Monday, 31 July 2017

Kakstadt Gap, July 1979 - part 3

The dreaming spires of Kakstadt Ost - border defences to the fore, Party HQ in the background.
As the US advance began, a lapse in NATO air superiority allowed a DDR airstrike to sneak through.  Bertrand was initially excited at this news but his shoulders visibly slumped when I handed him this pair of antiques.
Notwithstanding the antiquity of the planes the strike was very effective.
At this point the border defences opened up with artillery and mortar fire.
A gap in the minefield was swiftly created and the US armour trundled through.
By now Sgt. Yuk was deployed to prevent further Warpact air incursions.
NATO then had another go at the border defences.  A further air strike by this F-84G was followed by...
...some commendably accurate gunnery.  Warpact fire slackened noticeably.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Kakstadt Gap, July 1979 - part 2

Following the NATO air recce an airstrike arrived to paste the border defences.  This French F-100D Super Sabre has appeared in previous games - it is one of my more photogenic models.
The NATO planning map.  It is marked with the air recce routes.  North is to the right, to NATO forces were to emerge through the worryingly narrow Kakstadt Gap in the west (top of the image).  The border defences were held by a couple of motor rifle companies with borders guards and other bits and pieces further to the rear.  More news on the DDR forces as they become visible.  A SAM site was identified east of the railway and an air defence battery (Shilka?) north of the village.
The NATO SF detachments were at the Stasi HQ(!) in the schloss and at the tractor factory - the latter detachment disguised as DDR border guards.
Toys were deployed as required - not least because of the constant threat of rain!
The initial NATO air raid.  The Luftwaffe contributed a pair of F-104, the French an F-100D and an F-84G.
The F-84 had emerged from the Partizan Plane Purchase last year.
The Stasi search for SF radio signals.
DDR HQ deploys forwards.
The NATO strike planes fly off - risking SAM and Shilka on the way home.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Bastogne - European Road Trip Day five, part 1

Back across the border to Belgium now, where we have moved smoothly from 1916 to 1944!  We parked up in Place du General Patton and crossed the road to Place General McAuliffe.  Here there is a preserved Sherman.

The bust of the General commemorates his role as commander of 101st Airborne Div during the Ardennes offensive in 1944.
This dodgy character was spotted near the Sherman.

Speaking of Shermans, there are more in the relatively new Bastogne War museum, just north of town.  We walked - after a morning driving we were ready for a bit of a stretch.
I rather enjoyed this photo of King Leopold inspecting a 47mm AT gun.  The perky little dog rather detracts from the warlike tone of the scene!
Being an indoor museum many of the exhibits were tricky to photograph well.
Nice Hetzer in 'ambush' camo.
VW Kubel with SS markings.
Another Sherman - this one took a hit right between the reinforced armour areas.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Kakstadt Gap, July 1979 - part 1

This was a Little Cold Wars game played in Bertrand's garden in Norfolk.  

NATO briefing - Operation Extreme Penetration

The Warpact assault which began a few days ago has stalled in some sectors, including the area around Kakstadt.  In the US forces which initially crumbled under the Warpact assault, incompetent commanders have been weeded out, including Colonel Cordery and Major King.  No details of their fate have been released.  In fairness, it must be said that the DDR forces have also been purged and the whereabouts of Col. I C Druryov have yet to be determined.

Newly arrived NATO forces have been tasked to counter attach the relatively weak East German forces in this sector and to drive deep into the DDR.

Local DDR forces are reputedly led by a former Stasi officer who previously spent some time in the west, disguised – rather unconvincingly – as a man of the cloth.

NATO has been reinforced by French forces meaning ample supplies of wine and squishy cheese.  And some tanks.  The American Colonel Jack ‘blood and guts’ Wright has been joined by Major ‘hell on wheels’ Hartley and the French Colonels De Cerf and ‘dangereux’ Droite.

An initial ground assault by a US battalion will be followed by a brigade-level heliborne landings (Operation Painful Plunge) behind the enemy front line.  The airborne troops will lay a ‘carpet’ along which the main ground force will advance.  What could go wrong?

The plan. 
Be thinking about where to land the paras, including approach and departure routes for the helis.
Land forces.  Where and when are they entering and what are their initial and subsequent objectives.
Air support.  You have a lot of it – when and where do you want it?
SF forces.  Can be deployed anywhere.

NATO Forces

French Armoured Brigade:
15 and 22 Armoured Regts with AMX-30 and AMX-10P
each with attached AT, engr, AA plts
2 Recce Co
US Mech btl with 2 inf and 1 tank co*

NATO Airmobile Brigade
US Airmobile Btl + 4 Heli*
UK Airborne Btl
French Para Btl + 5 Heli

Air Support
Fighters – FAF Mirage, USAF F-104
Recce – FAF Jaguar
Strike – FAF F-100D, USAF A-10, 4 GAF F-104

Special Forces
2 SF recce parties – one British SAS and one from any other NATO nation.  May be deployed anywhere.  May move and have comms back to NATO. May be in East German Police uniforms.

DDR Forces amounted to a reinforced regiment:
A knocked-about motor rifle regiment - one MR btl, one tank btl and regimental assets.  
1 company of Willi Sanger special forces  - helicopter mobile.
Limited air assets.
Around a battalion-worth of Border Guards.

 Play opened with the NATO air recce missions - one at high level and the other low.
 The air recce photos showed border defences...
 ...border guards going about their business...
 ...railway sidings near the inevitable...
 ...tractor factory!

Coming next - hostilities open.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Dun sur Meuse

On the nights either side of our Verdun visit we parked up at a nice little aire at the side of the Meuse.  You're never far away from that river in this part of France.
This time we were the second of eventually eight motorhomes to arrive and having drained and replenished the water tanks we had no trouble finding a nice spot and getting plugged in to the mains electricity supply.  Not bad for €8 a night.
And then there was the view.  In the early evenings boats chugged past at the rate of one every couple of hours.

 Sara spottted a heron on the far bank...
 ...and with the camera at maximum zoom I bagged these photos of 'Ron' as we shall always think of him.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Memorial de Verdun - European Road Trip Day four, part 3

Near Douaumont is this new museum.  I say new as it was only opened in early 2016.
The building contains some very well presented displays of 'big toys'.  I was particularly taken with this Berliet lorry

 French 105mm 
  French 90mm M1877
 Field kitchen.  I'm not now sure if this is French or German.
 The 90mm again.

 Various trench mortars.

 Part of the impressive display of small arms.
  Repro Fokker E.1 and Nieuport 17.  Models in 1:1 scale!

 Limber for French '75.
 Carrier pigeon basket. 
 another field kitchen  
 Models of German and French observation balloons.