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

Sunday, 28 October 2012

AAR - Wissenberg Counter Attack, Part 1 Ground

On the 19th of August 1988 Germany's 12 Panzerbrigade launched itself across the Weissenberg gap into the flank of 18 Guards Motor Rifle Division part of 20 Combined Armies Army of the Central or Czechoslovakian Front.  In a gruelling day long battle the Germans struggled hard against a mix of Soviet ATGW fire and the massed artillery fire from 280 Motor Rifle Regiments Regimental Artillery Group.  The Brigade eventually broke through the Soviet hasty defence with a panzerkiel formed by the Leopard 2A1s of 123 and 124 Panzerbattalions in a scene reminiscent of the Eastern front some 43 years earlier.  The Weissenberg gap is and was ideal tank country, an area of flat open agricultural land to the west of Weisenberg that lent itself well to the swift armoured thrust that 12 Pz Brigade intended to deliver into the flank of 18 Guards Motor Rifle Division, which with 201 Tank Regiment leading was driving hard for Stuttgart.

The major features of the area included Wissenberg and the surrounding villages of Schmalwiesen Hattenhof and Weimensheim along with the wooded high ground of the Hochwald that bounded the area to the West.  

The town of Weimensheim in the South western corner of the Weissenberg Gap was set to become the seen of fierce resistance by forward ambush groups of 151 Air Assault battalion who fought from the town and the nearby Hochwald feature against the troops of Panzergrenadier batalion 122 and the brigade  Aufklärungszug.

above and below air photo shots of Weimensheim taken by the Luftwaffe's Aufklärungsgeschwader 51 "Immelmann" Photo reconnaissance squadron flying Tornadoes out of Bremgarten Airbase, these images were taken 6 hours before the arrival of 12 Panzer Brigade

This shot below from the same set of photos shows the town of Hattenhof from the East bypassed by Aufklärungsbataillon 4 who drove to link up with the 46 Jägerbataillon who should have been in Schmalwiesen

Looking South from the"Russian Farm" towards Hattenhoff and Weimensheim the open nature of the ground can be appreciated from this shot.

The "Russian Farm"  so called after it was occupied and used by 27 Anti Tank Battery from 136 Independent Anti Tank Battalion which together with elements of 151 Air Assault Battalion and a Company from  79 MRB held the Soviet Eastern flank successfully during the Weissenberg Counter Attack.  This position formed the core of the Soviet defence around fire pocket Влад. 136 Anti Tank Battalion was one of the first to receive the new Sprut 2A45 anti tank guns and they used them to deadly effect.

The western Edge of Weissenberg the large town at the Eastern end of the Weissenberg Gap creating an area of difficult terrain which the Soviets hoped would be by-passed by the Germans. this was lightly held by an artillery battalion and Recce Company from 280 MRR

and Finally the village of Schmalwiesen which formed the Northern boundary of Fire Pocket Александр which unfortunately for the Russians they would be unable to close due to an inability to communicate with the Divisional BM 27 battalion which should have provided a scatterable minefield as part of the on call fire plan of 79 MRB. 

This then was the historic site of the last charge of 12 Panzerbrigade, which now like so many of the battle sites of World War Three is now designated a UN World Peace site. It was the scene of a dramatic and confused meeting engagement that lasted for three days and eventually prevented the penetration of 4 Panzergreinader division's area of responsibility by 20 Combined Arms Army though at a significant cost to the men of 12 Panzerbrigade amongst others.


Steel Leopards, 12 Panzer Brigade at Wiessenberg,  BrigGen A Wittenberg, 2020
Red Highway, The Drive into Germany, Colonel Professor Valentine Runov, 2015
War and Reconciliation, UN World Peace sites 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Scenario - The Weissenberg Counter Attack

For the last 3 years I have participated in some fairly large games with a group of people I met through the Guild Forum.  As you might have noticed my personal poison is Cold War, this year the intent was a bit of a downscale and 4 of us with a mix of Soviet and German Armies got together in August to play. The German Team were Mausman and Panzerfaust 200 whilst the Soviets were Played  by Elhiem and myself.  The detailed Scenario can be downloaded from the link at the end of the post. 

