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, 29 June 2012

Review - Models 1/72, Trumpeter M113 A2, M150 Conversion

The M113 was used by the Canadians as their primary APC for 4 CMBG, the A2 started to come into service with Canadian units from 1983 and both variants were used across the roles allocated to the vehicle with no obvious patterns. This included providing the platform for the TOW equipped anti armour defence platoons.  The Canadians adopted the TOW system in the mid to late 70s and used it mounted on the M113,  its not clear from the references if these were actually M150s.

The model like all the other trumpeter kits I have ever made is very straight forward to assemble and contains a wealth of detail both internal and external. The only obvious problem area is the plastic tracks, the joining of the two ends still seems to defeat a reliable approach for achieving an enduring bond. I would also recommend a good study of the photography collection with regard to the particular vehicles being made as there are a number of alternative parts not needed on all vehicles some of which requier holes cutting in the hull.

I used the TOW launcher from the Dragon HMMWV kit which looks sadly to be discontinued as it was one of the cheapest ways to get a decent TOW launcher, given that you had other things to do with the HMMWVs. I used a card stock plastic tube to provide the base of the mount into which the TOW launcher fitted.

Just about every picture of a Canadian M113 I have seen has a road wheel fixed to the trim vane, not sure why but included one here. Of course it was not until I had fixed it that I noticed that in the photos it was half a road wheel. in addition I added some rolled stowage on the front hull top, and a cam net. the crew were provided by some Elhiem Germans with the guns removed and the head of a liberation South African figure

Decals came from a number of sources, the top set are TL Modelblau, The middle set QRF black numbers and the letters are Fantasy print shop Luftwaffe serials.  The things a boy has to do to get a decently marked up set of vehicles.

For Colour and marking guides I have used the excellent Armoured Acorn site, and managed to identify the Call Signs from a number of forum posts by ex Canadian Forces soldiers.  The Anti Tank Platoon was Call Sign 55 with 18 Vehicles in 4 sections of 4 and 2 in the HQ.  55 A-P being the 16 Vehicles in the sections the Call Sign of the Command vehicles being 55.  Morters were 57, Pioneers 58 and the Company HQ 59.

It would appear from the references that some units carried number plates and some did not. The paint scheme uses Vajello Russian Uniform, German Uniform and Black, The Hatch spall liners are in Gunship Green and the Cam Net in Bronze Green.  The TOW Launcher is Olive Drab.  I used this model as a bit of a tester for the Canadians to try out the Cam scheme and get all the decals together. 

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

ORBAT - 1980s Canadian BG, Part 1 Task Organisation

The History of Canadian involvement in the post war NATO force in europe is covered in more detail here the key components are as follows:

  • In 1968 the Brigade had mechanised and been renamed 4 Canadian Mechanised Brigade Group (4CMBG).
  • in 1971 it transferred from BAOR in Northern Germany to Lahr in Southern Germany where it would act as a reserve for either III US Corps or II Ge Corps.
  • In 1988 it was incorporated into 1st Canadian Division following the Canadian governments decision to withdraw from the CAST Brigade commitment to Norway. 1st Canadian Division remained the parent formation until the end of the cold war.

Battle group composition is therefore:

  • The early 80s forces will be based on 4 CMBG and potential reinforcements from either of the supported Corps who reinforced the brigade in areas of key equipment shortfalls. 
  • The late 80s force could either be as above or could be based on the composition of 4 CMBG and 1 Canadian division.
  • The 90's force will be based on 4 CMBG as part of 1 Canadian Division.

Throughout the 80s the Canadian land forces in Germany received little in terms of equipment upgrades and were organisationally stable, although some new equipment started to reach them in the early 1990s.  They are therefore quite straight forward to represent across the spectrum of the decade and a half that represents the arms race at the end of the cold war. They are very distinctive with a unique camouflage scheme and their regiments are distinctive with long and glorious fighting histories.  On top of all that they have a great Brigade title and the opportunity to be reinforced from and support two other nations.

