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

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Modeling - British Army Field Defences, Trenches

The next couple of scenarios we will be playing look at a Soviet attack on 1 (Br) Corps. The first will be a Brigade covering force action, the second an attack on a British defensive position this will either be an attack from the line of march or will look at the deployment and use of a flanking detachment.

Either way in both scenarios the British units will probably need to be dug in. With the increase in available indirect fire assets for the Soviet units that occurred between the late 70's to late 80's their were a number of fairly fundamental shifts in the design of the humble trench, The principal changes were as follows:

  • Move from two man to four man trenches, placing an NCO in every trench.
  • Introduction of split hairpin system for reveting and shelter bay construction. Shown below.
  • Introduction of Chatem arch for overhead protection of firing bay for Milan. Seen in the  second picture in.
  • Greater emphasis on overhead protection on the firing bay for 4 man trenches.

Whilst my force is late 80s so should ideally use 4 man trenches I have chosen to stick with a two man representation as this is roughly a platoon for our rules of choice, Rapid Fire, which uses a 1:15 figure scale.

 The British have a relatively low number of figures in Armoured and Mechanised tracked battle groups which generally only deployed  2 Company Groups each of 8 Infantry and a number of support weapons. This makes creating a set of permanently dug in infantry less painful than for other rule systems and periods.  For my companies I decided to create the following:
  • 3 "Platoon" 2 man trenches
  • 1 Coy HQ trench
  • 1 FOO OP trench
  • 2 Milan trench
  • 1 SF trench
In doing this I wanted to create a range of different trench types. Representing the options available to the British at the time, these would include specific types for the support weapons as well as a variety of types for the infantry.

The basic construction method uses the following raw materials:

  • Closed cell foam .5mm sold in multi packs at hobby outlets for children.
  • Pre cut MDF bases from East Riding Miniatures, 60mm x 30mm for Infantry and 60mm x 40mm for support weapons.
  • Evo stick impact adhesive, sticks the foam without melting it.
  • Quick set ready mix poly filler.
  • A pile of figures, in this case Elhiems Cold War British which are superb.
  • Corregated Plasticard.
  • Basing material, flock, tufts, stones etc. 

Infantry Trench

The basic two man trench has a base foam segment with a 25mm x 7 mm hole cut for the trench, and a top layer with a 30mm x 15 mm hole cut init which provides a representation of the parapet.

 To represent the options of splitting the shelter bay either side of the or having it to the left or right of the fire bay the hole is either made centrally or to the left or right.  For the two man trench with Overhead protection on the fire bay the dimensions are 35mm x 7 mm for the base and the top layer is 25mm x 11mm over the fire bay and 7mm x 5 mm at either end to represent the exit bays and or fire positions for AT weapons. The Bunker roof is constructed on pillars built up from foam, and is based on correlated plastic sheet.

Once the basic construction is completed, the whole trench is covered in quick dry poly filler over a couple of sessions allowing each to dry before proceeding. The polyfiller usually needs a little smoothing with a sand stick between layers and before the white glue and sand are added.

The trench covered in sand and white glue, taking care to avoid getting sand in the base of the trench as this makes attaching the figures difficult and spoils the illusion of depth.  

Support weapons Trench

The support weapons trench I have generally made 40mm long with the base layer hole being 40mm x 7mm off set to the rear of the center line. The top layer is 40mm x 15mm but with an additional 15mm x 10mm recess cut centrally to the front to allow the weapon to be mounted.

For Milan trenches which requiered a clear back blast area a wedge shape hole is made in the rear wall of the top layer opposite the weapon mount recess. For SF trenches and OPs this is not made and the rear walls of these trenches can also be built up as can  the front wall of all trenches using Polly filler or a mix of poly filler and foam.

For the Chatem arch a 60mm x 25 mm strip of correlated Plasticard was cut this was bent into an arch, covered in a strip of foam that was segmented to accommodate the curve. Wedging the arch between two fixed points before covering with poly filler that is then left to dry allows a solid arch to be constructed that maintains its shape.


As a general rule all equipment on a defensive position should be stowed in the trench, under cover, so would generally not be visible. This excluded items that would be needed that might be kept on the parapet of the trench. Equipment would also come out when the soldiers administered themselves feeding weapon cleaning, putting sleeping bags away etc. The following items can all be used to "Stow" the trench.

