Bulge American Live Launch – 7th November 2021

The Bulge American Live Launch is starting on the 7th of November so mark those calendars. We will be having a live battle report and a hobby hang out Q&A with the studio so be sure to tune in on Twitch. We will also be updating the Live Launch website throughout the day

Bulge American Live Launch – 7th November 2021 – STARTS: 8:00am – PST / 3:00pm – GMT / 4:00am – NZT

Bagration Axis Allies Live Launch Round Up

Bagration Axis Allies Live on Digital and Forces
Bagration: Axis Allies Spotlight
Bagration: Axis Allies Previews
Big Four Of Late War – Axis Allies

Articles
Building a Hungarian Assault Battery With the New Starter Force
Armoured Versatility – Looking at Zrinyi Assault Gun Battery
Exploring the Bagration Finnish Infantry Formations
Mix and Match Armour – The Finnish T-26 Armoured Company
The Panzer IV in Bagration Axis Allies
Bagration: Finnish Command Cards
Exploring the Bagration Romanian Infantry Formations
Anti-tank Support Options for a Bagration Romanian Force
Hungarian Zrínyi Assault Gun Battery – Rohamágyús Üteg
Exploring the Bagration Hungarian Infantry Formations
Hungarian Heavies
Building a Romanian Starter Force based on the T-4 Tank Formation
Building a Finnish Starter Force based on the Sturmi Assault Gun Formation
Hungarian Paratroopers in WW2 – The Szent Lászlo Division
Hungarian Border Fighting in 1944
Casey’s Eastern Front Table

Videos
Romanian Tanks Showcase – Axis Allies Bagration
Pete The Wargamer: How To Paint a Hungarian Zrinyi – Flames Of War Painting Tutorial
Miniature Landscape Hobbies: Bagration Axis-Allies Terrain- Ruined Church and Graveyard Part One
Zrinyi Assembly Guide – Axis Allies Bagration
Miniature Landscape Hobbies: Bagration Axis-Allies Terrain- Ruined Church and Graveyard Part Two
Finnish Tank Showcase
Pete The Wargamer: How To Paint a Finnish StuG – Flames Of War Painting Tutorial
Romanian Tank Showcase
UNBOXING | Axis-Allies Army Deal

Thanks for Watching!

Thanks for tuning in everyone! We’ve had a great time and hope you’ve had a chance to check out all the content! But don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere and you can check all of it out at your own pace.

Hopefully, you’ve found something to inspire you to start or add to your Finnish, Hungarian and/or Romanian armies. Catch you next time!

PEACE!!!

Casey’s Eastern Front Table

with Casey Davies

I’ve made a lot of terrain for Battlefront in my time here, but over the past 3-4 years I’ve been building a terrain table for myself as a slow burn project. Since a lot of my armies are Eastern Front themed I decided to make it represent the steppes of the Eastern Front.

I liked the idea of doing a winter table but didn’t want to make a completely white table, as it would make the table too specific, so decided to make it in a transition period, either autumn or early spring, so quite arid but with a scattering of snow.

As it so happens every year on the way to Panzerschreck we travel via the Central Plateau which is as close to the Russian steppes as we get in NZ, so I’ve been using that as an example. In the sample photos here there is no snow, however in previous years there has been a light scattering of snow that has collected in small drifts around the bases of the tall grasses. Originally, I was going to populate the hills and railways with more tufts and snow, but decided not too as a compromise to make it slightly easier to photograph and play on.

I wanted the hills to represent undulating terrain, rather than slab sided hills, so when I was designing them I started with quite large pieces of MDF, glued some polystyrene to it and then shaped it so that the highest point wasn’t much taller that a large tank. Since they are representing undulating terrain I also decided to build forests/woods onto the hills to make them more dynamic, and because I don’t think area terrain should only be one thing.

I want to add 50% more terrain, but most of that will just be enhancing pre-painted Battlefield in a Box Terrain, so it won’t take that long to finish it off. When the city mat comes out I’m going to get one and cut a section out of it to put under my buildings. I’m also going to paint up a third building to finish off the city corner. The other thing I’m going to do is flock up a whole lot of fields and fences to add in a bit more concealing terrain. Eventually I want to be able to make an 8’ x 4’ table.

Click on the images below for larger versions…

Hungarian Border Fighting in 1944

After their experience on the Don River in the winter of 1942/43 the Hungarians instituted a number of changes to their infantry forces in 1943. The first of these reforms was known as the Szabolcs I plan and was updated in early 1944 to the Szabolcs II plan. The new infantry divisions were based around three 3-battalion infantry regiments (the forces on the Don were two regiment light divisions). They were upgraded with heavier artillery, replacing the old 80mm field guns with 100mm howitzers and reinforced by 149mm howitzers. An effort was made to obtain heavier anti-tank weapons such as the 75mm PaK40 from the Germans and each infantry regiment was issued with nine of these. Another lesson learned from the Germans was the need for the infantry to have their own armour and the Assault Artillery was formed with the intention to have a battalion of Zrínyi assault howitzers available to each infantry division.

