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

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Review - Book, Janes Armour and Artillery systems 2002-2003

These books are exceptional and are also exceptionally expensive, the trick is to pick up an out of date second hand version which can be done for relatively sensible quantities of mony. I have two one from the 80s and one from 2002. The later ones tend to cover a lot of the earlier vehicles unless they are pretty much out of Service, each book covers:
  • Tanks
  • Reconaisance vehicles
  • IFVS of all flavours
  • artillery systems both self propelled and towed

Each platform is comprehensively covered usually with production history, vehicle description and all of the main in service varients described along with the users that bought the systems. A few pictures generally complete the description and selected vehicles get line drawings. The more widely used vehicles tend to be better described.  The post Cold War books have a lot more data on the Soviet systems so to some extent represent better value for money having said that they are generally more expensive.

Interestingly from the Soviet perspective platforms are covered by producing nation so all the different flavours of T-72s get covered amoungst others.  What they don't give you is a detailed history of the evolution of the vehicle and it's detailed deployment and use that you might get in an Osprey, but they do provide wall to wall coverage of the worlds armoured vehicles at a level of detail you can't really beat them.  The Russian Federation and Associated states in the 2002/3 book is covered in some 30 close typed pages covering Russian tanks from the T-54 to T-95 and Black Eagle.

Not being a rule writer I tend to get most benifit from the general descriptions, who operates the vehicles and the production history which can be invaluable when trying to unravel the mysteries of organisational change. They are not a cover to cover read and are very much a reference work I find them both fascinating for the breadth of vehicles covered and their utility when kicking off a new project, such as the work I have been doing on British Mechanised Units all the data I have derived on Saxon production came from here.

There are a few pitfalls to watch out for when your buying them:
  • Shop around, even on amazon check through the listings you'll find the same book under a number of similar descriptions and prices can vary
  • Don't end up with the armour and artillery upgrades which is also a Janes Year Book, easily done :)
  • The late 1990s early 2000 books have significantly better data than the 1980s books.
  • Buying consecutive volumes is probably a complete waste of money.
  • If your interested in the Cold War you have a lot of flexibility in which book to buy in terms of dates.
  • Second Hand and out of date is the only affordable option! :)
The books are a bargin if you're after general descriptive data on platforms and can source a 2000+ one for less than £50, at £100 you may want to look around a bit more or stick with Wikipedia.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Review - Web Resources, British Army Units Since 1945

This is a MOD operated web site and does what it says on the tin pretty much. It lists every unit that has been part of the British Army since 1945. These are accessed through selecting the Arm of Service, you can then select from a list of unit titles and access data on the units operational, organisational and geographic deployment history. So simply put between dates Unit X was part of Y Brigade and based in VWX it deployed between dates to A,B, C operations.

The format can make generating brigade orbats a bit laborious although Brigade Name and Unit Title will return hits from google. It also helps if you understand what units were active in your period of interest, so you are not having to look at them all, as given the number of amalgamations and title changes since the end of the War there are a lot of units listed. It took me about an hour to check the Cold War Infantry Battalions to generate a list of the units in 19 Brigade, from an Infantry perspective.

The data for RA units and RE units is less well defined against formations but home stations and operational deployments are quite well covered. To some extent the problem is more difficult here as single batteries , squadrons and regiments might have a variety of relationships with different formations having: 
  • administrative relationships 
  • current operational relationships
  • wartime roles.

As well as generating lists of what units were in what formations at what times it's also handy for checking data and in that respect it's easier to consume so if you believe that x unit was in y formation at date its relatively easy to check if the data is there. I have assumed that as it's published by the MOD it has a degree of accuracy that other resources may lack, the assumption being it's generated from their own records. As I have found their can be a level of ambiguity between planned and actual deployments so as ever the source data is important in this respect.

Whilst not that user friendly due to the structure of the data and the fact that you can only view it from one perspective it is never the less an extremely valuable web resource for any one interested in the post war history of the British Army and provides a time efficient route to validating and generating data compared to what was available previously. Equally once you know what units were where or serving in what formation it becomes a lot easier to track down what the unit and formations were up to through a variety of regimentaly focused resources:
  • Regimental Museums
  • Regimental Magazines
  • Regimental History Web sites
  • Regimental association web sites
  • Regimental facebook pages
all of which contain a remarkable amount of information although sometimes a degree of persistence is required to get to the bottom of a problem.


