Thursday, 30 June 2011

Waffen SS in action early 1943

A very nice episode of "Die Deutsche Wochenschau" - this time showing the Waffen SS in action during "Mansteins Counterstroke" in the Charkow area.

Lots of great afv and uniform shots plus a few personalities including the (in)famous Max Wünsche.  Inspirational stuff for anyone modelling the winterised Wehrmacht!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Wochenbild #12

To cool us down on these hot summer days, a picture showing the freezing conditions of Winter 1941/2!

This photo is from the same source as PotW #2 and once again shows men of Artillerie Lehr Brigade 900.  Only one of the soldiers shown has had the good luck to acquire some locally produced fur clothing - however he still looks very cold indeed.  

Once again, note the position has been excavated from the snow and ice - in winter the ground was often too frozen to move unless explosives were used.

In the foreground is the rear spade from an artillery piece - at first I thought a leFH 18 but now I am unsure.  Can anyone identify the weapon? 

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Wochenbild #11

Medical wagons somewhere in Russia.
It's been another week fraught with difficulties so the postings have slowed quite a bit.  In the pipeline I have the improvised Panzerjäger and a rather nice recon vehicle based on an historical "what-if".  I am also being side-tracked by a "Weird War" idea that meshes with these projects...

Anyway, number eleven in my series is a rather forlorn scene.  No details on the reverse but the content is self-explanatory.  Medical care was often rough and ready in the East and the dearth of antibiotics in wartime Germany certainly made infection even more deadly.  To be incapacitated in an horse-drawn ambulance or cart might sound scary but the alternative was probably a slow death in the field or worse still capture by the Soviets!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

I.R. Großdeutschland in action - Winter 1941

I was browsing YouTube the other day and found this footage. In characteristic propaganda style the troops are depicted as advancing through the mud and snow en-route to ultimate victory.  In reality the average Landser had by now realised just how ill-prepared they were for a Russian winter.

Nevertheless, the troops storming (most probably staged) the Kolkhoz display a nice mixture of dress and the terrain shows that an authentic battlefield can be achieved with a couple of Isbas and a copse or two.  If you happen to have a few dozen barrels to spare this is the scenario for you!

The footage of the mine disposal is, in my opinion, authentic as the soldier handles the landmines very gingerly!

Incidentally, later this week I am going to touch upon the problem of depicting winter 1941/2 in 28mm.  There is a dearth of correctly attired figures but I think I have hit upon a solution.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Wochenbild #10

Catching up with the news.
A little later than usual - I am sorry but real life got in the way!

Today for your delectation we have four Luftwaffe men and their 20mm (?) FlaK.  I purchased the photo from a dealer who had clearly split up a LW veteran's album.  Some of the photos were taken in the East - others on training/garrison duties on the "Heimatfront"  This picture has a barely legible pencil note on the reverse.  The legend appears to read:  "Stellung Morfecvem"

Although sold as an "Ostfront" photo, I think this has been mis-labelled.  The uniforms are clean and tidy - not something normally seen during Russian winter.  The troops are reading pristine newspapers and their hair is neatly clipped.  Thus I suspect that this photo was taken taken in or around the "bricklayers' village" of Mörfelden (near Franfurt am Main)  What they are guarding is a mystery, although there was a prison in the vicinity.

Still, a nice clear photo.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Welikije Luki - January 1943

Another year, another encirclement -  this time Welikije Luki.  Although over-shadowed by the tragedy at Stalingrad, this battle was yet another case of troops being ham-strung by High Command's insistence that all ground was held "to the last man".

Whether this footage was actually shot in the vicinity is anyone's guess but nevertheless it is of value to both the wargamer and modeller.  Note the extremely high rate of fire achieved by the 7,5cm leIG!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Wochenbild #9

Ex-Soviet bunker - Kholm 1941.
For a change this picture has perfectly legible details on the reverse!  The legend is simple: "Bunker, Kholm".  So it shows a bunker in or near to the city of Kholm in North/Central Russia.  The attire of the soldier suggest Summer/Autumn 1941.  

