Firestorm: Kursk

with Andrew Haught

The battle lines have been drawn, the tanks have been fully serviced. It’s time for Firestorm: Kursk.

Firestorm Kursk
Firestorm is back and this time we are fighting around Kursk. Firestorm: Kursk recreates the two-pronged German attack around the town of Kursk in an effort to cut off the Soviet forces in the area. Of all the battles that occurred around Kursk, none quite compare to the battle of Prokhorovka, which ended up being one of the largest tank battles in military history.

 

The Campaign
This kit has everything you need to play a full Firestorm: Kursk campaign at your store or club. The campaign will consist of a series of Flames Of War games in which players attempt to capture areas from the enemy or recover those lost in earlier games. Each time a player attacks they place a marker on the map, once all the markers have been used the campaign is over and the side with the most victory points wins.

Battle of Prokhorovka
The 5th Guards Tank Army was one of the most powerful armoured forces fighting in the Battle of Kursk. It was formed in March 1943 from the brand-new 29th Tank Corps and the experienced 5th Guards Mechanised Corps, and gained the 18th Tank Corps as it moved to counterattack positions as the Germans attacked at Kursk. Once in position near Prokhorovka, it added the 2nd Tank Corps, 2nd Guards Tank Corps, and the 9th Airborne Division from the forces that had been delaying the German advance.

On 12 July 1943, this force of over 800 tanks attacked, including more than 500 T-34 tanks, throwing the Germans back in hectic, close-range battles. Phalanxes of tanks charged across the dry steppes, dodging the gullies that slashed the battlefield, crossing through the enemy formations to shoot at point-blank range into the flanks of their tanks. The hills and state farms that the Germans had captured the previous day were littered with burning tanks by nightfall.

Massive Tank Battles
Battle of Prokhorovka being one of the largest tank battles in Military history, makes it the perfect place to play large tank battles. We suggest you play at least 150 point forces with an emphasis on tanks formations. This is the perfect time to pull out every T-34 you have or that large Panther army you been trying to play but was too many points for a standard 100 point game. The 150 points is only a suggestion—got a large Tiger tank company and you want to fight at 200 points? Go for it! The more tanks, the better.

Unlike normal areas on the map, Prokhorovka is fought over a series of battles. So you can stage loads of large tank battles during your campaign. Each victory at Prokhorovka will earn the winning side a control token that is placed on the Prokhorovka Battle Track. Each control token on the Prokhorovka Battle Track is worth one victory point and is added to the totals on the Firestorm Kursk map once all battles have been played, so winning in Prokhorovka can decisive when calculating victory points at the end of the campaign.

You can also check out Firestorm: Stalingrad here…

Beutepanzers- Modifications and Markings

with J.C Von Winterbach

These two articles are taken from the Flames of War website and combined for this launch event. There is a link at the bottom of the page to the original articles with plenty more pictures.

There are many ways these Beutepanzers were modified which I will be listing in this article. Some of the modifications ranged from Panzer III/IV cupolas, notek lights, stowage bins (fitted to the rear of the turret or the sides of the hull), antennas, and schürzen. These modifications can add a very unique and historic feel to your Beutepanzers, making them stand out even more on the table.

Notek Lights
All of the Notek lights were designed to be used under blackout restrictions so the indirect lighting/hooded light concept was essential for the front light when the standard/main lights couldn’t be used so to avoid being spotted from ground or aerial observers.

The rear Notek light had a lot more functionality, it could used as a normal rear brake light or used to maintain proper vehicle spacing at night under black-out conditions. It worked on the concept of optical convergence at different distances, which is why the rectangular shaped light had two sets of two different sized lights. The distance between vehicles dictated what patterns of the four lights were visible and provided a constant frame of reference to avoid vehicles ramming into each other in the dark.

An ideal distance between vehicles meant two lights were visible. If only one was visible, the distance between two vehicles was too great while four visible looks meant the distance was too close.

Tactical Markings
The numbering system used on the Beutepanzers were the same as those of the normal German tanks being the three-digit or four-digit standard (1024, 895, 354, 48, 9, etc.)

T-34 mod 1942/43 using a three-digit number on the side (Frontal section) of the turret & on the rear panel of the turret.

But some of these Beutepanzers received a different numbering system called the E-Mark. This numbering system includes the letter “E”, followed by a roman numeral and a further two-digit or a three-digit number. On most assumptions the letter “E” indicates Erbeutet (Captured).

T-34 mod 1941/42 using an E-Mark numbering system on the side (Rear section) of the turret.

Position of Markings
The areas where these identification marks were located where mainly on the frontal, sides and rear panels of the turret and hull. The turret hatches and the barrel of the main gun, as well as under the barrel of the main gun, and track guards were also used as locations for identification marks. These signs were usually painted considerably large.

