Monday, 21 April 2014

Medieval Siege Castle Pics

Here are some photos of Marks's Medieval siege castle, now painted up & varnished.

This was done with an airbrush and some ink washes plus minimal highlighting to pick out some of the details.

The model took around 2 hrs to complete from cleaning up to varnishing so a little bit longer than I had anticipated originally!

The scrub was added last and just adds that bit more detail to the model.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Dettingen Wargame

The battle of Dettingen; the wargame

It looked a little bit like this

Russ is putting the pictures from Good Fridays game on CD before I post the AAR.  However, I thought I would give a taster of the action.  Russ and Mark played very well and had to put up with historical incidents that were out of their control but made the game very tense.  As it happened historically, George II gained enough prestige points to secure the Hanoverian dynasty, the British infantry deployed their devastating firepower and the French cavalry were spectacular but doomed.  A famous British victory was gained and the French CinC could blame a subordinate for the failure of his ingenius plan.

This happened!
More to follow when I have the pics.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Battle Report : Dyhernfurth Raid (5 Feb 1945)

An interesting battle which saw a small German force sneak over the Oder to allow their scientists time to dispose of the secret chemical weapon Tabun.  The Central Russians at the time were over-extended and the brief lull convinced the German High Command that such a raid was possible.

The small hamlet of Dyhernfurth had little to attract Soviet attention - save a bridge over the Oder and a castle which yielded a major cache of wine (which the garrison allocated to the castle soon took advantage of).  But the main prize was a chemical plant at the end of a railway track.

The German commander (General Shakespeare) was charged with holding open the routes of escape (the bridge and / or the hamlet) while the scientists dumped the Tabun in a local stream.  The Germans had to give the scientists time to complete their task, then hightail it over the Oder.

The Russians (Ian and Russ) had no real idea about this - they just knew that the Germans had - for some reason - counter-attacked in their sector and they were charged with chucking the Germans back over (and finding out why the Germans had attacked here).

Mark laid out his forces first.  He had a hefty AA battery armed with (amongst others) an 88mm which would blat anything in range.  He could bring his armour (4 Panthers) on at one of 2 points (bridge or village).  The bridge was weakened though and there was a risk that any heavy vehicle could actually bring down the bridge as it crossed.  He actually decided not to cross at all - meaning that the bridge was essentially safe but his two infantry battalions would be on their own.

He also decided to move the force that had taken the hamlet overnight would abandon it and help the battalion holding the chemical works.  However, this meant that one objective would be unguarded.  This proved to be crucial at the close.

The Russians started in the castle (nursing hangovers), in the village of Kranz at the far east of the map, by the railway station at the north of the map and coming down the road from Selfersdorf.

Ian's forces were the main body coming down the road and the tanks coming down the railway tracks. Russ was the Kranz force and the castle garrison.  Ian immediately turned towards the chemical works as Russ' Kranz force (mainly JS 2's) also headed for the chemical works.

View from the east - railway bridge to the left

Mark had to start shooting at both forces and hid in the woods and chemical works - forcing Ian and Russ to close assault.  The JS2's were devastating against infantry but Mark did manage to get a couple of the beasts in the process - as well as the supporting units of tank riders.  But under the pressure of two Soviet tank battalions Mark was being pushed back.  His supporting force never really got close enough.

Ian and Russ' pincer movement on the chemical works
After wearing down the Chemical Works Germans for some time, Ian finally got into a position to close assault (although he and Russ lost a few units going in).  Indeed, Russ' JS2's were close to breaking.

Ian's tank riders get a nasty surprise
Mark's Relief Force found itself in no mans land as Ian's second force of T34's and tank riders came down the road and sandwiched them neatly into the woods between the road and railway track.  Unable to come out for fear of being caught in the open, they still managed to bump off a surprising number of tank riding infantry in the process.

Russ takes the woods 
The Kranz battalion finally cleared the Chemical Works woods and focused on the works themselves.  Mark proved a hard nut to crack and nearly managed to hold off both forces but in the end the Germans were liquidated.

