Mobile Coffins: Italian M13/40 Tanks!

North African Reinforcements!

It’s so cute! And deadly too…to its crew!

When you think of North Africa in WW2, you think Crusaders, Panzer IVs and IIIs, Tigers, Grants. And rightly so, as all these tanks carved out a reputation, for good or ill!

I particularly like that the designer of this STL included stowage. I often forget to add it. The sandbags are a nice touch, a bit of a desperate move by Italian crews that only further slowed the tank down.

This tank, an Italian M13/40, is unfortunately more on the ‘ill’ side. A dated design even as it just started reaching units, this tank wasn’t as bad as it could be. It had reasonable armament, decent armour in comparison to its British foes, and a good deal of machine guns. However, it lacked speed, often-times radios, and was not something their would-be crews had training in. A recipe for disaster.

Still, it at least looks like a tank. Can’t say that for most early-mid Italian designs!

However, they were plentiful, and these tanks made up a good deal of the Afrika Korps, people often forget that not only were Italians part of the unit, Rommel was actually out-ranked by the Italians in theatre! In my previous post, I showed an interest in doing El Alamein and North Africa in general. Not having even a token Italian contingent would be an unfortunate oversight.

Eight of them, enough for two platoons. The commanders ride is on the printer for tomorrow!

In Flames of War, specifically the Avanti book for Mid-War, this tank isn’t present. However, the book does feature its replacement, the M14/41, and this tank, the M13/40, are very, very similar. I’m hoping that among my small play-group, I can use these as suitable proxies. I certainly won’t be carting these off to a tournament, but they will do to test my theory.

The theory is that I can take a minimum size company of these rolling deathtraps as mobile bunkers, as they do have quite a few machine guns. The folks over at Battlefront have been rather generous with their stats.

Hobby
Well, that is a pleasant stat-card, make no mistake!

The M14/41 has been given HEAT ammo to represent early Italian faffing around with such ammo types, quite successful attempts at that! It also has great crew stats that can only get better with a good roll at the beginning of the game. Most happily for me is the sheer amount of machine-guns it packs. Sure, it has only Firepower 6, but against infantry that roll doesn’t matter. And you pay very little in points for such firepower.

I have to admit, these things are growing on me.

I have an Avanti book on its way to me, along with the unit card park and command cards. While due to Lockdown I won’t be getting a game in anytime soon, that simply gives me more time to work on these little beauties.

I still have to clean up some supports, but they came out rather cleanly.

All in all, an easy evenings print. It had been a while since I fired up my 3D printers, and I was starting to think I lost my groove. I’m happy to be proven wrong, and to get some tanks out of it!

Anyways, I need to get some sleep. Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and stay safe everyone!

End of the Beginning: El Alamein in Flames of War!

The decisive battle of the Western Desert Campaign, and a turning point in the war. Time to play it!

“Here we will stand and fight; there will be no further withdrawal. I have ordered that all plans and instructions dealing with further withdrawal are to be burnt, and at once. We will stand and fight here. If we can’t stay here alive, then let us stay here dead. I want to impress on everyone that the bad times are over.”- General Bernard Montgomery

It was the day before New Years, and I can see the mistake already unfolding. Having now built up and rather enjoyed making my Late War British Army for Flames of War, and the weather making me unable to undercoat models, I had a thought…what harm would it be collecting a Mid-War British 8th Army force, just for fun?

The price tag of such a force, that I really didn’t think would see much play, was pretty large and almost put me off entirely. Of course, at that same moment I found this, on the website of a store getting out of Flames of War.

I smudged out the price, as I don’t want to get into how much money I spent, or even saved!

This, frankly, was a staggering amount of models. While lacking infantry it covered the armoured side of things quite comprehensively. I had just gotten paid….while I won’t get into details of how much I spent, I will say I saved an insane amount of money, to the tune of hundreds.

I didn’t truly realize what I had gotten myself into until I opened the very large parcel.

Bloody hell, that is a lot of plastic.

It is well over what I can foreseeably use all at once, but I have many options to make varied lists out of. I got cracking the same day, and after a while, got Monty’s Desert Rats out of the way. This consisted of three Crusaders, five Grants, and two 17/25 Pounder ‘Pheasant” Anti-Tank guns.

The Grant is one of my favourite WW2 tank designs. It was arguably the best tank the British had in North Africa until they got the Sherman
A ridiculously tall tank, with both a 37mm and 75mm guns.
Crusaders! Much faster but pay for it with thin armour and anemic weaponry. I’m going to have to rush around the flanks for kills with these tanks!
A quite good looking tank, which shows that looks count for nothing when it comes to performance!
The 17/25 Pounder is a prototype or early production 17 Pounder on a 25 Pounder gun carriage. It’s ugly, but when Tigers are on the prowl, you’ll take what you can get!
It is quite an imposing Anti-Tank gun. I quite like the look of them!

