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, 29 May 2012

ORBAT - 1980s British BG Part 7, The Infantry Battalion

The Infantry Battalions basic orbat was very stable although there was a fairly high degree of variation between units around a few areas of capability. The battalion sub units were:
  • HQ Company
  • 3 Rifle Companies
  • Support Weapons Company
When deployed to fight the components of these would be mixed to produce task organised company groups and recce groups these might also include capability provided from other arms and services attached to the Battle Group.

Basic Organisation

HQ Company contained the Bn HQ, Supply, Motor Transport, Maintenance, Signals, Provost, Medical and Welfare functions as well as the Drums Platoon and Band. The Drums Platoon could provide 3 GPMG SF sections each consisting of 2 Guns. In addition up to 3 Snipper pairs and an Assault pioneer unit of up to 1 section could be held in the HQ company or in rifle companies or not exist depending on unit manning and the interests of key leaders.

The 3 Rifle Companies each contained a Company HQ and 3 Rifle Platoons.

The Company HQ include, 3 FV432, 1 Bedford MK , 2 Land Rover these were organised into:

  • A Tactical HQ of 1 FV432 with the Company Commander and CSM.
  • A Control HQ of 1 FV432 with the Company 2IC, 1 FV432 Ambulance which doubled as the company Aid Post and Company MT vehicle.
  • A CQMS' Party with the Bedford and Land Rovers this provided the core resupply function, 1 of the landrovers was allocated to the Company Commander for Liaison and might also be used by the Company Seargent Major CSM.

The Rifle Platoons were transported by 4 FV432 all or none of the 432s could have the Peak L37 turret or some mix in between I think the scaling was 50%. The rifle platoon was organised as follows:

  • The Platoon HQ included a 51mm light Mortar firing Smoke, HE and Illum. A Signaller, Runner, driver, Platoon Sergeant and Platoon Commander. There was spare capacity in the Platoon HQ vehicle, which might be used to transport attached SF GPMG sections or Snipers.

  • There were 3 rifle sections of 9 men, including the driver, they were armed with 1 84mm MAW, a GPMG and SLRs with upto 6 M72 66mm LAW AT Rocket and a number of smoke Grenades and fragmentation grenades. MAWs may be left in the vehicle dependant on the situation, I tended to dismount 1 with the reserve but not with the assaulting sections.
In the late 80s Battle Group GPMG and SLR could be replaced with SA80, LSW and in the 90s Battle Group would be replaced, 84mm MAW could also be replaced with the 94mm LAW by this time.

      Suport Company contained a Company HQ and 3 Support Weapons Platoons, Anti-Tank, Recce and Mortars, these were made up as follows:

      The Milan Platoon contained a Pl HQ, 4 Milan sections and a Milan Mobile Section.

      The Milan Section was transported in 3 FV432 and included:
      • 2 Milan Detachments of 2 Firing Posts with the MIRA thermal imaging sight from 1985?
      • The Section Commanders vehicle with 1 Firing Post, this was frequently treated as a spare and not deployed.
      The Milan Mobile Section Consisted of 4 CVR(T) with Milan Compact Turret.

      The Morter Platoon deployed 8 81mm Morters mounted in FV432, 3 MFCs in CVR(T) and Platoon Commander and Platoon warrant officer also in CVR(T).

      The mortar line generally worked as 2 half platoon units each of 4 tubes which would provide a capability for always having at least 4 available for action. The limited range of the mortars 4000 - 5000m meant they had to work hard to stay in range, particularly during the advance. As the infantry companies and anti-tank platoon transitioned to Warrior this became very difficult.

      The Recce Platoon of 8 CVR(T) Scimeter is covered in detail in an earlier post which you can find here.

      Task Organisation

      On becoming a battle group and deploying on operations the Batttalion would re group forming sub unit groups. The likely composition of the battle group in terms of sub units is covered in earlier posts here and here. In general an Infantry battalion would form 3 Company groups although companies and or company groups could be detached to other units, a company group being a company and attached elements that are not part of its normal structure.

