Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 16th – 18th March 1938

Barcelona was subjected to round-the-clock bombing by Italian aircraft based on Majorca.
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Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 9th March – 23rd July 1938

THE ADVANCE ON THE MEDITERRANEAN COAST

With the failure of the Republican attack upon Teruel the Nationalists were now able to mount an offensive eastward into on Aragon and Levante. The intention was to cut Republican Spain into two parts. The assault, which was led by General Fidel Davila, began on 9th March and by 16th March the Nationalists had forced the Republicans to retreat up to 60 miles in places.

Lerida, in Catalonia, surrendered to the Nationalists on 3rd April, and twelve days later Vinaroz, a village about half-way between Valencia and Barcelona on the Mediterranean coast, was captured and the Republic was cut in two. The Nationalist sought to widen this gap and on 14th June they captured Castellon de la Plana, 40 miles North of Valencia. Republican resistance was, however, increasing, and the Nationalists brought the offensive to a halt to allow time for their troops to rest and re-equip before the attack on Valencia.


Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 6th March 1938

The modern Nationalist cruiser Baleares, which was escorting a convoy of merchant ships off the Mediterranean coast near Cartagena, was sunk by torpedoes launched by Republican destroyers.

Duke Seifried

I bought another of the more recent additions to John Curry’s ‘History of Wargaming’ Project last week, and have just finished reading it. It is entitled DUKE SEIFRIED AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN MINIATURE WARGAMING, and it has been edited by John Curry and Jim Getz.

I had been aware of Duke Seifried for many years, mainly thanks to the occasional mention of the games he has put on at US wargame conventions. These have all seemed to be magnificent examples of large wargames fought with beautifully painted figures on custom-built terrain. Furthermore, they had a reputation for being fun to take part in as well as using well-designed rules.

What I was not aware of until I read this book was how influential Duke Seifried has been to the development of miniature wargaming in the US. One only has to read the citation for the 1995 Jack Scruby Award and Hal Thinglum’s tribute from a 1980s issue of the alas-now-defunct MWAN to begin to get some idea of the impact he has had, and this book has certainly ensured that his role in developing the hobby of miniature wargaming will be recorded for posterity.

The book contains:

  • The Jack Scruby Award (1995) to Duke Seifried;
  • MWAN tribute to Duke Seifried by Hal Thinglum (1989);
  • Early American Wargaming by Jim Getz;
  • Remembrances ‘Uncle Duke’ – Many years Later (2017);
  • Reflections on the Melee Rules by ‘Uncle Duke’ (2017);
  • “Melee” A Game of War (by Duke Seifried);
  • Napoleonique: A Miniature Wargame Strategic-Tactical Manoeuvre in the Napoleonic Era (by Jim Getz with Duke Seifried);
  • Appendix: Key Personalities in the Development of Modern American Wargaming.

The book is illustrated with a number of previously unpublished black and white photographs of early American wargames.

I would recommend this book to anyone who – like me – has an interest in the history and development of wargaming. It certainly filled a hole in my knowledge, and now occupies a space on my shelf of important wargaming books.


The book is published by the ‘History of Wargaming’ Project, and costs £14.95 plus postage and packing (ISBN 978 0 244 64137 5).

The Sands of New Stanhall revisted

Nearly twenty one years ago(!) – at COW1997 – Ian Drury ran a wargame about an amphibious operation in the South Pacific. The game saw a US Marine Division assault the Japanese-defended island of New Stanhall, and it was one of the first times I took part in a figure game that was fought out on a tabletop that was divided up into areas. All movement and combat was area-to-area, and the combat system was very simple but also very effective.

This game came to mind after a recent exchange of emails with David Crook, and after I re-read the rules it struck me that they were capable of use – after a few small changes – for a quick divisional-level wargames set during the Second World War.


