Saturday, May 23, 2020

Afterthoughts on the Mius Operation...

For a long time, now, I have been exercising my mind (racking my brains) upon the topic of how I am to organise my considerable WW2 collection of ... stuff. Actually, compared with at least two other collections in this town, it isn't all that huge. Not when a friend turned up one day to lay out on my lounge floor his whole regiment of T34 tanks - all 47 of them (not to mention his 20 other AFVs of varying sizes and weights); or that other club occasion when we could not pass up the presence of a temporary boxing ring left over from the previous night's entertainment and ropes and posts removed. A brief dash home fetched what armour we could, and there ensued a great battle between 100 Soviet tanks against 70 German. Almost the entire collection was Nick's; my contribution was 13 - my entire Red Army inventory of AFVs at the time - though I was put command of a further 16. Man that was fun!

But.. mine is not so very huge a collection, but still in want of proper organisation and housing.

My armies have grown since that day, my Red Army now able to field
- 14 x T34
- 5 x M4 Sherman (or 10 if I throw in my die cast tanks)
- 6 x IS2
- 6 x KV Is and IIs, OR  5 may be replaced by KV85s (have swappable turrets)
- 2 x T26
- 1 x T70
- 1 x SU85
- 3 x SU76

Now, highly taken with accessibility and appearance of the game designs of Bob Cordery (Portable Wargame, Hexblitz), Chris Kemp (Not Quite Mechanised) and Tim Gow (Megablitz and Little Cold Wars) - to which one might add a couple of articles by Martin Rapier - I have been wondering how to organise my stuff that I can put together a game without my usual safari among various boxes (and rooms) to hoik out what I want and need.

Overall picture of what my 6th Shock Army will look like.
Present are the Mechanised and Tank Corps; and one of
the four Rifle Divisions. Absent is the Cavalry and
three Rifle Divisions.

The 'formation in a box idea', though tempting, won't quite work with my stuff - not definitively, at any rate, a certain items will probably be 'shared' among game systems. Even the AFVs will be so tasked, with, for example, certain British and Red Army items being roped into a Little Cold Wars type of campaign between the 'Republic' of Tchagai, and the Nimruz S.S.R. - set in the 1950s and 1960s.

Yet I do want at least a settled ORBAT for all the kit, and the recent 'Unquiet Flows the Mius' game took me far along to road towards that goal. I have settled upon a 'Two Tiered' system: what I call a 'Div Level' list, and an 'Army Level' list. I'll start here with my late war Red Army Mechanised Corps.

