Welcome to Cold War Gamer, a blog I am using to record my Cold War wargaming projects. These range from fictitious Cold War hot projects to historical conflicts that took place around the globe throughout the Cold War era, all modelled and gamed in 20mm. The blog includes links to various resources useful to the Cold War Gamer.

My current projects include: Central Front; British & Soviet. South African Border War; Angolans and South Africans. Soviet Afghan War; Soviets and Afghans

Friday, 27 January 2012

Review - Model 1/72, S&S FV620 Stalwart




S&S's Stalwart is a very welcome addition to their range and a model which is otherwise difficult to come by.  The Model out of the box represents an early version with the trim vein still in use.  In the latter part of the vehicles service the requirement to swim was dropped and the trim veins removed.  The Model comes as a single casting for the hull and six metal wheels which fit into resesses in the hull ensuring simple assembly.  The quality of the casting was excellent requiring no clean up or filling.




I used mine to provide an ammunition supply truck for my artillery battery and a platform for the Unit Based Refuelling Equipment (UBRE) for the Battle Group supply echelon.  I scratch built the UBRE from card stock but if you don't fancy that challenge BW models also produce one.



In addition to the UBRE, green suff hessian rolls were added and the commanders search light, which came out of the spares box, Decals came from the TS Modelblau's British set and from a set of hazard markers available from the Hobby den



The second vehicle I built as a more general supply wagon, and am using it as the resupply vehicle for an artillery battery.  It has a tarpaulin made out of Masking tape coated with Mr Surfacer, the rolled back edge being produced out of green stuff.



An excellent Wargames model with a wide variety of possibilities.  Shaun also produces a version for the Artillery ammunition carrier with Mechanical Handling Equipment (MHE) or a crane.



The vehicles are painted up in my standard British Camouflage scheme and marked using the Hobby Den and TL Modelblau decal sets.


Saturday, 21 January 2012

Review - Model 1/72, Britannia FV432



The choice for modelling FV 432s in 20mm is somewhat limited, Cromwell do a very nice little version in 1/76 which includes variants for the gulf wars, and up armoured versions as deployed in Iraq and they produce the only variant with the Peak GPMG turret.  in 1/72 Britannia make one either with the Mortar hatches open for use as an 81mm Mortar or 120mm Wombat variant or with the mortar hatches closed for a standard infantry models which of course can provide the basis for a range of conversion opportunities.

Other useful supplies to consider include BW models range of highly useful stowage items ranging from, weapons and ammo boxes through to chieftain stowage bins which were regularly added to FV 432s for additional stowage.

Decal sets, useful for cold war British can be found in TL Modelblau's 1/87 military range and BW models decal range.


TL Modelblau's British Decals


The Model

The model is a single piece casting which is instantly recognisable as the FV432. The exhaust system on the right hand side of the vehicle marks the vehicle as a Mk 2, the petrol driven Mk1s had the exhaust mounted on the roof.  The exhaust is well represented as are the mortar hatches on the top of the vehicle although these are quite thick.  The commanders cupola can be modelled with the hatch open or shut but the drivers hatch is fixed open. On the left side of the vehicle the hatches that give access to the NBC pack are represented and on the front the engine access hatch and light clusters are well done.  The smoke grenade discharger units are of the wrong type. The Rear door and stowage bins are good however the fire extinguishers mounted on the rear door are very basic.



The models surface usually contains a number of bubble defects but most of these can be rectified with filler, the worst damage any of mine have arrived with is a broken driver figure which is part of the resin casting, it requires a reasonable amount of effort to clean up and replace.

Variants

For my 1980's battle group I have built some 432s with the Peak GPMG turret which I scratch built from card stock.





Those I am using as Milan vehicles I have just stowed.



The one which I use for an FOO I have represented a NOD B Christmas tree.