Some extracts from the original rules:

Turn sequence
Each day is divided into 3 turns

  • Forenoon
  • Afternoon
  • Night
  1. US player moves
  2. Japanese player moves
  3. Both sides reveal artillery/mortar/machine gun units that will provide support fire for combat
  4. Resolve combat between hostile ground forces in the same area

Example unit: US Marine Division

  • 1 x HQ (1 figure)
  • 3 x Marine regiments, each comprising three battalions, with each battalion having three companies (1 figure = 1 company)
  • 3 x Marine assault engineer platoons (1 figure with a flamethrower = 1 platoon)
  • 1 x Marine tank battalion comprising companies of M4 Sherman tanks (1 model tank = 1 company)
  • 1 x Pioneer battalion comprising three companies (1 figure = 1 company)
  • 1 x Marine weapons battalion comprising one machine gun and one mortar company (1 weapon and 1 figure = 1 company)
  • 1 x Marine artillery regiment comprising one battery of 155 mm howitzers and three batteries of 75 mm howitzers (1 weapon and 1 figure = 1 battery)

Total = 40 figures with 3 flamethrowers, 1 machine gun, 1 mortar, 4 howitzers, and 2 tanks

Example unit: Japanese mobile defenders

  • 1 x HQ (1 figure)
  • 24 x Rifle companies (1 figure = 1 company)
  • 12 x Machine gun companies (1 weapon and 1 figure = 1 company)
  • 3 x Anti-tank gun companies (1 weapon and 1 figure = 1 company)
  • 3 x Battalion gun companies (1 weapon and 1 figure = 1 company)
  • 2 x Pack artillery batteries (1 weapon and 1 figure = 1 battery)

Total = 45 figures with 12 machine guns, 3 anti-tank guns, 3 battalion guns, and 2 pack guns

Movement
US units move 2 areas per daytime move, but 1 area per night time move whereas Japanese units move 1 are per daytime move and 2 areas per night time move. (US units moving at night could be ambushed or get lost.) Units stop as soon as they enter an area already occupied by an enemy unit.

Weapon ranges

  • Infantry weapons: Same area
  • Flamethrowers: Same area
  • Machine guns: Same or adjacent areas
  • Mortars: Up to two areas
  • Anti-tank guns: Same or adjacent areas
  • Battalion guns: Up to two areas
  • Pack guns: Up to two areas
  • US Howitzers: Unlimited range

Combat
Combat occurs between US and Japanese ground forces in the same area. Both sides can receive support from air strikes, naval gunfire or nearby artillery/machine-gun units.

  • Supporting fires roll a D6 per air strike, shore bombardment or artillery unit supporting the ground forces. Each score of 6 removes one enemy ground unit. Japanese support fire (artillery) fires first;
  • First round of ground combat roll a D6 for each ground unit in action, removing one enemy unit for each 6 scored. If one side was in sole occupancy of the area at the beginning of the turn, it rolls first and the other side’s losses are removed before firing.
  • Second and third round of ground combat. As for 2 but both sides fire simultaneously.
  • If the US forces lose more units than the Japanese they must retreat one area.
  • If the Japanese lost more than the US and advanced into the area this turn they must retreat one area. Otherwise the survivors fight on.

The above is not a complete set of rules, but they do give a flavour of how they work.


Comparing ROCO and Zvezda models of the T-34/76 tank

I decided to construct one of the Zvezda models of a T-34/76 tank to see how it compared in size with a ROCO model that I had. The results were interesting.

The Zvezda model is 1:100th-scale and the ROCO model is 1:87th-scale, and the latter should be 15% larger. In fact the main dimensions of the two models are as follows:

  • ROCO: 68mm x 34mm
  • Zvezda: 61mm x 30mm

When compared, the ROCO model is 7mm (and therefore 11.5%) longer and 4mm (and therefore 13.3%) wider than the Zvezda model.

The most noticeable difference is the height of the two models. The ROCO is 30mm high and the Zvezda model is 24mm high … which I estimate means that the ROCO model is about 2.5mm too tall.

It is reasonably well known that the ROCO model is not one of their most accurate models, but I do have a lot of them. I also have quite a few Corgi ready-painted diecast models of the T-34 from their ‘Fighting Machines’ range, which are variously described as being 1:80th or 1:72nd-scale. When these are placed alongside the Zvezda model, the difference in size is far more noticeable.


Zvezda’s Art of Tactic games: A way forward for my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project?

Over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of thinking about how best to approach starting work on my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project. One possibility that I have been considering is to take a simple quick-start short-cut … and buy a copy of Zveda’s ‘Art of Tactic’ OPERATION BARBAROSSA game.

The game components are compatible with my PORTABLE WARGAME rules. I know this because I previously owned a copy, but in what now strikes me as a fit of madness, I passed it on to another wargamer, along with a stack of unmade models that I had bought to go with it.