Next up I assembled a troop of Valentine II tanks, sturdy Infantry Tanks meant to keep up with and provide support to infantry…at the cost of speed. Valentines are slow!

The Valentine was a well armoured but tiny tank. They suffered from cramped fighting compartments and anemic weaponry until replaced. Still, it is very good at supporting an infantry advance!
It is actually quite staggering how small these Valentines are! The turret barely fits two men, and with only a 2 Pounder you’ll need to get lucky to get kills.

A 6-Pounder platoon provides some light-AT options. While I also have the large 17 Pounders, there may come a time when I want something less overkill.

Four 6 Pounder guns, ready to strike out. These are quite competent anti-tank guns.
The base is getting awfully cramped!

A Motor Platoon gives my force some infantry, best at taking and holding ground. The detail isn’t as good as the late war British infantry, but they’ll suffice.

A motor platoon, notably missing the ‘motor’ part. I intend to buy some trucks to carry these men into battle, even if they are just for show!
The detail isn’t bad, but the late war infantry are notably better. I still like my rolled sleeves and shorts, so I quite like the look of these guys!

A few Humber Scout Cars help me keep tab on the wily Germans. The Humber is a rather large vehicle, and will help me get my Grants where they need to go.

A metal/resin kit, these weren’t too bad for assembly. Still, I would have preferred plastic.
The detail isn’t too bad however, and with my over-used radio using Tank Commander, it looks the business.

Of course, seeing as neither of my two gaming groups have opposing Mid-War forces at the moment, I thought how bad would it be if I made a small Afrika Korps list to demo the setting and game with? They would be considerably cheaper, as their stuff generally costs a great deal more points.

With one already built tank but the rest on sprue, I got a good deal here.

With that, and a cheaply snagged box of Rommel’s Afrika Korps secured, I started yet another army! While I have only a few models complete, here is what I have started with.

Unfortunately, the built tank was built rather poorly, and the turret was glued stuck to the hull. The other two I built, with long 75mm guns. I might grab a single Panzer IV from somewhere else to replace this one!
The Panzer IV cuts a great profile. A damn good design, and probably the best German tank in the desert. The Tiger was good, but realistically it was overkill.
Panzer IIIs are the mainstay of my German force, and I’ll need three more built for my list. Luckily, I have them!
The mainstay of the German Afrika Korps, the Panzer III offers me a solid tank, with a good gun, and excellent crew stats.

So those are the models! I still have a lot to build, and I’m really looking forward to getting them all done before Lockdown is over.

Now, El Alamein and the North African theatre of conflict hold special places in my heart. My Grandfather served there, and ‘getting it right’ matters a great deal to me. And it is an ideal front to cover with the Flames of War ruleset.

A great picture of plucky infantry capturing a German Panzer.

El Alamein is rightly considered one of the turning points for the Western Allies. As a wargaming subject, you can certainly do much worse! With easily available maps of the battlefield, I’m hoping to make a table that can easily represent different parts of the battle with ease.

With the Qattara Depression preventing Rommel’s signature outflanking move, the British were able to force Rommel to fight a defensive battle, or risk a dangerous assault on prepared positions. This was not something he could do with the supplies he had!

I’m hoping I can snag a player or two locally, after Lockdown is over, to play out some battles on the Alamein front. Luckily, seeing as the rules are quite similar to Team Yankee, it shouldn’t take long to teach. My friends in the city have decided that if I’m willing to do Late War for them, they can do Mid War for me, and Patton’s Fighting First will hopefully see my table. My other friend is going for the Afrika Korps as well, using a different type of list then what I am using.

I’m gunning for you, Rommel!

But that is all I have for you folks today. My recent foot surgery has gone slightly awry, and I’m stuck on bedrest. More time to plan the battles to come! Next time I post about Alamein, I’ll have terrain sorted for it, and some more models built to fight it.

So, Happy War-gaming wherever you are! And Stay Safe everyone!

Home in Time for Tea and Medals: D-Day British for Flames of War!

Taking it to the Hun in 15mm!

Juno and Sword Beaches Finest!

In my last hobby post, I featured some Flames of War Sherman V tanks, the start of the British starter force I was working my way through.

Well, just in time for the New Year, and mug of Earl Grey in hand, I have finished the lot!

This starter box is a great deal, and was a lot of fun to work through, even if it did seem like a slog near the end. My friends in the city have all the other major Late War factions covered, so my addition of some stiff upper-lipped Brits to the party will make for some fun battles! I may even have some competition locally, once Lockdown is over and it is safe to do so!

