Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Prototype 'Offset Oblong' Campaign Map

Draft campaign map of the Crusader operation, 1941, on a
single sheet of A4.  Note the oblong cells.
In my last posting I spoke of a campaign map I started to make for a game based upon the Crusader Battles in the Western Desert in November-December 1941.  The two pictures here show how far I got with the thing - including the mistakes and additional notes - even an idea I had at the time of transforming (by eye alone) the oblong cells into hexagons.   

Same map with a 'desert' special effect.  This map was
redrawn, double-sized onto 2 A4 sheets.

The campaign was to be 'bathtubbed' - based on the Command Decision rule set, but further scaled down.  The inspiration for this was the campaign game Barbarossa 25, in which the whole Operation Barbarossa was scaled down by a factor of 25.  This included time and ground scale.  Now, Command Decision already involves a scaling down of 1:5 in vehicles, with a two-figure infantry stand representing roughly 50 men,   So Barbarossa 25 implied a scaling down of 1:125 in vehicles, and each infantry stand represented roughly 1250 men.

This was achieved not by a method that would have looked like Not Quite Mechanised or Megablitz; but by having 1 war games Division standing for 25.  On a hex map of Russia, each cell represented an area 1 km across instead of 25.  The time scale was harder to design, so the designer (Frank Chadwick) settled on 2 days  representing 1 month.  I think I would have made a different time scale, but that's by the by.

My idea I called Crusader 5 - scaling down by a further factor of 5 from the Command Decision rule set. 1 tank would therefore have represented 25, and one rifle stand about 250 men Here are a couple of samples of my projected ORBAT:

15th Panzer Division (General Neumann-Silkow)
      Panzer Regiment  8:
          HQ: 1 cmd (command) PzIVF1, 1 recon (reconnaissance) PzII
          2 Companies each with: 1 cmd PzIIIH, 1 PzIIIH
      Infantry Regiment 15:
          HQ: 1 cmd stand, 1 kubelwagen, 1 staff radio truck, 1 recon m/c (motorcycle) MG stand,                           1x50mm AT (Anti-tank) gun with towing vehicle,
                1x7.5cm infantry gun with kettenkrad tow.
           1 Company, with 1 cmd stand, 3 rifle stands, 1 MMG (Vickers) stand, 1xSdKfz251/10
                3xSdKfz251/1 half tracks.
           1 Company, with 1 cmd stand, 3 rifle stands, 1 MMG stand, 4 trucks
           1 m/c Company, with  1 cmd stand, 1 kubelwagen, 3 m/c stands, 1 MMG m/c stand.
      Artillery Regiment 33:
           HQ: 1 cmd stand, 1 FO (Forward Observer), 1 radio truck, 1 kubelwagen:
           Battery: 1x15cm howitzer, gun crew, 1xSdKfz7 tractor.
           Battery: 1x10.5cm howitzer, gun crew (ds - double sized stand), 1xSdKfz11 tractor.
           2 AT Batteries, each with :  1x50mm PaK38 AT gun, 1 gun crew (self command), 1 truck or                    halftrack
           1 AA Battery with: 1x8.8cm  FlaK, 1 gun crew, 1 SdKfz7 tractor:
           1 AA Battery with: 1xSP 20mm Quad or 37mm AA.
      Aufklaerungs Abteilung (Recon Unit) 33:
           1 cmd SdKfz250/1, 1xSdKfz222 a/c (armoured car), 1xSdKfz231 a/c, 1 m/c stand,
           1 recon infantry stand, 1 SdKfz 250, 1 37mm or 50mm AT gun.
      Engineer Company 33:
           1 cmd engr (engineer stand), 2 engr stands, 3 light trucks.

