Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Wars That Never Were

The main theme of this month's issue of WARGAMES ILLUSTRATED is 'Wars That Never Were'. I was intrigued to find out more ... so I bought a copy.

The relevant contents include the following articles:
  • Wars That Never Were: An introduction to the theme by Gary Mitchell that includes mention of:
    • Invasion by Kenneth Macksey
    • The Moscow Option by David Downing
    • The Battle of Dorking: Reminiscences of a Volunteer by George Tomkyns Chesney
    • The Eternal Empire by Geoff Fabron
    • Things To Come by H G Wells
    • The Third World War by General Sir John Hackett
    • What might have happened if the Roman Empire and the Han Chinese Empire had clashed during the First and Second centuries AD?
    • What might have happened if the Spanish Armada had succeeded in ferrying the Duke of Parma's army across the Channel in 1588?
    • What might have happened if Napoleon's invasion of Egypt had been successful and he had then invaded India?
    • What might have happened if the British and French had intervened in the American Civil War?
    • What might have happened if the Fashoda Incident had not been resolved peacefully and had led to a war between Britain and France?
  • Imagi-nations: Exploring the uses of imagi-nations in wargaming by Charles S Grant
  • The Battle for Britain: 22nd August 1692: An alternative history of Britain that begins when James II decides to stand and fight it out with William of Orange and Mary by Barry Hilton
  • The Battle for Ontario: A war that wasn't (quite!) in America: Scenarios based around what might have happened if the British had intervened in the American Civil War by Don Effinger
  • All Quiet on the Mexican Front?: Wargaming the The Zimmerman Telegram: What might have happened if the Germans had actually sent aid to the Mexicans during World War I by Paul Barnett
  • Winter of '79: Anarchy in the UK when the 'Winter of Discontent' evolved into a civil war by Mark Hannam
  • Making it Modern: Terrain for the Third World War: What sort of terrain is needed if you want to fight 'Cold War turned hot' battles by Andy Rix
Plenty of interesting ideas, especially for someone like me!

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

A Winter-ish War: An untold story

One thing that confused experts and pundits at the time was why the leadership of SPUR did not press home the military advantage that they had after they had broken through the 'Talenheim Line'. It appeared that they had the Opelandic Armed Force on the run, and could easily have continued their invasion and eventually occupied the entire country. The truth has now emerged ... and it goes some way to explaining why Opeland was not subjected to such ignominy.

In the far north of Opeland is the mining town of Samopet. Its iron ore is of the highest quality, and is exported all over the world. Possession of the town and its mines was therefore essential to the continued strength of Opeland's economy, and it was a prize that was desired by certain members of SPUR's Supreme Soviet ... especially the Head of Border and Internal Security, Deputy Marshal Berrikoff. Whilst the main fighting of the Winter-ish War took place far to the south, a SPUR invasion force attempted to capture Samopet.

The Terrain

The Defenders
The defenders (commanded by Colonel Tor Eriksson) comprised:
  • 3 x Reserve Infantry Units
  • 1 x Reserve Anti-tank Gun Unit
  • 1 x Reserve Light Field Gun Unit
The defenders were all recruited from the area around Samopet, and were well used to working in the very cold temperatures experienced by the region.

The Attackers
The attackers (commanded by DivCom Kustoff) comprised:
  • 6 x Border Rifle Units
  • 1 x Border Tank Unit
  • 1 x Border Anti-tank Gun Unit
The attackers were all drawn from Border and Internal Security detachments, and whilst they were heavily armed, they were trained to defend the nation's borders and to ensure internal security was rigorously maintained ... and not to fight conventional battles.

Turn 1
The SPUR troops advanced through the heavily forested terrain that separated Samopet from the border with SPUR. They had been informed that there were very few Opelandic troops in the area, and those that were there were poor-quality reservists. As a result they had not sent out any reconnaissance parties in the belief that any ambushes would be easily pushed aside.

Turn 2
Oblivious to the possibility of there being any Opelandic troops in the forests, the SPUR troops were forced to form themselves into a single column in order to move through the close terrain.

Turn 3
The unopposed SPUR advance continued ...

