Monday, July 6, 2009

The game - Will's view

Well Gauntlet is over for another year and all the attendees seem to have enjoyed themselves.

I only took pictures of the SOTCW game at the show other pictures will appear over on the Deeside Defenders site shortly

. I produced all the terrain with the exception of the excellent terraced hills by Richard Crawley. The bunker above Vietri was Richards as well, it is rather over sized, but it would have been a shame not to have used it.

The high point must have been the random event air strike that succeeded in taking out a Panzer IIIN. These random events could occur during the normal turn sequence, but a card could be drawn and played by a passer-by in return for a small donation to charity. Andrew paid for two cards and drew a pair of air strikes. The first was driven off, but the second dropped two bombs, both on target and both gave a destroyed result.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Little Time Left

Not long to go now.  I have to get the hill above Vietri finished and I'm wrestling between the prospect of spending the evening applying sand and glue and consuming a large amount of cheap Californian red wine. 

Think I'll put Millie to bed and see how I feel afterwards....


Just beyond the Chiunzi pass is the town of Pagani on the mail road to Vietri/Salerno


More pre-game reconnaisance, this time the village of Dragonea

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

HG at Salerno

Some extracts from Salerno— A Defender’s View By Winfried Heinemann Army History Spring 2008

..."While the major Allied force did indeed land along the plain south of Salerno, light troops attacked into the mountains west of Salerno. U.S. Rangers first captured the coastal village of Maiori, and British Commandos took Vietri. Both then qickly ascended the dorsal mountain rdge of the Sorrento Peninsula, wresting control of a section of the ridge from the Germans and seizing the heights overlooking the Naples-Salerno road, along which mechanized reinforcements would have to pass. The Germans had not anticipated any assault on these heights and had left the area virtually undefended. Part of their counterattack would now have to be diverted to regain control of the mountainous Sorrento Peninsula.

General Balck’s XIV Panzer Corps reacted by ordering its Hermann Göring Panzer Division to advance into the area, with its armored reconnaissance battalion sent in advance of the main body to operate under the 16th Panzer Division’s command until the headquarters of the Hermann Göring Division reached the area. In particular, the reconnaissance battalion was to stop the Allied advances from Maiori and Vietri. Now, this was no easy task for an armored unit, as the ridge rises steeply on both sides to heights of
over 1,000 meters (some 3,300 feet) above sea level, and the roads were narrow, winding, and difficult to negotiate—ideal terrain for Rangers and Commandos, but not for tanks, especially tanks hampered once again by fuel constraints.17

By about noon, the battalion’s advanced elements established contact with the 16th Panzer Division’s organic reconnaissance element, the 16th Reconnaissance Battalion,
north of the ridge at Nocera, about 13 kilometers (8 miles) northwest of Salerno, as the latter battalion had been pushed that far back during the morning. The Hermann Göring Division’s reconnaissance battalion then tried to dislodge the Rangers
from the ridge south of Nocera but throughout the entire day failed to do so. The push along the road toward the town of Salerno ended at Cava de Tirreni, four or five kilometers north of the objective.18 To reinforce this battalion, the XIV Panzer Corps tasked Col. Wilhelm Schmalz, the Hermann Göring Division’s deputy commander, with forming a regimental-size combat team to assist the 16th Panzer
Division.19 As this would leave the Hermann Göring sector weakened in the face of a possible subsequent Allied landing further north, the corps ordered the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division to send replacements from the Rome area.20"...

..."During the day, the main body of the Hermann Göring Panzer Division arrived in the area between Naples and Salerno, concentrating around Nocera. As the 16th Panzer
Division’s armored reconnaissance battalion was already fighting in that area, Vietinghoff placed it under the Hermann Göring Division’s operational control."...

..."Another change in German command arrangements was implemented on 12 September. The Hermann Göring Panzer Division was relieved of responsibility for the Gulf
of Naples and told to concentrate on winning the battle for the heights north of Maiori and Vietri. The division managed to take and hold the heights above Vietri despite murderous naval gunfire. The 16th Panzer Division’s reconnaissance
battalion, still operating as part of the Hermann Göring Division, pushed south to within two kilometers of Salerno, but it too encountered increasing Allied resistance during the afternoon.32"....

Monday, June 29, 2009


Recent reconnaissance flight over the town.

I will now move on and base up the my remaining new buildings as Dragonea and Pagani. I'll just use my older ones for Nocera Inferiore and Superiore.


Recent reconnaisance flight over the town.

Cava de Tirreni

Recent reconnaissance flight over the village

Herman Goering division mustering

Allied intelligence sources have identified units of the Herman Goering FJ Panzer Division in the Naples plain to the north of the landing beaches.

