A Tale of 5 Wargamers

Adventures in Wargaming - 5 very boring individuals record their exploits playing with little men. Favoured rules include (but are not limited to) WFB, WH40k & The Horus Heresy (30k), Epic, Bloodbowl, Infinity, Saga & Flames of War
 
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 Flames of War:- 130. Panzer Lehr & 101. Schwere SS

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Supaglue
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PostSubject: Flames of War:- 130. Panzer Lehr & 101. Schwere SS   Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:06 pm





Well, no secret that I have both 2nd and 3rd edition rules of Flames of War and pretty much all the campaign sourcebooks from 2nd ed.

I have been looking to collect armies that fit around one of these sourcebooks.

After a scour through them, the seemingly best one for beginners was the battle for Villers-Bocage. It had a lot of things going for it - it has a relatively simple opening scenario (one Tiger tank vs an entire British Brigade! - Michael Witmann's famous charge), it's late war in Normandy (one of my favourite and most read parts of the war) and it includes army lists for some great regiments (the Panzer Lehr, the 101 Schwere SS Panzer and the British 7th Armoured 'The Desert rats', in which my great uncle served).

So, I've started a Panzer Lehr army with a view to getting the German units to allow us to play the scenarios in the sourcebook. I'm not limiting my troop choices to just the requirements in the scenarios though, I am choosing what I fancy in the actual 2nd ed army lists, and hopefully, most will be a straight match up to the new army list in the Atlantik Wall book in 3rd ed.

Anyway, enough guff:

Panzer Lehr

Formed towards the end of 1943 at Potsdam and fully operational in January 1944 (where it was moved to Hungary), the Panzer Lehr was an elite unit of the Heer (army) from the off. Formed from various crack units across the Wermacht, Panzer Lehr was intended to be a demonstration division that would form both an elite training corp (Lehr means 'to teach') and provide a model blueprint for the rest of the German army.

The troops were all taken from Panzertruppenschule I & II, the Panzerwaffe's teaching cadre, and were some of the most battle hardened and experienced men the German Army could muster, having seen action in almost every theatre of the war to that date.

As befits such a unit, the Lehr were lavishly equipped, with every infantry section mechanized, riding in the latest Sd Kfz half tracks, supported (or in support of) the latest model panzers and assault guns.


To lead all this, only a personality would do and the commission went to Generalleutnant (as I think he was at that point) Fritz Bayerlain, Rommel's Chief of Staff - an able commander who had already received the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves at the time of the commission (and was to go on to add swords to the KC with the Lehr):





The fighting record of the Panzer Lehr was good, but at the point of its formation, the tide was already turning for the Germans and the outfit often found themselves under-resourced, outnumbered and without air superiority (or even air parity! As the Heer's grim saying went "If the RAF fly over - we duck; if the USAAF fly over - everybody ducks; if the Luftwaffe fly over - nobody ducks!").

They fought at the beginning of June 1944 in Normandy alongside 12. SS Hitlerjugend and 101. SS Schwere, mainly against the British and their 7th Armoured Division around Caen. Initially, they were expected to drive the British into the sea, but after very heavy fighting around the killing fields of bocage country, the Lehr were forced to withdraw. Suffering further heavy losses from air attacks during their transport, they were moved to Saint Lo to defend against the US 83rd Infantry Division.

After a week long battle of attrition there, they were forced again to withdraw as the Americans launched Operation Cobra. Seriously depleted and exhausted, the Lehr could not hope to withstand a 140,000-man American assault and they retired for refit at Fontainbleau.

By this point, the division had been severely mauled and had lost much of its combat effectiveness (it only had 20 tanks left).

The division returned in time to fight in the Ardennes through the cold winter of 1944, at the Battle of the Bulge and at Bastogne (see Band of Brothers!).

The Lehr Panzergrenadiers (901/1 Battalion) repeatedly assaulted Bastogne village and would ultimately grind themselves down to a point where they were no longer recognisable as the elite unit that they had been upon formation. There was a final swansong for the Lehr as they retreated to Rochefort and assaulted the town of Dinant (led by Bayerlain himself) but allied air superiority caused hideous casualties. The 101st Airborne then pushed the rest of the Lehr out of Bastogne, leaving the divison all but ground to dust.

The Panxer Lehr was refitted again in the Rhineland in 1945, but with most of the veterans gone, the division was a pale shadow of its former self and it ended up trapped in the Ruhr Pocket and encircled by the US 9th Armoured Division.



So, that's the background, onto the miniatures! So far, I have assembled one (of two) Gepanzerte Panzergrenadier platoons (and a little air support). I had hoped to have more finished before showing them off but with you guys coming down next weekend, I may as well put it up now! Oh well!





The painted stuff:







The men are part of 901. Panzergrenadier. I've painted them quite quickly - I want to get them done and on the table. Because of this, I've not gone into detail like eyes, or things like the green braiding that Panzer Lehr grandiers would have had (TBH, the scale is such (15mm) that to do that detail would probably have obscured the overall effect of the uniform).