Other Markings
Some of the markings found to be painted on the Beutepanzers ranged from the Balkenkreuz, Swastikas, Divisional or Sub-Divisional Insignias, individual inscriptions or simply a German flag.

Among the individual inscriptions found on the Beutepanzer were the names of Soldiers (Emil, Karl, Radetzski, Jaeger, etc.), the names of wild animals (Tiger, Leopard, etc.), the names of municipals or provinces (Dantzig, Saar, etc.).

M4 Sherman (M4A2) using a flag that’s tied down on the front panel of the tank.

Kill Rings (Victory Rings) where also paint onto the barrel of the main gun to show how many victories the Beutepanzer & its crew had accomplished.

Tank Colors
Beutepanzers saw just as much change to their paint schemes as the rest of the German Armored Core due to the different periods, areas of operation, seasons and special needs. For starters, a lot of the Beutepanzers were repainted in the German Panzer Grey color, but as times went forward, these tanks also changed as the German tanks changed. From the beginning of 1943 they began to use camouflage patterns (Please refer to Art of War II for a complete list of German Camouflage painting schemes throughout the periods) on the Beutepanzer. These tanks also followed the winter camouflage paint scheme. But records & photos also show that a of of these tanks were left with their original colour scheme and went unchanged, except for their identification markings.

You can read J.C’s Modifications article and see more pictures here…
And more markings pictures here…

 

 

 

Painting Ghosts Part II

with Gareth Richards

Up next was the camo scheme, taking from the painting guide at the back of Ghost Panzer book applied Army Green and applied the camo pattern, this is still a weak point of my painting and something that hopefully will improve as I paint more tanks. In the cervices I worked in Panzer Grey mixed with black to add working dirt, this was also drybrushed onto the barrel and the wheels to add more dirt and weathering to the model.

Before applying decals which I will do as batch run for the entire army I added on a drybrush of Dry Dust to the edges of the Ferdinand to add a bit of pop colour to help it lift from the table.

 

 

 

The Ferdinand, table-ready (barring decals and battle damage) is ready for its first game. I will be starting on the Panthers this week and then onto the Panzers, aiming to have them completed and ready for decals and weathering and then onto to some games the following week.

 

Casey’s Waffen SS

with Casey Davies

Much like Soviets, over the years I’ve painted a vast amount of Waffen SS, Initially I built this as part of a 600 point staff army (insert link to article here)

 

Going back to Kursk is a chance to dust these models off again and have a few games. The largest part of my painted collection is a Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie.

Ghost Panzers has really given these a new lease of life. Under Eastern Front I always found it difficult to build Armoured Panzergrenadier lists because the Panzergrenadier platoons were so expensive, while Ghost Panzers has made them much more affordable.

How Long Does a Turn Take?

A common question we get is how long a turn of Flames of War takes. It can’t be instant, because setting up mortars takes longer than a second, but it also can’t be a whole day as an assault doesn’t have to take that long.

See Phil’s answer here to clear everything up:

‘The length of a turn is one Command Cycle: the time it takes for you as the force commander to receive reports, assess the situation, issue new orders and have them carried out (or interrupted by enemy action, necessitating a new command cycle).
As Von Clauswitz wrote long ago, “Everything in war is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult.” and “Action in war is like movement in a resistant element. Just as the simplest and most natural of movements, walking, cannot easily be performed in water, so in war it is difficult for normal efforts to achieve even moderate results.”
Everything take much longer when you are trying not to be killed. Soldiers who can hit a target 99% of the time in training will fire a hundred rounds to score a hit because exposing themselves enough to find a clear target will expose themselves as a clear target to every enemy soldier. A duel between two tanks can take hours, with only a dozen shots exchanged as they creep about in a tiny space, trying to get a shot in without getting shot in turn.
Net result, most turns (when compared to the time it takes for a real battle to move forward by the same amount) are likely to be 15 to 30 minutes long. Some, such as when the action is at close quarters, may be quicker, others such as when your forces are waiting for a minefield to be gapped, could be hours long’.

Andrew’s Speedy Assaulters

with Andrew Haught

With another launch event I once again get a chance to dust off one of my old favourite armies and give it a bit of TLC and V4 update. This time I am going to dive into my old Rota Razvedki reconnaissance company.  I originally built the list for V3 Late War using the Red Bear book.  With their inclusion in the Red Banner book, I feel that I need to re-tweak the army so that I could run it in both Late and Mid War.

