Wednesday 29 July 2020

US Combat Engineers with Satchel Charges

Combat Engineers are often described as 'Force Multipliers' because they enhance the survival of regular troops. In the US Engineer Soldiers Handbook (Field Manual 21-105 issued June 1943) it goes further, telling new engineers... "You are going to make sure that our own troops move ahead against all opposition, and you are going to see that enemy obstacles do not interfere with our advance". While this may mean building bridges or laying communication lines, there are also combat tasks that need to be performed that require an engineer at the tip of the spearhead. 

Chapter 9 of the Handbook is entitled Assault of a Fortified Position and describes how multiple teams of engineers can work towards fixed enemy positions to destroy them. Brevity must have been the order of the day when writing this chapter because it consists of two short pages. Reading it you are left in no doubt that some of the duties of a combat engineer were highly dangerous. 
"A typical prepared defensive system of fortifications consists of a number of mutually supporting strong points, such as concrete emplacements called 'Pill-boxes'. The best way many of these can be destroyed is by foot troops armed with special weapons. It's a difficult combined-arms job to which engineers are often assigned. It requires aggressiveness, skill, speed, teamwork, courage, and determination."

These models by Peter Pig are carrying M2 Demolition Satchel Charges. In the post-war period they were called M37 Demolition Charges but these later versions used C4 (not invented until 1956) while the second world war versions were filled with eight blocks of TNT. They included two priming assemblies and a 'ripcord' type pull igniter. Try as I might I haven't been able to find out what the timer length was on these (if you know, please leave a comment below) although I imagine it could be set by the engineer depending on how it was being used. 

Sunday 26 July 2020

My Dice Hate Me

My ability to fail a crucial morale check or a lose a supposedly unlosable melee has become legendary. Dice are supposed to be randomizers that will give a range of results... But not for me. It's recognised that I consistently underperform when a dice roll is called for, so much so it has become a running joke. Friday's episode of The Quarantined Wargamer I discuss the desperation that a Dice Curse can produce in gamers, and give a few real-world examples of when the dice have let me down. 

As usual, I would ask that if you enjoyed the video you hit the Like button, consider subscribing to my  Channel and join the conversation by leaving your stories in the comments section. Next week I'll be discussing the importance of taking notes or keeping a painting diary. Until then, stay safe and keep rolling high! 

Wednesday 22 July 2020

WWII Germany Army Medics

With the bulk of my combat troops painted and rebased, I decided it was time to work on some ancillary troops like medics. I recently bought these German Medics from Peter Pig and I really like the details on them. From what I have seen in various photo's online it looks like they wore regular army uniform but supplemented this with a white helmet with red crosses clearly painted on front and rear. Some pictures show large red crosses others have smaller ones on all four sides of the helmet. These guys also have medical red cross tabards over their uniforms and I painted in armbands as well as to finish the 'uniform'. Two of the medics also carry a medical haversack marked with a red cross. 

Official German medical haversacks had a horsehair cover, but this was very heavy when it got wet. From what little I have read a regular canvas haversack was prefered and a lot of the pictures I have seen show German Medics utilising canvas haversacks. 

From what little I have read medics were largely (but unfortunately not exclusively) treated as non-combatants by both sides. Firing on a medic was against the Geneva Conventions and was therefore considered a war crime, although that didn't stop examples of some SS using wounded men as bait and shooting allied medics. However, on the whole, this was not the case, although it was still a hazardous job. Battlefield medics on both sides saved countless lives and fought their war with little more than medical scissors, gauze and if they were lucky, morphine. Historian Stephen Ambrose once said that whenever a veteran spoke about someone as "the bravest man I ever knew" they were usually speaking about a medic. 

Sunday 19 July 2020

Top tips for Buying on eBay

eBay is without a doubt a great place to look for bargains, find out of stock or heritage items, but it can be a bit caveat emptor (buyer beware). It is not always the cheapest option, especially if you get carried away in an auction, and buying from private sellers can be an 'interesting' experience. The latest episode of The Quarantined Wargamer lists my top tips on how to get the best out of buying on eBay.