British Army Units Since 1945
The Coaster Company - Great for Cap Badge Immmages for the British Army
Staffords Regimental History
Staffords Regimental Museum
4/7 RTR Regimental History

Friday, 4 April 2014

Wargames Unit - British 1980's BG Armoured Squadron, Challenger 1

I started building this unit a long time ago, the first break in production was a fairly long wait to get the stowage sorted, the particular issue being crew figures. Then it spent an age waiting for the paint job to get completed. Primarily because I was not sure where the black lines should go, which is a bit of a sad story. I finished it off this week with quite a drastic revision to the painting process over the original British units and I am reasonably pleased with both the finish and the fact that it can be used alongside the rest

All my units are built for a Rapid Fire adoption to enable Cold War Games to be played out using that rule set and rather than the traditional 1:5 Ratio we use 1:3 for vehicles and major equipments giving me 4 vehicles in a 12 or 14 tank Squadron so capable of representing either of the two Orbats I saw deployed at Squadron level with no change.

The vehicles are all from Revell, stowage is all Green stuff bandages and plasticard. The crew figures are from the ex CMSC range now produced by Wee friends. Crew are portrayed in coveralls with the kevlar crew guard helmet which really places them in the latter part of the period.

The changes on the painting front other than using an airbrush included sealing the paint job with a semi gloss coat prior to weathering and pin washing and applying enamel based filters and washes, using the humbrol enamel wash range and Tamiyas flat clear acrylic paint which all went off pretty well.

I used decals from 4 different sheets of the TL Modelblau set and have accepted the limitations of using the yellow sets as these give better contrast with the Cam scheme, Whilst their will be enough decals to do both the Armoured Regiment and the Mechanised battalion on those sheets I will have to buy more if I want the mech boys in yellow.

This is the first of a number of Squadrons of CR 1 that will build into an armoured battle group, probably 3 in total that I will use as either a 3:0 or a 3:1 Battle group.  In addition to the CR1s I will get a couple of Scorpions, a Sultan for BHQ and probably a CRARV if I can source one from Cromwell. There are probably a couple of Orbat posts to pop out around the Armoured corps as I would also like to generate a Divisional Recce Squadron later this year in order to support a variety of the lighter role reinforcement battle groups.

The Revell model is a great vehicle probably one of the best detailed kits I have built, sadly let down by the smoke grenade discharger units, which I have yet to find an after Market replacement for, although some of S&S's FV432 ones whilst wrong would probably look better than those supplied with the kit.

Squadron two is already built but yet to be stowed and Squadron three needs ordering. The armoured Regiment will play the Brigade Reserve for a couple of Big Soviet deliberate attack games that I have a hankering to play and will probably have to take on the Soviet Air Armada at some stage which would be used to block reserve deployments.

Other Posts of Interest:

Review - Model 1/72, Revell FV 4030 Challenger 1
ORBAT - 1980's British BG Part 7, The Infantry Battalion

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

ORBAT - 1980's British BG, NATO Reinforcement Part 1, General

I have had this post on a long list of ones to write for some time, it was always my intention to cover the full range of Battle Groups that could be deployed into Germany with my British collection. This post will look at what that range may be. Forward deployed in Germany as part of BAOR we had effectively the armoured force comprising:
  • Type 57 Armoured Regiments Cheiftain/Challenger
  • Type 43 Armoured Regiments Cheiftain/Challenger
  • Armoured Infantry Battalions Warrior
  • Mechanised (tracked) Infantry Battalions FV432
  • Medium Artillery Regiments M109 + Javalin or Abbott
  • Heavy Artillery Regiments M107, M110, MLRS
  • Field and Armoured Engineer Regiments FV432 or AVRE's
  • Missile Artillery Regiments Lance
  • Air Defence Artillery Regiments Rapier Tracked and Towed
  • Medium Recconaisance Regiments CVR(T) pretty much the whole family
  • Aviation Regiments Lynx and Gazelle
  • Logistic Units - REME, Ordanace Corps Transport Corps, Medical Corps, Military Police. Which whilst vital tend to be of less interest to the Wargamer
These units were the components of the principal combat elements of 1st 4th and 3rd Armoured Divisions which were the forward deployed divisions, of which one, 4th Division had a Brigade in UK.  On top of this there were a raft of reinforcement units that would deploy from the UK in time of war, it was a significant component of this force that participated in the Exercise Lionheart Exercise in 1984.

