Battle Report! Battle of France, May-June 1940 (What a Tanker) – TotalCon 36, Chapter 2

This post covers the second game that I ran at TotalCon 36 in Marlboro, Massachusetts on the morning of Friday, February 25th. The scenario has the Germans are coming out of a wooded area and trying to break out through the French lines to the other side of the tabletop, and ostensibly on to the sea. The French of course must attempt to stop them.

My game flyer.

I used the Too Fat Lardies What a Tanker Rule set with some modifications. The French set up secretly at any of 18 possible hidden locations (and letting me, the GM, know so that I can adjudicate issues without compromising the French deployment locations). The French tanks remain so hidden until they are spotted or if they choose to shoot their main guns or move.

The Germans deploy onto the tabletop on one of two roads that cross bridges over a river (treated as a minor or major obstacle depending upon where a crossing is attempted). The bridges may or may not be already successfully wired for demolition. As the GM, I resolve that secretly to add more “fog of war ” as a) the Germans may not detect if the bridges were wired properly or at all and correspondingly b) the French sapeurs (combat engineers) may or may not have wired the bridges correctly for successful demolition. The French also get one small minefield (3″ x 5″) that is rarely effective due to the What a Tanker rules. Also, the French use of mines was nearly nonexistent in 1940, mainly because of logistics. However, that small minefield is available there and that is also deployed secretly at the start of the game by the French. The picture below is my set up guide:

The Germans enter from the near side. The French deploy secretly on the circles (possible secret locations). The German’s exit crossing points are the two roads off-board on the far side.

One change that I made from my previous iterations of this scenario was to eliminate the use of poker chips for scoring and resource acquisition. I made “Tanker Bucks” instead. I had found that the poker chips’ values were not always easily understood (as not everyone hits the casino). I also had an excessive number of differently-colored file folders left over from various jobs that I had had before my retirement. I cut up the folders into same-sized an same-colored 3″ x 5″card stock using my paper cutter. I designed the Tanker Bucks in PowerPoint, using images of my 1940 vehicle models – and printed them off on the card stock on two sides with the same images:

Tanker Bucks.

These Tanker Bucks serve three purposes. First, score is kept with the “Tanker Bucks” – as the side with the most Tanker Bucks at the end of the game wins. Second, Tanker Bucks are earned by each side for achieving objectives. Third, they are used to buy resources such as new or respawning tanks, as well as Bonus Attack Cards (BAC’s).

Tanker Bucks are earned by a side by:

  • Knocking out an enemy tank or armored car earns Tanker Bucks (getting a 20% bonus over the initial cost of the AFV).
  • Reconnoitering one of the secret French deployment locations(by the Germans) or voluntarily uncovering one (by the French) both earn Tanker Bucks.
  • Successfully crossing the board to the other side earns the Germans a 20% bonus.
  • Gaining objective bonuses (French only). The French earn potential bonuses at the game’s end in two ways. First. and most importantly, by preventing the Germans from crossing the tabletop. That earns them $25 if none cross, $10 if only 1 crosses, and $0 if more than 2 vehicles cross. Second, they get points for any initial deployment points that have not been uncovered or reconnoitered.

Tanker Bucks are assigned to the team captain, but team collaboration in their use is expected. Each side starts with 100 Tanker Bucks per side or 30 per player, whatever is bigger. Both sides must start with recon vehicles (two SdKfz 231 6 rad for the Germans and three Panhard 178’s for the French. They each may also start with one additional light tank, and they must pay for them all out of their initial Tanker Bucks.

Here is the list of available vehicles for the scenario. Each side starts with all available scout cars, plus one light tank from the next category block listed here may be bought. Subject to availability, subsequent vehicles can only be bought from subsequent category blocks, until at least one vehicle has been previously deployed from each immediately preceding block. Once one vehicle has been deployed from each block, anything may be purchased. As an example, the French start the game with the three Panhard-178’s, and elect to buy an FCM 36 (the next category) in the “Light Infantry Tank” block. . Their next purchase or upgrade could be a Char B1 bis or a Char D2, but not a Hotchkiss H35 or H39.

Tanker Bucks are used to:

  • Buy new AFV’s or upgrade respawning vehicles. Respawning vehicles are replacements for ones that have been either knocked out or that have made it across the tabletop. If the replacement vehicle is of lesser value, there is a refund of the value difference. If the replacement vehicle is of greater value, there is an upcharge of the value difference.
  • Buy Bonus Attack Cards (BAC’s).
    • BAC’s bring the combat effects of other arms or additional resources to a vehicle – at a cost of $5 per card.
    • Buying them is a risk/reward proposition there are no guarantees what card will be bought. The Germans get a chance at a card giving them air support for example, while the French have no chance at that. Similarly, each card bought gives the French relatively more chances for infantry, anti-tank gun, or artillery support.
    • Each recon vehicle can buy and have two BAC’s, and each tank with a radio can have one. These radios replicate the German historical communications advantage as many of the French vehicles have no radios and cannot buy BAC’s. The BAC’s cost $5 each, and are different for each side (see below).