2nd New Zealand Division (Major-general Freyberg)
       HQ: 1 cmd stand, 1 light truck, 1x2pr p/m (portee mount)(31Bty), 1 Bofors AA ('X'Bty):
       4 and 6 Battalions, with:
            HQ Coy: 1 cmd stand, 1 car, 1 recon bren carrier (carrier), 1 3-inch mortar stand, 1 carrier,
                1 engineer stand, 1 MMG, 1x 2pr portee mount (32/34 Bty), 1 Bofors AA (41 Bty)
            3 Rifle Coys, each with 1 cmd stand, 3 rifle stands.
     5 Battalion, with:  
             HQ Coy: 1 cmd stand, 1 car, 1 recon bren carrier (carrier), 1 3-inch martar stand, 1 carrier,
                1 engineer stand, 2 MMG, 1x 2pr portee mount (33 Bty), 1 Bofors AA (42 Bty)
            4 Rifle Coys, each with 1 cmd stand, 4 rifle stands.
      Field Regiment:
             HQ: 1 cmd stand, 1 FO stand, 2 cars, 1 staff radio truck, 1 survey troop stand.
             3 batteries (4th, 5th and 6th), each with 1x25pr gun/howitzer, 1 Quad tractor, 1 limber, 1 gun                   crew (ds) 
      7 AT Regiment: (31-34 Bty, attached as above).
      14 Light AA Regiment (attached, as above)
      Engineer Company: 1 cmd stand, 3 engr stands, 1 car, 3 light trucks
      Divisional Cavalry:  1xcmd MkVIB light tank, 1 recon MkVIB, 2 recon carriers.
This 'Division' had a transport pool rather than unit-organic transport.  Whether this transport pool was large enough to uplift the whole Division, I'm not sure.  I'd be inclined to limit the pool to something like 20-30 vehicles - enough to carry two of the three rifle battalions, say.

I was going to include an Italian formation in this rather self-indulgent article (probably Ariete Division), but my Italian ORBATS seem to have disappeared.

Unfortunately, at the time this was too ambitious a project for the resources I had available, or was likely to obtain in any reasonable time.  Too bad...


  1. Two nonrelated thoughts.

    I have a map of Syria,1941 from a board wargame included in one of the more obscure magazines back in the 80's. It was drawn somewhat like a full colour topographic map with a pattern of dots superimposed. Essentially a hex grid with only the centres marked, not the edges.

    I've always liked the visual effect combined with the utility of a hex grid. When I was using small units of single figures, the lack of boundaries could easily get problematic but with units on bases ought to be easier.

    Bathtubbing is always a but problematic as it can't be done using constant scale as then you are not really bathtubbing, merely using a different scale where realistically the units should act differently. It seems to me to need a bit of an artistic or theatrical touch where what is shown ends up representing things which are not shown or where what happens to our sample which we see on stage is assumed to also happen to the rest off stage or at least to affect them.

    1. Food for thought, there, Ross.

      I have thought of the use of points for locating units, but that was in the context of a field of equilateral triangles. But as I tend(ed) also to use single figures (even if only nominally), the thing could easy become a shambles.

      The 'Barbarossa 25' campaign really was simply a scaling down. The Germans went in with 1 Panzer Division and 3 Infantry Division plus a whole bunch of support weapons, aircraft and allies, and an independent outfit, the 'Klein Deutschland' Regiment (Battalion?)

      That approach was not really feasible with the project I had in mind - or at least, not as consistently. The New Zealand Division became recognisably a Brigade Group with all available arms. But there being just two Panzer Divisions, they had to be treated a bit differently. My notes indicate that I retained two formations, both being heavily miniaturised 'Divisions' of rather undersized Brigade strength. The cut down version of Seventh Armoured Division required some interesting contortions, as did the Divisions of the Italian XX Corps.

      I may yet collate my notes and present the whole thing in a future blog posting, but I don't think I will play out the campaign. I simply lack the equipment, and the space to store it should I think about buying it.

      On the other hand, another look at Megablitz and/or Not Quite Mechanised might lead to something...

      The sampling idea I used for some of my early Army Men/ Jono's World battles. There the battles were roughly company level, and scaled down at that. One man represents one man, but about 12 or 20 represents a platoon, and 50 or 60 a company. Two or three models might represent a squadron or a battery. Even then, the company would stand in for a battalion. One imagines a battalion level combat, but the decisive action was carried out by the company on the table.

  2. This looks very interesting,Ion. If you are short of stuff, there are always the Junior General paper cutouts. I stick mine onto thick card or cork, of the normal base size that I use for the model that is to replace it, then the work is already half done.

    the reading that I have done suggests that German servicability was better than the Brits, so armoured strengths at the point of contact were probably much more even than the orbats sugggest.

    Regards, Chris

    1. Sorry I hadn't seen this earlier, Chris. I regularly look for 'late' messages too - or at least I thought I did. The resources required have really to do with the Italian, of which I have none whatever. At the time I drew this stuff up, I had a friend with Italians (and a strong interest in the Italian Army in Africa), who could have commanded the Italians. Unfortunately, he moved to Auckland and has remained there ever since...