Mechanised Corps (Div Level) 1944-45

Corps Commander      (1SP)
Corps HQ, Staffs and sigs:   (1 SP)
Supply Column:
- 2 x Supply Truck with trailer  (6LOG)
  - 1 x Supply Truck or Bowser   (3POL) (Provisional)
Tank Brigade: 
  -  3 x Tank Battalions, each with 1 T34 @ 4SP - (12SP Md or HvAT) 
  -  Motor Rifle Battalion:
           - 2 Rifle stands, 1 SMG stand, 1 82mm Mortar, 1 PTRS ATRifle, (5SP)
             1 medium truck or 2 light trucks:  (6T)
3 x Mechanised Brigades, each comprising:
           - 1 x Tank Regiment with 2 T34 @ 4SP - (8SP Md or HvAT)
           - 1 x BA64 (or other armoured car) 2SP Recon
           - 1 x AAMG quad 1SP 2AA
           - 1 x 45L66 AT gun (or 57mm for a Guards Corps) 2SP LtAT
           - 1 x PTRS stand 1SP CCAT
           - 1 x Field Artillery Regiment with 1x76L39 gun 3SP
           - 1 x Mortar Battalion with 1 x 82mm or 122mm mortar 3SP
           - 3 x Motor Rifle Battalions, each with
              - 3 rifle stands, 1 MMG stand, 1 Mortar stand, 1 PTRS stand
                 1 medium or 2 light trucks  6T   
Light Self Propelled Gun Regiment:
  - 1 x SU76 4SP LtHE, MdAT
Heavy Self Propelled Gun Regiment:
  - 1 x SU152 or SU122 or ISU152 4SP Md or HvHE
Tank Destroyer Regiment:
  - 1 x SU85 or SU100 4SP (Hv or EHv AT)
Mortar Regiment:
  - 1 FOO stand, motor vehicle 0SP, Recon/ Artillery Observer
  - 2 x 120mm Mortar @ 3 SP: 6SP (Represents 2 Mortar Battalions)
Anti-Aircraft Battery:
  - 1 x 37L70 AA gun, towing vehicle 2SP, 2AA
Anti-Tank Battalion:
  - 1 x 45L66 Anti-tank gun, towing vehicle, 3SP LtAT
Guards Mortar Battalion:
  - 1 x BM-13 MRL 2SP 4MdHE
Engineer Battalion:
  - 2 x Engineer SMG stands 2SP 2ENG
  - 1 x Medium engineer truck with trailer 2 LOG
Reconnaissance Battalion:
  - 1 x Armoured Car  1SP Recon
  - 1 x Scout Car Company:
    - 1 x M3A1 (White) scout car  (2T)
    - 1 x SMG SMG recon infantry stand 2SP Recon
Motorcycle Battalion:
  - 1 x Armoured Car 1SP Recon
  - 1 x Motorcycle SMG stand SP1  Recon
  - 2-3 selected, 1 only of each, from:
    - 1 x Scout Car Company, with:
       - 1 x M3A1 scout car (2T)
       - 1 x SMG recon stand (2SP Recon)
    - Halftrack Company, with:
       - 1 x halftrack (2T)
       - 1 x SMG recon stand (2 SP Recon)
    - 1 x Armoured car company  1 x BA32 or similar 2SP Recon
    - 1 x Tank Company: T34/76 tank 2SP MdAT
    - 1 x Artillery Battery: 1 x 76L39, tractor 1 SP LtHE
    - 1 x Anti-Tank Battery: 1 x 45L46 AT gun 1SP LtAT
    - 1 x Anti-Aircraft MG Battery: 1 x AAMG 1SP LtAA

1.  Strength points (SP) based on numbers only, not troop quality.  Although the systems in use have the virtue of simplicity, I've never felt fully comfortable with combining quantity and quality in the same SP system.  One tank represents 1 Battalion or half a regiment; each SP represents  5 tanks, roughly.

2.  Though the 2 tanks comprising the Mech Bde tank regiments count as separate 'units', they may never be separated by more than 1 grid area.

3.  I've labelled the weight of anti tank according to 5 categories;
CC (close combat, viz AT Rifles and bazooka-type weapons), Light, Medium, Heavy and Extra Heavy.  For the moment I haven't settled upon a definition.  Apart from the question of gun ranges, there remains that of effectiveness.
3A.  I have left open the question of AFV protection (armour) for the time being.
3B.  I'm thinking of modifying combat outcomes by adding to the SP factors for firepower, protection (self and external), type shooting, type of target, experience/ quality.

4.  The idea I have in mind do complicate the game, but I am hoping not unduly, and not such as to detract from the action.

5.  A lot of the 'extra bits and pieces will get subsumed in the Army Level ORBAT:

The Mechanised Corps (sorry about the picture quality)

