Saturday, March 27, 2010

Azurnerreich Task Force

As anyone who follows Consimworld's Blitzkrieg board knows, I am a big fan of Avalon Hill's Blitzkrieg. I don't know why - the game itself kinda sucks, actually. But for years now, I've done variants, scenarios and even entire new countersets for it.

Mostly, I think I'm attracted to Blitz because of its historical-yet-science-fiction nature. It's a fictional war in the universe next door between two fictional superpowers who have access to roughly 1950s technology. One can thus play a "historical" kind of war without historical constraints.

The reason I originally bought Cold War Commander and Oddizial Osmy 1/600 miniatures was to play Blitzkrieg. I decided I'd build three armies: Red, Blue and a Neutral Yellow. Red would have Soviet style technology and Blue would have NATO technology. Yellow would be made up of both, plus minor nation stuff. I set an arbitrary limit of 1960 for the equipment because I didn't want to deal with the wide-spread use of anti-tank missiles. Therefore, most equipment is ca. 1955.

Blue - or Azurnerreich - uses Centurions for their main battle tank and German SPW250s and 251s as infantry carriers. They also use Chaffees for recon and French AMX-13s for light tank killers. The Blue Air Force flies F-100 Super Sabres for air superiority and prop-driven Skyraiders for ground support.

Unlike my World War II games, I play CWC Blitzkrieg at the platoon level and half-scale (i.e. 10 cm in the rules are 2 inches on my table).

I've been having a lot of fun dreaming up OoBs for the principal armies and I've decided that Blue will have big, well trained battalions while Red will have smaller, less well trained battalions. This means a Blue battalion should be roughly the equivalent of a Red regiment.

My total Blue force, bought and based so far, amounts to two large battalions of tanks and mechanized infantry, two SPA battalions, a battalion of paratroops and an infantry (motorized) battalion. There are also supporting units: a company of mechanized engineers and two companies of AMX-13s. I'm also going to build a Armored Cavalry "regiment" for Blue (actually am over-sized big battalion).

The following pictures are of my first completed Azurnerreich combined arms task force. It is built around a tank battalion with one company of mech infantry swapped in. Here we have two Centurion companies and a mechanized infantry company (three SPW250-mounted infantry platoons, a mortar platoon and a self-propelled gun platoon). Also attached are a recon platoon and an armored engineer platoon (Centurions fitted with heavy support howitzers and bulldozer blades - I also presume that bridgelayers go with them). Another Centurion company needs to be painted up for this unit to be complete, but it's table-worthy as is.

Task Force Kreuzmann, in its entirety.

Mechanized Infantry company.
Tank Company. 


Task Force Headquarters    

   Chaffee Recon Platoon

Task Force Kreuzmann from another angle.

Following my normal doctrine for 1/600 miniatures, I painted one color and flocked another. Here, the base color of the tanks is blue-gray with tan camouflage stripes. The base is a terracota wash over tan, with flocking built up in three layers: fine yellow towards the middle, green flock towards the margins and spring green static grass in clumps to make it really stand out. I wanted the whole effect to look vaguely Brazilian or tropical and I think I've suceeded at that.

More Azurnerreich will be coming soon, as will the forces of their arch-enemies, Krasnynorad (Big Red).

Re-done Brits

I decided to flock my Brits to the Italian standard and am pleased with the results. Also changed here: the carrier unit is based, as per infantry and guns, on the 25mmx17mm "low visibility" base.

8th Hussars. Yes, I know that's a Daimler and not a Humber
That will be fixed with my next order from PicoArmor.

1st and 5th RTR, plus 7th Brigade HQ

2nd Scotts Guards and 7th Brigade HQ

The entire 7th Brigade, 7th Armored Division, ready for battle!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mighty Eyeties: 132nd Ariete Armored Division, 1941-42

I've finally finished the Ariete for Blitzkrieg Commander. A few changes were made from my plans as detailed in an earlier post. First of all, I've not yet provided Ariete with its engineer or anti-aircraft contingent (a detachment of German 88s are with the division in the meantime). We'll also have to wait until O8 produces some Italian 100mm artillery pieces and gets them off to Picoarmor before I can finish the artillery regiment.

132nd Italian Armored Division, 1941. Each stand represents a company.

Basically, everything's worked out fine. Ariete, as modled here, has two infantry battalions, three M13/40 battalions, an artillery regiment and supporting arms. I should point out that each unit represents roughly a company of 100-200 soldiers, 10-15 tanks, or 8-12 guns. Often, however, there isn't a precise map-over between units. The artillery regiment, for example, had 6 batteries of 4 75mm canons, here represented by 3 game pieces and a Forward Artillery observer. Also, my goal isn't to create a precise copy of the Ariete at any point in time, but a general overview of its capacities - sort of a "universe right next door" version of the Ariete. The division as pictured above thus has a battalion of L3 tankettes, even though these never shared the battlefield with the M13/40s, as far as I know.

The L3s are another issue. Since beginning this project, BKCII has arrived and I've done some further thinking about basing and decided that I will use 25mm x 17mm stands for all low visibility units (basically infantry, guns and support weapons) and 25mm x 25mm stands for everything else. Strictly speaking, then, the L3s should be mounted on the smaller stands and one could argue that the 88mm AAA canons should be mounted on larger stands.

I decided to keep them as-is, however. In the first place, the Italians used - or tried to use - L3 tankettes as if they were by-God tanks. Making them low visibility, in my opinion, would encourage an anti-historic use of them as weak ambushing units. As for the 88mm cannons, big they may well be, but the history of the Desert War is full of examples of British armor getting severely pwned by 88s operating under cover.

Here are some pictures of the painting process. Again, I followed the same recipe as before: base coat of sand, sepia wash, successive dry brushes of lighter sand colors and a final fake drybrushing of Valejo Light Sand, followed by detailing. Also, color flashes are again exageratedly big to help the miniatures stand out:

Flocking the bases for this one was difficult. As readers of this blog know, I flock bases in a different color from the figure's paint job because otherwise 3mm figures blend in too handily with the base. So far, I've been using dark bases set against light paint jobs. This has caused difficulties, however, when it comes to blending into my terrain backdrop: the bases are simply too dark.

This time I tried another tactic. I glued dark flocking near the figures and then added another coat of light yellow flocking around the base's edges. Here and there I laid down some dark green patches, then glued coarse light green flock over those. I'm pretty pleased with the result: the figures still stand out, but the base blends better into the terrain sheet.

Here are some pictures of the final units:

Infantry battalion of the 8th Bersaglieri Regiment

Headquarters of 8th Bersaglieri Regiment and supporting units

Headquarters of 8th Bersaglieri Regiment

Armored Regiment

VIIIth and XIth Armored Battalions

VIIIth Armored Battalion and Armored Regiment HQ