Eagle eyed (sad) grognards will notice that a fair few of these men have M1942 jackets on rather than the 'Sturmgeschutz crew' style wrap over smocks. The reason was that this platoon was bought in a bring and buy at Salute and it turned out that it was a mixed bag of men! I'm not too bothered about it because this is a second platoon. The first is in full Lehr fatigues, so it's nice to get a few little differences between them to be able to tell them apart!

Also, by June '44, resources were becoming pinched for the Axis and it was starting to be a case of make do, so it's not inconceivable that the platoon has mixed and matched equipment. In addition, looting was not uncommonn and soldiers often embellished/improved their kit with whatever they could find, even if you were in a disciplined division like the Lehr. It could also be possible that stragglers split up from other divisions have tagged along.


The plane is a Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bomber, made famous from it's success as a whistling 'terrror-from-above' during the Blitzkrieg in the early stages of the war. By June 1944 however, the Junkers was becoming antiquated and their production had been wound down. Almost all of the remaining Stukas had been sent to the Eastern Front as anti-tank in a vain attempt to cope with Operation Bagration - the Soviets' first major offensive.

There is no evidence to suggest that Stukas had any involvement with the fight for Caen and Villers-Bocage, however I have seen some records that show a number of Junkers kills claimed by the USAAF on 6th June 1944, around the Chartres area.

It seems that Einsatzstaffel I./SG 103 were still operational and flying Ju 87s in France at that time and were involved in dogfights with American forces around Orlean to the South East, so it would not be unimaginable that a Stuka, with an operational range of about 300 miles, could have found (lost?!) its way (precariously, given allied air superiority!) to help out the Panzer Lehr with a couple of strafes as it passed!

There are also records of orders for Junkers 87s of SG 103 to attend forward bases in Normandy (only one plane made it apparently!) and a Lt Douglas of the 8th USAAF reported fighting with a Ju 87 formation near to a beach head in Normandy (unfortunately, Douglas was shot down and killed later that day and the engagement remains unconfirmed as far as I can see), so my plane stays!

I've not been able to find markings for SG.103 in the sources I have. I'll keep looking though. Also, I bought the plane off ebay and it was already basecoated and decaled (I just added microset to reduce the silvering and hide the edging). I've just weathered, based and tidied it up (the canopy, annoyingly, has been blobbed with paint a bit. I've tried getting it off but it's a bugger to shift. It looks ok on the tabletop though.








(it's also worth noting that in FoW, it is the convention to use model planes at 1:144 scale rather than 1:100 (15 mill). This is to help keep some room on the table! This model is by Zvezda and is 1:144).


So, next when this lot is done:


The first platoon:




And: Tiger Marsch! Michael Wittman and the highly feared 101 Schwere SS Panzerabteilung!

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PostSubject: Re: Flames of War:- 130. Panzer Lehr & 101. Schwere SS   Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:06 pm

Just a quick note of how I painted the miniatures and did the base - there's nothing worse than taking a break from a project and then forgetting how i did the bloody thing when I go back to it!

First off, I took the figures I wanted for a particular base. I took the plastic base and applied a thin layer of tile adhesive (available from B&Q for a fiver in a huge pot!) onto the top, after scoring the base in criss-crosses to help the adhesive grip.

I then took each model, super glued the model's base and pushed each one into the adhesive, smoothing the adhesive over the figure's base.

I then gently pushed into the adhesive on the base, a coarse sand mix. In hindsight, it may be an idea to add a coating of PVA too to help hold the sand,as the adhesive can be quite crumbly before it is sealed:





Then the whole thing is undercoated with black spray (no photo needed!).

Next comes the basecoating. All that is needed is the block foundation colour neatly where it should be. It may still look quite rough at this stage, but so long as everything is covered in the right colour, things will be fine! The colours are as follows:

Uniform - German Fieldgrey (Vallejo 830) - there seems to be a fair bit of debate about what colour Feldgrau actually was - it certainly varied throughout the war from an olive colour to an almost slate grey! I like this vallejo attempt!

Webbing & boots - Black - Yes, i know some ammo pouches and the Brotbag should really be a brown, but I like the overall impact of all black webbing - I don't want to start muting things more with various brown shades.

Helmet - basecoated only with German Camo Beige (Vallejo 103) - that's all at this stage, the camo pattern comes later.

Skin - Kislev flesh

Wood areas (gun stocks, handles, etc) - GW's XV-88

Metal areas/guns - a very fine drybrush of GW's chainmail - just enough to pick out the detail (but still keep the gun more black than silver)

The ground/mud - Dark Earth (Vallejo Air 29)

it should look something like this:



Then comes the Army Painter dip (gently stirred - not shaken!). I tend to paint it on heavily and then go back over with the brush and remove obviously big puddles of it as they form - you have to be quick though as Army Painter goes sticky and unworkable very quickly. Leave it 24 hours and it should look like this:

(To be continued!!)>>>
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PostSubject: Re: Flames of War:- 130. Panzer Lehr & 101. Schwere SS   Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:08 pm

Nice. Another project!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Flames of War:- 130. Panzer Lehr & 101. Schwere SS   Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:09 pm

Someone has been busy! I do like the look of the FoW stuff
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PostSubject: Re: Flames of War:- 130. Panzer Lehr & 101. Schwere SS   Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:09 pm

Really nice scale figures, big enough to keep some character and detail but small enough to be much quicker to paint

I think you inspired Sam with this post as he has started to assemble his British platoon...
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PostSubject: Re: Flames of War:- 130. Panzer Lehr & 101. Schwere SS   Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:10 pm

Ah cool - some Tommies to fight!

