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Saturday, January 15, 2011

6th Annual Flames of War Day @ Ft Lee Women's Museum

Today was Ron Bingham's 6th Annual Flames of War day at the Women's Museum at Fort Lee in Petersburg, VA. Ron runs an excellent themed tournament every year, and it's one everyone looks forward to. This year's theme was the siege of Leningrad. Two years ago I ran US Rangers, but unfortunately had to miss the previous year. Today's tournament consisted of 2 rounds (round 1 was mid war, and round 2 was late war) which were each 1500 points, and armies had to be historically accurate.

Lots of people worked hard on some great terrain- highlights included the Czar's Palace board, a lake resort with a massive frozen lake, a 100% swamp board, a gorgeous city fight, and others. In addition to the tournament there was a living history group there with two reenactors: one soviet and one german, displaying all of their cool kit. The highlight of the living history for me was an honest to God ex-Afrika Korps soldier and noted author, Gerhard Hennes.

Before the tournament, I caught up with local, yet rarely seen Richmonder Gray Collins and we snuck out to get a glimpse of all the great tanks now housed at Fort Lee. Unfortunately most (including a SOMUA S-35, a Hotchkiss H39, Semovente 75 & 47, M10 Tank Destroyer, and many others) were covered by tarps. Gray and I poked around a bit under the tarps to see what we could see, but couldn't get any good pictures. I snapped a few pictures of the ones that weren't covered, including an Elephant recently rebuilt on Tank Overhaul.

Here's a few pics of the tanks:

The big beauty.

Welded hull M4 Sherman.

Soviet KV heavy tank. Not sure which flavor this is. 1e?

The tournament was set to start, and it was time for Ron to deliver his briefing. As usual, each table was based on a historical location, and these locations were displayed on a big map so we could see which side was making the most progress.

The map.

Ron, our God King, delivers his sermon.

The participants.

All the participants on the right say "yeaaaaahhh".

With the briefing out of the way, it was time to get down to brass tacks. Keith Schur and I were matched up for the first round. He and I play against each other in every tournament I go to in MD, and Keith is both a great player and a great sport! The battle was at the Czar's Winter Palace, and the mission was I-95's Domination.

  • HQ + Panzerknackers
  • Grenadier Platoon w/ 3 squads and panzerknacker
  • Grenadier Platoon w/ 3 squads and panzerknacker
  • Grenadier Platoon w/ 3 squads and panzerknacker
  • Full Strength HMG Platoon
  • Nebelwerfers with 1 battery
  • 4x Marder III M
  • Captured KV-1e "Smetna"
  • Full Strength Pioneers

  • Battalion HQ + Sapper Teams
  • Full Strength Strelkovy w/ 1 SMG Platoon
  • Full Strength Strelkovy w/ 1 SMG Platoon
  • HMG Company w/ 9 HMGs
  • Heavy Mortar Battery
  • ZIS-3 AT Gun Battery
  • 5x T-70 Light Tanks
  • Scout Patrol
  • Infantry Gun Battery
This was an UGLY battle. We basically lined up and shot the hell out of each other. Keith managed to get an entire Strelkovy company inside the Czar's Palace, but his right flank broke as "Smetna" went on to heroic deeds. The game was an absolute bloodbath for shooting, though very few assaults actually happened. Early in the game my Marders caught his T-70s moving at the double, and eviscerated the platoon. One pesky tank survived the rest of the game, but their combat effectiveness was nullified. His Zis-70s, in response, annhilated my Marders. This left one real AFV combat worthy on the board: Smetna. She went on to be my star unit. On Keith's right flank, Smetna and 2 grenadier platoons knocked out one Strelkovy company and the Scouts at the cost of one grenadier platoon. In the center, Keith grabbed the palace, and I could never bring enough weight to dislodge him. A bazillion SMGs did rout my pioneers as they moved into the palace's courtyard, but neither of us could truly maneuver there. Finally, Smetna charged forward and wiped out Keith's infantry gun platoon. Then, she turned right in Keith's backfield and (with the help of the nebelwerfers), she caught his HMGs outside of fox-holes and MGed and assaulted them out of existence. To end her reign of terror, she punched through a wood to MG Keith's heavy mortars, putting them below half and breaking them. With 5 dead platoons, Keith was below half strength and it was only a matter of time until he failed his company morale check. He finally did, but not before severely decimating my forces. At the end of the game, I was left with 2 Grenadier platoons (both badly maimed, but above halfstrength), Smetna, and 1 nebelwerfer. Absolutely bloody game! Oh yeah, there were domination points, but as usual, they didn't really play into it. The I-95 guys are aparrently going to change the win-conditions to 8/10 points rather than 10/12. 10/12 is just far too difficult to do without breaking a company- I've never seen it done!. Nevertheless, it's a great mission, and really is a heap of fun. Kudos to those guys.
For game two I had both the joy of playing on a swamp board (100% difficult ground!), and playing with my old friend Chuck Carey and his co-commander Aaron Meany. Chuck and I go way back, and hadn't gotten a chance to play in ages. Chuck and Aaron also decided that combined arms was not for them. This second round was late war so the soviets have gone from conscript to trained. My army stayed mostly the same except for the addition of some air, which was only mildly useful this game (though it did pin a lot!).