The Images in this article are in progress shots of my old list, I did the math and I think I painted this army originally seven years ago. I am planning to do some plastic updates to my army, over the release I will work on the ZIS-3 guns. After the release, I have further plans. First I am going to update the SU-85s to plastic and then I am going to rebase the infantry as some of the old basing has started to separate from the base.

Full warning: I love Universal Carriers, and will use any excuse to put them on the table. There is just something about their design that clicks with me. Thanks to the Red Banner Command Cards I get to use Carriers in my army, and I am going to get as many as I can.

It’s All About That Speed
When I am running an aggressive list the first thing I think about how long it’s going to take to get my troops to the objective, and how many turns will my opponent get to shot my troops along the way. One of the features of the Reconnaissance Company is that their combat platoons all have Spearhead. This rule is massive, getting a free move before the game means that I can get a full turns worth of movement without risking any enemy fire.    

Deadly Assaulters
Now speed is worth nothing unless you have some sort of payoff. The Infantry units in the Reconnaissance platoons have a massive 2+ to hit in assaults, meaning that if they can get into an assault they will kill almost anything in their way. The formation does have a weakness you need to be prepared for—they are really small—so you do not have the ability to take on heavy losses. So getting the extra movement form Spearhead is critical to your aggressive strategy.

To make my troops more of a threat I added two Command Cards to my Company Commander, the first one, Tenacity gives my HQ and any platoon he is attached to counterassault 2+. The second card I added was Ferocious Valour, this card allows my Company Command team to roll two dice in assaults. These two cards make it worth it to risk my Company Commander in assaults, and on top of that the HQ will add two more deadly assaulters to my assaults.

Universal Carriers Are Just Too Cool Looking
Like I stated above I love Universal Carriers, but apart from looks there is a good reason to run these awesome transports in your list. When using the US or German halftracks you have two stands of infantry in each transports, so each time one is destroyed you may lose 1/3 of your platoon. If you take the extra Carriers when you lose one transport you are only risking one stand of infantry, only 1/6 of you platoon. Also they just look cooler, so yeah why wouldn’t you use them?

Support
My troops are good at one thing: assaulting and shooting infantry. This leaves a big gap in the form of Anti-Tank (AT), so I really need to add some AT assets. I could also use an artillery battery to help get my assaults to go in. Luckily, the Soviets have a unit that can multitask as artillery and anti-tank: the 76mm Artillery Battery. The flexibility of the 76mm Artillery Battery makes it ideal for my list. But I don’t think  that will be enough AT, I think I want to add some mobile AT. First off I want to add the cheap and efficient SU-76s to my list, they have a great gun and are cheap enough to allow me to take the more expensive SU-85 option as well. SU-85s are a bit pricey but worth their points, they have a higher to hit stat as well as a massive Anti-Tank 12 gun, giving me the ability to threaten both Tigers and Panthers.

Andrew’s Speedy Assaulters
3 pts Reconnaissance Company HQ
1pt Tenacity Command Card
-Ferocious Valour (3 Point)

Armoured Reconnaissance Platoon(9 points)
– Universal Carriers 6x Universal Carriers (3 points)

Armoured Reconnaissance Platoon (9 points)
– Universal Carriers 6x Universal Carriers (3 points)

Armoured Reconnaissance Platoon (9 points)
– Universal Carriers 6x Universal Carriers (3 points)

Support
76mm Artillery Battery (8 points)
-4x 76mm guns

SU-76 Light SP Battery (13 points)
-4x SU-76

SU-85 Tank-Killer Battery (36 points)
-3x SU-85

Tactics
This is not an army that wants to sit back and defend objectives, it’s all about forward movement, a win fast or die fast kinda army. I plan on always choosing Maneuver or Attack when using More Missions to make sure I am never fully on the defence.

In games I plan to blitz my infantry towards the objectives, while having my SU tanks provide covering fire. The 76mm Artillery Battery role will be determined by my opponents forces, if they have a lot of infantry and gun teams I will be bombarding them as much as possible, if they have a massive tank army then I will use my spearhead to get them into a good position and use them to help thin out the opposing tanks.

Final Thoughts
I love the new life that V4 is giving my old armies, with the V4 formations I feel like I have more freedom to create the exact army I want. I am a really big fan of Build Command Cards, they let me as a designer add more interesting options that did not fit in the book while at the same time I get all the weird and wonderful things that I want. It’s a simple card pack but it adds so much to the game.

What eastern front armies interest you? How would you build a Soviet Reconnaissance Company? Why not tell us and join in the global discussions on our Facebook Flames of War group.

~Andrew

Gareth’s Ghost Panzers

with Gareth Richards

With the release of the upcoming books Ghost Panzers and Red Banner myself and Chris sat down and planned our next armies. Chris being the resident Soviet player grabbed the Red Banner book, meaning that I would be taking a German list: the first in a long time.