If you have any extra tips you'd like to share please leave a comment here or on YouTube, I'd love to hear from you. As always I'd ask that you consider subscribing to my channel so you never miss an opportunity to see me make a fool of myself! You can always unsubscribe later when you get fed up of looking at my ugly mug. 😉

Sunday 12 July 2020

Top Ten Impulse Buying Disasters

Sometimes buying on instinct can lead to some costly mistakes. Let my top ten mistakes act as a morality tale for the impulse buyer! The latest episode of The Quarantined Wargamer is a sorry tale of wasted opportunities and, more importantly, wasted cash. Unfortunately, many of the mistakes I have made have been repeated by others, so I'm not alone. 

As usual, I would ask you to consider subscribing to my YouTube Channel and please join the conversation by leaving your stories of shopping woe either in the feedback section on youtube or in the comments below. Next week I'm discussing how to shop a little more wisely, when I discuss my top tips for buying on eBay. Until then, stay safe and keep rolling high! 

Wednesday 8 July 2020

US Mine Clearance Teams

Its been a busy week (...actually it's been a busy few months!!) so this week I have just a single three-man team painted. These are US Mine Clearance Engineers from Peter Pig. Although the models have a square plate detector head I expect this is a variation or development of the widely used SCR-625 Mine Detector which was used extensively by US engineers.

The SCR-625 was the original portable mine detector, developed in the early days of World War II. It saw first use in 1942 in North Africa and consisted of a six-foot pole with a coil mounted under a plate at its head. The coil was connected to dry-cell batteries usually carried in a haversack, the entire detector weighing about 7.5 pounds. The detector produced a low humin the operator's headset and the pitch would change if a metal object was detected. The detector could locate objects up to 12 inches below the surface although technically mines were supposed to be laid 18 inches deep although thankfully that was rarely the case.

The operators would often work in pairs and swing the detectors across the ground earning them the nickname 'Outdoor carpet sweepers'. The operator didn't clear the mines, instead, he would point out the location of the mine and another man following him would mark the spot. Other teams would then follow and deactivate the mines. It all sounds very hazardous but the process was quite effective, especially in the dry and often flat landscape of North Africa. However, in wet conditions such as in North-West Europe, the machines lack of waterproofing proved to be a bit of a disadvantage!

Saturday 4 July 2020

A Tentative return to the Wargames Table?

Changes to Social Distancing rules in England come into effect today that means that for some of us, tabletop wargaming with friends can resume. Don't get too excited though, there are still restrictions in place that will limit the number of players that can gather at any one time. 

I say it in my video and I'll repeat it here, these changes only apply to England and if you live in other parts of the UK you will need to check what the rules are where you live. Still, for many of us its a welcome step towards a return to gaming as usual. How long this lasts, or what changes may come into effect down the line, depend on national infection rates, health advice and of course politics! 

If you enjoyed this video please leave a comment either here or on my YouTube channel, and please consider subscribing so you don't miss out on any of my silly little videos. You can always unsubscribe later if I get on your wick! 😉  

Next week the Quarantined Wargamer will be on a lighter note when I discuss my top ten impulse buying disasters! In the meantime, keep safe everyone and keep rolling high! 

Wednesday 1 July 2020

US .30cal MMG Teams

This week I have been working on some .30cal MMG teams for my US forces in Chain of Command. I have been very busy with work over the last couple of weeks, so this was all I had the energy to attempt. The models are from Peter Pig and are wonderfully detailed. They will give me some much needed optional support for my US infantry platoons. 

The .30cal was a medium machine gun and was used in various functions throughout the war, being fitted in aircraft, coaxially in vehicles and as a company support weapon for infantry. In its infantry support role, it usually came with a low slung tripod and weighed in at about 31lb. Actually, there were various versions of the gun because it was quickly found to be too heavy to be easily moved, but too light for a sustained fire role. Later versions had a heavier barrel and tripod and were serviced by a crew of five men; a squad leader; a gunner and assistant gunner and two ammunition carriers

These teams just feature the gunner and his assistant but I can put three other figures with them to make the whole fire team. I now have enough 'spare' Leader figures and riflemen to make up whatever combinations I need. 

I'm not sure what I'm painting next... I have recently received an order of Germans to add to my Panzergrenadier platoon so I may start on those next. I'm also giving some thought to buying the figures for a third platoon, possibly British or Canadian, I have yet to make up my mind. Hmmm, maybe I'll spend some time today spending some money. That'll cheer me up!