Where did the Russian infantry go?
Mark did manage to polish off Ian's tank riders and were pretty safe for the time being (as all Ian's infantry were engaged in taking the chemical works).  But should Russ come out of the castle and attack the hamlet, the Russians could secure at least a minor victory.  But Russ needed a 5 or 6 to change orders.

Ian gets another nasty surpise
The Panthers then showed their teeth as Ian got close to the bridge.  He lost a T34 immediately and was forced to halt and hide to avoid losing the battalion completely).  The chemical works had now fallen so he swung his tanks around to threaten Mark's relief force (although I don't remember the order change...).

Adding to Mark's woes.
Mark then had a partial victory snatched away as Russ rolled a 6 and instigated an order change just in time.  His drunken troops rushed out of the castle to take the hamlet.  Mark could not get back in time - nor could he risk leaving the trees.  So Russ took the hamlet unopposed.

The bridge was kept safe, though no-one would be crossing it from either side.


If Mark had risked his Panthers (e.g. coming through the hamlet) he would have mauled Ian's second T34 force and also accounted for a number of his main force.  Similarly if he'd crossed the bridge he could have taken on the Kranz force of JS2's - a bloody encounter to be sure but it probably would have saved the chemical works.

Keeping his relief force in the hamlet would have denied it to the Russians (it is doubtful that an infantry charge alone would have been enough.

But there were many permutations and as Mark commented, what made the scenario so good was that neither side knew the strength or position of the other.  Rather than in the Spearhead scenario books (where you know exactly what to expect) ignorance of the plans and composition of the opposing force makes for a much more enjoyable experience.  Food for thought!

The trees. The beautiful trees.

I have not been idle while on holiday.  One project I have set myself is to improve our quality of scenery by increasing the number of trees at our disposal.  Thanks to Ebay and the Chinese I have secured a large number of trees (mainly fir), based and flocked them and they are now ready to use.

Only 3 varieties - single deciduous, triple pine, double pine

These will help provide the foliage for most theatres (Russia, Western Europe, Medieval Japan etc.) as well as the American ACW and AWI battlefields.

About 50% of the goodies

Forest in a box
 There are another 300 trees to come (roughly 150 bases) meaning that we should have around 450 bases of trees for use - more than enough I would have thought.

I still need to create some flat forest bases to sit these on but it should mean that in the future our forests will look like forests rather than a sparse copse!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Battle of Dettingen (part II)

Battle of Dettingen (part II)

George II poses before joining in the fight!
In January 1743 with the European situation worsening, George joined his army and loudly proclaimed his mission to uphold the Pragmatic Sanction.  Shortly thereafter, the army wandered out of the Lowlands following the north bank of the Rhine.  Bemoaned by the Dutch and harangued by the Austrians, the army dawdled further into Germany. Its movements were hamstrung between George's public intent to look the military hero riding to Maria Theresa's rescue, and his real intention of keeping the army handy to defend Hanover.

At Mainz the Rhine turns south and so the Pragmatic Army turns along the river River Main, the Rhine's most important tributary.  This is the direct route through Frankfurt and into Northern Bavaria, from where a Franco-Bavarian army is operating against the Austrians in Bohemia.

Meanwhile, another French army, under the Duc de Noailles, is shadowing on the southern bank.  Noailles, arch courtier and capable general, is waiting for an opportunity to pounce on the rudderless Allies.  George, who openly favours his Hanoverian generals, has angered Lord Stair, who has retired to his carriage in a sulk.  The Austrian generals despair of a proper plan and lack of supplies is eroding discipline amongst the rank and file.

On 27th June 1743, Noailles sees his chance and pushes a corp across the river at Aschaffenburg just to the east of Dettingen.  Blocked ahead and flanked by wooded hills and a river, George is forced to accept ignominious retreat.

But can Noailles force the issue and bring on the collapse of the Pragmatic Army?

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Battle of Dettingen (part I)

Battle of Dettingen (part I)

George II inspects the Pragmatic Army.