Mechanised Corps (Army Level) 1944-45

Corps Commander 1SP
HQ: staff, sigs etc, truck. 1SP
Supply Columns: 4 POL and 4 LOG (Provisional)
Tank Brigade:
  - 1 x T34, 1 x SMG:  5SP MdAT
    (Represents 3 tank battalions of about 20 tanks each, plus motor rifle battalion)
Mechanised Brigade:
  -  Tank Regiment: 1 x T34: 3SP Md (T34/76) or Hv (T35/85) AT
  -  Brigade Infantry:
     - 3 x Rifle, 1xMMG, 1 x Mortar, 1 x PTRS 6SP
  (Represents 1 tank regiment of about 45 tanks plus 3 motor rifle battalions).
Mechanised Brigade:
  -  Tank Regiment: 1 x T34: 3SP Md or HvAT
  -  Brigade Infantry:
     - 3 x Rifle, 1xMMG, 1 x Mortar, 1 x PTRS 6SP
Mechanised Brigade:
  -  Tank Regiment: 1 x T34: 3SP Md or HvAT
  -  Brigade Infantry:
     - 3 x Rifle, 1xMMG, 1 x Mortar, 1 x PTRS 6SP
Mortar Regiment:
 - 1 x 122mm Mortar 2SP MdHE
Recon/motorcycle Battalions
 - 1 x Armoured Car 1SP Recon
 - 1 x SMG stand and M3A1 Scout Car 1SP Recon
 - 1 x motorcycle SMG stand  1SP Recon - provisional on availability of motorcycles.

Artillery, Self-propelled guns, Anti-tank, Tank destroyer, Anti-Aircraft and Engineers are treated as Army Troops.

1.  Here, each tank represents a battalion or regiment.  Each SP represents about 15 tanks, but the Tank Brigades get 1 extra SP for the additional SMG stands. The Tank Brigades act as a single integrated whole.
2.  The Mechanised tank and rifle elements are not so integrated, the tank and rifle elements being able to operate separately.  However, I am likely to place a restriction upon their separation.

Mech Corps with Strength Points allocated.

The whole inventory is to be organised as 6th Shock Army (fictitious) which comprises:
8th Tank Corps
5th Mechanised Corps
4th Cavalry Division (under strength)
88th, 259th, 301st, 316th Rifle Divisions
Army Troops:
     275th Howitzer Regiment
     332nd Howitzer Regiment
     1163rd Gun Artillery Regiment
     508th Tank Destroyer Regiment
     765th Tank Destroyer Regiment
     22nd Guards Mortar Regiment
     1069th Anti-Aircraft Regiment
     259th/828th Engineer Battalions.
Attached (this is a non-historical formation after all) will be:
    44th Heavy Tank Regiment, with KV85 (briefly) and then IS2.
     200th Heavy SP Artillery Regiment with ISU152

The following pix are of my proposed Rifle Division and Tank Corps.

Rifle Division:

3 rifle regiments each with 6 stands, 1 horse or tractor-drawn field artillery, 1 horse or tractor-drawn anti-tank gun, LOG elements (wagon, pack animals or lorries). Divisional command, signals etc.
Rifle Division with horse drawn heavy weapons and
logistics elements

Rifle division with SPs allocated

Tank Corps:

3 Tank Brigades each with 1 tank and and 1 integral element of tank desantski SMG infantry;
1 Mortar regiment, 1 recon/motorcycle composite unit, POL and LOG elements, command, sigs etc.
Tank Corps.  The SMG elements are integral to the Tank
Brigades, and tanks count as their transport.

Tank Brigade with SPs allocated.  This really is a terrible picture,
but I hope the idea is clear.

The varying base sizes of the infantry have no significance apart from a long, long history of not being able to make my mind up what size the stands should be. As much as I admired the Command Decision game system, I always had a problem with the base sizes as far too small, especially if you wanted properly to accommodate MMGs, mortars and anti-tank rifle teams.

To be continued.



  1. Replies
    1. You should see the rest of it! But there are gaps, especially in respect of Anti-air.

  2. CD base size.........designed so they could fit in the back of a model truck, and probably a 1/87 model at that! (Frank Chadwick notoriously used a mixture of 1/87 Roco Minitanks with 1/76 and 1/72.....culminating in using 1/72 parts to convert 1/87 in Combined Arms, the modern version of CD).

    1. I liked the idea of fitting the stands in vehicles, but quickly concluded that the inconveniences far outweighed the benefits. There are other ways of indicating vehicles are loaded or unloaded.

      I do have a few ROCO vehicles. The ROCO Tigers will never be used with other tanks, but I do use the M4A4 Shermans (in the Red Army, where their slight difference in size from the Airfix M4 Shermans is unimportant), and some late war German half-tracks which I will convert into Panzerwerfer or UHU night-vision vehicles. As I have nothing else like them, their difference in scale is not apparent.