Turn 4
... until the front half of the column was well and truly in the Opelandic 'killing ground'.

Turn 5
Suddenly the Opelandic Reserve Anti-tank Gun and Reserve Light Field Artillery Units opened fire ...

... with the result that the SPUR Border Tank Unit was hit and reduced to 50% effectiveness ...

... and casualties were inflicted on the leading SPUR Border Rifle Unit.

The SPUR Border Tank Unit returned fire ... but it missed its intended target.

The SPUR Border Tank Unit was then attacked from the rear by one of the Opelandic Reserve Infantry Units ...

... which wiped it out!

Elsewhere another of the Opelandic Reserve Infantry Units attacked a nearby SPUR Border Rifle Unit, ...

... inflicting casualties on it and causing it to retreat.

The Opelandic Reserve Infantry Unit was immediately counter-attacked by another of the SPUR Border Rifle Units ...

... that came of worse in the fighting and that was also forced to fall back.

The Opelandic Reserve Infantry Unit that had wiped out the SPUR Border Tank Unit was also counter-attacked by a SPUR Border Rifle Unit ...

... but the SPUR Border Rifle Unit's attack failed, it suffered casualties, and then fell back ... and was in turn counter-attacked by the third Opelandic Reserve Infantry Unit.

The casualties suffered by the SPUR Border Rifle Unit were such that it felt compelled to flee back towards the border with SPUR.

In a very short spell of intense fighting, the SPUR force had been mauled and rendered unable to continue its offensive. DivCom Kustoff attempted to rally his troops ... but failed.

Turn 6
As the SPUR troops retreated, the rearmost ones were attacked by Opelandic Reserve Infantry Units ...

... which caused them to divert from their obvious lines of retreat in order to escape from their attackers.

Turn 7
As the SPUR retreat continued, so did the harassing attacks by the Opelandic Reserve Infantry Units ...

... which turned the retreat into a full-scale rout.

Samopet was secure and would remain in Opelandic hands ... and SPUR's military leaders had learnt a valuable lesson about fighting in heavily forested terrain.

When news of the debacle reached the ears of Deputy Marshal Berrikoff, he ordered that DivCom Kustoff be arrested, tried on charges of treason against the State ... and shot. In addition the Deputy Marshal posted all the Border and Internal Security troops that had returned from Opeland to a labour camp in the Far East for 're-education'. By doing this he hoped to avoid incurring the displeasure of the Secretary of the Supreme Soviet ... but he was wrong.

Two days after the failed attack on Samopet (and whilst the two countries were in the midst of the armistice negotiations) a meeting of the State Council of the Supreme Soviet was held, at the end of which the Secretary of the Supreme Soviet asked Deputy Marshal Berrikoff for the reasons behind the execution of DivCom Kustoff. Whilst the rest of the meeting sat in silence, Deputy Marshal Berrikoff tried to explain that the now-dead Kustoff had taken unauthorised action when he had mounted the attack on Samopet.

The Secretary of the Supreme Soviet smiled and nodded as he listened to what the Deputy Marshal had to say ... and then asked one of his bodyguards to give the Deputy Marshal a pistol. The Secretary then told the Deputy Marshal that he had a choice; either to die by his own hand – in which case his family would be left untouched and even given a pension – or to be taken outside and shot by a firing squad, knowing that his family faced a similar fate within a few days. The Deputy Marshal chose the former course of action ... and several days later the SPUR official newspaper announced the death of Deputy Marshal Berrikoff 'after a short battle with a terminal illness'.

For the purposes of this battle the Opelanders were allowed to travel unimpeded by the rules governing movement through forested areas. The SPUR Border troops were classed as Militia, and had lower Strength Values and Combat Power as a result.

Monday, 8 February 2016

A wonderful and interesting birthday gift

Yesterday was my birthday – my 66th one to be precise – and amongst the presents I received was a very interesting looking sliver metal box ...

As you might notice, the lid is embossed with various Masonic symbols. (I could tell you what they all mean ... but if you are interested you will find out what they are for yourselves!) I thought that it was just a very nice trinket box for me to keep some of my Masonic memorabilia in ... but it was heavy enough to indicate that there was something inside ... which there was.