      Company Groups. In general for mechanised and armoured infantry battle groups these consisted of the Rifle Company, and routinely a Milan Section an SF Section and a REME Recovery section containing an FV434 Repair and an FV434 Recovery (Warrior in Warrior units). In addition a Sniper pair might be grouped with the Company and an MFC or FOO. SF and Snipers might travel with Platoon HQs or with Milan Section Commanders. Milan could also be held centrally and SF and Snipers routinely deployed with Milan and Recce.

      Task organisation would vary with Mission, a general grouping as described above would deploy the following assets:
      • Coy Commander Group 1 FV432 Company Commander and CSM, 1 CVR(T) MFC, 1FV432 Forward Observation Officer.
      • Coy 2IC Group, 1 FV432 Company 2IC, 1 FV432 Ambulance Company Aid Post
      • 3 Rifle Platoons each 4 FV 432 and 3 Sections
      • 1 Milan Section, 3 FV432 5 Milan firing posts, with GPMG SF section of 2 Guns and a Sniper pair
      • 1 REME detachment 1FV434 Repair, 1 FV434 Recovery
      • CQMS's Group 1 Land Rover, 1 Bedford + Water Bowser , in addition for resupply they would have grouped with them 1 Stalwart UBRE and 1 Bedford 8 Tonne Ammo truck. Fuel could also come packed (in Jerry cans) they would all return to the battle group echelon (supply group) once resupply was complete. The Company Commanders Rover would loiter somewhere, I was never quiet sure where.

      so that gives us a total of 20 FV432, 2 Landrovers and 3 Trucks, 5 Milan, 9 Lt Role GPMG, 9 MAW, 54 66mm LAW, 3 Lt Morter, 2 GPMG SF, and 1 Sniper pair.

      I intend to represent this with:

      • 1FV432 with L37 Peak turret, deploying 8 Figures, including 1 MAW, 1 GPMG and some representation of 66mm
      • 1 FV432 with 2 Milan, 1 SF Gun (only 2 in the unit) 1 Sniper (only 2 in the unit)
      • 1 MFC or FOO wagon.

      Additional Capability would be added to the Company's grouping under particular circumstances and the following equipments and organisations could also be found grouped with armoured infantry or mechanised companies. I will outline likely groupings in the advance, attack, reserve demolition guard and defence

      These include:
      • Royal Engineers; AVLB, AVRE, Field Section, CET,
      • Armoured Corps; Armoured Squadron, Armoured Troop, ARRV
      • Infantry: Recce Section
      • RMP detachment,
      • Royal Artillery Javaln Detachment
      • Army Air Corps: AOP


      Engineer assets such as AVLB, AVRE and CET might be attached in the advance to provide mobility support by creating and improving routes through laying bridges and breaching obsticals. The critical nature of the engineer assets together with there vulnerability and there relatively low speeds made protecting them and controlling there movement an important task, this could be covered by Infantry or Armour.

      It was highly likely that the company would be grouped with a complete armoured squadron for the advance. The formation of a company squadron group would mean that the two organisations worked closely together and the command elements would move together along with the indirect fire controllers, who would lead would depend on circumstances and terrain. Troops and platoons could be cross attached but this was less frequent in the late 1980s and the 1990s.


      In the Attack the Company was likely to be supported in detail by a troop of tanks whilst the rest of the Squadron provided fire support and sealed the objective from interference. This troop would provide Intimate support to the infantry as they fought through an objective, taking out and suppressing armour and strong points as they moved through an objective. This support could either be provided from in front, behind or to the flanks of the assaulting infantry.

      Reserve Demolition Guards

      For Reserve demolition guards the company might see a Javelin Section, RMP detachment, an ARRV and an RE Field section. The Engineers would rig the bridge and check the integrity of the firing circuits put the demolition in the correct state, safe and armed and of course blow it up when required. Javalin provided point defence of the target. The RMP would deal with civilians and traffic control and the ARRV would drag any breakdowns on the bridge off it.