Bonus Attack Cards are additional combat and logistical resource opportunities that can be bought as described below.

The list of BAC’s by side. These cards allow for the addition of resources – in most cases offensive support. Offensive BAC’s can be used as long as a tank has a current ACQUIRE and an AIM on a viable target. The others are self explanatory. As for the bridge cards, they allow the French to keep the Germans guessing as to if they tried to demolish a bridge – and to keep the French guessing if they failed because the bridge was defectively wired with explosives.

On to the Game! I am only mostly sure as to the end score for the turns here – so this is my best recollection of the action. I wish I had more photos, and my thanks to Mal for some of these.

Both sides hopeful at the beginning of the game – here you see the French players on the left and the German players on the right.

Turn 1

The French team (Mal, John, and Cameron) decided to not buy any tanks in addition to the three mandatory Panhard-178’s. They bought two BAC’s for each scout car. The German team (Steven and Leif -and later joined by Gregg) bought the two mandatory SdKfz 231 (6-rad)’s, plus a Panzer 35(t). They also got 5 BAC’s to distribute among them. All deployed onto the tabletop and a few BAC’s came into play as the hidden Panhards called in a few French infantry attacks that failed to hurt the Germans. Meanwhile, the Germans did some reconnaissance, searching for the French. The end of the turn found the Germans ahead, 54-47.

Turn 2

The Germans conserved their Tanker Bucks and spent the turn looking for an enemy to shoot. The French decided to get an R40 tank (Mal) and a BAC, as well as replenish their BAC’s used in the previous turn. No additional Tanker Bucks were gained for the Germans who tried in vain to find a French target – and barely failing to find Cameron’s Panhard in the woods. Notably, the Germans avoided either bridge, choosing instead to ford the river. Cameron, seeing how close one of the German SdKfz 231 (6-rad)’s was to his Panhard, activated it and slightly damaged it before getting further into woods where it was safer. With the French purchases, the end of the turn found the Germans further ahead, 54-32.

The opposing scout cars (Cameron and Leif) play a game of cat and mouse.

Turn 3

The Germans decided that given their lead, they could safely use their Tanker Bucks to jump to the next category and get a Panzer IVD for Leif, bringing them to 4 vehicles on the table. They did not buy any more BAC. The French were feeling poor, so they bought no vehicles or BAC. The French did uncover all of their vehicles during the turn to get a few more bucks and to move and shoot as well as to use BAC. They also attempted to blow the bridge under the Panzer IVD, but the wires fizzled. The Panhards did call in artillery fire that did cause some damage to the Panzer IVD. Additionally, from a hidden location, John’s Panhard opened fire on Leif’s SdKfz 231 (6-rad) and set it ablaze. On the German left, the French R40 took out Steven’s Panzer 35(t) with a side shot. The Germans were able to do more reconnaissance – enough to cover the cost of new – and now-damaged Panzer IVD. The end of the turn found the French catching up but the Germans still ahead, 58-44.

Mal’s R40 kills Steven’s Panzer 35(t) after it fords the river.

Turn 4

Both sides dug into their Tanker Bucks wallets this time. Cameron bought a Char B1 bis (pricey at $12) and a BAC and deployed this tank secretly in a covered position. The Germans respawned Steven’s lost Panzer 35(t) with a StuG IIIA plus a BAC. Leif bought a new Panzer IIC. Mal’s R40 called in smoke to cover his R40 from the approaching StuG IIIA. The Germans reconned more vacant French positions. The purchases on both sides found the Germans slightly increasing their lead to 51-27.

Mal’s R40 lying in ambush for Steven’s StuG IIIA after calling in smoke to cover him.
Mal then backed off a bit into a true ambush position.

Turn 5

The French went on an austerity budget, only buying a replacement BAC. The Germans got a new player, Gregg, to take over the Panzer IIC, and they also went a bit on a spending spree to buy a studly Panzer IIIE for him and 2 BAC. The French made progress! The previously-damaged Panzer IVD got taken out by the Char B1 bis, and Steven’s remaining SdKfz 231 (6-rad) got taken out by artillery. The Germans called in Stukas to hit the Char B1 bis, but missed. The Panzer IIC ran nearly the length of the table but did not get off the table. The French successes saw the score reversed to 41-28 in favor of the French.

