipitous moment.”

By twisting the miniscule tree trunks together and pressing them onto to the sticky side of the felt pads I managed to create  clumps of bushes.  The felt underside helps prevent them from being inadvertantly moved against the flocked base terrain hexagons.

I may decide to use my previously described method of coating the bushes with diluted PVA glue and baking in the oven at a low heat to solidify the models, but for the time being they will suffice, when properly placed, interspersed with occasional trees, to represent my heathland.

Battle at Arnhem

18th September 1944.  06:00.  Dawn, Weather: good.

The battle for the Arnhem road bridge continued with elements of 2nd and 3rd Battalions, Parachute Regiment of 1st Brigade, 1st British Airborne Division, combined with the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron holding the northern approaches.

From the west 1st and 11th Battalions of the Parachute Regiment were trying to break through to the bridge to support the defence and to bring much needed  supplies.

On the German side 16th SS Training Battalion, supported by the Bridge Defence Company, were trying to block any reinforcements from the west.

At the same time 1st (armoured) Battalion, 9th SS Panxergrenadiers, attacked from the north-west.

9th SS, aware of the need for speed in cutting off the enemy attack, charged down the road in their half-tracks until the first vehicle was knocked out.  At that point the infantry de-bussed and deployed to attack the enemy in house-to-house combat.

The battle see-sawed back and forth.  The Bridge Defence Company was soon wiped out, but the 16th Battalion kept up the pressure until 9th SS could take up the attack.  The British reinforcements struggled on and made contact, but were soon pushed back, struggling to hold the road to the drop zone.

The artillery of 10th SS Panzer Division began to register, not only again the British paratroopers, but also on the homes of the citizens of Arnhem, as street after street burst into flames and fell into ruins.  This became as much of a hindrance to the Germans’ advance as did the defence of the enemy.

After two hours or so, the British had fallen back to a small perimeter stretching from the bridge approach to the road north of the river.

Continue reading Battle at Arnhem

Between battles

Here is my game board after storing the houses, trees and other super-surface elements, and following deconstruction of the hexagonal tile gaming surface.

Terrain tiles are sorted by type and ready to return to their “Really Useful Boxes”, which will be sorted and organised one day.

Yesterday it looked like this:

And very soon it will represent open farmland, heath and woods with a major road, several minor roads and a railway junction.

I am getting really organised for the future, viz:

These plastic playing card boxes, combined with larger storage boxes, have revolutionised my 6mm game storage.