4 CMBG was a Mechanised Brigade its Orbat is shown here from the Canadian Soldiers website

In essence 2 Infantry Battalions, an Engineer Regiment, Tank Regiment and Artillery Regiment with an Aviation Recce Squadron.

Higher level task organisation

The Canadians like the British and most NATO forces formed task organised groupings depending on the mission.  The structure of 4 CMBG limited what those groupings could as it deployed 2 Infantry Battalions  and 1 Armoured Regiment.  The Canadians through out the period formed Combat teams of Armour and Infantry at Sub Unit level through cross attaching Troops and Platoons.

The Infantry were provided by:

Each Infantry battalion was scaled for 4 Infantry companies and a Support Company, in the early 80s 1 rifle company was held in Canada, by the late 80's all 4 were deployed. The Support Company provided Mortars, Recce, Anti Tank and Assault Pioneers. They used M113 A1 and A2, M150, and Lynx C&R.

The 4th Canadian Engineer Regiment (4CER) consisted of a field squadron and a support squadron.  The field squadron comprised  4 M113 mounted field troops.  The field troops and sections could be  deployed to battle groups or be deployed on Squadron tasks. 

They used the M113, M113 engineer variant with a dozer, the beaver leopard based AVLB and Lynx C&R along with a variety of other plant in the support squadron.

The Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) provided the Tank Regiment. The Unit consisted of 3 Armoured Squadrons and a Recce Squadron. The Squadrons were very large by comparison to other NATO units consisting of 19 Vehicles, 4 troops of 4 Tanks with 3 in the HQ.  It would donate armoured squadrons or troops and would receive infantry platoons or companies. It operated the Leopard C1 which was an upgraded  Leopard 1 A3 and the Lynx command and reconnaissance Vehicle

The recce squadron would be deployed in support of the brigade providing a formation recce capability in conjunction with the aviation squadron.  I assume the armoured regiment retained at least 1 reconnaissance troop for its own needs but have been unable to confirm this.

1 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (1 RCHA) provided the artillery regiment. This consisted of 4 Batteries of 6 M109 and a blowpipe troop.  The regiment like its British counterparts provide 3 FOOs from each battery in support of  the battle groups of the brigade.  It seems likely that the FOOs from the 4th Battery supported the Recce Squadron.  Each Battle Group could also receive a blowpipe section.  The artillery regiment could be augmented by assets from the supported Corps as required, this would normally be in the form of longer range equipments such as the M110.

444 Tactical Helicopter Squadron provided the Canadian component of the aviation assets. The Squadron provided aircraft for command, liaison and recce.  The recce Aircraft tended to work in support of the Brigade Recce Squadron provided by the armoured regiment but could be attached to other Brigade elements.

Typical Battle Groups

In First Clash Kenith Macksey creates three Battle Groups in 4 CMBG, two of them ground holding infantry battle groups and the third composed of 1 Squadron and 2 Platoons but capable because of the strength of the tank Squadron of forming two Combat teams.  This gives a clear indication of an extremely flexible approach to task organising force elements of the anything goes variety.

3 RCR Battle Group

  • 3 Combat Teams each of 1 Rifle Company at full strength with attached support weapons 
  • 1 Rifle Coy (-) 1 Platoon (+) 1 Troop Tanks, in reserve
  • 1 Armd Sqn (-) 1 Troop, Fighting within the main defensive position 
  • 1 Engineer Field Troop
  • 1 Battery of M109
  • 1 Blowpipe Section
  • 1 Mortar Platoon
  • 1 Anti Tank Defence Platoon
  • 1 Recce Platoon

Royal 22e Regiment
  • 3 Combat Teams each 1 Rifle Company at full strength with attached support weapons. 
  • 1Combat Team of 1 Rifle Coy (-) 1 Platoon (+) 1 Troop Tanks, in reserve
  • 1 Armd Sqn (-) 1 Troop, Fighting within the main defensive position 
  • 1 Engineer Field Troop
  • 1 Battery of M109
  • 1 Blowpipe Section
  • 1 Mortar Platoon
  • 1 Anti Tank Defence Platoon
  • 1 Recce Platoon


