Friday, December 30, 2016

Come Fly With Me... and the second Greek campaign battle on the Albanian frontier.

A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all the followers of Doc's 'Art of War'. The counter thingy tells me its clicked over 150,000 views which is, I believe, a milestone of sorts for this little blog so again, thanks to all who've taken the time to visit and especially comment on my eclectic wargame activities.  This year has been pretty ordinary with the loss of Bowie, Prince, Ricky Parfit (Status Quo) - great muso and a thoroughly good bloke BTW - and then to finish off the indomitable 'Princess Leila' Carrie Fisher (followed by her mum Debbie Reynolds) - and a host of others. Dropping like flies they are so it'll be good to see the back of 2016!

I thought I'd sneak in one last post for the year - a bit different as I'm more a figure collector / gamer than model-builder BUT as it involved my growing WWII collection I thought I'd show a few of my recent aircraft.  I've got a decent selection of German aircraft - JU52, JU87 Stuka, BF109 and ME110 (next will be a JU88 to complete my Mediterranean theatre Luftflotte) but wanted to finish my Italian airforce.  I had my little Macci 'Arrow' fighter but needed a heavy/ground attack fighter-bomber so just finished an S79 Sparviero trimotor. Absolute bugger to build (snapped the cockpit canopy in two and spend hours on hands and knees hunting for and invisible piece of clear plastic on a grey carpet...) but the end result was worth it. Just have a CR.42 biplane to finish and the Italian Regio Aeronautica air support for the Regio Esercito for Greece and North Africa is done.

And (below) with his escort, somewhere over the Albanian 'badlands' or Libyan desert.

After I took a few shots I decided to do a few more 'pairings'. As I have already posted on the Gloster I decided instead to do the Hurricane (that replaced them) for a 'somewhere over Greece' shot with the Blenheim, using my home-made desert battle mat as a backdrop.

JU87 Stuka and ME110 over Doc's desert battle mat (and maybe a little bit of photoshopping to rub out the air stands). And last but not least, perennial favorites the Heinkel and ME109 escort.

We had a game at Jolt in Mitchell before Christmas - the second of our Greek Campaign.  My Italian army has invaded Greece from Albania and at the same time as a lightning advance by Italian armour along the coast, a second thrust is being made in the mountainous north by Italian infantry divisions. Now I spent plenty of valuable points on an Air Forward Observation Officer (75 out of an 800 point army for a single figure!) but unlike the first game didn't get to use him as I left it too late and we ran out of time.

There was not a chance of the whitewash of the first game with Mark's horribly outnumbered Greeks being pummeled by  artillery, air and armour - this time they were in a heavily defended frontier in one of three(!) indestructible pillboxes (also the Italian objectives!) or behind stout (Greek) stonewalls - and only outnumbered 2 to 1 by attacking Italians with NO armour (yikes!)  I thought I had offset this by bringing along a Canone da 75 but that didn't survive two rounds before being taken out by a Greek howitzer (WWI Austrian issue!)
The Italian 75, having been towed into position by the GoGo-mobile, open fire on the Greeks... only to be obliterated by the Greek howitzer opposite!
Italians under heavy fire, try a coordinated assault with the Alpini to their right who spent most of the game trying to winkle around the other Greek flank - they copped a shellacking but kept on a-commin'!

The prelim bombardment wasn't nearly as effective this time although it got several valuable pins on the middle bunker. The entrenched Greek howitzer on the far right was untouched - very bad for me!
My useless air observer and my very useful sniper team move up.
'Alpini' (subbed for by my Bersaglieri figures) try to sneak up under cover on the right - still a lot of open ground to cover!
The preliminary bombardment - a few pin markers and a spectacular hit on one bunker/objective that achieved... not much! 
Mark's light mortar quickly zeroed in on the Italians crossing open ground - it proved to be quite a nuisance! (so much so I was inspired to make one up for my Greek platoon!)
The Italians on the left try and work their way around to a position where they can rush the bunker opposite. Conspicuously they had a very Italian-like failure of nerve at the daunting prospect of crossing the open to rush the bunker.  This held up and threatened to stall the entire Italian attack.

After having finally eliminated the Greek infantry covering the gun position, the Alpini/Bersas prepare to assault the gun position (objective 3) while the other (much depleted) section charge recklessly at the Greek HMG in the bunker (objective 2). unfortunately that's as far as we got as we ran out of time after six? turns.

The Italians come under heavy fire advancing in the open against the Greeks behind yet another stone wall but the real hero of the piece was the sniper on the hill behind them.  Despite coming under intense HMG fire and loosing his spotter, he calmly took aim and took out the Greek Captain, which compromised their entire defense.

The last act of the game: the Italians finally worked up to nerve to assault the bunker, which they took after yet another vicious round of hand-to-hand. Similarly to the first game the Greek defenders took out the same number of Italians including their NCO, selling their lives dearly for Greece!

The Greeks lost very heavily in this game, losing most of their units but also managing to inflict some heavy losses on the Italians - particularly the 75 gun!   

Although a 5 to 1 result it could have easily been the other way and as the Italians were only able to seize one of three objectives the game was a draw and the Italian offensive in the north is deemed to have stalled.  The Italians had a very hard nut to crack with no less than four fortified defenses to overcome but the Greeks were disadvantaged by having useless AT rifles in bunkers were they should have had MGs (had I have known I would have given them the extra I had with me). Despite attempts to fight the third game before Christmas it proved too much with everyone including myself committed to Christmas/family/shopping/lunches at work etc etc. 

Well must away and finish the Italians Santa very cleverly bought me (how did he know?) including a German Kradshutzen squad which I have just converted into a Bersaglieri Moto Guzzi squad - including with a handlebar mounted Breda LMG! I've also given the Italians a Flak 38 by converting the crew (and much blue language assembling that bloody gun - sorry Santa!) The Bersas also get more Baretta SMGs and an Autoblinda AC to complete my armoured scouting unit. I'll post photos when I finish them. 

Thanks again to all followers of Doc's Art of War in 2016. Hope you enjoyed what I've posted even if you didn't enjoy the rather long lapses between those postings! Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year to all.

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