As war continued to push closer the Hungarian border, provisions were made for mobilising more forces in the form of Reserve or Replacement divisions. These were formed along the same organisation as the first line divisions, but usually had less artillery available, with just three instead of four battalions, and no assault artillery battalion. 

The other infantry forces the Hungarians had at hand for home defence were the various border troops. These included the Border Guard, Border Police, Mountain Border Police and the traditional border levy of the Székler Command. The Border Police were part of the Ministry of the Interior and their roles included customs and excise, and immigration control, but in times of war they could be mobilised to defend the border.

The Mountain Border Police were mobilised in times of war to provide the two Hungarian Mountain Brigades and new Border Guard units were raised to replace them. The Border Guard came under the Army and also patrolled the borders in peacetime, but they also provided fortress companies for the guarding of strategic passes and fought if Hungary was invaded.

The Székler Command has it roots in the traditions of the Austro-Hungarian empire, which had a tradition of keeping irregular light border troops to harass any invading enemy (usually the Ottoman Turks). The Székely are the ethnic Hungarian people of Transylvania. During World War II their responsibility was the Székel Corner, the part of Hungary known as Northern Transylvania that jutted out over the Romanian controlled territory of the rest of Transylvania. Because of the way Transylvania was divided in 1940 the border had no natural features on which to anchor the border defence and defence in this sector became a difficult prospect. It had only been linked by rail to the rest of Hungary in 1942. The Székler Command was made up of a mix civilian Border Police, army Border Guard and local militias whose responsibilities included the defence of any passes and roads navigable by enemy tanks in the Carpathian Mountains. Because of its isolated position the Székel Corner was supplied with ammunition and provisions for four weeks fighting in case it was cut-off, as well as food stockpiles for the civilian population.

Fighting for the Székel Corner

The Romanians changed sides after their defeat by the Soviets in the battles for Iaşi and Chişinău in August 1944 and the threat of invasion became an imminent reality. As early as 10 August Lieutenant-General vitéz (meaning brave, an honourary title somewhat like a knighthood) Lojos Veress, commander of the Hungarian Second Army, with the IX Corps at Kolozsvári (Cluj) in Northern Transylvania, held a meeting with his senior commanders and German Generalmajor von Grolman, the chief of staff of Army Group South Ukraine, to discuss the defence of the Eastern Carpathians. The original defensive plan had been made with Romania still allied with the Germans, but new provisions had to be made with the threat of the Romanians attacking from Southern Transylvania.

With the collapse of the Romanians on the Iaşi/Chişinău front Army Group South Ukraine had effectively lost five corps and 18 divisions while they retreated through hostile territory towards Hungary and the western Ukraine. The front opened up rapidly and Soviet mechanised and cavalry forces poured through Romania heading for the Carpathian mountain passes to Transylvania. This left only Hungarian troops to secure their border with Romania. Despite their defeat at the hands of the Soviets, the Romanians still had substantial forces in the field, and while they went about re-assembling the Third and Fourth Armies, they had many training and reserve units of the First Army watching the Hungarian border in Transylvania in case the Hungarians decided to strike.

The first Romanian probe into Hungarian territory occurred on 25 August, west of the Moras (Mures) River, when a battle group of Romanian infantry crossed the border in the Keleman (Călimani) Mountains on the northwestern edge of the Székel Corner and clashed with the 23rd Border Guard Battalion and local Gendarmes (rural police).

A day later more serious fighting broke out when elements of the Soviet 7th Guards and the 23rd Tank Corps crossed the border into the Úz and Csobányos valleys and north from the Ciuc Mountains, bringing the fighting proper to Hungarian soil for the first time in the war. 

On 27 August fighting occurred at Ojtózi, on 28 August at Gyimesi and in the Tatros Vallery, all in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains.

Some German units had arrived to join the fighting, with Kampfgruppe Abraham and Kampfgruppe Fessner joining the defence. However, it became clear that the Hungarian border forces were not going to be enough to hold back the might of the Red Army. Hungarian units had begun mobilising in central Hungary with the Second Army mobilising as further troops were sent to aid the IX Corps fighting in Transylvania. The VII Corps headquarters was detached from the First Army, which was fighting on the border with the Ukraine, and given command of the 25th Infantry Division, 20th Infantry Division and the 2nd Armoured Division, all veteran units who had been fighting in the Ukraine since April. The Second Army was further boosted by troops quickly raised as part of the field replacement army, including the 2nd Field Replacement Division.

Retreating German units increasingly joined the fighting and the 4. Gebirgsdivision was transferred from the north to join the defence of Transylvania. With only border troops immediately available the Germans played an important role in the fighting around the Baróti Mountains, at Nyárád and holding the Maros (Mures) River and Szászrégent (Reghin) line and at Marosludas (Luduş) up until the beginning of October 1944.