Turn 6

Hoping to maintain their lead, the French spent nothing. The Germans respawned Steven’s scout car with a Panzer 38(t), and Leif’s Panzer IVD with a Panzerjager I. They also bought a Panzer IVB for Gregg. The Panzer IIC (Gregg) activated and crossed the rest of the tabletop, cutting into the French’s endgame bonus opportunity. Steven’s Panzer 38(t) with a magical roll of the dice hightailed it across the other bridge and neared the other side. At the same time another French demolition attempt fizzled, and the hidden minefield caused no damage to the Germans. Meanwhile, Steven’s StuG IIIA hunted down Mal’s R40 (which was trying desperately to stop Steven’s Panzer 38(t)). The R40 was destroyed by the StuG by devastating shots to the French vehicle’s rear armor. The French successes of the previous turn were vaporized. The Germans’ successes saw the score reversed to 52-41 in their favor.

A Panzer IVB crosses the bridge and approaches the Char B1 bis position. A German Panzer IVD and a SdKfz 231 (6 rad) burn in the background.

Turn 7

Neither side bought anything on this Turn. The Panzer 38(t) easily crossed the tabletop before the French could stop it, as did the Panzer IIIE. This effectively nullified the French endgame bonus. No further losses happened on the German side, but the French lost a few of their remaining vehicles (not completely sure which ones) as they desperately tried to kill anything German. The French got bonus points for uncovered deployment positions, but it was not enough and after applying bonuses the Germans had won 100-70.

End of the game photo.

I want to thank the players – who all said they had a good time. I will keep this scenario in my quiver – it is a lot of fun, though I will do a few minor tweaks on it. I also want to thank Leif for his help, as well as Bryan Clauss!

I also offered a prize for the game – a 1000-piece tank jigsaw puzzle, won by Leif in a roll-off.

Leif won this beauty!

This was my second game of the con – my first can be found here for those interested.

Battle of France 1940 at Mass Pikemen

The Mass Pikemen played an action-packed game at our February gaming session.  The game was a What a Tanker© game for my Battle of France, May-June 1940 scenario.  This also served as a final play test of the scenario before using it at upcoming gaming conventions (TotalCon 34, HAVOC, and HUZZAH!).

At the start of the game, each side gets 200 points to buy tanks and armored cars as well as Bonus Attack cards if the vehicle has a radio (all the Germans have radios, many French vehicles do not).  The French are defending and have the ability to deploy at secret positions known only to their side and the GM.  The French forces are divided – with half of the battlefield being under the responsibility of cavalry tanks, and half under infantry tanks.

The Germans are exiting wooded areas on two congested roads heading to two bridges over a river.  The German mission is to cross the board and exit the other side (and head to the English Channel) – and gain points for doing so.  There are also several possible fords over the river that are minor obstacles.

The French player may also spend points to wire either one or both bridges (or none) for demolition.  This status is also known only to the French side and the GM.  The French side may attempt to blow a bridge at any time, but failing to blow the bridge or allowing any Germans to cross makes subsequent demolition attempts more difficult.  If a bridge is blown while a vehicle is on it, that vehicle is destroyed.  Any side that destroys a vehicle gets points for that action as well.  As GM, I only announce who is ahead at the beginning of the turn, and I do not share the score so as to maintain a fog of war for the players and try to maintain a crew-focused battle.

1 Battle of France set up
Overview of the battlefield from the French side.  The French deploy infantry tanks left of the second road on the left, and cavalry tanks on the right of that road. 

2 Battle of France set up town
Detail of the town where most of the hidden positions are for the infantry tanks.  Both infantry and cavalry had access to Panhard 178’s and H35’s.

3 Battle of France French cav side
The right (French cavalry) side showing the river and the bridges.  The rocks in the river were designated as fords.

4 Battle of France Mike rolls dice
The German players deploy.

5 Battle of France Panzer 35(t) knocked out
From a hidden position, a Panhard 178 calls for anti-tank support.  Using a 47 mm anti-tank support card from the Bonus Attack cards, a Panzer 35(t) is torched before getting to a bridge, while a wary Panzer IVB watches.

6 Battle of France Panzer IVB on blown bridge knocked out
A German Sd.Kfz. (6-rad) recon car crosses the bridge without incident.  Feeling safe, the Panzer IVB tries to cross.  The French had waited for a bigger target, and successfully blew the bridge with the Panzer IVB on it – destroying the Panzer IVB.  In the rear, another Panzer 35(t) observes multiple burning comrades.

7 Battle of France Sd.Kfz. 231 knocked out by SOMUA
The Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) recons around a building and finds a SOMUA S35.  The SOMUA easily kills the German scout car, but not before taking some damage from Bonus Attack card artillery.

