Monday, June 25, 2012

Battle report: Avanti! Mussolinis offensive in North Africa

Hello there,

hopefully you saw the buildings I made for the North African theatre. Two weeks ago Björn and I made a small game, to begin our campaign. The war in North Africa started with an Italian offensive against the British - a foolish step Mussolini made, because his troops lost the iniative after some minor victories and were thrown back, so they were nearly wiped out. It was so bad, that Hitler decided to help his ally - the birth of the Afrika Korps.

The initial operations - the Italian offensive (red) and the British response (blue)

We began historically with a desperate Italian offensive against a British held village, somewhere between Badia and Sidi Barrani in mid September 1940. Björn took his British forces, I commanded the Italian attackers.

The British troops hiding in the village and the surrounding compounds.
The brave British only had infantry at their disposal, even missing an anti tank gun. So, they had to rely on close combat against enemy vehicles.

The village was fortified by czech hedgehogs. On the building in the middle is a Vickers machine gun. The rest are also manned by infantry, hiding in the cover of the clay huts.
The advanced defence positons at the crossroads - the gate to the village and therefore an important target.

The Italians began to launch a heavy frontal aussault on the British at the crossroads. Supported by two M13/40 tanks and an Autoblinda AB41, the Italian Infantry threw themselves into cover. The tanks tried to spot the British behind the lower wall, which took much time.

Unfortunately, the Italians had a British unit in their flank, but the Italian commander decided that the outpost at the crossroads had top priority. This led to heavy casualties under his men.

Ignored by the Italians, the unit had a good firing position directly in the flank of the enemy.

At the same time, the Italians also came from the right flank and took positions in the dry river. After heavy fire support from the tank, a squad attacked the small wall frontally. The British defendes decided to flee instead of dieing in close combat. 

Italian advance from the right flank.
The wall is taken, but the house itself remaines to be a nest of resistance.
The M13/40 fails to spot the well hidden British infantrymen in the building.

The building at the crossroads was still able to hinder the assault on the village, but the tanks were unable to spot the enemy inside. So everything had again to be done by the hard pressed infantry. There was only one chance to take the house - by attacking in close combat!

Just before bloody fighting begins: the Italians threw grenades to prepare the following melee.

It was a mercyless hand-to-hand fight, with neither side gaining the upper hand. In the end, only one man on each side remained. With a lucky hit Björn's British soldier knocked out the last Italian attacker and the house was saved. Recognizing that victory became impossible, I ordered my troops to retreat. Even though all my vehicle were intact, the infantry casualties were to high, with half of my company wiped out.

Last man standing. After fierce fighting he held his position, which was later named "Bloody Corner".

If you want to read another AAR, I recommend this one. We played the beginning of Operation Barbarossa.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Workbench: North African Village

My gaming group and I decided last year to start a project - the war in North Africa. I took the Italians, my friends the Afrika Korps and the British. After all this time we got a date to finally play - on this sunday. We've got everything - painted troops, a table... but something was missing: proper scenery. To be more precise: a North African village. So I decided to build one! Of course, my deadline was today, so was in a hurry. I started on last saturday. I wanted to use old stuff, so I could reduce my inventory and get new scenery without spending money on it. So here's what I got:
Some hobby plastic card, rests of foambord, balsa wood, etc.

I even glued some bases togehter, so I didn't had to cut out new ones (you see, I'm very economical):

I've got a problem: normally, I'm a total control freak. Before I can build something, I plan it for weeks - how big should it be, how high and big should be the windows etc. When I come to the building process, I want to work very accurate and clear. In the end my scenery looks a big artificial - of course, because I wanted to control every detail. I took this project as an incitation to change myself!
I only used rest pieces of foamboard and tried to avoid right angles - it should look awry and more natural. I also cut the windows and doors just the way I wanted and used no ruler of something like that. Everything was cut free hand.

The first sight of the buildings (ignore the rest)

Doors are made out of balsa wood, engraved with a pen.

The buildings themselves were ready, now they needed a proper texture. First I used adhesive tape to close the gaps in the walls. This was much quicker than using putty. After doing so, I applied diluted wood glue and dispersed fine sand on the buildings. I did this twice, so adding a thick layer of sand. In the end I again coated the buildings with the diluted glue, which, after drying, hardened the sand and will protect it from abrasion.

The last step was, of course, panting. I tried some different approaches. In the end I used a washing and drybrushing method. First, I primed the buildings white. Then I washed them twice with bright brown, which I mixed out of my sceney colours. After drying I drybrushed the building with pure white, using a large brush. That highlighted some areas. After this I drybrushed the base and painted the doors. Done!

Some Italians occupying the new building.