By the summer of 1742, 18 months after Frederick launched his invasion of Silesia, the British  landed an army at Ostend.  Lord Stair, the C in C, wanted to march on Paris  but at this stage of the war neither France or Britain were officially at war.  Their involvement, in the international legal terminology of the day, is as "auxiliaries" to the main belligerents, Prussia and Bavaria on one side and Austria on the other.

The Dutch, who were also auxiliaries, were helping to fund the Pragmatic Army but were not contributing troops.  They wanted the army to stay in the Austrian Netherlands and protect their borders from possible French aggression.  The Austrians were urging that the army moves against Bavaria and relieve the enormous pressure they were under defending Bohemia.

However, the overall leader of the army, George II, was most concerned about his electorate Hanover.  His nephew, Frederick of Prussia, bordered the electorate and both of them hated each other.  Therefore, George was secretly negotiating with France and Prussia to guarantee Hanover's neutrality and was keeping the Pragmatic Army ready to aid his beloved electorate but in public, he was calling for more help for Maria Theresa.

Whilst George dithered with his diplomacy, the army was left to moulder for 6 months.

Monday, 14 April 2014

War of the Austrian Succession (part III)

War of the Austrian Succession (part III)

To round off my introduction to this war I thought an overview of the main states and their leaders would put into context the series of battles we will be playing.


Louis XV; the weak King of a powerful state.

France is the dominant power in Europe.  Well populated and with an efficient bureaucracy it can field huge armies.  Its colonial territories and overseas trade challenges Britain and its Bourbon dynastic ambitions are a direct threat to Austria.  However, Louis XV, the most absolute ruler in Europe, is ruled by his mistresses and easily bored by the demands of running his state.  France is not neccessarily looking to increase its territory in Europe but is determined to ensure its dominance is unchallenged.


Maria Theresa; One hell of a mother!

Austria is used to being the dominant state in Germany and Italy and its head expects to be the Holy Roman Emporer.  Maria Theresa is Arch-Duchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary but her fathers death has robbed her of her expectation of the Imperial throne and France has taken the opportunity of backing Bavaria's claim.  Seemingly attacked on every border her first instinct is to preserve the inheritance of her father for her children.  Poorly educated and inexperienced she surprises everyone with her iron determination to wreak vengeance on her enemies.


Philip V of Spain; A Frenchman ruled by his wife.

Spain is probably the most aggressive state in Europe during the eighteenth century as it tries to win back the power it lost in the seventeenth century.  Its decline is not apparent until the Napoleonic wars.  However, it struggles to maintain an independent foreign policy from its fellow Bourbon state, France and is in continual colonial dispute with Britain.  Austria's weakness has given it an opportunity to reassert it's control of Italy where it already has another Bourbon client in the King of Naples, the son of Philip V.  However, what gives an added steel to Spain's foreign policy is the Queen of Spain.  She is Philip's second wife and her children will not inherit the Spanish throne and so she is determined to conquer kingdoms for them in Italy.  She is of the Farnese family who have produced mistresses to the pope, generals for many states and Princes that have schemed against all; she will brook no opposition to the advancement of her boys!


Frederick the not yet great.

Prussia is the most powerful and militarised state within the Holy Roman Empire.  Historically constrained by Austria, its new King Frederick sees an opportunity to advance Prussia to the rank of a first class power.  His seizure of Silesia has triggered the war and his sole object is to hold onto this prize.  Allied with France he hopes Britain will force Austria to agree to this conquest so that the Austrians will concentrate against France.

Piedmont Sardinia

Charles Emmanual III; one of a long line of cunning Italians.

Piedmont-Sardinia straddles the Italian northwestern Alps.  Like Prussia it seeks to achieve first rank power status by dominating the Italian peninsular.  However it has to maintain a precarious balance between the demands of Austria, France and Spain none of whom it wants to see expand its power.  Charles Emmanuel is seen as slippery as he successively plays one power off against another for maximum gain.

