Sunday, 24 December 2017

Stonne 2: Set Up

Looking at the landscape around Stonne and possible table sizes, I decided on using just one 35" x 22" wargaming table which, if using what is now my usual 1.5" = 100m ground scale, will give me a 2.3km x 1.5km battlefield. This is enough to recreate all from a little West of Stonne village all the way over to Les Cendrières Farm and including the Northern approaches to the escarpment and Mont Hébreu and the Terre des Dix Cents.

Stonne plateau, 2.3km x 1.5km

I found the insulation foam landforms that I had always used for fictional games a bit restrictive for recreating an actual landscape, so I had to chop them about a bit. Fortunately I had some old river bend sections which were geographically too extreme for most wargames tables, so they got customized for this scenario.

Le Bac de Stonne, below the escarpment

Les Cendrières Farm

Terre de Dix Cents

This will be the scene for a series of encounters, recreating the various attacks and counterattacks on Stonne village, involving elements of:
  • Großdeutschland infantry & other regiments
  • 37mm AT units from the 14th PzJagr Abt
  • Panzer IVDs of the 8th Panzer Regt and attached PzJgr Is
  • Stuka air attacks
  • Panhard 178s of the 6th GRDI
  • Char Bs of the 41st & 49th BCC
  • Hotchkiss H39s of the 45th BCC
  • FCM36s of the 4th BCC
  • 25mm AT pln
I will be making significant use of Walter Moore's Armoured Fist Stonne scenario booklet (which is available on Wargame Vault here), as he has done much of the organizational work already.

The only delay might be in putting highlights on a few Panzers for photography reasons.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Pondering Tanks 'At An Angle' and the 'Glancing Off' Effect

There is usually a mechanism in rule sets covering AFVs & anti-tank fire to determine whether front or side armour should be targeted. In simple terms, attackers want their AP rounds to impact the target AFV as close to perpendicular as possible to reduce the chance of glancing off.

I have seen rules where a line is drawn from the further rear corner and through the nearer front one and extending towards the attacker. Depending which side of the imaginary line the attacker finds itself decides if front or side armour is targeted.
The problem with this is that the proportions of length and width determine the frontal arc: long, thin AFVs like the SdKfz 232 or Churchill to some extent, are penalised by having a smaller frontal armour arc but more square AFVs benefit from a wider frontal arc. This is in spite of most tanks having front & side armour at an angle of about 90° to each other but this method is not often used.

More satisfactory is the common 45° rule applied to the nearest corner of the target AFV. Again, a line is projected forward, this time at 45° to the front & sides and attacker placement in relation to the line determines which face of the target AFV is more 'flat on'.

Both methods treat the target AFV as metal boxes, with no rounded corners such as on the Sherman or Somua S35. By rights, if a rounded corner is hit, the face of the armour may well be perpendicular to the direction of the shell travel but where armoured faces meet may however be effectively thicker and stronger.

In any case, until recently there was a penalty in my rules if aiming at armour presented at shallow angles. This was to penalise attackers aiming at weaker side (and rear!) armour which may be at a far from ideal angle for penetration, thus simulating the 'glancing off' effect. At the same time, although I do not plot the fall of shells as such (or even take sloped armour very much into effect), I did not want to disallow targeting weaker parts of AFVs on some arbitrary principle of angles, if such shots might have been attempted in real engagements.

So in bed the other night, I got to wondering if there was a geometric formula or mechanism to decide the issue once and for all, obviously taking into account the target position/angle and also the relative thickness of front & side or side & rear armour but not the sloping of glacis plates and so on which would be another matter.

As expected, it is a very complex subject.

High velocity rounds (I suppose this could include the 2pdr and 37mm L45  as well as the 88mm Flak, during the France 1940 period) generate a good deal of heat on impact and can penetrate due to the softening of armour and grooving caused by the shell.