The Ojtózi Pass held for several days, but was lost when the 24th Border Guard Battalion was forced out the southeast corner of the front line, but with the aid of German units they were able to halt the advance until 9 September along the Ojtózi (Ozsdola) − Berecki (Bereck) − Lemhény (Lemnia) − Torja (Turia) − Kászonújfalu (Caşinu Nou) line. The 24th Border Guard Battalion and 67th Border Guard Group’s determined defence played an important role. During these battles there were outstanding displays of fighting by the Hungarian border troops.

Among these should be mentioned the exploits at Ojtózi Farm by the 24th Battalion’s 1st Fortress Company. The Germans and Hungarians, after a short but fierce battle, were pushed out of the southern exit of the Pass into the widening Ojtózi Valley, where the Hungarian 24th Battalion’s 1st Fortress Company’s position was built near the village of Sósmező (Poiana Sărată). Sósmező was the first village within the Kingdom of Hungary to be occupied by Soviet troops in 1944. During the fighting around the village, most of the buildings were destroyed and many civilians lost their lives. Company commander Lieutenant Sándor Megyery, deputy company commander Lieutenant Ferenc Kovács, and the platoon commander at Ojtózi Pass reserve Ensign János Vácz, were all awarded the Hungarian Cross of Merit with Swords and Ribbons.

At no other time during the war had three Hungarian officers from the same company received an honour for the same action.

In another outstanding action reserve Ensign Ferenc Mező commanded the machine-gun company of the 24th Border Guard Battalion defending the area between Kászonjakabfalva, the 1,051 metre Nyir peak, and the village of Katrosa on 3 September. During the day his positions repelled several Soviet infantry and cavalry attacks. Mező took command of the last machine-gun after its crew had been lost, and, already wounded himself, he beat back several more Soviet infantry assaults. Armed with nothing but his resolute determination he held his position with hand-to-hand fighting all around him. He died fighting off Soviet infantry, unwilling to retreat. He was posthumously awarded the Officers Gold Medal for Bravery, the 17th officer to be so awarded during the war.

All along the Transylvanian border similar fighting occurred at the Úz, Csobányos and Tatros valleys. The Hungarians held a line through the Csíki Mountains in desperate fighting by various battle groups through 12 to 14 September. The bulk of the defence was taken up by the 23rd, 32nd and 34th Székely Border Guard battalions, the fortress companies of the Székely Border Guard battalions, and the German ‘Fessner’ battle group. Troops began to arrive in Northwest-Hungary in the form of the 3rd, 16th and 22nd Reserve Infantry regiments.

The Soviet 50th Guard Rifle Corps, of the 40th Army, sent patrols into Hungary on 3 September to the north and south of the Békás (Bicas) pass. They headed north to the heights at Point 1502 to increase pressure on the hard-pressed Hungarians. If the Soviets were able to take possession of this commanding elevation, they planned to then take the Békás and Tölgyesi passes and at the same time the 1078 meters high pass at Balázsnyakát where the road between Gyergyóbékás (Bicazu Ardelean) and Gyergyótölgyes (Tulgheş) crossed. The positions of the 1st Székely Mountain Border Battalion were supported by the 21st Mountain Battery with four guns. Also in the area was the 21st Border Guards Battalion, which also had a four-tube mortar platoon, two German mortars and a German field artillery battery. The key figure in the defence was the commander of the 21st Mountain Battery, Lieutenant Vilmos Brambring.

The Battery became key to the defence with good positions that allowed it to fire on the Soviet assembly areas before their attack. This soon bore fruit, as the four Hungarian mountain guns, along with the German battery, were able to lay down a curtain of fire covering the front line in the immediate foreground of the Tölgyesi pass and essentially close down the Soviet attack.

Meanwhile, the areas beyond the Tölgyesi Pass action was also reinforce by the IX Corps. As a consequence a battalion of the 2nd Field Replacement Division was sent to Gyergyószentmiklósi and arrived around midnight at the train station.

The Kelemen Mountains in the east of Northern Transylvania had not yet been threatened, but on 1 September, the Beszterce 22nd Border Guard Battalion and two battalions of the Kosnánál Székely Border Guards crossed the border by rail into Vatra Dornei. There, the Germans had formed a bridgehead, based around an important manganese ore mine.

However, all was not well with the Székely border guards. The Székely Guard was set up in 1942 and organised along the lines of the traditional Habsburg system. These formations were made up of local men, anywhere from teenagers to men in their late middle age, and could include up to three generations of one family. Training and equipment was poor and their fighting spirit was low. On 20 August 1944 the Székely border guard battalions entered the fighting. They suffered from mass desertions during the first days of fighting, as the men of the battalions first thoughts were to protect their families from the invading armies. The phenomenon came as a bitter surprise to both the Hungarian and German command, because the Székely had a reputation for their fighting spirit during World War I, but in little more than twenty years it had vanished.

Having done all that they could to hold Northern Transylvania, on 7 September the Hungarians and Germans began to evacuate the area. Any plans for the capture the passes of the Carpathians before the Soviets could had proved utterly illusory. The German Sixth and Eighth Armies, and Hungarian Second Army, under the headquarters of German Army Group South Ukraine, withdrew in several phases due to the space limitations.