I started work on the scenario in January, determining that the Scenario was going to develop from an attack into Southern Germany along the Boundary of II Ge Corps and VII US Corps by a Front based on the CSLA and the Central Group of Forces in Czechoslovakia.  The intent being to keep the top level detail the same and play scenarios against US, Germans and Canadians.  The Canadian Brigade constituted a CENTAG reserve that would support into these Corps areas.  The Central Group of Forces was selected as my Soviets are mostly equipped with T-72s.

I roughed out the the Fronts advance and Laydown based on a look at the likly crossing points of the mountainous Czech border.  I placed the Soviet 22nd Combind Arms Army as the Northern of the two Armies in the first echelon, with its two first echelon divisions straddling the inter corps boundary. 22 CAA would take the less than Optimal Weidhaus gap shown below, more gaming opportunities around that route I suspect.

As this first game was a Soviet German combination I deployed II Ge Corps with 4 PzGren Div in the North and 1 GbJgr Div South (where the mountains were).  The laydown of 4 PzGren Div, placed 10 PzGren Bde North, 56 HS Brigade Centre and 11 PzGren Bde South with 12 Pz Brigade in reserve.  I have yet to consider the US VII Corps laydown.  The detail of this can be found in the Google Earth .kmz file included as a download at the end of the post.

At this point I was not sure what sort of a game we wanted to play although the previous years  game was originally intended to be a Soviet defence and I was in the middle of finishing a Divisional AT Battalion that I was quite keen to see fight.  I roughed out the Manoeuvre of 18 Guards MRD through 10 PzGren Bdes area and started looking for potential spots where action would occur, based around the concepts of a German covering force pulling back onto a main defensive area and an intent to base games around the Soviet use of forward detachments to enable tactical manoeuvre which allows for some interesting approaches to task organisation on the Soviet side, and is covered well in David Glanz's The Soviet Conduct of Tactical Maneuver: Spearhead of the Offensive

The battlefield size we had in mind was 16" by 8" which I was mapped to an area 4km by 2km, selected from Google Earth but based on the larger scheme of manoeuvre outlined below. In order to meet the need for a defensive game, I exploited the breakout of 18 Guards MRD from the bridgehead it established over the Rhien-Main-Danube canal as it bypassed 10 Pz Gren Bdes main defended area around Neaumarket. and then exploited into the depth of 4 PzGren Div.  At this point the Germans counter attacked with 12 Pz Brigade and the scenario developed around an attempt by 18 Guards MRD to block this action in the area of Wissenberg.

In order to give players some control over where the game would be fought 12 Pz Bde was given a choice of two routes and on each route 18 MRD had two blocking options.  For our game the Germans chose the Western Route and the Soviets chose to fight on the Northern of the two options provided.  Alternatively the two positions can be played as a mini campaign with the an initial Soviet force on the Southern table withdrawing to the Northern Table in truth you could easily create a 4 game mini campaign which could include subsequent actions depending on outcome.

  • Game 1 Delay battle Treuchtlingen
  • Game 2 Block at Wiessenberg
  • Game 3 (German Victory in Game 2) German Counter Stroke into Flank of  210 Tank Regiment
  • Game 4 (Germans blocked) Counter Attack by 91 Independent Tank Battalion
In the later Games, it would seem logical to introduce the lead elements of the 2nd Echelon, Divisions.  effectively the thinking through of the high level manoeuvre provides the context for force composition which would otherwise be provided by history.