8 Battle of France river forded by Pzjager I and 38(t)
The battle heats up.  The surviving Panzer 35(t) fords the river as does a Panzerjager I with another Panzer IVB behind them.  The French activate the hidden Panhard, and the SOMUA S35 takes some more minor damage.

9 Battle of France SOMUA finally taken out by 88
The SOMUA S35 is hit by 88 fire and finally taken down by accumulated damage.  The black smoke indicates that the tank is knocked out, but the crew survived.  I use orange smoke to indicate that both crew and tank are destroyed.  

10 Battle of France Panhard dispatches 38(t)
Having taken damage from the SOMUA, the last Panzer 35(t) is knocked out by a daring attack by the charging Panhard 178.

At this point the game ended, and the French had a solid victory with the score being 158-112.  The French also got bonus points for no German being able to traverse the board.  The Germans made a couple of unsuccessful Luftwaffe attacks which hindered them as well as the early casualties.The scenario is pretty solid and the gamers made key decisions that affected the game.  I did run this scenario and three other games at TotalCon 34.  I will share the results of what happened at TotalCon 34 on a future post and things went differently!.

Thanks for looking!

German Armor for the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of France: Panzer 35(t), Panzer 38(t), Panzer IVB, and Panzer IVD Tanks; and Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) Armored Cars

This post marks the last of my vehicle additions for the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of France in May-June 1940.  These German vehicles were completed in late January, but with my personal situation, naturally my posting and hobby activities were put on hold.  Time has passed now and I want to return to a certain degree of normalcy – of course that’s not the easiest thing to do.  But I’ll try – and now let’s catch up and get back to good old hobby stuff.

As readers of this blog know, I had needed to augment the depth and breadth of my 15 mm/1:100 scale armor (both sides) for my What a Tanker© Battle of France 1940 scenario.  I also wanted to develop some Bonus Attack cards for it as well (similar to what I did with my Normandy Breakout! scenario).  I had promised to get these projects covered on the blog and share some about games that I have run for them (at club days and the TotalCon convention).  Here, I will focus here uniquely on these German vehicles and the Bonus Attack Cards and post about the gaming events separately.

Below is my poster for the game that I use at convention-style events.

02222020 TOTALCON Battle of France 1940

Previously, I had posted and described several projects in support of building this scenario – here they are for reference:

Basically, prior to this project I had only 11 German vehicles for the scenario, and the mix was a bit unbalanced to say the least.  I had 4 Panzer IIC’s, 1 Panzer IIIE, 1 Panzerjäger I, 2 Panzer IVD’s, and 3 Sturmgeschutz A’s.  Now that I have 23 French vehicles, I needed to increase the size of the available German vehicles for the scenario.

Back in May-June 1940, Panzer I’s and Panzer II’s did form a large proportion of the German armored forces in May-June 1940.  As Panzer I’s have only machine guns, which are somewhat useless in a tank-on-tank game).  As I have 4 Panzer IIC’s in the inventory, I decided to augment the light tanks with Panzer 35(t)’s and Panzer 38(t)’s.  These were originally built for the Czechoslovakian Army, and the Wehrmacht happily incorporated these vehicles into their units – and continued building the both after the annexation.  I got two metal Panzer 35(t) models (#GFV28) from QRF in the UK, and two metal and resin Panzer 38(t) models (#GE022) from Battlefront.  Perhaps later on I might add a Panzer I, we’ll see.

For the medium tanks, I “assigned” (for game purposes) my two currently-painted Wargame Models in Ohio Panzer IVD’s into ausf A versions – and added B and D variants of the venerable Panzer IV with Zvezda models (SKU #ZD35 or #6151 for each box) from The Plastic Soldier Company.  PSC has a reasonable deal for a platoon of 5 so I grabbed those.  I already have one Panzer IIIE model for France 1940, and decided that was enough of those (for now anyways).

Lastly, similar to what I did with the French Panhard 178’s , I added 2 Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) armored cars (#GE320) from Battlefront.  I know that the 8-wheeled versions were available and used in May 1940.  However, at the time the 6-wheel 231’s were being phased out in favor of the 8-wheeled versions – and I thought having the older ones would give a better feel to the scenario.  By building these models and converting the ones mentioned, I now have 23 vehicles available for both sides to choose.  I will go through a bit of a WIP with each type – as I did experiment a bit with contrast paints on them – to a bit of frustration which I will share.  I’ll also show the Bonus Attack Cards, some eye-candy shots, references, and list of paints for those interested.

General Assembly

The QRF Panzer 35(t) models were all metal, the Battlefront Panzer 38(t) and Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) models were metal and resin, and the Zvezda Panzer IV’s were plastic.  I cleaned and prepped them all prior to assembly and painting, to include magnetizing the turrets.  Some green stuff reinforcement and repair was needed.  My overall goal was to have vehicles that were more grey and less dark than my previous German vehicles for 1940.  The dark colors were also historically correct – I just wanted a bit more variety in the collection that was also historically correct.