Not all of the reinforcement force elements would deploy into AFCENT deployments to AFNORTH and  AFSOUTH were also included, the break down is as follows:

  • AFCENT, 5 Bdes
  • AFNORTH, 3 Bdes
  • AFSOUTH, 1 Bde
  • Reserve, 1 Bde

The principal units their broad composition and their deployment responsibilities were as follows:

  • 2nd Infantry Division directly reinforced BAOR and AFCENT and was responsible for the security of the Corps Rear Area.  The Division included 1 regular and 2 TA Brigades, with each TA Brigade including a Fox mounted Yeomanry Recce Regiment.  Of interest on Exercixe Lionheart in 1984 2 Div detached 24 Brigade and received The Bundeswehr's 53 HS Brigade. The Divisions Composition was as follows
    • 24 Infantry/Airmobile Brigade
    • 15 Brigade (TA) 5 TA Bn 1 Yeomanry Regt
    • 49 Brigade (TA) 5 TA Bn 1 Yeomanry Regt
    • 101 Regt RA (TA) 105 Lt Gun (49 Bde)
    • 100 Regt RA (TA) 105 Lt Gun (15 Bde)
    • 27 Regt RA FH70 (24 Bde)
    • 103 AD Regt (TA) Blowpipe/Javalin
    • 38 Regt RE (1 Sqn ?)
    • 655 Sqn AAC (other sources identify this as an NI role unit)

The Mechanised Brigades

  • 19 Infantry Brigade deployed initially as an infantry brigade It started to convert to a Mech (Wh) Brigade in 1985/86 as part of 3rd Armoured division the Corps reserve and a component of AFCENT. On exercises the brigade was frequently pulled forward in a ground holding role for one or other of the forward Divisions.  From 1986 it deployed as a Mech (Wh) Brigade as part of 4th Armoured Division deploying in the area of Bokenum in Lower Saxony.  It was composed of:
    • 3 Light Role Type A Regular Infantry Battalions converting to Saxon 1986-1988.
    • An FH 70 Regiment 40 then 45 Regt RA
    • An Army Air Corps Squadron 657 Sqn
    • Armoured Regt, Royal Hussars (Type 43)  Chieftain
    • 1 AD Tp from 21 AD Bty RA
    • A Recce regiment.  This was the divisional recce regiment, located in UK and probably shown under command of the brigade for administration and deployment.
    • 34 Field Sqn RE from (39 Regt RE)

  • 24 Infantry/Airmobile Brigade, whilst the Brigade was part of AFCENT and deployed with 2nd infantry division its role and equipment change warrant further consideration. Initially 24 Brigade was a light brigade converting first to Mech (Wh) 1984 where it deployed on Exercise Lionheart. As part of this exercise it was detached from 2nd Infantry Division and I suspect committed into the forward Divisons AORs with 19 Bde, one to each. Of interest in phase 1 of the exercise it had a squadron of 4 RTR under command.  in 1988 it became an Airmobile Brigade where it became a component of the Corps Reserve. This evolved to a NORTHAG reserve role as part of a Multi national Airmobile Div including the Bundeswehr's 25 Luftlande Brigade and the Belgium Para Commando Regiment 1990?  24 Brigade comprised:
    • 3 Light Role Battalions, then 2 Saxon (1984/85) and 1 Light role, then from 1988 2 Airmobile battalions and a  saxon Battalion (until 1993) then 3 Airmobile battalions 
    • FH70 Regt but this converted to 105 light gun in the 1990s. 27 Regt RA
    • from 1988 to 1994 by 9 Regt AAC and from 1994 by 3 and 4 Regt AAC1
    • 51 Field Squadron RE from 1988 (38 Regt RE)
    • Air Defence was initially provided by 103 (Lancastrian Volunteers) RA who supported 2 Div, then 21 Battery RA ( 1 troop) from 1989.

  • 1st Infantry Brigade reinforced AFNORTH, It was the main component of the UKMF (UK Mobile Force) and deployed into Denmark.  It was initially a Light Role infantry Brigade becoming a Mech (Wh) Brigade, I suspect in 1988.   The Brigade had an interesting organisation being composed of:
    • 3 Light Role Infantry Battalions converting to Saxon in 1988
    • TA Battalion, light role, 1 Wessex
    • Armoured Sqn, Royal Hussars Chieftain (1 Sqn)
    • Recce Regiment, 13/18th Royal Hussars (-1 Sqn to AMF(L))
    • 1 Engineer Regiments, 22 Engr Regt 
    • 1 Rapier Battery from 16 AD Regt
    • 26 Regt RA, FH 70.
    • 656 Sqn AAC
    • AD Troop from 21 AD Bty RA (assumed)