If we look at a Panzer III, which had a nominal 30mm of armour front & sides, one of the two faces is going to be presented at somewhere near to 90° to the LOS from attacker, so it doesn't make a lot of difference whether front or side is targeted, using this model. A Panzer IVD with 30mm of armour on the front and 20mm on the side is a different prospect. You would think that having 30% thinner armour on the sides means that shots would be able to strike at slightly more oblique angles and still be somewhat effective. Although there are exceptions, many tanks seem to fall like the Panzer IV into the 1.25 to 1.3 front to side armour ratios (at least in France 1940) but is that enough to justify taking shots at armour which is going to be angled at 45-60°?

I would say for game balance, it is not:

  • I haven't done the maths for obvious reasons but my gut feeling is that thinner side armour would only allow 5-10° of extra shooting angle
  • There would be yet another stat to look up on the charts, or a ruling could be applied across all AT weapon muzzle velocities and variations of front, side & rear AFV armour
  • The game would be slowed down with more fiddling about with odd-angled triangles, t-squares and other obscure implements

Perhaps it would be possible in some 28mm or 54mm 1:1 wargame but on reflection, it's not something I would want to simulate!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Stonne: 1 Research

Someone in the France 1940 Wargaming Facebook group posted about receiving Critical Hit's Stonne boardgame and while looking into some of his queries about the action, I found out why so many gamers end up playing out this scenario.

The village changed hands 17 or 18 times in the space of a couple of days but I don't know if you can call it a skirmish as there were apparently 30-odd dead tanks in the aftermath.

I couldn't resist doing a few Then & Now's with some photos taken by (presumably) the eventually victorious Germans (there are loads on the internet and beyond)...
Panzer IVD "711"
Rue de 15 Mai 1940, as the main street is called today
Pz IVD number 711 was photographed a great deal by passing Germans due to the graves of it's crew alongside...

 Some of the French Char Bs hulks in Stonne itself...

"Gaillac". Crew died in their tank.
"Hautvillers". Crew captured.
Not the exact angle but shows the resting places of the two Char Bs
"Chinon". Crew killed while baling out.
Approximate position of "Chinon" on open land called le Moulin à Vent
Then I started planning the table size and looking at the landscape a bit closer, to see what features I'd want to include in the tabletop.

Distances & gaps
 From a Google Earth view, I could now visualise the area involved.

It is only 1800m from La Besace to the Gallo-Roman burial mound, now called the "le Pain de Sucre" in Stonne and 1250m across that valley. Other gaps between the various forests are 90-640m, perfect for translation to the wargaming table.

Topographical map
Then I started screen grabbing various views off Google Earth which illustrate the landforms and
general feel of some of the approaches & landmarks.

View down Le Grand Rue in Le Besace 
Stonne escarpment on the left
The lane to Les Cendrières from the D3
Terre de Dix Cents, between Les Cendrières & Stonne (centre horizon) 
On the D130, Stonne is beyond Mont Hébreu (centre left)
The road from Les Grandes Armoises with the Moulin à Vent beyond the ploughed field
Les Cendrières Farm
Back road to  Les Grandes Armoises
Gaillac & Hautvillers lay down to the left, dead Panzers on the top road
Rues des Pâquis and Napoléon III (left), Stonne 
Back lane up to the hairpin bend area, forested rear slopes of the escarpment (Les Cendrières obscured)
This has been an interesting diversion that I've been able to do while away from home or when not working on the production of my Kickstarter forest rewards.

I can hardly wait for the day when I start terraforming the tabletop for my Stonne recreation and 'what-ifs"

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

!! 6mm and Small Scale Forests For Sale from TerrainShed !!

When a gamer looks down on the wargaming table, it's a bit like the view from a medium level bomber. The trees seem to join together in one continuous forest canopy. Local colour variations of individual trees blend together.

Resilient dense tree canopy style woods and forests that hide your miniatures from view!

'Tree trunks' provide headroom for miniatures, so they aren't disturbed when
the foliage is lifted and can be adjusted for when the forest is on a hillside (in photos of my earlier games,  the original stick supports were used. The new ones are better!)

The supports are always held firm with no wear and tear on the foliage.