1 German armor for 1940 part two
The 11 models for this project in their packaging.

3 Czech armor assembled
The Panzer 38(t) models and the Panzer 35(t) models assembled.

7 All assembled for painting
All of the 11 models are here assembled.

8 All mounted for painting
I always prime and base coat the tank bottoms first – they are affixed to small plastic plates with poster tack.

The painting process was a bit different for me this time.  I basically did this sequence with all 11 vehicles.  I wanted to test out the contrast paints, so I decided to try the “Space Wolves Grey” contrast paint over Vallejo “German Panzer Grey” primer – and the chassis were nearly purple.

2 Panzer 35(t) with Space Wolves Grey contrast paint
My Panzer 35(t)  model looking a bit too purple for my tastes.

I then went back and dry brushed them with Vallejo “White” primer, then used “Apothecary White” contrast paint and dry brushed with a few more grays and added some shading (see the list at the end of this post).

3 Panzer 35(t) turrets after Apothecary White contrast paint
After redoing with a dry brush of white, added “Apothecary White” as seen with these turrets.ion

4 Panzer 35(t) completed turrets
I shaded these, and more dry brushing, followed by decals.  Here are some turrets looking better!

2 Panzer IVD needs weathering
Here is a Panzer IV chassis before weathering.

For weathering, I used Vallejo pigments – a combination/blend of two pigments on these with a makeup brush for dusting effect.

5 Panzer 35(t) in progress weathering
Weathering this Panzer 35(t)

Then I varnished the tanks with Vallejo Mecha Color “Matt Varnish”.  Now, let’s look at each type in brief.

Panzer 35(t)

These were originally built by Skoda.  The (t) stands for the German word for Czech, which is tschechisch.  The Germans had 244 of these after the annexation, and used them in both the invasion of Poland and of France.   Around 132 were involved in the Battle of France, and they served in the Wehrmacht through the invasion of the USSR until the summer of 1941.  By that time, there were no more spare parts being made, was performing badly in the cold, and it was badly obsolete.  Some were then converted to other uses, and some sold to Romania.

The Panzer 35(t) had a reasonably good (for 1940) 37 mm gun capable of penetrating 30 mm of armor.  It was a light tank, and had maximum frontal armor of 25 mm, with 15-16 mm on the side, 15-19 mm on the rear, and 8 mm on the top.  This allowed better speed and greater range than most French contemporaries, with a top speed of 21 mph and a range of 120 miles from its 120 hp 4-cylinder engine.  The chassis armor was riveted together.  It did have a radio.

Panzer 38(t)

The Panzer 38(t) was another Czech “acquisition” as it were.  It was designed and built by CKD.  Over the course of the war, the Germans had over 1,400 – of which only about a hundred were used in France.

The Panzer 38(t) had a better 37 mm gun than the Panzer 35(t).  That gun was capable of penetrating 36-59 mm of armor.  It also was a light tank, with a (in 1940) maximum frontal armor of 30 mm.  It also had much better speed and greater range than most French (and some German) contemporaries, with a top speed of 26 mph and a range of 160 miles from its 123.3 hp 6-cylinder engine.  The chassis armor was riveted together, and the tank had a radio.  The tank itself was used by the Germans until 1942, and the chassis was reused for many other vehicles, notably the Grille and the Hetzer, as well as being exported to Sweden (who also built them under license), Slovakia, Romania, and even Peru.  Peru also had acquired some from Czechoslovakia and used them in combat in South America versus Ecuador in 1941 in the Ecuadorian-Peruvian War as well as 50 years later against the Shining Path insurgents.

1 Panzer 38(t) turrets with decals

Panzer 38(t) turrets late in project

2 Panzer 38(t) chassis with decals
Panzer 38(t) chassis – I was happy with this shade of grey.

Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad)

Most modelers and WWII gamers know the Sd.Kfz. 231 8-wheeled version but the 6-wheeled (“6-rad”) version preceded it.  Over 900 were built from 1932-1937.  The Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad)  and the 8-wheeled versions were both known as Schwerer Panzerspähwagen (heavy armored reconnaissance vehicle).  The acronym Sd.Kfz. stood for Sonderkraftfahrzeug (special purpose vehicle)The Sd.Kfz. 231 had the same automatic 20 mm gun as the Panzer II, so it had some anti-tank capability (able to penetrate 40 mm at 100 meters and 23 mm at 500 meters).  Like the Panhard 178, it could be driven either forwards or backwards with redundant driver positions.  Armor was thin (8-15 mm) but it could get up to 53 mph.  They served in the Wehrmacht up until the early stages of the invasion of the USSR.