The Battlegroup HQ wagon will be represented with the framework for the rear "penthouse" extension welded in place.  Jez on the guild has produced a rather nifty version with a Cymbline mortar locating radar on top.  Other challenging projects could include a FV438 Swingfire launcher, Ranger anti personal mine layer, FV 432 with Fox armoured car turret (S&S models do a Fox)

Painting

The vehicles are undercoated black, then painted with Vajjello Russian Uniform, this is then liberally washed with GWs badab black, the panels are then picked out and the the Camouflage pattern painted on.
British vehicles of this period were spray painted generally but frequently touched up by hand, patterns could have both a hard and soft edge. The panels on the black painted areas are brought out using Vajello black grey.

The detail is then painted, light clusters primarily before all detail areas were pin washed with badab black then dry brushed using a mix of Russia uniform and Buff or Iraqi sand.

Tracks are initial painted in a Red Brown then dry brushed with a light grey, and track pads are painted in in black grey.

Decals were then applied and fixed using gloss and mat varnish before the weathering was applied which included washes of Khaki, Khaki drab and a dry brush of either colour mixed with Iraqi sand.






The model represents the character and look and feel of the vehicle well and is a robust rendition of this key British vehicle that provides a critical component of any 1980's UK force.

Since this post was written S&S models have released an FV432 and a Peak turret, the Peak turret is sold separately so could be used in conjunction with the Britania FV432s which are modelled with the floatation screens removed.

Friday, 20 January 2012

ORBAT - 1980s British BG - Part 3 Equipment Change



In creating a realistic British 1980s battle group, other than understanding the limits imposed by the parent brigade composition and the concept of mission orientated task organised groups the other key element to reconcile is the rate of change of equipment that was experienced over the decade.  The cold war peak military strength probably occurred around 1989 - 1990 and started to decline rapidly thereafter based on an increasingly stringent series of defence reviews.



In The late 70s armoured and mechanised units were equipped with ChieftainWombat, Fv432 and the CVRT family.  All were starting to be seriously challenged by the latest generation of Soviet equipment and the pace of change in the soviet arsenal. In addition the British Army still had larkspure radios, SLRs, Charlie Gs and the new camouflage was still shiny.




By the end of the decade they were equipped with Challenger 1 including the Thermal Observation and Gunnery systemWarrior, Milan with its MIRA thermal immageing sight, MLRS, new webbing, helmets, boots, SA 80, and 94 mm LAW, some tank regiments had significantly reduced the numbers of tanks fielded and the army had shrunk in size by a margin.

The 1980s were a decade of significant change and representing realistic formations over this period has a number of challenges.  Whilst the rate of introduction of new equipments was rapid, they were not introduced to all units simultainiously and it took 5 or 6 years to complete major equipment revisions such as the introduction of Challenger 1. in addition scalings of equipment varied between different types of unit and within brigades. Whilst this gives a wide variety of equipment and organisational options for the wargamer some of them are very time sensitive.

The key equipment changes

MBTs
  • Chieftain upgrades, laser range finder and IFCS were added pre 1980,  Stillbrew armour 1986, TOGS 1988 - 1989, 
  • Challenger 1 introduction 1983 - 1989, TOGS upgrade 1985 - 1987.  Whilst the early mark 1 tanks had the TOGs barbet fitted the thermal imagers were not fitted until 1985.
  • Add on armour packs as used during Gulf War 1 were available from 1990



The Challenger 1 roll out program was as follows;

  • 1983 -1984 7 Armoured Brigade, 2 Regiments, 
  • 1985 -1986 4 Armoured Brigade 2 regiments, 
  • 1987-1988 20 Armoured Brigade 2 Regiments, 
  • 1989, 22 Armoured Brigade 1 Regiment. 
So none of the "Mechanised brigades" 6th, 11th, 12th  and 33rd ever received Challenger 1. The Original plan called for 9 Type 43 regiments. So it is reasonable to assume that regiments were type 43 until post gulf war 1, it's not clear if options for change in 1990 impacted on the plan to deploy 9 Regiments most sources state that the last unit was converted in 1989.

Infantry Systems
  • Warrior introduction 1988 - 1994
  • Add on armour packs as used in Gulf War 1 were available from 1990, It seems likely that they would have been deployed in subsequent conflicts.
  • Warrior for Milan Platoons 1990. In 1991 a further 100 Warriors were bought to provide a scaling for all Milan platoons.  These vehicles allowed the missile to be fired from a mount on the turret.