2 Combat teams each
  • 1 Sqn HQ 2 tanks
  • 2 Troops of Tanks
  • 1 Platoon Infantry
  • 1 TOW Section
  • 1 Blowpipe Section
  • 1 Platoon Mortars
  • 1 Engineer Section
  • 1 Trp Lynx
  • 2 x LOH CH 136
  • 1 Battery RHA
  • 1 ARV 

Its not clear from the reading I have done if these task organised units existed simultaneously or if some assets were regrouped to the RCD as the started their mission such as the mortars.  US Chaparral and Vulcan provided area air defence within the scenario and in addition the brigade were supported by an attack helicopter squadron and a battery of M110, more of that in the next post.

Some of the other battle group options worth considering are
  • R22eR and RCR would each of 3 Companies and 1/2 Squadron, RCD 2 Squadrons 2 Companies 
  •  R22eR and RCR 3 Companies 1 Squadron, RCD 2 Companies 1 Squadron
  • R22eR 4 Companies, RCR 3 Companies 1 Squadron, RCD 2 Squadrons 1 Company
  • Considering the RCD as a covering force with 2 Squadrons 2 Platoons and the Brigade Recce force is also interesting,  
All these options seem to fit within the ways of doing business outlined in First Clash it would be interesting to understand what options were used and under what circumstances.


4CMBG The Canadian Soldiers website
First Clash. Combat Close - Up in World War Three
Canada's NATO Brigade a History

Friday, 22 June 2012

Wargames Unit - British 1980s BG, Armoured Squadron, Cheiftain

I recently completed the fourth tank in my Chieftain Armoured Squadron for my early 1980s British Battle Group.  The Models are all from Britannia and use the provided crew figures.

There were a few different Squadron Orbats used by the British over the late Cold War period and at a scale of 1:3 a group of 4 tanks can be used to represent either.  The two being:

  • 4 Troops of 3 and 2 HQ Tanks
  • or 3 Troops of 4 and 2 HQ Tanks
I believe that 3 troops of 3 and a 3 tank HQ was also trialled but I am not sure if this was ever taken any further.  Either way at this scale 4 Vehicles seems an appropriate representation for 12-14 tanks either representing the 4 troops or the three troops and the HQ. Which was used seemed to be at the discretion of the unit Commanding Officer.

The Britannia vehicles come with the Turret baskets pre stowed with a variety of items, in order to provide variety within the unit I have removed this on a number of the vehicles and added covers to the baskets.

The principal stowage added includes Cam Nets, Cam Polls, Bin Bags, and lubricant cans which for various reasons were all common externally stowed items.  British vehicle Antenae were all fixed poles on a fairly solid mount so you don't get those rather racy tied back affairs you see on US and Canadian vehicles. Pennants, Rats Tails, Tennis balls and Cyalume sticks on the Antenae were all used as identification markers for command vehicles which as a fashion waxed in and out of vogue throughout the period.

I tend to use these Chieftains generically to represent any of the Marks of vehicle prior to the introduction of Stillbrew Armour from 1986 and TOGs in Chieftain from 1989.  They are painted and marked in line with the posts in the reference section.  My intent is to use this as a 1:2 Infantry battle group so I have just made the one Squadron.  It will be interesting to see how a formation this light in tanks fairs against a Soviet regiment


ORBAT 1980s British Battle Group, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 7

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Review - Web Resources, Armoured Acorn Site

The Armoured Acorn site is a very popular Cold War and WW2 information source. It has two main areas of interest for me the Soviet Cold War Orbats and the Canadian Cold War vehicle markings.
The Orbats are each done with little pictograms of the vehicles and are an invaluable source of information for Soviet Cold War organisations. They are very coherent with a range of other data sources and Orbats are provided for:
  • 1954,
  • 1961, 1964
  • 1974, 1979
  • 1984, 1989
These dates give excellent coverage of the post war evolution of Soviet formations. In Each date bracket Orbats are generally provided for:
  • Tank Divisions, with subordinate Regiments
  • Motor Rifle Divisions with Subordinate Regiments
  • Airborne Divisions with Subordinate Regiments

On top of covering the key evolutions of Soviet formations throughout the cold war, I think they are just wonderful to look at and a really great way to present Orbat information.