The broadscope of the play was that the mixed (121) and Pz Grenadier (122) Battalions of 12 PzBrigade reinforced by an airmobile Jager Battalion from division and elements of divisional recce and artillery had to secure the route to and start line for the Two Panzer battalions to strike into the flank of 18 Gds MRD.  The Soviets on the other hand were aiming to delay this from happening for three hours and had:

  • A Motor Rifle Battalion (BMP), 
  • 3 Air Assault Companies,
  • An Anti Tank Battalion 
  • A Mobile Obstacle Detachment
  • A Recce Company 
  • A company of Tanks 
  • 3 Artillery Battalions 

with which to do this along with a T-72 Bn held in reserve, the deployment of which altered the victory conditions. As the concept was hasty defence the Soviets were only provided with limited field defences and obstacles. Though they had the ability to deploy more in game using Engineer and Artillery assets. 

This is the first of a series of Scenarios that I intend to develop around this broad theme others may include the covering force action, the Neumarket defence, the river crossing and the meeting engagement that developed following this action.  Each will be preceded by a look at some of the relevant Tactical Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) along with a look at the Scenario and followed by an AAR.


TTP - Soviet Forward Detachments as a Covering Force
ORBAT - Soviet Task Org, Fronts in the Western TVD
ORBAT - Soviet Air Assault Capability, Part 1 Overview and Lift
ORBAT- 1980's MRR and TRR, Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4
ORBAT - Soviet Divisional Units, Part 1MRD Anti Tank Battalion


The Wissenberg Counter Attack, This is a big file 30mb (too many pictures)
Wissenberg Google Earth KMZ file
Soviet Military Maps

Friday, 19 October 2012

Review - Books, Weapons and Tactics of The Soviet Army, Isbey


One of the definitive texts for the cold war gamer, everything you ever wanted to know about the Soviets and more. My Gran bought me my first copy way back in the early 80s the one to go for however is this one the revised 1988 reprint. I bought mine a couple of years ago when I first started getting into cold war and at that time it was a snip at £40 second hand. Sadly these days if you can find one below £100 you are doing well.


It covers the space of FM 100-2-1, 2-2 and 2-3 but with better pictures a clearer text and an elegant approach to detailing task organisation that builds units from there components. It Covers the broad structure of the Soviet Army its Doctrine in terms of Offence and defence, and reviews this against operational performance in a number of conflicts.


David then goes onto examine supporting functions before examining the principal classes of weapon systems within the context of their arm of service, detailed organisation and tactical deployment, A style which I find highly useful. A brilliant book which I have been reading for the best part of 30 years and despite the internet and all the great books you can access through it, that you never knew existed before, it remains one of the core texts on the Soviet Army, staggering in both its detail and accuracy given the time it was written at effectively the height of the cold war.


David Isby is a military analyst and a bit of a global expert on defence and security he has written extensively on the cold war and soviet operations in afghanistan. He is also a man with an extensive background in war games and games design working for a number of years for SPI on Strategy and Tactics magazine.


all up this is an excellent book and one I would not be without if you can find one at a decent price grab it.

Weapons and Tactics of the Soviet Army @ amazon

Other Book Reviews

Soviet Air Land Battle Tactics
The Military Balance
Encyclopaedia of the Modern British Army
The Soviet Conduct of Tactical Manoeuvre
First Clash
The Third World War
The British Army in Germany

The Cold War Bookstore contains links to over 60 Cold War titles covered in my book list



Monday, 15 October 2012

Wargames Unit - Soviet Late 80's MRB

The original MRB I  built was an early 80's organisation focused on BMP 1 and reflecting the Force structures of the late 70's. As the Soviets moved firmly into the non Nuclear doctrine they undertook a number of significant organisational reforms. In the MRB this created Air Defence and AGS platoons in all battalions, AT Platoons in BTR Battalions and manoeuvre support and AT detachments within companies. The AT detachments did not appear in BMP based units. The Mortar platoon became a battery and could be either 120mm or Vaselik. The net result of this was more vehicles and weapon systems but with a firm emphasis of increasing fire support both direct and indirect.

The upgrade of vehicles was seldom consistent and within the BMP fleet you could see that active management of this might optimise your fire support options. A mix of BMP 1P and BMP2 for a late 80s MRB would seem appropriate. I have used the BMP 1Ps in the support platoons and the BMP2s for the rifle companies

The BMP 1 Ps are ACE wagons with the Sagger and launch rail removed and one of Elhiems AT 4 systems mounted to the right of the gunners hatch, you could also add three smoke grenade dischargers to the either side of the turret simmilar to the mounting on the BMP2.  BMP1P commenced fielding from 1980 and BMP2 from 1981.