As a result, by roughly mid-September a new defensive position was establishment on the Moras River. The superior firepower of German mobile battle groups was used to cover the withdrawal of the marching infantry columns of shattered Hungarian frontier units. From 16 September battalions arriving in good order were redeployed along the Kelemen and Görgényi mountains and at the Ratosnyai Gorge on Maros River. During this period the Germans took operational command of all the Hungarian units of the IX Corps and Székely Border command, for both tactical and political reasons.

On 12 October 1944 in the area of Ratosnya (Răstoliţa) − Beszterce (Bistriţa) − Dés (Dej) − Szászrégen (Reghin) bordering Northern Bukovina more heavy fighting took place. The Székely 27th Light Division was redirected to halt the Soviet advance, but they could do little to stop the Soviet mechanized and armoured force. All the lightly equipped division could do was delay them.

Hungarian Paratroopers in WW2 – The Szent Lászlo Division

With Adam Brooker

Throughout my time playing Flames of War, I’ve found I have been particularly attracted to minor or unique units and Nations, ones that had been left out of the main history books and the most easily found sources. So I became interested in the Eastern Front Axis Allies in the previous Eastern Front books, like Grey Wolf for late war, and the Ostfront book for mid war. One day a friend of mine put up a picture on the Flames of War Facebook page, of a Hungarian officer in what I thought was a striking 3-tone camouflage jacket, and it got me very interested. This was the start of me going down the rabbit hole of the little known WW2 Hungarian Paratrooper Battalion.

The Hungarians were looking at incorporating Paratroopers into the Royal Hungarian Honvéd ( Honvéd means Defender of the Homeland, and is used in place of Army or Landwehr) as early as 1938, they were developing this independently of the Germans, but were aware of the Germans secretly trying to develop their own Fallschirmjager Forces. These troops were envisioned essentially as a kind of early elite special forces unit, to jump offensively into enemy territory to take command and communication centres, and to harass and slow enemy units.

As a result of WW1, Hungary had lost much land, that was turned into countries like Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, and there were many people living in those lands who considered themselves ethnically Hungarian, much like the ethnic Germans or Volksdeutche in similar areas that encompassed the older Austro-Hungarian Empire, that had been stripped in the Treaty of Versailles.

Many young men from the area with language skills and woodsmen or outdoors experience were enlisted to form para-military units, and trained in demolition, small arms, hand to hand fighting, map reading, navigation and survival, as well as how to drive vehicles and jump from planes. There was some fighting in Lower Carpathians in 1938 with a Hungarian para-military unit called the Rugged Guard, and guerrilla style fighting with Czech troops over a disputed area that was eventually given to Hungary after the German annexation of Czechoslovakia in 1939 with the reclamation of the Sudetenland. The soon to be new commander of the Hungarian Paratroopers, Captain Vitéz Bertalan, had been fighting there successfully, he was a WW1 veteran, who had led many raids behind Italian lines at night, as well as aggressive reconnaissance and capturing enemy prisoners, and a proponent of what is now called Asymmetric Warfare. He would leave the fighting there in 1938 to help form the new Hungarian Paratrooper School, bringing the skills and tactics learnt from his years of fighting with him, but at the age of 39.

Initially knowing the Germans were attempting the same thing with the Fallschirmjager, they attempted to get support for their own program from the Germans, such as training, equipment (parachutes), jump procedures and tactics, but the Germans refused all requests. So they developed their own program from trial and error and their own limited experience. They purchased equipment from a variety of nations, they initially had a mix of British, Italian, German parachutes, and on their first jump from an obsolete Italian bomber, a Caproni CA-101 they had a 50% injury rate, with most  injuries being the paratroopers breaking their legs on landing.

The issues noted from this include the unsuitability of the Caproni CA-101, which they nicknamed flying coffins, with it being very slow, and only able to carry 6 to 7 paratroopers. The mix of parachutes, causing issues with packing the chutes properly, and standardisation, and the lack of specialist jump gear for the troopers, for example in early jumps they used summer pilot coveralls, with officers boots, which did not support their ankles at all ( so a contributing factor in many broken legs), and also no proper helmets for head protection.

The troops were also trained in WW1 Stormtrooper tactics, with hand to hand combat, mass hand grenade barrages in assault and the use of the M1917 fighting knife, for close assaults. It was clear that they would need to be trained for this type of fighting given their role as elite light infantry, who would need to quickly assault enemy positions soon after landing.

They quickly realised without proper equipment they would be suffering needless casualties, so new planes were bought from Italy in 1939, as Germany was still refusing to help in any way, wanting to keep its elite airborne forces a secret, but Italy which was also developing its own program, would at least help to provide planes. Five Savoia-Marchetti SM.75 Marsupiale (Marsupial) transport aircraft were purchased, which were faster and could take up to 24 paratroopers per plane, they also had a top speed of 369 km/h compared to the 210 km/h of the older CA.101.