      In defence an RE Field Section, a CET, an additional Milan section. and Squadrons manoeuvring around the position could all be expected. The Engineers would help create obsticals and field defences these included:
      • Wire,
      • Minefields, both nuisance and tactical. These would be used to chanel and slow the enemy and would enhance natural obsticles such as rivers and embankments
      • Route Denial, including cratering
      • Creation of anti tank ditches
      • Digging in of key assets, generally there were never enginers so they largely worked on the big jobs and were supported by the infantry in the more local tasks.

      Often the purpose of the Infantry position was to provide a strongpoint from where Milan could take on the armour and around which the Squadrons could Manouvre.

      I hope that has given you a feel for task organisation within the Battle Group, the principal equipment variations have been previously discussed and pretty much just replaced the fielded equipment but the impact on the war-games unit is as follows:
      • Early 80s Battle Group will be as described with either Challenger or Cheiftain, Artillery will be Abbot, with Chieftain AVLB Centurion AVRE and CET. Infantry will be armed with SLR, GPMG and MAW.
      • Late 80s Battle Group will replace the Battle Group HQ FV432 with Warrior along with the Rifle Companies FV432 L37 Peak Turret, Artillery will be M109, Tanks will be Challenger or Cheiftain Still brew, with Chieftain AVLB Chieftain AVRE and CET. Infantry will be either the same as the 80s or the same as the 90s battle group.
      • Early 90s Battle Group will be Up Armoured Warrior for BG HQ, Rifle Coy, Milan and FOO, up armoured Challengers for the Armour and for Artillery I'll probably move to AS90 but could deploy M109 AS90 or Abbot, with Chieftain AVLB Chieftain AVRE and CET. Infantry will be SA80, LSW and 94mm LAW.
      In addition I am aiming to be able to deploy the same figures in the UK home defence role, The BAOR reinforcement role, the Airmobile role and the Light role. The Orbats and major equipments vary but the core components remain the same.


      ORBAT 1980s British Battle Group, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
      Encyclopaedia of the Modern British Army
      BAOR in Reforger: Vehicles of The British Army of The Rhine in The Reforger Exercises 1975-91, Tankograd
      Rats' Tales: Staffordshire Regiment at War in the Gulf,N Benson

      Friday, 25 May 2012

      Review - Model 1/72, S&S FV180 Combat Engineer Tractor (CET) Model

      The Combat Engineer Tractor (CET) was introduced into service with the Royal Engineers in 1976 it sat within the Support Troop of an Engineer Field Squadron. It could be made available as required by tasks to any of the subordinate units in the Brigade.  It was designed as an amphibious earth mover capable of building ditches and scrapes or breaching obsticals.  The Amphibious capability allowed it to conduct far bank preparation in bridging or amphibious crossings where the egress routes or far bank required development.

      The capability included a rocket propelled Earth anchor which could allegedly help in extracting the vehicle from a river where the banks were other wise too steep. I am not clear how effective this capability was, vehicles are rarely shown with it fitted except when swimming.  Earth moving could be done on its own or in conjunction with other dozer equipped vehicles including MBTs, and AVREs which were less effective at digging but quite effective at soil movement.

      Study of some Imagery is required in order to understand what the various bits are and how they go together. The images above pretty much cover off that requierment.

      The model itself is cast in white Resin and Metal with the body of the platform and the bucket being the resin castings and the tracks, earth anchor, track guards and hydraulics rams being cast in white metal.

      On my copy the resin had a few minor defects mostly on the raised detail and minor amounts of flash around a requiring little clean up,  I rebuilt the Smoke Grenade Dischargers from the bits box and filled the rest.  Of the metal components the tracks required little attention whilst the Hydraulic parts and earth anchor had small amounts of soft flash and mold lines that required a bit of attention no major issues, excellent casting throughout.