Taking the book over the weekend and having a read through (and also watching the great series on tanks on Netflix) my choices were narrowed down to a couple of the lists. As much as I loved the idea of a small but hard hitting Tiger or Panther force, I wanted a few more models on the table. So I jumped at the Mixed Panzer Company.

Using the upcoming Bӓke’s Fire Brigade as the core of my force my list was starting to take shape. I knew I wanted a couple of the big tanks—Panthers and one of my favourite tanks of the war, the mighty Ferdinand. So with a mix of Panzer III’s and IVs I feel that I have a good basic core to my force. Looking to the future I am planning on  Armoured Panzergrenadier Company.

Mixed Panzer Company
HQ
21 pts 1x Panzer IV, 1x Panzer III

Troops
27pts Panzer IV Platoon, 2 x Panzer IV 
25pts Panzer III Platoon, 3 x Panzer III
36 pts Panther Tank Platoon, 2x Panther 

Support
17pts Ferdinand Tank-Hunter Platoon, 1x Ferdinand 

Total 126 points

If I Could Turn Back Time…

with Luke Glover

I started my Flames Of War journey earlier this year when I was invited an joined in the annual Battlefront Staff trip down to Panzerschreck. The aftermath of the weekend of fun was I now had ten Panzer IVs all painted and ready to go. Ghost Panzers has introduced the German Panzer IV to Mid War so this seemed like a great chance to take parts of it into a Mixed Panzer Company, expand my Flames Of War collection and get a Mid War army all set.

I partnered up with Andrew for Panzerschreck and we sat down to plan out what sort of forces we’d be taking for the Late War doubles. Early on I decided I quite liked tanks and eventually I settled on Panzer IV Company. This paired up well with Andrew’s Finns who would bring mortars, guns and an infantry company to round out our force and cover all the bases. Our plan was to go all out offense and take our chances and win big or lose big. The aftermath of the weekend of fun was I now had ten Panzer IVs all painted and ready to go.  

My games at Panzerschreck taught me some much needed respect for the T-34 (Andrew and I lost to a pair running absolutely massive T-34 companies) but also a great deal of pride in the effectiveness Panzer IVs that they easily became my favourite German tank. With that in mind I will be making a 120 point force using the Mixed Panzer Company. I like slightly larger games and means I’ll get a few more goodies on the table (as will my opponents).

First step will be deciding just how many Panzer IV Lates I’m bringing. First step will be filling out my mandatory picks. My Commander will be riding along in his Panzer IV (this guy passed an unbelievable amount of saves) and I’ll be taking a platoon of four. With AT 11 and front armour 6 they’ll be able to take nearly all comers with very few questions outside of a KV or Churchill. To help out with those I’ll be bringing along two Panther tanks. Their tough armour is sure to attract some firepower but it will keep their eyes off the Panzer IVs with their aggressive +3 to be hit on working to my favour hopefully making the Panther a more tempting target to less powerful guns. Of course the downside is that those weapons that can penetrate the Panther reliably will be hitting more often so it’s a trade-off, but one I’m willing to try out since Panther tanks just look awesome.

With armour largely filling out the list (102 points to be exact) it’s time to look towards what else I need. Since I imagine the tanks will be the ones looking to take objectives I will need something that can hold the fort and take on infantry. For this I’ll be taking a full strength Grenadier Platoon in support and two sMG HMG teams. This will give me nice solid base of infantry with plenty of bodies and (hopefully) enough machine guns to deal with Soviet infantry based armies.

The overall battle plan for this list is fairly straightforward. The tanks themselves will be looking to take out the sorts of things that can destroy them ASAP. The Grenadiers will likely be expected to hold an objective, whether it’s in my own or if I have to take it from the enemy. I can’t rely on the Panthers for any tricks but hopefully they won’t need them

I expect this will be a fun army to paint up and model that adds on very well to my existing models. The new variety of tanks and infantry make this a hobby project I look forward to. I’m especially looking forward to seeing how the Panthers do on the table and start painting up the two I need. With some great results it could well suit me moving towards a Panther company but for now one project at a time!

~Luke

Beginning to Paint Ghosts

with Gareth Richards

After a busy week last week managed to get a little build time over the lunch breaks.

So up first are the armies big guns the Ferdinand and Panthers. I like to have a fairly dark scheme to my army so I start my undercoat with Grenadier Green before the base coat of Panther Yellow.

 

 

 

Next up is a wash and building the Panther Yellow back onto the tank before the camo and decals and then the weathering. I am a going for a dirty battle-worn tank rather than factory fresh.