Additionally the Hungarians developed their own parachute system, a Hungarian aeronautical engineer Akos Hehs, who had been interested in parachutes, had developed his own parachute system, called the Hehs Parachute or 39M H. Gy Parachute System. It consisted of a dual parachute system, which had a main and reserve chute, which could be opened either by a static line when jumping from an aircraft, or by a pull wire on the harness itself. So it could be used either in mass combat jumps or in free fall jumps, this pre-dated other systems used by the allies, and his patent was bought by the United States in 1941, which they used to develop their own parachutes that were later used by American Paratroopers. This system also introduced the pilot chute system ( or brake chute system), a small chute that opened before the main canopy, which helped controlled opening of the chute and safe landing, similar to a drogue chute in modern parachutes. After WW2 he was brought to the US and helped work on parachutes for the NASA space program.

They also developed a specialised jump suit for their paratroopers, a 1939M one piece jump suit, with zipper opening for easy access, and many pockets in the front and legs to store items like grenades, maps, first aid kits and personal items. The paratroopers like these very much and even though they were only really suitable for jumps, due to limited capacity and lack or camouflage, they were very comfortable and they often even wore them on honour guards or parades, as it showed their elite status.

A new parachutist badge was also made, a grinning skull and crossed swords in front of a parachute and wings, to signify the deadly and dangerous nature of their unit, and also mobility of their service, this had taken inspiration from the Austro-Hungarian assault troops of WW1, the Stormtroopers who had a skull and a crossed stick grenade badge on their uniforms. This was well liked by the paratroopers and worn with pride. To them the parachutist badge was to represent that the “Paratrooper service demands fearless, completely reliable warriors, who can bring to the fore their sense of duty, and intend to fight a merciless fight, behind enemy lines to their last breath without a hope of return.” and was worn as such. A badge with a similar design but incorporating a wreath was also made, to signify 25 jumps for veteran paratroopers.

As for as firearms, they were equipped either with the 31M Mannlicher stutzen carbine, ideal for paratrooper jumps due to its short length. Also 37M Frommer service pistols, as a self defence weapon after jumping, which is unusual, as usually only officers get pistols. They also had Solothurn 31M light machine guns, and Solothurn anti tank rifles early in the war for anti tank firepower, which were later replaced with Hungarian produced Panzerfausts when the Germans finally gave them the designs and allowed them to produce them.

They were also equipped initially with the excellent MP35 Bergmann submachine gun from the Germans, until they produced their own submachine gun the Danuvia 39 and 43M sub-machinegun designed by a Hungarian Engineer Pál Király. These were very well liked by the Paratroopers, especially the 34M Király, which functioned reliably in the sub-zero and muddy conditions of the Eastern front. It fired an excellent 9x25mm Mauser bullet with good stopping power and range, it was in fact the largest sub-machinegun at the time that allowed the biggest cartridge and longest range possible from a sub-machinegun. It had a 40 round magazine and a rate of fire of 750 rounds per minute. Later in the war when there was more available, many Paratrooper platoons were equipped entirely with them.

 

They practiced with their new equipment which performed well, the new SM.75 was a significant improvement from the slower CA.101, and their new chutes performed well. But as usual there were accidents, and several paratroopers were killed in practice jumps, both new recruits and experienced men of multiple jumps. This surely affected the other men training, but the now Major Bertalan found an effective way to inspire confidence in the troops and their equipment. After any fatal accident, he would perform the next jump with the killed paratroopers parachute, to show that they could trust their equipment. This example of confidence and bravery inspired his troops greatly, and they loved him for it, not only was he willing to face possible death with his troops, but he was also quickly approaching 40, showing he would do anything asked of them himself.

Despite all the money and effort put into developing their own equipment and procedures, they only made one combat jump, which was marred by a SM.75 crash on take-off, which killed 17 paratroopers as well as the unit Commander Major Bertalan. It was 1941 and they were going to jump into nearby Yugoslavia to secure a bridge to help with the Hungarian attack into their previous ally. The Germans asked for their help in invading Yugoslavia and in return they would get part of it that bordered Hungary that had ethnic Hungarians, this was distasteful to some Hungarians, with the Prime Minister committing suicide over this betrayal, given they had only signed a Treaty of Friendship in 1940 with Yugoslavia. The five SM.75’s were to take off under full combat load and drop a company from the Battalion to secure a bridge in Szenttamás (now Srbobran, Serbia) to help the Hungarian assault. It was noted that they appeared to be overloaded with paratroopers plus canisters with equipment, but this should not have affected lift off, just a longer take off.

Although the other commanders did not want him to go, Major Bertalan insisted he go, as he was the only combat veteran and was not willing to let him men jump without him. His plane crashed soon after take-off, and with the fuel and ammunition carried it exploded, killing 17 and a huge blow to unit morale, despite this the paratroopers insisted they continue the mission. They were late and landed at dusk, and without maps, which were in the lead plane, and although missing their jump mark they marched the 30 kilometres to their objective and proceeded to take it linking with other Hungarian forces. This was their first successful campaign and although the jump was not a 100% success, the following fighting did show the other good qualities of the paratrooper program, with the paratroopers noted for being excellent close assault troops, bravely taking enemy positions, and excellent espirit de corps. It was found later the crash was caused by improper storage of that plane during winter, which caused the hydraulic elevator trim to not function correctly.