  3. Looking good. I must admit I always liked the OoBs of the rules you mention and have some half attempted forces myself. I now concentrate on 15mm, but should be able to do the same thing, but without the nostalgia.

    And yes, that CD base size that fitted so well in trucks! Lovely.

    1. The truck thing turned out to be no real convenience, I found. I must admit, I made heavy use of the Command Decision TO&E lists to build up these OoBs, but they were heavily influenced by the bloggists I follow.

  4. That's a lot of stuff Archduke. Nice to see some horse-drawn limbers too!

    1. Over the years I accumulated quite a few horsed artillery teams, especially the Airfix Napoleonic RHA. Cutting them back from 6 to 4-horse teams, gave extra pairs.

      Of my Red Army's four Rifle Divisions, probably two will be motorised, and the other two 'leg'. That the army is not fully mechanised makes it more interesting, I feel.

  5. This is a good approach, I also structure my stuff around how I'd model formations at different levels. For 15mm the only elements organised into units are the infantry though (battalions at one stand per platoon) otherwise I just have boxes full of tanks, artillery, vehicles and planes respect.

    My 6mm stuff is organised into divisions at one stand per battalion, as is my 20mm stuff.

  6. I also agree that the CD stand sizes are ludicrous. They let you pack an entire battalion into a 200m x 200m square. Good luck trying that in real life.

    1. About 15-17 years ago the Panzer Marsch! rule set was popular in this part of the world - a 1;1 scale. Organising a 1500-point game sure played merry hell with my CD organisation! But interesting thing was that the maximum anti-tank range on the board was the same in Panzer Marsch as in CD - 72 inches. Yet a Red Army platoon of 28 figures might occupy 2 foot of front, with the 8-figure 'HQ section' held in reserve. Weird.

  7. Archduke Piccolo,

    My current thinking regarding ORBATs is more akin to your Army-level formation organisations. At present, an infantry/Rifle division has:
    * 3 x 4 individual infantry bases, with 4 bases = a regiment
    * 1 light artillery base + 2 Individual crew bases + a towing vehicle
    * 1 anti-tank gun base + 2 individual crew bases + a towing vehicle
    * 1 command base + a command vehicle

    I look forward to seeing how you develop your own ORBATs.

    All the best,


  8. Hi Bob -
    Your ORBAT looks pretty similar to what I have in mind for some of my German formations. My 6-figure Russian Regiment or Brigade is premised upon 3-battalion units or formations. The German panzergrenadier and some infantry regiments comprising 2 battalions only, those units will (probably) comprise 4 stands in my 'Army Level' ORBATs. I say 'probably', because I am conscious of the Soviet units being chronically under strength (and not overlarge anyhow), so a change of mind is possible.

    In the Div Level lists they have 6-stand battalions (straight out of NQM!). Maybe my next posting should detail my German lists!

    The 'Army add-ons' also add an extra interest to the overall of course.

  9. Nice post, Ion,

    Sharing kit is a much more sensible way of spending hard-earned money and allocating precious space, after all, you can only fit so much stuff on the table or floor!

    Having said that, I do like being able to pull a box out quickly (and then find that some of the stuff is missing, having straggled off into the wrong box elsewhere!) It makes games livelier :-)

    Regards, Chris.

    1. Hi Chris -
      It's a 'swings and roundabouts thing' I find - especially with WW2. Most of my armies comprise 'fixed' units and formations, which I think goes with the Old School type of set up. I find the idea of having a dedicated '66th Army' like Bob Cordery's, or my own projected 'Sixth Shock Army' an attractive idea.

      What happens? Come the 28th I have a game with Jacko, 'Command Decision', a Brigade-Division level action northeast of Bastogne. Second Panzer Division takes on a scratch American force hanging on for reinforcements from 506th Airborne Rgt. CD will knock holes in my organisation in the same way 'Panzer Marsch' used to scramble my CD set-ups.

      Looking forward to it...
      Archduke Piccolo