I have created 3 SA7 teams each of two figures for the air defence platoon which fielded 9 SA7 and 2 AGS 17 representing the 6 systems deployed in the direct fire support platoon. The Morter battery is mounted in MTLB and deploys 2 120mm Morter. The rifle companies all have an additional figure with a PKM GPMG, I am currently trying to resolve if these were PKM or PKMS with tripod.

The later Battalion deployed more BMPs and consolidated the fire support elements into definitive groups, my current early 80s force, has an AGS 17 in the Battalion HQ which I am now considering dropping.   This is the organisation around which many of the forward detachments are built as the BMP Regiment was more likely to be in the second echelon than the first.


ORBAT - 1980's Soviet MRR and TRR, Part 1 Deployment and ORBAT
TTP - Soviet Forward Detachment as a Covering Force
Wargames Unite - Soviet Early 80's MRB

Thursday, 11 October 2012

TTP - Soviet, Forward Detachments as a Covering Force

Soviet Defensive Doctrine called for the destruction of enemy forces in order to create the conditions for the offensive to be resumed as quickly as possible. In transitioning to a defensive posture the Soviets would create a security zone forward of the main defence in order to:
  • Attrit enemy reconnaissance and main force units.
  • Gain time to prepare the main defence.
  • Deceive as to the location and structure of the main defence.
  • Gain intelligence on the enemy.

As part of this activity they task organised Units and Sub Units to provide the covering force. These could be forward detachments based on Motor Rifle or Tank Battalions and Regiments reinforced by a range of Divisional, Army and Front Assets. Command and control of the assets would largely reside with the Combined Arms Commander in this case the Motor Rifle Battalion CO. Forward detachments would be provided from units with more able commanders, though what that meant in the cultural context of the Soviet Military I am less than clear on.

Recce. Divisional Recce would work forward of the Security Zone with Regimental, Engineer, Chemical and Artillery Recce and Locating elements working with in it, once contact with the enemy had been established these elements would pull back to the flanks and maintain contact with and monitor the enemy's activity as they moved into the security zone. In addition the recce components enabled early engagement with air aviation and indirect fire assets and continued engagement throughout the enemies depth as the battle progressed.

Engineers. Divisional and Regimental Mobile Obstical Detachments would construct the Obstical plan, enhancing natural obsticals and aiming to channel and slow the enemy as they moved through the security zone. Their efforts would be enhanced by the deployment of Scatterable mines from Mi-8s and BM - 27s. In addition the Soviets would consider the use of persistent chemical weapons as a means of enhancing the Obstical plan allowing rapid dynamic adjustment as the battle unfolded.

Each Regiment could generate a MOD and Division could generate an additional one from the independent Engineer Battalion, upto 2 MODs supporting a single Battalion deployed in this role would seem reasonable. The composition of a Mobile Obsticle Detachment is covered here.

Artillery. Routinely in this role the forward battalion would be reinforced with between one and two battalions of artillery in addition Artillery from the RAGs and DAG would deploy forward in order to provide effective fire support of the screening force and Recce elements, Given the passing forward of artillery between Division, Army and Front and the additional elements passed forward from the second echelon a representation of the Supporting Fires available would be as follows:
  • 4 Bns of 2S1 ( 1 in each of its TR and MRR), organic
  • DAG 2 Bn 2S1, 1 Bn 2S3, 1 Bn MRL BM21, organic
  • From Army 2 Bn 2S5, attached,
  • From Front 3Bn 2S3, 1Bn MRL BM 27, 1 Bn 2S4 240mm Mortar, 1 Bn 2S7 203mm Guns, attached

The detail of this would be dependent on the posture being adopted by the remaining units in the formations and where the commanders main effort lay. Most Fire Missions would be applied with a minimum of a battalion. The central control of the allocation of the fires would allow rapid concentration of significant fire where requiered, the Soviet commander could in the words of Maximus Decimus Meridius - Unleash Hell. In addition the Soviets would position artillery units to provide direct fire engagement on to routes on secondary axis and to the rear of the main strongpoints. This effectively gives Artillery a primary task of indirect fire support and a secondary task of anti tank engagement in their immediate vicinity and adding depth and density to the defence.