The second reason I visit is the wonderful range of PDFs covering vehicle cameouflage and markings for the Cold War period. These are superb and cover a range of Warsaw Pact and NATO Nations, my main interest here has been the Canadian army which is extensively covered.

Each Vehicle is covered Front back and sides with numerous instances of the same type showing variations in markings and painting schemes. For Cold War Canadians the site includes the schemes used in Canada and Germany for each major vehicle type, these can be found here.

In addition to the Artwork there are several Galleries of photographs again covering Canadian Military vehicles. This is a superb resource for the war gamer and everyone should visit here at least once a truly visual feast and a source of some otherwise hard to come by information , just what the internet was made for..................... sharing. http://www.armouredacorn.com/.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Review - Models 1/72, Military Wheels 2a45 Sprut Anti-Tank Gun

The 2a45 Sprut AT Gun was developed in the mid 80s and is reported as commencing fielding in the forward group of forces in the late 80s early 90s, FM 100-2-3 does not acknowledge the deployment of this gun in 1991. Isbey in the 1986 version of weapons and tactics of the Soviet Army does. Ultimately it's a cool looking gun and something a bit different so I'll use it post 1989 and use the 2a29 MT12 100mm anti tank guns prior to that.

When you pull it out of the box it looks fairly simple, three spurs and a bunch of bits after a few hours you start to realise just how many! Quite a complicated kit given its size. Despite its limited production run status the parts quality is really quite good and the general fit and lack of flash are again good. Having said that there is plenty of construction fun in this model for the unwary, the principal issue being with the lack of part location definition on the model and a degree of ambiguity around the detailed assembly sequence some thinking effort is required in order to sequence the assembly to achieve the desired fit.

Trail Assembly

As I was building all four models in the firing position the first task was to assemble the trails deployed for firing.

Top Tips
  • Chamfer, the top of the trail on the inside edge where it fits to the centre of the gun platform, in the diagrams that refers to the inner ends of parts 4,  and 2
  • Increase the depth of the indentation on the underside of the inboard end of the 2 smaller trail arms, otherwise the arms struggle to reach the ground, parts 8, 4, 2 and 9.

in the second phase of the trail assembly part 68 needs to protrude clear of the lead trail arm as it is the attachment for the front wheel and part 62 needs to attach to the trail arm to the side of 68

Main Gun Assembly

The sequence of assembly and the creation of sub components can lead to problems, I certainly struggled

In order to get the breach and barrel all lined up correctly I found the best approach to be:
  • assemble the recuperatory system housing parts 61, 24, 27
  • assemble the breach parts 15 and 11
  • attach gun barrel to breach and recuperatory system housing
  • add rear of recouperators to top of breach, part 19
  • add covers 34 and 38, note the inside lower edge of these parts needs filling to ensure good fit
  • add breach side 58, this is the only way to get this in the right place

  • then do the rest, part 22 could be left until later as it can interfere with setting the gun in the gun cradle

  • The motor housing needs quite a bit of filler
There is a part in any model that can bring a man to tears for me it was the second phase of the trail construction and seating the gun in the gun cradle. Having filed and checked fit on everything obvious the things I wished I'd been told were as follows:

  • Parts 73 and 74 fit outside 48 the rotation table
  • I inserted some plasticard under the engine platform and on the gun rotation table in order to more firmly fix those components.
  • getting it all straight was fun!

After that it was a breeze

The Gun is mounted on a CD, something to do with your CD collection now you have iThis iThat and iTheOther. The handy part of the CD is the hole in the middle can help solve the "trail legs won't touch the ground" problem.

The figures are from Elhiems Cold War Soviet Range in Flack Jackets with the weapons removed, the prone figure is from the AT4 set.

To be fair this is a very detailed model of a lovely looking gun, once you have got the sequencing sorted, the final model looks great and is a fairly unusual subject. Employing it in a game is the next test of the Soviet gamers resolve but I have a few answers for that as well.