After this there was no other combat jump for the Paratroopers into enemy territory, mostly due to how the war was progressing. They did do some supply jumps in July 1941 to help supply the Hungarian 1st Mountain Brigade, during the invasion of the Soviet Union, they had been advancing so fast they had outpaced their supply units, so were supplied by air. Ten paratroopers jumped in with the supplies to secure them south of Kolomea in the Ukraine, this was their last airborne operation. But mostly the army wanted to keep them back as an elite reserve that did not make most of the officers and NCO’s happy, as they wanted to go join the fight.

Another way for the Paratrooper officers and NCO’s to get experience on the Eastern Front was to be loaned out on three month “tours” as either PT instructors, platoon leaders, NCOs, or close combat instructors. They were well liked by their fellow soldiers as exemplary soldiers that inspired confidence in the troops around them, often getting stuck in with their troops to show them they were not above getting dirty to get the job done.

In 1943 they got their wish and were called up to help stall the Soviet advance on the Oder in Jan 1943 after the defeat at Stalingrad, with the Hungarian 2nd Army being wiped out in the Soviet Little Saturn Offensive. The Hungarians knowing they were outnumbered and with very little effective anti tank equipment, could not hope to hold the Soviet tanks. Despite asking for the release of Corps Cramer which had the remaining few Panzer 38t tanks from the German and Hungarian armoured division and the 168 Infantry Division, the Germans refused, and the Hungarians were pushed back.

The paratroopers were called up to relieve the survivors of the retreating Hungarian 2nd Army, and stalled the Soviets where they could during January and February 1943. This fighting withdrawal stopped them from being over-run and allowed 40,000 of the 200,000 Hungarians who went into the Russia to retreat. Despite huge losses, the Paratroopers gained valuable experience and also proved their worth where they could.

The next major action for the Paratroopers was the fighting around the Carpathian Mountains, in August and September 1944, after Romania defected, and with the Soviets pushing into Hungary. They slowed them down and engaged partisans, and were only then called back to help with the defence of Budapest, but they were already getting a reputation amongst their enemies as excellent assault troops, wiping out many Soviet units in lighting assaults. Unfortunately also the Soviets stopped taking Paratroopers as prisoners, noting their skull parachute emblems and distinctive uniform (perhaps also due to the similarity to the German SS logos).

“From now on there were no prisoners in Russian hands. The shiny silver badges with the skull, our leather jackets, and jumpboots were good recommendations for a trip to the after world in the eyes of the Russkies” a 1st Lt. Nagy concluded.

They joined the Szent László (Saint Laszlo) Division in October 1944, which was made up of the best the Hungarians had to offer, which included the Paratrooper Battalion, a bodyguard rifleman battalion, a grenadier regiment as well as dedicated artillery, rocket launchers and assault guns.

The fight that really cemented their reputation was the defence of Budapest, with them being used as fire brigade troops, similar to the German elite formations. It was hard fought, close city fighting, with brave stand around defensive positions, counter-attacks, and eventual retreat again, but always costing the Soviets dearly and helping the morale of their fellow soldiers.

They fought incredibly hard in the defence of Budapest, with them often being used as tank-hunter teams with Panzerfausts against Soviet armour, and their reputation was much enhanced by their ferocity and bravery. In some cases Soviet units fled when counter-attacked by them, leaving their positions and equipment. They would often allow Russian tanks to go through their lines, letting the tanks pass, then pinning the supporting infantry advancing behind them, and then quickly surrounding the isolated tanks and destroying them with panzerfausts. A German officer exclaimed “ If I could get three Divisions of warriors like you boys, I will chase the Russkies back to the Don in three months!”.

If only….. the Siege of Budapest was costing them dearly, when they were pulled out on the 1st of November, the last few days being shelled and shot at by snipers constantly, they had lost in 10 days of defence, 40% of their strength, but had given all the defenders and enemy a strong impression of their skills. They were pulled back to nearby Isazeg, East of Budapest, to what they describe as a terrible defensive position, in full view on a ridge line, that allowed no daytime movement, and were hampered by accurate mortar fire and more snipers, they said it seemed to be what a WW1 combat would have been like. They lost another 10% before being withdrawn completely, with the promise of replacing them with a division, the Germans when told this said “ Keep your Division, and give us back your Paratroopers!”.

They went back to continued to fight after being re-built, and with the new 2nd Parachute Battalion, the force became a Regiment. New recruits from Levant (Youth – 17 to 18 years old) paratroopers, and old hands were used to form the 2nd Battalion, which after a few months of training was thrown into the fight. They both then continued to fight, with the new 2nd Battalion (1400 men) being wiped out on the 27th of December around the town of Ipolyszalka, which the Hungarians call their equivalent of the fighting at Bastogne, but with the opposite result.