In terms of figures and vehicles, the basic game contains:

  • 1 x Pzkpfw II tank
  • 1 x Pzkpfw III tank
  • 1 x Opel Blitz truck
  • 3 x Bases of German infantry
  • 1 x Base of German assault engineers
  • 1 x German machine gun crew
  • 1 x Ju87 Stuka dive-bomber
  • 1 x 81mm mortar and crew
  • 1 x German HQ
  • 1 x T-34/76 tank
  • 1 x Zis-5 truck
  • 3 x Bases of Russian infantry
  • 1 x Russian machine gun and crew
  • 1 x Russian 82mm mortar and crew
  • 1 x 45mm anti-tank gun and crew
  • 1 x 37mm anti-aircraft gun and crew
  • 1 x Russian HQ

The terrain items in the box include:

  • 6 x double-sided six by four hexed terrain boards (they are actually five hexes plus two half hexes by four hexes)
  • 30 x double-sided single terrain hexes
  • 6 x hill hexes
  • 1 x Pillbox
  • 2 x Dragon’s teeth anti-tank obstacles
  • 4 x Sets of barbed wire
  • 1 x Pontoon bridge

In addition, I already have soome models I had bought some years ago during a visit to the Artillery Museum in St Petersburg. These include:

  • 1 x T-26 tank
  • 2 x T-34/76 (mod.43) tanks
  • 2 x 45mm anti-tank guns and crew
  • 2 x 76mm infantry guns and crew
  • 2 x 122mm M-30 howitzers and crew
  • 2 x 85mm anti-aircraft guns and crew

Since the first game came out, Zvezda have added several additional sets to the range including the ‘Art of Tactic’ TANK COMBAT game.

This set comprises:

  • 1 x Pzkpfw II tanks
  • 1 x Pzkpfw 38(t) tanks
  • 1 x Pzkpfw IV tanks
  • 1 x BT-5 tanks
  • 1 x T-26 tanks
  • 1 x T-34/76 (mod.40) tanks
  • 1 x double-sided four by three hexed terrain boards (they are actually four hexes by two hexes plus two half hexes)

The other two widely available games are Zveda’s ‘Art of Tactic’ BATTLE FOR MOSCOW …

and BATTLE OF STALINGRAD …

… games.

The former contains:

  • 1 x Pzkpfw III ausf.G tank
  • 1 x Pzkpfw IV ausf.D tank
  • 1 x StuG ausf.B assault gun
  • 3 x Bases of German infantry in winter uniform
  • 1 x German machine gun crew in winter uniform
  • 1 x 81mm mortar and crew in winter uniform
  • 1 x German motorcycle and sidecar
  • 1 x German HQ in winter uniform
  • 1 x T-35 tank
  • 1 x Base of Russian infantry in winter uniform
  • 2 x Bases of Russian militia infantry
  • 1 x Base of Russian ski infantry
  • 1 x Russian machine gun and crew in winter uniform
  • 1 x Russian 82mm mortar and crew in winter uniform
  • 1 x 85mm anti-aircraft gun and crew
  • 1 x Russian HQ in winter uniform
  • 6 x double-sided six by four hexed snowy terrain boards (they are actually five hexes plus two half hexes by four hexes)
  • 30 x double-sided single terrain snowy hexes
  • 6 x hill hexes
  • 1 x Pillbox
  • 2 x Dragon’s teeth anti-tank obstacles
  • 4 x Sets of barbed wire
  • 1 x Pontoon bridge
  • 8 x Smoke markers
  • 2 x Fire markers

The latter contains:

  • 1 x Pzkpfw IV tank
  • 1 x Base of German infantry in winter uniform
  • 1 x 75mm anti-tank gun and crew
  • 1 x 81mm mortar and crew in winter uniform
  • 1 x German HQ in winter uniform
  • 1 x T-34/76 tank
  • 1 x Base of Russian infantry in winter uniform
  • 1 x Russian anti-tank team
  • 1 x 76mm Zis-3 anti-tank gun and crew
  • 1 x Russian HQ in winter uniform
  • 3 x double-sided six by four hexed terrain boards, two of which are snowy (they are actually five hexes plus two half hexes by four hexes)
  • 1 x Pillbox
  • 2 x Dragon’s teeth anti-tank obstacles
  • 4 x Sets of barbed wire
  • 1 x Pontoon bridge
  • 6 x Smoke markers
  • 2 x Fire markers

By buying most or all of the above I could quickly ‘kick-start’ my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project into life … and it is certainly an option I need to think about some more.