No more turrets displaced or picking your way through individual trees!

Can be placed on slopes, unlike individual tree type forests.

Looks good close up or from the usual long distance gamers' view.

(pictures above are from my own gaming collection with custom shapes)

The four shape designs using Spring, Summer & Autumn foliages
Each set is cut from a standard 7" x 7" (18cm x 18cm) section of tree canopy material and is available as per the TerrainShed website.
In any case, other sizes and shapes can be made by order. 

There are six Spring/Summer foliage styles available off the shelf... 
  • Oak
  • Birch
  • Evergreen
  • Winter scene
  • Blossom (out of stock)
...two Autumnal...
  • Early Autumn
  • Late Autumn
...and three Winter styles:
  • Winter (just a few leaves)
  • Frosty
  • Snowy

Each forest set comes complete with:
  • bark coloured tree trunk supports for each corner and sides of the forest canopy, plus a few spares
  • instructions & useful tips
  • sturdy storage box
Feel free to contact me with any purchases, queries, special size requirements or custom foliage jobs, either through this blog, at or on TerrainShed Wargaming on Facebook.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Forests Kickstarter has gone live!

I'd already advertised the two sets of forest tree canopies I'd made as a test on eBay just to see what the interest was.

Nothing, not a bid nor a watch.

After 6mil Phil's bocage hedges did so well on Kickstarter and after much encouragement/nagging by Robert of 2D6 Wargaming, I was convinced me that KS could not only raise the funds for my initial bulk purchases but be a means of advertising for the products as well.

So there it is, live now and 35% funded as we speak.

I posted links up to all the Facebook groups I could find, Robert did a short review of the two (unsold!) sets and I upgraded my Wargaming Website Forum subscription to 'trader' (only £5 for the first 3 months, then the same per calendar month thereafter) so that I could advertise. I will do a promotional video of my own to follow (it was all a bit sudden, I thought the KS would take a few days to get approval but as I had the option of activating it straight away, I thought it was now 3 days time!). At least the trickle of promotional gubbins might keep my project 'bumped' on the web.

Here's hoping!

Sunday, 23 April 2017


I'd just finished a light repaint, putting decals on and weathering all my Scotia Belgian tanks (T15s, T13s & ACG-1s) when I came across the story of the bridge at Briedgen near Maastricht being destroyed in a daring counter-attack by the Belgians. In point of fact it was only a fairly minor canal crossing (the East-West oriented intact bridges at Veldwezelt, Vroenhoven and Kanne being far more useful) and so was rather lightly defended as a result. I did use a bit of artistic licence and threw all my Belgian tanks in, a Fairey Battle ground attack and opted for no German CAP flights in what was possibly a quiet sector of the front, by comparison. 

After a careful approach, the T13s shell a roadside villa near the bridge, 60mm mortars deploy and Belgian motorised infantry fan out across the lavender fields. After reporting in by field telephone, the Flakvierling on this side of the canal scarper before the advancing light tanks.

The 47mm guns on the T13s get a round straight through a window, killing half of the German section on picquet and setting fire to the villa. The suppressed survivors tumble out of the back.

Approaching from the abandoned casemate, the ACG-1s drive off two of the German AA guns.

 The German garrison begins to stir, first the cavalry, the Panzer Is and the Panzer IIs.

The German light tanks, still without their CO and without proper orders, probe towards the sounds of firing.

At the allotted time, a distraction flank attack begins on the German side of the canal. Greatly outnumbered, the second Radschützen detachment in the farm lay low to attack the rear of the passing Belgian cycle infantry column.

Engineers sneak towards the bridge covered by the leading penny packet of Belgian tanks. The Panzer IIs go to seek cover in the wood, only to find it is too dense to enter.

There is a great clattering of hooves in the cobbled market street as the cavalry canters towards the battle.

In the open but in position, the 47mm armed tanks keep the Panzers at bay while the Sappers get to work.

A 'fumble' roll of 100 from a T13 by the blockhouse resulted in a 'bad weather/fog' wildcard, which I interpreted as mist rising from the nearest point of the canal. This was actually quite convenient for the Allies.