Motor Rifle Battalion. The Forward detachment would either be constituted from a MRB or TB depending on the situation. With an MRB the aim would be to set up a series of defended strong points supported by ambushes and fires from artillery and anti tank systems, coordinated within the context of the obstacle plan. The unit would then withdraw to its alternate positions as the attack develops with the intent on each withdrawal being to cause the enemy artillery to move. The final position is designed to convince the enemy that they have reached the main defence

The physical positions and obstacles are designed to lead the enemy into a series of fire pockets where a range of direct and indirect fire weapons can be used to best effect once the enemy has been fixed. Choice of positions will aim to exploit Natural obstacles and Company strongpoints will be situated along the most likely avenues of advance with other assets such as Artillery units, Anti Tank Units and obstacles covering the subsidiary approaches.

Tank Companies. Upto two Tank companies might be allocated to a single battalion and they are used to manoeuvre and mount counter attacks around the infantry strong points. In addition at critical stages in the battle such as the need for an in place unit to withdraw they can take over the fight from the in place force and supported by Artillery Air and Aviation assets create the conditions to enable withdrawal from the strongpoints.

Anti Tank Battalions. The MRR possess an Anti Tank Battery and the divison a battalion, additional assets may be allocated from the AT Regiments at Army and Front level allowing for upto 3 Battalions to support the forward detachment. As well as supporting the primary strong points these units can be used to cover the gaps between strongpoints and some part of the manoeuvre element. It was likly that the Anti Armour reserve would be provided by a single Anti Tank Battery.

The long range fire available from missiles either from the gun or GW batteries allowed significant concentration of fire from widely dispersed units, like their air defence the anti armour defence would be layered but in this case would be optimised to achieve maximum effect once the enemy was fixed in the fire pocket. So the MRBs anti armour weapons RPG, AT 4/5, and SPG 9 would be sited to allow them to maximise fire effect with the AT Battery and Battalion systems once the enemy had hit the obstical belts that restricted their exit from or movement through the fire pockets.

Air Defence. An air defence battery or battalion could be deployed to cover the area and supplement the battalions organic SA7 assets.

Aviation. Aviation from the Army Attack Helicopter regiment could provide significant flexibility and stopping power to deal with the main force once identified and fixed. The speed of deployment and manoeuvre allowing it to focus on the main need. The intent would be to fix and slow down with strong points and obstacles close down with artillery then clean up with anti armour systems, the range and speed of deployment of the air assets allowing rapid concentrations of fire to be built up.

Air Assault. Whilst I have no specific references siteing the use of air assault in direct conjunction with a security screen they are given blocking missions to flanks and in enemy rear it seems likely that in stabelising a fluid defensive situation they might be deployed at the forward end of the security zone to give the security zone time to establish.

The Soviets understood that in fluid situations you would have units in different states (offence, defence, transition) simultaneously and the bigger the meeting engagement the clearer this would be. I have assumed for the purposes of the Wisenberg Scenario which conceptualises an armoured brigade counter attacking into the flank of an MRD that had broken through the forward NATO divisional defence that the concepts outlined above for the security zone would apply equally to the blocking action that the Soviets would make against this threat.

This allowed me to build a Soviet hasty defence in the context of a Soviet attack and build the force structure for the Soviet element. The assumption being that the blocking force would be slightly less lavishly equipped than the task organisation described, would have less time to deploy obstacles and might have less supporting artillery available as other forces would be in contact on critical axis of advance.

The aspects of this that I find interesting is the level of force packaging done by the Soviets in this mission context which is far greater than I'd conceive for most NATO armies with the exception of possibly the Germans.