  • Backpacks
  • Water bottles, thermos flasks, ration items, ration boxes
  • Ready ammunition, additional 66mm launchers, ammo boxes, magazines.
  • Water Jerry cans,
  • Digging equipment, picks, shovels, 6 foot pickets, spare corrugated tin, pallets, dinner coils, barbed wire packs.
  • Note books, range cards, maps
  • Arc markers
  • Radios, radio batteries, antenae on ground spikes
  • Observation Equipmemt, Binos, weapon sights
  • C2 Sight poles on SF trenches

On these two I have added a Bergen, radio, field telephone, file for range card/orders, arc markers, ration box, sleeping bag.  So lots of scope, the game is not to go mad as most units in the British Army would be quite well disciplined but for various reasons, time surprise, progress of work, there would always be some stuff lying around.


In order to get the figures to fit I have generally just removed the legs below the webbing leaving the detail of the majority of the figure untouched. Getting support weopns to fit May requiered some adjustment and trimming to both the weapons and the figures and in some cases additional detail will need to be built up with green stuff following the triming.


I have generally painted figures and trenches separately and conducted final assembly before adding basing products. The base of the trench inside and out and the parapet and hard angles are painted in a black brown mix to give the illusion of depth a mid and light brown layer were then painted on the outside with the lighter tone to the top, the whole was dry brushed with a sand colour and a light buff colour was used around the lip of the trench, the whole was then washed using a brown shade and touched up as required.


A variety of basing products were used to acheive the effects, this included:
  • small amounts of static grass
  • Tufts of a variety of lengths and colours, cam and turf soon became brown, whilst fresher elements remained green.
  • Some flowers
  • Some rocks

Completed Trenches

All the figures used here are from Elhiem's Cold War British Range which are a superb range of figures that provide most of what you need for a Cold War British Army.  Stowage items are variously from Black Dog or Goffy.

Two man fire trench

Milan Trench

This will be the last post of 2013 thanks for reading the blog and have a happy new year.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

AAR - Storming The Waidhaus Gap Part 3, Counter Attack

Colonel Ivan Rokovski in his post war book 20 days to the Rhine recalls the pressing need to define the moment when 275 MSP (lead Motor Rifle Regiment of 18 GvMSD) would be committed to exploit the success of 901 ODShB and 468 MSB. This would allow 18 GvMSD to maintain the momentum of the attack into Southern Germany and consolidate the immediate gains of the forward detachment in securing the Haggenwald and the southern flank of the division through the closure of the armoured approaches to Waidhaus from the South through the Schwalmwald.  This was to prove to be one of the classic examples of the use of forward detachments and desente units as enablers of operational manoeuvre in the post World War 2 period.

By 10:00 on 17 August 1988 901 ODShB were occupying their objectives; 
  • 9 Rota starting to secure its tenuous hold on the Haggenwald, still occupied to the North by the remainder of  1./PzBtl 123 which included a single platoon and the Company HQ together with Milan teams from FschjgBtl 251
  • 5 Rota secured the south western armoured approaches through the Schalmwald denying them to German reinforcements.
The loss of 6 Rota the BMD equipped company and the Battalions Recce platoon following effective engagement by the  Ppanzerabwehrhubschrauberstaffel of Heersfliegerregiment 26 left the battalion unable to counter the arrival of the Leopard 2s of 2 and 3 Kompanie  PzBtl 123 from Moosbach.