  • Milan introduction 1980, MIRA upgrade post 1982 probably 1985,  improved warhead upgrade 1984, tandem warhead 1993
  • Milan Compact Turret introduction, probably  around 1987 withdrawn from service when Warrior replaced FV 432 for Milan Platoons? The 1986 edition of the modern British Army notes it was planned to come into service.  Prior to MCTs introduction mobile sections used Spartan.
  • Saxon introduction 1983 - 1985, 19 Inf Brigade, not clear if TA Brigades received them for regular and TA Battalions.
  • Spyglass introduction 1987 - 1988?
  • OTIS Introduction 1987 - 1988?
  • IWS Introduction ? 
  • SA 80/LSW introduction 1985 -1990?
  • 94mm LAW 1988 - 1990? 
  • Clansman Radios 1981 - 1984

The Warrior roll out progrram was as follows;

Throughout the roll out period infantry battalions equipped with Warrior were referred to as Armoured Infantry, those equipped with FV432 were known as Mechanised Tracked, and those with Saxon as Mechanised wheeled.
  • January 1988, 7 Armoured Brigade, Grenadier Guards, 
  • September 1988, 4 Armoured Brigade ,1 Staffords, 
  • January 1989, 6 Armoured (Mechanised) Brigade, Royal Scots,
  • September 1989, 6 Armoured (Mechanised) Brigade, 1 RRF, 
  • January 1990, 22 Armoured Brigade, 2 R Anglian. 
  • September 1990, 20 Armoured Brigade, 2 R IRISH. Assumed on the bases of the only unconverted armoured brigade
  • January 1991, 33 Armoured Brigade, 3 LI. Assumed, 3 LI converted after arrival in Paderborn in Feb 1990
  • September 1991, 33 Armoured Brigade, QO Highlanders, Assumed on the basis that the 3LI conversion is known to have occurred
The program was scheduled to continue until 1994 converting 2 battalions per year, but was overtaken by the 1992 impact of options for change which left the army with  only 8 Armoured Infantry battalions. This was followed by the reorganisation of the Germany and UK based forces in 1994.  11th Armoured (Mechanised) Brigade in 1st Armoured division and 12th Armoured (Mechanised) Brigade in 4th Armoured division did not therefore appear to convert.  3rd Armoured Division was the only all Warrior formation.

Artillery Systems

Summary

The key points seem to me to be:

  • Only armoured brigades fielded Challenger 1, 
  • Early deployment of Warrior was restricted to armoured brigades that probably fielded type 43 regiments, It was unlikely that infantry companies from different battalions in the same brigade would field FV 432 and Warrior. 
  • Mechanised Brigade battle groups can not be fielded with Warrior before 1989. 
  • Post 1990 all Armoured Brigades were equipped with Warrior.   
  • A Brigade with a mixed Challenger Cheiftain fleet did not exist before 1989 and then only as an Armoured Brigade. This does make a Challenger, Chieftain battle group a feasible option.
  • Prior to 1990 Milan and FOOs were mounted in FV 432 , which means they would probably only be seen in Warrior with add on armour packs. 
  • Thermal immageing was not really available before 1985 and not in Cheiftain before 1988.
In addition to all that, AS 90 just scrapes in but was immediatly rolled into the 1994 brigade reorganisations and Challenger 2 didn't make it. For those that want to what if the what if and ultimately Cold War Hot on the central front is a work of fantasy, then these systems either introduced into the pre 1993 divisional and brigade structures, if the Berlin wall is still up or in the post 1993 divisional and brigade structures if it came down and then went back up might provide some entertaining scenarios.

The next post in this series is 1980s British Battle Group - Part 4 Recce Group.

References:

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Painting - British Army, DPM





This is my attempt at the difficult part of a cold war British Army, painting figures in British Army DPM uniforms, I spent some time working a plan to put them all in NBC suits to avoid the issue but eventually bit the bullet.  To my mind the colour pallet is a key component, the Green in DPM is very bright and yellow whilst the beige elements tend to have a strong ochre tone.