Inside the box was a set of playing cards ... but not just any set; it was a set of Masonic playing cards!

Now as regular readers of my blog know – and especially the two friends who sent me this wonderful present – I love using playing cards in my wargames, so here was a present that combined two important aspects of my life; Freemasonry and wargaming. My wife thought that the gift was inspired, and I absolutely agree with her ...

... so here's a massive big thank to Tony and Maxine for your wonderful birthday present!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Some more scratch-built/modified model vehicles

Back in early January I featured some of the scratch-built/modified models that John Sandars' had inspired me to build. At the time I thought that they were the only ones that I had left ... and then I began sorting out the figures I used for my Winter-ish War mini-campaign and remembered that they weren't!

Here are some of the Russian vehicles that I scratch-built/modified.

These heavy artillery tractors were built on the chassis of broken ROCO Minitank Pzkpfw IVs. The cabs came from Bedford trucks from the Airfix RAF Airfield Firefighting Set, the engine bonnets were made from Plasticard strips, the engine grills were from Airfix Matador kits, and the rear bodies were made from Plasticard and the sides of railway wagons.

The light artillery tractors were built on the rear halves of the chassis of Airfix US Half-track kits. The cabs came from Airfix Matador kits, the engine grills from Airfix US Half-track kits, and the rear bodies were scratch-built from Plasticard.

The supply tractors were also built on the rear halves of the chassis of Airfix US Half-tracks, and their cabs came from Bedford trucks from the Airfix RAF Airfield Firefighting Set, with engine grills from Airfix US Half-track kits. Like the light artillery tractors, the rear bodies were scratch-built from Plasticard. They are towing trailers from the Airfix US Half-track kits.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

A Winter-ish War: The armistice and its aftermath

Within hours of the decisive battle for Viputa, the SPUR Foreign Minister announced that it was the express wish of the Secretary of the Supreme Soviet that fighting between SPUR and Opeland should cease immediately, and that an armistice would be sought as soon as possible in order to settle matters between the two countries.

The Opelandic government agree to this, and within weeks an international conference had been called in order to thrash out an agreement between SPUR and Opeland. The negotiations were not protracted, and within days the Opelanders had agreed to hand over to SPUR the 'disputed' town of Viputa and its surrounding area. They also agreed that the border between the two countries would be demilitarized, and that the Opelandic Armed Forces would be reduced to half its current size. The SPUR delegates also expressed a wish that Marshal Talenheim be removed from command of the Opelandic Armed Forces as he was seen to be 'a militarist who only saw conflict as a means of resolving problems between friendly neighbours'. They were told that this was unnecessary as the Marshal had resigned from his position, and was now living in retirement on an estate in a remote part of Opeland.

Some weeks after the war had ended, the SPUR official newspaper published the following announcement:
The Secretary of the Supreme Soviet is pleased to announce the following military awards have been made:
  • DivCom Litvinoff: Hero of SPUR (3rd Class; posthumous)
  • DivCom Davidoff: Hero of SPUR (2nd Class)
  • DivCom Smirnoff: Hero of SPUR (1st Class)
  • Admiral Loganoff: Hero of SPUR (1st Class)
  • Marshal Zirkoff: Hero of SPUR (1st Class, with Red Banner)
The Secretary of the Supreme Soviet also wishes to express his deepest condolences to the family of DivCom Litvinoff, whose death in a car crash was announced only a few days ago.

Friday, 5 February 2016

A Winter-ish War: Day 3: The SPUR attack in the left-hand sector

During the second night of the war, the Opelandic government realised that the situation was very grave. Marshal Talenheim spelt it out in no uncertain words that the main defence line was breached, and that it was only a matter of time before SPUR's troops would reach Viputa. He advised that approaches be made to SPUR via diplomatic channels with a request for an immediate armistice. In the meantime, he would order what remained of Opeland's Regular Army to withdraw from the defences of Viputa.