The models did have some QC issues – notably big pieces of resin were missing on fenders and on the rear spare tire.  I fixed these with green stuff.  These will serve the Germans as (of course) reconnaissance vehicles for my 1940 scenario.

Panzer IVB and Panzer IVD

The Panzer IV is iconic and was ubiquitous in WWII in Europe and North Africa.  My goal for the game scenario was to have A, B, and D models, all of which participated in the Battle of France.  The Germans made only 35 A’s, which had less armor (only 14.5 mm on the front!) than the B’s and D’s (30 mm on the front) and a less powerful engine (247 hp) making it only capable of 19 mph.  The B’s and D’s had a 296 hp engine, and more armor, and were faster (26 mph).  The Germans made 42 B models and 248 D models.  There was a C model, but that did not have a hull-mounted machine gun like the B’s and D’s, so I opted not to build these as C’s (140 C’s were made).  All had the short 75 mm gun.

I designated 3 of the Zvezda models as B’s and 2 as D’s.  In the game, they have the same stats – and are almost identical anyways.  I did use white numbers for the B’s and red numbers for the D’s.

1 Panzer IVD mounted for painting
Panzer IVD assembled and mounted for priming.

 

1 Panzer IVB after wash and decals
Panzer IV B chassis later on before weathering added.

3 Panzer IVD Done!
Panzer IVD completed.

Bonus Attack Cards

In my scenario, each side starts at 200 points and must use points to buy vehicles and other combat items.  I added Bonus Attack cards, which were optional 5-point purchases apiece for each side.  I allow reconnaissance vehicles to buy and have up to two at a time, and others one.  The caveat is that your vehicle must have a radio!  So the French FT-17, FCM 36, R35, and H35 tanks cannot get these cards.  Additionally, there are two bridges that the French player can choose to wire for demolition – at a cost of 20 points each.  The river does have fords, but obviously that slows the Germans down.  The French player can wire two, one, or no bridges for demolition.  Only the French players and the GM know what has been done, and I allow them to try to blow the bridges at any time.  The attempts may fail, or they may drop a German tank into the river.  Each crossing German vehicle and each failed attempt makes the demolition more difficult.  I also added “dummy explosion cards” (with an exploding dummy on it) so that the French player can keep the Germans unsure whether the bridges were wired for demolition or not.  The Germans get the Luftwaffe here – and the French Air Force does not show up.

You can see the cards below – the players buy these and get random results:

  • 104 “Bonus Attack Cards” built for What a Tanker© games
    • 50 German cards
      • 16 Infantry Assault cards
      • 6 37 mm anti-tank gun cards
      • 3 88 mm anti-tank gun cards
      • 7 Artillery HE Support cards
      • 10 Air Support cards
      • 3 Artillery Smoke Support Cards
      • 2 Radio problem cards
      • 2 Quick Repair cards
      • 1 Heinz Guderian Arrives! card
    • 54 French cards
      • 20 Infantry Assault cards
      • 7 25 mm anti-tank gun cards
      • 4 47 mm anti-tank gun cards
      • 10 Artillery HE Support cards
      • 4 Artillery Smoke Support Cards
      • 2 Radio problem cards
      • 2 Quick Repair cards
      • 1 Charles de Gaulle Arrives! card

French Deck, 1940
French Deck

German Deck, 1940
German Deck

And finally, a couple of group shots in front of an old Maginot Line fort:

1 German armor group shot frontal2 German armor group shot frontal top

I am repeating my reference section below for those interested.

References

Throughout this project I have used many of the books that I have as references – here are some I have used and strongly recommend.  I do not get paid by anyone to recommend these, but I am sharing the links if you want to get them.  I did study with BG Robert Doughty at West Point over 35 years ago – and he did give me my copy of the B.T. White book in 1984 – that I still have and used many times.  There are certainly other books, but these I recommend.  I will be using these in my next phase with my German tank additions.

For history of the conflict I recommend buying:

Doughty, Robert A. (1985). The Seeds of Disaster: the development of French Army Doctrine 1919-1939. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole books. (available at Amazon here)

Doughty, Robert A. (1990). The Breaking Point: Sedan and the Fall of France, 1940. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole books.  (available at Amazon here)

Horne, Alistair. (1969, 1990). To Lose a Battle: France 1940. London: Penguin books. (available at Amazon here)

For modelers and gamers interested in the vehicles’ look and history:

Forty, G. and Livesey, J. (2017). The World Encyclopedia of Tanks & Armoured Fighting Vehicles.  London: Lorenz Books. (available at Amazon here)

Jackson, R. (2009). Tanks and  Armored Fighting Vehicles Visual Encyclopedia in color.  London: Amber Books. (available at Amazon here)