ORBAT Soviet MRR and TR, Part 1, Deployement and ORBAT
ORBAT Soviet MRR and TR, Part 3 Engineer Support
ORBAT Soviet MRR and TR, Part 4 Artillery
ORBAT Soviet Divisional Units, Part 1 MRD Anti Tank Battalion
Wargames Unit - Soviet Late 80's MRB
Wargames Unit - Soviet MRR, Anti Tank Reserve
Wargames Unit - Soviet MRD, Anti Tank Battalion
Wargames Unit - Soviet MRR, Air Defence Battery
Wargames Unit - Soviet MRR, Recce Company
Wargames Unit - Soviet MRR, Regimental Artillery Group
The Soviet Conduct of Tactical Maneuver: Spearhead of the Offensive, D Glanz
Soviet Airland Battle Tactics, WP Baxter
Weapons and Tactics of the Soviet Army, D Isby
FM 100-2-2 Specialised Warfare and Rear Area Support, Chapter 3 Heliborn Operations
FM 100-2-3, Soviet Troop Organisation and Equipment
Defending Forward Soviet Activities in Advance of the Main Defence, DTIC 1989
Scenario - The Weissenberg Counter Attack

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Terrain - Modern Supermarket

Part of the look at what makes things modern said you can't really beat a supermarket, probably a German one for the central front and ideally something that fits in with the period.  I picked this one having looked at a lot as it said Modern and at the same time was a manageable size and shape given this was going to be a scratch build.

The first thing I do having decided on the type of building and found a suitable structure to work on is knock up a rough sketch of the building showing its major features and extending it to cover the space not covered by the imagery.  I then draw a scale plan of each of the buildings facades dimensioning the pillars etc against my available plasticard stock and the overall size of the piece I am aiming for.  I then produce a MDF base much as I did for the trees and mark that up with the main wall locations and dimensions. By the end of this work I know the building will look OK and fit the base.

The Building is constructed using foam core, cardboard, plasticard; sheet, rod and strips along with MDF.  The first step in construction is the establishment of the basic shape and structure using foam core cut to the dimensions on the plan then attached to the base and each other using white glue.

The structure is then set aside to dry and each facade is built on to card board or plasticard sheet depending on the construction required.  I do this as constructing the detail is generally easier on a flat surface rather than trying to build direct onto the sides of the structure, it is also relatively easy to adjust.  In this case the Roof side was built onto plasticard sheet because it was easier to attach all the small strips to it, the lower posrtion of the wall and windows was built onto cardboard.  Rough card was used for the concreate walls and plasticard for the window

The rear facade had a drain pipe and gutter attached for which i used plastic rod, the roller door was cut from a sheet of corregated plasticard and the roof was cut from a sheet of molded card that was then mounted on card stock and braced with foam core to hold it in place.  The facades were then glued onto the foam core structure the concreate areas were washed with a dilute solution of wall filler to texture them and the base of all the walls and all the gaps were then filled using the same material

Then it was on to the painting, the trick to painting things white is not to in my book, this one I started from a grey base and washed and dry brushed white, where I over acheived on the white colour I would wash with black grey.  The aim in this was to create a building that looked like it might be white but which had a degree of colour variation and shading, avoiding the deadening effect of painting just white and also acknowledging that buildings are seldom of a uniform colour.

The Ground work was produced by masking the MDF with masking tape cut to shape before gluing sand on using white glue, this produces very sharp edges to the green areas.  The sand was painted brown before being covered with static grass and tufts.  The MDF was painted black grey then washed with increasingly lighter shades of the same.

The building produced was used in action for the first time for the Wissenberg counter attack scenario which we played in August.  Here its used in conjunction with a small car park produced from MDF with foam core walls and some of the very nice Byzantium buildings the main roads are home produced by Mausman from the guild forum and the tracks are some excellent sets produced by Fonzie also from the guild forum, the armour is from the very talented hands of the Guilds Panzerfaust 200