This caused uproar in the Cabinet meeting, and several members called upon the Marshal to resign ... but he refused, stating that he had always been of the opinion that Viputa was going to be impossible to defend against SPUR's Armed Forces. Their overwhelming superiority in numbers and equipment made such a result inevitable, and he saw no reason to needlessly sacrifice Opelandic lives trying to achieve the impossible.

It was finally agreed that the defences protecting Viputa would be manned by Units drawn from the Reserve, and that the request for an armistice would be pursued with alacrity. It was also agreed that the handing over of Viputa to SPUR was preferable to the prospect of trying to fight a protracted war that Opeland would inevitably lose.

The Terrain

The Defenders
The defenders (commanded by Colonel Rolf Andersson) comprised:
  • 3 x Reserve Infantry Units
  • 1 x Reserve Anti-tank Gun Unit
  • 1 x Reserve Light Field Artillery Unit

The Attackers
The attackers (commanded by Admiral Loganoff) comprised:
  • 8 x Naval Infantry Units
  • 1 x Naval Anti-tank Gun Unit
  • 1 x Naval Light Field Artillery Unit
  • Units of the SPUR Northern Fleet
Turn 1
As day dawned, the defenders of Viputa could hear the sound of aircraft engines getting louder and louder, and this presaged the arrival of an attack by two SPUR Air Force Light Bomber Units, escorted by two Fighter Units.

The bombers ignored the Opelandic defences, and dropped their loads on the town of Viputa, setting many buildings on fire.

Meanwhile, out of sight of land, a SPUR Naval task force consisting of the newly-renamed Armoured Artillery Ship (AKA Battleship) Krasny Viputa (Red Viputa) and two landing barges was sailing towards the coast of Opeland.

Turn 2
The SPUR Naval Light Field Artillery Unit and the Opelandic Reserve Light Artillery Unit both fired at each other ...

... and both inflicted casualties on the other.

The SPUR Naval Infantry Units edged forward so as to threaten but not actually attack the Opelandic defences.

At sea the SPUR task force turned towards Viputa and Krasny Viputa's smoke became visible to the inhabitants of the town.

Turn 3
The artillery exchange between the SPUR Naval Light Field Artillery Unit and the Opelandic Reserve Light Artillery Unit continued ...

... but neither side's fire was on target.

In Viputa the fire spread unchecked, and the whole town seemed to be engulfed in smoke.

At sea, the SPUR task force sailed closer and closer to Viputa ...

Turn 4
The artillery duel between the SPUR Naval Light Field Artillery Unit and the Opelandic Reserve Light Artillery Unit continued ineffectively, but out at sea the Krasny Viputa was now clearly visible, as were the two landing barges. The latter had detached themselves from Krasny Viputa, and could be seen to be approaching the coast.

Turn 5
The guns of the Krasny Viputa opened fire on the Opelandic defences ...

... with devastating effect!

The SPUR Naval Light Field Artillery and Naval Anti-tank Gun Units also fired at the Opelandic strong point closest to the coast ...

... and wiped out its occupants!

The Opelandic Reserve Light Artillery Unit switched targets and fired at one of the oncoming SPUR Naval Infantry Units ...

... but failed to inflict any casualties on it.

By this time the resolve of the Opelandic Reserve troops was beginning to waver, and already some Units were considering falling back. Colonel Andersson managed to keep those Units in the front line for the moment, but reported to Marshal Talenheim that the situation was dire, and that retreat was becoming inevitable. In reply Marshal Talenheim asked him to hold on for as long as possible, but that if it became obvious that the SPUR forces were going to prevail, to retreat in order to preserve the lives of his men.

Turn 6
Krasny Viputa fired on the Opelandic defences for a second time ...

... and wiped out the Opelandic Reserve Anti-tank Gun Unit ...

.. and inflicted casualties on the Opelandic Reserve Infantry Unit occupying the remaining strong point.

Fire from the SPUR Naval Light Field Artillery also targeted the Opelandic Reserve Infantry Unit ...

... and caused even more casualties.

Realising that all was lost, Colonel Andersson ordered his remaining Units to retreat.

As they did so the SPUR landing barges arrived, carrying four additional SPUR Naval Infantry Units.

The battle for Viputa was over! SPUR had prevailed!