Spotted are an Aufklarungs battalion (right) Panzer grenadier battalion (front) backed by two Panzer companies and panzer Jaeger company AA and an artillery battalion.

If any members have any exact details of the HG organisation on this date please add a comment
Some input from Neil on the HG orbat for Salerno link

Interesting to see Panzer III's in the line up

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Here are some pics of the hills I've done for the game.  To be honest they look better in real life than they do in the photos.

The first pic shows the full set of completed hills with sand texture added but before painting.

Next a few pictures of the completed hills with the Ranger Cannon Company for scale.  You also get a chance the see the Crawley family's new hall carpet.  You lucky people. 

The dry-stone retaining walls of the terraces took ages to build.  I'd be quite happy never to handle cat litter again!

The Allies are up to something!!

Spotted on a reconnaissance flight over Sicily
Initial estimate is 3 x LCA; 2 x LCVP; 2 x DUKW and 8 x LCM
Hopefully enough for the game

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Buildings of Salerno

Here are the buildings I've just finished for the game. Like most of my buildings they are built as modules each mostly 12cm x 6cm with a few 6cm square.

Construction is foamcore with Wills pantile tiles for the roofs. I started with the very basic rectangular buildings but I really prefer the second wave where I split the building 1:2 as they look far less monolithic

The next step is to try and create some scenic village bases to place these on. Typically I'll place 3/4 buildings in each location.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Hills of Salerno

Inspired by "Alcal"on The Guild wargamers' forum, I decided to have a go at building some Italian style hills with dry stone walled terraces.  The plan is to have enough to do all of the hills we need for the game with the exception of the Chiunzi Pass feature that Will has already started.

The hills are built on hardboard bases.  First I chamfer the edges and then glue on layers of expanded polystyrene using PVA glue.

Then the retaining walls are built up.  These use large pieces of cat litter and gravel attached to a bed of "grab adhesive" (something like No More Nails brand).

Then the surface texture is added by gluing on sand with PVA.  Painting and static grassing will follow.

As I say, this is enough hills for the game except that I'll need to add one more for the gun battery hill above Vietri.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Some more mortars

Will has already built two nice models of US 4.2" Chemical Mortars but we need a grand total of four  for the game.  Here are a couple of very simple scratch-built ones I've produced to make up the numbers.  They are very much in the style of the late John Sanders whose articles on modelling the 8th Army in Airfix Magazine played a large part in getting me in to wargaming in the first place.

They're just placeholders really, to show the location of our second Chemical Mortar Company.  If they ever need to fight at close quarters we'll need to add a few more crew figures. 

The figures are from the Hasegawa Willys jeep set and all of the rest is scratch-built on bases made from old mini CD-ROMs.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Buildings for the game

Here is my progress to date on the buildings for the Gauntlet game, I still plan to add a number of others so suggestions are welcomed. I plan to use 2-3 for each of the villages.

They are all based on a 60mm x 120mm footprint and built with foamcore and the roofing is the Will's Finecast pantile roofing.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

15 minutes in Maori

OK, well I just managed to get to Maori, the US Rangers landing beach, from Sorrento. I would have liked to get to Vietri, but that would have been another hour there and at least that back again and combined with the road works I decided not to risk it.

First a couple of views from further along the coast at Ravello (above Amalfi)

It certainly gives a good impression of the terrain involved, very steep terraced slopes

And closer from the bus

Maori beach looking east

Looking inland, up the river, which is now covered over on most of the main street, up towards the Chiunzi pass

Looking west.

Compared to the other beaches/harbours further to the west this is large and seems to be more gently shelving with less rocks.

Most of the town centre was washed away in floods in the 1950's so the whole front has been rebuilt in 60's styling

Once you get away from the terracing the hills are mainly covered in beech woods or coppiced sweet chestnuts, which are quite dense/impenetrable. Higher again you get rock/scrub vegetation

Thursday, April 23, 2009

First DUKW

The Allies' logistic train begins to take shape.  

This is one of the old Airfix polythene DUKWs converted into a waterline model by the simple expedient of running a sharp knife around the hull.
I've added a driver (or is he a coxswain) and a tilt made from plastic card and tissue paper. So just the three more to do for now.

When to start?

I've mentioned on the SOTCW Forum that we may have the possibility of more amphibious kit (more DUKWs) and that this brings the possibility of playing out the operation from the actual landing on the beaches.  My original assumption had been that we would start with the Commandos and Rangers ashore having overcome light local resistance.  

If we are to go from H-Hour itself we need to decide on things like:
  • How many troops can the Germans have on the beaches?
  • Is the Vietri coastal gun emplacement intact? - In reality there were no guns present 
  • At what point can the allied naval forces begin to fire? - There was a ban on pre-landing bombardments as Clark wanted to preserve "tactical surprise".
What do you think?  Is it worth the extra effort?