Sam, get yerself (or get your dad to prise open that heavily padlocked wallet of his) some Army Painter Strong Tone dip (or the Dark Tone might be good with brown uniforms) - saves loads of time and looks good on this scale.

Or just wash everything in argthrax mud wash from GW (or whatever the kids are calling it today) and gently drybrush the basecoat and a highlight over it.
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PostSubject: Re: Flames of War:- 130. Panzer Lehr & 101. Schwere SS   Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:10 pm

Right, been slacking on the forum for a bit, sorry. I've had these done but not got around to snapping them:

Every self respecting Panzer Lehr Panzergrenadier needs some mechanized transport:





The Plastic Soldier Company SD.KFZ 250/Cs. The Lehr seem to have had a mixture of 250/Cs and Ds, so these are fine. I got them off ebay ready made and basecoated a middlestone-ish (vallejo 882), with dark green tiger stripes.

They were pretty well done, TBH (although the 5 I have for the second platoon, I'll do with an airbrush to blur/stipple the stripes a little), but they were pretty bright and looked 'painted'. They were also decaled with Hungarian badging, so that all had to come off.

I decided to dirty them up quite a lot with various washes (Argax Earthshade mostly), a graphite pencil (although the lead effect sometimes catches the light and looks shiny as on some of these pictures, the effect it gives IRL is a dull, unburnished metal colour that you just can't get with paint), and pigments.

I was looking to put a bit of scrub or foliage on them, a bit like this:



...so I used some Woodland Scenics fine leaf foliage and painted it various greens to suit.


There's a really good website that shows loads of old original pics highlighting Lehr tac, recognition and ID insignia plates. I was initially going to do it all correctly but at this scale, it's too fussy and time consuming, so I've just gone for the Balkan Kreuz and vehicle numbers....:




...and I've just plumped for the Lehr regiment insignia (the key shaped 'L') on the back hatch. Not completely accurate, but it looks decent for my purposes:




Finally, I dirtied up the tracks with some mud pigments and the hull with some scorched brown on a citadel packaging sponge to dapple dirt about the place. Seems to have come out reasonably well.




I would also like to find some decals that will do for license registration plates similar to those on the front of this:


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PostSubject: Re: Flames of War:- 130. Panzer Lehr & 101. Schwere SS   Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:11 pm

Next up, an objective piece or a bit of extra scenery/fluff - a bogey chassis used to carry the dreaded 88mm flak guns:







Another ebay purchase! I've kept it relatively clean looking as the bogey's tended to be used for transport and then hidden with scrimmage (as above) when unlimbered. You can see the Balkankreuz and Lehr markings on it.
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PostSubject: Re: Flames of War:- 130. Panzer Lehr & 101. Schwere SS   Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:12 pm

I've also not had the opportunity to show off my Salute purchase from this year - a three storey town house, ready painted, from the very impressive Adrian's Walls


Their pre-painted scenery is excellent for the price, as you can see below. I do have a cafe sign that I'm going to attach to this, just to personalise it a little. I'm also lining up some other houses from them in the near future:








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PostSubject: Re: Flames of War:- 130. Panzer Lehr & 101. Schwere SS   Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:16 pm

Looks great. Are those building a bit pricey though considering how many you would need? Learn the rules and you can teach us all sometime!
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PostSubject: Re: Flames of War:- 130. Panzer Lehr & 101. Schwere SS   Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:16 pm

That one was £25 - I suppose you only need as many houses as you want to use, sort of thing. I was planning on getting three or four, gradually, just to make a street.

The plan is to get the miniatures I need for both sides of the Villers-Bocage campaign book, which is beginner friendly and to GM you guys through it. Maybe another year to get the Brits as well!
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PostSubject: Re: Flames of War:- 130. Panzer Lehr & 101. Schwere SS   Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:16 pm

Just to prove that I'm not neglecting everything other than 30k, I've done very small bit on the Lehr recently:

A Leutnant (platoon command) stand and a panzerschrek crew:





The Leutnant stand has the option (in the Villers Bocage list) of a panzerfaust for +5pts. I've done a separate model for that on a 5p that I can add if I take the upgrade. He's almost finished, as is the second panzerfaust team. There's basically one team for every 10 men (2 bases).


Finally, the new additions against some more of the Adrian's Walls buildings I've picked up. I was chatting to the man himself at Salute and he offered me his ex-display houses for a fantastic deal, so I bit his arm off! He also, kindly, said to get in touch with him if there was anything else I was after and he would see if he could do me a deal. Big difference from GW and highly recommended!


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