Within six months the city and ad-hoc garrison were encircled during the first major Soviet offensive of the campaign.  The defence, led by General Scherer is an epic story of suffering, desperation and heroism.  The story of the "pocket" is told in an excellent photo-book: "The Indomitable Defenders of Kholm" well worth purchasing if you find it around.

The details of the bunker's construction are apparent from the shot and it would make a nice little modelling project.  "Logs" from garden canes would be a good start...

Friday, 3 June 2011

Counter-attack in Latvia 1944

Another good film here.  This time a counter-attack to restore contact with forces in Kurland.

Some very nice StuG shots including some soldiers playing "How many men can we fit upon one StuG"  My  favourite part is the StuG commander letting rip with his MP40!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Munitionspanzerjäger 38(t) - Progress

The plating is intentionally imperfect.
I decided to strike whilst enthusiasm was high and time available.  Having cut the shields from "30 thou" plastic-sheet* - I decided they looked too tidy for a scrapyard vehicle.  

Inspiration struck in the form of some Tamiya StuG III schürzen.  Amazingly the front skirt was of almost identical proportions to the forward part of my template.  I have therefore trimmed a couple of these and rotated them into place.  The cut-outs used to hang them on the StuG have been kept in-situ.  Now the vehicle has a more "rough and ready" look.  

The Ultimate Soldier tank hull has had the MG removed - a blank will be fitted to cover the hole.  Additionally the loose glacis plate has been repositioned and super-glued into place.

I think I will secure this "plating" with epoxy putty.  That way I will not have it springing loose at an inopportune moment.  Once securely in place I will add some welding-detail and other bits and pieces including a large wooden ammo locker.

As for the KwK F34(r) - taken from a Hobby Boss T34 - the mount will have (for game purposes) a very limited traverse.  Looking at the aperture and pivot, I would estimate this is no more than a total of 20 degrees (probably less)

To my eyes the project is looking promising. 

*30 thou is over-scale but the thinnest sheet with the required strength.

Imagineering: Munitionspanzerjäger 38(t) mit KwK F34(r)

Munitionspanzer 38(t)
One of the troubles when starting new projects is too much choice.  First of all it is scale, then period - followed closely by the pleasant task of choosing models.  I am often derailed by one or all of the above.  A case of too many toys and too little time.

The other factor that proves troubling is my severe trepidation - a simple fear of making a mess.  I realised recently that it is almost 20 years since I last completed a 1:35 kit.  This hiatus has caused me to become increasingly indecisive!  These things cost money and I don't want to waste it.  Anyway, it is time to draw a line under this and "Get her done" as our American friends like to say.

Readers will be aware of my preference for "make do" type vehicles.  As I have explained before, improvisation and field modification were very common in the Ostheer - as they are in most armies.  In fact almost every documentary I watch these days has some weird field-mod sitting in the background or rolling past whilst the narrator drones on.  Of late I have toyed with a few conversions but have settled on this creation as my project of the month!

The rugged and reliable (yet under-gunned and armoured) Panzer 38(t) was, from 1942/3,  frequently relegated to service as a Munitionspanzer.  This was a relatively simple conversion involving the removal of the turret and covering the resulting circular hole with a tarpaulin or wooden "lid".  Occasionally these vehicles sport a box-like superstructure that appears to be made from sheet-metal - however this seems relatively rare.

Munitionspanzerjäger 38(t)
My "what-if" vehicle depicts such a Munitionspanzer that has been given a new lease of life at the divisional workshop.

An F34 cannon has been removed from a T34 wreck and mounted upon the chassis.  Scrap metal (old schürzen perhaps?) has been welded into a protective box - giving the creation the appearance of a crude "Marder".

I have no idea if anything similar to this "Imagineered" vehicle was made, but it is certainly possible.  When you consider the various oddballs floating around this looks decidedly conservative!

The photo has been snapped on my iPhone and is therefore not too great.  However the card mock-up (which needs tweaking) should give readers an idea of what is to come...