Saturday, February 6, 2010

Amboshan Hill

The clock is ticking down to February 27th; on that day the West Tokyo Wargamers have their first games day at the local community centre, and one of the games slated for that day is our first try at Blitzkrieg Commander in an August 1945 scenario set in Manchuria.

The scenario is basically a simple one to try out the rules (the old edition rather than the new revised set, which I don't yet have).  

A battalion of Japanese infantry is dug in along a trench line on the Amboshan hills surrounding the city of Hailar, which is a strategic objective of the Soviet forces in the region.  

The Forward Detachment of the 36th Army has been sent to reconnoitre the area, to disrupt the Japanese defences and to make sure that the initiative is siezed and held by the RKKA.  A battalion of the 220th Independent Tank Brigade, with supporting infantry and other assets, has been tasked with trying to winkle them out.

The Japanese force is basically infantry.  They can count on on-board support in the way of a section (1 model) of Shinhota Type 97 tanks and one of Ho-Ni SPG's.  

Additional support may consist of two sections of Ha-Go tankettes and some guns and mortars.  But this will be subject to the fog of war (and the post office- I just ordered these today from SHQ Miniatures in the UK). If not,  then we will just use off-table artillery.

Giovanni and I sat down yesterday and commenced work on painting the Japanese.  Plastic figures from Esci and Atlantic which, while they will not be contenders for any painting awards, will do the job.

The more fortunate Russians will have an overwhelming advantage in armour in both numbers and quality,  not to mention support weapons, but the Japanese will be entrenched and will benefit from hidden deployment.   I've no idea how this will play out in terms of balance of forces, but that is not really the purpose of the game; we want to see how the rules work!

So what needs to be done before the day of battle?  A fair amount still!  

1)  The 1st Battalion of the 220th Tank Brigade is ready to roll, as is most of its infantry.  I still need to paint the SMG stands and a 76.2mm ATG, but essentially they are chomping on the bit and ready for action at last.

2)  Trenches and terrain- I will be using Kallistra trenches which I bought for some WW1 Italian theatre games intended for 28mm figures, but 20mm miniature stands will fit nicely.  I need to add some wooden parapets and sandbags, texture the trench tops and paint them all.  Straightforward, if somewhat monotonous (and messy!) work.  

Other terrain will be a bunker or two and maybe a building, but as the game is set on a mountain side there is not so much need for buildings, as there is for rocky outcrops.

3) Japanese tanks- I need to build and paint these this coming week.  Not difficult models, and they will simply get a coat of khaki drab rather than the more intricate camouflage schemes used in the Pacific.  

But whatever colour I paint them, they will look sadly inadequate when placed next to the T-34/85's.  The Russian tanks are not only qualitatively light-years ahead of the Japanese vehicles, but operate to a doctrine developed by an army which had  just a few months earlier whipped the German Wehrmacht- the previous masters of armoured warfare- and which had learned to beat the Germans at their own game.

I was hoping to field more tanks for the Japanese, but Fujimi has- rather treacherously!- taken them both out of production, so a single Shinhoto and one Ho-Ni is all the Japanese are going to get unless SHQ come through with the tankettes in time for the game!  

Not that they will have the Soviet tankers trembling in their boots, mind...

If anyone out there has any of these two kits surplus to requirements, I'd be glad to take them off your hands!

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