Great Britain

George II of Great Britain and Prince Elector of the Holy Roman Empire
Great Britain is the up and coming power in Europe and is determined to dominate world trade.  Already at war with Spain in the Americas it is set for a colonial collision with France.  Its chief objective in Europe is to keep a balance of power to enable it a free hand overseas.  Austria's weak position has removed a counter balance to France.  Therefore Britain will support the Pragmatic Sanction and funds an army to aid Maria Theresa.  George II as King of Britain and elector of Hannover loudly supports Maria Theresa's claims and sets himself up as her champion.  However, secretly, he is trying to broker a neutrality for his beloved Hannover with Prussia and France behind the backs of his ministers.  This is risky as the Hannoverians are not well liked in Britain as only their Protestantism is compensates for them being foreign!


New castle from |JR miniatures

I will be up on Thursday where are we doing it


Friday, 11 April 2014

War of the Austrian Succession (part II)

War of the Austrian Succession (part II)

Bergen-op-Zoom in the Netherlands is representative of the fortifications of the period.  Armies could not manoeuvre and ignore such places and so sieges are an important part of this war.

As part of the build up to Dettingen I thought it would be helpful to outline the main areas of fighting during this war.

Topography of the War

There are three main "cockpits" in this war, which generally dominate all European Wars right up until the twentieth century.  In common, they are the friction points between the great powers, they are the main avenues by which the great powers can move their armies against each other and they are the economic hot spots of Europe at this time, and so perversely, great armies can afford to fight in these areas.  They are valuable real estate that everyone wants and cannot allow their enemies to hold!

The Rhineland, Bavaria and Bohemia

This is the main avenue by which France and the Habsburgs get at each other and it is also the theatre in which Prussia operates.  It is the heart of this and most European conficts; the other two "cockpits" are dominated by events in this theatre.  All members of the Holy Roman Empire are sensitive to who dominates this area and it is why Bavaria is repeatedly the most important ally of France.  Their are mountains, rivers and great forests which can impede the movement of armies but they can also give a false sense of security; the terrain is often an important factor in battles but it never seems to prevent the movement of an aggressive army.

Northern Italy and the valley of the Po.

500 miles to the south of Bohemia is the great plain of northern Italy.  Stretching from the border with France at Genoa to Venice on the Adriatic, it is bounded by the Alps to the North and the river Po to the south.  Home to Europe's reborn civilisation, it is still at this point in history, the main industrial hub for luxury products and services.  The terrain is largely flat but filled with rivers and intensive agriculture and studded by several important fortified cities.  Piedmont Sardinia is the local power but must play off Bourbon against Habsburg to maintain its precarious power and influence.  Spain has been the traditional overlord of Italy but lost its pre-eminence in the War of the Spanish Succession.  Spain now sees its chance to seize back territories whilst Austria is weak.

The Low Countries.

Four hundred miles to the west of Bohemia lies the strategically important area of the Dutch and Austrian Netherlands.  Sandwiched between the Holy Roman Empire, France and Great Britain, it is split between the Dutch Republic in the north and the Austrian Netherlands (approximately the same as present day Belgium) in the south, it equated to a neutral zone between the great powers.  The Habsburgs administered it, the Dutch garrisoned its many fortifications and the British made sure that no one controlled and developed its ports.  It was the main access route for British trade into Europe and its proximity to Paris and London made both powers especially anxious that neither dominated it.  Largely flat, intensively farmed, good roads and excellent water borne communications made this area especially useful for the movement and feeding of huge armies.  However, for these reasons all sides had spent the previous centuries constructing and developing the most sophisticated fortifications in the world, and campaigns and battles were dominated by these all important fortresses.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Saterday 05/04/14

Principals of war
French (boo) against British (Huzza)
A wise man once told me that the secret to POW as well as all war game rules is to guard your flanks
what follows is a total disregard of those wise words

Pictures are in no specific order

The Plan
The battle field was cut in half by steep hill with a large wood joined to one side and a town opposite .
the British decided to garrison the town and attack on the right, cavalry was to the left of town as flank guard and behind the town (as guarding nobody)
the attack on the right went in and the French flanked  with cavalry and started to roll up the line
The nobody guard rushed over and pushed back the French cavalry but the damage was done
and the British line crumbled.
The French attack was from their right which found the British garrison to tough a nut to crack
Honours to the French and a coffee and biscuit meeting at Horse guards for the British CO