It was a decision between the Soviets and the British for me to play, but really, the choice wasn’t hard. I have always been an Anglophile and my love of the Sherman tank, especially the vaunted Firefly, meant I went for the older, Fortress Europe released box set. There is a newer box, for the D-Day landings specifically and featuring the Desert Rats, however I wanted a force with Shermans, not Cromwells.

Without any further delay, lets have a peek at what came in the box!

Churchills! They may be slow but they have a charm all their own.

First up was the Churchills. You get three in the box, with the Late War sprue variation. I could have built them as later Mark VIII or Crocodile Flame Tanks, but instead I went with 75mm armed earlier pattern Churchills, which from my research were fairly common in Normandy.

A very distinct, and I must say, lovely, profile.

I intend to use these tanks to support my Motor Platoon, and take objectives, not to hunt my opponents tanks. But if pressed, the 75mm is no slouch!

The kit comes with several door options. Make sure you pick the right ones!

The Churchills proved to be my favourite of the bunch; A lovely kit to build with a stupid amount of options. I’ve picked up the D-Day British unit cards so while the box comes with the Italy version, I can field them as the proper Normandy configuration.

Next up we have the M5 Stuarts! Not my favourite variant of the Stuart chassis but a great kit nonetheless!

Ready to recce!

This was another easy, fun kit to build. I had no trouble with it, and they went together in an evening. These tanks will serve as my spearhead and flanking choice, to get the rest of my armour to places it’ll hurt!

Drat, I see a couple mould lines I forgot to clean up! Always catch them late…

My favourite Stuart is the M3 ‘Honey’ fielded by the British in the desert, but those are long in the tooth by now and these newer, M5 Stuarts replaced them by this point in the war. It’s a better design, and the extra point of armour might save them from the odd anti-tank shot.

Next up we have the 17pdr SP ‘Achilles’, a kit I thought would be a bear to build but turned out surprisingly well.

Open topped? Better hope it doesn’t rain!

I actually enjoyed building these a lot more than I thought I would. With three options for the kit, the hardest part was making sure I picked the correct options. The crew took some creativity to fit using the tank commander sprues included in the box.

The crew look serviceable, and at this scale look fine enough!

The crew I’m strictly just okay with. They could be better, but they give enough of the appearance of a crewed tank destroyer that I’ll give them a pass. I can’t see anyway of making this better without losing the Battlefront Miniatures characteristic turret peg. A minor criticism to be sure, and I’m still more then happy to field them.

I’m not sure tactically how to use these yet, but seeing as I only have two Fireflies they might be a crucial unit against my friends Panther’s, Tigers, and the odd IS-2.

The crew look absolutely fine from this angle!

Rounding out the armoured contingent, if only technically, are some Universal Carriers!

Easy to build, but I’m not sure as to their utility….

These were an easy and fun kit to build (One can sense a pattern here!), but having not played Flames of War yet I can’t seem to find a use for them. They are an additional scout unit, but with just Brens they are strictly anti-infantry. Not a bad thing by any means, but both my opponents field mostly armoured formations!

Without a Piat, these little Universal Carriers lack the needed punch.

While the option exists to field them with PIATs, this option was not in the box. I have a lot of anti-tank as it is, so perhaps they can find a use solely harassing enemy infantry. I may go back and replace the Bren gun on the top with a Vickers, drastically increasing their firepower.

The box has not yet given up all of its goodies. I also got a Motor Platoon of infantry to accompany my tanks!

Surprisingly good looking infantry!

I was expecting soft sculpts, but in all honesty these are great! The detail is mostly sharp, and at this scale they are particularly good, and durable! The kit comes with only five stands, but the sheer amount of spares has me wondering if I should get a few more!

These will be either a joy or a pain to paint, depending on how much detail I choose to add!

I assembled them glued to the stands; my limited experience with Team Yankee infantry has shown me that it is fairly easy to paint them on the stands if you aren’t overly picky about detail. Still, they should have enough detail to take a wash well.

The officer has quite a bit of character for being this small!

I intend to use my infantry to hold my own objectives on the defense, or to aid my Churchills on the attack. With a PIAT team of their own, they can defend themselves against armour in a pinch.

Finally, we have four 25pdr Field Guns! I was expecting these to be rather fiddly, and they were a little. But they still went together rather quickly!

Ready to receive coordinates!

While small and rather fiddly to put together, the limited parts count meant they went together really fast. The majority of the time was spent laying out the crew on the bases. They are almost miniature dioramas!

I wasn’t sure about the limber until I saw it on the base. They add just that little bit extra.