For the Uniform the base colour I have used is Vallejo Sand Yellow 70916, buff is a reasonable alternative. For the Green I have used either Vallejo Green, 967 or Golden Olive 857 or a mix, brown is Vallejo Mahogany Sand 846, and as they say black is black. 

For the equipment the webbing is field grey higlighted with green grey, packs and respirator cases are reflective green, the helmet is bronze green, with scrim in english uniform, russian uniform and dessert yellow, facial cam is german cam black brown.

Image


The process for generating the pattern is fairly straight forward first paint the figure in the base colour for the uniform which is sand yellow or buff. Then add the brown using a swirl pattern and introduce some forked ends.




Then paint the green with some overlap over the brown and ensuring that some areas of the base colour continue to show through.


Image

All the equipment should be blocked in before giving the whole figure a liberal wash with badab black.  The various colours can then be highlighted if requiered using the original pallet.

Image


Finally I add the black Ys and Hs that complete the effect.






Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Review - Model 1/72, S&S FV103 CVR(T) Spartan

Spartan front view showing stowage options, note different colours of hatch spall liners and webbing stowed in front of driver.
I have long been a fan of S&S models resin kits and a have a fairly large number of different types in my modern collection, Shaun makes a vast number of modern vehicles and should always be considered as an option on any kit.

The subject of this review is his CVRT Spartan, one of my favourite vehicles probably because of a degree of familiarity.



The Kit is a three part piece cast in white resin with separate tracks.  It is instantly recognisable as a Spartan with an excellent hull shape and inclusive of many of the vehicles key recognition features.  Whilst the engine lovers are simplistically rendered the hatches, exhaust system and commanders cupola are well represented along with the rear bins. The casting was clean requiring little to no filling on the body of the vehicle although the one piece cast tracks required a little attention. The tracks fitted cleanly and easily with the application of a suitable quantity of super glue.  Whilst not super detailed the resulting model is robust and an excellent representation of the vehicle which will happily grace any war-games table.



The mesh basket on the rear hull door and the multi barrelled smoke grenade discharger units are missing which provides a good opportunity for improving the model. Stowage options include cam nets, cam poles, ammo boxes, chieftain bins ( now offered as an after market product by BW models), radio antennas and the commanders GPMG. which of course needs the butt removing.



Spartan showing hessian and cam nets rolled on upper hull


The vehicle was used extensively throughout the armoured and mechanised battle group in the 1980's and was the basis of a wide variety of specialist variants.  Within the Armoured battle group it was used by the Milan platoon to transport the mobile section, initially in the APC then subsequently with the Milan Compact Turret, it also provided the transport for the platoon commander.  It was used by Engineer Recce and Engineer Troop Commanders and Staff Sergeants.  The mortar platoon used it as the transport for MFC's and the platoon commander.  The Samaritan and Sampson ambulance and recovery variants were found within support company.  In battle groups based on armoured regiments the Sultan command vehicle was used in BGHQ.

Sultan
Spartan with added hessian rolls cam nets antenna and ammo boxes, commander by SHQ, decals by TL Modelblau

Spartan with scratch built milan compact turret

An excellent little vehicle filling a gap in the market.


Sunday, 8 January 2012

ORBAT - Soviet Divisional Units, Part 1 MRD Anti Tank Battalion

The Soviet Divisional Anti Tank Gun Battalion was the principal reserve component of the Division.    They would be deployed to deal with emergent tank threats in the advance or secure exposed flanks  and would be task organised with the Mobile Obstacle Detachment from the Divisional Engineer Battalion, and other combined arms assets such as Armour, Aviation and Artillery .  In defence the Battalion could be grouped with a forward detachment of a reinforced Motor Rifle Battalion and other Anti Tank Battalions from Army or Front to act as a covering force.  



MT-12 100mm AT Gun

The Armoured Acorn Site  and FM 100-2-3 both have organisations for this unit for the 1980's as follows:


Earlier organisations, prior to 1980 had 3 gun batteries and they were probably truck towed. FM 100-2-3 suggests AT-P as an alternate tow to the MTLB.