Restayn, Jean. (2007). World War II Tank Encyclopedia in color 1939-1945.  Paris: HISTOIRE & COLLECTIONS. (available at Amazon here)

Smithsonian Enterprises. (2017). Tank: the Definitive Visual History of Armored Vehicles.  New York, NY: Penguin Random House. (available at Amazon here)

White, B.T. (1972). Tanks and other A.F.V.s of the Blitzkrieg Era 1939 to 1941.  Dorset: Blandford Press. (available at Amazon here)

Zaloga, S. (2014). French Tanks of World War II (1): Infantry and Battle Tanks. New York, NY: Osprey.  (available at Amazon here)

Zaloga, S. (2014). French Tanks of World War II (2): Cavalry Tanks and AFVs. New York, NY: Osprey.  (available at Amazon here)

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THESE VEHICLES:

  1. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  2. 1/8″ neodymium magnets
  3. Green stuff (kneadatite)
  4. Gorilla Glue
  5. Poster tack and plastic plates
  6. Vallejo “Surface Primer – German Panzer Grey”
  7. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  8. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  9. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Space Wolves Grey”
  10. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White Primer”
  11. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Apothecary White”
  12. Vallejo “German Grey”
  13. Vallejo “Neutral Grey”
  14. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  15. Battlefront “Oxide Red”
  16. Citadel “Typhus Corrosion”
  17. Citadel “Ryza Rust”
  18. Army Painter “Dark Tone” (shade)
  19. Vallejo Model Weathering “Dark Rust Wash”
  20. Vallejo Model Air “Gloss Varnish”
  21. Microscale Micro-Set
  22. Microscale Micro-Sol
  23. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  24. Vallejo “Light Sienna” (pigment)
  25. Vallejo “Light Slate Grey” (pigment)
  26. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Thanks for looking – please let me know your thoughts and feedback!

 

French FCM 36 tanks

During the Battle of France (May-June 1940), there was an amazing variety of vehicles on both the German and the French sides.  At this same time last year, I began putting together a collection of period 15mm/1:100 scale vehicles for this period.  These were discussed here.  I have previously posted about a couple of games (December 2018 and January 2019) that I ran using the What a Tanker™ rules from the UK’s Too Fat Lardies.  I have been hoping to return to this period and add more vehicles to both armies.  I am starting this augmentation by adding 3 FCM 36 light tanks to my fleet.

The FCM stands for Société Nouvelle des Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, a shipbuilder in Toulon who manufactured this 1936 design – and delivered about 100 to the French Army up through 1938.  Cost and industrial manufacturing concerns limited further purchases.  They were a little more than 12 tons, with a crew of two.  The armor was fairly good – welded, and very sloped for tanks of the day.  It also had a diesel engine and reasonable range unlike many other contemporary French tanks.  However, like many other French tanks, it was armed with the weak Puteaux SA 18 37mm gun which definitely had challenges fighting German armor.  Notably, two battalions of FCM 36’s tried to repel the bridgehead that the Heinz Guderian had established across the Meuse, but they were too little and too late.  After the surrender of France, some of the FCM 36 chassis were converted to Marder I’s or self-propelled artillery.  Some of these conversions were involved in the Normandy Campaign of 1944.  Today, only one FCM 36 survives at Saumur.

I thought these would be a good addition to my French early-war tank collection.  In What a Tanker™, these are the cheapest tanks to buy point-wise.  The only source I found for these models was Old Glory.  They are metal, and quite small of course.

1 FCM 36 in package
The 3 FCM 36’s in the baggie.

2 FCM 36 before filing
I did need to do a bit of filing and cleanup of extraneous molding material and molding lines as you see here.  Yes, these are small!

3 FCM 36 before filing showing turrets pins
The turrets had a small molded pin for mounting on the molded hole on the chassis.  I needed to slightly elevate the turret or the underlying paint on the chassis would be worn off, even with a good varnishing.  I decided to drill out the pins and the holes with a 1/8″ drill bit.  I then used green stuff to fill in underneath the hollow chassis between the tracks and provide a “floor” for the magnets.  The magnets were put in place with Gorilla Glue in the chassis and the turrets.

4 FCM 36 after priming and base coat
You can see here my hodge-podge mounting scheme of the FCM 36’s for painting.  I used a 1/4″ square dowel and poster tack to mount the chassis for painting.  I primed these, and the used a German green-brown as a base coat.  This shot here is after the first camouflage color (blue green) was applied with my Iwata Micron airbrush.  Also, I only put the turrets on a tank when I am painting camouflage patterns.

5 FCM 36 after priming and base coat and more camo
Next, I applied the third color (brown) to the camouflage pattern.

6 Turrets after decal but before varnish
When I paint turrets, I find this helpful (as the magnets in the turrets hold the turrets to the magnets on the washers).  Also, I can easily apply the decals this way, and airbrush on the final two coats of matte varnish.

Lastly, I thought I’d share some group and individual shots and a bit about their debut on the tabletop the day after they were completed.

 

12 FCM top view
Top view showing the sloped octagonal turrets.

 

7 FCM 36 left sides
Left side of the FCM 36’s.

8 FCM 36 frontal armor view
Frontal view.

 

I used a blue diamond, a red heart, and a red club as decals which would also help identify these as different individual tanks on the tabletop.  From my research, FCM’s did not seem to have as many markings historically as other French tanks.

As stated above, these made their game debut this weekend at the December session of the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.

13 First FCM 36 roll
My buddy Mike Morgan was on the French side, and chose the blue diamond FCM 36 as his tank.  He then rolled a perfect roll of 6 sixes!  The odds on that were 0.01286%!

14 FCM 36 Blue Diamond moves onto the board
Mike’s FCM 36 moves on the road.

15 FCM 36 Blue Diamond duels with a StuGA
His FCM 36 was stalked by a StuG A (player Chris), which kept missing it.

16 FCM 36 Blue Diamond duels with a StuGA, misses
Mike successfully maneuvered his tank to the German’s side, and shot point blank.  The dice deserted him as the StuG A took only minor damage.

17 FCM 36 Blue Diamond duels with two StuGA, who miss it
Smelling an easy kill, the Germans (Chris’s teammate Christine) brought up a second StuG A in the hunt.  It also missed the FCM 36.  Note – as there were only 15 StuG A’s in the German invasion force across France, this would have been highly unlikely!

18 Now the Panzer IIIE joins the fight
Then the Germans brought up even more to the hunt with a Panzer IIIE…

19 Panzer IIIE brews up FCM 36
And Mike’s plucky FCM 36’s luck finally wore out with the Panzer IIIE (Christine) knocking it out.

On the other side of the table, Mike’s teammate Tom managed to kill Christine’s Panzer 38(t) with a SOMUA S-35.  Mike got another FCM 36, and that was killed by Christine’s teammate Chris’s StuG A (in the shot below on the left).  Mike replaced his lost tank with an R35.  Tom drove his SOMUA around the building but frustratingly could not take a point-blank shot at the Panzer IIIE (as his dice roll failed him).  Mike had to leave, and my wife Lynn (no gamer just watching) took over the R35.  Lynn drove the tank to the side of Christine’s Panzer IIIE, and rolled three critical hits – and Christine failed to block any.  This knocked out the Panzer IIIE!

20 R35 avenges the FCM 36 after SOMUA misses
Lynn’s R35 avenges the burning FCM 36 (on right) by knocking out the Panzer IIIE.

21 Lynn is happy
Happy wife, happy life!  Tom and Lynn are all smiles here.

22 SOMUA is hit in rear by StuG A
In a final act, Christine maneuvered her remaining StuG A for a rear shot on Tom’s SOMUA S-35.  She successfully knocked out the SOMUA.

That ended the game, with the French winning a very narrow victory 32-31.  If Lynn had not rolled so well in killing the Panzer IIIE, the Germans would have won.  Thanks to the players for a great and fun game!

I have plans for more French and German tanks for this scenario.  I hope that you enjoyed this post, and feel free to share your thoughts and feedback with me in the comments section!  I have been behind on my blogging efforts and hope that I can share more with you soon!  Thanks for taking a look!

Also, as these were mostly done in November, I would add them as my contribution to Azazel’s MechaNovember painting challenge!

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THESE VEHICLES:

  1. 1/8″ neodymium magnets
  2. Green stuff (kneadatite)
  3. Gorilla Glue
  4. Poster tack and ¼” square wooden dowels on plastic plates
  5. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  6. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  7. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  8. Vallejo Model Air “German Green Brown”
  9. Vallejo Mecha Color “Green Blue”
  10. Vallejo Mecha Color “Brown”
  11. Battlefront “Black”
  12. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  13. Vallejo Model Air “Wood”
  14. Vallejo Mecha Weathering “Dark Rust” (wash)
  15. Army Painter “Light Tone” (shade)
  16. Vallejo Model Air “Satin” (varnish)
  17. Microscale Micro-Set
  18. Microscale Micro-Sol
  19. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  20. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  21. Citadel “Typhus Corrosion”
  22. Citadel “Ryza Rust”
  23. Army Painter “Strong Tone” (shade)
  24. Vallejo “Light Sienna” (pigment)
  25. Vallejo “Light Slate Grey” (pigment)
  26. Vallejo “Pigment Binder” (pigment)
  27. Vallejo Weathering Effects “European Splash Mud”
  28. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

 

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