The hopeless fighting continued through to January and February of 1945, with the fighting during the day and running at night, to try to outrun the advancing Soviets and surrender to the Western Allies. This continued through to May 1945 where they could finally surrender to the British, with some paratroopers, leaving their unit to try to find their families, the officers let them. Some made it to the British lines and made it eventually to the UK, and Canada, others were put into Soviet Gulags.

Well that was a tale and a half, but well worth it I think, and there are even more great stories to read about, given the amount of new English language sources being published these days both in books and online. So what is the best way to represent these if you want to in game? I would mix German and Hungarian troops to give them a more elite look. When I made mine up I used a mix of Herman Goering Division troops and Hungarian riflemen, so the officers and NCOs were mostly German figures that had boots and forage caps, and also mixed in some German weapons, that they had picked up in the cauldron that was the siege of Budapest. I also gave a lot of them the Hungarian 3 tone, of Khaki, Olive and red brown, to make them stand out. I think it gives you a very distinctive force on the board.

The formation is not in the main book, but as an alternate formation in the Command Card deck, with a lot of other unique units, so I think well worth it to get it. It has a main formation, and some other cards explaining how to upgrade the rest of the units.

It does increase the cost of the Rifle Company it is partially based off significantly, but it is well worth it I feel, with Fearless 3+ Motivation, and a Veteran 3+ skill. These guys will be hanging around to the bitter end, and will be able to use their 3+ skill in assault and to blitz to get that crucial extra movement out of their Movement orders. I would play these pretty much as I would an elite German infantry company, with the exception of not having the Stormtrooper rule the Germans have.

Here is the list I put together, it is mostly based of the main Parachute Company, with some Hungarian Panthers and 150mm Rocket Launchers (Nebelwerfers) as support and my trusty Csaba armoured cars. I also managed to slip in a few Bofors AA guns, but mostly to use against light tanks and armoured cars, or if I’m lucky enough to actually hit something with them in their AA role.

This is meant to be a mostly defensive list, so using the 75mm anti-tank guns, Bofors, and Panthers to restrict the attacking enemies’ movements and funnel them where you want them. A Panther hull-down can do a lot of bullying, with most enemy armour wanting to avoid it, and it also has the mobility to chase them if needed. I would keep the 75mm in ambush if there is an option, rather than the Panthers, and the Panthers have the mobility to move out of a bad area, the 75mm are best used to keep the enemy guessing, and can make a mess of any tank with a good flank shot from ambush.

We also have a large Para Platoon to assault with, and then to hold any objective you take, using the Panzerschrek and the HMG, when you want to counter-attack. Just make sure you bring your HQ to help with those morale rolls!! The smaller one can hold your objective, with the mortars and Panthers. The scout platoon can either hang back to hold another objective, or help take one with the larger platoon.

We have mortars and 150mm Rocket launchers to soften the enemy up, and Scouts and Csaba armoured cars to give you that extra deployment area extension in missions that allow it, make sure you use this, a lot of players forget.

Big Four Of Late War – Axis Allies

The Big Four of Late-War got excited about Bagration: Axis-Allies. They’re preparing new armies, add-ons to old forces, and even some terrain. Check out some of the work they’ve in the articles and links below!


Switching Sides: A Romanian Detour

If you spent any time in the Battlefront Studio over the past 8 or so years it would come as no surprise that a number of us have soft spots for the Finns, Hungarians and Romanians. Whilst they may not be one of the “Big Four” nations many of us have built Axis Allies armies of the years; from Andrew’s winter Finns, to Victor’s, Wayne’s, and my Hungarian armies, to a Mid War Romanian army that I painted before joining the team. Needless to say when Victor suggested a small detour project I thought “Why not!” The only question was what do do?

Switching Sides: A Romanian Detour…


Another Trip Around The Hun

My first book as a Graphic Designer at Battlefront was ‘Stalin’s Europe’ back in 2010. This was the first book to introduce Hungarians to Late War, and they were my first Flames Of War army.

Another Trip Around The Hun…


StuG (Sturmi) Life!

I got into the office late one day and Victor ambushed me and said “Chris and I have been talking, and we’re doing an Axis-Allies detour… and by the way, you’re doing the Finns… all you need to paint is 11 Sturmis”, and just like that I had another army to paint.

Everyone has or needs a gaming friend like Victor ‘The Enabler’ Pesch.

As it so happens, I was actually already tempted to do a Finnish army at some point anyway, this just moved it up the schedule. Finns are an often romanticized army, reflecting their David versus Goliath struggle that we all love, which is why they’ve always been a popular and requested army in Flames Of War. I’ve personally been interested in them since watching Talvisota (The Winter War) about 15 years ago, I’ve just never had the time to paint the army.

StuG (Sturmi) Life!…


Huszár

I’ve been collecting and painting Hungarian forces since the we first published out first Flames Of War Hungarian intelligence briefing back under the 2nd Edition of the Flames Of War Rules. With both the Bagration: Axis Allies for Late-war, and Hungarian Steel for Mid-war coming out I thought I’d revisit my Hungarian forces and see what more I can add. The new plastic Zrínyi is very tempting, and I’m sure I will paint a few of them, but I have one glaring hole in my collection, some cavalry. The Hungarians are famous for their horsemanship as well as being the inspiration for the introduction of a type of light cavalry to armies across Europe, the Hussar, or Huszár in Hungarian.