Modelling Chiunzi Pass (2)

Well I got some wine boxes from Tesco and cut them cut to provide the zig-zag roads.
Once covered with a cloth you can see the intended effect. The would be more rough ground on top of the pass and more hills continuing along either side.

The main problem will be stopping the cloth slipping and I'll have to do this with a combination of methods including parcel tape, pinning and for the roads some double sided tape.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ranger Cannon Company

Before mowing the lawn today I managed to get the Ranger Cannon Company half track completed.  It had previously seen action in our Anzio try-out game but now it's been pin-washed, dry-brushed and fitted with its crew.

It's a Black Star models 75mm GMC M3 with the crew from Airfix and Matchbox.  The Airfix figure lying on one side is prefect for the job, matching nicely an illustration in the Vanguard title on Allied Tank Destroyers.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

British AOP

Just completed the British Air Observation Post for the game

I've used the Auster mark6 Air Observation Post, it is a post war variant included in the Airfix Auster Antactica kit, however it's close enough to the wartime version.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Marine Commando by Raymond Mitchell

Got this book from Cheshire Libraries when I was trawling through the book list for anything to do with Salerno. It's subtitled Sicily and Salerno 1943 with 41 Royal Marines Commando. It's a great account at an individual marine's level of the actions of the commando and gives a good feel of the terrain involved. At one point the commando is heavily attacked on Black Monday, but the sector he was on was quiet and Captain Stott the troop commander was killed when he led a counter attack when the Germans broke through to Dragonea.

Here's my commando unit that I'll be using in the game as 41 (RM) Commando

Monday, April 6, 2009

Modelling Chiunzi Pass (1)

In attermpting to keep it simple, here is how I plan to model Chiunzi Pass, It is a cheap simple three box solution that will be covered by a green cloth. The boxes will be taped down to the table to prevent movement and then the cloth will be pinned in place (this is important for the roads)

I will also add more smaller boxes(hills) to the top of the pass (box 1) as well as a farmhouse (as used by Derby's rangers so that it is not a flat expanse. The ascent from the North (German) side (box3) should strictly be opposite, but keeping it on this side makes it a more robust construction and easier to play the game without reaching over.

Once I acquire some suitable boxes I'll post a picture


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Right!  The SOTCW HOTT Royal Tournament is now out of the way.  Well done to Rob Connolly of this parish for not coming last in his first tournament when playing his first ever HOTT games and with a borrowed army!

This means I should now be able to give an appropriate level of attention to getting this game moving forward again.  It's weird how the brain works but within an hour of getting back I was drawn towards the drawer containing the DUKWs I need to complete for the Allied logistics train.

More from me soon!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Vietri/Maori 1944

A nice picture of Vietri found in the Army History magazine covering some of the action at Salerno (link)
It certainly seems that the Herman Goering Division was heavily involved against the Rangers and Commandos
This picture show Maori at the same time with presumably the Chiunzi pass in the distance

Operation Avalanche - Hickey & Smith

Just finished the book and was rather disappointed, the authors don't seem to understand some basic WW2 military terminology German Infantry are referred to as "Panzers" in a lot of place, they don't understand the differences between Panzer and Panzer-Grenadier Divisions or even at times the basic hierarchy between division/brigade-RCT/battalion.

All the Germans tanks seem to be Tigers and in places quoted as 72 ton, which is the weight of a Tiger II.  I haven't read enough around the battle to be certain, but I don't think any Tigers were involved, certainly none of the Heavy Tank battalions were present. 

It's very much a narrative account with some nice details covering the operations of the commandos and rangers, although at times the geography is confused.

For wargaming purposes, there is very little detail on what was happening on the German side.  However for our game I had the impression that more space needs to be allocated to the La Molina/Dragonea area as this was the major area of fighting for the Commandos. 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Terrain test - Vietri

To get a feel for what is possble on the planned battlefield for the game I tried laying out what was possible based on the existing proposal from Counterpane

The sea was made from a single sheet of opaque plastic from Paperchase I painted the reverse with blue paint and I will dry brush some waves onto it. The two sticks mark the extent of the 4' x 2' table. I have left the main hills on top of the cloth to give a better idea of location.

The hill behind Vietri is slightly undersized , but it can be seen that with the size of Vietri village I have used it effectively fills the gap. From the map it looks like the side of the hill next to the Village is a cliff.

The are to the left of the village looks quite sparse, but I'll fill it up with walls, vineyards, small hills, etc. Te Italian coastal OP can be seen on the extreme left.

The buildings I'll create for the game will be similar to that on the left. The one displayed has the right footprint, but is to short as it is scaled for 15mm.

A copy of the map used.