For a unit I wasn’t too jazzed about, they were a lot of fun to build, and a good way to end off building the box. While these are already replaced with reinforcements in the way of Sextons, they are still really pretty little field guns, and might see some play on occassion!

This ended off the British Armoured Battlegroup Starter set. With the addition of a Sherman Armoured Troop, I’m now well placed to start playing Flames of War in earnest. Of course, that is when Covid-19 cooperates with us! I have already supplemented this existing force with some additional reinforcements, in the way of Sextons, Typhoons, and a Daimler recce patrol. I have also managed to snag a copy of the Command Cards, although that was from a foreign source and will be a while before they arrive!

I have yet to give some thoughts on what I will be painting these gents up as. I have an urge to either do a Canadian force, but that might be a bit on the nose given I am Canadian! Alternatively I am tempted by the Guards Armoured Division, and the decals I have will make that particular force doable right from the outset. Either way, I want to at least make a token effort on some historical authenticity.

This will be my last post of this year, and with that I wish you a happy New Year, no matter where you are, and may 2021 bring you happy wargaming! And until next year, God Save the King!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Lock-Down!

Preparing for the Long Haul!

Merry Christmas! As I may have stated in previous posts, I am based out of Ontario, Canada. And, as of Boxing Day, the province is starting a 28 day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown.

While as far as lockdowns go this is fairly relaxed, it does mean I’m both laid off(luckily, not permanently!) and probably staying at home most if not all day. I was running low on supplies, but luckily I had a few good paycheques and decided to treat myself.

Glue for the glue god, Paint for the paint throne!

Those of you who following the blog are mostly likely aware of my recent love-affair with Team Yankee. As my first foray into 15mm wargaming it has been a blast, and building up tiny tanks was actually my project for the first lockdown. While I’m still enthusiastic about completing the British I have begun, I’ve ended up with quite a few ‘modern’ armies, and I am very inefficiently plugging away at all of them. The Fate of a Nation box below is actually meant for my Iranian army.

It is a pretty good deal, with nine T-62s and two Shilka AA vehicles. Fate of a Nation itself I find very interesting, but alas my regular Israeli opponents favour the more ‘cool’ Merkava tank, and selling either of them on the Yom Kippur War is a tough sale indeed. However, seeing as you buy the Iranian unit cards separately anyways, you lose nothing by getting the Egyptian T-62 Battalion box, and actually save a good deal of money.

They are the full plastic kit as well, and I’m well and truly torn between assembling them as Soviet T-62s(which, bizarrely, can ally with Iran in the Oil War timeline…), which gives me solid AT-23 tank punch, or instead using them as Iranian ‘T-62s’, which were more likely North Korean Chonma Ho’s or Chinese Type 69’s in our timeline. Oil War allows the Iranians greater access to the Soviet toolbox then the Ayatollah ever got to play with, and one can take T-62’s en masse as a Revolutionary Guard flavoured tank company. I hopefully will make up my mind soonish!

Now Flames of War, a WW2 15mm game had crossed my radar before, I had always dismissed it because I played WW2 already with Bolt Action. 15mm seemed fiddly and time consuming, and I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the company level scale of the game. Team Yankee has proven I do, in fact, prefer the smaller models for company level actions and higher, and one of my friends in Toronto had gotten into it recently as his lockdown project. While chances are I won’t see him until the vaccines have rolled out, I figured I’d take a chance on the game in the hopes of playing him when the world returns to a sense of normalcy.

I was stuck on either the Soviets or the British, and in the end I went for Shermans instead of T-34s. These Flames of War Late War starters are really good value for money, and with the addition of one extra troop of Sherman V’s, I’m well set to play D-Day and onward with the contents.

For Christmas Eve, I decided to get cracking, and started on the Shermans.

Three 75mm Shermans, with two Fireflies. Two of the 75mm vehicles are going to be my command section, and the two Fireflies will be slotted into the two Troops I will have once the full set is complete. The spare 75mm will be another tank in one of those said Troops.
They are very pretty little tanks, but quite fiddly! I found the Yankee kits to be much easier to assemble. I do love the included tank commanders!
And a 17 Pounder Firefly! A beautiful little tank. My full force sadly only includes these two!

Now I’ve got a lot of stuff to work on. My goal this lockdown is a bit more modest; clear my Flames of War and Team Yankee assembly backlog. Will I succeed? Chances are, no! But it’ll keep me busy and out of trouble. Tomorrow I will crack on with the T-62’s. If I’m feeling particularly handy, I might knock out some WW2 stuff as well!

For now, happy War-gaming wherever in this wonderful world you are, and a very Merry Christmas! Stay Safe everyone!