  • HQ + Panzerknackers
  • Grenadier Platoon w/ 3 squads and panzerknacker
  • Grenadier Platoon w/ 3 squads and panzerknacker
  • Grenadier Platoon w/ 3 squads and panzerknacker
  • Full Strength HMG Platoon
  • Nebelwerfers with 1 battery
  • 4x Marder III M
  • Captured KV-1e "Smetna"
  • Full Strength Pioneers
  • Sporadic HS-129s

  • Battalion HQ
  • Full Strength Strelkovy w/ 1 SMG Platoon
  • Full Strength Strelkovy w/ 1 SMG Platoon
  • Full Strength Strelkovy w/ 1 SMG Platoon + HMG
  • Sapper Company
  • Flame Thrower Company
As I said, the board was entirely covered by swamp making my armored vehicles little more than MG bunkers- but MG bunkers were exactly what I needed. The mission was Fighting Withdrawal, and I "lost" the die roll to defend. In actuality, I think attacking them would have been nigh impossible. Conversely, their list was very much built with "digging in and holding on" in mind. This is late in the game- probably half of the soviet stands are missing. It was truly a massive horde. The objectives were basically spread evenly across the front with my objective in the center. I put my HMGs in ambush. Aaron and Chuck moved everything forward, but I think the results were fairly expected. Whithering fire from planes, nebelwerfers, vehicle MGs, ambushing HMGs, and rifle fire took its toll on the attackers. I got lucky a few times and the guys failed to unpin, allowing me to focus on other flanks. The center of the soviet wave had the most difficult time, arriving far later than the flanks. In the end, the guys did get a succesful assault off in the middle pushing back a grenadier platoon, but they were mostly run out of steam by then. In the end, the guys were left with a severely depleted strelkovy company, and a weakened sapper company that was far too late to grab an objective. I was able to withdraw Smetna and 2 grenadier platoons before Chuck and Aaron threw in the towel.
In the end, I think I ranked somewhere around 3rd or something. Not entirely sure, but I do know Tom "Mad Dog" De Mayo qualified for nationals! Get em! I was fortunate enough to win best painted army, which I consider a massive compliment. Ron truly outdid himself this year- his tournaments get better and better. It really sets a high bar- I'll be sure not to miss the next one. Brian stands with the Soviet reenactor. I wanted my picture taken with Gerhard Hennes. Two assault rifles casually left in the "Children's Corner". No worries- they're display models :)


FoxPhoenix135 said...

Sounds like a great time! If I can break this nasty habit of buying pewter and resin, I might someday brave the molestation by the TSA and make it back to the lower 48 for some historical showcases like these. Good report!

Scary Biscuits said...

Great report! I like that there are so many events held at historic places or museums. Helps bring history alive in a way that most people have never seen before.

Duncan said...

That looks like a fun event. My local club used to meet at the Canadian War Museum (until they started charging a fairly large fee for space) and we always got a lot of interest from museum goers (and probably got a few new members that way).

Are the I-95 scenarios online somewhere?

indierockclimber said...

Yeah it was great! Shame the museum priced you guys out of it.

Some of the scenarios are available in my downloads section (including Domination). Enjoy! They're a ton of fun. If you have a look at our AARs, I have a handful of them posted.

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