Oberst Von Meltzahn's staff review of the situation following the successful air landing of 901 ODShB is well recorded in the battle diary of PzAufklBtl 4.  It details the counter moves ordered against the Soviet force to prevent them from securing the Haggenwald and the Northern Route through the Waidhaus Gap.
  • The schwere Panzeraufklärungskompanie in  Waldhaus were ordered to exploit the cover the town provided to outflank 468 MSB and conduct a Counter Penetration against them to prevent their link up with 901 ODShB on the Haggenwald.  This would be coordinated with CAS provided by A10 Thunderbolt IIs reinforcing 4 ATAF from the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing now forward deployed into Germany from its UK bases.
  • The gemischte Panzeraufklärungskompanie in Waldhaus was to push South toward the Schalmwald to cover the schwere Panzeraufklärungskompanie's exposed southern flank.
  • FschjgBtl 251were ordered to counter attack 901 ODShBs position on the South Western end of the Haggenwald using the Falshirmjagerkompanie in Waidhaus and the northern of the two Luftlandepanzerabwehrkompanies in the Schwalmwald. Artillery support for the attack would be provided by the battalion mortars and the M109s of Panzerartilleryregiment 12.
  • The  Panzerabwehrhubschrauberstaffel of Heersfliegerregiment 26  were ordered to support 1./PzBtl 123 on the Haggenwald and halt the forward movement of 468 MSB
  • Panzerkompanies 2 and 3 of PzBtl 123 were instructed to Counter Attack into the flank of 468 MSB North and West of Waidhouse and East of the Haggenwald.

The  Forward Air Controller with the gemischte Panzeraufklärungskompanie brought the A10s in from the South and they were cleared hot to engage targets North of Waidaus and no further West than the Western edge of the town. The Air Defence Company deployed with 468 MSB picked them up as they cleared the Schwalmwald and engaged with the ZSU 23-4 and SAM 9 platoons, forcing both aircraft to abort on the first pass.

In Waidhaus itself the schwere Panzeraufklärungskompanie was observed moving up by 275 MSP's Recce Company who by now had started to occupy the eastern end of the town and had not been identified or engaged by the gemischte Panzeraufklärungskompanie. In a manoeuvre that has since entered the text books of the Soviet General Staff on the employment of anti tank reserves, Major Suverov of 468 MSB dealt deftly with the counter penetration   by deploying his Anti-Tank Company which engaged and destroyed the Leopard platoon. 

The arrival of Heersfliegerregiment 26 to support the Leopard 2s and Milan on the Northern end of the Haggenwald however started to strengthen Von Meltzahn's position improving the Germans chances of imposing the required delay on the Soviet force. 

At around 10:45 on the 17 August 1988 FschjgBtl 251 commenced their attempt to regain the Haggenwald with the redeployment of the Luftlandepanzerabwehrkompanies towards Waidhaus.  The kompanie inits light armoured vehicles was however caught in the open and engaged by the remaining Hinde flight from 490 OBVP who had yet to clear the area. With no clear indication of where they were being engaged from they were forced to move to cover loosing a number of vehicles in the process. Meanwhile 2./FschjgBtl 251 had moved into a forming up position in dead ground east of 9 Rotas position on the Haggenwald but failed to secure the support of  Panzerartilleryregiment 12 who were relocating following effective counter battery fire on their position. By 11:30 with no sign of the supporting Luftlandepanzerabwehrkompanie the kompanie commander decided to mount the attack without the missing support elements.  In a sharp engagement with the remaining elements of 9 Rota   supported by 3 Battalions of Artillery from the 18 GvMSDs DAG, 2./FschjgBtl 251 attack was broken up and the company was rendered non effective, leaving 901 ODShB in control of the South Western extent of the Haggenwald.

Concurrently with the German moves to retake the Haggenwald 2 and 3 Kompanie of PzBtl 123 were by now breaking clear of the constraints of the BM27 laid SCATMIN around the eastern gap in the Schalmwald.  In response to PzBtl 123's developing counter attack 468 MSD moved its infantry and armour into position to engage from the dominant position of the north eastern end of the Haggenwald.  

At around 12:00 on 17 Aug 1988 Colonel Rokovski recals crossing the Czech German border at Waidhaus with, 275 MSP  behind 468 MSB's Mobility Support Detachment which we now know included NBC Recce, Engineer Recce, a Motor Rifle company and the road repair and clearing team. They were followed closely by the lead Motor Rifle Battalion and Flanked by the MSP's 21 Tank Battalion to the South.

The gemischte Panzeraufklärungskompanie South of Waidhaus reported the developing Soviet armoured threat between Waidhaus and the Schwalmwald which was unlikely to be contained by the much reduced presence of FschjgBtl 251's Luftlandepanzerabwehrkompanies. Oberst Von Meltzahn who's original plan had been to throw both companies of PzBtl 123 at 468 MSB now ordered the counter attack to split with a kompanie driving North and West of Waidhaus and a Kompanie South and  East, both kompanies receiving support from the RakJPz Jaguar 2 of Panzerjagerkompanie 100.