      I think this is one of S&S's best offerings that I have seen, with a high level of detail for a cast wargaming  item.  I added a representation of the hydraulic cabling around the bucket using florists wire, some cable routing on the vehicle using fuse wire and green stuff, some Smoke grenade dischargers from the spares box, a light from the spares box and a rolled cam net in hessian made from green stuff.  I was tempted to drill out the front light units but resisted.   I have left the Earth anchor off as I could find few pictures of it mounted.  All up this is a really good little model. Just got to paint it up now.


      Tuesday, 22 May 2012

      Review - Web Resources, War for Slow Readers

      War for slow readers, wargaming an alternate timeline to the war in Angola 1975 - 89, is a cold war blog focusing on the Angolan civil war and the interventions by Cuba, South Africa and the Cold War super powers.  Like Hurry up And Wait! the Falklands war blog it tracks through the events of the day and games a number of the engagements and actions.

      Its all about the Angolan conflict and little else so is very focused. The narratives introduce you to the region, politics and protagonists engaging the reader with the unfolding story. If I had to be picky, its 5mm short as the bulk of the action takes place with 15mm products but then nothings perfect.  The game action is run on AK 47 and the whole is very relevant with the release of Ambush Alleys Bush Wars supplement for Force on Force and the various figure, book and model releases popping out at the moment.  I am about half way through the back log currently and enjoying the real and imagined political context to the events portrayed.

      An interesting historical and war gaming resource with some great period imagery, excellent background material, interesting scenarios and reviews of the war games action. All up  a great blog and a fine Cold War war-games obsession.

      Friday, 18 May 2012

      Wargames Unit - British 1980s BG, Mechanised Rifle Companies

      The Mechanised Rifle Companies provided the British Infantry Batallion with its bayonet strength they are the core around which an infantry unit is built. The Rifle Company is the component around which all the other elements of the battle group function, whether that be in the detailed clearance of the enemy objective in the attack or the resolute holding of ground in defence. Their mission is to close with and destroy the enemy in all weathers by day and night and they are represented on my wargames table by 1 FV 432 with a Peak L37 Turret and 8 Figures.

      Each of the two companies include 1 84mm Carl Gustav MAW, 1 GPMG, 1 Commander with an SMG (Not very realistic but easy to spot) and 5 Riflemen with SLR. The picture shows two such Rifle Companies.

      The Figures are a mix of Liberation Miniatures South African and British Ranges and Brittania Miniatures British.

      A number of the figures have been altered with either head swaps and or Green stuff webbing added in order to achieve a period mechanised infantry look, which for me means webbing with NBC kit, and very few bergens or back packs which would only have been carried by people needing to carry Radios around.

      If not wearing Noddy suits the main indicator that they are equipped to deal with NBC is the presence of the Respirator case, which was large square and green and could be carried on the left or right side of the body. I have added this to all the liberation figures which represent soldiers from theatres where it was not carried.

      Other than that they are mostly wearing DPM with the odd man wearing light weight trousers in green and one with an NBC suite Jacket on as its clearly a bit cold. All are wearing Cam Cream on their faces as it would be unusual to find an infantry soldier in the British Army of this period not waring it. They are all painted in line with the DPM tutorial.

      The FV432s are by Britania and have Scratch built Peak turrets and are painted and built in line with the preceding posts on the subject which you can find here.

      They are shown here ungrouped with any other assets, which is not how they would deploy. My intent with the BG is to show all the sub units ungrouped then do a single post on the task organised unit.

      Interestingly they can be used for both the early and late 80s battle groups, alternatively SA80 equipped soldiers in Mk 4 Helmets and PLCE could be used for the Late 80s and Early 90s force, more about personal equipment change to come in a later post. For either the late 80s or early 90s force the FV432s could be replaced with Warrior and for the 90s force these could be up armoured.


      ORBAT 1980s British Battle Group, Part7