Huszár!…


Rohamágyús Üteg

Here’s my finished Zrínyi Assault Gun Battery. I love this little assault gun. It’s like a Semovente on steroids, or a StuG trying to hide behind a wall…

I chose to go with plain green as I thought the shape and details of the kits are interesting enough (glorious rivets!), and I think it helps the markings stand out. However, part of me is still tempted to do a second formation one day in 3 colour camo.

Rohamágyús Üteg…

Building a Finnish Starter Force based on the Sturmi Assault Gun Formation

With the launch of the Bagration: Axis Allies release, I thought I would look at how a new player, or someone on a budget, can get a Finnish force on the table that would be semi-competitive or at least hold its own with the focus on the Sturmi Assault Gun Formation.  For the new player, it opens the door to playing Flames of War without needing to buy, assemble or paint too much and get into playing the game quicker.

There is no starter box for the Finns, so we need to build it up based on standard boxes.  We will need two Stug boxes as the core of the force.

OK – let us have a look at the formation and see how what we need for our force:

That is, it – nothing else in the formation.  You can take seven to eleven Stugs.  We will need some support for them and that will include some infantry artillery etc.  We can also look at allied German units such as Tigers.  What attracted me to this formation is the rule of cool.  You can get add on Armour packs for the plastic Stug sprue to turn it into a Sturmi and give them a distinctive look.  Looking at the stats for the Sturmi, you can see they are Fearless Careful Veteran with the ability to assault on 4+, counterattack on 4+ and remounting on 2+!  OK let us have a look at a couple of lists based on 105pts:

A maxed-out formation with some infantry support and some more flavour with the captured soviet equipment in the support slots.   The armoured cars provide spearhead and can protect the flank against light armour and enemy armoured cars.  The BT-42s provide a template and are armoured and mobile so can move if there is counterbattery fire.  The Log and Concrete Armour Command Card provides some protection against FP5+/6 weapons if it fails its armour save.  Roll a 5+ to stop the shot cold.

To buy this army you need only to purchase the following for $311:

2 x GBX143 Fallschirmjäger StuG Assault Gun Platoon   100
1 x GSO208 Plastic StuG Sprue     10
4 x FSO120 Sturmi Add-ons     40
1 x FI702 Infantry Platoon     27
1 x SSO201 Plastic ISU Sprue     10
3 x FI010 BT-42 Assault Gun     39
1 x SBX46 BA-10 Armoured Car Platoon     37
1 x GE943 Axis Allies Decals (Hungarians, Finns and Romanians)     13
1 x FW269FC Bagration: Finnish Command Cards     10
1 x FW269 Bagration: Axis Allies     25
TOTAL $311

Next, we look at providing some high end AT14 which we can only get from allied German tank units such as the Tiger, Panther and Panzer IV/70.

OK so we now have some AT14 in the list and still have infantry and artillery and our core is still maxed out.  To buy this army you need only to purchase the following for $300:

2 x GBX143 Fallschirmjäger StuG Assault Gun Platoon   100
3 x FSO120 Sturmi Add-ons     30
1 x FI702 Infantry Platoon     27
1 x GBX140 Tiger Heavy Tank Platoon (Plastic)     50
4 x FSO501 76K/02 (76mm gun)     32
1 x FSO106 Artillery Crew     13
1 x GE943 Axis Allies Decals (Hungarians, Finns and Romanians)     13
1 x FW269FC Bagration: Finnish Command Cards     10
1 x FW269 Bagration: Axis Allies     25
TOTAL $300

Now we could shake it up a bit and drop the infantry, change the artillery, and replace the Tigers to get more bang for our buck of taking three Panzer IV/70s and keep the theme of assault guns.  How would this look:

To buy this army you need only to purchase the following for $293:

2 x GBX143 Fallschirmjäger StuG Assault Gun Platoon   100
3 x FSO120 Sturmi Add-ons     30
1 x GBX160 Panzer IV/70 Platoon (Plastic)     50
3 x FI010 BT-42 Assault Gun     39
2 x FI160 Landsverk SP AA     26
1 x GE943 Axis Allies Decals (Hungarians, Finns and Romanians)     13
1 x FW269FC Bagration: Finnish Command Cards     10
1 x FW269 Bagration: Axis Allies     25
TOTAL $293

The Finns have a great tank formation to take as a core force with a plethora of allied German support or formations.  If you are a German player, consider taking a platoon or formation of Sturmi as allied support – give you an extra boost with the best Stug in the game.

Having German Allies provides future proofed support options for the Finns as the release timeline progresses.  With Kingtigers, Jagdpanthers and Jagdtigers still to come, you will be able to provide AT17 support for your Finnish force!

If you were considering starting a Finnish force or just a formation, I hope this gives you some food for thought.