The situation by 13:00 hours on 17 August 1988 as can be understood from both German and Soviet sources was as follows:
  • To the North of Waidhaus around a Kompanie of Leopard 2's formed from the remnants of 1 and 3 Kompanies PzBtl 123 supported by at least 2 Milan teams from FschjgBtl 251, 2 Platoons from Panzerjagerkompanie 100 and 2 Flights of MBB105Ps from Heersfliegerregiment 26  faced off against 468 MSB
  • To the South of Waidhaus 3./PzBtl 123 along with the remaining Luftlandepanzerabwehrkompanie of  FschjgBtl 251, 1 platoon and the HQ of Panzerjagerkompanie 100 and surviving elements of one of the batteries from FlaRegt 4 faced off against 275 MSPs 21 TB.
  • in Waidhause the remainder of MSP 275 had gone firm whilst the engagements around the outside were resolved
  • 901 ODShB held the Western end of the Haggenwald and the Western of the gaps through the Schwamlwald.

4 ATAF still controlled the skys over the valley effectively securing the Germans ability to manoeuvre however they were  coming under increasing pressure from 131 SAD who were trying to create the conditions that would allow the Soviets to break clear of the area immediately around Waidhaus and to create effective air cover over 18GvMSD which was rapidly becoming a concentrated target.


At this point, we sadly had to conclude what was turning into a fairly finely balanced game at a crucial stage with the Soviets about to commit 275 MSPs Tank battalion to the battle and with the NATO team coming under increasing pressure to relinquish air superiority.  I suspect that the NATO team would have created a degree of delay at this stage although the outcome of the game would hang on the amount of damage they would inflict on 275 MSP and weather 275 MSP could exit the far end of the board in another 6 goes.  The Soviet team could probably not afford the wait and neither team could afford the casualties that a decisive engagement would bring, I suspect therefore the event was probably heading for a marginal German victory.

The Guilds Mausman commanded the Germans in fine Germanic style aggressively counter attacking everything in sight whilst I played the Soviets in a sort of steam roller style.  Elhiem and Panzerfaust200 also of the Guild Wargames forum helped supervise and make up the rules as the game proceeded.


The Scenario I felt was working well, it had been designed to create a battle with a couple of different focuses that would keep 4 players busy, So the Soviet Airborne had to land but their needed to be a good air land battle component around that which gave the German team something to shoot at.

The air superiority rule worked well and it was much better having it built into the scenario rather than as a random event as it enabled the flow of the scenario. If I were to change anything I would probably give the Soviets Air Superiority in turns 7-8 NATO in 9-10 and only go random for the last two. This would allow the game to progress to its end state rather than potentially bog down.

The German reinforcements were critical to put the initiative back with the Germans following the air landing and the advance of the very powerful 468 MSB.  I think I would have liked to have seen a bit more German Air Power with perhaps some Alpha jets and a few more MBBs, having said that the two MBB flights deployed had quite a large effect on the game removing as they did the airborne armour.

In both the Weisenberg Counter attack and Storming the Waidhaus Gap the scenarios put T-72A's against Leopard 2's which is always a bit lopsided and need the soviets to deploy fairly large numbers of tanks if they are to succeed.  Both games involved Panzergrenadierdivision 4's Panzerbrigade 12, it would be interesting to run a more traditional German Defence around either one of the Panzergrenadier Brigades  or the Heimatschutz Brigade.  Which might be an idea for the summer.


The rules amendments generally worked well although the effect of artillery on light armour is inconsequential and on infantry is lethal, some adjustment in this area and around the range of the larger Guided Weapons systems such as TOW might work.  The extra movement for out of contact units starts to speed up the ground manoeuvre and allows the scope to play on larger tables.

we are in progress on consolidating our rule amendments and when it is complete I will put a link on the site to a pdf

longer arms would also help, 8 foot wide boards are definitely a challenge although they do provide a spectacle.

For the next game which is supposed to be fairly small we are shifting the focus to NORTHAG and the British sector.   The scenario and supporting material should appear by the end of January with the Game being played out in February or March.

Related Posts: