Saturday, 18 July 2015

Gyros Teller - Intelligence briefing

The following are the display material that were used in the latest game - Gyros Teller Part IV. They form background and briefing information sourced from Corridor flights, Brixmis, Intelligence intercepts and assessments. Whilst the game is a fictional what if scenario to wargame the Cold War in Central Europe 1986, the photo's and material are from actual Inteligence reports of the period. The map is an extension of the 'what if' given the deployment of the forces involved.

Game introduction showing pre battle photo analysis.

The Game background

The political and military security background. Brixmis were units of the BAOR that were deployed to shadow and report on Warsaw pact troop movements and concentrations during the Cold war. They were over the IGB, as were their Soviet equivalents, situated in the west. Part of the overall monitoring to reduce international tension.

Soxmis - the Warsaw Pact equivalent of Brixmis, would be active prior to any military action to locate and identify potential threats. Even in 'peacetime' their activities would need to be monitored and recorded to identify areas of specific interest to them.

What to expect. The Big 7, a general identification of potential threats from Warsaw Pact forces.

Simple guidelines for reporting missions and battlefield observation. There is a specific section for NBC attacks or strikes.

An overview of general areas of locations and dispositions of  Soviet forces, with Nato Corps boundaries. The map gives the location of our fictional town - Gyros Teller.

This is the Independent Tank Battalion, from 10th Guards Armoured Division. These were new formations, designed to operate independently with a full complement of supporting arms, artillery, infantry and engineers.

Evidence is building up for prospective military operations, as yet unknown given previous reports

Soviet units from 10th Guards Armoured are observed leaving laager areas

Military intelligence is beginning to be severely concerned regarding the activity of Soviet forces

Soviet forces are being located in areas deemed to be concentration areas for an attack west.

An overflight of the IGB has confirmed that Soviet forces have physically crossed the IGB. 

Our map of the area of Gyros Teller, tp show the general dispositions of the units involved in the attack into West Germany.

Gyros Teller is set during the period 1st, 2nd and 3rd February 1986. The games are snapshots taken during those 3 days, in and around the area of Gyros Teller, involving British units, with assistance to and from Belgian and German units. We do not attempt to explain why the 'what if' happened, but I am a confirmed believer in the cockup explanation of history, reading up about Stanislav Petrov and the Able Baker exercise would give you an understanding of the feverish nature that the Cold War got to at times.

Cheers and thanks for reading.

Gyros Teller Part IV

Gyros Teller visited the Tank Museum at Bovington courtesy of an invite from Battlegroup South, who organise a weekend show at the Tank Museum. We were placed in the foyer, just up from reception and the shop, near to the entrance to the main exhibition hall. We had a lot of space for the game and were able to set up a display board next to the table (2 metres by 6 metres) with military intelligence photo's from the period, providing part of the 'legend' for the game. This would be the fourth game in 2 years.

Set in Febuary 1986, the game would simulate an advance on Gyros Teller by 2 separate Soviet Warsaw Pact forces. They would push on via 2 roads to the town, separated by a Corps boundary, to secure bridges over the canal for further independant exploitation by their commands. The attack would be made into the 1st Belgian Corps area, to the south of 1st British Corps area.

Historically, this was considered to be a very likely option for the Soviets should an attack be made over the IGB (Inner German Border), to exploit the relative weakness of the Belgians. Wargames and manoeuvres were tested to reinforce the Belgians with 4th Armoured Division, part of !st British Corps, and these were used to see how the redeployment of 1 Br Corps could be optimised, whilst 1 Be Corps delayed the anticipated attack. Exercise Crossed Swords 1986 being one of these.

The 2 Soviet forces comprised the following; surviving elements of the Recce Regiment from the 3rd Shock Army, a unit used in previous Gyros Teller games, and an Independent Tank Battalion from the 10th Guards Armoured. The Recce Regiment was equipped with T64BV's with reactive armour and the Independent Tank Battalion was equipped with T80's. BMP's and the usual supporting troops would be used, including a Scud!

The Belgian forces comprised 7 Leopard I's with 2 Jagdkanone, 2 Scorpions and a Gepard. A local German Reservist unit were supporting the Belgians with 3 M48's and M113's. British forces were 7 Challenger 1's with FV432's and 4 Scorpions and 2 Scimitars. A Blues and Royals battlegroup from 33 Armoured Brigade, supported by the Queens Dragoon Guards -QDG- (using the Scorpions), and Queens Lancashire Regiment -QLR- (providing the infantry component and the Scimitars).

The Soviets had local air superiority, and there would be helicopters and ground attack aircraft available to them. Nato forces would have helicopters deployed, but would not have anything active in the air. Not until local air superiority was taken away from the Soviets. It would remain with the Soviets for the rest of the game.

The 2 lines of approach for the Soviet forces, along the roads described above were separated by a hill feature that effectively isolated the 2 advancing columns, meaning they would not be mutually supporting. A corps boundary ran along this feature. The roads would have truck blockades on them to slow any Soviet advance, but they were not insurmountable. Dozer equipped tanks or ARV's would be able to shift them off the road.


The Belgian forces deployed at the edge of the town, the 2 Jagdkanone's in the centre, with 2 troops of Leopards and the commander deployed to their left and right. The 2 Scorpions were deployed further to the right on the hill to scout forward and report back details. A Gepard provided Anti Air further back in the town. The Belgians did not have any artillery support.

The Germans secured the wooded hill feature alongside the town, which also had the main road going through it, on towards and across the canal. Their tanks were deployed forward, with the infantry setup in the middle of the wood, dug in. They had a light mortar, but no artillery support. They also had a Milan team dug in on the wood edge to interfere with any armour attempting to outflank the wood.

The British were deployed on the table, but in fact if scale was played, were about 20 feet away from the canal. They were replening and refueling, awaiting contact reports and and more detailed information from recce and liaison. The Blues and Royals (Household Cavalry) would deploy via a canal bridge to counterattack the most threatening Soviet advance, or to remove any Soviet presence the other side of the canal.

With the game set up, the Belgians and Germans effectively waited till the Soviets were about a kilometre away before opening fire. As usual, the Belgian Leopard's performed dismally, outshone by their Jagdkanone's. The German M48's did little better. However it was enough to halt the head of the columns and force a tactical deployment, and, as the Soviets expected, draw out the defensive lines around the town.

As the Soviets built up their attack for Gyros Teller, the Belgians and Germans attempted to target the Soviets as they deployed out to attack. Whilst they inflicted casualties, they also received casualties back on the Belgians, directly forcing a withdrawal of one troop from the edge of the town back into it.

As the recce regiment from 3rd Shock Army deployed out, going round a roadblock, extending over the hill in the centre, and flanking the Belgians on the Soviet left, their Forward Air Controller (TACP) called up 2 Mi24 Hinds to engage the Belgians, the Hinds flying in to attack the remaining Belgian Leopards.

This was too much for the Belgians, who were in danger of losing all their kit, and the remaining Leopards began to withdraw, covered by the Gepard, which did damage to one of the Hinds. With the envelopment of the town forcing back the Belgians, and the poor trade off in terms of armour, the Soviets had basically opened up a route to the canal.

As things were hotting up in the town, CO Blues and Royals sent out two patrols to secure the canal bridges and basically find out what was happening in the process. A troop of Scorpions from the QDG was sent up along the road to make contact with the Belgians. They did not expect to find lead elements of the 3rd Shock Army, or their supporting helicopters swarming around the town.

On the other route over the canal, the 10th Guards Armoured's Independent Tank Battalion was forced to deploy out some of its leading infantry to go into the wood on foot, to engage the Germans. Tank support in that area was difficult, and they had 2 options available to them. Primarily, a barrage from a BM21 rocket battery, and a ground attack Su25, to help neutralise opposition from that area.

The Su25 flew up the road, over the wood, and successfully spotted the German positions in the wood - dug in infantry, M113's and M48's.

As luck would have it, CO of the Blues and Royals had earlier decided to send a platoon of the QLR up the road over the canal to the German positions to find out what was going on, and to place a force on the bridge to secure any British counterattack. The QLR had 2 Scimitars from the QDG escorting them. They would be able to call up mortar support.

As the leading Scimitars drove up to the German positions, the Su25 then observed the QLR FV432's, as it began to circle and come in for its attack run. Further Soviet forces were deployed onto the table, as their ARV's cleared the road of wrecks and roadblocks. Things were about to get extremely personal for the German Reservists.

And that was that. An extremely enjoyable game, with a few dice roles. A big thankyou to Richard and his colleagues from Battlegroup South. Firstly for the invite. and secondly for a prize  for the game and the 3 of us directing it - Nick T, Spike and myself.

We met an awful lot of people that we were able to talk to about the game. We had questions about the models and the rules we were using. I will be doing a post about the models. The rules were modified Battlegroup Kursk, and I will put up a full posting of our 'unofficial' modifications. A post of the background information to the game will also be made.

I hope we entertained and didn't bore people. Some of them had even read this blog. Cheers and thankyou.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Tankfest Fury 2015

This year I was lucky enough to have a free weekend to plan a trip down to Bovington to see Tankfest. Tickets had sold out for the Saturday, and a friend managed to secure 2 for Sunday. The Tiger was due to role out, and the theme this year was centred around 'Fury' the film.

A quick purchase of the film on Friday, meant that we watched it on Saturday before setting off on the Sunday morning. The film doesn't pull any punches, given some natural restrictions that a film has. A lot of the actors were older than they would have been, if they were serving soldiers at the time. Not a problem to be honest, if you have to stump up the millions for a film, and would like to get some money back to pay for it , you need names to get people in to see it. War and tank warfare is messy, very messy. You don't need to see it all, and thank goodness you can't smell it.

Fury used the Bovington Tiger tank, and 4 restored Shermans for actual footage in the film. Restrictions were made on the use of the tanks and the amount of hours they could be operated. There were of course other restored vehicles used as well to add depth and colour to the film, and mercifully minimal CGI that seem to plague/infest other films of whatever genre.

The VCC, showing vehicles awaiting time, love and money

Tankfest was packed, and after getting in, it was hard to get around through the mass of people, so we really only managed half of the VCC (Vehicle Conservation Centre) hanger, and half of the display field with the re-enactors and traders. This was due to our inability to get up to the edge of the display arena and see what was going on.

A British MkIV, powered by a JCB, part of the Museums exhibits

After looking at replica WW1 tanks - a German A7V and British MkIV, we headed to the VCC for a quick look, and then the arena.

The first display was of current vehicles of the modern  British Army, with a simulated blue on red recce and attack, supported with a drop by RM Commando's and Seaking, and extraction. Comic relief was the removal of one of the trees in the arena by a Challenger tank. It just barreled over it, sat there looking a bit embarrassed, and then reversed off the arena.

Grabbing a burger and tea, strolling through the field, I had a quick look at some of the reenactors. There were WW1, and WW2 guys there, Soviets, US and German Fallschirmjagers. The US and Fallschirmjagers would take part in the Fury display at the end of the afternoon. We then found a good place to see the arena displays, and since they had opened up the tank park for the vehicle displays had a good look around. Prior to the afv through the ages display. We would stay there the rest of the afternoon having secured our spot.