The Guns could fire conventional rounds or the 9M117 Kastet missiles. The missile capability started being deployed from 1981 and extended the engagement range to 4000m.   The guns could be operated in conjunction with radar target detection equipment and laser range finders. FM 100-2-3 has the radar identified as a man pack PSNR-1, these were provided to all batteries including the GW battery.




So not your average AT Gun, having said that I am still trying to confirm the missile data.

By the mid 80s there were indications that a replacement 125mm gun was starting to go into service with higher readiness units.  This was the 2A45 Sprut which came in a number of configurations.  The Sprut could also fire guided missiles in the form of the  9M119 Svir or 9K120 Refleks. 



 As can be seen the 2A45 gun is based on the D30 carriage and gun shield and is very similar to the one shown below.  This is less than surprising as they were conceived by the same design bureau.

D30 122mm Artillery

Wargames Unit Representation

For gaming I tend to use  an amended set of Rapid Fire rules and a 1:3 vehicle scale.  The Anti Tank Battalion therefore looks like this.


  • BHQ 1 x BTR 60PU deploying 1 x ground surveillance radar
  • 2 x Gun Battery each of 2 x MTLB towing 2 x 2A45 Sprut
  • 1 x GW Battery of 1 BRDM 2 deploying 1 x ground surveillance radar and 4 BRDM 2 Spandrel.

For the vehicles I was going to use S&S MTLBs, BRDM2 and BRDM2s with Spandrels.  I would prefer ACE  BRDM2s but these are becoming quite difficult to find and whilst a pain to build produce a good end result. I have Yet to decide on a BTR 60PU solution, but it will involve some level of conversion.

For the 2A45 Spruts I will be buying the recently released (March 2012) Military Wheels kit and the ground surveillance radars will be scratch built.




Numerous manufacturers make T-12s in their WW2 ranges including Ace and SHQ so I may do some alternatives for earlier units.  I have yet to decide on figures, Liberation Miniatures soviet gun crews would work.

The representation of Regimental Anti Tank Reserves is covered here

References


Saturday, 7 January 2012

ORBAT - 1980s British BG, Part 2 Task Organisation


Battle Groups in the British Army during the cold war period were composed of a mix of armoured, squadrons, armoured infantry or mechanised infantry companies, artillery, engineer and support weapon elements dependent on the battle groups mission or task and the composition of the parent brigade

An armoured brigade with Type 57 regiments would field 8 squadrons of tanks and 3 infantry companies, whilst a mechanised brigade would field 6 infantry companies and 4 armoured squadrons. Each brigade would field 3 batteries of guns in its artillery regiment.  All armoured regiments and infantry battalions had a recce troop or platoon, but only infantry battalions included  the other support platoons of mortars and milan.  

With the introduction of Challenger 1 and the subsequent move to the Type 43 regiment, the numbers of squadrons changed from 4 per regiment to 3. The Challenger regiments were confined to the True "Armoured Brigades" ie 4, 7 and 20, with 22 fielding a Chieftain regiment and a Challenger regiment.  Once converted to Challenger and then to type 43 an armoured brigade would have 6 armoured squadrons and three infantry companies.

I am currently trying to identify the time at which the change from Type 57 to Type 43 occured, my current assumption is around 1987. I have no specific evidence for this but the following points are of note: 

  • At least 1 of the Armoured Regiments that deployed to the Gulf in 1990 - 1991 were incremented by a Squadron to make them Type 57. 
  • By 1987, we deployed 250 Challenger 1, if deployed in Type 57 regiments would allow us to form 4.5. Whilst if deployed in Type 43 regiments would give us 5.8. 
  • Challenger 1 conversion completed in 1989 by then we fielded 7 Challenger and 5 Chieftain Regiments in BAOR. 
  • Total Challenger buy by 1994 was 426 but by then the armoured force had been reduced to 9 Regiments and I would assume we were operating a mix of Type 50 and Type 43 regiments as Chieftain was subsequently retired. 