The HQ of the left flank, CO of the ACG-1s and another 60mm mortar section reach the grounds of Brughoven Church. The cycle infantry follow more light tanks into the churchyard and what turns out to be an open wood.

A little later than expected, the bombing run from a flight of Fairey Battles goes in on the village, decimating the already half-strength Radschützen platoon (due to the two detachments on guard duty) and taking out a Panzer III and the squadron Panzerbefehlswagen.

Unfortunately, the pre-arranged flight path took the light bombers directly over the three remaining Flakvierling (blue tiddlywinks = AA overwatch). Ginger catches a packet and nose-dives into a field of sprouts.

The plucky surviving RAF crews wheel round to line up their second and final bomb run.

The Radschützen in the farm spring their 'trap' (if you can call it that) but only accounting for one squad killed and another suppressed. In fact, by rolling '100' for the MG34, the wildcard drawn in the Allies favour enabled them to intercept the orders for the as yet unobserved German infantry advancing on the church. 

Near the bridge, like a fox caught in the open, the Panzer IIs are picked off one by one.

French armour draws closer and having accounted for or repulsed most of the light tanks in the centre, begin suppressing the Flak guns and shelling the Panzer company CO. The Panzer IIIs break cover in the back yards of the village shops but are faced by no less than five 47mm tank guns, three of which are in the quite decently armoured ACG-1s.

Yet another 'fumble', this time by the Panzer Is while laying down suppressing fire on the far side of the bridge results in them hearing a garbled wireless message ordering them to fall back to cover. Overrun by the Belgian infantry, the remnant of the Radschützen outpost surrenders (yellow tiddlywink. It is possible that I could devise some scenic markers to blend in more but the danger is that they will not be noticed which would defeat the object of them!).

Now fully aware of the flak positions, the Fairey Battles pick their route into the town to drop their second and final bomb load, causing heavy casualties among the evading cavalry and completely destroying what was the German HQ and staff.

On the way out of the village, though, the last Battle receives a deadly burst of 20mm flak to the belly and it plummets into the trees.

Caught by the ground attack and pounded by the ACGs on the far right, the German motorised infantry are pinned down in the back yards of the terraces.

Suddenly there is a huge detonation at the bridge, which is now a mass of twisted steel and smoking rubble. Mission accomplished!

The North Bank

The South Bank

This was, I am certain, the first time I have used ground attack aircraft and AA in a game using my rules. In fact, the last time I had a bombing mission in a game was with Stukas using the WRG 1925-1950 WW2 rules back in the 1980's and was so unimpressed with the lack of drama or feel of authenticity that I stuck to land battles thereafter!

I'd brainstormed my way through some Air-Ground and AA rules pretty solidly for a few days prior to the game (it was about time I tackled this particular 'octopus-in-the-bath'), trying to find a balance between the devastating effects of 250kg bombs exploding all around ground troops and the 'walls of flak' encountered by Allied light bombers.There were no game mechanic anomalies that I noticed, just the usual dice generated randomness which is to be expected (the German cavalry platoon could have quite easily ended up routing as they suffered half a dozen casualties as each time they were testing at -20% due to the air raid but just kept it together) and the heavy losses by the Allied flyers was entirely borne out by real-life events, too.

A little brushing up on garrison activation, I think, as it took far too long for the Panzer IIIs and motorised infantry to 'wake up'. Possibly just dicing as per reinforcement variable arrival time which I devised partway through the game and applied to the Fairey Battles (1 turn late) and Belgian diversionary attack (on time). Also, demolition rules could be a little more concrete (if that isn't a contradiction of some sort) and a little less fudgy for my liking.

I hope to have the Type A roundels from Dom's Decals on the Fairey Battle fuselages next time around too. You may be able to see that the T15s, T13s & ACG-1s all sport his 1/600th scale Belgian aircraft roundels, variously on tank hull or turret sides, my first totally complete tank troops including troop & squadron markings.