In the tank park, but did not feature in a display

The tank park had 3 of the 4 Shermans from the film Fury in the park, and I managed to take a lot of view shots of the markings, stowage and general detritus that tanks would pick up in operations. The main reason was to help with my modelling of my own US Shermans, and allow me to add appropriate detail to them. There were also a few afv's that really take my fancy there, especially the Infantry Tank Mk1 and a Czech in German service P38t

Lucy Sue


Early afternoon then saw the afv display of different types of vehicles and from various periods, including the venerable P38t which coughed and spluttered round. The P38t was just about operational and got round on love and luck, proudly making its own way off without being towed. A credit to the staff who keep the vehicles going and repaired.

Tiger 131

A tea break and then a shortish wait for the main display. Set in May 1945, using US reenactors and German Fallschirmjager reenactors, and of course, the Bovington Tiger 131 and 3 of the Fury films Shermans. The display started with a US patrol supported by Shermans coming up against a last ditch defence organised by the Fallschirmjagers and Volksturm. A simulated air attack by a Spitfire was done to soften up the defences and then it was game on. What was noticeable was the popping sound of rifles which grew to a crescendo. The Shermans were set up to fire black powder charges, I don't know about the Tiger, but they were all impressive with their clanging, clanking and squealing of tracks.

Tiger 131 supporting the German defences

The Shermans on the attack

A low blow, again short in the rear, and brewing up. A Pzr III to the left that did not survive either

As a day out at Bovington, there was just so much to see, all high quality and equally demanding , from the VCC to the field displays, and the tank park and arena. Not forgeting the Museum displays of course. Fortunately, with the Tankfest ticket you can come back at a later date to have a more relaxed look at things - its a year ticket, but does exclude special events.

A good day out and well worth it.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Battlegroup Blitzkrieg at The Tank Musuem, Bovington

A generous invite from Battlegroup South to South Somerset Wargames Club meant that I attended both days as part of the display game we put on. More in another post. It also allowed me to have a look at the other displays people were showing, and as always, the effort that people put in showed through. Some lovely painting and models.

Piers, top centre, in black tee-shirt, explaining rules and game mechanics.

One that caught my attention - especially as a confirmed 20mm WW2 enthusiast, was the Early WW2 display from Piers Brand and Warwick Kinrade, as part of the push on Battlegroup Blitzkrieg. I loved the display, especially the industrial complex next to the river, but had also seen some of the figures and models being painted on the work in progress page. A bit of a painting tease, but not the same as seeing it in real life.

 Piers as well as having a young family, full time job, active on the Guild - answering rules queries for instance - as does Warwick too, is also one of the best painters I have seen. He is not the best, but his standard of work and the sheer volume, speed and consistency, make him so. All the work was done by Piers, made available for set piece photography for the new rule book. I hope my photo's do Piers work justice.

One of the problems with the Battlegroup rules is the lack of mainstream penetration regarding publicity. Its such a simple set of rules - more guidelines really, that allows for tabletop gaming with 20mm figures. They are not solely for 20mm, as many wargamers use 15mm figures, some 28mm and a few 6mm ( 1/300 th ). They adapt well to any scale, or what you have in the box.

The days when there was just WRG have long gone. Thank goodness, but a plethora of other sets, some specific to certain scales have meant that the process of getting Battlegroup noticed has been a choice between sharp elbows, or a painstaking commitment to show the game. Piers and Warwick are the type of people who have chosen the latter, building on a love of gaming, a desire to share, and an approachability bordering on sainthood. This hard work is starting to pay off, with some of the rulesets nearing the end of their print run.

More are on the way. The next book will be the Desert campaign, This is a project of particular interest to Warwick. I am waiting for all those dodgy British armoured cars to appear to make up a recce patrol, as well as Men in Shorts! However, there is some major pestering going on for a Cold War book. I don't think its got to issuing injunctions yet!, but some preliminary work has been done, and it is firmly on the distant horizon. Hopefully drawing nearer, time and commitments permiting.

There were of course other games on display at the weekend, different scales and periods, all interspersed between Traders and the Museum exhibits. And thats the thing for Battlegroup, getting noticed.