Frustrating but enjoyable
thanks Ian

Monday, 7 April 2014

War of the Austrian Succession

The War of the Austrian Succession 1740 - 1748

Europe in 1740 on the eve of the War of the Austrian Succession.  Red areas are ruled by members of the Bourbon family whilst blue areas are ruled by the Habsburgs.  The Holy Roman Empire is ruled over by a Habsburg emperor but the individual members do not necessarily have any allegiance to the Habsburgs but are supposed to be loyal to the emperor.  The Habsburgs hold onto the Imperial throne as long as they have a male heir.
Right, where to begin with this one!  I thought a brief explanation of this most complicated of wars would be useful before putting on the first of the battles involving the Army of the Pragmatic Sanction so I shall try and explain the political situation of Europe in 1740.

The Reason for War

Europe is dominated by two loose dynastic camps; the Bourbons and the Habsburgs.  Both are driven to increase and maintain their own power and prestige whilst limiting and reducing that of their competitor.  In addition are other other powers like Britain, which wants a stable Europe whilst it develops it's overseas empire and Prussia which wants to increase its power in Germany; but they operate within a Europe dominated by this Bourbon/Habsburg power struggle.

At the end of the Austro-Turkish war in 1739 (remember Banja Luka) the Habsburgs look weak but the emperor's position is maintained through prestige.  Unfortunately in 1740 he dies and his heir is a woman, Maria Theresa!  He has spent the previous 20 years getting the whole of Europe to sign up to the Pragmatic Sanction which would secure his daughter's succession.  Everyone, for a price, has signed up but with the Habsburg state looking weak and no-one really taking the Pragmatic Sanction seriously there is a sharp intake of breath as all the European states wait to see what happens next.

Enter Frederick (the not yet great) king of Prussia.  He has just ascended to the throne on the death of his father and at 28 he is looking to cut a dash on the European scene.  He offers to protect Maria Theresa's inheritance by invading Silesia, her richest province, and guaranteeing its security by incorporating it within Prussia!  Maria Theresa, angry that an elector of the Holy Roman Empire would go back on his agreements with her father, cobbles together an army under Marshal Neipperg (whom she has released from prison for his disastrous performance against the Turks - and whom we meet again at Dettingen) and is promptly beaten by the Prussians.

At that point all Maria Theresa's enemies sense that the Habsburg state is about to collapse and make their demands.  The Bavarian elector, who is married to the daughter of the previous emporer claims he has a stronger right to the imperial dignity.  Crucially, the French see this as a chance to destroy the Habsburgs once and for all and Louis XV backs the Bavarian claim.  Saxony sees an opportunity to gain territory and joins the alliance, and so does Frederick keen to support an Emperor who will legitimise his robbery of Silesia.  At the same time Bourbon Spain sees a chance to expand it's power in Italy and sends an army to seize chunks of Habsburg territory.

It doesn't look good for Maria Theresa.  However, she does have an ally in George II King of Great Britain and Elector of Hannover.  As Elector he hates Prussia and sees it as a threat to Hannover's position within the Empire.  As King he is already at war with Spain in a colonial conflict in the Americas, and he is fearful that a Spanish/French Bourbon compact would threaten Britain's increasingly dominant overseas power.  Britain, therefore, patches together an alliance of German princelings and fields an auxiliary army called the Army of the Pragmatic Sanction to defend Maria Theresa.  Thus, we begin here with our first battle, Dettingen.

I hope this helps set the scene.  I will post some more entries outlining the topography of the conflict and the main personalities involved.  If you find this helpful let me know.


Friday, 4 April 2014

Invisible tanks

Apparently it wasn't just the Americans at Salerno who had invisible tanks....


Spear head Thursday night
Americans V Germans in Italy

Good battle played out in a fine spirit American numbers clinching it at the end