There is considerable confusion within the litrature as to which brigades were "Armoured" and which regiments where of what Types and when. This could merely be an indication that it was not specifically organised. This gives war gamers wishing to field a brigade a problem, but at battle group level, as can be seen from the table below, most variations are justifiable. The situation is further confused by a series of defence reviews which started in 1990 but impacted from 1992 that reduced the numbers of armoured and infantry units.


Note: 
1.  Relationship between Challenger 1 and Type 43 regiments assumed
2.  Challenger 1 Regiments started as Type 56/57 moved to type 43/44 prior to Gulf War 1 and moved to Type 50 post gulf war 1
3. The assumptions around Type of regiment and there association with Brigade Type given the mix in 22 Armoured Brigade would mean that 7 Challenger Regiments and 5 Chieftain Regiments were fielded in BAOR. 




A battle group in the british army in the late cold war period was a task organised unit comprising of a mix of sub units commanded by either an armoured regiment or mechanised infantry battalion HQ.  Task organisation was completely dependent on the Brigades mission and at the discretion of the Brigade commander. 

In addition to directing the mix of sub units in each battle group the brigade would also allocate, battery tac parties these comprised of 3 forward observation parties and the battery commanders party. In addition Enginer assets were also allocated usually field troops, AVLBs, AVREs and CETs  as available and required, other plant tended to be allocated for specific tasks. Aviation assets if provided to the Brigade by Division could also be allocated and included both air observation posts (Gazelles) and Attack Helicopters (lynx tow) these tended to be time sliced for specific parts of an operation in a similar way to artillery support, rather than being a more permanent asset.

The battle group could be formed from any combination of sub units available to the Brigade although some combinations were more popular than others. As a General rule more than 4 sub units under a battle group HQ was unusual. Support weapons platoons mortars and milan might be detached to another battle group if a company were being provided, this would be done proportionally so an Infantry company might be detached with a section of Milan. This was not always the case it depended on mission and the balance of force across the brigade. Milan sections were more frequently detached with a rifle company than mortar sections which were more effective when operated as a platoon.

In a Type 43 Challenger Armoured Brigade the obvious mix was to place 2 squadrons and 1 company in each battle group.  In an Armoured Brigade that contained Type 57 armoured regiments the obvious choice was probably two battle groups with 3 Squadrons and 1 Company and one  with 2 Squadrons, 1 Company  and the infantry battalions support weapons. 

The mix was of course entirely dependent on the plan.  Once allocated the groupings were fairly enduring as it took a resonable  amount of time to shift sub units from one command to another without creating chaos.  The more obvious mixes tended to be the ones used most frequently and these were the ones that were used for exercises and training in order to build confidence and understanding between the different elements of a battle group.

In a Mechanised brigade based on type 57 regiments there would be 4 squadrons and 6 companies,      typically the brigade might deploy one battle group of 2 squadrons and 2 companies, and two battle groups of 1 squadron and 2 companies, in this case if the infantry battalions provided the HQ's for the 1:2 Battle Groups then they would likely retain their support elements as these were the weaker formations. If the mechanised brigade were based on a Type 43 regiment then the brigade would probably form three battle groups of 1 Squadron and two companies each with a proportion of the support weapons.


A range of battle group sub unit options for the different types of brigade is shown below, it would be reasonable to field any of these as part of a scenario.


Plausible Battlegroup sub unit compositions

Of interest 7 Brigade in the Gulf, deployed as an Armoured Brigade with Type 57 Tank regiments, crossed the start line with 1 Staffords as a 2:2 BG, Scots DG as a 3:1 BG, and the Queens Royal Irish Hussars as a 3:0 BG.

Prior to 1988 it was common practice to task organize sub units into combat teams.  Where companies and squadrons would cross attach a troop or platoon.  This practice was discontinued in the late 80s when the sub unit was generally considered to be indivisible but could still have other arms attached, to form the company group this included forward observers, field and armoured engineers, recce sections, Milan sections, and Javalin/blowpipe  air defence detachments.  



The next post in this series is 1980s British Battle Group - Part 3 Equipment.

References