The Airborne Brigades

  • 5 Airborne Brigade I believe was part of the national reserve with no specific identified role in the European Theatre.  It contained two in role para battalions and 1 regular light role infantry battalion in the air landing role and a Gurkah battalion.  Units were supported by a range of Combat Support and Combat Service Support Battalions including an armoured Recce squadron.
    • 2 in role Para Bns
    • 2 Air Landing Bns 
    • 7 Para Regt RHA, 105mm Light Gun
    • 9 Indep Para Sqn RE
    • 658 Sqn AAC
    • 1 Recce Sqn, CVR(T) (Life Guards)
  • Para Regiment Group.  The Parachute Regiment Group was a headquarters that sat over the 3 TA Para battalions which were equipped with enhanced allocations of Milan and came under command of 1st Armoured Division reinforcing AFCENT with a role of defending Hildeshiem. The Group consisted of the 3 TA Para Battalions  4th, 10th and 15th.

The Commando Brigade

  • 3 Commando Brigade had identified roles on the Northern Flank with AFNORTH.  This included options in both Norway and Denmark.  The Commando Brigade included elements of the Royal Dutch Marines and was equipped with BV 202/206. In addition this force would be supported by both Naval, Marine, Army and Air Force Aviation units.It contained
    • 3 RM Commandos 
    • 29 Commando Regt RA with 105mm Light guns, and Navel Gun Fire Support Battery
    • 59 Commando Sqn RE.
    • G Troop,  Light AD (Javalin)
    • 1 Recce Squadron CVR(T) (Life Guards) 
    • 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron (Gazelle and Lynx)
    • 20 AD Battery (Rappier? 1990 16 Regt)

The Multinational Brigade

  • AMF(L) covered both the Northern and Southern Flanks, so both AFNORTH and AFSOUTH.  It provided a multi national brigade group this may have been to each.  The Northern Force included a British Light Role Battalion equipped with BV 202/206, a recce squadron a gun battery and aviation squadron.  The force exercised in alternate years to each of the respective flanks but I assume that in war both could have deployed.  Force composition was broadly as follows:

    • Northern Option; 
UK Light Role Bn, 
Canadian Bn, 
Italian Alpini, 
UK Med Recce Sqn
, 5 Bty RA

Southern Option
; US Para Bn, Ge Fallschirm
jager Bn, Be Para Commando Bn, 
UK Med Recce Sqn
, 5 Bty RA

Special Forces

  • UK Special Forces (Regular and TA)
    • 21, 23 SAS Stay behind OPs
    • 22 SAS Strategic Reserve (SACEUR)
    • SBS
    • Stay behind Artillery Units HAC

Artillery, Aviation and Engineers

  • Air Defence RA
    • 102 Light AD Regt RA (TA) Blowpipe/Javalin
    • 104 Light AD Regt RA (TA) Blowpipe/Javalin
    • 105 Light AD Regt RA (TA) Blowpipe/Javaline
    • 16 Regt RA, Rapier towed (-1 Bty UKMF, - 1 Bty 3 Cdo Bde)
  • Army Air Corps
      • 657 Sqn was an independent Squadron with a reinforcement role with 19 Bde
    • 7 Regt Army Air Corps Supported UKLF Squadrons were allocated:
      • 656 1 Mech Bde
      • 658 Para Bde
      • 666 (V) Home Defence
  • Engineers
    • 29 Engineer Brigade (TA) Corps rear area
      • 71, 72, 73 Engr Regt (TA)
That effectively put another 9 Brigades into the field, 10 if AMF(L) could deploy both components effectively 3 Divisions and the distribution of supporting arms suggests that it was not far off that level of capability  The reinforcement formations were largely comprised of the following unit types:

  • Mechanised (Wheeled) Battalions
  • Light Role Battalions (TA and Regular)
  • Para Battalions (TA and Regular)
  • RM Commandos
  • Air Mobile battalions

  • 1 Armoured Regiment
  • 3 Medium Recconaisance Regiments (with at least 2 different organisations)
  • 2 Yeomanry Recconaisance Regiments

  • Field Engineer Regiments
  • Medium Artillery Regiments (FH70)
  • Light Artillery Regiments (105mm Light Gun)
  • Light Air Defence Regiments (Rapier/Javalin and Blowpipe)
  • Aviation Squadrons

The next set of projects will start to create the ability to represent a range of these reinforcement units, starting with the Mechanised Wheeled and Light Role Type A Battalions of 19, 24 and 1 Infantry Brigades and including the capability deployed by 6 and 24 Airmobile Brigades and possibly the Commando or AMF(L) Bn.  All up some very interesting force compositions available.


Other Posts of interest: